December 2006


I’ve been meaning to write about learning to purl for quite a while now, but due to my slow progress, there had been nothing much to say about it (and nothing to show for it) until recently.

About 3 weeks ago, I FINALLY figured out how to purl. After 20 years, I finally figured out the rest of the important basics of knitting on my own. My mom taught me a couple things when I was a kid, but it wasn’t enough to get very far. In my many attempts to learn over the years, I have picked up the needles only to put them down after a few days, because I was so easily discouraged from making mistakes that I didn’t know how to avoid or fix. I simply didn’t know what I was doing. While embarassed at having taken so long to get to the current state of things (i.e. it shouldn’t have been THIS difficut to learn), I chalk my unstrategic and frustrating experiences up to using unsuitable tools for the beginner and not being more resourceful.

So what was different this time around?

First, I was more determined. And inspired. I REALLY wanted to do something with my hands.

Also, after much research, I found a book on knitting that I could actually understand and made knitting quite doable. It introduced to me a few basics that ended up being the missing links to my hodge-podge knowledge of knitting. Once I grapsed these foundational bits, everything just came together!

Thirdly, because I started to understand the anatomy of a stitch, I became more comfortable with making mistakes. Because I had a good idea of how to fix them, there was hope yet in finishing a project that I could be proud of.

And lastly, I bought myself some good quality yarn and a pair of bamboo knitting needles suitable for newbies. Having the right tools made a very big difference. Previously, I was trying to learn using thin yarn and thin, slippery needles.

Feeling empowered and fuelled by a curiosity about what I might accomplish, I’ve been knitting like crazy in the past couple weeks, wherever I can, whenever I can. To date, I’ve knitted up a scarf in a lovely poppy colour with a ribbed stitch pattern. I was planning to give it to Dot, but I’m tempted to keep this first project for myself.

So beware! I might impose one of my hand-knit creations on you some time in the future!

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Yippee! I received my Over the Rhine CDs yesterday. Apparently, they were shipped out December 8 from the States, and I was dubious about whether I would get them before Christmas. For the past 2 weeks, I have been religiously checking my mailbox and with each passing day of not receiving my orders, I braced myself more for disappointment. But they are here now, just in time. After coming home from late-night snacks, I spent the remainder of the last night knitting and savouring these two albums I purchased: Snow Angels and Drunkard’s Prayer. Such simple, satisfying pleasures! It was the first time in a long while that I felt content.

So far, I have been managing the demands of December by staying away from the malls and spending time with people I want to spend time with. In fact, I am quite pleased with how I’ve been using my time this month by connecting more with my coworkers and catching up with friends from high school and university. Trying to “be present” to the people around me helps me to appreciate and be inspired by the Advent and Incarnation of Christ even more. When I get caught up with myself and my priorities, I can be quite flakey in my relationships and commitments, and while I might appear to be “there” (to unperceptive people), I actually am not. Mentally I am absent. I end up not listening very well because I am thinking about other things, like what I’m going to do next, or how to make my brilliant point, or how to alleviate my social anxieties, etc.

I really think that the greatest gift we can offer each other is our attention and presence. “Greatest” because it is the most difficult, requiring us to put aside some part of ourselves, if only temporarily, to reach out to each other. This sacrifice often doesn’t feel good, like an inconvenience or a bother or maybe even a setback. And yet, this is exactly what the Advent of Jesus is about.

Hadn’t planned on writing about “deep thoughts” in this post, but here I am, and not inappropriately irrelevant. Don’t know why, but it gets me each time when I ponder it, this truth that God is present, that He is with us.

Anyways, here’s another musical Christmas treat for you, a track from Over the Rhine’s Christmas album:

[odeo=http://odeo.com/audio/4471723/view]

So it’s been a long year
Every new day brings one more tear
Till there’s nothing left to cry

My, my how time flies
Like little children hiding their eyes
We’ll make it disappear
Let’s start a brand new year

Darlin’ Christmas is coming
Salvation army bells are ringing
Darlin’ Christmas is coming
Do you believe in angels singing
Darlin’ the snow is falling
Falling like forgiveness from the sky

If I could have anything
What would I want this new year to bring
Well, I’d want you here with me

Tear these thorns from my heart
Help the healing to start
Let’s set this old world free
Let’s start with you and me

I like all sorts of music, but I grew up on folk, the stuff of my parents’ formative years. The acoustic guitar has an incredibly nostalgic effect on me.

Here’s a song by The Innocence Mission that I’m listening to these days, with plenty of full acoustic strumming and finger-picking :

[odeo=http://odeo.com/audio/4584253/view]

Tomorrow On The Runway

Old days, don’t come to find me,
the sun is just about to climb up over there.
‘While my heart is sinking I do not want my voice
to go out into the air’.
Did you leave the darkness without me?
You’re always miles ahead.
And you’re standing in tomorrow on the runway.

Oh be the music in my head,
the air around my bed, oh be my rest.
Replace the small disgraces of
the times and places that I never really left.
Did you leave the darkness without me?
You’re always miles ahead.
And you’re standing in tomorrow on the runway.

Oh I want to fly, fly forward into the light,
be alive, to come alive,
on the leaf-bright Friday drive,
sudden horses at the red light,
turn around, see clearer ways to go now.

Something that you ex-Vancouverites might want to know about if you haven’t heard already:

The windstorm last week did a lot of damage to our beloved Stanley Park. About 20 percent of the Park’s trees, unable to withstand the force of the wind, were uprooted. Yes, even those big, thick, stately ones, estimated to be a few hundred years old. Also, parts of the Seawall are badly torn up. Landslides were triggered by the storm and parts of the Park’s perimeter remain unstable.

It’s so sad, even though some people say it’s part of the natural cycle (though I can’t help but the storms are more byproducts of global warming). It’s going to take years (generations, some are saying) to restore these trees and the Park. See the Globe and Mail’s article and one from the Vancouver Sun for fuller reports on the situation.

Here’s a picture of an area in Stanley Park where the trees were flattened by the winds. Absolutely heartbreaking.
Stanley Park trees uprooted

From the Guardian today:

Climate change In 2006, the public, politicians and industry have all shown significant signs that tackling global warming is on the agenda after scientific studies showed the pace of change gathering speed. John Vidal reports

I suppose this is good news. After all, it’s better late than never to change. But because it’s got to be a systemic, global, cooperative effort, I (in my lack of faith in people and perhaps my ignorance of politics and economics) can’t imagine how that would come about. There’s too much money to be made in continuing to be irresponsible.

It’s been a while since I last posted on this thread, so here’s the next installment finally.

To be frank, while I became more proactive in expanding my network of men this past spring, I was really cautious about online dating. I simply didn’t know what to expect. So, to manage my anxieties about the process, I established some guidelines and principles. After thinking things through carefully, I set out to prove two very specific things to myself that I felt online dating would be the best medium for (hence “the experiment”):

  1. That there are available, intelligent men out there;
  2. That I could attract these kind of men.

Also, I was curious to find out whether faith compatibility would be an issue. Paul (as in the apostle) teaches that it is, so I have generally been keeping on the lookout for men sharing the same faith. BUT, it’s an incredibly limiting criterion. There doesn’t seem to be many available Christian men out there. And although I know firsthand the stress of being brought up by parents with conflicting values, I simply wasn’t sure that I couldn’t handle the consequences of being “yoked” with someone with different beliefs. So, knowing that I wouldn’t seriously get involved with anyone I met online, I decided to cast a wider net rather than be too restrictive. Thus, my only non-negotiable filters were:

  • Male
  • Aged between 31 and 41
  • Live within 75 miles
  • Must not be looking for an intimate encounter

Some other principles I stuck to:

  1. Show, don’t tell. I put my handy-dandy language skills and aesthetics to good use in writing up my profile. Nothing makes for more boring reading than giving people a list of my traits. To start, I tried going that route, but ended up boring myself and not finding my own profile very credible! I figured if a man was able to read in between the lines and found me interesting, then he’s likely to be intelligent.
  2. Post an interesting image. Actually, if you want to get some attention quickly, it works in your favour to post a picture of yourself. But I didn’t because–well, I will be honest here. In some preliminary digging around the database of profiles, I came across some people I knew and I didn’t want to be recognized in turn 😳 . Again, I figured if someone was intrigued enough by my writing and was willing to go along with my level of comfort, then that’s cool.
  3. Simply wait for the fish to bite. I didn’t want to spend a whole of time on the computer, so I generally desisted from initiating contact unless I encountered a profile I really liked.

Sticking to these guidelines proved to be very satisfying and resulted in little repercussion. In my next post on this topic, I will get into greater detail about these “results.”

Here’s a delightful little Christmas treat to share with you all. It’s an animated video for Sufjan‘s “Put the Lights on the Tree” by Tom Eaton. Enjoy!

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