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Prisoner of winter

All weekend I worked crazy hours to help cover for an ill coworker. So far this winter everyone at the bakery has lost a few days from the plague, except me. So far my immune system has remained robust against the onslaught of craptasticly rotten weather and interactions with my flu-zombie coworkers. I don't know if I can weather yet another winter without the flu, but I have my fingers crossed!

I have been hit hard with the winter blues this year. This is the first year in a decade where we have not been able to run off south for a  week or two and it appears to be taking its toll. Even more than the fun and the sand of my winter getaways, I think the anticipation of escape is a soothing balm to my winter dulled soul. This winter, between my retail job where I am low woman on the seniority list, and Michael's contract work, it is nose to the grindstone. We are making hay while the sun shines, while ironically not being able to chase the literal sun. Oh well, being a grown up sucks.

I am currently procrastinating from gearing up and tackling the record snowfall we had last night. I made it in the driveway after a long and exhausting shift yesterday and then ignored the blizzard for the rest of the evening to snuggle with My Sweetie. Now it is time to pull on my pants and tackle the snow. We do it the old-fashioned way with a shovel because my proud Winnipeggian husband distains the "needless" size and expense of a snow blower. Who needs a gym membership when exercise just falls from the sky?

Unhappy harvest

I did not expect to be picking apples first thing this morning but...

During the night, my lovely hybrid apple tree "broke". One of the branches, very heavy with fruit, split right off the tree. I am quite sad as it a beautiful and unusual tree. It contains branches from four different varieties a apple and so produces both yellow and red apples. I planted it originally as a joke for Michael as the symbol of his knight's household is a tree with golden fruit on one side and red on the other. Sure, most people don't choose plants based on heraldry, but how could I resist?! The branch that fell victim to its own apple producing success is the Macintosh side, so I am left with mostly golden apples now. I wonder if I can fix it somehow? The carpenter in me just wants to screw it back together, but I suspect living wood should be treated with more respect than dead wood. As the tree is in my care, I will have to see what can be done for it. Poor thing!

Ch ch ch ch changes....



Wow, it has been a long time since I wrote anything here!
This Fall I am turning over a few leaves and making some life changes. Maybe being more present on social media should be one of those changes. Being busy all the time is losing its appeal, in part because it is isolating. I still love my life, but I miss my friends and I feel too much like an observer in their lives, rather than a participant.

It seems like a good time in my life to let go of some of the irritants and time wasting obligations. I am reclaiming the value of my time. It is funny how Labour Day feels like a more real "New Year's Day" than January first. In Ottawa, nothing changes between the end of December and the first of January. September, however, changes everything. The traffic changes, the kids go back to school, so the daytime stores and restaurants are quieter. The weather turns colder and even the colours of the landscape change. Sandals give way to boots, tank tops for sweaters. The BBQ displays are replaced by snow blowers and shovels. The evenings grow darker and my walks become nippy. Salads give way for soup. Fall is the real time for resolutions and change.

Painting

Today my plan had been to go to the event, but I have opted instead for the more grown up option of painting my laundry room. I tore it apart just before my vacation and it has been barely usable since. As the weekend is the only time I get a large chunk of time to devote to large projects, today is the day. With luck, I can get two coats of paint on before my Sweetie gets back from his roadtrip.

As painting is one of those jobs that involves doing a task and waiting before you can do the next task, I am breaking the day up by alternating between painting the walls and painting a new coronet. Yes, my break from painting is painting! The coronet is not an order, just a project I thought would be fun. I plan to sell it at Pennsic. So far it looks pretty spiffy. It is a good thing it is not in my size, or I might be tempted to keep it! :) I believe it will be the nicest coronet I have made so far, and it is certainly the most labour intensive.

Dec. 13th, 2014

This year again I am enjoying the bliss of being married to a Jewish man at Christmas. Having one entire side of the family that I don't have to buy gifts for or arrange holiday visits with, really takes a lot of the stress out of the season. We still put up lights and decorate a tree, because these are traditions I grew up with and I enjoy them, but how much I choose to do for the holiday is mostly driven by my own desires and preferences rather than a sense of obligation to others. If I choose not to bake shortbread or put up a tree or cook a turkey, that is fine with My Sweetie. The season is still a busy one as I do run a mail order business and it is the season on giving, but it is so nice to know that I can focus on getting the orders shipped rather than spending all my spare time in the mall battling crowds to find the perfect gift for a relative-by-marriage I see maybe once a year. I had a taste of all that Christmas stress and panic when I was married to my first husband, so it makes me grateful every year that the love of my life is easy to care for in December.


Happy arrivals

The last month has been seen much of my non-Weight Watchers time being devoted to making coronets. I have made 6 in the last few weeks. While it is amusing work for the most part, coronets are also enormously labor intensive! The two which took the most time were a pair of ex-Territorial Baron coronets. Unlike here, the MIddle Kingdom differentiates between those who have once held land and those who are just Barons of the Court by allowing the ex-Territorial Barons to wear coronets with 12 pearls rather than just 6. The couple wanted fully heraldic coronets, three inches high.The heraldry had to be painted on in leather dye which is fussier to work with than paint, but the result is quite lovely and glowy. All those pearls really make them pop!

Because the couple live in Michigan I needed to ship the coronets by UPS which caused me all sorts of separation anxiety. If anything happened to them in transit, I REALLY didn't want to have to remake them! I was pleased to see that they were delivered today.

I do hope their Excellencies like them!

Trollishness

I have a day of (mostly) trollishness ahead of me today and I am looking forward to it. I have lots of Pennsic prep to do and it will be nice to really  concentrate on that. I also took a bit of time to clear off some of my desk. It ha gone from  "a disaster" to "messy". I am good with that.

Today I need to work on some vows, but I think mostly I will concentrate on making belts and garters.

Morning jog

Today was such a cool, sunny morning I pried myself away form my work and went for a jog. I am by no means a "serious" runner. To quote Penny from the Big Bang Theory, "I just run until I get tired and then I grab a bear claw". Luckily my run didn't take me past a Tim Horton's.

I like running and I am not sure why I don't do I more often. I have an awesome neighborhood. The only traffic is the chipmunks foraging on the front lawns and the ridding mower taming the schoolyard lawn in time for Little League. It is a nice quick break from my work.

Last day....

It is our last full day in China so we have decided to spend it wandering the Old Town area and shopping. In a town famous for silk, pearls and jade, how could we not shop?

Shopping in Shanghai not for the faint of heart. I have shopped all over the world but I am blown away here by the endless variety of goods for sale and the number of people trying to sell them. Even some of the parks and public squares have vast pulsating markets underneath them and, as dusk falls, streets are closed off for "night markets".

This city is truly a shopping paradise!

Hello from China!

Despite being weary from an overnight sleeper train from Datong, today was about as wonderful a day as we could have!

We arrived bright and early in Xi'an and met our guide outside the train station. The museum we were supposed to visit today was closed so we changed our itinerary and visited the Hua Qing palace and hot springs. The palace is a bit off the usual tourist route, but it is the site of a classic Chinese love story so the romantic in me wanted to visit. It was a really beautiful and tranquil spot. The palace was the retreat of the Emperor's favorite mistress and great love. He fell hard for a dancer half is age (it is good to be Emperor!) and their passion has inspired many poets and musicians.

We were the only westerners in evidence and I was once again a fairly constant source of local amusement as well as a photo op for the other visitors. Many people want me to pose in pictures with them, sort of the way I might want to pose with an elephant or a camel. Westerners are pretty rare here, even in a tourist town like Xi'an, so with my blonde hair and blonde eyes, I am a curiosity. :)  While there are many tourists in China, most of them are Asian.

This was less true this afternoon however, when we visited the famous terracotta army of Emperor Qin Shi. This a world heritage site and rightly so. It is a truly amazing spectacle. I was awestruck by the sheer magnitude of the excavation. The restoration has been a massive undertaking, and it can really only give us a glimpse of what they all would have looked like when they were first created and painted. As a fun bonus, one of the farmers who discovered the warriors while he was digging a well, was on hand to greet visitors.

After our guide dropped us off at the hotel, we wandered around the city near our hotel, and discovered a street market. We strolled down the narrow alleys where merchants lined the streets selling goods from stalls and blankets and preparing a vast array of food. Everything from the city's famous dumplings and noodles to fruit and meat was being cooked up fresh for the hungry and adventuresome. We did a little shopping and then retired to our hotel for some noodles and beer.