Tuesday, October 8, 2013


We've been gone for five weeks now. We've spent three weeks at Tim's parents', one week with four of Tim's coworkers at the Transcend house, and one week at a seventh floor concrete sanctuary of a condo downtown. We're back there for a few nights. We are living on the back of a community, eating very large crumbs. Remember: We cannot become hermits. I cannot burn bridges. We need other people. They've fed us, taken vegetables off our hands, given us beds, lent us phones, driven us around. They've invited us over for supper and to stay for weeks.We're seeing a lot of our friends. We're seeing much more of the city. It's all practice for Germany, I suppose.

I need surprisingly little. Some of the things I've been hauling around with me: Annalena (my yellow road bike), a cloth tape measure, headphones, brown sugar, steel cut oats, laptop, paper clip stitch markers, four books of poetry (Bertolt Brecht, Emily Dickinson, Sylvia Plath, Stanley Kunitz), two scarves, two dresses, two hats, two hoodies, two mittens, a foil packet of black tea, a huge ball of wool yarn, a flat of mason jars, a pumice stone.

I've been borrowing books from friends and the library. I've read more than I did over the entire summer. Last night at the condo I canned green tomato salsa after Tim and I biked home and pillaged the tomato plants one last time. It has been suspiciously warm all autumn, but the contractor ferreted my parka away in a storage pod, and I am knitting a cardigan just in case. Simpkin mostly stays with us. He is a courteous, comforting, admirable cat.

In brutal contrast to Simpkin: contractors and insurance adjusters. Can I properly express how much I have grown to despise bureaucracy over this past month? The Circumlocution Office (Little Dorrit) could hardly seem more intent on doing absolutely nothing useful or reasonable.

I should sign off--it's 6:47 am and I need to leave for work. I've been working so much. It's hard. But I think the move is really going to happen. We jumped the gun and bought suitcases, and we apply for visas next week. I'm using some gorgeous free software to study German. Work on the house is supposed to start this week. We have three invitations for Thanksgiving dinner. Maybe we'll be home (for a while) by the end of the month.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

one more thing

Our house--the one we haven't been living in for a month, the one the contractors still haven't started working on--got broken into last night. Who knows when we'll go back. Life keeps telling us to leave. This time we actually plan to. For the moment, I keep having to ask for help, and the people around us are wonderful, and help. 

Sunday, September 22, 2013


Tim and I have become obsessed with the first two seasons of the BBC's Sherlock. When I found a fair isle chart on Ravelry for the motif from Benedict Cumberbatch's wallpaper, I remembered that Tim wanted a sock for his tablet, and cast on immediately.

(Raveled here.)

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Remember that this was also a good day

Tim and I finally took off to explore the North Saskatchewan river. We didn't make it past the city limits (I wanted to), but we are planning to go again before it snows. We feel mostly aimless these days, which can be awful and lethal, but also allows for spontaneous adventures, late nights, supper with friends, coffee with friends, frivolous reading.

Our Germany plans are coming together. I feel finished with this place. I'm satisfied to soak up what's left and then leave the rest. 

Sunday, September 8, 2013

better stars

This picture is making me a bit sad. What a summer.

Last Thursday night, late, it rained harder than I have ever seen it rain. We got a month's worth of rain in half an hour. It sounded like hail; it was only water. Tim and I were having a terrible fight. I sat in our doorway watching it for twenty minutes, then I came inside and went to bed. An unhomely aggressive gurgling got us up in time to see the city sewer begin backing up out of the floor drain in our bathroom. For the first time, I heard Tim swear. "Fuck." Our kitchen floor was swimming almost immediately. We called 311, we called Tim's parents, and I tried to make a dam of bath towels. Tim said, "Do you want to move far away?"

Once the thing that Tim is now calling 'the poo geyser' subsided, and the water started flowing back down the drain, the only thing to do was leave. We left. We spent last week with Tim's parents, who swooped in and rescued us. We've only been back to collect clothes and food, move all of our possessions into the bedroom, slop bleach water around, and rip things up. It feels brutal.

It also feels relieving. We are going to start new. Our plans are only half-formed, but we are planning to go to Germany shortly after Christmas. We will find renters for our hobbit hole. We will pack our things into a huge steel box. We will study the language. We will get Simpkin a cat-passport. We will have an adventure. For now, I've withdrawn from university classes and am working full-time.

Wish us luck.

Friday, August 30, 2013

The Jam Jars of 2013

A few images of domestic bliss which convey nothing about this horrible week. The things we get up to when in the throes of a small crisis, hey? I suspect that these jam jars mark the sputtering end of an era. Change is afoot. Would you like to share something bittersweet? I'd love to giveaway a jar of rhubarb jam. Comment on this post, and I'll draw a winner randomly on Monday night. 
                                                                                                                                    xx Lizzie

Wednesday, August 14, 2013


It's been an abominable summer for reading. But Thursday night at Tim's parents' house, I picked up Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? (Jeanette Winterson's new memoir), read 90 pages, and then had to take it home with me so I could finish it early on Saturday morning. I am now on a Winterson kick. This is why--she says:

"Christ's injunction that his followers must be twice-born, the natural birth and spiritual birth, is in keeping with religious initiation ceremonies both pagan and tribal. There has to be a rite of passage, and a conscious one, between the life given by chance and circumstance and the life that is chosen. 

There are psychological advantages to choosing life and a way of life consciously--and not just accepting life as an animal gift lived according to the haphazard of nature and chance. The 'second birth' protects the psyche by promoting both self-reflection and meaning. 

I know that the whole process very easily becomes another kind of rote learning, where nothing is chosen at all, and any answers, however daft, are preferred to honest questioning. But the principle remains good. I saw a lot of working-class men and women--myself included--living a deeper, more thoughtful life than would have been possible without the Church. These were not educated people; Bible study worked their brains. They met after work in noisy discussion. The sense of belonging to something big, something important, lent unity and meaning.

A meaningless life for a human being has none of the dignity of animal unselfconsciousness; we cannot simply eat, sleep, hunt and reproduce--we are meaning-seeking creatures. The Western world has done away with religion but not with our religious impulses . . . 

We shall have to find new ways of finding meaning--it it not yet clear how this will happen. 

But for the members of the Elim Pentecostal Church in Accrington, life was full of miracles, signs, wonders, and practical purpose." (67-68)

And she says:

"There was a person in me--a piece of me--however you want to describe it--so damaged that she was prepared to see me dead to find peace.

That part of me, living alone, hidden, in a filthy abandoned lair, had always been able to stage a raid on the rest of the territory. My violent rages, my destructive behaviour, my own need to destroy love and trust, just as love and trust had been destroyed for me. My sexual recklessness--not liberation. The fact that I did not value myself. I was always ready to jump off the roof of my own life. Didn't that have a romance to it? Wasn't that the creative spirit unbounded?


Creativity is on the side of health--it isn't the thing that drives us mad; it is the capacity in us that tries to save us from madness. 

The lost furious vicious child living alone in the bottom bog wasn't the creative Jeanette--she was the war casualty. She was the sacrifice. She hated me. She hated life." (171)

So much of how she describes her ideas (the human significance of religious ritual) and her upbringing (the results of growing up in a house where a compelling, sometimes comforting religion became twisted together with extreme instability, irrationality, and unhappiness), and her work to become healthy and sane through her own writing (she notes in the book that from the very beginning, she had to pit her own narrative against the narrative of her adopted mother) chimes--almost uncannily--with my own thoughts and experience. Forgive my presumption. It is exhilarating to find a kindred spirit. And also that books are still here.

(If you've got an hour to spare.)

Monday, August 5, 2013

tea and pickles

Drying herbs feels wonderfully crone-like. Some are for tea, some are for salve, some are for gin and olive oil infusions. I'm so glad we're able to do this in the city. 

Jam is not far behind. There's going to be a giveaway--maybe tomorrow.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

mixing prints

These are the replacements for the white birds which Simpkin mauled. 
These are meant to add some colour to our white bedroom, because winter is coming. 
These are waiting for a bit of embroidery.
These are hard proof that I've gotten better at sewing. 

Friday, July 19, 2013

July 19, 2013

It's only taken 22 years to get here, but: tonight, my own body is a pretty good place to be.

Today, like a lot of days, I spent about an hour cycling. I restocked the fridge at work carrying 24 litres of milk at a time. I ate lentils and drank rose-water soda-water. I slept outside wearing very little clothing. I squatted with an 85-pound barbell on my back, and I deadlifted more than my own body weight.

I swear I felt older when I was 13 than I do now. When I was 13, my body seemed to be breaking down--I was a disintegrating pile of angry red stretch marks and excess weight that had only brought an uncomfortable, overblown femininity and no new stamina or ability to speak of. The only salvation I saw was in shrinking myself down, becoming impossibly small and slight.

A few weeks ago, I saw a picture on a fashion blog of a tiny, gorgeous woman who was about the size and shape I'd always wanted to be. She wrote that she wanted to bulk up, become healthier because she couldn't lift a frying pan. 

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

what's in the garden

concord grape
. . . and cucumbers
hot peppers
lemon thyme
apple mint
chocolate mint
potatoes (purple, red, yellow)

I am busy.