Friday, May 26, 2017

Jewellery this time

Here's the story as I understand it: The plain ring on the right was my mom's wedding ring, and my parents got married in 1941. Small, simple, 14k gold.

The diamond ring was a 25th anniversary present -- in the 60s my dad had enough money for such a thing, riding that post-war prosperity wave. Very romantic, I think, to give an engagement ring to someone you've been married to for 25 years!

The other gold ring which is now stuck on the side of the diamond ring was perhaps my father's mother's ring? It was always very thin and worn, but I didn't know until recently that it had been attached to the other.

(My dad had a beautiful gold ring with his initials on it. It was a family ring in my mom's family and they had to change the initials when she used it for his wedding ring. Well, no picture of it, because as my dad got older, he got thinner, and one day he realized his ring had slid off his finger! I hope it's in the dirt of some garden in Castlegar, but maybe somebody just picked it up and kept it. We advertised but never heard anything. Too bad.)

When my mom passed away, my dad kept her rings and wore them on his baby finger. At some point the gold on the diamond ring got thin and cracked, and now I have what you see up there.

My mom always wore them all together in a stack, and that's how I would like to get this repaired. I have a line on two jewellery places in town who might be able to help. Next week I will go talk to people at Jewel Envy and Made you Look. I know little about metalworking and wonder if it's possible to do a repair and make it look good, or if it's easier and cleaner to just start from scratch. I guess I'll find out.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

My purse

Today's Think Write Thursday chore is to describe the contents of my purse.

I have an uncanny ability to pick out the most expensive purse on the table in the shop, and am on a permanent, never-ending quest for the perfect bag. Is it big or small, the perfect bag? Cross-body or clutch? It varies with the season and the occasion.

My present purse is a fancy-schmancy Harvey's seatbelt satchel. Of course, I didn't spend $100+ on it, but $12.99 at Value Village. It is way cool, red, capacious. Also heavy and a bit awkward to carry. Not perfect, but it's working for now.

What I put in my bag, however, is pretty simple. Wallet, keys, phone. Knitting sometimes, pens. Bus tokens. This red bag can hold some papers or a book, has even carried a bottle of wine from place to place!

If you want to see what other people put in their bags, check the links here.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Not your usual knitting post today

Last weekend I went to a wedding. My sister's daughter got married, and of course I took about 8 million pictures, in none of which do I have the bride and groom looking at the camera, in focus, smiling...

But I'll give you a quick look at the goings-on.

The wedding was in Nelson, which is just up the road from Castlegar. It is pretty well into spring out there, with the deciduous trees coming all nice and green on the hills. I didn't take pictures of all the flowering trees, the lilacs and magnolias and fruit trees!

The day of the wedding was kind of cold and cloudy and we were a bit apprehensive about it all, but as it turned out, it was lovely. Those clouds in the background lifted enough and it was fine. A tad chilly, and a wee bit windy... but not raining!

The wedding was at the golf course above the town. Really nice view up the valley...

Father and nephew of the bride hanging around before the main action.

My sister's hair! Salt and pepper but with red pepper! (She always had way more hair, and redder, than me.)

There was a colour scheme going on here. Bridal party in blue and purple, to match the flowers and the drinks.

I spent some time trying to get a picture of the actual bride. This is one of the weirder results, my sister in the foreground, probably oblivious to her bridal daughter in the background. 

Even the cute flower girl/princess kept dashing out of photos. 

The men stood still for a moment: Bride's brother-in-law and nephew, brother, uncle, step-father, brother, new father-in-law, groom, father.

Bride and siblings. 

Bride and groom, best I could do: 

It was very nice. I haven't been to a family wedding in years, probably decades! It was fun and romantic and friendly and the food was good and the speeches were minimal. Jolly good show.

And now for something completely different. Since I was there, I had to look at family heirlooms. I brought home some paintings, some horse brasses and a claw. More on the others later, but for now I will just show you this: 

We think it was once a watch fob. It is a bird's foot, complete with toenails, or, as I suppose you more correctly say, talons! Something weird for the Christmas tree, perhaps?

Thursday, May 11, 2017

My ideal day

I have missed out on these Think Write Thursdays for a few weeks. This week's topic is to describe my ideal day.

A toughie!

Today I am travelling across the country to go to my niece's wedding. Since I wrote this earlier in the week, I will describe the ideal for today; how I hope this Thursday turns out.

I have to get up at about 5 am. Not ideal at all. Life would be much simpler if I could get up at 8 or 9, but I really do have to get up at 5 to catch my plane. I imagine all will be fine at the airport, though also not ideal: Security is a pain and if I have a large bag I will have to pay to check it, which seems backwards to me. If people had to pay to carry big bags on, fewer would do it and everything would go more smoothly. When I rule the world....

Also if this were really the ideal day, my husband and kids would be coming with me, but I am travelling alone.

Oh, my, it will take about 5 hours for me to fly to Vancouver. Ideally, I could comfortably watch some great movie, but really, I bet I will watch some sort of crap, not be able to see the tiny screen properly, not be able to hear properly, and the whole system will break just at the climax of the crappy movie. I will take some knitting, and ideally won't be sitting next to some pushy or large person who squishes me into a corner. I will also take some plane snacks, since it is not at all ideal to have to eat expensive Pringles on a trans-continental flight.

Ideally, the weather in Castlegar, my final destination, will be wonderful, or at least passable, and the connection from Vancouver to Castlegar will be successful and stress-free.

Then, I am sure all will go swimmingly. My sister will pick me up and take me to her house where I will have a comfy bed and be able to go on nice walks by the river.

I will not be in the ideal place, which would have to have an ocean nearby, but I will be in the ideal place with family gathered for a happy occasion.

Actually, my ideal day would not involve 5-hour flights at all, but I think you don't get to have the ideal niece's wedding without the travel! 

Monday, May 08, 2017

Festival round-up

The end of the festival was super busy for me. I have seen five movies since my last post!

Let There Be Light was another that Stephen chose for his birthday movies. It dealt with attempts, big and small, to create fusion energy. The big attempts are really big, with a project going on in France, billions beyond the planned budget, years behind schedule. And even when they get it done and up and running, it won't be a power plant; it is a research facility to see if they can even do it. (You heat up plasma to 100,000,000 degrees for starters...) The movie also showed us several smaller groups with other plans. I'd say, don't count on fusion in our lifetimes.

Friday was a noteworthy day because Stephen consented to see two movies on the same day. In the evening we went to Becoming Bond. This one is highly recommended! George Lazenby played James Bond in On Her Majesty's Secret Service in 1969, and that is all most people know about him. In this movie, he tells his story, actors reenact much of it, we get TV clips of some things, I think Diana Rigg gets a word in... Mainly we learn that George Lazenby is a big talker and if half of what he says is true, he had a pretty wild time in the 60s! The film opens with a quote from another big talker, Winston Churchill: "History will be kind to me for I intend to write it." This was great fun.

Saturday I got up early and made my way downtown to see Pecking Order with a friend. She and I love chickens, from our discovery in Havana of the Chicken of Prosperity. She, silly girl, first went to the wrong cinema and barely made it in time. Luckily I tend to get places early and had saved her the best seat in the house. Anyways, the movie... We focus on the Christchurch Poultry, Bantam and Pigeon Club. Not only do we have to prepare for the national chicken show, but there are disputes in the club about who will lead them into the future. Not just lovely chickens, but characters old and young, nice and not so nice! A real delight.

My friend went on with her business and I went back inside to watch Brimstone and Glory. Trying to explain this movie to people, I have come to realize that its main purpose was to show off the fantastic photography! Yeah, there's a kid who wants to get out of the town where the only job is packing gunpowder into tubes, where people lose hands and eyes and lives. Yeah, he has scary fun at the big fireworks festival. But really we are here to see the super slo-mo fireworks going off all over the place. How do you not over-expose them? How do you get every bit of sparkly stuff distinct? How do you get a guy to strap a Go-Pro to his head and climb up a rickety 100-foot tall tower loaded with fireworks? (Oh, yeah, he would do that anyway, without the Go-Pro, because that's his job!) Wild.

Sunday afternoon I had my last volunteer shift in the office, and then my last movie. We saw More Art Upstairs, about the ArtPrize event in Grand Rapids, Michigan, home to the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library & Museum and some vacant buildings that get turned into art spaces. Fifteen hundred artists show their work and compete for two major prizes: the juried prize chosen by critics and art pros, and the public prize, voted on by the ordinary folks who walk by. It's interesting that in this show, craft, and precision, and elaborate, evident work is very much valued by the public, so that they awarded prizes to some rather artless things.

So, that was my festival and now it's back to normal around here.

Wait! I have knitting:

What the heck is that, you might ask. It is a Top Hat Tissue Cover, and the pattern notes promise that it will add colour and charm to my bathroom.

It needs a big flower or something to be completely charming, I think. It was my May vintage accessory. I'm prepared to take on something bigger in June, I think, and I do have several unfinished masterpieces lying around here just waiting for my attention.


On Thursday I head back to Castlegar for a wedding. I have a few days to gather some groceries, figure out which masterpiece I can knit on the plane and so on. (Tomorrow it's back to the dentist to finish up the root canal business.)

Friday, May 05, 2017

Silly fun and scary murder

Thursday I saw two more movies.

There are lots of doom-and-gloom docs this year, as usual. Political and environmental nightmares the world over. So far, I have avoided these pretty well.

I avoid them by filling my dance-card with things like Hobbyhorse Revolution!

I got to the cinema early, partly because I am always early and partly because I had the time wrong in my mind and thought the movie started 15 minutes before it actually did. So, I got the best seat in the middle of the house... After a few minutes, a staff member came and asked if I could move over one, because they needed a bunch of seats together for the filmmakers. No prob. In walked a group of women, some of them teenagers, some of them carrying hobbyhorses, and they sat right down next to me! This is as close as Hot Docs gets to movie stars, and one of the reasons I love it!

The movie shows us these girls, around the age of 12 or 14, training and entering competitions and making hobbyhorses and tending them... it is sort of weird, really. They are pretending, and I certainly hope they know they are pretending, but they do it so well that one wonders. Is riding this hobbyhorse really different from riding that one? Can a hobbyhorse be well-behaved, or not? (A hobbyhorse is, of course, a sewn and stuffed horse's head on a broomstick.)

They organize competitions where they do dressage and jumping, and the judges are young enthusiasts, too. There is hardly a parent to be seen. It might be crazy, but in some ways it seems a healthier environment than, say, figure skating. Unlikely to be an Olympic sport any time soon.

Certainly not doom and gloom -- no animals were harmed in the making of this film!

It was another pouring-rain day. I got home from that movie in time to have a civilized dinner with the family, and then braved the elements again for a late show.

That is from the HotDocs twitter account, and I am with the blue and white umbrella under the lamp on the far right. We waited in that line for rather longer than I had anticipated!

The wait was worth it, though, because the movie was very good! 78/52, about the shower scene from Psycho. Yes, a whole movie about one short scene from a decades-old movie. Lots of clips of even older movies, later movies, other Hitchcock movies, and of course, the scene itself, bit by bit and over and over. Lots of interviews, too, with the woman whose body you actually see in the shower while Janet Leigh screams, and with editors and other moviemakers. Very clever, and very interesting.

It is still raining, and I have two more movies to see today! My wettest and busiest Hot Docs yet, I'd say.

Thursday, May 04, 2017

Seven, eight, nine, ten

I've seen four movies since last we spoke: a program of shorts about Magnificent Obsessions, Give Me Future, Bill Nye: Science Guy, and Joshua: Teenager vs Superpower.

The shorts were the usual mixed bag of styles and subjects, but they were all about people who are really keen on something.

There was one about the city of Cleveland trying to make a fun, fun name for itself by releasing 1.5 million little balloons filled with helium for a Guinness Book record. It did not turn out well. Another was about icebergs, and it was stunning and made me want to run off to Newfoundland immediately. Then the one about clearing out a family home after the parents' deaths. Beautifully done, with still photos and background chatter. The Q&A really tied it all together for me, and now I want to watch it again!

The last two were more unsettling, for sure. One revolved around a phone conversation between a trans woman and an ex-Marine. Again, I learned so much in the chat with the director afterwards that I have to see it again. This one was an MFA project, wow.

The last was about the magnificent obsession of wanting human blood. Yes. Creepy and with bits where I closed my eyes!

I love seeing shorts and wish these little movies were shown in front of features more often. It's funny why they get made the way they do: the iceberg guys said they would gladly have made a longer movie but for the funding; the house-clearing movie started just as a photographic record as the family worked on the job, and the idea of a movie came later.

That evening... was it Tuesday?... I saw Give Me Future, starring my favourite city of Havana! A band I know nothing about, Major Lazer, decided to go to Havana, and played a concert right here on the Malecón.

Thousands and thousands of people came. I don't much care for the electronic music and they guys in the band weren't that interesting to me, but the story was good and the visuals were a treat.

That movie started at 9:45 pm and I was up and at the theatre again at 8:45 the next morning. Quite a big day at Docs for Schools, with two people doing their best to save the world.

Bill Nye: Science Guy shows everybody's favourite science teacher in his retirement from TV. He no longer teaches basic science ideas to kids in a fun and wacky way, but he is taking on creationists and climate-change deniers. I knew about him and his show, but I am a bit old to have been a real fan, and I imagine his heyday was somewhere in the decades when I didn't have a TV. His projects now include things like the Planetary Society and, unfortunately, debating lunkheads like people who think that there were dinosaurs on the ark 6,000 years ago. The kids loved him. I loved him, too, but my excitement faded when I watched the second movie of the day.

Joshua: Teenager vs Superpower shows us Joshua Wong, a kid just now in university, who has also been trying to save the world for several years. He started out protesting Beijing-imposed education curricula in Hong Kong, and moved on to work with Occupy to work for democratic reforms. Those Hong Kong protests were short-lived and little covered here, as I recall, but the photos of the thousands of protesters were amazing. Joshua and some others went on hunger strike, were arrested, and keep on working towards the goal of democratic freedoms in Hong Kong. This one was picked up by Netflix at Sundance, so you can see it yourselves shortly.

Today, I have a lunch date and then two movies in the afternoon and evening. There's even time in between, I think, to come home and cook a chicken so my family don't think I am ignoring them.

Monday, May 01, 2017


Yesterday it was pouring rain for much of the day, and I was outside in a dollar-store poncho, directing high school students around. I also got to sit inside and watch two movies, so I guess it all works out.

I'll get to those in a mo. First, Sunday night's movie...

Rumble. I love a good music doc, and this one introduced me to some new voices, musicians of Native American ancestry. Charlie Patton, for example. Jesse Ed Davis, for another. Lots of other artists you may know about, like Mildred Bailey, Robbie Robertson, Buffy Ste Marie, Jimi Hendrix... and the guy who wrote the title song, Link Wray.

It was fun and full of good music, and it also showed that these Native artists had either hidden their heritage or had it ignored for years. It's certainly interesting to see how people understand their heritage, and pick one grandparent's culture over the others'. The director said afterward that there is basically another whole movie on the cutting-room floor, involving the Natives who blended in with the white folks and influenced country music. Perhaps they'll put that together later on!

Monday morning it was off to more Docs for Schools. I thought it would be foggy and then clear  up, so off I went in a sweatshirt... it poured all day long.

The morning movie was Step, and you will hear more about that because it has been picked up by a major distributor and will be in theatres in the summer.

A new school for girls in Baltimore expects all their students to go to college. There is lots of talk of marks and GPAs and college and scholarship applications, but at the same time they are practising for a step dance competition. It was fun and rockin' and it wouldn't be a big, uplifting thing if there weren't (spoiler alert) some success involved. Good fun, but I have heard this story before...

Totally different vibe in the afternoon. We saw Dolores, about Dolores Huerta, the cofounder of the United Farm Workers. The film featured interviews with her and her children (she had 11) along with others who were on similar (and intersecting) social justice paths, like Gloria Steinem and Angela Davis. Like the artists in Rumble, she had that one "flaw" that has kept her story hidden: they were Native, she is a woman. We know about Cesar Chavez, but few have heard of her. She was instrumental in the union from the very beginning, organized the grape boycott in New York state, was seriously injured by police while protesting outside a campaign event for George HW Bush, and always carried on with such fortitude and devotion to her work.

The movie was made with the cooperation of Dolores and her family, and was full of archival photos and film. She had been interviewed and on the news many times over the years so we get to see her "as it happens" and not just in remembrances. Very, very good!

It was a tad off-putting to see these two movies together. Fifty years ago, Dolores let other people raise her children part of the time so she could work to better the lives of the poorest workers. She lived with them and was poor with them and in an interview from those days said that spending money on something like a spa day for herself would be just a waste of both time and money. The girls in Step seem to have money for hair and manicures while lamenting that there is no food, even for their youngest family members. Perhaps it is unfair of me to compare the "struggles" involved, but I am pretty sure that those Baltimore girls could learn a thing or two from Dolores Huerta.

Today, two more movies. I gave away a pair of tickets to a show last night because I just couldn't fit in a nighttime movie. I just won tickets to two more movies by retweeting stuff on twitter, so I am overwhelmed and giving things away left and right. Every year I do this....