Monday, February 21, 2011


You know what they say about the best laid plans of mice and men...

When last I checked in, I was scrambling to prepare for 3 weeks of Master Spinner classes in the American Southwest.  Today, I am stranded in Vancouver, where I have been since Friday evening.

The trip started off well enough.  An uneventful flight from Fort McMurray to Edmonton, renting a car without incident, and a fun night of recording a vocal track for the Odd-Lot Puppetry Company.  Great to see Brendan and Lisa and Troy, and The Water Show (written by Yours Truly) is enjoying a stunning revival.  Gorgeous puppets and a spanky new soundtrack, along with a slight rewrite to emphasize the importance of water conservation.

Lunch with my Mom the next day, then off to Edmonton International Airport again.  Onto a plane for odd route to my layover in Las Vegas, but one that saved some serious coin for the college when I booked it.  Once again, an uneventful flight, with lots of knitting accomplished.

The changeover from a domestic flight to an international flight is quite a hectic scramble at YVR, but went smoothly, so I was quite calm, though a little winded, by the time I got to US Customs and Immigration.  The young man in the booth asked the purpose of my trip, and when I told him I was going to some spinning classes, he asked whether I was going to learn or to teach.  Armed with supporting paperwork from Olds College, I had no reason to lie, so I told him I was teaching.  He seemed rather flustered and asked for my visa, and when I produced the letter and paperwork from the college, I was sent down the hall for secondary questioning.  No problem, I had been through this before, as have others who work for the Master Spinner Program.

Except, this time, I was denied entry.

The whole episode was rather unpleasant and I will not get into the gory details here, except to say that at one point I was told that it was a waste of time to spend 7 years to learn to spin, and at another point, the legality of making people pay for spinning lessons was questioned.  The worst of it was that the agent who was dealing with me had to go into several back rooms to consult with "experts" on my case, and each time he did, a head popped around a door frame to peer at me as if I were some sort of exotic bug.  The agent in charge would then explain that I teach spinning, "not the bicycle kind" and make an odd, drafting motion with his hands.  Then they would all turn and look at me again.  I really began to feel that spinning was some sort of terrible thing to be doing, since it got these guys so worked up.

It was actually kind of surreal.

In the end, they used a rather arcane loophole to deny my application for entry and sent me on my merry way.  This incident will not affect my future travel into the US or appear anywhere on any sort of record.  I was considered "compliant" and "nice".  ( I can hear some of you laughing at the thought of me being either.  Stop that!)  One guy even apologized.

So.  Here I was in Vancouver for longer than the one-hour layover I had been expecting.

Fortunately for me, two of my lovely children just so happen to live in Vancouver, so I had someplace to go and someone to give me a hug.  I drank a bottle of wine and cried like I have never cried before in my life.

I got up the next morning and the sun was shining and life was going on, so I figured I had survived the whole episode, more or less unscathed.  Sometimes life throws these things at us, for reasons we cannot even begin to fathom, and it is how we cope that shows our true character.  My true character appears to be much calmer than I thought it was, because I have chosen to not panic, not quit teaching forever, and not go on some sort of anti-American rampage.  Stuff happens.  Get over it.

The people I truly feel badly for in this situation are the students in Tucson.  They have been anticipating this class, taking time off work and traveling to attend.  However, an obtuse ruling by a single Customs and Border Patrol agent have denied them the opportunity to have the class run as expected.  This program is unique in the world, and the rules don't seem to apply, or not apply as the case may be.  I genuinely hope that the college and the US organizers can work this out and we can continue with the classes as planned.  I'm standing by...

As for me, I get an unexpected vacation in Sunny Vancouver (which was not an ironic statement until this afternoon when snowflakes the size of small kittens began to fall from a lead grey sky).  I have had the opportunity to hang out with the lovely and talented Miss Lexi, to walk on the beach, and to nom on Solly's bagels.  I have a loving and supporting family.  And I have had the kindness and support of the administration at Olds College, and the support of the US organizers to keep me going.

On Friday, this was the most devastating event of my life.  By yesterday, it was the beginning of a new adventure.  In two weeks, it will be another funny story for the repertoire.

Sometimes, life throws these things at us.  Deal with it.  Make it an adventure.

I have.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Messin' With Ur Space/Time Continium

There is nothing wrong with my life that couldn't be fixed by a clone and a wormhole.  It's that simple.  If there were 2 of me and we could both bend space and time, everything would be peachy...

(Please note that the misspelling of "continuum" in the post title is the lol cat's, not mine!)
I've whined before about the lack of time in any given day, and I shall whine again.  I occasionally always bite off more than I can chew.  This time around it is 3 Master Spinners classes in 3 cities in 3 weeks.  Which means I am prepping for 3 full weeks of travel, organizing 3 separate classes, in 3 different (and unknown) venues, working with 3 different coordinators. I'm sourcing and shipping materials and rounding up resources and equipment.  And packing, packing, packing.  (That's 3 weeks worth of packing.  Get it?!? Hah!)

On top of that, I am finalizing contracts and workshop information with 2 other festivals and negotiating a couple of local natural dye workshops.  My inbox resembles Grand Central Station right now.

Add to that the addition of my new exercise regimen, intended to help my knee heal without surgical intervention, and all of the day-to-day joys of domestic living, and the day is over before it starts.

One thing that I promised myself I would do in 2011, though, is find time to spin.  Every day.  And, no matter what else is going on, that time is found.  Every day.

Unfortunately, I have not seen the fruits of this dedicated effort until this week...

...which, I suppose is what I deserve for starting the year off with 1300 yards (1188m) of laceweight worsted 2-ply.  For those of you into stats, that is 175 g, 12 tpi, with a Count of 12s, 147RTex/2, 36 wraps per inch.   For those of you not into stats, that is lots and lots of fairly fine yarn.

It is, as my friend Marg says, a skein of great beauty.  The fibre is from Kimber Baldwin at Fiber Optic, 80% Merino/20% silk, gradation dyed from deep indigo to gold...

...with the colors blending brilliantly in between.

And what do I see when I look at this cake of yarn?  A swirling vortex...or...A WORMHOLE.

I have cast on and am now knitting Queen Anne's Lace from MMarioKknits (Rav link) to play up the swirl of colors from dark to light, and if I may say so, the yarn is brilliant.

So, I am well on my way to having that wormhole I need.  Now to work on the clone...

Friday, February 04, 2011

Vegas, Baby!

The Prodigal Blogger returns!


I had the greatest of intentions to post weekly this year, even scheduling a time every week to blog.  And I did it for two weeks.  Sorta.

Then I took a vacation...

Vegas, Baby!

I travel a lot.  I love to travel, see new things, meet new people.  I think there may be a wee drop of Gypsy blood somewhere in my background.  But in the past couple of years, every trip I have taken has had a work component.  I was beginning to suspect that I was afraid to take a vacation and relax.

And I took another vacation-phobe with me...

...the lovely and talented Miss Lexi.

We went to Las Vegas.  Sin City.  What happens there, stays there.  And what did we do?
We slept.  And walked.  We saw some shows.  We ate. 

We did not get drunk and stay that way (in spite of the yard-long Bellinis in so many of our pictures).  We did not hire escorts.  We did not steal tigers.  We spent a lovely five days resting, strolling, shopping, and reconnecting.  We were there for 4 days before we realized we hadn't even strayed outside of a three-hotel radius.

It was amazing.

The excuse reason for the trip was to see Cher in her final performances at Caesar's Palace.  I've been a fan forever and had been trying for the last three years to see this show while on a teaching junket, but always missed it by a week or two.  When I heard these were the final shows, I just said "f*** it"  and booked a trip...

 ...and I saw Cher, amazing costumes and all.  The show was pure Vegas, and may I just say that Cher can still bring it.

We also went and saw Cirque du Soleil's Beatles Love, which was awesome, as all of Cirque's shows are.  The combination of the almost overwhelming imagery and the music of the Fab Four was more than words can describe.  We ventured out of our little safety zone to see The Lion King at the Mandalay Bay, as well.  I've seen the show before, and it never fails to move me to tears.  A remarkable piece of theatre,  any way you look at it.

We went up the Eiffel Tower at the Paris...

...which is only half the height of the real thing, but still plenty high enough for me.  We ventured into the Fashion Show Mall and stayed for a whole day.  We meandered down to the Wynne under an almost full moon...

...and we watch the Sirens of Treasure Island, which left us somewhat unimpressed...

I believe the exact comment was "Well.  That was informative and educational."  We did, however, enjoy the running commentary of three fellow Canadians who referred to the boatload of shirtless pirates as "Shippendale's"  along with a few less PG-rated comments.

We hung out admiring the animals in The Secret Garden of Sigfried and Roy...

... and ate some of the most wonderful meals ever.  However, we also visited Hot Dog on a Stick far too frequently...

...and indulged in a few frozen hot chocolates from Serendipity 3.

All in all, a wonderful vacation.

I was clever enough to book myself a couple of days on either side of Vegas in Vancouver, where I got to hang out not only with Miss Lexi but with Number One Son Brendan as well.  There were long, philosophical discussions on art...

...along with some less intellectual activity.

I had such a great time, I think I may even try this vacation thing again sometime...but not too soon.  It seems the downside of taking a vacation is that you have to come back to reality eventually.  Though I'm still resisting...

There has been spinning and knitting galore going on since I got home, though.   A good rest was apparently all I needed to get over that post-holiday slump my work was in. 

It's good to be back behind the wheel.