Sunday, February 17, 2008

Education is great!

Twenty years ago, in February of 1988, the Winter Olympics opened in Calgary, Alberta. It sure doesn't seem that long ago -- I'm only about 5-6 years older than I was then! -- but it must have been. Very oddly, as I recall, the weather was being typically Albertan: being very unpredictable and we didn't have any snow that winter! It was very windy, I remember, and the ski jumps had to be delayed about 2 days, since it was just too dangerous for them to come flying through the air.

It's been bitterly cold a few weeks here this year, but now that it's February, it's warmed up nicely! In fact, the greater-than-normal snow that we had this winter has all disappeared. It didn't really melt; there wasn't any running water in the streets. It just seems to evaporate. Which isn't really such a bad thing!

I've been staying inside this week (I know -- I just am not right in my head) and spinning. I'm doing a lot of spinning! I had a bag of some mysterious white wool that I purchased about a year ago (from that 12 pounds of stuff I got) and decided to do something with it. It's really nice stuff, but an unknown breed. There might be a bit of mohair in it as well.

I tend to spin rather fine, and it's taking a lot longer than I thought it would. I see only a little bit more room left on the bobbin so think I'll do another handful or two and be done with this one, and start something else. And then about 5 and a half hours later, I'm still trying to fill up the bobbin!! It's taking me about 2 full long days of nothing but spinning to get only one bobbin filled! I haven't even started plying yet. I want to do all the spinning first, and then the plying. It just seems that I am more consistent that way. I am not really sure what I will do with it, but a lace shawl is taking form in my mind. I think it's going to be a 2-ply, but I like a 3-ply better. It's white, and I'll leave that way. Although, dyeing is not out of the question. Shall see.

The other day, a friend down the street called to say that he is going to Safeway, and did I want to pick up a few things. Sure -- every time I have the opportunity to get a few heavier things and get a ride, I'll do it!

I picked up a few things I needed, that were on "special". The total came to $xx.87, and since I don't like carrying around too many coins, I try to give the clerk an amount so I get back a quarter or make it an even dollar. So I gave the clerk some bills and 12 cents, and watched her get all confused. It was so much fun!

I always check my till-tape when I am at the check-out, since invariably, they always over-charge. It's a little game we play: they try to get away with it, I catch them at it! I had picked up some canned tomatoes; they were 4 for $5. Okay, a bit higher than normal price, but what can you do? I foolishly took two different styles of tomatoes (same brand, same deal). She charged me $1.25 for some, $2.15 for the others.

I then went over to the Customer Service counter to ask about this difference (the check-out clerk doesn't know anything, and probably didn't speak English), and had to stand in line. The girl at the counter (probably mid-20s) was hollering over to one of the cashiers that she is going back to high-school (this not a good sign). I pointed out the items on my tape, and asked why the difference. She called over a runner to go and check on them... she went, and forgot to come back. I eventually went over to the aisle and looked myself (the runner was no where to be seen); yes, all items were 4/$5. The little girl eventually came back, said they were $1.25 each; that's what I already said! The girl behind the counter wasn't sure that ALL the items were the same price, so she had to go and check herself (again, taking far longer than she should have). She returned and agreed they should be $1.25 each.

Okay, I know it's only $1.80 difference, but by now, it was the principle of the thing. I kept waiting!

She did some quick calculation in her head -- "75 and 15...." and came up with a total, and gave me $1.70. I took a moment, to see what she did, and couldn't come to the same conclusion. Now, this was becoming a real test of my patience!

"I think this is not right."

"Yes, 75 and 15 is 85, times 2 is $1.70."

"No," I say, "75 plus 15 is not 85. Add it again."

"75 and 15 is 85. I don't know what you want."

"All I want is for you to add it up again. 75 plus 15 is __."

"It's 85!"

At this point, I simply gave up and walked away. I was afraid someone was going to get hurt. I really don't think the high school is going to help her much anyway.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Shortage of time

You all know that you can take a huge amount of yarn or fibre, and with a little effort, compress all of it into a rather small space. We’ve all learned how to cram balls of yarn into otherwise unoccupied spaces, such as behind books on bookshelves, into unworn shoes, behind and under the couch, unused areas of the freezer, that kind of thing. And it’s hardly even noticeable!

Now, a friend of mine tells me that we are all given the same number of hours in a day. While intellectually, I understand what he is saying, I still think that there are ways to pack into one hour a lot more things than normally possible. What I mean is there are times that I have been able to take all those balls of yarn (the jobs needing to be done) and squish them all into tiny spaces (the hours in a day) with a great deal of efficiency. But there are times, I think, that these mounds of fibre just need to be fondled and admired and can’t be forced into tight confinement without destroying the beauty in them. Hence the realization that I just don’t have enough time.

Now, there may be some of you (so very few of you) that will tend to believe I am being laggard in performing my duties. Well, perhaps. But I think it’s really a matter of how you view what has priority.

For example, there is the matter of meals. While this is something that everyone must do, there are ways to make it as efficient as possible. One can simply go out to eat at a place that prepares meals for a business. It’s done many times a day by thousands of people. True, some may want to consider the financial implications, but let’s not look at that right now. One can purchase ready-made meals, and you can have them at home at your convenience. One can have someone prepare them for you, and it would be waiting for you when you got home. Or one can just skip them altogether now and then.

Of course, there is the other possibility of becoming organized, efficient, skilled at preparing meals for oneself, but that takes a lot of the fun out of it (and takes time). There is the tedious task of planning what you want, what you would require, checking your food stash, and preparing a list of what additional items you need (and there is always something you need). Then there is the actual shopping for these items; it’s not the same as shopping for yarn, where you can leisurely admire, touch, rub against your cheek and dream of what you can make with it – they don’t seem to like that in the grocery stores. Then you have to lug all your booty home (why is it all so heavy?), find places to put it away (there are usually pre-set storage spaces for these things) and then rest. Finally, you have to take time to pull out what you need, getting it all ready (much of it is unprepared, you see), putting it all together in different ways, and setting it to cook. Then you wait.

Ultimately, you then pull all these cooked items out of their over-heated spaces, place into serving dishes on the table and enjoy, if you have any energy left. It’s not all finished yet of course – no one seems to remember that after having your fill, there is the clean-up steps too. If there are any left-overs, you have to find places to put those away, and then remove all the dishes, and wash them up, and put them all away. This is a never-ending process! If you were to count up all the time spent just with preparation, eating, and cleaning up, you would find you could have a lot more knitting time!

There is also the requirement of covering this body. But that’s why we knit or weave! And there are prescribed things I have to wear at certain times of the day, or different places. It would be so much easier to just have ONE outfit I could wear everywhere. No, not enough variety, is there? Okay, that’s not a solution.

Because I have acquired so many different items of clothing for various activities, they need attention too. First, shopping for them (not one of my favourite activities), then finding places to store them as well, and then they also demand care and attention, repair and cleaning! Again, this is something else that requires more time, which is already in short supply. This also requires the investment of some equipment solely for the purposes of care of clothing, which also need a place to be stored when not being used!

This whole idea of having a large enough space to store all the stash of food, and clothing, plus all my fibres, and related equipment and instructional material for all of that is the biggest cost factor. This space also demands to be cared for and then you need specialized equipment for this task as well plus the space to store them! It’s a never-ending cycle!

One thing I do find really takes up a lot of time, besides eating, is this thing called a “job”. It really demands a majority of my day, and I’m not really sure I am using it best advantage. I mean, I know I’m supposed to have one, and it seems to provide me with the means to buy things like food and a place to store my stash, but what else is there to it? I have to spend a good portion of my precious time just getting to the place where they want me, and getting back again. It’s not as if I am performing some essential service or benefiting mankind in any significant way. I wonder if I couldn’t make better use of all that time in some other more enjoyable way, and still be able to get the things I need.

So I’m saying that it’s not that I don’t have enough time – I have as much as you do – but that I have a lot more to pack into that limited amount in the day than most of you do. By the time I go through the eating process, the clothing process, the storage space process, there just isn’t much time left at all. Add into that some of the other necessary activities, such as email and web-surfing, a little sleep, socializing, and what’s left for the real purpose for existence – the joy and exuberance of playing with fibres, and all that entails? As I get older, it seems I am not as energetic in finding creative ways to cram into that same space of time as much as I once was able to.

No, there is only one thing to do: something just has to be eliminated. I’ve cut down a lot on the eating process and kept it to a bare minimum, care of clothing is only as necessary, care and maintenance of the storage space has almost been eliminated, sleep has been reduced to only a couple of hours, and all these steps have helped immensely. There is only one more thing left to minimize – that thing they call a job. I’ve recently even increased my time devoted to it by one more day a week – what was I thinking! But, I’m working on correcting that!