Rabbit Holes

This weekend we decided to have some down time.

We were tired, and BDH’s birthday had just passed. We were unable to celebrate it when we wanted to, last weekend, because That Girl decided to bring home a stomach bug from school and consequently barfed spectacularly and stayed home from school and then spent the weekend recovering.

Then on his actual birthday, a weekday, BDH of course had to go to work and That Girl had some of her many activities in the evening and so it wasn’t an optimal time to celebrate. So we pushed back until this past weekend. Continue reading

Sleep Well, Great One

Of course most people have heard by now that the great man, Nelson Mandela, has died. After a lifetime of struggle, achievement, generosity and love, he has earned his peace and his rest.

I cannot sufficiently pay tribute to such a great man. I will leave it to one of my heroes, Bob Geldof, to pay suitable and moving tribute to Mandela, another of my heroes.

Obsession

It’s been a week around here. BDH is down for the count with what appears for all intents and purposes to be a norovirus, and That Girl and I are biding our time to see if we’re next.

But nobody wants to hear about hot and cold running dysentery, am I right? So instead, I am going to introduce you to my latest obsession: The Lizzie Bennet Diaries.

Y’all know I love me some period pieces, and the BBC miniseries version of Pride and Prejudice (yes, the one with Colin Firth ONLY — ACCEPT NO SUBSTITUTES) is right up there near the top of my list. Well, there’s a web series of P&P now, updated and online and free for all to obsess over like me!

It’s REALLY well done. And, if you are home sick or need some diversion, they’re only about 90 episodes in, so at about 4 minutes per episode, you can catch up in a couple of hours. A couple of hours of frankly RIVETING story, even for someone like me who has seen Pride and Prejudice countless times.

Come on. Come down the rabbit hole with me. It’s worth it.

It’s a Major Award!

It’s not a bowling alley. It’s not a lamp in the shape of a scantily clad leg. And it’s not FRA-GEE-LAY!

The brilliant and thoughtful IsobelDeBrujah at Center Pull Photography and What a Witch (Serious. Go read her stuff now. She’s got so much going on in the brainspace and heartspace that I don’t even. Go. I’ll wait.) has decided to share the blogging love this month and has nominated me for the Liebster Award.

It’s a lovely way for bloggers to tell others about smaller blogs they’ve found and enjoyed and felt they should share. And among her other nominees, she chose this little corner of the interwebs to share with others. And for this, I am very touched and grateful.

Part of the obligation of being named Miss Liebster 2012 (okay, I totally just made that title up) is that I answer some questions. First, I must post eleven facts about myself:

  1. Eleven is my favourite number.
  2. I love knitting, but only square or rectangular things. I used to knit sweaters and garments, but I prefer things with simpler structure, like blankets and scarves and such.
  3. Animals and kids really like me.
  4. I am chronically sleep deprived, due to moderate sleep apnea.
  5. I’m more than a little bit of a music geek.
  6. I love costume dramas/period pieces.
  7. In imaginary CinnamonOpusLand, I have a little thing going on with the Ninth Doctor.
  8. I’m afraid of fish in their natural habitat. Actually, make that anything under the water. Which is a shame, because…
  9. I am also drawn to the water, would like to live on an island, love the idea of boats and sailing, and am fascinated by big ships. GO FIGURE.
  10. I wore a brace on my ankle for sports for years, and consequently one foot is at least a half a size smaller than the other.
  11. I am continually thinking about what my Desert Island Discs would be. And I have yet to come to a final list. LIKE I WILL EVER BE ON DESERT ISLAND DISCS.

And then, I have to answer some questions posed by my nominee:

1. What are you most passionate about?
I’m not really passionate about anything. I used to be. But I love music, and can talk about animatedly about music and artists, much to the boredom of my husband.

2. Why do you blog?
I blog as an outlet, as a means of expression, as a way of communicating with friends and family, and as a way to connect with others who have the same interests and concerns.

3. What is your favorite meal?
My favourite meal is breakfast. Either that, or a dinner from a restaurant down the road where we had our wedding dinner. With caesar salad and dessert.

4. What book or books do you think everyone should read?
I think everyone should read. Full stop. As long as they are picking up books and reading. Whatever interests them, whatever relaxes them, whatever broadens their horizons and educates them.

5. If money were no object, how would you occupy the rest of your life?
I would grow my family again, and spend my time enjoying them. And doing good for others where I could.

6. If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?
“You were a good person, and that was all I asked.”

7. What is one thing you’ve never been able to/had time to/had funds to do that you still want to do?
Live abroad/travel extensively for decent blocks of time. Not just the one-week-here-and-then-home travel.

8. What is your favorite television show and why?
Sports Night. Language, acting, characters.

9. What is your least enjoyable chore?
Housework in general, because dust and chemicals make my allergies and asthma go ballistic.

10. What one thing about you is cool?
I have never been cool. I don’t think I was ever cool. Was I cool?

11. Do you have pets?
I have a small herd of unruly cats.

But the second, and more important part, of the Liebster (German for “dearest”, “beloved” or “favourite) gig, is to share the wealth of good blog reading throughout the internets, and nominate others you feel should get some recognition and readers. And they, in turn, will post the award on their blog, and answer all the questions to tell us more about themselves, and spread the love further along.

Now, truth be told, I don’t know a lot of bloggers still active out there in Internetsland, but I’ll nominate:

  • Bolt Upright Because she’s one of the coolest, most together moms I know. Even when she claims it’s all falling to bits around her.
  • The (Never Ending) Adoption Chronicles Because she’s funny and brilliant and a geek like me. And she WILL BE one of the coolest moms I know. And this maybe will get her motivated to post again.
  • The Lullaby Seeker Because she’s funny and genuine and I love reading her posts. And it was ONLY JUST TODAY that I found her blog address again after my laptop died in the summertime, and I have so much catching up to do!
  • Urban Hunter-Gatherer Because she’s a very together, animal-friendly, Maritimer LSG mama!
  • Jade Sherpa Because she’s one of my favourite IRL peeps who swears she’s going to blog again, and I love to read what she writes, so hopefully this motivates her.

And these are my questions for my nominees:

  1. What’s your favourite hobby?
  2. What colour looks best on you?
  3. What is the most memorable place you have ever visited?
  4. Have you ever Hammer danced?
  5. What language would you like to become proficient at?
  6. What book(s) have left a lasting impression on you?
  7. What is your favourite holiday family tradition?
  8. If you could suddenly be a rock star, would you be the drummer, the keyboard player, the guitar player or the lead singer?
  9. What news publication (if any) do you read?
  10. What is something you are really good at?
  11. How would you like to be remembered after you’ve left this life?

That’s it from today’s Liebster Awards ceremony! Thanks, have a good night, and don’t forget to tip your waiters. And now, I’m off to put my Major Award in the front window.

Done, and Why I Do It

Well, I am finished my NaBloPoMo for another year. I posted all thirty days of this month. It wasn’t always easy, and it wasn’t always pretty, but I did it.

In my blogging group in Rav, the challenge was posted:

… take a moment to think about why you’re blogging, and then share that in your blog.

So, between that and another thread, I have been thinking a lot about why I blog. I’ve been doing this since 2005 or so, so surely there’s a reason, right?

Sometimes, I blog for others. I blog for family and friends who live at a distance or who don’t see us as often as we’d like, and so it can be a means of keeping everyone in the loop about how we’re doing, how things are going, and just the day-to-day goings-on of our life here at The House of Peevish.

Sometimes, the others are people who are going through something similar to what I am. At first, it was infertility treatment, which is an incredibly isolating, exhausting and trying experience. Then, it was adoption, which is also exhausting, and trying, and challenging on a different level. I chose to write about it then because not enough people talk about this stuff. Not enough people share what it’s really like, what’s going on, honestly and without filters — and trust me, you really, really need to know there is somebody else out there going through what you are going through and who understands. Who GETS IT. I needed that when I was going through these things, and I felt it important to offer that to others.

Nowadays, though, I am parenting. There’s nothing terribly exciting about that. I am no groundbreaking, award-winning, insightful Mommy Blogger. This explains why my readership has slowed to a trickle, why my comments are fewer and further between. And that’s fine.

Because that really leads me to the most important reason for me to blog: ME.

As a kid, I was lonely. Although I was in a family, I felt like I had nobody to talk to. Much like my daughter, I was (and still am) the type of person who would talk to anyone who would listen. But I never felt like anyone talked WITH me. I never felt heard.

Once I grew into my late teens, I had a few friends and boyfriends. My closest high school friend moved to Europe. I went away to university on scholarship, leaving friends and boyfriends behind. I became a letter writer. I was still lonely, still without people to talk to, and so I would write these epic letters containing all my thoughts and the minutiae of my day to friends I did have and missed.

And then, I moved to Japan, and an acquaintance — a very insightful one, as it turned out — gave me a journal as a goodbye present. And told me to write.

That’s the one thing I could do. All through school, I was a good writer. I had teachers and profs nudging me along the path to creative writing, journalism, academia — all saying that no matter what, I should write.

I didn’t. I made poor choices and relied on advice that really wasn’t advice at all. I ended up with a useless degree and not many career prospects. But I had a plane ticket to Japan, a job there, and a journal.

And I wrote, almost every day, about everything. I realized that because I had nobody to talk to and no one ever heard me, a journal would serve well enough to express what I was thinking about and seeing and doing. And it became a great way to document my travels, as well.

Since that time, I have just carried on. I wrote in journals for awhile, then when I got my first computer, I journalled there. When the internet became A Thing, and blogs began to be Another Thing, it was just another step.

Except that it wasn’t. When I was writing in journals or on computer, it was just for me. Nobody ever saw what I wrote. I said what I wanted, good, bad and indifferent. But I learned, as everyone does when they venture into writing on Teh Interwebs, that although it feels much like what you’re typing is just between you and the keyboard, in actual fact the entire world can see what you write. Because of life experience, I very quickly learned to put the filters on.

And that leads us to now, and to this blog.

I don’t write a lot of controversial information. I don’t write anything informative. And although it may seem like it sometimes, I don’t generally write about my thoughts and feelings on anything other than a pretty superficial level. I spent years keeping myself to myself, and that is just who I am now.

Plus, I have a family to consider as well. I respect my husband’s privacy. I respect my daughter’s privacy, and along with not posting her photo except protected by password, I also don’t reveal much about her life that could be considered very personal to her. I certainly would never speak negatively about them, or talk about anything that might hurt them. It’s not my right to reveal anything deeply personal about them.

So, really, it’s all about me.

And as my readership can attest, nobody really cares much about that. And that is totally okay.

Because in the end, much like when I was journalling all those years ago, I do it because I like having someplace to express myself. Thoughts. Feelings. Things that are happening. It makes me feel good. It’s like having somebody listening.

And, if I am honest, part of me still hears Sister Barb’s voice in high school, and Richard my journalism prof’s voice, and so many others’ voices, telling me I need to write. I MUST write. That I have talent enough to write. And that people should be able to read what I write.

So, in answer to the question, “why do you blog?” I would answer:

To speak. To be heard. And so that others may listen.

November We Are In You Now

November is a hard month for me, usually. I think it’s because it’s one of those months where the days are dark and gray, and the weather is usually rainy and cold, and there’s not much in the way of holidays or anything to keep me from… well, starting to hibernate, I guess.

Except for NaBloPoMo. Which is short for “National Blog Posting Month”, which is an offshoot of NaNoWriMo or “National Novel Writing Month”. I’m not inspired or organized enough to try to write a novel in a month, but participating in NaBloPoMo and pledging to try to write one blog post per day this month is something I can do.

I did it last year, and perhaps I tried to do it other years as well. I can’t remember. But last year, it was good for me for a couple of reasons. It breathed some life into my blog when it needed it, and forced me to flex my posting muscles a little more than I normally do. And outside of that, it kind of shakes me out of the funk I get into in November. And even if that means just a little more creativity or a little more energy is expended, or I feel a little bit more motivation to do things, then it’s not a wasted effort.

A challenge was put forth in my favourite group in Ravelry — LSG, or Lazy, Stupid, and Godless — to step up and try to meet the NaBloPoMo challenge, and I decided to give it a go. Strength (and motivation) in numbers and all that. It also gives me a group of other people’s blogs to read, which I have been looking for for some time. My reading list is getting a little stale as fewer of my usual bloggers are posting these days, so it’s time to see what else the internets have to offer.

And so that is what I shall do.

Sadly, though, what I post about is not terribly interesting or exciting, and so I fear my fellow LSG members who follow me here are going to be terribly bored — and for that, LSG Tweasels, I apologize. I do appreciate their visits this month nonetheless. Already I’ve had visits from the lovely Lisa at Lisa and Robb, who blogs close to home as I do but with more bees and chickens, and from the brilliant and insightful IsobelDeBrujah who has more sociopolitical awareness about life in the US than most people hope to have.

But although my blog is about more mundane matters than many, I find inspiration in reading what others are writing. I find it motivates me in any number of ways. To find new things to write about. To be more socially aware. To reexamine my role as mom, wife, friend, member of the community. To be more crafty. To exercise. To work on improving my health. To learn to crochet. To take better pictures. To be a better writer.

So although it is a writing exercise, NaBloPoMo is for me a lot more. This is why it is a good thing to participate in — it can be rejuvenating.

Have no fear, friends who have been visiting here for years now. I will still be posting pictures of That Girl on the weekend (and, as they are password protected, new LSG readers can either skip ’em or PM me in Rav for the password.) I will be as lacking in focus and parenting skill and domestic capability as ever I was. And I am still going to post about a lot of daily minutiae and random nothingness. BECAUSE I KNOW HOW MUCH YOU LOVE THAT.

So, yeah. 99% inspiration, 1% perspiration. I talk a good game, but I’m still probably going to be writing the same nonsense as always. Only it’s November, so you get to see it EVERY SINGLE STINKING DAY.

Aren’t you lucky.

Walls

Sometimes I struggle to find a voice for some of the issues I come up against as a parent.

It’s hard to put your thoughts into words at the best of times. But sometimes I get stuck in a box when I sit down to write here on my blog, about parenting or otherwise. (No, not a real box — a metaphorical one. It’s not like we ordered a freezer and someone put my laptop in the leftover cardboard.)

I sit down to write and generally speaking I run into any combination of four walls.

The first wall I come up against is what I think are my readers’ expectations. Readership comes and goes in waves, mostly with the waxing and waning of phases of my life. Infertility brought in lots of readers, and once that phase was over they wandered off to another corner of the internet. They were replaced with adoption readers, who, interestingly, tend to lose interest once their own adoptions are completed. And now, as a parent — which in terms of bloggers is, like, EVERYONE ON THE INTERNET — I find I have nothing useful to say. So I don’t know, really, what to write about these days, and as I don’t have any enlightening or informative takes on parenting, I haven’t got much to appeal to an audience that doesn’t know my little family well.

When I do have things to write about, the second wall gets in the way — and that’s caused by privacy concerns. Often times, when I am writing about parenting and struggles we’re having, it means writing about something that is not just my issue but my child’s as well. And I wonder, sometimes, if it’s my place to put Stinkerbelle’s issues and challenges out there without her permission. Not that a four-year-old really knows nor cares about what I write on the internet — the point is that one day, she will. And she may not appreciate it being out there. So I am struggling with trying to respect her privacy while still expressing my own thoughts, feelings, and issues.

The third wall is around adoption. I belong to communities of other adoptive parents and read others’ blogs, and I try to keep current on various issues around adoption and multiracial families. And I find it intimidating to post with all that in mind. Because honestly? Our struggles are not the norm, in that they are really NOT about any of those things. We haven’t had issues around race or loss or cultural identity or even the usual parasite-and-fungus problems. We have none of that stuff going on. None at all. And I feel like I’m doing something wrong, failing on the adoptive parent front, because I have nothing to say on any of the hot-button issues so many adoptive parents struggle with. And those that I do have are so minor they don’t bear putting in print.

The last wall is one of parenting, and what to say in that arena. Which is… nothing, really. The internet is peopled with enough mommy blogs to last a lifetime, and I really have nothing insightful or revolutionary or informative to say. I don’t set myself up as some sort of parenting expert; I don’t have any expertise beyond just getting through the day-to-day. And even in that realm, I experience the grand parenting fails of too much TV and not enough vegetables and losing my temper way, way too much.

So I sit down to write and wonder… about what, exactly?

The good thing is that none of these things are permanent. All these states are fluid. At some point, these walls will crumble, or suddenly develop a window with a nice view, or disappear completely. And maybe throw new walls up in their wake. The trick is dealing with the ones I have now and continuing to express myself and not letting my blog die completely.

I’ve been here before, in the eight-ish years I have been blogging. Life changes and you adapt and suddenly there are more things to write about and different people come to read.

For now, the walls are a bit confining. Maybe I’ll find something in the quiet space between them.

Wonky

It seems the recent update I installed for my blog has busted it a little bit. Viewing comments, in particular, seems to have gone a bit wonky. For some people. Some of the time.

Meh. No worries. I’ll look into it and get back to you.

Later the next day…

It looks like my theme busted with the upgrade! AAAAAUUUGGGHHH CHANGE IS BAD!

::muppet flail::

Okay, it’s not so bad. Boring, but fine. I was due for a change anyway.

 

Aaaaand… Scene.

Well now. Lookit me. I finished my NaBloPoMo, all 30 days of posting in November. Not all of them interesting, not many of them useful, nothing really earth shattering, but that’s okay.

Most days it was pretty easy to come up with something to write about, which is good. And keeping up my tradition of Saturday photos for Grammy and Grandad was helpful, too. A couple of days I had the OMG MY LIFE IS SO BORING IT SUCKS WHAT WILL I WRITE kind of angst, but generally speaking, it was a pretty good month.

I am not the sort of person who writes deep and meaningful things. I don’t try to discuss issues. I don’t generally write about anything topical, except to the parents and potential parents of other small humans. Or cat owners. Sometimes I appeal to cat owners. And people who like to read about someone who experiences life FAILs on a regular basis.

I don’t pretend to be an expert on anything, and I think that makes it pretty easy to talk, mostly superficially, about just about everything.

I’ve noticed the number of regular readers here has dropped steadily over the past couple of years, mostly as people lose interest once a milestone common to their own lives has passed. Once the infertility stuff was done, those folks sharing the journey moved on. Once our adoption was complete, the parents looking to learn from our experience moved on, one by one, as their own families became united. And a lot of folks who are also bloggers tend to drop off when they lose interest in blogging themselves.

And all that is fine. That’s the nature of blogging, really.

But that’s also why NaBloPoMo is a good thing for people like me, people who blog because… well, because we like to write about stuff. It is sometimes hard to stay motivated when your readers and commenters are disappearing, and hard to think of things to say that are of interest to those who remain. Having to post everyday makes you stretch your muscles a bit.

You have to dig a little deeper sometimes, and think of something to write about. Sometimes it may be short and sweet, but it’s still something. Sometimes, it’s simply an exercise to put words together, come up with some interesting turns of phrase, or find ways to express your thoughts or experiences in unusual or creative or more thorough and thoughtful ways.

And as you can read, the exercise didn’t always succeed for me. Meh. That’s the way it goes.

So congrats to my other successful November bloggers, for getting it done, and for those of you who gave it a good try even for a little while. I know how challenging it can be, so a hat tip to you.

And maybe it will inspire me to be a little more… at other times of year. We’ll see.

 

I Said That I Would Do It, And Indeed I Did

Awhile back I said I was going to start a blog about cooking. Mostly cooking, occasionally failing. So I did.

It’s here.

I’m still in the process of backposting stuff and making it look just so. And, hopefully, I’ve got the security settings right so a) people can actually SEE it, and 2) people can leave comments in the appropriate fashion.  So, you know, if someone could test that and get back to me, I’d be eternally grateful.

And I’ll post my famous gingerbread cookie recipe as thanks. OH WHO AM I KIDDING IT IS NOT MY RECIPE I STOLE IT. But I’ll still post it, just in time for the holidays.

So, I hope to back-fill a little bit with recipes, and post about new recipes I try, and challenges I have with meal plans and cooking, and my many and catastrophic cooking fails. And maybe I’ll even let guest bloggers post their favourite recipes, too. But mostly, I just wanted a place to post recipes that I find and like.

So have a look, and have fun.

 

You Want Me To What? Oh, Okay.

So, remember how I said, like, LAST WEEK even, that I am overextending myself by planning and scheduling ALL THE THINGS?

Yeah. Me too.

Well, I was online this morning, minding my own business, when somebody on Teh Interwebs put forth a challenge. It’s called NaBloPoMo, which is not an acronym for something rude, as you might be thinking, me being… well, ME. Nor is it some sort of fusion cuisine, to go along with my plans to blog about food with the Insane Cooking Posse.

It stands for National Blog Posting Month. It’s a spin on NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month, in which writerly types more dedicated than myself try to write a novel in a month. OH MY GOD WHO HAS THE ENERGY OR THE TIME. Instead, those of us with blogs try to post every day for the month of November, as a way to liven up a stagnant blog, or reinvigorate a flagging will to post, or simply as a way to challenge oneself and stretch those writing muscles.

Anyway. The challenge was put forth. And before my head got in gear my fingers were posting I’M IN TOO SO HELP ME DOG. Starting with yesterday’s post.

What am I, nuts? It’s not like I’m not already running around like some screwball 50s housewife, taking on waaaay more than I can rightfully accomplish and then just failing miserably. But I keep adding these things on, until the end of the show comes and like Lucy I am standing in the middle of some incredible mess bawling my eyes out WAAAAAHHHHH and you hear BDH hollering from off-camera CINNAMON YOU GOT SOME SPLAININ TO DO.

So that’ll be nice.

But here’s the thing. Sometimes, you need to challenge yourself in ways that are good for you. YOU. (I mean me. The royal “you”. Okay, I just made that up. But you know what I mean.) And writing, although people out there in Internetsland read it, is one of those things. It’s like a little bit of exercise for a little bit of creative muscle amid the running around and the cooking and the hollering HEY DON’T LICK THAT and the laundry and being the potty monitor.

So I’ll give it a try.

Don’t expect War and Peace every day. You won’t even get War one day and Peace the next. Likely what you’ll get is more of the same cursing, inane rambling, and waving my fist in futile anger at the universe. Probably towards the end of the month, a lot of foul language in regards to snow.

So, business as usual, then. With a more frantic tone as I begin to get frazzled. And probably more pictures when I get really desperate and OH MY DOG WHAT THE EVERLOVING HELL AM I GOING TO WRITE TODAY. Ish.

So. You can choose to change the channel until December. You can read along with great patience.

Or… YOU CAN JOIN ME. Be the Ethel Mertz to my Lucy.

How bad can it be? It’s November. It’s cold and crappy and dark. You got something better to do?

Rumours of My Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

So, my peeps, I have told you, MANY MANY TIMES, that Teh Internets are not a safe and friendly place. They are filled with many people with ill intentions, which is why I never post our names, or unprotected photos, or any of that stuff. I mean, we’ve been hacked in the past, but this week we’ve learned of another shady character lurking around blogdom.

Oh yes. We have discovered A BLOG STALKER.

Between 1 am and 2 am on March 23, somebody did a LOT OF SEARCHING through my blog.

A lot of people have had really nasty experiences with blog stalkers. They can be really nasty pieces of work. Now, to be fair, in this case, it seems that this is DEFINITELY NOT the case with our blog stalker.

Generally speaking, most blog stalkers are just stupid people who try to glean information from your blog, and most of the time, they are looking for gossip or, more specifically, if you are talking about THEM. Because they do not care about what you are writing — unless it is about THEMSELVES.

It is always, in fact, ALL ABOUT THEMSELVES.

So we are not too worried. A look at the searches our blog stalker employed to get around in my blog are full of terms that let me know, quite specifically, who they are and what they were looking for. The Google-fu, it is NOT strong with this one. Oh no.

(I can’t lie. The search for “cinnamonopus air conditioner dad” just about made me pee my pants.)

Also? We have two stats counters on the go, so we know where they are, and what their IP address is… so we are not concerned.

We are, however, endlessly diverted. It has been hilarious looking through this stuff and seeing what they were searching for. And equally fun was knowing that they were stonewalled at every search. Because, DUDE. I am SO not going to post that kind of stuff on TEH INTERWEBS.

I mean, COME ON.

So we had a giggle about it. In fact, quite a few of them.

But then Kelly emailed me this morning to tell me that my stalker showed up on HER blog. And here’s the kicker: they googled “cinnamonopus death” to get there.

CINNAMONOPUS DEATH. Did you SEE that?

DUDE. They were searching for ME, and DEATH.

Now, I am famous for getting email from remarkable people. Santa emailed me once. Also, so did the Pope. But the piece de resistance, the spam-to-end-all-spam, was of course when I got the email from DEATH. So I got to thinking, and there are a few possible scenarios:

1. Somebody was searching for me because they think I am dead. DUDE. Would I still be blogging if I were dead?

2. Somebody thought that by typing in “cinnamonopus death” that it would send a command out into the universe and I would, instantaneously, drop dead. Well, that is CERTAINLY some optimism right there. Either that, or they are not really clued in on how this whole Internets thing works. Either way, I gotta think they are disappointed right now. Possibly they should have started small, with “cinnamonopus toothache” or “cinnamonopus sick” or something.

3. Somebody knew I got an email from Death, and was trying to horn in on my action. Well all I can say to that is: Honey, you want to get in on my fantastic spam email? Too bad. You need to start SMALL, and work your way UP to the likes of Santa and The Pope and Death. Try talking to Kelly. Her appliances are ALWAYS emailing and insulting her, and I am SURE she’d be happy to pass on your email address to them.

4. I am dead, and nobody bothered to tell me. Well, I HAVE been tired recently. But you would think SOMEBODY would make mention of it if I were actually DEAD.

So, blog stalkers of the world, you’re going to have to get up PRETTY EARLY IN THE MORNING… no wait, you did that, and it didn’t work.

Lemme try that again: Okay, blog stalkers, you can’t beat the power of the stats programs to monitor your every click and search. We’re watching you, and having a whole helluva lot of fun doing so.

And for the rest of my friends out there, to set your mind at ease, I just have to quote Mark Twain and let you know that “Rumours of my death have been greatly exaggerated”.

World AIDS Day

Today is World AIDS Day. It is a day I always remember, and AIDS research and assistance charities are very close to my heart, even moreso now that we have a daughter that comes from a country that has been very hard-hit by this disease.

I am not going to ask you what you are going to do on this day. Charity, if one engages in it, is a very personal thing, and AIDS charities and work are not everyone’s first choice — to say it can be a somewhat politicized cause is probably a fair statement, even in this day and age.

I am, however, going to tell you what I am doing today, and all this month, actually.

I am knitting red squares for the Knit-a-Square project.

Knit-a-Square is a charity project in which people all over the world knit or crochet 8-inch squares. Those squares are then packed up and sent to South Africa, where they are sorted and sewn into blankets to give to children who have been orphaned by AIDS. Sometimes, they are also sewn into sweaters for kids to give them something to wear when the weather gets cold. But the end result is to give comfort and warmth to kids who have been devastated, and continue to be, by the loss of their parents to a really opportunistic, nasty disease.

Have a look at the site. Some of those kids could break your heart. But seeing them wrapped in blankets, THEIR blankets, sometimes one of their only possessions in this world — well, that’s what got me knitting.

Squares are easy. And quick. Two things I love in a knitting project.

The charity knitting group I belong to on Ravelry has chosen to use World AIDS Day as the stepping stone for this month’s knitting challenge — to knit red squares for the entire month of December. Not only is it the colour of the AIDS campaign, but it is also a colour of the Christmas season. However, because of the stigma attached to AIDS in many countries, the only caveat is to avoid the red ribbon motif, and instead make “plain jane” simple squares. Well, I am not good at patterns anyway, so that works fine for me.

Every time I look at my daughter, or at some of the other kids adopted from Ethiopia, it is hard not to remember the phrase “there but for the grace of God go I”. And having met a birth mom who was dying from AIDS and who had lost a husband to AIDS, whose daughter was being adopted by a Canadian family, while we were in Ethiopia… well, how could I pass up this challenge? This woman had such grace, such dignity, such beauty in the face of such a devastating situation — and her only goal was to make sure that her daughter had a family to love her and care for her for the rest of her life. As a mom now, I completely understand. I get it. And it makes me marvel at her strength and her selflessness.

I cannot think of her without wondering how she is. I cannot think of her without sending up a silent wish for her to live her remaining days in peace, and hoping her death is one without too much sadness and suffering. I cannot think of her without tears.

Every square I knit this month will be in her honour. She touched me greatly.

And while she had the strength and the resources to make an adoption plan for her beautiful girl, many cannot. And so I will knit, this month and always, to ensure that those moms’ and dads’ beloved children have something to keep them warm, some small consolation in a devastating time.

I cannot change the world. But I can do something. This is what I choose to do, and why.

And if you knit or crochet, and you feel you want to do something, have a look through the Knit-a-Square site. And get your sticks and hooks moving for a good cause.

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Looking for some good reading to put on your Xmas list? Well, since we’re on the topic, I have two recommendations.

  • And the Band Played On by Randy Shilts — This book outlines the beginnings of HIV/AIDS, and the early days of research, fear, politics and ignorance. It is a long but brilliant read from someone deeply affected by the disease in his community, who later succumbed to it. More than once, I wanted to heave the book across the room in anger and frustration at the issues surrounding AIDS and HIV in the West.
  • 28: Stories of AIDS in Africa by Stephanie Nolen — This powerful, compelling book outlines 28 stories of people living and dying with AIDS in present-day Africa from someone on the ground talking to and getting to know the people involved. Some of the stories will absolutely break your heart. And some will inspire. And I defy anyone connected with adoption in Ethiopia to read the story of the little girl caring for her brother, both orphaned by AIDS in Addis, and not feel the urge to hug their children that much tighter.

Jello for EVERYONE!

Please humour me a bit of bragging here, as yesterday I passed the 10,000 comment mark! Huzzah! Janice’s comment yesterday was officially number 10,000! (Sorry Janice. There’s no prize. Unless you count the admiration of your peers as a prize. Or seeing your name on Teh Internets. Sorry. I got nuthin’.)

Okay, sooooo… more than half of those 10,000 comments had to be spam, right? And if I look at my handy-dandy software, it shows that of ACTUAL REAL comments, I have 2,851. But STILL. The official number says over 10,000. And that is what I am going with. So there.

I don’t care. It’s February. It’s dreary. I am going to take this as an excuse to celebrate and RUN WITH IT, dude.

But I am trying to lose weight. DAMN. What the hell kind of celebration can you have with CARROTS AND CELERY, for the love of doG? I can’t even have dip with them!

OH! That’s it! SUGAR-FREE JELLO FOR EVERYONE! My treat!

Hm. Doesn’t have the same ring to it as something more decadent, does it?