Meet Harriet


I have a new friend. Her name is Harriet, at least that’s what we call her. I just finished making her lunch – delicious boiled potatoes. No salt, no butter, no sour cream.

She’s a Mallard and has been visiting our front yard for the past several weeks. She scoops up seeds, lots and lots of seeds thrown out of feeders by cardinals, chickadees, wrens, doves, woodpeckers in two sizes, finches, flickers, and just lately, red winged blackbirds.

Harriet has to fight the squirrels for seeds. She stands up for herself and sends them on their way if they intrude. So proud!

Harriet had been missing for two days and we were worried about her. Coyotes roam the conservation area next door and she may be seen as a tasty morsel. But she returned. Joy reigns! Perhaps she was off making babies.

While she was gone I read up on Mallards. Eggs arrive and incubation begins mid-March. She’ll have up to 12 ducklings and those little guys can run, swim, and forage a day after hatching, according to Google. Amazing. We’re hoping that she brings them by for snacks.

Harriet’s Lunch

My Google source mentioned that Mallards like potatoes, so, lunch. She wasn’t thrilled with the closeness required to deliver it and quacked her way down the driveway, considered her options, took to the air. I’m hoping she discovers her lunch tomorrow.


When Was I Last Excited by a Pattern?

What a thrill – knitting for decades, falling in love with a pattern newly introduced on Ravelry, buying it, and then a revelation.

I was madly in love with Sian.

I’ve bought lots of patterns on impulse. Not knitted many. I have almost as a large pattern stash as my yarn stash. Ridiculous.

But this one – in a completely different category from anything else I’d ever purchased. I hadn’t been this excited since I made my first cabled sweater.

Continue reading “When Was I Last Excited by a Pattern?”

A Musician Faces Her Isms

If we pay attention, sometimes parts of our lives inform other parts.

Since George Floyd was murdered, I think that all of us, no matter if we accept our racism – or not; no matter if we believe that the police methods and their funding must change – or not; no matter if we protest – or not, all of us have been profoundly affected and we are seeing and doing and saying things differently, no matter if we admit it – or not.

For me, this writing is one thing, but I am one who makes connections, and when they appear, I find I must heed them. Right now, I am heeding the messages of my flute lessons, begun not long ago on Zoom with a wonderful teacher from Cape Town.

The essential components of my started-during-Covid19 flute lessons are paying attention, curiosity, listening, examining, feeling, patience, intelligence, and taking time.

And not trying hard. Doing what’s needed but not trying too hard to make the good stuff happen right here, right now in the early days.

Those seem like wonderful lessons, too, for looking at our racism.

There was an amazing woman on the news this week. She’s known as the TicTok grandma and she posted this, “Did you know you can make sure there are empty seats at Trump’s rally?” Her post went viral and it seems that she was responsible for lots of Tulsa Trump rally tickets being sold to teenagers, the main TicTok subscribers. They did not attend.

I love what this woman posted. I love that it went viral and its effect. (I am no fan of Trump). I love her intelligence and candor. What I don’t love is my fatism. TikTok Grandma is fat. No denying it. I look at someone who is fat, someone I don’t know and I assume that they are not intelligent. No – tell the truth – that they are stupid.

It isn’t that there aren’t intelligent and wonderful fat people in my past and present, there were, there are; but there is no denying that I have a bias. I am a fatist.

So there’s racism and fatism. How about ageism? Misogyny? Antisemitism?

What will you admit to?

Here are mine –

• Racism

• Fatism

• Ageism

• Misogyny

• Any others that pop up for you?

It might appear surprising that the woman who writes this, a 73 year old woman, is ageist and misogynistic. But no doubt about it, I am.

Forever, feelings have popped up, ‘you are less than’ feelings when looking at blacks, the fat, the old, women, especially old women. Comparisons.

So what links flute lessons and racism for me? The focus on newly introduced flute essentials of paying attention, curiosity, listening, examining – focuses that were happening at the same time as the George Floyd murder, turned my brain, however unconsciously, to him and how I feel when I see a black man. I saw it and I felt it in away I hadn’t before.

Anecdote – Back in university, a black man asked me out and and I said yes. Shortly after I changed my mind and said no. I said yes out of racism and said no out of racism.

So what has changed for me? This on a walk a few days ago is informative. I live near a creek. A bridge over it connects a path for bikes and walkers. Bikers are supposed to walk their bikes over the bridge but I’ve seen maybe 3 do that in the 7 years we’ve lived here. We were talking to a couple of 60ish women on the bridge, one of whom said, “You are supposed to walk your bikes.” to a white couple who didn’t. A minute later a black man and two children road their bikes over. She said nothing to them but to us said, “ If I said anything to them, it would be racism.” I said, “It is racist to not say anything to them.” She got it.

I don’t think she would have said what she said, thought what she thought, or understood what I said, nor would I have said what I said, if it wasn’t for George Floyd’s murder and the world wide protests.

And if not for George Floyd I would not have been smacked in the face with my fatism. And my awareness of my other isms.

The flute lessons also require being patient, thoughtful, and taking time. Examining and learning and changing my attitudes to others requires all of that, too.

I’m going to hold myself to account.

I fear as I write this that some may think I equate my isms. I do not. They are mine. Yours are yours.

We will become conscious and deal with them – or not.

The photo? Mists we travel though, on the bridge.


I’m continuing to donate the selling price of my patterns on Ravelry to Black Lives Matter wherever the purchaser would like. Or to an indigenous support organization. Anywhere in the world – your choice.


We write, my friend and I. We have been writing for a year or so,  word a day, taking turns choosing the word. There are no rules. Use the word as inspiration, that’s all.

My friend, my writing partner, writes directly, the word is always present. I don’t; I use the word as  jumping off point.

I want to share some recent writing. The word is willow. I don’t know why I have the impulse to put these out into the world right now, but I do, so here they are. My writing partner agreed. Both are about pain and endurance. Maybe that’s it.

Continue reading “Writing”

Learning A New Technique

There’s that moment when you get it – a new cast on, a math concept, what that philosopher really means – the eureka moment. Before that moment, for me, there’s just a mess, in my mind and, when it’s knitting, on my needles, too.

It’s taken me years to recognize and appreciate a talent of mine; I make every possible mistake there is to make when learning a new knitting technique. This makes me an extremely valuable member of the Pro-Knitters group I belong to and a very reassuring member of the Knit Night group.

Continue reading “Learning A New Technique”

What a Wonderful Weekend!

It snowed this weekend, not so much that we were snowed in, just enough that the roads were sticky and the landscape was beautiful. Wonderful things happened this weekend.

On Saturday January 19th, Women’s Marches were held in cities all over the world. The first one was held 2 years ago, the day after Donald Trump’s inauguration, in protest. I attended that one in spirit only but was very happy to attend the Women’s March in Toronto in person this year.

Better late than never is my Pussy hat, too. I was successful in persuading the beautiful friend, see her photo up above, to march with me and to knit a Pussy hat, too.


Why march? In solidarity with all women. A quote that says it all for me, “I’m with her, and her, and her…” See what many women had to say right here.

We marched, too, for the reason expressed on this button.




An angel appeared when I was just starting to shovel my driveway and asked if I had another shovel. We did the whole thing in 15 minutes while our dogs played. The angel’s name is Suzanne. We had never met.

And Hugo got to play/fight with two dogs. Happy poodle! Happy weekend!


Hugo Goes on Vacation

Hugo, the yarn-eating poodle, is going on vacation. There was a request for his requirements so I thought I’d find out what he wanted to say. He’s likely to be really excited and have some excite-a-piddle going on, too, even though he’s not a puppy anymore. He may not be able to say everything when he arrives at the house full of girls and one guy, so here it is, in his own way…

I love to play, I love girls, I am a good boy who will be an excellent guest. That is my goal. The girls, when they came into my house, (they came to my house! the joy!) I was so excited I did not know what to do with myself, what shoe to grab and show off, who to see first? Six new people in my house and 5 of them were girls! A whole week, that’s what I hear them saying, they are going away, I see a suitcase. A whole week of girls and Vince. I love Vince. He holds my paw. I love holding hands.

My life is all about play. My best friend is Kenny and Ilona is his mom. We play hard many mornings, running and fighting all around the park. It would be nice for me to see Kenny and do that, but really, it’s not essential. It really isn’t. That’s a thing about poodles; we love to run and play but we also are deeply contented to be at home and snuggle. Some mornings I can just go out to pee in the back yard, have my food, then go back to sleep. It’s hard for me to accept, but I am not in charge, the humans are. They have things to do that don’t involve me. 

I wonder if I’ll see Vince much. This was his idea, my visit, but I’m pretty sure it will be Kim who takes care of me. She has so much to do. It will be lots of fun to follow her all around the house. I look like I’m asleep but I’m always alert. I am very good at not running downstairs on the heels of the humans. I may need reminding, and I do want to be a good dog, so tell me “Stay” at the top of the stairs and I will. Be sure to call me when you reach the bottom and I’ll come tearing down.

Whose bed will I sleep on? What are their couches like? I’ll bet there will be shoes and slippers, lots and lots of shoes and slippers! 

I will get to see Portia/oops! Porsche? I like her; she likes me. We run. She doesn’t much like other dogs but she likes me. All other dogs like me. I am dominant but not aggressive. I like people, too. Except for Adam. I don’t like Adam. I don’t know why. All I want to do is growl and bark. I was a little happier with him when he gave me some of my favourite liver treats. 

I suss out other dogs. I stand and look, stand and sense, check it out and see if it’s someone/some dogs I know. My eyes aren’t all that great but my nose knows and so do my ears. I don’t want to get to know some dogs. I love Blue. Jennifer and Bill belong to her. We three, Kenny, Blue and I play and play. Sometimes I get jealous when Kenny and Blue are ignoring me and I bark and bark at them. It really annoys the humans.

After walks, especially snowy or muddy walks, I need to have my paws cleaned. My mom stands with the towel; I sit. I put my right paw up. (my mom calls it “Your right paw” – Where is the wrong paw?) When that’s clean, I put up my my left paw. (she calls it “Your other paw.”) Then I turn around, (sometimes I need the encouragement of being told “Back Paws”) and I put up my left one first, then the other one. Usually I’m still a bit wet so I have to stay on the mat by the door. I know what “Down” means but sometimes I just don’t want to do it, but I must. I am a good dog.

Here’s what I eat –

  • food – after being outside in the morning – 1 1/2 cups of the kibble and the same in the evening. I get a little snack – about 1/3 of the cup around noon.
  • I’ll bet I’ll be eating lots of treats so maybe I should have just 1 cup morning and night.
  • after the evening food, I always get a special treat of a pig ear piece. Really crunchy, but gone in a flash. I always ask for more. Sometimes I get one, not always. Sometimes I get a cookie, too.
  • I hang around the kitchen (oh, that’s what I’ll see Vince!) at dinner time. I’ve perfected a mournful, needy look that used to get me a treat but it’s not so effective anymore. She’s on to me. It may work on new people though.
  • I love meat, raw scraps of beef, chicken, pork – meat!
  • I’ll sleep anywhere. I do like beds so maybe I’ll get to sleep on lots of girls’ beds.

One day I lost my mom in the park. I did not know where she went and I got so worried so I went home and waited in the driveway. Eventually she came up the path and I stood in the driveway and barked and barked until she got there then I jumped all over her. She came home! She wasn’t lost! 

My mom just sent an email to the moms and dads of Kenny, Blue, Ollie, Cooper, and Flynn and told them if they see me all alone on the driveway to tie me up in the back yard and text you with a message that I am found and am at home waiting for you.

I’ll guard your house. I’m very good at barking really loudly. I do have to be told to stop. I’ve turned onto a much more protective poodle since she came home from the hospital and couldn’t walk. I need to protect her. I’ll protect you, too. But if you tell me it’s all OK I’ll stop barking when the people come in and I’ll find a nice shoe or toy to give them.

Will I miss my mom? Will she come home? I don’t know but maybe if you send her pictures of me to remind her what a good dog I am she’ll want to come home. She told me it was a holiday for me, whatever that is, and I know I’m going to have lots and lots of fun with lots of girls and I think she usually tells me the truth. When I can’t go with her and have to stay home, she tells me that she will be back and to “Guard the house!” I like having a job. You can tell me to guard the house, too. 

I will be a good dog but I’ll probably chew lots of slippers. 


(Isn’t that sign at the top the best welcoming sign ever for a dog? I feel so special! Maybe I’ll get to keep it as a reminder.)

It’s 2019 – Happy New Year!

My Yarn Sale

(For details about all those toques, scroll down!)

It’s year end and I have not written a word here since my yarn sale. It went very well, thank you! Most of all it was fun, lots of fun.

A few people suggested an annual event with lots of yarn sellers and yarn buyers. (Admit it, we are the same people). I love that idea, especially with a show and tell display – projects made from the yarn we bought in previous years. It would be inspiring to see another’s creativity at work with what no longer inspired us.

Here’s what happened –

  • it was a fun day – I know I’m repeating myself
  • people renewed acquaintances with one another, years after meeting while knitting at some other time in some other place
  • sisters of friends met up in my living room and surprised one another
  • friends gave friends rides from downtown Toronto to Pickering  
  • lots of knitters and crocheters bought lots of yarn
  • I was delighted
  • two days later, I donated everything that didn’t sell to The Textile Museum of Canada. If you are looking for high quality yarn and fabric bargains next Spring, head to their major fundraising event
  • I am happy; I have space in my work/knit/play/sew/draw room – maybe even get the knitting machine going again. And I have room to do yoga, a new interest
  • and my husband is delighted by the reduction “clutter” – his word

To everyone who came – thank you! And many thanks to my friend Kim. It would have been chaos without your enthusiastic and knowledgeable help.

See you next year for a group sale. If you live nearby, start setting aside the yarn you’re not sure about now. I’ll send out a plan early next Fall.

What are Those Toques? Lots and Lots of Toques!

A word to those in other countries, toque = beanie, although to be a toque it must stand up to cold Canadian winters, not be a fashionable skullcap, not that fashionable skullcaps aren’t simply adorable.

Hence, the warm looking toques you see above are for participants in the Ontario Parasport Games taking place in Durham in February. As is usually the case with these things, someone told someone who told more someones and quick as can be, all 400 skeins of yarn were gone to knitters across the region. Our new knitting group managed to get at least one for each of us, 18 of us, and we volunteered to knit more, too, including the red ones to sell to games attendees. We made lots. I didn’t count how many.

(Small aside – the gifts for such events are usually t-shirts, but some clever person, oh, it must have been a knitter, had the idea of toques, hand knitted toques.)

Brand new knitters in the group made toques for their very first project, so impressive, and others used the toques to reacquaint themselves with the craft after decades-long lapses. There was teaching, learning, laughing, pom pom creation, and pride. Included with each toque were these postcards, with a personal note from each knitter to the athlete who will wear it.

We were all delighted. What a pleasure for us all and what a terrific way to launch a knitting group, making something for the community.

For Christmas gifts, we made Tricksy Knitter’s Leafy Washcloth, a real skill builder, a chance to try out cotton or linen yarn, yarn without the give or bounce of wool.

Next we’re making something for ourselves, socks, two at a time on circular needles. I’ll be sitting and taking instruction for this project. I’m not a sock maker. I made one once (yes, just one). One of the experienced among us suggested this as the next project – begin making socks two at a time and we’ll never have to suffer second sock syndrome. We are all game. Brave new knitters!

Happy New Year! I’m wishing for you in your homes and your hearts what I wish for the world – less war, more sanity, less fear, more fearlessness, more compassion, care and understanding for the vulnerable.

And for the makers, learn something new in 2019 and teach someone something new.