Sunday, January 23, 2011


"I think I am getting sick."

I received this text from Mike on wednesday night and my stomach dropped. My mind started racing. Sick? The last time he got sick, the illness got to us all, incapacitating us into whining sniveling family unit for over three weeks. It's truly terrifying. The best you can hope for is that everyone will get sick around the same time, close to a weekend, far from exams, and that if (god forbid) there are complications, it is when the clinic is open. It's a nasty thing to have to wait in the hospital for four hours.

Now, on Sunday, Mike is mostly better, Ender has yet to get sick (knock wood) and i am sitting with a raging fever waiting for the clinic to open. The nurse line that I called recommended that I go, a decision that I would not have made for myself. Though sitting in bed all day yesterday hacking my lungs up wasn't pleasant, it was far superior to waiting in a doctors office. The nurse thinks i have a lung infection, and I have no doubt that this is the truth. I also know that I would be just fine without antibiotics, thank you very much, but Mike makes his puppy dog eyes at me and I have to go.

Hopefully this will resolve itself soon...until next time.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A day in the life...

Pinpointing when a mother wakes up is sometimes a difficult thing. When someone asks me what time I woke at up, the first question I ask is, "Which time?" Lately, due to some sleep disturbances, I have been waking up at four thirty, five thirty, six thirty and seven. This morning was no different. By seven, I gave up on putting Ender back in his bed, listened to his little padded feet go 'padpadpadpad...padpad' and let him crawl into bed with me for a little while. Mike had been up late last night working on some homework, and hadn't gotten much sleep either, so it was a slow waking.

I made breakfast, (eggs with immersion blended kale, mushrooms, green peppers and tomato, with a side of sausage) while Mike got Ender dressed and put him on the potty. We ate, drank coffee, and Mike fetched the car from the lot, while I got Ender's sweater and boots on. I gathered up my school supplies, trying to remember, through my generally fuzzy mom brain what classes I had that day. Mike came back with the car, and I put on my own shoes and coat, and then Ender's coat and hat. This sequence is important. If you put Ender's coat on first, and wait, he will get very upset. He only will put up with wearing his coat if there is forward motion involved. I guess he gets that from me. He also dislikes if you put your coat on, or shoes, and then don't proceed to immediately put on his own outerwear, as then he assumes you are leaving without him. Sure, we are slaves to routine, but we also do what works.

Then, Mike drove me to school with Ender. I said my goodbyes, grabbed a cup of coffee and headed into the studio. I was there a half an hour early, which was perfect to get some homework done. Mike likes to do his homework at night, but I like to squeeze it in whenever I can by going to class a half an hour early every day, and working through all my breaks. That way it seems like I get maximal relaxing time, as well as time with Ender. So, I broke out my hip pocket sample and started to sew it up. I had a good conversation with my professor, so I sewed it wrong several times and had to go back, but made some progress. Then class started, where we learned to sew a sample welt pocket in wool. Wool was everywhere. My head ached from trying to stare at navy thread in navy wool, which absorbs light.

But, luckily enough, I completed my wool welt pocket by working through my lunch break, which meant no extra homework for that week. I couldn't have been more pleased. Next was show class, where we are working on costumes for the upcoming show. I was put in charge of hats, but also assigned a dual character (with one actress) who (unfortunately) has to wear a suit. Suits are not like dresses, they can't fit wrong and you can't claim its a design feature. Everyone can tell when a suit doesn't fit, so a few alterations had to be done to make sure that the suit fit her well. I took in the pants, put in a hook and eye closure, and still have to restitch in the lining. I also changed out the buttons on her vest for more netural coloured ones, designed a pocket for the inside of her jacket to hold a gold brick (?) and pulled a few scarfs and hats out of the closet at the request of the designer. Again, I did this through my break for dinner.

By five o'clock, I realised that I had history class in an hour and I hadn't eaten yet.  Luckily my classes are held above a grocery store, so I grabbed a few things --fruit for Ender, an immune system boosting elixer for mike who texted me to tell me he was getting sick-- and for me, a hunk of cheese and a pack of crackers. Not just any hunk of cheese, some kind of mouldy, delicious brie-like cheese. I got a knife from the attached restaurant and a plate, and headed off to history of costume class. There, I ate my cheese and crackers, listening to a lecture on Tudor era costume, and briefly talking to my friend Marlee regarding the possibility of one sewing their own jeans. Apparently she is going to try. This hour and a half was the most luxurious part of my day.

Mike picked me up at the end of class, and we drove home. It was my night to put Ender to bed, and already a little past his bedtime when I got home, so I scooped him up and put him in the bath, singing him songs, pouring warm water over his little body and giving him a little sudsy baby shoulder massage. I put him to bed, and he fell asleep pretty quickly. Now I'm here, writing a blog and considering what I should do with the rest of my evening.

A day in the life of me. Admittedly, Wednesday is my busiest of all days, and usually the most draining. This one in particular was hyperactively ridiculous. My brain hurts.

Much love to you, dear readers, that was a catharsis that I needed indeed.  

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Projects on the Go!

As I get to know more people in the costume studies program, I am blown away by how much talent I am surrounded by. I add people to my facebook, and see that they have a multitude of fascinating interests. It makes me wish I knew them even better. It also makes me feel insecure. I've always considered myself to be the one with obscure interests, so while being surrounded by like-minded people is nice, it simultaneously makes you wonder if you are as awesome and badass as you think you are. So, I'm going to list my current and prospective projects to make myself feel better. They are listed in order of progress, and all are extracurricular, that is, a separately daunting pile of work. Hardy har.

1. At the moment I'm making a 18th century style pocket. Its embroidered on linen and I will post pictures when it is finished, but the V&A has some pictures here. Back then women had their skirts sewn with holes on each side and the pockets, which were the size of two purses, were separate garments worn under the skirt. I'm only making one, and mine is a little scaled down, but I think I'm going to wear it as a funky fanny pack/purse dealie.

2. 1776 style stays, from Diderot's "Tailleur de Corps". It is a very well known and classic pattern for half-boned stays (popularly known as corsets, but that term didn't come into use until later). The progress on this is stalled. I've drafted the pattern in muslin, done a fitting, and cut my three layers of fabric. I still need to buy boning for it, stitch that in, and bind it around all edges. All in all its a huge project that I am delaying because I know I'm bound to run into some weird roadblock.

3. Soap making. No, not your sweet pretty variety, but bulk household soap. In my Natural Life magazine, there was a recipe to make a 5 gallon bucket of soap that is good for washing your hair, dishes, laundry, and more. It requires minimal supplies, is cost effective, fragrance free and reduces the amount of packaging your household consumes by a large margin. We still need to buy supplies for this, but Mike is very much on board with this as well.

4. Full Victorian outfit for myself, which is by far the most ambitious and far off of the projects. My mother gifted me with the most lovely book of period patterns, and there is a few in particular I'd like to make. So, this involves making a corset (Farthingales has a serviceable corset making kit which would be sufficient and make quick work of it), petticoats, possibly a bustle, basque bodice and walking skirt. As I explained to a classmate, I don't think it would be terribly difficult to create something that would look good, I am just terrified of purchasing that much fabric. The first step really, is to make the corset. The second, to scale up the patterns, adjust them to my shape, and do a mock up in muslin.

Aside from all this, school is providing many interesting opportunities. I was assigned head of hat making for the production of The Madwoman of Chaillot, and the teacher is so wonderful and is giving me fairly free reign over the design process. Sewing feathers, tulle, veiling and other sparkly bits to hats is so much fun. The characters are quite ostentatious as well, so there is no worry of having to remain within the boundaries of good taste. Pictures of those once finished will grace my page here as well.

Things continue along here in our household. Ender is having some difficulties with sleep at the moment. He is sleeping on his own futon still, but he is taking about an hour to settle down each night. Now that Mike and I take turns every other night putting him down, it is less stressful, but it is a lot of unpleasant time. We figure he is trying to learn how to put himself to sleep, wanting our closeness but not our help. I can only imagine it is very frustrating, and I'm glad that we have once again chosen our conscience over convenience, and stuck by him to comfort him through his difficulties. He is also at a peak of language development, which can lead to sleep problems. According to doctors, children at this age are learning as much as ten words a day (internally, not yet able to speak them all, but to understand) and attempting to absorb all of this means lighter wave sleep.

Mike's birthday came and went, celebrated with a few small gifts and a very loudly coloured angel food cake. We went out for drinks with some friends, and friends of friends, and relatives. It was a nice evening, and while I do in general prefer being a hermit in my little house, it was nice to go out and see some people. I'm glad that Mike was able to celebrate his birthday in good company.

I think that's all for now dear readers, a show coming up and several papers, so it may be a while before you hear from me again, but you will. Oh yes.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Home businesses and Home schooling

So, after my incredibly preachy last post (apologies everyone) I thought I'd give in and do a less thematic and more rambly blog post. You know, the kind I'm known for?

Christmas break has me going absolutely crazy. A month off doing nothing is way more time than I need. I like school so much that I would be perfectly happy if there were no breaks at all, and that has me thinking about what I am going to do when summer break comes, which is quite a few months.

Because Mike's school will take longer than mine (mine is over in two years, his in four) I would like to do something in the meanwhile. The jobs available to me here in Halifax are limited, there's really only one wardrobe to speak of and it's a pretty difficult club to get into. If I could, I would in a heartbeat. However, I'm thinking that I will start my own business in the meanwhile, beginning when I'm off school. My concept is that it will be mostly for historical re-enactors and weddings. I thought about making myself available to theatre companies that don't have their own wardrobes, but realistically I don't think I could take on the production of a cast's wardrobe myself, no matter how small. I want to get down to the details, the nitty-gritty, and have time to really focus on authenticity. This is what I see lacking in the market. And I know my market very well. For years I have stalked the websites of pretty much every big name online in historic re-creation. The main problem? A lack of authenticity. It seems that re-creators are willing to deal with a few iffy bits for an overall look, but a trained eye immediately sees something is off. I can always pick it out. Often it's the fabric (synthetics hang wrong, and upholstery fabric usually has a pattern too large to be authentic) or the closures (how hard is it to make a thread covered button?) or something as simple as an inaccurate cut, and foundation garment. The best re-creation garments are being made in Europe, mostly the netherlands. I'm not sure why, but I do know in this time of e-commerce I have a real chance at breaking into a market and being known for quality. My education is really quite priceless, in that regard.

That's the dream.

There are hold backs, of course. One of which is space. Mike has dominated the guest room/studio, with his stuff, and we have to face the reality that room will one day be Ender's. I don't have a table to cut on (essential) and the lack of space makes the smallest projects very difficult to execute. Not to mention a four yard Victorian walking skirt. So there are logistics to consider. One solution may be rearranging the studio space in the summer when Mike will be using it less, another may be renting out some space to do my work. Either way, this is what is on my mind.

The other thing that is on my mind is school. Not for me, but for hte little man. He seems like he is growing up so fast, hitting new and more subtle milestones. He sleeps through the night, uses a potty, and for all intents and purposes, is not a baby anymore. The thought of sending him to a public school just jarrs me in a way I can't explain. Sure, you can dismiss it as mommy jitters that everyone has, but I know it's more than that. I don't believe in institutionalisation. I don't think it's a good thing that we teach our children to arbitrarily follow figures of authority, simply based on their age and occupation. I believe in the power of rational discourse. I think that children should be allowed to justify their actions, and be involved in the discussion that surrounds their education. Their education should involve real world experience, taught by various people of various backgrounds, rather than a pack of children their own age who have little to teach eachother aside from confusion and bigotry. So...where does that leave us? Alternative schools (which exist only in big cities, like Toronto), private schools (expensive), home schooling (time consuming) or ideally, a schooling circle. This is what I'd like to find. Some like minded moms who each take on a little bit of their children's education. We all would have something to contribute, and it gives such opportunities for unusual learning opportunities. I think having a kid work at a cash register at a bakery for a week teaches them more about science, math, and sociology than anything they could learn about in school. And what about travel? For a third of the price of private school, we could take Ender to see some of the best museums in North America.

Just a few thoughts jumping around in my brain. I really shouldn't blog when I've had too many glasses of wine, though.