Monthly Archives: January 2014

Knit Picks

We’re long-time fans of yarnbombing, simply because this kind of street art gives us a lift. Now, thanks to a few mysterious gangs who know how to wield a pair of knitting needles in wintry weather, yarnbombing is literally giving people a warm, fuzzy feeling.

Last week, someone wrapped more than a dozen hand-knitted scarves around the necks of historical statues in downtown Ottawa, along with notes that offered the free scarves to anyone who needs them to keep warm.

The temperatures in the Ottawa region dropped to minus 28 degrees Celsius last week. For you people in the southern U.S., that’s the official freezing temperature of… well, just about everything.

It’s not the only place where yarnbombers are fighting the cold. A “Chase the Chill” campaign has been going on in Winnipeg for several years now. And knitters in Easton, Pennsylvania, introduced the idea back in 2010.

So don’t be alarmed if you see that a bronze World War hero in your community is suddenly sporting a multi-hued muffler. Hopefully, it will make someone smile. And maybe even toasty-warm.

Yes, okay, I admit this scarf is store-bought. I can’t knit worth a darn… (get it?)

Yes, okay, I admit this scarf is store-bought. I can’t knit worth a darn… (get it?)

Joy with Toys

As a little girl, I was devoted to the wooden dollhouse my grandfather had handcrafted for us. It had a red-painted roof, a staircase and railing, tiny doors that opened and closed, even a separate bathroom. I spent about a zillion hours playing with that house, pleasantly immersed in the dramatic (albeit imaginary) lives and times of the little rubber people who lived there.

So when I heard that an 81-year-old man from Montana has spent the last two years putting together dollhouses for children of needy families, I knew what a mega-gift that is.

Earl Hurshman, a retired steel fabricator, lost his wife in 2011. While visiting her grave, Earl was inspired to do help others – could practically hear his departed wife’s voice nagging him to “get off your ass and do something,” he says in this interview.

Each dollhouse costs him $200. Some of that money is donated from others. The rest he ponies up himself (he lives on social security cheques). The beautiful finished toys mean the world to the children who receive them.

Check out his words of wisdom in this video report: “It’s what we do between the cradle and the grave that makes a difference,” Earl points out.

Earl has always been good with his hands. Now there’s proof he’s good with his heart.

Snow Angels

After the recent ice storms, cold snaps, melting floodwaters, wet monsoons or whatever else we were hit by this past month in Toronto, there are countless stories to be told of people helping people. (In many ways it’s a repeat of the storm-related kindnesses I wrote about in July – except that this time, failed air conditioning does not factor into the tale).

One of the most comforting stories is the one about John Friesen, who was stranded in his pickup truck for almost 24 hours on a rural road near Leamington, Ontario, while the temperature plummeted to -25 Celsius. (That’s -13 for you Fahrenheiters.) John is 70 and has a disability, so after his truck got in a snowbank, he couldn’t exactly hike out for help. It didn’t take long for his vehicle to become buried in drifting snow – and for the neighbours to assume the driver had gotten out safely, and left the truck behind.

In reality, John had been reported missing, and police had been searching for him fruitlessly all night long. That’s when the manager of the city’s public works department got involved. He gave his snowplow drivers a description of the missing man and vehicle, and these crews joined in the search. “They know the less travelled roads,” a police spokesperson explained to CBC News.

It paid off. A snowplow driver spotted the truck, so covered in snow that only its taillight was visible. John was inside – awake and alert, pretty darn cold, but presumably delighted to be rescued. “It’s a fortunate ending to something that could have been tragic,” the police spokesperson said.

What weather looked like recently at our house. (Just stop telling me about your tropical vacations. It’s much better for all of us.)

What weather looked like recently at our house. (Just stop telling me about your tropical vacations. It’s much better for all of us.)

And It Won’t Even Show Up On Your Credit Card

Over the holiday break, I had some free time in front of the computer. (Who didn’t? This was our opportunity to watch trailers for all the movies we want to see, figure out that song lyric that’s been driving us crazy (we’re still not sure just what Bon Iver is singing in “Holocene,” but we’ve established that it’s NOT “shake and bake and stick with herbs”), and get reacquainted with that video dog who loves the maple-flavoured bacon.

I’m also on a mission to find a reasonably priced dining table for a friend in our national capital region. So there I was, nosing around Craigslist Ottawa, when I came across a special giveaway under the “Free” section titled: “Good Karma.” I clicked on it, and apparently in so doing, affirmed my faith in positive vibes:

GOOD KARMA.. You opened it so you believe in it too.
Something good will happen to you between 12:00pm to 9 am tomorrow. No could happen anywhere , anytime. To spread the positive Karma, repost this in another city in the next 10minutes.
you will get the shock of your life tomorrow. i believe . i hope you do too.
what do you have to lose??? just do it. just believ.

Okay, so it’s riddled with typos and reads like a chain letter. It’s kinda cute nonetheless. Spreading positivity? What could be wrong with that?

Apparently, something is. Because when I checked the listing later, I found a one-line message instead: This posting has been flagged for removal. What that means is that several Ottawa residents decided free karma is a violation of the Craigslist terms of use. I’m not sure which portions of the agreement were specifically breached (was it considered offensive? Threatening? Stolen property? Non-local content? A pyramid scheme?). But, sadly, this positive giveaway has had the kibosh put on it.

No matter. On this blog, you can be as positive as you want and no one will flag you. I promise. Happy, happy, joy, joy. Say it like you mean it!

Even this smiley-faced tree kangaroo is brimming over with good vibes.

Even this smiley-faced tree kangaroo is brimming over with good vibes.