Do It Badly

Really bad flower doodles
Another thing I do badly: doodle.

I was playing the piano today, and as I fumbled around on the keys as I do almost every day, I was reminded of a Toastmasters speech I gave a few years ago.

Do It Badly

How many times in our lives have we been told practice makes perfect, good enough isn’t good enough, practice doesn’t make perfect-perfect practice makes perfect, if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well. How often does a magazine cover catch our eye that extols that we bake the perfect cake? Make this the best holiday ever! Find the perfect gift. Drive the perfect car? In our search for perfection we may not realize:

Perfect doesn’t exist.

In fact, doing our best may not always be what it is cracked up to be. Maybe striving for the best might take some of the spontaneity, silliness, and fun out of life. Wouldn’t life be dull without those things? Wouldn’t life dish up more disappointment, dissatisfaction, and disillusion if we always demanded and expected perfection?

This idea really hit home to me one day while I was in a kindergarten class. The children were set to work drawing a picture for Thanksgiving on a piece of construction paper using crayons. One by one they were to take their picture to the teacher and show it to her for her approval. One little boy took his picture up and presented it to the teacher. No, she said shaking her head. This isn’t your best work. I want you to take that back to your seat and try again.

I was surprised. This was a five year old with a crayon? How do you know if that is his best work? Are there standards for five-year-old crayon art that I haven’t learned? How could this child improve on his art that would satisfy the teacher? I began to worry.

I started to think about things I haven’t put my best effort into. If any of you heard me play the piano you’d know exactly what I was talking about. I play piano, and I really play very badly. I’ve taken about 3 lessons, so I’m pretty much self-taught. I don’t practice, I just play. I mainly play really slow romantic songs because I read music really slowly and my fingers take a while to find the keys. My playing is so bad that one time a 6-year old I was looking after commented while I was playing: Do you know any songs?

But even my bad piano playing brings me a lot of joy. I love piano music and I love playing the piano so much I am happy to be able to play it badly. Someday I’ll take lessons and perhaps have time for that perfect practice. But for now, I am happy to occasionally hit the right notes and make something that sounds like music –if only to myself.

Another thing I do badly is watercolour painting. Watercolours lend themselves to imperfection. The single act of adding the wrong color to a wet piece of paper can lead to masterpiece or disaster. With watercolour you just don’t know. I’ve even taken a watercolour course. And I am still bad at it. What the course did was open the avenues for new imperfection. I can now do watercolours using several different techniques badly.

My water color pictures will never hang on the wall, in fact, they’re probably only suitable for lining a boot tray. Most look a bit muddy anyway. But I like to watch as the paint mixes and blends on the page. I like using the different types of brushes I have, just to see what I can do with them. I like making the paper wet and then when I’m done taking the hair dryer to it and watching it dry. I don’t care about the perfect results. I don’t care that no one else likes my painting. It’s perfectly alright that I do it all badly. Because it’s fun!

So how many times do we fret because the icing on the cake turned out oddly? Or you made your spouse breakfast and the scrambled eggs turned out like little bits of styrofoam/ Or the house isn’t perfectly cleaned, or the car windshield has nose prints on it right after we polished it—because we live in and use those things? They exist for our enjoyment, we don’t exist for their maintenance. So what if the beans don’t get planted in a perfectly straight row? Mother nature never worries about straight rows! So what if we do something badly, or imperfect? Especially if it brings you joy, if it’s fun, if it takes you away from your routine. If it brings a smile to your face than it’s worth doing badly.



I’m getting ready to walk over to the Remembrance Day services but thought I’d share something a Facebook friend shared on his timeline. We lost Leonard Cohen yesterday. I remember seeing Cohen reading back in the late 70s. I will always think of him as a poet first.  Somehow, following the events of the week, this song seems somehow fitting.

After the service, I plan to go count the ducks, then relax with a good book. Maybe bake something nice to eat. I have those choices because others sacrificed, and I am so grateful.


If You’re Thinking of Emigrating to Canada Post-Election

We’re all feeling shocked today. I’ve been thinking that I hope that the dire predictions that are floating around are all wrong. I hope your new president is the best one ever. I hope we all look back and shake our heads at how crazy-over-nothing we got. There are so many good, good people south of the border. We’d be glad to have you, but your country needs your energy and voice more right now. Upworthy has some words of wisdom for you.

If you’re tempted to move to Canada because of Trump, please read this first.

How I Felt..and This is My Thing

The end of October already? How did that happen? It was summer and then it snowed. Seriously, we had two inches of snow three days ago. I’m excited about my new helmet and goggles, but I’m not ready to snap on my skis yet! Then it got warm and the snow melted away.img_20161030_145237310 And now it’s colder again. The thermometer is bipolar. I have so many little projects going right now that it’s hard to worry about the weather, though.

This dress is just off of my sewing machine. I knitted the 50% Alpaca/50% Acrylic on my standard gauge knitting machine a while ago. Now, with cooler weather I decided I had to finish it right now. So I did. Now where will I wear it?

It’s quite plain, but I wanted it that way so I had an excuse to wear scarves or jewelry with it easily. Scarves, I have a few made up. Apparently, my mirror needs a good dusting.

Now that my mid-gauge machine is free, I need to make a black sweater set. Right now. I already have the patterns out. The camisole is quick. So I’ll make another, this time without all the mistakes. img_20161030_182343006

On my LK100, I’ve been making thick warm super-scarves. I had bought some vivid red by the pound at a mill outlet. The yarn was a mess and I spent more time detangling and splicing broken ends than I did knitting. Another for my daughter is almost complete,missing only one end of fringes.

And now, a manly man scarf is in production. But it hasn’t been all knitting. Pillows,slippers,  t-shirts, cards. And 11 liters of apple cider is blipping away in its carboy. We picked and juiced the apples, and are waiting impatiently for the best part. Cabbages are waiting to be made into saurkraut.

And, wonder how I felt? Here’s how. IMG_20161025_164111643.jpg

Alpaca fiber is being turned into felt, that will be made into slippers. Looks a bit like roadkill at this point. I can’t let the dog near it. MUTE_20160919_211502-ANIMATION.gif

This thing actually kinda works.

This is my thing. Or these are my things? I’ll ask the question again, as asked of me (in a roundabout way). What is your thing?


A Bit ‘bent

What’s that funny looking conveyance that man is sitting on in the photo on my Instagram feed? That is a recumbent tricycle. My husband has Parkinson’s Disease. It affects his balance and endurance. Riding a bicycle was getting a bit risky. He’d taken a few spills. So, we decided he needed something  more stable. Those big trikes aren’t cool. But recumbents definitely are, even for people without mobility problems.


This is a one person trike, although they can be made for two. It’s geared like a bicycle, and this one has the advantage of a small battery-powered motor that can either assist in pedaling, or propel the rider along without effort. With the motor alone, it can go up to 40kmh. Because my husband tires easily, he can use it to assist getting up hills, or when his legs just can’t pedal anymore. The recumbent position allows you to pedal with greater efficiency, and it is so much more comfortable than a regular bicycle. Having ridden this one, I don’t know why anyone would want to sit hunched over on a bicycle enduring sore bottom, wrists, shoulders, and neck. There are recumbent bicycles too, which I’d love to try.

This link takes you to a video of Thomas sharing the road with the snowmobile trail groomer back in January when he first got the trike. You don’t want to travel icy roads like these on two wheels!


Suddenly It’s Summer

From dreary, endless winter to high summer within a week! Suddenly I’m unpacking summer clothes and stashing the warm winter clothes. Around here though, there’s a good chance I’ll be pulling a few warm sweaters out.

We’ve spent a little time getting the backyard ready too. The gazebo screens are on so we’re ready to dodge the mosquitoes. And I’ve done a tiny bit of gardening–plopping a few petunias, herbs and morning glories in the small patch of sunny garden and a few planters I grow flowers in. We started geraniums early in the spring, and they’ve been put out now too. All my houseplants live outdoors in the summer, with some care to harden them off to the sun and wind.

Vegetable gardening is almost impossible in our yard. We have an area where a pool used to sit that we’ve been filling in with leaves, Here we can grow potatoes, and zucchini and cucumbers seem to be able to survive around the edges. Tomatoes are a loss, as they succumb to blight no matter what we do. The season is too short for nice peppers, and the only thing that grows reasonably well in the shade are leafy greens.

We absolutely ache for a backyard we can have a real garden in! To that end, and because a multi-level house with three sets of stairs and one partial set is not suitable for someone with Parkinson’s Disease we are slowly getting our house ready to sell. We plan to buy before we sell and get exactly what we want.

But first, there’s a wedding! I’ve been making a few things, my own dress included. It’s almost finished. I used the Butterick B5710. I’ll write a short post about my ‘adventures’ with this pattern in case anyone else still wants to sew with it. It’s an easy pattern–but setting that zipper–if you look closely, even the picture on the website shows a big bulge in it! There’s an easy fix though and a way to save some struggle.

With the dress somewhat out of the way (hand sewing the hems–yuck), my next task is photo-booth props. And that knit dress–the front and back are knitted and I’m sitting down to the sleeves. I’ve wanted this dress for ages, bought the knitting machine a year ago, and am finally getting it done. I’ve learned so much in the year, and there is an incredible amount still to learn, but I’m starting to make wearable garments, rather than sample swatches. Sewing on its own seems so much simpler now that I’m learning to make fabric from scratch! Buying a few yards off the bolt almost feels like cheating!


The "Pippa" dress--now a mother-of-the-bride dress.
The “Pippa” dress–now a mother-of-the-bride dress.

Another Project

I spent a good part of the day at the Creativ Festival in Mississauga and came home with two balls of yarn and a pattern for a summer shawl . Since I don’t know how to hand knit I’m working it up on my bulky gauge knitting machine. It’s already half done and I’m quite satisfied with the results so far . The yarn is called Nako Venus Heaven.