Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Tea Parties and Great Big Sea

Today was the second day of classes; it went alright for the most part. However, I dropped Health Psychology as fast as the instructor could say: "This course will be hellish if you don't like group work". Yes, those were her exact words. Sorry folks, but I work hard for my GPA and come close to having an anyeurism anytime a fellow student takes a crack at it. So, I have yet to finalize my courses. Luckily, my feet were happy while the rest of me suffered through Health Psych, because last night I finished these:

Socks knit using my standard sock pattern and Sheepjes Invicta Coloris yarn, which was a gift from Mom last Christmas. This is my favorite sock yarn, I love the colours and the way it knits up. And thanks to Marie, I now have two more balls waiting in line to be knit up.

One thing about Smith that has amused me is the prevalence of the tea party on campus. Houses have formal teas every Friday afternoon, to which faculty are sometimes invited. In addition, tea is something that is frequently used as a social get together among Smith women. Last Saturday, it was the girl across the hall's birthday, and I found myself in her room with six other girls drinking tea and eating chocolate, which she had brought back from her Christmas travels to Switzerland. Not your usual Saturday night dorm-room party...

I also talked to a girl who lives on my floor, and it turns out that her absolute favorite band is Great Big Sea. She is from New Jersey, and was quite enthralled that I go to school in Newfoundland (to Alan Doyle's alma mater no less), and have seen them in concert. It also turns out that Great Big Sea is coming to Northampton in April. She has tickets but can't go, so guess who gets to be the lucky beneficiary! Well, I have many course syllabi to go through tonight, so that I can decide what my future will entail...

Saturday, January 28, 2006


Last night was awesome. Did I mention before how much I love my team? This weekend, we're hosting our invitational tournament, and our first match was last night against Middlebury College. While we lost, a great time was had by all - the match was followed by Thai food and good team fun. Sometimes I like to think of the random events that brought me here. It was luck that I wound up on the squash team, that I didn't know my way around the gym and accidentally walked in on the varsity team meeting. It was lucky that the team captain worked as a door checker at the music building, where she encouraged me to go out for the team every time I went to go practice.

Now, I'm hooked on a sport that I enjoy more than anything else I've tried. Maybe it's because squash is so new to me that I see progress every day, and it's gratifying. Maybe it's because I get to think and strategize while I play, or because it's a team sport with a strong individual componenet. I alone am responsible for what goes on in my match, yet get to have the support of a team. Mentally and physically gratifying, it also has a social aspect that I was never able to experience while in highschool.

Enough about squash. My five weeks of total brain vegetation will be coming to an end on Monday, when classes start. I'm more than ready, although this break was nice as it was the first I've really had since summer before last. I still have to finalize my course load, although it will include a Health Psychology course, as well as a few plant courses. I'm looking forward to those, because we get to work in the amazing plant conservatory here at Smith. Well, it's beautiful and warm outside, so I'm off to enjoy the weather before heading to a squash match. Have a great weekend!

Lyman Plant Conservatory, Smith College

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Released from the Sweater

The red cardigan has finally released me from its unruly grasp. Last night I hated the sweater. I was mad at the hours of plain knitting, the fact that I thought it wouldn't fit, that I couldn't figure out how to assemble the set-in sleeves, and that for some reason I just couldn't move on until it was finished.

Ooops. Perhaps it was just a little crankiness and fatigue that was making me see red. This morning, I magically had the ability to sew in the sleeves, and wow. It has to be one of the cooler things I've done! I like the way the sleeves look, and amazingly, the sweater fits me perfectly. There are still things I don't like about the pattern (namely the neckline and rolled edges/lack of button band), but it turned out better than I thought it would.

The patternd was the 38 " size "Must Have Cardigan" from Hip to Knit. I added waist shaping, as well as four inches in body length and one inch in sleeve length. The yarn is Valley Yarns' Berkshire in the color wine, slightly more than four balls (this makes for a very economical sweater, cheaper than store-bought). The pattern had some issues, and it's not the first time I've had difficulties with patterns in the book. I like the yarn, although the sweater is very heavy. However, I think it will be wearable. I did learn one thing from knitting this sweater: as much as I like how they look, knitting a plain sweater in a plain yarn may not be for me. Please throw me just a bit of texture, color, shaping, something to keep my mind engaged! Now I can move on to the next project (note the first season of ER, excellent side dish for many hours of knitting).

In other news, we had a "Raquetlon" today, instead of normal practice. This involves playing table tennis, badminton, raquet ball, and tennis doubles. Each game goes to 21 and the team with the most points after all four games wins. On the B side (middle of the ladder), we played introverts vs. extroverts. Despite the trash talking confidence of the extroverts, the two introverts pulled through for a win. That's right, slient but deadly. As my principal said during my high school graduation ceremony, "Be nice to nerds, because someday, they will rule the world".

Monday, January 23, 2006

Seven Sisters - An Adventure South

Late last night, I returned to my cozy little dorm room after an exhausting and amusing team trip to a squash tournament in Pennsylvania. It was the annual Seven Sisters squash tournament, hosted by Haverford College. The Seven Sisters originated when the Ivy League schools were all male, and each had an affiliated women's college. Only five of the original colleges remain, three of which are still women's colleges (Smith, Wellesley, and Mt. Holyoke). I believe that Smith was Yale's sister school, although I am not certain.

One of my side motives for playing on the squash team is the travelling component - I love visiting universities. Having never been further south than Conneticut, the longish drive down was spent mostly gazing out the window. I got to see the Hudson river, along with lots of traffic! Haverford College was beautiful, as was Villanova University, which we passed by several times. I continue to be impressed by the American colleges I've visited, and the money that supports them.

Friday night we visited one of the largest malls in America. I normally hate malls, but this was an experience! I saw stores for things I've only read about, like Versace, Burberry... it was a little intimidating. I was accosted by a saleswoman who wanted to teach me how to "do my nails", when she saw they weren't fake. Even the food court was fancy!

Team events are always interesting as well - my teammates are wonderful, funny, talented people, and travelling with them exposes me to different aspects of university life. My two roomates decided to climb out the window onto the hotel roof, and systematically scare every person who came into our room. Unfortunately, our team was plagued by injuries and illness this weekend - after every pre-game high five, our team would run to wash our hands. I was playing at ladder position seven, which constantly challenges me. Needless to say, I lost all of my matches.

Saturday night we attended a banquet in the Great Founders Hall, where each team performed a short skit. Ours was a parody on a dating show, called "Next", which involved finding a date for one of the top squash players in the world (he's also Canadian!). Each contestant was from one of the sister colleges, and upon introducing them we played up the school's steryotype. For example: "Our next contestant is from Wellesley. She enjoys wearing pearls and bows in her hair, and recently broke up with her MIT boyfriend because she refused to get drunk." Or, " Our next contestant is from Smith. She drives a purple truck, loves Melissa Ethridge, and plays rugby..."

We returned safe, exhausted and sore (but only after getting lost in New Jersey). I love getting to see different states, but travelling always reminds me of Canada's beauty and how much I appreciate my home country.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Taking the leap

Well, a sweater-in-progress that involves knitting miles of stockinette stitch has finally prompted me to set up a blog. It was my original intention to establish one at the beginning of the school year, in order to share my experience in the US with friends and family. I'm not sure if I want this to be a knitting blog, or one that encompasses all areas of my life. While I have certainly been inspired by the vast network of knitting bloggers, I think I want to also focus on other interests. So, here's to a wonderful, productive, interesting semester!

Beautiful St. John's, NL, Canada