6 Things I Feel Lucky About Today

This week has given me a lot to feel lucky about. My top 6:

1. I’m incredibly thankful for the hard work and dedication shown by the Canadian consular officials on the ground in Tripoli. With little rest, likely little to no sleep, they managed to get every Canadian at Tripoli airport onto an outbound plane over the course of Thursday during the long wait for the Canadian evacuee plane and into the wee hours of Friday morning (my dad’s plane didn’t take off until 2am Tripoli time on Friday am, and these officials had been at the airport since the early hours of Thurs am).

2. Being a citizen and resident of countries that care about human rights, that will work together in situations of crisis, is something I feel lucky about most days, and even more so now seeing as it was a British plane working with Canadian officials that brought my dad to safety, and a plethora of other nations who also pitched in to help each other and bring individuals out of Libya. United Nations rock.

3. I’m embarrassed to admit that before today I knew little about how autocratic life really was in LIbya. I was not aware that Gaddafi had kicked out international media. While I am cynical about how free our press truly is (political slanting, spin doctors, etc), it is undeniable that we have an incredible scope of information rights- TV, newspapers, internet, telephone, mobile video, text messages; we can pick and choose our information medium, do independent research, and form our own opinions. Freedom of speech is so important, and freedom of information is equally so. So thank you forefathers (and mothers!) for establishing a society which enshrines these freedoms.

4. Airlines are also doing their bit to support people evacuated into countries they had not planned to be in. Lufthansa is allowing rebookings and refunds for people with their plane tickets affected by evacuation. My dad was able to reroute his flight home from Tripoli-Frankfurt-Calgary to London-Frankfurt-Calgary this morning. Hats off to Lufthansa for being proactive and extending this goodwill to their customers.

5. I’m also feeling very fortunate to have such caring friends. Messages and emails of support during the course of the week really helped me keep my head above the water… and help me keep focused on making a slight nuisance of myself with all the emergency authorities by harassing them with questions and phone calls.

6. Lastly, thank you authorities for listening to a mildly hysterical woman trying to get information on her father. Thank you to our rules and laws for permitting us to reach out to those with power and plead our cases. Sometimes it can make a difference. Sometimes not, but at least we can try.

Knit Nation sneak peek!

It’s almost time to unveil our class schedule for Knit Nation 2011. We should have it ready in about a week’s time. Until then, Cookie & I thought we would whet your appetite (and alleviate the waiting jitters) with a list of vendors so far, and the teacher list!

2011′s amazing vendors will include (in no particular order):

John Arbon Textiles
Brownberry Yarns
Juno Fibre ARts
Renaissance Dyeing
Skein Queen
The Yarn Yard
Babylonglegs
Sparkleduck
Yarn Box
The Bothered Owl
The Little Knitting Company
Blacker Designs & Yarns
Debonnaire
GMC Publishing
Jeanette Sloan
Tall Yarns’n’Tales
Sweet Clement
NicsKnots
WoollyWormhead
Loop Knitting
StitchMastery Knitting Software
Old Maiden Aunt
Habu Textiles
The Natural Dye Studio
Easyknits
Krafty Koala
Great British Yarns
Atomic Knitting
Knit Cook (Darlene Hayes of Nature’s Palette Yarns)
Ysolda

And finally, our 2011 teacher line up. All I can say is YAY!!! Here they are (again in no particular order):

Franklin Habit
Cookie A
Anne Hanson
Susanna Hanson
Susan Crawford
Clara Parkes
Merike Saarnit
Leena Alve
Carol & Pete Leonard
Judith Mackenzie McCuin
Julie Weisenberger
Carol Feller
Elise Duvekot

We hope that this list gets your imagination and knitting and spinning mojo running. We will be in touch via newsletter as soon as we have a definite date when the class schedule is going up.

50% of all pattern sales to MSF

It’s such a relief to have my dad here in front me, safe and sound. Listening to him recount his experience has really driven home how very lucky we are to live in such security and stability.

Feeling like I need to give something back for how fortunate we have been, as a gesture of thanks to karma and the Powers That Be, from today Friday 25th Feb until further notice, 50% of all pattern sales on Ravelry and in the Shop will be donated to Médecins Sans Frontières in their response efforts to violence in the Arab countries.

Touchdown

Just a quick note to let you know that my dad is here with me in London.  He was able to board the last of the three planes the British sent in to evacuate their peeps from Tripoli.  The last one was an Airbus and so had enough seats for the British and a hundred or so of the remaining Canadians (the remainder were split out into various evac flights arranged by other Spain & the US into Spain & Malta) and took off just before midnight, landing at Gatwick about 4am.  The ground team at Gatwick even lent my dad their cell phone so he could call me, and helped him make his way to the Gatwick Express.  If I could I would kiss and hug every one of them for being such lovely kind people.

I’m rather embarrassed by the Canadian governments efforts at evacuation… turns out my gut was right.  It was not that Skylink’s insurers backed out, but that Canada had not secured the necessary landing permits and so Skylink could not land at Tripoli airport – hence why it was a ‘security risk’.  The C-17 Canada is sending and any ships or further charter flights will also need landing permits, which Canada has not yet secured. Thankfully, according to my dad, the Canadians at the airport who were due to fly out on Thursday were all scooped up by the US, Spanish and British evac planes.

The media may criticize the British authorities for what they call their ‘shambolic’ response to the crisis, but the fact is they got their people out. They may have been slower to react, but once they did they were effective, efficient and swift.  I am sure if this is how they’ve risen to the occasion they will be able to reach those still stuck in the desert and more remote regions.   If I could I would hug and kiss David Cameron.  Though, on second thought it’s probably best not to since I still have stinky breath.

The Long Good Morrow

I am touched by all the people who have reached out over the last two days, here on the blog, over twitter and by email.  Your support means alot and helps me keep it together.

My dad’s day has been pretty long and, I imagine, pretty stressful. The car to take him to the airport was delayed by an hour – there were road blocks and diversions which made it difficult to cross the city.  He did manage to get to the airport before 10am and I was on the phone with him when he said he saw the Canadian consular officials and said he would go let them know he was a part of their group.  I spoke with him a couple more times after that while they were waiting outside to be let into the airport.  Apparently there were groups of people outside the airport and they were taking it in turn to go in, based on the order of take off for their respective planes.

The Canadian evacuation plane was due to take off at 2pm local time. Unfortunately at about 1130 a report was made that the flight had been grounded in Rome due to the plane’s insurers backing out.  I’m not entirely sure I believe this since the company from which the plane was chartered was Skylink – their website claims

for over 25 years in over 60 countries, SkyLink has delivered assistance and support services to the most hostile and remote areas in the world. In difficult environments where other companies cannot or will not operate, we have and will. Only SkyLink has the experience, local knowledge, creativity, local contacts and partnerships to provide the solutions you need. Every time. Anywhere.

Yes, every time anywhere, except this time in Libya.  Very disappointing and frustrating to say the least.  I find it bizarre that an aviation company specialising in emergency services in hostile areas would have their insurance company revoke their insurance.  Their entire company is based on this service so it really doesn’t add up that this would be a problem with their insurance. I called them (oh yes, I’m a demon with the telephone) and someone at Skylink told me that it wasn’t their insurance that was the problem, that the issue was with the Canadian government.  Whatever, the bottom line was that there was no plane.  My dad, and 200+ other Canadians were at the airport, with another few thousand people, waiting to leave on a plane that never came.  At least they are with consular officials, and they are all together.

There is a curfew in Tripoli – no one on the streets between 6pm and 6am, so everyone is holed up in the airport where there is no cell reception.  The reports are now that Canada is sending a C-17 plane from Rome (diverted via South Africa? Not sure, this info is from my mom) to Tripoli.  The C-17 seats 102 people.  The last communication from the emergency bureau was that there are 213 Canadians waiting at the airport to be evacuated.  There is another report that a second charter plane is being sent by a friendly Middle Eastern country with the express intention of evacuating Canadians (and I also assume whoever else they can fit on the plane). This is reported to be due to land in Tripoli at 2am.

*****BREAKING NEWS******

Just got a call from my mom – my dad managed to get through to her to let her know he is on a plane bound for Gatwick! I’m guessing it is the Afriqiyah flight that lands at midnight or 2am… HUGE SIGH OF RELIEF.   I hope that lots of the others waiting were able to get on a plane too.

I am now off to have a shower and brush my teeth, which with all this hoo-ha i have neglected to do. Thank goodness I’ve spent the whole day with just my dog, who can always be counted on to have worse breath than I do and not care if mine could kill a horse.

#Libya #Evacuation

The past two days have been pretty stressful – my dad works in Libya (oil & gas) and as events escalated across Libya, it suddenly became plain that my dad needed to leave the country sooner rather than later.

Unfortunately he missed the boat, literally. He didn’t head off to Malta with his colleague on Monday, and due to a change in employer, was not with his other colleagues when their company evacuated them from Tripoli on Monday & Tuesday.

When I realised my dad was still in Libya, and wasn’t about to be evacuated by a multinational, I spent all day yesterday on the phone trying to arrange for him to be evacuated.

It was an exercise in frustration. The lines were down in Libya so none of the numbers for my dad would connect, so I didn’t know where he was, if he was okay.   There was no answer at the Canadian Embassy in Tripoli (despite this being advertised by the Canadian government as one of the numbers for Canadians in Libya to call).

So I tried South Africa, his original employer. They were darlings, and put me in touch with the person in their London office who was coordinating the evacuation from Tripoli. She didn’t know if my dad was on their passenger list but said she would check with her colleague in Libya. An hour later she called back to confirm my dad was no longer their employee, and therefore not on their list, but that their Tripoli based staff still in Libya would keep an eye out for him.

So then I thought – better try the Canadian authorities. I always had faith in the Canadian authorities. Red Mounties, True North Strong and Free… and all that.  Since the Canadian Embassy in Tripoli was a no-go, I tried the emergency response number for Canadians. After a few hours of trying I finally got through – only to be told all they were doing were calling the registered Canadians in Libya.  They told me that because the phone lines were down in Libya, of the 500 they had registered, they had only been able to connect to 13 on Tuesday.  All I could do was make sure they had my dad’s name and details since at that point, Canada was not prepared to evacuate Canadians from Libya.

Bengahzi was already a mess and the airport closed. Airlines were cancelling their flights from Tripoli.  Many of the multi-nationals and a host of EU countries including Portugal, Turkey, Netherlands were already coordinating evacuation efforts and sending in chartered planes and boats. It was really horrible to feel so helpless… knowing that violence was escalating and that those with the power to act were not.

I then started reading the reports from Libya more closely, and began to well and truly freak out. Having been told that there are 500 Canadians registered by the emergency response team, seeing Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs report that there were only 500 Canadians in Libya alarmed me. If 500 are registered, there will be many more unregistered in Libya -and other newspapers reported that there were as many as 1000 Canadians in Libya.  That is more than double the official number from the foreign minister.

So I started to call Canadian officials who might have some say in the decision to evacuate. First I called the Premier of Alberta (where my parents live), Ed Stelmach.  His office told me that this was a federal matter.  I called my parents’ MP – Mr Stephen Harper MP.  Of course, they would not put me through to Mr Harper, I was connected to his assistant Gord. Gord was sympathetic, listened, and then said I should ‘plead my case’ to Hon Lawrence Cannon – the minister of Foreign Affairs.  I then spoke to a secretary at Mr Cannon’s office who again would not put me through to Mr Cannon, but let me ask my questions: I wanted to know why Canada was not evacuating. Why Mr Cannon appeared to have his facts wrong – why he thought there were far less Canadians in Libya than what the emergency response team believed there to be, and half that reported in the media.  But the crux of what I wanted to know was what needed to happen before the government would send in a plane to evacuate her citizens.

I was shunted to another department by Mr Cannon’s office, something about the ‘Gulf Department’. The woman there took my name and number, listened to my questions and concerns and said someone would try to call me back.

It was at this point that Gadhafi had just finished his hour and a half long rambling speech declaring he would rather die a martyr than leave Libya, encouraging people to chase and attack the dissenters, and threatening to take action as the Chinese did in Tiananmen Square. Can we say whack job? His  remarks were deemed ‘defiant and worrisome‘ by the Canadian government.  The situation was finally deemed serious enough to send an evacuation team.  The Gulf Department never did call me back but that’s fine by me – they are taking action to evacuate and that’s all that matters.

The plane leaves tomorrow from Tripoli for Rome.  My dad managed to call me & my mom this morning. He’s fine, in the compound but a little worried about travelling to the airport given the instability.  But he’s planning to be at the airport bright and early tomorrow morning.

I am incredibly thankful they are sending in the plane though the government keeps saying it’s a first come first served situation. The emergency managemement bureau email I got today stated “Seats will be assigned on a first come first serve basis therefore we cannot confirm that there will be enough seats. The number of registrants is higher, but not everyone wants to leave at this time.”

The only reason to say first come first served is if they will have less seats than people trying to get on the plane. Which makes no sense, since according to the Foreign Minister there are only 91 people wanting to leave. If they have this list, then they should know within a reasonable margin of error how many Canadians will be getting on that plane. And there are loads of people waiting at the airport – they will not have a shortage of passengers.

Another call to the emergency bureau basically confirmed what I guessed – that there are teams of people behind the scenes working on the evacuation, but that information is not trickling down.  They did not know how many seats were on the plane. They did not know how many people were registered as wanting to leave.  They couldn’t give any details… because they didn’t have any to give.

So now we sit and wait a little more and hope that tomorrow they are able to get a big plane and that they will be able to get as many people as possible out to nearby Europe, including my dad, and that the other countries waiting for landing permits get theirs and are also able to send in big planes and ships to carry people away.  Scary scary times.  For the sake of the Libyans I hope Gadhafi steps down.  Enough is enough.

Spring Buds & Xiao Long Bao

The weather seems to have decided to get cold again, which would normally depress me. But all the wee buds determinedly poking their heads out reassure me that spring is indeed on its way.

Sprouting signs of life are appearing all over the harbour.

Some with incredible colour. I just love the cheerful red of these wee berries.

And the tiny flowers that accompany them.

My friend E (mom of Deuce’s soulmate G) made her annual President’s weekend trip to London from NYC. It’s been such a treat hanging out with her. There is one not-to-be missed ritual for every visit from E. A trip to Borough Market where we meet up with Shi Fu and Claire at Monmouth coffee; yesterday was the designated day.

I couldn’t resist taking a picture of the flower stall. Check out the pineapples!

Aren’t they cute?

I love the fish monger. Such a great selection of fresh fish. They even had a huge angler fish. Those things are ugly!

Lots of rhubarb too. Purdy purdy colours…..

Lucky Sunday #7

We headed out to Pearl Liang for dim sum this morning.  Good xiaolong bao. Not as great as in Shanghai, but still very moreish.  And finding good xiaolongbao makes me feel lucky!

My ruminations on golden syrup and maple syrup last Lucky Sunday provoked quite a few comments. Clearly Hiscox decided not to test their audience, and left the question of what kind of syrup hanging in the air. Wussy fence sitters! It’s totally maple syrup all the way!!!! ;P