Friday, October 31, 2008

And we're off!

This is just a temporary, quick-fix posting until I can get home and write in detail. Mom and I left this morning on a 6 am flight. We'll be going to my daughter's apartment, then off for some adventuring. I'm not sure of the complete agenda, but I do know that we're hoping to see the Halloween Parade this evening.

I'm so excited to be on our way, I'm bouncing in my seat!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Where'd I put that list?

Mom and I leave for NYC at 6 am tomorrow morning. I can't wait! It's been so long since I've seen my daughter. There's a million and one things to talk with her about, and do, and see, and wow, it's going to be nice.

There's also a million and one things to do before I can leave. I've been making lists for the past two weeks, trying to get everything organized and ready. It's just a four day trip, including travel time. It's only a weekend. So how come the prep time is more than triple that? I've got to plan out my clothes, not just for the weekend but also for the couple of days before and after. Otherwise I won't have anything clean to wear, since our washer is horrible and doesn't always work. I've got to make sure that the children (the two I'm leaving behind, which all of a sudden sounds so bad) are taken care of, and that plans are in place to have them where they need to be. Arrangements also had to be made to take care of the dogs. (I forgot the birds and gerbil; hopefully the dog sitter won't mind feeding them.) Since there will be a dog sitter, the house has to be cleaned up and "company ready." And I don't even want to think about what's involved with clearing my desk at work enough to be gone two days. (Or what I'll face when I get back after two days away.)

Notice that I'm not mentioning the agony I've put myself through, trying to decide which of my knitting projects to bring with me. I have to have something to knit; there's the airport, the plane ride, and the subways - all prime knitting time. I'm pretty sure I'm going to bring just a Plain Jane sock to do. But that's still up for debate and probably won't be settled until we get into the car at 4 am tomorrow to leave for the airport.

But then, all of this planning and anxiety will be over and I'll be on my way. I probably won't be posting online again until Tuesday. I've decided to leave my laptop at home. (I know, four days without Daisy. I'm not sure if it's possible.) But I know that I'll be too busy visiting my darling girl to sit at the computer. I am going to try to journal during the trip,though, and then transfer that to this blog next week. NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month) starts Saturday, and journaling/transfer is my compromise so that I don't lose before I even get started.

For right now, though, what's next on my To Do list?

This is why I love what I do.

I was working on a craft project with a client today. (My client is a young gentleman in his 20's, with a dual diagnosis of autism and MR.) For our project we had cut out ghosts, and we were looking through magazines for eyes to add to them.

For the first one, I gave lots of prompts. I helped him turn the pages of the magazine, and pointed out pictures of faces. For each I would prompt: "Where are the eyes? Show me the eyes. Let's cut out the eyes." He did a great job.

For the second ghost, I tried using fewer prompts. This time around it was: "Can you find a picture of eyes? Go ahead and cut out the eyes." Again, he did a great job.

For the third ghost, I got overconfident. I went with a minimal prompt: "Look through the magazine and cut out what you like."

I think I should have phrased that last prompt a little better.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Whatja doin?

It's been a week since I've talked about the knitting projects, and yet I'm still working on the same things. My Lady Sweater and the Mystery Stole are each about a dozen rounds larger, but neither is done yet. I did manage to finish two baby hats this week. Since I'm going away this weekend, I thought I'd get Friday's hat out of the way early.

The first hat is ever-so-soft. It's out of Bernat Softee Baby yarn, in the Rock-a-Bye Baby colorway. The varigated colors pooled in an interesting pattern, and because of that the pink is more predominant that I had wanted. But the soft, cuddliness makes up for the weird color.

The second hat was a spur of the moment yarn purchase (but then, aren't they all?). I was in Michael's, and the colors just jumped into my hands. I totally love the purple and yellow together. If I could have started knitting them together in the store, I probably would have. (Unfortunately, retailers prefer that you pay for yarn before you use it.)

I'm not the only person who feels that way about this yarn. I was knitting in public (yeah, so what else is new), and the most adorable 2-year old twins came up to me. The first little girl tried to get me to play with her. She'd say "boo!" and then giggle hysterically when I acted scared. Since I could play and knit, I did. Her sister kept edging closer, obviously wanting to play along, but too shy to jump in. My yarn tangled, so I had to pull the purple skein out of the bag for a moment. That's when cutie#2 got excited. "Ooooh, pretty!" she hollared, and grabbed at the yarn. I let her hold it, since I really didn't have a choice, and she cuddled it close. "Baby. Mine," she kept saying. I didn't think I was going to get the yarn back. If ever there was a future fiber addict, it's that little girl.

* * * * * *

Only two more days before I leave for New York. "Excited" doesn't even begin to describe it.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

...It does a body good...

A medium lite latte from Dunkin Donuts is more points than the larger venti skinny latte from Starbucks. Since it's much more convenient to drive through Dunkin's than to go out to the Starbucks before work, this just didn't seem right to me. So I had to do some research to find out why.

It turns out that a lite latte is made with 2% milk, while the skinny latte is with nonfat. This still didn't make sense to me. Milk is milk, right?

Wrong. Whole milk (the stuff I always bought in the past) is about 3.5% fat. You can save yourself some of those fat calories by drinking lowfat milks, which are either 2% or 1% fat. But the nonfat milk (or skim milk) is the best choice with less than 0.5% fat.

At this point, I began to wonder why even bother with milk. I know you're supposed to drink it because of the calcuim (that's what I told my kids, anyway). But I really don't like it, except in lattes and ice cream.

It turns out that the calcium in milk is good for a lot of things. Studies have shown that it reduces the risk for both breast cancer and colon cancer. It helps keep high blood pressure under control. And it can reduce the symptoms of PMS by as much as 50%, according to the American Journal of Gynocology. In order to have all these benefits, people should get an average of 1,000 milligrams of calcuim a day (1,2000 milligrams for those over 50 years old). That's two servings of milk (or other dairy items) every day.

And a 12 oz latte counts as a serving. So does a 16 oz. cappachino. Other servings include:
1 c. low fat or nonfat yogurt
1 c. milk (preferably nonfat)
2 c. cottage cheese
1 1/2 oz cheese (drats! my 2 tbsp. of cream cheese on the bagel isn't enough)
1 c. fat free pudding (if it's actually been made with milk. So the pudding packs don't count.)

Basically, this means that I'm not getting enough milk.

And I need to stick with Starbucks.

It's getting closer!

Monday, October 27, 2008

There is no end to the adventures that we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open. (Jawaharlal Nehru)

Four more days, and then I'll be in NYC!

A few months ago, I heard about Letterboxing. Actually, I had come across it a couple of years ago when I was so active in the rubber stamping world, but since there wasn't anything in my area yet, I ignored the subject. There still wasn't much in my area earlier this year. Suddenly, though, Letterboxing has grown and my area has several quests listed. I'm really excited, because it sounds like such a fun thing to do.

Basically, Letterboxing is a treasure hunt. Someone will hide a box with a logbook and a rubber stamp. Then clues are posted on one of the Letterboxing sites online. You follow the clues to find the box. When you find the box you're expected to put an entry, using your signature stamp, into the logbook and record your find using the box's stamp in your journal.

The boxes are hidden in a variety of locations. A hunt might take you on a hike through a park, into a bookstore, for a visit to the zoo, or a thousand other places limited only by the hider's imagination. To me, Letterboxing sounds like a great excuse to explore someplace new.

Just for the heck of it, I checked for Letterboxes in the New York City area, and came up with quite a few near my daughter. I've printed out the clues, and I'm hoping to make my first discovery this weekend. I've even put together a Letterboxing kit for each of us (mom, my daughter, and myself) so that we're prepared.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

He who would travel happily must travel light. (Antoine de Saint-Exupery)

The official countdown to NYC has begun!

Mom and I leave in just five days for our weekend in New York. I'm so excited. I've been planning this trip for over a month, but with just a week left I'm really getting into the details of it. All weekend I've found myself thinking things like "This time next week I'll be..."

I have my clothes for the week all set out, with the laundry carefully planned so that the jeans I want will be clean to take with me. I have exactly six jeans/skirts, so this planning was necessary in order to be dressed for work and still have something to take with me. I went out and bought walking shoes, and I've been wearing them for the past few days to break them in. I also bought a sweater jacket as a compromise between needing a coat for New York but not wanting to spend money on a coat I'm not going to need here in Florida.

I've got lists of items to bring with me, and lists of things to do before I leave. (The house has to be spotless since one of my co-workers will be coming by to take care of the dogs.) There are lists for the children (where they'll be and what they need to take with them). I also have lists of places to go and things to see while we're in New York. And when I say lists, plural, I'm seriously meaning plural lists. There are lists in my daytimer, and a copy of those lists in my laptop, and another set of lists on my desk at work.

I've been agonizing over what knitting project to bring with me. My daughter laughed at me over this, but I have two plane rides and several subway rides (minimum) to knit. Considering that I carry around a project in my purse plus two or three in the car, and that I knit in grocery lines and at red lights, I think that knitting on the subway is a good probability for me. I can't decide if I should bring my Lady Sweater, start my Tunic to bring with me (it's mostly stocking stitch), or maybe a sock or two would be better.

Mostly, though, I'm just excited to be going. I haven't seen my daughter since January, and that's far too long to go without hugging her.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

"When are you going to grow up?" "Never. I've seen what it's done to you."

I have a soft spot for old movies. I totally adore them. They're usually very wholesome and sugary sweet, and even a little on the cheesy side. Their plots are predictable, and the good guy always wins. (And you know who's the good guy by the white hat.)

This week I rented Papa's Delicate Condition. It was wonderful! Jackie Gleason starred as the heavy drinking father who none-the-less loved his family. The long-suffering mother was played by Glynis Johns, who was also the mom in Mary Poppins. (Remember her wonderful song about Suffragettes?)

I don't want to give away the plot, but let's just say that the movie managed to include politicians, the circus, a most wonderful monkey who sucked up to the boss, the railroad, employee rights, and how to tell true love. I admit that I cried at the ending. (I almost always cry when watching the old movies.)

By the way, if you don't already have a Netflix account, think about signing up. We love it!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Food is an important part of a balanced diet. (Fran Lebowitz)

My favorite thing this week is the Corned Beef Reuben from Arby's. I absolutely love this sandwich. Normally a Reuben is around 17 points. Arby's weighs in with just 14; it's still a lot, but I can manage this without straying off my diet. (Arby's sandwich isn't grilled, and the meat is limited compared to the way the deli piles it on; hence the lower point value.) And actually, since I have such a difficult time eating enough (yeah, who would have thought!), this is an "easy fix" to get my points for the day.

I've always loved a good Reuben sandwich. There's just something about the thousand island dressing and sauerkraut that makes life feel good. It's always been my sandwich of choice whenever I go to a diner to eat. And since diners were a big part of growing up in New Jersey, the memories season each sandwich delightfully.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

If you never did, you should. These things are fun and fun is good! (Dr. Seuss)

I'm off to Boca for 'Knit1, Brew2.' Since I plan on hanging out with the girls and guy (Hi, Brent! See I remembered to include you!) until the wee hours of the morning, I'll wait until tomorrow to post...

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

There is not any memory with less satisfaction than the memory of some temptation we resisted. (James Branch Cabell)

It's WIP Wednesday, and I don't have a lot to show even though I've been doing a lot of knitting. Mostly I've been working on the Mystery Stole. Since the stole is knit with two sides that are sewn (kitchnered) together, I'm trying to get the second side caught up. This is a difficult knit for me. Not the knitting itself, but trying to find time to work on it. I have to sit at the table with my charts and markers all spread out. This is truly dedicated knitting, as opposed to the spur-of-the-moment projects that I can carry around with me.

I've also been working on my Lady Sweater. I'm a little worried, because I've been reading online that Malabrigo stetches quite a bit when you block it. So I'm having trouble deciding how long to make the body. I think I'm going to go to my waist, so that if it stretches it'll be the length I actually want and if it doesn't, I can still wear the sweater. That meansI've probably got two or three more repeats of the lace pattern, then 1 1/2" garter stitch in order to finish the body of the sweater. Then the arms, and I'm done. I was at Knit or Knot on Saturday, and I found the perfect buttons to use on this project. I hope I can get it finished in time to take to New York with me.

I did get a little more of the Special Olympics scarf done. It's hard, going from Malabrigo (which is so wonderfully soft and cuddly) to Red Heart (which squeaks as you knit it). I've only got three more stripes, and then it's finished. Which sounds so nice. Much better than I'm only halfway done.

I did get a baby hat finished. This is the Greenleaf pattern, and I think it's one of the cutest hats I've made. It's also a very quick knit. I will definitely do this pattern again. Which is good, because I keep finding baby yarn on sale.

Not that I need any more yarn. I decided to try and get the stash under control. Hah! All I succeeded in doing is to prove that I have a problem. This is as far as I've gotten so far:

The top tub is my sock yarns. You don't want to know how much I have. Just trust me; if you want a pair of handknit socks, email me. The bottom right is the baby yarn. Can you imagine what grandchildren will inspire me to do? My son has forbidden me from getting an early start on the grandbaby knitting (but it was a really cute baby sweater pattern...). He claims that it would be far too weird to introduce a future girlfriend to me with "This is my mom. Just ignore her, she's knitting for the children we might have someday, provided that doesn't scare you from having a second date." The bottom left tub is my roving for spinning. That's really what made me realize that my fiber addiction is out of control. I have over a dozen rovings.

And yes, I'm still spinning. Now that I've calmed down a bit. Millie (remember that horrible creature?) managed to sneak into my room and decided that she needed to save the household from the PJ batt that I had been working on.

The PJ batt had come in four 1-oz batts. I spun the first two, and then went ahead and plyed them. I wish I hadn't. Because that skein is long single stripes of maroon, mixed, then blue. Naturally I had planned to spin the second two batts the same way, which would have given me a pair of socks with maroon feet, mixed heels, and blue legs. But now, I'm not sure how the second skein will turn out, other than not matching. I have no idea what to make with it now. If I hadn't already plyed the first skein, I could have made two variated skeins. I've decided to set it aside for now (until I can get some advice), and start on one of the other rovings. Hopefully I'll have something pretty to show you next week.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

We cannot really love anybody with whom we never laugh. (Agnes Reppier)

There's no photo today, just a verbal visual. But to fully appreciate today's story, you'll need to have a little background.

First, I got a haircut on Sunday. I was trying to grow it out long again, but I reached the point that it was just horrible. Too long to be stylish, and too short to style. I probably would have held out, but with the trip to NYC coming up in two weeks, I wanted something nice. So when I took my son to the mall, I impulsively walked into Regis Haircutters. I got lucky; the girl who did my hair took the time to listen to what I was trying to say and actually gave me a really cute style. It's short. Very short.

Now let's go back a few years. After my divorce, my oldest child decided that she did not want her mother to date. She was very vocal on this idea, and when words failed she took action. Tears, temper tantrums, pouting, faked illnesses...nothing was too much effort if it could possibly stop me from going out socially. She didn't even approve when I went to the movies with my extremely gay co-worker. (My history of dating gay guys is probably a story for another day.)

Fast forward to yesterday. My son and I were in the car, talking on our way to wherever we were going. I don't remember how the subject came up, but my son announces that he doesn't want a stepfather. Huh? First of all, he already has a stepmother, so why not a stepfather. Plus, there isn't anybody in the picture right now being considered for that position. But he's very adamant -- he doesn't think that I should date anyone until after he moves out because he's too old for a stepfather.

So now we're up to today's story, and the reason why my youngest is my favorite child. (Today, anyway.) It's another conversation in the car, this time with my youngest and her best friend. Something was said, and I asked my daughter what shethought about me dating. Her immediate response: Go for it, mom. In fact, she suggested that we go find a man for me right away. Let me tell you, two 14-year-olds can come up with some pretty interesting ways for a divorced mom to meet a cute guy. My favorite was the suggestion that I do a catwalk in the middle of the street. My daughter offered to walk in front, blowing air at me so that my hair would flow gently out behind me as I walked. Best Friend would follow behind, singing: "I'm too sexy for my shirt, too sexy for my clothes, too sexy..."

It was the song that got me.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

It is a sad fact that 50% of marriages in this country end in divorce. But hey, the other half end in death. You could be one of the lucky ones!

(Richard Jeni)

This is a rant. I only thought it fair to warn you.

On the way to school this morning, my son (17 years old) and I were listening to the radio show talking about a local political scandal. My son made a simple inquiry as to why it was such a big deal that the man had an affair. So I attempted to explain that the affair itself was probably not a big deal; that it was the lying and hypocrisy that accompanies an affair that is the real problem. The politician had run his election compaign on the idea that he was a "family values" type of a man and had put down the opposing candidate for the things that person had done. Now it turns out that the politician was just as bad and that he was dishonest about it as well.

The discussion went on (as those types of discussions tend to do) to my belief that if you want to run and fool around with other people, then you should probably not also have a spouse that thinks that you're in a committed relationship. It's not the affair that's wrong; it's the wanting to have it both ways (free to fool around AND a "committed" relationship) that's a problem.

That's when my son made the statement that "it's harder for men because in a divorce the woman always gets everything."

Huh?!? Where the heck did he ever get that idea? Does he really think that his dad got the short end of the stick in our divorce? How can he possibly believe that? Wasn't he paying attention all those years I struggled to put food on the table? Struggled to get the kids the things they needed? Worried about paying the bills and frequently not being able to, hence the times coming home to no electricity or water. Doesn't he remember making do and going without?

Yes, I'm sure his father talks about how tough it is having to pay childsupport. But doesn't my son realize that his father also talks about not being able to take him for visitation because of this vacation or that vacation trip; that his father is talking to him from a big house that he owns, instead of a rented apartment like ours; that his father affords restaurants and nights out while we're still making do.

I'm happy, finally, with where I'm at financially. It was a lot of years of struggling, years that we probably shouldn't have had to go through. I'm proud that we made do and did without and were able to get to the point that we're at now. It's been a few years since I've worried about the car being repossessed, or the lights being turned off. We're able to take the occaisional vacation, and buy some of the extras that the kids and I want. So I'm really not complaining. Or at rather, I'm not complaining that much.

But for my son to be able to say that the woman gets everything while the man gets the shaft in a divorce... the boy has been watching way too much television and not paying enough attention to life!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

As long as you don't try new things, you can't learn new things. (H. Jackson Brown, Jr.)

Here's a quick look at what I've been knitting. I haven't made as much progress as I would like (there aren't enough finished projects), but I've been enjoying the process.

I've managed to keep up with my commitment to knit at least one charity baby hat a week. Of course, figuring out that I can crochet TWO hats in the time it takes to knit just one hat has helped me me stay caught up.

I don't have a current picture, but I've been pretty busy on the Mystery Stole 4 project. All six clues have been released. I wish I were up to date, but I have done clues 1 through 3 on both sides, and clue 4 on one side. Which means I only have clue 4, two clue 5's, and a clue 6 left to do. (Did that make sense to anyone else?)

This is my real passion right now: My February Lady Sweater. (I need to think of a really good name for it -- anyone have a suggestion?) The navy is my first attempt of spinning on the wheel. I had exactly the right amount; how great is that? The gray is Malibrigo, which is the most wonderfully soft and cuddly yarn ever to work with. I still can't believe that I'm actually knitting a sweater. I'm hoping to have it finished in time for my New York trip. Even if it's going to be too cold in New York to wear just a lace sweater.

My other projects have been pushed aside. The Special Olympic Scarf just sort of follows me around, looking woeful and reminding me that I should be on scarf #3 by now. (Crochet is faster, right?) And the Socks That Never End are never-ending... I wish someone had warned me against knitting socks in a 12 stitch per inch gauge for a size 9 shoe.

The sad thing is that I carry all my projects with me every day. Usually they sit in the car, waiting patiently on the off-chance that I have a five-minute wait in a parking lot somewhere. Or perhaps the opportunity to sit at alone Starbucks with a Skinny Latte yielding the needles while my children socialize. But mostly I just carry the bags in and out of the car, hoping that some wonderful knit fairy will finish a project so I can cast on something new.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The way we get to live forever is through memories stored in the hearts and souls of those whose lives we touch.

That's our soul print. It's our comfort, our emotional nourishment at the end of the day and the end of a life. How wonderful that they are called up at will and savored randomly. It seems to me we should spend our lives in a conscious state of creating these meaningful moments that live on. Memories matter. (Leeza Gibbons)

Our roofs are being repaired. That's a pretty straight-forward thing. Other than the inconvenience, of course. Such as waking up Saturday morning at 7 am to the sounds of pounding on the roof over our beds was not expected. Or having to park several blocks away because our road is blocked by the trucks holding the tiles.

I'm not really complaining. One of the things I haven't liked about living here (in my current townhouse) is that there is a good chance the clay roof tiles will fly off in a gust of wind (a frequent occurrence during hurricane season in Florida) and land through the windshield of my car. (The other thing I don't like about this place is the bugs, but that's a rant for another day.) Having the roofers around means that the tiles are going to stay up on the roof where they belong.

What I really wanted to talk about is how the sight, and the sounds, and especially the smell of the tar has brought back memories of my childhood. I love the smell of warm tar. My grandfather was a roofer. He was always bigger than life; a wonderfully gruff man in flannel shirts and heavy shoes who totally ruled the family (unless, of course, gramma was around). I remember playing in the warehouse, climbing the stacks of tar and searching for the elusive big-eared rabbit. That was grampop's threat to keep us out of the warehouse: a giant big-eared rabbit that would paddle us if caught...

Each memory brings another, and then another. Even though gramma and grampop are both gone now, I still picture them in my mind. And I still have stories to share with my children, until they finally beg for mercy, pleading that they've already heard this all before. I like to think that the kids will someday tell their children the same stories, or a version of them, and that gramma and grampop will live on.

Monday, October 13, 2008

If everything seems under control, you're not going fast enough. (Mario Andretti)

There's no picture for today. Which may or may not be a good thing. I really didn't have an interesting picture to use, so I was going to settle for a "ehh" photo. But a problem uploading files left me with nothing to show today. Sorry.

I've been miserably sick all week, which translates into being lazy and grumpy. My house is a mess, my knitting's been neglected, and the children are hesitant to say anything just in case. I don't even want to think of all the reports piling up on my desk at work.

My ipod has kept me company through it all. I finally figured out how to set up a playlist with podcasts so now I can just turn it on, and enjoy for hours at a time. I've subscribed to some new (to me, anyway) podcasts, and since I like to listen to episodes in order I'm trying to catch up.

Craftlit with Heather is one of my new favorites. It's a combination knitting/crafting podcast and audiobook. Since I start at the beginning, I'm listening to Pride and Prejudice. I only wish I could justify continuing to ignore housework, children, and employment in favor of knitting to the classics!

Monday, October 06, 2008

Dare to be yourself. (Andre Gide)

It's Homecoming Week, which means lots of spirit dress-up days, followed by the big game on Friday night and the dance on Saturday. Naturally my daughter is right in the midst of all the drama. Today was dress like a senior citizen, so she borrowed my shoes, my bag, and my reading glasses to add to her dress and shawl. That didn't bother me too much... until she picked up some yarn and knitting needles to complete the look!