Sunday, March 29, 2009

She was a day tripper, a Sunday driver yea. (The Beatles)

Would you drive over 380 miles round trip to have lunch with your second cousin? How about if it also included your first cousins-once-removed (gotta remember those removed!)?

It was a really nice lunch.

Friday, March 27, 2009

I don't diet. I just don't eat as much as I'd like to. (Linda Evangelista)

It's time for a Friday Favorite, and I've decided to talk about my scale. It's not my favorite as in something that I really like a lot. I don't like it at all. It's only counts as a favorite because I use it all the time, probably more than I use anything else in the house.

I have become totally obsessed with checking my weight. I know that you're not supposed to. Weight Watchers encourages you to have your weekly weigh-in at the meetings. Most diets and weight-management plans will say the same thing. You're told that obsessively weighing yourself (obsessively is usually defined as more than once a week) can actually prevent you from reaching your goal. By becoming so focused on the number, which can vary from day to day, you aren't able to accept the larger (ouch) picture. Factors such as water retention, hormones, glycogen storage, and even how long it's been since you've eaten can cause your weight to go up or down a couple of pounds. So it makes sense to weigh in just once a week, at the same time of day.

However, I am the same obsessive person I've always been. I have a tendency to go overboard with whatever I happen to be involved in. Which would explain why I step on the scale several times a day. I check my weight first thing in every morning, to see what I really weigh. Just before I go to bed, I'll check my weight again to see how well I did that day. Usually there's about a three pound difference between the morning and the night; anything more and I know I have to do better the next day.

If I could stop with just using the scale two times a day, it wouldn't be too bad. But I find myself getting on the scale throughout the day as well. It's not that I really think that I'll see a difference in my weight after my walk, but I have to check anyway. I know that eating an extra spoonful of mashed potatoes won't really make a difference (as long as it really is just one extra spoonful), but I'll weigh in just to be sure.

The funny thing is that I really don't care about the numbers. I've been going down steadily since September, and there is a notable difference in how I look and feel. Because of that, I'm confident that I'm going to make my goal.

I think that for me, getting on the scale is just a reminder to be aware of how I'm doing. I need to know that I'm focused on staying healthy, and that I can bring myself back on track at any point of the day/week. The scale is just a number, but I have the power to control it.

Monday, March 23, 2009

I dwell in possibility... (Emily Dickinson)

I've just decided that Elizabeth Zimmermann is on my list of women I've love to have tea with. I mean, seriously, her pattern includes comments such as "See what you are doing?" and "Hope you are still with me." She's very down to earth, this is how you do it and it's only knits and purls. I think that if I were able to write a knitting pattern, it would be very similar in style to EZ's.

Now I'm trying to think of other women that should be on that list. Definitely Barbara Bush. And Emily Dickinson, because I've loved her poetry all my life. (Maybe not all my life, but definitely since I learned to read.) I feel like there should be someone from the feminist movement on the list, but I'm not sure who. (The only name I can remember right now is Helen Reddy, because I loved her songs.) Mother Theresa makes the list, of course. Who else should be on the list?

(By the way, I had a really nice photo today but decided that I probably shouldn't post it. Sorry. I'll try to come up with something else.)

Sunday, March 22, 2009

I have lost friends, some by death...other through sheer inability to cross the street. (Virginia Woolf)

It was a call from out the blue. Amazingly, in a recent conversation I had talked about losing touch through the years with even your best friends, and how much I regretted not making more of an effort to renew the lost friendships. As I was driving to mom's this afternoon, my best friend from college called.

We met freshman year, and immediately recognized each other as BFF. (Okay, we didn't call it that way back then, but we would have.) We used to take turns spending the weekends at each other's homes, and "shopping" from our moms' cupboards. I helped "dispose" of the illegal alcohol from her dorm room at the end of the semester. (But I had nothing to do with pulling the alarm.) We share memories of the Pacer, the diner, Deptford Mall, Aunt Ginny, and so much more. This is the friend who introduced me to my (ex)husband, and stood as my maid of honor at the wedding. I never imagined that there would be a part of my life she wasn't involved in, even if it was a long-distance part.

Somehow, though, we lost track. I got to visit her after the birth of her son, and that's the last time I saw her. (He's 12, now.) I'm not sure why we let so much time go by. Life, I guess. Or at least, we used life as an excuse.

We have a lot to catch up on. But that's the nice thing about true friendship. You can still be friends, even after all this time.

So now the question is: Where do I find Ronnie and Kathy?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

I like hearing myself talk. It is one of my greatest pleasures. I often have long conversations all by myself and I am so clever ...

...that sometimes I don't understand a word of what I'm saying.
(Oscar Wilde)

The first episode of my podcast is online, if anyone would like to go listen to it. There's a link on the sidebar, or you can download it HERE.

I realized today that this blog has really become knitting centered, and I apologize for that. It's not my fault, though. I don't have any cute stories to share about my kids; they're teenagers now, and there just isn't anything cute about teenagers. I've got some great stories about work, but privacy rules and regulations prevent me from sharing them. The dogs are a bone of contention right now, and so I'm left with knitting.

I'll try to do better.

Monday, March 16, 2009

It just happens that I have a project (or two) with me...

I know that my family expects me to do odd things. Odd, of course, is defined as anything that would make them have to pretend they don't know me, but that they can enjoy laughing about if it happens when they're not around. Tonight, my kids are laughing.

It started out innocently enough. I ran into Joanna's to get size 6 dpns and some buttons. I swear, that's all I wanted. I had no intention of buying more yarn, and I even managed to put down the two colorways of Berroco Sox that I fell in love with AND the two skeins of white Heart and Sole that would make really nice school socks for my youngest. It wasn't easy to put the yarn down, by the way. I didn't know Joanna's had started carrying the Berroco and it's really pretty. But all I wanted was the dpns and buttons for the baby sweater.

Yes, I did start a baby sweater this weekend. I know that I said that I wasn't going to start any new projects until I finished the ones I already have on the needles. But it isn't like I made any promises. Okay, maybe I did. But I really, really wanted to start something new and the baby sweater is just a little project and the pattern was so cute. I have no idea, by the way who the sweater is for, so if anyone is expecting a baby and would like to make me a godmother or even just an honorary auntie I can offer this sweater as the first of many adorable handknit gifts.

So anyway, I was at Joanna's -- no, I did not buy any yarn, not even that really cute Cupcake baby yarn that I like that would go with the other baby sweater I considered making but didn't have the right yarn for -- and a woman walked up to me and asked if I knew how to knit. I was very good and did not laugh, which was my first response. Instead, I quietly answered, "Why, yes. I do knit." It turns out that while she has been crocheting for years, she is new to knitting and didn't know where to go for help. The pattern she wanted to make said to cast onto double pointed needles and join, then knit in the round. This had totally thrown her for a loop. So I took the preemie hat I was working on out of my pocketbook (which threw the woman for an even bigger loop -- imagine, carrying around knitting!), and proceeded to show her how to knit in the round. I even let her try it. (By the way, her young son was with her and as his mother and I stood in the aisle and knit, his eyes glazed over and he quietly moved away from us. He wasn't as good at escaping as my son, but then he is still young and his mother is still new to knitting.) Once she mastered the dpns, we went on to picking up stitches. She's planning on coming out to our Wednesday knitting group.

So that is how I resisted temptation, sparked a new addiction, and taught a class in the aisles of my local fabric store. And I even came home with the buttons.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The ships hung in the sky in much the same way that bricks don't. (Douglas Adams)

My son made us run outside this evening to watch the space shuttle take off. I went, not expecting to really see much. But it was perfect viewing conditions, or something, because we saw it clearly. It was amazing.

There we were standing in the middle of the road in front of our townhouse, looking north over the other buildings in our development. My son spotted the shuttle first. It rose over the top of one of the houses, just a bright silver dot with a thick white cloud trailing the path. We watched as it rose, then appeared to level off. (Once it reaches a certain height, the distance makes it look horizontal rather than vertical.) The bright dot actually grew even brighter, then faded, as the last of the booster rockets flared. Then we could see only a faint trail as it continued on.

I can't believe that I left my camera inside, with such a clear perfect picture opportunity right in front of us. We tried to get it on the camera phone, but then realized we don't know how to move it from the camera to the computer. (With the kids' phones, I haven't really wanted to encourage that.) But trust me, it was really incredible to watch.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Maybe it's just me.

Something tells me that we don't have this puzzle quite right...

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

As the knitting needles purls...

I cannot believe that there can be so much drama associated with knitting. Knitting is supposed to be relaxing. It's what I do to prevent stress from totally ruling my life. It should not leave me unable to sleep.

Okay, I admit to losing sleep at night when I've been too engrossed in finishing "just one more row" of a project I was trying to finish. That's different. That was being productive, and I enjoyed myself (even if I didn't enjoy the next day at work). But losing sleep because I don't know whether or not to confront someone over a situation is different. I'm thinking I may just give up the group, which I hate to do because I love socializing with everyone. It's a great group.

But I feel very strongly that we knit because we enjoy the process. (Or we crochet. Or loom. Or weave. Or spin. Or even just cuddle the yarn. Whatever; it's the love of fiber that ties us together.) I'm starting to resent that some people apparently feel that the group is just for knitters who knit a certain way, or for people who knit certain items. And I may be wrong in that. I'm trying to think that maybe it's just a strong enthusiasm for their pet projects, or their new skill, that drives them to dictate the "right" way to do things. I think I'm also secretly afraid that I might come across in a similar way. But I try really hard to let people enjoy the process in their own way, and to only offer help when asked. (The inner teacher in me is constantly jumping up to offer long-winded lectures, but I usually manage to suppress the urge.)

To add to the conflict, I personally would really like to see our group grow toward becoming a real Guild, with an emphasis on education and sharing of the fiber-arts. I think we have some really talented people (including the knitting police) who would have a lot to share in a Guild. I don't want to walk away from this idea, or from the group. But I also don't want to come home from my night out more tense than when I started. I guess I just need to take a deep breath, pick up my knitting needles, and remember that knitting is fun.

On a more positive note, look at the pretty yarn I've been working on. This is a BLF/silk blend that I got from Old Maiden Aunt in Scotland. It's even prettier in person!

I'm having a little bit of difficulty controlling the thickness, which I think is because of the silk. It wants to feed more than I want to go in, so the WPI ranges from 18/20 (which is what I'm trying for) to about 16. My goal is to get a 2-ply worsted weight, but it might end up a little bulkier.

On the knitting side, I haven't gotten very far. I'm trying to catch up on my goal of one washcloth and one baby hat per week, and one block on my blanket each day. I'm actually almost caught up, mainly because I'm getting tired of working on the Lemonade Stole. The stole is about 3/4 finished. Or rather, I'm about 3/4 the way through the yarn I spun for it. I think I'll need to get more roving and make some more because I don't think the stole is going to be as long as I want it, even after it's blocked. I really just want to get it finished so that I can start something else on the list.

And don't worry. I think I'll probably feel better about everything after a good night's sleep.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Thankfully, beauty is easier to remove than apply, and a swipe of demaquillage in the right direction and you are you once again.(Margaret Cho)

Lately I've become very conscious of the way I look. I'm almost vain. Not quite, because I'm not really happy with the way I look yet, but I'm certainly getting there. I find myself glancing into mirrors throughout the day and pulling in my stomach, which is something I haven't done since before my youngest was born. I'm noticing outfits and wondering how they would look on me. But the biggest change has been that I'm not only putting on make-up every morning, I'm also remembering to reapply the lipstick throughout the day. Lipstick! Okay, it's pale blush instead of red and it is so pale that it might as well be chapstick, but still.

I wouldn't mention any of this except that today is supposed to be a "Friday Favorite." And my favorite thing right now is the make-up remover that I found recently. I treated myself to a fairly inexpensive container of oil-free pads to remove eye makeup. That's always been my biggest hang-up with makeup. I don't mind foundation and blush. In fact, I freely admit that I need a good foundation. But whenever I try to wear mascara or anything else around my eyes, horrible things happen. My eyelids swell up after a few days, and all my eyelashes start to fall out. I could say how unattractive that leaves me, with bushy brows and lashless lids, but I don't want anyone (i.e. me) having nightmares. But I decided on a whim to try this particular brand of cleanser (despite all the money I've wasted over the years on the fancy, expensive brands), and it has been absolutely wonderful. I've been getting lots of head-swelling compliments, but my eyes have remained healthy.

Of course, as usual I've allowed myself to get carried away with it all. Tonight I crossed the line and actually put nail polish on my toenails. What's next? High heels and sparkly tops?

Thursday, March 05, 2009

If the person you are talking to doesn't appear to be listening, be patient. It may simply be that he has a small piece of fluff in his ear.

(Pooh's Little Instruction Book)

Michelle and I recorded our second podcast today. It was fun. The beginning was a little awkward, but once we forgot about THE PODCAST and just got to chatting, it went really well. Michelle's going to have the first episode posted this weekend. And then today's recording will be posted in two weeks. That way we're always ahead by one episode. It's a good theory, anyway.

The podcast, which we're calling "Spun in the Sun," is all about knitting and spinning and other fiber fun. So unless you're in the very small minority that think I need more knitting content in this blog, you're probably not going to find anything of any interest in the podcast. However, if you are addicted to wool and/or other fiberish stuff , I'll be posting a link to each episode as they come out. (Just remember that we're new to this, and we'll get better as we go along.)

Podcasting has brought up memories of the high school radio station. I don't think I would have gotten involved with the radio station if it hadn't been for my friend Kathleen. She tended to drag me into a lot of situations I probably wouldn't have gotten into with anyone else. She was, um, enthusiastic. Adventurous. Maybe just a bit wild. I, on the other hand, was quiet and calm and shy (and really good at conning everyone into believing all this about me). It was because of Kathy that I tried out for the basketball team (amazing, considering how non-athletic I was/am). And it was Kathy who hiked the Appalachian trail with me (and four guys... what a great trip that was!). Kathy was also key in setting me up with the guy who gave me my first real kiss...

(Thinking back on all this, I realize that I need to take a really close look at my daughter's friends...)

But anyway, it was Kathy's idea that we join the radio station. The teacher in charge was very old-fashioned, and not happy to have a couple of girls join the club. He didn't think we could handle it. Although he was thinking in general and therefore totally wrong, in specifics he was probably right. But since I aced the licensing exam (I was really good at taking tests in school), Kathy and I were given a weekly show.

We decided on a call-in format. This was pure laziness on our part. We were required to submit a playlist for each episode. Playlists meant that we would have to figure out what we were going to do and write it out ahead of time. A call-in show, however, meant that we only had to write down every record we owned once and then copy it for each show with a note "play as per phone requests."

This actually would have worked out really well, except that nobody ever phoned us with a request. I'm not sure if that's because we were on at a bad time for call-ins, or if we were just unpopular. I tend to think it was because nobody ever actually listened to WBGD, not even the radio club members and teacher. So Kathy and I spent an hour every week, begging for someone -- anyone!!! -- to call us while we played our favorite songs over and over. If I remember correctly, it was The Long and Winding Road, Help!, Fool on the Hill, and Stairway to Heaven.

I've lost track of Kathy. But if you're out there, please give me a call and let me know what you want to hear. And to everyone else, I promise that the podcast will be a little more interesting than early Saturday mornings at WBGD.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Wednesday's WIPs and FOs

It's been a couple of weeks since I posted my knitting progress. I haven't gotten a lot done. At least, I hadn't thought I've been doing that much. I did do a few baby hats. I'm still trying to get one hat knit a week for the Loops of Love group. I got behind, but as of today I'm caught back up. Of course, I cheated by doing a couple of easy "plain vanilla" hats using self-striping yarn. These look really nice, but knit up very quickly. I cast on one this morning at the FLAC meeting, and had it done by the time PJ was out of class today. I think I spent a little less than 1 1/2 hours actually working on it.

I haven't managed to catch up on the washcloths yet. I have a goal of one a week for those, as well. I'm not sure why, other than they're quick and easy and they make me feel like I'm actually accomplishing something. Since I'm not actually accomplishing this goal, the purpose is defeated. On the other hand, I really like the washcloths, and they're easy to knit on the bus. Plus I've even sold one at the Farmer's Market.

(I made a mistake with this one. Okay, I made several mistakes with this one, and ended up frogging it twice. And there is still a mistake in it. But I like the pattern, so I'll keep this one for me to use and I'll try the pattern again.)

Cari's cashmere gloves are finally finished. The fingers were a pain in the butt, although they did knit up fast. I haven't gotten them mailed off to her yet, unfortunately. She could have used them this week with all the snow in New York.

I also finished the chemo cap for one of our former students. This is the Shedir pattern from I really had a lot of fun knitting this, although it's a good thing that I can cable without a cable needle. I'm not that happy with the yarn I used. It's got a great stitch definition; the cables really pop. And it is wonderfully soft and stretchy. But I'm not sure it was worth the cost. I spent 7.99 a skein, and ended up using three skeins since they're really small skeins. On top of that, each of the skeins had a hidden knot. I think that if I had waited to buy the yarn somewhere else, I could have found something just as nice (and maybe even without the knots) for less money. But Cindy is going to love her hat, and that's all that really matters.

After I finished the chemo cap, I decided to try a little knitting monogamy. Is it really monogamy if you have mini-projects on the side? Okay, I'm focusing on knitting my Lemonade Stole. (This used to be called my Ply By Night Stole, but someone in the group mentioned making lemonade from lemons, in reference to making the best of it even if you didn't really like the color or project, and I renamed my project.) I've still got baby hats, washcloths, and the Sampler Sock Blanket going, but my real attention is on the stole. I finished plying the rest of the roving, just in time since I've knit up almost the first 4 ounces. The stole blocks out to 20" so far. I'm starting to get worried that I won't have enough yarn to make it long enough. Although I guess I can always order more roving from Crown Mountain and make more yarn.

The Ply by Night group has already gone on to the next project. I love the roving that they've picked out (although I really can't afford it). I'm not crazy about the pattern that's been chosen, but since I didn't like the stole pattern and it's turning out so nicely, I'll probably give the new pattern a chance.

I still have a backlog of projects already on the needles. And a bunch that are calling to me to be started... I really, really, really want to start the baby sweater soon. So we'll see how long the pseudo-monogramy lasts. Right now, I'm off to do a few more rows of Lemonade.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

What the heck?

I reached into the washing machine to move the clean clothes into the dryer, and touched something slimy.

Would you believe a lizard survived the wash cycle?

Now where's my son, to get the darn thing out of there?

Monday, March 02, 2009

Hey, handsome. Wanna take a quick spin?

Did I mention that my friend Faith and I went out Saturday night? We brought our wheels to Downtown at the Gardens, and sat outside the Starbucks for a couple of hours. It was really pleasant, sitting outside and spinning. The weather has cooled off a bit, just enough for it to be comfortable.

I will say that spinning in public gets a lot of attention. And surprisingly, most of the attention comes from guys. Women will glance over and look surprised, but that's about it. Children will stare and point. But men tend to come over and ask about the spinning. They want to know what we're doing, and how the wheel works. Sometimes they'll share stories of people (moms, grandmothers, neighbors) that they knew who did knitting or spinning or even quilting. Saturday night we even met a couple of men (older, but still...) who knit.

Faith and I have decided that next weekend, we're going to bring the wheels to the Ale House. Spinning, the new pickup line.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Indie Fest

Becka and I went to Indie fest yesterday. This is an annual celebration India's culture, held downtown in West Palm Beach. One of Becka's friends invited us, and we had a really nice time. They had music, dancing, and even a short play. I was tempted by the pretty saris and silk clothes for sale. (Maybe next year, after I lose a few more pounds.) And then, of course, there was the food. I didn't have a clue what to get, since it all looked delicious. I finally handed my money to Becka's friend and asked her to get me something. Oh, it was so good!

Becka passed up lunch in favor of getting another henna design. As the girl worked on Becka's design, she explained that she normally does the henna for weddings. She will spend as much as five or six hours doing a bride's hands, charging $500 or more. Traditionally, a bride is free from all work (or on her honeymoon) for as long as the henna lasts on her hands.

The henna turned out beautiful, much nicer (and deeper dyed) than what Ren Faire.