Monday, January 21, 2008

How Dry I Am

I've been on an unexpected hiatus - a little break - a vaca - holiday. I'm not sure why, but I've been feeling sort of dry. Dry skin, dry hair (and looking oh-so-grey), dry wit - and a dry well.

I've been writing a LOT of patterns in the past few days, doing a lot of math.

When my mind wants to move in that direction, I let it - it obviously knows better than I do in these matters. Numbers have a tendancy to fill my head and make it hard for me to think about other things, like blogging. So I've been quiet, but working!

I'm making nice progress on a surplice top which I'm very excited about. I think it will be a flattering look on just about ANYONE, and it's a fun knit, too! This yarn is stunning - so gorgeous - and it's been flying off of my needles.

Here the Yarn Place Bel Canto photographed with the Knit Picks Options needles (because they're wonderful and the project matches them!)

But the blogging was coming slowly, and I didn't want to force it. Dry well. So I figured instead of pushing it, I'd just let a little snow fall and try to balance myself out. Take some garlic, apply some gold bond lotion and see if I couldn't ferment a bit.

Cold, Baby!
Hannah had a sleepover on Friday - she was so excited, and had a BLAST! I thought she had fencing on Saturday morning - she'd neglected to tell me it was cancelled due to the holiday weekend - so I was up at 7:00 on Saturday to drive out to Suburban TC only to have her tell me when I arrived at 8:30, "Oh, mom, there's no fencing today!"

But it was a stunning morning - and I was very glad that I was out, even though I wouldn't have done it on my own. The sun was shining, the snow was blowing and it was a brisk -10 degrees (wind chill in the -30's - here's a photo of my car's temperature gauge, I'm pointing South)

It makes a person feel ALIVE, I tells ya. And not in the ' soccer team stranded in the plane crash in the Andes' sense of the word...

I remember 2 years ago I was teaching in Chicago during a VERY cold spell. I got into my rental car one day to see -6 and couldn't believe how frozen I felt. Yet Saturday - as cold as it was - somehow it seemed different. Is my blood thickening?

Since it was the coldest day since we'd arrived, it seemed good to celebrate by rushing for tickets to A Prairie Home Companion. Could there be a better day to stand outside and wait for our number to be called?

A good friend waited with us - Gerry and Max waited inside. So while the girls froze the boys schmoozed. We were soon the proud recipients of the last 4 seats in the theater at $15/each.

Our friend - who lives near the theater and had strolled over to meet us - graciously bowed out since we would have entered into an arm wrestling match to see who got the standing room ticket (After you! Oh, no, after YOU!)
The seats were scattered through the balcony, but close enough to that I could establish mom-eye-contact with just about everyone. Two seats were one in front of the other, so that's where Gerry and Max sat (so that G could keep an eye on M)

I have to say both kids did really well, even though it was clear they were getting near boredom as the 2 hour show came to a conclusion. I was proud that we could take them to the theater, not sit right next to them, and still have them behave in a respectable manner. Yay, kids!

Gerry attended a Multiple Myeloma group this weekend - he really enjoys getting together with the folks, but he wishes that there were more meetings. The next one was in 6 weeks. I wish that he knew a few local MM folks just to get together every week or so for coffee. Maybe when the weather changes.

I was shocked and very sad to hear that Adina Klein will no longer be the face of Vogue Knitting. I have really enjoyed working with her - she's a wonderful person and has had a strong and positive impact on both VK and Knit.1.

I'm really sorry to see her go, and hope to see her again soon in a very visible yarn related position, she's too good to not get snapped up somewhere soon! Here's a nice article about her by Crochet Insider, with a lovely photo of her, too!

Getting everything together for the taxes was a not-so-fun way to spend the afternoon yesterday, but Gerry and I got a lot of stuff figured out. Now we're waiting for the 1099's and other surprises, then I'll input it all and see how it falls.

The Power of Dreams for 2008
I know that given everything we've been through in the past year - and in light of all of the help we've received - it may be an odd time to think about dreams. Or maybe not.

When I have these fantasies I ask myself, "Who the heck do you think you are, trying to set all this stuff up..." and I answer, "A mom who wants to make some astounding memories for her family while the making is good..."

Being in a similar situation as a kid - my dad became ill when I was 11 and steadily declined for the next 5 years until his death when I was 16 - I realize how crystalized those 5 years have become in my memory.

I also remember how grey and depressing that time was - and not just because it was Toledo in the late 70's - and my dad had a whole different set of issues than Gerry does. Alcohol & prescription drug addiction, for one thing...

But ultimately, life is beautiful - life is a gift. In the midsts of the deepest pile of sh*t in the universe, we have the potential to live the joy.

I guess I want my kids to look back and remember the joy when they think of these years we're going through now.

It took me decades to slough off the layers of pain and hurt that I'd buried myself in during that time - my protective covering - and I don't want Hannah and Max to have the same burden.

Dream 1 - Paris with Hannah
I've had a dream to take Hannah to Paris in October for over 5 years. Every year something has come up to make the trip not possible (first it was 911, then I became sick the next year. Then my brother died, the next year my cousin had breast cancer surgery, and the year after that I had to travel to LA for business and life was too busy. We all know what happened since then...)

So this year I'm starting a Hannah-to-Paris savings account, and I'm crossing my fingers that come October there will be nothing to prevent us going. I really should look into possible teaching opportunities there in October (although my French is nowhere NEAR good enough to teach in that language!) to make the trip more viable.

Dream 2 - Family Lake Fun in MN
Alternatively, and more realistically, we're investigating renting a house somewhere in MN (or Wisc) this summer for a week - maybe two - so that we can invite some friends we haven't seen in a year out from NJ to experience the joy that is Minnesota.

It may work better to find a retreat type place where friends could rent small cabins, too, so that we can be all together but able to find some solitude. And also share the financial burden more easily.

Anyone know of a place like that...?

So I'll dream about a nice, warm MN evening on a lake with Gerry surrounded with good, old friends.

And I'll dream about croissants in a cafe, or crpes while strolling along the Seine, with my girl - while I watch the snow falling in the alley.

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Blogger Laura said...

I stayed at Camp du Nord last Fall when we went to a wedding. Very reasonable for us guests (although we bunked with a whole group of people).

January 21, 2008 5:02 PM  
Blogger Carolyn said...

One place we'd like to try is Sunset Pines Resort in WI. It's w/c accessible - a must for us, and perhaps handy for Gerry - and the prices seemed quite reasonable. Or at least, they did when the website was behaving earlier last year.

January 21, 2008 5:20 PM  
Blogger Alyson said...

I LIKE that top! Can't wait to see a pattern for it.

Saw in the news how cold it is in the Twin Cities on the news this morning....figured, even at those temperatures there would be plenty of handknits at your house to go around!

January 21, 2008 6:00 PM  
Blogger Knitting Linguist said...

Those are wonderful dreams! Go for it, girl :) I particularly love thinking of you and Hannah loose in Paris...

January 21, 2008 6:02 PM  
Blogger knitforknot said...

I have an aunt that owns a "cabin" on the MS river in Wisconsin. That cabin sleeps around 12, I think. I can find out the details if you wish. Just email me.

Good luck with all your dreams! They sound great.

Take care

January 21, 2008 6:51 PM  
Blogger Auntly H said...

Curt and I spent a fall weekend here:

It seemed like just the sort of place you're looking for. Dogs welcome, too, I believe!

January 21, 2008 8:45 PM  
Anonymous Mary Lou said...

I totally support your Paris dreams with Hannah. I got to spend a wonderful three weeks there and beyond with my 20-year-old daughter a couple of years ago. The unexpected part of the dream was how her newfound fluency smoked my 30-year-old rusty French. It was perfect . . .

Try for lake rentals. We found a great place in Paris through vrbo, too!

January 21, 2008 8:57 PM  
Blogger SusanSW said...

Hi Annie,
Love the surplice top! I'm about to order myself a treat of some Signature needles--are you knitting a top like this with 10" or 14" needles?

It would be wonderful to take Hannah to Paris one year; of course, each year she gets older the more likely she is to appreciate the trip.


January 22, 2008 12:42 AM  
Blogger Nicole said...

When I was 11 I went to Greece with my Mom, and when I was 30 we went to Paris for five days. Both trips are very dear in my memory. I hope you make it happen! Hannah will appreciate Paris now and later :)

January 22, 2008 6:05 AM  
Blogger rita said...

Wonderful dreams! I'm now a member of the "take my granddaughter to Paris" dream. She's only 8; I so want to see it through her eyes! We're taking her to California for two weeks this summer; it's a start.

But Disneyland and panning for gold aren't quite the same as Paris!

January 22, 2008 7:05 AM  
Blogger Cursing Mama said...

If you haven't tried the Gunflint Trail - there are wonderful lodges, resorts & cabins along numerous lakes with boundless activities.

January 22, 2008 9:33 AM  
Blogger Heston Folks said...


For several months now, I've been reading and enjoying your blog. I live up in Northern Minnesota, and would like to offer a few thoughts about finding a spot on a lake.

A good way to go about this is to decide geographically where you might like to be--i.e. how far away from home? what type of forest to be in? big lake, small lake, river?

And from there, what type of experience do I want? In this category, things like solitude or folks nearby? planned activities or do-it-myself? Far from a town or near enough to visit? Here's an important one: Do I want to cook, or have someone cook for me?--LOL.

Then begin to narrow it down. There are nearly a thousand resorts in the state that offer cabins, vacation homes, and lodge rooms/suites, so the choices abound. There are all sorts of sites that list lodges--try Googling the words cabin-lake-town name or area--and you'll probably come up with some possibilities.

Finding places on the internet is helpful, as you can often see pictures of the accommodations, and get an idea of what a place has to offer. Word of mouth--or blog as the case here--is good, too. But one other thing that I would suggest is to also call the resort and ask lots of questions. Each place will have its own unique flavor, and by asking questions, you can often get a sense of the resort and the surrouding area to know what it is like, and if it fits in with your vacation dreams.

I should 'fess up that these suggestions come from "the other side of the desk", as my husband and I own and operate a small resort. When we take reservations, it is important to us that the match is good, because we want folks to be happy about staying with us. It's a bummer for everybody if vacation reality doesn't come close to vacation goals. We all know that things can't be perfect, but it's nice when they draw near.

I hope that you find the spot that's right for you! I've never stayed there, but many of my guests have visited Camp du Nord, too, and they all say wonderful things about it. Drop me an email if you have other questions about how to find that place in the woods.

Barb G. in Northern MN

January 22, 2008 9:46 AM  
Blogger Marti said...

Annie - So glad to hear that you're workin' your way back to your designing and blogging groove. I'm on the lookin' forward to seeing the new design bandwagon. Have you checked to see if there are any groups for Gerry that are closer and more frequent? As for vacationing in the summer, I spent many a wonderful summer in the Baraboo/Wisconsin Dells area. They have all kinds of cabins, hotel/motel situations for all ages and budgets. Plus there is a lot to do indoor and outdoor for all ages as well.

Hope to see you in the San Francisco Bay area someday. Blessed be you and yours.

January 22, 2008 11:04 AM  
Blogger chezkathy said...

Paris!! I lived there for a year, '02-03. There are courses there like: a market tour with a cooking class, a museum tour with a painting class, etc. How about a yarn shop tour/shopping trip with a knitting class? A good place to start is There are many more organizations like that. I'll dig up the names and send them to you!

January 22, 2008 11:17 AM  
Blogger chezkathy said...

Me again, in Paris there the English language bookstores W.H.Smith and Brentano's for a book signing and knitting?

January 22, 2008 12:44 PM  
Blogger Joanne said...

I've given you an award on my blog! Your writing, even when "dry" is special to me.

January 22, 2008 1:13 PM  
Anonymous Kent said...

Your spreadsheet looks intriguing, if only it were larger :)

It looks like lots of tolerances/measurements?

What's the color coding for?


January 22, 2008 1:25 PM  
OpenID garnetewe said...

Oh Annie! I'm so jealous you got to see Prairie Home Companion! They were in San Francisco when I was nearby but I didn't find out in time to even TRY to get tickets!! And go for the house on the lake. I first met my (now) brother-in-law and his family when they invited us to share a cabin on a Minnesota lake about 6 years ago. It was heaven! Me, a California girl, was serenaded to sleep by loons!!!! Lovely!

How old is Hannah? Maybe you and Hannah, and Emma (11) and I could all go to Paris together! A girl can dream....

January 22, 2008 5:47 PM  
OpenID kmkat said...

I took my older son, then 11, to England and Scotland in 1995. What great memories. I hope your Hannah/Paris/October plan comes true.

Just finished listening to Garrison Keillor read "Pontoon," his latest book. It is great fun, starting with the opening sentence: "Evelyn was an insomniac, so when they said she died in her sleep you had to wonder."

January 22, 2008 10:46 PM  
OpenID jsd0530 said...


I'd like to hear more about the spread sheets that you use for creating patterns.


January 23, 2008 6:23 AM  
Anonymous amanda @ lorna's laces said...

hey annie!!

can i come to paris too! i mean come on i am the forgotten child!!! ;-)

seriously though...what a fantastic experience that would be for the two of you.


January 24, 2008 11:05 AM  

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