Friday, September 29, 2006

Project Funway

I'm having a moment, you'll have to excuse me. I just discovered two days ago that I can DOWNLOAD the current season of Project Runway from itunes. So what have I been doing for the past 2 days? Yes, knitting and watching PROJECT RUNWAY!! I HAVE GOT TO GET ON THAT SHOW! As soon as someone hears if they're having a season 4, let me know - I tend to be way out of the loop on these things...

Away for the Weekend

I went to a knitting retreat once - it was a Camp Stitches in 2000 (I think...) and I had a blast. Every retreat I've been to since then has been a teaching event, which I also love, but which is quite different.

When you're at a retreat as an instructor you have to be "on" whenever you're in public - answering questions, being gracious, listening to a lot of stories about knitting disasters and triumphs - and that's actually all very enjoyable. But it is wearying, and after a day at a retreat I just want to retreat!

I'm so glad that I have a private room - I can just hide away after classes, before dinner, and rest! I'm looking forward to it. It's out in Western NJ - I haven't been there in a while - but today will be a good driving day and I'm getting all packed up and ready to go!

5:37 Update
I arrived at the Jonsonburg Presbyterian Center to discover that - oops - I needed to bring sheets. Oy. Apparently I was sent a confirmation letter with this info (and I'm sure I was) but there was a period there at the end of August / start of Sept when we didn't have interenet for a few days, and that was a bummer.

More of a bummer is that little by little I'm discovering email that was sent to me that I didn't get - apparently this email was one of the missing. They offered to scrounge up some sheets and pillows, but I live about 30 miles away and - to be totally honest - I just feel better getting my own sheets and pillowcase and comfortor. I'm kind of a sheet snob (although not as snobbish as Martha, don't you know... She only sleeps on 300+ count sheets) and generally when I travel I DO take my own pillow (why not today? Who knows - maybe because it's been a while since I did an overnight gig)


So I'm home, which is nice because I get another few hugs and kisses from the husband and kids before I'm off, checking my email quickly and updating my blog. As soon as the traffic thins a bit I'll get back on the road - back to Johnsonburg. Evidently I REALLY like to drive.
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Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Men Seldom Make Passes

I had the best time last night - what a rowdy and great bunch of women inhabit Westchester! The only thing missing from my trip to Chappequa was a visit to Starbucks and a brush with BC (give 'em hell!!)

When I give a lecture as opposed to teaching a class, it's better that I not be able to see everyone very clearly. I try to read faces, tell if folks are bored silly or just grinning, and it's just better for all involved if I can't see folks too clearly. Here's the view from my perspective:



That's Raina in the incredibly well-fitting pink capelet, she was afraid I didn't recognize her, but here she is for everyone to see - Hi, Raina!!

For the first time in months I don't have a knitting deadline staring me in the face. I turned in the floral dress to Vogue today, it should arrive tomorrow, and now I start on my 2005 Taxes. We've filed for extentions, it's not a big deal (we always get some $ back) but I've never filed THIS late in a year... What can I say - it's been very, very busy. Luckily I'm pretty organized and I have all of my information, I just need to compile it in an understandable way and then turn the whole thing over to our accountant, St. Maggie. Lots of saints are popping up these days - perhaps St. Paul, too?

Thanks so much for the Red Wing info - your comments and emails gave me the skinny I was looking for; details you can't get except from folks who've lived in - or visited - a community. We saw a really groovy house online and it's in Red Wing. We mentioned it to our MN realtor and he thought it was great, too (just what we'd been looking for, except 60 miles away...)

At this point Gerry doesn't even have a job in MN. Depending on circumstances he may just be Mr. Mom for a bit after we move. But one step at a time - first to sell this old house!

Our agent will be having a second broker showing next week to show off our new beautiful stairs to the agents in the area. Apparently the carpet was the one sore point that the other agents commented on, so she's anxious for them to see the improvement. Even so, three of the couples who saw the house have come back for a second look, and we hear that one of them may want to come back this weekend... But with the latest news this week, folks are hesitant to jump into a house (and I don't blame them!) so folks are thinking hard before making a decision.

I'm just giddy with the knowledge that outside of taxes and some writing projects I'm working on, the knitting oyster sits in front of me, just waiting to be cracked open! I can pick up any yarn and any needles and knit to my little hearts content - what a luxury THAT is for me! Hmmmmm, I think I'll just glide into some Artyarns Cashmere to get started...
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Sunday, September 24, 2006

Blisters

We worked long and hard yesterday, then got up today and worked longer and harder (and I have the blisters all over my hands and fingers to prove it!)

While working I had Season 2 of Project Runway playing on the DVD, and that gave me a terrific sense of urgency. We had folks coming by at 3:45 for their 2nd look, and we were DETERMINED to get rid of the carpet and get the stairs beautiful by the time they arrived. The carpet on the stairs was the one really SORE point that was troublesome in the house, the only thing I could tell our agent wasn't thrilled about when she did her walkthrough before the open house, and the one thing the other agents had mentioned as they came through the house.

We accomplished it, but it was hard on the knees and harder on the hands! Pulling out the double nail lathe (what IS that stuff called?) was the hardest part, but sanding and painting was hard, too. Just bending over, kneeling, crouching for extended periods was rough - but the results are worth it!

Here's a little step by step of what we did the the steps between 6:00 pm on Saturday and 3:00 pm on Sunday.



So we'll be waiting with baited breath to hear how the folks liked the house on visit #2. In the mean time, does anyone have any information on Red Wing, MN?
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Blisters

We worked long and hard yesterday, then got up today and worked longer and harder (and I have the blisters all over my hands and fingers to prove it!)

While working I had Season 2 of Project Runway playing on the DVD, and that gave me a terrific sense of urgency. We had folks coming by at 3:45 for their 2nd look, and we were DETERMINED to get rid of the carpet and get the stairs beautiful by the time they arrived. The carpet on the stairs was the one really SORE point that was troublesome in the house, the only thing I could tell our agent wasn't thrilled about when she did her walkthrough before the open house, and the one thing the other agents had mentioned as they came through the house.

We accomplished it, but it was hard on the knees and harder on the hands! Pulling out the double nail lathe (what IS that stuff called?) was the hardest part, but sanding and painting was hard, too. Just bending over, kneeling, crouching for extended periods was rough - but the results are worth it!

Here's a little step by step of what we did the the steps between 6:00 pm on Saturday and 3:00 pm on Sunday.



So we'll be waiting with baited breath to hear how the folks liked the house on visit #2. In the mean time, does anyone have any information on Red Wing, MN?
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Saturday, September 23, 2006

When Life Gives You Lemons...



Refrigerate them.
Just a thought.


Thank Goodness for St. Joseph
I've heard - as has just about anyone who has sold a house - that if you plant a statue of St. Joseph upside down in your lawn you'll sell your house incredibly quickly.

Now, we're not in a big rush - as a matter of fact, if the house sells, dandy, but if not, we'll still be in a place we love. So I don't know what posessed me to order St. Joseph online, but he showed up today along with a testimonial scroll

"I'm not Catholic, but who am I to argue with success?" reads one of the comments.


Also included was a prayer to recite every day for 9 days or until the house sells.

Gerry said we should just plant a bottle of aspirin.

So today - Rosh Hashana - our Jewish / Methodist family planted a Catholic saint in our yard under the daisies. THIS is life in South Orange!

And what do you know? As soon as I planted it our real estate agent called to say that a couple who'd come to the open house wanted to come by for a 2nd look, and then another realtor called and wanted to bring folks by in an hour. Of course we said "YES!" and scampered around, tidying up the house and making ourselves scarce by 5:00 pm. We went to Maplewood and got pizza. We came back at 5:45 (the realtor said they'd be gone at 5:30) and they were still here. Luckily, only I came in to see if the coast was clear, and as I was fleeing who should come up the walk but Mr. Butkis with a bunny in his mouth. Poor bunny.

As I deposed the rabbit corpse into the trash at the side of the house I thought, "Thank heaven I saw the bunny first and not the realtor or prospective buyers!"

So we drove to the park and ate our pizza. Then we came home and ripped the carpeting off of the stairs and the lathe beneath it. My hands are covered in blisters, I'm exhausted, and tomorrow we have to paint the stair risers before the next batch comes through in the afternoon. We will - but why on earth did we get a bee in our bonnet do to that?

Off to bed - I'll dream of painters blue masking tape wrapped around St. Joseph.
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Friday, September 22, 2006

A Different Kind of Perfection

Last night was "Back to School" night, we met our kid's teachers and the new principal of Seth Boyden. It didn't go stellar for me (I visited Hannah's teachers, Gerry visited Max's teacher) and I think we may have some decisions to make.

Apparently Hannah's been having a hard time with her homework. They really ramp up the assignments this year, and she's been bad about writing down her assignments and turning them in. When we question her about it she's vague, very odd, and I couldn't quite put it together.

When the parents had settled into the class her teacher talked to us about her own kids (1 in Harvard, 1 on Broadway), then lectured us for almost 20 minutes about how our kids weren't turning in their homework. She said 9 kids hadn't turned in their homework that day. She also mentioned she'd been at Seth Boyden for 15 years. When I looked around I noticed the same expression on all the parent's faces, "She's been doing this for 15 years, she has a kid at Harvard and on Broadway, she must be better at this than I am...

I felt that way, too. As each parent approached her at the end of the session they were very apologetic about their kids, ("Is MY kid a slacker? I heard one parent ask.) When my turn came I told her that we had a very hard time understanding what Hannah was required to do each night - that we looked at her planner, and just couldn't make sense of what Hannah'd written. Sometimes I'd send notes back asking, "What is Hannah supposed to do!" because we're supposed to sign off on the homework, but I can't sign off on something I can't see...

Our exchange wasn't pleasant, and I would have felt like I was insane if it hadn't been for another parent who followed me outside and waited until most other parents went away to mention to me that she felt the same way - just not understanding WHAT our kids are supposed to be doing. Even more confusing, it was written RIGHT ON THE BOARD, yet Hannah hadn't copied it down in her planner, so she didn't do the work.

Gerry joined us and commented that if 9 out of 22 students aren't turning in their work, there's a bigger problem here...

It wasn't until we got home and talked it over with Hannah that the truth came out. Hannah cannot read script, the teacher writes the assignments in script. Words like Social confuse Hannah, and she's not quite there yet. Some of her (really smart) friends read and write script, but not all. My guess is that the 9 kids who didn't do their work are having the same problem Hannah's having - they can't read the board.

She said that she tried to tell the teacher and was ashamed. As she sobbed she said, "Mom, I'm the only kid who can't read script, and I just can't tell her!

I told her that at least one other kid was having a hard time reading the lesson. We're making an appointment to speak with the vice principal (Max's teacher from last year - we adore her) to see what we can do. It's clear that Hannah's become an "issue" for both of her teachers, and I can understand it. She's dramatic, lively, and when she feels she's not doing well she compensates by doing MORE stuff (which can be even more annoying - she wants SO much to do well...) What a frustration for both teacher AND student!

I remember having a hard time with script - AND with telling time! I think I was the last kid in the class to get both down cold, and still have a hard time with silly things like my left & right. My Aunt Wanda had a beauty salon with a hand painted sign my cousin created. It was lovely, in script it said, "Vanity Case Salon" - I swear until I was 10 I thought it said, "Sanity Case Salon" because I always got my V's and S's mixed up. It's funny now, but it was mortifying then.

Jeeze I love these kids so much - when they have a difficulty it just rips my heart out.
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Thursday, September 21, 2006

Perfection

Max has night writing every evening, and according to his teacher we're not supposed to help him with his spelling, etc., for the first few weeks so she can get a handle on where the kids need help. I didn't read this note until a few days ago, so she's probably thinking that Max has certainly fallen in his spelling and punctuation this week. It's weird to check his homework, but not do anything about it...

He wrote this little essay the other day, it made me smile. I definitely think he's perfect - or prfekt (he really does know better than that - obviously his self esteem isn't based on mundane things like spelling... That's not where his tlantlies.)

I've had a heavenly couple of days - no killer deadlines but one (and it's not killer!), beautiful weather, an interesting knitting project and some new, interesting projects rolling through my head, and a painfully clean house. Ah, life is good! I received the box o'sweaters from my Men Who Knit book and am in the process of sending the samples out to knitters who chose to keep their sweater in lieu of payment (I didn't offer this to everyone, and not everyone took me up on it, but it's hard to release such lovely work - very fitting, though!) I, myself, am wearing a beautiful blue and green yoked sweater worked up in Lorna's Laces SWIRL bulky and I adore it. I may just go scam a pair of socks, too...

Disks 2, 3 & 4 of the 2nd season of Project Runway arrived yesterday, and I watched them all. Can I just say how thrilled I am that Chloe won? I do realize that I'm 2 years behind everyone else, but it's new to me! When I'm finishing a dress this is the BEST TV I could ever watch - and I have it on my computer so I can easily stop it and do closeups, back up, see details, etc. While watching it last night here's what I was working on. It's inspired by this Sonia Rykiel dress

Today and this weekend sleeves will be finished and embellished with the same viney pattern that runs around some of the roses. I actually worked up a sleeve with the intarsia design on it (my original concept) but it just looked like a big shabby chic sofa (why, here's one I upholstered 7 years ago...) so I think the vine sleeves will be both more interesting and more flattering. I wanted the same feeling as where the seams meet on this slipcover, but it just looked dopey. Some things you really have to see in person to decide how much you don't like them.
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Sunday, September 17, 2006

Fish Eyes

The Amazing Race is back on the air, and life is good!

Our family LOVES this show - although they're a little heavy on the beauty queens, models and cheerleaders this time around (if that bandana chick claps her hands one more time - oy~!)

I told Gerry that what they really need is a middle-aged interfaith couple, but it looks like that's not going to happen...

I'm glad to see the hillbillies (I wonder if they'll use that word at any time in the show...) but, well, they're from Kentucky and my family's from West Virginia, but I guess I'll STILL root for them. I was actually very moved when Mary and the Single Moms were able to shimmy up that rope (AND the amputee!) - that's a lot more physical than they've done so early in the show before! I seriously doubt that I would have been able to do that (and didn't you feel rotton for the lovely Indian couple who worked so hard to get up the rope only to discover that they needn't bothered?)

Hearing Mary's accent makes me ponder the regional nuances of the Appalachian accent(s). My own family from Parkersburg has a slightly harsher sound (more R's) than my mom's family's accent (a little softer, deeper in the throat, more like the Virginia Tidal accent) The Kentucky accent always sounded even harsher to me, a little more nasal than I'm used to. Oddly, Pittsburgh natives sound a LOT like Parkersburg natives - but when I hear someone from that part of the country on the radio or TV, I can tell... Now, wouldn't THAT be a delicious new take on GBS's Pygmalion?

I was pretty bummed to see them dive right into the Fish Eyes last night, though. I was hoping for a "heights" challenge. LOVE those...

Knowing Oneself Through Editing
When I'm under pressure to get stuff done, and feel a little stressed, I find that I learn a LOT about me. One thing I don't have to learn - I know it already - I am NOT an editor. (I never said I was, I can't pretend to be, and the fact that I despise it so much just raises my regard for those who DO editing. My hat is off to you! And it's quite a hat!)

In this last go-round of editing Romantic Knits, I have discovered my inner stubborn, recalcitrant, 14-year old "Don't bother me!" I realize that I really hate to be nudged. I hate it so much, that I can't understand why Gerry remains married to me because I nudge him mercilessly (poor man...) So well-meaning emails and notes asking about the status of a project or how far I am on a certain pattern make me far more nutty and PO'd than I have a right to be. This, my friends, is why I love the email and hate the phone.

Scenario 1 - the Phone Call
Ring, ring, ring...
- Hello
- Hi, Annie - I just wanted to check and see how you're doing on X project...
- I'll tell you how I'm doing, *&*#&$^W* *#&$#(@#$ #&$#* *&*# THIS #*$&#* PROJECT, AND THE #*&$(#& PROJECTS THAT ARE #*&$(*( WAITING FOR ME!
- Oh, okay. I'll just call back later... ... when you're not so busy... ... goodbye.

Scenario 2 - the Email
Ding! (my own "you have mail" sound)
I open the email,
The email asks (innocently) "How's it going?"
I swear
The email can't hear me, it doesn't take offence, it just waits for my response...

I go to the kitchen and get a glass of seltzer, I take a walk, I go to the bathroom and by the time I return I'm able to respond to the email in the spirit it was sent.
Amen.

So, having just sent off the manuscript to my editor, incorporating many of Donna's excellent changes and adding a few of my own, I'm ready to resume my knitting stance and get the BODY of this dress done tonight!

The Rose Dress
Rose - to answer your questions, it will (hopefully) be in Vogue Knitting - it will be a mini dress with an all-over rose & hydrangea intarsia. After I finish the blocks of color, I'm going back with duplicate stitching for the detail work, then some french knots in the hydrangea, some decorative chain embroidery for the leaves, and it should be stellar. I'm keeping the colorwork to a minimum (big areas, but spaced rather wide apart...) so that it's not "too fussy", to make it fun (rather than irritating) to knit. Fun is good.

Open?
I taught at Sticks and Strings yesterday (what a nice shop, and what NICE class members! We had a BLAST and I feel certain that everyone in the class will be major lace knitters the next time I see them!) and while I was away Gerry took the kids on a hike with the dog so our Real Estate Agent could hold her open house. We only had 6 folks come through, but one wants to come back (so far) and we have a 'drive by' coming tomorrow evening. I haven't told the kids yet he'll be here JUST in time for the Simpsons - that will be a heart breaker...

One Thing More!
As I was teaching yesterday one of my students, Sydney, showed me her lovely wooden needles. Today she sent me the link to buy them online (I'm tempted - even though I'm not a big wood needle user...) I really, REALLY liked the point on her needle - pointy with a little bit of a scoopy turn to it - really nice! Anway, here's the link: Turn Of The Century And they're from Ohio - bonus!
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Friday, September 15, 2006

Aching Hands

It doesn't happen to me very often, but every now and then when I do a killer amount of knitting I get aching hands. Actually, all of my muscles have been aching, which is probably the rain, the coming Autumn, the work on the house - just life and getting older - but the piece I'm knitting right now is a large chunk o'knitting, and for several reasons I prefer to knit this one on straights.

When it's finished it will be a dress with large intarsia roses across it - a knit dress, light worsted weight yarn on size 6 needles (generally my favorite yarn weight and needle size) but it's 200 sts across (it will have a side seam) and every two or three rows I need to stop and rest my hands. I'd rather not work on circs because I can't find any with a needle long enough to allow me to get a good speed going, and this is due next week. So I knit on straights and rest my hands every bit. I also find that I've been putting off this knitting - working on charts, editing, watching a movie - when the most intelligent thing would be to work on the dress and when I take my necessary breaks, then pick up the chart, manuscript or return to the movie.

Ah, life is filled with choices.

Note: Just so's you knows, when I knit I rest my right arm on a bolster, so after I get 7 or 8 inches finished, the fabric rests on the bolster, too, so I don't have a lot of weight hanging off of the needles. Never fear! The pain is mostly from just WORKING so many sts in a row, and the fact that I'm working sort of fast is also cause for some finger angst. Fear not, I won't overdo it - these hands are my life!


It's been rainy here for a few days - Max is reading a lot (to the cat) and loving it. School is good.
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Wednesday, September 13, 2006

A New Toy

This dopey youtube obsession and imovie are time eaters. I knit all day, I knit all evening and I'll be knitting tomorrow all day. I took a break (2 hours) and whipped up this very odd thing. Enjoy.




Appetizing, Older House for Sale

Yesterday at the Realtor Open House there were 27 folks - our agent says that's good, so we're crossing our fingers that this weekend at the Open House (Sunday, 1-4) we'll get a good amount of actual BUYERS interested in the house. It all feels so anticlimactic.

The really scary thing is that of the new listings in South Orange, ours is the cheapest. This is an insane market.
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Tuesday, September 12, 2006

To The Brim

The past few days have been so full of emotion - contemplating a move from a home and community we love, dealing with the 911 memories, dealing with the memories of all of my relatives who have passed since 911 (somehow I just lump all of that together in my mind (probably not a good idea, but it seems that, personally, 911 marked the start of a very painful period of loss and illness in my life.)

Right now I'm sitting at Panera's - my favorite on-the-road place - because they have high speed wireless FREE for their patrons. Whenever I'm in a new place and have to check my email I look for a Panera (LOVE those coblestone muffins and iced coffee!!) or a library. If I can't find one of those, I'll do a Starbucks or Caribou Coffee or Barnes & Noble (they make you pay for wireless...) But Panera's my first choice - and when I'm traveling with the family it generally means lunch or dinner, so we've become a wholly Panera lovin' family. In that very short period between discovering a mass on my ovary and diagnosis and surgery some friends took me to the same Panera I'm sitting in now. That was 3-1/2 years ago, and I feel better than ever!

I'm here because they're having a realtor's Open House at my home today - I was just out of the shower when my realtor arrived and while she place my new rug in the upstairs hallway I changed into a simple black dress. It was sort of a fat middle-aged version of the quick change in Breakfast at Tiffany's. Was there ever anyone less Audrey Hepburn than moi? Atticus is on a lead in the back yard with his food and water and a few chewey treats, but when I left he was protesting LOUDLY. That's our plan of action when folks come to see the house - I'll tie up the dog, make sure he's happy (!!) then go on a long walk to visit a friend or drive to Panera's for some email work. We'll see if a loudly barking dog in the backyard is a deterrent to any buyers. (Our backyard IS very long and he's behind the garage, so it's not like he slavering and howling right on the back steps... Once again, my neighbors LOVE me. Sorry Mr. Yuniyoshi.)

While I waxed the kitchen floor, painted the side of our furnace with rust-proof paint, installed 8 florescent lights (who knew I could do that?!) and shampooed the rug I watched Medium last night. Jeeze, I love that show - and it was my favorite episode. Gerry says that the husband's voice sounds like Liam Neeson. (Gerry has a peculiar gift - he can hear any voiceover and identify the actor)

Well, Panera is filling up with real lunch eaters, so I'd better get back home to see how devastating the overall comments from the realtors who visited the family manse are!
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Sunday, September 10, 2006

How We Make Work Fun



We are in the final round of cleaup (last night Gerry and I were up late tossing all kinds of things into the dumpster - the neighbors LOVE us!) and one of our last tasks is to get rid of the foggy, awful back porch doors.

So, in an effort to make this a little more fun, we decided to crash the glass (that also gives us more room in the dumpster - which we've FILLED in 4 days. Who knew?)

Enjoy!

I'll write about the MAGNIFICENT cruise more later - and about the crochet class at Cornwall Yarns which was absolutely a HOOT! I have far, far too much fun in my classes. Well, what do you expect from a psycho who equates a half double crochet (my favorite stitch) with a menage a trois?
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Friday, September 08, 2006

Crock-umentary

Can you believe that ABC is going to run a partisan lie of a "docu-drama" on the events leading up to 911 on Sunday - an exploitation to get ratings and to raise a certain political agenda? I'm stunned. They allude that this is based on the 911 report, but it contains dialogue and scenes that directly contradict the findings of the 911 commission. I'm hoping that this will force anyone who still believes the myth of the "liberal media" to reconsider.

If you're as bothered by this as I am, please let ABC know it.

No matter what end of the political spectrum you sit at (and it's pretty obvious where I am...) I think we can all agree that misinformation and fabrication masquerading as "facts" is a bad idea - especially relating to such a heart wrenching topic as the 9/11 attacks.

And while you're at it, let Scholastic know that you appreciate them reconsidering their decision to hand out copies of this program as "educational material" along with a programming guide for school teachers. Oy. THAT was even more troubling, but not covered as much in the media.

As someone who lived 18 miles from the Towers, and lost friends in the disaster, I wish there were a moratorium on anything but serious, well researched DOCUMENTARIES on this event for at least 10 years after 9/11/01.

House?
We continue cleaning, painting, cleaning, scrubbing, throwing away, cleaning, and doing a little washing up. Have I mentioned lately that my family's Dutch? Gerry repainted the basement playroom / office and then, on the advice of our real estate agent, he painted the stairwel leading down to the basement. Since I'm taller and have a steadier hand, I did the trim and finished up the job while he started the daunting task of removing the big, foggy, sliding glass doors from the back porch.

It's only been here 2 days and the dumpster is getting filled up! Amazing, huh? I am very proud of the cleanup job we all did in the garage yesterday, Hannah swept it and mopped it, and Maxie washed the bikes and took down the hammmock. It's very good to get the kids involved in the whole thing, too (and having pizza for dinner for the groundbreaking 2nd day in the same week) didn't hurt, either!

Gerry is working so hard that at one point he fell out of hte porch window (riding the window down as he jimmied it out of the frame) and leapt over it to avoid breaking it. I ran out to see him sitting on the back lawn with his hand over his heart (he thinks he pulled a muscle or bruised a rib). That was very scary, and I'm doing my best to get him to be sensible about all of this cleaning up!
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Thursday, September 07, 2006

Physical Labor

The past few days have been a whirl of physical labor, with not much time for my brain work (stop snickering) and my needlework. So today - at least until Gerry or the kids get home - is devoted to sitting on my bottom and finishing some samples, finessing an intarsia chart, all that other good stuff...

Speaking of intarsia - wouldn't these make a phenomental knit picture? This is the same bush that gave me these beauties 2 months ago. Hydrangeas are a beautiful mystery to me - right after our bad heat wave I noticed all of them all over town looked very sad - brownish on the flowers, dull - and now they've revived to this.

Today my house goals are:

Finish painting the trim in the stairwell to the basement
Get the downstairs office back in order (after Gerry painted the walls)
Make a BIG DENT in tossing out the growing pile of garbage in our basement (it's ALIVE!)
Make sense of Gerry's closet (we have 2 walk in closets off of our room, Gerry's is barely a "crawl in" right now...)

I find myself looking forward so much to theHudson Cruise this weekend! We'll be leaving from Newburg Landing at 4:00, and evening on the Hudson in September is one of the more beautiful sights I've ever seen. I adore the Hudson River Valley - it was where Gerry and I went for our Honeymoon (driving around in his old VW GT, fixing it along the way, just having a wonderful time!) It's an amazing river, and huge thanks are due to the Riverkeeper organization for working so hard to restore it to a livable cleanliness. No matter how much they spend in advertising, GE will never convice me they bring "good things" to life...

Note to Kate: What's BC? Where is it?
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Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Fugediboudit!

We have achieved Dumpster.

It's a rite of passage here in NJ (I think it's in the state constitution that everone has to have a dumpster on their property once every 15 years...) and we have a lovely Mauriello Bros Dumpster in our backyard. Now we start tossing things into it with wild abandon (and sitting on the rim with a shotgun to keep outriders from tossing their OWN stuff in it...) and that's how we clean the house in New Jersey.


Yes, it really is as boring as it looks...


For a Virgo this is like Christmas. I have always been a thrower-awayer (much to the horror of my husband, Mr. Gerry "pack-rat" Landy) and in this house I own more than I ever have - much of it garbage. Early in our marriage - when we were purchasing our first computer together - there was the horrible Tearing The $1,000 Money Order In Half In The Envelope Incident That was very bad. As I said, it was early in our marriage, we were able to tape the pieces (all 128 of them) back together and get the bank to issue another money order. Probably my most essential "Lucy" moment. Oy.

I think this need to cast things off comes from a childhood of moving a LOT - losing a lot - feeling as if we needed to be ready to go in a few days. My dad had a business, he got sick, it did worse. He signed a personal note to keep the business afloat, then got sicker, and the company folded. House, cars, everything was gone (not in a dumpster) and for the next few years we moved a LOT!

For most of my high school and all of my college years my dearest hope was to own a home. When Gerry and I finally bought this house 8 years ago Hannah was 11 months old and Maxie was kicking his mommy from the inside. Bit by bit we've squirreled away stuff that should never see the light of day, and now it never has to - right into the dumpster!

So once we fill this dumpster up with yarn, we'll bring the second one in for the household stuff...

Crochet Contributions
Basic Crocheting:
All the Skills and Tools You Need to Get Started

A few years ago I briefly held a job at a magazine which went kaput (not my fault, I swear!) In the course of this ill-fated endeavor, I met a writer, we corresponded about a few things, and that was that. She contacted me a while ago because she was working on a crochet book and asked if I'd contribute a few things. I did, and here it is! The projects are excellent, simple and interesting - very nice photography, too!

Hooked:
A Crocheter's Stash of Wit and Wisdom

I'm wise - who knew? I had a short essay in Interweave Knits Crochet last year, and Kari asked me if she could include it in this collection. I'm in excellent company (how did I get to this party?) and I received the book yesterday and devoured it as my bedtime reading. VERY enjoyable - very nice!

Crochet Pattern -a- Day
2007 Day-to-Day Calendar (Calendar)

Here's the last calendar of this kind that will have my name on it - I've passed the torch to Desiree Scales, the able Georgian who will be the editor of the 2008 calendar. The new one will be in stores very soon (if not already!) and I have hardly ANYTHING in it (cause for celebration for some...) Woohoo!
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Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Vacation from Vacation

They say that after a vacation you need a vacation, and that's the case for us! We spent our time running, running, running - checking under sinks and looking for damp spots in basements.

When we arrived home we hit the ground running - Gerry's just about painted the finished room in the basement (it really did need a coat of paint!) AND the stairway down to the basement (above and BEYOND the call of duty!) and today - even though I haven't done as much as I might - I find myself utterly exhausted! Pooped!! My brain and body are fried, I could sleep all day and night and day again?

And just when I was getting used to the luxury of late mornings, school starts again! Back to getting up at 6:30 so I can get the kids up at 7:00 to catch the bus a little after 8:00. The whole world of baths and early bedtimes and schedules is back - my Virgo self is happy about this, but my lazy self just wants to laze in bed until 7:30 every day (8:30 on weekends - kids change everything!)

This weekend I'll be teaching a crocheted leaf scarf class at Cornwall Yarn Shop up on the Hudson River, then after the class we'll have a delightful cruise along the Hudson River, making our crocheted leaves and enjoying the beautiful weather (cross your fingers that we'll have sun!)

The following week I'll be back up in Westchester for a lace workshop at Sticks & Strings (with a sneak preview of a motif I used in a scarf in Romantic Knits), and then the week after that I'll be up at the Westchester Knitting Guild. It's a very New York kind of month for me!

Keynote
Is anyone out there a keynote guru? I'd like to put together some presentations to make my classes more exciting, and I've never used keynote (but being on a mac, it seems like a good app to play around with...) I'd love to hear any tips that you've gleaned as you work with this - it seems to have worked well for Al Gore!

Now backto my crocheted leaves - and pattern writing!
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My First YouTube Video

Some shots from the state fair, and my little movie from my little elph camera. Just for fun!

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Monday, September 04, 2006

Answers & Issues

I wanted to take a moment to assure my commentors & readers a few things:

We're not planning on buying the airplane house (and, yes, much of the ivy had been taken down before we visited, and I made my real estate agent nuts with my constant comments about how damanging vines can be to a mortar or stucco surface...)
The Saratoga house is MUCH more charming than it looks in the picture - it didn't thrill me, either, but once inside it was very nicely laid out. However, it's probably not for us...
Our real estate agent telegraphed his feeling that we could probably do better much more clearly, yet more subtly, than any of my girlfriends when I was dating an - ahem - loser. Thanks, Joe!
If you've written and I haven't answered, it's because I'm insanely resting (not so busy, just resting. Sorry. I'll catch up soon!)
Yes, we really do want a house built before 1940. Really. Honest. and if there hasn't been a lot of home "improvement", so much the better! We just like to see routine maintenance and no shag carpet.
I'm 45.
Sara, you're moving to MAUI????? When can I visit...?


I'm probably wrong, but I feel that we either looked at (or seriously looked into) every house for sale in the Twin Cities that is:

- built between 1900 - 1940
- with 3+ bedrooms
- priced between $250K - $400K
- with at least 2 bedrooms larger than 120 sq ft.
- with an extra space for an office
- with a reasonable sized yard (reasonable is debatable...)
- close to good schools / parks

and out of all of our searching the two I mentioned were the two that seemed the best fit for us. So much walking and looking and dreaming and opening and closing windows. I think I'm kind of a horror show about looking at houses - I walk in, I know what I want and if the layout is wrong (room size and floor plan) there's just no point in trying to make it work. Then the windows & doors have to be working well, then the yard needs to be decent. On the list is also neighborhood safety (please bear in mind I live 4 blocks from Newark - and we have a very safe neighborhood - so my criteria may be a little different than the average home owner...) and general neighborhood feeling (tree coverage, kids on the block, house-pride among the neighbors, etc.)

We walk around the neighborhoods of houses we really like - and that's a delight in Minneapolis!

So, for the present, our efforts are turned to getting Irving Ave ready for market (basement wall painted today, humidifier purchased, curtains hung in Gerry's office, pictures up in the living room, new bathroom mats & towels, clutter managed in "Yarn Room," and kids rooms straightened nicely...)

Tomorrow more finishing touches, and arranging for the garbage dumpster (and other professional appointments) to be delivered to our home...

If the house sells - St. Joseph? Are you listening? - we'll either find a place toot-sweet in MN, or we'll pack up and store the lions' share of our posessions and rent a place until we're able to find the perfect fit. Flexibility is a beautiful thing!
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Sunday, September 03, 2006

Home with Perks

We arrived back in Newark today, our flight was delayed about 40 minutes and we circled the 'berg, each minute just slightly lower in the sky, the air pressure pounding my eardrums. Ouch.

I've always been sensitive to air pressure, especially on a plane. About 30 years ago I flew into Dublin and after the 8 hour flight my ear popped so hard that it bled. Fun. Ever since then when a descent on an airplane is long I tend to get POUNDING headaches, very sinus-like, all along my jawbone and up into my ear. Did I say, "Ouch?"

So when we arrived, aside from being partly, temporarily deaf, I had a terrible ache on the right side of my head. We scooted down to the baggage claim, waited long, long minutes for our luggage, and piled into the car we'd ordered to take us home. The short drive seemed long, but thank god I had advil.

As we pulled up our NJ real estate agent was waiting for us, and after dropping the bags at the house Gerry and the kids drove off to claim Atticus from the kennel. Nancy, our agent, and I sat and had a long chat about the house - the list of things we need to take care of before next Tuesday (TUESDAY?) when our house is open for a brace of agents to wander through. I need to make myself scarce that day (with Atticus, the friendly-but-scary-big-barking-black poodle) so the agents can speak freely with no annoying home owners listening.

I'm getting "clutter hampers" for all of the rooms - lidded baskets for the bedrooms and living room that we can use to stow the clutter causing bits and pieces that make a house look a little "too" lived in - and we'll be painting the basement Monday, planting fall flowers out front and putting curtains up in Gerry's office. We also have a dumpster coming this week (toss away those piles in the basement!), we'll be removing the permanently fogged doors on the back porch, hanging pictures (I'm going to try the 3M Command products) and getting a dehumidifier for the basement. Life is busy and good.

Happy B-Day to ME!
Lost in all of the hubub today was almost the fact that it was my birthday, but never fear!

When Gerry came home with Atticus, he stopped and picked up a surprise ice cream cake at 31 Flavors (my favorite!) Alison from down the street came up with Jaiden (Hannah's bud) and we opened a bottle of champagne we've been keeping in the refrigerator - lots of stuff to celebrate this week!

Alison and Jaiden are two of the main reasons it's hard to think about moving - look at these beautiful punim!
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Saturday, September 02, 2006

Bidding a Very Fond Farewell

We're all sad to be leaving the Twin Cities and outlying regions. We had SUCH a wonderful time here (an odd vacation, to be sure, but a wonderful one!)

Our weather timing was exquisite - it rained when we arrived, but that cleared up in a day. We had sunny days and cool nights, perfect weather for the MN State Fair, and now - the evening before we fly home - the rain has started again. Mabel's luck!

Thursday we had a magnificent dinner with friends, then a perfect walk to Minnehaha Falls and some DQ treats. Gerry says the best moment of the evening was the look on my face when Jennie casually mentioned that the falls are so beautiful when the weather is 20 below... She told me to start knitting NOW.

Yesterday afternoon our same friends came up to the lake house and the kids were in heaven! We were ALL so glad to see them - we'd been hurting for a nice, long visit with friends. When I think of moving away from my NJ friends I get very sad - knowing that we're meeting wonderful new friends in MN makes it easier to contemplate a move.

We had a nice dinner, then went down by the lake and sat around the fire roasting marshmallows, making s'mores and telling endless, pointless stories about Orlando/Leonardo and Skullerita. It was silly and hysterical.

Then back up to the house for a killer game of Sorry - the duo of Jenny & Hannah won (was there any question?) and once again our children have proven to be the most effective birth control on the planet!

But now - after a very fun afternoon at the Mall of America (yes, we went back! I spoke to someone there about the rude woman and they offered us some ride tickets and aquarium tickets - which we were happy to use) the kids rode MANY rides, we marveled at the sea life and sharks! & I found a new suitcase, wallet, jeans for Hannah and souvenirs for our friends, we had a great pizza dinner.

Right now Gerry and the kids are at the pool while I sit and blog (and work on some patterns...) We leave tomorrow morning for home - it will be so great to see our house, our friends and especially ATTICUS!! However, we will really miss being in Minnesota. We've loved this week.

When Gerry and I planned this vacation, this is what we hoped to accomplish:

1) See enough of the Twin Cities so that we could better make a decision about moving here
2) Get a general feeling for the area (does it feel familiar? Foreign? Uncomfortable?)
3) Check out kid's activities, parks, schools, etc., to get a sense of whether the kids would be happy here (our biggest concern!)
4) Look into jobs for Gerry (uh, didn't get too far with that...)
5) Look at a lot of homes and get a feeling of what we can expect to get for our $$

We accomplished just about everything - as much as one can in a week - and had a wonderful time as we did so!

We're leaving with some nice memories of fun and fun times with friends, a new "aunt" and "uncle" for Hannah and Max (surprise Joe & Jenny - you're part of the Landy family!), a good sense of the neighborhoods that seem to offer what we're looking for (60 - 90 year old home with a yard and bedrooms large enough for our comfort and a good floorplan in a nice, kid friendly neighborhood).

We're also leaving with a rough strategy for moving here - it's as definite as we can make it at this point!

We're going home to clean out the junk in the house (it's DUMPSTER time!), fix the back porch doors, get the ol' termite inspection (we feel sure we're fine, but it meant a lot to us when we were looking for a home...) and get the chimney cleaned and fixed up and make some landscape improvements to (now hideous) front of the house. Thank god Fall is coming, those mums will look excellent with the paint job ouside and inside the house!

Once that's all done, it's SALE TIME!

Looking at so many houses in the past week has given us a wonderful sense of what is immediately noticable when considering a house for purchase. I've learned that this is probably the most important thing to do when considering a house sale. In addition to our NJ Real Estate Agent (who's pragmatic and a good friend, too!) we're going to ask some friends to do a walk through of our home and get their feedback on what they notice right away that would be a turn-off if they were looking to buy (and figure out if we can fix or change it - )

Whether our house sells quickly and well will be the determining factor on how soon (or if) we move to MN. We're open to the idea of renting a PODS-like unit, packing our stuff and storing it, renting a home for a bit while we wait out the market - giving the perfect property time to reveal itself.

Seeing houses that would suit us - even if not perfectly - has given us hope that there IS a house that is perfect for us. Believe me, I read your comments and appreciate the thought that goes into them (usually when someone cautions us about something, it's a concern that Gerry and I have been discussing for a few days anyway!)

And Gerry's job? We'll have to go on cockeyed faith with that one. I'm thinking that his first job - when we move here - should be producing a knitting DVD for me!

Yarn?
I know there's been precious little knitting lately on the blog - I'm sorry about that! Vacation is vacation, after all!

Right now I'm working through a groovy pattern I'll be teaching at Cornwall Yarn Shop next Saturday. It's a crocheted scarf, and it's worked in small pieces so that the project can be VERY portable (and so that the students can take it with them on the Hudson River Cruise later in the day!) I'm really excited about it - and it's nice to do some crochet after a few months off from that.

And I'm thrilled and terrified (in equal parts!) about the new project I'm doing for VK. It's a very large rose intarsia pattern repeated over and over on a simple dress - it will be fun to knit, but the scary part is how well will I be able to tweak the intarsia chart so that it's the MOST fun (and lest frustrating!) to knit up! I think I'll be knitting this one myself, which is so great because I don't have any other projects on my plate now, so I can eat, sleep and dream this one (intarsia takes a lot of attention!)
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Friday, September 01, 2006

Special Delivery!

This morning I recieved the COLOR, FINISHED copy of Twist & Loop! I'm SO excited - it's absolutely lovely - and I cannot WAIT until this is actually on the market (10/24!!) I'm hoping that the beauty of the photos and simplicity of the instructions will make even those who can't see themselves as wire knitters feel the need for some wire between their fingers.

Striving for Contentment
We're winding down our week here - we've had SUCH a wonderful time (and, as Gerry said yesterday, he'd love to stay another week because he feels that he's barely scratched the surface of understanding the Twin Cities!) I asked Hannah the other evening if she liked it well enough to move here and she said, exasperated,"Mawwm, I WISH you would just move us here and stop asking - of course I love it!"

She's expressing what we all feel - we'd move here tomorrow, but we need to get the ducks in a row, having everything fall into alignment, make the pieces fit together - all of those analogies - before we can transplant our roots in MN soil.

At this point we're down to 2 houses that we'd be happy in - but in all honesty if neither one came through, just SEEING these houses gives us a nice sense of hope that there WILL be more (perhaps even better for us?) on the market. We also saw a lovely house yesterday which is a little pricey for us, but when we arrived the mom and her two little kids were still there (hadn't driven off yet) and, of course, we bonded and my Max became buds with her son, Max. We probably won't take the house (sadly - it's a lovely home!) but I felt like I'd made a new friend - we both were on the point of weeping to leave our respective neighborhoods - and she assured me that we'd "fit in beautifully" in the area.

Those of you who are familiar with the Twin Cities, I'd love your feedback on these two properties:

PORTLAND AVE - Minneapolis
Pluses
Nice sized living room
Nice sized dining room
Nice bedroom layout
Lots of closets
Breakfast nook
Nice backyard (simple, but not tiny)
Nice wood floors
Not remodeled or updated (this is a plus if it brings the price down as we can redo and decorate as we want.)
Right near Minnehaha Pkwy, very close to bike and walking paths and very close to 7th Level Park (lots of kids activities)
Kitchen will have to be redone (see "not remodeled")
2 car easy-access garage

Minuses
House on a Busy Street
Airplane noise (worst between 5-6, according to neighbor who's lived there for a year and says she still can't quite get used to it - but she also says that it's not so bad at other times, and that other neighbors say they don't notice it anymore...)
Kitchen will have to be redone (new floor, new appliances and cabinets)
Basement oddly configured (but clean and not bad)
Garage foundation has major upheaval (big crack - what's going on down there?)
Yard has soft spots (Danger, Will Robinson?)


SARATOGA (St. Paul)
Pluses
Quiet Street
Move In Condition
Office Space on Ground Floor
Nice landscaping at back and side of house (= nice space on either side of house, unusual in the houses we've seen)
Nice Mud Room
Nice Basement (clean and finished, but not "redone" - simple!)
Nice layout of house

Minuses
Odd shaped living room (hard-to-use porch space included in Living Room)
Remodeled kitchen not really to our taste
Not loving the re-do of the breakfast nook
Carpeting throughout upstairs (we're a no-carpet family due to allergies, we'd have to remove it)
4 smallish bedrooms instead of 3 larger ones.
Single car Garage
6 blocks from "just okay" park

As I said, if either of these don't work out, we won't be heartbroken. But so far they fit the bill better than any other houses we've seen - and both of us feel that we could be very happy in either home. I'm interested in comments from those who may know these areas...

Tappa Tappa Tappa

As I was writing this entry I looked out the window and what did I see but a woodpecker taking a nibble from the deck. Heck, it's not my deck - I'm here for the wildlife (so I snapped a few shots, THEN shooed it away...)
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Alison's Scarf
Link to pdf file of cable/trellis lace scarf


Hannah's Poncho
Link to pdf file of multi-sized poncho



Chullo-licious


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