Friday, January 26, 2007

Stronger, Longer

This is what I packed yesterday in POD1. Touch me! And that's why my own back and legs are a-hurtin' today. It feels like the second day of basketball season.

Yep, I moved it all - all of it - alone. Then I went to lunch (BTW, thanks for all of the great tips on Thai food in the twin cities - and the hitch advice? Golden!) I have such wonderful blog readers - thanks!

So today as I sit and blog (and answer email, and write patterns, and generally get myself ready to go teach this coming week) there are two strong men carrying boxes out to POD1, packing things up, and basically doing the work of - well - one strong woman. Just kidding. They're obviously doing better than I EVER could, and I'm very grateful to my realtor for giving me their names.

If anyone in the Essex County, NJ area wants their contact info, email me and I'll send it right off to you!

Stronger Longer
I haven't mentioned my health for a bit, and that's because I'm feeling better than I have in about 5 years.

Even when I went through the Lyme Disease adventure in the early 90's, I always prided myself on having more energy than someone in my situation would normally have. Exhaustion wasn't something I dealt with on a regular basis - partly youth, and partly my constitution. [in Russian accent] I am strong, like Bull.

But when I got very sick about 5 years ago, my energy level took a sustained nosedive. It's come and gone over the past years, but for the past few months I've felt more energetic and my breathing is better (I guess they're connected, duh...) than I have in quite a while.

I'm on good drugs (asthma and COPD regulation inhalers) and I've been taking a combination of co-enzyme Q-10, fish oil and vitamin B & C complex and I've noticed quite a difference in my general wellness level. Hooray!

Today I rework some class handouts for Double Knitting and other stuff. I've taught the class a few times, and after I've had some experience with the class I like to take the information I've gleaned from my classes (thanks, students!) and augment the handouts. Augment. Like what Condi says we're doing with the troops in Iraq. Oy.

I'm excited about the double knitting class, because I can really see folks' eyes opening up as they work through the sample, I can see their minds working, and their imaginations taking off - thinking of all the stuff they can double knit, all of the applications for this cool techniques (several techniques, actually) I love knitting - it is so exciting. Gah, that seems like such a weird sentence out of context, something non-knitters will probably never get...

So much of today will be reworking that handout, then I have some shipping to do (books!) and finally some wire shopping in East Orange so I'm prepared for some upcoming wire classes. I'm going to experiment with traveling lighter on my Chicago trip - it's such a bummer to have to lug heavy, heavy suitcases (3 of them) and - in all honesty - I don't use much of what I pack. So I made a note of what NEVER came out of the suitcase in my last few trips and that stuff will be staying at home this time.

Advisory: Liberal Content
When I was in LA a few years ago I heard the Stephanie Miller show for the first time, and I laughed so hard I had to stop the car at a 7-11 and go use the ladies room. Oh, she is so darned funny, and her sidekick, Jim Ward, is perhaps the most talented voice guy (voice DIETY, thankyouverymuch) on air. Amazing. And her dad was Goldwater's running mate - intruiging.

So I was bereft that our own local Air America affiliate didn't play her, they played Sam Seder instead - he makes me tired. He yells a lot, yells the same stuff, and is a little more dogmatic than I'd like. I prefer a lighter hand with the liberalism - you catch more flies with jokes, and you change the world when minds open. So I stream her every morning and she makes my day a little lighter - Morning Edition, then BBC News, then Stephanie Miller. Life in perspective.

One of the nice extras of St. Paul is that Stephanie Miller is on from 9-11 there every day on 950 am. Woo and Hoo. So imagine my mixed feelings when I turned on the radio this Tuesday and heard Ms Miller on our own NYC Air America affiliate - I was happy to hear her (yay!) but also wanted that superior feeling, When I Move To St. Paul I'll Hear Her In My CAR! There was a lot of chat in her show that day like, "Hey! We're in NYC now! Hellllloooo, Jersey!" so I know it wasn't some satellite feed mistake...

But she's been gone for the past 2 days and Sam is back. What 's up? NY 1600 am has already lost me in the early morning since they have Armstrong Williams on from 6-9 (and WHAT IS UP WITH THAT???) so - well - in radio terms at least, it is definitely time to move to Minnesota.

I've gone from being an full day Air America listener to basically just listening during Randi Rhodes and for part of Rachel's show in the evenings before the Leher Newshour. There's just too much good stuff on WNYC for the average NY area progressive to waste time on WWRL in the mornings!


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Thursday, January 25, 2007

Had Pod-ya*

"One little pod, just one little pod..." So my worrying wasn't misplaced.

Apparently the POD can't get to our backyard. So instead of having two PODS on our driveway, and loading them at the same time, we'll have just one. We'll load it up, then send it off on Monday morning and have POD2 delivered Monday afternoon.
I was a little stymied at first by this change in plans, but it is what it is.

It means, though, that there was some intense loading today. I outdid myself by lugging almost all of the boxes I'd packed to date, plus two small bookcases and THREE large bookcases, into POD1. They fit perfectly against the walls between the supports, and we can anchor them so there's no shifting. I was a veritable loading machine (what-cha do, do, do, do, do, loading machee-heen!)

I called Gerry and told him to bring home a hand truck (which he did - we're so proud of our new hand truck!) and also told him he'd better NOTICE the work. He did. And the hand truck he bought was blue.
So armed with my hand truck ($48 at Costco - it can be used in 2 ways for long items or tall items) I loaded a buttload more boxes.

And I am bushed.
My real estate agent gave me the name of some movers she uses, I called them and they're coming over tomorrow to load up even MORE stuff into POD1, and do some packing, too. Once we get this baby locked and loaded, they'll roll it out and bring in the next one.

We'll have more time to load that one - I'll be in Chicago for most of that time - and it hits the road on Feb 8.

we will experience The Return Of The Dumpster.

Yes, in a limited return engagement, direct from Mauriello Bros Waste Management and playing to packed houses across New Jersey, the DUMPSTER will be back on Irving Avenue again. Seating is limited.

The hardest part today? Packing my yarn and [gulp] a few cases of finished garments onto the pod. Scary. I told the kids they had to put the stuff they couldn't live without for a few weeks in a box in their closet, so that the movers can load much of the rest of their stuff. Moving in stages.

And - even with the excitement today - I took time to have the MOST AMAZING THAI LUNCH that I've ever had. I wonder what the Thai restaurants are like in St. Paul?

We had intended to rent a trailer from UHaul. It sounds so innocuous, huh? Rent a trailer? Nothing could be easier, right? Well, somehow Gerry and I both made it to late-40-hood without realizing that you can't rent a trailer if you DON'T HAVE A TRAILER HITCH! Getting the hitch seems that it will be about as expensive as renting the trailer.

We're rethinking. We may be sending a whole lot more in the second Pod than originally intended...


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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

POD People

They're coming tomorrow.

We received a cryptic phone call alerting us that between 6am - 9am
the PODS will arrive.

They're coming.

Be afraid, be very afraid...

Fear #1 - The Pods Won't Fit Down Our Driveway
If the dumpster guys could get down the driveway, then the PODS folks should be able to. Should. Operative word here is should. They say they need 12' - we're giving them that plus a trifle more. We'll see...

Fear #2 - The Pods Won't Fit & They Park Them on the Driveway in FRONT of the house (with my car in the back) without waking me up.
Although, fat chance that ANYONE
could get near the house without Atticus going absolutely NUTS with the barking and the fretting. Poodles bark.

Fear #3 - So Where Will We Put The Dumpster?
Yes, we're getting another one. Life is a casting off, Willy.

Freaky Coincidences
For as many years as they've held the Knit Out in NYC I haven't been able to make it. I want to go, I'd like to go, but every year it's held on the day of Hannah's birthday party (can't miss that!) And speaking of parties, we just arranged Max's birthday party - bittersweet, his last one here - at a Roller Rink. Heaven help me.

At any rate, I've not been able to make it to the Knit Out and always felt a little bit like I'd missed a grass routes knitting event. But never fear, we'll be arriving in Minnesota just in time for the Great American Knit Out at the Mall of America.

Our PODS are supposed to arrive on the 19th, so we won't have a heck of a lot to empty and unpack until they get there. So now we have something to do! I'll go do a book signing on Sunday (details to come - probably at 2:00 at Barnes & Noble) and Gerry will take the kids for some shopping and ride fun. Welcome to Minnesota!

PODS Fear #4 - We won't get the permit to park them in front of our St. Paul home
We have folks hot on the trail of the elusive St. Paul PODS permit AT THIS MOMENT - Calm down, Annie. Sheesh.

My packing hasn't been going as quickly as I'd like - work getting in the way, projects to finish, and Gerry's been suffering with a bad back for about 3 weeks now so today he finally went to the back doctor and then had some Xrays. He's tight - that's the official, initial diagnosis. So he's supposed to do physical therapy 2-3 times a week, and he wants to see an acupuncturist. Fine by me!

But having the PODS right in the back yard will provide the impetus I need to get my requisite 10 boxes per day packed and ready to go.

Fear #5 - How will I keep Gerry from being "brave" and trying to pack stuff while I'm away in Chicago? Actually - not a problem...


I wasn't thrilled with the crocheted dress I'm working on now, but when I put it on the mannequin (I'm just about at waist level) it looks nicer than I thought it would. I have to do more waist decreasing, but I'm working it into a wave pattern so it's kind of cool the decreasing making the waves shorter - amost like a demonstration of the speed of sound. I think I'm tired. I'm debating whether a zipper will be necessary for this dress - lots of stuff to think about...


I'm watching David Letterman. He seems perplexed and flummoxed that a person can actually get custom made socks. Where the heck has HE been the past 9 years during the prolonged and well-enjoyed sock mania - obviously NOT in a yarn shop. He needs a Men Who Knit book!

Tomorrow I scour East Orange for wire. Don't ask.


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Monday, January 22, 2007

Letting Go

Today I spent a good part of the afternoon in my basement office pitching old files which I haven't used or even LOOKED at in the past 4 years. Old, old stuff - knowing in my soul that the minute the garbage is carted away, I'll need one of those files. Oy. But it must be done.

Perhaps the easiest 6 word excuse in history; "I lost that when I moved..."

I also packed up boxes and BOXES of magazines, yarn card books, other office-ish stuff. I'm trying to empty shelves so that we can start taking the shelves apart. Inch by inch...

I also went to Crate and Barrel and salivated over this table. Gaghghghghghghg.

Yes, I kno
w, the last thing I should be doing is mentally shopping for new furniture. But it's so pretty, darn it. And it has a copper top. Do you think I could buy a cheap-o table and hammer hundreds of pennies onto the top with finishing nails?

Gerry and I confessed our fantasies to each other this evening while he was making rice and I was putting away yogurt. Sounds kinky, n'est ce pas?

Well, it's not. We both have the same deep seated desire to break the back wall out of our new house (the k
itchen wall, not the beautiful dining room built-in sideboard wall) and add room for a first floor bathroom / pantry / walkway to the garage. Which we want to open up and make into a 2-car garage. And, you know, that would also leave room upstairs for a second bathroom turning our bedroom into a master suite...

We're thinking big.

We have a friend nearby who put a bathroom in his house this year - he did a magnificent job on it, it's stunning, perfectly period (1920's). He said that although it was a TON of work, it definitely was do-able. And I have been looking at some funky copper sinks. Again with the copper...? Who knew there was such a thing as

Add to that the fact that for the first year or so Gerry will be Mr. Mom, home during the days while the kids are at school, AND that he's Mr. Handy Landy, and we may just have a project for him to sink his teeth into. More later...

I LOVE Modern Postcard
I use them for my advertising needs - and I'll use them the next time I need business cards. Last year we did Happy New Year postcards with them, and this year we'll be using them to send out our change of address cards.

It works out to roughly $1.00 a card, with postage. Here's what we worked up for our friends & creditors to let them know where to find us...

Giving Up
I had been trying to work out a pattern for a kimono style swing coat I'm working up in Lorna's Laces, but I just can't seem to get the darned thing to come out as I'd like it to. This is one of those times when I just have to sit with the yarn and work up the darned piece for it to make real sense to me.

I don't know why I'm having this brain freeze on this project - it's a relatively simple shape - but I haven't been able to find a comfort level with my gauge swatch and the pattern I'm writing up to let it go.

I can't give it up.

I think I'll sleep with it tonight. Wouldn't it be nice if that were Gerry's fantasy?


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Saturday, January 20, 2007

The Pitch

"Life is a casting off "
Linda Loman, Death of a Salesman
Who knew that Linda was a knitter?

I've worked on a few productions of DOAS, and none of them have had her pulling a ball and some needles out of her housecoat pocket. Some have her mending, but so far I haven't seen her knitting. I'd love to see that.

I'm not doing as much knitting as I'd like these days - more selling than knitting, I'm afraid... In the week between returning home from TNNA and my Chicago gig, I need to get serious about putting the flip books up on Amazon and sending out a mass mailing to my email list about the availability of the books.

But mostly I'm casting off. Throwing out. Pitching. Deciding what we need, what we don't, and the best way to dispose of what we can no longer use. I've been dividing up the clothing goodies between Goodwill and a local Dress for Success charity (I have a lot of plus-sized business suits, etc., that I'll never wear again - SOMEONE should get some use out of them! And the woman at the DFS group said they NEVER have enough size 16 and above suits!)

The books will be shipping out to shops and folks who buy them online in mid-April. I'm working on a few new books which I hope to have released in June, which will give me a good sense of which to include in a 4 or 6 book gift set later in the year.
$4.99 - makes a great gift!

I also have another book proposal to send to my editor, but I'm in the midsts of finding a mutually respectful way to end my relationship with my agent (it's not you, it's me...)

He's a very good guy, and I like him quite a bit, but it's a bad fit. I need to do most of my work via email, he (like most folks in the world - in the business world at least...) likes to communicate via cell phone. That means, with my erratic and faulty memory, that there have been misunderstandings and misses.

I am MORE than willing to accept that any confusion has been my own, but that's exactly why I need to communicate in a way that makes it easy for me to look up and see exactly what I've been asked - or have promised - to do.

Yesterday while the kids were at school I went through their closets and tossed EVERYTHING that doesn't fit anymore or that I know they hate and won't wear. I packaged up their summer clothes in a big suitcase for each kid, and sorted their winter clothes. FOUR bags of goodwill-destined garments and a few bags of garbage later, I felt that I'd done a good days work.

Today Gerry's teaching TelePrompTer classes and the kids have playdates later, so I'm putting them to work now. Hannah's charged with separating the books she wants to keep from the books we'll give away, and Max is rolling balls of yarn for me to send out to a knitter. I can hear them fighting upstairs, so obviously a lot of work is getting done...

I'm answering emails, filling book orders, arranging travel for my spring gigs and doing general computer housecleaning. Necessary, but not very exciting. After I finish that, I have the VERY exciting job of packing our fine china. As I finish packing books & other stuff, I intend to take apart the bookshelves (I love Ikea!) and tape them together with a baggie of the screws so that we'll be good to go when we arrive in St. Paul.


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Friday, January 19, 2007

Grand Plan

Being a Virgo, and of Dutch ancestry, planning is one of my strengths. I love to spend time arranging, estimating, measuring, creating conditional options - I would have made a terrific Quartermaster.

Last night as I was getting ready for bed I started working up a floorplan of the new house, based on my photographs and the measurements listed by the realtor (which were just about the same as my own unscientific "shoe" measure.)

Seeing a ground plan makes me calm - it helps me feel secure that our furniture WILL fit, that we WILL be able to enjoy and appreciate a slightly smaller house, and that we won't feel cramped.
If I hadn't been the impetus for this move, I wouldn't have the stress level I'm currently feeling.

After we'd signed the papers to go into contract and Joe & Jennie took me over to see the house again, I was incredibly happy - and very nervous. It's not really like me to be nervous like this over a well considered decision. It's true that we made the actual decision on this house rather quickly, but we had come to our list of requirements in a house (which this one fills beautifully) after months of considering what is truly important to our family.

And now with this stress comes a certain paralyzing feeling. I know I should be packing boxes, working on some pieces due for deadline and preparing for my next trip - but all I want to do is sit and stare at the beautiful snow outside. I can't even seem to get myself in gear to have lunch with a good friend.

Mentally, I'm raring to go - physically, I think I need another day or so to decompress after the last week, put it all in perspective, and stop fretting over things that I can't control.


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Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The Return of the Non Native

I discovered while I was in MN that many folks assume I'm a native NJ girl. It can't be the accent (do I have one?), perhaps it's the attitude? It's time to work on wrapping my knee-jerk frankness in a blanket of niceness so I'm not such an easy tell in MN.

I'm home in NJ again - a long wait for a short flight and it's so bittersweet to come back home. I have two more trips away before the move - to Chicago and to Rochester, NY - then we will be a NJ family no longer. I do love New Jersey.

I moved here when I was in grad school at Rutgers in New Brunswick. Before I lived here I had many of the same odd, unflattering and erroneous attitudes about Jersey that the rest of the country seems to have. I hadn't realized how wonderful this state is - how beautiful, historic, full of natural FUN (mountains, beaches, hiking and canoeing, camping, etc.) and full of shopping (of course!) NJ is. It's an amazing place.

It's a wonderful kind of dilemma to love several places so much! I know we all tend to see the good in the places where we live, for pride if for no other reason, but I've been very lucky that just about everywhere I've lived has been a fascinating and entertaining place. And now we're off to Minnesota.

As I was walking around our new house today, strolling through the neighborhood and feeling a tiny bit at home, waiting for Joe to come by with the key so I could take more pictures, I realized how long it's been since I've been to a chamber music concert, and how much I used to love that when I lived in the city. And now I'll start going again.

I visited 3 schools today to see how they might appeal to Max & Hannah.

St Paul has a few magnet schools, and many neighborhood schools, three of which we would be districted for. I may not be understanding this 100% correctly, I'm still feeling my way...

The nearest school to us is the Linwood School. It's an Arts / Academic magnet school which teaches on the theory of Multiple Intelligences (like H&M's current school, Seth Boyden) and they have an opening for Hannah. Max would be third on a waiting list for the third grade, so it seems prudent to investigate other options for him. I hate to separate the kids, but I feel that Hannah will really fit best at Linwood - and once she's there, Max will be sibling-ed in for next year. The school goes to 6th grade, so Hannah will have at least one full year there before Junior High.

I took a tour at Groveland Park Elementary this morning. It seems lovely, but it just may not be the best fit for Maxie. It's funny how you get feelings - not bad or good - just feelings that something may be a good fit for your kids. I think this school has so much going for it, but my gut reaction was that it might be a little structured for Max.

I went on to Randolph Heights Elementary this afternoon to meet the principal, and had the immediate feeling that Max would do very well here. Not only do they use the same math books (a bigger deal than you'd think!) but when I met the teacher who would most likely have him in her class, I felt an immediate connection. I'm going to scan some pages of his night writing and email them to her so she can get an idea about Max, his likes and dislikes, his writing style and his strengths & weaknesses.

The principal mentioned that all of the kids are great, but there's just something about the third grade this year - they're a very loving and friendly bunch - which would be a perfect fit for loving and friendly Max. I think he'll have many friends in a short period of time.

Hannah's school will be just a few blocks from the house, Max will have to take a bus. The timing is very good as Hannah has to be at school at 8:15, and Max's bus will pick him up right by Hannah's school at 8:35. Already we're working out our routine!

I stopped by Wuollet's bakery, just around the corner from our new home, and had an excellent cup of coffee and apple turnover. This may just become a stop on the morning routine, too!

... and now to the work that I've missed in the past week! Knitty Gritty aired one of my episodes over the weekend, so I have a LOT of book orders to fill tomorrow!


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Monday, January 15, 2007

If It's Monday, It Must Be Minneapolis

TNNA is a blur. A hazy,
gin-and-tonic induced flashback of hugging lots of folks, caressing yarn, teaching young'uns to knit and something called a saki bomber. Hi Ken. Hi Drew.

Arriving Thurs night just in time for my class at The Grove (Hi Ann!), I was greeted by 16 enthusiastic
knitters and a delicious Gin & Tonic (Thanks Sue!) The class was a blast, the knitters astoundingly adventurous and karmically divine (it is California, after all!) with a very low stress level and a great feeling of being one with the wire.

Back to my room at the Bristol (the kids in Bristol are sharp as a pistol...) where I crashed while watching CSpan, because I'm a hip wonk. (gin, tonic & roses lime in a brown paper bag from the good folks at the Grove - who needs a mini bar?)


I dragged my sorry jet-lagging butt over to the Convention Center for my cables and lace class at 8:00. There should be a law.

The class was astounding. 30 women, all fit to be cabled, all skilled and fun loving and eager to laugh and learn. We had a magnificent time. Flip Knits were passed out (and collected, I have a limited number) and the comments were excellent and helpful. I will do a flip knit for cabling without a cable needle!

Then Lunch, a set up of my "Have Annie Teach At Your Shop" display, and back for a Mutt Luk class. I really, really wish this class had gone better. It was fine - just fine - but it could have been killer. There was some discrepancy in the needles I'd requested folks bring and what they had, the instructions seemed to have an error (although upon later reflection I realized that the instructions WERE right - I'd worked up 4 of these mutt luks at home to test the pattern)

But I get so insecure when a mistake is caught in a class that I'm quite often very ready to just jump in and say, "Yes, you're right - I'm wrong!" Which can be an even bigger mistake.

Ah, well, every class is a learning experience.
However, the
folks in the class - 30 of them - were lovely, kind, open and willing to go on Mr. Toads Wild Mutt Luk ride with me. If anyone was in the class and would like a cleaned up and double-checked copy of the handout, please email me and I'll send it right to you as a pdf file!

I met Shannon Okey for drinks after classes on Friday, we had a great time exchanging ideas and frustrations of knit publishing, then back to the Bristol (Sharp! Pistol!) for another fine night of CSpan and sleep. Bzzzzzzzz.


I signed my name about 50,000 times - just practicing - then I left the hotel and Drew
and I signed copies of Men Who Knit at the Vogue Knitting booth and accomplished our goal of making every person in line laugh at least once. We also urged folks who were knitting for dogs or other pets to send us photos so we can upload them onto our website (still not updated...)

I hovered at the Artyarns booth - I love them so much, love their yarn and LOVE the new items that Iris had from her new book, Lacy Little Knits - and ran into a lot of new and old friends. Evidently the Artya
rns booth was the place to be.

Actually, the attendance at TNNA seemed light - but more focused. There seemed to be more room to walk around, but I saw more serious shopping by the store owners. The San Diego show never seems to be as crowded as the June show, less folks buy for Summer than for Winter. My gut feeling is that there are less new shops opening up, and those that came to the show came loaded for yarn.

Saturday evening was the party evening, and who am I to say no to several G&T's? (I did give one of mine to Nicky Epstein, so I wasn't as smashed as I might have been...) From the Interweave party to the Potter party, then to dinner with some folks from Sterling and then home for - guess what? - Cspan!

Ah, life doesn't get any better than that!

Wrapping up day - book signing at the Unicorn Booth (
I kept one back for my friend, Jen, but just then Brandon Mabley walked up and said, "Where can I get one of those books!" so I gave it to him. Sorry Jen. I told her I'd send her one) more passing out of Flip Knit books to unsuspecting knitters, more chatting with old friends. Hangovers and yarns, perfect together.

I lost my ipod. I could cry. (Eh - worse things have happened in life, but it was definitely a bummer. If anyone finds it, could you return it? yeah, right... I don't know if anyone remembers, but last year I lost my cell phone at TNNA San Diego?)

Traveling is very hard - always trying to remember the
really intelligent place you've stored your stuff. I half expect to get home and find the little ipod somewhere in my luggage.

I shipped a box of my little "Hire me to teach!" post cards
back to NJ (actually, they're quite BIG!) and then high-tailed it to the airport for my flight to Phoenix / Minneapolis.

  • When I left San Diego at 6:ish on Sunday evening I was in shirtsleeves and running on borrowed energy.
  • When I arrived in Phoenix at 11:00 I was hot from the flight, tired and a little cranky.
  • When I arrived in Minneapolis at 2:30 I was jazzed, buzzing and child-happy with the snow.
  • When I got to our friend's house at 4:00 I crashed with Gerry in bed and slept until his alarm went off at 8:30 - then we were up to look at 6+ houses.
Then we saw the house of our dreams.

We both loved it, we both saw the drawbacks and still loved it. Moving in will be hard (not a lot of room for the PODS, we need to see if we can get a permit to have them in the parking lane in front of the house to unload them) but this would have been a problem in several of the homes we looked at. Small yards, narrow alleyways and not always the easiest access were features in several of our best-liked houses.

We had our agent put in a bid - we were the third to bid on this house and it had only been on the market for 5 days.

Yes, the market is soft, but when a good property comes up folks gravitate toward it! We definitely think of resale when we buy something, and in this case even though it's on a sort of busy street, it's a VERY desireable neighborhood and the several bids made us feel good about resale potential some day.

We went out to dinner at Town Hall and tried not to think of the other two bids. We planned contingencies, talked up other homes we'd seen, and contemplated renting a house for a bit if we couldn't find a good fit. I had some AMAZING beer. Lovely stuff. Our host, Joe, used to be a master brewer (perhaps still is? do you ever 'lose it'?) and we indulged. As I'd had perhaps 8 hours of sleep over the past 48 hours, I was an easy drunk.

Up early, off for more house hunting - looking for backups and revisiting the runner ups. We didn't say much to each other, but it was clear that neither Gerry nor I liked anything as much as we did the Dream House.
It's absolutely lovely, warm, inviting, there's room for an office and the house has an excellent floor plan. The down side is it only has a one-car garage, a very tiny yard, and the initial unpacking/unloading is going to be EVIL hard, but when we're in the home, we'll be HOME. It was, happily, cheaper than we thought we'd find. Yay.

As of this evening we're in contract!! - and we're stunned, gratified and hoping that all goes well with our two closings.

Now the real work starts - the MOVE. Gerry's back has been very sore lately - he was barely able to move last weekend - so we'll be hiring folks to do more moving than we normally would - we deserve it.

Gerry left to go back to NJ this afternoon, I'll fly back tomorrow evening. In between now and then I'll visit the house again with our Agent (THANKS, Joe!) and his lovely wife (Hey Jennie!) and take lots of pictures and measurements. I'll also try to visit the three schools that may be possibilities for our kids, set up a PO box so I can transfer my business mail easily, and see about that PODS permit. Busy day.

According to the weather forecast it's supposed to warm up tomorrow. It may hit 25F. This is living.


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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The Mom Look

This evening one of Max's spelling words was "Stern"

Max - What does Stern mean?

Dad - Severe.

Max - Like Mom?

(I was giving him a very stern look - he giggled...)

When you use a chart, remember to place your post-it
note (you have one, right?) so that it hides the rows that are yet to be worked, leaving the row you're on and all previous rows exposed. This way you can check your knitting against the chart and see if you're in the right place. I think this is probably the #1 easy change that most non-chart readers can do to make working a chart a little more intuitive. The Backyard Leaves chart looks very scary - I know it. At least once a week someone writes to tell me, "I just can't do this."

And I respond - "Have you tried it yet? Just try it - really - just
try it!" Then I give my computer a stern look and
hope that it goes with the email back to the writer. Usually I get a second email a few days later - "Hey, I did the chart! It wasn't impossible!" Sometimes there's a little additional hand holding required, but eventually success is realized.

The first step to doing something we think is difficult is to try to remove the judgements we make against ourselves
(I CAN'T DO CHARTS!) and move ahead as if we knew we couldn't fail.

I found myself giving a stern "mom look" in an email last night - and I was so tired that it totally slipped past me until the recipient of the email wrote to thank me for being firm.
"I'm a 21 year old woman who is reduced to tears when made to look at a map. I've found that a knitting chart has the same effect on me. While looking through Scarf Style, I found the chart for Backyard leaves. It FREAKS ME OUT!!! I just don't understand it. The main reason I'm writing, is to find out if you have the pattern all written out. No charts, just words and numbers. I hope to hear from you soon. Thank you so much for your time."
I was just closing up my laptop for the night and considered answering in the morning, but I ended up sending her this email:
"You're just going to have to suck it up, wipe away the tears, and mistress the chart. You can do it - but not if you start off by saying that you can't. Take some waste yarn, look at the symbol key, get the post it notes out and put them on the chart so that they're blocking the rows ABOVE the row you're working on (so you can see the rows below your current row) and fight through to row 6. Once you get that far, you'll be amazed that it all makes sense. Really. But you have to make the effort to try the chart. Trust me, the chart is the absolute best way to do this scarf. Without the chart, there would be no scarf, so you'll have to fight through it. The only thing stopping you is the part of your brain that won't let you try. Shut that part of the brain up, and you can do anything!"
So from the ve
ry nice email I got back from her it seems she didn't take my stern tone in a bad way (YAY!) and she's going to try it. I'm hopeful it will be a sucess. Or, as I wrote to her later today,
"I got your email just as I was closing up my computer to head to bed, half asleep, and reading back over my response I'm a little shocked that I spoke to you the same way I had just spoken to my daughter (10) who insisted that she just couldn't get long division. Sorry for the mom tone - but, honestly, you really CAN do this. And once you mistress the chart, seriously, you'll be able to do ANYTHING. Not just knititng, but ANYTHING! Parallel park better, swear off coffee for a week, run for office (I personally feel that anyone who runs for office must be able to knit lace...)"

Today was supposed to be pack for San Diego day, but this morning the package I've been waiting a year for arrived. I ripped it open, stunned by the beauty of the contents.

And I'm ready to announce my - perhaps - brilliant idea. I consider it the greatest act of self restraint not to blog about this for such a long, long period.

So - what'cha think?

Now, bear in mind that there were production problems with the covers of some of the proofs that arrived today from China.

So I crafted "ADVANCE COPY" plain paper covers and that's what I'll be taking with me to TNNA.

However, the actual books, which will be ready to ship in April, will be stellar with heavy,
glossy covers and excellent production values.
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Monday, January 08, 2007

Save The Cheerleader...

We love Heroes here at Chez Landy - we watch it every Monday, it's the one show (aside from the Simpsons and Nova) that we all agree on. So the kids were thrilled when I showed them my Hero needles, I am golden in their eyes.

Speaking of eyes, last Spring a friend in Ohio sent me a shot of her barn filled with barn cats - I did a little (very little...) animation just to make it goofy. Goofy cats, with sparkling eyes. Click to see the cats blink.

Speaking of sparkling, here's one of the things we'll miss. It's the view from the hill in West Orange, about a mile from our house (and on the way home from my Yarn Pirates group in Livingston) It's a sensational place to go on New Year's or 4th of July for some spectacular fireworks across the entire NYC area. I can't believe I have 2 days to pack for San Diego - I'm a lump - but tomorrow I WILL get it all together. I will. Promise.
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Saturday, January 06, 2007

First the needles, then the concealer, now my RATS??

No matter how many times I write notes to myself, when I'm flying I forget that I'm not supposed to have liquids in my carry on luggage. In some cases my idiocy is absolutely head-smacking Like the time when, on the way to the Newark Airport, I shoved a FULL container of my FAVORITE hand cream [shore] into my carry on bag.

I thought I was shoving it into my luggage to check. I cried.

At other times I'm a creature of habit - even though I've switched to powder foundation & makeup, three times I've gone through security with a brand new under-eye makeup concealer only to have it confiscated. Once I actually HAD a ziplock bag on me and tried to shove my concealer into it as I approached the scanner, but it was a gallon bag (it's supposed to be a quart) and the TSA woman was not having any of it.

... because the terrorists hate our flawless complexions.

Not a Problem: My knitting needles - sharp, metal, 14" long.
Prohibited by Federal Law: My concealer
The part of me that was happy to shuck off my shoes and re-pack my computer/ipod/cell phone as a necessary inconvenience, has hardened into a suspicious traveler who suspects - in my darkest moments - that the absurd level of security confiscation (hand lotion??) is simply training wheels for a police state. Get us used to it, and we'll not protest the next level of restriction - whatever that might be.

And now - no more rats?
Absolutely inhuman.

Tonight we're having a goodbye dinner with some South Orange friends - good friends - who live around the corner from us. He's a talented graphic artist, she's a gifted poetess, and they're both PURE New Jersey!

The best part? Their older kids will be babysitting Hannah & Maxie.

The better part? Their kids are named Jack and Ruby. Seriously.

We will miss them terribly.

Hannah slipped a poem into an envelope and gave it to me last night as I was dropping off to sleep. Upon waking, I read it, and was very moved:

From New Jersey to Minnesota

Sighing, sighing,
soaring softly.
How great to fly
in the big blue sky.
But I am without
the wings.

And what a precious thing
wings can seem
when you are on the ground
without them.

Hannah Landy, age 10

The growing stack of boxes in the dining room is begining to make the whole move thing real for all of us.

MNer's: any thoughts on Hastings?
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Friday, January 05, 2007

Old Friends & Yarn

Here's a link to a pdf file - a chullo hat pattern that I designed last year for the crochet calendar. I keep forgetting that I have these patterns lying around, and someone just wrote and asked for this, so I figured why not add it to the list on the blog and alert the media!

It's worked up in Artyarns Supermerino, a yarn which I love very much, and I've spent the day on some samples for my TNNA class in various Artyarns. It's the first time I'm teaching the toe up mutt-luck class - always a trifle nerve wracking - but it's a fun class and I think we'll be dandy. I need to settle in and organize exactly what I need on hand for the class, though, because the first time through I'm likely to be a little scattered. Oh, who am I kidding, scattered is my middle name...

The downside of a small success is that I don't have the time to see friends as much as I'd like. And once we're in the great MidWest it will be fiendishly hard to jump in the PT and drive up to Westchester to see Iris and pick up some new yarn to play with! So I'm looking forward to getting together with Iris & Elliot at TNNA, I usually hang around their booth, take some orders if I can, just basically schmooze and call it useful work.

I also spent a good part of the day PACKING. All of the books in the dining room are packed up, most of the living room books and almost ALL of the framed photos and pictures are wrapped in quilts and packed up tight. Right now the kids are upstairs listening to Eldest while they sort through their books - what to keep, what to give away - and packing boxes. A little bit every day will make the whole move a lot easier.

Tomorrow Max attends his friend's birthday party, and Sunday is a field trip for Hannah with her Hebrew school class - I hope the weather stays as nice as it's been. We need to start thinking about Max's birthday party - his last here - and what we'll do for the wacky, funny, loving, charming, knitting little heart throb!
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Wednesday, January 03, 2007

A Tale of Three Cities

Minneapolis/ St Paul
Twin Cities Score High for Emergency Communication
Minnesota Retains Spot as Healthiest State in the Nation
A 61-Year Low for Traffic Deaths
Minnesota No. 1 Again With 20-Game Unbeaten Streak

Subway Hero
Fire Escape Heros

In a convergence of the threads of my life, the Minneapolis Star Tribune mentions crocuses coming up in New Jersey. I just saw a crocus today in our yard. Too weird.

And here is something that I thought was just extremely funny To The Large Spider

As far as knitting goes - today was a butt day. Me, on my butt, making flight arrangements, paying bills, shipping books, making CAR rental and hotel reservations, returning emails from yarn shops - a very busy day and I moved 5 feet all day. Tomorrow will be a WALKING day, that's for sure.

Bittersweet Meet
Last night I met with my local yarn group - the Yarn Pirates (yarrr!)

So long ago - 5 years? - I started teaching some knitting classes out of a storefront in South Orange and one of my students was Athena. Athena introduced me to the concept of blogging, the idea of the Meetup, and is the driving force behind our semi-monthly meetings. Early in our knitting-group-dom, when we had no name, I arranged for a knitting retreat at Ocean Grove. We had a good time - it was a learning experience for all (and the G&T's on the beach in the moonlight were a wonderful study aid...)

At one point we were sitting around being silly when one of our number mentioned that her husband was Irish. So we all had to affect Irish accents.

We sounded insane - not Irish at all - but rather like... PIRATES! Yarrr! And thus we became, The Yarn Pirates. YO ho!

(Yes, those little men are spelling out Yo Ho... in a past life, when I had more time on my hands, I used to design fonts for fun. This is one of my semaphore fonts - I also did a Braille font - that's useful for web design ...)

I will miss my Pirate Crew SO much. Yar. Ceil, Janis, Harriet, Athena, Jen, Claudia (both!) and everyone else that I'm forgetting - what a wonderful bunch of quiet, rowdy, cheerful and thoughtful women. I wonder if we could take advantage of this lovely Spring weather and sneak off to the beach again before I leave...

I've been putting off my goodbyes, and now with a month to go - much of which time I'll be away - I really MUST start saying my farewells. This is the hard part. C'mon, Minnesota - group hug! Make me feel the love and fill the empty Jersey-shaped hole in my heart...
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Monday, January 01, 2007


I can't show the images right now because the sweater in question hasn't yet been published, but suffice to say that when I'd finished my recent sweater for VK I was not thrilled. Or amused. It just looked - dowdy - and not how I'd envisioned it.

So I chopped off the bottom and reworked the hem, ripped out the neck ribbing and reknit it as a rolled neckline, and duplicate stitched an extra motif and some other details. It's obviously the same sweater - just small changes - but it's much better (much more how I'd originally wanted it to look!)

Part of this was the yarn - it was a wool/acrylic blend and I was treating it more like a wool. It lacked the body I'd hoped for, and had begun to droop, so I knew it had to be shortened. It was looking a little JC Penney. Now it's hipper - something I'd like to wear myself (if I hadn't made it in a model size small...) and I'm happy with the transformation.

Maybe it's my costume background, but every now and then I just have to SEE a finished project to figure out how to get there from here. Usually it's when I'm working with a yarn that I didn't choose. It's not that I'm the primo yarn chooser of all times, it's more that each yarn has it's own idiosyncracies which must be dealt with. This particular yarn, although I'd used it in a few other projects to good effect, just didn't want to do what I needed it to do this time around. Live and learn!

Move Update
So we have our timeline - I'll be flying to San Diego, then meeting with Gerry in MN to look at our finalists and make a decision (and hopefully go into contract!) Then back home where the Pods will be delivered and we start the marathon 2 weeks of packing.

At the end of Jan I'm off to Chicago to teach, then I fly back home for more packing. We're planning on keeping about 2 weeks worth of clothes and stuff that we'll need for the actual moving period (my current projects, books to ship, etc.) and we'll be carrying these things with us in a U-haul trailer.

Then I'm off again - this time to Rochester (so that Gerry's stuck with the final packing and sending off of the Pods - nice how I worked that...) I fly back home to NJ one final time - I'm getting misty.

We'll pack up the kids, dog, cats and leave in our 2 cars, traveling convoy style across the US, Westward HO to Minnesota!

We're thinking the trip will take 3-4 days (travel with kids and animals can be slower than free-and-easy parents alone on the road...) and we're hoping that we can arrange it so that the pods will be waiting for us upon our arrival (so we can put our beds together right away) There are so many things to think about - I'm glad I left Jan and Feb relatively open!


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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


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