Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The Best Thing About A Blog

... is that one has a 24-hour community with whom to share pain and joy.

Last night was hard. Gerry was up a lot (Butkis was his cat) with Gigi, both of them mourning.

Last evening Max told us that it was his school's open house (we'd missed the flyer about it) and Gerry thought we should go, so we did. It was a wonderful respite from our family grief - apparently Max is fitting in well, he has his times of frustration but he's working through them, and he likes his teachers a lot (and they seem to like him!)

Now we have to work on getting him a good friend - he thrives with a good buddy.

How odd to feed just one cat this morning.

Thank you so much for your very kind comments and emails. The knitting community is a cat-loving community, and I can't tell you how much I appreciate the love and good vibes you showered on our family.


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Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Wrenching Pain

It's been a very painful few days.

The Good News
On the good side, life is going very well for both kids, they really like their schools and like the other kids. They're making friends and are settling in wonderfully. Once we get Max's bed built he'll be feeling a bit more settled himself.

I had a lovely visit from some MN knitting guild friends (thank you, Kathy, Jennie, Shelley, Martha & Bonnie!) who came by yesterday with food and helping hands to get my yarn straightened up and some boxes emptied (but I felt too overwhelmed with to-do's to take full advantage of their aid - I have some hefty croche
ting to deal with over the next few days...)

And Ninotchka is on TV today, I get to introduce Hannah to one of my favorite movies.

But we've had some great pain.

Gerry found out yesterday that he may have a crushed disk in his back. The doctor took some Xrays and had him get an MRI last evening. We're waiting to hear back from the doctor as to what the next step will be, but Gerry continues to be in terrible physical pain.

My legs are easing up - mostly because I've done a lot of butt-sitting for the past few days, and that's a mercy, but I just feel so overwhelmed with the work I need to get done and my physical inability to do everything I'd like to RIGHT AWAY. Patience is a virtue.

For some odd reason I've received several not-so-great emails lately from folks who are upset that the RRS pattern isn't available online. Most folks do understand my reasons, but every now and then someone gets a little not-very-nice, and I just happened to get a few of those emails today. An annoyance.

Crossed Wires
I've also had a few wires-crossed emails today; small, silly things, miscommunications and misunderstandings, mostly due to our move and me not being as clear as I should be. Once again, annoyances. The sample flip books from China that I've been waiting and waiting for were shipped to our NJ house the day after we moved. What's happened to them is unknown - I've sent our real estate agent to check with the new home owners, but my gut feeling is they may have ended up pitched out. I've written to the printer to request a resend of the sample books to our new address (I'm certain they'll send them out right away - it was their own mistake as they'd been directed to ship all books after Feb 5th to Minnesota)

The Greatest Pain
But our great pain is that our dear, beloved cat Butkis was killed this afternoon

e was hit by a car in front of our house - we all feel terrible. Hannah saw him first, which is so dreadful, but we were both with her, which made it slightly better. Gerry absolutely adored that cat, he was very special.

We made the decision to allow Butkis to be an outside cat when we moved to NJ. He loved being outside. He was insanely loud when he wasn't allowed to go out, and we felt that his happiness was so much greater when he was able to rule his own kingdom (About 5 years ago his littermate - an indoor cat named Milo - died of a heart attack in front of Gerry's sister.)

It wasn't a decision we made lightly, but we felt (and still feel) that all things considered it has been the better road. At least Butkis had a nice long and happy life - a thrill filled existence - he liked that.

I found his mom - a stray - when I lived in Brooklyn and Gerry actually met Butkis first. We were dating when the kittens were born, I was in North Carolina and Gerry called my hotel and left the message at the front desk, "It's a boy! It's a girl! It's a boy! It's a girl! It's a boy!"

As each of the other kittens geared up to jump out of the big cardboard box they called home, Butkis would sit next to them and blindside them, tackling them to keep them in the box. Hence the name Butkis - which should have been Butkus - oh, well...

Butkis was 14 and getting on in years. He had been getting thin lately, but we were marveling at how well he took the move to MN. We always felt that Butkis may have been walking on the wild side, but he was very happy living on the edge - and had debated making him an indoor cat when we moved. His own desire for freedom made that choice easy, but today Hannah's made the decision that Gigi will henceforth be an indoor cat - fine with us!

Gigi's definitely more suited to the indoor life, she's a meatloaf homebody of a cat, not the wild hunter that Butkis was. She will miss Butkis quite a bit.

Earlier today I was going to take a picture of Butkis curled up in the pet box sofa I put in the kitchen, but I put it off. He loved it, and it helped make him feel more at home wherever we happened to be.

Mr. Butkis
March 1993 - Feb 2007


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Monday, February 26, 2007

Good Neighbors

Thank heavens for our neighbors.

We couldn't get our snowplow started this morning - heaven knows I tried (I felt like I was going to black out at one point - lots of pulling, pulling, pulling on that damned cord...) So we walked down our neighbors freshly plowed sidewalk and asked them if we could borrow their plow to clear our small area of sidewalk. YES!

Our kind neighbor made the first cut down our sidewalk through the 2' of snow, and after a brief lesson I finished the job and cleared off the area in front of our garage. Long live the snow blower. We REALLY have to get ours fixed.

I could tell that Gerry felt terrible that he couldn't do more - he was in total agony tomorrow, his doctor visit is tomorrow and not a moment too soon!

Later in the day I finished off the area in front of the garage by hand, then moved our other car in front of the garage so it's off the street. I'm not really 100% certain of the snow route rules, so we figure the best bet is to just get the car off the street if possible until it's all clearer.

Apparently the kids have school tomorrow - should I be surprised that a little snow doesn't stop the school system? - and tomorrow is also the day the knitting guild friends are coming by to help me unpack. I need to get a bit organized, but I think what I'd love for them to help me with would be separating all of my yarn into different storage containers for each yarn company. A tedious job, but a sort of fun one, and one that can be done sitting and in the living room. My knitting books all have to be put away, and the shelves placed into the shelf frame, but that's a small part of the day.

Overall the kitchen, dining room and living room are in pretty good shape. We still need to buy dressers for our room and Max's room, so much of our clothing still sits in boxes. The closet issue will also have to be dealt with - there just aren't enough for us to have our clothes as we did in NJ, so we'll have to do a lot more folding than we did before. I can't help but feel that paring down is a very good thing, but it's hard.

And now back to bed for - hopefully - another 2 hours of sleep. I was up at 3:30 with such aching legs; so much shoveling and carrying has it's repercussions...


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Saturday, February 24, 2007


It was rough getting up at 4:00 for my flight - as a matter of fact I kept waking up every 40 minutes or so because I was afraid I'd oversleep. When I got to the airport the line was INSANE to go through security - I've never seen such a long line.

It's the smaller airports that seem to go through the luggage with a fine toothed comb - the larger airports don't seem as intent on discovering some agent of evil in every nail clipper and tube of neosporin.

I arrived at the airport more than a full hour before the flight - which, in the past year is just about when I usually get to the airport - but by the time I got through security they were announcing my name to check in at the gate and I RAN to make it. For the first time in years I found myself feeling ill on the plane - perhaps it was waking up so early - and I was very happy when we finally landed in Charlotte.

The second part of the flight was pretty uneventful. We had to go outside to board, and we left late, it was a tiny jet and I was in the absolute last row (by the bathroom) but I had an open seat next to me so I was able to nurse my nausea with a bottle of water and some pretzels and felt very good by the time we landed in Minneapolis. YES - I ARRIVED!!

It was kind of cool to fly into the twin cities and know that now it's my HOME. I was able to tell Lake Harriet from Diamond Lake, and even pick out a few neighborhoods and discern the Minnehaha Parkway from my window.

But if I'd kept my scheduled itinerary, I wouldn't have arrived in MN today at ALL!

My flight from Dallas was cancelled, I would be stuck in the DFW airport right now, singing the blues and waiting for a flight into MN.

So I celebrated by putting together Hannah's bed and our bed (LOVE that IKEA furniture!)

Hannah actually has the bed that I bought for myself back in 1991, when the first IKEA in the US opened in NJ. That was back when the mattresses were in that odd European sizing, so now we can't really find a mattress to fit the bed very well - but that's the breaks! I love the fact that I have this great old bed from IKEA which has been taken apart and put back together about 10 times now.

Now we're all settled in front of the TV, watching Back To The Future and I'm trying to make headway on the crochet project which is due in FOUR DAYS (help me...) It's snowing like a maniac outside, Max is eating some sun chips and Gerry just made us some amazing chicken & brussles sprouts. Hannah's playing a computer game, we have a buttload of unpacking to do, but I'm firmly planted on the sofa for the duration of the evening.

Yes, life is good!
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Friday, February 23, 2007

Sledding to St. Paul

Can I pick 'em, or can I pick 'em?

Last week about this time we were heaving a sign of relief that we got through the Pennsylvania Nor'easter in one piece (in two cars) Today as I sat watching the weather channel it dawned on me that the two places where I need to land, Dallas and St. Paul, are also the places where the weather is supposed to be the worst during the HUGE storm tomorrow. And I am supposed to be arriving in these two places right when the brunt of the storm m may be striking.

Flying out tonight wasn't an option, no flights to be had, so the next best thing was to get the earliest darned flight tomorrow (NOT changing planes in Dallas) and get home to St. Paul as soon as I can

I'm hoping I can outrun the worst of the storm on Saturday afternoon.

Will my strategy pay off? Who knows.

I can honestly say I'd rather be stuck in North Carolina, though, than trapped in Dallas. But above all, I'd rather be home.

Gerry sounds like he's dealing well - we're having the last of the stuff unpacked today from the Relo cube and he arranged it in the garage so that we can fit a car in there. The other car can be parked in front of the garage so we'll be off the street. A snowstorm can be fun, but only if you're where you need to be...

If I get home tomorrow I'll make snow ice cream with the kids. Now off to bed so I can get up at 4:00 am and trudge to the airport.


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Walking to Tampa

I spent almost all of yesterday on planes - flying from a mid-sized city to another mid-sized city means changing planes, and mine happened to change in Chicago (where wind conditions made both flights late), which made for a longer day.

Add to that:

a lack of shoes for my class (I asked a VERY kind cab driver to stop at a mall so I could run into Sears and buy a cheap pair of flats),

an exploding bottle of conditioner
which spilled on a bunch of my Romantic Knits items(I had it in my zip up toiletries bag, which seems to have been unzipped at some point during the TSA check and not completely zipped closed - the items are rinsed and just fine now)

and you have a brief view of my day in the air. Is it any wonder that I prefer to drive when it's at all possible?
My moving-in-sore legs hurt so badly I feel as though I walked to Tampa.

The first flight to Chicago was fine, but on the second flight down to Tampa I sat behind a woman with two kids - a very upset toddler and a very active pre-schooler who put his seat all the way back so that he was practically in my lap, then bounced for 20 minutes. The mom, who obviously had a more stressful flight than anyone else on the plane, was great about moving his seat back up when I asked.

It was a loud flight, though - there were a LOT of kids on the flight, and a lot of hugging grandmas waiting just past security in the airport. It made me miss my mom a bit - she's been on my mind so much lately, I have
wanted to call her several times during the move, and I know she would just LOVE our new home!

Last night I got to the convention center in time to freshen up a bit, clean out my conditioner-infused items and prepare for my Combination Knitting class. There were 29 folks signed up (I think we were short a few in the actual class) and it was a really wonderful group. Lots of folks from all over the country who'd ended up down here, a real all-American mix of knitters.

I felt like I was stumbling over my words - mush mouth - and although the class went VERY well, I
wished my energy would have been clearer. I did get to show everyone the cabling without a cable needle at the end of the class, and was gratified to see so many lovely cables all over the place as folks were leaving.

Ironically, I usually forget to talk about my books (my sales pitch) at the end of classes until someone reminds me, but last night I remembered. It was ironic because of course I didn't BRING any books with me because I couldn't find them in the mess that will be my front porch work area. Oh, well - hopefully if they liked the class they'll visit Amazon or my site and check out the book!

So far the verdict is - St. Paul schools are great!

Both kids are VERY happy in their new schools, they really like their teachers and they have begun to make friends. Aside from some scared tears when Hannah got lost walking home from her school on the first day they're both embracing their new St. Paul lives with gusto!
Hannah got out of school earlier than we thought, so we weren't there to meet her and she took a wrong turn and was a bit of a basket case by the time she found her way home.

Hannah walked herself home the next day with n
o problem - we're only 2 blocks from the school - but in a new town everything looks odd!

We celebrated with a trip to IKEA to buy some storage containers for mom's TONS of yarn. Max found a french fry with aspirations to art (we call it kjurge, it just seems so - IKEA-esque. Incidentally, is that a beautiful boy, or WHAT?)

Being away from him and Hannah and Gerry is like a physical pain this weekend.

I'm patterning on a crochet piece that's due at the end of the month. The yarn hasn't arrived yet, so I've been working up a "muslin" with a different yarn (same weight) so that when the yarn arrives I'll be working off of a finished pattern. I toyed with the idea of just using the different yarn, but it's not right for the pattern, so I'll wait for the real stuff. It's a pretty simple garment, I should be able to do it in just a few days.

Another crochet piece is finished, I'm debating a finishing detail, which I may change, but it's coming together beautifully and I just have to finish the pattern. I have submissions that I'd like to turn in on March 1st, so I'd better get on the stick when I get home!

I am glad to be here teaching this weekend, but I was SO SAD to leave the house. I feel like the living room and kitchen are just beginning to come together (we've decided to make the dining room an extension of the living room and forego a formal dining room - we'll eat in the kitchen) and I'd like nothing better than to curl up in my window seat with an audio book and some yarn. Ah, well, soon I'll be home - in St. Paul!

Today I have a presentation at 11:30 (the aforementioned Romantic Hand Knits garments) and then at 6:00 my cabling class. Then back to my very nice hotel room (a suite!) for a full night of rest (I found it hard to sleep on a bed that wasn't resting on the floor last night - go figure...) and a flight home on Saturday morning.

Yes, once again I'll be changing planes (this time in Dallas - uh oh, there's supposed to be storms in the area...) and I'm hopeful that any slowdowns in Minneapolis (10" of snow expected on Sat) will be cleared up by late Saturday so I'll be back with the family by Saturday evening.

Well, at least I'll have my computer with me so I can work on writing some patterns, and I'll probably have some knitting with me, too!

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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Taking 5

The house is cluttered (of course...) but it's an organized clutter. There are boxes everywhere, but the boxes are where they need to be (for the most part - I haven't had to courage to venture down into the basement, that's Gerry & the Kids' domain)

As a special gift to us, St. Paul has arranged to have springlike weather this week so we can unpack and settle in without frostbite. It's a lovely respite from the drive here (when my hands got SO frozen during the Nor'easter in NJ while packing the cartop storage that they stayed red for hours - I was becoming seriously concerned on the drive out.) I don't know if we'll be seeing any crocuses in the next day or so, but this weekend it's supposed to get messy with rain and snow again. C'est la vie! We're parking both cars in the street this week so we can use the garage as a staging area for our Relo Cube (which sits in front of the garage even as I write - waiting for the nice guys who unpacked our PODS to return and unpack it while I'm gone. Yeehaa!)

We went out and had group breakfast yesterday - can't beat Perkins with a stick - then off to register the kids for their schools. All went VERY smoothly, and I was able to stop by each school and reacquaint myself with the principals and teachers and introduce Max & Hannah. Be afraid, be very afraid. We tried out our routine this morning, walking Han to her school at 8:00, then returning to the same corner to drop off Maxie for his bus at 8:45. I'm not sure why their schedules are so different, bit it may just work out nicely that I have an extra half hour in the morning with Max.

I was wondering if it was a good idea to split the kids, but Max was much chattier, more independent than he usually is as we walked to his bus stop. I think he will really DIG being an "only child" at school. Hannah, on the other hand, will miss having Max in school with her.

Yesterday I bought a router so we could use our internets all over the house wifi, and I also bought & paid for a washer to be delivered on Friday (Na na na na naaa naaa, I won't be hee-eer!)

There's just so much to do.
Today we chose a clinic (based on our insurance, input from my bloggers, AND proximity.) Gerry has an appt for Monday for his back, I'll wait until I get back on Sat to make my appt for my legs, etc. My legs are sore - I feel like it's mostly just muscle aches from all of the walking and carrying stuff up and down stairs. Fascinating, I know...

But the biggest accomplishment is that I have about 80% of our books unpacked - and ALL of our china (not that we have so much) so today is a good day
- and I am happy to announce that so far every piece of china that's been unpacked has been chip & crack free. Thank goodness I had all of that extra yarn and fabric to use as packing material.

Speaking of packing material, I'm amassing a nice stack of folded boxes and I'm willing to offer them to anyone who wants to come by and get them. Email me if you're interested - they're good moving boxes (many are U-Haul boxes - I know, they were killer expensive but I was wooed by the free shipping and the promise of return of all unused boxes...) I won't bring them to you, but you can come and get them if you'd like (and save a bunch of money if you're moving soon!)


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Monday, February 19, 2007

Live From St. Paul...

I'm sitting on the floor in what will be the upstairs office / media room / kids hangout area in our new house - and I'm ON THE INTERNETS!!! We have cable (we've never had cable) and I have a crazy, wacky feeling that I will NEVER be turning C-Span off. I feel an addiction coming on...

I took Atticus for a stroll around the neighborhood this morning, got tea and muffins at Wuollets for me and G (the kids have waffles - we bought a swanky toaster last night at Target...) and returned home to listen to Stephanie Miller on my local AA affiliate. No more live streaming of SM for me, baby!

The weather is above
freezing, with promises for even warmer weather this week. Could life be any better? We dropped off over 50 lbs of dirty laundry yesterday at the Sel-Dale Laundry. They and had everything washed, folded, wrapped in bundles of plastic (all Max's underwear together, Hannah's jeans together, etc.) AND they put some of the stuff on hangers for us this morning. All for the bargain (bargain in NYC, that's for sure) price of $1 per pound.

We're on the hunt for a washer - we have a dryer (a nice one) but we need to get a washer. We looked this weekend, and will continue to look later today, but until then we have good ol' Sel-Dale Laundry! Did you know there was such a thing as Laundromatfinder?
As I was driving to pick up our laundry I was filled with such a feeling of well-being. The view of the state capital from Selby doesn't hurt, either - it was quite beautiful this morning.

I feel certain that we will be quite happy here.

Both PODS arrived this morning - we have movers coming in about 15 minutes to unload them (I already did a good bit of pre-unloading, getting stuff stacked in piles of what will go to what room, etc.) and have thus earned myself an afternoon of knitting. Once the guys get here and it seems that Gerry has his white traffic directing gloves on, I may just sneak out for some quality knitting time at the local cafe.

Of course, that time would be made much MORE enjoyable with my new iPod - remember, the one that I bought after TNNA in Jan because I lost my first one there? It's gone missing.

Back in NJ it was in a small white fabric box of Things-Which-Should-Not-Be-Packed along with a set of DVD's for the car and some on-the-road stuff. The day of my packing meltdown - return with me now, when I left and had lunch with a friend and left Gerry to deal with the packing for 2 hours - I discovered on my arrival back home that the small white box and the DVD's had been packed and were SOMEWHERE in the POD. I was concerned, but I figured I'd find the white box when we got here.

I found the white box today - it has my digital camera, all of my camera accessories, all of the iPod accessories (connectors) but NO iPOD! I'm crushed. I felt like a profligate spendthrift buying a SECOND one, but could almost justify it by knowing how much more productive I am when I am able to listen to an audio book or podcast. I cannot justify a third one.

We've called the movers to see if anyone there has any knowledge of where it may be, and if they have insurance. Then we'll check with our homeowners insurance from our house in NJ to see if this would have been covered. Then I'll have to make a hard decision on whether I want to shell out another $170 for another ipod (a refurbish - never new!) Jeeze, I wish I would have it for my trip to Tampa this weekend - it makes all of the airline travel so much more pleasant.

As we were unpacking some of the stuff from the POD one of our neighbors came over and introduced herself - she seems wonderful and she has a step daughter who's here about half the time and is a little older than Hannah (AND a redhead, too!) I'm crossing my fingers for a friendship to develop.

She told us that the folks we bought the home from actually live just a few blocks away. They bought their current home while living in this home, and then rented this one for a while before they put it on the market. That makes perfect sense - it's a lovely home but there are details in the kitchen that seem 'renterly' It also reinforced how much the folks here love this neighborhood, which is always great to hear!

As far as first meetings with neighbors go, it was very good


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Sunday, February 18, 2007

St. Paul Sunday

I used to listen to this radio show every week and think that St. Paul must be a very good sort of place. Now I'm here, it's my first Sunday as an official St. Paul resident, and I do feel a break in the stress of the past few days.

Emotionally I'm a bit of a wreck. I think I should just go off into a room and cry for a few hours, then come out and wash my face and move on.

I chalk this up to several factors, tops among them:
  • I haven't been able to knit much lately
  • I'm tired
  • My knees hurt
  • Gerry's back hurts (like hell)
  • I have two deadlines looming and I'm scared.
Lesser on the list, but still worrisome are
  • Will the kids like their school?
  • Will Gerry find a doctor he likes and heal his back?
  • Will I be make the mortgage each month (now that it's all on my back?)
  • Will I need a doctor to heal my back?
Basically, the universal worries that everyone has.

We arrived in St. Paul around 6:00 on Friday, unloaded and filled up the air mattresses. I had a minor (?) meltdown - stress from the road and too much time with a pre-teen who tends to think that everything "sucks" - and while Gerry and the kids had pizza I crashed.

Our first full day in St. Paul - we headed over to the Mall of America because I was under the impression that I was supposed to be there for a signing or author thing. I guess wires were crossed, because I was cancelled (they weren't sure I'd make it in) and my signing for 4 pm on Sat
was canceled, too. On the very bright side we ran into Shelley Hermanson of the Knitters Guild and we had a nice chat and hug and she got to meet my kids (and hear Hannah's two jokes several times - thanks Shelley for being so patient!)

Kind of a waste of a trip (and, of course, I'd promised the kids a few rides as a reward for being pretty amazingly wonderful for 3 days on the road...) so we had to do the ride thing. I used that time to sneak into Barnes & Noble and get online and wade through my 68 emails (not counting the spam - SO many emails...)

Then off to IKEA for some window shopping (we'll wait until stuff arrives to begin adding to the array of items that will not fit into our new house.

I am SO worried.

Once again - proving what a small town these two big cities really are - we ran into Joe, our friend and real estate agent at IKEA and had a nice sit down and chat. We love Joe (& Jennie!) and it just seemed perfect to run into him our first day here. Poor Joe will think we're stalking him...

After IKEA we went to Play it Again, bought roller blades for the kids, then to Target for some necessities. We were SO fried at that point that we had NO focus and although we didn't buy things we don't need, we missed some things that we GREATLY need (like a teapot...)

We did, however, get a garbage can. The way that I can tell that Gerry is fried is that he was SERIOUSLY considering a $99 kitchen garbage can. Hey - it's only money, right?

Then the highlight of the day - a low-key highlight, but I don't think we had the energy for anything else - we went to the Linwood Boosters skating party. There was ice skating (we didn't get blades for the kids, just the used roller blades) so the kids skated inside with the other roller kids.

We were hopeful that there would be some kind of kid connection, but it wasn't
happening. As I said, we were all pretty fried, and have been our own little self contained unit for almost a week now - it's hard to break out of that. At one point Max wanted to race some kids, but they weren't into having him join them.

Hannah and Max joined into a 'steal the hat' game with some brothers and Gerry and I both thought H&M might have been a little on the rough side. Fortunately the brothers didn't think. Hard to get used to society again after being cooped up in the big house.

The best part of the evening was the sleigh ride around Linwood park. The view up from the top of the hill was so lovely, and made me feel less lonesome for the beautiful view at the top of the hill by our old home in NJ.

Home to crawl into bed together and watch The Producers (I fell asleep, the kids enjoyed it - Gerry's back hurt...)

SO today I was the first up, fed the cats, let the dog out, cleaned up the place in the basement where we hadn't let the dog out yesterday, then headed out to find some wifi (our own phone/cable/wifi won't be installed until Monday - then we will once again be on the grid)

And off for a walk - Grand Avenue is very cool - to the nearest Caribou Coffee for some free wifi, a chance meeting with a machine knitter who belongs to the Textile Society,
and some time on my own when no one needs anything from me - mentally, physically or emotionally - for a few minutes.

I'm supposed to be at the Mall of America for a book signing at 1:00 and I seriously don't think I'll be removing my hat for the entire time. I also don't intend to dress up. I am a slouch. I dressed up yesterday - that was enough for me... I leave on Thursday for Tampa, for teaching, and I must say that it will be a relief to leave some of the stress of moving in behind me.

Last week Gerry and I read an email that made us cry - the MN Knitters Guild (hi Shelley!) will be putting together a roster of knitters to come by and help us unpack next week. It's hard to stress how welcome this assistance is - coming just when we need it (when the stuff has been in the house long enough for a first sort through, but not long enough for us to get to the unpacking...

It's kindnesses like this that keep me going, mentally. Thank you so much, SH!


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Saturday, February 17, 2007

Five Pictures

...Are worth 5,000 words.

(yes, 2/14 was a Wed, this just shows how unraveled I was as I was putting these pics together. Oy.)


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Thursday, February 15, 2007

Gerry & Annie's Excellent Adventure



Up at 2:30, I was worried about not being able to move the dumpster and Relo-cube because of the sleeting snow and upcoming NOR'EASTER. I sent an email to our attorney and real estate agents outlining a few scenarios which would allow us to deal with mother nature in a graceful way.

I started packing up both cars around 7:00 am, put our Plan B into action (Plan B: Hiring a garage clean out company to clean out the garage after the dumpster is able to be moved, after the WINTER STORM is over) and let the asbestos removal guys in at 8:30. By 10:30 we were just about good to go - and let me tell you there ain't NOTHIN' as much fun as packing two cars and rooftop storage units in a NOR'EASTER. My hands are still red and burning two days later.

Of course, the folks buying our house made sure we knew that they expected to have their noon walk-through AS SCHEDULED, at NOON. Apparently they were terribly annoyed at the snowy footprints in the house. It's refreshing to see that they won't let a little thing like a WINTER STORM get in their way of moving. Of course, we'd moved the closing back a day to accommodate them so they could be in the house to celebrate Shabbat by sundown on Friday, but the possibility of giving us a few extra hours in the middle of a WINTER STORM to pack the cars wasn't even open for discussion. What am I missing?

We stopped by the pediatrician on the way out to arrange innoculation records, stopped by the bank to arrange the wire transfer of funds for the closing of our St. Paul house, stopped by our attorney's office to tell him NOT to put $1,000 into escrow for our buyers (which they wanted because they were upset that the dumpster couldn't be removed in the middle of a NOR'EASTER - oh, f'chrissake, just WAIT A DAY. Oy) and then we left.

Gerry and I have agreed that for my blood pressure and sanity, our exchange of work for this move will be as follows: I do all the heavy lifting, and HE does all the dealing with our attorney and real estate person, mortgage folks, etc.

In retrospect we probably should have just checked into a motel in NJ, but we were packed and thought that if we could get to PA, we could outrun the storm. Famous last words.

The roads were pretty iffy-but-good from NJ to PA then they suddenly got TERRIBLE 50 miles into the state. We sat in bumper to bumper (just us and trucks) for almost an hour, waiting to get off at an exit for a hotel (just before Rt 80 & 81 meet - the same point where many folks spent 17 hours in their cars...)
We both almost had accidents; at one point Gerry spun 180, then later I spun 240. Luckily traffic was going about 5mph, so it was more of a ballet with cars than potential accident.

When we finally made it off the highway (the exit ramps were worse than the roads) we limped to a Holiday Inn Express and we were told that we just missed the last room. We almost cried. Actually, I did cry.

Then the REALLY nice guy at the desk told us they were cleaning another room and we could have it. We REALLY got the last one. Later Gerry and I wondered if he said that to everyone...

No food - the hotel didn't have a restaurant and the town officially closed at 6:00 so no Wendy's or Micky D's or even 7-11. We scammed all of the instant oatmeal and old bananas from the breakfast room we could carry, and brought the pets in with tacit approval from the nice guy at the front desk (he said he'd already let one dog in, so as long as we promised they'd stay in their crates, we'd be okay...)

Luckily we were in the last room next to the exit at the end of the hall, so all we had to do was walk through a 2 foot snowdrift 4 or 5 times to get the dog, cats, luggage, litter box, etc. moved into the room (oh, I'm sorry, it took me 4 or 5 trips...)

But we felt like the luckiest folks in the world.


We left our safe haven at 10:00 and drove V E R Y S L O W L Y until about 12:00, when the road magically became clear and we were able to go the speed limit of 65 mph. A few stops for grub and we pretty much determined that we'd drive until one of us called the other on our cell phones and said, "UNCLE!"

It's 11:00 and we've just checked into Motel 8 - woohoo! They take pets and they have jacuzzi rooms. Of course, they said we couldn't have a pet in the jacuzzi, which we said we didn't, but then they explained that there are PET rooms and JACUZZI rooms - so we're in a PET room. Gerry says that Atticus OWES him big. BIG.

We're in Indiana somewhere. We almost stayed in Toledo, but I protested and de-registered us from the fleabag that had no internet (Gerry hadn't arrived yet, it was just me and the kids so we did a quick in, "yuck!" and out) and went back on the road. The Motel 8 is light years ahead of the fleabag. Speaking as a native of Toledo, sometimes this part of the world is a little odd.

I also got pulled over by a cop on the access road to the fleabag. An isolated, empty, country road which dead ended into a "no outlet" road. I stopped at the stop sign, turned left at the dead end, and immediately a cop was on my butt with lights flashing. Apparently he felt I hadn't stopped. Yes, I had. Oh please god help me.

But he let me go with a warning to "be more careful, ma'am"

I will be more careful. I'll avoid fleabags in Toledo from now on.

Tomorrow we should arrive in St. Paul. Woo. And if all goes well I'll be signing books at the Mall of America at 4:00 on Saturday and 2:00 on Sunday, and perhaps some time on Friday. Who knows?

I got a call from the Sterling publicist as I was in bumper to bumper traffic asking if I could be in MN "tomorrow" because Vickie Howell was trapped in a snow drift in Vermont. I guess it makes sense that the knitters would be where the snow is...


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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

We Interrupt this Blog...

Hi. I'm Laurie and I have a little website where I talk about cats and poop and traffic and divorce and sometimes, occassionally, knitting. I am hijacking Annie's blog because she's halfway to Minnesnowta right now, and she's busy with things such as "keeping sane."

Here is a picture of me and Annie on the one-year anniversary of my divorce:


She had no idea when we met up that night at a Chinese restaurant in Los Angeles that we were marking a rather infamous occassion. It was right before Christmas, and cold outside, and things had been threatening to go cold inside me, too. You can be over a thing, for all intents and purposes, and still the anniversary of it stings a little.

We sat at that restaurant with Drew, the Crochet Dude, and we talked and laughed and ate amazing good food and then later, when we practically closed down the joint, we moved on to a local coffee shop and chatted some more. It was Annie's idea to go get coffee, and I was so glad she suggested it! I hadn't had so much fun in weeks and weeks, just gabbing with old friends and relaxing, the three of us sharing ideas and even getting to see a peek at Annie's flip-books, still in concept stage at that point.

There are a lot of things you don't know about Annie Modesitt, like how funny she is, and kind, and how she fills up a whole room with her exuberance and energy. She likes going barefoot, and has two of the most beautiful kids on the planet, and I tell you all these details because on this day, Valentine's Day, I wanted to share with you the one gift Annie gave me that cold night in December. She gave me warmth. I saw the way she talked about her husband, her kids, and the joy on her face just gave me hope and made me think that perhaps somewhere out there, even in a crazy mixed-nuts place like Los Angeles, maybe there is a fit for me, too. And when I speak about him, whenever and whoever it might be, I hope my face lights up the same way hers does about Gerry.

That is a lovely, beloved gift.
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posted by Annie at 2 Comments Links to this post

We Interrupt this Blog...

Hi. I'm Laurie and I have a little website where I talk about cats and poop and traffic and divorce and sometimes, occassionally, knitting. I am hijacking Annie's blog because she's halfway to Minnesnowta right now, and she's busy with things such as "keeping sane."

Here is a picture of me and Annie on the one-year anniversary of my divorce:


She had no idea when we met up that night at a Chinese restaurant in Los Angeles that we were marking a rather infamous occassion. It was right before Christmas, and cold outside, and things had been threatening to go cold inside me, too. You can be over a thing, for all intents and purposes, and still the anniversary of it stings a little.

We sat at that restaurant with Drew, the Crochet Dude, and we talked and laughed and ate amazing good food and then later, when we practically closed down the joint, we moved on to a local coffee shop and chatted some more. It was Annie's idea to go get coffee, and I was so glad she suggested it! I hadn't had so much fun in weeks and weeks, just gabbing with old friends and relaxing, the three of us sharing ideas and even getting to see a peek at Annie's flip-books, still in concept stage at that point.

There are a lot of things you don't know about Annie Modesitt, like how funny she is, and kind, and how she fills up a whole room with her exuberance and energy. She likes going barefoot, and has two of the most beautiful kids on the planet, and I tell you all these details because on this day, Valentine's Day, I wanted to share with you the one gift Annie gave me that cold night in December. She gave me warmth. I saw the way she talked about her husband, her kids, and the joy on her face just gave me hope and made me think that perhaps somewhere out there, even in a crazy mixed-nuts place like Los Angeles, maybe there is a fit for me, too. And when I speak about him, whenever and whoever it might be, I hope my face lights up the same way hers does about Gerry.

That is a lovely, beloved gift.
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Monday, February 12, 2007

If it's Tuesday...

My flight tomorrow is at 6:30, I have a 4:45 wake up call, but I can't bring myself to sleep until I do a few things:

I MUST write about the wonderful students in my classes over the past two days! Plaid-blindness aside (it's not you, it's ME) they were SO wonderful, excited, and extremely hard working. It floors me how different each class is - how each region, each shop in a region - has such a unique personality. One is not necessarily better than another, it's a chemistry thing (which is why some folks gravitate to one shop over another)

The chemistry this weekend here in Rochester was just phenomenal for me! Party On, Dude!

Thanks so much to Lucinda from Wild Wools and to ALL of her students who were so dilligent, funny, amused and amusing - THANK YOU! The fact that you were able to take my move off of my mind for a few days was an especial gift to me - thank you!

I must also THANK the Rochester Knitting Guild for having me as a speaker tonight. I showed up with Gerry's good friend Mike (one of his old Rochester TV buddies) who was kind enough to take me to dinner and then sit through my presentation.

Many of the items that came out during the Show & Tell were absolutely exquisite (the Blue Shawl was stunning - I got to see it later up close, just wonderful!) Sharah was so kind to help us get the Mac talking to the slide projector, so I got to have my Romantic Hand Knits and Men Who Knit slide shows going behind me while I was talking.

The room was full - I seldom speak to such a large group - and they were SO attentive! We all laughed together - I got a little misty - I showed the same 15 sweaters 20 times before I realized that the slide show was looping (sorry!)

It was one of my better lectures, it was so enjoyable, and I was thrilled to show off my knitting and sign a bunch of books after the talk was over. Then home to the hotel, a too-brief visit with Mike, and now to bed so I can catch that early flight.

The third thing I have to do is apologize to Goldfinch Books in Maplewood & Westfield. They had VERY kindly agreed to have me do a book signing for them this weekend, but guess what? I'll be in ST. PAUL! I feel like such a fool to not have caught this earlier - it's entirely my fault!

The kicker is that my publicist from Sterling called today to say that I'm scheduled for a book signing at the Mall of America in Minneapolis (Bloomington) on Saturday at 4:00 pm, and another on Sunday at 1:00 pm. Geeze, I hope we make it to St. Paul by Friday, as planned...

Oy. And I hope Goldfinch Books can forgive me... I hate leaving on such a scattered note.

Tomorrow Gerry and the kids will meet me at the airport at 8:00 am, then we drop the kids at their school and head home to get the movers started. We have to get some mortgage stuff notarized, a timely visit to the bank to arrange the transfer of funds for our house purchase in MN, a stop by the pediatrician to pick up the kids' innoculation records and then a final goodbye to the relo cube and a festival of throwing out stuff into the dumpster.

I can't believe that this time tomorrow I'll be spending my last night in the home I've grown to love so much.


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Sunday, February 11, 2007

Vacation from Bedlam

I love the Inn on Broadway.

I'm feeling very guilty this morning. I slept last night in a soft, lovely, white, fluffy bed that was actually more than 4" off the floor (no air mattress here!) I was lulled to sleep by a fire (gas) in the fireplace and a cup of tea, leftover from my delicious room service (calimari & asparagus, plus a brownie) Perhaps guilty isn't the word - I don't really believe in feeling guilty for an extended period. Guilt should be like a fire alarm, compelling us to address a situation and move on.

Perhaps the way I'll address this is to get our fireplace in St. Paul up to working order? Right now it's just for show (which isn't a problem because with my breathing and Gerry's allergies a roaring fire is the last thing we need) but perhaps a nice gas fire would be a good thing? My Aunt Wanda used to have one, and I remember enjoying it immensely.

So I guess I don't feel entirely guilty that I have a carpet under my feet (ours left in the POD last week) and I'm looking forward to a nice breakfast at Starbucks before I teach two classes today. There's a VERY civilized 2 hour break before classes - something that doesn't happen much - and after my last class I'll be going to dinner with Lucinda.

Saint Lucinda, as she's known to me this morning, is the one who booked me into The Inn On Broadway (where I stayed last time I was in Rochester.) It's a lovely boutique hotel - much like The Ambassador where I stayed in Tulsa - and it's a level of luxury I don't feel on a regular basis. Just having a few hours away from the packing and loading is quite a luxury.

Before I left I made up all of the boxes left in the house and went over the different areas of the house with Gerry where there are piles of garbage and piles of stuff to be packed. The master plan is for Gerry to NOT lift or carry anything, to just pack stuff up, leave it to be taped and carried away (along with the garbage) by the 4 Strong Guys From Irvinton who will be coming on Tuesday.

I changed my Tuesday flight from 1:00 to 6:30, so I'll arrive home before the guys show up and will be able to give Gerry a bit of a break.

I'm also trying to arrange that all of the hotels we stay in along the way - along with being pet friendly - will also have a pool and hot tub. Usually Gerry wouldn't care about this, but when I mentioned it to him he said, "That sounds really appealing after a day of driving!"

Our route will take us through Pittsburgh and Columbus (instead of the more northerly Cleveland / Toledo route, which could be fraught with lake effect snow) and, as a gift, it looks as though the weather in St. Paul on the day that we arrive through the unloading of the PODS will be a temperate almost freezing. We may luck out!

Off to Kinkos to print out my handouts. I meant to print them at home, but with the packing and with life being upside down it just became an impossibility. So once again I depend on the slightly more-expensive-than-I'd-like Kinkos experience. Luckily it's right on the way to the Starbucks. My class will be upstairs, I wonder if we'll have a lovely carmel macchiato latte aroma rising from the cafe below.


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Friday, February 09, 2007


Dear, dear blog readers,

I have been overwhelmed with the amount and quality of lovely emails I've received just today about life in the twin cities!

If I don't respond to you personally right away, please know that it's because I'm busy - not because I don't appreciate it.

I leave tomorrow for Rochester, classes every day until I return home on Tuesday, then off with the family to MN on Wed. Not a lot of time to answer emails or blog much.

But please know that I DO appreciate the care and time you've taken, and WILL respond eventually (hopefully in a few weeks, if not sooner!)



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Annie's List

My own little list of things we need to find in St. Paul / Minneapolis

All of your suggestions are welcome - Private emails are also fine.

I'd love to get your thoughts on some of the best places in the Twin Cities to...

- Find a Family Doctor
- Find a Dentist
- Find an Accupuncturist
(Gerry wants to try this - I say, why not!?)
- Find a Garbage company
(Lex & Grand area in St. Paul)
- Find a General Contractor
(bathroom addition)
- Get rid of moving debris
(local dump?)
- Find a good all-around Museum to join
(with best ongoing programs for kids)
- Find a good local bank
(with good customer service & no ridiculous fees)
- Find a good hair salon
(for Mom)
(for kids)
(for Gerry - Barber shop!)
- Find a good mechanic

Thanks! Don't you love how I use my list for my own devious personal gratification?
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posted by Annie at 14 Comments Links to this post

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Roots & Leaves

We've lived here about 9-1/2 years. Max was born here, Hannah was 11 months old when we moved in. There were some trees next door when we moved in, but they were cut down soon after (it was a windy spring and many trees had been falling over, our neighbor was afraid of the same thing happening, so she nipped the problem in the trunk. I couldn't really blame her.)

Not long after that I ordered two trees online, and two little sticks arrived in the mail, twigs, barely as thick as my thumb. Our Elm and our Mimosa trees. We planted the Elm in the backyard, we planted the Mimosa in the front, and they have flourished.

Folks are astonished that the Mimosa is only about 5 years old - it's tall, but spare, and in the summer has nice leaf coverage. No blossoms yet - we've been waiting - there were about 8 last year and I was hoping that this would be the blossom year. Mimosa's are considered a 'noxious weed' in Minnesota, I guess we'll have no Mimosa's there...

The elm is a slower grower - but it's doing well. It's maybe 15' tall now, full shaped and already with the lovely elm tree silhouette. It's a special disease resistant breed - the only thing Dutch here is me.

I feel like we've put down some very deep roots in nine years, and it's heartbreaking to be leaving. A good move, necessary, positive in almost every way - but still heartbreaking. When the inspector came into our home a few days ago (we won't get our Certificate Of Occupancy until she returns and sees our bright, spanking new CO2 detector - the old one was a plug in and not to code) she casually remarked, "Beautiful home!" and I almost burst into tears.

Wednesday I had a minor meltdown. I'm tired - I've been traveling a lot, teaching a lot, and that cold that I thought I was getting - then thought I had ducked - is apparently really here. The unwelcome guest. My nose and eyes are competing in a marathon - both won't stop running.

After packing and packing - and then packing some more - I still wasn't finished. Gerry's back is causing him tremendous agony, and even so he's trying to help and pack and move, and he suffers for it. Thank heavens his physical therapy was yesterday. We hit a point with the movers Wednesday when their speed exceeded our preparedness, and I reacted by over-reacting. Then I went and had lunch with a friend.

It's become apparent that we really DO need to rent SOMETHING to get the extra stuff to MN, and we're thinking that we've found the solution (no truck, no towing, a mini-pod which we can park in front of the garage!) So we're happy.

The kids read themselves to sleep upstairs on the new air mattress ($20 at Target) Gerry and I will sleep on ours tonight (with no sheets - oops, forgot to leave them out of the packing when they took the beds away ...) Tomorrow the inspector returns.

The only thing that makes this move easier is that so many of my friends have spoken longingly of going with us to MN because it's such a happening place for the type of friends we have - and it's easier to express admiration for the North Star State when the wind chill here in NJ is below zero, too.

Gerry and the kids will struggle through this weekend on air mattresses with paper plates and plastic cups. I'll be in a nice, soft bed in Rochester, NY.

Hannah wrinkled her nose at me when I told her that - life never promised to be fair!

One odd thing. With the furniture gone, the rooms look strangely smaller. It's so weird, I would have thought they'd look larger, but they seriously look SMALLER! This gives me hope that in my mind I'm exaggerating how much smaller the rooms in our StP house are... A girl can dream, can't she?

Today more boxes arrive, we'll do the final packing over the weekend - or rather, I'll do some final packing today, tomorrow I'll get set up for Max's party (which is a skating party after school) the more packing on Saturday and I'll leave for Rochester in the afternoon. While I'm gone, Gerry will finish packing. Or not - his back has been SO painful, he missed work a few days this week to rest - the timing of this sucks, but there's not a lot that can be done besides rest a bad back!


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Sunday, February 04, 2007

Da Bears - or, The Colts!

Note: I started writing this at the start of the Superbowl. I put it away for a few days, and I'm finishing up on Tuesday night, after packing up the house all day

I'm at Harry Caray's at the Midway Airport, I just had a turkey burger and a beer and I'm surrounded by happy Bears fans watching the Super Bowl. So far da Bears are doing great - some guy just got knocked down but he's up and walking around and - according to the commentator - seems to be okay. I think his name was Benson.

Apparently it's raining down in Florida where the game's being played. It's very cold here - stupid cold. So cold that being outside for just a few minutes with no gloves could jeopardize my future knitting career. Did I mention that I came to Chicago with no coat? I bought one at the Timberland outlet out by Geneva, but it was a cold first night here...

CONGRATS to Indy - and especially to Karen, Char, Linda, Mollie & all the other little peppers in the Hoosier state. Someone asked me what my favorite movie was last week, and I could think of nothing. I realized this weekend that two of my favorite movies take place in Indiana and are both sports movies - and I'm not much of a sports person. I just love Breaking Away (it really hits home with me!) and of course I love Hoosiers.

This weekend I taught classes for the Windy City Knitting Guild, and what a wild bunch of women they turned out to be! Overall they were a very skilled, enthusiastic - VERY enthusiastic - and just so friendly and lovely. Everyone seemed so happy for me to be moving to Minnesota, and made me promise to come and visit Chicago. I will - it's a great place!

Fast forward a few days - home late on Sunday, up and packing a bit on Monday (not as much as I should have) then waking in a fever dream on Tuesday at 4:30 to start packing like a maniac all day. Pack, pack, pack. My body is sore, but my legs, especially, are hurting. Hmmmmm.

I was trying to pick up something my last day in Chicago - I was getting a little feverish, the room where I taught was a trifle chilly (everything was chilly this past weekend in Chicago!) but I think I've pushed it off for a few more days.

We're in a dilemma about the whole car thing. We're going to get the pod packed tomorrow (4 strong men are coming) and then see how much remains. Each of us is keeping a suitcase of clothes and we'll be living as if we're on vacation for a week. The beds will be gone, the Han & Max will be 'sleeping bag children' (it's like camping, kids...) and Gerry and I will share the airbed.

Our dilemma is - will we be able to fit all that we need to take with us in our two cars along with kids and animals? We have a few solutions we can consider: Renting a truck and towing one car behind it (very expensive), buying a new rooftop carrier for our other car (a roof rack is involved, but this may not be a bad investment...), Packing up and shipping the stuff via USPS (cheaper than the truck rental - but just a silly idea...) Anyone have any FABulous roof rack stuff-holders they really, really love and recommend?

Of course, then I run off to Rochester on Saturday for a few days, spending some time with the wild women at Wild Wools and also visiting the Rochester Knitting Guild (my first time there!) I'll have a REAL bed with REAL room service. Life is funny. I am SO looking forward to Rochester - and I hope it stops snowing by the time I get up there...

Now I'm off to bed, wondering when the fever dreams will wake me up tomorrow morning. They're taking our dryer tomorrow, so we're doing a bunch of laundry tonight. I'm DEFINITELY leaving a bit of the packing for the moving guys, but I feel that at least I've weeded out the trash stuff so they can just have at it. I hope we have enough boxes... Gah, I am SO DARNED TIRED!
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Saturday, February 03, 2007

WCKG - Hang On Tight!

Have I mentioned that it's cold. It's cold. Training for Minnesota, I guess.

I'm going to Provence!!!

I've never been - I've been to Paris and Geneva, Italy and parts of Germany, but never Provence. I'm SO excited, I hardly know what to do!! French Girl Knits has invited me to teach on one of their tours, and the interest has been so great we're probably going to add a second week-long Adventure in Southern French Restful Beauty & Knitting and I've been told that those spaces are filling pretty quickly.

It's $2,500 - but that is not terribly expensive for a full week with all but 3 meals covered and transportation to and from the airport, and all of the side trips included. Airfare is not included. But there are some DEALS out there for airfare.

Please check out Kristeen's website, Chez French Girl, for more details - or email her at

It's Raining Men!

I was at Arcadia Knitting on Thursday night for a talk and a signing. The room was FULL of men - men, men, men! And one wife. Who was a tremendous knitter (so we let her stay) Aside from the shop owner, the wife and myself, it was all men. My shirt had a spot on it, and I didn't feel as embarrassed as I might in front of an all-woman group, so I guess I'm a laundry sexist.

They were SUCH a wonderful group! We chatted, we had a few beers (!), I told them my more off-color stories and showed them a few techniques (knitting), they told me about their knitting experience and we had a great talk about the dearth of wearable men's sweater patterns and fit problems that some men run into. I am short sighted about that, it seems, I don't really think of men as having a lot of fit problems. Women's bodies are so complex, but that doesn't mean that men's bodies are always EASY to make look great. It was an enlightening discussion, and gave me fodder for more essays and maybe another book.

Speaking of Men's Books, I haven't mentioned how much I enjoyed Knitting With Balls. The title gives some folks pause, but it's all in good fun (and clever) and after a few drinks it's downright brilliant! (The "after a few drinks" meter is good to refer to sometimes, it allows us to use our sense of humor as well as our senses of propriety, adventure and style to enjoy EVERY aspect of life!)

I met Michael Del Vecchio in LA when Drew and I were taping an episode of Knitty Gritty, and he's such a sweetheart! (speaking of Drew, he just told me that he's got a book deal with Lark - you GO boy!) Michael and I had emailed two years ago about men's knitting stuff, and he was so helpful and wonderful via email. It was nice to hook up with him in person!

Ground Hog Day

Yesterday was Ground Hog Day, and as I was driving up to Evanston from Chez Boyz I happened to see this license plate in front of me. Do you think they wait every year for this special day? And what about Grnd Hg #1? Well, I felt special.

The Guild
Their name is the Windy City Guild, and I experienced the full windy treatment last evening when I was walking from my car to the Evanston Eco Center (it's by a creek - lots of wind blowing down across the park!)

I warmed up quickly, and began methodically setting up. How odd, I thought, that everyone is so interested in me setting up... But I just went about my business. Laying out sweaters, unpacking wire jewelry, setting up my computer.

When I asked my contact there if it were 7:00 yet, and indicated that I was ready to start, I discovered that I was supposed to begin at 6:30! Oy. My own mistake, I always try to check the websites of the venues where I'm appearing, and if I had done that this time I would have seen very clearly, 6:30 - 8:30. I swear, sometimes I really wonder about myself...

We had a wonderful time. I have a general talk that I give about Combination Knitting and the lessons that knitting in general has taught me, which I change and alter depending on the reception of the group. On the politeness scale this group was a 10 - and on the enthusaism scale they were an 11! Thank you guys SO MUCH for your patience and your interest!

Today I teach 2 classes, then dinner with two of my favorite Chicago guys, Tom & Wayne, then tomorrow I teach 2 more classes and fly home to see my favorite Jersey guys, Max & Gerry, and my absolutely all time favorite Jersey Girl, Hannah Brooklyn! I have seldom been so excited to be home with my kids and Gerry.

When Gerry and I were engaged, a few months before we were married, I was in Daytona Beach working at a summer theater. We had only known each other for 6 months or so, we were getting married in 2 months, and I couldn't stand that I wouldn't see him for 3 weeks. So we paid for an expensive ticket for him to come down and spend a weekend. I always think of that when I miss him - is it Daytona Level? And I think of that when I hear about a young couple being split up for some reason, and how heart aching it is to be newly in love and be separated. It's always hard, but I wasn't prepared for how difficult those 3 weeks would be. And 3 weeks is pretty short.

Button, Button, I've got ALL the Buttons!
Tom acquired a huge stockpile of buttons which he was kind enough to share with a few of us - and I absolutely ADORE buttons. They make me happy, they make me smile. They are my little tiny bit of sunshine on a sweater. His generosity and kindness are so appreciated - THANK YOU TOM!

I'll post some images of my favorites - right now I just want to toss them on the bed and roll around in them. Mmmmmm, buttons...
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Thursday, February 01, 2007


First, may I just say, "Go Bears!"

I know where I am, and I know how to blend in.

I'm in Chicago - I've been in the area since Sunday when I arrived at Midway, rented my car and drove out to St. Charles to stay with Neil and Lesley of Wool & Co. What gracious hosts they are! They made me feel so welcome and so comfortable, like a cousin or good family friend! Knowing how beautiful their shop is, I shouldn't have been surprised by how lovely their home is (but I have houses on the brain these days, and find myself fretting in non-helpful ways about our new house, it's size, the garage, etc.)

I taught 4 classes at Wool & Co, plus a signing on Monday night. The classes were VERY well attended (the signing was rather low-key, but I appreciated that as I was a little worn) and the students were a delight. Every time I teach is a new adventure - I spend the first few minutes of the class evaluating where the students are, and where I may need to do some boosting to get everyone on the same page for the project. Sometimes I'm more successful than others, but I DEFINITELY feel the onus is on me to evaluate and assist EVERY student to find their own level of achievement in my class.

The range of skills I find in yarn shop classes is always intruiging. One person may be a very experienced knitter, yet may lack a few basic skills because in their knitting life they've concentrated on other techniques. Another knitter may just have been knitting for a few months (or weeks!) but their sense of adventure and passion pulls then through. One thing I've learned is to NEVER (and I use that word carefully) judge a knitter by the amount of time they've been acquainted with the sticks and strings. When I have a student who is struggling with a technique, I see their pain - I FEEL their pain, and I am with them every step of the way.

There are few things more frustrating than being in a classroom situation, seeing those around you sailing on with a technique while you sit just trying to wrap your mind around the first step. I've been there - I've been there a LOT - so I do understand. What I try to do is get the students to relax if at all possible. It's difficult to relax when you're in a group setting - a group of new folks - but it IS possible. I use humor to lighten things, to make folks (hopefully) understand that this isn't rocket science and if they don't get this skill at first, they'll get it at last.

I hope I succeeded with the group at Wool & Co - I think I did - and I was so proud of EVERY person in my classes. They did yeoman work! I may be fretting too much - but I'm in a fretful state of mind.

Fretting is not helpful. I'm not usually a frett-er, but I'm distanced from my family, from my old AND my new house, and most especially from my little boy who turned NINE yesterday and I wasn't there. Bad mommy.

After my classes at Wool & Co, I stayed one more night with the Edmonsons (more porridge, please...) and the drove over to my good friends Tom & Wayne's house for a lovely day of fondue, the most amazing chicken pot pie ever, a merringue dessert (whose name escapes me), and a beautiful afternoon with more friends.

The "girls" - Char, Linda & Kathy - drove up from Indianapolis to take a day of classes with me and I was SO excited and glad to see them. I met them when I taught at Stitches & Scones, and we bonded immediately. That's where I met Tom, too, and his wonderful partner, Wayne.

They are great friends. Char saved me from a stroke by arranging to get my blood pressure medicine prescription filled, Linda sparked through Wool & Co and livened the place up, and Kathy was coming down from a hard weekend of knitting like a maniac finishing some socks which will appear in a book. I felt her pain - BOY did I feel her pain - and I am SO proud of her for going foward with her design career!

So on Wednesday we spent the day gossiping and eating - then the girls drove home and Tom, Wayne and I settled in for TV and scrambled eggs. This is living!

Today I'll be going to Lornas Laces to meet with Beth, just to chat and see where the magic happens, then I'll be signing Men Who Knit at Arcadia Knitting (warning - if you go to their website you'll see a big picture of me, front and center. Be afraid...)

Yesterday was the official PUB DATE of Men Who Knit & The Dogs Who Love Them (and I APOLOGIZE for not getting the men's profiles up on the website as I'd hoped to do - I promise I WILL by this weekend!!!) which was marked by - as stated before - me being AWAY from Maxie on his birthday.

I did, however, get him what I think is a cool gift... We listen to recorded books a lot, and he and Hannah both like music. So I went to the site and looked at the refurbished ipods. I found I could get a shuffle for around $50, so that's what the boy got - plus a groovy hoodie with built in earphones in the hood and a connector in the front pocket to plug the ipod into. And because Hannah's been such a brick about the move - so upbeat and incredibly helpful - and because she loves music and audio books as much as Max does, she also got a shuffle.

Can you say, "Guilty Mommy?" Actually, I'm not usually such a softie, but I'm thinking with the move and so many other changes it can be a good thing to give each of them a sort of portable refuge with familiar music to turn to after a hard day of learning to fit into a new school. And - more rationalization - I figure that I saved at least that much with my incredible packing and loading earlier last week, so I'd like to put it toward making the kids a little happier...

I know. THINGS don't make kids happy - having mom THERE does. They'll have me soon enough...

This weekend I'll be teaching 4 classes at the Windy City Knitting Guild, and I'll be doing a trunk show / presentation on Friday night. I'm SO looking foward to it - it's my first time at this guild (and I LOVE my guild engagements!) and now that I'm practically a midwesterner I want to get to know all of the guilds in the area! I have a lot of other midwestern engagements this Spring - I wanted to stay relatively close to home - check them out on my appearances page to see if I'll be near you!

And, in closing, may I just say,

(sorry C, L & K - I know where I am... and I'm not a fool!)
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posted by Annie at 3 Comments Links to this post

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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