Saturday, September 29, 2007

Time is Money

8:05pm - SFO
To save a bit of $$ I booked myself on a two leg flight back to Minnesota. I'm at the SFO airport right now, sitting at the Alaska Airlines gate, waiting to board flight #1 to Seattle.

From Seattle I'll catch a flight a little after midnight for Minneapolis. I should arrive around 6:30 in the morning, so I'll be taking a cab home to St. Paul so Gerry doesn't have to get up early.

And I'll creep home, drag my sorry bags up on to the front porch, look at the kitchen to see how it's going, and then fall into bed. I love bed. I haven't slept well on this trip - I don't think I had one full night of uninterrupted sleep - so I'm looking forward to my own bed.

Today was a long day, but quite a wonderful day. Sandi Rosner did a bang up job of organizing and facilitating my two days of classes - bringing in a full house on both days (and during TKGA in Oakland!) of 28 - 30 folks for each class. Large classes are rough, but fun, and these were a BLAST.

The students were engaged and enterprising. I know they think I yelled at them a lot for talking, but I actually had to remind them MUCH less than I normally do (but don't tell them!) Between classes today I took my sandwich and sat by the pool, knitting and listening to a book on tape. THIS is what I need to do between all my classes!

After class I rushed back to San Fran, dropped off the rental car in record time and took the LOOONG tram ride to the gate. I got to sit in the front. I felt like I was 4 - I loved it! I splurged last night online and upgraded myself for $40 to first class, and it was WELL worth it. I had two free G&T's, so now I REALLY feel like I'm ready for pre-Kindergarden nap time!

My frame of reference for driving is the NY area - it's where I lived for so long, and distances in Minnesota haven't sunk in yet - so I make these little photoshop maps of areas so I have an idea of how they stack up against the terrain with which I'm most familiar.

12:10am - SEATAC
Now it's 12:10 am, Pacific Time, and I'm at the SeaTac airport waiting for my 12:55 flight. I logged onto the airline website when I couldn't sleep last night and grabbed one of the newly released exit row seats, so I should be less cramped than I usually am. I'll have to stow EVERYTHING in the overhead, but that's no great tragedy for a flight when I'll be asleep.

And I need my sleep. The trek over here rivaled Gatwick for milage covered between gates (TWO trams were involved...) I am tired, baby.

6:35am - MSP
And then home...

I took a cab from the airport back to our house - Gerry was up, he was waiting for me after he'd been awakened by a loud car a half hour earlier. He looks good - better than when I left - and seems to be getting stronger every day. This will be a long walk - almost as long as walking through the Gatwick airport.

At least we don't have to make a plane.

Tomorrow Elaine returns to Long Island - she's eager to be home, and I well understand that feeling! We're ready to be a family of 4 again, too - ready to settle into some kind of new normalcy.

The kitchen is almost finished - there are still some things that need to be hooked up, stuff to be finished - Monday is going to be a BIG day for our contractor. I've ordered a new battery charger for my camera, so when it arrives I'll be able to post some photos of how good it's looking!

Gerry's making a list of things that are bothering him to go over with our contractor.

Gerry's welcome to handle that aspect of it, I'm just glad that he's here to MAKE that list!
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Friday, September 28, 2007

Bliss

Ignorance = Bliss. And few are as ignorant as I!

Don't worry about me folks, I [try to] ignore what doesn't move me toward a more peaceful, blissful state. I don't always succeed, but with the help of my faithful (and kind) blog readers, I have an easier time than I might. Thank you!

Regret
I didn't mean to hurt you, Rumplestiltskin! I just realized that I didn't mention my teaching there AT ALL! Believe me, that has more to do with my internet access immediately following the shop than with the shop!

I adored my time there - but didn't really have a good chance to sit down and blog about it afterward, and it was lost in the shuffle of moving on to a new yarn shop!
My day class there - lace - was a hoot!

I was THRILLED to see Scott in the class, he knit the Zip Front Top (shown on sexy rasta man in Men Who Knit) and a really great guy. He also knit one version of the Wavy Lace Scarf in Romantic Hand Knits. Fab. This guy is hard core - in a knitterly way. Hey Scott!

I was fried, it's true, but if I'd had more sense I'd have asked him to have a beer after class. But I didn't, so I missed out on [yet another] opportunity to drink with a tatooed guy. Damn.

What's the use of being on the road if I can't drink with the bikers?

Instead I went out dining with Julie - an extraordinary student from France and all around wonderful person. We're plotting our duo mother-daughter trip to France (we have daughters the same age) and who knows - it just may happen!

The day class was packed, but the evening class wasn't so full. A shame. The folks there were exceptional, and it was a chance for me to really take time to work with individual students. But I realized after class was over that I really shine when I have an audience. I'm a hog for the spotlight - now you know...

So my time at Rumplestiltskin - which seemed to be an exceptionally well stocked shop of very encouraging folks - was fun and very nice. My only regret was that I didn't take time to visit the tea shop next to the yarn shop while I had the chance. I love tea!

TEA!
Right now I'm in a little bit of heaven. Class today for Knitting Workshop went beautifully (30 women, all cabling like a a a aaaabus-and-truck of Riders to the Sea) and then I was off on my own for a short stroll around Santa Rosa (lovely, lovely place) and a drink at a local restaurant while I wanted for my carry-out dinner. Almost room service. Room service with a Tanqueray & Tonic (with a splash of Rose's Lime)

Life is good.

Now I'm back at my room, in the comfy chair (love the square chair & ottoman - my favorite pieces of furniture in a hotel room!) I've finished my pasta and had a bit of my wine (a dessert wine masquerading as cool-aid - just the way I like it - I'm such a wine idiot!) so I'm ready for bed when the spirit moves me.

And
I'm having a cup of Lady Grey tea (I keep calling it "Lady Jane Grey" - not the most restful image for a cup of tea...) and watching What Not To Wear.

Okay - I do love
Tim Gunn's show (but what is VW doing there? She's just not doing it for me...) - but WNTW is my favorite "Change your LOOK!" show. Stacey London cracks me up - so there!

But best of all? After my two classes tomorrow - which will be exceptional and loads of fun - I catch a flight HOME! I'm looking forward to that, baby!

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A Note to the Anonymous Critics

Get a mitt and get in the game.

I am not perfect, are you? If this is the place where you feel good criticizing someone else, you may need to examine what it is that compels you to insist that the world around you is perfect.

If, indeed, you are perfect, then you must be a deity. How happy for you. Let me know when your next temple goes up and I'll stop by for the ribbon cutting ceremony.

If you are not perfect, then you should understand that folks who are perfectionist make everyone around them walk on eggshells, afraid that they'll do something wrong that will - of course - be immediately picked up and broadcast.

I hope for your sake that you do NOT live among perfectionists. But perhaps you did (or have) and that's why you expect perfection from others?

- Yes, Mt. Rushmore is in South Dakota. I know that. My work of art is NOT Mt. Rushmore so I thought I'd spread the love around.

- Anonymous #2 from last night: Perhaps someone will "BY" me a dictionary. Won't that be a nyce thing? See, I can do it, too. We all can. Finding fault is not a hard thing, it just makes us feel good for - oh - about 5 seconds. I think life is too short for that.

- Anonymous #1 from a few days ago (hmm, why are you guys usually anonymous?): Yes, I spelled the French wrong. Quel Dommage. Evidently I have an aversion to dictionaries. You can commiserate with anonymous #2 above. But I don't have an aversion to being kind, which is why I try not to attack folks anonymously (I always attack with my face exposed...)

Actually, later in the post I talk about how "tyred" I am, both headings were meant to imply how exhausted and out of it I felt at the time.

Irony is wasted on perfectionists - must be a sad life.

So now to do some laundry before lunch, and to continue to get over my stomach upset from last night.

A Note for EVERYONE
(including the Anonymous critics)

Cut yourselves some slack, and you'll be able to cut some slack for those around you.

Suddenly the world will seem a better place. A small mistake will not end the world, but a perfectionist attitude will make the world very hard to live in.*

Screw some small thing up today - on purpose - and enjoy it.

*I'm sure a few of you will think I'm representing the fall of civilization, I'm not.

I'm a thorough, responsible human being who lives a pretty good life and doesn't screw up on a regular basis. Well, I try not to.

But when I do - when anyone does - the least helpful thing is to leap on that mistake.

Find a way to enjoy some imperfections, you'll be happier.
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Thursday, September 27, 2007

I give 9 a TEN!

I so enjoyed my last two days (last day, actually...) teaching at Nine Rubies in San Mateo. The staff there - Jocelyn, Sudha and Saloni (in no certain order, girls, you're ALL pretty...) were so accommodating, so kind and made me feel very much at home.

The students were incredibly thoughtful and hard working. I've found that over and over on this trip - so much for the stereotype of the free-wheeling Northern Californian! These knitters are SERIOUS about their passion, and they're THINKING knitters. The best kind of knitter a teacher can have!

Everyone in the class was brilliant - seriously - those who didn't think highly of their skills left thinking much better about their knitting. And those who already felt good left - I hope - feeling even more accomplished. I worked both classes hard, I made them sweat in the evening class (Lace) more than in the Combo class, but everyone impressed me. I'd go back in a heartbeat!

Advice
All of your advice on the knitting video was wonderful - I got the message about the music LOUD and CLEAR, and I have a lot of food for thought on the other points. I've done a little video editing - Gerry's done a lot more - so now I have to explore editing for a DVD so that I can try to address some of the intelligent concerns (repeating easily, breaking into small enough bits to go back easily, etc.) without breaking the bank.

Who knows WHAT will be coming up for me in the next few months - I'm leaving myself pretty wide open except for teaching - and it feels scary, but very good. Rest.

Bags Unpacked
I'm in Santa Rosa right now, checked into my hotel and ready to head up to Knitterly for a cable class this evening. Ah, cables - how I love you!

My car is sitting in the registration bin, I have a luggage cart in my room, but I'm so darned exhausted that I couldn't bring myself to drag my sorry butt down to return the cart or move the car right away. I'm vamping by blogging, but I'll run down in 10 minutes - and then off to Petaluma for class. I'm such a do-right, I've really only had my car down there for 20 minutes, but the guilt starts immediately!

When I arrived in my room there was a lovely basket of wine and cheese, tea, treats from Knitting Workshop - I feel like I'm back in France! Thank you, Sandi!

How lucky am I to have such a wonderful welcome - I hope I can do a good job for them at their shop!

10:30 pm update
Nausea, Jammies & Tea

My class tonight went great - an engaged class, lots of laughs, and I whipped them into shape lovingly with faux fearsome banter. But I felt off - physically - and I had all afternoon since lunch. When I arrived at my hotel room I felt a little iffy, but I showered and headed to the gig at Knitterly hoping that the groove of knitting would keep me above water.

I got through most of the class - I felt a little weave-y at times, but worked through the cabling and the bobbles, but then I broke into a cold sweat and suddenly felt very nauseas and dizzy. Ick. After a quick trip to the bathroom, I decided I just had to get back to my hotel (it was 10 minutes to the end of class anyway - thankfully I'd signed books for folks during the class break!)

I got back to my room, 15 miles away, in good time - and just in time to make full use of - as we used to call it in college - the ceramic goddess. I think the shrimp tempura I had for lunch in San Mateo didn't agree with me. I felt a little off as soon as I ate it, but that feeling subsided as I drove up to Petaluma (what a beautiful drive, by the way!)

But apparently it didn't agree with me - in a major way. So now I'm feeling much better, in my jammies in bed (there's WiFi at this hotel - the first time this trip and BOY do I need it this time!) with a cup of Earl Grey and Olbermann on the TV.

Actually, Keith is interviewing the big dog, so I'm kind of in wonky-girl heaven... And then Stewart & Colbert are on (I haven't had access to Comedy Central all week)

Now THAT'S good for what ails me! And here's my own private North Dakota...

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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Department of Lessons Learned

  • 3 star Hotels charge a daily rate for internet, 2 star hotels don't
  • 7 times out of 10 folks who are dying to ask a question aren't really interested in the answer*
  • Always buy the extra tank of gas at the car rental place
  • Subtlety is wasted on hyper-crytics
  • Cheap shoes hurt
  • GPS is the best thing since sliced bread
  • 7 pillows can't make up for 1 Gerry

Mailbag
I received two really lovely emails today - one from a woman who is on her way to Shanghai (wow) but wanted to write to ask a question about Combination Knitting. The other from a woman who really likes Confessions and wanted to tell me why.

When I get a nice email from someone, it's like getting a little bit of a treat - so as a bit of a treat back, here's some Combination Knitting info.

Question: How can I translate a pattern from knit-speak to something I, as a Combination (Eastern Uncrossed) Knitter, can comprehend?

Answer:

A Very Short Knitting Magazine Speak to English Glossary:
What they say: What they mean.

Knit TBL (knit through the back loop):

Twist this stitch as you knit it. If you knit Western, knit into the back of the stitch. If you knit Eastern or Combination, knit into the front of the stitch. Basically, knit so that the stitch is "unhappy" - doesn't open up fully.

K2tog (knit 2 together):

Knit 2 stitches together so they slant to the RIGHT. If they're not already oriented on the needle in the Western manner, you'll want to re-orient them so they're happily seated Western on the needle.

Annie's Hint: The tip of the right hand needle will be pointing to the RIGHT when making this decrease!


K2togTBL or SSK or SKP (knit 2 tog through back loop OR slip, slip knit OR slip knit pass over):

Knit 2 stitches together so they slant to the LEFT.

Annie's Hint: The tip of the right hand needle will be pointing to the LEFT when making this decrease!


Terminology
Here's what I mean when I mention the following two terms:

Western Orientation: A stitch which is seated on the needle so it wants to be knit through the front loop.

Note: You'll know the stitch "wants" to be knit a certain way because when the needle is inserted that way the stitch opens up big and fat and wide.



Eastern/Combination Orientation: A stitch which is seated on the needle so it wants to be knit through the back loop.




The Road
Today and this evening I have classes at Rumplestiltskin, then tomorrow morning after another class I'm off for San Mateo. The weather is extraordinary - absolutely perfect - although I've heard from EVERYONE that this is unusually gorgeous weather.

I'll take it - thank you, Northern California!

I'm able to think about things when I drive that I don't think about when I'm just sitting and knitting. I'm able to focus in a 'back of the mind' way, with my most important thoughts on the guy ahead who didn't signal, or the exit I just missed. Some of my best ideas come to me when I drive, and I missed not having heavy duty ALONE driving time in August and September.

So California seems like the perfect place for some hard-core driving. Not that a trip to San Mateo is very hard core, but it's longer than slipping out alone to run to Target.

NEXT!
I am in the happy (?!) situation of having NO deadlines on my plate once I finish my current project. This is a beautiful thing - only classes and family healing on the horizon. Will this wide, open period make me nuts? Or will it lead to a better game plan for the next few years? I've put off making plans for 6 months now - and it's a hard habit to get back into.

One thing that Gerry and I really wanted to get done was to start taping a series of knitting DVD's. Or even one - a series? Who am I kidding? Perhaps I'll speak only French in them? Now that he's on the mend this seems like an excellent project to pick up - not physically taxing, but his expertise will shine through and help us do it more efficiently. He's spent his whole career working in all aspects of video production - high time we get some of that knowledge wrapped up in my knitting!

I'm curious if you guys have any strong ideas about knitting DVD's. Do you like ones with a lot of overhead shots? Ones with a knitting group? Do you prefer to just see the instructor? Do you like music, or do you find it a distraction? Do you like a classroom type setting, or something more home-like?

I'm always interested to hear what folks think - not that I'll heed any of the advice, but it's good to hear...



*they're more interested in showing what they know.

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Monday, September 24, 2007

Lovely Day

Today was my day off - and I spent it resting and moving into a new hotel (Doubletree) closer to Rumplestiltskin, where I'll be teaching on Tues.

Wednesday I'll drive to San Mateo for some classes at Nine Rubies. Thurs Petaluma for Knitterly and Friday on to Santa Rosa and Knitting Workshop.

But today - today was for me. I relaxed and rested and revived myself.

Across the street from my new hotel is a shopping center with a Nordstroms - gold! I really love the Nordstrom's Cafe, the salads are wonderful and I had the BEST chicken, apple & goat cheese salad with a glass of iced tea followed by a nice cup of tea and a cookie. I sat out on a terrace, the sun was shining and it was just cool enough to make me glad that I had my shawl with me. What a lovely, sunny, pleasant, peaceful day!

Then I shopped a bit - looked at new silhouettes and bought a small purse (my own had ripped apart on the way back from France - luckily I discovered this before I lost my passport!

Then back to my room for some resting, writing and knitting.

This evening I ended the day with a lovely visit to Joan MM's house, finally meeting her husband and son. She's so lovely, and her family is so kind! Her husband made us a wonderful dinner - absolutely delicious - and I got a chance to admire their "box" (a home away from home trailer, a terrific on-the-road refuge from the fiber shows & conventions!) I also met their affectionate cat, Moxie. Great cat! One of the most beautiful I've ever seen! I told Joan she should design a colorway based on Moxie's beautiful black and tan coat.

I have no pictures of my visit, though, because my camera battery charger has gone to the electronics warehouse in the sky. A new one should be on its' way to my home, hopefully there when I get home, but until then my blog will be rather photo-free. Dang. Trust me, though, we ALL looked exceptionally beautiful!
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Saturday, September 22, 2007

Quel heure et il?

I swear, I'm still on Mediterranean Time - I want to sleep when it's daylight and get up at dusk.

I'm in Sacramento, and I've seldom had such a warm welcome from any group as I did this morning when I met the Camellia City StockinĠettes

What a lovely group of folks - how much fun we had today! I have another day with them tomorrow, with two of my best and favorite classes (Lace & Cables) so I'm really looking forward to getting up in the MORNING!

After class I drove to Trader Joe's to pick up some faux airborne so I can fight off any residual effects of too much teaching and work and air time, not enough good, solid rest.

I called Gerry and we had a nice chat - I miss him - I miss the kids & Elaine - I miss Atticus and Gigi. Heck, I just plain miss Minnesota. Sacramento seems really lovely, the weather is splendid today, but it's not home.

The lovely thing about being away, though, is that I'm too far from the vacuum cleaner or laundry room to be able to do much physical labor. The past week has been so much physical work, running up and down stairs, cleaning, packing, unpacking, mopping and putting away, etc. I ran myself a bit ragged trying to get things ready for Gerry to come home so soon, and getting ready for this trip.

Once I get home I have a break - a bit unexpected [surprise!] - until I leave for my next trip. I'm glad, though. It will be good to have time together as a family, and Hannah's birthday's coming up. I have NO idea what she'd like to do - I'd love for her to have a small party for her new friends, so I need to ask her what sort of thing she'd like to do.

TYRED
I have to say I'm definitely feeling the effects of jet lag, and I'm really happy to have this evening to just veg in my hotel room, watch TV, do a little knitting and just rest.

I love bed. This bed is a nice one. The internet is nothing to write home about (ethernet cable required, the one provided is about 20" long - d'oh!) and there's no free breakfast here I find that so odd in this day and age - this is the first place I've stayed in YEARS that didn't have a complimentary breakfast - eh, go figure. This will be my last visit to a Marriott Courtyard for a while, I was spoiled by Staybridge Suites in Rochester over the past 2 months!

While I'm resting - and not posting much tonight - here are some images from France in my flickr gallery. Enjoy!
www.flickr.com








modeknit's France 2007 photosetmodeknit's France 2007 photoset



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Thursday, September 20, 2007

Present!

Everyone's in the house, and it feels gooooooood.

I knew that it would.


But you know who seems the happiest that Dad, Mom & both kids (& Grandma) are all under one roof today? Atticus. He's absolutely in his best element, and is so relaxed. Mr. Happy Dog.

While I was away he displayed some pretty nasty behavior. Nothing dangerous, just lots of pooping in the house, attacking backpacks, etc. Poor Nancy - it's a good thing she adores Atticus. I don't think she imagined that sitting a 9 & 10 year old would involve so much poop.

Oddly, on Nancy's last night here Atticus knew she'd be leaving the next morning. He sat with his head resting on her leg all evening. He's a very perceptive dog.

Which is why I'm not pulling out the suitcase until the last minute tomorrow. He gets SO sad when he sees me piling stuff into the case. The kids get sad, too, but they hide it better than Atticus does. I've just about had time to launder all of my stuff from France - I didn't even put it away - it goes right back into the case!

Gerry's sad, too. But he's happy to be home. In a way it's kind of nice that he has a week to reacquaint himself with the house (and supervise the last phases of the bathroom creation) without me around - he can make it his own.

Before I leave tomorrow I need to pack, get my class materials together, work up some samples for a few of the classes (I have samples, but I like to work up new ones for classes I don't teach very often as a way to remind myself of what will be covered by the students.)

I'd love to be able to pack and take books - but that's dependent on how much other stuff I'm packing. Books are heavy.

But Gerry's home so my heart is light.

Drive, Damnit!
I am VERY excited about renting a car and driving around a new area. I love to drive. I figured out when my mother died that white-line meditation is the best kind for me. I missed not driving while in France, which sounds odd, but I do enjoy my time alone in a car.

I hate needing to depend on rides from kind folks - very un-Blanche Dubois of me (a sister Virgo)

But when you're dealing with luggage and several venues, getting rides is a symphony of loading and unloading bags, repacking, waiting, making small talk, waiting, and not being able to stop by the side of the road and take silly pictures of big chickens. Vaya con dios, indeed!

Fashion Victim Perp
Watching the Tim Gunn show tonight makes me realize that I need to do a serious wardrobe rethink. I have the outfits that I feel good in when I teach - and I've practically worn out my skirts that I love to teach in - but I'm low on pieces that I am in LOVE with.

It's time to change that. Maybe after I turn in these two projects I'm working on, I'll knit something for me? Maybe I'll copy the fit of a swingy little sweater I bought in France (photos later...) because it really suits me quite well.

One item I'm TOTALLY in love with is my new Eileen Fisher coat that I bought in Rochester a few weeks ago. There's a shop in the mall, which is in the turmoil of renovation, where there are plum Eileen Fisher items (and other cool stuff) in my size (miracle) and on fabulous sale (double miracle)

So I snagged a really great black skirt with just the right amount of swing in the skirt (a black skirt for me - how unexpected!) and - coup de grace - a beautiful off-white silk & wool cutaway coat with 3/4 length sleeves and a really groovy, flattering collar (& a great fit!)

So why was I able to buy it? Because it was $368, marked down to $50. FIFTY. Mine.

This jacket over a dress or skirt & top is an immediately stunning suit. Touch me.

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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

"Fantastic"

That was the exact quote when Dr. Hayman asked the nurse today how Gerry's recovery was going.

Gerry is golden - which I've always known - and has been an amazing over-achiever in his body's stellar reaction to his chemo and transplant. The cells are grafting, they started on day 13 (which is supposedly a harbinger of a very good outcome) and once again I found myself weeping in a doctors office.

Thank you all so much for your continued good thoughts - they mean a lot to us. The kind messages, the cheerful words, the funny emails and touching stories - they are all very dear. I haven't had a chance to respond to the snail-mail messages we've received, life has been overwhelming. But we're hoping to get more concrete thanks to folks during the long winter months here in MN - a new hobby for Gerry!

Right after breakfast today Gerry called to say that his final doctor's appointment had been rescheduled for 11:00 am today - yay! - so I hurried on down to Rochester where Gerry, Elaine & I heard the 'going home' instructions. We wanted to move it up because I'm leaving on Friday, and we learned yesterday that Friday was going to be Gerry's out day. But now he's coming home on Thursday. When things start moving, they move FAST.

Afterward I packed a bunch of stuff at the hotel and loaded up the car so that moving day tomorrow will be less stressful, and hurried home to be here for the kids.

Gerry's day + 100 appointment is scheduled at the Mayo for the second week in December. Apparently he'll be feeling light years better, his bones will be stronger, and he may even be able to straighten up when he walks if he's able to engage in Physical Therapy. That seems to be the main thing on his mind - getting himself back to roughly the same place he was a few months ago in the way he can walk and move.

Everything's happened so quickly - in many ways we're still trying to wrap our minds around the fact that he's sick / has been sick. Sometimes the mind takes a long time to catch up.

Gerry has done as well as anyone could - his numbers are excellent, his white blood cell count is pretty amazing for someone who's gone through what he has, and he's ready to come home. Obviously bringing in the Jewish mom for the "Eat, EAT!" portion of the recovery was a strategic move.

And how he's ready to come home.


Tomorrow.

As in, the day after today. Tomorrow.

Molysomophobia
The house is in NO way ready, but this afternoon I engaged in an intensive scrubbing & bleaching of the basement to remove drywall dust and take care of the residual microbes left after that little sewer back up problem (the roots in the sewer, remember? Ah, happy days when I was in France...)

I think that the house is probably as clean as it can be in the current situation. Messy, untidy, a black hole of disorganization - but CLEAN.


And, in the way of my life, the day after Gerry gets home I leave for the San Francisco area for a week of teaching in Sacramento & other parts West. Thank heaven his mom will still be here - thank goodness for Elaine!

So after my minor blog meltdown the other day (thank you SO much for the many supportive comments, they really meant a lot!) things are in better perspective - and some things have even resolved themselves!

POD
Without realizing it, the deadline for the POD was pushed to almost October, so I can breathe with that.

Travel
I had a marathon organization session and have calmed myself a little bit. San Fran, coming up this weekend, is relatively planned. The Texas trip is coming together, and those are the two biggest trips this Fall that I hadn't nailed down.

My Colorado trip is down to one shop, but it will be a fun trip. If you'd like to see my current Fall schedule it's up here - anniemodesitt.com/appearances.

I'll be able to spend most of Friday getting myself repacked, getting handouts printed and together and generally making sense of the week of teaching. A nice luxury - an afternoon flight!

I think I was being superstitious in my need to partially ignore upcoming trip details. I needed to hear how well Gerry was doing. And now back to the mortgage portion of our programming.

Until I knew that things were going well with Gerry, I'd hesitated to set up new teaching engagements for the Spring. But now it's time to start getting more gigs on my calendar, so if you know of a shop, guild or area that would like to have me come and teach, please feel free to let me know!

Current Knitting
I have a VK shawl to finish tonight, but that's not a huge deal as I already have it all charted and have been taking copious notes as I've worked along on it.

I think it needs just a few more hours before it's fini. Now I just have to find my ironing board & steamer. I can't find ANYTHING here now...

Home and Gerry
Tomorrow I'll drive down to Rochester to pack up Gerry and Elaine and get everyone home. What a huge thing that is - almost beyond comprehension.

Our front porch has become the holding area for all homeless items. It's looking a little trashy, but with any luck by the time I'm home from California the kitchen will be done and we'll be in a good place to reorganize our selves again.

For a Virgo, and a Dutch one at that, this limbo living with no organization and so much dirt is rough.

Plumbers Progress
Things are coming along with the bathroom / kitchen.

Small, annoying things crop up - but nothing that can't be handled relatively easily. I'm glad Gerry will be here to make decisions next week - it should be the final week and I'm tired of the decision portion of this game.

The vanity will work beautifully - it's going to look excellent in the room, and the $1.25 per square foot slate floor is wonderful. Touch me!

After that we'll be cooking and washing clothes and doing bathroom stuff all on the first floor, huzzah! Most important, though, Gerry will be able to stay comfortably with all of us on the ground floor if his colitis flares up - that's golden.

Of course I want Gerry's nausea to abate, but it's nice to know we're prepared for it if it doesn't!

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Monday, September 17, 2007

The Threshold

For all of those who have been so kind to write and say, "You're handling this with so much grace!" - maybe you don't want to read this post... Illusions are hard to have shattered.

I think today I hit the threshold. I'm hoping this is temporary - I'm sure it is - but it's not fun.

Perhaps it's because so many folks want to help - and once they have reached out to our family, they want to make a further connection - so they cast around for questions to ask me, or favors, or requests. And they email with these questions and requests.

So my inbox has been just jammed with not just emails, but emails which must be answered.

So I answer them.

And then I discover that half the day is gone and lookey at what I still have to do...

  1. Project of Death
    I need to finish the project-of-death for a sister designer's book, the project which has taken longer than just about anything else I've ever knit, and on which I've put SO many hours (just ask anyone who was in France with me - every spare moment was spent on this baby)

    The upshot? I can't get the thought out my head that I'm being paid less per hour for this piece than for just about ANYTHING I've ever knit. Have I mentioned lately I'm a fool?

    Why did I agree? I agreed long ago before we knew the seriousness of Gerry's condition, and foolishly didn't back out of the project when I was given the chance. I'm a fool, and I'm paying. It's late, it was due a few days ago.

  2. Project of Fun
    I'm finishing up a shawl for VK, it's due in a few days. It's a fun project, and I've been afraid to dive into the last few hours of it because I know I'll never want to return to the POD. Mind games.

  3. Bathroom / Kitchen
    It's coming along, but we won't be ready to use it until next week. Still and all, not bad considering the electrical mess that was discovered by the inspector (the previous home owners had work done by someone who either wasn't licensed or didn't pull a permit, but the upshot is that work was done VERY badly and it will take over $5K to fix it.)

    The easiest fix required moving a wall downstairs so the breaker box was NOT in the bathroom. Damn. $535 right there on top of the electric. But the wall's in a better place, so it's not entirely a bad thing.

    The previous home owners refuse to deal with us directly, so I'm not sure what route this will take. We'll go ahead and pay to get the work done now, so our home won't be 'red tagged,' and thus uninhabitable. We'll figure out how to deal with the payment stuff later...

    Oh, and did I mention the roots that were found in the sewer pipe last week? Apparently all is well now, but it was a fun time around here for a day or so...

  4. Road Managing
    How I wish I had a manager to arrange my engagements.

    There's a great deal of hand-holding involved with some shops; new owners who haven't had a visiting teacher before, shops that need to be convinced that having me teach at their shop AND a few others in the area is not the kiss of death (and usually increases attendance for everyone!)

    Then there's the refiguring of dates when one shop cancels (can I still make the trip? Will this raise the costs for the other shops? Will they cancel?)

    This is on top of the usual logistics of airfare, rental cars, hotels - not to mention actually getting the class stuff together. I'm tired.

    Once I'm at a venue I adore the teaching, but all of the planning and replanning and convincing and back and forthing are wearing me down.

    I'm losing that layer of lubrication that allows me to flow with his stuff with equanimity. My emotional WD-40 I like to call "Gerry."

  5. Mistakes
    Newsflash: There are mistakes in Romantic Hand Knits - as there are in any knitting book - and I've been trying to address them quickly as they come up.

    I've listed all corrections on my "oops" page - for this book and for my other patterns.

    But a few things came up while I was in France and I just haven't had the presence of mind to dive in and find the error, correct the error, and post the fix.

    So there are folks hanging, waiting for me (and I do appreciate their patience! Thank you!)

  6. Windows & Other Questions
    I don't use Microsoft products - I don't use Windows. But some folks who want to use my patterns & some of my customers DO use Windows and may have problems downloading due to the new switchover to the updated operating system.

    Or perhaps don't have up to date Acrobat reader. Or maybe they have spam filters on their email that they're not sure how to switch off. It could be that they've run into problems with the download vehicle that I use.

    And it's necessary for me to deal with these things - of course - it's my job! There's really no one else to do it. And I'm usually pretty glad to handle it.

    I also get the healthy amount of folks asking for suggestions on yarn substitutions, how to increase (or decrease) a portion of a pattern, how to get started as a hand knit designer, could I please resend them the stitch chart template I use or would it be possible for me to rewrite a portion of pattern with a different stitch motif

    I usually really dig these requests - I love the interaction about patterns and designing, and I like writing to folks who are kind enough to write to me.

    But right now I just feel so wrung out and unable to answer the question, "What's your middle name?" let alone, "How can I get started as a designer?"

  7. Phone Calls
    There's a person who very kindly made a donation for the Red Carpet Convertible, but has emailed me several times because they couldn't seem to download the pattern.

    I emailed it to them, thinking it would make it easier, but they still weren't able to open it. I think the sad truth is that until they upgrade to a more recent version of Acrobat Reader they're not going to have an easy time of it (at least, that's my best guess...)

    After another few emails I refunded the money they'd sent, figuring that they'd gone through a lot of trouble - and I just couldn't deal with this any further.

    They just called asking for "Customer Service" - I didn't have the presence of mind to adopt a foreign accent - I think what they really need is an I.T. guy.

    I have lost my ability to deal with phone calls (did I mention that?)

  8. Gerry's Return
    We're not sure when he'll be released, but the docs are very happy with his recovery. My big fear is that he'll come home - with his mom - and the house will be a huge PIT because the kitchen isn't totally finished.

    He'll be on antibiotics for a year, but I really don't want to tempt fate by introducing him into a dust and filth filled environment (aren't you glad you're not visiting me this week...?) and perhaps giving him an odd infection. Remember the aforementioned roots in the sewer?

    So I'm doing the juggling act of trying to get as much cleaned and put away as possible. That is, in between knitting mitered squares for the POD.

  9. Moving
    Regardless of when Gerry comes home, all of the stuff we took down there have to be moved back up here, and that will fall to me.

    I know I'm sounding like I'm just complaining and whining. I guess I am a bit. So much for the grace, huh? I think I needed to just dump for a bit.

    So we'll have the festival of packing and loading and carrying down in Rochester, to be followed up with the festival of unloading and carrying and unpacking in St. Paul. This will be in conjunction with the minor holiday of putting all the crap that now resides in the dining room back in the kitchen.

  10. Kids
    I'm so far out of the school loop, and I have to get caught up on what forms need to be returned, what homework needs to be done and signed off on, and what extra school activities must be signed up for.

    I just feel totally unable to make this leap right now. But I am exactly the person who needs to do it.

    And I haven't contacted the local temple about Hebrew School. In large part this is because it will mean filling out a lot of 'financial aid forms' and - say it with me - I don't think I have the presence of mind right now.

    And, on the way to Wendy's for dinner (salads) I blew a gasket because Hannah was teasing Max, Max was screaming, and Hannah wasn't letting up. They may not do that again for a while, but I've also just given them a full chapter for the tell-all book 20 years from now...
But, most of all, I can't get the image of Gerry out of my head.

Gerry & Kids in July / Gerry & Kids on Sunday

How different he looks from just last week - and how VERY different from a few months ago. Hannah's taller than he is now, it wasn't that way when I left for France. This is his nadir - we have been told that it's all UP from here, and we're hoping that's true!

Perhaps, more than anything else, I'm missing those 2 bottles of wine every day that I got used to in France ...?

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Sunday, September 16, 2007

Beauty & Home

My last few days in France were very beautiful! The weather was excellent (just enough of a nip to make walking comfortable), the wine was plentiful and the company was a lot of fun. And then there's the scenery...

We went into Montpellier on Friday after a sumptous lunch of oysters, mussels & shrimp at the coast. Amazing. Here are the oyster beds with a sailboat (full of shells?) I'd never seen oyster beds before this trip - what a cool thing to see!

We shopped a bit, individually, in Montpellier, then we regrouped for some knitting and coffee (or beer...) before heading off to dinner.

I'd been feeling like an evening walk, so while the others went to the restaurant, I strolled around Montpellier a bit, soaking in the elegant architecture and amazing sunset.

I don't know if it was just me, or the knowledge that it was my final evening in Southern France after two very full weeks, but the sky seemed much more beautiful than it had before.

I walked for quite a bit - seeing wonderful sights like the Domino Pizza guy on a scooter.

Even though I knew I'd be joining the group at the restaurant for dessert (wouldn't want to miss the trio of Crme BrulŽe!) I was drawn to a Lebanese restaurant for an almond pastry. And, yes, it was delicious. Eh, what the hell - my last night, right?

Dinner at the restaurant finished VERY late, though - and I kept thinking about my LONG flight the next day and the long tram ride / drive back to La Vingeron.

But, of course, I had packing to do - and goodbyes to say - and stayed up waaay too late. I figured I'd sleep on the plane (not.) Phil and I left at 7:15 am, the timing was very good, and just about everything involved in the flight went as well as could be hoped for!

The change at Gatwick was hell - please AVOID this airport if at all possible! - but I knew from experience that this was how it was destined to be. I literally RAN from one plane to the shuttle bus, then RAN from the shuttle bus to the check in desk only to be told - snottily - "Well, we're running rather late, aren't we..." Stuck up wench.

I told her I didn't know about late, but I was certainly running.

Damn that almond pastry.


It was exciting to fly over Greenland during the day, many folks on the plane were drawn to the windows (I figured they were homesick Minnesotans) but I had an eagle-eye view.

But nothing was more beautiful than flying in over St. Paul - here's the view of Minneapolis from just above the Ford plant.

And who was waiting as I scooted off the plane in record time and through customs without a hitch? My darling kiddies and my friend, Nancy. THANK YOU, NANCY! She went above and beyond the call of duty, and I cannot thank her enough. Luckily I got her a lovely antique chemise at the Patchwork Museum, so that was a very small way to show her how grateful I am to her!

Today I drove down to Rochester with the kids to see Gerry - I'm still jetlagged, so the 4 hours of driving was mostly on auto-pilot!

Gerry surprised me with a Tom Tom GPS system (a refurb - he KNOWS that the best gift he can give me is a bargain!) for my birthday / our anniversary - yay! And for the first time in almost 3 weeks the whole family was together. I even brought down Atticus for the visit. More about Gerry and his recovery tomorrow, but if all goes well he may be home by the end of this week or next week!

Right now I'm just giddy to be HOME. And tired. And I have SO much to do. One bit at a time, right?

There is no more beautiful word in any language than HOME.

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Thursday, September 13, 2007

Spaces Between Posts

I feel as though I should be posting more, but I can't see how I could!

Between classes, riding in the van to various sights, walking around and visiting those sites and then EATING, it's hard to see where I'd have time to get ANY blogging done. And I feel the poorer for it.

I miss my several-times-a-week catching up on what is on my mind, and feel as though the past two weeks have been more about a travelogue of my trip in France than musings on a hand knit designer's life & fiber experience.

But life is what it is, and right now a large part of mine is traveling by van all over Languedoc, France.

The new group arrived on Monday afternoon, Tuesday we had our first class then went into town for some shopping.

Cats (who looked a lot like Gigi back home) were befriended and gelato was eaten. This is Zophie, from Washington state, enjoying a bouquet of gelato crafted by the friendly neighborhood gelaterie artisan!

Wednesday was another class - a class where my exhaustion and the beautifully strong personalities of this group met an impasse and I talked myself into an uncomfortable situation.

But all is resolved, thank heaven, and I have new fodder for the learn-through-experience portion of my brain. This current group is an unusually strong group - which is really quite wonderful!

But it can also be exhausting - much like teaching Hannah - the benefits FAR outweight any difficulties, but it's not the easiest teaching in the world.

Oh, well, nothing truly worthwhile is every simple or easy - and I've never been the easiest student myself!

Wednesday afternoon we went off to the Patchwork museum again, but instead of taking the tour this time I walked around the canal and enjoyed some solitude.

I watched the locks filling with water to transport a boat from the shallow end to the high end - fascinating - I couldn't help but wish that Maxie were there to see it!

I'm finding that I require more time alone this week, which is most likely due to the fact I'm at the end of a two week stint away from Gerry and the kids. But it's necessary, so I'm grabbing with I can.

Speaking of Gerry, at the patchwork museum one of the students let me use her cell phone (my own isn't working here - no signal) and I FINALLY got to speak with Gerry. YAY!

He sounded very good, and apparently after a very hard week his blood numbers are on the rise and every day is a little better. He mentioned that he's losing his facial hair, so I'm wondering WHAT I'll see by the time I get home!

Dinner in Bezier - a lovely dinner but not quite the same as last week at the same establishment (my nose wouldn't stop running, for one thing...) - which was preceded by a short hike up to the cathedral with a spectacular view of Bezier. Just lovely.

I ordered fish - little did I know I'd have to filet three small fishes on my plate - but I did it and here are the bones to prove it!


Obviously, the fellow having his head chopped off wasn't having as much fun as we were.

Then back home to La Vingerone for the amount of rest we could all catch before rising this morning for a drive down to Collioure near the Spanish border.

Collioure is amazingly beautiful! We broke into smaller groups and wandered the streets, I settled at a sidewalk cafe and just KNIT for several hours. I have a deadline this Saturday and I'm NOT as far along as I'd hoped to be...

Just being able to spend time around so much natural beauty is astounding, and everyone on the trip appreciated it to the full!

The sheer volume of Gelato establishments in Collioure is breathtaking, I don't know how I managed to only stop at one! The flavors were excellent - but nothing like the Marron Glace that our hosts here at La Vignerone had for our dessert this evening! AMAZING! They have Marron spread that I MUST get before I leave!

I'm scheduled to leave on Saturday morning, so tomorrow is my last full day here. I hope that class goes well - there's so much I'd still like to show the students! And then off for a final bit of shopping - finding gifts for folks back home who have done so much for us lately.
And, of course, a visit to Phildar (lovely yarn!) to see some great finished garments.

This has been an extraordinary trip - an amazing opportunity - and I hope that I've experienced it as well as I might. This past week was more of a challenge than I'd thought it would be, but we only grow when we're challenged so I'm glad for the opportunity.

I'm very much looking forward to seeing the kids and Gerry - and Atticus and Gigi - but I'm also VERY excited about having the distance to reflect on this trip. Time and distance will let me do a post mortem on my teaching, the classes I offered and how it may have been done better. As always, I have a hard time hearing criticism - especially when I'm mid-week in classes - but it's necessary to hear those things to become a better teacher!

I can't decide if wine helps, or if it just makes it worse. One thing for sure, having a dinner that doesn't stretch for 3 hours, a decent bedtime and a nice cup of tea (with MILK) when I want it will do wonders for my psyche. I'm loving France, but I love home more.

I miss my tea.

I miss my sleep.

I miss my GERRY!

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Monday, September 10, 2007

Vite!

So who should show up on Thursday but the Fastest Knitter In The World??? It was SUCH a delight to actually MEET Miriam Tegels in person - we've been emailing for a few years - and she's just as kind and lovely as she seems in her emails!

We spent a lot of time together over the next two days (she took a train back up to Holland on Sunday morning) and everyone really enjoyed watching her knit. I wasn't even going to TRY to knit up to her speed! I know when discretion is necessary, and I'd rather look discrete than slow-as-a-snail!

Mostly I just enjoyed walking around with her - she bought a wonderful hat for her husband - and having a nice coffee while we both knitted. It was a nice break to spend time with a sister knitter who had no affiliation with the tour.

I love everyone on the tour, but I was able to feel a little less "on" than I had the previous few days. It was also nice for me watch how someone else knit just for pure pleasure for a change!

At the market I bought a sweater for 5 euros, and I could tell that Miriam was vaguely scandalized that I don't knit all my own stuff. I wish I had time! My project is going slower than I'd anticipated (no big surprise there) and I'm KICKING myself for not thinking to have Miriam knit it for me. Merde!

She received a call from her husband while she was here that the BBC wants to speak with her about a show on Guiness World Records (she holds the record for speed knitting.) Knitting royalty! And she gave me the sweetest Dutch Hat & Kerchief for Hannah and Max. They'll look even MORE Dutch, now!

And the extra bonus? She's coming to St. Paul in February for the Knit Out at the Mall of America - whoopee!!

MORE RUNNING
And finally - on Friday - my luggage arrived. Yay!

And it was great to have books for everyone and all of the other stuff in my bag - FABulous!

We've been having a wonderful time, the folks in the tour are SO lovely and we've been eating and walking and knitting our way across this area.

Friday we went to the seaside and ate oysters for lunch (I had mostly shrimp - amazingly sweet and wonderful) then we took the tram into Montpellier and walked and shopped for a bit.

Lisa found this amazing chapeau, we were all quite jealous, but she was so beautiful we couldn't stay angry...

Our dinner was in a former Bath (bain) and it was SO beautiful! We ate in a courtyard covered with umbrellas - the food was exquisite (best dessert so far - Symphonie of Creme BrulŽe!) and laughed and laughed.

At one point I began speaking with one of the women in the group who has become very dear to me, and the subject turned to our husbands. It's probably the excess of wine AND the time away from Gerry, but I had to go to the bathroom for a moment to collect myself. WHERE is my PT Crusier when I need it?

Oh - there it goes! And in France it's white! Now if I could just climb inside and drive myself around for a restful weep.

That's something I miss greatly - driving (oh, yeah, and Gerry...)

I miss the feeling of being in control for a bit, and being alone in my OWN space.

It's not making me nuts or anything, but I'll be SO glad to get back to my own crazy purple car!

Between the long drive and the tram ride, we got home after midnight. Unfortunately, arriving back so late on so many evenings has played havoc with our ability to be awake and coherent for classes - myself included! Despite that, though, it seemed that the group from week #1 has enjoyed the classes - I know I have!

Saturday was market day in PŽzenas, where we went for some MORE shopping (I bought baby powder and French toiletries) and then a fine lunch. And I ate olives.

Back here for some swimming and some private knitting tutoring before an early bedtime.

SARAH CREWE
Today I moved into a different room - one with a dresser, larger bed and window, a private toilette and shower, a small desk and places to sit - I'm in heaven! Most important, I'm one floor above the teaching area, so I won't have to go halfway around the building and up 3 steep flights of stairs (the final flight VERY twisty and a little scary) just to grab that ball of yarn or book I left in my room. Yay!

You'd think I'd be thinner after all the walking and stair climbing, but it seems the wine and amazing food has taken care of that!

It was romantic to be in a "garret" (mais, a garret in Southern France!) but I do forward to a room with a bit more comfort and fewer stairs!

So now I'm in a new room - with the students this time (I can hear the next group arriving!) - and I'm really looking forward to it! I'd take a photo of the lovely room, but alas - my camera battery charger has stopped working, so no more photos unless I find an alternative. (Perhaps someone in this group uses the same kind of charger...?)

ALONE
Saturday the tour guests left, most of them at 6:30 this morning. The two remaining knitters (Hi Lisa & Claire!), Dava and I walked up the hill to a sort of roadside cafe and had a lovely lunch, then back down to knit a little before they went off to Montpellier.

Kris & Philip (tour folks) and their son Dava drove the guest to the airport, and will continue on to the seaside for the afternoon/evening. They invited me, but I told them I'd rather just stay here and get some work done, write, knit, and have some time to myself.

I really love the time to myself. And in some ways I am overcome with the feeling that this is sort of training wheels for a period when I will be more alone. Jeeze, is it me, or is it the wine that's making me so darned maudlin?

The hotel hosts were getting a little sick of me sitting around at the dining room table (where I could get internet access without climbing back up to my room) but now I have my own space. And it is quite lovely here.

GERRY
I miss him terribly! Just about everything I do I think, "How much more fun this would be if Gerry were here!"

He makes me laugh more than anyone else in the world - and I really need that when I'm spending so much time making other people laugh!

I don't think he's in a laughing mood right now. He's sick as a dog, he required a transfusion, and this weekend his platelet count was low. Right now he's being kept in the hospital at the Mayo as an inpatient.

His sister and mom both have the number of the Inn here and will call me if he wants or needs to speak with me, but making a call out is so hard - and I hate to call and bother him at a time when he may finally have fallen asleep or may be resting. I want to hear his voice, but I don't think disturbing his hard-won rest would be for the best.

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Thursday, September 06, 2007

The Miracle of Mirth

I think I've seldom laughed more than I have in the past few days. This, in addition to seeing so many beautiful places, experiencing (the only word for it) so many exceptional wines, and enjoying foods I'd never dreamed I'd be eating.

When Gerry's troubled that the kids are finicky eaters, I look down guiltily because I was - and am - a bit of a finicky eater. There are things I just don't like (tomatoes) and after a yearly ritual of trying them, I've given up.

So now I've learned that it's silly to give up. And perhaps I'll try them. Maybe not tomatoes, but I did try a few other things these past days - and I'm very glad I did!

TUESDAY
While the rest of the group shopped in Pezenas, I stayed behind to rest a bit and try to catch up on the 40+ emails per day I'm receiving. After my 'office work' was done, I sat downstairs waiting for Phil to come and pick me up, loving the wind and the sun and the dancing Plane Trees.

Planes & Automobiles
These Plane trees are so lovely, and line roads, canals, walkways, all over this region. At times the roads are rather narrow due to the proximity of the trees to the road, and drivers here tend to be lead footed, so we've heard there are some major accidents.

There seems to be a movement afoot to cut them down, and a counter movement to let them be. They've obviously been around longer than the cars have, and it would be a terrible loss to cut them down so folks can drive like idiots. They'd just find a stone wall to crash against, anyway...

We arrived and met up with the group, who were taken unaware by the sudden cool evening and the wind - lots of rapid knitting going on, but it was a lost cause! I, myself, used my partially finished Ruana at dinner to stay warm.

Dinner was absolutely stunning. The food was nouveau, trendy, trŽs chic, but not over the top and silly.

The descriptions of the desserts, though, taxed both Kris & our waiter (who made me think of a Galic Tim Gunn as maitre'd) and they practically exhausted their bi-lingual skills.

French folks eat later than we do, and it's been hard to get used to for the group. We go so long between meals that - however good the food is - there's that low blood sugar period when it's rough to keep going.

Kris & Phil are taking steps to address this (I, myself, purchased some cookies at a local supermarket where we stopped yesterday to offer during my class - if I don't eat them all...) This should keep us at an even keel for the times between the amazing meals!

So by the time this meal ended many of us were just wiped OUT! It was a quiet ride back to the Inn - and I think we all slept pretty well (after we got to sleep - some of us are still on US time...)

WEDNESDAY
After a lace class where I forced everyone to work harder than they'd expected - I learned the French word for "yell" and I'm looking up "whip" - we took off for the Patchwork Museum in Salleles DĠAude - a beautiful spot and a wonderful collection! And ducks!

Marie, the proprietress, made us at home as we shared a picnic lunch that Regine here at La Vingeronne put together. So beautiful, so simple, and so GOOD! The goat cheese here is exceptional, and I actually ate Boar P‰tŽ & Blood Cheese. Go me!

After a lovely and restful hour of sitting and knitting after looking through the gallery, we headed off to Beziers for dinner, stopping along the way at a supermarket (I have to admit, I was the instigator of that detour...) to pick up stuff we all needed.

Pride & Dentifrice
I amazed myself. Lisa, one of my new friends, needed to download images from her camera to clear space so she could photograph more. I am not sure how I did it, but I walked into a photo place, explained the situation, got a price and a time when the disk would be ready - all en Franais! I was SO pumped!

We shopped, bought some Tshirts, soaps, cookies, one of our number bought a curling iron, much needed toothpaste, and then we checked ourselves out using the self serve kiosk. It was less exciting than we'd hoped because English was an option - c'est dommage!

I'd been dealing with an off-and-on headache, so I stopped at a pharmacy (this was a sort of mini-mall) and, once again in French (although not GREAT French) I asked for medicine for a very strong headache, asked the price of some other stuff and bought shower gel. I am golden. It's a little pathetic how impressed I am with myself, but I was walking on AIR!

Le Caveau De LĠHours
Dinner was magnificent with a salad that was - hands down - the best I've ever had in my life. AND - tada - I actually ate Pate.

Yes, I understand all the horrible things that they do to the geese (A running joke through this trip, every time we eat a wonderful piece of meat, is that they have VERY happy pigs, cows, etc. over here in this region...)

But baby, this stuff was GOOD! I've never liked pate, it always had an aftertaste and I just hated it. But this, I loved! YUM!

THURSDAY
Today I rested. Everyone else took off for a town near the Spanish border - I cannot WAIT to hear about their trip! But I stayed here and slept in until 11:30!

When I went downstairs I'd missed petit dejuner (that's what I get for sleeping in!) so I took a hike up to a restaurant at the top of a nearby hill - Bel Air - and had a really wonderful meal that I could NOT finish.

Yes, I said NO to dessert, alert the media!


I hiked back down the hill, stopping for some knitting at a very lovely spot, and wandered through the very small and very old town of Faugere.

I can't really find any kind of shop here except for the gas station at the top of the hill - it makes me think of one of very small town along the Hudson River in the catskills in that way.

There's an old 15thC windmill up on the hill, and I almost hiked up to that, but I changed my mind and returned to the Inn - ostensibly to knit - but guess what I did? Napped.

I took a shower, washed out my personal items, put on some music and laid down for 5 minutes. It turned into a 2-1/2 hour nap, and I feel like a new woman. YAY!

So now I've heard that everyone's back - and it's 7:30 so dinner should be soon! Another dinner at La Vigneronne - how lucky can we be?

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Tuesday, September 04, 2007

La Vigneronne

Except for the photo closest to the word "La", all of these were taken from my room. Amazing, huh?

The class today went really well. It's funny how much I worry about these classes - well, perhaps not worry but how deep the concern runs until I get going and get a handle on what type of students I have.

In this case, the students are quite wonderful! Since many of the tour are shop owners, they definitely know their way around a knitting needle.

This morning we did some Combination Knitting and ended with Cables (sort of a mainstay for me - and a really good way to get to know the students, how they knit, how adventurous or quietly competent they are.)

This is a wonderful class. So fun, so diverse yet all so open to new things and great conversation. Perhaps the wine helps...?

THE TOUR
Kristeen & Phil are really wonderful tour hosts. Their love for this region is absolutely infectious! Everyone's gone off shopping, but I'm staying here to rest and answer emails.

BTW, if you email me and don't get a response, don't worry! I had SO many emails yesterday and today, it will take me a LONG time to catch up.


The food so far has been absolutely amazing. Simple, traditional country French. So well prepared, so delicious.

I'm not a foodie - I don't cook a lot - but I love good food. I don't know as much about it, or wine, as I hope to some day. But that doesn't prevent me from thoroughly enjoying the lovely meals!

But I do know that this is among the most satisfying food that I've had in my life. Delicious and satisfying, excellent wine, amazing desserts. C'est parfait! And the more I drink, the better my French gets!

Kristeen & Phil weren't kidding when they said the goal of their tours is to rest. After only one day everyone seems to be experiencing their own personal "Enchanted September!" and we are all so relaxed. Fabulous!

GERRY
We've been able to email back and forth - thank heaven! He told me that Monday he had to have two pints of blood in a transfusion because his hemoglobin levels were low. This isn't unexpected, but - of course - I hate to not be there. Okay, not hate - because I'm having an amazing time here.

I couldn't stop thinking about Gerry at the Gatwick airport - I wonder why?

He and his mom have been walking to the clinic and home as much as possible, which is wonderful for both of them. The more he walks, the faster his recovery and the stronger his lungs remain.

Plus it gets them out, gives them something to do, and allows them to enjoy the fresh air every day. I get a feeling that the boredom is almost as debilitating as the nausea.

That's coming up this Wed and should last for 10 days or so. Poor Gerry. We'll drink a toast to him!

SOUNDTRACK
I've downloaded some music, a kind of soundtrack to this place for my current historically-geared listening ear, The Second Circle by Anonymous 4.

Check them out, they're wearing sweaters on their webpage! I wonder if they're knitters?


It's a collection of love songs from the late 14th Cent by an Italian composer, Francesco Landini. (I think it was the Landi part that interested me...)

For my mind, the music fits how I feel in this place. It's joyful, but calm - and very simple.

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Monday, September 03, 2007

Je suis arriveŽ!

En Francais, s'il vous plait! I know, I'm probably all screwed up. [Galic shrug] Eh...

Everything went so smoothly yesterday that I felt as if I must be dreaming. Bags packed, able to log onto computer in the house and print out boarding pass, drive to the airport very quick (Thanks, Gayle!) and check in was very easy.

I changed $100 into Euros. Woo!

Then I boarded the flight. I didn't even have to use the bathroom during the flight - a first for me - and got some nice shots over Greenland as we flew over. All in all, a nice flight, except for the continuous bing-ing when folks would call the attendant. I have no idea why that was so loud!

We arrived in London a little after 8:00 am local time, the land looked so green in the morning light.

Apparently they believe in the power of walking at Gatwick airport.

It felt like a 5 mile hike from the gate to the bus to take me to the other terminal. Then another hike to get my boarding pass, and yet another 15 minute hike to to the gate.

And they took away one of my carry on bags (I had to check it) so I lost my wheels. Dang.

And, of course, the luggage has been lost (just the carry on bag they made me check - it's supposed to show up tomorrow, but it's a one hour drive to the airport!) In the whole scheme of things that could have gone wrong, I think it went pretty darned well!

And it's my birthday.

Several folks have looked at my passport so far. No congrats yet. Dang. I told everyone at dinner after several glasses of wine. They started singing "Happy Birthday!" - but the conversation took a turn and we'd all had a TON of wine at that point.

Dinner - magnifique! My favorite part? The baked chevre & greens salad - yum!

Now I'm in my lovely attic room - quite romantic, really - I feel as if it could be anytime between the years 850 and 1600, except I have wifi, very cool!

The drive here was lovely! I hadn't expected the landscape to remind me so much of the area east of San Diego (a bit greener) and it was hotter than I'd expected. What did I expect? I'm at the Mediter-frickin'-anean Sea!

After we got here I went down for a swim just to cool off, then back to my room for a nice nap and down to dinner. This is living.

CLASS JITTERS
I have the same trepidation I always have the night before I'm starting a new class - in this case I'm playing it by ear more than usual because I want to see what everyone's strong points are.

I've asked everyone to think of something they'd really like to learn, and I'll see if I can wrap that into their lessons over the next week so they get a lot of class time devoted to something they WANT to do, and as much Annie-time as they can stomach.

BACK HOME
I've been emailing Gerry through the day - I have to email Gayle and the kids, too. But I'm so darned tired with the jet lag, wine & all the running up and down stairs that I'm not sure if I'll stay awake for my shower! I hope so - how embarrassing it would be to fall asleep under the running water!

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Saturday, September 01, 2007

Day Zero, Day Plus One, etc., etc...

It's done. Gerry's at the top of the first hill in his roller coaster and is about to go shooting down into the valley. Right now his blood counts are good and his appetite is good.

And - aside from the overwhelming odor of stale, rotton, vinegary creamed corn emanating from his body due to the preservative used with the stem cells (seriously!) - he's pretty normal.

Actually, I think the transplant made him seem suave-er.

Or is it just that he's trying to convince me that French men have nothing on him?

But we're told that will change in the next few days. By day Plus Five or Plus Six, his counts will be low, and he'll be lower.

It will be rough, so they say, and I won't be there to make him feel better...

And I'll be in France. Feeling like a happy, relaxed piece of merde.

WAGON TRAIN
My sister in law and I drove up to St. Paul today with the kids and dog and cat, and we moved ourselves back into the house.

The kitchen's looking good - another few days and the floor will be entirely down. By the end of the week the cabinets are supposed to be in, then the appliances go in. Yay!

But it means that Gayle and the kids will be without a kitchen, but they will have laundry in the basement and a refrigerator in the garage. And a stove and microwave in the garage. But it's not fun, not at all.

When we arrived we had a HUGE amount of cleaning to do in the basement, sweeping, dusting and mopping. We had to light the pilot light for the water heater - hopefully we'll have hot water now - I really need a shower!

My work still isn't finished, but I pooped out and said we should stop and go to dinner.

Dinner at Dixies, then we shopped at Target to get groceries for the family while I'm gone, and we also picked up extension cords because...

HOT & DARK
No, it's not how I like my men; it's how our house was today!

Whether it's because the electrician has certain wires disconnected because of the city inspection thing, or some other unknown reason, large portions of our home are lacking electricity.

Aesthetically this means a big, heavy duty orange extension cord running up to the second floor with smaller cords running off of it to the bedrooms so we can have 1 light and 1 fan per room.

Physically it meant a lot of running around to find the right kind of extension cord, a lot of pushing furniture in the darkening, hot house and a lot of swearing.

But the upshot is we have a relatively cool and light house. I hate leaving things in this state for my sister in law (who has been an amazing help - such a trouper to get to work like she has - thank you, Gayle!)

Who knew I'd miss the Rochester so soon, huh? Here's an animation of the sun coming up over the Gonda building from the room where they did Gerry's transplant.

When I hugged my mother in law and kissed Gerry goodbye (a true test of love because I'm not fond of creamed corn...) I thought, "Soon I'll be in my OWN bed - yay!"

Little did I think that first I'd have so much work. Why is there always so much work?

PREP
Speaking of work, I need to prepare for my classes by getting my handouts together and packing intelligently tomorrow. I'm totally putting that off to tomorrow - I'm not even THINKING of packing today. I'm going to keep myself down to one large bag, plus my carry on - more than that I really don't need.

I'm not traveling with a butt load of books, and the yarn I'm taking is minimal. As for clothes, I'll be gone for 2 weeks which means I'll have some way to do or get laundry done.

I am getting excited, though. I've held off and haven't talked about it much at all, it just seemed wrong somehow, but now that the flight is tomorrow I'm getting psyched! Not for the 8 hour flight trapped in a coach window seat, but for the knitting time en route, the knitting time a la arrivŽe, and the time for resting.

And I have my handy-dandy wooden dpn's (just like pencils - who could object to them?) with the blood drop antenna toppers I got when I gave blood to brighten up the flight.

Since there are two tours, both following the same itineraries, I can choose to go on the day trips in the afternoon OR stay at the Inn and rest poolside (or just sleep!) and maybe get some knitting done. Since I have a deadline for the day I arrive back, I think that doing some knitting would not be a bad bet!

And now off to bed - at least, as soon as I shower (BOY do I need that!) And I fully intend to sleep in tomorrow as LATE as possible.

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Alison's Scarf
Link to pdf file of cable/trellis lace scarf


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



Chullo-licious


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