Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Goin' to Kansas City
Kansas City, here I come...

Wow, life goes so fast, huh?

I just got back from Portland and in two weeks I'll be flying again, this time down to Kansas City! [more about that below]

Portland was amazing, and I'm hoping to teach at some local venues when I return in September to teach at the TKGA Knit & Crochet Show at the Portland Convention Center.

If you missed any of my classes this time, I'll be teaching some of the same things, and some new classes too. Mostly, though, you'll just laugh a lot (and then when you get home you'll wonder, "How did I learn so much knitting if I was laughing all the time..?")

And how buzzed am I that the Happy Gnome here in St. Paul has Hazlenut Brown? I just rode Hannah over to her new Jr. High for registration, then back home (4 miles, it's a lot for ME!) and celebrated with a fine glass of Hazlenut Brown from Portland. Happy days.

I've scheduled a late month tour of the Surly Brewery for the family (kids are allowed, wee!) so it will be a beer-li-cious May. I have mentioned that a brewery tour was the highlight of our honeymoon, right?

It's also the month of the Shepherd's Harvest Fiber Fest out in Lake Elmo on May 10th & 11th, and with this warm weather I'm getting VERY excited to go! I wonder if I can sneak Atticus in masqueraded as a sheep?

I'm teaching a few classes, and although Combination is sold out there's a waiting list, and my lace class still has openings. There are some amazing things to see and many other classes, too! What a wonderful way to spend Mother's day!

Kansas City
I've never been to KC, but I'm told pretty marvelous things about the place I'll be teaching.

Studio Knitting & Needlepoint
1121 West 47th Street
Kansas City, MO 64112
(816)531-4466

I haven't publicized the class at all, but I've heard from the shop they're filling up fast.

So if you're inclined to go to Missouri (or if you're there already!) and you'd like to take a class, here's what I'm teaching the weekend of May 16/18

Combination Knitting Lecture
5/16/2008 5:00 PM

Cable Mania (Look Mom, No Needle!)
5/17/2008 10:00 AM

New Directions in Knitting With Color
5/17/2008 2:00 AM

Tips & Tricks
5/18/2008 11:00 AM

Tonight I'm going to go to a monthly support group for cancer care-givers. It's my first time, and I'm curious as to what I'll find there.
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Monday, April 28, 2008

Home Gifts

I'm Home! And I brought Bee-eer!

When I looked out the window from seat 9F and saw Minneapolis/St. Paul, I cried. (No, not because it snowed this week!)

I loved being in Portland, and last night Vancouver was very nice, too. But there's nothing like home! I tried to remember gifts for the family this time, and I may have succeed!

My mother in law will receive a lovely red bag that I bought at Abundant Yarns (it seems like something she'd dig, and her birthday was this week.)

Today I slept in, and thank heavens my friend, Lisa, called at 9:15 or I might have slept right through to boarding time. I was that tired! Teaching for 4+ days straight takes it out of one.

Lisa was on the France tour last year (why, here she is sporting a most fetching chapeau), and she owns Vancouver's primo yarn shop, Unraveled.

She also has a spectacular mother (bonjour, Sucre Claire!) and a pretty stunning couple of daughters. I didn't see her sons, but I can only imagine they're lookers, too! I did see one son's green moter scooter...

Unraveled is such a NICE shop - just lovely . It's closed on Monday but Lisa let me peek inside and I got to look at all her stock - yay!

Five years in business helps you build a very nice selection of inspiring yarns, that's for sure!


We met at her daughter Amy's crepe shop and I had the MOST amazing banana, nutella and walnut crepe I've ever had in my life - what a lovely ending for such a great trip! I took a picture of the empty plate, there was no time to take it before... It just LEAPED off the plate and into my mouth!

Lisa loaded me down with some yarns to sample, and it added to the gifts I carried home for the family...

For Hannah I got a great Tshirt from McMenamins, and she loved it!

For Max I passed along one of the the delicious little animal truffles that one of my dear students gave me on Sunday. We divided them up between the family, everyone getting one.

Gerry got a growler of Hazelnut Brown Ale by Rogue. I really wanted to bring him some, but didn't want to pack it in my luggage (where it could go boom) and I couldn't carry it through security.

I was stumped.

Then - right at my gate - I spied a Rogue Bar with growlers for carry on. Isn't life amazingly good?

I snuggled the beer it into my yarn from Unraveled to keep it safe, the guys at the bar were jealous.

Here's the fine, fine beer making friends with some lovely handspun yarn from my friend, London. Oh - and I got carded. Apparently putting on makeup today was a good move...


I've been LOVING the bag I got from my all-too-brief tour of Lantern Moon this week. LOVE this bag!

I may just find myself inspired by this bag on a new project I'm doing for Interweave Crochet!

I've just had my second beer and Gerry's had none. I supposed He'll just have to consider ME his gift since I'm drinking all his beer...

And - as if to prove to me that not everyone in the Portland/Vancouver area is as enlightened as I'd come to believe this weekend, here's a lovely bumper sticker I saw at a stoplight. I've said it before, and I'll say it again - if you don't believe in gay marriage, don't marry someone who's gay.
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Sunday, April 27, 2008

Last Night on the Columbia

I drove up to Vancouver for my last night - it's much smaller and seems quieter than Portland, but it's quite lovely!

I'm at the Hilton, and had dinner at the McMenamins restaurant on the Columbia (salmon & beer, FABulous! Just look at that Amber Wave!)

My legs are achey, my arms hurt, my back is sore and I'm tired. SO tired. But I'm very happy, too!

What a great couple of days of classes, though - so good, and so hard to write about because there were SO many great moments!

Folks got stuff SO FAST, they worked hard, and they earned their rest, that's for sure. Now I just have to get to Sequim to see WHAT is in the water there...

Driving to Abundant Yarns yesterday I passed a paint shop. There were some guys on the roof, well, painting. It made me laugh, so I snapped a photo...

In one class a woman had an adorable doggie (Coco) and there was a poodle in the shop. Happy doggie shop! That made me miss Atticus quite a bit.

Last night I discovered that I HATED the hotel I was booked into (The Mark Spencer - more like The Mark Seedy) so I de-booked myself and went to the Residence Inn, instead.

It was right by the river, so I had a nice walk along the promenade and looked at the boats. What a nice evening.

Today the classes were in a banquet room at the Governor Hotel (VERY snazzy) and both classes were pretty full (25 & 19).

Those large classes are SO fun, but they do take much more energy than the smaller ones.

I've enjoyed ALL of my classes here in Portland SO much, and the shops and students were very kind in their comments. This is quite a wonderful place, and I'm just sorry it took me 46 years to visit.

Both shops want me back, and as I'll be in Portland in September for TKGA that may just work out. More chances to enjoy the Portland architecture (which makes me homesick for St. Paul!)

BTW, If you'd like to keep up on future classes, the best way to do so would be to sign up for my monthly newsletter by clicking here.
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Saturday, April 26, 2008

So Tired, So Happy!

I have had a few most WONDERFUL days, I'm loving Portland, LOVING the weather here (rain or shine, I like them both!) and I'm thoroughly enjoying my students!

What an exciting, intelligent, intuitive, intellectual group of women I've met here - and I'm only half finished... I taught at Abundant Yarn on Thursday - two good classes of hard working women. This afternoon and this evening I taught for Knit Purl (the classes were at the Mark Spencer Hotel) and although the groups were huge, EVERYONE kept up beautifully and worked their butts off. I was especially impressed with sisters A & K, who I teased mercilessly, but who did SO well! And they traveled SO far to see me - one from LA and one from Omaha, it was very flattering

I figure if someone plops down good money to take a class, they should go home with a few welts. Just kidding. Actually, I offer a lot of information, but I'm very happy to accede that some folks get 'filled up' and nearing the end of the class perhaps the best use of their time is to listen and absorb (not put more pressure on themselves!)

We laughed a LOT, I learned as much as my students did, and I'm very impressed with the overall level of courage and knitting intelligence I'm finding in this green, green, lovely city.

And it is SO lovely! The architecture is homey and intelligent, stunning in it's simplicity (much like St. Paul) and makes me happy. I'm meeting the nicest people (like Lorajean's boss, who runs Global Exchange - good luck L on your upcoming exciting event!!)

Michele - I would have had the cajun tots, but I have a very mild-mannered methodist mouth, and when I have anything spicy I can feel it for days. The regular tots are yummy enough for me.

This morning after another soak - oh, heavens, how lovely that is! - and a breakfast of the best oatmeal I've ever had (topped with apple compote and served with steamed milk) Heather from AY took me to Lantern Moon where I met the staff and had a LOVELY chat.

I really like Portland SO much! I definitely need to bring Gerry and the kids out here (would they EVER love the Kennedy School!!)

This afternoon I headed downtown and shopped at Knit Purl for a bit before I headed over to teach my two classes. It's a LOVELY store - there is SO much crammed into what could be a small space, but seems much more spacious than I imagined it would be! The staff is very helpful, very knowledgeable, and very friendly. I'll be back there on Sunday (this time the classes will be at the Governor Hotel across the street, in the Hardy room) for two more classes.

I need to sleep. More classes tomorrow - but they start at 10:30 which is TERRIBLY civilized. YAY!
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Thursday, April 24, 2008

With Feeling...

ABUNDANT YARN ROCKS!!!

And I am LOVING Portland - what a fabulous place!

It is by far one of the COOLEST yarn shops I've been in!

The space is large and light and beautiful, the selection is so wide, it's like walking through a rainbow! I could hardly keep my hands of the yarn, and one of their proprietary colorways [I forget the name, something to do with Tin Man] had me at "warm golds & browns"

Aside from having such an amazing shop, Heather is a gracious and fun person - I flatter myself that in another life we could be cousins (we share a shoe size!) - and Stevanie is a BLAST! Even more fun was her most excellent, goofy, AWEsome son, who reminded me of Hannah so much I could have cried. Duuude.

My fears were senseless - thank you ALL for the moral support! - because there was a healthy showing. Not quite the 400 folks that the Harlot had (but Harlots know for being busier than Heretics, right?)

Wait until you sees the turnout for my burning, baby! Now THAT will rock the house...

It was my first time giving the lecture I gave last night, and I'm afraid I was more rambly than I would have liked. But the group was graciously forgiving and allowed me to stumble through a few parts to get to the "Aunt Wanda joke." Yay!

I need to hone the lecture - it's Knit with Courage, Life with Hope, and it's based on the experiences of this past year along with some knitting stuff and draws a LOT on the blog entries. Evidently the talk was good because I did get a few more signups for my classes, I think most of them are filled (or filling up, I could be wrong - check with the shops...)

Detention
Yes, I am staying at the Kennedy B&B - I didn't mean to be coy about it before - and I'm posting from my MOST comfortable bed in a room that used to be a classroom. There's something fun, and slightly disquieting about that.

Blogger's being WACKY with my photos, so if you want to see the most AMAZING dinner in the world you can visit my flickr page

The Kennedy school looks a LOT like Max's current school, the layout is similar and they seem to have be from the same era. Dinner last night was EXCEPTIONAL (tater tots!) and I'm going to go for a dip in the soaking pool this morning before breakfast.

The soaking pool opens in 15 minutes and guess who brought a bathing suit! I cannot WAIT to see what fun stuff they have for breakfast here - and my class isn't until 10:30! Could life be more heavenly?

Okay, there's no TV in the room (I'm such a lowbrow) but I streamed Frontline last night for the background noise that I need to relax

I drowned my sorrows in a Rogue Hazlenut Brown Nectar - life is good! Thank you Heather for this MAGNIFICENT beer. And, yes, the guy on the bottle DOES look a little like Gerry.

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posted by Annie at 13 Comments Links to this post

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Feels like it's raining all over the world...

I arrived in Portland today after a nice, non-rushed packing and walking Max to school day. The flight was uneventful, the Portland Airport is very easy to navigate, and now I'm here.

And it's raining.

Perhaps it's because I spent the flight editing blog posts - several of which I've put together as part of my lecture tonight - but I'm feeling sad. And I can't get the Blogger photos to work (I'll post them later...)

I have NO reason to be sad, really! I'm staying in an amazingly cool bed & breakfast (it's an old elementary school!) and I scammed a PT Cruiser at the car rental place. But I'm blue. Just a very slight violet blue.

I have more trepidation about teaching in Portland than I've had when I've taught at other places. Don't get me wrong - I'm PSYCHED to be here - and I get a LOT of email from Oregon. I can't wait to see Stevanie's shop, an Darcy's shop, and I've already been contacted about an interview for a local blogger.

But it's such untried territory for me - I have no Portland experience.

My big fear? I'll show up tonight and there will be 6 people, including yarn shop staff, who are there to hear me speak. My recurring nightmare is not that I'll speak in front of folks in my underwear. MY NIGHTMARE is that when I'm up there IN my underwear, there won't be anyone in the audience. Figure THAT out, Mr. Freud...

I've had this nagging, haunting, sense that this will happen - a sense of doom (Doom, DOOOOOOM!) that is NOT justified in any way. But this is what haunts the minds of folks who talk to groups of people.

And - totally unknown to me, because I'm so non-plugged in that I could be a hand-crank ice cream maker - Stephanie Pearl McPhee was here LAST NIGHT. Yikes. Way to sweep up after the circus, Annie...

I've gone to hear Steph and she's REMARKABLE. Oy. Me, I'm an acquired taste. And I have the feeling the Knitters in this area are probably still digesting their banquet from last night.

If there's ONE knitter in this area who has the desire to come out and hear me on this rainy day after seeing the YARN HARLOT last night, I'll give them five bucks. No I won't. But I'd like to.

Now I'm reduced to papering the house. Ni-ice.
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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Lettin' Loose!

On Sunday I took me some ME time, which was very fun!

After spending the morning recovering, sitting on the back deck and enjoying the warm temps, suddenly it was 3:30 and I had to scoot over to a knitting group BBQ with my goat cheese and almond salad.

I felt as though I should arrive early because, well, I had the salad... So I showed up EXACTLY at 4:00. Don't you love guests like me?

I knew I was "early", but the day was spectacular so I sat outside and watched the show - nothing as exciting as a Minneapolis neighborhood on a Sunday afternoon!

I have no idea why I get shy like that, hanging back, not wanting to see folks when I arrive someplace. But it happens before classes, sometimes, too. It might come across as aloof, or - heaven forbid - snobby, but most of the time it's an odd kind of shyness.

Finally I was discovered by my hostess - but there's nothing like a chat with a 5 year old about dogs to erase any sense of shyness.

The day was stunning, Minnesotan's basking in 65+ degree weather, and the group was so much fun! Who knew a little deck could hold so many happy knitters? I had two (TWO!) beers - obviously I have excellent taste as Blue Moon just won the World Beer Cup. I wonder if it was full of beer...?

I also ate a full plate of cheetos. Breakfast of champions. I was feeling incredibly indulgent, and I helped myself to some chips and a bison sausage. So good!

Then home - more knitting - but I'm at an impasse on several projects. I keep getting to a certain point, then I rip out because it just isn't "coming" as easily as I'd like. I'm waiting for yarn for a few projects, and I'd really hoped it would show up before I leave for Portland tomorrow!

I've never been to Portland - or Oregon - and I've really been looking forward to the trip! I'll be teaching at two yarn shops, alternating days, and giving a lecture on Wednesday night. The lecture is based on the book I'm currently putting together, my first time giving this particular lecture, so there are nerves involved with that.

I'll be teaching at Abundant Yarns (who is also sponsoring the lecture) on Thursday and Saturday, and at Knit Purl on Friday and Sunday. Monday I fly home - woo!

The kids were sad when I told them I'd be going away tomorrow (they always act like they didn't know I was going, even though I've been discussing it for weeks!) but I'm hopeful the weekend will be warm and nice and mom's absence will be overlooked...

Gerry put together 100 sets of Flip Knits for me yesterday - they continue to sell quite well - so I'll take a bunch with me to Portland. Better enjoy the chance to take books with me while I can, soon Northwest will begin charging for that second checked luggage bag, and I don't know ANY knit teachers who can travel with just one bag...
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Sunday, April 20, 2008

Passed!

Geeze am I tired!

We had SUCH a lovely time last night - the seder was abbreviated, but nice (I'm sure our guests didn't think it was abbreviated) In comparison to a hard-core seder it was like a 30 second ad spot vs. a half hour informercial.

The timing is the hard thing - the whole dinner starts with readings from the Haggadah, then the ritual meal is served in a specific order (seder means order) and at a specified time the REAL dinner can be served.

Keeping the hot stuff hot and the cool stuff cool is the hard part - but we did it! I think I was most proud of the matzo ball soup - it was REALLY good! I hadn't made soup before that was so tasty, so I was so glad that I had an audience to appreciate it. Yay!

We invited two families over who each brought a child (a friend for Max, a friend for Hannah - unplanned but perfect) We scooted the table over to the window seat and had the kids sit there so we'd have enough chairs for the adults. Improvisation.

The women in the kitchen dance was what made the dinner a success - I couldn't have gotten everything in and out, and on and off, the table by myself. I mentioned to one friend how I'd missed that 'clearing the table' ritual of friends over for dinner, it's been SO long since we'd entertained.

And as exhausted as we both were last night - AND this morning - I think I understand WHY it is that we don't entertain more often. I barely dragged my sorry self out of bed at 10:30, Gerry was downstairs at noon. Something we haven't done much at all - this sleeping in thing - and it was most enjoyable!

I was SO surprised by a gift from my friend London last night - a lovely alpaca shrug that she'd dyed and knit herself. It's really wonderful - and perfect for the chilly evenings when my neck and shoulders are a little too cool but I need full mobility for my arms. THANK YOU, LONDON!

Today St. Paul is more beautiful than I've seen it this year, so Max and I are going to bike over to Creative Kidstuff to get a birthday gift for a friend, then Gerry will bike him over to his friend's party (which is just a few blocks away) while I run off to knit with some friends! Woo!

Bookish
I've been working on a book based on our experiences over the past year. I've had the idea for a while, but it crystalized a few months ago when I was talking to another Multiple Myeloma spouse (wife) and we both confessed to feeling SO alone. Then as I was reading some MM blogs (and other cancer blogs) the same feeling floated up to the top of my mind; the spouses are SO alone.

There's no way to compare pain, and whether one is facing mortality themselves, facing it for a child or a spouse, it's PAIN and pain makes us draw up into ourselves. I'm hoping this book will allow someone, somewhere, to feel a little less alone in this whole experience. The blog has done that for me, but not everyone has the luxury of a blog (or the type of personality that would want to write one!)

The book will be mostly re-edited blog entries, with some extra exposition explaining certain experiences better. Yeah, not very original, but portable!

Editing the blog entries from this past year has been a journey. This reliving what we've been through was something I didn't want to take on until Gerry'd reached a point where he was more his 'old self.' Riding the bike this past week was that point for me.

I'm proud of him, obviously scared, but I feel we've reached a good plateau in this disease and we'll coast as long as we can. So this feels like a good time to compile the record of a year from hell, and a year in heaven.

Hooked!
A good friend - the friend who gave me the massage in Denver - sent me this great stitch-picker-upper. She sells them at Etsy, and it wasn't until I saw it in person that I realized how GREAT it is. This will definitely be on my keychain (my caribou-ooner from Caribou Coffee) from now on!

And boy, after the non-kosher-for-Passover elements in my seder was THIS ever appreciated!

Maybe I can be a triple threat - a heretic in every main religion? Now THAT'S something to which to aspire...

But at least I have this to keep me focused on my heretical tendencies. And in addition to picking up stitches I can do some impromptu teeny, tiny crochet while waiting in doctors offices, too!
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posted by Annie at 12 Comments Links to this post

Friday, April 18, 2008

Gefilte Queen

I made gefilte fish!

Gerry went shopping for it and couldn't find it anywhere. So I asked, "How do you make it?" and he told me what his parents used to do. Grind up fish and cook it.

"I can do that!" I thought, "So why not give it a try?"

A bit of time on the internet, a scanning of Mama Leah's Jewish Kitchen and some help from Julia Child, I was good to go!

I think I've done okay. I fixed them sort of like quenelles using ground up cod, halibut and another white fish (catfish). Gerry said his dad used to use anything he caught in the Long Island Sound. I should have added some walleye.

I ground the fish and added eggs and cream to make a paste. I chilled the fish paste, brought some chicken stock to a simmer (the same stock I'd used for matzo balls earlier) and then I basically made fish dumplings. They certainly LOOKED right.

Now they're finished, sitting in a casserole covered with carrots, celery and a little bit of the chicken stock. I was feeling not quite 100% about how long they'd cooked, so I've shoved them in the oven as a double check - I hope I didn't ruin it... (are you afraid yet, London?)

As mentioned, I also made some matzo balls (to put into soup tomorrow, they're chilling now) and there's a noodle pudding in the oven right now. In a nod to Minnesota it's being baked in a bundt pan.

Invert and dust with powdered sugar
.

As predicted, after biking Gerry's hurting. But he's a stalwart fellow, and doesn't compain (much.)

But he's in pain, dang. Today he fiddled around in the basement and I think he got carried away with rearranging his tools.

He thinks the gefilte fish looks good... Nothing like a nice seder to ease the back.

As well as the fish, pudding and soup, we're also making a turkey breast and asparagus, a spring salad, there's tsimmis in the oven and of course we have our matzah. We have a little kosher wine, but I want to go out tomorrow and get some more.

We have some good friends coming over, we're trying to dig up the haggada (heaven knows where they are...) and we're settling down to have a nice one-Jew seder. We even know where the leaf for the table is (that's half the battle - thank you St. Anthony!) Gerry's never taught Max the four questions - tonight will be devoted to that.

Shed Raisin'
I got a bee in my bonnet about moving our rubbermaid shed from the center of the backyard where I'd put it last year over to the space between the house and the garage. It fits like a glove, it's a perfect spot for it, but it was a couple hours of evil hard work. But ultimately VERY worth it as we now have a much more usable backyard.

I'd ordered some climbing vines and other stuff to plant. This weekend was supposed to be sunny, but now it seems that Saturday will be rain, with Sun on Sunday. I love to garden in the rain, so tomorrow I'll try to get out in the morning and get some roots in the ground.

I have no reason for putting this photo of Keith up except that I SO dig the jacket, tie and shirt. Geeze, that man dresses well! I wonder what seder he's going to...

Tomorrow I'll spend the afternoon warming up food. Passover - the wonderful holiday when most of the food can be pre-cooked and carried to your mother in law's house.

The perfect covered dish holiday! I'm surprised more Minnesotan's don't celebrate it!

Note: Please, no more comments about how our meal isn't kosher for passover. We know it isn't (although the powdered sugar was a joke about bundt cakes, and the catfish was a joke about, well, catfish.) The last thing we need is the kosher patrol turning up on our door. Elijah will be enough of a surprise.
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posted by Annie at 20 Comments Links to this post

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

A Biking Miracle

Gerry's been saying for months that he just wished he could get ON a bike. He kept saying that riding a bike, as counter-intuitive as it seems, would be easier for him thank walking. I smiled and said, "Yes, dear..." but didn't really believe it.

He's been spending a lot of time working on the family bikes, getting them fixed up, making sure I had a good working one. The reason became obvious yesterday.

He promised Max he'd ride with him to school. And not just Max, but ALL of the kids from the bus stop. I was filled with admiration, and pure anger.

Idiot.


Or not.

I told him I would NOT let him go without me, which took some discussion. Finally I said, "What if something went wrong and you fell and broke one of your brittle, brittle bones?"

How would that affect Max, feeling so helpless as his dad was laying there needing medical assistance?
Things to ponder that we wish we didn't have to. He wants a normal life, he wants to ride with his kids and toss a ball around. He's fragile, though. How far do I put my foot down before I start digging a hole?

So I went, too...

Our first trip was yesterday. I'm embarrassed to say that I was the weak link in the bike chain. There was Max, 3 of his friends (above) who all meet at the bus stop, and Gerry and me - a half dozen bikers in total. We met at the bus stop then rode along the least busy streets we could find (using the sidewalks on the busier streets - no pedestrians were out...) and about 2/3 of the way I became SO winded going up a hill that I had to stop and rest while they all blithely rode on. They didn't even miss me.

I eventually caught up with Gerry, and then the two of us rode to Wuollets for coffee, then we rode home and he looked for all the world like the cat who ate the canary. Or the carrot cake muffin.

Of course, the pure exhaustion that he felt all afternoon was rough, but to be expected. No huge change in his pain, but this does give him more of a reason to take his pain meds.

Today we spoke with the other kids at the bus stop and explained that on days we could ride we'd be happy to have them with us, but we just can't promise that it will be an every day affair.

Gerry has excellent days, and he has devastating days. Two days ago he had a hard time getting out of bed and lay there for 6 hours, then yesterday he was riding a bike. Go figure...

I'm proud of him. Scared for him, a little worried. But very proud.

Future Bike Fun
This weekend we'll take the kids and the bikes and go someplace where we can ride with little or no traffic. We may just bike down Summit Ave (there's a nice bike path on it) and home - Maybe we'll even take the kids to Hebrew School via bike? I usually walk them...

The bad thing about not walking is that biking is MUCH harder for me. My breathing has been really terrible for a few weeks, just rotten this week (I started a course of prednisone today, so I'm hoping I'll be back in fighting form in a few days...) and when I bike I suffer for it for an hour after with shallow breathing.

Also, Atticus doesn't get that nice, long walk we've been taking. I could ride with him running along, but I'm shy about that (he's a strong dog, and if he took a notion to chase a squirrel or run to another dog, I'd be in trouble!)

So all in all excellent news - yay! The Landy Quest to make every single day as full of love and fun as possible continues!

Support
We drove out to Stillwater for a Multiple Myeloma support group. I'd never been to one, Gerry'd never been to THIS one, and the speaker was an accupuncturist talking about pain strategies for MM patients.

It was ironic because we planned to leave the meeting a little early so Gerry could make it to his accupuncture appointment this afternoon. I can't wait to hear how he feels it affected his pain!

O-WOOL!
I've finished the O-Wool Classic & O-Wool Balance colorwork sweater, and I'm SO happy with it! I decided against steeking and creating a cardigan, it looked so right as a pullover.

So I created a split turtleneck so I could use those wonderful buttons that had inspired the pullover to begin with!

The pattern should be finished in a few days, then I'll have it tech edited and it will be ready for purchase. I just LOVE this sweater, and may have to work up one in more subtle colors for Gerry.

Retreat
The details are set - huzzah! And with this nice, warm weather we're having I'm beside myself in anticipation! Click here for full details... Contact Barb at info@medaytorosecottage.com to make your reservation.

Click on the image for your invitation!
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posted by Annie at 20 Comments Links to this post

Monday, April 14, 2008

Coming Up!

I'm home - I got home late, late, late last night, crawled through the door at 1:45 am. But I liked waking up home (with a little red-headed boy in bed between his Daddy and me - heaven!) and being in my own room is a special joy. Yay.

I missed breakfast Sunday because I had to run, but here's a shot of my breakfast on Saturday morning. So meaty! And very tasty, too!

I stayed at the Ashford Manor sleeping in the Safari Room, best described as Out of Africa meets Master Harold & The Boys. Or, Martha Stewart visits Soweto. It was unusual and unexpected, but a LOT of fun!

My front door overlooked a wisteria covered porch. [Sigh.]

A quick drive into Atlanta on Sunday morning and I was in a funky, chic part of town and ready for my next engagement.

I loved teaching at Knitch - a lovely, lovely city-shop in Atlanta with possibly the BEST lighting I've experienced as a teacher!

Kim, the owner, was wonderful, so it's little wonder with the draw of the beautiful yarns, helpful staff, funny hangers-ons & well-wishers, the shop would be FILLED with MANY happy knitters.

After a quick dinner with two of the best men - and best knitters - I know (Hey Lou & Doug!) I dashed off to the airport so I'd have a full FOUR HOURS to wait. As I told Lou, I can never REALLY rest until I get my bags checked and I'm at the gate.

I actually enjoyed just sitting and watching the luggage cards winding by as the sun set over Terminal B. It was poetic.

Exercise
Right before I left town Gerry took me to Target to look at a bike on sale for $99 - a 28" VERY simple 7-speed woman's bike. I succumbed. After all, I'm sure we can sell the used Sears bike on Craig's List, it has real retro-chic appeal...

I had been walking so much in St. Paul in the past few weeks, but in Atlanta I was NOT walking at all. So my stroll down to Grand Ave this afternoon left me more winded than I'm used to. Back into the saddle! Tomorrow Max wants to ride his bike to school, and I think I'll let him (if I go with him!)

Moving On
I have about 10 days here at home, then I'm off to Portland for my first visit to the - what's it's nickname? - Rose City? Beertown? They both sound pretty good to me...

I'll be teaching at Abundant Yarn and Knit, Purl - it should be FUN because I seldom teach on the West Coast and I've NEVER taught north Petaluma. Woo-hoo! And I've heard the beer is very nice.

I've been hearing from more and more shops, asking if I'm teaching 'again,' wanting to bring me out to do some classes. Yay! That feels good - it's always nice to get some engagements lined up for the coming months.

I may be coming down to Tennessee (Memphis and Nashville) sometime this Fall, and there's been some interest in my classes from Omaha and Rhode Island. I'm working on my collection of quarters from each state where I've taught - I'd like to collect all 50.

MN Retreat
In my monthly newsletter I asked who might be interested in a MN retreat, and the response was VERY good. We're still talking through the details, but it looks as though there WILL be at least one retreat in 2008 - yay!

Tentative dates are set for May 2-4, Oct 17-19 and Nov 14-16 and the location is the Medayto Rose Cottage on Green Lake in Spicer, MN.

It's not terribly far, just a little West of the Twin Cities.

If you're interested in more information on this, contact the Medayto Cottage and mention that you're interested in my retreat weekend, May 2-4.

Ol' Shep
Also in May, I'll be teaching at Shepherd's Harvest Festival (and also hanging around and signing books and making a general nuisance of myself...)

Please come by if you're in the area, or go to the website and sign up for a class (I'm not sure how many spaces are left - there are some great classes there taught by a lot of good folks!)

Click on the image to the right for a press release.

PARIS!
Yes, I've done it! I cashed in my frequent flier miles today for two tickets for Hannah and I to go to Paris.

We're both beside ourselves with glee. I figured in light of the upcoming merger of NWA and Delta I should go ahead - who KNOWS what the status of miles and awards will be...

This is the bonus from all those flights (and from taking advantage of every mile-enhancing opportunity I could find.) I use one of those the airline credit cards to grow my miles, but I pay off the card every month like clockwork. With all the traveling I do it works well for me.

I also stumbled on this promotion at NWA where you can gain an extra 2,000 miles per flight for $20 (I get 2,000 instead of the 1,000 mentioned on the webpage because I'm using my airline credit card to charge the $20.)

Another thing I do is before a trip is check to see if there are rental car deals at the airlines website which would garner more miles (there usually is - I got a nice car this weekend at a discount AND earned an extra 500 miles this trip to Atlanta, for instance.)

So little by little the miles have piled up over the past few years until I had enough to get two round trip coach tickets from Minneapolis to Paris, right before Hannah's birthday. This is the trip I've been promising her for 5 years. She's been such an amazing kid this year, she deserves this!

I wonder if there are any English speaking knitting shops or groups that would like to have a class while we're there...? SacrŽ Bleu!
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Saturday, April 12, 2008

Main-iac Street Yarn

The folks here are nuts - in the BEST possible way!

I'd forgotten how much I love this shop! The folks here are just crazy fun, happy, nice, and always make me feel like family.

This, on top of such a warm and dear reception at Whole Nine Yarns last night, I feel like it's old home week - I love being here!

WKY
Last night I showed up to Whole Nine Yarns late. Dang. There was an accident on 285 - dogs were involved (none were hurt, but they'd jumped out of one of the trucks and were having a wild time on the freeway! Woof!)

By the time I got to WKY it was 6:30, and everyone was SO patient. The group was about 23 or 24 strong, all excellent knitters and very patient with the fact that I started off teaching Combo and THEN finally eased into Cables and Lace (not really having the time to do much with the lace, dang...)

Well, it was a BIG class and even though I worked my through break doing small group instructions on cabling without a cable needle, I still wasn't able to get the lace thing going. It's entirely my fault for being late. They were so gracious and kind, though, and enjoyed the class so much. We covered a LOT of stuff, even though we didn't get as laced as we'd like...

The second class was the Universal Mitered Handbag - WOW, what a class! It's a fun bag, a lot of new techniques to pick up, but with such a large class it's hard to get all of the skills address for each and every person. I think I did pretty well with it, but a Friday night class can also be a bit of a hurdle for folks who have had a long week!

I love Whole Nine Yarns, though - Debbie and the staff are kind, the yarns are gorgeous and they made me feel like a QUEEN!

When class was over at 10:00, I had a long, long drive back to Watkinsville, where I am staying. I got back a little after midnight, after driving through a wicked (and astounding) thunderstorm with lots of driving rain and spray-up from the big trucks. Ick. I hope the doggies were home and dry by then...

This morning it was luxurious to wake up knowing that I was a mere mile down the street from my next teaching engagement - life is GOOD!

Main Street Yarn (aka, Barnette Shoals Yarn, I guess, since they've moved...)
Their new space is WONDERFUL! I could move in here! Seriously, they could have saved $$ on the hotel and I would have slept here with the shower upstairs and all the yarn down on the ground floor. Yay!

The Combo Class this morning was a BLAST! The folks were so excited to learn, so happy and SO fun! We laughed and laughed - and even got a nice amount of knitting done!

The afternoon Lace class was smaller, but I was able to REALLY get into the nuts and bolts of different decreases, how to memorize a chart, and ways to increase lace enjoyment. It's hard to do this with a larger class - it's rare I get a class that's just the right size full of folks who are eager to learn just the right stuff. Wonderful!

And now? Instead of going out to dinner I asked if we could just stay here at the yarn shop and order in, sit and eat and knit and laugh. So we will. I may even have a beer - if I can find one. Apparently Watkinsville is no longer dry - woo hoo!
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Friday, April 11, 2008

My Daily 2-Mile Walk

Yesterday the weather was so icky that I had Max ride the bus and I didn't take my normal walk. I also had a bit of a runny nose, which I didn't think was a cold, but I didn't want to take any chances.

All day long they'd threatened that we'd get snow - and I sort of laughed. I mean, I believed them - but I don't think I seriously believed them.

Believe, baby.

In the afternoon rain started and soon turned to sleet. Then to snow. Then back to sleet (I could hear it tapping on the window, it sounded like someone was tossing a handful of small beads down the stairs.)

The we had the thunder and lightening. Yikes! Hannah said she saw hail. Gerry didn't believe her. I did.

Since I had a 4:15 wake up, I went to bed as soon after dinner as I could. Morning STILL came too soon, and by the time I had my act together and all of the suitcases in the car it was almost 5:00. Luckily the rain/snow/sleet/hail had stopped and the roads weren't bad. According to the guy next to me on the plane we'd sneaked through a window in the storm.

This was my first time on AirTran - the first time I can remember - and I was pretty frustrated when I checked in. I was directed to use one of the computer kiosks to get my boarding pass, and while I was doing so 4 groups walked ahead of me, without boarding passes. I asked the customer service rep who'd directed me and she made a half-hearted effort to get some of the folks to go back and get their boarding passes, but I felt like an idiot.

25 minutes later I'm RUNNING for my plane - I was the last one on - and very frustrated. Perhaps it's living in the NY area for so long, but line-hopping just makes me so angry. Oooooh. As I was running to my gate I noticed several of the folks who'd scooted ahead of me, having a cup of coffee, chatting, taking pictures of each other in front of their gate. They had TONS of time.

Add to that the miles and miles that I walked in the Atlanta Airport to get to the baggage claim and I think I've done MORE than my daily 2 mile walk. But it's not as cool here as in MN - it's warm, in fact, and the trees are blossoming and lovely.

I drove this time - adding up the taxi costs vs. the parking costs, it just seemed that parking was a better choice. It will be SO good to have my own car waiting for me when I return late, late, late on Sunday.

It's noonish, I'm sitting at a Panera's (wifi!) to have lunch and I'll be dropping my bags up at my hotel in Watkinsville. Then back over to Whole Nine Yarns in Woodstock for my classes this afternoon and evening, and back to Watkinsville to bed. Tomorrow two classes at Main Street Yarns, and then Sunday I have 2 classes at Knitche before jetting back to MN!

I know I'll see two good friends on Sunday night before my flight - I'm hoping to see more! It's always SUCH a sense of relief to arrive at a location, get my rental car (a KIA this time) and be in control of my own travels. Yay, driving!

New Calendar
I've revamed my appearances page with a Google calendar - easier to update and to download - I'm working on a quick and dirty way to add links to the events so that folks can go immediately to the venue that's hosting me. Check it out!

TKGA
I'd been hesitant - actually said, "No." - to teaching in Portland at the TKGA show in September. I wasn't thrilled with the travel compensation - and had said so on my blog.

I'm gratified that the folks at TKGA seem very interested in trying to devise ways where they can compensate more fairly, but not put themselves in great financial risk if a class doesn't sell out.

So as we discuss this, and try to come up with creative ways to compensate ALL teachers so that everyone benefits from well-attended classes and shows, they asked me again if I'd teach. This time I said yes, and my hope is that together we'll be able to create some framework where teachers can teach without losing money, and venues will be able to pay their bills.

I feel that I've caved a bit, but I also feel that change only happens with compromise - so I'm hoping that this will put me in a position to effect some change. We'll see. I think it's VERY important to keep the discussion open on this, not to let it fall into the shadows. An open, honest discussion of fees, travel expenses and non-compete clauses will keep us working together, not dividing into groups that could be played against each other.
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Thursday, April 10, 2008

Doing Well, Doing Good

Yesterday was the Blood Drive at our temple, so Gerry and I volunteered to help shepherd the doners through the process, and had a very nice day.

Gerry doesn't get out as much as he'd like - for obvious reasons - and I had thought this might be a wonderful way for him to connect with some new folks. It was!

We were there for an extended period, everyone was so nice! Gerry handed numbers to folks when they arrived, I took the numbers before they went for their pre-draw interview. Teamwork!

It was Hebrew School day, so the we left a note for Hannah that when Max arrived home they should walk over to the temple together. We walk over quite a bit, but this was the first time they'd done the 6 block walk on their own. No big deal, but a sort of milestone (crossing 2 busy streets.)

Today I'm nursing a head cold, so no walk to Max's school. It's a grey, sad day anyway. It's supposed to snow, and I'm hoping that it won't affect my flight tomorrow morning at the crack of dawn out to Atlanta. I'm so looking forward to this trip - the folks down there are so warm and friendly, it will be like seeing a bunch of extended family!

I've had my head down, not blogging a lot, because I'm trying to get a few projects finished up and ready to roll. It's been a series of projects that I find myself tweaking mercilessly, lengthening, shortening, ripping out and reworking sections. The whole two steps forward and one step back method of design. It's periods like this when I find the details that make a sweater really fun to knit, but it's also during these periods that I pull out much of my hair. Soon I'll look like Gerry...
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Monday, April 07, 2008

Why I Love Folks in St. Paul

Update: Hattie, thank you SO much! I'll be in Atlanta this weekend, but I'll definitely come again! And we sold the bike! Huzzah!

This morning it's snowing. And the weather guy on the radio said, "We could have it worse, we're actually pretty lucky... They got 2 feet in other parts of the state!"

And I love that. The realism, the gratitude that we're not being dumped (with no hint of gloating), and the 'sit up straight'-ness of the tone of the announcer.

I'm not so nuts about the snow, but it's a testament to how much Max and I have come to love our school walk that we're gearing up to stroll that mile to Randolph Heights right now! And picking up a friend on the way! Hardy stock, these folks.

On Friday - when it was 60 degrees - we went to the batting cages (Gerry watched, and I could tell he was just chomping at the bit to hit a few, but not with his back or bones...)

And then Gerry found a bike on Craig's List for Hannah (unfortunately, she's outgrown the lovely Peugeot that we bought her last year...)

And now we're selling that same bike from last year, improved, on Craig's List!

So
we scooted on to Woodbridge and snapped up a Schwinn for the girl! Yahoo!

Gerry is working on getting my end-of-last-summer bike purchase (a used 3-speed Sears) up and running for me (I still mourn the theft of my Motobecane last June...) Maybe it will stop snowing by May and we can ride them?

Local Knitting
Last night I went over to a Dunn Bros Coffee where I'd been invited to join a group of knitters who meet at various places. The woman who asked me had invited me before, but I'd never been able to make it.

It was a very nice group - but there was definitely sort of a sense of, "Who IS this person ...?"

I'm afraid I didn't make matters better when I took it upon myself to show one woman why her stitches were twisted every other row. What can I say - I couldn't stop myself.

But it bordered on inappropriate. Thankfully the victim of my impromptu knitting lesson took my injection of expertise graciously! I stayed for a few hours, and it was a lovely place to be for a while.

Driving home I felt sad. It was such a nice group, but a new group (to me) and I'm not part of them. Yet.

Agent of Loneliness
And then the blueness in the car began to swamp me. This usually happens when I'm on the edge of getting a cold, and - voila! - I'm sniffling today.

I just feel so darned responsible for the stabs of loneliness that everyone in my family still feels. We're making friends, it's true, and the ones we're making are absolutely lovely.

But sometimes you make a friend and then they kind of fall off the face of the earth (life overtakes them) and you find yourself wondering, "What happened? Was it something I said? Something I did? My breath?"

We each of us in the family have had that experience this year - as does every human being. With experience you begin to realize that this is something that we all do to each other, this falling off the earth thing, and that makes us take these episodes in stride. It's hard, but it's perfectly understandable. It's easier to forgive something if you've made the same mistake yourself.

Thankfully both kids haven't had this happen much, but I sense that we're all sort of withdrawing - not being as outgoing as we'd been in New Jersey (where that outgoing-ness is met head on by other folks.) Atticus is lonely, that's for sure...

Perhaps it's the transient nature of living in the NYC area - folks there evolve into people who make friends more easily simply because they MUST. Swim or die.

Here so much social interaction is family driven, so many folks have friends from 10, 15, 25 years ago, that there just isn't the need to open up the circle for new people to jump in. So when we're invited over to a friend's house for a game party (as we were on Saturday), or when I'm asked to come and join knitters (like last night), or when Hannah gets a call for a sleepover, it means so much to us. Which is another reason I love folks in St. Paul. And Minneapolis, too...

Now we just have to find a play date for Atticus.

Translation to Work
This is akin to the feeling I get when I've taught at a venue, but I'm not invited back. Positive comments from past students run about 80 to 1 compared to negative comments (but then again, folks who write to me are a self selecting group...)

But when I'm not asked back to teach at TNNA or Yarnover or a similar venue, it makes me so sad. I thought I did a good job - the comments from folks were really positive...

The grown-up, not-getting-sick me knows that a LOT of factors go into a decision, and I'm invited back to places a LOT more than I'm not invited back. The me with tissues stuffed up both nostrils and a slight fever takes this and runs with it... Forgive my lapse into the pity pool. I'll dry off now.

And like a wasp in a window screen, the few nasty things from mostly anonymous sources find this tiny hole in my self confidence and squeeze through. I hate wasps.

But I love the folks in St. Paul.

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Saturday, April 05, 2008

Miracle-Hope

The hardest thing about this whole adventure (for me, at least) are the folks I've started calling Hyper-Hopers.

They're folks who say, "Gerry WILL beat this, the doctor's aren't always right! Don't lose hope!" They desperately NEED for me to jump on the Hope Train with them.

When I run into someone like this, I feel that I MUST hope for the same things they're hoping for, or I'm letting them down.

And it's not just plain, simple hope they want me to espouse (we have that in buckets full) but it's an irrational, hiding-from-the-truth, XTREME, HOPE.

I've come to the conclusion that because they don't entirely believe what they're saying, it's vital to them that I believe what they're saying - almost as if my sanction of their belief is what's most important. It's like asking me to carry their purse, or books, or belief structure for them.

They ask too much of folks who are just trying to get through a very rough patch in life.

They want to use Gerry's illness as some kind of morality play where a truly POSITIVE person will recover, while a less positive person will fade. Trial by cancer.

But I think - at the heart of it - they want us to do what they do every day - ignore mortality.

We used to be able to do this, we can't do it anymore. And it's not a bad thing - this understanding that life will have an end. The folks who tell us that "Gerry WILL beat this!" - how do they know?

Some have told me that "God will work a miracle, Gerry will be cured!" but that's too easy to say, and ignores the responsibility we each bear for our own lives.

There have been miracles. To my mind, the kids are miracles. The fact that Gerry and I found each other is miraculous. And the fact that we can laugh through this truly terrifying experience is also a miracle.

But I don't - not for one minute - believe that we'll go to the doctor tomorrow and he'll say, "You're totally clean, no cancer, all signs are perfect and you'll live to ripe old age..."

And, of course, that's the catch 22 - if I say out loud that I don't believe there will be a "Hallelujah! Cancer is Cured!" bona-fide miracle, it's a Gotcha! moment when some of the more fervent adherents to the 'miracle theory' might say - "See, THAT'S why there hasn't been a miracle! She didn't BELIEVE!"

Oh, goody, more crap for me to carry around!

This is so different from the many kind folks who simply say, "We'll be praying for you." - which is lovely. They don't need anything back from us - they don't need us to say, "Yes, you're right, we WILL beat this!" or anything like that. They don't even need me to say, "Thank you" - although I do - because they're offering this as a gift.

When I want to convey a sense of solidarity with sick friends, I generally say, "We'll be thinking of you..." because sometimes introducing the prayer thing can be a burden to the person who's ill. But if folks want to pray for us, then that's fine.

Just don't expect to pray with us. That's too personal.

So here are the truisms we've learned in this stage of the journey:
  1. Unrealistic Hope is expensive, and we're on a budget.
  2. When someone is in a very bad situation, don't tell them what YOU want them to hope for (ie, recovery), just hope they have a good day. That's enough.
  3. So far most of our doctors have been right - and miracle workers, too.

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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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