Monday, September 29, 2008

Still No Photos


The street on which sits our hotel





I can't really find a wonderful internet server, so I can't get photos up onto my blog. I'll post a buttload later, but right now I'll just blog!

After the haircut and meal on Saturday we ambled over by the Louvre, then on to the Eiffel Tower where we picked up a roasted chicken, some bread and fruit and chocolate and sat for a picnic below the tower. We sat, eating and talking, while it slowly glowed blue in the setting sun. Then at 8:00 pm it began sparkling with lights - so lovely!

Hannah said she wondered if the folks living nearby ever got upset at the lights. I wonder...

We strolled back across the river and took the Metro home - late - well, late for us!

Sunday
We had an appointment at 10:00 for a bike tour, so we high-tailed it to the Ile de la Cite to meet the other bike tour folks. I was a bit worried about the tiny wheeled, folding bikes, but they were extremely easy to ride and quite comfortable (LOVE that gel seat!)

We rode through the 3, 4th, around to the 5th, 6th and a teeny bit close to the 7th before we returned. On Sundays the highway along the seine on the right bank is closed to cars, bikes only, so we had a singular experience! It was such an amazing trip - I'm SO glad that Amy found out about it!

Back home on Sunday for some sitting and resting, then we went out for cake and wine to celebrate Amy's daughter's birthday. It was an exceptional evening - we had such a nice time.

Today after visiting La Chapelle and Le Conciergerie, we split up - Amy and her daughter doing some shopping in the Latin Quarter, Hannah and I walking a bit (ice cream on Ile de St. Louis!) and returning to the Frog & Rosbif for lunch and some wifi time. So many emails were waiting - oy!

And now we're off to Sacre Coure, maybe, or maybe we'll just shop around here. We're near La Drogerie and Mokubu, both of which I want to hit...
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Saturday, September 27, 2008

Nous Sommes Ici!

We're here!

Right now I'm in the Frog & Rosbif, where there's good beer and wifi and I'm on the phone via skype with Gerry. Yay! Life is good! The internets aren't as fast as I'd like, so I'll upload photos referenced in this post later...

I just took some lovely photos of my knit designs on Amy, Elle & Hannah (devious sub-plot of trip) and we had a magnificent brunch. Now Amy is very kindly taking the girls for a little stroll to give me an hour to answer emails, blog and get some work done. And call Gerry. He's fine, by the way... Thank heaven for Skype!

The hotel is quite wonderful! It's not the Ritz, of course, but for the cost (55 euros/night) it's lovely and clean, the folks are kind and it's centrally located. Thank you, French Girl, for the advice to stay at the Hotel Tiquetonne!

After dropping our bags we walked around, had some cafe (chocolat for the girls) and croissants, then walked some more. A visit to Sephora allowed me to get one of my favorite things, the 4-sided maincure buff, so now my nails are beautiful - stunning - with absolutely NO gummy polish. Here's a before and after of my ugly ridged nail and my lovely new smooth nail!

We mostly passed the time until we could return at noon when our rooms would be ready. We shopped on Rue Montorgueil for baguettes, a wonderful cheese plate and some fruit to have a nice lunch back in our room, then we crashed until 5:00pm. A well deserved nap!

I had read about Breizh Cafe in Clotilde's Edible Adventures in Paris, so we set out on a walk for some of the unsual crepes. Unfortunately, I got completely turned around and what should have been a 15 minute walk turned into an hour stroll (through beautiful streets at a lovely time of day, but still...)

I was JUST about ready to give up - I felt hopeless in the face of so many streets with changing names - streets with names longer than the street actually is! But as soon as I said, "Let's just give up..." there it was, in front of us!

We hadn't made a reservation - I didn't even think of it - but the hosts were SO gracious and kind! They had a table reserved in 45 minutes, did we think we could eat dinner in that time? I made her laugh when I said, Madame, nous somme American, n'est ce pas?

And the food was amazing. They do some unusual and quite delicious crepes, dinner crepes, dessert crepes, simple or complex. The folks next to us had a flambeau and I thanked them for "dinner and a show" Then spent 15 minutes explaining what I meant. Another neighbor killed an annoying fly and I said, "Formidable!" Which got a laugh - not because I sounded stupid, either!

My French has been holding up, folks have been very kind and we're making ourselves understood well. Many folks, of course, speak English - but it's clear that the small effort of trying to speak French makes a world of difference. It's the tiny things - the purchase of some hand sanitzer, understanding a price in verbal French, making change using coins, that make me feel all giggly inside.

I'm a little insufferable.

And today? With the photo shoot out of the way we're going to stroll down the Champs Elysee, then walk over to the Eiffel Tower and take the Metro home. That's the plan, which we are free to deviate from at any time! Tomorrow is the bike tour, and that's our only FIRM plan on this trip. At some point we'd love to get out to Versailles.

Elle got her hair cut at the shop across the street from the hotel, 3-D, and it looks SMASHING! She is so French! Of course, photos later...
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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Leaving Paradise

The bags are packed, the ride to the airport is arranged and appropriate knitting & crochet's been selected for the trip. We're ready. Hannah's upstairs, trying to sleep. I'm making her go to school tomorrow, but she'll leave early and we'll catch our plane at 3:45.

Direct flight, baby - then it's cafe au lait and croissants for everyone!

I was sitting in the back yard today - a glorious early Autumn day - enjoying myself and the sound of our push mower, trying to finish a quick project that's due on Oct 10.

The kids had a half day, they were pumped and Gerry was using the edge trimmer (which apparently makes men go all giddy.) so we were all living the high life.

As I sat in the sun, petting Shiloh and enjoying the fresh air, the thought seriously crossed my mind, "I hope it's as beautiful in Paris as it is here in St. Paul."

I'm certain it will be. We have walking tours and bike tours arranged, and a whole lot of just "hanging out" time when we're not expecting to do ANYTHING. Anyone know of any knitting groups I can crash while in town?

A friend recommended we stop by Monoprix and pick up some plates and cutlery so we can dine in our room when we're exhausted. I remembered that one of my best evenings in Paris in my misspent youth was drinking a box (!) of wine and eating cheese from the shop downstairs, all in the confort of my hotel room.

We're doing this trip on a shoestring - frequent flier miles for the airfare, our hotel (le Hotel Tiquetonne) is 59 euros a night (recommended by a friend - and the reviews are not bad) so anything we can do to save a little coin is right in keeping with the sentiment of the journey.

This has been the week to miss stuff.

On Monday Gerry forgot that he was supposed to be at the Mayo for his 3-month checkup. Oops. We rescheduled.

On Tuesday I forgot I was supposed to be in Minnetonka for a book signing. Oops. I arrived very late, the folks were lovely and actually hung around. Better than I deserve.

We also missed the season opener of Heroes. Why are we missing stuff?

I think I'm still getting over the travel of last week, and anticipating the travel of next week.

And anticipating yet another trip. I called Jan today and she's in bad shape. It's getting harder for her to hold her phone, to just be. A very hard phone call. I made her laugh a little, but it wasn't like being there.

Who knew I'd ever say to myself that I wish I weren't going to Paris this week.

When I get back I'll high-tail it down to Marietta to be with her - then a side trip to Memphis the weekend of the 10th for classes, and then back to WV.

I'm very glad I kept my teaching engagements down this Fall so I'd be able to run to her when ever she wanted me to - and here I am going to Paris right when I think she needs me the most.
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Monday, September 22, 2008

I would NEVER identify myself as a Conservative...

...but I have many friends who are conservative. Good friends, good people, people who - like me - want the best for our nation and our children.

My own political leanings are evident to those who know me, but I also hope that it's clear I have respect for those who may hold different views than mine. I lose respect for either side when lies enter the picture, and I'm partisan enough to say that I've seen much more truth-stretching on the Right.

I have conservative friends who are as angry as any fire-breathing Liberal at the direction our country is taking, and are more interested in solving the problem than lying about how we got here.

Below is an interesting article by Wick Allison, editor of D magazine (Dallas), and it gives me hope.

And as you read this article, please consider contacting your congress-person (House AND Senate) and let them know that if our country is going to bail out Wall Street, it cannot be a fast and dirty push.

It's important to act quickly, but prudently. To be frightened into giving a huge GIFT to Wall Street because of fear is walking into the trap that was so eloquently outlined by FDR:
"... the only thing we have to fear is fear itself - nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance."


Annie's wish list for the Wall Street Bail Out

  1. I'd like to see the strings on the golden parachutes of the Wall Street firms clipped.
  2. I think it's high time that the usurious interest rates charged by credit cards to be made illegal.
  3. I want firmer regulation for banks and financial institutions.
  4. I want healthcare for the uninsured to be part of the package.


A Conservative for Obama

My party has slipped its moorings.
It’s time for a true pragmatist to lead the country.

Leading Off By Wick Allison, Editor In Chief, D Magazine

THE MORE I LISTEN TO AND READ ABOUT “the most liberal member of the U.S. Senate,” the more I like him. Barack Obama strikes a chord with me like no political figure since Ronald Reagan. To explain why, I need to explain why I am a conservative and what it means to me.

In 1964, at the age of 16, I organized the Dallas County Youth for Goldwater. My senior thesis at the University of Texas was on the conservative intellectual revival in America. Twenty years later, I was invited by William F. Buckley Jr. to join the board of National Review. I later became its publisher.

Conservatism to me is less a political philosophy than a stance, a recognition of the fallibility of man and of man’s institutions. Conservatives respect the past not for its antiquity but because it represents, as G.K. Chesterton said, the democracy of the dead; it gives the benefit of the doubt to customs and laws tried and tested in the crucible of time. Conservatives are skeptical of abstract theories and utopian schemes, doubtful that government is wiser than its citizens, and always ready to test any political program against actual results.

Liberalism always seemed to me to be a system of “oughts.” We ought to do this or that because it’s the right thing to do, regardless of whether it works or not. It is a doctrine based on intentions, not results, on feeling good rather than doing good.

But today it is so-called conservatives who are cemented to political programs when they clearly don’t work. The Bush tax cuts—a solution for which there was no real problem and which he refused to end even when the nation went to war—led to huge deficit spending and a $3 trillion growth in the federal debt. Facing this, John McCain pumps his “conservative” credentials by proposing even bigger tax cuts. Meanwhile, a movement that once fought for limited government has presided over the greatest growth of government in our history. That is not conservatism; it is profligacy using conservatism as a mask.

Today it is conservatives, not liberals, who talk with alarming bellicosity about making the world “safe for democracy.” It is John McCain who says America’s job is to “defeat evil,” a theological expansion of the nation’s mission that would make George Washington cough out his wooden teeth.

This kind of conservatism, which is not conservative at all, has produced financial mismanagement, the waste of human lives, the loss of moral authority, and the wreckage of our economy that McCain now threatens to make worse.

Barack Obama is not my ideal candidate for president. (In fact, I made the maximum donation to John McCain during the primaries, when there was still hope he might come to his senses.) But I now see that Obama is almost the ideal candidate for this moment in American history. I disagree with him on many issues. But those don’t matter as much as what Obama offers, which is a deeply conservative view of the world. Nobody can read Obama’s books (which, it is worth noting, he wrote himself) or listen to him speak without realizing that this is a thoughtful, pragmatic, and prudent man. It gives me comfort just to think that after eight years of George W. Bush we will have a president who has actually read the Federalist Papers.

Most important, Obama will be a realist. I doubt he will taunt Russia, as McCain has, at the very moment when our national interest requires it as an ally. The crucial distinction in my mind is that, unlike John McCain, I am convinced he will not impulsively take us into another war unless American national interests are directly threatened.

“Every great cause,” Eric Hoffer wrote, “begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket.” As a cause, conservatism may be dead. But as a stance, as a way of making judgments in a complex and difficult world, I believe it is very much alive in the instincts and predispositions of a liberal named Barack Obama.

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Saturday, September 20, 2008

Very Sad

Gigi, our big, fat, wonderful black cat, had been missing since Thursday.

Today we found her under the hedge where she had passed away - from what we have no clue - but whatever it was it seems it was peaceful. There were no marks or signs of any trauma on her, she just looked as if she were asleep.

Obviously it's been a rough day. Both kids are beside themselves, so inconsolable, Max even turned down a playdate with several of his buds to stay home and mourn. Hannah just got home from an event at the Temple and she's already planning the funeral.

Poor little (okay, rather big) Gigi - we loved you so much! Hannah carried her around in her shirt for the first 3 months of her life, which is probably why she was such an amazingly loving and friendly kitty.

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posted by Annie at 21 Comments Links to this post

Do You Know Me?

Correction: As Amy pointed out in the comments, yes, my name IS along the edge of the page. I hadn't noticed that before - perhaps because it's in teeny-tiny type. I'm sorry I didn't see this before, but it doesn't materially change my original objection, but in retrospect it does seem an error for me to write about this subject with such passion.
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posted by Annie at 14 Comments Links to this post

Friday, September 19, 2008

Yaaaaaarrrrrr [n]

Avast!

So, me proud beauties, today is Talk Like A Pirate day, an occasion fer all ye land lubbers to dance to a hornpipe and knit like the proud sailing wenches ye all are!

Now, before you get the idea that I'm simply a hanger-on, a wanna-be, or some other hyphenated non-starter, please take a gander at the DEDICATION page of Romantic Hand Knits (or as I call it, Knit Like A Romantic Pirate)

To The Yarrn Pirates

Yes, I am a yarrn pirate. Avast. The group that I belonged to in NJ called ourselves the "Yarn Pirates" because one day, as we were sitting around staring at the ocean (seriously) during a weekend knitting retreat, we decided to try to talk with an Irish accent (one of our numbers husband was Irish, we were just trying to make her feel at home...)

But we didn't sound Irish. We sounded like PIRATES.

And thus, the name of our knitting group was born.

So as the rest of the world things of this as Talk Like A Pirate day, it will always be KNIT Like A Pirate Day to me.

Arrrrrgh.

Homeward Bound
After an amazing 2 days teaching at Stitch Cleveland/River Colors Yarn, I'm in the airport waiting for my flight.

I just spoke with Gerry, I have a prednisone prescription waiting for me at the drugstore, life is good.
I'm absolutely nuts to see the kids, especially little Maxie.

I'm sitting in the railway station airport
Got a ticket for my destination.
On a tour of one two-night stands
my suitcase and guitar my yarn in hand.
And ev'ry stop is neatly planned
for a poet knitter and a one-woman band LLC.

Ev'ry day's an endless stream
Of cigarettes iced coffees and knitting magazines.
And each town looks the same to me,
the movies yarn shops and the factories fiber farms
And ev'ry stranger's face I see reminds me that I long to be,
Homeward bound.

I wish I was,
Homeward bound,
Home where my thought's escaping,
Home where my music's kids are playing,
Home where my love lies waiting
Silently for me.
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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Two Macs & A Spinning Wheel

There's Liz Gipson of Handwoven, preparing for a segment and adding a rustic touch to Kim Werkers & my mac laptops. Life on the cyber frontier.

Today was a LONG day - a very good day - but a long, long, day...

After arriving in Cleveland last evening and being graciously met at the airport by Cathy Bothe of Signature Needles, we drove to the hotel where I collapsed after eating half a burger and blogging. Oh, and I got to watch Comedy Central (I missed you, Steven...)

Up this morning at 6:00 am (3:00 am PT, which I was still kind of experiencing) a shower, packing, makeup, and then off to the studio with Cathy and her kind husband Kent for our segment of Knitting Daily TV.

What a delight to get to spend all day with Eunny, Kim, Shay and Liz!

Cathy was SO funny! During her segment we watched backstage and she was absolutely adorable - a knitting Paula Deen. It was so gratifying to hear everyone who tried her needles today just RAVE about them. Yes, they're expensive, there's no doubt about that. But to my mind they're worth every penny.

And all who try them them are waiting with bated (baited?) breath for the much anticipated and whispered-about Signature circs. They can't come too soon for me!

After the segment Cathy and Kent took off for Wisconsin, I hung around the studio waiting for Shannon's segment to end. In the mean time I got myself roped into another segment about rolling a ball of yarn (would you like some eggs with your ham?) and THAT ended up going until 5:00.

Which left Shannon and I precious little time to get to River Color Yarns, adjacent to Stitch Cleveland, for my 6:00 class, but we just barely made it. I was sad that I didn't have more time to check out the yarn, but I'll have plenty of time tomorrow, and I fully intend to do a little stash addition...

The class was larger than I'd expected - 13 folks - all of them hard, hard workers. It was a beautiful evening in Cleveland, but a little warm in the shop, which made me feel low energy. Shannon insisted that I seemed very energetic, but I was feeling the burn.

After class Shannon drove me to my hotel, (#4 this week: Marriott, Hilton, Clarion & Radisson) and I discovered I was just in time for most of the local restaurants and room service to stop delivering.

However, I was able to get a nice stromboli from a local pizza place, I have my current mitered Seawool project in front of me, and life is beautiful.

I'm right across the hall from the pool, which I may enjoy tomorrow morning (if I get up at a half decent hour)

One of the weirdest things about staying in 4 hotels in a week is seeing how they differ as to TV stations. None had Bravo (damn!), three had MSNBC, two had Comedy Central, one had TRU TV.

And now you know the stations that I watch...

Tomorrow, 2 more classes. Friday, home.
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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Paris of Ohio

So here I am in Cleveland, it just feels like a brief 12 hours ago I was in Portland. Gee... I took a photo of Mt. Hood at sunrise.

I traveled via Minneapolis, Gerry did NOT rush to the airport for a romantic clinch before I got on my connecting flight. Obviously the magic is gone.

It's probably just as well, I hadn't looked in a mirror since I got up at 5:30 PT. And I'm not quite myself today.

It must be because I didn't have the exceptional OATMEAL breakfast this morning that I had yesterday at Carol's Corner Cafe in Vancouver, at 78th and St. Johns.


And that exceptional breakfast is probably why I felt like I did so well at Unraveled Fine Yarns in Vancouver last night! I gave a little talk, made some women knit "funny" and ended by making a few of them cry. A job well done.

Lisa, the owner of the shop, is such a wonderful person. I met her last year in France, and she's just such a kind, fair and downright decent person. I love visiting her. You should stop in and ask her to do her funky chicken...

I was so bushed last night, though, when I finished. Lisa VERY kindly saw that, and insisted that I go back to my hotel and rest. Which I did. I love bed.

Jan
As soon as I woke I had an email, followed by a call from my cousin, Jan.

Things are looking bad - another tumor is rearing its ugly head in her leg, and there are concerns that the cancer's moved to her brain (vertigo, etc.) She said that her doctor told her, "This cancer's growing faster than I can keep on top of it..."

We talked, we cried, I made her laugh and she called me a fart. Good times.

It was a bit of a relief that I was traveling today, I guess. I could be disconnected, not deal with folks, just absorb the news that [of course] I knew was coming.

Hospice is being discussed. I asked her if she wanted me to come down immediately, but she'd rather I wait a little and get done right now what needs to be done (classes, Knitting Daily appearance, etc.)

And next week - bonjour!
Either Paris is happening at the perfect time, or the worst time. Or both. Here's something my friend sent me to consider for us to do with the girls on the trip - sounds perfect!

Now I'm going to eat my burger and sleep until I have to get up and look halfway decent tomorrow. Heaven help me.
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posted by Annie at 6 Comments Links to this post

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Too Tired To Post

This will be short - I'm tired and sort of distracted.

I just finished teaching 4 classes in 2 days; 2 big classes, 1 sort of big class and one intimate class. I'm so tired, just ragged, tired-er than I usually am.

It's probably because it's been a while since I've taught, and the event was at the Oregon Convention Center, which is a hard nut to crack as far as getting around without walking a very long way. Walking on that cement, standing around, it takes a toll.

Before my second class today I felt very tired, head-achy, and just blah. So I took a half hour nap and I felt tremendously better. Yay, naps! Yay sofa in front of the ladies room!

And the Distractions
I'm worried.

CAP, Crazy Aunt Purl, hasn't posted since the 12th and although she switched from the train to the bus, and she's not on the list (what a list) of folks who were victims of that horrible commuter rail crash in LA, I find myself being silly worried that she hasn't checked in yet. Write a blog post, girl!

My mother would call this "borrowing trouble" - it might be. Perhaps it's because I'm away from home now and missing Gerry and the kids, but I SO wish CAP would get a blog post going. Oy.

Adding to my general angst, as my flight was just leaving the gate my cell phone went off and, of course, I had to turn it off because I was sitting right across from the flight attendant.

I found out later the call was from Max's school, he'd had a run in with a car in an alley - he's okay! - on the way to school (I'm not clear on the facts, but apparently the car was coming out of a blind alley and was creeping along, very slow.) He was scratched up and needed mom. But mom was on a plane with her cell phone turned off.

Gerry was tracked down (he was at the Post Office) and took Max to the dentist to check on a loose tooth (baby tooth, no big deal) and bruised face with cuts inside his mouth. I spoke to them after the doctor, everything is fine, Max sounded VERY good (and, oddly, a little excited) but I wish I were there.

Maybe I can get CAP to go visit Max?

So now I'm in Vancouver, WA, happily settled into the Hilton and I've just finished a Burgerville dinner. I can sleep in tomorrow, and I think I will. I already have my breakfast destination chosen, oatmeal - baby! Or maybe I'll just go across the river to the Marriott for breakfast again, and see if anyone's found the glasses that I lost. I swear, I feel all over the place today.

I would give a good chunk of change, though, to have Maxie settled in bed next to me with one of his books, and a phone call from Laurie. You've got my number, baby, use it!
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Friday, September 12, 2008

Are you registered?

It's getting close - here's a pretty simple way to see if you're registered and to GET yourself registered to vote if you're not!
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Thursday, September 11, 2008

Either I'm getting old...

... or my knees and legs are just getting tired.

It's probably residual from the bike thing last weekend, and the fact that I [stupidly] wore the Evil Birks* this past week when I went to get my pedicure. I'm going to throw them away when I get home.

I'm like Homer Simpson with that week old sandwich. Oh, birkenstocks, I can't stay mad at you...

The flight was actually very nice, lots of room and I got a nice amount of knitting done. As I was standing up to grab my bag my knee went OUT and the walk to the baggage claim was pretty awful. But I was able to do some stretching down by the luggage conveyor (to the amusement of many fellow travelers) and my leg reverted to its previous tamed state.

The luggage actually wasn't that much of a bear to handle, it all went on a cart pretty well, and I also packed one of those fold-able, wheeled carriers so I can get the big box of books into the convention center tomorrow.

On to the hotel where I tried to check in, but no rooms yet (I'd requested early check in, but they said there'd be nothing until later) so I drove over the Columbia to McMenamins for a nice lunch, then to Mon Ami's for a nice crepe, and to Unraveled for a nice circular needle. It was all very nice. When I went back to the hotel I wasn't nuts about the first room they gave me (it overlooked the highway and a construction site) so they were kind enough to move me so I had a nicer vew.

Nine, one, oh - you know...
It was odd to fly today - 911 - of course no one talked about it, mentioned it, but I'm sure we were all very aware of it.

On MSNBC they're running the TODAY show from 9/11/01. I remember sitting in my home office, watching it, Gerry hovering over my shoulder and Hannah and Max upstairs asleep. Now here I am, sitting and working on my computer and watching the same thing again - so surreal - I'm so nauseus all over again.

We lost TV soon after the second plane hit, we didn't have cable and when the antenna went down at WTC2 a lot of folks lost their reception. I know it's minor, but turning on that TV and getting nothing but static was so surreal, like a scene in every end-of-the-world movie.

Strolling By The River
I escaped the 911-thon and went for a walk this evening along the Columbia, I'm right on the river and watched the sunset reflect off of Mt. Hood - very lovely. I do wish I had my bike, it would be fun to ride around here.

I'm going to bury myself in a biography of Queen Victoria's daughters - I don't want to think about recent history tonight.


*The management does not intend to implicate every pair of birkenstocks, just the one pair that I wore WAY too long, evidently compressing them and turning them into an instrument of torture when worn by my particular feet. Any resemblance to any other pair of evil birks, real or imaginary, is entirely unintentional. I feel your pain.
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posted by Annie at 13 Comments Links to this post

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

They're HEERE!

I picked up Knit With Courage today (all 800 pounds of them) from the printer, they're here and they're BEAUTIFUL! And they're taking up their own private little corner of my literary warehouse, aka my garage. And it's a one car garage. And we put our car in it.

We might as well just MAKE a garage out of the boxes of books at this point...

Several hundred books have already shipped, I have more orders to get to tomorrow (or, rather, Gerry will pack the up for me tomorrow and we'll have the PO come and pick them up if he doesn't feel like lugging them to the PO) and I have 48 pounds of books packed in a box to take with me to Portland tomorrow.

When I teach I usually travel with 3 bags, one for clothes, one for samples, one for knitting stuff. Northwest is now charging $15 for the first bag, $25 for the second, and the third is my carry on. So my packing is a challenge since I'll be away a full week, I have 7 classes to teach, a book signing AND a TV appearance. I'm counting on Shannon to let me use her washer when I get to Cleveland...

I'm taking one BIG suitcase with clothes and a few sample garments, a big box full of books for the TKGA show, and my carry on with abbreviated knitting stuff and - guess what? - more books. I'll ship even more books out to Cleveland so they'll be waiting there for me when I arrive.

In addition to picking up the books today, I also rode my bike to a new nail salon quite nearby and had one of the absolute BEST manicure/pedicures I've ever had - really great! If you're in St. Paul and you're looking for a good $40 mani/pedi, Happy Nails is the place. My only complaint was that the music was a little loud, but I had my headphones on listening to a history of 14th Century France, so I really didn't care.

I'm not sure if I'm going to be one of those competitive bike folks, I enjoyed the bike tour last weekend, and I LOVE riding my bike to the local yarn shops and on errands, but I'm not a very competitive person - it takes a lot of the joy out of some things for me. Actually, I can be VERY competitive when it comes to Trivial Pursuit, so much so that I avoid the game because I can become absolutely terrifying. But it's my deep, dark, secret pleasure...

Local Signage
I'm so excited, I found out today that my PR person's scheduled a book signing at Common Grounds Bookstore in the Cathedral Hill section of St. Paul. I think I'll ride my bike. Maybe local celeb GK will be there...?

and, ironies of ironies, just as I finished the last sentence Max came bursting into the house with the announcement that "The woman who writes the Warriors books is going to be at Red Balloon tonight!!" - which just happens to be 1/2 mile from our house...

So I abandoned any thoughts of packing, at least for the time being, and ran with Max down to the bookstore where we caught the tail end of Victoria Holmes (one of the three women who write the books, all under the name, Erin Hunter) giving a talk about writing the books.

Max was #82 in line, but he got his books signed, bought a new one, and slightly flabbergasted Ms. Holmes by asking, very politely, "Is it okay if I have my picture taken with you?" She said he was very polite, and I was insanely proud.

Brag Alert: Max is a very thoughtful boy, and does seem aware of the concept of personal space, but I never would have thought - given his excitement - that he'd think to stop and ask permission to take a photo. Kvell...
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Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Shape is OUT!

FINALLY!

I just finished the shaping chapter and it's off on the way to the editor. All of the illustrations, etc., are also finished, sent off with the chapter (I do raw illustrations for their art folks to reinterpret in the style of the book) and that was a hard birth, baby!

I don't know why it took me so long to get my thoughts gathered for this piece. I've been working on notes and the small drawings for it for weeks, but just didn't seem able to get it down on paper. Or, rather, on keyboard.

In the middle of all the angst received a lovely piece of working jewelry from two friends, Darcy & Leslie, a cable needle necklace.
And I spent far too much time playing with it!

Of course, I don't use cable needles - but it's a lovely piece to wear. I'm curious to see if the TSA folks give me a hard time as I go through security...

Portland
I need to pack, to get my seat assignment tomorrow morning and I'll be taking off on Thursday. Tomorrow I'll treat myself to a manicure
(not really a luxury as I'm teaching all weekend and into next week!) and get ready for my trip to Oregon.

I'll be teaching at TKGA over the weekend
September 12
Booksigning,
9/12/2008 3:00 pm, booth 406 Abundant Yarn

September 13 - 14
Combination Knitting
FULL 9/13/2008 9:00 AM
Embellishments Still Room 9/13/2008 2:00 PM
Love your Lace! Almost Full! 9/14/2008 9:00 AM
Cable Mania Few Spots Left (Look Mom, No Needle!) 9/14/2008 2:00 PM
And at Unraveled Fine Yarns in Vancouver, WA on Monday
September 15
Increases & Decreases
9/15/2008 1:00 PM
Knit with Courage Lecture FULL 9/15/2008 7:00 PM
Then on Tuesday I fly to Cleveland to tape a segment of Knitting Daily TV with Cathy from Signature Needles and teach a few classes at my friend Shannon Okey's studio, Stitch Cleveland.
Combination Knitting 9/17/2008 7:00 PM
Combination Knitting 9/18/2008 2:00 PM
Universal Mitered Bag / Modular Knitting 9/18/2008 7:00
Now that my article is done, I can settle into to finish the setups for the segment. I'm demonstrating colorwork using the new Signature dpn's, and the project I'll be demonstrating with are some fingerless mitts worked up in either sock weight or worsted weight yarn. I wanted to work something up that wasn't tied to any one yarn, and could be universal, able to be knit up in a few different weights.

For the demonstration I wanted to find a beautiful, heavy worsted that would look lovely on TV and also show the stitches well, and I knew just where to find it!

I use my friend London's hand spun yarn in my classes for just this reason, so I asked her if I could use some of her yarn in the segment. She's branching out, spinning more and more (and dyeing a lot of new stuff, too) and sells her stuff on etsy.

I just love her colors, they make me giddy happy!
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Sunday, September 07, 2008

17 miles!

I don't think I've felt this proud of myself since I pulled enough Franćais out of my bee-hind to have a lucid conversation with a clerk in a camera shop in France.

But THIS is a different kind of pride - mostly physical - but also emotional and even spiritual. I feel like I could do anything.

I got up at 6:45 and left the house at 7:30, checking the weather on the way out and hoping the rain would hold off. I was SO nervous, butterflies all over every internal organ, feeling giddy and silly and a little scared.

I rode the 2 miles to St. Thomas, met up with my friend Amy (the baker of my amazing birthday cheesecake) and after registering and buying a new helmet [on sale!] and biking gloves [purely a vanity purchase] I am SO hotsy totsy looking, baby!

It's actually a pretty easy course, lots of downhill and coasting. Amy and I chatted the whole way - she's very athletic and could have done the course in half the time it took me - but she very kindly stayed with me, making it a more fun experience.

It's humid enough today that my breathing sucked eggs, so on several hills I had to get up and push the bike (I did take advantage of every rest stop, Janice, and that made all the difference!)

Yesterday it was much drier, I have a feeling yesterday I could have done it with less wheezing and puffing, but the coming rain kept the morning so beautiful and cool.

And WHAT beauty! The Mississippi river, glimpses of it between trees, was dark and smooth. I saw kayakers and fishers, everyone enjoying an unexpectedly lovely Sunday morning.

Past the Science Center I had to get off and walk again, stupid breathing. Finally I was back on my bike just in time to ride past my pulmonologist's office, Hey Doc!

Ramsey Hill was a bear, but Amy was waiting for me at the top, at another rest stop, with water and baked goods and music.

The rest stops were so wonderful - SO welcomed - and made the whole thing feel like a party!

The last 3 miles down Summit were familiar territory, my own turf, and who should be waiting for me at Lex and Summit but Gerry and Hannah, taking pictures and cheering me on!

One last incline at Sydicate, then downhill the rest of the way. I called Gerry and he picked me up as the rain was just beginning to fall, and I was too exhausted to ride all that way uphill.

Now I'm home, showered, and relaxing while I watch Thomas a Becket meet his grisly end on TMC. If he had a bike, he could have gotten away.

Pictures tomorrow, I'm too tired and too busy basking to dowload them from my cell phone right now.

ADDENDUM
As great as my bike ride was, the REAL excitement was happening down in Marietta with my cousin. Here's the message from Jan that was waiting for me when I woke up from a nap:
I've had a very busy day, the physical therapist came in and asked me how long it had been since I sat on the edge of the bed and I said, "Oh, at least 6 weeks..."

So he got my back brace on me and... I sat on the edge of the bed for 11 minutes!

For the first 5 minutes I just bawled, it had been so long since anyone had worked with me and got me to do anything. It was a really nice experience, everyone was crying..."
Yes, I rode 17 miles today, and it was exciting, but I don't think it matches the excitement of actually looking out a window - not flat on your back - but sitting up for the first time in 6 weeks.

Jan's spine has pockets of cancer, and her muscles are weak. The back brace helps immensely, but nothing beats the feeling of support she got from her PT guy today.

I'm so grateful to him, and so proud of her I could burst!

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Saturday, September 06, 2008

The Plunge
or, My First Bike Challenge

A few days ago I heard an ad for the St. Paul Classic Bike Tour, and I think I'm going to do it...

Here's the route (I'm doing the short, 15 mile route - the website says that folks can do that, THEN do the 30 mile for a full 45 mile day. Uh, no. Or, rather, not yet...):

I asked the kids if they'd like to go - it's not a race, everyone goes at their own pace and there are supposed to be wonderful rest stops along the way.

Hannah isn't too thrilled to accompany me, and I don't want to force her when I'm not even sure I can do it myself!

Max would love to do it, and he could, but he has Hebrew School at 10:30. I'm planning on starting at 8:00, and we might finish in plenty of time for him to go to HS, but I hate to risk him missing in case it takes us longer than expected... I'm estimating I can do it in 2 hours, going at my own slow, asthmatic pace.

However, my friend, Amy (who will be accompanying Hannah and me to Paris in September along with her daughter) is going to do the tour with me. IF it doesn't rain. I'm not riding in the rain, I just don't have time to get a chill and a cold...

After the ride we're going out to a friends for brunch, so I can drown my sore knees in mimosas...

To prepare I got up today and did a ride. I went down Summit to the Mississippi, then back on Princeton (with a LOT of huffing, puffing and eventually walking my bike up some hills....) and then over to St. Clair for the final push.

I only rode about 7 miles total this morning, less than half of what I will be doing tomorrow.

But the good news is that I feel great and I'm pretty darn sure I can do all 15 miles. I know to established bikers I must sound like a terrible neophyte, but 15 miles at one time is a big deal for me.

Wish me luck, and pray for sunshine! If you live in St. Paul, look for me along the route!

On the way back I stopped at a neighbor's garage sale and picked up some books and a lamp and a pair of shoes for Hannah. We chatted, her son is a good friend of Max, and I had such a warm feeling knowing that I have a good friend just a few doors away - someone close to my age, with kids my age. Good all around.

And it's only 9:30! And, since I am feeling so full of vinegar, I'm taking Atticus for a walk so he can have a good day, too!
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Friday, September 05, 2008

Autumn Biking

Yesterday I convinced Hannah that she should ride to school (I bribed her with the promise of Jamba Juice after classes) so we huffed and puffed and made it by the bell!

Today she missed her bus, so when I told her, "Well, we'll just have to ride!" the look on her face was a cross between horror, hatred and pure desperation. When she realized I was serious she gamely put on her helmet, pulled her bike off the porch and we took off for a ride to her Jr. High.

We made it before the bell (yay!) and I feel very satisfied that SHE knows that she has the power to get her butt to school in 15 minutes if she needs to. So far so good on the Jr. High front...

We were talking about bikes yesterday, she wondered who invented them and was surprised when I said they hadn't really been around THAT long - just a little bit longer than the car.

The feeling of power and freedom - independence - that I feel when I ride a bike are amazing, it must have been so intoxicating for the first bicyling women, that sense of control.
"Bicycling has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world. I stand and rejoice every time I see a woman ride by on a wheel.
It gives women a feeling of freedom and self-reliance." – Susan B. Anthony (1896)
I love my bike.

Color Fast
I haven't been writing about my knitting much because I've been struggling with the same *&#(@ colorwork project - a very small one - for over a week now. It's slow going, but when it works it will be - okay. I'm making a set of wrist warmers on dpns showing a few simple colorwork techniques for Knitting Daily TV, I'll be shooting it in Cleveland on 9/16.

While I'm in Cleveland I'll be teaching some classes at Stitch Cleveland on 9/16 & 9/17 (info's not posted yet, but I'll do an evening and daytime Combo class, and an evening Mitered Bag class) and hopefully doing some book signings!

Speaking of the books, I drove over to the printer yesterday and okay'd the proof - it was terribly exciting! I've okay'd proofs before, but this felt different - so special - and the book is going to look AMAZING! I really like my printer, Bookmobile. They do great work, they're at a good price point, and I can drive over and pick up my books (thus saving those extremely high shipping costs!)

Today if life goes well I will get a bit further on the shaping article (yes, still not done...) and I'll get the colorwork conquered. Small bites, one at a time!
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Wednesday, September 03, 2008

It's my Birthday
...and I'll buy if I want to!

I just bought myself a book for my birthday, woo! I'm fascinated by the Tarim Basin, the silk road and the early nomads, so when this popped up in my email today from Amazon I clicked and I bought. Happy birthday to me!

I also got up early and rode my bike down to Cafe Latte to meet Rachel Maddow (she signed my shirt!) and her her speak. She starts her new show on MSNBC on Monday, it was a delight to meet her in person! I think I confused her ...

This evening Gerry's volunteering again (it gets him out and allows him to contemplate if he really could do a full time job again) so he won't be around for dinner.

So he's taking me to lunch today at the Happy Gnome, it's a gorgeous day today (sunny & 71 with a hint of Autumn crispness) and I may just get myself a haircut. And sit outside and knit. Is there a better day than that?
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Tuesday, September 02, 2008

I leave and all hell breaks loose

I went to the protest yesterday in front of the state capital here in St. Paul - I rode my bike and had a very nice time.

I chatted with folks, had a coke, walked around and sat in the shade under a tree. There were lots of kids and very peaceful folks, I was enjoying myself immensely.

I began to get hot and tired, though - it was very hot here yesterday - and didn't relish a long bike ride home while exhausted. I figured it was enough to attend the rally, I really didn't need to participate in the march to the Xcel center.

So I rode/pushed my bike up the hill by St. Paul's Cathedral, and just happened to pass a group of black-clad, masked folks (they looked like kids pretending to be anarchists)

I snapped a few shots of them as they strolled/ran past, surrounded with happy families and lots of kids. I loved this shot, "Disabled anarchist on the go!"

Then I rode home, stopping at our food coop for some groceries and The Yarnery for a ball of yarn.

I didn't think much more about the march except to reflect on how nice everyone seemed, and what a good time I'd had (and how proud/tired I was after my 6.8 mile bike ride)

Gerry was volunteering for www.freepress.net doing sound and teleprompter at the convention last night, and called to tell me that Amy Goodman at Democracy Now had been arrested.

That was the first hint I had that any violence had broken out. The more I read, the more I think the catalyst may have been the masked group that I passed, in all the shots I've seen of folks throwing things they've been dressed like that group.

I know that everyone I'd met had been passionate, but very peaceful.

This group had a different vibe (but not alarming) and I wasn't scared or anything when I saw them.

But they did seem very pumped up, enervated, a different feeling from the rest of the group back at the capital. I'm not saying they were wrong or right (I wasn't there) but - as we all know - in heightened tension situations, it's possible for provocative behavior to get out of hand.

Did that happen here? I don't know. I was struck by how friendly, restrained and patient the police had been (riding around on bikes, chatting with folks) in the early part of the march.

But it also seems that 284 folks being arrested is a bit insane, given the peaceable spirit of the rally before the march. Oh, and I disagree that there were only 10,000 - I know there weren't 50,000, but there were many more than 10,000.

See what happens when I leave you kids alone?
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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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