Sunday, April 29, 2007

Home (& Gone Tomorrow)

I'm back in St. Paul (what a beautiful sight that is, coming into the city from the east on 94 in the evening!) and I have about 9 hours to do some laundry, get some rest, then fly out to Detroit tomorrow.

On Wisconsin!
I had the BEST time at the Midwest Masters in Neenah! Barb & Linda at Yarns By Design did such a wonderful job of keeping everyone happy, fed and busy! And they have a really lovely and well stocked yarn shop, too! We need to start calling it Midwest Mistresses, though, I didn't see ONE man there...

I'd never been to this event before, but now that I'm a midwesterner it just seemed fitting - and it was FUN!

My classes were SO good - I feel like the wire class went on so long, and I worked the poor students like sweatshop workers, but I think everyone left with a good understanding of different types of wire and what they can do with it. For the class members, here's a link to the pattern we started in class...

My classes today were so great - really excellent classes! The combination class was as enlightening for me as for the students - I always learn so much from my classes, seeing the way that students do things, figuring out new things from watching so many folks knit... As usual, I ended with the Cabling Without a Cable Needle and it was so great. I love ending on a high note!

The lace class was far more advanced than I've had before for a lace class, so I was able to really go into detail on some nuances about left and right decreases that I hadn't been able to work into previous lace classes. It was a testament to the caliber of the students at the weekend - all were SO good, with a great amount of security and confidence about their work - wonderful to see!

One of the best parts of the weekend was spending some (too brief!) time with other knit teachers. Joan McGowan-Michael,
Kathleen Power Johnson & Susan Lazear - and then having a nice long lunch with Joan today. So great! Joan's new book is absolutely EXQUISITE, and I'm kicking myself for not getting one and having her sign it today!

Last night was the banquet - I'm usually so tired that I'd beg off events like that, but I went down to the ballroom last night and was recruited to emcee the Show & Tell and call out names for the door prizes. It was a blast - and I'm enough of a ham that I'll generally say, "YES!" when someone asks me if I want to get up in front of a crowd.

I used to be sort of ashamed of that - thinking I really should be more retiring - but dang it, I am what I am. I get a lot of my energy from other folks, it's just the way I'm made, and I was thinking as I drove home that I'm SO lucky I've carved a career for myself where I get to roll that exhibitionism along with my love of knitting and technique.

Scene of the Crime
Tomorrow my flight for Detroit's in the morning, I'll get in late afternoon (changing planes - somewhere...) and then have dinner with my friend Lisa. It will be SO great to see her again!

Drew's flying in too, and we'll be doing a segment of Needle Arts Studio together on Tuesday - it's good to be so tired, I can't be nervous! Never having taped this show before, I don't know what to expect (but I'm prepared for lots of waiting with LOTS of knitting!)

After the show's finished taping I'll drive down to Lambertville to teach at Vintage Yarns. How odd that will be for me! I grew up in Toledo - when my dad lost his business when I was 12 we had to move to Temperance, MI (right next to Lambertville) for a couple of years and it was pure hell as far as the high school angst went.

I had some friends, but mostly I was the oddball red-headed kid, butt of all jokes and not able to salvage my self-esteem with the honors math and French classes I'd been taking at my old school district in Toledo. That was the year that I became a teen runaway. Ah, my Linda Blair period. Jeeze, that sucked.

So back I go - to the scene of the crime - wondering how it will feel to drive around an area where I was so desperately unhappy. I was 14, life was rough, my dad was , well, incredibly depressed and self medicating and I just wanted to be AWAY. Being a teen in 1970's Toledo was a hard place to be.

I'll be back home on Wed evening - back home! And not leaving again until TNNA in June. I do, however, have to finish my current project (the sweater I'm doing in Lorna's Laces for the TNNA fashion show) by Friday. It looks very nice and as soon as it's premiered at the show (that sounds hoity-toity, doesn't it...) I'll have the pattern up and for sale on my website.


Gerry looked good when I got home - he says he felt good all day, and went grocery shopping with the kids. His feet are really swollen, though, so we have to check on that before I leave tomorrow. The doctor told him that he's gained 10 lbs this week. Now THAT'S more like it! Thanks again for all of you good thoughts and kind comments!

Friday, April 27, 2007

Beautiful Things

The pot Hannah made me at school


The Wisconsin Landscape (I got a little lost today...)



The view from my hotel room of Nenah, WI

The view inside my hotel room of my BIG NIGHT!

I'm in Neenah, I've had TWO beers and a chicken sandwich, and I'm going to knit myself into oblivion. Life is good.

Oh, and as I mentioned on the comments from yesterday, I think I probably will reverse the size of the laundry room / bathroom to add more space. Gerry's not in a wheelchair, but for so many reasons it makes sense. I'm pondering...

Thursday, April 26, 2007

A Day of Frustrations, a Weekend of Fun

Frustration #1
I failed the Minnesota Written Driving Test

I can retake it tomorrow. Tomorrow is another day - and I'll sleep with the exam booklet.

When I told Gerry I failed we had this little exchange:

G - I've
never failed a test.
A - Shut up.

G - Not a written driving test, at least.

A - Shut UP!

G - No, now that I think of it, I haven't even failed the
driving portion of any test.
A -
Oh - just shut up.

Always useful, the yelling. Actually, we were both amused, it was a funny exchange. A nice release.


Frustration #2

Chasing down money for teaching is so annoying.


Fighting with a venue over expenses they owe me
(in addition to teaching fees reaching back over 3 months) is aggravating.

Almost more frustrating is trying to convince a venue that if they want to hire me to teach from 9-5 one day, AND from 2-5 the next day, they MUST pay for 2 nights accommodation (they only want to pay for one - am I supposed to sleep in my car the night before my first night of teaching?)

THIS is when I feel the stress. So much of the stuff I do around the house - the painting, the putting up shelves, laundry, dishes, driving folks around, shopping - all of that stuff is a kind of stress release.

Work is hard, but it's work. There's a certain relief in knowing what I have to do, and doing it.
Dealing with folks who turn themselves inside out to find arguments not to pay me, I'm on shaky ground there, and it upsets me more than it should.

This is by far the EXCEPTION to the rule - 99% of the time venues are SO great, they treat me wonderfully, I do well for them and teach great classes and we're all happy.


It's so frustrating when I knock my brains out for a venue, teach a lot of classes, have a lot of happy students, but the venue refuses to pay legitimate expenses and is 3 months late with teaching fees (I was told today, "Our accountant is out, the check has just been printed." Not even in the mail yet.)

I can't go into the details, but I won't be working with this organization again - this kind of grief I can live without.

Standing up for ourselves as knit teachers and designers is not easy - caving would be MUCH simpler. But I don't want to sow those seeds. I'm in this for the long haul, and this is how I earn my mortgage.

Frustration #3
Wire that I've ordered for a class this weekend is late in arriving - this frustration is MY fault - so I looked up where to find Artistic Wire in the area. However, when I drove to the art shop it was closed. That was also something I also could have remedied by calling ahead. Clear thinking isn't my strong suit today.

However, around the corner was a Michaels so I did get some wire (not the kind I'd like, but
it will do) and was able to run a few errands while spending some time with Hannah, who had a half day today. A frustration turned into a good thing.

FABulousness!
Making all of this up was a nice, long chat with Laurie this morning - I love her. She's an amazing writer and soon she'll be so famous she won't even admit that she knows me. (Ha - who will be the stalker then, Ms. Laurie??)

I'm dying to read her book - I'm told I'm mentioned in it (heavens I hope it's not the drunken stupor incident - oops, now it's public record!) I really wish I would be in NY when she's going to be there in June - instead I'll be at...

TNNA!
All of my classes sold out quickly, which makes me feel so good. I love to teach - I hate the messy money part - and I'm SO excited about TNNA. I'm also really looking forward to Midwest Masters this weekend, teaching in Wisconsin has been such a blast, and this proves to be just as much fun.

BIKES!
The Twin Cities are nothing if not bike friendly! I used to ride a Motobecane all over New Brunswick when I was in grad school, and I was never in better shape. I even briefly wore a size 10 (for about 30 minutes) and I LOVED flying around on my white bike. But, alas, it was stolen and I was bereft.

Yesterday I looked up bikes on Craigs' List and found 2 - a Peugeot for Hannah,and a Motobecane for me. It's very similar to my last one, a little nicer (and a cool blue color!) and Gerry's amused himself for a good part of the afternoon checking out both bikes and discovering what has to be fixed on both of them. It's good brain and hand work, it takes some muscle, but it's not lifting anything heavy - perfect!

Walker
A dear, dear friend who lives nearby offered us the loan of a walker, which we'll take up. It's the groovy kind with a seat, so ostensibly Gerry could sit in the walker for nice long trips to the park or museum while the kids help him along. If he wants to walk, then one of the kids could ride along if he feels self-conscious just pushing himself. It's easy to pooh-pooh the pride angle, how awful it feels to be mistaken for someone older and feeble, but keeping a good mental picture of ourselves is vital to recover, I think. This walker straddles the line between really necessary, and sort of groovy (it's metallic green) Vroom!

Addition
I've mentioned that we need to add an addition to our kitchen. Our plan is to get the wall demolished, get the space roughed in (with toilet and shower and laundry hookups) and then do the finishing on our own time.

We need a toilet, and we need it sooner rather than later. Eventually the kitchen will happen. Here is a rough draft of my dream of the layout of the new area. Tiny bathroom, and laundry off the kitchen - hooah!

Now we have to coordinate with our contractor and get going. He's getting busy - I hope we don't have to find another. I really like him.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Long Distance Lovin'

Remember this yarn I bought in Buffalo when I was staying with my friend, Jill? The colorful ribbon that will be featured in Romantic Hand Knits (Potter Craft - out this August)?

Well, the most wonderful Jill sent me a very special gift - something I will love and use - TEA!!

And a TEA POT! And it's by Jill!

And they're Green, yellow and red (I love those colors together, they always seemed like a happy family to me) The box was beautiful, the gift GREATLY appreciated, and I felt warm and loved. Thank you so much, Jill.

Inspired by the gift, I ordered a Bonsai Azalea Tree for my mother in law (her birthday is this week) and some flowers for a deserving mom that I know. See, Jill, your gift prompted more loving giving - see what you started, young lady?

I spent a lot of the last day resting - I need to energize for Midwest Masters this weekend, and I feel like I may be getting a slight cold. Luckily, I have my old standby, Airborne, and I'll be fabulous in a day. Or two.

Another Menards visit today - I needed wood glue and some paint for the $125 table I bought a few weeks ago. It's a nice table, but it had pretty sizable gouges, scratches and some mystery solvent had been spilled on it at one time. It also had a clear, hard stuff on it (nail polish?) so it was not in the best shape. But it was a lot cheaper than the $550 table I'd been eyeballing. And MUCH cheaper than the $900 table I saw at Crate & Barrel.

Although I love the idea of a copper-topped table, this table opens up with a leaf and covering that much table would just be too hard for me to figure out. Instead I sanded it, painted it red, then painted just the top part gold. When that was dry, I drybrushed and rubbed more red onto that. It looks a lot like copper (which, for some unknown reason, seems exactly what I want for this dining room.)

After the dry rubbing, Hannah and I both thought it could use a touch of something extra, so we rubber-stamped gold leaves on the table (yes, I love falling leaves) and I'm really happy with the effect. The next step is to let it dry thoroughly, then do some kind of polyurethane or sealer so we can actually EAT on the table.

Of course, I didn't paint the drop-in leaf because I just didn't want to deal with all of the work.
So either I'll paint the leaf separately, matching what I did today, or when we have company we'll use a tablecloth. I'm certain I'll paint it. Yep. I will.

Midwest Masters (Mistresses?)
I'm getting excited about traveling to Neenah, but apparently not as excited as this guy.

I'm curious as to whether I'm pulled over now that I have MN plates. It's supposed to be a rainy weekend - but that's good for knitting
at Midwest Masters I'm psyched for the knitting with wire class, it was SO much fun this weekend, and I don't really teach it all that much. The other classes will be a blast, too, but the wire class will be a real eye opener! I'll drive back on Sunday, then Monday I fly to Detroit to meet up with Drew Emborsky to tape Needle Arts Studio with Shay Pendray (er, uh, sorry for the earlier mistake...)

When I was a kid I used to watch Carol Duvall's show on Detroit TV - Carol Duvall is NOT Shay Pendray. This is what I get for starting the day with smack. I remember the theme music like it was yesterday - I have the gift of remembering every TV theme song I've ever heard. I know, you're jealous - it's a gift, and also a burden.

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Sunday, April 22, 2007

Overslept on Earth Day

Happy Earth Day - whether you're on the South Pole or somewhere warmer!

Self Knowledge
I know certain things about myself;


  • I can't work until my house is in some kind of relative order (not perfect, just picked up.)
  • I like to have alone time every now and then to recharge my batteries.
  • I love my kids and want them to have fun.
  • Without friends I wouldn't be able to get through this - or any - day.
  • I hardly ever sleep in at home because I'm so cued to the movements of my family.

And for those reasons the last two days in a hotel (with frequent checking in and visiting home) were just what the doctor ordered.

The Yarnover was TREMENDOUS! I expected no less - Shelley & the whole MN Knitters Guild set the bar VERY high last year and all of them sailed over it with ease and grace this year! At least, they made it look easy - and that's the sign of a really hard worker!

I enjoyed my Keynote speech. I'm such a ham. I get a lot of my personal energy from others, from my in-person interactions, and hearing laughter from a group I'm addressing is like a boost of vitamin B-12.

My classes were tremendous. As with last year, I was totally blown away by the expertise and skill of my students here in MN - that was one of the things that made me realize last year that I really did want to move here.

One Year
It was a year ago that I started the ball rolling toward that decision. And now, here we are. It's a natural time to reflect on the year, on the wisdom of our move, and how it will impact our future. I've spent a lot of time pondering this lately, believe me, and I keep coming back to the conclusion that overall I'm happy to be here.

Yes, we would be more physically comfortable in our old house - it was bigger, had a laundry chute (never underestimate the importance of gravity) and I didn't have to duck my head when I went downstairs. But the chances are good - given Gerry's diagnosis - that we might not have had that house for long if we'd stayed in NJ. Given our NJ taxes and the cost of living there, we would probably be anticipating a move anyway.

At least this way we were able to sell and move on our own terms (and before the NJ flooding - I feel such pain for my friends back home who are STILL pumping out their basements!) That's a hard fact to face - we loved our home. But as with any breakup it's nice to leave on your own terms.

Here in MN we may not have physical space, but we have more breathing room. We have a lower mortgage, we have much better recreational & municipal resources (never underestimate the importance of busy, happy kids), and we have already made so many wonderful friends. Without realizing it, we were battening down our hatches and filling our metaphorical pantry when we moved. Amen.

I am hopeful that Gerry will be able to connect with folks - he's a little isolated now - but we just found out that a good friend from back home will be coming out in 2 weeks and that will be a blessing.

Speaking of blessings, although I'm not an overtly religious person, I appreciate the good thoughts that folks are sending and I am happy to accept good vibes from Vishnu, Jesus, Buddha, Great Aunt Mary and anyone else who is thinking lovingly of us. Thank you!

Any teensy bit of residual guilt I may have felt about staying at a hotel for 2 days just 20 blocks from my home were totally erased by the happy faces of my kids and their friend when they returned from the pool (THANK YOU CATHERINE!) and by the fact that I woke up after 10:00 am today. I haven't done that since New Years of 2006. And I needed it.

Rest For The Weary[ing]
Although I bought wine last night, and some of the teachers gathered in my room for a too-brief get together, we didn't drink (all I had was a beer with dinner - honest - but a nice, big Amber Bock!) but I slept like I had down a whole BOX of vino. I needed it. When I woke up I was thinking, "Damn, I wish I wouldn't keep waking up in the middle of the night like this!" Then I looked at the clock and realized it was the middle of the night in Egypt. And I was happy that I was able to sleep in. I needed this.

I have to rush home - not for any bad reason - but because CSpan is replaying the Gonzo hearings and I REALLY want to see them (so does Gerry) I am liking Cable very much. And we have a couple of friends coming over this evening for dinner, which will be great fun, so I need to pick up some stuff for dinner. Some pre-pared stuff.

Another thing I know about myself is that I really don't want to cook tonight.


Friday, April 20, 2007

They're HEEEE-EEEERRRRR!

Flipknits are here, and they're beautiful [baby]!

I'm as proud as an - well, as an author looking at 10,000 copies of her new books!


When the driver from the shipping company dropped off the HUGE pallet of books, I told him that they were all books.

- You must really like to read, lady!

He was joking. He was actually really funny, and when I told him what I did for a living and what the books were, he asked where he could sign up to take a knitting class (this was after I mentioned Men Who Knit, and we bonded over our love of doggies)

I ripped open the plastic surrounding the pallet, cut through the straps and opened up a box of each type of book and - to my great relief - they were perfectly beautiful! The mix up noticed in the proof of the knit book pages glued to the increase book covers (and vice versa) had been fixed. The covers are lovely and the color clear, they're beautiful books!

I sent out all of the individual orders and many of the wholesale orders - on Monday I'll send out the rest, so those of you who pre-ordered (THANK you!) will be getting them in the next few days!

I donated a box of the books to the Minnesota Knitters Guild to hand out at the Yarnover tomorrow. I'll also have complete sets to sell in my classes - but mainly I just want to get a bunch of them into the hands of knitters so I can see the flipping happening. I'm so easily amused. Maybe I'll have all the knitters do the wave tomorrow...

Friend Time
My new friend Catherine came by this evening and was so helpful - what a gift it is to have someone stop by and lend a hand - she helped me get many 4-packs of books assembled and packed. THANK YOU!

Her son and Maxie have developed a great friendship - there aren't words to describe how happy I am to see Max eagerly anticipate a playdate with his new buddy. She also took Hannah to try a synchronized swimming thingie, which I think Hannah enjoyed more than she admitted.

Although I do live in St. Paul, I couldn't turn down 2 nights in a hotel for some rest and relaxation (and a whirlpool!) This is the "me time" that I've been pining for - and Gerry's just 10 minutes away with the kidlets!

This evening Max & Hannah and their new buddy and Catherine and I went down to the pool (the kids swam, adults watched) and Hannah gave some of the new synchro moves a try. She's not half bad, and I hope that she decides to give it a whirl. Swimming is such good exercise! And I was especially glad that - given how helpful the kids have been - I was able to give them a little swimming treat tonight!


Gerry's stayed at home to rest, and for a bit of alone time himself.


Medical Stuff

Today we saw the oncologist and got the official diagnosis of Multiple Myeloma. He outlined a treatment plan for the next few months and started Gerry on Thalidomide & Dexamethasone right away. The next step is Zometa, an intravenous drip, which will reduce the calcium in his blood and thus help his energy, strength and - not least - his outlook. I am so proud of how he keeps his sense of humor - his joy - in the midsts of what must be a very scary time, not to mention uncomfortable and painful.

We heard from a good friend that he'll be in town in 2 weeks for business and would love to visit. Gerry and I are BOTH so excited to see him - it will be very good for both of us, but especially for Gerry. It's hard that he hasn't had a chance to develop any male friendships, I can tell he misses that.

When Gerry's strength improves and he's feeling better, it will be time for high dose chemo and stem cell transplant (the cells would have been taken from him) I'm not sure how much I understand all of this myself . Gerry - one of the smartest folks I know - is a little foggy due to the pain meds and calcium in the blood. So I have to educate myself and get on top of it. Knowledge is power, and we have a lot to learn and think about.

It seems though, at this time, that we're looking at about a year of this before we return to our regularly scheduled lives. And, as I said yesterday, a year is fathomable.

Just look at where I was a year ago tonight...

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Thursday, April 19, 2007

Hive Me

Yesterday was a frustratingly busy, frightingly busy day. Busy. Just call me "Bea" Get it - busy bee, Bea...? Sheesh I'm lame on a Thursday. But I got done what needed to be done, for the most part.

Things I Accomplished
  1. Got Kids up and house running, laundry, dishes, the whole goya beanery
  2. Got to listen to Stephanie Miller. Yes, this is an accomplishment.
  3. Put together our new Gas Grill that we'd purchased months ago at Target (while listening to Stephanie Miller)
  4. Got Gerry to the gastro doc for his - ahem - procedure
  5. Bought a pretty plate at TJ Maxx for $5 (during the aforementioned procedure)
  6. Finally was able to redeem a credit I've had at Orbitz for a flight to Detroit (after almost TWO HOURS on the phone to some off-shore phone bank location)
  7. Got dining room chairs to go with the previously purchased table
  8. Bought an outdoor rug for our less-than-stellar back porch
  9. Bought a table for the deck (I'm going with a coffee-table, living room-esque theme)
  10. Got about 10 rows knitted

Things I did NOT Accomplish
  1. I didn't design anything
  2. I didn't get the disability application finished
  3. I didn't get the license plates on Gerry's car
  4. I didn't get to the bank to deposit stuff.
  5. I didn't get Hannah a pair of new shoes (she's worn through the old ones - a growing girl!)
  6. I didn't get a walk in (Atticus is mad at me)
  7. The - ahem - procedure didn't work. Damn. And let me tell you, Gerry suffered through not one, but TWO preps. The nurse and I decided that until Gerry's stronger, until the chemo gets going and he gets some strength back, it's senseless to put him through this misery.

To Accomplish Today (or Tomorrow, or Next Week...)
  1. All the stuff I didn't get done yesterday, plus...
  2. FIND my "shipping box" with my packing list enclosed labels (I need these!)
  3. Get the flip books delivered (they're coming to day, all 1,300 pounds of them - yikes!)
  4. Get the flip books packaged and shipped.
  5. Get wire (the wire I ordered was sent to NJ - my fault entirely! - so I need to get some stopgap wire for the classes I'm teaching this weekend)
  6. Get my handouts printed (much easier now that Gerry's connected our printer to the network so I can print from the living room - ehaw!)
  7. Get dining room table top sanded (& painted? Naaaah)
  8. Put together aforementioned dining room chairs & rocking chair
  9. SLIPCOVERS
I'll get done what I can. The rest will wait. Life is about prioritizing and dealing with the crappy days gracefully.

Eminem
In a roundabout way we got the diagnosis - Gerry's oncologist faxed a letter to us for his union (disability stuff) with the diagnosis written out. Yes, it is Multiple Myeloma, and the letter said he'd be out of commission for a year. Which sounds like amazing good news to me... We'll wait until we see the doctor tomorrow to get the full scoop, but it was a very hopeful fax.

A year is a fathomable amount of time.

Confidence Crisis

I'm sure it's the tiredness and the stress, but I'm feeling like a crappy designer. Much of the stuff I've seen of mine lately just looks - eh. Eh. It's like when you're feeling fat, and every time you see yourself in a mirror all you see is fat, fat, fat. You may look wonderful, but you can't see it.

That's how I'm feeling about my work these days. I'm anxious for this to pass, which I'm sure it will. Waiting out the stupid stuff.

I've had a frustrating few days of fighting on the phone for my rights (refunds that are due to me, fees that venues withheld) and it's very tired-making. This is why I rely on email so much - I can go back and see EXACTLY what I've said, what's been said to me, and what the collective expectations are. On the phone, folks tend to hear what they want to hear, and it's rare that folks totally agree on what was said.

One of my big frustrations these days revolves around this, and it's just bad timing. Right now I'm lacking the mental resources to deal with fighting for a sizeable chunk of change that's due to me. This aspect of my job - the management - is the hardest for me. Convincing venues that it's worth it to hire me to teach, chasing down fees (not usually a problem as it's specified in my letter of agreement that the check will be waiting for me after the last class) But there it is - and it sucks. But it must be done.

I think this constant song-and-dance that yes, I am WORTH what you promised to pay me, is also eating away a bit at my confidence.

Big Thanks, Big Love
So it's probably a good time to say that your comments, your kind emails, keep me sailing over the rough stuff. This is my main egomaniacal reason for blogging - connecting with folks who are positively disposed toward me. Thank you.

Along the same lines, for those of you who are curious:
  • We've gone through not one, but TWO of those 'chew proof' dog leashes. Atticus has them for breakfast. We moved onto a stiff leather one, gone in a few bites. I'm afraid to see what he'll do to the chain. He never chews ANYTHING else, just the leashes.

  • Gerry has been taking ensure, but he's not loving it. We keep it in the fridge and I try to get him to take some every day.

Monday, April 16, 2007

April is so Cruel

So many awful things happen in April - and now a shooting of such magnitude in Virginia.

I know no more about it than anyone else, I have nothing insightful to say, but I didn't want to gloss over something that is probably on everyone's mind this evening. What a waste.

Heaven help the victims, the families of the victims, and the shooter. I hope that the community in Virginia is able to mirror the healing &
forgiving attitude of the Amish community after the horrible shoting in Pennsylvania last year.

I don't know if I'd have the strength to react that way, but I like to think that I'd try.

Knitting Stuff et al
I sent off a few projects today - we met with Gerry's doctor and the application for disability seems to be a long, long road of paper & documentation. The big event today was Gerry and I went to Menards (can I get enough of that place?) and he walked around pushing a cart while we looked at showers, outdoor tables and garbage cans.

Then on to Target for the search for the perfect windbreaker for Gerry - we didn't find it.

I have never felt more like a retired couple in my life, we may as well have stopped at Denny's for the early bird special. The nausea medicine has been working well and for 2 evenings Gerry's had a nice, regular dinner. We'll have to start a new blog - www.whatgerryhadfordinner.com - and we'll finally be the surreal, edgy heroes of the counter culture. Speaking of Heroes, WHEN is that show coming back on!

Doggie Stuff
I took Atticus for a nice, long walk this morning - after repairing his leash. The dog has sharp teeth, and he knows how to use them! He can bite through a leash in seconds, and it's high time we got a chain leash for him!

Here is the repair I did on the leash a few days ago - note that I'm using SCREWS, obviously I'm a little too hardware-oriented these days. The next image was taken at the end of the walk - just look at that guilty dog - after he'd chewed through the leash yet again and I had to tie it together to walk him home.

How did I know he'd chewed through the leash? Why, he strolled into Wuollet's when I was buying a danish for Gerry. (Check out whatgerryhadforbreakfast.com)

School Stuff
We met with Hannah's teacher for our Parent Teacher conference (we'd put it off last week) and were happy to hear that academically she's doing pretty well. She does have to work on the respect-for-teacher angle (it's not that she's disrespectful as much as very independent - but that, in itself, can present problems in a classroom and she needs to understand how difficult it can make things!) And we also have to work on her writing - it's good, just not as detail filled as we know she can do. I'm beginning to understand why she likes to write poetry - less words...

And now back to my own knitting on another project - this one was due in June, but the deadline's been pushed back to May 5th, so I'll be rushing a bit. It's lovely yarn, though, so it's a dream to work fast through it. We have more tests this week, more excellent knitting time. And good heavens, am I glad to have my iPod!

Special Note:

For those of you who have been writing with good thoughts and excellent suggestions - thank you so much!

I'm sorry if I haven't gotten back to all of you, my computer time is sorely curtailed these days, I'm not able to answer all of my emails let alone write thank you notes for your kindness, but I really will try to answer each of you!

And for those of you just
thinking good thoughts - thank you so much!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Saving BIG Money

We needed some window washing stuff, and other sundries, so I drove on over to Menards for a stroll through aisle after well-organized aisle of groovy stuff. I adore hardware stores. I feel like I had a religious experience this morning - I didn't want to leave. Well, not quite... but I did have fun! I swear, if I could still conceive I'd name my next kid Menard.

I picked up some rope for the window project (Project Sash), a broom for the basement/laundry, checked out showers for our new downstairs bathroom and looked into patio furniture and sheds. And I found one! I bought one of those Rubbermaid sheds (it would have been nice to be able to afford the groovy looking wood one, but it's just not in our budget.)

The shed came in two HUGE and heavy boxes, so I realized that I wouldn't be able to get them home in our little Hyundai. I also checked out some wicker furniture and found lovely stuff - some really nice, redish brown pieces that are a blend of natural and composite materials, so I think they'll weather well. I actually went a little nuts and bought one chair more than I should have, so tomorrow I'll investigate the Menards return policy.

And, of course, there was a white ladder-back rocker which I have coveted for a long time - and which would be good for Gerry to sit in outside - on sale until tomorrow for $49. Sold!

All of this led to the inevitable rental of the truck. This was amazingly painless, $20 for 1-1/2 hours, with lots of help to get my stuff into the truck. One guy who helped me was very cute - and a KNITTER! He said he taught himself and I encouraged him to drop by the Yarnover on Saturday (we'll see...) The guy who helped me with the shed boxes was SO HAPPY when I suggested backing the truck over to the palette of sheds so he could just slide one into the bed of the truck - and when I got it home I was able to back it into the garage a bit so I could just slide it out and open the boxes right there.

It took me more than the estimated 50 minutes to put together - more like 2 hours and I'm not 100% thrilled with the way I got it together (I want to take a rubber mallet to some of the more recalcitrant corners - and it didn't help that once I got it together I hated where it was so I dragged it across the yard over by the fence.) Then I set up the outdoor furniture, washed the windows, put the turkey breast in the oven (it's smelling SO good!) and hosed down the screens (I need to put them up tomorrow - just in time for the lovely warm weather we're having!)

All of this physical work feels very good - it's tiring, but it's necessary for me right now, mentally, to put my body 100% into something. On Saturday I set up our office upstairs (lots of moving bookshelves from one room/floor to another, lots of unpacking stuff that we've needed for WEEKS, and Gerry handled the computer / printer setup) so now Gerry has a comfortable and well organized place to hang out upstairs when he doesn't feel like coming downstairs, but doesn't want to stay in bed.

He's feeling very tired, very beat up (especially his stomach) but overall his spirits are good. In most part this is because he's taking his pain meds, and the doctor phoned in a prescription for an anti-nausea drug. He ate dinner last night - quite a coup - and had a good nights sleep. A very good day.

A note of praise for the local CVS - when I called our doc on Sat to get something for Gerry's constant nausea, she phoned it into CVS. They called to say they didn't have the drug, but they'd check around for it. Long story short, they found it at the Walgreens down the street, called and told me, and gave me directions to the Walgreens. This is SO different from our experience with CVS in New Jersey, and we are SO grateful that this annoyance is out of our lives during this stressful period.

Tomorrow a doctor's visit to our PCP, talk about a handicapped sticker for the car and questions about applying for disability. Tomorrow I also send in a new sweater that I just finished for VK (it's SO groovy - I'm really happy with it!) and send that special project to a friend which I've owed her since December.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Shabbat Shalom

Gerry's bone scan was pretty quick - he asked for a wheelchair, and that's not a usual thing, but I'm glad that he's willing to accept the help. It was SO lovely here today - sunny and warmer - with a promise of even warmer weather this weekend.

No word on what they discovered in the scan, and we're not scheduled to see the oncologist again until Friday (soonest we could get in, he's a busy guy with a VERY full waiting room) so we wait. And I knit in waiting rooms and thrill and amaze the nurses. And Gerry suffers. And I go for drives so I can bawl without scaring the kids or depressing Gerry.

I took a drive to Uline here in St. Paul to pick up some new supplies (how cool that I can do that and not pay for shipping!) then off to the hardware store for some welding rings for my Vogue project. Oooh, that sounds either very scary, or very cool. Let's just say that - once again - it will not be a design that folks consider dispassionately.

I spent a good part of the day chasing down $ from folks who owe me (never fun) and explaining why email is a very good thing for a business person (phone calls, while personal, can be interpreted however the hearer wants to interpret them - there's nothing like the written word to force folks to clarify their expectations and reduce future tension) THAT was a frustration.

Ah, crap, everything is a frustration some days.


I let my Dutch side go nuts today and took all the storm windows down. I currently have about half of the screens up, the kids will help me do the rest of them tomorrow. These are the old fashioned kind, that swing from the top of the window outside the house and then lock in place with a little lever mechanism. Once I got the hang of it, it wasn't hard (the hardest part was how HEAVY the windows are - that old glass is THICK!)

When I think of how - in other years - I have relied on Gerry to do stuff like this I'm a bit ashamed of my "helplessness", and proud of my current ability to just GET DONE what needs to be done. I must be eating my powdermilk biscuits. A friend dropped off a book explaining how to open up a window to fix the sash rope, and I'm going to give it a good college try this weekend on two of our front windows (I bought the cutest little crowbar for the job along with the welding rings. The crowbar will NOT be in Vogue Knitting.)

Tomorrow I'll shop for a shed - I'd like to find a nice looking one that will blend in with the house and our adorable garage (see the picture!), but I need a place to put these darned windows and I just can't stand the thought of losing that much garage space! Besides, we'll need a place to put the fine push-mower that we're going to buy (we have a small yard - no need for a power mower.)

Hannah bought seeds while we were at the hardware store - Blue Delphinum and Cupid's Dart. I have the original brown thumb, but my father's mother was an amazing gardner, and Gerry's mom keeps a lovely garden, so perhaps Hannah's inherited some skill that passed me by?

Yep, if I keep all of this home-work up, it may become my new exercise regime!

I'm VERY late with a promised project for a dear, dear friend. I WILL make it tomorrow, and then send it FedEx so she'll get it Monday. I will. I will. I promise! Tomorrow will be a good day to sit in the sun at the park and knit while the kids run amok & rollerblade.

When my mother visited me in Brooklyn we rented a wheelchair so we could show her the promenade and take her around the neighborhood. She fought it, hated the idea, but once she was in it she really enjoyed being able to 'keep up' with the young'uns.

I'd like to rent one for Gerry so that we can go to the park, or to the museum, and he can keep up with us and rest while we push him around. Everything is so painful for him, though - being pushed around may not be the most fun thing in the world for him. But I want him to see the kids discovering the twin cities this Spring. I may want too much.

I'm guilty of not going to temple at ALL since we've arrived here. Tonight I was going to take the kids to Shir Tikva, but I became so exhausted with all that had to be done today that I tossed in the towel and spent the evening working on designs and resting.

Next weekend - I promise - temple ... At this rate the kids won't be b'nai mitzvah'd until they're 42.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Celtic Fest at the Oncology Wing

Today we ventured over to St. Jo's here in St. Paul for a bone marrow biopsy. We've been there a lot lately, and they're unfailingly kind & thoughtful (valet parking!!)

According to Gerry, it was about as painful as you'd expect. He said he couldn't decide whether knowing it was coming made it more or less painful, but the doctor asked me to wait outside while they took a sample from the bones in both of Gerry's hips. His hips (and ribs) have been painful, so it may be that there resides a myeloma pocket. We're still waiting for the official diagnosis.

Tomorrow is a full body scan to check for further fractures. Poor Gerry. Moving around is very painful for him, his ribs ache, his hips are sore. I feel like I need to be more proactive in some way to get quicker care for him (but things are moving very quickly - honestly - too quickly!)

So I sat with some nice guys who were getting their chemo and we talked about motorcycles, dogs, Imus (EVERYONE in the ward had an opinion on that!) and knitting. While we were chatting a musician showed up and played her harp, I sat knitting - we presented a very homey picture of life in 19th century Ireland (in a chemo ward)

Just sitting and talking to folks felt good, and I was sorry that Gerry wasn't able to just sit around and shoot the breeze with these guys after his procedure. But he was pretty dopey and in pain, so we got home as soon as we could, in time for a nice visit with a friend who brought her son for a MUCH anticipated playdate for Maxie.

I did get a lot of knitting done today, and have my VK project almost finished. I wrote up the pattern this evening, and I'm ready to dive more firmly into a Lorna's Laces project tomorrow - back at the hospital! They really do try to make the experience as low-stress as possible, and it's so appreciated!

But stress is definitely here - and it's still too chilly to spend much time outside (which would be a nice stress reliever) The stress is making me want to eat a LOT, which I try hard not to do - I feel like every pound that Gerry's lost is firmly planted around my middle. I wrote to some friends that I'd like to get down to my fighting weight (and I don't mean Sumo...)

Han's got a crush on a boy down the street, it seems to be reciprocated (this week) and she 'ran into him' at the park after school. Hmmmm. It's too soon for THIS kind of stress!

A note on comments - I'm sorry they're showing up so late and all in a batch! My email is really wacky these days, I'm just too busy to investigate it in depth, but for some reason the comments aren't showing up in my comments moderation except in big batches hours and hours after they're posted. Oh, well...

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Sorting Through Treatment

We were in a room today where everyone had a very personal connection with cancer disease in one way or another - astounding. Not that it should come as a shock to me, given my own recent family history with the disease, but this was such a hoppin' scene!

So we met yet another doctor, who agrees with all of the previous doctors but - guess what? - more tests! So the last 3 days of this week will be taken up with various tests where they take bits and pieces out of Gerry and look at it under a microscope.

He doesn't have a heck of a lot of anything to give up - he's lost about 40 pounds in the past 2 months and is shorter, too. My incredible shrinking husband.

This afternoon he said, "I don't want to fight off a spider with a needle!"

Gerry's been worried about his pain meds again, this time because he read that they can be bad on kidney function. Thankfully the doc today told him to please go back to the pain pills (and even offered Oxi - which he turned down - he's afraid of being so dopey he falls and breaks something else!)

We thought we'd have to be away when the kids got home, so we arranged for a friend to be here (thanks Catherine!) but we ended up with an earlier appointment so we stopped by Sears and registered our cars (finally!) and then spent the afternoon setting up a database of Gerry's medical stuff / visits / procedures so far. There will be more, and we may as well get started organizing ourselves now.

We have a big blue accordion type plastic folder where we're sorting out the piles of paperwork we've already acquired - easily portable - and we're finding that this is helping both of us wrap our minds around this.

The doc would like to start Gerry on Zometa as soon as possible to reduce the calcium in his blood (which is leading to tiredness and confusion) and - as it's a treatment for MM, he feels that he'd have Gerry on it eventually so he rather do it sooner than later.

For me this means a lot of late-night knitting - catching up on what I haven't been able to do while driving around from testing facility to testing facililty. Thankfully, knitting is the PERFECT thing to do while waiting for Gerry to get poked (we each have our needle therapy) so I can "go to work" while being the supportive spouse I'd like to be.

Tomorrow off for a bone marrow biopsy. This will help seal the official diagnosis of MM, which all of the docs so far seem to feel is prime suspect. Where is Helen Mirren when you need her? According to Gerry's osteoporosis report (which we read together today) he's "grossly normal" - which we're still trying to figure out. We're astounded that ANYONE in our family is considered normal.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Ruler of a Tiny Realm


..and I DO mean tiny.

Well, one thing that's the same in MN as NJ is the PO. O-Y!

I filled out passport applications a while ago for the family, but we were lacking photos. Since passports are now required for travel to Canada, and since I have to go there in July, I decided this might be a good time to complete the applications. I figured I'd do my passport now because I need mine first, and do the kids at the start of Summer (these things are PRICEY!)

So last evening Hannah, Maxie and I traipsed off to CVS for some fine passport photos. Max looked like a mini-IRA terrorist in his photo, but aside from that they were fine. Then today, en route to some out-of-St. Paul-shopping I needed to get done, I ventured to a small PO in a small town (not my designated PO) to turn in my application.

The guy behind the counter at the PO was - not to put too fine a point on it - a real Cliff Claven type. He was obviously the kind of guy who enjoyed being master of his domain, and telling everyone else how to do whatever it was they needed to do. And he loved the sound of his own voice.

When I presented my application & birth certificate & all the other stuff to him, he said that the photos were too fuzzy. I'd only planned on submitting my application at this time, but I showed him the kids' photos too, to see if he thought they were too fuzzy. Yep. Fuzzy, fuzzy and fuzzy. Okay, fine, I'll get the photos retaken - no big deal - no rush. I felt cool about it.

But - not understanding that I was making a huge request - I asked him if he would write a note for me to give to the folks at CVS so I could get a refund and get new pictures taken.

His response was very wordy, "Well, here's what you want to do, you want to go to X post office, have them take the pictures, blah blah blah, yada yada yada..."

As he rambled on I said, "Uh, yeah - okay - I'll probably just get them done at CVS - can I get that note?"

This made him angry. I wasn't drinking in his pearls of wisdom. And it must have seemed that I interrupted him since he never came up for air.

A woman who had been in line earlier and was standing to the side chimed in, "At the post office they'll charge you $15, I just went to Walgreens, it's $7 there." I responded that $15 was "totally ridiculous" (another thing which didn't endear me to Mr. PO) and he - obviously feeling threatened that someone besides himself was offering advice in a government office, said in a very loud voice, "Uh, it's kind of hard for me to tell you what you need to do if you're not going to listen."

To which I responded, "You know, you could be nicer." Oops.

And that's when he ripped up the note he was grudgingly writing ("I've never had to write a note for anyone before...") Jerk.

When I asked him - and wrote down - the name of his supervisor, he told me that when I did get my photos, NOT to come back to HIS Post Office because he would refuse to serve me because he didn't like my attitude. "I'm the Passport Clerk and I can choose to deny service to anyone I like."

Astounding.

I was absolutely, TOTALLY cool about getting new photos - honest! I had all my paperwork, and was respectful to the man (until he became loud and aggressive.) But I didn't bow to his knowledge as deeply as he would have liked, and had the nerve to criticize the outrageous prices the PO charges for passport photos, and - oops - pointed out that he could be nicer.


So I'll go to another post office. It's not a huge deal, and there's one much closer to my house with passport hours tomorrow morning.

How evil, though, that a person's ability to get a passport hinges on one jerk's easily punctured ego? Give someone a little bit of power and sometimes it goes to their - head.


Eh. At least it gave me an excuse to have a good steaming anger-cry in the car in the parking lot.

When I returned the photos to CVS the guy there was really nice - and stunned to hear about my experience. He's been dealing with me now for 2 months, seeing me and/or the kids just about every day as we pick up milk or prescriptions or soap, and so far all dealings have been extremely pleasant.

So it ended with a bit of a reality check from the nice guy at CVS "That guy must be a jerk - leave it to the government..." , and the happy knowledge that I never have to visit that PO (or that town) again if I don't want to.

Back to the knitting - and with any luck tomorrow I'll have something really cool to show you!

Monday, April 09, 2007

FABRIC!

I can slipcover just about anything. It's one of my gifts - I discovered this in college, and it's the same basic skill that allows me to pack a car to within an inch of it's life, and tell whether a specific box will easily slide into a seemingly too narrow opening.

I am a spacial goddess. If I were a super-heroine, this would be my skill.

So today I was in hog heaven at SR Harris Fabrics up in Brooklyn Park, rooting through forests of fabrics, lining up patterns, rejecting mis-matches, trying new colors - what FUN!

It was as much fun as shopping for fabric in the basement of one of my favorite NY upholstery digs, but with MORE ROOM TO SPREAD OUT! Woo.


And I had a coupon.


I'm not usually a big coupon user - I find them annoying, a little tricky and I end up buying things I don't really need. So I avoid them, to be honest. But there were some online coupons I downloaded for SR Harris, and ALL of my fabric ended up being $6.68/yd.

And it is some Nii-iice stuff.


Once I came home and spread out my purchases, I realized that the colors are all beautifully represented in our living room rug, and life is good.
Tomorrow I start the slipcover parade. My idea is to mix and match the fabrics so that each piece in the living room has a blend of patterns.

But that may be insane, so I may just end up covering each piece in its' own specific fabric and use throw pillows to bring all of it together.
Eh - we'll see how breakfast agrees with me...

... and where will I have my breakfast? Why, on my BRAND NEW DINING ROOM TABLE!

Okay, not new, not at all. It's a craig's list purchase - sanctioned by Gerry - and it is inexpensive and scratched enough that if I decide to go through with my insane (more insanity?) plot to cover a table with copper, this would be a good one to practice on.

In the mean time I think I'll sand the top and paint it so we have something a little nicer to look at...


Gigi obviously likes it. And she likes the fabric, too... And, why look behind her - it's the lovely mission file cabinet I put together yesterday!

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Eggs, Baskets & Lollipops

I talked with a good friend yesterday who - before she knew our current situation - broke the news to me that someone close to her had died recently of multiple myeloma.

What a coincidence - life is so odd, huh? Her friend who passed was much older than Gerry (he's so young to have this!) and when I explained the situation I realized what a great resource she will be, having gone through this and having done a lot of research herself.


It made me think, though, that when folks are unaware that you're facing a specific life hurdle they tend to be a lot more honest - perhaps even dramatic (although my friend wasn't dramatic in the least!)

However, once they know that they're dealing with a friend in an - altered - situation, they tend to be very upbeat. I totally understand, and I'm the same way - we want to put out a positive, you-can-
beat-this vibe, and it's appreciated!

But it made me ponder this morning (in our downstairs shower, brrr) how rarely you run into the middle ground, how often folks are either Sturm und Drang or Sunshine & Lollipops. And then I imagined the Valkyries singing Sunshine & Lollipops and I snorted out loud. Rinse, repeat.

Then I came upstairs to a bereft little boy who was expecting Easter baskets to be in front of his door, like they usually are. At least I had the wherewithall to BUY something at Ikea (a plastic easter egg filled with Swedish candy) but I totally forgot to take it out of the bin in the kitchen and place it in front of the doors. Oy.

So while he looked downstairs, I slipped them up on top of the built in sideboard in the dining room, and set him to looking all through the rest of the house. Right now they're hidden by the blinding light that comes in from the dining room window in the mornings, but soon they'll be visible, and then the kids will be sated with chocolate and sugar. We're a multi faith family - Jewish and just pagan enough for chocolate.

Today I'll make a trip to the aforementioned SR Harris Fabrics (after checking to make sure they're open on Easter) to check out some slipcover fabrics. I feel like I'm nesting again. But first I'll print out the coupons. I like to get a few projects set up so that when I have down time I can move on to something else that needs to be done.

And that involves working through a redesign for the kitchen. No, we're not going to push into that immediately, but working on the computer calms me - hence the blog entry this morning - and a commenter asked about how I do my ground plans. So here's how I do it...

I have used CAD (computer aided drafting) software, but it was a LONG time ago and I'm sure those apps are light years better now. For laying out a rough ground plan, though, I like to use Appleworks (aka Claris Works)

There's a function in the drawing palette that lets you alter the ruler settings (format/rulers/ruler settings.) I set up my rulers for picas, with a division of 12, so that when I rough in my layout I can see it in "feet" without a lot of extra mental math. It's a quick and dirty way to get my ideas down while I'm ruminating.

And we really DO have to add a bathroom, that's becoming painfully apparent with Gerry as he is right now. We need a bathroom on the ground floor, or else he's pretty much relegated to spending 90% of his time upstairs.

We've met with a contractor, the next step is to rough out how we'd like to lay out the addition (we're adding a few feet to the kitchen to add a bathroom - which will also allow us to redesign the kitchen so that it's more workable and has more 'pantry' space) and then make a trip to Home Depot to look at cabinets, etc. Our pipe dream is to be able to have the washer/dryer upstairs in the bathroom / utility room off the kitchen, but that may be pushing it...


Believe, me, I know it's not the time to start on this. And I'm not saying we will. I'm just saying I may as well get ideas down now. It gives me a break in the knitting.

Friday, April 06, 2007

...and now back to our previously scheduled unpacking

I've promised myself that in the month of April I'll take care of the most egregious full-box faux pas in the house (I still haven't unpacked my short sleeved shirts, and have found myself buying shirts instead of facing the full boxes. Baad Annie.)

Actually, today I returned two of them and tomorrow I'll return another one (good Annie!)

But we have to have the great festival of the unpacking soon so that I can empty out the basement. Will there be room for this stuff? WHERE???

I found an exquisite file cabinet at Target, it works SO beautifully with our home, and we really need it because we will need to have a ground floor, easily accessible file for medical stuff that we need to get to without searching through the 'generational' files we keep upstairs (7 years of bank stuff, previous job info, grad school stuff, years and years of kid's drawings, etc.)

So now our organization game plan for dealing with this recovery process will be to have files and information we need AT HAND - as well as my own teaching/traveling info - where we'll really be able to not just access it, but actually FILE IT AWAY when we get it so we know where it is!


I'm sure I've mentioned I'm a Virgo. This is how we deal with STUFF. Organize it. That always makes it better, right?


My dear, dear friend Ellyn - former college roommate and exquisitely beautiful person - sent me flowers to help me over the Project-Runway-doesn't-love-me blues. Thanks Ellyn - you have NO idea how well-timed your gift was, and how appreciated.

And right at the same time I got a box from my friend Sue (you friggin' derelict) who sent a couple of coats and a shirt from a movie she's been working on which fit Hannah as though they were MADE for her. How thrilled am I that I hemmed and hawed about getting her a new winter coat..?

Not that getting things is the answer to everything, but what a lovely way to know I'm thought of on a day when I can't get my own thoughts together. Today Gerry had another test, which wasn't as unpleasant as we both feared, but he has GREAT pain from his hip and we both think there's something going on there. We stopped on the way home at Mickey's Diner down on 7th and had a nice breakfast - it's been a long time since we've gone to a diner. I think it didn't 100% agree with his stomach, though, so this evening was plain rice and peas.


Thank you so much for the lovely emails from so many of you - too many to mention - and if I haven't emailed you back it's simply because I've been running like a chicken with something cut off all day and haven't been able to formulate my thoughts as clearly as I'd like. It seems that the biggest worry in our minds isn't so much what may happen, but what HAS happened - how much damage has been sustained - and whether that can be addressed. It's a scary, new kind of thing.


Dining Room Stuff

I also bought more curtains today - love IKEA! - and put them up. It's amazing how much curtains - which I'd never been huge fan of - make a room look complete!
I'll use the extra fabric that I cut off from the dining room curtains in the window seat cushions that I'm making.

I need to make new slipcovers for our sofa and armchair, so whatever fabric I find for that I'll also incorporate into the window seat cushions to bring the whole look together.
We really, REALLY want to get a nice, round, mission-esque looking dining room table, so I'm going to wait until the yard sales this spring and see if one just pops out at me. Life is what happens to you - well, you know...

Knitting Stuff
I'm working on a project for VK - I was sent an idea and I'm riffing on it. I'm very excited about it - it will be backless. That should make them run for the hills, eh?

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Fates Way

Waiting is crummy. Waiting for tests to be done on a family member, is even harder. Gerry has an appointment with a Hemotologist next Wednesday, other test to be done this week, but when the results of the tests done so far are considered we may be looking at this as a diagnosis.

Gerry's so pale, he just feels like crap, and I can't do anything to make it better. Well, actually, what I can do is work my butt off so that the mortgage is not a worry on top of all of this. Busy-ness is a mercy.

I sent out an email newsletter last night with two new patterns - and I'm working on making the Malabrigo Mitered Coat workable as a nice pattern (it's a fun garment, but I want to make it more
usable.)

And, of course, my mind is on NONE of this work stuff - but that doesn't mean it doesn't have to be done! Thank heavens I have two big knitting projects to work on between the paperwork, taxes and general business nonesense. And thank heaven the kids are back in school next week - they like their day camp this week a lot, but we miss the regular routine of school.

I can tell that Gerry's missing his friends and family right now. In NJ he had a few good guy friends who could come by and visit if he needed - and although I'm making lots of good friends, it's hard for him to get out there and meet some fellow-travelers.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

I didn't make it work.


Me in line
The staff-shot (polaroid)
and my own shot of the headband. In the rain.


I'm sad, but feeling fine and realistic. A six-hour drive home is a great mind-clearer.


Tom went with me this morning, he waited outside for a bit until he had to leave for work (Tom, the loudish woman behind us told me that my "husband was a babe!" Woo.)

All went pretty well, we got rained on, no big deal. Once inside there was time to steam some of the pieces and get them together.

Interview one was with a 20-something guy who had NO interest in talking to me at all. The young, pretty girls in my group got lots of chat time. Me? He hardly waited to hear me finish my name.

I guess I should have figured the gig was up then.


The next interview was with a 20-something woman who leafed through my portfolio and said there wasn't enough sewing. I explained that every sweater IS sewn, that the general rules of construction apply to all garments, and that the dress that I brought demonstrated that I was able to sew well. No soap. So I didn't even get past the portfolio review.

I did notice that two pretty-and-hip-young-things in my group were able to forego the portfolio review (hmmm...) and a woman who was in front of me in line and had - well, I have to say it, dreadful, badly sewn costum-ish stuff with her - got through the portfolio review.

I think it was a combination of ME not being visually compelling (is that a nice way to say fat?) and the girl who reviewed my portfolio not understanding about sewing/construction/knitting (in other words, having a bias against knitting...) and, well, both things can be addressed, but not in one day.


Too bad.

12 hours of driving.

But I'm home, I can concentrate on some things that NEED concentrating on. Gerry has an MRI tomorrow, his bone density is rotton and he has high calcium levels in his blood so the doctor's thinking some kind of thyroid thing. This is where I need to be. And it's out of my system for this year.

In all honesty, this is probably the best outcome; I got to go through with the audition, I know what I need to change if I want to do it next year (add a few more sewn pieces, lose a few pounds...) and my heart wasn't 100% in it.

I kept thinking, "This is NOT the time for me to do something like this..." But I figured that if the one-in-a-million chance happened and I was moved to the next level, I'd deal with that then!


I'm blown away by your comments, your great thoughts, kind wishes and all of the text messages I received today - thank you all SO much! If I didn't answer you back, it's because it's hard to text and drive. This won't be my year for PRW, but maybe next year...

Carry on!

Monday, April 02, 2007

Nervous, But Well Fed

I'm staying with two of my favorite guys, Tom & Wayne, here in the Chicago area as I prepare for Project Runway tomorrow.

I have a large suitcase packed with my mannequin (I rigged it up so I can hang it from the clothes rack in the interview area), my books, my portfolio, and my groovy shoes. I'll wear my flats until it's time to go into the room.

Driving down from St. Paul took me about 6 hours, and as soon as I walked in the door the guys had a MAGNIFICENT dinner of pork loin ready (Froelich Pesach!) and, after a much needed hot shower, I had a delicious dinner. Wayne's going to give me the recipe for the broccoli salad that was OUT of this world. How can I NOT do well with such a wonderful in-town support group?

I finished the red corset I was making to wear, and it looked good, but also a little "Miss Kitty", and that's NOT the impression I want to give. So I'll just wear the basic black skirt, white linen shirt (with cool green and blue embroidery) and they'll have to be happy with that. I'll look professional, just not wearing one of my own designs.

I have the Emmy Dress, the Egyptian Dress and the sewn Patina Dress. I'll be showing up around 7:00, the call starts at 9:00. I know folks are probably already lining up for it, but I don't want to be insane about when I get there. Arrgh.

Well, wish me luck, and a good hair day! I'll be wearing Harrisville Wool Chenille yarn wound round my head like a turban (it sounds weird, but it looks amazing!)
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Snail Mail:
Annie Modesitt / Landy
1043 Grand Ave
PO Box 117
St. Paul, MN 55105




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