Monday, April 07, 2008

Why I Love Folks in St. Paul

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But I love the folks in St. Paul.

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Saturday, April 05, 2008

Miracle-Hope

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Monday, March 31, 2008

Mom
The official Heaven & Earth MoverŞ of the Landy family

We just got the call. She's in.

We hadn't expected to hear this soon - we're stunned!

I think the Breakthrough program is just the kind of challenge that will give the next few years a structure and focus which will allow Hannah to concentrate on her future. And make Dad's health issues easier to get through.

She - WE - worked so hard (contacting folks for recommendations, working on her essay, getting all the pieces together in just 2 days and then hand delivering the application) that the payoff of acceptance feels all the sweeter. And taking the time to meet with the breakthrough folks at the School Choice Fair so they remembered us ended up being a very good thing to do, too - yay!

We'll get the paperwork in the mail telling us the dates, etc., but she's basically making a commitment to 6 weeks of summer school AND 13 Saturdays of study during the school year next year - and she's thrilled!

It's snowing [again] in MN - lovely for the first day of Spring Break. But I remember April 8, 2003 when it snowed in NJ, so this isn't just a MN experience...

But NOTHING can bring us down today. Not even Gerry's lost crown (his teeth are in dreadful shape. A side effect of the MM and one of the drugs he's taking) for which he's at the dentist this morning. Ouch!

I think a celebratory game of SORRY! is in order - and pancakes for EVERYONE! Han and Max are in the kitchen making them now. Huzzah!

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Monday, March 24, 2008

Consious-Self

It's been an odd kind of weekend, everything seems slightly askew - a little bit out of control - but not in a scary way. Just in a slightly worrisome way.

The kids were home on Thurs and Fri, which was good since there was a teasing and retaliation episode at Hannah's school (Hannah was the retaliate-or, and unfortunately it involved swinging her heavy backpack - a registered weapon MN - at a kid who was probably just trying to be funny, but who has a history of teasing Hannah and Max so H tends to be ultra-sensitive) So, for the first time in Hannah's school career (let's hope the last) she was 'written up.' Dang.

She has my sympathy - she's still learning to control how her emotions and actions collide. But it's vital that she learn the lesson that when one person behaves like a 5-year old, it doesn't give the other person permission to behave like a 4-year old. So she spent a morning in the 'choices room' - sounds like study hall - and thought a lot.

BREAK - through?
She was feeling very keenly a huge disappointment, though, and this was probably playing in her mind and soul as she was being teased on Wed.

Earlier this Winter Hannah had been part of a group in her class who were told about the Breakthrough Collaborative here in St. Paul. It's a national organization, run individually, that offers extra support and tutoring to kids in middle school as they move toward college choice.

I'd heard about the program on the radio, but when Hannah came home from the presentation she was GLOWING. She was so excited to apply for it. We looked it up online, but the website was short on details (like application deadlines, or an application itself...)

To me it seemed an answer to a dilemma. The next few years will be rough, we're gearing up for it, preparing for the 'trip', but we don't really know HOW Gerry's illness will affect the kids when the s*it hits the fan.

Based on this year's experience we assume that the disease will follow the path that's been projected by the Mayo & Gerry's oncologist - and although we're hopeful, we're also realistic.

I lost my own dad when I was 16, and it affected my life much more subtly than I realized at the time. I eventually dropped out of high school (but went to college the next year, I'd been accepted and had decent SAT scores) But I felt adrift because my mom just didn't have the time and energy to see me through my college application process, or help me with my school work. She was just trying to keep body and soul together.

So when I read about this program I thought, "This could be the bridge that helps Hannah get through what could be an incredibly rough few years, and keep her on track with her education!" Not that I'm looking for a surrogate, but I'll be happy for any extra help to focus Hannah on the prize.

It's specifically designed for kids in high needs situations; single parent, low income, minority - so at first glance Hannah might not seem eligible. We spoke to a woman from the BC at the school choice fair in Feb and explained our situation (which was awkward and involved sending the kids off to look at some balloon folding exhibit or something) but there were things that had to be said, and NOT in front of M& H.

We learned that Hannah IS eligible based on a few different criteria, so we were really excited.

Hannah had assumed that when the applications were ready they'd be given to the kids who attended the information session. At least one other kid in her class thought the same thing.

Her teacher did have the applications, but was only handing them out to kids who approached her and asked for them. Hannah hadn't realized she was supposed to ask - and was shy about it. So we missed the deadline for application.

When Hannah came home last Tuesday and told us she was in tears. It was a very difficult situation, and I called the BC right away and - luckily - spoke to the same woman we'd met at the school choice fair. She remembered us, and said she was pretty shocked not to get an application from Hannah.

At school, when weeks had gone by with no application from her teacher, Hannah figured that the BC must have a late application date. This period coincided with me being away for 2 weeks in NJ and in VA for a week, and I have tremendous guilt for not being here to follow up on the whole thing.

At Hannah's parent conference, which ironically was to take place that same Tuesday, we brought up the application problem. Her teacher had assumed that 1) Hannah wasn't interested and 2) Hannah wasn't eligible.

We both had the feeling that the teacher had been holding the application back - perhaps thinking Hannah's lack of eligibility made it silly to offer her an application. The conversation that followed was surreal - me explaining, Gerry concurring, that our situation was changing constantly, deteriorating steadily.

Every time we have to talk about Gerry's disease out loud it just seems unreal. Feeling the need to justify Hannah's desire to apply for the BC to Hannah's teacher was awkward, too. It felt as if extra hurdles had been put up, with no warning or explanation of how to jump over them. We've already crashed one, but we're hoping it doesn't knock us out of the race.

Later in the office we asked if they had an extra application (the woman from the BC said she'd send one to us, but we figured if we had one to start on right away it couldn't hurt) And once again we were in the awkward situation of explaining to the principal that yes, Hannah IS eligible for the program because - see this guy standing next to me - notice how he's 6" shorter than he was this time last year, well, blah blah blah...

God, I get sick of explaining this.

We are a society that is in denial. When folks ask about Gerry and I explain the disease and the prognosis, the response is, "Don't believe the worst! Have Hope! Things can change!" Lovely sentiments, but I believe they're being said more for the benefit of the cheerleader than for our benefit.

I don't think we ARE believing the WORST. We're being realistic. Yes, things CAN change, and we both hope they do. Desperately.

But hope is expensive. The energy and concentration it takes for us to make each day as rich and full as possible - to get everything out of life that we can - just about saps our resources. There isn't a lot left over for hope (false, or otherwise) so we just live realistically and - yes - hopefully. But we don't base our lives on hope.

And this really bothers some folks. I'm not sure why, but folks want to hear, "Yes, we'll BEAT this thing, it won't get us!" as if we can just deny, deny, deny and then one day when we're 88 we'll go "poof!"

The fact is, disease happens. Sometimes it shortens life. It sucks, and it's unfair, but it doesn't have to ruin - or even diminish - a life. We don't spend every day shopping for caskets, but we also have a realistic outlook on where our family will be in 3, 5, 7 years. No one can tell the future, but we can prepare. I know what it's like to NOT prepare - I experienced that when I saw my mother work like a dog for 10 years to crawl out of the financial hole my dad's death had put us in.

So if I want to have my daughter apply for a program that's intended for kids in difficult situations (single parent, low income) I think - given our circumstances - Hannah has a right to.

We're going to try to apply anyway (with a note from the teacher explaining that she had not passed out the applications) and hope for the best. Right now Hannah seems adrift, I can only imagine how much more detached she could feel as circumstances evolve.

More Detached
When we went to see Jane Eyre on Saturday I sensed a sister-feeling to the young Jane who was chastised for pummeling her teasing, bigger cousin. Even without the enticement of twelve 11-year old actors on stage, Hannah would have been hooked.

It was an excellent production! I notice the costumes - it's where my heart is at - and these were quite wonderful. The subtle differences between styles presented so much information subconsciously. The set and costumes were the work of the same designer - Patrick Clark - and it all worked beautifully together. Excellent staging, a wonderful adaptation, and top rate acting - it was one of the most enjoyable afternoons I've spent at the theater. Just being at the Guthrie felt like a religious experience.

It's been years since I've seen a play - I hesitate to go because it dredges up so many deferred (denied?) dreams. I love costuming, and perhaps someday I'll return to it (when the kids are older) but for now I channel the need to dress folks up in period bodices into my hand knitting design.

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Friday, March 21, 2008

You're Beautiful When You're Messy

St. Paul, you are an amazing city. I try to hate you in the snow, but you're so beautiful - I can't stay mad at you...

Yes, it's snowed again. At least 2", with 2" more to come today. Happy Good Friday!

At some point I'm sure Gerry will take the kids sledding (having them at an age where they can basically do the heavy lifting themselves, and we just have to drive there and watch them is phenomenal) and I'll stay home and get some pattern writing stuff out of the way and maybe I'll even knit.

And then - drumroll - tonight we're actually going to try to ATTEND SERVICES at our temple. Finally. It's only taken months of membership.

We've meant to go for quite a while, but laziness more than anything else has held us back. It's true, I'm away many Friday nights, but I'm also HERE often.

Yes, Gerry's in tremendous pain at the end of most days - but somehow we manage to get out to dinner every now and then, so we should be able to get to services.

Besides, it will be a wonderful thing for the kids to see that Gerry and I actually KNOW the services - know the words and the tunes - and that will encourage them to become more active. Maybe.

I have a new routine where I walk Max a mile to school on non-messy days;
  • It's good for him (he burns off energy that needs to go somewhere!)
  • It's good for me (I get a 2 mile walk out of the deal)
  • It's good for Atticus (he's the happiest dog in the world when he's out for a walk.)
"BUT YOU'VE GOT TO HAVE..."
I ran into a few friends on the way home from walking Max to school and we had the world's longest casual chat over free coffee at Kowalski's. It's so wonderful to know folks in the neighborhood - and even better to just run into someone and have an impromptu chat!

So they'll be over to dinner this weekend - yay! It's good to have folks over, and gives Gerry a chance to see friends in a comfortable setting.

Speaking of friends, I'll be going to see Jane Eyre at the Guthrie this weekend with a friend and we're taking our daughters! (Thank you, Flan!)

I hope Hannah likes it - it's a wonderful story - and we've got good seats! They're papering the house as reservations are down due to the holiday weekend, so we're very lucky.

This will be my first time at the Guthrie (high time!) so I'll be attending two different kinds of 'services' this weekend.

WRITING
I've starting putting together the piles of essays I've been writing over the past year - threading them on some kind of narrative cord (silk or polyester?) - and these will, with luck, turn into a book that I'm self publishing late this summer.

It's about our last year here in St. Paul, dealing with the stuff that's come across our path (both good and bad) and I hope I'm able to portray the deep wonder, gratitude and apprehension that's marked every day in this wild year.

My tentative title for the book makes me cringe a little, but I'm sticking to it. Knit with Courage, Live with Hope. Love also makes me cringe a little - often with something that's felt deep in the soul there's a little bit of squirm factor.

No matter what title is chosen, folks will both love and hate it, so I figure I should pick one that sums the year up succinctly. (Knit, Pray, Love was taken...)

HOME IMPROVEMENT
I think I'm happiest with paint spattered on various parts of my body, a roller in my hand and a finished wall in front of me. We did a little moving of walls in the basement (had to move a drain) and in so doing we created a room for me to use as an office. So before I went to NY I painted it, and yesterday Gerry did touch up on all the holidays (light, unpainted spots) and then came the main event.

-:] The Epoxy Floor [:-

I'm more excited about this than I've been about almost anything this year. Which is a little sad, but it IS a nice floor...

We bought a kit at Menards with paint, epoxy activator, and colored chips to toss onto the wet paint for a terrazzo look. Actually, it's a 1950's kitchen look, but we love it!

I can't show you the actual basement yet, because it has to dry for 24 hours before we can walk on it (so it should be ready at 8:00 pm EDT) But here's the landing of the stairs.

Yes, I know the paint is for the basement, but as I painted myself over to the stairs I realized how BAD they looked, and I had enough left over so I just painted the steps, too. Note to self: Leaning over and paining the rises on stairs upside down is hard.

I actually painted myself right out the side door, then I left the paint, roller and empty can at the side of the house. And there they stayed all night. Evidently I was experiencing a lack of follow through...

The tossing of the chips (we used both grey blend and green blend) was very festive, rather like saying "Bon Voyage!" to folks on the dock as the Queen Mary pulls out. Or the Titanic. Let's hope not...

Gerry said he felt "like a fairy" as he tossed his dust around. My husband, some wacky fairy duster.

TEAM
Working on the floor with Gerry was so wonderful - it feels like FOREVER since we've done something like this together, and he's feeling well enough that painting the edges around the floor was right up his alley. He knew he'd suffer today - and he IS suffering - but it's something he really wanted to do.

He'd had a plan to put a ceiling up, and I tacitly approved. It was something he felt he had to do - really WANTED to do - and to stop him felt like taking Max's bionicles away. So off Gerry went to Menards to buy a "system" to put up a ceiling, and I bit my tongue. Doesn't Cokie Roberts say you can tell a good marriage from the bite marks on the tongue?

Weeks passed, He'd put time in on it, then he'd suffer for days. It became clear that this wasn't a good idea, but it was hard to actually say this to him. The former Gerry would have had the ceiling up in a weekend. Present Gerry was having a very hard time.

Part of me wonders if he was dragging his feet because he's a procrastinator (always has been...) or if he was going slow because on some level it was beyond his current ability and he didn't want to face that fact.

We'll never know because I made an executive decision and relieved him of the dilemma. We returned all of the unused ceiling stuff (95% of it) to Menards where we bought the aforementioned epoxy basement floor paint. A small heartbreak.

I'm hoping the epoxy floor will make up for it. Doesn't an epoxy floor make everything better?

Gerry's lost so much this year, the last thing I want him to lose is his sense of self - or self-respect.

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Friday, February 22, 2008

6:00 am and He's Got It.

It looks like Gerry's joined the ranks. This is far more serious than me being ill (and I tried to be so careful about washing my own stuff, cleaning up after myself with bleach, etc.) but now Noro has claimed another victim.

If we're lucky he'll have the Maxie-brief version. I'm getting him into the doc immediately, though - we just can't afford for him to lose any more weight.

Dang. The cats are beside themselves - he's their hero.

[Just before he became ill I woke from a very bad dream where I had dropped the F-bomb in front of a class and was an hour late for the next class... What a nightmare. I think it's because I used the word Damn (as in "Damn your eyes!") in my last post. The things our subconscious frets over...]

7:30 Update:
Hannah has it. She was all dressed for school, flute in the backpack and shoes ready to don, and the next thing I knew she was paying homage to the porcelain goddess.

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Thursday, February 21, 2008

Noro Virus

Argh. It's still hard to stand for more than 30 minutes, sitting is rough and I'm not keeping food down. Still.

Someone said it's called the Noro Virus. I looked it up, and that seems to make sense.

I'm changing colors for regular, long intervals, so it sounds like Noro...

How Max recovered in 1 day is beyond me, but you know kids - anything to humiliate their parents...
Here's my 15 minutes of local fame (photoshopped, I'll admit...)
BTW, The needles I'm using in the photo are Extreme Knitting Needles by Rachel John from The Bagsmith


A friend who works for the local paper (Thanks London!!) sent me a pdf of the piece that ran in the Trib this weekend. And our contractor brought over a copy (his respect for me has increased exponentially) and - as soon as I'm able to walk more than 30 feet - I'll go pick up a copy that someone has kindly left for me at the Yarnery.

In the mean time, I'm going back to bed.

I'm going to make Gerry switch sides with me tonight so I'm closer to the bathroom. TMI, I know...
Oh, I feel like hell.

Damn you, mystery person at the MOA - probably on one of the rides - who didn't wash your hands and gave this evil plague to my son and thus to me (that's my theory...)

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Sunday, February 17, 2008

One Year

NOTE: If anyone in the Twin Cities has the Star Tribune from MN for Sunday, can I get a copy? I heard I was in it, and looked in it at the newsstand but I didn't see me (so I didn't buy it...) but I guess I should have!

A year ago yesterday we MOVED here to St. Paul. What a year, huh? We are SO glad to be here - we love it, and feel loved and welcomed into the Twin Cities.

So here's a little knitting tip to thank St. Paul for having us - I hope you find it helpful! Unlimited tail - and they guys love it, too...

I want to write more about our year this week, but right now I need to report on the doings at the Mall of America.

Out Knit
The Great American Knit Out was this weekend here at the MOA - right in my own backyard in Bloomington, MN - and I am so tired my feet could fall off and I wouldn't even walk over to pick them up

(huh? I'm tired, I can't make a decent analogy to save my cat.) Harley Davidson boots & Patons needles, that's what I saw a LOT of this weekend!

Lots of folks came from in all over the place - they drove, flew, a few even swam up the Mississippi from Iowa (we're hardy stock here in the midwest) and the lines were absolutely amazing.

One woman in line, when asked what she was waiting for, answered, "I don't know - something free..."

I was asked to do a demo on Saturday - which was fun, but I think the organizers of the event (the CYCA) didn't figure on how many folks might want to hear me.

There was a table and 16 (sixteen) chairs set up for my combination knitting demo. Sixteen.

By 10:30 there were already over 40 folks waiting. So much for the 16 chairs.

I decided to start early, so I gave one demo at 10:30, then did another demo for at least 50 new folks at 11:00 (my assigned time.)

I know there were at least 100 folks because that's how many flip books I brought (and gave - personally - only to folks who STAYED for either demo...)

My voice was totally gone, though. I had to do a sort of throaty yell to be heard over the Mall crowds (and over the 4-sided video extravaganza that was going on behind me - sheesh!)

I had been under the impression that I'd be doing a demo on a raised platform, in front of folks with some kind of microphone - silly me...

It's a shame they didn't offer classes, I think they would have SOLD OUT!

Then there was an author's panel discussion (once again, it was SO hard to hear - that's one loud mall...) but essentially it was fun. After that the authors settled down and signed some books and talked to folks who'd come in from out of town.

It's always a delight to see friends in the yarn biz that I don't get to see on a regular basis - Kristen Nicholas, Edie Eckman, Vickie Howell, Nicky Epstein, Kim Werker, Karen Thalacker (my first time meeting her - she was lovely!)

The big event for me was later in the afternoon when they had the fastest knitter contest. I wasn't competing in the international competition - I'm not in that league - I was just doing the anyone-who-wants-to-compete amateur heat.

170 in 3 Minutes

I almost missed it! (I ran to the bathroom - more lines - and when I got back the amateur contestants were already on stage...) So I rushed up and took a seat on stage in the back.

They had everyone use the same yarn, and it was my first time with it, so I didn't do as well as I hoped. I did, however, knit a total of 170 sts in 3 minutes, which was the best among our little group (2nd and 3rd place were 125 and 105 - I think - I may be off with that...)

It's nowhere near the international speeds, but I was proud! I did so well, I'm certain, because of the Signature Needles I was using. They're amazing - absolutely stunning. I'm sort of a long, metal needle nut (I know they're not everyone's cup of tea) and the goal of knitting is NOT to knit fast.

But this is what I do for a living and I'm very much in love with my new metal needles. Mwa.

Then they had the REAL competition - and it's no secret I was cheering for Miriam Tegels. (I was cheering for everyone, but Miriam is a dear friend and I really wanted her to do her best!)

There were 3 heats, each contestant took their best time out of their 3 attempts, and each contestant got a bit better each time. Hazel Tindall (far right in photo) from the Shetland Isles won - she had 265 sts in 3 minutes and blew EVERYONE out of the water! Miriam (center) was next with 247 sts, and Wannietta (Wan-ee-ta) Prescod (left) came in third. And, get this, Hazel had her own specially made needles and Miriam and Wannietta both used Signature Needles. Coincidence? We think not.

It was SO much more exciting than it sounds - and folks were holding their breath. A fight almost broke out between rowdy fans of Hazel & Miriam. Not really... but I like to think so.

After the fastest crocheter contest (Lisa Gentry won that one - she must have been ONE tired woman with exhausted digits!) Miriam, her husband, Franz, Jennifer (Dominitrix) and Gerry and the kids and I all went out for a nice St. Paul dinner and I got to show off my new home town.

I returned briefly Sunday for lunch with Nicky and her great husband - she's such a doll - and got to visit a bit more with fiber friends. Now I'm home - so tired - and ready to knit.

O Project!
I'm starting on a colorwork using Vermont Organic Fibers OWool & Balance. I'm using both of them together in a tone-on-tone fair isle look, in bands of color.

I'm so excited - I was inspired by a button. Now let's see how fast I can knit this up...

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Thursday, February 14, 2008

A Warm Glow

We've decided to forego any kind of VD dinner so we can just spend some time here at home with the kiddies - maybe we'll order pizza? The best Valentine's Day ever!

Feb 13th is the anniversary of the day that Gerry actually fell in love with me (I held out for another week or so...) so it's a sweet time for us. I fixed him some chicken, he was won over! Maybe I'll just make him chicken tonight...

While at the Pittsburgh Knit & Crochet Out, I ran into a friend of a friend (Annie Adams - she makes the most beautiful jewelry and knitting notions) and she gifted me with some knitting accoutrement to use in a new design.

And the earrings - well, I'm totally in love with them. Hannah immediately noticed them at the airport, which made me feel very - well, oddly special and quite "hip" (as the kids say these days, "dawg"...)

It's very inspiring stuff, and - having just received the IK Winter Themes and a box of Vermont O-Wool for another design - I'm in inspiration heaven!

I had such a wonderful time with my cousin - it's such a delight to spend time with her! Aside from being one of the kindest folks I know, she's funny and we get each other's jokes - we have the same sense of humor.

After her chemo (not radiation - I misspoke in my previous blog post) she was feeling good enough to have lunch so we met her sister in law and laughed and laughed all through lunch!

Another cousin (My dad's sisters' daughter, who - because of our odd family and my mom's late childbearing years - is more like an aunt) joined us and we laughed some more. I think in my few days there I was able to stop by and visit with just about everyone with whom I still have some kind of tie - that would be 4 - but mostly I got to spend some time with my cousin.

I spent a lot of time on this trip photographing the ground.

I took photos of my parents markers at the Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Parkersburg.

Everything was snow covered, but I found their graves immediately.

My mom's looks so - bare - compared to all the info that's on my dad's. I'm wishing now I would have put "Mother, Wife, Daughter, Aunt, Patriot..." or something like that on hers.

Then I found some beautiful street bricks in Marietta (pre-asphalt all the streets were like this in town) I found a place where I could get a shot of all 4 types of bricks. Yes, I'm a very exciting person with whom to spend time.

During one of our long drives to Marietta I casually mentioned that I'd read a few years ago about an outbreak of "Mad Squirrel Disease" in Kentucky - a series of symptoms they'd traced to the eating of Squirrel brains. We were smug.

In WV there's a totally unearned superior attitude about Kentucky... I'm sure it goes both ways.

And - how often does THIS happen in a week - I just turned on the radio to hear a live national show from LA discussing the same thing. Once again, my finger is firmly on the pulse of the Squirrel eating nation.

The drive up to Pittsburgh felt long - but I gauged the gas perfectly and as I pulled into the rental garage the "Low Fuel" light came on. I hate doing the pre-pay and then returning the tank full.

I slept more on the flight than I usually do, resting. Rest is very good. And knitting a little, and taking photos of the scary snow out the window. And I read.

And then the kids - the husband - all at the airport and all wonderful!

Knit Out

This weekend is the Great American Knit Out at the Mall of America. I'm doing a free demo on Combination Knitting at 11:00 on Saturday (by the Sears, where America Knits) and - perhaps - competing in the fastest knitter. They don't make it easy to figure out the times for that competition...

If you'll be near Bloomington, I'd love to see you! If it's a really big crowd I'll probably just stand and yell at people, that should be amusing...

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Monday, February 11, 2008

Cousins

10 Truths Jan & I Determined
While Sitting at Panera's This Evening

#1 - Cancer Sucks
#2 - Coffee makes Annie speed
#3 - Our great grandma, Matt, (born 1860's and who didn't quite believe in Radio) would be blown away by the internet.
#4 - Jan's mom was the prettier sister
#5 - My mom was the more beautiful sister
#6 - Gerry's the best dad in the world
#7 - Jan is well loved
#8 - Free Wifi at Panera's is the BEST
#9 - My lungs + Jan's 7 dogs = bad breathing
#10 - Microtel is the most inexpensive hotel around Parkersburg

Tomorrow Jan has two radiation sessions, she starts early in the morning and when she finishes - depending on how she feels - we may have an early dinner with her sister in law (Jan's brother, my cousin Tommy, passed away a few years ago from cancer, too.)

But now I sleep. Tired, tired, tired.

Driving down from Pittsburgh I felt much more tired than I thought I was - driving during the afternoons is always hard for me (it must be the sun) because I just want to close my eyes! There will be a LOT of driving when I'm teaching in the NYC area at the end of the month - time to stock up on Red Bull.

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Friday, February 08, 2008

Bizarro Day

I'm blue.

Everything just feels slightly off kilter today. Wha'dup?

I arrived in Pittsburgh today after what felt like a VERY long flight - one of those time/space relativity things, evidently, the flight was no longer than normal, but it felt like it was 7 hours.

Einstein used to take this MSP to Pittsburgh flight.

But I was SO cramped in my seat, my knees digging into the seat of the guy in front of me (who reclined... c'mon dude - it's DAYLIGHT, you can't be that tired!)

I got almost the entire brim of a hat I'm working up in Schaefer Susan (cotton) and I'm liking it, but I didn't bring the millinery wire I'd set out to pack.

The rental car went smoothly (I have an HHR this time - my first time in one of those), my luggage was waiting for me, and after one false start I found the hotel (I'd forgotten what it's like to drive in the hollows of Appalachia - I'm glad it's not snowing!)

After check in I settled in for a shower, and was pretty surprised when an odd woman popped into my room. "Helloooooo?"

When I called out, she apologized and left, but I didn't see her so I don't know if she was a confused guest or housekeeping. There was a broken glass in the bathroom - I'm thinking maybe she was coming in to get it?

Payschmoadz* Frustration
Then I opened my email and started an infuriating session with my pdf pattern delivery service (I don't think I've ever received such sarcastic and nasty customers service from any company. From the emails I've received, it feels like it might be run by a bunch of frat boys.)

They've been overcharging me, it's functionally impossible to downgrade to a lesser service level, and I'm getting a lot of emails from folks who've tried to download patterns and are having a very hard time.

One very sarcastic email prompted me to write back that I felt like posting the whole darned correspondence on my blog. I got this reply,

"I wouldn't post any of our communication if I were you. Read our terms of service."
Translation:
"This is a nice little website you've got here, it would be a shame if something happened to it..."

Oooh, I'm shaking...

Jerk.

*update: I received an unsigned email from the customer service stating: "This post must have all references to P------z removed immediately. Not only is it defamatory, it is libelous and has material inaccuracies." So they're removed.

Show Horse or Work Horse?
This is one of those rare trips where - before I have even walked into a class - I'm feeling like a disappointment to the folks who've hired me.

Perhaps it's a commentary on the fear everyone's feeling about the economy, or perhaps I'm a dud, but my classes did NOT sell out this time (so far) and it's making me feel very apologetic. I guess there's still a chance for folks to fill up the classes tomorrow.

When I saw the broken tumbler in the bathroom I thought, "I feel like that glass..." Fragile and transparent.

WHY AM I BLUE?
(or, if you're going to whine, you may as well do it up red!)

Is it because I'm traveling again?
I like to travel - really! I like visiting venues, teaching folks, interacting with knitters. I get energy from it - inspiration - and I enjoy the time alone while I'm settling into a new hotel or waiting at an airport (excellent people watching...)

Is it because it's February?
I've heard this is the hardest time of the year for a lot of folks, and I'm definitely living in a place that has less sunlight than I'm used to.

Is it too much work?
The basement, after moving a wall because we had to add a drain, is a MESS and there's DUST all over the place. Don't worry, I'm wearing a mask... But the mop-up is excruciating.

Is it too little work?
No designs currently in any mags, no current books - everything I'm doing right now is entirely independent. I'm a wildcatter hand knit designer.

Is it Gerry's health?
It's true he's in a LOT of pain - and that affects all of us. But his movement is pretty good. Physical therapy is going well and we're sort of in a holding pattern. A to-have and to-holding pattern, evidently.

Is it my cousin's health?
I'm visiting her in Parkersburg after I finish teaching here in Pittsburgh.
The recurrence seems to be more serious than we'd hoped.

I wrote in late December:
But the best gift by far? This line from an email from my cousin in WV whose breast cancer had recurred. I shoved it so far out of my mind, I didn't write about it (although I couldn't help but dwell on it...) Here's what she wrote in an email this week:
The best news is that my surgeon said the lymph node and where it had metastacised was encapsulated so he got it ALL in one swoop!!!! And I only have to have a few radiation treatments to clean up what might be left.
She called to tell me she'd be here to boss me around for as long as I can stand her. She's more like a big sister than a cousin, so I can definitely stand it.
Once again, I'm residing in one of those 'in between places' that are so hard to inhabit. When I finish teaching here on Sunday I'll drive down and spend a few days with her - we'll do lunch, radiation, a girls day out. Stupid old cancer.

I'm happy she's here, happy I'm here, I'm happy we're ALL here (damnit!)

But I'm fearing the future, terrified of the empty spaces (all those holes that have cropped up around me in the past few years. Something I said? My breath?), and I'm not sure about my ability to handle the bridge between where I am and where I need to travel.

Geeze Louise, who died and left me in charge of being in charge.

Wait, that's not funny.


Is it my weight?
I wish I were thin and I wish I were short(er).

But I'm not.

I am walking a lot, eating okay, doing better than I have at some times in my life - not as well as I'd like - but not badly enough to beat myself up over. And I won't beat myself over the fact that I end sentences with prepositions, either.

And I'll never get my legs to fit into the space they give you on a plane.

But I just saw on TV that Queen Latifah's doing Jenny Craig
(oh, get your minds out of the collective gutter!)

I promise tomorrow I'll be cheerier. I really need to see some students, dang it.

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Monday, January 21, 2008

How Dry I Am

I've been on an unexpected hiatus - a little break - a vaca - holiday. I'm not sure why, but I've been feeling sort of dry. Dry skin, dry hair (and looking oh-so-grey), dry wit - and a dry well.

I've been writing a LOT of patterns in the past few days, doing a lot of math.

When my mind wants to move in that direction, I let it - it obviously knows better than I do in these matters. Numbers have a tendancy to fill my head and make it hard for me to think about other things, like blogging. So I've been quiet, but working!

I'm making nice progress on a surplice top which I'm very excited about. I think it will be a flattering look on just about ANYONE, and it's a fun knit, too! This yarn is stunning - so gorgeous - and it's been flying off of my needles.

Here the Yarn Place Bel Canto photographed with the Knit Picks Options needles (because they're wonderful and the project matches them!)

But the blogging was coming slowly, and I didn't want to force it. Dry well. So I figured instead of pushing it, I'd just let a little snow fall and try to balance myself out. Take some garlic, apply some gold bond lotion and see if I couldn't ferment a bit.

Cold, Baby!
Hannah had a sleepover on Friday - she was so excited, and had a BLAST! I thought she had fencing on Saturday morning - she'd neglected to tell me it was cancelled due to the holiday weekend - so I was up at 7:00 on Saturday to drive out to Suburban TC only to have her tell me when I arrived at 8:30, "Oh, mom, there's no fencing today!"

But it was a stunning morning - and I was very glad that I was out, even though I wouldn't have done it on my own. The sun was shining, the snow was blowing and it was a brisk -10 degrees (wind chill in the -30's - here's a photo of my car's temperature gauge, I'm pointing South)

It makes a person feel ALIVE, I tells ya. And not in the ' soccer team stranded in the plane crash in the Andes' sense of the word...

I remember 2 years ago I was teaching in Chicago during a VERY cold spell. I got into my rental car one day to see -6 and couldn't believe how frozen I felt. Yet Saturday - as cold as it was - somehow it seemed different. Is my blood thickening?

Since it was the coldest day since we'd arrived, it seemed good to celebrate by rushing for tickets to A Prairie Home Companion. Could there be a better day to stand outside and wait for our number to be called?

A good friend waited with us - Gerry and Max waited inside. So while the girls froze the boys schmoozed. We were soon the proud recipients of the last 4 seats in the theater at $15/each.

Our friend - who lives near the theater and had strolled over to meet us - graciously bowed out since we would have entered into an arm wrestling match to see who got the standing room ticket (After you! Oh, no, after YOU!)
The seats were scattered through the balcony, but close enough to that I could establish mom-eye-contact with just about everyone. Two seats were one in front of the other, so that's where Gerry and Max sat (so that G could keep an eye on M)

I have to say both kids did really well, even though it was clear they were getting near boredom as the 2 hour show came to a conclusion. I was proud that we could take them to the theater, not sit right next to them, and still have them behave in a respectable manner. Yay, kids!

Networking
Gerry attended a Multiple Myeloma group this weekend - he really enjoys getting together with the folks, but he wishes that there were more meetings. The next one was in 6 weeks. I wish that he knew a few local MM folks just to get together every week or so for coffee. Maybe when the weather changes.

Adina
I was shocked and very sad to hear that Adina Klein will no longer be the face of Vogue Knitting. I have really enjoyed working with her - she's a wonderful person and has had a strong and positive impact on both VK and Knit.1.

I'm really sorry to see her go, and hope to see her again soon in a very visible yarn related position, she's too good to not get snapped up somewhere soon! Here's a nice article about her by Crochet Insider, with a lovely photo of her, too!

Taxes
Getting everything together for the taxes was a not-so-fun way to spend the afternoon yesterday, but Gerry and I got a lot of stuff figured out. Now we're waiting for the 1099's and other surprises, then I'll input it all and see how it falls.

The Power of Dreams for 2008
I know that given everything we've been through in the past year - and in light of all of the help we've received - it may be an odd time to think about dreams. Or maybe not.

When I have these fantasies I ask myself, "Who the heck do you think you are, trying to set all this stuff up..." and I answer, "A mom who wants to make some astounding memories for her family while the making is good..."

Being in a similar situation as a kid - my dad became ill when I was 11 and steadily declined for the next 5 years until his death when I was 16 - I realize how crystalized those 5 years have become in my memory.

I also remember how grey and depressing that time was - and not just because it was Toledo in the late 70's - and my dad had a whole different set of issues than Gerry does. Alcohol & prescription drug addiction, for one thing...

But ultimately, life is beautiful - life is a gift. In the midsts of the deepest pile of sh*t in the universe, we have the potential to live the joy.

I guess I want my kids to look back and remember the joy when they think of these years we're going through now.

It took me decades to slough off the layers of pain and hurt that I'd buried myself in during that time - my protective covering - and I don't want Hannah and Max to have the same burden.

Dream 1 - Paris with Hannah
I've had a dream to take Hannah to Paris in October for over 5 years. Every year something has come up to make the trip not possible (first it was 911, then I became sick the next year. Then my brother died, the next year my cousin had breast cancer surgery, and the year after that I had to travel to LA for business and life was too busy. We all know what happened since then...)

So this year I'm starting a Hannah-to-Paris savings account, and I'm crossing my fingers that come October there will be nothing to prevent us going. I really should look into possible teaching opportunities there in October (although my French is nowhere NEAR good enough to teach in that language!) to make the trip more viable.

Dream 2 - Family Lake Fun in MN
Alternatively, and more realistically, we're investigating renting a house somewhere in MN (or Wisc) this summer for a week - maybe two - so that we can invite some friends we haven't seen in a year out from NJ to experience the joy that is Minnesota.

It may work better to find a retreat type place where friends could rent small cabins, too, so that we can be all together but able to find some solitude. And also share the financial burden more easily.

Anyone know of a place like that...?

So I'll dream about a nice, warm MN evening on a lake with Gerry surrounded with good, old friends.

And I'll dream about croissants in a cafe, or crpes while strolling along the Seine, with my girl - while I watch the snow falling in the alley.

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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Dances with Happy

When someone finishes one of my projects and sends me a photo, I join in the dance!

Here's a shot of a beautiful woman at TNNA who gave me a hug and some kind words - and THEN I noticed she was from Maumee (I'm from Toledo - they're next to each other...)

And THEN I noticed her groovy skirt! Right off the cover of Romantic Hand Knits! I totally forgot the rule about not taking photos, and I snapped a shot of her in the skirt. It was the first one I'd seen except for the one I'd knit for the book - and, I shouldn't admit this - but until I actually SEE one of my patterns knit up I sort of only half believe that it's 'real' So this was a stellar moment for me!

The skirt has fondly become known as, "The Butt Skirt" around our house because I have the sense of humor of a 6 year old. You're all just lucky I don't go into the fart jokes on a regular basis.

The icing on the cake? This adorable little shot of a friend's daughter who is wearing a scaled down version of the skirt - and I've heard she's very happy! She wanted the same skirt mom made for herself - and I am so proud!

Along the same lines, I teach a Mitered Handbag Class and - because the class is only 3 hours long I'm generally long out of town before anyone is anywhere NEAR finished with their bag.

A student from a recent class in Virginia (Hi Joe!) sent me these shots that she took of her bag pre and post felted. She, too, has a 10 tweener daughter to model her stuff. This made me SO happy - I always wonder if folks actually continue on with the projects we start in class!

HELPFUL ADVICE FROM FRIENDS
First of all - thank you SO MUCH for all the suggestions about local hotel pools. I hadn't even thought of that - but I will, now!

I'd thought the JCC pool would be good (the whirlpool) because it seems to be a small group that uses it - but on Friday Gerry has his first PT session and hopefully we'll find more info on theraputic pools in the STP area then. Thanks, also, for the Sister Kenny suggestions! There's so much I have to learn about this area!

You know, I got an email from one of the accountants I'd contacted and she mentioned that her fees for corporate clients average around $1,000 - and I think I panicked.

I've decided, however, after getting all of my tax ducks in a row that the best route is to do the Turbo Tax thing, which already seems rather intuitive to me (I'm a Quicken girl), then if I'm feeling iffy about the return I'll take it to an accountant for a review. I'm sort of a geek, anyway, I love math.

And I feel that for various reasons it would be good for me to get my mind wrapped around the whole tax situation (assets, etc.) of our family now rather than in an emergency situation later...

Today was spent mostly on a doctor visit up in Maplewood - Gerry's starting Zometa again (yay bones!) and tonight is the Hebrew School / Fencing marathon we call Wednesday Evenings. Then - yes - Project Runway. Ahhhhh. Gerry's pretty knocked out - Zometa does that - but it also strengthens him so we'll take the tiredness!

I'm working up that Yarn Place Bel Canto and I'm amazed at how quickly it's knitting up! It's probably the needles, but much of is the sheer beauty of the yarn.

We all know how much faster we work when we see lovely fabric coming off of our needles! (BTW, the needles in the previous post - as here - are Signature Needles. I also was using a Knit Picks wooden needle in the former image)

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Friday, January 11, 2008

So I'm here at TNNA, sort of feeling at loose ends because I'm not here with any Purpose - just strolling around, eating chocolate and drinking the occasional glass of wine. I'm showing my face - as my husband put it - so that folks know that I'm still around, viable and teaching (and designing!)

I have to say that I've been inspired by a lot of the yarns I've seen. There aren't a lot of NEW NEW NEW yarns, but the ones I've seen are extraordinary.

Artyarns has some new beaded and sequined yarns that are heavenly, and I'll probably be working them up in something soon. The problem with coming out here to Long Beach for the summer show is that I get so darned inspired to make SUMMER projects. Just when everyone needs winter ones to prepare for the next TNNA.

Lorna's Laces has new colorways that are exquisite, and Fiesta has yarns that I'd previously overlooked (high time I paid them attention!)

Honestly, I just feel that I'm too scattered and empty headed to do any of the yarns justice right now - so I'll try to write about them later!

Folks are incredibly kind - everyone's been asking about Gerry, very sweet, and their empathy is not so much a burden as a gauntlet of love that I have to run without bursting into tears. I did that today with Nicki Epstein - she's got that West Virginia thing going on that makes me cry - but otherwise I've been able to stay pretty dry in the eye. A minor miracle!

The weather here is lovely - I made a good choice staying at the Holiday Inn (free wifi as well as a decent price) and the rental car has been a dream. Yay. Bravo rental car, though, was a nightmare - so don't rent from them unless you're prepared to bring proof of insurance (I've NEVER run into that, and I rent an average of 2 cars a month!) and THAT was an annoyance...

Previous Post Note
I WAS using two needles - the KnitPicks wooden ones, and my new Signature needles. I was in the process of changing from one needle to the other, and thought I'd snap a photo of my two new needles that I love so much!

The yarn I was using was Malabrigo - which is a dream to knit. They have a new yarn called Dos which I cannot WAIT to try!

Par-Tee!
Last night Potter Craft had their party - always the best! - and I went with Jess & Casey from Ravelry. We'd had dinner and I drove them there - getting slightly lost and stopping so I could take pictures of the Queen Mary and of them in front of the lighted bridge. Favorite part of the evening - when Casey said, "You didn't tell us you were a little crazy..." So astute.

The party was lovely - I was more low key that usual but got to spend some quality time with Pam Allen and almost watched a fight break out. Damn. Now I know why they weren't letting folks have full bottles of wine (just by the glass) Someone could have broken off a bottle and we would have seen some REAL fun. I'm exaggerating - but I do love to see folks having a good time!

I've run into SO many yarn shop owners - and it reminded me of how much travel I do! I hit a lot of yarn shops, and love to see folks at TNNA. I'm so glad I came. Thank you, Gerry!

Unite
Tonight a group of us are gathering to briefly discuss the whole UNITE thing - I stood up at the Designer & Teachers Meeting yesterday and did my impression of Norma Rae. I don't anticipate it being a very LONG meeting - just a touching base before we flee to our various commitments, and a promise to stay in touch via yahoo group or email. The internet is an amazing thing!

I had lunch with Eunny Jang today, it's the first time we've had a chance to sit and really MEET in person, and she's SO lovely (and funny, and genuine!) She has QUITE a job, and she's managing it with more grace than I could ever muster! It was a fun lunch, and I'm glad we could connect!

I'm off to see more yarn, a few more needles and maybe scam another glass of wine. I need to be careful, though - I'm driving up to LAX tonight at 9:30 for my midnight flight. And I had the presence of mind to arrange a wake up call at 12:30am last night so that I was roused in time to log onto Northwest Airlines and reserve a bulkhead seat. I swear I did that in my sleep. But when I got up, the bulkhead was mine, and the trip home will be SO much more enjoyable!

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Wednesday, January 02, 2008

2007 into 2008

So here's how we spent our New Years' Eve!

I woke early and rushed over to Minneapolis to pick up a carload of books - and I DO mean a carload of books!

Confessions has sold well this Fall, so I placed a large-ish order so I wouldn't have to think about reprinting in 2008. But I will have to think about storage...

On the way I stopped at Menards for some plumbing stuff. Then after the books I dropped by Costco for the 48 pack of single serving pizzas (again, storage...) and other feed-the-kids items.

Then I dropped by the local movie theater and picked up tickets for that evening.

Home for unpacking, storage consultations with my inner organizational guru, a sort of quick dinner and then off to drop Gerry at the movie theater (he held the seats) and then drop the kids off at a girls' soccer club babysitting evening (they had a BLAST!) and then a run back to the theater to find Gerry and settle in for a double feature of our making.

We saw Juno - and I urge ALL of you to go see this funny, quirky, insightful, tender, wise movie. It's so well cast, so well directed - it's a pure delight. And - special bonus - it takes place in the Twin Cities!

Or at least I think so ... I was late arriving so I missed the first part of the movie, but it really LOOKED like the area around here. And where else would you be if you were driving over to Mankato, up to St. Cloud and over to Stillwater (all references in the movie)?


I couldn't find Gerry so I sat alone. Apparently I was enjoying the movie a little too much because the couple 2 rows in front of me moved (I was waaay in the back, it wasn't crowded.)

I really didn't think I was laughing any louder than anyone else in the theater - I think they were sort of having a fight, so they were especially tense.

Sitting alone was odd, but good. I knew that Gerry was in the theater (in fact, he was only about 4 rows in front of me - I couldn't see him) but I was enjoying a certain anonymity, alone in my seat, knitting like a maniac. Good times.

Somehow during the day I managed to get a nice amount of work done on the LL Cable Sweater, and I sent that off today along with the red cropped cardigan. A nice feeling.

When the movie ended Gerry and I met up and shuffled over to Subway for some delicious 6" sandwiches. Now THAT is a NYE date.

Then back to the Grandview to see Sweeny Todd. Again.

Gerry hadn't seen it - he really wanted to - and I enjoyed it so much last week that I figured I could easily see it again. And - it was even better. It's been a long time since I've seen a movie TWICE in the theater - but this one was worth it!

But the best part of the evening was picking up the kids and driving downtown for a very late night visit to Mickey's Diner.

Fries and French toast and cheese sandwiches. I had a chicken sandwich. Our waitress sang, a girl with 3 shades of pink hair was sitting at the counter, and life was good.

We debated stopping by the huge Adirondack chair on Smith by the bridge and all piling into it for the countdown, but we were just too cold.

Back home we tried to watch the NY Times Square coverage, but we found it very depressing (Gerry said it looked like a telethon, he wasn't far wrong!) so we watched the Garrison Keillor special on PBS, which really was more fitting (and more fun!)

And then to our beds. Or, actually, all of us to our bed.

We all piled into bed to watch Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and dreamed of the changes that 2008 will bring... Iowa, if you're reading, please give Mr. Edwards a chance...

And thus ends a very hard year. And a very wonderful year. On to better things.

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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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