Sunday, March 25, 2012

The rest of the week passed quickly and warmly.  The ornamental pear trees are white puffs and I never noticed before but they have a rather unpleasant smell.  I kept hoping for a quick burst of rain this weekend to wash the pollen out of the air and to wash the blossoms off those trees.  No such luck.

Instead we had a "partly sunny" weekend.  Actually, there was little sun visible but also only a little bit of rain here and there.  The temperatures did drop (but not to the freezing point, Roxie) and we are wearing socks and sweatshirts again.

Saturday morning we all got up early because we had PLANS.  I was dropping Pk and Elanor off in the woods with Em and Kate and Kobold so they could hike.  First we dropped Em's car off at the end of the trail and I left them about a half mile from Apple Pie Hill in the Wharton State Forest.

As you can see, the sun is out.  Kate bought Kobold a backpack of his own that carried his water dish and water. 

I kissed everyone (but the dog) goodbye and drove the 45 minutes back toward civilization to keep my promise to myself to get my toes prettified. 

I was a bit concerned because as I headed toward home, the clouds were thickening and raindrops were splattering on the windshield.  I hoped my family was not getting rained on.

I waited only about 10  minutes for my pedicure which was not bad for a Saturday morning.  I have a hard time letting anyone else touch my feet.  I am so ticklish.  I was giggling throught the massage and pumicing of the feet  but it was worth it.  Just look at those fluorescent white feet with the cherry red toenails.

I also got a manicure but that is a nice, soft pink.  I think red on my fingers would be too distracting.  I would have to stop what I was doing to look at my hands.  I don't know how much work I'd get done if I were admiring my nails all day.

This took about an hour and I had just walked in the door of the house thinking I would eat and then hit a craft store, when I got a text to the effect that my family of intrepid explorers had taken the wrong trail and would now have a 13 mile hike instead of a 6 mile one.  I texted back (jokingly), "do you need me to rescue you?". 

The phone rang two minutes later.  Why yes, they would like me to rescue them.  Could I meet them at the Carranza Memorial?  They were only a mile or so from there. 

I said "of course" and looked for it on the computer and found directions.  About an hour away.  I couldn't put on shoes and socks yet since my toenails were dry but not hardened so I went back out in my sandals.  I wasn't a happy camper and when I pulled up to the spot that the GPS told me was THE spot, they were no where to be found.

I sat there and waited and a man pulled up in a pick up truck and got out with an axe in his hand.  Every horror movie I'd ever seen came flashing through my brain.  He was just using it to pound a stake with a sign on it into the shoulder of the road (what, he didn't have a mallet?) but for a split second, my heart was tap dancing.

He asked me if I was alright and I told him I was there to find my family ("yes, people know I am here so don't get any ideas with that axe") but I hadn't seen them yet.  He told me he'd passed a group down the road.  I drove down the road a bit and there they were all tired and happy to be picked up.

I was less than gracious but eventually got over my pique.  We all had Chinese food for dinner together and Em drove home.  I felt bad for giving my family bad attitude when they asked to be rescued but I eventually got over it. They couldn't help it and it's not like me to do that. I guess I was looking forward to some time for me more than I realized. Why would I feel guilty for feeling bad? I think it's programming from when I was a little girl. You know, 'always be nice, always help out, everyone else comes first' kind of thing. I was really indoctrinated into the cult of Being a Lady. It must go deeper than I thought.

Today we navigated through a different grocery store and it was not fun.  I don't get how it's organized.  I would put all the pasta in one aisle and call it the Pasta Aisle.  They put all the Italian brands of pasta with the Italian products (spaghetti sauce and such).  All the other brands were scattered around the aisles.  We were not impressed and will try another one next time. Eventually, we'll have to choose a new store to frequent.  I like the routine of going to the same place and knowing what I'm looking for. 

Tonight we're having Leftover Soup. There's some leftover roast beef and some leftover vegetables in the fridge.  Add some broth and some tomatoes and you have a yummy, tasty soup.  We'll have grilled cheese and call it good.

The day is flying by.  The laundry is almost done.  I love my new washer, even if it's still seems alien not to have an agitator in the middle and if it makes most of the major decisions.  The storm system that has been sitting on top of us all weekend seems to be moving along.  The day is brighter which is nice.

I'm looking forward to spinning some bats from The Cupcake Fiber Company that came yesterday.  They're adorably boxed in bakery style boxes so that the fiber arrives soft and fluffy and not all compacted.  Joan sells them on Etsy and if you spin, they're marvelous.  The one I ordered is bfl/silk in a deep chocolate brown.  I think it will be a joy to spin.

Wow my mind has wandered all around here today.  I think maybe it's stream of consciousness blogging but that assumes a consciousness!  I hope you are all well and enjoying your weekend.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

I am home today because, well, because I could.  We were expecting a delivery of a large and heavy piece of equipment.  It's a woodworking thing and since it's made of cast iron, it's weighty.

At 10 o'clock this morning, this pulled up out front.  I think it's the largest delivery truck that isn't delivering a house full of furniture that I've ever seen.  When Pk ordered his machine, he paid for delivery.  They sent an email saying that we had to pay an extra 34 dollars for the driver to put the package onto the liftgate and lowering it to the ground. 

He was incensed and called them and said we would cancel the order and buy it from someone else.   They relented and the driver lowered the large and heavy box to the street. 

We put it onto wheels and dragged it to the garage and he's been happily unpacking and putting together parts all day.  It will be a jointer (and I have no idea what it does but it's a pretty green color)

I spend most of the day working on my madlii's shawl and dozing in the chair.  I think my allergies are in full bloom.  I took some medication but it only can do so much.  My throat is sore and my head is stuffed.  I don't feel sick, just snotty.    Pk didn't really need me to help with his delivery but a day off is a day off.

I spent a day over the weekend playing with the alpaca that I washed.  Here is a bag of clean alpaca fuzz.   After a bit of time with the hand carders, it looks like a cloud. It's soft and feels so lovely.  I spun it into a single and will eventually make a 3 ply yarn. 

I have been practicing my navajo plying and have decided I like it.  It does use up the singles but the yarn it makes is round and nice and if I pay attention and do it carefully, it's nice.  The fluff still has some bits of grass in it even after carding.  I pull the bigger bits out as I spin it but inevitably some smaller bits remain.  Pk has already told me "that would make a great sweater for me".  I told him not to hold his breath.

This weekend, Pk and the girls are going hiking.  I'm driving them into the woods and then I'll have a day to myself.  I'm not sure what I'm going to do but I'm thinking of getting the first pedicure of the season.  I like to get one in the beginning of the season and then I can keep it up.  I let my toenails be naked all winter so they can rest and breathe. I'm looking forward to having bright red toes again.  A sure sign of spring (as if all these trees with the flowers weren't enough!).

Roxanne (from artwalk sock yarn) sent out a beautiful substitute yarn this month.  She used one of Monet's water lily paintings and a merino/cashmere/silk single to put it on.  It's a beautiful skein of yarn.  I spent some time last night looking for a pattern for a small scarf/shawl.  It's much too beautiful to be a pair of socks.  The greens and blues are speaking to me and I'm going to make Violets are Blue out of it.  It's a simple pattern that will show off the colors of the yarn and allow it to shine.  I have a few things going on so it'll wait but only for a bit.  I can't wait to play with the yarn.

I have so enjoyed having today off.  Clinic has been busy lately and not having to deal with three this week is like a blessing.  I have a stack of paperwork to finish when I get to work tomorrow but I am loving it today. 

My hair continues to grow.  I forgot how the humid weather affects it.  It just gets wavier and curlier as it gets more humid.  I have a lot of hair and I'm not used to it and don't know quite what to do with it.  I need to get some barrettes and such.  I can't wait for it to be long enough to just pull it back.  We're going to get temps up to almost 80 degrees this week.  It's unheard of and really unwelcome.  We've skipped right over March, April and May and have moved right into June.  Everyone is getting nervous that this all indicates a really hot summer.

I hope not.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Look at this beautiful purple and white crocus.  Our crocuses (croci?) have finally fought their way out from under the daffodils and are showing their faces to the world.

This has been an interesting week here in southern new jersey.  Besides the fact that the days are about 20 degrees warmer than they would normally be, the pollen is also starting to float along in the air making everyone miserable.  We don't usually have to worry about this for a few weeks yet. 

The not-really-scary-but-disconcerting-nonetheless thing was the car stalling and not restarting yesterday at the train station.  I got there before Pk so I got the car and pulled out of the lot to pull in front of the pickup area to wait for him.  This is standard procedure for whomever gets there first.  I got out of the lot and was working my way around the bend and the car stalled at a stop sign.  We have a stick and stalling is not a common event but it's not unheard of.  But this time, the car wouldn't restart.  It cranked enthusiastically and tried so hard but just wouldn't catch.  I let it roll backward toward the curb so that I wasn't blocking the intersection and sat down to wait for Pk.

We had to have our baby towed home and called Jim's dad, Big Jim, to ask for a recommendation for a good local mechanic.  He's an excellent mechanic but we don't want to take advantage of him for being a nice guy.  We just figured mechanics know who's good and whom to avoid.  He offered to come over and "take a look at it". 

I called my boss and he was very nice about letting me take today off to wait for Jim to come over.  It was a lovely day.  I napped and knitted until my right hand started to hurt so the knitting went away and I read the new Vogue Knitting sitting outside with Kate.

Jim and Pk played with different parts (and some very ominous sounding words were being said, words like "timing belt" and "fuel pump").  After an hour or so of poking and prodding, they determined that all we needed was a new fuse and a new ignition switch.  Much better!  We will be purchasing one tomorrow and Pk will see if he can replace it this weekend.

Whew!  Our guardian angels were working overtime! 

The good part was that I got to be home when this arrived!  It's the new cover for my phone.  For a lark, I downloaded the Tardis sound as an alternative ringtone.  It's actually very annoying and won't last long but it makes me smile for now.

I also updated the os for the phone and now have FaceTime.  It means I can see Pk if I call him on the phone.  It's just like StarTrek!  It's very cool.  There are a bunch of new settings I'll have to get used to but for right now, I have this new case and this wallpaper of the inside of the Tardis.  Yes, I know I am a geek.

Otherwise, things are going along well.  Work has been busy as insurance companies decide that they don't want to pay for medications and people are having to make changes that may change the way they feel.  It doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me since the meds they do want to pay for are just as expensive.  I've been having extensive phone conversations with their reps this week.  I don't forsee it changing anytime soon.  Health care in this country is broken and I am not going off on a rant, I promise.

Having a surprise day off in the middle of the week was kind of nice.  It'll make my week go by much quicker.  Our first Handle with Care training of the new year is Friday.  Funny thing (well, not really funny) is that the three new trainers have all backed out and it'll be Clarence and I.  This better not be the start of how the year is going to go.

Have a good end of the week!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Daylight Savings Time.  It's almost 5:30 and the sun is still fairly high.  It's a good thing that our electronic devices are smarter than we are because for the first time, we actually forgot.  One of the bad things about this is that I'm used to cooking dinner when the sun is going down.  Since that won't happen for at least another hour, I have to retrain myself or dinner will be very late all week!

We found out that our local grocery store is closing in about 6 weeks.  I have almost literally never shopped anywhere else.  Today was probably the last time we'll go there since Pk is afraid they'll stop stocking the shelves and I'm not sure I want to watch it slowly close down.  Almost 30 years and now I have to find a new regular store.  There's another one not too far but they're more expensive and the selection is not as varied. 

These lovely ladies are adding some color to the brown that is our front yard.  They've bloomed before most of the crocuses.  We have some of the more yellow daffodils but they're under the tree and don't get the strong morning light like these.  I love driving up and seeing them all waiting for me.  Like a little yellow welcoming committee.

We had a good weekend.  Pk spent most of it turning big blocks of wood into small bits of wood.  He is so thoroughly enjoying himself. 

I slept on and off all day yesterday.  I think my mind/body just needed to sleep.  I sat in a chair in the living room and alternately dozed and read a comic book from about 10 am until 4 or so.  We were supposed to go shopping but while we were eating breakfast, I realized I couldn't make decisions about anything.  Deciding what to eat for breakfast was difficult so grocery shopping would have been an exercise in extreme frustration.  So, I spent the day sleeping in the chair and then slept for 8 solid hours last night.  It was nice to wake up this morning and feel like I could do something.

I went to the store today and it was much better.  I'll be heading down to make some potato leek soup soon and we'll have some sandwiches with it.  Nobody feels like being a gourmet today.  I've actually been thinking about peanut butter and grape jelly sandwiches lately.  I have no idea why since I don't think I like them very much.  I bought a small jar of peanut butter and some grape jelly today so I may have to indulge this and see if I remember the taste.

I got a copy of Principles of Knitting.  You know, that book that everyone is talking about?  The biggest complaint I've heard is that it's flimsy.  I have to agree.  Mine is warped already and it's only about a week old.  It will need to be treated carefully if it's going to last.  It would be more useful with a spiral binding, but then I think that about ALL the books that have illustrations and instructions in them.  I've only paged through but it does seem to be a thorough collection of techniques.  I don't know why I need so many ways to cast on but then as a self taught knitter, I always figure everyone else knows more than me.

And I did find a person who made a crocheted Optimus Prime (transformer chief) but she is not selling or giving away the pattern.  The young woman in my group (who struggled to get a basic chain stitch down so this may be a long haul) asked me if I could recreate it from the photos and if she paid me, would I make her one.  I said no.  If she wants one, she'll have to learn.  (and I'm afraid it would hurt my hands to crochet that tight for a piece like that).  I don't know if she'll have the patience.  She wants it now.

Otherwise, I'm glad to see last week gone and we'll spend this week shopping for a new washer.  Our old one is 28 years old and I think we definitely got our money's worth out of it.  She is not working well and has stopped spinning fast enough to get the water out of the laundry.  This means it takes way longer for the clothes to dry.  I just want a plain washer.  It's only the three of us and I don't need the super duper special one.  I just want a machine to wash and spin the clothes so the dryer can do its job. 

I have also given in to my inner geek girl and ordered a Tardis case for my iphone.  It should be here in a few days.  I convinced myself it's needed since the case I bought last year is broken (just a bit and it really doesn't matter much) and I needed a new case anyway. 

Did you ever see the movie Mom and Dad Save The World?  It's so funny and silly that it makes me laugh every time we watch it.  We watched it last night as we ate chinese food.  It was a perfect way to end the day.  Tonight, I'm working on my Madli's shawl and listening to a book.  No computer or television shows.  I want to go to bed early.  It's another busy week coming up. 

And I'll leave you with a photo from our trip to the art museum.  Yes, it's a rack of saws.  It's called Old Saws (or something like that).  Some man took a bunch of old saws and printed "old saws" (like He who hesitates is lost) on them and hung them up.  Needless to say, Pk laughed and so I took a photo for him.  A guard came right up and told me in no uncertain terms that taking photos of this exhibit was not allowed.

Modern art.  You gotta love it.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

 I've been feeling kind of under a cloud this week, in a sort of holding pattern.  This is not usual for me.  I am generally a cheerful, optimistic, "look for the good things" kind of person. 

I know where this feeling is coming from and I just have to feel the feelings and wade through the grief.  A long time (17 yrs) client passed away suddenly (but not suprisingly) last week. 

I found out on Monday morning, too late to make arrangements to attend the memorial.  This was a woman I had known and worked with and whose company I enjoyed for a long time.  She was sick on and off for a long time so this was one of those "blessings" people speak about.  But it still hurts.

I was busy busy busy on Monday and most of Tuesday and it wasn't until yesterday that the weight of the loss settled on my shoulders.  Today is a bit better but the heaviness is still there.  In group yesterday we talked about grief and dealing with it and feeling the feelings and I have to follow my own teachings.  I just don't want to.  I want to put it in a box and put the box in a dark corner and forget about it.  I know for a fact that it won't work for long and so I'm dragging through the week.  Work is getting accomplished, albeit a bit slower than normal.  This will pass and the sunshine in my soul will return but for now, I'll hang onto the rain cloud and think of my friend.

I have a new person coming to the knitting group today.  She really wants to learn to crochet figures so she can make a Transformers character.  I suggested that she learn by making something less ambitious and then when she knew some stitches, we'd find a pattern.  She brought in a crochet hook and some bright blue Red Heart yarn. 

I have nothing against Red Heart.  I firmly believe that all yarns have a purpose.  However, she has determined that she wants to make a potholder.  Anyone see the problem with this?  How effective will an acrylic potholder be?

I suggested she go back to Walmart and get some cotton.  We'll start there.  She's going to be a tough customer but I think anyone can learn if they put their heart into it.  And if I can find a pattern for a Transformers figure?  All the better.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

We are coming off two days of rain and the sun has finally come out.  It's 61 degrees here (16C) which is (once again) not at all normal for March here in South Jersey.  One of our daffodils has bloomed and there are several more that will burst forth with just a bit of sunshiney encouragement. 

We are usually just getting our first crocuses and the daffodils are not usually seen until later in March.  My hyacinths have come up and I can see the flower heads down in the leaves.  Those normally come up in April.  It's all very weird.  Maybe they all believe the Mayans and want to bloom early before the end of the world.

Peter Kevin's birthday present came on Thursday.  It's a lathe.  Here it is with a block of ginko that will hopefully become a mallet.  We took Friday off so he could play with it and he's been outside all day yesterday and today (so the warmish temps have not been a bad thing) making shavings.  He's in love.

I spent Friday carding and spinning the alpaca that I washed a while ago.  It cards up into clouds of alpaca and I spun some to see how it will feel to see if it's worth all the effort it takes to prepare.  I have a  small skein of one hundred percent alpaca that definitely looks handspun.  It's soft and slubby and I think will knit up nicely.  It is worth my while to keep working with the rest.  I have one bag of cream and two bags of brown, one a deep chocolate brown.  I have to wash some of the brown so I can card it with the cream and have a lovely natural heathery color.

I also found a sock pattern that has me so enchanted that I have two iterations of it going at once.  It's Fox Faces by Nancy Bush.  I started a pair for myself in this green color. (It really is green, I swear).  She describes it as an estonian inspired pattern and says the pattern looks like fox faces when you look at it upside down. 

It's an easy to memorize pattern.  The back half of the sock is a k1p1 rib all the way down to the honeycomb heel flap and (new to me) Dutch heel.  There is also her take on the Vikel braid which makes me feel all kinds of clever when I can pull it off. 

These are for me but I am always mindful of the fact that I need to make a pair of socks for El for March so I cast on these this afternoon.  El's are knitpicks merino/silk sock yarn.  For the price, it makes pretty socks with just a bit of shine.  Mine are one of Roxanne's zen yarn garden yarns.  She calls it 'smooshy' and it is.  I love how these feel when I squish them.

I have half a plain sock started for El already but this pattern is enjoyable and seems to be one of those that move along fairly quickly.  And I've already given her two pairs of plain socks.  Time to switch it up.

Not much else is going on here.  We are enjoying a period of peace and quiet.  Is it bad to say that aloud?   Taking Friday off was just a spur of the moment thing.  I know if I got some new toy, I'd want to stay home and play with it.  We're just big kids at heart.

Tomorrow is predicted to be sunny and a bit cooler but still nice.  It's not quite nice enough to sit outside with the wheel.  Too damp and chilly. (I don't know how Peter Kevin stands it but he swears he's not cold out there).   It is warm enough to open the windows and let in some fresh air.  And did you know that next weekend is DST here in the US?  Already?  It makes me feel old to say this but where did the time go?

Happy Sunday!  I am sitting here working on my sweater made with the cashmere yarn my husband gave me for my birthday last year. I’m further...