Saturday, 31 January 2009

Day Five - The Penultimate Day

We left Palestine just before 8am and had a delightful, sunny, traffic-free drive to Kingsville - almost 700km. Only 225km to go. I think we'll sleep in a bit tomorrow.

I have 10 inches knit on the back of the Must Have Cardi II and have already used one ball of yarn.

Friday, 30 January 2009

Day Four - Are We There Yet?

We left Lonoke, Arkansas this morning at 8:08am. Once in Texarkana, TX - just across the state line from Arkansas - we stopped into the Tourist information Centre to get up-to-date maps and brochures. We have decided to take secondary highways in order to avoid Houston and Dallas. The roads have been surprisingly traffic-free and the speed limit is 70mph most of the time.

We decided to stay in Palestine (pronounced Palace-teen), TX and arrived at about 3:30pm. Skip is coming down with a cold which he probably caught at the walk-in clinic that he visited briefly on Monday. I sure hope I don't catch his cold. We have about 800 km to drive before checking in at our condo on Sunday at 3pm. The temperature today was 16C and will go down to 3C tonight. It will be 24C on Sunday on SPI with a low of 14C. I look forward to getting into shorts and sandals again.

I knit another couple of inches on the Must Have Cardigan II today and have almost used up a ball of yarn. I now see a couple of ways I could have modified the pattern to size it up from the original pattern but I'm not ripping it out now. It's going to look great.

Here is today's route. Tomorrow we will head to Kingsville, TX - our last night before arriving in the Rio Grande Valley.

Thursday, 29 January 2009

Day Three

On Tuesday when we left home, I took a picture of Skip in the driveway.

This snow better not be there when we get back!!!

Today we drove through the area where the ice storm had gone through yesterday. I've never seen so much ice. Power lines were down everywhere. We had lunch at a McDonald's in Charleston, MO where the power was out in most of the town.

Local townspeople were going there to stay warm and get something to eat. McDs had no salads so we had cute, little hamburgers. While we were eating the power went out and they locked the doors. We were very fortunate to have gotten something to eat.

A little farther up the road we tried to stop at to places to use the rest room and they were not operating - no electricity, no water pumps working = no toilets working.

Finally we found a gas station with power and working toilets!

On the radio it was reported that many of the thousands of people without power would not have it restored until mid-February. We saw dozens of trucks with cherry pickers and augers out trying to get the lines working again but saw as many hydro poles snapped off and hundreds of ice-encrusted hydro lines down.

Because we got an early start, gained an hour crossing into Central time and thus gained more sunshine, we clocked 798 km today.

We passed billboards for Lambert's Cafe in Sikeston, MO - the site of our gigantic dinner at the home of 'throwed rolls' a year ago today.

We are now cozily ensconsed in our Super 8 in Lonoke, AR - a few miles east of Little Rock, AR.

We had a delicious dinner at Pruett's - a barbeque and catfish fry place recommended by the gal who checked us into our room. Skip had the 2 fillet meal. It consisted of 3 fillets, fried, cole slaw and hush puppies. I had a small BBQd pulled pork sandwich with a side of beans.

We'll be in Texas tomorrow night.

I only knit a 1.5 inches on the Must Have Cardigan II today. If you look closely (click on the photo) you will notice the absence of the word 'Merino' beneath the words 'Classic Wool' on the label.

I had always assumed Patons Classic Wool was merino wool until I read on someone's blog that it has to have the word 'merino' on the ball band. So I guess this is just regular wool.

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Driving South - Days 1 and 2

We have started on our odyssey to the south. Yesterday we left home at about 9:30am and drove to Marshall, MI by way of Sarnia/Port Huron - about 600km. We arrived at 4:30pm and checked into a very clean Comfort Inn where we had stayed last year. We had supper at a family-owned business, Schuler's Restaurant and Pub upon the recommendation of my friend, Mark. It snowed this morning so we decided to delay our departure 'til 11am when the snow stopped.

We stopped in Auburn, IN for lunch and arrived in Terre Haute, IN (birthplace of Buffy and Jody from "Family Affair" - remember?) at 5pm - about 475km. The interstates for the most part had been plowed and salted but there were still some tricky spots. We saw several cars in the ditch - scary. We are staying at a very clean Super 8. We had supper at Real Hacienda - a local Mexican food joint. It is really cold here.

Tomorrow we could get as far as Little Rock, AR as we gain an hour when we cross into IL and will have an hour of extra sunshine.

My camera cord is in the car (it's too cold to go out there - waaaahhh!) so I can't publish my pictures tonight - maybe tomorrow.

I have started my second Must Have Cardigan in a light grey colour of Patons Classic Wool. I tried to do a recommended series of increases (third item on the left sidebar) from the ribbing to the pattern so the cables would just 'grow' from the ribbing but it didn't work after 3 froggings so I have decided to do it the regular way. To make knitting easier in the car I am using stitch markers between the cables and a circular needle (the single pointed needles kept getting hung up on my sleeves). Again, pics will follow.

Friday, 23 January 2009

Dental Dilemma

The other day, Skip was chewing a piece of pizza and 'CRUNCH' - off broke a chunk of tooth. It was one that he was considering getting capped/crowned anyway but not before going south. For a couple of days we waited anxiously for the dentist's verdict - wondering if we'd have to delay our departure to the sunny south. Yesterday she put a filling in the tooth and built up the part that broke off. This morning when Skip went for a checkup, the dentist determined that the filling would be adequate for now if he was careful and she'd do the crown after we get back. So all systems are go for a Tuesday departure. Yay!

I have notepads all around the house to write down things that I have to remember to do or take before we leave. I've been through almost all my knitting projects and have selected what I'll be taking. Just getting all my knitting needles in one place was quite an undertaking but it's great to have them all organized now. Now I need to finish figuring out what stitchery I'm going to be taking.

I have been commissioned to knit my friend, Mark, a pair of executive-length (over-the-calf) argyle socks. I found a website that allows me to enter all the dimensions and then it generates a pattern. I found the yarn in the colours Mark wanted: black (main colour) and two shades of grey with the criss-cross in red.

It will be interesting to knit as one doesn't just knit this type of sock in the round. One way would be to knit the diamond part with intarsia as a flat piece and then stitch it up the back and then knit the ankle and foot as a tube. However, the generated pattern uses a seamless technique where the diamonds are knit with short rows and the coloured diamonds are then fit in between the main colour diamonds.

On a completely different topic...

The other day, I was reading a local artsy newspaper and came across the pictured works of a local artist, Sharon Recalla, and hooted when I saw this piece, which she (unfortunately for me) has already sold.

It's called "Michelangelo's Cat".

Now I have probably violated some linking protocol so here's the link to her website.

I think it's brilliant.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

New and Old

I watched the Obama inauguration today with much interest and excitement. It is amazing to think that it was the most watched event in television history. It's one of those events that will rank right up there in my memory with the JFK assassination (I was in Grade 4), the RFK and MLK assassinations (Grade 9), Neil Armstrong first walking on the moon (my first day of music camp after Grade 10) and the terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre twin towers on September 11, 2001.

At the same time, our plumber, Ben Huston, was installing a new pressure valve in our main bathroom shower.

Please excuse the 80s celadon tile and tub colour. When we win the lottery, we'll demolish both second floor bathrooms and update them very stylishly.

Last week Skip called Ben to come and see if he could find the source of a very small leak which has caused minor damage to the ceiling of the front hall below over the past 12 1/2 years of our occupancy in this house. An 18" x 18" hole was cut in the ceiling exposing the trap but no leak was found.

I finally posed the suggestion that it was water getting through the workings of the shower tap. Sure enough, that was the problem. I guess after 26 years, the caulking and seal had worn out. While Ben was there we asked for an estimate on getting the pressure valve installed. We have occasionally been the originators and recipients of blood-curdling screams when the toilet gets flushed while one of us is showering. So today was installation day.

During the inauguration, I spent some time puttering in my office starting to pack up yarn and stitchery that I'll be taking to Texas. I found this book which was my source of technical information about knitting and crochet for many years before the Internet came into my life.

This revised edition is copyrighted 1957 by Coats and Clark and cost 29 cents.

There is a lot of information packed into this 67 page booklet - the basics of Crochet, Knitting, Tatting and Embroidery. Also included are several patterns including a very fetching Rib Stitch Hat, a Classic Pullover and Cardigan,


Anklets (modelled in penny loafers),

and a children's Cable Stitch Sweater.

I was particularly interested at the sizing for the Classic Pullover and Cardigan.

The size 10 cardigan is for someone with a 30 inch bust (a person whom I would refer to as 'a stick'). The largest size (16) is for someone with a 36 inch bust. It really demonstrates how clothing manufacturers have altered the numbers for clothes sizing over the years. I would venture to guess that nowadays any woman with a 36" bust would be horrified to think that she was size 16.

There are also detailed explanations for Weaving (what we would call Kitchener stitch today) and "Knit One Stitch In The Row Below" which is the subject of one of the newest XRX books.

Monday, 19 January 2009

Estonian Lace

I have finished my first project from this beautiful book by Nancy Bush.

It is the Lily of the Valley scarf. I used one 440 yd. skein of KnitPicks Gloss Lace in the Port colourway. Good value for $3.99!

The border and centre are knit in one piece, then the other border is knit and grafted to the other end of the centre piece. Now when I look at it. I can't even tell which end was grafted. It measures 11" by 59". I did 12 pattern repeats.

I am always amazed at the beauty of a blocked lace project.

Saturday, 17 January 2009

A Little Night Music

This evening, Scooter was practicing his new piano pieces. One piece by Telemann sounded very much like pieces I used to play way back when...

So I hauled out my oboe for the first time in about 5 years and played the melody line along with him. Skip and Scooter marvelled at how red my face turns when I play. It's not like I'm going to pass out or anything, it's just that there is a tremendous amount of back pressure when one plays the oboe as the reed opening is really small. Skip ran and got the camera.

It is a real thrill for me to be able to play along with Scooter as an equal partner. I am very proud of his musical accomplishments.

Sunday, 11 January 2009

Stitchin' 'n Stuff

I have been doing a lot of stitching lately - quick, easy Christmas stocking and mitten ornaments. Each one can be completed in an evening of television watching. The finishing is very easy. I now need to find about 1/4 metre of coordinating fabric and do the sewing. I have used these ornaments on my door wreaths but next year (if I remember) will use some to adorn gifts for some special people. The cardinal ones will go on Skip's bird-themed Christmas tree that is traditionally put up in the living room.

I also completed a hardanger ornament. The original pattern required a specific wreath charm which I couldn't be bothered trying to obtain so I improvised and cross-stitched a little wreath which I found in another pattern book.

I'm almost finished the ribbed Noro Silk Garden socks. I had to rip the heel out a couple of times on the second sock as the foot length was too long. I finally ripped back far enough and am pleased with the results. I knit the foot and heel on 2.5mm needles and the leg on 3mm needles. I like a snug foot but needed a roomier leg. There were also fewer stitches on the leg as I had to have multiples of 5 (k4, p1) for it and used 50 stitches but used 52 stitches for the foot 5 x (k4, p1) +1 = 26 stitches for the instep and 26 for the sole.

I used a generic toe-up pattern with the Judy Becker 'magic' cast-on and my signature 'eye of partridge heel'. They are going to be warm and snuggly.

My workouts have been intermittent as other social engagements this week have gotten in the way. However I'm thrilled that all 6 local GoodLife clubs have added Zumba classes so I could concievably go every day from Mon. - Sat. if it could work with my schedule. Woo Hoo! I went to the class at the North Oshawa women's club on Thursday and I think I was the only one in the class who had done it before. The instructor was very good so that class may get on my regular schedule. I will miss going tomorrow and Tuesday because I'm going to visit my sister near Sarnia but hope to make the 5:45 class on Wed. after I get home and before the knitting guild meeting.

Saturday, 3 January 2009

New Year Gratitude

My family and I had a very good year in 2008. We are very fortunate. Some things went well because Skip and I have worked hard and others because we are very, very lucky.

I'm not one to make New Year's resolutions other than to try and improve things in my life, rather, I prefer to reflect on the things for which I am grateful.

More than anything, I am grateful for the life I have. At the risk of jinxing myself:

I am grateful for my good health and have pledged to do everything I can to maintain it. I quit a 20 year smoking habit in 1991 and am now finally being successful in the attempt at losing the 30 pounds I gained since food started tasting so darned good.

I am grateful for my family, both by birth and acquired by my marriage to Skip. My sister and I are closer now than we have ever been, largely due to the contact we have on almost a daily basis through the Internet. Her family is a delight and nice people to be related to. Scooter is a joy, even as a typical 15 year-old, and I hope I have been a positive factor in his life. Skip is the husband I always dreamed of having. I wish it hadn't taken me so darned long to find him but I guess we're both the people we are because of the journeys that lead us to each other.

I am grateful for my friends, both long-time and those more recently introduced to my life. My long-time (notice I do not say 'old') are my anchors in this life. They have seen me through many, many epochs in my life: deaths of family members, demises of relationships, job changes, address changes, etc. My new friends have helped me make a smooth transition from the world of work to the world of leisure that is my retirement.

I am grateful for the time I now have to pursue the things that fill my life with joy and meaning. I lived my life kind of backwards dedicating the first years of my career solely to my career, sacrificing a satisfying personal life, and the last years when I finally married, I got to enjoy being involved in the raising of a child. I enjoyed the challenges my teaching career posed for me but now I am completely done with it. I do not miss the work or the students AT ALL. I do keep in touch with many of my former colleagues but my days are now filled with things that I want to do. For the most part, "if it's not fun, why do it?"is my credo.

I am grateful that I lived through the time when women were able to pursue equality with men and more people were finally being created more equally. It has been an exciting time and it contributed a lot to the kind of adult woman I became.

I am grateful that although both my parents had died by the time I was 13, that my step-mother adored me as much as I did her and without question continued to raise me, legally adopting me when I was 15. I was the beneficiary of the influence of all my parents and sure wish I could sit down with each one of them and my brother (who died at age 26 when I was 19) and thank them for the sacrifices they made for me and the faith they had in me.

There are lots of experiences and material ' things' I am grateful for but they pale in comparison to the above-mentioned points. I'll outline them another time.

I guess one thing I will try to do in 2009 (if you want to call it a resolution, fine) is to continue to have a positive outlook on life. So much of how things turn out depend on how one choses to play the 'hand' they are dealt.

Life is good.

Here's to a great 2009.