That is all.
Clearly on the “Naughty” list December 21, 2011
So yeah, not a lot coming from this corner for a bit. I’ve been, you know, busy y’all!
So, where were we last? Oh yeah! I went to Florida to deal with house and storage unit and to catch up with my wonderful Florida peeps. The damage to my house wasn’t nearly as bad as it could have been but bad enough that it is going to be a P.I.T.A. to fix. I think that the people who broke into the house weren’t of the same gang that has been going around to vacant houses and completely cleaning them out of everything including the wiring, appliances and fixtures for which I am glad. I think that the people who took the A/C unit just needed an A/C. I guess I can understand this but at the same time (and this is probably a tad on the mean-spirited side) I hope that you get it all installed and working and then it leaks all over your drywall causing many expensive repairs. I mean, that would be pretty much perfect karma there! So here are some pictures of the damage I was (and still am) dealing with.
I drove my father’s monster van down there. He gets irritated with me when I say that as he doesn’t think that it is all that big. But when you are looking down at all the pickups and nearly all the other vans on the road and can look in at the truckers nearly on their level then I think it pretty safe to say that it’s a bloody big van!
The reason that I drove the beast down there (other than wanting to look like a bad-ass [not sure how much I succeeded on that front!]) was that there was a storage unit that we still had stuff in that needed to be cleaned-out. We had left a lot of appliances and electronics behind as they don’t work over there and (if you’ve been reading the blog for a while you already know this) we were worried it wasn’t all going to fit in a 40′ container. So I got to clean-out a 10’X10′ storage unit with over 2 years worth of dead black widows in it. Yeah, there was a black widow spider infestation at some point (I’m told that this was normal for the entire area) and it was all sorts of fun figuring-out if any of them were still alive. Now normally these spiders don’t bother me too much. I mean really, they are truly a “live and let live” sort of creature. But in this case there were just so many of them that I was afraid that I was going to just “bump” into a web a little too forcefully and piss-off it’s inhabitant. Luckily, there only seemed to be one that was alive in the whole unit and I set it free in the great outdoors. Anyway, by the time I left, the unit looked like this:
Since I was down there I got to spend a goodly amount of time with the Hookers. I made it to 2 meet-ups and the Christmas party. I didn’t take a lot of photos at these as I never ever remember to take my camera out until it is too late. But at the Christmas party we did a group shot which I had the presence of mind to throw my camera at one of the photographers to get a couple of shots.
I was also well booked for lunches and dinners meeting with folks I’ve not seen in a couple of years. It was great to get to hang out with friends and catch-up with what is going on in their lives. We get such a fragmented picture of what is happening from things like Facebook and twitter that it really shows just how much live, in-person communication is still a needed and necessary thing.
Plus it’s still hard to get hugs over the internet.
I drove the same route back as I did down with the minor exception of taking the Atlanta bypass around the city rather than going straight through it as my lovely Georgiana instructed on the way down. She was still quite insistent that downtown was the best way to go on the way back but I turned her off until she could come to her senses.
Luck or fate or Mother Nature or whatever you want to call it was on my side throughout this entire trip. I didn’t have any severe weather going in either direction (for which I am extremely thankful) and really it was just a heck-of a lot of driving.
Since I’ve been home it’s been all about getting ready for Christmas. There was a tree to set-up and decorate and the presents to wrap (this has been a task delegated to me since early childhood) and dogs to wash. Ok, so that last one isn’t strictly a Christmas thing, but you know, stinky dogs do bring down the holiday spirit:-)
I’ve been trying to get things ready for my new job which starts in January. I’m not going to say much about it except that it will have me all over the state of Iowa so be ready for lots more of my photos from behind the wheel (don’t try that at home!). I’ll also be traveling to South Carolina for a bout of training so there might be some more travel pictures too.
Travel Plans August 8, 2009
So, it is now really real. My travel plans are pretty much in carved in soap stone at this point. This means that they are booked but could change due to the varagancies of the Travel Gods. Or weather. I mean, it is autumn in the Midwest not exactly an area known for it’s weather consistancy. Still, I don’t think that I should have too many problems the time of year that I will be there. So, here is the plan as it stands today:
August 21st London to Chicago via Dusseldorf
August 26th Chicago to Iowa
August 28th to October 4th Iowa to Alaska back to Iowa
October 5th Iowa to Orlando
October 10th-ish Orlando to Key West with the hookers
October 15th Orlando to White Plains, NY
October 16-18 RHINEBECK!!!
October 18th White Plains, NY to London via Dusseldorf
I should start calling this the “Traveling Insanity Tour ’09”.
Anybody who wants to meet-up with me on the way just give me a holler in the blog comments!
Almost fraking done! August 1, 2009
So, the Flower Power blanket, otherwise known as the blanket for Cesar and Pam, is very nearly done. I finished sewing it together this week (thank the Gods) and am working on putting the edging on it. I’m so happy that this project is done I could (and have) done a little dance. It’s not that I didn’t like making it. I really liked crocheting this one up. Well, except for that whole unexpectedly ran out of the yarn that I needed for the center of the flowers when I’m several thousand miles away from a place that sells it thing. That kinda sucked (thanks again Lily!). Honestly, it wasn’t even the sewing. It was the headaches that I got from the sewing. I know that I should go see an eye doctor but I just can’t bring myself to go through all of that until I am back from my big trip to the states.
Speaking of the trip. I realized that I haven’t yet put up an itinerary for where all I am going and roughly when (I don’t even know all of it yet!). So, here it goes:
I start off flying from London, Heathrow to Chicago on the 21st of August. I will be staying in Chicago from the 21st until the 26th when I take the California Zephyr (Amtrak train) to Osceola, IA where my mother is going to be picking me up. I will then be staying in Iowa until the 28th or the 29th when my parents and I are leaving by car for Alaska. We will be gone on this part of the trip for anywhere from 4-6 weeks, not really sure yet. So when we get back, sometime in the end of September or beginning of October, I will then make my way down to Florida for a few weeks. There is a trip in the planning for Key West with a bunch of hookers the weekend of the 10-11th of October. The next Friday, the 16th, I’ll be making my way up to Rhinebeck for the NY Sheep and Wool festival. On the 18th, I fly from White Plains to DC and then back to London, Heathrow. I will have been gone approximately 60 days. I will also be spending a LOT of time on United Airlines (gag). I wish that I could take Amtrak a little more (luggage restrictions and all of that are easier) but it really wasn’t feasible at all. Now, a few things in this itinerary… I plan on being at the Ravelry party on Saturday night so if anybody wanted to meet me this would be a good place to do it. I may or may not make it to the Ravelry meet-ups at Rhinebeck as I always mean to and then get too excited about everything going on and totally forget. Maybe I’ll have more control this year (snort!). I’m also thinking about taking a class at Rhinebeck if I get in early enough on Friday. Annie Modesitt is teaching several classes this year and, shockingly, they aren’t sold out yet. (I think that this is sort of a Sock Summit “shadow”. It will be interesting to see if the crowds at Rhinebeck are thinner this year because of it as well since so many people only have enough money to do either one or the other…)
I have at least finished one thing this week. The traveling baby blanket that I made out of leftover Cottontots is completely finished, even the ends are woven in. I plan in taking it over to my neighbor sometime next week for her church to use as a fundraising tool. Here it is:
Today has been…rough. I couldn’t sleep last night at all. I was still perky and awake when the birds started singing this morning. At around 7am I took the dogs out for a good walk. I wasn’t tired for any of it and the Hubby got up and joined me. I then abruptly became really tired and more or less passed-out for about 4 or 5 hours. Ugh. Then I got up and made banana bars and managed to overbake them. I won’t say burnt as they are really only just a tad too brown. Still, it was annoying. Then I made banana bread (are you seeing a theme here?) where half of the batter went into a normal sized loaf pan and the other half went into 4 tiny little pans. The little ones turned out ok, the big one, not quite so. I’m not sure what happened there but I guess I’ll just have to try again!
Last night while I wasn’t sleeping, I designed and ordered some mini “business” cards with Moo. I saw a lot of these at Woolfest and thought that they seemed much cooler than traditional business cards. I decided to get some for myself as I noticed that at gatherings of fibery folks I was always asking what folks Ravelry names were and then forgetting it before I had even gotten home. I put my electronic contacts on these cards and then an assortment of photographs on the other side of them. I figured that I will probably be meeting a lot of folks on my trip and pulling out one of these cute little cards was way easier than trying to record things on napkins or scraps of paper that always get lost. I totally suggest checking out the site as you can order 10 normal business sized cards for free.
One cool thing that happened today was that I finally got my actual paper degree from UF. It looks quite official and fancy. I was surprised that they put a little thing on the actual degree that said “Cum Laude”. How cool is that?!!? Now I just need to find a frame for it!
Things I Miss July 21, 2009
The other night I was asked by someone at the Click and Clack knitting group that I was at what I missed about the US. The first thing that popped out of my mouth was, “parking lots”. Yes, parking lots. I know that that sounds kinda trite but it isn’t like I don’t miss my friends and family, it’s just that parking is a daily issue that is even more of an annoyance since getting the new car. Anywhere you go you have to plan out a parking strategy in advance, there is no swinging into a mega sized parking lot outside of a mega store where you can get everything that you may or may not need. The parking spaces are also sized quite differently since space is at such a premium. Instead of being able to park a Hummer you could park a hummingbird. The smallest parking spaces labeled, “Compact Cars Only” in the US are still larger than the normal sized parking space here. It just makes it more time consuming and frustrating to do, really, anything, that isn’t at home or within walking distance.
Odd things tend to hit me. I miss JoAnn‘s with a vengeance on a regular basis. It’s exasperating how difficult it is to find fabrics or buttons or beads that are cool. There just isn’t any selection like I am used to anywhere and you have to visit multiple shops (see the above parking issue) to get everything that you need for a project. Admittedly, it helps keep some money in the bank account but it still frustrates me.
Another issue that is seriously looming is the lack of clumping cat litter here. We just put the final grains of Tidy Cat from the last of the buckets that I stockpiled before moving into the litter box and there is really no reasonably priced clumping cat litter that we have found here to replace it. The word on the street is to use chicken crumble as it clumps together pretty well and is reasonable inexpensive but it just seems so wrong.
I miss Target with a vengeance. Markets are all good and well until you have to schlep 30 pounds of cat and dog food hither and fro while you finish your shopping since the car is a Sherpa’s life away. Maybe it is a good thing that we can’t find clumping litter here as it would end-up making my arms rip off!
Boring roads that aren’t very twisty-turny are an odd thing to miss but I do. It’s nice to be more worried about the wildlife that I may hit (including humans on SOBT) than driving off of the road constantly. I miss store clerks asking if they can help you when you walk into a store, not just look at you like you are annoying them by wanting to buy something.
I miss our vets, they are awesome. (With 6 animals, you do miss the vet. Really)
Being able to understand people on the phone is a daily issue. I know that it is in theory the same language but on the phone it sure as hell doesn’t sound like it. I miss being able to call people without it being a huge issue.
I really, really, really miss my Hookers. I think that Thursdays are the hardest day of the week for me as I know that I won’t be seeing them at the end of the day. The other groups are nice but definitely not the same, not even close. Sure they may talk about penises, but they are just so damn polite about it even when they are being bawdy. I miss my rowdy band of Happy Hookers more than I could have imagined.
On the positive side, the weather is great!
Most of the time…
Coventry Calling June 8, 2009
Saturday the hubby and I went to Coventry for the UK Ravelry Day. On the way there, we stopped in Leighton Buzzard and picked-up a lady whom I had met on a UK Ravelry Day forum offering and looking for rides. Her name is Tini and we honestly could not have had a better car guest for the trip. Tini was visiting friends in Leighton Buzzard from her home in Germany and it just “happened” to coincide with the Ravelry Day. I had been sort of worried prior to meeting her that she would be, oh, I don’t know, someone you felt uncomfortable in a car with for a few hours. It quickly became obvious that she would have felt right at home and would have even given David a run for his money at a Hookers night! Bilingually! All the way there we chatted easily and enjoyed the scenery of the M1.
When we got there an hour early (the hubby drove really fast [naughty hubby!]) and found a place to get a hot drink and a place to sit down. It was raining, which sort of portended the type of day that it was going to become. The whole event started at 10am and my first class started at 10:30 so I didn’t have much time to peruse the stalls that were set-up with all sorts of independent shops and hand dyers selling thousands of kinds of yarn before I had to run off and find where my class was being held.
My introduction to lace knitting was pretty low stress. The lady that taught it, Kate Tetlow, was pretty low key and didn’t get at all flustered by the various speeds of learning, or knitting that the group exhibited. There were a few in the class who were super fast and a few who weren’t (I was included in that last category) but she kept all of us busy and never got irritated at all. It was in this lace knitting class that I learned that the way that I was knitting was, well, not exactly wrong but, well, wrong. I was twisting every stitch, which I think it part of the reason that the sample of lace that I made in the class was so tight that folks were joking about how I could start knitting miniature lace for dollhouses. Even though my lace sample didn’t turn-out exactly as it should have I still accomplished my main goal for the class which was to learn how to read a lace chart.
After I got out of class at 1:30pm the hubby kindly had fish and chips awaiting me for some needed lunch. Then Tini and I went upstairs to listen to Meg Swansen speak about her mother, Elizabeth Zimmerman. It was interesting as Meg read some passages from her mother’s journal about at camping trip that she and Meg’s father had taken in the Canadian wilderness with their cat. She also had a great Q & A session where she answered questions about both her mother’s works as well as her own. Meg now runs Schoolhouse Press an independent publisher of knitting books and supplies so she had lots of great insight into the trends of fiberarts as well as great new designers on their way. Her stories were fun and some of the questions that she got were just great.
It was sitting next to Tini prior to the talk by Meg where I learned how to knit continentally without twisting my stitches. After the first row it made it soooooo much easier to do. The sock that I had been working on was making me nervous by how tight it seemed, now it is knitting up totally normal. If I can, I will take a picture of the sock so that you can see the difference in the stitches.
After the talk I had some time to run around and look at all the different vendors wares. There was a surprising amount of alpaca fiber there including two very sorry looking young alpacas who had been recently shorn and had to stand out in the rain for the bulk of the day. I’m sure that they were fine, but they just looked, well, wet. I got several nice things including an entire set of the Knit pro (Knit Picks in the US) interchangeable needles as well as lots of yummy yarn and batts to spin.
While in Coventry Tech Support found a stall in the market selling all American “foodstuffs”. I put foodstuffs in parenthesis as it was full of Nerds, Twinkies, Beef Jerky, Lucky Charms and (oh blessed neon yellow manna from heaven) Mountain Dew. However, everything in it was outrageously expensive. A 12-pack of cans of MD cost 14 pounds! That’s like $22.50. So obviously we didn’t get anything but we now know that it is there if we ever become really desperate.
He found these goodies waiting for us in a shop there as well:
On Sunday we had some friends out from the city. We had good food and good drinks and it was a really relaxing afternoon. That is, until the time came to take them to the train station. The hubby was driving them to the Tring train station when the car suddenly would no move any more. The engine didn’t stop, just the car. We have breakdown coverage through, oddly enough, our bank so Hubby had me call them for a tow. Luckily, they were close enough to the station by that time that it wasn’t all that big of a deal for our friends to get there. So now our lovely shaggin wagon has it’s fate up in the air. It is at a mechanics shop in the next town over. We are pretty sure that the transmission went on it. It is just a matter of if they can fix it for less than the ceiling that we placed on it or if the shaggin wagon is going to be recycled.
Cabled Obsession May 18, 2009
It has finally turned grey here in the Southern end of England and sort of cold. In fact, if I didn’t have a calender on the wall I would think that spring is now going backwards except for a few things. One is that the peonies are getting ready to bloom. I love peonies. My grandmother had these huge clumps of them growing near the road at her house. They were these huge pink and white striped flowers as big as a cereal bowl that smelled like heaven. After my grandmother died, I transplanted a bunch of them to my parents house, but it is a bit colder where they live and it has taken more than a few years for them to get back up to speed, let alone have blooms the size of bowls. Since I transplanted the peonies, I have yet to get to see them bloom. I haven’t been to my home in Iowa at the right time, no where close to it to tell you the truth.
In order to brighten things up around here a bit we added a new member to our family. Since we were unable to bring the parrotlets back with us (they have a nice new family now, I didn’t just let them go or something) but we had their old cage here we went out and got a parakeet! They call them budgies here. Anyway, our parakeet/budgie is named Macho and I am hoping that he will learn his song. I just find the idea of a little blue parakeet singing, “Macho, macho man! I want to be a macho man!” so appealing on so many levels. I know, I’m sick on so many levels!
I’ve started on a new crochet project. I know, what do I need another new project for right? But I didn’t have anything that was good and mindless to work on while we are watching season 2 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. By the way, season 2 is much better than season one, though you do need season 1 to understand a lot of the plot lines. Oh, where was I? Oh, yes, right, the new project. It is a great big granny square afghan. You know, where the granny square just keeps getting bigger and bigger. It is the perfect brainless project for Buffy watching.
I’ve started another knitting project. This time it is a cabled scarf. I guess I had a fairly quick learning curve on the knitting thing as I totally skipped the whole “really long garter stitch scarf” (for my hooking friends, garter stitch is when you just go back and forth in straight knit stitch, no purling. It is sort of akin to doing just a single crochet back and forth) and went straight to cabling. I think I’m doing ok, but it’s really hard to tell other than the scarf is turning out more or less like the pattern that I am using. I don’t really have anyone who I feel that I can just ask without feeling stupid. And yes, y’all read that right, a pattern. I think that reading knitting patterns is easier than crochet ones for me for some reason. Maybe my mind can’t really handle more than knit or purl. Who knows why this is, but there you have it…
I’ve also had another vampire themed thing going on as I was finally sucked into the Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer. Yeah, I know, what is it with me and vampires lately right? Actually, let me answer that rhetorical question. Right after I moved here I started re-reading some of the Harry Potter series. It is so different reading them……well…..here than it was at our home in Florida. There it is very seldom that you feel an old vibe or a…..well….dark vibe. When you do it is in the forests or on the river and it’s, different. Maybe (but I’m not sure about this) it’s because the “danger vibe” feels, wild. Animal even which would make sense given that there really haven’t been a lot of people (I know that there have been people living there for a very long time, but it just isn’t as many as here if you know what I mean) living there for very long. Most of it’s history is in the wildness. Whereas here, it’s different. You can feel history pulsing around you. Especially where we live, in the Southern part of England. This area has been settled for a really long time, much longer than the US has been settled. The church down the road dates to the 12th century, and it’s not all that special around here for it’s age. There are ruins and walls from houses that no longer exist if you look around a little. Everywhere there are little passage ways that probably date back to the Tudors that almost seem to whisper that bad things have happened in them and alleys and twisted little roads that may have made sense at some point but now dead end into dark doorways. I have had more jolts to my subconscious in the past few months with non-understood warnings of danger it seriously made me think that I was going mad for a little bit. But I’ve come to realize that I’m feeling…..well…..the past here. I think that this is part of the reason that I am never all that keen on going into the city. Crowds have never really been all that fun for me, but the city itself has always felt, well, really dark to me. And no, this isn’t just because I just read 4 rather long vampire books in 4 days, I’ve always been this way about it. You can ask the husband if you want but he’s seen how I get as the train moves closer and closer to London. I get…upset? Depressed? Definitely different. There is no avoiding the past there, no avoiding the claustrophobic little alleyways that Jack the Ripper haunted in the 1880’s (seriously, the hubby worked and lived in that part of town) or the fact that even on the larger streets it’s seldom that the sun shines directly on you.
Anyway, this has been a very long way of saying that reading books like the Potter series or the Twilight series here feels very different than reading them in the US. There’s enough shadows and weirdness here that you almost can’t help but to believe in monsters and hidden creatures and dark histories and secrets so old that you can’t even begin to wrap your mind around them.
I now totally get why everyone has alarm systems here.