Monday, December 08, 2008

This Small, Small World

A few weeks ago, a nice lady sent me a message through my Etsy store and told me she loved my hand dyed fiber and asked if I would teach her to spin. She was so enthusiastic and I liked her e-mail presence so much, I told her yes, I'd be happy to show her the basics and if she wanted a real lesson afterward I know several people who would be great teachers (Sandy, you may be getting a call!).

Well, yesterday I drove out to Lawrenceville and met this nice lady for her spinning lesson. (Did I mention her daughter and I have the same first and middle name?)
Len joked that I would not be coming home, that my fiber stalker would kidnap me. He's right, of course. Who goes to a stranger's home based only on e-mail conversations? Apparently I do.

It was a great afternoon. And Gina is a natural spinner. She wants to spin sock yarn and showed me samples of handspun sock yarn that she had purchased from Etsy. Wow. Beautiful stuff, and really labor intensive. I was mighty impressed.

She seemed pretty disappointed with her progress, but in reality, her first hank of handspun is pretty fantastic. I loaned her my wheel for the week and I imagine she'll be buying her own before too long. She's coming by Knitch next weekend to return the wheel and potentially buy some fiber there.

Just helping to keep the crafting economy going!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

By the time I find out about it, it can't be cool anymore..

I recently joined Facebook. I really don't know why I joined, but I will 'google' people I know every now and again and saw that Len had joined. So I did, too.

Haven't done a thing with it since, but I do intend to go rooting around in it sometime soon.

The weird thing is that since I joined, several people (that's three or more, folks)have told me how wonderful it is. Which makes me think it must not be cool anymore, since folks my age are getting into it.

I also joined twitter. That's because I got an e-mail from Knitch asking me to join. And, I do as I am told.

Keeping up with it all is surely going to give me headaches.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Long Time

I know, I know, it's about time.

I've not been blogging in a while -- probably because I didn't want to blog about my politics and that's all I've thought about lately. I get kinda worked up about politics -- in a flustered fit I told my mom last month that I'd never speak to her again if she voted for a certain someone. Didn't mean it, of course, but like I said, I get kinda worked up.

Now all the elections are over and I can commence to blogging, so expect to see updates on a regular basis from this point forward.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Storm Troopers

I never have a camera when I need one.

There I was, leaving my office's parking structure in downtown Atlanta on Friday, and a group of Storm Troopers walk past. A little further down the block was a family consisting of Mr. and Mrs. Weasley, Ron, the twins and Harry Potter himself. As I continued my commute down Peachtree Street, I saw what looked like a wood nymph holding hands with yet another Storm Trooper.

Ah yes, the annual DragonCon is back!

The parade featured Dragons, characters from the Firefly series, Star Wars, etc. Apparently the real Weasley twins were in town last year for the event -- but refused to come back because Atlanta is too hot. I guess when you live in climate like the U.K., parading in full costume thought the Atlanta streets in late August/early September would seem a bit toasty. Of course, Chewbacca here didn't seem to mind.

No, I did not take these pictures, the good folks at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution did. I need a tee-tiny little pocket camera to carry with me for emergencies like this one!

Thursday, August 28, 2008


Be careful what you wish for.

The Atlanta metropolitan area has been in a drought these last several years and the lakes and waterways surrounding the area have been diminishing and diminishing. As a result, we have instituted strict watering policies, residents have changed their car-washing habits, and shortened our showers, all in hopes of alleviating the water issues here.

Then came Kay.

Lake Lanier, one of the biggest lakes in the area, and a primary source of drinking water here, has risen 2.4 feet, the lake's biggest gain in two years. The lake is still 15 feet below full, but that 22 billion gallons it got last weekend really helps the problem. And with Tropical Storm Gustav on his way, the area is bound to get even more rainfall. The drought is by no means over, but this soaking is really important to the area.

Trouble is, not everyone wants so much water.

Down in southwest Georgia, roads are impassable, homes have been destroyed, and farmland has been seriously damaged -- all because of too much rainfall.

So, while we are celebrating our windfall of rain, our neighbors to the south are surveying their damage.


Friday, August 22, 2008

Too Many Men...

The last couple days I have had business meetings that lasted until the evenings and into the dinner hour. It's not often I stay in Downtown Atlanta for dinner during the week, but there I was, walking down Peachtree Street amongst the throngs of visitors and tourists and whatnot. Wednesday evening, I was struck by the sheer volume of people downtown. I really had no idea how active a nightlife Downtown Atlanta enjoys. I thought everyone went to Buckhead or Midtown for their evening fun, but with all the new hotel construction down here and the new Aquarium and World of Coke just a couple blocks from here, it makes sense there are more people around these days.

That was my Wednesday evening observation.

Last night, I suddenly realized that practically everyone around me was male. There were a few females here and there, but really, the place was overrun with men.
So, I asked around and found that the International Woodworking Fair is at the Georgia World Congress, just a couple blocks from my office, and there are approximately 40,000 attendees. Most of those attendees are men, filling all the available hotel rooms in the area.

Holy crap!

I knew what I had to do: Call Alice!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Finally, a Finished Object!

I've been working on this medallion tunic from Spring Vogue Knitting all summer. I even had the crazy notion I'd finish it in time for my trip to Scotland, but seeing as how I just finished it today, two months after my return, I was pretty wrong in my calculations. It's not that this was terribly difficult, it's a relatively straightforward all-over lace pattern, but it was tedious and I just got bored.
In the end, I made only one change to the original pattern, and that was to add the loop and the button at the neckline. The head opening is plenty big (though in this picture, it looks like it might strangle the wearer) and the flaps just didn't fall right.
Anyway, I'm pretty impressed with myself.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Yum! Join a CSA!

My friend, Jennie, is looking for a job to do in retirement. She and her husband live on a few acres of land in Social Circle (also home to the Blue Willow Inn and Nathalie DuPree) and she was musing about getting goats and having a microfarm one day. She had me read an article about a Georgia farmer delivering food to regular customers here in Atlanta. She was intrigued by the idea she and her husband might start such a small farm. I really liked the idea of getting my food direct from the farmer, so I investigated existing CSA farms.

It's not a new concept, I remember hearing about Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) back when we lived in Ann Arbor. But, just never jumped on the idea for my own groceries. Basically, customers "join" a CSA farm, generally offering up a weekly fee (either year round or just during prime growing season months, depending on the farm), and the farm supplies its members with weekly produce. Whatever is fresh that week. Tomatoes and corn in the peak of summer, broccoli and lettuce later on and potatoes in the fall, etc. Whatever is ripe, you get the idea.

There are 1000s of these kinds of farms in the U.S. There is usually a maximum number of customers each farm can service -- and most are at capacity by mid summer.

I did a google search on "CSA farm Georgia" and found many sites, some were listings of the farms, some were the websites for the individual farms. I settled on TaylOrganics, a farm in Ellenwood, Georgia (which also happens to be the subject of the article Jennie had me read). I planned to join up weeks ago, but was required to send a check. I had everything filled out and ready to go, but never actually sent the check.

I told my Monday Night Knitters about it, and Nell mentioned Moore's Farm and Friends. Debbie and I signed on right away (though Debbie thinks I am still with TaylOrganics, but no, that check daggumm check got in my way!). But with Moore's Farms, you can sign up and pay for everything online! Perfect! I pick up my fruits and veggies in Downtown Decatur, just minutes from my house (there are many, many locations around Atlanta for convenient pickups).

Yesterday's bounty has me salivating over what I will prepare for tonight's meal. Len came home last night to a freshly prepared asparagus, mushroom, onion and fontina cheese frittata, prepared with organic farm fresh eggs and onion from the Moore's farm folks. On the side was an amazing heirloom tomato salad with Florida avocado and cucumbers, all from my Moore's farm package. I added only a bit of salt and pepper, no oils or vinegars on those luscious 'maters needed. Yum!

Tonight, I am planning a delicious tomato pie and a cold side salad made with the rest of the asparagus that I didn't prepare last night, with fresh peppers and cucumbers -- and a splash of vinegar. Tomorrow, we'll have some of the wonderful squash from the package, and something made with my Yukon Gold 'taters.

I mention this to folks who invariably ask if I worry I can't use all the veggies I get. No! Len and I are eating better with the CSA than we ever have. It's good food, at the peak of ripeness, grown with no artificial pesticides. It's all organic, whatever that really means (Len has me confused about that one). Not only that, we are helping the environment in many ways, by supporting local farmers. Our food isn't tranported all over the place, just within Moore's delivery area (probably a 100-mile radius of distribution, max), and our food producers don't use the aforementioned pesticides on their crops.

So, if you haven't already, look into supporting a CSA. Google it.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

My fingernails are stained

I went on a fiber dying binge last night. After several hours and several pounds of fiber, I came up with this.

Friday, August 01, 2008

August Musings

Geez. I've got the summer lazies. I keep meaning to write, but...

I went to visit my mom last weekend. My big brother, John, was home from Qatar and my big sister, Paula, flew to Altanta and we drove down to Tallahassee together for the family visit.

We had a lot of fun. John's wife, Karen, had a new pool put in while John's been gone, and we thoroughly enjoyed it and their hot tub. Their back yard is a vacation paradise. Karen made vodka and cranberry drinks all around, and she's a pretty heavy pourer -- even Paula joined the fun. I forgot to bring my bathing suit, so I wore an old suit of mom's -- she hasn't been swimming since the early 90s, when she was merely 65 or so, so you can imagine how glamorous I looked. Plus, I really don't like getting sunburnt, so I waited in the shade until the sun subsided a bit. I got a kiss of color, because you just can't help that, but nothing serious.

Paula, whose husband passed away in January, really looked good. The last time I saw her was in April, and she still looked pretty tired and out of sorts. Now, she looks much healthier and happier. She's going to be just fine.

John is doing really well. He looks good, he's having fun, and he and Karen seem happy. What more is there?

Len is pretty happy I don't have another trip scheduled for a good while. This summer, I've been to Scotland and Vegas and Tallahassee, and he's been to Cleveland.

He starts school again very soon. His last year, and I can hardly believe how fast the time has gone. I am really looking forward to the schooling being over. A year from now, he'll have finished school and taken the bar exam. Woohoo! Nothing left but finding out the results.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

No Solar Oven

I didn't build a solar oven after all. I may still, but not this weekend.

My hands are stained with dye, but I am really really excited about dying and colors and making exactly the yarn I want to knit. I have so far perfected the dying process and am confident the resulting fiber's color won't run (much -- all hand dyed yarns do this a bit). I reprocessed the first couple batches to better set the dye in those, and look forward to spinning that fiber soon.

Next, I'll start dying yarn!

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Fiber Dye Days

I recently jumped into dying fiber for spinning. I really like the idea of taking color images of my memories and putting them to fiber. For example, bright yellow, white and rich greens will always remind me of my trip to Scotland. The Rape fields were everywhere and those colors are so prominent. Or, neon blues and greens and yellows and reds remind me of Vegas. Lobster red and seaweed green and corn yellow are the colors of the Lobster boil Len and I enjoyed in Maine. So, I had the idea I could take these wonderful colors of my memory and put them to wool, making the resulting spun yarn all the more special to me.

So, I bought a bunch of undyed merino top (wool fiber that has been combed and cleaned and prepared for spinning), and several colors of dye. I didn't do anything with the fiber for a while because I've been afraid of felting it in the process of dying. Plus, you really need big cooking pots that are exclusive to dying (never cook in pots you've used to dye stuff in). I went shopping at some thrift stores for some pots and none were appropriate. But, then I had the idea that the Big Lots near my house might have something cheap and appropriate -- and they did! I bought a good sized stock pot for $12.

My first attempt at dying was a marginal success. I used a method where you dip chop sticks into the powdered dye and then into a section of the fiber as it sits in the pot of hot water. Then I dipped another stick into another color and put it into a different section, and so on. Then, I cooked the mess for 20 minutes.

Trouble is, I boiled it, and the slight agitation caused the colors to mix and now I have 4 ounces of beautiful purple merino, instead of the mix of colors I was hoping for. So, tonight I will do the same, but without boiling -- hoping a slight simmer will do the trick.

This weekend, when I have more time in the middle of the day, I plan to do my cooking outside, using a solar oven that I will make out of cardboard and aluminum foil. Might as well get some use out of the heat in Georgia!

Friday, July 04, 2008

Another Holiday

I just returned from Las Vegas and get another day off a few days later to celebrate the birth of the nation. Woohoo!
I had a great time with mom in Vegas. We gambled and saw the sights and stayed up way too late. It was a nice break from reality. The best part was spending time with my 81-year old mom. Who knows how much longer she'll be able to do stuff like this, so I try to get together with her whenever I can (she doesn't read this blog, so I can say that about her).
Len is off on a morning bike ride today and I am planning to clean house today. We may go to a Braves game tonight, so it should be a pretty good holiday.
Both Len and I went to ball games recently (but separately) with our companies. Len saw the Braves lose, but least I got to see the Braves win! I had a great time at the game and hope to go more often!
On the work front, I started commuting to work with a former co-worker who recently bought a house not far from mine and she works just a few blocks away from me. I get to enjoy some company on my 20-minute ride in now AND save gas money. Less wear aand tear on our cars, too, so it's a win-win-win!
Happy Independence Day, everyone!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Gotta did, so I will, too...

Light Wading tagged me for a meme. I've heard of these things, but have never come in actual contact with any. Until now...

1. What was I doing 10 years ago?
Living in Ann Arbor, Michigan, working at Automobile Magazine.

2. What are 5 things on my to-do list today?
1) Send magazines to a contributor
2) Pack for a trip to Vegas, leaving tomorrow
3) Write a script for an announcer in Australia
4) Interview an Asian businessman
5) Plan my knitting project to take with me to Vegas

3. Snacks I enjoy: Peanuts.

4. Places I’ve lived: Indiana, Georgia, Florida, Michigan, Washington

5. Things I would do if I were a billionaire: Create a charitable foundation of which I am the head. The foundation would provide economic incentives to communities I care about to do the things I care about. I would also start a farm for misfit animals, and Jackie Brantley of Greyhounds Galore would run it for me.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

At Long Last, I Present the Bathroom

Finally, the bathroom is complete. I painted the room with "Tranquility Blue" paint from a fancy paint manufacturer (the name escapes me). After the color went up, I realized this is nearly exactly the same color as the bathroom at Knitch. It's the highest form a flattery, Knitch Kim.

The new medicine cabinet comes from Rejuvenation. The light fixture came from Lowes, and everthing else (including the tiles) came from Home Depot.

These next two pics show the other side of the room, and how nicely the re-surfaced bathtub looks. Isn't it a nice tub? I am just so pleased that we didn't have to replace it after all!

It's shiny and white and looks brand new. The guy who did the work told Len that he stays in business with his Inman Park clients. No one wants to get rid of their cool old tubs.

I am also very pleased with the subway tiles on the walls, floor and shower wall. The toilet is ultra low-flow. I still need to hem the sheer for the curtain, but that will be done sometime this weekend (or next). We also need to caulk around all the edges before we actually use the shower, but that, too, will be done in the very near future.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Why Is Target Okay but not Wal-Mart?

Really. For a long time I've wondered why I don't ever feel guilty going to Target, but don't like to admit to shopping at Wal-Mart. Truth is, until last week it had been years since I last went to a Wal-Mart (except when visiting my mom and it's one of the only stores in her small town).

A new super Wal-Mart recently opened at the old Avondale Mall location here in Atlanta several months ago after many years of legal wrangling by the locals to stop it. Remember, Wal-Mart almost always wins. In this case, Wal-Mart had to do a lot of special landscaping, etc., and from the looks of things they aren't allowed to have any big signage showing the store is there. Really, I was afraid I'd passed it when I tried to find it last week. I was actually not opposed to this Wal-Mart location. They put it in an area of town that has not seen better days in decades. The store brought a lot of jobs and a lot of traffic to a section of Memorial Drive that really needed the boost. There wasn't a decent grocery store in the area, and Wal-Mart, therefore, provides residents nearby with an alternative to driving miles away.

But, why did I go? Well, I had just read an interesting article about Wal-Mart's attempts to "go green" in their stores. I had a little time and just wanted to see for myself if they incorporated any of the "green" technology into this new store.

They did. For example, there are plenty of skylights in the ceiling, which brings in loads of natural lights. Lights switch on and off depending on need (some sort of fancy sensors in use there) and even the cold case lights switch on and off, sensing when folks walk by. Oh, and the cold case is closed -- saving all that electricity that seeps out of those open cases. Pretty cool stuff. Anyway, on my way out I noticed some bathroom towels in a color I thought might be perfect for the new bath in my house. So I bought two nice. lofty Egyptian cotton towels and matching hand towels and wash rags. They are perfect in the room! Yay! But, I still feel guilty. Why? The country of origin for these towels is listed as "USA and/or imported." WTF does that mean?

Now, about my love affair with Target. I am currently wearing a shirt I bought at Target, made in Nicaragua. In fact, I went to Target yesterday because my hair dryer finally died. I used the old hair dryer for at least 16 years (thank you, Vidal Sassoon)! Hair dryer technology hasn't really changed much in all these years (a lot like a washing machine) so I figured a cheap-o unit from Target would be a fine replacement. $9.99 for a very nice salon-inspired hair dryer, AND it's in a cute bluish-purple color! I also purchased a few new lightweight cotton girlie t-shirts, two pair of flip-flops, a new toilet brush and stand, two boxes of 1-gallon sized zip-top bags, sponges, and a bottle of water for the ride home. Yeah. That's the trouble with Target. You go in for one $10 item and come out having spent $80.

Anyway, the point is, I feel no guilt at having gone to Target. Is it because Target hasn't got the Wal-Mart reputation for ruining small-town America? Is it that Target does have a reputation for sending some of its profits to local charities and community projects? Or, is it that Target is so much more fashionable? Target markets itself as the discount store for young "upwardly mobiles" (a few years ago, I'd have called 'em "yuppies"), and I seem to have bought into their marketing plan. What does that say about me?

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Heat Stroke

It's been so hot here in Atlanta this last week that I haven't been interested in doing anything at all. My mom is coming to visit tomorrow and I still have trim to paint in the guest bathroom. But, we finally had a break in the hot weather last night and the city got some cooling rain. So, tonight I will be finishing the bathroom and hanging the towel bars, etc., just in time for the visit from Ma.

She is coming to visit on her way home to Tallahassee from visiting her brother in Indiana. My uncle Monk (who looked like a monkey when he was a baby and never shook the nickname) is a sweet old guy. I hope he decides to spend more time in Florida with Mom. I think she'd love to see him more often. Mom is traveling with my brother Frank's daughter, Emily. She's 8, and my mom decided this was the summer for her first plane trip. As it turns out, it is also her first bus trip as well, since mom needed a way to get to Atlanta from Tallahassee and back, and no one seemed to be able to drive her up and back. Emily LOVES riding the bus. The trip home will take a couple extra hours than flying or driving, but it's a unique and fun experience for Miss Emily. They arrive here tomorrow afternoon and leave again first thing in the morning Saturday. Mom is famous for whirlwind visits. I do wish she'd stay a little longer, though.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Home at last

Treats is back from Scotland. I am tired after the long travel day yesterday, but I am back at the job today. Gotta Knit and her wonderful husband drove me home from the airport last night. Len and the hounds were very happy to see me. Gotta Knit has several more days off this week (BIIAATCH!) and will be able to upload her pics from the green, foggy land before I can, so if you are interested in seeing all the fun stuff we did, check out her blog.
Some quick notes about my trip:
1. I managed to get a sunburn
2. Di Gilpin IS odd, but I loved her
3. Louisa Harding is a lovely woman
4. The Scots don't seem to care if they lose a tooth or two
5. The Scots aren't the most fashionable folk, so I felt right at home while there
6. Folks in the U.S. knit a lot more than folks in Scotland
7. We in the U.S. have a great supply of wonderful, unusual yarn
8. Cobblestones are beautiful, but really hard on your feet

Saturday, May 31, 2008

A lot of dead folks in Scotland

Scots are very proud of their history, bloody and violent though it is. William Wallace, for example, was beheaded and cut into bits and pieces were sent to various towns in the country to show what King Edward would do to those who defied him. After Mary, Queen of Scots, married the man thought to have murdered her first husband, she was imprisoned for 21 years before her beheading. In St. Andrews, the bishop there, who was very corrupt and kinda evil, was hung from his own castle, naked, after the people revolted (the bishop pissed them off when he had a "good" man killed in the town square).

The moral: Don't piss off the Scots.

St. Andrews has more to offer than a beautiful golf course. It features a magnificient coast line, the ruins of St. Andrews Cathedral, and lots of interesting history.

Culross is another coastal city in Fife that appears to be in full restoration. It looks like people live in these wonderful homes, and there were children walking about and riding bicycles and old men chatting in the park. Idyllic.

Today is Saturday, and we have a free day (our only day without a set plan). Some folks plan to ride the train to Glasgow, but I plan to hang out in Linlithgow, knitting and drinking coffee and beer. The Linlithgow museum has a special exhibit on Scotty, James Doohan's character on Star Trek. Scotty was born in Linlithgow in 2025, I believe. It should be a great day.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Let's take bets

"I think this Di Gilpin is going to be a weirdo," says my roommate, Linda.

We are going to knit with Ms. Gilpin all day on Sunday, and we need to have an 'inspiration piece' to, well, inspire us. I am actually looking forward to said inspiration.

"Does she not sound weird to you?" Linda asks.

Today is Kathleen's 50th birthday (HAPPY BIRTHDAY, KATHLEEN!!!!) and we celebrated with a pizza party at the "Atlanta Girls'" cabin tonight. It included a lot of wine, DrumBray (a very special treat), and pizza.

Today, I climbed 246 steps to the top of the William Wallace monument in Stirling.

Sue, my other roommate says, "It is very interesting what our guide calls a 'gentle incline' and a 'mist.''

It rained pretty hard today. But, we managed to go to Di Gilpin's shop in Perth, and see yet another castle. William Wallace is a national hero to Scotland. You may remember him from the movie, Braveheart. Mel Gibson is about 20 inches shorter than the real William Wallace, though.

Tomorrow, we'll see Fife and the St. Andrew's Cathredral. I hope it stops raining before then...

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Scotland, Chapter Two

It is Sunday morning and I am in the cottage alone. My roommates have left for the day's activities, but I am staying behind with Alice and Debbie. The three of us are taking the train to Edinburgh today to watch Alice's friend, John, in his running race. It should be a pleasant day.
We spent yesterday with Ms. Louisa Harding, a lovely woman and very interesting knitwear designer. We were knitting samples of her "Betty Wrap" design, and, inspite of how horrible we thought the wrap was based on pictures from her "Knitting Little Luxuries" book, we really enjoyed making the lace pattern. In the end, we decided the wrap was actually quite nice -- the colors in the sample in the book were terrible.
The yarn, for the most part, was not my style. But her Grace yarn is magnificent. I believe it's a 50/50 silk/merino yarn, and it truly is wonderful yarn. It's on my short list of yarns for a good project.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Scotland, First Installment

Alice, Debbie, Kathleen, Kim, Me and the rest of the Scotland team arrived yesterday -- or thereabouts -- in Linlithgow, a lovely town about twenty miles west of Edinburgh. The above picture is the Bonsyde Hotel, with which our cabins share grounds. It is a lovely place to stay, on a high hill overlooking the small town of Linlithgow.

The bright yellow flower shown here is called a "rape," which is grown for fuel in Scotland, but is better known as Canola Oil in the U.S. Alice talked with a Scot, who told her either 17 or 70 percent of the Scottish population is allergic to the flower. She couldn't decipher which from the conversation. In any case, I was sneezing like a fiend until I took some allergy pills.

We are in "self catering" cottages, so we are shopping in the town market, the Tesco, and this aisle sign was pretty hilarious. Bacon and Toilet Paper. If you have one, chances are you'll need the other, I guess.

The walk to town is about a mile and a half, and we pass along a lot of farms and parks and fields along the way. Cows and sheep are everywhere!

The is the Cross, the Main Square in Linlithgow. Here is where the ancients had their public hangings, festivals, and where they watered their horses. Now, it is a tourist attraction.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Vacation Anticipation

I have spent a lot of my career on airplanes, and I have been lucky enough to get to go places that I might not otherwise have seen. But travel for work is WORK. There are suits to wear, meetings to attend, PowerPoint presentations to view, and lots of time spent in hotel rooms writing up memos and stories and garbage like that. That's why I am so excited about going to Scotland (in THREE days!). It's not WORK. I'm going because I want to go -- what a concept!
Working at Knitch yesterday, a couple customers who know about the trip asked if I was excited. I used my reserved-for-home words and told them I was so excited I might pee. Oops. They got the idea, I'm excited.
Kathleen delivered the trip goodies to Knitch, so I now know all the details of the trip. We fly out from Newark late Wednesday night, allowing for overnight snoozing -- much better than leaving from Detroit for Europe at 5 p.m.! Back in those days, I was never tired enough to get any sleep before arriving in my destination the next morning. Made for a bad first day. But, I am confident I'll sleep on the overnight trip to Edinburgh.
One nice lady, who is a Knitch customer, offered to loan me a book for my flight -- 44 Scotland Street by Alexander McCall Smith of "Ladies No. 1 Detective Agency" fame. Love him! So, after my shift I went to her home to pick up the tome. Judy has an amazing collection of Folk art -- and I am a big fan, so I spent a hour there getting the grand tour. She has an Elvis room, and Mexico room, a bathroom dedicated to religious art. Oh yes, it was quite the spectacular collection! She and her husband, Bud, were married by probably the most famous Folk artist today, the late great Reverend Howard Finster. (A side note: His granddaughter went to college with Len.) She has a funky garden with man-hole covers (she found them, she says) as stepping stones, and bottle trees and lush greenery. It was a feast for the eyes.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Spring Madness

My trip to San Diego was fabulous. I was lucky enough to have a room on the 24th floor with two walls of windows, which allowed me to view the city on one side and the bay on the other. Very good, since I spent pretty much the rest of my time behind the stage of Ballroom 6 at the San Diego Convention Center. I did have a couple nice meals at night in some Gas Lamp district restaurants, and I managed to walk a couple times around the pool area. Still, the event was a huge success, and I walked many miles each day -- proving that I am prepared for my splendid trip to Scotland. Castles and yarn stores, here I come!
Said trip to Scotland begins late next week and every day I will be sending out pictures to all my yarnie friends on these blog pages. Debbie, Alice, Kathleen and the rest of us will be having a great time eating haggis and drinking Scotch while knitting. Fun, indeed!
We leave on the 22nd and return June 2. Check these pages those days to see what we are doing!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Cramming a Lot of Life into a Few Weeks

The bathroom project is still not complete. But, it's the least of my worries these days. In a few days I leave for my company's big event in San Diego, and I'm working on all the things I need to complete before I leave. I have scripts to write and assignments to assign. At least I closed the latest issue of the magazine last week.

I haven't rented a scooter for this event like the one I had for the last one. I'm a little nervous, because these things require a lot of walking, but I figure I can walk until I'm tired, sit a bit, then get up and walk some more. I hope I'm not kidding myself.

Besides, I need to be prepared for the tremendous amount of walking I will be doing in Scotland in a few weeks. There will be castles to see, yarn to admire. I have to be ready for that!

Speaking of Scotland, I will be blogging from my trip. Loads of pictures and commentary. I'm looking forward to traveling with my fancy new ultralight computer. I hope I will have internet access. Hmm. Gotta check into that.

My good friend, Ashley, finally got engaged (I say finally, because she has wanted this for several years now), and my other good friend, Staci, made an offer on a house that was accepted. Len thinks he can finish his pilot's license while I'm away in Scotland. Gosh, there is so much happening in the world around me, I guess it makes me feel less overwhelmed. Everyone has a lot going on, and we all seem to manage.

Friday, April 11, 2008

The endless bathroom project

About six weeks or so ago, Len and I hired a company to gut and remodel our little bathroom. Back when the house was a two bedroom, one bath house, this was the one bath. It's the original bathroom for the home and still had the original 1940s tiles and fixtures. Too bad for us, though, because the floor joists beneath the bath had rotted and our tiles were cracking. If we had been able to save the original tiles, we would have.

As for the sink and commode, some very fashionable homeowner in the 1980s did a quick remodel, and installed a very unfortunate green formica counter and weird wood vanity, and a matching wood seat for the toilet. Top the whole thing off with a cheap medicine cabinet, crappy light fixture and southwestern-style striped forest green wallpaper and you get the idea. Nice.

So we had the floor joists replaced, all the tiles re-done, a new pedestal sink and commode (low-flow 1.2 gallons, thank you very much) installed, and had the fabulous old bathtub resurfaced, keeping the old streamlined/late art deco look of the tub. The tiles are white subway tiles with a black decorative stripe near the edges.

Last week, I thought all that I needed to do was prep the walls and paint to finish off the room. That is, until I went to wash my hands to find the new medicine cabinet had been installed way off center. It seems our contracter didn't bother to mention that he needed to move the sink from its original spot and that the cabinet above would be off-center -- he just installed it that way. And it wasn't an inadvertant mistake, he knew he was doing this. WTF?

So, Len's friend George came to the rescue. He and Len are re-installing the cabinet and adding the lighting, etc. I should be painting in a few days. Hurrah!

I'll publish pics of the final product in a week or so.

Monday, April 07, 2008

A big yarn day in Atlanta

Knitch was THE place to be yesterday (Sunday, April 6). Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, a.k.a. The Yarn Harlot, made her second appearance in the ATL, thanks to Kim Nickels, proprietor extraordinaire of Knitch. Hundreds of knitters piled into the Hilan Theatre a few doors down from the shop to listen to the aforementioned Harlot yammer on about knitting. The Knitch team and a few volunteers kept order and the event went off without a hitch. Pearl-McPhee was funny, interesting, and endearing. Buy her latest book, available at fine bookstores everywhere, as well as at Knitch. Have I said Knitch enough? Knitch, Knitch, Knitch, Knitch. Love that place!

I am spinning again, after a brief (what was it, one week?) hiatus. I made a hank of some lovely yarn as a gift for a certain someone. You'll know who you are soon enough. I also spun up the Hip Hip Hurray batt that Kerry made for me. Pretty in Pink! I also picked up a package of fiber bits from Knitch this weekend (I can't remember the name of the company who made the package of bits, but I'll add that later) and hand-carded the bits with some lovely green, red, yellow, and blue merino.
I call the finished yarn Charming, because I think it's charming!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Hip, Hip, Hooray!

To all who came to The HIP Party to help me celebrate my new parts: THANKS SO MUCH: I HAD A GREAT NIGHT!

It really was a good time for me. Gosh, all that good cheer, not to mention all that beer, really wore me out. Funny, I think it was one of my top birthdays ever. Yep, it was my birthday, too. I didn't mention it to folks who didn't know. Didn't want anyone to feel like they should bring gifts. I am really the girl who has everything. Some folks brought me gifts anyway, and I have to admit, those who did, gave me things I really want! Like the bottle of wine from a certain smartie-pants. I always appreciate booze! And the cutie-patootie picture frame to hi-lite the cute-ness of my hounds. That will soon take a place on my 15th floor window ledge in downtown Atlanta. The gorgeous plant from a certain someone is already on said ledge, enyoying the sunshine. But, the best tangible prezzie is the hand-carded batt from Knitten' Mittens for Ma Kittens. I can't wait to pull out the wheel for that!
Not to be mushy, but the best gift of all was seeing all those folks on Saturday, helping me celebrate the big day. You guys are fabulous. Thanks!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Water Woes

We are having one of our bathrooms remodeled and the guys couldn't shut off the water last week because the valve at the street was really, really old and stuck. So, the city water guys came out and today they are replacing everything at the street. I'm a little worried about our next water bill.

Monday, March 17, 2008

All is Well at Treats

A lot of folks who live outside Atlanta have called or e-mailed to ask how Treats for Breathing fared after the tornadoes that hit Atlanta this weekend. I am happy to report we escaped damage of any kind here at HQ. My office downtown is in the middle of a lot of the devastation, but the building itself was not hurt. I had to stay home from the office today because the cops have asked folks not to go downtown unless absolutely necessary, and my bosses' boss actually called me yesterday to tell me to stay home. I will go in tomorrow, via MARTA.

Len rode his bicycle to school this morning, and had this to say via e-mail: "Wow, the devastation. Sweet auburn market is closed, the building across the street burned down, the main grady building has fences and antennas and other crap hanging off the side, and one of the old grady buildings has its copper roof partially lifted off. Many traffic lights are out. Sirens and helicopters non stop for the past half hour at least."

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Handspun Diary

I spin almost every day now. Crazy.
I card extra fibers when I'm not spinning, and now, because I have SO much handspun yarn, I've put some of it on (handmade goods paradise) for sale. Don't worry, I have no dilussions about my spinning. The idea is not to start a business, but to have my spinning help pay for itself (and make room for more!). I made my first sale this week! Thanks, Nell!
I'm currently knitting a vest out of my own handspun, a blend of natural color alpaca and silk.
I recently learned how to card by hand and by carding machine. I actually like the process of carding by hand better. It's a lot slower, but the fiber comes out so soft and fluffy. In fact, I have two hanks out of the same fiber, different colors, one was hand carded before spinning, the other machine carded. The hand carded yarn is the same guage, but weighs a lot less -- which means the resulting garment will be lighter. I like that -- especially since I live in Georgia.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Still, the Drought Continues

Georgia has been in a serious drought since last summer (see the current aerial view of a part of Lake Lanier taken from the website today). We've had substantially less rainfall in the last year than we need, and the big lakes around Atlanta are depleted to a point that's pretty scary to see.

The culprit is more than inadequate rainfall. The Atlanta area is being developed beyond its capacity, with no plans in place to create the increased water and power needs. Also, a good bit of water from Georgia resources is flowing into Alabama and Florida waterways to preserve wildlife habitats in those areas.

First, our state lawmakers tried to sue the Army Corps of Engineers (the group that requires the water diversion) into allowing the state to keep her water. That didn't work, so they are now battling with Tennessee in a silly attempt to reclaim about a mile of land at the border that was apparently mislabeled as Tennessee in the early 1800s. That extra mile of land would give Georgia access to the Tennessee River, and its precious water.

Now, I've listened to Len talk about his law classes enough to know that after all this time has passed without Georgia laying claim to that land, there is very little the state can actually do to get it now. But, they'll still try. An enormous waste of time, I think, but I'm not an elected official.

The cool thing about all this is the effort I see being put forth by the average Georgian to conserve his water. I know people who, when running their shower waiting for the water to get warm, save that cold water into buckets to use on their plants. Others are collecting rainwater from their storm drains to use on their lawns. Folks aren't washing their cars as often. The county I live in is now requiring old, inefficient toilets be replaced at the time of a house sale.

That said, though, we've had a good bit of rain lately. Our trees and flowers are beginning to bloom and the grass is green and at first glance the drought seems to be a distant, unhappy memory.

But it's not. Our lakes are still dangerously low and the water crisis still exists. So, let's keep it up, folks! I'll keep doing what I can and I hope you continue your efforts, too!

Friday, February 29, 2008

Day 349

Yesterday, several of my co-workers left for India for our company's big annual event in Asia. I have very little to do with this particular event, so I always stay here in Atlanta. Working in the office during this week is a lot like working between Christmas and New Years: Only a few people are here.

I closed the current issue of my magazine a few days ago and am in that lull between publishing cycles. Today, I finally got around to planting some plants for my new office (I'm on the other side of my building now and my window actually allows in light) and I've organized my files. I've even begun editing articles for the next issue and setting up interviews. Still, it feels like a lazy time.

Last year, when the folks were gone to the Asia event, I decided to work from home that Monday, which happens to be the day of the big crash. Several of my friends/co-workers were informed of the accident while they were in China. When I think of that, I wonder how it felt to be them. A friend, seriously injured, and you are half the world away. Kind of puts a damper on the trip.

Things are going very well in my recovery, by the way. Sure, some days I wonder if I'll ever feel perfectly fine again, but mostly I feel good. The numbness in my foot is decreasing and I don't have pain in my hip. I still have some discomfort, especially on cold days when I forget to get up and move around regularly, but I can see a real improvement in my range of motion. I'm starting to use the stairs normally, as in one foot in front of the other. And also when climbing stairs, I try not to use my arms as leverage. Best of all, I'm able to do most things around the house again, which probably makes Len a lot happier.

The accident has been such a huge part of my life, and now that what happened is no longer obvious, I wonder if folks who don't know me notice my limp. Do they see that I am damaged? Is it as imperceptible as I hope it is?

Frankly, I'm awfully grateful that these are my concerns. Because it could have been so much worse.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Trek to Target

Since the accident, I've done a lot of online shopping. The hassle of shopping when you are 'differently abled' is enough to keep a person glued to her keyboard. But, I had to make the big step sometime, and I needed some pots for some new plants in my office. So, I finally went to Target by myself for the first time since said accident. (Some of you might recall that I was on my way to Target to buy some underpants when I hit the big black SUV last year.)
Target did not have pots for my plants, but I did find some lovely new pajamas and socks and, yes, a package of those unlucky underpants. Who did I run into at the checkout line? Kim and Scott of Knitch fame. Kim related my story to the cashier and just had to stop and give me a hug for surviving this Target trip. The cashier stopped what she was doing and asked for a hug as well. It was a good time.
My trip home was uneventful.
As it should be.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Save the Date for the "Hip" Party!

I just confirmed the date and location for the Hip Party, the celebration of my new manufactured hip. It just so happens the event will take place four days shy of the one-year anniversary of my crash. I will upload more information soon, but if you want to celebrate with me, save the evening of Saturday, March 22.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Spinning Yarns

Ha! Spinning Yarns. I crack myself up.

I'll actually be spinning some yarns by Friday. On my very own spinning wheel!

I finally took the plunge and bought myself a beautiful Louet Victoria Wheel. It's six pounds of foldable spinning glory. I just can't wait until Mr. (or Ms.) UPS drops off that tee-tiny little package sometime on Friday. My roving is waiting to be turned into yarn!

Friday, February 01, 2008

What Would Jesus Say?

When I was in the eighth grade, my social studies teacher told me, in class, that I was going to hell because my family was Catholic.

Think about that a minute. I was a 13-year-old girl whose teacher announced would go to hell. WTF?!?!

This morning, some knitting friends sent me a link to a blog discussion about the Subway Token Mittens featured in the most recent Interweave Knits. Apparently, the blogger had seen an early version of the mittens and thought the cute little pocket was actually a flap the wearer would pull back when entering the NY Subway -- revealing an embedded computer chip. This gave way to all sorts of discussions about Revelations and Satan.

I've seen a lot of examples of bizarro religious ideas between the eighth grade and today, and I gotta say the crazies freak me out.

Who are you people? Why are you spewing your hatred at the rest of us? It's my understanding that Jesus was a simple man. He taught his followers to care for one another and to do good works for those less fortunate. So, where does all this fearful scary garbage come from?

Satan, perhaps?

Monday, January 28, 2008

Avoiding the Blog-o-sphere

I've been avoiding the blog-o-sphere (hence, the blog title above) for a couple weeks because I've had some things going on that I wasn't sure I wanted to blog about. I've decided I should, so here goes...

One of my favorite people on this planet passed away a couple weeks ago. Dennis Mahaney married my sister Paula when I was just 5 years old. He and Paula and their four kids were a huge part of my childhood. When I think about it, he was in his early 20s then and really a kid, too. But, he truly loved my sister and eventually adopted her kids from a previous marriage.

Before my immediate family and I left Indiana for Georgia, their kids felt more like my brothers and sisters than my neices and nephews. We lived just a few blocks apart and went to school together. After we moved away, I spent summers at their home in small-town Indiana. I have a lot of amazing memories from that time in my life.

Paula and Dennis were married about 12 years when he had an accident at work and broke his back, rendering him a parapalegic these last 20+ years. He remained very active, though, and became really involved in his church and community.

He was a big help to me last summer when I was feeling pretty sorry for myself in my wheelchair. It was the first time in my life I truly understood what life had been like for him since the accident. He may have wanted to, and he had a right to, but I never heard him complain about his situation. And in my short time in the chair, I saw how much the world ignores the disabled. Cars aren't made for you. Stores aren't set up for you. The world bends over for people who have all their abilities, but makes very little accommodation for those who can't walk, or see, or hear.

He was a great example of someone who continued to live his life, in spite of the obstacles he faced. He and Paula made a wonderful life together. They raised their children with love and then made time every Tuesday for dinner with all their grandchildren. What wonderful memories those kids will always have!

Dennis died of cancer that began in his bladder and spread to his heart. The family thought he might beat it, but it was not to be. He was only 56 years old.

Dennis was a contractor who taught his fellow churchmembers his craft and they built an amazing gymnasium together. In fact, it was in that church gymnasium that his funeral took place. People stood up to talk about how important he was to them, the difference he made in their lives. They gave Paula a standing ovation. I cried from so much sadness and pride at the same time.

By the family's count there were about 800 people who came to pay their respects to Dennis and his family. I had never experienced anything quite like it: People flowed into the funeral home for six hours, and my sister personally greeted almost every single person. I am awed by her strength.

We all miss you, Dennis Mahaney.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Yet Another Hobby

I don't think it's fair to call my latest hobby a "hobby." Truth is, I am absolutely addicted. Last Sunday was Knitch's first "Spin In" event, where yarn spinners brought their wheels and spun together at Knitch for a few hours. I thought it would be an opportunity to meet some spinners and maybe try my hand at the wheel.

I bought some colorful roving for a few dollars and borrowed the shop's wheel for the event. Sandy was there (a.k.a. Hockey Mom) and she gave me a quick spinning lesson, and I was off. OMG, I really loved it! I spun for hours and came away with a lovely hank of yarn. (BTW, Sandy also teaches spinning at Knitch, and I found her to be an EXCELLENT instructor -- I plan to take a formal lesson from her again soon!)

I'm not completely new to spinning. I went to a spinning guild meeting in Chelsea, MI, about 20 years ago, and got a quick lesson that day. I spent the next several years looking for used wheels at auctions, but never found one in good working order at a price I could afford. A couple years ago, I took a class at SAFF on spindle spinning and -- though I enjoyed the idea of it -- I found the process too tedious for me.

I enjoyed my spinning so much on Sunday that I find myself making the foot motions while sitting at red lights in my car. I am hooked!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Hacking Away

I called my mom the other day and the first thing she said was: "You have a cold, don't you?"

Yes, ma, I have a cold. I get whatever is going around, whenever it is going around. In fact, the very first entry on Treats for Breathing was all about how terrible I was feeling due to flu.

Lucky for me, this one seems shorter lived than most of my winter colds. I am happy to be on the tail end of symptoms now, with just the occasional clearing of the throat. In fact, the worst of it was about a week ago. And the worst part of the worst of it? When I laid down for bed I'd begin to cough. And cough. And cough. I'd cough until I sat up again. So, I spent three days on the sofa, hacking away, while Len held pillows to his ears in the next room.

He started it. He got the cold over Christmas and passed it along to me.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Cold Weather, Warm Sweaters

It's definitely sweater weather here in Hotlanta, and I am feverishly knitting myself some spectacular cold weather gear. I started knitting a soft and lovely striped raglan for Len out of some Malabrigo in my stash, when we both began to notice as the sweater emerged that the colors were much more feminine than we first anticipated. No problem! It easily becomes a raglan sweater for ME!

The other sweater I am making for MYSELF (I am such a greedy knitter!) is the Sweater Girl Pullover from the latest Interweave Knits. It's knit in the luscious Rowan KidSilk Haze, double stranded, in a repeating simple cable pattern. It is light as air and lovely to touch. I'm about 20 percent into the sweater after three days of knitting -- I love it so much I can't put the darned thing down.

Len also found in his car yesterday a project that I've been missing for weeks. It is a short-sleeved Art Yarns silk affair that is meant to be worn over a camisole. I've completed everything but the beading work on the collar. As soon as Sweater Girl is complete, I'm going to complete this special project.

And, I have finally begun completion on a project that was all but finished a year ago, a zippered cardigan in a soft bulky alpaca. I am a little intimidated by the zipper installation, but have all the ingredients and will sit down and get 'er done in the next several days.

I feel warmer already.