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27 posts from March 2008

31 March 2008

Breakfast for two

DH and I went out for breakfast yesterday morning.  The goal is to go out for breakfast every Sunday morning, resuming a (very) long-abandoned tradition.  The opening of the new cafe where Maddy works coincides nicely with the new plan.

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It was as yummy as it looks.  That panini has pesto, turkey and scrambled egg, along with very thin slices of tomato, mozzarella cheese, and potato.  Yes, potato; one of my most favorite things.  I watched as a delighful looking potato side dish was made using thin slices of potato and they will definitely be hitting my plate next weekend.

Food will take center stage again tonight as I'm attending an Italian/Mediterranean cooking class at another new-to-me restaurant.  A few of the women from book club have been to previous classes and gave enthusiastic recommendations.

Dsc02439_0188Well, the little sweater I was knitting with the combo at right started out looking great, but half-way up the sleeve I began to think "clown barf."  Not good.  Maybe that "sherbet" would be better with black -- like licorice!  I wasn't in the mood for clean up last night; nor was I in the mood for seaming, finishing, or resuming any of the untold number of projects that would benefit from such a mood.  Instead, I'm on the home stretch of a nice, cheerful, spring-timey Ballband Dishcloth.  I think I'll make a couple each for Kate & Al.

29 March 2008

On your mark!

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It may not really feel like spring yet around here -- there's still plenty of snow around -- but the calendar says it's spring and, dammit, we're doing spring things!  I have spotted motorcycles, scooters and sportscars on the road, people out raking their yards (the ones with the southern exposure), and lawnmowers beginning to emerge from garages and sheds.  Mind you, the lawnmowers aren't actually needed at present -- the grass isn't even green, much less growing -- but it's time to prepare and be ready.

Maybe a brigade of lawnmowers at attention would scare away the forecasted snow!

28 March 2008

Sweet!

Lynne sent out a fun questionnaire for the Sweet Treats Special Swap.  (The photo is from the ABC-Along 2006:  T is for Temptation.)

T is for Tempted

1. What were your three favorite treats in your Halloween bag?  Chocolate (in any form or fraction), Smartees, SweeTarts.

2. What were the three treats that you would trade away?  Individual hard candies, lollipops, Dots.

3. Do you bake?  A little (cookies, cake, cheesecake... DH does the pies.)

4. Do you order dessert in a restaurant?  If so, what is your favorite dessert?  Sometimes... it depends... I like carrot cake, some pies, anything super-good chocolaty.

5. Tell me about your favorite Candy-colored yarns, and what candy are they inspired from?  I'm knitting with some STR in a colorway called "Sherbet" -- that's sweet like candy, right?  One of my favorite sweaters was knit in a Rowan colorway called "Truffle."  I think they meant the mushroom, but I think chocolate...

6. When you knit a special "icing on the cake" accessory  for your outfit, would you knit ...... socks, a scarf, a hat or a bag?  Definitely a scarf or small shawl!

7. Describe the perfect ice cream sundae.  Vanilla ice cream, loads of hot fudge, fresh pecans, a teensy tiny bit of whipped cream, and a cherry on top!

8. Are there any knitting treats that you would love to add to your collection?  A book you would like for your library?  A knitting gadget for your notions bag?  A sweet yarn?  Sometimes surprises are good.

9. Think about the best homemade dessert from Mom or Grandma. Do you have the recipe to share?  A long-time favorite from my maternal grandmother, Apple Kuchen.  Recipe (perhaps with photos) to come in a follow-up post!  Yum.

10. What local or regional treats would you insist your swap partner try if she visited your town?  We would definitely go to my favorite chocolate shop -- it's only a couple of blocks from my favorite knitting shop!!

11. Cupcakes....talk amongst yourselves.  (Chocolate.)

27 March 2008

Looking for a good home

I need a new home page.  I am weary of economic news, political news, knee-jerk news, sensational news, celebrity and fashion and shopping "news."  Sick of it all.  Not that I want to ignore the news, but I know where to find it when I want it.  Looking for recommendations for a new home page!  What's yours?

I cast on for that new baby sweater!  I'm making the largest size (18m) with Addison sort of in mind, but it's still very pink even with all that blue yarn.  We'll see if real men let their sons wear "sherbet" sweaters.

Maddy's back to work and lovin' it!  She loves everyone she works with, too.  That's a big plus.  Her last gig was pretty solitary; it's nice to have coworkers.

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We're complete dorks and saved the receipt that says, "Served By Maddy."  It was the last night of by-invitation-only dress rehearsal; the doors are flung open to all as of this morning.  It was very nice and very new, and also very old.  Originally built in 1881, the building has been renovated with lots of care; for example, the bricks removed entirely from the building at one point were all reused, and other salvaged materials were also used.  I'm anxious for it to find and develop its character and personality.  And it will.  It took quite a bit of love and patience and heartbreak to get this far -- some even say it's a miracle.

26 March 2008

Inquiring minds want to know...

(or at least be reminded once in a while)... Does Vicki have a dog?

Dsc02441Yes.  No.  Well, yes and no.  Technically, it's Madeleine's dog, which makes it mine by default.  Her name is Mickey and she's an orange-peel-chocolate-loving almost-all-beagle.  Half the bar -- gone, gone, GONE!  This means that I must extend thanks to Margene from both of us for the chocolate bar that she included in the 4-year blogging anniversary contest prize package.

Thank you, Margene.  It was delicious.  I should have known better.

Let's hope Mickey doesn't like Sherbet!

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Socks That Rock in Sherbet, that is.  (Orange sherbet was always my favorite -- still is; orange Creamsicles, too.  Mmmm.  I miss the ice cream wagon...)  The colors are fun and bright and... fun and BRIGHT!  There's a bit of blue in the colorway that goes nicely with the Araucania Ranco and I'm thinking of another baby sweater like the one I knit for Cara's baby shower.

25 March 2008

For your reading and listening pleasure

TruckI was jiggled into action at Rachael's the other day when she mentioned books she's loving, mostly memoirs; specifically by one that appeared on her recommended list:  Truck by Michael Perry.

PopulationPopulation: 485, by Michael Perry, is one of my favorite books.  I've written about it here before, recommended it to family and my book club.  There are so many reasons why I love this book that the words jam up; basically, what they all boil down to is: Read Good Book.

From the moment I learned of it, I have been excited about the First Annual Fox Cities Book Festival.  It's gained support and momentum over the past few months and the news just kept getting better and better.  My eager anticipation was ramped up to ants-in-the-pants status a couple of weeks ago when I learned that it would kick off with a reading, signing and discussion by MICHAEL PERRY!!

So now, in very timely fashion, I'm getting primed by reading Truck.  I don't know why it took me so long to pick it up -- I'm loving it.  He hits home and plays heartstrings and makes me laugh -- out loud.  That's rare.  I'm going to want more.  If you're interested, Michael Perry's website: SneezingCow.com.  (I'm completely enamored with a guy who explains that he may decline a speaking engagement because... "There are two little girls here who won't be little girls forever.")

And now (not totally out of the blue if you consider yesterday's post), a musical interlude.  And, also, it's about reading and writing...

24 March 2008

Random Pleasures

We had a great weekend, though very low-key for a holiday.  All the girls were here for brunch yesterday -- plus the boyfriend of one and a childhood friend/weekend guest of another -- along with my mom and her husband.  DH made us Egg M*Muffins to order, served with Maddy's fruit salad, and Mom's pineapple/pudding/whipped-topping/coconut WW confection.  It was all over by about 1:00, as Katie & Ali both had early departures due to work, Maddy took her friend home, and the Mom contingent wanted to get a nap in before tackling taxes.

Creme Brulee Smile

Katie and I did some running around on Saturday, including lunch.  We wanted Thai, but the restaurant was closed on Saturday, so we went to our next favorite place -- the one with creme brulee that makes a delicious smile when we share.

We stopped to see Ali just as she was finishing her shift and we all went Easter shopping at Target.  This is the first Easter that I didn't do actual baskets, but I had to do something and the girls didn't want junk... so I had them help!  We ended up with a practical (small mixing bowls for the two at large/tote bag for the one at home) and healthy variety of "treats," with one small whimsy... and one bag of chocolate eggs.  No jelly beans or Peeps for the peeps.

Raisingsand_2I -- I mean Easter Bunny -- treated DH to a book and me to Raising Sand, Robert Plant / Alison Krauss.  I just had to have it!  I've seen it here, I've seen it there, and now JCPenney is using the opening of Killing The Blues on some of their commercials.  I couldn't stand it anymore!  I had to have it and I'm glad I... Easter Bunny... did!  Lovin' Gone Gone Gone and Please Read The Letter...

23 March 2008

F is for...

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Face.  My new face.  Also for Four! (what a dope that I didn't think to use that post for my F!).

ColortonesI've got a new face... on Ravelry and on Flickr... a self-portrait that I took on Saturday afternoon.  I liked the way my hair was looking, especially the gray.  It's gray pretty much only at the hairline, framing my face, and has been described as "bright."  Well, indeed it was.  I took a zillion pictures of the top of my head from the eyeballs up and decided to try and get an okay portait.  This one is far from perfect, but the best of the batch.  I fooled around with cropping and processing the photo in PSE (probably could have done some retouching... I'm just learning!) and then Warholized myself using Big Huge Labs!  I am thrilled with how that turned out.  I saved three versions and combined the best of them into one -- I love the yellow "negative" version that shows the wild gray hairs!

21 March 2008

Hippety-hoppety

...through the snow... Easter's on its way!  It's not actually snowing here (yet) and we're not expected to get much, but just a bit south of us (and west) it's a completely different story on this Good Friday, day after the First Day of Spring.  Katie was going to come home again this weekend, but with at least 6-9" of snow predicted she'd probably best stay put.

Maddy's best friend through elementary and middle schools, Katy, is here for the weekend.  She moved about 40 miles away a few years ago; they talk frequently, but don't get together as often as they'd like.  Some other friends came over last night and they were reminiscing about some of the goofy things they did -- and how they'd fight!  Like most girls, they could only spend so much time together.  Katy's mom had supplies for every imaginable craft, which they'd do over at her house, but the creativity and resourcefulness spilled over into every area of play.  For a long while, they were into secret agent, investigative, detective, spy stuff -- thanks to a combination of Nancy Drew and Carmen Sandiego, and Lavar Burton probably had something to do with it, too -- and I'd find file folders and dossiers and "evidence" all over the place.  They played school with their American Girl dolls like nothing you've ever seen before.  I remember walking through the living room and noticing facial features taped to each of the pillars, being told later that they were for practice kissing.

And I wonder if this weekend will end with a fight.

The Garden Room

This photo was part of one of yesterday's mosaics, the first photo I ever posted on my (knitting) blog.  It makes me smile because it has nothing to do with knitting, because of the red Barrel-O-Monkeys monkeys hanging from a shelf support, and because you can see my iconic (for lack of a better word) pothead on the top shelf in the window.  I guess I set the tone early.

Thank you for all the wonderful blogiversary wishes.  Those made me smile, too!
Happy Weekend!

20 March 2008

Four!

For four years, I've been blogging about Knitting Things...

4 Years Blogging: Knitting Things

...and about the People...

4 Years Blogging: People

...Places...

4 Years Blogging: Places

...and Things...

4 Years Blogging: Things

...that matter to me, or amuse me, or catch my eye, or make me happy.  It's been a pretty great four years.

I'd been thinking about letting the blog go, but I think I'll hang on a bit longer.  I gotta tell ya, it's been tough lately.  I'm been feeling more guarded and self-conscious, less willing to share, more afraid of being hurt, not always happy with what's going on in my life or how I'm reacting to it -- much of which doesn't even show up here, actually, but it shows nonetheless -- flip-flop, wishy-washy, what-am-I-doing-with-my-life, almost-middle-age, probably-post-menopausal angst anyone?  Geez, it's worse than being a teenager -- at least then I could hit Mom up for money.

So thanks for hanging in there, reading and commenting when I so clearly suck at responding and/or reciprocating.  I never have blogged with a plan, and never will, it's just not me, so I have no idea where it's going to go -- probably many of the same places it's been.  I do have some definite ideas about NEW people to see, places to go, things to experience.  Sadly, none of it involves an old hardware store; happily, I've realized that the biggest of my desires attached to that dream is to live and work in the same place -- for a wide variety of reasons, not the least of which is the cost of transportation.  With all that in mind, new things will likely include a motorized scooter and a camera upgrade, some revamping and redecorating around home, and I'll probably continue to take a class or two about... maybe something new.

Four more years???

19 March 2008

WIP Wednesday

Heh.  Wednesday -- my usual day off in a normal week of four 10s -- is nothing but work, work, work -- the type of work that "in progress" entails laundry detergent, checkbooks, dishrags, grocery stores, and other sundries and chores.  You know the type.

Today's included my first "annual" exam in three years.  I was pretty much in agreement with my nurse practitioner that I was, indeed, probably POST-menopausal, but I wanted the bloodwork done anyway.  I'm terrible at keeping track, but I know it's been two years since I started skipping, and it could be a year, more or less, since I had a period at all.  I know everyone is different, but that seems quick.  I never did have hot flashes during the day, and it's not often that I get hot at night anymore, either -- it almost always has to do with how many I share the bed with.

Okay then.  Given that tidbit of information, you may or may not be surprised to know that I've got the Clap, and I've got it good.

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Clapotis.  Do some people save all the dropping of stitches 'til the end?  I can't stand it!  I have dropped every available stitch the minute I've been able -- and it's true, what they say.  It's thrilling!

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I have this beautiful new bag that coordinates nicely with my latest project!  It was made by my textile-artist friend Pat.  DH brought it home from the co-op gallery because of the lovely fabrics and colors -- he wanted me to photograph them and then he was going to take it back.  I fell in love with it, though; completely enchanted by the richness of the fabric, the gorgeous cording, the lovely gold-toned hardware in contrast with the... what do you call it, "deconstruction"?... of the... construction.  The reinforcement for the grommets are just layers of fabric scraps, trimmed but not finished; same for the pockets, inside and out, all neatly trimmed and certain to fray a bit at some point.  I just love it!  No surprise... I love Pat, too!

18 March 2008

No Smoking!

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There's been none of that around here for three years.  Today.  That's just crazy.

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Meanwhile, it amuses me to no end that the window shown above was positioned directly over this OPEN door.

The Hardware Store on Flickr.

In other news:  Knitting out tonight.  I'll have a Clapotis progress photo tomorrow!  (Me likey.)

17 March 2008

Because it's green?

We broke with tradition yesterday, to the dismay of a few (but not most), and did not have Corned Beef & Cabbage, per se, to celebrate my brother's birthday.  We did have Reuben panini -- made with corned beef and sauerkraut (technically cabbage) on marbled rye -- and it was YUM!

From the minute I saw E is for Erwtensoep (Dutch Pea Soup), I knew I had to make it, and then it got into my head that it would be the perfect other half of a celebratory St. Paddy's birthday soup and sandwich combo -- if only because it's green.

It is quite possible that new traditional ground has been trodden -- The Dutch-Irish lunch was PERFECT!!  The panini were wonderful and just the right size, the soup was delicious... and devoured.  I was kind of planning on leftover pea soup for lunch today, but it wasn't meant to be!

I made the soup late on Saturday.  I had a momentary lapse at the grocery store while shopping for ingredients and came home with a fresh pork loin instead of a pork shoulder (ham).  It was late, so I cut it into three pieces and threw it into the pot, increasing the cooking time in the "puree stage" to 2-1/2 to 3 hours rather than the 45 minutes stated in the recipe; the pork shredded nicely!  I used smoked turkey sausage and more salt was required as seasoning because of the lack of ham, but otherwise the recipe was followed exactly.

In celebration of F is for Food... I mean FOOOOOOOOOOOOOOD!... Lab Cat is having a Food Fest over the next two weeks... already a post up today... so check it out.

Blogging these past almost-four years has done as much for my cooking and food repertoire as it has for my knitting... Dutch Pea Soup will join notable blog favorites such as Chili All Day, Roasted Tomato Sauce, and La Bete Noir in my recipe box.

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Oh, and there was Carrot Cake for dessert yesterday... guess who licked the beater (and the spoon!).  Little bro's filling in on the left, just doin' his job as Eye Candy.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!!!

16 March 2008

E is for...

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...Empty.  The old hardware store.  We took the tour yesterday.  It's unlikely that this will be Vicki's old hardware store... but the wheels are turning now...

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The large photo is the smaller of the two storefronts; it has wood on both floor and ceiling, but not heat of its own.  The owner of the old hardware store used it only for storage -- it hasn't been an actual store for maybe 70-80 years.

The big wheel is for a hand-operated freight elevator that goes from first floor to the basement.  The basement floor is nothing but limestone bedrock and dirt -- and big timbers -- with a very low ceiling.  The huge old coal burner is still down there, along with traces of coal.

The ladder is one of two -- one runs along a side of the store, the other along the back.  (*sigh*)

The stairway leads from a street-level door between the two storefronts to the second level and five (count 'em -- 5!) apartments.  We think it may have been a hotel or rooming house at one time (originally) with many more rooms because there are blocked off doorways everywhere!  The largest apartment is relatively untouched and, really, quite nice -- with a little vision.  Most of the rest are the result of some amazing cobble jobs that had us scratching our heads a few times.  The electrical array was... shocking.

I'll get all the photos up on Flickr later... right now, I'm on my way to Mom's to celebrate some birthdays -- my stepdad's, my brother's, my brother-in-law's -- and, I realized, my three-year smoke-free anniversary!

15 March 2008

Blobs 'n Thyme

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I was in a procedure room at the doctor's office yesterday, awaiting a minor procedure with Maddy.  There was a wall of cabinets on one side of the room, each door and drawer labeled.  I told Maddy that it would drive me nuts to work in there because the labels were all crookedy.  I was reading them all, whether crooked or straight, and the bottom drawer on the right made me laugh.  I grew up with medical-surgical-hospital talk while my mother went to nursing school -- we talked about things at the dinner table that most people wouldn't talk about at all -- and I never once heard anything about blobs, at least not the kind that would be stored in a marked drawer.  One would think that one would.  Well, I had to take a picture and, of course, the doc walked in right then... and now I know what a blob is (a type of ventilation mask), medically speaking.

While Saturday is normally a day of looking up at the sky, this morning my attention was drawn down to the ground.  Because of the sun that's been in the sky so many recent days, there are encouraging signs appearing everywhere!  This is creeping thyme breaking through the snow, a large patch that's between the house and the garage.

I have not begun Talia because it requires two circular needles that I do not have.  I'm not sure I wish to purchase them, either, since I'm not much of a circ knitter.  While I consider my options for borrowing said needles or whether I can modify the pattern to knit in pieces (requiring a fair amount of calculating and math and the frame of mind must be "just so"), I have begun a mini Clapotis using directions found at kpixie and the Atacama yarn that Liz sent for the Special Swap Spa.  The yarn was originally intended for pedicure socks, but I'll use a scarf more often.  I have remained a rare Clapotis virgin for over three years... but not for long.  I've already felt the thrill of the drop and I'm hooked.

14 March 2008

Don't bring me down

Silk_shawl

Shawl_detailI have worn this Shape It! Scarf (pattern from Sally Melville's The Knit Stitch) almost constantly since it came off the needles.  The beautiful color combination can be worn with almost anything.

I visited this yarn in the Autumn House Farm booth quite a few times at Rhinebeck last fall before I finally purchased it, and then it didn't take long to knit it into something.  I wore the shawl in several different ways all winter, but the shaping just wasn't right for me.  I frogged the whole thing two weeks ago.

A few days later, while knitting out with the Tuesday girls, I finished the first Shape It! incarnation, which turned out way too long.  I wanted only to drape it over my shoulders and possibly tie a half-knot; I did not want to wrap it 'round and 'round my neck.  So I ripped it back again, but only to a certain point, put it back on the needles and made it shorter (also a bit wider) and now I love it!

I'm glad I persevered.  It was fun to play around with this yarn, working it a few times, to finally find what it's meant to be.

* * * * * *

I drove past the old hardware store on the way home last night to double-check the contact phone number.  There was a bus blocking my view and then my cell phone rang.  It was my baby sister, calling to chat about the weekend.  We started talking about our kids and then our houses, and how mine is feeling too big and very empty right now.  We talked about different things that could be done to the house and, by that time, I was home and standing in the driveway; at the moment, while there are no leaves on the trees and there's not a house being built across the street, I can see the old hardware store from my house.  I told my sister about this goofy fixation, this wild and crazy, beyond my wildest dreams idea about buying the old hardware store... and then I'd want to live there!

Well, she loved the idea, and we talked about what could be done there, what would I do with the space.  I talked about my ideas and she threw in her two cents and pretty soon there was a pretty darn good idea... if only I had two nickels to rub together.  But what the heck, you know?  I have to stop thinking that way.  People do crazy things all the time, and sometimes they work.

So I called the guy.  I knew his name and had a vague idea of the phone digits, so looked it up and called the number that seemed closest.  I admitted that it's all a bit fantastical and that I had to pick up the phone before reality roared in, but we chatted for quite a while.  The place has been shown more than a dozen times, with fewer than half showing continued interest; it needs a LOT of systems work, a LOT of updating and cosmetic work, a lot of work work work, and I'm taking a tour tomorrow afternoon.

I laughed when my sister said that no matter who buys it and what they do with it, it's always going to be "the old hardware store."  It's totally nuts to think that it could be my old hardware store, but... yeah... crazy stuff.

* * * * * *

Can't let this day pass without sayin'...

Happy Birthday, Margene!!!

13 March 2008

Bookworm

Library1

Library2This is the library in my little town, built with assistance from Andrew Carnegie, c. 1902 -- posted especially for Carole.  I worked at the library during my freshman year of high school in the early '70s, and I absolutely loved it.  I don't know why I didn't pursue library science as a career.  I just didn't have a clue.

There was an addition built at the rear in the mid- to late-70s, and the main entrance was moved to the side.  They did a fine job of retaining the flavor of the old main entrance at the front, even though it isn't an entrance anymore.  The name of the library is still over the old doorway, which is now just a big window by a landing -- in the children's department.  An elevator was added last year, or the year before.

Recent talk of adding on again, or building new, was recently tabled.  There's little support for such expenditures amongst taxpayers, especially when we've just done battle to keep the French, orchestra and gymnastics programs at the high school, and when two of the district buildings are up for sale.

The whole library thing came up because Carole thought, on first glance, that my kids' grade school (posted a few days ago) was the library... and that got the wheels turning.  My wheels have certainly been turning all around town this week!

Do y'all wonder if I still knit?  I do.  I should get to seaming Oblique one of these days -- probably when spring is in full swing and have no need for a wool cardigan.  I have a few other things that I'll show soon.  I finally found a use for the Lamb's Pride Worsted that I reclaimed (quite a while ago!) from a vest -- I wound it all up last night to start TALIA from the new KNITTY!  I've printed the pattern and want to take a good look -- I'm not sure about horizontal lines across my butt -- but I love vests (regardless of what Clint & Stacy think -- have me on the show and maybe we can talk) and am hopeful that I can "make it work."

12 March 2008

If I could do anything...

Well, Deb asked an interesting question the other day:

What would you do with the space if time, money, whatever, were limitless?

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Dsc02280_0049You'd think that would be easy enough to answer, but it's not.  It's difficult for me to think that way.  Well, sure, I can daydream a little... If I won the lottery... I would build a 10-car garage and fill it with sportscars... I could spend one week a month in a new and exotic location... Wouldn't it be nice?  But I don't really ever let it go too far -- never anywhere near the realm of possiblity or maybe... and I'm too realistic (way too realistic, it's almost a fault -- I'm beginning to think that it's sometimes crippling) to spend much time dreaming about stuff that doesn't have half a chance... where would I get the money... unless I win the lottery... enter practical smackdown.  It's actually a bit of an exercise.

But, you know?  Deb asked... and it's a good question... and why the hell not.  What WOULD I do with it if I had no worries about how to buy it, fix it up, keep it, pay any of my other bills (one more college loan on the horizon) or worry about retirement?  (Oy, that's a lot to set aside!)  But, okay, I can do this...

What would I do with it... what would be in it... what do *I* want to do... what do I *like* to do?  Here's what I came up with, it's a wild a whacky combo (but remember, there's lots of space -- and ohmygod, money is not a concern):

  • part yarn store
  • part book store
  • part French bakery
  • part photo studio
  • part incredibly high quality local and unique gifty-boutiquey-tiny bit of really great clothing store
  • part open studio/hang-out space for sometimes playing around with or dyeing fiber, with lots of room to sit and knit with customers and friends
  • a place, even, for kids -- older kids who are frustrated and maybe they're sick to death of video games and My Space (will that ever happen?) and they just need some room -- to come and play around with being creative... with paint, pictures, paste, pastels and paper, a typewriter
  • there'd have to be coffee and tea (to go with the bakery), but not a coffee shop.

And I'd live upstairs in one of the apartments.

* * * * * *

Congratulations JanuaryOne on the birth of MarchEleven!!

11 March 2008

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes...

Alert the media!  I've gone for a walk two days in a row, with dog and camera in tow.  Whatever it takes; even better if it rhymes.  The sun was setting.

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This is another building in my fair city that will soon be for sale -- the oldest elementary school, and the one my kids attended.  The bell, which has never hung in the tower, is on display in the lobby; the empty bell tower has been struck by lightning a few times.  I attended the 100-year celebration of this school and witnessed the removal of the keystone and opening of a time capsule.  People in the olden days just didn't seem to have a clear grasp of the potential for damage due to moisture and the elements, so that part was a bit anticlimactic.  The school administration building -- another historic building, the original post office -- is also for sale.  It's very weird that two such important buildings may soon be privately owned.

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On the other hand...  That's a view of my house from the west, with the neighbor's front lawn in the foreground.  Significant is the absence of a "for sale" sign, making it my NEW neighbor's front lawn.  I haven't made their acquaintance yet.  I hope the neighbor karma is much improved.

The "brush pile" across the street is one of about five or six that used to be a black walnut tree.  Whoever planted them was an idiot, placing them right under the utility lines; every couple of years the city would come and whack them all to hell and all I could hope was that I wouldn't be home to watch.  Last week, the trees were cut down altogether -- ugly stumps left jutting through the snow, branches strewn around -- and thank god I wasn't home to witness the devastation.  There was very recently a "for sale" sign on this property, too; I'm told that someone has plans to build a house.  It's pretty likely that my approval of their plans will not be sought; I hope the new house somehow "fits" in our eclectic neighborhood.  Whatever.  The over-zealous tree-cutters apparently cut down one tree too many -- one that was on another's property.  That's not good for the neighbor karma.

10 March 2008

Warming up!

There was just the dimmest of dim light in the eastern sky when I woke up this morning.  I've been enjoying the sunrise every day on my way to work, and I'll be happy to enjoy them all over again!  It's predicted that we'll be flirting with 40F by mid-week.  There's still very thick ice all around, so the warm, sunny weather is most welcome.

I encountered some of that dangerous ice while walking yesterday.  There was a very small window for clearing walkways one day when the sky spewed forth nearly every type of precipitation, and it turned to solid ice if no one was around.  There have also been shortages of salt, as well as conservation measures, so roadways are even worse.

Window shopping

I took the dog -- and my camera -- for a walk before supper last night. This Kodak Brownie Hawkeye camera was in the window of an old hardware store downtown, along with some other items, and a sign stating that items in the window were for sale and with a name and phone number to call.  It was a strange collection of things, and all very dirty.  It humors me that they didn't even bother dusting anything off (the lens looks like milkglass!), so the broken bit of feather in the flash barely raised an eyebrow.  The building's owner died several months ago, following a long illnes.  The store has always been a curiosity, looking lost in time -- with the inventory to prove it -- for the entire time we've lived here.  Every spring, though, like clockwork, tomato and pepper seedlings in flats would appear in the windows.  Not this year.  The store is for sale.  It needs an amazing amount of work and will certainly be a money pot... or I'd be there.  It's relatively untouched -- which means that it hasn't been monkeyed with, but neither has some very important, basic and routine maintenance been done.  The things that make me long for it are the tin ceiling, the hardwood floor, the big glass windows in the entry, the beadboard, display cabinets all along the wall, and the twin storefronts.  I would guess there are at least two apartments upstairs, too.

08 March 2008

Update

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Heel_toe_0011_edited1I completely forgot about last weekend's stash enhancement 'til I saw Deb's post yesterday.  Part of the reason I forgot is that it really wasn't much; the bigger reason is that "stash enhancement" is never, ever the goal of any trip.  It's fun to see new shops with my friends -- the shops they like -- to smell the wool, feel up all the silks and cashmeres, peruse the latest published patterns, but my biggest reason for any fiber-related trip -- near or far -- has so much more to do with people than fiber.

The fiber brings us together, it's other stuff that might keep us together as friends.  It doesn't happen all the time -- there are friends who are just "knitting friends," and that's great, but there are people I've met through knitting with whom I've made a much deeper connection.  I've been blessed.

Yeah, so anyway, back to the stash!  I finally laid hands on Noro Kureyon Sock Yarn!  I found it at Coldwater Collaborative.  This is color S164, lot A -- greens, browns, teal-y blues, and a little gray.  It's destined for something other than socks -- probably a scarf; I'm thinking along the lines of Argosy, but we'll see.

Dsc02241_2I was thrilled to find the "Suede 2-Piece Slipper Bottoms" by Fiber Trends at Needlework Unlimited.  These make me so happy!  My mother has darned my stepdad's Log Cabin Socks nearly to death and, while we talked of sewing on an entire suede sole (because that's all I thought we could do), I like this solution much better for this pair of slipper socks.

The Klever Kleenex Kozy by KMKat was nearly forgotten blog-wise, too -- only because it took up immediate and permanent residence in my bag where it brings a smile with every sniffle.  Thank you, Kathy!

D is for...

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Daughters and Dad.

Dsc00338This was taken last May when Dad was visiting, finishing up some business here.  I used my brand-spankin' new Adobe Photoshop Elements 6 to crop, lighten, and enhance the color/improve skin tone a tiny bit.  I have used photo editing programs before, but this one is a bit of a leap.  I'm pretty sure I could isolate and work on only Maddy's and Ali's faces -- they are most deeply shadowed -- but I've only just begun to learn.

It's not that common these days that all my girls are together, given various schedules and locations.  Now that Ali will be moving out on her own, an additional location and I'll be much more out of the scheduled loop.  Did I mention that the move will probably be as soon as TUESDAY?  There's an immediate opening and Ali's roommate is in need of a place to live NOW.

While I'm a bit tardy with the "D" posting, and it shouldn't have been all that difficult, since I've had this photo for nearly a year, the "Daughters and Dad" thing didn't really "speak" to me 'til now.

07 March 2008

Friday!

Carole went and posted crocus growing in her very own yard today.  There's still a foot or more of snow covering everything here, and it's been COLD, so it'll be a while before I see anything like that in my yard.  Thankfully, I can see it whenever I want on my blog.

jhnn

Happy Friday!

06 March 2008

Breaking up is hard to do

Okay, so video was streaming from every available source late this morning for Brett Favre's news conference.  I tuned in and watched as much as I was able.  The start time was delayed a half-hour due to travel difficulties, but the live feed was still broadcast while we waited (at least on Packers.com) and I had the distinct feeling that I was at a funeral.

Favre made reference to that -- with all the tributes and retrospectives and hoopla over the past few days -- "This is what it's like when you die."

I missed the very first few minutes of the actual news conference because my STUPID computer chose that moment to FREEZE!  Late or not, and even without audio at times, the message was emotional and it was clear: "It's over."

And now I have a headache from the tears -- both the few I shed and the many that I had to hold back.  I feel like my boyfriend just broke up with me -- and that it was harder on him in many ways than on me!

And I still can't quite sum up how I feel.  A caller on a radio show the other night -- Wisconsin Public Radio, of all things -- said that it was like watching a little boy play every time Brett Favre took the field.  As he said today, too, in thanking the fans:

"When I laughed and when my family laughed, they laughed; when I cried, they cried; when I cheered, they cheered; and when I threw an interception... well, ya know..."

Well... we wanted to wring his neck!  We shouted and hollered and wrung our hands, but only for a second because we really only wanted him back out on the field to try again, because it was so exciting to watch, it was always fun, he always gave it everything he had and made things happen.

Good luck to you, Brett Favre.  The best to you and your family.  We'll miss you.

Favre's final farewell
Favre's final farewell

* * * * * *

Brett's not the only one breaking up with me.  Ali showed me the floor plan of the apartment she plans to move into with a friend -- on April 1st.  This is not totally unexpected or undesired, but it is a little shocking and will take some getting used to.  It's all good, and it's time... and it also means a big world room open to possibilities.

05 March 2008

Therapy

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In light of yesterday's news... they're calling it "Black Tuesday" around here... they're also saying that you'll always remember where you were when you heard that Brett Favre was retiring...

Well, my Special Swap "Spa" package could not have arrived at a better time.  Swap mama Lynne matched me up with Elizabeth this time around.  Funny thing is that I managed to get her package out on time (for a change), but neglected to include any of the really good goodies -- ya know, the sweets and treats -- so she is yet due a Package #2.

Meanwhile, my package included some treats for my feet, including two hanks of Araucania Yarns hand-dyed alpaca, Atacama for the Pedicure Socks found in Knitty.  How fun!!  There's also a ball of Skacel Meditation to make a cover for a rice/lavender-filled therapy "log" -- that's one of those things that I would probably never have purchased on my own, but I am very strongly attracted to and intrigued by that yarn and can't wait to knit it up!  It looks very soft and somehow soothing.  There's an opportune opening in my knitting queue and no doubt I'll be casting on tonight.

There's also a hank of Knit Picks Paint Your Own Lace Weight yarn.  It just so happens that I have a box full of "bare" sock yarn and Jacquard Acid Dyes awaiting time and inclination (mostly time)!  I have some definite ideas about what I want to do with the sock yarn, but the lace weight, well that just might be destined for free play.

The chocolate... well, the chocolate has been doing its job admirably.  Thank you, Elizabeth!!

04 March 2008

Randomness on a Tuesday

Markers on Habu III Markers on Habu IV

I was playing around with my camera and my knitting a while back -- one of my favorite combinations of playthings.  A little crazy with the counting and re-counting and counting again sometimes (sometimes I kind of drive myself nuts), I attached small split-ring stitch markers for every 10 rows of knitting and used a BIG one at 100.  I liked the "landscape."

I love, love, love my point-and-shoot Sony DSC-S85, but I'm ready for a big-girl camera -- a DSLR.  My finger's been hovering over a few Buy-It-Now buttons recently and I'm reading, reading, reading -- Sony (because they're terrific and I'm loyal) or Canon (because they're really terrific, too), Sony or Canon, Sony or Canon... or Nikon -- still having difficulty deciding which "it" it should be.  And really, I can't justify a leap into this territory without a plan to "make it work," which means moonlighting as a photographer -- this is where it starts to get a little daydreamy, but then I think too much and begin to worry and I slip into a little bit of a nightmare.  This isn't something I woke up thinking about yesterday, though, it's been on my mind in varying degrees for a few years now.  It just takes some believing, a little bit of faith -- in myself and in the big bad world.  And darn it, I'm determined to make my way past SOME of these little demons in my life.  Eventually.

Speaking of which...  Yes, I am still going to school.  I have only one class this semester and it's going very, very well.  I never knew I could get a paper returned with so many marks and notes and scribbles and still get an "A."  I have lots to learn.

I was trying to remember the name of a book about the secret language of knitters to tell Brenda about over the weekend and... it's called The Secret Language of Knitters!  Um, yeah.  Actually, I think Brenda was wondering more about the secret language of bloggers, but if you're talking about KNIT-blogging, then there's bound to be plenty of overlap and intermingling with the secret language of knitters.

Not so secret is Jody's announcement of her new Knotions magazine.  Jody's knitting and good sense and wonderful eye and attention to everything that matters about construction is why this is so exciting.  Take the reader's survey and let her know what you'd like to see in Knotions.

And today, Brett Favre has broken my heart a little bit.  I'm excited for the future, but this was another little dream that I didn't want to end.

03 March 2008

Stuck in the clouds

I've been savoring my weekend.  The last leg of the drive home was through a thunderstorm last night, I had dinner with my family, did some laundry, wedged myself into bed between spouse and pets and slept (more or less) through the night, took a shower, got dressed, went to work, did some work, had lunch, did some more work, came home, had supper...  all the while feeling as if I'm in a happy, suspended animation.

If I don't blog about it, maybe it doesn't really have to be over...

DH and I left at noon on Friday to meet Katie in Stevens Point.  We wanted lunch, but didn't want to battle a lunch-time crowd, so decided to drive to Fremont and stop at a cafe there.

My dad used to take us sledding at a big hill just outside of Fremont.  Our next-door neighbors growing up had a cottage on the Wolf River at Fremont that I went to once -- their second daughter was one of my best friends.  The dad was an architect and their house was the one that was NOT a two-story colonial with bricks and white siding on our street.  The mom used Oxydol and I will always remember that for some reason.  We turned left off the highway at the church in Fremont to get to their cottage.

Until the "new" highway was built and rerouted around town, we drove through Fremont just about every time we went anywhere to the west -- and that was plenty -- and right past the Wolf River Cafe without ever stopping.

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Our loss.  Our big, big loss.  I was charmed the minute we walked through the door.  Well kept and clean, the decor is definitely retro -- nicely done retro, not too-too.  DH had chicken noodle soup and a tuna melt, I had all-you-can-eat whitefish and potato pancakes and, of course, couldn't even eat all that was served in the first round.  I took a chance on the potato pancakes, because the quality and style can vary greatly, but they were just the way I like them!

We met up with Katie in Stevens Point and she and I took off to The Cities from there.  She delivered me to Deb's just as Kathy and Chris were arriving.  Chris is the only one with half-decent pictures of the Friday night "festing" and, oh, what fun it was.  We had a beautiful dinner of butternut squash soup and caesar salad, with the justly famous flourless chocolate cake for dessert.  Yum.

Dsc02215To tell the truth, I don't have the greatest pictures of Saturday, either, but here's one that did turn out and it's one of my favorites.  I started my day having coffee with Deb and not-blogless-for-long Brenda, who we met for coffee before embarking on the yarn crawl.  Turns out Brenda's from the same place my mom and dad were born and raised!  It's a small, small world folks.

We started at Coldwater Collaborative, where I finally scored some Noro Kureyon Sock yarn -- destined to be something other than socks.  We did a little walking tour of downtown and stopped in a couple of fun shops... spring has sprung in Excelsior!  Needlework Unlimited was amazing and a little overwhelming.  I did manage to find some suede heels and toes for my stepdad's Log Cabin Socks -- I've seen full soles everywhere, but have never seen just heels and toes before!  The Yarnery was a great little store, but by then my mind stomach was more interested in food.  CursingMama found us in the crowd and we all walked over to meet Renee at Cafe Latte.  Oooh, yum, what a great lunch.  I had a salad sampler (three different salads) and a cup of not-your-ordinary cream of mushroom soup.

On Saturday night, serenaded by The Osmonds, I completely finished knitting the pieces of Mom's Habu Birthday sweater!  I even fixed the one piece where I'd forgotten to do the arm decreases.  The pieces will have to wait for their severe steam blocking and seaming.  In the meantime, I ripped my Autumn House Farm Shantung Silk Shawl (on Ravelry) on Saturday night, because it was too steep and pointy a downward-pointing triangle, and began reknitting it on Sunday more along the lines of my Sally Melville Shape It! Scarf (also on Ravelry), which I wear all the time.

Dsc02226Sunday morning was lovely, nice enough for a good walk with Deb and Holly and, of course, Katie came to pick me up and it was all over too soon.  It was fun for our Katies to meet -- here's a picture of Deb taking their picture.  Interestingly, Kate & Kate both have an interest in residential design and/or architecture.

Two funny blog things about Sunday.  I read about Bonneville with my morning coffee, starring some of my favorites -- Jessica Lange, Joan Allen, and Kathy Bates -- and was tickled when I read that Kathy Bates' character is named Margene!  I hope that movie doesn't skip my little 'burg, as I'd really like to see it!  The other funny thing was that as Katie and I made our way toward home, we stopped for a bite to eat and had to take a left on Norma Lane!

That was my wonderful weekend.  Thank you Deb, Jon, Katie, Holly, Tig and Sammie.  Thank you Chris, Kathy, Brenda, Lauri, and Renee.

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