Posted in Life in general, Miscellaneous

New York, Day 6

Baby Juice GlassesFriday was our last day. Our plane left in late afternoon, and hotel checkout wasn’t required until noon, so we dilly-dallied around in the morning, taking a subway ride down to 72nd Street to (a) find an ATM for our bank and (b) find breakfast.

Breakfast was at Utopia Restaurant on Amsterdam. It was delicious.  Please notice the tiny baby juice glasses. We were served juice in these itty bitty plastic tumblers everywhere we went for breakfast. They’re just so cute!  Then we wandered up and down the street for a while in search of our bank.  Turns out the ATM wasn’t at a bank branch at all, but inside a Duane Reade store.

These stores are ubiquitous in Manhattan. I had never heard of them before we arrived, but it seemed like every time we turned around, we saw one. They were quite handy, though. I had accidentally left my reading glasses at home, so Day 1 found us inside the store across the street from our hotel buying new reading glasses and bottled water for our long walk down to Times Square.  And we were in and out of the store for in-room snacks and more bottled water throughout the week.  (That Google image above is interactive, by the way.  You can move it around to see the neighborhood surrounding our hotel.)

Dinos Pack Themselves 1In case you were wondering, we left the dinosaurs back in the hotel room for this little excursion. They did most of the packing while we were gone. Very efficient, those dinosaurs.  We finished up what was left, and called the bellman to come take our luggage downstairs.

Did I mention that our hotel didn’t have an elevator?  And we were on the fourth floor?  Yes, Virginia, that does mean that every single day, after wearing ourselves to the bone walking around playing tourist, we had to drag our tired carcasses up four flights of stairs to our room.  Four narrow flights of stairs, at that.  It also means that the bellman was allowed the privilege of carrying both suitcases, one of them massive, up and down those narrow flights of stairs.  Don’t worry, he was tipped well.

Since our flight didn’t leave until 6:00 PM, we were going to check out but leave the luggage at the hotel while we wandered around some more, and then take Uber to the airport in mid-afternoon, but the bellman told us we could catch a bus just a couple of blocks up the street that would take us directly to our terminal, and we could use our subway transit passes to pay for it.  He checked the schedule for us, and the next bus to LaGuardia left in about 30 minutes.  After a brief consult — “Do you want to see anything else?”  “No, not really, I’m kind of tired of walking around and looking at stuff.” — we decided we were really tired of Manhattan and were ready to get started on our outbound trip.  So we dragged our luggage up to 106th Street and caught the bus.

Said bus took us through Harlem, right past the Apollo and other landmarks.  I didn’t have my camera or my phone out, so we didn’t catch any photos as we drove through.  Here’s another interactive Google image, though.

We got to the airport about five hours ahead of our flight, so we wandered around, ate lunch, read, played on our phones, and killed time chitchatting while we waited for our plane to board. The flight back to Atlanta was uneventful, as was picking up our car from long-term parking and making the Back to the Jungle 2short drive home. One of the advantages of living in a major metro area like the ATL is we’re less than 20 minutes away from the airport. Still, we were exhausted when we arrived at the house and went straight to bed.

The next morning, while we picked up the critters from the kennel (that was a shock to the wallet), the dinosaurs headed back into the jungle, there to await their next trip. So long, dinos; we’ll see you again soon, I hope.

People have asked me what was the best part of this trip.  Naturally, seeing all the things in person that I had only ever seen in photographs or movies or TV ranks really high, but truly, the best part was spending an entire week doing stuff with my husband and remembering that, not only do I love him, I really truly do like him.  Here’s to many more anniversary trips, honey.  I love you bunches.

Posted in Life in general, Miscellaneous

New York, Day 4

We spent our anniversary visiting the Museum of Modern Art.

The subway trip to MOMA was more involved than all the previous subway trips we had undertaken by ourselves. We had to change trains twice, I think, to get to the right stop.  And then we nearly walked right by the museum because the exterior didn’t look anything like what we expected.

Dinos and Degas
Dinos admire a Degas sketch.

First stop was the Degas exhibit, A Strange New Beauty.  Be advised that link will probably only be good through the end of the exhibit on July 24, 2016, so I’m going to steal the website copy that describes the exhibit:

Edgar Degas is best known as a painter and chronicler of the ballet, yet his work as a printmaker reveals the true extent of his restless experimentation. In the mid-1870s, Degas was introduced to the monotype process—drawing in ink on a metal plate that was then run through a press, typically resulting in a single print. Captivated by the monotype’s potential, he immersed in the technique with enormous enthusiasm, taking the medium to radical ends. He expanded the possibilities of drawing, created surfaces with a heightened sense of tactility, and invented new means for new subjects, from dancers in motion to the radiance of electric light, from women in intimate settings to meteorological effects in nature. The monotype also sparked a host of experiments for Degas, who often used the medium as a starting point from which an image could be reworked and revised. This process of repetition and transformation, mirroring and reversal, allowed Degas to extend his approach to the study of form. The profound impact of his work with monotype can be seen in his variations in different mediums of key motifs, revealing a new kind of artwork that was less about progress or completion than endless innovation.

The exhibition includes approximately 120 rarely seen monotypes—along with some 60 related paintings, drawings, pastels, sketchbooks, and prints—that show Degas at his most modern, capturing the spirit of urban life; depicting the body in new and daring ways; liberating mark-making from tradition; and boldly engaging the possibilities of abstraction.

I loved this exhibit’s insight into Degas’s process, working out his art in multiple forms and media before committing to paint and canvas.

Dinos View The Starry Night
Dinos admire “The Starry Night” while dino wrangler cries.

We then wandered through most of the permanent collection.  I had my eye out for The Starry Night, and when I finally saw it, hanging on a feature wall all by itself, I squealed:  “There it is, there it is!” and ran, I mean literally ran, to stand in front of it.  And I cried.  Of course, I knew I would because this has been my favorite painting for nearly 40 years; seeing it in person was an intensely emotional experience.

True confession: I got all misty again, just looking at the photo I took. Reproductions don’t do it justice. The actual painting is incredible: vibrant, glowing, pulsing with color. It’s alive. It positively sparkles.

Persistence of MemorySpouse had nearly the same reaction to his favorite painting, The Persistence of Memory.  It’s behind glass: you can just barely see spouse framing the photograph in the reflection, with the rest of the gallery behind him. “Persistence”‘s reputation looms so large, I was surprised at how tiny the actual painting is: barely larger than a standard sheet of typing paper.

MOMA Jaguar 3Spouse also fell in love with the 1961 Jaguar displayed in the sculpture gallery.

Yeah.  That’s an awfully pretty piece of machinery.  And it had its own guard making sure no one stepped over that perimeter line marked on the floor.

MOMA has so many artists whose works I admire but had only ever seen in books: Jackson Pollock, Andy Warhol, Mark Rothko, Pablo Picasso, Mondrian, Monet, Modigliani, Rousseau, so much more…

I could have spent all day here, because there’s so much to see, but spouse can tolerate paintings and sculpture and modern design and multi-media exhibits for only just so long.  After three or four hours, he was done.  So we made our way back to Times Square because we had noticed a couple of other exhibits at the Discovery Museum down there that spouse wanted to see and to which our GoPass granted entry.

Dinos and Tai Chi ManThe first was Body Worlds, a fascinating display of anatomy, functionality, and the sheer beauty of the human form, stripped down, literally, to its barest essence.  I don’t recommend this exhibit if you’re squeamish about body parts or nudity, but if that doesn’t bother you and you’re at all curious in how all our moving parts work together, this is absolutely a must-see.  I’m posting only one photograph in case there are some squeamish readers.  Just scroll past quickly.  Or not.

We Come From the Land of the Ice and SnowThe second exhibit we saw, at the same museum, was Vikings.  Wow. The first thing to greet you when you walk through the door is a replica of a Viking longboat.  It’s spectacular. The rest of the exhibit is equally gorgeous: tools, clothing, jewelry, weapons — most of them the actual items, with just a few replicas because the originals are so precious or rare that they can’t be risked on public display — along with some interactive displays, like handling a replica sword, and lots of dioramas (I believe they were stills from The Vikings TV show on Discovery‘s sister channel, History) and information stations discussing religion, village life, exploration, all manner of cultural and sociological background.  It’s a niche exhibit, just right for a history and archaeology nerd like me.  Highly recommended.

As can be expected, we were exhausted by the end of the day and didn’t manage to go out for our fancy anniversary dinner that evening.  But we and the dinosaurs tried out several eating spots throughout the day.  Just a couple more pictures and we’ll call this one done.

There’s one more full day to tell you about.  Stay tuned.

Posted in Life in general, Miscellaneous

New York, Day 3

Today the dinosaurs wanted to go to the Natural History Museum.  Luckily, we were in agreement with this agenda.

Metro Ticket 1
The object of all this intrigue.

But first, the rest of the subway story…

After breakfast, we headed down into the 103rd & Broadway station to catch the train.  As we went through the turnstile, we noticed our “friend” from yesterday doing the same fast-talking hustle-’em-through-the turnstile act with another couple.  Spouse told the couple as we walked by, “It’s a scam.  Walk away.”

“What?” they said, because they didn’t hear him over TicketScammerGuy’s patter.  Spouse repeated himself, louder.  “Oh! Thanks!”  They glare at TicketScammerGuy and walk away. TicketScammerGuy calls after us and threatens to shove his fist into spouse’s face.  We ignore him and start down the stairs to the train platform; then suddenly spouse turns around and walks straight to the station agent’s booth.  She’s facing the other way — her window opens into the “lobby” area, before patrons go through the turnstile.  He taps on the window until he gets her attention, and points out TicketScammerGuy , who by this time had taken up his position next to the MetroPass vending machine to await his next victim.

Dinos in TR Park (2)“He’s running a scam.”  Station agent looks puzzled.  Spouse describes him:  “That guy over there in the striped shirt and ball cap; he’s running a scam.” She looks over her shoulder in the direction spouse is pointing and enlightenment dawns.  I think she’s familiar with him.

“Thank you,” she says, and she set her jaw with a determined expression.  “We’ll take care of this.”

We never saw TicketScammerGuy again.

*cue ominous music*

Now, in reality we expect TicketScammerGuy took his show down the road to another subway stop, but it’s tempting to indulge in those New York City transit system stereotypes (read: Teamsters/union thugs/organized crime) (yes, I’ve seen too damn many film noir flicks) and think he was “taken care of” in a more, um, permanent fashion. Regardless of the true circumstances of his sudden absence, he no longer disturbed the patrons of the 103rd and Broadway station.

Hunting for Relatives Address 2Our subway stop for the American Museum of Natural History was at 79th Street, and then we walked a few blocks east, toward Central Park. (Sadly, this is the closest we got to spending time in Central Park during the whole week.)  The museum is nestled at the edge of Central Park, and we went through Theodore Roosevelt Park to get to the entrance.

I’ve mentioned the weather was perfect this whole week, yes?  Oh my gosh.  Mid-70s, mostly, with a hint of a breeze, and blue blue skies every day.  Just amazingly beautiful.

Once in the museum, we wandered around the Hall of Northwest Coast Indians for a while — indigenous textiles fascinate me; the woven capes and clothing were incredible; I only wish I could have touched them — then made our way to the café for a snack and a chance to take a thorough look at the map of the museum.

The dinos, of course, were looking for their relatives’ house.  According to the map, their relatives lived on the fourth floor; we decided to start there and work our way down.

Pictures galore follow.

Found Em 2
May we come in?
Not Much Room for Brains
So, cousin, not much room for brains, huh?
Natural History 5
This guy.  Not a good guy.
Natural History 4
I enter the picture unexpectedly.
Might Be Mom
Mom, is that you?
Natural History 3
Did you know these skeletons are usually plaster casts of the actual bones?  Because the fossilized bones themselves would be much too heavy to articulate and display.
Natural History 2
These creatures amaze me.
Family Tree
Found the family tree.
Natural History 13
More amazement.
Might Be Dad
Dad?

We also went into the special “Dinosaurs Among Us” exhibit, which tells the story of the latest innovation in evolutionary thinking: how dinosaurs became birds. It’s fascinating.  Look at these three photos together.

A quick stop for refreshment:

Dinos Stop for Refreshment

And then we headed downstairs and cruised the other floors.  True confession:  I bypassed several of the halls on each floor because my ankles were starting to hurt.  By the time we got back to the first floor, I was dog tired and my ankles were in agony, so I crashed out on the floor next to an outlet in one of the halls to charge my phone while spouse cruised the North American Mammals exhibit.  A passing security guard just grinned at me as I huddled up in the corner on the floor with my charger.

We had theater tickets that evening.  After taking a brief nap at the hotel, we changed into our theatre duds and hit the town once more.

Book of Mormon

Oh. My. Gosh.  The Book of Mormon might be the funniest thing I’ve seen in my life.  Definitely not family friendly, but side-splittingly hilarious.  The Eugene O’Neill Theatre is gorgeous;

Eugene O'Neill Theatre 3

the set was amazing;

Eugene O'Neill Theatre 4

and our seats were perfect. (Yes, we splurged.  Yes, it was worth it.)

And yes, there’s still more to come.

Posted in Life in general, Miscellaneous

New York, Day 2

Dinos Have CoffeeOur week in New York, continued….

We woke up fairly early — not surprising, considering we had crashed at 6:30 the previous evening — and got ready to head out on the town.  The Statue of Liberty was our destination and purpose on this day.  But our first adventure was discovering I did not pack a hairbrush with which to blow-dry my hair.  You’ll see the results of finger-combed blow-drying in the photos.  We walked a couple of blocks and found a different diner for breakfast.  This one was equally good, and we alternated between the two the rest of the week.  (Yesterday’s breakfast was at The Metro; today’s was at The Broadway.  Spouse recommends the corned beef hash at either.)

Dinos on the Subway 3Then it was time to tackle the subway.  And here’s where we confess we got hustled.  *hangs head in shame*  Spouse and I were standing in front of the ticket dispenser, reading the instructions and discussing whether we wanted to buy a multi-day pass rather than trips when some fast-talking guy jumps up and starts pushing buttons and the next thing we knew we were through the turnstile holding tickets in our hands and handing him $60 cash.  I mean it was literally nearly that fast.  (Yes, we should have known better, but just hold on, there’s more to this story.)

Despite our misgivings, we and the dinosaurs took the train to Battery Park, where we picked up our GoNewYorkCard tickets for the ferry to the Statue of Liberty.  While we were standing in line, I took a few photos of the skyline surrounding us.

It was a beautiful day.

Next we stood in line for the ferry.  Our dinosaurs are very good at standing in line.  And they were well-behaved while riding the ferry, as well.

The ride out was splendid.  We rode on top of the ferry so we could see everything.  We looked back toward the city:

On the Ferry

We looked ahead toward the Lady:

Approaching the Lady 1

The dinosaurs were especially excited to see her:

Dinos Looking for the Lady 3

After disembarking, we wandered all over Liberty Island.  Tickets to get into the pedestal or climb up to the lamp were sold out, so we stayed outside and took lots of photos.  Here are a few:

Me and The Lady 2

Remember what I said earlier about finger-combing and blow-drying?  Yeah.  This was taken while we were still on the ferry, so we’ve got windblown as well.  Not a good look.  Let’s look at something more beautiful instead.

The Lady 2

She’s gorgeous. And she moved me to tears.

Spouse and the Lady
Spouse and the Lady
Dinos View the Lady 1
Dinos and the Lady
Me and the Lady
Me and the Lady

The view toward the city was spectacular, too.

The City and Me 1

Even the dinosaurs loved it.

Dinos View the City 3

Somewhere, Ray Harryhausen is smiling.

Dinos Grab a SliceAfter a couple of hours on Liberty Island, we were whipped, sunburnt, and hungry, so we caught the ferry back. Neither spouse nor I were particularly interested in Ellis Island, so we skipped that part of the tour.  (I mentioned whipped, sunburnt, and hungry, right?)  At the Battery Park subway station, we tried to use our tickets again; and  we confirmed our suspicions that we had been taken earlier.  So we bought the multi-day passes we had originally intended to buy and caught the train back to Times Square where we grabbed a slice.

After taking the edge off our appetite, we went back to the hotel once more to get some rest before dinner; we had made arrangements for one of my internet friends who lives in New York to join us.  I was a little nervous about this because, although this woman and I had been internet buddies since 2002, and had even talked on the phone once or twice over the years, we had never met in person.  Ever.  I know that’s not unusual in the internet age, but it still feels strange to say that some of my best friends are people I’ve never actually met.

Mural in Penn Station (2)At the appointed hour, Annie arrived.  The restaurant near the hotel where we had thought to have dinner was unexpectedly closed, so we followed her lead on the subway and went on a little adventure.  We took a walk through Columbus Circle, wandered through Penn Station (where I shot this gorgeous Art Deco mural), caught this train and that train, and wound up in Korea Town somewhere around 37th Street.

Dinos Try OctopusI tried bibimbap for the first time. The dinos tried octopus. I think they liked the octopus better than I liked the bibimbap, but one must try new things or one’s horizons remain forever narrow.

Angela and Annie 2And, yes, spouse was kind enough to take a photo of Annie and me.

Isn’t she beautiful?  I love her.

After dinner, Annie got us headed back to the right train, and we called it a night.

Whew.  We, and the dinosaurs, were exhausted.  Once back at the hotel, we turned in and were quickly asleep.  Tomorrow would be another busy day!

Dinos Hit the Hay
Sweet dreams, little dinos.

Oh, by the way, we’re not done with the subway ticket story yet.  Stay tuned.

 

Posted in Crochet, Knitting, Project planning, Technique, Yarn stash

2016: Plans, not resolutions

I abandoned making New Year’s resolutions ages ago because I always ended up breaking said resolutions and then beating myself up for failure.  Now I make plans or set goals.  Because plans can change if circumstances change and no fault accrues; and if goals aren’t met, any progress made toward those goals is a win.  Baby steps are still steps in the right direction.

Drift
More like this in 2016.

Reading plans and goals:  I mentioned a couple these in Sunday’s Year In Review: Books blog post but they belong in this post as well.  My goal is to read and finish 52 books; then write at least a one-paragraph review and post it here as well as on Goodreads.  I also want to read more non-fiction.  Even though about one third of the books in my house are non-fiction — history, politics, sociology, and religion, mostly — I managed only one non-fiction title in 2015, and that one (Drift by Rachel Maddow) came from the library.  Speaking of the library, that’s part of the goal as well: to continue to make use of the library and of books I already own.  I simply don’t have room to acquire any additional physical books; and spouse and I have set Trigger Warningsome financial goals that limit my discretionary spending. What discretionary spending room I have, I prefer to save for yarn.  Or travel.  More about that later, though.

A couple of LibraryThing Early Reviewer titles rest here on my desk, Get In Troublewaiting to be read:  Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman and Get In Trouble by Kelly Link.  Getting those read and reviewed will do two things: alleviate the guilt I have for letting them sit as long as they have and add toward the annual reading goal.

Other than those two specific titles, and a general notion toward adding more non-fiction, I have no restrictions or plans for my reading material.  In the past couple of years, what I read and the order in which I read it has been dictated by the local library system.  I have a wish list, and when a title on the wish list becomes available, that’s what I read next. It’s rare that I don’t have at least one title from the library checked out.  Maybe cutting down on the wish list items will aid toward reading down the physical Mt. TBR in the house.  But that’s not a priority.

Wildflower 6Yarn plans and goals:  2016 will be the Year of Knitting Selfishly. All the knitting I did in 2015 was for other people.  This year it’s all about me and it’s all about the stash.*  First thing will be to finish the Wildflower Cardigan, an Alana Dakos pattern that’s been waiting patiently for more than a year.  The partial sweater is shown at right; the yarn is Elsebeth Lavold’s Silky Wool in Acorn. After that, I want to find the right pattern for a cotton shrug I’ve been wanting to make in a turquoise Cascade Ultra Pima.  And at some point this year, I hope to find some use for the two colorways of Rowan Plaid that’s been in my stash for going on 8 years.

Needles 2*Let me say at the outset that I do NOT pledge to go “cold sheep” — that is, not buy any new yarn — because that’s a sure-fire way to set myself up for failure.  What I can do is shop the stash first and, if I go to a yarn store because I’m traveling or because I’m accompanying someone else, I can limit myself to a single skein or two of exquisite sock yarn.

Speaking of finding patterns, I’ve decided to take part in Snapdragon’s Knit Your Library Challenge (click the link to learn more).  I’m confident that somewhere within all the pattern books and back issues of knitting magazines filed away in this house is any project I could possibly wish to make.  Matching the yarn to the pattern to the mood will knit-your-library_2016comprise a major part of this challenge, I think.  Sometimes I want to knit something new, but can’t make a connection between the stashed yarn in my hand and the library patterns that show up in Ravelry.  And the reverse is sometimes true:  I find a library pattern that I love love love but nothing in the stash works for it. When I have some time to breathe, I will spend several hours matching patterns and yarns and lay them out in an organized fashion. I’ve already got a couple of matches in mind.

Technique goals: This will be the year I finally tackle a Fair Isle project: a little one, like a hat. Three stashed skeins of a fingering weight cashmere blend in complementary colorways are screaming at me, so I want to shut them up. I also want to learn some different sock heels. I’ve always done the “flap and gusset” heel, so a short row heel and an afterthought heel are on my list this year.

Finally, I intended to have this blog entry ready to be published yesterday. Remember what I said at the top of this entry about plans? The universe had plans that trumped mine. I had to take my husband to the emergency room yesterday afternoon: he is currently hospitalized and we expect him to remain in the hospital for several days yet. His condition is not life-threatening — well, not really. I mean, it could be, but mainly it’s a chronic condition that periodically flares up and makes our lives miserable. I’ll be able to catch my breath when he comes home. In the meantime, I’m getting lots of knitting and reading done while sitting by his bed, in between the times I run home to take care of the pets. Thank heavens for an understanding employer.

Posted in Life in general

Sweet dreams, Jacquenetta

With heavy hearts, my husband and I announce the loss of our beloved and beautiful Jacquenetta, age 20 years, 10 months, and two weeks.

Jacquenetta entered my life as a six-week-old kitten in late March 1994. She was one of two kittens that came home with me from the Garland County (Arkansas) Animal Shelter (the other kitten, Puck, was sadly lost in the woods several months later). She was quiet and affectionate and loved sitting Baby Q 1behind me on the back of the sofa so she could groom my hair.

She was a mighty hunter in her day, a terror to the local rodent and bird population. Many’s the day I came home from work to find an offering on the front porch: a field mouse, a vole, the occasional sparrow, once even a baby rabbit. Then came the day she hopped in through the hole in the screen door and dropped a bluejay at my feet. A live bluejay, which promptly flew about my kitchen in a panic while I chased it around with a dishtowel until I managed to herd it out the back door.

Q and Teenage MoteWhen Jacquenetta was about three years old, I brought another rescued kitten home and Miss Q immediately began mothering him. She and Mote became bosom companions, and could be found snuggled up together most evenings.

Snuggle KittiesAfter my husband and I met, moved in together, then married, Jacquenetta became a well-traveled kitty, because that’s when we started moving around a lot. She became an indoor kitty, as well, because when we moved, it was out of the country and into town. She never lost her sense of adventure despite her confinement to well-defined square footage. Bill and Miss Q on the LedgeIn fact, she scared me nearly to death when we lived in a condominium with a 20-foot vaulted ceiling and a plant shelf at about the 12-foot mark. I looked up one fine day and saw her on that plant shelf, shrieked, and sent spouse upstairs to coax her off the shelf. She cooperated, and we blocked the pass-through to deny her future access.

Due to either my work or spouse’s work, we moved from that condo in South Arkansas to another condo in Little Rock and then to a house in the Quapaw Quarter; from there we went to California for a few years; returned to the South in 2010, and finally we landed in the Atlanta metro in early 2013. During those years we added two Pomeranians to the household. All animals handled the moves well, including being driven across country twice.

Playkitty1And somewhere during all these moves, Jacquenetta found time to pose for Kitty Hustler. Okay, not really, but that’s what we called it whenever she sprawled out on the sofa like she was waiting for someone to hand her a beer and the TV remote.

It was shortly after we moved to Atlanta that I noticed Jacquenetta wasn’t her usual self. She spent most of her day upstairs, away from the exuberance of the dogs and the noise of the television. She would come downstairs to eat and use her box and for the occasional snuggle with me or Mote, but generally she could be found in the dimness of the upstairs hall just outside the door to the guest bedroom. I put it down to her age but I watched her. We started getting more concerned when she could no longer groom Warm Noses 3herself as usual and became matted in her hindquarters. She also couldn’t tolerate being brushed for long, so keeping the matting under control became difficult. Then one day last April, she had a horrific seizure. Spouse and I rushed her to the vet, who kept her several days for observation and testing, and then delivered the diagnosis: end stage renal failure. This condition could be managed for a while, but in the end, it would be fatal.

“Is she hurting?” I asked. “No,” said the vet. “It’s painless.”

Spouse and I chose to manage Jacquenetta’s condition at home, with medication to prevent seizures and twice-weekly subcutaneous fluids. We ground the Valium and calcium into a fine powder and mixed it into soft foods; we hung the IV bag from the dining room light fixture while we pumped saline solution under the skin between her shoulders. Mote recognized his life-long companion was desperately ill, and spent as much time snuggled up with her as he could. We also let her outside now and then to bask in the sunshine on sun-warmed concrete.

Miss Q in the Sunshine

Jacquenetta 12-30-14
Shortly before Thanksgiving, I noticed Jacquenetta no longer climbed upstairs; instead, she lay across one of the floor vents downstairs for the warm air rising through the register. I laid a towel across the vent so her paws wouldn’t get caught in the grating and told spouse it wouldn’t be long now. A couple of weeks later, we put up the Christmas tree and spread the skirt out in such a way that her preferred floor vent was covered and she could still rest on top of the warm air. She stopped eating the Sunday or Monday after Christmas; when I came home from work Tuesday, spouse said she was passing blood in her urine. We called the vet and we all agreed it was time.

I left work early Wednesday and we took Jacquenetta to the clinic. They wrapped her in a soft fleece blanket and let me hold her while they administered the medicine that would let her rest. Spouse and I both petted her and loved her and talked to her while she went to sleep for the last time.

Sweet dreams, baby. You were loved so very very much.

Jacquenetta
Jacquenetta, 2/15/1994-12/31/2014
Posted in Knitting, Project planning, Yarn stash

Inspiration Saturday, after a fashion

At the time I write this, it’s shortly before 1PM Eastern Daylight Time.

I’ve been up since 4:30. That’s AM.

My husband snores like a freight train. *sigh*

© Debbie Bliss Knitting Magazine
© Debbie Bliss Knitting Magazine
But I’ve tried to put the time to good use. A few days ago, I started making a little lace shrug, using a bright turquoise cotton DK I’ve had in my stash forever. The pattern I chose (pictured left) isn’t exactly what I want, but it’s the closest thing to what I want that I found while searching Ravelry. I’m not even two inches into the project yet, and I’m already not liking the pattern. This is now the third time I’ve started something with this yarn and started hating it (the pattern, not the yarn) before getting very far. It’s rather frustrating.

Why am I so determined to make this yarn into a lace cardigan? I have a sleeveless dress that is in desperate need of a cover-up to make it suitable to wear on camera. Ultra pima 1And besides, who couldn’t use a turquoise blue lace cardi? The yarn, by the way, is Cascade Ultra Pima. It knits beautifully, and I will find the right pattern for it, or die trying.

So, while I was awake in the wee hours of the night, I started searching Ravelry again, and expanded my parameters somewhat. Free patterns or in my library; 3/4 sleeve, V-neck, buttons optional, DK or sport-weight, leave off the yardage limit, leave off the lace requirement, but specify plant fibers rather than animal fibers. Maybe I’d find a coat or a tunic-length cardigan that I could shorten and adapt to meet my yardage requirements. And I found something. Still not exactly what I want, but in my bleary-eyed befogged state, I saw past the pattern and into the nebulous realm of …

© Vogue Knitting
© Vogue Knitting
(cue dramatic music)

Design!!

Or at least major modifications.

I looked at this coat and ticked off the things I don’t like: Can’t stand the lace patterns, and it’s waaaaayyyy too long. But it has a V-neck, buttons, and 3/4 sleeves. I pulled the magazine off the shelf and read the pattern. Okay, I see the spot where I can cut off the bottom two-thirds of the coat and turn it into a cropped cardi. What about the lace pattern? Next I pulled a stitch dictionary off the shelf. And I found a lace pattern that will work with the number of stitches needed for the back…but not the front. Wait, what if I…? And here’s where the calculator came out.

A rough sketch has been made. No, you can’t see it because my drawing skills are crap. The rough dimensions and a preliminary stitch count are calculated for a cardigan in my size. The rest of the math is still pending because a swatch has yet to be knitted.

In between all this calculation, I’ve eaten breakfast and weeded the backyard (spouse helped with both).

Now, I’m hot, sweaty, and tired, but a little exhilarated. I think a shower is in order, and then I’m going to resume work on the Debbie Bliss cardigan. Because I read that pattern again, too, and realized my frustration and dislike was due to a misreading of a particular line in the written lace instructions. (This is why I prefer charts.) I’ve tinked back to the beginning of the error and will start afresh. And continue the design work a little later on.

I’ll keep you posted on the progress on all fronts.

Posted in Knitting, Life in general, Miscellaneous, Project planning, Yarn stash

Inspiration Saturday: Savannah has yarn stores, too

This past week was spouse’s and my 12th wedding anniversary. We decided to take a short vacation trip to celebrate. We hadn’t taken a vacation-type trip together in several years. In fact, the last time was Labor Day weekend 2009, and our impromptu jaunt to Carmel, so we were overdue.

So what did we do? We went to Savannah for four days! We stayed at a beautiful old hotel, ate some fabulous food, saw some gorgeous sights, and generally just enjoyed being together with no distractions like work, pets, or chores.

Monday, we took a trolley tour of the historic district.

Trolley Tour
This was a “hop-on, hop-off” tour, which meant we could get off at any of several designated spots if we wanted to take a closer look, and then get back on the next trolley that came around when we were ready to move on. The trolleys came through about every 20 minutes or so, making it really easy to spend just the right amount of time at any given historic spot and not have to wait too long to continue on the tour.

We hopped off a few times and took lots of pictures. These are just a few.

Fountain 1

Public Xylophone

Wrought Iron Wreaths

Church Rotunda

Stained Glass 1

Telfair Hospital

Langston Headstone

Mr. Grumpy
Mr. Grumpy
All that walking around Monday wore us out, so we slept in Tuesday morning, then hit the bricks again, this time completely on foot. I had found the address of a yarn store and I wanted to visit it, because I do my best to shop the LYS wherever I go and buy something local. Spouse grumbled but went along. We shot lots more photographs along the way, including one of him.

Bless his heart.

Book LadyThe yarn store I wanted was out of business (boo), but luckily the custom tailoring shop that shared their space knew of another LYS nearby and gave us directions. And in the basement of the same building as the defunct LYS was a bookstore! Had the LYS been open, this would have been the perfect shopping combo for me! Spouse started counting his lucky stars that this had not been the case.

The book store was wonderful, with books slotted and shelved in all sorts of nooks and crannies and hidey-holes. I found a hardcover edition of George R. R. Martin’s Armageddon Rag that I nearly bought. I talked myself out of buying it because we were headed to the yarn store next, and I didn’t know how much I would end up spending in there. I can get the book from the library; I can’t get yarn there.

I’m regretting that decision. But only a little. Because yarn!

The store is called The Frayed Knot. And it’s lovely. Just look! They have their yarn arranged by color!

Frayed Knot 1Frayed Knot 2

What’s not to love about that, right? This made me very happy, and I told them so. They carry some lovely stuff: Madeline Tosh, Rowan, Blue Sky Alpaca, and a local yarn called Copper Corgi, which is what I bought.

Copper Corgi 2

460 yds of fingering weight 100% superwash merino, in colorway “Devil’s Kiss”. It’s simply gorgeous and needs to become a shawl, a fiery swirl of lace to wear in the dead of winter, perhaps with tiny beads to add sparkle. I will scour the Ravelry pattern database for something suitable. Or — and this thought just occurred to me — maybe even design my own? I’ve never designed a shawl. Just fingerless mitts (which reminds me, I really need to write that pattern up, have it tested, and publish it), and the occasional improvised baby blanket. Hmm. It’s a thought. Dare I say…an inspiration?

So this is Inspiration Saturday, after all. Who knew?

Posted in Finished object, Knitting

FO Friday: I’m a wanderer. Yes, I’m a wanderer. I roam around around around around.

Spouse as model.
Spouse as model.
So, the Wanderer Scarf is finished. Feast your eyes upon the beauty!

The scarf, I mean. Although my husband the model is awfully handsome, too. 🙂

Pattern: Wanderer Scarf by Martin Storey
Yarn: Rowan Soft Tweed (discontinued), colorway Twig, 5 skeins (435 yards)
Needles: Addi Turbo US 11
Finished size: Approximately 6 inches wide and 8 feet long
Satisfaction with end product: I think it’s wonderful. The texture is amazing, and it’s cushiony soft and warm. I hope its intended recipient will like it.

Here are a few other pictures that show the texture in more detail.

If you click the pic, you can see them full size.

Wanderer Scarf 10Wanderer Scarf 7Wanderer Scarf 6

And now, for your amusement, here are pics of spouse being silly with stereotypical catalog model poses.

Wanderer Scarf 3 Wanderer Scarf 4

With goofiness like this in my house on a daily basis, is it any wonder I keep him around?

7cde9-fofridayThis post is part of the FO Friday roundup, hosted by Tami’s Amis. Click that badge over there to see what other folks have finished this week.

Posted in Knitting, Work in progress

WIP Wednesday: Back to the Grind Edition

As should be expected, once the shutdown ended last week and I went back to work, the frequency of blog entries rapidly declined. I’ll work on staying in the groove of WIP Wednesdays and FO Fridays, at least. Well, WIP Wednesdays, for certain, because I can’t guarantee I’ll have a finished project every Friday, but I can always guarantee I’ll have at least one thing in some stage of imcompleteness. (Yes, I know that’s not a word; I’m using it anyway.)

This week’s work in progress is a sock, and it will probably be the WIP for the next several weeks. Because: sock. Where there is one sock, there shall be two.

Donegal sockThe yarn screams “autumn”, doesn’t it? Which is why I wound it into a cake a couple of weeks ago in that late-night fit of madness.

Because of the handpainted colorway, I didn’t want a fussy sock, especially because these are for my husband, and heaven forbid there be any girly-like ornamentation such as cables or bobbles or (the horror!) lace. I originally planned on turning this yarn into the Herringbone Rib Socks. Sunday, I cast on and knitted the ribbed cuff, then started the herringbone pattern. And it was a royal pain to knit. So much so that after two rows of herringbone, I ripped it all out and started over with Ann Budd’s basic sock pattern in a simple k3p1 rib.

100_3367

And it looks pretty darn good, I think. Not that you can actually see the rib in this photo, but that’s the beauty of the k3p1 rib: it’s virtually invisible. Spouse even approves of the non-girlyness of the whole thing. I seldom knit anything for him, mainly because he doesn’t want me to: he doesn’t wear sweaters or scarves or hats or gloves, but by golly, everybody wears socks, so I consider obtaining his consent to make these for him a victory.

ab2a5-tami_wipThis post is part of the WIP Wednesday round-up, hosted by Tami’s Amis. Click the badge over there to see what other folks are working on this week.