Winter Wine & Wool 2012

My first show of 2012 is in the books. The first Winter Wine and Wool at the Sandhill Crane Vineyards was on Saturday and it was a fabulous day! I was a little worried when Sassy and I got in the truck – it was gray and snowy and my heart kind of sank. I thought “everyone will stay home today and we’re driving through this mess and no one will show up”. (For the record, this is always what spins through my head on show day – I turn into Eeyore.)
What happened was so much better than I expected. It was the first time Heather has set up a Winter show. I’ve participated in the last 2 summer shows at the vineyard and they were a lot of fun and quite successful. All of the vendors were inside the big building (I think there were 10 of us) and the colors were amazing!
This is a shot of me and Andrea Morrison of Wonder Why Alpaca Farm. We were back-to-back last summer and had fun. This time we put our chairs right next to each other so we could chat without having to shout across the booths. We could tag-team customers so when I was busy, she would spin and when she was busy, I would spin.This shot was from very early in the day and people were just starting to wander in and look around.
I was a little concerned about putting the table right next to the light – I didn’t want to completely block it out. Turns out the snow threw a lot of reflection and people could see my colors just fine. I got comments about my socks, the sample hat Jillian designed and knit for me, and lots of questions about spinning. Turns out wine drinkers are a very curious group.
Best of all, I hit my goal in sales. I also got some great ideas for displaying my wares at upcoming shows.
Next up, The Winter Fleece Fair in Chelsea on February 18.

Book Review – “Port Mortuary”

Port Mortuary, Patricia Cornwell
originally published: November 2010
finished reading: abandoned in disgust, 18 January 2012
cost: $27.95 (library and boy am I glad I didn’t pay for this!)


It’s official, Kay Scarpetta has jumped the shark. I got to the middle of this roughly 500 page book I realized that we had only traveled about 5 hours in time. Why? Because Scarpetta has to think about the implications of what just happened. Or tell us what it reminds her of. Or take a peek at her internal reaction to it. Or her reaction to the person who did it. Or her reaction to the person who told her about it. It was like following her around after a psychotic break and you’re the only person who doesn’t know she’s lost her mind.

Enough. Enough of the poor, damaged Lucy. Enough of the detente with Benton. Enough of Marino’s rantings. Enough of Fielding’s betrayal.

Fonzie, meet Kay. I hope you’ll be very happy together.

12 Shawls in 2012 – Pie Wedge Shawl

On Ravelry there’s a group called, yes, 12 Shawls in 2012. My friend Katherine pinned a couple of shawls and I got pulled in. I had started a shawl on New Year’s and I figured, “what the heck”? So here’s my first shawl of 2012.

This is the Easy Pie Wedge Shawl. When you bought the Helen’s Lace (multi) from Lorna’s Laces, the pattern was on the ball band. It took about 1200 yards (there’s still some left in the ball).


I started it on 1 January 2012 and finished it on 12 January 2012. It was a fairly easy knit, just garter stitch and yarn overs. I will admit that I had to fudge a couple of times because I ended up with more stitches than I should have had. No one will know and I can’t actually remember where they are. That’s just my caveat that you have to pay attention a little – not a totally mindless knit.

This picture shows the colors a little better than the above shot. The colorway is called Black Watch, and there are some rather dark bits, but it’s mostly green and blue – really lovely.


I wore it to work today, because I could and with our unseasonable warmness, had to take it off about 30 minutes after I walked in the door. 


It’s lightweight, quite soft, and exceedingly warm. I couldn’t be happier with my first shawl of 2012.


Details:


Pattern: Free and Easy Pie Wedge Shawl
Designer: Lorna Misner
Yarn: Helen’s Lace Multi (50% silk/50% wool)
Colorway: 304 Black Watch
Yardage: ~1200 yards
Time to knit: about 2 weeks


Up next: Milkweed Shawl

Project 365

I’ve been reading lately about people who commit to doing something creative for an entire year. It’s an interesting concept and one I’m thinking about trying. There are a couple things holding me back:
  1. What if I attempt it and don’t complete it?
  2. Are there enough different ways to be creative about something?
  3. When it gets hard will I push through or will I give up?
When I’m thinking about something, I read about it. I found a ton of interesting stuff on this concept. First, the guy who created and started calling it Project 365, Noah Scalin. He made a skull every day for a year (some of them are way cool). He’s also written a couple of books and in the promotion of his second book, Unstuck, there are a lot of articles talking about the project. Like this one.
Scalin has 6 ideas about how to come to the project in a way that helps stick to the commitment and not just think about it.
  1. Let go of preciousness
  2. Freedom comes from limitations
  3. Get out of your environement
  4. Get out of your comfort zone
  5. Get things by giving them away
  6. Collaborate

He expands on each of these in the linked article above. Go read it, it will only take a minute or two. (I’d buy the book, but I already took the “no new books” pledge.) He’s been featuring other Project 365’ers on his website and they’re all doing cool things too.


So, back to my initial questions.

  1. Attempt, but can’t complete?
    • So what? I’ve started things over and over and I keep starting them again. Scalin himself said that the Skull Project was his third attempt at a 365.
  2. Different ways to be creative?
    • Seriously? I’ve been stretching myself and trying different things my whole life. I sat here and thought of at least a dozen ways to create my  365 idea.
  3. Push through or give up?
    • Here’s the thing. For me, it’s like working out. If I know that someone’s waiting for me at the gym – I haul myself out of bed and go. If I know someone’s waiting to see me succeed (or fail) or simply to live the project along with me vicariously, that’s incentive enough to show up. Every. Day.
    • Anyone want to be a 365 buddy? We could bounce ideas off each other and shout encouragement through the interwebz.



I like the idea of doing a “thing” every day. It does help me to limit the box, so to speak. So my 2 ideas are either a giraffe or a snowman/woman/person. Any thoughts on which one I should do? Any ideas about materials to use? Any encouragement? Any naysayers? I’d love to hear from one and all. Drop me a comment and tell me what you think.

Allergies*

I’m sure I’ve talked at some point about my allergies, but not recently. Is there anyone in the US who isn’t allergic to something? I don’t think so. Here’s the thing, I’m allergic, but to weird stuff and it’s taken me years to figure it out. 


When the Hub and I came back from our honeymoon (1988), I was sick a lot. I would get up to go to work and feel so crappy that I’d just go back to bed. It took us 2 months to figure out that I was allergic to the flannel sheets we had bought at L.L. Bean – vicious cycle! Over the years, I’ve discovered that I’m also allergic to latex, bananas, and kiwi – they all come from the same kind of plant, so they’re all related and they all cause me to break out in hives.


I went through a really bad patch several years ago where I was tested for auto-immune disease (lupus, Cushings, rheumatoid arthritis) and they came up empty handed. My diagnosis was ultimately “chronic idiopathic urticaria”. Which essentially means that sometimes I have hives and no one can figure out what causes them. I take fexo-fenadine daily and that seems to have pushed them into submission.


Yesterday I was sitting in a meeting and I feel this weird spot on my chin. It was a cross between an itch and a crawling sensation. I touched my chin and felt a pea-sized lump and as soon as I touched it, it exploded in itchiness. I’m sitting across the table from my boss and I can feel my chin and lip start to swell up and itch like nobody’s business, but I can’t go anywhere or do anything about it.


By the time the meeting was over, my lower lip was completely hard to the touch and my chin was hot and bright red. When I got home, my daughter said, “Your mouth looks crooked.” Everything was so swollen that it was pushing my face out of whack. Extra anti-histamines took care of it, but it was still a little swollen this morning.


I try to figure out what causes each episode, because that’s the only way I can avoid the trigger. So, we were talking about it at breakfast and decided that maybe one of the people I shook hands with before the meeting yesterday had eaten a banana. Since I am incapable of not touching my face at any time, I must have transferred the allergen to myself during the course of the meeting. Am I destined to become one of those people who go around not shaking hands and instead have to bow to people?




*You’ll forgive me for not posting a picture. I actually Googled them and started itching just look at the images.

Today, I’m done

I left it all on the course today. I was up at 4:30, out the door by 5:30, in my office by 6:40. It was a non-stop e-mail, telephone, people walking into my office kind of day. Everyone needed something 10 minutes ago and it was REALLY, REALLY IMPORTANT !!eleventy!1!!.


So, now I’m back at home and I’m done. I want to crawl into my bed, turn off the light, fall into the deepest slumber ever, and not wake up until my alarm goes off tomorrow morning. Good night.

Review “Mad Men”

I love this show. The Hub and I started watching over the holiday break (he wasn’t as into it as I was). We sped through seasons 1 and 2 and then he went to Florida to teach some people how to fly. I wanted to make it last and only rent 1 disk at a time. Yesterday I was feeling so crappy that I threw caution to the wind and rented the first 2 disks of season 3. Then I sat and watched them both. (Now I’m kind of sad that I don’t have any to watch tonight.)


Why do I love it? It feels real to me. There are a few shows of which I have been a regular watcher as an adult, perhaps even a rabid watcher (The West Wing, I’ll Fly Away). In the case of West Wing (1999-2006), I loved it because it was how I wanted government to be – peopled with really smart people with the courage of their convictions. They worked and played hard and they argued, but always came back together. I’ll Fly Away (1991-1993) was the story of a family caught up in social upheaval – how they and the people around them reacted. They were confused, angry, and struggled to do the right thing. I never missed an episode of these shows because they transported me to a different place. Mad Men does that for me too.


During the first season, there were times when I had to walk away from the television. The casual demeaning of the secretaries – hell the forceful demeaning of any woman who stepped out of line. It was especially bad when the women did it to each other. I still click my tongue every now and again, but I can put it in the box of “the ’60s” and move on.


Did they drink and smoke that much in the 1960s? I don’t know – but again, it feels real. I do remember my parents had a bar set up in our house. They didn’t think twice about getting hammered at a party and then driving home. My dad would frequently stop at a bar to have drinks with co-workers after work and we lived in the midwest. I can imagine this is fairly true of a place like New York City. 


Everyone I knew had ashtrays all around the house. We had a couple that were actually free-standing and quite decorative. My dad even had a hookah. I remember people smoking in grocery stores and doctors offices. Hub and I decided that if we wanted to get completely lit, all we’d have to do is take a drink every time someone lit a cigarette. It would take 2 episodes, max, before I’d have to go lie down.


The bad marriages, the sleeping around, the closeted gays, the career “girls” who only worked until they got married – it all feels real. The added bonus is the visual impact of the show. The clothing, the furniture, the cars – those are the colors and styles I remember from my childhood.


I watch because the characters are intelligent people who don’t always know what they want, but keep moving forward. They struggle against the social mores and the narrow roles forced on them and it makes me want to assure them that things get better. It also makes me realize how far we actually have come and lets me hope that 40 years into the future there will be a television program that shows this time period and maybe it will make some sense.

Teeth

Last Thursday I went to the dentist, a place I’ve been to much too often in the last several months. I’m a grinder – not only at night when sleeping, but during the day, when annoyed. So I had a toothache and called the dentist. It’s a tooth that’s been hurting on a minor scale for a couple of weeks, but it has a really deep filling and I knew that at some point I would need a root canal and a crown.

She numbed my mouth and we chatted. Then she started the drill and I saw white sparks and thought I was going to come out of the chair. She put more numbing in and we chatted. The drill started and the pain was just as bad. She put MORE numbing in and went in really, really deep (it brought tears to my eyes). Then she went away for 20 minutes or so.


When she came back and started drilling again, the pain was right there. She decided I had a “hot tooth” (abscess) and gave me a prescription for antibiotics. I walked out in very little pain but half my head was numb. When the Novocaine wore off, it hurt – a lot.


So I’ve been taking antibiotics since Thursday afternoon and here it is Monday. The problem is, my jaw still hurts. I suspect that I actually have 2 teeth that are bad (right next to each other) and it’s the other tooth that’s hurting so much, but I can’t tell the difference because they’re too close.


I am not looking forward to this dentist visit. Either way, I’ll be numb and in pain when I leave. It’s making my head hurt just thinking about it.




Edited to add:
Only 1 root canal was necessary {jazz hands}! However, the pocket of infection was still so big that it blocked the novocaine and I spent a good 3 minutes digging my fingernails into the armrests of the chair while she drilled. As soon as the dentist broke through the filling, she was shooting novocaine directly onto the root of the tooth. Then she let me sit up for a few minutes to breath and relax. Now all that’s left is the grinding and the crown.

Book Review: “Death Comes to Pemberley”

Death Comes to Pemberley, P.D. James
originally published: December 2011
finished reading: 7 January 2012
cost: $25.95 (borrowed from friend)

P.D. James loves Austen. I’ve read a lot of fan-fiction and they all seem to love the characters, but James has an affinity for Austen herself that many of the other authors lack. This book feels closer to Jane Austen’s own style of writing than any other I’ve read (lots of description, very little dialogue). James has preserved the feel of the story while still taking it in a new direction. I will admit to being a bit of a purist and don’t like the jarring feeling when beloved characters do something I feel is out of character (one fan-fic book had Elizabeth calling Darcy “Fitzie”; even now it leaves a bad taste in my mouth).

The story itself isn’t much of a mystery. Yes there is a murder (you expected one) and of course there are intrigues, drunken routs, and daughters being meddled with. James deals with them all in the Edwardian style – gently. I appreciate that she delves a little more deeply into the interior lives of the characters. There are explanations of their actions in the characters’ own words – passages where both Elizabeth and Darcy think about their past behavior and how they feel about it now (shame, embarrassment, etc.). Austen herself never goes into these details (it would be unseemly), but James hits them on the head, explaining things to her 21st century audience that would have been clear to Austen’s audience.

There are also surprise appearances from other Austen characters (the Elliots of Persuasion and the Knightleys of Emma). These interludes diverted me excessively.

I sped through this lovely mash note in a day and wished it was just a little longer. I am intrigued and will search out other P.D. James novels and I’m hopeful they are as good as this one. I’m also left hoping that she turns her eye back to Austen and writes another sequel.

Book Review: “Pirate King”

Pirate King: A Novel of Suspense Featuring Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes, Laurie R. King
originally published: December 2011
finished: 6 January 2012
cost*: $25.05 – borrowed from a friend


I will admit to being something of an Anglophile. I do love the British and their unique way of seeing things. Except…I emphatically do not love Gilbert and Sullivan. Never understood the attraction, don’t understand what people see the plays/operettas. I suspect the mashup of all that singing and all that duty are just too much for me. That said, the first half of this book focuses on The Pirates of Penzance. This is a book about making a movie about the making of a play within a play. Confused? Me too. 


There are too many people for me to keep track of: fourteen daughters of the Pirate King, thirteen pirates to match up with them, a translator who has multiple, poetical personalities, mothers, chaperones, and an anarchist parrot. There’s also a weird subplot where Mary Russell is trying to outguess Mycroft Holmes and goes from one extreme to the other trying to figure out what he wants her to do so she can do the opposite…which is exactly what he wants her to do. Confused? Me too.


By the second half of the book (which is, incidentally, when Holmes finally shows up) I understood enough to be able to figure out which characters are who. The tone of the book changes and becomes more of a mystery rather than a catalogue of Russell’s daily activities.


I love Mary Russell and will read these books until Laurie R. King stops writing them. It is not my favorite, but I suspect my feelings toward it might mellow with time and distance from G&S.




*I have taken the free book challenge this year. I will be reading from my personal library, borrowing from the actual library (or libraries of friends), reading free ebooks (classics), or using up gift cards. My goal is 65 books this year. (Last year I read 67.)