Friday, February 24, 2006

Focus Issues

I have a lot to look forward to this weekend.

I've borrowed a movie from a friend that I've wanted to see for a long time (Love Actually), I have tickets to see "Wicked" tomorrow afternoon with dinner plans afterwards, and Sunday is a knitting get together. I'm also looking forward to sleeping in, because we got home past our bedtime last night (a 3+ hour dinner will do that).

I'm ready for it to be 5pm so I can get home and get my weekend started.

But I am still enjoying learning the 3D modeling software. It is frustrating at times, but when I figure stuff out it looks really cool. I'm hopefully that I can find some exhilaration in it today to help the day move by quicker.

I apparently forgot to turn off my iPod the last time I finished using it, and it ran the battery down before shutting off by itself. :-( So listening to "Wicked" is not a possible way to make the day go quicker.

Knitting - I've been forcing myself to stay focused on the orange cabled vest. Even though I'm getting a little bored with it, I'm telling myself to keep working on it in the spirit of the Knitting Olympics. I'm only about 40 rows from the front armholes, at which point the decreases will provide some interest and make each row go faster. And this week has been a week of wearing new clothes, so hopefully I can finish the vest about the time that the novelty of the new purchased clothes wears off...

Thursday, February 23, 2006


I've seen this in a couple of places lately, and thought it would make for an easy Thursday post. I'll try to include some things that aren't obvious where possible. :-)

Four jobs you have had in your life:
1. Blockbuster Music Customer Service Representative
2. Babysitter
3. CMU tourguide (Office of Admission)
4. Alumni House job calling CMU alums to ask for money

Four movies you would watch over and over:
1. Soapdish
2. Pleasantville
3. Ever After
4. Back to the Future
(I could come up with many more for this one...)

Four places you have lived:
1. Pittsburgh, PA
2. Dayton, OH
3. Buffalo, NY
4. Valencia, Spain

Four TV shows you love to watch:
1. CSI: Crime Scene Investigation
2. Family Ties
3. The West Wing
4. What Not to Wear

Four places you have been on vacation:
1. St. Lucia
2. Playa Del Carmen, Mexico
3. Wilmington, N.C.
4. Grand Cayman

Four websites I visit daily:

Four of my favorite foods:
1. shrimp
2. Sushi
3. pasta
4. mushrooms

Four places I would rather be right now:
1. home with the kitties and R
2. on a beach
3. anywhere knitting
4. visiting friends who don't live in Pittsburgh

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Not much to say

I realize that it's been a week since I've posted....but I don't know that ya'll are missing out on any information.

Thursday night we had a community meeting. It seemed like lots of people had lots to say. The organization itself isn't doing a whole lot at the moment, but there is a lot going on politically and in the schools. I'm hopeful that someone will run against our local state rep - he's too entrenched in the state political machine. He voted for the 2am pay raise, he took the raise and he's against reducing the size of the legislature.

Friday night we talked about going to a movie, but our only option was 9:40, and that just seemed too late.

Saturday was spent with a knitting friend. We went to two yarn shops - one I had been to before and where I had a gift certificate to spend and another that has been open for 6 months but this was my first visit. They're both really nice, but the new one is *huge*. They have a great selection and a lot of room to spread it out in. I bought some bamboo yarn for socks - we will see whether this is a good sock fiber - at the new shop. At the other I bought two books, both having fair isle patterns and directions, which is one of the next skills I want to learn. The new shop is supposed to have a class in fair isle sometime in march.

Sunday I got out my cello to see if I can handle the cello gig I was offered. Not surprisingly, I'm very rusty. I know that I *can* do it, it is just a question of how much time I really want to spend practicing in the next month. A knitting friend has a husband who is a cellist. I've passed the offer along to him as a way of avoiding actually making the decision myself.

Otherwise, I've just been trying to take care of things that have been sitting around in "to do" piles for much too long. I finally mailed some christmas pictures this week and am updating our address spreadsheet so that I can throw envelopes from christmas cards away.

I've started the front of the orange cabled vest (that I'm sure you're all tired of hearing about) and I'm a few rows from finishing cuff #1 of the gray alpaca socks.

Oh, and at work I'm learning some 3D modeling software. I think the software is pretty good, it's just been a long time since I've learned a program from scratch and it is a little frustrating at times. But I know it is good experience.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006


In case any non-knitters thought I was crazy when they read my Monday morning post, there really is an organized Knitting Olympics. And there are 4048 knitters participating. (There are only 2500 athletes in Turino, although the knit-letes don't have to qualify to participate).

There was even a brief mention of it in TIME magazine...although the article calls it crochet in the opening paragraph and refers to the knitters as "couch potatoes", so the article didn't really induce any pride or do anything for the general impression of knitters. (In my world, a couch potato does not do anything other than eat while being lump-like and watching TV. A knitter burns more calories, not many but more, and is using more cognitive function to do two things at once.),9171,1158953,00.html

Successful Dinner

In skillet, heat up olive oil and pine nuts with medium-high heat. When pine nuts begin to brown, add chicken and season with celery salt, pepper and basil. (add additional olive oil if necessary) After 5 minutes (or until chicken is approximately half cooked), turn and season second side. After just a few minutes add canned stewed tomatoes (or fresh) and several layers of baby spinach. Cover and cook to wilt spinach, warm tomatoes and finish cooking chicken. At end cover with parmesan cheese and let simmer until it is melted. Serve with rice.

Not bad for making it up as I go...

Monday, February 13, 2006

Playa del Carmen

My plans for a weekend blog post about our trip didn't happen. Quite frankly I didn't want to do much of anything that I should/could have been doing this weekend. R and I are lucky I found the motivation to do some laundry and that he found some for emptying the dishwasher.

I suggest you check Spargelkohl's blog for photo links and his descriptions of what we did. I will just add a few thoughts.

To give R credit, I didn't know that we were flying to Cancun until the Black & Gold festooned United employee checked us in and wished me an early happy birthday. The rest of the details were a well-kept secret until we were sitting at the gate, and even then, knowing very little about Mexico, I didn't know what to expect until we arrived.

The fact that I knew we were going to Mexico did allow for some Spanish practice during the week and it meant that I brought my mini-dictionary - which was pretty helpful for words I couldn't remember. In most cases I found that words popped right into my head or they just wouldn't come at all. Having the dictionary to refresh my memory was fun, and overall I was pretty happy with my ability to remember the Spanish I used to know. My response time to Spanish questions was pretty slow...but better than when I first arrived in Spain in 1998, so I haven't totally regressed. :-) Must find a way to practice from time to time...

The main "excitement" on the flight was when I nearly lost a double pointed needle. Which, if I had 5 wouldn't have been a big deal. But I already broke one, so only having three would have made it impossible to work on my socks and I had only brought one non-sock project on the trip with me. Being in the last row made it tricky to retrieve since I dropped it during takeoff...but the guy in the aisle seat didn't look at me like I was too crazy for almost getting my arm stuck between the seats and even volunteered to try to reach it for me. Success! (Let's not think of this trip without the ability to knit...I might have experimented with toothpick knitting...)

On Day two, we saw a bit of the shopping opportunities in Playa del Carmen. We heard a few other people talk excitedly about what was available, but I didn't see anything that made me wish we had made time to shop. (Being my birthday weekend, I had the power to set the schedule, so I could have requested shopping if I wanted...) Not sure if my "shopping gene" wasn't paying attention or if we just didn't hit the right part of town. Of course, if it would have been my bag that stayed in DC, we would have gone shopping as soon as we arrived at the resort!

On Sunday, be sure to take note of my "Hombres de Acero" t-shirt. It's the first time I've gotten to wear in a Spanish-speaking place. And so timely, too. :-)

Getting up to try to see the sunrise on my birthday probably marks the earliest I've ever gotten up on my birthday...I think.

Lastly, I'll add that when we returned home it was not only cold but it was also snowing! Talk about a harsh plunge back into reality... Oh, and Dulles stinks. Will be avoided in the future.

unofficially knitting in the Olympics?

So part of the reason that I wasn't participating in the Olympics was because I didn't have a project I was psyched about to start on Friday...

When I got home from work, I compared the ill-fitting orange cabled vest to an existing sweater that fits well, but a little loosely. After a variety of rearrangements and consideration of strategies, I frogged it. I restarted in the next bigger size, added a few alternate cables in three of the central columns, I made the "regular" cables a little taller *and* I decided to alternate the cable length as called for in the original pattern. I'm using a heavy DK weight instead of a worsted, and it was just making cables that were too thick, so instead of cabling every 8 rows, I'm cabling every 10 and 12 rows. The fabric is lying flatter, but it will still have some stretch to accentuate my curves. :-)

As of the end of the bus ride this morning, I have 11" of the back knit. Part of me thinks I should count this as Olympic knitting since I started on Friday, and the other part of me thinks that with two more weekends until the Olympics are over, this is much too easy for an Olympic challenge.

And then I start to think of a real challenge...and I think about trying to finish everything I have on the needles before the flame goes out. (Advantage - I have a knitting GTG on the afternoon of the 26th - so there's a good 4 hours I'll get on the last day...) But then I think it's crazy and wonder if I really want to spend that much time knitting over the next couple of weeks when there are plenty of things I want to do around the house.

Maybe I'll just make it my goal to not start anything new before the 26th and try to finish what I can. Can you tell I'm being wishy-washy about this whole Knitting Olympics thing? I'm not really sure why. It could be that I'm really enjoying a period of my life with no outside-of-work deadlines.

On the needles:
- Orange Cabled Vest (11" of back done)
- Pink Vogue Pullover (back done, in the midst of armholes on front)
- Grey Alpaca socks (1 cuff 75% done)
- Lavender Baby Cardigan (2 sleeves done, 3" of back done)

Not bad, but a lot for 14 days...especially if I want to have a life. ;-)

I finished the rust colored socks. They are a little long, but I'm very pleased with them. The cabling is just what I wanted and they are comfy (not scratchy at all). They are not super warm, but that just means that they aren't the socks to put on when it's below 40 outside.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Unusual Offer

I just got a call with an offer of a cello gig. You read that right, a cello gig.

It's for a high school musical, so the pressure isn't high. I'm sure that I'm *really* rusty. But I have so few opportunities to play with an orchestra anymore (read: none), that it seems like a shame to pass it up.

I'm actually a little impressed that my friend remembered that I play the cello, since I don't think he's ever heard me play...

Back in town

I'm greatly relieved that there is not much on the calendar this weekend. I have two suitcases to unpack (from my two different trips), a number of phone calls and emails to return from the lovely people who wished me a wonderful birthday. And I have a pile of mail to go through. Not to mention the need for some sleep and straightening up in various parts of the house, and I'm sure there will be laundry. I'm very glad that I got us caught up on dishes before we left.

I'm not complaining. I don't feel the need for a ton of relaxation because we certainly got a lot of that in Mexico. But wednesday was a 14 hour workday and thursday was nearly 10, and only having one workday at the office during the week is a bit unmotivating. It feels like the week should already be over and it isn't 2pm yet. (And in the disrupted state of my "things", I forgot my iPod there is really no way to make the day feel like it will go any faster.

And I've decided that I'm not participating in the knitting olympics. With the travel of late, I haven't had time to "train" (swatch, adjust a pattern, etc.) and I'm really into socks at the moment and don't want to stop them for a sweater. I thought about trying to knit 3 pairs of socks in the 16 days, but then realized that I'm just really not into the pressure at the moment. I'm in a nice post-vacation mood and I have nothing else putting pressure on me this weekend or next week...and I don't want to impart any deadlines right now. But I do think it's an awesome concept and I will take my own oath that every time I sit down to watch the olympics for the next 16 days, I will knit in support of those in the knitting olympics. :-)

While we're on the subject, a knitting update.
- Before we left for Mexico, I pinned up the pink pullover in progress and it seems like it will fit well. I haven't finished the front yet, but what I have done seems to fit as desired. I will do a full pinning of the sides when I finish the front to make sure I'm not kidding myself.
- the orange cabled vest is too small. :-( Not only do I think it will be too tight around my tummy, but I was also brain-damaged enough to start the armhole shaping several inches before I should have. (I think I was being impatient at the time). So the whole thing it too short. I *had* the back done and I was nearing the armhole shaping on the front. The difficulty of the sizing is that to keep things symmetric, it can be made bigger by adding 4 cable columns, which I think will be too many. So I am hoping that I can just frog the back to the armholes and frog the front and add 2 cable columns to that on the next attempt. This would save about 1/3 (or more) of the knitting I've already done and still hopefully keep it from being too big.
Of course, two cable columns might not be enough and I might have to frog it all. So I didn't start this process before vacation the thought of it made me pretty mad at myself. I think I have calmed now.
- I finished the rust colored socks yesterday on the return trip from Bradford. I got a lot of work done on them in Mexico. I'm really happy with the cable pattern I made up. The foot is a little long, but one less repeat might have made them too short, so I'm not overly concerned. I do hope the yarn softens a little with washing.
- I started a pink, lacy shawl in Mexico. It's a diamond mesh pattern and my first lace with lace weight yarn. I had to start three times, but as long as I totally pay attention (no looking away during the purl rows) it isn't too hard.
- I started a pair of gray, alpaca socks on the return trip from Bradford when I finished the rust ones. The pattern is "River Rapid Socks" from sockbug. I plan to employ the same technique I used for the rust socks - when I finish the cuff of #1, I'll knit the cuff of #2, etc. No second sock syndrome here!
- I haven't worked on the baby cardigan at all this week.

I *plan* to write about Mexico this weekend. ;-)

Friday, February 03, 2006

Last thoughts (4 days)

There is a part of my that is a little happy that we won't be in
Pittsburgh during the Superbowl *and* that we won't be around for the
two days after. Now, certainly, we could be missing out on some fun
times and a general euphoria in the city (assuming that the Steelers
will win). But things have gotten so crazy that I really don't want to
see first hand how the city is going to react either way. I don't think
anything dangerous will happen...I'm just tired of the hype and seeing
black and gold everywhere.

Don't get me wrong, if we can watch the game I will be rooting for the
Steelers. I'm just glad I won't have to spend my birthday listening to
a rehash of the game. :-)

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

5 days - cute kitty

I know, I know. I'm sure that those of you who aren't cat people are tired of "cute kitty" stories. But it's my blog, so that's too bad isn't it. ;-)

Stewart tried to wake me at 4:45 and 5:45 this morning. (This is only cute because I can quickly fall back to sleep.) After his second attempt failed, he curled up in the crook of my arm. Aaaawwww. The only difficulty this morning was that he curled up on the outside arm instead of the inside arm. So when my alarm went off it took a bit of maneuvering to get to it, because he was between me and the alarm clock *and* because he was weighing down the edge of the bedclothes. And even then, I practically trapped him while I was doing it. I could only reach the snooze button, and when I laid back down for a few more minutes he curled up again. Aaaawwww. I tried to rouse him two minutes before the alarm went off again, but he just kept purring and staring at me with big "why do you want to move?" eyes. I had to pick him up and move him when the alarm went off again. So then he sat on my pillow, happily accepting attention until I reluctantly left to start my day.

It is a little frustrating to have to maneuver a 13 lb cat to get up, but since a purring cat is one of the best ways to wake up that I've ever found, I can deal. :-)

(Disclaimer - our other two cats are adorable and loveable, and just a few days ago all three curled up with us when we went to bed (totally adorable) and all three were back by the time we woke up (cute and warm). But, since we lost The Destroyer, Stewart is the only one to provide affection and wake-up assistance without simultaneously demanding food and/or water. They each have their own great traits, though. Nora is most likely to curl up on my lap and is usually first to greet me when I get home. And Effie is most likely to act like a teddy bear or sleep under the covers.)