Saturday, January 27, 2007

Early Spring Fever

I must have the January blahs. I'm dreaming (and reading, and fantasizing) about cycling, camping, hiking, and all other manner of outdoor fun. I've been scouring the Internet for a local resource for the bicycle of my dreams: the 2006 De Rosa Dual . The picture I linked to is in the orange and black, but it also come is a beautiful silver and black which would be my preference. I had the (mis)fortune to test ride one in Wichita Falls last year at the Hotter 'N Hell 100 where De Rosa was a sponsor. It is gorgeous, light as a feather, and seems to be powered by the simple effortless thought of forward motion. I must admit, however, that my cycling ability in no way requires a machine of this calibre. Maybe when my abilities outgrow "Big Blue", although that seems unlikely to happen! The difference between my cycling abilities and a $5,000 bicycle may be an unbridgeable gap.

My yearly physical revealed that my cholesterol did not come down as much as I had hoped since last year, and my spine is not as "boney" as it should be (although I have lots of bone mass everywhere else). Rather depressing, all in all, as it means I now have to take old people's medicine. It's very aggravating to be faced with the undeniable fact that I am more than halfway through my 50's. Still, if I can treat everything I've got with medication and proceed to have fun I can't complain. Or rather, I CAN complain, but shouldn't. Shana's quit smoking, so in an effort to shake up her habits and make it easier to stay away from the ciggies we'll be going to the gym on weekends. Her dad is also joining the same gym this weekend. I think that maybe during the week I'll supplement my yoga class with three days of weight training with him. John is unlikely to stick with the exercise thing if he has to do it alone, and I'll be more likely to get there if I am meeting someone, so that will do both of us good. Cycling will not help my bones, so I really need to add a little weight training to my routine to cover that. Yoga will keep my flexibility, and does build strength, but the weights will do more for the bone density, especially upper body. Also maybe I can get the "arms of death" instead of developing granny wings.

I've been working on the Kimono Shawl every night this week. It's rather slow going, but deserves a progress shot, I think. the last progress shot was just barely past the second pattern repeat. I'm guessing that it is about 1/6 completed now. Like all lace, it looks like an old rag on the needles, but stretched out the pattern is quite nice, even before blocking. I'm hoping to have it completed before next fall, which I think may be a reasonable goal, even at the slow pace it is going at now. I have the Peacock Feathers pattern and some nice teal merino from my visit to Showers of Flowers last year and some grey lace weight alpaca from Knitpicks which is slated to become an Icarus Shawl. Looks like I will be shawl knitting from my stash this year, as it seems there is a full year's worth of projects there.

I have moved the Parting Ways socks to my lunchtime knitting, so there is progress happening there too, albeit rather slow. One nice thing about bringing this one to the office is that at lunch time there is sun in my office, and the colors show up really well. That makes it so much more pleasant to work on that I find myself sitting so that the sun strikes the sock as I work on it. It just glows in the sunlight. Too bad I can't walk on my hands - that would greatly increase their beauty when I am wearing the socks. I've started the second sock and about 1/3 of the leg is done now. There is a plain stockinette sock on the needles at the heel flap stage too, but no picture of that one yet.
I'm making the leap into sweater knitting, with the Phoebe Sweater from Knitpicks. It looks manageable for my skill level, and since I am making it in Wool of the Andes, it won't be an expensive mistake if I can't make a good fist of it. I'm waiting impatiently for my yarn to come so I can swatch it up and get started.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Cabin Fever

It's another wintry weekend. We were forecast up to eight inches of snow but again we were lucky and got only about one more inch (plus an inch of sleet, of course). Temperatures were just a little too warm, so we got quite a bit of rain instead, then the sleet, then the snow. I don't think it will have improved the roads much, but at least they won't be any worse.

Andrew emailed me with a request for some wristwarmers - how could I refuse? He asked for black - the color I swore after Alex's afghan that I would never use again. Of course I made them in black. When I went out to get the wool I went to Hobby Lobby and they only had black in 100% wool (a no-go for a teenager) and bulky Woolease. With the icy roads and my schedule last week I did not want to try driving around to find something more suitable, so I thought I'd give Fetching a whirl in that weight. Three tries later I had found a combination of needles and repeats that I thought might work and made them up. Before casting on for the second or putting in the thumbs I cornered a young man in the office to try it on to see if it would work. For the curious, I went with 35 stitches instead of 45. For the center ribbed section I went with 13 rows instead of 18, and to set up the thumb I went with 6 stitches instead of seven. I went with #6 dpns, although for the others I have made #5's worked out better for me. I think they will work for him, although they are pretty dense. If I ever make another pair in this size and weight I might go for a different pattern. Anyway, they are in the mail already, so he will have to judge for himself.

I finished another pair of socks yesterday. This is a pair of Magic Stripe from a marked down skein I got a couple of years ago. Magic Stripe is not the most stylish and gorgeous, but it's cute and wears like iron, and this pair only cost me $3.00 - a bargain, I'd say. I have already cast on and started a pair of basic stockinette socks to work on while watching movies this weekend. I have a couple of nice projects to work on, but since Rita is here talking nineteen to the dozen and we are watching movies a simple pair is what's happening now! So far we've watched Little Miss Sunshine (eh) and Pirates of the Caribbean - Dead Man's Chest (entertaining, but eh), six inches of sock leg. Still to go: DaVinci Code. Tomorrow I cast on the for second Parting Ways sock, and pick up the Kimono Shawl again.

I'm struggling a bit with 365 Photos - my year may end up more like 232 Photos. I am pressing on, with an idea of taking pictures mainly of the most ordinary aspects of my life. I'll be uploading them to my Flickr Gallery, if you want to see them. My theory is that later, much later, this is what I will want to see. This is a snap of my African Violets. They live on my sunny windowsill in the summer, and the shady one in the winter. The ugly one in front is the first (and only) one I purchased. The others were all started from cuttings off the original. They do bloom quite well for me, although at the moment only the last one is blooming, and only a few blooms. They have proven to be surprisingly simple to take care of. Like most plants, if they are happy where they are they will not require much care. They prefer a bit of benign neglect and a porous pot.
My camera has mysteriously lost it's identity and is showing up as a flash drive when I try to upload pictures. It's OK for the moment, although unsettling and annoying. I'm hoping to get the issue settled pretty quickly though, because some aspects are better if it is correctly identified, such as deleting the pictures from the camera. You CAN do it from the camera, but the readout on the camera's screen is so small I have to have good light and reading glasses.
The most fun lately has been planning activities for later in the year. Shana and I have decided to drive to Florida, combing a road trip with our beach vacation. It should be fun, and save us a ton of bucks. We'll stop in Arkansas to visit Shana's cousin, and see Graceland. I'm weighing driving to Denver this spring instead of flying. I had to have some brake work done on my car, so I'd like to save a little on that trip, too. If I spend less on transportation I could spend a bit yarn shopping at Showers of Flowers. If I drive I could also take Roxy with me, which would be a load of fun. I could also take a bicycle. I'm dreaming of cycling & have not been out geocaching since the weather has been so bad. I've hardly even been out walking with Roxy - I'm getting cabin fever!

Saturday, January 13, 2007

It's About Time

You'd think I had no Internet access last week, because I did not post at all. You'd be wrong, though. I have been surfing around, but didn't feel like writing up anything myself. I have been busy, though.

In crafty goodness, I have finally (!) knit myself a hat. Jennifer sent me some nice heathered green Cascade 220 for Christmas last year, and a nice book of hat patterns. I never did get around to knitting one up for myself. I promised myself that as soon as the holiday knitting was done I would be making myself a hat. Last week the weather forecast pointed to some cold weather coming, so that put me on deadline to have something for my cold head that was presentable in daylight. I'd been wearing one of Samantha's old hats, covered with pills and lint and very unflattering, but warm, and adequate for walking the dog (in the dark). By chance I ran across "Le Slouch" in Wendy Bernard's free patterns. It's cute enough that I was not but off by the idea of knitting up the whole thing in seed stitch. I may make another in stockinette with whatever scraps I have about the place. I was a three-nighter, helped along by an assortment of junky TV goodness, including a back-to-back showing of The Stand miniseries last weekend - about 6 hours of junk TV in a row, plus Volcano, a made for TV movie which features the very odd pairing of Anne Heche and Tommy Lee Jones fighting a volcano under Los Angeles.

Our bad weather is here in the form of what was forecast to be a terrible ice storm with power outages combined with frigid temperatures for the next week. So far we have received a couple of inches of sleet on top of some light freezing rain. The roads are awful, but we still have power. Apparently the first round of ice passed over us and has Eastern Oklahoma under ice with no electricity. The next wave is coming now, and we are crossing our fingers and wishing for more sleet. There should be another wave of ice tomorrow. Like everyone in the city, we have stocked up on everything we need for the weekend, so if we keep power we'll just have a nice weekend indoors. We've already been out for our fun drive on the ice before the traffic got out today. I was driving, although it's Shana who likes to drive around on snow.

The reason I was in the driver's seat is that Shana is now wearing unsuitable footwear for good driving. An ill advised encounter with a piece of furniture in the dark led to a broken foot. She was rushing downstairs so as not to miss a moment of the Ohio State Miami bowl game and fell over a foot stool. I need hardly add that the game was not worth that kind of pain. That may only be from my perspective as I think she may actually have been cheering for Miami. I was disgusted. Anyway she woke up the next day preparing to go to a funeral and found that she could not walk. Off to the doctor she went, and came to the funeral hobbling along in the special boot.

Lest you think that it's not all socks all the time here chez Cinderellen, I have completed a pair of socks and most of another one for myself, and later today I will be working on the Wildefoote socks. I'm hoping to finish the first Wildefoot sock and get the second started before the weekend is over. One thing standing my my way is the mitt issue. After making a pair of mitts for every living being on the earth but myself I prepared to start on a pair for me. It seems I had lost track of my #5 dpns. After an intense search I decided to make them up with the #6 dpns that the pattern actually calls for. I finished them, but they are too large and I'm not happy with how they fit. Shana can use them, so after a quick trip to Hobby Lobby during our ice driving festival for some replacement #5's I'll start over.

Last weekend Shana participated in a chili cook off at the church and won a second place trophy. It was a lot of fun and the fact the one of our friends was stuffing the ballot box did not in any way decrease Shana's pleasure in winning.

Jennifer went to her back doctor this week and has been given permission the remove the giant back brace she's been in since the first week of November and do anything she wants as long as it doesn't hurt. The fact that she will not need surgery is such a relief . Now all that's left is the get her insurance to pay up. Her health insurance will not pay until the horse owner's insurance pays, and the horse owner's insurance will not begin to pay until the owner starts a claim. All will be resolved in time, but it's so exasperating and the bills are, of course, very big.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Welcome 2007

The New Year is here, with the resolutions. I have several, as it happens. For the goals: to ride 100 mile for Hotter 'N Hell, take 365 pictures, reach my goal weight, maintain a journal, add a 15 minute clean sweep to the house every day, and approach all things with compassion. To be avoided in 2007: whining, mindless eating, and gossip.

I have also picked up a new hobby: Geocaching. After going out with the girls yesterday I can see that this is a perfect addition to our camping, hiking, cycling and other outdoor activities. In fact, I had a little Christmas money left (thanks Mom) and a few dollars left from my Christmas festivities budget which magically transformed into a sparkly new GPS receiver! Of course this means I'll be knitting from my stash now instead of going yarn shopping. Shana is wondering what part of my brain is going to turn to mush and fall off, since every time I get a new electronic device I get stupid. I may get stupid, but I'll know my co-ordinates.