Monday, June 29, 2009

It's Done!

Just a quick update for those of you who have been following the story of the never-ending real estate closing :-D Things went very smoothly this morning, and I'm happy to report that I no longer own my mom's first little condo. The buyer seems very nice and I think he will be very happy there. He got a GREAT deal. I mean it.

There are a lot of good memories there for me - and I was a little more emotional than I anticipated. I often think of my mom at that location and at her old duplex, which was sold shortly after she passed away. I guess that's why I was a little more emotional - I thought I would just feel a great sense of relief, but there was some sadness, too. Still, it's all good - and there are a lot of happy memories there so the new guy gets a place with good energy. :-)

Things got off to a late start, but everything went very smoothly, and I signed document after document - it's really almost anticlimactic - all the waiting and fussing and running around and going crazy, and then you sign your name a bazillion times, hand over the keys, and it's done.

It's done.

I celebrated by having a rather large cookie. Maybe not the best choice, but it was pretty tasty, nonetheless :-)

Saturday, June 27, 2009

What's Goin' On?

I have Marvin Gaye in my head, singing that song for some reason.

It's Saturday, and the Church Ladies are coming over to knit this afternoon. I've already gone to Pearson's Bakery to get some cookies (OMG they are the best bakery in the entire Southland), and to the Jewel to grocery shop. It's going to be a busy weekend. Tomorrow, C and her sister and niece are coming to spend a couple nights with me - there will be grilling. And Calico Beans. Yum!!!

There is happy news all the way around, and quite frankly, I was due for some. :-) I got a great review at work yesterday, and my job continues to grow and change and become more challenging and interesting. I really am the luckiest woman in the world. I'm not kidding!

Oh - and We. Have. A. Closing. Monday - 10 a.m. I'm so very grateful and I know that everything is going to fall into place with that.

Here is the baby afghan I have mentioned a few times.

In February, I wrote:

. . . I'm working steadily on the baby afghan I promised to finish for a friend of my cousin's. I don't normally take on projects from someone else, but there is a story here - the friend's mom made baby afghans for each of her daughters as they had children. The youngest daughter hadn't had any children when the mom was diagnosed with cancer. I guess the mom knew that her prognosis was not good, so she started on an afghan for this daughter, even though she didn't have any children yet. The mom passed away, and the daughter eventually had a baby girl - and asked my cousin if she knew anyone who might be able to finish the afghan that the mom had started. That's where I came in.

I did my best to capture the mom's gauge, and the afghan is a simple ripple. I wasn't able to duplicate her exact stitch pattern, but I'm close enough (I think) that only I and a crochet expert could tell. It is crochet, so it goes a lot faster than knitting - thankfully. I've been working on it first each time I sit down to knit to get a little more done each time. I've had it since last fall, and they weren't in too much of a hurry - still, they've waited long enough, so I'm working on it as I go with all the the other projects. I tried taking it on the train the other day, but it's getting to be too bulky and large for train knitting, so it's relegated to comfy chair knitting at home.

It took me quite a bit longer to finish than I anticipated. I guess I forgot why I don't crochet as often as I knit - it was not fast at all, really. . . and you can see where my stitches started (the yellow at the bottom is the mom's (she got about three color bands in), and mine are the ones with the loops at the peaks of the ripples), but I thought it might be nice that the daughter could actually see which stitches were her mom's :-)

It left here on Thursday, and I hope that the daughter likes it.

Summer's finally here in Chicagoland - I know this not because it was 92 degrees at least one day this week, but because Taste of Chicago started yesterday. :-D

In other wacky news of the week - I got a notice from the village because my grass is too long. Well - thank you. Tell me something I don't know. :-S I canceled my old lawn service because they weren't doing a good job and I had to have a trench dug in the yard for some electrical work. Well, one thing led to another, and I was trying to patch the grass, and fill in the trench, and waiting for it to rain (which it did - for two weeks), and then the new lawn guys were supposed to come last Saturday.

There was a language barrier, and they didn't come, and of course then I got the friendly reminder notice, with two days to correct it.


I don't even own a lawn mower - I have asthma was told in no uncertain terms that I'm not supposed to be doing any yard work like mowing the lawn. So. I don't. Mow the lawn. I don't even really do any outside gardening any longer, and I used to be pretty good at it (thanks to my my mom, who was a champion gardener).

But the village was quite nice about it and gave me until today.

So, the Church Ladies are coming over to knit, and I actually got the house pretty much straightened out, and they'll have cookies from Pearson's, so I don't think anyone's going to be unhappy - but my lawn looks horrid and the lawn guys are scheduled to arrive about an hour AFTER the Church Ladies. So it goes. If by some bad chance they do not arrive, I'm going to have to borrow a lawn mower and put a mask on and hope for the best :-D

And finally - I've made the decision to frog the brown boatneck sweater that has been languishing for two years now. It's now too big for me (Wahoo!!), and so, whoosh! It's going to be gone this afternoon!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Am I Blue . . .

This is a blue, blue day. I learned Wednesday night that an old friend of mine had died. R had stage four cancer, and he fought long and hard against it - multiple rounds of chemo and treatments, but it had metastasized throughout his body. He was very hopeful about a new experimental study he was going to get to participate in, and then, Wednesday, he had a heart attack. A bad one.

When I went to Colorado a few weeks ago, one of the main reasons I went was to see him once more. I didn't tell him that, but it was a main focus of my trip. In retrospect, he probably knew. A few of us were going to go out to lunch, but R ended up in the ER with a pulmonary embolism - so we hung out in the ER and had some time together there - the first thing he asked me was how to pot up some African violet leaves he'd gotten. He wanted to be sure that he would pot them up correctly, and he was telling me about the great garden he planted this year (all heirloom tomatoes). I was planning to send him some plants this weekend when I repot.

Here we are in happier days - I think this is about 12 or maybe even 15 years ago. It was right around Christmastime. I still have that dress . . .

Some friends saw him this past Sunday night and said he was so very tired. I got the call from them Wednesday night. And I'm just so sad. I'm glad R doesn't hurt anymore, but Jesus Christ, he was only 57 - this great, beautiful, vital man. It's just not fair. When I saw him in the ER he was so thin, and clearly ill, and yet still so focused on living. Such a great spirit. He was happy to see me, and I was really happy to see him. I'm so grateful that I went when I did.

My heart is breaking now for his partner, G, who had to make the same decision I had to make with my mom. How do you let someone you love so much go? And yet, when you know what they want, and you know they can't get better, how do you not honor their decision? When I had to make that decision, G helped me by just talking to me about it over the phone.

I'm looking at a card from my mom's passing - it's still up on my board where I see it every day, "Perhaps they are not the stars, but rather openings in Heaven where the love of our lost ones shines down to let us know they are with us." So, R, you are a star - you always were. I love you, and I will miss you. I miss you already.

When I see the stars in the heavens, one will be you, and G will know you're watching over him, and I will see your beautiful smile in the twinkling of that star and think of you with love.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Honest Scrap . . .

Michelle at Boulderneigh nominated me for the Honest Scrap Award. Thank you. I think :-D

The rules state: "When accepting this auspicious award, you must write a post bragging about it, including the name of the misguided soul who thinks you deserve such acclaim, and link back to said person so everyone knows he or she is real. Choose a minimum of 7 blogs that you find brilliant in content or design. Or improvise by including bloggers who have no idea who you are because you don’t have 7 friends. Show the 7 random victims’ names and links and leave a harassing comment informing them that they were prized with “Honest Weblog.” Well, there’s no prize, but they can keep the nifty icon. List at least ten honest things about yourself. Then, pass it on!"

Michelle – as she often does, switched around the rules to suit herself – so I’m not necessarily brilliant (although of course I like to think so :-D), but I’m honest. Here’s what she says on her blog:

“Finding the tone of the rules rather irreverent, I don't feel bad about modifying them a bit to suit my fancy. Since it IS called the Honest Scrap Award, I thought it more fitting to nominate bloggers who come across as honest rather than brilliant (not that these blogs aren't also brilliant, or that the blogs I don't nominate aren't honest!). The . . .bloggers tell it all, the good and the bad, yet don't leave you feeling down and depressed with their "realness:"

So – I’m real. And, in truth, I think that’s quite accurate. I’m about as real as they come . :-) And Michelle, I appreciate that you noticed :-)

I’m going with 6 brilliant bloggers. Here they are and here’s what I love about them and their blogs

Jarlady at Willow Way Knitting – she does it all! Knits, spins (one of my best students!), cooks (Calico Beans, people!!) and she’s just an all-around great person.

Kris at Knifty Red – So talented. This artist has the perfect eye for color and style. We both love cables of any sort in a sweater (or glove, or hat, or – well, you get the picture) – she even cables without a cable needle! She’s also the fastest knitter I know.

Sarah at Eat My Oxygen (and Perfect Day Yarns) – Sarah's blog always makes me laugh. What could be better than that? :-) I love to read about her family and what hilarious thing her kids have done or said.

Pat at Not Now, I’m Counting!!! – Fabulous photos, amazing sense of design and style, and I wish I was as tall as she is!

Knitterary at Knitterary – A quick witted, fabulous knitter – I don’t know anyone who is as good at stranded colorwork as she is. Words and yarn are her weapons of choice and she wields them both expertly. Oh, and she throws one hell of a party!

Dixie at Dixie Peach – An ex-pat living in Germany. I love to read about her experiences (reminds me of my years in Heidelberg), and I copied off her paper for my “Necco Wafer Socks.”

And finally – 10 honest things about me – Hmmmm, I’m giving you 11 to make up for only having 6 bloggers.

Here we go . . .

1. I am a first-generation American.
2. I consider myself the luckiest woman in the world.
3. Among my friends I'm often thought of as a trend setter.
4. I’m a glass-half-full kind of gal.
5. I don’t miss the theatre, but I really miss singing professionally.
6. I wish I was home enough to have a dog. Or two.
7. I have a great heart that loves without reservation.
8. I have been present at the moment of death more than once. It changes you.
9. There is ink on my body.
10. I am the strongest woman I know.
11. I’m a really good kisser ;-)

This was fun - thank you again, Michelle. I'm so glad you enjoy my blog :-)

Sleepyhead . . .

I was up too late last night, so no walking for me this morning :-( I left PT, and I had to go to the Jewel. There was no food in the house. By the time I was done there, it was already 9 (my normal bedtime so I can get up and walk early), and I still hadn't had dinner. I don't like to eat that late, but I was really hungry, and once you eat, you kind of have to stay up a little while to let the food digest. Oh well. Poor planning on my part, but it was par for the course yesterday.

I'm closing on my mom's old condo this week - finally it will be going to someone who will live there and hopefully enjoy it. It's been quite the saga in this housing market - I listed it last July and am selling it for far less than it's worth, but it's done. Unfortunately, my realtor forgot to advise me about all the hoops you have to jump through to transfer a property in the village where it's located - until last Monday. So, for the past week, I've been scrambling to get everything done (inspections, certifications, transfer stamps, certificate of occupancy - the list goes on and on). Thankfully I've had help from my cousin so I didn't have to take days off for all of it. I'm so grateful to her.

Everything came to a head yesterday - it was a day from hell - probably had its own RING in hell - so it was no real surprise that I was at the grocery store at 9 o'clock at night. Geez. But it's done now, and everything is in place to close on Thursday. At least from my end.

I have one more night of PT for my shoulder on Wednesday - and I'm really ready to be done. It will free up a lot of time for me. Shoulder isn't 100%, but it's good, and I know what to do to keep it good :-) Yay!!! I've been going every Monday and Wednesday evenings for more than two months now, and I would like to have some time for other stuff, so I'm looking forward to being done. :-)

Lovely weekend here in Chicagoland! Saturday was a quick trip to the Bluesfest, downtown, and then Linda the Chicken Lady came over on Sunday and we hung out on my deck and in the gazebo. Finally, a few days warm enough to do that - we've been having an unseasonably cool summer this year. I guess to go along with our unseasonably brutal winter.

On Sunday I started on a pair of socks that I actually frogged - they are a gift, so I won't post too much yet, but they had a lace pattern on the calf and I just didn't like it - so, Whoosh! Gone! I restarted with plain stockinette around the panels of stitchwork and they look MUCH better. I'm doing an eye of partridge heel this time - really pretty.

So, how 'bout it? I FINALLY finished this Clapotis. It's two skeins of Great Adirondack Silky Sock in the Copper colorway. I actually finished it in April, finally did the minimal finish work in May, and got it blocked at the very beginning of June - never got a chance to photo it until this weekend!

These were taken out on the sunny deck on Sunday. Linda dozed in the hammock and I relaxed in my mom's old rocker in the gazebo. What a fun afternoon!

Here's another outdoor photo - of my latest socks! These are the Horcrux Socks in fingering weight yarn. The yarn is Bellamoden in the Oh My Pumpkin Pie colorway. Based on the pattern and gauge, I cast on 70 stitches for the larger size - and it was huge. But, rather than frog it, after the "scar," I decreased down to the the smaller 60 stitches, and continued. The cuffs are a little baggy, but not much, and they look like they were meant to be that way :-D I liked this pattern and would definitely do it again - it's one that actually looks good for hand-painted yarns.

I'm itching to spin some of that silk I got in Boulder . . . I'll let you know how it goes.

That's the news from The Third Coast :-)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

What's Going On . . .

My blog posts have been few and far between lately. Just a reflection of the break-neck pace at which my life is moving lately. I'm in the midst of closing on my late mom's condo (finally!), and work has been really, really busy. My getaway to Colorado seems very far away already :-(

There have been some fiber-related activities Chez A. Just not enough time, it seems, to chronicle them lately. I did finish a pair of socks for my cousin's daughter, but didn't get a chance to photo them. They were made out of Opal, self-striping. She likes them :-)

On the needles now are the Horcrux Socks - nearly done!

Here's some yarn. This is 157 yards of worsted weight spun from Gale's Art Black BFL in the Deep Blue Sea colorway (from The Loopy Ewe!), and I'm absolutely in love with it. This fiber is processed very well (IMO) and it spun up beautifully. The jewel-tone colors became even deeper as the twist went in to the yarn. I spun it worsted, so that shine you see is not all the camera flash. This yarn practically glows. I would definitely spin with this again.

I started this (and Jarlady spun it up, too!) at the Spring Fling and had thought to spin it finer, but when I did a test - it just didn't seem to want to be spun at the finer weight, and I'm so glad I listened!

Here's the front of the Empire Pullover. It's Dream in Color Starry in the Romeo Blue colorway. One of my Spring Fling purchases! I can't believe I'm knitting a sweater in fingering weight yarn . . . the waste yarn is marking where I made some mods. I have a long body, so I made the body section about 1/2 an inch longer in each section. I also have boobs, thank you very much, so I added some fullness there. I think this might be my new favorite. It's taking some time to knit, but it really does look like a starry night.

And my St. Brigid is back on the needles in the smaller size! Yay!! And on the wheel is the next batch of the Miss Babs BFL that I got last year at Midwest Fiber & Folk Art Fair. I started it back in January, and it's time to finish it up.

In fact, it's time to finish up a lot of stuff. I'm in what I call "Divest Mode." This means that the entire house is going to get gone through . . . the ladies at the Second Chance Shop are going to be happy to see me again :-)

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Rocky Mountain High . . .

What a great trip. I have to say that this was one of the best trips I've taken in quite some time. There is something so important about being with people who have known and loved you for a very long time. Not that I don't have that here, but these are people who have known me in another life altogether, and it was really good to catch up with all of them.

I had a real appreciation for the mountains this trip - something I don't think I ever had before, or at least not to the extent I felt it this time. Lots of snow still on the peaks. It's been too long since I was back for a visit - maybe that was it, but even though the climate is hard on me there, I felt more at home than I have for awhile. It was good to be back :-)

This was a watershed trip for me in a number of ways. A real journey of the spirit - I laid some past ghosts to rest and found parts of myself that have been missing in action for awhile. It was all good. :-) I lived in Colorado for nearly 1o years. Consequently, I have a lot of friends there. Wonderful friends, as already mentioned, and I got the chance to see some of them this past weekend. No photos of them, but loved and enjoyed their company throughout the weekend.

I packed a lot into just a few days. First, a trip up to Boulder to visit Maggie Casey's store, Shuttles, Spindles & Skeins. It's funny, but when I was living in Denver, I was knitting, but I never got up to this store, besides which, most stuff back then we knit out of acrylic yarns.

So, here I am with Maggie! Yes, I got to meet her, and yes, she signed her book, Start Spinning, for me. And she gave me a total tour of the store - which is HUGE, and helped me find some mostly local stuff to buy, and she's really really nice! I was such a FanGirl. . . Thank you Maggie!

Of course I had to shop - but I didn't get too carried away. I got some pretty kewl stuff. There's some sock yarn from Lonesome Stone, in Granby, Colorado; and then that red tussah silk is from Red Stone Yarns, and a beautiful, solid maple, perfectly balanced drop spindle from Magpie WoodWorks in Grand Junction, Colorado. I also got some Bombyx silk top from Chasing Rainbows Dyeworks, in California - not local, but so gorgeous that I couldn't pass it up - I mean, look at those golds/blues/greens/purples. I can hardly wait to spin this stuff up. Got a couple of books, including Maggie's, a beading book, and also the brand new Feminine Sweaters, which has previously only been available in Norwegian and Danish. I just saw an ad for it from Interweave, so for once, I'm ahead of the power curve! Yay! :-D

Here's a view of the Flatirons, in case you need another mountain fix :-)

There's more - but it's time to sleep. So, Colorado, Part II will follow soon.