Friday, October 30, 2009

Live from Denver

First off, dear friends, please let me preface this entry by saying the following:
1) I'm posting from my Blackberry, so my typing will be a bit off & photos & links will be posted when I make my way to a "real" computer;

2) I had dinner at the Wyncoop Brewery across the street from the Denver train station. Not being a seasoned beer drinker, I ordered the sampler, which ended up being 9 3-oz samplings (and, yes, I tried the ancho chile beer, but couldn't stomach it and moved on to the next beer sample). Again, keep in mind that I'm not a beer drinker;

and 3) I'm receiving death stares from a very uppity lady at the other end of the bench we're sharing and I can only imagine what's going thru her mind since I'm travelling with an older co-worker, am a little tipsy, and am probably looking quite schlubby. It really doesn't help that the Denver train station has to be the single-most cavernous building that I've sat in, so my laugh and voice is carrying quite roundly. And we all know how quiet I am when tipsy....And, with it being Halloween, there are some interesting people coming through the station.

So, I've been in Denver this week for a statistics class for work (frequency analysis of flood data, if anyone is so inclined). I haven't had any crazy incidents lately, so I should've known that I was due. And since I've prefaced the crap out of this entry already, let me say up-front that I may not particularly be a good driver.

As part of this trip, I happened to rent a Dodge Avenger from Enterprise. This experience has taught me to never in a million years buy a Dodge. It was the worst piece of crap vehicle. It had absolutely had Zero pick-up. The turning signals were spastic and would not shut off without nearly breaking off the control lever -- making other drivers believe that I was a 90 year old, senile driver. Not only did Enterprise rent me a car with bald tires (that had only 40K miles on it), but also a car whose brake warning light came on by Wednesday. For anyone who hasn't watched the news this week: Denver received just over a foot of snow between Tuesday evening and Thursday morning. The highways to Kansas and Wyoming were closed as late as this morning and eastern Colorado was still under a blizzard warning. AND on top of the mechanical issues, get this -- we arrived in Denver on Sunday morning; by Monday afternoon, Enterprise called to let me know that they had sold the car I was driving and needed to swap out vehicles with me. ("WTF, man!") Needless to say, that would have worked well with getting a better car, but we never connected between my work schedule and their business hours. But, really, how can the company sell my vehicle? Not only that, but to think that it's good business for them to have employees bring out a new vehicle for me and not wait until I brought it back on Friday!

Anyways, I need to cut this short because my very vocal Democratic co-worker has managed to find the lone (also very vocal) Republican in the station and they are getting into a rapidly heated discussion (okay, borderline argument). More to come soon....

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

In an extreme moment of weakness

There are times when I have severe trouble sleeping. Sure, I may go to bed and actually fall asleep the way normal people do; but, for one reason or another, I find myself waking in the middle of the night (anywhere between 2 and 4 am) and unable to fall back asleep. Sometimes, I force myself to remain in bed, tossing and turning until my alarm goes off at 5:30 (then, inevitably, end up not wanting to get up at that time and lounge some more). Other times, I actually get up, flip on the TV, and knit.

While in Traverse City last week, I ended up having a night of fitful sleep and ended up calling it quits with the Sand Man. Sitting in bed and with knitting in hand, I started flipping through the channels. And there I saw it -- the Cricut Expression infomercial. I was immediately sucked-in and entranced by the idea that I could actually make my own cards en masse. Sure, I've been going to Stamp Camp with Erin once a month or so. But, this....this was on a completely different level.

Before I knew it, I had the phone in one hand, credit card in the other. And, still a week later, I haven't snapped out of it. I returned to my office today after a couple of days in Minneapolis to find a rather large box containing my new toy already waiting for me in my office. So, after Sylvain's last football game tonight, I could hardly wait to rush home and check it out. The limited playing around I've done has proven that my zeal is well founded, so now I'm on the hunt on Overstock and Ebay in search of design cartidge deals. Other than the expense of the original machine, I found that the cartridges can be quite pricey at $60 or more a piece.

For now, I'm quite happy with this purchase. Please help me validate this gross impulse purchase -- if anyone needs cards made, just stop on by.

Friday, October 16, 2009

A tale of two wools

Yes, folks, I'm still alive. Things have been pretty crazy around here -- October is a month of traveling for me, which I originally thought would be a good thing since I figured that I'd spend my evenings bored to pieces in a hotel in one town or another and have plenty of time to update the blog, check e-mail, and whatnot. I just wrapped up my first trip out of three and found myself pretty listless in the evenings. I even started doing some of my exercise routine to try to pump myself up to no avail. (Hey! Since I went through the actual effort of packing my workout bands, I might as well use 'em, right?)

So, with all of my traveling that's planned, I also thought that I'd have all kinds of time to knit. And with Christmas right around the corner and with plenty of down-time in the airport or on the train ahead of me, I wanted to make sure I had a good plan of attack by having plenty of projects on hand. For Christmas, I've decided to knit several pairs of the FiberTrends felted clogs. Okay, so when I said several, I mean about 15 or so pairs.

If you're a sane person, you're probably shaking your head at me right now; but no worries -- before fully committing to this chore, I talked to a couple of friends who have used this pattern in the past for gifts ("piece 'o cake, but make sure you're paying close attention when working the sole") and did a trial run by knitting a pair for Chuck and a pair for Sylvain. I started with the presumption that both needed approximately the same sized pair, so went with the directions for a Men's size 11. Chuck's was knit using Galway (blue and grey) and Sylvain's was out of Lamb's Pride (red and brown). Each pair took me about three days to knit -- which is fantastic and fit right in with my travel plans. If one or two pairs could be completed each trip, then getting all 15 or so done by Christmas will be a snap!

Unfortunately for me, I made several rookie mistakes when I was ready to felt. First, I did not measure the unfelted sizes of either so that I could get an idea of how much each yarn shrank compared to the time they spent in the washer. I also failed to photograph the two unfelted pairs together for visual comparison, so you'll have to take my word on it when I tell you that they were really both the same size before tossing both pairs into the washer.

Mistake #2 was that I placed each pair into a separate lingerie bag, then tossed them into the same wash -- so both pairs had the same heat and same amount of agitation. OK, experienced felters -- do you see where I'm going with this? I checked the washer once and only looked at Sylvain's pair because I'm a lazy ass and didn't feel like fishing out Chuck's pair from the depths of the washer to see how it was doing. Sylvain's pair needed to go a little longer, and that was good enough for me.

Needless to say, Sylvain's pair fits Chuck great and Chuck's pair fits me perfectly. Nuts! I didn't want to knit a pair for me yet, so will likely give these to my brother's mother-in-law Ruth, since I've been assured that she's the same shoe size as me.

Also, a few of you may have seen me at Cheanne's knit-in stressing over whether to resew the sole on one of Chuck's slippers since I did each a different way and they looked drastically different to my eye. Yep, the anal-retentivenss in me took over, so I tore out the outer sole and sewed it to match the first slipper.

After this felting debacle, the wind was taken somewhat out of my sails. For this week's trip to a conference in Traverse City, I decided to focus on the Bergere de France Trapeze Line Jacket that I also had on the needles. I was able to complete the right front and left sleeve, so now only have the right sleeve, collar, and seaming the pieces together left to do. Once this sweater is done, I'll be ready to begin another pair of clogs for each of my nieces using some Cascade 220 that's waiting in the wings. The teal colored pair will be for Payton and the purple pair will be for Calista.

My next trip is this week, where I'll be spending a couple of days in Minneapolis. Yarn for Payton's clogs are wound and ready to go, so keep your fingers crossed for me and hopefully my next entry will feature a finished sweater and a pair of unfelted teal clogs....

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The literal pain in my ass

I had quite the scare this week, and in some ways, my fears have not been fully addressed. Last July, I was quite sick with the flu and like I mentioned then, Chuck had taken me to the doctor's office to receive two shots that seemed to clear things right up. The shots were of Toradol and Phenergan. I only know the names of these drugs because I had the wherewithal to insist that the nurse practitioner write them down for me, knowing that I was in no shape to remember these things myself and Chuck wouldn't consider this stuff important enough to place into memory. At the time, I was told that the Toradol was to battle the flu symptoms and Phenergan was to help with nausea typically caused by Toradol. Let me say here and now: I know very little about prescription drugs and have little interest in taking them. That is part of the reason why I patron my doctor: she tends to go for more homeopathic approach to problems. Unfortunately, that is part of my current dilemma.

The shots in July were administered, I guess, on each of my upper gluteus. Over the past month, I've felt an on-and-off soreness at the location of the right-sided shot; and, more recently, have felt a small lump (dime/nickel-sized) form there too. Being totally freaked out, I decided to schedule an appointment and insisted on seeing the doctor for the appointment. The earliest I could get in with her was this past Friday. I also insisted that Chuck go with me just in case it was something that concerned her too. Needless to say, I showed her where the lump was, and using the same technique as with a self-breast exam, she found the lump also (so there Chuck, it really wasn't all in my head). She went on to tell me about how some people can react poorly to physical act of receiving a shot, and that is what she believes is going on. Her "prescription" was to (and in this order):
  1. Apply a warm rice sock to the lump
  2. Massage the lump area nightly
  3. Rest in a hot tub
  4. Take an Epsom salt bath
I left her office not fully satisfied, but didn't want to at least give her advice a chance. She is the medical professional in the room, right? So, I'm going to try these remedies for a week or two. (Well, actually, I'm going to skip #3 because I don't happen to have a hot tub handy and have gotten nauseated every time I've sat in one.) But, seriously, she can bet that if nothing is happening over that time period, I'll be back in her office and insisting on having a little more of an intensive analysis done. Being the worrier that I am, I've immediately thought of the worst; so, I'm sharing this with you now so that you can side with Chuck and tell me that I'm worrying over nothing.