Wednesday was my birthday. We used to try to go out for dinner but it often sleets this time of year. So much so that we have stopped trying. Mid December is not the best time to have a birthday what with Christmas and Chanukah in the same month. Jim's birthday is the day after Christmas.
Oh poor us.
Ayne and I are planning a knitting retreat for the spring at her home in Lansing. We had to do some of the hard stuff this week, so we scheduled it for my birthday. We want the group to go out to lunch someplace not too expensive but scenic, nonetheless. Since she lives several miles up the east side of the lake it is easier to go to Aurora than south to Ithaca. We decided to test out the Aurora Inn's luncheon menu. Well, someone had to.
I drove up to her 1860 Victorian and she drove us both north to Aurora. Alas luncheon service in the dining room is halted from the end of October until May 1, so we went across the street to the Fargo Grill. The food was excellent as was the service but the atmosphere is not conducive to a large group nor to knitting. sigh... We may just have to check someplace else out another day.
Then we went next door to a clothing shop that is interesting to look through although pricey. But hey, still fun and they did have a sale rack.
Next we went a bit further up the lake to MacKenzie Childs to check out its suitability for browsing. This place is really something else. I think we were lost in there oogling and oohing and ahhhing for over an hour. The shop consists of several incredibly lush rooms. A bit of this decor is really plenty in any room, but MacKenzie-Child's decorators have brought excess to an artform.
Wouldn't you love to be invited to a dinner at this table?
Tuesday night, I set out a dark burgundy turtleneck to wear on Wednesday but changed my mind to a different one at the last minute. Once I opened the presents from my sister, I knew why I was moved to wear the softer sea green colored shirt.
Doesn't this just go perfectly?
My sister sent a Brooklyn themed birthday this year as the bracelet is covered in old prints of Brooklyn. Look! That's the Brooklyn Bridge and NY skyline in the top photo and a side view of the bridge in the ad.
We grew up in Brooklyn and even though our father's warehouse/factory was situated under the Williamsburg Bridge, we like the Brooklyn Bridge very much as he worked on it in his youth.
And these bird earrings are covered in maps of Brooklyn.
Very fun to wear.
Also on my person on Wednesday was this needle gauge from Jim.
Last Christmas a silver one was a present from my sister. I wore it often. The nautilus design combined with the practicality really grabbed me. However one day in February I came home to find the silver chain on my neck but no gauge hanging off it. Major boo hoo. I looked everywhere I had been, including under the seats in my car, all to no avail. Big boo hoo. I missed it greatly. Jim replaced it just this week for my birthday with a nice leather cording so I can wear it two ways.
I am so blessed.
Meanwhile my DIL, Liz, had asked me for a list of what I wanted for my birthday. That was hard. Finally after the second request I sent her a list of about 4-5 things I wanted: earrings (when don't I want earrings?), books and some Dreamz knitting needles.
Just yesterday a package from National Geographic arrived.
Richard and Leslie met at my house about 10:30 to pile into my Pilot and head on south. We stopped for coffee and snacks at Dunkin Donuts in Owego then boogied east to Binghamton and south to Scranton. We made excellent time, getting there about 12:35. Leslie brought their gps (Although it took me most of the trip to get used to the gps voice and mutterings as Jim is our human gps on most trips.) which was very helpful once we got off route 81, getting us easily to the HS situated in a working class neighborhood.
Of course by the time we arrived the school parking lot was full but a nice smiling cop let us make a U turn and told us to park across the street, which had just a few spaces left. We called Jen to find out where she was and get our tickets. Richard got on the line as it was already extremely long while Leslie and I walked up the hill to find Jen's silver car. Fortunately she has Rhode Island plates so was easy to spot amongst all the PA ones. And fortunately, myveryownsister lives in RI so I know what they look like.
Folks in Scranton got their tickets by standing in line Monday evening, while we got ours through incredible John, our upstate NY OFA coordinator, or we wouldn't have been able to get in.
Then we joined Richard.
Folks were so happy and upbeat even though it was misting, cold and windy.
This is the Syracuse Squad who started their trek about 9:15 am.
Once the line started moving I was very impressed at the speed at which our closeness to shelter progressed. I thought I'd be able to knit while in line but the weather not at all conducive to outdoor knitting. Ravelry folks who know told me the security folks would check everything so I took a fairly small bag. The guy looked into every zippered compartment, opened my purse and looked carefully into it. As predicted he ignored the loose dpns and Denise shafts stashed among several pens and pencils so I got to knit on a hat once inside. Score!
Folks who were on the line at 10:30 were not early enough to get inside the yellow lines where Obama actually touches people but we were close enough being in the side bleachers where he entered and left. If you have seen any of the pics of the cheering cheerleaders, we were below them, about half way up.
Obama stopped at the Festa home before coming to the high school. There are plenty of pics of that plus some video footage here. Scroll waaaay down. Donna Festa introduced him
but I could hardly hear her last words for the shouts of joy from the audience and my heart beating and my saying, "He's real! He's real!". This is one of the few I took that were not too blurry from my excitement. Both Leslie and I are such groupies. We were grinning and grinning and grinning. When we looked around so were most folks, well.... except for the Secret Service guys.
This pic and the one below were taken by a Syracuse volunteer who was way closer with a better camera.
Obama's speech was inspiring and just what we all were hoping he would sound like. ( I took a video of the whole thing but the c-span one is much much better.) Strong, upbeat, interactive, to the point, jeering a bit at the Republicans and telling us he was giving them one more chance with the tax cut bill that was going to the senate on Friday. It sounded like if they didn't pass it he had an egg up his sleeve that might break on their faces. He said to "Call your senators to support the tax cut extension for average Americans...."
"By the end of December all of our troops are going to be out of Iraq."
"America is a place where you can make it if you try.... Veterans should not have to fight for a job after coming home after fighting for America.... When you get knocked down, you get up. ... We've taken some punches in the last few years, we are tougher than the times. We don't give up. We get back up... We are fighting to make sure you can live a good solid middle class life where hard work is valued and.... rewarded.... not based on outsourcing and financial schemes but on education, manufacturing and small businesses.... Just like you don't quit. I don't quit. We can't wait. So we started taking steps on our own. We can't wait for Congress... Since I have taken office we have cut taxes 17 times......"
O Bam a, O Bam a, chanting from the students.
He took about 10 minutes to leave, shaking hands, talking with folks, signing tickets.
Those are the teachers of Scranton HS in the background. Most of the students were in the balcony behind us.
And he looked up, just before he boogied out, right at the place where Leslie and I were standing.
After waiting for the OK to leave we headed over to downtown Scranton. Wow. Some of those buildings are incredibly beautiful.
We met up with folks from the Scranton area, the Syracuse Squad and other OFA volunteers to get to know each other a bit and share info and ideas.
Such an up day. So much to remember and think about that I will be flying for days to come.
Tuesday: The President will host Prime Minister Mark Rutte of the Netherlands for a meeting in the Oval Office.
Wednesday: The President will travel to Scranton, Pennsylvania where he will deliver remarks urging Congress to act to extend and expand the payroll tax cut that has given tax breaks to millions of families across the country this year.In the evening, the President will travel to New York City where he will attend campaign events.
Thursday: The First Family will attend the National Christmas Tree Lighting on the Ellipse.
Friday: The President will host the White House Tribal Nations Conference at the Department of the Interior and deliver remarks.
And guess where I will be? Yup. I have been given one of the few Ithaca tickets to this Scranton event. Be still my heart. 4 of us from Ithaca and 10 from Syracuse have been rewarded for our volunteer efforts with access to this closed event.
We will carpool down there, attend the speech and then have a NY/PA OFA meeting before returning home. I am bringing my digital camera and my iPod and my knitting and my First Lady of Fabulous tote bag.
If I can get a pic of my socks-in-progress with Obama that would be a lifetime dream come true. However I know there is scant hope of getting that close but they are coming along just in case. Maybe I can dangle them in the forefront of a picture?
On October 13 I mentioned a pattern of mine was accepted by Knitter's Magazine. I had very little time in which to modify the pattern to their specs, knit it up in their nummy yak blend yarn, rewrite the pattern and get it back to them. I was so excited although the mad rush turned out to be not fun. However short deadlines can be met if one does not need much sleep or a social life is my humble opinion. The time limit was met with a day or two to spare. Whew!
and then I heard nothing, nada, zilch, zero.
From that evidence (lack of evidence?) and earlier submissions I deduced that this group is not big on communication so just let it go. I figured if they wanted something changed or hated what I did I would hear something (or not). Nor does this magazine seem to have a fixed publication schedule so thinking I might know something by a certain date was not an option either.
However in yesterday's mail, this arrived.
Now I guess I can say the item has beads (lots of beads), is an accessory and will appear in the Winter K105 issue.
We have two of the most adorable kittens. They are now about 5 months old. We adopted them from the shelter when they were about 9 weeks and half feral.
They are two of the most intelligent cats we have ever had the pleasure of living with. Our friend, Cathy, adopted the third sister and someone we don't know adopted the only boy. However these kitties are special for lots of reasons. All their names begin with L. We have LouAnne (on the right) and Lillie (on the left). Cathy has Lizzie and the brother was named Louie. We have little recent info on the boy but all 3 girls like to carry stuff around in their mouths: large and small stuffed toys, small parts, bits of paper, dead mice. They like moving things from place to place and playing with them here and there. They rarely lose anything and are already fine mouse hunters (which was my original reason for adopting them).
They also seem to have telepathy with each other as whenever one has something special the other just shows up and assumes sharing is just fine. They run and jump and climb all over the house, each other and us. After a couple of months of wariness they now walk by Basel, carefully, and sometimes touch his paw or tail. As of yet they do not answer to their names as they have each other rather than depending on humans for stimulation so have not been encouraged to go outside. We think in the spring they will just automatically use the doggy doors as most of our previous cats have learned to do.
Jim has been well trained as their personal Jungle Jim. They love climbing all over him, then sleeping in his arms or on his shoulder.
Neither kittie likes to be picked up off the floor yet both enjoy being petted on the windowsill where they eat or if they climb into my lap. LouAnne often joins me on the bed while I am getting dressed. Yesterday I set out my pants and then a shirt down on the spread, then an earring to see if it matched well enough. I saw Lou Anne come up the stairs and heard her jump onto the bed. I turned to get a pair of socks out of a drawer and saw her leap off the bed and scamper down the stairs. I heard her playing in the kitchen and the front hall. That is normal as both kitties store things in the hall to bat around. But odd as she usually wants lots of pets and winds her way around me while I dress. Then I picked up my shirt, put it on and remembered I had an earring sitting on it. Sigh. I looked and felt and looked some more. I knew I did not hear it hit the floor but looked under the bed and dresser anyways. Finally I gave up and wore a different pair.
Then I thought about LouAnne's odd behavior and wondered. hmmmnnnn So I looked all over the kitchen floor and in the front hall and told Jim my suspicion. He said as far as he could see they had not yet formed any interests in sparkly things but he would keep an eye out.
This morning he told me he found my earring at the bottom of the stairs.
My first reaction after seeing this photo of the president's motorcade in Denver was "Ack! Snow already! Glad I don't live there."
But merely a day and over 2000 miles east I drove home to:
Those were happy Hostas earlier in the day.
And the next morning we were greeted with:
snow on oak leaves
and bent over lilacs still in leaf.
All this is incredibly pretty but the weight of very wet 'warm' snow on leaves still attached to trees tends to knock said trees over and down electric lines. Jim went out early Saturday morning to make sure we had enough gas for our generator as another 5 inches were predicted. Sure enough areas of the Northeast are still without power although the predicted 5 fortunately turned into only 1, for us.
That was several days ago, yet we still have a few patches of snow on the ground and the temps have turned decidedly toward winter. So much for the wooly bear's prediction of a moderately long fall.
The good parts are that the bunnies are very happy and I am in a frenzy of knitting and spinning (when the kittens are sleeping).
Inspired by my visit to the Atlantic Ocean coast a pattern called Newport Shawl has been written and knit. It's a modified Faroese style and features shell stitch patterns. This newest creation is in consideration for submission to a magazine so therefore must remain off the internet until decided. Although one can find it in my shop with some specially dyed, ocean colored, tightly spun, 3 ply, blue face, light fingering yarn. Come on over for First Saturday this weekend and see it in person.
However a new colorway was also inspired and is hereby announced.
I love rewards, built-in, specified and any size. Check marks, while small are rewards too as they add up to earning something bigger eventually.
Once our mother was safely enscounced in her new residence on Thursday evening, Ellen and I headed due south, across RI to Newport and my first reward......
I LOVE this bridge. I have for many years. I like its lines and the meaning it has for me. When I see it and go over it I am approaching my sister's home and a lovely vacation for a few days.
Staying with my sister in Newport is so relaxing, peaceful and pleasant. She is incredible at making small spaces seem large, airy and beautiful.
In the morning I was greeted by lovely sunshine and Maks, the miracle cat. Maks was hit by a car a couple of years ago, was in ICU for several days, lost the use of one eye, broke his pelvis and still came back so that you really cannot tell he was injured. Maks now walks with a leash instead of going about the neighborhood on his own but his life is good and he is loved.
Each time I visit he seems to adopt me. He sleeps on my bed, purrs and asks me to pet him. My sister gets jealous as he is rather aloof otherwise but, I have hopes that he will transfer some of his attention to her this time.
On Friday, after making sure our mother was doing well we rewarded me with a trip to a Yarn Shop. The one I picked out was half a mile from Tamarisk so an easy trip. We went back and forth on its block and the ones next to it, then asked someone for the shop, to no avail. Then we called Manmade by Jonne and was told he had not been there for 5 years (sheesh, the old one is the address google is giving out!). Jonne did not seem amenable to giving us directions so we decided to try out the shop in Newport. It is on Thames Street all the way down. The time was after 5 but lots of tourists were walking about so we knew it would still be open. This one was exactly where it was supposed to be with easy parking. We both went inside as I wanted my sister to choose the color for her new socks. I immediately found the fingering but it was only acrylic Sirdar so I asked the owner. She said she had sock yarn right over here on this display. I looked and found what I already had, wool and more wool. Not acceptable to me or my sister. Major Darn. The shop has lots of room but basic yarns and a great selection of novelty yarns, both new and old.
Alas, the plan for a pair of socks for my sister, made on this trip, had to be scratched. I could have been bummed but....
back in the car my sister offered a drive along the Newport shoreline as a substitution. It is also a reward. Having grown up spending many summer days on an Atlantic beach in Brooklyn, the ocean brings back great memories and feelings of awe at its rawness, majesty and power.
That evening we watched a Hugh Laurie Video of the taping of his album Let Them Talk. It was a perfect ending to our day, listening to wonderful heartfelt blues. AAMOF I immediately downloaded the album to my iPod and listened to it on the drive from Newport back here to Southbury.
On Saturday we spent more time at Tamarisk but left before dinner knowing our mother was in excellent hands, safe, secure and occupied with new friends. We had reservations at our favorite restaurant, The Lobster Pot in Bristol, the final reward to us for a job well done - Steamers, lobster bisque, lobster salad, dark bread, wine, crackers and cheese and more ocean views.
My mother now lives in Rhode Island at the Phyllis Saperstein Tamarisk Residence. Tuesday we sent the movers on their way. Wednesday my sister met them at noon and spent the next 12 hours unpacking.
On Thursday I drove her 3 hours north east from Southbury, CT to Warwick, RI. We were met at the entrance where my mother was invited in. My sister then appeared and took her upstairs to her new space. Lev who also met us at the door, helped me unload my SUV, load a luggage cart and took the haul upstairs with me being greeted by the concierge and being shown upstairs as well.
Entering my mother's new apartment is a feast of light.
All of the furniture is from her condo in CT but my sister put it together in a such a way that it looks spacious, bright and welcoming.
Her bedroom is calming with pinks and blue and whites.
Everyone who has visited remarks on how inviting it all looks
especially with her crystal collection glittering on a windowsill overlooking a rose garden.
The physical structure is relatively easy to describe. The exterior is typical New England clapboard, extremely well maintained, as are all the rooms we visited. On the ground floor we saw at least 2 rooms for music and community events, plus a wonderful library and sitting room. They also have a van for almost daily shopping trips and other outside events.
The dining hall has wooden tables that are cloth covered for dinner. Across from the dining room is a Tavern where you can purchase wine by the glass and next to it is the Bistro which always has free hot coffee, hot water, snacks and a fridge full of little milks of all kinds. Oh and the majority of the residents are using walkers so aisles are wider than usual and there are 3 elevators to keep walking to a minimum.
We had 2 lunches and a dinner at Tamarisk. At each meal someone came to take our order, recited the choices, re-recited the choices and then offered alternatives. Portions can be made smaller or larger while diet sodas, fresh brewed iced tea and coffees are graciously brought out. My mother had an egg salad sandwich that was delicious, delicately spiced, not a lot of mayo yet full of flavor.
Side salads are always available too. At the first lunch my sister asked for a fried egg on toast, as she had read that breakfast food was always available, and received hers nice and hot with lovely toast (actually that is what she ate for both lunches) while I had ravioli and my mother had hers without sauce and we all had grilled fresh baby asparagus. Oh did I tell you this place is kosher? Yup. At dinner my mother and I had chicken with dumplings while my sister had an egg salad sandwich. All was brought to us with smiles and thoughtfulness. People stopped by our table to greet and meet our mother and invite her to different happenings and let her know how they liked their residence.
One of the main things that makes this place so different from others is the atmosphere of caring and love. All the people we met are not only polite but really care about the elderly without being condescending. On my mother's first morning, she opened her door to get her paper, was greeted by a CNA and asked if she wanted help getting dressed. The night before a CNA assisted her with a shower and getting ready for bed. Staff is everywhere, always agreeable and gracious.
As we left Thursday evening we heard a wonderful jazz pianist playing in one of the community rooms with almost a full house audience. Activities abound as do mah jongg games, canasta and bridge. There are small areas on each floor with upholstered or leather furniture. On the 3rd floor is the Brain room with a closet full of games and several computers. On the 2nd is a TV room and sunrooms. A massage therapist is available 3 days a week as is a hair stylist and manicurist. A podiatrist visits every Friday and a nurse is always available.
Lev the Program Director, who has been involved since Tamarisk's inception 12 years ago, stopped by yesterday to take our mother's picture and just to chat. After he found out that she has done lots of community service he invited her to a happening tomorrow afternoon involving URI freshmen and assisting the local poor.
This place is like a hotel but one that is personally invested in their clients. I could move in tomorrow and be very satisfied. Our mother has only called twice in 48 hours instead of 15 as is her norm as she is being not only well cared for but already getting involved in her new life and making new friends. We left her yesterday walking over to a mah jongg game in the sunroom.
My mother is moving to assisted living. We grew up in Brooklyn, then my mother moved to Heritage Retirement Village in CT 20 years ago. Now she is going to RI which is closer to my sister. We started the process about a month ago. My sister interviewed residences in Rhode Island and we chose Tamarisk over any of them. Then the checklists started. Moving is traumatic at anytime but going smaller is hard. Whittling clothes and belongings can be difficult but Bonnie, who has been helping my mother for years, is amazing with her. So patient, full of humor and really loves her. They spent the last 3 weeks going through everything.
When I arrived yesterday they were almost done with the pantry. I got to help with clearing off surfaces into boxes, deciding which artwork was coming and communicating with my sister on the check list, marking boxes with contents and making some last minute furniture and coat decisions.
My sister and I are both very much into lists and crossing things off. She is jealous of the √ mark I can make on my mac but she cannot on her PC so I made her a really big red one in Photoshop.
The movers were supposed to come at 11. Nice guys who even took the plants. Actually they were unavoidably delayed almost an hour so Bonnie took mother out for lunch and bought her a couple of pairs of sneakers on a credit that needed to be used up. It was way easier to proceed with only me here directing and I think less stressful to my mother. The place is really empty now. The carpeting which looked great before now needs to be shampooed.
I wanted to make a pair of socks for my sister for taking the lion's share of the work. I also did not want to make yet another pair of Jeans or Paynes grey socks (she has lots of them) so allowed myself to purchase some denim, taupe and grey JaWoll sock yarn right before I left. I was excited that the skein contained reinforcement yarn. I immediately started the toes and got rather enthused that I might just be able to make a pair of plain socks to present to her before I left to come home.
However as I got more into the toes I realized that these socks were not going to pass my sister's princess test for softness. I finally noticed that the yarn was superwash WOOL and nylon, not superwash anything specific. Arghhh wool pool yarn = yarn from meat sheep, old rams, cheese sheep, old ewes, etc. Many many people who find wool itchy have never worn pure merino, only wool pool yarn. If you think I am a micron snob, she makes me look like Miss Scratchy.
Oh and Yarndex quotes Lang on this yarn ""Jawoll" is so soft & fine that it can also be used to create beautiful sweaters, gloves, hats, shawls, really any fingering-weight project. " so I kept on knitting hoping it would soften up.
I love the way the colors are coming out but the feel of the socks as they are being knit is not passing MY softness tests so I can't imagine how it will pass hers.
I googled Warwick, RI yarn shops and found one very close to Tamarisk. Yippee! I will go there Thursday afternoon.
The onliest problem is the socks will then be 4 days behind schedule.
Repeat after me..."I will not pull a Yarn Harlot Rhinebeck stunt....I will not pull a Yarn Harlot Rhinebeck stunt....I will not pull a Yarn Harlot Rhinebeck stunt...."
Uh oh. I found the yarn shop's website, who look really interesting BTW, BUT they have the audacity to be closed on Thursdays. Soooo do I order from WEBS right now? And will I need to pay a small fortune to get yarn to my sister's house by Thursday? or take my chances on having time to go to another shop?
What with all the rain and flooding then incredible dryness I thought the leaves would just shrivel and die. However for the last 2 days we have been having the most colorful snow of leaves I haven't seen in years. I go outside and the leaves are gently coming down and coating everything with a fine layer of gold and orange. So perfect. So uplifting. So classic. And right on schedule too.
And you are asking why I have not been reporting on my knitting.
OK I have been very quiet but only because I am not allowed to show it to you--------------- yet.
Yes, secret knitting.
I had a piece for Knit Picks to get done (actually 2 of the same but in different weight yarns) and then, the greatest thing happened.
When I came back down I realized I had a very short time in which to do the redesign, receive the scrumptious yarn, find beads and then knit the sample and get it in on time.
The Knit Picks samples went in late last week with the pattern. They should be up in about 3 weeks. I will let you know.
I got the beads I wanted at AC Moore but they only had 2 tubes. I knew I needed at least 3 but counted on them getting more in soon. Ha! Then I counted 950 beads needed and there are about 280 per tube. So right before I panicked I ordered more online. I ran out of beads a little over halfway through the piece over the weekend. The beads were being delivered by UPS. But Monday was a holiday and I had to have it in the mail by Wed.
Surprisingly about 4pm on Monday that brown truck arrived.
UPS is my latest hero.
I immediately sat down to complete the piece. It was so close to the deadline. I was so nervous as I didn't want my very first national magazine design to be late and rejected. Knitting went on past midnight on Monday and not much else got done on Tuesday except take breaks when my hands hurt. The mystery knit was completed at 11pm. whew!
Then it was blocked.
Wednesday morning it was dry so I tucked in the ends and added the 4 x 4 gauge area outlined in waste yarn.
Then I packed it all up and sent it off. After that I sent in the pattern and chart and anything else they wanted by email.
I am so looking forward to seeing this in print and being able to share it with you all.