Friday, March 23, 2012

I love where I live.

The other day, Jim needed a plumbing part at Home Depot so I went along but visited the nursery section while he looked at parts.  It is so warm, the forsythia are in bloom, the mertensia are delightfully pink and blue and even a few sheltered daffodils are winking yellow at me.  So in the mostly empty nursery area I asked for some Ice Pansies, you know the ones that can withstand a wee bit of freezing temps.  The woman refrained from laughing but did say,  "We get pansies the end of April just like always." Well that took me right back to reality.  Spring, in these parts, is over a month ahead of itself.

While I was driving into town today I saw weeping willows waving pale green and some newly green bushes.  Today I needed to go to our downtown PO to mail out the Fondle This Kits for March.  I do apologize as they should have gone out on Wednesday but an awful cold caught me unawares on Tuesday so today was the first day I thought I could be in public again.

In the gardens outside the PO there were Hyacinths in bloom!!!!  All over downtown the Magnolias were joyously pink and white along with forsythias and daffodils.  Incredible.

Then at the service desk, the guy who often waits on me said, "Are you following your bliss?"  Wasn't that a nice question?  We talked about that and the incredible weather for a few minutes as he put some stamps away.  He is a musician and explained he was listening to an NPR program where live musicians are in the studio for interviewing and some live playing. So we listened to that for a bit while he processed the envelopes.  I love visiting the PO.

And this tongue-in-cheek form from the Ithaca Times by Charlie Gither really really covers the atmosphere in this town.

WD-40 Ithaca Individual Income Tax Return
Name _________________________ Social Security Number ________________ 
Address__________________________ Favorite Grassroots Band _____________
Check here if you want to donate $3 to Svante Myrick’s (our 25 yr old mayor) eventual presidential campaign: ___
Filing Status
___ Single ___ It’s complicated, filing jointly 
___ Married, filing jointly ___ We need to talk 
___ Married, but not speaking ___ Co-dependent, filing separately
___ Yourself ___ Your partner
___ Number of dependent children ___ Number of deer (Cayuga Heights only)
___ Number of household pets ___ Number of underemployed couch-tenants 
1. Enter your adjusted gross income from line 38 of your federal tax return _____________
2. Total downtown parking expenses …………………… ____________
3. Credit for yard waste collection fees ………………… ____________ 
4. Multiply total # of Gimme! (favorite local coffee bar) Frequent Customer Cards used in 2011 by $1,700 ____
5. ‘No Fracking’ sign credit ……………………………..…… ____________
6. Amount spent on Seasonal Affective Disorder Treatment (include self-medication) _____
7. Over-education credit ………………………………….…… ____________
8. Commons Smoking Tickets credit ………………..……. ____________
9. Multiply the number of obscure musical instruments in the household by $35 …_______
10. Add lines 2 through 9. These are your total credits ……………………______________
11. Subtract line 10 from line 1. This is your Adjusted Ithaca Income ….. ______________
Tax Calculation
12. Multiply the figure on line 9 by Mitt Romney’s secretary’s tax rate ….…____________
13. Bumper Sticker surtax ($30 per legible sticker) ………………………______________
14. Smugness tax ($300 per household graduate degree and Prius owned)… ____________
15. My Share of the Commons Tax ($1,200 per retail shopper or loiterer) ……___________
16. Contribution to welcome gift for our new (redistricted) Republican congressperson ….. ___________
17. Not In My Back Yard Tax ………………………….……………………______________
18. Ithaca Police Dept Lawsuit Defense tax ………………………………………………______________
19. Markles Flats Toxic Playing Fields tax …………………………………______________
Add lines 12 through 19. This is your total tax ……………………………______________
Bend Over and Sign Here:
_____________________________________ Date: ___________________
Note: The Internal Revenue Service and Ithaca City Treasurer do not accept Ithaca Hours! 

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Between 46th and 47th

Every year the commentator and writers talk about the endless time on the Yukon, Norton Sound and Golovin Bay where the scenery changes little, its fairly flat or it is dark and nothing but your headlamp light can be seen.  Hours upon hours of following the dogs, snacking every so often and never really knowing if progress has been made. Some mushers take that time to reflect on their lives, make decisions or just enjoy the Northern Light displays.

By Wednesday evening I had reached my equivalent of the coast on the sweater. Now it was edging time.  Sheesh.  You would think I had never put in buttonholes before as I frogged that side 4 times getting it right. Sorta like missing a trail marker which is very possible on the coast with the blowing wind and snow and changed trails depending on conditions. Eventually I reached Norton Sound and started my i-cord trek around the fronts and neck edgings.

Cathy invited me to join her for lunch at Panera's on Friday so I took the sweater as I really couldn't afford to not knit on it and still finish before the Red Lantern.  All hope of top ten, even mid pack was gone by then, but finishing was still on the books.  When she left to go back to work I stayed, iced tea on the table and i-cording away.

For those of you who don't know about i-cord bind off edgings.  We knit 2 stitches, slip one, knit 1, then pass that slipped stitch over the last stitch knit.  Then the 3 remaining stitches are passed back to the left hand needle and it is all repeated and repeated and repeated.  S  l  o  w  as this method has us knitting 3-4 times as many stitches as we started with. During this time I was able to reflect on why it usually takes me 6 months to complete something like a sweater.  There I was slogging away at this thing, doing nothing else but this sweater, not spinning, not knitting the beret Knit Picks is waiting for, not the socks that are about half done, just this sweater.  I do like it and like how it came out but not the monogamous relationship.  Usually when a project starts to get boring I either start a new one, design a new something or go back and work on a UFO.   But since this was a challenge, the sticking with it part was a major accomplishment over and beyond the actual knitting.

As I completed passing over the very last stitch, the sun was still bright but my cell phone said 5pm.  Yikes. I had been there for hours (Panera is a great place for things like that) so headed out of there real quick to get home.

Once home, I told Jim I ate late so would fend for myself later once I got the discharge paste painted on the sweater.  Oh yes, I have neglected to tell you about that little step on each and every part.  When I dye yellows I always get bits of green in the product.  With this yellow heading toward sunflower and golden coloring the green was darker and really began to make the sweater look dirty in places.  Therefore the use of discharge paste.  I painted individual stitches with the goop wherever the green bothered me.  Once that was done, the paste needed to dry.  Then the kettle was set to boiling and each area was steamed until it was a nice pale green.  When I went foraging for buttons I found some in that particular green.  The buttons tie it all together.

 I even found some sunflower printed socks to go with the sweater.  Don't know if she will like them but I do.

After the steaming comes washing and blocking. I did get to sleep by midnight Friday. Saturday the 5 buttons were sewn on and I clocked into Nome at 4:33 AK time.  When I checked online, the musher before that time had come in 46th shortly before midnight Friday and the next one was not due for almost 3 hours after me.  Well I wasn't last, completed the trek and realized my challenge, so get to use this year's winning ravatar.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Top Eleven

Worked from 6-8:30 last night doing voter registration then came home to wait for Dallas Seavey to get into Nome.  I managed to finish the second cap sleeve

during the long wait as he finally came under the arch at 7:20AK time.  Before he even checked in he went down the line of dogs hugging and thanking them.  Besides the honor of the win and the third person in his family to win (His Dad came in 7th this year while his grandad is still on the trail.) he also received a Dodge Ram Truck, $50,400 (there are monetary prizes all the way to 30th place) and a call from the Governor which we were able to hear live.
Being nearly midnight here I just could not make myself stay awake any longer.

Aliy arrived exactly one hour after Dallas and was looking forward to a cup of hot coffee.
Almost every musher attended to her dogs before signing in.  Most removed their booties if the dogs hadn't already done that for themselves.

Ramey Smythe is third to arrive at 11:04 pm AK time. He had hoped to catch and pass Aliy but it wasn't to be.

Peter Kaiser, in 5th position, immediately snacked his dogs.

John Baker took 9th place at 4:25am AK time.

 A bit of disappointment to him after his great first place finish last year.
John has used his fame to help teens in the arctic area.  There used to be a high incidence of suicides but since he started a buddy program the suicides have dropped dramatically.  They also teach the teens how to use their skills and strengths to make something of themselves.  He does this along with Mike Williams, Jr who came in 8th.

DeeDee Jonrowe in purple and fur with 13 dogs out of her original 16 attained 10th place.

And Sigrid Elkund, amid a slew of fans waving Norwegian flags, was delighted to be in 11 place while snacking her dogs on frozen salmon.  

42 more teams still on the trail.  Me, I'll be lucky to finish in the middle of the pack.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Rolling Along

I was listening to an Iditarod Podcast interview with Ken Anderson (currently running 12th).  In it he talked about being flexible.  That if one has only one set race plan then things will not go as planned.  Predictions for weather and trail are often wrong as the weather changes so vastly depending on where one is on the trail; going over the mountains, in the Burn, the interior, down or up the Yukon and on the coast.  He feels that the best runs are dependent not only on the dogs but also on the flexibility of the musher.

When I started the Amber Waves sweater I really wanted to change it to seamless but was put off by the charts which seemed to change with each section and size.  I am an intrepid modifier but for this pattern conceded to go with seams even though I did change the background ribbing to stockinette.  Seams are not my forté which is one of the reasons I prefer round knitting.  However at Knit Knite Ruth, who is an expert at knitting seams, said we might be able to work something out. wink wink.  Those words allowed me to go ahead with confidence.

Yesterday I blocked the left & right fronts and the back.  By mid afternoon they were dry and ready for seaming.  uh oh.  I wouldn't see Ruth until Wednesday night and then would need to leave the pieces with her until at least the weekend.  uh oh.  That would really knock me out of the top 10 and my progress was so good that I did not want to slow down.

After a break taken by going to JoAnn's to look for buttons (which, by the way, is not the wonderful mecca for buttons it was even 3 years ago) I got out Designing Knitwear by Deborah Newton. This book has been in my library for years, originally purchased at a NYS Sheep & Wool Fiber Festival.  I pull it out occasionally as it is chock full of information for designing but last night realized it is also full of details for putting garments together.  duh.  She talks about how many people seam from the inside but she does it from the outside.  Well that made sense to me so I studied her explanation of mattress stitch.  No biggie now.  Got over that mountain with ease and am ready to start the sleeves.

As of 5:31 AK time the standings were:

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Dogs on the Yukon

Dawn on the Yukon River

Sleeping in - Sigrid E's team

Burmeister's Team trotting back on the river

Two of Lance's 'walkers'.

Wollomitzer's Team heading back out.

 Nicholas Petit with one of his pups.

Aliy's guys in Kaltag.

Alert and ready.

Northern Lights

Current Standings AK time

Saturday, March 10, 2012

In the Interior

This race is moving so fast I can hardly decide what to write about when something else occurs.  I will just use photos and move us along.   Most of the teams are already on the Yukon or nearing it. Temps have been ideal - very cold but not much in the way of new snow in the last few days.
That's Lance Mackey checking in and preparing to take his 24 hour rest in McGrath.  He signed in then signed for this little girl in a hand knit hat.  Notice the pup in the basket.  It seems that Maple, one of his lead dogs, went into heat (not an uncommon occurrence in this race) and her partner up front, Mayor decided to have some fun.  Held him up a bit until he put her into his basket.  He finally decided to drop Mayor and has Maple in solo lead.

It was a cold run up to Ruby.  Aliy Zirkle checked in, dropped a dog and went on down the trail.  She is now out of Nulato on the Yukon River.
Frosted dogs and mushers happily mushing in the sunshine.

From Joe Runyon on the Iditarod site.
"Aliy arrives 14 dogs in harness, some wearing coats and protective leggings (the deep snow sometimes frosts up on the front legs and wears the hair, shorter furred dogs benefit from a coat when its downright cold).  She signs in, smiling, cheerful, then promptly turns them around for a quick exit.  The checkpoint judge checks for mandatory gear, while vets quickly examine dogs and determine resting heart rates, a good indicator of recovery.

Team snacks on salmon, then spins around to action as aliy whistle team on exit toward Kaltag
“Just sign this, and you’re out of here,” says the checker.  “Leave your boots on,”  Aliy admonishes her team dog working on a booty.
“Are you staying?” 
“No,” laughs Aliy, “ I am trying to win this thing.”  Obviously she figures her team is well rested, and determines to continue to Kaltag.
With a whistle, her team is back in a rhythmic trot, leaving Nulato.  In a half mile, the trail will fall off the high bank of the Yukon, back to the bed of the Yukon and 38 miles of trail to Kaltag."

I am trucking along as well. Now have the back, the right front and more than half the left front completed.

And the standings of the top 15 as of 6:58 am, AK time.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


It's only Day 3 and 22 mushers are already 300 miles into the trail at Nikolai.
Ally Zirkle just left so is on her way 10 miles further to McGrath and another 40 to Takotna or else camping outside the main area.
A view of mushers at Rainy Pass. Most have gone on now as the storm didn't keep them still for long.

We are hearing that the Rookies are a bit disappointed as the infamous Happy Steps were a non threat this year because of all the snow.  The Farewell Burn has gone back to brush and the rocky slide called the Dalzell Gorge was a nonentity as well. sigh.  (Us voyeur mushers really look forward to those areas.)
 All of this leads to fast paced mushing.  Quoting Ally Z's husband in her blog today.

"She will always run the race that "her" dogs can run. What I mean by this is that she doesn't look at Hugh Neff, Lance Mackey or anyone else and say "he or she stayed at Rainy Pass for X amount of time, so I need to leave at that same amount of time." She plans a schedule based on what she thinks her team will be capable of doing, usually 3 different contingencies, and then runs that schedule, watching her dogs to pick what is best for them. I guarantee Aliy isn't trying to be in the lead at this point in the race, not that I think she is complaining! Her dogs and her schedule are allowing her to be at the front!"
This is also true of the best mushers.

My knitting is actually fast paced as well and is contingent on my hands staying unharmed and supple meaning, taking rests before they hurt
My own checkpoints are:

swatch - done
back - done
left front
right front - half done
block each part
sew side and shoulder seams
add sleeves
add edgings
wash and block again
add buttons

However, I was hoping to finish with the top 10. The way this race is shaping up I'll be lucky to finish with the top 20.  Well, in the money is fine too.  And the race isn't over until the Red Lantern passes under the burled arch.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

And we're off!

It's that time again - The first weekend in March is the great start of the Last Great Race - The Iditarod Sled Dog Race from Anchorage to Nome.

Last year the first place team came under the burled arch in Nome in only 8 days.  The saying to remember with this race is "It's not over until its over." Meaning until the Red Lantern team crosses the finish line which is usually the day of or the day after the banquet so about 14 days from the start.

This race is really about the dogs and how they are trained and respond to their musher.  Mushers like Lance Mackey hug, sleep, and kiss their dogs and the responses from them are amazing.  While other mushers can be more business like, it's my opinion that the dogs are really in charge.  We have seen teams that refuse to go and nothing can change their minds until they do. Mushers like Dee Dee Jonrowe are really in touch with her dogs so may take extra time to rest if she feels some of them need that.
This is Derby from Dallas Seavey's Team.
More photos and stories can be found at the Anchorage Daily News.

The Ceremonial Start was yesterday, the real start is today at 2pm AST, meaning 4 hours earlier than east coast time.  I belong to a group on Ravelry called Iknitarod.  We follow the race together online. Many of our members are sled dog enthusiasts or live in AK so the exchanges are informative and enjoyable.
Here are the abbreviated rules for this year's challenge.

  • The 2012 Iknitarod will begin at the same time as the start of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race: 10:00am Alaska Standard Time on Saturday, March 3.
  • The 2012 Iknitarod will end at the same time as the Iditarod, the moment when the last musher and dog team cross under the burled arch in Nome, Alaska. This last place finisher in the Iditarod wins an award known as the Red Lantern.
  • Participants may work in the fiber art(s) of their choice. 
  • In order to be entered in the drawing, participants much post/share the completed project(s) in this stickied “Finished Objects 2012” thread. Please tag your pieces “Iknitarod-2012” so we can see them all together. It’s fine if finished objects are unblocked, but it must be clear that they’re completed. Projects shared or completed after Iditarod has awarded the Red Lantern will be disqualified.
  • Iknitarod participants may either attempt a start-to-finish piece of work OR may attempt to complete work(s) in progress. Obviously, participants are operating on their honor here. We encourage participants to choose projects that are sufficiently challenging and to otherwise push themselves and their skills in their chosen fiber art. If you’re working to complete a work in progress, we hope that you’ll have at least half way to go; it wouldn’t be very sporting to have nothing left but a bind off row when someone else is working to complete a cardigan.  The bottom line is that participants should enjoy the challenge and if you’ve finished a piece and feel like you’ve met the spirit of the challenge, enter it in this thread.
  • Iknitarod participants may finish and share as many objects as they wish, but each person will be entered in the prize drawing only once. Once the last musher reaches Nome, Iknitarod moderators will close the FO thread and use a random number generator to select a winner. The winner will be announced in the Iknitarod group and that person will be contacted by the mods.

    And this is my Ravelry posting this morning.
    I really really wanted to spin up some Sled Dog and start a new project for this challenge. BUT…….. last night I took myself in hand. I already have too many UFO’s for comfort. Narrowed down the decision to 3 in process. Knocked out the socks as they are already about half done. Then it was between a complicated gorgeous shawl for my granddaughter and a sweater for my mother. The sweater won out as I can do parts of it socially while the shawl takes most of my attention.
    I was 13 inches into the back of the sweater by the time the Ceremonial Start finished. Not half as there is still both fronts, the short sleeves and the edging to do. So that is my Challenge - Mom’s Sunflower Sweater. Have never yet completed a sweater in under 2 weeks so this will be interesting. Maybe I will hallucinate from yarn fumes and lack of sleep instead of wilderness and lack of sleep.
    Now just above the armholes.