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Saturday, April 30, 2011

TheQueen gets her kicks on Route 66 (VERY long, picture laden post)

It's funny the things that will get you traveling – the romance or mystery or curiosity that pulls you out of your routine and off on an adventure to parts unknown. 1985 and 6 were particularly happy years in my life and about that time Willie Nelson et al came out with that song about the highwayman, sailor and dam builder. I remember LD and I learning all the words and singing along with it whenever it came on the radio. I was particularly struck by the verse about the dam builder, something about all that massive effort in human building, the hubris, the hopefulness, the crazy belief that man could harness nature – moved me deeply. In some ways I am attracted to that aspect of humanity and in some ways I'm repelled. Ever since then I've had this little flame of curiosity about the Hoover Dam. Not a yearning to see it, like the pull of the Grand Canyon, but certainly a desire to see something so enormous, conceived by human brains and built by human hands. That desire tipped the scales balancing the port-of-entry destinations in favor of Las Vegas over Phoenix. I'm still not sure Phoenix wouldn't have been a nicer experience, but I know I'd have skipped the Hoover Dam had we chosen it and I'm glad I got the chance to see this colossal structure.

On this first day of real touring we didn't ask any directions, just drove on down 93 and suddenly we were over the Mike O'Callaghan– Pat Tillman Memorial bridge, named for a Nevada governor and the Arizona Cardinals football player who was killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan. We U-turned and entered the dam site where we got picked up for a random car inspection. It was all so friendly, though, with the officials telling us all about the great things to see, both from the bridge and at the dam itself that it didn't feel like an invasion. Besides, we were driving an unfamiliar car and asked the guard, who looked at hundreds of cars, if he knew where all the secret buttons were. (We never did find one that popped the trunk.)

Then it was out onto the pedestrian walk, to take in the enormous views. Vast. Enormous. Staggering. Distant. These are words I'll be using all the time in describing this trip. My own world, which is rich and deep and lush and full, highlights the huge contrast between here and there. 

The dam was gigantic. I'm glad to say that I didn't have any issues with vertigo, either here or anywhere else there were railings, on this trip. Instead I could move about freely enjoying these soaring views. We walked to the end of the bridge into AZ and back, snapping photo after photo. Then it was on down to the dam itself, still enormous and completely embellished with Art Deco touches, sculpture, statuary.

The temperature was rising all the time and I wished for shorts. I had packed for Grand Canyon weather which had been promised as cool, with highs in the 60's, but here at the NV/AZ border it was hot. And of course, I spilled coffee on one of the two short sleeved shirts I had with me. The pale one. So I couldn't wear it again. Happily, the weather dot com guys hadn't mislead me and I never again longed for briefer clothing. But the WIND! Oh the wind. From this day on it blew and blew and blew – sometimes so hard it nearly knocked me down. And I will tell you – the guide books recommend a broad brimmed hat – but they don't say anything about having one you can tie on. The wind out there will blow the skin off a lizard so take a hat with a chin strap or you'll have to spend all your time holding your hat onto your head – at the best of times an irritation, but on a cliff edge with a 4,000 foot drop, not fun. That's a place you don't want to be suddenly grabbing for anything.

Of course, it wouldn't be TheQueen if there weren't also lots of photos of the wild flowers along the way. Some photos were snapped by the highway, some in little crevices in parking areas.

We had an amazing drive across NW AZ. The mountains near the Hoover Dam were dark brown rock broken by flat crystalline planes often guarded on top by a rock palisade. We even got a glimpse of the Colorado River along the way!

We continued down 93 till we got to Kingman AZ, a modest little city of small stucco houses. Some were empty, but many had pretty serescaped yards. I couldn't really tell by driving through what the economy was but the people were friendly. A pleasant lady on the street gave us directions to a grocery store where we stocked up on fruit and nuts and bottled water. It was a Safeway – a long mourned grocery chain that left VA 3 decades ago during the evil corporate raiding of the 1980's.

It was here that we picked up Rt. 66 – Historic Rt. 66 – the route BD took in 1964 when he hitchhiked back from CA. It was wonderful hearing him reminisce about that trip. I've heard many of the stories before, but seeing these place for myself added freshness to their telling. And the landscape was ever fascinating to me – so different from my world – so, as I said above, vast, enormous, open, empty! In fact – that emptiness was one of the things I never really got used to about Az. Hence – a snapped photo of Proof of Habitation!
And then there were the Burma Shave signs. My favorite was:

30 days
Hath September
April June and
The speed offender

The mountains gave way to flat land, always with scrubby growth, mostly of juniper bushes; first low, then taller, then as tall as the cedars we have here in VA. A railroad paralleled us most of the time 

It was here that I began to sketch what I could see as we drove along.

We got to Williams AZ around 3 and checked into the Grand Canyon Hotel – a darling old-time place that made me feel like I had stepped onto the set of Gunsmoke. This hotel was another important spur that got me out to see the GC, for it was in that AAA article that I first heard of it. They recommended the hotel for its wild west charm and they were right on the money. Tiny quaint rooms, sloping floors, but also a cozy lounge in the back where they had an internet computer for their guests. Reasonably priced. Friendly staff. Very sweet.

We walked through the historic area, starting with the information center in an old train depot. Here we picked up an AZ DeLorme's, our atlas of choice whenever we go rambling. Here, also we heard that it was National Park week and all entry fees were suspended! What luck, since almost everywhere we wanted to go was a NP. Williams plays a lot on the auto themed Rt. 66 tourist attraction – something that actually leaves me unmoved – though I did snap photos. We took lots of photos – 507 of them after I'd deleted the ones I knew were fuzzy or bad! I even got the obligatory library photo and this one of me by a wild west mural.
I promise - I'll load the bulk of the photos on and keep future posts a more reasonable size. 

Williams is where you can take an old-time passenger train into the GC and they have a museum built around a Fred Harvey Hotel where they stage a gunfight every morning at 9 a.m. We were in Willilams twice but never at the right time to catch the gunfight. That's the trouble with traveling. There's never enough time to see it all.

Armed with our atlas, we drove around town to get a feel for the place and at the end of one street we turned left towards Perkinsville to take the loop around the Dogtown Reservoir campgrounds – an enormous Ponderosa pine forest. This was the first I'd seen of these tall straight trees – and in fact, it was the first we saw of anything besides juniper shrubs, which seem to top out at 12-15 feet. But the roads! Oh wicked DeLorme! You misled us entirely, drawing this treacherous pathway with your parallel red lines, indicating a major connector! It was worse than the loop road on the Tamiami Highway in south FL – so full of chuck holes and wash outs. All that was missing was a rattlesnake. And of course, by the time the road became really daunting we were deep in the forest and had no idea if the road ahead was going to get better or worse. We poked along at about 3 miles an hour, fingers crossed, and as you can see, made it out alright. And there was a magic moment when we got out of the car to wander through the forest, serenaded by the unique tune these pine trees sing when the wild west wind tears through them. The ground was very spongy even though it wasn't wet. It had a spring to it that was something I'd never felt before in a forest. There were also a few flowers, growing low against the ground, but no other undergrowth at all, letting in sunlight in a way that dappled the shade. It was an entirely different sort of forest from my thickly grown pines.

Dusk was falling as we got back to town. There were lots of lively places to eat but the visitor book we got at the center had a coupon for Rosies Cantina so we decided to walk across the railroad tracks and eat there. Too bad for us, too. The empty parking lot should have warned us that the food would be a disappointment. We were the only customers and while the food wasn't bad, it was the first Mexican food I've ever eaten that had absolutely zero spices in it. Well. Maybe there was salt – but imagine – no garlic – no oregano or cumin – not even any cilantro! Without a doubt, it was the blandest Mexican food I've ever eaten. The portions were enormous – we took a box away – but bleh. In fact, we never once got any good Mexican food out in AZ. Unlike the divine and unforgettable taco we picked up in Doge City, KA 10 years ago, all the Mexican food we got in AZ was heavy, doughy and bland. Imagine!

Tired and ready for sleep, we headed back to our cozy room and collapsed into bed, knowing that tomorrow we'd finally see the Grand Canyon.

Friday, April 29, 2011

TheQueen conquers TheWest

Two years ago the AAA travel magazine ran an article about visiting the Grand Canyon in springtime, with a plug for The Grand Canyon Hotel in Williams Arizona – an authentic wild west hotel within walking distance from the train station where you can take a passenger train up into the canyon and maybe stay at one of the lodges in the park. The image stayed with me for over a year and last fall I announced far and wide that I was going to the Grand Canyon this spring. Thinking that if I said so, it would happen, I talked a good bit about it with friends and family but the work of putting together a cross country plane trip that included hiking my tricky ankles over 16 miles of rim trail and, maybe, even down some of the switchbacks into the canyon, was a slightly frightening experience for me. As Christmas time drew near, thoughts of long distance vacationing started to fade. It's so much easier to talk big than to do big. Thankfully, Santa stuffed maps and guidebooks to Arizona and the GC into our stockings on Christmas eve and I felt I couldn't let the old saint down. After all, if he believed in me I really ought to live up to his opinion, so in the new year I began to check out flights on TheInternets.

The guide books were full of travel temptations. Did I want to try the Skywalk? (no. too $$$) How many pueblos could I see and could I actually go inside one? What about standing on a corner in Winslow Arizona? Where did I want to fly in? Flagstaff? Phoenix? And could I talk ThePrince into flying anywhere? Two years ago C had taken a group of St. Margaret girls out to Arizona to see the northern half of the state and I pumped her for information and advice.

“Fly into Las Vegas – you'll have more flight options and get cheaper tickets” was her most valuable advice – because the price difference between Flatstaff and Las Vegas is about $150 per ticket!! This was good news for a fairly inexperienced traveler. I don't usually pop the dollars for pricey traveling. ThePrince and I have enough fun driving around Virginia – or maybe points south – we are unabashed prideful southerners and we get along really well in a car, mostly because Himself is so entertaining and patient and willing to do most of the driving. But something about the Grand Canyon was really tugging on my heart – or even more deeply – my soul. Something about the bigness, the different-ness, the complete change from my own precious green Virginia world was calling to me, saying that I had to make room in my heart for Other.

ThePrince left all the planning of this trip to me – said so up front - not because he didn't want to go, but because he understood that this was important for me to do and eventually I managed to plan out a trip that looked right for us. Lots of nervous postponing of any actual commitment took place, which cost me a hotel room at one of the lodges within the park itself but that was a small issue we easily worked around. In early March I bought plane tickets for April 20-29 and reserved a rental car. In April I booked rooms for the first few nights, leaving the latter part of the trip open so that we could adjust our itinerary to suit what we found out there and how energetic we felt.

I bought a sketchbook/notebook for the trip and a 4G memory card for my camera, selected some delicious sock yarn for airplane knitting, checked the weather dot com guys for GC weather reports, booked Jack into a kennel and bespoke the services of my 5th grade neighbor to feed and look after Priss and Socks. On Wednesday the 20th we parked our car in the long term parking lot at Richmond International Airport and began the adventure.

My goodness airplanes are squishy cramped places. I know I'm no sylph, but I wonder just who they think is going to fit into these tiny seats. On the flight from Richmond to Dallas-Ft. Worth I drew the middle seat, the tightest spot on a plane. Fortunately my aisle seat mate was a knitter flying off to visit her granddaughter for Easter and we could talk addi turbos and worming chenille while BD watched the ground below from his window seat. At the D-FW airport the airline offered $300 travel vouchers to any 2 who could take a later flight – but we didn't take them up. I thought about it, but we were getting a car and driving another 30 miles, not just taking ground transport to a Vegas hotel. This was the nerve wracking part of a trip when everything was unknown. Instead, I got the window seat on the flight into Las Vegas – over hazy skies. The irrigation circles in west TX and NM were very unsettling. Man made green in an arid land always makes me a little uncomfortable and we flew over hundreds of miles of green circles in brown, grey or rusty red squares. My first view of the GC was from above, looking through the airplane window at what appeared to be crumpled butcher paper, but was, in fact, mile high rock formations.

Las Vegas airport had almost no one to help you get around. There was an enormous information desk with nobody inside to advise. It was hard to find the rental car place, but eventually we did. Every clerk there spoke with an accent – not a Nevada accent. It was a hectic time getting out of there and horribly more expensive than I'd planned for – because we forget to arrange for our car insurance to cover the rental car – a stupid over site on our part. Both of us know better. Still and all – we got our car and got out of the foreign parking lot and on the way down to Boulder City. I had "oh so" thoughtfully gotten map directions from Google Map – only – duh – I didn't have the correct address for the hotel and instead got directions to the Boulder City town offices. Duh. Thank heavens for cell phones – and for the very darling desk clerk at the Hacienda Casino a scant 4 miles from the Hoover Dam. They were right on highway 93.

And so, in the darkening sky of eastern Nevada, we pulled into our first stop, our first exposure to a casino, and a big comfy bed. The hotel was not fancy – and it surprised the heck out of me by not providing a hair dryer, since I have finally cut my umbilical connection to my own and travel without one these days. But they had a wonderful buffet dinner that was still serving at 8:30, when we were ready to eat. I am not a gambler – I wouldn't even waste a nickel on a slot machine. I have much great good luck in my life, but I don't have that kind of luck – the raffle winning kind, the spinning wheel sort. My luck is more to do with finding 10 different flowers blooming in the desert than in playing fast and loose with my money. But it was fun to walk through the gaming rooms to hear the patter of the croupiers and watch people engrossed in play. And that was our first day of the trip. We were gone 9 days and I'll be back tomorrow with more tales of TheQueen making cozy with a land that is Not Virginia.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Love me some Martha Beck

Don't try to stop the waves of events and emotions; surf them. Allow upheaval and unhappiness, and you reduce their power.—Martha Beck, Daily Coach Tips

I signed up for these daily tips which pop up in my email every morning. They're always worth reading but now and then, like a horoscope, they hit the bullseye in my life. Today they did with uncanny precision. Yet again I'm off to Richmond to lend what help I can to the Daddy situation. He is not happy - he is very old - he is as mean as a snake - he is queering every chance he has of a dignified, comfortable, even safe old age, with his vicious tongue, his flailing arms, and his ability to invent a history that is not true.


But. That's where he is right now and has been for almost a week. Heck, for a month! I've spent the past few days reminding myself that the way is peace; the way is solutions - not scolding; the way is through allowing, not trying to bend something to my will. It's actually a kind of detachment that almost feels like not caring. But I do care. I just don't own the suffering of it. I am not required to succeed but I am required to be present, to be open, and to be ready to offer every idea I have. I must be ready to come back when the next push is needed. 

But by golly - I sure plan on leaving it all behind me today, when I head home.

Added just moments later:

Oh la! Look what my horoscope is for today!!!

Ask big questions and don’t be shy about hurting a few feelings today — you need to get to the bottom of whatever is really going on with your people. Things are going to be weird until you figure this out.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

37 years and counting

Another year together - and I am feeling just lazy enough to want to cut & paste a post from the past - only - I've never really posted anything repeat-worthy for this happy day. We certainly have had some lovely celebrations. I remember discovering a yellow violet at Westmoreland St. Park one year, and one year we had a picnic in the woods between Robert's Landing and our place - a spot I had never seen before - reached through a woodland path that BD and LD had carved without my knowledge. There was a precious anniversary spent in Charleston SC when LD was at Nuke Power school back in oh - 1999 I guess. Oh la! A dozen years ago.

There aren't any traditional gifts associated with the 37th anniversary. A Contemporary or Modern Thirty seventh anniversary gift has a theme of alabaster - according to some website I found out on Google. We don't do the gift thing, though we do eat out.  I've partied so much this past week - I can't imagine wanting anything special today - but I can promise you ... time will NOT be spent in the kitchen. Except for a pancake breakfast, because I want to try pancakes with rice flour.

It rained cats 'n' dogs yesterday, so I'd like to go over to White Oak Swamp and see how deep the pools are. Taking the camera since so much will have leafed out since last weekend. And BD wants to go for a sail - a possibility if there is any breeze. 

But hunting around for wedding themed web trivia I discovered this luscious looking bride & groom:

Yum! Chocolate covered apples? oh my.

And here are old friends from my childhood. It's a lot to take in, remembering that I was a little girl when it was a once a week Friday evening cartoon show. La - times have moved on!

Friday, April 15, 2011

You can find anything on the Internets

Well. That's what it says. I could probably use all of the attraction and expression and love and organization (what my horoscope said) I can get cause we're having More Issues with Daddy right now. I've never needed to be right anyway - just for things to work. Both sister and I are picking our way through the WWII PTSD minefield that is my dad really really close to, but not at, the end of life. Thank goodness she brings different gifts to the table so that combined, we are something of an arsenal. He would break a single daughter and end up a ward of the state - which, were it not for the need to care for Mama also, we would be tempted to let happen.

Mr.H promises me that I'm at a turning point where I can choose the path to one of several futures - Let us hope I am wise enough to choose the cleanest, most honest and happy one.

Hmm. What other extra help can I dig up .... OH! Yes! Law of Attraction! Yup Yup - let me see if I can draw those good things to me by not obsessing all day, about how awful it all is.

Instead I'll concentrate on how Friday-ish it is. Yeah. Love me some Fridays.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

After the rain

 Storms have been rolling through Virginia all month - most welcome after such a dry winter - though - perhaps the cold temperatures that have accompanied them are less so. The days often start out chilly, turn warm and then cool off with a shower - like Tuesday did. And yet - well before sunset the storm passed on to the east - Here is the side yard, with departing shower, as the sun began to peep from beneath it's blanket of clouds.

 The East woods, still a little thin of leafy cover, showed off the other colors of spring - muted hues too fine and delicate to possibly be confused with their richer heavier autumnal glory.

 I couldn't resist trying to capture the raindrops as the sun glittered on leaf and blossom. New growth is everywhere. I've done much to encourage the spread of violets across the yard, down the lane and even into the woods. I have always called them my "Weed of Choice". 

One other thing we have in abundance, this showery month of April, is wet dogs. Both of these are little honey helping dogs - what we call them when I am cooking - for they like to lie in front of major appliances to offer assistance with any floor licking duty that might come along.

Notice how there is no mention of the What's the Point Scarf and Mitts? Of course you do - because I'm almost finished with my project and so I am in full delaying mode. The only thing I can think of right now is casting on something new. You've never heard of such behavior? No. Of course not. Heh Heh. They will be done by early next week, I am sure. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

"What's the Use of Wond'rin'?"

I watched The King and I on Sunday night - one of the many Rogers & Hammerstein musicals that wove their tuneful values through my childhood. A DVD collection of them has been re-released, all sparklingly remastered and I bought them for the library. We were a singing bunch of kids. My sisters and I serenaded the house with Broadway tunes all the time - though the video clip in my memory is of we 3 younger ones clearing the dinner table as we pranced and capered - so perhaps this only took place throughout my teens. Besides, it is likely that mama wouldn't let me touch the stereo before I was 12 or 13.

The fairy princess within has always drooled over dresses with great bell skirts and K&I had it's share of them. Watching it again I tried to calculate how many yards were in Debra Kerr's skirts - 10? 15? Lordy - they were enormous.

I admit, I still flutter a bit at the thought of those Scarlett O'Hara skirts and felt it was just too bad when the pulled back bustle dress took their place. Of course, the thought of moving through the day in those clothes smacks of a bizarre sort of torture - but there you have it - beauty, nor fashion, doesn't come cheap.

But what's been sort of nagging me since Sunday is how the theme of women's creepy hopeless, helpless love for domineering, stupid, mean, even criminal men, threads though the Broadway Musical. When I watched K&I as a girl, the parallel between King Mongkut of Siam and my dad were comical - only, it seemed as if King Mongkut was a little easier to deal with. But the women all sing that if you just wait it out long enough he'll do something wonderful.  Which my own mother frequently urged us to do. 

And what about Julie in Carousel? What's the use of wondering if he's good or if he's bad - he's your fella and you love him and that's that? so you love him even though he's so stupid he thinks the only way to earn a living is to rob someone? 

Or Nancy's co-dependent wail  As long as he needs me for Bill Sykes, as bad-news a boyfriend you could find. Shudder. Seems to me she needs intervention and he needs to go to jail.

But I suspect this exhortation to put up with a jerk, in all its musical glory, wrapped in silken hoop skirts and padded sleeve puffs, had a lot to do with the woman's movement. At some point a girl has to shout ENOUGH! And, of course, the backlash is modern cinema (and fiction) where all the men are good looking looser jerks or harmlessly gay, thus freeing the butt-kicking girls from having to relate honestly or deeply with anybody. 

Yeah. I know. It's fiction. But literature, even cinematic literature complete with catchy lyrics, is strung on the important themes of its day and somehow I don't relate to either the eternal maternal forgiveness of the 50's or the tight skirted scowling of today. And that, my dears, is why I don't try to write fiction. 

Monday, April 11, 2011

Macro-zoom and the promised progress shots

P1000123First the promised progress shots - I can't call it a finished object since you can see there are ends to be woven in - and in fact, I'm going to rip out the 2 stitch i-cord bind off around the wrist cuff end because it's too loose. Besides, there's another mitt to knit. But I did promise photos so ...voila!


I love how the German Herringbone stitch makes a point - which is centered over my middle finger (almost - I'll do better with the right mitt).


I took advantage of that drawing up that happens whenever you knit 3 together to create the thumb gussett. I did one full set of the 6 row pattern and 4 more rows before doing the same 2 stitch i-cord bind off. I like it alright - but - I think I might try doing this stitch pattern with either fewer stitches or a different sequence of rows so that I can pull that second triangle into a point on the next mitt.

And now - Macro-zoom Photos! And a confession. I have been singularly unlucky with digital cameras. I have actually lost 2 of them and at multiples of $100 each, this has been a very very painful experience. Nevertheless - I am addicted to owning a digital camera. When I don't have one I get grumpy and even weepy. I have digital camera withdrawal. So - when I lost my beloved Panasonic ZS1 in March and after I began to get the tremors, I bought a new one - the ZS5 - which is not their newest but it was in my price range.

Wild Pansy
It's just slightly different from the old one - and I'm learning how to use its features. After a good 2 dozen unsatisfactory close ups - I discovered how to turn on the Macro-zoom and take the kind of flower photos I've been wanting to take. I see now, of course, that I'd set the picture size waaaaaay too large - okay - still learning. But what a fun learning curve.


I love you too, Jack

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Oh My - Thank you Margaret!

Thank you for nominating me for a Stylish Blogger Award. Margaret is my Canadian Virgo Cyber Twin who's blog Margaret Blank, Fibre Aritst: One-of-a-kind textile art  is chock a block full of the most beautiful stitchery - knitting, sewing, fiber dyeing. We've been buddies for nigh on to a decade now, watching each other as we've grown as artists; encouraging, sharing, and frequently laughing at how our lives parallel.  She is an ISTJ and I am an ENFP - so on the Meyers Briggs scale we're complete opposites - which I think, being the that I am, makes our friendship a perfect compliment. 

And the deal with this award is that I must share 7 things readers might not know about me. Now this is a challenge, Little Miss Extrovert that I am, and as old as this blog is, I can't imagine there's much left to tell about TheQueen. But I shall try. 

1. How my blog got it's name - which isn't exactly fresh information. Still, if  you're new to TheCastle, you might think that a name like this signifies I'm just the Queen of Arrogance. But the name "Bess" hasn't been used since the Truman administration - although it suits me to an absolute T. I once took a class from the world's most unctuous and snotty psychology professor who talked down to the students to such a monumental degree it was hard to sit still. He particularly disliked me and refused to learn my name. Mind now, I'm a Front Row Sitter and always participate in class. The third time he gave me a sneer and asked  "What's your name, again?" I put on my coldest, deadliest, Madame Defarge glare and said "It's Bess. Like the Queen". The name stuck.

2. I am a Lucid Dreamer.  If I don't like what's going on in a dream I can almost always tell it's just a dream and change the story line. Of course, sometimes I let the dream unfold, knowingly, just to see what might happen. I've always looked on sleep and dreaming as recreational activities. 

3. I have an uncanny knack for guessing the plot of movies and television shows. I suspect it's an ability to recognize a certain class of patterns because I can also do that with  music (as long as it's tonal music) Certain things happen in a story line and I can tell what's going to happen next, or how it will all turn out. Thank goodness, BD admires and enjoys this trait - we even stop DVD's and he'll ask me what happens next  as a game. Of course, the cinema tends to deal in cliches so maybe this isn't such a wonder, but I also have to keep my mouth shut when I'm at movie with friends. Most people don't like the assurance of knowing how it will turn out  having the story spoiled.

4. I don't like a lot of contemporary  fiction  which seems to be filled with bad tempered bitchy women and weak sniveling men. This is tough, since I'm a librarian and buy a lot of that stuff. But every time I use tax payer's money to buy it, I feel guilty.

5. I love Barbie - at least, I loved playing with my Barbie ... back when she cost a day's pay and her clothes were more expensive than my own. Of course, my Barbie was a Russian spy, a mountain climbing photographer for National Geographic, a star of the British stage and a corporate leader of a Fortune 500. Nobody ever made her do homework or clean her room. She could also fly.  Interestingly, my Barbie was never a science girl. Neither am I, of course. Nor was I ever jealous of Barbie's figure and I never aspired to it. I don't think I ever thought about it, actually.  She was just that illusive goddess I longed to be: A Grown Up! I will gladly play Barbie with little girls whenever they ask. Love me some Barbie. 

6. I love math. Applied math. Applied-to-real-life situations math as in:

If I am 40 inches around and I'm getting 5 stitches to the inch and I want to insert a 16 stitch lace panel and 4 cables that are 3 over 3 stitches, how many stitches do I cast on?
 Sure I'm not popular in high school, but that only lasts 4 years. I will be cool as a grown up - which lasts 50 or 60 years. What's 4 years against 60?
OR My Favorite
 If Bess gets 5 stitches to the inch 
She has a 24" circular needle 
She is subscribed to 4 knitting magazines 
How many hours will it take to explain the 10 balls of cashmere on the VISA bill?

To me, math is like crayons - it's the building block of so many wonderful things.

7. I talk too much. What? You hadn't noticed? natter natter natter.

Now the hard part: to nominate (only) 3 other bloggers for this award. 

Erica's Fillyjonk's Progress is a daily favorite of mine. We both read and write blogs, first of all, for the joy of words, though both of us do include images in our blogs. She is a science girl so it's fascinating to me to hear her point of view about things. Her whimsical knitting projects are always a delight.

Clara's Window .... from Clara of Knitters Review, of course. Clara is the author of KBoy and KBow and her latest book - KBos - all from Potter Craft - Random House's craft book division. Her blog, though, is a tiny peek into the rest of her soul - a soul of unusual charm and artistic perspective. 

C's Bossy Little Dogs is a daily must-read for me. Of course, now we are friends so it's only a part of the way we communicate and share and stuff. Our friendship has actually moved on from cyber to IRL. She was my roomie the last time I went to Maryland Sheep and Wool and though she is a knitter and fiber buddy and that's how I got started reading her blog, I continue to read it for her style - for the way her sharp eye focuses on the absurd or the unusual or the trenchant - and the crystal clear way she can share what that eye sees in words worth reading.

Erica, Clara and C can choose to accept this award or not. Promise. My feelings won't be hurt if you don't have time to play along with this. But if you do, please link back to this post, blog 7 lesser-known things about you to share, and nominate 3 more bloggers.

Hugs to you all - and there will be What's the Point Mitts photos tomorrow!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

What's with Spring?

Well into April we're still having cold days and high winds, punctuated with random moments of hot humidity. We have a fire in the stove and yet the weather dot com guys promise a high of 90 on Monday. 90! Ugh. I resent that temperature in the summertime.

This hasn't seemed to bother the intrepid ones - like my flowering crab apple - who only flowers in the years when Mercury is in retrograde ... oh don't get me started on that! ... This year my pretty tree, surrounded by periwinkle and deadfall, has thrown out thousands of cherry red blossoms. I'm still moving daffodils, though not with great diligence, from the old garden to the lane. There are iris I want to save and a few peonies, maybe one or two other things - and I need to take clippers into the shrubbery and attack those wicked honeysuckle vines at their stems. I see it will be a long springtime chore - but it is possible there will still be some good tomato plants left at the garden centers by the time I have tilled up the soil. If I could have fresh tomatoes and basil this summer I would count myself rich.

I've been fiddling with the What's the Point mitts - yes there will be enough yarn to make them - and trying to figure out how to make the opening for the thumbs in this complex 15 stitch rib. I tried knitting in the round, but couldn't figure out where thumb the breaks should be. I tried knitting it flat, with the intention of seaming up the sides, but ended up with the swooping purl triangle being slashed in half. This morning, as I prepared my early morning pot of chocolate flavored coffee, I had a breakthrough! I've been trying to use this wide rib for the whole of the mitt - when really the only place it matters -or even shows - is across the back of the hand. I can center that lovely rib panel on my middle finger and switch to something plainer for the sides (including thumb openings) and palm! duh. I still want a rib, but I'll play around with 1x1, 2x2, 5x2 or even a combination of them all.

I ought to have a photo by tomorrow.

Yea Saturday!

Friday, April 8, 2011


But not yet blocked. You can see that the grafting is not perfect - there are stitches going in two different directions so the match up is half a stitch off. I don't think it will matter when worn, though. Back neck seams are definitely not the part people will look at. I haven't yet woven in all the loose ends - and blocking will make a difference too.
Late in the evening I cast on the mitts, slowly adjusting to knitting a familiar stitch pattern in the round instead of flat. Now to decide how I'll treat the thumb opening. 

But most of all - doing the Happy Friday Dance. Wishing the same to you all.

Thursday, April 7, 2011


No. Not the graft associated with bad bankers and politicians. The kind that gets two pieces of knitting to play nicely with each other. Now - I have lots of experience with Kitchener Stitching sock toes, but they are always in stockinette stitch - all knit stitches. My What's the Point scarf has both knits and purls and I'd like to make the to pieces seam together as gracefully as possible. It doesn't have to be an invisible seam; just as smooth and tidy as I can make it. I'm scouring youtube for videos of different seaming techniques - here's one I want to try - but I don't want to suck up bandwidth here at home, so I'm embedding it now - and viewing it later. So. It's not an endorsement at this point. I'll pass final judgement later today.

The happy news is there is yarn left over - maybe enough for those fingerless mitts. I'll need to knit the equivalent of 15-17 more scarf repeats. Let us cross our needles and make a wish that there's that much yarn remaining.

And now it is Thursday - that glorious day when you can scurry about getting done all the stuff you didn't do earlier in the week. I feel like I can hear Tim Gunn say "Designers? You have till Midnight Tonight and a few hours tomorrow morning...."

So I will just have to ...

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Blue Period

Plugging along on my What's the Point scarf - with only 3 more pattern repeats to go - 18 rows! And then the grafting at the center line. Fingers crossed that there is enough yarn left to knit a pair of fingerless mitts. This stitch pattern just begs to be knit into mitts.
Here's a closeup of the pattern - unblocked - and pretty enough to leave in it's puffy state. I'm only going to block it because I want those points at the ends to be sharp and precise.
And after this - I am thinking it's time for a pair of socks. This is another Spirit Trail version of Suna in the Falling Leaves colorway.

As for what else is going on in the Life-0-TheQueen - ahh - it's all juicy elderly parent stuff. If I weren't so exhausted by it I'd write a sharp witty satire about the job of care-giving adult children. Besides - my own turn is coming - decades away, I hope - but inexorably nonetheless. On the grand scale of life, yesterday was a plus - and that is enough for me.

Spring continues to green things up, even if it is cold outside.