Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Sorry, No Content Tonight

Something awful tried to take over my computer tonight, flooding me with death-doom-and-despair messages and trying to get me to spend "USD 74.5" to get the advanced fix-it-level tool to make all my problems go away. It looked slightly off, if you know what I mean, so I called tech support, and fortunately my brother* was available.

*If you don't have someone in your family who knows more about computers than you do**, I advise you to shop around for smart, patient friends because it's so worth it.
**Assuming that you know as little as I do, that is. Perhaps you are the one in your family, in which case bless you.

Anyway, we tried wiggling the rabbit ears and whacking it upside the head, and I think it may be okay now, but to be honest I'm ready to turn it off and let it rest from the whole ordeal.

Or maybe that's me who needs to rest. Hasta mañana, hopefully!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Good Weekend. You, Too, I Hope?

I've had a lovely lazy weekend. Oh, I did laundry, cleaned up the kitchen, ran a few errands, but I also did a lot of sitting on the couch reading, and it was good.

I had planned to write at more length tonight, but time is getting on, and I have one of these waiting for me:

Actually right now he looks more like this:

There's also one of these, but of course she's with him, not waiting for me.

Still, places to go, laps to be. You understand.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Nervous Knitting mode

During the third period of game six on Wednesday, I got to the point where I simply couldn't watch the game, couldn't look at the Bruins not winning. I picked up the sweater I'm knitting and looked at that instead. I got to where the first sleeve breaks off from the body!

I listened to the rest of the game, until the Bruins had conclusively not won, then turned off the TV and knit a few more rounds in the quiet before going to bed.

Tonight is game seven, so it's even more so. I picked up the sweater in the first period. And now it's the second intermission, there's no score, and the sleeve is past the elbow.

(Pictures of it this weekend, I hope.)

And though the Bruins are playing fairly well, I'm not really enjoying this game.


Thursday, May 26, 2011

What a Difference a Week Makes

Last week: I was wrapping up the temp job.
This week: I started the permanent job.

Last week: The weather was cold for the time of year, in the 50s, and it kept raining. And raining.
This week: Can you say 70s? And 80s? And sun? I can!

Last week: The Bruins lost one game, but won two.
This week: The Bruins won one, lost one, and play tomorrow. Looking at everything else that's happened, it seems they have to win tomorrow.

And by that I mean, they have to win tomorrow. If they're going to make me stay up late, they'd better win!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Quick (and Funny) Hockey Story

Yes the job is still good, yes I'm still tired*, yes the Bruins play tonight and if they win, well, let's hope they win, I'm ready to pass on a game seven for once.

*It's an adjustment, having work to do all day.

In the meantime! Something funny to share from the hockey world. You know how that evangelist who claimed the Rapture would be last Saturday is now saying it will be in October? Well, a minor league team, the Las Vegas Wranglers, has a game that night, so they're having a promotion for it, and calling it Rapture Night.

Best line ever:
"This is a low-risk proposition," said Wranglers president and COO Billy Johnson. "If it doesn't go as planned, it's not the end of the world."
I will be laughing all night about that.

Go Bruins!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

More Brief Than Brief

It's funny how when my brain is this tired, this full of new things, this busy trying to make sense of them, my body falls in line and is exhausted too.

Basically: new job is looking very good. New boss, too. And perhaps this weekend, I will be able to keep my eyes open long enough to expand on that.

Thanks for all the good wishes!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Quick Report: Looks Good

Seeing as I felt more welcomed and valued at this job on day one than I did at my last job after seven months? It looks good.

And given that the day had far more boring to it (tax forms, Word 2007 training) than scary (what is he talking about? is that even English?), it beats the last three first days I've had. So that looks good.

The commute was good.

I'm having lunch with my new peers tomorrow. That's good.

The Bruins, now? After their disintegration on Saturday, I expected them to come out at the top of their game tonight.

They did not.

They don't look good.

But if I had to choose one of the two to keep being good, I'd pick the job. Sorry, Bruins. I hope you rebound. But I know what's more important.

It's good.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Latest Knitting Update (brought to you by Amtrak)

I mentioned when I was planning this trip that I looked forward to the travel time as knitting time, and that certainly turned out to be true. I got a lot done!

Here we have the second china rose skyp sock, as it was when I began my trip that Thursday morning:

And here is the knot I found in the yarn, just for reference. I undid it and managed a felted join in the station--not my best work, but you can't even tell where it was in the finished sock, which suits me fine.

I got a lot done on the train, and in the car going to Monticello and back, and by Saturday night, watching the Bruins game, I was kitchnering the toe. Here the pair is on Sunday morning, in the sun:

They took two months to make: not a record, but not bad for purse knitting. I can't wait to wear them! (After I show them off at stitch and bitch.)

If the Bruins game had been going my way that night, I might not have started in on the next socks right away, but as the screen was hardly worth watching, away I went. I made a short false start, but quickly ripped and restarted. This time I was doing the handy skyp pattern in the Regia yarn I bought in March, while yarn crawling. Rainbow skyps!

All right, you can't tell in a night-time lighting photo. Here they are Sunday morning:

I found the color patterns very entertaining.

So here is a shot of the sock, on my knee, on the train, Monday morning.

And this is what I had when I got home. Knitting most of an 8-hour trip brings visible progress!

It's a little snug, but it fits!

I like the colors over the heel, too.

I've made eleven pair of socks so far, so these will probably be the twelfth pair I finish (unless it's the exercise bike pair first, but I doubt it). How about that for someone who had to take a class to get the nerve to make them at all?

The only non-sock project I have going right now is the sweater, which I didn't bring on the trip since it's getting a little big to go when I'm traveling light. I have been working on it, though, and tried it on while I was switching from the 29" needle to the 40". I think it might work!

I like the pattern, down the front and along the sleeves.

And the fabric feels good. Onward!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Whew! The DC Trip Story! At Great Length!

The Bruins won last night, Patrice Bergeron was back from his injury and playing like he never got hurt, Tyler Seguin got his own NHL commercial, and today was my last day at the temp job. Basically, it's a good time to be me. (It would be even better if the sun would come out--this morning the Globe validated my feelings that it really has been raining all month--but I feel petty complaining right now. And it did come out this afternoon, kinda sorta. For a little while. Enough to remember why I like it.)

Now, was there something I was going to tell you about? I can't remember ...

Kidding! I'm just kidding. Buckle in, this is a long ride.

So! The trip! Was good!

I went into Boston last Thursday morning the same way I commuted when I worked in the city last year, and the trip went remarkably well: the bus was a little early, but not enough that I missed it, or even had to run for it; neither bus nor subway was super-crowded; I arrived at the train station plenty early, but that meant I didn't have to worry about missing the train so I'm good with that.

I went down to the platform to check out the lay of the land, but a train had just come in and the smoke gave the scene a strong "welcome to London, Mr. Dickens" feel that I didn't appreciate breathing in. So I went back upstairs, and worked on my knitting in the station for a little bit (while successfully resisting the lure of the Dunkin Donuts that was way too close to me)(the diesel smell helped curb my appetite), and incidentally encountered a rare knot in the Socks That Rock yarn. Fortunately this colorway is so mildly differentiated that I couldn't even tell if the colors didn't match on either side of the knot, so no biggie.

When the time was close to the train's arrival, I went down to the platform to wait, and with other potential passengers was taken aback to hear a "final boarding call" for the train that hadn't arrived yet. Uh, what? I refuse to board an invisible train. It pulled in a few minutes later, and I boarded to find that, providentially, I had entered the quiet car. Perfect!

Off topic, regarding the quiet car:
  • On the way back in particular, there was some dissension between those who thought that quiet meant "silent or as close as humanly possible", versus those who thought it should mean merely "not loud". We had a conductor who sounded quite cross at being the arbiter of such things. (Basically he was yelling at everyone that Amtrak isn't the one who decided to have a quiet car, that people wanted it! And so they should respect it! And no using cell phones! Which someone was, because he'd had a complaint! I half expected him to announce that the class would have to stay in for recess if the culprit didn't confess.) Aren't people funny? Which way would you interpret it?
  • An "unclear on the concept" award to the woman who answered her cell phone and said, "I can't talk, I'm on the quiet car ... I'm fine ... We should be in on time...". Ma'am, you know you are talking, right?
  • Kudos, on the other hand, to the woman who took it upon herself to speak to a woman having a cell conversation, and did it so quietly that I couldn't hear what she said (from about three rows away).
Annnyway! The train was less than half full, so I got a double seat to myself (all the way to NYC, as it turned out), which gave excellent room for spreading out, and fidgeting. I worked on my knitting, I took a few pictures, it was very peaceful.

Sculling the river.

City views.

Shiny modern building in the background, tangle of old fashioned wires in the foreground.

In case the conductor forgets which way to go.

If only a pitchforked person would come after the inconsiderate and punish them ... I'd pay to see that.

At one point, I went down to the cafe car and got a sandwich, which was fine if uninspired. I had a funny conversation with the man who worked there, when he told me that I'd made an excellent choice (of a very limited selection, may I say), and I said that I'd expect him to say nothing less. He protested that he wouldn't lie, then admitted that maybe he would ... and for some reason went on to tell me a story about how he was working at a flea market where they sold furniture from foreclosed houses, and he sold a bedroom set to a man who exclaimed that he used to have one just like it! After the customer left, he asked his coworkers why they were laughing, and they said that he'd just sold the man his own bedroom set, he'd been foreclosed on a few months earlier and the furniture was his! Which is a funny idea, if something of a non sequitor considering that I was buying a sandwich. But entertaining, anyway.

We arrived in DC more or less on time, and I made my way to Barnes & Noble to meet my friend M. I was only there about 5 minutes when she arrived, yay! We took the metro to her place (which is beautiful, BTW; I hadn't seen it before), dropped off my things, and went out to dinner, to celebrate my visit AND my new job. It was a really good meal, marred only by the fact that, in Maryland at least, the Cheesecake Factory is putting calorie counts on their menus. Very disturbing information. I think they should consider a lift-the-flap format so you can choose if you want to know or not.

After dinner, we stopped in at Blockbuster to pick up the sixth Harry Potter movie, to refresh our memories before watching Seven Part 1 (which came from my Netflix the day before I left). We went home, talked more, I unpacked, we talked, and finally went to bed. The End for Thursday.

Friday morning I was a little disappointed in myself for not sleeping in; sometimes, the brain wakes me before the body wants to. A little while later, though, when the workmen started jackhammering the sidewalk nearby, I was glad to be already awake! Pretty loud to wake up to. We had some breakfast, packed a lunch, and headed off to Monticello, which as you may know is the home of America's third president, Thomas Jefferson.

As you may recognize if you have access to US currency, Monticello is the shape on the back of the nickel, and given that Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence, he's kind of big in my country's history. M had been wanting to go there for some time, and being a knitter, I certainly don't mind a drive. (It's in Charlottesville, Virginia, a couple of hours away, so this was our road trip day.)

We arrived mid-day, and ate our sandwiches in the car before heading into the visitor center. The weather, as it was all day, was gray and sprinkled rain upon us, but fortunately never developed into more than that. It could have been better, but absolutely could have been worse.

The first openings for the house tour weren't for a couple of hours, but that worked out fine, as we had time to look at everything else before the tour. So we:
  • Watched the short movie at the info center (about ten minutes, and was a good overview for those of us who haven't had a history class in a few years, ahem)(I remember taking a history class in college! Of course, that was 20+ years ago. And given that I wrote a paper on Madame de Staël, I believe that was the French Revolution, not American.);
  • Had a short wander through the gift shop, which was extensive;
  • Looked through the museum, which was small but pretty impressive;
  • Got on the bus up to the house--according to the man at the ticket desk, it's a short walk, but uphill, so more people walk back from the house than up to it (which is what we decided to do);
  • Had a thorough wander through the gardens, which have an extensive vegetable section, and also many lovely flowers in front of the house;
  • Toured through the lower level of the house, which is self-guided, and provided quite a neat view into the way people lived so long ago (a curious mix of luxury and privation, from my POV).
And finally, we got in line for the guided house tour. They really have it down to a science, with tours departing every five minutes: there were a couple of times when we were ready to move to the next room, but had to wait for the next tour to move on first. They don't allow photos on the tour, because some of the display items "don't belong to us," the guide said, which to me sounds like they're stolen! What she meant was that they're on loan, and since they don't own them, I guess it makes photos questionable. (I wouldn't be surprised if they want to keep up the mystery, too, so people keep coming, and who could blame them.)

They are in fact working on re-acquiring Jefferson's possessions, which were all sold after his death to pay his debts. The house was full of interesting stuff, and some of the things he collected were wild, including what looked like a mammoth's jawbone that I would have loved to photograph, but I was good and kept the camera in my bag.

Now is when you say to yourself, but ccr, if you're noting that photos were not allowed on the tour, doesn't that mean that they were allowed elsewhere? And did you take any?

To which I say, you know me, right? I took more than 100 photos, despite the limitations and the weather, and though not all came out well, I have (ahem) a few worth sharing:

The pavilion where he liked to spend time. We decided that it's crying out for a hammock.

The TJ at the top of the marker means it's something that he would have farmed, too.

Just pretty flowers.

I don't know what this is...

...but it's tall.

Know what these are?

I never heard of Tree Onions, myself, but what do I know?

More pretty.

I'm assuming these look more like tennis balls at an earlier stage.

This one's for you, M!

There were many varieties of peas. I had literally just said that it was a good thing they were flowering and didn't have pods or I'd get in trouble ... and I saw pods. (There's one right above the marker.)
I moved away quickly. Tempting, but I didn't want to find out what happens if you help yourself at Monticello.

I liked the tepee staking.

More peas.

More peas.

More peas!

Some trees are not meant to be climbed.


Funky woven-together tree. Trees?

Knitters aren't just everywhere, they're everywhen!

TJ had an ingenious way of getting the wine up from the cellar. According to the tour guide, he didn't want a stream of servers coming in while they were eating, so he developed ways to keep the numbers down.

Sorry it's blurry; the lighting was bad, and the school group distractingly loud. Still, there's the wine, ready to be sent up!

I could just see the horses' heads, turned to see who came to visit.

Gas plant? Really?

This one has a pretty side view...

... but hides its best feature.

It amazes me that the great big flower on the right comes out of the little ball on the left.

The site of a tree that used to be near the door. Apparently a microburst came down and knocked it over.

You can see it was rotted inside. It's amazing that it fell away from the house--the damage it would have done!

We did walk back down to the car, and it was lovely and peaceful (Mum, it reminded me a wee bit of the area around Green Gables), even the graveyard part:

This marker explained something interesting:

The calendar was put forward in 1752?

What did I learn in school, really?

Hugging trees.

Reaching for the sky.

A meadow of green mist.

And for the record, we did stop back into the gift shop, but we did not buy either of these items:

Our drive home was not the straightforward highway route we took down. M's GPS, known as Steve Garmin or just Steve, sent us some totally other way for the first part, which was less traveled and possibly less direct, who knows, but it was far more beautiful, and though Friday night traffic did plague us a bit, it worked out in the end.

Besides, without the route change, I would have missed this: a hunt mural!

We even got to stop at Wegman's to pick up a few things. What a great grocery store; I do wish there was one near me. (There's one opening later this year in Northborough, but at the risk of revealing my stealthy secret location, I will tell you that I live nowhere near Northborough. I'll go if I'm out that way, but not regularly. Maybe on the way back from Webs!)

When we got home, we made Boboli pizzas and watched the movie (M hasn't read all the HP books, so I got to be the expert, which is always fun--pop quiz: who's that? what did he say? why did she do that?), then went to bed. The End for Friday.

Saturday morning, M went off with her running group (training for a marathon!), having previously checked with me that I wouldn't feel abandoned if she did. I had no problem with hanging around, but in fact I managed to sleep until 9! Quite a surprise, but it felt great. We got ourselves ready gradually, and went out to Rockville, MD, where our first stop was a used bookstore, Second Story Books--which, when I heard the name, I thought was second story like the second floor of a building, but no, it's a great name for a used bookstore but not one on the second floor. It's in a huge warehouse and I definitely recommend going if you can. We spent quite a while there, and I took a few more photos:

We also went to see what we thought would be a yarn store, but when it looked completely like a house in a subdivision with no sign of commerce, we passed on by, saying never mind. Time for lunch!

Now here's where I draw a slight blank, and wish I'd taken notes about what we did on which day. I think after lunch we went back to M's, but I have a vague feeling I'm forgetting something (other than Starbucks, ahem). Oh well, continue with confidence: we went back to M's! Read for a while! (I got M hooked on the first Sookie Stackhouse book). Eventually, we worked on dinner (well, M did most of it), then ate it (delicious!), and then we watched the first half of the Harry Potter 7 part 1 movie (7A?), only turning it off so I could watch the Bruins game at 8 (I wish that had turned out better, but at least I got knitting done; I'll go into detail about knitting progress in a separate post). The End for Saturday.

Sunday morning we puttered around, took a walk in her neighborhood so I could take architecture pictures, and then headed over to goosefairy's house, conveniently nearby! Goosefairy's been reading my blog for a few years now, and has sent me books and yarn, so we've already stepped beyond the comment-only stage into the this-is-a-real-person stage. I haven't met a blog-friend IRL before, but it seemed the perfect time to, you know, actually meet in person. (Blogging lead into all sorts of things one wouldn't have expected, one way or another.)

And you know what? She wasn't an ax murderer! And neither was I (of course). We had such a nice visit! She and her husband have a lovely house, and the weather was pleasant enough to have the windows open and a perfect breeze blowing through. We got to meet her dog, Sophie, who was delighted to meet us, and I was able to respectfully address the cats, who were a little less sure but I did get to pet both.

Do I know you?

What did you say?? Shocking!

Are you leaving soon, by any chance?

I somehow failed to get a picture of the canine part of the equation, even when she was bring especially adorable--blog-fail, sorry. You can see her here.

We humans showed off knitting and talked patterns, talked books, talked movies, all sorts of things. Her husband threw together a delicious dessert with chocolate and vanilla pudding, whipped cream, and Milano cookies that was just amazing. We talked and talked. She gave me a little scarf/wrap that she'd made but found she didn't wear (photo to come), and of course now I don't remember the pattern or the yarn, you'd think I would write such things down but apparently you would be wrong, when will I learn.

My point is, it was a really good time, but we eventually tore ourselves away, and M and I went on into DC as planned to visit the Textile Museum. It's near Dupont Circle, and between M's knowledge and Steve's guidance, we got into the city fine, and my dad the King of City Parking* sent us a nice convenient spot to park in. The walk to the museum was short and lovely: I don't want to live in a city, but when I see this kind of area, I think it wouldn't be so bad. Though as I am not a multi-millionaire, this is unlikely to transpire.

*He had a gift for it. It was rather impressive, and no end of handy.

The museum itself was manageably small and we enjoyed a wander through it and its garden, though in truth I will admit that I enjoyed our next stop more. You know how I am about yarn! Looped Yarn Works was just around the corner on Connecticut Ave., and in fact it was on the second story, so there we are again. It's not huge, but not tiny, with two good-sized rooms joined by a smaller one, and what seemed to be a wide selection*, though I didn't look too closely, in order to not be led into too much temptation.

*Plus good service, including having a computer to use for Ravelry access, which is a nice touch.

Trying to minimize temptation doesn't mean I didn't buy anything, though! I needed a longer* size 10.5 needle for the growing sweater-in-progress, and I picked up some point protectors for it at the same time. The big splurge, though, was a skein of (you guessed it) sock yarn**. I started reading the blog of Tanis Fiber Arts a few months ago, and have been very taken by the beautiful colors they produce.

*Not every store carries the 40-inch, can you imagine?
**Sock yarn makes a very handy impulse purchase, as you don't need to have a project in mind to buy it. Just be sure to get enough for two socks, and you're off!

When I touched this yarn, I was lost, and do you know why? It has some cashmere in it. Mmmm. My precious.

We walked on down toward Dupont Circle, and visited the other location of Second Story, which of course was much smaller, but still a fun place to browse around. With sections like this, how could it not be?

Then we ate a late lunch (early dinner?)(no, late lunch) right across the street, at a lovely bakery place whose name escapes me and the Google Map isn't helping for once so it will have to remain nameless, on the corner of P and 20th, while you imagine M and I walking back to the car, and going on home to watch the rest of the movie. (And enabling M into joining Ravelry, as long as I was there. Apparently I give out a vibe that wakens her dormant interest in knitting.)

And then it was time to pack! And leave in the morning. The End for Sunday.

The travel day went fine. This time, instead of relying on Amtrak for lunch, I bought a (good) sandwich at Au Bon Pain in the station before boarding. One end got a tiny bit soggy before lunchtime, but it was still really good. I had a neighbor almost the whole trip, from Baltimore to Providence, which was kind of a shame but not actually a problem. Plus, she complimented my knitting when she was leaving, so clearly she had good taste, even if sitting still was not her strongest skill (and coming from me, that's saying something).

And then I was back in Boston, chilly, rainy Boston, and I went home, and hugged the kitty, and crashed on the couch. And had a great night's sleep, with the fur-baby right there with me. And on into the week, the chilly, rainy week which is now over, trip without end, amen. (Or something. That line may have more rhythm than meaning.)(Story of my life.)

This trip was just the right length, because M and I got to get all caught up, and do fun things, and then just when I was missing my own bed and Carlos, it was time to go home.

One final note: I brought a little treat for us for the trip: Ghirardelli Milk & Caramel Latte squares*. If you like chocolate, caramel, and coffee, You Must Try These. Divine!

*I got a bag at Target, myself, in case you don't want to buy the $165 case that is the only link I could find in a quick search.