Category Archives: Travel

Williamsburg Peace

I’m sitting in bed in a beautiful room in Colonial Williamsburg, the sun streaming through the shutters and limning the rocking chairs on my balcony with a morning glow.  It’s glorious, and I’m very grateful to be here!

This weekend I taught at a brand new retreat, History Unwound, and it was one of the nicest teaching experiences I’ve had in a career of lovely teaching engagements.

Starting a retreat from scratch is one of the hardest things for a knit person to do. Kimberly Villareal (Somebunnyslove on Ravelry) put this together with the help of her husband, Chris, various helpers and volunteers (primary among them Trish – ElizabethsMommy on Ravelry)

2015-03-15 18.57.05

One of Donna D’s beautiful mittens from her upcoming book on Lithuanian Knitting Traditions.

I admire Kimberly’s ability to have a vision, make a plan, and find a way to make it happen. She acquired sponsors, found folks to supply and create goody bags, went after some excellent teachers and lecturers. She presented an amazing array for her guests!

I felt so flattered to be teaching alongside Anna Zilboorg, Franklin Habit and Donna Druchunas, three knitting ‘greats’, as well as Rohn Strong, Beth Smith and Sharon Hilgers, three folks I did NOT get enough time with!  I swear, Rohn MUST be related to me somehow, he is the spit and image of many of my cousins, a red-headed version of my late brother!)

The retreat was exactly what one should be – a chance for folks to gather, take classes, shop for some yarn and fiber related items (I bought a change purse!) and, above all, RELAX and recharge the batteries!

If I felt relaxed and recharged after teaching for 2 days, I can only imagine how good the students must have felt!

I hope this is the first of MANY History Unwound retreats! It’s such an excellent idea, and there are so many interesting historical and fiber related locations where future retreats can be held!

2015-03-14 16.12.30

“See, Apple’s in the slammer, but Little Pear’s got the cabbage to spring Apple (that is, if Officer Donut don’t get too greedy!)”

I would advise anyone who is interested in this type of event to ‘like’ History Unwound on Facebook so you can stay on top of developments for future years.  I feel SO fortunate to know Kimberly, and to have had a chance to be part of this delicious event!

And NOW I get to fly home, to see my favorite place in the world (wherever Gerry is) and to see my daughter! Andy’s home from college for Spring Break, and having both she and Max home is so joyful to me! I’m a lucky, lucky woman!

My flight doesn’t leave until this afternoon, so I’ll be able to do a bit of exploring before I head out.  Or maybe I’ll just find a beautiful location and sit and knit!  Exhaustion has hounded me this Winter, more than it ever has before, and it’s been worrying.

Colonial Annie On A Bike

Colonial Annie On A ‘Hobby Horse’ Bike

I’m certain that it’s partly due to an increased travel schedule.  This marks the 5th long trip in 2 months for teaching or selling yarn. Winter’s are always hard on the Fibromyalgia, but this year all of the travel has doubly sapped my strength.

That’s why I’m so psyched to get home, to get back on my bike again and work out the kinks. Riding my bike really DOES energize me in a way nothing else does.  Immediately after a ride I’m wiped out, but within a day or so, I begin to feel the positive effects on my stamina.

This weekend I had moments when I was absolutely overwhelmed with exhaustion and pain, which is why the opportunity to sleep in today, rest in bed while I write a blog post, and just sit in the sun and knit are moments to be treasured. And I do. I’m a lucky woman.

Vacation! (?)

Gulf Coast, Post Sunset

Gulf Coast Sunset

I promised myself 8 years ago that we’d actually DO vacations. We’d find a way, through frequent flier miles and Vacation Rental By Owner, to relax a bit each year.  It’s something folks in Europe do without blinking, and something more Americans should do.  For pity’s sake, folks, we work damn hard and we deserve a bit of a break!

This year our getaway (without the kids, Andy’s in college and Max has that high school thing…) was courtesy my business partner, Kathleen Pascuzzi, and her brother. They own a lovely home down in Florida, where her mother lived, and her brother’s family only uses the upper floor.

So when Kathleen offered the space to us for a week we jumped at it – YES!

Actual Spirit Air Passenger (contemplating that death may be preferable to another Spirit flight)

Actual Spirit Air Passenger (contemplating death, which may be preferable to a Spirit Airlines flight)

If you follow my tweets, you know the trip down was not stellar. Actually, it wasn’t the trip, just the check-in and boarding. After that, it was pretty smooth sailing.

WARNING: NEVER FLY SPIRIT AIRLINES.
I’d been warned & never believed how bad it was. Now I do.

The past week had been unexpectedly difficult. I taught in NY, which was great, but got all light-headed at the end of my class and still feel like a wuss about that.

Then I got snowed in (iced in) and had to stay an additional day in the NYC area. It wasn’t bad, I was fortunate enough to get to visit with some very dear friends, but it was taxing!

Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 6.15.26 PMOver the weekend there was a family emergency which compelled me to fly and drive quite a distance over a two day period, which was also taxing (physically and mentally).  When I got back to St. Paul, I jumped right into my work, attempting to get 3 days of skeining and dyeing finished in one day (which I did – sort of…) and just as I was catching my breath it was time to board the plane.

I hadn’t entirely unpacked all week.

Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 6.13.33 PMBut here we are, finally, in beautiful Fort Meyers Beach, FL, where it’s lovely and sunny and beautiful!

Folks here are saying it’s a lot chillier than normal, but right now in MN it’s 1º, perspective is always helpful.

Our first day here we visited the Koresh Unity Historic Site.  I’d actually visited this place back in 1991, when I took a solo 1-week vacation from grad school.

Who but me would go, alone, to Florida for Spring Break
to visit Celibate Utopian Communities?

The Hollow Earth

The Hollow Earth

I’d told Gerry about their fascinating and kooky concept that the earth was actually a hollow ball (with us on the inside edge, looking toward the center of the sphere when we gaze ‘up’ at the sky)

If I hadn’t discovered a book about the community, Hollow Earth by David Standish, I might have thought I dreamed the whole thing.

Koreshan Furniture

Koreshan Furniture

I was surprised to see it was only 5 miles from Ft. Myers, so off we went!

It’s a beautiful site, with a very interesting story. As with many 19thC ‘Utopian’ communities, the Koreshan Unity (NO relation to David Koresh) believed both in celibacy and equal rights for women.

Both were definite draws for me in grad school.

Gerry & Water Tank

Gerry & Water Tank

Along the lines of the Shakers (some of whom made up the community) they built furniture, baked bread, made clothing and ran a printing business.

Except for the celibacy thing, they might still be active today…

If you’re in Florida and have any interest in history, it’s worthwhile to visit! It’s a lovely site with many interesting activities for folks year round!

Channeling Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings at the Koreshan Bamboo Landing

Channeling my inner Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings at the Koreshan Bamboo Landing

Rounding out our day, we visited Brisket Brothers BBQ in Fort Myers. This rib joint is owned by Kathleen’s brother, Robert, and the food is DELICIOUS!

Driving there the traffic was stop and start, and my leg was sore and achy from the braking (which I thought was odd…)

After we had our very tasty lunch (pulled pork for me, corned beef for Gerry) we headed home for an evening walk on the beach (where I felt oddly achy and chillier than I should have)

We had a drink, a ‘bucket o’ fun’ (which we shared, I couldn’t drink more than a sip or two)
and then walked home, in bed by 9:30 or so.  We are wild people, woo!

So it wasn’t a HUGE surprise when, at 3am, I began feeling terrible. Really, really terrible.

I had the flu. I am 100% positive it wasn’t due to anything I’d eaten or drunk the day before. I’m certain it’s something I picked up during our airport/plane time.

Flotsam

Flotsam

This was full-blown flu, with body aches, fever, chills (and all the less pleasant activities, too)

It always sucks to be away from home and be sick, but Gerry is the most amazing husband. He made everything much better.

Yesterday was a write off. I was OUT of commission all day.

Today was a resting day, we walked to the beach, sat in a chair, finally admitted to each other we were freezing and came home.

Yes, this is excitement at the beach!

Sunset, Ft. Myers Beach

Sunset, Ft. Myers Beach

Having said that, we’re having a great time! If nothing else, being totally away from home means an enforced no-dyeing policy is in effect for me until I return home.

And, it is about 60º warmer here than back home, that’s a very good thing!

Ironic (and fitting) that I would leave a very cold place to come to a very warm place and end up with chills.

But at least – as with everything – I have a good story!

The Virtue of Enforced Patience

Proof there is something older than me in NYC.

Proof there is something older than me in NYC.

I have become a much more patient person in my 40’s and 50’s than I was in my 20’s and 30’s. I’m not unusual in this, it’s a pretty widely recited truism that those with the most time (the young) seem to be in the biggest hurry.

I realized about a year ago that instead of seeing things as weekly or monthly deadlines, I was tending to see long term goals; yearly, decade-ly. Even century-ish.

The peace that this shift has created has become very important to me. I don’t really care if someone gets somewhere ahead of me (well, unless the place we’re going has a finite number of gluten free cookies, then I’ll be early in line…)

Winter Subway Climb

Winter Subway Climb

I’m just happy to get there eventually.  Or not. At least, that’s what I work toward – especially when driving in rush hour traffic.

So when this weekend didn’t go as I’d planned it, I tried to just swallow hard, accept it, and enjoy what DID transpire.

My classes on Saturday were, I think, good. It’s always hard to judge myself, and although I try to write good, happy things about my classes, I am also my harshest critic.

The classes were mixed skill level; very new knitters, very experienced knitters, and all levels in between.

I LOVE these mixed classes, mostly for the interplay that can happen when knitters of various levels meet. But they can also be very draining, they take a LOT of energy.

It’s like spinning plates, with each one turning at a different speed. Lots of running to and fro.

I left everything I had within me in that room for the students, and felt like a better teacher – and person – for it.

Subway Marble Mosaic Art

Subway Marble Mosaic Art

Unfortunately, because of the very hot room & the exhausting classes (and my habit of skipping meals on class days) I became very faint at the end of the day, as I discussed in my last blog post.

So the next day I rested – or I meant to.

A friend (my freshman college roommate) texted me, so we met for coffee and oatmeal.

I mentioned I wanted to pick up some bowls for Gerry’s birthday, so we took the subway down to Chelsea to FishsEddy. We walked a bit, talked a lot about our kids (her daughter is 12, she – like me – is a late-in-life mom) and shared our war stories about the early teen years.

We also shared our complete disdain for “Thank You” notes. Yes, I’ll come out here – I do NOT like the Thank You Note – or, rather, I don’t like the expectation of them. I try to send them, and I ALWAYS say “Thank you!” for kindnesses. But I don’t like getting wrapped up in some Miss Manners vision of what is the ‘right’ thing to do. It’s exhausting.

Amazing Mosaic Subway - Thank You, MTA!

Amazing Mosaic Subway – Thank You, MTA!

There, make of it what you will, I don’t think I’m an ingrate, just often very busy…

My former roommate and I parted, and immediately I got a text from a friend in Brooklyn, a dear costuming contact from my Great Lakes Theater Fest internship days, who drove in from Park Slope, picked me up and we talked and talked in her car.

I miss my NY friends. I love Minnesota & my MN friends. It’s the perfect place for me (and our family) in most ways, but I do miss my NY friends.

Jaya Yoga

Jaya Yoga

We drove to Brooklyn, to her “Restorative Yoga” class at the Jaya Yoga Center in Park Slope. When I realized the class was ALL floor work (stretching between power naps) I joined in, & enjoyed it thoroughly. David Figueroa’s an exceptional teacher!

It was just what I needed, I felt energized, centered & happier than I had all day.

I also LOVED being a student, it felt necessary for my ‘balance’ (teaching so hard one day, learning the next!) My wise friend Sue knew what would be good for my soul.

In a perfect world, when we come together to teach anything to a group of receptive students, we, as teachers, would also be able to TAKE a class.

And we would be kind to ourselves, not judging ourselves, nor our teachers, too harshly. It never hurts to be a bit kind whenever possible.

Good Friend & Kids

Good Friend, Kids & Puppies

We went to Sue’s apartment & I become reacquainted with her two teens, who I hadn’t seen in over 12 years. We talked about kids, life & new puppies (a metaphore for my entire weekend.)

On the drive back to Manhattan we watched the colors of the Empire State Building change – a virtual scoreboard for the Superbowl! 

The Empire State Bldg colors changed with the superbowl score.I was supposed to fly home the next day (Monday) but an ice storm cancelled my flights. Unfortunately, I didn’t discover this until I was AT the airport. Had I known, I would have just stayed at the Hampton Inn on 39th another night (it was a really great hotel!) 

But once I was in NJ with the only open flight at 6pm on Tuesday, I had over 24 hours to kill.

Yes, I could have returned to NY, but the amount of physical energy it took to get from the hotel to Penn Station, then onto the train, then from the train to the check in counter had entirely drained me. Few things are as wearying as maneuvering through Manhattan in an ice storm with lakes of frozen water at each corner.

I’m a mass transit fan, but it can be exhausting. I was in FULL Fibro flare up – I still am – so feeling totally confused I called Gerry and wept, which is something I don’t do very often.

My office for the morning.

My office for the morning.

Gerry called some very dear friends in NJ & they welcomed me into their home. Their son and Max used to be best friends, and we parents became good friends, too!

So here I am, in a very beautiful home, on a snowy & beautiful day in beautiful Maplewood, NJ.

The weekend hasn’t been as I planned it, but it’s been a learning, growing and reflecting kind of weekend. I needed it, and I’m glad I had it.

AARP

I blame the AARP discount.

Mourning brooch of diamonds & jet

Mourning brooch of diamonds & jet

I applied for the card a weeks ago to get the AARP discount at the hotel for my NY trip (teaching at the Big Apple Guild)

Yes, I’m over 50. 52, in fact. Like a deck of cards.
Like the weeks in a year. Like President Obama.

I flew in on Friday, got all settled in my (amazingly cheap room – thanks AARP!) and headed up for the Late Night at the Metropolitan Museum to see the Death Becomes Her exhibit. When I was in grad school I wrong a lengthy (perhaps TOO lengthy) report on Mourning Dress, so it’s a topic that resonates with me.

A mourning brooch, a miniature of the deceased with a cuff woven of her hair.

Miniature of deceased woman, woven cuff of her hair.

It was a WONDERFUL exhibit, perhaps a bit too small (once again, I tend to like my costume exhibits lengthy) and, in all the excitement of seeing the show and returning to my hotel, it didn’t dawn on me that I hadn’t eaten.

You know, I love food. I really do. Skipping meals isn’t something that comes naturally to me, but I just didn’t feel – hungry.

So Saturday I got up, had a banana and a gf muffin and took one to have for lunch, and headed over to the Big Apple Knitting Guild.

The classes were really great! The group is wonderful, I love the passion and opinions of this guild, I really did feel like I was visiting family! Entrelac went well – it’s a hard concept, and some of the newer knitters had to work very hard, but I was SO proud of everyone.  Everybody’s abilities were stretched, that’s the goal!

When I teach, I don’t so much want everyone to be at the same point when the class is over, but I DO want everyone to grow a bit, to stretch themselves, and gain a bit of confidence!

An Egyptian foot.  This has absolutely nothing to do with the blog post.

An Egyptian foot. This has absolutely nothing to do with this blog post.

During the lunch break I stayed in the room, which was INCREDIBLY hot. It was at a dance studio, so the heat is usually up high to loosen up muscles.  I found myself getting a bit overheated.

The second class was the Mitered Bag, which was also a lot of fun.  The many different skill levels in the class meant that there was a lot of going back and forth between students, it wasn’t a class where I sat much, and near the end of the class I found myself feeling very light headed.

This usually doesn’t happen to me, and I’m still not certain why it did.  For a bit I was scared, but sitting down, drinking some water, and then getting outside in the fresh air did a world of good.

I think I may have just been overheated, and unwise in my food choices (no real protein for most of Friday or Saturday) and working very hard.

So I’m blaming AARP for my first ‘spell’, as my mother would say.  Apparently the tradeoff for those great discounts are lightheadedness and dizziness. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

My dad died of a heart attack at 56 (after a stroke at 53), and my brother died of a heart attack at 45. I haven’t been getting out on my bike lately, or even getting to the exercise bike at the gym, and I feel this is a large part of my episode yesterday.

I felt SO embarrassed. I know that sounds silly, and I’d be the first one to tell someone else, “Oh, for heaven’s sake, DON’T feel foolish!” but I did.  Aside from feeling that I’d not tied up the end of the class very well, I felt – exposed – while something odd was happening to me that I didn’t understand.  A very odd feeling.

Annette, my contact from the guild, VERY kindly walked me to my hotel (it was 4 blocks away) and up to my room.  It was very good of her, and I was grateful!  I discovered delivery.com, ordered some rice and chicken soup, and feel light years better this morning.  I don’t fly out until Monday, so I have a day to rest.

And, yes, I will eat something.  I don’t think Gerry would look very good in any of these dresses…

Life On Hold For AMAZEMENT!

A & A at Prez's Door

A & A at Prez’s Door

I’m still reeling.

Whirlwind doesn’t BEGIN to describe the events of the last week! First, the facts: I got invited to a sort of “Tweet Summit” at the White House. It was 99% unexpected…

(I actually DID apply to go when I saw a tweet about
the event by @WhiteHouse, but I didn’t really
think for a moment that I’d be in the running.)

It was an opportunity for the people behind the scenes at The White House to meet with a group of folks who are known to be very active on social media.

My assigned crafting place

My assigned crafting place

I guess I fell into that group (THANK YOU friends & readers of my tweets & blog!)

I was SO excited to be invited.

It happened much more suddenly that I expected. When I got invited, my first impression was that it was a sort of ‘family event’ and that our whole family was invited.

Beautiful Daughter

Beautiful Daughter

Unfortunately, I misunderstood  It was more of a business / public relation than a family event.

However, the very kind folks at TWH allowed me to bring a guest when they realized that Andy is also an active social media person, AND part of an excellent demographic which happened to be underrepresented at this event.

Fog All The Way To DC

Fog All The Way To DC

Gerry didn’t want me to drive to pick up Andy at Earlham and on to DC alone, so he insisted on coming and sharing the driving burden. And it was INSANELY foggy both there and back, lots of white knuckle driving!

We wanted Max to come, too, but the suddenness make this impractical – Max had finals, too, papers to finish and a big project at his after school job (St. Paul Neighborhood Network) that he wanted to do well, so he opted to stay home. We missed him!

 

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Beautiful Hallway

Beautiful Hallway

What The Event WASN’T

    • We did not meet POTUS, FLOTUS or DOTUS
      (Doggies of the United States)  Dang.
    • We didn’t get lunch, but we DID get delicious cider and cookies (I brought some home for Gerry & Max)

What The Event WAS

  • A chance for folks involved in social media to visit & learn about The White House
  • An opportunity to meet White House staff who explained to us
    • How White House events are put together
    • How ‘average folks’ (like me!) can attend events like the Easter Egg Roll, tours, etc.
    • How the large staff works together to make these events spectacluar!
  • A crafting opportunity (probably another reason I was asked to come!)
Laura Dowling, TWH Chief Floral Designer

Laura Dowling Chief Floral Designer

We were given talks by many interesting folks, the first part of the day was spent discussing the social media strategies TWH uses to present their messages to various audiences.

For instance, I follow a lot of folks on Twitter, but one of my favorite accounts to read is @ObamaFoodarama. That lets me, a food lover, to see a different side of The White House.

By utilizing twitter to present different sides of The White House in this way, the social media staff can allow the average citizen to feel a bit more connected to the goings on of what is, essentially, OUR house.

Ellie Schafer, Director TWH Visitors Office

Ellie Schafer, Director TWH Visitors Office

Hands down, the most impressive person we met was Ellie Schafer. She was absolutely brilliant. The love she has for her job and her passion for presenting The White House to the world in the best way was infectious!

The room came to life as she was speaking, and I felt she was the best advertisement for the type of person we’d like to have heading the visitors office of OUR house.

She explained that The White House is a residence, an executive office AND a museum, I hadn’t thought of it in those terms.

I LOVE DC!

DC is one of my favorite places.

Union Station, DC

Union Station, DC

My first adult visit was when I was an intern with WNET in NY

(I got to fly a TV proposal down that needed to be turned in the same day it was finished, interns get to do the most unlikely things…)

It was spring, and I absolutely fell in love with the city. I’ve been back many times since then, most memorably when I was working on the Million Mom March for Gun Safety in 2000.

Gerry & Andy On Metro

Gerry & Andy On Metro

If I have any regrets about this particular trip, it was the physical difficulty for Gerry of sitting in a car for so many hours.

He insists it’s pretty much what he’d be doing at home, but I think he’ll be resting a bit over the next few days.

However, he started planning a SECOND family trip to DC on the way home!

This time we’ll take Max, too, and we’ll be able to spend more time and visit more museums!

In other news, Max came in 2nd in his Debate Meet on Saturday! GO MAXIE!!

BONUS

To see a funny video I took on the Metro Subway, click here!

One Knitter’s Road To DC

So something kind of cool happened this week…

I saw a tweet from The White House (known henceforth as TWH) asking folks who’d like to be invited to a holiday event at TWH to apply online.  I did, thinking, “They’ll NEVER invite me!”

Well, they did.

Apparently they tried to contact me several times, but for some reason our phone wasn’t connecting

The woman at TWH said it might have been because their number comes up as ‘blocked’ so depending on folks’ settings, it might not go through – odd…
We certainly have no problem getting a ton of 800 spam calls!

On Friday they emailed me, I didn’t get it until late in the day (annual ModeKnit Yarn holiday lunch at Kyoto Sushi …) so it was pretty late on Friday when I learned we were invited for Monday. Yikes!

Even if I weren’t someone who’d jump into a car and drive 16 hours without blinking an eye
(and I am), this seemed like too good of an opportunity to pass up.

I am allowed to bring one person, so it was between Gerry and Andy. The event was explained to me as a ‘decorating & craft event’ (apparently my knitting/craft chops AND my numerous twitter followers put me up on the potential invitees list..) I’m told we will me making Christmas ornaments!

Gerry insists that it’s really more up Andy’s alley, Andy insists that Gerry should go – and Gerry won. Andy’s going with me.

The problem was, this semester Andy had only two final exams, and they were both on Monday. Yikes again. Fortunately her professors are VERY understanding and one is allowing her to take the exam on Sunday, the other later in the week.

Andy & Annie at the White House (artists rendering)

Andy & Annie at the White House (artists rendering)

Max was originally going to join us, but he confessed to us today that he just has too much he feels he needs to do at the end of his semester, and he’s helping a friend with a project at SPNN (where he has a part time job) AND he had a pretty important debate meet today (where he came in SECOND – which is amazingly good)

We allowed Max to bow out of the event and stay at home. I’ve learned that when Max has a strong feeling about not participating in something, it’s really best to trust his gut. Every time I’ve forced him to do something he wasn’t really into, something has gone terribly wrong.

Return with me now to the dreaded Lyme Disease Summer of 2011
after I forced Max to go to camp in the Boundary Waters.

Bad mommy.

Plus, the pets are VERY happy that he’s staying.

We’re doing the trip in stages, tonight we’re in Beloit and I used some Hilton points to snag a $40 room at Hampton Inn (SUCH a lovely room!)  Tomorrow we pick up Andy and continue to DC, where I’m using Starpoints for two nights at a nice hotel in Arlington. It’s such a bonus to be able to use different membership club points to make this (hotel-wise) an almost-free trip!

I have to give a nod to Awardwallet.com, they REALLY help me keep my different memberships straight and monitor how many miles I have in 25 different programs. I find I’m able to use my points much more efficiently when I can access them so easily!

So while Andy and I are at the White House, Gerry will be exploring the Smithsonian. Then we’ll meet up late in the day and have dinner, perhaps look at the lights, and sight-see.  Tuesday we’ll have some time before we have to head back to Earlham to drop Andy off, we’ll stay overnight so she can take her exam, then we’ll all come home together.

Did I mention I’m getting a tooth pulled on Friday?
I wanted something to take my mind off of it, and this will certainly do that!

Apologies for the lack of book review – I promised two reviews this week and I’m afraid I’ll be lucky to get ONE done!  I can’t say I didn’t ask for this – I filled out the online request form – I just never really expected it to happen (and so QUICKLY!)

Resting & ReCharging

4630409504_a6daaf6159_oOne thing about me that drives my husband nuts (one thing?) is how I tend to see every day things as a ‘sign’ of better things to come.

Usually I’m joking, sometimes I’m not, but when we were first married in 1993 I would often say something like, “See, that’s a SIGN that everything’s going to be fine!” and he’d just roll his eyes (looking for all the world like a 15-year old ME reacting to my mom.)

It’s been six weeks today since the arrival of Shingles in my life. I’ve been in such a fog (pain induced? pain MED induced? just generalized Annie-Confusion?) that some days it feels as though I’ve had Shingles for a week, some days it feels as though I’ve had it since the day I was born.

I’m taking the past two exceptional weekends of teaching as a sign that things are looking up,  and no one can convince me otherwise!

Current Car Crochet Project

Current Car Crochet Project

This past weekend my business partner, Kathleen Pascuzzi, and I had a booth at the North Country FIber Fair where I taught four classes and had a generally wonderful time! There are SO many little  shows like this around the country, which I see as an indication of the vitality of the fiber industry, but this was one of the sweetest.

I might feel that way because I have seldom taught classes feeling SO much in pain, and receiving such a boost from my students!

When I add to that the previous weekend in the Dallas area teaching for the Dallas Hand Knitting Guild and the Hand Knitters Guild of North Central Texas, I’m overwhelmed with the amount of love I’ve been shown this month!

TEXAS

One Hardworking Texas Class

One VERY Hardworking Texas Class

I have mixed feelings about Texas. I had a job there I absolutely hated and a boss who seemed gleeful every time he could make my life a bit harder (in all fairness, he was originally from Ohio)

But it’s also the place where my brother met his soul mate, where he lived and then passed away, and it’s where my mother also lived at the end of her life and where she died.

Having a loved one die in a place will always attach a lot of strong emotions to that location.

Mostly, though, I have a very hard time with heat.

But I got very lucky; not only was the Lone Star State going through a bit of a cool snap, but the host yarn shop for my classes, The Knitting Fairy in Grand Prairie, TX, was one of the coolest shops I’ve every visited (in both senses of the word – yay!)

A Hardworking TX Class at The Knitting Fairy

A Hardworking TX Class at The Knitting Fairy

Alissa, the owner of The Knitting Fairy, was incredibly welcoming and loving to everyone who came for classes, and made me feel as though I was visiting family. I’ve seldom felt so loved, so cared for, as I did when Alissa took charge of my comfort while I was in her shop. THANK YOU ALISSA!

It’s also quite obvious how well loved she is by her customers, which is as it should be!

Little known fact: Sprinklers in TX are pro choice!

Pro choice TX Sprinkler

After two days of classes for the Hand Knitters Guild, I was kidnapped on Saturday evening by Ron & Theresa Miskin of Buffalo Wool and taken out for some AMAZING chili, some drinking and some Outlander.

Beautiful Gift From The Dallas Knit Guild!

Beautiful Gift From The Dallas Knit Guild!

We visited with Lise from Knitting Rose Yarns (review of a Knitting Rose/Buffalo Wool yarn to come later this month) at her beautiful home, and I’m afraid I broke my main rule of teaching; NEVER GO OUT THE NIGHT BEFORE A CLASS.

I was able to pull it together for my Sunday Classes (just barely) but still feel guilty for not doing all I could to be 100% for my students. It was some damned good chili, though…

I felt so loved at my two gigs, and was BLOWN AWAY when I was given a lovely gift by the Dallas Guild just before I left, one of those wonderful yarn carousels which will be INCREDIBLY USEFUL as I re-ball odd FLOW skeins.

THANK YOU, EVERYONE IN TEXAS!

SOUTH DAKOTA

ROAD TRIP to SD!

ROAD TRIP to SD!

I joked one morning at breakfast while we were at Watertown, SD that every item on the menu was shaped like a president.

I ordered the FDR oatmeal, it looked like a dime!

But that was before I realized that we were staying at a hotel with a top notch chef in the restaurant!*

Our whole impression of Watertown was affected a bit by the extensive highway work that was going on outside of our hotel

When you’re driving a SUV with a Uhaul, it’s hard to get around all those traffic cones!

Selfie with Festival in Barn

Selfie with Festival in Barn

Road construction

is a necessary evil, though, and perhaps better roads will bring more folks to what was an extraordinary little fiber show, the North Country Fiber Fair.

There weren’t a lot of vendors, but the ones there were exceptional! Excellent yarns, gifts, baskets, buttons, ceramics, LOTS of spinning fibers and tools – just a wonderful variety of great small businesses!

It was if they’d distilled a larger fiber show and brought the best to South Dakota!

My classes were in a lovely, air conditioned room (they’ve got Rhinebeck beat by a mile, there!) and my students – well – it’s hard to praise them enough.

Charted Entrelac Class Swatches, AMAZING Work!

Charted Entrelac Class Swatches, AMAZING Work!

They were a confident, easy going bunch of friendly, wonderful students who took in everything I taught (and begged for more!)

The sheer openness and transparency of the folks in my classes was refreshing – like a stiff prairie breeze!

The drive out and back was a straight, 4-hour shot. Kathleen was magnificent as our driver-in-chief and head-booth-maven.

My job was to tell her where to turn.
We had exactly 3 turns in each way.

We did surprisingly well in sales for a show that wasn’t huge, which is another reason to love the NCFF!

*Minerva‘s, in Watertown, SD, is a restaurant you should visit if you’re in the area.  I will admit that we were NOT expecting such amazing food. Our last night there we had a pork chop dish that will be on the menu for their Octoberfest celebration in, uh, October. If you’re in the area, you need to get yourself over there for a meal!

But aren't we all just ANIMALS?

But aren’t we ALL just animals?

Mini Vacations

I take my vacations where I get them, and sometimes they’re as short as 15 minutes.

KFairy_location

The Knitting Fairy is in HERE somewhere…

Right now I’m enjoying a mini evening vacation, here in Arlington, Texas, where I’ve been brought in to teach 4 classes for the Knitting Guild of North Central Texas and two classes for the Dallas Knitting Guild.

Happily, all 6 classes will be happening at the same location, a LOVELY yarn shop called The Knitting Fairy  I stopped in for a brief visit to meet the owner, Alissa, and look at her great selection of yarns! Her space is excellent, but I can see where it might be hard to find…

Duckie

Shall the Duck be Mother?

She had some lovely stuff, and when I got to my hotel room I looked up her website and was enchanted by many of her patterns, especially this adorable Duck Tea Cozy (Hmmm, who do I know who drinks a lot of tea… Moi?)

The Arlington/Dallas area is experiencing a bit of a cool down after a hot spell, and there’s supposed to be rain over the next few days. That sounds JUST FINE to this Minnesota Mama who is experiencing a skin condition that doesn’t react well to heat!

TPEarls1

Beautiful yarn, lovely tag!

Another indy dyer named Jennifer Thompson who owns Theodora’s Pearls was setting up her trunk show at The Knitting Fairy as I arrived, and everyone was drooling over her lovely yarns! Her yarn tags are pretty sweet, too!

But back to my vacation; I just took a luxurious bath, now I’m enjoying a cup of tea and some gluten free cookies in my beautiful room (okay, it looks like every other hotel room, but I don’t have to clean it and that enhances it’s beauty a thousand fold…)

Modesock_ComClinic_CrochetI flew First Class (the $90 upgrade was only $2 more than paying for my baggage AND a seat with enough legroom for my long pegs, a no brainer!) and enjoyed every second of it, from the way the baggage guy sat up a little straighter when he saw my boarding pass, to the PRIORITY fast lane I got to go through at the TSA to the first-on-the-plane boarding and free drinks.

I had a whiskey, I poured it into my Pumpkin Chai Latte from Caribou Coffee, yum!

And now I will continue on my current project, a crochet diddy worked up in ModeSock in Community Clinic.  The crochet in this colorway has an especially “shabby chic” look about it, doesn’t it?

 

 

 

Holding Pattern

Well, I went to Indiana to take Andy to school.

It just seemed that so much sh*t had hit the fan, I felt a bit like a wreck, and I wanted to go.

So my inner 6-year old went, and I was along for the ride. And I think overall it was a good thing that I did go; I can’t imagine that I’d have been much more comfortable here, and I think I did have a bit of a calming presence on Andy’s moving in.

Or maybe I’m just in a stupor.

It was a long drive, but the B&B we stayed in was wonderful! Being sick not at home is no fun, but this was the next best thing, and I’m very grateful to Leighanne at Seldom Scene Meadow B&B in Richmond, she made both of us feel very much at home!

The moving itself was incredibly painless (elevator dorm, who knew?) and the orientation sessions were plentiful and helpful. We enjoyed meeting Andy’s advisor and her roommates, we’re crossing our fingers that as classes begin she feels at home and not-overwhelmed. It seemed she was already making friends, that first month at college is HARD.

In case you’re not on facebook and missed the excitement, after my week of a kidney stone AND shingles, everything was topped off by a in home break-in (rather, a screen-slitting, when the downstairs window was left open and the opportunity proved too great)  My computer, cell phone and bag were taken. It wasn’t until the police arrived that we realized that my keys were on the bag, and thus the car had ALSO been stolen. Not a great day.

I think we’re both still in shock over it, and we spent Wednesday regrouping as quickly as we could to rent a car to take Andy to college (we had to rent an SUV as there really are no rentable station wagons, which felt unspeakably odd to both of us for the whole weekend!)

So all cards have been canceled, reports filed, accounts deleted, new EZ pass ordered (and received, but not in time for our trip, damn it!) and we’re looking at, perhaps, shopping for a new (used) car.  We have 30 days of rental, but we’re thinking we’ll dole that out so we can put off getting a new car for as long as we can.

We love being a one car family, but it makes it damned hard when that one car is stolen.

My shingles pain continues, and with it really painful digestive issues which come with the pain drugs (which I try not to take, I only take them when I absolutely must)  It’s not been a pleasant week, not in any sense of the word, except we are very proud of our daughter and loved seeing her begin to find her way at Earlham!

Garden Spot of Alberta!

A lovely gift from a student!

A lovely gift from a student!

So, until I was approached by Olds College, I wasn’t aware of Olds Fiber Week.

I feel silly – after all, I should know about these things – but there it is.

And boy, I’d been missing a lovely week of fiber fun!

The Olds Fiber Week is small, not a huge extravaganza, but the folks here are PASSIONATE about spinning, weaving, dyeing and – perhaps with a foot in the door this year – knitting (?)!

Ground Transportation from Calgary Airport

Transportation from Airport

I taught three full day classes, I was able to get deep into the topics (always delightful) and my students were SO wonderful! Excited, unfailingly pleasant and polite (a highly underrated skill set) and hard working.

Well, they were Canadians, so that goes without saying.

A happy student & her mini Kraken

Student & Mini Krakken

The staff of the show is all new this year, and with the exception of a few hiccups (which EVERY event has) they did a really wonderful job of allowing the students to enjoy their week of fiber fun with very little worry about the change in show management.  Everyone worked SO hard, and the hard work paid off in very happy students.

Olds Pergola

Olds Pergola

Olds Irises

Olds Irises

The show is held at Olds College, in Olds, Alberta (about an hour north of Calgary) and I was totally unprepared for how beautiful the campus would be.  It’s essentially an agricultural and animal science school, lots of equine information and farm courses available, and the gardens throughout the campus reflect a commitment to healthy, beautiful botanical specimens.

The walk from my rooms to my classes was a LONG one, and because of various external triggers (temperature, exhaustion) my fibro has really flared up this week. I’m ashamed of how hobbly I look as I meander back and forth, but if one has to walk slowly, these gardens are a lovely place to stroll!

In process airplane knitting; Lumiere Skirt in ModeKnit MCN Flow (Spessartine)

In process airplane knitting; Lumiere Skirt in ModeKnit MCN Flow (Spessartine)

Tomorrow I fly back to St. Paul, which is about a month ahead of the plants here.  It’s been wonderful to experience tulips and lilacs again (they’re finished in late May back home) but I’m pining to see my husband, my pooch and my own not-very-exciting garden back home!

The kids are at their various camps; Andy’s canoeing in the Canadian Arctic, Max is attending Debate Camp at Augsburg in Minneapolis, so when I get home Gerry and I will be temporarily child free!