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Thursday, July 01, 2010

5 Things I Learned This Week

1. I realized just how much I love Mason Jars. Love. I love them for storing things, for making sun tea, and for generally being cute.
2. I have learned that if you renovate an old house, nothing is square, therefore, don't put a tile floor with very straight lines in that old, non-square bathroom if you have OCD tendencies. The fact that the tiles aren't perfectly aligned will keep you awake at night.
3. Your cats will forgive you if you have to keep them confined in one room while you are renovating. They will pout, whine, and whinge if you have to put them in a different room every few days, even if it is for their own good.
4. That I don't care if sitting on my porch for hours at a time and for days on end gets me the reputation as the neighborhood crazy lady. It's my porch and I like it out here.
5. It was reconfirmed for me that some relationships suffer nothing from either distance or time. Some friendships are built for the long haul no matter how unusual or unlikely they may be.

Monday, June 28, 2010

My New Favorite Place

Given the chaos inside my house, it's only natural that I would seek respite outside. The front porch has become my new favorite place. Tonight, it's me, the netbook (the WiFi signal is better on the porch than it is inside--how weird), some incense to ward off the bitey bugs, scads of lightning bugs (which I adore and which are not bitey), and a nice cool breeze.

I've been spending my days knitting, computing, reading, brewing sun tea, and just generally relaxing out here.
Yesterday's Brew: Octavia Organic White Blueberry Tea--yum!
Today's Brew: Intelligentsia King Crimson Organic Hibiscus and Lemongrass Blend
Once the workmen have cleared the upstairs, I will likely shift operations up to the second floor balcony (where the cats also get to hang out), though the exposed balcony does get strong afternoon sun. I've really been thinking I need a hammock, though that would probably be best placed in the backyard. I am so fortunate to have these lovely outdoor spaces here in my little corner of the city, and I am taking greater advantage of them than ever.
There has been knitting. A few weeks prior to her being "Harloted", I bought some yarn from Wolle's Color Creations. My intention was to double strand it with Diaketo DiaSantaFe, which has been working out well. What am I making? Another skirt--one in a long line of them, it seems. The long color shifts of the WCC and the shorter shifts of the Diaketo are making an interesting tweedy fabric of a very nice weight. (Sorry for the weirdly skewed shot that is not only sideways, but makes the skirt look wider than it is long. The striping is, in fact, horizontal, and the skirt goes from navy at the top to gray to light blue at the bottom. I so wish I had been able to take Franklin Habit's knitwear photography class this past weekend.)
I have to weave in the ends, add the tulle ruffle trim to the hem, and make a cord for the waist before she is street ready. (Hmmm...that doesn't sound quite right.)
Last night at SnB, I swatched for my next skirty project. I'm going to use a pattern I got at Churchmouse (my favorite yarn store--wish I didn't have to fly 4 hours and take a ferry to get there!) and some dark purple CotLin.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Knitting the Old and the New Together

As I have mentioned before, I live in an old house. This is her 100th anniversary year, and, to be frank, she is showing her age in some places. I would love to make all of the updates and changes she needs in one fell swoop, but unless there is some great windfall, the changes will be made as we can. We are in the first stage of renovating both bathrooms and turning the upstairs kitchen into a laundry. (We live on both floors of our two-flat, so we have duplicates of everything.)

I have felt very strongly that we need to respect the house and her architectural style. While we don't live in a neighborhood of tear downs (many neighborhoods in Chicago suffer from this), lots of folks buy homes similar to ours and gut them, creating more modern, open floor plans. Sure, I would love one of those houses where the spaces flow seamlessly, but I feel compelled to retain the integrity of the house's historical period. That's not to say that we're not making updates--we are--but those updates are done with an eye toward what makes sense for the old girl. So, as I hunt for floor tiles, fixtures, and amenities, I'm trying to knit together modern aesthetics with historic sensibilities. We are exiting the "Oh my, this will never be over, and it will never look like anything but dog food" phase and entering the "Hey, there really is a bathroom under all that dust" phase. There is light at the end of the tunnel.

By the way, if you are going to have only one working bathroom downstairs due to the demolition of the upstairs loo, and you sleep upstairs, it might not be the best idea to drink gallons of iced tea every day unless you want to make the nightly treacherous decent through the obstacle course that has become your home. Strangely, it's a lesson I have yet to learn, and it has been weeks.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Ups and Downs

And I mean that in a good way. Slowly, for the first time since mid-December, I can raise my left arm above elbow height and not see stars. It's a process, to be sure, and I am still stiff and sore, but my range of movement is getting better. Sleeping is still an issue, and I'm having a rough time when I roll onto my left side, but better is, well, better.

I finished my second knitted skirt (the lacey skirt with bows by Kat Coyle), and am about to cast on another skirt. I don't know why I'm fixated on skirts, but I am. Cotton Fleece is a great yarn for them, save one quibble. Like most cotton or mostly cotton yarns, you can see where the ends are woven in, no matter how hard you try to avoid it. I have pulled out ends and tried again and again, always with the same result. It's a frustration, to be sure, but I'll keep trying.

Sadly, it looks like my trip to Estonia this August is postponed until 2011. Most disappointing is the fact that I won't get to see my friend who lives there unless he has a business trip to the states. (He usually flies through Chicago when he does, so I'd get to see him that way.) I'm still hoping to get there at some point in the not-too-distant future. Coincidentally, I was supposed to be gone during Stitches Midwest, and I had registered for two Estonian knitting classes with Merike Saarniit, which I thankfully had not yet cancelled. That will have to do, and perhaps I will get to pick her brain a bit about must-see and must-do places and events.

I had a funny realization a few days ago. My friend and knitting teacher, Cat B0rdhi, stayed with me for several days while she was in Chicago teaching. Would you believe that we didn't knit a single stitch here in the house during the five days she was here?! We had great conversations, however, and I did get to spend a lovely afternoon at the Art Institute with her and Franklin Habit, which was great fun.

I need to leap off and do some around-the-housework. We are starting some home renovations next week, which means that things need to be moved and organized before the contractors get here. I'm excited to have the work done, but the process of renovation is always nerve-wracking. Still, it will be nice to look at a freshly tiled and painted bathroom instead of the nasty peeling paint I'm looking at right now.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Knitting on the Other Side

I am just 5 days post-surgery, and I feel pretty great. Sure, I'm stiff, and movement is limited, but...I CAN KNIT! Hah! I'd learned to compensate due to the injury so that I can knit without significant movement in my left arm and shoulder, so the knitting continues. I can't knit for long stretches, and the Hempathy project is out of the question (not enough give), but I may have another knitted skirt finished very soon. I need to be careful about over extending myself, but I am chalking the knitting up to physical therapy. (Mental therapy, too!)

When getting ready to go to the hospital, I wasn't going to take anything with me. I had a 1:30 surgery slot, and I figured that by the time I got checked in at noon, tests run, and the glamorous hospital fashions donned, I wouldn't have time. Good thing I tossed the project in the bag at the last minute. My surgeon got backed up on his first surgery of the day, and by the time I went to the pre-op holding pen, it was after 4pm. The husband and I did get to wait in a very nice private room with free movies during the lead up, so it wasn't as annoying as it might have been. The worst part was that I hadn't eaten since 8pm the night before, and the room was right over a vent for a cafeteria, so I could smell burgers cooking, and it was making me a bit cranky. In fact, I've been craving a really good burger ever since!

Friday, May 07, 2010

A Tale of Two Scarves

There is a clock ticking in my head. I'm on the final countdown to my shoulder surgery (woo hoo!), so I have a limited amount of time to get some things done before I'll be in recovery mode. I'm knitting like crazy because I'll be off the needles for a few weeks. I'm also shopping for tile, bathroom fixtures, flooring, and doors for our upcoming renovations since I won't be able to drive for several weeks. (We're updating two bathrooms and converting a kitchen into a laundry.) I'm organizing and cleaning in anticipation of a most esteemed house guest and the upcoming renovations. But what am I doing this moment? Blogging with the TV on.

This week I cast on a modified version of Anne Hanson's Rivolo which I narrowed to three repeats and with an added beaded cast on and bind off, a la Sivia Harding. It was a pretty fast, satisfying knit. The scarf is made with Kraemer Silk and Silver that I kettle dyed a while back. It is intended as a gift for a friend of a friend in Estonia. (Gifting knitting to an Estonian is a little like giving tulips to a Dutch person, I suspect, but it's what I do.)

I've also cast on a project from Veronik Avery's new book. It is a mesh tank that I'm making with Hempathy. It is slow going, my friends, slow going. The combo of knitting haltingly right now, the unstretchy yarn, size 2 needles, and the 252 stitches in each round means this is going to be a slog. Urgh. But I want the finished product--now. Right now.

So, while preparing to wash and store winter things, I unearthed the first knitted garment I ever made. I think I took my first knitting class in 1995, and this is the teaching scarf pattern that my instructor devised. It incorporates garter, stockinette, rib, and moss stitches, increases and decreases. It doesn't make for an elegant garment, but it was a useful teaching tool. It was a great way to learn the techniques while ending up with a finished garment.

Saturday, April 24, 2010


I'm sitting here drinking my coffee from my new Starbucks Seattle mug, getting all moony for the Pacific Northwest. (I love the Starbucks city mugs, by the way. They are the perfectly sized cup of coffee for me. I prefer my Jennie the Potter mugs for tea, however. Don't know why I make this distinction.) It's cool and rainy outside, very Seattle-like, though the weather we experienced there last week was unusually spectacular up until departure day.

Of all the things I am missing (the bacon, the bacon, and the bacon), I am missing my camp friends most of all. I have been extremely fortunate to attend lots of fiber events all over the country during the past several years, and I have made friends at all of them. At Sock Camp this year, I saw previous years' camp friends, friends from other events, and new friends who I look forward to seeing again. It was great. (I just found out yesterday that I will likely be travelling to San Francisco in August, so I hope to see some of the SF girls then--what a treat!)

The husband is returning from a business trip this evening. I came home late Tuesday, and he left really early Wednesday morning, so I hadn't even unpacked before he left. There's a little bit of new yarn to put away before I pick him up at the airport tonight ;) We haven't seen each other very much lately, but he did the funniest, sweetest thing while I was in Port Ludlow: he wrote me a camp-themed poem. Camp had a Seussian bent this year (along with the b00bies), and the poem was in reference to a series of really silly Seuss-themed skits produced by the four "tribes" at camp. Enjoy, especially the knitting curse at the end (not that ANY OF US would EVER wish evil on another knitter. Not EVER. No, NEVER!) Anyway, it was a cute and campy thing for him to do, and he clearly has the lingo down.

I hope the knitters liked your skit;
(I hope the skitters like your knit.)
Did it go well, was it a hit?
Did they stand and clap and clap, or sit?
Did people gush, and, then, get lit?
(Was the liquor bill a massive chit?)
Did the sketchers 'gainst whom you were pit
Match up, and give as good as git,
See you pun for pun, and tat for tit?
Did all lap up the crafty wit --
Like cream is lapped up by a kit --
or did some sneeralate and crit,
And pick a nit with ev'ry bit,
And snarkelfize, and give you shit,
Like some insipid royal twit,
whose festering gob just will not quit?

Upon those churls, I lay this curse:

May Quiviut cause you a rash;
May moths invade your treasured stash;

May all your patterns each omit
Important rows you should have knit;

May airlines ban the knitting needle,
No matter how you beg and wheedle;

May yarn crawls all be heavy slogging,
And ev'ry sock require frogging.

No, no, I do not doubt a bit
That all the knitters liked your skit.

PS The Yarn Harlot proclaimed him "sexy" for writing a sock camp-themed poem. Perhaps he should add that honor to his resume.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Come for the B00bs, Stay for the Bacon, Pt. 2

So, the mascot for camp was a Blue Footed B00bie, and from there, it's not hard to see where things spiralled out of control. Homework has always been slapped with the silly stick, and this year was no exception. Our assignment: knit b00bs.

There were big ones, little ones, shy ones, saggy ones, misbehaving ones, Wicked ones, glistening ones, and there were even some manb00bs. There were b00b cupcakes, b00b egg cozies, b00b socks and b00b hats. The most important thing, as Mary pointed out, was that we do our (ahem) level breast. (So clever and funny, that one. I must go buy her book, pronto!)

All-in-all, it was a great time seeing old friends and making new.

In Tina's class, this old friend became......this new one:And this...
...left camp as this:
And these were two new friends who have joined a large family of skeins here at home:
Chalk another year up in the books. Wonder what they'll have in store for 2011...

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Come for the B00bs, Stay for the Bacon

I am a couple of days out from my return after Sock Camp, and I am two days into bacon detox. Sock Camp is about many things, not the least of which is food. But I get ahead of myself.

I flew into Seattle a day early for some fun and frivolity with Ana and Leslie, friends from two previous retreats with Cat Bordhi in Friday Harbor. I also know Ana from the Alaska Sea Socks cruise a few years ago. Leslie picked me and Ana up at the airport and we were off, with stops at three yarn shops, a conveyor belt sushi lunch, ice cream at Molly Moon's (I cheated), and a delish coffee at Fuel. Then it was back to the hotel for a break before heading out for more food later. I spent my afternoon walking around the Pike Place Market, with pit stops at the John Fluevog store (it's so itty bitty compared to Chicago), and a lovely wine shop near the market. Then it was back to the Hotel Max. (It was a great deal and perfect for a one-night stay when I wasn't planning on being in the room very much. The hotel is stylish, but the rooms and bathrooms are small, but for the price, it was great.) Japanese was the theme for the day, and that night we dined at Maneki which was simply fantastic and incredibly reasonable. Three of us ate quite well for $40!

The next morning we headed down to The Hangar Cafe by Boeing Field for breakfast crepes. (This trip was rife with cheats for me!) From there, we headed to the ferry and toward Bainbridge Island, home of my absolutely favorite yarn store ever, Churchmouse. Their selection, display, friendliness, and helpfulness never wavers. Some loveliness, including a Habu tunic kit made their way home with me. I also picked up the folio of Churchmouse Classics--gorgeous! From there, it was off to Port Ludlow.

Camp, as ever, defies accurate description. It's silly, inspiring, touching, educational, gut-bustingly funny, exhausting, and fulfilling. I got to have classes with two new (to me) teachers who I would be happy to take class with again in the future. Both Anne Hanson and Sivia Harding were wonderful. Because of Sivia, I am going to be seeking out projects in need of a beaded cast-on, and Anne actually made me want to swatch! A dyeing class with the Depraved Dyer, Tina Newton, and a sock anatomy lesson with Stephanie Pearl-McPhee rounded out the classes.

Part Two to follow, but to tide you over...

...this is the dog who delivers coffee to the Inn.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Dang, People...

Well, it looks like the Weather Pixie down in the lower left corner has skipped town. I would, too, if I were her, because--as I said before--Chicago is a cruel mistress. Today it was almost 70, so I spent nearly the whole afternoon out and about in the neighborhood. It was lovely. But, before I haul out the open-toed shoes (yeah, like that would happen before a major league pedicure appointment), we are scheduled for at least one more snowfall, purportedly this weekend. Dang, people, that is just mean.

So, the other night I was adjusting the ice pack on my shoulder, the hot water bottle on my bicep, and the cat that likes to lie on top of the hot water bottle on my bicep (we aim to redefine "cumbersome" here in this house) when I felt something akin to marbles under my skin. Needless to say, it freaked me out just a bit. When I got to physical therapy today, I asked my therapist about it. "Oh, those, yep, I've been feeling them in there for a few days." Yikes. I have never had a healing process take this long (Monday was my three month "injuverssary"), but I guess I have never been this old before. I'm learning a lot about referral pain. It's like a little poltergeist is scooting around between my neck, shoulder, bicep, tricep, elbow, and even my lower back, playing a really nasty game of hide-and-seek. I am, however, seeing some improvement in my range of motion, so after hitting the wall last week, I am feeling more optimistic. And when I get the bad, stabby pain in my arm, my vision doesn't go black anymore, just a dark indigo blue, and it fades after about 45 seconds, not the full minute or so it was lasting. That's much better!

I am fortunate to have good insurance that is covering most of my expenses, from specialists to x-rays to MRIs to cortisone injections to therapy, but I can't help but think of those who don't have coverage who must suffer horribly from events like mine and much, much worse. It makes me furious when some of our "esteemed" legislators say the words "health care bill" like they the are actually saying "toenail fungus." Yeah, Orange John, I am looking right. at. you. You, too, Cantor. And Bachmann, I see you hiding behind Foxx. Oh, and any senior who, while benefitting from Medicare, speaks of not wanting a healthcare bill shoved down his/her throat, should be ashamed of his/herself. Hypocrisy is not becoming. We gave you Bruce Springsteen for the cover of AARP magazine a few months ago, but we're taking him back. So. There.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Batting Cleanup

There is the tiniest hint of spring in the air, though I know Chicago is just messing with me and there is some big, nasty, brutally bone-chilling cold front just waiting around the corner for the day I leave the house in my cropped workout pants and no socks.

I have vowed to get some semi-completed projects out of the semi stage. I did finally finish the Harmonia's Rings Cowl I started in Friday Harbor in October. Today, with any luck, I will finish the Cardigan with Leaf Ties from Fitted Knits that was started sometime last year. I fear that this sweater will make me look like Titsy McBoobington, but I may wear it anyway. I found a different leaf pattern and used that instead of the one called for in the pattern. (UPDATE: The cardigan is finished and, yes, my new moniker is TMcB. Ah, well.)

Tithe is torturing me. It could not be an easier sweater, though there is some lazy pattern writing involved. (DO NOT just tell me to M1. Tell me which increase you used in the sweater pictured 'cause there are lots of them, and they don't all look the same. And, if you tell me that I am going to continue in pattern, increasing on a in a knit row, but then say to continue increasing every 3 rows, that means there will be an increase on a purl row. Grrrr...It's stuff that I can suss out, but I just think that it's lazy pattern writing/editing. JMHO.)

I have re-started A Little Something. I'm using some Brooks Farm yarn that may be a little too variegated to do the pattern true justice, but I am going to forge ahead. I like the drape that the yarn is producing, and I think it's going to be okay.

I had a happy little moment this morning. I was starting to fear that my Magician's Scarf was lost. I couldn't find it anywhere, and the last time I remember wearing it was on a trip to the west coast. This morning, while digging through the freezer in the basement, I found my scarf! In summer, I had frozen most of my sweaters and knitted accessories because of a *dreaded M-word* scare. (It turned out to be just that, a scare and not a real crisis, but it was a case of better to be safe than sorry. Sometimes a hole is just a hole and not an impending wool-related disaster. Whew.) Anyway, the ziploc with the scarf and a fun little wool hat I bought in New Orleans a few years back had slipped behind a frozen turkey breast and a C0stc0-sized bag of frozen veggies. My heart did a little skip when I found it because I love that scarf so very much.

This shoulder thing is getting really tiresome. I want to take yoga classes, I want to lift wet skeins of yarn out of dyepots, I want to roll over in bed without waking up, I want to put on a bra without getting tears in my eyes, and I want to stop complaining about it. It's been a roller coaster ride of one good day--which leads to false sense of security--followed by a bad day or two. It seems like this is going to be a much longer road than I originally anticipated. Ugh.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Epic Olympic Fail

If there was a gold medal for Olympics coverage watching, I would get it, yes I would. I love, love, love the Olympics, and I may even be a convert to watching NHL hockey in the future as a result. I, however, have failed miserably at knitting. It all began with a fall on the ice on December 15, which resulted in a pretty painful and persistent shoulder injury. I finally decided to deal with it after two months. I got through my first-ever MRI (as a bit of a claustrophobe, I want a medal for that), and am now getting 6 weeks of physical therapy before a decision is made about surgery. Blech. I can still knit, but my concentration isn't there, and I gave up on my Olympic project, Laminaria, almost as soon as I began. (I would still like to knit it before my trip to Estonia in fall.) See you in two years in London, fellow medal seekers.

FOs have been scarce around these parts, but there are Monster Pants.I made these for my friend's nephew (the same one who got the BSJ). I figured that since the kid lives in Scandinavia, he can use some wool pants. And a little boy named Ragnar needs Monster Pants. I love how these turned out (it took some serious fiddling to get the corners of the mouth just so), and the yarn is so fabulously soft. It's Valley Superwash DK from Webs and I will turn to it again for baby knits. Fast and fun, I will knit these more than once.

I did a little UFO assessment, and it is not pretty. There were 3 unfinished vests, 4 unfinished first socks, 2 unfinished sweaters, and 1 unfinished shawlette. Some things got frogged, and some got a reprieve. I really need to keep a lid on that situation going forward.

It's time to line up some knits for warmer weather, which, I hope, is coming. A few of the tanks I made last year are now too big. (Chicamis, I hardly knew ye.) Warm weather is coming, right?

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Slush Puddle

Maybe it's the lack of natural daylight, maybe it's the cold temps, but I am running at slow speed these days. We've had a cold winter so far, but only a couple of good snowfalls. Here in the city, things get gray, brown, and, thanks to our canine friends, yellow very quickly, so winter is just not aesthetically pleasing in these parts. It's a challenge to find inspiration. After all, who wants a handpainted yarn called Frozen Mud or Slush Puddle? (Actually, I might go with Slush Puddle...)
There is a BSJ winging its way to Estonia this week. A friend's sister had her first baby a few weeks ago, so I used that as an excuse to make something quick and cute. The baby lives in Sweden, so I hope that the package gets to his uncle in Tallinn and his uncle gets it to him in Sweden before he outgrows it! (It's BMFA STR Medium in Stonewash and Lucy, by the way.)
Speaking of Estonia, I am hoping to visit the country in fall. I've been increasingly fascinated with their knitting history and culture for some time, and I have quickly assembled an impressive library of knitting books and pamphlets, many in Estonian. (Fortunately, their patterns rely heavily on charts rather than the written word, and there are translations for some books available.) When I found out that my Swedish friend now lives in Tallinn, well, the wheels got to turning. I found a group of Irish knitters on Ravelry who are planning an Estonian knitting retreat, and I jumped on the bandwagon. If it all works out, I hope to do the retreat as well as spend a few days with my friend in Tallinn and perhaps hop over the Baltic to Stockholm. (The flights I was looking at stop in Stockholm anyway, so it shouldn't be too hard to manage, I hope.)
I've decided not to go to Blue Moon's Sock Camp this spring. I may come to regret that decision, as I'm already missing some of the friends I know will be there. I suppose I might come to change my mind...
What's coming up? A serious UFO evaluation is in the offing. Serious. And a destash. Good stuff coming to my Ravelry destash page soon. I've got a few weeks before the Olympics and the Opening Ceremony cast-on of my Laminaria, so I hope to fit in a project or two (maybe I should just finish something that's already started!)

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Knitting Catch-up

So, there was some knitting. I started a Multnomah Shawl (twice, actually, but I didn't love the first one), but it has stalled.
I made fingerless mitts for my Grandmother for Christmas because she said her hands got cold when she was watching TV or reading. I figured this way she could still turn the pages or use the remote.

My cousin's daughter got a pair of Little Snugs. Not hard to make, but you essentially have to knit them twice as the lining is almost identical to the outside.

They look like a dog's breakfast before felting, but they looked great after. (And don't let people tell you that you can't felt in a front loader. Add some old flip flops or washable sneakers and felt away. My washer has a pause button, and because the water level is actually below the door, I can open it and check in on things mid-cycle. Sure, there are a few drips, so I put an old towel on the floor first.)

I made the first of my 5 Maximus Cowls. My other cousin seems to like getting handknit items for Christmas, so she got a Maximus in the same yarn (Malabrigo Aquarella in the Indy colorway) as the Cat Hat she got last year. Did I take a picture? Um, no.

Three of the remaining cowls were for moi (accessory ho!), and one for my friend, Sandra.

There have been a few other various and sundry items (a hat for a friend, a fraternal twin to that hat which I thought might be too big, so I wear it kinda slouchy myself, etc.) The house is strewn with half-finished first socks, sweater pieces, top-down sweaters that need arms, etc.
I am on a mitten kick at the moment. I have set about collecting mitten patterns from around the world. The mail lady definitely has some questions about the sudden onslaught of packages from Estonia, I'm sure. I don't know what set it off, but it is here to stay for a little while. Right now I've got some Finnish mittens that need to be finished! (Sorry!!!)
The Ambien I took three hours ago still has not kicked in, so I may be off to Internet shoe shop, a common cure for insomnia around these parts...

Friday, January 15, 2010

It's Only Rock and Roll...

So, like I was saying…

Hmm, when I step back, I really step back, yeah? Well, turns out I was having too much fun in October and November to blog, and then December happened, and December is all December-y, and, well, if it isn’t about the holidays, it just isn’t happening.

So, what was all this fun I was talking about? I took a really fun trip to the east coast. I flew into Philly and spent several days visiting my grandparents, my mom, my brother, and my friend, Amy, and her brood. I also met up with some old h.s. friends at a local bar that I had never actually been to back when I lived in PA. On Oct. 14, I drove back down to Philly to see Bruce Springsteen at the second of his final four shows at the now-retired Spectrum. (The only other concert I’d ever been to there was--get this--Barry Manilow when I was 13. Big difference!) It was a great show featuring the entire Darkness on the Edge of Town album. It was fantastic to see him in Philly, which, being right across the river from Jersey, has always claimed Bruce as an honorary son. It was so incredibly loud--the loudest show I have ever been to--and at one point I reached down to feel the tops of my boots vibrating!

The next morning I took Amtrak to NYC to spend two days with my old roommate, Tim, and his partner. I got to see a few other college friends, too, and had a fantastic time. Then it was back on Amtrak to spend a few days with my friend, Adele, and her family. Adele is a designer and artist, and her husband is a theater professor, so you can only imagine how quirkycoolsmart their 7-year-old son is. I love this kid! Among other things, we spent the weekend devising scents for an imaginary candle company that specializes in the scents of Medieval times. I know…weird. And totally so much fun. And, oh, I went to Webs.

October brought a return to the PNW, and yet another reunion of sorts with a h.s. friend. I hadn’t seen my friend Jim in 16 years, and had never met his wife and children. A visit with them to their home in Seattle was a great way to start the week. From there, I traveled up to San Juan Island for my second retreat with Cat Bordhi. This year my friend, Liz, was also there, and a great time was had by all. The Lakedale Resort was beautiful, with lots of paths through the woods to walk and reflect. So many nice people, and, of course, the wonderful Cat leading the way.

I saw The Boss three more times in November: in Milwaukee, Nashville, and the last show of the tour in Buffalo. (I also saw a Bruce Hornsby in a solo show out in the ‘burbs.) Milwaukee was a fantastic show--even the husband had a good time--and the band was in great form. The next morning--I kid you not--I had coffee with members of Megadeth and Slayer (okay, not with so much as adjacent to) who were staying at the same hotel. If you think metal musicians spend their morning coffee time talking about drugs, sex, and rock and roll, you’re wrong; they talk about wanting to lose another 10 lbs., where they can get a pair of jeans tailored, and where the nearest bookstore is. Sorry if that totally blows the illusion. Three days later, my friend, Sandra, and I had GA tix in Nashville. We did the whole afternoon-long lottery process hoping to get into the pit, but it was not to be. We made friends with three young guys from England who had spent all the money they had (and some they didn’t) to come over for the show. While we were all licking our wounds from not getting in the pit, they told us about all the European festivals they went to over the summer. We did our best to not look like scary cougar-types, though their accents were most adorable. Besides, we’re both married and probably old enough to be their mothers. Fate smiled upon us, though, and we not only found a great spot on the floor right behind the pit, but we got to touch Bruce Springsteen. Oh, yeah, my left hand was dripping with Boss sweat. (Some of you may not find that as appealing as I do, but it will go down as a lifetime highlight for me, to be sure.)

By the end of the night, I decided that I wasn’t done living the groupie life, so when I got back to Chicago, I started scoping the secondary market for a Buffalo ticket. On Saturday morning, I got up and packed a bag in anticipation, and reserved a flight to Buffalo for that night. (I had a freebie coming on Southwest, and their supremely awesome cancellation policy meant that I could change my mind up to an hour before the flight was to leave and keep my free ticket.) After watching for a single ticket all morning (and reluctantly ruling out a good one available for $900 and not wanting to sit in the rafters for $300 if I could avoid it), just after noon a great ticket popped up in my location-to-price comfort zone. Now, if you’ve ever bought a ticket on the secondary market the day before a show, you may already understand how this works, but it was crazy to me. The broker calls the ticket holder who confirms the availability of the ticket. The ticket holder then contacts the buyer with details on how to do the pick-up. I flew to Buffalo with the cell phone number of “TixGuy” and a tentative arrangement to call him the day of the show to get the ticket. It was a little nervous making, but in the end, I was able to spot his burgundy sedan, and he recognized my green scarf, and the connection was made. It was an amazingly good show and such a fun time. I know there was at least one fellow Raveler in the crowd as she and I exchanged messages in the Backstreets Board on Ravelry. I also met another Raveler at a bar before the show. I was standing there waiting for my drink and struck up a conversation with a couple at the bar. Turns out she was a knitter from Toronto. (Neither she not I was sporting any knitwear to give us away, so it was a pretty interesting coincidence.)

Um, any knitting happened during all of this? Honestly, not too much, but I will post about that next.