Life in LaLaLumay Land

25 May 2011

Hello World

I am a curious about the news of the world.
For the past ten weeks, here has been no other news in Pittsburgh other than this:


photo courtesy of Dancing with the Stars

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26 April 2011

Select City

According to the distributors of Forks Over Knives, I have lived in a number of "select cities." Naturally, Pittsburgh is not one of them.



Confession: I have fallen and have landed very far from the vegan wagon, however, I do think that increasing fruit and vegetable -- while decreasing meat and dairy -- consumption is a valid dietary option for those who cannot commit to a vegetarian or a vegan lifestyle.

Since Jessica is Queen Documentary Watcher, I got an early commitment from her to see the move with me -- provided it ever plays in Pittsburgh!

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27 May 2010

Skunky Cougar

If Punky Brewster were a 40-something suburban divorced woman, she would be a skunky cougar... which is how I look and feel.

This week I received a gratis cut and color for agreeing to "model" clothing and hair at a Ladies Night Out in a salon -- in mall!

I appreciate freebies, but this particular freebie combines my two most loathed hair trends --
  1. highlights that look like 1970s "frosting hair"
  2. the chopped up bob with various layers showing
I was explicit about wanting one length and not wanting any sort of layered choppiness to my hair. Additionally, I was very explicit about wanting subtlehighlights. Trust me when I say that photo hides a multitude of sins.

One washing and my natural wave will make those layers look even worse unless I commit to flat ironing. So much for growing out my hair. After June 7th, I will be channeling Sinead O'Connor circa 1987.

I do want what I haven't got -- my perfect hair style.

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25 May 2010

Ten Months

Today marks tenth months of living my new life in Pittsburgh. I wish I could say that I do not miss New York -- even upstate -- but I doubt if I will ever stop missing New York. The city is under my skin, and it always will be.

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12 May 2010

Poke Me

Late last week, my father went to pick poke with a friend. I have read about poke, but I had never eaten it. I was so pleasantly surprised.

My mother blanched it, and then she sauteed it in olive oil and (a ton of) garlic. I ate a generous portion with a baked potato for lunch yesterday. Poke reminds me of spinach, but with a much more subtle flavor. An added benefit is that poke does not make my teeth "squeak" the way spinach does.

Have you eaten poke? How do you prepare it?

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29 April 2010

Early Bird

While walking this morning, I saw a bird pecking at a worm.


A Gummi Worm.

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01 April 2010

No Fooling!

Earlier today, I emailed a friend to let her know about a pair of trousers that she -- and every woman in the US, if not the world -- needs to own. When I mentioned that I had bought a pair for myself, she did not believe me. You see, I have not owned a pair of trousers (or jeans) since high school, and it is April Fool's Day.

Ladies, let me just say that these trousers are Magic Pants (not to be confused with the Mormon Magic Underpants). Run to your nearest Banana Republic, and ask for the Martin skinny crop pant.

While they are anything but cropped on me (I am 5'2"), I will argue that this particular pair of "skinnies" defies the general What Not to Wear rules. Look at the close up...my thighs do not look gargantuan. In fact, I think these are the most flattering trousers I have ever worn, and I can wear them with either flats or heels.


So here is the proof that I own trousers -- and they are black trousers no less. I threw out all of my black clothing after a color analysis done in August 2003. In addition to the black magic pants, I also bought a black sweater on clearance. I had intended to wear it -- over a mustard Uniqlo layering shirt -- for football season, however, I doubt if I will have the stomach to root for the Steelers this season. Guys, stay out of bars!

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11 February 2010

Just In Time

When I saw this gorgeous neck warmer/cowl in the Dreads & Purls Etsy shop, I just had to have it. The autumnal colors would complement both of my wool winter coats and compliment my coloring. It arrived today -- just in time for the third winter storm to hit Pittsburgh, PA.

Sometimes, I find neck warmers/cowls to be too slouchy for me, but I prefer the slouch to the strangle that I experience with most bulky scarves. I thought about knitting a dickey to wear this winter, but that would require 1) knitting, 2) thought about how to size it to fit over my head without squeezing it while fitting my neck properly. I avoid turtlenecks because I cannot abide even a momentary compression of my head. Just 5 seconds of wearing a skull-crushing headband gives me a headache.

Tanya (aka "Curls") knit this lovely neck warmer/cowl with three colors of Karabella Aurora 8, and it feels divine. Not to diminish the neck warmer/cowl, but I think the pin may be my favorite. Like most of the pieces in the Dread & Curls Etsy shop, it included a gorgeous retro pin. This particular pin belonged to Tanya's mother, so it makes this all the more special to me.

How is it that I look both jowl-y and haggard in these photos?

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13 September 2009

Not So Smug

Ignoring the invitation of Saturday's late-summer gorgeousness, I devoted the day to sorting, organizing, and purging. I winnowed out cards, letters, and bits-n-bobs from the past 30 years of my life. I even managed to reduce the collection of cards from my parents to a small, precious stack -- which I believe can be made smaller still.

[Frankly, the only card I feel I must keep from them is the one from Easter 2009. It arrived to me in early June -- complete with a joke from my mother that this year she had a very good reason for being late. Her handwriting in that card is no different from the one from my 25th birthday. This tangible reminder of how lucky she was is a great comfort to me.]

Given all that I had purged, I was feeling rather proud, if not a little smug. Well, the smug was smacked right out of me by this bag of journals and letters.



The letters are mostly from a former friend and from former flames. Love letters are tricky because they are bittersweet (often more bitter than not), and their relevance is long-removed.

Have you kept or purged the mementos and letters of your past loves?

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21 August 2009

Maarit Shrug & Mobility

Mobile phones are utterly annoying. People are too busy texting and/or yapping when they show be driving, watching their snot-nosed spawn, or conversing with their dinner companion. Thus, I resisted owning one for years, but I caved after Mum's stroke.

Am I glad I did! Without my (camera) phone, I would missed the opportnity to document this quintessential Pittsburgh gem.

For those not versed in the fine patois of Pittsburghese, "yinz" is the plural form of you. Vosotros, Ustedes, Y'all... yinz get the picture.

Get this. I have another finished knitting project. Like Lorelei, this was an easy project, but it languished because I am so lazy about finishing and seaming.

Maarit Shurg (from a Yarn Central newsletter)
June 13 - June 18, 2009. Seamed August 20, 2009 (during Project Runway's All-Star Challenge)
Less than 2 balls of Rowan Calmer, #481 Coffee Bean
#11 US needles

The finished garment pleases me in theory, but not in practice. I am not entirely convinced of the wearability. That bit of exposed skin between the the shrug and the dress annoys the hell out of me! Maybe I am more of a "wrap girl" than a "shrug girl"?

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18 August 2009

Lorelei and Other Laments

Moving is hell. I cannot imagine the hysteria and the nightmare that moving (the contents of) a house and other people would have induced in me. Moving my personal belongings proved to be enough of a trauma. Actually, the moving was easy, it is the unpacking that is so difficult. Unpacking, the organizing, the finding homes for things that is so problematic for me.

If taking nearly three weeks to unpack suggests that I am a procrastinator, then
the story of Lorelei will fully convince you.

Lorelei from Yarn Play

34" size (modified the waist for a tighter fit)
~4 balls Rowan Calmer, #462 Chiffon
(from the frogged Ribby Shell)
~ 1/2 ball Noro Silk Garden #34 (left over from Clapotis)
#7 US needle

February 15 - March 5, 2009: knitting
March 5 - Mid-June, 2009 languishes forgotten in my trunk
Mid-June - July 24, 2009: struggling with crochet edges
July 25, 2009: knitted bind off results in a boa constrictoresque bottom edge
August 13, 2009: rip back to slip stitch crochet edge, ignore armholes, and call it "good enough"

Given the length of time from start to (wearable) finish, I think many were expecting me to either give up or frog the garment. Not so! I am so pleased with the result, and once the humidity reaches a tolerable level, Lorelei will be shown around Pittsburgh.

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03 August 2009

Closet Case

New York City dwellers (rightfully) complain of small and/or non-existant closets. Given that so many city apartments are the size of a closet, it stands to reason that the closet would be even more confining within that space. The closet in my Chelsea apartment was terribly small, but it seems airy compared to the closet in my bedroom at my parents' house. While the house appears to be large from the outside, the lack of space and storage is almost stifling.



The closet dimensions are -- brace yourselves -- a decent 47" wide by 12.5" deep. Yes, I have a bit more than a foot of closet depth in which to smoosh my clothing. This has brought about a sort of clothing reckoning, and I have begun the process of purging clothing that I really no longer need.

Speaking of need...we are still minus internet at the house, but I am working on that.

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25 July 2009

Gone!


By the time I get to Pittsburgh, I will have finished objects. See you in August!

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24 July 2009

Going, Going...

My father is roughly 30 minutes away.
I turned in my office keys today.
For two weeks, I have eaten three times my body weight in "goodbye" meals.
With the exception of my cosmetics and my toothbrush, everything is packed.
Tomorrow I move to Pittsburgh.

Thank you for your comments and wishes.

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13 July 2009

Thirteen Days

After a bit of soul-searching, I have made the decision to be closer to my family. In exactly thirteen days, my father and I will drive the 400+ miles from Beekman, New York to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Pittsburgh at night


The desire to be closer to my family has haunted me since 2008, but my mother's stroke pulled it all into focus for me. My future with Joe is a large gray area, which makes me sad. However, his mother is ill, and each of us is doing what we must -- while being supportive of each other's decisions and needs.

Rather than look at this as an ending, we are looking at this move as a beginning.

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22 June 2009

In Between Day

Today is the in between day.

One day that falls between my birthday and Joe's birthday. With all that is going for both of us in terms of work and family, spending time alone with him was the best gift yesterday.

I do not care for birthday hoopla, but it was very pleasant to get so many birthday wishes on my Facebook wall. I do not check my work email during the weekend -- and my Facebook account is linked to that email -- so I was buried in a slew of wishes.

Thank you!

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20 May 2009

Five Weeks

It always stuck me as strange how the weather became part of the discussion regarding the events of September 11, 2001. But it must be something in us that forces us to look for the beauty or the normalcy in a day that goes horribly wrong.

As I replay the events of Saturday morning, April 11th, I am struck by the truth of how fast things changed. It is trite to say that life can change in an instant, but now that I have experienced this firsthand, it does not seem trite at all.

My mother suffered a stroke that morning before Easter, and there is no way to describe what I felt as I witnessed it. In was nothing short of feeling as if I were that cartoon character whose body is broken into pieces -- all of which are moving in different directions. There is such a swirl of emotions that you almost feel calm.

Five weeks later, and I am back from Family & Medical Leave. My mother is better in some senses, but suddenly health problems are cropping up. It is maddening to be so far from my parents at such a time. Who will drive me mother to her doctor appointments? Who will pack my father's lunch? Who will decipher the medical speak for both of them?

I am thankful that both of my parents are living, but this event has made their -- not to mention my own -- mortality seem too tangible.

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06 April 2009

Jeanless Gina

Apparently, my boss is not the only person stumped by the fact that I do not own a pair of jeans, so is Materfamilias. First off, I know this sounds ridiculous to those of you who regard jeans as a sort of "uniform" -- that answer to just about every sartorial question, but I am not alone. Until her pregnancy, I believe that Valentina owned and wore only skirts -- to the exclusion of jeans and trousers.

In fact, when Valentina and I were planning to meet for the first time, we giggled (via email) to each other "I'll be the one not wearing pants!".

So, why no jeans (or trousers)? Well, much of has to do with my childhood, my body shape, and my personal style. Skirts were the easiest option (for me) during the years I trained in ballet. Although, now that I think about it, I owned a few pairs of jeans, corduroy jeans, and trousers in high school...

But, I tend to feel most comfortable in skirts and dresses. I also think they flatter my figure the most. Largely, jeans and trousers really do not fit my personal style that incorporates a serious love of vintage. If I did not have to work at an office, I could easily lounge around in satin gowns ala Jean Harlow in Dinner at Eight.

I am not exactly a "glamour girl", but wearing a skirt or a dress gives the impression that one is dressed (up), rather than merely dressed. I feel more pulled together, more feminine even, in a skirt or a dress.

My favorite bitch, Leigh gets it. Give me Dita's maribou over denim any day!

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03 April 2009

The April Rains

April is my least favorite month. The weather is a bizarre display of two or three seasons within just a few hours, but the season begs us to come out and play. I was tagged by both Sunny of Morning's Light and Mardel of Purls and Murmurs (although she tagged me on her other blog -- she maintains three!).

I am not following the rules with regard to replacing and reworking questions. In fact, I deleted several questions because who needs to read this about me. Also, I am tagging only two people -- Tanya and Nancy -- just to piss them off.

Do you nap? Napping is not natural to me. I only nap if I am ill, or after Joe and I have enjoyed alone time on a weekend afternoon.

What was the last thing you bought? A Bobbi Brown cream eyeshadow.

What are you listening to right now? The office clock that runs slowly unless I am at lunch.

What is your favourite weather? I am a sucker for gloomy and doomy. Thunderstorms are fantastic!


What’s on your bedside table?
A lamp, a water pitcher and glass, lip balm, and my reading glasses.

What are you currently reading? I just finished A Homemade Life, so I need to find something sweet and charming.

Name the things you can’t live without. Oxygen, water, food, human contact.

What would you like to have in your hands right now? A sizable severance package.

What is your favourite tea flavour? Lavender Earl Grey is a staple. My current favorite is Teavana's Azteca Fire.

What would you like to get rid of? Everything. It would be utterly freeing to strike a match and walk away from stuff.

What is your favorite scent of candle? Illume's Coconut Milk Mango.

What did you want to become as a child? An archeologist, a nun, and a ballerina.

What's your favorite brand of jeans? I do not own a pair of jeans.

Say something to the person/s who tagged you: Sunny, thank you for allowing me to vent! Mardel, you are a wonderful and delightfully cool person.

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03 March 2009

Lion, Lamb, and Lorelei

In spite of all signs to the contrary (see right), the Spring season is upon us.

In the past, I found Spring to be a triffle depressing. Who knows why, but I do not feel that way this year. In fact, I am anxiously awaiting the arrival of the season as if it were bringing me a new job and a mended retirement portfolio.

In a fit of Spring Fever -- not to mention a desire to make use of stash yarn -- I cast on for Lorelei from Yarn Play. I am using the Rowan Calmer reclaimed from my Ribby Shell, and it is going to be a close call if I have enough yarn.

I have reached the divide for front, back, and armholes, and I am not entirely certainly of the neckline. I think the pattern is quite pretty, however, I suspect that a wider U-neck (vs. the V-neck) could be more flattering.

I have a bit of time considering that there is roughly 10" of snow that needs to melt before I can even think about wearing a sleeveless top.

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25 February 2009

Forty Days

In spite of a childhood spent in the Catholic church and a youthful desire to be a nun (and a ballerina), I am not religious. Neither are several of my friends, but with Lent upon us, we often use this time to to break a habit or to form a new one.

One friend is giving up sugar. Another is giving up meat. A forty-day Raw Food Diet would be a great challenge, but sustaining dietary extremes is difficult for me. Afterall, I share a life with a man who regards individually wrapped slices of plastic as "cheese".

I contemplated Baron Baptiste's 40 Days to Personal Revolution as the perfect undertaking, but I do not own the book. Can I start a day or two late? Will I lose points?

What are you working on in your life?

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02 February 2009

She's a Maniac

My relationship with Pittsburgh, the city of my birth, has been a strange one. Growing up there I knew I wanted to leave, but living away has me a touch homesick.

While I have my fair share of criticisms of the city -- Yes, it is a city where sweatpants and over-sized sports jerseys are appropriate restaurant wear -- , it annoys me beyond words when others talk shit about the city of my birth. The Pittsburgh Steelers are an embodiment of the city. Underestimated, tough, and always surprising.

I grew up in the age of the Steel Curtain, but it is a complete surprise to all of my friends that I still keep an eye on the Pittsburgh Steelers. Last night, I was the picture of the much-discussed Steelers Cult of Loyalty.

To know me is to need smelling salts at the mention of me
1) watching a sporting event of my own volition
2) doing so at a sports bar
But the secret is out. I am a rabid fan -- type who screams for blood and curses the opposing team. After three accusations of being a johnny-come-lately fan by a slug in a New York Jets XXXXXL jersey, I gave him the full-on hate glare and simply retorted, "I was born and raised in Pittsburgh."

To come from Pittsburgh is to know the pure joy of hoping and believing that anything is possible -- even with only 43 seconds to go.

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12 January 2009

Everybody Hurts

From an email sent to me recently:


SUBJECT: The gay and the sweater curse

I feel really bad for not warning my friend John about the boyfriend sweater curse. He made his beau a beautiful Icelandic Lopi sweater. Then he got dumped a week after giving it to him. I didn't know it affected the gay too.



It seems unfair that those prohibited to marry should suffer this terrible curse.

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31 December 2008

Finish Line

The year is nearly over, and I am ready to "start fresh". My knitting this year was rather spotty, but I am ending on a high note. A finished object that is a 100%, unconditional winner has been a long time coming, but allow me to present...

#28 Ribbed Pullover by Heather Carlson from Vogue Knitting, Holiday 2008

I cast on December 10th, and I finished all of the knitting by December 23rd. After a week of procrastination, I spent an hour at Yarn Central yesterday grafting the underarms.

Mardel gifted me 8 balls of Jaeger Matchmaker Merino DK for the project as a means of knitting inspiration. The pullover used 5 balls.

As for needles, the body, arms and most of the ribbing was knitted using my US #6 Denise Needles. I used my US #5 and #4 Knitpicks Options for several round of the yoke ribbing.

Speaking of the yoke, I added "length" to the ribbing, as I knew that covering my bra straps would make this far more wearable. The only other modification was to my gauge. My gauge was 19 (vs. 20) stitches to 4", so I knit the 34" size.

This was my second time grafting stitches, and I gained good deal of confidence in my ability. Interestingly, this was the first garment I knit in the round where I had to join the sleeves to the body and complete the yoke. I do like the ease of knitting in this manner, I prefer the look of either a set-in sleeve or a raglan sleeve.

I am very pleased with the garment, and I offer a toast to a 2009 filled with knitting success stories for everyone! Happy New Year!

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26 December 2008

Crappy Christmas

Today I should be posting a photo of my completed #28 Ribbed Pullover, but I did not finish the underarms yesterday. I certainly had the time -- six hours in the ER while Joe rehydrated and recouperated from a particularly violent stomach virus -- but I did not bring the project with me.

If Christmas Day at the ER sounds dire, please think about the woman in the room next to Joe's. Her 22-day old baby had been vomiting for nearly every day of it's life. As if the sound of a wailing baby under such conditions was not enough to break my heart, the sound of a nurse running and screaming down the corridor, "The baby is coding!" finished the job. The mother's hysterical cries sucked my heart into my stomach.

I ran to the bathroom. I felt dizzy. I felt sick. I felt the heart and soul of that poor mother slowly dying with her baby, and I did something I have not done in years -- I prayed. I prayed for a Christmas miracle.

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24 December 2008

Christmas Eve

To Joe and his family, this is simply the night before Christmas. To me, this is the night for a loud family gathering, anchovy spaghetti, and smelts. I used to balk at the traditions, but I miss them. Too lazy to cook an elaborate Italian-American Christmas Eve dinner, I am the least stressed woman in the corridors at work.

Speaking of work, yesterday was my last day at the office until January 5, 2009. With so much time off and no holiday obligations smothering me, I had the day free to do some knitting. The #28 Ribbed Pullover is nearly finished. All that remains are a few loose ends to weave in and grafting the underarms.

Conceivably, I could finish in time to wear this for Christmas dinner -- if only I had a loud family function to attend!

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19 December 2008

Nachos, Not Needles

Celeste, Anneliese, Mardel, Sharyn, me, Theresa, Betsy
Note the lack of needles and yarn.



Nothing says Happy Holidays like nacho chips, tequila, and handknits -- at least to the Thursday night Yarn Central knitting group.

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18 December 2008

Better Beryl

If you are a knit blogger, you may remember the online friction erupting as a result of one blogger relating her experience in a yarn store and another blogger calling her out for being rude. There is a fine line between the right to free speech and speaking without thinking.

When I posted my original photo of Beryl on Ravelry, I did not think about the consequences. My beef was with how my body carried the garment, band I was trying to be funny. However, that photo would have hurt my feelings if I were Bonne Marie. I apologized privately for my thoughtlessness, but I wanted to do so publicly.

Most commenters thought Beryl looked fine on me, and a few offers some suggestions about top and skirt options, as well as the sound advice of a more uplifting bra.

Sure enough, when paired with a higher-waisted skirt, I feel Beryl is more of a winner. I still may rework the button placket -- it should be longer for my torso -- but I do feel more confident wearing Beryl now than I did the first time.

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11 December 2008

Sit Down

Sit down!
Stop drinking!
Swallow whatever you are chewing!
Mark your calendar!
Stop the presses!
Alert the media!

I have cast on for a sweater!


This is the visually uninteresting start of the #28 Ribbed Pullover from the Holiday 2008 edition of Vogue Knitting. I am using the Jaeger Matchmaker Merino DK yarn gifted to me by Mardel, and it is a pleasure to knit with.

As my 4" gauge is 19 stitches, rather than 20 stitches, I am following the pattern instructions for the 34" sizing. I probably should have used an alternate cable cast on instead of a knitted cast on, but I am not ripping back to change that.

After such a long knitting slump, I feel positive about this project. So positive that I had to fight the somewhat weather-induced urge to stay home and spend the day knitting. A good sign!

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10 December 2008

Pittsburgh Stash Enhancement

During my knitting funk, I systematically sold, donated, and purged much of my stash. Slowly, I am shedding my hoarding instincts, not to mention material goods. By no means am I living a Spartan lifestyle; I still own plenty of junk -- necessary and otherwise.

While it seems counter-intuitive to collect to purge and then collect again, it is difficult to resist a bargain I do know that the most expensive item one owns is the unused/forgotten bargain, but these will not go unused.

Last month, Mardel gifted me with 8 skeins of Jaeger Matchmaker Merino DK in a perfectly muted and nearly-fetid mustard. It is slated for the #28 Ribbed Pullover from the Holiday 2008 issue of Vogue Knitting (Ravelry link).

While a trip to a Pittsburgh yarn store might have yielded another project, I opted for a day of purging many of my belongings from my parents' attic in favor of acquiring more stuff. Yes, even yarn can be stuff.

However, I am not made of stone. during a quick trip to Pat Catan's Craft Center with my mother, I spotted 8 skeins of the 100% Australian wool DK-weight yarn that I had noticed in May when it was $1.00 per ball. Sometimes, patience does save, as I scored the Palette Yarn for half that price. What sweet pleasure is 792 yards of yarn for $4.00?

Very sweet indeed!

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09 December 2008

Pittsburgh Projects II

A much as I loathe the snow, I loathe bitter cold without snow even more. The weather this time of year is a big tease. The sun is out, but the temperature is low, and the wind is so shockingly brutal that one suffers a brain freeze from mouth breathing.

It has been a bitter Autumn that I sort of lost track of time in Pittsburgh, and I labored under the delusion that Spring was on the horizon. Ha!

At least I have my Dolores Park Cowl -- knit November 28, 2008 - November 29, 2008 while watching a marathon of the third season of Dexter -- to see me through harsh elements.

The cowl used nearly one full hank of Plymouth Baby Alpaca Grande #1709, and was knit using a #10.5 US Denise circular needle.

What to knit next? There are few patterns in Boutique Knits that are in the queue, but I am toying with the idea of -- gasp! -- a sweater.

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08 December 2008

Pittsburgh Projects I

Given that my knitting funk was longer and more depressing than the Hollywood writers' strike, giving precious suitcase space to yarn and needles seemed silly. I did pack a nearly-finished hat, as well as one hank of yarn for a cowl. Paper takes up far less space than yarn and/or a finished project, so I did pack a few patterns. However, I never visited a yarn store, and those languished in my suitcase.

I did visit a local craft store, but that is for another post. This post is dedicated to the celebration of a finished project that I have worn several times since completion: The Sideways Grande Cloche by Laura Irwin (Boutique Knits)

Additional Info:
November 8, 2008 - November 30, 2008. Laziness turned a two-day project into a three-week project.

I used roughly 1.5 hanks of Plymouth Baby Alpaca Grande #1709, and I had to drop down to US #7, US #6, US #5, and US #4 Denise circular needles to get gauge!

I modified the pattern only slightly but casting on six less stitches for a less “deep” hat.

I am very pleased with everything -- except for the Carol Bradyesque hair poking out from the hat that is.

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29 November 2008

Checking In

While my good friend Dean is working his second job for a few hours, I am availing myself of some precious internet time. Life sans internet allowed me to do some reading last week.

The Last Lecture The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch


Crampton Hodnet Crampton Hodnet by Barbara Pym


The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer





Knitting, while slow, is presnt. The Sideways Grande Cloche from Boutique Knits is two seams away from "finished object". I cast on for the Dolores Park Cowl yesterday, and I suspect it will be my quickest knit.

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20 November 2008

Two Week (S)Pa Vacation

My bags are packed, and I am ready for two full weeks of rest and relaxation.

While I wish my visit was a fortnight at a spa such as the Nemacolin Woodlands Resort, it is actually a two-week visit to the city of my birth: Pittsburgh, Pa. Hence the (s).

Some may remember that my parents eschew conveniences such as an ATM card, an answering machine, and internet access; and as as such, it is a bit of a spa vacation for me. I have no choice but to step away from the computer and run at a low-tech pace.

My suitcase is filled with yoga DVDs, books, and knitting needles/patterns; and my plan is to return with a finished knitting project, a finished book or two, and a stronger commitment to my health and fitness. If I return... Today is my final day of work until Monday, December the 8th. How will I get back into the "swing" of the office after such a long break?

Early Thanksgiving wishes to everyone!

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17 November 2008

1930s Wife

I used to think that I was born in the wrong time because the clothing styles of the 1930s through the early 1960s are more flattering to my figure than most "modern" garments. While the fashions may flatter the morays of the time do not. I would have been a crashing failure in the 1930s.

8

As a 1930s wife, I am
Very Poor (Failure)

Take the test!



I stole this from my fellow Dark Lady, Nancy. Happily, I scored as crappy as she did -- and she is married with children!

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05 November 2008

The Outcome

In the days leading up to the election, I was not as hopeful as many around me. I was just as cautious about declaring Beryl a winner. While modelling the sleeveless garment for my knitting group -- the Sweater Primaries -- I was assured that it would be adorable with sleeves. I remained skeptical. The short button placket worried me.

It may not carry the same civic weight, but knitting can deliver a crushing defeat. The money, the time, the hard work, and there are no guarantees that you get a winner.

Beryl is not a resounding failure, but it is a bit frumpy-dumpy. Had I made a few modifications, it could be a different outcome. Lengthening the body/button placket, shortening the peplum, and adding bust-shaping darts would have taken this from "hopeful" to "winner".

Beryl by Bonne Marie Burns
12 October 2007 - 4 November 2008
4.24 balls of Cascade 220 Superwash, #6481
US8 Inox circulars, US6 and US5 Denise needles

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04 November 2008

Exercising Rights

Is everyone ready for the longest day of the year? Sure, June 21st or June 22nd is the day with the longest amount of daylight, but this Election Day is going to be a long one for all of us -- poll workers, voters, and observers throughout the world.

There was a small line when I arrived at the polls at 5:58am. Spirits were high and moods were good. It was refreshing to see a line like this for something other than the After Thanksgiving sales.

There must be no early birds in my district (several districts vote at the same fire house), as I was able to check in and vote by 6:11am. I hit a momentary snag while waiting for the poll worker to realize that CAR was not on the roster page marked CAL-CAM.

This is going to sound incredibly silly coming from someone as cynical as I can be, but I love voting. I get misty approaching that curtained booth, and I am very near tears by the time I pull the lever to record my vote and walk out.

Buoyed by the voting experience, I drove to work in hopes of making the Early Bird Yoga class. After waiting twenty minutes, I deduced that I was either in the wrong place, or that the class was cancelled for Election Day.

I had prepared myself for the worst at the polls, when in fact the worst was discovering that I had missed the announcement that Early Bird Yoga would be held Thursday this week. Hey, at least I have my lunchtime ERG Rowing class!

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03 November 2008

Be Prepared

With one full day until the election, my cynicism, distrust and penchant for conspiracy theories are all on the rise. There are unsettling reports of malfunctions, difficulties, fraud and more.

Voters, arm yourselves with the knowledge and the tools to make your voting experience a positive one.

Take nothing for granted. Even if you've voted in the same place for a decade:


Verify your registration. New York voters can verify it here. Print it out and bring it with you to the polls.
Verify your polling place.
Know your voting district.
Bring identification. This is especially important for first time voters, but do not give poll workers any reason to deny you the right to vote tomorrow.


Most importantly, find your state's Voter Bill of Rights online, print out, and bring it to the polls with you. The NY voter's rights info includes fraud hot line numbers, and I believe these numbers are listed elsewhere.

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21 October 2008

Devil's Haircut

After a little more than a week of suffering with an extremely awkward and frumpy haircut, I was ready to throw in the towel with regard to growing it out. The process is generally not so pretty, but why start with not-so-pretty at the gate.

I thought a quick consultation at the MAC counter would revive me, but no luck. Bad hair puts me in a bad funk.

There are times in life when you have to cut your losses and move on. Inspired by Beverly and guided by Amy (Ravelry link), that is precisely what I did. More than two years after giving me a winner cut and loser highlights, I walked into a salon, and I rediscovered a good stylist.

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20 October 2008

Touched

It was another glorious weekend in Dutchess County. Even though the leaves were a little less spectacular than they were last week, and even though I did not trek to the New York Sheep & Wool Festival, I did have a lovely weekend.

The festivities began Friday when a package arrived from one my favorite people, Tanya. Tanya sent a unspeakably soft hat that I want to snuggle until late May. In addition to the softest hat on the planet, Tanya included five balls of Muench Touch Me in Celery, which is slated for Lisa Daniel's Vintage Velvet Scarf from Scarf Style (lower left photo).

Joe and I attended the Beacon Pumpkin Festival Sunday, and it was a good deal of fun. We did not buy or carve a pumpkin, but we did buy chard and other vegetables from Stony Kill Farm.

The hat is more attractive in person than the photograph above would lead you to believe. Actually, I am more attractive in person than that photograph would lead you to believe. Tanya is calling this the Lightbulb Hat, and when it is not stretched out by my egg, you can clearly see why.

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17 October 2008

Hair Affair

I refuse to belabor the point of how horrifically difficult it is to find someone who can consistently deliver the goods on a haircut. For approximately one year, I have been attempting to grow my hair to look like this (left).

I tend to favor a classic bob with a twist, as it can be simultaneously retro and modern. However, this seems to be the Sasquatch of hairstyles. A bob can flip from sassy to frumpy in a snip of the scissor. Too often I have looked more Hilary Clinton or Marilyn Quayle when I was aiming for Louise Brooks or Mary Pickford.

As if the awkwardness of the growing-out phase were not enough, nearly every haircut in the past year has resulted in the appearance of short, choppy layers where there once was smooth, longer hair. It has occurred to me that the best plan of attack maybe to cut it short and begin again. The Sartorialist's is not help in debunking this with his insistence on posting photos of this woman.

All photos courtesy of The Sartorialist.

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15 October 2008

Weekend Approaching

The weekend is approaching, and there are so many events happening this time of the year that it is impossible not to start dreaming about the weekend by Wednesday. One heralded event is the New York State Sheep & Wool Festival, aka Rhinebeck.

Last year, I skipped Rhinebeck to attend to a friend having surgery. This horrifies me because the project I was working on (Beryl) is still languishing in a bag. I only need to seam the damned set-in sleeves!

As for trekking to Rhinebeck this year, I am still undecided. Joe has a work outing Saturday, and there is the Beacon Pumpkin Festival. I visited Beacon twice this month, so why break the trend?

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14 October 2008

Omit The I

Should I become a rapper, burlesque queen, or pop icon, this is a potential stage name.

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13 October 2008

State Park Tour

While so many complain that living elsewhere in the U.S. would rob them of the seasons, there is only one season I would loathe to miss, and that is Autumn. New colors and textures are revealed daily, and it is magical.

Our weekend was a wonderful mix of time in town and time in nature. After a delicious lunch at Homespun Foods, we chanced upon an open house at the Shambhala Yoga Center in Beacon where I got my first mehndi tattoo. At my request, the artist improvised the design. The design is lovely. Getting the tattoo before hiking Mt. Beacon was not so smart.

While attempting a hike post-henna tattoo is not entirely wise, the hike would have been a failure regardless. Due to my lack of conditioning, and I was unable to venture much beyond the base of the northern peak trail. The ascent is steeeeep. The hike is a mere one mile from trail base -- minus vertigo-inducing access stairs (see photo left) -- but that one mile is a 1,531-foot ascent!

As I struggled up and then down (my fear of heights is triggered more during a decent or when looking down), a young woman in running shoes zipped by without a slip or slide. Joe needs a different girlfriend; my idea of adventure is finding an intact and inexpensive 1920s cloche.

Sunday was a better day with lunch by the Hudson River at Lake Taghkanic State Park. After lunch, we drove further north to Schodack Island State Park. From there, we went to Grafton Lakes State Park and did a 2.5 mile hike around one of the lakes. From there, we drove south to Olana in hopes of catching a sunset. We just missed it, but the light was still shining from from behind the mountains.

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07 October 2008

Geek Love


Evidence that Joe loves me even when I am a super-crankypants.
Yes, that is a scientific calculator.

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06 October 2008

Another Pretty Pause

Recently a college friend contacted me in need of a "day in the country". Actually, "recently" was September 2007. We tried this September, but the month was gone before plans were set.

Finally, plans were were made, and we settled on meeting in Beacon, New York. While Beacon may not consider itself to be very country, it is smaller and less frenetic than any section of any borough of New York City.

Matteawan Railroad Depot 1930
We strolled up Main Street to the area that was once the The Village of Matteawan (which later joined with the Village of Fishkill Landing to form the City of Beacon) is now known as Upper Main Street.

At Upper Main Street, Fishkill Creek is flanked by abandoned mills and the abandoned track of the Matteawan Freight Line. The Mattawan Station Depot has been converted to offices and shops. As much as I fear trying a new hair stylist outside of NYC, I might try the shop in the old depot -- just for the sake of visiting a piece of history.

We sat along the banks of Fishkill Creek listening to the waterfall and talking about life. The sound of rushing water is so comforting, and it was that moment that I realize how difficult it would be for me to return to living in the chaos and the crush of New York City again.

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