Sunday, June 25, 2006

Stop the Presses! The Green Gable is finished!!!!

They said it couldn't be done! The Green Gable was destined to become a UFO buried in the bottom of the closet. But NO! It is now officially a finished production. The striping that I vowed I wouldn't do became my only answer to the dilemma of no more yarn. And it actually came out better than I thought it would. I need to wash and block it but here are a couple of shots. I may actually wear it after all of this high drama... imagine that!

Now I can move on with my life. And my family and friends can stop listening to me bellyaching about this blasted project. Yee-hah! Maybe I can even get my knitting mojo back on track again. I've missed it terribly!

P.S. I think those wierd swirly lines are a camera effect because of the sheen on the cotton. I don't really have an iridescent chest (thank God!)

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

How the Dinosaurs REALLY became extinct...

This is way too cute:

Getting outside of myself feels SO good...

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This past weekend was the 22nd annual Maine Lung Association "Bike Trek Across Maine" from Bethel to Rockland. That is 180 miles of punishing hills, black flies and mosquitoes, rough roads and grueling heat ridden by over 1400 bikers over the course of three days. For the past seven years, this event has raised over one million dollars for the good work the state association does. Every penny raised goes towards their efforts to make our air cleaner and healthier.

Everyone involved with the Trek has a compelling reason to participate. Riders often wear pictures of loved ones victimized by lung disease. Homemade signs along the route invoke riders to remember "Uncle Jim" or "Poppa" to keep up their resolve. In my case, my involvement has been dedicated to the memory of my mother who died in July 1979 from lung cancer at the age of 50. Riding the trek in 1999 just prior to the 20th anniversary of her death was one of the most emotional experiences of my entire life. Memories of her heart-wrenching struggle to simply take a breath sustained me and impelled me up even the steepest hills.

This is my ninth year of working with the Trek. I rode it for four years but my own health became an issue preventing me from continuing to ride. My last ride in 2001 was interrupted by a heatstroke and since I suffer from a seizure disorder (controlled by meds, thank God) my neurologist made me promise to find another way to participate. I am now a volunteer working to support the 1400+ riders who bravely push their way across the state. I have driven a supply truck, a small bus and now am in charge of one of the three rest areas each of the days. My rest area, named the "Friends Rest Area," has developed the reputation of being the liveliest, most energetic and most fun of the trek. Riders love that we have upbeat music playing and volunteers who genuinely seem to be enjoying ourselves (because we are!) I have a wonderful core of volunteers who return each year as well as some new additions. The volunteer coordinator mentioned to me that our rest area has become the most popularly requested assignment when volunteers sign up, so much so that they no longer list it on the application to ensure that other areas get covered.

Here are some shots of my great volunteers working hard (and yes, the cutie-patootie blonde working on the jelly and crackers is my very own daughter, Meredith. She proved herself an AMAZING worker! I'm SOOOOO proud of her!)

More pictures are coming.

It's an amazing event. I will say that my work as a volunteer is much harder than riding the trek but ultimately every bit as gratifying. The Trekkers are so appreciative of our efforts and many take the time to thank us for our work. We, in turn, thank them for riding for the cause. It means so much to be part of the greater effort for all of us. Making a difference feels so good.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Hitting my head against the wall because it feels so good when I stop

My knitting muse seems to have taken a powder. I can't seem to stay out of the frog pond to save my life. What's up with this? After the debacle with my Purple Green Gable sweater, I decided to rest my bruised ego by moving back to a pair of socks I had started. The first sock was done and most of the ribbing on the second was complete. This was just what the shrink would have ordered, a no-brainer project to keep me feeling productive.

Last night I am knitting merrily along with my wonderful knitting group when I suddenly see it... a dropped stitch back in one of the first ten rows. Oh, MAN! I was SO not happy to see that little loop poking its ugly little top out of my otherwise beautiful knitting. The only things preventing me from strangling myself with the yarn at that point were: 1) Sock yarn probably isn't sturdy enough to do the trick and 2) it would have left my group with the unpleasant job of disposing of the body. So I just sat there and ripped it out.

OK, maybe a Brand NEW not-yet-started project could jump start my stalled sense of accomplishment. So I whip out the new fixation yarn I bought in April

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and cast on for the Cascade Fixation Ankle Sock KAL. This should bring me in off the window ledge. It's an easy pattern, one I've made before. Four froggings later I am seriously contemplating putting my entire stash up for sale on eBay and taking up bee-keeping or hang-gliding. This is f**king ridiculous!

Has this ever happened to anyone else? I'd love to hear some other people's stories of a chain of knitting disasters. And, most importantly how did you snap the streak before poking out your eyes (or someone else's) with a pair of size 2 dpn's? Time's up for this bad trip. I'm ready to start feeling good about my knitting again.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Shoot me now!

My Green Gable sweater is 90% complete, only missing the bottom four inches. Halleluiah! The only problem is... I've run out of yarn. AAAAAAAAAGH! I was sure I had enough since I had only used half of what I had when I made the sweater the first time. You remember that posting. My pea brain had somehow managed to read the gauge as 10 stitches per inch instead of 5 stitches and the sweater ended up incredibly small. Off to the frog pond it went.

This time around I doubled the yarn, got the perfect gauge and thought I was home free. I had already decided that I wanted longer sleeves to cover my "mature" upper arms so I made those before completing the sweater. Even without that extra length in the sleeves I would still be short enough yarn to make the sweater cover my stomach. The yarn is discontinued and unavailable from any sources that I can think of so I need to improvise.

At this point I just want to finish this thing and move on. So here's my solution. I have a fairly large supply of cotton yarns in a variety of colors, dating back to a time when hubby wanted me to mass-manufacture some dishcloths for him. That project was a bust because he kept scrubbing through them, leaving gaping holes in my beautiful handiwork. I am thinking of finding one or two colors to add some striping to the bottom of the sweater and ending with some ribbing in my original purple. Granted, horizontal stripes around my belly would not be my first choice of design. This will be like putting a neon sign on it that says, "Hey, look at me!... and while you're at it, check out my big butt. " But it sure beats the hell out of a crop top. That would be just wrong at so many levels. Both solutions invite a visit from the fashion police but my stripe idea will only get me a fine. The crop top could land me in fashion jail.

I'd love to know why this project has become such a nightmare. It somehow seemed doomed from the start. I really love the design and it really isn't a complicated pattern. Maybe someday I can try it again without wanting to tear my hair out at the roots! In the meantime, I need to get on with my life.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Because it's still raining like a somofabeech and we all need a laugh...

This guy is goo-ood. How sad is it that I remember most of these dances and thought I was so cool doing them...

Happy weekend, y'all.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

What's the deal with shoe fashions?

First off, let me say that I HATE shopping for shoes. I feel a little strange admitting that since many of the women I know use it as therapy... as in "I'm feeling a little down today. I think I'll go shoe shopping." I have always avoided the experience whenever possible. My tendency is to grab and run, finding a servicable pair and getting the hell out of the store as fast as possible. So, when I found a wonderful pair of simple black espadrilles last summer I was in heaven. They went with everything, were comfortable and actually looked very chic on my ugly feet. I could wear them without stockings or socks and my feet could stay relatively cool. They were the next best thing to going barefoot (my real preference in the summer).

Enter Isla, the demon dog. As the human she has bonded to most closely, my essence is her perfume. My shoes become an absolute intoxicant to her canine nose, sending her into a frenzy of delight in my absence. (You know where this is going...) About a month ago I emerged from the shower to discover my wonderful black espadrilles lovingly but thoroughly chewed, rendering them completely unwearable. I realized to my horror that my summer shoe wardrobe had now been reduced to two pairs of sneakers and a single pair of uncomfortable slides. Damn!

I set out to replace the beloved black espadrilles. First stop: the local shoe stores. Here's where things get ugly.

Flip-flops are EVERYWHERE. I haven't felt comfortable in flip-flops since the days of the $3 rubber jobs that came from Woolworths. I am not the most graceful of people and flip-flops are simply an invitation to a face plant. The slapping sound they make drives me crazy and I truly have a couple of the world's ugliest feet so showcasing them is not a pleasant prospect.

The next most frequent style I see is Slides, aptly named because that is exactly what I do when I wear them: slide right out of them, usually in an extremely high-visibility location, such as crossing a busy street in front of high volumes of traffic. Some of them have heel heights that would put me so high I'd risk a nosebleed!

Wandering the aisles of the stores proves an exercise in complete frustration so I beat a hasty retreat home to check out on-line possibilities. A google search using the word "espadrilles" yields a bizarre array of choices, none of which bear ANY resemblance to my beloved simple black fabric zapatos. I see shoes with monster heels, ridiculous frou-frou embroidery and other crap. And everywhere there loom those infernal flip-flops, now re-named thongs. (Aside: I always thought of thongs as underwear with a built-in wedgie. How did they ever become shoes?) And the prices -- Holy Crap! What kind of idiot would pay $356 for a pair of f***ing flip-flops. The world has truly gone mad!

Who decides on these shoe styles anyway? I envision a group of sadistic old men sitting around fashion designer's offices plotting ways for women to throw obscene amounts of money at them for the privilege of looking ridiculous and destroying their feet. Foot doctors around the world are salivating at the prospect of years of surgery for hammer toes and bunions caused by feet jammed into pointy toe shoes. Orthopedic surgeons and chiropractors are planning house expansions and in-ground pools from the revenue supplied by the endless supply of women needing spine and hip re-alignments caused by three inch (and higher) heels.

And then there is the Fugly Factor. Some of these shoes are so ugly I wouldn't even use them to take out a yowling cat in an alley.

Like this one:

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($328, by the way.)

or these:

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Who decided that we choose between wearing skimpy little nothing shoes covered in ridiculous doodads or concrete blocks sure to send us flat on our asses? I want to meet these Shoe Police and bludgeon them to death with a sassy little t-strap equipped with a killer spike heel!

All I need is a simple pair of classic but sturdy espadrilles that I won't need a bank loan to purchase. I promise to lock them away from the canine chewing factory.

Maybe the barefoot option isn't such a bad idea after all.