They moved Halloween!

Last night was our little town’s official Trick or Treat night.  I set out to investigate why we couldn’t have Trick or Treat on Halloween (what a concept!).  Well, we couldn’t have Trick or Treat tonight because it’s Homecoming at the high school.

Alright folks, what bureaucrat decided that the perfect night for Homecoming would be Halloween?  Answer:  Gustav.  The hurricane, that is.  It turns out the Homecoming refers, technically, to the football game, not the dance.  The football schedule got all pushed back in the beginning of the fall by the hurricane, and they had already set the team that would be the homecoming opponent.  Therefore, when we play them tonight, on Halloween, it’s Homecoming.

No pictures were taken of little people last night, but they were as cute/scary/delightful as one could wish.  I saw a distinct trend that made me proud of parents in these trying times:  facial makeup as costume.  I suspect about a dozen kids, over the course of the evening, arrived at the door with imaginative facial makeup and black shirt and pants.  The kids had fun, they got a great haul of candy, and I praised each one as great makeup.  Minimal financial output here, folks.  I consider it a significant sign that this generation of parents is finally “reinventing” making do.

One fun footnote:  my primary MD made a house call last night.  That is, she showed up with her trick-or-treater!  Dr. C didn’t know it was my house when her son rang the bell, but we had a nice chat before they went on to plunder for more candy.

I’m trying here, folks!

My faithful readers know I try to be upbeat about life.  This week, life is making it difficult!   Having said that, I must admit right away that there is no crisis in my life.  No, its the accumulation of little things that is doing me in.

My surgeon insisted that I stop taking hormone replacement (estrogen) 14 days before surgery.  Now that’s a scary thought for someone who has never been off estrogen in 20 years!  There haven’t been the hot flashes I feared, but my mood rivals the ups and downs at Six Flags Uber Suberbia.

Said cautious surgeon also made me stop taking my arthritus medicine 10 days before surgery.  Alrighty, now I’m cranky and achy.

Yesterday I had my pre-op clearance appointment with my primary MD, she who saw me through the weight loss.  She thought it would be a wonderful idea to have a flu shot right then, and have some coverage before I go into the hospital next week.  I thought about that while the nurse drew up the vaccine…I’m ambidextrous, but use my right hand a lot, as that was what the school system would tolerate when I was a child.  Therefore, I offered my left arm for the injection.  Please, someone remind me next fall to get the flu shot in my right arm!  I mouse left-handed.  I sleep on my left side.  My arm really aches!

In summary, I’m cranky, creeking, and uncomfortable awake or asleep.

Voter turnout

Monday I went to our local branch of the registrar of voters to vote early, since I will be having my surgery on November 3.  I arrived at opening time, only to find about 70 people in line ahead of me.  In fact, I had to park behind an abandoned shopping center adjacent to the designated parking lot, which was chock-a-block full.

I should point out that it was my own lazy self’s fault that I faced this kind of line.  Logic had told me to go Saturday during the LSU game, and there would be no line.  But no-o-o,  a Saturday afternoon nap had so much more appeal that I didn’t go.   The Saturday evening news reported that voting was very light during the game.  The rest of the story is that Saturday afternoon was sunny and in the mid-70′s; Monday was blustery winds and 46!

This little branch of the registrar of voters shares its office building with the driver’s license bureau.  Most days of the year, the license folks have complete  control of the waiting room and they like it that way.  You can imagine their dismay at all these citizens sitting in their chairs.  Compromise was arranged by the local policewoman assigned to the event, and 60 voters were allowed inside at once.  The rest of us stood out in the wind.  And stood.  And stood!  It took about an hour to get inside, and then another half hour of waiting before our numbers were called to vote.

There were positive results to report:

  1. Wool socks are worth every bit of effort to knit and to maintain.  At least my feet were warm.
  2. Wool cardigans help, but need a windbreaker over them for full effect.  I don’t have a windbreaker or a winter coat in my size yet.
  3. People in line were very kind to each other.  No one objected to some impromptu rearranging of line so we could turn our backs to the wind.  It didn’t matter, no “you’re out of line.”
  4. Not a soul objected when the policewoman sought out voters with any handicap to pull to the front of the line.  In fact, people started hunting for deserving voters to bring to her attention.  “There’s an old woman way back in the line who was having trouble walking with a cane.”

No matter what the outcome of the local and national races, it’s been a good election here!

Satisfied with “the Kiss”

It’s time to report on another trip highlight.  I’ve shopped online at SWAK Knitting for about a year.  They have been most helpful online, and I’ve enjoyed “chatting” with them on Ravelry.  Now I’ve shopped their bricks, and it did not disappoint!

Like finishing a knitting project before answering the siren call of a new one, there was some self-control involved.  When we arrived in Guthrie for Oklahoma Grand Chapter, Order of the Eastern Star, we had to drive past SWAK to get to our meetings.  There it was, on our right!  DH spotted it right away.  That was a Sunday, and they were closed, so not too much willpower was involved — on to our meeting.  Monday the pull was even greater.  They were going to be open to sell yarn.  Just down the street is a shop that speaks knitting! Courage, they  won’t run out while we fulfill our obligations.  (I must take a moment and note that Oklahoma Grand Chapter was a lovely meeting, and they showed us the warmest possible hospitality.  My counterpart from Oklahoma received me with hugs and joy that I had come.)

Tuesday morning dawned with Christmas-like anticipation.  DH had us packed and checked out of the hotel on a schedule that put me at SWAK’s door a few minutes after opening.  He rates SWAK as “husband friendly” for their comfy couch.  See the red lips pillow on the couch beside him?  It’s knit, of course.

I met Kary, knitwitchick on Ravelry.  She and I had fun looking for a good DK wool to use for the Pearl Buck Swing Jacket.  After much holding up of yarn to my complexion, DH and I agreed on some Jo Sharp Classic DK wool in Fleur. It is not silver, not pink, barely lavender, and very flattering.  I’ve given you a link to the yarn because I doubt I can capture its elusive color any better myself.

Kary was so accommodating, she even let me dig through her purse.  Wait, let me explain:  I wanted to see the new bag by Namaste, the Newport.  They didn’t have another one in the shop, but Kary was carrying her own as a purse, and invited me to investigate its pockets.  I loved it, and I was pleased that it was scaled down a bit from the Laguna I own, aka the bowling bag.  DH’s verdict on the Newport:  still too big.

DH was such a good companion that I bought him something.  This Knit Light is the perfect multi-tasking tool, per Alton Brown’s criteria (Good Eats, Food Network).  DH is an early bird, and when he wakes up early in a hotel, he’d like to read.  I, on the other hand, think the wee hours are for sleeping, and am not amused by lights being turned on.  This light is perfect:  he can read with it, I can knit with it.  It came in its own DP tube, which protects it nicely in my knitting bag.

The happy knitter returned home, laden with the fruits of her toil, to knit again another day.

Ruby Flash

From my early childhood, my grandmother, Arva, always had a small ruby glass on her table. She used it to hold toothpicks.  Grandmother told me her parents (Delilah and John, she who taught me to knit) went to the World’s Fair.  Grandmother was considered too young to go, but they brought her back the glass with her name scratched on it.

You can imagine my intense interest then, when I saw this display at the St. Louis History Museum’s 1904 World’s Fair exhibit.  The sign on the case said “Ruby flash items are one of the most popular souvenirs remaining from the World’s fair.  The distinctive, decorative glass first appeared in abundance in 1893 at Chicago’s Columbian Exposition.  The technique for making this type of glass begins with the dipping of hand-blown clear glass into red glass.  The thin red layer could then be scraped away to personalize with names or memorable dates.”

I walked through the exhibit, imagining Delilah and John walking around this vast park.  Which of these sites did they take in?  How long could they afford to stay?  Did they wear clothes like the exhibit?

When I got home, several rainy days passed before I went to my china cabinet to get Arva’s glass.  When I set it down in the sun for a picture, I was amazed to read the second side: it was from the Chicago Exposition in 1893, not the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis.  Oh well, at least I learned about Ruby Flash.

A fiber adventure “on the hoof”

One of the best adventures we had last week was a visit to Whirlwind Ranch Alpacas in Lebanon, MO. It is nestled in the beautiful rolling hills of the Ozarks, which right away makes my heart sing.  (I grew up in hill country, and now live in delta.  I have to have my “hill fix” on a regular basis.)

As we drove into the ranch, we were met by a large white dog, which proceeded to keep pace with the driver’s door.  It was joined in a few yards by a second, and as we drove further into the ranch, the third large white dog.  We all arrived at the parking area together, and as their owner,  Linda, spoke to them a word of introduction, we were all friends.  She explained that they are Great Pyrenees, and are the guardians of the flock.  These gentle giants wanted nothing more than to lean against my legs and have their ears scritched in appreciation.  The trouble was that they weighed about 100 pounds, and that’s a lot of leaning!

Mid-afternoon, fondly known in our household as “universal kitty nap time”, turns out to be a drowsy time for Alpaca, also.  A handful of carrot slices proved to be an effective bribe for this shy one.  The Alpacas fiber feels as marvelous being worn by the animal as it does in the skein.  As these delightful animals wuffled my hand and hummed to me their pleasure, I was able to sink my hand into their wool up to my wrist.

A portion of the herd had decided it was time for a snack, and gathered at the hay trough. I wanted you to see the incredible range of color represented in the herd.  (I do apologize to these animals for featuring a shot of their posteriors, but I couldn’t persuade them to look up.) The gray Alpaca in the foreground has a white face with a large gray mark above the eye.  It looks like the exaggerated eyebrow a clown might color on to his face.

Speaking of faces, this one wasn’t shy at all.  Alpacas have an over-bite that is well suited to grazing, but is less efficient in gathering carrots from a hand.  Look at those eyelashes!  You can also see the tiny feet of the red Alpaca standing beside the white one.  They only weigh about 100 – 150 pounds, so much of their size is that wonderful, light wool.

The afternoon was topped off with a tour of the fiber shop.  Linda demonstrated the steps of preparing the fiber for spinning.  It is incredibly clean, and only needs the bits of hay picked out to be ready to card.  She showed us a chart of different areas of the Alpaca, and let us feel the different grades of fiber that come from those areas.  Linda picked up a white yarn for us to pet, then fessed up that it was Great Pyrenees, combed from their undercoat in the Spring.  I came home with some white yarn, but from the Alpaca you met.  I plan to knit the Panopticon’s Swallotail Shawl variation with it.

There’s no place like home

Hello again, my friends!   The traveler returns, bearing many happy memories, and almost as many photos. The fall colors were just starting to display in St. Louis, where we saw just a portion of Forrest Park.  The park was built as part of the 1904 World’s Fair, and is bigger than New York City’s Central Park. (All together now, hum “Meet Me in St. Louis”.)    The day we spent there was DH’s birthday. As he loves October and all things autumnal, it is appropriate to feature his day in fall color.

The St. Louis Museum of History is housed in a building that was erected for the fair.  It  features exhibits on Lindbergh’s flight and on the 1904 World’s Fair.  I’ll share some of those pictures on another day.

In an exhibit on St. Louis outdoor recreation we found winter knitwear. (And you thought this post would be void of knitted content!  Never underestimate the power of a knitter to sniff out fiber.)

The birthday boy had to have a celebration of his own.  The day had turned off rainy, as a cold front came through. How better to finish off the day than with a supper in an Irish pub. We got the table by the fireplace, and the fire was much appreciated.  Happy birthday, dear!

Travel time

Time does not equal knitting rows.  Well, of course not, you say.  Yet for sock knitting there is a sense, by now, of how much time it takes to go from the completed gusset decreases to the beginning of the toe shaping.  Wednesday night I had just completed the gusset, and decided to continue knitting on the sock through Bible study.  This sock has a plain instep, so it doesn’t require a lot of attention.  I knit on, and time passed quickly, with a lively group discussion.  Thursday morning, on a whim, I measured the sock.  Much to my surprise, I was 1/4″ past the point where I usually begin the toe shaping!  When did that happen?  Really, that’s not a bad thing.  They should be comfortable with a smidge more length.  My internal timer has been recalibrated by knitting socks with fancy insteps, I think.

Professor Henry Higgins in My Fair Lady sings “I’ve Grown Accustomed to her Face”.  Writing this blog has become part of my routine, too.  As much as I am looking forward to the travel adventures of the next week and a half,  I also know I will miss the blog.

I will be taking pictures of those lovely hills in fall color, and all my knitting adventures.  Please come back to see me …around the 23rd.  We’ll pass a good time, chere!

Anticipation

It’s time to fill in those vague blanks in our travel plans, the bits in-between the things we must do.  I’ve already written about looking forward to the Loopy Ewe in St. Louis, MO  and SWAK Knitting in Guthrie, OK.  The Springfield, MO website pointed me to Whirlwind Ranch Alpacas in Lebanon, MO.  They have a lovely collection of alpacas, and a fiber shop featuring both finished yarn and unspun fiber.  What’s not to like?!

Springfield is in that area of the Midwest that tends to have caves.  DH and I have enjoyed taking cave tours in the past, so we look forward to seeing Crystal Cave.  (When your fellow is a real sweetie about yarn stores, you really should plan for something he will enjoy, too.)

There is time for more adventures. Tulsa, OK has an Air and Space Museum that might fit the bill.   Perhaps we will be inspired as we travel.  Don’t you love it when you have that kind of freedom?

Knitting opportunities, aka waiting

Today will have lots of knitting opportunities, aka waiting.  I need to go see one of my surgeons for my pre-op visit.  Mostly, she wants money up front.  Waiting room knitting has been arranged – I’m working on my brown sock for the October brown sock KAL of the Solid Sock Ravelry group. The pattern is Fern Clog Socks.  Since I live in Birkenstocks, a clog sock pattern should be lots of fun to wear.   I’m anticipating enough opportunities today that a picture should be ready soon.

Then I really must go to the Toyota dealer’s service area and have them change the oil and whatever else they say must be done at this mileage.  That certainly will be a knitting opportunity.  Le sigh.  Oh well,  I’m not about to head out for Missouri and Oklahoma with the service automobile light on.

While I’m in Baton Rouge, I should run several other errands.  I no longer run into town when something is needed, but try to make the “great circle route” of errands when I do go.  Are we having fun yet?

Week’s weight loss:  4 pounds.  Thanks for holding me accountable.

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