Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Stomach virus

My blood pressure was fine. The doctor thinks it's a virus, but she drew some blood just to check.

If I catch something from the sick people in the waiting room, I will not be happy!

Contest alert

Off-site.

Go here to Georgi's blog to enter.

Feeling definitely odd

So what's wrong with me? For three days I've felt like I'm just getting over a really bad case of the flu. You know how it is, when you've had a few days of ***TMI alert*** diarrhea and vomiting, and you're over the sick feeling but still all washed out? Yeah, that's how I feel.

I also felt similar to this a couple of years ago when I had that stomach bleed and needed 4 pints of blood and spent 4 days in the hospital, but there's no anemia or other evidence of internal bleeding (and believe me, I've kept an eye on things). If I bend over or stoop down and stand up too quickly, I start to black out. I feel like I can't get a breath deep enough, but I don't have any trouble breathing. Nothing hurts. I don't feel sick.

I just know that Something. Isn't. Right.

I've made a doctor's appointment for this afternoon (luckily she had a cancellation; I hate having a doctor who is so overbooked that you can't get an appointment for days even when you have a urinary tract infection) (I also hate having to wait a couple of hours because she's running behind, and she's ALWAYS running behind) and I hope to find out just what's going on.

Schoolwise

Tom has been subbing here almost every day. Yesterday morning he was in a class of junior English; they're studying The Jungle. He said that they were very well-behaved, which surprised their actual teacher.

Then she told me that she'd told the kids that "Mr. Tom" would be subbing, and one said, "I like him!"

He's off to a good start. He'll take over the copy room this afternoon while I'm at a meeting for some online testing that I have to attend even though I haven't been told just what this testing is and why I have to go.

I just do what I'm told.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Two words

Tom was wondering last night why he was so exhausted.

I said, "Ninth graders." Need I say more?

The sport-weight sock is coming along nicely. I love the way it feels. I just hope I have enough yarn to make a pair; these were leftover hanks when the yarn was wound into "selling" hanks.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Black and Red

So. Yeah. I finished my Twilight-cover-art-inspired socks last evening. What do I do now? It's kind of like after I finished reading the Twilight Saga, nothing else appealed. Others I've talked to in rl are the same way (not all of them, but enough women I consider to be sane are saying the same thing). What knitting project is next?

I really want it to be Shipwreck, but that's a pattern that's not suitable for knitting during odd down moments. It's going to be a committment. Tom suggested that I save that for condo knitting this summer. I'll probably work on it in the car on the way down and back. I went ahead and rolled one hank into a ball. I've got a couple thousand (I hope) 6/0 glass beads in red, black, and silver-lined clear. I really have no idea how to determine what color I want where on the shawl; I'll have to figure it out as I go, I guess, since I'm not going to use the 5000 beads that the pattern calls for. I don't want a stripe of all red, or all white, or all black, or red and white, or red and black, or whatever when I get done with it. I'm really going to have to think when I knit this one. No mindless tv knitting.

I went to Ravelry and printed off page after page of discussion of this shawl and its challenges. Fortunately, the designer has been an active participant and clears up a lot of the issues.

I can't get the entire chart to print, but she has each section written out, so with luck I won't need a chart. I really mess up when I used even a simple chart, so I'm glad that she spelled them out.

So, I've got three hanks of Bloodlust All That Glitters yarn dyed by yarnlust, dozens of vials of beads in three colors, the two needles necessary to start the project, and alllllll of those pages packed away in a plastic shoe box to take to Florida in June. I may have to start the center long before then; it depends on how stupid I'm feeling. If a simple chart kicks my ass, I cannot imagine what this heirloom-quality lace will do to me.

I've never before felt like I just have to knit something. There are lots of patterns that appeal to me, but never has one jumped into my brain and taken up residence there. The very first time I saw Shipwreck, I knew that I had to knit it. I also know that it will probably take years to finish (hello? 5000 beads), and that's okay. I'll probably end up using it as a decorative table cloth most of the time. By the time it's done, we should be living in South Florida permanently, so I might be able to wear it during a cold snap.

But that leaves me without a current project. I cannot rest until I find something that I want to do and get it organized. I have two hanks of Twilight-cover-art-inspired worsted that I want to use to make a neck warmer and a hat, but I just can't get too enthusiastic about that now. I haven't seen a hat pattern that I really, really want to do with it, so I'll wait.

I dug through my stash of Claudia fingering and came up with some gorgeous red and gray sportweight. There are four separate hanks of it; I'm just hoping that I have enough to finish a pair of socks. I started knitting last night using a pair of size 1 dpns; it's heavier yarn, but I didn't want to go any higher in size because they look like they'll be nice and squooshy on the feet. I think it's Claudia's Buckeyes colorway, which, oddly, is very similar to christinamariepotter's colorway for the cover of Eclipse. This got my mojo rising and I cast on. This isn't to say that I won't be ordering more yarn from christinamariepotter (on Ravelry and etsy) for each of her colorways from books 2-4. Must. Have. Them.

I finished books 2 and 3 of P. C. Cast and Kristen Cast's House of Night series. I'm now reading the fourth book. They're light and cute and a quick read. But they are not Twilight.

I am so doomed.

I'll try to add photos to this post after lunch. Tom is substituting in and English class today and he's going to bring me a big Pepsi. I might want to check my weight tomorrow morning; I've been drinking more Pepsi than sugarless tea lately.

Two of my sisters, Betty and Joan, are planning to fly to Ft. Lauderdale at the end of June and we'll have a Sisters' Week in the Keys. We've long dreamed of doing this, but scraping together the money for the four (or three, as Nancy will be with friends that week) of us to fly, get a motel on the beach, and eat for a week has eluded us. With a free place to stay and our own gourmet chef (Tom), we're going to make out like bandits. (No, Google search, we sisters will not make out.)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

We've got the condo in the Keys for the summer!

I may not make it through the next two months.

Or maybe it'll make it easier, living up here in the cold, cruel north.

We can have the condo for 6 weeks or so this summer. Woohoo; Sisters' Week in the Keys!!!

In other news, Tom will be teaching Anatomy tomorrow.

*waits for comments*

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Welcome to the jungle

Tom is substituting here for the first time. He was told that his last class would be a humdinger.

My advice? Don't fart. The kids will eat you alive.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Linky for Georgi

This is the pattern for the socks. I absolutely love it.

Can someone explain to me why charts for knitting are always upside down? Why do we have to start at the bottom and go up? Seems to me that it would be a lot simpler (for me, at least, unless someone can tell me why they're that way) to have it right-side up.

My special order yarn, "Bloodlust", should arrive today. I've been tracking it all week. This is the etsy shop of the talented lady who dyed it for me. I plan to knit Shipwreck with it.

Yes. I am insane.

I finished the first book of the House of Night series, Marked. It's a cute, quick read; there are 3 more in the series. It's written by a mother/daughter combination, P.C. and Kristen Cast. I'm enjoying reading something that's not Twilight.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Key deer

I forgot to mention one of the highlights of the Keys trip. We finally saw some Key deer. I think that they live mostly on Big Pine Key; they're federally protected as an endangered species and there's a huge fine for killing one. Many are hit by cars. They appear to be tamer than our bunch of deer.

We went to No Name Key looking for No Name Pub, an establishment that figures in a lot of Florida noir novels, especially Tim Dorsey's. It was a seedy place, not quite safe for non-serial killers to visit. I've wanted to see it since I first read about it in James W. Hall, Tim Corcoran, and Tim Dorsey's books.

Evidentally MANY people have discovered the place. I was so disappointed. Families were milling around outside while the place was full of families eating pizza and other non-pub fare. It's gone respectable. I'm sure that the owners are happy, but I was terribly let down.

On the way back to the main road, we saw a Key deer trotting down a side street. We circled around and stopped to take photos. It was about the size of our baby deer (yearlings); it was starting to grow little antlers. It meandered through a yard nibbling on the trees and grass. Just across the street was a little female. She was browsing the neighbor's yard. James walked up to within 6 feet of her to take photos and she didn't even blink. It's illegal to feed them, but I bet that one could casually toss some corn to the birds and they'd find it.

Seeing the two deer was more than enough for us to decide that we want to live on Big Pine Key. We hate leaving our little herd behind, but maybe there's another awaiting us. We can't afford one of the nice big houses there, but there are some smaller, less expensive homes in the area.

Little Marie, the kitten, has taken over the house. She's convinced that she owns it. The other cats hiss and stay away, although she and Chester and she and Lily have bumped noses without one taking the other out. Beghera is very disturbed that she's in HIS house. I brought Zippy home last night (he spent his vacation at my sister's house where he got lots of treats and was walked every day) and he hasn't even noticed (or reacted) that there's an addition. Marie is still shy, but she follows me around and talks to me. She's so very soft that I want to hold her all the time.

Photos will come after I get them transferred to dvds. It may take a while.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Is it Prozac or Florida? OR Why am I feeling so great on a Monday?

I wish I could bottle this feeling.

I feel completely at ease (notice how well I'm ignoring stabs of anxiety), like I've finally been able to exhale. Remember that book, Waiting to Exhale? I knew exactly what she meant by that. I've spent most of my life waiting to exhale. Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Chronic Depression will do that to you.

After spending 8 glorious days in Florida, I am relaxed. I even feel rested. I have a touch of color (I know that sun is bad for the body, but it's so good for my soul.). (Even though an ignorant male teacher told me that it didn't look like I've been in Florida. The soul doesn't show.) If my soul has a color, today it is the serene turquoise of the waters off the Florida Keys.

We got home yesterday morning around 5:30 and went straight to bed. I slept until 7:30 p.m., got up for a couple of hours then went back to bed. I slept wonderfully. Tom is still on "driving straight through the night" time and didn't sleep as well.

I last reported in on Wednesday while we were in Ft. Lauderdale on a little hotel on the beach, with its picture window overlooking the ocean. We thoroughly enjoyed our time there; less than 24 hours, but it's a place we'll stay again. It was clean, comfortable, and had a wonderful pool area. We ate at the Yacht Club that night; Tom's daughter's boyfriend's father is the Commodore there. Good company, good food. Beautiful boats.

Donna and James took us to Marathon in the Florida Keys on Thursday morning. James' family owns a couple of condos there that overlook the Florida Bay. It's incredible; it has a wraparound screened lanai that faces the water (and palm trees and light house); I'd live on that porch if I could. We spent most of the afternoon there, reading and looking out at the view.

Donna helped Tom cook dinner while I took a nap. That's such a luxury for me now; I used to nap after work, but now that I have to get up so early, I can't afford it. But it was so peaceful at the condo that it lulled me to sleep.

We ate dinner on the lanai, watching the sunset. Tom and Donna cooked shrimp, basmati rice, and snow peas. It's a wonderful meal any time, but it was especially good eaten while surrounded by the Florida Keys.

Friday morning I slept late (as usual). (Donna sleeps later than I do, but it has to be noted that she doesn't get off work until 2 a.m. and has a reason to sleep later. I just need sleep.) We left for Key West around 10 or 11; it's just an hours' drive southwest. We ate lunch at Pepe's. We've eaten there before and like it. I had a BLT which for some reason I was craving; even that seemed exotic in Key West.

We split up and spent the afternoon wandering around Key West. I l0ve Old Town. Of course I asked for directions to the knitting shop (they finally have one! Used to only have a needlepoint shop with incredible handpainted canvases; it's still there, too.) I know my way around Old Town that I was able to find the shop without any trouble at all. That, in itself, is a miracle. The shop, Knit Wits (I think) has a wonderful selection of yarns, all organized by color, and even had that yarn crack (or so I hear, since I've never touched it before) Malabrigo in such an array of colors. It wasn't as expensive as I'd expected, but wool, for some reason, wasn't calling to me that day after walking in the hot sun. I chose some coral silk (my vacation yarn) to make a little scarflet. There's a bead store next door, conveniently joined by a walk-through, so I chose some beads to add to the silk when I knit it. Yes, I know that silk that is already beaded is available; I bought a hank in Sonora, CA last summer, gorgeous stuff, but $39 as opposed to $14 plus beads didn't speak to me right then.

I also bought some red, black, and clear beads to use with the "Bloodlust" All That Glitters that yarnlust (etsy) has specially dyed for me. I've decided to make Shipwreck with it. I know that I'm totally crazy to even consider it; I remember how much I moaned and bitched about The Never Ending Test Knit. I won't put any 5000 beads on it, either; I'll probably use only 1000 or so, spreading them a little thinner than the pattern calls for. The clear beads have sterling silver inserts in the holes; I bought slightly bigger ones to use on the silk I bought there. I'd thought of using only sterling silver beads on it, but they're just ridiculously priced, although I think they'd look spectacular. They'd have to have a clear coat on them; I can just see me polishing thousands of tiny beads. (Not.)

We stopped for drinks at Louie's Backyard, a place I've read about in many Florida noir novels. It's right on the beach, with Dog Beach next to it. Key West is very dog-friendly. We enjoyed looking over the ocean as we refreshed ourselves before heading back to the condo.

That night we ate at a nice little restaurant, then packed our stuff in preparation for leaving at 8 the next morning. ( I personally think that anything before noon should be banned.) We picked up our car in Ft. Lauderdale then drove to J.'s house to pick up little Marie, A.'s kitten. We brought her back to have her spayed before taking her back to A. in the summer. She was a wonderful little traveler.

Tom wanted to drive through again, so we got home at 5:45 Sunday morning. We didn't unpack the car, just went straight to bed.

All of my photos are on my laptop, but you can be sure that I'll upload some when I can. I know you can't wait.

I finished sock 1 from the Twilight sock yarn. I forgot to put the hearts on the top of it, so I put one on the top of the foot. I got the second sock right and knit 3-4" before it got too dark and I could turn on Twilight. The laptop won't turn up loud enough for me to hear it, but I could see it juuuuuuust fine. It's still not a well-made movie, but I like it just fine. Still reading New Moon too, even though I took several other books with me. I am doomed, I tell you.

But I'm happy. That counts for a lot.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Spring Break!

Thank God for the institution known to educators and students as "spring break". This year it's particularly late for my system; it's been a long time since Christmas Winter break.

Kids were really squirrelly at school last week. A fire alarm was pulled as a prank and we all spent about 15 minutes outside in the cold rain waiting for the fire department to arrive and give us the "all clear" before we could go inside, rumor spread through the school that a gunman in camo was running wild through the school, and ambulances took a couple of people to the hospital after they suffered stress-related symptoms.

It was with infinite relief that Tom and I left Friday at 2 p.m., heading to Florida to visit our daughters and grandkids.

Tom likes to drive straight through; it's a 14-15 hour drive, and for some reason I can no longer sleep in the car, even when it's been 22 hours since I slept last. Fortunately he's able to stay awake and alert better than I am ("alert" being the big difference between the two of us), and we practically flew down the interstates through Virginia, NC, SC, Georgia, and Florida. In spite of many piss pit stops, one stop for gasoline (we got 519 miles to the tank, which is pretty good for a 10-year-old Camry), half-hour break for supper at a local barbecue place (good food at good prices), and 1-1.5 hours in stop and go traffic in a road repair area, we got to Davenport (just SW of Orlando) at 5 a.m. Saturday.

We were both dead by that time; I was practically swooning from lack of sleep. We checked into our Super 8 $45-a-night room and slept for 6 lovely hours. (Note: I've had some good luck using Hotels.com, but in this case, it was cheaper to go through the Super 8 website.) It's not the Ritz Carlton by any means, but it was clean and the a/c worked. Kinda noisy, but my white noise machine took care of that.

A. and her best friend were in a small pageant in Deltona that afternoon, so we drove back to see them compete. My daughter, J., made the dresses for both girls and "did" their hair and makeup (minimal makeup). They look enough alike to be sisters, even fraternal twins. Some people asked J. if she's sure they aren't identical twins. Honest.

This was a tiny pageant, typical of the South, held in a fraternal organization's building, maybe 15 girls total. All were cute as buttons; some were perfectly comfortable on the stage, but some others weren't as fortunate. Me, I'd have been a basket case if I'd tried that at any age, much less 9.

This was K.'s first pageant. She's heard A.'s accounts and really wanted to try one herself. She did beautifully. She walked out as if she owned the place, full of poise and confidence. Fortunately she's a year older than A. and was in another age division, so they weren't competing against each other.

What none of us had expected was that two mother/daughter teams who appeared on the series "Little Miss Perfect" would be competing (and frequently it is the mothers who are competing, as well as the girls). One set I've known for a few years, but the other was unknown to me before the show.

This one told me horror stories about the shooting of LMP. The tv team spent the entire 48 hours before the pageants with the families; after a while, you kind of forget that there are cameras and mics in your face. They also twisted things to make it look like rich girl/poor girl and even suggested that the "poor" girl wear a boa constrictor as part of her "wow wear". Her mom emphasized that it was the producer's idea, not hers, and when she was talking on the phone to her husband, actually no one was on the line; it was all fake. They showed the "rich" girl's mom spending thousands on this pageant alone and the "poor" mom buying her daughter's clothes at Good Will, not telling that the mom wanted the girl to dress up like Miley Cyrus and was actually going for the Salvation Army-clothes look.

Anyway, that aside, it was a fun afternoon. The girls really didn't care who won; at least, A. and K. didn't. They both were first runners up in their age divisions, which they thought was pretty cool. The little girl who won A.'s division was a LMP winner; strangely, one of the judges for this pageant had "done" hair and makeup for the girls at LMP.

But sweet little A. R., the LMP winner, tried her best to give A. her crown after the pageant was over. She really meant it, too. When A. wouldn't take it, she tried to give A. her sash. That type of thing isn't all that typical of pageant winners.

I have a cute video of the three girls talking and cutting up while waiting for the judging to be finished, but I won't post it. I don't want to put their faces and names all over the internets. Suffice to say that they had a good time goofing off, dressed in their finery, and entertained others who were waiting.

I've attempted to upload photos from the pageant, but my internet connection is too poor to allow them to show up.

So, onward and upward.

On Sunday, Tom and I took A. and B2 to Homassassa Springs Wildlife Refuge. I have always been fascinated with manatees, and this is the place to go to see them. There are 6 or 7 manatees who live there year 'round, and there's also a small zoo. We enjoyed the manatee feeding show.

We didn't do much on Monday. That afternoon we took A. to Costco to buy her first pair of glasses. The poor child is near-sighted, as I am. She chose a cute pair. I don't remember having much input when I got new glasses as a child, until I was in the 10th grade or so. I thought it was important for A. to choose glasses that she likes; she's more likely to wear them and have confidence wearing them if she has some say in the matter.

Tom, A., and B2 prepared dinner (vegetarian spaghetti) that night. B2 had never handled a knife (except the time he took one out of the kitchen drawer a couple months ago and cut his leg) and was kind of tentative using it, but he managed. A. had helped Tom cook dinner three years ago and is an old hand at it. B2 didn't eat much, but A. made up for it.

Yesterday, the first chilly day (high winds, cool temps) Tom and I took B2 to the Reptile Farm (I think that's what it was called) at St. Cloud. We love old Florida-type places like that. Later I'll put up photos of all these things, but not with this internet connection. B2 had a good time feeding the turtles. The man who ran the place told me that B2 is a true gentleman. He shared his turtle food with a little girl.

This morning we got up and left for Ft. Lauderdale at the ungodly hour of 7 a.m. I wasn't aware that there is a 7 a.m. in Florida. It was around 40 degrees when we left, but Ft. Lauderdale is warm with a nice breeze. We're staying in a hotel (it calls itself) across A1A from the beach. You should see the view from our picture window. (You would have if the internet connection wasn't so crappy here, or if Ntelos had allowed my crapcam photo to be posted.) Tom, his daughter, and I spent an hour by the pool, soaking up the rays and enjoying the peace and quiet of the nice little courtyard. You'd never know that we were on a main thoroughfare.

Tonight we're going to the yacht club for dinner with Donna's boyfriend's parents. Tough life, huh? Good thing I packed some Chico's Travelers Collection clothes. Tomorrow we're heading for Marathon for a couple of days in the Keys.

(Clothing note: I packed my Chico's denim capris that I haven't worn since September, and they're all too big for me. I really have lost weight!)

I'm off to take a shower and get gussied up for the yacht club. Ta-ta!

(I won't rub in how beautiful the beach looks from our room, and how warm it is here today, and how the breeze is just enough to keep one from baking while lying in the sun. I wouldn't do something like that, now, would I?)

(I would.)

Fock Ntelos


Ntelos has a distinct lack of customer service and I will be going with AT&T once I get back home. I've had it with Ntelos.

I took a crapcam photo of the beach here at Ft. Lauderdale and sent it to this blog. Once again, it didn't show up.

So fock Ntelos. They're dead to me. Eight freaking years with them, eight years of fighting with customer "service" to get my address, then my name, changed, and a year of fighting with them to take my niece off my plan once she graduated from college. Eight years of walking into their store and waiting for 30 minutes to an hour each freaking time I needed something.

AT&T's rates aren't as good, but their service HAS to be better.

Anyway, the beach is sunny and lovely, nice breeze, it feels great here. I wish I could show you the view from our room, but Ntelos isn't cooperating. Later I'll post some REAL photos from my wonderful Canon IS something or other camera.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Okay, who forgot to pay the heating bill???

Three beautiful sunny, warm days here in Orlando. Then today, this cold front is coming through and it's cold and windy.

Still having fun, though.