You are currently browsing the monthly archive for January 2011.

migrain city

If you had to choose a city to have a migraine in (not that anyone in their right mind would CHOOSE to have a migraine), I bet NYC would be rock bottom on the list. The many things that make NYC such a fabulous place (the sights, the lights, the sounds, the smells!) are also what makes it migraine hell (the sights, the lights, the sounds, the smells!)

Packed in a small hotel room with 16 women competing for the most powerful perfume award is guaranteed to incubate a migraine of mammoth proportions in those susceptible. Like me.

Struggling to make sense of the new knitting technique with clumsy fingers clutching two strands of sock yarn (she did tell us to bring worsted weight but I forgot that detail) while battling a migraine is not recommended, but I managed to hang in for the whole class, absorbing enough to duplicate the efforts later. The three hour class felt like it would never end.

I packed the meds. I always pack the meds. But I do not always carry them with me. They were across town, an uptown subway in brutally cold and windy NYC away. And brilliantly sunny. Don’t forget the sunny.

I made it back to the West Side apartment I was staying at (thanks, Pat!). I don’t remember locking the door behind me (thank God for doorman in the lobby, secure buildings!). I do remember fighting to open the blister pack the pill comes in and swallowing almost a half liter of water to make sure it went down.

Then I laid down carefully and waited fitfully for the pain to subside. Only two hours later I felt human again. For a migraine episode, that’s not too bad. Unfortunately it meant I missed one of seminar classes I paid for and dearly wished to attend. Pain wins hands down when the pain is a migraine.

Next up: VK LIVE Knitteratti

Vogue doesn’t ‘do’ swag

Writing the promotional content for these seminar/conferences is a delicate balance of what the organizers think will be of interest and who they can get (presenter/instructor-wise) to commit to the event. What Vogue wrote last summer for course titles had different titles when I got there, and different content as well. Then again, things I was interested in last summer changed by the time of the conference, so I guess that’s a fairish exchange.

I was wildly psyched about two classes. Two color brioche knitting led by the mistress of all that is brioche, Nancy Marchant, and knitting with mawata (silk cocoons/handkerchiefs) led by the knitteratti genius of The Yarn Harlot. I had a migraine during the former but did learn enough to carry on. The latter was much better situated room-accommodations-wise, and I seriously scored terrific mawata for future playtime. (If I didn’t purchase it, she would have to cart the 30 grams back across the border. I am nothing if not helpful. Okay, I wasn’t the only one being ‘helpful’ —but I did my share!)

As I mentioned above, classroom accommodations were not always ideal. Many classes were held in regular hotel rooms into which a large table was crammed with seating for 16. Lighting was abysmal for knitting. Squeezing behind seats to show samples was uncomfortable for all. The only place to store samples was in the bathroom!

On to the Market Place

When you have a premium product such as ‘luxury’ yarns, apparently you do not need to have swag to offer the masses that descend on your conference exhibit location like locusts (or lemmings?). Fiber artists will pay through the nose for the good stuff! Example: Yak is expensive to collect and process for use. They charged a whole lot for little bits of it. Cashmere is a highly desirable fiber, too. In this case, ‘inexpensive’ is a relative term.

One place gave out fingernail files but did not have their logo on them, so I can’t say who was so generous. They were very fine grain, which does help keep your nails from snagging on the yarns. Lion Brand Yarn gave out large paper/fiber totes but as they were not selling any of their yarn at the conference, there was nothing to actually put in them (from Lion Brand, at least).

Two yarn companies had decent conference sales (BOGO and 50% off selected 10-pack bags of Noro, Debbie Bliss, cashmere, silk, etc) Those two places were MOBBED from Thursday evening when the market opened until midday on Sunday, just before closing. Even then, there was a solid line around the bins. I dithered, pondered, and had skeins lifted out of my hands (may I?) by other, presumably more organized shoppers. Reminding myself of the six bins of string already in my possession at home, I reluctantly took my self (and my slim wallet) to other booths. It must be my disappointment clouding my memory as to which companies were offering the deals.

Most of the companies did not offer any conference ‘deal’ (printer conferences, educational supplier conferences, and consumer electronics conferences give serious swag) other than not charging tax and rounding the retail price down to the nearest whole dollar. (I was greedy spoiled by the fore-mentioned conferences.) This no-tax-rounded-down was the big offer at the booksellers who mostly had books by presenters who signed them for you.

But not the book *I* wanted (Knitting Brioche: The Essential Guide to the Brioche Stitch by Nancy Marchant). I put it on my Amazon wish list. I’m just sayin’….

I do not wish to imply that the participants were anywhere near as frugal with their time and their efforts as the merchants were. This large bin was empty Thursday evening.

I took the picture Sunday at noon. Quick knitting no matter how you look at it!

Classic gorgeous shared spaces with weird off-the-wall impractical designs. People who attended the conference sported their best work in color, cables, entelac and fine fibers. I saw lots of heathered colorations in sweaters, jumpers, vests, scarves, felted hats, and yes, socks. (Franklin Habit was gifted with bobble socks by an admirer. I saw them. I touched them, even! Gorgeous!)

Some companies have almost religiously devoted followers. Blue Moon has built their reputation on fair prices for gorgeous, quality product. It was also mobbed the entire time the Market Place was open.

People passed one another, pausing to admire handiwork worn (which was why you wore it there, of course!). I was surrounded by eye candy in all shapes and forms. Exhibits showed many examples of what could be done with the yarns on display. The mochi mochi exhibit was a delightful play town, fully landscaped and inhabited with droll animals and adorable houses:

But wait! There’s more! Not today, though.

corollary: Not everything on the internet is up-to-date/accurate

Living in Massachusetts for the past decade (plus) has spoiled me for all things internet, and electronic tools, gadgets, online reference/research, and even just getting around. (Yes, I have a GPS, but I get a bigger view of the errand run on my laptop than on I do on my minuscule Tom-Tom One®.)

The reliability of the location information, the banking kiosks, the local calendar events, etc. are much better in Massachusetts than here in Florida. Most, if not all, event information includes dates, street addresses (with links to mapping and driving instructions), email contact information, and phone numbers. Florida? Not so much. Add this to the growing-bigger-by-the-minute list of reasons NOT to move here when I retire.

Hypothesis: People in Massachusetts are more likely to use the internet for information than people in Florida. When you know your customers will catch you if you neglect to update store locations, you tend to keep it current. (CVS and JoAnnes Fabric Store—I’m talking to you!)

When in Rome Florida, I have found the Yellow Pages to be more a more reliable reference than the internet. Very disconcerting!

On-site electronic banking tools are not the same nation-wide (even for the same bank)— I found a local branch of my bank here (one of the Uber banks that is just shy of world dominion—I do not mean that in a nice way) and drove over to do a deposit and withdrawal.

No self-service kiosk in site.

I did locate (hard to miss, actually) the four-lane drive through. No deposit slip, no withdrawal slip in sight. Pneumatic tubes bore the check for deposit to an inside clerk who then interrogated me as to my home state, how I wanted the slips to be filled out (line-by-frickin’-line for each of the deposit and the withdrawal slips), required me to accept the tube of papers back to sign/authorize/return for processing, and finally… returned my bank card, my drivers license, my copies of the afore-mentioned slips, and my cash.

To be honest, I think she was as flabbergasted with me as I was with the archaic system she operated with on a daily basis. Back in the mid-90’s this was how I used to do regular banking in NJ. With kids in tow, you really prefer the drive-throughs but you come prepared with slips filled out, etc.

You can find a bazillion things (stores, insurance companies, car sales lots) within a five-minute drive here in the Clearwater/Tampa Bay area. You can’t walk to most of them. I don’t think they believe in usable sidewalks. There are parking lots and there are roads. Areas with sidewalks seem to surround residential neighborhoods, but INSIDE the neighborhoods I saw no sidewalks. Admittedly this is a small geographical selection of a very large state to base this hypothesis on, but it is where *I* am, so it is statistically valid IMHO.

If it weren’t for the lovely warmth and sunshine, Florida would have damn little to recommend itself to me!

…and the Florida DMV

If you make the mistake of allowing your vehicle registration to expire, your very existence may also be terminated—sort of like those Hindu rites where the wife leaps into the husband’s funeral pyre, you know?

To reinstate your existence, you simply provide proof of birth (legal, embossed-with-state-seal copy of same will also be accepted) along with your current (original, not photo-copied) Social Security (SS) card.

Should you be female, and have been married/changed your name, you will need to show an unbroken chain of legal documentation showing how your name changed from point A (birth certificate) to point B (SS name)–or, in my mothers case,  to point C and point D. Acceptable proof is a copy of the marriage license from the originating city/state. Um… forgot the first state, the next two were Michigan, and the last two were Nevada and New York State. I am not sure she remembers the exact towns or the actual dates anymore, either.

Mother “expired” at midnight on her 81st birthday because:

  • she couldn’t find the neccessary paperwork on her 36″ diameter dining table in time, and
  • the state of Florida refuses to believe one can exist without a current driver/auto registration (they may be right but in that case, so why are they still insisting on getting the tax $$s from an expired resident??)

We will spend tomorrow camped at the closest FL DMV (or whatever they call it) office we can find. Mother is depressed at the prospect of spending an entire day dealing with the convoluted Florida registry, and I can’t say I blame her! I have knitting to do to occupy my hands (a big help to reduce bloodshed) and I am not leaving there until it is resolved one way or another.

Getting old is definitely, MOST definitely, NOT for wimps!

Currently, I live in Northern Massachusetts. I am visiting my mother in Pinellas County, Florida, ostensibly to assist her in downsizing in preparation for a move to an assisted living facility this summer.

From the air, you can see rectangular (with 90-degree angles) ‘ponds’ almost as often as you can see ‘normal’ (organic? native form?) water bodies. Frequently there are boats moored on the water in these green rectangles. It remind me of the game “Battleship.”

People are dressed for all kinds of weather…at the same time. Driving down the street you see people in boots and sweatshirts near people in hot pants and tank tops. Some wear massively-brimmed head gear, while others sport sunglasses that would fit right in with Mardi Gras attire.

Main roadways have 40-45 MPH signs, but are lined with shops so you cannot go anywhere near that speed. Although some do try.

There are a lot of senior citizens here with deeply tanned and weathered skin, wearing red hats, sequins, the latest high-tech athletic shoes, and using walkers. Except for the hats, I was referring to the men. Men wear baseball caps with lewd sayings or team logos on them. Actually, so do a lot of the women. Many of the men sport low ponytails so length of hair is not necessarily a gender identifier.

Small dogs abound! Most are carried from poo place to poo place. Larger dogs have owners attired in designer leashes that sport attached plastic poo pick up pouches among the large silver studs. Outdoor art festivals are magnets for these life forms. Acknowledging pet popularity, many outdoor cafes and bars post ‘pooch friendly’ alfresco dining and imbibing sections.

The art festival I browsed yesterday catered to pet vanity with matching jewelry items for pet and owner/staff.

The last two images were taken with my Droid2 in brilliant sunlight and sharp shadow. I couldn’t see what I had until I got back. Well, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Florida is almost totally surrounded by water and is filled with lakes and other small water bodies yet it in a drought. I miss the soft, lush green of the mid-Atlantic and northeastern states. You don’t dare go outside barefoot because the grass is more like shards of sandpaper even when it is green, which most of it is not just now.

Compensating for the above is the fact that I can go outside in shirt sleeves and feel a glorious breeze and sun on my face. That’s more than enough for now.

I love getting links from my sister. I enjoy finding interesting links from the blogs I follow, too. But I do not always have a chance to look at links in emails right away. So I marked the email as ‘unread’ to remind me to get back to it at a more convenient time. My inbox is all up-to-date but I still show almost (ulp!) 386 unread emails because I want to go back to them for one reason or another. I know of a few others who do this, too. They are all female. I wonder if there’s a gender connection?

But I digress…

A recent email link (sorry, sis, I can’t remember exactly when it was) referred me to an speech by the author of ‘Eat, Pray, Love.’ I like how author Elizabeth Gilbert thinks about the concept of ‘genius’ and have taken her view as my own.

For those who don’t have a spare 18 minutes this very minute to watch the video, it really boils down to the question of whether or not a person IS a genius, or a person HAS a genius. There is huge pressure in the former, relief in the latter.

Those who have felt the rush of creation in words, music, voice, building, whatever… know that the sensation is unlike any other. Many say they feel ‘possessed’ by some divine inspiration— that the story wrote itself, or the symphony exploded whole within their mind generating a feverish rush to capture it whole before the rushing torrent becomes a wave, then a wisp, then vanishing smoke.

Brainstorming can be like that. Alone or in a group, a new way of looking at things (inside or outside some construct, say, a box) can fire up the neurons to leapfrog into fresh ideas, or cascade a concept through several iterations. This is delightful, entertaining play for me. Hey universe: May I please have a job like that?

The best part to me, however, is freedom from the egotistical concept that you may not always create something genius. You show up and you work and sometimes there’s magic involved. Copywriters and authors bank on that happening frequently enough to pay the bills.

Some days I love my words and they love me back. Other days, not so much. It’s all okay. I has genius. <g>

I enjoy playing with type, probably because I play with words and graphic design a lot. Sometimes I even get paid for that (those?) which is especially nice! The creators of this video have taken movable typography to a whole new level, giving me a (so far, anyway) earworm I don’t mind a bit.

I dare you to not think of other things you could use this technique on–impossible!

One of the things that cracked me up most while visiting in NJ for Christmas (this is not the time to discuss the snowy traveling weather we had), was during a trek to the local food store (in the early part of the snow storm, but that’s not important here). McCafferty’s in Princeton had an olive bar. Not a salad bar with a lot of green or black olives, or a pasta bar with olive-heavy antipasto, but a real, full sized olive bar with at least THIRTY variations of olives, olive condiments, olive mixtures, and even olive paste!

I know you use olives in martini’s and some people use them in potato salad (yeuch!), antipasto (another not-my-thing), but there’s more recipes with olives??

Can you tell I am not an olive fan? I was so floored by the idea that an entire island-style bar filled with nothing but olives was profitable in any way, shape, or form, that I talked about it. Maybe I talked about it too much, who knows? I told everyone. I was just so flabbergasted to hear that these things are very popular at Whole Foods stores and many of the people I talked to knew of them.

My sister (of the NJ trip) loves our Hannaford’s and enjoys looking through the store when she visits (cheap dates and easy thrills, that’s my sister and I). Up here for New Year’s Eve celebrations, we went on a (5-minutes-away) day trip so she could explore the store. I had been there just before Christmas, so you wouldn’t think I would be seeing anything new, would you?


%d bloggers like this: