Have you ever noticed how one item in a photo or sign grabs your eyes to the exclusion of all else? The other three-quarters of the image may as well not exist for all the attention it gets. Flipping through recent photos, looking for ones to print, etc, these ‘pairs’ flashed, scorching my eyeballs. Side-by-side comparisons I do not need…

My sister and I learned this ditty in Girl Scouts. When you are 10 and don’t even *have* boobs, it’s funny. Nowadays, not so much.

(sigh)

I know I am supposed to provide tags for my entries, but I absolutely refuse to add ‘boobs’ to my tag cloud.

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In a Twilight Zone episode back in the early 80’s (seriously last century stuff!) a man got lost. In a moment of weakness, decided to ask for help at the next house with lights on. The resident whipped out his GPS module and showed the man which turns would get him where he wanted to go.

In the 1980’s, such a device was unheard of. My mind boggled at the mammoth amount of data and computing power needed for this card-deck-sized device. I lusted after one. I have been known to get myself turned around and lost while going in a straight line. Yes, I totally lusted while waiting impatiently for the technology and data to become available.

2D mapsFor me to travel anywhere unfamiliar, I would amass maps, write out the turns, highlight the route, and practice it in virtual mode several times before going out the door. If there were any detours on the route that I was not pre-prepared for, I just turned around and went home.

Google maps and Map Quest were decided improvements over that system. But I still could get lost and freak out about not being able to find my way back home.

Finally, I got my own GPS device. It took almost 30 years, but I got one and suddenly I discovered a freedom so intoxicating, a peace so comforting…I knew I would always be able to find my way back home again.

The Tomtom One is an older model, but it works fine for my needs (mostly). I can locate nearby restaurants, pharmacies, shopping centers, gas stations, movie theaters, and more. Sometimes I drive around with it on, even though I know where I am going, just so I can (hopefully) familiarize myself with the surrounding streets.

But wait, it gets even better.

My Droid phone allows me to tell it an address and it will provide visual and verbal directions to navigate me there. I know. Lots of you are used to this. I am still in the flabbergasted happy-dance phase.

Scotty would have been so pleased.

The North Shore Yarn Crawl 2011 is currently going on. A dozen fiber stores are listed. I went to seven of them over Thursday afternoon and Friday afternoon. In the fog and rain. I got lost several times. But I got to every single one I targeted. Go me!

Even when the GPS is wrong, or updates its map too late for me to change course, or otherwise craps out on me, I still trust it to get me back home.

The GPS system has been a Great Enabler for me. I heart GPS navigation!

The problem with so many of our toys and hobbies is that we must pay for the supplies with which to indulge in them. My favorite yarns are not cheap, but they last longer than flowers do. (I will not mention the rosemary plants I buy from Hannafords. In my hands, they die almost as quickly as fresh flowers.) During the winter, playing at or practicing with floral arranging has been an indulgence limited to the quick bouquet grab at the food store. I love to have flowers throughout the house, especially in the winter.

Some people buy chocolates. I buy books, yarn, or flowers for my retail therapy.

Thanks to Lee, I have found an enabler for my floral passions. The Power of Flowers Project is about 20 minutes from my house. When a new donation of flowers becomes available they need to be picked up, broken down, refreshed, and repurposed into new bouquets before being delivered, free of charge, to any and all who need a pick-me-up.

Before taking apart the arrangements Paper mache containers form a mountain fo recycling A variety of tall and short containers hold sorted items

Imagine being able to freely play with a room literally *full* of flowers: roses, calla lilies, freesia, tulips, hydrangea, mums, larkspur, iris, exotic greenery, palm fronds, ferns, gerbera daisies, thistles, snapdragons, bells of Ireland, and many I have no name for. Purple spikey thing, green ball of foofy stuff, etc., were the identifiers we randomly used. We understood each other.

I am a ‘process florist’— my joy comes in creating the arrangements. I was totally joyed spending three hours in a chilled room making arrangements over and over for the Power of Flowers Project. I came back the next day when another, even larger donation arrived. There were six of us working for several hours before the last of the usable flowers were gone.

This tray is holding about 20 small arrangements. Floral arrangement creativity

Even so, there was leeway for self indulgence— I brought some straggling flowers home for myself, and dropped off a fresh bouquet at my neighbors’. She loved the treat and I felt terrific for doing it.

Spider mums don't tolerate much handling and are not saved

Read more about the Power of Flowers Project here, and here.

Behavior Modification: Changing how you react to something to increase the probability of success.
Behavior modification is something we demonstrate for our children to emulate (actions/language). How to respond to gifts? How to handle compliments? Criticisms? Frustration? Challenges? Dining etiquette? Crossing the street? Thinking ahead/planning multi-step projects?

I can’t tell you how happy I was when I became an adult in a home where I didn’t have to be a constant ‘good example’ for the children. My social and safety skills were sufficient for just the four of us (hubby, two dogs, and moi). Unfortunately, driving solo appears to have deteriorated my driving skills. Unless dogs were in the car (they do not wear seat belts, so I am very careful of how the car leans, shifts gravity-wise, decelerates, etc.) I drove knowing my balance was compensated by pressure on the brake, knowing when to lean in, etc., plus I wore a seat belt. I forget to do the same for the rare human passengers. My son commented. Ouch. My mother commented. Double ouch!

Knitting Modification: Changing how you create something to increase the probability of success/fitting/enough yarn.

Select yarn (in this case, light worsted weight superwash marino stash from Tangled and Warped).

Select basic pattern. My go-to resource for raglan everything is from Spinnerin vol. #309, page 17 (c)1963. Out of print. My original was photocopied from a co-worker. I found one on eBay last year in mint condition. It replaced the deteriorating 35-year-old version that I used for almost every sweater I made for my kids (‘way back when they still wore things I made them).

Guestimate result. I was an English major, so it’s a ‘you do the math’ thing. Guess wrong. Call to get child’s height. Decide it will be a top that will fit her until she is at least four (she is 18 months old now).

Select stitch pattern to insert/add to the basic pattern. Curse stitch pattern. Look for errata online. Finally locate it but it doesn’t cover your situation. How could it have been missed? It has been duplicated and promoted on several blogs. How could they miss this major issue?

Rant to all and sundry on errors. Books in general have errata these days rather than correct patterns from the first printing. Having to check for errata before beginning a project is annoying and unprofessional! Be sure to stress this inconvenience to knitters and non-knitters alike. Grump. Grump some more.

Realize you have converted the pattern to be knit on circular needles rather than back and forth. You compensated by changing the knits to purls every other row, but you neglected to reverse the sequence of stitches as well.

Oh. Um…

Center leaf pattern from Knitting on the Edge, page 121—a really great book with very few errata after 5 years on the market. My apologies to Nicky Epstein. I own a few of her books and this is the first (admittedly self-induced) problem I have ever had. (Not the first self-induced one, and definitely not the last.) (sigh)

Behavior Modification: Accepting that changes are multi-step processes will increase the probability of success. Remind self to assume children are always present and act accordingly (said child may be a shortsighted self…).

End result: A jumper dress for Docious that will grow with her from 18 months (as a dress) to 4t (as a top). Modeled by Blue. (Human model not available at time of photo session.)

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New York is HOT

NO,really, it’s HOT. It is steamy, close quarters, in-your-face HOT. Sardine-close, hold-your-breath squeezed-into-a-subterranean-tin-can close.

Then you go outside into windy, frigid atmosphere and recoil in frozen pain. Breathing icicles of air, driving shards of frost into your lungs.

The apartments in NYC are also hot. You can’t really control the temperature that comes into the apartment through the radiators, nor through the heating pipes that travel up through your apartment to the floors higher in the building. Most NYers have at least one window cracked all winter. One is toasty warm wearing just your own skin. Fresh air by the head of the bed compensating for the steamy heat… I loved it!

The NYer winter uniform is The North Face outerwear, in black. New Yorkers apparently are not aware that it came in colors and neither was I (at first). Only one brave soul sported North Face winter garb in non-standard (for NYC) color.

I tried to kinnear a shot of the variety of black coats, parkas, jackets, and activewear, but remember the part about this being NYC and the subways are (insert paragraph one here)? I couldn’t get *to* my camera, let alone sneak a photo.

There are a lot of people in NYC (doh!), and almost as many hole-in-the-wall places to eat. Truly a culinary melting pot of different cultures blending different tastes from every major and minor country/region in the entire world. The Chilean-Brazilian-Asian chicken restaurant we enjoyed for dinner is a good example. An entire roasted and spiced chicken with curried rice, and garden salad. We were served by a plethora (okay, there were only three or four hovering) of Mexican and Chinese wait-staff. To get there (four short blocks away) we passed several equally small bakeries and restaurants featuring cuisine from mixes of Vietnamese, Mexican, French, Philippine, Vegan, well…you get the idea.
Waving 'hi' to DH

Vogue Knitting LIVE did not see fit to list more than a few dining option$, and most of those were inside the Hilton it$elf. (Yes, I did mean to use dollar signs—$8.50 for a cup—not even a mug— of coffee???) There was a Starbucks within sight of the hotel, but the lines extended OUTSIDE the building. Two out of my three days were booked solid with classes and lectures, leaving only 30 minutes for lunch/food scrounging. Frigid wind tunnels outside discouraged aimless wandering. The hot dog vendors outside made a killing on the starving masses.

INSIDE Vogue Knitting LIVE it was also totally hot, with the most impressive collection of knitteratti superstars ever seen in a single gathering. I took pix of many superstars. Franklin Habit probably came out the best, if a mite fuzzy. The Yarn Harlot managed to come out fuzzy *and* have glowing demon-possession eyes. Nancy Marchant was completely back-lit which shows off her fit figure but illuminates little else. The crowd around the Susan Boye booth were hogging Drew the Crochet Dude. Lily Chin was in conversation with Brett Bara (Knit & Crochet Today on PBS). The lighting (as mentioned previously) totally sucked. My photo skills are limited at best. I’m more of a ‘lucky shot’ photographer. Out of respect for them I won’t be publishing any of my fan shots.

The class teachers were all superstars and just the nicest possible people IRL (in real life). When Taiu Landra (Koigu Wool Designs) pulled her mitered knitting pieces out of her suitcases I blurted out “I know that piece! I have that book!” (Knits from a Painters Pallette) Fiona Ellis encouraged us to chart our own Celtic cables after going over the basics of knitting Celtic knot designs (definitely NOT your grandmothers cables!). Many faces I didn’t know until I managed to connect their work with them (Nicky Epstein = Knitted Flowers and Knitting on the Edge, for example).

I passed *this* close (in the Market Place, there were so many people you couldn’t help but rub shoulders!) to Cookie A (link goes to my first of many designed by her), Jared Flood, Cat Bordhi (a typical Cat-style video), and so many more familiar faces from Knitty.com, Ravelry (a huge time sponge and wonderful reference for ideas, patterns, and, and, and), and the Twist Collective patterns.

The latest count of attendees that I saw was 3,000. Wow.

Would I do it again? I would WANT to, but its final expense tally was much higher than anticipated. Remember, I only purchased extra mawata and a set of needles. I stayed at my sister-in-law’s and rode the subway to the Hilton. Bonus—walking the streets of Manhattan and viewing treats like this:

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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

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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.
So…

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.

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