Wednesday, August 30, 2006

What I Did on My Summer Vacation

Warning: Long post ahead, somewhat picture heavy, and no knitting content.

This post is brought to you by Tom, who I think must be part mountain goat. He has got the surest footing on loose scree that I've ever seen. And now for his story...

Saturday 8/19
The day began with a 6 AM flight from Washington to Los Angeles and then a second flight to Fresno. There’s no easy way across the Sierras from the west side to the East side, which was our destination. Because the way is blocked by Sequoia National Park and Yosemite Park, the choice is drive north and through Yosemite Park or drive south of Sequoia and back up the east side to Lone Pine. We chose the southern route and so after about 15 hours of travel we arrived at our camp for the night outside Lone Pine in a BLM campground called Tuttle Creek.

Sunday 8/20

We awoke to a sunrise just beginning to light the massive peaks of the mountains surrounding Mt Whitney to our west. Today our goal is to secure a wilderness permit that will allow us to hike into the John Muir Wilderness area and position ourselves below Mt Whitney for our adventure. Only a handful of permits are available and most are reserved months in advance. With no guarantee there would be any permits available, we dutifully presented ourselves at 11:00 at the Interagency Visitor Center with our fingers crossed. Five minutes later when the park service employee saw there was in fact a permit available to enter the park the following day, he remarked that I must be living right. I explained ‘then there must be a mistake’ but accepted the permit nonetheless.

Now the hard work begins. We have to finish getting supplies for 5 days. Food, more socks, and fuel for the stove… and even harder, we have to make everything fit in our packs. Because we’ll ultimately be climbing up to 14,500’ we need to begin acclimatizing to the altitude. The atmospheric pressure at 14,000’ is about 60% of that at sea level (where I happen to live) and so each breath yields only 60% of the amount of oxygen molecules. A body can mostly adapt to that but it requires some time and ideally a gradual ascent. After a panicked glance at the mound of camping and climbing gear we had amassed, we drive to the trailhead with only day packs to do a quick hike up and back to 11,000’. I’m glad to have done the hike because afterwards I feel a bit sick from the altitude and know the hike will benefit me in the days to come. A final meal and a final beer at the Mt. Whitney restaurant in Lone Pine and back to the tents.

Monday 8/21

We wake early to take down tents and finish packing all the gear. Hold on! There’s no way all this gear will fit in my pack and I have one of the largest packs available! So one more time …. What do I really need and what can stay behind? I put my tent back in the car and take my partner’s small one man tent instead, since he’s decided to sleep in the open all week. We arrive at the trailhead, packs ready, at around 8:00 and before heading out, decide to make use of the scale provided for hikers. My pack weighs in at 65 pounds. Ouch! After 1 mile, the ‘climbers trail’ and the Mt. Whitney Trail split. The North Fork trail is a beautiful and very rugged trail and combines very steep hiking and a good deal of scrambling with hands and feet. After an exhausting 5 hours we stop for the night at Upper Boy Scout Lake (11,300’) where we camp. Temperatures are cool and dry and the coyotes sing us to sleep.

Tuesday 8/22
Up early again for the final hike to Iceberg Lake at 12,600’. We expect the hike to be a somewhat casual 2 hours. This is big country and things appear closer that they are. Now that we’re above the tree line there is often no trail to follow because the ground is strewn with large boulders. Following the ‘trail’ involves scanning ahead for the next cairn (a stack of rocks used to mark the trail). This proves to be the most difficult section of trail thus far and it's four tiring hours later when we finally arrive at Iceberg Lake beneath the huge East face of Mt Whitney. After setting up camp, we grab day packs with water and head up to examine the beginning of the East Face route. We scramble up steep slopes and climb some easy sections of rock without ropes. The altitude is really having an effect. Any exertion requires big deep breaths. I wonder how it must feel at much greater elevations in Alaska and the Himalayas. After a quick look at the route, we head back down to camp. Every night we use a filter to make clean water for the next day. Almost no water source where people travel can be trusted to be clean and it’s not something to take a chance with.

Wednesday 8/23
Iceberg Lake is aptly named. In the shadows near the edge are patches of snow that probably never melt and the wind coming off the lake is bone chilling. Today we’ll ascend the Mountaineer’s Route to the summit. It’s not a technical climb, that is, it doesn’t require ropes but still there are several hundred feet of climbing near the summit that you wouldn’t want to fall from. It’s a tough climb because of the altitude but no great obstacles to overcome. The climbing near the top is exhilarating but not too hard. It’s a large summit and we see about 20 people on top. Except for us, everyone else has come up from the Mt. Whitney trail on the West side. The Mt. Whitney trail is the most common way to the top and can be hiked in one long day in a 20-mile round trip from the trailhead. Because there’s a direct line of sight to the town of Lone Pine 12,000’ below, cell phone service is actually fairly good. A good many of the people on the summit were making phone calls to announce their arrival at the highest point in the lower 48. An uneventful descent to camp, an early dinner, and I’m in my tent by 7:00 to continue reading Sophie’s World, a very cleverly written novel that tells the history of Philosophy. I learned more Greek Philosophy on this trip than I absorbed while earning a philosophy degree in my college days.

Thursday 8/24
Today we plan to climb the East Face route so we’re up early and begin the approach by 7:00. We need to be off the summit by 3:00 PM in case there are any late afternoon electrical storms. By 8:00 we’ve climbed as far as we can without ropes so now we enter the vertical realm. The first hundred feet of climbing includes a short traverse with 1,500’ of air beneath our feet where the East Face drops in a plumb line to the slopes below. We move pretty quickly and find the climbing, although exhausting due to the altitude, is easier than we had expected. By noon we are two-thirds of the way up the face and other than a couple of short sections, the hardest climbing is behind us. Near the summit we realize we’ve gotten off route somewhere and are uncertain how to proceed. Because the climbing has gotten easier though, we decide to unrope since we can climb more quickly without the rope and because we need to gain the summit while we still have plenty of daylight. Once the sun drops below the summit, which it does at 4:00 PM, the east face can become uncomfortably cold and windy. After some false starts we find the way to the summit and arrive around 3 PM. We have a short conversation with a couple who had taken 8 hours to hike to the summit on the Mt. Whitney trail. Without headlamps they could expect to be hiking the last few miles back in the dark. Another uneventful descent brings us back to camp at 5:30. Several days at altitude have killed my appetite and I decide to skip dinner in favor of a few hour of reading Sophie’s World before sleep.

Friday 8/25
I’m anxious to leave this cold barren camping spot behind. It’s spectacular scenery but with no green in sight, it begins to seem rather bleak and the constant cold wind is taxing my patience. We abandon our plans to hike down to Upper Boy Scout Lake for the night before continuing down and instead decide to do the entire hike in a day. My 65-pound pack has to be lighter now with most of the food and fuel gone but somehow feels even heavier. The hike back down is even more brutal than the hike in. It’s less taxing on the lungs but much harder on the legs and back. It seems like an endless trip back to the trailhead but we finally arrive. I weigh my pack (which has been affectionately named ‘the pig’) once more. It’s now 55 pounds. I feel like I’ve lost nearly as much weight as my pack has. We dump our packs in the car and head to the small store near the trailhead. Food and a shower are paramount concerns. First a shower and then the best hamburger and French fries I’ve ever eaten. It’s only been 5 days in the mountains but the time concentrates ones appreciation for the simple things.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Our Hearts Are Heavy

Despite the joy of having Tom home again, our hearts are heavy chez Libran. Our beloved little cat is not well. A trip to the vet today did not provide any answers, other than she has fleas. We'll get bloodwork results tomorrow and go from there. So for now, our footsteps are soft and our voices muted and we hope that our little cat is back to her normal, playful, amusing self soon.

Tom and I don't have any children. How do those of you who have children, particularly small children who can't tell you what's wrong, deal with your children's illnesses? How do you keep it from killing you?

Knitting Progress
There's not much going on. I've knit a little more on the cuff of the Leaves of Grass sock. After reading the pattern more, I discovered that the stitch pattern is only on the instep. I'm not so sure that I'm going to like that look but I might be surprised.

The Milanese Lace Scarf blocked quite nicely. I'll post a detail picture later in the week, after I send my One Skein secret pal the package. My own secret pal sent me an email the other day saying that a giant goodie package is heading my way this week. I loved the first package (handspun sock yarn!) and given the amount of work she put into the first skein, that should be enough for the remainder of exchange. I can't wait to see what she's chosen for me this time!

Guest Blogger Coming Soon!
I could tell you more about Tom's trip, but I think it's best to let him tell you in his own words. He's agreed to take the blog reins and give a trip report. Suffice it to say that it was physically challenging and that he didn't eat enough. He lost about four pounds. After he got home Saturday evening, he was so excited about any kind of food, given that he survived on those packaged tuna steaks and dehydrated food. I think he came home early because he was hungry!

Here's an example of what he climbed:

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Busy, Busy, Busy!

The weekend is not turning out quite as planned. I know that to be true, even though it's only 7:30 in the morning. Tom called me last night as I was heading down to the local watering hole to meet our friend Leigh. He's safely off the mountain, a day sooner than expected. Instead of coming home tomorrow, he and Tom have changed their flight and are coming home at 5:30 this evening.

I'm not ready.

Today is the day that Beth comes over for a farmers market expedition and knitting. It's also the day of the VM Software Reunion, where I get to meet up with over 100 of my former coworkers. That activity is now crossed off the schedule.

I also need to clean the house, which was on the schedule for tomorrow. Instead of a nice leisurely cleaning, I'll be tearing about the house like a mad woman, doing only the most superficial of cleanings. And then there's the little matter of the 10 pounds of Jacob roving. Where, oh where am I going to put it?

News at 11:00...

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Next Up...

So what's going to be next on the needles? The Leaves of Grass Anklet Socks for the Mystery Sock Knit Along. Already I'm taking liberty with the pattern by using five DPNs instead of the four specified in the pattern. I really, really hate working with four DPNs--the knitting feels way too cramped. So, we'll see what sorts of problems I'll run into. I'm at the casting on point.

I need to work on the Too-Many-Choices Top; it's swatched and I sort of got gauge. We'll see how that plays out. There could be much gnashing of teeth when I find out that I've arrived at Frog Pond.

This weekend, I'll knit my mother's boob. A friend is going to come over Saturday morning to go to the farmers market with me and knit! It will be such fun to have a knitting companion.

I also need to work on Jenna's sweater as well as Christine's. If I'm lucky, I'll get them done by Christmas.

Sorry for a short post; the migraine I acquired earlier today is dulling my brain (although some would say that's its normal state). I'm going to finish casting on and start the ribbing on the sock, then head to bed. If I'm lucky, I'll be headache-free in the morning.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

On Top of the World

Well, at least on the highest point in the lower 48 states. Tom called me early this afternoon from the summit of Mt. Whitney (elevation 14,491 feet). How cool is that? Before he left, he had said something about calling me from the summit. I was amazed that he could get a cell phone signal there. The transmission was pretty bad; most of what he said I couldn't decipher. But I did catch that it was a good hike.

Even though it's kind of nice that he could place a phone call from a remote place, it's also sad, too. There are now very few places where you can truly escape from it all. Of course, you can always choose not to the use the technology, but that fact that it's there is enticing.

Our cat, Jezebel, is not very happy that Tom is gone. Perhaps it's because he's the main feeder. She's been a bit subdued and not very playful. I suspect that she'll perk up when he returns.

After I ate my very delicious ginger chocolate chip cookie from Lola Cookies, I finished the Milanese Lace Scarf, with just over two yards of yarn left. I need to weave in the ends and block it, which I'll do on Saturday. After Tom returns with the camera, I'll post a picture. I think it turned out well. I couldn't memorize the stitch pattern, but it was easy to knit and easy to figure out where I was. Or more importantly, where the mistakes were.

Daily Horoscope
This was part of my horoscope today:

Bargains and heavy discounts will help you feed your piggy bank, and that's a good thing -- you need to put a little more effort into your rainy-day fund. Something big is coming up and the extra cash will help you become a part of something exciting.

Hmmm...could that "something exciting" be my very own yarn shop?

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

What's That, You Say?

Quilt? What's the progress on the quilt?

Ummm...there's no quilt to be seen here. What ever made you think I was quilting?

Oh! That quilt! It's gone back into my head for a redesign. Just a small one, mind you. I think I figured out how to get the points to match and accomplish the pattern that I want. But, the yellow fabric is not working out right. It seems to be acting like fabric cut on the bias. A closer examination revealed that it's a twill fabric, not an plain weave fabric. So, I've got to go back to the fabric store to find another yellow.

Knitting Progress
Despite the fact that I'm single this week, there's been precious little knitting. I haven't been getting home from work until about 8:00, then I have to fix dinner. By the time that's over and done with, it's after 9:00. Yes, I know there's plenty of time left in the evening for knitting. I'm taking advantage of this alone time to blog a little more as well as catch up on my blog reading.

But anyway, after I finish writing this post, I'm going to eat a cookie and finish the Milanese Lace Scarf.

I promise!

Monday, August 21, 2006

I Wish I Was There

"There" being in the Sierras with my husband. He's been calling every day (using a cell phone, and tonight he was calling from 11,000 feet in the middle of nowhere!) and regaling me, however briefly, with stories of his adventures. Fortunately, he hasn't had any epic adventures yet and I hope it stays that way.

This first couple of days have been spent getting acclimated to the altitude as well as obtaining the necessary backcountry permits. They did a hike yesterday and on the way back to camp, Tom began feeling a bit dizzy and nauseated. We think he had a touch of altitude sickness. Today they hiked up to 11,000 feet and he feels fine. They'll move camp again tomorrow, then hike to the summit of Mt. Whitney on Wednesday. On Thursday, they'll find a route to climb.

Tom says the scenery is spectacular there. There are crystal clear lakes, abundant wildflowers, and hummingbirds. He also saw some partridges or something like them.

On Spinning Jacob
So I'm sitting here, looking at 10 pounds of Jacob roving and wondering what in the world possessed me to buy 10 pounds of the stuff when I can't finish the current projects I've got on the needles or on the wheel. I can't even finish spinning four ounces of fiber, much less 10 pounds!

Nonetheless, I've got it now and I've got to spin it. I'll need about 1100 yards of bulky weight yarn. I can spin bulky. But here's a question for all of you spinner/knitters out there. Should I use a two-ply handspun or use a single? The Einstein Coat is knit in garter stitch. The bodice of coat is knit with the garter rows running horizontally; the bottom of the coat is knit with the garter rows running vertically. I'll want a yarn that doesn't give much. I'm thinking that that would be a single. All thoughts and opinions are welcome.

I'm almost, almost done with the Milanese Lace Scarf for my One Skein secret pal. If I knit fast (ha!), I might be able to finish it before bed. Of course, I might not have enough yarn for the last 10 rows. If I were smart, I'd put in a lifeline, but that's too much like work. Yeah, like tinking 10 row isn't like work?

Hey, I like to knit dangerously!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

My Inner European

I ran across these two quizzes on another blog, the name of which I can't remember now. I think I linked to it from a link of a link. Blogs are like that.

Your Inner European is Swedish!

Relaxed and peaceful.
You like to kick back and enjoy life.

So my inner European is Swedish? You could've fooled me. Irish, perhaps (remind me sometime to tell you about my love for the humble potato), or even French (I lived in Paris for seven months), but Swedish? I did visit Stockholm for a weekend and thought it was beautiful and I would like to go back and visit a little more. On second thought, though, I do enjoy being relaxed and peaceful, so these folks might be on to something.

Then there's this one:

You Are a Beagle Puppy

Cheerful, energetic, and happy go lucky.
And your sense of smell is absolutely amazing!

The first time I took the puppy quiz, it said I was a chichuahua puppy, describing me as "hyperactive." Many words have been used to describe me, but "hyperactive" ain't one of them! I don't think I'm all that energetic, but my sense of smell isn't bad.

What I Did on My Husband's Vacation

Day 2 proved to be as relaxing and as fun as Day 1. I had a leisurely breakfast of coffee and summer fruit and worked on my One Skein scarf, cleaned a little house, and did a little laundry. Valerie came over in the afternoon and we had a late lunch at South Street Under, then poked around in Black Shutter Antiques for a couple of hours. One of the vendors, Where the Attic Bird Sings, has the most awesome collection of Edwardian clothes. I had so much fun (and probably bored Valerie to tears) pointing out the construction details and why the clothes were made like that.

And for dinner tonight? I ate ice cream. There's a Cold Stone Creamery on the other side of town. Oof...the smallest size is too big. I got the Boston Creme Pie flavor, which is French Vanilla ice cream, yellow cake, and chocolate sauce. I had them hold the whipped cream. It was yummy, but it was too...too much. Definitely rich, and definitely not low fat.

So what to do tonight? Why, knit, of course! I'd love to sit outside and knit, but it's too humid and the mosquitos are ferocious. And I refuse to wear insect repellent.

Happy knitting!

Saturday, August 19, 2006

And So It Begins

Well, I got the two Toms (Tom's climbing partner's name is also Tom) off to the airport at 6:30 this morning and thus began my week as a single woman. You would think that after 10+ years of living by myself that I wouldn't feel at such a loss, but no... The house is too quiet (the cat is taking her evening walk outside). A somewhat long weekend is stretching out in front me. What to do? What to do?

I walked down to the farmers market this morning and picked up the usual extra-hot salsa, corn, peaches, blueberries, and tomatoes. I love our farmers' market. While only one vendor is organic, I think the others try to minimize their use of chemicals. At least that's what I like to believe. Then later this morning, I drove to Funkstown to visit Susan and her yarn shop, Y2Knit. It's been months since I've visited. She has some new yarns in and there was some unexpected stash enhancement. Not soon after I arrived, a local sheep raiser walked in with a 10-pound bag of roving. My little ears perked up so fast! "Roving!" said I, "You've got roving?" Yes, he did, about eight bags full.

He raises Jacob sheep. You can get more information about the sheep here. The sheep produce a medium grade wool and the wool that I purchased is a nice heathered gray. So what the heck am I going to do with 10 pounds of roving? Practice my spinning. And then spin up enough yarn to knit Sally Melville's Einstein Coat from Book 1: The Knit Stitch. I should be finished with that project in about 20 years.

I finally found the yarn for my sister-in-law's (last) Christmas sweater. It's Twize (a bamboo yarn) in color Twocean. This yarn is so soft! The original sweater idea flew out the window and I've opted instead to knit a sleeveless shell, the Lots-of-Choices Top from the same Sally Melville book. Given that Linda and Pete are building a house in the Abacos, the shell idea is a bit more practical than a wool sweater. There's not much need for wool in the Bahamas.

What's on tap for this evening? I'll be listening to Traditions with Mary Cliff and knitting the scarf for my One Skein secret pal, and swatching up the Twize Twocean. Who knows, if insomnia strikes again tonight, I just might start working on my Leaves of Grass socks for the Mystery Sock Knit Along. The yarn and needles are at the ready!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Naked Ladies

I've had Naked Ladies on my mind since the weekend. No, silly, not that kind of naked lady. This kind:

These are interesting flowers and there's a good reason why they are called Naked Ladies. They come up in early spring, along with the daffodils and crocus. In fact, the foliage is very similar to that of a daffodil. But you'd be sorely disappointed if you were wanting flowers in the spring. After all the spring flowers are finished blooming, the Naked Lady foliage turns yellow and withers away. No more plant. Then, in late July, a flower stalk pushes its way up et voila! You have flowers!

I happened to catch the flowers last Sunday as the sun was shining through their petals. Alas, I couldn't capture their beauty because the camera batteries (both sets) decided to run out of juice. I took this picture this morning, but it doesn't do the flowers justice. I'll try again tomorrow morning.

Weekend Happenings
This past weekend wasn't too productive on the quilting front. My parents finally decided to visit. It's been almost three years since their last visit (they live about four hours away) and that was way too long. They came up Friday evening and left Monday morning. What exciting and thrilling things did we do? Ummm...we ate. And went to the farmers market on Saturday. We sat around and talked. Ummm...we ate some more. Tom made his famous martinis for my mom. I got some knitting in while we talked.

By the time they left, my parents were looking quite relaxed and happy. A weekend of doing nothing was good for them. The last three years have been difficult. They spent almost six months getting my grandmother's house ready for sale a couple of years ago, then Mom's hip went bad and she had hip surgery in last November and then she dealt with breast cancer this spring. That's not exactly a stress-free existence.

Hey Sheep! Mom said she likes reading your comments on my blog. You've got another fan!

Quilt and Knitting Progress
There's a reason I don't like to piece quilts by machine. See?

I can't get the points to match up. I feel that I've got much better control of point-matching with piecing by hand. I'm going to have to work on perfecting my cutting technique as well as my sewing technique.

Tom's heading out early Saturday for a rock climbing trip to the Sierras and won't be back until the following Sunday. This will give me ample time to finish the scarf for my One Skein secret pal (it looks like it did in a previous post, but longer) and work on the quilt. There will be stash enhancement time, too, but probably not too much.

It's always weird when Tom goes away on one of his climbing trips. There's the freedom of doing anything I want (well, within reason). But believe it or not, that gets old after a couple of days. The house feels too empty, even with the cat. And then there's always the worry that he'll have a climbing accident. It's not likely, but it is possible. Anyway, I'm going to try to focus on my knitting and quilting. And if the quilting frustrates me too much? I'll work on my spinning.

As of Saturday, I'll be sans camera because Tom is taking it on his climbing trip. I'll see what kind of photo quality I can get off my cell phone. But the blog will probably be pictureless for a while.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

It's Official!

Just before we left for the beach a week ago, Tom's San Francisco Marathon time became official. Yippee! We don't know why his time wasn't transferred from the unofficial list; perhaps it was one of those ubiquitous computer glitches.

This year's beach trip was a bit odd. It was very hot and there were a lot of biting flies. Most of the beach time I logged was during my morning walks, with about an hour on the beach the day my nephew visited. The ocean, however, was cold, and the water was crystal clear. The other thing that made it a bit odd was that a fair number of family couldn't make it this year. All of Tom's nephews were missing, as well a sister-in-law and a brother-in-law. That made for a quiet house. As usual, most everyone stayed immersed in their books all week, with my mother-in-law being immersed in her jigsaw puzzles. I, of course, was immersed in my knitting. As a result, I have two finished objects!

The Trekking socks are done:

As is the Rasta Colors hat:

I think I've set a PR for the most FOs in a single week!

I made some progress on the Milanese Lace scarf, but ended up tinking as much as I was knitting. It is not a good car project.

Adventures in Quilting
As soon as we returned home, I started on the baby quilt project. Now, you must remember that I have an aversion to math and am somewhat challenged by geometry. What is a quilt but fabric formed by math and a whole lot of geometry? I spent a good part of last Saturday designing the quilt (block pattern: Our Village Green) and figuring out the yardage. I have no idea if my yardage calculations are correct. If I run out of fabric or have too much left over, they weren't.

This is the fabric:

The ocean scenes will be cut into 6-inch squares (plus seam allowance) and will be surrounded by alternating triangles of green and yellow. The striped fabric will be the quilt back and edging. I'm not sure about the green and yellow for the triangles and might end up using different colors.

I spent Sunday trying re-learning the concept of quick cutting and getting my head around the idea that the seam allowance for the points at the longest edge of a triangle is 5/8", even though the seam allowance is 1/4". Therefore, the only cutting that happened was straightening the fabric in preparation for cutting.

I plunged in full force Monday night and created the grid needed for the half-square triangles. How hard is it to create a grid of vertical, horizontal, and diagonal lines? Harder than you'd think. Most of my time was spent staring at the diagram with a perplexed look on my face. So, which way does the grain run? How many squares do I need? How is a fat quarter cut? Do I draw the diagonals on every square or every other square? I left the task unfinished.

Tuesday night produced a completed grid and the sewing machine. I've sewn before. Back in the day, I had no compunction about buying yards of fabric, taking scissors to it, and creating a neo-medieval gown without using a pattern. I can sew, although I don't sew all that well. So I was a bit puzzled when I couldn't remember how to wind the bobbin (read the instruction book), or which presser foot to use. I used presser foot 4 because it was small; I knew that I had a quilting foot that would produce 1/4" seam allowance. I put the foot on, set the stitch type to 4 (you know, to match the number on the foot), moved the needle to the far left position, and pressed down on the accelerator pedal to bring up the bobbin thread.

Imagine my surprise when the needle exploded. I sat there, stunned. I reached for the instruction book. Note to self: Don't use the zipper foot for quilting and don't use the zigzag stitch.

This is going to be an interesting project.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Just Passing Through

Warning! This is a long post!

Whew...what a weekend! San Francisco was gorgeous, Tom ran a great marathon, setting a PR at 4:10:45 (more about that later), and there was even some stash enhancement at Art Fibers.

We spent a lot of our time walking around the city because we didn't have a car. Walking is such a good way to see a city and absorb its essence. It brings the city down to a human scale and makes it possible to notice details that you wouldn't have whizzing through the streets in a car or on a bus. And no, we didn't take any cable cars.

We did, however, go to the Farmers Market on the Embarcadero on Saturday morning. It was spectacular. They were celebrating peaches and there was definitely cause to celebrate. There were so many varieties of peaches and nectarines and plums and they were all good. So juicy and so sweet. I sampled everything I could and was very sad that we couldn't bring anything back.

All the vegetables were gorgeous and everything seemed to be organic. Mushrooms...they had so many different varieties of mushrooms. die for. Cheeses made from raw milk...outstanding. Cured salmon and salmon jerky...delicious. Flowers...gorgeous. That market made me want to pull up the stakes back east and move to San Francisco.

The restaurant options were also outstanding. To say that San Francisco has a lot of restaurants is an understatement. It was hard to choose from all the many restaurants. Friday night we ate at Greens, a vegetarian restaurant located in Ft. Mason. We sat by the window and looked out over the marina and the bay, with a view of the Golden Gate Bridge. As we were waiting for dinner to be served, I noticed this large ungainly fish slowly swimming near the building. I had never seen a fish that large...wait! It's a seal! I saw a real live, non-zoo seal! That was very exciting. Later that evening, it swam back into the marina. I took that to be a good omen for our trip. The food at Greens was delicious; if you have a chance to eat there, please do, even if you aren't a vegetarian. You won't even notice the lack of meat. We had planned to have an early dinner on Saturday in the North Beach district, which is full of small restaurants and cafes. Much to our surprise and dismay, most of the restaurants already had a wait and that was at 6:00! So we ate here instead. Cafe Zoetrope is owned by Francis Ford Coppola. The food was okay, but the building was very cool. Unfortunately, we didn't sight Francis, although there were hints on Sunday afternoon that he might show up. If he did, we missed him.

We were up early on Sunday for the marathon. Tom got up at 3:45; I followed at 4:30. His start time was 5:50. I saw all the runners off

and went back to the hotel for a quick shower. My breakfast plans were thwarted, since the place I wanted to eat didn't open until 10:00, which would be about the time Tom would be crossing the finish line. Since I had a couple of hours to kill, I took some photos, watched the winner cross the finish line (in about the same time it takes me to run a half marathon), and got to knit in public for a bit. Tom was running with the 4:10 pace group and my heart sank when the pace group leader came in, but with no Tom in sight. A few minutes later (which seemed like forever) he came in:

(Click the photo to enlarge it; Tom is in the green shirt, second or third one back.)

As usual, he thought he did terrible. He dropped the pace group around mile 20 or so. Since we didn't have access to the Internet, we couldn't look up his time. My parents came to the rescue later in the afternoon and said that his time was 4:10:45, which was better than he thought (and it was only 45 seconds off his goal time). When we got home last night, he checked the official race results. He wasn't there. He found the unofficial race results and his half time is missing, even though he crossed the half mat with the rest of the pace group. Because of that, it seems that he was disqualified. He ran his best time ever and because of a technical problem, was probably disqualified. He has written to the race director, and I think he should protest. He has witnesses that he crossed the half mat, since he was with the pace group at that time. It's heartbreaking. I feel like he's been robbed. He trained so hard for this race and was so psyched about running it. It seems so unfair.

To celebrate his accomplishment, we had dinner at Town Hall which was recommended by one of Tom's friends. It was within a good walking distance from the hotel, although when we went looking for it on Friday, we went the long way 'round, since we didn't know how the blocks were numbered. The food was excellent, the wine very good, and the dessert? To die for. We shared a butterscotch and chocolate pot de creme. Yum YUM!

Other highlights of the trip include wandering through parts of Chinatown (although the parts we saw on Saturday were touristy), and a trip to Artfibers where I bought a small quantity of Alfabeto (a silk/mohair blend) in color 6. If you buy yarn, they'll interpret your design into a pattern for free. I took advantage of that service, but feel a bit guilty because I should be able to write out my own pattern. It feels like cheating somehow. We'll see how the pattern knits up and if it ends up looking like what I imagined.

We also visited the Hass-Lilienthal House which was a rather long walk from the hotel. The concierge recommended taking a cab, saying it was too far to walk. It was only about 13 blocks. The bonus was that we got to see the non-touristy parts of San Francisco. The house is beautiful and the tour guide was very knowledgeable, given that he is a restoration carpenter and furniture maker. It was interesting to see elements that were similar to our house, although our house is on a much smaller scale. We learned a lot about the local building materials of the era, as well as cost-cutting measures for homebuilding (faux graining on redwood instead of using more expensive white oak, for example). This house was a middle class house, and it puts our middle class houses to shame (not to mention that they had staff; I'd like to have staff). This is an exterior view of the house:

I used to think that I'd like to live in that era, but I suspect that I'd find it too restricting. They didn't have a yard or garden and I don't think I could have been happy not going outside. Of course, if I was raised that way, I probably would have been somewhat content. We'll never know, will we?

The walk back took us through Chinatown again, but this time it was deep into Chinatown, through the residential areas and the non-touristy shops. Of course, we had no idea what anything was because the signs were all in Chinese, but it was fascinating. As we walked past one alley and glanced in, we saw someone practicing being a Chinese dragon. He was wearing the dragon head and weaving it around, opening and closing its eyes and mouth. I didn't get a picture; it seemed somehow wrong. But it was a beautiful thing to watch and the dragon head was so pretty.

It's good to be home although I'm definitely wanting some San Francisco weather. The high temperature for the weekend was on Sunday, when I think it got into the 70s. All the rest of the time, it was in the 60s, which was a little chilly, but refreshing. And now that we're back, we're facing temps of close to 100, with the heat index much higher than that.

Tomorrow we head down to the Outer Banks. Given that the weather there is just as hot here, I don't think I'll be getting a lot of beach time. Way too hot. My little tootsies will be scorched walking down to the beach.

One Skein
I sent the second package off to my secret pal. This is what it contained:

A skein of Douceur et Soie, some local honey, some handmade paper (not by me), and a few beaded stitch markers. My pal said that she loves knitting with Douceur et Soie, but has not seen the periwinkle color before. I'm still enjoying doing this exchange. It's fun to try to figure out what my pal's likes and dislikes are and then find the appropriate items. I'd really like to spin some yarn for her, but my spinning isn't good enough yet.

Knitting Progress
The second Trekking sock is almost done. I finished turning the heel on the flight back yesterday and while it isn't going to be finished today (the end of the knit along), it's close. No more progress on the Rasta Colors hat, although that will be a beach trip project and the scarf for my pal is getting longer. I'm still not happy with the edges, but it's probably too late now. Because it's essentially stockinette stitch, the edges are curling in. Maybe I'll have enough yarn to do a small crocheted edging. I like the lace pattern; I just don't like the edge. It's clearly a novice's lace project.

Well, that's about it for now. This post turned out to be longer than I expected. A bit long-winded, actually.

Next time, a Stitches East class preview. I registered by 1:00 on the opening day of registration and I got my third choice for Thursday afternoon and my second choice for Friday. But regardless, it should still be good.

Time to do more laundry! Have a great week and stay cool, wherever you are!