Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Week in Review

It was a bit of a rough week. Work continues to be extremely busy, which is good for preventing boredom, but not so good for getting home before 8:00 in the evening (to be fair, I normally get to work between 9:30 and 10:00; flex gotta love 'em!). By the time I eat dinner, it's 9:30, which is too late to start knitting (because a) either I won't want to stop or b) I'm tired and I'll make stupid mistakes and have to redo it all). So when I go to bed, I've been curling up with Elizabeth Zimmermann or, most recently, Rachael Herron.

The other thing that made this week particularly difficult was that Bosco developed some sort of urinary tract problem and that had us extremely worried. A couple of weeks ago I took him in to get a distemper vaccine, but even then was noticing that he was constantly in and out of the litter box without much, if any, "output." He seemed to be fine otherwise. The vet prescribed a homeopathic remedy (sulfur), which we didn't need. Bosco seemed fine.

Last week, however, the litter box behavior started again, but this time Bosco definitely was not feeling well. Over the course of the week, his energy level and appetite decreased. We took him to the vet a couple of times and he was diagnosed with crystals in his urine, which is not a good thing. The vet prescribed another homeopathic remedy (thuja) and he needed three doses before it seemed to help. In the meantime, we were petrified that he'd become blocked and would need emergency surgery, especially when he seemed to get much worse towards the end of the week.

Fortunately, he seems to have made a full recovery, although he still isn't producing much "output." But at least he doesn't seem to be in pain anymore and isn't in the litter box five or six times per hour.

Knitting and Renovation Progress
Move along, nothing to see here.

Running Progress
Because of work, I haven't had the energy to get up at 5:30 in the morning and run during the week. This is bad because those morning weekday runs help add to the mileage base. I have been able to get out on weekends to run, though, and at least am getting my long runs in. I ran just over six miles yesterday (in the rain) and 14 miles today (in the rain). (Tom, on the other hand, ran a 50K in the mountains (in the rain) yesterday where the creek crossings were waist-high. And cold from snow melt. With a fast current. Comparatively speaking, my runs were a walk in the park.)

I'm going to try to run 18 miles next weekend. I'll feel better if I can get up to 22 miles before Boston. And despite its cachet, Boston is going to end up being a slow training run. I will not finish in a blaze of glory. I'll most likely be crawling over the finish line.

On the Nightstand: How to Knit a Love Song
Long, long ago and in a galaxy far, far away... I used to read "gothic" romances written by the likes of Daphne du Maurier, Dorothy Eden, and Mary Stewart and found them thrilling (in more ways than one). Then I discovered science fiction and other genres and pretty much gave up reading (most) romance novels (I don't believe I've ever read a Harlequin romance).

So when Rachael Herron announced that her first book (a romance) was being published, I decided to buy it. And I'm not sorry that I did.

How to Knit a Love Song is a delightful book. All the elements are there: a smart, beautiful knitting heroine, a handsome hero (although he doesn't come off that way in the beginning), a truly slimy villain, a (somewhat) contested will, fleece-bearing animals, and a dog. Oh, and very well-written "steamy" scenes (it wouldn't be a romance book without those!) The characters are well-developed; the book fast-paced (although somewhat too fast-paced; I found myself wondering how we got to where we were. Perhaps I was reading too fast.). What really drew me in was Abigail's inheritance: a cottage filled with yarn and wool and spinning wheels. I wanted to be there now. Pure bliss! As a bonus, there's a sweater pattern at the end; you can see the finished sweater here. This book will be a great beach read.

Of Birds and Hatchlings
So, apparently this site is flying through the interwebs at...well...internet speed. I would also recommend the eagle cam from Norfolk Botanical Gardens. There's an infrared camera so you can see the eagles at night. This year, the pair had three eaglets. While relatively rare among eagles, it's common for this pair. Last year, another female tried to get in on the action and the first clutch didn't hatch. The second clutch did hatch, but the eaglets had some problems. Hopefully this year, the three eaglets will do better.

Happy knitting (and birding)!

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Life Moves On

I'm always sad to see the Olympics end, perhaps because it's the end of a bringing together. It seems that for 17 days, the people of the world are joined together, holding their collective breath as the athletes rocket at incredible speeds down steep hills, narrow tracks, or around tiny skating rinks. They gasp as one (barring time zone differences) as figure skaters jump and twirl and lift, as hockey teams shoot and defend goals. They rejoice as their nation wins medals, but they also rejoice in other nations' victories.

The winter Olympics are my favorite Olympics. They are much smaller than the summer Olympics. And when I started thinking about it, a number of the athletes only have a brief period during the year when they practice, say, skiing or snowboarding. That's pretty incredible. The summer athletes can practice year 'round.

And now this special time is over for another four years. And with it, the Knitting Olympics. This year I medaled, and am thinking that I set the bar too low. But I did what I set out to do and learned a lot in the process. It helped that I was reading a lot of Elizabeth Zimmermann during this time. She provided the guidelines for my mitten design and helped me overcome the fear of knitting without a written pattern. And it was fun! I could do what I wanted and did it with thought, instead of blindly following instructions and not understanding why the designer did "x." If I didn't like the way a part of the mitten was knitting up, I simply unknit it and tried something else. Freedom!

And that got me thinking (and that's not always a good thing)...

I've started contemplating knitting a (dare I say it?) sweater. Like a certain Sheep we know, I too am cursed when it comes to sweater knitting. There must be at least a half-dozen or so laying about the house (well, tucked at the bottom of baskets and boxes actually). There comes a point during the knitting when I just can't go on. I misread the instructions and can't fix the problem. Or I run out of steam. Or worse, the instructions are wrong and I don't figure it out until I've lost all love for the sweater. It's a travesty, really, because I love sweaters and I dream of swathing myself in lovely handknit sweaters during the cold winter months and the chilly spring and fall, and wearing lovely, drapey shells in summer.

So, after I finish the second mitten (just in time for Spring!), I'm going to plan a sweater. I've been reading Knitting in the Old Way as well as EZ. And it's beginning to make sense. The plan is to buy a little wool (or go stash diving) and knit a tiny sweater, maybe doll size, so I can get a handle on the techniques and the (gulp) math. Then scale up for me. And maybe, just maybe, by the time the winter snows are blowing next year, I'll have me a gorgeous sweater!

Running Progress
I am so in trouble for the Boston Marathon. Fortunately, my foot is really almost healed and I've started running again. But now I've got only six weeks to train. My longest run has been about 12 miles, and the long run seems to be the only run I can muster. And those runs are not pretty. I feel like I'm waddling, not running, and by the end, my legs are weak. My goal is to complete a 22-mile run by the end of March. There will be no taper; Boston is going to be a slow training run.

May the running gods have mercy upon me.

Renovation Progress
I managed to get one length of baseboard scraped down to the base paint layer. The sad part is that the baseboard will be hidden by shelves. I'm seriously considering giving up this particular endeavor and move on to painting the ceiling, then the walls. If I don't, my room won't be done until this time next year. And that's too late.

On the Nightstand
I came home yesterday to find a package from Amazon. Inside was Rachael's book, How to Knit a Love Song. It's a very enjoyable read...enchanting, really. I mean, how can you not be enchanted when someone inherits a cottage full of spinning wheels and wool? I'll write a longer review when after I finish it.

So, Rachael, if you are reading this, you're sharing my nightstand with EZ!

Happy knitting!

P.S. We still have snow in our backyard. I think we've had almost a solid month with snow on the ground. Truly an unprecedented event!