Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy Holidays!

Here chez Knitting Libran we've just finished our annual Christmas Eve dinner and are preparing for the big day tomorrow. The haul is going to be slightly smaller than usual, given the economy and all, and the fact that neither of us feel secure in our jobs (but that's life in the software world, eh?). I still have to wrap presents and am considering the most expedient way. Would be presenting the gift in a grocery bag be too gauche? Yeah, I thought so. Sigh...

So, dinner tonight was a spiced roast pork, potato zucchini pancake, and a panettone bread pudding, courtesy of Giada de Laurentis and the Food Network. Unfortunately, I overcooked the pork (but the recipe is delicious). The potato pancake was an abject failure (but has potential with a couple of modifications), and the bread pudding was divine (but isn't that the way it always is with dessert?). Tom opened our bottle of 2005 Bogle Phantom, which was very tasty and complimented everything nicely, including dessert.

We're going to do a Christmas Day run tomorrow morning, open our presents to each other, and then drive down to my parents' house to continue the celebration. Then on Saturday, we're going up to visit Tom's mom and with any luck, most of the famiily will be there. It's going to be a busy weekend.

Running News
I've officially hit the 1000 mile mark for the year. Woo hoo! Somehow I still don't think of myself as a "runner." Although I guess if I'm running ultra marathons and logging that kind of mileage for the year, I really am a runner. I've set my goals for next year. They include a couple of 50Ks, maybe another 50-miler, and qualifying for the Boston Marathon. I think the last goal is going to be a stretch. I'm at the point where running that pace for five or six miles is somewhat comfortable, but don't know if I can keep it up for 26.2. We'll see...

Knitting and Spinning News
I'm still knitting, although I've pared my projects down to only one at a time, which is another pair of socks for Tom. The Tibetan socks are done, as are the Gumdrop socks (but I think I might have told you that). I'll eventually post pictures.

I've got a special, non-sock project in mind for the winter. It's a cardigan-like thing designed by Jane Slicer-Smith. It seems simple enough, but I'm suspicious. And I'm beginning to question my color choices. Oh and learn.

And can you believe it? There has been absolutely no spinning! It's shocking, I tell you, shocking! I love to spin, but between work, running, housework, and knitting, there's precious little time (that's also why this blog is so infrequently updated). One of my resolutions for 2009 is to try to spin 10 minutes every day (and practice yoga, and meditate, and...).

Happy Holidays!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

JFK 50 Mile--Done!

Yesterday was the day...the day that the JFK 50 Mile race took place, auspiciously on the actual anniversary of JFK's assasination. This is the race that I've been training for over the last 11 months. Months of running four days a week, with the speed gradually getting faster and the distance longer. I picked up trail running as well. And yesterday all the months of training paid off (sort of).

Tom and I drove up to Hagerstown Friday afternoon to pick up our race packets, grab an early dinner (and a couple of beers for Tom; I stuck to club soda with lime), and an early bedtime (before 7 p.m.!). We set the alarms for 3 a.m., since my starting time was 5:00. And that came too fast, let me tell you.

After getting up, taking a quick shower, and eating a sweet potato with maple syrup, we headed to Boonsboro High School for the pre-race briefing. At 4:35, the race director herded us to downtown Boonsboro to the starting line. The temperature on the local bank sign read 19 (it could have been much worse; the forecast the day before was for lower morning temperatures and one to two inches of snow on the ground). It was brisk, let me tell you, despite the three shirts, light jacket, singlet with the race number on it, neck gaiter, ear band, glove liners, and wool mitten (not hand knit), and running shorts covered by long running pants (I'm such a fashion icon).

At 5:00 sharp the gun went off and the adventure started. We ran up (literally) to Old South Mountain Inn, where we picked up the Appalachian Trail. It was a little difficult to run the trail in the dark (rocks and roots hiding under leaves), but I ran where I could. I walked the steep sections and ran where I could until the sun came up (it was a beautful sunrise, by the way) and then ran as much as I could. I was feeling great, my footing was sure and light, and I was having a great time. I made it to the Gathland aid station (mile 9.2) in just over 2 hours. Marcia (my crew) was there, and I grabbed some potatoes and headed out. The second section of the trail went well as well and when I came into Weverton, someone said there was only one other woman ahead of me. Wow! Second place woman...that's something that I never see.

After Weverton (and changing shoes and socks and removing a shirt), the course picks up the C&O Canal towpath and follows it for about 26.2 miles. Even though the towpath is a flat, soft surface, I found this section to be the most difficult section to run. It's repetitive and I couldn't quite get into the running groove. I was still moving well, but after some time of running by myself, I started to lose energy (I suspect that I wasn't drinking enough; it was also still pretty cold). At some point, I lost my temporary running buddies and was running solo. Bad news...there wasn't anyone to push me, so I started walking more and more. At some point, Marcia said that Mike M. had called. I asked how he was doing and she said he was at home, having coffee. Ah well... At the next aid station, Marcia said that Mike would run with me starting at Antietam. I was a little confused, because I thought she was refering to Mike C., who was supposed to be running with Tom. So I was pleasantly surprised when Mike M. pops up at Antietam and starts running with me. It was so nice to have company and he kept me going, making sure that I was drinking enough and taking in enough electrolytes (I was still sweating even though it was freakin' freezing).

At some point, Sarah passed us, wearing her kneepads on her arms and legs (she's afraid of falling on the trail) and saying that she felt horrible. We blinked, and she was gone (almost literally; she was moving fast, despite having run a marathon the previous weekend). Mike and I kept plodding along. Aid station to station. Relentless forward progress (although it was slow relentless forward progress). At long last, the towpath ended and we got on the road (at mile 41.8, I think).

At that point, I kind of knew I had it in the bag (sort of, barring something disastrous happening, like getting hit by a car). There were signs counting down the miles. 8, 7, 6, 5...and at each one, Mike would say "There's less than n miles to go." Or "This is the length of our weekday runs." At the bend in the road (44.2 miles?), Tom caught up with me. He wasn't having a good day, but it was nice to see him. Jill snapped a picture of us (my smile looked more like a grimace) and we pushed onward.

The sun was beginning to go down and it was a bit breezy. I was so very cold. Those little handwarmer packets did wonders but they weren't enough to warm me up. I kept plodding along, mostly walking because at this time, my right leg was not working so well. Every so often, there'd be a shooting pain in my groin and my leg would feel like it wanted give out. We'd jog a little bit, my knee would hurt, and I'd walk. I stretched when it got too bad, which helped some, but not enough. I looked longingly at the houses we passed, thinking that the inhabitants were warm, having a hot dinner, with a warm bed awaiting them. I wondered if I could run while sleeping (I actually tried running with my eyes closed on the towpath; it didn't work so well).

Then the mile markers read 4, then 3, then 2, then 1. I think I might have run the last half mile to the finish line. Mike ran ahead to let the others know that I was coming in. As I approached the finish chute, people were yelling "Go, Teri!" One woman jumped in and ran beside me. I recognized her face and voice and it finally dawned on me that it was Christy. Then I was in the chute and across the line. One woman put the medal around my neck, someone pulled the name information off the race bib, and another woman took my number.

And it was over. I walked away, found Tom, and fell into his arms, totally exhausted and freezing. I think I sobbed a bit.

Eleven months of training and in 12 hours, 22 minutes, and 18 seconds, it was all over. I accomplished my goal of running 50 miles in my 50th year. I couldn't have done it without the support of Tom, my family, and everyone in the running club. They encouraged me, believed in me, and made me believe in myself.

It's been an incredible journey. Thanks to everyone who made it possible. I love you all.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Hobnobbing with Politicians

Now I'm not someone who typically hangs around with politicians. I usually try to stay away. But for some reason, I'm totally engaged with politics this election season. Note that I'm also ready for it to be totally over (two years is a bit too mouch). But when I found out yesterday that one of the presidential candidates was holding a rally less than a mile from my house, I just had to go. I've never attended a political rally and it doesn't get much better than being able to walk to it.

The "gates" opened at 3:00 and the speechifyin' was supposed to start at 5:30. Tom and I walked down to the eventat 3:00 and spent the next hour and a half standing in line. There were a lot of people there (traffic started picking up in town around 1:00). I made two large tactical errors: I didn't bring any knitting and I didn't have any snacks.

So we waited and waited and eventually the line began snaking towards the security area. Before too long (relatively speaking) we were in. Surprisingly enough, we found several people we knew. The speechifyin' started right on time. One of the candidates for Senate talked, then the governor of our fair state, and finally the candidate himself.

What can I say? He made the usual stump speech, appropriately substituting "Virginians" for "Ohioans" or "Floridians." He talked about taxes, the economy, health insurance, and a little bit about foreign policy. The crowd was appreciative, but not nearly as fired up as I thought they'd be. But then again, given that both Tom and I go out of our way to avoid crowds, we positioned ourselves far away from where the action was happening.

The people were interesting to watch and everyone seemed to be happy and open to possibilities (unlike some of what I've read about the opponent's rallies). I did take pictures, but the candidate is just a little tiny spot. As the rally went on, it became more and more difficult to take pictures; my fingers were so numb with the cold (hmmm...if my candidate loses, maybe Canada is not the best country to which to flee).

Was I galvanized to action? No. I think I'm too much of a cynic. Was my choice reinforced? Yes; the candidate didn't do or say anything that I thought was reprehensible (not exactly a ringing endorsement but nonetheless I think he stands head and shoulders above his opponent). Will I vote on November 4th? Absolutely.

After the rally was over, we walked back home. It was kind of cool to see thousands of people walking down the middle of the street, chanting the candidate's name. It was particularly cool because that end of the street has pretty much declared for the opposition. And even more cool, the candidate's motorcade drove right by my house a little later! So, if said candidate is elected, I've got pictures of him before he was president and I can say he drove by my house.

That and $3.50 will get me a latte.

No matter what, be sure you vote on November 4. Even if you are voting for the opponent.

(This is not a paid political ad.)

P.S. It's a very good thing I decided to work from home today. Our street (which is a main thoroughfare through town) was gridlocked in both directions until about 8:00 this evening. I would have been so angry not to have been able to get to my house.

Sunday, October 19, 2008


Wow...once again it's been ages since I've updated this blog. A lot has been going on. I've written blog entries in my head (and let me tell you, they were brilliant!) but I never had a computer available. Ah well...

So...I've been running and knitting (I needed something to do during the presidential debates). These are both very good things.

At the end of September, I ran the Great Eastern Endurance Run 50K. Actually, it was 50K plus 1.5 miles, with 8,800 feet of elevation gain. I was a bit worried going into this run. How would I do? Will my fueling strategy work? Will I finish? Will I survive?

I finished, and believe it or not, I had a blast, which surprised me, given that two out of three of the marathons I've run weren't a lot of fun. Race day started early (the alarm went off at 3:30 a.m.) and at 4:00, I was staring out the hotel window watching the rain come down in buckets. This was not the way I wanted to run my first ultra marathon and I added an hour to my projected finish time (fortunately, by the time the race started, the rain had dwindled to a mere drizzle). At 6:00 a.m., the figurative gun went off and approximately 200 runners (for the 50K and 100K) started their journey through the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. I ran the first seven miles with another runner from our running club, but she left me at the first aid station (she's fast). The first section is allegedly the most technical part of the run (by "technical," they mean "very rocky" and "steep") and it wasn't long after we turned off the road onto the Blue Loop Trail that we started walking. (It was steep. And dark.) We turned onto the Torrey Ridge Trail and the trail leveled off. It also was much more rocky. This is the very same trail where I fell during a training run in June, incurring a bruise the size of a grapefruit (I still have the scar). Fortunately, I managed to stay upright and made it to the first aid station without incident. I ditched the headlamp, changed to a short-sleeve shirt, ate some boiled potatoes and continued on. The next section of trail was gorgeous, and took us past a waterfall (and through a stream). My foot slipped on a rock on a downhill section, but I managed to stay upright (if I hadn't, I would have fallen backwards onto a rock, which would have been very bad).

The second aid station presaged the start of a section that I knew would be very difficult psychologically. This section of the race included 2.5 miles on the Blue Ridge Parkway, followed by 4.5 miles down a gravel road. And by down, I mean down. Four and a half miles downhill. That's some good running. The problem is that you have to turn around and come back up the selfsame hill and run the same section of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Fortunately, I met Bob early during that section and we ran together (along with Dolores) for the rest of race. I had company and someone to pull me along. And that made all the difference in the world.

We quickly passed through the third aid station (where I ate more boiled potatoes) and headed back up the falls trail to Slacks Overlook (also known as Camp Marty, which was the first aid station). After ingesting more boiled potatoes, we started up to Bald Mountain Summit. This section of trail runs a close second to being as technical as the first section. At one point, we came to what looked like a rock fall. It was brutal. We eventually made it up to the Bald Mountain Summit aid station (25.4 miles), where I ate (you guessed it) boiled potatoes (are you beginning to detect a theme here?). This time I added a side of chicken soup (Campbell's soup never tasted so good!). We turned around and headed back the way we came and back to Slacks, where the heavens opened up and graced us with rain. At this point I knew that I would finish and I would finish well. According to the nice folks at the aid station, it was only three or so miles to the finish. They were wrong. It was more like 4.8 miles. We ran and walked and walked and ran and finally we reached the road, which wound down to the finish area. Finally we were in the finish chute and Bob, Dolores, and I crossed the finish line in 8:01:41, well within my original estimated time.

Tom also ran and finished in 6:45 and was 25th overall. Two of the women from our running club placed first in their respective age groups. And the club's lone competitor in the 100K placed first overall, setting a new course record.

It was an amazing day. I did something that I never thought I would do. I ran well and ran strong (relatively speaking). And more importantly, I had fun. And it doesn't get much better than that.

Other Happenings
Last week was an interesting week. I celebrated a milestone birthday (I can no longer claim to be forty-something). I was just about to post a rather philosophical entry about reaching a half-century when a close friend sent me a text message telling me that her sister was just diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer (it's rather ironic that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month). My intended post at the point seemed too frivolous. I know too many people who have either had breast cancer or who have been touched with it in some way.

Knitting News
I finally finished the Gumdrop socks (but not in time for GEER). They turned out well. The stitch pattern (combined with the hours that I spend on the computer at work) was a little rough on my wrists. The Socks That Rock yarn was a dream to knit with. And the socks are a pleasure to wear. They are warm and soft. Yummy!

I spent this weekend at the Hunt Country Yarns PJ Party. The weekend started Friday afternoon with everyone gathering to knit through the afternoon and evening. The room was buzzing with speculation as to who the guest speaker would be. Alas, Bob and his wife Valerie refused to cave despite the sliest of questions. We'd just have to wait until Saturday morning to find out.

I walked into the breakfast room Saturday morning and there he was: Barry Klein of Trendsetter Yarns. The rest of the day was spent swatching a variety of Trendsetter yarns. Barry showed us how to use stitch patterns and color for dramatic effect. It was a blast, although quite a few knitters found the process to be rather intense. Fortunately, the 35 pounds of chocolate (for 40 people) that Bob provided helped take the edge off. The day closed with Bob giving away a variety of door prizes.

I took a variety of projects with me: a shawl that I started several years ago, a more recent shawl, as well as three sock projects. I wasn't very organized with my packing and forgot the Monkey sock pattern, couldn't find the stitch counts for the socks that I wanted to make for Tom and didn't have the correct needle size for my socks. That meant that I could concentrate on the old shawl. I'm happy to say that I've finished all but three rows, which I hope to finish this evening.

Next Up
What's next? More running, of course. The JFK 50 Miler is just over a month away. I've got a couple of more long runs and then it's time. Fortunately the course is much easier than GEER, but it's 17.5 miles longer. It's been said that your body will go the distance that you need it it to. I'm hoping that will be the case. But when you come right down to it, it's just a long day in the woods with friends.

I've got another pair of socks in mind for post-JFK, but I'm not optimistic. I suspect that the Gumdrop socks will end up on my feet instead. And my feet will be very, very happy (especially when they stop running).

That's it for now. Until next time!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Doing What You Can With What You've Got

I can't believe it's been over a month since I last posted. Time flies when you spend all of your waking moments running, working, and knitting. I can't even remember what's transpired in the last month.

Let's see...oh, yeah...the Ravelympics. Results? I failed miserably, not even completing one sock of a pair. If I participate in this type of event again, I'm going for half a pair of something. Given the time that I don't have for knitting, I think that's fair.

That said, one Gumdrop sock is complete and I've only got one or two more pattern repeats before I finish the leg on the second one. And you know what? Garter stitch short row heels and toes are very cool. Why? No pesky wraps to pick up! I'm really enjoying knitting with Socks that Rock (yes, this is my first time) and I love the one finished sock. I need to hurry up and finish the second sock because GEER is only two weeks away. Yikes!

Sometime this year, and actually rather accidently, I started running fast. Well, I'm not that fast, but I sped up quite a bit on shorter runs (5-9 miles) and on good days consistently run a sub-9 minute per mile pace. So I was very interested in seeing what I could do at the Virginia Happy Trails Running Club Women's Trail Half Marathon. It was my first trail race as well as my first race since the spring. The race started at 8:30 and by then, the temperature was well into the 70s with about 80 bazillion percent humidity (I exaggerate, but not by much). Those two factors did not bode well for running fast.

After a rousing rendition of "Happy Trails" by the men of the VHTRC, we were off. The first seven miles or so of trail has some nice downhills with some gradual uphills and then it gets interesting because the trail winds its way through some very steep (but thankfully short) ravines. We then head back towards the start area and off into the woods again, where the trail is a bit wider and the hills not so steep. They are, however, more sustained.

I let my enthusiasm get the better of me and I ran the first part of the race a little too fast. I slowed down a little bit on the second half, mostly due to the siren call of potato chips at one of the aid stations. Yum! I was definitely flagging on the way to the finish (note to self: don't eat so many potato chips) but finished well, at 2:25:09. I didn't set a personal record, but I wasn't that far off, only by about three minutes on a more difficult course on a hot, humid day. I placed 7th in my age group and 60th overall, which is pretty exiting (I'm usually closer to the bottom). I'm pleased.

GEER, though, has me worried. It's 32.5 miles and it's very hilly and very rocky and probably not the best choice for a first ultra marathon. I have to keep reminding myself that I'll do the best I can that day, no matter how long it takes me. There's an article in the current issue of Ultra Running magazine written by a runner who did not finish running the Hardrock 100. He said "I had done what I could with what I had to work with..." He completed 85 miles before dropping (out of the race, that is; not literally dropping).

And that certainly puts things in perspective...with running, with work, with knitting, with life. You do what you can with what you've got and you learn from the experience. GEER is going to be a preview of sorts for the JFK 50 Mile race, although in some ways it will be harder (especially if it's hot and humid). It's going to test the limits of my endurance (can I really navigate 8800 feet of elevation gain without dying?) and will let me know if I've trained enough. It will show me how well I'm fueling and hydrating (or not) for very long runs. And at the end, I'll have had a very long day in the woods with my friends. And you know, it doesn't get much better than that.

Well, now, this post certainly took a rather introspect turn. And speaking of turning, it's about that time when I turn into a pumpkin.

Happy trails to you!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

It's All Good in the 'Hood

It's been a rather fun week, one that was filled with surprises. Where to start?

Last week, Susan from Y2Knit sent me an email asking if I would like to do a podcast for their ECOnnection program. How cool is that? Today was the day for the interview and it should be up on the ECOnnection blog in about a month or so. I just hope I don't sound too dorky.

Then, on Friday I received an email from Sheri at The Loopy Ewe letting me know that I was one of the lucky winners of her most recent contest. And lucky I am! The prize package includes one skein of Wollmeise, one skein of yarn from another one of their indie dyers, one Loopy Red Canvas Sock Bag, one sock pattern, and a Loopy Ewe pin. I've heard such good things about Wollmeise yarn, as well as the yarn from the indies. I can't wait to receive my prize package and dive into it!

But the diving has to wait because I'm furiously knitting away on the Gumdrop socks for the sockput event in the Ravelympics. I managed to cast on during the opening ceremonies (Beijing time, no less), only to have it be a false start. Even though I counted 70 stitches in the cast on a couple of times, I found that there were only 68 when I completed rnd 1. I managed to get it right the second time. I've finished the first repeat of the gumdrop transition pattern (16 rows) and need to repeat that at least one more time. The pattern isn't as difficult as I thought it would be, but it does require a bit ofconcentration. The sock looks pretty good at this point and I love the Socks That Rock yarn. Very smooth and smooshy. If I can finish them, they'll be perfect socks for wearing after my ultra marathon next month.

Speaking of which, my training is still going well. I completed a 14-mile run on the Appalachian Trail today. It was very challenging. The section of trail that we ran is known as The Roller Coaster; there were lots of steep hills and switchbacks. Add to that lots of rocks and tree roots. Ooof! Which is exactly what I said (okay, well maybe not exactly) when I tripped and became one with the trail. My elbow is nicely scraped and I managed to scrape my ribs as well. This damage is not as bad as the last fall I took, which left me with a lump the size of a grapefruit on my quad and bruised from hip to knee. That was about a month ago and I'm still sporting the bruise!

I think part of what made this run so hard was that I didn't take enough water with me. I had one 20-oz. bottle and figured that it was only 14 miles. I didn't count on those miles being as difficult as they were or the run taking four hours to complete. I'm definitely going to have to improve my hydration and fueling, especially if I want to finish the GEER 50K in somewhat good shape. The run today is making me question the wisdom of upgrading from the half marathon to the 50K. Perhaps I bit off more that I can chew. Ah, well...isn't that what mid-life crises are for?

That's all for now! Happy knitting!

Saturday, August 02, 2008

What Was I Thinking?!

Now I've gone and done it. You'd think that I'd have learned from past experience, but nooooooo. I let myself get caught up in the heat of the moment and didn't think about the consequences of my actions. But now I'm committed and there's nothing left to do but train and do the best I can.

And no, I'm not talking about signing up to run a 100-mile race. That would be sheer stupidity at this point.

I'm talking about the Ravelympics. What with work and running and stuff, it's been months since I've logged on to Ravelry. I finally logged on today and saw the announcement about the Ravelympics. "Gee, that sounds like a lot of fun," thought I. "And I know just what I want to knit! It will be a stretch, but if I work really hard, I should be able to finish the project in 17 days."

Hahahahahahaha! I crack myself up. When I participated in the Knitting Olympics a couple of years ago, I managed to finish only one Norwegian mitten. Of course, I had never knit a Norwegian mitten before and I don't think I had ever done any stranded colorwork. Clearly I hadn't trained well for the event.

So what in the world made me think that I could complete a pair of socks in 17 days? Especially socks that have a 9-page pattern (and two charts). Even a pair of simple stockinette socks take me months to finish. Add to that the need to continue running long on weekends (that easily shoots half a day) and a major upgrade project at work that has me working long hours. And the fact that I don't do well on knitalongs (although this isn't technically a knitalong, but it's the same concept).

I suppose I could withdraw, citing dopiness. But I'm rather enamored of the sock pattern I chose (Gumdrop Socks, from the most recent Rockin' Sock Club offering) and will forge ahead. To save time, I will train swatch, at least so I have an understanding of the stitch pattern. There's a slight problem, though. I promised myself that before I started knitting this pattern, I needed to finish the Monkey socks. And I'm closing in on that goal, even though I didn't get that much knitting done while we were at the beach. However, I cranked through a great deal of the second sock on the drive home today and have only the foot and toe left. I'm hoping that will go rather quickly. Perhaps I'll have another FO by the end of tomorrow!

If you'll excuse me now, I have a date with a monkey...

Sunday, July 27, 2008


Yesterday was the 2nd Annual Mule Run, in which a few intrepid runners from our running club run through the night in an attempt to cover 100 kilometers (62.4 miles). This year the run started on the C&O Canal towpath at 7:00 pm in Shepherdstown, West Virginia, and continued through the wee hours of morning, ending in Carderock, Maryland sometime mid-morning today. There were 12 runners, plus various people who were willing to give up their sleep to make sure the runners were appropriately watered, fed, and otherwise taken care of. Of the 12 who started, only three finished. To be fair, not all those who started intended to complete the entire distance.

Tom started with the intent go as far as he could. He started out running strong, and continued to run strong all night long. When he came into the aid station at the Edward's Ferry Boat Ramp (at mile 50), he was convinced that our illustrious club president was gaining on him ("I turned around and saw him. He has a blue shirt on."), despite the fact that we told him that Mike was about an hour behind him. Tom was in and out of that aid station quicker than you can say "Jack's a doughnut" and finished the run (which at that point became a race for him) in 13:55.

I ran as well, although I knew that I wasn't up for the full distance. My longest runs have been 22 and 23 miles and I felt that I needed more runs at that distance before attempting something as intense as a 100K. I decided to run to the third aid station, which was 24.6 miles (my training goal is to be able to run 20 miles without feeling totally wiped out). My running partner for the evening wasn't feeling well (and neither was I; the salmon we had for dinner was sitting like a lump in my stomach) so our pace was rather slow. The second leg of the run was about 10 miles and we walked most of it. Kim dropped out after that, so another club member and I continued to Point of Rocks, where I was planning to stop. That would have given me 24.6 miles, the longest distance to date and almost a marathon distance.

I didn't stop, though. I was still feeling pretty good, although a bit tired, and was pretty easily talked into going the next aid stop, about 8 miles away. The problem was that I was now running with two of the fastest women in club. As we headed out, I told them we need to go slow. They agreed, and off we went.

The running could best be described as annoying. The area had been hit with a bad thunderstorm earlier in the evening and the trail was littered with branches (which looked like snakes) and puddles abounded. We would run for 20 yards or so, then have to dodge a puddle. Sometimes the puddle didn't look like a puddle and then we'd run through it, getting our feet wet and shoes muddy (wet feet on a long run are not good). There were a lot of bats out and they were swooping around our heads, catching dinner. The spiders were busy spinning fine cobwebs, which we would run through (fortunately, no spiders were attached). I hate feeling cobwebs on me! When we got a little closer to the aid station, we ran into two of the crew members who came out to run with us the last couple of miles, which seemed to take forever. After we got to the aid station, the crew members said that we kept up a blistering pace, but felt that they couldn't really ask us to slow down. The pace wasn't all that fast, just under a 12 minute mile. However, when you are running in the dark and are tired, it feels much faster!

So, I set out to run 24.6 miles and finished running 33 miles in 7:19, exceeding my goal. My legs aren't that sore (it was a flat course), which means that I've met my goal of being able to go out and run a very long distance and not feel like my legs are trashed. I'm extremely tired, but then that's what happens when the cats get you up at 5:30 in morning and you don't go to bed until 12:30 in the afternoon the next day.

Who knows? Next year I might try to run the 100K!

Knitting Progress
In other finishing news, I have one and a half FOs!

The Tibetan socks, they are done. And, believe it or not, one of the Monkey socks is also done! I was going to post pictures, but I'm too tired to find the camera, set up the shots, take the pictures, download to the laptop, then upload to Blogger (there's got to be an easier way).

There will be plenty of time for knitting next week, since we'll be at the beach with Tom's family. I'm going to rip back the Too Many Choices top and start it over, try to figure out what I did wrong on the easy shawl I'm working on, hopefully finish the second Monkey sock, and possibly start the most recent sock from the Rockin' Sock Club.

That's all for now. It's starting to get dark, which means it's time for bed (even though it's not even 9:00 yet).

Ciao for now!

Sunday, July 06, 2008

C-K Integration RC2*

With the successful implementation of C-K Integration RC1 (essentially the installation phase), it was time to start working on C-K Integration RC2, the actual integration phase. Fortunately, the design and development phase went well and when C-K Integration RC2 moved into the test phase, no major problems were found. As with all new development, there were problems when the two components did not play nice, as we say. The software is self-correcting, though, and as issues arrive, the components seem to be able to fix the problems without much developer intervention.

I'm rather pleased with the way the two felines are getting along. After hearing horror stories about the incoming cat having to be sequestered for weeks and weeks, I was prepared for the worst. We kept him totally sequestered for several days, then put a piece of lattice in the door to his room, so he could see out and Emma could see in. We also let him out of his room for brief periods. Emma was very curious, but wary, about this new critter in the house. Initially she'd growl and hiss at him, but over the last week, the growling and hissing has diminished somewhat.

He (I should probably call him by his name, right?) is a playful little boy. He can play for hours without stopping and then all of sudden he goes to sleep. He likes all of his toys but I think his most favorite toy is Emma. He pounces on her and tries to catch her tail and chases her. She'll play with him, but when she's had enough, she lets him know. She'll growl and smack him on top the head--bapbapbap! He has learned enough to sort of back down when she raises her paw. However, Emma is not the dominant cat. She has lost all of her favorite sleeping places to the little boy. That's very sad.

Despite the occasional spats, they get along well. I'm very pleased with the he has integrated into the household. He's a sweet little boy and is mostly well-behaved. How can you not love a face like this?

And here he is, trying to play with his tail:

He's just so cute! (What's that, you say? What's his name? Oh, right...his name is Bosco.)

Knitting Progress
Sad to say, there's not much knitting going on. Between work (which has become quite busy), running, and the kitten, I haven't had much time to knit, save for a round or two while I was waiting for carry-out at our local Thai-restaurant-in-a-gas-station (which has excellent food, by the way). One Monkey sock is almost done. I'm still working on the toe but it's very close. All of my other projects? Nothing. And for pictures? Nada again. One of these days I'll get around to taking pictures.

That's it for now. Happy knitting!

*Cat-Kitten Integration Release Candidate 2

Saturday, June 21, 2008

He's Home!

I brought home the little kitten on Thursday and he's settling in rather well. He's just a tiny thing, but not at all timid. As soon as he was released from the cat carrier, he started investigating the room where we're keeping him. I tried to feed him, thinking that he'd be starving after his big adventure at the vet. Much to my chagrin, he turned his nose up at the food. That didn't bode well for a raw food diet for him.

I needn't have worried. This kitten chows down in a major way. Purring loudly and kneading his paws (which look a little on the large size), he puts his face in the bowl and doesn't raise it until he's done, slurping happily all the while. He is not a neat eater, though. Food sticks to his whiskers; when he shakes his head, the food bits go flying.

He has also become very bouncy. He runs (and runs smack into furniture) and pounces with abandon on his mice, my hands and feed, the furniture legs... I don't think he's going to be good with yarn, though. He's very interested in playing with shoelaces, so the fiber room is going to be off-limits for a good long while.

I haven't introduced him to Emma yet. She smells him and has seen him from afar but hasn't reacted, other than being a bit subdued. I'll start the face-to-face introduction after I get the all-clear from the vet on Tuesday (I think he has a slight upper respiratory infection).

And again, no pictures of anything. Tom took the new camera to Wyoming where he's running this race today. I managed to get a couple of picture of the kitten on the old camera before the batteries died. He's hard to photograph, though, because he's always on the move.

That's it for now. I've got to make a couple of dishes for a dinner tomorrow night and it's getting late.

Have a great weekend!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

A Surprise

Ha! Two posts in one weekend...can you believe it? But that's not the surprise.

This is.

Yep, that's our new kitty. Or it will be when we finalize the adoption on Wednesday and pick him up on Thursday. His shelter name is Patrick, but I doubt that we'll keep that name. It's too serious of a name for an energetic kitten. It will be interesting trying to introduce him to Emma. And he's so tiny. I'm afraid he'll get lost in our house. I think we're going to have to make the basement off-limits to him until he grows up.

Today we revisited the four-mile section of the Dickey Ridge Trail that finished our 23-mile run a couple of weeks ago. However, we ran it in reverse which meant that we had to run uphill for four miles (about 1000 feet of elevation gain) to the Visitor's Center. Oof. My running was mostly walking, although at times I managed to do the "Haleakala shuffle," walking 10 steps, then running 10 steps. The trip up took about 55 minutes; the return trip took 35 minutes. It was a fun run.

And then on Thursday, Tom takes off for Sheridan, Wyoming to run the Big Horn 50 Miler. However, the race director had to make a last minute change to the course because there's too much snow at the original starting place (like 10 feet of the stuff)! It sounds like the run is going to be full of creek crossings and shoe-sucking mud. Oh what fun!

Nada. No pictures, either. It's a theme.

All for now!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Too Long Gone, or Running, Running, Running...

Well, I have been AWOL for a long time. Sorry 'bout that. Everything is fine. In addition to adjusting to my life as a runner, work has gotten quite busy and the last thing I want to do when I get home at night is to log on to a computer again.

I suspect blogging will be hit and miss for the rest of the year. Weekend mornings (formerly prime blogging time) are spent running long distances and the afternoons are dedicated to chores (or recovering from running long distances) and the evenings are dedicated to eating and sleeping (and maybe knitting if I'm still functional). I will, however, try to update the blog whenever possible. We'll see how that goes. Based on my track record after returning from Belize, I'm not optimistic.

So, Belize. For a preview of some of our pictures, go here. I haven't updated the sailing blog either. Bad, bad Libran!

Yes, there has been knitting. I finished the Tibetan socks, except for the weaving in of the ends. I've reached the toe on the long-neglected Monkey socks. I'm somewhere in the middle of a simple shawl. Nope, no pictures yet. Yes, there will be pictures at some point.

The training has been going well. I'm increasing my mileage and completed a 23-mile trail run a couple of weeks ago. It was a blast! Then the heat and humidity hit us hard (it felt like we went from April straight to August), making running any distance miserable. Nonetheless, with 23 miles behind me, I think I'm well on my way to being able to complete the JFK 50 in November. Registration opens July 1 and that's when I've said I would commit. I'll be committing to a fall marathon as well, most likely Baltimore. Woo hoo!

I don't often participate in one of these, but it sounded like fun. I lifted it from Anne. Here goes:

Here are the rules:
a. Type your answer to each of the questions below into Flickr Search.
b. Using only the first page, pick an image.
c. Copy and paste each of the URLs for the images into the mosaic maker (link below).

1. What is your first name?
2. What is your favorite food?
3. What high school did you go to?
4. What is your favorite color?
5. Who is your celebrity crush?
6. Favorite drink?
7. Dream vacation?
8. Favorite dessert?
9. What you want to be when you grow up?
10. What do you love most in life?
11. One word to describe you.
12. Your flickr name.

My results:

1. Road to Shagai, Teri, 2. Mal loves his broccoli, 3. Downy Woodpecker At Bethel, Muskoka, Ontario, 4. Blue ice cave at the Jostedalsbreen glacier, 5. Alton Brown, 6. Cosmopolitan, 7. 20061212-vs-6536, 8. molta cioccolata tapioca, 9. Old and wise, 10. Life, 11. Quiet*, 12. TLHS1

Use Mosaic Maker to make your own.

All for now...have a great weekend!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

What Happened to Spring?

When I left on our Belize trip, the days were gray and rainy and chilly, with the occasional warm, sunny day tossed in as a teaser. I was looking forward to warm, sunny days on the ocean, and after a few cloudy days on land, that's what I got.

The sailing trip was a stunning success. There were quite a few days when all I did was gaze at the water gliding by, mesmerized by the colors shifting from sapphire blue to turquoise to aquamarine. We did a fair amount of snorkeling (or as Tom put it, we "snorked") and saw a large variety of reef fish and corals. We ate and drank continuously, met interesting people, and returned tanned and relaxed. (Note that I didn't try to get a tan; it just happened, even with 30SPF sunscreen.) As we were flying from Placencia to Belize City to catch a plane back to Miami, the ocean merged seamlessly with the sky.

When we arrived at Dulles (at 12:15 this morning), it was raining and in the 50s. Today has been overcast and in the 50s. Shorts and tank tops and bare feet are but a distant memory. I'm back in jeans, polar fleece, and wool socks. In short, I'm feeling pretty miserable right now and jonesing to be back on a sailboat off the coast of Belize. (Yeah, I know...cry me a river.) Re-entry is tough.

Emma thrived under our friend's care, even though she (Emma, not our friend) remained skittish the entire time we were gone. Emma was hiding in the basement when we came home, but after a few minutes, she came upstairs, meowing like her heart would break. She kept walking on me all night long, reassuring herself that we were home. And at 4:30 this morning, she started touching my face with her paws. So much for the hope that she would have gotten out of the early morning feeding habit.

While on the trip, I managed to get a fair amount of knitting done. The first monkey sock is almost complete, with only the toe left to knit. I've knit the toe, foot, heel, and have started the leg on the second Tibetan sock. And I'm working on the second or third lace repeat on the Sterling Lace shawl. This pattern is a pleasure to knit--challenging enough, but not so much so that you need absolute and total concentration. It's a good introduction to lace knitting.

I'll be updating the trip blog over the next couple of days (or weeks) and will post some choice pictures here as well. That assumes, of course, that I figure out how to get the pictures off the new camera.

That's it for now. I hear a mound of laundry calling me!

Happy knitting!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Sailing Away

Well, not quite yet. We'll be flying away (assuming American Airlines doesn't do something nasty with our flight) very early tomorrow morning. And if there are available computers at the Purple Space Monkey Cafe, you might even find me blogging while away. I won't be updating this blog, but I might be updating the trip blog. But if both blogs are silent, don't worry. It means I couldn't access them.

The knitting projects have been pulled together. I'm taking a simple (ha!) lace shawl, and two socks (the remainder of the Tibetan socks and the Monkey socks). I'm a little anxious that I'll run out of knitting, but seriously...with as slow as I knit, do I really think that I'll be able to finish a 16"x70" shawl and three socks? I also have two books if the knitting seems to be going exceptionally well.

Okay...that's it for now. I'll see you in a couple of weeks. And let's hope that I don't run into any UFOs, pirates, or bears*!

*My irrational fears

Friday, April 04, 2008


Wow...has it really been almost a month since I last posted a blog entry? How time flies! And right now there seems to not be a lot of time.

So what has kept me away from the blog? Knitting? Spinning? Quilting? Cooking? The opening of my yarn shop? Nope, none of those. Give up?

Running. Running has kept me away from the blog. Remember that goal that I set for myself at the end of January? The goal of running a 50-mile race at the end of November? I've stepped up the training a bit. Kicked it up a notch, as it were. Instead of running just on Saturday and Sunday, I'm also running Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Hoo boy...I'm not running particularly fast; I'm just trying to build a good running base.

And therein comes the metamorphosis (two, to be exact). My running has improved (imagine that). I think I'm running better than I ever have. I feel like I'm running from my core, grounded and focused. I feel like I'm running, not just slogging through a run. I look forward to my 6:00 a.m. runs. A side effect is the change in my body. I'm losing weight, losing body fat, and am finally seeing some muscle definition again. I feel like I have emerged from a cocoon. So of course, that makes me want to run even more. It's all very exciting.

The problem with all this running is that I haven't had any time for blogging, since my prime blogging time was in the morning when Tom was running. And I don't feel like blogging at night because I'm at a computer all day. I'll eventually work it out and start blogging again on a semi-regular basis.

Knitting Progress
Despite the running, I have been knitting. One of Tom's Tibetan socks is finished and the second one is on the needles. I'm pretty much focused on this project until I get it finished, despite the siren call of spiffy new projects and yarn. After Tom's socks are done, I'll finish the Monkey socks for me.

And after that?

I don't know. Maybe I'll pick up Counterpoised again and slog through it. Maybe I'll set aside knitting for a while and focusing on spinning up some of the lovely fiber from the Wooly Wonka Exotic Fibers Club. So much fiber, so little time!

Speaking of time, starting next Saturday, I'll have plenty of time for knitting. We'll be sailing around the Belize islands on a 46-foot catamaran for 10 glorious days. Any suggestions as to what project I should take besides the two pairs of socks currently in progress? Heaven forbid that I run out of knitting!

That's all for now. If I've got a bit of time this weekend, I'll post a picture of the Tibetan sock.

Happy knitting!

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Skidding on Asphalt

I'm pretty good about knowing where I am in space. Sure, I rarely occasionally frequently bump into the corners of tables and desks and such, leaving bruises on my hips. But when it comes to staying on my feet, I'm rather talented. Or so I thought, until last night.

We met some friends at our favorite watering hole and due to the popularity of the place, I had to park farther away than usual. It was also raining, so I was a bit miffed as well (I got over it). While we were there, additional friends and acquaintances unexpectedly showed up; it was almost like old times. (Over the past several years, the patrons have shifted from local townsfolk to what we assume to be people from the massive subdivisions that are encroaching on our little town.) I started the evening with a pomegranate Cosmo and then had a glass of wine with a pot full of mussels (in a Thai curry coconut and ginger broth; very yummy). After dinner, we took our leave and headed home.

And that's when it happened.

I'm a fast walker. Unless I'm hiking, I like to get from point A to point B quickly. (This propensity for fast walking drives Tom crazy. He strolls. Unless we're hiking; then he puts his head down and wants to get from point A to point B quickly.) I was walking to my car at my usual fast pace when all of a sudden, one shoe flies off my foot, the other foot seems to stick to the ground, and the remainder of my body has a close encounter with the asphalt, which is wet from the recent rain. Fortunately, I fell in the gutter (no jokes!) because a car was coming up behind me just as I took the dive. I don't seem to be damaged beyond a few scrapes and the injury to my pride.

Feeling the Love
I started a new pair of socks for Tom using the Fortissima Socka pictured on the previous post. Several times, actually. I needed something easy to knit while I was waiting for the dreaded procedures to begin. (They went well, by the way.) I'm using the generic toe-up sock from Wendy Knits, modified to account for Tom's larger foot. I love this sock dearly. When I'm not knitting it, I want to be. When I am knitting it, I don't want to stop (so ripping it back a couple of times because I knit the short rows inside out wasn't a problem). I'm entranced with the way the yarn is self-patterning. And I love the slightly worn look of the yarn. I don't like its splittiness, but I can live with it, because everything else about it is so perfect. It even smells vaguely sheep-like.

Here is the object of my affection:

The other side has maroon and red stripes. Unfortunately, the camera batteries decided to give up the ghost as I was photographing the sock. You'll just have to imagine it.

Now, if you will excuse me, I have to knit the sock.

Monday, March 03, 2008


The Gentleman's Fancy Socks. They are finished!

On the hoof:

Reclining on the bed:

After all was said and done, despite the numerous do-overs on sock the second, these socks were a pleasure to knit. They fit Tom relatively well, although they are a little snug. Personally, I like a snug sock. Tom declared them very comfy and I practically had to wrestle them away from him so they could relax in a nice warm Eucalan bath. I think Tom's next pair of socks will be from this yarn:

It's a nice self-patterning yarn and hopefully the pattern will cause the socks to look like Tibetan socks. Or rather, what we imagine Tibetan socks to look like.

I didn't have too much energy last night for knitting anything complicated, so I started prototyping the Thumbless Jogger's Mittens from Elizabeth Zimmerman's Knitting Around, using some Manos I had left over from a hat. While these mittens continue to charm me (how can you not love a mitten where the top curls around your fingertips?), I am not charmed by the way they are turning out. I think they are sized for a large adult hand (which I definitely don't have) and even though I'm getting something approximating gauge, I don't like the way the single-ply is knitting up. These will be headed straight for the frog pond and I'll try with another type of yarn. Hmmm...maybe a two-ply like the pattern calls for?

Okay, it's time to stop now. I'm beginning to focus on the hungry tummy rumblings (no solid food since Saturday night) and am sure that anything else I write won't be very cohesive.

Happy knitting!

Sunday, March 02, 2008


I lied last weekend when I said I would finish the second Gentleman's Fancy Sock by the end of the weekend. I almost finished the toe, then realized the stitch counts on the needles were off. I unknit and was appalled at number of mistakes I found. There were decreases in the wrong place, decreases partially worked, and several stitches that were just slipped from one needle to the other. However, I was running a fever over the weekend and am sure that it was the fever that caused the plethora of mistakes.

However, it wasn't the fever that caused what happened next. That was sheer stupidity poor judgment on my part.

See, I ran out of yarn. And not by a little bit. By a lot of bit. How the heck could I get a full sock out of the first ball of yarn (with 19 inches left over) and miss the mark so badly with the second ball on the second sock? Because I added an extra 10 rows, that's why. It looked like the foot was too short, so I added an eighth pattern repeat. I spent a good part of the morning frogging the toe; now all I have left to do is rearrange the stitches on the needles and start the toe over again, like for the third time. I swear, this sock is turning into the Never Ending Sock. I'm so close to finishing I can almost taste it.

And today, it will be finished. I'll have plenty of time this afternoon and evening to knit to my heart's content. I'll be prepping for tomorrow's "procedure" and leaving the house is not advisable. I'm on a clear liquid diet for today as well, so there will be no pesky cooking to take up my time. The only wrinkle in my plans is that I have to drink eight ounces of a polyethylene glycol solution every 15 minutes for about three hours. Shudder... That alone could put a stop to my knitting plans.

Yoga Socks
Thanks for all the nice comments on the yoga socks. I gave them to my teacher before class on Saturday and she loved them. She immediately put them on and tested them with some downward dogs, upward dogs, and lunges. She pronounced them eminently usable for yoga. And the best part is they kept her feet warm during class. I suspect there will be at least one more pair of yoga socks in my future.

That's it for now. Remind me not to knit tomorrow. I suspect knitting while recovering from anesthesia is going to be more deleterious than knitting with a fever.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

For the Most Part

I'm back, after a somewhat long absence. The blogging muse took leave of me and a weekend morning schedule change left me with no blogging time. Plus this has been a difficult winter for me, what with the health issues and potential dietary changes. Toss in non-winter weather and that makes for one discombulated Libran.

I'm adjusting, albeit a bit grumpily. My comment during cooking shows that showcase the ingredients I'm supposed to avoid? "Mmmmm....allergens!" Forays into the gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free manufactured food realm have turned up some surprisingly tasty items. The Foods By George brownies are excellent. Their English muffins are acceptable. The Tinkyada brand of pastas is also excellent. Even Tom liked the spaghetti. The various gluten-free, etc. breads are challenging--very dry and crumbly, with a rather slick mouth-feel. The Energ-G brown rice loaf isn't too bad, but it lacks the chewiness of real bread. I'm having two more tests done to confirm the initial diagnosis. It's probably overkill, but I want to be sure that these dietary changes are absolutely necessary before I start modifying the way we eat. If it was just me, it wouldn't be a problem. But I've got a skeptic for a husband (which is good) and a conclusive diagnosis will go a long way to ensure compliance, especially since he does a lot of the cooking.

0-50 in 11
That's my motto for this year. Zero to 50 miles in 11 months! I've started training for the JFK 50, which accounts for the lack of early morning blogging time on weekends now. My longest run so far has been about six miles (which isn't long at all). I was hoping for seven this weekend, but a bout of the flu has me sidelined. My plan is to increase mileage slowly, to keep the ITB problem at bay. There are at least three other women in the club who want to run the JFK 50, and we all run at about the same pace. Having a group will make training so much easier. For some masochistic reason, I'm looking forward to this challenge. Tom can't be the only one in this family to run an ultra marathon!

Knitting Progress
Surprisingly, there has been knitting progress. Not much, to be sure, but it's progress, nonetheless. And the progress has resulted in some FOs. I finished the hat for my friend at the Miami Marathon (to read the trip report, go here). Unfortunately, I don't have a picture of hat, but it fit her perfectly and she says she receives a lot of compliments when she wears it. Also on the FO list is a pair of yoga socks for my yoga teacher.

She was intrigued by the idea and offered to be a guinea pig. I knit them using KnitPicks' Andean Silk. The yarn was a pleasure to work with. The color did run a bit when I washed them, but I don't think it's anything that a little white vinegar rinse can't fix.

On the "Almost an FO" list are the Gentleman's Fancy Socks. I've started the toe on the second sock and am beginning to wonder if I'm going to have enough yarn to finish the project. I had a mere 19 inches left from the first sock. With any luck, I'll have this sock finished today.

What's next on the project list? I'd like to continue working on the Counterpoised Shawl, but will wait until my brain is a little more alert. Somehow lace and a less than alert brain a good combination do not make. I might dig out the Fern Leaf Shawl and try to finish it; it's a fairly simple lace pattern. The Monkey socks will move to the forefront of the sock projects. And then there's a simple tank that I might make for the Belize trip in April, using yarn that I got from ArtFibers in San Francisco a couple of years ago:

It's a wool/mohair/silk blend and is very yummy. On second though, maybe that fiber combination is not the best for a sailing trip in the tropics. Hmmm...

So, lots to do! Time to get started!

Happy knitting!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

That's It!

Dear Winter,

This letter is difficult for me to write. We've always enjoyed a rather rocky relationship, what with my dislike of being cold and all that. However, the stark beauty of the grays and bare tree branches helped me overlook the fact that I was freezing. And then when you unleashed the snow, I was truly in love with you all over again. The pristine white, the muffled sounds...I'd stand for hours and drink it all in. The ice storms that made each surface look like it was encrusted with diamonds...a truly stunning work of art.

But this year, dearest Winter, you have sorely disappointed me. Oh sure, we've had a few days of very cold weather, but I don't count daytime highs in the 40s as "winter weather." And the snow this year? Where's the snow? You've teased and taunted, snowing just enough to make me want more, and then we have temperatures in the 50s or 60s. And this last storm that you threatened us with? That was the best you could do? The barest dusting of snow, followed by a wee bit of ice? Surely you can do better than that!

I've hoped, wished, cajoled, wore my snowflake earrings, all to encourage you. This is hard to say, but if you aren't going hold up your end of the relationship, I want you to pack up your bags and leave. Right now. I'm done with your capriciousness. Let Spring come, with its warmth and soft breezes. Spring will do a better job in this relationship than you.

And Winter? Don't let the door hit you on the way out.

All the best,

Thursday, January 24, 2008


Well! It's been an interesting week in my hometown. Blogging time seems to have gotten away from me, mostly because (get this), I ran this weekend. Can you believe it? And I ran early (prime blogging time) and outside. Let me tell you, it was a bit chilly. I think it was 16 degrees on Sunday. I managed to run about four miles on Saturday and five miles on Sunday. And the best thing? I didn't have any ITB pain. In order to keep me running, Tom challenged me to run the JFK 50 in 2009. He thought it would be cool for me to run a 50-mile race while I'm (cough) 50, except I won't be. I'll have exceeded that age by about a month. I'm not sure that I'll be ready to run the JFK 50 this year. I have 11 months to train, though, so it isn't entirely out of the realm of possibility.

But the thing that totally threw me for a loop was the last set of test results from my doctor. She had some concerns about adrenal fatigue and other vitamin and mineral deficiencies and ran a battery of tests. Her adrenal fatigue suspicion was confirmed as was her concern about other nutritional deficiencies. I'm either deficient or low in just about everything they tested for. And why is that? The answer is truly depressing.

I tested positive for allergies to gluten, casein (dairy), and soy.

Let that sink in for a moment...gluten, dairy, and soy.

That means a lot of foods (like most of the foods I enjoy eating) will need to be eliminated from my diet. So long, macaroni and cheese! Good-bye, pizza! Farewell, bagels! No more butter (sob). No ice cream. No pancakes or waffles. No doughnuts, cakes, pies, cookies, puddings. And Sheep, no more black and white cookies.

Dang. My world has been rocked and not in a good way. The gluten allergy is probably the more serious one, since it could be an indication of celiac disease. And it seems it's the allergy that is the root of the nutritional deficiencies, since a gluten allergy causes malabsorption.

It's a good thing both Tom and I enjoy cooking because we've just been handed a big cooking challenge. We don't rely on packaged foods at all, which is a big benefit. Soy, casein, and gluten are all hidden in even the most simple processed foods. Ah, well.

Knitting Progress
We have flappage on the second Gentleman's Fancy Sock! It looks like changing to a larger needle size did the trick. I'm predicting that within another week or so this project will be finished.

I'll have ample knitting time this weekend. We're flying to Miami (ah, blessed warm weather!) for the Miami Marathon and everyone knows that a plane trip is perfect knitting time. The Monkey socks will be resurrected since I'm using wood needles (I suspect that TSA guys might have problems with the extremely pointy metal needles I'm using for Tom's sock). The hat will also be finished this weekend; the recipient will be in Miami with us and I'll be able to do a fitting.

That's about it for now. Happy knitting!

And hold the cheese.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

My, How Time Flies!

Wow, it's already the 12th of January! How did that happen? Life these days has been a combination of exhausting (stupid thyroid!) and busy, with a trip to visit my family last weekend, as well as various social engagements. For some reason, January and February seem to have a busier social agenda than November and December. Go figure.

The trip to my parents was preceded by a period of extremely low energy, which made thinking and performing other daily activities a bit difficult. This in turn created a bit of anxiety, because I still had to buy and wrap presents for my youngest nephew and nieces. However, Ka-BOOM! once again came to my rescue. They have the best toys (high quality and designed for imaginative play), arranged by age appropriateness, no less. After scoping out the offerings, I made quick call to consult with my mother, and made my purchases. Three gifts for kids aged 2, 5, and 6 bought in less than an hour! It doesn't get any better than that! To give you an idea of how late I was with the gift acquisition, we were on the road an hour and a half later.

Why yes, Procrastination is my middle name. Why do you ask?

We had a very enjoyable, but too brief stay with my parents. Everyone came to dinner and the kids made it high energy. I must say that Carl and Laurie have done an excellent job of raising well-mannered children. Their presents were sitting on the hearth, and not once did they ask anyone about them. They seemed rather surprised, in fact, when we handed them out. Do you know many young children like that?

I was surprised, too, when my sister-in-law Barbara handed me a gift bag. For me? I reached inside and pulled out this:

If you look carefully, you can see that the ball band says Plymouth Yarn Royal Cashmere. I was flabbergasted. Cashmere! This is definitely a yarn that I would not buy for myself. It was a very thoughtful gift. Thanks again, Barbara! I've already started daydreaming about scarf designs.

Knitting Progress
There's been a bit of knitting activity chez Libran and in fact, there's almost a finished object! But before that, there was frogging. The second Gentleman's Fancy Sock bit the dust. Or at least most of it did. I had the brilliant idea of inserting the needles at the point where I wanted to the ripping to stop:

After they were in place, I let 'er rip!

The technique worked almost perfectly. I had to make a few minor adjustments, but it worked! And then I discovered that I didn't have 2.25mm needles. Time find another project to take on the trip to my parents house.

I pulled out my ball of Fibra Natura Heaven to start the hat for my friend Heidi. Given that I didn't have her head measurements and wasn't sure that I was going to have quite enough yarn, I opted for a top-down method and discovered I really like working hats top down. Here's what I have so far, modeled by my trusty iron:

The hat was a little too plain with just stockinette and the standard ribbing seemed to be too dull. I came across the Crystal and Pearl lace pattern in Barbara Walker's A Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns and thought that it would make the perfect edging with just one repeat, followed by 1x1 ribbing on smaller needles. Here's the lace detail:

The best part about top-down hats is that you can try them on as you go. This hat is a bit loose on me and it covers my ears. I had a friend at work try it on, and it was somewhat tight on her and barely covered the tips of her ears. I definitely need to have a fitting session with Heidi before finishing it off. I predict that the hat will be finished this weekend.

The 2.25mm needles finally arrived, and I'm slowly cruising towards the foot of the second sock. I predict the pair will be complete by the end of the month.

Unfortunately the weekend does not promise a lot of knitting time. The herd of dust buffalo needs to be culled and we're spending the day in DC tomorrow, visiting museums, restaurants, and finishing up with a concert at the Kennedy Center.

Have a great weekend!