Sunday, October 30, 2005

Back from ROMA!

Well friends,

We're back. We walked and walked and walked and walked. We both lost visible weight we walked so much while in Rome. That's cool... Not cool? Sweaty. 100% humidity. 2-3 showers per day.

Cool: Roman Pizza -- Not Cool: Black bogies in your nose from riding the metro
Cool: Ancient Roman ruins EVEYRWHERE Not cool: Two hour wait lines to get into the Vatican
Cool: Going to the Vatican at 12:00 when everyone else is having lunch Not Cool: finding that the hall with the sculpture you want to see is only open in the morning.
Cool: Roman fashion Not cool: Being so not in line with Roman fashion
Cool: Roman fashion Not cool: no one wears deodorant
Cool: Climing to the top of Palatine hill to see Cesar Agustus' home (it's not a palace, those who came after him were big on palaces.
Not cool: Waiting too long to eat, not feeling hungry but having a random crying jag for no reason. DH says: "Uh, do we need to get you something more to eat??" "I don't know!!" I wail.

Cool: DH found a really cool yarn shop in Rome "Lana Gatto" which you can get online here but only through 1 or2 distributors and not in nearly the selection. For my darling knitting friends who asked me to take pictures of yarn: Here you go. If I'd been faster I would've gotten the nice lady in the shop waving at you all, but I wasn't fast enough. BTW, "yummy" and "oooohh, alpaca and cashmere" translates in any language cause I made the shop lady laugh.

Earlier that day we were at our hotel and I pulled out my trusty list of Roman Yarn Shops that I'd gotten from Frankly, very few of the shops listed were on streets that were necessarily accessible for a tourist. The congierge lady at our hotel was looking at the socks I was working on and was concerned that I needed to match the yarn I was using for the project. Here's the best part: DH piped up and said "Oh, no, she needs yarn for OTHER projects." Did you catch that? He didn't say "wants", he said "Needs". Cool. So as we were walking along headed in the general direction of the shop listed at (which incidentally isn't there anymore), DH said "Hey, isn't THAT yarn?" Pointing at two very yummy, puffy looking balls of something bulky in the traditional dumpling shape in the window of a shop. "YES!!" "Who do you love??" "You, baby, you!

So, there we were in the shop and I was fingering some fingering weight wool regular wool after picking some cashmere and alpaca for myself. I asked DH if he wanted me to make him some socks (he doesn'tt wear sweaters). He touched wha tI was holding and said "Sure, but I ain't cheap sistah, if you're gonna make me some socks, you better head back over to the other side of the store where you picked yourself some cashmere!" I laughed and back we went. I convinced him that cashmere woudl wear through pretty quickly and and that we should get him a wool blend so he picked a wool / cashmere blend in a yummy burgundy color. Sorry the light in these pic isn't so good, the light in the shop was pretty crappy unless you were under one of the spots. Interestingly, this shop sold ready to wear sweaters, knits and yarn but no needles... hmmm... I wonder where you get needles if you're in Rome?

Ohh!! I forgot to tell you we went to the Vatican and in Honor of the Yarn Harlot, the sock made an appearance with the Vatican Guard! DH was so embarrassed that he had to walk away while I took the picture! I love being a knitting geek. Only thing is I have another pair that I'm planning on that would have matched almost perfectly with their uniforms. Oh well, maybe next time. :)

Anyway, that's probably good for tonight. I'll post more pics tomorrow.

Friday, October 14, 2005

A Bad Day...

A bad day
It all started with a happy day.... as most of you know, I just got married last fall. It was a wonderful and happy day, the first anniversary of which is nigh upon us the 16th of October (that's this Sunday for you non-countin' folk)

Well, I have a passport, albeit a couple of years old, and it's even got a really nice picture in it. See, I was really skinny back when that picture was taken and I'm kind of fond of that passport even though my dieting days made me an insane crazy person (to put it mildly), I'm still fond of the skinny chick in the official govt. picture. i even delude myself into thinking that I still look like that sometimes.

So, back to the topic at hand. I got married last fall and changed--my--name. Yeah. Going to Italy this week and I'd forgotten that my passport was in my maiden name. So, last week, I called the 800# listed on the website to schedule an emergency appointment. They let you do that if you're travelling within 14 days. I called on Monday of last week and the first available appointment was this Wednesday (2 days before my alleged departure...) So, the phone service tells me that all I have to bring is marriage cert, old passport, proof of travel dates and pic id with new name. Check, check, check and CHECK.

Wednesday morning (really I don't procrastinate like this all the time) at 6:30 a.m., when I'm trying to leave for my new job that's only 3 wks old, (my new job who is, incidentally, already not so happy that I'm leaving town for a week and that I have to leave in the middle of the day to go and get my passport updated), I can't find my old passport. Let's say that again shall we? I cannot find my old passport.

Freak out #1: [Commence Internal Wheel Spinning] Oh yeah, new job, photocopies for tax purposes. Maybe it's at work. [end IWS] Hop in car and start speeding off for work. 10 minutes from the house I realize that there's no way it's at the office cause it's in my maiden name so I wouldn't have used it. Too late to turn around. Guess I'll leave work a little earlier than I had planned to go downtown and swing back by the house to search some more.

Freak out #2 Meeting at work, surprise to the new girl on the block, Introductions of new staff to the entire Communications and Marketing Fashionista Team. Yeah, um, I didn't wash my hair this morning.

Freak out #3 Driving home before heading downtown. Told boss that I would be back at work later in the afternoon to finish working the rest of the day. [Re-Commence Internal Wheel Spinning] Maybe it's in my big bag that ... NO! How could I be so irresponsible?!!??! What the hell did you do with it you idiot!??!" [end IWS]

Driving up to the house: Okay, I'll just go inside and check the folder where I normally keep it, one single page at a time. Taa-Daa!!! There it is!! FOUND!! Wave passport at them and they all smile and look Understanding though I KNOW they all think I'm crazy. Don't care, race back out to the car and burn rubber out of the garage in an attempt to get downtown before said 1:00 pm appointment. Blood pressure's up: hot and sweaty. Windows down, hanging head out like a dog in the summer time, tongue lolling in the wind.

Get on the road and head down 294 towards the Kennedy junction. Cruising along just fine despite the inordinate number of mid-day elderly and generally poor driving lunatics on the road. Turn onto the ramp to go to the Kennedy and WHAM! Traffic stops. There are multiple lane closures in the middle of the day due to the installation of new toll lanes!!!! Aaaauuugggghhhh!!! .

S-L-O-W-L-Y progress through the toll lanes despite some jerk-y boy in a big unmarked white van putting his BUMPER ON THE FRONT OF MY CAR SO THAT HE CAN GET IN MY LANE!!!!!

Call dear friend who lives in St. Louis now and gripe to her about what an idiot I am and how stressed out I am. She dutifully tells me that all will be okay and proceeds to talk me through the remainder of my trip downtown. God bless her. [Still over heated and "glistening", God I'm so happy I quit dieting so that I can be over heated in 50 FRIGGING degrees!] {breathe}

Make it downtown with no accidents and 15 minutes to spare. Oh yeah, there's NO parking down near the Federal Building. Drive around to all the rat hole hidden parking lots I can think of and all are full. Why cause it's party day for the rats! They're having a shindig and cars are not allowed!! ....Finally find garage that isn't full and high tail it to the Fed Bldg.

Realize that Awesome-Little-Brother-the-Newly-Licensed-Attorney is clerking for a federal judge. Maybe he's in the same building. Call and leave him a message as I run, asking where he is and if he wants to say Hi before I leave for Italy on Friday.

Go through Security, no problems. Run to elevators, because it's now about 2 minutes before my appointment time and I'm terrified that they won't see me if I'm one minute late. Get to the Passport floor, sweating, trying not to pass out from heat stroke and stress.

Now let's revisit this a little, shall we? The automated appointment machine told me that I needed what? Marriage cert, old passport, proof of travel dates and pic id with new name. Check, check, check and CHECK.

Go up to the window and the lovely young woman says to me as I pass her my passport and marriage certificate,
"Do you have your application?"
"Uh, no."
"How about new pictures?"
""New WHAT??" [I have not washed my hair today....]
"New pictures."
"I'm sorry, I'm just here for a name change."
"I know, you have to apply for a whole new passport." [already I'm seeing my dreams of returning to work near the Wisconsin border evaporating before my eyes...]
"I have to do what? Why didn't the phone service tell me that??!! I thought you were just going to put a sticker in the old one!! " [Desperation creeps into my voice as I stand there feeling my blood pressure rise and tears start to well up in my eyes]
"Well, it's a new system and we haven't updated everything yet. Fill out this application, go across the street to Walgreens and get new pics taken and we'll honor your original appointment." [I nearly crumpled]
[in the smallest voice possible and on the verge of tears] "But I don't want to take new pictures... my old passport has a pretty, skinny picture in it..." [she really was a nice person and I made her laugh a little]
"I'm sorry, you have to go take new pictures."
"I'm going to cry."
"Oh, please don't cry..." [sigh, I take my application and my paper work and start downstairs again.]

I crossed the street and went to the nearest passport picture place I could find where they proceeded to charge me $35 for new pictures of my huge sweaty head with unwashed hair that looks like I stuffed an air-hose up my behind. The very nice lady at the picture place handed me my pictures (two sets of two different pics, one with little double chin and one with big double chin). When I took then out to look at them, I really did start to cry, and I cried back across the street, through Security for the 2nd time and all the way up to the office on the 18th floor. The nice young lady checked my paper work and told me to go get in the next line and someone would call my number.

Just as an aside, they have really nice facilities up there. Clean bright, friendly and there was no one else but myself in the office when I came.

So I sat for a few minutes until the next lady called my number. She took all my paper work and punched holes in my pretty picture passport so it's officially dead.
"Can I have my old passport back?"
"You'll get it back when you receive your new passport." [Now, Gentle Reader, the manner in which she delivered this small tidbit of information led me to suddenly question *when, in fact,* I would be getting my new passport back?]
"And when might that be since I'm leaving on Friday night???"
Passport lady #2 responds to my general anxiety by getting her undies all up in a bunch and getting nasty back at me... I don't remember the exact exchange, but it culminated in her asking if I wanted to wait around and pick it up "later today".
"Yeah, I'll wait." [foolish me, I thought it would be like an hour or less. At this point it is 1:30 and I'm thinking I might still get back to New Job.]
"Okay, here's your pick up receipt. They'll ask for it when you come back to pick it up... come back between 3 and 4:00." [Can you hear my reputation at my new job crumbling like the Towering Inferno?]

Oh yeah, and I haven't eaten since 6:00 this morning either AND I forgot to take something to knit while I waited, which would have helped to calm my anxiety. [sigh]

So, I start to cry again as I'm walking out of the office and I decide to go get some lunch. I walked east one block and came upon a Garrett's Popcorn shop. Knowing full well, that I should keep walking and find some real food, I instinctively turn into said shop and get the smallest nag of mixed caramel and cheese corn they make. I ate about 3 handfuls and immediately got sick to my stomach. So I walked across the street and went to Subway (which reminds me too much of my starving dieting days) and got a sandwich, which was icky. Bleah...

With no call back from Awesome Brother and an hour and half to kill, I went to Barnes and Noble and picked up a Streetwise laminated map of Rome and Knit Lit,too. A little nurturance for the soul on this most challenging of days, or a little in flight reading pleasure, as necessary.

Then Awesome Brother calls and says "Hey, I'm right across the street from where you were, are you still here? Wanna meet for coffee?"

HOORAY!!! So Brother Bear and I had a yummy cuppa from Intelligentsia which has WAY better java than that silly Mermaid place.

We chat for about an hour and I feel totally special that my little Brother Bear has taken an full hour out of his important busy lawyerly day to meet his not-feeling-so-good-about-herself sister. I'm really proud of him and I think he's a totally cool dude. I got lucky in the sibling department. Then, far too soon, it's time to go back to the Evil Passport Office. Oh yeah, and I haven't called my boss to tell her that I'm still downtown either, so I'm still dreading that and it's hanging over my head. Dumb, dumb, dumb.

Back through Security for the THIRD time today and on up to the 18th floor. I got into the pick up room and there were about 100 people in there. Oddly enough, I gave my will-call ticket to the lady expecting to settle in for the long wait and not a minute after my butt hit the seat she was calling my name! Thank God for small favors.

Now it's 3:15 and I already know that there's no way with Chicago traffic that I'll get back to work before 5:30 pm. So, as I walk to my car I'm deciding exactly what to say to my boss to let her know that I'm not coming back to work and Brother Bear calls. "Hey, did you get your passport? Do you want to come see my office?"

Totally! So I head across the street and march through Security for the 4th time in one day, with thoughts of cancerous x-rays beaming through my already weakened frame. Brother Bear meets me in the lobby and escorts me up to the top floor where, as we are walking into the office, his boss, Federal Court of Appeals Judge, the Honorable William J. Bauer, steps into the hallway wearing his hat and coat.

[Did I mention I hadn't washed my hair??]

"Ah, is this your lovely sister?? I'd heard she was in the vicinity and I hoped I would get to meet her before I left for the day...."

He was handsome, distinguished, gracious, kind and funny gentleman of about 80. I sincerely hope I didn't say anything foolish. I followed Brother Bear's lead and called him "Your Honor" and "Sir". Then I got to meet the rest of the folks in his office which amounted to exactly three people, which made me even more impressed that he'd taken a full hour to have coffee with me. It was really cool. The judge's secretary let us take a small tour of the Judge's Chamber's and the Federal Court of Appeal of the 7th District since court was not in session. Brother Bear showed me where he sits while court is in session and he showed me his very big, very lawyerly desk surrounded by countless very dry looking legal texts.

I also met one of his co-clerks, Mike, who was a very nice man as well. It was neat how nice everyone was.

Finally, after much praise and proud feelings on behalf of my younger sibling, I headed down to the street and my lonely little vehicle. Funny thing is I called my boss after I left my brother's office and told her I was "Just leaving the passport office" and she was really cool about it and just said make it up later this week".

Total cost for the day including parking, passport photos, new passport Rush Job, lunch, coffee, map and book? $229.00 oh yeah, and then there was gas... which I didn't include.

End of day: home by 5:00, new passport in hand and on the sofa with a bottle of yummy Zinfandel from my favorite winery. If today had been a football game, there would have been a penalty for "Unnecessary Roughness" or "Roughing the Pass(port)er". Thank Goodness vacation starts tonight!


Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Tonight is Group night!

Just so's you know. I'll be there.

Lynn is out with a bad back: wishing her well.
Kathy is working the superlong n' evil shift today.

Check in as you can! Hope to see the rest of you tonight!

That's at Border's at Lake and Skokie Blvd. in Wilmette for anyone new who wants to join us.

Happy day!

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Okay, so I just HAD to share....

I was going to do a thesaurus search on to come up with another funny cute acronym for GROUP. When I typed in my first search word "knitter", I got this:

No entry found for knitter.
Did you mean nutter?

ROFLMAO!!!! I nearly got caught blogging at my new job!

jen (the resident Nutter)

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Daily Status

Okay, so I've frogged, rewound and cast on that friggin' Vintage Velvet scarf again. In case you didn't see my comments from the other day, I've just figured out how to track where I am in the pattern so I don't have to do this again. I'm definintely giving it to my soon to be SIL.

Oh yeah, and remember that scarf I made up for my Dad? The one with blues greens and purples? Yeah, I think I'm not going to have enough yarn to make it long enough.... I definitely need more practice on designing projects. :-/ Now, I'm thinking or making it into that Interlocking Balloons scarf from Scarf Style. Any thoughts?

On to funner things (yes, funner is a word, I just decided). I also got an email off line from Lovely Lynn who suggests that we continue to call our little group just that: GROUP - Girls Relaxing Over Unfinished Projects. Frankly, that made me laugh out loud and I love it! Any other funny acronym suggestions?

let's hear 'em!


Sunday, October 02, 2005

Vintage Velvet et al.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch....

I'm one of those knitters who usually has 4 or 5 projects going at one time so that I don't get bored. I also love the planning stages of making a new project. So, here are some of the others I'm working on.

Vintage Velvet in Touch Me by Meunch. I'm thinking that it's the color recommended by the book (Scarf Style by Pam Allen), but I'm not sure.

All right, I need to take a poll too. My soon to be Sister in Law is a knitwear designer for Reuhl (the menswear store from Abercrombie & Fitch). She told me last time they were over that she's giving me a load of yarn for Christmas. (Think Italian wools and such). Since I'm knitting Christmas presents I' wondering what to knit for her. I've already planned a Button Hole Bag for her in Black, Camel and Beige. But then What else. I mean for heaven's sake, this woman is giving me yarn! I can't wimp out and just give her something silly. Do you think VV would be a cool gift to stick inside the bag?


Okay, and here is the jacket I'm making for myself that I've titled Greed. Alyssa at Group told me to "knit faster." I gave her a confused look and she said "I want to see what it's' going to look like!" LOL! She makes me laugh! I love the ladies I knit with; they're too fun! Thanks Beauties!

Oh yeah, and I'm going to see Carmen at the Metropolitan Opera this week with Denyce Graves. Too cool. I'm so excited! Then on the 15th, we're leaving for Rome for a week. Exciting times ahead!


Saturday, October 01, 2005

Market Squares is Finished!!!

Hooray!! I'm so excited!! Market Squares is finished!!

Some things you should know about the pattern that the don't tell you.

1.) At the beginning of each square, take the first stitch from the color you'll be knitting into and SSK or P2tog, THEN start row 1 or it doesn't work out.
2. Buy two packs of size 8 DPN's or finishing the bottom of the bag becomes a pain unless you're proficient at the magic loop (which I'm not... yet).

Above is what it looked like before it was felted. Oh yeah, and here are the straps. They are 35" inches (pre-felted) not including the tabs on the ends which are about an inch and a half a piece. So about 38" inces total. You'll notice that on the top middle sticking up strap that it look skind of wonky. Yeah, that's cause I messed up and I didn't add the four rows of grater stitich that the pattern calls for before begining the I-cord. So, when I was fininshed with the strap, I went back and picked up more stitiches all the way around so that I could just have more to sew on. I figured you won't even be able to tell when it's all felted.

Then I thought you might like to see what the inside looked like after I darned in all the yarn hangers (oh, yeah , you have to break the yarn at the end of every row, so it's important to remember to leave enough for eaving in the ends).

So, into the washer it went on HOT with a pair of old jeans. I even had a linen washables bag that I got at The Container Store that was big enough for the unfelted bag and the straps. Actually the friggin' thing is so large, I could probably put a comforter in there and there'd still be room left over.

So, one cycle (yes, only one cycle) later or about 15 minutes in the wash, and out it came. I was surprised that it wwent so fast. Course now that I have it over a bowl sitting on top of the OxyClean tub on top of another bowl that's upside down, I'm wondering if I don't need to felt it some more. But it seems to be just the right height right now and the straps are perfect. They hang down to right in the middle of, well, the bottom of where my bra hits my underarm. Incidentally, this to me seems to be the perfect place for straps: too high for someone to stick their hand in while you're not looking but just low enough to wear with a coat without discomfort. So, here you go... The cool thing is that after felting, the seams on the insdie are completely flat. Too cool.

Tonight the bag is dry and I am sewing on the straps. I'm hoping the straps wil be strong enough.

I hope you've enjoyed watching this bag come togther. I've enjoyed doing it and even DH says it's beautiful. He recommends doing it in EAster Egg colors which is good cause I've already bought the yarn for it in Easter colors for me. ;)



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