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Archive for the ‘Travel’


Memories…

Dear Ellen,

dsc03233.JPGdsc03239.JPGdsc03236.JPGdsc03235.JPGdsc03237.JPGSock Summit is a memory, well a collection of memories…and a pile of loot.  I took the formidable mountain of yarn, fiber and knitting related tools and gadgets that I acquired in Portland up to the farm this weekend.  Once there I had a wonderful time reliving the great times we had up there as I went through it all.  Not a single regret in the pile.  Here it all is — from several angles.

dsc03242.JPGdsc03248.JPGdsc03246.JPGI loved the stitch marker swap you so brilliantly conceived and executed.  Unfortunately one cellie’s marker (the green acorn) is missing from this first picture.  I was quite alarmed.  But I found it when I went through the larger collection — can you spot it?  And don’t you just grin whenever you see the cellie in her tiara??

dsc03148.JPGdsc03157.JPGClasses were so FABU!!! Cat Bordhi, Amy Singer, Kate Atherley, Gayle Roehm,…FRANKLIN HABIT!!  He really helped me up my game in the photo department.  Just take a look at how my Lingonberry Scarf photographed using my “normal” settings…and then look at how rich the chocolate color appears after adopting his advice.  dsc03172.JPGdsc03166.JPGAnd getting the color right on my Hugs and Kisses Socks previously thwarted me.  Not any more!  Also, he taught us that when photographing socks, you really need to have the camera at an angle that is flattering, the most flattering of which captures a side view of and arched foot like on a mannequin.  Much nicer than the many “self portraits” of socks on the knitters’ foot from above.  A sure recipe for cankles!

dsc03230.JPGAnd I have to admit that I’ve succumbed to the spinning bug…18 grams of the BFL that I bought at Fiber Optic is now plied into a lovely fingering weight yarn…and about 9 more grams are a single ply.  The photo here is the one you took of my first mini-mini-skein spun from that sample I picked up in the market place.  There will be more photos of my spinning in the future, I’m sure.  The zen quality of the repetitive motion with no patterns or variety of manipulation allow me to empty my mind — something I surely need these days.  (No comments from the peanut gallery regards how easy you might imagine that to be!)

dsc03175.JPGdsc03176.JPGdsc03177.JPGdsc03174.JPGVCC and VCP and I had a great time being treated like royalty at the nail salon.  There are many other great memories too…meeting Carin of The Knit Wits during the podcaster meetup — and Paula from The Knitting Pipeline too.  (Darn!  I can’t believe I didn’t take a picture!)   

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You laughed so hard it looked like you would choke (yourself)… thedsc03182.JPGdsc03190.JPGdsc03183.JPGdsc03184.JPG other cellies laughed a lot too!  And we saw sheep, yarn bombing and lots of young knitters…enough to make your heart sing! 

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dsc03189.JPGOf course the very best part was spending a week with you and our cellies.  So very much fun, so very much laughter, so very much love.  It was like we went through a magical portal into another dimension.

Love, Jan

Bliss

Dear Ellen,

dscf1503.JPGYou were right…Sock Summit is absolutely fantastic.

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dscf1488.JPGdscf1485.JPGYesterday was a good time, yarn crawling through Portland and gaining fortification at VooDoo Donuts.

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dscf1514.JPGdscf1494.JPGdscf1506.JPGBut today was fantastic.  My class with Cat Bordhi was fascinating.  She is genius…and she helped us see stitch patterns in a whole new way.  Like her socks, she soars.  Six hours with her went by in a flash and then we were all exhausted.

dscf1516.JPGdscf1520.JPGIt was fun seeing Stephanie Pearl McPhee and she was great at the opening reception.  And need I mention the shopping?  We all sure got a great haul.  And I appreciate thatPortland has many larger than life objects for our amusement.

Love, Jan

Stupid Travel Tricks

Dear Ellen,

dsc03026.JPGI gave up my weekend to head to a military conference in Doha, Qatar.   That’s a LONG flight.  I appreciated being on a non-stop in terms of not worrying about connections and lost bags, but I think next time I’ll seek a connecting route so I can break up the 13 hour flight.  My tailbone is still aching!  I also seem to have picked up some sinusitis, so have spent today at home being slothful as opposed to the planned day off getting some packing done for the coming moves up to PA and into a smaller place here.

dsc03043.JPGdsc03040.JPGQatar is a rich country that welcomes us.  (It says so right on their water tower!)  They are sitting on an extremely large natural gas reserve and their population average income is somewhere around $150K per capita.  Of course, they have many guest workers who make far less.   Other than natural gas, there isn’t a lot there.  They are working to build lots of things including reclaiming land to extend their acreage.  They do have lots of sand.

dsc03038.JPGdsc03039.JPGYou may be looking for knitting content as there was none in my last post.   I’m here to serve.  Here I am working on my latest socks outside of my lodging…no, I didn’t add fill light to the photo.  It was just that bright.  Sunglasses are a must.  Also, in the event of any big mistakes, you will be glad to know that they stock “Rip It” power drink at the dining facility.  Thoughtful of them, don’t you think?

Love, Jan

Please Stop the World…Just Till I Catch Up

Dear Ellen,

My head is spinning…so much going on and I’m not sure how much more I can take.  Much is very good, much is interesting and much will help us build our future, but good grief!  I just wish I’d get a day to sleep.

dsc02992.JPGdsc02993.JPGLast week was the grand opening of the house with a wonderful party that the builder threw for the Parade of Homes.  They included us, our immediate neighbors and several of their other clients.  According to Jared (our fantastic architect shown here with his parents), there were over 130 people in the house at one point.  As I had no clue there were that many, it proved out our intent to design it for good flow while entertaining.  We heard many, many very nice comments about the property and the house.  They announce judging results tonight…we are hopeful.  It would be fun bragging rights to have, but we really are hopeful for the folks at Custom Home dsc02985.JPGGroup who were so incredible to work with throughout this experience. Dale thinks his garage floor alone (2 part epoxy terrazzo) warrants best in show.  This was definitely the high point for almost all the men who were at the party…and something Dale has wanted his whole life.  I have to admit, it’s pretty nice.

dsc03001.JPGdsc03017.JPGWe stayed in a hotel near BWI the night of the party — poised to fly to Tampa to watch Tom graduate from Plant High School and to attend Jim’s retirement dinner.  (He’s now out of the Army and in the private sector.)  dsc03010.JPGTom’s wearing a coat from his Uncle Ted (Chris’ brother) who got it from their dad.  He died fairly recently so it was quite an emotional moment for everyone.  We had a far too short, but very good time with the family.  I continue to be amazed by Chris’ ability to deliver the best of high end hospitality without seeming to break a sweat.  She juggled a million people and a wild event schedule that was just perfect.  I only wish I would have had more time just with her. dsc03014.JPGWe did get a few minutes with our friends John and Betsy.  If your memory is very sharp, you’ll remember that they live in Norfolk, not Tampa.  Believe it or not, but they were at the graduation as their nephew was in Tom’s class and they sat just 5 rows ahead of us.  We met up for coffee Saturday morning highly amused that we had to travel to Florida to get a chance to see each other.

dsc03021.JPGdsc03024.JPGWhile on the road, I finished up a cap and booties to go with the overalls for my friend’s baby.  Then I decided I needed to redo the booties as I wasn’t perfectly happy with them as they seemed a little small for the size of overalls.  I also knit the hat for Master’s Level I…not done with the I-cord for the embellishment yet, but the basic hat is knit — as you can see there are ends with which I must deal.  I have to say, I really do like the jogless color join that they recommend.  I had been using the “knit the last stitch into the stitch below the needle”, but this is better and doesn’t distort the row.  (Edited to add this link to a very good description.)

dsc03025.JPGThis week I’ve been in a military transition course, a euphemism for retirement preparation.  I don’t think I’m retiring quite yet, but at this stage of the game they want you to have taken the course just in case they know something you don’t know.  It was a good course, but it kept me away from the office and home (long days!) and I’m behind at both.  You’d think I’d be breathing a sigh of relief with the weekend here, but instead I am gritting my teeth for even more fun.  I leave tonight for a few days in Southwest Asia — back mid-week.  …and then comes packing and moving!!  (Most stuff heads to Fair Winds, but enough to live on during the week will stay behind to go to a small place we have yet to find.)  At least I got this sock started.  It will come with me and hopefully return with a friend.

Love, Jan

Ending the Merry Month of May

Dear Ellen,

dsc02755.JPGdsc02740.JPGdsc02765.JPGI am relieved to be back in my home…it’s been a whirlwind wind up to this month as I’ve been traveling since we left for Cleveland and the wedding.  That was certainly a fun event with much merriment and romance in the air.   Although blurry, I thought this shot of Craig and Lauren really captured it.  And I did enjoy the reception with my brothers and sisters.  Beth did a great job on the seating chart.  And Patty did a great job tracking our pork and beef orders.  dsc02781.JPGdscf1380.JPGdsc02786.JPGI’m quite sure that you, Patty and I were the hit of the evening entertainment-wise.  We may have pounded a little too hard based on the way Wilson and Patty were holding their heads the next morning.  I wonder if Ken and Kristen will be next?

dsc02838.JPGdsc02832.JPGdsc02833.JPGI left the wedding and headed out to the west coast where I met up with good friends from Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom for the Combined Communications Electronics Board.  We did much dsc02857.JPGdsc02855.JPGofficial work and also spent a day and a half out on an aircraft carrier.  MUCH fun and good work done as well.  I was glad to have a chance to be underway — and very pleased to know Allen was underway on PROVIDENCE at the same time…likely the only time that will happen in our careers.  As always, our city at sea had lots going on.  Flight operations, combat direction center, radio shack, the bakery, Yoplait!!  What’s not to like?

Check out some flight ops — Here’s a launch and here’s a trap.

dsc02922.JPGOn return I got a few scant hours of sleep and then Dale and I and the doggies headed to Fair Winds for a one night camp out in the shadow of the new house.  Dale did lots of property grooming and I knit the second of my First Flame Socks.  Unfortunately I couldn’t find the original dpns on which I dsc02956.JPGdsc02980.JPGdsc02981.JPGknit the first…found another set the same size, but then, not really.   The second sock is slightly smaller.  As the needles were different materials (carbon fiber vs. metal) they knit at a slightly different gauge.  The socks blocked out to the same size, but I know one will feel looser.  I’ll be sure the recipient knows to wear the smaller one on her smaller foot.

dsc02951.JPGdsc02950.JPGRuby and Max worked very hard too — lots of sniffing and running about and trying to catch squirrels.  They had to get a lot of extra rest to regain their energy.

dsc02945.JPGdsc02939.JPGdscf1426.JPGThe house is all but finished.  It is without doubt the most beautiful house I’ve ever seen.  The interior decorator working the show had most of the furniture in place for the Parade along with many small touches…he said more dscf1419.JPGdscf1430.JPGdscf1418.JPGwere to come before the event. dscf1416.JPGdscf1432.JPGThere is no doubt that his furniture is nicer than ours…but we should have 30-40 years to work on upgrading what we have — some of which has literally been around the world for 3+ decades.  The landscaping was almost dsc02970.JPGdsc02965.JPGdsc02943.JPGall in by the time we left…lots of flowering trees and lovely dsc02947.JPGdsc02948.JPGdsc02813.JPGhot pink roses, bushy bright shrubs and promising perennials.  I’ll not try to list them.  You can identify them for me when you come visit as I’ll undoubtedly have forgotten what they are by then.  I am just thrilled with my own flight deck too.  I picture grandchildren practicing traps and cats for hours at a time!  dsc02936.JPGdsc02933.JPGdsc02978.JPGI also enjoyed the other plants around the farm — from ferns and wild strawberries to the corn that grew about two inches in the 30 hours we were there.  The big VIP opening party is tonight.

dsc02983.JPGDale and I are heading up early in the day.  We’ll drink champagne with the Parade judges and then head to a hotel at BWI from whence we can head to Tampa for the weekend to celebrate Jim’s retirement and Tom’s H.S. graduation.  I hope to finish up a cap and booties to go with the overalls I’ve made for my friend’s baby (yet to be smocked — the overalls, not the baby!)  And I’ll likely get another pair of socks started.

dsc02727.JPGdsc02973.JPGA very busy end to May and beginning of June, but it sure is fun!  Did I mention that we saw a giant rabbit?…and a bear?  (Just in case you were wondering about that expression about bears and their activities in the woods.)

Love, Jan

In Bruges

dsc02635.JPG…okay, so it wasn’t Bruges, but it was close.

Dear Ellen,

dsc02601.JPGdsc02616.JPGI spent last week in Europe as U.S. representative to the NATO Command Control Consultation Board.  It sounds pretty fancy-pants, and I have to admit the simultaneous translations via earwig is pretty cool, but the board sessions quickly become very dry and, yes, boring.  On the other hand, Brussels is very interesting!  Great scenery, great food, great chocolate…all in great supply.  The Grand Place was having a plant sale that added some great color to our photos.  We ate in a restaurant with a sheep mosaic on its walls.  dsc02618.JPGdsc02608.JPGOn our walkabouts we came across really cool costume ideas…and the infamous mannequin pis.  You can find this little guy made out of chocolate, various gummy candies and imprinted on everything from beer steins to mouse pads. 

dsc02716.JPGdsc02717.JPGAs usual, I did some knitting on the airplane…finished up the first sock of a pair based on the flame stitch pattern.  It has some “love” in it…a clever term a friend uses to refer to mistakes that she has decided can go uncorrected.  The pattern was tricky to convert to a full chart and I was tired.  No one will really notice.  I was glad to get home, but I head out again on Friday for Ohio…the second sock will get some good attention on that trip!

Love, Jan

It’s a heck of a town…

(Sorry for many small pictures – click on photos to embiggen them.)

Dear Jan,

141.jpgImagine jogging up to a bench in Central Park, looking down, and spotting a Signature double point needle in size 0, just the size you yourself are knitting a pair of socks in.  Imagine the sigh the knitter who lost that needle let out when she realized that needle was gone.  True, she may have had the 5 needle set and could get by with the 4 remaining needles, but still…Signatures are special, and it was probably a heartfelt gift from someone dear to her.   It would take another knitter to recognize what this find was and to pick it up from the ground and keep it from being just a bit of metal swept up by the park staff.

113.jpgFortunately that knitter didn’t find it before we jogged back to the park bench where I’d lost my size 0 Signature dpn the day before.  And fortunately Wilson had spent many Easters looking at the ground in parks, usually for wildflowers, but this time for the needle I had lost when I took this photo of my sock in progress in Central Park.

33.jpg24.jpgWe did see wildflowers in Central Park, along with many other NYC sites on our long weekend.  As soon as we checked in to our hotel we headed over to Bouchon Bakery, where Jenny served us a fabulous meal.  You can spot her if you embiggen the photo – she is right below the “U”, taking someone’s order.  The cafe is a Thomas Keller restaurant (Thomas Keller, who gives his staff the credit for his success.  In other words, who gives Jenny the credit for his success.  Heh.)

112.jpg43.jpgThe hotel was on 7th Avenue, right next to the Carnegie Deli where we ate massive amounts of smoked fish.  We sat with Gene Siskel  – he signed his photo “I’d rather eat your corned beef than see most of the movies I do.”

54.jpg64.jpgWe paid a quick visit to the Marshall Chess Club.  Someday Wilson will have to play a game there, as other great chess players have done.

84.jpg 73.jpgAnd then we went to lunch where Karen joined us, along with Allen and Libby!  Technically we joined them, as our naivete to the NYC subway system made us late.  You are going to like Libby – and I assured her that you and Dale were far more competent than we were (this was even before the spilling of the Korean iced coffee).

92.jpgThat evening we took in Wicked. The show was really quite good, but we did not approve of the change to the end of the book.  Happier endings aren’t necessarily better endings, at least in theater. At least the New York cheesecake we had at the Carnegie Deli (we became regulars) was a happy ending for us.

103.jpgI’m sure you’ve seen photos of the marquee for the David Letterman Show, but have you ever seen the mosaic underneath that marquee?  I prefer it by far.

132.jpg123.jpgBut even better than a Broadway show and the sites of NYC was an afternoon and evening at Jenny’s, cooking up a vegan feast and feeding it to her friends – including Marie and Heidi!  They were in fine spirits.  The woman in the picture with Heidi and Jenny is Anna, another of Jenny’s buddies.

152.jpgWe couldn’t believe how quickly the weekend went and we were back on the airplane heading home.  It was as though I was painted onto the mattress this morning – all of this fun really exhausted me.

Would I do it again?

In a New York minute.

Love,

Ellen

Return to Jamaica

Dear Ellen,

dsc01968.JPGAs I had mentioned, the Jamaica trip was fantastic.  The fact that I haven’t blogged about it is more because I’ve been underwater since returning.  (We were underwater during the trip too…4 open water dives!)  Between catching up at work and with the building site, there hasn’t been much time.  Plus I’m knitting all those hats.  Well, here are a few shots. They should certainly give you the feel of the trip.

dsc01969.JPGdsc01986.JPGdsc02033.JPGdsc02067.JPGdsc02135.JPGMany water sports….

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dsc02167.JPGdsc02088.JPGdsc02093.JPGMany drinking sports….

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dsc02025.JPGdsc02055.JPGdsc02022.JPGMany sunsets…

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dsc02016.JPGdsc02003.JPGdsc02080.JPGdsc02004.JPGMany cautionary signs…

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dsc02198.JPGdsc02176.JPGdsc02178.JPGMany stitches on my needles…even with another man.

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Many memories.

Love, Jan

Moules et frites!

Dear Ellen,

A brief note to let you  (and our readers) know that I am off to Brussels in a few hours.  By this time tomorrow I intend to be eating mussels and french fries.  I’ll be back late Friday, so hopefully will have the wherewithal to provide a brilliant and informative post next weekend.

A side note to let you know I just did a bit of site administration and we had a record of 128 spam comments!  Does this mean we are the blog of choice?

Love, Jan

The Land Down Under

Dear Ellen,

dsc01254.JPGI know you have enjoyed Australia in your travels.  I now know why.  My trip down under came up suddenly and I was complaining about how these last minute deals seem to always get dumped on me and then I caught myself…”wait a minute — you’re going to get to go to Australia, for crying out loud!”   I quit my whining and made the trip and have brought back many good memories.

dsc01461.JPGThe conference itself was well worth the long travel and my host, Peter, was quite gracious.  He’s become a good friend over the last couple of years as we’ve been working together on some satellite and communications agreements between the U.S. and Australia.  He does, however, seem part of the international plot to cause me to overeat and to drink far too much fine Shiraz.  dsc01292.JPGdsc01296.JPGPeter took us around town and drove us out to where we could see wild red kangaroos and one of the most intense rainbows I’ve ever seen…and took us to dinner almost every night.  He also saw us off with a farewell lunch at the wardroom mess at dsc01453.JPGdsc01457.JPGHer Majesty’s Australian Station (HMAS) Harman, the home of Australian Signaleering — or communicating — you know, the radio operators.  The wardroom is named for Marion Stevens, one of the first 14 women in the Women’s Royal Australian Naval Service.  She got her training at Harman and worked here…and did dsc01458.JPGdsc01454.JPGneedlework.  They’ve preserved some of that heritage by preserving and displaying some of her pieces.  I loved the fact that these were highlighted in wardroom — usually a high testosterone locale. Marion went on to rise to the rank of Chief Petty Officer and then was commissioned.  Eventually she returned to Harman and helped restore it and run it.

dsc01272.JPGI found more needlework at the National War Memorial.  And this time it was knitting!  This sweater was knit by Sister Eileen Callaghan while held prisoner by the Japanese during WWII.  You can see that she made do with what she had available.  I love that she took care to add cabling and do set in sleeves.  I wonder what she used for needles?  It was a great day to visit the memorial…the day before Remembrance Day (we know it as dsc01256.JPGVeteran’s day).  The names of those who died in battle are engraved along the walls.  Poppies are left every year by the people who still keep each name in their memories.  On Remembrance Day we were at the Australian Joint Headquarters in Russell where we were honored to be part of their ceremonies.

dsc01237.JPGdsc01226.JPGdsc01239.JPGI did a good bit of walking about near the hotel — was fortunate that it was close to the Commonwealth Gardens…lots to see and explore while trying to figure out what time zone I was in.  It was really beautiful…saw budgies and swans and beautiful flowers (it’s late spring there, you know!) and got in a stop at the National Museum.  dsc01285.JPGUnfortunately, no picture taking in the museum, but I bought a few postcards of the aboriginal art.  Fascinating stuff.  You could take pictures outside with the sculptures at the National Gallery…don’t we make quite the pear?

dsc01356.JPGOne afternoon we made a quick trip to the small, but very nice, Canberra Zoo.

I enjoyed the meerkats (he’s tipping over!!),

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dsc01388.JPGthe peacocks (what a GREAT colorway!),

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dsc01381.JPGthe dingoes* (I think Max must be part dingo),

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dsc01420.JPGthe little penguins (signage noted that they are, indeed, “little penguins”),

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dsc01401.JPGthe lounging grey kangaroos (they spell gray wrong),

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dsc01397.JPGthe Tasmanian Devil (who was not very devilish),

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dsc01426.JPGthe koala (who seemed pretty bored by tourists…can you blame him?),

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dsc01336.JPGdsc01337.JPGdsc01338.JPGand the bears (sniffing each other’s butts, sniffing each other’s scat, sniffing themselves — man they sniff a lot!).  But I have to admit that my biggest kick was getting my picture taken with the wombat.  He was asleep…not dead (we did see him scratch himself).  dsc01418.JPGdsc01442.JPGGiven that I’ve got about a dozen pictures of myself** with the wombat that used to be on display in the Natural History Museum, this was a far more lively photo partner than I usually get out of a wombat.

dsc01287.JPGdsc01288.JPGdsc01489.JPGDuring our travels around the city, we noticed that not only do the Australians drive on the wrong side of the road, but they also boldly rip off U.S. corporate identities don’t get company names and logos quite right.  Actually, they’re as amused by the “similarities” as we are.

dsc01493.JPGWe ended the trip with a night in Sydney so we could be near the airport for our early morning flight.  That was great as it gave us a chance to go downtown and dine with a view of the opera house.  My meal included “skippy” — yes, I had kangaroo.  It was tasty.  Peter presented me with a boomerang before we left…to make sure I’ll return.  That won’t be a hard sell!

Love, Jan

*The dingoes took the baby.
**Since our honeymoon, when Dale took the first picture of me with the wombat, we’ve recreated the picture on every return trip possible.  Sadly that wombat became a bit to threadbare (okay, decomposed, if you must!) and is no longer on display.  I sent Dale an e-mail telling him I saw the wombat at the zoo.  His response?  “Did you get your picture taken with him?”  Aren’t traditions fun!