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Archive for September, 2008


Speed Posting

Dear Ellen,

This is what happens when you get so far behind in posting and in life in general and you still have 2 hours of chores before you can collapse into bed.  You have to promise yourself that you will take no longer than 15 minutes to write and post pictures to bring folks up to speed over the last few weeks.  We’ll see what nefarious grammatical, spelling and style errors transpire.

dscn0353.JPG Working backwards — “Socks for a Gentleman” are finally complete.  Knit with a variation on the toe-up, heel gusset no-stitches-picked-up pattern at Wendy Knits.  I kind of like the way the centered “bi-gusset” kind of cradles the heel.  (What if I wanted to use this in a published pattern?  How do I do that legally?  I know folks use Barbara Walker stitch patterns and such all the time, so there must be a way.)  I’m without a travel project on needles now — will rectify in the AM as I fly out tomorrow and will have freshly wound yarn pucks and dpn’s in toe.  (Hardee Har Har!  I’m so funny, I crack myself up.)

Played mandatory golf fun today.  This is where the boss puts together “golf fun days” to which you are not required to go, but to which it may be a good idea to go — hint, hint, hint…if you know what’s good for you.  You know how it is.  We did have a good enough time, but it would have been far better if it hadn’t consumed almost the entire day when I have so many other things to do.

dscn0277.JPGYesterday was superb…went hiking on Pikes Peak.  This was a sidelong entry to the mountain.  We didn’t go to the crest (seen in dscn0323.JPGbackground of photo of very outdoorsy and photogenic couple).  Rather, we drove part of the Pikes Peak highway to a turn off called Elks Park — altitude about 12,000 ft.  Then we hiked into Barr Camp (where the chipmunks are very friendly) on the side of the Peak — altitude about 10,000 ft.  Then we hiked back out.  Distance in about 6.5 miles…ditto on the way out.  Though technically only a 2,000 ft. change of elevation, the trail went up and over several ridges to get to Barr Camp, so I’m thinking altitude change was more like a total of 8,000 feet up and down the same altitudes.   This was my first real hike since the orthopedist said I was allowed to hike on my Achilles tendon,  so it may not have dscn0287.JPGdscn0285.JPGbeen that smart.  (Thirteen miles of pretty rugged terrain isn’t the wisest idea for a test hike.)  My defense is that it was peak aspen weekend and this was my only real chance to see them up close before they faded.  It was also the last weekend that our very, very good friends Mary and Bill moved to Florida, so there you go.  I dscn0303.JPGam paying for it today.  The aspens were absolutely stunning…these few pics don’t nearly do them justice.  I was wise enough to not climb 360 rock — a lookout point just off the trail from which you get an amazing view of the valleys on both sides of the mountain.  It’s 80 feet or so tall and a semi-dangerous climb, so for once I sided with discretion.  It did mean I got a great picture of Dale at the top.

dscn0140.JPGLast weekend was a blur…a shorter hike (like maybe 2 miles?) at the home of some friends…was lovely, but nothing to compare to yesterday’s Oh WAIT A MINUTE, that was the hike at which I discovered I am now allergic to wasps and bees.  After the severe local reaction and overall body hives, itching and redness, I am now the proud owner of two epi-pens and the strict instructions to not spend time outdoors without having them and the accompanying benadryl and tagamet on or near my person.  (I had no idea that tagamet is a big assist to the effectiveness of benadryl.  Now there’s news you can use!)  I may be able to be desensitized with a 3 to 5 year long series of shots.  Oh boy.

dscn0158.JPGdscn0193.JPGdscn0171.JPGOn that Sunday we went to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo.  I got to pet a giraffe.  Dale was mauled by a bear.  We were amused to learn that meerkats don’t always stand around on dscn0194.JPGdscn0225.JPGalert…sometimes they sit around on their butts.  (No, that’s not what you think…it’s a tail!!!)  We saw a fierce grizzly and were informed on how to behave in bear country.  More news you can use!

dscn0083.JPGThe previous Sunday we were in Hurricane Operations…but we did sneak out for a nice walk (I can’t really call it a hike) around Blue Stem Prairie reservoir.  A very close-by and easy jaunt of about 3.5 to 4 miles. dscn0080.JPG dscn0095.JPGWe saw many prairie dogs.  (This was a good thing or I would have been sorely disappointed when the prairie dog exhibit at the zoo was bereft of any doggies.  I wonder…have I ever seen prairie dogs in any zoo prairie dog exhibit?  Is this all just a zoo-goer scam???)  In the distance a pronghorn antelope was totally bored by us.   A beautiful giant elk crashed through the brush…but I was too slow on the shutter.  When we came home we found out that there is a warning out regards the prairie dog fleas as they are active carriers of bubonic plague.  We didn’t share this fun fact with our friends who had come along with us — our next door neighbor Sylvie and her lovely daughter Katrine.  They are Canadian and we’d hate to have them think we invited them to join us with any ulterior motive.

Okay…that was far more than 15 minutes, but I did have a lot to say.  I hope you found it informative and enjoyable!  I will now click “publish” and as I have no intention of correcting lay-out or other errors, what you see, is all I got!

Love, Jan

Cleveland rocks!

Hi, Jan,

In yet another catch up post, here is what has been happening the last week or so.

13.jpg A mad dash to Cleveland included kitties, dress shopping, family time and knitting. First, the obligatory cat. Ganymede is such a pretty cat when he wants to be and such a rascal when he doesn’t. Biscuit’s pictures didn’t turn out so well, so G will represent for the House of Kitties, as we like to call K & B’s place.

14.jpgDress shopping went well. We looked at many dresses. Here is one of the finalists, but not the one Karen bought. We’re saving that for the big day. I didn’t cry once, except when looking at price tags in the couture room. Karen, in her good sense, pointed out that there was nothing in there that she liked enough more than what was outside that room to pay the difference – sometimes 10 to 20 times more!

41.jpgMostly I knit on the Bohus, and I promise pictures of that soon, but I did introduce some new friends to my Rivendell socks. I got to knit with Karen’s group at Phoenix Coffee in Cleveland Heights. What a fun group, and feisty and interesting. I don’t know why people think knitters are so tame – none of my groups meet that definition.

We spent time with Wilson’s parents and his Aunt Leila. Not enough for me, but we were on a mission that weekend so I stayed focused on dress shopping. I did get to see Patty, too, both for a visit in Medina (they have redone the utility room to a gorgeous office for Tim!) and she joined us looking at dresses on Saturday afternoon. I am not posting the picture of the two of us in tiaras.

31.jpgIt was great to see K&B doing so well.

This weekend I head north to Ely, MN for a knitting retreat. It is well timed in that the leaves should be excellent, but poorly timed in that we start our grand reflooring on the 1st of October and I really should be home moving everything I can so the workers have an easier time. Wilson has the bigger job, as his office is full of all sorts of goodies from the last 11 years. Mine has been used as a guest room so I’ve been forced to purge it every now and again. Still, a big job, and then the living room, our bedroom, and the dining room, too. It will be busy evenings this week.

We told the guy at the liquor store to keep an eye on us and slow us down if we buy beer every time we come in for boxes, of which we will need many. I hope we don’t feel like we need the beer by the end of this!

Love,

Ellen

A Good Man

marine-guy2.jpgThe Marine Corp recruiting slogan is “The Few, The Proud, The Marines.” This week their few good men are down one. Our Uncle Walt died earlier this week. He was in his early 80s, the middle child of Hazel and Abraham, our mom being the eldest. He was proud of his service in the Marine Corps, even more proud of his family and my favorite uncle, in fact the only great uncle that my own children knew. He and his wife, Aunt Nancy, created a home that was warm and welcoming and always filled with activity as their kids Steve, Jayne, David and Lisa and all of their friends were constantly in an out. uncle-walt.jpg And once they married and had their own, the house was the place for grandkids. I remember the excitement of a trip to Ashtabula where we would get to see our cousins and play in their house and the lot next door — and sometimes spend the night. That’s where we got our introduction to mopeds and eventually larger motor bikes; spent hours with Jayne fantasizing about John, Paul, George and Ringo, memorizing the words to “Leader of the Pack,” and playing spy; got the occasional visit to the mysteriously industrial setting of the welding shop; ate way too much great food; and really got to feel what it was like to be in a big happy extended family. We were experiencing our own brand of turmoil at home with divorces, remarriages, and step-parent, step-sibling and older sibling upsets. Uncle Walt and Aunt Nancy’s was a bit of an oasis in all that.

walt-herb-eloise.jpgAfter we grew up we returned with our husbands and then our children. They had moved from Saybrook Road, the house and locale of so much childhood fun and fantasy, but their new home was just as inviting. Our families were embraced just as we had been. You always knew you could count on Uncle Walt if you needed anything. He was there for the whole family, together and individually — and supported each of us through love, connection and constancy. I hope he knew how special he was to us.

Uncle Walt, you will be missed.

*** From Jeanne:  The only thing I would add is he was unbiased, a jokester and ever so fun to be around. It made me giggle when he teased Aunt Nancy. He and Aunt Nancy could really dance – did they ever show you? They were fantastic! I will always be grateful for how they took me in, no questions asked, when I was getting ready to marry Skeet. I will miss him very much, but I am so glad he is out of pain and out of the prison he was in – not being able to communicate – can you imagine?

Catch me up, before I go-go…

Hi, Jan,

Wow, I am so behind on posting. I think I fell into the “I don’t have enough time to write a full post about all that’s been happening, so I won’t write at all” trap. Well, forget that – if I don’t post something tonight before we head to Cleveland for the wedding dress shopathon, it will never see the light of day. I’ll just have to accept that the deathless prose I would written, had I infinite time, will somehow reappear in another form on another date.

Wilson exceeded his usual wonderful partner form by agreeing to go to the State Fair with me. We used it as an opportunity to run a sensory evaluation of two competitive products. The rivalry between the Pronto Pup (Dun in a Bun – A Banquet on a Stick) and the Corn Dog (hot dog on a stick – must have hired marketers from a second tier school) is legendary in MN. I felt it was time to set it to rest.

1.jpgThe corn dog evaluation was first, but we eliminated order of tasting artifacts by first indulging in the Australian Battered Potatoes, because, hey, you can’t beat starch layered on starch and then deep fried. With sour cream. I have no clue what makes them Australian, other than the cute Aussie flag stuck in the pile of them on your plate.

2.jpg3.jpgIn comparison to the ABP’s, the corn dog was a disappointment. Crust was too dark and the outside was slightly bitter, but the inside was doughy and undercooked. Raw grain notes combined with burnt sugar, some corny flavor, but not delightful at all. The dog was a different story – plump, juicy, it even seemed to have the texture of a natural casing. For those of you who know what a natural casing is and cringe a bit, hey, I see it as fully using and respecting the piggy that died to make that dog. And it tastes darn good, providing a satisfying snap and a juicy interior. But overall, the crust sank the corn dog – I don’t need to order one again.

6.jpgOn to the Pronto Pup. While the crust was for the most part more pleasingly golden, it appeared that those marketing dollars might have been better spent on quality control. Poor batter coverage resulted in a malformed pup and serious overcooking of the dog. And the batter that was there was also underdone, just like the corn dog. There was a raw alkali profile, the hallmark of undercooked corn dough. And the meat did nothing to get this pup out of the dog house – mealy, dry, no flavor. At $3.50, 50 cents more than the Corn Dog, not a bargain. The battle definitely went to the Corn Dog, but I don’t think it was really a battle worth fighting.

7.jpgI sought more starch enrobed wursts to redeem the day, but the lefse wrapped sausage with mashed potatoes and sauerkraut for which I’d had such high hopes was far too bland. High uniqueness rating, but low repeat likelihood.

4.jpg5.jpg8.jpg9.jpgJust to give YOU a taste of the MN State Fair, here are some random shots. I made a Halloween costume for Jenny one year that the french fry stand has ripped off. Why didn’t I trademark that design? These apples (best food at the fair) remind me of the pillows on My Dream Turnip. The crowd shot will give you an idea of why I consider Wilson to be an excellent partner to accompany me – crowds are not his thing. But even he had to admit the Butter Busts of the Dairy Princesses were worth it.

10.jpg11.jpg12.jpgAnd the big news for us recently, of course, is the arrival home of one of our own princesses. It is fun to have a knitting partner at home with me. She went to knitting group with me. Annie was wild in her biker gear. The rest of the gang was awesome, too – here are a few more of the knitters.

And it will be fun to visit another knitting partner. We head to Cleveland right after work tomorrow to see Karen, our other princess. Life is golden.

I hope you are weathering the storms that are making your work so challenging. I’m glad you are playing a role in the hurricane preparedness.

Love,

Ellen

Calm Before the Storm

Hi Ellen!

ike.gifIt feels like it has been forever since I’ve posted. I can’t say I have that much news to report though — I’ve been going through a series of Groundhog Days for the last two weeks. We’ve been running ’round the clock operations coordinating the Department of Defense’s responses to Gustav, Hanna and Ike. Today we got a respite and I took the day off. It’s the calm before the storm though…depending on if Ike tracks north or south, he could be really ugly and really strong — much worse than Gustav. One would have thought the National Hurricane Center would have avoided that name choice. If only they’d seen What’s Love Got to Do with It?

My leave to see Allen was canceled, necessarily so. When I told Allen that Dale would be making the trip alone because operations required me to stay here, he stoically said, “Well, Mom, those of us in uniform have to expect that sometimes.” It made me laugh. The two of them had a great time together…I’d venture to say that Allen would have loved seeing me, but that he had more fun with just Dad doing “guy” stuff. And he didn’t feel he had to clean his bathroom. He’s doing great…will fly out to meet his boat (that’s what we call submarines) sometime next month when they’ll have a port call. Marie is doing very well too. She is loving their new home and is very pleased with the new campus she’s working at in Fredericksburg. She performed in New York last month and has been invited back in December. And she’s looking into graduate school at Mary Washington University, right there in Fredericksburg.We’re so glad to know Jenny is home…and are looking forward to seeing her. If she wanted to, she could come visit anytime she liked. We have the guest room set up, I have plenty of stash, the mountains are gorgeous and I think she would love it. Yes, I’m at work most days, but Dale is off Friday through Mondays and would be glad to take her hiking and into Manitou Springs and such. Plus, I know she’s way resourceful and could figure out the buses.

dscn0053.JPGI’ve made great use of my day off. I slept in. I walked the dogs for about 2 miles. I gave Stinky Ruby a bath. I spent a few hours with the knitting gals. I went to Costco to buy veggies for the house and candy for the office. I ate tasty chili homemade by Dale. And soon I will watch a movie with my sweetie. And last night we had a chance to go to dinner with the Red Cross folks he works with at Fort Carson. I wore my Autumn Glory Cardigan and still love it just as much.

dscn0071-1.JPGdscn0072-1.JPGdscn0073-1.JPGWhile at knitting, MJ finished her lovely, lovely mittens with gusset thumbs. She was quite coy about the praise which we heaped upon her, but the excitement overwhelmed her and gave her jazz hands.

It’s easy to get caught up in the daily grind. At least we are fortunate enough dscn0069-1.JPGaround here to have some of nature’s true grandeur to remind us to occasionally pull our heads out of our asses remember our blessings. Despite the long hours of late, or maybe because my job gives me some pretty intense views into what misery there is in the world, I think I’m doing a pretty good job of remembering how blessed we’ve been. I work Sunday, but I’m not going to complain.

Love, Jan

Is it so wrong…?

To make Wilson leave for the airport an hour early to make absolutely sure Jenny will have a welcoming committee when she returns from 13 months in South Korea (scheduled arrival time 9:45 Central, estimated 9:33 Central)? I don’t care. We are leaving now!

Anxiously,

Ellen