Friday, July 28, 2006

Ready for Launch

Thank you so much to all of you who have made kind offers of backpacks and panniers for me to borrow for my trip. After some experimenting, I really think I’m going to be able to get everything into the pack I’ve got. For those who suggested panniers, there’s actually nowhere to mount them on my bike. They warned me about that when I bought the bike so I’ve been training myself to carry a fairly heavy pack.
I did break down and buy a small handlebar pack the other day. I can fit a tube, a bunch of nutrition bars and my keys in it. It also had some thing that I obviously need, a clear map sleeve that I can read while I’m riding. I am headed out tomorrow at 4am for the Providence Zen Center. This is a bit of a dry run for the trip down to the same place for my retreat next week. It is Founder’s Weekend at the PZC so I’ll be going down tomorrow and back on Sunday. If I’m too tired to ride Sunday, I can always take the train back from N. Attleboro. I’m looking forward to it. It shouldn’t be too difficult a ride since I don’t have to bring very much with me. For those of you who may be worried, I have someone to call if I have any trouble on the road as well as several maps, flicky-lights for and aft, two water bottles and a list of bike shops along the way should I experience technical difficulties. I also got a chance to use the handy dandy bike cleaning kit that Patience gave me for Christmas last year so the bike is gleaming, oiled and ready to go!
So enough with the bike talk! This is a knitting blog right? Well, there has actually been some knitting this week at Chez FullService. Is it the Zen Master’s sock? No. Jess’ sweater (though I am up to the armholes)? Nope. My niece’s cardigan (all the pieces done but still not sewn up and edged)? Of course not. It is this!

This is a sock I’ve started out of the last of the sock yarn that I got on a trip to Camden, ME over the winter. It is made of Trekking XXL (does that mean I’m participating in the Trek Along??). I started it as a computer sock (something to knit while I was waiting for my old dial up connection) but since I’ve gotten DSL, I don’t seem to be working on it any more. Well, I fished it out of the computer area the other day and have been happily knitting on it. I’ll probably be good and take the Zen Master’s sock with me to PZC this weekend. I’m about half a sock away from glory on that one so I should just get it done!
The shop will be covered tomorrow but the lovely and talented tag team of Susan and Kimberly. Have a great weekend and, if you’re in Porter Square, stop in and say hi to them!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Working My Way Through the List

I guess this is what you would call a random post so here goes.
Random things that have been going on today:
1. I figured out that my road bike is not designed to tow the four-year-old on the trail-a-bike and that my hybrid bike works much, much better. I changed the trailer hitch to the other bike today just because I felt like it and it is so much easier to ride with him. On the road bike, any movement of his make it hard for me to steer. On the hybrid, I can hardly feel it. I guess you don't tow the camper with a sports car so I shouldn't tow the child with the racing bike.
2. I'm feeling a lot more organized about going away. I've been putting together list upon list upon list and I may actually be getting ahead of it. I even bought a binder and organizers.
3. Now is when the printer decides it needs more blue ink. I don't know how it can need blue ink when I haven't been printing anything blue! My printer is also one of those that won't print unless all the ink cartidges have ink in them so I'm temporarily out of busines until I can get to Staples.
4. Since I can't work on the price lists anymore, I guess it is time to tackle the enormous (ENORMOUS!) pile of junk mail. I now get personal, business and Knit Out junk mail. I really should open my own recycling firm. I could supply it single handedly!
5. I'm still trying to work out whether I'm going to have to buy a bigger backpack to take on retreat. I'm not convinced that I can't get everything I need into the pack I've got. I'm also a little afraid that if I buy a bigger pack, I'll just fill it up with more stuff. My tendency to over pack is fighting with the fact that I'm going have to carry all of it my back while I ride the 40 miles down there.

Well, that's what's randomly going through my head today. Now I'm off to tackle the junk mail.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Hello, my ankles, how I’ve missed you.

This month, I’ve been having a lot of trouble with swollen ankles. I’m not talking the usual summer puffiness either. We’re talking full on, old lady in need of support hose and a diuretic, swollen. Well, I’ve finally figured out what was causing it. Brace yourselves because the culprit is…

Photo courtesy of these folks.

ice cream.

I figured this out because I stopped eating ice cream last week. Now, four days later, the problem has mysteriously gone away along with a lot of aches and pains that I was attributing to being almost 42. So, I guess there will be no more ice cream for me this summer. It’s just as well since, considering my weight, I need ice cream like I need VD.

Sorry, no baby pictures. I forgot my camera yesterday. I took a bunch with my sister’s camera and I’ll try to get her to send them to me. There are some cute ones.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Lost in the Wilds of Newton

I did something this morning that almost never happens. I got lost riding my bike. One of my goals this summer is to ride my bike down to the Providence Zen Center (which is actually in Cumberland). It is about a 40 mile ride and the tricky part is wending my way through Brookline, Chestnut Hill and Roslindale until I hit Rt. 1A in Dedham. So, this morning, I headed out, trusty Mapquest directions in my back pocket, to explore the first 10 miles of this ride. The thing about Mapquest is that they aren’t always that up to date on the roads. I found that one road I was supposed to take had been closed to cars. Fortunately, I was on a bike and just rode on through. The getting lost part was all me, though I tried to blame Mapquest at the time. I took a wrong turn (note to self: the directions work much better if you actually take them out and read them) and ended up in Newton Center. I was literally heading North when I thought I was heading South. You understand that this almost never happens. My sense of direction is usually quite good. Well, I poked around in Newton until I’d used up my 10 miles and then started following my nose back the way I’d come. It is a good thing I didn’t try to cut across anywhere since I had no idea where I was in the first place. I might still be out there somewhere!

Vacation Wrap-up Day Last
On my last day of vacation we went to Hollywood and did the real tourist thing. Jeff drove us all over and pointed out many, many sights.
We started here

at Gruman’s Chinese Theater. It was very interesting looking at all the hand and footprints.

I couldn’t decide whose to take a picture of (the memory card was getting a little full) so I finally settled on Margaret O’Brien (a child start from the 40’s) because she is a favorite of my mother’s and because her little hands and feet just looked so cute.

There were a number of Superheros wandering Hollywood Blvd and Spiderman (Little Nephew’s favorite) was kind enough to pose for a picture.

Want to see a four-year-old boy’s head explode? Tell him you met Spiderman and have the pictures to prove it!
Next stop was the Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum. Here I am standing with a picture of John Wayne made completely from dryer lint!

Hey, fiber is fiber.
The dinosaur coming out of the roof of the building was very funny especially considering its feet are dangling out of the ceiling in the lobby.

Next, we went to a yarn shop. Just a block away from Hollywood Blvd, we found this place! They have a lovely little shop and I even got to talk spinning with the woman working there (she has an old Ashford that needs some repairs). Of course, I had to buy these.

Yes, I know I have a shop full of yarn and, yes, I know I hand dye my own sock yarn. What can I say, I have a sickness.

To finish up, I’d like to give you a little taste of Sierra Madre Canyon. It is a lovely little community tucked up on the mountainside. It is like living in the woods.

There are live oaks everywhere. There is a stream that wends its way down through the neighborhood with footbridges across it in various places.

It is walled in to be a spillway but that is necessary during the rainy season.

Also, notice the drain down the middle of the street. It may not rain all summer but when it does rain in winter, it doesn’t mess around.
Finally, this is Mary’s.

It is a convenience store, diner and all around neighborhood hang out. We had breakfast there several mornings and I really enjoyed the relaxed, ‘chat with your neighbors’ atmosphere.
So that’s my vacation. I had a great time and can’t wait to go back!
I hope all of you are having a great weekend and not getting lost in Newton. I get to see the new baby again tomorrow and will have some more pictures. Let me know when you guys get sick of the baby pictures. Really, I’ll understand.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Vacation Day 5-The Castle!

Right now, I'm in the process of getting the shop organized so that I can go on ten days of retreat, a heavy duty retreat too. This is a no talking, no contact with the outside world, get up early, go to bed late, meditate all day kick in the spiritual ass. I'm finding that part of the process of the retreat is letting go of control over everyday life, in my case, the shop. I am currently madly writing up all kinds of lists and instructions so that the people covering for me will be able to do a good job and not curse my name for leaving them without enough info. The bottom line, though, is that I'm not going to remember everything, the people who run the shop for me are going to do things differently than I would and there's not a damn thing I can do about it. It's all part of the practice. AND IT'S REALLY HARD! I guess that's why they call it practice.
On to knitting! Wait, that's right, I knit! Sometimes I forget. I've finished all the pieces of my new niece's little cardigan which she won't fit into for a while yet. Now I just have to sew up the pieces and put the band on. That's not going to happen until I have a few more brains to do it with. No idea when that will be.

Vacation Day 5-The Castle
So, what did it take to get my friend Jess to move all the way out to California? A chance to live in a castle!

This is an actual castle built by a guy who only used things that were found or donated. There was a book about it which you can check out here. It is a huge complex that now has a bunch of apartments in it. Jess lived in this one.

She became known as the Princess of the Castle. She even had a pointy princess hat with a veil that she would wear when school groups came through.

Everywhere you looked there was something else to see.

This caboose is the guest house!

It was a bit overwhelming but extremely cool!

Later we went out for dinner at a really nifty restaurant. They had fish tanks everywhere! This big fish was named Oscar and had been at the restaurant for 30 years!

Sorry that the picture isn't better. The amazing thing was that the fish were so friendly. They really seemed to like your attention.

Tomorrow I will wrap up the vacation wrap up! Have a great weekend everyone!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Baby, Vacation and the Big Box From Zeilinger!

All my favorite things!
Here are some more cute baby pictures.

My sister Elizabeth took these. I forgot my camera when I went up yesterday so I don't have any pictures with Daddy or big sister. I'll try to get some of those on Sunday when I see them all again.

Vacation Day 4 was July 4th!
We had a really nice day. The Sierra Madre parade was lots of fun in a 'you really had to be there' kind of way so I'll spare you the pictures of the parade except for these few. When you live in Southern California, sitting out for a number of hours in July can be really hot. Sierra Madre has a great solution to this problem.

They have the fire department close the parade by coming down the street hosing down anyone who would like it! If you want to get sprayed, you just run out into the middle of the street and they hose you down.

There also seems to be a tradition of people (mostly twelve-year-old boys) stalking and attacking the firefighters with squirt guns (the big kind) at which point the person with the fire hose turns it on their attacker and gives them a good soaking. It is great fun to watch! Firefighters and crowd all end up happily drenched. Here's Jeff coming back from his dowsing.

I will close this post with the Big Box From Zeilinger containing wonderful roving made from the fleeces that I bought at New Hampshire Sheep and Wool.

I think I have frightened my new UPS man.

There was a little jumping up and down, some hand waving and possibly some maniacal giggling when I realized where the box was from. He left very quickly. The old UPS guy was used to it.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

New Addition

I apologize, gentle reader, for I know I neglect you. Who knew a yarn shop owner in the Northeast could be so busy IN JULY! Trust me, I’m not complaining but there’s just been so much to do! Vacation, getting caught up on everything after vacation, the Knit Out, the Etsy shop, getting organized to go on retreat and now my family has welcomed

THE WORLD’S CUTEST BABY also known as my brand new niece Kaitlin! She was born yesterday at 10:25am and joins my sister Margaret (mom), brother-in-law Chris (dad) and her newly minted big sister Madeline


Here I am, the proud Auntie

and here’s another close-up of the cute face. Mom and baby are doing fine and I’m headed up there today to spend some time with them. I have to say that it is extremely cool watching my sister, the experienced mother, in action. She's just amazing!
A cute fact that I find it necessary to share: This baby likes a back rub. I found this out almost by mistake. My friend Stefanie’s daughter Meret (now a strapping 6 year-old) always like to have her back patted to sooth her. This also seemed to work for Little Nephew when he was small. This technique was particularly effective when combined with walking. Unfortunately, I found out this had exactly the opposite effect on Madeline which I didn’t realize until I’d over stimulated her into hysterics on at least two occasions. Being aware of this, I was very careful to pay attention to whether the back patting technique worked with Kaitlin. It didn’t so I just held her. Then I almost absent-mindedly began rubbing her back. I was doing this really gently, the way you would an old arthritic dog (I have lots of experience with this having essentially been running a geriatric ward for dogs here for the last four years). I happened to look down and Kaitlin had the most beatific expression on her face. No squinched up, “I’m not really comfortable but not uncomfortable enough to scream”, no slightly dazed looking around, just closed-eyed bliss. I think I maybe onto something!
Tomorrow, I hope for a return to regularly scheduled blogging with the rest of my vacation and more baby pictures to come.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Whole Ecosystems

I’ve noticed lately that I seem to have developed a breeding population of free-range needles. I cannot clean up, reorganize or even tidy any area of my house or shop without coming up with a fistful of feral needles. They’re everywhere and in the craziest places like my kitchen cabinets, bureau drawers and the bathroom.

Here we see a small pod of double points foraging among the culch at my computer.
No matter how much I pick them up, sort them out and put them away, there are always more. Has anyone else noticed this phenomenon? I can’t possibly own the number of needles that are kicking around this place! On the other hand, the population of free-range stitch markers seems to have dropped dramatically, perhaps from predation by the needles.

Vacation Wrap-up Day 3
We started out Day 3 at a wonderful little coffee shop called Beantown in sprawling (not) downtown Sierra Madre. Here we found KNITTERS!

This is the Beantown Knitting Group. They are a lovely bunch of ladies who knit at Beantown Coffee every Monday and Wednesday. I just think it is so funny, being from the Boston area, to run into any group called the Beantown Knitters when I’m thousands of miles from home.

After walking around town a bit, we headed to Hacienda Heights to see the Hsi Lai Chinese Buddhist Temple. It was really beautiful

and it had a couple of lovely gardens.

They had a room where a number of beautiful statues of Buddha and the Bodhisattvas were set up with mirrors so that they were reflected to infinity. That was extremely cool (no pictures allowed). I found the rest of the place very moving though somewhat intimidating. I can’t imagine why…

Tomorrow, Sierra Madre's Fourth of July Parade. That is if I can get out from under all of these.

Still working my way through all of the sock yarn orders. If you are one of the people who ordered yarn this week, your yarn should be showing up soon! Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006


It’s been a busy few days thanks to the Yarn Harlot and my Etsy site. It is pretty funny when I try to explain what happened to my muggle (non-yarn) friends. They get hung up at ‘famous knitting blogger’. Even though they’re supportive, I can tell from the look in their eyes that they just don’t get it. Silly people. They don’t know that they will all knit eventually. It’s just a matter of time.

Vacation Wrap-up Day 2
The Huntington Museum and Gardens in Pasadena

This place was gorgeous. They have all kinds of themed gardens. There’s the Children’s Garden, the Shakespeare Garden (all plants mentioned in Shakespeare), the Herb Garden, the Rose Garden and my favorite, the Japanese Garden. They are even in the process of building a massive Chinese Garden.
I would like to mention another observation I made: What we consider huddling, coddled houseplants here are considered yard plants, shrubs and even (gasp) weeds! Here is a fuchsia just growing in the ground (with the lovely Jess posing for scale).

Geraniums and rosemary just grow wild and need to be pulled up and cut back. Jade trees grow in people’s front yards and hibiscus are shrubs (shrubs!!). All amazing to this New England girl.

Here are some pictures of the Japanese Garden.

I loved the koi.

They were big and friendly and always looking for a hand out (no, I was good and didn’t feed them). These were some big fish! You know the local squirrels know better than to get too near the water.
There was also an impressive display of bonsai trees.

I once had a short but intense affair with bonsai trees. They all died. It was tragic. Orchids really are more my speed. They thrive on neglect.
Stay tuned for Day 3 in which I meet a group of ladies calling themselves the Beantown Knitters!

Monday, July 10, 2006

Feeding Frenzy!

When the Yarn Harlot puts a link to your yarn on her website, all I can say is hold onto your hair! I’ve sold ten skeins of yarn in the last two hours! I’m going to have to take the wheelie cart to the post office tomorrow!

Vacation Wrap-up Day 1
I’m finally getting to my vacation pictures.
I left here on Saturday, July 1 and got to LAX at a little before noon. I was met by my friend Jess and her fiancé Jeff and immediately carried off to lunch at the kookiest restaurant I’ve ever seen!

When I was flying in, I thought this thing was the control tower!

The décor was fun sixties sci-fi. The elevator even plays you some Star Trekky music while you are riding in it. There were lots of lava lamps and look at the bathroom!

I was having a number of ‘We’re not in Kansas anymore’ moments.
After that, we headed out to do a little touring. I was extremely fortunate that Jeff is a local and a born tour guide. He took us to Venice Beach with a little stop at this big donut.

We didn’t go to the shop (it may not look it in the picture but it was worth your life to cross the street and we’d just had lunch anyway).
Venice Beach was a real trip. We couldn’t have picked a better day to see it being the Fourth of July weekend and all. Here are some people working out at the outdoor gym at Muscle Beach.

Note: As a New Englander, I am completely blown away by the concept that you can count on the weather. In LA in the summer, you know that it is just not going to rain, ever, any time. People put upholstered furniture in the yard, you never have to have rain dates for events! It’s amazing to me!

Here is Venice beach itself and the bikeway that you always see people rollerskating down. It was cool and the pictures don’t begin to do it justice. Also, do you know why they call it Venice?

There are actual canals!

Wouldn’t it be fun to live along here? With a little boat to go out to the ocean or just visit the neighbors? And never have to worry about it raining on your picnic? I’m in love. I may have to move. And that was just Day 1! Stay tuned for Day 2!