Knitting Loom and Hair Vanity

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Knitting, Too Long For Twitter

I got a round knitting loom (cheap rig) and decided to just practice the stitches to see if/how long I could do it, since I’ve had to give up most other crafts and my purple yarn stash is too pretty to give away.

It took over a week, and my “tennis elbow” is aggravated (definitely a contributor, as was baking cookies and taking pictures on vacation) to the point of tears, but I made it. I was going for a “muff” by just knitting a tube, just until the skein ran out.

I ended up with the equivalent of a large sleeve. I may seek the other skein of that color and make another. Connected the right way, and with some luck, it’s a kind of a shrug, lulz.

Taking a break until my elbow recovers, learning left-handed was pointless, I am right-dominant. Even with the left-handed method, I was doing most of the work with my right and had to repeatedly correct. If it continues to be a problem, I’ll just go right and consider it exercise.

I just shared a photo on Flickr and figure it’s a good point to take opinions on what to do with my ‘do?

Good pic to start the debate on whether to dye my hair again or let it grow out salt and pepper?
FWIW, I’ve vain about my hair and love the color my Goddess/Hair Stylist uses. But in saving funds for Hawaii adventures, I skipped a dye or two and am eyeing my roots now with doom in their future, but… should I let it continue to grow? It’s been 4 months almost. Maybe it was just the beauty overshadowing everything else in the picture, but I didn’t give a damn about the gray showing. I was like a kid with a bad haircut, completely immersed in what we were doing.
So much silver, but it’s kinky and coarse. I’d either end up chopping it or dredding it during grow out.
Thoughts?

Second Honeymoon

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Chooch, Exercise, Half-Marathon, Knitting, No Whining, Soulful

We lucked into a fantastically cheap but very brief “weekend” away. It actually began Sunday and ended on Tuesday when we packed up and left gorgeous Virginia Beach. It’s pretty chilly and deserted in early March, which suited us fine because it also meant fewer people. Besides, you just cannot beat the view if you’re an ocean lover.

We’ve been through a lot in recent months, with a lot more coming up and needed to recharge our batteries. We had no plans upon our arrival, although we had some toys to entertain ourselves, and just wanted to “be” without any demands. I don’t think I tweeted or FB’d much, except for a few DM’s to keep plans on track. The bass we brought for my lesson sat untouched and we didn’t even open Game of Thrones.

We emerged from a nasty rain storm, but the weather almost immediately turned sunny with temps in the mid-50’s. Warm enough for us, to be sure. Our hotel was beautiful and we even got a free bump to a larger, oceanfront room due to a low vacancy rate.  After hanging on our balcony and enjoying the sights, sounds and smells of the ocean and hanging in our room for a bit, we headed out for dinner at a place that I immediately envisioned Chooch’s band playing in, and would love to wave a magic wand and make that happen. (Ditched by Kate tours Virginia Beach? Sounds good to me!) We headed back and settled in for the night, door thrown open to hear the ocean in spite of the cold.

The next morning, I arose and headed out for a run. It was the single most invigorating run of my life, what with the view, the biting wind, and ocean sounds. My pace really suffered because I kept stopping to take pictures. With our “no plans” rule, I wasn’t sure that I’d make it back out with Chooch before we left so I took full advantage of having remembered my little all-weather camera.

I even found the spot from 2 (or was it 3?) years ago when I did a break-neck paced drive to Virginia Beach with a visiting friend from New Mexico. She’d never seen an ocean before, and I found that unacceptable. On the last day of her visit, we had just enough time to race down here, play in the sand for 15 minutes or so, and then race back to Reagan airport for her flight back home. It was a deliciously fun time, and reminded me of my teenage years where no plan was too crazy.

After my run yesterday, I inadvertently woke up Chooch when I returned to the room to stretch out my tight muscles. I ran for a bit on the sand for the first time, but even tougher was running into the very strong winds. My skin was very smooth after the sandblasting it got, but I don’t recommend it.

We got moving, and headed down for our complimentary restaurant breakfasts. (Did I mention this trip was cheap? That was partly due to breakfast being served until 11, which we decided meant we only had to pay for one meal each day.)

Chooch had some stuff going on at work, so we headed up to the room so he could plug in the laptop and get to it. We then remembered a beautiful spot next to the restaurant with an internet cafe/work stations so he grabbed his work stuff and I grabbed my knitting and we sat in this beautiful seating area with a wall of beach and ocean in front of us. Way better than a wall with a TV, don’t you think?

After that was done, we headed out to the aquarium. This is something that we do in every city we visit that has one, a tradition we started while dating with an aquarium on the Oregon Coast when I first visited him in 2002. Although it’s not terribly huge, we spent hours because we love marine life so much. Seals, jellyfish, sharks, rays, coral and all manner of underwater life were beautiful and charming as expected. I’d say the otters were the most fun to watch as they frolicked and played as only they can, but we also have a special affinity for turtles. My favorite was seeing both a pair of cardinals and the seahorses, for the significance they hold for me. <3

At this point, we were starving and we grabbed a tasty dinner and headed back to the hotel with some ice cream for later. (The room had a mini-fridge.) We chilled out with the ocean sounds serenading us and eventually we … well … it was romantic and all … so … we couldn’t resist… recording our podcast, Into the Blender. HA! You thought you were going to get some naughty time info, didn’t you? Not gonna happen, loveys! What happens in Virginia Beach stays in Virginia Beach. Mostly.

We actually are behind on our self-imposed bi-weekly schedule, partly because of my impromptu trip to Arkansas and partly due to social gatherings we committed to before I knew I would be traveling. So we sat and recorded enough content for either a two hour episode or three 45-ish minute episodes. The editing goal will be three episodes, which pleases me. I like having buffer for exactly the type of events that delayed our release this time.

Tuesday morning, I woke early, started writing this post and headed back to bed for a bit. We eventually got up, got ready for the day and grabbed our tasty free breakfast again. I grabbed some waffle sections from the buffet, and couldn’t help but giggle when the sign said “waffle sticks” as it brought to mind the South Park “fish sticks” bit. I shared that with hubby, and we recited the funniest joke of all time, slightly modified.

Joke Teller: “Do you like waffle sticks?”
Butt of Joke: “Yes.”
Joke Teller: “So you like to put waffle sticks in your mouth?”
Butt of Joke: “Yes.”
Joke Teller: “You are a gay waffle.”

Yes, that’s how my mind works on a romantic weekend. And yes, you should pity Chooch.

We then went for a walk on the beach, the first one for Chooch since we arrived. We went up to water’s edge, but I chose not to put my toes in considering how cold it was. We were bundled up in heavy coats and the wind was strong and stinging. We took some photos and walked along the beach as I wanted to show him a Neptune sculpture further down the boardwalk.

We chatted, cleaned up some trash on the beach and met a beautiful and loving dog that was being walked by the family that rescued him from near death by an abusive owner. The dog, Russell, was part Akita and part … breeds I don’t recall. Lookit, he was sweet and beautiful, I was distracted. Check out the photos below to see how he looks now. Shockingly, he was only 17 pounds when the family rescued him a few years ago and is now healthy and content with just a few remaining behavioral issues, none of which we witnessed. I’d have never guessed how terrible a start he’d had in this life if they hadn’t told us.

Being so close to the air base, every time a plane went overhead Chooch would look up and announce what type it was. After marveling at the Neptune statue, we made our way back to the car. It was a beautiful ending to our trip, as Chooch drove home and we hammered out some story ideas.

Home now, I refuse to sulk that it’s over. Instead, I choose to be joyful that we had this time away from most of the demands of our life and I feel even more in love and dedicated to my husband than ever before. I already was, but somehow feel those things even stronger, which I didn’t think was possible. We just needed to unclench from the stress we were feeling and experiencing and knew this was our only chance for a very long time. We also knew we’d never be able to do it this cheaply again, so dove in.

I feel more than grateful for him and our life together, and suggest that if you can steal a few moments away for yourself, either with or without a loved one, just to luxuriate in unstructured playtime, you should definitely do it. Take a day or two and slow down, sleep, relax and just be. It will serve you beautifully, at least it has for us.

I’ve loaded a bunch of photos (90 or so), about a quarter of those we took. There are also some videos. Most of the collection is from the Virginia Aquarium at Virginia Beach. Note: The very last photo is prolly NSFW or kids, but it is jokey in nature. I’ve marked it as restricted, but you’ll be able to view it if you click that you want to.

Saying Yes to Exercise and No to NaNo

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Books, Dizzy, Exercise, Health, Hobby, No Whining, Work

It’s National Novel Writing Month, which is a program that tries to get folks that want to write a novel motivated enough to put aside excuses and start writing. There are a few general rules, but it boils down to solo writing a minimum of 50,000 words of a new story in 30 days. It’s held every November and you can find much more information and still join at www.nanowrimo.org. And don’t fret about already being behind. There’s no such thing as being ahead or behind, in my opinion. It’s too easy to catch up or fall behind to either beat yourself up or take it easy. Just keep writing and don’t stress about word counts.

It’s a fantastic program, with tons of support, tips and advice available on their forums. I participated in 2008 and 2009, having won in 2009. By the way, winning simply means that you were able to write 50,000 words. I cannot recommend this adventure highly enough. Many write to have a novel to publish or podcast, but mine was purely cathartic. I will never show the novel to anyone other than my hubby, but it is still something I’m extremely proud of having written. It healed some uglies on my inside, which was the point.

This year, between college courses, doing freelance work for Patrick McLean, managing my health issues and a household, my schedule is very tight and I’m very behind on everything. That is why I decided over a month ago that I wasn’t going to do NaNoWriMo. Then I got this idea for a story that has been tinkling in the back of my mind, nearly constantly. I decided to try NaNo, even though knew that I wouldn’t win. There’s just not enough time. I figured any words I got down by tapping into the collective community support would be a win in my situation. Besides, I won last year when I was just starting down the path of finding out what my illness was, so why not?

Why not? Well, in my time calculations, I left out exercise. My work outs take a big toll on my day. The exercise time itself isn’t so bad, but the recovery time after I exercise is the big time suck. I’m dizzy, migraine-y and extremely fatigued so I just grab a tall cool drink and relax until the extreme symptoms pass. It can take anywhere from half an hour to two hours for this to happen before I can resume my day. On rare occasions, it doesn’t pass and my day is shot, other than being proud of myself for the workout.

My total exercise time includes stretching, anywhere from 40 minutes to an hour on the street or up to 90 minutes on the recumbent bike (when I’m too dizzy to run, I just hold on and pedal), stretching after, the Hundred Push-Up Challenge, core stretches and 100 or more crunches. This is every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. After class on Tuesdays and Thursdays I take long neighborhood walks (3 mile minimum), do arm weights and floor work (stretches/crunches/core work). I try and do a long walk at least one day on the weekend, but that rarely works out with our busy schedule of late. If anything is planned for the afternoon or evening I just can’t risk having to cancel if my symptoms don’t clear up.

I follow this schedule as closely as I can. On average, I have to cancel a workout a few times a week because of a migraine or dizziness that has me nauseous. Last week, I only worked out four days instead of the planned six. Because of the unpredictable variable, I give my all when I work out, reminding myself that it may be the last one for several days.

I am nearly ALWAYS dizzy after a workout, sometimes leading to a migraine and/or extreme fatigue and sometimes not. This is the reason I gave up going to the track. It’s not safe to drive after I exercise because of the dizziness, so I only do neighborhood workouts now.

Now, I did attempt some writing on Monday, which was the start of NaNoWriMo. I spent most of the time researching my naming convention for my characters but did manage to get a little over 200 words down. I was happy for that, as I needed to get the image down before I forgot it. Migraine had me put it away at that point.

Yesterday was extreme dizziness and migraine, so I missed class and skipped exercise. No words written as any amount of time on the computer and the bright glow from it spiked the brain pain and the meds were completely useless. I was starting to stress over getting even my reduced goals met. It occurred to me that I could regain some time for writing by cutting back on exercise. When I realized that was the only way to find writing time, I knew it was time to walk away from NaNo this year. Exercise is the only thing that brings me any sense of normalcy right now. Even though it has gotten to extreme levels of illness, my doctor fully endorses it and believes as I do that improving my overall health will make my life better.

I still have some writing to do before I put it away. There are some scenes that I’ve got to get typed up before I forget them. And I would like to name all the characters, as I think that will help give them flavor as I give the story itself time to simmer away in the back of my mind.

As I planned a few months ago, I’ll likely pick a month in the Spring as my own personal NaNoWriMo. November is hell for this type of thing, in my life anyways, with the holidays so close that you can taste them. And plan for them. And clean for them. And decorate, and stress, and… you get the idea.

Reply in the comments if you’d like to write along with me in the Spring. April has thirty days, right?

My Very First Painting

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Cooking, Firsts, Hobby, No Whining

I’ve had a bunch of art supplies that belonged to my Mother. My Dad passed them on to me after she passed away a few years ago, probably because she and I had talked about taking a painting class together. She was very skilled but rusty, and I’d never painted beyond the crap you do for art class in school. We never got to do that and I guess my  Dad thought it would be cool for me to have them now. I’ve moved them around three or four times, but never opened them up. In 2008 it was even one of my goals for that year.

I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately, and even talked to Jen, a dear new friend, about it one night a few weeks ago. She encouraged and emboldened me and I decided to give it a try. I pushed myself into doing it this weekend because of my “No Whining” post last week.

The plans Chooch and I had for today got nixed because I’ve been sick most of the day, up and down with dizziness and fighting a migraine. It’s been a rough day, and add to that some bad news and the fact that I had to miss out on a party tonight where he and his band were playing. Serious bummer. I wasn’t up to doing anything new, but I made myself go downstairs and see if anything happened.

I ended up doing a painting, and I’m pretty happy with it. Nothing exciting or earth-shattering, but I definitely vibed on my Mom and my son NB while I was at it and it has a special meaning to me. I haven’t decided if it’s finished or not. I’ll look at it tomorrow and decide if I want to add anything as I first intended, but I may leave it as is.

Oh, and I made potato salad for the first time, too. Thanks to my great friend Andrea for her tip on making the best I’ve ever tasted. Mine isn’t as good, but it’s still okay.

Farpoint 2010

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Chooch, Convention Attendance, Dizzy, Knitting, Podcast, Twitter/Facebook

Chooch and I treated each other to Farpoint attendance this year as our Valentine’s Day gifts. Yes, it was waaaaay more than we normally spend for this corporate holiday, but due to the double blizzard whammy and extreme cabin fever we couldn’t resist the lure of friends and stars all gathered together into one big awesome pile of humanity.

Our last minute issue was whether or not the replacement wires for my heart monitor would arrive on Friday so we could leave early on Saturday to get our money’s worth out of the con. It’s not a cheap one at a door price of $75 for the weekend, plus the sharing of room costs with our dear friend Thomas, aka The Command Line. The package arrived on Friday, Hooray for Baldrick! *ahem* Sorry, Chooch has been playing his dvd set “The Black Adder” as our new lullaby as a break from “Seinfeld”.

We got there, and immediately walked right into our friends and luckily in time for Command Line’s panel which included some other friends, Marc Bailey (aka Grailwolf), Nobilis, and Paul Fischer. I was sad that his amazing wife and daughter could not attend due to illness but glad for the time with Paul. My bestie, M.A. in PA, and her hubby Dan Tabor arrived during the panel. It was also attended by our besties Heather Welliver and Grailpup, who are Marc Bailey’s wife and son (for those unfortunate enough not to know who they are).

We attended the Q&A discussion by Felicia Day, and she was as charming and adorable as ever. I had a question I wanted to ask her, but was having some of my health issues and decided against it as I didn’t want to end up stuttering and stumbling while speaking. There were many fantastic questions, and she was extremely entertaining. More later on this fey creature.

Dinner at Bertucci’s with Command Line, MAinPA, Dan, Chooch and myself and we were later joined by Paul Fischer. It was a delightful meal, primarily because of the company. Yes, the food was good but the conversations we have would make any meal enjoyable.

We attended the Masquerade, which was a first for Chooch and I at any con. We intended on staying only for the beginning, which our friends (Fantastic Foe, aka @patman23 on Twitter along with his beautiful wife Lisa and their endearing daughter ‘G’) would be in but ended up staying through a good portion simply because the costumes were so amazing! Our friends were actually there during the entire Masquerade, serving as The Ninjas that were assisting the participants with getting off stage and they even did an adorable but brief performance when they were introduced! They were fantastic and I’m really glad they lured us there with their presence. We left the Masquerade to take some pix of our friends and ended up wandering a bit and making our way back down to the Masquerade in time to see the most exciting auction of the night!

While waiting for the judges to determine the winners, an auction was held to raise funds for Vietnam Veterans of America. The previous two years had earned $3,000 each and the auctioneer was hoping to match or beat that. The real excitement came during the bidding for the coveted ‘Lunch with Felicia Day’ which had a proxy bid was $300.  As Thomas, Chooch and I watched in amazement the bidding continued and finally was won at $5,000! It was amazing to see, especially as Ms. Day was obviously blown away by the amounts being bid for, as she reminded the bidders, ‘just lunch’. She was blushing adorably, but occasionally vamped a bit in an effort to raise the bidding. The gentleman that won the auction was the subject of tweets and conversation for the rest of the weekend. Well done for a wonderful cause!

Afterward, Chooch, Thomas and I luckily were unable to find seating at the hotel bar. I say luckily, because we headed into the dining room instead and ran into a table filled with hawesome (Grailwolf, Heather, Grailpup, Laura Burns, John Cmar and Helen Madden) and joined them. We ended up staying for several hours having a raucous good time. We even experienced the debut of The Green Boner, much to our horror. Laura showed me some of her favorite knitting sites and books, which was a boon for this knitting noob! When actor Lee Arenberg walked through the restaurant we made eye contact and he said hello. He’s officially now my homeboy, right?!?  A few drinks and countless giggles later we split off and headed back to our hotel for an exciting adventure in parking in a snow-filled lot.

Next day found us at breakfast at the hotel restaurant, and I was anxious to get in line for the Felicia Day signing opportunity. When we met her, I was able to ask my question about resources for fun/funky/geeky knitting projects but having put her on the spot she was unable to think of any. It was otherwise a wonderful chat, and we were able to get a better picture with her than we got at Dragon*Con.  As we talked, she said she remembered our conversation back then so am assuming that we are now BFF’s.  I’m relieved to report that I didn’t embarrass myself as much as I did at D*C, when I ‘fangirled’ all over the place. Lookit, I’m growing! We also got a copy of Season 2 of The Guild signed, but there were no copies of Season 3 available yet, sadly.

We visited the Dealer Room, and made some purchases. I was thrilled to discover cartoonist Kevin Bolk and his hilarious comics “Watchbabies” (if the Watchmen were babies), “I’m My Own Mascot”, and “Wookie-Ookies” (Star Wars done with babies). All are creative, intelligent and beautifully done so I bought those items and Mr. Bolk was kind enough to sign them for us. I love finding unexpected new things such as this, and it made the trip through the Dealer Room well worth the time invested.

We later lined up to meet Lee Arenberg. He was delightful and it was a real pleasure to chat with him. We talked about all manner of topics, and he was charming and a truly fun guy! I was sad later when I realized that I forgot to mention our BFF moment in the restaurant the night before. He even gave me his email address to send him a link to our podcast, due to his interest in the topic of blended families. Score!

Our other sightings included Mira Furlan and Sam Witwer. I didn’t recognize the latter when he got on and then off our elevator and then got back off when he realized when we were going up rather than down. He only registered as being ‘teh cexce’ to me at that time, which he definitely is! Ms. Furlan was also there and while I spotted her several times, I didn’t get to meet her.

We caught the tail end of Command Line’s panel Copyright or Copywrong with Steve Wilson and Marc Okrand. I wish we could have met them as well, but they both bolted off in different directions after the panel. We grabbed Thomas, M.A., and Dan and headed out for a tasty lunch at Baja Fresh and returned in time for Dan’s interview with Ms. Day for his wonderfully written blog series on Geekadelphia. I cannot wait to read it, as he was very happy with the interview itself! Dan the Fan? Piffle. Dan the MAN!

Many enjoyable hours in the atrium were spent with friends between panels, events and meals. Laura brought in her case of packed full of BPAL and her knitting and I was very envious of both. Later I got another quick knitting lesson from M.A., this time on purling. Turns out my previous attempts were correct, but I needed M.A. to guide me through it anyways.  All the time spent with friends between other events truly made the weekend even more special. We returned home exhausted but exhilarated with our filled heart containers.

Playing with Yarn

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Chooch, Friends, Hobby, Knitting

Years ago, I wanted to learn how to knit but was overwhelmed at the complexity and lack of people who could teach me. I tried crochet instead and did a decent job of it making a few scarves and two blankets (unfinished edges).

Now that I’m stuck at home, usually in a chair or bed due to the dizziness, I considered starting to crochet again. A conversation with my dear friend M.A. got me going on knitting. She’s an accomplished knitter and thought I might enjoy the conversion from crochet to knitting. While she was staying with us in order to attend the memorial service for another dear friend, we zipped off to the craft store to get the basic supplies including a “How To…” kit. She had to leave shortly after that, so we never really got a chance for a tutorial.

I became very frustrated with the instruction guide in the “How To…” kit, and gave up after a few tries. The book just was not translating into action for me. She said she had a book for me to borrow, and to bring my supplies along the next time we met up for a tutorial. A few weeks later, we were at Tee Morris’ home and we stole away for a quick 10 minute lesson sitting in the hatchback of my CRV. It was much quieter than inside the house, and we needed some ‘us’ time regardless. In spite of her belief that she’s a terrible teacher, she had me casting on and stitching wobbly stitches in no time!

I was very grateful, but warned her not to expect much progress since I would likely get home and have forgotten what she showed me. To my great luck, she lent me her autographed copy of the Stitch ‘n Bitch book to keep me going.

After getting home, I was confused again. Which hand held the stitches after they were cast on? I remembered the basic movements, but not the finer details. I tentatively reached for the lent book, and started reading. I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed the non-instructional introduction. It’s a lovely story, and at one point I got teary eyed. Even if I’d not learned a thing on knitting I enjoyed the book.

Thanks to the hands-on time with M.A. and the detailed and logically phrased guidance from the book I was soon mangling the yarn in a somewhat continuing pattern. I was practicing my stitches and learning from trial and error, not really concerning myself with what it looked like other than as a learning opportunity. At one point I had several rows that looked much nicer than the previous, so I unraveled the whole nightmare and started fresh. I was pretty amazed at how neat it looked, and how much quicker (still slow) I was stitching.

That was a couple weeks ago, and since then I’ve knit two scarves. On the first, I had Chooch select the yarn he wanted for a ’2 hour scarf’ patter that I found from the Lion Brand Yarn site. I still get email from my crocheting days, so just wound up browsing their site. I used size 19 knitting needles, with two strands of the Wool-Ease Thick and Quick. Normally I’d have gone for a fancier acrylic for more color options at our local store, but M.A. had explained the basics of the different yarns and with a blizzard forecast I wanted to make sure the would stay warm.

On the second, I was actually looking for yarn for a friend that asked me to make one for her. When I laid my eyes on the the white Wool-Ease Jiffy with a white metallic thread, I quickly decided that I had to make this scarf for a different person. That scarf is now finished, and I can get back to the one for the other friend.

I bought a bunch more yarn, and already have a long list of projects in my head. I don’t plan on making sweaters or socks, they are too intimidating. I previously crocheted a hat, so may try that soon. I also want to crochet something again, just to compare the two processes and results. Crocheting for me is ‘easier’ in that I only have to really pay attention to one hook rather than two needles, but I think I’m enjoying the results of the knitting better.

I’m posting various pictures of what I’ve used and my results. Next up? Stripes!