Thursday, March 29, 2007

Actual Knitting Content!!!

First of all, Happy Spring!!!

So, now I have some knitting to show you.

This is a small shoulder shawl that I made for my Mom. It's done in Lorna's Laces alpaca. I sort of had to design something that would lend itself to the length of yarn I had. (I have no idea where I got the yarn. There it was in my stash, and I wanted to use it.) For the side lace I used a double-wide version of Branching Out with a 10-stitch border on each side. The back is a single panel of the Branching Out lace with decreasing stockinette stitch to make a triangle.

At the end there is a tube on one side through which is pulled the other side which is basically reduced to a ribbed strip. It stays closed all by itself, but I'm going to try to find a nice shawl pin or something as an accent.

I've started on this for The Daughter from Debbie Bliss'Summer Essentials.
The pattern is written for Cathay-- which I "heart", but I'm knitting it in Jaeger Aqua in a pretty light teal color. It's a bit difficult to tell from the picture, but it's basically a 1X1 rib up to mid-chest when an upside down V is formed with 1x3 ribbing up the sides of the /\.
I love the fabric it makes--nice drape and shiny, but it's a little rough on the fingers. I chose to try this fiber because although I'm most fond of Cathay, it splits a LOT and starts to drive me a bit bonkers after awhile. The other surprise is that to get gauge, I'm knitting it on 3's!!! Yes-- THREEs I tell you-- which are the very high end of what I will ever use for socks, but definitely not what I'm accustomed to knitting larger garments with.

Katie-- are you proud of me??

In order to save my fingers a bit, I've also started a little baby sweater in a wonderful chocolate Cashmarino Chunky. It's for one of not-yet-born twins. The sister will get one in that yummy Cashmarino peachy color. Both will have accents in cream-- probably overstitched.

In other news, I've been off for a few days trying to make some progress toward housal organization.
I spent 2 days here with the tile guys. We had our kitchen retiled about 3 years ago, and unfortunately, the guy who spoke almost only Korean couldn't communicate well with the guy who spoke almost only Spanish, and there were some sections that came loose. So, the tiles were placed and grouted, and our kitchen doesn't seem as much like it's in a falling-apart house any more.

I've done some good work on sorting out clothes-- donate, pitch, save. I started to rein in the yarn stash. I have visions of organization. I am armed with large zipper bags, vacuum storage bags and plastic box containers. I have made progress. I will forge ahead. I will succeed.

Unfortunately, my back started giving me trouble on Friday afternoon. With so much that I had hoped to accomplish, it's really disappointing, because I really can't move much without quite a bit of pain. Despite massive quantities of ibuprofen, heat, cold, moderate amounts of tylenol, I fear I might have to go to the doctor. Of course, you know what that means-- as soon as I get there it'll stop hurting. I keep hoping it'll calm down on its own. I have until tomorrow, because it's back to work on Wednesday.

Knit Happen's own Michael delVecchio is on Knitty Gritty tomorrow:
details here:Knitty Gritty.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The Road To Hana

Hana is a beautiful little town on Maui. There are three ways to get there-- by boat, by air, or via the Road to Hana.

This road is not for the faint of heart. If you choose to drive it, you'll be navigating back-to-back hairpin turns. I went on a little bus, so I got to watch up close as we made the back-to-back hairpin turns.

Our driver knew a place that had really good banana bread-- I had some hot out of the oven. It was amazing.

The weather was generally pretty nice during our trip, but since it IS, after all, winter, there was some rain almost every day (and therefore bazillions of rainbows). And sometimes a bit windy.

Check out these plants just growin' on the side of the road.

Do you get an idea of how large they are?

I saw a few waterfalls-- one around almost every one of those turns.

Beyond Hana is a little church.
In the churchyard is the final resting place of Charles Lindberg.

It was an amazing day. We got back to the ship a bit later than scheduled. The Parents got a phone call from the front desk asking if I was onboard, since we were supposed to get underway, and I hadn't scanned back in yet. Nor were 20 of my new closest friends.

This is one really good reason to use the line-endorsed shore excursions.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

So Wouldn't Ya Think

That being back from my wonderful vacation, I'd have been blogging all over the place about it and posting pictures for your viewing pleasure?

You would think... However, I got super-zapped with a super cold ON MY FIRST DAY BACK TO WORK!!! I am, however (love that word, "however") very grateful that whatever bug decided to bug me had the good grace to wait til my trip was over. Having said that, I had 4 shifts in a row (my choice) and was rather wiped out. I had a couple of days off-- mostly spent sleeping-- and then a couple more work days.

Y'know what they say about colds-- 3 days coming, 3 days with you, 3 days going. I've logged 3 packages of zinc, uncounted ibuprofens, numerous hot lemonades, a couple of boxes of tissues, and although I resisted as long as possible, the minimum amount of sudafed needed to make breathing possible. The toughest part of the whole thing was having to wear a mask at work in order to protect my patients and co-workers. (It would be awful to put them at risk.)

I'm past the 3 days going, and have only residual sniffles. So I'm there. And I'd best catch up.


The entire state of Hawaii is amazing. Every time I turned around there were mountains,
Beautiful gardens.

Magical, mystical (and sometimes semi-obscene looking) natural structures that are the basis of myths and folklore.

These pics were from Maui-- we toured around the island and thoroughly enjoyed the sights, the history, the wonderful people.

The Ocean Center had all the native fish-- including some (thankfully) small sharks.

Did I Mention Rainbows?

We Went to a Luau. I Ate Poi.

These rather hunky looking guys are taking the kalua pig (method of cooking-not coffee liqueur) out of the pit. It was amazing. At the risk of offending my North Carolina brethern and sistern, it is even better. These same rather hunky looking guys did fire dances.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Thoughts at 3 a.m.

1. Why am I awake? Is it because I got blindsided by Daylight Savings yesterday, and fell asleep as soon as I got home from work Sunday night?

2. Do other people watch DVR episodes featuring Hitler's bunker at this hour? I already watched the History Channel episodes on the Lombards and Goths.

3. My eyes won't focus well enough to let me knit. What a waste of time.

4. This would be less stressful if I didn't have to leave for work in 3 hours.

5. I sure am glad that I've got a few days off later in the week.

6. When I'm more functional, I'll do another Hawaii posting.

7. I need to drink some ginger ale.

That is all.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

As Promised...

How I Spent My Mid-Winter Vacation

I decided that I’ll have to break up the Hawaii report into a couple of entries. It was just too amazing to handle in one posting.

(Disclaimer: I'm not being compensated by Wehrli World Travel, Norwegian Cruise Lines, Marriott Hotels, Polynesian Travel or the State of Hawaii. I'm just telling you what we did)

I had one wonderful trip to Aloha-Land. I went to The Parents’ house for a couple of days before the trip, and we flew directly from Chicago to Honolulu. We left this (those aren't clouds-- it's snow, y'all):

And arrived to this:

Having a Great Travel Agent- Priceless
Our wonderful travel agent, Sue, did a great job of setting everything up. While I really enjoy doing it all myself, it was great to not have to worry about the little things like schlepping our luggage, worrying about how to get to hotel and ship etc. The Parents are in their 80’s, and I’m no spring chicken, so having the transfers, hotel etc packaged with the cruise et al made life much easier.

Sue is in the Chicagoland area. If you’re in the market for travel planning, I can highly recommend her. I don’t know if she does long-distance services, but with telephones and email, you might drop her an email or give her a call. The Parents have used her services for years, and have never been disappointed.)

Why a Cruise in Hawaii?

There are a bunch of islands, and if you want to see several of them, you have a couple of options. You can fly from island to island, or you can visit on a cruise ship. On the one hand, pack, fly, check into hotel, unpack, pack, check out of hotel, fly, check into hotel, unpack— rinse and repeat as needed. You get the picture.

On the other hand, board ship, unpack, pack, travel around, leave ship and fly home. Meals are included, and it ends up being a lot less stressful.

Advantage= cruise.

About the CruiseLine

Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL America division) is the only cruiseline that has US flagged ships (Pride of America, Pride of Hawaii and Pride of Aloha). These three ships can stay in the Hawaiian islands without having to go to a foreign port. If you are planning to cruise in Hawaii, and you want to go to another island in the Pacific, there are other NCL and ships from other lines that do that, and it adds a couple of days (and a few dollars) to your trip. But if you want maximum time in Hawaii, and fewer at-sea days, then the NCL America ships are the way to go.

Thursday: It’s an 8 hour flight from Chicago to Honolulu. We flew on United. When I printed our boarding passes, it showed a full flight. Apparently they blocked a bunch of the seats, because we weren’t more than 2/3 full. It was great to be able to stretch out for that long flight. We were met at the airport and transported to the Marriott Waikiki Beach. Norwegian Cruise Line has an office in the hotel, and we were pre-boarded for the cruise as soon as we arrived. This is huge. Norwegian also has pre-briefings on land excursions if you get to Honolulu a day or so early. We were pretty tired, so after dinner we hit the sack. Here's the view from the balcony of our room:

Friday: A bus picked us up to take us to breakfast and a briefing about shore excursions. I had my doubts about the value of this, figuring they wanted to sell us something—which they did, but it was really valuable; time well spent in planning our time in Hawaii. We took an afternoon bus to the Polynesian Cultural Center. It’s quite an interesting place.

It’s run by Brigham Young Hawaii Campus, and students from all the islands demonstrate aspects of their culture including traditions, crafts, dances and music (and food). It’s sort of work/study, and the admission fees cover tuition.

A word about Shore Excursions

In Hawaii, the ports are not where the action (or the beautiful scenery) is. Unless you want to stay on the ship (not a bad option if you want to relax and enjoy the ship-- something to be said for that) or visit the numerous tourist shops that seem to crop up near the ports, you’ll want to get out into the island. You can certainly do a lot of these on your own. Rental cars are available, and it will cost less. The disadvantages are that you don’t get the information you’d get from the tourguides—who with one exception were terrific. You also have to focus on driving, and will miss some of the always spectacular landscape. The other possible disadvantage is that the ships sail on schedule—although they’ll wait for late returners IF you’re on one of their tours.

The disadvantage to shore excursions is that they are a bit pricey (although I consider it money well spent), you may visit more macadamia nut and coffee farms than you care to, and some of the knee space is not great.

Saturday: We were up at the crack of dawn. We left our luggage in the room (it was picked up and magically appeared at our stateroom) and boarded a bus for the Arizona Memorial.

As a Navy veteran, it was very moving to me. This is the stack of the Arizona. You can still see drops of fuel oil that come up to the surface. It's hard to talk without choking up when I think of it.

After the Arizona, we had a little tour around the Honolulu area, including a trip to Peli—VERY WINDY up there.

Then to the ship:

We boarded the ship, and our statroom was amazing. The Parents had a room with a king-sized bed (two singles put together).

I had a sitting room with a window, and a seat that folded out to a bed.
When the bed was opened, it took up the entire room, which was just fine with me. There was a living room area with another couch that folded out.
And then there was our balcony. We were on the port side completely aft, and our balcony curved around our room. (Pictures of that maybe tomorrow). We were underway at 8 pm.

Sunday: Hilo. An early rising, and then on a bus to Volcano National Park.

It was like looking at a moonscape—rocks, lava, and then there were the steam vents and sulfur pools. These are still active—having erupted in 1984.

And then to Rainbow Falls.

We got underway that evening, and sailed past Kiluea where lava continues to flow into the ocean.

That orange stuff is lava.