Thursday, June 28, 2007

Hey-- It's Hot Out There!

Out camping with the Girl Scouts, that is...

I did the First Aider thing with a really great group of girls. And it was hot. Dripping hot. I can hardly breathe because the air is so thick hot.

It happens on this day EVERY year!

It all turned out all right-- no catastrophes, and I actually got some sleep last night.

I also got some knitting done on the Leaf & Tendril sock. I hadn't been able to knit for a week, so I was a Happy Nurse.

I really enjoy being with the girls, and spending time with women who share my belief that we are contributing to the best hope for another generation of strong women who will change the world.

Tomorrow-- a review of "What I've Been Reading."

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Freedom is Not Free

The price I paid for being able escape to Blacksburg = concentrated work for a major chunk of this week.

77 hours in 7 days. Not complaining-- I'm the one who scheduled this.

But I'm pretty tuckered out.

Good thing I like this stuff...

Tomorrow= Camping with the Girl Scouts.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Wow—What a Weekend

It included several of my favorite things-- VT Hokies, Knitting and Knitters, and Baseball.

I left work at 8:30 p.m. on Friday and made it to Blacksburg in 4 hours 10 minutes. Yes, I know….

Saturday aka Hokie Healing Day:

I woke up Saturday, got my stuff together (Chibi's, scissors, ibuprofen...) and went to Starbucks since I won't be back for awhile and didn’t want to open a new can of coffee. I noticed activity at Mosaic, and saw the crew, Gina, Sandy, Mimi, Belinda, Debbie and others loading up squares, silent auction items, goodie bags, so lent a hand take stuff to the VT Alumni center.

What a time we had!!!

Gina and her crew did a really great job setting things up. We sort of spontaneously made little work groups, and it all came together.
There was coffee-- Hurrah!!! and cookies, sandwiches, barbecue (from Top of The Stairs). YUM!!!

The goodie bags were great fun-- I wish I'd taken a picture of mine. It had a tube of Bioque cleanser and little samples of all the products to make us beautiful, a packet of coffee from Starbuck's, a Red Bull, yarn (mine was Elsebeth Lavold silk and wool in a really pretty golden tweed), "naked" yarn and Kool-Aid in Hokie colors to try one's hand at dyeing, coupons for $$ off at Firehouse Pizza and a free pass to the health club, and best of all, a 25% coupon off yarn at Mosaic. And there was probably more that I can't remember right now.

The silent auction was a kick, too. There were some amazing items-- a full set of full-sized Bioque products, numerous autographed knitting pattern books (I got one by Debbie Bliss and the "no sheep for you" book that I'd been eyeballing), some lovely Lantern Moon bags and needle cases, a Hanne Falkenberg shawl that I drooled over but forced myself to resist, and so on. There were also a bunch of door prizes. I won a gift card to the nail shop across from Mosaic which I gave to Suzanne who's going to be in a wedding next month.

Look at all these squares—Before

And After.
Go to the Mosaic site for lots more pictures.
I just had to get a picture of Debbie and me in our Hokies United t-shirts. Over 115,000 have been sold-- and if you want one, you'd better order soon...

We finished 16 of the quilts. People took the rest of the 32 home to finish, and took additional squares to make more quilts.

It was really neat to see some of my squares sewn in with others for this wonderful project. Gina had hoped for 2000 squares. They received over 6000 from all the states and something like 16 countries!

I thought about all the different knitters and crocheters who had contributed—I wonder about their lives—do they have small children? Are they great-grandmothers? Do they have professional careers? Are they the service people that make our lives livable? Did they knit all day to fill their hours, or did they squeeze in a few minutes each night before going to sleep?

Every stitch is a prayer. I wonder how many millions of stitches, and how many thousands of hours went into the contributions for the Hokie Healing project.

I met some really neat people—and unfortunately, I can’t remember all the names. Some who have remained in my brain are Kathy and her mom Charlotte, Suzanne, and Nancy (who will be moving up this way soon). (If I met you and can't remember your name, please email me-- my mind is a terrible thing to lose.....)

I took a couple of the quilts back to the condo with me to crochet around the edges. It was nice, contemplative work, fueled by a couple of glasses of wine and some movies on the tube.

I woke up, ready to finish the second border, but needing some coffee. So I was getting ready to throw on some jeans and head down to Starbuck’s, when I remembered that they had donated 1-pot bags of coffee grounds for the goodie bags! Hurrah!!!! So I put on a movie, drank coffee, and finished quilt 2.

I spent much of Sunday at Mosaic with Mimi, and got another border completed. It was lovely to just sit and chat, crochet and watch the shop activity.

When the shop closed, I went over to campus and walked around. They’re putting in a semi-permanent memorial in front of Burress Hall that echoes the spontaneous memorial placed there by the students.

I am continually impressed by the sensitivity and respect for the students displayed by the leadership of Virginia Tech. How thoughtful to include student representation on the committee that planned this, and how they honor not only the victims, but the students by echoing the design that evolved in the location on the drillfield that has come to be so significant for so many. This memorial will be in place until a more permanent one is constructed, and the Hokie stones will be offered to the families when the semi-permanent memorial is dismantled.

After I dried some tears, I headed over to PK’s for a brew (the cold, wet kind) and some buffalo chicken. I just love that place.

When I’m in Blacksburg, it's usually pretty busy, so I took the opportunity to just drive around. The road past our condo gets really rural, really fast. I enjoyed driving along the very winding road, up and down through the mountains. There were creeks, and horses, farms, interesting little cottages and large houses… and I kept thinking of how nice it would be to live here, and wondered what it would be like to drive on this road during a blizzard in the winter.

I completed about 1-1/2 borders, then to bed.

I woke up and finished the second border without benefit of coffee. Rugged. I took the 2 bordered quilts in to Mosaic (with the Loopy Ewe-- who is on vacation...) and then headed north.

I had a very pleasant drive up I-81 and across I-66 to meet up with friends and co-workers for the Nationals' game against Detroit. Our Nurse Executive invited a whole bunch of us-- and we had a super time. The game itself was a bit sad until the 8th inning when the Nationals got in gear, not quite grasping the game from the jaws of defeat, but coming out looking rather respectable in a 9-8 loss.

I wore my new "Knitting for Healing" t-shirt.

And then I went home.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

How I Spent My Saturday

Knitting in public on the Metro, and

With about 120,000 friends from all around the country.

Some of you know that I'm active with the Girl Scouts, and this year marks the 95th birthday of the largest women's volunteer organization in the world. In the past I've been a troop leader for all levels except Daisies (the kindergarteners), and now I work in positions helping the adult volunteers. One favorite service is as a "First Aider". I was a Red Cross First Aider for many years, and now I fill the role as a nurse. In addition to serving at events such as this, I go on campouts when first aid presence is needed.

Be Prepared:

A Gentle Pitch
If you're in the Nation's Capital area, and have an itching to work with the Girl Scout Organization, or if you're an ol' Girl Scout anywhere in the country who would like to register as an Alumna, go ahead and contact the council. There are opportunities to work with girls, or if that's not your thing, to do support activities, paperwork assistance, teach outdoor skills, first aid, helping area groups with money management, be the "extra adult"-- no matter what your strengths and interests, there's a place for you. And there's not a better way to be a part of helping girls become responsible adults.

Of course, we have a lot of fun, while teaching girls independence. Check out these two from Connecticut:

There's Even Room for Knitting
One of the most fun times I had was when I was a Day Camp Unit Leader for Cadettes. This can be a really tough group, and I was very concerned, and not too eager at first. Silly me. The theme for the week was women's history, and one of the activities we were encouraged to explore was learning a craft that was important years ago. Well, of course you can guess that I decided to teach the young lovelies to knit!!!

This could have gone really really well, or really really badly. In preparation, I overplanned activities so we could quickly switch away if it bombed.

I was so happy that it went well.

Being on a rather tight budget, Addi Turbo's, Lantern Moons, and even Clovers weren't in the plan. I purchased dowels-- probably about size 10's, and sharpened them in an old pencil sharpener that came with the house. This was for 15 girls, by the way. (There were a couple of blisters on my thumb and hand that are probably now healing after 5 years.) I started to sand the tips, and then decided to let the girls do it-- good decision! I think the girls took pride in working on their own tools. We glued on ends (I think they were toy car wheels from the wood section at Michaels). And then taught them to knit using donated bulky craft yarn.

I was thrilled at how they embraced the craft. By the end of the week, they even learned to cast on. I learned a lot about teaching knitting to kids, and I learned that I could love even a group of middle-school girls. The night before camp ended, I was at Michaels, and found some close-out knitting needles-- REAL needles-- for $1.00 a pair. So I was able to give each of the girls a pair, and closed out my stash of Wool-Ease.

And Then Some Grown-Up Time

It was hot and sunny. White Girl Need Shade!!! So I took the Metro back, picked up a Raspberry Crystal Lite Slurpee at the 7-11, and drove to KnitHappens where I spent a couple of hours with
Holly and Kelly. They have some cool new stuff, including some shawl pins that I am definitely going to buy several of (some wooden, some carved bone), and some nifty new yarns. I'm still working on the top for The Daughter, but I need to go in small increments because the Jaeger Aqua is a tightly spun cotton with no give that is a bit hard on the fingers for closely knit projects-- but it's gorgeous.

I've been working on the Leaf Tendril sock from Socks Soar on Two Circulars, using Ellen's Half Pint Farm sock yarn that I got at MSW. I really love the colors, and I think that the 1/2 Merino, 1/2 Tencel blend will make them durable.
The pattern isn't difficult, once you decipher Cat Bordhi's sometimes cryptic pattern-writing. This toe-up pattern is different from those I've done before, and the toes are somewhat pointy, even after I stuffed them for the picture. I have rather squared-off feet. But we'll see. I don't feel like frogging this, and I have lots of relatives and close friends with skinny, pointy feet who could use them if they don't work for me. I usually use the short-row start for Wendy's Generic Toe-Up Socks. Next time, I'll stick with a sure thing, use Wendy's toe, and continue on with the other pattern.

(Go, Wendy!!!!)

How I Won't Be Spending Next Saturday
Even though it'll be a good time.
Because I'll be helping to finish Hokie Healing blankets.

And in my life, every day is a Folk festival.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

I Swore...

That Paris Hilton would never take more than 2 or 3 seconds of my attention. But for crying out loud!!!!

And what hairbrained judge considers it a punishment to be stuck in her home for 40 days?

Throw me in that briar patch....

I'm So Excited- Again

For several reasons:

1) Although I told you "enough already" about the bathroom, I get to use the shower today. The grout is fully cured. So that's REALLY the end of the bathroom news. (Fair warning-- there will be another bathroom renovation, but I'm pretty sure it won't be as exciting for me. At least I don't think I can afford for it to be....)

2) This arrived in the mail yesterday. It's my copy of The Book for which I authored The Chapter that I whined about so mightily a few months back. I'm Chapter 15- Capillary Blood Sampling. Aside from the fact that I am now published (in hard cover, I might add- with internal spiral binding for your reading convenience), I won't ask you to get excited about it. A bunch of my friends at work also contributed. If you're not "in the business" this book is definitely not your cup of tea. It's not only extremely esoteric, it's also a bit graphic. But as far as professional "how-to" guides go, it's pretty darn swell. It'll be something to show my grandchildren, which I hope I don't have any of very soon.

3) I was able to move some shifts next weekend, so I can go to Blacksburg to help sew together the Hokie Healing blankets. This project has helped me a lot, and helping put them together is something that I really, really wanted to do. And I was pretty devastated when I realized I was scheduled to work for the entire weekend. Some of my co-workers made switches with me-- one even working my Saturday in exchange for her Wednesday!!! I still need to work next Friday, so I'll either leave after work (7:30 p.m.) or more likely, get up around 4 a.m. and arrive around 9, in time to hit Starbucks before going to The Inn for the Great Sewing Together of the Hokie Healing Blankets.

4) I got a call at 5:15 this morning asking if I'd like to be off work today. Since I'm bumping up against my maximum number of vacation hours, it took about 3-1/2 seconds to say "You Betcha!!" I may be able to spend a bit of time at Knit Happens today. And if not today, maybe sometime over the weekend. I haven't been in for awhile because of my schedule, and I miss those chicks with sticks.

And now I think I'll go back to bed for an hour or so.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Enough Already!

...about the bathroom.

OK, but first, some final detail pics. The Nurse had a REALLY good time at Bed Bath & Beyond yesterday-- found some antiqued pewter accessories on sale- (including a wastebasket!), a really nice shower curtain bar, a travertine candle base and some nice rocks, and a cinnamon and frankincense candle.

And since there's really not a proper linen closet, I found this little shelf unit for the new towels.

I do believe I've shared more than I ever thought I would about my bathroom.

Enough Already!

Sunday, June 03, 2007


Now, before you say "Isn't this supposed to be a knitting blog??? And she keeps writing about her bathroom???"

Let's review a few blogging things and their similarities to the bathroom project: We love to brag about FO's. I finally have one. It still needs to be blocked (translation: the grout needs to cure until Thursday before we can use the shower).

I have the obligatory shot in the bathroom mirror picture:

And I'm showing you the details of the project:

And we sometimes talk about our storage options:

Finally, the view from the throne:

Details: We contracted through FH FURR. They are a large, reputable plumbing company in Northern Virginia. We have used them for heating and air conditioning service for many years. We were initially referred to FH FURR by a doctor I worked with who highly recommended them when we'd been through the mill with several other firms trying to handle a pesky furnace.

We decided that, although we love do-it-yourself projects and we've done small bathroom do-overs in the past, we didn't have the time, energy or expertise to take on this type of project. And we really didn't have the time, energy or resources to have someone else re-do it if we screwed it up. We wanted it done right and done fast.

Planning took a couple of weeks-- meeting with the representative to discuss options and fixtures (don't you just love the antique pewter faucets and shower head and handle?), selecting tile at Mosaic Tile showroom in Lorton. Once this was done, we received our final estimate and the project was scheduled to begin within 2 weeks. The Husband and I purchased the vanity, medicine cabinet, storage cabinet and sink from Lowe's. The sink was special order, and although the delivery time was 3 weeks, we lucked out and had it in a week and a half.

Actual work in the bathroom from start to finish was 1-1/2 weeks--6 actual days of work with 4 days of the Memorial Day Weekend in the middle. The company sent us a schedule and they stuck to it. Work included: demolition & removal of old bathroom fixtures, re-plumbing & shower bed preparation (2 days);
tiling & grouting (3 days);
plumbing finish and fixture installation (1 day).

The products we chose are beautiful. The workmanship is excellent. All the workers were courteous, cleaned up after the project, and kept the noise as low as could be expected, considering the amount of sawing, pounding, hammering etc required. The time involved couldn't be beat.

Would I recommend them? Yes. Unequivocally.

The Bottom Line:
One caveat if you're on a tight budget-- make sure you understand what your costs are during the design phase. Let the company representative know what your limit is, ask questions, and make sure you understand everything he's telling you. They want your business, and they have a vested interest in making sure you're happy. They can explain what you absolutely need, and what you can get for the amount of money you're able to invest in the project. If you have some flexibility, they can also help you to understand where you can tighten up the project, and where you can splurge a bit. Of course, the labor costs will always be there.

We knew what we were getting into, and decided to go pretty big on this, enjoy the project, and not stress about what we knew would be a pretty good chunk of change. This is a capital improvement to our home. We did compromise on some aspects that saved us several thousand dollars, but still resulted in what we consider to be a spectacular little space.

When doing a project like this there are a couple of ways you can go-- you can figure "the hell with it, we're going to get everything we can dream of" which can be very dangerous. Fancy shower features can add several hundred to thousands of dollars. It took my breath away. Extra tile features can add hundreds more. These hundreds here and there add up, and knowing where to draw the line is very important. At the same time, there can be the tendency to nickel-dime the project. It's going to cost thousands, and saving $10 or even $50 on something may not be in your best interest if you won't be happy with the finished product.

We could have reduced our costs in several ways- some would result in substantial savings-- thousands, and some in more moderate savings: We could tile only the floor and shower area and paint the rest of the walls (thousands), select a less expensive tile (more thousands-ours was pretty high-end) and eliminate the little stone shelves, go less high-end on the towel bar and tp holder (several hundred), use different sink material, use different plumbing fixtures, etc. For the time being, we're forgoing the glass sliders on the shower, which will cost $1500-2000, because we have another bathroom project coming up. We'll put in a tension bar and get a really nice shower curtain. And we may decide that we like that just fine.

You get what you pay for. We got a lot. And it was money well spent.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Hokie Squares

Squares for the Hokie Healing Project, that is.

I finished 9 squares, and blocked them last night. I wish I could have done more. I have plenty of orange and maroon yarn, but never enough time... The time that I was able to spend on them was soothing to my heart.

The Husband is off for Blacksburg after work today, and he'll deliver them.

The grand sewing-up of blankets will be on June 15 at the Inn at Virginia Tech. I, of course, am scheduled to work that entire weekend, but if you'll be in the area, contact Gina.

And now, off to work for the night.

Pictures of the finished bathroom tomorrow.