Friday, September 14, 2012

Yep-- I'm Still Here

So, I knew it's been a long time since I've posted, but I didn't realize it's been since MAY!!!

A lot has happened--- The trip to Europe, the Derecho, family reunion, a niece's wedding, new windows throughout the house, a new hobby in jewelry making, more knitting, a huge tree removed from the back yard (breaks my heart, but it had to go!), and I've embraced Pinterest.

And a lot is happening-- Football season at Tech, (the REAL Tech-- the Virginia Tech one), more knitting projects, trying to get the house painted and together after the aforementioned window replacements.

This is all not to mention work-- busy, interesting, and always the best job in the world.

So here's some of what's gone on:

Sagrida Familia, Barcelona

With my ol' buddy, Mary Tyler Moore in Minneapolis en route the family reunion at Birch Bay  

Beyond description-- and you cannot imagine what the inside of the house looks like, after having to move everything away from the windows.  It's still a disaster, but there is hope in sight, And we're supposedly going to save a bundle on heating and air conditioning.
Gives you an idea of how big this sucker was--the pic was taken from the second floor of the house 

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Back From Europe

The Daughter and I returned from nearly 2 weeks in Europe. What an incredible experience.

Day 1 into Day 2. We flew from BWI to Rome via Heathrow in time for breakfast in London.
On to Rome, arriving late afternoon. We had planned to take the Leonardo Express to Termini and then connect by Metro which would have cost about 16 each, but found a van that took us directly to our hotel for 20 apiece. So worth it! We based ourselves in Rome for 5 nights, staying at Hotel Prati, about 3 blocks from the Vatican. We discovered how close when we went for a gelato walk after dinner, turned around, and saw this:

Our location was superb-- close to the Vatican, lots of great little restaurants, and a reasonable walk to the Ottaviano Metro-- giving us access to most of Rome.

We were pretty tuckered out, so hit the sack and got ourselves turned around.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

My Bags are Packed...

...I'm ready to go.

Heading to Rome tonight with The Daughter.

Update when I return.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


The end of an era. I was at the 5th Space Shuttle launch, and then at a couple of others several years later.

It was exciting-- and sad-- to see her make her final journey.

We're told this is not the end. I hope that is true.

Monday, April 16, 2012

We Remember

... the 32 students and faculty of Virginia Tech who were killed 5 years ago today.

We thank the Security, Police and Campus authorities, faculty and administration who cared for our children and the medical professionals who helped them to heal.

We ask God's blessing on all who were touched- from near and from afar.

On this beautiful day, we look toward the future.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Happy Easter

Priorities get skewed surrounding Easter-- It's about rebirth, resurrection, renewal- not candy and parents promoting "take no enemies" egg rolls.

It's the end of Lent- a time of reflection and self-improvement.

The connotations and customs surrounding Easter are unique in different cultures, and can lend themselves to unusual interpretations. When we lived in Italy, I was taken with the breads that were baked for the holiday, as well as the dove-shaped "Colomba" cakes, symbolizing peace and rebirth.

Taking nothing away from the religious significance of the holiday, there are amusing aspects, as well.  I shared the story of the Easter Bunny with our Italian babysitter.  She invited our family to join theirs for the big Easter celebration held on Easter Monday in much of Europe.  And she proudly presented the main course in our honor--- rabbit.

I do love me some chocolate bunnies, though...

(Image shamelessly borrowed from The Lighter Side without stealing bandwidth)

And what shall become Aranami

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Counting Down... and Casting On

...for my upcoming vacation. I'm SO excited!

The Daughter and I are going to Europe, starting with 5 days based in Rome.

We lived in Italy for 3 years while The Husband and I were in the Navy. I enjoyed being there, but didn't get nearly enough traveling and sightseeing in, what with having to work and all. The Daughter was born in Naples, and she hasn't been back since we left when she was about 10 months old.

While in Rome, we have day trips to Florence (Uffizi and Accademia), Naples & Pompeii, and Rome tours scheduled for the Coliseum, St.Peter's Scavi, and a couple of others to be determined. Then we go to the port of Civitavecchia and board Norwegian Epic for a week.

Our ports of call include Livorno, where we will take an excursion to CinqueTerre:

Then to Cannes,France including a day trip to Monaco/Monte Carlo. From there we proceed to Marseilles, then Barcelona, an at-sea-day, and on to Naples. Having already seen Pompeii, we will probably "hang out" in Naples, and take the hydrofoil to Capri, or boat to Ischia, depending on the weather.

Onboard we are scheduled to see Blue Man Group (LOVE those guys).

So--- what to knit on my trip??

Well-- the ever-creative Olga has done it again. She went and designed this:

(Isn't she cute?  She always looks so terrific....)  The shawl is called Aranami, and as soon as I saw it, I KNEW I had to knit it. So I ordered yarn online-- but not sure I can wait, so I just might have to get myself to one of my LYSs. Lord knows, I have a house full of yarn, but this really needs the gradations to get the full effect, and be subtle enough.  None of my sock or sportweight yarns will fit the bill.

Olga promises that it's an easy knit-- and the pattern is available through her blog- linked above-- and on her site at Ravelry.  I think it's the perfect project for vacation-- sportweight yarn, little needles, and not too much thinking. (Of course, that's Olga speaking.  I hope that's true for the rest of us.... I can mess up almost anything!)

So on top of refining packing lists, shopping for little things I know we'll need-- (Ibuprofen, bandaids, sunscreen, batteries,etc,etc....) I will need to keep myself from spending every waking moment wanting to work on Aranami before the trip. 

I'd better pull out one of the half-dozen unfinished socks.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Preemie Hats

A HUGE "Thank You" to the knitters at Fibre Space who worked with Project Knitwell to produce these wonderful caps that will be donated to the MedStar Georgetown University Hospital NICU where I work:

Aren't they amazing???

Carol Caparosa and her wonderful volunteers run Project Knitwell-- a program that uses knitting as therapy-- for patients and their families, for parents of hospitalized infants and children, and for the nurses who care for them. I've participated in several of the nursing "sit and knits", and really wish that my schedule allowed me to spend more time with them. I have been fortunate enough to be able to help some of "our moms" with projects they've been working on. Carol meets with "our moms" to teach them to knit simple caps and other projects for their babies during the long hours they spend in hospital. As they progress to more complicated projects, Carol has been kind enough to use me as a resource. I love helping them to learn to read patterns and show new stitches and techniques.

Carol's focus on knitting as therapy has helped me, as I went through a difficult time recently with the death of one of my patients. I found myself unable to focus on anything, so picked up the needles and started knitting. I was good on theory, but had forgotten the reality of knitting as therapy.

Fibre Space is a wonderful knit and crochet shop in Alexandria. Fantastic yarn and really great people. Fibre Space has partnered with Project Knitwell to provide resources and an opportunity for Alexandria area knitters to do some outreach. What a wonderful partnership!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Stash Diving and Getting Back on the Needles

I went through a really dry spell for a pretty long time. After my Mom died, I just found it really hard to focus on knitting, and especially focusing on identifying a pattern, a technique and a yarn to "get going" on.

Following that loss was the closing of my home away from home-- Knit Happens in Alexandria, where I found inspiration and friendship with kindred spirits and souls. These women, and the occasional man, supported each other through our life experiences-- weddings, deaths, kids growing up... and I really miss them. Yes, I know there are other LYS around-- and we have some terrific ones in the area. Taking nothing away from them, it's not the same.

Through Facebook and blog-dom, we keep in touch-- albeit somewhat sporadically. We've moved to different areas of the country and world.

Elspeth inspires me. She knits all the time-- or must knit all the time, based on the amount of amazing stuff she keeps producing. She knit this really cool cowl, and I headed for the basement-- one of the several areas that house way too much yarn accumulated over several years.

I finished it this morning--- just need to weave in ends and block.

So I'm stash diving, and planning more projects. I'm getting back into the groove of having something besides a half-done sock in progress at any given time.

We'll see how it goes.

Friday, March 09, 2012


Another reason I love Trader Joe's

9 bucks worth of flowers. Priceless.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

We Carry On

It's been an interesting month. I dealt with some very draining situations at work. There are great joys in my job, but also overwhelming sadness at times.

I am usually able to compartmentalize-- keeping work at work, and not bringing my day home with me. Usually.

Sometimes I get very close to a family and it's not so easy to get over the overwhelming sadness. I had one of those a couple of weeks ago. I'd been present at the baby's birth, and was with the family through his too short life, and was with them when he died five weeks later. I found myself at home-- too sad to do much, but needing to do something to center on and work through it all.

I made this prayer shawl for the baby's mother. It calmed me and gave me a purpose and focus.

Prayer shawls have two purposes --or in Portia's words, (as with the quality of mercy) "are twice blest-- they bless those who give and those who receive."

I sewed small charms into it-- symbols of the baby's short life, and of hope and peace.

I hope she finds small comfort in it.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

A Busy End to the Old Year- and a Busy Start to the New

What happens when I don't blog for a long time, and then I have a lot to write about? Monster Blog!!!


It's been a very busy holiday season at our place. We had a lovely Thanksgiving. Both Offspring were home, and I was off work. We did the whole Turkey thing-- and it was fantastic.
We took advantage of a lot of online shopping deals, and a little in-store shopping which included a family gift for The Husband-- a new TV.
It was quite the production. The Son came up with a plan to return home on Saturday to assist with the purchase and set-up. The Daughter and I went out on Black Friday night in search of a stand which we hid in her car under the doggie hammock. On Saturday, The Husband and The Daughter went to the VT/UVa game. The Son and I met at the "BuyMore" to select the set. We got a pretty good deal, schlepped the set home, and settled in to watch the game. (We won-- Go Hokies!!) As soon as it was over, we began to rather overwhelming task of taking the existing setup down-- and identifying the steps we'd need to take. The first was moving a very heavy dresser from the dining room where it held table linens and candles. The Son decided he could use it at his place, and I bid adieu to one of the first pieces of furniture that I purchased at a flea market nearly 4 decades ago. We removed the very heavy, very large TV set from the corner unit in the family room-- this involved clearing out all the VHS tapes that hadn't been viewed in Lord knows how long. The corner unit went into the dining room, and we began to put together the stand.
(The corner unit is great in the dining room. We have more room, and a great place to put the linens, trays and pewter serving pieces. It makes me happy!)
At this point, The Daughter texted to tell us they're on their way home. I replied "STALL!!!" She convinced her Dad that they needed to stop for dinner, which bought us a bit more time. We got everything constructed, connected and working before they arrived home, and gave him his early Christmas present. He likes it plenty.

Cookie Bake
My Gramma was an amazing cook and baker. She baked cookies all the time, and sent them to us at camp, at school, and she'd bring them to us whenever she came to our house. Many years ago, Sister #1 started to bake with her before Christmas, and eventually it became a family event. Since Gramma passed, we have made this an annual event, usually the weekend before Christmas. The Offspring and I travel to the Chicago to join as many of our family as can attend.
We start in the morning on Saturday at Sister #2's house (she has an amazing kitchen-- designed for cookie baking, if you ask me...), and bake from Gramma's recipes all day, making enough cookies for our 9 families and our Dad. We haven't quite figured out how many we actually make, but Sister #2's very long dining room table is pretty much covered with aluminum pans full of cookies.
This year, the cookie-baking festivities were kicked off on Friday night with a party for a niece and her fiance. Lots of fun to be together, and much pizza was eaten.

The week leading up to Christmas was a lot of fun, because I finally got some decorating done, the monster TV was picked up by a charity, the tree went up, and it really felt like Christmas. I knew that both Offspring (and The Daughter's dog) would be coming home. I finished knitting a Christmas stocking for one of The Daughter's friend's new spouse-- and got the over-stitching patterns done as well. The grocery shopping was finished, and I wrapped all the gifts. I was ready for whatever course the weekend would take.
I was scheduled to work the entire Christmas holiday. I'm not upset about working over holidays-- it's part of being a nurse, since of course, patients don't stop being sick just because it's Christmas. But we're sometimes able to be off on one of the days if we want to, because we "staff up" to make sure we have enough to take care of any big changes in census.
The Daughter and I came up with contingencies-- how we'd handle Christmas depending on if I'd be off on any of the days, or if we'd have dinner and celebrate after I got home.
I was very fortunate to have Christmas Eve off, and it was terrific. We were all together, and enjoyed a very nice Christmas. Spending time together was the best. We had our yummy beef dinner and exchanged gifts. I received a Kindle Touch, which has already proved itself to be a terrific device.
I worked on Christmas- spending time with my co-workers and our patients' families.

New Year's
My family gets together on New Year's eve. It started a long time ago, when my parents realized that my brothers and sisters were spending all day on Christmas, traveling throughout the greater Midwest in order to see both sides of their families. My very wise mother told everyone to spend Christmas wherever they needed to be- with their own new families, or in-laws, and to try to be with them on New Year's Eve. As a result, it turns into another family get-together that we look forward to and cherish.
This year, December 30 also served as a destination, as my niece (one of the 26 collective nieces and nephews) was married. It was a lovely ceremony, a terrific reception, and story fodder for years to come.
Since we were all up quite late on the 30th, we decided to celebrate "East Coast" New Year, allowing us to wrap things up a bit earlier. It was another wonderful get-together, and a great beginning to 2012.

Maybe-- probably the same as before-- only more general. Be healthy, do my best, and knit more. We'll review progress in about 12 months.