Saturday, November 21, 2015

What happens in Vegas...

Yep. AL and I went to Las Vegas last week. He had a conference. I had time.  Lots of time.
We had a good time. The flights were great - Spirit Airline with a seat bump up.  We relaxed in comfort for very cheap.
It's always thrilling to go over the Continental Divide. 

This is definitely a ski area. I don't ski. Don't hate me, not all native Coloradans ski. I don't know which one this is.  Maybe someone can comment with the name, if it looks familiar.

First thing we did was....
Drink (NOT Murphys) Guinness, then several (too many for me, unfortunately) Snakebites. RiRa is one of our favorite places to hang out in Las Vegas so was our first stop.  We also enjoyed the lox platter - YUM! They are home to The Black Donnellys. It's always a fun evening when you can enjoy a few (ahem, or more) pints and tap your toes along to a couple excellent Irish boyos show their stuff on their guitars.

AL went to his convention during the days so I decided I would take that time to walk and accomplish some of those goals I talked about in Reboot.

I spent two full days reconstructing my basic hat.  I have six hat patterns, four of which use a similar unique construction.  I like them.  They have straight sides and a flat top with traditional Aran stitch patterns on the sides.  New versions will come out this week with much needed improvements.  Anyone who previously purchased one from Ravelry will receive the download link in their Rav mail.
Cool! Check off a Reboot goal!

When I wasn't working on designing, I could gaze out our window.  We had a suite at the Luxor.  It was great.  Well, a small snafu - our TV has issues and it took to the third day for them to get it fixed. Eh, I have TV at home, didn't need it.
Anyway, we had a fabulous view.

We made a stop at The Boiler Room our second night. We always thoroughly enjoy this restaurant.  My favorite part? The Smoked Whiskey and Cola.  It's AMAZING.  This is when my not so petite and delicate nose is of optimum benefit.  So here's a little story....when I was newly married to husband #1 (obviously, it didn't work out but we had two extraordinary daughters) he fancied himself a brewer.  He took me to various events and eventually along to a class with Charlie Papazian, famous engineer and brewer.  My ex has one of the smallest noses I've ever seen.  This class was all about how to determine the quality of beer from skunky to award winning.  There were samples we were to observe and make our determinations.  I was a was the schnoz.  One wiff and I could tell everything about the brew.  It helped that I appreciate excellent brews, porters and stouts, in particular.  Someone's nose was definitely out of joint (sorry, couldn't help myself) but Mr. Papazian told me I could have a promising future with a brewery.  I wish I had pursued it instead of caring about my ex's hurt feelings so much.  Anyway...this whiskey drink has an intoxicating aroma.  I nursed it all evening and I'm sure people were amused by my nose in glass, followed by an Andrew Zimmern head waggle of immense pleasure just from the scent.  Best.drink.ever!!

Once I got most of my design edits finished, I could go out and about.  One of the most enjoyable mornings I had was when I walked to the Bellagio.  It was a hefty walk.  The weather was perfect in the upper 60sF. It took an hour to get there from the Luxor. It's 2.5miles as the crow flies, but I zigzagged through the buildings and poked my head in shops and such.  I made my way to Jean Philippe Patisserie. The line was well worth the wait.  Not only did I have a charming conversation with well traveled man whose wife was attending the ophthalmologists' convention, I was able to take my time and view all that was available from the shop. I restrained myself and bought a large Americano and an almond croissant.  Seriously, I could have walked out with a grocery bag of chocolate, pastries, and fun treats. I restrained myself (see Reboot #6). The coffee made up for all the swill I had choked down from, ya know, that national chain that had three locations in my hotel. I was in heaven! The lobby was designed to encourage customers to enjoy themselves while resting in elegant nooks with couches and coffee tables, or small café tables for one or two people.  All these comfortable, inviting spots had views of the world famous fountains at the Bellagio.  I found a small table hidden away and enjoyed my superb coffee and some of the large croissant.

I wish I had brought my book so I'd have a reason to sit there for a couple of hours or so.  Some day I hope to stay there.  The Luxor is a fine hotel but The Bellagio suits me so much better. Until then, I'll look forward to getting my steps in (Reboot #7) by having my morning breakfast at The Bellagio when visiting. That day I tripled my daily steps goal, so it's a win all around.

When I finished my design, I could work on a new mitten.

It's been a busy week or so. I leave with a parting thought...
I promised AL I would finish his There and Back Again scarf.
Here is the design and finished scarf.
I'm only up to finishing the trolls...

Sunday, November 08, 2015

Hopping on the Reboot Bandwagon

I posted about Wil Wheaton's Seven Things I Did to Reboot My Life a while ago. I've always liked the guy. I suppose in the "little brother I never had" way. Nerdy, smart, devoted husband and dad, hard working, talented, and, not the least of, owns up to all his stuff. He did it again. His post You Can't Pay Your Rent With the Unique Platform and Reach Our Site Provides struck a chord with me as well as, oh, about a kabillion other folks. If you just stumbled on my blog, you might not know I'm a fiber artist and design hand knitting patterns, among other weird and quirky things. Go read Wil Wheaton then come back....

Done? or at least have the gist of what he's saying?

Yea. I cannot tell you how often that sort of thing happens in the yarny world. I remember getting an "offer" from a knitting group in Denmark several years ago asking if they could make something like two dozen copies of a sock would be free marketing for me! I tried to tactfully explain that copyright laws don't allow that and I would happily consider a group discount for them. They were offended. I get requests from people, many I've never met or don't know at all, asking if I would knit something they found for them. They would even, EVEN, purchase the yarn. Seriously?! They think I'd be thrilled to spend hours and hours on a project, for no money, with no pattern or permission from the designer to copy their design. I've only spent 30 years perfecting my skill, increasing my knowledge, and honing my talent. SURE.


If you read the Seven Things post while you were there and you know me at all, you're shaking your head about that, too.  Obviously, I'm not going to load up the Zombie5K app and slap on my sneakers.  It's about the re-prioritization, working to actually incorporate that adage we've all heard: "You need to take care of yourself before you can take care of others" blah blah.  While I like his choices for him and I think they're good choices, I'll adapt them to myself.  I think his idea was to focus on his quality of life and health overall as it pertains to him.  Here goes, my seven things to reboot my life (I like the seven - low enough to give each attention and high enough so it's not obsessive in one area):

1. Wil's - Drink less beer.  I love good beer and I won't drink beer unless it's good, so the beer stays.  What I will eliminate is hard alcohol at home.  I don't need it at home and I truly only like and appreciate it when it's skillfully prepared by an excellent bartender.  A good example is...
That's in Vegas, baby. 
2. Wil's - Read more. I read quite a bit. What I'll add here, because more reading is actually better as opposed to just "more is better," is I'll turn off the TV if there isn't something specific I wanted to watch and open a book, or stick a book in my ear, as Heather Ordover says (she's smart and fun, so click, you know you want to).
3. Wil's - Write more.  Wil Wheaton is an amazing author.  He even recorded his books and lets you listen FOR FREE via a link on his webpage.  There have been people who suggested I write with a book in mind...I dunno. I'm not there yet.  I can blog more and, as I did in the past, make it more narrative.
4. Wil's - Watch more movies.  I'm jumping on this one. I love watching movies and TV.  I tend to watch the same things all the time.  I'm going to include classics and maybe even some of the car and History Channel things my husband (remember AL?) watches...maybe. 
5. Wil's - Get better sleep.  The only time I get rudely awakened is when Calliope-pee jumps on the bed or AL snores.  I'll happily live with both. I'm changing this one completely - I have goals on my iPhone reminder list which are five months overdue. My goal setting strategies suck.  This one will be to develop goal setting for martaschmarta which includes small daily steps so they get DONE.
6. Wil's - Eat better food. Yup. I used to make all our food when I was a SAHM and I needed to be frugal and healthy.  I work a lot so I don't know if I'll be baking all our bread and such but planning ahead and opting for healthier, less processed foods is definitely going to be the plan. My friend recommended the book Trim Healthy Mama. I'm reading it, so far, so good.
7. Wil's - Exercise more. I've heard Zombie5K is a fabulous and motivating app.  I'm SO never going to run, though. I have a stationary bike and rowing machine at home which I occasionally use but not with regularity.  A few years ago I bought the Hoopnotica system.  With my flat, painful feet, 40 (oh, let's get real - it's really 50 if I want to be fit) extra pounds, and "I've never been into a sport...ever" qualifications, Hoopnotica actually seems fun enough to stick with.  The only issue will be to find a big enough space in my little Ikea bungalow tiny house to learn it without taking something out.  I'll just start with a daily or even three times a week time goal of, say, 15 minutes.  Once I'm actually consistent about it, I'll go to every day and/or begin to increase the time. 

Just in case you thought I have been completely lame about knitting and spinning...

I finished Iðunn's Garden mittens

There's alpaca on the wheel. I bought a 2.2 lb (1 kilo) bag of this stuff and don't think it's all alpaca.  It seems a bit hairy, like mohair.  I'll still spin it up, dye it, and either use it or sell it ::shrug::

One last parting shot of the backyard kitties

They are so cute and bonded to each other.  They all clearly appreciate the safe environment, small bowl of food and water I leave out for them, and provide continuous entertainment for myself and the pee-pee (Calliope) as we watch them.  They still won't let me closer than six feet away but stare at me adoringly, so I think they like it here.

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Lightening the load

Being on the downslope of life has given me new priorities and a different perspective. I've had some things hanging on me most of my life...
I must be a professional (fill in the blank here medical editor, corporate trainer, educator).
I must be a specific shape or size or weight.
I must suffer over and repair whatever cruelty and injustices I've encountered. 
I must make at least a specific income in order to be a respectable adult.
I must control my destiny. 

Of course, we all logically know the answer to all of those statements is "No, you don't have to be constrained to any of those, and some are simply impossible." But, so many, especially in the US feel these are the norm and measure themselves, their self-worth, and others by these benchmarks. 

...a bit later...
okay. I wrote volumes of stuff about each of those things up there, but, hey, it was mostly for me and I can't imagine anyone else wanting to read it. So, suffice it to say

Love is lovely, let it grow

This is funny - I got on this jag because I dramatically changed my hair a haircut ago and love it. I had my hairdresser cut a lot of weight off ...its been extremely freeing. I was just going to mention how freeing it was to switch to a short, layered cut because I like it, regardless of what anyone else thinks of it then I got all serious and deep. Funny how that happens. 

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Step back

I used to get very personal in my blog...about personal events, people, and feelings. Then I decided I shouldn't be so open with the world. I would just do a crafty update. I thought I would be writing some new patterns. I certainly had ideas and plans. I was worried about the people around me (what would they think?!), my family (I already found it difficult to connect), and, last but not least, I'm a teacher - bad things happen to teachers who are real people. Not that there haven't been inappropriate behaviors in teachers, unprofessional behaviors, even criminal behaviors, BUT it seems you aren't allowed to be human with feelings and opinions if you're a teacher, or, worse, someone falsely accuses a teacher (it happens a LOT) because they don't want to earn a decent grade or get in trouble and are angry at the teacher who cares enough to follow through. Well, I still struggle with depression, have trouble connecting, tend to be a hermit, and am afraid to seek a teaching contract. I posted photos and descriptions. No patterns developed, not much of anything developed.

Then I started getting suggestions. Someone recommended this Seven Things I Did to Reboot My Life, then someone recommended I listen to this Invisibilia. There were other recommendations but those stand out. Wil Wheaton said so well exactly what I had been thinking for a long time...big shout "YES!" Then I listened to episode 1 of Invisibilia. It was about thoughts. I've had issues with racing thoughts, fear-ridden thoughts for a long, long time so I deeply connected with that portion of the discussion. What surprised me was my reaction to the second story about Martin Pistorius. There have been actions and things said by others that had dramatic impact on me - things that were minimalized or even forgotten. Some were cruel or criminal by any measure, but some were fleeting thoughtlessness. I was sobbing by the end of that story. I've worked so hard to make every interaction - especially with my children, their friends, students - kind, supportive, full of belief in them, and with intentional open mindedness. That story confirmed everything I've clung to during my stubborn resolve to support my children and work with students. 

Every interaction we have has consequences. It's our responsibility to do our best to make sure they improve life, not degrade life. 

Sunday, October 25, 2015

It's fall, and I can't get up

The last couple of weeks have been spent on finishing Gamma Shawl by Larissa Brown

I've been spinning but not much to show yet.  I'm a bit stymied about dyeing before spinning or after which is stupid because when I fuss about that, I'm not spinning.  Just spin, dammit, just spin.

I'm also, as always, knitting preemie hats and footwear for the rez, in addition to the socks I carry with me always.  

Lil Black Kitty and her adorable three kittens continue to entertain us.  I realize, as feral cats, they may just disappear any time but, I'll admit it, I'm very fond of them and am getting attached.  I'll enjoy them every day they honor me with their company.


Fall in Colorado is spectacular.  This is when "Colorful Colorado" earns it especially in sunrises and trees.


(My photos of fall foliage stink...this one is gorgeous.  I found it on the innerwebs but it was uncredited.  If it's yours, PLEASE tell me - I would love to credit you and direct anyone to your information, or would certainly honor any request to watermark, delete, or notate.)