Friday, August 31, 2007

Knitting in Wonderland

I've been doing the "Knitting Daily" thing. Every day you get an email from the folks at Interweave. Monday, Wednesday and Friday, it's about knitting. Tuesday and Thursday it's about marketing. There are free pattern downloads. Photo shoots that show what the Interweave Knits sweaters look like on real people. In between there's a lot of Interweave self-promotion, but that's okay.

Thing is, it turns out I may be a sucker for marketing. One of the things they tell you about on Tuesdays and Thursdays are the new books. There's a Best of Interweave Knits coming out in October. And Knitting Little Luxuries by Louisa Harding is coming in November. Knit Kimono by Vicki Square is out now. I fell.

Isn't it pretty?

The kimono through the ages and and across classes (nobility v. warrior v. peasant). 18 beautiful sweaters based on the 7 rectangles that go to form a classic kimono.

I want to make this one.

Sort of. For one thing, it's linen. I don't want a linen sweater. And I don't really like the two color neckband/border. A-a-a-nd, I want it in a different color.

Okay, so maybe what I really want is this one.

Almost. I like the broken rib border a lot, but not the color. We five older sibs had a very rude name for this color when I was 12 and the 6th was 1. And not as a sweater, as a vest. Except those shoulders really drop down too far.

Okay, okay. So what I really, really want is the first one, in this wool --

Cascade 220 The Heathers in 9489 Red Wine Heather -- with a garter or moss stitch or maybe a broken rib band.

This is the stitch pattern from the vest.

Maybe I want it in stockinette? Or in a looser gauge? Do you see where all this is leading? Swatches.

And down the rabbit hole I go.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Grump, Grump, Grump

I've been living my non-knitting life, lately. This is not a good thing. It has also been pointed out to me that I obsess over one project, and that this is supposed to be a knitting blog, not a blog filled up with non-knitting stuff. Sorry. It's just that I can't seem to do both. If you only want me to write about knitting, well, that's why I'm not obsessing over SI posting. I been busy. There's been closet clearing. Shiftings. Baggings-up and haulings-out. Worse. There've been meetings. So, if you came for knitting today, all I can say is "Oh, well." Because today, I'm going to start you off with bookcases.

I found them at Ikea. It all started when all the boxes wouldn't fit in my trunk, even with the passenger seats folded down. Right then, right there, I should have known I was in trouble. I ignored the signs and portents. Dismissed the whispers of the Fates. Hubris, people, hubris. That same tragic flaw that effected the downfall of the mythic hero.

I am, let's say, carpenterially (fine word, just invented it, my spell checker is offended) challenged. I know this, and never intended to build 3 bookcases in a day. The plan always called for easy stages, with Clare trying as discreetly as possible to point out that I don't follow directions for illiterates well; all of Ikea's are pictorial. I am verbal, not visual. Actually, so is Clare. Building the first bookcase was interesting.

The screws are too long. The leveling feet fall out. Maybe we have them in the wrong places. Let's switch them. Now they all fall out. What in bloody blue blazes is this?

Oh. Wait. There's supposed to be these 12 inch long wooden spacers that you attach to the underside of the first shelf. Where are they? Nowhere. Oh. Wait. There's another box. But they wouldn't put the 2nd piece you need to assemble a bookcase in a different box from everything else you need to start assembling a bookcase, would they? Of course they would. Wouldn't we all?

We put the wooden spacers on. Why won't this screw screw down all the way? Because I forgot to take off one of the levelling feet.

What else? Well . . .

It's possible to put the vertical supports on upside down. This isn't a problem until you get the 6 foot long shelf in place and try to insert the screw in a hole that isn't there.

Humidity causes wood to swell. This can make inserting the wooden pegs you use to align the supports to the shelves trying. The pegs become recalcitrant, obnoxious, even. I think I hear them snicker. I begin to feel a burning desire for a mallet. A BIG one.

When you finally get to the top shelf (and I'm only building this up to 4 shelves, mind you), the wooden pegs and the screws need to be shorter. Ikea provides you with the right ones, it's just that by this time, having finally screwed three supports to one shelf in a manner free from error, I think I'm on a roll. Of course I tried to put the top shelf on with the long ones.

Interspersed with all this are lost hex wrenches (in my pocket), dropped screws (they roll under things) and 2 boys competing for the portable DVD player who have been bribed into a modicum of cooperation by the promise of calling the pizza man for supper.

Okay, this has been a long post, with no pictures, about wood not yarn. So how am I going to turn this from a rant to a charming knitting story? I have a knitting daughter. I am about to take shameless advantage of that.

Clare is knitting for the church bazaar. She thinks spa-type sets of handmade soap with hand-knitted washcloths will sell. We found a wonderful pattern at Knitting Sisters.

It's a starfish. It is fiendishly clever. It involves flat knitting, circular knitting, picking up stitches, making bobbles.

Many false starts. Lots of tinking. Frogging when tinking proves to be not enough. After her 4th attempt to pick up 22 stitches alternately in the front and back of a 12 stitch cast-off row, Clare dropped her hands into her lap, looked at her not-quite a starfish and said,

"I'm making a bookcase here."

A metaphor is born. An idiom added to the family lexicon, right there with "splitting the baby."

I've had enough reality. I'm going to go build a bookcase (metaphorically speaking).

Monday, August 27, 2007

I Changed The Rules

Here it is. The moment you've all been waiting for. I printed off and cut up the comments. Put them all in one of my handy dandy Lantern Moon knitting bags. Shook them up and came up with -

Hmm. Megs. Well, there's a big surprise.

Not enough, I thought. I kind of wanted to send something to someone who'd been here for most of the ride so far. I sorted the comments, put the new set in the bag and came up with -

Kathleen - who I think I remember from the M-D KAL and who showed up here for the first time in September.

I've learned something over the past year; I like how comments turn a blog from a monologue into a dialogue. I happen to be a world-class lurker, myself. Were there an Olympic Lurking Event, I would be a gold medalist, or maybe silver. I almost never leave a comment on any of the "big" blogs. And I don't even leave a comment every time I visit anyone else. Comments, however, make conversations possible. Blogging, by its nature, is a forum. We blog (or at least I do) to connect. Megs and alpineflower both came out of hiding (although I think Megs is pretty new?), but Megs already got a prize and this is a one per household deal. That makes the winner for "Bravest of the Brave" -

alpineflower. Very important to reward good behavior.

So, Megs will get the Sea Silk in the color of her choice with the ribbon of my choice and the copy of Ann and Kay's book. (Colorsong has nice pictures of Sea Silk in lots of the colors, if that helps you decide.)

Kathleen is a self-avowed knitter of skinny yarn. I mined my stash and came up with Lorna's Laces (a fine Chicago-based company) Shepherd Sock. I bought this for the Endpaper Mitts before I knew anything about how far one skein would go in a project that small.

Whew! It'll be good to have those out of the house.

Alpineflower likes to read about the LYS. A Knitche exclusive seemed like a good idea. Having no idea of her color preferences, I went with rich.

The theory being that it will be easier to keep track of (am I the only person who mislays her doo-dad bag?) and memorable.

Of course, what sort of party would it be without cake?

And everybody who came to the party gets cake. If you want a piece, you know what to do.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Just Checking

I had a thought. Before I go all public with the winners (note the plural), I thought I'd better make sure: Is there anyone who isn't okay emailing me their real name and address so I can send their prize? This requirement was implicit in the contest, but sometimes explicit is better.

Leave a comment or email me at mccauleyUNDERSCOREjulianneATsbcglobalDOTnet (make the appropriate substitutions for the capitalized words).

Friday, August 24, 2007

I Was It

Here's a sentence I never expected to write. I am so sick of thunderstorms. After a while all the sturm und drang just become annoying and oppressive. We're due for more today and tonight. I think that's why I was so excited to get The Box from Brandy -- known to you all through the comments as Cheesehead With Sticks -- late yesterday afternoon.

I don't know that I've ever actually explained Dish Rag Tag. Emily over at Yarn Miracle has organized 230 knitters into teams of 10. In an Herculean Effort of organization, collection and sheer knitting, she got 23 dishrags, 46 balls of dishcloth cotton and 23 treats packed into 23 Priority Mail boxes and started them on separate relay races across the U.S., Canada, and Australia.

Upon receipt of the box, each team member takes one of the balls of dishcloth cotton and knits a dishrag for the next recipient, then packs the box with 2 new balls of dishcloth cotton, the newly knitted warshrag, and a treat for their downstream team member. You get to keep the treats and the ball of cotton you didn't use. The boxes all go out priority mail, to keep the playing field level and the focus on knitting.

There are rules. No overnight expressing the box. No knitting a dishrag before-hand; you have to use what your upstream team member sent. All dishcloths have to be real, functional ones, that is, no using size 13 needles to create a tangle of string and calling it a dishrag.

I can't show you what I sent on, because that would spoil the surprise for Cheryl. (I want credit [praise]. I was in line at the post office by 8:45 AM, with all that implies, before coffee this morning. Talk about above and beyond the call of duty.)

I can show you what I got. Behold, the contents of my box.

Honestly, it was like getting a box of blue sky, violets and sunshine.

I've printed off the comments from the contest. I'll cut them up and choose the winner this weekend. I may have to come up with some additional awards, like for Megs for Most Determined Comment Bomber, or alpineflower for Bravest Former Lurker.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Staging a Comeback

How nice. Something is back on track. Having derailed on Sweet Indulgence repeatedly (I have warned you about train metaphors), and with Clare's departure day now only weeks instead of months away, I admit to a twinge of concern, a suspicion that I might be behaving in a superstitiously self-sabotaging manner. As if she couldn't go to East Anglia if I didn't finish the robe.

Having misplaced stitches and stitch markers, frogged too far and not far enough, fussed and dithered and avoided, today I got back lost ground. All the decreases for the waist have been completed.

I'm half an inch over where I should be, but I'll blame it on sloppy measuring. Besides, 1/2 inch longer is not going to make or break the line of the robe. I'm even pretty sure I got the decreases in the right spot, above the outward curve of her hips and backside, but still below her natural waist to keep what looks like a bit of drape at the waist itself.

Whew. I'm off to happy dance and then relax over a cup of good coffee.

The clock is ticking, folks. Any more habitual non-commenters who would really like to break the ice, especially since it means I'll buy them some Sea Silk and a nice knitting book? You have until 9 AM CST tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

False Starts

I'm wallowing in them lately.

I want something to fill the empty knitting space left by the completed mitered squares. No, I haven't settled on an assembly method yet (in case you were wondering). I need something easy to remember. Something portable. I thought I heard the siren call of Red Scarves.

I've learned a number of different cast-ons over this past year. Long-tail, knitted, purled, cable, Italian tubular. None of these match the muscle memory I have from those days in my Grandmother's kitchen, when I learned to purl when I should have been knitting. Cast-ons are much on my mind as I read over patterns.

I've been chasing bookcases. This has led me, over the past week or so, on fruitless excursions. I have been in Home Depots, Targets, and outlet furniture stores. I have been north through Chicago Air and Water Show set-up traffic, west to Oak Brook (this as a bribe to feed the younger generation on chicken strips and Frango Mint ice cream pie) then southwest into Bolingbrook to the new(er) Ikea.

Just one exercise in frustration after another. I come close, but like will o' the wisps, my goals escape me.

The bookcases are either out of stock, or won't fit in my trunk.

The cast on my grandmother taught me eludes me.

The red scarf. Well. . . I remembered a pattern in Sally Melville's The Knit Stitch. Since I'm working on the Einstein Not So Warm Sweater, it was easy to find. Besides, I've meant to make it since I bought the book. The pattern is terribly clever. It starts out as a triangle and ends up with long rectangular ends. so the triangle can tuck down your coat collar and the long ends wrap around your neck. So far, my stash and I cannot agree. These are the starts that have (so far) escaped frogging.

The yarns?
Top: Blue Sky Alpaca Melange, double stranded.
Middle: Cascade Fiamma in 22047.
Bottom: Lana Grossa Rainbow in color
705. (Why can I not photograph reds?)

The problem(s)?
Top: Current favorite, but not quite what I want.
Middle: Too girly.
Bottom: Hideous to knit with

I'm not giving up on the pattern though. For one thing, there are more reds in my stash. Like the Fonty Soft Tweed I found at The Fold (left) and the Malabrigo Bulky from Knitche (right).

For another, while Sally Melville recommends the backward loop cast-on, that's not one of the cast-ons I'd learned. I'd been using the knitted cast on to get the end of row increases and by the time I reached the Blue Sky Alpaca scarf, I was pretty sick of them. I decided to suck it up and learn the designer's choice.

It's the one my grandmother taught me.

People. Megs and Brandy have done some serious ballot box stuffing. You've got until 9 AM tomorrow to outwit them.

Edited to add: Oops. You have until 9 AM Friday. I meant the contest to end Thursday, but the 24th is Friday.

Monday, August 20, 2007

So Many Mistakes. So Little Time

Only negative progress this weekend. Sweet Indulgence spent the weekend playing among the lily pads.

There's no excuse. I know better. I may have been knitting for only a little over a year, but I do know better. I did it anyway.

I applied chart logic to written pattern directions. It seems I need to state the obvious to myself: Charts only show the pattern rows, so you double the number of rows for any given charted line, one pattern row and one purl back row. Four rows in a chart equal 8 rows of knitting. This is not how written instructions work. If a written pattern says "repeat four rows" it really means just those 4 rows.

Sadly, knitting twice as many rows for the waist decreases is not the error that has me most annoyed. The infuriating mistake was the correction. I painstakingly ran a lifeline to save most of the work. I ripped back, restored the needle, replaced the stitch markers and did the knitting correctly - with the yarn I had just frogged.

Yarn that has been knit up stretches. Did I cut off the ravelled yarn and set it aside to rest -- or, should it prove recalcitrant, to have a nice soak --and get rewound? Did I give it a chance to return to its natural, or at least a somewhat less stretched state while I did the smart thing and joined a fresh skein?

In a word, no.

Do I have a lot more yarn left at the end of my final row than I should have?

Well, maybe not a lot. But enough. Significantly more than the 5 or 6 inch tail that I had left before I joined the new skeins.

Sweet Indulgence will be sent back to gambol with the tadpoles. I'm going to end this whole project monogamy thing right here, right now. I'm thinking about an Einstein coat.

Maybe the brilliance will rub off on me while I knit?

Friday, August 17, 2007

Breathe in, Breathe Out

As you may have gathered from yesterday's post, I finally got a good start on Clare's "Sweet Indulgence" robe from Amy Singer's No Sheep for You. Just to get us all back on the knitting track here (God help me, I'm going to be haunted by train metaphors for the rest of my life, aren't I?), I'm using Cascade Pima Tencel in 7478, double stranded on US 10.5 Addi circular needles ( I got gauge).

First off, let me observe that stockinette is not a good choice when you're sleep deprived during/after 18 hour train rides. It is excellent, however, while watching Jane Eyre or any other absorbing DVD, especially with the intended recipient. In fact, much sooner than I expected, I found myself at the point where the pattern says to start the waist shaping. Except, looking at the picture in the book and then holding up the knitted fabric against Clare. Well. All I can say is that must be the shortest-legged buttless model in the civilized world.

Note that they don't show her feet. 11 inches of knitting meant the decreases landed right where most of us increase.

I won't say I panicked. But I did fire an email off to Deb as soon as we got home. Deb is the talented woman who did the actual designing and knitting of Sweet Indulgence. If anyone would be able to keep my feet on the right knitterly path, it would be Deb.

Deb's confidence in me was touching. She replied,

"I say make the decreases where they fit! So do the measuring, and then knit them into the right places-



Touching that, but, I fear, woefully misplaced. Still, one doesn't like to disappoint. I have displaced the waist shaping. It now starts where Clare starts curving in.

This is a compromise. The waist shaping is still below her waist, just not 10 inches or so below it. I'm not nervous about this.


Way to stuff that ballot box people. How badly do you want me to buy you a skein of Sea Silk in the color of your choice? I can't hear you!

Keep in mind, to find out if you won, you have check back on Thursday.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

How Beautiful It Is To Do Nothing And Then To Rest Afterward

This is the end of the vacation stories. I promise. Be patient with me. I need the closure.

Doing nothing and resting is what we did once Marc figured out that most of us think it's okay to relax when on vacation. He tried to pull off one more field trip -- to Jamestown -- but, while Clare and John were willing to accommodate him, Marco wasn't having any of it. In fact, except for dinner and a follow-up trip to Knitting Sisters, to get the US 7 needles I had forgotten rainbow yarn, I don't think Marco got in the car until it was time to head back to D.C. for our 18 hour train ride home.

If you can bear it, I do have a few other favorite photos to share:

The guys on top of the White House.

Marco demonstrating a truly independent lack of proper behavior at the Washington Monument.

Finally, do not underestimate the importance of bringing along a portable DVD player, ostensibly for the train ride but also the preferred form of entertainment in between forced marches. This despite the fact that the so-called cottage boasted a wide screen high definition TV. In fact, it took the boys a while to wean themselves off the small screen, even after we were back home.

What beautiful nothing was I doing while Marco was demonstrating the principles of inertia, you wonder? Why, thank you for asking.

I mitered. I bubbled. I dishragged. And I indulged.

Don't forget! A comment on any post through 9A.M. earns you another chance at our Fabulous Prize ( she wrote, shamelessly trolling).

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

One! One! One! One!

Let's sing a song of one! How many is one?

Not enough, apparently, to get any of you to do my thinking for me. Even blatant bribery didn't work. No one had any ideas on how I should celebrate. It's enough to make me think most of you read me as punishment for your sins.

Heavy sigh. Oh, well. "I'll do it myself," said the Little Red Hen, and she did.

A contest it is then. One that reflects this blog and this blogger.

I'm a native Chicagoan, as was my father and his father. Chicago implies politics of the Plunkitt of Tammany Hall sort. ("There's honest graft and dishonest graft.") More and better bribery seems called for. I'd better make it a good prize.

I want to be able to put a name to everyone who reads this, even (especially?) those who don't much like to comment. I'd better give time, incentive, and multiple opportunities. Vote fraud is another dearly held Chicago Tradition, therefore, the contest will allow for stuffing the ballot box. Each comment left between today and 9:00 AM August 24th (to give you all a solid seven days) will get you a chance at the prize, i.e., comment 7 times, you get 7 chances.

There's been an awful lot of Mason-Dixon here this first year. I think Ann and Kay may have done more for my Knitter's Progress than any other designer-blogger. Since they have unknowingly become my de facto knitting mentors, the prize ought to reflect them. It ought also evoke a project that increased my skill level and marked a milestone on my road to all things knitted. Cue drum roll and trumpet blast. The winning project is Scribble. No, I'm not giving up my scarf. I'm giving you the ingredients.

The prize is a skein of Handmaiden Seasilk in the colorway of your choice and the coordinating ribbon of my choice to make your own Scribble Scarf. You'll need the pattern, so I'll add a copy of the book if you don't already have it. If you do, we can substitute the Elizabeth Zimmermann book or video of your choice.

Will that do?

So, as the late, great, Chicago politician Hizzoner himself said, vote early and often.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Stitches 2007

Unlike last year's three day extravaganza this year's Stitches experience was a flying one. We reduced the plan from two days to one (for which, you may recall, we extracted our pound of flesh in the form of Interweave's Midwest Fiber and Folk Fair). Our one day became a half day when Clare had to go and be all responsible and adult and show up for work. On the one hand, it meant she missed her class. On the other, she got her full Market Time. My afternoon was the complement to hers.

I don't know what I expect of Knitting Icons. Perhaps that they must live in an atmosphere entirely too rarefied for the likes of me. I don't know why I think this. When I, for the first and possibly last time in my life, did the fan thing, I was surprised at Stephanie Pearl-McPhee's warmth and accessibility. Despite this experience, this class with Susanna Hansson left me with much the same feeling of pleased surprise. My skill set was perfectly adequate to the project. I could probably have done it from the pattern alone. But then I would have missed Susanna.

The class was "Off the Cuff". It's the one time I absolutely regret the lack of camera. Click the link to Susanna's website to get an idea of what it was like. (Also, there's a great action shot of Susanna herself at the Yarn Harlot). Straightforward and down-to-earth, she was a font of patience and humor, adapting to our knitting eccentricities and non-standard-nesses, customizing the method where necessary, repeating the various tips and techniques as often as asked, using the words that are music to every comparatively new knitter, "There's absolutely nothing wrong with the way you knit."

The blue is the work I did in class. Regia Silk in color 53 with amber colored size 6 Japanese glass beads. It came out looking like embellished blue jeans; a look I have never been into. The cream is what happened after I came home. Jaeger Matchmaker Merino 4 ply in Cream with the same beads.

Class ended at 4:30. The Market closed at 6. I had an hour and a half to cover what I could have spent days in. An hour and a half to find something I couldn't get locally, although my LYS's were out in force. An hour and a half to find something unique and beautiful. To my frustration, I kept running into things that weren't. I was about to give up and go for bargains. I'm so glad I didn't.

This is the Madame Butterfly colorway in a super-wash/nylon/Donegal tweed sock-weight that I want to make into a sweater of some sort. It's from a brand-new, two-man fiber business: Bjorn is the artist, Rex is sales. Together they make magic. In fact, they make magic so well, I bought some more.

This is the same yarn in Rigoletto. Possibly my least favorite opera - yes the music is sublime, but there's not a single redeeming feature in any of the characters or the plot - yet Bjorn turned it into this.

Five hours instead of three days, and here I am, gobsmacked again.

Post scriptum: I have a confession to make. Despite the clearly posted prohibition of cameras, I fully intended to sneak mine in. In fact I did. I just forgot to take the batteries off the charger. No batteries, no pictures. Sorry. It would appear I am honest in spite of myself. I admit that denying knitters the use of their camera seems harsh to me, but to give XRX their due, they put together a couple of slide-shows you can see here that will give you a reasonably good view of the proceedings.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Those Whom the Gods Wish to Destroy

they first give fingering weight yarn.

Tomorrow is my beaded knitting class with Susanna Hansson. (Yes, Bohus Knitting Susanna. Finnish mittens Susanna. That Susanna.) I have homework. I knew this. This is not news. I've just been ducking. I must find the needle size that lets me produce 7 - 8 stitches per inch, and then bring that yarn and needle combination to class. Tightly as I knit, and with this scrawny so-called fragile, delicate yarn, I may be up all night.

All I can say is, you who knit with this weight yarn by choice are mad. Presumably by choice, but certifiably so.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

We Interrupt This Travelogue

Huh. It seems the 200th post has come and gone and I didn't even realize it. So there's that, and the coming of Stitches Midwest means that the one year anniversary of this blog is coming up. Had I been clever and foresight-ly, the two would have coincided. Still, seems we should do something, doesn't it?

A contest? A token for everyone who leaves a comment between now and the Big Day? Guess which post was the 200th? A slinking off into the night, never to darken the doors of Blogland again? Maybe I'll make you tell a story - what was your favorite post and why? Depends on how sadistic I'm feeling come the 15th of August.

I have managed to pick up some cool things over the past year. I might even have enough to go around. At least for now, while we're still such a select group.

Or you could give me an excuse to prowl the Market at Stitches on Saturday.

Any thoughts, ideas, inspirations? Any rags, any bones, any bottles today? Well. We've got a few days. How about leaving word in the comments? After all,

And I know you wouldn't want that.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

What Really Happened

Apparently I'm losing it. Yesterday's post chronicled Monday and Wednesday, but, according to Clare, not Tuesday. She claims Marco staged his coup on Wednesday. Tuesday is the day the Family rewarded my bad behavior. Tuesday is when Marc took the Younger Generation to Water Country USA and gave me a morning of peace. Tuesday afternoon he took the boys grocery shopping and Clare and I had a field trip all our own. Tuesday is when the Good Stuff happened.

Knitting Sisters had Mountain Colors and Claudia's Handpainted and Colinette and Manos. They had gimcracks and thingies and gewgaws. They had a sense of humor.

All things considered, I think I demonstrated admirable restraint (the Lorna's Laces was 40% off). Is anyone but me awake to the irony that I came to Williamsburg, Virginia and bought Chicago-made yarn?

Clare is right. I had blurred the boundaries between days and transposed them. I have to admit she has irrefutable proof (besides the dates on the photographs). She carried her Knitting Sisters tote during our Leisurely Williamsburg Tour. And she wouldn't have been able to do that if we hadn't been there yet.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

It Continues

You know, there's just too much going on.

Dishrag Tag started August 1st. Our team captain/first-tagged got sick so we are behind, but unbowed. You're rooting for Disparate Knitters (I named the team. Which sounds good until you realize there were no other suggestions). Keep you're eye on the sidebar.

Red Scarf 2008 has begun. It's official because Norma has put up the website for this year.

And I know you are all waiting with baited breath for today's installment of the forced march trip through Virginia.

Well. There was the thunderstorm that followed us from Pennsylvania and opened the heavens right when we got to Arlington National Cemetery. I balked at being a lightning casualty, so himself let us take the tour bus rather than covering the Cemetery on foot. For these few small mercies, much thanks.

The storm decided it was so fond of us, it needed to follow us down to Williamsburg. Truly spectacular. I'd never seen purple lightning before. I must confess, however, I would have preferred to see it from someplace safer than a car driving down Virginia's only interstate. Some smarter people might have used it as an excuse to stop for lunch, or maybe, as the day wore on, even dinner. Not us. Found a gas station, dinner and the cottage right about the time the storm finally relented, around 9 PM.

Still fired with purpose (or something), the next day we headed out to Colonial Williamsburg (this is a very cool link, you should click it ). We looked like Make Way for Ducklings, Marc taking the role of Mrs. Mallard and the 4 of us strung along behind. Although I didn't know it at the time, as we stumped and straggled in the 90 degree F heat from the Capitol Building along the Length of Duke of Gloucester Street, past the Magazine, Guard House, Chownings Tavern, and Colonial Punishment (read Stocks and Pillory) to the Court House, a new American revolution was brewing.

It erupted Tuesday when Marc tried to get us onto a boat tour of Chesapeake Bay complete with Norfolk Naval Base. A. 3. Hour. Tour. Clare and I opted for the chance to stroll through Williamsburg.

The members of the male persuasion managed to get down to Hampton. They even got on board. Then Marco realized what was up and broke for it. There was no getting him back.

Some parents (like me) would have taken this as an indication that he was all funned out. Marc decided to bring the boys back to Colonial Williamsburg. Near as Clare and I can figure out, they spent the afternoon about 1/2 a block behind/around/about us.

The revolution continued Wednesday, but that's tomorrow's post.

Monday, August 06, 2007

There and Back Again, Part 1

I think I'm well suited to blogging. This past week is largely a blur and a blank in my mind. Figuring out how to tell the stories is bringing it all into focus. This first post might be appallingly incoherent a little disjointed.

For the record, round-trip on the Capitol Limited from Chicago to Washington D.C. equalled 36+ hours on trains. I think it's flabbergasting that I'm still sane. Greater love has no other wife or mother.

It may be wise to enter a disclaimer here: I do not travel well. An 18 hour train ride meant an embarrassing number of hours before I had recovered anything remotely resembling my charming, cheerful self. For those hours I was a de facto whiny 13 year old. "We're walking to the White House?" "How far is it to the Washington Monument?" "What do you mean the Lincoln Memorial is away from the hotel?" "There are mosquitoes here [at the Reflecting Pool]!" We'll blame it on sleeping in public. That, and the fact that we did this all between 5 and 10 PM on the day we arrived in D.C. with only the briefest of naps and on no lunch or dinner. Travelling with Marc is much like travelling with a force of nature. One simply does not oppose it.

I know what I'm going to insist on if we ever do this again.

At the end of the day it was, of course, worth it.

This is, after all, Washington D.C.