Maine or bust!

Friday, August 31, 2012


I came home on Tuesday night to be told that my back room and bathroom had to be emptied for the contractor who's been upgrading the apartments in our building. Okay... some notice would have been nice, but let's roll with the punches. My ex, kids and I got the rooms emptied and now the rest of my house is an effing disaster area, but you know what? I'm okay with this. It will mean a nicer apartment when we're done, right?

Fast forward a couple of days. Thursday night - last night - I came home to find that there was no electricity in the entire back half of my apartment. Bathroom, kitchen, back room and Skye's bedroom, all without power. NO notice, no contractor, no indication of how long the power had been off, nothing. WTF??? Dudes, that means that my FRIDGE and CHEST FREEZER had no power. It also means I can't make dinner because I can't turn on the stove, oven or any of my small appliances. Zachary and I managed to roll the chest freezer into the livingroom and plug it in there, and then we moved all the stuff from the fridge freezer to the big one. We also managed to put the meats & cheese from the fridge into the freezer, but everything else in the fridge is a write-off.

I left a note this morning for the contractor - on bright yellow paper at eye-level on his ladder, so he can't claim he didn't see it - stating that I found it unacceptable for him to leave me without power overnight and that he now owed me $50 for groceries. If this jerk keeps doing this kind of shit, I'm considering making a complaint through RĂ©gie des rentes. I mean, who DOES things like that?

On the plus side, I got to visit with a friend I previously only knew through Ravelry last night, before she moves to Italy. Man... ITALY. I am so flipping jealous :) But I got a box of books and a couple of house plants to remember her by :) Her philodendron is settling nicely into the corner of my office. I took the kids out to dinner last night to a place that serves 24 different kinds of poutine. Zachary had the ground beef / pepperoni / bacon poutine, and Skye had a chicken / bacon / onion poutine. I had a bloody salad. And I didn't even finish it... I think it's called Vidal? Food's not bad, but it's not cheap either. For the three of us, it cost me over $50. Ouch. Something tells me I would have been better served taking them to McD's...

My sock is coming along nicely, albeit slowly. If I ever find my camera (or any of the cameras, really), I will take pictures of a whole pile of stuff. This is part of what I hate about having to empty two whole rooms of my apartment - I can't find a bloody thing! Everything's either in the way or blocked off, and it's driving me up a tree! SOCK. Socks make me happy, thanks to the Yarn Harlot. Grok the Sock is an excellent class, and if you ever get the chance to take it, I don't care what it costs, DO EET.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

It's a mystery...

South Beach is going well, although I think I may have temporarily lost the use of my kitchen... Contractors are drywalling my back room and fixing up my bathroom today with no notice whatsoever from the landlord, so my house is a disaster right now *sigh* I'm deeply unhappy about this because I was finally getting the house organized how I liked it (after living there for 8 years, I know...). But it was CLEAN, and it was mostly neat and tidy, and... well, now it's a big honking mess again. Kari can attest to this, she saw it last night.

Monday night when Jeff and I did groceries, I picked up this odd-looking thing in the "exotic" vegetables area. I think it's either a fruit or some sort of squash. It was billed as "bitter melon", but it didn't look like a spiky green penis, so I'm not sure WHAT it is (I'm wondering what kind of traffic the phrase "spiky green penis" is going to bring...). It kind of looks like a cross between a chayote and an enormous pear, but no idea what it actually is. I'll take & post some pictures later tonight in the hopes that someone can enlighten me. I also bought a tamarillo which is, by all reports, similar to passionfruit :) I love it when they bring unusual stuff into the grocery store, because I get to try new things!

I had bought a gorgeous local cantaloupe to make Marisa's Cantaloupe Vanilla Jam (from her new Food in Jars cookbook), but now with the contractors messing up my place, I'm not sure how long it'll be until I can do stuff like that in the kitchen. Guess I'll just have to eat this one and buy a new one when my kitchen has been restored. I have two bags of Granny Smith apples that need to be made into apple butter SOON, especially as I think one of the apples in the bag has gone off - have to inspect those tonight.

Right now, what I'm most looking forward to is getting my sea legs under me at work - I feel a bit lost still, and need to just grit my teeth and wade through the paper and get it done. I did get my medical/dental benefits card! I'll have to see what's covered and what isn't, and I got the kids covered as well, so that's a plus. BENEFITS, y'all! HOLY CRAP. I'm really missing Chicago right about now though... decent kitchen, comfy place to sit and knit, oh... and that whole "boyfriend" thing ;) It's amazing how much easier everything seems when you have another adult in the house to talk things over with, share with, and be dragged off to bed at a reasonable hour with. It's kind of scary how much I miss him (and the boy) when I come home after a long visit.

Lately I've been jonesing for a garden again. It's harvest time, and I'm oh-so-resentful of the upstairs neighbour's cat who destroyed my tomato plants. *sigh* (and all my herbs) The pots have all been cleaned out and put away. We'll have to see if I'm feeling brave enough to try again in the spring. In the meantime, I'm going to try to get my hands on some decently cheap produce to can. Now that it's starting to cool down, I can look at doing a batch of cherry jam, and maybe tackling those plums I froze before I left. I'll have to buy a couple of cookie sheets of my own to freeze stuff on, as I'm sure Kari would like hers back at some point. Maybe the dollar store has some cheap ones I can use - if it's not for baking, they don't really have to be high quality.

Hoping to finish my Hurricane Hat tonight... pics to follow!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Never a dull moment...

I meant to blog about this over the weekend, but time got away from me (again). I made it home at stupid o'clock in the morning on Saturday, dropped one kid off at his dog-sitting gig (for a friend who was going to Twist), dropped the other kid off at her dad's, and went home to crash. 1:30am when I finally got to bed. *yawn*

Saturday morning, I headed to Perth to spend time with two of my favourite ladies, Janie and Heather at Janie H. Knits. Sadly, Janie is closing the store (she's got to have a life at some point, I guess!) and I have been sitting around knitting and encouraging people to buy stuff ;) I got to meet a lady I've been chatting on and off with on Ravelry for years! Thank goodness she recognized me from my ravatar, because otherwise, I'd have had no clue who she was (hi, Carlene!). From there, I drove to Chelsea to attend my cousin's 45th birthday party, tease him about being old, and spend time with my two favourite sprogs, my nephew Cael, and his brand-new sister, Mara-Jade! (Oh yeah, I became an auntie almost exactly two weeks ago!)

My sister-in-law had sent me a message while I was in Chicago, asking if I could knit a bag and a hat for a newborn photo shoot she wanted to book, since her photographer didn't have any baby props... :D Erm.... professional pics of a teeny baby in something adorable that I had knit her? HELLS YES! I had gotten started in Chicago, but things kind of stalled, since I misplaced my size 13 DPNs... When she told me on Saturday that the photographer could fit them in on the 29th, I agreed to have the stuff ready by then and went on my merry way.... This becomes important later.

I drove back out to Ottawa to pick Zachary up, and when we got home, we headed out for our walk. This is where the fun and excitement come in. As we were walking around the block, this black tortoise kitten started following us. And I mean, she followed us all the way around the block. Twice. She would cower in terror every time a car passed by, and she didn't seem smart enough to stay out of the street (we had to rescue her from three separate cars she ran out in front of). I was a bit concerned as to where she had come from, since there was no collar, and she felt like she hadn't eaten in a while. Zach went upstairs to grab some food and water for her, and she REALLY enjoyed the food. I knew we couldn't just leave her outside, or she was sure to be hit by a car during the night.

So off on another wild adventure we went. We drove to FOUR different animal shelters before we managed to get the good folks at the Ottawa Veterinary Hospital to take her in. She wasn't more than four or five months old, extremely friendly, and so cute it was really hard to hand her over, but I knew we couldn't handle a third cat (the two we have are destructive monsters) and she probably had owners looking for her. Time I got home to bed this time? 2am. Ugh.

Sunday morning, we were up bright and early to head to Twist for the Yarn Harlot's Knitting with Speed and Efficiency class :D Dudes, I met the Yarn Harlot!!!!! I had a total fangirl moment in the marketplace before my class when I saw her walking toward me, and it took everything I had not to just say, "Hey, how's it going?" I realized in time that hey, this woman has no idea who I am... *blush* I swear to you, I sat the entire three hours in that class squeeing maniacally inside. She is such a fantastic person, and I was so awed and overwhelmed to be CONVERSING with her... omg.Guys, I was actually having an intelligent conversation with the woman after the class finished! *SQUEE*

Fortunately, Sunday evening was a fairly early bedtime, after purchasing school supplies for Zachary (ugh, high school!).Tonight (Monday) when I got home, I saw a message from my sister-in-law asking when she could come pick up the stuff for the photo shoot... um... CRAP. I took a peek at the calendar and suddenly realized it was the 27th. When the hell did THAT happen??? I ran off to Walmart to find a set of DPNs big enough to finish the bag (baby cocoon) with, and all I could come up with was size 10. *sigh* Oh well...

It is now nearly 2am, and I have completed the bag, the hat and a pair of booties in the beige yarn. I have started the provisional cast-on for the hammock (can't help it, it's such a damn cute idea!) in red, and I'll work on that tomorrow while everybody else is having lunch LOL It's a quick knit in bulky yarn, so I should be able to drop it off to them after dinner. This will teach me to not pay attention to what day it is.

Pictures will be shared after the photo shoot :) Walking has been going well, and today was the first unofficial day of South Beach (tomorrow's the official first day, because I hadn't done groceries yet. Now I have food in the house) and it was okay. Gym renewal has to wait until Wednesday because after two runs to Chicago and an afternoon with Miss Janie, there's not much left in the wallet other than pocket lint ;) And now to bed... tomorrow is a new adventure!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

On the road again...

This morning we took the kids shopping for sxhool clothes, and then headed out to Rob's sister's place for lunch and a swim. I love swimming so much! And the best part? Beth is an aqua aerobics instructor, and she showed Skye and I some exercises we can do at home to increase flexibility and make the most of our time in the pool.

After that, we hit Bill's Custard Cafe for dinner. If you ever find yourself between Chicago and Milwaukee, you have got to make a detour to this place. The food is amazing, plentiful, and dirt cheap! As an example, tonight, I got the chicken torta special (which came with fries and a tub of fresh jalapeno slices), Zachary got a gyro plate with fries and a drink, Rob got a hot beef sandwich that came with mashed potatoes (real ones), and Skye opted for a kids hamburger plate. Soup is always included, and they make it from scratch every day. That plus drinks for Rob and I came out to $25 total. The four of us couldn't eat at McDonald's for that.

Then we headed down to the Sterling Lake nature trails on 173.  It was getting dark, so we didn't have time to walk around the lake itself, but we did the yellow trail, which is about 1.7 miles around. Now it's time for a quick batch of seafood pasta sauce, and then bed. Tomorrow, we head home first thing in the morning. Boo :(

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Fresh start no. 5783...

Last night was not easy. I made some pretty uncomfortable confessions to Rob about my current physical condition and my fears for the forseeable future. It was not pretty. I cried. A lot. I got really down on myself, and I had to admit my deepest, darkest fears. Namely that I'm rushing headlong toward diabetes and heart problems unchecked.

For once, food is not the only culprit. For the last few weeks, I've been far too sedentary, justifying here, there and everywhere, and the results are difficult to ignore. Arthritis has been kicking my ass on a regular basis, which had all but stopped when I was going to the gym regularly and doing yoga. I've been whining for months that I can't do yoga in my apartment due to space constraints, and yet, I managed to do several basic poses in Rob's room the other day to loosen my back up. Justifying again.

I look down, and I'm disgusted. I remember how good I was starting to look before I put back 20 of the 40 pounds I had lost. I remember how much better I felt, too. I could actually feel built-up muscle responding when I did stuff around the house, I had more energy, and I felt unstoppable. Now I just feel like crawling back into bed. Rob said I had to come up with a plan to change the situation. So here goes.

South Beach. Without justifying, withhout substituting, without cheating. It works, and I know I can maintain it, because I follow a lot of the basic rules almost all the time. I've just been lazy lately. Gym membership is to be renewed on Saturday after I drop Zachary off for his dog-sitting gig at Kari's place. There is no reason at all that I can't go to the gym every Saturday other than laziness, so that's non-negotiable. I'm also going back to school on Tuesdays, and it had been my habit to hit the gym before class, so Tuesday nights are in too. Any day I'm not at the gym requires walking or cycling, and since I don't have anywhere to safely keep a bike at home yet (nor am I comfortable riding on the street yet, walking is it for now).

I can't sit around and keep saing I'll change something tomorrow. I need to make those changes today. Because my body is changing as a result of my inactivity and justifications, and I don't like what it's changing into. Most of all, I want my kids to have a mom, I want my nieces and nephews to know me, and I want to be around for a long time to see where this adventure with Rob will end up. And none of that will happen if I don't do this now.

We walked 2.25 miles around Lake Andrea in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin tonight. Game on.

Sunday, August 19, 2012


I did promise to post about our misadventures on the way home from Chicago, didn't I? And then instead, I got into the car and drove there instead!

The ride home was long but uneventful until we passed Kingston and were approaching the 416. We came up on a column of three trailers in a row in the right-hand lane, while we were cruising along in the left lane. We made it even with the third trailer's cab and Kari was remarking on the fact that he had a disco ball in his cab (so we were visible to him at this point), when he suddenly decided to speed up and pass the two trailers in front of him. I honked and slammed on the brakes - on the 401, mind you... And flashed him once he had gotten in front of me to say, "look, jerk, I was occupying that space you just helped yourself to..."

We passed the two trailers he had passed, and this time when we came even with his cab, he turned on his driver's side rear spotlight and quickly veered into us, trying to force us off the road. I slammed on the brakes again to avoid him and asked Kari to call 911. This guy obviously wasn't planning on letting us pass him. And you may say I was a jerk for flashing my brights at him, and I very well may have been, but this guy was trying to physically force us off the highway which would at the very least have seriously injured us.

So now we're on the phone with the Ontario Provincial Police and this guy is still not letting us pass him, but lets a few other cars go by. So we!re staying behind him, keeping low. He decides to pass a slowpoke in front of him, so we figure this might be our chance and pull out behind him. The SECOND he saw us pull out, he jerked back into the right lane. I was too scared to pass, and there was traffic coming up behind us on the left, so I pulled back in behind him on the right.

At this point, we had no idea what to expect, but we certainly didn't expect him to come to a complete stop in front of us... Then he slowly pulled half off the road, still not leaving us enough room to pass - and we're still on the phone with OPP. We were afraid at this point that he was going to get out of the cab, and all the traffic behind us was pulling around into the left lane, leaving us nowhere to go. The OPP lady basically told us that if we had an opening at all, to get out of there, and fortunately, we were able to fairly quickly.

There may have been some slight speeding as we made for the rest stop 40 km away, but I wanted to make sure he wouldn't catch up. Not sure what he did after pulling off the road, but we sat in the parking lot of the rest stop for a good 15 minutes until he passed by, and then we went inside to calm down. Kari had to drive the rest of the way home (which wasn't too far, since we stopped at Mallorytown). It was, by far, the most hair-raising experience I've ever had on the highway.

So moral of the story is, if you see a trailer from Jessy Transport being pulled by a rig that has blue LEDs and a disco ball inside the cab, don't piss him off!!!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Stitches deconstructed

So Kari, Sue and I left Ottawa last Wednesday morning at stupid o'clock (which, in my world, equals 4:30am), headed toward Chicago and STITCHES MIDWEST - YEAH BABY! I learned a few things along the way, like never trust Kari to give you directions, and never think that just because you've driven a particular route 50 times, you can't still get lost :) We arrived late Wednesday evening, hit Bill's Custard Cafe for a late dinner, and then headed home to Rob's house.

Thursday morning, Rob went to work and I made the girls some Cheddar, bacon and asparagus eggs for breakfast before we headed out to the Renaissance Schaumburg Convention Center Hotel to pick up our registration packages and get ready for our classes. My first class was The Confident Knitter with Kellie Nuss - it was a bit too much of a beginner's class for me, but it was still quite interesting to follow along. Then the Marketplace opened for the attendees' preview and Kari and Sue had a great time going back and forth to all the booths on their colour-coded, prioritized map :) I had forgotten my wallet at the house, so I didn't buy anything, but I knew from experience that the market would still have plenty to buy during the rest of the weekend. We closed out the day by seeing a designing talk by Nicky Epstein (which was only open to class attendees, and it was free, so we went!) Rob came to visit for a while between the market and the talk, and we had Five Guys for dinner (wups, we skipped lunch).

Friday, Rob was at work bright and early again, so I made the girls an apple-cheddar cake for breakfast (it was supposed to be muffins, but for some reason, my muffin tins keep disappearing from Rob's house!) Ray later looked at the cake and asked why there was cheese on it, but he tried it and admitted it was pretty darn good. I makes good cake, even if it was meant to be muffins LOL I had three market session classes (1 hour as opposed to the regular 3 hour classes) so I was in and out of classrooms all afternoon, but I still managed to do some shopping at a few booths. I got three skeins of something called "Red Hot Chili Pepper" from Catherine at Knitting Notions (Nashville, TN), three GORGEOUS skeins of yarn from Lisa Souza Knitwear and Dyeworks (Placerville, CA), and four beautiful skeins of Three Irish Girls sock yarn from Windy Knitty (CHICAGO, IL!!!!!) I also got a few American Afghan books from Knitter's Magazine. I rounded out the day by grabbing the second-last large project bag in an awesome sheep pattern from Erin Lane Bags for my friend Sarah. We went home and had some lentil experiment and coleslaw for dinner (it was kind of like chili) .
Saturday was class time for all three of us. I had Entrelac Basics with Gwen Bortner, which was an AWESOME class, especially as I had taken a workshop on backwards knitting the day before :) (and an intro to entrelac workshop!) Gwen, by the way, is the author of Entree Into Entrelac, which I now need to get my hands on! I made a sad, pathetic little pop can cozy, which is meant to be felted, but I hate felting, so meh. The class was beyond awesome, and she was wearing the most gorgeous entrelac sweater! Saturday night, Rob and I introduced the girls to Chicago-style deep dish pizza (vegetarian FTW) and they loved it :) Sadly, none of us were in any shape to drive into town and have it at Due's, but it was still pretty damn sweet! Kari worked on her Insanity (I think it's the Queen Susan shawl?) while Sue, Rob and I watched the first of the Transporter movies (yum.... Jason Statham :D) OH! I totally forgot... we thought we had missed the Podcasters meetup, but it apparently never happened. The girls were really disappointed, since they were REALLY looking forward to meeting Laura from The Knit Girllls. We were rather dejectedly leaving the market after our classes when Sue stops dead in her tracks and yells, "OH MY GOD!!!! LAURA!!!!!" to a woman who was about five feet from us with a suddenly dazed expression on her face :) They chatted for a bit and we admired her shoes and so they got to meet Laura after all, and much happiness ensued!

Sunday dawned and we were all wiped out. I made French toast with chocolate cherry sauce (omg, food coma!) that I need to tweak a little bit, but it was SO good.  I was the only one who had a class that day, and I think that if they could have, the girls would have skipped going back to the convention centre (roughly an hour in each direction). We planned on going sight-seeing downtown after class, so we dragged Rob down with us, but after class was over, the girls were too tired, so we returned to the house for a nap. I tried my hand at matzo ball soup for the first time, and it turned out pretty good (although standard stock is a bit too salty for my taste) and we had bratwurst for dinner with the last of the coleslaw. Everybody had an early night packing and getting ready to leave the next morning.

Monday morning, Rob had to work, so the idea was to leave at the same time as him so he could lock the house up properly. It was still hard, but not as emotional as when we're alone saying goodbye to each other. I had had a rough night's sleep though, and an hour into the run, I had to let Kari drive for a bit. Ugh (ugh at being tired, not at Kari's driving... I was asleep! I have no idea! I'm shutting up now...) I'll cover what happened on the drive home in tomorrow's post, because that deserves a page of its own. So that's what happened on our crazy adventure in Chicago... STITCHES MIDWEST! (oh, and we're SO going back next year!)

Thursday, August 2, 2012

A Bad Blogger Am I....

I know it's summer, and everybody's busier and nobody's around, but I feel like the worst blogger ever these days. I have a grand total of 8 followers, I get roughly 15 views per post (sometimes a lot less than that, rarely more) and I can't even be arsed to write regularly :( If I was a good blogger, I'd take my own pictures instead of swiping images off the 'net that match the post. If I was a good blogger, y'all would have 3-5 new posts to read each week. If I was a good blogger, I'd probably have more traffic than the 15 of you (who all know me personally) who are kind enough to keep coming back. But then, if I was a good blogger, I wouldn't have time to get any cleaning done around the house, I wouldn't have time to go out knitting with friends, and I wouldn't have time to get myself organized (not that I do anyway...)

Right now, I still have Rob's curtain on the needles (poor Rob... he may get it some time around his 50th birthday - which isn't for a long time LOL), I have three baby sweaters lying around that still require finishing (i.e. sewing on buttons, one's not even assembled yet), I have three baby blankets in various stages of completion (the white crocheted one won't take long, it's a match to the one I made for my nephew in about 3 days, the orange one is my "movie watching" crochet project - should go quickly, but I haven't been watching movies lately, and the blue/green one that's for a friend's baby in Chicago? I can NOT get motivated to work on). Don't get me wrong, Frankie Brown's Ten-Stitch Blanket pattern (Ravelry link) is beautiful, but oh so boring (miles of garter stitch). I also started a Color Affection shawl - how could I not when the Yarn Harlot made it look like such fun? But I haven't progressed beyond the first few rows because I felt guilty. I haven't touched the Riverbed Socks (a test knit for a friend) since Kari unraveled them for me at Knit Night last week. *sigh*

The plan is to finish the white blanket this week, work on the green one almost exclusively until it's time to go to Chicago (so, y'know, I can give it to the mother before the kid's in college). That's my home and knit night project. The Riverbed Socks will be my "at work" project for lunch hours. Color Affection is on hold until I get either the 2nd baby blanket or Rob's curtain off the needles. I'm also going to need some knitting for the 2nd trip to Chicago (four days after I return from the first), so we'll see what I can get accomplished then :)

I have not gotten the cherry jam made, and I am hanging my head in shame. I let $15 worth of cherries go bad because it was just too damn hot to do anything about it. Kari loaned me some baking sheets so I could freeze them, but I didn't get around to it in time, and... yeah. I'm a lazy ass. I also didn't get the canteloupe jam made. I am planning a batch of apple butter for this weekend, since I got an amazing deal on a couple of bags of slightly (very slightly) bruised Granny Smiths. The boy's supposed to help me with that, since he wants to learn how to make it.

The scale is in time out. I've been walking every day (I skipped ONE day because I was really sore and not feeling all that well) and my weight just keeps creeping up and up and up. This morning, I stepped on and just about had a heart attack. Up SIX pounds from yesterday? Screw you, scale. My clothes are starting to fit better again, and I've been walking religiously. There is NO FREAKING WAY I gained six pounds in one day. I feel like crap though, so it's time to start being a bit more careful about what's going into my mouth. This is probably the hardest kind of addiction to break, because it's not like I can stop cold turkey - I need to eat to survive. Gotta step up the exercise, and eat a bit healthier. (I thought I *was* eating better, but apparently the scale disagrees).

All I've eaten today is half a small cottage cheese cup (which I think is 2/3 cup anyway, so I've had 1/3 cup cottage cheese), and a couple of Greek pitas with salsa. And I feel like I ate an entire Vegas buffet. It's 2pm as I write this, so it's not like I ate all that in the space of one meal... I kind of nibbled on it all day. I know Greek pitas aren't the healthiest things around, but they were going to go bad, and ... well, I have no excuse. But I haven't had lunch (not hungry AT ALL) and I haven't had any junk food. So why do I feel like I've been pigging out all day? Bleh. Time for a bit of a cleanse, I think.

In other news, I'm supposed to be getting a new niece or nephew next week! I hope it's before I leave town :D BABIES!