It's the "golden birthday" of THE QUIT!


Seventeen years! Or 6,210 days!! And probably upwards of 124,000 cigarettes & $35K that hasn't gone up in smoke.

I'm chuffed!



The weekend began late Friday afternoon with an overdue & much-needed massage and ended on Sunday evening with a mopping of the bathroom floor after the toilet tank spontaneously cracked! Apparently, it happened just moments before we took a break from watching the conclusion of Borderliner, when Rusty went in and I heard him start to swear (very unusual behavior!). I couldn't believe how much water & how quick, but thankfully we were on it right away. A new tank was ordered this morning; we'll be flushing with a bucket for the next week!

This is when a second bath, even half-, would sure come in handy!

In between, I did a little work on taxes, cleaned up my work table a little, did some sewing, celebrated 13 years QUIT, had breakfast out with my girls yesterday, and enjoyed the sunshine & warmer weather. It's about 20 degrees cooler today than yesterday, but I spy another weekend warm up. Let's hope!

I've had a little elbow/forearm pain/strain, which seemed to worsen a bit after a couple of hours of nonstop knitting on Thursday evening, so I gave knitting another weekend off.


I sent Ali home yesterday with some leftover fabric from my bathroom curtains and next thing I know she's posting an adorable little pinafore. She even sent me a Snapchat with Ginny modeling... SO CUTE!!

Randomly on a Friday!!

ShamrockFirst of all, HAPPY ST. PADDY'S DAY!!

Secondly, HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my brother MICHAEL!!

Thirdly, HAPPY 12TH QUIT-IVERSARY to ANN, CLAIRE, my sis KAREN, and ME!!

Now then...

Remember on Christmas Eve when I did a little sewing (like you do?)?


I finally finished the last panel on Wednesday, possibly definitely while procrastinating about another task. Whatever. I'm so happy to have that project done, and I love how it turned out!


The -10 lb milestone was indeed achieved this week! One of the things I've found helpful is the new Weight Watchers website and app and, in particular, the recipes I've found there. There hasn't been a dud among them! I'd run across a few "soup for one" and "soup in a jar" recipes that I'd wanted to try, and finally did that this week. This one is a mash-up of a couple because of what I had...

Chicken e Pasta e Fagiole Soup for One

2 tsp. reduced sodium chicken base
2 oz. cooked chicken breast
1/4 tsp. oregano
1/2 cup shredded carrots (uncooked)
1/4 cup cannellini beans, drained & rinsed
1/2 oz. fresh fettuccine, chopped

Layer ingredients in a pint-size mason jar. Close jar & refrigerate until ready to use.

Fill jar with boiling water (about 2 cups). Stir well, until soup base is dissolved. Close jar and let sit for 3-5 minutes.


That's a quick, make-ahead, 4 SP lunch! Actually the one you're looking at is more like 7 SP because I accidentally quadrupled the amount of pasta!! Ooops. It was hearty!

Look at THIS:


Spring is volatile in NE Wisconsin. According to Intellicast, the record high for the last half of the month is 81F on March 27th (2007), and the low is -5 on March 24th (1974). The average is about mid-40s and we've been well below that, but thankfully there's been some sunshine (not today... gigantic flakes of snow fell on me this morning).

Last but not least (definitely the cutest)...


After I finished sewing the curtain and going out for lunch, then finally buckling down to do the task I'd been avoiding, I spent an hour or so watching these two on Wednesday evening. Instant mood lifter!! That arm around Gin... killing me!! The emotional growth and awareness that Jun's been displaying... also killing me!! I can tell that he's starting to think about things -- cause, effect, consequence -- and modifying his behavior (trying, at least!).

One of the sweetest moments was just before I got ready to leave. Ali was changing Gin on the bed, Jun was there too, and Ali was talking to me about Gin's little rash. Jun rolls over, puts his hand on Gin's chest, and sweetly asks, "Does that hurt you, Gin? Does that hurt?"

And now killing you, too! Haha! Have a great weekend!

Dear March,

We're over a week in already! I spent the better part of the first week in New Orleans, having a blast with my sister. It's a good thing, too, because -- though there are some lovely things to celebrate this month -- it's mostly going to be about nose-to-the-grindstone work of one sort or another, almost all of it leading to TAXES.

I can tell you that I'm really looking forward to the coming weekend. When my day off is on a Monday instead of the usual Wednesday, it sure is a long ways 'til Saturday!

I am looking forward to Daylight Savings Time -- well, not really, but if we have to play around with the clocks, I like the "springing forward" a lot more than the "falling back."

Book Club is coming up in the middle of the month. We read (I listened to) When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi. Heartbreaking, sad, beautiful, uplifting.

My brother's birthday is on St. Patrick's Day, my 13th blogiversary on the First Day of Spring (YAY!!), and an overdue hair appointment a couple of days later (my hair is getting super long) (and also, I've noticed, a bit more "shimmery") (you might call it "gray"). Heh.

And, March, you're also all about The Quit. I smoked my last cigarette close to midnight on March 17, 2005, then tore up the rest and threw them in the trash. The End.

I can't believe it's been a dozen years! And with numbers like those... well, let's just say that I'm more than happy to be spending that money on DOING things and GOING places these days rather than turning it into ash & trash. (And remind myself of that whenever I might begin to feel a little guilty about so much doing and going on).

And, SPRING!! I know you, March, you are volatile. Here in NE Wisconsin, I've experienced everything from blizzards and ice storms, to 70s and bare-toe days over the years. It's looking pretty chilly in the current forecast, and it sure has been windy and dramatic these past few days, but also very beautiful.

I'll take whatever you've got, March. Let's do this!!

Love, Vicki

Ten on Tuesday: Pot o' Gold

Ten on Tuesday:  10 Things I'd Buy If I Found A Pot of Gold!

I need a baseline. How much gold does one expect to find in a pot?

Using the calculations provided here and yesterday's price of gold ($1,154.16/oz.), it's $313,192.86. Okay, then...

1. A 1958 Corvette, red & white: $77,995.00

2. A Nice Long Weekend in NYC: $5,000.00

3. A Spring Shopping Trip: $5,000.00

4. A Mediterranean Cruise: $20,000.00

5. Rent a motorhome and take a Road Trip to The Maritimes: $7,500.00 

6. A Brand New Car for the whole fam damily: $175,000

7. Almost everything on my Amazon Wish List: $4,610.63

8. A Patterns + Alterations Studio Week at Alabama Chanin: $3,000.00 + $1,000.00

The new book will be out soon!! Rusty pre-ordered for my birthday and I've been delightfully anticipating ever since!

9. And the Classic Studio Week: $3,000.00 + $1,000

10. I'd have Margene join me: $8,000.00.

Lucky me, I'm observing the 10th anniversary of The Quit, so I have a BONUS POT OF GOLD into which I can dip:

11. So I'd bring a few more AC-obsessed friends -- Kay, KymGale, and Beverly!!

Wouldn't that be fun???

A girl can dream.

And obviously spend a whole lotta money in a very short time!

9 Years Quit

I'm celebrating my 10th Blogiversary on the First Day of Spring! To mark the occasion, which totally blows my mind, I thought I'd share TEN for TEN.


According to a website that's not Quitnet (I can't get them to recognize me!):

I've been smoke free for 3287 days!

That's 65,739 cigarettes NOT smoked (at least).

$21,365+ saved!

502 days lifetime saved (approx. 1 year, 4.5 months).

That's 502 days more I get to spend with this guy:


9 Weeks.

As always (well, for the past 9 years), I congratulate my fellow quitters, Ann, Claire, my sister Karen, and thank blog readers for their support and encouragement, especially Cara.


Sleepy Leprechaun wishes you a Happy St. Paddy's Day!

* * * * *


There's plenty more to come... Three to go!

* * * * *

I'm hosting a Craftsy giveaway. Follow the link below and you could win a class of your choice, up to $59.99 in value. 

Enter to win a Craftsy class!

*Giveaway has ended*

You will need to either log in or create an account to enter the giveaway. Entries will be accepted through midnight CST on Thursday, March 20th -- the First Day of Spring and also my 10th Blogiversary! The winner will be chosen (using Random.org) and directly notified (via email with the free-class link) by Craftsy!

Some of the Craftsy classes I've enjoyed include Natalie Chanin's Hand-Embellishing Knit Fabric: Stenciling, Appliqué, Beading and Embroidery, Angela Tong's Rigid Heddle Weaving, and Amy Herzog's Knit To Flatter. There's much to choose from!

If you just can't wait, there's a sale! Save up to 50% off all classes during Craftsy's Endless Creativity Sale -- sale ends TODAY at midnight (MT).



March Milestones

Can you believe I let the 8th anniversary of quitting smoking sail right by? I think it must be real. I'm a real quitter! According to Quitnet:

You've been Quit 2924 days

$19,006.00 and 14 months, 26 days, 18 hours of your life saved!

I'd never have done it without Ann, Claire, and my sister Karen, and I can't imagine having done it without all the support from blog readers and, especially, from Cara.

That $19,000 that I would have spent on cigarettes over the past 8 years? Yeah. I don't feel guilty one single solitary bit about going on vacation to the U.K. or Brazil, or taking little jaunts to Chicago or the North Shore, or flying to the east coast, west coast, or Rocky Mountains to spend time with knitting peeps (among other things). All of that COMBINED doesn't even come close to $19,000!

I think I've just eliminated any doubt I had about shooting for Holidays in the Highlands (Scotland!) this year.

* * * * *

Today, the First Day of Spring, marks my 9th anniversary of blogging. Holy moly. And, my, how things have changed.

20 March 2004

It's Spring!

'Tis the First Day of Spring! It's sunny and it's warm-ish (in a place where 45 degrees on March 20th really IS warm). It seems like a good day to embark on something new -- my very own, my very first blog (there is a lot to learn and a lot to do...).

I have been so inspired by the blogs of knitters around the world, and have learned so much from them. I can't even begin to imagine that my individual contribution would serve as inspiration, but I do hope that it will help to enhance the whole.

Posted by Vicki at 09:28:57 AM

It's not warm on this First Day of Spring! I did hear birds singing again this morning, after silence for weeks, so that's something.

As I begin my 10th year of blogging, I continue to be inspired by the blogs of knitters around the world. I am grateful to think of so many of them as friends, even. I believe I have "inspired" a few people with my knitting... a few epic projects have fallen from my needles... but I'd never have dreamed 9 years ago that there would be so much more.

Thank you!

* * * * *

Oh, is it ever fun to read your clubhouse memories!! In case you've missed it, to celebrate the publication of my husband's how-to manual, Keep Out!: Build Your Own Backyard Clubhouse: A Step-by-Step Guide, I am giving away a signed copy. All you need to do is share a clubhouse memory (or just a shout-out) on yesterday's post and I'll draw a name at random on Sunday.


Be a quitter

In March it'll be eight years since I quit smoking. I don't get on the soap box about it much, if ever. As much as I hate being preached to, which is a lot, I almost hate being the preacher more!

Today is the Great American Smokeout, though, and so smoking is on my mind.

It took me a few tries over many years before I finally quit -- for good, it appears. I rarely even think about smoking these days.

It's one of the best things I ever did for myself and for my family. I'm rather slow about it, but I think successfully quitting smoking has aided in since making a series of good-for-me lifestyle changes: quitting soda, becoming more fit and active, and recent dietary changes that have resulted in significant weight loss.

For me, in all these things, awareness and planning were/are key. Complete avoidance of triggers and temptation is impossible, so I had to figure out in advance how I'd handle those situations.

I documented my journey back in the day, and you can read all about it here (scroll to the bottom to get to the beginning).

If I can do it, anyone can do it.

I urge you to set a date.

* * * * *

Thank goodness for the Smokeout today! We're half-way through NaBloPoMo and my blog fodder cupboard is bare. Well, not quite bare, but pickin's are slim! What to blog?


Eight! It's cause for celebration!

As of today, the First Day of Spring, I'm celebrating eight years of blogging! I've written nearly 2,200 posts and read almost 19,000 comments during that time! I wish I could say that I replied to all those comments, but I know I did not. Every comment is important, of course (sometimes they literally provide fuel for the fire), and I hope that I've at least replied to all of the comments most in need of reply -- those in search of an answer, an opinion, even advice!

Also, as of last weekend I'm celebrating seven years quit! It's likely that I'd have quit smoking, anyway, at some point and for one reason or another, but it sure was more "fun" to do it with my fellow blogger/quitter Ann, her friend Claire and my sister Karen, and with the encouragement offered by bloggers, not the least of whom was Cara! We did good. I don't get those anniversary emails anymore, but 7 years x 365 days = 2,555 x 1 pack/day @ $5 ea. = $12,775.00 saved and 51,100 cigarettes not smoked -- and that's a rather conservative cost average.


It's been a fun ride!

* * * * *

In March 2008, I wrote about my 4-year blogiversary and posted mosaics representing four years of blogging People, Places, Things, and Knitting Things and asked, "Four more years???"

Welp, yeah.

image from www.flickr.com

PEOPLE: 1. Creme Brulee Smile, 2. Peek-a-boo on the train, 3. Cuteness personified, 4. M is for Maddy, 5. Partial evidence, 6. Everybody jump?, 7. Happy Birthday, Maddy!, 8. Sisters jumping for joy, 9. Three out of four, 10. My sisters, 11. Katie's Malabrigo Scarf, 12. Flat Stanley (focus on Ali), 13. Tattoo 2, 14. Laugh, 15. Sweetness and light, 16. Slip of the tongue, 17. See my shell?, 18. R at the tip of the Door, 19. Maddy -- 6-3-09, 20. Looking to the right, 21. Boys in the house!, 22. Li'l Rascal, 23. Oh! That's funny!, 24. Fits like a dream, 25. Farmers' Market: Week 2: Fun, 26. Kids...lake...take 2, 27. Birthday sisters, 28. Sisters in summer, 29. Not so imaginary anymore, 30. Happy Birthday!, 31. Millennium Bridge, 32. Our tour guide, 33. Plume poppy gets a hug, 34. 070-of-366 / Twist, 35. With Annie, 36. 077-of-366

image from www.flickr.com

PLACES: 1. Farmers Market, 2. Ringside at the rollercoaster, 3. Rows of Shingles, 4. Makin Hay, 5. Beach at Montauk, 6. Stone steps, 7. Art - You Are Here, 8. At the beach - tiltshift, 9. The charming old sign, 10. Dried weeds on the right, 11. Him again, 12. Wisconsin's Eastern Lakeshore, 13. Reflection, 14. Into the woods, 15. Kate & Mads, 16. Osh Vegas Palms Resort, 17. Morning has broken, 18. KC&T, 19. Inspiration, 20. Tippy canoe!, 21. Glorious, 22. Milwaukee lakeshore, 23. Cable car, 24. Seafood Department, 25. On a not-so-clear day, 26. Geocache I, 27. The South-side from the North-, 28. Westminster Abbey, 29. Portencross Castle, 30. Highlands, 31. Drive, 32. Redbud in Mom's wildflower garden, 33. Kate in the middle of the road, 34. Our tour guide, 35. Iowa sky, 36. Silver Lake

image from www.flickr.com

THINGS: 1. Ali's back, 2. Tools of the trade, 3. Spring.3, 4. 365.102, 5. Measuring cups with reamer, 6. Artisan Bread!, 7. Rock collector, 8. 6-point Buck, 9. Life jacket, 10. Christmas Reading, 11. New, 12. Heart in sun and shadow, 13. Veggies & Cream Cheese, 14. What time is it?, 15. Pin cushion, 16. WSD, 17. Ollie, 18. Oh, so good, 19. Growth, 20. Ruth Asawa knitted sculpture, 21. Fruit, 22. Breakfast is served, 23. Chickens, 24. Adorable, 25. Elvir, 26. Strawberries, 27. Eggs in shades of green (mostly), 28. Dragonfly, 29. Sunflower, 30. It rained, 31. 023-of-366, 32. 032-of-366, 33. 035-of-366, 34. 040-of-366, 35. 042-of-366, 36. 078-of-366

image from www.flickr.com

KNITTING THINGS: 1. Juno Regina II, 2. Cables on the heel, 3. Heel-Toe Two, 4. Kevin's Hat, 5. Hat/Vintage Button II, 6. Afghani cap, 7. Hat, 8. Circles in wool and cotton, 9. Cat Bordhi, 10. Kari-Bak Scarf, 11. Noro Entrelac Scarf, 12. Front, 13. Fiddlehead finito, 14. Back view, 15. Diaper Cover, 16. Lap blanket, 17. Finished!, 18. Seaman's Square Cap I, 19. Hat's Not Another Noro Scarf, 20. Tempest, 21. Ragtop 1+2, 22. Green squares on blue chair, 23. Cerasifera on the trellis, 24. Asymmetrical, 25. Coconut buttons, 26. Closure, 27. Christmas booties, 28. 008-of-366, 29. 014-of-366, 30. Hug me in the snow, 31. 026-of-366, 32. 029-of-366, 33. 035-of-366, 34. web-IMG_1709, 35. Color Affection, 36. 069-of-366

* * * * *

I have made some of the most amazing friendships, had exciting adventures, did some travelling, received a shower or two of love and support as a result of blogging -- I'd never have experienced some of those things to such an extent had it not been for this near-daily ramble. Sometimes a slog, after the pros and cons are measured and considered, it is still very much worth it.

It wouldn't be a celebration without presents, would it? I invite you to join my party by leaving a comment to this post by midnight (CST) Friday to tell me what blogging has done for you, whether you're a writer or a reader.

A random winner will be drawn for a woolly hand-dyed prize. It's likely that the 19,000th comment will be made during that time, too, and I think that's probably a good enough reason for another!!

As always, thank you so very much for reading, and for your comments and emails.

Four more years?


And then there were six

Six years ago tonight I smoked an after-dinner cigarette with my brother and his wife on my mom's driveway. It was Michael's birthday and, though I don't specifically recall, we likely had corned beef and cabbage -- which I sometimes like and sometimes hate. It has everything to do with the corned beef. (I never love it.) What's up with corned beef?

I might have smoked another cigarette on my way home.

I know I smoked another cigarette at about 11:00 on the walkway between my house and the garage. I smoked that one very thoughtfully. I knew it was my last. And then I said good bye to the rest and tossed them into the trash.

I've been smoke-free ever since. Sometimes it's been really, really hard. At first it was. Man, I remember wondering if I could ever think of anything or do anything again without it somehow leading to a cigarette. Get the mail, talk on the phone, have a beer (or any other beverage except milk), take a walk, need to think, wanna get away, vent, cry, laugh, cry, yell, celebrate a touchdown, argue, relax, pick me up. Heh.

Now, I am always surprised when I realize how infrequently I think about smoking.

I can't say that I'd never have done it without the blog -- in particular, without the urging of my fellow quitter Ann (*sniff* there's no purlingswine domain anymore???) and the invaluable support of Cara, and each and every person who helped with their comments and emails -- but I know I wouldn't have done it six years ago.

Man, I love you guys! XO

We are smokin' the not smokin'

The blog changes lives.

One day, a little over five years ago, my then strictly-blog-friend Ann on Long Island wrote me an email that went something like this:  I told my friend that I'd quit smoking with her.  You wanna quit with us?

I thought for 2.25 seconds and wrote back: YES!

Then I called up my sister and said:  I'm going to quit smoking, you wanna?

And she said:  YES!

Then I told my family, made an admission and announcement on the blog, and commenced to plan my strategy.  Let me tell you, I still remember how thoroughly I thought through all of the different scenarios and triggers and planned and plotted and made decisions about how to deal with each and every one.  By the time Quit Day rolled around, I was very well prepared.  The triggers that snuck up on me were the ones way further out -- like when football season rolled 'round again and the Packers scored their first touchdown of the season and I actually started out of my chair to go out on the back porch for my usual and customary celebratory smoke during the commercial break.  Heh.  Wow.  That was so weird.

Anyway, there was so much blog love and encouragement, it was incredible -- and, gulp, that meant there was gonna be no turning back, not with all those eyes on me from near and far!  I have fallen down on a few other things over the years, but there's not much riding on whether I finish a knitting project by a certain date or post a photo-a-day.

One bright star in the galaxy was my then strictly-blog-friend Cara.  She and Georgie went shopping and sent me a box full of quit-smoking aids -- gum, sunflower seeds, little stir straws, Dum Dums -- there was so much that I felt I needed to share and sent a portion of it back east to Ann.

Cara and Ann were then completely oblivious to each other, blog-or-otherwise.  I remember talking to Ann about celebrating at some point -- maybe at the five-year-mark -- by meeting and getting together for a weekend someplace in between Wisconsin and New York... like, maybe Ohio.

Well, as luck would have it, DH and I had an opportunity to visit New York City in June of 2005 -- just three short months into the quit -- where I was able to meet up and spend some time with not only Ann and Cara, but also with Kathleen, Nancy, Cassie, and a bunch of other bloggers, many of whom are not really blogging any longer.  It was a memorable and magical trip.  I'd only been to NYC once before and the circumstances were so different.  Now, of course, I've been there... three more times?  No four!  Three times for Rhinebeck, and another time with Katie & Maddy.

I can hardly believe it's been five years.  The first days, weeks, months were hell...  But since then?  I really can't believe, after having smoked for as long as I did, that I haven't missed it more, that I don't have more urges than I do... dare I say it? ...that it's been so easy.  I stayed far, far away from anything smoke-related for a very long time -- just removed myself from anything, -place, or -one that could lead to temptation.  It's almost like I'm indifferent now.  I was in close proximity with someone who was smoking recently and it registered, but I barely had a reaction -- it smelled neither good nor bad, didn't make me want to have one, whatever; I was a little happier when it was finally stubbed out, though.  I'll tell you my story, talk about my experiences, probably tell you more than you want to know, but I won't lecture or preach; I make my choices in any given situation, other people make their choices.

As of this morning, my QuitNet numbers:

  • Smoke-free for 1,826 days
  • 36,523 cigarettes have been saved
  • That's over 1,800 packs not purchased, saving me $6,391.00
  • I'm stayin' alive for 9 months, 8 days, and 23 hours longer
I'll admit that the "Lifetime Saved" figure was never all that impressive or encouraging, but now it's adding up, gathering momentum, and is starting to mean something.  Also, the money saved?  I doubt that's reflective of the fact that the price of cigarettes has basically doubled here since I quit, thanks to at least one -- and I think it may even be two -- hefty $1/pack cigarette tax increases in Wisconsin.  I can't imagine how I'd have kept cigarettes in my budget the past few years.

Anyway, Yay us!  We are AWESOME!!  Congratulations girls!  And thank you.

You are very sleepy...

Oh, was my ass dragging yesterday afternoon!  Every ounce of energy went towards keeping my eyelids open and eyeballs focused.  I had to pick Katie up after work, but also had to wait for a few minutes, so she took my order and I enjoyed a Mocha Frappuccino Light caffeine/cool fix (my second in as many days) (I roughly figure about 2 points per WW) and knit a few rounds on my Trekking sock.  I missed my WW weigh-in last night, but hopped on the scale at home this morning and, depending on its location on the floor, I may have lost 6 pounds or I may have lost 4.2 or I may have lost...  I'm gonna call it a loss and be happy.

The Barista Sisters were both out the door before me this morning!  I go to work early by most standards (I am at my desk by 6:45 a.m.) and my daughters like to sleep in, so this is BIG.  ; )  There was a family emergency where Ali works, so she's opening/working the next three days instead of having them off, as she'd thought.  And that's okay; plans for the days off changed, anyway.  Katie had to open today, too, but hers is earlier -- she had to BE there at 5:00 -- that translates to a 3:30 alarm -- that's A.M.  And, wouldn't you know, I got up to go to the bathroom at 3:15... Maddy'd left every light on in her wake, so I went downstairs... it was 3:22 and Katie wasn't up yet... but would be soon... I knew I wouldn't be able to get back to sleep, knowing that she'd be up within minutes... wondering if I'd hear her... needing to make sure she got up... so I waited.  I decided to check my email, read a couple of blogs -- I read them very closely, too, since I didn't even have my glasses on!

Yeah.  It didn't help to wait.  I still didn't really fall back asleep before my own alarm went off -- I tossed and dozed and hit snooze a few times so I could do it some more.  Watch for more ass-dragging this afternoon.

I forgot to make special mention of my new camera lens cap cord, visible in yesterday's "kaleidoscope" photo.  I'd been using plain old, knotted string and, while very serviceable, it left me wide open to ridicule and I finally had enough!  I made the new one myself, using these instructions for Twisted Cord.  I've been wanting to try this, with the finishing of Fibonacci in mind (for use in making frog closure or using as trim), and it was very easy to do, but not quite right for Fib.  (I just had to try.)  I have made myself a little cheat sheet from various sources for making Applied I-Cord and found some yarn to use for seaming and I've tucked it all into the Fib project box, and it means that I'm moving ever closer.  My enthusiasm for other projects is waning, but definitely ramping up again for this one!

I'm also excited about Sivia Harding's Victorian Shoulderette -- I ordered it on Friday and it was in my mailbox yesterday, nothing to complain about there!  Three suitable yarns come immediately to mind... four, maybe five... I'll have to look.  I found the appropriate circular needle and put it on the table by my chair this morning.  I'll bet this is fairly quick to knit -- and it's so pretty!

* * * * * *

Yesterday, Chelle asked, "What's helped?"  To what do I attribute the success in quitting smoking?  I couldn't really come up with an answer right away, and I thought about it a lot yesterday.

I had a long talk with a friend last night -- she went to her first AA meeting in years yesterday morning.  A lot of things have led her to this point, including family pressure, and we've talked frequently all along.  She used to feel guilty if she smoked while we talked on the phone.  ; )  She's been with me the whole way and we've talked a lot about the planning and preparation, why I smoked and why I miss it, why I don't give in -- even when, so many times in the last several months, almost anyone would have "understood."  Different addictions with many similarities.  She cried when I admitted that one thing that's helped is that I don't want to disappoint anyone -- and that the people I'm most worried about aren't necessarily the ones you'd think.  I'm most worried about Ann, who I'd never even met when I decided to throw my hat in her quit ring; all those people who were so supportive last year -- Cara with her Care Package of straws and gum sunflower seeds and DumDums (which I shared with Ann); they're Sarah and Lynne and Yvette who make tears spring to my eyes when I think of their thoughtfulness and encouragement.  They're people who, for the most part, were or continue to be strangers except by blogging.  They're not my husband or my mother or my kids... not those three kids who pleaded with me daily, for years, to quit smoking.  It's not them.  My friend was SO relieved -- she thought she was weird or warped for worrying more about disappointing strangers than her own family and friends!  It has to be that we know their love is unconditional -- sure, they'd get mad and maybe not talk to us for a while, but we know that they'd still love us and care for us -- always -- they'd eventually forgive us and come around.  And I guess, in the end, that helps, too.

Blah, blah, blah.  Thanks for reading.  ; )

Poised for take-off

Dsc07931_1 Dsc07926

These feet were made for walkin' and pretty soon, that's just what they're gonna do!  We spent a good part of yesterday at the mall, escaping the heat -- there was plenty to keep my nephew busy, thereby keeping us (his mom, me, and our mom) busy, and one of his favorites was this arrangement of two empty clothing racks.  He really liked negotiating between the vertical poles, and must have liked the feel of the cool metal on his bare feet.  He's awfully close to walking, but he gets around just fine using the butt-scoot method, too, which allows him to keep both hands free; there he goes!

Dsc07902On Sunday afternoon, we checked out the recently renovated children's museum -- here we are checking out the duck-under kaleidoscope.  We're already talking annual passes for Mack and Nana -- there's plenty there to keep the little guy occupied for a few years.

Thank goodness for the cooler weather that came in overnight.  I was up at 2:00 a.m. (!), being among the first to wish Norma a happy birthday (go on... you can, too), and I turned off the A/C and fans and threw open the windows!  Please, please, please let the reasonable weather prevail for a bit and, even more, I hope that the night of insomnia was just one of those flukey, extremely rare ones for me.

I had Julia's number -- the Knitting Naturalist at Yarnmaven was the random pic for the extra back issue of IK; it'll be in the mail this week!  That's just the impetus I need to get a few other overdue packages in the mail, too.  It was nice to hear from so many people -- so many NEW-to-me people.  I haven't had a chance to get around yet, but I will, and I'll definitely do this again sometime, if I can!  Jody's doin' it with a different issue -- let her know by the end of the day, if it's one you might want/need!

Ann and my sister and I are Sweet Sixteen this week...  16 months smoke-free!  That's 9,744 (and counting) cigarettes NOT smoked, over $1,700.00 saved, and nearly 2-1/2 months of my lifetime saved.  Who's better than us today?  One thing I've done with some of the money "saved" this year is to give it away more frequently than I used to -- I'm feeling a little deja vu with today's tsunami news.

I see the moon

Dsc06953It was so bright that it almost looked like the sun rising, but it was the wrong time of day!  'Twas the moon last evening, coming up in the eastern sky, dipping beneath some clouds, almost fooling me...

Yesterday dawned very gray and very wet -- ugh, very dreary.  Thank goodness it didn't last all day long.  We've had some warm days recently, and now a little water and a little sun and more warmth and *POP!* suddenly there's a bright green haze in the ravine as buds are swelling and bursting open.  And all the grass turned green yesterday!  It won't be long before my view to the east (shown) will be nothing but leaves.

* * * * *

I finished the Fibonacci back yesterday and have a good start on one of the fronts.  I considered washing and blocking the back, but think I'll wait for at least one of the fronts -- and that will likely be over the weekend.  It's going pretty quickly, and we're going to have a quiet holiday weekend, so maybe I'll get both fronts finished!  This is definitely stay-at-home knitting with all the color changes!

* * * * *

For the record, I have no aspirations to be waif-like -- I may have succumbed to that notion for five minutes once, in my early 20s, but that's too damn much work and absolutely no fun.  And, in the end, for what?  I like cake and cookies and brownies too much; I like dessert; I like to indulge!  I also like to be healthy, in a general sense -- eat well and good, get a little exercise -- but I'm not very diligent or vigilant about any of it.  And I'd like to fit comfortably into some of the clothes I own.  That's where WW comes in -- it's motivated and worked for me before, and in some other -- surprising -- ways.  At Tuesday night's meeting, the topic was "triggers" and I was reminded about how much I relied on things I'd learned at WW to help me quit smoking last year (which led to the current weight gain and back 'round to WW -- 'tis a vicious cycle, no?) -- being aware of when I ate/smoked, why I ate/smoked, what triggers the urge to eat/smoke and what can be done to avoid them...  All of the planning I did for the quit came rushing back, remembering how the worst time of day for me was right after work and so I changed the route I drove home -- and I still go home that way!  Truthfully, during the meeting, all I could think of was how it related to smoking, not eating -- I've been wanting to smoke SO badly, people, you just don't know...  Anyway, all I'm looking to do is eat a little better, exercise a little (because now there's like zip), and drop the 25-30 gained from the quit, which would put me well above that 1989 goal weight, but it's a place where I've been pretty comfortable in recent years.

Time for breakfast!


Dsc06758Look what was in my mailbox yesterday!  This is from my health insurance company.  They had sent me a questionnaire a few weeks ago, wondering if I was still quit, how many setbacks I had (zero!), whether and how I used their services.  I never expected that I'd get a Certificate of Achievement -- and a gift!

Dsc06760Take a closer look (click for big, as always) -- it's no gold watch, but have you ever seen a more adorable keychain calculator?  What is it about miniatures -- miniature anything -- that appeals so much?  I doubt that I'll put it on my keychain, but it will fit perfectly into my knitting tool/gadget box.

* * * * *

Michael was with it even more last night.  He passed swallow test #2 with flying colors, so the trach has been removed and he is on a diet of soft foods, which apparently includes chicken breast (lunch), meatloaf and green beans (dinner), along with the usual suspects (applesauce, pudding, mashed potatoes).  His diet is supplemented with tube feedings yet, 'til there is no question about his tolerance for solid food and to make sure he's getting the nourishment he needs.  He's lost at least 20 pounds these last few weeks.

There was a full day of therapies yesterday, with a slightly reduced schedule today.  He was able to recall and tell us about activities during the day and who visited or called.  He's also becoming more and more frustrated with his situation -- he referred to the hospital as a prison yesterday, and is very uncomfortable in the brace/collar -- and what a pain in the ass to get in and out of that full brace.  One of the worst parts and a huge frustration is that he can't look down.  When dinner was brought in last night, Mom asked him if it smelled good and he said that it sure did, but he wished he could see it.  He also complained of a stiff neck.  Poor little brother.  I'm afraid the biggest challenge in the next few weeks is going to be keeping his spirits up.  Any and all suggestions for making this phase more tolerable are most welcome.  ; )

Sorority & Celebration(s)

Dsc06745My sister made this pin for me to commemorate the one-year quit -- she's got a year in (plus a day), too.  Iota Delta Sigma -- I Don't Smoke.  That was something that our brother-in-law said to us and it stuck with us both -- that was the mindset.  'I can't go out for a cigarette because I don't smoke.'  There were days when that's all that ran through our minds, "I don't smoke.  I don't smoke.  I don't smoke."  Like writing it on the blackboard 500 times.

Can't believe it's been a year.  I am still trying to decide what I'd like to do for myself to celebrate -- I am juggling the idea of a make-over type thing or more of a spa-type thing (hot stone massage, a facial, reflexology).  It's the kind of thing that I can easily talk myself out of -- that even though I've saved over $1000 by not smoking this past year, I won't want to spend the money.  I should, though...

Dsc06749 Dsc06747 Dsc06748

The Olympic Quilter, having taken up the challenge, brought her finished block over the weekend!  Isn't it gorgeous?  I awarded her a gold medal, of course.  I hope I live long enough to see it as an actual, finished quilt.  ; )

March is a busy month -- and this one has been like no other.  Today, the first day of spring, is my 2nd blogiversary.  Incredible.  What a lot of fun -- more than I ever imagined.  The people I've met and challenges undertaken -- both personally and as concerns knitting -- kind of blow my mind.  Thanks for reading and commenting and offering support and advice and just being there.  It all kind of blows my mind sometimes.  In a good way, a very good way.  ; )

Getting over it

Dsc06580My sister, Twin-K, and her two sons arrived on my doorstep last night and, as she's wont to do, she had gifts in-hand!  She had a holiday tin full of sewing stuff for me with this Bizarro cartoon affixed to the lid.  Yesterday marked her 11-month quit anniversary, and today is mine.  My Quitnet email arrived, right on schedule, this morning:  6745+ cigarettes not smoked in those 11 months, and quickly closing in on $1200 "saved."

Dsc06581One interesting item in the tin is this UCO Automatic Needle Threader made in Germany, complete with instructions -- and my sister is trying to thread a needle with it as we speak!  It will thread both sewing needles and larger ones, like darners.  It's adorable.

Dsc06578Schedules are made to be amended, are they not?  I finished the second sleeve yesterday and they're both blocking now.  Karen brought her quilting, so I knocked off half the right front while she worked on one of her sampler blocks.  Woo.  I'm getting so excited about this -- it's also my symbolic, celebratory quit sweater -- and can feel the momentum building.  I do still feel the "heartbreak, pain & lost love" from having to end my relationship with Salem, but I know it was for the best.  ; )

Red are strawberries

RedscarfbuttonRedder than red roses
La la lalala
Redder than my scarf
Red are strawberries
Redder than red roses
Green the leaves are growing*

I found a skein of Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride Bulky, plus the remainders of another, in a nice maroon and Norma said that I could definitely use it for my contribution to the Red Scarf Project.  I tried to find a pattern on Monday night, but I was watching 24 and it was gripping, demanding my full attention, and I could not concentrate on anything!  There are 20 more hours in the next few months, for sure, that I will not be knitting -- you can take bets!  Anyway, Norma mentioned, and I'd noticed, that there were a lot of lacy red scarves being knit and she was concerned about the boys, so I'm knitting a narrow "boy scarf" in mistake rib.

Hey, I got a QuitNet email with numbers today:  306+ days, 6126 cigarettes not smoked, 1-1/2+ months of lifetime (on life support -- or not) saved, $1071 saved.  Yeah, baby, I'm okay with being a turkey among turkeys.

As announced yesterday, my event for the Harlot Olympics -- oooh, that might not be the best nickname, hm? -- I mean The 2006 Knitting Olympics (eh, TKO just doesn't have the oomph) is Williamsro.  I started this sweater a LONG time ago -- I bought the yarn shortly after my quit date, before the funds saved from smoking really equalled such a purchase (I rewarded myself early and often!), but the Cash Iroha was on sale and I just had to. This little splurge was to eventually become a symbol of my success -- why wear it on my sleeve when I can simply wear it?  I had a hell of a time finding the right color of Blossom -- the search even took me to New York City -- but I eventually scored on ebay.  I completed the sleeve/swatches and thought I was on target, so cast on and knit most of the back. It became apparent that it was not going to be the comfortable, maybe even roomy sweater I was after -- gauge was totally off!  So I ripped the back and stuffed the doomed sleeves into a bag and there it's been for quite a while now.  My training over the next few weeks will be concentrated on the ripping, winding, and recalculating.  An entire sweater in two weeks may seem daunting, but Mary Beth just knit this very same sweater in that timeframe, and she wasn't even competing -- she did it because it was FUN!  It wasn't 'til after I'd already thrown my hat into the burning ring of circular knitting needles that I realized I'd made plans to attend the WPT Garden Expo in Madison on opening weekend (my sister will be an exhibitor), also visiting with sisters and babies...  but I'm good.  I'll just have to train hard and concentrate.

Lastly, please give a nice blogland welcome to Chelle.  She's no stranger among us, but we may not recognize her wearing that shiny, new blog!  Now I'm off to shoot my Bs...

*The twins and I used to sing that to our little sister from our beds at night in a round.  I don't know where we learned it, or who wrote it, or whether it's part of a more substantial song, but it's awfully pretty and, apparently, very soothing.  An even bigger favorite was Today -- we can all sing it as if it were only last night.  We all remember the words to our elementary school song, too; I don't know what that says about us.  ; )

What's up?

Dsc06242This fair maid was around the corner and at the end of the street the other day -- couldn't miss her!!  What a hoot, huh?  Bringin' in the new year in style in our neighborhood!  The temps have been so mild lately, and now it's raining, so much of the snow you see there is now history.

Dsc06247I did have some knitterly gifts under the tree this at Christmas and, this morning, while I was shooting to share, look who else was under the tree.  It's been one of his favorite hang-outs and, thankfully, he's left the ornaments alone.  The tree will stay up 'til after the Feast of the Epiphany this year because that's what Grandma used to do, that's what Mom's doing, and... I don't feel like doing it 'til next weekend, along with just liking the way "Feast of the Epiphany" rolls off the tongue.  I'm not a stickler for tradition, though, as there have been plenty of years when the tree was history on the 26th!

Dsc06246_1So, my sis gave me a great gift this year...  a half-dozen of her hand-decorated cereal bowls and a large, round platter, and as I unwrapped and unpacked the bowls, there was a whimsical, vintage sewing notion nestled in each -- a card of buttons, a thimble, a packet of needles -- something new in each one.  She used two balls of Trekking XXL sock yarn, in addition to bubble wrap and tissue, to protect the stoneware with more vintage knitting items lining the bottom of the box:  two issues of Needlecraft magazine, a booklet of baby knitting patterns, a "circular knitting pin" (it has a metal cable) as well as a set of five, vintage, steel, double-pointed "pins."  It was a very fun gift to open and receive. Each of the bowls she made for me is unique in decoration (EVERY piece she makes is one-of-a-kind), so each one is like a separate gift to be admired, acknowledged, appreciated.  They are artfully stacked and displayed on my kitchen counter and may be there for a while.

Dsc06250Dsc06249Remember when I sewed the zipper into a sweater for a friend a while back -- kind of a round-about, something's up, "favor" for DH?  (The sewing was a snap, I tell you.  The hard part must be the basting and that had already been done!)  In return for the services of my sewing machine, the friend gave DH a stack of old knitting/craft magazines, for which he then found a pretty box in which to put them, and wrapped them up for me!  When I opened the box, the "Modern Needle-craft" that you see at left was on top -- that was the issue that was current when I was born.  There are a few older issues of "Vogue Knitting Book," the earliest of which is Spring/Summer 1954, pictured at right.  These are a blast.

I am positively honored and, really, just verklempt to be acknowledged in JenLa's Second Annual Knit Blog Awards show.  The blogging of the quit has been immeasurable in my success.  The winning of a frickin' award -- an admitted "we are making this shit up" award -- for the quit pretty much seals it, you know?  It's funny, to me, because I briefly mentioned smoking in my very well-typed (for a woman who had two grande margaritas under her belt, along with a starter margarita before leaving home and a nightcap margarita afterwards -- and while writing) New Year's post...  I hadn't given much thought to the smoking and drinking 'til we'd pretty much arrived at the door on New Year's Eve.  One step inside reminded me that, oh yeah, there's that recently passed no-smoking ordinance, and that was kind of a relief.  I'd decided that we'd sit by the windows, though, not realizing that I'd picked a front-and-center seat to watch as everyone else went outside, in a steady stream, to smoke!!  It's been hard, the holidays are stressful, I'm fat, I miss smoking a lot, I want to smoke... but I can't -- all the reasons I try to come up with for why I should are just plain stupid.  So I struggle to some degree almost everyday and I make the choice every single day -- most days it's fairly easy, but some days it's hard and it feels like I'm "making the choice" over and over and over.  It's pretty weird to think that anyone has found strength here, too, while I still feel such weakness sometimes.  I guess that's what support is all about.  Honestly, the Thank You Award goes to each and every one of you!!

Yeah, I'm pretty good at being verklempt, too, huh?

I feel as though I've been knitting in slow motion all week.  I have begun the two on my first Jaywalker, though, and I'm very excited -- I will likely finish it today while I watch the Badgers (the game's already underway -- I'm so SLOW today).  I did not knit at all during the Packer game yesterday, giving full attention to (as I'm so SICK of hearing, but have to repeat) possibly Brett Favre's last game.  The firing of Mike Sherman as coach this morning was surprising, to me, but I have no clue how it's going to go for Brett or how the coaching staff decisions will affect his decision.  I, for one, would like him to play one last season.  I'd actually like him to play for "four more years," as the crowd at Lambeau chanted a few times yesterday, but one would be good, and I think it would be good to know, at the outset, that it would be his last, no matter what.  That would end the speculation with every frickin' pass, every tick of the game clock.  One last season, give it your all, come what may.  The end.

Dsc06085I forgot to mention that I am working on Spherey's limbs -- so far, there's only an arm, but they work up quickly.  He's propped, like a smiling orange, in a small dish on the entertainment center at the moment, overseeing the living room and, with that wonderful smile, it appears that he approves.

Mary in Boston was correct when she noted yesterday that Scamp was atop Time magazine. We laughed about cats and how they like to do that -- usually when we're actually trying to read.  That reminded me of this picture I took of Duncan and the Sunday paper a couple of weeks ago.  Isn't he adorable?  Well, yes; that's why I ran, chuckling, for the camera instead of tossing him off.  We've had him for about a year now and he's like everybody's favorite sidekick, except maybe Roxie's, and he's just so charming. He and Scamp scuffle playfully everyday in a way that reminds me of Mufasa and Simba in The Lion King -- Scamp's like, "Yeah, I'll let you think you're as great as you think you are, and that maybe you even have a chance, but in the end, buddy, I'm still head cat around here and you won't forget it.  Just your daily reminder."  In a nice way.

Busy day yesterday.  Maddy has no cavities; let's hope the result is the same for Ali today and Katie next week.  Results of my test(s) are not back yet, but not much reason for concern.  It's the first time I stepped on an official scale in a very long time (haven't used the unofficial one much recently, either) and I can now say that it's just shy of 25 extra pounds traded for that extra grand that I've saved by not smoking thousands of cigarettes.  The doc, of course, said she'd rather see a little extra weight than continued smoking.  Interestingly, on the way to the doctor's office, I heard part of a call-in radio show (I had mom's vehicle and could not figure out how to switch from AM to FM) regarding the Scotts Miracle-Gro Co.'s policy regarding smokers -- basically, quit or you're fired.  More info here.  One of the TV network news shows aired a similar segment/different company recently.  That led to call-in discussion about other health risks due to lifestyle choices -- mainly obesity and alcohol consumption -- and the idea that people with higher risk would pay more for health insurance.  Scary territory... Who decides what and how much of it is a risk?  Who decides that someone is obese due to choice?  Will Big Macs be regulated?  If you're going to make this type of argument, couldn't you say that people who engage in risky hobbies (some of whom already pay more for life insurance) -- sky-diving, car racing, downhill skiing, maybe even rollerblading -- pay more for health insurance, too, being more likely to have a serious accident requiring a doctor visit than someone who, let's say, knits?  Scary, scary.  I'm just happy that I quit smoking on my terms, not my employer's or my insurance company's.

Anyway, Katie's home from college with all her stuff -- DH went to get her yesterday afternoon.  She leaves for London in three short weeks.

I am suffering from holiday-induced ADD.  Let's not talk about knitting today.

Fine, be that way!

Bloglines is wonderful.  It's also very aggravating when it ignores you for days and days and days.  So fine, you don't want to update my feeds?  I'll blog some MORE!  That'll show ya.

It's a sad and sorry state when I'm scrolling through my own list of Bloglines subscriptions with a self-imposed mandate to read only those with more than 20 unread posts.  I just can't keep up, but eventually I get around to it, even if it's a month and a half later.

So, I found myself at Stitches of Violet.  I think everyone would agree with me if I said that Margaret is an angel.  It was there that I found the link to the Restash Network, dedicated to replenishing the stash of knitters who may have lost it all in disaster.  While not on the same level with donating blood, I think this is worthy and important.

I have a nephew with Down Syndrome and he's crazy about movies.  He has an extensive collection of videos (perhaps a shift to DVD this Christmas?) and is delighted to reenact favorite scenes -- or "Step In Time" with his fellow chimney sweep (aka, little brother) using the coffee table and sofa as props -- anytime!  Well, my sister wrote to me a couple of weeks ago and wondered what she should do with a video she ran across at home -- she'd purchased it for my nephew a while back, forgetting that he already had it.  Should she try to return it, even though it's been months (and even though the store she bought it from has already made the shift from VHS to DVD)?  Keep it as a collector's item?  "Ack," I wrote, "why bother?"  I suggested that she donate it, to think about all the kids in New Orleans who lost their videos -- what would her son do if his collection were washed away?  He'd survive, of course, as would I if my stash were lost, but they are silly little things that soothe, make us happy, and are one more step back to Normal.  (Hey, that's in Illinois, isn't it?)

This weekend, I'll be going through my stash again, and my needles and my books and magazines.  Right now, there are a few more 20+ subscriptions to read -- who knows what else I might find!

Blue, blue, my world is blue

Well, now I've really done it.  "Love Is Blue" ranks right up there with... (oh, I can't even risk thinking of other titles)... on my "Oh, I Hate That Song List" and now it'll be running through my head all day.  Dumb, sappy lyrics paired with sprightly yet mournful music -- GAG, double-GAG because I used to have to play that stupid song on the piano in the day, too.

I'm kind of blue and swirling here... Mdd $tarted high $chool today, Kt'$ leaving for her $chool today, bought book$ for Ai ye$terday, I can't even bear to look at ga$ price$ anymore, the deva$tation of Katrina i$ impo$$ible to fathom, the co$t$ will be $taggering.  It's not about money, and yet it has to be -- the economic ramifications of a bad situation that just gets worse and worse, shortages, problems of availability...  Yeah, I'm blue -- I don't think I'm sinking, but definitely swirling.

It's been a tough week.  Kind of a tough month.  Change is good -- Kt's ready to go, it's time for all three to start school -- but there's always accompanying angst and frustration.  Maybe being grouchy and even having a blow-up is nature's way of transitioning in some sick way.  I could have written Ann's post the other day, except for the presents and not quite so much cleaning -- at least not at my house.  I vacuummed my sister's in record time last weekend when it was learned that Mom was arriving earlier than planned.  Thankfully, it's starting to subside and I'm hoping to find a more even keel soon.  Man, I haven't struggled over cigarettes so much since Quit Week One -- last weekend and early this week have been huge and I tire myself out with the stupidity of attempting to justify why I should smoke.  I know...

September dawns anew and I'm hoping for better.

Dsc05321Dsc04949close_2Here's something guaranteed to bring a smile -- for me, anyway.  Forgive me, but he's utterly smoochable. When I look at him, I can't help but be hopeful -- for him and all his diaper-clad cohorts!  (Look at how he's changed!)

In the teensiest bit of knitting news ever, I had the ball winder and swift in action last night, and I've been knitting on the Caryl's Ker/shawl.  I measured off the amount needed for last row/bind off last night and should have enough for a few more repeats.  We're going up north this weekend and perhaps I'll finish it.

Margene and Susan and Norma have all got Katrina-relief things going -- I've been laying low in blogland, but I'm sure there are others.  There's always the Red Cross and Salvation Army.  The Green Bay Packers weren't alone on the plane on their way to their last preseason game in Tennessee -- a number of players live or have family in Louisiana and Mississippi.  It will be a somber game tonight and I expect a lot of hurricane talk, but there is nothing like Packer fans when it comes to supporting their team and rallying when help is needed.  Ask 'em.

Yeah, I'm hooked

Dsc05236rOh boy, I'm really, really hooked.  You guys were right.  Hook, line and sinker.  That's a detail shot of the scalloped edging option (which I opted for) on my first Waving Lace Sock.  I waved one way and then waved back last night, completing one full pattern repeat, while watching the Packers beat the Chargers in their first preseason game.  Heh, doin' The Wave while watching football -- that's appropriate!

You're so right, Colleen, you probably did see this yarn when we met up at The Point.  I'd originally bought it with the intention of giving it away, then I realized that practically all of the yarn I bought in NYC was to give away and so I decided to keep some -- yarn buyer's prerogative.  Stacie, this is the same yarn that I sent to you, except yours is blue -- oh, I love it! So far, it's knitting up very nicely.  I had a less detailed shot to show you, but I forgot to resize it, so it actually shows even more detail because it's so frickin' HUGE.  (Lots of people have switched, though, so is dial-up still a concern?  It would be a major infliction, this one.)  The sock is knitting up so nicely that it appears to be the swooning strain of sock sickness from which I'm presently (willingly) suffering.

So the last time I watched football, I was still a smoker.  WHAM!  I got hit with a biggie urge last night at the first 2:00 warning.  I used to have a celebratory (or commiseratory) smoke after each score, but being a very low-scoring game, that wasn't much of an issue last night.  Those 2:00 warnings, though -- and by some fluke, there were THREE instead of the normal two!  Wow.  I just put my head down and concentrated extra-hard on my knitting 'til, as Joan says, it passed over like a cloud.  I used to smoke a lot during half-time, too, and I would have missed getting pissed off at T.O. and his "only $12 million," whatever the hell that was about.  Cara, darling, my sympathies, but better you/Eagles than me/Packers.  It was a pretty good Favre-fest, though (Stephanie, were you and Henry watching), and Captain Favrelous just may have some super powers up his sleeve yet this season.  Go Pack Go!

I wear my sunglasses...

Night1...at night.  Do you know it?  That song *is* the '80s -- and just makes me think "pouty."

With Mdd at camp this week and Kt having left for Toronto at 6:00 this morning, I won't be photographing the grrs together for a while.  Perhaps you couldn't see Mdd's haircut very well in the weekend photo, but I think you'll agree that it's shorter, very blonde, and quite cute.  Her roots are starting to show and they look much darker than I remember.  Kt and Ai both snip at their hair constantly -- they've both changed a little even since this photo was taken a couple of weeks ago.  They've been having great fun shopping for sunglasses at thrift stores this summer!

I've finished the leg and started the heel (oops, I typed "hell" -- I'm going to pretend that never happened) of my sock.  Someday, I hope, socks will be my take-along knitting and that I'll always have one on the needles, as so many other knitters.  I am so anxious to get the first one (okay, two) done, though, that I've been working on it exclusively.

I did do a little organizing and rearranging of the stash last night.  Where did that ball -- those balls -- of self-striping sock yarn come from?  I opened a drawer in a chest and found both forgotten yarn and project(s) in need of finishing.  As far as I can see, there's no reason for any new yarn to cross my threshold for a while.

Heather left a comment yesterday and said that her husband quit smoking 3 weeks ago (YayForHim!).  I wrote back to her said that it's hard for me to even remember what I was feeling at 3 weeks, but I know it wasn't as good as today!  I still think about smoking everyday, sometimes several times a day (especially when I see someone smoking or smoke escaping through an open car window or something triggers what used to be "break").  I can more "easily" put it out of my mind and lose the craving these days, but I can pretty much tell you, at any given point in time, how long I've been quit.  I wonder if I'll ever be like Ann (who quit at the same time as me), or my sister, who really seem to not think about it much at all.

Got Pepper?

I love Anna's Sargeant Pepper so much that it brings tears to my eyes.  I am absolutely astounded by her creativity and this is one of the best things I've seen in a long time -- it makes me happy on so many levels.  Doesn't hurt that I've been a huge Beatles fan forever, that a babysitter took me to see HELP when I was in second grade, that one of my most precious memories is when my brother sang "Hey, Jude" to our mom over his new walkie talkies on Christmas morning one year.  All those things and more, PLUS astounding creativity, and I'm swooning.  Anyway, Anna is generously offering a free download of the pattern, for a limited time, so if you're interested head on over and don't forget to say thank you!

Now, mention Ch*rlie & The Chocol*te F*ctory and it's the complete opposite.  I can't even link to it -- I can't stand the styling and how people look in that movie and can't imagine that I'd ever be able to sit through it because I can't look at it.  It's like Stepford Wives meets Willie Wonka.  Ick.  Ai went to see it at midnight with a bunch of her friends and she really liked it.  I know I'm going to have to see it eventually because the grrs are such huge JD fans.

I am coming up on the end of the first two balls of Cash Iroha and have about 3 inches to go before calling the first sleeve of Williamsro finished.  When I first started knitting with that stuff, I wasn't so sure, but the more I knit, the more I love it.  I want it next to my skin!!

Monday will mark 4 months smoke-free.  I had a Quitnet email this morning with some darn impressive numbers... 119 days, 2838 cigarettes not smoked (OMG!), and over $400 "saved."  I can send in my receipts to be reimbursed for the patches I bought.  I lost the first receipt, though, being a little disoriented, but two is better than none!  I still have most of a box of patches, too, since I quit that a bit early.  I don't know what to do with them.  One of the guys at work quit cold turkey a couple of weeks ago, and so did his wife (dunno, don't think she was ready); he said something about how you'd think they'd be seeing a difference in their wallet...  I just laughed and told him how I've been rewarding myself and that I've been rewarded well into the future!  Anyway, YayForUs!!!  (You know who you are!)

Mdd leaves for camp on Sunday.  Kt is leaving for Toronto with a friend on Tuesday (her friend is checking out a school there) -- same friend that was going to school in Boston last year; Kt may see the world just visiting this friend wherever she ends up piecing together an education.  For much of the week, it'll just be Ai at home.  This has been a very different summer.  I don't like it, but I may as well get used to it.  They're all getting so busy -- even my baby! -- getting on with their own lives, and it's so hard to plan stuff.  On the bright side, my favorite little man is coming to visit late next week and I can't wait!


I am knitting an adorable Bunny of Kate's design in orange Berroco Plush.  It's "papa" size and reminds me of orange sherbet or a Dreamsicle.  Mmmmm, and OMG is it ever soft!  I'm also knitting a Debbie Bliss bear of Rowan Cotton Glace which is tiny and fast, but also tiny and futzy, and sometimes I'm not in the mood (or my hands cramp).  And Cromarty's second sleeve is being worked very, very slowly.  And blocking Goldie didn't help the shoulder problem, so it's draped over a chair while I plot my course.

Meanwhile, I'm waiting for a baby to be born because I'm tired of knitting gender-neutral baby things.  I am so hoping to cast on something pink -- with frills or lace.  Due date is June 5th, but my sister's already 75% effaced and the baby is "in position."  Even though my youngest child is about to enter high school, part of me wishes that I was having a baby, too.  Oh, I know I'm nuts, and I'm sure it'll pass...

I believe I'm about two weeks without any nicotine replacement therapy.  I'd just cracked the last box, Step 3, of the patch when my 19-years-quit BIL came to visit again.  While congratulating me on my success and warning me about feeling too confident, he muttered, "Lose the patch."  I don't know why I listen to him, but I do.  So, I lost it.  I had one bad week and a horrible, horrible day, but I'm better and I think I've gone through the worst.  I'm not to the point yet where I wonder why I ever smoked or why I didn't quit years ago -- they tell me that I'll eventually get there -- but the cravings are far fewer and fleeting.  I am managing (key words).  If I can do it, you can, too.  ((hugs))

We've lost Duncan.  It's been over a week and we all miss him.  I keep praying that he'll come back.  I think Mickey is, too.

I've been working on a meme that Katy sent me for hours.  Why can't I easily come up with the answers to these questions when I'm on the spot???  Tomorrow...

I can move!

Okay, Jazzercise was a blast!  I don't know all the moves (but there's video online, how cool is that?), so I know I didn't get the workout that I could have, but it was enough that I've definitely been reminded of some muscles that had slipped my mind.  There are some "new" options, like using weights and bands, and I like that.  I feel great -- I'll skip it tonight (or I really might need a wheelchair), but will go again on Saturday morning.  My friend said, "I didn't want to like it, but I do!"  ; )

Dsc04379Dsc04378Sweet!  Lesli is a Quitter in GA.  I sent her an atta-girl package a few weeks ago and look, she sent one in return!  Taking my cue from the tins of Starbucks after-coffee mints and after-coffee gum, the photo was taken this morning with my coffee pot as the morning nectar brewed.  The lavender sachet has already been placed in my yarn hamper and I took a big whiff of the soap as I placed it in a dish upstairs -- yum!  She sent a great card, "Woo-Hoo!" and a package of gift cards that I can use, and "365 Knitting Stitches A Year."  Oh yeah, and really good cookies.  Thank you, Lesli!  There have been lots of triggers this week and I've thought about smoking more than I have in a while; I really needed a "Woo-Hoo!"

One of the biggest triggers has been the continuing frustration with my freaking internet connection at home.  I'm sorry for the lack of emails in response to comments, but I'm trying to remain a nonsmoker.  I've run every kind of virus, adware and spyware thing I can think of, plus the "soft restore," and it's still slower than molasses in January, though ever-so-slightly improved last night/this morning.  I finally called Time-Warner this morning to see if there's some overall degradation in my area or something.  Apparently, there was some sort of upgrade in late January and my current modem is no longer compatible; I should have received (didn't) an email about trading it in.  Huh.  I don't know if that will totally fix my problem, but if I can get to their office before 6 tonight, we'll soon find out!

Let's focus on something else

I'm trying not to think about a few things:

States east of me that start with M.  Michigan = The closest stop on the Harlot Tour and yet too far.  According to Google Maps, it's 5-1/2 hours from my house to Kalamazoo -- I'll bet it would take half that time (and worth considering) if it wasn't for that stupid lake.  Maryland = Waaaaaaaaaaaaa.

Computers.  I think I'm making progress.  My mouse suffered no abuse last night (and neither did I spend all night with it in my hand).  I'm dedicating the weekend to solving the problem(s) in one manner or another.  I'll also be able to practice my knitting while computing (I've never been very good at it).

Knitting.  I worked on Cromarty and by the end of the night, I'd frogged everything I'd accomplished and more.  Obviously, I still need to practice "reading my knitting."  I'm happy that I'm working a sleeve instead of one of the body pieces.  The good news is that, in the process, I also ripped an additional mistake that I was going to live with, but now I won't have to.  Maybe I just need to loosen up.

Smoking.  My morning Quitnet numbers:  49 days; 983 cigs; 7 days, 12 hours; $171.50.  By this time tomorrow, that cig number will be over a thousand.  One thousand.  1,000.  It's still hard sometimes, but numbers like that motivate me.

On the bright side:

States east of me that start with M.  There will be bloggers galore at both events and I have not yet tired of such tales (or pictures).  There are sure to be antics in Maryland with the list of known attendees being what it is; y'all be sure to spill.  I want people stories sprinkled with pics of cute sheep, gorgeous yarn and breathtaking fiber.  Don't be shy you guys -- if you recognize anyone/anything (a plain vanilla sweater, a tank top setting off metal detectors, Hulda, a sock taking in the sights, an Aran that you know you've seen somewhere before), you walk right up and say hello, rub some shoulders, take some pictures.  No one's going to think you're weird -- you're one more crazy knitter amongst a bunch of crazy knitters!  You know you'll be sorry if you don't.  And I'm counting on you!!

Computers.  Really, if it weren't for computers, I wouldn't be a part of all this fun.

Knitting.  I'm holding down the fort at work today, and that means knitting!  I'm going to practice reading Cromarty and I brought a baby bootie.

Smoking.  Did you see those numbers?  I'm so proud of all the quitters.

Have a great weekend and Happy Mother's Day.

It's only words...

Apr28aI followed the link to Opal Yarns that I found on my visit to Lynne's this morning, and eventually landed on the page with the scarf pattern.  I recalled a very attractive scarf that was a show and tell item at the Midwest Masters a couple of weeks ago.  It was a long tube, sewn together at each end (and fringed?) that had been knit with scraps and leftovers of various self-patterning sock yarns and it was really, really cute.

If you scroll all the way to the bottom (but oohing and aahing on the way) of this post, you'll see that Carissa has started Cromarty (and is putting together St. Brigid, which I'm so anxious to see) and that she's linked to another Cromarty knitter who inspired her to start.  I'm getting inspired to finish mine.  I sewed one of Goldie's sleeve seams, wove in a bunch o' more ends and pinned it in place, but I could go no further.  I'm getting that monkey off my back this weekend and Cromarty's gonna see some action!

Ai's been watching this, training for her new gig (her at-this-point-in-time dream job) at a local coffee shop.  She was bored out of her gourd at the retail cashier job (surprisingly, not as consistently busy as expected), so jumped at this offer.  She's quite pleased that she'll be able to walk to work, too.

Tomorrow night, I'll see my baby sister and her growing bump -- and her husband and his youngest (for a few more weeks).  I'm so looking forward to it!

I applied the first of the last 14 nicotine patches this morning.  I was surprised by its size!  I've only ever used the Step 2 (14mg) patch, and it's was about 1-1/2 x 2 inches.  The Step 3 (7mg) patch is adorable -- just a little bit bigger than a postage stamp.  The packaging isn't any different, so I wasn't expecting anything different.  Those Step 1 (21mg) patches must be pretty big!  Anyway, my Quitnet stats as of this morning:  42+ days quit, 843 cigarettes not smoked, 6 days 10 hours added, $147 saved.

Climb Ev'ry Mountain, they say!  Hell's bells, my hills alive or your blossoms of snow, we're doin' it Ann!  I Have Confidence in me and you all the Cold Turkey Knitters that we can say So Long, Farewell for good!  I just love a good musical, don't you?

Cart before the horse

And I'm back again to fix a bad link, so if you haven't seen Knit Club yet, go see that, too (found via Needles and Hooks).

I'm sorry, I have to barge right in with an update.  If you have not been to Ann's for her "Oprah and a Cheesecake" post yet today, then go.  Right now.  I'll wait.  I haven't even finished reading it yet and I had to come back over here to point you over there.  Go now, learn somethin',  then come back.

Dsc04279Dsc04280_1I've had the books on the left forever; well, since the '80s.  More Knitting In Vogue has always seemed a little incomplete -- 'til now!  As of yesterday, I know what precedes the "more"!  Susie has been so supportive of the quit effort and I've been enjoying her blog (go see her daughter's wedding dress, and she's looking for advice about blog hosts).  When she made a recent haul at a thrift store, she looking to give away some of the excess.  I raised my hand.  She sent them out via UPS and I was tracking the package through the new Bloglines package tracking feature (though it never showed as updated, the info was there when I clicked by chance), so I knew they'd be waiting for me when I got home last night.  Nifty.

Dsc04282She also sent the container of espresso beans atop the books -- how did you know that I love those, Susie?  How did you know that my supply is dangerously low??  And look at those cute stitch markers.  Sweet.  Thank you, Susie!


I was on the phone all night with the twins.  It's the first time I actually talked with my quitter sister since we quit (we usually email daily)!  It was very interesting, as we've both approached it in very different ways.  I'd barely put the phone down when it rang again.  I can't knit and hold a phone in the crook of my neck -- it would lead to traction or at least a neck brace -- so the knitting was put off (way off) last night.  When I finally did sit to knit, I decided to get started on a baby bootie.  Good grief, I barely got started and I was almost finished!  Teeeeny.  Isn't it cute?  I'll knit the partner tonight, then knit another pair with larger needles (bigger bootie) and I'll still have plenty of Kool-aid yarn to knit another bunch o' booties!

Speaking of smoking.  Five weeks.  FIVE WEEKS TODAY!  Can you believe it, Ann?  My sister said to thank you, by the way.  If you had not been my catalyst to quit, I wouldn't have been hers, and we'd still be controlled by stupid cigarettes.

Did I mention that one of the strongest urges I've had to date was after my first knitting class on Saturday?  I had some weird anxiety building up as the date neared -- my first-ever class, concerns about ability, meeting a blogger, being a blogger -- all of that was fine, no one pointed or laughed at me for any reason.  I was able to execute, to some degree, every knitting move that I was asked to do -- with Joyce Williams or Lizbeth Upitis or Lily Chin -- classmates, even -- looking over my shoulder!  It was all extremely enjoyable, but incredibly intense -- learning new things, knitting with other people, looking at the incredible work of others -- when that class let out, I wanted a smoke.  A month earlier, I would have been out the door like a shot, the cigarette lit before the door closed behind me.  I would have been contemplating, relaxing, absorbing, relaxing, going over what I'd learned, relaxing.

It was at that very moment -- that VERY MOMENT -- that Amy Lu (the fellow blogger) asked, "So, how's the quitting smoking going?"  I was in the midst of resisting an urge and I think I told her about it.  Then I think I said, "It's going okaaaaaay."  And then, along with the other Amy, we went out to lunch!

It's Kt's 20th birthday today.  Twenty years ago today, I woke up at a little after 4:00 a.m.  I started writing numbers down on a piece of paper (which I still have):  4:19, 4:25, 4:29, 4:35 -- 5:17, 5:23, 5:30 -- 6:53, 6:57, 7:03, 7:10 -- some of these were written in DH's hand, some of them have numbers following them, signifying duration, I think, and a couple of have the words "very mild" written after them.  There's one line that reads, "Shower 3 or 4."  Yep, it's a record of my contractions.  They pretty much started off at 5 +/- minutes apart and stayed that way all day.  I sent DH to work, and called my doc (the only person I know from Saskatchewan) to see if I should wait and keep my regularly scheduled appointment that day or just come in whenever.  I kept track until 11:24 when I left the motel.  I drove myself -- in a manual transmission Subaru, hitting the clutch between contractions -- the 15 miles to DH's workplace so he could take me to the hospital.  At 10:00 p.m., I finally gave birth to a 6 lb. 10 oz., 20" redhead.  Happy Birthday, Katherine!

It's one of those days, people.  I've got lots more to say.  Most of it is about smoking, though, so I'm going to use that nifty extended entry feature...

Continue reading "Cart before the horse" »

Can't stand it

CuteAi had a really good time at prom.

It was a busy weekend.  On Saturday morning, I worked a couple of hours at the antique mall for my neighbor -- she could have used me for more, and I would have liked to have helped her out, but I had to spend some time with Turbo Tax.  I also knew that I'd be taking a drive with DH to check out a space that he's thinking of renting in a small community about 15 minutes from home.  It's a mostly sleepy farm town, but it's awakening -- there has been some new development and interest.  We took a totally unknown route out of town and just felt our way back to familiar territory -- one of my favorite things to do!  I love maps and I know how to use them, but I don't mind exploring and intentionally "getting lost" now and then.  I don't always have to know exactly where I am or where I'm going.  Which is a good thing because sometimes it seems that that's my life!

Then it was prom preparations.  All of Ai's friends met at our house, then we all went over to my mother's house for pictures.  She has a huge family room with fireplace (and she's a thousand times better at housekeeping than I am) and it worked great for the group shots.  I'll get some more pics together

Kt came home on Saturday night.  She'd had DH's van at school this week while her car was in the shop, and she decided that she may as well start bringing stuff home from school.  School's out for the summer (for her) in just five short weeks!  We did laundry, of course, and some shopping, too.

On Friday, I finished Goldie's sleeves while watching "Ray."  As of last night, they're both back on the needles, ripped to the beginning of cap shaping.  I had Kt "try on" the sweater and not only were the sleeves a little too short for her, the cap wasn't anywhere near what it needed to be!  Boy, I'd sure like to finish that up this week!

And there were goodies in the mail!  I was completely surprised to find a "three week" package from Connie containing Knitter's Little Helper Hand Balm.  Mmmm, it feels as good as it smells, Connie!  Thank you.  One of the pics on the card she made was of a very cute hat she knit using this free pattern from Knitting Pure & Simple, and I have to make it!  On Saturday, another "three week" present arrived from Ann -- a Tostetoes Drawstring Bag and she made it herself!  With pansy fabric!!  Thank you!  I'll get pics up this week.

This past weekend, my fourth non-smoking weekend, was much easier than the second and third.  The first was SO different -- almost unreal, as the focus was on just making it through the weekend.  Since then, the future -- all the rest of the weekends of my life -- have been coming into smoke-free focus.  Still a mixed bag of emotions and feelings, but I think I'm finding a more even keel.