Standing by

Dulles Airport -> somewhere over the Atlantic

Since we finished up yesterday, I got to sleep in a couple of extra minutes this morning before packing up everything.

Would you believe that I never got to a yarn store? But I did hit the book stores and found a couple of pullovers, so that will have to do.

The flight I was scheduled for was at 2030 and went to Muenchen. From there I would have had to change planes and fly the 30 minutes to Frankfurt before catching my train home.

Deciding it was worth spending a lot of time at the airport, I ditched the rental car and was the first person at the Lufthansa Counter. The nice lady put me first on the standby list for the 1800 flight direct to Frankfurt, tagged my luggage so that it would make the flight if I did and put in the frequent flyer miles from both legs of the trip. Not shabby at all.

The flight was full. Or at least coach was until several passengers used mileage or money to upgrade themselves. That opened up a couple of seats and I got on. And, being that I am such a nice person, I even traded seats with a guy who wanted to sit in the same row as his friends.

It actually was not that good a deal, as one of the last people onto the plane, the overhead compartments were pretty full and I had one of those strange isle seats at the back where there is no “under the seat in front of you.” I probably made more than one person unhappy by moving around briefcases and coats, but hey, what choice did I have?



Just so you will recognize the Fernbahn Station at the Frankfurt Airport should you need to.



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I was downrange with Jonah while his wife coped with their [then] 4 year-old triplet sons. He is now stationed close to where I am playing in the exercise that is just finished. They were kind enough to feed me dinner, even giving me a ride so that I would not get lost while sleepy in the dark

At eight I suspect that the boys are even more full of energy than when younger.

It was not quiet, someone was always in motion.

My hat is off to Paula!


On to the next yarn –salmonball1.jpg

which looks like this when started –



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Second Team Up

It is dark in the morning, it is dark at night.

Did I mention waking up at 0300 in the morning still and having to wait for juice and coffee? The Sleep Inn (which I can’t) at least includes a breakfast in the price. Hot beverage (add the flavoring syrup to the coffee yourself), juice, danish, bagels and cereal. The yogurt was awful, I am capable of learning on the first go round.

My crew, since they rotated out of the box, got to be role players for the CONUS based team. There was a fair amount of downtime.

I crashed early but


found time to complete the socks for Ms Pink.



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Playing Roles


I am playing multiple roles in this exercise, kind of like a role playing game where you keep changing characters. What I am not doing is acting as the team leader for my team since I helped work out both scenarios. Didn’t make my team really happy, but they are surviving and probably learning more than if I was actually playing myself. And if not – there were enough discussions going on.


That took care of 0800-1600+. Then


I got directions to the nearest major bookstore which turned out to be a Borders. I was really good. I mean really. I spent almost three hours in the bookstore and purchased only three paperbacks.

Shall we not talk about the list of close to 30 ISBNs I have written down for future consideration?

I can’t be the only one who really needs to handle books. Reading reviews helps a little, but ordering on line is a duck shoot in the pouring rain. Best I can do is judge by the author’s past works and the cover. My taste in cover art is obviously not that of the current young crop of editors.

Being able to hold the book, read the back cover and maybe the first few pages makes a difference for me, especially if it is a new author. Paperbacks are not as expensive as hardbacks but still, I don’t like buying books that I will wind up not wanting to keep.

When it comes to fiber books, I am even fussier. Looking through most of the new books out, few have anything to recommend them that I do not already have in either reference books or in pattern pamphlets.


Oh yes, socks started for Ms Pink out of Regia Crazy Stripe.


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It is dark out

According to East Coast time – it was 1930 when I went to bed last night. Add a nice round six hours to that and you will know why I was hardly able to find the light switch as I staggered into bed.

And then I woke up a few hours later. It was 0245 in the freaking morning. But my body claimed that it was 0845 and I was late.

The place has free internet! But since I was completely brain dead, nothing useful came of it. Finished up the Dante Valentine book I was reading [Lilith Saintcrow] and went off to a full day exerice on Edgewoood.

We will skip the part about following the other vehicle which happily turned left at an intersection through the end of the yellow leaving me behind. And the following hour where I tried to locate them on the base before giving up, going back to the hotel and getting a email printout listing the building number.

(I will continue to wonder why no one in the HQ had a clue as to where we were holding this. No one, it seems, of any importance comes to work before 0900).

Foolish me, thinking that if my organization was paying for and running an exercise that included a number of out of town players, I might let the staff duty officer in on the secret.

I skipped dinner to crash.


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Wail of a plane trip

According the to itinerary emailed to me by my OPS officer, our flight on United Airlines was to go out at 1215. Arriving by train at the Frankfurt Airport in what I thought was plenty of time – the flight on the board was listed as 1115. It was now slightly before 1000.

No sweat, thinks I. I am in line at the counter and the line seems to be moving. Getting to the nice young man at the check-in, he informs me that he can see my reservation, but no ticket number against it. Since it was a government purchase, I have to go and talk to SATO. They are over in Terminal 2.

Through the terminal, take the skytrain and go nuts trying to find the window which turns out to the in the far back corner of  Section E.

Yes, I am in the computer, no – he can’t issue me the ticket since I don’t have a government credit card. The other alternative is handing over a copy of my orders. We are on this new, electronic DTS system. I had opened the screen for this travel on Friday, printing three sets just in case there was a problem. I pull them out.

The orders say Garmisch. They are orders for a previous trip. Now either I hit the wrong button, or the label in the electronic system is wrong. Either way, I am screwed. Since I don’t have a government credit card – no tickets.

Searching through SABRE, he finally finds another flight out an hour later, but the return comes through Muenchen. Thrilling – it will take me an extra three hours to get home. The ticket is 50E cheaper than what it cost for the rest of the crew. Some saving grace at least. He books me through Lufthansa (which is going to be a challenge later – except for the fact that there is a matching UA number).

By this time, the 1215 flight should be boarded and ready to push back. Leaving a message with that gate agent for the six people whom I was supposed to have met, I manage to get through security and to my own gate just as they are starting to board.

Flight is full. Really full.

Hours later, it is still Sunday. I am wiped, through Immigration and customs with my luggage. There is no one waiting.

Figures. Time to rent a car and head north.

Luck is with me, I slap an audio book into the CD player which happens to work and roll around the DC beltway, up 95 and through the McKinley Tunnel. Taking the Edgewood exit, the hotel is right there.

The rest of the crew has checked in, but I am not going to wait up for them – it is really time to sleep.

Kate Wilhelm – Desperate Measures for the flight and one and a half Salmon stripe socks on the plane.


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Catching up

Ravelry – Although I have been a member since June, I have not done a lot there since I returned from China. Last night I managed to upload a few pictures and update a couple of projects. In fact, there were several which I had started and finished prior to listing them in my projects.

Socks for the most part. I certainly mean the Wyvern and Peacock Socks along with the Peapod Baby set. Is anyone else finding it hard to keep up?  Between Flickr, Ravelry, and blogs I am not sure that there is any time for knitting.

And in the morning – I am off to the US, Aberdeen Proving Grounds South (aka the old Edgewood Arsenal) for an exercise. Such fun. I just love long plane flights – not. But I have plenty of sock yarn.

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Is there really a choice?

I am trying to sort out the pluses and minuses of different courses of action.

The kids are better with my going to the UK than they would be with Iraq. I might like the job there better, more challenging, working with military, troops etc. But there is the question of gear. I am getting older and my bones don’t like walking around with that much weight. BattleRattle right now can be up to 30% (minimum) of my body weight. The heat would be nice, but not a helmet all the time.

Knowing my assignment system, the real choice is go to the UK this winter, or get moved to the US this coming summer. UK is closer. I could retire.

[ large mind blank ]

I even have enough time to plan out the economics. Since the rest of the family will be here in Europe for at least three more years, seems kind of silly to get paid half as much to do my current work….


The New Beijing Olympic Stadium

The new Olympic Stadium in Beijing taken in August 07. No, I didn’t use a weird filter or alter the photo, the air is that brown from pollution.


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Well – it is official. The job I am headed to is co-located with the Royal Military College at Sandhurst. Located in Camberley, I will be 50 km outside of London off the M3.

Negotiating on a reporting date, but Mid January 2008 at the latest.

This is really going to make a mess of my planned knitting.

Otherwise, I have finally gotten back to Ravelry since I have not updated my projects since August.

Followed by the matter of the youngest now taking ill.

Enough, wouldn’t you say?


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Should I talk about knitting first? I owe you knitting pictures.

First – The Finished Peapod.



Those are green bunny buttons – and have to be the cutest things I have seen in a while. We dropped it off on Saturday – right between everyone getting sick.

And then there is the progress on the Valley Jacket


Where I am at that lovely tangled yarn state that comes from knitting off of two balls for three parts. With any luck, the yarn will last the last couple of CM and let me do the shoulder bind off. From there it is only the sleeves and I will be done since this is a “finish as you go” project.


Each branch and corps of the US military handles its officers different. Sometimes you get choices about where you are going to be, and sometimes there are few options. My branch wound up with a sudden opening in the UK starting around the first of the year. Obviously my family is not going anywhere, so this would be an adventure on my own to a large extent.

I don’t have to do this. But there are no jobs for me in Germany after 30 June, which means that I would have to get my act together in order to retire and find other work. There are serious economic implications of course with retiring unless I get myself rapidly motivated into job shopping, there would be some significant downtime. I have the possibility of starting consulting or job shopping with the Uni in Heidelberg.

Or I can go back to CENTCOM for another 15+ months – Iraq this time.

Or I can take the job in the UK.

There is good and bad with the situation. The 18 year-old finishes her Abi this spring, so her education is a factor, but it is the follow on that counts. The younger two are simply not movable in school as they are in the 9th and 10th Klasses in the G8 Gymnasium Curriculum. The DH is on the road a lot, in London at least every other month and way too much time in Zurich.

Which really leaves the dog. Since I am coming from the EU – it is a matter of a working microchip, updating immunizations, and getting a titer drawn.

It is a bit to think about. Meanwhile, it is time to start researching University Music Curriculum in the UK for the vocal one.


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Poor Kid

AKA – Murphy’s Law says that once the first thing goes wrong – everything else will just domino into chaos. 

Arriving home, I was surprised to see the 18 year-old still there. Scheduled to leave for Vienna  on a music trip with a class in the morning, our plan had been for her to overnight with a classmate in Stuttgart in order to make a 0615 flight.

Dashing, we were on the way to the train station when she realized she did not have her cell phone. I was going to give her mine, and just tell her to pay cash for the train ride, but then she would not have had enough money along. Turning around, we went home, got her phone and some more cash and then bought her ticket from the Bahn’s vending machine.

Rather than a direct connection, it involved an S-Bahn to Mannheim and a change to an IC. 45 minutes later, I get this upset call – she left her carry-on bag on the S-Bahn. Checking with the Bahn – it had not been turned in and the S-Bahn was at the Karlsruhe Betriebshof. She now is in Stuttgart without a change of clothes.

Her classmate is not the same size, and it turns out her asthma meds were in the case.  I look at packing another bag and sending it down with her sister yet tonight (but the youngest was unable to reach any of her friends so that she would not have a place to stay – and I didn’t want a 14 year old wandering on the trains at 2300).

It is now after 2330 when the bedraggled kid gets back to Heidelberg. I have found her some clothes (she has little that is clean) and an alternate medication. There is a possible train connection that will get her to the airport at 0522. But it turns out that her passport is in Stuttgart and she has missed the window to go and pick it up.

We hang the whole thing and I start to send her to bed. She is still not recovered from her illness this weekend and is now walking into walls with exhaustion.

When I think about it – I should have cancelled her early on (as she still is not feeling well) – or helped her watch the clock so that we had enough time at the train station in the first place.  She is normally my most organized and driven teen, but even planning this trip has been a disaster from the git-go.


On the knitting front – I have less than 2 cm to the shoulders on the Valley Jacket and should take some socks out of hibernation.

Audio Books

Big Trouble – by Dave Berry. A really fun romp complete with teens, Russian mobsters, gun runners, FBI, local cops and airline pilots not old enough to have cleared their acne. Probably no redeeming literary value, but the story does a nice job of using sterotypes and poking fun.


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Is not just a city. It is one of a family of Noroviruses that commonly make their appearance in the winter months. Norwalk and others of its ilk have earned their deservedly bad reputations from institutional and cruise ship outbreaks as well as causing generalized misery to anyone unfortunate to contract them.

I don’t think that I mentioned that our son came home from school on Friday not feeling well and spent a good portion of Friday night up with the usual GI symptons. At age 16, you don’t call on your mom unless you are really feeling badly. He is of the “please let me die in peace” mode of illness. It looked like he had recovered enough by yesterday to take off for a week working at a Biotech firm down at the Bodensee.

Late yesterday, it was the 18 year old that started with the vomiting. Feeling just horrible, she needed love, support and wanted anything to stop her stomach from rebelling. Sick for most of the night, her fever is gone and she is finally on the way to recovery late this afternoon.

My DH got sick last night as well, badly enough that he had to delay his early scheduled departure for London this morning. Flying is not a good idea if you can’t get more than 10 meters from the toilet.

The youngest and I are fine. She informed me that she has been super careful since early this week when it started going around school?

The whole school? Or just the Internat (boarding portion)?

About 20/32 had been ill by the time we left for home on Friday.


Did I mention that my three are on Fall Vacation this week. Great time to be ill, wouldn’t you say. But I am more concerned that the school let this blow through the student body. It can easily be food borne and quite challenging to clear. Add my 16 & 18 year olds to the numbers and that is a fairly high attack rate.

The end result is that I did some telecommuting today, not about to leave sick people home on their own. I can do tea and sympathy, waiting for the disease to run its course.

Otherwise, I have almost 50 cm knit on the Valley Jacket and a couple more boxes in from AudioBookstand sales shelf.


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Middle age vs Middle Ages

It came together today. A confluence of ideas derived from several sources that left me thinking. Perhaps it is normal for this time of life. Anita Diamant, in Pitching my Tent, makes mention of the increasing life span as a major driver for individuals and society requiring a new look at middle age. Leaving aside that fact that she is completely incorrect about the increased life span (detour here, follow along for a bit of science –

Technically, in 1900, the average life span was 47 in the US. However, 50% of deaths occurred in individuals under the age of 15. Infectious diseases took their toll along with accidents. If you survived through your 15th year, your life expectancy was in the 60s. The extra years of life loss were on the front end, not the back. Between ages 15-50 women primarily died of conditions relating to childbirth. Men died of accidents and wars. It explains why you read and here of so many elderly spinsters in those days. Eliminate the risks of childbirth and the chances were excellent you would survive well into your 70s, 80s, 90s. Today’s medical science and preventive medicine have eliminated almost all deaths from childhood diseases, most from infectious disease, and drastically reduced the risks associated with childbearing. This leaves us free now to die from chronic disease, cancers that increase with age and cardio-vascular disease resulting from our “improved” life style. )

requiring a new look at being in those middle years that is different if poverty is not at the door.

Sometime between 40 & 60, most of us asses our lives: what we have accomplished and what we had set out to do in our early twenties with idealism leading our hearts and stars in our eyes. There are those who have done something that it widely known or well recognized. We all have met one or more: the person who seems to have done something important or accomplished everything.

Or you can be like Joe – the main character in Margaret Truman’s Murder at the Washington Post – and be facing retirement wondering what you have accomplished. Trying to decide if that is enough. And you can make stupid choices, good choices, or extremely bad and damaging choices.

But most of us just have lived our lives doing the best we could on a day to day basis. Face it, there are not all that many Nobel Laureates around. Nor Deans of Universities or CEOs of Fortune 500 firms.

Perhaps we have the luxury now of making choices, changing careers, learning new things. Certainly we need to keep our minds active, trying new things and getting out of old ruts.

What has come to me over the last year is a willingness to look ahead. I am not the only one who is facing transitions (never mind the teens still in the house). I will have a life after I leave the military. Perhaps it is time to gather together some courage and figure out what I want to do next. Certainly I have enough wool and fiber to keep me busy for a few years. Balancing that with my tendency to like to start things but getting bored once it is underway and routine, something tells me I need to look for something that will be a challenge and not the same every day.

But I will need to take a leap.


who will get back to her regularly scheduled fiber programming as soon as she charges the battery in the camera. I found homes for only two of the lonely fiber batches. Perhaps I should put it all on one page, then send an email to Chris to get it a home?

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From the time I had the means, my door was open. To feed the stranger, to house others, to share what I had. I don’t think that I ever consciously thought about it, it was just the way things were. What you did to give back to others, to take care.

This weeks Parsha (Torah portion) is Vayerah. It starts with Abraham’s hospitality to the stranger. Even in personal pain and recovery, doing for others came first. A basic tenant of Judaism that I view as sometimes being lost. I am not sure when I connected what I assumed was normal behavior with this particular passage. And in finding it, I feel like I have justification for what I already was doing. Perhaps being better able to marshal arguements when explaining why “of course this is what you do.”

Last night at our monthly potluck, we talked about hospitality in conjunction with this section and how the principle is/is not applied today.

It certainly is a nicer thought than dealing with becoming a pillar of salt. Glauber’s salts I can do – they are useful for some kinds of dying. Epson salts for soaking people. But a pillar because you looked back?

I think it all connects with the differences in how men and women look at the world. I will admit it might just be my generation. Men seem to go forward, on to new challenges, new battles. Things are over, done, forgotten. Women, well, we look back. And we say good bye.

Audio Book,

Murder at the Washington Times by Margaret Truman.

Except for the ending (which could have been wrapped up better) this was a nice murder mystery with interesting characters. The reader was excellent.

Good distraction from teenagers in the car needing things.


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Don’t bother with the cake.

This is a rant, please feel free to skip it.

A while back, over a year ago I think, Harlequin started a new line of books called NeXt. It was supposed to be more like relationship novels and less like romance. I am a sucker, I will try and read almost any kind of fiction.

What is really was – taken all together – was a collection of books that should have been subtitled “Competent Women need not apply.” Instead of being about “what comes next (no fancy strange lettering needed), story after story unfolded about women who just did not have their acts together; who bad things happened to while they blundered around; and let us not forget all those who whined while putting more effort into their girlfriends than their families.

I had to stop for a moment and really examine why I reacted so negatively. I came up with several of my own conclusions. I decided that I really believe that some fiction should emulate life. And life, as I know it, is filled with hard working, courageous women who have made various choices in their lives. And they deal with the consequences. They don’t cry when life does not emulate soap operas or romance novels and wring their hands while waiting for someone else to solve their problems. They work, take care of their children, do their best with their households. They might have spent time being a full time parent, but when war made them a widow, they stayed alive for their children even if it meant taking a job and child care for babies. Today is not the 1960s where there were few choices for women who were on their own with children, whether from divorce or loss of a partner.

And here was a whole series that really featured woman after incompetent woman (with or without girlfriends) a la the 1960s. The occasional exception did apply, but really. I gave up after the first few months. Even horrid anticipation can’t keep you going to see if this next book (ouch) is worse than the previous.

It seems like other readers might have felt the same way as four books a month has dwindled to two.

Why am I bringing all of this up?

Jeanne Ray wrote a fun, lovely little book called Romeo and Julie or was it Julie and Romeo? In any case it chronicled the story of two rival families in the florist business with the two protagonists finally getting together in late middle age. When another book of hers called Eat Cake showed up on AudioBookstand’s sale shelf, I bought it. Books go to the sale shelf under two circumstances; they age, or they don’t sell.

I was expecting ….. actually, I am not sure what I was expecting. But it wasn’t a story told from the main characters empty headed point of view while she stood around wringing her hands. At seven hours on CD, that is an awful lot of whining and navel gazing – if you can stand to listen to someone natter for paragraphs about whether or not it is ok to put limits on her 16 year-old daughter (little stuff like setting the table).

Certainly, I was not expecting a novel about a woman who spent more time being unhappy and panicked than looking for solutions. And one so worried about offending everyone else that she needed a sweatshirt labeled “doormat.”

There is no question that life can kick us in the death. Bad things happen to wonderful people. I guess that success in the face of adversity doesn’t meet the current criteria in American fiction for challenging relationships between the characters much less growth of the protagonist by the end of the book. Perhaps the author uses the beliefs and attitudes of the 60s just because she was a parent then?

The book is not all bad. It is also warm and fluffy with the good people having things work out in the end. But with all the bad that happens, I never get the feeling the main character is grounded in reality. Perhaps it is that “click your heels three times” that brings around two aged and battling parents, and a spoiled teen ager. The husband’s unemployment is never resolved.


Not all doors are fancy, some your just pass through on your way upstairs to work.



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Growing cold, getting old

Growing up in Minnesota, you would think I would be more than used to cold weather. Even in October when fronst ws literally on the pumpkins, it was a place of stoic people and acceptance of nature.

Lake Wobegon may be fictitious, but the people and the attitude they portray are more than real.


That was just the way things were. Your personal ethnic background didn’t matter. The basic attitude and ability to deal with the cold cut across all line.

For sure.

I am not a teen any longer and I get cold. I have no joy in finding frost inside my windows and ice on my nose in the morning. I no longer care to compete in the “layers to bed” sweepstakes.

The allegedly warm water I I can hear trickling in the register seems effective for only one-two hands wide of a five foot white iron beast that is just fixed there, refusing to cooperate.

Key? Bleed the thing in case I should be so lucky that the issue is only air bubbles?

Right. And I am the one with bloody hands since whoever cranked the valves last year certainly was not interested in allowing leaks.

We shall not talk of menopause either, nor the cold that seems to have settled int my bones leaving me feeling comfortable only in sand ovens of the desert.

It is time to put another layer on the bed, wrap my hands in knitting wool and listed to an audio book, pretending that 4°C is just what I want for weather.


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As you probably guessed from the short posts for the last several days, neither knitting or spinning have really been on my mind.

Reading still – going through a couple of paperbacks a day (or a library book).

But I am contemplating hauling out the loom. Not that I need another project underway. There are only three WIPs that really count – the second “Peacock Sock,” my Kauni cardigan which still needs the second sleeve and facings, and the Gallery Jacket which is now four fingers above the armhole split – all the way across.

Now – that means that I really don’t need to think about starting something new. Even tho I have yarn dyed for a couple of afghans from three years ago. Or a number of cones of this lovely blue that came in a while ago.

What started all of these thoughts? A nice, useful size catalog from Webs that arrived in  today’s mail.  There is no lack of wools, and some decent cottons for weaving. But I haven’t played with Tencil or Bamboo on the loom. Those are new fibers since I last threw a warp on the small beast.

Of course, I also received a lovely box of sales audio books in the mail today. Enough to last me a longish time. The post library loves the CDs and the MP3s, but they are no longer taking donations of anything on cassette.



Posted in Books & Tapes, Uncategorized, Weaving | 1 Comment

at all happening

Even if you leave home early, arriving at work when there is only a rumor of sunlight above the horizon, a farewell luncheon in the middle of the day sort of tears a hole in the schedule.


In case you can’t read the sign – it reads either Alte Feuerwache or De Nico’s (depending). I am not sure of the significance of the naked young man with the frog that stands just on the other side of the front entrance, but he is kind of cute (and the restaurant is Italian without frogs on the menu.)


One of our great SGTs is leaving in a week for Walter Reed.


Catching a picture that doesn’t have name tags is a real challenge. She has a great sense of humor and will be sorely missed in the lab.

Me? This proves that I actually come out of my lair on special occasions. Because the SGM really wanted to try my camera, I turned him lose for a while. The unfortunate result is that I actually was captured in pixels.


Books and Audio Books

Blood Orchid – Stuart Woods – has finished on the CD player and The Big Four by Agatha Christie has now replaced it in the car.

In print – I read Killer Weekend – the new Ridley Pearson thriller from the library. Plus Three is a Crowd by D B Borton. While I can’t say that I really appreciated Cat Caliban as a sleuth, this book was obviously well researched with the plot relating to the past anti-Viet Nam war era being all too real to someone who lived through it.


(and no, no knitting today either)

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could possibly be as uninteresting as the first day back at work after a week on the road. Or almost a week if you want to be completely accurate.

Thrilling adventures with overflowing email boxes resulting in messages bouncing, a staff meeting that turned into total insanity (just move 1300 to 1100 and turn the head of admin services lose to explain why nothing in one of his sections after another has done anything promised), and a golden retriever who howls at being left alone in my office for the duration of said meeting.

How do I know about the unhappy pup? I am leaving out completely the staff member who rang me on my Handi partway through the meeting. Pulling it out of my pocket, I pressed what I thought was the off button. Issuing immediately from the phone speaker is the whining and barking of the lonely dog. Saving myself from dying of complete embarrassment only by finding the off switch, the rest of the crew found the whole thing pretty funny.

By the time the end of the day had come and the two of us had navigated the construction zones and arrived back home in Heidelberg it was too late to do anything useful other than read and crash.

May I recommend Many Bloody Returns edited by Charlaine Harris and Toni Kelner?



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Well heeled yarn?

As you might know, I have knit a lot of pairs of socks this year. I am choosing now to focus on some other projects, so that my sock output has dropped off remarkably. Experimenting with both yarn and patterns, I had been branching out from some of the traditional sock yarns into Indie dyers of 100% merino, merino/tencil, merino/bamboo and other fiber combinations.

Looking back at the socks I knit 12 years ago, the ones from cheap yarns did not survive without pilling. Many of them were for my children. They have been outgrown, worn through, and singles lost along the way. My socks are a different story. I take care of them, washing on wool cycle and hanging to dry. So that it should not be surprising that I have pairs that are 12 years old, worn regularly and in fairly good shape.

The socks that have developed problems feel into two categories – they are either heavier weight or not knit out of sock yarn. With the exception of a pair knit out of some lovely handspun I received from Ruth, the survivors are all knit of sock yarn. Not 100% merino, but sock yarn with nylon or similar fiber added (up to 25%).

I think this is important. If I am going to spend hours on a sock, I want it to last more than a couple of wearings. Especially if they will be gifts for someone else.

Let me show you what I mean – looking at the heels


Now look a little closer –


The black and white are out of Schöllinger yarn, knit sometime prior to 1998. They are probably over 10 years old. I wear them regularly and they have been through the wash dozens of times. The blue and pink are a pair of boot socks, knit with doubled sock yarn. They date from 1996. The heels are starting to wear. The red/black pair I knit this summer. They have been through the wash at least five times and show no signs of distress.

compare that to this


looks fine – the soles? But looking at the heels –


this is one wearing. Just one time being worn and through the wash. The cables are pilling and losing their appearance.

Now, you might want to state that it is always what happens when you do details on heels, then stick your foot in sandals. I would like to say that this is the only pair acting this way, but the same thing is happening with other socks that are 100% merino. This is lovely yarn, the colorways are wonderful and the service from the people is fantastic.

It is not happening with some of the less expensive yarns, from those Indie dyers who are using a regular “sock yarn” as their base. And it is not a problem with any of the standard German commercial sock yarns. I don’t walk around in my stocking feet, but do wear socks with sandals unless there is snow on the ground or puddles to deep to avoid.

I want my socks to last.

As I sorted through the stash purchased this last year, I think I am going to change my knitting priorities for now. Sock yarns first, high twist merino to follow leaving some of the more beautiful yarns to lay fallow in the basket for a while.


Progress on the Valley Jacket.

Just past the armhole split – I now have two balls going; one for the back and one for the two fronts. Stopping every few rows to untangle (it is a mess when you are knitting from the inside and outside of a ball at the same time), I am trying to make sure that all three pieces are the same length. This part seems to be going a lot slower.

Maybe I just will go and read a few more books.


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