I think I mentioned something in the last few posts about a trip to Pittsburgh. I tried to make those applique Ts, and take some cool photos. I also, of course, packed some knitting.
(Did I mention I've become totally obsessed with the Retro Camera app on my phone?)
I have no idea what is taking me so long with these socks. The pattern is probably the simplest Cookie A I have ever made- Boysenberry YO from the April 2011 sock club shipment. It's a 4 row repeat, where 3 of the rows are the same... And yet, here I am, about 3 weeks later, not done! Well, ONE sock is done.
The other is just past the heel turn and gusset. I need a long meeting, or something, where I can just plow through- that's how I finished the first one.
Meanwhile, this yarn is loads of fun- it's the shiny new, not yet available Solemate by Lorna's Laces. The color is stunning, and it's knitting up well. The drape is more like a cotton than I expected, but with more forgiveness... If I could just get around to finishing the 2nd sock, I could wear them and test out the temperature regulation claims.
And I really need to get my butt in gear to finish, because look what arrived in today's mail:
The June Cookie A shipment! Patterns due to be emailed out on the 8th...can't wait to see what's up next! I've never tried this particluar yarn before, but even still in skein form it feels like it will have a wonderful drape. Yum.
By day 5 of the trip, we had already done many many museums and caught up with friends and family... So now it was time for the shawl, and the kids, to have a full-on tourist experience. What better way to become a totally shameless tourist that to take a Duck Tour? We climbed aboard the Lame Duck and saw the sights from both land and sea...
The Duck Tours "launch" from Union Station, an amazing structure well worth a visit. Annie was thrilled to find a Little Miss Matched store- an entire store!- and the rest of us had fun admiring the architecture and the statues with the incredibly strategic shields...
After some drama with the only bad cabbie we encountered the entire trip, we headed to the National Gallery of Art. The West side is more traditional art while the East is devoted to Modern. I adore the East. I spent so much happy time there during high school. Being there with the kids was wonderful- and I am quite happy that now as an adult I can actually appreciate Rothko- something I had a lot of trouble with back in the day. I could happily have spent another day or two just in here, but everyone else was not quite as thrilled as me...
We took a wonderful trip to the Canadian Embassy, which I guess means we were in Canada for a few minutes, to check out an exhibit in their gallery. Then we headed out to total indulgence- dinner at Legal Seafood. REAL fried clams- bellies and all- made Rich and I super happy. Henry didn't enjoy dinner so very much, as he bit an oyster cracker and turned a mildly loose tooth into a gushing fount of blood. Lucky other diners who got to experience that with us- not. After dinner we made not one but 2 stops for dessert: a pilgrimage to Dunkin Donuts... followed by another cupcakery. This time, the Red Velvet Cupcakery. And should you go to DC, you NEED to go there. I had the best cupcake of my life to date- and so did my mom! Only one day left now, so we had to make it count... First, we went to the National Building Museum to catch their amazing Lego Architecture exhibit, and play with legos for an hour.
We all trekked over to the Old Post Office Pavillion for lunch and catch-up, and the Liz and the boys had to head home :-( But, we all went up the Clock Tower, which has one of the best views in DC, and is totally free, and usually doesn't have much of a wait, making it a wonderful alternative to the Washington Monument.
After lunch came Monument Marathon... We took a cab to Lincoln and worked backward. I challenge anyone who has ever stood at Lincoln's feet not to be inspired and awed. (Another DC must see was the Lincoln exhibit at the NMAH- I came away from that truly blown away.)
Then we went through the rest: checked out the Reflecting Pool (super happy we beat Mr Beck and his minions), the Korean War Memorial, not Vietnam (such an intense experience I thought would be better for the kids when they were older...), and on to WWII. That one is also new since I moved, and I was so impressed. The space is designed in such a way that you can't help but reflect and consider that multi-national epic event. I found myself thinking about my grandfather, and all my older relatives, who served. And missing them, and wishing more of them had lived to see it.
On past the Washington Monument, and back to the kids' favorite: the Natural History Museum. Granny (my mom) found a bench and collapsed while the kids dragged Rich and I to every exhibit they missed on the 1st stop earlier in the week. That took the last few hours of our stamina, and we trekked out to Clyde's for a delicious dinner served by the most amazing waiter, ever, and also maybe a few drinks for me. Not a bad way to end a vacation!
The next morning... home. We'll definitely be back- we need to say that family more! And by the last day, something odd had happened to me. I actually missed DC! I don't have any desire to move back, not even a little bit, well okay, maybe a teeny tiny bit, but I would like to get back there more...
Recently, I finished knitting my first ever lace shawl (rav link), with the blocking expertise of Cathi Pink. Because I am angling for massive knitting geek status, and because the shawl was done mere hours before we left on a vacation to Washington, DC, I decided that the shawl should get its photo taken everywhere we went. While I didn't quite achieve that goal, this very photo heavy post will show you what a great time the shawl, and our entire family, had!
The next morning, the shawl went to the new (since I moved away, anyway) National Air and Space Museum Udvar-Hazy Center, and saw a REAL space shuttle!
Then we headed downtown, where we checked out more museums, and went to our favorite restaraunt in the ENTIRE world. We were so busy eating that we did not take the shawl's photo...but we did remember to snap a pic on the Circulator.
Then it went next door to the National Museum of the American Indian- my first visit if you can believe it! (Again, it opened AFTER I moved away...) I don't know how the shawl felt, but I was in awe of this place. It's designed stunningly, installed beautifully, and has an amazing cafe.
We all spent the next day at the National Zoo, but it was a billiony-million degrees out with 900% humidity, and I didn't even take the shawl out of my bag... I did get a photo of some giant tortoises having, um, relations, but I'll spare you that.
After we recovered, the next day was Sam's Family day. We started by visiting with my 3 great aunts- the first time they met Henry! Then it was off to see the rest of the family. But first, we stopped for yarn (twice!) and cupcakes! The first yarn destination was Fibre Space- and oh, was it yummy!
Then it visited Knit Happens, owned by a friend of that amazing Cathi Pink! Sadly, they were in the midst of a going out of business sale. Wish we could have seen them in their glory... Holly at Knit Happens helped us choose which of the seemingly dozens of local cupcakeries to try out. We went with Lavender Moon Cupcakery, whose name and decor both won me over. Next, we headed to my Aunt Millie's for what we learned is known as Whacky Wednesday. Aunt Millie (my great aunt) hosts her 2 grandaughters and their assorted 4 kids under the age of 5, along with other assorted relatives! We got to see so much of our family, to watch the kiddos bond, and really connect with a cousin-in-law for the first time, and to have the bittersweet experience of having each and every one of my family individually comment on home much Henry reminded them of my Dad. We were helped past that by the aforementioned cupcakes. Seeing them has really made me miss them all so much more. I don't want to live in DC, not at all, nor in VA, but, I wish my family weren't all so damn far away.
On that note-- the last 2 days of the trip, coming soon!
(Title shamelessly borrowed from Jon Stewart and The Daily Show.)
How tiring the trip to DC for Inauguration Day was can be seen in how long it's taken me to get around to blogging about it.
But what can't be seen from my week's delay was how incredibly amazing it was. How often in life does something live up to expectations? This did. Before we left I was worried about how Annie would handle the trip. I was worried about how we would manage the logistics. I was worried about making it through the crowds. And I was really worried about someone in that crowd stepping on my toe. And guess what? All my worries were for naught! Everything went amazingly well, and my toe didn't even get stepped on, and we shared an amazing moment in history with 1.8 million of our new best friends.
I know I am not a blogger who can do this trip justice, so I'm going to give you the uber brief synopsis.
Sunday 1/18: we left at the crack of dawn- before it, in fact. Lesson learned: do not connect in Phoenix Skyport if you have to change airlines as this means a) a shuttle bus to change terminals and b) clearing security a second time. We made it to DC with no other issues. Here we had the only letdown of our trip: we arrived far too late in the day to make it to the We Are One concert. And we heard, from my cousin who was there, that the concert was as fabulous as the Inauguration itself. Ah, well. We made it to my Great Aunt Millie's house, and were greeted by a dinner of my favorite childhood food: halupki (stuffed cabbages).
Monday 1/19: Aunt Millie's granddaughters (my younger cousins) and their kids joined us for breakfast at her place. It was crazy with 3 kids under 3, but wonderful as I had not met any of the little ones in person yet.
This was the first time Annie has been old enough to remember meeting everyone.
After family reunion #1, Annie and I hopped the Metro downtown. Annie's phenomenal Metro luck started with new friend #1: photographer Tim Shaffer, who works for Reuters showed her his press pass and told her all about parties and events he was photographing.
Downtown, we rode the carousel and explored the National Mall. My cousin Emily and her dad Jim joined us for DC fun and family reunion #2 (Em now lives in Philly and Jim in Pittsburgh. Emily grew up in Alexandria, and I went to high school in McLean, so we know our way around.) It was so much fun to show everything to Annie.
She got to see the Capital, Washington Monument, White House, National Christmas Tree, Old Post Office Building, the Smithsonian Natural History Museum, Soledad O'Brien live and in person, MSNBC's booth, George Washington himself, and 10,000 port-a-potties. Most exciting of all was just to see DC so full of energy and excitement, so full of people there to celebrate a new moment in history, and also, to cash in on it by selling every Obama item you could imagine (and some I hope you couldn't!)
The people were amazing. So many people, so happy, so friendly, so kind. People were from EVERYWHERE. We met folks from all over the country. We talked to everyone- it is much easier to do this when you have an adorable 7 year old who is doing a paper for school. Annie's amazing Metro luck continued when she met a congresswoman's press secretary from Florida who let her check out an official inauguration ticket and program. A few minutes later, Annie also met our new friend Elaine, who works in film in LA.
Then back to suburban VA, where we spent the night at the home of my folks' best friends, Ed and Cathy. We went with them and their son Scott and daughter-in-law Anne to Panera, and had simply a blast. New friends are just the most wonderful souvenir from any trip, and Anne is no exception!
Tuesday 1/20: the day started at 4:30 am, when we got up! Yikes! Our hosts Ed and Cathy got up with us, made us scrambled eggs and english muffins and tea, and drove us to the Metro. Truly, the best hosts EVER. Annie and I wore our matching Obama tees, and our brand new Obama hats. Then, we bundled Annie into her snow pants and many many many layers, and bravely headed out. Getting downtown was way easier than we feared- the train was not packed, we did not have a wait, and we easily walked from Metro to the Mall. We got ourselves a great place by a jumbotron on the Mall, right in front of the Natural History Museum.
Then, we waited for several (cold) hours.
In a crowd that happy, and it was that happy, you tend to make friends with your neighbors. This crowd was no exception. The folks next to us were wonderful! They shared handwarmers with Annie. They had a camp stool, and let her stand on it- saving my back untold agony. They chatted with her and generally were simply wonderful. And, we found out, one of our new friends, Tina Gloss, is an actress from LA who was on one of Rich and my favorite TV shows ever! Wow...
The experience was electric- to be with that many people all wanting the same thing... It was the acceptance speech at Mile High times 20 and then some. There was one very interesting difference, however. At Mile High, the crowd was euphoric and hopeful. In DC, we were euphoric and hopeful, but also, more subdued and serious. After all, the America Obama has inherited has changed an awful lot since last August. The work ahead is going to be much harder and more challenging now. It's time for everyone to buckle down and do what it takes to get our country back on track. Me, I'm putting affordable and accessible health care for all at the top of my list. (Got that, Santa? You've got 11 months...)
After the speech, the wonderful speech, Annie and I fought through the crowd and hit the Natural History Museum again. The Smithsonians did an amazing job of handling the crowds (fabulous clean bathrooms) and they even let tired folks sleep in their halls. Now, there is something I've never seen before in DC!
After checking out the Hall of Mammals, we tried to get out of DC before the parade crowds were also getting on Metro. This was the only bad part of the trip- getting to an open Metro station and then safely getting into one... The crowd was so bad, and pushy, that I had to enlist a soldier's help in making certain Annie did not get pulled away from me. She didn't, and once we were in Metro, it was an easy ride back to the Vienna station- we even had seats the whole way!
Our Inaugural Day ended at McDonald's- a reward for a very tired and very tough 7 year old! We were able to view the parade on the scratchy TV bolted to their wall... While we had planned to return to
Aunt Millie's that night, we were far too tired to safely make the drive. So, one more night with Ed and Cathy :-)
Weds 1/21: We had breakfast with Ed and Cathy and headed back to Aunt Millie's. Then- a big treat! Ellen came all the way from New Jersey to visit with us for the day!
And then, thanks to a heads up from Amy at the Calico Cat, we went to the Obama quilt exhibit at the Historical Society of Washington DC. It was fabulous, but no photos allowed of the quilts... Annie's patience for grown up stuff was all done by this point, so we walked to Chinatown, looked into one more museum, stopped to check out a new arrival,
and hit Starb*cks for a pick-me-up. Then, back to Aunt Millie's- but we forgot all about rush hour- and had lots of bonding and chatting time in the car... Aunt Millie stuffed us full of 3 kinds of dinner, and Ellen headed back to Newark. We were so sad to see her go- now I miss her more. Ellen, come back!
Thurs 1/22: before flying home, we took a trip with Aunt Millie to visit 3 more Great Aunts- Barbara, Pearl and Rosalie. (My grandma was one of 13 kids...7 still living.) Family Reunion #3- 3 in 5 days! I think we did pretty well. We visited with the Aunties and then returned Millie to her home. We said our goodbyes, and then Annie and I had a lunch date with our next-door-no-more neighbors who moved to VA just a few weeks ago. So good to see them, but now, we miss them even more- a theme is appearing here, huh?
And then home. We flew home through Charlotte this time, and no major issues. Rich and Henry picked us up at the airport at 10:30pm, and we went home and collapsed into our own beds.
I have no idea how to talk about this trip. It was amazing. It was totally worth it. Hopefully, we were there at the moment when America got back on track. Hopefully, Annie will remember this for life and grow up to be an engaged citizen participant in her government. And hopefully, the next historic inauguration will be of our first female president!
We're back! (Okay, we've been back for just over a week but I got a little bit distracted by that whole President Elect Obama thing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)
And we had a simply wonderful time... We got to meet a friend in person for the first time.
Debi shared her favorite parade viewing spot with us, and it was awesome. Thanks again, Debi!
We also got some of our best friends ever to join us at The Disneyland Hotel for dinner and fireworks viewing from our balcony.
Can you tell how much the kids love Chris and Elise? We do too- and we miss you guys!
And we spent a fabulous day with our friends Wendy, Charlie and Molly (and baby-to-be).
We ran ourselves ragged doing everything that we love. The kids met their idols.
We had so much fun at the Haunted Mansion all done up for Halloween.
We even went to Mickey's Trick or Treat Party at Disney's California Adventure!
Truly, we had an awesome time. I could go on and on, but I won't cause I'm betting it would be dull to anyone but me. My favorite photos can be found here, and if you're really masochistic, all 4.5 days worth are here...
We packed so much Disney and friend fun into 4.5 days that I didn't really work on either pair of socks that I took with me. I worked on my Pomatomus on the plane on the way up, and my new Jaywalkers on the way back... I only have a photo of the latter.
That sock is done now and I'm on the heel of #2. I also managed to finish my Dick and Jane baby quilt, just in time to include in the baby-shower-in-a-box for my cousin in CA.
I was worried I might be sad when we got back. I hate after-vacation and not having anything to look forward to. I also hate snow. But Denver is on track to have the latest first snowfall in many many years (hooray for me!) And my folks will be here in 2 weeks, driving our new minivan from Savannah to here (a long story, but we got an amazing deal from a neighbor and friend of theirs who owns a Toyota delaership in GA...) So we have the new car to look forward to. And another vacation, even though I swore I was staying home for ages, for both sanity and bank account reasons. However, I was SO fired up on November 4th that I made the rash decision to head to DC for inauguration!! I'm taking Annie with me- she's missing a week of school, but how often do you get to see history in person?! We have family to stay with in the area, and so all we had to do was get the plane tickets and rent a car- done and done! Now, there's something to look forward to! I have emailed my congressman and senators in the hopes of getting tix for bleacher seats, but I assume I will be lining the parade route with millions of others. The best part? A friend from here is also going, and so is some of my family from PA. And maybe a blog pal, too! This will be the best party of the century!
But first, surviving the holidays! Time to stop knitting socks for me and start my many holiday gifts, yikes! I'll leave you with some fireworks...
I have just survived the longest 48 hours of my life. Well, we were in Cali for 48 hours, but when you add travel time, more like 60 or so hours. And by the time you get done reading this marathon post, you may feel like you survived those 60 hours with me!
Friday we left our house at 8 AM, Chuppah carefully packed in Princess Girl's carry-on. (Her roller suitcase is the biggest we have that can be a carry-on.) We flew to Oakland with no major issues. I didn't even have to pop a pill to make it through the flight- major victory! After a shuttle, a ride on BART, and a cab, we arrived at our stunning hotel. Oh my goodness. The hotel we had booked in, right down the street from the wedding itself, was undergoing renovation issues- including power and heat outages! So we were booked into The Claremont Resort and Spa instead. Yum. I could get used to this life. It was slightly further from the actual wedding, but well worth it. Our schedule was beyond jam packed, but I managed to squeeze in a Lavender Pedicure anyway. At 8am. The only time all weekend I had an hour to spare.
But back to the weekend. Friday, we arrived. Met up with my folks at the fancy-schmancy hotel. Checked in, had a late lunch- looking out across the Bay with a perfect view of the Golden Gate Bridge. Friday evening it was time for the rehearsal, followed by the rehearsal dinner. That's where the "longest 48 hours of my life" bit starts. The rehearsal was fine. A little chaotic, but fine. We all headed off to the rehearsal dinner at the Sequoia Lodge- did I mention the bride and groom are avid outdoors folks? SO not me. But the location was just right for them. Sadly, it was a little off the beaten path, and apparently not on most GPS systems. The dinner started at 6:30, but the father of the groom got so lost, it was 8:30 before any of the toasting, etc could start. Meanwhile, Train Boy is trying to go to sleep on the floor, and my mom, who is back on East Coast time still, is falling apart.
This was my big moment- the grand Chuppah unveiling. Many of you asked before how the bride could plan to hang it on a wall if I was keeping it a secret. The bride, my cousin, had asked me to make a Chuppah for her big day. She gave me free reign over it, and the squares-made-by-friends-and-family was a total secret. And we managed to keep that part a secret until the grand unveil! It was awesome.
I had to get up and give a little speech at the microphone- not my strong point and I probably talked too fast. The Chuppah holders pictured here are The Hubby and my dad. And that's me, looking not so hot, but hey, it was a reallly long day. The bride and groom got a little teary eyed.
Then there were speeches and slideshows and toasts, including the one that made everyone cry- digital video of my 92 year old grandma, who isn't well enough to travel, sending a fabulous toast to the couple. As soon as it was polite, we bolted to get the kids to bed. I was told that after we left, the Chuppah was hung up and everyone was admiring it, telling the stories of their squares, etc. Nifty!
The next morning I squeezed in my 8am pedicure, and then, in a fabulous treat, we entertained some guests at our hotel. Many years ago, before Train Boy was born, we had some friends in CO named Angela and Tony. They had a great daughter, Chloe, one year younger than PG. There were transplants from Berkeley, and as it turned out, Berkeley is their home. They moved back when TB was 7 days old (but not before she took these amazing photos for us)- and we hadn't seen them in person since. But we managed to have breakfast together on Saturday! And it was great. Esp as we managed to NOT destroy Angela's 2 day old camera. But we came close. (Cathi, I delivered your hug and greetings...)
We then took the kids to Chinatown for lunch and exploring- PG has recently studied Asia in first grade, and TB is learning about Chinese New Year in preschool. We stumbled upon a street festival and saw Lion acrobats and Dragon dancers. Then we had delicious Dim Sum, a first for half the group (not me.) And we bought lots of silly souvenirs to share with both schools. We raced back to our hotel to catch a nap. It didn't happen, and TB was a total wreck when it came time for the wedding. He abdicated his role as Flower Child. But he behaved during the ceremony, so, all well in the end. PG was a gorgeous Flower Child. And- this was the big moment for The Chuppah. I took a slew of photos for y'all.
Here's the Chuppah being brought down the aisle by the Chuppah Holders:
Here it is waiting for the bride and groom:
And here it is sheltering the happy couple:
I don't know if you can really tell from these, but I got the color 100% right. The quilt looked like it was made for the room, and of course, it was- but it felt great to get it so spot on! The size was great, the ties worked and the thing didn't fly off the poles and land on the bride. All was well! PHEW.
The wedding was wonderful. Truly wonderful. Everyone was joyous. The food was fantastic. The live music, provided by my amazing aunt and uncle- rocked. The speeches were great. The dancing was a blast. The drinks were strong. Ask me how I know... PG bonded with a not-exactly-cousin she's never met before. And chased many men around the room. We are in so much trouble someday. TB danced up a storm, and got to try on the groundhog costume. What, you've never been to a wedding with a man in a groundhog costume?
We stumbled back to our hotel after the cake- Ben and Jerry's ice cream cake. YUM. Everyone collapsed. Until 2:45 am, when the hotel had a very loud, very annoying fire alarm. Ugh. By Sunday morning, we all felt like death. Which I'm sure had nothing to do with those drinks. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.
Sunday morning had a brunch, back at the wedding site. The Chuppah was again hung up for viewing.
And the father of the bride took my photo with it. So, you can all see me, after 2 days with no sleep and crazy humidity hair.
Not to toot my own horn, but I got a lot of great compliments this weekend. It made all the stress about getting it done on time worthwhile. And I kept telling folks that I was just the assembly-person of this project- the squares were made by 36 other folks, Well, more- many squares represented a whole family unit...
The it was back to the airport to race home. Again, I made it with no pill. The landing was a little icky, but it was totally made-up-for when, as we were exiting the plane, the pilots came out, saw my cute kids, and let them go sit in the cockpit and pretend to fly the plane! The pilot even told me to get out my camera and go take photos- I wasn't going to ask as it seemed like such a treat already! Total highlight of the trip for TB.
All in all, a wonderful weekend. Even if it will take me 6 months to catch up on sleep. I ditched work today. I am doing some from home- love that I can dial in- and I am also just crashing. The kids slept 3 hours later than normal. They're ditching school. We're all going to rest, and face the real world tomorrow.
Plus, I have 400+ photos from this weekend to go through. If you think this post is photo heavy, just imagine how much worse it COULD be...