Jun 29, 2009

A Day in June

I love yarn shopping weekends! This past weekend, my friend Aubrey drove down from her new home in New Hampshire, and we went to my favourite type of Mom and Pop, the locally owned yarn store. Aubrey actually grew up in the area, so was able to navigate around and come up with suggestions for where we should shop and eat.

We started the day having Thai for lunch at the Siam Square in Northampton. Then we headed off to Webs. Aubrey told me that it was bigger than it looks from the outside, but I had no idea to what extent she meant! The main floor was huge, and had all types of yarn. I was a little overwhelmed, but nothing compared to how in awe I was of the adjoining yarn warehouse, housing all the sale items. It took us about 30 minutes, maybe more, of wandering up and down the warehouse aisles to decide what we wanted.

I finally settled on some undyed Happy Feet sock yarn (guess who found her acid-dying materials!), some worsted weight Araucania and, being inspired by the stole Aubrey wore to my wedding, some Misti Alpaca lace weight yarn. I also picked some Noro Silk Garden sock yarn. I know this is a climbdown on my Noro Sucks position, but I have never used any of their silk-containing products. I also loved the colourway, so decided to keep an open mind.

After Webs, and a quick caffeination pit-stop, we headed back to Northampton. We dropped into Nothampton Wools and Northampton Wools Too. We were a little yarned out at that point, and I wasn't looking for anything in particular, with the exception of perhaps some confettied cotton yarn which I have been in love with ever since I saw how Jessica's dress turned out. They didn't have any so we headed out, after browsing around for a while. On the way out we passed some sale bins on the outside steps, only to spot exactly what I was looking for!!!

We got some ice-cream from Herrell's, where I discovered No-Moo Ice Cream to fit in with my new faux vegan (or "Faux-gan", if you will) lifestyle. After that, we headed to my place where I started a Baby Surprise Jacket with my Pom-Pom yarn, which I am pretty close to finishing now.

Awesome day!

Jun 13, 2009

Collins Go Caribbean

I'm going to be a little out of order here. I got married to my wonderful husband on June 6th and just got back from our honeymoon. The post about the wedding's going to be on hiatus until I get pictures from the photographer, so we'll skip ahead to the fun part.

We flew out of Boston on June 8th and we greeted by our lovely landlady for the week, Mary. She was so helpful and inviting all week that I felt quite guilty for being so strongly reminded of Mrs. Castevet! She gave us a tour of the town, took us grocery shopping and got us home in time to finish the day with a mojito at Morgan's Mango and a stroll around the downtown area.

The next day we picked up some snorkel equipment and take a dip in Frank bay, the beach mere yards from our place. Unfortunately, we didn't get a prescription mask for Nick, so he was unable to see anything, which I would imagine is quite daunting. I saw a lot of neat fish and underwater landscapes but we won't have the underwater camera pictures developed for a while.

We also walked the Lind Trail to Honeymoon Bay, which is a beautiful beach. The trail was also fun and very easy. We finished up with drinks at I-Scream, which I contend makes the best Mango Daiquiri's on the Island!

This is Frank bay. This picture also showcases my new obsession. I was so chuffed with myself for figuring out how to do this. Thanks to the unsecured network provided by our Caribbean neighbours, the Linksys's, I was able to download Windows Live Photo Gallery, which has a neat little "Make Panoramic Picture" feature.

The next day, we picked up a prescription mask for Nick and went to Trunk bay. As the snorkelling went, this was probably my favourite. There is an island in the bay with a massive coral reef trail. The snorkelling fun continued the next day in Cinnamon bay, which was as beautiful as Jessica made it out to be, maybe even more so. That evening, we treated ourselves to dinner at Woody's during their happy hour.

On the Friday, we took a break from snorkelling to visit St. Thomas. We saw a lot of the historic sites, alas from the outside, as nothing seems to open on days when the cruise ships aren't in town. The differences between St. Thomas and St. John reminded me of the parallel universe episodes of Star Trek. Two-thirds of the island of St. John is national park. The population is much smaller than that of St. Thomas and in general, there is a very laid back and easy-going atmosphere. Even the-seemingly lone-homeless person we saw on the island was too laid back to ever approach us. On the other hand, the city of Charlotte Amalia on St. Thomas is much more developed and face-paced. There were far more loud noises, police cars, fast-talking street vendors and other typical features of a city. That's not to say that St. Thomas isn't also beautiful and we enjoyed climbing the 99 steps to Blackbeard's castle, from where we got a great view of the city.

We also met this little guy on the way down.

Then, Nick noticed a ski-lift in the remote distance, and decided that we just had to walk all the way around the harbour to get to it. It was so hot that day and it was torture walking in flip-flops over a mile to get to the ski-lift only to find the thing wasn't in use (which I had predicted before we left).
Even my panoramic photo trick can't fully illustrate just how far we walked.

On a happier note, I spotted a yarn store on the way back to the ferry. While the yarn selection was limited to some bins of Red Heart yarn and the store owner was quite frankly the least friendly person I met on the entire vacation, I did manage to pick up some US 3 double points. This was especially serendipitous as I had tragically packed yarn but no needles for the vacation! I immediately started on a project during the homeward ferry ride (of course I had yarn with me) and had to improvise a pattern, as I obviously didn't have my laptop. (Pattern to come!)

We took this picture of the store on our last day.

Rice-a-Roni, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love My Husband...
Saturday the 13th started out reasonably well. Nick and I went on the insanely steep hike of Caneel Hill. While it kicked our posteriors, we had a great sense of achievement when we reached the all of 700-foot summit (it felt like much more on the way up), and the view was breathtaking.

Our descent, however, wasn't nearly as idyllic. We couldn't find a signpost to any beach, our intended reward for making it the top of Caneel. We did find what Nick thought was an unmarked trail to the beach, but looked to me more like a ditch, and argued for a little while as to whether we should take it. I, through my powers of whining, prevailed and we stayed on the original trail only to come to a fork. One route would take us up a higher hill, while the other was unmarked. We were exhausted and so, we took the unmarked trail, as it appeared to be a descent, hopefully to a beach! Halfway down the mystery trail we were confronted by a huge spider who had marked his territory by spinning a massive web across our path. We were obviously so scared that we couldn't even use the focus function properly!

We decided to get by him by going through the trees and shrubs to the left of our little arachnid obstacle, only to be stung by a patch of nettles. Worse still, once beyond what I now believed to be a point of no return, we found ourselves in someone's backyard. We trekked what must have been a couple of miles back to town, complete with winding steep roads and a couple of wrong turns.

When we finally got back to town, we decided to pick up some groceries and have a quiet dinner at home. I got some chicken to barbecue on the outdoor grill and a packet of Rice-a-Roni, which could be served as a side without taking my focus off barbecuing. I warmed some oil and stirred in the rice and noodles and then ran outside to deal with the chicken. After a few minutes, I went back inside to stir the browned noodles and rice, only to find what will be etched into my memory forever. Like something out of a horror movie, there were hundreds of little black insects pouring out of the saucepan. I froze in horror, and screamed to Nick to come help me. Like a knight in shining armour, he took the saucepan outside and dealt with it. Ugh, I am getting goose-bumps while typing this. It turns out that these were grain weevils and it's not as uncommon an occurrence as you might hope!

Nick put the browned rice and evil invaders in a trash bag. I wasn't willing to open it for the sake of a photo-op, but maybe you can see some of them through the plastic!


The next day we went snorkelling again. We bought an underwater camera and headed back to honeymoon bay. We took a couple of photos and moved on to Salomon Bay.

Despite snorkelling for a number of hours in two beaches, we didn't come across a single stingray; the one thing I really wanted a picture of. I was all but giving up on the idea when we were packed and ready to head back to our rental home when I noticed something right up by the shore. I grabbed the underwater camera from Nick and dove into the water fully dressed. But I think it was worth it!

Every Breath You Take
The next day we went home. We travelled to St. Thomas by boat and took a cab to the airport after picking up some last minute odds and ends. When we boarded our flight to Charlotte NC, we couldn't believe it but we had managed to bookmark our trip in a rather unusual manner.

On our way to St. John, we met a extremely nice couple from Cape Cod. They were in St. John to celebrate their 30th anniversary; St. John being their original honeymoon destination. We shared a cab with them to the ferry and parted ways when we arrived at St. John. Or so we thought. When we went to Honeymoon bay, who did we run into? Again, when we went to Cinnamon Bay they were there. Every single time we saw them, they were already there when we arrived. We joked that we were stalking them and, thankfully, they had a good sense of humour.

By the time we were leaving, it had been a few days since we'd bumped into them. Before the plane was due to board, I ran to get a drink. When I got back, Nick said, "Look who's here!" I decided we had to get a photo with them. Evidently, honeymoon-based stalking is a very common activity for members of the South Bend Knitwork (you know who you are)!

So, that was our honeymoon. I'm glad to be home, or at least I keep telling myself that. I definitely want to go back there. Nick and I have said that, like our stalking victims, we'll go there for our 30th anniversary too. I can't wait!

Jun 4, 2009

Words from My Mother

Yesterday was a bit of a disaster. I completely broke down twice due to the stress of getting all my immigration papers filled out while remotely planning a wedding and dealing with some hiccups in planning. I also lade myself with guilt by misinforming my bridesmaid as to my location which meant she had to book a hotel, cancel it, find and book another one in a completely different city and then come visit me in my house filled with cats, to which she is allergic. I snapped a few times at my fiancé and let myself get so stressed my back started to spasm!

All in all, a pretty wretched day. However, by the end of the day, I got all the paperwork done. We managed to clear most things from our to-do list for that day and we had fun chatting with my bridesmaid.

The day was also redeemed by getting these kind words from my mother:

"Darling Elizabeth,
The next time I email you it will be as a married woman. I won't be able to say all I want in a five minute speech so I thought I'd just write to let you know how precious you are to me.
My sweetest girl, from the moment you were born we were connected until death. I cannot describe and you cannot know until it happens you yourself, the indissulouble bond of love that is formed at that moment. There are moments that imprinted on our brains forever and one of these was when I held you, my little bundle of paradise, in my arms for the first time. Migraines of joy aside, yours and Ben's births were the most profound, most connected and beautiful moments of my life.
Was it a mistake, naming you after Jane Austen's most self willed heroine?! You were, as you know, self-willed from the very start! How I loved that, although it was frustrating too since I had never experienced in my previous life, a will as strong as yours! What a joy and what a challenge it was having you in our lives. Some moments I will treasure and one or two of which I may mention in my official speech include:

You running away with a boy's pants on Malahide strand aged two.
You trying to go down the up esclator in what was then Roches Stores in Stillorgan.
You refusing to EVER to wear cool kiddy jeans and opting instead for fifties style frilly dresses.
Demanding pate and olives in Superquinn as reported by your Dad.
Informing me (when aged five) that the cat had died when I was in a state of denial about the inert lump of fur at the back door.
You telling me 'have a gin' in Malindi as I worried about your father being mugged or driven off the road on his way back from Mombasa
You asking innocently why is it dangerous to share knitting needles, having misunderstood a poster warning about the dangers of sharing needles.
You shouting out: 'I know what a blow job is' when I mistakenly called my Big Blow hairdryer by the wrong name.
You kissing and cuddling Ben when he was born.
You kissing and cuddling me (yes, you did, the odd time!)
Losing you in Dunnes Stores (often) then finding you in the toy department.
The first Mother's Day card you made for me.
Your face on the platform at Charlbury when your Dad and I returned from Sri Lanka. You were such a brave little girl staying with your grandparents for a month, but when you finally saw us you WERE overjoyed.

Some teen moments - definitely the best time!

You telling me I was a 'slut' when I turned up to collect you from school wearing jeans and a leather jacket. And yes, I can laugh about that now though I wish I still had the figure I had then!
Your excuse when your Dad and I discovered you'd been sleeping in the park all night: 'But if I'd told you, you would have stopped me!' Doh!
Your never explain, never apologise policy with the possible exception of the above 'explanation'!
The fact that you had the gumption to replace the window you broke while we were away, even if all else was chaos.
Your disgust at being told: 'You can't go out in a skirt up to your bum'
The way you could look me straight in the eye and say: 'I haven't been on ANYTHING' and look like you meant it.
The Milk Snake - need I say more.
Tremor (I still have Tremors thinking of him)
Your sense of humour which saved you from death by parent on more than one occasion.
You singing: 'You are the wind beneath my wings'.
The day you got the Leaving Cert.

And later:
Saying goodbye to you as you left for Notre Dame, the pride and the sadness of it.
Seeing you work in the lab at Notre Dame and realising: my daughter is a scientist!
The first time you brought Nick home! You guys are made for each other.
Meeting Buttons.
Your fairness to both me and your Dad when we separated. You played a blinder, even if I didn't see it at the time. I'm so proud of you my darling daughter, not just as a scientist but as a person.
Having you April Fool me that you were a lesbian.
The day you defended your thesis.
Doing water aerobics with you in Powerscourt Leisure Centre.
Eating out at the Olive Tree South Bend with you and Nick.
Showing Nick (and you!) around your native city.
Your famous line: 'I'll go to London with you so long as we don't have to do 'culture' ' This has to rank alongside Gorings famous 'When I hear the word culture I reach for my gun'
The day Nick asked for your hand in marriage (and the hints you'd given me beforehand.....)

Days to come

I hope that these will be as full of joy and laughter as the early days have been. The future is a blank page on which you and your beloved Nick will write. I wish you both all the love and joy, all the sharing and happiness this world can give. Above all may you be kind to each other, finding delight even in your failings and seeing the sweet familiarity of love in all you do.

From: To His Daughter
May she become a flourishing hidden tree
That all her thoughts may like the linnet be,
And have no business but dispensing round
Their magnanimities of sound,
Nor but in merriment begin a chase,
Nor but in merriment a quarrel.
O may she live like some green laurel
Rooted in one dear perpetual place.

And may her bridegroom bring her to a house
Where all's accustomed, ceremonious;
For arrogance and hatred are the wares
Peddled in the thoroughfares.
How but in custom and in ceremony
Are innocence and beauty born?
Ceremony's a name for the rich horn,
And custom for the spreading laurel tree.

-- William Butler Yeats.
With love from
Your Momx"

Jun 1, 2009

What's On Your Mind?

Not much, really. This blog is, at times, a testament to just how little is goes on in my life. You both may recall the less-than-epic tale of a fly landing in my coffee and the monofaceted adventure that was the the time I didn't like how a sock was turning out.

The concept of a blog, aside from being a wretched neologism, is an almost overly manicured snippet of one's existence. I can't speak for everyone, but when I write entries into my blog, I edit multiple times before, and often a few times after, I publish them. Unless there is some time-sensitive content, I may even save a draft, allowing myself to return to it with fresh eyes. It may be the daughter-of-a-writer in me, but I always like to ensure that each entry is a well-structured and witty use of my diction. The problem is that with each successive edit, reality yields a little more to a dramatic or entertaining narrative.

That said, it's hard to write an entire paragraph without letting some element of your personality slip through. While the cold facts you deliver may not mean much, what you leave between the lines might be a candid display of who you are. For instance, forensic linguists were able to prove that an author, other than Jane Austen, completed the novel, Sandition.

But what if you're not writing an entire paragraph? I am of course talking about the increasingly popular hobby (or compulsion) of updating one's Facebook status message. As a moderate narcissist, I can completely understand how someone may think that their entire friend list would want to hear every banal detail of their day. I am drinking coffee. I am done drinking coffee. I am going to the store because I ran out of coffee. I mean, it's boring when it's someone else. But my life is just riveting, and other people obviously feel the same way about it. Solipsism aside, I often wonder if, at the end of a day of keeping our friends apprised of our every little movement, when we then meet one of these friends fin person, have we rid ourselves of everything we could talk about? To be fair, there's a little more to Facebook than status messages. We can show pictures of events in our life, which could represent a graphic novel-style depiction of our existence. We can also lay out, albeit in bullet points, a description of our lives: where we live, who we're dating, favourite quotes, and so on. Best of all, we can link offsite to more in-depth accounts of what we're up to, such as our blogs.

The same is not true for my newest pet peeve: Twitter. Twitter has stripped away all the remotely expressive elements of Facebook and left us with the most self-indulgent and attention-span bereft feature. Twitter is what's wrong with society. It is instant gratification, self-involvement, and anti-social behaviour all rolled into one. And to make matters worse, the parlance associated with it is just plain aggravating. Instead of updating your status, you are now tweeting. And it is everywhere. More so Myspace during its heyday. It seems that every celebrity is tweeting. An astronaut tweeted from space. News of a revolution in Moldova surfaced over Twitter. Worst of all, I just heard that an NPR presenter has a twitter account (and no, I am not telling you who it is!).

I know I sound like a old-aged pensioner reminiscing about the good old days before the newfangled doodads brought about the end of society. I am sure that similar concerns about interpersonal communication were raised during the advent of the telephone or the hand-written letter. I remember the increased availability of the cell-phone evoking such worries, though, at that time, I was youthful enough then to be firmly on the side of the new technology. Maybe twitter, like the many communication technologies that preceded it, will allow for a positive evolution in our interpersonal exchanges. It could be that by clearing out the need to exchange more banal details of our day, we can spend our time together discussing more profound or esoteric issues. Perhaps someone may see your seemingly inconsequential status, which you would never have relayed to them in person, and be prompted to share something amazingly life-altering with you as a result.

It is possible that I am just such a long-winded, gasbag that I could never fathom limiting myself to just 140 characters.

10 Things in 1000 days

I decided to rationalize my impulse purchasing of knitting books by setting myself a personal challenge.
Here's how long I have left:

Quotation of the Day

This Day in History

Is There Anybody Out There?

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