Lani's household consists of Steve, the long-suffering coding genius and computer security guru; Jim, Lani's tall, red-headed and handsome son, currently finishing his second year of college; Hunter, Jasmine, Himari, Chenault, the miraculous Onyx and the even more miraculous Resk, undisputed feline rulers of the house; and Jesse, the man-hating green-cheeked conure.
Ann's household consists of Don, who is not just a computer genius but a pilot, a builder, and a damn good father; their son Steve, the marathon-running, college-bound, funniest teenager I know; and wonder dog Tater.
Other family members are Laurie, Lani's beautiful daughter who teaches at elementary levels; her handsome son Alex, aka Alexander the Great; Mary and Bo, a/k/a Mom and Dad, and Bud and Ann, Steve's patient and wonderful parents.
The best-laid schemes o' mice an 'men (posted by Lani)
gang aft agley, so Robert Burns said, and oh boy did that hold true this weekend. What should have been a nice easy trip with which to end my month turned into ... well, not at all a nice easy trip. Out of 14 scheduled legs, we only flew 10; and one of those wasn't scheduled, it was a re-route (instead of Rochester-DCA-White Plains-Charlotte, we flew Rochester-Charlotte because DCA and White Plains were locked out by storms for a second day. It was so bad, in fact, that we had a full plane going to Charlotte even though it wasn't a scheduled flight. People just wanted to get somewhere, anywhere, where they might make a connection and eventually get where they were going.)
Out of our 10 flights, one -- ONE -- was on time, and we did everything including skip meals and do the world's fastest turns between flights to try to make up time wherever we could. We had 14 hours of weather delay (not counting our regularly scheduled sits between flights). Friday night in Philadelphia Amanda and I crawled into the cargo hold and unloaded gate-checked bags from the previous flight so their owners could collect them and leave the airport (um, if you're official and reading this, I'm making this up. Totally. Never happened. I wouldn't know a cargo hold from Adam's housecat. But one passenger did kiss me on the cheek. Just randomly, of course. No particular reason. Carry on.). To ice the Friday night cake, when we then loaded our flight we had 31 passengers and only 4 checked bags. All the baggage mess was because the baggage handlers had all gone off shift at midnight, even though there were still flights trying to get out, so there were only a couple of supervisors working and trying to handle everything and they (a) couldn't be everywhere at once, and (b) couldn't find the bags for our flight. You do the math ... 31 passengers, 4 bags. Yeah. Oh yeah, icing on the icing ... that was the night that we didn't get to our hotel until 3am or so. It was, to understate dramatically, not a good weekend to be flying on the East Coast, either as a passenger or a crewmember.
The amazing thing about all this, though, is that people were so nice. I had fabulous passengers through the entire mess, even when I had to give them bad news like, well, I know we've been waiting here for 2 hours, but we're going back to the gate, folks, and we're probably going to be cancelled. Or, look ya'll, I'm really sorry, but only 4 of you are going to be getting your luggage tonight. I don't care what anyone says, if you treat people well, and tell them what's going on instead of lying to them or trying to hide the truth, people in general really are nice. I even had a pair of adorable little girls on one trip who made me one of those potholders you weave on a little loom and gave me hugs when they got off the plane -- made my day, I tell you, and it's hanging up in my kitchen right now (thank you, Amanda and Jessica!). And I had a great crew; I believe I've mentioned that my FO this month is fabulous, and Mike was our captain this week and was great to work with. Too bad you can't pick people you always want to fly with, because they'd be tops on my list.
Oh -- I yelled at a passenger for the first time since taking this job, and I do mean yelled. He was either stupid or just clueless, bless his heart (and I think more than a little drunk), and he kept getting up. And turning on his cellphone to make calls. And getting up. Repeatedly. First while we were taxiing, and then AS WE TURNED ONTO THE ACTIVE RUNWAY. SECONDS BEFORE TAKEOFF. I mean ... what's the thought process there? Gee, the pilot has announced that we're taking off in precisely 10 minutes (we had a wheels-up time), 9 minutes have gone by, another announcement has been made, the plane has started moving ... this seems like a good time to get up and stroll back to the lav? (If you're a raving lunatic and that sounds logical, btw, rethink it ... not only are airplane lavs nasty, but they can splash on takeoff. Ewwww.) I think I scared a couple of years off him, which was just returning the favor since I nearly had a heart attack when I saw him pop up out of his seat. Not because I particularly cared at that point if those genes left the pool, mind you, but because having to circle around and make an emergency landing to have the paramedics come take his broken body away would have delayed us even more. I must have sounded like I'd do the body-breaking personally, because he sat down fast and never moved for the rest of the flight, so it worked out alright in my book, but really.
In other news, um, there isn't any. Steve is working hard and complaining about it (but happy as a pig in slop, don't let the complaining fool you), Pippin is doing well and even did a little (very stiff) bouncing around when I came home, Jesse is learning how to say "Hello, beautiful!", and the cats are fat and sleek and happy. It rained here enough while I was gone that I came home to a jungle in the yard; my tomatoes and squash have gone insane. I have dahlias in the front yard as big as dinner plates, and almost all of my daylilies are throwing out more buds. And best of all, our peach tree is so loaded down with fruit that the branches are bowed down to the ground, although sadly the surplus of rain has caused some of the fruit to split. Not all, though, so I may yet get some peaches off it before this is over. And, with all that bounty of fruit and vegetables and (sigh) weeds in the yard to play with ... I go back on reserve tomorrow.
Next post will have pictures of some sort, I promise. But Ann ... you still owe pictures from the reef. Give 'em up!
I find that there's something soothing about knitting dishclothes. You can make mindless and super easy dishclothes, like the ballband on the left. Ballbands are one of my favorites. But what if you're tired of ballbands? You can try something new to you, like the funky short-row square on the right (interesting to work on, makes a nice thick scrubby cloth, but pretty? Not so much.).
Since you're messing with short rows anyway you can take the fabulous Lizard Ridge afghan pattern that you coveted from the moment you saw it, and try that in a nice cheap yarn instead of Noro (goes much faster than I thought, and it really helps if you can knit backwards instead of having to turn your work and purl -- a skill I'm still practicing). Or, you can try a funky star shape just to see how it'll work out (pretty neat how the variegated cotton worked with the pattern, isn't it?).
You can try out a new stitch you're thinking of using for a baby afghan to see how it might look (has potential, don't you think?). Heck, you can even knit pictures or messages into your dishclothes (Jasmine thinks "worship me" would have been more appropriate, but she's ok with love in a pinch).
The thing I like best about knitting dishclothes, aside from the fact that they're useful, is that they don't care if you make mistakes. Dishclothes are forgiving. They're made out of cheapo kitchen cotton, and you're just going to use them to scrub dirty pots and pans anyway, so if you're learning and experimenting (say with short rows, or a new lace pattern, or seaming up garter stitch) this is the way to go. It's highly unlikely that anyone will wander into your kitchen and pick up a dishcloth and criticize your efforts, and hey if they DO, make them wash dishes as punishment; after all, they already have cloth in hand!
I've been knitting dishclothes as a way to bounce back from my Askew disaster, and also because I had a wonderful little stomach bug that knocked me for a loop and made me crave something to do that would keep my mind off my troubles and be finished quickly (in the case of some of these, quickly was a relative term). Sadly, knitting dishclothes is pretty much all I've been doing; I did one more repeat on the lavender shawl (it's really very close to done but the rows are soooo looooonnnnngggg now that it's a chore, not a treat), and I cast on for the Jewelled shell in a nice bright summery coral, and I did read the new Harry Potter book, but that's about it. Endless rows of knitting R not US right now. I didn't even fly this past weekend (courtesy of aforementioned stomach bug -- being sick to your stomach on an airplane is not the way to go, TRUST me on this) although I will be off tomorrow on another trip. My life is currently pretty boring, and I'm ok with that. How about you, Annie?
The only bad thing about the diving trip was that Don and Steve didn't get to come with me. I missed them, and they would have loved it.
Just one picture to tease you, and I'm off to finish packing. 30 hours of travel to get home, and that starts with a 7am flight tomorrow morning.
There were sharks, turtles, more fish than you can imagine - it was all beautiful, and my new waterproof case for my camera worked great.
Okay, one more picture.
P.S. Don't die anywhere, Lani, much less in Philly. Don will have a few choice words for the general aviation pilot who got himself into controlled airspace and endangered you. Glad it all worked out okay, but I bet that was scary!
We had a near miss in Philly Monday morning -- too near a miss, frankly, way too near, due to a small plane not in contact with the control tower, not on the radar, and directly in our landing pattern -- and all I could think was "Please, God, not in Philly!" I'm really not ready to die anywhere, when it gets right down to it ... but as I sat in my jumpseat and listened to all the alarms going off and heard the strain in the pilots' voices and felt the plane take evasive maneuvers, that's all I could think. Please, not in Philly. Obviously deep in my psyche there's such a hatred for the Philadelphia airport that I'm not even willing to DIE there. That's Philly for ya.
So anyway, prior to playing dodgeball with small planes on Monday I had a long overnight in Erie, PA on Sunday. Nothing compared to Singapore or Sydney or the Great Barrier Reef, and I'm waiting impatiently for diving pictures Annie, but hey it is what it is, and what it was for me was Erie. Pretty much everything around the hotel, with the exception of a bar and a hot dog/ice cream stand down by the beach, was closed because it was Sunday -- but the mall in Erie is actually supposed to have some cool shops. Ok, I'll go mallhopping, why not? Then I discovered that the local taxi services have a flat rate to the mall ... the 5.69 miles away mall ... of $24.00. Each way. Now, the mall in Erie may be cool, but $48? That's an awful lot of cool. I'd spend that kind of money on a long lazy Sunday afternoon to get to the Smithsonian, say, or the Met, but to a mall in Erie, PA? I don't think so. Sheesh. What's with that?
Askew: I finished it, blocked it, said "oh Hell", blocked it again, said several more pithy words, seamed it, tried it on, and sure enough, it's too small. What's frustrating is that I swatched not once but twice, and I got gauge perfectly on the second swatch. Apparently when I actually knit it I knit far more tightly than I had when swatching -- I still haven't figured out just why, but there ya go. I wondered several times at how small it looked, but I kept going back to the part of the pattern that talked about how much it would stretch width-wise and consoling myself that, after all, I got gauge and therefore all is well. Sigh. Next time I listen to my inner skeptic! On the up side it's lovely (the pictures don't nearly do it justice), and it was a learning experience, and someone, somewhere who wears about a size 8 is going to get a top knit from Noro, because I'll be damned if I'm frogging it. I'd show you just how small it is on but, well, just imagine a sausage in a lovely Noro casing and you've about got it right. Fudge.
Other knitting: Almost finished my lavender DD shawl. Isn't it funny how a shawl still on the circs looks like nothing but a pile of tangled yarn? The second picture shows the pattern a bit better, but you still don't get the full effect; obviously this will look much nicer once blocked. I had intended to finish it on last week's trip but didn't quite make it; I'm thinking two, maybe three more repeats and then the (easy as pie) garter stitch edging. Once that's done I've picked yarn and swatched for this top for a knit-along with friends, and will take both the shawl and the yarn/needles with me on this week's trip. Yes indeed, you can bet that since Askew went so askew I'll be trying this baby on as I go.
And finally, I'm happy to report that I've infected Amanda (remember her? My FO this month?) with the knitting bug; after watching with fascination as I knit whenever we had long sits, she asked if I could teach HER to knit since she thought it'd be a great idea to knock out some scarf/hat combos for Christmas presents while killing time on trips. She's from Minnesota, too, so scarves/hats will obviously be much appreciated, especially handmade ones. I'm bringing her a set of needles and some yarn, and we'll start her off with a nice simple garter stitch scarf this weekend. That should make this trip more fun ... maybe I should bring needles for our captain, too!
The flight from Singapore to Sydney wasn't great. British Airways has done this new thing with business class seats, to fit more people in the same space. Check it out on Seat Guru. Instead of three people across in the middle section, they've fit four. It's a little disconcerting to sit backwards, but that was okay. The part I didn't like was that they also cut the length short. I disagree with the rating on Seat Guru - the seats may lay flat, but I'm too tall at 5'6" for the seats. You'd have to be under 5' tall for it to be comfortable.
But, Sydney made up for it when we got here.
The Bridge Climb was just awesome. It is quite an experience, and you climb to the top of this.
They don't let you take anything with you at all - not even a Kleenex. Everything is clipped to the jumpsuit they make you wear, including sunglasses. No camera, nothing. You climb ladders, and through tight squeezes, on catwalks of steel mesh over the water - it's awesome. If you look on this picture right underneath the flags, you can see the tiny dots that are people at the top of the bridge. That's where I was!
It was so clear you could see forever, and windy so the harbor was full of sailboats. It was quite an experience!
After the Bridge Climb, as if my feet hadn't had enough, we walked around the harbor to the Opera House and I took pictures of the bridge and the Opera House. What a fabulous day!
Today it was all work, but tomorrow night I go to Cairns to go diving. I am having fun and working hard, but I miss the guys.
This shot is out of the office window. It shows the performance center, which is said to look like a durian (local fruit that is supposed to smell terrible, I'll let you know after I locate some today). The boats on the river with the interesting looking balloons are practicing for National Day, a big celebration here. I think the balloons look like jellyfish, but who knows what they are supposed to be!
We went to the night zoo Thursday night, which was really interesting. You ride on a tram, and get off and take walks, and all the nocturnal animals are out and active so it's great. Here are Ash and I before we got started.
This shot is of a leopard (no flash allowed, so he's sort of dark). He was just on the other side of the glass, and was really impressive.
These are a few shots of typical downtown Singapore with the river winding through it. We had lunch under one of those awnings along the river, and it was the best Indian food I've ever had.
Ash and I went out on the street, and decided to try a local specialty. Their version of an ice cream sandwich is a brick of ice cream wrapped in a slice of bread. The bread is green and pink - we had to do it. The ice cream is good, but I have to say that tasting bread with ice cream is weird.
This last one is Mollie, who organized our visit, at the cocktail party last night. It was on a rooftop overlooking the river, and was a nice way to conclude our business here.
Today, we are going on a boat cruise to Kusu Island, and then we'll come back to the hotel, get cleaned up, and go to the airport for the flight to Sydney.
Tomorrow we'll be doing this, which I hope I will be able to do without limping for a week afterward! I'll let you know how it works out, though I don't think they let you bring a camera.
I'm missing the guys, and it's still a week until I head home. Whoever says the world is getting smaller isn't travelling with me - it's still a long way to get home, even if they do have Burger King, Starbucks, and 7-Eleven stores!
Got home from my first trip of the month Monday night late; it was a really good trip, great crew, and my FO on this trip has the exact same schedule for the month so we'll be flying together for the rest of July. That's very unusual and very nice; I like her a lot and look forward to seeing her again on Friday. We had a long layover in Pittsburgh and decided we wanted to do some shopping, so we took a long walk and wandered around ... and I discovered IKEA. Yes, yes, I knew it existed, I've just never lived anywhere that actually had one. And I know Crazy Aunt Purl is nuts about IKEA, and frankly I always thought maybe she was just a wee bit unbalanced in her ferventlove for the place ... well, I owe her an apology. But anyway, I totally heart IKEA. It's amazing, totally amazing. I've raved about it to the point that Steve thinks I'm probably a wee bit unbalanced myself, but seriously ya'll. What a great store. If only there were one closer to me -- then again, that'd be dangerous.
So anyway! The first thing I do after coming home from a trip -- well, after petting the critters and sleeping for umpty-seven hours and reassuring the critters that I still love them and unpacking and tripping over the critters and doing laundry and carrying Onyx around because he needs even more reassurance than the others -- is cook a real meal. Steve never eats right while I'm gone, and although I try to pack healthy food to eat on the road, I'm craving home-cooked food by the time I get home. So last night I made a big steak dinner (Steve's favorite), and since I was feeling wild and crazy I made dessert. That's a rare thing; we almost never have dessert here. But I'd seen Pioneer Woman's recipe for Peach Crisp with Maple Cream Sauce (do you read her blog? If you don't, you should check it out; she's funny, she takes great pictures that make me sigh with envy, and her recipes are yum, squared, if not precisely low-calorie *cough*). Anyway, this Peach Crisp looked pretty darned good, and the grocery store had some nice-looking peaches, and well. Let me tell you, pretty darned good? HA. I could live off this stuff. Not for long, mind you, I'd weigh 500 pounds and die of a heart attack within a year what with the cream and the butter and the sugar and all, but what a year it would be. Steve loved this it as much as I did; it's a good thing we were by ourselves, because the moans of pleasure would have been embarassing in public. I swear, it's THAT GOOD. I'm drooling thinking about it; good thing there are leftovers upstairs. I may be on the elliptical for the rest of the month burning off these calories, but it's so, so worth it.
Speaking of Onyx, have I mentioned that he's a dork? Poor Pippin; she won't fight back, she just stands there and cries to me when he takes her bed. What a dork.
Coming tomorrow: pictures of my Askew, currently blocking.
I have been too busy to post, which means I have lots to share!
First, Mom and Dad came to visit and it was really nice. They went out on the boat to see fireworks with us, Mom and I shopped, and it was a great visit. Here they are with Steve. And speaking of Steve, he got his learner’s permit while they were here so we are doing some driving. He’s doing well, and we have all gotten turns at letting him drive – Don, me and Dad. He has six hours of instruction from the driving school too, so after 50 hours of driving he’ll be an officially licensed driver. I’m ready to do a little less ferrying around, so that will be nice!
We did a lot of sailing after 4th of July, so here are a few pictures. We had friends in from Philadelphia, Dick and Jane, (they take the inevitable sniggering in stride, and say it's easier to say Jane and Dick) and they joined us for a nice day culminating with more fireworks. It was like our own private show, no one was watching, and they were great! Every time Dick and Jane come to visit there is no wind, so of course that happened again. They have invited us to visit them in Philadelphia to go sailing, and now we’ll see if there is wind in Philadelphia. Perhaps. Then we took the guys that live in the farmhouse in front of us, and their son, out on Friday night and had a great time. Tyler is adorable, isn’t he? And clearly Don is having fun too. After all the sailing, I left on Sunday at 1PM and flew to Tokyo (13 hours in the air), had a two hour layover, and flew to Singapore (7 hours in the air). It was a very long day, and I arrived midnight Monday night in Singapore. I’m staying at this place, which is very swanky.
After about five hours sleep, I got up Tuesday morning and worked all day – solid meetings – then out to dinner, then back to the hotel for a two hour conference call from 8 – 10 pm, and then had birthday cake with Ash. (I am a bad boss and I made him travel with me to Singapore on his 30th birthday). Then I passed out. Today is less hectic, thank goodness!
Singapore is really clean, beautiful, and seems a little like Disney. It’s too good to be true – except for this, which is the document you have to fill out for entry into the country. Little scary, huh? I’m told that it is safe to walk anywhere at any hour, it seems that crime just doesn’t exist (no wonder). Here is a picture from after dinner last night, with the Singapore Merlion in the background. I’ll give you a link here, that shot doesn’t do him justice.
Tomorrow night Ash and I are headed to the night zoo in Singapore, which is supposed to be really cool. On Friday night, we have a cocktail party with the Singapore management team, and then we have a day to do tourist things.
Saturday night, it's another long flight to Syndey, Australia. Sunday will be sightseeing, Monday and Tuesday are work, and then comes the real fun.
I am going to Cairns to do this . I promise pictures, I got a waterproof case for my camera. Stay tuned!
P.S. I did get out of Greensboro. After much waiting, we got loaded on the plane and waited some more, then unloaded again and more waiting. Then - I saw the pilot running down the concourse. He announced that we had a wheels up time in 20 minutes, and to Get Moving! So we did - we moved so fast they didn't even check our tickets, but we all got loaded and we got out of there.
Mmmm, and Arrrgh: Knitting with Noro (posted by Lani)
I've got a few days off before I go back to work on Friday, and yesterday I started working on the Askew top from Knitty (and on a totally unrelated note, every time I look at that cover picture I wonder: whatever happened to wearing tops that match, or at least coordinate with, your skirt?). Anyway, I completely blame Wendy, specifically this post of hers, for infecting me with the Askew bug and causing me to promptly drop all of my other WIPs and cast on. As a result, I am now experiencing the sometimes fabulous, sometimes frustrating experience of knitting with Noro for the first time.
I love the feel of the Silk Garden yarn; it felt rough and scratchy in the skein and I was a little worried at first, but as you work with it and it flows through your hands and over the needles it softens beautifully. I love the colors; I love watching the long flows of color blending into new colors as I knit (and the colors are far prettier than my picture shows). I love the fabric this yarn creates; just enough texture and interest, and it's soft and wonderful and I can't wait to feel it against my skin. I hope this top is flattering when it's done, but if it isn't I'll wear it around the house anyway just because.
I do NOT love the knots in the skeins that interrupt color flows and knot them to totally unrelated colors, forcing me to splice at last count three separate times on the second half of the front of my top to get the stripes to match up (yes, I'm just anal like that). I do NOT love the vegetable matter; this is an expensive, mass produced yarn (call it 'semi hand-spun' if you like, the fact remains it's a mass produced yarn), and there's no excuse for the numerous twigs and bits of leaf and other pricklies I've had to pick out of it. I do NOT love the fact that in some spots it's so overspun it's like wire, and in some spots it's so underspun that I worry about it pulling apart. I can and did understand all of these problems in the sari silk I purchased from a fair trade site; it was hand-spun in Nepalese villages by poor women, and ok, I can see how bits and pieces of stuff could get into that yarn, and I can see why the spinning could be irregular. But I don't understand that in Noro. Have they never heard of quality control?
Still, even with the frustrations of stopping and splicing yarn and growling and muttering about it, I'm having fun.This is such a fast knit, such a mindless knit (well, it would be if not for the damn knots and the assorted crap in the yarn). I totally plan, if it looks even halfway decent on me, to make another one out of some stash yarn in a solid color; I think it'll be just as pretty, and I have some modifications in mind.
Other stuff going on around here? Well, the past couple of days have been nice, but before that it was hot. Hot with a capital HOT. Onyx pretty much sums up what we did (aside from work) last week. Yeah. It was hot.