Tuesday, January 27, 2009

In which I discover my inner geek

I left for a trip to California and discovered I am a geek, in the best sense I'm hoping. Work called me out west for my first visit to California. I had to visit one of our locations in San Jose, which was a nice sunny balmy 60F when I landed. The two hour time difference between home and the west coast didn't seem too bad until I found my eyes becoming quite heavy at early evening. I rested, met my coworkers in the morning for breakfast, then realized I was in Silicon Valley. To an IT professional, it was like landing somewhere only to look around and have it dawn on you that you are in Disney World.

As we drove to the office, I began to shout excitedly "Oh, there's Yahoo! There's Intel, oh my gosh, was that Cisco?" My exclamations greatly amused my non-IT coworkers. Later, a counterpart at the office offered to drive me around to see the sites. I thanked her for her graciousness and then promptly asked, "Do you know where the Google office is?" Forget the bay, the Golden Gate Bridge, or Lombard St in San Franscisco. I spent the next couple of hours driving around Silicon Valley taking in the sites of a bunch of IT company office buildings. Yes, I found Google, and you can google Goggle on Google Maps when you get a little lost, which we did. It was one of the best site seeing jaunts ever.

I did not, though, take any time to get in some fly fishing, which Italian thought was a bit nutty. The guy is great. He was encouraging me to extend my trip away from home so I could trek out to a remote lake or river and catch a fish. I was anxious to get back to my boys, plus, fly fishing without the guys just doesn't seem right; not yet anyway. I did finish the Spey Valley socks on the flight.

From WIPs

They were an extremely quick knit, spanning a few hours over three weeks. If I had actually devoted time to these socks, they would have been complete a while ago. The yarn is from a small indie dyer and the base yarn is nice and squishy. The pattern supplies just the right amount of variance to be interesting but still works well with a self striping yarn. Overall, I'd knit the pattern and this yarn again, which is good, because I have more of this yarn in my stash in other colorways.
From WIPs

After casting off the socks, I picked up a shawl. This teeny tiny mess of lace weight yarn had been languishing in my knitting basket. It was feeling forlorn and looked sad when I packed it for my trip. It began to perk up though somewhere over the Rockies and slowly started to look like an unblocked piece of lace, still messy, but with some life and potential. I have to say, lace is a great plane project. It is compact and unobtrusive, plus the concentration required helps pass the time quickly.
From WIPs

Before I close out for today, I need to wish my goddaughter a belated happy birthday. She had the honor of turning three last week, on Inaguration day. The entire nation held a great big party for little Nay Nay (and Barack Obama. Nay Nay was nice enough to share her day). Happy birthday, sweetie!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A new beginning

On this Inaguration day, the country is buzzing with hope and expectation. People are hopeful in our new, vibrant, charismatic, young president, expecting him to bring forth new life and vitality in our country and in our economy. As Obama is sworn in today, I hope the goodwill surrounds him and he is given the strength and skills needed to deliver on the expectations before him. Today is truly a historical moment and a much needed new start to our beleaguered nation. May this be the start of a new time of prosperity and success.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

You gotta have a goal

Even though the Christmas season is technically over, a couple of friends came by this weekend for a little Christmas cheer. We had a hardy winter dinner of purple mashed potatoes (I had no idea that purple skinned potatoes are actually purple potatoes), meatloaf (doctored up with basil, provolone cheese, and sun-dried tomatoes), and roasted carrots (covered in maple syrup and sage). They even brough along something to go with my socks.

From Irish Clover

The scotch was very yummy and had a smoky roasted caramel apple flavor, quite nice. While the girls sipped on our wine, the guys enjoyed the scotch. We all enjoyed the company.

With the Christmas celebrations finally over, the decorations dismantled and put way, and approximately one thirty-sixth of the New Year done, I might as well publically announce the resolutions I will strive to follow, but will not be completely successful in accomplishing. Nothing like an optimistic attitude to start of the year right? In all seriousness, Italian and I know this year will bring some mild stresses but will also have a few large joys. We have some home improvement projects queueing up, and although the end results will be quite nice, the interium mess, disorder, and financial costs will be an experience to say the least. Thank goodness we have wine and yarn.

Resolution 1: Save money and shop mindfully
I have to be honest, the improvements we would like to make to the house will require an investment of capital, so the "saving money" portion of the resolution might be a little harder than we would like. It will really be more along the lines of make the improvements with the lowest impact possible, by eliminating all other forms of discretionary spending. Thank goodness I have a stash of yarn in my closet and plenty of board games to entertain us on the weekends we are not improving our nest.

As for shopping mindfully, I only want to purchase things that have a purpose in my home and bring me joy. I'm pretty picky, so hopefully, this means I won't be buying much, which leads to saving money. I also want to put supporting local business first in my shopping, so my time will be spent at locally owned stores and farmer markets when I can. I might pay more, but helping my locally economy is worth the extra price.

This resolution also means, I'll be knitting from my stash. I have some wonderful yarns in my stash and they deserve my time. I won't completely stop buying yarn, but when I do, it will be something wonderful and heartwarming.

Resolution 2: Organize and declutter the house
Overall, my home is a happy place. There are patches, though, that have more potential for joy, like the ceiling in our bathroom that is missing plaster and paint, and the soffit outside needing replacing, and the mass quantity of things on shelves and in closets we never use. I need to declutter our home and send some things into the wild to bring joy to other people. We also need to help give our home a facelift in some spots to bring out its beauty. I figure I have twelve months, and if we get one thing done a month, we're better off at the end of the year than we were at the beginning.

Resolution 3: Eat food, not too much, mostly plants
The two books I read last year by Michael Pollan, Omnivore's Dilemma and An Eater's Manifesto, made a huge impact on me and how I view what I eat. Because of this, my goal is to improve my family's health through eating foods processed as little as possible and as fresh as possible. There may be a home garden in our future.

Resolution 4: Focus on learning Korean
I will spend sometime on learning Korean each week. It may be two minutes, it may be an hour, but each week, I will do something to further my knowledge about my Korean heritage. I owe it to my mom, to myself, and to my son. This resolution really comes out of Spinning Sundays. No matter my mood, I spend sometime at my spinning wheel each Sunday. The structure seems stifling some weeks, but when I put the wheel back in its place after spinning, I'm always satisfied with the investment I made. My goal is to do the same with my Korean.

So there you go, a little sample of my year to be. My hope is to end this year a better and more thoughtful person, making the world better in some way be spreading good karma.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

More than four

Over the last few months, Italian and I have determined that Little Clover is getting old enough to be introduced to some of the small things we share as adults. Since college, Italian and I have used a certain phrase and we believed Little Clover was ready to hear the phrase, "I love you more than four."

The first time we said this to Little Clover, he looked at us as if our heads were spinning. "Four isn't a lot" he responded. It was time to explain to him why four is a lot. Late one night in college, while studying with philosophy majors, someone came up with the theory that four was the answer to everything. This theory basically takes the answer to a question, counts the number of words or letters in the answer, then counts the number of letters in the given number, and continues until you hit the magic number. For example, when explaining this to Little Clover, we asked him what his favorite animal is, to which he replied, a cheetah. The word "cheetah" has 7 letters, "seven" has 5 letters, "five" has 4 letters, and "four" has 4 letters. The answer is four.

Little Clover had little faith, so he started throwing out words and phrases, all of which ended up being narrowed down to four. We were in giggles as we tried to come up with longer and more ludicrous phrases, until we finally concluded that saying "I love you more than 4" really means "I love you more than everything."

He was pretty happy with that explanation, but I'm not really sure it will catch on with him. It may have to remain as just an inside phrase between Italian and I, who have been saying it since we began dating in college, which was a very long time ago. So long ago, we will be celebrating our ten year wedding anniversary this year. Even though we've been married for such a long time, our relationship is not very different than the way it was in college, making my latest WIP, the almost perfect project.

From WIPs

The pattern is Spey Valley from Nancy Bush's Knitting on the Road, significant to me and to Italian for a couple of reasons. Spey Valley in Scotland is one of the homes of fly fishing. Well, it's in the general region of the birth of fly fishing. It is the home of a specific casting method, the Spey cast. Neither Italian nor I can Spey cast, but we both would love to fly fish in the United Kingdom. It's on our list of places to go, and if we ever make it there, these socks will be with me, in the river, while I cast.

The Spey Valley is also known for scotches. I do not drink scotch, Italian does. I buy scotch, Italian doesn't. One could say it is a shared interest.

The best part of these socks, though, is the colorway. It's called Boyfriend, and for some reason, I'm still more comfortable thinking of Italian as my boyfriend rather than my husband, not that there is anything wrong with being a "husband" or a "wife," it's just that Italian to me will always be that guy in my college English classes who was incredibly sweet and cute and who charmed me with his stellar smile. What can I say, he's my best friend, and my boyfriend, before he is anything else.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Holiday Recap

Boy, has it been a while since I've blogged. To be honest, I'm not expecting many readers to still be around, but if you are, Happy New Year! (and I'm very grateful you've stuck with me) We've had a nice, albeit jam packed Christmas break, and I took the time to be completely offline (except for the occasional Facebook status update). Honestly, being offline was relaxing and I rather liked it, but coming back from the Christmas holidays brings with it catching up on emails, Ravelry, and blogging. So, without further ado, here are some favorite moments from our Christmas Vacation (queue in music from the Chevy Chase movie here):

The ghost of Christmas Present
Little Clover insisted on getting a Santa hat a few days before Christmas. He wore it every moment he was awake. I was able to capture a small candid moment as he played with one of his toys Christmas morning.
From Family

A surprise gift
Italian asked for a Bosch chainsaw for Christmas. We've been needing a chainsaw for a few years and Italian finally felt like we would use one on a regular basis and it was time for us to own our own instead of constantly borrowing one. Imagine his surprise when he got one, from his little brother no less!
From Family

The jump
Because we have a temporary "No travel" on Christmas rule, Papa and Nana Clover came down to visit with us. Little Clover was absolutely thrilled, not just because his grandparents were coming to visit, but because they would see him ride a horse. He's been taking horseback riding lessons and has loved it. He's quite proud of himself as he should be and wants to show what he has accomplished. While Papa and Nana Clover were in town, he displayed his jumping ability.
From Horse

The Southern Boy Goes North
For Christmas, Xavier Guy got tickets to the Winter Classic, the now annual NHL outdoor game. This year, the game was played at Wrigley Field, which being a Cubs fan, was special enough for Italian's family. Because Xavier Guy got two tickets, Italian got the second one. We all piled into the car for an impromtu trip to Chicago. The guys went to the game and their aunt AK took Little Clover and I to the Lincoln Park Zoo in downtown Chicago.
From Chicago 2008

While at the zoo, Little Clover pointed excitedly while exclaiming, "Look, look!" AK, her daughter, and I couldn't identify the source of Little Clover's excitement. We finally had to ask him what he saw. He responded with a smile, "It's a frozen pond!" The sweet little Southern thing was thrilled with seeing ice!

Since we were up north, we couldn't pass up the opportunity for some outdoor ice skating. Not only was this Little Clover's first time to ice skate, but we had the chance to skate in the open air at Millennium Park. Little Clover loved it (and was pretty good, too).
From Chicago 2008

From Chicago 2008

From Chicago 2008

So, what is a trip to Chicago without a visit to one of the city's most famous gals? After spending some time on the ice, Italian, Xavier Guy, their cousin the Guru, Little Clover, and I all head over to the Field museum. Although the visit was short, we did see Sue in all her magnificence.
From Chicago 2008

We ended our trip with a huge family gathering at a local Chicago family favorite pizzeria, Aurelio's. What can I say? The company was warming and wonderful, and the food was just plain yum, the best pizza ever.
From Chicago 2008

Being away from work gave me ample time for knitting. I had so much time that I made some great progress on the Noro Sweater:
From WIPs

and I even finished a sock (more details to follow)
From WIPs