This morning I put Kira’s food and water bowls on the kitchen counter so she could eat her breakfast while I was fixing my lunch. We don’t get to spend a lot of time hanging out in the mornings – if I walk away even for a moment she panics and tries to fly to me – so I’ve learned to keep her close to me as I’m getting ready.

At some point I turned my back for a moment … and find her perched on my bowl of kale and wild rice, munching away and making happy bird noises.

Frankly, I’m just glad she left some for me.



Indulging in breakfast while waiting for the Apple Store to open

My poor 3 year-old BlackBerry Bold 9000 – it was my first smartphone and it served me well.  But all good things must come to an end … especially when its battery no longer holds a charge.

Knowing that I was due for a new device, I took a few months to research Android vs. iOS and finally decided to switch over to an iPhone 4S — but planned to wait until late November to allow the early adopters time to get in and get out of the way.  Unfortunately, my BlackBerry forced me to make other plans – its death rattle became too much to ignore and I really needed a phone that won’t brick itself at 80% battery life.  I checked with my local AT&T store and discovered they weren’t expecting any new iPhone shipments until mid-December.  I had a mild panic attack wondering how on earth I could live without communication for another month.  Then, after talking with my friend, Becca (who was able to walk into her Apple store and purchase a 4S), I decided to try purchasing directly from the Apple store.

With no expectations of anything but disappointment, I figured I’d call an Apple store and find out if it was possible to get a phone before Christmas.   I went to to find a phone number and found out that they were taking online reservations for the 4S.  They accept reservations after 9pm for pickup the next day — and much to my amazement they released some stock in the exact model I wanted.  I clicked the “reserve” button and received an e-mail confirmation that assured me I’d have a phone waiting for me on Saturday.  The process seemed far too simple, but OK.

A crowd gathers in front of the Apple store

Got up early on Saturday, took a long drive in beautiful weather with good music, and arrived at my destination early enough to indulge in a decadent breakfast of gluten-free scones and a rooibos chai steamer. Once I was stuffed full of scones and tea, I sat outside in the sunshine for a bit of knitting.  No idea why I was surprised to see people lining up in front of the store waiting for it to open … but I was.  Were they all waiting for phones?  About 40 people rushed in when the doors opened.  Once the crowd was inside, I wandered in and was greeted by a Blue Shirt – I told her I had an iPhone reservation and she ushered me to some ropes where I started a line (I was surprised there weren’t 39 people ahead of me).  Another Blue Shirt came to assist me; he pulled up my reservation and my carrier contract, had my device delivered to our table (by another Blue Shirt), activated and set up my phone, and handed me over to yet another Blue Shirt (with an impressive toolkit of organized cables) who transferred my contacts from my BlackBerry to my new iPhone.

Wow.  I have to say that I’m impressed.  Yes, I’ve heard about the customer service, but I haven’t purchased anything from an Apple store before so I was still pretty amazed by the seamless purchase and set-up process.  Mostly I’m relieved to have a reliable working phone again – along with some fun technology to keep me entertained.

Of course, my plans for the day went out the window as I spent the entire afternoon setting up the phone and trying to figure out what it can do.  I’ll pay for my dalliance tomorrow when I have to squeeze all my weekend chores into a single day — but I reckon I’ll survive.  In the meantime, I’m going to stay up a bit later to rip some new CDs into iTunes and sync my music to my (old) iPod and (new) iPhone.  Perhaps I can use the new music as an incentive to get my work done tomorrow.  Especially if the 4S will work with my speaker docks!

One of my favorite fall rituals involves retrieving grandma’s blanket from storage.  It usually makes its first appearance when overnight temperatures reach down into the 40s – an event which finally happened this week.   During the day it lays folded at the foot of the bed.  At night, its weight keeps me warm and comfortable.

Pieced from scraps of leftover fabric, it consists of individual squares stuffed with laddered nylons, folded with all four corners together at the center, hand-stitched closed and then tied through all layers with a length of embroidery thread.  The individual squares were hand-sewn together into a blanket that is roughly the size of a twin bed.  All told, it must weigh at least five pounds – nylons are substantially heavier than polyester batting – and I am careful about how I handle it so as not to stress its aging fabric and seams.

Grandma was an immigrant from Denmark and she married a full-blooded Bohemian.  They had two children during the Great Depression and raised their family together until grandpa died from (what we now know was) acute myelogenous leukemia when my mom was 15.  I don’t believe grandma ever held a job outside the home; she may have taken in sewing or odd jobs when she was able, but I think she lived on social security with the help of her kids and the support of her siblings and their families.  She lived in a small house in a neighborhood of small houses and her needs were few.

The one thing I know for sure about my grandma is that she liked to keep her hands busy – she embroidered pillow cases and dresser scarves, tatted edges on anything that wasn’t nailed down, and had a particular fondness for crochet.  She seemed to prefer working with cotton thread and tiny steel hooks; I inherited some of her tools and one of these days I will frame what must have been her favorite – a tiny steel hook with a dull patina and an unimaginable curve in the handle.  I can only imagine how long it took to coax the steel to conform to the contours of her hand and match the angle at which she preferred to work.

Grandma died when I was seven, on my mom’s 38th birthday.  I still remember the floorplan of her house, eating mixed-up (scrambled) eggs in the kitchen, hanging out with my great-uncles on the front porch, and the tulips and grape hyacinths growing in her front yard.  Now that I’m older, I would like to think we would have enjoyed each other’s company as adults.  I can imagine sitting down with her on a Saturday morning with a cup of tea and a crochet (or knitting or embroidery) project in hand.  I’d love to know if her creations were mainly from Workbasket magazine or if she designed her own patterns from years of experience.   Did she choose to work with cotton thread because it was inexpensive, because she loved the intricacy of detail work, or because she preferred it to the scratchy acrylic yarns of the time?  Was she disappointed that her daughter wasn’t interested in creative pursuits, and would she be surprised that the need to create is part of my nature?

During my teen years I wanted to recreate grandma’s blanket with my leftover fabric and used pantyhose – and for years I saved my worn-out hosiery for this project so I wouldn’t be at a loss when her original wore out.   But I finally came to the realization that I don’t want another one – I want my grandma’s blanket.   After months of resting in a closet, putting it back into active use triggers a little wave of memories.  Grandma has been gone a long time, yet my memories of her linger in the physical object that she created.  I can only hope to be so lucky.

Books + yarn = happy knitter

November arrived with a KnitPicks box and the promise of a cool front.  I can only hope that the rest of the month continue to go this well!

I keep planning Christmas projects even though I suspect I’m overly optimistic about the amount of knitting time I have and grossly underestimating the amount of time required for even simple projects.  Completing two whole projects in a row has given me a sense of empowerment, so I’m sticking with the plan to keep knitting and see just how much I can get done by my mail-out deadline.  Then it will be time to give in and start working on the projects for my niece (who sweetly asked if I would make her something for Christmas) and my nephews (my brother told me that one of the boys really wants a scarf). I’m taking this news as confirmation that the kids are OK with (or simply resigned to) the fact that I try to be creative about their gifts rather than buying crazy expensive things for them.

The aforementioned box of yarn is designated for specific projects, and my goal is to finish a set this weekend.  <insert slightly maniacal laughter here>  To further that goal, I have new DVDs and episodes of Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me on standby so I can entertain myself and (hopefully) sit still for an hour or two at a time and further my knitting progress.  I’ll plan to post an update on Sunday … then I can assess just how deep my delusions run.

Happy knitting!

There is absolutely no way I’m going to write a novel this month (it’s NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month).  Even if I a) had the energy to write 2,000 words a day and b) had an idea about which to write, I am absolutely convinced it would be the dullest novel ever written.  I fear that it would rank up there with the textbook for my Academic Library Administration class — it put me to sleep every single time I attempted to do the assigned reading — and no one should be to be subjected to voluminous dull prose.

That said, perhaps I can manage National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo).  I’m not dedicated enough to commit myself to posting a blog a day, but perhaps I can manage a blog a week.  Frankly, if I can write 2 blogs before Christmas I think I’ll tie a personal best. In any case, even if I write something boring and awful, each post will be relatively short.

Knitting is the best way to pass the time before a book signing!

I’ll start by admitting that I had a little bit of fun in October.  Perhaps fun is a bit strong – but at least I got out and about and wasn’t miserable.  I began with a brief “I deserve it!” delusion and decided to celebrate my promotion by scheduling a facial.  Two hours of pampering was wonderful – by the end of the day I convinced myself that I should indulge in a spa treatment every few months.  My blissfully relaxed state must have lasted a few days because I also decided to brave the crowds and attend a book signing later that weekend.  I arrived two hours early, met some very nice knitters, saw some friends, and didn’t break out in a cold sweat when the bookstore finally acknowledged the need to hand out wristbands.  The reading itself was delightful and I’m really glad I made the effort to attend.

October was a good month overall, and I’m a bit sad to see it go.  However, since November is usually my favorite month of the year I’m sure I’ll adjust to the idea of Christmas being just around the corner.  With any luck we’ll get a few more cold fronts to convince us it really is fall.

What’s in store for me this November?  Well, I think a little reality might be a good start.  After taking part in the ritual first-of-the-month-bill-paying-extravagana, I’ve reconciled myself to the fact that additional spa days are not in my future and splurging on an Amazon order wasn’t necessarily in my best interest.  It’s just as well – an empty checkbook means sitting at home – and I need to sit home for at least the next three weeks as there is much Christmas knitting to be done.  On that note, I shall set aside the keyboard and pick up the needles….