Saturday, July 14, 2012

It's been a long time since I last posted, but wanted to start posting again.

Tim and I just got back from the Worcester Food Truck Festival at Elm Park. They actually closed down Park Avenue (a main thoroughfare through Worcester) for this event, and detoured traffic around the park.

We came with 20 tickets, and bought 10 more, and used all 30 of them.  Each truck had several items, and each item was posted with how many tickets you needed to purchase.   The trucks were from all around New England, and there was a lot of variety!  Seafood, bar-b-cue, Thai food, gourmet grilled cheese, ice cream, cookies, etc.  The trucks vary from location to location, based on who is available for each event.  They have many events in the New England area throughout the summer time.

For next year (and we'll DEFINITELY be going back next year), we'll wait and pay with cash on site, as I had a small service fee because I ordered things in advance online.  Will just wait until the show and pay cash on site.  Our 30 tickets cost about $40.

We arrived shortly after the event started, shortly after 11am.  There were lots of people, but things were not too crowded except around the last two trucks that arrived (they were late, and due to inspections and paperwork, didn't get up and running until around noon or so).

We brought our chairs, a small folding table (camp sized table), and a cooler with empty Tupperware in it (along with our own water).  Tim and I each got and tried several things, but we didn't eat all of any of them (except one half hot dog).  We each had a couple of bites of each item, then put the rest into our Tupperware, so we could continue to sample lots of different things.  Plus we end up with leftovers for lunches/dinners for the next week!  Neither he or I can eat much at one time, so this was a great way for us to sample lots of different things, not overeat, and again, have leftovers for the week!

What did we eat? 

I got a nice full sized lobster roll (most expensive item we got at 8 tickets), Tim got a pastrami sandwich (5 tickets) and a cup of clam chowder (3 tickets), then we shared a beef brisket sandwich (5 tickets, very good), a pulled pork taco (4 tickets, pretty good), and then we got 1/2 a hot dog (3 tickets?  We finished this item).  After buying food, we had two tickets left, and got 3 apple cider donut holes (hot and fresh, and DELICIOUS!).

I really recommend attending this festival if you have one in your area.  It was great to sit in our chairs in the shade, eat lots of different types of food, watch all of the families (lots of kids and dogs attended), and just enjoy the afternoon!

There are more of these events coming up in Brighton, Falmouth, Lowell, East Boston, Hingham, Framingham and Newport.  I highly recommend these events, and suggest that you try to attend on in your area!! 

Monday, November 22, 2010

Knitters Review Retreat - The Review

Here is Clara Parkes official writeup of the Knitters Review Retreat 2010.

Check out the group picture - you can actually see me in it, if you zoom in close.

I'm in a blue sweater, with a white shirt underneath, in the 3rd row from the front, just to the left of the "W" in the Williams Inn (find the "W" in the Williams Inn sign, follow it straight down to the 3rd row from the front).

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Surgery Update

Just an FYI for everyone...

My surgery on Tues Nov. 16 went very well - longer than originally expected, but still very smoothly. Nothing unusual was found, and surgery was a success.

I woke up in the recovery room around 12:30pm, then waited until close to 6:30 pm for a room to be found for me. Tim arrived on the floor where my room was before I did, but the area had a small waiting room so he could wait, then he saw them wheeling me into my room.

I have to say, I didn't have a lot of patience with my room mate - she was not the room mate from hell (which I've had before), but she was elderly, and seemed to need constant attention from pretty much everyone. Every time I buzzed for my nurse for something, she had to talk to the nurse too, even though it wasn't her nurse.

Seems strange to me that they would not assign the same nurse to both patients in the room, but that seems to be the way it works.

Every time I answered my phone, she would call out and start to talk to me - I finally had to say "I'm On the Phone" to get her to shut up.

Also she gave out my hospital phone number to all her relatives, instead of her phone number - so my first night in the hospital, I had to talk to at least 4 of her relatives, when I just wanted to sleep. I finally started telling them "No, xxx is not here", and hanging up.

Wed during the day was spent trying to get rid of the itchiness I get from morphine, and also it now seems, Dilodid (spelling??). I was feeling really groggy most of the day, but started to get better towards the evening.

Tim came by Wed night to visit again, and ran into my surgeon, Dr. Perugini. So we all three had a chance to chat (BRIEFLY).

I also spent the morning out of bed in a chair, and took several walks around the ward, to try to clear out the anesthesia and grogginess.

Thurs AM, I was not feeling well at all, not sure why. I decided at that time I may not be going home this day, because I knew I couldn't go home feeling that badly. But things got better and better during the day, I started walking around the ward on my own, with my strength coming back all the time. By the time that Tim came by, I was feeling pretty good and ready to go home.

So we came home Thurs night.

Friday and Sat were spent mostly trying to get in all the liquids I'm supposed to - but while my mouth is hungry (desperate for some flavor), my stomach is just not that hungry. Then I start watching something on TV, lost track of the time, and forget to have a shake.

Starting tomorrow, I'll keep track of things on a spreadsheet I'm putting together, a sort of check list for the day, to make sure I get in everything I"m supposed to, at pretty close to the time I should.

Good news/Bad news - while my diabetes is much better, I am still taking insulin. When I left the hospital, they told me to stop my long term insulin (I was taking approx. 140 units a day, just to maintain a stable blood sugar, then I supplemented with short term insulin to take care of any food that I would eat).

So no more long term insulin, and I"m using a sliding scale for short term during the day. Right now, I'm taking between 5 and 10 units of short term insulin a day, down from 30-60+ units of short term every day, on top of the ~140 units of long term insulin I was taking.

So diabetes is MUCH better, good news. But is not as better as I'd hope for (bad news).

More good news - diabetes will likely continue to get better all the time, and I do hope to get off of all insulin eventually.

Today, Sunday, I took a long walk for me - out of the house, down the entire length of the driveway (maybe 80 yards each way). Then sat outside for a while, enjoying the sunshine (out of the wind, it was not too cold to sit).

I've also been doing a lot of knitting - mostly on my New Beginnings project from the Knitters Review Retreat. Here is my project - Cabled Cardigan out of the Runway Knits book.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Knitters Review Retreat

Well, I'm home from the wonderful Knitters Review Retreat. It was WONDERFUL this year too, even better because my friend, Judy, came with me.

I met a lot of great new friends, and hope to hear from them in the next few weeks.
Let me see if I can get some pictures posted....

This is our lovely hostess, Clara - she organizes this retreat, with help of course!

She's the author of several books on yarn & wool, and is just an all around wonderful person. She's very warm, and genuinely excited and happy to welcome both returning attendees and new people each year.

There were 120 attendees this year, 10 more than last year. And while I enjoyed the entire retreat, I always enjoy the Thursday Extension best - about half the number of people, it's so much easier to talk to people, get to know them better, before the rest of the attendees arrive, and it's just much more crowded and busy. Still loads of fun, of course, but I really enjoy the more intimate setting of smaller groups of people on Thursday.

I didn't take very many pictures, but here's some amusing pictures of Judy with her stash (acquired both at Webs and at the Knitters Review Retreat, some free from the Stash Lounge, some purchased from the vendors):

more stash acquisition! And YES - she had to do a lot of packing & rearranging before she could sleep in the bed that night!! Luckily, we managed to get everything back into the car, without it exploding!

Judy also brought her spinning wheel, and did some spinning during parts of the Retreat.

The last day of the Retreat, we all gather together, and "marry" our New Beginnings project - this is a project that we bring that has to be for ourselves (it's very common for most knitters to knit only for other people, and rarely for themselves). Clara leads us in a commitment ceremony to our New Beginnings project (she usually posts the "vows" on her website later, so I'll have to link to them once she has them posted). Then we all cast on the projects together, then walk around and have others that we've met and enjoyed cast on some stitches on the project - it lets you have a wonderful memory built into the project - with many different people's cast ons on your project.

This year, I've started the Cabled Cardigan from Runway Knits. The yarn is Cascade Venetzia, in the lavender colorway, the color of the yarn at the top of the page.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Stitches Day 2

Day 2 for me for Stitches saw me sleeping in a bit later than usual. My friend Judy arrived at my house around 8:30, and she drove us there. We got to Stitches around 9:30, and got our stuff, and waited for the shopping/vendor floor to open.

Our plan was shopping in the morning, then we each had a class in the afternoon.

I did a little bit of shopping, I did buy some yarn from Miss Babs – a great independent dyer who had a major crisis this summer – she lost her entire inventory due to smoke damage from a dye pot accidentally left on over night. So both Judy and I went to support her, and we both bought some yarn

I also ended up purchasing a shawl kit (pattern, yarn & beads all together in a nice project bag), and a pair of Signature needles to try. Signatures are the Rolls Royce of needles, and I wanted a pair to try.

After I was done shopping, and I’d gotten a bite to eat, I found a quiet spot at the convention center, and cast on my new shawl kit using my new Signature needles.

My afternoon class was Chart Writing with JC Briar – what a great class! She’s a technical editor, and it absolutely shows in her teaching and hand outs. There were also exercises in the hand outs that we did as we went through class. She’s so organized, and really knows her stuff and how to teach it – I will be very happy to take another class with JC!

After our classes were over, Judy and I both agreed that we didn’t need to do any more shopping, so we got back on the road and she dropped me at home.

It was a great day, and I’m glad Judy had a chance to share it with me!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Stitches East 2010, Day 1 (for me)

Just home from day 1 of Stitches East at the Hartford CT Convention Center. A BIG knitting & crochet show. It was a mixed bag today for me, some good, some bad, some in between, but all in all, I had a good time, and learned some new things.

I got on the road to Hartford around 7:25am, to allow plenty of time to get there before my 9:30am class. After I arrived and parked, I stood in a short line to get my registration materials, and read the class room assignments on the scrolling board. I saw my morning class go by, and noticed the room number.

BUT WAIT! Why does my class say it starts at 8:30am?? What time is it now! Oh no, 8:25am!! This was totally my fault, for some reason I just thought the class started at 9:30, completely ignoring the 8:30 start time printing on EVERYTHING I'd gotten from the organizers - some kind of total brain short-circuit!

BUT WAIT AGAIN!! There's a sign that says if you have Melissa Leapman's Friday classes, to see the registration person - oh crap, I'm already late instead of being an hour early like I planned, and now I need to figure out what the deal is with my afternoon class!!

I got my registration materials, but was directed to a different line to talk about Melissa's class. Though they did tell me that Melissa had to cancel her Friday classes, because her mother passed away suddenly. I feel badly for Melissa, I wish her all the best, and hope she is OK!!

So Melissa not being able to come for class meant I had the entire afternoon for shopping, and they let me into a Market Session (1 hour class) that I had really wanted to take, but couldn't because of the afternoon class I'd signed up for - so things came out pretty even for me.

I got to my first class (at 8:35 for an 8:30 class, so not too late), I was the last one to arrive. This class was Double Knitting with Marianne Isager. She makes and designs some very nice things, and I was eager to learn Double knitting.

On my way to the classroom there's a long and very wide corridor that's windows on 1 side, classrooms on the other side. And the huge windows overlooked the river in Hartford. It was just beautiful, the tree were all yellow (and brown), the river flowing - it felt very peaceful just to walk to class. VERY NICE!!

However, I did have a problem with this Marianne Isager class even before I got to Stitches. A month or so ago, I received the materials list and home work for my classes, and this class said to bring your basic generic knitting supplies, but didn't say to bring any yarn. Nor was there any materials fee for this class. What?? Are we going to be knitting in the class, and if so, how, without any yarn??

So I emailed the Stitches organizers about this, and asked if we needed to bring yarn, and if so, what kind/size/fiber content? Knitting teachers are usually VERY specific about what kind of yarn you bring to any class. They contacted the teacher, and forwarded me her response, which was essentially "Students don't need to bring any yarn, I will be bringing my fingering weight yarn from my yarn line, if they want, students can bring something similar." These are not her exact words, but the gist of what she said.

I thought this was strange, there's no materials fee for this class, and I couldn't imagine anyone giving away yarn or other materials for free. I was a bit suspicious about this, especially as this teacher's yarn line is VERY expensive. So I brought 2 colors of sock yarn with me to the class.

Turns out I was right to be suspicious. Yes, the teacher brought her yarn with her - but it was NOT free with the class, even though there was no materials fee. You had to PURCHASE her VERY expensive yarn if you didn't bring any - and you had to get 2 skeins, since the class needed you to have 2 different colors!

I consider this VERY SLEAZY business practices - and I wrote those exact words on the evaluation form that I turned in at the registration desk (and did not leave it with the instructor for her to turn in). I specifically asked about this, and was assured that I did NOT need to bring yarn because the teacher was bringing yarn - nothing was said about another $40 of her yarn on top of paying for the class!

This is strike 1 for this teacher for me.

Once this class actually got started, the teacher passed out hand-outs. They went around the room, and since I was the last person to arrive to the class, I was the last to get a hand-out. BUT WAIT! They ran OUT of hand outs with the person before me. There were no more hand-outs, and the teach had absolutely no idea what to do. She couldn't get me a hand-out, they were printed by the event organizers, she said - I can't give you one, I don't have any more! So I was basically out of luck - though the wonderful woman next to me offered to share her handout so I could still take the class.

This is strike 2.

Then she started "teaching" this class on double knitting - but she was simply talking to some of the people at the other end of the room, she didn't say what or how she was going to organize/structure the class, it looked like she was just visiting/talking with a few people on the other side of the room. People on my side of the room were looking around, wondering what to do. Finally our side asked the teacher What are we supposed to be doing, just reading the hand-out and teaching ourselves? So THEN Marianne said to the whole room what to do, how to start, and then to wait for her to come around and show us what to do.

We did as instructed, no problems, then she came to our side to teach. Unfortunately, her "teaching" was just holding up her hands and doing the technique. While Marianne's conversational English is great, when it comes to talking about what she is doing in knitting, she definitely struggles with English. She is easy to understand, it's not an accent problem, but she literally doesn't seem to have the English words for knitting terminology, and is just not able to explain what to do (strange, since she's supposed to be a knitting teacher). When you question her about something, she just goes back to holding up her hands, saying,"Do it this way," and demonstrating.

So we were reduced to reading through the handout to try to understand what she was doing. Remember, I don't have a hand-out, and have to share with my neighbor. As we read through it, Marianne is tell us to do something, but it's the EXACT opposite of what the hand-out says to do! When questioned, she said something like, "Yes, but do it this way instead." WTF!?!?!?!

Strike 3.

Needless to say, I will NOT be taking another class with this instructor, nor will I support her in any way by purchasing yarn or patterns from her - bad teaching and sleazy business practices - I can get a lot better elsewhere!!

So that was most of the BAD part of my day, now on to the good!!

There was a lot of good stuff today, first of which was my neighbor in my class - she shared her hand-out, admired my shawl, ADORED my needle organization system, and in general made a bad class fun. We talked about a lot of things, and in general laughed more than not. i gave her one of my Ravelry business cards with my name, Ravetar and email address, and she's going to email me, plus scan and send me her copy of the class hand-out so I have something from the class to remind me. We had great fun with each other!

And I DID learn how to do double knitting in the class, I have an approx. 4" X 4" sample that I knit.

More good things - SHOPPING!!

Wow, the vendor floor was huge - 11 aisles of vendors, though not all aisles were completely full. I started in aisle 100 and was working to aisle 1100 when after about 2 hours, I totally ran out of steam! So tomorrow when I go back with Judy, I'll be starting in aisle 700 (I'm about half done) while I suspect Judy will be starting at 100.

I had a lot of time available between my morning class (ended at 11:30) and the Market Session that I booked into (starts at 3:30), so I checked out the food offerings at the Covention Center (not great), and walked next door to the Marriott to eat in their restaurant. I was able to be seated right away, because a lovely woman offered to share her 2-top, because she was also by herself. She was also attending Stitches, and we had a nice talk while we ordered and ate.

The restaurant food was good, but service, while friendly, was not great - while things started good, with refilling of water glasses and such, but it took quite a long time for the food to arrive. My table mate was anxious, because she had a class in the afternoon - it didn't actually bother me, because I knew I had no firm commitments until 3:30 (the Beaded Fobs class). Food did come and it was not how I'd ordered it (plain cheeseburger with American cheese). I received a hamburger patty (no bun) with cheddar cheese instead. Waitress took it back to get what I'd ordered, and that's when I think she was getting embarrassed by the mistake, and perhaps started avoiding our table because of it? And my 2nd order of food took at least as long as the first (guess they were cooking another burger?). And I think this also embarrassed the waitress, maybe she was thinking we'd blame her? I don't know.

But we didn't see her again until she brought my food - water glasses not filled, and we had to wave her down to get the check (my table mate needed to get to her class). Still no water refills (my glass was still empty). So I did still leave a tip, but not my usual generous 20% or better - I left 10% instead. Not a huge issue, but a minor annoyance.

Back to Stitches - I took my time at the vendors, went into each booth, took a really good look around at things, chatted with other knitters, vendors, etc. Admired other's knitting projects, and had mine admired in return. But after about 2 hours of this, I was TIRED and wanted to sit down for a while.

Outside of the vendor floor, is the multi-storied lobby. It has several groupings of COMFORTABLE chairs and tables, good light. I found a comfy chair, put my feet up, pulled out the double knitting swatch from the morning and knit until it was time to go back in for my Beaded Knitted fobs class.

This class was just OK - expensive for what it was, and I could have easily learned this on my own. But the beads/materials were pretty, I had not been able to figure out how it was done on my own (I had looked online too). I finished mine up in class and walked away with a pretty thing. And also talked with several women in class, in general had a very nice time!

Final annoyance for the day was the parking situation. Nice parking garage, I easily found parking, but it was EXPENSIVE! I'd expected to have to pay $19 for the day. But on my way back to my car (toting my VERY large and heavy bag), I noticed some women that had parking coupons. I asked about them and was told that they got them at the Check-In/Registration desk when they got their materials. They give them to everyone, I was told.

Well, I didn't get them, of course, I did double check everything (4 pieces of paper and my name badge). So I went back to the Registration desk, and got the coupons. Made parking only $11 for the day, still a lot, but more reasonable than $19.

Again, a minor annoyance, but having it happen at the end of the day tends to color things a bit. But I'm putting it behind me, and trying to find only the good now. The parking coupons I received, there was 1 for each day - so I know I don't have to worry about it tomorrow.

Judy is coming by tomorrow morning at 8:30 or so - we don't have a morning class, but we're going up early for the shopping. It's Judy's only chance to shop, before her afternoon class, and I still need to finish the rest of the vendor aisles. So I can sleep in a bit tomorrow morning, and have a leisurely breakfast if I want.

Need to make sure I bring an actual knitting project tomorrow - I didn't have anything today other than the double knitting sampler I was doing. That's fine, but if I have down time, I'd like to be knitting on a real project. Just need to decide what to bring with me.

Oh well, that's all for now - have to eat some dinner, then fall asleep watching TV!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Upcoming Plans

Lots of stuff happening in the next month!!!!

This weekend - Worcester Home Show - we're looking for someone to do an energy audit for us, plus would like to find a solar contractor, to see how feasible solar energy is for us.

Next weekend - I have Friday/Monday of NEXT week off, BIG knitting show in Hartford, Stitches East. I have classes on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, then Monday off to recover before going back to work.

Class Schedule:

Friday, Oct. 29
Double Knitting w/Marianne Isager
Colorful Cables with Melissa Leapman

Saturday, Oct. 30
Chart Writing - JC Briar

Sunday, Oct. 31
Have a Ball, Betsy Hershberg
Superb Seams, Margaret Fisher

Should be LOADS of fun!

Then, a weekend off, followed by the Knitters Review Retreat!!! I went for the first time last year, and had a WONDERFUL time! This year, my friend Judy is coming with me, and we're both really excited. The Retreat is Thursday, Nov 11 through Sunday Nov. 14th. Lots of fun, good food, knitting, and friendship!

Following that, I have Monday Nov. 15th off as a vacation day, then I have Gastric Bypass surgery on Tuesday Nov. 16th. Should be in the hospital through Friday, then home through New Years, recovering, back to work after Jan 1st.

So, LOTS of stuff going on!!