My blog about knitting, teaching, and being a mother to two energetic young boys.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Everybody's Dog

Good-Bye Sweet Girl....

"Joulee" July 1996 - March 13, 2010

It'd be hard to find a good friend of our family who isn't in some way connected with our dog, Joulee (named after the derived unit of energy, the Joule - in honor of her very energetic nature & our nerdiness). After almost 14 years with us, we bid her a final farewell yesterday. Friends called & stopped by not only to check on my knee recovery, but to give her a final pet,hug, & to say good-bye. So many memories we have of her - she was everyone's dog. We were just the lucky ones who got to live with and care for her.

She came to us as an unexpected birthday gift for my husband. Turns out the brother of hubby's best friend was swayed by a pretty girl outside a grocery store to take a cute little puppy home. His mother said 'no' & decided to give it to Wade for his birthday. I can still remember bringing her home & trying to get her to sleep in the cat's crate in the garage. Yeah - that didn't go so well. After several minutes of howling, she broke me & I let her come inside - she worked her way into our hearts so quickly; it's hard to believe she's gone.

I should take comfort in knowing she had a very long, happy life & was able to pass into the afterlife so peacefully. The countless memories of adventures, trips to San Diego before kids, the miles hiking & ski-joring, her ability to roll-over, help erase the chewed shoes, furniture, paper, porcupine quills, & forays into stinky stuff. She was a great dog.

Good-bye Sweet Girl. We miss you....

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Stash Busting Bag

I've been promising to show another FO, but have been waylaid by other life events such as tons of snow & knee repair. The delay in the post in no way reflects my feelings of this bag. I *love* this finished project.

Presenting: The "Felted Slip Stitch Tote" designed by PDXKnitterati, Michele Bernstein.

I've had this pattern for quite a while meaning to use it to lighten the stash load. Finally, after having 100% wool spilling out of containers & finishing a couple of French Press Slippers, I decided to finally cast on.

I wish I hadn't waited for so long as this bag is so great! It's the perfect size for holding knitting projects such as my Olympic sweater. It's a great way to use left over wool & the color combinations are endless!

Yarns I used: Lamb's Pride Worsted (Purple & Pink) and Paton's Classic Wool (Blue & Light Purple) All felted very well = I used Michele's suggestion & placed a box within a plastic shopping bag inside the tote to help with drying; great idea! I found the game "Blockus" is just the right size.

Needle: US 10.5

Mods: Instead of using DPNs to knit the straps, I made a 7 stitch i-cord. Worked out rather well! Otherwise - this pattern is just perfect & well written.

I'm planning to teach a beginning knitting class to my high school students in April. I asked Michele about using this pattern & she thought it'd be great - felting is so forgiving for new knitters, and I think they should be able to finish this in a relatively short period of time. So - expect another bag within the coming month; I'm looking forward to using up more stash, because after all, 2010 is all about stash reduction here at Chez Arcticknitter.

Happy Day! Ciao~

Friday, March 12, 2010

Here I Go Again....

Getting old & playing soccer turns out to be a deadly combination. About a month ago, while playing 5 v 5 soccer in the O35 (over 35) league, I twisted my knee. Now I've had several knee injuries (read: 3 ACL repairs over the last 19 years), so I'm no stranger to the warning signs that something just "isn't right". Overall soccer is a sport prone to knee injuries - especially in women. There's a great book called "Warrior Girls" which discusses this 'epidemic' and what coaches and parents can do about it (read: diversity in sport, strength training!). Since my last ACL repair 5 years ago, I've tried to "be good" & keep my legs strong, do other low impact sports such as hockey & cross country skiing while limiting the amount of serious soccer playing. I only returned to league play ("old people league") just last year & was feeling great!

So - bad luck struck & during a routine defensive play, when I went to clear the ball, I planted my left foot on an opposing player's foot & ended up tearing the medial meniscus of my knee. The injury is known throughout the orthopedic set as a "bucket handle tear" because the meniscus folds over & looks like the handle of a bucket. Not only is it painful, but the meniscus gets trapped in the knee joint & prohibits the leg from fully extending. After a couple of weeks on crutches the pain eventually subsided, but I still walked with a noticeable limp. Skiing, ice skating, & general outdoor play were put on hold.

An MRI confirmed my amateur diagnosis & my doctor's suspicion, so the plan was to check out the damage through arthroscopy. There were two possible outcomes dependent on where the tear was located within the medial meniscus: 1) Totally trim out the damaged area or 2) Repair the tear with sutures. Trimming meant a shorter recovery, but more wear & tear of the surface cartilage within the knee. Repairing was dependent if there was a suitable blood supply in the region of damage & requires a much longer recovery period.

Turns out the latter was my case. The good news is that I don't lose any of the meniscus, so I may stave off arthritis of my knee for a longer period of time. The not-so-good news is that I'm confined to crutches and a brace with limited weight bearing for several weeks. I should be up for "light hiking" by June. Coaching JV soccer this season will be impossible, which is kind of a bummer, but also a load lifted from my shoulders during the very busy end of the school year. I guess this also frees up my time for more knitting!!

Speaking of knitting... I hope everyone's experience with hospital staff has been as positive as mine have been. My surgery yesterday was no exception - my prep nurse, surgical nurse, anesthesiologist & of course my orthopedic surgeon were fantastic. They made me as comfortable as possible & were so kind. The best part came in the recovery room. While I'm slowly waking up I could hear the recovery nurse talk about knitting. Well - that put my radar on full alert & helped me wake up more quickly. I told her that I too was a knitter & asked if she was on ravelry. Of course she was! So - we spent the last bit of my wake-up period surfing each other's ravelry profiles in the recovery room! Pretty fun! It was a slow day for the day surgery team (about 1/2 as many cases as usual) so there was no neglect to other non-knitters.

Well - off to elevate & ice. I hope to have some knitting photos to share soon.


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

March Bites Back

Yes - I love March. It's bright, close to summer, yadda, yadda, yadda. However - I'm no dummy. I know it doesn't mean winter is totally over. It doesn't mean the end of snow. Yes - the 's' word. Snow: pretty, fluffy, bright. Snow: Silent, sneaky....

Snow doesn't let you know it's falling during the night. Nope - all of that frozen precipitation falls silently to the ground - I think it appreciates the surprise factor. Now - I do like surprises. But not on mornings when I have to be at soccer practice by 8am. You know it's bad when you wake up and it seems like everyone in the neighborhood is snow-blowing their driveways before 6:45am. Opening the garage door to a wall of snow = Not a good sign.

Fortunately we have a steep driveway, so getting down to the street was no biggie - gravity works. Of course - this incline totally works against you when you come home. Normally our good ole Subaru can handle anything - even without studded tires; it's that good of a vehicle. But not today. Upon returning home from soccer practice, after several failed attempts - I had to "park" (if that's what you call it) the Sube at the bottom of our driveway. Sorry kids - no time for lunch yet - we get to dig out the driveway & the car. We were in for a long afternoon.

Have I mentioned our driveway is steep? And rather long? Oh - and that hubby is in sunny San Diego right now? And perhaps that I'm having my torn meniscus repaired on Thursday, so my left knee is not at 100%? No worries - I just sucked it up, put on the snow bibs & boots & went to work. Of course, while I was digging at the top of the driveway, our neighbor across the street was merrily snow-blowing her nice, flat driveway. I'd be lying if I said I didn't have a few choice thoughts for her, or that running to Sears or Home Depot & laying down the cash for a snow-blower of our own didn't enter my mind.

Then, the heavens opened & the choirs of angels began to sing. As I was hauling off the snow - up the street comes my new knight in shining armor - or at least my knight in Carharts with his trusty heavy-duty snow blower. One of our neighbors noticed the 3 of us (shoveling is a family affair around here) shoveling & digging out the car. He asked if I "minded" if he took a few passes at our driveway with his machine. Did I mind? Heck no! I'd say he spent about 15 - 20 minutes clearing the snow & helping me get the car up the driveway & safely into the garage. What a nice, neighborly thing to do. I'd like to think that if we ever invest in a snow-blower of our own, that we'd do the same for others.

Here are the thank-you cookies. Yes - March is nice. But having kind, thoughtful neighbors is even nicer. Well - given the conditions of the roads, I guess errands will have to wait; seems like a good excuse to get some more spring break knitting done.


Monday, March 8, 2010

I Love March!

Hands down, I think March is my favorite month of the year. It doesn't have Christmas, nor Thanksgiving (my favorite holiday), and sometimes not Easter (favorite candy) - but for me, March is my favorite month because it heralds the end of winter & return of the light. Cliche perhaps, but for us Alaskans a welcome respite. I know the official 'return of the light' occurs after winter solstice, but for us, the gain of 5 seconds of daylight is merely a tease.

I love it primarily for this:

Do you see that big, bright thing up in the sky? High in the sky? I've heard rumor that such a celestial body exists. I'm pretty sure it's the sun - that "Great Big Ball of Super Heated Gas" (my apologies to "They Might Be Giants"); I might need to confer with NASA.

See those mountains below the sun? They shield the sun from us here on the 'eastside' for most of the winter. When the sun does "rise" it normally does so well south of where we live - essentially to the very right of the photo & then it doesn't get very high, nor very bright.

Raja concurs with Holly Jo's cat - the sunshine is very much appreciated.

During March the sun is high enough & at the appropriate angle that the rays actually feel warm. The sun rises at a decent time that it's light when I take the kids to school. The sun stays up long enough so that I can come home before it's dark. Spring break for our school district occurs during March. The kids can go outside & play for extended periods of time - often without having to wear tons of layers in March. My oldest son was born in March. Yes - for many reasons March is a great month. The fact that summer vacation is here in 8 weeks is an added bonus.

I just had to include this photo. This is a "giant street snow blower" (for lack of the official name) that came to clear our street yesterday. The kids thought it was so cool (as they observed from a very sizable distance) as it created nice tall berms of snow for them to play on. The down side was that it also filled in their dug out snow fort with tons of snow. Oh well - we adults certainly appreciate the clear streets.

Ugg - just checked the calendar & see that "Daylight Savings Time" is this weekend. Bah - what party poopers! DST is just absurd up here!

Okay - off to play Blockus with the kids & get back to knitting on my Spring Break project.


Sunday, March 7, 2010

North to Nome!

And they're off! Saturday, March 6, 2010 marked the beginning of the 38th Iditarod. As many of you know, the Iditarod is the annual sled dog race to commemorate the Serum run to Nome.

A little background history: The original Iditarod trail begins in Seward, AK. However, due to several geological and financial challenges, the ceremonial race start is in Anchorage, AK and the official race start (which begins today, March 7) is in Willow, AK. When the official start was in Anchorage, mushers would race through town and out to Eagle River, AK. Upon arriving in Eagle River, the mushers would pack up their dogs & sleds & drive northwest to Wasilla, AK to continue on to Nome. I can remember going out to watch the teams leave Wasilla when I lived there during high school. Several years ago, the Iditarod Race Committee decided to make the start in Anchorage a ceremonial start. This was nice as it allows the mushers a more relaxed start & gives spectators a chance to interact with the mushers. For example, one neighborhood in town passes out muffins to the mushers as they pass on by. In fact, one of the mushers, Canadian Karen Ramstead actually stopped to sing "O, Canada" with the spectators. When Martin Buser, a perennial favorite and local mushing celebrity, passed us - he gave my oldest son a "high five". Never during an official start would mushers take the time to do that. The ceremonial start through Anchorage provides the spectators a chance to see the dog teams up close and allows the mushers to get one more good nights' rest before heading out on the trail. A win-win for everyone!

Here's Karen & her beautiful team of Siberian huskies. These are CKC registered dogs - not the typical choice of dog for the Iditarod, but boy do they make a striking team!

Another Alaskan celeb = DeeDee Jonrowe comes down the trail. What a tough lady! Like me, she was a military brat & came to Alaska when her father was stationed here. If I remember correctly, she also lived in Okinawa, Japan during Jr. High - just like I did! She is a breast cancer survivor & has come oh-so-close to winning the Iditarod with a 2nd place finish back in 1998. She is quite the inspiration to all women. Her mother is now battling cancer while DeeDee is on the trail - please send good wishes to both of these strong women!

The Anchorage Daily News prints an insert with photos and bios of all mushers. Here the boys are trying to figure out who's coming down the trail next.

Fun Times! For more great photos - including one of Karen Ramstead singing with the crowd, visit AK Knitting Diva's Blog!

For those of you who are so inclined, there is a group on Ravelry hosting an "Iknitarod" - knit a project while the mushers are on the trail, before the last musher arrives in Nome. I think I'll be a casual participant - I don't know if my wrists are quite up to the challenge after the crazy knitting during the Olympics.

Happy Trails! Ciao~

Monday, March 1, 2010

Mandatory Rest

Ahhh - I can tell I've been knitting like a fiend for the past 17 days - little twinges in my wrist. Guess that's a good enough excuse to take a wee break from knitting & perhaps catch up on the mountain of clean laundry that needs sorting, folding, & put-awaying. For that reason alone, I think I'll have to bow out of the group of Ravelers undertaking "Iknitarod" (isn't that clever?!)

Here is the long awaited prize: My Gold Medal, courtesy of Mr. Franklin Habit by request of the Yarn Harlot:

Would it be too much to print it out, paste it on a wooden circle & wear it about my neck for the next week or two? Okay - perhaps just a tad overkill. I'm pleased as punch & so proud to have met the challenge.

Students, friends, and co-workers were equally impressed with my sweater. My orthopedic surgeon's (more on that later....) assistant wanted to take a photo so she could show her daughter. Instead, I suggested she join Ravelry & check out the pattern. I'm such an enabler...

Thank you to all who've left such nice comments regarding the sweater - I'm glad it's not just me who thinks it's pretty neat. I'd reply if I could, but for some reason the email reply isn't working out. Any suggestions how to fix that? Is it a settings thing?

Anyhow - back to the laundry. Another pre-olympic knitting FO to show soon.