Monday, September 12, 2011

9/11 Remembrance and an Odd Momento

Has it been ten years? It seems so much more recent. The world has changed and we've become accustomed to the unthinkable.

I remember well the horror of that day and watching it unfurl from almost the first minute. My complete disbelief when the first tower fell and the awful realization of how many people were probably still in the building. A Canadian friend was visiting and I don't think we could tear ourselves away from the news for at least 24 hours. Such a sad day.

You see, I knew those towers very well. I was included in several meetings with the architects, discussing the incredible engineering which would allow almost open floorplans. I first saw the site while they were constructing the "bathtub". Then those towers began to rise. Wearing a hard hat, I visited the towers while they were under construction. I talked to the steel workers who were so proud that they were constructing something far beyond any ordinary skyscraper strength or actual requirements. The steel would withstand anything, or so they thought! I rode up to the 112th floor on a freight elevator that had a gap of a couple of feet from the floor level. You had to swing the elevator and jump off when it neared the floor. Wow! And when I say 112th floor, it was the top of the building plus another level, then the elevator finished on top of that platform and you walked down some steps. There were no guardrails on the building. You were above the clouds and any airplanes. You were even above the wind. It was the tallest building in the world then.

Now here is a momento. My permanent pass to the observation deck on top of one of the towers. For myself and my "guests". I lived in Paris when it was issued. And it is signed by the president of the World Trade Centers, Guy Tozzoli, who added the "permanent" comment. An odd bit of history.

And this was my 4th of July birthday celebrated at Windows on the World with several International World Trade Centers characters, note the ties. Better days.

There was a cocktail party held on the 110th floor for some reason while the building was under construction. Although they had cleared a space, it was still a worksite. It was night with lights rigged. The floor to ceiling windows looked as though they had metal covering them, which I found strange. I walked over and put my hand up to touch the "metal" and my hand went straight through. It was the lights against the clouds outside and not metal at all. You could put a hand on each side of the opening and lean out over the city. It was a long way down. I was also there for the gala opening dinner when Windows on the World absolutely sparkled with tuxedos and ball gowns. Many, many memories tied up with those towers.

Andrea Booher photo for FEMA, note sphere in background
One odd thing I've noticed with all the memorial programs. They refer to a globe that was in the plaza as though it was just a ball of metal. In fact it was a most beautiful sculpture by Fritz Koenig, a huge orb representing world peace through world trade. It was still visible in some of the aftermath photos. I wonder where it finally ended up?*

The memorial garden looks beautiful. I love the footprint fountains and the trees. I hope it will be a peaceful place.

The Sphere is 25 feet high and cast in 52 bronze segments. Koenig considered it his "biggest child". It was put together in Bremen, Germany and shipped as a whole to Lower Manhattan.[1] The artwork was meant to symbolize world peace through world trade, and was placed at the center of a ring of fountains and other decorative touches designed by trade center architect Minoru Yamasaki to mimic the Grand Mosque of Mecca, Masjid al-Haram, in which The Sphere stood at the place of the Kaaba. It was set to rotate once every 24 hours, and its base became a popular lunch spot for workers in the trade center on days with good weather.
At its current location in Battery Park, a plaque alongside The Sphere reads as follows:
For three decades, this sculpture stood in the plaza of the World Trade Center. Entitled "The Sphere", it was conceived by artist Fritz Koenig as a symbol of world peace. It was damaged during the tragic events of September 11, 2001, but endures as an icon of hope and the indestructible spirit of this country. The Sphere was placed here on March 11, 2002 as a temporary memorial to all who lost their lives in the terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center.
This eternal flame was ignited on September 11, 2002 in honor of all those that were lost. Their spirit and sacrifice will never be forgotten.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

What I Did on My Summer Vermont...with Irene

Needed a little vacation at the end of an entire summer of 100F to 110F temperatures, every day perfectly sunny, like a furnice. Decided to visit some very old, very dear friends who live in the perfect climate. I wanted cool and rain. K & W have plenty of that, plus mountains and forest and a brook at the foot of their hill. Plus a perfect huge dog.

I Love Lucy the Irish Wolfhound

I was of course in Killington, on a mountain, on Roaring Brook Road, as in Roaring Brook is at the bottom of my friends' front yard. As in Roaring Brook that flooded all over the place. As in Roaring Brook which washed away the bridge on the road below the house.

Organic round stone house dug into the mountain
For the first few days, we had a lovely time driving around the area. We even went to Webs in Northhampton MA, that mecca for knitters. We returned home by way of Battleboro, Ludlow, Woodstock and Mendon. Lots to see. We also made an excursion to nearby Rutland with its Green Mountain Yarns. The mountain ash in front was in full bloom, or is it berries. 
Mountain Ash
Green Mountain Fibers in Rutland
 And a visit to Mr. Twitter's.
The delightful Mr. Twitter's in Rutland
 Found a wonderful yarn shop in Proctorsville...Six Loose Ladies.
Six Loose Ladies in Proctorsville

Historic covered bridge in Woodstock
We made still another run to Woodstock for Gillingham's, the famous Farmer's Market and the hardware, foraging supplies for the coming storm. We didn't expect much weather, but better to be safe than sorry.

Gillingham's Store Cat and Supervisor...Adelaide
Then we planned to spend the day Hurricane Irene was expected to arrive safely at home. The rain started around midnight on Saturday and continued for about 18 hours. It didn't seem too heavy and the wind was not impressive, certainly not for three New Orleanians who had survived many a hurricane, including Katrina. We stood out on the terrace several times and remarked that luckily, we had dodged a bullet this time. We could hear the brook below roaring more than usual, but we didn't have a clear view through all the trees. We were totally nonchalant. Then we lost power. And with the power went the pumps, so no water, no flushing toilets, no telephone, no cooking, no fridge, etc. etc. We thought this would be repaired before too long so we just went to bed around dark.

Neighbors woke us early morning bringing news, none of it good. First off...Killington was now an island. Killington had lost all connection with the rest of the world. Route 4 that ran through town was washed out on either side of the village. Rutland was hard hit and that road was impassable. We couldn't get out to anywhere and no help could get in. The same neighbors had a generator and kindly invited us up for hot coffee and news. Various people kept dropping in, bringing a little more information each time. They were projecting a couple of weeks before power could be restored. And no one could get out of town.

Flowers in Manchester VT
After several days of eating peanut butter on crackers and cold pasta with beans (quite good), I began planning a somewhat risky escape, using a driver to go out over a mountain road (we later heard that was a white knuckle adventure and really just took you to Bridgewater, which had been severely hit itself and where the road was also washed out). Then someone knocked on our door one midnight and told us there was an escape plan in the works. A local contractor had built a temporary bridge which he would keep open and maintain for two hours the following morning. Anyone wanting to leave should be there waiting to cross. And if the bridge started to fail, they would close it. No one could return, and it would be possibly weeks before anyone could leave again.

The driver arrived before dawn. We were about the twentieth car in a line of perhaps fifty or sixty. At the appointed hour, they began waving us over. Policemen warned each car that we were using the roads at our own risk and made us acknowledge that. They warned us of crumbling roadways and unstable bridges. We were to cross sections one car at a time at 5mph, trying to stay in the center thread of the road, which was sometimes barely a car's width. Everyone was reasonably nervous. We saw houses and bridges and cars simply washed down the streams. Fields were flattened. Of the stores we had visited so recently in Woodstock, two were flooded and one was simply gone, not there. The covered bridge across from The Green was still there, but damaged. The highway in front of the Farmer's Market was barricaded and we had to go over the mountain to reach the town. Several of the old covered bridges were washed away on swollen streams.

It took time, but we eventually made it to Lebanon NH where we found buses and airplanes. Eventually I arrived in Boston and then home, exhausted and needing a shower badly, but none the worse for wear.

For my part, I have no complaints. It was an adventure vacation. But I do have concern for the people who couldn't escape, particularly the ones who lost so much. I found Vermonters simply amazing. They didn't wait for the government's help or even permission. They held meetings at the school. One local man took care of building the temporary bridge. Others organized a 24 hour phone bank at the school, to answer questions and make things happen. First they checked on everyone in town to make sure no one was isolated and that there was food which didn't need cooking for any children. Today they arranged for supplies to be trucked to one side of the break in the road, then people carry them across the rubble and load things onto the fire truck which takes them up to the market. Walgreen's in Rutland came up with a similar plan for prescriptions, delivered across the Mendon chasm and available for pick-up at the fire station. At the school, they even have cat food and litter available.

Here is a video of someone else in our caravan crossing that temporary bridge out of Killington and the road to Woodstock. Please excuse their language, but the video is interesting. Here are videos of Route 4, again near Mendon, and repairs being made by that local contractor.

Who would have thought all this could happen in Vermont? My friends moved up there after Katrina because they never wanted to worry about hurricanes again. So much for that idea.

Would love to give a knitting update. Lots going on. Although not much was accomplished in Vermont since we had no light and went to bed with the chickens. Next time.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

A Nod to the Ancestors

Five months have passed without a word on the blog. I've no idea why I've been so mute. There has been a lot of knitting, as usual, a bit of traveling, some time spent on genealogy. But none of that fully explains the lack of blog time.

Speaking of those ancestors, I tripped over this interesting article in an old, old newspaper:
From an English paper Jan 5, 1740 - "The Dolphun of New England, Nathaneal Coit, Master, from Cork, is wrecked on a great rock called the Roane Corrigs, in the Bay of Bantry, about four leagues from town. The vessel was staved to pieces and a passenger drowned, but the captain and crew, who were six in number, got upon the rock. The bad weather continueing, nobody would venture to save them, but nine brothers, sons of Marten Sullivan of Beershaven, who, after obtaining their father's leave and blessing, boldly ventured forth and brought the captain and sailors ashore."

Nathanael worked the Irish trade routes and later the West Indies from his home in Connecticut, evidently maintaining a residence in Cork. In later life he opened a "house of entertainment", the Door of the Red Lion, in his father's house in New London. I popped an e-mail to a friend, Richard Mills, who is a photographer for the Cork newspaper and asked if he knew of that rock. Within five minutes of my e-mail, he sent this photo.
So I can picture my Capt Coit and his crew waiting on this forlorn rock, battered by the storm and wondering if they will ever be rescued. There was no lighthouse then, and there are many wrecks to be found around Roancarrig.

The story gets better. Descendants of these nine brave Sullivan brothers from tiny Bere Island were most certainly the five Sullivan brothers from Castletownbere who served - and perished - together in the US Navy in WWII. They had asked not to be separated, and their wish was granted; but afterwards the rules were changed so that such a total loss within one family would not happen again (remember Saving Private Ryan?). The US named the battleship USS Sullivans in their memory.

History is indeed incredible.
And here is proof that I come by my love of fiber naturally. This is my Great-Grandfather with his beloved prize Angora billygoat. West Texas around 1930. The family were among the earliest importers of Angoras to the States. I wonder what he did with the fiber?

And here is proof of knitting. A test knit done for Mimi Kezer, Double Striped Moebius Redux. Great fun and very quick, all things being relative.
Another test knit in progress, this one for EinsteinsLogic, 9 Pearls. A scarf full of holes and loaded with beads. Can you see them?

For Kay, who lives in Vermont, we have a warm hat. The pattern is a variation of Aidan's Hat from Module Magic. The lovely model is Taya.

All the above were knitted with Noro, Silk Garden, Kureyon and Kureyon Sock. Nice to knit down some of the stash (did you hear that stash?).

Then speaking of the above Richard Mills and his partner, the delightful writer Jo Kerrigan (CelticMemory to the knitters), they have just published their first book together, West Cork, A Place Apart. They invested all of their passion into this book, and it is a beautiful marriage of stories and photos. I couldn't wait and got my copy direct from Ireland. You can take a look inside here. I'm just dreaming of packing a small bag and heading over to this magical corner of the Emerald Isle.

See you next time with a report on Vermont and a few of the ubiquitous yarn shops up there. And some more knitting. I've no idea what this is going to look like as Blogger seems to have a mind of it's own tonight with my text, but I'm pushing the publish button for better or worse.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Not Holding a Wake for the Blog, Not Just Yet!

Blogger is making changes and I'm not sure just what to do about it. So the above mentioned wake may be a forced one. Plus, on three different browsers, I'm having a heck of a time posting, going from one computer to the next. Move photos a bit with one, then go to another to add text, but can't move photos. Etcetera ad infinitum. Already, it was getting more and more difficult to find the time to catch things up. Now to worry whether it is all going to disappear. We'll give it another chance.

Mustaavilla just said one day that she couldn't think of one more thing to say about hand-knitted socks, so her blog said bye-bye. Everyone seems to be talking away on Facebook and Twitter, but I must say I can't seem to find the time in my day to find out what my friends (love 'em) ate for lunch.

As to the blog issues, Blogger still doesn't want me to move my photos around, so this may be another strangely disconnected posting. But here goes, lots to catch up on.
Valentines? Yup, it's been a while. Strange to say, but I've never even met the man who sent the champagne and chocolates.

Then, there was the Valentine's snowfall. It was utterly beautiful while it fell, a strange otherworldly light. I could have read a book outside at 3AM with a totally overcast sky and snow falling. About 15" here, unheard of. The branches moaned a groaned and creaked...and broke.
Most of the snow had melted off by the time I took these photos.


Stulpen Fingerless Mitts in Wollmeise. Can I tell you how I love these? Let me count the ways.
And I managed to string up an old Indian pendant I'd had lying around for twenty plus years.
Fetching in Socks That Rock, Dutch Canyon. These went to Jana to keep her hands from freezing (they are always cold). I would not do this pattern again. Although it is modified and is better, those thumbs are just hideous.
And here we have a finished Clapotis. I had plenty of yarn (Elsbeth Lavold's Silky Wool), so I just kept knitting. And knitting. And knitting. For years. And ended up with a ginormous comfy cozy wrap that should do three seasons. Love it.


Sock One, a sideways number by MountainMom. A fast knit, very effective.

Knew these weren't going to fit, so used her favorite colors and shipped them off to Jana. Who loves them dearly.
Sock Two, Cool Beans. This was my first cast on. The yarn just wasn't working at all. So I frogged and started over.

Being a novice at colorwork in the round, these took a while. But I came up with multiple methods for handling the two colors. Learned about dominant color. And really downright enjoyed them.

Knew they were going to be too small for me, but thought I would give this pair to Kay. Well, they wouldn't even fit Kay. Jana got these, too.
Sock Three: GAMs designed by our very own Taya. Made sure these would fit me by adding 7 stitches. Used Noro Kureyon Sock, which I loved working with. Now let's see how a single holds up. I knitted the soles so tight, I had almost negative row gauge.

With round 4, I dropped out. A knee sock that went on, and on, and on. Just the idea of me in knee socks reduces me to giggles. So...I wandered over to Sock Knitters Anonymous and cast on for the CookieA Mystery Sock.

And here we have Clue 1. Clue 2 comes out tonight. So these should look very different in a few days. Wollmeise Twin in Amethyst.
I felt so badly about Kay not getting any Sock Madness booty, that I cast on a pair in Opal Hundertwasser just for her.

And for me, pulled out a skein of Dibadu Wild Funnies and started a very simple ribbed sock, which may turn out to be my favorite of all to wear. Thin and fits perfectly.
Just for the sheer beauty of it, here is a shipment of Wollmeise from my friend Doris in Germany. The joy of opening such a package is hard to describe to a non-knitter.
And here are my helpers. Pandora, who manages to sit on two copies of the same pattern at the same time, preventing knitting.
Big old Galatoire, who does disturb the printing process, even if it doesn't disturb him.

And Bad Boy, who was supposedly helping me file...until he pushed over the stack of folders to the floor, then knocked off the stack of CDs waiting to be mailed as he leapt down and pretended he had nothing to do with any of it.
Whenever I hear a crash in the house, I know exactly who did it.

Now to press the button and see if all this publishes. Hold your breath.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Another Blast from the Past

Perhaps you may remember this photo of the boys, probably Christmas 1968, wearing their fisherman's sweaters which I had made them. I had seen the patterns in one of those women's magazines at the checkout counter of the grocers and thought they would be nice. I hadn't knit in at least five years, and certainly had never knit anything this complex. But, blessed with ignorance, I had no idea they were supposed to be difficult. And what luck that the patterns actually worked without reams of errata. So I just cabled and popcorned away. Of course I saved them, some of those things you want to keep for future generations. When I moved to Europe, I stored them in a cedar chest at my mother's house. My mother, being my mother, found them and gave them away to Goodwill or the Paralyzed Veterans or somesuch. How I wish I still had them. But at least there is this photo!

Going through some of the boxes of inherited photo chaos, I found these two old school photos. Ta-da! Documentation of another set of sweaters, the 70s this time.
Steven in his vest...
...and David in his. No idea where I found the pattern, but I'll lay a bet this yarn came from Woolworth's. We had moved to New Orleans and I don't believe there was even a yarn store there. Or if there was I never found it. We lived on Bourbon Street and rarely left the French Quarter. It was wool, and I remember thinking the variegation was interesting. Now I wasn't a serious knitter then, I just knit from time to time as the urge struck. Wish I had thought to document everything.

There was at least one more set I knit for them, very nice mixed greens with stripes. One was a turtleneck, and by the time I made them the boys had decided they would absolutely not wear T-necks. I don't believe a photo exists of those. Too bad.

Finally got through the Christmas knitting and gift making. These were a big (did I say huge?) project:
Beaded row counters, each one different. Doreen and I got together to make fifteen or so for our knitting group. As we did our shopping for all the elements (at least three stores, twice or three times), went through my bead stash (at least as extravagent as my yarn stash) and worked through the night until 6AM to find we had only finished five or six, we decided if we were selling them on Etsy, we would have to charge at least $200 each to break even. Suppose I'm not cut out for beading row markers for the general market. Several more sessions, plus making some for myself and for other giftees, I finally stashed the beads and baubles again yesterday. Now some of you still haven't received your packages, so please act surprised.

And what have we here?
Believe it or not, a white Christmas in Texas, the first one on record for this area. This photo was taken early in the day on Christmas Eve. We got quite a bit more, about 4 inches where I live. It was no trouble getting out to our Christmas Eve party. But by the time we left to go home, the temperatures had dropped dramatically and everything was frozen solid. Getting home was a definite drama. Being Christmas Eve, no one had gotten out to sand the bridges (inexcusable) and the driving was definitely hazardous. David was on call at the hospital that night and his car doesn't do well at all on ice. I worried all night about that. By Christmas day afternoon, the roads had cleared up a bit and the driving was less treacherous.

Wonder of wonders, it is snowing again today. And it's cold. Thank goodness there is not a photo of me at the moment. Already in PJs, I'm typing away wearing orange fingerless gloves and my full length hooded red parka. Cute, really, really cute!!! As soon as I finish, I'm going to attack some major closet re-organization and there are a lot of closets in need. Must take photos and show you next time. I'm drowning in "stuff" and a lot of it just has to go. And as a result of the snow which must have been blowing in the right direction to block the dish, no television tonight. We're just not getting a signal. Darn, I'll miss the 5 millionth discussion of how to get on an airplane with an underwear bomb!!!
I mentioned in the last post that I had scored some Buffalo Gold in Boerne for a shawl but didn't show a photo. This is it, with a lovely pattern. I can't wait to start on it, but MUST finish a couple of WIPs before I allow myself. Perhaps that 3/4 done Clapotis? Definitely the orchid colored socks. One of the four sweaters that are half to 90% done? Decisions, decisions.
Just to make you laugh, this is the still un-named Bad Boy cat in his usual lounging position. Notice the divan is white? Well actually natural cotton damask. Not for long I'm sure. Bad boy has single-handedly spotted all the carpets with his barfing, if not worse. Broken several items. We switched his dry food which has solved the barfing and worse problem, but the new food is staining his white ruff. I'm sure we'll eventually solve all these issues. In the meanwhile, he is just so funny he keeps us in giggles. And extremely affectionate.
Here is one of the Christmas presents, for the BF, the very tall BF so it is a very long scarf. The pattern is the scarf version of Hypoteneuse. I donated my Plain & Fancy charcoal yarn (bought for a shawl) to the project because it was just so perfect (must call to see if I can't get some more). And the BF, the most impossible man in the world to buy a present for, seemed to really love it. Scored with this one.
And here is Absorba the Ultimate Bathmat, made for Dr. Persnickety, another impossible man for presents. Think it took 30 skeins of cotton knitted 6 at a time. He LOVED it. Score number 2. And he would like another smaller one. Yay, birthday in 4 months. And...OMG...he indicated he might actually like a sweater. I'm immediately thinking some lovely fair-isle sort of project, with colors to go with his red hair. I do so love to actually have ideas for the future, if only I remember when the time comes.

Truthfully, I completely enjoyed knitting the log cabin pattern, just not in six strands of cotton. I must look into adaptations and variations of log cabin. It is very Zen. I'm not doing hand-knitted afghans because of cats and those pests called moths. So it has to be a sweater or a shawl. Must apply the Thinking Cap...or spend some extra hours on Ravelry.
And this is what I'm knitting on now. Perhaps you can't tell, but this is an eyelash scarf knitted with just the eyelash. A horror to knit on large needles. It was even hard to find the yarn. But this was a specific request to replace a scarf I made fifteen years ago (hated knitting it then, too) for my friend Liz in Ireland. One day it blew off her neck and away over the bogs, never to be seen again and she really, really wanted another one. Only love would get you through knitting like this. At least I'm two skeins into a three skein project.

Hope your holidays were merry and that a wonderful New Year awaits us all.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Off and On the Needles - Fall Report II

Well now, I've survived another trip to the Kid n Ewe Festival in Boerne. The Hill Country was incredibly green this year, most unusual. The downside of that was an abundance of flies and mosquitoes that we don't usually notice so much. I didn't even take a single photo since I've taken so many over the years. But of course, there was modest replenishment of stash, notably some Buffalo Gold for a beautiful lace shawl. Then some single skeins from Brooks Farm for mixed skein projects. My goal had been to buy only grey yarns, but that proved difficult. I wanted enough for a sweater from Brooks Farm, but they didn't have any grey this time. I did score some grey from Plain and Fancy for another lace shawl, a skein of Smooshy in grey for socks and a skein of thick and thin in grey from the Tinsmith's Wife for another little ruffled neck thingy like I made last year and wore constantly.

Susan and I took a Fair Isle class from Leif Bloomenstahl the last day. It was fun and we accomplished a lot. I'm totally fired up now to start a vest, dare I say Starmore? Unbelievably, I have no appropriate yarn in stash.

There were six of us on the trip this time. We stuffed ourselves at all our favorite eateries. I've had enough chicken fried steak to last me for months. We added two new restaurants this trip, or perhaps three (new to some). All successful. The draft hard cider at the Dodging Duck is almost worth the trip all by itself.

On our departure from the bed and breakfast in Comfort, I kept my eyes peeled for another surprise visit from Celtic Memory Jo (remember last year?). Sadly, she didn't pop up this year.

And now for the second part of the current projects update.

An amusing knit was this pair of CookieA's Wanida pattern. Done in Socks That Rock lightweight, the colorway was Dixie Chicks, scored at Sock Camp a couple of years ago. These were for my dear friend K to help her survive the Vermont winters after a very, very many decades in the tropical swamp temperatures of New Orleans. They were well received and evidently fit well, always a concern when knitting for a pair of feet at a distance.

Another finished project is this Rivolo scarf from Ann Hanson's lovely pattern. Also done in a Blue Moon Fiber Arts yarn, Seduction this time, colorway Rooster Rock.
The Rooster Rock colorway is even more beautiful than the photographs show and has a wonderful texture and luster. It has some tencel content, a nice hand, was pleasant to work with and it blocked very well. I started this one when Steven was in the hospital and worked on it during many hours spent there. It took me almost a year to finally bind off the last stitch and it was really emotional, as though I was letting go of some of that. This is a scarf I shall keep, although I might use the pattern again in a different yarn.
And then we have what is left of a very large shawl which had been done in Prism Wild Stuff. It was sticking out of a drawer the other day, and for some reason I pulled it out and frogged it. Punishment for its keeping the drawer from closing? Not sure quite what I will do with these two skeins of very pricey yarn. I wouldn't buy it again today for sure, but perhaps a purpose can be found.
And last but not least is my current Fascinate scarf in another color of Kureyon sock yarn. As I said after the last one, I think I will probably keep one of these in my purse at all times. At least until I've run out of friends to gift them. Easy knit and very effective.
A class with Cat Bordhi on her new sock technique looms next week-end. Cat is always fun and inspiring. Who knows what ideas she will put in my head? But I am really over-socked at the moment. As soon as I finish at least some of my WIPs, I'm seriously thinking some bigger projects are in order.