Yesterday we drove to Minneapolis to pick up #1 Son at the airport. He has a 4-week break between the surgery rotation just finished and the next one, in-patient medicine, and he decided to spend that time here on the lake. (Hint to parents of soon-to-be adult children: If you want them to come visit you, move to a place they want to visit. My in-laws moved to Florida; it worked for them.)
He is planning to take a year off between years 3 and 4 of medical school to get an MS in public health. Admission to grad school requires the GRE, which he is taking next Tuesday. Here is how he will spend the first week of his vacation:
He set up Study Central on the porch, where there was plenty of natural light and he could plug his iPod into the stereo. What you cannot hear is that the stereo is cranked up and at this moment Bob Dylan is singing to him about Highway 61. The fan in the foreground is to promote the flow of air-conditioned air into his domain from the rest of the house (porch is not heated or a/c-ed).
Just for fun he and I started going through the Barron's GRE review book's one-page list of vocabulary words most likely to appear somewhere on the test. As usual, he amazed me with his articulacity (is too a work, I just used it). I generally knew approximately what a word meant, but he could nail it. Sometimes I got him laughing because my definitions often involved gestures and body language. Apparently there is no provision for that kind of definition in the GRE. Go figger. He hopes to go to Johns Hopkins or Harvard for the MS. No one ever has had to tell him to raise his sights higher.
It is always a good thing to bring all one's knitting tools along on vacation...
...because one never knows when a delightful yarn shop -- or two! -- may appear on the horizon*.
Before we left I had read Erika's post about her Red Scarf. I had already decided that I was not going to participate in the Red Scarf Project this year (forgive me, Norma!) because I had declared 2010 to be The Year Of Knitting For Me.
But that post kept lurking in the back of my mind.
First, I ventured into That Little Red House, a lovely yarn shop in Grand Marais that does not have a website and of which I tragically did not take a photo. The owner was friendly and chatty and I found the perfect yarn for a red scarf.
The yarn is a 2-ply blend of wool, superkid mohair, and angora -- lovely cottony soft. How handy that I had brought along my nostepinne and all my needles! I immediately cast on for the scarf, using La Harlot's One-Row Scarf pattern (I knit two scarves and several afghan squares from that pattern last year, so it is pretty well embedded in my brain).
Tra la la, a day or two later we found anotheryarn shop! This is the one whose sign is pictured above and is in Tofte, right across Hwy. 61 (yes, that Hwy. 61) from Blue Fin Bay resort. Guess what, that shop had some very nice red yarn**, too!
Now I have two red scarves OTN and my conscience is a happy camper.
I finished the pair of socks that was in progress when we left and wore them. That means they are currently in the laundry pile so I'm not gonna model them for you right now. As soon as that pair was done I cast on for another pair from a skein of Trekking I bought last year.
See that hole in the ground beyond my foot? That is a chipmunk burrow, and the chipmunks kept me constant company while I knit by the lake. Mostly they scurried about and scolded me for being in their territory. Eventually I had the clever idea of keeping a bag of trail mix handy and tossing them the occasional raisin. That kept them quiet.
* It may have helped that I did some serious googling for yarn shops in the area before we left. I even took screen shots of the Google maps showing the location of each one and loaded them onto my iPod. Always prepared, that's my motto!
** In case you cannot read the labels, this red yarn is Lamb's Pride Nature Spun worsted, and a more delightful and affordable 100% wool worsted I have never encountered. How come none of you told me about it? Keeping it all for yourself, eh? Well, now I know about it and it will be every knitter for herself. This yarn is soft and fluffy and knits wonderfully and was $6.95 (or $7.95, don't remember) for >200 yards. The skein on the right is a true bright red, the one on the left dark red. We all know how difficult it is to photograph anything red.
Always sit at or near the front of the lecture room. This will help ensure that you pay attention, help you not miss anything, and if, heaven forfend, you need to throw yourself on the instructor's mercy at some point, s/he will at least recognize your face.
If you are a morning person, schedule your classes in the mornings and do your studying in the afternoons. That leaves the evenings free for [insert activity here].
If you are NOT a morning person, do not ever, ever schedule an 8 a.m. class. You will fail it. Guaranteed.
Take as wide a variety of courses as you can. You never know what will strike a chord or what knowledge may come in handy in later life. (Yes, there will be a later life. If you are lucky.)
Fit in some time for exercise. It relieves stress, enables you to concentrate for another hour, and helps avoid the Freshman Fifteen [pounds].
Try to confine your partying to Friday and Saturday nights.
Find a volunteer activity that can fit into your schedule.
Call home regularly. The check-writing bill payers will appreciate that.
Do not ever get so drunk you cannot remember what happened the night before. Even if you don't remember, others will.
Don't drive drunk and don't ride with anyone who is.
It occurred to me that perhaps I should remind everyone that I DO still knit. Currently OTN:
Notice the distinct lack of suntan, plus the remnants of that itchy rash on my legs. Ewww. Back in June when Smokey was doing the daily wet wraps of my arms, I was not as diligent on my shins. Working on that now.
Remember the multi-color striped top-down raglan? I tried it on after posting its progress earlier this month, and guess what? It was very nearly long enough -- only about two inches short! Finding out how close I was to finishing gave me some impetus to resume knitting. We are going camping again next week -- North Shore of Lake Superior this time -- and I hope to finish it once and for all then. Stay tuned...
Ten reasons to love bacon? I can only think of one: it tastes so darned good! Well, here goes...
Nutrition. It covers two of the most important food groups, fat and salt. (The others are beer and sugar. Bacon goes well with beer, not to mention how well it combines with maple syrup on your breakfast plate. There. Nutritional bases all covered.)
Versatility. What else goes with carbs (pancakes, waffles, bread, beer), protein (eggs, peanut butter), and vegetables (lettuce and tomatoes) so well?
Survival. We are in danger of being overrun with pigs. Eating them is vital to our survival as a species.
I attended a one-day conference last week for the ten or so communities in the state that received Energy Independence grants from the state of Wisconsin this year. Polk County -- specifically, the renewable energy committee of which I am a member -- won one of the grants. The conference was predictably interesting (and offered lengthy opportunities for knitting -- more on that later).
Even better, though, was the fact that the conference was being held in the home town of one of everyone's favorite knitters, Vicki knitorious! We met on the day of the conference, and she took me to her daughter's coffee shop for breakfast.
kc&t is a cute and friendly and comfy storefront in the downtown area, filled with photographs and paintings by talented members of the owner's family. (That's Vicki's hand at left.)
We sat in cozy chairs and drank coffee and ate bagels and cream cheese and knitted until it was time for me to scurry to the conference. Thanks, Vicki! It is always so good to get together with a fellow knitblogger.
The conference was held in a nature center. This is just a small fraction of the furred and hoofed and winged and
finny stuffed critters who surrounded us in the conference room.
Does anyone else find it ironic for a nature center to be filled with taxidermied animals that were clearly bagged by a big game hunter? Distinctly odd, imho.*
I chatted with this man, the city manager of a smallish city, before the conference started.
Should I have told him to keep an eye on that fellow attendee over his shoulder?
Is it just me, or is that buffalo give this guy the evil eye?
Bob, our UW-Extension community development agent and Tim, our county planner:
They were checking out the river next to the nature center. It was really rockin' and rollin' -- lots of recent rain thereabouts.
It was a five-hour drive from our government center to our motel. What to do to fill the time?
This is for a benefit and silent auction next month. I cast on as we were leaving the government center parking lot Tuesday afternoon, and the scarf was 51" long by the time I got home Wednesday evening. Go, me!
* Vicki told me later that she thought all the critters were donated by by a big game hunter who lived in town at one time -- he lived right on the main drag and had big display windows toward the street to show them off. Probably better that they are where they are now.
An Xtreme thunder- and windstorm blew through here one evening last week. I was home alone and went to stand in the three-season porch to watch it. (I love storms.) But the wind became so strong I stepped back into the house and closed the door. A window pane blew out in that porch once, and if it happened again I didn't want to be in the same room with the flying glass. The wind seemed to be about 50 mph -- it looked like the water was being blown off the surface of the lake.
After a few minutes he storm passed, and we had no significant damage, just a lot of leaves and small branches down (except for that one tree that fell and blocked the neighbor's driveway).
But the next little town south of us did not fare so well.
I drove through a couple days later. Scenes like this were typical.
The county government center lost a storage building. (Look closely at the trees in the background, too).
Utility and tree-trimmer trucks were everywhere.
Some guys were working.
Others were taking their lunch break near the village beach.
I worked at the county library booth at the fair again this year. That makes, I think, eight years in a row.
I arrived shortly before 10 a.m. and parked in the lot on the far side of the fair park from where I needed to be, just so I could get a look at everything before it got too hot. The dairy judging was in progress.
There were the requisite Holsteins.
There were the requisite brown Swiss. As a brown-haired person of Swiss heritage, I am partial to the brown Swiss.
What's that hanging in the dairy barn?
Surely not a piñata?
Strange sights are present even in the parking lot.
Did you see that?
Somebody rode his/her llama to the fair!
And, finally, the latest in my Tigers of Polk County series, which began in 2007. This is #4. Tigers are scarce 'round these parts.
* * * * *
A final note: there is a small deck/stage attached to one of the buildings, and there have traditionally been small entertainments all during the fair -- barbershop groups, civic bands, whatever. This year the entertainments were moved to a large open tent where there was more space and lots more shaded seating, but apparently some missed the performances on the small stage. When I went past, several dozen people were seated on the benches... watching a woman spin. Excitement reigns supreme at the Polk County fair!
What to bring on vacation? My list would be pretty much the same as the one a few weeks ago, what to bring on a camping trip -- since our vacations then to be camping trips. But what the heck, I'll do it again, this time omitting any camping-specific items.
Current knitting project, plus *spares*. How awful would it be if an asteroid crashed somewhere on Earth and somehow disabled all electronics and transportation and communication and we were stuck on vacation for weeks? Better to be prepared, I always say.
Current book, plus as many others as I could possibly read, plus one more just in case. (See reasoning in #1, above.)
Electronics: iTouch (sync iTouch before departure and load up audiobooks and music), cell phone, camera AND CABLE; car and AC chargers for each. And spare headphones.
Daily meds, plus acyclovir and migraine meds; if I have those last two along I know I won't need them.
Dogs and their paraphernalia, which includes their daily meds (and a mortar and pestle to grind up Lucy's pill so we can dunk bits of hot dog into it -- she is way too smart to take a pill any other way), dog food, water and food dishes, leashes, tie-outs, and brushes. Oh, and a poop scooping utensil. (Yes, we would take the dogs along on vacation -- wouldn't you?)
Earplugs, just in case*.
My OWN pillows. I sleep much better with my own down pillows than the lumps provided by hotels/motels/etc.
Post card stamps. This simplifies things. Even in these days of Twitter and Facebook and blogs and email, getting a written postcard in the mail is special. (Or so #2 son emailed us when he got our postcard from WY.)
Sunglasses. I always put these on my list because no sunglasses = misery.
I keep a "Take / To do before we go" list on my computer and update it before every long trip. It has saved my butt and sanity many, many times, and I consulted it for this post. Coincidentally, I am leaving tomorrow for an overnight trip to a conference in eastern WI (where I will get to knit with Vicki! Hi, Vicki!) so this post is a handy refresher on what to bring. (And, no, I am not bringing the dogs along; they only get to go on vacation, not to conferences.)
* Smokey is a vigorous and noisy sleeper -- I call it *sleeping with enthusiasm* -- and several years ago I found that earplugs ensured pleasant and uninterrupted slumber for me. But on our last vacation, I didn't use them -- forgot to put them in on the second night before I crawled into bed and was too lazy to get up. And I slept just fine! Even though we were sleeping in much closer quarters -- the back of the van -- than we normally do. Go figger. I haven't used them since, except for a couple times when he was putting dishes away in the kitchen at 3 a.m. (what can I say? he is nocturnal) and that woke me up. But I will forever keep earplugs handy... just in case.