Wednesday, July 29, 2009

From the Road

July 29, 2009 4:20 am - Alarm goes off. Having packed last night and owning a coffee maker with a timer, all I have to do is put clothes on and drink coffee. Praise the day the coffee maker with timer was invented.

5:20 am - Best Man In the World (aka Love of My Life) drives me to airport. If a 5am ride to the airport isn't love, I don't know what is.

6:00am - 7:10 am - Drink coffee. Conveniently, I am at the last few rows of the heel flap of Pomatomus, which is exactly the right level of skill requirement at this point in the caffeination process.

7:15 am - board airplane number 1. Window seat, behind woman with two small and well-behaved children and in front of apparently completely indifferent woman with loudly crying toddler. When flight attendant asks her if she can get her anything, woman replies that "he'll go to sleep eventually". Praise the day the iPod was invented. Commence turning heel, now being caffeinated enough to count to 19, ssk, k1, and turn.

7:40 am - take-off. Note with some degree of joy that flight is announced as expected to be 2 hours, 12 minutes, and that the latest episode of Limenviolet is 2:06:34. Giggle intermittently and begin gusset.

10:53 am (EDT): Arrive in Toronto. Set what must be some sort of International Record that will Stand For Decades when I find my way to U.S. Connections, retrieve my suitcase, go through customs, drop my suitcase, and clear security in EIGHT MINUTES.

11:40 am: After wandering the airport shops for a while, begin search for food. Go to kiosk number one, stand there, alone, 2 feet away from three staff members having a conversation. One finally pauses for breath, and acknowledges my existence. "What kind of soup do you have today?" I ask. I swear to you she looked at me as if I had asked her if peach trees grew on Jupiter. "What?" I repeat what I thought was a fairly straightforward question, she shakes her head, points to a sign. "Um, I dunno, Vegetable I think." I move on.

11:50 am: After searching for a while for food that isn't burgers or fries or pre-packaged egg salad, I locate a Tim Hortons. "What kind of soup do you have today?" I ask, after making sure I have scanned every surface in the area for signs and find none. Again, the peach tree look. I swear to you. (Anyone from Toronto, is there some Hogtown-centric way one is supposed to phrase this question?) I repeat what is now becoming a bit of a scary question to ask. "Oh,", says she, "Hearty Vegetable and um, cream of, um, mushroom." I order the Soup and Bagel Combo, multi-grain bagel toasted, vegetable soup. (Aside mini-rant: there was a DINNER ROLL in the bag with my soup and bagel combo. Every other combo that comes with said dinner roll stipulates that on the menu board. I've got a soup and BAGEL combo. What the frikkenfrakkenrazenmaPHRICK do I need a damn dinner roll for?!?! I'm sorry I know this has nothing to do with anything and doesn't really matter but this has now happened to me on several occasions at several different Timmies and I think I'm a relatively intelligent human being and I just don't get it.)

12:35 pm: Arrive at gate as instructed by my boarding pass for my 1:10pm departure time.

1:30 pm: Dear Air Canada staff: When a flight is delayed, even by as relatively little as this, you'll probably have less irritated people on your hands (this knitter not included - I was almost done a repeat and for the first time understood the t-shirt that says "I knit so I don't kill people") if you maybe tell people that there's going to be a delay instead of alternately looking at us blankly and reading your book. When passengers board said delayed flight, you might want to put down your yogurt, stop bitching about how much stuff you have to lug around on this little plane, and maybe say hi or look at boarding cards or something. I dunno, just a thought.

1:32 pm: Find my seat, take out sock in progress.

1:33 pm: Seat mate moves to another seat. (Yes, seriously.) I am amused by this.

 1:35 pm: Take-off. Conclude that I must be in the process of being rewarded by the knitting gods for patiently saving podcasts for travel when the flight time is predicted to be 1:06, and the latest episode of Cast On is 1:05.

1:36 pm: Hear my first Boston accent. Any and all travel-related stress disappears. He looks just like Charles Emerson Winchester III from M*A*S*H*, which makes it even better.

2:00ish: Think about how fun it might be to write a book. Finally figure out what the mirror of a k2tog tbl would be, too late for consistency through the whole sock but early enough for consistency through the foot. (Oh well, better late than never.) Drink diet coke. Learn about Corgi socks via podcast.

3:00 pm: Arrive in Boston, starting second repeat of foot pattern (gusset done). Find transport, gawk at city en route to...

4:00 pm: COOLEST HOTEL EVER. Not swanky, by no means fancy, but old, and brick and oak and just lovely. I have a kitchen and a double bay window (yay for being upgraded!) and a lovely view of more brick and oak and...sigh. I love old cities, I really do. The website doesn't do it justice. I'm unpacked, I'm settled in, I'm off to have dinner with the 11 others at this conference (of 650 or so) who are also Canadian. Tomorrow I'm going to put my work brain in and go soak up as much information and knowledge and wisdom and insight as I can. But today? Today was good too.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

For the Road

I have an inordinate amount of travel coming up. July 29-August 1 I'm going to Boston for a day-job-related conference, then August 7th I fly to Ottawa for three days visiting my sister, take the train from there to Stratford, ON to visit my brother, then fly home out of Toronto on the 14th. I am really, really looking forward to all of these trips for the destination portion of them, but, as I'm sure you may have guessed, I have some preparations to do beyond the normal human amount of packing for the traveling bits. For I am a knitter.

By my (admittedly notoriously unreliable) math, I will, in the next 2.5 weeks, be spending a total of 19 hours and 12 minutes in airplanes, trains, airports and train stations. If you add in the 1-2 hours I have to be at the airport before these flights (two international, two domestic), it comes out to a total of around 26 hours. That's a lot of knitting. Even for me.

I have a set of travel-knitting guidelines that I tend to pack by.

1. I keep the projects small, like gloves or socks, so that I minimize any seatmate-related elbowing risks. (These people, usually non-knitters, are usually disturbed enough cognitively by my knitting I like to mitigate it as best I can by at least not bothering them physically.)

2. I knit said project(s) on bamboo dpns, so that I minimize the risk of an over-________ (zealous? enthusiastic? paranoid? acrylic-clad?) security guard thinking I'm a risk to an airplane or a country or anything except my own sanity.

3. I choose a pattern that is easily memorized or has an itty-bitty chart (see #1).

4. If travel time exceeds single-project limits (and this set of jaunts certainly meets that criteria), I bring a couple of back up projects in my checked luggage... usually one for evenings/early mornings in the hotel so I'm occupied, one for an alternative to the carry-on project in case I get tired of the primary project. Alternative project must meet all criteria above.

5. Um, also, I like to have another back-up in case I end up stuck in an airport because of some freak mid-July snowstorm or sudden airline strike or other delaying calamity. I know that this just might border on paranoia, but lets just say that previous travel misadventures* have left me a bit... well, over-__________ (see above). My options are pretty good, I think: I have these:

Kevin's Kilt Hose, Wooly West Happy Trails, Anne Gilmour's amazing pattern "He' Mo Leanan"

And these: Pomatomus, Socks that Rock Rockin' Sock Club's May Shipment (Pepe la Plume)

And these: Sam, Tanis Fiber Arts, sock the second that has been sadly languishing

But there's also all of this: WIPs that I can't bring myself to describe, lest I perish under the crushing weight of the guilt that only comes of a perfectionist leaning and a Catholic upbringing.

AND the ever-present pile of SHINY!!!!!.... A pox on the houses of KnitPicks and their sales, Limenviolet and their enabling, and the Rockin' Sock Club for leading a weak, weak knitter like me into temptation...

And of course the lure of POTENTIAL SHINY.... Newbury Yarns, a mere 0.34 miles from my hotel according to MapQuest. (eternal gratitude to the Yarn Harlot for making the rule that vacation yarn doesn't count at stash).

Suggestions? Words of encouragement? "Get-a-hold-of-yourself, woman!"-type face slaps? Oh, right, and the clothes and toothbrush and stuff. I'll figure it out. Hopefully before the plane leaves.

*(Someday I'll tell you about my 30-hour journey home from New York the day before a gig and you will understand why I'm a tad cautious).

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Fast and Slow

As you may have been able to tell from the blog-silence, the last three or four weeks have been ones of unparalleled busy-ness... Love of My Life's (LoML) business took off during the same week we got his house packed up and on the market during the week before the annual general meeting and three other major events of my responsibility the week before a birthday (his) trip to Las Vegas for four days. (Granted, this last was not at all trying, but still...Vegas is a very stimulating, very FAST place, a place of excess in every sense of the word. Totally suited to this birthday, which was one of those Capital "B" Birthdays, so so so much fun, but not exactly a vacation of the "kick back and relax" variety. But man oh man was it fun.)

We're back to relatively normal schedule now, and though that feels relatively sloth-like compared to the obscene pace of the last month, I think we're still recovering a bit. He had a bad cold while we were away, I have it now. Not enough to stay home, but too much to be, well, up to much.

So last night, not feeling like actually cooking, we picked up one of those pre-roasted chickens from Safeway that are all in their little domes and hot and ready to go. We mashed some potatoes and steamed some broccoli. We drank Coke Zero from cans. It was one of those kinds of dinners. LoML planned to cut the remaining meat off the bird "later" to make chicken salad. Then "later", he got a better idea. He went into the kitchen to grab a drink, and then, out of nowhere, I hear: "Chicken Soup!"

Before I knew it, he was rifling through the crisper for carrots and celery and hauling out the slow cooker. He spent a good half hour in there while I knit. Worked his magic. Plugged in the slow cooker to do its thing.

Today, when I got home from work, home smelled like... well... home. Why chicken soup smells like love and comfort and retreat and safety I have no idea, but there's no questioning its effects. And its effects have been permeating the apartment for a good 18 hours. He's working late tonight, building decks while the sun shines, and I'm now waiting for bread to rise. It'll be another hour and 23 minutes until it comes out of the oven, and until then, I'll knit, or play piano or accordion for a bit, and just... wait. Slowly.