Saturday, August 28, 2010

Actual Knitting Content!

It seems like it's been forever since I had any significant knitting to show. Trust me, it's not like I've had too much knitting time lately. But I have made a little visible progress, so I'm going to show it off.

I knit endless thousands of tiny stockinette stitches and finally arrived at the part of Paper Crane where I bind off for the armholes, do some shaping, and knit the wee front panels. I say "wee" because they are pretty short. Here's a close up for you:

Here's a bigger shot, so you can kind of see the construction:

Now I knit up the back to the neck, and then cast on stitches for the rest of the fronts. I know I'm nowhere near done (sleeves, anyone?), but reaching this milestone makes me feel like I'm getting somewhere. Still in love with the yarn, cat hair and all.

But it's also August. The Fall knitting mags are beginning to come out. August makes me want to knit sweaters. Yes, I know Paper Crane is a sweater, but it's laceweight. It's thin. It's not a sweater sweater. When I think of nippy air and fall leaves, I think thicker wool, more rustic... cables.

Enter Hallett's Ledge, a pattern from the newest issue of Twist Collective. A search through the basement cedar closets yielded the perfect yarn, a discontinued rustic worsted weight wool from Louet, most likely purchased from several years ago. Perfect. Swatched and gauge was spot on. Cast on and now have this:

The bottom done through all the waist decreases. Worsted weight on size 8 needles goes much faster than laceweight on 2s!

The kids are still home, but I can at least get a little knitting done here and there. School starts September 7th. No, I'm not counting the days. Really.

This morning I got on the treadmill for the first time since I injured my ankle. I've been brace-free for the last couple of days without any pain, so I wanted to see how the ankle would handle a brief walk on the treadmill. My plan was to start with a 1 mile, moderate speed walk. If things felt good, I would slowly work my way back into things, walking faster and longer before I attempted to run again. I don't want to aggravate or reinjure the ankle and be immobile any longer than I have to be. I'm not quite sure what to conclude from my attempt. I can feel my ankle in a way that I don't feel the uninjured one. It's a bit achy. I don't know if that's the injury or if it's simply stiff from it's forced inactivity.

Whatever I do, I will take this slowly, even though my brain is screaming "Want to do more! Nao! Faster pleez!"

In a future post I will write about all the books I managed to read while I was gimpy, but I do want to recommend one I'm in the middle of right now, The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, by David Mitchell, who also wrote the marvelous Cloud Atlas. It's really wonderful. Hard to put down, which leads to later nights than I need.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Costa Rica Trip Part 2 - The Beach, now with more Monkeys!

After our few days inland in the vicinity of the Arenal volcano, we headed back to the west coast for some beach time. We drove for hours on twisty, unmarked roads, stopping for amazing food, until we came to Tamarindo, where our hotel was (the Capitan Suizo, highly recommended). Tamarindo is a funky little beach town, much like any funky little beach town. Lots of surf shops and souvenir shops. Nice restaurants (Noguis was my favorite) and even a Subway, which we managed to avoid. Lots of tourists, professional beach bums, and trust-fund dropouts. The town is very walkable, either on the beach side or the town side.

The town is in a cove, so the surf is nice but not rough. From the beach at our hotel, it was a short walk around the point of the cove to get to the ocean, which was much more dramatic. Here are a bunch of different beach shots:

(this was the first shot I took as we walked on the beach from the hotel)

(this was going around the point to the ocean side)

OK, now you're all sick of beach photos.

The hotel we stayed at also serves as an animal rehab/refuge. It takes in injured animals and nurses them back to health until they can be returned to the wild. At any time, there are several monkeys and other animals roaming around. Because most of them will be returned to the wild, the guests aren't allowed to play with or touch them. But there was one little monkey who was missing one eye and had a white ring on her tail, which made her unlikely to survive on her own, so the guests were allowed to play with her. There were also some playful raccoons around. There was one employee whose sole job it was to walk around all day holding the rescued baby monkeys.

I played with the little monkey once while the boys were off having surfing lessons. She sat on my lap and wanted a tummy rub, but then decided that she wanted to play with my glasses. Cheeky monkey. Later on, she played with Sr. Jr. and the littlest raccoon ("Poco") at the same time:

One day, the medium sized raccoon climbed up in my lap, like a cat. He got a few pets, then started purring and curled up next to me for a little nap:

We were treated to great views of a roving pack of monkeys one day as we were standing in front of the hotel. There were 20 to 30 of them, moving through the trees and across the street on specially-constructed monkey bridges:

There were other cute creatures around, too, like the sugar-stealing jays:

and variegated squirrels! These were so cute. I seriously wanted to smuggle some home to start a colony here.

By dinner time on the very last day there, the sore throat that I'd been ignoring turned into a full-blown throat infection. Luckily, we were able to see a doctor and get to a pharmacy before it closed. I shudder to think what it would have been like to fly even sicker than I was. And I'm glad that it held off until the very end of the vacation.

We had an amazing time. The boys loved it, we loved it.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Costa Rica Trip - Lots of Pics - Part 1, Volcano & Rainforest

We are back from Costa Rica, a destination chosen by Sr. Jr. as a bar mitzvah present. We had a truly wonderful time, even with my gimpy ankle and some rain. The country is just beautiful, with amazing birds, plants, and animals anywhere you look.

For the first part of our trip, we stayed near the Arenal volcano, at the Naraya. The hotel was amazing, beautiful accommodations, amazing grounds, and fantastic service. This was the very first picture I took upon arriving, a view of the volcano:

Every now and then, the volcano would rumble and we'd see smoke come out the top. Occasionally, we'd even see some smoking rocks land on the side of the mountain, too.

This was very cool, but a little unnerving.

The ground of the hotel were filled with amazing plants and flowers. I wish some of them would grow here! Here's a bunch of plant/flower pics:

One day, the boys went on a hike up to the waterfall and swam in the waters below. My ankle prevented me from doing that, and the pics are on Mr. T's camera, so imagine waterfalls and swimming boys here.

Another day we went for a tranquil float down the river, where we saw sloths, monkeys, amazing birds like Olive-throated Parakeets, Chestnut-Mandibled Toucans, White-Throated Magpie Jays (photos later - these birds would lurk by the restaurant at the beach to try to steal sugar packets), Passerini's Tanagers (gorgeous!), Blue and Gold Tanagers, and Orioles, among many others that I can't identify.

We also saw long-nosed bats:

Lizards, cows, and this guy:

who did not eat us (professional courtesy ;p)

So there we were, floating down a river in the middle of Costa Rica, when we got out and went up to a small snack stand to meet the van. As we were walking up from the riverside, we saw hundreds of cyclists riding by. A bike race. I can't escape it. Mr. T was enthralled.

We also did a hanging bridges tour through the rainforest. This was a lot of fun, if a bit scary up there on the swinging bridges. That was a bit hard on my ankle, but I'm glad I did it. We saw all sorts of things that we'd only seen on the Discovery Channel, like leaf-cutter ants, poison dart frogs:

and all sorts of amazing plants and views:

(this is a shot down from the bridge we were standing on)

(way up in the canopy)


Tomorrow: at the beach in Tamarindo, with monkeys!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Bar Mitzvah

Sr. Jr.'s bar mitzvah was this weekend. He did an amazing job; I'm so proud of him. And, while it wasn't fun trying to pull all this together and get everything ready with a fractured ankle, it all got done and everything went well.

Early on, we offered him the choice of a big, traditional bar mitzvah party with lots of people, a dj, etc. OR a small family event and a trip of his choice. He chose the trip option, so the party ended up being about 25 of us in a private room at a local restaurant. It was really nice, because we all had the opportunity to talk and relax. There was no shouting over music, or breaking for "games." Despite my fears, there was no inter- or intra- family drama. We ate, we talked, it was lovely.

Then we had a low-key brunch here at the house this morning before everyone had to head home again.

Here are some family pics:

Sr. Jr. and the Rabbi at the rehearsal:

With Grandpa T that afternoon, before the bar mitzvah:

Ready to go:

Some T family members arrive at the temple:

Boys being silly:

I look so elegant with the boot, don't I?

First halfway decent picture of me EVER:

The quintessential Jr. Jr.:

With my father and his wife:

With my brother and his girlfriend:

With my aunts and uncles:

I don't have any pics with my ILs on my camera, so I'm waiting for them to be emailed to me.

And no, I haven't knit in ages, so no new knitting pics to show you.