Monday, June 30, 2008

Kansas City, Some Ducks and a Monkey...

Well, this past weekend we headed to Kansas City for the wedding of one of R's best friends. (In fact, R was the best man in the wedding). It was actually a DOUBLE wedding, which I have never been to before. Two sisters getting married. It was beautiful. The two couples drove away in corvettes. (One red, one blue). I was totally jealous. I've always wanted a red corvette!!

Sunday morning we headed downtown to the Kansas City Country Club Plaza. What a beautiful area. We had lunch with R & M at Brio Tuscan Grill and then wandered around by the river and in and out of a few shops.

We just happened to be there for the Duck Derby 2008! We watched as over 15,000 rubber ducks were dropped in the river and 'raced' downstream to the big finish line. Very fun. It was all to benefit the Children's Therapeutic Learning Center. I bet they did well! What a cute idea! That was about all we saw of Kansas City! We definitely have that on our list of cities to visit again in the near future.

I also have my Monkey sock to show! My goal is to finish this up later today. With another long car trip coming up this weekend, I should be able to finish the second sock and have a whole pair!! I think that will be some kind of sock knitting record for me! This is done with the Loopy Legends Colorway that Sheri had designed and named for me. 'Janice's Sunshine in Winter'. I LOVE it. They will be fun to wear once that dreaded cold weather comes this fall!

Sumo was spoiled this past weekend and got to spend most of his time at our neighbors house lounging around; going for walks and getting brushed. I'm sure he even got to play some with Miss Molly - Alice's adorable Wheaton Terrier. They've actually become quite good friends, Sumo and Miss Molly, now that she has settled down a bit. What he really wants is to go to Grandma and Grandpas house this weekend.... Too bad it is such a long drive. I think he'll be better off staying at home.

Well, I'll post again soon when I get some pictures from the weekend. Off to start crossing some things off my 'To-Do' list for today.

Until Next Time.....

Thursday, June 26, 2008


Time for another update on our training for the San Antonio Marathon with Team in Training.

Today I am going to show a few 'tools of the trade'! There is not a lot you need for running, but there are a few 'extras' that make things a bit easier.

The most important item bar none are your shoes. Investing in a good pair of shoes can save you many injuries down the road. We went to The Runner's Flat to buy our shoes. They have a sports motion system that videos you running on the treadmill and then they can analyze how you run in different shoe models so that you choose the shoe that is best for you. It was amazing to see the difference in how stable Steve's ankles were in different shoes, and after trying 5 or 6 pair, they helped him choose the pair that provided the most stability. Me, on the other hand, had basically no variance in pronation etc.. and they told me to basically choose whatever color I liked best! I chose purple!

The pod you see strapped onto my shoe is part of a watch system that Steve gave me for our 25th Wedding anniversary. I LOVE technical gadgets, and this one is very cool for running. The pod on my shoe is calibrated for my stride and sends the info to my watch that tells me my pace and my distance. The polar strap is worn around my chest and monitors my heart rate while I run, which is also displayed on the watch. The watch can also keep track of my lap time for each mile. It also has count down timers which I find helpful when doing some of my walk/run training. (I run 4 minutes/walk 2 minutes etc..). Not exactly necessary for running, but it sure is a fun toy.

Running attire is also important. (I mean, you gotta look good!)
Shorts and shirts that are made of light weight fabric (preferably Dri-Fit) are wonderful. And if they happen to be purple or sport the Team in Training logo, well, that much better!

And now that my long runs are exceeding an hour in length (I'll be doing 9 miles this weekend) it is important to stay hydrated along the way. That is where this water belt is very handy. It is extremely light weight and you hardly know that you are wearing it. It has 4 small water bottles that hold enough for my runs and a small pocket to throw in a granola bar. Too bad it doesn't come in purple! Oh, and the hat is necessary to hide my bed head as I usually run right when I get up and my hair can be a little unruly!

That's about it. And everything but the shoes is really optional. (Well, you should wear clothes, but they don't necessarily have to be 'running' clothes).

Training is going well. As I mentioned I am up to 9 miles which feels good. (Well, it usually feels good AFTER I run it!) Steve has had a few set backs with his back and knee, but he ran 4 miles with me this morning and did well. And we just have to make it across the finish line - and with all of the support and encouragement we are getting from friends and family, I know that we will. Knowing that we are doing it for such a great cause helps tremendously! Racing to find a cure. We can do it!!

Until Next Time....

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Summer of the UFO

Allison has declared this the summer of the UFO (Un-Finished Object) and is even starting a KAL (Knit-Along) to help some of these poor UFO's get off the needles. I decided to do an inventory of all of the UFO's that I currently have on my needles, and to hopefully set some goals to get them done. I found 9 of them. (Not too bad I tell myself....)

Here they are in order of time spent sitting on the needles:

1. My Vikings socks. I have one done and one ready to do the heel. But I've forgotten how to do the short row heel. I will take this with me on my knitting weekend with Sheri in July and get them done. I plan on wearing them for the first Vikings game I can watch on our new TV.

2. My Dream in Color Smooshy socks in the Visual Purple colorway. I am not sure why these got set aside. I love the yarn and the colorway. Hmmm..... Not sure when I'll pick these back up. Let me think on that.

3. My Noro scarf. I am so close to being done. I really love the ways the colors change with Noro but the feel of the yarn is quite scratchy. Hopefully after it is washed and blocked it will soften up. It's packed to go with me this weekend and I will finish it. End of story.

4. The first adult sweater that I am knitting. I love the pattern and the color. It got set aside when the weather started getting warmer and it wasn't much fun to have all that wool sitting on my lap. My goal is to pick it up again early this Fall and be wearing it by December 1st.

5. My Swirl socks - which is a pattern designed by my knitting hero Monica. I have one done and am working on the heel of the second. Again, I love the yarn and the pattern. Not sure why they aren't done. August 1st will be my goal for having sock # 2 done. (Sure wish it would count towards Summer of Socks, but the only socks that count are ones that are cast on and knit after June 21st!)

6. My Dream in Color Classy hat. Now this is just ridiculous because all that is left is to cut the yarn and thread it through the stitches and tighten it up. It will also be finished by the end of this weekend. (I probably shouldn't even have included it, but it will make me feel like I'm checking something off my list! Ever added easy things to your 'To Do' list, just so you know you'll have at least a few things you'll be able to check off relatively quickly?? C'mon, you know you have!!)

7. My Circle Tote felted bag. I was really on a roll knitting this a few weeks back but had forgotten half the pattern so I got stuck and haven't picked it up again. I've got the pattern packed for our trips this weekend and hope to get this first side completed.

8. My Noro sock yarn Chevron scarf. Again, I love the colorways of this yarn, but not the feel of it. It may sit a bit, I hate to admit, but I have my eye on another skein of Wollmeise that I'd rather cast on and knit into a scarf. Sorry Noro.

9. My last project is the Chevron Scarf that I just cast on in the Team in Training colors as a prize/incentive to use for those who contribute to my marathon efforts. I technically have until November to get this done, but thought I would try to have it completed at the same time we reach our fund raising goal. Since we are already over half way there, I figure I better keep plugging away on it!

Well, there they are. I'm not sure if it has made me feel more or less overwhelmed. It doesn't seem that bad, until I factor in the multiple projects I'm dying to cast on. Maybe I'll allow myself to cast on a new one for every two I finish. We'll see. But I'll keep you posted!

Until Next Time.....

Monday, June 23, 2008

Day At Home

What a wonderful day. I spent the day at home! Sumo was especially happy to have me home today as he had been feeling a little neglected over the past few weeks. I admit it has been busy with all of the sandbagging; cleaning up etc.. I am happy to report that as of 6:00 Saturday night, our friends' basement was powerwashed out and ready to begin moving into again. There is still work to do, but the bulk of it is done.

I had hoped to spend the day curled up knitting, and I did do a little, but the bulk of the day was spent rearranging our family room for this: A new flat panel TV. We also subscribed for the first time to satellite TV. (Our kids will be shocked!) We've only ever had the 4-5 stations that our antenna has provided, but I have to confess that I enjoy TV and am excited for some of the news; sports; movie etc.. channels.

I was able to cast on my Team in Training Chevron Scarf that I am making as one of the prizes for those who donate to our Team in Training Marathon fund. I adjusted the pattern a little from the first chevron scarf and made it a little narrower as I wanted to make sure I had enough of this wonderful yarn that Liz sent me. I think it is going to be very pretty.

I also went through my stash and came up with 3 yarns that I want to knit into pairs of socks for the Summer of Socks Kal that I joined. That's right. My goal is 3 pairs for the whole summer, which will be pretty good for me. Unlike Monica, who almost has 3 pairs done since SOS 2008 started on Saturday. Sigh. She is my sock knitting hero. Anyways, I think I will start with the middle yarn (My Loopy Legends colorway) and make a pair of Monkey socks. I think I'll even cast them on tonight.
Other sock knitting heros: Wendy; Jessica and of course Sheri is my single sock knitting hero!
Do you have a sock knitting hero?

I thought I would share what I did with my pottery pig spoon holder that I rescued from the flood at our friends' house. I put it in the family room with all of my favorite knitting needles in it. I just love it.

I also took a little time today to check on my garden. I know it sounds crazy, but we really need rain. The ground is rock hard and my plants are just not doing so well. The best growing plants are the 4 little tomato plants that were very sickly looking that K just threw into this pot. They are growing fabulously! I don't know much about gardening, but I'm thinking this is too much plant for this pot, so I will probably have to transplant at least 2 of them??? Maybe when the ground softens up.

Off to take Sumo on a walk. He'll be very excited. I think we'll even jump in the car and walk around the lake. That will be double the excitement! And then home to cast on my first pair of socks for SOS '08.

Until Next Time.....

Friday, June 20, 2008

Clean Up Continues

Well, we have made great progress cleaning up our friends' basement after the flood. Here is a picture I took this morning that is taken from the same angle as the first picture in my previous post. Most of the debris has been hauled to the curb and now the power washers are put in to play. Still a long ways to go, but we've come a long ways thanks to many volunteers who have come and been willing to get very dirty!!

A real life (and back) saver in the whole process has been our 4 wheeler that we brought over to use in the clean up process. It's going to need a good bath after all is said and done, but I think if 4 wheelers could enjoy things, it is enjoying this. (And I think would be happier full of mud and working than clean and shiney sitting in a barn unused!) But who knows?

I mentioned before that our friend is a potter and used to make a living selling his pottery at art fairs. (That was years ago, but there is still a lot of his pottery in the basement). He was best known for his animal mugs and spoon holders etc.. They gave me this pig spoon holder as my reminder of the Flood of 2008. Isn't it adorable? He is a very talented artist!

I found this little treasure in one of the shovelfuls of mud that came out of the basement. It's a Precious Moments figurine.

I took it home and have cleaned it up and am taking it back over tomorrow to put in their house. The name of it is "He Leadeth Me"... on the bottom I wrote: "Through the flood of 2008".
Seemed appropriate!

I'm off to do a little shopping. A friend sent me a picture of some new shoes that have been specifically designed for the Iowa flood waters. I'm thinking I need a pair or two.. what do you think? ;-)

Until Next Time....

P.S. No TNT update this week... but stay tuned next Thursday for the next one!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Flood Damage

The last couple of days Steve and I have spent quite a bit of time at the home of some very dear friends who live on the river and were deeply affected by the floods. During the floods of 1993, they had gotten 3.5 feet of water in their basement, so that is what they were prepared for. But that was not to be. They got a record 8.5 feet of water in their basement!! Fortunately they had 9 foot ceilings, so their living space on the second floor was spared. Their neighbors were not so fortunate!!

Yesterday was the first day you could actually drive up to their house in a car, so we spent the afternoon and evening surveying the situation and coming up with a clean up plan. We brought over our 4-wheeler and trailers; tools; garbage cans etc.. etc.. and are ready to dig in. Today several volunteers showed up and are making great progress. To be honest, it was just hard to know where to begin - as you can see in the dazed look of this still clean volunteer!!

The water was picky in what it chose to destroy and what it left intact. This lovely evergreen was completely bowled over.

On the other hand, there were many many pots and vases that our friend had made (he's a potter) that were completely in tact and had even remained on the trays they had dried on - even though they had floated out of the house! Crazy!

Appliances; LP tanks; docks etc.. are still being located blocks and blocks away. In fact, a neighbor showed up with our friends' mailbox which they had found over 5 blocks downstream in the woods. And who knows who this belongs to?

Well, off to take a bit of a nap and make some bars and then head back. Not much knitting going on with everything else, but soon, very soon.

Until Next Time....

Sunday, June 15, 2008

My Little Town

First of all I want to say a big thank you for all the phone calls; emails and messages checking in to see how we are doing with all of the flooding. We are far enough from the water that we have had no problems. I am trying not to take that for granted! There are many who have lost homes and businesses, and my heart goes out to them.

Steve and I finally went downtown with the camera to take a few pictures now that the worst of the flooding is over. Thousands of sandbags stand in tribute to the volunteer efforts that went in to save our little town. And they did their job!!! I have to tell you, tho, that these are much heavier full of water than they were when it was dry sand. I'm not even sure I could lift them at this point!!!

Here is one of the spots that I spent a couple of days helping at when I was downtown sandbagging last week. It's amazing to think that each and every one of these sandbags was filled by hand. One person would shovel the sand; one would hold the bag open; one would tie the bag shut and then others would haul them away. And people just jumped in and helped. Talk about a sense of community. Now comes the tough task of cleaning up. And the task will be even harder down stream in Cedar Rapids and Iowa City!

But as far as downtown Cedar Falls, it is dry and will be open tomorrow for business!! Some stores and restaurants were even able to be open this weekend!

I think I may have to head downtown tomorrow for lunch at one of our favorite restaurants on main street. We were headed here for dinner last Monday night with M when we first realized the severity of what was headed our way. Boy! It's been quite a week!!

I don't want to forget to say a Happy Father's Day to my dad!! Sure wish we didn't live quite so far away or I'd stop by with some circus peanuts and to skunk you in a game of cribbage!!! Maybe in a few weeks! Thanks for being a great dad and grandpa! (And now GREAT Grandpa!!) See you in a few weeks!!

Thursday, June 12, 2008


Well, it is Thursday again and time for me to update everyone on our Team in Training effort. (Steve and I will be running in the San Antonio Marathon in November to raise awareness and funds for much needed research to find a cure for Leukemia and Lymphoma) I'm continuing to build my base and am up to 7 miles for my weekly long runs. Steve is having a set back with his knees and back giving him trouble, but we are still months from our race and I know that once he gets past this set back he will do fine.

I thought I would just have today be a purple day. Purple is often a color used when raising awareness for cancer and is the primary color in the Team in Training logo etc.. I love the color purple and have been noticing it even more. This is my Clematis plant that grows on a wire frame at the front of my house. Each year it is fuller and fuller and is just breath taking, I think.

These are some Indian Paintbrush plants that are in Galena. Again, I just love the hue of purple.

Even Sumo sports a purple collar!!

I was excited to receive in the mail today the yarn that Liz dyed for me to make a Team in Training colored scarf as one of the prizes for those who donate to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society through our Team in Training efforts. The colors are absolutely perfect and I can't wait to cast on. Not only that, but she also dyed some matching roving that I plan to spin as soon as I get more time on my spinning wheel under my belt!! Liz donated not only this yarn and the roving, but 2 other wonderful skeins of her MacKintosh yarn.
(She also sent a skein of Hawkeye colored yarn for K!!) Thanks Liz! You're the best!
(Liz is currently evacuated from her home in Iowa City because of the floods!!)

Here is the roving Liz sent. I really do need to get back to spinning. I keep thinking life is going to settle down......

And although it isn't purple, I thought I would show another prize that a very generous anonymous knitter sent for me to give away. It is a sock kit from Yarnissima that features an incredible pattern and a skein of Wollmeise sock yarn. I think I will donate to myself so I can be in the drawing!! (If you are interested in donating, see my fundraising page here.)

Thanks for checking in. Keep your eye out for the color purple. And when you see it, remember all of those who are affected each year by cancer. We can make a difference.

Until Next Time.....

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Rising Waters

The weather continues to be a problem here in Iowa. We are having record flooding and people and businesses are being evacuated from downtown areas and those closest to the river. M and I spent much of yesterday downtown Cedar Falls sandbagging and I am getting ready to head down again this morning. So far the levee is holding and downtown Cedar Falls is dry. But that could change with more storms on the way. Many other cities near us are already under water - Waterloo; Waverly; Cedar Rapids; Laporte City to just name a few. This is a photo taken at a major intersection coming into the Cedar Falls area. Many many roads are closed and it's tricky just getting around town. Thousands of people have been evacuated from their homes. I'll write more later. Off to sandbag.....

A neighbor just emailed to say we made the front page of


Until Next Time

Monday, June 09, 2008

Weekend Woes

Well, it is Monday and Steve is back to work after a pretty rough weekend. Let's just say that he and this walker were best friends for a few days! On Friday his back went out and he had a pretty miserable time. Our neighbor had this walker and I picked it up for Steve to try and it really helped take a little weight off his back so he could get around. He is feeling a bit better this morning and decided to try and get to work. I'm 'on call' though, in case he needs some help.

I had a few knitting 'woes' this weekend.. but nothing too major. I was cruising along on my Circle tote while we were over in Galena (where Steve's back went out) and got to this point and realized I had forgotten the rest of the pattern at home so I couldn't continue. Bummer. I had the time and motivation to make some real progress.

So I packed up that project and decided to start on the hat for my niece to match the baby sweater and hat I have made her. So I got out my yarn and size 7 needles that the pattern called for and knit away. It went quite fast and I love how it turned out. Except for that it is way too small!! (What do you mean, did I swatch??? um, no....) Anyways, I think this may be headed to my friend Allison who is collecting hats for Relay for Life. Perhaps over time I'll even be able to convince myself that I actually did it this size on purpose!!

As far as 'woes' go.. I think Steve's weekend woes were worse!

The hightlight of the weekend was driving up to Minneapolis for my niece's graduation open house. Steve and I had planned on driving up together, but he certainly wasn't up for the ride. So he stayed home and let Sumo take care of him while I headed north. I had hoped to be of some help while I was there.

One of my jobs was to rescue a turtle that had got stuck in the fence of the vegetable garden. (Not sure how he got in there!) I can't believe all of the memories that came flooding back of all the time spent at our family cabin in Minnesota while I was growing up. We used to catch turtles by the dozens and have turtle races etc.. I still remembered exactly how to pick it up so that the claws wouldn't scratch me when it tried to swim away. My friends Renae and Cheryl were helping in the kitchen and Renae is pretending to touch the turtle. But don't let her fool you. She doesn't have turtle skills like me!!

I drove off in the morning and forgot my camera, so I don't have many of the photos I wish I could have taken. It was great seeing all of my brothers and sister in laws; many nieces and nephews; my folks and even some of my aunts and uncles. My mom sent a few photos.. including this one. It is one of the many fruit bouquets that they had. My niece works at Edible Arrangements and these are some of the arrangements they create. YUM-MY!! And there was cake. I love cake. I brought some home for Steve and MOST of it made it home. That's all I'm saying.

The weather here continues to be crazy. We are having storm after storm and the rainful is nearing record amounts. Flooding is all around. Our yard is a mess after all of the storms with branches everywhere and a few big tree limbs down. With Steve's back out, it looks like it's up to me to fire up the 'ole chain saw. Should be fun. I picked up M on the way home from Minneapolis yesterday and she is going to spend the week with us as she has another interview today and other things to do in the area. And she wants to learn to knit!! So we will probably curl up in front of Ice Age (which she has never seen!) and cast on.

Until Next Time....