Sunday, December 02, 2012

My first blog post from my phone

This is the first year I've really wanted to celebrate Christmas since moving to the Midwest so off to Menards for the tree and the necessary accoutrements for said tree. For those of you on the West Coast,  Menards is like Home Depot. I selected a Fraser fir. Nice deep dark color and the pine scent is really strong.  I named the tree Lucy because it's not a Charlie Brown type. I found some retro looking glass ornaments to dress up  Lucy.
I feel like I'm getting the spirit of the holidays again.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Big red trucks and dad's socks

Lots has happened since my last post. I wont bore everyone with the details but things are much better in my life.

As I talked about in my last post, I'm driving a semi-truck now. I drive a dedicated route twice a week where I carry the mail from Illinois to the Fed-Ex hub in Memphis Tn. It's a small trucking company with only 5 trucks and only make two runs per week. I leave again Saturday night and return Monday. One of the positives I've found with the time behind the wheel is audiobooks. I'm checking them out from the local library and finishing one book each run.

Here is my ride... 

My knitting has taken a back seat but I did finish a pair of socks for my Dad two days ago. He turned 80 last August and I wanted to make him some socks he can wear around the house when he gets a little cold. 
 The Huddle house is a cross between The Waffle House and Denny's. 24/7 and the you can order anything from the menu anytime. Breakfast when I want it is a plus in my book. Being from the West Coast, I feel sheltered from these eateries. Not enjoying Waffle House until a few years ago and now Huddle House. Just once in a while I stop and enjoy the food. Usually I cook leftover casseroles of some sort in the microwave in my truck.

Here is the finished object just before I sent them off to my Dear Dad. The color is much richer than the picture shows though. He wears a size 8 EEEE so I had to modify the pattern quite a bit but I think they will fit just fine. 

Life Is Good

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The soon to be Traveling Twisted

Another long break from the blog but things are looking up. Just a little update on what is going on....  If you have been a follower of the blog you know I've been working on my degree in Program Management. The job market is hard here in the Midwest so I've taken things into my own hands. Last month I started a truck driving course at the local community college to make ends meet until I can finish my degree. I've always had a fascination for being a truck driver. If you know me, you would know I LOVE to drive. That being said, I was always afraid it would take the fun out of driving if I did. Being in my early 50's and having the opportunity to give it a try I jumped in with both feet. Ten weeks of training and you will test for your CDL, that’s a commercial driver’s license for those of you wondering…

Prior to the beginning of class the obsession of learning all there was to know had started. One of the prerequisites of the class was to find a doctor who could give me a department of transportation physical exam before the first day of class. I also went to the local driver’s license station and picked up the study book.  The other part was I had to talk to the program director for the local community college and he informed me that I would need to pass my permit before the 2nd week of class. Me being me, I wanted to pass the test before my first day of class. I opted for the night class so I would have the opportunity to go take the tests during the day time besides the night class was $300.00 cheaper.

When I arrived at the first night of class I held my permit to drive and in the first week was determined to pass the tests for all of the endorsements available; Tanker, Doubles & Triples and hazmat. On the beginning of week three, I applied to the TSA for the federal approval on my hazmat certificate.

The first two weeks were all classroom study but on the third week we were supposed to be behind the wheel. The instructor asked me if I would change to the day class because of a disproportionate number of students to trucks in the two classes. This wound up being another week of classroom study with the head of the department. The Day class spends three weeks in the classroom so I had to retake some of the test over again and I was able to watch some films that were not shown in the night class. On day three of the day class we were scheduled for a field trip and when this was canceled the instructor took us out in the truck and we went for our first drive in the truck. I’m sure if you saw my face, it was ear to ear grins. The instructor took each of us and pushed our comfort zone. This was So FUN!
So here is the plan;
1.     Finish the class and obtain my CDL
2.     Continue to take my online classes towards my initial degree while finishing the truck driving school
3.     Drive for an over the road trucking company and in my off duty time stay current with my class work. As I finish my degree, I will evaluate the options for obtaining my master’s degree (MBA).
4.     The knitting will be a part of this but the school work comes first.

Life is full of challenges, changes and surprises. I saw this saying a few years ago and it said; “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain”. I have taken this statement as a way to keep my head up when life throws you a few curve balls.

The first day in the truck the instructor said double clutch shifting a semi-truck is like a dance, 1-2-3-,  1-2-3. Some trucks like to dance a little faster than others and some like a waltz. I felt like I was stepping on my partner’s feet most of the day.  It has been a very humbling experience for someone who enjoys driving a manual transmission car. The only similarities are that they both have a shifter. All I can say is that we have all made huge progress and the end is only a few weeks away. Did I tell you how much fun this is!!!!! ?  

Here is a picture of us from last week when we took a road trip west of here to Washington Iowa for a sort of surprise visit to one of the student’s parent’s house. She texted her parents while we were in-route. 

 The instructor is on the far left. 
This lady backed the rig down her parents dead end street.

As far as knitting and spinning goes, I'm spinning some milk fiber right now. I plan to cast on a pair of socks for my Father maybe tonight or tomorrow. Christmas is coming soon. :)

Life is Good

Saturday, January 21, 2012

One Word

I was reading through my Bloglines and I found two instances of this "one word" reference. One of my friends, Laura, also formerly from Southern California saw it on one of the blogs she reads, Rainy, and as it turns out she was one of my friends too.

So let me explain this a little... The way I see this is you chose one word that you will use as your mantra or target for the new year. The one word that will inspire you and either drive you towards your goal or gives you safety or solace when you're not at ease.

I thought about this for a few days and in multiple ways of how it would influence me.

My word for 2012 is Arcadia

Merriam Webster defines it as "a region or scene of simple pleasure and quiet"

the Origin of Arcadia:

Region of ancient Greece frequently chosen as background for pastoral poetry

First Known Use: circa 1890

Those of you from California or familiar with Southern California recognize the word by the city or Arcadia. After reading the definition, I didn't think of the City as how it feels to me.

I started with the word Paradise and looked for a synonym that was more fitting but held the same feeling for me. When I saw the word Arcadia and read the definition, I saw how I could apply the word to my life. I want to create a place of solace in my life. I will strive for simple pleasures. You are probably wondering about me wanting quiet... I want to strive to find quiet in my mind. Easing of the stress in my life that just feels so counterproductive and doesn't help anyway. When I lay my head down at night, I feel good about my day and my mind is free of the noise I can't control. When I lived in California, I would often go to the ocean and find solace. Feeling so small next to the power of the ocean and feeling the breeze wash over me cleansing my soul. I want to find that place in my mind that can give me the release feelings because I'm not near the ocean anymore. Better yet is to change how I see my life so I'm not holding onto the burdens that would make me want to drive to the ocean to purify my mind.

When I listen to music and hear mind stimulating questions I often pose them to myself or question my life choices. My life is never empty of questions, sometimes simple and some are deep or complex that requires one to question your emotions. Some questions ask you to learn about subjects that may feel foreign but it's all good. I thirst for knowledge and new experiences that lead to new questions. I see my life as a poem or song but sometimes the background isn't always what I hoped for but when I apply Arcadia to my life I hope I can make the canvas of my life more pastoral, simple or clean. I see it this way, if life is like a song then you not only want to feel the meaning of words but hear the melody in your head. The lyrics often speak to me but if the melody doesn't feel good then it feels incomplete or vise-versa.

Arcadia, my word for 2012

OK enough of the deep thought :)

Life is Good

Thursday, January 12, 2012

It's winter here in Iowa.....

Yesterday it was 57F and I was able to take a nice hard bike ride but the weather went crazy late last night. This morning there was snow on the ground and it snowed pretty much all day.
This is the view out the back door....

This was the view out the front window.

The National weather service says we had 6 1/2" in the last 24 hours. 12F isn't that cold when you are shoveling and walking behind the snow blower. It was good exercise anyway.

Many of you may not know that I'm attending school full time and I finished my week's work today. We finish a class every 5 weeks and the new week begins each Tuesday. My time from now until next Monday will be spent reading a how to manual on the Canon 7D camera. We are shooting a wedding in about 15 weeks and I want to be proficient with the 7D by then.

I talked about providing some pictures of the first bobbin of my latest spinning project...

The color is a little off but here it is. The card with the fiber says it's Ruby Red. What a joy to spin the BFL. I'm looking forward to the next two ounces.

update... I ate 1416 calories, exercised 1248 calories away. The net of 168 calories against the 1996 calorie budget. 

Off to spin a little bit before I turn in for the night.

Life is good

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The last hurrah before the cold white stuff comes...

We had a 57 degree day with snow looming for tonight and single digits.  So I took this opportunity to take my last ride before the cold weather shuts down the bicycle riding season for a few months. We have a nice bike/walking path about a mile from the house. An hour of hard riding and burning 930 calories felt good. For those of you who care, my food intake for today was 1381 calories. Today was the weigh in day and I lost two pounds for the week.

I'm spinning the BFL and will finish the first two ounces late tonight. I forgot how easy and fun it is to spin BFL. The fiber drafts so well and the spinning looks so soft and even. Tomorrow I will take some pictures of the first bobbin and show you all.

Time to spin some more now :)

Life is good


Sunday, January 08, 2012

spinning the green

I finished spinning the "greener pastures" tonight. The singles are finished and I still need to ply it but I want the singles to rest overnight.

It looks pretty good and feels really soft. I'm anxious to see how it looks plied.

Next on the spinning wheel is going to be a mixing experiment. I have two braids of fiber that I thought were the same colorway but I was wrong. I should have looked closer at the braids on the shelf. One is dyed oatmeal BFL and one is South African Fine.

The one in the upper left is the South African Fine. The BFL is the darker braid. My plans are to split these and make 2 two plies and then cable ply them. Sooooo, it will be 2 ounces of the BFL and 2 ounces of the SAF and then make a two ply yarn. Repeat that process and when I have two 2 ply yarns of mixed fiber I will cable ply the two to make a 4 ply totaling 8 ounces.

Yesterday I went for a bike ride for almost an hour and since I was riding alone I felt the need to really push myself hard. I burned 893 calories in the 59 minute ride. Almost 20 mph with the wind and 15 mph against the cold wind in my face. It was 42F so wearing the thermals and a wool hat were required. I felt really good though and my efforts are going to pay off soon. Yesterday I burned 4017 calories and ate 1478 calories . I'm working to keep my daily intake under 1500 calories per day.

Tonight, I made something new for dinner and it turned out pretty good I think. Behold my three cheese spinach Manicotti.

Quite good and only 480 calories on that plate too. It would have been easier with a pipping bag but it was not that hard. Here is the recipe if you wish to try it. I used non-fat cottage cheese and part skim ricotta in my version.   I know I was going to talk about White Buffalo today but I will have to put that off for another time.

Life is good. 

Friday, January 06, 2012

Happy Friday everyone.

I'm working on keeping the gut from coming back. A few months ago we took a trip to see a long time friend Renata from California who moved to St Paul MN. She shared that she was using something called a FitBit to track her daily activity. It's more than just a pedometer with some pretty cool software that runs on your pc and smart phone. It tracks your activity throughout the day and even shares how deep you sleep at night.
I was using a calorie counter on my phone for the last month. Yes, I was counting calories and realized how bad my eating habits were and the amount or portion sizes of the food I was eating. I changed counters today to Lose It because it auto syncs with the Fitbit and the exercise app Endmondo that tracks my efforts on the bicycle and my walks with the GPS in my phone.  Why all the effort? I'm trying to get back to 185lbs and stay there. Last Summer I was really sick with gall stones and kidney stones at the same time and was down to 183 lbs but my poor eating habits and lack of exercise took over and I was back to 208lbs again. No this isn't going to be a diet blog I just wanted to share my struggles. The counting calories will end someday when I can reprogram my mind to eat what I need and not what I want and to get off the couch a little more and use the gym that hides in our basement. We have a bowflex and a lifecyle elliptical that go unused most of the time like most of the same gear in other homes. Daily use is my first goal.

Usually I have my phone with me next to the water bottle so I can listen to music but I positioned the phone on a bookcase across the room on a timer to capture this self portrait....  Yes my head almost hits the ceiling.  This week I'm trying to "run" on the elliptical for 30 minutes each day on the "hill" program level 9 at 80 rpms. This works out to about 470 calories burned in 30 minutes. Next week I want to raise this to 30 minutes twice daily.  Burning an additional 900 plus calories a day will improve my cardiovascular health and make the weight loss less focused on diet and more balanced with exercise.

OK, enough about that..........

Here is a the first bobbin of spinning for the new year.

I'm spinning this in a semi worsted style and with a new approach. I've pre-drafted and slowed way down giving me a more even single with better consistency. The colorway is "Greener Pastures".  Not sure what it will turn into but the green is really growing on me. It will become a two ply fingering weight, maybe for a hat or ??? Last week I found a group on Ravelry that is promoting that you spin a pound of fiber a month. I'm not sure I will get that ambitious but I'm going to try to spin a braid (4 oz) a week for as long as I can.   The change in spinning direction to accommodation the change to continental style of knitting was quite natural so far. The brake was not working the way I liked it since installing the woollee winder a few months ago. The wooden bobbins were reacting differently than the plastic Majacraft Style bobbins that came with the wheel. the manufacturer of the wheel included some cotton line for those sensitive to the sound that the Dacron line may make. I swapped the brake like and now it works like a dream again.   Tomorrow I may share my thoughts on White Buffalo and my appreciation for warmer "sturdy" fibers. The Canadian's know cold.
 some fun reading. 1

Life is Good

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Happy New Year everyone.......

Just a few updates; Tonight was my first Iowa Caucus. I participated and it was quite interesting to see how this works after voting for 32 years in California. It was held at one of the local High Schools here in town. I thought we would be in the Gym but they had a HS basketball game going on so we met in the cafeteria.  I read about what was going to happen before I arrived so I sort of understood the goings on.

These are the people who live around me or at least the ones who showed up. I sat down and met some nice people and partook in the process by casting my ballet. Before the vote, each candidate had one supporter speak in support of them by one of the constituents. No voting booths, just a slip of paper with all the names of the candidates in my party. They came around with a paper grocery bag to collect the ballets. They tallied the votes before I left and there were only 74 votes cast. I could have became a delegate if I really wanted to. We could select 5 people and three alternates to go to the state meetings later this year. I passed on the opportunity but maybe in two years.

I did take advantage of the time and knit a little.  My first caucus and so why not knit at my first caucus? I didn't see anyone else knitting but when has that stopped me from knitting? I'm not a caucus virgin anymore.

Last post I talked about the snobby swap I was in. Well, now that it's over for me I can talk about it in detail here.  Here is the package I sent.

This was the cowl I sent. Pretty Thing by the Yarn Harlot.
My down stream swap partner was 8 months pregnant when the box arrived. She asked for a WPI gage so I ordered the one I love from my Etsy source. I included some fun candy that I enjoyed as a child and a baby knits book so she can create some toys for her new daughter. As a bonus I shared 5 ounces of pin drafted Cormo for her to spin.

You can read the thread here if you want.

This is what arrived today for me....

 Clockwise from the top; A handspun hand knit fair isle hat. a beautiful card with a lovely sentiment from a magnificent spinner knitter. 2 ounces of purple cultivated silk. Three local treats from her home in Idaho. Huckleberry jam, Huckleberry coffee and Moose poop( chocolate chunk toffee).
The people in this swap/group on Ravelry are amazing spinners. The yarn looks machine spun and the construction is flawless. I felt honored to participate.

I'm spinning some merino right now. 4.2 ounces heading towards a 2 ply fingering weight semi worsted yarn.

I'm working on converting my normal knitting style to continental so I'm spinning this counter clockwise and will ply clockwise. Green is not my normal color but it's growing on me.

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season and are looking forward to the new year like I am.

No goals or resolutions this year, I'm just going to do the best I can at being me.

Life is Good