Category Archives: Sport

This sock climbed Mt. Washington

The sock that climbed Mt. Washington

This is the sock that climbed Mt. Washington on Saturday.

Literally.

What happened is that my foot got stuck between two rocks halfway between the Lake of the Clouds hut and the summit and when I pulled up, the outer sole of the hiking boot tore away, leaving only the inner sole. After a couple hundred feet in misty, slippery conditions, the inner sole fell away, exposing my (handknit) wool socks. Then my second boot started losing its outer sole, but luckily it stayed/flopped on for the rest of the hike.

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Amazingly, the socks came home no worse for the wear. They’ll probably be a little dirt stained, but no holes! My knitting has finally impressed my two boys.  🙂

Hiking Mt. Washington (6,289 feet or 1,917 meters) was … an experience. Had I known the trail we were taking was basically an uphill rock scramble most of the way, I would have backed out. At one point I fell pretty hard on my bum hip, but as of today, I haven’t felt any twinges of back pain. On the other hand, I’m kind of proud I made it to the top, even though I was the slowest, dead-last person in our group. (DH stayed behind with me because I was That Slow. He was my rock!) We never got cold, we had no serious injuries, and even though the wind was gusting 50 to 70 mph near the summit, it didn’t bother us too much. Another high point was witnessing O fall in love with hiking. He was like a mountain goat! Not only did he keep up with the group, a group I might add that was amazingly fit and experienced, he climbed down the mountain with them! (DH and I were too late, and with my wrecked boot(s) in no condition to hike down so we took the cog rail).

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Now all O is talking about is what mountain we can climb next summer. Uh-oh. I told DH never again would I do something as crazy as hike Mt. Washington, but after a couple days, I thought, “I should try it again, but next time be better prepared and in better shape.” I learned a lot about myself climbing that “hill,” so in retrospect it was a good experience.

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I just don’t want to experience it quite like that again!

Last day of June

Hard to believe that July 4 is almost upon us. I must have mentioned before that my absolute favorite holiday of the year is July 4, which puzzles a lot of people, especially those who love Thanksgiving and Christmas with a passion. For me, Independence Day is the perfect holiday — summer foods like salads and fresh veggies are abundant, parades where you get candy thrown at you, bagpipes, floats, sunshine and warmth … what’s not to love? Plus it’s my father’s birthday, so we always have a delicious cake to anticipate. July 4 always seems to be gloriously sunny and warm, unlike Thanksgiving and Christmas, which fall at the darkest and most dreary time of year.

This year, O will not be celebrating the 4th with us in Connecticut as we dropped him off at camp yesterday:

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I look so much like my paternal grandmother from the side, it’s scary!

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This is the second time he’s been away to camp, but it’s also the longest — a full week. At this camp, it was the last year where he could go for just a week — next year, when he’s 13, it’s a two-week stay (oh, and I hope he wants to go back. The possibility of two weeks of maternal freedom has me almost giddy!) We were lucky in that his best friend since first grade was able to join him (you can see his friend’s feet in the bottom photo) because O was not at all enthusiastic about camp until L was able to go. But the night before we left and were packing, O seemed pretty excited, and when we arrived he seemed to hit it off with a couple of the other boys in the cabin. We really liked the two counselors assigned to the cabin, one of whom is a World Cup fan. He told O he would keep him informed of all the scores and plays this week; I, on the other hand, am his Wimbledon contact, although he’ll have to wait for my letters to hear how Andy Murray and friends are faring.

When I returned home from dropping him off, my husband predicted I’d be missing O by the end of the evening. He lost. I am enjoying the quiet house immensely! I have, however, already written and posted the world’s most boring letter to O. The nice thing about camp is they don’t allow campers to bring cell phones and iPads — instead, communication with parents it through the mail (or, God forbid, an emergency call by one of the counselors).

The camp is in Connecticut, so I’ll be heading to my parents’ house on the lake Thursday night, spending the 4th with them and celebrating my father’s 75th (!!), then picking the boys up early Saturday morning and bringing them over to Grampa and Grandma’s. O wants L to meet Carolina, my youngest brother’s golden retriever, and show L how he can drive my father’s pontoon boat so Saturday will be a busy day. Let’s hope the glorious weather holds out!

I do have some finished knitting projects to show but it means dragging my dressform outside for good light. I have some interesting thrift shop finds to show you, including a crocheted blanket that I picked up for $5. I’ve also returned to biking on my two-wheeler and this week alone biked 55 miles. On Saturday I did a 30-mile trip to Cambridge and back:

Made it! Charles river, Cambridge

View of the Charles, June 28, 2014

I was beat that night and suffered a nasty headache and sunburn on my lower thighs, but I was proud that I made it, especially since just six months ago I was struggling to stand up without yelping in pain. 🙂

My goal this summer is to re-read all of Jane Austen’s novels. The first I’m tackling is Mansfield Park, which I’m enjoying immensely. I forgot how decisive Austen was in drawing these characters; her touch here was not as deft as say in Pride and Prejudice. Fanny Price’s goodness can be a bit tiresome, but I’m still enjoying the re-read and noticing things I didn’t get the first time around.

TGIJ!

And yes! Spring is finally here in New England. 🙂 Some years I can start my garden in early May, but it was fairly cold here right up until Memorial Day. This week the temps are in the 70s and 80s, so maybe we’ll just go straight into summer … which is okay with me.

I decided a few weeks ago not to do a big garden this year. The biggest reason is my back, but since I’m planning to spend a lot of time in Connecticut this summer helping my parents out, having a garden adds more to-do items to my list. Instead, I asked O what he would really like to grow this year, and he said, “Watermelon!” Thus fully half of the fenced-in garden is dedicated to watermelon. I put in a few herbs (lavender, basil, rosemary), and then built a raised garden:

Raised garden bed

I basically followed the instructions I found on The Crafty Gemini (video was especially helpful). My husband let me borrow his electric power drill, and once I got the hang of drilling holes and screwing in the deck screws, putting the bed together was a piece of cake. The only difficult part of the operation was buying wood at Home Depot, where I was ignored and then talked down to, I suspect because of my chromosomal makeup. Time to look for a new place to buy lumber! Also, I want my own power drill. 🙂

This week O has been helping me fill this sucker with dirt and topsoil. I had hoped to get the soil to the top of the bed, but I think it’s good enough to grow kale and lettuce. Next summer I’m going to build a couple more beds using some scrap lumber.

Knitting

I finished my Mind the Gap socks a couple weeks ago. Nothing much to say about the pattern (btw, when does a pattern become your pattern? I’ve knit these plain vanilla socks so many times with a few personal tweaks that I don’t even need instructions.) The yarn was a pleasure to work with. I bought it through Trailing Cloud’s Etsy shop, thanks to Kristie’s post some months ago. I’m pleased I got the stripes to match on both socks, although I ran into orange striping while “kitchenering” one sock.

Mind the Gap socks

I had started on a plain vanilla cardigan last month, but today decided to rip it out and use the Cascade 220 yarn to knit Andi Satterlund’s Miette cardigan. I need more stylish sweaters, and Miette fits the bill. I also ordered some yarn through WEBS to knit another Kate Davies’ owl sweater for the fall and two skeins of hemp yarn for summer kerchiefs.

Weight

My weight did not budge in May despite my working out at the gym and zealously watching my food intake. That said, my pants are definitely getting looser. A couple weeks ago I bought a pair of size 8 jeans, which I thought I’d be able to fit into by the end of June. Well, I ended up fitting into them this weekend and wore them comfortably all day in Newport! So what I think is happening is that I’m burning fat and gaining muscle, which doesn’t change the number on the scale (muscle weighs more than fat) but muscle takes less room that fat, thus why I seem to feel smaller.

At any rate, I’m still heavier than I’d like to be — my body still has visible pockets of fat — so I’ve made some tweaks to my diet, instituted some new habits (drinking plenty of water!), and set a few goals for the month. Stay tuned …

Saying goodbye

My brother Matt finished out his year at the International Yacht Restoration School in Newport, RI, and is presently driving out west to Oregon to fight fires with the forest service. Here are some pictures of last weekend’s boat launch ceremony. Yes, that’s my crazy brother swimming in 58 degree water, towing his sailboat into harbor. Such a show off!

There was a woman next to us proclaiming loudly that people die jumping in the water like that. Not this guy!

John and Matt, IYRS, May 31, 2014

Matt is talking to John, who bought “Matt’s boat.” The sailboat will be moored at a local yacht club to be used by John’s children and grandchildren.

IYRS student boat launch, May 31, 2014

I loved the look of concentration on Matt’s face. He’s an excellent sailor!

Snowy Sunday (and a finished object)

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Our first major snow of the season and a good day to take photos!

I have to admit, I hate being photographed. It stems from my mother always saying, “You never did take a good photo,” so whenever a camera comes out, I freeze and feel self-conscious.

Earlier this year I decided, dammit … it’s time to get comfortable in front of the lens. It would be really sad if someday O didn’t have any nice pictures to remember me by. That sounds terribly morbid, but one thing I love to do is look at old pictures of my parents, grandparents, and other family members. I can’t imagine not having those photos to remind me of all the happy times we had together.

Today’s goal was not only to get a good shot of me, but get one of me and O, as well as some photos of the dropped stitch cowl I finished a couple weeks ago. The picture of me and O together didn’t really work out because O hates being photographed, but what I did get is kind of arty and nice. The cowl is a gift for someone who loves this shade of blue/green. 🙂 I knit another in a rich gold, which I’m keeping for myself, and will be knitting up another in a variegated blue/green/cream yarn for a dear friend.

As for the photos, I have to admit I like the silly one of me at the end the best.

I was going to go snowshoeing this afternoon, but I know my snowshoes will slip off my boots and put me in an irritable mood (they’re about a size too big for me). Last weekend I was looking at new snowshoes up at REI in Reading … I’m pretty sure they’ll be going on sale after the holidays, so I’m going to hold tight, but it’s tough with all that pretty snow and miles of trail behind our house.

Sandy, don’t let the door hit you on your way out

Considering our experience with last Halloween’s nor’easter, this year’s Sandy was a bit of a non-event here in greater Boston. We lost power for about an hour early Monday morning (last year we were without power for four days), no trees hit our house (we had two trees fall in previous storms at our last house), and all we have to do is rake up the yard a bit. And since we hadn’t raked leaves before the storm, this is something we have to do anyway.

Yesterday I took the bike out and ventured down the trail.

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I was able to get over and under these fallen trees (the one I scooted under looked well jammed into another tree. I moved quickly!)

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Unfortunately there was no getting around this mess, but I only had to backtrack a couple yards to connect to a path that brought me around to the local middle school. The detour added only ten minutes to my grocery shopping trip.

Speaking of shopping trips …

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My husband has been urging me to kit up my bike properly if I’m to succeed at my year-without-a-car experiment, so I drove over to Burlington and plopped down beaucoup dollares for this zippered grocery bag. I’m what you might term parsimonious about certain things. I’m generous about spending money on my son or a good friend, and I don’t mind spending money on food or yarn (after all, the yarn will make mittens, hats, sweaters … practical items with a long shelf life!), but it just about kills me to crack open my wallet for an $80 bike bag. I fretted over the cost all afternoon. But I know it will be a good investment and besides, I saved about $80 in gas in the last two weeks by not driving my car so that’s how I’m trying to look at it. Still, I’m feeling guilty. Damn Scottish genes!

Tonight is Halloween, my son’s favorite holiday. He doesn’t care about the candy … it’s all about the costume! He even mentioned not trick-or-treating this year; his friend isn’t into candy either, and they were just going to walk around the neighborhood doing their ninja moves. I put a quick stop to that idea, because dammit, if I’m going to walk around in the cold with them, I want some Almond Joys, M&Ms (peanut, please), and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups as a reward.

A day off

Today I decided to close my laptop and enjoy the weather.

Ready to roll

I packed up some snacks, ID, my cell phone and a bit of cash then hit the trail.

Bikepath

I don’t know if you can see them on the trail up ahead, but it looks like other people didn’t want to sit at their desks either.

Bedford trail head

I headed over to Lexington center, which is about a 25-minute ride (for me … I’m slow). Depot Park in Bedford marks one end of the Minuteman Bikeway; the other end is near Alewife Station in Cambridge. It’s usually very busy but today the path was mostly filled with office workers on a lunchtime walk.

Green smoothie

Once I got to Lexington center, I sat in the green and drank my greens. My son thinks the color is disgusting, but I think it’s lovely. Ingredients are bananas, dates, frozen mango, three handfuls of kale, and coconut milk. Yummy and very filling.

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I stopped by one of my favorite yarn shops, Wild & Wooly. The ladies who work there are always helpful and fun to chat with. When I was heavily pregnant with O, they taught me the long-tail cast on, which, if you’re a knitter, you know is one of the best cast-ons evah. So I’m always forever grateful to them. This was the first time I noticed a display of Green Mountain Spinnery Mountain Mohair in lots of gorgeous shades. Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough cash on me to buy the two skeins I wanted for a project, so I told them I’d be in next week. They kindly let me photograph the yarns so I could match them to my project when I got home.

Cary Memorial Library, Lexington, MA

Cary Memorial Library is across the street so I dropped by. This library is one of the most attractive libraries around; my photograph doesn’t do it justice. Unfortunately their collection of knitting books wasn’t as good as Bedford’s, so I didn’t pick up much. Which is good, considering I’d have to lug all the books home on my bike. 😉

Lexington Minuteman at Battle Green

Since this is a blog for Anglophiles and not merely a dumping ground for all my knitting photos, here’s a shot of the Lexington Minuteman on Battle Green. Just look at the sky! You see, there was this little local skirmish some 235 years ago and we like to commemorate it with lots of memorials, statues, and monuments.

The ride back to Bedford is much faster since there’s a slight downhill grade. My bike and I were home in less than 20 minutes. And then I took a nap.

Animal sightings: Chipmunk, squirrels, cat (domesticated); heard a hawk

Ownershaming

First, let’s get clear: I love dogs. Adore them even. If we could get a dog, I’d be heading out to our local greyhound rescue today. When I’m out taking a walk in the neighborhood, I can’t resist a friendly dog (always asking permission first before I pet).

But dogs and my bike? Not exactly a love connection.

Here’s the story. Yesterday I was out running errands on my bike using the bike trail that runs along our property. It’s not just for bikes … you can walk, jog, and maybe even use it for cross-country skiing in the winter. The trail is part of the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy and links up to the Minuteman Commuter Bikeway terminus in Bedford; it’s one of the most heavily traveled bike trails in the U.S. Bikers actually commute to jobs in Lexington, Arlington, Cambridge and beyond using this trail, and on the weekends, it’s even busier with families on bikes, in-line skates, or on foot.

Anyway, yesterday I’m pedaling along with my groceries (packed in my super-cool Trek Interchange grocery bag) and about 50 yards up the trail I see two women walking three dogs.  None of the dogs are leashed. They see me and two of them bolt and run full speed toward my bike. Immediately I slow down because the dogs are heading straight at me. Again, I love dogs, but I can’t really tell if their barking is friendly or if they want to tear my legs off. One of them starts running circles around my bike, which is knocking me off balance, especially since I’ve got the groceries. (You don’t notice a load like that while you’re biking, but it becomes a balance issue when dogs start dodging you.)

So here’s what ticked me off. Rather than call the dogs back when the women saw me coming, one of them yells, “Just hit them! These dogs never behave! Seriously, hit them! Hahahahahaha!” Seriously, she thought it was a joke. I couldn’t believe it.  I managed to bike through the scrum of dogs and dumb humans, but as I passed the dumbasses (the human ones, not the dogs), I gave them a black look and said, “Those dogs should be leashed.” Now that I’ve had time to think about it, I wished I’d called out, “Forget the dogs … I’m going to hit you instead.”

I would never hit a dog and, in fact, would probably do myself a great injury by avoiding such a scenario. Those dogs were doing what dogs are wont to do: chase and bark. Second, if I did hit a dog, on purpose or by accident, I’d surely be knocked off my bike by the force and/or loss of control when my balance shifts. I wonder if these dumbasses even know how to ride a bike because one thing an experienced biker knows: biking is often effortless, but the laws of physics become painfully clear when you lose your balance, hit an object or a hole, or have to stop suddenly. Third, it’s not my job to control their dogs. They should have immediately called their dogs at their very least, or had them on a leash to begin with, especially if “these dogs never behave.” And fourth, and most important, it’s against the town laws to let dogs off leash on a bikeway. It’s not only especially dangerous to cyclists, who don’t want to stop to see if a snarling dog is going to chew their leg off, it’s dangerous for the dog. I just don’t understand why anyone who has a dog, and presumably cares about that dog, would let them run amok when they could easily be injured if hit and put themselves at liability should the cyclist get injured.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time I’ve run across clueless dog owners on the bike path. A couple weeks ago another woman was letting her big shaggy dog run ahead off leash. He came barking and lumbering up to my son on his bike and almost knocked him to the ground. I gave her an earful and she called me a bitch under her breath. Whatever. My son gets hurt by your dog, lady, and I have a lawyer whose bite will be worse than mine. Luckily, most of the dogs and dog owners we meet on the path are perfectly wonderful. The dogs are leashed and well behaved. Owners with dogs who are a little fidgety will hold them close while we pass, and I’m always sure to thank them. Occasionally we’ll see someone with a dog off leash, but they’ll quickly reign in the dog and hold them until we pass. While they’re technically breaking the rules, I at least give them credit for controlling their pets when they see a cyclist coming.

Last night O and I were wondering what we could do to get dog owners to take better care of their dogs on the path. He suggested we start a new website, sort of like Dogshaming, but call it Ownershaming, where people can post cell phone videos of stupid dog owners. For right now, though … next time I see those women I’m going to point them to my blog.

And if you two are reading this: Take better care of your dogs. They weren’t misbehaving … you were.

 

Olympic Fever!

Friends and family keep asking me, “Don’t you wish you were in London right now?” Guess they don’t know me very well because my idea of hell is being stuck in loud, sweaty crowds with no easy means of escape. Not to mention if you want to watch the Olympics, the best seat in the house is usually at home where you can see everything much better thanks to network cameras. I’ll save London for another day. I’m content to see the sights from this side of the ocean.

I did stay up last night to watch the opening ceremonies. Well done, I thought. Not much of a surprise there as I like Danny Boyle, but I did find it odd that it overly emphasized British literature, film, and music over than sport and athleticism. I’m not going to complain, though, because the soundtrack was outstanding: the Clash, Bowie, the Sex Pistols, the Chemical Brothers, the Pet Shop Boys, Clapton, and more. We did not see Elton John or Coldplay. And I loved that when Queen came on, their music got an extra cheer from the crowd.

Speaking of queenly matters … did you like the James Bond short? I thought it was fun. And good for the Queen for playing along, although she looked rather glum all night.

Another thing I enjoyed about Boyle’s direction? The homage to Britain’s sense of humor. The Brits just don’t take themselves so seriously, unlike Americans. (A huge generalization, I know.)  I doubt you’d see the likes of an American director let someone like Rowan Atkinson goof around with a renowned orchestra. I mean, look how offended we get when Ricky Gervais pokes fun at Hollywood celebrities? Wait — I guess it’s the Hollywood celebrities who get offended. But I stand by my original assertion.

I loved the look of the Ralph Lauren-designed uniforms for the U.S. athletes, though I was dismayed to find out they were made in China. Grr. And while I’ve seen the athletic wear that Stella McCartney designed for Team UK, I wasn’t thrilled with the look of the uniforms they wore at last night’s opening ceremony. (Those gold patches under their arms? Yuk.) I also liked Canada’s outfits — they were simple, but really stood out.

Anyway, it was a pleasant way to spend the evening and I managed to get a good bit done on my 2012 Ravellenic Games entry, my Go America! socks:

socks for Ravellenic games

I had to rip them back a bit after I’d discovered I’d cast on an extra stitch, but otherwise good progress. This morning I manged to add another two inches to the leg, and I suspect by the end of the weekend I’ll have the heel turned. My son is down in Connecticut this weekend, so I have some extra free time.

Are you watching the Olympics over the next several weeks? Are you participating in the 2012 Ravellenic games?

Knitting at Wimbledon

Who would have guessed that a woman quietly knitting on Wimbledon’s center court could cause such a media uproar?

“A MYSTERY woman stunned tennis fans as she spent the entirety of Andy Murray’s thrilling match – KNITTING,” opened one article.

The Daily Mail sniped, “The woman seems more interested in her pink knitting than Andy Murray’s match against Marcos Baghdatis at Wimbledon.”

The Telegraph asked, “Who brings their knitting to a sports match?”

I teach my writing students to avoid opening an article with a question because the reader may offer the answer you’re not wanting. As in this case. A great many knitters would answer, “We would.”

When my son graduated from third grade, I brought my knitting to the ceremony, which promised to be a long drawn-out affair in a stifling hot community hall. No one really seemed to pay me much attention as I worked on my sock. I put my knitting down to clap after the speeches, which I actually listened to — had I not had my knitting, my mind surely would have drifted to thoughts of what to make for dinner, whose calls I should return, and the work that waited for me at my desk. I snapped pictures, videos were taken, and I knit a full ten rows of my sock by the time we were released from our seats and into the refreshment area.

A couple days later we attended the school picnic. I was taking to a group of parents about the graduation ceremony, and one dad commented, “Did you see the older woman up in front knitting? Why would anyone knit in public?” Everyone tittered, and once I got over the shock of being referred to as an older woman, I admitted, “I was the one who was knitting.”

The father tried to backtrack, claiming there was another woman at the ceremony knitting, but I assure you readers, I was the only one there with needles and yarn. I am certain of this because had there been another person knitting, we would have gravitated to each other afterwards to admire and fondle handiwork. You knitters know how this goes.

I wanted to lecture him that knitting isn’t just an older woman pastime. Men knit. Tattooed Insane Clown Posse fangirls knit. I’m pretty sure there’s an NFL player who plays with sticks and string. I wanted to tell him that knitting helps me focus: I actually listen better and process information more quickly when my hands are at work. Moreover, if you watch me knit, I rarely look down at my work. I can watch television, my son’s swimming class, and read a book with nary a glance at my lap.

Instead, I said, “Did you notice how many people were checking their iPhones during the event?” I noticed, because like I said, I don’t have to look down at my knitting to pay attention, so I could look around the hall. Most parents had their cell phones in hand, and many of them were typing and clicking away. Last I checked, you have to look at your iPhone to read e-mail, send a text, or surf the web.

He changed the subject. He had his Crackberry in hand at the picnic.

 

 

That’s Bond, Sir James Bond

Yesterday I spent another dreary, rainy day with my knitting, watching Casino Royale (the remake) and Quantum of Solace, both for the nth times. And yes, I can’t wait until November 9th, when the next Bond film, Skyfall, will hit the big screen here in North America. (You lucky dogs in Britain get it two weeks ahead of us.) I’ve got a lot of anticipation riding on this installment: Sam Mendes directing, starring roles for Ralph Fiennes (!!!) and Javier Bardem, not to mention more of broody, rough Daniel Craig and the always-a-pleasure-to-watch Judi Dench.

I’ve also been catching up on my show biz reading this weekend, and just learned there’s another guest star scheduled for the film: Queen Elizabeth! According to The Telegraph, Bond will be receiving a knighthood in Skyfall, and the Queen has agreed to participate in filming the scene. How cool is that? I’m also loving that the London Olympics will somehow play a part in the film.

I hate to get my hopes up — I’ve had some big Bond disappointments (A View to a Kill*? The Living Daylights?). On the other hand, with all this great casting and a top director, how can they miss?

 

*A View to a Kill, imo, has one of the best Bond songs. Duran Duran rocks it 4 ever … just don’t judge the song by the video. That hi-tech Walkman, LOL!!!