Vacation Part Deux

When last I left you, dear 3.5 readers, our intrepid band of pioneers was getting ready to venture into the wilds just north of Miami Beach, Florida.  We checked our bags at the hotel for safekeeping and made our trek from Ft. Lauderdale to just north of Miami where Jungle Island and its inhabitants awaited us.

We enjoyed our sojourn there and left to visit some of the ritzy parts of Miami Beach.  It was there that Madison and Ruby, and John and I stopped by a corner ice cream shop and relaxed for a while as their Mom and Dad visited some of the more famous haunts of Miami Beach.

That being done, we were soon on our way back to Ft. Lauderdale to pick up our luggage, then to the airport to return the rental chariot and then on to our flight back to BWI. In 2.5 short hours we were back on Merlin soil unpacking.

As I crossed the threshhold, I came upon this little beauty that had arrived in my absence:

I had totally forgotten I ordered it from Colin’s  (Knitman’s) Kitchen last week before I left! What a great surprise! I didn’t get a chance to open it until I arrived home this afternoon after the conference (see below).  I haven’t received anything except e-mails from the other side of the pond since I had a pen pal in junior high, so this was “way cool!”

The yarn is a lovely pale, silver gray, probably sock or fingering weight – a bit more substantial than laceweight, thank goodness! It should knit up into something lovely! Thanks Colin!

Thanks to two continuance requests I had no court today – but not for vacation.  Rather, we had a continuing legal education conference we in the firm had to attend.  So, although I had no court, and I was still in vacation mode, I was actually working today:)!

Our keynote speaker was Victoria Rowell. A foster child who became a dancer and professional actress, Ms. Rowell has written a book called, The Women Who Raised Me. Her speech was very moving and of course made us realize how deep the wounds our clients carry.  Of course I bought her book, but I couldn’t get within a mile of her to sign it – the line was around the room!

I learned about the origins of Reactive Attachment Disorder and its treatment and came away with a new appreciation of the good work of caring professionals.  Our final speaker was a woman named Emily  – ironically with the last name of Ballance – a licensed professional counselor from North Carolina with a terrific sense of humor.  One of the more adventurous members of the firm was enticed to participate in a rather interesting exercise at the end of the program.

And with that the professional aspect of my week ended!

As I write this, it is Friday evening, and I am getting ready to pour myself another glass of wine, do a little knitting and veg in front of the TV.  Friends of mine from church who are originally from the UK were thankfully able to fly Wednesday to go visit with their families.  Enjoy friends!

This old lady is glad to be back home – wherever that is!

God be with you ’til we meet again!

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Family Vacation

Since my Dad and stepmom Maureen moved to Ft. Lauderdale, John and I have been wanting to get down there to visit.  Previously, when they were living in New York City, we would make our annual pilgrimage to the Big Apple every January, of course when it colder than a witches never-mind-what.  But we would get an amazing room at the Marriott or the Renaissance in Times Square for the right price, so who was complaining.  We would take Dad and Maureen out to dinner and catch up on what was going on with them, with us, with the extended family.  Then John and I would bid our adieus, and head back to the hotel.  On Sunday, before leaving to negotiate the wilds of the Jersey Turnpike, we’d head up to School Products on 28th street and Broadway and buy – despite what the name appears to infer – yarn:)!

Well, this time, they were in Ft. Lauderdale.  In April:) It’s tough job, but somebody’s gotta do it.  This time we did it right – four days off from work, Dori, Donald, Madison and Ruby had time off from their jobs.  John has time off for his.  Again, adjoining suites in a Marriott Time Share resort in Ft. Lauderdale and it was a real family vacation!

We left at 4:45 a.m. for our 6:30 flight out of BWI airport and arrived at Ft. Lauderdale at about 9 a.m.  We rented a car for the week and stowed our bags in there until we could check in.  Then we did about 5 hours on the Water Taxi and I learned about something new.  Being from the North (well, immediately south of the old Mason-Dixon Line) I had heard the phrase “Intra-coastal Waters” but just figured it was water like the Chesapeake Bay that ran up between parts of land of the East Coast.  I never realized these waters stretch from southern Virginia, to clear around Florida all the way up the Gulf Coast! We went through a rather wealthy stretch of Lauderdale, getting glimpses at a string of McMansions that would curl your hair. I just can’t relate.

After a brief visit with “Great-Grandpa and Great Grandma,” we went back to our rooms and slept like logs.

The next day was fun at the pool. My brother, Chris, who had been staying with the folks for a few days, had an interview with someone in Miami and later joined us for lunch.  It was great to catch up with him – it has been years since we actually saw each other face to face (thank God for cellphones and Facebook!) We drove him to the airport to catch his flight back to NY.  Donald and Dori took Mads and Ruby to visit with two of his siblings and John and I chilled out with some vino and meatloaf.

Yesterday was another full day poolside, looking out over a white beach and an ocean as blue as the sky. Tuesday I used sunscreen, thanks to my daughter.  Yesterday I did not. Ouch.

Yesterday evening, we had dinner with Dad and Maureen at a restaurant  near the hotel.  It was good for Dad to get out and for the kids to see him.  We had a great time – four generations at one table – pretty cool!

The pictures on the right are the view from our hotel suite.  It’s not the ocean side, but we agree that it was the far more interesting view!

Today is our last day.  Checkout time is any minute now.  We will check our bags at the hotel until our flight this evening.  And in the meantime, we are going to Jungleworld in Miami.  (Is that like Wallyworld?)

My knitting has gone with me.  I started a sock on some Kroy FX yarn I really liked and am still working on the Mondo Cable Vest in the Lavold Silky Wool. Knitting makes those waiting times bearable on the airplane and other places – and for those times when I just feel like kicking back and chilling out.  (Hey, we’re on vacation!)

Well, gotta go pack. God be with you ’til we meet again!

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Easy Friday I think…

Well so far, so good! I figure since I’m going to have a little time today, I’d start a new project, bringing my number of projects to be worked on in 2010 to 28.  If I get half of them done, I’ll be a really happy camper:)!

A while back, when Large Marge’s Yarn Shop was open in Ellicott City, I would stop in there from time to time, usually on a Friday – a payday Friday – when I might  have an extra sawbuck burning a hole in my pocket.  Usually on days like that, I will look at the lace yarn.  Knitters know why.  Laceyarn contains a LOT of yardage in one skein.  It takes so few of those beautiful skeins to make one lovely scarf and you get to make something lovely with a relatively small investment.  It was on just such a Friday that I bought this little bit of loveliness, took it home and wound it into a ball.  Now I am hoping I have found the right venue for it.  I will see. If not, I’m not afraid of frogging and trying again!

Today is a relatively quiet day – I’ve been doing most of my work via e-mail, hoping to avert any bad situations.  A colleague very kindly covered the one hearing I had this morning likely to be continued to another date for various reasons I cannot post here.

Unrelated to my hearing referenced above,  can I vent just a little here?  Why is it that when the State, i.e. the local department of social services, or DCS or  DFS or whatever they call it in your neck of the woods, has custody of a child, the standard of care seems to be less than what is required of the parents? If a parent doesn’t send a child to school here in beautiful Merlin, they can be arrested.  If a child reports that a parent has abused them, the mantra is “believe the child,” but when a child reports abuse or neglect at the hands of a foster parent, the mantra appears to be “the child is a liar?” I am sick to death of that nonsense!  I get that older kids who don’t like their placements will sometimes stretch the truth to get another one – or think that if they do, they will go home.  But more frequently, if anything, kids will recant their allegations of abuse when they are taken out of the home because they want to take back the upheaval that has occurred.  That doesn’t mean the abuse didn’t happen. Most kids are afraid to tell you when they’ve been abused in a foster home.  They’ve already experienced what happens when they tell and they have decided never to tell again, poor darlings.  Plus, they are afraid of what the foster parent will do if no one believes them.

The law basically says that foster care should never be worse than what a child has at home – otherwise, what’s the point?  It’s about the best interests of the CHILD, not the best interests of their social worker, the system, the attorneys, the foster parents, etc.!

The really strange thing is, I get this reaction from some of the better social workers in our local department.  I get that they have seen a lot of stuff.  Hell, so have I.  I get that this means more work for them -work for which they are overworked and underpaid to do.  They definitely have a fan in me. Truly, they do. I see what the courts do to them.  A social worker can spend months working day and night on a case, not only making sure my clients receive the services to meet their needs, but they also have to work with the parents, braving bad neighborhoods and hostility to effect change.  They have to make “reasonable efforts” to assure reunification.  Theirs is often a thankless task.  Let them make one mistake and these professionals are often blasted and treated like dirt in the courtroom.  And that is wrong.

On the other hand, it is so frustrating when you are dealing with kids whose needs are very real and the “system” has no common sense in dealing with them.

Just saying.

Well with any luck, I’ll be on the road tomorrow visiting clients and getting more earfuls:)

God be with you ’til we meet again!

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Waiting for my day to begin…

When I heard that the courthouse was closed, I thought – nah, can’t be – I have a hearing this morning.  I have to be out the door in  ten minutes. But the most bizarre thing happened – apparently there was an underground fire, which caused a watermain break which has left quite a large chunk of Baltimore County, Merlin with a  dwindling supply of water. This, in turn, led to the closings of a number of offices, businesses, schools and – you guessed it – the courthouse! This is the second time in about 7 years that a watermain break has caused the courthouse to close and that is weird.

You’d think I’d be overjoyed to have a “day off,” but all it means is that work is put off for another day – and this particular piece of work was tough to schedule. More importantly, the children impacted by this case are in limbo for that much longer.  But, waddya gonna do?

There are no clients I can visit right now – they are all in school.  I have a meeting at 3 today, a visit at 5 and EfM tonight, so I am in a holding pattern for now. But that’s OK, I can return calls, do some paperwork (there’s always that) and take my knitting with me. Hey, at least I’ll be staying (relatively) out of trouble!

It is unseasonably hot here in Merlin, so I will be happy to wait until the afternoon blaze cools down to start hitting the road.

In the meantime, for you knitters out there, I have this yarn I have collected bit by bit.  Yes, I know, the LYS’s will tell you that you should always buy enough yarn for your project and then some,  but I cannot always afford to do that.  There is this yarn I bought a while back – just a few skeins – of Elsebeth Lavold’s Hempathy.  And I did buy it a couple of skeins at a time.  Now I have a total of 10 skeins plus a little bit (the little bit is the remainder of a stripe or two contained in a sweater I knit in 2007).  Also included in this happy little pile are whole and partial skeins of linen yarn in light green and blue.  I suspect these would all look very good together in a nice something to knit for the summer.  The total yardage of these DK weight yarns is about 1800 – I’m thinking enough for a short-sleeved something.  Any suggestions?

And of course, what to do with these little darlings:

What a delicious quandary to be in!

Well, I’d better get back to work so I can sound at least reasonably intelligent at EfM tonight -can’t wait to get back to that.  It’s a wonderful group of people and I learn SO much from each of them. I only hope I can give back a fraction of what they give me.

Well, dear 3.5, God be with you ’til we meet again!

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On a lunch break then back to work – definitely the Spin Zone today! (Sorry Mr. O’Reilly)

So I have to make this fast.  Three Things:

First: Yesterday, after work, I was home basically doing nothing very new (I was knitting, OK?), John came in with the mail. (It gets here late in the day in our neck of the woods – sometimes as late as 8 PM).  Well, what to my wondering eyes should appear but a little box filled with yarn goodness from Amber herself! Amber and I have met through various knitting groups online and of course through blogging and our shared political similarities:).  Otherwise, how else would I have met a person about 10-15 years younger than I am who lives in out New Mexico? Another one of the joys of knitting.

The box had two beautiful – and I mean beautiful – little “biscuits” of yarn in blues, and greens and all sorts of loveliness.  Well, here, see for yourself:

Doesn’t it look like the balls are two different colorways?  They’re not – it’s just that I have them set at different angles and they catch the light differently.  According to Amber, the colorway was “Vineyard” and it seemed to say “Joan.”  LOL! Of course a vineyard would be calling my name! Especially if the grapes create Cabernet! I was so awed by this hand-spun and hand-plied yarn! It is just beautiful! Amber said it’s about 4 oz or 100 grams of yarn – and that it might be enough for a scarf.  I’m taking ideas if anyone has them! THANK YOU, AMBER:)!!!!!

If you want to get a really good crash course on spinning and plying, visit Amber’s blog – it’s really helpful!

On a similar note, I’d like to share a book I have been going through, albeit slowly.  I have wanted to get this book for a while, but because I have so many “craft” books, I held off  to be sure it wasn’t just a passing fancy.  It wasn’t. I bought it with an Amazon gift card I got for my birthday a couple of months ago.

Written by a young woman who spent a good part of her early childhood in the Andes in Peru, and learned to spin on a spindle from the older women of her village when she was five (yes FIVE) years old, Respect the Spindle brings spinning to life for us newbies.  Like the other children, spinning became a part of her work and her play and one could easily say that it is now a viable part of the author’s persona.  Abby Franquemont gives about a thorough education in spindle spinning as any  books I’ve ever seen on the subject – and does with well researched instruction jammed into 136 pages, complete with beautiful photographs.  The table of contents is straightforward and so is the book. There’s a section about spindles themselves and their usefulness viz a viz the spinning wheel. The largest section is about how to spin using the spindle, plying and other topics and the final section includes a few hand-spun projects.

From the time as a child I first saw the antique spinning wheel my stepmother had in the house in which I grew up, to witnessing the more modern spindles and spinning wheels of today, I have always been fascinated with the concept of spinning fibers into thread and yarn.  This book has fueled my curiosity and desire to experience spinning even further.

As for my on knitting, not much more done on the Green Sweater, but it is moving along a little bit at a time on the first sleeve.  I also decided to wind the yarn and cast on for the Mondo Cable Vest  – related closely to the Mondo Cable Cardi, but hey, I like it!

It’s on my list of projects for this year, so I don’t feel too badly about starting it.  This is the week to do something new, so that was it.  As you can see, I’ve really only just begun.  Before I started I had to upsize the largest size to create something that will fit me.  I  used percentages and the math from the gauge and I think I have something that will work with this pattern.  The good thing about top-down patterns is you have a chance to try things on before they get too wonky. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.  I did frog a project or two and cleaned up the work area a little yesterday after work.

Well, speaking of work – gotta go.  Hopefully I’ll be back soon.  Until then,

God be with you ’til we meet again!

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Happy Easter!

Well, at least we’re in the octave, LOL:)! Yesterday was exhausting but worth every minute! I hit the ground running at 8, got to early practice a little late, but made it through the Easter Obstacle Course without falling, crashing (well, except for that one chair) or hurting anyone (that I know of).

Kristin, Sonny and his Mom, Linda all came to the late service with baby Johnny.  I cannot tell you how much this meant to see them all there on Easter Sunday! Linda is such a sweetheart – visiting our church and spending time with Sonny, Kris and Johnny before spending the balance of Easter with her other three grandkids and Sonny’s sister and brother-in-law – Ladonna and Jason.  Their comments about the sermon and the music were very kind.  I about fell over myself introducing them to everyone I could between and after the services and of course appropriating Johnny to show him off to everyone in the choir:) It was a lovely spring day – and it was getting hot in there!

The brass did an excellent job befitting the professionals that they were – and drowning out (I hope) the sins of the amateurs!  Of course, Nancy, the brass and the tympani playing the Vidor afor the recessional was just wonderful.   Our opening piece for the Easter Prelude was Vaughn Williams’ Let All the World In Every Corner Sing and we nailed it! Kristin and Linda later told me that Johnny really enjoyed it, getting more excited as the music built up – no frightened wimp he!  Unfortunately, he took the sermon to be an invitation to converse with the Rector, so Kristin felt she had to take him outside.  I told her he was just like his Gram – talking during the sermon!  It was at that time that Nancy told me that when she was practicing with her son Joe (who had come in from Ohio and couldn’t attend earlier practices) and giving him some of the choral cues for his music, she told him the lyrics the women were singing “no door can keep Him out.”  Joe thought she said “No dork can keep Him out.” For some reason this struck me as EXTREMELY funny during the sermon and I was equally grateful that I was sitting on steps directly behind the organ and could not be seen from downstairs at that moment!

When it was all over and I could strip off those vestments, we headed to La Mangia for a birthday/Easter brunch and had a blast.  Kristin, Sonny and Johnny joined me in the fun and then afterwards we headed back to our house for Easter dinner – which thankfully John had prepared – and boy it was really really good.  However, before dinner I did something I rarely do – I took a 2-hour nap! And JOHN was the one who had to work last night.  Needless to say, I got dishes duty.  That’s OK – I can do dishes with my eyes closed!

Well, this week will be bereft of musical rehearsals and I will be feeling so lost – well, not really. I may just do something fun for part of that time – nothing that costs anything necessarily, just something I wouldn’t normally do.

On the knitting front, I am plugging away on the EZ Green Sweater  – not enough progress to post a picture right now – and may do a little more on a project I haven’t been working on for a while – that little bit of distraction always helps me stay on track believe it or not!

Hmm, do I sense a theme here?

Today I had two hearings I covered for a colleague here in Howard County and it was rather nice having only a fifteen -minute drive to the courthouse, including parking the car! When it was done, the drive back wasn’t so bad, either!

Well, dear 3.5, I leave you with a view or two outside from the home office – at least the home office for the next few months.

And God be with you ’til we meet again:)

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Holy Time, Batman!

OK, so I’m not great at thinking of eye-catching blogpost titles.  Today has been a quiet day, chillin’ out, and knitting, relaxing in anticipation of the Easter Marathon and Obstacle Course that will be starting in about one hour:)

Backing up a couple of days, Thursday was a busy day at court and then a meeting that lasted until 5:30.  I had to rush to be at church in time for the Maundy Thursday service.  It’s the only time all year we sing the music from Taize’ – an ecumenical Christian community in France.  The music is simple and lovely and highly repetitive, given the kinds of things that happen like the footwashing and communion receiving and the stripping of the altar, but you don’t mind the repetition because the music is really rather nice four-part harmony. We had a rehearsal immediately following the service, but by then I was done in, so I went home.  I stayed up way too late and then realized I had to drive JoAnna to the airport in the EXTREMELY early hours of  the morning (well, extreme for me).  I ended up dozing on and off and finally after I got home from that, slept for about an hour.

Then it was time to get up – I had agreed to babysit Mads and Ruby while their mom went to an exercise class.  We had a nice little visit.  When D got back, I was off to lunch with Connie – I’m covering two hearings for her in my home county on Monday (which is terrific because it’s literally a five-minute drive from home:)!) It was Connie’s birthday, so it was nice to chat with her and catch up – I found out Ellen is coming home today after two months of recuperation from two open-heart surgeries!! Yippee!

I spent the rest of the afternoon knitting and then getting ready for the Good Friday Stations of the Cross at which the Choir was singing. It was a relatively quiet and thoughtul service and very moving.

After two nights of little sleep, I was ready for bed – and slept in until 10 this morning!

The rest of the day has been spent working on the EZ Green Sweater.  You can see the first is the “pre-steek” view and the next two pictures are “post-steek.”  The close-up is of the Dolman Sleeve.  I really like how EZ’s shaping is, well, shaping up:).  John is working both tonight and Easter night – unusual for him.  He’s probably working for someone who needs to spend time with his or her kids, bless his heart.  We are planning on having the gang over tomorrow -except the aforesaid JoAnna who is spending this weekend in Chicago with her high school friend, Victoria.

But before we have dinner tomorrow, a bunch of us from choir and bell choir are sharing an Easter brunch with Nancy.  Easter also happens to be her birthday.  Her son and daughter-in-law from Ohio will be there as will her husband.  K, S and baby Johnny along with S’s mom will be attending the second service and coming along to the brunch.  It’ll be nice and I’m looking forward to it.

Whatever spiritual path your conscience takes you, dear 3.5, I wish you the best and the closest walk to that which you view as best.  For those of you who celebrate the sacred mystery that is the Resurrection, I bid you a Blessed and Happy Easter.

God be with you ’til we meet again.

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