Friday, April 06, 2007

Ann Arbor and All That

I've been back home since dinner time on Monday, but somehow couldn't bring myself to try to pin down the whole trip in words. It was a wonderful, wonderful trip in which everything that could go right, went right, and the only wrongs just make for better blogging.

Milo and/or Ben will help me tell the story since they got hold of the camera twice during this period and took some pictures from their point of view. They mostly look something like this:

The view across the dinner table and into the kitchen.
No wonder the house never looks as messy to them.

Me, looking around 102 years-old, knitting at Aunt Connie's to-die-for dining room table which Uncle Denny made all by himself.

There was yarn everywhere. We were all constantly knitting on something.

There were also LOTS of toddler toys because Aunt Connie and Uncle Denny's grand-baby #1 (#2 having arrived on Tuesday and is a SHE--only the fourth she in two generations of this side of the family--her name is wonderful, but I don't know if they want it all over the Internet) spends a day or two there every week.

The pretty hazel eyes of the culprit. Not really a clue because the culprit is an identical twin . . . .

We tried to leave as early as possible on Friday, but "possible" became 9:45 before I knew it. To get from here to there you go north 20 minutes, hang a left on 80, drive a couple hundred miles, hang a right on 23, and there you are. EVERYONE, including Mapquest, says this should take 6.5 hours. It took the twinks and I 8.5 hours. I don't know. We traveled with a big thirst and tiny bladders.

It has been MUCH longer than I thought since we last visited my aunt and uncle at their house and they've spent their retirement remodeling the house. It is SO beautiful and SO perfect. I love the light and the openness of the living room. But it's the kitchen that makes me drool. Check this out.
We very quickly made ourselves very much at home. The twins got goodies from all the grownups and had foam swords and playing cards and pastel shades of playdough to play with.
They set up the dominoes and knocked them down.

We ate extremely well because my aunt and uncle can both cook extremely well and they had bowls of veggies and fruits and dips and chips and yummy sandwiches and soups and salads at hand ALL the time. We didn't eat all day so much as we grazed and grazed and grazed. But then each day ended with a delicious sit-down dinner. (Home made mac n cheese and fat, yummy hot dogs the first night, Denny's Famous Homemade pizza for dinner--better than anything you've EVER had--yummy soups the third night.)

My Grandma Helen, who recently celebrated her 95th birthday, kept us all good company. And while knitting is just more than her eyes and shoulder can take, she was in good health and good spirits for the entire visit. I am grateful for that.

Saturday we sat and talked and knit and knit and talked and only left the house to go to the yarn store to meet Ann, my brother's good friend from college. I'll fess up right here that I took a TON of pictures of this weekend and can't use most of them. I don't know what setting I had the camera on, but most of the pictures look like this:
. . . including the one I took of Ann. Anyway, we went to her yarn store just to meet her, but Connie had decided she was going to start another project for one of her grandbabies and so she needed yarn, and I had decided on a project for one of my new cousins-once-removed, so I needed yarn, and Charlotte was the only one with much restraint. We decided right off that Ann was pretty cool, and invited her to brunch the next day, which she graciously accepted.

And that was pretty much entirely Saturday. Okay--here was one of the weird things about the weekend--I had nightmares galore. I don't usually have a lot of nightmares, although a side-effect of the medication I take is to have these REM catchup periods in the wee hours of the morning, so I dream WAY more than I used to. And they are LONG and rambly dreams. Well these were cycling nightmares that felt like I was caught in a loop. Normally I'm very good at waking myself out of nightmares, but in this case, I just couldn't. The nightmares weren't too hideous. I can't even remember the first two night's--I just remember finally getting up and going to the bathroom to try to shake myself out of it and get some sleep. By Monday morning I was pretty twisted tired from all the nocturnal activity. Sunday night's nightmares were influenced by the wind I could hear outside. I kept dreaming I woke to hear the wind, looked out the window and saw funnel clouds, and panicked because the twins are finally too big for me to carry any distance at the same time (52 and 54 lbs respectively) and I didn't know how we were going to get BOTH of them AND my 95 year-old-grandmother down to the basement in time. (Plus, in my dream, my uncle was impossible to wake.) I didn't get out of that loop until about the 7th version of the dream.

At any rate, Sunday was the big day. We all dressed and went to a very nice vegetarian restaurant called Seva. The place was incredible and I had the best Spinach Enchilada I've ever had in my entire life. We also had some sweet potato fries, which were really pretty decent.

From there we hurried over to the library, just in time to learn that The Yarn Harlot was having a Very Bad Day. What this meant for us at that point was that we knew she wouldn't be there in time for the 2pm talk and we didn't know when she would be there. We also knew that if we left our chairs, they'd likely be sat in by someone else. They were already filling up the upstairs overflow room (where they could watch the presentation when it happened on a large-screen TV). BUT we also knew that the yarn store two blocks away was having a big sale on Malabrigo yarn. So Ann and I stayed put and knit (and Ann went and got a BOOK because this was a LIBRARY, get it? So she read.) and was rewarded. Charlotte brought me back two skeins of laceweight malabrigo in this gorgeous ruby/garnet color. I LOVE this yarn. I'd never seen it before, but her choice couldn't have been more perfect.

Since they were back to guard the chairs, I went next door to the friends of the library book room and bought a bunch of easy reader books for the twins and The Egypt Game for Max. They were between a quarter and two quarters each.

Upstairs they were having an April Fool's Day event for local kids and making pretty paper hats. Since there were all these kids with no audience and an audience with no show--the librarians arranged the kids into a parade and marched through the Crazy Knitters room. We applauded and cheered. Here's a picture that doesn't actually reveal the identities of any of the kids.

Here's me, looking a little batty. I couldn't find my hair band that morning, so here I am, badly in need of a dye job and hair cut.

And then, suddenly, The Yarn Harlot was IN the building. Here is the only picture I took of her that even remotely came out. It's a horrible picture. She is prettier in person. For a tiny person, she has an alto voice, and I enjoyed every word. I was VERY glad we'd gone, and didn't mind the wait at all (after all, it's not like we hadn't all brought something to do while we waited).

But when the talk was over, I desperately wanted to be home with these guys, and so instead of waiting and getting our books signed (we'd bought her new book there--there were representatives from Borders books) we hurried home. The boys weren't as worried about us as we were worried about them.Actually, technically, we weren't worried about THEM either, we were more worried that the experience had convinced my cousins to never offer to babysit again or to not have any more kids or at least to REALLY wish we'd get home and give them a BREAK (we stopped on the way home and bought them a "treat" for later). So we hurried home. But the twins had been angels all weekend and carried that over through most of the day. So when we got home I found Milo experimenting with my aunt and uncle's bathtub sauna jets (makes HUGE bubblebath bubbles) and enjoying his bath while my cousin wrestled his baby S, into clean pjs. Ben and Wendy came home a little later and Ben stripped naked and practically did a cannon ball into the bubbles.

Luckily the bathtub sauna thing is on a timer, so I set it for ten more minutes and told them they had to get out when the jets shut off, or I think they would still be in there.

And that was pretty much the weekend. None of us really wanted to go home at the end of the weekend. We'd have all stayed another week if reality hadn't dictated other wise. Aunt Connie and Uncle Denny are the perfect hosts and we hope to get back there soon.

And now I'm off to work a little more on the Shetland shawl. I've finished charts A and B and am making progress on Chart C. I don't really have ANY idea what percentage of the shawl this represents, so ignore the progress bar, but I think it's going to be very pretty when it's done.

Now the Orenburg--I couldn't be more proud of it if it had been my own design. It's still a long way to go before being done, but I'm not having to rip back every other row anymore, and that really helps. I'm also a putting in a new life line every ten rows or so because I USE them on this shawl. Even with a dozen stitch markers to help.

I'll try to get pictures of the shawls in progress soon.
Apropos of nothing, a photo of the tomato and pepper seedlings before I transplanted them.