Sunday, September 18, 2005

It could be worse

I'm having a bit of a bad day. I'm sitting in a hotel in Virginia right now, still mentally kicking myself while trying to forget about my stupid mistake.

See, I'm in Virginia for a conference that came up sort of last minute for me. The opportunity to attend this conference came up just last Monday. While the focus of this conference isn't exactly within my area of expertise at work, it was a great opportunity for me to learn some new things and network with some great people, including a person within my own organization that I occasionally work with and have never met personally. So, when I got a call Monday asking if I was able to fill in at this conference for someone else in the organization who had registered and then had to cancel on short notice, I agreed to do it. And I have no complaints about the conference so far or the accomodations or anything like that.

Besides discovering while I was packing that I forgot to bring home more business cards from the office (duh!!), I got a bit stressed out flying here and that's what led to my stupid mistake. I took the el to O'Hare, as I usually try to do. Sunday el service is reduced (read: s-l-o-w-e-r), so I got to the airport a little later than I wanted to. Then, as I self-checked in at the kiosk, I found that I had to get a seat assignment at the gate and the gate my flight was leaving from was way far away. So, I queued up for the long security line, juggled my carry on baggage while in line, and dashed off to the gate as quickly as possible. (Why do I have to juggle my carry on stuff? Because TSA only allows you to bring 2 bags on the plane, including a purse. With my laptop bag and small suitcase, that means I have to distribute the contents of my purse while tucking my purse itself into my suitcase.)

The flight was totally full and I didn't even think I'd get a seat at all, but in case I did, I shuffled the contents of my carry on items yet again at the gate to make sure I had all my in-flight diversions and dearest valuables in the bag that was going under the seat. Boarding was a bit messy, but I made it on the plane, got my suitcase stowed in a bin, and my laptop bag with dearest valuables and diversions tucked under my seat, and away we went.

Of course my main in-flight diversion was a knitting project. After the flight took off, I started knitting and managed to get into my new project within the tight confines of a full flight. Juggling a soda, (ginger ale, my usual choice for flights) my knitting project, and a book for take offs and landings without being able to use the middle seat for laying things down or the extra tray table for holding my drink while I pulled a pair of nail clippers out of my bag to cut yarn was a bit tricky, but I managed. Then it was time to tuck things away and clean up for the landing. And that's where I made my fatal mistake.

I tucked the pattern in the seat pocket while I was putting my knitting project away into it's bag. And, I discovered when I got the hotel that I had forgotten the pattern in the seat pocket. AAAARRRRGGGG!

But, it could be worse, right? I could have been seated in the middle on a packed flight, right? Or, I could have gone throught most of last week like this:

Poor Hannah! She's been a "satellite puppy" nearly all week. I had noticed last week that she was licking at her feet and the skin between her toes was pretty red and inflamed. The vet's verdict was an allergy of some kind, so we've had to pill her with Benadryl 3 times a day (not too bad, since she rarely chews her food, making it easy to slide some tablets into a "meat ball" of canned dog food that she swallows whole), soak her feet twice a day in epsom salts and warm water, then apply some ointment between her toes. Oh, and we had to keep her from licking her feet, especially after applying the ointment. (My dogs, and I'm assuming all dogs, just love fatty/oily stuff. They will lick the lotion off my hands or body as I'm applying it if I don't fight them off!) So, Hannah was getting this "collar" put on her head every day.

I think we're done with treatments for now (please, oh please, deity of dogs, whomever you are...let her leave her feet alone!), so we no longer have to look at Hannah's sad face, framed by a big cone.

...On the needles...

At home, I still have the Clapotis going, but it's now too large to carry on a plane. So, I have a new project on the needles...that I won't be able to work on again until I get back home. *deep sighs, and a few near tears here* I had started the "Shaped Triangle" shawl from A Gathering of Lace, using a deep red (if I was British, I'd probably call this color "beetroot") sock yarn from Tess' Designer Yarns. (I hyperlinked Knit Picks above as a source for this book because it sells the book for the lowest price of all the on-line or bricks & morter vendors.)

I'd been renewing A Gathering of Lace for ages (it seems like) through the Chicago Public Library, and eyeing up this shawl. I took the step of buying yarn for it at Stitches Midwest. Then, I made the leap to buying the book so I didn't have to keep renewing it. Next, I made photocopies of pattern pages, carefully enlarging the charts (which took me at least 30 minutes to figure out how to do on our new photocopiers at the office, BTW). I read through the entire pattern a couple times; noticed what looked like a mistake; went online to find errata, which led me to download a PDF 5-pages long with errata, including key changes for this pattern and a new set of charts; figured out how to print enlarged copies of the updated charts for this pattern; and, finally I was feeling ready to start the pattern.

I promptly blow all this prep to hell by leaving the pattern, sequestered in its nice plastic slip cover and with the magnetic board backing I use to help me figure out line by line what to work on , on the plane.

I'm thoroughly disgusted with myself.

I cast on in flight, knitted up through the first repeat of the chart, ran a life-line, and there I'm stuck until I get home and can start the damn photocopying, etc. again so I can continue on.

But, I have a back up plan for travel knitting. I also brought along a skein of Jawoll sock yarn, two size 2 Addi Turbo circulars, and Cat Bordhi's Socks Soar on Two Circular Needles. I guess I'll start a new set of socks during this trip. Oh, and I've also packed a set of size 2 dpns, just in case I have some problems with using the circulars for socks. Yep, I'm prepared!

Since I've mentioned Knit Picks, I have to note that I'm really impressed with their customer service. I had ordered the yarn for Lillian's shawl through them (and a few other odds and ends) back at the end of August. I waited for the package, and then called them last Wednesday when 15 days had passed without receiving the package. They re-sent it UPS without giving me any hassles and I received it the next day. Wow!

The down-side to this is that I had also put in yet another order with them that same day that I still haven't received. Their free shipping is via USPS, though, and I think that is the problem. I'm afraid that the new mail carrier we have is not as careful as the last one; the last mail carrier would slip packages too large for our mail slot between the front door and the storm door. But, a few weeks ago some yarn I had ordered from another source was just dumped on the front porch. I'm afraid the last Knit Picks order may have arrived and been snatched because it had been left like that, which doesn't bode well for this latest order. (UPS, by the way, tucked the package between the doors.)

Knit Picks ships from Ohio, which is pretty close to me. In the past I've received my orders in about 3 days. Even though I knew something was wrong with the last shipment, I had to wait the requisite 14 days, however. This most recent order was shipped on 9/14 and I'm already starting to get a bit worried. Of course the shipment contains the extra yarn I'll need to complete my Clapotis, and I'm on my last skein...really, as if I don't have enough to stress about!

...In the garden...

The tomato plants are looking a bit past their prime, but there are still plenty of fruits in various stages of ripeness to keep an eye on. Mark's not eating these fast enough, so I'm freezing them whole for cooking use during the winter. I can foresee having to do the same with some peppers.

Beans, beans, beans! I keep picking, steaming, and freezing beans. I'll have a lot to last me over the winter. Last week I hadn't picked often enough so I found myself pulling off pretty mature pods and shelling them for fresh beans, that have also been lightly cooked and frozen. I think they'll make a nice addition to chili and soups.

I've also got lots of cucamelons coming in now. I'd like to pickle them but have to find the time. Plus, I also have to buy canning jars and learn to can the pickles. Oh, there's never enough time! When I get home, I'll take a few photos of these unusual fruits. They're kind of astringent when eaten fresh, but I think they'll make great little bread n' butter pickles.

The asters are finally blooming. Again, something else to take photos of when I get home...

Did I mention that this place I'm staying at for the conference has a spa? I think I really need a massage. :-)

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