Wednesday, March 31, 2010


The last few days have been ridiculous in one way- it's been gloriously, incredibly, out-of-character warm. So what did I do to celebrate?
Went climbing, of course!I had Monday off, so Tyler and I made the trek down to Sandstone, about an hour south of Duluth for some sweet sport lead climbing. We hadn't really done that since the trip to the Red River Gorge in May last year, so it was well due.We encountered a small problem in the form of a birch tree on top of our warm up route, but after a lot of pushing it relinquished the hold and we got a lot of good climbing in. We did four or five of the six bolted lines on the Muskrat Love/Sax Wall, ranging in difficulties, then I saw back and watched Tyler get Sigma first try of the season-no hornets right now, so it's only a 5.12a/b (with the hornets it's more like a 5.13d). :)
Today was pretty quiet at the climbing gym since it was 70 degrees outside, but I got a fair amount of project stuff done that needed it, including embroidery add-on for Tyler's chalk bag and finishing the base hat for Lacey's upside down daisy hat.The chalk bag I made for Tyler awhile ago is pretty big- too big to be an actual chalk bag, but not quite a chalk pot- so he called it his "chalk trough" and wanted it to be labeled such. I obliged, though it's not the prettiest thing I've done.Lacey's hat is a lot cuter, and now all I need to do is knit the petals for the flower and sew them down before it's ready to pack and ship to a little lady for the spring.
Last tidbit- I got home from the gym tonight to an apartment that was sweltering hot. The heaters were on and have been going strong since I got home, and I feel like I'm in a sauna. I threw open every single window in the apartment, but it's not doing much. I feel like it's the middle of summer and not March. Where was this heat in mid-January??
Karma can suck. Especially when it's hooked up to your ginormous apartment radiators from the 1900's.

Monday, March 29, 2010

What Can Happen

While at work yesterday, a couple of my climber buddies came in after climbing outside with... well, with a bit of a problem.Apparently they had been out a Palisade Head, way beyond the north tower in un-climbed areas, and were rappelling off the edge to clean new areas and check out climbing potential. One of the guys was on this rope (and I highly suspect he didn't pad the rock edge against the rope with something, because he looked guilty when I asked if he did) and when coming back up noticed first the little bite in the rope, then the gigantic chunk where the entire sheath of the rope split open and the core of the rope started to get split apart.
The especially crappy thing is that they bought this rope barely two weeks ago, excited for the prospect of a couple of summers of using it. Let me put this out there- CLIMBING ROPES ARE NOT USUALLY MEANT TO DO THIS. Climbing ropes are practically unbreakable- unless, of course, met with a knife or a very sharp edge or a rock, which I believe to be the case here. When on a rope, it's general common sense to pad the edge that a rope falls over to save on rope wear and tear, protecting your rope from getting like the above picture. It's extremely rare for a rope to get sliced this much, so they must have been running it over a pretty nasty bit of rock.
(I feel like I should insert here for my parents- I practice safe climbing- as much as I can- and am very careful when setting up my ropes. Don't worry too much, guys.) :)
Gear failure is rarely the reason for an accident- gear is made and tested to not fail. It's usually human error, misusing the gear. This is why you should take precautions to treat your gear with care, and learn how to use it properly.
Either way, crap can happen, and this is an excellent example.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Spring is Springing

I can't believe March is almost over already. That means I'll soon be halfway through my Master's, and picking out which part of the country I'll travel to for my PhD. Scary stuff, especially since I know I'll miss Duluth a lot.
This last week I had a lot of research to finish, so I didn't get around to a ton of climbing or arty stuff, but what did get done was important. I had one beautiful sunny afternoon that I got down on the floor to finish the Coast Guard hat, lining the inside to protect ears from cold arctic winds.I'm happy with the end result, and the recipient was very excited and grateful to receive it. It's pretty simply design- I just used the pattern for brooklyntweed's Turn a Square hat, with leftover Cascade 220 (and only one emergency trip to the yarn store), then embroidered the letters and stripes over the hat. It took a little longer to get all that embroidery done, but in the end I'm happy with the result.
I'm probably halfway through the Upside-Down Daisy hat for my cousin's little baby Lacey, and it's refreshing to work with such a bright color. I'm very much in need of spring if I'm to the point of appreciating this light-bright pink. Hopefully I'll have plenty of time to finish it before heading down to the cities next weekend for family Easter time.
On Friday night I had two pretty amazing people visit me on their way through Duluth to a show, and we had time to grab a quick dinner at Pizza Luce (artichoke dip- delicious!!) and catch up a little bit. Seeing them made me long for school to be over so I can take impromptu trips to the cities to hang out with friends without feeling guilty about the mountain of homework awaiting me back home.
A month and a half of class. That's it. Then I can relax a bit for the summer (sort of). I just have to restrain from day trips out to the cliffs when it's nice weather to make sure I pass my classes enough that when I do disappear to the wilderness for the summer, I have no qualms. Maybe I'll start that after tomorrow. Since it's supposed to be nice. And 50 degrees. And I haven't been outside climbing in way too long.
Boooo early spring. Bring on the rain so I don't feel guilty for being inside, please.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Up and Running

Even though I'm just getting 'back' from my spring break (technically), with how much I worked last week I don't feel like I got much of a break at all. Ah well, too much of a break and I probably would have been bored. :)
Lots of homework to accomplish this week, including preparing a presentation for my Authorship seminar and an Annotated Bibliography and Abstract for my Authorship paper. Due to my work schedule, I'm hoping to get all of this done the next couple of days so late nights aren't required. Crossing my fingers...
I'm also throwing something on the needles to finish by Easter in the next couple of weeks, hopefully.My cousin requested another Upside-Down tulip hat for her second baby girl. I made the same hat for her first little girl about two years ago, and apparently she loves it and wears it all the time, so the younger has to have one too. It was an easy hat to make, so I'm not too worried about whipping this one together fast.
I also have more stuff that was my Grandma's to sort through, including her stash of knitting needles and crochet hooks. I'm not a crocheter, so I'm not quite sure yet what to do with the hooks, but I'm sure that if I stick them in a drawer I find something to do with them eventually.
I found out that I got a bonus at one of my jobs, and it should be enough to cover a new climbing rope!! :) Any suggestions? I was thinking a Mammut rope- super durable, probably find one to be good for both rock and ice. I'm open for other thoughts, though...

Saturday, March 20, 2010


It looks a lot like spring down at my parent's house in the cities.It's funny how when I'm down here, I feel a little bit more like I'm on a break. Mostly because I'm not running to work, or stressing out about homework or anything like that. Most of the time I'm here I knit, play board games, read, or hang out. Very low key. Even when I pull out the homework to do for a bit, it feels less rushed and more enjoyable.
This time was a little more noteworthy, because my Mom has some things from my Grandparent's house for me that I get since my Grandpa died last fall.I inherited not only my Grandma's entire knitting needle stash and a cookie jar I remember from childhood, but something I didn't even know that she had- a pink typewriter. A pink typewriter in perfect working condition. Possibly one of the coolest typewriters I've ever seen, and it's not even something found at an antique sale- this was my Grandma's that she used to type letters, probably to my Grandpa overseas in the war. I absolutely love it, as well as the family history associated with it.
Since I've had some time to relax, I also had time to finish the embroidery on the Coast Guard hat (modeled by my brother, Kyle). You can't really see the blue line of embroidery on top of the white line, but it's there. :) The hat is basically done- it just needs a fleece liner for blocking out the wind. I'll be working on the Dale sleeve the rest of the time down here, as well as on the car ride back to Duluth tomorrow. Tomorrow night I'll be finishing the hat.
It's nice to get genuine time to unwind- I think I needed it. :)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Homework Outside

When coming out of Barnes and Noble yesterday around lunchtime, I almost didn't need a coat for walking outside. I tried to stay in my apartment because I had a fair amount of homework to get done, but the outside was beckoning too much.I answered the call by throwing my climbing stuff and my books into my bag, heading down to Canal Park, and finding the perfect spot right next to the lake to read. There was a bit of a breeze off the lake, but the sun was warm and was baking the rocks I was sitting comfortably on while pushing through The Catcher in the Rye, my children's lit reading. If I wasn't out climbing in the nice weather, this was a close second.I was even in cut-offs, flashing my Minnesota-white legs all over the place, taking my shoes off to enjoy the sun.
When it finally started to cool off, I had time not only to go to ballet but also to stop by the climbing gym a little bit, running into a lot of my friends while making my arms and back nice and sore.
Today it's supposed to be just as nice before it goes crappy again, so I might work a little on my computer before heading down early to VE to enjoy more reading outside. If the weather stays nice, this trend may continue- we'll have to see. :)
Heading home this weekend to hang out with the parents a little bit, hopefully I'll be able to get some homework done in there as well. I've got a presentation on Thursday, as well as five pages of my paper and an annotated Bibliography due for my Graduate Seminar class. How all of that will fit in with work, I'm still figuring out.
At least it's spring break for a little bit longer... right? :)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

No, Really...

Against all odds, it looks like Duluth is going to get spring right now- in Mid-March. Normally we have two snowstorms to get through in March, but for some odd (and perhaps slightly unnerving reason) they haven't happen, and it doesn't look like it's going to.
Now, I know that I've already been out rock climbing this season, but remember- I was winter camping the night before, and it got chilly fast out on the cliffs. I never expected winter to just say, "Well, I give up" just when it usually gets nice and exciting (No snow days this year even! Stupid...). I'm going home this weekend, and I'm trying to decide if I should bring my ski stuff home or not- I feel like if I do, I'll be cursing Duluth for a giant snowstorm which I won't even have gear for. Hmmm...
I've been biking more and more as the weather gets nicer, especially this week since I don't have to get over to school up the hill. It's a nice start to get ready for the Brewhouse Triathlon (even though that's not 'till August), because I have high hopes that our team will get 1st this year. Which means I'm going to actually have to train this time- and somehow find a road bike to train on. Details. :)In other news, working at the climbing gym practically non-stop has helped me to get a lot of the embroidery done for the Coast Guard hat, so hopefully I'll finish that up this week in order to concentrate on other things. I have a fair amount of homework/paper writing/researching yet to do for classes, but with the weather this nice out it's hard to stay inside and concentrate.
Speaking of, I believe I'm going to have a leisurely bike down to Canal Park before work to sit outside with a cup of coffee and Uncle Tom's Cabin while the sun is still high and shining. Weather like this makes me yearn for summer, even though it's still months away...

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Sunday Morning

Spring break has officially started, though not really for me. Every staff member at the climbing gym minus Nick and I went somewhere for spring break (namely, on awesome climbing trips). I'm pretty okay with this, mostly because of the magnanimous amount of homework that I have to do, and I had an amazing trip earlier in the winter. The only downside is that Nick and I have to run the gym between the two of us, so I've put in 3 14-hour days so far, with today being slightly lighter since I'm not opening at the bookstore and we're only open 7 hours at the gym.
I know I'm focusing on being happy for the little things when I got excited to sleep past 7 this morning, and have a cup of coffee while just looking out at Lake Superior this morning.
The knitting is going on slowly but surely, with the main addition being a hat I'm making for a Coast Guard buddy:He's heading up past the Arctic Circle this summer with the Coast Guard (though I'm not sure for how long) and he requested a hat for when he goes. When I told him that all he had to do was show me a picture of the hat he wanted, he spent 3 hours on 'Paint' on his old computer designing a hat with the Coast Guard stripes and "USCG" across the brim. Because of the angle of the stripes, I'm just embroidering everything on (which will take awhile), but because he was so excited and spent so much time designing I can't say no. Plus it's easy, mindless embroidery for the thirty seconds of downtime I have at the gym.
This is my last full hectic day of work, and the last day this week I'm going to allow myself to take a break from homework. Tomorrow morning I'll be sharing my coffee with Sara Crewe from A Little Princess.
Which, of course, I'm completely okay with. :)
Have a fantastic Sunday, everyone.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Break? Please?

This week is a good example of the balance that my life has become. On one hand, I had a fantastic weekend- outdoors the entire time, climbing in beautiful weather, falling asleep with snow squelching beneath me. Then I had to come back to reality with classes, work, and watching the rain dribble down outside while I did this:Never ending research, paper prospects, and of course reading articles, school books, journals, all while keeping the coffee mug full.
Don't get me wrong- I love doing the school thing. When I really dig into my researching, I love learning new things and finding connections between things that didn't exist before, and new ways to look at things. I love the idea of teaching these things to others that are just as excited to me.
But even now, surrounded by books... I've got that crazy itch to get outside again and do something. I don't like the idea of sitting around. If I do it too much, I'll get antsy and won't pay attention. For example- last night, did laundry and worked on research all night. After work this morning, I did more research before meeting with my professor to discuss my summer fellowship application. Right now- I should be revising my prospectus for turning it in on Friday.
Instead, I'm throwing my harness into my backpack to head down to the climbing gym, because if I don't start moving today-
Spring break... please get here soon... a break would be every so nice...

Monday, March 8, 2010

Spring Climbing in March

Despite skepticism and the unknown possibilities of damp winter camping as well as climbing conditions, I embarked on Saturday up the shore for what could have been a very uncomfortable couple of days.Instead, I had a ton of fun enjoying a beautiful starry Minnesotan night, sleeping in a poofy down sleeping bag that warded off the temps in the teens, and enjoying the utterly silence of the forest that goes along with winter camping. The shovel next to the tent is from digging out a flat patch of ground, and I'm looking out towards the fire pit where s'more deliciousness was had.
Climbing at Palisade looked a little iffy when we first got there.The gates were closed and locked to get up to the top of the cliff, so we threw our gear on our backs and hiked up to the top of the cliff, wondering if the rock faces were going to be as snow-packed as the road was.Lucky for us, they weren't! In fact, the early morning sun had dried off and warmed up most of the rock faces along the cliff, despite the giant chunks of ice bordering the shoreline. It was nice and warm, at least up to 40 for the first part of the day. The wind definitely got chillier as the day went on, though, and I was pretty glad that I had extra layers with. All in all, did pretty well- I flashed a 5.10b that I hadn't done before, called Ex Nihilo, and only fell twice on the 5.11b Driving in Duluth- hopefully I can get that once clean on one of the next trips up the shore. It felt amazing to get back outside climbing on real rock, and now that I know it's dry at Palisade, let the spring outdoor climbing begin!
PS- Knitting update next time, I promise... :)

Saturday, March 6, 2010


This is probably one of the most beautiful sights I've seen in a long time. Even though I overloaded my blog with pictures of ice climbing last time, my outdoor rock climbing gear was dusted off today, inspected, cleaned, and is packed until early tomorrow morning when I rope up at Palisade! It's been ridiculously warm lately, and since the weather looks like it's going to hold at a high of 40 for the next couple of days, a bunch of us are going up the shore tonight to pitch camp, so when the sun first peeks on the cliffs we'll be roping up for the first rock climbing of the season. :) If the weather stays gorgeous we'll be there camping and climbing through Monday, which looks very plausible as of right now. I'm itching to get outside since ice season has been over, and this is going to feel great!Besides bringing homework to read beside the campfire (some cheerful Uncle Tom's Cabin for my Authorship Grad Seminar class), I'm packing with the sleeve for the Dale as well as a barter hat I'm making for a climber from the Coast Guard, Andrew. I'm just knitting the plain black shell right now, but there's going to be a lot of mindless embroidery for this one that I'll tell about later.
For now, I'm going to double check my gear, eat a giant spaghetti dinner, and head up the shore for hopefully a great opening to spring and summer climbing! :)

Friday, March 5, 2010

Good Ouray Pictures

When I went to Ouray, Colorado for ice climbing, my buddy Pete Lande met up with us one day and took pictures with his fancy expensive camera (I might want it a lot). He then proceeded to drive around most of the western part of the US to climb, hike, canyoneer, and other such fun activities for a month and a half. He just got back last week and yesterday delivered to me a CD of the better pictures he took in Ouray. Here's some of my favorites that he took:Tyler warming up in the Schoolroom section...Kicking loose some ice on The Verminator...I pull through the mixed to ice switch on the Verminator as well...Last two pics are of me pulling through the first ice section of Jesus Christ Built my Finger Crack, then starting up the crack in the mixed part under the chandelier. Very hard and beefy, but a beautiful line :)Tyler was the only one of us to get Jesus Christ Built My Finger Crack clean... and he flashed it, getting it first time, despite a loss of feet as seen here.
Sadly, with all the warm weather lately I think that unless Duluth gets a big snowstorm (crossing my fingers) ice climbing season has closed for now. Now it's just a matter of time till it's dry enough to hitch up to the rock again (finally). Maybe... tomorrow? ;)

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


Well, I knew probably a week ago that this was going to happen, but as of Sunday night, it was confirmed- I didn't finish the Dale.
The one (and really only) excuse that I feel is legitimate in this instance is the fact that the last week to really crank out the sweater came on none other than midterms week, which besides tests included a paper and a presentation in my Graduate Seminar class. I was probably doomed from the start.
I'm not saying that I didn't give it a good shot, though.I'm a little under halfway through the colorwork on the chest, and what's left is going to require patient, paying-attention knitting reserved for watching movies I've seen a million times or a knitting afternoon with Cheryl. (Please excuse the ruffled, I-just-want-to-sleep look and hair style- it was, after all, at the defeat point). I made okay progress on at least one of the sleeves, and it's getting bigger all the time. The sleeve is nice because I've been throwing it in my school bag to knit during class, since right now I just have miles of plain dark blue stockinette to finish for them. I think the biggest part of the battle is to "Just keep swimmin'" on this (to quote Dory, of course), even though the Olympics are over.
I had so much fun watching them this year. I got to see the big highlights almost every single night, and seeing the semifinal game between the US and Canada was great! I was a little bummed to not be able to stream the gold medal game at work on Sunday (believe me , I tried- any of you that know me probably understand how much swearing at technology occured in this attempt, but I ended up just watching a live-updated scoreboard- not nearly as cool) but I did work on the sleeve, because I knew it would be important to my Dad to know that I knit parts of the sweater during both US vs. Canada games. I'm really glad Canada got the Gold medal for hockey on their home soil- and I'm glad that the US put in a good fight, so it was at least a really good hockey game. Overall the Olympics were fantastic, and I can't wait until 2014 for the next ones in Russia! (Hopefully I'll have this damn sweater done by then.)
I am defeated for the gold medal, but believe me when I say I'm not giving up. In fact, I'm just getting started. :)