Saturday, June 30, 2012

Snowflakes in June

The last few days have been deathly hot up here in Duluth.  I realize that what I take for "deathly hot" is probably "warm and humid" or even "not that bad" for most of the rest of the country, but when it gets above 80 degrees my body shuts down as my skin turns pink and breaks into a sweat when I try to move. (The only way I can justify this is that I do incredibly well at the opposite end of the spectrum- when the temp is below zero and the windchill is at -30, I still happily bundle up and bike to work.)
Yesterday, for example, it topped out at 88 degrees with humidity to boot.  My bike ride home was blisteringly hot and sticky all the way uphill, and when S got home from four days in the BWCA later that evening, he found this scene to meet him:

Maeby and I both succumbing to the heat, spreading our poor bodies out on the floor in an attempt to cool off.  I couldn't do more than lie on the floor with a fan on me, reading a book.  Maeby was dragging herself from spot to spot and just flopping her little body down.  Albert was hiding in any cool, shaded spot he could find.
Our little black kittens are definitely slowing down a lot in the heat.  I don't blame them- I don't have a black fur coat and I couldn't deal with the heat yesterday.
One nice thing about the blaring hot sun is its ability to dry the last of the snowflakes, and this morning I spread them all out to happily behold my progress.

Aren't they pretty?

I love that there's so many unique shapes, and some of my favorite shapes have doubles!

I still have a lot to go on this project- knitting the hexagon background around each of the snowflakes, grafting all 13 hexagons together, then knitting a border around the edge of the whole she-bang- but just being able to finish all the snowflakes before I head out for a month is a big relief for me.  It makes this project feel attainable, not just something huge and foreboding.
More heat today, but luckily I got a nice long bike ride in early this morning before breakfast and my regular ride to work.  Getting an early workout makes me feel less useless later on in the day.  I'm having to start earlier and earlier- yesterday morning I started my run at 7 am to avoid the heat, and started to overheat as I was finishing up.  Probably 6:30 tomorrow to escape the heat!
At least all this heat is a good excuse to eat more ice cream.
Pistachio Pistachio, anyone?

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Birthday Weekend!

I spent my weekend down at my parent's house in the Twin Cities, and was treated to a few fun surprises!  I got to check out a small-town fair, complete with an amateur waterskiing exhibition.

It was great fun to watch- they did a great job with all their tricks, but sometimes it was even funnier when someone would fall off and a whole pyramid of people would collapse in the water.  Great fun!
The Twin Cities is also consistently about twenty degrees warmer in temperature than Duluth, and it actually felt like summer down there.  I wore my shorts and tank tops, and felt hot for the first time.  Luckily my brother had a fun little ride to cruise around in, courtesy of his roommate!

It's a little "Midget MG", and I have no idea what year or any other info about it, but it was great fun to zip around the back roads of the island, laughing at the ridiculous little car.  I could touch the back wheel from the passenger seat!  Now that my brother is an engineer with an official job, he joked that his first "fun" purchase may be one of these little cars.  I'd have to borrow it for joy rides, though that means I'd have to learn to drive stick... bleh...

It was even warm enough to go out on Lake Superior on my aunt's pontoon boat for some hang-out time with family and extended family.  My cousin B and I were brave enough to jump in Lake Minnetonka, with our thick Duluth blood making the water seem balmy (after that first initial jolt of f*^%ing freezing chilly water)!

My birthday was on Monday, and my Mom had to make me the traditional angel food birthday cake that coupled well with raspberries (and later lingdonberry jam when I got home).
Monday was a relaxing and fun birthday day- I had the day off, and got spoiled by S.  He made me french toast in the morning, stuffed with brie and raspberries!  We did some climbing, went to Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter, and got fancy dinner at the Zeitgeist before a beautiful evening bike ride home.

S got me the perfect gift for our upcoming adventure- a 3.5 pound Granite Gear woman's pack, with comfortable shoulder and hip pads that fit my long torso perfectly!  I've been using my Men's medium ice climbing-specific pack for backpacking trips so far, so having a real backcountry backpack is like a breath of fresh air for me.  It makes me even MORE excited for Wyoming, which is quickly approaching!
All in all, a pretty fantastic weekend followed by a chill and fun birthday Monday.
A girl couldn't ask for much more. :)

EDIT: Sorry for using the adjective "great" so much.  I should make a list of "positive" words and continuously go off of that instead of mentioning that everything is always "great".  Bleh.  :)

Friday, June 22, 2012

Rainy Day Activities

While the rain poured down outside, I was able to get more snowflakes knit and blocked for the Snowflake Shawl!

I only had room to block four at a time, and with the humid, damp air it took a long time for them to dry.  I have two left to block, and only ONE left to knit before I can start working on the background for them!  Suddenly this project doesn't seem quite as ominous as I first thought.
One of my favorite snowflakes so far has to be this one:

Lots of pretty points, and a smaller point inside each one makes for a beautiful piece of art.  If I had any extra time (and yarn), I would make some of these to just hang up around the apartment for Christmas decorations (high away from kitten paws).  We'll see if that actually happens.
Remember awhile back when I made this cowl for my brother's girlfriend as part of a barter?  Well, over Grandma's Marathon weekend she came up and delivered my painting!

I absolutely love it- it's about three feet high and a foot wide, and depicts the northern lights above a tree line.    There's a textured cliff on the right side of the painting.  It goes perfectly next to the dining room table, and I couldn't be happier with this particular barter!
I'm heading to the Twin Cities this weekend to spend time with my Mom and friends, and I'm really looking forward to a break from work and some hang-out time by the lake.  My birthday is Monday when I get back, and after a week of work I'll be off on my summer climbing trip to Wyoming!!  I can't believe summer is going by so fast already- before I know it, I'll be preparing my lessons for the school year and working furiously on my sweater for the Ravelympics.
When I think about that, I'm glad that I take time off for a long vacation to really get out and enjoy myself. :)  I'm extremely lucky that I have a job where I can take that time- and goodness knows I take advantage of it!
Have a great Friday, everyone!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Duluth Flood

It's been a wild couple of days up here in Duluth.  We've had some unrelenting rain over the last few days coupled with thunderstorms, and last night into this morning the city literally couldn't take it anymore when the sky opened up and torrential downpour consumed everything.

Duluth is built on a giant hill, and unfortunately that meant that everything flowed down hill- everything from sand, rocks, to chunks of pavement.

Sinkholes appeared, swallowing cars whole.

The parking lot by the Duluth Co-op (about a five minute bike ride from my house) collapsed at one end when the creek finally broke through.

The creeks running through town exploded in size, overrunning their banks onto lawns, roads, and finally dumping into Lake Superior.

All the pictures above were taken within the last day or so, and all but the one of Chester Creek (that one I took on my bike ride to work!) are from MPR's website where people have been uploading pictures all day.  I had to bike in to work this morning through more rain, being careful to avoid traffic, giant puddles that could be hiding sinkholes, and being incredibly thankful that I live higher on the hill than most.  

West Duluth is flooded, the mall area is flooded (seen above), and people are kayaking and canoeing down main roads.  I've never seen anything like it.
Interstate 35 was even shut down- the tunnels were completely filled with water and sediment.

We're pretty good at dealing with really cold and blizzards, but with something like this all you can do is pick up the pieces and see what you can do to help.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Mess of Stuff

It's been an interesting week up here.  S got supremely sick starting Monday with pretty much everything at once- flu and cold and stomach flu for two days, then sore throat, cold, cough, and being zonked for another couple of days.  He's finally starting to get up and move around a little today without coughing up too much grossness.  Poor guy!
His week has been spent moving from the bed to the couch, watching Netflix on the Nook, being partially force-fed soup by me, and taking naps with kittens piled on top of him:

The kittens seemed to take a leaf out of his book and proceeded to snuggle up as much as possible too!

Aww, so cute when they're not eating my wool or tearing apart the house. :)
Speaking of, I've spent the time tearing apart my own house.  After spending way too much time pinning really pretty house layouts and decorations on Pinterest, and due to a stormy day off on Thursday, I proceeded to clean off my entire art desk, move around two bookshelves, and started to redecorate the entire apartment so it feels more so like a real home and not just another "stop" in the line of apartments I've lived in.  Plus, living with someone that actually helps keep it clean is a huge plus. ;)
Due to all the redecorating, the apartment is a bit of a mess right now- piles of books as I move around shelves, picture frames hanging out on the floor until I hang them, and poor S trying to find a place to nap a midst the chaos.  It doesn't help that I also have a clothing exchange planned for Wednesday night at my place, which means I've been tearing my closet apart in an attempt to get rid of as many clothes as I can!  The only room in the house that's clean is the kitchen.  By hosting the clothing exchange, it's good motivation for me to finish cleaning everything else. :)
In the middle of all of it, I took time off yesterday evening to run the William Irvin 5K in 85 degree heat and humidity.
I was lucky enough to get a pre-race picture:

where I still look dignified healthy.  I did not get a post-race picture, due to my lobster-like red heated body and crazy frizzy hair as I guzzled water in an attempt to hydrate myself.  It was an extremely hot race, and I probably pushed it harder than I should have, but I did end up with a time of 30:49, averaging just under 10 minute miles!  I was pretty happy with that, and it gives me even more motivation to enter more races in a sneaky attempt to keep myself in cardio shape.
Today is hopefully a lot of knitting time as the whole of Duluth is completely taken over by Grandma's Marathon runners, families, and spectators.  It's a fun event, and I was able to watch the Kenyans take first, second, and third place before I had to scootch through the crowds over to work.
(I don't think I'll ever do a full marathon.  Maybe a half, if someone signs up with me and runs with me the whole time.  Even then it will be a struggle.)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

FO: Lil' Bunny Hat

Last night I cranked out the ears on the Lil' Bunny Hat, and today it's ready to be sent off to my old high school friend with a little girl on the way!

Pattern: Bunny Tail, from Susan B. Anderson's amazing book Itty-Bitty Hats
Yarn: Sublime Yarns Baby Cashmere Merino Silk DK weight
Needles: Size 7 Bamboo
Mods: None!
Gift/Barter: Gift- Stoff is an old friend from High School, as in we went to prom together "as friends" and have always kept in touch over the years.  I was lucky enough to watch him get married last fall, and he'll be welcoming a little baby girl this September!  I wanted to get it knit up and sent before I left on my trip and I would come back to getting things ready for the beginning of the semester.
Worst Part: This might sound silly, but I'm never a huge fan of carting an entire book around for one pattern.  I'll definitely be making a paper copy to carry around with me next time.
Best Part: I always love an excuse to play with this yarn- it's sooooo soft!  Maybe someday a sweater??

I've been working on several things from my list from yesterday, one of which was making my apartment more of a "home".  One of my incredibly talented friends does photography, and in exchange for a hat he made some prints for me to hang.  
Two smaller ones are of me climbing (ice climbing on one, bouldering on the other) and a larger one is of the northern lights from the Gunflint Trail this winter, in northern Minnesota. 
They look incredible, and I can't wait to hang them up!  This weekend, I'm also receiving the much-anticipated painting that my brother's girlfriend made for me in exchange for a cowl!  Once I get that, I'll be moving stuff around in my living room and start trying to figure out how to coordinate all my mis-matched hand-me-down furniture. :)
Last but not least, our little garden is finally producing some vegetables!
The cherry tomatoes taste incredible- a ridiculous amount of flavor in a tiny little fruit!  
The green peppers aren't quite big enough to pick yet, but I'm excited to make a stir fry out of them (Well, let's be honest- I'm excited to watch S make a stir fry out of them for me to eat)!
Busy bee.... and off again!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Summer List

I wrapped up my dance season on Saturday, and took the last couple of days easy.  Sunday was a hot, humid day, so I ran errands with S, stopped at the bookstore and sipped an iced white chocolate mocha while starting a new book, had a burrito out in the sun (and burned my shoulders after only a half-hour outside), and finished the night with a movie (Prometheus- awesome special effects) and some pizza.  After work yesterday, I finished my book, hung out with my kittens and a climber friend, and started going through my closet in preparation for a clothing exchange I'll be hosting.
While going through clothes last night, I realized that I had the whole summer ahead of me, and a lot to get done before the semester starts.  I also have a lot of fun stuff to get in.  Thus, I made a small list of things to do this summer, with a large range of stuff to accomplish (or not accomplish, as it were)!

1- Cook for myself (and possibly S) at least once a week.
2- Have at least one picnic down by Lake Superior.
3- Ride my bike everywhere, unless it's absolutely pouring outside.
4- Run 2-3 days a week outside.
5- Complete Stacey's bag (sewing project).
6- Have a movie marathon day when it's storming outside.  Bonus points if all snacks consumed are healthy.
7- Finish S's sweater for the Knitting Olympics.
8- Finish the body of my Dad's Dale of Norway by the end of August.
9- Lead El Matador on Devil's Tower (5.10b) and Mr. Lean at Palisade Head (5.11d) on gear.
10- Send at least 4 pieces of mail per week to various friends and family.
11- Go to Duluth's "Movies in the Park" and watch a movie under the stars.
12- Visit my friends that homestead and learn a little about homesteading.
13- Learn some duets on fiddle (me) and guitar (S).
14- Get my library card "OK" again and begin checking books out of library again.
15- Pick all the music for my tap competition lines next year- START CHOREOGRAPHING
16- Make our apartment more of a home.
17- Paint!
18- Work on writing my kid's book with my Mom
19- Visit friends in the cities at least a few times this summer.
20- Prepare everything for the start of fall semester.

I figure 20 is a good amount of stuff, especially when some will be easy to tick off and some will be incredibly difficult.  Summer is a time to both get things done and slow down to enjoy life.  Being gone through the whole month of July will be incredible for my climbing trip, giving me some much-needed "away" time from the working world.
Duluth is also an amazing city to summer in.  Many locals (myself included) state that we put up with the long, dark, and very cold winters for the incredibly perfect Duluth summer weather.
I'm pretty excited to have started my summer.  :)
(image via Pinterest)

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Wait.. What?

The last week has been absolutely stuffed with dance.  The recital for the studio that I teach at is this evening, complete with a teacher dance I'm participating in.  It's been a ridiculously busy week as I learn a hip-hop dance (while trying not to look like a chicken), get my girls ready, finish making and handing out dancer thank-yous, and help the director as much as I can with all the logistics of putting on a show with 100+ dancers.
Last night, right after the third run-through of our teacher dance, one of the other teachers approached me and asked me if I liked running.
Me- "About as much as I can- I've done a few 5Ks to try to stay in cardio shape, but nothing huge.  I'm kind of bad at running."
Her- "Oh, you've done 5Ks?  Perfect!  Want to run one for me?"
Me (in the post-dance happiness of a good run-through)- "Oh sure, no big deal!  When?"
Her- "Just the William Irvin 5K next weekend.  It's in the evening and no biggy."
Me- "Sweet, let me know the logistics whenever!"
Her- "Awesome!  Thank you, I was hoping not to waste my entry!"
It was only after the rehearsal was over and I was home eating a little post-dance ice cream that what I fleetingly agreed to suddenly sunk in.
I'm going to be running a 5K.
Next weekend.
During the annual Grandma's Marathon festivities.
Even though I haven't actually gone for a run in... weeks?  Probably over a month?


Well, at least I only agree to a 5K... right?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Bad Kitty

Lately, Maeby has really grown to accept her kitten-ness and spent the last month or two pushing her boundaries around the apartment.  She's up on the kitchen counter, in the closet pulling down dresses that have strings hanging off of them, and basically being a pest anywhere she possibly can.
I learned right away with her that yarn was not safe to be left out overnight.  S and I have already learned that food left on the counter or coffee table for more than a minute is not safe.
Tonight, despite all prior warnings, I walked away from the baby hat I'm knitting, leaving a squishy ball of the Sublime cashmere merino silk safely in a ball on the couch as I went to the kitchen to put the spaghetti noodles in a boiling pot of water.
Alas, it was a minute too long.
In that time, Maeby (with some help from Albert) managed to tear around half the living room with the yarn in her mouth, which she promptly chewed apart and then proceeded to swallow about a foot of (which she yacked out and I had to pull out of her throat and mouth- yuck!).  I then had to rewind the entire rest of the ball of yarn that was strewn around the apartment.  Luckily, I was pretty close to the end of the hat, and there wasn't a ton of yarn left.
The point was still made.
8 month old rambunctious kitten and anything not glued down or locked away is not safe.
ESPECIALLY not yarn.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Finally- outside!

A gorgeous forecast and a short closing shift in the evening on Saturday meant a whole bunch of outside time and climbing for me!  After a couple weeks of nothing but rain, a full weekend of beautiful weather- a weekend off, nonetheless- was like a cup of pure happiness for my soul!
S and I biked from our apartment to one of our small outdoor crags called the Whoopie Wall, and did some trad leading for the first time this year.

I love to Trad Lead.  You place gear in the rock as you go up, and you have to climb above each piece with a larger potential fall.  If your gear isn't placed well, it could also pop out when force is put on it, making your fall even farther.  It requires the climber to be in a completely different state of mind (or at least it does for me), trusting that they can climb something and not fall, and also trusting their gear and gear placements.
We started with some easier stuff, easing ourselves back into the mindset needed for trad climbing.  We have a lot of trad climbing we'll be doing on our month-long trip to Wyoming in July, so we want to get as much practice as possible!
Yesterday we drove up to my favorite haunt, Palisade Head along Lake Superior for a full day of climbing.  I worked a couple of my projects, both Mr. Lean (5.11d) and Oz (5.12b).  Not going to lie- both felt pretty rough.  I fell only once on Mr. Lean, though the whole route felt pretty desperate, and the cracks tore the backs of my hands apart. I pulled through the crux on the last part screaming, and stood on the ledge panting with a gigantic grin, beaming up at S and saying "THAT WAS AMAZING!" between gasps for breath.

I didn't get any pictures climbing since it was just the two of us, but I did get a picture of my friend Mat leading The Poseidon Adventure, the 5.11d that I named my big beautiful shawl after and the same climb that I pulled a chunk of rock off the size of my torso when I was climbing (scaring the daylights out of both myself and my belayer).
Going outside really motivated me to train harder, so I'm completely ready to climb hard on my trip.  One more week of dance before my nights are free to climb outside a TON! :)

PS- I started and got pretty far on a baby hat for my friend, which I'll hopefully finish in the next day or so, and I'll post pictures then. ;)

Friday, June 1, 2012

The Big Ones

After I finished the beret for Sarah, I realized that the only thing I really have on my needles right now are long-term projects.  Ones that I can't finish up in a weekend (unless I knit all day and all night, which is reserved for the knitting Olympics).  That being said, I feel like I'm making immense progress on both of them.
I've been working slowly but surely on the Lavender Cardigan.  
This is a good project to keep at work, where during slow periods I can chip away at the endless rows of stockinette.  I love that this cardigan has a large, draping opening in the front, but this means I have to knit a large, draping opening.  The pattern calls for size 9 needles, and in order to get gauge I had to go waaay down to size 5, which makes progress even slower. 
(Oh, and for those doubters- notice that I mentioned gauge- YES I did INDEED make a gauge swatch!  Believe the impossible!  I actually had to make THREE as I kept going down in needle size!)
It finally feels like it's growing, especially when I try it on.
Albert came in to check out my photo shoot, and we learned that he has a great appreciation for yummy alpaca yarn.
Maybe too much of an appreciation.  I don't need more kitten power ready to attack my wool.
I spent a couple hours this morning with a large cup of coffee and an even larger box of pins to block the first six snowflakes for Kim's wedding shawl, and despite all the pokes and sore fingers, the reward was incredible:
7 more snowflakes to knit before I'll start adding on the borders.  I feel like this project is going faster than I originally anticipated, but a large part of that is being able to cast on and finish about a snowflake a night when I have the time.  Hopefully I can keep up this pace.  My goal is to finish both of these big projects before I leave for Wyoming at the end of the month.  We'll see how that actually goes. ;)
Off to enjoy the beautiful sunshine for my day off.  I have a big list of "to-do" for the day, plus a picnic in the park with my guy later this afternoon.  
Yeeeeah fridays!  Enjoy your own ;)