Saturday, November 29, 2008

WIP Attack

Taking a break from my Crochet By Number portrait. I have 17 rows left to do. Almost there . . .

I have some upholstery fabric that I am going to use for a backing. Color #251 or #252 are going to be my crocheted border. I have a ton of it left and I want a solid crocheted border.

I am happy with the way my Tiger Eye scarf is coming out too. I cannot wait to finish it so I can start wearing it. It is freezing here right now, 40's in the mornings - brrrr.

I have gotten about 15 rows of the foot done on my Austermann Step, sock 1. I really like the colors in this yarn. Loverly :D

Last but not least my little leftover Yukon yarn scarf. Another warm accessory that will come in handy. I have never crocheted with Knit Picks sock yarn before, it is developing in an interesting pattern. This picture is not as clear as it could be, but there will be more later.

Just a quick knitting and crocheting update. In previewing this post, I notice I am getting my BLUE on. Wait until you see the afghan I am planning. Blue lovers are going to drool. Back to my project.

Monday, November 24, 2008


I am thankful for my family, friends, job, home, dog-child, and bit of remaining sanity.

I got to actually knit this weekend. I checked on my Ravelry messages but I stayed away from the forums, yarns and patterns. You know, it's great to have all of that there within the click of a mouse - but once I fall down that rabbit hole I don't get any knitting done ;} I did spend quite a bit of time in the iTunes podcast listings this weekend however. I searched for new knitting podcasts, some I'd heard about from my current favorite podcasters. Guess what I found, a bunch of CROCHET podcasts. Cool!!!! I will have to update my sidebar with links when I choose my favorites. I had just selected the Lion Brand Magnolia Afghan for my winter cover up so it is very appropo that I found some new Crochetcasts. A couple of them are video podcast at that.

Digression - my Michael the wonderful just put a bag on my desk. L'Occitane En Provence Lavender Shower Gel. He wanted something to soften his hands so I gave him one of my L'Occitane lotions (they come in a generous 3 -pack). I told him that I love the Amande Almond Shower Oil (thanks Miss Adrienne), but that I was dying to try the Lavender Shower Gel and voila. He bought me some. He is a wonder and a joy.

Ok, back to crafting. I am about 60 percent through my crochet portrait and I plan to finish it over the 4 day weekend (we get the Friday after Thanksgiving off). I finished quite a bit of the Tiger Eye in Sundara scarf, the current length is about a third of the length I want the scarf to be. Tonight I must finish turning the heel of my Austermann Step sock. I love the striping on this sock, I cannot wait to wear them!! I would love to share pictures, but every time I say I am going to post pictures at a certain time something happens and I don't get to. So lets just say you'll see it all eventually.

In other news, I just ordered about 20 Knitting, Crochet and Needlecraft Mystery books from Edward R Hamilton Bookseller. If you have never shopped with him, I highly recommend you check out his listings. I am not paying more than $6.95 for any of the titles and he has a flat shipping rate of $3.50. Check him out!!! Seriously !!! {whispering behind my hand} He even has two Alice Starmore books in stock for less than $20.00 each! I have been shopping with him since the 1980's, when I was a poor college student. I am a faithful customer. I always order something every year, I don't want him to go out of business - EVER.

My lunch time is over by 3 minutes, gotta skeddadle.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Rest of The Cruise

October 29, 2008 Cruising

Whohooo I picked up my jewelry from the Parfum shop, the gold by the inch, and my Ring from Shannon. I also got my going ashore pics from the photo gallery. The ring fits perfectly, I wore it to dinner. I had to pass it around the dinner table, what woman can resist handling a big beautiful diamond. No pressure on the husbands we dine with though, cause Rita’s ring (she sits next to me) is 3 karats if it’s a carat. But they appreciated the beauty, you know. The rest of the day was spent doing more ship exploring and knitting in the Champagne Bar. Please note that the bar was closed at the time, I do not knit and drink at the same time. I cast on my Yukon socks, my last Knit Picks Yukon yarn. I grabbed my Sudoku puzzle. Had lunch in the Windjammer, with the lady from Germany we met at Breakfast a couple days ago. Her name is Margaret, but they call her Gretel. She is traveling with a group from Germany near Berlin, but she likes doing things alone. They are doing tours, but she just wants to hang out on the ship. She has promised to translate the ball band on my Austermann Step for me. I still want to know how they get the Aloe Vera and Jojoba on the yarn.

October 30, 2008 Acapulco, Mexico

Okay, 7,000 degrees is not my idea of a good time so I shopped at the marketplace at the pier where the ship docked instead of taking a cab to the town center. Mom stayed onboard again. I did purchase the two souvenirs I want to commemorate this cruise. A wood carving hand painted with a native theme and a hand woven shawl from Guerrero, just outside of Acapulco. I bought postcards, magnets, and such as well. Then I got back onboard and found Mom in the Windjammer with her new friends, a couple from Philadelphia - Yogiwanda and Gilbert (Yogi for short). I grabbed something cold to drink and went to the stateroom to put on a dry top. Speaking of cold drinks, they are serving the best lemonade, fruit punch and iced tea on this cruise.
Then I went to the Champagne bar and knit while watching TV shows on my iPod. Slow and easy day.

October 31, 2008 Huatulco, Mexico

I loved this place. This has been my very favorite port so far. The people were not aggressive. They were warm and welcoming and the stores were bright clean and friendly. I patronized every store along the center of the little town. A few postcards here, a magnet or key chain there. I bought my sister a crazy t-shirt. I have to remember to take a picture of it before I give it to her. Also the temperature was very nice, 80 degrees with a breeze.
Today was Johnny’s birthday so the dining room wait staff and everyone at our table sang happy birthday to him. We were served a really excellent chocolate birthday cake - Yumm!!

November 1, 2008 Cruising

I needed a nap today. I am almost finished with the gusset decreases of my second sock. We have our first tour tomorrow. Mom will finally be getting off the ship. I picked up my formal night photos from the photo gallery. I discarded most of them, but two of them came out very nicely. I was disappointed that we did not have a towel animal tonight. I don’t know what happened to our stateroom attendant. I had to call the desk to get a copy of the daily compass so we know when we are docking, etc. We also decided to order room service because our tour leaves at 8:15 am and we have been sleeping in late so far each day.

November 2, 2008 Puntarenas, Costa Rica

The TAM tour package vendor sucks. They had tours for our ship and the Serenade of the Seas all scheduled to leave the pier at the same time. The buses were not marked and the first tours to leave were the poor people they had lined up in the back the furthest from the transportation. Seriously - it was 195 degrees in Puntarenas, 98 in the morning and 97 in the afternoon. And there was no where to sit while you waited for your tour to leave in the midst of all the exhaust fumes from the ships and the buses leaving. Then at almost 9 am they tell us and the poor people from the Serenade that they have overbooked the Oxcart Factory Shopping Tour and they need volunteers to take another tour instead. They shed four people. Then instead of our transportation coming down the pier like all of the other ones, we had to walk about a mile to the town and wait in the dirt on the side of the road until our van shows up, and they still have 3 too many passengers. So they put these three people in fold down seats in the center of the van for this 1 hour 30 minute trip up into the mountains to Sarchi. All I can say is the factory and shopping were wonderful, but the disorganization and discomfort sucked. I was very happy to get back aboard. VERY HAPPY.

November 3, 2008 Cruising

You know I am getting very fond of these cruising days. I finished my socks. I somehow managed to make a pair out only one skein of yarn so I started crocheting a scarf with the other skein. I love the way the color blocks are developing. I have met another knitter named Gwen, she is from Boulder Colorado. She is knitting a beautiful white baby blanket. It used the same chevron/ripple stitch in the monkey socks. It has a simple garter stitch border. This lucky lady is retired from owning her own yarn store. She worked in it, then bought it from the owner and then she sold it and retired. She now works a few hours in the college bookstore she live near, ah what a perfect life. Tomorrow we reach the Panama Canal. I went to the lecture today. It was fascinating. The only bummer is that we will reach the first Locke at 5:45 am. I just cannot get up at the time. I will have to wait until we get to the second locke around 7 am. More on that tomorrow.

November 4, 2008 Panama Canal Cruising and Cristobal Pier, Panama

Amazing, the Canal was truly amazing. The mules are actually electric trains that keep the ship from scrapping the sides of the canal walls. Watching the water rush in to raise us to the next level was cool. it’s too hard to describe.

November 5, 2008 Cruising

Nice quiet day. I cast on my Austermann Step socks and Margaret/Gretel translated the ball band for me. Very interesting process that they treated the wool nylon blend yarn to hold the Aloe and Jojoba for at least 40 washings. Margaret had never heard of this type of yarn and said she will be trying to find a store that sells it when she gets home. I told her about the Wollmeise and the Handgefaerbt yarns too. But I don’t think she is into computers. Yogi is somewhat into computers so I have promised to send her links to the free patterns for the shawls I brought with me. She thought they were lovely. Although I got them through Ravelry the designers still offer the free patterns on their web sites or blogs. I will have to send her an invitation to join Ravelry.
I got an e-mail from some of my yarn dealers, I mean suppliers. I missed a Loopy Ewe sneak up and WoolGirl had a sale too. I have some comments from you all to moderate too. But at .55 per minute I fear I will have to wait until I get home. I sent a quick reply to an e-mail from my Sister and just scanned the name of senders and it cost $11.65. But that is still a gazillion dollars cheaper than phone calls from the ship. Linda and Chris called his Mum to check on the kids and the call was $169.00. We have another tour tomorrow in Cartegena, Colombia. I have already romanced my stone so I will just be looking for a hat for Leon and the usual keepsakes - keychain, magnets, postcards. We are taking the City Drive Tour to the Palace, Dungeons and Marketplace. More on that tomorrow.
Congratulations and Condolences to President Elect Obama.
Condolences to the family of Michael Crichton. I am a huge fan of Michael Crichton and own and have read all of his books. I will miss his creativity and brilliance.

November 6, 2008 Cartegena Colombia

We took the City Drive, Shopping and Palace of the Inquisition Tour. It was extremely well organized. Each passenger was given a blue tooth receiver and fan. The driver and tour guide could find passengers via GPS if they got lost. We saw a lot of Cartegena and did a lot of shopping. The street people were too aggressive and it was hard to fight them off. I was glad to get back to the ship. We met a previous Ms. Colombia at one of the jewelry stores. I bought some Aztec style earrings of 18K gold, beautiful. Our friends Chris and Linda won the Love and Marriage game show in the Aurora Theater, it was a hoot. They showed it on the stateroom televisions all day. We did not see Margaret today, I hope she is okay.
We had some pretty disappointing meals again today. Even the Windjammer did not have much to offer. The so called Key Lime Pie was a Jello Pudding Custard type pie. They had nothing on the dessert menu and the spinach dip was just some cooked spinach with cheddar cheese melted on it. Horrible.
Being on a cruise is like being in a small town like Mayberry RFD or Petticoat Junction. You know the people you see every day at the coffee shop or local café. Then there are the folks you see every now and then around town and you say hello and ask how their day has been. When you are out in the ports you look for and are comforted by familiar faces from your hometown/cruise ship. After all it is a foreign country in which many of us don’t speak the language. There is an instant artificial bond with these people because you are all in the same boat.

November 7, Cruising

First day at sea after all the ports of call. Our tour yesterday was very well organized and we really enjoyed it. Cartegena was not scary at all. Some of the vendors were a little aggressive but it wasn’t too too bad. The sellers liked making deals which made it a fun shopping day. I got 3 pairs of silver earrings for $5, 3 key chains for $5, nuff said!! We did not see Margaret today. We went to the Windjammer a little late. Tonight is Lobster, finally.

November 8, 2008 Cruising

Last night aboard. We finished our packing before we went to dinner so all we have to do is pack our clothes we wore tonight and put our bags out. I am going to go to the Windjammer for coffee and donuts so I can take my medications before we get off the ship. I am glad I will be back in my own bed soon

November 9, 2008 Traveling
We leave in group 4 at 9:15 Hopefully it will flow smoothly. They were out of donuts, glad I am getting off the ship today - otherwise I would have to start a mutiny.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Day 3 Cabo San Lucas

Day 3

October 28, 2008
Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

I picked up today’s Sudoku puzzle on the way to the stateroom after breakfast in the dining room. Breakfast was open seating and we met some nice people. I cannot remember any of the names however because we were all carrying on various conversations and did not really introduce ourselves properly. That’s what tends to happen at open seatings. I just remember there was a lady from Germany eating solo, a couple from Ottawa Canada, a couple from Minnesota wearing McCain-Palin buttons. I can’t remember anyone else’s hometowns. I dropped off my Sudoku puzzle sheet and Mom and went to the Colony Club room to get a tender ticket to go ashore early. The tenders are reserved for passengers taking tours, then general tendering begins at 1 pm.

My number was 10 and I was able to leave the ship and tender to Cabo San Lucas at 11:30 am, not bad. Tendering is always an experience. I was balancing precariously on the last seat in a row hoping to stay seated as we dipped through the waves and back wash from the speed boats and jet skiers flying around us. Anywho I reached Cabo safely and left the pier with a crowd of other cruisers. There were three other RCCL ships in Cabo the same time we arrived. We were immediately bombarded by cabbies and private boat and tour operators. There were lots and lots of women and children selling silver jewelry, whistles, dolls, dresses, etc. I just kept walking past all of them. Not interested. The first stand that caught my eye, at which I immediately stopped was the snake handler. Yep, there was a young woman who was offering to take pictures with her 8 foot long python named Syd. I took two pictures with Syd. She was not charging for taking the pictures, she just had a basket in her stand that said tips welcome. I dropped a couple of bucks in her basket. There were also who women had iguanas and lizards, but they just weren’t as interesting as Syd.

I proceeded from there to town where the shopping area was. I stopped at the Tesoro Hotel to mop my face and cool off. It was about 3,000 degrees in Cabo. I drank some water then moved on. Oh I almost forgot, I saw the biggest Roach I have ever seen in my life - including the flying ones I saw in St. Thomas. It’s legs were about two inches high and it was at least six inches long. It walked across the sidewalk in front of me. I could not get my camera out in time to take a photo, but I will never forget that puppy. Moving on.

I finally made it to Diamonds International. I must have looked pretty pathetic, they got me a chair and Kleenex and a soft drink. It also could have been the VIP card I presented them with thanks to Shannon. Then we started working on my dream earrings and ring. The earrings were easy. I got a pair of studs totaling .84 karats and they will be just lovely in my second holes. Then the real fun started. I told them I was interested in a chocolate diamond, they had none in stock but they had some other rare colored diamonds. Of course she brought me an outrageously gorgeous 2 karat brilliant diamond that was about $10K over my budget. We looked at many diamonds and I ended up purchasing a beautiful canary yellow diamond with a very high Egl rating because it is naturally colored not treated. It is just under a karat .99 and I LOVE IT. I picked a simple gold setting and they made me a perfect ring. Shannon picks up all of the jewelry for the ship and I did not have to wait two hours for it in the 5,000 degree heat.
I found a souvenir store a few doors down. I purchased a few things and met a really nice family. The owner started speaking to me in rapid fire Spanish. I was like, whoa - mas despacio por favor. He said in English, your Spanish is so good, Mexicali Spanish I thought you were fluent. I was very pleased to hear that - kudos to Rosetta Stone South American lessons. Yay!!
That was all I could take I headed back to the tender station. Said Gracias, No another 500 times and made it to the pier just as a tender for our ship was about to leave. Thank goodness, it was 8,000 degrees by then. I got back to the stateroom stripped and jumped in the shower. I even had to wash my hair. Only the couple from Calgary, Shannon and Kim made it to dinner. I set the safe combination and put my earrings away. All in all I enjoyed our first port of call.

RCCL Spotlight on Cabo San Lucas
Location - Los Cabos located on the southern tip of the Baja California peninsula is the the nickname for the two neighboring "capes" of San Jose del Cabo and the cruise ship destination, Cabo San Lucas.
Population 41,000 people.
Languages Spanish and English.
Currencies are pesos, US dollars, travelers checks and credit cards.
Time Zone Mountain Standard Time.
For centuries the Baja peninsula was an isolated area inhabited by Cochimi Indians. In the 16th century, lured by rumors of Aztec gold, the Spanish explorer Hernan Cortez sent ships to explore the area. The first ships landed at what is now La Paz, where many crew members were slain by the Cochimis. Though the survivors found no gold, they did discover a bounty in pearls. Aside from the pearl trade, the Baja Peninsula held no wealth for the Spaniards. In the 17th century, the Jesuits arrived and founded the first mission at Loreto in 1697. In all, 30 missions were founded by Jesuits and later by Franciscans and Dominicans. By the 1850s, as disease depopulated the peninsula, all were abandoned.

In 1834, US President James Polk sided with Texans who were tired of paying taxes to Mexican generals. Troops marched on La Paz and San Jose del Cabo. At the bargaining table, Americans conceded they didn't need any more desert than they already had. Baja was thus left to the Mexicans. Today, Cabo San Lucas is unspoiled and is one of the world's best fishing areas. It remains Los Cabos' primary tourist attraction with beautiful white sand beaches, great shopping and a large American retiree population.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Vacation Journal 2008 Day 1 & 2

October 26, 2008 San Francisco to San Diego

We left Antioch at 5:30 am with our very friendly driver Wanda. There was little or no traffic which was a blessing because W was driving a rental and did not know how to control the sound system. It scanned through stations for the entire hour from home to airport. So annoying. Our flight actually left on time and we had decent seats. We were met at the baggage area by Royal Caribbean representatives that whisked our luggage off to the bus loading area. We still had about 40 minutes before we could go to the ship, enough time to hit the restroom and get some coffee.

We reached the pier in about 15 minutes and the lines were moving very fast. We boarded the ship and went directly to the Windjammer Café for lunch. For those of you who have never taken a RCCL cruise, the Windjammer is the informal dining room at the top of the ship where you can enjoy buffet style dining from about 6 am to 11 pm every day. We had an excellent lunch and met our first new friends, Linda and Chris from a small town just outside of London. They were delightful and we chatted and ate until we were able to go to our staterooms.

Our stateroom on deck 8 is nice enough and we have a private balcony and refrigerator and a safe. Good enough. Our first night in the dining room is casual. Our dining table mates consist of a couple from Calgary Canada, Shannon and Kim. A couple from Oahu, Hawaii, Marcie and Vick. Two couples from Baton Rouge, Louisiana Johnny and Rita, Brad and Myrna. All very nice people. Our wait staff are both rookies, Annette from Jamaica and Carlos from Puerto Rico. They are so sweet, we are being very patient with them and they learn more each day.

October 27, 2008 Cruising

We are at sea all day. I have explored the ship from deck 12 down to deck 4. I went to the library and checked out two books and picked up the daily Sudoku puzzle. We received coupon books as Gold Members of the Crown & Anchor society. I will check out some of the offerings. I will definitely get the $5.00 credit for wifi internet usage. The bar credit for buy one get one free bottled water. I also plan to get a new bracelet for a $1.00 per inch of gold chains. I never like the style of the $1 chains, and end up with the $4 or $5 per inch gold and silver jewelry instead. We visited the photo gallery to purchase our welcome aboard photos, but the computer was down. We will have to get them tomorrow.

I attended the Shopping seminar where we were given the maps and tips for all of the ports of call by Shannon the RCCL professional/personal shopper. I have been envious - lets make that Extremely Envious of my friend Julie's Chocolate/Champagne diamond ring. She bought a loose stone in New York and they created a setting for her. The ring is gorgeous. So I decided I must see if I can find something just as lovely in a country in which I can buy it without duty fees or sales taxes. Therefore, I attended the shopping seminar. Shannon invited us to her desk to get VIP cards to take with us shopping. I got one for Diamonds International (owned by Debeers) to find the diamond studs I want and one from Milano Jewelers to find a chocolate/champagne diamond for a ring.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Oh My Blog!

Do you ever read your blog? I was just looking for a picture I knew was in an old post - 2006 or 2007 - and I scrolled back through my posts looking for it. I was amazed at how many swaps, yarn purchases, patterns, projects and so forth I have gone through in the last 2 plus years. Really amazed!!! It makes me miss swaps a little, but I had two bummers in a row and have sworn off of them. I miss Harry Potter a little now too. There was so much going on in the Potterverse this time last year and in 2006. My yarn tastes have completely evolved also, from Webs to Wollmeise. Lastly is the podcasters that no longer broadcast. I truly miss them, I hope they are all well and crafting.

One more day, then I will have the whole weekend to catch up on my posts and photos. I have socks to take pictures of and some wips I really want to make some progress on. It is freezing in San Francisco - quite a difference from the 95 - 98 degree temps in Mexico and South America. The first wip I want to finish is a scarf. I can also start using my Adamas and Japanese Feather & Fan shawls every day, since the cruise nights I saved them for are past. I still need to put my one time use cameras in to be developed. I cannot wait to see the pictures I took with the python named Syd.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Where in The World am I

I went on vacation. I actually volunteered to lock myself in a small room with my Mother for 14 days. I entrusted my Indy and his belly to my Sister, and sailed away South. The next several posts will be a retrospective look at those 14 days. Towel animals and all. Some knitting got done and a bit of crochet. Some posts may take some time, but all will be shared that can be remembered or recalled via photographic assistance.

I peeked - I have 3000 unread e-mails waiting at work - the maximum allowed. About 300 messages for my various personal e-mail accounts. A huge packet of snail mail with new yarn catalogs from Yarn Market, Halcyon, Patternworks and Herrschners. Wish I was still on vacation!!