Sunday, May 24


View of Florence, originally uploaded by GOC53.

So... we got off a plane this morning, and found ourselves here.

Not that it's a surprise. We've been planning this trip since March.

So far it's been a whirlwind of connecting flights, stuffing ourselves with delicious food and dining with old friends. I spent my college junior year here (13 years ago, Madonna!) living with a Florentine family, who we're staying with.

Sort of. It's complicated. Basically my host family's duplex was in a building with 5 other apartments, all of which were occupied by extended family. This week we're sleeping in one of these apartments, which is vacant, allowing us the freedom to come and go but also will let us visit with everyone. (I am good friends with my host family's niece Carlotta, and by extension her parents and sisters and, well, you see how it goes. This is Italy, after all.)

It's good to be back, and I was planning to blog about our trip. Unfortunately, I forgot to bring my camera card reader, or a cable, so I can't download any pictures yet. We'll see. I'm not sure it's worth writing about this or than if there's no visual... (for now I am borrowing from Flickr.)

Wednesday, May 20

hand me downs

When we were in Philadelphia for Mother's Day, my mother pulled out a bag for me to go through. More clothes from her recently deceased friend (this is the third group of clothes I've been offered from her). For the most part this is a fun discovery, especially as this friend had great style, traveled a lot, never threw anything away, and wore the same size as me in the 1970s and early 80s.

Check out this vintage Marimekko dress.My mom has already cut and started to hem it to knee length; I have to finish the rest of it myself. I can't believe how well it fits me, and I just have to find the right occasion to wear it. An art opening would be appropriate, don't you think? Not that I go to many of those... or it would be perfect if I were to give some sort of presentation. (If only most of my work didn't involve me working alone in my studio or in a dark theater where no one sees me!)

Here is the other dress.Yes, you might notice that it resembles (er...perhaps it is) a traditional Bavarian outfit, though it's missing the apron piece. It also fits me well, and minus the blouse (which in true costume fashion only goes to my midriff and would be good for nothing besides this dress) the bodice of the dress is too loose to wear sleeveless. My mom and I considered altering it so it's more fitted, but it's got a ton of lining and shaping that makes it difficult. Which is too bad. It will have to be a fall or winter dress, paired with a sweater underneath or something.

What I love about hand-me-downs, and as the youngest grandchild on both sides of my family, I've been getting them forever, is that you never know what you are going to get. It's like Christmas, without the stress of having to like or keep something. And in this case, it's a challenge for me to wear something different. Which is a good thing, I think.

Thursday, May 14

mitts for mom

A few months ago, when my mom was visiting, she put on the Fetching Mitts that I'd made her for Christmas back in 2007. They were ragged, pilly, stretched out. She didn't seem to care - she mostly wears them while she's painting in her studio - but I was embarrassed by how they'd worn. Honestly I thought that Mission Falls 1824 was better than that. It should have held up better in nearly two years of wear. Seriously.

So when I was deciding what to make mom for Mother's Day, a new set of mitts were the obvious choice. I have sworn to use stash yarn this year (unless absolutely necessary), and was happy to find two skeins of Elsbeth Lavold Classic AL in my collection. It was perfect for the Rib-and-Cable Mitts (Ravelry Link) pattern from Interweave Knits from Spring 2006. I used some left over Brown Sheep Handpaint Originals from my stash for the borders, and when that ran out I subbed in some brick-colored Donegal tweed, also left over from an old project. (amazingly the colors blend together well, and you can't really tell unless you look closely).Mom seemed really surprised and pleased by the mitts. I really hope they wear better than the Fetchings did. Hopefully the Classic AL is a better yarn...

Notes! I made the hand about an inch longer than specified, since I like to keep my knuckles warm. Hopefully mom does too!

Wednesday, May 13

running (for a cure)

I think I mentioned a few months back that I'd started running. It all began in mid-February, when 3 people asked in one week if I was a runner, and then my friend Joanna (who was then visiting from Seattle) asked me if I wanted to run with her before I went to work. She and I ran for about a mile in the park, and it was completely glorious to be outside for an extended period in the winter. Joanna also talked about her recent conversion to running, and I was struck with the inspiration to start training on my own.

I think I should mention that I've tried running before, but without success. In middle school we had to run a timed mile every year, and it was something I dreaded for months ahead of time. In high school I actually quit playing lacrosse because I hated running so much, and in college I used to jog with a friend of mine, but we never went more than a mile. Even more recently I have run sporadically in the park, but again never went farther than about a mile.

This time, I downloaded some Couch-to-5k podcasts. The program involves running 3 times a week over the course of 9 weeks, and eases you into running in a very manageable way. About half way through my program, I realized that I'd reach the goal (5k) around the time my cousins run their annual Race for the Cure 5k in Philadelphia, which is held yearly on Mother's Day. They invited me to join them, and my runs began to take on a purpose.

Needless to say, last week was week 9 of my training and the race was on Sunday morning. Last Monday I ran my first 3 miles at the gym (the rain kept me indoors) and on Thursday afternoon I ran what I thought was about 3 miles in the park. And on Sunday morning, after a nervous night's sleep, I found myself here:
That's me waving to my cousins across the crowd.

My cousins are Real Runners, meaning that they do things like train for marathons, and one of them has a treadmill in her garage. In the period leading up to the race, they kept telling me that I'd find the race to be a piece of cake, that it was only 5 kilometers. Well, they were right. The worst part was probably the first third of the race, when I couldn't stop coughing (I think I had a bug in my throat or something) and then I got a stitch in my right side. My cousin's husband (also a marathon runner, who was running with us) advised me to reach my right hand over my shoulder and to lean back a little. The stitch went away almost immediately, and the rest was downhill (well, not literally, but it felt much easier). We finished the race in about 32 minutes.

Christopher, who didn't sleep the night before due to my nervous tossing and turning, dragged himself down and took some photos of me at the finish line. He's a good sport.I shouldn't forget to mention the fact that we were running in order to raise money for Breast Cancer. I raised $140 from donations. There were roughly 35,000 people participating in the run/walk, and I found being in that crowd rather sobering. Many people (including my cousins and I) were running in memory of a loved one, and some had signs celebrating their mom or sister or whatnot. Perhaps I was feeling overwhelmed by the race and early hour anyway, but while Christopher and I were wandering around trying to find my cousins I must have cried 3 or 4 times reading people's signs. Once I found my cousins, they advised me to stop reading people's signs, since they were so upsetting. Good idea.Anyway, I did it! and it wasn't such a big deal. Strangely, now that I've reached my goal, I don't feel like running anymore. I know that this is a mistake, that I should keep going, even if it's just to maintain my distance, but it's hard to get out there and run!

Sunday, May 3

spring is here!

We spent about an hour yesterday at the Sakura Matsuri (Cherry Blossom) Festival at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden. We live more or less across the street from the Garden, and have a membership, which meant we were able to avoid the huge lines.
This was the line at just one of the many entrances.

It was supposed to rain all day, but it was actually very sunny and comfortable.I don't know a lot about the festival, or about Japanese culture really, but it was fun to just walk around and see whatever was going on. People (of all races, though also of a certain generation) were in costumes. And not just kimonos. It was a little like Halloween or something.I had a lot of fun playing with my camera and taking pictures of people and of the plants. Everything seemed to be in bloom. And other people were taking pictures too. By the time we reach April (or May!) we're all ready to spend some time outside and in the sun. Of course today it is raining. Maybe I have to actually finish the furniture moving project I started a month ago...


I promise to update soon with some new knitting projects. The problem is that I'm in a button rut. Anyone know where to get some large, affordable (but pretty) orange buttons? I went to M&J and didn't find what I was looking for. And I can't get over how expensive they are-- how can can I justify spending more than the yarn cost on buttons?