Nobody Knows Me

In which these lyrics come to life.

The one smart thing I thought I did for my trip was route my transfers through Southern cities. In December, I spent a goodly amount of time in a plane on a runway in Minneapolis being de-iced. So I smugly arranged a transfer in Charlotte -- where on the day I flew, winds were so high that planes had to be rerouted to a single runway. We spent more than an hour on the plane sitting and/or driving around the airport.
We were intermittently allowed access to our electronic equipment. But I waited until we were actually in the air to plug into my iPhone.
And there I found the nicest present from my sweetie: While I was squishing clothes and electronics around my yarn, Joe had loaded up the iPod with Lyle Lovett -- Live in Texas -- and Big Medicine, featuring my second-favorite Joe: Joe Newberry.
Listening to it -- and picturing Joe's stealth downloading -- made me totally happy. And it eased the cramp in my left arm from knitting while trying not to elbow the woman next to me and the crick in my neck on the right side from dodging sneezes from across the aisle.
It's the best thing you can do for your sweetie before s/he goes on a trip. Add it to your pre-trip list.

Blog the Third

In which I pass through my first security point:

I was more curious than concerned when the security guard pulled my carry-on over to the side for a visual check.
“Anything sharp in here?” she asked, unzipping the bag.
Huh, I thought. How sharp? Do knitting needles count?
Not wanting to be mistaken for a wiseacre, I said no.
She rifled through my suspicious-looking electronic cords & attachments bag. Then headed to my toiletries – and found the culprit: a small bottle of mouthwash. It was legal & all, but they couldn't ID it on the X-ray – next time, it gets checked.
She was very pleasant as she explained this, all the while attempting to zip the bag. But the balls and skeins of yarn I'd tucked around the edges kept spilling out. She'd push one in and another would edge out.
She giggled.
“Yeah, I travel with a lot of yarn,” I said. "I'm editor of Interweave Crochet magazine." (It's really fortunate that I can say that now, because before I'd just have to confess to being a lunatic.)
"Really?" she exclaimed. "My mother crochets! I want to, but I haven't learned. Did you make that sweater?"
And so we chatted yarnstuff while folks shuffled into their shoes and made their way through the scan.
Yarn is a great leveler.

Blog the Second

In which I pack for an extended business trip, when I am used to packing for a 15-minute commute:

So here's the deal: The trip is nearly two weeks long and involves two climates (Loveland, Colorado and San Diego), professional clothes & play clothes, technical equipment AND, believe it or not empty space for product samples from TNNA.
Here's what I did: I laid out all the clothes I thought might work for the trip. Then I put a fourth of them away. Then I put another fourth of them away. And it all almost fit.
Because here's the other thing I needed to pack (I neglected to mention this, because in my life it's a given): Enough knitting and crochet projects to last two weeks. Including many hours on a plane or waiting for a plane. That's a good bit of knitting & crocheting. I initially planned to bring five projects. I scaled back to three, then, at the last minute snuck in one more.
One project is socks. On the last trip, I finished a whole sock in three days (including several hours of plane travel/waiting & one meeting). So when I packed the sock stuff, I asked Joe, So do I pack enough yarn to make both socks? Without missing a beat, he said, I think you do. I love that man.
I squished and pushed and repacked the bags so that I could fit my favorite boots -- leaving behind some pants and a sweater.
Note that at no point did I consider – or did my husband suggest – that we leave out any of the yarn.


Hey folks,
Sorry I've been out of touch. I've been working.
But bonus: You get three blogs in a row!
Blog the First: Creating a Home Office

The office I had in November was swell for what I did in November – that is, a variety of things that I did on my own schedule, in whatever space worked for that task. Joe worked in our designated office, and I mostly worked at a table in the rec (wreck?) room, near my crafty things.
This job calls for a whole 'nother kind of ordering system: space to post a schedule, a calendar, an action list, a phone, a computer. And all of this needs to be in a room with A Door That Closes.
Since Joe works from home also, we need to share the office - including a printer, computers, phone, book shelves. It's a pretty small space, so it called for some expert space wrangling. We called in an expert: my brother.
Chris, owner, operator and grand poobah of Angel City Builders knows space.
Chris guided us through the process of making a schematic. (And by “we” I mean my son, who is studying architecture and space arrangement this semester). We measured the space. We decided what items were staying in the room and measured them. We drew a scale drawing of the room, then cut out scale models of the furniture. Then we all sat down and played with arrangements.
The biggest trick was arranging our central square table (which has enough room for notebooks, etc.) and two movable computer stands in such a way that neither Joe nor I felt claustrophobic. It was my brother's fiance who came up with the dream scheme:

OK, it may not look like much, but it's brilliant, I tell you, just brilliant. We both can face the window; the printer is between us, and neither of us feels pinned in. We've taken it for a spin and successfully accomplished work, even being in there at the same time.

We haven't even painted it yet.
Once it's painted, you'll want to work here, too. But you can't. We're full up.

Here's a view of my side of the office:
Look at all that organization! I'm in the midst of packing for a business trip. More on that in Blog the Second.


Happy New Year!

That's my buddy, Wimi, on the right, hanging out with her Charleston friend, Keke. They get together once a year to reconnect.
One thing they do is compare notes on Hoppin' John, the savory beans and rice dish served on New Year's Day to bring good luck in the coming year. Charleston lays claim to originating this tradition, but it's spread pretty much across the South nowadays.
The day after Christmas, I pull out my cookbooks to find my favorite recipe. This year, I looked in The Joy of Cooking (the good, early, version), Remembering Bill Neal, Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant (I know the restaurant is in Ithaca, but there's a special Southeastern United State section) and Seductions of Rice. I also checked out Gourmet's special issue on Southern Cooking
I scanned likely suspects that surprised me by not having Hoppin' John recipes: Not Afraid of Flavor, Dori Sanders' Country Cooking and North Carolina & Old Salem Cookery.
And after all my perusing, here is what I discover: It is a ridiculously easy recipe, involving black-eyed peas, water, a ham hock, red pepper and rice. There can be some spices added, depending on how fancy the cook wants to get & whether or not they use the flavorful ham hock. And there is some dissent about whether to serve the black-eyed peas over the rice or cook the rice right in with the peas.
And here is what I do: I take a pinch of one recipe and a dash of another, then come up with my own variation.
My feeling about the ham hock varies from year to year. This year, I don't like it, so I boosted the flavor a bit.
So here's what I did: dumped two bags of frozen black-eyed peas in a stock pot with water and brought it to a boil. Then I put it into the Crock-Pot (I like to give it a jump-start like that). Then in a measuring cup (A measuring cup? my Joe exclaimed when I told him, thinking maybe I'd been abducted by aliens. No worries -- I didn't actually measure anything), I splashed in some soy sauce, Texas Pete Hotter Hot Sauce, a bit of honey and a spoonful of Garam Masala from the Charleston Tibetan Society (a gift fom Keke to Wimi). I added a ladleful of hot bean water to help blend it, then poured it over the beans in the cooker.
It's all in the slower cooker now. I'll be serving it over rice, gilding the lily with a sprinkling of cheddar and a dollop of sour cream. With, of course, collards on the side. Good for bringing wealth.
How do I fix my collards? Oh, we don't have that kind of time ...