Thursday, August 27, 2009

Travelogue: Jacksonville, NC

I have found this whole writing thing to be a bit more difficult since we never seem to stay home on the week-ends. On the bright side, we've taken some pretty neat trips, so I decided that it's time to catch up on some field reporting.

The first trip we took this spring/summer was to see my cousin-in-law get married. Her new husband was in the Marines at the time, so they opted to get married on the beach near Camp Lejeune, in Jacksonville, NC. There were lots of good reasons to do this - the scenery was beautiful, the atmosphere was fairly casual (second marriage for both), and the price was definitely right. Say what you will about the military, but they definitely provide some nice extras for their people when they can.

I had never been through a security clearance for a military base before - the only time I had ever been on base was to go on a sailboat that happened to be docked at a Naval base, and they didn't really care to check us in (after all, it was quite a few years before September 11th). Checking in wasn't really a huge deal except that we had to wait in line in the heat. The thing that entertained me throughout this process was reading the Dos and Don'ts of the dress code for times when you are not in uniform. The rules themselves weren't all that earth shattering, but there were pictures to illustrate - upstanding young men in their polo shirts and khaki shorts, and then some candids of the guys in ripped cutoffs and sleeveless t-shirts, who, honestly, looked like they were having a bit more fun.

From a purely self-centered perspective, I will admit that seeing Lisa did not help with my Shamu feelings. You see, Lisa is due a full month before me. Go ahead, check out the pictures and tell me she looks pregnant. Yeah, that's what I thought. I comfort myself with the knowledge that she is in a tough spot, as this pregnancy comes after gastric bypass surgery, and she definitely cannot eat with anything resembling reckless abandon. When we heard the news, we were mostly concerned since we didn't have any information about how one would cope with that combination. I'm happy to say that she (as you can see from the pictures) is incredibly healthy and so is the baby. She is also having a boy, so that should be fun at family gatherings.

On the way in, I saw the following sign and demanded that we pull over on the way out so I could get a picture of it. Now this is something you will only see when you are on a military base:

I was pretty surprised that somebody decided to draw a picture of the thing, since "TANK XING" seems pretty self-explanatory.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Baby's First Sheep

A friend of mine introduced me to the Martha's Vineyard Fiber Farm Blog a while back. It is an excellent place to get your cute fix, what with all the pictures of baby lambs, among other things. Not only that, but there are usually links to all sorts of interesting things. One that caught my eye was a link to a pattern for some knitted sheep. That very same week, I bought some yarn and knitting needles, and went about re-learning to knit. My mom taught me how once, but I was probably 15, and had long since forgotten almost everything. And yes, I'm aware that the pregnant lady knitting is a little bit of a cliche. I'm OK with that.

For the first project, I knitted a scarf. It started a little bit rough, left a couple of holes along the way, but finished strong. It won't win any prizes, but I may wear it for the two weeks or so that we call "winter" here in North Carolina. Then I tried to learn the purl stitch, and it wasn't pretty. I spent a couple of weeks just toying with it, seeing if I could get it to look cohesive, but it just wasn't happening, so I left knitting be for a little bit. See how I am when the going gets tough?

Finally, I decided it was time to attempt the sheep. A quick glance at the pattern revealed there was no purling required - sweet! After another trip to the craft store, I was all set. And (fanfare please!) after a few days of working while we watched TV, baby's first sheep was all ready to go:

OK, so now all I have to do is knit the little sheepy blanket. Per hubby's request, it is Carolina blue in color, and may or may not get a little UNC logo at some point. I re-checked the pattern and it says "moss stitch." Eh? So I look up moss stitch and find out it's knit 1, purl 1 for two rows, then purl 1 knit 1 for the next two rows. Crap! I tried, I really did. The problem was, if I pulled the yarn from one side, my stitches multiplied. Multiplied! I started with 24 and would end up with between 27-30 by row 2. So I tried pulling the yarn the other way. It went OK for about 6 rows, but then I noticed that I wasn't getting a blanket so much as I was getting a clumped-up knot of something that resembled rope. Awesome. So for the second time since starting, I abandoned the purl stitch. I just knitted the blanket, and I think it looks just fine:

I had the inspiration to create a few of these, and make them into a mobile. If I manage to do that I'll definitely post a picture - I'm pretty proud of my craftiness!