Friday, January 27, 2012

Dallas Wrap-Up and Socks, Socks, Socks

I'm home from visiting family and friends in Dallas.  I flew into New York on Monday in a driving rain storm, and was reminded again that I always think of New York City in black-and-white.  And gray.  (Gray, by the way, is REALLY fun to land in while on an airplane, you betcha.)

We had a tiny Dallas meet-up before I left.  It was VERY tiny--literally--since it was just Tiny Tyrant and me.  I'm sorry for the last minute plan.  (My social secretary is truly inept --I would fire her but she' I heard from a bunch of people who just couldn't swing it this time, but who are interested in meeting the next time.  Here's your head's up: I'll be back in town during the second week in April.  Maybe we can plan something fun?

Here we are.  She rained yarn down upon me, which, you know, was just icing on the cake after she turned out to be warm and funny and a non-biological sister.  It was good.

It was a great visit with my parents, who indulged me by eating TexMex with me every single night for dinner. Aren't they nice?  It was also nice to visit Texas in January, where the footwear of choice doesn't change much, regardless of the season.
Pay no attention to the pasty white skin.  It's useful in signaling aircraft and in the event of surrender. 
Meanwhile, back on Long Island, only one other member of the Cooper clan was ecstatic over the weather.

I was a little sad to miss the only snow so far this winter.  It was all but gone by the time I got home.

When I got home, there was a package waiting for me.  It was stuffed with yarn.

It turns out that having WiFi on an airplane is dangerous.  You can fall down and accidentally empty your wallet without ever leaving your seat!

Speaking of yarn and knitting, I'm on a huge sock binge at the moment.  I haven't written about knitting much lately, because I'm still knitting socks and more socks and I only knit three variations of socks so the only thing interesting about any of that are the yarns I use.  Recently, I've been on something of a Madelinetosh binge, especially in the sport weight, because these knit up fast and I have over-promised a lot of socks lately.

Also, it's yummy.

I knitted socks for my beloved yoga instructor for his birthday:

I knitted socks for my friend Shirley for her birthday, and then, on a whim, I knitted socks for my new yoga instructor Yvonne.  She GETS the whole hand-knitted sock thing, you know? For some people, they're just warm socks.  But for others, there's this sort of subtle transformation that happens. They put on the socks, and this...LOOK flashes across their faces and you know you've just made a convert.  Yvonne said to me one day, "I consider these among my most precious possessions. I have a hard time taking them off to wash them." And she had that look in her eye.

I know that look. It's that look that says that a pair of socks has changed forever the way a person thinks about socks.  I don't make the rules--it either happens or it doesn't.  But now I want to knit her some more socks because that look?  Is like getting a present (to this knitter, anyway.)

The ironic thing about all of this sock knitting is that I am entirely without a pair of hand-knitted socks myself.  Last winter was such a hard winter and so cold, I managed to put holes in every single sock I had ever knitted for me.  I didn't have that many, because I like to knit for other people more than I like to knit for myself.

Also?  It appears that when I'm knitting for myself, I come down with the worst case of "Second Sock Syndrome" (SSS) you've ever heard of (and I know you've heard of a lot, haven't you?) (Hello?) (Oh, hush.  Just...hush.) 

(Okay, I was looking for a link that has a good definition of the phrase but I couldn't really find one.  It seems that, while many knitters suffer from this affliction, few can define it. Basically, it's when you knit a perfectly good first sock and then, you just can't bring yourself to knit the second, for a variety of reasons, most of them featuring the word "boredom" in them prominently.)  

AT ANY RATE, I have a lot of first socks:
Actually, the one on the far right is Jane's, and, since she doesn't wear matched socks EVER, it's not REALLY a product of the SSS curse. (Except that I always knit her matched pairs, so maybe it is.)
While I was in Dallas, I added another one to this growing pile because I fell in love with this gorgeous yarn and had to cheat on the sock I was knitting for my friend Noreen's birthday in order to knit it up.

(I turned the heel during the latest episode of Downton Abbey, thus proving that I live in a fairy tale where all good things come together. I am thisclose to having animated birds chirping about my head and making me ball gowns.
Why yes, this is a parenthetical picture.  Because I am the Queen of the Tangental Universe.
Anyway, add this one to my shameful pile:
The yarn is Zitron Unisono, which is just like knitterly CRACK.  I could NOT stop knitting it.  Even after my friend Heather told me that the skein wouldn't be enough for two socks, I wasn't disenchanted.  That's some good yarn right there.  (But if you buy it, buy two skeins.) (Try not to think about how expensive it makes the socks.)
In addition to a new sock and some tortillas, I brought home my old violin.  My older daughter, Ana (almost 14) (excusemewhileIbreatheintoabag) is interested in taking lessons and learning to play.  This violin has been in my family for at least 100 years and needs a little work, but isn't it beautiful?
I played it myself for eight (excruciating) years.  It left me with a great ear for music --just, you know, zero talent for the violin.  I'll be interested in seeing what Ana does with it once it comes back from the violin shop.

I was a little tired and still dealing with a cough (my acupuncturist says I have "insufficient lung chi."  I did NOT say, "No chi(t)" but I THOUGHT it loudly.) so I lay on the couch for a nap. Immediately, out of nowhere, a pride of orange tabbies materialized and pinned me down.
It's good to be home.

{EDITED TO ADD: Oh. My. gosh.  I can't believe I missed a chance to name this blog post "Socks and Violins." I mean, how often does the Universe hand you a chance like THAT??  Am pouting now.}

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Notes From Big D and a Meet-Up

I'm visiting family in the Dallas area, and enjoying the warm weather, although, MERCY, I had forgotten about Texas allergies.  I'm all croaky.  (Which is fine, actually.  It just means that instead of sounding like a ten-year-old GIRL, I sound like a ten-year-old BOY.)

Anyway, I'm in town and planning on being at The Original Pancake House at 2301 N. Central Expwy., Suite 156   Plano, Texas 75075, 972-423-2889 tomorrow at 11:00 AM. Send me a note if you can come, or leave a comment here!

It's very last minute, but I didn't want to miss a chance to meet some of my peeps. I hope y'all can come.  I have one copy of my book and we can do rock/paper/scissors or something if more than one of you wants it.


Yesterday I had a chance to meet a new friend, Tony Fiorillo (whom I "met" when I interviewed him for my latest freelance article on polar dinosaurs.)  He's one of the world's foremost paleontologists, and the best source ever for information and memorable quotes about the exciting dinosaur finds in Alaska.  He's also a really nice person, and instead of getting a restraining order after I emailed him, oh, seven million times in the course of my research for the piece, he STILL said yes to lunch.  (And then he arranged for it to be 77 degrees in Dallas in January so we could sit outside.)

He also let me actually touch some dinosaur bones.

It was one of the coolest experiences of my life.  At one point, I was holding part of the beak/nose of a Pachyrhinosauraus that was at least 65 million years old.

Sixty-five MILLION years old!

It was the strangest feeling--like suddenly discovering your family tree dates back millions of years. It kind of puts our human existence into perspective, you know? I was sitting on a ball earlier today and I thought, "This is totally annoying, but I doubt it will be important in 65 million years."


So, remember in 2008 when I wrote about how my mom and stepdad had gotten married after 27 years of dating? Tomorrow it will be 31 years since their first date, and since my sister and I tried to file a missing person's report.  We called everyone even remotely associated with my mother, prompting my soon-to-be (twenty-seven years later) stepfather to issue a tongue-in-cheek official memorandum absolving himself of anything other than the purest motives in taking my mom to museum in Fort Worth.

I should have known when the embarrassment didn't faze him in the least that he was good people.  I'm so grateful to have him in my life.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Blogging from 20,000 Feet in the Air

I don't actually have anything really blogworthy to say, but I'm on an airplane on my way to Dallas to visit my parents for the weekend and the airplane has wifi and I just couldn't resist posting from THE SKY.

Isn't that just the most amazing thing? We live in remarkable times.

(Although, I did have the thought that instead of experiencing take-off in the "full and upright seat position," it really would make more sense if they made everyone lean forward really hard and raise our feet. How are we helping with the take off if we're sitting straight up?)

(Also, I had the thought that the man sitting in the aisle seat next to me is not going to be very happy when I get up once an hour to walk up and down the aisle due to my...issue...that I really don't want to have to explain. I'd rather he thought I had an over-active bladder.)

(I'm not sure what it says about me that I would rather a stranger think I am incontinent than explain I have a pulled muscle in my butt, but there ya go.)

Knitting post coming up once I'm on the ground again.  Meanwhile, if an airplane passes overhead, wave to me!

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Also? No Dignity.

So, you know how I was all "No FEAR, baby!" in my last post?  All chutzpah and brashness, that's me in the New Year.  Not letting fear slow me down this year--I'm going to get into that yoga class and fall on my face and just be glad to be in the same room with my instructor Yvonne and her band of merry bendy people in the 9:30 Power Yoga class.  What doesn't kill me, makes me stronger--BOO YAH, Baby! Look at me being  pretending to be EXTROVERTED.

And then, um...


I developed a Pain.

A real pain.

In my rear-end.

(Of course I did.)

When it seemed to be getting worse and began affecting my performance in yoga, I took a few days off.

But I still had that pain and it seemed to be getting worse.

I asked my husband, "What do you call it when you have a pain in the upper part of your hamstring?  Like, is there a muscle between your hamstring and your glute?"

My husband looked at me.  "I think that's just the glute."



So, I Googled "gluteous" and learned more about the gluteous minimus and the gluteous medius and the gluteus maximus than I ever, ever wanted to know.


But, see, my pain wasn't associated with that muscle group.  It was kind of...well...deeper inside my bum.  Not really INSIDE my bum--I know what kind of doctor to call for THAT --but up in my (lordy, lordy, I can barely bring myself to write this) butt cheek.

I Googled "hamstring" and nope, that wasn't it.

I took a deep breath and Googled, "Pain in the rear end."

(I can't help it!  I'm from the South! My kids aren't even ALLOWED to use the "b" word.  (Well, that's not so true anymore.  They say it now and then they look at me to see if I'm going to flinch or scold them or what.  It's something DARING that they do.  I usually just mutter something under my breath like, "BOTTOM.  We're not RAPPERS, people."))

I was going to do a screen shot of the Google answer page for "pain in the rear end" but I couldn't figure out how to do it.  Google it yourself, or trust me when I tell you that most of the answers were talking about car repair.

I had to do it.

I Googled "pain in the butt."

And the first answer was what I have: piriformis syndrome. I read a lot about it and performed every single test I could find on YouTube and there is no doubt about it, that's what I have.  It's just an irritated tendon that runs over my sciatic nerve, which is now pretty damn crabby, too.

Which is actually a good thing, because it means that what I was feeling was NOT my hamstring detaching on one end or something. That would be a bad thing.  This is just, kind of...embarrassing.

Anyway, I found several links that had good stretches which seemed redundant to me since I'm doing most of them in yoga.  And then I found a video that said I should roll around on a tennis ball.  Here's the video:

You should watch THAT one because I tried to make one of my own and you can just imagine what happened, right?

In the end, the thing that helped the most was called Thai Yoga Massage, which Yvonne is also certified to do. (The woman is just phenomenal.  Seriously, I want to BE her if I ever grow up.) AND my husband gave me a gift certificate it for our anniversary.  I'd been once before and it was just amazing.  It's very different from Swedish massage --you stay totally clothed, for one thing -- and incredibly cool.  (YouTube has videos.) (Of course it does.)

So anyway, I went last night and when it was all over, my pain was gone.  I was really flabbergasted.

I said, "Was this really different than the first time I came here?"

She said, "Well, we did some of the same stuff.  Only this time, you know, we did more butt work."

My life. You can't make this stuff up. And apparently, dignity isn't even an option.