Monday, October 22, 2007


What a difference a year makes. This year's arrival day was a complete 180 from last year's -- the key worked in the lock on the first try, not a drop of rain, and I had a pal to meet up with so I didn't have to wander around in a disoriented and jetlagged state all by myself. After a nap and a shower, I met one of my Flickr mates in St Pancras Churchyard, then we went to the British Library and the Wellcome Collection. No trouble figuring out the bus, didn't get lost, had a good time -- couldn't be better. Saturday and Sunday were equally brilliant days. Spooner and I went to Kew Gardens on Saturday to see the Henry Moore sculptures. They looked fab in the natural setting, but after walking around and looking at over 20 of them, I had to say "No more Moore. Let's get snacks." We had tea at a very old-timey English tea room, where Spooner and I argued about how to use silverware (he's trying to learn how to eat like a Brit, i.e. use his knife to shovel food onto the back of his fork.) I tried to tell him that his ancestors left the persecution and damp of this isle so that he could grow up in freedom and eat like an American. We covered large sections of the East End on Sunday -- Bunhill Fields, Shoreditch, Brick Lane area, and eventually the Isle of Dogs. We saw a ton of street art, walked through Columbia Road Flower Market, looked at the old Huguenot houses in Princelet and Fournier Streets, found El Chivo and Banksy graffiti in dark alleys, bought stuff at UpMarket, took the DLR to West India Quay, went to the Museum in the Docklands, and came home exhausted. All along the way, I saw things that I'd seen in pictures in Guess Where London -- it was really freaky to see things I knew, but had never seen in real life, and I even often remembered who took the photo. Now it's Monday morning and Spooner has gone off to work, leaving me on my own for the whole day. It's cloudy and damp for the first time since I got here -- much more like what I expect of London weather. I'm heading to Kensington today to go to the V&A and to walk through Holland Park. Tonight is the meet up at a pub in Waterloo with the rest of my Flickr mates. I'm really psyched to be meeting them. Hope they like the gifties from America.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Planning London

I think I've done just about all the planning I can do. This year, I know to have an indoor alternative in every area I plan to explore, because it's inevitable that rain will fall. I've got lots of cool stuff planned:

  • Kew Gardens (big exhibit of Henry Moore sculpture there)
  • Columbia Road Flower Market, an exploration of Shoreditch street art, possibly the Dennis Severs house, and on down to the Docklands with Spooner
  • Kensington, the V&A, perhaps a visit to Harrod's to see the Di and Dodi shrine
  • Various galleries in Central London
  • A very long walk through the City
  • Southbank, the Hayward Gallery and the Tate Modern
  • Day trip to Winchester or Dover
On some of these days, I'm hoping various Flickr mates will be joining me. I've planned a mini meetup for a small group of them at a pub in Waterloo one evening. Spooner and I may go to theatre one night, or to see the movie "When Did You Last See Your Father?" that we saw being filmed in Brighton last year (it's just opened in the UK).

Tales of the adventures will follow.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Fall

There was a small incident on Sunday involving some broken pavement, my toe, and the sun, which was shining straight into my eyes. This unfortunate combo resulted in two very bruised knees, some scrapes on the heels of my hands, and a wee dent on one corner of my camera just at the bottom of the cover to the memory card. After my knees collided with the ground, my right hand must have then taken the rest of the impact or the camera would have been toast. So yesterday on my lunch hour I took the camera out for a short walk around campus. All seems well, which is really, really good because I'm not too keen on the thought of buying a new camera at the moment, having just ordered a new pair of glasses that cost a bundle but will be well worth it if they help me to see where I'm walking. It would also help if I'd pick up my feet.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Making plans for London

I've been a really bad blogger lately. When I haven't been lounging around the pool or roasting tomatoes, I've been planning for the upcoming trip to London. Last year, I had 4 days of doing things with Spooner and 3 on my own. This year, Spooner and I will have only Saturday and Sunday to explore together, leaving me to make my own way around town for 6 days. One of those days will be a day trip to either Winchester (a cathedral city) or to Dover to see the castle and the white cliffs. I've gotten in touch with some of my London Flickr friends, and am hoping to meet several of them to take in some museum exhibits or have a few pints. Spooner still doesn't quite believe me when I say that I know people who I can hang out with, but he's slowly admitting that I may actually know more Brits than he does. Oh, and I've been busily crafting presents for the Brits (more on that later).

Friday, June 29, 2007

Photo credits!

Two of my photos have just been chosen to be on websites in the UK. I won't get paid for either one (professional photographers probably look on this as scabbing by amateurs who give their stuff away), but I will get photo credit -- with my meatspace name on one and my nom de Flickr on the other.

The sculpture above, called You (a.k.a. Red Man) is by Antony Gormley and it sits atop the extension on the Roundhouse in Chalk Farm. Spooner and I were coming home from a long day of many adventures, starting with the Pearly Harvest Festival (below), including the Charles Dickens Museum, the Inns of Court (but not the Temple Church because it was closed), St Bride's, St Paul's, etc., etc. We took the tube back and got off at Chalk Farm, one stop before Belsize Park where Spooner lives, to look for Banksy's French maid. I happened to look up and see this sculpture and then had to get Mr. Fast Walker to stop and wait while I took a pic of it. I only got one shot, and it was a good one. Right now, there's a massive exhibit of Gormley sculptures, with 31 of them placed on the tops of buildings in central London and Southbank, and there are exhibits of his work at the Hayward Gallery and the Wellcome Trust. The 24 Hour Museum website has an article about Gormleys on public display in the UK -- the author asked me for permission to include this photo and I said yes. It's a dot org, and a website that I use as reference often, so I feel fine about the lack of compensation.

This photo of the Pearly Society's Harvest Festival is going to be included on a website called Schmap. They do guides of different cities, and this will be on the Soho and West End events page of the London guide. I recognized names of some other London Flickrers among the photo credits, so I figured it's probably ok to let them use my photo without compensation. This one is credited with my Flickr name (Trailerfullofpix). Anyway, as the Brits would say, I'm chuffed.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

The road goes on forever and the kitsch never ends

I just got back from my fab little get-away to Texas. The spaces are vast, and the inhabitants are strangely compelled to fill them with all kinds of larger-than-life structures. We saw a giant roadside pig (former drive-in), armadillo (in the parking lot of a flea market along the interstate), chicken (on the roof of a statuary emporium along a state highway), and a cow (on another highway, advertising a real estate agent), and the veladora (above). We never made it to the giant cowboy boots or the world's largest wooden nickle. I'm uploading the photographic evidence of my adventures (in dribs and drabs) to my Flickr page.

I learned an important travel lesson on this trip. It's not a good idea to have the following items in your carry-on simultaneously: (1) your mp3 player, (2) lots of batteries, say 8 AAs in your camera and camera case, and (3) a candle in glass. Who knew that these items would resemble the makings of a bomb when the bag went through the x-ray machine? I think that the woman who hand inspected my bag got a bit of a chuckle when she pulled out my Lady of Guadalupe lucky candle. Fortunately, I got to keep the candle ($.98 at H-E-B) and was sent on my way.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Off to Texas

I'm heading down to Texas to visit Molly for a couple of days. We are planning to have many excellent adventures, starting with a visit to Bussey's Flea Market to look for treasures and to see the giant armadillo that they've got in the parking lot. We're also planning a road trip to Gruene. I've made a spreadsheet to plan the trip, and filled it with various photo ops I'll be seeking. Tales of tacky tourism to follow. Watch the Flickr page for the pix.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Aruni in Her Sweater

Here's a snap of Aruni wearing the Baby Surprise Sweater. The sleeves look a bit short, but Anju says this is perfect given Aruni's propensity for sticking her hands in her mouth and drooling down her arms.

Saturday, March 10, 2007


I'm supposed to be working on my taxes this weekend -- that means organizing all my papers and filling out a questionnaire so that I can take it all to the accountant next week. I hate doing this, and would rather be doing just about anything else. To make it a bit more palatable, I got two new CDs (Dave Alvin West of the West and Carrie Rodriguez Seven Angels on a Bicycle) to keep me entertained through this mind-numbing task. I actually did sit down on the living room floor this afternoon with all the unsorted/unfiled paperwork that had accumulated since last March, and it is now all sorted and filed. The questionnaire is the hard part.

Now I'm taking a wee break and goofing off, working on my spreadsheet for my upcoming trip to San Antonio. Since Flickr provided me with such a font of inspiration for the London trip last October, I recently joined three (why are there three?) Flickr groups for San Antonio, and I must say that they've been less than inspirational. There's lots of cross posting, and none of the groups seems to have any particular niche, like historic, folkloric or kitchy San Antonio. Lots of macro flower photos, birds, and bbq, none of which do anything for me. Using Roadside America instead, I found a few items of interest to put on the spreadsheet:

  • Giant Virgin of Guadalupe candle mosaic (2 stories high!)
  • Pig Stand Cafe (a drive-in pink pig)
  • World's biggest cowboy boots
  • World's biggest wooden nickle
Molly promises to drive me around in the hill country one day for some antiquing and photo ops. I'm looking for a vintage travel trailer parked in someone's yard that I can get a snap of to use for a new Flickr buddy icon for myself. Also, we'll hit El Mercado for a couple hours -- it's the largest Mexican market outside of Mexico, and always a great place to shop for gifties.

If anyone has suggestions for places to visit in the San Antonio area, let me know. The trip's not till May, so there's plenty of time to get your comments in. I hope to be better about blogging from the road than I was when I was in England. And I just got a USB card reader thingie, so I should be able to post to Flickr from the road as well.

Back to the taxes now ...

Sunday, February 25, 2007

It's finished!

The Baby Surprise Sweater is done and ready to mail to NYC. I didn't have 5 buttons that matched, so I decided to go with the mismatched vintage buttons. I think it's kind of a bohemian chic look, which is fitting for a little girl who is spending her first months of life going to classes at Columbia. I hope Anju and Rahul send me a picture of Aruni wearing it.

Now I'm going back to knitting socks for moi.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

BSS is almost done!

This lumpy mass doesn't look much like a sweater ...

... but here's how it will be folded to become one.

I've made a ton of progress this past week, particularly on the snow day when I beached myself on the sofa with cat and comforter and knit most of the day. At this point, with nearly 200 stitches on the needles, a row can take me about 20 minutes to do.
I've made the button holes, and now there are only 4 rows left to go. After that, I'll sew the seams on the top of the sleeves, work in the ends and sew on the buttons and it will be done.

I haven't heard from my knit-along pal in days, so I hope it's going well for her, too. We usually consult when she gets to a tricky row where Stuff Happens. It's been a swell project, and I'm glad Erin suggested it, but I'm looking forward to having this done and going back to knitting socks.

Monday, February 12, 2007

BSS Update

48 rows done!

This is how the sleeves will be formed.

The Baby Surprise Sweater is coming along nicely, although I can't claim that I've been 100% accurate about the pattern. Somehow I ended up with more stitches than I should have around row 48, or I went two rows too far, but then I was miraculously back on track around row 58. It's taking on a very weird shape as I work on the body, but that's what's supposed to happen. The yarn is great -- a much richer purple than these crappy pix show. I'm not stressing about the pattern so much any more. It is what it is. I guess that's the zen approach to knitting.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Freaky Friday Knit-Along

Erin and I are doing a knit-along. We're making Elizabeth Zimmermann's Baby Surprise Sweater -- she for her cousin's new baby-to-be, and me for Anju and Rahul's 10-week-old baby girl. (I'm sure that the surprise will keep as I doubt A. and R. have any time for blog reading between grad school and taking care of baby Aruni.) Erin's plan was to use some yarn from her stash. I ordered the pattern (link above), and on Saturday I ran out to Webs to pick up two balls of Jellibeenz. Arriving shortly after I returned from my Webs mission, Erin came in clutching a Webs bag of her own. "Look what I got in the bargain corner," she said, pulling two hanks of Araucania Pehuen hand-dyed cotton in a green colorway from the bag. I went over to my Webs bag and pulled out two hanks of the SAME yarn in the orange colorway. Of the hundreds and hundreds of yarns to choose from at Webs, we bought the same stuff! (We're both saving it for some other as-yet-to-be-determined project. Any ideas?)

Now, you'd think that a sweater knit all in one piece in garter stitch would be easy-peasy, right? Wrong! Elizabeth Zimmermann, who is, apparently, the knitting goddess of Britain or the universe, wrote this pattern in 1968 in a conversational, tweedy English lady prose that's a wee bit short on the details. We cast on our 160 stitches and puzzled over how to mark the places where the decreases were supposed to occur. Finally getting the hang of it, or so I thought, we knit four rows before heading out to the annual Roe v. Wade anniversary event. Later that night, thinking I was on a roll, I knit another half dozen rows, reaching the tricky row 11 where I totally screwed up. I couldn't figure out how many stitches I was supposed to have on either side of the markers, and I ended up un-knitting back to row 7. Next day I went online and found the BSS notes -- a row-by-row explanation of what the fuck we're supposed to be doing. Now, just what kind of screwy thing is it where you need a pattern to follow a pattern? I think I'm back on track now, and I'll be posting some pix of the WIP here and/or on my Flickr page. Erin and I will give each other e-mail progress reports as we knit along. I'm pleading for words of support and helpful hints from anyone out there who's made this sweater and lived to tell the tale.

Sunday afternoon I put the BSS aside to go to the Silver Chord Bowl, Northampton's a cappella alternative to the Super Bowl. JJ and I met for lunch beforehand and she gave me my birthday giftie -- a little Uglydoll to be the mascot of the Mini Cooper, the SAME Uglydoll (Icebat) that Erin has hanging from her rearview mirror. This is just too weird. It's like I've been reincarnated as Erin and I'm not even dead. I went over to Faces and exchanged Icebat for Bop n' Beep, all the while having this Freaky Friday feeling (although Erin and I don't look anything like Lindsay Lohan and Jamie Lee Curtis). Something cosmic was definitely going on. Comet McNaught? Groundhog's Day? Who knows.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

One Year on Flickr

It was a year ago today that I created my Flickr account, just after giving myself the digital camera for my birthday (I'm still accepting this year's birthday greetings until the end of this week -- hint, hint). Here's a snapshot of my stats as of today:

Number of photos: 338
Number of sets: 13
Number of contacts & friends: 23
Number of groups: 29 (Guess Where London is my favorite)
Views of my photostream: 4930 (My goal for my anniversary was 4800)
Flickr inspector number: 1483 (I'm not entirely certain what this means. It's some kind of relative number based on your photos, views, comments, favorites, etc.)

If you haven't looked at my photostream in a while, check it out. Leave me some comments if you're so moved. If you have a Flickr account, add me to your contacts and I'll do likewise.

Sunday, January 07, 2007


One of my loyal readers (of the four or so that I have) has requested pix of the xmas crafts. Here they are:

This is Erin wearing her lime green, vegan zig zag scarf. The yarn is Feza Carnevale, which was a bit of a pain to work with because the fuzzy bits obscured the adjacent stitches and I often dropped them. But the results are quite nice -- soft, warm and a bit stretchy, with a hint of shimmery stuff. We decided that lime is the new black.

Velvet bag with milagros. This is the one I made for JJ -- it has milagros that are significant to her (cat and fish) on it. The one I made for ST has a bird and an ear. The arms, legs and donkeys may become significant at some point -- you never know. Spooner brought the milagros back from Mexico last summer. I'm now out of them, except for babies, pigs and praying figures, so I'll need to have a pal fetch me some more from south of the border.