Now that the moving dust has settled, it has become impossible for me to ignore that Christmas is a mere 2 months away. After last year's Christmas knitting debacle (let's just say that I still owe my brother Tommy a Christmas gift) I've decided to scale back my ambitions a bit in that, this year, I will only be knitting 3 gifts:
Gift #1 - Woman's Scarf Progress: 1/2 done
Gift #2 - Man's Scarf Progress - Yarn purchased, knitting started. Hate pattern, need to rip.
Gift #3 - Man's Scarf and Mitten set. Progress - Haven't even bought the yarn.
To those of you who are speedy and experienced knitters, this may seem manageable. 2 months, 3 gifts and 2 Christmas stockings (not gifts, but I promised Eric) seems perfectly reasonable. There's just one little problem: I'm not speedy OR experienced. Case in point, I've been working on Gift #1 since June and just yesterday reached the halfway point.
Actually, there's two little problems, which is why I'm posting about the gifts at all (at the risk of outing myself to the recipients)...
I haven't been able to find a Man's scarf pattern that I like, or better yet, that I think the recipients would like and even, dare I say, wear. Both of them actually *asked* for the scarves - so I really don't want to disappoint them. I feel like if I squander this chance, I might not ever get another one.
And that's why I just spent my lunch hour browsing through the knitting section at the B&N downstairs. Of course, it yielded nothing but a list of knitting books that I want to buy, which have nothing to do with Scarves for Men, but instead have lots of cool sock patterns and other wrap, lace and mitten patterns in them. So, that actually probably made things worse. I need to keep my focus until after the holidays.
So, anyone, please - do you have suggestions for good Manly Scarf patterns? One you loved to knit, or one you or a man in your life loved wearing? I'm not above resorting to bribes - there's some woolly goodness in store for anyone who suggests a pattern that I actually end up using. They don't need to be free patterns either, I'm totally willing to buy a book for the right scarf pattern.
I couldn't resist this one. Dead accurate too - I expected a pure Yankee/GAE mix, but evidentially I can't run from the time I spent south of the Mason Dixon (high school) and well, all those weddings we've been too in Minnesota/Wisconsin must have made an impact too.
Things are starting to come together here at the Project. I have to admit, at times it was a little touch and go. Even from the beginning, we seemed to be doomed for disaster.
Yes, that is a UHaul truck on the back of a tow truck, and it is fully loaded with our every earthly possession. Amazingly enough, nothing broke.
Then, with the whirlwind of weddings, the last for which we traveled to Wisconsin.
Gorgeous, isn’t it? Who knew a lake called Winnebago could be so beautiful?
So, it wasn’t all terrible, I mean, we spent a month traveling to spend time with the people we care most about, but still, I thought we’d never get a chance to settle in.
For well over a month, we were living amongst chaos, not knowing where to find the simplest things, like utensils, socks or the salt and pepper shakers.
There were multiple floodings – the laundry room, the bathroom, the basement. There weren’t blinds on the windows, and perhaps the very worst part is that all my yarn is all packed away with no place to go. I’ve only had one portable project to work on this whole time.
Luckily for me, I love the yarn and the person for whom the scarf is ultimately destined, so the infinite repetitions are well worth it.
But the icing the cake? I sat for my last and final section of the CPA exam, um, today. (No, I had no choice. I’m not suicidal or anything, it’s just that if I didn’t sit by October 31, I would lose credit for the other parts I passed, and that would have been more than I could handle. Seriously.)
So, the exam is over. We’ve tackled some boxes.
Better, don’t you think?
Eric has been super duper handyman and got the phone jacks working and is even as I type installing a new one in the kitchen, specifically so I have a nice place to set up working on the computer at home. Because he rocks.
After an hour on the phone with Verizon, we got the DSL up and running. I now have high speed internet at home. This is a groundbreaking day here at the Project, which has been running for over a year, for most of which there was no home internet access, and when there was, it was dial-up. I feel like I just jumped from the Stone Age itself.
Things are coming together, yes they are. Now I just need to go and start unpacking all that yarn…. the weather's just right for that sort of thing.
Zurich, knitting and wedding stuff to come this week.
The Plan: Leave work at 4pm, have a drink or two for a co-worker's birthday. Take the early train home, heat up some stew, catch up on email, blogging and long overdue phone calls. Go to bed early with my knitting.
What Really Happened: Leave work at 4pm, have a drink or ten for a co-worker's birthday. On way to train station, convince another co-worker to have a "quick" Miller Lite before catching the late train. Miss train. Hail cab. Make best friends with cab driver from Morocco, and force him to admire my knitting.
Which just goes to show that you might be able to take the boozebag out of the knitter, but apparently, you can't take the knitter out of the boozebag.
Because this last weekend we went to the wedding of my ever lovely and gracious friend Steph.
The dress you see in the pictures below may be the same as in the pictures above, although the weddings, times and circumstances have been changed to protect the innocent.
Fortunately for me, there is not ONE SINGLE PERSON at any of the three weddings we have these three weekends in a row that will be at any of the others. I am wearing the exact same outfit, the exact same hairstyle, with the exact same accessories, and really, the only reason anyone's going to know is because I'm showing you these pictures. And I really needed a good excuse for why nothing's getting done around the house, or on the knitting, so really, I had no choice but to out myself.
was in the small and beautiful village of Freeport, Maine, renowned as the home to Fashion Outlets camelflouged as ye olde little quaint shoppes. I may or may not have gone completely wild shopping on Friday before the rehearsal. Retail therapy, perhaps. Whatever is was, it was fabulous.
Anyway, gorgeous weather for shopping and the rehearsal, torrential downpours for the wedding. They say that's good luck, but I don't think Steph and Graham are going to need it:
They are a truly happy couple, and it was a truly beautiful wedding.
We all started out with the best intentions of behaving ourselves. Seen below is myself with one of my Maids of Honor, Marie:
and our respective fiances, Erik and Eric:
Then the boys (the Southie crew, aka, my boys from Andersen) started congregating near the bar:
And from there it went to loud choruses of any song we could remember the words to, as we walked to the after party down the street:
Drunk? I don't know what you're talking about. Me, with my girl Kim and the Best Man Chris (who had Super Man'd out of his tux to attend the after party in comfort):
Okay. Maybe we were drunk.
So, one more wedding this weekend, up in the Great North Country of Wisconsin. Should be good knitting time, except that I'm sitting for the CPA exam in two weeks, and really should be using the travelling time to study. If I don't pass this last part by October 31, I lose credit for what I've already passed.
I'm not trying to think about it, or how most of what I own is packed up in cardboard boxes without any rhyme or reason, or how we don't have working phone jacks, or how I only have 10 months to plan a wedding, or the 6 others we have coming up in the meantime, or the fact that my car has had a failed inspection sticker on its windshield since June.
Because, really, denial is the way to go.
We'll see which comes next, Zurich, or A Wedding in Wisconsin. Maybe a mix of both, with some pictures of unpacked boxes for spice.
I have been knitting, really. I started a sock on the train to Zurich, and I've been working on an endless seed stitch scarf that I was hoping to have done by Friday for our trip up to the Great North this weekend. (Fat chance in hell it's going to be done though, I'm not even through the first ball of yarn....)
Unfortunately I haven't been able to post about any of it (Zurich, the disaster zone that is our new home, or the knitting I've been doing to keep myself sane) because we've been pretty busy going to weddings.
(All the pictures in this post were taken by friends - because really, when do I remember to bring my camera to things like this?)
For example, 2 weekends ago Eric's old roommate and good friend John tied the knot to the beaming bride you see him dancing with here:
But I feel I should start at the beginning. It was a cool, crisp early October afternoon and we ("we" meaning all of Eric's BC friends and their dates) started the afternoon with beers at the Beacon Hill Pub:
Then, after the beautiful Catholic cermony (see Dad? I have been going to Mass lately....), we took trolleys to the reception hall. It should be noted here that all but one of the trolleys were white with wooden benches. The other one was a Disco Trolley. Bright purple, flashing lights, and house music. I wasn't fortunate enough to hop the Disco Trolley to the reception, but lucky for me, that wasn't the last we saw of it... but first, the reception.
Swank, anyone? Here's the view, as seen from the ceiling to floor windows:
This is where I enjoy all the really formal, beautiful and traditional weddings we've got stacked up over the next year, because when it's our turn next September, and we're kickin it in the back yard with cupcakes as the wedding cake and burgers on the grill, well, we'll be ready for a down home sort of wedding. Yeah, that's the ticket. Down home, that's how all the cool kids are doing their weddings nowadays.... or something like that.... um, continuing on.
There was lots of dancing:
And Eric got a chance to hang with his boys from school, not all of whom live in Boston anymore:
And to top it all off, at the end of the night we got to hop the Disco Trolley and ride around the streets of Boston, dancing like fools.
Cause there's nothing cooler than a bunch of late 20-somethings dancing to house music all dressed up in formal wedding outfits. Good times.
This post is being brought to you by the kind folks at Starbucks, who with their wireless internet access have made it possible for me to post. That’s because of the three phone jacks in our new place, not *one* works. It’ll be a few weeks then before we have everything up and running at the new place, so until then, hello lattes…
(For those of you who are just interested in the pictures, you can scroll down past the introduction to Germany)
Let's see.... we've already touched on the train ride from Paris to Munich, where the mean conductor instructed me on proper seat decorum, but what I haven't discussed was the wonder of waking up, a little chilly and very rumpled, sprawled out across the empty seats in the cabin, and looking out the window to see the German countryside streaming past.
I sat for two hours, mesmerized by the beautiful rolling hills dotted with farms, the mist snug above rambling rivers, and the dew dropped green fields of Bavaria. It seemed incomprehensible that we were in another country, despite the stark contrast of the rural surroundings to the bustling urban scene of Paris. There was no passport check. There was no flight. No customs. We just hopped a train, and Whoops! Here's Germany! Hi!
I was a little dazed getting off the train, that morning around 9am. First off, I was starving. Wine, cheese and croissants are delicious, but not very filling, and I was in desperate need of a good hearty meal. In fact, I was about ready to start gnawing my arm off I was that freakin hungry. Luckily for me it was too early to check into the hotel, so our first order of business was finding food.
So we whipped out the map, and started walking towards the center of town. And we walked, and we're trekking down these quaint little streets, and it's obvious we're in the central area, but for the Love of God, there were no breakfast joints! It was like a labrynth of shops and restaurants, each one egging us on, but none actually serving eggs. After an eternity, and just when I was threatening to pass out on the spot, we happened upon the strangest little cafe, and what I'm convinced is the only establishment to serve breakfast in all of Old Munich. It was situated on the roof of a row of butcher's shops and appeared to be a cafe sort of environment. We took a table. We looked at the menu. It was at this point where I started to fear for our ability to cope in Germany.
Has anyone tried to read German lately? It looks like a cross between gibberish and words that look like they should mean vaguely dirty things, and also, they’re really really long.
Take this for example:
Ein hartes gekochtes Ei, mit Ihrer Wahl des Gebäckstücks, Laibs des Brots, oder Brezel.
Rühreier mit Schinken, mit frischem gedrücktem Orangensaft, aber kein Brot für Sie, weil, der getoasteten Brot mit Rühreiern esst?
That is what the menu looked like. For the first time we were reduced to pointing and hoping for the best. This is what we ended up getting (and what the above translates to):
One hard boiled egg, with your choice of pastry, loaf of bread, or pretzel.
Scrambled eggs with ham, with fresh squeezed orange juice, but no bread for you, because who eats toast with scrambled eggs?
But we didn't know what it would be until it came. I was just happy it was actually food that came, but it wasn't really the hungry man's breakfast I was hoping for. That story shortly.
First, I would like to share with you the Bedsheet Incident. The lady at the front desk at the hotel was very sweet, and after quickly assessing that we'd been travelling hard for some time (not that it took a brain surgeon to figure that out, we were pretty dishevelled and stank like green cheese at this point) she allowed us to check in early. They needed a few minutes to make sure the room was ready, but it shouldn't be a problem. After aforementioned few minutes, we were given the keys to our room and told that it was ready for us. As was par for the course, at this point we were both ripe for a hot shower and a nap. And yet, curiously, when we walked into the room, it appeared that the bed had no bedsheets on it. There were two duvets, rolled up on each side of the bed, a fitted sheet, but no flat sheet or blanket. After some discussion and a quick search in the cabinets, we concluded that in their hurry they must have forgotten to finish making the bed.
Nope! Guess what? That was just us being stupid Americans. Evidentially, the Germans sleep with their own personal duvets, and no bedsheets? This was confirmed with our stay in Zurich, which is also how Nicole prepared the bed for us (well, not our own personal duvets, but that's a minor detail). Are there any other Germans out there who can comment on this?
I thought it was interesting, and really quite comfortable, because the goose down comforter with duvet keeps you at the perfect temperature, and yet you're not encumbered by the heavy blanket and tangled sheets. It had just never occurred to me that in Western Civilization there were different ways to make the bed. And that's was the whole point of this trip. I mean, how else would you learn something like that?? Wouldn't even have crossed my mind, otherwise.
Anyway, continuing on.
Things We Saw
That night, at the recommendation of our trusty sidekick the Let's Go Europe book, we dined at the Augustiner Beer Haus, and finally got the hearty meal we so desperately desired. Below we see two things of note.
First, as an appetizer, the White Sausage (pronounced something like Vise Vurser, but I have no idea how to spell it), a mild veal sausage that is the region's specialty. It was absolutely delicious, and comprised a main part of our meals over the next 3 days. Second is the Big Ass beer on the table. Beers are served by the Liter in Germany. If you're lucky they'll offer a half-liter version as well, but that's not always the case. The Augustiner Beer was by far the best beer I have ever had the pleasure to imbibe. Best of all the beer I had in Germany, best of all the beer I've had in the US. It was smooth, rich, and delicious without being too heavy. And here's what was for dinner:
Meat, meat and more meat. It didn't take long to realize that the Germans' penchant for heavy, bland food (yet still delicious) is directly related to the awe-inspiring amounts of beer they consume on a daily basis. I saw beer with breakfast, beer with lunch, beer as a mid-morning snack, beer with brunch, beer as a mid-afternoon snack, beer with dinner (of course!) and beer out on the benches all night. But the only people I saw drunk were the tourists (namely the Americans, the Asians, and the Aussies, who were all having a rollicking good time at the Hofbrau Haus).
I think we should all drink more beer. I certainly did:
This beer is at least as big as my head.
One night, we listened to an old British ex-pat playing his guitar out in the Marienplatz - the big old square with a huge Glockenschpiel, as pictured here:
We sang, we drank beer, we made friends with a nice German whose name I regret I do not know, and we learned the German idiom equivalent for "taking a leak". Which is: "making little tigers" as in, I'll be back in a sec, I have to go make little tigers. I don't get it, but it's an interesting insight into how Germans think about that sort of thing….
It was a shenanigans sort of night, and I had an absolute *blast*, and it resulted in Eric puking his bland dinner up all the next morning. I believe the quote was:
"I don't understand how after sitting in my stomach for over 10 hours, the mushrooms still came up whole and identifiable."
When he felt well enough to venture out of the hotel room, we spent the afternoon recovering at the English Gardens, which is a huge park just northeast of the central downtown area. It has a huge river running through it, and it is gorgeously landscaped to give you large rolling fields, quiet wooded areas, cozy shady glens and of course, in the center is a massive Beer Garden.
After recuperating, we had dinner at the infamous and fabled Hofbrau Haus founded in the 1500s, and where in 1920, Hitler outlined the major points of the Nazi party. The food was hearty, the beers huge and refreshing, and there was much festivity:
These are the crazy Asian tourists who were drunk and conducting the lederhosen laden band at the Hofbrau Haus.
The place was HUGE and filled to the brim with rowdy and raucous tourists, locals, and Dresden Soccer Hooligans who were in town for what seemed like a Big Game. The town was so keyed up about it, and filled to the brim with yellow-scarf wearing, cheer chanting, beer swigging fans that it made Eric and I consider staying for the match. But we had a train to catch and it was uncertain that we'd be able to contact Nicole in Zurich about our change in plans, and so we decided to leave before the game.
However it wasn't before we rented bikes and rode around the outskirts of the city:
I took this one while I was riding too. I think we're both lucky we escaped with life and limb. We also saw Olympic Park, and returned to the English Garden for some sun by the water:
Yes, that is a naked lady in the background. Evidentially nude and topless bathing is accepted and fairly common, but that didn't stop me from being a little creeped out by it. We also saw these cool Germans surfing in the artificial rapids of the river:
And of course, now that we were feeling better, we stopped by the Beer Garden in the middle of the park:
Yay Beer Garden!
And last but not least was the Viktualienmarkt, a large open market filled to the brim with fruit and vegetable stands, butchers stands, fish stands, a veritable cornucopia of foodie goodness, with (you guessed it) a Beer Garden in the middle. I was brave enough to get food here a couple of times, peaches, raspberries, olives, cheeses, honey and jam, mostly by means of my expert pointing and smiling, and the kindness of the people working the stalls to show me the numbers on paper so I knew how much to pay.
Overall, I really enjoyed our time in Munich, and I was sad to leave. Thanks Munich, for all the good memories!
Things I Learned
* Germans are very polite, and ALWAYS wait for the light to turn before crossing the street. I had heard tales of that sort, but I didn't believe it until I saw it. It's like you're a freak if you jay walk.
* You can look cute while you are riding a bike. Everyone rides in Munich, and that includes girls with skirts and cute 'dos. You don't need to ride fast or hard to enjoy a bike.
* Somehow, German guys can look good in sleeveless shirts and capri pants. If an American tried to pull this off, well, let's just say, no American guy should ever try to pull this off. I would probably die from an attack of the giggles, and he would probably die of shame.
* I love beer. (Oh wait, I already knew that.)
* The whole bedsheets thing.
* It is possible for a population to have little to no regulations over alcohol, without mass chaos ensuing. Why are our attitudes so different here? Is it the whole puritanical thing?
* They watch the O.C. in Germany. Because no one can resist the humor of Adam Brody or the looks of Rachel Bilson.
* German sports fans are way more passionate (this may count for Europe in general, I don’t know) than the most passionate and fanatical sports fans in the US. That’s saying a lot, seeing that I hail from Red Sox Nation – but these guys have whole songs that they sing, and if you’re in a beer hall, one table will start singing the song and every table filled with yellow shirted men will join in, loud and hearty, without question. It’s crazy. We are definitely more reserved in our cheering.
* We were supposed to meet up with our German friend the following night, but we arrived late from dinner at the Hofbrau Haus and missed him. I felt really bad about that, because, well, standing people up sucks.
* I wish we could've stayed for the soccer match. That would've been a ton of fun.
Next stop: Zurich, Nicole, and the Chocolate Cream Hamburgers.