Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Moving cross country, day 3

When we were starting to plan our drive to Washington from Wisconsin, I held a strong opinion on only one subject: I wanted to see Mount Rushmore. I feel like every other kid has had a pilgrimage to Rushmore (usually in the form of a an excruciating road trip crammed into the back of a station wagon), but I've never seen it.

When the metaphorical shit hit fan in regards to getting our move on, the copilot was hot on the idea of trying to get back on our original schedule. Which meant driving for 12 hours and skipping Mount Rushmore. My only ambition for the trip. I put a Mount Rushmore foot down (which is a huge granite presidential foot, of course).

Aaaand BOOYAH! Trip = total unqualified success, everyone go home now. And on Memorial Day no less, very apropos.

Apparently the original plan was to sculpt all of them down to the waist, which would have been at least twice the work of what was actually completed. But the $$ ran out, and what they ended up with is still awe inspiring.

I was feeling a little sad over breakfast about, you know, the whole major life change thing happening. My copilot thought it over. "Would it make you feel better if I took a picture of you where it looked like you were picking George Washington's nose?"

Why yes, yes it would.

On a little bit of a whim, we also went to see the (mostly unfinished) mountain sculpture of Crazy Horse. An absurdly ambitious endeavor that's been in progress since 1948, if it's ever finished (and that's a big if) it will be the largest sculpture in existence. All the heads of Mt Rushmore combined are the size of the Crazy Horse head. We were dubious that it would be worth the price of admission, but a couple minutes after we arrived they blasted a section of the rock with dynamite. Blowing stuff up real good is a quintessential part of the American experience.

Crazy Horseing - the new Tebowing?

On to Bozeman, MT.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Moving cross country, day 2

What to do after getting such a late start? Take it easy. After much debate we decided to mostly just push our schedule back a day and add in a trip to the Badlands National Park.

The National Park system is probably the greatest thing about the US (free speech is OK too. And actually the interstate highway system is coming in pretty handy right now). After my trip to Yellowstone I was fully convinced of the bitchin' nature of the parks. The copilot required some evidence.

Here we go!

The infallible Wikipedia describes the Badlands:

Badlands National Park, in southwest South Dakota, United States preserves 242,756 acres of sharply eroded buttes, pinnacles, and spires blended with the largest protected mixed grass prairie in the United States. Heh heh...they said butte.

These wild rock formations just kept going.

Someone did not enjoy being left in the car.

We ventured onto an unsealed (dirt) road, and more wildlife appeared. Prairie dogs were seemingly everywhere.

Bison X-ing.

"OMG what is that?!"
The Subaru is pretty fun to drive in the dirt, it has the spirit of a kid playing in a mud puddle.

Is it going to be like this all the way to Washington? Sweet!

On to Rapid City to rest for the night.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Last night in Madison - REDUX

Oh. My. Well, that couldn't have gone much worse. I guess the apartment building could have caught fire or maybe some sort of alien invasion, but barring that...first our movers decided at the last minute they only needed Friday to pack and load all of our stuff instead of Thurs. and Fri. Then their truck breaks down and they don't show up until 1 PM on Friday instead of 9 AM. Next we get assurances that they can get done by 8 PM....then maybe 10 PM...then when ten o'clock rolls around and they aren't even close (we've lost our money for our first hotel reservation by this point, of course) they claim they can be done by 9 AM the next day. So naturally, they wrapped everything up by about 1 PM on Saturday and we lost the $$ for our second hotel reservation that we could have made it to if we'd gotten to leave in the morning. Apparently my future employer is as bad at hiring a good moving company as they are at hiring good employees *rimshot*.

I had to vacate the premises on several occasions due to suffering from Barely Concealed Rage Syndrome (BCRS). Sammy didn't seem to mind any of the ruckus and enjoyed nesting in the packing materials.

So it turns out we spent one more night in Madison. On our mattress. On the floor. With all of our toiletries, bedding, and generally useful shit packed away. I groaned when I saw the blanket the copilot dredged up. It was one of the first things that I ever knitted and it is TERRIBLE. I had successfully forgotten it existed. It's all uneven and has mysterious holes everywhere. I didn't know about things like, you know, gauge, or reading patterns, or purling. The thing is probably 5 ft. x 10 ft. (I had no idea it was 10 ft. until it came off the needles...surprise!), which is practical for a really skinny tall person, I guess. It's made with this cheapo yarn I bought at Wal-Mart, the fibers of which seem to get sucked into your lungs and stick if you breathe around it for too long. I hope it isn't carcinogenic.

From the dark days of my knitting history. Pro tip: Don't choose a blanket for one of your first knitting projects.

A good friend suggested we visit the zoo one last time to help ease my BCRS on Friday. My favorite guys were out and about. 

On Saturday I thought this place might help.

Why the hell not?

I grabbed some dust rose colored Malabrigo superwash sock yarn. I didn't take any pictures because a) it got squirreled away in the packing and b) the yarn clerk lady offered to wind it at the store and did a hilariously awful job. It currently looks like a big tangle. Yarn clerk lady was mortified and by that point I was like, "Eh...it's just that kind of day. Put it in the bag."
We've made it 7 hours to Sioux Falls, SD (original goal was Rapid City, SD, another 5 hours). Travel plans and hotels have been shuffled and we're a day behind. Who knows where we'll be next?

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Last night in Madison

A wise man named Tom Petty once said, "The waiting is the hardest part." Truer words...being in Madison these past two weeks after my defense have been painful knowing that we have to leave. We got married here.

Literally, here.

We live here.

Literally, here.

Right next to the halfway house. OK, I might not miss that so much. Although it made for some interesting stories. Like the time the lady who never wears shoes and always carries a broom approached me while Sammy was taking a dump in the side yard and said "By the hearth of Hestia, how I wish that all the creatures of this domain could relieve themselves in a civilized manner...[insert more world salad of New Age bullshit here, I can't remember exactly what she said]" but it amounted to that she wished that domestic animals could use a toilet. "You and me both, dude," I said. She wandered off, then apparently sensing I could be offended she turned around and said, "But I do thank you for cleaning it up." "No problem."

Eh, weird people have to live somewhere.

Sammy will miss the nearby park.

Orton Park

And his favorite person....

The mail lady--she carries treats. When he see her, he sits his ass down and refuses to go until he gets to greet her.

And his vet just down the block.

We're so used to walking everywhere. Restaurants, the hippie co-op grocery, the hemp store (for real. There's an entire store devoted to hemp and hemp products). The people watching is fabulous, as you might imagine.

My husband and I did our last bit of Wisconsin duty this morning by going down to City Hall to vote (early) in the governor recall election. Here's a quick recap of what happened to ignite the powder keg:

Governor Scott Walker: OK, government workers, we have to cut your pay because we need to balance the budget.

Wisconsin Government Workers: 'Kay, gotta do what you gotta do.

GSW: Benefits too.

WGW: Sucks, but 'kay.

GSW: And I'm going to revoke your right to organize and negotiate for your rights, pay and benefits.

WGW: 'Ka--wait what? No!

GSW: Yep. Except for the firemen and police. Their unions supported me in the election so...ya know.

14 WI senators: No way dude, we're going to a different state since you can't vote on any monetary matters without us, so you can't vote on this BS.

GSW: OK, well, forget all the budget balancing stuff. Let's just get rid of those rights!

This really pissed people off, as you might imagine.  He continued with an uber-conservative agenda under the guise of creating jobs for Wisconsinites. An admirable goal, but as recently reported by the WI Department of Revenue, we're suffering the some of the worst job losses in the nation. What, even after repealing the Equal Pay Enforcement Act?? The one protecting from discrimination based on gender, race, age, disability, religion, or sexual orientation? Republican WI senator Glenn Grothman explains the pay gap between men and women:

 "You could argue that money is more important for men. I think a guy in their first job, maybe because they expect to be a breadwinner someday, maybe a little more money-conscious. To attribute everything to a so-called bias in the workplace is just not true.” (emphasis mine)

Ass. Yeah, who needs money for like, food and shelter and stuff, amirite ladies? For obvious reasons, we were glad that we could perform a little civic duty before we left.

I hit up Lakeside Fibers, the yarn shop, one last time. The Cascade 220 wall was calling my name.  I was inspired by Autumn Geisha's post about her fav designer, Heidi Kirrmaier. The Nanook she's making in a sweet neon green color was too good to pass up. I'm making mine in purple!

I have no idea how to artfully photograph it though. It's a construction that I've never done before, where you do the sleeves before the bulk of the body. I'm kinda digging it. And I love the detail on the collar.

Collar 'bear tracks'.
Well, we've got a couple thousand mile drive in the next couple of days....how much do you think I'll get done?

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Biking in WI

We're moving away from Madison in a week. Regret isn't quite the right word--but I'm feeling something in the same family as regret about leaving. I accepted a job in BFE, WA (Richland, classiest member of the Tri-Cities). I traveled there five or six times in the course of my thesis work, and as I look through old blog posts I wrote apparently I always enjoyed it. I'm still apprehensive, though. I occasionally got vibes from it that reminded me of where I grew up, and no offense Hoosiers, I don't want to move back to Indiana.

So I'm trying to squeeze as much goodness from Madison as possible in the meantime.

Step 1: Bike as much as possible.

One common road biking destination is the piss-ant town of Paoli.

Bustling downtown Paoli.

It's about 17 miles outside of town, with a park that makes for a nice stopping point. You can refill your waterbottle from the community pump, which contains delicious, delicious rusty water. My husband and other biking buddies think it's disgusting, but it just reminds me of well water. Mmmm.

Wisconsin has a fabulous county road system. Supposedly, the roads are above average because they have more stringent standards on road quality than most states, the primary reason being the transport of dairy products. Can't be breakin' those milk bottles...

Smooth roads and the sweet smell of manure.

Love this place, it's a house with very modern architecture on a farm.

I even came across a llama farm on my last trip. You usually see cows.

I found a llama farm!

We occasionally participate in supported rides--you can't really call them races, they aren't timed or anything and I personally totally suck. But they have designated routes, rest stations, sag wagons and other nice perks that of course you don't get if you set out on your own. We recently did the Quadrupedal in Dodgeville, WI...the weather didn't exactly cooperate. It poured for about the first hour (we waited it out) and then intermittently showered on us. We opted for the shortest route.

Step 2: We hit up the drive-in movie theater for probably the last time....

Is it dark yet??
The only place to get a decent pork tenderloin in WI...the Highway 18 Drive-In snack bar.

I already want to go back (the Avengers was fabulous! and Richland has no drive-ins) but they're showing Battleship this week. Ugh.

I received a pretty awesome graduation present in the mail. I'd been coveting one of these yarn bowls for a long time, and let my parents know it might be a nice gift.

They took the bait, so I gave my Meadow Point Studio bowl a whirl for the first time last night. Yarn successfully wrangled.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

In limbo

Let's get this out of the way: I passed my defense. It wasn't exactly smooth sailing, but when something is pass/fail, it ultimately doesn't matter. Let's not discuss whether or not I wasted six years of my life, it's just too depressing to contemplate at the moment.

Last weekend we headed to one of our favorite spots in Wisconsin, Little Pond Lodge. It was nice to get out of town instead of sitting around and fretting. The weather didn't particularly agree with us though:

Not everyone in our party was troubled by the rain.

Enjoying the prairie.
The juxtaposition of prairie and wilderness is one of my favorite things about Wisconsin. Not too many wildflowers growing in the fields yet. We visited Roche a Cri State Park, a relatively small park in the state system near our cabin. Since the weather was miserable, we were the only people there and were free to let Sammy roam.  Roche a Cri boasts an unusual feature--a towering rock with carvings ranging from as recent as nineteenth century explorers carving their name to petroglyphs made by native Americans that are hundreds of years old.

The weather improved around the time that we were ready to leave, natch. It's actually pretty fun to go places when the weather is lousy, you feel like a badass while simultaneously avoiding the crowd.

Walking around Little Pond.

Rainy day activities included visiting the Carr Valley Cheese Factory in Mauston, WI. BEST CURDS EVER.

And of course I had plenty of time for knitting in the cozy cabin. Around the time the larger sized needles I'd ordered arrived, I ran out of yarn. I had no idea how far in the pattern I would get (answer: about 5/8 the way through) because the pattern listed no gauge, recommended needle size, or estimate about amount of yarn needed. Thanks a lot, Martha Waterman.

I used my handy shawl blocking wire to give it a shape, but seem to have misplaced my box of needles.

Operation Hold Shawl Down With Junk is go

An inelegant solution, but it works.
He pretends to not be interested.

Then as soon as my back is turned.... (Murray the penguin does nothing to intervene)

This was my first serious foray into crocheting an edge. Seriously, I have zero crochet knowledge so I was a little intimidated, but it was just some chaining. Crochet is so weird to me, you only have one stitch on the needle at a time. I was a little thrown by the nomenclature used for one of the stitches: ch3tog, which I interpreted as chain three together. Google couldn't find this term, it claimed that it was literally not found on the entirety of the internet. So for posterity, in the context of using crochet to bind of a knit edge, ch3tog means to slip 3 stitches from your knitting needle to the crochet hook, and chain them together. You're welcome, Google.

It was worked in a square from the middle outward, and the various sections serve like rings in the cross-section of a tree. Each area is a nice reminder of whatever the hell I was doing at the time (although it was usually television or movie related...I unabashedly love TV, but 'hey, this was during the premiere of Mad Men!' isn't super inspiring).

I wore it last night to the Dane County Humane Society fund raiser "Bark and Wine", and felt sufficiently fancy. One thing, though--it was a little bit of a pain to wrangle it. I'd like to get a shawl pin, but I don't know where I'd buy such a thing. Any thoughts? Ya'll I have a few reservations with Etsy, unless I know the seller from another context. Any of you guys happen to make shawl pins? Because that would be, you know, problem solved.