Some Stones Unturned

Knitting, Biking and Some Sober Second Thoughts

Archive for the tag “travel”

Florida Trip: Inedible Things

So, other than eating, there were lots of enjoyable things on my recent trip to Florida (Southern bit, near the Everglades).

As I kind of alluded to, the flight was terrible. The people beside me were really restless and demanding and I felt sort of bad for the flight attendants. And when we landed, I picked up my jacket and personal item from where they were “safely stowed under the seat in front of me” to find the jacket soaked with juice, presumably dropped by the kid in front of me. At least I hope it was just juice (the two kids in front of me were otherwise really well-behaved during the flight). Fortunately it mostly hit my jacket, which I didn’t really have a lot of need for in Florida, and missed electronics, so not so bad. And, as Louis CK says, I got on a plane and flew through the air, incredibly, like a bird, partaking in the miracle of flight.

And when I landed it was tanning climate and I got a fresh salad and there was lots of lovely scenery. Read more…


Florida Trip: Culture Shock and Ice Tea Plea

I’m planning to split my Florida posts in two to keep them from being long: one on food (this one) and one about things that happened that were not food-related. Priorities.

I’m not a big foodie, although I’m better than when I was younger about trying new things (went to Dim Sum yesterday and agreed to eat rice with fish in it. It was okay I guess. Still too fishy for my taste). I’ve travelled a bit, so I expect to eat weird things or else go searching for stuff to mimic what I’m used to, especially when trying to save money. But the weird thing about going to the States is how everything appears to be like home, but when you bite into it is almost always slightly different. Stealth new foods.

1. The Great Yogurt Experiment

I’ve found it difficult to take yogurt seriously ever since Sarah Haskins pointed out the craziness of the ads. I still eat it occasionally, but my Mom and sister are serious yogurt-eaters and have it every day for breakfast. And since my parents had arrived a couple of weeks earlier, my Mom had been searching for the best yogurt. According to her, they all tasted cornstarch-y or weird and according to my Dad, she had basically bought a new type of yogurt every time they went grocery shopping to try to find one she like. For fellow Canadian yogurt fans, she finally seemed pretty happy with Liberté Mediterranean, which apparently is very different from the Liberté Greek, which you should supposedly not get, because it is cornstarch-y. I thought Greece was in the Mediterranean, but my geography skills are pretty weak.

2. Raisin Bran

My breakfast is typically Raisin Bran and I thought it was less sweet, but my Dad thought it was sweeter, so we couldn’t put our finger on exactly what’s going on there, but it is definitely something sweetness-related and don’t think we won’t pin it down eventually America! (I actually usually buy the cheap-o Selection brand at home, so that might be why we find there’s a difference).

3. Things they sell at Walmart

  • Pez dispensers with 8 different Lord of the Rings characters for $10
  • M&Ms in a ridiculously huge array of sizes from a set of fun packs to basically a pillowcase
  • Dulce de Leche Cheerios. Whaaaa? I thought the whole point of Cheerios was that they’re NOT sugary, although I guess we do have Honey Nut flavour. Someone told me they are coming out with peanut butter Cheerios up here. Why? Why ruin the simplicity of the Cheerio? It is perfect as is.
  • Souvenir Naples shirt for $10. Not food, but they do sell them at Walmart. Ever since our Cessna pilot in Hawaii recommended stopping at Walmart to pick up souvenirs, my sister and I have checked it out and they often do have a few things in tourist-y areas.

4. Gelato

This wasn’t that different. A+ job on the lemon gelato Florida! If you’re not sure what flavour to get at a gelato place, check out the lemon and be surprised by the perfect sweet/tart balance. And it’s so light and refreshing when it’s hot out.

Lemon gelato

Gelato in Naples! What? Oh no no. Naples, Florida. Where did you think I meant?

5. Tea

The southern part of the States doesn’t really do hot tea. There are no teapots. Not in the rental place where my parents were house-sitting. Not at Walmart (or even Super-Walmart, according to my parents, which is just acres and acres of what you would think is everything you can imagine), not at Target and not at Publix. All kinds of other trivial things (fancy refills for an automatic handsoap dispenser, for example), but no teapot.

My Mom brought five kinds of tea with her when they drove down, which seemed like overkill when she told me, but now seems incredibly wise.

But all this has really buried the lede for what I wanted to say, what really must be said. Canada: We need to make unsweetened ice tea a thing. Florida does unsweetened ice tea, and at first it takes you by surprise, but once you get used to it and realize you can sweeten it yourself to whatever degree you like, it’s hard to come back to our restrictive system. If you believe in freedom, help me in my campaign to let me sweeten my own ice tea.

Bring it up at your local restaurants, put it on a t-shirt, write your MP. Okay, some of those actions may be a little extreme, but we neeeeed to make this happen. Last summer David’s Tea had a promotion where you buy their re-fillable mug and then all summer you got their iced Tea-of-the-Day for $1. It was fantastic, but it ended with the summer weather.

I also took to making my own ice tea, which I sweetened a little, but it still tasted like tea. Highly recommended: North African Mint, Luscious Watermelon (only available in summer :() and your standard Orange Pekoe from Tetley or whoevs also comes out pretty great.

If people really love the sweet drink most restaurants serve now, we could keep it but rename it. Unsweetened ice tea. Let’s make this happen yesterday. A message from the People for the Selling of Ice Tea that Tastes like Tea.

Bird Walking

I will probably make a few posts about Florida things, but as I’m catching up at work, here’s just a quick video of a bird that I took. I’m not much of a bird watcher-don’t have that patient, centered attitude-so I don’t know what species it is. But my parents have gotten pretty into birds as amateurs since they retired and Florida is full of birds you don’t generally see in Southern Ontario. This bird trotting around on top of the water in a Family Circus-style path made me chuckle. I didn’t take my video camera, so this is just with my point-and-shoot; sorry for the poor quality.

$5 in Paris: à laver la tête d’un âne, on perd sa lessive

$5 in Paris sweater progress

You know how there was that one member of Destiny's Child who always had to wear the one sleeve thing? This isn't like that at all.

Now that I’m back on Canadian soil, I can say that my first trip taking knitting in my carry-on (or, as I like to refer to it, Operation Please Don’t Confiscate My Sweater) was a huge success. I got a ton of knitting done. I don’t know why I wasn’t doing this ages ago.

I like to be early for things, especially flights, and since I was taking public transit to the airport, I left super-duper extra-early. I got to the check in just over three hours before my flight left, which is technically the time they recommend you be there, but just so you know, they do not actually even have the check-in counters open yet. Fortunately I had no luggage to check, so I just used the machine to get my boarding pass, beat the crowd to security and breezed through customs. I was seated at the gate ~2.5 hours before my flight was due to leave.

Needless to say that gave me a great starting point for knitting, both before boarding and during the flight, although I started getting worried during the flight because there wasn’t really space to wriggle into my sweater and check the sizing as I went, so I had to keep knitting and hope it would be okay. In the end I think I did the waist shaping decreases too quickly: the pattern says every five rounds, which seemed way too infrequent to me so I did every three; next time I would split the difference and do every four. Also, I threw in three sets of short rows and I thought that if I combined the decrease row with the row after the two short turns then I could save having to do any funny wrapping or picking up of stitches and just do k2tog/ssk where the gaps were, but for some reason this didn’t work and I’m left with a bit of a hole:

short row fail


I’m still not quite sure why this is. I do it all the time with sock heel turns and that seems to go okay. Is it the yarn weight or does the shape of the heel turn make it less noticeable? I didn’t rip it back though because I’m on vacation so whatevs (hence the post title). It basically almost fits. Close enough!

Anyway, knitting was great. I didn’t care that I had a long wait at the gate. I didn’t care when we hit turbulence. I almost didn’t even care that the woman beside me smelled pretty bad, although that was starting to make me a bit sick by the end. None of it mattered since, after the flight there, I had a sweater that was about 3/4 complete.  I think they should actually encourage everyone to knit on flights; people would stress way less. Sitting in the airport for my flight home (for which I was again really early because my sister’s flight was before mine and I got dropped off with her), I could hear families fighting around me, having (I assume) finished their vacation in Florida, where it was gorgeous weather all week, the stress of travelling was getting to them. “No we board at 2:10. It says right on the ticket.” “Well, I just asked her and she said 2:40. We’re delayed an hour. Go check yourself if you want.”…”I checked we board at 2:10. You want to fight about it some more? I love fighting.”

Now, if these people knit, I could just lean over and say “Hey guys, don’t worry. If we’re delayed an hour then I might be able to finish this sweater before I get home. Isn’t that great?! Well, not the sweater. I mean the sweater’s okay, but it’s my first sweater and I think I kind of messed up the fit a bit and there are these holes where the short rows are, see? But I can fix that up when I weave in the ends. Aren’t the colours great though? It’s great yarn. It’s acrylic. Crazy right. I mean, you can still tell. I’m nor a fibre snob or anything and I can tell, but it’s not bad and it’ll be machine washable. So, yeah, I’m starting to think I could really finish this up on the flight today.” But then the part of my brain that is still capable of interacting with non-knitters suggested they might not actually find any of this helpful or comforting. But if everyone knit on the flight, well, they would be thrilled with the extra time to finish their own projects, wouldn’t they?

I finished the body (may go back and do more ribbing? I intentionally did less than called for because I was worried it would be too long since I already have two extra stripes, but a couple more rows might be better) and most of one sleeve on the homeward wait/flight, but I didn’t want to start the sleeve ribbing until I could try it on to test the length. I think two more stripes will be too long, but right now might be too short, so I’m not sure what to do. Anyway, I’ll probably have something I consider finished by next week. Hopefully I can get those holes patched up.

$5 in Paris sweater unfinished

With the needles sticking out at odd angles, I guess it's a bit less Destiny's Child and a bit more Locutus of Borg. Although my pyjama pants are nicer than his.

More WIPs at Tami’s.

Good News and a Dilemma

I got some good news at work that I will be giving a talk at a conference in Melbourne. I’m pretty excited about the opportunity to share my work, but also of course about the opportunity to take some vacation time and explore Australia afterward.

I am planning to travel with some co-workers. It is cheaper and less stressful and, possibly most importantly, I only drive about twice a year, so it seems like a bad idea to try to navigate strange roads AND drive a rental car upside down or clockwise or however they do it there. (Discussion of the trip has so far been about 60% lamenting there is not enough time to do everything and 40% jokes about how such-and-such an activity is done backwards down there. Does not get old). Assistance and teamwork will be key.

So I went where I assume everyone goes for travel advice, to Ravelry. Actually this is where I find myself going more and more for opinions on things. In ten years, I will have very little idea what the general public thinks about anything; I will only know the consensus of knitters around the world.

Anyway, there is a Ravelry group called “travelry” (hee!) and I searched their board for Australia posts. Apparently Australia has a National Wool Museum! This is fantastic news.

But wait. No one I am planning to travel with is a knitter. So how do I convince these people we need to go there? That we have maybe two weeks to see as much as possible and this is a must do. Perhaps I am making unfair assumptions about non-knitters and they will be thrilled at the prospect of Axminster Carpet Looms, Komet Knitters and endless info about sheep. But just in case, I need a plan.

I am not above subterfuge or trickery (sometimes referred to by others with the overly-harsh term “lying”). “Hey, it’s almost lunch time. I hear they have food in Geelong. Let’s just stop there. Oh my stars, a wool museum!  How odd. Who could have known?! You guys go grab sandwiches; I’m just going to check and see if they’re open.” And then I could “accidentally” get pulled inside and lose track of time. Too implausible?

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