Saturday, January 11, 2014

The End. The Beginning.

My little world ended in the middle of December. No, I'm not going to write about it here.

However, I now have a new blog, What This Kate Did. Head on over for more in the way of books, knitting, cooking, quilts, sailing and whatever else takes my fancy. (Yes, it's still a work in progress.)

See you there!

This Kate

(Sunset, on this blog)

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Radio silence

Pardon the silence. I'm studying for the GMAT and will be back once I've taken the test. Soon.

P.S. WTF, long division?

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Things I Love Thursday: the Ablet

I heard about this gadget while listening to the Math For Knitters podcast (I no longer listen to it - the poor audio quality started to bug me).

It's called the Ablet and it's seriously amazing. (No, they haven't paid me anything to tell you this.) I bought one for my mom for her birthday, and she leaves it clipped to the handle of her knitting bag. I wear mine on my right hand when I'm knitting, and it has completely changed my accuracy and pattern counting. Nevermore shall sleeves be different lengths (phew).

If I'm doing something with pattern row repeats, I use the white beads to count my rows, and the brown beads to count how many pattern repeats I've done. No more pencil and crumpled paper (or calling out, "Husband, please remember the number 17 for me!"). Otherwise, I just use it as a normal abacus (white for the 1s column, brown for the 10s).

So. Much. Better.

The only problem is when I get very engrossed in the knitting and forget to move the bead. That's not a design flaw, though, it's operator failure.

Slightly amusing story regarding my Ablet: I was using it to knit on a train journey up to York for a work trip. When we were about 10 minutes from York station, I started packing up my things, and went to take off my bracelet. The chap sitting next to me said, "York's quite safe, you know, you don't have to remove your jewellery." Erm, thank you, sir.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Sunrise at the station

Not so good: I frequently take the 7:09am train. ::yawn::

Good: this morning, the sunrise was absolutely stunning.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Last few sailing weekends of the year

2 weeks ago, we had a spectacular Indian Summer day, with no wind at all in the morning. We headed over to Felixstowe, where we walked along the seafront while we waited for the wind to pick up.

We were even wearing our matching Kanga polo shirts.

And then we went back to Levington, to take our little squiblet for a spin.

We were out again this morning, in cold drizzle, helping with an RYA Instructor pre-assessment, and then we're both racing (in different boats and with different fleets) tomorrow. Next weekend is the final part of the instructor course (including my assessment), and then the boats come out in early November.

Monday, October 14, 2013

The cost of my breathing: UK vs USA

The New York Times is running a series of in-depth reports on the true costs of the healthcare system in the US. This week's article, The Soaring Cost of a Simple Breath, was truly astonishing.

I never blogged about it at the time, but last summer, I was diagnosed with asthma. One morning as I was walking to work, I had what turned out to be a severe asthma attack (where I actually thought I was having a heart attack). Over the next hour or so it combined with a panic attack and put me in the ER for a morning. Fun times.

After a bit of discussion and quite a few tests (they/I originally thought it was a cardiac arrhythmia), my GP sent me to to the asthma & allergy specialist, who figured out that I have asthma and an exciting array of allergies.

All of this, including the trip to the ER, the attendant tests, the take-home-and-wear-for-24-hours cardiac monitor, more blood tests, the allergy tests, and the asthma test, were free. As in no money at all. No copay, no insurance card, no bill in the mail, nothing.

Looking back, I've had asthma since at least high school, possibly earlier. I went on an ill-fated snowshoeing trip with my college roomie sophomore year, and nearly expired. I have always hated running, cross-country skiing, and any kind of endurance sport. Hmmm...maybe because I CAN'T BREATHE.

So. If I'd been diagnosed in high school, I would have been paying between $100 and $175 for EACH inhaler. That's madness. I go through about 3 of each per year (I have one for attacks and a different one that I take right before bed), but I'm a relatively light user. If I'd had to buy them when I lived in New York, I would have gone without. My insurance plan was basic, and my other meds were already costing me over $60/month (p.s. that medicine is free in the UK, as it's classed as one of the drugs that nobody ever pays for).

I refilled my prescription tonight for one of the inhalers, and paid £7.85. It would have been free if I were on benefits of any kind, or any number of other things.

Feel free to join the first world whenever you're ready, America. Once you get the government running again, that is.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

We ate too much (but it was good)

I'm surprised there were any clams left in Rhode Island after we left.

We had stuffies, fried clams, and raw clams. No clamcakes, since I find them too cakey and not clam-y enough.

We'd been meaning to try out Persimmon, in Bristol, for a while - the chef has won all sorts of awards and it was really highly recommended by some friends of my parents.

We splurged (and decided to make it my "birthday dinner") and had the tasting menu. It was really fun - the first of the five courses was a series of hors d'oeuvres, and we spent the whole evening guessing what was going to come next. The whole meal took about 3 hours, but everything was completely delicious.

It was somewhat romantically lit, so my camera had a hard time with the pictures. This was one of our favourite courses: a devilled quail's egg with caviar. SO delicious. We also ate (and thoroughly enjoyed) several things that we never would have ordered off the main menu, like cauliflower soup, and veal sweetbreads. 

And now for something completely different. Alexandria Bay's idea of haute cuisine? Cheeseburger soup, bitches.

Oh, and pancakes, blueberries, sausage and bacon.

Back in Rhode Island, my parents had recommended Federal Hill Pizza in Warren. We were coming back from a day out in Boston, and took the bus from Providence to Warren. It dropped us right in front of the restaurant (and then we had an exceedingly dark but otherwise pleasant walk back to my parents' house). 

They made our pizza half-and-half: sausage, onions and peppers with no cheese for John, and buffalo chicken for me. Yumsters.

We stopped in for a quick lunch after sailing in Newport, at Rosemary & Thyme. The sandwiches were delicious, but the person who took my order (I think she may have been one of the owners) gave me an extremely vitriolic lecture on the evils of credit cards and small businesses. Zoinks. Feel free to put up a "cash only" sign but don't accept cards and then get mad at me when I want to charge $20 worth of sandwiches. Anyway, bring your cash and enjoy the sammies!

While the boys were playing with trains, my mom and I had a girls (plus Harry) trip down I-95. We stopped in Westbrook and had lunch at Lenny & Joe's Fish Tale. Because, obviously, it had been at least 12 hours since our last clam. And onion rings and coleslaw both count as veggies, right?

So does beer.

Needless to say, I gained a few pounds. My fitbit and I are in the process of working them off again.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Boats: small, medium & large

It appears we seek out boats.

Model boats in Central Park (this time we rented two and raced them):

Coast Daylight (with bunting) in Bristol harbour:

John, helming Coast Daylight.

Harry, a-snooze on Coast Daylight (note the Outward Hound lifejacket):

At the end of our CD adventure (post-swim):

At the Newport boat show. Overkill, anyone?

Our view from the dock of the Uncle Sam's boat tour boat that we took the day after this picture was taken.

The enormous tanker that came down the St Lawrence Seaway, past the wedding lunch:

Roomies, en-kayaked:

The Uncle Sam's boat tour:

Our Duck Tour, in Boston:

About to splash into the Charles River:

A sister-duck:

The boats at Community Boating in Boston. We'll be back.

A cruise ship, from our J-22 in Newport Harbour.

A schooner in Newport Harbour:

Coast Daylight in Newport harbour:

The 1/6 scale model of Reliance at the Herreshoff museum in Bristol, RI.

Us on our first J-22, named Intrepid, of course, in Newport harbour:

And the second one:

Bonus pic: John's "Life Is Good" tshirt, complete with sailboat, on the High Line in NYC with Emily:

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Sunset, 4 locations.

Sunset 1: Stowmarket station, evening of departure.

Sunset 2: Over the St Laurence River, near Cherry Island, in the Thousand Islands, NY. (Note: while the sunsets and the wedding were beautiful, a region whose most famous export is salad dressing made from ketchup and mayonnaise may have some disappointing food experiences).

Sunset 3: from the Lobster Pot restaurant in Bristol, RI, over Narragansett Bay.

Sunset 4: Manhattan island, as seen from a car on the Whitestone Bridge, en route to Kennedy Airport for the red-eye to the UK.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Aaaaand we're back

Whirlwind US trip (90% Rhode Island, 8% upstate NY, 2% NYC metro).

This is Harry the Dog. No, he doesn't drink gin, he just likes to chew on plastic bottles.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Breakfast of champions

 Sourdough bread (or english muffins), prosciutto, scrambled eggs, sauteed tomatoes and mushrooms.


Saturday, August 24, 2013

Review: sailing books

I've recently read two sailing books: Fastnet, Force 10 and Love with a Chance of Drowning.

Both made extremely clear the ruthlessness of the ocean.

The Fastnet race in 1979 killed 18 people, as a result of a "perfect storm" hitting the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of the UK and Ireland while the race from Cowes to Fastnet Rock was happening. The writing style reminded me a bit of Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air, and was utterly terrifying. The combination of relatively small ships, far out to sea, and a confused sea with spectacular waves resulted in massive boat damage and loss of life. The storm happened before I was born, but John remembers being in a harbour in France on a sailing trip with his parents, and watching boats break loose in the harbour as the waves crashed over the harbour walls.

Anyway, give it a read, preferably NOT before setting out on a sailing trip.

If you DO want a book that will make you want to go to sea, I really liked Love with a Chance of Drowning, a memoir about following a boy and a boat and sailing across the Pacific ocean.

Sign me up!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

August food

We had the boy for 2 weeks. We ate a TON of fruit (the strawberries this year have been amazing and just keep coming)!

John made cinnamon-raisin bread, which was demolished in short order:

With butter.

And James and I went to Cambridge (John was sailing, and my iPhone needed a Genius), and had some dumplings at Zonghua Traditional Snacks. Yumsters.