Sanna's Bag

“I never seem to have what I need when I need it. I’m going to make a belt-bag that’s bigger on the inside than on the outside, and just carry everything with me.”

Monday, July 31, 2006

typing with cat on lap

The computer was so slow yesterday that I coundn't get online. I gave it a time-out, turning it off overnight, and it's much more well-behaved this morning.

When I went out for the paper this morning at 5, I saw stars to wish on for the first time since May. The world is turning toward winter, and the hottest part of summer is still to come.

Instead of the Street of Dreams this weekend, we worked on the uber-treehouse. Last year, a friend's son came to him and said, "Dad, let's build a tree house." I think the son may have imagined a sheet of plywood nailed into a crotch about six feet up. However, Dad is an engineer, and none of their trees have appropriately splayed limbes (Big old firs for the most part) so the uber-treehouse was conceived. Now Dad the engineer is great on research and planning, and my DH has practical construction experience. They sort of took the bit in their teeth and ran with this tree-house idea. This is a treehouse with a bay window and a front porch. It is in its second summer of construction and Saturday and Sunday were perfect days for roofing. Next weekend may be a siding appplication weekend, and then they will install the swinging doors (plural) onto the front porch, andput the cedar flooring down. Honestly, it's a thing of beauty. If they could install a composting toilet, they could probably rent the place out as a small studio apartment.

I say "we" worked on the tree house. Actually, DH and treehouse dad worked on the structure. On Saturday, treehouse mom and I gathered 10 pounds of windfall apples and made applesauce and applebutter. The apple butter got just a bit scortched which adds a wonderful slightly smokey surprise to the flavor. On Sunday, treehouse mom and I made a shopping run while the boys manhandled asphalt roofing shingles up two ladders and played with DH's NEW pneumatic staple gun.

And I got further along on the grey orphan sweater, and over 3/4 done on the surprise sweater. What a peculiar shaped piec of stuff it is! Keeping fingers crossed.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Cool Saturday morning

I'm halfway done on the Surprise sweater. It's such a wierd, twisted thing. E. Zimmerman was a freaking genius to have been able to see a baby sweater in this peculiar wad of fabric. I think I'll do a few more because they are so bizzarrely intriguing.

Since it's cool today, and DH doesn't have to work mandatory overtime this weekend, we are going to go see the "Street of Dreams." It's a show of multi-million dollar homes put on by a consortium of real-estate developers every year. The latest, updatest, design and architecture available. I always swoon over the sybaritic bathrooms, though you could snowshoe across Satan's barbecue pit before I would put eentsy, teentsy tiles on all the walls. SOMEONE has to clean all that grout!! But I do long for a bathtub long enough to float in. And I always get some neat ideas for fabrics and colors and textures. Hey, even a blind rat finds the cheese once in a while. But prepare for a rant on the stupidity of people designing houses that no real people could possibly live in. (A rough brick wall behind the stove? Hellooo - did you know that grease spatters? A stacked stone fireplace and chimney fifteen feet tall? So you're planning a spider ranch, are you?)

DH is stirring. Happy trails, y'all!

Friday, July 28, 2006

Friday free

I don't have anything scheduled to do today. I have to clean cat boxes and buy groceries and stuff, but no one to meet at a certain time. I'm gonna do a day without my watch!

I got one quarter done on the surprise sweater yesterday. I'm knitting a blue skein, then an orange skein, then a blue skein, and finishing with the second orange skein. The shaping of the sweater will lend a lot of style to the simple huge stripes. I may even have time to go shopping for perfect buttons.

If I were a true pioneer woman, I would go harvest the daffodil leaves and use them to weave baskets. But I won't because all too often, I harvest stuff and leave it in the garage to make a home for urban wildlife.

And now we have mice in the house. I was fixing my morning tea, and a fat grey blur scurried the length of the kitchen and SQUEEZED impossibly under the closed cupobard door under the sink. The recesses of the under-sink space is sprinkled with mouse turds. I have no idea where they are getting in and out. The cats were all sitting around my feet, waiting for the good chow, not that crappy stuff I just opened and dished out for them (never feed them tuna. They will forever after expect nothing less) and when the mouse made his sprint, they sat back nudging one another. "You get it." "Screw that! You get it" "It looks bitey. Let Candy get it. It's women's work." They crept up and sniffed cautiously at the mouse turds when I swept them out, then sat back with the upper lip lifted, savoring the bouquet. (It's called "flemening" I think. They are moving the scent to different sensory glands to cross-reference it.) Then they went back to demanding tuna. I threw them outside. It's not that I would want to eat a raw mouse, but I don't wash my butt with my tongue, either. Having opposable thumbs means you have certain priveledges and perrogatives, among which is absolute control of the can-opener and the doorknob.

Note to self: buy mousetraps.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Not for THIS girlfriend

I was down on NW 23rd, the chichi shopping district, waiting for Lush to open so I could collect the box-o-goodies I won, and I stepped into a shop called "Girlfriends" to have a look around. Cute , simple clothes. Nice colors. they might even have had sizes a mature amazon like me could wear. I didn't stay long enough to find out. When I lifted the tag to check the size, I saw the price. $79 for a simple cotton t-shirt? I got out so fast I nearly left skid marks! Holy old boot soles, Batman! Who pays that sort of money for a t-shirt? You could have it custom knit for you by Taiwanese virgins at that price! I mean -Mother of Pearl! How can a shop like that stay in business?

So I fled across the street to the Assistance League Thrift Store that has been in the same location since the neighborhood was home to bums and winos, hookers and pushers, petty criminals and other art students. The thrift store had not changed. Still a clean, simple, brightly lighted shop manned by nice ladies and offering good quality used clothing at a decent price. In reaction to the $79 T-shirt, I found myself buying a Ralph Lauren skirt, a purple cotton cardigan with pockets, a silk hawaiian shirt, and a long-sleeved men's shirt (cream and red stripes- yipes!) for - - drum roll please- - thirteen dollars.

Needless to say, I am pleased as the proverbial punch with my deals. Now to see if anything in my closet will go with that skirt. Oh, well. That's what white blouses are for, right? They justify all the impulse buys.

I am working an a blue surprise sweater, hoping to get it done this weekend. Is there really a football team that has blue and orange as their colors? Ewww, gross! Well, babies like strong contrasts.

Wanietta, the fastest knitter in North America, has a heartwrenching picture on her blog. It shows rounds and rounds of knitting, literally thousands of stitches, with an inadvertant twist in the work. Of course, she had to frog it. But the more I look at that picture, the more I think she might be on to something here? What if you put INTENTIONAL twists, knit several rounds, then unwound one twist, sort of cinched the yarn across it, knitted a ways, unwound and cinched across another twist . . ? I bet it would create a nifty sort of scallop across the bottom of the fabric. I'll have to give it a try. Not on sock tops, though. Sock tops need to be elastic. Maybe a cuff. Or a a hat. How about a cute li'l baby cap with scallops all along the brim? Where's my pink yarn?

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Sorry Dave

When it comes to merchandising, I am an idiot! All the information about the book, and how to buy it is back a few days on the post titled Mad with Joy. I bet there's a magic way to link right back to it, and I'm too rushed at the moment to figure it out. (Like I said, I'm an idiot, right?) But if you just scrollllllll back . . .

All of the above

Yesterday when I got home from work, I found that my books had arrived. Theyy are real books, with a picture on the cover and nice blurbs on the back and lots of real words in between and I was SO excited!! I danced and hugged and kissed DH and danced and hugged the kitties (who objected, serially and en mass) and spun in giddy circles hugging my very own book to my breast and tried to think who to call first. then I got hammered with a gut clenching angst. What if it's really terrible? What if it actually just sucks ROCKS? Thank God for my friends in Chrysalis (my writing group) who have praised it so much and so long that I have to take their word for it.

A quick pep-talk, a sweep round the back of my brain to chase all the bats and vultures out, and I settled down with a stack of books and my favorite blue fiber-point pen to begin endorsing the books for his parents, and my mom, and my copy editor, and. . . . Just sort of soaking in the feeling of wonderfullness.

Then I heard that a friend had passed away a few days ago. At first I didn't know what to feel. The unreality factor was huge. Many parts of my mind still refuse to accept delivery of this information. but I have discovered that I can feel elated and bereft and sick at heart and satisfied and several other unidentified feelings simultaneously. It's not comfortable. It's like driving a stick shift in down-town traffic. But it's OK. If I hadn't cared about her, I wouldn't be sad. Caring about her was good (and impossibel to avoid. Anyone who KNEW her adored her.) I've survived grief before and will again. The happiness over the book does not diminish my sense of loss. The sorrow does not diminish the happiness. I do, however, YEARN for naps more often.

Today at work, I made my first four direct sales. (I work with kind and generous people.) Tomorrow, I think I'll order more books. Life goes on, and it is worth savoring.

Monday, July 24, 2006

slow at work

It's very hard for young people to drag thermselves out of bed in the mornings. Especially if the night before was warm, and they could go howl at the stars, or toss and turn in the sweaty sheets, searching for the cool side of the pillow. So things are realy slow at work and I can blog with a clean conscience. But I might have to cut off abruptly if someone comes in. forgive any choppy endings, please.

Knitting, of course, is going slowly in the heat. I have some delicious laceweight silk sent to me from Oz, (thank you again, Janette) that would be lovely in the hands, but no inspiration for a project. Some work on the Lorna's Laces sock, but those size 1 needles are a pain in the dark. (when you knit by touch, you get poked more often.) Mostly I just lie torpidly and chew my cuticles. (thank you for sharing that, Roxie)

The war with scanning photos and then putting them on the blog has reached an impasse. My friend Susan, a computer help-desk supervisor, came over to coach me through, and even SHE can't make it work. Next step, write the Blogspot people. I've got a couple of cute kitty pictures to share. Wish me luck!!

Sunday, July 23, 2006

never fry bacon in the nude

This is our thirteenth wedding anniversary, and I though I might spice things up by playing topless waitress and serving DH breakfast in bed. I suppose topless waitress would have been OK. But even at 7 AM the house was hot, so I figured, why not just stay cool and cook breakfast naked? Bad idea! Molten bacon fat splatters on exquisitely sensitive areas feels a lot like being being peppered with pin-points of fire. My pink and white bib apron with the ruffled shoulders and the smiley teapots on the pockets solved the problem, though presented rather a bizarre appearance to the casual observer. Especially from the rear. Thank God there were no casual observers. DH got a bit of a chuckle, though.

In spite of the heat, he took me down to Lush Cosmetics and bought me a plethora of bubblebaths. I love Lush because A. they do not test their cosmetics on animals but use things that have been used for centuries. B. They smell divine and make my skin feel exquisite. C. Some of the products contain glitter, which delights the six-year-old in me. I love it when I get out of the bath, dry off, and I still sparkle!

For his anniversary present, I was able to get him something he actually wanted. When I made the quilt for Miz G., I demonstrated to him how soft and cozy the backing fleece was. "Gee, I wouldn't mind some of this for a living-room quilt," he said. So I got two of the softest, fluffiest, cuddliest fleeces I could find, in a nice manly lichen green, and made him a living-room blankie. Yayyyy! He likes it. Usually, I wind up giving him clothes or something else he appreciates but doesn't really WANT. If he wants something, he goes out and buys it. And his wants are few and modest anyway. Me, I want truffles on my caviar served in a Dale Chilhully mouth-blown glass art work full of snow from the top of Mt. Everest, while I'm being fanned by unemployed lawyers wearing tigerskins. And that's just the appetizer.

Does anyone else turn off all the lights, pull the drapes agains the heat, and hide out in the dark in front of a fan? It may be why I like hot weather so much. It gives me SUCH a good excuse to be lazy. "If I had teeth of pearl and breath of lillies, I would call it ennui, but as it is, I must admit to feeling lazy." Wasn't that Percy Byshe Shelly? I can get behind the feeling, one hundred percent. Tomorrow and Tuesday, I will be putting in 9 hour days at work, so may not get my blog on. Catch you on Wednesday for sure. Stay cool!

Saturday, July 22, 2006

walkin' the mall

DH and I like to go hike around the mall before it opens on Saturdays. It's climate-controlled, well lighted, and secure. And I get a chance to window-shop on the fly. Today, as we cruised on through for the first go-around, we passed an athletic-shoes store with 8 young men lined up outside. They were young men with tattoos and piercings; with those baggy-crotch shorts that make it impossible to run for the bus, and show the top three inches of the boxer shorts, and make middle-aged women want to grab and jerk them all the way down to "teach him a lesson." These tough young honchos had enough attitude for a platoon of marines - but without the accompanying discipline. And what was it that caused them to congregate here in the mall at the ungodly hour of 7:30 AM you may ask? They were waiting for a shoe sale!! Heehee! Anyone can be a fashion victim! Can you just see it? "Yo, Rocco, ain't these cute?" "Oh dude, those are to die for! Do they have them in a 13 narrow?"

Back when I was young and strong, I loved shoes. I especially loved wearing high, high heels. I'm six feet tall, and loved to rise up to 6'5" and stroll down the street with a smile. Then I hurt my back and could no longer wear high heels. At all. Ever. So I took my prettiest shoes and filled two big shopping bags and took them over to the transvestite bar near work. The lipstick-red pumps vanished before I could finish saying, "I'm giving these away." The electric blue snakeskin spikes nearly caused a riot. The black velvet cutaways with the rhinestone studded ankle straps - oh how I hated to part with them, but they went to a very good home and even showed up occasionally on the society page of the paper. Now that all my shoes are flats, it's hard to get excited about them. I did push the envalope a bit with a pair of 2" wedge-heeled espadrilles with pink ribbon ankle straps that tie in pretty bows. Those are the girliest shoes I have ever owned, but I sure can't walk in them. They are to wear for strutting from the car, into the restaurant, and sitting down for a few hours, occasionally crossing the knees and swinging a coyly girlish ankle into view. Sometimes I go into the shoe stores and try on a pair of four inch heels again, but it still hurts my back. So to those who can still wear them, stand UP in your shoes! Keep your weight back over your heels, and swing those lanky legs from the hip! Stride on thou bold and lovely amazons, stride on!

Thursday, July 20, 2006

A tale of three goldfish

Once upon a time there was a young goldfish; an ordinary, nondescript, runty, black baby goldfish who was so mediocre that he was selected to be a, “feeder,” fit only as food for bigger fish.

But before his fate befell him, a lady walked into the pet store of his birth and said to the clerk, “My dear husband bought me a goldfish bowl and I need something to put into it. But I don’t want something fancy and expensive. Where are your cheapest fish?”

“I’ll sell you a feeder for five cents.” The clerk said, as a joke.

The lady pulled out a nickel and said, “That sounds good to me.”

So the Great Net came down from above and swept the runty black baby goldfish out of the feeder tank, and plopped him in a bag of water for the trip to his new home.

I neglected to mention that I also had four cats, so I didn’t expect the goldfish to live very long. Since I also have a sick sense of humor, I named him Appetizer.

The four kitties were absolutely gobsmacked by this flickering bit of life and would watch Appetizer for hours. Sometimes one of them would reach out and gently pat the side of the bowl, but none of them ever dipped a paw into the water.

Appetizer had a whole bowl all to himself, all the food he could eat, and no one trying to eat him. Life was good. He grew big and strong. One day, the lady came back from the pet store with another goldfish to keep Appetizer company. She named this fish Hors d’oeuvres.

Two weeks later, Appetizer and Hors d’oeuvres both turned from black to silver, and then to orange. They became small, mature goldfish.

One of the kitties decided that it would be fun to drink out of the fish bowl. Whenever he did this, Appetizer would swim to the bottom of the bowl but Hors d’oeuvres would swim to the top and try to bite the cat’s tongue. The lady and her dear husband returned from a weekend away to find Appetizer alone in his bowl, and Hors d’oeuvres lying under the kitchen table, looking very much like a little dried herring. The furry murderers didn’t even EAT him!!

So the I went out and got another friend for Appetizer. This friend cost a whole dollar and was already bright orange. And this fish had a long, elegant tail. I named her, Snackie.

Appetizer wanted to be an only fish. He didn’t want to share his bowl or his food with anyone. He would sneak up behind Snackie and bite her pretty tail. When food appeared, he would chase her away and try to eat it all himself. Appetizer’s greed got him in the end, and he died of constipation. Let that be a lesson to us all.

Snackie’s pretty tail healed, and she throve and grew strong in her bowl. She meditated on the Eternal Ommm. Sometimes, a red dot would appear in her tank, and she would chase it all over, but she could never catch it. (Laser pointers give goldfish a good workout.) But not even a goldfish lives forever, and one day, Snackie swam toward the light, and was found floating belly up. She was flushed with all due ceremony, and the lady said, “Let’s not get another fish. It’s hard to cuddle a carp.” And her dear husband agreed with her. The end.

Snackie moved on to that great reflecting pond in the sky yesterday. I spent an hour scouring the tank and gravel and little castle and filter pump. It smelled like a swamp and then I needed to mop the spilled water off the floor. I don’t think she died from indifferent housekeeping though. My older brothers put goldfish in the cow pond and they lived for years. Even when the pond froze hard enough to skate on, the fish survived. Goldfish are tough little suckers! I think Snackie was just ready to go to the next level. What do you think a good goldfish will be reborn as?

Wear silk

Since this is vacation time, I will now give my lecture on why you should wear silk when you fly.

Sometimes, airplanes don't get up and stay up the way they should. This is not something we can control. However, we can do a great deal to control our ability to SURVIVE a crash. Most people who die in airline crashes do not die from the impact. They die in the subsequent fireball when the jet fuel burns.

Try this experiment. Put a candle in your kitchen sink, take inch-long bits of synthetic yarn or fabrics, (nylon, polyester, acrylic, acetate) and, using tweezers or tongs, slowly bring the material up to the candle flame. You will see that synthetics melt, then burst into flame even before the fire actually touches them. Try to blow it out. It resists being extinguished. Imagine having this fabric on your body. Your polyester blouse would melt onto your skin and burst into flame that would be difficult to extinguish. And even when the fire was out, you would still be covered in hot melted plastic.

Now try the experiment with plant fibers: Cotton, linen, hemp, rayon (it's made from wood.) The yarn will burn as easily as grass, but you need to actually get it up to the fire, and it's fairly easy to put out. Your cotton jeans might burn if exposed to the fire, but they will be easy to put out, and they won't continue burning you once they are extinguished.

Now take animal fibers: silk, wool, and other animal hairs. You will find that the yarn resists burning, will self-extinguish once removed from the fire, and leaves a cold ash. Moreover, animal fibers will insulate your skin from the heat, preventing even more damage.

Forest-fire fighters wear only cotton or silk underwear. They get so close to the fires that synthetics would melt on them, even under their fireproof suits.

The moral of this story is that you can make yourself safer if you wear silk or wool when you fly. Anyhow, silk is comfortable, suitable to all seasons, stylish, and you are worthy of it. Get a silk top and slacks, silk socks, and undies to wear only when you fly. It's a tiny investment in your security.

I hope you enjoyed my lecture. Tune in here tomorrow for the goldfish story.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Keep your coolies cool

It's gonna be a hot one today. Dave Daniels at Cabin Cove (http://www.cabincove,com) has a great picture for a way to beat the heat. I long to go hang out in my sling chair under the walnut tree, but I have to take GED tests to the jail, and then there is the writing group to get to.

One thing I love about the hot weather is driving with the windows down. I listen to the classical radio station, and sometimes, it gives me opportunity to level the playing field. There was the time when a young man was driving along playing rap or hip hop loud enough to be heard three lanes over, and my station put on "The Ride of the Valkeries." I turned the volume up to "stun" and nearly blasted him off the street. I love the smell of napalm in the morning!!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Mad with joy

I got an e-mail yesterday from the publishers of my book:

Dear Roxanna,
I wanted to take this opportunity to let you know your book is now available for purchase on the AuthorHouse Web site:! It will also be available for sale through thousands of retailers nationwide soon!

SQEEEEEEEEE! NO, they are not killing pigs out here. I am just so excited I could plotz!

The book, Sanna, Sorceress Apprentice is about a 15 year-old daughter of a race horse trainer who leaves her rustic mountain village to attend the Thon Academy of Higher Magic for Young Ladies of Exceptional Talent. Sanna has a Talent for the fiber arts. She knits waterproof hats, and can embroider a shirt that will make the wearer invisible. She also uses her Gift for fibers in healing, to knit broken bones, and darn torn flesh. But she has trouble fitting in with her schoolmates. The dainty city girls don't appreciate her rough and ready ways.

Sanna angers a renegade wizard who swears revenge. She and her madcap bunkmate, a professional thief, rescue a disguised handsome prince from a fate worse than death. He and Sanna fall in love at first sight, touch, kiss. But a Sorceress must devote her full attention and energy to her craft. Will Sanna choose love or magic?

Anne McCaffrey (Dragon Riders of Pern series) read Sanna and said, "That's a good book you've written . . . funny, well paced, good characters and situations. I wouldn't hesitate to reccomend it."

My agent, Barbara Bova, shopped it around to the big publishing houses. They all agreed it was a sweet romp and lots of fun, but not nearly "dark" enough for today's young adult audience. No despair, no earth-shattering crisis, no joy-sucking malevolence. Well, I don't want to put any of that energy into the world, so I choose not to re-write the book to be "darker." Instead, I am self publishing.

So if you would like a light, fun read, or know a young person who might, check it out. If you're not sure, ask, and I will e-mail you a chapter. If you order it from Author House, it's only $9.95 plus shipping and handling. If you order it from Barnes and Noble, it will be $15.

Oh, and it includes a pattern for self-heating mittens. If you have a Talent for knitting, you might be able to cozy up the world!

Monday, July 17, 2006

Still not succeeding

Miz G e-mailed me the picture of the 15MPH stockings as an attachment, and it went up on the blog slick as - oh, slick as old Bill Harold. But when it comes to scanning and blogging, no dice. Guess I could send myself attachments and play with those. I've been banging my head against this wall for so long that I'm getting accustomed to it. When I got my Master Knitter's Certificate, I learned that you don't need to get it right the first time, just as long as you get it right eventually. Persistence is a survival skill!

This morning I took GED tests to some of the inmates at the county jail. It's nice to be able to help people over at least one of the obstacles to a better life. Names being changed to protect privacy, I told them I had come to test John Doe, when in fact, I was supposed to test John Buck. John Doe had been released two weeks ago. Of course, I do this on the day I'm taking the new boss in to show her the jail routine. So I get to look like an idiot in front of all the officers AND in front of the boss. No blood spilled or bones broken, though. My inner bookkeeper spoke up and said, "We tested John Doe last month. Today, you need John Buck. Now don't bother me again." Ooops. I probably ought to start writing the names down on a little piece of paper and keeping it in my shoe or something. There are days when my brain has as many holes as a doily.

I now have the borders and backing for the quilt, so now I'm off to solve seamy problems.

Oh, and last night I cut the front of my white sweater and crocheted around the edges. I haven't been brave enough to try it on yet. News on the 18th.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Yowza! 15mph sockies!!

sunday with funnies

DH works so hard. When he wants to sleep in, I let him. We had oatmeal and bacon and newspapers in bed, and then he fell back asleep. Bless the darling man. The sun is shining, the breezes are blowing, the hippie neighbor is doing yardwork with the Grateful Dead rockin' in the background. What a lovely July afternoon!

I'm still fighting with the photo load process. Miz G sent me a wonderful picture of the 15 mile an hour socks, and Arrrgh, I can't get it onto the blog!!

On the publishing front, I have to write some advertising copy. I wrote a 60,000 word book with plot twists and character development and story arc and the hero's journey, and now I have tell the story in 25, 75, and 125 words (for a businees card, bookmark, and postcard) in a way that will make the total stranger want to pay money for my amusing prose. Writing the book was the easy part. Marketing is misery!! time to put on my bra and get to work.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

He's chasing the lawnmower

DH has the weekend off, much to our surprise. Last summer, crisis by managment had everyone in the machine shop on mandatory overtime all summer long. DH worked a 32 day week in August. Morale was dreadful. Things got so bad that the robot committed suicide and actually pulled its own plug. I kid you not! During the winter, when weekends were crappy anyway and everyone could use a little extra Christmas cash, they sent people home for lack of work a few times. But for some reason, in the summer when people would like to take their kids camping on a weekend, or have a family picnic, maybe paint the house during these few weeks when the rain won't wash the wet paint away, maybe just do some yard work, mandatory overtime rears its ugly head. Is this a case of managerial malice, incompetance or is there some ebb and flow in the order / production chain that causes a bulge of work in the summer? In the summer, when the shop gets 110 inside because no fans could possibly cope with all those big machines cranking out thermal units 24 hours a day. In the winter, when it's colder than a dead eskimo, only half the equipment is running at any one time, you can see your breath in the air, and the lubricant is the consistency of vaseline. And of course, you realize it's cheaper for the company to pay everyone in the shop time and a half for two days a week than it would be to give another person a job and pay his/her benefits. God forbid they should employ another skilled blue-collar laborer while they can still squeeze the life out of the employees they already have.

Anyhow, we are looking forward to dinner on Hawaiian-style ribs at the Bamboo Grove tonight. I have him, and by golly, I'm gonna enjoy the ever-lovin' out of him! May you all have equally satisfactory Saturdays!

Friday, July 14, 2006

"High Fiber Diet"

Miz G arrived from Bend yesterday. We met at the Japanese Garden where the local fiber guild's show - "High fiber Diet" was displayed in the big tea house. The theme was "Spirit in the Garden" I think, and the work was mind boggling. Dyed, painted, embroidered, quilted, layered hangings and scarves and jackets and . . . Sometimes, I look at art and I wonder, "What's the point? It's ugly, messy, and wildly expensive. Why should anyone buy that?" A ballerina does thousands of plies to develop her technique before she actually performs for the public. But some artists seem to feel any bit of paint slapped onto canvas to develop technique is worthy to be called art.And priced as such.

But this show was so far beyond that. Every piece was the equivalent of a well-rehearsed and performed dance. I wished I had a Nile green room so I could squander the grocery money and the insurance on a hanging of persimmon orange silk from a vintage kimono, with a subtly marbled pale peach lotus applique'ed, and a border of delicious obi brocades. Exquisite, detailed, precise work that took the breath away from a distance and from close up as well! Then I wanted a house with an enormous vaulted entry and stairwell so I could display the blue hanging with the sheer copper-hued overlay. I lusted after the black and white raincoat with three capes, even though I never wear black and white. And Miz G spent many minutes gazing at the painted, layered and quilted landscape, taking pictures with her eyes, soaking in the details, filling the memory banks with plans.

And if that weren't enough, we then strolled around the gardens. If you get to Portland, and you have the time, you need to spend at least half a day at the Japanese Gardens. There are several styles of garden and each one is a jewel. We meandered down to the Koi pond and marveled at the fish. Some of them are bigger than cats! And heaven help any raccoon that tries to snatch one. They'd probably eat the furry predator. There is a wooden walk over the shallow end of the pond, where the irises grow, and when we went over there, I hunkered down and tapped on the piling. Naughty me. I once dated a guy who had worked at the garden and knew some of the secrets. The keepers tap on the pilings to call the fish at feeding time. In a minute, I had several giant carp nibbling at my fingers as I dabbled them in the water. Ahahahahaha! call me Carpmaster! Go, giant goldfish! Do my bidding!

I have so enjoyed the pictures of the Treking socks involved in their various activities that I gave in and started a traveling sock of my own. Size 1 needles? OMIGAWD I am too OLD for this stuff! But since there is no deadline, and it's just a sock to travel with, I won't care how long it takes. A dear friend gave me some Lorna's Laces yarn in "Lakeview" colorway. The first sock is now two rows long and ready to boogy.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

It's going to press!

I just heard from the publishers last night. My book is going to press. When it becomes available, in about two weeks,I will trumpet it to the world. (See me out in the rain in the backyard, over fifty, overweight, comfy old bathrobe and fluffy slippers, pirouetting and squealing with glee. there isn't enough clear floor space inside for a good pirouette.)

I got 1200 words in on the western yesterday. And laundry and even some spinning. And I went to visit a friend who has Lou Gherig's Disease and gave him a backrub. What a cruel disease, to take away control but leave all the intellect and sensation. I give a good backrub, so I can at least do that for him. (No, I don't do the "sensual tickle" thing. I give a good, deep-tissue untrained massage.) Writer's group today where I will also knit and meet with other fiber fans. So now, I'd better pull my socks up, face my luddite fears, and pay the bills on line. Yes,I will admit that it should be easierto pay them on line. I still don't trust it. So I enter everything by hand on paper as well, thus doing twice as much work as the old checkbook and stamp system. OK, I will admit that I save on stamps. Big whoop.

DH and I are taking dance classes in western partner dances. We learned two-step last night. Next week, Waltz across Texas. Great exercise, great fun! He is a PRINCE!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Tuesday is it the eleventh already?

The quilt top is done. I think. I might find something for a border. It's 48" x 66" right now. It will loose an inch each way when I sew on the backing. A border can expand it to any size. I could pick up the sagey green, or maybe the mauve and eggplant tones. Depends on the fabric available. And maybe I'll add a double layer of batting to make it extra squooshy?

Today I will write one thousand words on the western. And maybe spin and ply the hot pink roving. I balled up the yarn spun and plied from the other three bumps yesterday, so it will be ready for projects at the drop of a needle.

Don't you just hate it when you work all day and the project doesn't grow at all, and no matter how often you measure it, nothing happens, and then the next morning, it's suddenly two inches (feet / whatever) longer? My white sweater has been interminably unfinished, and now there are just a few more squares and the front band to finish. When did that happen?

On Sunday I went to the farmer's market and picked up my holly needles from phil Lingelbach and already I am getting greedy for more. Not only are they exactly what I wanted, (beautiful, smooth,warm in the fingers and just crying out for a project) but he gave me six instead of the five we had agreed on!! That's good old-fashioned business!I started him out on size 7s. Maybe a set of size 3s? In cherry? Hmmmmm. . .

You know, the other dayy I said I was complaining abaouat being bored. It's not boredom by any means. It's indecision. I feel as if I'm standing in the middle of the living room with one foot planted and the other taking a step this way, then that way, then another way . . . Where do I start? Where do I start? This isn't writer's block. This is writing evasion. I'd better put a bra on and get to work!

Monday, July 10, 2006

Give piecing a chance

The quilt top has a mind of its own, and fought with me until I gave in and let it have its way. And it is turning out better than I could have imagined. I learn fast, so, after pulling five 6inch seams out and rearranging the pieces, I went with the flow and all the rest is going slicker than . . . Slicker than . .

This is a conundrum that has long plagued me. What's vivid metaphor for slickness that is neither offensive nor disgusting? Slick as silk? Tussah silk isn't slick, nor is noil. Slick as glass? Boring. Slick as Bill Clinton? Ehhhh - - slicker than, . . . slicker than . . . a buttered baby? Hey, I'm open to suggestions.

Anyhooo, the quilt top is scant hours away from completion. I have a 50%off coupon for the 16th. Think I'll get that furry fleece stuff for backing. The quilt is going to live in Bend, Oregon, so every extra bit of warmth is a good thing. And Miz G.'s kitties should love the fur!

Went to see Pirates of the Caribbean - Dead Man's Chest and took sweater for Romania. Nice grey-blue moth-proofed wool from the fifties. This should be a good sweater.

And the movie was GRAND fun! Johnny Depp remains as charming as Pepe LePew, and as raddled as Keith Richards. Anyone else interested in costuming? I want to watch the film again just to study the costumes and makeup for Davey Jones's crew. Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate's life for me!

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Apple drop

The apple tree is overloaded, the branches so heavily laden with fruit that their tips bow to the ground, making a secret, shadowy green house. Lying beneath this leafy tent is like being inside an emerald. A few glitters of sunlight sparkle between the edges of the leaves, but mostly it’s all warm, verdant shade and the smell of grass. Under my back, way, way down, I can sense the spinning of the earth as it whirls along its track, circling the sun, which is hurtling through the galaxy, which careens through the universe at unimaginable speeds. And meanwhile, back at the tree, two apples are growing on one twig. Slowly, gradually, one forces the other off, and the stillness of the afternoon is nudged, briefly, by a muffled thunk.

Next week, the ground will be cobbled with fallen apples and the air will be a hubbub of drunken yellow jackets, feasting on the fermenting fruit. I have to
relish the apple tree shade while I can; while it’s still quiet enough to feel the earth spin.

This apple drop is a source of great consternation to the cats. They see movement much better in the horizontal plane, much less in the vertical. So, when an apple drops, the cats don’t see the fall. All they see is a sudden
movement in the grass. When they creep out to investigate, all they find is an apple. Then something hits the ground beside them. Have you even seen three cats spring simultaneously into the air and land crouching and facing in three different directions? What was that!?! Much tail switching and glaring about. There’s nothing here but another apple. The wind shakes the branches, and a barrage of apples hails down. Head for the hills, guys! There’s safety in the yew bushes under the fir tree.

For at least an hour, every gust of wind and tumble of apples produces a blossoming of suspicious furry faces in the yew bushes. And into the night, the nocturnal thud and rumble of apples on the roof troubles their fuzzy dreams. One kneads his paws and makes sucking noises like a kitten. One growls faintly in his sleep. And one twitches and purrs. Is he catching mice? Climbing trees? Dancing a tango with Carmen Miranda? Who knows? He’ll never tell. Cats never do.

Sharing the bed with three pushy pussycats is a restive thing at best, but I’m used to it, and pull sleep over my head like a fluffy grey blanket. As I drift toward unconsciousness, I wonder, - - do I hear reindeer on the roof? The grumble of distant thunder? Or is this the sound of the earth turning through the universe?

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Off the grid

One of the things I loved about weaving was the way the grid of its structure established parameters for the creative process. You can do anything you want, within certain boundaries. If you go beyond those boundaries, it ceases to be fabric and becomes something else. And I am equally enamored of "knitterly" solutions to sweater design. You want vertical stripes? The Kaffe Fasset way is to knit those stripes in intarsia. The knitterly way is to cast on all along the left side of the sweater and knit over to the right side. Just change colors and knit a few rows for each stripe. No counting, no watching, no thirty dangling strands of yarn snarling all over. You use the innate structure of the work to direct your design.

DH is stuck with mandatory overtime this weekend, and I have not been called in to work for two weeks. I have no innate structure in my life right now, and I feel like an un-tethered helium balloon. I suppose I could do housework, but geeze, you dust the place and six weeks later you just have to dust it again. What's the point? I have a quilt top to assemble, a western romance novel to work on, and one more bump of dyed roving to spin. Susan will help me fight the scan-and-post photo war when she wakes up but since she is going to bed just about the time I am rolling out (5AM) it will be a while before we see results. And by the way, Susan - I CAN spell, I just have a clumsy keyboard. It's all typos. It is! Quit laughing!

I got in a walk yesterday (one in a row!)and may try a repeat before I throw myself on the quilt. The library will open at noon and I can get more books on tape to entertain myself while I sew and spin. Hey, I'm legally a Senior Citizen now. I'm entitled to complain about being bored. Would you rather I complain about my bowels? All right then!

Friday, July 07, 2006

The struggle goes on

How many programers does it take to change a lightbulb? None. That's a hardware problem.

I'm still trying to scan a picture for the blog, and still failing. It may be a problem with the hardware. It may be a problem with the live-ware (me.)It may be a blogspot problem (They did send a message apologizing for being unable to upload my picture and said their engineers are working on it.) So, since it's another pretty day, I think I will just go for a walk instead (Quick, alert the media. This sounds like Roxie is going to take exercise!)

The galleys and the cover for the book have been approved. Now they send the manuscript to the printers and soon I will have a prototype in my hand to give the final once over, and if I approve of it then, we are into production! How exciting!! Know anyone who would like to read a neat book about magic and knitting and romance and adventure and teenage girls learning about life?

If I could scan a picture onto the blog, I would scan the fifteen-mile-an-hour socks to show them off. Finished just before bed time!

Thursday, July 06, 2006

fiber stuff.

While the computer was being dyspeptic, I spun and plied 27 skeins of wool yarn. I may have to store it in the canned goods cuppboard.

On the road, I turned the heels of the fast foot socks and am well along the foot toward the toe decreases. I LOVE doing both socks at once! I do NOT love working with Lopi Lite, but it DOES make a thick, wooly winter sock. Soon as those socks are done, I'll finish the white sweater, and then start some sweaters for Roumanian orphans.

I wore the LOUD sweater on the beach. Many people stared at it. Some remarked on it. No one said it was pretty. That just makes me love it all the more. And it did yeoman work keeping me warm!! Good sweater. Good sweater!!

The trip

Washington State is not overly generous with directional highway signs. Their attitude seems to be, "If you don't know where you are going, you shouldn't be here." DH and I, however, are intrepid adventurers with innate sense of direction, and adequate map skills. We back-tracked once or twice, and took a slightly more scenic route than we had planned. But on the way, we saw a garage sale where they were actually selling a garage, all packed up on a flat-bed trailer and ready to roll. Soon after that, we merged with a convoy of silver trailers, and decided that, as wildebeasts and sheep travel in flocks, Airstreams must travel in gusts. And, as a group of geese in the air is a skein, and a group of geese on the ground is a gaggle, then a group of Airstreams meeting together in a campground must be a confluence. (And a group of flying fish, in the water is a flotilla, and in the air is a squadron.)

Once we found our way onto the penninsula, our host's house was easy to find. They joined us the next day, bringing two teenaged boys, one 12 year-old, a grandma, and a dog. The boys are usually referred to as, "the man-cubs" but here at the beach house, in combination with an overgrown lot and a machete, they become, "The whacker Brothers." I think every teenaged boy should have amachete and a quantity of downed limbs and overgrown undergrowth on which to vent excess testosterone. Remarkably satisfactory combination for all concerned.

On the 4th, the old grey wolves took the man-cubs down to the beach and constructed a truely workmanlike bonfire. Three big driftwood logs to give it substance, quantities of yard debris to build some quick coal, and all the paper plates and bacon grease from breakfast for quick ignition. The man-cubs took turns guarding it during the afternoon and at 7, the rest of the pack assembled. Mother wolf did the hearth-goddess honors and the festivities began. The two teen boys had their own roman candles which they began lighting off at 8ish. Still broad daylight, but you could still see the glowing balls and hear the whoomps as they fired off. By sunset, there was a light-show going on clear up and down the beach. As the night grew darker, the effects improved. Of course, by the time the darkness was complete, the teens had used up all their fireworks. the old grey wolves, however, kept pulling out bigger and bigger packages of stuff. It was really quite wonderful. I didn't expect to enjoy myslef nearly as much as I did. Being outside minimalized the accoustic damage. And really, as far as you could see to left and right, there were beautiful red and white and yellow and blue fireworks. Thirty foot fountains of sparks, and star shells, and chrysanthemums, and rockets and dancing bees . . . the low clouds reflected the light in flashes and bursts, and I was so excited by the whole thing that I stayed awake untill midnight. This is a virtually unknown phenomenen! It was wayyyyy cool!

The fireworks

My beloved husband, being a guy, likes explosions. In Oregon, we are permitted sparklers and ground flowers, but nothing that makes a good bang or throws sparks more than 6 inches . In Washington, just across the river, you can launch an artillary barrage if you like. Friends with a beach house in Long Beach Washington invited us to spend the holiday with them and DH has been dreaming about this for months. We made a stop at "the largest fireworks warehouse in the country - BlackJack's" The side street leading to the warehouse was lined with people holding promotional signs and handing out flyers. To our surprise, The Bomber Brothers had set up a huge tent in teh vacant lot next to BlackJack's warehouse. It was enteprenurial war! BlackJack's employees had bright orange safety vests. Bomber Brothers had brought in a high school ralley squad to flirt their skirts at prospective customers. BlackJack's had a DJ with monster speakers set up to drown out the cheerleaders with country music. Bomber Brothers had a hot dog and iced soda stand. BlackJack's had 2 for one coupons, and parking on the right side of the road, so we turned in there first. disneyland could not have been more efficiently organized. Parking attendants wavved us into a vacant space and directed us to the front door of the establishment. I didn't have the fortitude to plung into the teeming aisles, though, so I stood outside and observed the happy customers. The first thing I noticed was more tattoos and fewer teeth than common in the general public. The next thing I noticed was that the guys walked away with thier arms heavy laden with flashy-bangs, and a look of boyish glee that would strike fear into the heart of any wise mother.

DH emerged with three bags full of armaments, and a slightly downcast look. They didn't have any of his favorite things. (What, no whiskers on kittens? No raindrops on roses?) We stopped at Bomber Brothers and and found that their circus-tent emporium of excitement containted whatever BlackJack's lacked. DH was delighted!

When settled at the beach, we took pictures of our various booty. His pile contained a mound of assorted mortars and things with fuses labled, "Caution! Shoots flaming balls and fountains of sparks. Will explode. Do not hold. Light fuse and get away!" My pile contained two boxes of sparklers and some plastic glow-in-the-dark sticks.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

I think I broke it.

I tried for two hours to scan a photo and put it inot the blog. It should have worked. Lulu and RooBeeFaye both explained it to me in simple little words that my simple little mind should have comprehended, yet no matter how carefully I did what they said, it didn't work. so I gave up in disgust and tried to get e-maiil and discovered that our computer, well, let's just say that it is not a happy box. It won't let anything out and everything coming in is doubled. I think I broke it.

the next day, DH and a beloved geek friend worked to cast out the gremlins and finally had to give it up as a bad job. We were advised to back up EVERYTHING, just in case the whole system goes south. I've got three novels on that hard drive! And over twenty short stories and a bucketfull of poems. E-mail addresses! My diary!! How do I get e-mail adresses onto disc?

And sunday we had to abandon the wole thing and jusst walk away. Friends of ours with a beach house on the Long Beach Penninsula had invited us to join them for the fourth. I will try to get messages out as opportunity presents itself.