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.”

Sunday, February 27, 2011

I've been busy

The writerly blog is at  and is titled, You Learn How to Write by Writing.  Having stated my philosophy, next post will be a short story.

When Mom passed, and the inheritances came through, many of my nieces bought new cars.  I invested in retirement funds, but saved a little out for my own new wheels.  I got a Roomba!  Squeee!!  Aside from the fact that it scares the cats, gets lost under the dining table in that forest of legs, and ate a spool of thread, It is without flaw.  I loves it.  It rumbles around, bouncing off the walls and sucking up all dust, lint, cat hair and various detritus.  It does a great job. 

I was lying in bed, wondering what to do when we win the lottery (oh come on.  You do it too!) and it seemed to me that the most wonderful thing I could spend money on would be someone to come in once a week or so and clean the floors.

The lightbulb appeared over my head.  I can buy a robot to do that!  So I did.  I love having mechanical servants.  The dishwasher, the clothes washer, the automatic entertainment box (TV) and now, the Roomba. 

So today, while Roomba swept the floors, I did some more baking.  Again, I am trying bread.  DH took me out of the house for a nice long walk during the second rise that usually makes me crazy.  It worked.  Beautiful high-domed loaf.  Now if I can just get it out of the pan. . .

Also, I took a recipe from the latest issue of TeaTime magazine and made a scratch cake with strawberry preserves.  Oh my YUM!  It's a lovely cake!  This bears repeating.

I return to pink

The green background,though peaceful and refreshing, just didn't make my inner 3 year old squee, and it's important to keep her happy.  If she gets cranky, there's no telling when she might throw a tantrum or what she might do.  I was riding a bus and a young woman slouched back and threw her feet up against the pole right next to me - about a foot away from my face. So I tied her shoes together.  "Why did you do that?" she asked me.  "Why did you stick your feet in my face?" I replied.
"I didn't.  I just put them up."  "See where your feet are.  See where my face is. You didn't intend to put your feet in my face, because you didn't think about anyone but yourself.  You are not the only person on the planet."  "You're not my mom!"  "And thank God for that!  We'd have killed each other before you turned fourteen!"   

She put her feet on the floor, re-tied her shoes, and glared at me till I got off the bus.  It was the three-year-old who played with the shoe-laces, but she had the venomous crone to back her up.

Also, since the books will be coming out as e-books soon, my publishers want me to start a second blog featuring writing.  AND they want me to do a facebook page for Sanna (soon as we get an illustration of her from our artists, because they want her face on the page.  AND, they want me to set up a twitter account for Sanna. 

Shriek!  A learning curve!  No!  No!  Technology is too hard.  I'm too old and stupid. 

Ah, and so we hear from the inner Barbie.  "Math is hard."  Well, Barbie, I am perfectly capable of learning how to Tweet, I already know how to blog, and it's about time I pulled my socks up and got back to work selling the books. 

So stay tuned.  The writing blog will have short stories and writerly thoughts. (Though I really believe that you don't learnhow to write by reading about how to write.  You learn how to write by writing.)  The facebook page will have comments from Sanna.  And the Twitter - (Roxie straightens her shoulders, accesses her inner Xena and faces it boldly) The twitter will be mastered as soon as possible.

March 20 is the opening Gala for Puddletown Press.  Wish us prosperity!!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

 Thursday, DH was sent home for the weekend due to lack of work.  Friday, at sunrise, the yard looked like this.  And I had my husband home to play with! 

No, we did not build snowmen or go sledding.  We lolled in indolence.  It was glorious.  Unfortunately I forgot a coffee date with a girlfriend, and felt like such a jerk when she called.  She is a true friend, however, and does not hold it against me!

 So many people have been all happy and excited by our snow,  Ben and I share the same attitude toward it.  ie, "What can I do to stay warm?"  Ben crouches over the pilot light, I wear clothing in layers.

But the sun shone, and a dry wind blew, and the snow went away even if it was too cold to melt.  And this morning, look what I find in the back yard.

 Can you believe it?  Violets?  They were under two inches of snow yesterday, and here they are, as bright and perky as cheerleaders. Yay violets!  You GROW, girls!
 Later, we encountered an unusual sign of impending spring.  Geese don't perch on parking lot light poles,but these two were up there yelling and carrying on like they had just "made it"  I suggested thqt it might be a good nesting site because it was safe from most predators, and the lights would keep their butts warm ant night, but DH pointed out that goslings - walk - out of the nest.  They are waddling around, looking for food for weeks before they fledge enough to fly. High-rise nesting is not good for geese.

Still, the young geese are paiaring off now.  Spring is on the way!

Thursday, February 24, 2011


 The weathermen have been predicting snow for days now.  So this morning, the one morning I have to drive to work, tah dah!  Here's the maple tree for the year of seasons.  We never get winter in February.  Well, ok, I remember one snowstorm on March 7, but it melted as fast as it hit.

It's hard to believe that these are color pictures. But really, this is the color it is outside.  The drive to work actually wasn't a problem at all.  The pavement was bare and wet, but the snow was coming down so hard it was like driving through a swarm of popcorn.

And when I got to work, look what I found crossing the parking lot -- squirrel tracks!! The parking lot was an untouched blank canvas and I was sorely tempted to lie down and make a snow angel, but with my tweaky back, I was afraid I might not get up again.

All the deans and high-level administrators stayed home, so I would have had to lie in the snow until a secretary found me.   I stayed vertical and went in to the office like a good girl because the secretaries have enough to do as it is.
By one PM when it was time for me to go home, it had all melted away.  At 3, it came down again like flour out of a sifter.  And again, it's melting.  We just don't do winter very well around here.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


So I was digging a pan out of the back of the cupboard under the stove top, and I know I should have just gotten down on my knees, but I bent over and reached . . . 

So I was in a little pain on Tuesday, but thought a gentle yoga session would do me good. It was one of those 50/50 things - you know?  I called heads and the coin came up tails.  The stretches felt good, but now I'm crippling around with my back support belt and the tingles running down the leg.  No fret.  It's an old wound, a memento of my full-time weaving days.   I know how to tend it, and it will heal up soon.  This getting old stuff just ain't for sissies.

Youngsters, I don't want to scare you but every injury you ever get will come back  to remind you as you age.  That sunburn you got when you were 13?  Can you say basal call carcinoma?  The three weeks you lived on coffee and uppers while you finished your Russian lit paper?  And how's your digestion now?  That silver-tongued guy you met on that warm summer night when the music was so good and the beer was so cold?  Herpes is the gift that keeps on giving.  Athletes will tell you about the knee that got swacked in 8th grade football and has been trouble ever since. 

My dears, my dears, take care of yourselves.  I wish I had gotten down on my knees on Monday.

Monday, February 21, 2011

sticking to the Piscean theme

Fish have been my totem for quite a while.  Thirty five years ago I appliqued and embroidered the back of my jeans jacket.
 About twenty years ago I took a weaving and dying workshop.  I dyed my yarns with indigos and greens, threaded the loom in a simple twill, and went to town!    I stenciled the fish in as I was weaving, doing three on the finished fabric, three on four warp threads, three on three warp threads, three on only two warp threads, and three on just one warp thread, so they appear to be swimming away from you and vanishing into the water.

 I added some little embroidered fish afterwards.  And I had great fun playing with different treadlings of the twill as I worked.

It started with a lot of dark threads in the warp,, and I kept cutting them out and replacing with light


And then, because I had time while the slow weavers were finishing up, I did a little shibori experimenting in the indigo vat.  Lordy how I enjoyed that class!

And now I go out into another new day.  Today, I'm going to buy some new clothes.  Everything in my closet has salad-dressing stains on the chest. (One of the trials of having a bosom.  When I was thin, all the salad dressing stains went into my lap and if I was smart, I already had a napkin there.)

Do you have a totem animal?

Sunday, February 20, 2011


My friend Tim Young is an artist.  He just posted this wonderful colored pencil drawing he did of golfish, and I longed for it.  I remember that he had started a needle felting class, and I had some colored roving I wasn't using, so I proposed a trade.  Woohoo!  Thr happy yellow fish are now swimming in my house!  Monday, I will take them out and find them a nice mat to bring out those luscious aqueous colors.  Fish are sort of totem. I'm a Pisces, with Pices as my moon sign as well.. The e-mail is flyingfish3. And my motto, when frustrated by the world is, '"March to a different drummer? But I'm a fish!"

                               Meanwhile, I just got my collection of  Agatha Hetrodyne - Girl Genius  graphic novels, and I have been in a steampunk world for hours.  Great fun!                                                                                                                                 

Saturday, February 19, 2011

It's bread! (sorta)

 Next time I'm going to make it in pans, because I think I still didn't let it rise enough  on the final rise, and how can you tell if an amorphous blob has "doubled in size?"  But is has a nice sourdough tang, a decent texture, and an OK crust.  Now to see if I can improve on the results.
 Here's a scarf I knitted a while ago which has bee just sitting around, waiting to get some beads on the edges.  Some day I'll figure out how to photograph these things so the sparkly bits show up better.
This one is for Lisa, who will (Heaven only knows when) add her own beads.  See you Wednesday, Lisa!

Friday, February 18, 2011

time slips

 I pass this abandoned house every day on the way to work.  The blackberries have grown right over the top of it,  And against their tough old leaves, the hazlenut (aka filberts) catkins show up so bright and hopeful!  (The swath of pale green to the left of the door is the hazlenut tree struggling against the blackberries and ivy.)  This whole area used to be hazlenut orchards.  The old house has a couple of plum trees, an apricot tree, a cherry tree and a lovely apple tree slowly  going feral around it.  It's a great destination for a leisurely walk for me, and I can feast on windfalls all summer long.

We are getting a bit of a sunrise squeezed between the clouds.  And the sun is moving further north!  Woohoo!

I left the bread to rise slowly overnight, but forgot to dampen the dishtowel, so it will have tough bits in it where the dough sort of dried on top.  It is bench-proofing right now.  Alton wants me to brush cornstarch and water across the top before I bake it.  Wonder why? 

I took just a tiny pinch of the dough. Pleasantly sour, but not too much.  Nice yeasties!  Good yeasties!

Why doesn't commercial yeast taste tart, but wild yeast does?  Am I domesticating yeasts if I feed them and put them to work for me?

Must remember that tap water has chlorine and my little friends don't like it.  Feed them bottled water.  Keep them warm.  My grandma, the camp cook, used to take her sourdough to bed with her in the winter to keep it from freezing.  Did she cuddle it under her arm like a child, or tuck it down by her feet like a pet, or stick it under her pillow like a pistol?  And how did her husband feel about it all?  Maybe good bread is worth sharing your bed with a crock of sourdough.  Wonder if ladies passed around patterns for crock cozies?  Too commonplace for the ladies' magazines, but oh so useful!  Like the wool "soakers" babies wore before the invention of rubber pants.  Oh my, life has gotten easier!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

thanks well crafted

 So awhile back I made some pieced comforters for some great nieces and nephew in LA.  A black and white for the oldest girl, a pink and purple for the youngest girl, and an orange and brown quilt for the little guy.  We just got the thank you letters.  I am enchanted!

What's not to love about heartfelt expressions of appreciation?

I have not been prompt about the regular photos of our little maple tree.  The year of seasons.  There hasn't been a lot of change lately in the tree.

 But at ground level, spring is slipping up on us.
Meanwhile, the knit goes on.  Here's a tea-cozy made with Benita's natural-dyed yarn.  I am tickled with how fancy such a simple pattern can look when you play with the colors.  And I used up the last teensy bits of each ball of yarn.  So proud!

As for the bread, I didn't get around to it.  I came home from a strenuous yoga class and fell asleep.  So I'll take all your good wishes and apply them to Friday.  Thank you, thank you!!

TW is correct.  She did not tell me that the yeast would sense my fear.  She told me that other people create their own self-fulfilling prophecy with that belief.  I need not fear the yeast.  Yeast is my friend!  I'm going to go give my friend a little more food now.  Alton wants me to use a pound of starter!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


It's time to write the acknowledgements and cover blurbs for Sanna, Sorceress Apprentice as an e-book.  Have you read Sanna?  Would you like your deathless prose on a book cover?  Write me a nice blurb and we may use it.

Acknowledgements are gonna be hard.  I've got to cut several pages of appreciation to a cast of dozens down to a reasonable snip.  Gotta include DH.  Gotta include the Puddletown Press.  Gotta include alpha and beta readers and Copy editors and the cheering squad and . . .

Meanwhile, DH spent all day Sunday in bed, Then got up on Monday and went to work like the hero he is.  He took left-over oatmeal cookies to the locusts, and tells me they were gone by lunch time.  He told the locusts about the chocolate cupcakes, but refused to take any in to share with them.

I have a starter fermenting on top of the fridge and am going to make another shot at bread baking today - using Alton Brown's cookbook.  TW has told me though, that some people who are otherwise excellent cooks just can't do yeast.  Evidently that single-celled organism senses the cook's anxiety and uncertainty and reacts badly.  Well, since I am not otherwise an excellent cook, I may very well stand a chance of making friends with the yeast beasties.  At least I'm gonna try.  And if I have another failure, the birds and squirrels in the back yard will celebrate, so it's an ill wind that blows no good.

Sunday, February 13, 2011


For breakfast today I had leftover tea re-heated in the microwave, and left-over oatmeal cookies.  I began putting things away, and  as I tidied up, I found the presents basket.  To start this whole gifting arrangement, I "salted" the basket with three gifts (leaning heavily toward chocolate) and after everyone left a present and taken a present, there was one for me ( a wonderful Japanese "useful" piece of fabric which can be a scarf, a package wrap, wall decor, a placemat or  table runner or . . .  quick - think of ten things you can do with a piece of fabric 24 inches square and neatly hemmed on all sides.

And then I found the presents leftover.  If I were virtuous, I would find a more equitable way of distributing the wealth.  I ain't virtuous.  I kept 'em!  But I think people went far over the $5 limit I had put on gifting.    Look, look!  A tea apron - hand embroidered gingham!  Isn't this just awesome?  Wish I knew who had contributed this because it just makes my eyes skarkle, and I want to gush appropriately.

 Looky there!  Someone spent hours carefully placing each and every cross stitch to make those pretty flowers.  It's SO wonderful!
And after squeeing over the hand embroidered apron (with a pocket - every apron should have at least one pocket!) I opened the other leftover gift and found potholders.  hand made potholders.  See that colorful graphic potholder with the squares and triangles?  It's pieced!  It's made with itty bitty bits of fabric sewn together with astounding straight seams.  The other potholder inspires me toward a Christmas present blitz.  It's a pretty print neatly trimmed and seamed, with a hand-croched hanging loop.  I need new potholders, but these are almost too nice to use!

And BethieM made door prizes which we didn't get around to distributing.  Maybe next month?  Those are still neatly wrapped because I know who to give them back to if I can make myself let go.

Today is the big push to finish the re-writes.  I may have to take a couple hours for a grocery run as well.  DH has been knocked down by the rhino that got me two weeks ago, and will, I hope, just stay in bed till he feels better.  But we need groceries.  Usually we go together, he drives the cart, I tag along enjoying the outing.  If I have to shop by myself, I prefer to go when the store is less crowded.  Sunday after church, the store will be crammed with large families, but we need a few essential items and what are ya gonna do?  There are the senior citizens who wander away from their carts with the purse wide open in the baby seat.  I want to sew the darn purse to her coat sleeve!  People will steal your wallet, ma'am!  There are the women wearing what I can only assume are pajama bottoms, with flip-flops,an unzipped hoody, multiple tattoos, piercings, and hair done in that blonde on top, black underneath technique and styled into a ponytail that looks like it has been slept in all week.  They tend to park in the middle of an intersection of four aisles and block traffic while they go through pockets and purse looking for that damn shopping list.  And there's aslways that one poor man with four little kids who are running wild, swarming all over the store, opening bags of candy, pitching fits because he won't let them have have sodas RIGHT NOW and generally making a strong statement for birth control.  With DH in charge, I can happily sit back and observe.  When it's up to me to negotiate this minefield, I want a flamethrower and an armored personnel carrier.  And what's with the woman who brings her chihuahua into the store in her purse because, "He hates to be left behind."  Would you rat on her?  I sure do! 

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Done to a tea

 At the left are:  bottom tier, curried chicken sandwiches; middle tier, raisin/oatmeal cookies; top tier,shortbread and  lemon macarons.  To the right,  Home-made from scratch chocolate cupcakes surrounding a compote of honeydew melon balls with fresh mint.

 Here's our cheerful hostess in her jolly tea room.

Extra seating is available in the living room.

Decor was festive for Lincoln's Birthday.
 And everyone had a great time!

Everyone!  We sang happy birthday to us in three different versions (including the Volga Boatman version.)  We randomly exchanged gifts. (I suggested take a present, leave a present.  But people wanted to wait till there were lots of gifts to choose from.)  I don't think anyone was disappointed.

And as always, we talked and laughed and ate and drank and communed, and finished feeling better than we had when we started.

Oh, and some of us even got some knitting done.  Now the dishes are done and waiting to be put away, and I'm sitting back with my feet up and a sense of a job well done.

The chocolate cupcakes were a success as were the shortbread and the oatmeal cookies, and I will use those recipes again.  The macarons were a partial failure. They tasted ok, but rather than use eggwhites which have been properly aged for three days, I tried using merengue powder.  It made lovely merengue, but the macarons didn't get feet.  I'll know better for next time.

I just LOVE doing this!  It makes me so happy!

Friday, February 11, 2011


Can't find the camera.  Snowdrops blooming in the yard.  I saw the first dandelion of the year today. 

Bake cupcakes, make curried chicken salad, bake macarons, make melon balls with mint, clean bathroom, re-arrange livingroom to seat 10 people (first come, first served at the table.) and set it up nicely.  Wash dishes. Chase cats off tea-party set-up in living room.  have lunch. chase cats off party set up in living room.  find camera. chase cats off. Frost cupcakes.  Frost macarons. Chase cats.  Find brains.  Use both hands to find backside, . . .

Thursday, February 10, 2011

On the fly

I signed the contract with Puddletown Publishing on Monday.  They want the changes in my re-edited manuscript by the end of the week.  And with the ladies coming over for knitting (18 yesses so far.  Wanna  join us?  We'll make room!) I have been kinda busy.  I used Alton Brown's oatmeal recipe from the "More Food" cookbook and I'm quite pleased with it.  Next time though, more spice.  But creaming the sugar and butter together on high for two minutes made a teriffic difference.  Also sifting the flour and other dry ingredients together, weighing the ingredients, rather than meausring the flour by cups, annd using parchment paper on the cookie sheets.  Today, I clean house and set the tables (after my five hour stint at work) and tomorrow, the rest of the prep work.  I'm going for a chocolate cake from scratch.  Wish me luck.

We will be celebrating Lincoln's birthday.  Everyone brings a small gift, all wrapped, and we exchange them.  There will be balloons,  There will be streamers.  There will be candles on the cupcakes.  Are you sure you don't want to join us?

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens

I has a happy.

It feels so wonderful to wake up and realize that nothing hurts, all systems are functioning smoothly, air pumps in and out with no bubbling or wheezing, and the coldthing is on it's way out of the system.  Woohooo!  The rhino has left the building!

Just in time, too.  I gotta get cracking on the next knitting party.  A cake, two cookies, a savory and some fruit.  Since it's happening on Lincoln's Birthday, I proposed that we all celebrate by giving one another little gifts.  Bring one, leave with something else.  There will be balloons, streamers, and candles on the cupcakes. Sooo, clean house, bake a whole lotta goodies, decorate and set the table.  DH suggested that I make jello molds for the fruit offering.  Whattya think?  Little arranged fruit cups with jello holding them together? It certainly opens a vast field for creativity.

I'm thinking chocolate cupcakes with a candle in each, lemon macarons, lavender scones, shortbread, mango & kiwi fruit salad (with orange jello?) and curried chicken salad sandwiches. Sound good?

In the meantime, a gift from me to you.  Go to and watch Deere John.  Tell me how you like it.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Poor Phil

I understand the groundhog was frozen in, couldn't see his shadow, couldn't even get out of the hole.  So, winter should be on the way out for you folks on the East coast.  .  This whole legend evloved from a bit of British folk wisdown that said that if the hedgehog could see his shadow on the 2nd of February, then they were due for six more weeks of winter.  Hedgehog / groundhog - what's the difference, right?  So Phil and his ilk get rousted out of their hibernation on Feb 2nd to have a look around.

Out here, on the left coast, we do things a bit differently.  We use a real hedgehog.  BUT, since hedgehogs are not indigeneous to the Pacific Northwest, we go up to the zoo and drag an African spiney hedgehog out of HIS nice warm burrow and hold him up to the thin and bitter light of February, and right around the 2nd we usually have a bit of a break, so there usually is enough sun to cast a shadow, and we caulk our galoshes in preparation for another six weeks or so of unremitting rain.  No, we don't have snow or ice down here in the valley, though the Eastern half of the state is freeze dried hard as a brick.  But down here in the valley we have rain and 40degrees.  Per omnia, saecula, saeculorum.

So, for a bit of frivolity, let's import a facebook silliness to blogdom.  I want you to leave a post telling how you met me, but I want you to lie.  If you have posted for me on facebook and want to repeat or re-enter the lists with another lie, please do.  And, if you would like, I will go to your blog and do the same.  With all the active imaginations in the area, this turns out to be a lot of fun!

Thursday, February 03, 2011

and the knit goes on

 So I haven't felt chipper, cheery or alert, but the fingers continue to knit.  Fall-back is to cast on 100 on a circular needle and k2p2 for 6 inches  with oddballs, then place a marker every 25th st and k2tog after the marker every row , move to double points, and carry on to 12 stitches left. run the tail of the yarn through them, draw it up, sew it back and forth across the top a few times, and fasten off.

Hats for the orphans.
And then there was these couple of balls of gray poly/silk/rayon weaving thread that I had in the stash that just wound up on the needles somehow. I have been quite happy with a nice little thermal layer at work the last few months.  I really ought to sew the ends in before I wear things, but oh well.

Lordy those are matronly hips!

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Still rasslin' the rhino

 Can you really call it a rhino virus if it mostly lives in your chest?  Hack, hack, choke!  If I could even produce a good hairball I'd have something to show for the hours of slackitude and inertness I have been practicing.  and I know how very lucky I have it. I don't have to get up and go pump my own gas, wait for a bus in the sleet,   dress and feed a family and get them off to their appointed rounds, clean house or even go out into the cold, cruel world  and buy groceries.  I am not complaining about my  tiny indisposition.  Really!  But my head is full of crud and my lungs are too and there isn't enough oxygen to go around in here.

A few days late is the maple tree.  Yes, we have sun.  It's colder than a housemother's heart on Valentine's day when no one bought her chocolates.   This is a bright sunny day that will make you suffer! The wind will chap any exposed skin in minutes.  Your eyeballs dry out, your nose hairs freeze and and your ears cling to the sides of your head like terrified bats.  And I have seen college kids out in this wearing flip-flops and baggy shorts.  I bet Mr. Happy was shrunk up like a stack of nickels, and the Balsam boys had crept back into the body.
I took GED tests to the jail today.  This is the sky as I was preparing to head out.  I got to drive about five miles squinting into the rising sun.  And, by God, I LIKED it!  Sunlight, bouncing off the back of the retina triggers happy endorphins and I'll take those any ol time they're available.  Thank you!