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.”

Thursday, August 30, 2012

The joys of retirement

LG and I can now get together every other week or so for an adventure.  Today, we went to the Chinese Garden.  I could move in there.  It's sooo beautiful! It's in Chinatown which is a rather dicey part of the city.  Lots of punks, drunks and junkies, hookers, pushers and street people. You walk through an area with used needles in the gutters, and enter this Eden of peace and beauty.  It was transcendent!

In the very foreground here, you can see the silhouette of a gardner trimming some foliage. She worked steadily for about fourty minutes, tracing every twig back to it's stem and then then stem back to the branch, and clipping only after she was quite sure that every leaf that was left was precisely the perfect leaf to be there.  It was very zen.

There was Tai Chi class going on when we arrived. Lots of geriatric practitioners.  There are mah jong tournaments held once a week, calligraphy classes, embroidery demonstrations . . . it's an active part of the Chinese community.

We settled in the tea house for moon cakes and tea.  I had Golden Monkey tea.  It tasted even better than it looks.

And then it was time for a tour of the garden. The docent we followed was a font of information. The trick of a garden like this is to give a sense of infinite space in quite a small area.  Curved paths lead you to new views.  The tree you are admiring conceals a pond just a few steps on which is placed to reflect both the tree, and the building wall on which the tree casts elegant shadows.  Sit in the building and look through the window on the left which frames a fascinating water-carved boulder like a whole mountain range in miniature, or look through the window on the right and contemplate the twisted branches of a venerable old pine tree.  You find yourself savoring every detail, and just when you think you've seen it all, you notice the shadows, or the reflections, or the way a breeze makes the leaves ripple on the little bush in the corner.  It's a place where you take your time.

This is a scholar's garden, and symbology is everywhere.  The beautiful carp, if it swims hard enough and fast enough and manages to leap up the falls of the river will be transformed into a dragon fish, just as a man who works diligently and energetically will be transformed from an ignorant lout into a venerable scholar. Go, carp. Go!  Every flower, number, roof tile and paving stone is freighted with meaning.  And since Chinese is a language much given to puns and word plays, there are layers of comprehension like jokes waiting to be discovered.

The garden is designed to be enjoyed at all times and in all seasons.  I hope to return often.  Winter rain, spring blossoms, autumn leaves, this place is a treasure trove!

After our garden time,we walked a couple blocks and had DimSum for lunch.  I just love
this sort of meal, where you get a bit of this and a taste of that and a few of those little crispy fried balls of wonderful flavor, and before you know it, you're groaning in pain, and the table is heaped high with empty little plates.  I'm still uncomfortable, and I wouldn't have foregone a thing.  It was a glorious day!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Street of fantasies

DH and I went to the annual Street of Dreams, where local contractors develop a largish plot of land with several  million-dollar houses to show off the latest designs and doodads.  This year we are seeing a lot of water features, both indoor and outdoor.  Trickling steams and plashing falls in every garden.  Sophisticated fountains, many combined with gas fireplaces in the great room or the bathroom.   And speaking of gas fireplaces, a two-sided one appeared in EVERY house.  I was rather taken with the two-sided fire separating the entry from the great room, though I wonder if anyone actually uses those great rooms. High vaulted ceilings and furniture floating like an island on the sea of hardwood flooring.   It's a kind of conspicuous consumption.  We can afford this great big show-place of a room that we never actually use because it's really not all that comfortable.

Last year, bamboo was VERY big.  This year, it's cherry, though a more modern house did have some lovely bleached pine.

Color: What are designers thinking to use gray in the Pacific Northwest? It may be tres chic, but it's what we get for weather 9 months a year, and we want something warm and cozy to counteract it. Pinky browns and yellowy tans are a lot more welcome.  Everyone was mad for metallic all over, but again, the silver bedroom wall was just too cold for this area.  Copper tints are what we need here.

Previous years have featured separate media rooms with the full on giant screen TV, surround sound, rocking theatre seating and a popcorn machine.  The closest we saw this year was a TV and game room in a basement with a small kitchen attached.  Actually, it would probably make a great teenagers' hangout.

Every year I ask myself, "What were they thinking?" This year, one home featured a bedroom set up with twin beds, a boyish rustic sort of theme that might be suitable for a twelve-year-old but would be scorned by a 14-year-old, and a full wet bar with built-in wine cooler.  WTF?

I fell in love with a cast brass bathtub.  It looks like the sort of thing some Roman matron might set up in the summer villa.  I tried it on for size and oh, my it was wonderful!  Our house would probably need structural reinforcement to support the weight.

Why do they make a stove backsplash with fancy 3-d tiles when you know it's just going to collect cooking grease and need to be cleaned by someone actually sitting on the stove with a toothbrush?  In fact, what's with this great love affair with tile anyhow?  The modern solid floorings and countertops are easy to maintain and by the time they start to show wear, you'll be wanting to remodel anyhow.

The only thing I came away longing for was a big pantry with a gazillion shelves.  If I actually had a place for everything, I might stand a chance of getting everything into its place.  Failing that, I want a support staff to follow me around and tidy up my messes.

Wow, could I have written a more boring blog post?

Saturday, August 25, 2012

State fair

DH and I went to the state fair today.  I always enjoy the chickens and the bunnies, the women's building, and the vendors selling choppers in hoppers and Sham-wows, but things were really sparse this year.  I heard there was a major foul-up in the management, and people weren't able to  get their entries processed.  Hope they straighten things out by next year.  I wanted to put things in this year and never heard from the management.

But we enjoyed what was there.  Here's a picture of an over-achiever in the chicken barn.  Just had to show what great layer she is!

I got four new pearls. One black, one silver and two pink.  The lady who sold us the oysters told me that I was one of her favorite customers every year because I was so enthusiastic.  Aww, shucks.

We strolled past the rides and activities and I went for the human hamster balls.  No one else was playing when we showed up, but after I spent ten minutes falling down and laughing my ass off, the kids were lining up for a chance to try.  I never did manage to stand up, but OMG it was fun trying!

You don't quit playing when you get old.  You get old when you quit playing.

Of course every year they come up with a new deep-fried delight.  Would you believe deep-fried Doctor Pepper?

You can't beat the classics, though, and since I've been eating wisely lately, and getting lots of exercise, I feasted on funnel cake!  Fried dough with cherry pie topping - oh, yes!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Another quilt

MJ's mommy visits for four weeks every summer.  I loves her so much!  We get together and make a quilt every year.  Here's the latest one.  It's quick and dirty strip-piecing, and lots of fun.  I'm taking it over to Medical Teams International today.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

walking to the yarn store

I'm trying to get more exercise.  DH bought me a Fitbit tracker to help me and after I drowned the first one (they suggest wearing it in the center of your bra. I perspire freely, and it's been really hot lately.) and ATT replaced it. (I wear it on my waistband now.  It's less of a collection point.) I decided today to walk down to the local yarn store.  On the way, I paused at the duck pond next to the library. and took photos.

I was looking for yellow yarn to knit mitties.  I found yellow yarn, pink yarn and a lovely pink and yellow mix.  I'm planning a double-knit argyle scarf to enter in the county fair next year.  Wish me luck.

On the way back, I made a pedestrian transit of a street that has been closed for re-paving, and walked right up the center of it.  It was great fun.  It was especially fun because all the heavy equipment operators were adorable stud muffins.  I mean, there was a baker's dozen of stud muffins.  I asked one lad if it was ok for me to walk in the middle of the street and he said, with blue eyes twinkling, "Hell yes.  I'd do it!  Just be careful around the equipment."

 "You mean I shouldn't play chicken with the steamroller?"

"We'd really rather you didn't.  They're so hard to clean." We both laughed and I strolled straight up the middle of the street like I owned it!

 So far today I have gotten in 3.25 miles , or 7289 steps, and the equivalent of twelve flights of stairs.  Yay me!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

crazy quiltage

My dear friend LG and I have issued one another a challenge de sewing machine.  She has a friend who used to make costumes, and same friend gave her a box of fabric scraps.  We went through it. taking turns selecting bits, and cutting them in half.  She took one pile of halves, I took the other pile, and we are going to be making crazy quilts and comparing the results.  It's so fun to see how someone else  uses the same materials. So here we are with mostly reds.  It's a cat mat or a wall-hanging or a table covering or something.  I used embroidery floss and beads to embellish.  Sorry the focus is fuzzy.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Fun in the heat

LG and I wanted to go for walk outside but weare enjoying our annual heat wave and neither of us love to sweat, so we met at Crystal Springs at 7:30 AM.  birds all over!  we saw a kingfisher! Lots of ducks and geese, even a great blue heron preening himself on a log.  He was so close I could have hit him with a spitball. Amidst the shadows, in the cool of the morning, it was divinely serene.  We walked between sleeping ducks that didn't turn a feather at our presence.  I was sorely tempted to snatch one up, just because I could,but even my inner three year old knew that it would be wrong to upset the peace of the morning.  We strolled the damp gravel paths between the rhododendrons, listening to the happy little birds, and watching the fat squirrels.  One gymnastic female ran through the leaves right over our heads, vaulting from twig to twig in fine olympic fashion.  We gave her an 9 for degree of difficulty, but only an 8  for execution, since she didn't stick her landing.  Then we went to a nearby independently run coffee shop and split a bagel with hummus and laughed raucously as a pair of young crows for almost an hour.  Lordy, I LOVE being retired.

When I got home, I started on a challenge we have set one another.  LG had some fabric scraps from a friend who used to make costumes.   We pulled a selection of fabrics, then cut each one in half.  We are going to make crazy quilts and compare them.  I started,fell into the zone and hours later came back to Mundania with a tea cozy and a wall-hanging/catmat/small flat thing.  Pictures tomorrow.  I have been wanting to embroider lately, and these are no where near sufficiently embellished. Beads, buttons, lace!  Bits of ribbons! Broken earrings?  Maybe.  And I haven't used up al the scraps yet.

Also,I am listening to a series of books that DH picked up and they are totally a shameful indulgence.  Monster Killers International is the first book in the series.  It starts with the protagonist, an accountant, working late one night and discovering that his boss is a werewolf. In self-defense, our hero kills the creature. The government debriefs him, telling him that no one can know there are really real monsters out there.  He is a mass of scars, and has no job and can't tell anyone why.  Then MHI (Monster Hunters International) recruits him, and things get weird.  Zombies, demons, vampires, the Old Ones, Evil from beyond our world, horrible humor (a federal agent, fighting off werewolves, says, "Sit, werewolf! and shoots its head off with silver bullets, then smiles and says, "Good werewolf.") Plus love and bonding under stress- it's like every action-packed creature feature you ever saw, all mashed together. No literary merit whatsoever and as addicting as a giant bag of kettle corn. It's like a comic book for my ears and I am having a BALL!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

County Fair

Yesterday I took my 2 dozen cookies in a decorated box and entered them in the "Contain Your Cookies" contest at the county fair.  Since it's a people's choice contest, I won't know how I did till next Monday.  No worries.  It was fun to enter. The theme was "Fair sights, Midway lights and rodeo nights."  Someone built a two-foot tall ferris wheel with a kid's construction set, with cookies on every seat.  The base of the wheel was set between Leggo construction barns and corrals with horses, piggies, sheep, and a couple of cowboys.  The cookies were works of art, too.  The competition was extreme.

In the knitting department, though, the contest was much easier.  I got a red ribbon for my goldfish hat (second place), a white ribbon for my sweater entry(third place), and a yellow ribbon (5th place) for a scarf.  Blue ribbon in scarves went to a cobweb weight lace confection that probably took three months to produce.  It was awesome!  I think I'll start a competition basket to stash finished projects that turn out nicely.

Yesterday was Kid's Day.  Kids got in  free.  I almost didn't make the deadline for submitting my cookies because I had to wait at the entrance to the parking lot while the Learning Tree day care decanted about 30 kids who had to be corralled and walked safely across the street, followed immediately by the YMCA Summer Day Camp with about fifty kids.  Small crazy people in red t-shirts and yellow t-shirts swarmed all over the place.  Swear to DOG, I will never be a day care worker! The whole fair was hip-deep in kids, and the poor farm critters were all cowering in the far corners of their pens. There's a limit to how much sticky-fingered poking even a hog is willing to endure.

I wandered around and enjoyed all the sights and took no photos because the best shots were too fleeting.  The 4H Goat peeing nonchalantly on the judge's shoe.  The tall, handsome young cowboy(maybe 16) in snug, beat up jeans and a tank top, straw hat set square on his head, carrying a bunny cage for a much younger boy, smiling down at the excited little guy who was telling him all about the judging.  The Rodeo princesses in their crowns and sashes, shorts, t-shirts and flip-flops, sharing a sundae in the shade of the Dairy Wives booth.  It was a warm day.  Those dairy wives were selling cool treats as fast as they could scoop them out and take the money.

And then there were the baby pygmy goats, about the size of chihuahuas and so cute and frisky that you could hardly stand it! They were playing king of the hay-bale and the crowd around them was so thick that I had to stand on tiptoe to get a glimpse.  It's not often that you get a clot of people in the goat barn going, "Awwww!"  I'm surprised some hollywood starlet doesn't keep a baby pygmy goat as a pet.  Totes adorbs!

I stopped at the Pioneer Village, bought my annual supply of Laurelstone soap, (handmade, and the only soap I have used on my face for 20 years.) And my annual indulgence of kettle corn.  I strolled through the art displays. (Our county has a gifted young welder doing astoundingly beautiful sculpture)
and through the kitchen cupboard competition.  People go to an astounding amount of trouble to make their entries pretty.  Pickled asparagus spears all exactly the same size lined up inside the jar alternating stem up, top up, perfectly green and beautiful.  Pickled beets sliced into identically sized coins and layered into the jar in pretty spirals.  Green beans - how many green beans do you have to go through to get a jar full of beans that are all exactly the same size?  I ain't entering any canning or pickling contests.  I don't have the eye for persnickety detail.

Sunday, August 12, 2012


I I made it to the top!  Didn't realize I was standing with a marquee behind me so it looks like I'm wearing an asian hat.  It's my usual grass sunhat with a couple of pink leis bedecking the crown.
They were a whole troupe of drummers, just whaling away on these big drums, and the very air shook as they danced and played.  It's a coed troupe, and everyone has muscles and smiles.  It was so inspiring and energizing!  We could hear them from the second bridge as well.The walkers were a rather friendly group.  There were two guys walking alongside us who were very good natured.  They were taking a lot of photos of one another and after a while I teasingly started to edge into the shots.  They thought it was funny.  By the time we got to the top of the bridge, one beckoned me over for another photo op, so I bent over and kissed his cheek. He laughed and said, "I'm going to send this to my mom.  She'll be so pleased to see me with a girl."
The route back took us through a rather up-class urban neighborhood.  An older couple were sitting on their front patio, she enjoying a cup of coffee, he, watering the flowers.  I greeted them with a cheery good morning and complimented their potted plants. The guy sort of glared at me, as if I were a panhandler. DH laughed when we got out of range and said, "He looked like he was going to spray you with the hose."  Heck, I was hot and sweaty.  I had nearly asked him to do just that.  
About 5 blocks before the end, I hit the wall.  My yogurt was burned off and I had to do the very last of the 6 mile stroll on will power.  But the "One More Time Around Marching Band and Drill Corps" was there to greet us, blaring out "Louie, Louie" while the 50 year old baton twirlers performed and a trio of gray-haired angels with yellow pompoms  cheered for us.  That was SO reviving!  
As we crossed the finish line, there were young people handing out ice cream bars, energy bars, and bottles of vitamin water.  And then I saw it - three tables full of boxes of day-old doughnuts.  I considered grabbing one in each hand and racing back through the crowd screaming,"Donuts!  OhMyGod,they have do-nuts!"  But then I realized that could probably cause a stampede, and I still didn't have enough oomph to run, so I restrained my enthusiasm.  By the time we got there, only one apple fritter remained.  A guy and I reached for it simultaneously, then both snatched our hand back at the same time, saying,"Oh, you take it." I laughed and said, "It looks like more than I can eat.  I'll split it with you."  He grinned and grabbed one side, I grabbed the other, and we tore it down the middle.  
DH and I drove to Kornblatts Deli and celebrated our success with our favorite.  He had a pastrami reuben,and I had a bowl of matzoh ball soup.  It was HEAVEN!  Now we are home, playing on our computers,and basking int he feeling of a walk well done.  Now if I could just figure out how to make this screwy underlining stop . . .  

Saturday, August 11, 2012


Monday, August 06, 2012

Knit on

I have been a busy little knitter the past few days, what with one thing and another.  I succumbed to the lure of that peculiar web-like yarn that makes those fast, fast ruffly scarves.  


It's fast, but fiddly and more expensive than fun.

Other than that, I've been working out of the odds-and-bobs bin.  It does help if you stick mostly to a single color palate. I like blues, greens, purples and pinks, so most of my leftovers play nicely with one another.  

I feel as if I had a vastly successful day today.  We have a three ring binder full of recipes pulled off the internet, recipes clipped out of the paper, hand-written notes for how to throw something together, and a few 3X5 cards, all shoved in together with no rhyme or reason.  I got it organized!  I typed up and printed off the newspaper recipes. I got everything slid into plastic sleeves andI even put in dividers to keep things in categories.  Appetizers, Breads, Cakes, Cookies, Main dishes, Soup, and Misc.  Lest this give you the wrong idea about how we eat, DH is a kitchen wizard who works without a book or a net and regularly turns out delicious meals.  I'm the one in constant search for the perfect cookie, the divine cake, the ultimate tea sandwich.  He cooks the meals.  I provide the flourishes.

So what do you think - knitting on Saturday:  Chocolate cake with cherry pie filling?  I have a cake tin that makes 6 little cakelets with a shallow depression in the top of each just fit for something  lovely to be spooned in.  And the bacon cookies went over well.  Maybe another batch of those.  Then peanut butter cookies to finish it off.  Yes, a good, solid spread.  Bake-on!

Friday, August 03, 2012


Yesterday, LG and I took another walk through another "green belt," in the midst of the city.Just a mile from my house in fact.  It's just amazing to me what a variety of birds and critters we have living right here with us.  We saw goldfinches amidst the thistles.  We saw stellar jays in the oaks and maples.  We saw a green heron down by the creek and watched him catch and eat a frog.  It was a tiny bit of awesome! We strolled about a mile through the woods, came out into a quiet neighborhood,wandered about half a mile to a coffeeshop, had a cup of tea, and retraced our path.  I just love these bird walks!

Today, I met with a new friend for a knitting lesson.  She wants to learn entrelac. We had a grand time sitting in a Starbucks for a few hours, talking about everything in the world, sipping the beverage of choice, and working on our knitting.  She was well started and good to go at the end of it, and I had done one of those ruffly boa scarves with the knitted ribbon yarn, start to finish.

And then I took some knitting on to enter in the county fair.  One of the goldfish hats, a triangle scarf with beads, and the purple garter-stitch sweater I just finished.

And THEN  I bought some pink bamboo yarn.  A friend of mine is going to be a grandpa for the second time.  His son and daughter-in-law are expecting a baby woman.  I e-mailed him and asked how much he would pay for a pair of eensy, teensy, hand-knit pink ruffly baby booties. ( I use them to bait the grandpa traps.) He e-mailed his answer, saying, "Devil woman!  Name your price!"

DH and I share the same e-mail address.  So he came  home from work, went on line, saw that our friend has sent us a message, and opened it.   "Devil woman! name your price."

DH turned to me and said, "Did you see the message from Ed?"

"No.  Does he want the baby booties?"

"Ah," said my darling husband, "Baby booties. Yes, I think he does."