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, March 31, 2013

Tulip festival!

DH and I went to the Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm Festival on Saturday.  If you see pictures of gorgeous fields of tulips with Mt. Hood in the background, like this, they are not from Holland.  The windmill is a fake.  We reveled in the color and beauty.  And it was an amazingly warm spring day, so you can believe we reveled in that as well.  It was just freaking gorgeous all around us!!
Most of the field is sewn with single variety tulips, but one section is full of mixed bulbs.  It's such a joyful explosion of colors!  In fact, they have even marked off a couple of rows for people to pick their own tulips - 50 cents per stem.  I didn't get any.

Meanwhile, they have a craft fair running and someone was making kettle corn.  Imagine feasting your eyes on all this bounty while your nose is full of the scent of fresh-popped kettle corn (it's popcorn made in a giant open kettle with no oil, but several cups of sugar added at the start.  A sweating person equipped with a long wooden paddle stirs the mix over a high flame.  The sugar begins to caramelize and makes the corn pop.  The popcorn is dry, sweet, and addictive.  I paid wayyy too much for a small bag of it and ate it all within hours.  I have heard of this thing called self-control, but never have had any personal experience with it.
One year we came here and an East Indian family was here with many beautiful young women in saris.  They were posing the ladies in swathes of flowers that complemented their clothing.  The photographer was carrying a folding ladder, and would set it up so he could climb up high, shoot down, and show the ladies in a sea of pink or purple or scarlet or whichever color they had chosen.  I thought it was inspired photography!
Those beautiful graceful saris floating out in the breezes and those lovely dark-eyed girls laughing up at him.

So before next September rolls around, I will go on line and order up a bunch of bulbs from these folks.  They sell daffodil bulbs as well. and next spring, my front yard will be a sea of color as well.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

For my friends in the snow

It's coming.  Spring really is on its way.  You will have blue skies and green grass and trees in bloom.  The air will be full of the sweet smell of growth.  If you stand quite still, and listen hard, you will be able to hear the buds popping open.  And in the meantime, you have hard freezes which have killed the slugs and bugs, so your summer will be a lot less pesty than ours.

Now that DH is retired, and the weather is SO lovely, we are getting lots of walks.  We took a little stroll through the suburb of Gladstone along the Clackamas River.  

I do love the place where I live.  There is a small-town neighborhood right across the street from this view.  Well, the best part of the view takes me home with him and I get to enjoy him all to myself, but the trees and river and stuff are all part of the suburb.

The cottonwoods smell so good as they are leafing out.  I suck in great lungfulls of fragrance as we walk.  Sometimes I make myself dizzy.
Usually the flowering plum is seen through a mist of soft rain, against a cloudy gray sky.  But this year we have had the 3rd driest march on record, and blue skies with fluffy clouds has been a lot more common.  I worry about the water reserves, but I also revel in the exceptional warmth and sunshine!  This is March for crying in the sink.
And so, as my birthdate commands, I March fourth.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

What have I been up to?

Well, about a year ago I made this mitered square tea cozy out of some handspun yarn I had. And it was nice, but not really thick enough.  So I took some more of my handspun and knitted a lining.  I tied the two layers together but didn't trim the knots close enough yet, so the brown side looks unfinished.  But that is one majorly warm and thick tea cozy!  It keeps my farmhouse pot warm for hours and hours!

On Saturday, DH and I took a volkswalk around an interesting part of town we're not familiar with.  It's called Swan Island (for those of you who know Portland.) It's home to docks and shipyards, warehouses, a Daimler Truck plant, and about thirty years ago, a group of remarkably stupid developers from California built a beautiful outdoor shopping mall.  The wind whips between the buildings, pelting you with rain and airborne trash, and They have simply been unable to keep ANY shops open.  But - (this is a big but) they also built a lovely path alongside the river, and that 1 kilometer peek over the river at work, with ships and geese and fishermen in kayaks, dogs running with their frisbees on the beach, and one male hummingbird perched on top of a bare bush, surveying his domain, was so magic that it made the 4 K of warehouses worthwhile.

Then we drove across the river and had lunch at Kornblatts Deli.  I was driving and not paying as much attention as I should, so when I found a parking space, I grabbed it.  It was about ten blocks away from our destination.  Oh well - what's a few more steps?  Then, after lunch, we went to Powell's Bookstore.  Again, I parked - well - about ten blocks away.  We wound up walking over 15 thousand steps on Saturday.

Then Sunday, we drove out the lovely Yamhill Valley to the small town of Amity for the Daffodil Festival!
Spring is creeping in.  Grass is greening.  Trees are budding.  Birds are yelling their little hearts out.  And daffodils are starting to do their thing.    I was sort of expecting to see fields and fields of yellow blossoms, but the valley is so good for wine that the farmers are going for the more financially appealing option, and we saw fields and fields, and fields of grapes!  And in the spring, grapes are pretty underwhelming.

At daffodil hill,though, they still had the blossoms in bloom.  This house has the most astounding views.  You can see about twenty miles in every direction and the house is just bathed in light.

This house was the end point for the five Kilometer walk.  Then a school bus would pick people up and take them back to the school.  If you wanted, you could turn around and walk five kilometers back.  Or, you could gird your loins and walk five more kilometers out into the country to the Birgintine Monastary where they make and sell the most amazing fudge.  It was a glorious walk, but it totally took the starch out of me, and the girding just about dropped off my loins altogether.  I was so glad to see the school bus that also came out there to pick us up.  DH bought orange fudge.  I bought cherry fudge.  I've been too tired to open the box.  My feet and knees are sore, but it was worth it!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Neither fish nor fowl

We are sort of floating between.  Today is DH's last day of work, but there will be at least a week until he's fully retired.  He has had "Short-timer's" syndrome, and been thinking about things to do when he's off the leash.  But we're not there yet.  We will be taking that big cruise in 3 weeks and I'm mostly packed already, but then what will we do in the meantime?

I have my routines and things to do during the week.  How are we going to synch that with the things he wants to do?  And how about the things < I > want him to do?  There's a garage that hasn't been cleaned for more than 18 years.  God KNOWS what has accreted in the corners.  And it's got to be a joint undertaking.  His tools, my papers, his toys, my stash, our photo albums, our bicycles, . . .

Oh, and how about the things < HE > wants < ME > to do?  I should get more timely with the laundry? The dishes?  The litter boxes?  Unfortunately, we both have the sense that there's all the time in the world.  We can do it later.  So it never gets done.  Well, we are cheerful, appreciative and adaptable people, so this will get worked out.  Before I know it, we'll be ticking along like clockwork.  Maybe we could even take a photography class together.  Neither one of us has a gift for gardening, and he's king of the kitchen so we won't be cooking together.  But photography could be a great shared hobby and will fit in wonderfully with out traveling urges.

And we will be doing a lot more walking.  Yay for us!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

And a couple of pictues

 The walk we took on Saturday was a "Teddy bear trot" for the purpose of helping the county sheriff's department collect soft toys to give to children who are collateral damage during arrests, car accidents, domestic disputes, and other police business.  It helps to have a friendly bear to hold onto when everything around you is scary.  The officers always have a few stuffies in the trunk, along with the body armor and the shotgun.  By the time we finished our walk, there were twice as many brave, calm, forgiving soft toys.  I think this is such a human thing to do, and helps the officers make positive contact with the little ones.  Must have been a parent who came up with this idea.

 Our local butcher shop has a variety of salts for sale.  Himalayan pink salt, Hawaiian black salt, Dead-sea salt, rosemary flavored salt, habanero salt, pig salt.  Bacon-flavored pig salt.  I just had to get a photo.  What next?
On Monday, DH was using up a vacation day that they weren't going to reimburse him for, so we took a little five mile round-trip walk down to Bob's Red Mill where I picked up a couple of pounds of oat groats (my breakfast of choice though not widely available.)  On the way down, we passed one of those cement walls put up as a sound barrier between busy streets and quiet neighborhoods.  DH noticed the shelf fungus on the tree trunk, and I just had to get a picture.  I didn't notice the eye-like knot above the fungus till I looked at the picture later.

I carried the groats half of the way back, then DH took pity on me and carried them all the weary, long, uphill slog to the house.  He's so good to me!  We are planning lots more walks now that he is retiring.  Want to come with us?

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Oz, the Great and Powerful

Last week, DH and I joined MJ and RW for dinner and a movie.  At Cinetopia, they have a theater with big, cushy seats and footstools, and you can order pub grub, wine, and beer, and enjoy it with the film.  Like a living room with Dolby surround sound.  We saw Oz, the Great and Powerful, and it was enchanting.  I was ten minutes into the first part in Kansas where they were establishing charactersand basic back-story, before I realized it was filmed in blackened white, just like the original Wizard of Oz with Judy Garland.  And when Oscar (Oz) arrived in Oz, the colors were so vivid, lush, brilliant that you could almost taste them.  I thoroughly enjoyed the movie itself, and admired the way it functioned as a prequel to the original.  The Caesar salad, white wine, and buttered popcorn was great, too.  And the big cushy seats - ahhhh!  Yes, it was more expensive than going to a regular theater, but it was so totally worth it!

Yesterday, DH and I took another Volkswalk.  We did 5 km in Tigard for those of you who know the Portland area.  Much of the walk was along a wetland, and it was just enchanting.  Geese were coming and going on the creek, bushes were beginning to leaf out, forsythia and current bushes were in bloom, and birds were in a frenzy of courtship serenades.  The smells, the colors, the sounds, the feel of the cool moist air on my exercised flushed cheeks, oh my gosh it was exhilarating!  And some wit had printed up old limericks, put them in plastic sleeves, and taped them up with the signs indicating where we should turn.  "There was a young lady from Kent, whose nose was most terribly bent.  One day, we suppose, she followed her nose, because nobody knows where she went."

Happy St. Pat's day!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Spring things

My Blog Buddy, Benita, is going to a shearing this weekend to collect some fleeces for her "Fiber Binders" spinning program.  I love watching a shearing and even wrote a poem about it.  She suggested I post it, so here ya go!

Ewes huddle together in their pen, rolling their eyes in fear.
A razor-edged wind slides into the barn.  Fast Eddie has come to shear.
He sets up clippers, motor, and arm, a dangerous-looking appliance.
The young ram nervously paces his cell, occasionally bleating defiance.
The shearing floor's swept, the clippers run smooth, Eddie nods at the owner and wife.
They drag young Rambo out of his pen for the very first shave of his life.
He struggles and fights till he's dumped on his rump and held up like a dog begging treats, 
but he holds dead still while his belly is shaved.  Eddie works fast and neat.
With a flip and a twist from Eddie's strong arms, the ram is pinned under one knee
while the clippers buzz close to the quivering skin and the beautiful wool falls free
still warm from the sheep and lanolin-rich, with a muddy, greasy smell.
The sheep will give you the dirt off his back, plus sticks and ticks as well.
He's deftly turned, and the fleece peels off like a blanket being unrolled.
A trim round the ears, and the ram is set free, too angry to notice the cold.
Then one by one, in their timid turn, the gentle ewes are shorn.
Made small and naked, they trot outside to huddle beside the barn.
Their lamb-full bellies rock like boats.  Their mild eyes are calm.
They know that God always tempers the wind to favor the shaven lamb.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

belated tea party report.

As ever, Knitting was grand fun!  Here's the cake: gingerbread with lemon curd and yogurt.  Next time, I'll make two cakes, so people can have bigger slices.

Top layer, brownie bites with buttercream frosting and  red-hots (I love cinnamon and chocolate)
Second layer, rosemary orange shortbread, and fish-shaped cookies with bacon-flavored frosting. The bacon fish were VERY well received!

I wove this wall-hanging several years ago.  I made a nice piscean table-runner.  I'm trying signs of the zodiac for themes this year.

A place setting with a goodwill plate, an estate sale cup and saucer, and a birthday present napkin.  I do love an eclectic table.
Another place setting.  The pressed glass teacups seemed so aqueous.
Cake pops.  bake cake.  Cool.  Crumble it between your hands.  Mix in frosting, shape into balls, stick in a lollypop stick and freeze.  Buy some candy melts, melt them, and cover the frozen cake and frosting balls.  Serve.  I took the leftovers across the street where the neighbors were working in their yard.  I explained that I was trying to get the calories out of the house and asked if anyone would be interested.  The middle-aged man I spoke to smiled broadly and said, "Oh, yes.  BOYS?"  Five pre-teen lads appeared from the backyard and poof - the cake pops war gone!  The middle-aged man and the boys don't live there, they were just there to help with the work.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013


Life has been moving very fast lately.  DH has not been happy at work, and the back-breaking straw was dropped last week.  He will be retiring on March 21st.  To celebrate his freedom, he has booked us for a trans-pacific cruise, from Sydney to Seattle.  We will leave on the 9th of April!

I fully endorse his actions.  My internal committee has a dour, tightfisted character that is screaming, "No!  This is reckless.  This is madness.  He needs to put up with the employee abuse till he's 65 and can retire with full benefits."  Then everyone else in the committee knocks the tight fist down and sits on him till he shuts up.  Because DH does NOT have to put up with ingratitude and abuse! (You know how it is.  A company-wide emergency comes up and you manage, just barely to walk on water, and the next thing you know, they want you to trot across the lake and fetch another 6 pack.) We'll manage retirement just fine, thank you!  We are adaptable and inventive and we can cope.

The cruise is a terrific deal.  Ever since the Carnival  disaster, all the cruise lines are hurting for bookings.  People are canceling in droves.  So we can get 23 days of cruise-ship comfort, and an awesome adventure, for about $90 each a day.  That includes food, room service, a plush room, entertainment, and stops in places like Fiji, Samoa, Nawiliwili, and Hawaii.  Life is uncertain.  Use the good china!  Wear that silk nighty.  Eat dessert first.

I wish we could spend more time in Australia.  We will arrive in Sydney on the morning of the 11th (losing a day when we cross the International Date Line) and the ship departs on the 13th.  DH doesn't like to leave things unfinished, so we will not leave till all the retirement paperwork has been processed.

I am spending a lot of time turning in circles, not knowing what to start first.  Pack? Plan the travel knitting? Sew? Write? What comes first?  I think I'll grab a little snack while I figure that out.  And then, I'll play a little solitaire while I eat my snack.  And then, where in hell has the day gone?

Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could somehow sculpt our backsides overnight to fit the airline seats?  I'm going to be packing myself into Quantas Coach for 14 hours.

Add to the to do list: Go to the doctor and get sleeping pills. Carry on wool shawl and ear-plugs.  Wear silk pants and shirt.  Carry on a change of underwear.  Make that two changes, just in case.  Carry trail mix just in case.  Carry bandaids, aspirin and antacids, just in case.  Make sure to pack a second suitcase inside the primary suitcase so you have something to carry the souvenirs in.  Make pompom for back-up suitcase to make it easy to find on the luggage belt. (I tie yarn pompoms to our suitcases.  It distinguishes our black roller bag from all the other black roller bags.)  Tell the credit card companies we will be in Australia.  Pack knitting.  Pack back-up knitting. Load a bunch of books on the cell phone and make sure the charger is in the carryon so I can listen to books.  Carry on the lap-top so I can write. (there will be many days at sea.)  Make sure we have enough prescription medications.

First thing to do.  Make a list.

Thursday, March 07, 2013


For my birthday, three of my nieces assembled from Tacoma to Redmond, brought two charming great nieces (14 and 16 years old) and took me out for dinner, a play, a slumber party in a luxury hotel, and high tea the next afternoon.  When we arrived at the restaurant (the Ringside Fish House) for dinner, all in our little black dresses (mine is navy)  we were treated like royalty!  The maitre'd asked the occasion and I, being the shy little thing that I am, sang out loud and clear, "My nieces are taking me out for my birthday!"  After dinner, I was presented with a chocolate bombe. Soo much fun.  My 14 year old niece tried raw oysters and liked them.  She was sitting there quietly and I asked her what she was thinking.  She said, "I'm trying to find the right word for all this.  I think it's 'exquisite.'"

The 16 year old niece should be registered as a lethal weapon of mass distraction.  Her little black dress was short, with spaghetti straps, and no jacket.  After the play, as we prepared to walk the block back to our hotel, I suggested that she wear my coat so we wouldn't attract any unwanted attention.  All the people standing  in the crowd around us, waiting for the elevator, nodded or smiled. Her auntie, who works in the police department in Tacoma, calmly said, "Oh, it's OK.  I have a gun."  People literally backed away from us and we rode the elevator down in splendid solitude.  And we did not get any unwanted attention.

 Here we are, dressed for tea the next day.  Aren't we a bevy of beauties?  Tea at the Heathman is a splendid occasion, and we savored it to the max!  As you see, everyone has hats.  Miss 16 was wearing a one-shoulder mini dress with bare legs, and was just too cold(no meat on her bones!), so another auntie loaned her a red sweater.  And she pulled off her darling little hat because it hid too much of her pretty face.

Sweater-loaning auntie, and niece with darling little hat.

The next day, my actual birthday, DH took the day off.  We met MJ for breakfast at Dean's and we all had french toast.  (I have declared my birthday to be the Feast of French Toast.)  Then DH and I went grocery shopping.  Did you know that if you tell them it's your birthday at Trader Joe's, they will give you a bouquet of flowers?  Squeeee!  DH also took me out for sushi for lunch, then fixed my favorite dinner - chicken in tomato sauce for dinner.

The next day, LG took me out for lunch, and I had french toast again - with white chocolate creme anglaise instead of syrup.  (Tongue flutters in ecstasy)  I proclaimed that it was my birthday, and they presented me with a darling meringue frog.  I ate it all and almost licked the plate.

THEN, LG told me to name my favorite yarn store, and she was going to buy me the skein of my choice.  We went to Angelika's and I got Lorna's Laces in Desert Flower - pink and rose and turquoise.  :-)

As we fondled our wary around the store, I would come to a new selection of yarns and involuntarily gasp and coo over them.  Oh, the pretty colors!  Oh, the luxurious textures!  Oh, the wide and varied potentialities.  I wound up buying several various skeins to keep my birthday yarn company.

I have been getting the most awesome, thoughtful gifts!  Miss 16 gave me a pink teacup.  Miss 14 gave me elegant napkins with beaded edges and fancy napkin rings.  Sweater aunty gave me a darling felted purse in purple!  Gun aunty gave me a bounty of teas from Teavana and a huge jar of German rock sugar.  Her little boy (who did not join us) gave me a perfect orange Fire King glass cup and saucer.  The niece who arranged it all gave me a coffee table book of color photographs her husband had taken on their honeymoon in Ireland.  MJ gave me a plethora of goodies, including a dainty sandalwood fan that transports me to exotic climes.  DH gave me a brag-able watch that is waterproof to 300 feet, so I never have to take it off, thus I will never lose it, thus, I never need to buy another watch again!

JM, in Oz, sent me a beautiful necklace with a pendant of stitch markers decorated with deep pink pearls.  It's sooo stunning!  It really looks like jewelry.  And she called me long distance from Sydney to wish me a happy birthday.

People are so good to me, it just blows my socks off.  34 birthday wishes on Facebook!  Well, I did proclaim on Facebook that in honor of my birthday, all schools, banks and government offices should be closed, there should be fireworks and parades, dancing in the streets, and necking in the parlors, so I guess EVERYONE got to celebrate along with me.

It's good to be 63!

Saturday, March 02, 2013

Caribbean friends

On the cruise, when we got to Grand Cayman, a bunch of us chartered a small yacht and motored out to Stingray City.  Here you see our raffish band assembled at the prow.  I am the silver head right behind the guy in the blue t-shirt front and center.  It was a raucous crew, and the brew flowed freely.  
When we got to the sandbanks that are Stingray City, we all got out, and with greater or lesser anxiety, we confronted the friendly stingrays.  Lisa put chunks of squid down the front of her swimsuit to bait the shy creatures into her embrace.  When they suck the squid out, it tickles!

Since I burn so fast, I was wearing a long-sleeved shirt with a high neck.  this prevented the squid in the bra trick, so I had to rely on my personal charm.  The guy at the right side of the picture is the marine biologist who was our guide.  He knows all the stingrays by their first names and they love him.  So he coaxed "Sprinkles" up to dance with him, then let me cut in for a few steps. "Sprinkles" left me and swarm right back to him.  Guess I'm not her type.

After playing with the stingrays, we went and snorkeled over a coral reef that was chock full of fishes and even a couple of eels.  This golden tail eel was quite shy, but the marine biologist tempted him out with some more squiddy bits.  It was enchanting!  I could have stayed out there till sunset, just watching the fish.  But we still had to go to the picturesque Starfish Cove.

So here are the belles of the beach, Lisa and her relations.  I think the gal at the left is Lisa's husband's sister.  Then cousin Cheri, Lisa, Auntie Roxie, Cousin Brenda, And cousin Linda.  Cheri, Brenda and Linda left their husbands at home and did a girls' cruise.  They had fun every minute!