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, December 26, 2013

ya never know

Christmas day Kyle and I spent with our friends MaryJean and Rick, and their sons Taylor and Tim.  Taylor is a chef of considerable skill, and fixed us a smoked prime rib that was divine, then made a pie crust that angels would have gotten into fist fights over- it was so tender and delicious.

Tim is going to college to be an engineer, and is involved in a project for Engineers Without Borders.  He and his cohort will be building a water purification system for a village in Thailand.  They need to raise money for it, so MaryJean and I have devised the Warmth and Water Project.  MJ and I get together once a week to make scrappy quilts for the orphanages supported by Medical Team International.  If anyone would like to contribute$100 to the water project, we will donate a quilt in their name.  So $100 will help fund clean water for a village in Thailand (while giving young engineers real hands-on experience in the real world) AND will also keep warm an orphan in Romania, or Mexico City or an AIDS orphan in Africa.  So you can go to sleep knowing that somewhere a child is sleeping under a bright cozy blanket in your name and somewhere else, a whole village is getting safe, clean water.
Here is Tim with the first quilt ready to send.  If $100 is too rich for your budget, perhaps you can get some friends together and make it a corporate effort.

(Handsome lad, isn't he? and he's taller than I am!)

Kyle made the appetizers for the day.  He created a lamb terrine that was so good, if your grandma took your share, you'd slap her.  MJ made a sweet potato pie filling that was light, almost fluffy, and so lightly spiced that you could actually taste the sweet potato!  Lordy it was good!  Rick contributed several bottles af excellent red wine, and I brought appetite and appreciation.

So today, after all that glorious food and fun, I felt the need to get myself out for a walk.  It was so cold the dogs were sticking to the sidewalks, but the sky was clear and the sun was glorious bright.  As I was striding briskly along I saw a fellow coming out of his garage with a Bernese Mountain dog on a leash.  The dog and I greeted one another effusively, then I chatted a bit with the fellow, remarking what a beautiful coat the dog had.  Nice thick undercoat especially.  I mentioned that I'm a spinner and wouldn't mind trying to work with some of the combings from this lovely dog.  At that point, the wife emerged with the dog's sister, and when told that I was a spinner, she went back in and grabbed a bag of dog wool she has been saving.  So now I get to spin some Bernese Mountain Dog and perhaps even knit mittens for the owners.  What FUN!  Bet it's going to drive the cats nuts, though.  

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Trip to the Art Museum

Kyle really knows how to show a girl a good time.  He took me out to lunch at Kornblats in Northwest Portland, and we parked many blocks away, so we could get in a little walk and enjoy the store windows and the passing people.  Then we went to see the Samurai armor at the Portland Art Museum.     I was blown away!

Pictures?  You gotta see this stuff in real life.  Really, pictures could not possibly do it justice.  The detail is mind boggling!  Much of the armor is formed of iron plates, lacquered to protect it from rusting, and laced together with silk braid.  It was moderately flexible and it breathed, unlike Western plate armor.  But when you consider that the silk braid was plaited by hand, and each suit of armor used hundred of yards of braid, and of course you would need more braid to repair the armor after a battle, or after it had been worn a few years, and the braid starts to fray . . .

Anyhow, this stuff was worn over padded trousers and jackets.  The helmets were double layered iron bowls with wide flaring guards again, shaped to protect neck and shoulders, and again, laced together with a gazillion yards of silk braid. There were mail sleeves worn over leather, and flexible skirts to protect the hips and groin. and thigh guards and shin guards and armored stirrups . . .

And oh, dear goodness, you should have see the horse armor!  Inch-square iron plates, lacquered and sewn mosaic-fashion over leather to protect neck, shoulders and flanks.  Some even had tail armor.  And some of the horses had iron masks shaped like monsters or dragons. This stuff must have weighed hundreds of pounds.  Wearing it all day in a parade would have been exhausting.  Wearing it into battle - well I can well understand why the battles didn't last for days and days.

The color, the embellishment, the ingenuity are astounding.  In the later days of the Samurai era, the heads of the ruling houses began wearing uniquely distinctive helmets and armor for parades and presentations.  Again, multiple pounds of iron, leather and silk, and helmets with huge crests, or antlers, or ears - there was one shaped like a shark fin, and another shaped like a sea shell.  They were works of art and I am overwhelmed by the years of human endeavor that went into shaping them.  Not just the time spent in creating the objects, but the time spent in learning the techniques to shape them.  And the time spent by the makers of silk braid.  And by the creators and appliers of lacquer.  And the leather work - some of the leather pieces were tooled and dyed and worked till they looked like carved and painted wood or heavily embroidered brocade.  It may take a village to raise a child.  It probably took a whole village just to make a suit of armor.

This is all armor worn by the lords and masters.  I wonder what the foot soldiers wore?  Bamboo and leather probably.  Maybe not as strong as iron plates, but a lot more comfortable.

And there were weapons as well, saddles and stirrups, a matchlock rifle decorated with silver cherry blossoms  . . .  Really, you have to go see it for yourself if you possibly can.  The show runs until mid-January before it has to move on.  And if you can't see it, oh, I'm sorry for you.  It's been hours since we got home, and I am still tossing the shiny memories up into the air and laughing as they patter down around me.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Quickie quilt and finished scarf

One of Kyle's co-workers has a four-year-old nephew who loves race cars and bright colors.  So the uncle commissioned a blankie for Christmas.  The back side is micro fleece printed with Hot Wheels.  The front is - loud.  It was fun to make, and there's lots of left-over bits to cobble together for a baby quilt.

Rose had a party for the lady writer's group.  I was just finishing off my carry around project - a moebius scarf.  And there's Esther in the perfect top to go with it.
It's destiny - Obviously this is her scarf.  Spontaneous Christmas gifting!

(One of my secret pride things - I unvented the seamless moebius scarf.)

Last shipment of rum balls went out yesterday.

Weatherwise, things have warmed up around here so we have rain in the night, and frost in the morning.  Thank GOD we don't live in colder climes.  And in Australia, they are having a heat wave.  It's a funny old world we live in.

Many of my blog buddies are posting memories of Christmases past, making me nostalgic.  When I was a kid, my favorite presents were books and kits to make things.  I never figured out how to play with dolls. My best Christmas memory?  Kyle and I have had so many quiet, intimate, warm and happy Christmasses together that I can't really pick just one.

But, do you other old folks remember the lead tinsel we used to put on the trees?  And how fun it was to wad up and throw at your siblings?

Sunday, December 15, 2013

I have this husband . . .

The grocery store we frequent has one of those arcade type machines out front with the claw that you can activate to try to grab a specific stuffed toy. Today I noticed that the machine was filled with Hello Kitty dolls and Smurfs.  Kyle and I began discussing the movie possibilities.  "Hello Kitty meets the Smurfs."  Is it a kid's show promoting tolerance and acceptance?  Or a horror film with a giant Hello Kitty destroying Smurfville?  I suggested a Hello Kitty VS Smurfs celebrity deathmatch on World Wide Wrestling, but Kyle said that Hello Kitty would just cloy the Smurfs to death.  It would be like drowning them in high fructose corn syrup.  But we went on to consider other possible celebrity death-matches.  Flo, the Progressive Insurance representative VS the Geico Gekko.  JK Rowling VS JRR Tolkein.

We proceeded on to the high-end supermarket where we buy our treats (also known as "Whole Foods / Whole Paycheck ) and invested in a sample of Italian Mortadella (priced about the same as pure gold) plus some interesting cheeses and a couple containers of Noosa Australian-style yogurt with passion fruit.  And on the way out, I saw some cookie cutters shaped like little martial artists so you could make ninja-boy cookies instead of gingerbread men.  I'm not a collector of cookie cutters though.  I have friends who make zombie reindeer for Christmas every year, and I applaud them for it.

Although exercising SOME restraint, I still gained weight this week.  Ladies' Tea does that to me.  In future, please remind me - I'm the only one who likes scones. I threw platefuls out to the birds, and STILL ate too many!

Today, it's eggwhites, dill pickles, oranges and apples.  Tomorrow is weigh-in and thinking light thoughts.  Feathers.  Snowflakes.  Steam.  Maybe I'll wear a swimsuit under my sweats, and strip down for weigh-in.  Maybe I'll just accept the setback like a grown-up and carry on.  (Roxie throws herself down on the floor, kicking feet, pounding fists and wailing, "NO!  Don't want to grow up! No! Won't!!")

Saturday, December 14, 2013


The second Saturday  of the month heralds another knitter's tea.
 Black and white china on the embroidered and cutwork holiday cloth  with a green cloth underneath.  And little crimson carnations in the flower vase napkin holders.
I have such fun collecting my mis-matched china. And I'm especially fond of the black and white theme. (Oh heck, I'm especially fond of all of it.)
I had oranges and apples for the health-conscious, white-chocolate and coconut rum things, Rum balls, oatmeal cookies, scones with various jams, and curried chicken salad sandwiches.  The scones did not move very well, but everything else went down nicely.
Tea and coffee, of course, and sparkling raspberry juice in the goblets.

Lisa, MJ, Linda and Moma, making the party roll!

Pat, enjoying one of those coconut rum thingies.

(Pat's daughter, who has recently moved into an apartment, put toilet paper on the top of her Christmas wish list.  I tied a ribbon through a roll and sent it home with Pat for her.  "Tell her I was going to send cookies, but if she wants toilet paper . . .")

 Judy, Maggie, Sue and Mary Lou keeping the happiness level high.

 My dining room seats 12 if we crowd in.  There were 15 of us today, so I set up in the living room as well.  Goodies on the buffet.
Jenny, Tamara and Lynn

Mary Lou (she gets around) Diane and Cynthia.

These parties are such a treat for me!  I love to pause and listen to the music of our chatter and laughter.    What a wonderful, wonderful time we had!  Thank you so much, my dear friends, for making my day so delightful!

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Lo these many years ago

We almost never get brand-new kitties.  Most of our cats have been second-hand.  Years ago we took in a cat from a friend who was a biker, and who said, "If that cat doesn't stop peeing on my stuff I'm going to have to use him for target practice."  Thus we acquired Bosco Benvenutti, the polar cat.  He had been discovered as a kitten in Denali Park in Alaska by the biker's sister.  He subsequently spend several years with her as an indoor-outdoor cat in a rough neighborhood of Washington DC (I think of those as his war years.) She moved to finer digs where she couldn't keep cats, so her brother took the old boy in.  And then he came to us.

I thought of Bosco as an old peasant who knew that we didn't want him peeing on things, but couldn't see any reason to stop.  But, whenever we fed him, he would first rub his face against our feet in gratitude.  And as a lap cat, he was superb, purring like a small diesel engine and gazing at us with adoring eyes, saying in his own cat fashion, "Thank you for not hurting me.  Thank you for feeding me and taking care of me. Thank you for warmth and safety and kindness."

So we lived with his nasty habits, putting clear Contact paper on the walls and furniture, and using quantities of Nature's Miracle pet deodorizer. The first year we had him, he felt impelled to spray the Christmas tree early and often.  Cat urine dissolves the paint off Christmas tree ornaments.  From then on, as long as Bosco lived with us, we put the tree too high for him to pee on.  End of that problem.  He sometimes sat and gazed wistfully up at it, but we were able to arrange it so he couldn't get his tail end high enough unless he stood on his front paws.  And he never tried that.

But we had all those perfectly good, if nasty, ornaments.  So I put on my rubber gloves, got a bucket of hot water with bleach, and scrubbed them clean.  The paint slipped off like the skin off blanched peaches. Then I had a bunch of clear glass ornaments.  Feeling crafty, I sprayed them white with a rattle can, then took black paint and put faces on them.  I now have a host of quirky little faces peering through the branches of my Christmas tree.

Bosco has finally gone to that great lap in the sky, but whenever I decorate for Christmas, I think of him.

Saturday, December 07, 2013

Colder than . . .

It's colder than a dead eskimo.  It's colder than a tin toilet seat on the shady side of a glacier. It's colder than a polar bear's pajamas.  It's sub freezing around here and has not made it up to freezing in days.  I'm SO glad we have a warm dry house!!  And Hawaii seems ever more appealing.

Rum balls have been completed.  15 batches, 7. 5 cups of booze (rum, curaçao, bourbon) Now to find shipping boxes and get the addresses written up.

Today, Kyle and I are going to see "Thor."  We are currently listening to "The Iron Druid" a fantasy novel based on the premise that the gods are real, and the last druid (who runs a bookstore in Tempe Arizona and looks about 21 although he is actually 2100 years old) deals with them, (as well as with vampires and werewolves,) quite casually.  And everyone agrees that, "Thor is a real ass-hat."  It's great fun to play the two views against one another.

The move to Hawaii may well happen this year.  I am thinning down the bookshelves for a start.  Can I live without hardback Dick Francis novels?  I'll keep all my tea-cups, but may have a give-away party with the nieces and great nieces for china sets and table linens. 

Knitting has gone on.  Here's a warm double-knit helmet for my great niece Cera.  She has promised to be surprised when she gets it.  She lives in cold climate and enjoys snowmobile-ing.

(And Cera, if you don't like it, please give it to someone cold.  I promise to love you just as much.  I want to give you things you like,)