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.”

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

I'm still here.

I've got my head down, editing the proofs for my novels.  A generous benefactor gave me the money to publish, and we are in process!

Writing is fun.  Editing isn't fun.  Marketing sucks rocks!

Anyone out there love marketing?

Friday, June 26, 2015


It's supposed to get up to 100 degrees today, so I got out at 7AM for my walk.  Mornings are so GLORIOUS!

 I came to a place where I had to make a choice.  Climb the stairs, or follow the path.  Which would you have done?  

Kyle and I have been joking about the exotic animals in the neighborhood.  Today, I spotted an enormous coppercockasaurus.  At least four feet tall!

Talking about monsters, I finished a pair of slippers for Kat, my niece-in-law.  It's what she asked for.

So I have hung the laundry on the drying rack outside (Why run the dryer when Mother Nature will do it for you?)  and I have blogged.  Now to fix a cup of strong tea and get back to editing proofs.  Whenever someone in our writing group gets something published, she has to being chocolate.  Hershey's Kisses, or mini Dove bars? Which should I bring?

Monday, June 22, 2015

Estate sale

So Kyle and I happened by this estate sale.  And the lady had been a quilter.
I was in so much trouble!  There were fat quarters and half on sale for a dollar each.
I was as restrained as I could be, but the next day we went back and everything left was half off.  Fat quarters for fifty cents?  Two yard cuts for a dollar?  I was lost.  And I don't know what I will do with two yards of black flannel with pink roses, but I had to have it.  I HAD to!

So everything has been washed and folded.  Now, where am I going to store all this fabric?  I'm still hugging myself with glee.  Ooh, pretty!

Meanwhile, Kyle has committed me to make a quilt for his mom.  Who lives in Los Angeles.  And can't make up her mind as to what color she wants.  She mentioned brown and green, then she mentioned red, then blue . . .  not bright yellow.  I'll get started when she decides what she wants.

 Meanwhile, I have started a quilt for Kyle's cousin, a dear guy and a military vet who asked for red, white and blue.  Only 34 more of these squares to go.

It's wonderful how much knitting I can get done if I just carry a little project in my purse. (Yes, my purse weighs 35 pounds. I carry a lot of essentials.)  This is that yarn I spun a few weeks ago.  Baby hats for Med Team International.  So quick-n-ez.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

It's berry season!

The weight loss is so much easier now that the fresh fruits are coming on.  I can eat nothing but raspberries and non-fat yogurt for every meal for two days and be happy.  And the local strawberries?  Bliss on a spoon!  Melons are available year-round in the local store, but we are now getting RIPE cantaloupes! (You can tell which one are ripe by looking at the color of the skin under the net.  The more yellow it is, the sweeter.)  Kyle's grandfather taught him how to steal watermelons when he was just a wee lad, and there's no point in stealing a watermelon unless it's the sweetest, ripest, juiciest one in the field, so Kyle has an almost psychic gift for picking the best watermelon in the store.  There's a lot to be said for those little seedless gems, but I do feel nostalgic for the days when we used to sit around the backyard in our swimsuits, eating wedges of watermelon that went up to our ears, dribbling juice all over, spitting seeds at one another, and finally washing all the glorious stickyness off with the hose.

There were summer days when I would put on a swimsuit first thing in the morning, and wear nothing else all day long.  Heck, in my memory, there were entire months like that.  Summer was longer when I was a kid.  And I didn't have time to be bored.  We stayed in the cabin out in the woods all summer and except for showing up for meals, we pretty much ranged free.  Hours went by when I never spoke.  The whole concept of being fully present in the moment?  Yeah, I had some practice in that.

I am remembering the mud pit - a marshy place out in the meadow that I started working on, treading the grass under the surface of the mud, then running in place while the mud got looser and deeper, and looser and deeper.  Cold squishy mud on a hot dry day, climbing up over my ankles, then up my calves.  And I had to climb out on the grassy verge, which then got worked in to the pit as well.  By August I had a slough the size of a bathtub.  I could flop down into it, spread mud liberally over my face, arms and shoulders, then sit there in the 98 degree sunshine, relishing the cool until  the blackbirds came to pick worms out of the freshly churned bog.

I'm fair-skinned, but I tanned well - thank heaven.  I have had one slight bout with skin cancer.  This disease is drastically on the rise now.  Lordy, but I was lucky.  The sun wouldn't kill you in those days.  You could drink out of the crick.  You could eat fruit without having to scrub off the pesticide.  You could play outside all day long and no one had cause to wonder how or where you were. If you didn't make it home for dinner . . . but  everyone always made it home for dinner.  Anything else was unthinkable.

And then, on Labor day, Dad would drive us up the mountain and we would pick huckleberries all morning.  Mom would make huckleberry pie for dinner, and that was the end of the summer.  Back to school the next day.  Back to shoes and and rules and the necessity to come out of my own head and deal with other people.  I LIKE other people, but sometimes, I still get lost trying to find my way out.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Quilt for Igor

Finished another quilt yesterday.  This one is for Igor.  I am especially pleased with the way this one came out.  Left-overs got used up, and colors worked out better than I could have hoped.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Took myself for a walk

In Weight Watchers, we have been working with the novel idea that it's easier to lose weight when you're happy.  Many of us are convinced we will be happy when we lose the weight, but really, the getting happy part may as well come first.

Walking makes me happy.  There is a protected riparian zone about a mile from the house called the Springwater Corrider. The part I like to walk follows a lovely little wild crick (Johnson Creek) through a gully.  Ma Nature is just bustin' out all over down there.

The Oregon Grape crop is going to be bountiful this year.  Homesteaders used to juice these beauties and make jelly.  Lots of vitamin C.  Just throw in some apple juice for pectin and a lot of sugar to make it set up.  It's good in the winter when there are no fresh greens to be had.

I  don't know what this flower is, but it's going gangbusters in the soggy spots.  So cheery and willing.

And walking this path always makes my heart lift.  It looks secret and magic.  It's an access way through a couple of un-interrupted mile long residential blocks so the kids can get to school.  Most of the home-owners on either side have grown hedges or put up privacy fences, so it's a private to your own adventure.

Another thing that makes me happy is Liz's Creative Cafe in our neighborhood.  She offers Foxfire teas, and art classes, wonderful pastries with and without gluten, and awesome coffee.  And she has art books, paper, and crayons avilable for everyone.  I like Earl Grey, iced, with orange syrup.  I'm walking over there and spending way too much on beverages I could just as well make at home.

Another thing  that makes me happy is the fact that it's berry season.  I can eat a flat of berries in a few days all by myself.  And they're  not at all fattening!

I have been admiring the neighborhood hydrangeas and decided to start collecting photos of them..  I love that you can change the color of the blossom by changing the PH of the soil!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Back across the pass

Saturday we drove over to Central Oregon for a "Celebration of Life for a dear old friend of the family.  He and his son had, in recent years, purchased a sweet piece of property the other side of Lake Billy Chinook, or Lake Simtustus as it is now called in a politically correct manner.  I remember when this was just a river canyon.  The Corp of Engineers put in a dam with a hydro-electric plant, and created a beautiful water reservoir in this stinking desert.

The road to the property is a narrow two lane with no guard rails that clings to the curving sides of the canyon like a seam on a starlet's dress.  Enough hairpin turns to break a snake's back.  Two one-lane bridges.  And at the end of it all - paradise.  A tiny cabin  below the rimrock, with a well and a pond and a corral for the horses.  Everything an old cowboy could possibly wish for.

A small part of Lake Simtustus.  Those tall cliffs to the west cast wonderful cool shadows in the afternoon where the boaters and fishermen like to hang out.

With two and a half hours over and two and a half hours back, I had lots of time to knit.  I finished a pair of short finger gloves all except darning in the ends.  Then I cast on and finished a hat with that Great Pyrenees  dog hair yarn I spun.  the picture doesn't tell you what your hands would.  The hat is so FUZZY!  And it's way warm.  The gloves are a Christmas gift.  Got to get to work on those!

Saturday, June 13, 2015

spin, span, spun

Two days worth of spinning.  Ok, Maybe 8 hours total.  The all white is alpaca singles (thank you for the glorious alpaca, Cheryl!) The color blend is wool roving (thank you, MJ) plied with white alpaca.  The dark gray is Pyrannese Mountain Dog undercoat, two plied.  I was out on a walk one day, and saw this couple with these two gorgeous dogs.  I said hi and asked if I could say hi to the dogs.  They fawned all over me.  I cooed over how gorgeous their fur was and how I'd love a chance to spin some.  The lady lit up, ran into her house, and came out with a bag of fluff she had been saving.  It was SUCH fun to spin - soft as alpaca, with not much crimp and a trace of natural oil that kept it from fluffing all over.  Now I'm going to knit a hat and return it.  It  will keep the wearer warm and dry.  I wouldn't mind spinning more of this stuff.

While spinning, I was listening to a Falco mystery by Lindsay Davis.  Falco, ( Marcus Didius Falco), is a second century Roman informer - something like a private detective.  He works for the Emperor Tiberius, and travels all over the empire to solve tricky cases.  The history is spot on, the details are richly sensual, the characters are engaging and believable.  Falco is a tough, clever, 30 year-old ex-soldier with a large, colorful family, and a soft spot for helpless victims.  You might give the series a try.  I find the books vastly enjoyable.

Next week, I start a blue quilt.

Meanwhile, the place where Kyle used to work has hired him back out of retirement.  He will start full time next week.  He figures, maybe two years, and then he'll give retirement another shot.  I think he's happier with a schedule and a reason to get out of the house.  Furthermore, when you have a skill that you excel at, it feels good to practice it.  I'll miss his company, but I think it's good for him.  The only fly in the ointment is that he'll be working graveyard.  Well, we've managed this schedule before, and now, I won't be off at work during the 8 hours he's not asleep or working.    I might even get back to writing.

You see, the thing about the writing is that it sucks you into an alternate universe, and you have to make a journey through time and space to come out of the zone and say, "What? Tea?  Umm, (the whisps of story line are floating over the event horizon and . . .)sure, I may as well take a break. I'd love a cup of tea with you!"

But, with hours of uninterrupted immersion in the zone, I might even find another tale to tell.  Wish me luck.  First I need to write back-cover blurbs and advertising synopses for the three books going into print.  Hard work because, if I could actually tell the story in 25 words or less, I wouldn't have written a sixty thousand word novel.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Last week I started walking two miles a day

I am completely lost now.

Sorry - old joke.  Try this one - what's orange and sounds like a parrot?  Answer - a carrot.  What  do you call a brown paper bag you find in a french cathedral?  Answer - (Brace yourself ) the lunch sack of Notre Dame!

 Kyle bought me a new t-shirt.   I've been doing a lot more walking ever since we got the FitBits, so I have begun acquiring a collection of t-shirts.  Every time we go to Hawaii, I get a Crazy Shirts Kliban "cats" t-shirt because part of every purchase goes to the Hawaiian Humane Society, and I LOVE the Kliban cats.  But this"O.K.D." is likely to be my favoritest tee because Kyle bought it for me and it's pink and it identifies me.

I have also picked up vintage rock and roll t-shirts at estate sales and Good Will.  I love the modern option of wearing jokes on your chest.  I'm looking for the one with two Sherman tanks on the front and the caption, "Tanks for the mammeries"  Also the one that says, "It's not my fault.  I was raised by wolves."

I got a little spinning done yesterday.  Hope to get more in today.  What are you up to on this fabulous Friday?

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

And then . . .

The day after my tea party, we drove over the pass to Madras to celebrate a high-school graduation.  My late twin brother's oldest daughter's oldest daughter.  Our great-niece.  I forgot my camera, so there are no pictures, so you will just have to imagine a glorious 85 degree day in a black yard full of shady trees, full of kids from infants up to college students, full of parents and grand-parents sitting and chatting, full of celebration.  We prepared for 80 people and the preparations were thorough and comprehensive.  Tables and chairs rented and set up, flowers arranged, cupcakes baked, frosted and served in individual little clear plastic bowls.  The guys worked outside doing furniture.  I was inside with the girls - friends and cousins - doing set-ups for the food.  We wrapped knife, fork and spoon  sets in red and white checked paper napkins, then tied them with twine.  We lined paper sandwich boxes with red and white checked paper.  We filled little clear plastic containers with macaroni salad, popped the lids on, and stashed them in ice chests.  And then we made sandwiches and tried to keep track.  Ten turkey on wheat with cheese, ten without, ten on hoagy rolls with cheese, ten without, ten ham on wheat with, and without, and on hoagy rolls, with and without, ten peanut butter and strawberry jam on white, and ten with raspberry jam.  Each sandwich was neatly wrapped and labeled.  But, since there wires of us working on it, there were a few mistakes.  Kyle picked a sandwich labeled ham and cheese on wheat, and got peanut butter with raspberry jam on white.  Oh well.  There was also two kinds of fruit salad, bags of chips, and a pyramid of cupcakes: chocolate with peanut butter, chocolate s'mores, and lemon.  So hard to resist.

The beverages were cooled in three wading pools stacked up in descending sizes and filled with ice.  Great idea!  We are planning a party in July, and are going to steal some of these inspirations.

And I forgot the candy bar.  Nothing that would melt, but jars and bowls full of colorful candies with paper bags to fill as you pleased.  We had to leave early, but it looked like the party would go well past dark, when the fire pit would be lighted, and s'mores would be toasted and devoured.  Cheryl, you throw an awesome party!!

Kyle went in to work the next day.  Yes, he's retired, but every so often, the place he used to work needs an extra hand. Kyle knows how to run all the machines, and can still produce 170% of the average work, so they call him in when they need help.  The extra income comes in handy.

Last night we had a delightful dinner with new friends and sat laughing and talking until I almost fell asleep.

Today, they needed Kyle at work again.  I have finished every project with immediate deadlines and am wondering what to do today.  It's going to be hot, but the morning air is silky and glorious, so I'll start with a walk, and then I think I'll sit in the back yard and spin.  I get SO zenned out doing that.  If you don't hear from me again, assume I have transcended.

Saturday, June 06, 2015

June tea party

 I set up the tea party in the back yard because we are experiencing unprecedented sunshine and warmth.  Gotta take advantage of it when it strikes.  And we have this glorious big tulip magnolia tree that casts such lovely shade.  Kyle helped me set up the furniture on Tuesday.  On friday, I went into baking frenzy.  I made blueberry coffeecake.  I bought local strawberries and raspberries and planned on serving them in chocolate cookie bowls.  The chocolate cookie bowls failed, so I served chocolate cookie crumbs to sprinkle on the strawberries and raspberries.
 I made Mexican wedding cakes, but got distracted halfway through and left out a cup of flour.  The first two panfuls spread out in glorious crispy, lacey fail.  I added more flour to the rest of the dough, and the second half of the batch was good.  So then I started another batch, but instead of adding vanilla, I added almond extract.  Ratzelfratz!  So I crumbled the two pans full of fail into the dough, added another egg, and by god baked 'em.  They were quite tasty little cookies, though by no means Mexican wedding cakes.
Saturday I got up at five and ran around putting cloths on the tables, cutting flowers, and setting things out.  I love using my pretty buffet plates for these parties.  The theme was "Blue" to go with the blueberries, so I got out a slew of blue napkins, staged the spoons and forks in blue vases, pulled out table cloths with blue embroidery, and covered the beat-up sofa with some blue yardage.  Put the berries in a blue glass bowl  Arranged the cucumber sandwiches on a big blue glass platter.  Added rose petals and nasturtiums to the cucumber sandwiches for a shot of color.

And since it was a warm day, there were iced beverages.  tea, green tea, cucumber water, and pink lemonade.  Also black tea and coffee.  I love drinking iced tea out of a fancy wine glass, don't you?

My guests contributed to the party theme as well, coming dressed in shades of blue.  Pat likes her tea in a fancy wine glass.  Jacquie likes hers in a delicate china cup.  Beth brought a box of rich delicious blueberry squares from a local bakery.  And Jenny made a batch of Welsh tea cakes.  And of course, we laughed, talked, knitted, solved life's problems and enjoyed ourselves vastly.

All too soon we were done.  After I got everything washed up and put away, I took the leftover cookies across the street to the sweet young couple that expected their baby last Tuesday.  They'll soon have friends and family over a lot.  They can use some cookies.

Thursday, June 04, 2015

Almost done with the re-write

This is what early June looks like around here.  Everything is green and lush.  This is a patch of woods on the corner of the community college campus, and all that green ground cover is weeds.  By July, they will be brown and tinder-dry, but right now, the whole world is a park!

By Friday I will have the final re-write sent to the publishers, and, thanks to a wonderfully generous patron, I will have the fourth book in the Sanna series in process.  Sanna and the Empress takes our heroine from the Thon Academy of Higher Magic for Young Ladies of Exceptional Talent and throws her headfirst into yet another culture and environment.  Power gems, effrits, pirates and assassins all have to be dealt with, and Sanna finally gets her heart's desire.

I hope to have all four books available for sale by Christmas.  Wish me luck!

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Baby blanket

And here's the baby blanket!  About 30 inches square in soft, drapey, machine wash acrylic and bamboo.

 I have been considering adding a leash to which one could tie the pacifier.  What do you think?  On my walks around the neighborhood I keep finding pacifiers which have evidently slipped out of the stroller unnoticed.  If they were tied down somehow  - -  I mean, even if you see the kid fling the pacifier out of the stroller, are you going to pick it up off the pavement and stick it back in his mouth?  Or will you pick it up, take it home, soak it in bleach, run it through the dishwasher, then boil it in distilled water for fifteen minutes?

And what do you call it?  Is it a binkie? A nuk (nook?)? A sucker? Pacifier?  Do they train oral fixations which lead to obesity?  Do they cause deformation of the palate which requires subsequent braces to correct?  Or do they comfort and quiet the adorable bud of infinite potential?  I have lots of opinions and no kids.  What do practicing parents think?

Monday, June 01, 2015

Diligently quilting

 Actually, it's not a quilt.  It's another pieced and tied comforter, for another great-nephew who will be getting married this summer.  I asked his girlfriend if they would like a quilt for a wedding present, and she was thrilled (or at least polite enough to pretend to be.)  I asked her what colors, and she said, "His favorite color is pink." I thought maybe she was pulling my leg (she has a great sense of humor) so I asked his mom.  "Pink and black"  Well that's awesome since I already have two apple boxes full of pink fabrics.  I love pink, too.  So here's a stripy, scrappy pink and black quilt.
I love, love, love crazy piecing, so I used up a lot of my pink and pinkish scraps for the back.    Then I sat down at the dining table with the whole thing spread out flat, and using my 3X5 index card for a ruler, tied it every five inches.  On a queen-sized quilt, that's a lot of ties.  I had a recorded book going, and it took me the better part of an afternoon.  And now it's all done and I'm off to my next project! (projects) I am going to finish the re-write on my fourth Sanna novel and get it to the publishers this week.  And for TV time, I am finishing a baby blanket for the neighbor across the street who is due tomorrow.

This Saturday, I'll be hosting the monthly tea.  Yes, it's week early, but on our usual second Saturday, I need to be in central Oregon to share a celebration of life / memorial service for a guy who was probably the best friend my parents had.  He befriended Dad when Dad first came to central Oregon.  Taught him to ride, camp and hunt.  Gave him excellent, practical advice for real-estate  investments. When WWII started, Red joined the Navy, but was given a medical discharge because he physically sick from home-sickness.  So, during the war, he was one of the few strong, young, able-bodied men available to work in the lumber mill for Dad.  Red was the youngest of a large family, quit school early to help bring in an income.  He was a horse-trainer and a natural cowboy.  He did some hunting and trapping for varmint bounties.  He built his own house, married a wonderful woman, and raised two kids.  zither didn't have an indoor toilet until the late 60s.  I remember sleeping over with his daughter who was my age, and on summer nights, they would throw a mattress out in the front yard, and we would sleep under the wide, bright stars. Red was the one who would show up and say hi about once a month as Mom and Dad were failing.  He kept them up on the latest gossip and news around town.  He was unfailingly kind, honest, and loyal.  There is no way I could miss his send-off.

So the tea-party will be a week early.  And I'm of two minds about how to do this.  It may be warm enough to party in the backyard, which means buffet-type set-up and clusters of conversation.  Use the buffet plate and cup sets I have been collecting.  Floral napkins.  Cover the beat-up lawn furniture with sheets and yardage.  Three tea pots staged handily.  Also iced tea and maybe lemonade.

Or it may still be too chilly, so that means indoors around the table.  Theme "blue" with blueberry coffeecake, blue and white china,  blue table-cloth and napkins.  Either way, I'll serve cucumber sandwiches, cheese biscuits, raspberries in chocolate cookie cups, and maybe Mexican wedding cakes. (note: buy hazelnuts).  If you're coming, let me know by Thursday.