30 December 2007

my true love gave to me

In the interest of creating a greener footprint on Mother Earth, achieving a more fit and strong body to contend with Father Time, and providing a pathway for mindfulness and purpose, I have been riding my bike more. But it's difficult to carry groceries, knitting, and packages. A backpack is cumbersome (and for me dangerous) with heavy items. My DH came through with the perfect solution. I have already used them for grocery shopping and package delivery to the post office.

I understand the partridge and pear tree are sold separately.

29 December 2007

now it feels like winter

Yosemite, while in the peaceful beauty of winter, gives its hearty vistors little surprises.

I love the way snow covers the imperfections of human marking and scarring of the landscape, blanketing everything in the splendor of frozen crystals.

Days that opened with hikes in the snow and ice, as well as some downhill runs in a saucer, were closed with rounds of backgammon, hot food, and warming drink.

Yes, indeed...now it feels like winter.

22 December 2007

prep work

In preparing for winter storms, the wisteria, which had begun its hostile takeover of the roof, got a "crew cut" and {be still my heart} the gutters got cleaned out. That's the daughter on the roof...gravity and I are not on friendly terms.

The dismantling has begun on the elimination of the fire place. For some folks, this would be akin to removing the furnace, but here in such a moderate climate, it's not necessary to have such a structure. Its inefficiency, the air pollution, the wasted space inside the house, and the coming local restrictions on its use were part of the equation we looked at. The entire wall, which is "floating" in the middle of the room, will be removed this spring, opening up the house.

Sidewalks were cut and drains connected to downspouts and the back yard are being placed to exit directly into the gutters.

The destruction, reconstruction, and design are compliments of my wonderful engineering nerd (or as I like to call him: "engi-nerd") husband. He does top notch work and is a stickler for details.

Building, creating, watching items fill up a space in a useful manner has also been in my "engi-nerd's" schedule. Just a note: these "building" photos below have been taken place over this last summer--he's good, but is not able to leap over tall buildings in a single bound. Building takes more time than demolition work. It's an art. Oh, and no, don't panic at the rock and plain cinder block...it's not done yet.

21 December 2007

changes in light

Bare trees, having shed their dress of summer leaves used as protection from the heated long days of light, now stand as tall, unadorned guardians over darkness of the longest night of the year. Winter Solstice (for the northern hemisphere) has arrived. Our candles are lit. The drums have been played.




assumes the silent

sound of night


the crystalline vacuum of

dormant gardens may

witness a





the window




the heart finds

nourishment, love, joy,

mischief under mistletoe

and other ways of gently saying,

"Now shorter days can go!"

--David H. Thomas

21 November 2007

lost and found

I was cleaning up and filing the pile of papers one tends to accumulate on the corner of the desk over time...you know: newspaper clippings of recipes, reviews of a books, comics relevant to your life...when I came across this comic from July.

I thought of the upcoming holiday season, how we all have grandiose plans after the first of the year to knit (or sew or craft) that special something for that special someone for the next holiday season--after all, there are months to plan, purchase, and create. We don't start right away. It's too soon following the holidays. It seems silly to think of the next season so soon.

Then it happens. Life. Spring is full of activity cleaning up the yard, planting, going for those much-needed family walks and bike rides to "blow out the cobwebs", field trips to museums and the beach, and (for me) wrapping up the end of the school year as spring passes to the much-needed summer. All of a sudden, it's half way through June. We concede it's time to plan and possibly purchase the products for the "special something", but how can we create when the sun and water are beckoning? The aroma of sunscreen hints at better times outside with mint iced tea, sidewalk chalk art, weed "flower" collecting, and snacks of fresh-picked vegetables. Summer ends much too soon. School and lessons begin afresh for the new "year." The warmth of summer draws to a close. We prolong those last few warm weeks with dining alfresco on the patio, watching the last of the garden and flowers work their magic. Finally the leaves begin to change color and texture, falling and blanketing the ground. The air has a crispness in the early morning. Seemingly overnight, the sun's hours have been cut, and with it so has the time to leisurely work on the "something special". As with the change of the seasons, so changes our ambitions of accomplishing the many projects for the holiday giving. They don't all get completed. Maybe it's time to stop and call to mind why that "something special" was on your list.

Please remember it's the time together, not the gifts, that create memories of joy and love. A year from now, five years from now, what will be remembered dearly are the storytelling, the board game playing, the time spent in common gathered around the table or on the floor.

20 November 2007

mama and papa love you

Loving, warm memories:

  • It was raining the day you were born...you have always loved water.
  • Shelves of rocks...amassed throughout your life...collected from river beds, hikes (usually at the beginning), ocean beaches, blasting sites, classes.
  • An everlasting passion for books and reading.
  • A singer, an actress, and an athlete.
  • Zest for life, appetite for adventure.
  • Steadfast and true...in friendships, in beliefs, in focus.
Happy birthday, my daughter!

16 November 2007


As the bustling days of the upcoming holidays are fast approaching, I am reminded to stop and breathe. There are unexpected and remarkable moments each day to be celebrated. Embrace them.

15 November 2007

rush of caffeine and fiber

With new coffees to try and several fiber choices to knit from, I am ready to begin a new project or two (after the holidays). My package from Steph arrived (ok, a few days ago...but I've been a bit busy), and I am truly pleased.

Contents included:

  1. Interweave Knit's "Holiday Gifts" magazine, which I had been brooding about but hadn't been able to find.

  2. Handmade ladybug stitch markers that fit up to a US 10 needle. Surely I won't loose these.

  3. Coffee: Peruvian Fair Trade Organic (love fair trade coffees) and "Flying Monkey". I can't wait to try these. Steph says the Flying Monkey is Guatemalan with a hint of "mystery". These coffees are from a local roaster in PA who carries coffee originating from Bali, Brazil, China, Colombia, Costa rica, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda,...too many other countries to list them all.

  4. Fiber:
  • Louet Euroflax Aberdeen Heather linen yarn--chunky weight, "milkweed" (silver/grey) colorway.

  • Jaeger baby merino--DK weight, "charcoal grey" and "pearl" colorways.

  • 60 yards of her own (yes, you read that correct) hand spun yarn with bits of pink recycled silk.

As I sat gushing over the contents of the box, the cats were enjoying the box itself.

08 November 2007

par le siège de mon pantalon

The French are known for many wonderful things. Cheeses that caress one's taste buds. Seductive, full-body wines {there are 27 wine regions in France} that cleanse the palate and pair nicely with a group of friends. Designers who push the limits of fashion.

Let's talk about fashion: more specifically, about sewing patterns written in France. I've been sewing since I was twelve. Serious sewing: reading patterns, using a sewing machine, making my own patterns. I know my way around fabric shops. I know the language. I am well within my comfort zone. I am a native. I can sew "par le siège de mon pantalon" (by the seat of my pants).

Patterns are great. They are, for me, a jumping-off point, much like recipes are: a good structure, but meant to be tweaked as needed. I am blessed with the ability to take something that's an idea, a sketch, and be able to visualize it in three dimensions.

I knew I wanted to make a project bag but didn't want to stay with my "standard" design. I looked through the various pattern books at a local fabric store, finding nothing inspiring. Then I looked in a "specialty" fabric shop, where I found a pattern I loved. A French pattern. No, I don't speak or read French. It didn't stop me. There were translated instructions in English and Spanish. I must admit, I didn't pause in purchasing the pattern...it was only a bag, after all.

With the material spread out and correct pieces (2 and 3--4, it turns out was not needed unless one wanted to do embroidery work) ready to pin and cut, I sat down to glance at the directions--you know, just to see if I was on the right track. After half an hour of reading and re-reading the vague instructions, of studying the incomplete diagrams of how the pieces were to fit together, I started highlighting the needed steps. It turned out the first few steps were generic for all the bags, then I needed to skip down several steps to where my bag's instructions began. I brushed off the poorly written directions, and decided I would just look at the diagrams and "fly by the seat of my pants" through the creative process. A person with lesser experience would have given up. No, not me. I made adjustments, ripped out stitches, created new pieces, ripped out stitches, and forged forward (well, maybe a few more ripping of stitches here and there, along the way).

Following an afternoon of steaming my fingers with the iron and adjusting (re-writing) the pattern, I present to you a bag for knitting projects.

**This post was originally dated for October 26, but I didn't actually post it until now so that my HSKS partner would not see the bag until she received her package from me.

13 October 2007

my owl arrived

My package from my pal from Hogwarts Sock Kit Swap 3 arrived today.


Uno with Harry Potter characters on the cards. This is coming with us camping! Dove milk chocolate covered almonds. So smooth...they just melt in the mouth, like they weren't worth any calories at all. Italian milk chocolate with almonds bar. I'll have to fight for my half with my husband. Brittany birch hardwood dpn's, 7 1/2 inches, US #2 (2.75mm). Cookie A.'s "Twisted Flower" sock pattern. I have been drooling over this pattern for quite some time. I love the almost Celtic design she has created with this pattern, as well as the way the heel is part of the pattern. Perfect to wear with clogs, where the heel shows.

Point protectors/stitch holders in the shape of golden snitches. They have this wonderful glow and sheen to them in the light. Ravenclaw stitch markers: three with blue gems, two with teeny-tiny golden snitches. Two skeins of Knit Picks, Palette, Peruvian highland wool: marine heather, and wood colorways. My mind is already whirling with a half dozen projects that these could be a part of. A skein of Seacoast Handpainted yarn, 50% merino wool, 50% tencel: kelp colorway. It has hints of purples and greens as well as blues and browns. Quite stunning. Oh, and the handmade bag! Deep blue outside, a shimmering bronze inside, with a pocket (inside) and a button closure. The handle is long enough to sling over the shoulder so that, if one were so coordinated enough, one could be walking and knitting at the same time.

12 October 2007

with the rain comes...

  • More birds at the feeders, busy on eating and not paying attention to the cats. Da Vinci, who we would not label as "gifted", caught a male finch (notice the red tones on the birds belly which is in the cat's mouth). A side note: the feeder is six feet from the ground (he jumped up to it in order to catch the bird, evidenced by the swaying of the feeder) and he has no front claws. Da Vinci, being the good cat he is, brought it to the screen door for me. Special, right? I managed to take a quick picture of the event, quickly pried the bird gently out of his mouth--much to his agitation--, held it for a minute or so while I brushed away feathers that had been dislodged by the cat (as the feathers floated down, the cats ate them--yes, ate them) and checked for bleeding (what would I have done if I had found any blood I don't know, yet I looked for injuries anyway), opened my hands, and the poor thing flew off.

            • Cooler, wetter weather bringing out blooms again from plants which conserved energy over the hot summer months by not blooming.

            • Compost bugs, crawling out of the compost bin. I know the compost should be warm enough with, well, composting, that there should not be bugs inside, yet this is what I have. They help break down the kitchen green waste and eventually move on into their place in the food chain.

            09 October 2007

            chemically induced knitting

            I am ending this year (of swaps) with Knittymama's Coffee Swap III. It's so addicting and so very time consuming to be involved in swaps. My first swap was Knittymama's Coffee Swap II, so it seems fitting to me to end on the same caffeine-jazzed note. My answers to the coffee swap questions (honestly, they are cut-and-pasted from the last coffee swap with only a few minor adjustments):

            1. Whole bean or ground? Whole bean. I have a fully-equipped coffee corner in the kitchen which makes this possible.

            2. Fully loaded or decaf? Are you kidding? Fully loaded of course (otherwise what's the point?). Caffeine is my "drug of choice".

            3. Regular or flavored? Regular. Why change a thing?

            4. How do you drink your coffee? Hot and straight up (black), with a curl of the lip if you try to move my mug before the first cup is done. My coffee and I have a morning thing.

            5. Favorite coffee ever? One year a student in my classroom brought back from his family vacation in Guatemala a one pound bag of locally grown coffee--it was rich with a bit of a nutty aftertaste. I coveted it and yet, being only a pound, was gone all too quickly.

            6. Are you fussy about your coffee? (Fussy? See number 4.) I don't like bitter coffee or the super dark roasted.

            7. Favorite treats to have with your coffee? Homemade banana bread (with walnuts, of course) smeared with low-fat cream cheese. Oh, I can taste it already. Fresh bread just out of the oven with melted fresh butter on top and sometimes a dab of honey. If you are going to go "bad", go with style.

            8. Anything else about your coffee preference? Hum...can't think of anything.

            9. Yarn/fiber you love? Wool, cashmere, silk, qiviut, angora, alpaca...well, all the wonderful natural fibers.

            10. Yarn/fiber you hate? Hate is such a strong word, but it quite fits here: acrylics, man-made-oil-synthetic-based products, and those novelty yarns.

            11. What's on your needles? Socks (on two circulars), wristlets in baby alpaca, baby cardigan for my neighbor.

            12. Favorite colors? Blues, greens, browns, dark purples, dark reds. No pastels, no pinks, no bright oranges, no neons.

            13. Allergies? No, only to things that bloom *sigh* (my garden, my lemon trees, etc.) but it doesn't stop me.

            14. Anything you really love, really don't like, or just need to get off your chest? In the order of chocolate (just in case you want to know), no dark chocolate. Please, no dried fruit (it's a texture thing). As far as knitting, I carry my knitting in baskets--oh, I use canvas bags, but they are inside the baskets. Absolutely love knitting with rosewood and birch needles. Bamboo are ok but manufacturer's quality is not consistent. I support fair trade and women's cooperatives for products when possible.

            08 October 2007

            going pink for a month

            Pink for October was first initiated in October of 2006, in support of Breast Cancer Awareness. Web sites all over the world are invited to change their templates (or whatever they feel comfortable with changing) to include the color pink, for the month of October.

            My mother's sister endured years of surgeries, toxic drugs, and radiation. She offered herself as a test subject for treatments, in hopes that others might benefit from the results. Cancer is persistant. In the end, it won. I miss her wisdom, her creativity, her support.

            07 October 2007

            take the test, become the test

            Traveling? New to your community? Looking for a yarn store? There's a new site, currently in beta phase, that is inviting knitters/crocheters/spinners to help build and test their data base of yarn stores. This new yarn store finder: catalogues and maps locations in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, and most of Europe (wherever Google has maps) thus far.

            They have a need for users to test the site, add stores and store details (name, hours, phone number, products, wifi capabilities, etc.), as well as leave comments. Add your favorite LYS to the growing list.