Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Yesterday I went downtown (what passes for "downtown" here!) to run a few errands and visit with a few people. During that time 3 different people stopped me to ask "where I was at". Which sounds like an odd question when both the questioner and the questionee are standing on the same small square of sidewalk in the same small town on the same small island.
In this town, it is not uncommon for people to start working very young, work mutiple jobs, and/or continue working when technically "retired". This is a town of worker bees all right - dedicated to serving the queen bee tourism. And for the first time in a long time I'm not one of them. After working full-time, part-time, and being an unpaid volunteer for years - I've stepped out. For one year.
So in this case, it really isn't a question of geography. It's a question of employment ('cause everyone works right?). It doesn't really surprise me that people are asking and I realize I'm a kind of out of the norm right now. But that's okay by me - and I'm grateful to have the freedom and opprtunity.
Even though I just went overtown 10 days ago I had to go back over again today. The management of the parking garage (in their infinite wisdom) just decided (less than a week ago) to do maintenance work on the lower levels so all the monthly parkers (islanders) who have been fortunate enough to grab spaces under cover (including me) on the lower levels have to waste one entire round trip (and $$$) just to move their vehicles up to the roof so that the maintenance work can be done (and our cars can get crapped on).
Anyway, I didn't want to waste the trip so I drove to at a place so near and dear to the hearts of islanders - Trader Joe's. I know you take that place for granted, I once did too! One winter of our grocerey store and you'll be ready to worship in the church of TJ's and call the Fearless Flyer your bible. After that I was satisfied with how the day had gone, but I as I was driving back towards the boat I saw a sign for a Farmer's Market at the World Trade Center in Long Beach.
For all the photos of yummy fruit and pretty green veggies, what I can't give you in a blog post is the amazing smells. Vanilla, cinnamon, lavender, orchids, and those guys at the big open grills? Ohhhh wow. Just beyond desciption.
So to go back to where I started. This morning I was in Torrance, this afternoon I was in Long Beach, and now - as most days - I'm anchored down in Avalon and doing the best I can.
*with apologies to Michelle Shocked
Sunday, October 28, 2007
I will send a handmade gift to the first 3 people who leave a comment on my blog requesting to join this Pay It Forward exchange. I don’t know what that gift will be yet and you may not receive it tomorrow or next week, but you will receive it within 365 days, that is my promise! The only thing you have to do in return is pay it forward by making the same promise on your blog.
So that's it! Anyone interested? Leave me a comment!
Friday, October 26, 2007
I GOT MY RAVELRY INVITE!!! Wooohoooooo!!!!
K, thx. I'm calm now. Enough dancing around the living room in my pajamas - and the cat is so not impressed! I expect the non-knitters have already given this post a "WTF?", shrugged, and surfed on elsewhere.
But the knitters understand, the ones who I now happily join in this amazing online community, and all those still waiting on the list. And to those people I should say - they truly are adding people as fast as they can, I moved up the list much faster than I expected, have patience, it's worth the wait.
And wow - this could truly eat up large portions of my life. I can see I will have to place myself on diet, limiting myself to a certain number of Ravelry hours per day. 'Course it would have helped if I'd already set up my knitting photos on Flickr! That's going to take up some of my daily allotment. But it's all good, and all worth it in the end.
So come find me and friend me - I'm "just26miles" across the sea and on Ravelry!
Thursday, October 25, 2007
I am much younger, like early teens. A small blond boy tells me that when he went to the store by himself last time a group of bigger kids picked on him. I walk down the row of stores, looking for them but don't see anyone. So then I tell the blond boy to walk back to the store, while I hide and watch for kids to come out. I crouch down behind a large metal thing, like a van, or a dumpster, watching the boy, and waiting.
I am packing things into cardboard boxes, for moving, but these are not my possessions. Behind me a woman is lying on a couch, like she is ill and can only watch without helping. Someone approaches me as I am disconnecting a stereo system and asks what to do next, I stand up and open a closet door to see what's inside, then tell the person to use Hefty bags to pack up the clothes. There is a sense of urgency, we have to finish this today.
I am walking with someone behind me through large glass doors and then down very wide stone stairs from a large building. There is a crowd of reporters surrounding someone further to the right of the stairs, and we walk down and to the left, towards a parking garage. A man steps out from behind me and starts to turn to face me and say something, we hear many footsteps and he moves quickly away, past a row of bushes, and I turn to face the reporters.
I am talking to my mother about our trip in February and she askes me if I have found someone to take care of my cats while I'm gone. I tell her I am going to ask E. She tells me that the trip is coming up soon, so I walk upstairs and call him at home. I reach him immediately and after we chat a little I ask him the question. He flatly replies with a "No, I can't do that" and says nothing else. I sit on the edge of my bed, holding the phone, listening to the silence on the open line with no idea what to say.
Comments anyone? The floor is open...
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
* I added a site meter so I can keep an eye out for lurkers (not the variable kind, we'll talk about that tomorrow). I had my eye on a free, cute, fun one but the code they gave me did not work and when I tried the site's help page I got a Page Not Found or somesuch thing. This does not give me the warm fuzzies! So I dumped the free/cute/fun in favor of free/safe/reliable.
* I also finally added a list of links to my favorite sites to the sidebar. That was actually more time consuming than I'd expected.
* The Art History progress bar has been moved and should continue to see regular movement with my new resolve to fast forward through that lame class!
* I should mention for anyone interested - I change the "Mini-Me" avatar from time to time depending on what's going on, weather, etc. So it's worth keeping an eye on that - and I think it's kinda fun.
* And sometime last week I ran across the little "I Heart My Macbook" and just had to grab it. It links back to some dating site and that seems harmless to me. (And yes - I really do love my computer!)
If I may close with a teeny tiny vent? It would just make my life so much easier if Safari would play nice with Blogger. (And you'd be reading a post with better formatting.)
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
It was absolutely marvelous and everything you could ask for. Just a very small space but the minute you walk in the door you see the yarn stacked to ceiling and all the way to the very back.
And all the way back up the other side:
What you can't see (half because I'm an idiot and half because I'm still a bit shy about taking photos like this) is that on either side of the register in the back is a goodly supply of needles, notions, books, magazines, and all the other odds and ends that knitters desire. Just inside the front door is a decent sized table with chairs and while I was in the shop
After finally emerging from my new favorite yarn shop, I drove around town, looking for familiar landmarks. I found my old house:
No-that is not my truck, mine is dirty gray!
The local teen center facility, one of my frequent haunts back in the day:
Don't let the fences scare you, it's really more to keep basketballs in, than people out!
And of course, what you were really waiting for (with that bated breath I mentioned before), my high school:
Isn't it pretty? And HUGE!
If you're thinking it looks like something that could be in a movie - it is. And if you are thinking you already saw it in a movie - you did. Or a television commercial, print ad, or some other such thinge. That place is totally photogenic and verrrryyy popular. It never occurred to me to ask when I was a teenager - but do you suppose the revenue from those all those movie and photo shoots goes to the school? Or the city?
I know that as an adult, usually when you visit a place from your childhood, it seems smaller than you remember. And that was true for the town. But the high school seemed so much larger than I remembered it being. Does it make a difference that I was a teenager for the majority of the time I lived there and spent so much of my time on that campus. (Although, perhaps...errr...not as much time each day as would have been preferred by school staff. Sorry Mom - but it all worked out okay in the end, didn't it?)
I drove around for a bit longer, and no matter how much they may have been updated (Back patio added to Charburger? Cool!), I appreciated those familiar places in relation to all the new businesses that have sprouted and helped revitalize the town that could have died along with the 80's areospace industry. Yes, I did see the Curves a few doors down from the yarn shop, and I felt a little wobbly. But hey - the Rite Aid isn't new, and we had Domino's pizza too. But then when I saw the Starbucks across the street from the Teen Center I knew it was time for me to go.
It was an odd experience altogether - feeling such a strong connection to a place, but simultaneously so disconnected. And it brought up all sorts of memories, some I'd prefer not revisit, along with opening the door to more introspective ramblings in the future - on the places we live and why, what makes us feel like we belong or even need to, and could changing your address really change your life?
Monday, October 22, 2007
On any normally windy day we still have plenty of the ash from last May's fire drifting through the air. But now the wind is also bringing over ash from all the fires on the mainland, and the air is truly thick with it all. You can feel it in the air, in your eyes, in your nose - yecchhh. And while I feel sympathy for the people who have had their lives disrupted by those fires, I am pathetically, selfishly grateful that it is not happening here.
And once again with the selfishness - crossing my fingers that nothing does happen here now. Because a large part of what saved us in May was the effort of all the mainland fire crews that came over to support our local city and county fire. We had so many different agencies, some of them even came directly from the Griffith Park fire without taking the time to go home in between. But if a fire broke out here now, I think we'd really be on our own. From the sound of things, their resources are already stretched the max, and the Governator was on television earlier today promising that the cities and counties affected by the fires would get whatever they need, and that other states had offered their assistance as well. Someone else at the podium before him commented that communications and cross-cooperation between agencies had improved greatly since the last major firestorm, and that was making a difference this time. But should it take a major emergency to get Aaaahhnold dishing out the greenbacks and all these folks together at the podium?
I remember the crews that came over in May to help us were impressed by how the islanders worked together during the crisis, pulling the resources to support the fire crews - food, shelter, supplies, and the volunteers to run it all. This didn't surprise any of us, after all living on an island does teach you some unique skills. Like that you can't NOT get along with the people around you, you may need them someday. In a town of less than 3 square miles there are very few complete strangers. They get in your business, gossip behind your back, and just about drive you bonkers sometimes. But they're all people, and they're our people.
So as my friend would say, when in doubt - err on the side of kindness. Be smart, be safe. And try not to make an ash of yourself.
Sunday, October 21, 2007
He was hanging out where all the fishermen gather, fishing off the backside of the Mole. The bird kept going from one group to the other, begging for fish - it was hilarious. I only wish I'd had a video camera to really capture it.
Driving overtown is usually a bit of mental wrench, I notice things now that I'm sure I just took for granted in the past, they were just part of the background. But while I was stopped at a red light (oh, yeah traffic lights!) I glanced over to the left and saw this:
The blue ad? It's for The Sandbox, a smoke (head?) shop located in the South Bay. The text on the right side of the ad says, "For all your smoking and detox needs." Ummmm, yeah...good to know where to go when the need hits. I'll make a note of that.
When I sat down to take the exam I finally discovered the upside to this crappy course. The problem with the course results from the obvious fact that the instructor basically phoned it in, and apparently delegated the writing of the course materials to a teaching student whose first language was not English. The minimal amount of effort was put into creating it. And the midcourse exam followed the same pattern - minimal effort expended in its creation. So the "80 matching and multiple choice questions taken from the assignments and quizzes" were precisely the same questions. And I do mean precisely the same, not rewritten or rearranged at all, even the answers were exactly the same. So if the correct answer was in position b when the question was used on one of the quizzes, it was in position b on the midcourse exam. And the answers in postion a, c, d, and e, were the same also. So my tactic of preparing for the exam by memorizing all the "matching and multiple choice questions taken from the assignments and quizzes" worked like a charm - I nailed it.
It's getting late now, so I'm going to continue talking about my little day trip in a separate post tomorrow. I'm sure you'll be waiting with bated breath!
Friday, October 19, 2007
So without any further ado, heeeeeeerrrrressss Steve!
To see Steve's official contest entry and vote for him, please go to http://votigo.com/contests/showentry/20176. And you know what they say, vote early & vote often! Like every day, maybe? (And ladies, I know you can't wait to get your hands on this vegetarian hotness - take a number, the line is forming to the left.)
Thursday, October 18, 2007
Obviously there used to be a telephone in there but I can't remember how long ago. And now every time I see it I have to resist the impulse to attach a couple cans to either end of a piece of string and hang it up there. Do you think anyone would notice? I always appreciate creative endeavors. And I have no idea when this happened to one of the old street signs, but I swear it wasn't me!
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
This is the scarf I started to match the hat in my last post. The pattern is Crazy Aunt Purl's Magic Scarf, and I decided to use at least two of the listed alterations to her recipe - adding three rows of garter stitch to the beginning and end of the scarf, along with three stitches of garter to the beginning and end of each row. I think this is going to look the scarf look a bit more substantial, and the garter stitch border will really set off the pattern. And just so we're clear here, I am not intending to knit a matching scarf for every hat I knit over this winter. (I may be crazy but not in that way). I think after I knit a bunch more hats I'll just use the leftover from all of them to make one striped scarf that will match all of the hats. ('Cause matching stuff? I am crazy that way). The yellow hat is going to be the only one to get it's own scarf, because - you know, it was the first. I know, I know, you aren't supposed to have favorites. And I know, the other hats will be jealous, but they'll just have to suck it up. Rank hath its privileges.
In other news, I finally had a reason to scootch a couple of the progress bars over, adding 5% to both Statistics and Psych Research Methods. I knew I wasn't getting much schoolwork done last week, other things were happening that seemed to suck up all my time. Which does not make me happy so I'm going to attempt to find a better balance in the future. But on Saturday I should be taking my midterm exam for Art History, and that does make me happy - I cannot wait to be done with that horrid class. I wasted far too much time at the beginning of the class before finally accepting that it is just a crappy, poorly-written course and that I should just memorize all the answers, spit them back on the test, get the grade onto my transcript, and move on. How about setting a goal of completing that one before Christmas? Or maybe even Thanksgiving?
Sunday, October 14, 2007
My first perfect roll-brim hat for my pointy little head!
Well, perfect may be a bit much, but I am happy with it. I don't have a name for the pattern yet - but I'm open to suggestions. Obviously I should have stuffed something inside of it before taking the photo, so I did this:
(Hmmm....channeling Magritte in this one!)
There are a few things I might try changing in future versions. (Didja think I was kidding about knitting one in every colorway of Lamb's Pride? Wait and see.) Immediately after the roll brim, I decreased and then ribbed. The intent of the ribbing was to help it stay on my head and stop the stockinette stitch from curling any further. But the ribbing doesn't really do much to help keep it on and I'm wondering if just the decrease alone would have been enought to stop the curling? And then there's also the idea of adding a stripe, perhaps in the ribbing? Oh there's so many hats yet to be knitted!
As I was knitting this item, I spoke to it sweetly and lovingly, promising it that if it turned out to be a nice hat, I would knit it a matching scarf. (We will not discuss what I said to it when I was tinking back after I discovered that I decreased for the crown too soon.) And although I forget to mention it before, when I bought the yarn it was on sale so (obviously) I bought more and I have another whole skein to play with along with the leftover from the hat. So I guess I better get going on that - wouldn't do to break my promise - the knitting gods will not be pleased!
One more thing - the last office I worked in had many err...unique qualities. (Stench of raw sewage in the storage room pretty much won the prize.) And among them was an interesting object that hung directly above my head while I sat at my desk. From the first day I started, until the day I left, I had to resist the urge to grab a sharpie marker and write one sentence on that object. Can you guess what that sentence was?
Friday, October 12, 2007
Last week I cast on another hat, using Brown Sheep's Lamb's Pride worsted weight in "Lemon Drop". I haven't used that yarn in a long time and I'd forgotten how nice it is to knit with, I love the way it feels so I'm sure I'll be using it more often in the future. Instead of using someone else's pattern for this hat, I'm trying to work up my own, using what I've learned from the last few hats I've made. The end goal is to come up with my perfect hat pattern for my pointy little head and then knit one in every colorway of Lamb's Pride I guess! I want very badly to work on it, my fingers are just itching for it. But I'm finding it difficult to move forward. I'm at the point of needing to decrease for the crown, and for the first time instead of using a pattern, I have to make it up as I go along, judge the results, and then possibly rip back and do it over again differently. And it's not that I mind the "do over", did I mention I love knitting with this yarn? It's that I have to move forward with no idea how the end result may look.
I guess I still have more work to do on this area - personal growth continues. Stay tuned for updates.
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
I'm going overtown on Friday to take a midcourse exam, visit a yarn shop, check out options on a tonneau lid for my truck, and re-unite with a few of my high school classmates. This was intended to be my 20 year high school reunion weekend, which appears to have fizzled from lack of organization/support/whatever. The date was picked to coincide with the annual Homecoming weekend and with it listed for so long on alumni calendars, even with no organized reunion it looks like a fair number of Eagles will be returning to the nest. Apparently along with the football game now there's also a parade - and who doesn't love small town parades?
My last alumni email also describes a ceremony inducting this year's winners into the school's Hall of Fame, and a reception to view their plaques, along with 29 others of previous years. So I have to ask - what have these two people, and the 29 that preceeded them, done that admits them to the "Hall of Fame"? Researching a cure for cancer? Building homes for Hurricane Katrina victims? Solving poverty in third-world countries? I googled the names of this year's winners and couldn't find anything noteworthy. So I'll have to check that out while I'm there.
And then, just for a kick, I googled myself. 'Cause, you know, whether in terms of my high school days or the 20 years since, I'm nobody really. Funny - I found myself at the top of the first page, and eight listings altogether, just for PR on my last workplace and volunteer work for another organization.
Five months ago a man died, thinking he had no friends, was a burden to others, and would never be any better or more than he was at that moment. Dozens of friends joined his family at his memorial service, and many of them stood up to share their memories of how much he had done to help them, how he gave them countless hours when others couldn't even spare a minute, how he gave them a chance when no one else would. He lived a small, too brief life, and never tried to set the world on fire - but he made a difference. And his death didn't make the news, not even the local papers - after all, he was nobody.
(My thanks to Emily Dickinson)
Monday, October 8, 2007
I know the deer are getting desperate when they come visit me!
Saturday, October 6, 2007
Progress bars have become very popular with knitters and searching the internet I found dozens of other descriptions on how to create progress tracking bars that required CSS, or creating the graphic on your computer and then just pasting it as an image, but I was sure there had to be another way. And this one works fine for me, all html code and they're just little tables inside tables, I can select my own hex color codes and just go back in and tweak the dimensions and edit the text when I need to. Perfect.
I'm not sure how I feel about the progress bars, right now they make me feel frustrated, like time is going by quickly and and I'm not moving forward as fast as I'd expected. But then, when does anything ever turn out exactly they way you expect?
Friday, October 5, 2007
(Wine glass included for scale). I ordered my new iPod on Monday, it shipped on Tuesday from China, traveled to Hong Kong, Anchorage, Indianapolis, Signal Hill, and by Friday afternoon it was at my front door. So I just have to ask, "Mr. Jobs, who's your inside guy at Fedex? And is he single?"
Thursday, October 4, 2007
As far as I know, only my immediate family and possibly a couple of close friends ever read this - so if on my less-than-brilliant days I just blather on about my latest knitting projects, show pictures of my cats, whatever - well, that's just going to have to be enough.
Anyway, I like to start my mornings by spending at least 15-30 minutes quietly sipping coffee and knitting. This gives me a chance to get properly caffeinated and come to complete wakefulness (a critical issue for those who know me well) and I generally find that while my hands are moving, my mind is also, and usually in positive directions. My version of morning meditation I suppose. This practice occurred even during my working days even when if I had a choice between skipping my "morning mediation" and being a tad late to work - I was late. Over time I had found that skipping that time to myself did not make me happy, I really needed that quiet time before launching fully into the day at my best.
Of course the knitting done during this time had to fulfill two important qualities - 1) it was "home" knitting because it was too large to be traveling around town or even overtown with me, and 2) it had to be very simple, no pattern reading required, increases, decreases, simple garter stitch was best. For a long (long, long, long, long,) time the morning mediation project was a pale pink baby blanket. Of course the reason it dragged on and on was because I only did a row or two at a time, but the frequency increased when I stopped working and finally it was done.
All that's left to do now is add a little tag and deliver it to PLAY Preschool for their November charity auction. (You didn't think I was actually knitting that for someone I knew did you? I did say it took a long, long, long, long time. Longer that it would have taken for someone to carry a baby girl to term!)
With a need for a morning knitting project I went digging thru my UFO's and came up with this:
Lion's Incredible Racer Bank Tank, and although you can't see the back in their photo, it's really cute and the kind of thing that someone like me can wear easily. However, that means that one is knitting something with a pattern, while drinking coffee, and that one is not completely caffeinated while (trying) to interpret the pattern. The consequences are that one's knitting may indeed fall down and go boom. (Uhhhhh...when it said "end on WS row"? WS stands for Wrong Side, doesn't it?) Whoops.
Whenever this happens I have a tendency to wimp out and go see the Knitting Doctor, (AKA - "Mom"). But I know she won't always be so readily available to doctor all my knitting boo-boos. So I decided to be brave and see if I could pick it up, dust it off, apply bactine, and a band-aid and make it all better. While Lion's Incredible ribbon yarn isn't the easiest to knit with, it is easy to see your stitches. So I ran a safety line through the stitches a few rows below the mistake/boo-boo :
And then ripped back to it, ran the needle back in, and all better! Minus two inches of course. *sigh*