Saturday, June 28, 2008

Alphabet Soup

That's about what I'm going to have if I don't get caught up on the ABC-along soon.  Lucky for me, I found the two letters I needed very close to home, in the patio of the apartment below mine.

I've always had sort of a Darwinian attitude towards my plants.  Between scorching in the summer, drowning in the winter, and occasionally taking a flying dive off the deck, "survival of the fittest" seems appropriate. I'll do my best by you - but you gotta be able to tough it out.

L is for Lantana

This fellow seems to have grasped the policy.  I know a few different plants have been started in that location over the years, some of which received intense, loving care, and still slipped off to the great greenhouse in the sky.  (There was that terrible episode with the tomato plants and the mutant monster worms.)  But this guy bounced back from last year and blooms like a champion.  And then there those plants who, not content with just being decorative, have set their sights on world domination.

M is for Morning Glory

The Borg of the plant world, this critter will reach out a dainty-looking tendril and snag onto anything that holds still, even if for the briefest moment.  It swarms upwards, wrapping around other plants, twining along a clothesline, and blankets a wall and everything on it.  Resistance is futile, you WILL be assimilated. You wanna admire this beauty from a distance.  Or keep moving!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Life in the hotbox

This weekend was one of the paybacks for having a slice of ocean view from my teeny little apartment.  Lots of windows to see out of also means lots of windows to let in the blistering sunlight. On any normal summer day it's uncomfortably hot, but in 90+ degree weather it's a stinky sweaty hell.  I wanted to work on adding a section to someone's traveling scarf, but I was afraid I might accidentally felt it!  

I started making a few changes that I hope will make my home a bit more bearable this summer.  There's only so much I can do with what I have, especially considering I'm only a renter, I don't own the property so there's a limit to how much of my own moola I'm going to put into the place.  I have, however, been getting a great deal of use from the copy of Home Improvement 1-2-3, my mother gave me a while back.

Does a great job of propping open the doublehung window, don't you think?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

I am 1 in 15

Knitters participating in group #9 of a Traveling Scarf Project. The idea is simple - start a scarf, knitting about 3-6 inches in the stitch pattern and yarn of your choice, then mail it to the next person in the chain, who will add another 3-6 inches in their choice of stitch pattern and yarn, and mail it forward again.  Each person in the group doing the same thing, and the scarves in progress traveling forward in a circle, until each person's original scarf returns home.

So a little over a week ago I sent my scarf starter out on the journey:

Knowing that it would return home from its travels someday with a variety of unique, colorful souvenirs I used my favorite Lamb's Pride Worsted in a neutral Deep Charcoal and a simple 2x2 rib.

That same day, I welcomed the first new traveler.  It hadn't come far, but the weather was hot, so it spent a little time relaxing with a nice cold beverage:

Hung out with the locals:

And finally settled down with some good reading!

As for the rest of the visit?  Well, I think it's more fun to save the best of the vacation photos until you return home.  After the weekend, my visitor departed - heading out to the next destination!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Ten years later and she's still here

This is the shot I took yesterday, intending to post it as a Saturday Sky:

But there was also this:

And late today I saw this:

And also this:

Would it be surprising to say that I feel blessed?

This week marked an anniversary for me.  Exactly ten years ago I left my life on the mainland to move over here.  Although I knew I was in for some changes, really - I had no clue what was ahead.  Relocating to the island was so much more than a change of address, it was a change of reality. I try to remember who I used to be, and get lost in the memories. I mean, when I arrived I told myself, "okay give it a year at least, maybe two, and see how it goes". But ten years?  I would never have imagined.

A movie released five years ago used the line, "Any arbitrary turning along the way and I would be elsewhere. I would be different."  I have to agree.  If I had continued my life on the mainland, made alternative decisions on where to live, who would I be now?  Because the choices I've made, and the people I've met along the way, have formed and molded me into a different person.  But I like this person, and I'm glad she's still here.

So ten years - and what a long, strange road it has been.  To celebrate this anniversary, I'm going to offer a little contest.  Leave me a comment telling me where you were ten years ago.  You can interpret "where you were" however you want - geographically, emotionally, career - you decide.  Just leave the comment on this post before June 30th.  Mention this contest on your blog with a link and get an additional entry. I'll use a random number generator to pick the winner.

Oh, you want to know what you'd win?  How about this:

Two skeins of deelishus Di.Ve' Autunno, purchased at Liscat. My photos don't do justice to the depth of color and this 100% merino wool yarn is so soft and smooth.  Comfy soft like you wanna get it next to your skin, or maybe just sit and pet it for awhile. I've also included a cute bookmark, with crystal beads and a little heart dangle, perfect for holding your place in your favorite pattern book!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

On background and broadripple

When you wake to the sound of a cat puking before 6:30 am, really, your day can only get better from there.  Right? Can only go up!  (Yes, as in "getting up way too damn early on a Saturday"). I'd expected to crash early tonight but since I'm still not sleepy I'm going to see if I can get caught up on some blog posts, 'kay?

After giving my hair a day to recover, I went back to be an extra again on Thursday. Actually the casting company calls us extras but to the film crew we are "background".  This was definitely a more interesting day.  Besides the traditional sitting on one's butt knitting and sipping coffee or scrounging snacks from craft services, there was time spent on a Catalina Express boat, where through the magic of camera angles 20 people on an empty boat will somehow look more like 200 people on a full boat.  There was much getting off of the boat carrying strange luggage,  running back, and then getting off again.  There was a van ride to and from lunch break, after which there was more of the sitting around on one's butt, this time without the knitting and a vital lesson was learned. If they say it's okay to leave your stuff there because you'll be coming right back to that same location - don't do it. Two hours stranded in a different place from your knitting is a verrrrrryyyyy looooonnnnnngggg two hours, let me tell you. There was also much walking up and down sidewalks, zig-zagging back and forth and around, again making 20 some people look like an actual crowd.  

Towards the end of the afternoon while waiting for the next take, I observed the group of people standing a few feet in front of me, getting a VIP style reception from the crew.  I leaned over to one of the other background folk and asked, "Is that?" to which she answered in the affirmative.  So if the SciFi geeks slouching down in the back row would like to sit up and pay attention please?  I was standing behind Lando Calrissian. (What? He has some other name?).  While there were definitely some parts of the day I enjoyed more than others, it certainly didn't suck. And it went into overtime.  Definitely not sucking.

Somewhere in the midst of going overtown for computer repairs, waiting around on plumbers, and being background, I started a pair of Broadripple socks:

Much more progress has been made since this shot was taken, especially during all the time I spent on that boat Thursday!  The heel flap is longer than I'm used to, which surprised me.  But the additional rounds for gusset decreases go quickly, and they seem to be fitting me just fine.  I also really like this particular colorway, the tan has less frequent repeats than the blue and green. Unlike the previous pairs, these socks are being knit one at a time.  I really like doing them at the same time, doing the leg of one, and then the other, followed by the heel of one, and then the other, etc., but I don't have a set of size 3 needles at all and thankfully was at least able to borrow this set for this project.  And no, I cannot buy size 3 dpns locally, I've tried.  Obviously this means I need to do something about enhancing my needle collection, eh?  Hmmmmm......

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The probability of plumbers

So what is the probability that the plumber I scheduled will show up on the correct day & time? Can you compute a confidence interval on the mean amount of time it takes them to complete the work once they start?  And is any of this statistically significant?

These are the sort of oddments that passed through my head this morning as I worked my way through a Stat lesson while just a few feet away, the aforementioned plumber was squeezed into a broom closet, talking to his coworker in the bathtub on the other side of the wall.  I haven't a clue what they were saying, my Spanish is nowhere near that fluent yet, particularly in regards to that topic.  In restaurants - whether as a customer ordering food or an employee in the kitchen - I'm good, but pipes and valves and faucets?  Not a chance.

Yes, this another post without any pictures.  But really - do you need me to post one?  Are you not already familiar with what the backside of a plumber looks like? If not, then may I suggest that you move into a house built prior to 1940.  (Bonus points if the toilets run on salt water). That should solve the problem nicely. And if by chance you can find one that has had little to no maintenance in the past two decades, you should be really well positioned for building a special new relationship with your local plumber!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Money for nothin' (and the hair's free)

There's a new television show filming on the island this summer.  They'll be shooting the first six episodes here and unlike many other productions, this one is not just on the island, but also about being on the island.  So after having been everything on film from southwesterly England to an unknown South Seas island, this time Catalina really IS Catalina. 

 The show is titled "Twenty-Six Miles" (original, eh?) and a few weeks ago I went to an open casting call for people to work as extras.  Yesterday they called me and I agreed to work today.  It doesn't pay much but since I have absolutely no income at all right now, any money is good to have.   I do, however, have an extremely flexible schedule, which the casting company seemed to appreciate. And after this first day, I still can't tell how much more work I'll get this summer, whether this is something that will help pay the rent, or just contribute to the "Wine & Yarn" line item in the budget. (What?  Don't you have that too?).  But after this first day - I see no reason why I shouldn't continue to accept this "extra" work. Because today....wait for it...I got money for nothin'.

Yup!  It's true.  I got paid to sit on my ass.  And while doing so I studied for my final exams, knitted, and chatted with folks around me.  Oh and did I mention that there were snacks?  (You can start hating me anytime now.  Go ahead - I'd hate me too.)  Seriously, as instructed by the casting company I showed up at the location with three changes of clothing at 10:ooam this morning.  I was immediately sent in a van to another location for wardrobe check and hair & makeup.  The wardrobe part was fairly unremarkable, but it was at the 'ole hair shop that things got interesting.

For anyone who hasn't met me in person, (and because that little profile photo doesn't show it), I have close to waist-length wavy/curly/squiggly hair that when  not pinned up for convenience, I generally wear au naturale.  That is to say, it does what it wants and I let it.  But today my hair got a serious talkin' to by the hair lady. First she started by asking me to take off my glasses.  This is a tad scary because it means I can't see my reflection in the mirror anymore, like those makeover shows I'm going to have to wait til she's done to see the results.  But I didn't see any scissors or dyes on her table, so I took a deep breath, yanked off the specs, and let her have at.  There was much yanking and pulling of the tender hairs, assorted products were applied, a couple of hot implements were utilized, and finally, the masterpiece was revealed.

I regret that I have no photos to share.  (No I don't, that's a lie.)  As far as I can tell, she completely reversed my hair. My usual left part became a right part, the wavy bangs were straightened, the flyaway parts were sprayed flat and pinned into submission. She even went section by section and curled my hair in the opposite direction.  I was stunned.  Speechless actually. (This was probably a good thing.)

The whole trip through the wonders and wardrobe and hair took about an hour, but no one seemed to mind.  This should have been a sign. Because once I got back to the actual shooting location, checked in with the appropriate person, and settled into a chair - with the exception of a lunch break, I basically spent the entire day as described earlier.  And in the end - they never even used the extras.  (We were never "established" as they say.) At 4:30 in the afternoon, we were signed out and sent home.  Thanks for coming, sorry we didn't use you, maybe next time. (Did I mention they are filming all summer?  Plenty of "next times" ahead.) 

But if the deal isn't sweet enough already - the pay is for 8 hours or any portion thereof.  I get paid for a full 8 hours, even if I only spend half of that actually there. I get paid just for showing up, whether or not they decide to use me that day. I get paid for just sitting there quietly, occupying myself with schoolwork or knitting.  So why wouldn't I keep doing this?  After all, it really was like money for nothin.  And a free hairstyle!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Random rant and channel crossings

Last week I took a quick trip over to the mainland and back.  I did a little shopping - Home Depot, Michael's, Trader Joe's - all the usuals.  But the main purpose of the trip was a visit to what is apparently a mecca for scruffy, tattooed and pierced twenty-somethings - the Apple store.  I went there because my sweet baby MacBook had a boo-boo, a small crack on the case, and I was promised that the ahem, "genius" at the Apple store could repair it while I waited. Which he did.  And although the tech who completed the repairs was closer to what I expected, I was really surprised at the appearance of the majority of the staff. 

I fully understand that if you are a true computer genius and all you do is spend your days writing code and solving the tech problems of those around you - then yes, by all means, you should dress as you see fit.  Tattoo whatever, pierce anything and everything - knock yourself out.  But if you have a job where you interact with customers on a regular basis, where you are in fact in a job titled "concierge" and you are the first point of contact (whether or not they want) for every freakin' customer that walks into the store?  Shouldn't you at least bathe? Or even look like you did?  I mean, it's 10:00am and I can tell that hangover is really kicking your ass, you should probably be in bed right now.  But since you came into work anyway...brush? comb? caffeine???

I worked in Human Resources for a number of years and spent a fair amount of that time trying to explain to applicants and existing employees why the company had certain standards for anyone in a customer service position.  Nothing unreasonable really, and the gist of it was similar to that used by one of the giants in the tourism industry - Disney. No extreme hair styles or colors, no visible tattoos or piercings other than the earlobes, clean-shaven or neat, tidy facial hair, uniform clean, nametag on. But towards the end of my time in that job I started feeling like the Tattoo & Piercing Police and just couldn't figure out why it had to be such a hassle. Maybe those standards are out of date?  I don't know.  But they made sense to me then, and they still do now.  I could go so much further but I suspect I'm going to end up sounding much older than I am.   And I'm way too young to be getting into that whole "in my day we walked ten miles through the snow, etc., etc."!

How about if I show you some cool stuff I saw while I was on the boat?  There was this:

It's a Roll On Roll Off (RORO) vessel, which we see plenty of, at home (like the barge that brings freight to & from the island) and in various ports.  You've probably seen them too - car ferries are a form of RORO.  But this baby is huge!  It's a 6500 unit Pure Car/Truck Carrier and you can see a good image of what something like that would look like from the inside here.  That's a helluva lotta vehicles getting transported, eh?

Even better, I saw this:

It's the Sea Launch platform, Odyssey.  You know, the folks who send up satellites? Their website has a great deal of info on the organization, facilities, and past missions but what really interests me is that in the details on the launch platform here, it's described as "the world's largest semi-submersible structure".  I have to say, when you are passing by it on the water, it doesn't look like something that should be floating at all!  But it does.  And wouldn't it be amazing to be on that vessel when they launch a rocket?

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Mm mm...Minty Chocolate Chip!

With our June gloom mornings it really hasn't gotten that hot here yet. But I think it's important to get my seasonal ice cream consumption started now, so by the time I need to really pack it away, I'm prepared. So after my healthy salad lunch I had this:

Followed by these:

Mint Chocolate Chip Socks!  

Using Duet yarn from A Swell Yarn Shop and the Waffle Rib pattern from Sensational Knitted Socks.  I was concerned about running short of the solid yarn  and having enough to finish so I only did 5 rounds of it on the cuff.  But I had plenty left so if I use this yarn again I'd definitely do more.  I'm especially pleased about the way the stitch pattern breaks up the colors, keeping it from being too "stripey".  They fit great and I'm satisfied.  Deelishus!

Friday, June 6, 2008

K is for Kittens

I had a few ideas for this letter of the alphabet but in honor of a dear friend's newest family member, I've decided that K is for Kittens!

All three of these little darlings are alumni of CIHS - the Catalina Island Humane Society.  And yes, all of them did eventually find loving homes. 

But as wonderful as kittens are - adult cats are also great pets.  Many of the more mature animals languish in shelters, unable to find homes because they don't have the quick and easy appeal of the babies. So if you are looking to adopt a cat, please keep an open mind!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Fake Fur Fun

Acting in my capacity as a virtual black hole of disaster, I didn't get much accomplished yesterday. By the end of the day, I thought it might be safe and pulled out some knitting. Size 7 bamboo needles with very dull points, 'cause I'm not a complete idiot. (And when, out of 83 cable channels, the one I wanted to watch was the only one not working, I got a little nervous.) So with stubby little needles in hand, I did this:

No, that is not a godawfully large clump of cat hair. (Although I don't rule out the possibility that something similar may be lurking behind the couch.) Crafted from black Fun Fur, this little critter is going to be the latest high-fashion accessory for a very special dog.

Olive is a Giant Schnauzer (emphasis on the "giant") and while that's not the best picture of her by far, as you can see she is verra verra furry!  Recently, in order to investigate a possible problem the area around one foot and lower leg was shaved.  Without the lovely thick fur, her foot actually looks quite tiny and almost dainty, especially on such a big dog. But it also looks a bit sad.  So Olive's people, knowing that I've been knitting people socks, commissioned me to make a sort of footless doggy sock.  I think we're calling it an "anklet" for lack of a more clever name.  (But I'm open to suggestions.)

In Olive's absence, I did find someone else to model the work in progress:

It's coming along quickly so it should be finished in just a few days.  But it just looks awfully plain to me.  I can't help wondering if Olive wouldn't prefer something more stylish?  Perhaps a tasteful string of pearls?  After all, what girl couldn't use a bit more glam in her life?