Saturday, January 31, 2009

Small lessons & great joy

So I lived.  Along the way I learned that there is a substantial difference between my body now and my body of ten years ago.  Apparently it's not enough to get this message from any passing mirror, I have to learn this particular lesson the painfully hard way.  I am willing to admit that the very sedentary lifestyle I've had for the past few years was a contributing factor but still...ouch. Just ouch.

I also experienced a great moment of joy when I discovered that the same quantity of boxes and miscellaneous bits of furniture that required two trips in someone else's truck, only required one in mine.  Sometime in the next few days I will be contacting a friend to say the words we all want to hear, "Yes, you were right..." followed by the info that while her truck is larger overall, mine does indeed have a longer bed with more capacity.  Cool beans. 

The reason this small fact caused such great excitement is that it meant I did not have to go back and move more boxes on the second day of my time on the mainland. As I was loading the boxes into my truck and we were strategizing how to maximize the capacity, it was at one point suggested that I might just have to return the next day for a couple of chairs.  I may not have said it aloud, but a voice inside my head said, "No freakin' way, those bastards are going if I gotta bungee them on top." Or something along those lines.

And to the woman in the red cardigan who stepped into the two feet of space between the edge of our pallet and the tailgate of my truck? I am not going to apologize for almost hitting you with a box.  I am guessing by your behavior that you are unfamiliar with freight and warehouse environments and simply do not know any better.  But you need to learn and hopefully that near miss was educational.

As you've figured out by now, I was genuinely wiped the next day and didn't accomplish much on the mainland before heading for home.  While talking to someone just before boarding the boat I admitted that even as extremely uninterested in sports as I am, I had managed to notice that there is some sort of major event taking place this weekend.  On Sunday, as a matter of fact.

But it wasn't until I woke up the next morning that I remembered the really important sports spectacular occurring on Sunday.  An absolute can't-miss, must-watch, showdown of the best & brightest - Animal Planet's Puppy Bowl V!  Seriously, when you compare a bunch of guys in padded uniforms and helmets to all those bright eyes and wagging tails, c'mon - how you could you pass that up?  And let's not forget the Kitty Half-time Show - truly, something for everyone! Where can you find better entertainment on a Sunday afternoon?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

When you own a pickup truck...

You are spend a fair amount of time moving other people's possessions.  And if you own a dolly or handtruck, and happen to be in reasonably decent physical condition, you are even more in demand.

So that's what I'm doing this week.  Today I drove a pickup truck & hauled boxes to Catalina Freight Line. Tomorrow I'll get on a boat and head across the channel to do the same thing on the other side. Depending on how it goes over there, I might get to do more moving of boxes again the next day. Doesn't that sound like fun? Yeah, I know you're jealous. Don't hate me...just pass the Extra-Strength Tylenol and I'll see ya in a couple days.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Bit of a wet weekend

But not as much as forecasted, at least not here. I can't speak for the rest of coastal southern California. It's not uncommon for us to have completely different weather from the mainland, sometimes due to being just far enough offshore that the edge of a  storm system will either just graze us or miss us completely. 

'Course the opposite is also true and that slightly brisk and breezy morning they barely noticed from the inside of climate-controlled buildings and standard automobiles lined up on the 405 parking lot was a great big whompin' gale that stopped cross-channel carriers and put our Harbor Patrol officers into overtime battling the churning seas and boats tossed about like toys. So I suppose it's all relative.

I captured of a worthwhile bit of Saturday Sky:

And a few basic chores were completed:

Don't you just love the smell of fresh roasting socks?

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Mama's got a brand new bag

I should take a moment to remind you that I am very easily entertained.  Considering where I live and my current income level - this is a damn good thing.  So it should come as no surprise that getting anything in the mail besides textbooks or cat supplies is just cause for celebration. Especially since Christmas is in the past, and my birthday's still a month away.

But I bought myself an early  birthday present this year:

It's a Baggallini Messenger Bagg. And it is a marvelous thing.  It hangs comfortably on one shoulder like a normal purse would but can also be slung over so the strap runs across your chest.  It has a variety of pockets to stash everything I might carry around town with me and/or take when I head overtown for the day.  The inside of one of those pockets has a pen or pencil loop and a key clip and there's even one of those clever little pockets on the strap for your cell phone.

The bag I've been using for the past several years is a small tan leather backpack I purchased from the leather goods booth at the Sawdust Art Festival.  It was beautiful when it was new and over time it did what good leather is supposed to and acquired more character with age.  Periodically I'd clean it out and wipe it down with a good leather cleaner, even give it a  few weeks off while I tried using a smaller, dainty, girlie looking purse. But I always went back to my old faithful leather bag. Last year one of the zippers finally broke and I was only able to get it replaced with one of a slightly different color.  So...more character, eh?

What finally pushed me over the edge towards buying something new was that the acquisition of that leather bag actually pre-dates my becoming a Knitter.  You know, the "Knitter" being that person who does not leave the house without some sort of knitting project to work on in random moments because for the love of wool, you just know you are going to get stuck somewhere waiting and having that knitting will keep you from murdering that poor bank teller/postal clerk/bus driver*.  

Anyway, I found that even squeezing a sock in progress into that backpack required a certain amount of strategizing of the contents, and I was constantly rearranging the contents everytime I needed to pull something out and put it back.  Not so fun. However, in this bag, the sock in progress gets it's very own pocket! Now how's THAT for giving the knitting a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T?  (Knitting gods, please take note.)

The only thing I still need to figure out is what to do with my camera.  I am one of those people who takes a little digital camera everywhere (seriously, it pays off) and in my old bag there was a perfectly sized pocket with a soft lining, just right for my camera.  Now I have a pocket for it in the new bag, but it looks like it might get knocked around a bit and that's no bueno.

Sure I could buy one of those small padded camera cases but hello, I am a Knitter and you know what that means...I should knit up a camera case!  There are over a dozen patterns on Ravelry and after looking through a few of them I think I should be able to just wing it on this. Right?

I looked through my yarn leftovers from various projects and though initially I thought sock yarn would be good, I've decided to try using the partial ball of Berocco Love It remaining from my Sweaty September Tam.

As you can see, I've got 40 grams and that seems like it ought to be enough to make a little camera pouch. I'm thinking a little 2x2 ribbed tube, seamed at one end and a little flap and fastener at the other.  How hard could that be???

*True story - a few years ago I impulsively hopped aboard one of our bus tours into the interior of the island with my friend Judy, her husband John was driving and guiding the tour.  The bus broke down in one of our dead zone areas where the driver gets no radio signal and there is no cell phone reception. It was summer and there is no A/C on that bus.  I had knitting. Everyone lived.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Neck and neck

At the beginning of January I showed a lineup of what I'd been working on, including the Celtic Cable Neckwarmer that was part of my holiday stealth knitting.  It was made using that well-known knitter's crack - Mmmmmmalabrigo.  And after completing the neckwarmer to my great joy I discovered that I had almost half the skein left over. To make another gift you ask? Uhhh, no. (What are you new here?) To make something for me.

This is Sonia's Ribbed for Your Warmth cowl pattern and it is so soft and snuggly and I just lurve it. I noticed a few months ago when we skipped immediately from summer into winter without enjoying a fall season, that I had a lot of crewneck shirts I never had a chance to wear since I went straight from tank tops to turtlenecks.  Something like this will make a huge difference and now I understand the whole cowl craze.  It really does serve a purpose. I almost want the weather to get cold again so I can wear it. No, strike that. I don't really want it to get cold again. But I know it will and I'm getting ready.

I'm also interested in trying some of the shorter scarves that have become popular. Whether you call them neckwarmers, mini-scarves, or scarflettes, I can see the positive side of just having a short, warm, colorful bit wrapped around your neck without any extra bulk or more importantly, long dangling ends. (Other cat owners are nodding their heads here.) It also seems like a great way to use up one single skein of yummy yarn, when you'd need a few for a long scarf.  So I started this:

My So-Called Pidge, using a skein of Yarn Place Adalie Bulky that I purchased at last year's Stitches West.  I think I'm going to complete all but the buttons, and then shop for those at this year's Stitches West, sew them on in my hotel room, and wear it home. Sounds like a good plan to me!

Monday, January 12, 2009


So there was this thing called an ABC-along wasn't there?  I sorta blew it didn't I?  It's not that I forgot, there were just other more important matters to attend to. Like knitting. And making soup. And furry critters. And fun times with friends.

Over the New Year's holiday I had the great joy of a visit from my good friend D, who I don't get to see nearly often enough anymore. She brought another friend, K.C., and I played hooky from my studies for a few days to run around and play with them.  We drank adult beverages, ate a few excellent meals, took a bus ride up to the airport for lunch, visited with other friends and wandered through other scenic areas of Avalon. Along the way, I decided to grab the last few shots to complete that neglected ABC-along for 2008, and get a start on 2009.


W is for Wrigley Memorial

X marks a spot in the Memorial Gardens

Y is for Yucca elephantipes

Z is for Zane Grey Pueblo Hotel

A is for Airport in the Sky

B is for Buffalo in the fog

So how 'bout that?  I think in the past I got held up on some of the letters because I felt like I had to say something of substance about each picture.  But I'm not going to worry about that anymore, I'll just let the pictures do the talking.

Hopefully there was a little something for everyone, but just in case not, or if you want more, the rest of the eleventy-jillion shots I took are below. Enjoy!

You know you want to!

As I understand it, all across the blogiverse today is considered annual Delurking Day!

I mean, it's not that I mind talking to myself, that's kinda the norm around here.  I can talk to the cats of course, but they aren't exactly sparkling conversationalists - know what I'm sayin? 

When I started this blog over a year ago I had no idea that anyone would ever leave a comment.  That's part of how I came up with the blog name. Not the most original I admit, but it meant something to me.  Basically - here I am, living on this tiny island, surrounded by people who know me but really don't know me. And there you all are...wayyyyyy.....out....there.  I figured I'd just be throwing out little slices of my life & times like messages in a bottle cast out on the ocean.  And maybe if I was lucky enough, someone would pick one up.

And then some people did.  Whether they responded to the knitting projects, stupid stories about my cats, or rants about islander life - I finally knew someone was listening and it gave me a reason to keep going. Since then I've made all sorts of new bloggy friends and have been blessed by their kindness, wit, and wisdom.

So even if you don't usually leave a comment, why not do it just this one time?  I know there are those who comment regularly and others who just do it occasionally when something sparks their interest, but I also know there are those who just cruise by silently.  I'm glad you're here, and I certainly hope you come back again!  But just for today, give a quick hello. If not here, then maybe somewhere else you've never commented before. You could make a much greater impact than you think!

Okay, enough with the insights and the nagging, how about we move on?  Here's what I have to offer...leave a comment and next time I will finally gather up, sort though, and post all the island images I've been meaning to share for the past couple weeks.  Like this one:

Now how's that for a deal?

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Another one bites the dust

I get more joy from advancing those little School Progress bars on the right sidebar that you'd ever believe. On Thursday I went over to the mainland and took the Principles of Marketing CLEP exam, which wipes out another 3 lower level credits, and gives me a reason to mark that bar "100%" and move on forward.

Although my school records the grade on a pass/fail basis, the score I received is the equivalent of a B, which is not too damn shabby considering all I did was read a couple of study guides & memorize all the sample test questions provided. In a week or so, with my academic advisor's approval I'll select another one and add it to the list. Principles of Management? Intro to Sociology?

In the meanwhile, I need to get crackin' on the other courses.  Between the holiday fun and final cramming for the Marketing exam, both Spanish & Ethics have slipped a little but I know from past experience that it'll just take a few days of focused effort to get them back on track. Over the holidays I also added something to replace the stats class I finished in December - "Foundations of Gerontology". Great fun, yes indeedy.  

For reasons that are a mystery to me someone at the school thought it would be a good idea to take two separate reasonably-sized and reasonably-priced softcover textbooks and re-issue them as one great big fat honkin'  hardcover book, (2 1/2 inches thick!), bundle it with a very thin (literally) excuse for a study guide, and charge students a ridiculous amount of money. Oh yeah, that must the the make money.

Silly me.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

A wanderer returns

All in all I had a good holiday season this year, I've put off taking down my lights but I'll probably get to it this weekend.  Over New Year's I had friends visiting and I'll share more on that another day. But on the last day of 2008, there was one very special arrival...

My traveling scarf:

Can I just say - I LOVE this thing! I'd asked for blues, greens, purples - basically ocean colors - and every single knitter respected my wishes, kept their section of the scarf to a fairly even width, wove in their ends and wow, you should see some of the gorgeous stitch patterns and yarns used!

I still have to go through the little notebook that circulated along with the scarf, and match each knitter's notes with their section.  But along with the notebook, like a good little traveler my scarf brought home postcards and some pretty stitchmarkers for souvenirs also. Way to go scarfie!

I added the ending section to match the one I started with, but I still need to block the whole scarf and add fringe from the bits of extra yarn each knitter supplied at my request.  I'll get to that soon.  But I don't want to wait any longer to show this off.

Don't be fooled by this shot, the length is actually perfect:

If I don't want it hanging down, it wraps around nicely to keep my neck and shoulders warm:

I can even duck my face down inside to keep my poor little nose warm:

And obviously the warmth and coziness of this scarf is appreciated by other members of the family as well:


Participating in this Traveling Scarf Project was a very positive experience. Much of the credit for that goes to the other members of the group for their hard work and perseverance, and to our group moderator for keeping us all on track as the months rolled by. I won't do another one right away because I've got too many other things on my plate in the coming months. But I'd definitely do it again sometime in the future and encourage others to give it a try.

Whether you're a knitter or crocheter, beginner, intermediate, or experienced, there's a group for everyone.  Whether you are a smoker or not, have pets or don't, use only vegan yarns or love acrylic, there are others out there too and a potential group waiting. New groups seem to be constantly forming, my group was #9, I think they're up to group #50 by now. So if you're already on Ravelry, check it out! And if you knit, crochet, spin, dye, or do anything with fiber and you're not on Ravelry, well, why not? C'mon in and join the party! 

Monday, January 5, 2009


No, for once this is not about me. (You the back row...I heard you sniggering! Cut that out!) One of the perks of island life is close proximity to the ocean. 'Cause, you know, it's all around you.  But one of the downsides is that life can be very damp.  My little shabby not-so-chic cottage by the sea is a fine example. 

Even when it hasn't rained during the night, in the morning the exterior is sopping wet, the balcony railings dripping, and the wood saturated.  If it's sunny, the morning light hits the roof and you can see the steam rising.  If it's breezy, the wind strips away some of the liquid.  But if neither of these occur, it just stays wet all day. Bleh.

Inside isn't much better.  I learned after the first year to keep my bed several inches away from the wall (about one cat width, as we measure it here), allowing airflow prevents mold from building up between the bed and the wall.  Yes, I realize how disgusting that sounds, thankyouverymuch. I invest heavily in all sorts of products to try and battle mold & mildew, the kind with the little crystals seems to work best. I run fans, open windows, leave lights on, you name it.

I looked into buying one of those electric dehumidifiers and you know what I found?  They are kinda pricey!  I've used a humidifier before, years ago when I lived in a completely different climate (obviously), and somehow I thought it would be much the same in price.  Apparently not.  I know, I know, there are practical reasons why it costs more, the device works differently, I get that.  But just take a minute and think about it - it actually costs more to suck water out of the air than it does to put it in! Interesting, eh? (Or maybe that's just me.)

This year there seems to be a new twist.  Suddenly, closet and cabinet doors are not closing properly.  I can only guess that the damp has swelled the wood a bit, because the latches are working, they just don't line up quite as precisely as they used to.  They're just a little bit off. ( in the back row...quit your sniggering!)

I first discovered this when I walked into the bathroom and found the cat nestled comfortably in a stack of (formerly) clean white towels inside the linen cabinet.  The shelf below bore further evidence of her explorations.  At the time, I assumed I had left the cabinet open, kicked myself, and then kicked the cat out of the cabinet. Kitties are not allowed inside cabinets and most definitely not in closets.  My closets are scary places, and as much as an adventurous feline might like to go in there, the chances of getting it back out are not so good.  My bedroom closet is bad enough, but the one in my living room has been likened to Fibber McGee's closet.

However, I am not THAT absent-minded (okay, back row, this is your last warning! Don't make me pull this car over!) and repeat occurrences led me to investigate further.  I noticed that when I closed the cabinet door as usual, the interior latch didn't quite "catch" and left that way, would pop open shortly after.  Mystery solved.  Thus far, applying a little more force to the cabinet door seems to ensure that it stays closed, and the contents safe from curious kitties.

Then the other night I was tossing and turning, trying to get to sleep. I had a lot on my mind and it was one of those nights when every little sound catches your attention. I could hear the bedside clock ticking, a bathroom washcloth dripping, the kitchen refrigerator humming, and all of it drove me nuts.  I could also hear my cat, mooching around the living room, playing with this toy and that. (Or so I thought.) Not uncommon and not objectionable, experience has taught me that unless she is within sight, it's when she gets really quiet that something really bad is about to happen.  The really bad is usually made evident by a sudden really loud noise, and this time was no exception.  Just as I was finally drifting off....CRASH!

When a creature that small makes that big of a ruckus, it must be investigated immediately.  However, the investigation will go much more smoothly if lights are turned on and eyeglasses are located. I'm just sayin'. Having done that and gathered my wits about me I ventured into the living room to discover that the door to my living room closet was open, and while I lay in bed a certain fluffy feline had boldly gone where none had gone before.  Her foray into the mysterious depths of my living room closet could have gone on all night, had she been able to leap from the upper shelf without bringing the contents of the shelf down with her.  I'm sure she will learn from her mistake, and future stealth missions will be attempted.

For that night, I placed a heavy object in front of the door. One that was too much for even a determined little critter like mine to budge.  And in the morning I could see that the problem with this closet is the same as the cabinet, and I'll need to shove it closed just a little harder. Okay I can handle that.  But here's the thing - I've lived here for several years now, and this is the first winter that this phenomenon has taken place.  And this particular winter has not been any more wet than any other, in fact, we have not even started the rainy season yet.  Traditionally the bulk of our rainy days occur in February and March.  So I have to wonder, will this get worse?

Living alone as I do, there is no one to question the placing of a brick in front of a closet door, or bungee cords on cabinet handles.  It's purely up to me to decide if I wish to endure these minor inconveniences in order to keep Destruct-O-Kitty from wreaking havoc inside these places. Because I can only think of one other thing I could do, and I'm not sure I want to go there, but if there's no other latches.

As I've said so many times before, this is a really, really, microscopically small town. Even if I walk into the hardware store wearing a skin tight top and jeans, the purchase of just one such item could have me preggers throughout the community by nightfall. So if I do this, I shall have to either buy them online, or pick some up when I'm overtown.

The irony of a child-free person like me shopping for and installing devices intended to prevent babies from getting into places they shouldn't does not escape me.  Yes, thank you I get it. But would it be too much to ask for a dry winter this year?

Oh yeah, that would mean water rationing this summer...
Dammit, I just cannot win.

Friday, January 2, 2009

The Finished Objects Parade

Yesterday many of us indulged in watching the 120th Annual Tournament of Roses Parade. Over the years whether I've spent New Year's Eve out with friends, working, or just on my couch, I've found that it's my favorite way to spend a lazy morning on the first day of the new year.  I especially love that when you are watching it on television from the comfort of your own home (as opposed to those crazy folks shivering on the sidelines of the parade route or even worse, traveling down the street IN the parade) you don't actually have to get up and watch it from the start, because after it's broadcast live the first time, a half a dozen television stations will play it throughout the day, one even just loops it over and over.  So if you missed the start, just keep watching until you've seen the same float or band twice - and then you know you've seen it all!

Today, I present (what I hope to be much more than annual) The Finished Objects Parade!

First up is the Prescription Palindrome Hat:

So named because my brain was just fried studying for those stat exams and I needed something simple, fun, and colorful.  Which this definitely is!  It is also incredibly warm and comfortable.  The pattern is excellent and I enjoyed making it so much that I might actually knit another one, probably in a solid, more practical color.

Next up - my Noro scarf:

Knitted with a skein of Noro Iro I received as a contest prize, in the Check-ed Neck-ed Scarf pattern.  Very simple again, but the basic alternating blocks of knit and purl really show off the yarn well, allowing the more "organic" nature of Iro and the stunning Noro colors to be displayed to their best.  It needs a tad bit of gentle blocking, but that's going to have to wait for a sunny day.

And now, what you've really been waiting for...(insert drumroll here)...Holiday Stealth Knitting! Knits that never made it onto the blog, or even my Ravelry projects notebook.

Way back in September (now how's that for stealthy?) I joined a knit-a-long for doing a felted cloche hat pattern, Flowers on a Grave:

As you can see if you clicky the linky above, the pattern calls for a knit flower to be added, but I decided I liked it better without.  I used a skein of Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride given to me by Jamie, another hat knitter and my beloved assassin from Hat Attack 1. (She loved me killing me so much she actually did it again in the second game, even though I wasn't playing!  Now that's what I call true dedication to the sport of murder by knitwear.) This was my first felting experience and a positive one all around.  Since I don't have a washing machine, I felted it by hand in the kitchen sink, which went quite well.  Except that I can tell you that what you don't want to be doing during a heat wave is vigorously churning something in a basin of hot soapy water!  Definitely a cold weather/winter activity - which means I should probably knit another one (or two or three) quite soon!

In November I knitted up a Celtic Cable Neckwarmer

Using that well-known knitter's crack, Malabrigo.  If you've tried it you know, and if you haven't, well...all I can say is this the yarn that makes you want to run away and have an affair with it. Forget about the milkman, or that hunky UPS guy, just get yourself a hank of Malabrigo and ride off into the sunset together.  Between the cables and the yarn, I just may declare this the most awesomely gorgeous thing I have ever knit.  The moment I was done I wanted to do another one immediately. 

Finishing it though was a tad trickier than I'd expected.  I had thought I'd be going over to the mainland sometime in the month of December, and could easily take the neckwarmer with me to shop for buttons.  But between one thing and another, I stayed on-island all month, and as it got closer and closer to Christmas I started feeling a little desperate.  I didn't have high hopes for our one little local craft store, what buttons they had were old and jumbled up in one basket. But I gave it a shot and for my time sitting on the floor in the back of the shop sifting through the entire basket I was rewarded:

Are those not the best?  Exactly what I had in mind! There wasn't anything else even close and having been through the entire stock now, I will definitely be stocking up on buttons during my next few trips to the mainland.

And finally, in December, my last bit of holiday knitting:

Yes, it's bug. A dragonfly to be exact. I'd seen it on Ravelry a while back and had in the back of my head as an ideal little Christmas prezzie for a friend who likes bugs.  It's made from a very long, long piece of I-cord and knotted like macrame.  The original pattern showed it with beads strung onto the I-cord for eyes, but I didn't have any beads large enough so I sewed a couple on afterwards.

Which I think came out looking just fine! I think it'd be fun to do a bunch more of these, using a thinner and brightly colored yarn (sock yarn leftovers?) but I-cord is so mind-numbing I'll put that idea on the back burner until sometime in the future when I can buy one of those little I-cord maker machines.

Phew! So that brings me up to date.  I've got a couple other items close to completion but hey, it's a new year and that means new projects!  So what should I cast on next???