31 December 2007

WIP monday

Knitmoka gave me this lovely sock yarn for the new year. I took it right down to the yarn shop and learned how to use the complicated ball-winder at last. To alleviate some of the look-how-small-that-yarn-is jitters, I also bought some of the fattest yarn I have ever seen -- I balled it by hand last night, and the thing is nearly as big as my head!

I made some little fabric play blocks for a baby in the wings, and I am still working on butterfly PJs for my elder niece. I hope to get a lot done on those tomorrow -- I had to stop working on them until I fetched some interfacing and pregathered trim.
It feels like I've been busy with crafts, but I don't seem to have a lot to show for it. I guess these days I am just considering myself lucky to be the only person I know not to have gotten a cold (yet).

dollars and cents

In my daily life, I collect all the discarded money I reasonably can. Pennies mostly, of course, usually on the sidewalk, at the a store checkout counte, the airport floor. When I was 16, I started collecting the pennies in memory of my late grandmother --- a sort of teenaged idea of being profound. In fond childhood memories, she had helped me with my math skills by rewarding successful rounds of flashcards with pennies (nickels for the harder ones). The habit stuck into adulthood, and about four years ago, I decided to keep track of my annual haul by keeping all of the coins I found (and rarely folding money) in a change bowl separate from the regular change bowl, and then count it up at the end of the year. I have developed quite a game at it -- setting rules and guidelines. My friend Matt plays along now, and we have even come to have moral discussions about the pennies (afterall, what would your mother do?). I admit, I get a little obsessive about it from time to time -- I find myself scanning the floor at the grocery store, nearly to the point of being rude to those around me. Not to mention that I probably look mighty suspicious to the guy watching security camera footage.

My first year, I collected something like three dollars, and then six the next year. Last year, I believe I had something like ten dollars. This year though, I found forty dollars in a crosswalk on my birthday, which brings my final collection* to (drum roll, please)......$50.37
Happy New Year!!
* One of the rules is that I don't have to place the exact coinage that I find into the annual haul bowl (i.e.: if I find a dime, I can put ten pennies from my regular change bowl into the annual haul bowl), so providing a breakdown of the coins spread before me on the floor as I write this wouldn't be accurate, but I will say that this figure includes a ten Euro cent piece (and applying the current exchange rate of 1 EUR = 1.45964 USD), no Canadian coins (surprising, considering where I live), and it does not include the two novelty stretched pennies I found (one bearing the likeness of a sea otter from the Oregon Coast Aquarium, the other with the ten commandments in teeny tiny letters).

25 December 2007

winter holiday: part 3

Eric and myself at Fort Point, San Francisco
While we were in the bay area, we visited old friends, saw A Tuna Christmas (a silly play where two guys play all 20-odd parts, it is, it is), walked all over San Francisco, saw more friends, and went to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. I've always liked the aquarium, but I do believe that it just gets better and better. Jellies, Mola mola (aka: Sunfish), a great white shark and hammerheads, flounder, bat rays, decorator crabs (love those guys), snowy plovers and of course, the sea otters! Then the long drive back to Seattle, via Shasta Lake City, where we stayed overnight with friends. I am sad that I forgot to take pictures of all of these friends I just mentioned.... oh well.

The Golden Gate Bridge was feeling especially photogenic on Friday, and I took full advantage...

Jellies and Mola mola at Monterey Bay Aquarium
Part of our mission this trip was to haul back to Seattle some furniture that my parents acquired in Maryland: a bench, an area rug and a dresser. The latter two fit into the car, but the bench had to go on top of the car, wrapped in a pair of big black garbage bags. Inside the bags, supported by the upsidedown bench, we also nestled some boxes with dishes and towels. With those boxes at one end of the bench, and the bags taped securely all over, the load resembled a blocky human figure: torso, legs and feet. We saw more than one smiling face in a passing car window, apparently amused with our load. The bench now resides in our mud/sun room (depending on what season it is), the dresser will go in our second bedroom, which we are furnishing into a guest room, and the area rug is in the living room, already replete with white Finn hair (and black too, I suppose, though you can't see that).

Eric is working today, and Finn has been asleep nearly all day, finally on his own, after eleven days sharing the canine spotlight with at least one other dog. So after a five-mile sunrise walk, I've been cleaning the house, restocking the fridge and writing thank you cards, while it snowed for several hours.

I hope you and your family are happy and warm this holiday season -- and my best wishes to you in the new year!

22 December 2007

winter holiday: the soundtrack

Characters: Three dogs, Finn, Maggie and Lucky. One person, name irrelevant.
Setting: the kitchen.

Person: Finn. Lucky. Maggie. Sit. Lucky. Maggie. Sit. Finn. Sit. Maggie. Sit. Lucky. Sit. Sit. Siiit. Finn. Maggie. Maggie. Maggie. Lucky. Sit. Sit. Finn. Sit. Maggie. Sit. Maggie. Lucky. Lucky. Sit. Finn. Sit. Finn. Finn. Lucky. Maggie. Sit. Siiit. No, I said Maggie. Maggie, Sit. Sit. Sit. Maggie. Finn. Lucky. Sit

Finn: Bark!

Person: <groans> No!

Maggie, Lucky & Finn: Barkbarkbarkbarkbarkbarkbarkbarkbarkbarkbarkbarkbarkbarkbark

Person: Dogs! Dogs! Dogs! Maggie! Lucky! Finn! Maggie. Sit. Finn. Lucky. Maggie. Sit. Maggie. Maggie. Lucky. Sit.

20 December 2007

winter holiday: part 2

We left Seattle on Friday night: I had packed up the car much later than I'd planned, because the clothes dryer developed a lint clog and wouldn't dry the laundry in the anticipated timeframe. So in the dark and the rain, I packed up Finn's crate, our luggage, gifts and dog food, headed south to pick up Eric from work, and we headed out from there. I drove us from Seattle past Portland to Wilsonville, where we stayed the night. Finn was quite funny running around the room crouched low to the floor and sniffing everything.

Eric did his homework earlier and the week and had indentified off-leash parks for us to run Finn around in Wilsonville and Roseburg in Oregon, and Redding and Sacramento in California. The dog park in Wilsonville is a work in progress and was covered in mud -- not just wet soil, but that kind of mud that cakes and creates little snowshoes around your feet. Slippery and really fun to watch the dog slide around in. It was a good thing we brought an extra towel for Finn.

The rest of the trip was largely uneventful, except that we found that Finn--who otherwise seems to have gotten over his carsickness--really hates windy roads. I-5 over the Siskiyous had him panting and shaking, but not actually sick, fortunately. We pulled over in Hilt, California, to let Finn walk off his queasiness, but as soon as we hit the road again, Eric discovered three deer ticks on Finn, and one on himself. So we pulled off at the next exit for a tick check. None found this time, but in Redding, we picked up a flea comb, a concoction designed to calm the dog down, and some extra treats.

We drove through Sacramento (and nearly vomited at all of the new development in the north end, where we used to live), and veered to the east, towards the Sierra foothills. We travelled the historic Highway 49 through the foothills, then highway 4 to Arnold, our final destination, after some 14 hours on the road.

We rolled in late, but Zoe was waiting for us the next morning. She loved her new sushi pants!
A nice relaxing weekend was had by all... games of multiple solitaire, Booby Trap (below) and play with the baby....

Family tradition is to have dungeoness crab for christmas dinner, after which we opened gifts and generally sat around, fat and happy.

We headed for the bay area on Tuesday so Zoe and her parents could catch the red-eye to Boston. But first, Eric and Finn and I headed uphill to catch some serious snow time... It was Finn's first time bounding through more than the occassional three inches we get in Seattle...

He loved it. Can you tell?

winter holiday: part 1

I know you're supposed to love all of your Christmas gifts equally, but I am especially enamored of this one from my sister:

BlarneyYarn is the yarn shop of a friend of my sister's. She handdyed this yarn according to my sister's specificiations, just for me! And there's some roving (wool that's just waiting to become yarn) and a drop spindle -- the trials and tribulations of my learning how to use it will no doubt provide much blog fodder. I can't wait!

09 December 2007

WIP Monday

The term paper is nearly done! Fill in a few blanks, get my references in order, add a photograph here, a map of Golden Gate Park there, and voila! A term paper! I think it's pretty good, too! Now to study for the exam....

But since you can't just work on a term paper all weekend, I finished this scarf yesterday....

And not a moment too soon, because it is going to be chilly today!

And as is usual for this time of year, the crafting table is a pig sty....

tiny success!

When I finally got the tiny pants to have a right leg and a left leg (who knew knickers were so complicated?), I was so thrilled, I do what everyone does to celebrate: I put the tiny pants on the dog....

04 December 2007

wish list

I thought I was going to ask for nothing this holiday season.... I'm not sure how long I thought that would last.

so if anyone has $50 burning a hole in their pocket, I found something I want.....

03 December 2007

WIP monday

The weekend was a good craft weekend for me. I worked on the tiny pants for tiny people (for the two daughters of a friend)....

these tiny pants are nearly done....

and this was a pair of tiny pants, but had to be disassembled and restarted....

winter solstice cards are in production....

and of course, the term paper....

rain day

My office building was evacuated this morning due to the storm we're in. What's more, I have a carpoolmate who works in the call center of an area energy provider. She had been expecting to work late tonight due to the storm, but that building was evacuated too! So don't expect a prompt answer when you call to report an outage tonight!

I am always torn on what to do when I end up at home due to weather conditions (snow , ice and and wind storms in both Portland and Seattle). I didn't have time to prepare any work to bring home, which would have been my normal plan, so here I am, lunched (on the aforementioned leftover stuffing) and with a mug of tea, tempted to curl up with a book or some knitting.... but my term paper isn't exactly writing itself, either.

here are a couple of photos from Northwest Cable News website of flooding near my office...

totem lake area near kirkland, no photo credit, collected from nwcn.com

woodinville flooding, photo by Bob Brothers, collected from nwcn.com

ps: what did I end up doing with my free afternoon? I fell into a vortex of unlabelled photos on my computer. they're all labelled now, though not any more organized. I thought I'd been at it for just 30 minutes or so when Eric came home...

02 December 2007

stitch 'n' botch

d'oh! instead of a right leg and a left leg, my tiny pants featured a front leg and a back leg....

stormy weather

Don't know why, there's no sun up in the sky
Stormy weather, since my man and I ain't together
Keeps raining all the time

I'm not nearly as sad as the song implies -- I just thought it was fitting since it has been raining and snowing all weekend (we saw about three inches at our house yesterday), and Eric did work all weekend, so I really didn't see him much.

But I made the most of it. On Saturday, I worked on some tiny pants for tiny people, and when I realized that I had screwed one one pair up royally, I decided to remove myself from the vicinity of the sewing machine and the window it sits next to and hole up in the library for awhile to work on my term paper (whose deadline was generously postponed by a week).

Between the library and going home to get ready for the events of the next paragraph, I stopped at the fabric store for some braided elastic. The fabric store is located in a local strip mall in a busy retail district. The strip mall building is two stories, with stores on both stories. As I was walking up to the doors of the fabric store, I was hit by a snowball thrown from the second story, square on my uncovered neck. Very annoyed and quite ticked off, I cursed under my breath, and quickly resolved to not give any acknowledgement at all. I figured it was some pre-teen or teen aged kid, either seeking, or at least expecting, some sort of response, and I'll be damned if they were going to get that from me. I warned a couple of shoppers inside the store of the overhead pest as I scooped slushy snow out of my collar. Not horribly upset, I was nonetheless cheered when I crossed paths with a friend from work before I left the store.

Come evening, it was time to go see Stuart McLean and the Vinyl Cafe (often called the Canadian Prairie Home Companion [but better, in my opinion]). I met Eric downtown in the freezing slushy dark (they opened they show: "well, this is the type of weather you get when a bunch of Canadians come into town!"). The music was fine (especially the piano solo--the type where an extremely talented pianist blends about thirty well-known pieces into a ten minute frenetic piece. I love those), but for me, the Vinyl Cafe has always been about the story telling, and Mr McLean did not disappoint! He's a bit jumpier than I had imagined though....

Sunday was largely a repeat of Saturday (working on those same tiny pants, except here all the work was to be done with the seam ripper instead of the sewing machine. I settled onto the couch with my book on CD from the library (Atonement by Ian McEwan) and my coffee. Seems ripped, but not wanting to stop listening to the CD, I got started on the Winter Solstice cards. I got the prototype finalized and got some of the pieces put together before I was distracted into making other sorts of cards (sympathy, birthday, thank yous and blank notecards). During that activity, I concluded that I am going to hang up card making. I have been considering this for years -- between jewelry making (beading and metalwork), quilting/sewing and knitting, and oh yeah, non-craft activities, cardmaking might just be one too many hobbies. For about a year, I have planned to dedicate a weekend to a massive card making marathon, using up all of the supplies I already have, developing a huge backlog of cards, and then finding a good home for the remaining supplies (rubber stamps, mostly, but also papers, stamp pads, an embossing tool, scissors, and various ephemera). I still think that would be a grand idea, but in one year, I haven't found one weekend in which to actually do it, so I am beginning to wonder if it wouldn't be better to just hand all the stuff over to someone else now and be done with it? Anyone need a shoebox full of rubber stamps?

The other thing of note that I did today was that I cooked a pared down Thanksgiving dinner on a whim. Delicious as our Thanksgiving dinner was, I know Eric loves the traditional turkey, dressing, cranberry relish, potatoes, green beans and pumkin pie dinner. Though I'd gone to the store for only a few things, I left with the makings for a two-person feast. I substituted cornish game hens for an actual turkey, made Grand Central Bakery dressing, cranberry relish with orange, green beans almondine and two pumpkin pies. We will not discuss how I was a little miffed when Eric came home, immediately praised how good the house smelled (I had told him that I was making him a special dinner), and upon being introduced to each of the dishes, asked "where are the mashed potatoes?" Besides, it was all quite good, and for once in Thanksgiving dinner history, there is leftover dressing instead of leftover white meat, which is a much preferable situation in my book.