Wednesday, April 29, 2009

National Poetry Month

This is the first time that I have blogged about poetry because, true confession, I used to be a poetry agnostic. I read some poetry Valerie posted on her blog and was really taken by it. She send me some poems and poet suggestions, and I realized that I just hadn't been reading the right poets. At her suggestion I started with Mary Oliver and have been reading poetry ever since. I meant to start this month with poetry, so instead will leave it, and you, with Ted Kooser, my current favorite poet.

The Constellation Orion

I’m delighted to see you,
old friend,
lying there in your hammock
over the next town.
You were the first person
my son was to meet in the heavens.
He’s sleeping now,
his head like a small sun in my lap.
Our car whizzes along in the night.
If he were awake, he’d say,
“Look, Daddy, there’s Old Ryan!”
but I won’t wake him.
He’s mine for the weekend,
Old Ryan, not yours.

I love the humor and tender father in that poem and the following poem, I love for it's imagery.

Old Soldiers' Home

On benches in front of the Old Soldiers' Home,
the old soldiers unwrap the pale brown packages
of their hands, folding the fingers back
and looking inside, then closing them up again
and gazing off across the grounds, safe with the secret.

I hope one of these connects with you. I've discovered that poetry is like music, if it doesn't resonate, then it's not pleasurable.

Reading: Olive Kitteridge, Elizabeth Strout (Pulitzer Prize for Fiction 2009)

Listening: Temple, Tombs and Hieroglyphs: a popular history of Ancient Egypt by Barbara Mertz (who also writes under the names of Barbara Michaels and Elizabeth Peters, a nom de plume derived from the names of her two children.)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

First Blooms of Spring

The first blooms of Spring come from the Desert Peach. They have just started to bud in this last week. I've been without my Cool-Pix since shortly after vacation as I left my charger in one of the five places we stayed. Ian ordered me another one but it took four weeks to get here from Hong Kong. It's nice to have my old friend back and I took it on our walk this morning. As I told DD Chris, walk applies to me. The dogs run insanely after rabbits and rabbits imagined.
Everything has to struggle to survive in the hostile environ-
ment of the high desert. Look at this closeup and check out those nasty barbs. I don't know if their small peach-like fruit is edible but what bird would want to find out?!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

My Day Off

Tom felt sorry for our pathetic attempts to dig tree holes and came down with his backhoe and quickly provided us a place to plant our two new Austrian pines from Costco. We had been scraping and soaking for days. He said, "This is my shovel" and dropped right through the hardpan. There's good stuff underneath. As you can see in the background, our boys are still not sheared.

Ian wheeled up a load of llama poo. It lives up to its reputation and is why we don't have piles of it everywhere. Friends drive out to get it for their yards and gardens. It breaks down into this crumbly richness.
So our attempt at a windbreak has now moved to seven trees. The "topiary" pine tree used to be a promising pine until about two Januarys ago when the snow stood at a foot on the ground all month, and the starving rabbits ate up as far as they could reach. We have three of these Charlie Brown trees and I hope the new ones will have more success.

We worked in the yard all morning to get these guys in the ground and get the garden turned. Ian got his potatoes in. At one point Sammi heard her boys and ran to the end of our driveway, but it was to see the Ross family driving away in a succession of trucks, moving out. I wish them the best and am so glad that they've entrusted us with their dog.
I took Valerie's advice and added another color, green since it was already a thread in the stripe. She suggested navy, but I don't have any navy. Valerie, did you mean a stripe or a whole towel?!

I'm comparing the two, and of course, they will look different when washed, but I'm thinking that the last two towels will be the same tabby as the first - no green. I don't know, but I think the next towels on this loom will be pinwheel in color and weave.

What I do know after planting trees for hours and then weaving for another hour is that every muscle in my back and legs aches as if I had just attended my first exercise class. I don't need to pay no stinkin' gym fee.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Always Learning

I have finished my first towel in tabby and have now started the second towel in rosepath. I threaded for rosepath and at first was really excited at the interlacements, but I have to say that in all honesty, I like the tabby better. That's a bad sign that I'm not going to be a good complex weaver. I have two more towels to go and that's too many purples to go. What was I thinking??

This is what Spring looks like in the high desert. Lots of wind, lots of clouds, not much green. We do have a lot of birds passing through right now and our bird seed bill is through the roof. We had goldfinch visiting today, yay - and blackbirds, boo hiss.
I took this picture from the very same place a while ago and what I want you to notice is the dark lump in the foreground. That's where our llamas go to poo. Llamas always poo in the same spot and it makes it easier to clean up. When I went to our County website to see our parcel from space, I was surprised to see a dark spot behind the house. I was only a couple clicks away from discovering that our llama poo is visible by satellite.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Earth Day Trashion Fashion Show

Warning - this is a grand-
daughter heavy post. Alexia's University preschool has been getting to participate in the Earth Day Trashion Fashion Show for the last month. She is cleaning out the inside of a potato chip bag, which will become the fabric of her garment.

Hammering is required to connect pieces to other pieces and make holes to attach things like bottle caps.

Things that can't be tied on have to be glued on. Glue guns are hot and require serious concentration, as well as the supervision of a teacher.

Everything is attached but last minute adjustments are required. Artistic license perhaps - a bottle cap here and shiny bit here.

And then there's the moment of truth. Does it all actually fit? It has to. Potato chip bags can't be let out - they have no seams!

And the true final moment of truth - the runway. Do the judges like it? Mommy teaches belly dancing at the community college and I have seen this pose and expression many times, but I am completely taken by how it translates to my four-year-old granddaughter. I'm sad to say, I was at work and had to miss it and am deeply grateful for the miracles of digital photography.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

And so

Buster absolutely loves his Sammi. Grand-daughter Sissy and I have decided to her spell her name Samm - with an i. She says it's "cool." It's a fact that hunting and herding dogs fight - ssh, please don't tell these two.

They play like this without end and then lay side by side in the sun when they're done. Eddie, not pictured, came to us because he was fighting with the labs on his horse ranch. He loves this lab and we don't pretend to understand.
Eddie however has his own sleeping arrange-
ment, i.e., he sleeps alone. Buster has agreed or submitted to share his berth. Poor Buster. His roommate, whether a cat or a lab, is a bed hog.
I thought this little bit of spinning results was of interest. I only own one knitty knotty so skein all my yarn onto it. It's an Ashford and I believe that it provides me with yarn in one yard results. The lighter yarn is Lincoln, i.e., s-crimp wool, and the brown is Corriedale, a medium-crimp wool. I always full my yarns because I don't like surprises in my knitted results. Look at the differences in the fulled results.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Egg Hunt

Where do you hide Easter eggs in this high desert? You hide them where you can. There were about 250 eggs to hide for five children. Does this look like desperation? You absolutely have to click for big.

How about this? Where do you hide Easter eggs when the places to hide simply don't present themselves.

How subtle is this? Since nothing is growing, hiding places are limited, or not.

Keep in mind that the children are relegated to the upstairs until they get the say-so. The anticipation builds, they burst from the house and the hunt is on. The year it snowed and they had to hunt in the house - well, the dogs are still traumatized. The dads hide the eggs and it's not easy, but the kids don't care. Just open the door~

Do you not love dads hiding Easter eggs.

Moms took charge of egg dyeing on the deck.

Alexia loves to have her picture taken. She is going to participate in the University's "Trashion" show next Tuesday for Earth Day. She attends preschool at the University. I wish I could show you the drawing she made of her dress, which is on my phone and not here - oh well. She has completed it, all from recycled objects. Her teachers have practiced runway techniques, can you tell? I uploaded this Easter set to my Flickr account and I emailed to all of our family. The most views any picture had was four, until Alexia. This last shot garnered 25 views! Her parents are in trouble, but they already know that.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

What I'm Knitting Now

This knitted piece of geometry is my newest incarn-
ation of the Sonnet sweater from Knitty. There are so many online resources for knitters that sometimes I feel overwhelmed, and I always seem to come back to Knitty. I showed the yarn for this in a blog last year. It's from a sweater that had languished in a drawer that I unraveled, rewashed, reskeined and put it into balls where it has remained until now.

It was during the height of my moth infesta-
tion and this sweater had exper-
ienced quite a bit of munching. I discovered while knitting that the munching was considerably more that I had first realized. I have so many ends to tie in. It's like all the ends in a Kaffe Fassett sweater but without all the color. I do think it's going to worth it. The yarn is a triple-plied moorit Border Leicester-cross that I dyed in a vat of teal when Laura still lived in Reno, so that had to be ten years ago. The teal-over-brown produces wonderful depths of color. But there are so many ends to tie, and by the time I've knitted the two sleeves....ugh. I've decided to make it my last knitted sweater while employed, so it had better be good. I got my retirement date yesterday - June 21st. That's when I start eating beans and rice.
I always listen to the podcast of the NPR show, Wait Wait Don't Tell Me on my drive home from work on Tuesday nights. It's my hardest day at work and thus my most tired drive home, plus today it snowed all the way in this morning. I can't listen to the show and not laugh, but that's just me. This show concluded with a group of Ravelry Knitters in the crowd. This is Mo Rocca. It seems that on an earlier episode he had said he never wears homemade sweaters because they are too itchy. They presented him with this sweater they had knitted to prove otherwise. Obviously, it's a radio show so I didn't see it, but they posted it to the website. Ravel on!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Good Good Friday

I woke up Good Friday morning to snow. Our family celebrates Easter at our house - no specific reason other than tradition. By the time I finished breakfast, the snow had turned into rain and it lasted all day. I loved it - rain here is so rare. I started a warp and was able to open the window in my studio and listen to the birds. They loved the rain too.

By evening, the storm had blown over and the sun was making a last minute appearance. I had already resigned myself to an indoor Easter egg hunt. My friend Jerry said to hide them in the refrigerator; they'd never to think to look for them there - funny boy. He just landed in Taipei, five more hours to go to Indonesia. Not so funny.

I don't know what possessed me to put on these colors. I think I'll have to plead under-the-influence of Easter. These colors are almost liturgical. I also have yellow and green yarns - either one would have been a better complement than the periwinkle.
I started weaving on it this morning while waiting for family to arrive. I've discovered a threading error which is pretty apparent in tabby, but the other three towels will be in rosepath, and I'm hoping it won't be so obvious. I can't do anything about the purple. These towels are, well, liturgical.

Family came, we had an absolutely terrific afternoon and now they are all at son Josh's house for the evening. It was all planned on Facebook. All our kids are on Facebook and half the time I log on is to just read the crazy dialogues they have. We have funny children. Tomorrow the gig is here.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

What's on Your Nightstand?

I enjoyed my last three reads so thought I'd share them with you. My poor night-
Sing Them Home by Stephanie Kallos was one of those books that you just hate to end, and by the way, her debut novel, Broken for You, is now translated into ten languages. I loved when I read it and later my book club read it and they loved it as well.
This most recent book is set in a small Nebraska town where Welch immigrants have continued with their customs and language. It opens with the missing mother, whose diary reveals her life with progressing MS and makes her one of the major characters. We see a family of three adult children finally coming to terms with their lives, their parents and their place in the world. I wish there would be a sequel, but I wished that for the first one too.
I really enjoyed Ruth Reichl's first autobiography, Tender at the Bone, about growing up Jewish in New York. I missed her best-selling second book, Comfort Me with Apples, but just finished her third, Garlic and Sapphires, about her years as the New York Times food critic and about the disguises she had to wear to be able to eat at four-star restaurants without being recognized. Her husband and son often are her restaurant companions, and there are plenty of dining experiences and crazy characters. I didn't realize that a critic often eats at a restaurant a half dozen times before finally writing a review, all paid for by their employer. It was laugh-out-loud funny with some cooking tips and recipes tossed in the mix.
The third book, Life's a Beach, by Clarie Cook was simply a quick and quirty romp, not unlike Bridget Jone's Diary. She is also the author of Must Love Dogs, and if you saw the movie (I didn't), you have an idea of her sense of humor. It impresses the heck out of me that she wrote that book in her minivan outside her daughter's swim practice at five in the morning.
Ginger, the protagonist, is finally coming of age at the age of, oh, 41. Living in an apartment over her parents' garage, she's faced with life changing decisions when they put the house on the market. Her sister hires her to be her nephew Riley's guardian during the filming of a movie being shot on location. He is precicious and funny and soon catches the director's eye, just as the gaffer's catches hers. It's a boy-meets-girl, okay, man-meets-woman story, but unpredictable enough to keep it interesting and definately funny. Don't miss the Users Guide to the Fun, Feisty & Fabulous after the end.
So - what's on your nightstand??

Monday, April 06, 2009

Foster Dog No More

Sammy has dug under our fence to spend the day with our dogs for over a year now. We have jokingly called her our foster dog, since she has spent the night in our house since Christmas. I had just walked into the house yesterday after an afternoon at my daughter's house, when the phone rang. Hi, this is Ron - we need to talk about the dog. My heart sank. He sounded angry and I figured he was going to want his dog back. I couldn't have been more wrong.

He was calling to see if we wanted to adopt Sammy. They are walking away from their house - his salary with the State of Nevada has been reduced yet again and they just cannot afford to stay here. He explained their plans and I applaud him for shepherding his family to an livable solution. Many men would walk at this point. He loves it out here and I know how much this is costing him emotionally. He was relieved that we wanted to take his dog. This is the second time in one week that I've had to put a face to this recession.

Last Friday we went to a little gathering - one of my DS Josh's friends Jerrry has had a turn of fortune. His company, which grinds lenses for our eye glasses, has determined that to stay economincally competitive, they have to relocate their U.S. plants to Indonesia. They're retained Jerry to asssist in the transition, and when it is done in November, he gets to look for a new job. Sobering.

Sunday, April 05, 2009


Warning. Grand-
child heavy content. We babysat last night. It was kind of last minute, but one of Chrissie's friends was in town and I knew how much she wanted to see her. Papa wanted to watch the NCAA games so I set up a "fort" under the dining room table to let the kids watch a "mobie" on my laptop.

The movie soon wore off on Lexie - no music, nothing pink or purple and too much noise - so she came to show me her stretches. I have no idea what this is supposed to be but it does seem to have a purpose.
She said she needed to finish her stretches by medi-
tating, accom-
panied by the hum "ommmm." She goes to the accelerated preschool at at the University but I'm sure this isn't part of the currculum.
Somehow the meditation moved into a display of her martial arts prowess. She's four years old and I'm scratching my head - where does this stuff come from?! She marches to her own drummer. I guess all kids do.
And just as suddenly as the display began, it ended with a bow and konichiwa . I asked her what that means and she said, "Hello Master." Ian grew up in the Japanese Gardenia, California, and said it actually means, "Good afternoon." Brother's movie was over and it was bedtime.

A story and then lights out, amiable chatter from small children and then suddenly silence. I went up to check on them to find that exhaustion had prevailed. They sleep just as hard as they play.

Thursday, April 02, 2009


I weighed my skeins. There's 7.4 ounces of Bluefaced Leicester here. You've asked me what my plans are for it and honestly, since it's for my stepdaugher Shazzy, I haven't given any thought to how I would use it. She has asked me to please give her some handspun yarn forever, and I'm sorry that it has taken me this long. She is a wonderfully talented artist. It will be a pleasure to see how she uses this.
I was grabbing up my stuff in a big hurry because I wanted to mail the yarn on my way to work. I just couldn't resist this picture and had to put everything down in order to have two hands. I love my little camera but sometimes it gets me in trouble. I emailed Shazzy to watch for her little package because mail delivery in a walk-up flat in San Francisco is not like mail delivery in Reno. I didn't spend hours on this to have it lost in the mail.
I'm so not happy with the current forecast and I hope it's wrong. These are the first of the clouds that cued up today and have consistently marched overhead to the east like a well disciplined army. The wind has been relentless. They say we'll have snow, beginning after midnight and then dumping on the valley floor by morning. Oh please be wrong. Please.