Monday, December 27, 2010

Ta Ta for Now

I finally finished spinning the fiber I had blended by Morro about four years ago, half hogget Rambouillet and half alpaca. At the time I sent in for processing, I was unaware that alpaca fleeces are notoriously full of second cuts. The wool fleece had been skirted and since the alpaca had been washed before shearing, I just assumed it was ready to go.
It was a mistake that I have regretted. These are the neps just from this mornings spinning. Every day it has been like this so that what should have been a delight to spin has been the opposite. The yarn is fabulous, and in the end, that's what counts. But fool me one, shame on - what was that?

Anyway, I am packed, ready for tomorrow. I hate so much to pack and always try on everything I plan to take. I hate it when I unpack and realize that what fit me last time, doesn't fit now. It's a tedious way to pack, but I've learned that that extra step is worth it, and I can pack fewer things that way.

We're headed to SoCal, Redlands in the Inland Empire, which is a historic orange growing area, full of Victorian homes paid for by the lucrative orange shipments to the East Coast by rail. It's where my sister-in-law lives and where Ian's family assembles for New Years Eve. The next day we drive down to Gardenia, the Japanese area of Los Angeles, and celebrate with old friends from back in high school. A new storm is coming in but we think by leaving tomorrow we can miss driving in it.
Ian tried to resuscitate my iPod today. He worked and worked on it. It's been tempera-
mental for a while, requiring rebooting with more frequency. Today, it kicked up it's legs and clutched a lily to its chest. RIP my 20-gig old friend. You've been rode hard and put up wet. I thank you for your faithful five years of service. Your 160 gig replacement is on order. We've had some good times together.

Oh, and the debut novel that Ian selected this year: The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman. From the frontispiece, "Set against the gorgeous backdrop of Rome, Tom Rachman's wry, vibrant debut follows the topsy-turvy private lives of the reporters, editors, and executives of an international Englihs-language newspaper as they struggle to keep it - and themselves - afloat." It's written in the present tense and it promises to be a wonderful read.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Did you just see a Christmas zip by here?

Ian and I had everything ready for Christmas Eve, so that day I wove off the baby blanket. I had thought I'd get it done tomorrow, but we've decided to leave on Tuesday morning to beat a storm. It's a huge relief to be done. The blanket ended up being about a car-seat size, but the temple did it's thing and the selvedges are fine. Phew. Trimming off the ends was a pain.
This the first Christmas Eve that I didn't think to pull out my camera - maybe it's because I was having so much fun. DS Matty and his girlfriend Julia came a couple hours early. The new furniture arrangement truly is conducive to conversation and we ended up playing Mad Libs from a tablet he'd found at a drug store - great fun. The house filled up and got pretty crazy. One of our neighbors thanked me as they were leaving, saying that this was the first year they were spending Christmas alone, without their families. The potluck was good and people stayed and chatted, instead of popping in and moving on. Alexia waited patiently to try her Christmas present. We bought her Just Dance for Kids, a Wii dance-along game.
She is completely focused on mimicking the dances - the controller in her right hand lets her know how she's doing. You asked how the knitted jackalope is coming along. It's coming along, but just not in time for Christmas. I knitted on it for a full day while Ian was in SoCal for the memorial and realized that I have months of it ahead of me.
I'm glad we bought the Wii game or I'd have been knitting in my sleep. Ian and are completely taken by Wii. We bought it for Netflix movies and have only watched two. I can't stop playing tennis. (We also bought the Wii Fit, which keeps my muscles perpetually sore.) Anyway, there is still a party going on, but now clustered around the food, so there's room for her to play this.

I was a little nervous about an open house on Christmas Eve, but it was Ian's idea and so often his ideas are good. This I have learned. Shush - don't tell him I said that.
Ian and I opened our presents on Christmas Day. Charlie has fallen in love, or something, with my present. The closer it got to Christmas, the more open we'd hear him loving my present.
Granted, Ian's wrapping wasn't Macy's, but Charlie certainly person-
alized it. Ian was a little annoyed but I found it charming. The box was heavy and I honestly had no idea what it could be - seriously. Ian always gives me books and I think I forget how heavy books are, but it's because this year he bought three. The one that grabbed me out of the gate is The Hammersteins: a musical theater family. It's not just a family history, it's a history of musical theater and New York. I grew up in glee club and choir so know many of the Hammerstein songs. Perfect choice for me. He bought me a second non-fiction and also a debut novel, always a debut novel. Life of Pi and The Time Traveler's Wife are some of his obscure picks in the past.
I'm happy with the blanket and will get it wrapped tomorrow, along with the knitted fruits and ugly hat. Tomorrow will be laundry, packing and an early bedtime so we can get on the road Tuesday morning. Change of plans tonight - Alexia is going with us. Her parents are nervous but she will have a great time. I'm pretty sure she will talk our legs off for the first hour of the drive.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Change Up

I finished the baby hat today and I'm not going to show a picture of it. I showed the pattern here, and it the most disappointed I've ever been with a knitted gift. I was so excited by the picture that I didn't stop to read the pattern. I struggled with the project from the start because I didn't realize that she had written it to be knitted flat. It never occurred to me that someone would write a hat pattern to be knitted flat. I need to finish weaving the baby blanket to exonerate myself, since both are for the same baby. We leave on Wednesday. I know what I'm going to be doing right after Christmas.
We have an open house on Christmas Eve. Now that DS Josh and family live in Oregon, it's more neighbors and less family, always fun. With the sectional sofa, it's been an awkward arrangement for a crowd. I asked Ian a month ago to consider dividing up the sectional to open up the space.
So here we were, a day before guests, trying to rearrange furniture. Ian is not a fan of rearranging furniture, which is why it has never moved in eight years and which is why I brought it up a month ago. It's not perfect, but I am thrilled at how accessible the seating is with this new arrangement.
Breaking up the sectional gives people room to wander and that has been a problem in the past - if you've been here, you'll know what I mean. The change was a challenge for Ian to accept and I was prepared for it to be a one-day rearrangement. We were sweeping and mopping when he said - Okay. It was a good idea. I love it and can't wait to fill our house tomorrow night. Merry Christmas to you all.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Snow, What's Up?

I missed my knitting group Saturday morning but was in town in time for my book club luncheon. I think I'd have done it all, but the weather was still nasty. I really wanted to see Alexia's first ballet recital in the evening and that would have been a pretty long day. She is on the left with the arm action, which probably reflects her mother's belly dance teaching more than her ballet teacher.
She is the tall blonde, third from the right, and you can see that she's very serious about dance. I was worried about driving conditions after dark and freezing and almost came home, but I'm glad I stayed.

I talked to Ian just as the recital had ended. I was standing in the parking lot, in the rain because it's where I could get a signal. He said they were all gathering for Eve's memorial and it was raining miserably. I told him I was upset, my iPod had died that day, granted it's five years old. I need it for music and podcasts when I'm on the road. They keep me awake and alert while I'm driving since radio reception is so poor. I was semi frantic, and he passed the phone around the room so I got advice on what iPod to buy from multiple family members. Even though I was just a couple of miles from the Apple store, which is an hour from my house, the difficulty of driving in drenching rain and my confusion on what to buy, magnified by my hunger - well, I went home, got some food on the way and still haven't decided what to buy. The Touch is tempting but so is a 160 gig iPod. Thoughts???
I took a picture for my weather photo-
journal yesterday. At this point the rain had fallen for over 24 hours and collecting because the yard is saturated. This is the desert and were we not on a mountain, this would be terrible.
My poor plants are literally floating, and it's a sopping mess in the llama shed. Ian put on replacement shingles lost in the last storm or it would be even worse. He set up a berm to keep water from flowing into the shed, but anywhere it's flat, it's wet. Zaria was so happy to see me yesterday, Ms Aloof. She raced up and was eating the hay before I could even get to the feeder. She looks like a very tall drowned rat. It amazes me that underneath next to her skin she is warm and dry. Magnificent odd creatures.

I was knitting on Alexia's jackalope, which requires intense concentration, and when I looked up about 45 minutes later, it was snowing. Thus this photo.
The flakes were huge and poor Eddie, who had needed a potty break, came back in looking like this. I toweled him off but he was one miserable boy. He seemed to feel insulted and humiliated, all at the same time. The black is supposed to be black, not speckled.
So this is how today's photo-
journal picture appears. There was lots of shoveling in my morning and the bird feeders were empty. I hadn't planned to fill them, but the desperate birds were rather pathetic and I felt guity so I filled them back up.
You have to admit that when the storm is over, it's awfully pretty. Maybe my opinion is skewed since I haven't seen this view stormless in a week or two. It's a cloudless night, which is gorgeous in the full moon, also frigid. I'm hoping to catch a glimpse of the lunar eclipse.

This is the jackalope, to date. There are an insane number of hours invested in this silly project, and as difficult as it is, it's also oddly satisfying. The instructions are spot on so I just keep knitting and things shape up. It's like knitting a puzzle. I missed something though and got the foot on upside down. I only need to rip back to the ankle and I know what to do to get it done right.

Snow shoveling has taken a chunk of my knitting time, but Ian got in tonight after 6:00 so all chores revert to him. He left SIL Rochelle's in Redlands (SoCal) at 9:00 this morning, and called me from the Ontario airport to say he and cousin Greg had the same flight to Las Vegas. He said he'd call again when he got to Las Vegas. The next time he called it was from Ontario to say that the plane had been returned to the terminal because the Las Vegas airport was closed, due to flooding.That was a long day for him. Rochelle called after he was asleep to be sure he had gotten in okay. She said it has rained so much in SoCal that her pool is flooded. I believe in global warming and climate change. Where is this headed??!!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Walking in a Winter Wonderland

It started snowing this morning and never stopped. Tonight was the annual Christmas party hosted by Red Rock Hounds at their club house. They do it up right with decorations, lights and tons of food and beverages. We are starved for opportunities to see each other out here and I look forward to this party all year. It's wonderful to drive in and see the festivity. I feel like I'm walking into a Christmas card - everone is happy and laughing. We really do clean up good.
In the club house, Ian (in the Stuart plaid shirt - traitor!) is visiting with Carol (from Christmas hunting - first tree). They used to commute to work together and visit two hours every day - doing a little catch up here.
I got so warm inside that I put on my coat and visited with the smokers on the porch. Tamra and Allie are carrying on without me while I catch this shot. Allie went with us tree hunting, and while Tamra was on a hunt that day, Carol drove her truck and cut a tree for her.
Allie's husband (I showed him tree hunting with son Ryan) is on the left and Gayle is on the right. This is her ranch and remarkably, she is 80 years old. I know I keep saying it, but I really do love this valley and community.
These are our newest neighbors, Ken and Lynn from Akron, Ohio. They found the house online and moved in on Labor Day. We've had atypical weather since they came. I accused them of bringing it from Ohio.

I took this shot about 3:00. Ian has to catch a flight in the morning and he's also worried about me in this weather. That's Zephie and she's not worried at all - loves it. Earlier I had thought about catching a picture of her kushed in the snow - but that would have awakened the dogs who would have wanted to play in the snow who would then have to be toweled off. So, no.
On top of the anxiety for weather conditions Ian has the anxiety of the reason for his flight. His brother's mother-in-law whom Ian met when he was 14, and who has now been in his life longer than his own mother, passed away this week. I could write an entire blog just on this wonderful, selfless, funny and delightful woman. She lived a vigorous life until this sudden illness. She was always more interested in others than herself and our lives are richer for her passing through them.
Ian is concerned about me being alone in this snow, so has spent the day trying to clear out a path for me to feed the animals, lots of firewood and feeding instructions and about an hour lesson on how to use the generator and the transfer case. I tossed off a Facebook post this afternoon that we had 5" of snow and that I had just had a generator lesson. Tonight when we got home from the party, one of our neighbors, who is also on FB, said that if the power went out and I needed help, to call him. That's what I mean. I never had a neighbor in town lift a finger to help me. I had to move to East Timbuktu to find genuine neighbors. It was a hard day for Ian, hard labor with a heavy heart.
We're at close to a foot of snow tonight. It's really beautiful if you don't have to travel, however two flights were canceled today. The memorial service is Sunday. We'll see what tomorrow brings. The forecast seems to change hourly, on the hour. Yesterday the forecast said we were supposed to have no appreciable snow accumulation. Earlier today the forecast was for warming tomorrow with a prediction of rain. Wouldn't that be interesting? Who knows - obviously not those who make the forecasts. My plan is to attend Alexia's ballet recital tomorrow evening. I came home with a dinner invite in the event I can't go. See what I mean?
Meanwhile, I've finished one Christmas present - the knitted fruit. All it needed was an orange, and the scary thing is that I dreamed I knitted an orange, then really did knit one the next day. I'm currently knitting a pink rabbit.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Ho, Ho, Ho

This is week eight of my weather photo journal. It rained all afternoon yesterday, turning to snow after dinner. That's a "wecipe" as Alexia calls is - a wecipe for disastew. Had I still been working, I would have gotten off at 8:15 and then driven home on the snow over ice. Retirement came so suddenly that I am still relishing that reality. It's like getting a present - again, or something - can't quite explain it.
The snow on ice made our plants look like flocked Christmas trees. It was 22 when I took these pictures but I just couldn't resist, though I really should have put on a jacket. I just get excited, grab my camera and race outdoors.
Actually, I don't race since I'm more worried about falling on the ice than getting cold. I pretty much tip-toe, kinda like Elmer Fudd -waskely wabbits. After all, I can warm up by the woodstove. I grew up in San Diego where it's never winter and I've never gotten over the awe of four seasons and snow. I still love it!
I had a date in town and I love my Subaru, Eleanor. She is the best snow car anyone could ask for. I padded my travel time, drove the 20 miles at 40 mph on a complete sheet of ice - don't touch the brakes! I don't know what happened. It's a school day but the road wasn't groomed. I keep thinking I should take Eleanor to the carwash for a bath, and then it snows and she's a complete mess again.

My date was with Lauren, a high school art teacher, who wants to teach her students how to take fleece and turn it into yarn. She has a lot of Merino that another teacher gave her from his sheep. I'm unclear on why he has sheep or any of that part of the story. She didn't even know what breed it is, but it is gorgeous unwashed Merino. (I was slightly jealous.) She wanted to buy drop spindles for her 36 students but had read about CD drop spindles online. Someone I know has done this. Amy?? I explained that she needs a dowel, two washers and a cup hook. This is the spindle she came up with and I just had to share it. She is so earnest, duct tape, #2 pencil and all. She struggled to spin on it in anticipation of our date today. This is her first spinning experience. Her students totally love her, and however this turned out, it's going to be great.

We worked with a Schacht spindle she bought online, with a nice weight and balance. She wanted to know if her students could use the one she made. No. We have a date to meet up again in January - after she's had a chance to practice.
This is Mitch, a ho-ho-ho kinda guy. We knitted at Allison's today. Melissa asked me to show her how to drop spindle so I brought my Greensleeves Fox spindle for her which fits into a Pringle can, and she had some fiber. She completely took to it - sorry. I forgot to pull out my camera. What a day - infecting two people with drop spindling. I love it and was so excited that I got to share. My love of spindling is a birthday gift from Amy that apparently keeps on giving. One of the wonderful ladies bought a skein on my handspun - talk about a confidence builder! And then tonight as I pulled out of the canyon into our valley, I saw a shooting star. I'll take it.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Frost is on the Llama

It was 28 degrees this morning when I poured my first cup of coffee - much too cold to walk dogs but not too cold for Zaria. She loves this weather, and I love my Wii Fit, but I love the Wii tennis most of all. I hurt all over and can't stop playing. I love that I can exercise without freezing my lungs.

We get a crazy weather thing on cold mornings like this in the low end of the valley. The "warm" air traps the cold and they get an even colder morning - I can see the houses down there still have lights on. It's much prettier from here than from there.
Yesterday we set up for the craft fair early, since opening time was 9:00. This was a spontaneous plan so there was only three weeks to advertise. The craft fair Sandy and I participated in last month was also a first - our valley decided we could do it too. With more planning and notification, it can only get better. This was in the "ranch house" and here was only room for 12 of us.
We were each allotted space for an 8' table but I chose a card table to give me room for my wheel. Our customers were our neighbors and even if I hadn't sold a thing, I loved meeting neighbors and I know I made some new friends. I did well enough that I can buy a Kindle, if I decide I want one.
The fiber I dyed did dry in time, and I was so pleased with it, I chose to take it after all. Since I wanted it to be lace-weight, I was a little concerned that wouldn't be able to keep an even draft.
I managed to both enjoy my spinning, maintain my gauge, share my love, and talk a lot (I talk a lot) - with men who were interested in how it works and with women who want to spin too. I came home exhilarated and exhausted - went to read in bed at 8:00. Asleep by 8:30.

I've been working this evening to finish a Christmas present for our grand-niece. I'd made vegetables for her birthday last summer and wanted to add some fruit, but I see that it's looking a little one tone. The pears are kinda brown. I think I'll make a pumpkin and then call it good.
He-who-shall-not-be-named wanted to sit on my lap, but I was knitting and he was just a little put out.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Craft Fair Eve

I still don't have this craft fair thing down - I mean, the getting ready part. I woke up about 3:00 this morning and realized that I have nothing to spin on my wheel, that is, nothing of color. I laid in bed and calculated my morning, how I could dye wool and make two batches of cookies before lunch. I remembered that I had this 4 ounce bump of merino, bamboo, silk that I bought from Mim last spring.
I have been spinning the undyed roving on my drop spindle, planning to dye the finished yarn. I know I bought it last spring because I took it to Spindle Camp in May for my first major drop spindle project and boy, was it challenging. Anyway, I still don't have dye liquors so keep limping by with my Gaywool dyes.
I poured the three dyes in stripes, then covered with water and baked at 300 degrees for 30-40 minutes. I lost track as by then I'd started on the cookies. I'd already started the day with my coffee at the spinning wheel so was in a pretty good state of mind.
My current spinning is Alpaca/
illet roving for my squishy cable cardigan and I am on the last bump, last bobbin. I'm eager to get it done so I can start the sweater, but will it be nice to spin some color for a change. The dye took up nicely but I really do need to break out of my purple rut.
I went over to Mim's after lunch for some girl time in her womb room. I wish I had the presence of mind to take a photo of the gorgeous rovings she has for sale. I selected these two blue-faced Leicester bumps and plan to spin them lace weight (not together). I realized there's no way mine will be dry and ready to spin by the time I leave for the fair in the morning.
Most of her flock were on the north side of the house and we had watched them from the window. I love Shetland sheep. They are like a cross between meat sheep and goats, very personable and entertaining. I didn't realize any of her sheep were by the barn until they started yelling at me. Yes. They were yelling.
The dining room is my staging area. I have almost everything here, except my wheel, spinning chair and roving. All this for a five-hour gig. Sandy is driving so I want to be ready when she gets here at 8:15. Oh yeah. I need a sandwich.

And of course, everything is subject to approval by the snooper-
visor. That's a pretty exciting box he's checking out since it comes from our potter neighbor who is sitting his open studio this weekend so can't participate in the fair. I'm taking a sample of his wares and cards - a pottery babysitter?
I made some origami boxes from an old historic Nevada calendar before I went over to Mim's - 12 months, 6 boxes. If I can't sell them, I'll use them as gift boxes for soap. Sandy, Mim, Jeanette (whose alpaca is in my hats) and I will share a booth space. If nothing else, we will have fun.
I didn't even burn the cookies. I promised Ian half the chocolate chips cookies - his favorite. The crafter price of admission is a platter of cookies, which will be available, along with coffee, to the shoppers. I did it! I got everything done and I even cooked a delicious dinner from my new Cooking Light cookbook I bought at Costco. It's my new most favorite cookbook ever.

And here is some merriment of the most merry sort, Silent Monks singing the Hallelujah Chorus. It's a lovely way to end a week. Skip my whole post and just watch this~