Saturday, July 30, 2011

A Pre-August Day

A tropical weather system has moved in bringing with it thunder-
storms and lightening strikes. We could smell smoke most of yesterday afternoon. Sandy called to see if we were okay. She said driving into the valley they had seen smoke near our house.

We learned today that one wasn't lightening caused. Tom's grandson had drive him to his appointment for the epidural shot to treat back pain. Coming home, he saw the fire at our neighbor's place and called it in, then went home, got on his tractor and drove back to cut a fire line. He figured it was that or let it get out of control before fire responders arrived and maybe burn us all out. I wonder if he'll tell his doctors. He's really amazing, my water-witching friend.

Greg and Kat had purchased some marginal hay, perhaps cut wet? It combusted on their hay trailer and burned down their horse shelters as well. It could have turned out so badly, given the winds accompanying the weather activity. I'm so sorry for them. In addition, Kat was bitten by a snake while walking her dog just a couple weeks ago. They're cool people and I hope they don't get discouraged.
The sunset last night was spectac-
ular. I read in bed until midnight, finishing The Hypnotist by Lars Kepler. It's getting a lot of hype, but my suggestion? Forget it. It's the most badly written book I've read in years. I wanted to know how it ended and could have used those hours so much better. Not worth it, hours of my life wasted.

On the Kindle: Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel. It's for book club and it's the perfect use of a Kindle because I need the dictionary, plus I can make notes as I go. I'm surprised to find that I'm liking the book, but then I was also a Thomas Costain fan. OOP ( that's library-speak for out of print).

From the library: Heat: an amateur's adventures as kitchen slave, line cook, pasta-maker and apprentice to a Dante-quoting butcher in Tuscany by Bill Buford. I'm not sure why I keep reading, but I just do.

Both are infinitely better than my waste of sleep last night.

It's really too hot to do anything outside after about 10:00 so I decided to get some placemats woven. I was uncomfortable with the dummy warp and measured it more than once yesterday. I didn't realize that apparently some of it slid back onto the floor. I plead mental illness. This warp is just too narrow and there's nothing to do for it but to unweave, rechain the warp and add the missing width. But not today. I'm rather stab myself with scissors.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Summer Heat Came Today

I am continuing to spin Shetland with a goal of having a natural dye day. These skeins are Ollie, who used to be moorit, and Mickey, who is oatmeal. I an now spinning Robbie, who is a white dual-coated Shetland wether. My goal is a natural dye day soon.
It's too hot to go outside, so I spent some time reading about dyeing with plants. All my information has come from Anne Bliss's book, North American Dye Plants. It's pretty straightforward. She has one recipe for everything. I'm so sorry to see it's out of print. The more I read in my two new books, the more I realized what I don't know. I don't want to ruin my handspun yarns! I'd like to get some pretty natural dye colors for hat kits.

I see I haven't mentioned that I joined the fitness center associated with our hospital and healthcare system. I went on Tuesday, had an interview with Sue, my trainer, a wellness specialist and also a woman exactly my age. I have prepaid and committed to a year at this point, recognizing that it's getting hard to get up from my yoga mat, it's time to be proactive. I've missed swimming, they have a saline pool and that's where I started. I spent 20 minutes bashing through a lap swim and another 20 minutes catching my breath. I have an evaluation scheduled with Sue on Tuesday. This was a spontaneous decision and I don't know what's next. It does mean I have to drive to town more often than I would like, but I'm also looking at it like a prescription that I don't have to fill. I've decided to ask Sue about exercises to strengthen my back so I don't tire so quickly when weaving.
I decided that since it was so stinking hot today, this would be perfect to wash and dry the rag rugs. They are a completely different color today than they were yesterday!

And because it's so stifling hot, I thought it would be a good day to wind a warp and tie onto the existing one. Now begins the part I don't like. Trying onto an existing warp. I put in my earbugs and went to work. I'm more aware of lyrics when music isn't just background noise. Eric Clapton shot the sheriff and Neil Young shot his baby, down the by the river. Yikes!
I was spreading fabrics and colors around, trying to see what I want for my next sets of placemats. I cheated a little. I went to Hiliary for inspiration. I can't think of a better thing to do when trapped indoors by weather.
My weaving assistant was a total no show. He completely crapped out on me. I'm on my own for selecting the colors.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Another What?

Yesterday morning I was racing around, trying to leave on time for church, when the phone rang. Tom says - 2:30, burgers and dogs. Wow - blink, blink. Two parties in two days? Three in two weeks???
They live above us on Porcupine Mountain so is this their view due west. They've grown all the trees for shade, as we have - none are native.
Tom is a water witch and is showing Ken how to hold the rod so they can try it. Ken really was skeptical. Tom taught me how and I have my own rods, but it's mostly for amusement when they point the fountain and water lines. Tom can douse for depth and location. Ken really didn't know what to think.
This is their view south. I've shown it from our house but it's just different from up higher. We've said many times, there really are no bad views out here.

As were sat around talking, I mentioned that we'd noticed a leak in our pressure tank this week. Tom and his brother Bob are uber mechanics, the kind that corporations hire to keep their buildings running. We ended up with a pump & well guy they know today and glad of it. With delay, it could have cost us a new pump - we got off light. So glad we had that conversation!
I added extra twist on Saturday, one twist per foot of yarn, but I couldn't overdye it since we needed to leave for Carol's party. I got that done yesterday before Tom's party! I added a little purple in the dye bath, but there was so much residual blue dye that I got a completely unexpected color. It is fabulous! Both skeins weigh 3.5 ounces since it's Panda - I think that's wool, bamboo and silk? Not sure and I'm sure it's lovely.
These are my fair entries - for the Nevada County Fair in Grass Valley. (There is no Nevada State Fair, this year or many ever$$) They're boxed up, in the car and ready to be mailed tomorrow. Barbara Sue is taking them in with her entries so I can participate.

I'm going to drive over on Sunday, the last day, to demonstrate with the Foothill Fiber Guild. It's about a five-hour round trip drive and it will be worth it. It is the best fair - beautiful, full of Gold County lore, 49er history and old mining equipment - on the top of the regular fair fare.

If you live within driving distance, I urge you to catch at least one day. The dates are August 10-14 and you can get more information here.

Saturday, July 23, 2011


I promised Alexia if she wouldn't cry when she had to come home with me after judo, that we would get her a mani-pedi before I took her home after daddy got off work. (That's her term for manicure/pedicure.)

Van has a daughter Alexia's age and she was wonderful with her. Lexi got flowers on her big toes and glitter on top of her fingernail polish. DD Chris says she catches her admiring her nails every so often. We went to lunch at Red Robin afterward and then for more soft-serve yogurt. Color me exhausted.

I had an interesting personal email about the arrowheads in my last blog post, from a friend who is an employed archeologist and also the person I've known the longest in my life. We've been friends since we were six! I hope you don't mind Stan.

"I just read your most recent blog and saw the pictures of your 'arrowheads.' Very Interesting (I sound like a character on Laugh In) You have a couple of potentially old artifacts there. The one that is tapered at both ends maybe one of two types, it is difficult to be completely sure from a photo, but I think it is a Kennewick leaf shape projectile point that dates to 11000 to 9000 B.P. Another possibility is Early leaf, 8000 to 5000 B.P. The other point base maybe later, but I can not tell its type from the picture. Anyway, if I am correct there should be a very early site somewhere in the area. A local archaeologist may tell me that I am way off base, but I sure don't think so."

We live in a valley rich in history, long before there was an America. Thanks for the reminder Stan - just wow!

And thanks to those of you questioned my decision to reduce my fiber activities. You made me think carefully over the past several days and I've come to realize that what I mean is that I don't want fiber deadlines. I don't want to feel that I "should" finish something, start something or get a warp on my looms. I'm not going to "should" myself.
For instance, I entered one of these skeins in the Nevada County Fair (Grass Valley, CA) but they're underplyed to my taste, so I wound them back into balls and added more twist today. I 'm not satisfied with the color and plan to dye them. And then the phone rang. Carol told Ian that she wanted us to come "hang" on the front porch this afternoon. I thought - I have enough time - I really should overdye some samples, and then remembered. I'm not mailing my entries until Tuesday. Don't should yourself!! I read on front porch until it was time to go.
So we were with Carol, her father-in-law Ron, Kerry and Ian - just shooting the breeze, talking about things off the top of our heads - news, books, just hanging. It's still lovely though I hear the firecracker weather is finally supposed to arrive next week.

Carol and Harry live on top of the world. Their driveway scares me but I think it's worth the price of this view. Kerry and I were looking at the berry bushes in the backyard and redtail hawks were hunting right over our heads! I could hardly concentrate.
We were still visiting when the sun set. Ian went home to feed the dogs and still we stayed on. After three weeks of travel and a week of babysitting, it was good to be in the quiet company of neighbors.

And then some more neighbors came. I do miss the cultural activities we enjoyed when we lived in town, but they don't hold a candle to living in a community with friends.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Busy Day

Lexi and I took the dogs for a walk yesterday morning. They heard the word walk and there was no turning back. Besides, taking a walk with Grandma is a long tradition, dating back to the years when her brother wasn't too old to stay here.
We were on a hunt for the colorful chips of chert. There are natural out-
croppings here on Porcupine Mountain and it's an acknowledged place for aboriginal peoples to make arrowheads.
Eddie was drinking at a spring that supplies just enough water for these native grasses. It's still not July-hot here. If you were reading my blog earlier when I worried about the developers trying to steal our water, the court did not rule in their favor. Our water is safe -for now. I'm anxious to see our greenbelt preserved in a wetlands status for the future. I'm sure this means we need to raise more money - and invest more time. Groan.
Alexia washed all her rocks with a brush, one at a time. She spent at least a half hour doing it. Do you remember being this flexible?

The chips are very pretty and she collects them with all the dedication and enthusiasm of a little girl collecting Easter eggs. We do this every time she's here and when her brother wasn't too old, the three of us did it. There's an area in their front yard just for these.
This is chert, as the Aborigi-
nals envisioned it. The arrowhead and partial arrowhead are from our dry creek. The stone on the right is the tool used to make the arrowheads.
I'm right handed so this photo is awkward, but the tool is only for the right hand. It doesn't fit into a left hand. I find that absolutely remarkable.
Alexia washed each rock, one at time, changing water in between when it seemed too muddy. Then she laid each one out to dry on the deck, careful to avoid cracks so none would fall through.
We ate an early dinner and then picked up her mommy after work. We were going to her judo lesson. It was a double win for me - getting to watch her practice and getting time with my daughter which is in short supply.
She is the youngest in the class but she's focused and is devoted. There are so many things clawing at a child's attention, I'm happy that she is choosing this.

We three met up with her daddy and brother after football practice for frozen yogurt - no pictures. Thank God for cell phones - all spontaneous.

It was hard for her to come home with me and not with her parents. We got back at 10:00 and she slept until 10:00 this morning. Her fascination with knitting might just be on hold with so many things clamoring for her attention.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Mission Impossible

We admired our almost ripe cherry tomatoes one evening and awoke to find them gone the next morning. The culprit left his calling card on the front porch in the form of droppings. On top of squirrels and rabbits, we have the occasional pack rat to content with. They're like an uber mouse, droppings and all, and they steal strange things for their nests. Ian set the Have-a-Heart trap and caught him right on the front porch. He took him far far away to relocate him. He said when he released this fellow, he stretched out to a foot in length. Ugh.
Thank goodness for our CSA basket every week - that's com-
munity supported agriculture. If we were garden dependent, we'd have to eat the rodents. CSA is a co-op of local farmers and boy do I appreciate them. The baskets are getting bigger by the week. We split one with Carol and Harry, and we can barely get through our half basket in one week. I'm learning a lot about "real" food. This is our first year to participate. Our half share was close to $500 but I now appreciate what a bargain it is. It stocks our fridge for on entire week! It's registered in Carol's name and I just got an email she forwarded. The large yellow thing is a melon - do not attempt to grill it. I totally thought it was a squash - so glad I hadn't gotten that far.

While we were gone the past three weeks, I did a lot of thinking about my time and how I'm using it. I decided on some pretty serious changes. I've joined the fitness center that's associated with our hospital and insurance. My start date is Tuesday with a trainer for an evaluation and to help me establish wellness goals. I simply want to swim laps in their saline pool, but I suspect it's going to be more than that.

I also decided to spent less time on fiber persuits. I have gone overboard in indulging myself and I think that was a response to the flood of free time that came with retirement. I have two commitments that I'm considering - one to my church and one to my library. They've asked me to facilitate the knitting club that meets the first and third Sundays of the month. The woman who facilitated it since 2005 is ill and unable to continue. I already facilitate the adult book club (that's the name they gave it - it's not what it sounds) so I wouldn't need to be fingerprinted and go through volunteer orientation again.
In the meantime, Grandpa and I have Alexia this week. It's a very hard week for her. She's been at the Boys and Girls Club for three weeks and is happy to be here instead, but she starts second grade on Monday!

We have only had our iPhones for a month but I have come to see them in a whole new light. Friends suggested apps that Alexia could enjoy and I'm astonished at the problem solving required in these programs. I took this shot while spinning on the front porch. I don't think anything is going to change on that front. I spin and drink coffee while I wake up.
We made cookies today. She was so excited to wear her Mickey Mouse apron that DD Chrissie's friend brought home from Disneyland. This was our first time to use the new measuring cups. They are in every size and we both love them. Imagine one for 3/4 cup and one for 1 1/2. I can't believe I groused at the price since I was using my mother's old cups that weren't even accurate. It took a granddaughter asked for measuring cups with handles.
I bought cookie stamps when we were in Florence at a wonderful shop - I think it's called Kitchen Clutter. I look forward to visiting it each time we're there.
She stamped the cookies two handed, saying aloud: goose, apple, goose, apple. Those are two stamps that I bought, but I'll be looking for more. Someone's grandmother burned the last tray of cookies, so there might be more cookies on the agenda for tomorrow. We have judo tomorrow night and then she gets to go home on Friday, and then - mission accomplished!

Sunday, July 17, 2011


The drive from Oceanside to our house is 11 hours, which is probably doable, but we really needed to clean up after ourselves before leaving Rochelle's house so decided to stop over in Bishop. We made good time from LA on Hwy 395 to Owens Valley.
I had a hard time convincing Ian that we really could take the time to stop at Manzanar. It's so easy to get in the mindset of "getting there." Last year cousins Don Don and Scottie stopped on their way to our gathering. Ian went to high school with their dads and Scott's father was born in a relocation center.
For years we've zipped by and there's been nothing but the sign. Reconstruction has been underway recently as a National Historic Site and it's worth checking out. It you read Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, you need to make this stop.
They've created a driving tour so you can see the entire layout. Signs are posted where facilities existed. I had no idea is was so massive, but a total of 110,000 people were "relocated" to ten centers - 10,000 people were assigned here.
This is a recon-
structed guard tower of which there were six. Two thirds of the people were American Citizens and Ian tells me that the 442 regiment known as Go-for-Broke was fully Japanese American. They suffered horrific casualties and were the most decorated regiment in WW II. We saw photos of families mourning their dead sons.

Two barracks have been recon-
structed and will represent how housing was when the internees arrived and how they were adapted after a couple of years. Ian said the reason the building is elevated is so that guard dogs can circulate under the building after the 10:00 curfew to prevent escapes. In the high dessert it also meant that the buildings were brutally cold.

This building represents what their original home was. An intensely private culture, they also were provided with latrines that had no partitions between toilets. Initially their guards saw them as the face of the enemy and humil-
iation was the order of the day.
The guards became more helpful in time and found linoleum to cover the floors to stop the influx of frigid air.
Each block repre-
sented a dozen barracks. Some had the protection of cottonwood trees and many did not. I'm astounded at how three years under these conditions didn't break their spirits. It did for some but many went on to rebuild their lives. Upon release, they had nothing. Everything had been taken away - even their dead. I think the cemetery was the most emotional moment for me.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Life is Good

Ian and I are SoCal expats so always enjoy getting back to our roots. Rochelle gave us the keys to her Oceanside house where we were able to spend time with more family. Ian is proud of his boys, sons Carlos and Dougie, whom he calls "law and order" - the San Diego DA and cop, and nephew/godson Chris, a computer geek/engineer/godknowswhat. This day was an absolute treat.

Grandnephew Solly got his aunt-to-be Kristie to take him in the water. He adores the beach. I love the ocean and I love seeing it through his eyes. I've never know a child to love it more then he does. When he couldn't be in the water, he swam in the sand. I wish I had thought to make a video.

I've never understood why light fiction was called a beach read, but I've got it now. The sights and sounds are more than distracting. I put my book down, hoping to catch a picture of the dolphins swimming north outside the beach break. Rochelle has a wonderful library so I enjoyed this book while we were there - Hanging Up by Delia Ephron. It was just the right amount of light humor and engagement for the moment. I finished it, put it back on the shelf and helped myself to Ladder of Years by Anne Tyler for my October book club.
I had my phone so took a shot of the waves on my walk. The volume of the surf is astounding. It makes conversation almost impossible, even in the house. It made sleep perfection. I struggle to sleep when I'm away from home. If I awoke, I'd concentrate on the surf sounds and I'm sure I'd didn't last one minute.
This is what we enjoyed. Life is good.