Monday, November 28, 2011

Black Friday

Our tradition on the day after Thanks-
giving is to drive up into the Sierras and cut Christmas trees. Here Josh and Missy inspect that tree they ultimately cut and took home to Bend, Oregon, while Little Sharon and Michael look on. They too cut a tree and took it back to their flat in the Mission District, tied onto the top of their car.
Ian brought our tree up alone - it's not that big. Our house isn't that big! It's $10 for the Forest Service permit and the fun is free. This year we have five vehicles and nine permits.
Sista's. These are two of our fabulous girls - my step-
daughter Margi and DIL Missy. Over the years they have developed a very special and sweet relationship.
Jerry and Lorrie come too, not to cut a tree, but to be with us. Jerry has been one of my boys since he and Josh were in the 8th grade. I told him I was working on picture albums and was surprised to see him in all the photos. He said, that's because I would rather be at your house. I'm proud of them both.
We were thrilled at how little snow we had to deal with this year but it was hard on the wee lads. Last year the deep snow was overwhelming and so they dressed accordingly, to no avail. I think they did a great job with what they had.
Ian took this photo of our group this year. One of the trucks got separated and missed the turn. We stopped when we realized that Carol was missing and then chatted with a guy coming out with his tree. He then ran into Carol and told her where he had seen us and gave her directions. We all got trees, hooked up for a group shot and then took off for our traditional breakfast.
The place we have eaten in Chilcoot for the past nine years has closed so we drove to Bordertown, where SIL Mikeal joined us with Kiernan and Alexia, making us a seating party of 20. We realized that all seven of our grandchildren were in one place at one time, possibly not to be repeated. The cameras started flashing.

As we were leaving Missy asked me to join she and Margi for a little Black Friday shopping before DS Josh's birthday. It ended up working out and Ian got some quiet time with his San Francisco daughter, Little Sharon, and family. The shopping was very little. I tagged along and snagged a $70 shirt for Ian at $15 - not for a gift, but because he needs it. It was made in Bangladesh. I have a hard time believing there is a $70 value in the shirt.

The birthday party was a bonus. I got time with all my kids, Jerry and Lorrie came back too, and sat I right next to CJ, the grandson that I have the least amount of time with. He played football for SOU but hated the weather and is headed to SoCal this week. He and I had fun with the Niner-Raven game on Thanksgiving. I'm glad I used to watch football because he's rabid about it.

This is DS Josh's truck after the muddy tree collection escapade. His birthday party was at Bully's so freinds leaving wrote sentiments in the mud. It's always hard to see them leave for Oregon, but they are insanely happy there. So that's now I spend my Black Friday.

Friday, November 18, 2011

All Alexia, All Week

We've had Alexia since last Saturday and we've been busy. She's the master of the glue gun and was putting the finishing touches on her foam Christmas house here.
And here is the final house. This was PJ day, which she declared - all PJs, all day. She did a fantastic job with this. There no instructions - just pictures. The pieces were supposed to stick together but Mommy knew they wouldn't, hence the glue gun.
Tuesday was our special girl's day in town. After lunch with Mommy, we went to San Rafael Park where she was able to tag onto a group of homeschoolers. It was 50 degrees but the kids didn't care. Monkey bars never lose their allure.
A switch turned on and suddenly Alexia was reading independently. She read the last chapter of The Magic Treehouse book that Mommy had been reading to her. So the next day she started the second book and when we said we were going to bed that night, she said she still wanted to read. I dug out my back-up reading light and clipped it onto the book. The lights are out here. She finished the book. We needed to get more books!
I took her to Barnes and Noble after the park and she got two more books and a magazine. She spent that night at home so she could go to Judo. Her Grandma Karen had her the next day. I had to get lab work done and so picked her up from Karen at Costco. The crisis was that Alexia's book was in Grandma Karen's car - could I wait until she was done so she could get it? This is the girl who was in special ed for reading last year. It's like a switch just clicked on. Just weeks ago she was still struggling, and now I can't buy my favorite flavor of ice cream because she can read all the labels.
We took an hour off last night to read after dinner and before watching TV. The peace and quiet was absolutely sweet. Today took a different turn. Alexia had crawled under the covers with me this morning, when Ian came in to tell me that the old upscale area of Reno was on fire. So many of these homes have mature landscaping and shake roofs. We watched the news off and on today. At last report, some 2,000 acres and 25 homes have burned. We have many friends among those evacuated - it's been a tense day. If you've wondered, we're at least 40 miles north of this fire. We're all tinder dry after a long wet spring and dry fall; it could be any neighborhood.

It was very upsetting and especially to Alexia. She's only seven and couldn't process that it wasn't her house on fire, and I'm sure our own anxiety added to it. She had a reassuring phone call with Mommy this afternoon, but it was a very long, anxious day for the little miss.

I drove her home this afternoon. Her home and her daddy were just fine, but the storm that the crazy wind gusts were pushing in from the arctic, started to deliver snow as I was driving home. We have sustained a lot of wind damage here, as have many of us. We lost our hay shed and the llama shelter is on shaky legs, but it'll make it through this storm at least. I know I've said it before, but I have no idea how the early ranchers survived. This is a harsh land. Maybe that's what the natives wished we would have realized and moved on.

Friday, November 11, 2011

More Color Play

I decided to try the same color combina-
tion as I used last time on oatmeal Mickey. This time I used white Robby (left) and cafe au lait Ollie (right). The left is far more pink and I'm inclined to think I'll use more of Ollie in the future. I think I get a richer tone.
Today was a quiet day so I brought down a couple more bumps and my sample cards with the ratios on them. I decided to divide the bumps in half and dye 2 ounces at a time, still putting the same colors on both wools.
These are my results today. I finally realized how Mim gets her DNA dyeing results. I had been pouring my dye liquors into a cup and then stirring them. Today I didn't stir, which allowed the dyes to strike in the steamer at different times. I love my results! Can you tell which sample is white and which one is overdyed?

These are the plastic cups I use to measure the dye liquors and the syringes that measure the cc.s for me. The liquor is 10 grams of dye power to 1000 milliliters of water, and then I use 100 cc of dyes to 4 ounces of fiber. The bath is exhausted at the end of 30 minutes of steaming - it's perfect.
I unroll the dye packet after the steaming is completed and lay it flat on the garage floor. It's so cold that by the time I've finished clean-up, it's cool enough to rinse and hang to dye. I've experienced no felting at all with the packets, unlike steaming in the lasagne dish. I'm converted.
My mother used to say, Pretty is as pretty does. Pretty!
Charlie, the entitled one.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Miss Millie is Nekkid

I didn't realize how long that dummy warp had been on her, but when I was removing everything, I realized that I had tied on a couple of times and had three sets of knots. No wonder the tension was interesting. I now have a blank canvas, so to speak.
And I have a roll of placemats to be washed, dried and cut apart. They're so stiff at this point that it's like trying to stuff corrugated cardboard into the washing machine.

These are the additional sets that I just finished and will be taking to the Artists Coop on Wednesday for the Christmas Sale.
I'm also taking hats. I needed a basket to told them but since I'm not going into town in time to buy one, I made a "basket" out of a Trader Joe's paper sack. How's that for recycling?
I have been wracking my brain for labels. Each item has to be clearly tagged with our name, specific information, a number and price. I drove in yesterday for church and my swim and then raced home for a memorial service, but grabbed these industrial manilla labels on my way out of town.

I ordered the white sticky-back labels a couple of years ago for my soap and was terribly disappointed when they arrived on stark white background. I had failed to note sepia for the ground so haven't been able to use them until now. It's a waste of most of the label, but it does give me a label with my name and there's room on the back for the rest of the information. Everything is ready and I am relieved.
Our protracted Indian summer has passed and winter is upon us again, with a low tonight of 22 predicted and a high of 44 for tomorrow. It's time to break out the woolies.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

A Perfect Day to Weave - Tomorrow

Yesterday I decided to dye another bit of roving, this time using my pin-drafted Shetland in the lasagna pan in the oven. The dyes did not separate and I was very disappointed. I'll use the cold pour, steam method in the future. It did felt slightly, but it could have been worse.
Do you like this placemat? I love it and did this much yesterday. When I went upstairs to finish it this morning, I discovered that I had mislaid my pinwheels. After tearing the house apart for over an hour, I had the sickening realization that all that work was lost and for a moment, I was so nauseous , I thought I would throw up. I had to unweave it and I'll just have to use these in a rug.
I ended up selecting colors and cutting strips for two more sets of placemats instead. It was pretty brutal, but I'll be close to back to my deadline of Wednesday.
I got the strips sewn for the third set and wound them this evening. I'll be happy to get back to weaving tomorrow. This whole thing threw me for a loop. One day I'll find the place I mindlessly placed my strips and I hope I'll be able to laugh. Either that, or they're on their way to the landfill.

Meanwhile, I'm happy to say that it just started snowing about an hour ago. We've had the worst allergy season this fall, with massive drooping seed heads on the sagebrush. The dogs have been wheezing and we're all sneezing. Snow is the perfect solution - put those pollens to bed. It will make a perfect day to weave tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Different Color Play

First of all, let me reassure you that I haven't forgotten how to knit. I'm working on sleeves for this sweater and those needles are carefully stowed back against the arm of the sofa, since Charlie has made this his bed for the evening.
The first set of placemats on this warp is pretty bright and very red. I think another time I would cut the red strips in half. I think the sheet is a queen; that's pretty wide. I just found this shuttle amongst the stuff that Laura shared with me after her mother passed away. It's funky, very narrow and long, and the more I use it, the more I like it.
I chose these sheets for the next set - they just seemed to want to go together, like little giggling girls in a classroom.
But after I had cut and sewn the strips and wound them into pinwheels, I was having serious doubts. These clearly are too pastel - exactly what I don't want.
I realized once I had woven this far that the problem is the stripe. I couldn't help thinking of the Sesame Street song - One of the things is not like the other. One of these things doesn't belong. The yellow is wrong.
I unwove back and removed the yellow, which means that every time I come to the yellow, I have to stop, cut it out and roll it up for another project, then continue. It also means that I had to cut more strips. But now I like it, so it's worth it.
I picked up our CSA (commun-
ity supported agri-
culture) basket after I went to the gym today (same parking garage). I love it that my hospital has a fitness center and also provides access for the CSA community. We got probably the last of the heirloom tomatoes this time, and now its squash, onions, potatoes, garlic, plus the greens are back. We got Swiss chard today - yum.

We only have three more weeks left of this year. It has been fascinating to watch the produce change with the seasons. We spent $500 to have fresh local organic produce for six months, which came to less than $20 a week. The food is so dense that our grocery bill has plummeted. The cost seems expensive upfront, but I know we got a real deal. I so appreciate our local farmers - they've been on the same farms in Fallon for generations and they're finally getting rewarded for the standards they have held. I like to think of that as being the American way.

Ian has been telling everyone about "my" squash dish. I got it online and the recipe is below, though I halved it for just the two of us. I made the leftovers into a patty which I microwaved for breakfast and then topped with a poached egg - yum.

Butternut Squash Supreme:
  • 3 pounds butternut squash, peeled and cubed
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 cup crushed butter-flavored crackers
  • 2 tablespoons butter or margarine


  1. Place squash in a saucepan and cover with water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until very tender. drain well and place in a large bowl; mash. In another bowl, combine the eggs, cheese, onion, milk, salt and pepper; add to the mashed squash and mix well.
  2. Transfer to a greased 2-qt. baking dish. Sprinkle with cracker crumbs. Dot with butter. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees F for 40-45 minutes or until a knife comes out clean.