Thursday, December 27, 2012

Ta Ta 2012

Christmas Eve was the smallest crowd we've had, possibly because of the snow?  That didn't diminish the enjoyment for those of us who came.  It was a nice mix of family and friends.  The lady in the foreground is a neighbor we've recently gotten to know, both she and her husband, while walking dogs.  She had bought a pink scarf for her niece, then during the evening asked if I had any more.  She wanted one for herself.  She bought two scarves and five dishtowels, which was totally unexpected but welcomed.
 Chrissie's friends from high school, now married with a daughter Alexia's age, joined us for the first time this year.  The girls were dressed to the nines and upstairs playing when I was taking pictures, so the only picture I have of them is in my head.  Kicking self.
When we lived in town, Christmas Eve was mostly family with a few friends, but in the ten years we've lived here some family have passed on and others have moved.  Now Christmas Eve is some family and mostly friends who have become like family over time.
The only straggler is this Cadillac.  It wasn't having anything to do with our icy driveway.  There might have been an element of driver error, given the state of the driver :)  They caught a ride home with other neighbors and are probably better off for that.
We stopped exchanging gifts years ago but DS Matty found this last month and couldn't resist buying it for me.  I'm a huge Monty Python fan - even got to see Spamalot while we were in the New York one year.   He knows me.
I dyed some yarn last week.  It's hand spun from our Shetlands who are now mostly white.  Most of the hats I've made in the past couple of years are from our sheep.  I was getting this ready for trip knitting for our SoCal trip this weekend.  I awoke on Christmas Day with a full-blown head cold.  No trip to town to see Lincoln, no dinner at our favorite Pho restaurant afterwards.  We rented the second Sherlock Holmes through Apple TV and called it a day.

I hadn't intended to knit a hat but my eyes were too tired to read much so I've finished the first one.  Today is the third day and I'm starting to feel like I'll live.  Lots of rest, water, oranges and hot tea.  I even ate impossibly spicy salsa on the first day.  It was painful but effective in opening up my sinuses.

So it's time to start the laundry, get the suitcases out and strategize our trip.  Because of the weather, it looks like we'll have to drive to Fallon and then south to Bishop, missing all those high mountain passes.  The only pass that way will be the one at Boundary Peak.  It won't be nearly as scenic but it will be much safer. We'll pick up Alexia on our way to town, get the rental car and leave ours with a friend.  That's the plan at the moment.  This is my last post for 2012.  I'm leaving the laptop here.  I wish you all a Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

'Tis the Week before Christmas

I used to stand at the ironing board to fold the hems under, pin and steam them.  Then I realized that if I wove the ends a little longer I could fold them without ironing which meant that I no longer have to stand to do it.  Sitting at the ironing board is so much better!
 This is what the towels look like before I wet finish them with the steam iron.  It's a tedious process so I'm waiting for my mini-mangle to arrive to finish the rest of the towels I've woven.
The lady who had originally ordered towels in this colorway never got back with me so I sold them at a craft fair.  Then last week she emailed me about "her" towels.  Fortunately I had rewarped and was on the last towel.  I figured since everyone liked the colors I should do them again.  These are the ones I shipped off to her.
I subbed twice this week for my friend Vicki who wanted to attend her daughter's college gradu-
ation.  The week before Christmas is rough and her third grade kids were pretty rambunctious.  I had playground duty that 22-degree morning.  The girls had worn party dresses, tights and pumps for the performance and were popsicles.
People seem to think that parents of ESL students aren't involved in their childrens schools but there was SRO in the auditorium and it was stifling.  I think of Vicki as the stagecoach driver.  She's got the reins on all those students running through her fingers and she keeps them humming along.
I got home and sat down with my laptop to zone out for a few minutes and discovered that I had sold these three hats in my Etsy store.  They're going to Sharon, MA!  The buyer asked if I would be willing to go to the trouble to expedite shipping - she would pay. So I drove up to Doyle this morning and got them off - $33.20 for Express shipping!  They'll be there on the 22nd.
Sammy has never ridden in the back of the car.  It wasn't feasible with three dogs but I realized today that I could take the two dogs with me.  Sammy was a wreck.  She was sure we were going to give her away.  Even after all the time she has been with us, she's still insecure.  I played music loudly and it did help some.
I only have natural colored hats in my Etsy store and haven't done much dyeing lately.  I decided to overdye these two and use them to replace the hats that sold.
I overdyed the lighter hat in raspberry.
I overdyed the darker hat in teal.  The hats are more interesting when I space dye the yarns so will do some of that tomorrow.  Today was recovery from two days with 23 excited third graders.  When these dry I'll take photos and put them in my shop.  Maybe I'll knit hats on our trip to SoCal in two weeks.  Or maybe I'll knit them this weekend.  We're supposed to get a foot of snow and I'm sure that means the power will go out.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Life Moves On

I finally finished the Penelope Blouse, pattern by Oat Culture.  The pattern was a gift from Barbara Sue and the yarn was a gift from Theresa at Camp Runamuck.  She had offered stash yarn in return for a donation to SPCA.  She must  have sent close to two dozen skeins.  The pattern for this tunic called for the yardage of five balls, but I didn't put the lace on the armholes so barely used the 5th.
I love the lace detail on the bottom.  The color is so dark that photography is difficult.  The yarn is wool and silk so the fabric drapes nicely.
I wore it to book club on Tuesday and I know it looked good because people noticed it and commented on it.  I've always been sensitive about people knowing I made something since I grew up in obviously homemade clothes.  But this time I know the sweater earned the praise.  Thank you Barbara.  Thank you Theresa.  I've cast on the denim blue yarn and will use tank top shaping this time.  Ian drove me to book club.  I still can't drive until this weekend and it's my 4th day without caffeine.  I don't recommend it.
Meanwhile, life moves on.  Monday night was the Red Rock Rattlers CERT team meeting at the fire house.  We are growing as people recognize how far our valley is from anywhere.  I'm a team lead for 2013 and as such have now been supplied with an amply stocked backpack, as you can see.  One of the things I needed to do today was go through the contents and check the items off on the inventory list.  All present and I even got everything back in the bag.  I need to spend some time getting familiar with the contents, but not today.  Laundry would not be put off.

I have come to think of weaving dishtowels as equivalent to mindless knitting.  It's so soothing to sit down and weave for an hour and have a zen moment.  One of the ladies from my book club emailed me for more dish towels.  She bought a couple at one of the craft fairs and loved hers - wanted to gift some.  From the 120 I have woven since May, I've sold 110.  They just took on a life of their own.  I gifted three so the seven in my Etsy store are it, until I pull these Harvest Field towels off.

I just ordered the Singer Fabric Steam Press from Costco.  I was reading Costco Connection this morning at breakfast and thought, that's exactly what I need - a mini-mangle!  One review said they used it to press saris - has to work for towels.  I had just enough in Paypal to cover it and it will make my life so much easier.  I'll be able to press the towels in an instant.  As it is now, it takes forever and they're still not wrinkle free. I know they'll become like chamois but wrinkled towels are not a good selling point.

And I had an email from Shirie.  I'm going to new employee orientation Monday morning, which gets me one step closer to being in school libraries.

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Heck of a Thing

I finished another Kumihimo project and am really pleased with the outcome.  This time the cord and beads are of my choosing instead of from a kit.  My life has been so much fun since retirement.  I'm excited about the library job and was really looking forward to subbing for the 6th grade ESL kids yesterday.  I had a plan for potty breaks and was looking forward to the Athens and Sparta role play.  I had another story selected that I was pretty sure they'd love to hear and thought we do a couple of Mad Libs after lunch.

I jumped into the car just as it was turning light yesterday morning and started off on my customary hour drive to town.  I hadn't been on the road but about 15 minutes when I realized I felt a little off,  Within ten minutes it occurred to me that I was a little headed.  I rolled down the windows in the event I had a carbon monoxide leak, even though it was 24 degrees outside. I could see my breath.   By the time I hit the half hour mark I was driving directly into the rising sun which is always difficult but I already realized that I had full-blown dizziness.  The traffic had slowed and I was now alarmed that my reflexes might not be adequate.  I decided I needed to get medical help.  I left the freeway at Parr Boulevard, intending to drive myself to the St Mary's ER, but I finally had to acknowledge that it wasn't safe to drive that far and pulled over to call 911.  Then I realized that I had just passed the Sheriffs Office and went back there.

They were awesome.  It was really early so a lot of doors were locked but when I found the woman at the counter in the waiting area, I told me that I just needed to sit down, that I had been driving and but had become dizzy.  She asked if I wanted her to call an ambulance and I said not at the moment.  What transpired is that the jail nurse came up and made an evaluation, then called my doctor with her information.  He said the blood sugar was normal, as was my heart rate but my pulse was elevated, probably as a result of my alarm.  He diagnosed a viral inner ear infection, which he said was going around now.  The very nice nurse and a deputy were prepared to stay with me until Ian came, but he called a friend who is head of records in the jail who came out to get me and had me stay in her comfortable office while I waited.  She offered me coffee but the nurse told me that until it cleared up, caffeine would be a bad idea.  I leaned this morning how right she was.

Somewhere in there I called Ian who snagged a neighbor to drive the extra vehicle home.  He called the school for me and they were *not* happy.  I was so disappointed - by everything.  We missed the party at Red Rock Ranch last night.  I missed my guild potluck today - a celebration of our 40th birthday with everyone in 70s attire - and we will miss a party tonight at Joe's pottery studio.  I have medicine for the vertigo and nausea, have realized that caffeine is not my friend, and have settled down wait this out.  My doc says I should feel better in a week,which means Ian is now my temporary chauffeur.  I'm disappointed but not unhappy.  The outcome could have much different.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Boring Post - Just Sayin'

Yesterday was my trial by fire.  Teaching experience isn't a requirement for a substitute teacher so into the abyss I marched.  I had the experience of a lifetime and a great eye opener.  Anyone who says that teachers shouldn't have tenure and if their class doesn't perform, should not get a renewed contract, should not be allowed to weigh in on the debate until they conduct a classroom for a day.  I was early and reviewing the lesson plans when before I knew it, students were pouring into the room.  It was 45 minutes until school started, but the school feeds breakfast to these lower economic level ESL students and thus my day began.

I was one step ahead of them all day, and during the math exercise where they were supposed to be working independently and quietly, I lost control of the classroom.  No one understood the exercise and they all needed help.  And no wonder.  I didn't get into negative numbers until algebra and I was very confused, to point that I remember my frustration.  I've reviewed the day, mulled over the problems and see where I got tripped up.  I'm subbing for them on Friday and know how to fix some of the problem moments.  They're really good kids, a little wild, from a difficult neighborhood, and not functioning at a 6th grade level at all.  Already they are behind.  I said yes to Heather when she asked me to sub as we worked together in the library.  She has provided them an magnificent library at her expense and if nothing else has cultivated a love of reading in her students.  Readers are leaders and leaders are readers. 

I don't understand KWL lists and Vinn diagrams, which was what the kids were supposed to be working on independently during the social studies section.  They were trying to fill in the circles but they didn't understand how to compare and contrast the Greek City States of Athens and Sparta, so were randomly writing in stuff - but they were sincerely trying.  I decided that if they're still working on that this Friday, we're going to divide up into Sparta and Athens and identify who we are and what makes us tick.  I'm only the sub so I get to do that. I cannot imagine how frustrating it must be to be saddled with the "teach-to-the-test" burden.  No Child Left Behind?  Really????
I was on campus today for my interview at the College of Education Learning Resource Center for a substitute school librarian position and stopped by the campus library to see if my friend Amy was in her office. She wasn't, but I couldn't resist taking a picture of their Christmas tree.  What Christmas tree could be more fitting?!

I was a half hour early for the interview so I sat a table in the LRC to read.  Looking around the room at the shelving units of childrens books I realized just how disappointed I would be if they didn't hire me.  I really miss those books - a lot.  I read a short story from the new The Chronicle of Harris Burdick yesterday.  I picked the one Louis Sachar wrote and the kids were completely absorbed.  I miss that more than I can say.  When I went to the desk, a woman introduced herself to me and said - you must be our next interview.  My heart sank.  I thought Shirie wanted to hire me.  I didn't realize I was "the next interview."

The three of us sat at the conference room table and chatted a bit, then Shirie said, so tell us about your work experience.  I began but Shirie just started laughing.  That was a formality she said.  We chatted for most of a half hour and in that conversation I mentioned the story I read from the "Harris Burdick" collection.  I bought it after reading the New Yorker review but Cindy said she was unaware of the collection and wrote down the name to place on order.  Score!  When we pushed back from the table, they both said - you're hired.  I think that's my second most favorite "hire experience."  My first was my original public library hire.

I started my day in town by having lunch with my daughter and youngest son and after the interview was left with killing time until the CERT annual awards dinner.  I called my CERT team leader who was in town so we met for coffee to kill some time and then I  helped set up the room at the EOC (Emergency Response Center) for the program.  Community Emergency Response Team is our full name and we're an arm of FEMA.  It was just one year ago this weekend that I started the academy. 
After watching a house burn to the ground, I realized I didn't know the first thing about emergencies and signed up.  Our team, the Red Rock Rattlers, received the team of the year award.  The team I admire most is the ART (Animal Rescue Team) team.  They are on call all the time and are required to donate a bajillion hours a month. I toyed with that before the school library thang came onto my radar screen.
I was exhausted by the time I turned onto our road, but I couldn't resist fishing out my camera.  Here we are in the middle of nowhere, and we have neighbors who are crazy enough to run up their power bill to provide this for us.  Cool beans. 

Friday, November 30, 2012

New Adventures

I didn't think ahead about how doing several craft fairs would impact my soap supply and ran out of two of my most popular bars.  I've had to make soap twice this week.  This is what it looks like in the mold, then I cover it completely for 24 hours before I can cut it.
This is what is currently curing.  I have soap down at Joe Winter's pottery open studio sale for the next couple of weekends.  I stopped by the Artists Coop on Wednesday and my display was decimated.  Fortunately I had enough backstock to fill it but I can see that through December I need to stop in each week and make sure my display is filled.

I made three new soaps last month and the last one was a disaster.  I've been reading about CP/OP soap, which is cold process/oven process.  I make cold process soap, the term for soap made with sodium hydroxide and oils.  Oven process speeds up the curing by 3-4 weeks but it's risky in that the sustained heat can burn off some of your essential oils and worse, can turn the whole thing into a volcano.  I was cocky after two successful batches and made Pumpkin Ale.  The oven was filled with soap oils and poor Ian had to take it apart to thoroughly clean it.  I thought I'd gotten it all until the house filled with smoke while Alexia and I were preparing to bake.  I appreciate smoke detectors but not when I'm hearing them.   I'm cured of curing in the oven - no thank you!  I'm still going to try Pumpkin Ale again but not in the oven.
I've been flagged with droning exhaustion and it wasn't until this morning that I realized I haven't been using my SAD light.  It's been storming for 24 hours and raining for twelve, making the studio impossibly dark to work in.  I aimed my happy light for my face while sleying the reed, since I have to be pretty close to see, and it was perfect.  I got the benefit of the light on my face and my work was wonderfully illuminated.
I've moved around to the back of the loom to thread it and have moved the light right with me.  I've never used the light for more than a half hour in the past and got a couple hours worth, which is what my doctor recommends.  What a difference that light makes!  I cannot believe I forgot all about it.

When I got myself on the sub list for school librarians, it was only for the middle and high schools, since you have to be licensed.  Elementary school librarians are considered classified and require a different application and are on a different list.  When I spoke with Shirie and she put me on the certified list, she said it would be a while before she started interviewing for the other.  Then this week I was engaged in soaping making and laundry all day - didn't log on until after 3:00.  She had sent me three emails.  She's interviewing, needed my classified application and had already set an interview date for me - next Wednesday afternoon.  She wants to get me on board before the January hiring freeze.  It helps that I know Shirie.  She was on the county library board for 15 years so knows me and knows my work.  Wow!
We seem to be in between storms at the moment.  The original forecast called for 6-8" of rain by Monday but I just checked and NOAA has downgraded the storm slightly.  I think a lot of the energy is being spent on the Western Sierras.  Technically this is the rain shadow and annual moisture is in the 9" range.  My first sub job is on Tuesday and if it's this wet, I'm going to be saddled with a classroom of children getting excited for Christmas and no playground time.  Stay tuned for more adventures of Super Sharon! On second thought, make that Stupor Sharon, because that will soon be my state.

Sunday, November 25, 2012


I appreciate all the kind thoughts and sentiments this week after our loss of Eddie. It was a very busy week, getting ready for Thanksgiving and family and the last craft fair of the year.  It helped to have so much to look forward to that I couldn't dwell on the recent events.
I was struggling with the labor intensive fringe twisting on scarves, trying to get the last four finished and dyed for the craft fair.  Cindie found this for me online and sent me the link.  I immediately ordered it - a Conair braid twister.  What a difference the right piece of equipment makes!  I found it best to sit at the counter and weight the scarf.

Thanksgiving was wonderful this year.  We've had a 20 year tradition of spending it with DIL Missy's parents, Marv and Julie.  They began inviting DS Matty and me, back when I was married to a casino dealer who liked to work the holidays for the extra money.   Over the years the attendance has varied and changed.  Julie's mom and my mom were once a part of it.  Now our moms are gone and we're the grandmothers.  We had four grandchildren with us this year.  Missy, Julie and I enjoyed a raucous game of Apples to Apples, as the kids are now all old enough to read.  I have SO much to be thankful for. 
We continued with our tradition of cutting Christmas trees on Black Friday.  Josh and Missy borrowed Marv's truck as they'd driven down from Oregon in their Jetta.  It was just them, Ian and me and our friend Amy - a very small entourage this year.  The weather was mild, all snow had melted and note the road - it was mud, mud, mud.  Four-wheel-drive is essential as all depressions in the road were in fact small ponds.
Amy is a photo buff and realized that she had forgotten her massive camera.  No matter.  She had her new iPhone 5 so was showing Ian how she can film a panorama.
Do you not think I would have realized that this tree was very large?  We had looked at several but this one had the straightest trunk and fullest growth.

The tree absolutely dwarfed our little Toyota truck.  I think in the future we need a no-tree-longer-than-the-bed-of-the-truck rule.

The tree dwarfs our living room!  Ian hates to cut anything off the tree so we had a few testy moments but he did cut more off and then later admitted that I was right.  He's awesome.  It's really a pretty tree, but it's going to be a dance to get around it on Christmas Eve with a house full.  It takes me about three hours to hang all the ornaments.  We've collected so many and they all represent friends and memories.  We'll enjoy this tree for the next month.  We have stopped exchanging presents because we have what we want so this is our gift to us.
The craft fair yesterday was a disappointment, few vendors, few shoppers.  There were three major craft fairs the same day, though I did well.  We had an informal pow-wow while breaking down and have decided to flip the time to Spring, before Easter.  Meanwhile, I was admiring this unit that Steve built for Carol and trying to decide if I could get DS Josh to make something like this for me.  Carol offered to let me borrow it.  I know she means it and I'm really grateful but I probably need my own display.  I wonder what Steve would charge.  Hmmmmmm.

Sunday, November 18, 2012


Yesterday was our valley craft fair.  It was organized by volunteers and was held in the same room as our property owners association meetings.  I didn't count but I can't imagine there were more than a dozen booths.  It rained and valley denizens came to shop.  The room was stuffy and loud.  I finally opened a couple of windows.
This was my space and my helper working on her Kumihimo project.  My space got a little mauled.  It's hard to keep a table tidy when it's strewn like mine was.  I've learned though that you need lots of stuff to attract buyers.  I did surprisingly well.  And I had a great time, visiting friends and meeting neighbors.
I promised Lexi Lu that she could have the pink scarf - it's her favorite color.  I just wanted to have it in my booth to fluff up my inventory.  She was absolutely thrilled and as we got ready to go home this morning, she tossed in on, in spite of the fact that her top is her pajamas. 

Getting ready this morning was a little complicated since we realized that our old dog had hit the wall with the pain from his cancer.  We went through this before with our dog Sunny.  Our vets told us to enjoy her and that she would let us know when it was time.  This morning Eddie let us know it was time.  So while scrambling to get Alexia packed and home before 9:30, we were trying to comfort Eddie and calm the other two dogs.  They were both frantic from Eddie's discomfort.

This is Eddie on a walk when he was healthy.  The cancer began in his right shoulder and seriously reduced his mobility, but with medication he continued to be engaged in our family life.  Last week we realized that he was reaching the end.

Eddie is the best dog I've ever had.  He was an absolute gentleman, intuitive and polite.  He had the unique ability to sit next me when I was sitting on the edge of the deck and somehow slide his nose under my arm so that suddenly I would have my arm around him.  He could communicate with his eyes.

I dropped Alexia off at home and called our vets from the car to tell them I was coming.  They were amazing, ready for me and put us immediately in a treatment room.  Eddie was miserable and pacing so I sat on the floor with him, stroked his face and told him how wonderful he was.  Once the vet came in, it was over quickly and the pain and the life in his eyes went out. 

I'm so lucky to have had him for ten years.  Ironically, when we adopted him his name was Lucky.  I said - good grief.  That's like the joke about the three-legged dog with one eye named Lucky.  I renamed Eddie after Edward Weston, the black and white photographer.  In the end I realized that we were both lucky. 

Saturday, November 17, 2012

All Lu, All Week

One of the ladies in my book group is German and grew up in a German community in Washington.  She is a mosaic artist and asked me if I'd like to see the handwoven linen that her mother had left her, woven in Hanover Germany around 1830.  The tatting is gorgeous.  We all just gawked.  She asked me what I thought she should do and I said - take it to a conservator.  This is priceless - don't wash it!

Alexia went with me to book club and entertained herself in the library for a while, then spent the last half hour with our book club.  She loves to be with adults.  I was left trying to facilitate a book club and keep them from being talked to death by my granddaughter.  I think we managed a successful finesse.  
She has cookie dough from her school fundraiser that she has been chomping at the bit to bake.  She sent this note to my email from my iPad and I'm not even sure how she did it.  She's eight!

It's been a very full week.  After I posted that I was licensed to substitute teach, I got an email from a long-time friend who admitted to me that she's a lurker on my blog. She emailed me asked me to sub for her in December and offered to let me shadow her in the classroom.  I did that Thursday and it was absolutely awesome.  I came home knowing for a fact that teachers are underpaid.   Oh, and she had lurk as a vocabulary word so tried to explain how she lurked on my blog.  I am in awe of her.  I cannot possibly replace her in the classroom but now I'm confident that I can conduct a class with her lesson plans.  She had 22 students and she is like the leader of an orchestra. 

I also learned that day, chatting with my friend and her principle, that there's a sub list for librarians.  I got myself on that list today and I'm oscillating with excitement for the opportunity to be back in a library environment. 
We did get to the cookies.  There's a small craft fair in our valley tomorrow and the price of admission for vendors is a tray of cookies. 

Meanwhile, Alexia took to Kumihimo like a duck takes to water. She whipped out four projects and wants to move on to satin and beads.  She can't set up yet so isn't able to work independently, but she's not far off. 
These are the projects she whipped out.  They're all from cotton cord and so are destined to be friendship bracelets, but I didn't expect her to be so prolific and didn't purchase findings.  Meanwhile she's already to move on from friendship bracelets anyway.  Holy moley.
This is the project I'm working on now and Lu is drooling.  She wants to make one too.  Kumihimo looks hard, is easy and the results are fabulous.  I can see Kumihimo items in my craft  booth next year.  Rae nudged me during the class and asked if I thought next year at the McQueen craft fair that she, Loreen and I would have braided items for sale.  At that moment I couldn't imagine it - seemed way too labor intensive.  Now I'm hoping to find buyers.  It's another addiction, like I need one. 
Meanwhile, Lu and I have discovered the fun of art programs on the iPad.  They are insanely fun and this was one that Lu tried to explain to me.  My dad and grandmother worked in charcoal, oil or watercolor.  I've adopted acrylics but David Hockney's move to painting on the iPad gave me permission to play in that sandbox too.  Alexia didn't think twice.  She explained her process to me for this image. She's eight!!