Friday, July 30, 2010

Knitting is the invention of the devil, clearly. In support of this assertion, I offer two pieces of evidence:

The first is that, this morning, I noticed a mistake that I could not ignore. It would, as the saying goes, be visible from a galloping horse. I marked the position, and, because this stitch pattern has so many yarn overs that frogging and reknitting is impossible, started slowly and painfully tinking back. It took an hour and a half to get three rows back, where I found the mistake; I had split one stitch, knitting it as two.

The other piece of evidence that knitting was invented by the devil is that, while I have something in the neighborhood of twenty people coming to dinner tomorrow, I have not yet started cleaning, or cooking, or even buying the necessary groceries, because I can't bear to put the current project down until it is finished. This is so, in spite of my suspicion that the top will not be flattering to my figure, so I will only wear it in winter under a jacket. Because it would create many opportunities for dead air spaces, I'm sure it'll be excellent as an intermediate layer between a t-shirt and a jacket in cool weather.

Now, I'd better go finish that top, so I can get ready for tomorrow's dinner party.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The dentist didn't hurt me today, but he broke my heart. Because one of the crowns sent from the lab didn't fit, he'll have to send it back to be redone. I'll have to put off my trip to Oregon by several days. Darn.

Back to knitting the thing I almost finished yesterday.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

I had been looking forward to having a day off today; Tom had an all-day seminar in job search skills. Aside from three or four hours of gardening, and making a paella for dinner (and an experimental batch of cookies that went horribly wrong), I did relax with my knitting for most of the day.

Three-fourths of the way through the newest project, the pink mesh overshirt, I found an error that was beyond correction. When I pulled out the needles to frog past the point of the error, I saw that the top was still much, much too wide. I frogged the whole thing out, and started over.

I hope I got the right stitch count, now.

Monday, July 26, 2010

While I was waiting to get a series of injections in my back, it occurred to me how very close to blasphemy it is, to insist on "Intelligent Design." The natural selection tale of How We Came to Be makes perfect sense, but to blame the human back on God is patently unfair to God.
I'm wearing my new red top, and I couldn't be happier with it. It's plenty long, doesn't cling too much, doesn't show my bra, but drapes nicely over the attributes I do want to show off. Now, I want to knit ten more like it. But maybe out of a different brand of yarn. One that doesn't run.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

I wanted my next project to be a mesh overshirt. My usual mesh stitch pattern biases, so I found another one in a book that featured nice vertical columns. It was kind of a pain to execute, but I wanted that vertical look.

After a day's work and several inches of progress, I noticed that this pattern, too, biased. It was also several inches too wide, the result of lying swatches, once again. I pulled it all out, cast on fewer stitches, and started again, with the mesh stitch I find easy and comfortable. So what, if it biases? Diagonal stripes are slimming.

The yarn is a novelty, three strands loosely held together. Two strands look like rayon; the third, fuzzy strand was supposed to be mohair, but it sure feels like acrylic. I figure the finished product will be a nice accent over a black cami (the yarn is a pale pink blend, undignified for a grown-up lady, except with another, stronger color), or a layer to wear between a shirt and a windbreaker on a chilly day.
On a hunch, I blocked the greenish and the red tops separately. It's a good thing I did; while the greenish top leaked an insignificant amount of blue dye, the red top turned the first two rinse waters the same color as cherry Jell-o. I gave it 8 changes of water, to be sure it wouldn't transfer dye onto my skin while I'm wearing it. When it was dry, it was both more purple, and more striped, than it had been before it surrendered its excess red dye.

They also, both, collapsed sideways as soon as they touched the water. This must be a characteristic of cellulose fibers, as I've never had the problem with wool, alpaca, or silk. I had to give them a good stretch lengthwise, in order to assure they'd be long enough to wear. The effect explains why so many of my t-shirts get too short after several washings, though. The effect is just quicker, and more obvious, in a hand-knit fabric with 5 or 6 stitches to the inch, than it is in a machine-knit fabric with dozens.

Friday, July 23, 2010

I finished the red top (yay!), including weaving in the ends, and ran a line of crochet along the neckline of the blue/green top I made a few weeks ago. This will keep the neckline from stretching, and displaying my bra. Haven't yet blocked them-- maybe tomorrow.

I made the most delicious candy. I used Bruce Weinstein's recipe, from "The Ultimate Candy Book," for Southern Peanut Brittle, but substituted a pound of shelled, raw pumpkin seeds for the peanuts. The seeds came out perfectly toasted, and the candy component was crisp and yummy.

Given this, I have to admit that the diet has fallen by the wayside, at least for now. Having Tom home messes with my schedule.
Shame on me; I neglected to blog yesterday, and it was a very good day. I gave a quick trim to all the hedges in the front yard, including shaking/digging out several years accumulation of dead scales from the Italian cypresses, which filled a whole green bin. Knitwise, I virtually finished the new red rayon top-- all that's left is to finish the neckline and block it-- and it fits perfectly, and looks adorable.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

What a dream. It was one of those dreams that seems very real, and very important, while it's happening, but fades as soon as you wake. What I remember:

I was walking around a lake with Sharon, while she read aloud a book about Jesus. I think the topic of the book was Jesus taking a walk around a lake with an ordinary person, talking with him. I think, after we completed circumnavigating the lake, we took my daughter fishing-- she was two or three years old. I thought, in my dream, of how I would try to explain the experience to Tom, if I were to take a walk with Jesus, and feel his spiritual power myself. Then, after dropping Sharon and Anka off, I took a drive with my father, who took me to introduce an infant half-brother of mine, one of several he had from relationships with women other than my mother.

None of this lines up with real life, of course. I didn't meet Sharon, or marry Tom, until Anka was in her late teens. I'm not a Christian, and my father, who has been gone for 17 years or so, didn't have much interest in adult women. My subconscious must have confused him with Mel Gibson, about whom I've read a lot, lately.

In knitting news, I made a lot of progress on the front of my new top today. I'm on track to finish it in two days, if I knit as much as I usually do. After I finish, I think I should take a couple of days off to clean, and sew, before picking up another piece of knitting.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Remember when Nicholas Cage used to make good movies? I looked him up on imdb just now, and had to go back 11 years to see a movie he was in that I liked. I've missed most of his recent stinkers, but I took in "Sorcerer's Apprentice" today.

Poor Nick. He used to make lovely art films, then he alternated the art films with commercial flicks. Lately, it has been all commercial flicks, and not good ones. Johnny Depp has also mixed art films with commercial films over his career, but the commercial films have been better ones-- "Pirates," anyone?

If you haven't guessed, I didn't care for "Sorcerer's Apprentice." There would be plenty of points to pick at, but the first, fatal flaw came at the very beginning. Morgan le Fay is described as Merlin's "worst enemy." Yeah, she was his enemy, in the myth, but because he was helplessly in love with her. She used her sexuality to enslave/emasculate him. If you're not going to mention that she was his lover, as well as his enemy, you may as well not mention her at all. Make up new names for the sorcerers involved, rather than dumbing down the tale.

On the subject of Johhny Depp-- I adore him, and I believe he can do anything, but that doesn't mean I've liked all of his movies. I hatehatehatehatehated both "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" and "Sweeney Todd," but I don't blame him for them. I blame the director. Oh, and "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas." I walked out on that one, which is almost unheard of, for me.

I had a moment of ambivalence yesterday, when I heard that my beloved Tony Bourdain was nominated for writing primetime nonfiction. Not that he wouldn't deserve to win-- I DVR his shows, watch them two or three times before deleting them, and then watch them again when they're rerun-- but my Keith Olbermann had also been nominated. For whom would I root, if Tony and Keithie were competing for the same award? Some research on the 'Net revealed that they were in different categories-- generic "nonfiction," Tony's slot, doesn't compete with "news and documentaries," Keithie's. Tony's show looked a lot like news when he got stuck in a war zone in Beirut, so my confusion can be excused. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

I finished the back of the top, and am now starting the top of the front of the top. If you follow me.

Monday, July 19, 2010

For the last several days, I've been increasingly bored and depressed. I've been thinking I needed to start a new chapter in my life, make a deep change.

The heat wave broke today. I feel much better.

Oh, yeah-- that's why we bought the house in Oregon. Summer in LA always affects me like this.

I finished one shoulder on the top I'm working on, and started the other.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

I had a quiet day. I did a little yard work, and a lot of knitting in front of the TV. I'm halfway from the armpits to the shoulders on the back. I'm looking forward to having a new top.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Since it was ferociously hot in LA today, and we had Santa Barbara on the mind, Tom and I tried to go to Santa Barbara today. We failed, as we weren't the only people with that idea. Traffic was bad, crawling along at an average 15 mph on the 101. We got as far as Ventura, which was still on the beach, and pleasantly not-hot.

Since we couldn't get to Solvang for pastries, we stopped at Bea's Bakery, off Reseda just north of Ventura Blvd. in Tarzana. Wow! I've known Bea's was there for as long as I've lived here, 11+ years. They've been 11+ wasted years, but no more. They make as good an eclair there as you can get in Solvang, and a mighty fine rye bread, too. I'm looking forward to trying their almond crescents for breakfast; almond crescents are among the finest of God's creations, or a baker's.

Not much progress on the knitting. We were out most of the day, and, when I got home, I was so sleepy I couldn't knit.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Tom and I were watching "Psych" tonight. That show drives me crazy. I'll buy the fake psychic who is actually a pretty good detective, but the way they depict Santa Barbara is beyond the beyond.

I actually got into a shouting match last year, about an episode in which some newly-introduced characters went white-water rafting after lunch, and were back in Santa Barbara in time for dinner. There are no raftable rivers within several hours' drive of Santa Barbara! One gentleman, not knowing that I volunteer at San Simeon, tried to tell me that the general public can run the rapids on the Hearst Ranch. Gah! That's private property, and the small stream running through it wouldn't float a multi-passenger raft of the type shown in the episode.

Tonight, we were treated to a mystery set in Santa Barbara's Chinatown. Santa Barbara doesn't have a Chinatown! Sure, Chinese immigrants contributed to the city's development, but they don't live in a discreet neighborhood. I don't think Santa Barbara even has a barrio; it is divided into neighborhoods of million-dollar homes, and neighborhoods of multi-million-dollar homes. Race and ethnicity don't figure in Santa Barbara's layout, only varying degrees of wealth. I'd sooner believe a Santa Barbara story about feuding law firms, than warring ethnic gangs.

My back was fine today, in spite of my not doing any hard physical labor, and in spite of my taking a drug holiday today. For the uninitiated, a "drug holiday" doesn't mean using drugs to escape from reality, but *not* taking one's usual meds, in order to reduce side effects.

Our period of unseasonably pleasant weather has ended. Even inside an air-conditioned mall, it was so hot the only thing I wanted to buy was an ice cream sundae as big as my head. I didn't do so, but had a smaller one at home.

And, I'm almost ready to divide the new top for the armholes. I think I have enough of this yarn for short sleeves. If not, I predict more frogging in my future.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

My back has been hurting for much of the last week. It stopped hurting, for most of a day, when I did some heavy-duty yard work on Sunday. Today, it stopped when I did some more heavy-duty yard work. I'd hate to think I'll have to do heavy yard work every day for the rest of my life, in order to remain pain-free. Given how large and unruly my yards are (they're each a quarter acre, and I have two-- three, if you want to be technical), I'll never run out of work that needs to be done, but I'd like to be able to do it at my own pace.

I'm happily about halfway done with the newest top, out of red/orange/purple rayon. I frogged out the shawl I made from that yarn yesterday-- the shawl came out so long that it was unwearable-- so there's plenty of yarn. I left the yarn on the chair I wound it onto as I frogged, so I can be sure it won't tangle. I'll just have to finish it before I have any company over, or I'll have to explain why I have a hank of yarn wound around a chair in front of the sofa.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Not a great day. The dentist started drilling before I was numb, and the work continued for at least an hour after the anesthetic wore off. I felt like I'd been kicked by a mule, and then I had to pay $1000.

No wonder I've been in a bad mood today.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

I'm back from afar. It was unbelievably beautiful in San Simeon this week. We've seen otters every day, recently; apparently, a family of otters moved into our little cove. Yesterday, I saw a humpback whale spyhopping in the cove, and saw his flukes a few minutes later when he sounded. Today, I missed it, but some of my colleagues and the visitors saw a pod of dolphins. Oh-- and I saw two herds of deer while I was driving up. All that, and the weather was textbook perfect. Some of the visitors even asked me, "What makes the ocean so blue here? It's not that blue, where I come from." I told them the water was so blue because it is very deep, and very clean, and the sky is also very blue.

I didn't do much knitting, while I was gone. If you add up the hours I was working, and the hours I was driving, I put in a 13 hour day yesterday, and another 11 hours today. It's a good thing I love it.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

I took the coward's way out, and cut the yarn. Even having cut it, it took an additional two hours to get out the tangles. For all that work, the salvaged yarn gave me maybe 3/4 of an inch of length to the potential top.

What I really want is a day off, but that's not in the cards. I'm going to be away for the next couple of days (note to burglars: Tom will be home), so I can't put off all the usual chores: laundry, dishes, yard cleanup. Okay, I could put off the yard cleanup, but I don't want to. That, and there's a party today, all day, that should be a blast. I have such a tendency to isolate myself, I shouldn't refuse opportunities to socialize when they present themselves.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

I'm sad for Keith Olbermann, who was so much attacked on Twitter that he's giving it up, at least for now. I've had my feelings hurt on "social networking media" (Facebook), so I get it.

Went to a first-rate party today. Inside was a mite steamy, in the tropical sense, and outside the mosquitoes were biting, but the guest list was aces.

Even at the party, I spent most of the day untangling the yarn I frogged out yesterday. It hadn't occurred to me how big a mistake it would be, to let the yarn I frogged remain in a pull-from-the-outside ball, rather than rewind it into a center-pull ball. What a mess.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Swatches are lying liars that lie.

Yesterday, I knit a nice swatch with that bright red/orange/purple sportweight, and I got seven stitches to the inch. I did the arithmetic, cast on, and knit for the rest of the day. I knit a few hours this morning, and measured again. I'm getting five stitches to the inch. At his gauge, the top would be 12 inches too big around. I'm going to have to pull it all out and start over. Frog it all, anyway. On the upside, the whole top will be fewer stitches, even counting the first few inches that I'll have to frog, than if I kept knitting what I've already cast on.

Saw "Despicable Me" this morning. Nice film: heartwarming, funny. Not as good as "Toy Story," of course, but how many films are?

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Poor Tom. I make us a cup of tea most mornings. Most mornings, I make them for both of us at once, but sometimes Tom sleeps later than I do. Today, I boiled the water and poured it over his teabag-- I had had my tea hours earlier-- set the timer and forgot about it. Tom found it some 40 minutes later. He said it was a mite stronger than he likes.

I finished the second sock (huzzah!) before breakfast, and cast on for another top (one can't have too many tank tops in a hot climate like this) in a sport-weight rayon in a fiery mix of red, orange, and purple. The skein I have probably isn't enough to make the top, so I'll have to cannabalize the long scarf I made out of the same fiber. I don't wear that scarf; it came out too long. Even double-wrapped, it drags on the ground. I took that yarn on vacation with me a few years ago, and knit and frogged that one skein of yarn over and over, so it lasted the whole vacation.

I don't know Highway 1 as well north of San Simeon as I do south of there; from LA to San Simeon is my regular commute. From San Simeon to Monterey is a vacation I take at least once a year, but not every month or more, as the more southern sections.

In Big Sur, I used to hike down to Jade Cove, but the trail I used to take eroded away years ago. I think most visitors to Jade Cove get there by boat, nowadays, from Sand Dollar Beach. There really is jade there; as with Moonstone Beach, California beaches are named honestly. Don't look for agates and pearls at Agate Pearl Beach in Laguna, though; it is named for the cross streets it is nestled between. Nice beach, though.

But I digress. Laguna is way south of Big Sur, south even of LA. In Big Sur, one must stop at the art gallery shaped like a water tower. It's expensive, but top drawer. The second turnout north of it has sometimes hosted a pod of Steller's sea lions, the golden ones that are much bigger than California sea lions. I think this is as far south as you'll find Steller'ses on the mainland. They're more common from Oregon north. Keep glancing upward the whole time you're in Big Sur, as there are something in the neighborhood of 30 California condors in the surrounding wilderness. If they're in the open sky, so you can't distinguish them from turkey vultures by size (condors are much bigger), you can tell which are condors by the white on the leading edges of their wings. If you have binoculars, or good eyes, you'll also see the radio transmitters on the condors. The authorities keep a very close eye on the condors.

If you pass Deetjen's Big Sur Inn before noon, that's the place to stop for breakfast. The food and the ambience are both wonderful. It closes at noon, so you'll be out of luck, if it's a late lunch you want.

At Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, take the trail marked McWay Cove Overlook. It's a level trail, only 1/4 mile long, but yields one of the best views on earth: a waterfall plunging freely to a sandy, untouched beach, with a natural sea arch in the background.

In between Carmel Highlands and Carmel itself, is the Serengeti of marine mammals: Point Lobos State Park. I have seen there, in the same visit, dozens of harbor seals and sea otters, hundreds of California sea lions, an orca chasing aforementioned sea lions, and a great disturbance in the deep, sign of a great whale (unidentified by species).

Carmel itself is a lovely sight. Monterey is the location of one of the best aquariums in the world. Just past the aquarium, at Lovers' Point, the views are enhanced by the most reliable sea otter sightings I've seen yet. If you decide to dine on Fisherman's Wharf, order the Early Bird Special; everything else is overpriced.

Thus concludes the tour.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Only 1/4 inch to go on the second sock, then an increase row and cast off. Huzzah!

Technical detail: I make sure the tops of my socks are sufficiently stretchy by doing an increase row in the last row before the cast-off. If I'm doing a 1x1 rib, I'll m1 after each purl stitch. If I'm doing a 2x2 rib, I'll m1 in the middle of each rib. In either case, I'm turning 2 stitches into 3. I've tried fancy cast-offs that are reputed to be much stretchier than the usual, but none works as well as my trademark increase row. I've gotten some grief from other knitters about it, but no other than Lucy Neatby endorses a similar method.

Continued from last night: Turn left on the main highway through Solvang, and you'll hit the 101 at Buellton, after first passing the ostrich farm. That's worth a stop, and a look. If you are low on gas, top off in Buellton, as it's the last reasonably-priced gasoline you'll see until Carmel, on the 1. It costs more in Buellton than it does in LA, but you won't beat LA prices on gas until you're in Oregon. If you didn't eat in Solvang, Pea Soup Anderson's (sp?) is the winner in Buellton. Generations of Californians have grown up counting the vacation miles according to the Pea Soup Andersen's (sp?) signs, featuring the cartoon chefs Hap-Pea and Pea-Wee.

North of Buellton start the wineries and tasting rooms. I can't guide you to them, as I never acquired a taste for wine. There are some choice spots on the coast, but I haven't visited that area often enough to be a guide. My next stop would be Pismo Beach, if it's winter. Overwintering monarch butterflies can be found resting in clusters from eucalyptus trees south of town-- look for the butterfly signs on the fence. On warm days, they fill the air, flying about.

Just south of San Luis Obispo, the Madonna Inn is worth a stop. Check out the public restrooms in the same building as the restaurant. I leave the 101 in San Luis Obispo; follow the signs toward Hearst Castle. Before you leave town, if you haven't tanked up in Solvang or Buellton, get a burrito or a couple of tacos at Pancho Villa's Seafood, a roadside taqueria next to a gas station. If I were ever scheduled to be executed, the fish tacos there would be my choice for a last meal.

Turn south for a couple of miles from Morro Bay, to Montana de Oro State Park, for a wonderful pebbly beach and a good chance at close-up otter sightings. North again, Harmony features handmade pottery and glass, and charming history lessons painted right on the walls of the buildings. You can also buy a t-shirt there that reproduces the city limit sign: "Harmony, pop. 18." The sign has posted the same population for as long as I can remember (over 30 years); I think it's more of a brand name than a reflection of the census, by this time. Just north of Harmony is Cambria Pines by the Sea, known as just "Cambria" to all. That's a tourist-and-shopping oriented town, and home of my favorite yarn store in all the world. That's on Burton, in The Village. On the same block is a gallery of museum-quality glass, and wonderful candy and gift shops. Since I do volunteer work in San Simeon almost every month, I get to do much of my Christmas shopping in Cambria, which is not a bad thing. There are also several good restaurants in Cambria, of which my favorites are Linn's and Robin's.

On the northern edge of Cambria is Moonstone Beach, an excellent place for beachcombing (it's true about the moonstones) and wildlife viewing.

The best spot, though, is a few miles north of Hearst Castle: the elephant seal rookery at Piedras Blancas. There are seals to be seen there all year, as they come and go at different times, but the most exciting time to visit is during the breeding season, January and February. Most of the pups are born in January; mating and fighting take place a month later.

To be continued...

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

I did manage to finish the cotton/rayon top in time to wear it to dinner last night. As usual, I underestimated the amount of stretch to the garter stitch shoulders, with the result that I probably showed a bit of bra by the end of the evening. Maybe a nice, inflexible linen stitch would have worked better.

The LA Times published a list of good places to stop for snacks and sightseeing on the highway between Santa Barbara and San Francisco. I found it interesting, but incomplete. It left out some of my favorite stops.

In Santa Barbara, there are the zoo (small, charming, with amazing views of the ocean in one direction, and a lagoon in the other), the botanical garden (all California natives: go in the spring, for a wildflower show you won't soon forget), the natural history museum (which I love like Aladdin's cave), The Palace Cafe (on Cota near State Street, the best Cajun/Creole restaurant west of the Rockies, possibly west of the Mississippi), and two very good yarn stores.

Where the highway hugs the coast, keep your eyes open for the alpaca farms; there are at least two. Where the highway turns inland, you could turn toward the beach instead. At Gaviota State Beach, the cliffs weather into cobbles that contain fossils. I don't recommend camping there, though; the campground is directly underneath a railroad trestle. Being waken by a train directly overhead is not a relaxing experience.

North of Gaviota, past the tunnel, a sign leads via a side road to Nojoki Falls. I have no idea how to pronounce that correctly, but, if it's springtime in a rainy year, the short hike to the Falls is well worth it. In a dry year, the fall could be outclassed by a leaky kitchen faucet. Continue on the country lane, where mosses drip from ancient oaks. If you're lucky, you'll see yellow-billed magpies, a rare and fascinating bird that gets my vote for Coolest Bird in the World. Further up the road, you'll hit Solvang, a Danish-American village that's widely known for pastries and opportunities to shop. Check out Natalie's Doll House for toys, and Village Spin and Weave for all things fiber-related.

More to come.

Monday, July 05, 2010

The Fourth didn't go quite according to plan, but we salvaged it.

After going over a list of all the street fairs and fireworks shows in LA and the neighboring counties, we decided to go to Porter Ranch. It was the closest, and I figured that it would be the least crowded, since Porter Ranch backs up against miles and miles of wilderness, as opposed to the others, which were surrounded by city or suburbs on all sides. We got to the site four hours before the fireworks were scheduled, in order to take advantage of the food booths and live music that were promised. Nope, even four hours early, we couldn't park within half a mile of the site. While my back is better than it has been, it's not so robust that I wanted to commit myself to standing for several hours, and then have to walk half a mile uphill to get to my car.

We went home, and I knit for a couple more hours while I came up with Plan B. I remembered a spot on Topanga Canyon Blvd, in the Santa Monica Mountains, from which there is a clear view of the whole San Fernando Valley. An hour before dark, we headed in that direction. Near the top of the hill, we found the street lined with parked cars; apparently, I wasn't the only person who came up with this excellent idea. We positioned ourselves on the curb, and enjoyed at least three big, professional shows, and dozens of smaller ones. The best, by a wide margin, was the one at Warner Center, which made the "Extravaganza!" at Porter Ranch look dinky in comparison. If we feel like braving the crowds, and paying for parking ($15 this year), that's the one we'll head for next year.

Now, back to the knitting. I'm 1/3 done with the second shoulder of the top I've been working on, so there's still a possibility that it'll be ready for tonight.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

The Fourth of July is a difficult holiday for me. I've had a few ace Fourths related to science fiction conventions, but I don't do those any more. Some of the best parties I've ever been to have been on the Fourth, but the host of those died years ago. Since his death, I've wandered, directionless, every Fourth.

Not every Fourth-- last year, we were in Astoria. We visited a lighthouse in Washington during the day, shopped for trinkets at some thrift stores and antique malls that happened to be open near the lighthouse, and viewed the fireworks in Astoria from the lawn east of the Columbia River Maritime Museum. That was a good day, made better by the company of some good friends.

This year, I got up at dawn to put in a new lawn. Do I know how to party, or what? It's a very small lawn, so it wasn't an undo amount of work. After that, I discovered that the Travel Channel was doing a marathon of Tony Bourdain (be still my heart!): only shows set in the US, in honor of the holiday. He's my favorite background noise for knitting. His show is grittier and more political than the typical food show.

I'm past the halfway point on the first shoulder/sleeve combo. I fantasized for a moment this morning, that I'd be done in time to wear it to dinner tomorrow, but that may not be a realistic goal. Certainly not, as I'm planning to go to the other end of the Valley to catch a street fair before the fireworks.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

I didn't so much do anything today, as prepare to do things in the future. I bought fabric for sewing a few garments I need, and stuff for the garden-- hose, sprinkler, weed killer, iron supplements for the citrus, grass seed.

Then I brought everything home and got back to knitting. I'll be starting the shoulders on the top tomorrow, unless I don't knit at all.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Tom sounded like he felt a little guilty about going to a science fiction convention without me, today. I assured him that I'd rather stay home to watch TV and knit. He seemed okay when he left.

I told him that, if a surge of energy hit later on, I'd go to Home Depot and buy some weed killer; that's my idea of a good time. So far, that surge has eluded me.

I'm heading into the home stretch of the top, close enough that I'm thinking about how I'm going to shape the shoulders. It won't be done in time for the Fourth, but should be ready a day or two after that.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Today was Tom's first day of joblessness. He's been trying to stay out of my way, since I still have things to do. He spent the morning searching for a new job; the only new listing today was for something in the same neighborhood as the job where he just got laid off. Losing that wretched commute was one of the upsides of the layoff.

Rather than work on those same dead shrubs, I spent much of today digging out crabgrass. I finished one portion of the yard, only to find that, with the crabgrass gone, there's hardly any greenery left. Once I've had a chance to rest and cool off, I'll have to pick up some grass seed.

The knitted top continues apace.