Tuesday, August 31, 2010

I got a phone call I found disturbing today. The man on the other end of the line claimed to be from my insurance company, and repeatedly asked for personal information, even after I told him that I did not want to participate in the program he had described. I told him that I didn't give personal information over the phone, and hung up on him.

Later, I got a letter from the same insurance company, telling me that they'd be phoning and asking for the information that he had asked for. The letter included a number to call, if I wished to opt out. Gee, it would have been nice if the letter had come before the phone call. The letter also included what it considered to be helpful hints about dealing with chronic back pain, such as asking my doctor if I should be taking Motrin, asking my doctor what my ideal body weight is, and, if I'm above my ideal body weight, dieting to lose weight.

Yeah. Like I haven't been taking Motrin for the last ten years or more. Like there might be a fat person who doesn't know she's fat, and has to ask her doctor whether she is. Like obesity is entirely a matter of ignorance, that can be cured by simply going on a diet.

If dieting cured obesity, no one who has ever gone on a diet would be fat, right? It's simple logic.

I'm half decided to phone that insurance company, and tell them what they can do with their helpful hints.

On a lighter note, I downloaded the recipe for a pretty lace scarf that wouldn't be too hard for me. I even found the perfect yarn for it, a variegated laceweight alpaca, in my stash. The scarf will have to wait, though. While I was looking for the laceweight alpaca, I came across an oddly colored skein of Malabrigo sock yarn, brick red, gold, and purple, that enchanted me as much as when I found it in my LYS. I'm past the toe increases, and one pattern repetition onto the foot of a sock that won't go with anything I own, but which will surely become a favorite. The colorway is just so... spooky.
The cotton/rayon top I've been working on is almost dry, having been finished and blocked yesterday. I'm looking forward to wearing it to my birthday party in a couple of days.

I haven't knit a stitch in almost 24 hours, and I'm beginning to twitch. What to knit, what to knit...

Monday, August 30, 2010

I make dynamite chocolate pudding, if I do say so myself. I start with the recipe from Jane and Michael Stern's (no relation) classic, "Square Meals." I make a couple of alterations due to impatience and necessity: I use 2% milk instead of light cream, as light cream is something I don't keep in the house, and I cook in a saucepan directly on the burner instead of a double boiler because cooking pudding in a double boiler takes forever. Then, when the pudding is cooked (the recipe having been doubled because I love it so), I add half a pound of best-quality dark chocolate, stir until the chocolate is melted and the pudding is smooth, stir in a splash of vanilla, pour it into whatever container I want to serve it from, press plastic wrap over the surface to keep a skin from forming, and retire to the living room, where I will lick the pan, whisk, silicon spatula, and whatever other instrument has been made to taste like chocolate heaven.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

I've actually been back in LA for a few days, but the first day back, I was too tired to blog after an 18-hour drive. Next day, I was down with a sick headache, an expected sequel to the 18-hour drive. That I didn't blog yesterday, I can only attribute to being out of the habit.

While I was in Oregon, I spent a week being a tourist, sightseeing and such, and two weeks being a resident. I assembled all five giant bookcases Tom and I bought on our last trip, which was even harder work than I had anticipated. I planted a pretty mixed border in my front yard, consisting of hostas, salvia, perovskias, dwarf conifers, and rugosa roses. While those are all things that are deer-resistant to one degree or another, I put up deer fencing around that bed, and two others that contain hybrid tea roses the deer haven't allowed to bloom in the three summers since they were planted. The deer have been particularly desperate this year, and I don't want them to take our house's name, "Bambi's Buffet," too seriously.

I left half my clothes in Oregon, some on purpose, some by mistake. I went through my stash of "skinny jeans" this morning, and found that I have enough in my current size that I don't have to make an emergency trip to the mall.

In Oregon, I pulled about a million dandelions. If dandelions were made of gold, I'd be a very wealthy woman. Tom pointed out that, if dandelions were made of gold, a different monetary standard would be in play. No, because only MY dandelions would be made of gold. It's my fantasy, and I can milk it the way I want.

I did get extravagantly lost, one evening in Astoria when I was walking the dogs. Astoria consists of an idea city, with a neat, right-angle grid of numbered streets running north-south, and named streets, in alphabetical order, running east west, superimposed on a real city on steep hills. As it's impossible to lay a neat, right-angle grid over the complicated topography of a volcanic peninsula, the actual streets stop, start, and curve as they must. However, there are signs every few yards, indicating the locations of the ideal, but not real, streets. Most of these signs indicate, not a street, but a private driveway, or, less often, a footpath. After I found my way home, I phoned Tom, and told him all about my adventure. His comment? "Ah, the Winchester Mystery Town." You don't get it? Trust me, to a Californian, that was hilarious.

My yard here suffered while I was away. Tom meant well, but he doesn't know plants any better than I know computers. I think most of the plants will recover, except the new portion of lawn I planted this spring, an orange tree, and a few rose bushes. Those are dead, dead, dead. The rest was just mostly, dead, which is, as we learned from "The Princess Bride," still a little bit alive.

While in Oregon, I finished the alpaca socks I started for Tom before I left LA, in a nice faux-cable stitch. That done, I started a cotton-rayon summer top for myself, knit armhole to middle on both sides. I just finished attaching the two sides, with a three-needle bind-off. Next, I'll stitch up the side seams, and try it on. Once I knit a neck treatment and weave in the ends, it'll be done. I held together a fingering-weight rayon boucle in a sagey green with a sport-weight cotton/rayon blend in various pastels, in wide stripes. I knit the whole thing in stockinette, but now I think the color effect is more effective on the reverse, so I'll probably weave in the ends to make the reverse side work as the outside. Does that make sense?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Sorry, folks, but this unfamiliar keyboard is torture for me. I've never told you how much I hate to type, have I? Sometimes, I claim that I went into nursing so I wouldn't have to learn to type. Other times, I say it's so I could wear flats to work. Either way, I won't be blogging much until I get back to LA.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Blogging from Safeway. Other than not being familiar with this keyboard, it seems to work. More another time, when I'm not boring my local tech support.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

It's always hit-or-miss, whether I'll be able to get Internet, here in Astoria, or whether I'll have the time and energy to blog. I've been doing the vacation-thing pretty hard, and hit the bed like a rock, much earlier than I do at home.

Gotta run-- it's Regatta time, and there's more fun to be had.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Blogging from the road: this is a first for me. I'm not accustomed to this machine, so bear with me.

It's cool and overcast, here on the Oregon Coast, as usual. I'd me more excited about this, if the weather in LA had been its typical August inferno. Instead, I've only had the change from on-the-warm-side-of-pleasant to on-the-cool-side-of-pleasant. Still pleasant, though.

It took me two days to get here, as a three-hour traffic jam in the middle of nowhere prevented me from getting past Redding on the first day. I started out the second day way before dawn, so I had plenty of time to visit the Oregon Gardens, in Silverton. It was nice, but not spectacular. I'd rank it as my seventh favorite botanical garden on the West Coast, and I've only visited seven. If we extend the comparison farther afield, it does even worse, as there are a couple of gardens in Arizona that are first-rate. I liked the Oregon Garden a lot better than the Harry Leu Garden in Orlando, though. Of course, I was coming down with some sort of flu-like illness when I was a the Leu, so my judgement may have been impaired.

I was disappointed to find the forested vacant lot on the right of our home in Astoria converted into a construction site. Disappointed, but not surprised-- the new owners of the lot had contacted me before they broke ground. The only thing I could really complain about was that the workmen had dumped some of their construction debris on our patio; I did complain, and they moved it. I think some tree stumps have been dumped on the back of our lot, but I'm not sure, as I don't know exactly where the lot line is. I know, from the lot map, that our lot ends even with the second lot on the next street, but, since people around here don't fence their yards, I don't know exactly where that lot ends, either. I'll keep quiet about the stumps, for now. Who knows? I might decide to salvage them for tables or something.

I'm not sure I'll be able to blog again before coming home. I don't have Internet at the house, and it's uncertain whether I'll be motivated to go to the library or Safeway to hook up there. It's uncertain whether I'd even be able to get online again without Tom's on-hand guidance. I'm better with roses, or yarn, than I am with computers.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

I've been working in the back of my back yard. Since I tend to work from the front of my property toward the back, and I've been mostly laid up with a bad back for the last couple of years, there's a lot of work to be done there. If I hired a half dozen workmen with chain saws and a dumpster, they might be able to get it done in a day, but I'm by myself, with hand tools and 3 green bins.

I'm hot and exhausted after filling only one green bin, even though the weather's not that bad. We're talking neglected climbing roses and citrus trees, with weed trees (Texas privet and tree of paradise) among them, and passion vine intertwined with it all. I'd like to pace myself, but I'm leaving for Oregon in the am, and not coming back for weeks (note to burglars: Tom will be home). I think of the growth that the weeds could put on during those weeks, and I want to finish today.

Last time we were in Oregon, we bought several bookcases, which I intend to assemble this time. I also bought a bunch of antlers. I downloaded instructions on how to turn them into a chandelier; it doesn't look hard, not for a committed crafter such as I. I also have to repaint the patio, which I painted last year. Apparently, in this climate, painting patios is an annual affair.

Since I have to be back for my birthday, I'm going to be a busy baby. I hope I have some time to knit. Note to self: remember to pack knitting.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

I had another go at cleaning the garage today. It's lucky that I only have one black bin, and one blue bin, as that limits how much I can do in one day. Otherwise, I'd blow out my back for sure.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

After finishing the toe increases on the new alpaca socks, I decided I wasn't satisfied with the fabric I was getting, so I ripped it all back, and started over on smaller needles. Now, I'm a little past where I was when I ripped it out.

I should go into a little detail about my new slippers, which I wore this morning, and which are very, very comfortable. They're done in Lamb's Pride Worsted, held double, and knit on #10 needles. This yielded a very dense fabric. I cast on 22 by the Magic method http://www.knitty.com/ISSUEspring06/FEATmagiccaston.html
increased to 38, knit even (all in stockinette) until I had a total of 8 inches, did a short-row heel, an inch and a half of ankle, and cast off on size 13 needles for flexibility. I washed them in cold water, gentle cycle, hoping for a slight fulling, but not a full felting. They could stand more fulling, but they're quite wearable as is.

Monday, August 02, 2010

I got a "Thank you" note from the President! Okay, it was a form note, but it was hand-signed. Okay, the signature might have been an autopen, but that's just as good, right?

He looked cold, when he was walking toward his inauguration, so I knit him a hat. It was a nice stocking cap, in natural black, American-raised alpaca. Just yesterday, I commented that, as I hadn't gotten a note, I assumed it went straight to a local charity there in DC, without the President ever having seen it, and today I get the note!

I didn't have quite enough pink yarn to do the slippers in, so I gave them blue cuffs. Rather than knit them enormous and felt them, I only knit them big, and fulled them a little. I like wooly slippers.

After finishing the slippers, I started on a pair of alpaca socks. The colorway is probably "Marine," but, as the label is damaged, it could just as easily be "Marina." It's a lovely blue-green mixture, with dabs of brown and purple. I'm looking forward to seeing how the pattern evolves.
It's a good thing I don't have any errands to run today, and not many chores. While I was starting to do some work in the yard, a spider bit me. I took two Benadryl, so I'll be taking a nap, now.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

After three loads of dishes and three loads of laundry, most of the damage from last night's party is undone. One of our guests from last night declared today "National Do-Nothing Day." Tom and I heartily agree.

Next project: Felted slippers?
The clock says it's Sunday morning, but any reasonable person would know that it's Saturday night.

When I went to the Persian market this morning, picking up groceries for the party, the clerk surveyed my purchases and said, "Where are you from?" I took this to mean, "You don't look Persian, but you sure shop like one," so I considered it a compliment and quoted her all evening.

Last week, when we took the dogs to the vet for routine immunizations, I asked the desk clerk where he was from. He told me, "Mexico." In the current climate, it could be scary or insulting to a Latino to be asked where he's from, so I explained, "I thought I heard a Cuban accent." He said, "Thank you." Funny that he'd consider it a compliment to be mistaken for Cuban, unless he was reading my mind. He was amazingly handsome, enough that I started hearing "Babalu" in the back of my head. I have noticed for years that Cuban-American women are stunning, enough that I formed a theory that only Cubans with beautiful daughters emigrated. I was on the verge of deciding that those beautiful daughters had handsome brothers, when I asked the vet's clerk where he was from. If he had been reading my mind, he would have known that, "I thought you might be Cuban," means, "You're gorgeous."

Enough diversion. The party was a little smaller than I expected, which would have meant I'd be left with a horrifying amount of leftovers, but I was able to persuade most of the guests to leave with care packages. I won't have to cook for a few days. I won't have to go to the farmers' market tomorrow, either; the fridges are full to bursting.

I wore the red top I made a couple of weeks ago, and got a lot of compliments on it. Tomorrow, I'll start a new project.