Sunday, September 26, 2010

The heat wave is well-established. It was 110* today, with a forecast of even hotter tomorrow, and temps continuing over 90* for the next week.

I bought irises at the farmers' market today, not flowers, but plants. It seems quite insane to even think about planting anything in this weather, especially when I won't be around to look after them for the next 10 or 12 days. I'm not excited about leaving them out of the ground for that long, either. The best option, I think, would be to plant them in a pot, and leave it indoors in the air conditioning until I get back. By then, the heat wave will have broken, and I could plant them outdoors without fear. The problem with that plan is that I don't have any potting soil on hand. They might be okay out of the ground for two weeks, as they are dormant. They might be okay with being planted during a heat wave, since the usual planting time for irises is August, anyway.

They might want to go to Oregon with me, to grow in the garden there. That would surprise them, wouldn't it? I just checked the weather, and it's 42* cooler in Astoria than it is here, and raining.

I've been dying to drive up the 395 for weeks, but the predicted highs are 104 in Bishop, 98 in Reno, and even 91 in Susanville. That last number isn't realistic, anyway. While I usually make it to Susanville in one day, when I'm traveling by myself, I usually get out at the crack of dawn. Since I'll be staying in LA to water the yard, I won't be getting out until 9 am, or so. Getting to Reno may be the best I can expect.

If I weren't so dead set on the 395, the coast would be a better option. While Healdsburg, on the 101, is almost as hot as here, it's downright pleasant on the 1: 80* in Mendocino. Maybe I'll go that way on the way back.

On the knitting front, I finished the first skein of rayon on the teal top. I got almost 8 inches of length from the one skein, so I know the 4 skeins I have on hand will be plenty to do whatever I want, in the way of summer ( sleeveless or cap-sleeved) tops.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Don't buy appliances at Home Depot. I got the bill today, for the cooktop and dishwasher I bought on Labor Day. The dishwasher was returned, unopened in the box, after a great deal of grief and complaining. The bill did not reflect that the dishwasher had been returned. It took two phone calls and half an hour on hold to get them to take the charge off the bill.

Other than that, it was a nice day. I packed some more books into the car, so all I have to do now is to throw in a duffel of clothes and an ice chest of snacks and beverages, and hit the road. I spent a bit of time with a map, thinking about a route; I enjoy the drive as much as the destination. My decision was to decide while en route. I might take the 395 all the way to Pendleton, and then follow the Columbia to Portland, or I might go closer to the coast. I'll know when I get there.

(The usual disclaimer for potential burglars: Tom will be staying home.)

In the evening, some friends came over for barbecue. I got rack of lamb at a steal yesterday, and grilled it over charcoal today, for good effect. I treated it the same way I do tri-tip, massaged with mustard and sprinkled liberally with kosher salt before grilling over direct heat until medium rare. They were yummy.

Not much knitting.

Friday, September 24, 2010

There is a great deal of stockinette involved, when one knits a top, size xxl, in fingering weight yarn. It's just as well that I like it. Making such things one after another, though, substantially slows down progress on the poor sock.

Poor sock. I took it to San Simeon with me, but only worked on the rayon top (this one in teal).

We're building up to another heat wave this weekend. I had planned to leave early Sunday, but I don't dare. My garden suffered so, last time I was gone, that I'm going to stay to water on Monday, and leave then. That also gives me one more day to pack. I'm thinking that I'll take a lot of my books to Oregon, since the Los Angeles house is packed to the gills. I assembled five giant bookcases last time I was in Oregon, so there's plenty of room for them, there. All I have to do now is gather up the gumption to pack the books.

At the county fair last week, I bought a device for the stretching of the back. It seemed remarkably effective, when I tried it at the fair. It would probably be just as effective at home, if I were to actually assemble it and use it.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Mostly knitting, today. Miles of stockinette. I like simple knitting, and simple clothes. Since I also like Irish fisherman sweaters, I'll have to learn to like cabling, too.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Back from San Simeon. Spent today picking up litter. Picking up butts is hard work. Considering proposing legislation to have smokers boiled in oil.

Monday, September 20, 2010

So busy... Have twenty minutes to do 2 hours worth of work, before going away for three days (elephant seals). Then, four days to get ready for a week or two fixing up the house in Oregon.

I was wondering why I seemed to have so little time last week. Oh, yeah-- that 30-hour class I took, in my "free time."

Saturday, September 18, 2010

A few days ago, I spotted a few ripe limes on my tree. I harvested them, and made a variant on a recipe I found earlier this summer: Brazilian Lemonade. The original had no lemons, but limes, and was sweetened with condensed milk. Since I also had some strawberries to use up, I added them to the mix. This is the result:

Pink Brazilian

3 limes, quartered but not peeled
6 oz condensed milk
1 pint strawberries, hulled

Put the limes, milk, and strawberries in a blender with enough water to cover them. Whir until the strawberries are pureed and the limes are finely chopped. Strain through a sieve, squeezing the pulp to get as much juice out as possible. Add enough water to make two-three quarts, depending on how strong you like your bevvy, and enjoy. Makes at least 4 servings.


After watching a couple of episodes of "Top Gear," Tom and I were in the mood for "The Blues Brothers." Is there any American of our vintage who doesn't revere this as a work of genius? It's such a respectful showcase for a number of great American singers and musicians who might otherwise have faded from memory. Lordy, I love me some Cab Calloway. And, if Wikianswers can be trusted, it still holds the record for the most car crashes in a single movie.

Friday, September 17, 2010

I have no idea what happened to today. I did a little knitting this morning (the sock), and a couple of chores. That accounts for... three hours, tops, but it's the middle of the afternoon. I didn't sleep in, so I have no idea how it got so late.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

I finished that class early this morning; I spent 10 hours on it yesterday. Then, I went to the dentist to have a cavity filled. Such fun. On returning home, I called the folks who were supposed to pick up the stovetop. They told me that the order would have to come from the store. I called the store; the associate I spoke to told me that the only person who could help me was off that day, but he'd have him call me tomorrow.

Tom, Man of Action, had had all he could take of the runaround. He packed the stovetop into his car, and drove to Home Depot to confront the manager. The manager agreed that, yes, the incident had been badly handled. He agreed to have the stovetop picked up from the store (Tom had brought it in with him), and to have the dishwasher that couldn't be installed picked up from our house by tomorrow morning. Then, before he came home, Tom went to the pharmacy, where he demonstrated that they had sent me gluco test strips that didn't work in my machine. Since my machine is obsolete, and the proper strips for it are no longer made, they sent a new machine, one that would work with the strips he had picked up last week.

My hero.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

I'm about halfway through with a class in natural medicine I'm taking to refresh my nursing license. I'm being "good," reading every word of the text, and not just picking out the answers to the questions on the self-administered exam that will determine whether I pass (I will).

It's a hard thing to make myself do, as useful articles about herbs with medicinal properties alternate with articles about methodologies that have been definitively debunked, or that are so far into the realm of hokum that they never could have been "bunked" in the first place. F'rinstance, the use of drops of water, taken orally, in which flowers have been floated in the sunlight, to correct flaws of character or personality. I used to read that sort of thing, when I was studying the history of magic. In my mental categories, there's a major difference between drinking ginger tea to settle an unsettled tummy, and what I just described.

There's also little or no note taken of the risks of self-treatment without knowledge. I've read, so far in this text, several recommendations for using licorice therapeutically, but no cautions that excessive consumption of licorice (either as one, large dose, or as small doses cumulatively over a long time) can damage one's liver to the degree that one must choose between transplant or death.

I'd also prefer that some difference in weight be acknowledged between double-blind studies and historical anecdote. That garlic was used as a treatment for bubonic plague in the Middle Ages impresses me not at all; as nearly 1/3 of the population of Europe died of the plague during that time, it doesn't seem to have been a very effective treatment.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Is it really only Tuesday?

I turned the heel on the sock I abandoned for 10 days while knitting the disappointing blue silk/rayon top, plus the ankle and an inch up the leg. That wouldn't be much for a whole day's work, but I also worked on the class I'm working on to refresh my nursing license, in case I have to go back to work.

And, I spent half the day looking for a dishwasher that would fit into the space under my kitchen counter. I've never had so much trouble buying an appliance! This was worse than buying a car. Finally, at the sixth store we went to, we found exactly what we needed, complete with a helpful, friendly salesman and 0% financing. Oh, where was this wonderful store, that had a dishwasher in a size unavailable in the first five stores, at a reasonable price, with free financing? Brace yourself. Sears.

Yeah, I've always thought of Sears as a purveyor of cheap, crummy stuff, like K-Mart or Target. But, this time, they really came through for me.

Not quickly, though. It won't be installed until after I leave for my next trip to Oregon, in about 2 1/2 weeks. And not too cheaply, either. We'll be paying more, both for the dishwasher and the installation, than we would have for the one that didn't fit. Hundreds of dollars more.

I don't like spending this much money, with Tom out of work. Ah, well. Retirement is overrated.

Monday, September 13, 2010

The day didn't start out badly. I woke up very early, finished watering the yard by 7, finished the blue top I'd been knitting (it fits, but doesn't look terrific), and got a call that the installer for the new appliances wouldn't be out until after 3 pm. Okay. I decided to get some sun while starting a class I'm taking to refresh my nursing license, in case I need to go back to work.

First, I couldn't find my new swimsuit, so I put on an old one. It was a little tight, so I pulled a muscle or two in my back, putting it on. One doesn't need a good back to lie in the sun and read, so I went on with the next stage of my plan-- sunbathe while studying. I went inside in time to take a bath (the hot water didn't help my back as much as I had hoped) and dress before the installer arrived. Before the installer came, I had to move some bookcases to make the doorway large enough to get the dishwasher into the kitchen.

Well, moving bookcases *does* require a good back, so I got Tom to help me. I realized the installer would need some elbow room, so I also cleared off the kitchen island, including the set of shelves that hold our tea. I had already cleared out the areas under the sink, and under the cooktop, per previous instructions.

The installer wasn't as late as he could have been; he arrived around 3:30. He took one look at the dishwasher, and one look at the space in the kitchen, and told me it wouldn't fit. It was 3/8 of an inch too tall for the space. While it was the same brand as the one it was replacing, the company had been bought out by another, which changed the measurements of their dishwashers. I asked him if he could make it fit by taking a sledgehammer to the tile (I've done tile work before), but he said it wouldn't work. There wasn't any room.

Then he went to the cooktop. He couldn't find the electric outlet he'd need for the installation, so he removed my silverware drawers. It wasn't there, so he emptied out one of my cupboards, and removed the built-in oven. Still no outlet. It became my job to empty another cupboard-- the outlet was there. Then, since the outlet was too far for the cooktop's cord to reach, I had to find a suitable three-prong extension cord. The one in the garage was too long, so I had to unplug some things in the living room to cannibalize that cord.

Then we got the estimate. Apparently, the money we had paid up front for installation was only for the routine stuff. Since our elderly cooktop wasn't hooked up according to current code, he had to replace the gas line and install a new cut-off switch for same. It was also grouted in, so he had to take it out with a chisel, causing a bit of damage to the tile counter. And, he had to drill through a couple of walls to make a place for the extension cord. The damage? $274, on top of the $119 we had already paid. Uh-- I think that's more than the cooktop cost. And, he couldn't put it on my Home Depot account (0% interest for one year) in the absence of a physical card, which hadn't come in the mail yet. Oh, well. And he couldn't haul away the old one free, as had been the original deal-- only the delivery guys could do that. And, as we didn't find out until after he had left, he broke one of the silverware drawers while putting it back in; it took twenty minutes and some major tugging and finessing to get it open, fixed, and back in.

So, after a whole day of shopping, 8 days of waiting, and $1300 spent (so far), I have a nice, new cooktop, a dining room packed to the gills with stuff removed from kitchen cupboards, an old cooktop, and a new dishwasher still in the box. The irony is that 1) I was still able to use the old cooktop. It was bad, but still functional. It's the dishwasher that totally doesn't work, and 2) the Home Depot card came in today's mail, which we picked up as soon as we had gotten the silverware drawer fixed, 20 minutes after it would have done us any good.

I sent Tom out for pizza. I didn't feel like cooking, even though I had a nice, new cooktop, and our two favorite local pizza joints are closed Mondays. I wonder why I have a headache?
Well, I finished the silk/rayon top, sewed up the shoulders, wove in the ends, and tried it on. It fits fine. Maybe it could be a little longer in the waist, or have better coverage at the armpits, but I only had so much yarn, and this was the most I could do with it.

Do I sound disappointed? I am, a bit. For all my chants of, "Plain yarn, fancy stitch; fancy yarn, plain stitch," I knit this rather plain yarn up into a top of only stockinette and garter stitch. Yeah, I'd just done several successful tops with similarly simple construction, but they were all either textured or variegated in color. This yarn wasn't totally plain-- it consisted of a slightly fuzzy ply of silk noil in pale aqua, plyed with a strand of shiny rayon in a silvery hue-- but the visual effect at a distance isn't snazzy enough to carry the project. It's a dud.

I have half a cone of this same yarn in a different colorway, this one dark teal rayon with charcoal grey silk. I think I'll do cables with that one. Cables are nice.

In the meantime, maybe I could sew a bunch of multicolored buttons onto the yoke of this thing. Or-- this might be good-- I can add purple sleeves. No, I didn't think so.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

When I estimated that I'd finish the silk/rayon top on Friday, I was making the false assumption that I knew what I wanted to do with the yoke, and that I'd then do it. Instead, I spent all day yesterday knitting something I ended up not liking, and not having enough yarn to complete. This morning, I tinked out everything I did yesterday, took a few measurements, did a little math, and started over in a different direction.

Hmmm... now I'm wondering whether I should tink back a few more rows, and make a few more changes. Nah, let's not get crazy. That's like doing too many rewrites on a story, at risk of not finishing.

Tom and I finally saw "Nanny McPhee Returns" yesterday. I had been resisting, as I had loved the original, and was afraid the sequel wouldn't live up to the standard. I was wrong to resist; the second is as charming as the first. We not only loved it, but we came home and watched the first over again on DVD.

We should have come straight home, but breakfast had been early, and lunch late, so we stopped at our after-matinee standby, LA Buffet. That's a pan-Asian buffet where I can get my sushi, while Tom can enjoy Mongolian barbecue or Chinese stir-fries. He won't touch raw fish, so LA Buffet is my only source of sushi. I was amused that it has added pizza and tacos to it's Saturday lunch buffet line. The pizza was among the worst things I've ever eaten, somehow managing to be soggy and dried out at the same time, and tasting neither of cheese nor of tomato, but only of overcooked green bell pepper. That is not only one of my least favorite flavors as a flavor, but evokes unhappy childhood memories. By evening, I was violently ill. I blame the pizza, as I kinda liked the tacos. No way would I blame the sushi; I eat it almost every week, without ill effects.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

I think of this as primarily a knitting blog. I'm free with restaurant recommendations (lunch at Cafe Orient again today: crispy shrimp!), and comments on travel and gardening, but I've mostly kept the blog empty of that which could be controversial.

In real life, politics is up there among my passions. In the afternoon, I'm knitting while watching Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow. I'm a deep-dyed liberal, have been since childhood. I've read the Bible, and can't see how any follower of Jesus can be anything else.

In the last several days, there has been a disturbing blossoming of hate speech by Republican women toward men. Some of the objects of these "ladies's" scorn are Republicans, some Democrats, but they're all men whom these women have targeted as enemies. Sarah Palin described some (journalists? I didn't get the context) as "impotent" and "limp." A generation ago, those would have come under the legal designation of "fighting words." Call a man impotent, and he's not liable for arrest for battery if he socks you in the nose. A couple of generations more in the past, and the result wouldn't have been a bloody nose, but pistols at dawn.

Yesterday, a candidate for office, another one of those good-looking brunettes who are fashionable among Republicans these days, called her opponent in the Republican primary "unmanly," and said that "this isn't a bake sale," and he should put on his "man pants." Some lefty commentators (Olbermann and Maddow, for starters) saw this as an implication that the gentleman in question is homosexual. Having seen some of her campaign's other comments about him, I think that's there, but there's more. There are plenty of manly homosexuals; the military is full of them, as is society as a whole. Among my acquaintances, there are more straight wimps than gay ones. No, the "unmanly" designation, coupled with the "bake sale" and "man pants" comments, was designed to neuter him. As there is no humanity without gender, the remark dehumanizes him in a very personal and vicious way. It's mean girl bullying, and should be accepted no more than Imus's "nappy-headed ho's" remarks.

The Sauce for the Goose Rule should be applied: blatant sexism is just as bad when women wield it against men as when men wield it against women. Ms. Palin can't be allowed to hide behind a cloak of victimhood when she's hiding a dagger under that cloak

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Went to Disneyland today, since the weather was nice (not too hot), and school is back in session. Lots of the rides were closed for refurbishment, but we had a nice visit with a cast member/friend.

I'm still working on the aqua summer top. It's a lot of stockinette, but I'm soldiering through. If I work on it for any substantial time tomorrow, I should finish. It's tempting to make skinny straps, but I know if I don't make it with shoulders substantial enough to hide a proper bra, I won't wear it.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

I saw the pain doc today; no complaints. Keep doing what I've been doing.

While I had other things I could have been doing today, most of them involved getting dirty. I didn't want to change my clothes, so I spent the day knitting. I had used up more than half the yarn when I got to the midpoint of the project (another summer top-- Angelenos never have enough hot weather clothes), so I looked for the coordinating color of the same yarn I knew I had in my stash. To my amazement, it was in the first place I looked. What's up?

I had been aging a couple of tri-tips for the last week. Today, I had Tom light a fire, and I barbecued them. I could have lit my own fire, but that would have involved changing my clothes. The kettle barbecue doesn't cook the same as the pit, but the finished product was just as delicious as the tri-tip I made for a party a few months ago.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

It was another busy day yesterday. I did all my usual chores, as well as some of today's, along with shopping for the dishwasher and cooktop, and going to a pool party at an old friend of Tom's. We decided on a Maytag dishwasher and a GE cooktop, both from Home Depot. They'll be delivered next week. It'll be nice to have appliances that work.

The schedule for today is more lightweight, as far as I can tell at this time. What I have planned is some light chores and reading. What I'll actually *do* remains to be seen.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Our next task: to buy a new dishwasher. The old one was never the same after the rat infestation last year. We've had it repaired twice, but I still suspect it of leaking, it still smells like rats, and now the "sanitize" cycle doesn't work. Rather than have it "fixed" again, we're deciding that the better part of valor is to get a new one.

Originally, we were going to completely remodel the kitchen last year, after we got rid of the rats, but we spent the money on remodeling my back, instead. We could use a new cooktop, as well as a new dishwasher, and new counters, cabinets, and flooring wouldn't hurt. Well, wouldn't hurt anything but our wallets, that is. We'll get the dishwasher, and maybe a cooktop, but wait on the remodeling until one of us is working.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

We did not go to Santa Barbara today, thank Heaven. We took it very easy, as the last couple of days have been pretty high-activity. Hint: I did all my usual chores yesterday, before going to Santa Barbara for the whole day, and then some. Today, we just went to the farmers' market to pick up some bread and fruit, fresh strawberries being the mainstay of my diet when I'm trying to keep my weight down.

After several hours of vegging, we went to see Roy Zimmerman at the Coffee Gallery. I do so enjoy his work. I've been acquainted with him, very slightly, for something close to 20 years. He's a talented songwriter and political satirist. His set tonight included some classic material that he has updated, and some new material, as well. He's always worth seeing.

Tom got an invitation to a pool party, hosted by an old friend he sees so rarely that I wouldn't be able to pick him out of a lineup. I think I've never met him, although I could be wrong about that. We accepted, for sure. No one turns down a pool party in this weather.

I was bone-tired all day, so I didn't turn the heel on the sock I'm working on. Turning heels requires a bit of concentration. Instead, I cast on another top, this one in an aquamarine rayon/silk blend. I've gotten as far as the garter stitch band at the bottom. I think I'll do the torso in a modified stockinette, with the occasional yo-k2tog, and a garter stitch yoke. That should be enough interest. Since I like to make things that are easy to knit, it's fortunate that I also like simple clothing.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Today, got another phone call from other friends, proposing a day trip to Santa Barbara. This time, we went to the zoo (Santa Barbara has a lovely little zoo), and had dinner, not lunch, at the Palace Grill. It's a whole different restaurant at dinner-- busier, louder, with fancier food, and more expensive. Except for the killer traffic on the way north, we had a great time.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Had a lovely day in Santa Barbara with Sharon and Tom. We saw the robot zoo at the Natural History Museum, ate lunch at the Palace (best Cajun/Creole restaurant west of the Rockies, if not the Mississippi), and hit the lovely yarn store, Knit and Pearl. I managed to resist the yarn, but bought Charlene Schurch's "More Fabulous Handknit Socks." I probably got the title wrong, but it's the follow-up to my go-to sock book, the one I usually knit projects from, after consulting all my other books.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Today is my birthday, and I've been celebrating it, mostly, by cooking. I made a Dutch Babyfor dinner last night. This morning, for breakfast, I made grits, eggs, and home cured back bacon. I didn't make lunch (breakfast was late), but made coconut bars for myself, and stupid bars for Tom.

By the time I'd finished my legally-mandated chores (watering the yard-- honest, we're only allowed to water during a few hours of the week) and enjoyed my breakfast, it was too hot to do anything outside, so there's not a lot to write about. Later, Tom and I are going out for Brazilian churrascuria with a few friends.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

I only worked on the yard for an hour or so, but, once I've filled all three green barrels, what more can I do? Similarly, I only worked on the garage for half an hour, but the black barrel was full by that time, so I declared an end to hostilities.