Wednesday, December 31, 2003

New Year graphic pulled to save bandwidth
Happy 2004, everyone!

Monday, December 15, 2003

Holiday graphic pulled to save bandwidth
Hey kids! It's becoming too difficult to get any computer time at Casa de YarnOver during the flood restoration. So I'm gonna hang up the blog for a few weeks.

See everyone in 2004! Have a safe and healthy holiday season!

Friday, December 12, 2003

OK! The whining of yesterday is officially over. Got lots of nice cyberhugs from my readers, I did! Made me feel much better. Break out the gingerbread cookies! Oh. I forgot I'm on a diet. OK, a round of protein shakes for all! Soy-based and everything! Oh. You don't want one. (don't blame you, actually!)

Here's how I'm getting myself into the Christmas spirit at work:

My Own Little Christmas Tree (about 18" in height)

True Confessions Time
I have a dirty little secret. I don't always swatch for gauge. Most of the time, I escape without serious injury to myself or the knitted item. But occasionally I have a flat-out disaster.

What Is It?

I Know! It's a Felted Candy Dish!

The CSI team is still on-site, investigating. Their preliminary findings indicate that the perpetrator attempted to knit a Bucket O'Chic hat in Lamb's Pride worsted. Further investigation revealed that perpetrator allegedly knit said bucket without swatching for gauge. Hence, the senseless felting of innocent Lamb's Pride into something resembling a winter hat for Strawberry Shortcake.

Happy Friday, everyone!

Thursday, December 11, 2003

I'm tired.
Pretty much mired.

Feelin' low.
Lost that glow.
San Diego; no snow.

What's a girl to do,
But whine to you.
I'm gonna go get a Coke.
Somebody tell a joke.

This time of the year is rarely festive for me. DH's busiest time of the year at work occurs smack in the middle of the holiday season. RockStar's mom has only let us have him once for Christmas (he's 15); he heads back to North Carolina next week. My house is torn apart during the flood restoration. I miss my family in Oregon terribly.

I need a big ol' shot of Christmas Spirit, stat!

Just so y'all don't think I'm a total schmuck, I consider myself extremely blessed in my life and family. Just had to let off steam, know what I mean? Good.

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

I'm not going to bore you with endless pictures of the Aran Poncho as it progresses. Instead, I'll treat you to what came in the mail over the last few days:

Peruvian Connection Baby Cashmere from Elann

Estelle Mohair Shawl from Ram Wools

Patons "Pull Up Your Socks" Book from Ram Wools

Hope everyone is getting the Christmas spirit! Personally, my decorating theme this year involves fresh drywall and spackle, but feel free to choose something that might be a bit more, well, traditional.

Happy Wednesday, everyone.

Monday, December 08, 2003

The Cavalry Has Arrived!
The contractors are arriving to start the drywall work at our house, apres flood. Posting may be a bit spotty since one of the affected areas is the home office and there'll probably be a few days with no computer access.

Weekend Hijinx
Actually knit a few rows on Aran Poncho while at, of all things, a Los Angeles Kings hockey game! Mind you, all knitular activity was accomplished prior to the faceoff -- RockStar kept giving me anxious looks and finally couldn't control himself. "You're not going to knit during the game, are you?" he asked. "No, don't worry. I won't embarrass you in front of all these macho Kings fans," I replied. The tix were freebies, courtesy of my BIL. He assists in recording stats while his old hometown team, the Washington Capitals, play on the West Coast.

Made for a loooong day (didn't get home from LA until after midnight), but we got to show RockStar a bit of LA (Santa Monica), which he thought was quite cool. We dined outside at a cafe on the Promenade, where he was transfixed by a very talented flamenco guitarist busking on the street. Yes, dining outside in December. It's one of the nicest perks of living in Southern California. RockStar is transitioning from heavy metal to classical guitar (think Andres Segovia). It's quite beautiful to listen to, but the long fingernails on his picking hand are a bit disconcerting until you get used to them. All in all, a very nice day was had by all.

Happy Monday, everyone.

Friday, December 05, 2003

A New Cubicle Visitor
This little fellow flew into my cubicle yesterday, courtesy of a coworker who also owns a parrot. We indulge in "bird-speak" quite a bit. People think we're nuts, but anyone who owns a parrot would understand.

Peep! Peep!

He now lives in a quiet corner of my cubicle, sparkling in the light of a small lamp. My cube is in a kind of dark corner of the office, and the auxiliary light helps. Plus, it shines on that handsome couple in the picture! (aw, aren't they cute?)

Serenity in Cubeville

Happy Friday, everyone.

Thursday, December 04, 2003

Blogger is Weird
I don't understand its capricious whims. To quote Forrest Gump, "that's all I have to say about that."

C'mon! We're Going to the Frog Pond!
But it's a good thing, really. When I started the Aran Poncho, I cast onto circular needles without thinking. I'm not liking the results. The "pull" of the circular cables is causing some loose-looking stitches that I'm not happy with. So I'm frogging and recasting onto my favorite Swallow casein needles today. I know a lot of people like to do flat knitting on circulars, but it seems I ain't one of 'em.

Happy Thursday! One day closer to Friday!

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Poncho Progress
Didn't have time to felt the Bucket-O-Chic hat last night, but I did have a few minutes to finish up the first pattern repeat of Aran Poncho:

One Down, Many More to Go

Feelin' The Love
Got a package in the mail from Elann yesterday ... new patterns!

Cabin Fever Shawl Pattern: Evening in Eden

Eyelet Ribbed Top by Jackie Erickson-Schweitzer

From Stahl #22

Gotta keep this short -- lots to do today. Happy Wednesday, everyone.

Monday, December 01, 2003

Felt Me, Baby
Betwixt cooking, housework avoidance, and general merriment over the long holiday weekend, I worked on this:

Looks Kinda Like Roadkill, Doesn't It?

It's a pre-felted, Bucket-O-Chic hat for my 6yo niece. I made it in Lamb's Pride, Amethyst shade. The Lamb's Pride has that touch o' mohair in it, which makes it very nice to work with.

I just couldn't bring myself to seam up LoTech Sangria this weekend. Just felt like too much work. I have to be in a certain Zen state to tackle a bunch of mattress stitching, and I just wasn't feelin' it. So it's simmering gently in the WIP pile for now. I did find one of the reasons that the hood is too big -- silly me, I knitted an extra 4" onto the length of the hood. Yup, that'll do it. So we have a semi-frog situation on our hands, which will be dealt with in due time.

Meanwhile, I needed a "car knitting" project to work on while RockStar is at his weekly guitar lesson. So I started the Aran Poncho from Lopi #21:

From Little Seeds Grow Big Ponchos

The Lite Lopi is definitely scratchier than the Lamb's Pride, but since it'll be outerwear it won't be a problem. The poncho design is by Nora Gaughan. I love her work -- no errors (so far) and a classic take on a funky clothing item.

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like "Less-Mass"
Yeah, I'm probably nuts to be doing this during holiday season, but I've started a serious diet. I'm on the Medifast plan for at least the next few months. I tossed around a lot of ideas (Weight Watchers, SlimFast, Atkins, etc.) and decided that this plan would be the safest, most effective way to shed the excess weight. Plus, it's not cheap, so I'm motivated by not wasting the money I've invested in the Medifast products. I started on Saturday, November 29th, so I was able to enjoy Thanksgiving. I don't have any entertaining plans for Christmas, so it seemed like a good time to start this project.

I'm doing the Full Fast for the first 2 weeks, then will consider going to the Modified Fast for the duration. Full Fast is pretty austere -- 1 Medifast Oatmeal (breakfast), 2 Medifast protein shakes during the day, Medifast Chili for dinner, and a 3rd shake at 8pm. Plus a big handful of vitamins, and gallons of water. The Modified Fast substitutes a sensible dinner of 4oz of protein (chicken breast), salad w/fatfree dressing, and non-starchy veggie. Look for a meter of some sort on the side of the page to track my progress.

Happy Monday, everyone.

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

No pitchas today, kiddies. Still plugging away on the button bands for LoTech Papoose-a-Long Sangria. Mebbe after Turkey Day, hokay?

You're Such a Blockhead, Charlie Brown
A coworker has taken up knitting again after a long hiatus. She dropped by Chez Cube to ask, "How important is it to block your work? And do you need all the fancy blocking tools they sell?" I answered, "Yes, you absolutely need to block your work, and no, I've made do with my floor and towels for years." I really tried communicate to her that taking the time to properly block and finish your knitting makes all the difference between a finely-crafted piece of handmade clothing and a lumpy blob that smacks of "loving hands at home." The only thing I insisted she invest in were rust-proof pins. After that, you can pin on towels on the floor, on a piece of insulating tile, whatever floats your boat. As for myself, I think if I was to spring for any of the fancy blocking toys available, it'd be either blocking wires or a gridded blocking board. Hey, Santa! Ya listening?

Strange Jobs I've Held #3
Well, that title isn't quite accurate. The job itself (selling clothes at a store in a mall during the Christmas shopping season) was pretty pedestrian, but the customers were sometimes anything but. This was another in a series of post-divorce, part-time (after a full day at my regular job), pay-off-the-credit-cards gigs. Strange the things you find out about yourself -- I'm a very shy person, but I'm actually quite a good salesperson. In the short time I actually worked at Store X, I developed a return customer base and did quite well. Bummer I wasn't on commission.

The nights were crazy-busy but fun. Most of the holiday shoppers were in pretty good moods, and I was able to shrug off the occasional Scrooge. Until the night the gypsies came to the mall. Perhaps you've seen gypsies depicted in the books and movies. A fairly accurate portrayal of gypsies is the 1978 movie "King of the Gypsies" starring Eric Roberts. They truly are a vagabond bunch, and live outside society's restrictions. They have no compunctions about using their children to create distractions, during which they'll steal a merchant blind.

At first sighting, the jungle drums started beating and stores up and down the mall began calling each other to spread the word that we had gypsies.

Sure enough, about an hour after the initial warning, the gypsies descended upon our store. Three young women, two old grandmothers, six kids under 10 years old, and two swarthy, slickly dressed men, one in his 20s and one in his 40s.

The kids immediately started running in and out of the rounders (the circular clothing racks), dressing rooms, the employee's break room in the back, in a word, anywhere they could get to. While kid-chaos ensued, the women, chattering like magpies in some Romney-Hungarian dialect, started grabbing huge armloads of clothes and dragging them to the dressing rooms. The men went to the back of the store near the cash registers where 2 rounders of leather coats was placed. There were locks on the hangers, and the men started demanding that we unlock the coats so they could try them on. The fact that they were women's coats didn't phase them at all.

All this happened in the space of less than 2 minutes. It was 3 store employees versus 13 gypsies. We didn't stand a chance. One of us manned the dressing rooms, one stayed with the men trying on leather coats, and one tried to keep track of six running, screaming gypsy children.

The women in the dressing rooms loudly demanded that we, "Get me this in size 6!" "I want this in black! Black!" and "Go! Go get my husband! I want him to see me in this!" The two grandmothers, both wizened-looking little women who might have been anywhere from 50 to 90 years old, crept around fingering scarves and earrings. We'd been warned from the other stores in the mall about how the gypsies operated, and it was true to form. Create as much chaos and distraction as possible, and steal as much as you can.

After about 20 minutes of madness, the gypsies clattered and banged their way out of the store. We didn't lose any leather coats, but the manager estimated we lost about 8 pair of jeans, 3 sweaters, and handfuls of t-shirts. We found out later that other stores got hit as well. Wilsons Leather (who doesn't lock their displays) lost a bunch of merchandise. Amazing, and unlike anything I've experienced before or since.

Happy Turkey Day, everyone!

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Another Knitting Amy!
This brings us to six. We are Amy. We are legion.

Quixotic Moments Amy

  • Got me some new peeps, I did:

    Exile in Cubeville

    Vera Wang. Very chi-chi. Plus, my eyes aren't crossed at the end of a full day of pixel pushing.

    Issues in the Hood
    Hmmm. I think I shoulda turned left at Albuquerque, as Bugs Bunny used to say. The hood for LoTech Sangria is rather, well, big. I bound off the moss-stitched edging and plopped it on my head last night. I looked like Death in Monte Python's The Meaning of Life ("It was ... the salmon mousse!") I could carry a newborn baby in this thing; it's that big. Sooo, I'm going to go ahead and finish the button bands and sew up the darn thing. We may be heading for a dunk in the frog pond over the Thanksgiving holiday, at least for the hood. Stay tuned.

    Friday, November 21, 2003

    Laid Out on a Slab
    I'm about halfway through the hood for LoTech Sangria. Knitting it is about as exciting as watching paint dry. It's times like this I wish I had one of those nifty Bond Ultimate Sweater Machines so I can zoop-zoop the carriage back 'n forth and bang out this big 'ol slab of stockinette. Maybe a USM should go on my Christmas list? Hmmm … it sure would be nice to avoid this:

    Cruel & Unusual Punishment: The Endless Stockinette Hood

    Speaking of Christmas …
    Does anyone remember Ideals magazines?

    Ideals Christmas issues from the early 1970s

    The coming of the Christmas season always brings up memories of the new Ideals Christmas issue arriving at my grandma's house. Ideals and the Sears Wish Book were my big escapes during the holiday season. Ideals issues were published for major holidays like Christmas, Easter, and Thanksgiving, but there were also seasonal issues for Summer, etc. Ideals magazines were uber-wholesome, and had gorgeous, Technicolor-bright photography. I remember beautiful photographs of snowy fields, indoor photographs of glittery, decorated Christmas trees in peaceful, idyllic homes, and lavish food spreads. In the older Ideals there were never any people, just empty scenes to imagine yourself in. I didn't pay much attention to the limited text -- they were heavy on Bible passages and poems and didn't appeal to me. But the photographs transported me to a colorful, make-believe world and no doubt influenced my eventual career choice as a graphic designer.

    Happy Friday, everyone.

    Tuesday, November 18, 2003

    I'm an Amy, You're an Amy, Dontcha Wanna Be an Amy, Too?

    Apologies to Marcia for appropriating the Dr. Pepper (Dr. Heifer?) song for myself :-)

    Must be a crafty imperative -- if you're named Amy, You Must Knit!

    Knitty Amy:

  • IndiGirl Amy:

  • And our newest Amy:

  • Oops! A Late-Breaking Amy, courtesy of Kerstin. It's Cyborgoddess Amy:

  • And of course, moi.

    Awright, I realize 4 5 doth not a gang make, but I thought it a bit of a coinky-dink.

    New Pattern Alert!
    Bonne Marie Burns of ChicKnits fame has published the long-anticipated pattern for Mrs. CB's Camp Jacket. Bonne's mom made the original jacket many years ago. Bonne collaborated with her mom to recreate and improve the jacket. The pattern is a bargain at $4.95, available on Bonne's website for immediate purchase and download.

    Meanwhile, Back in LoTech Land
    Still plugging away at the LoTech Sangria. Should have the sleeves finished tonight (woo hoo!) My blog sistah Marcia described it as looking thus, and so it shall be known from now on.

    Sleeves of Fruity Goodness!

    A Wooly AND Worthy Charity

    Teresa, Deb, and Wendy have created a wonderful charity for this holiday season. Read all about The KnitBloggers Knitting Basket Project here.

    Tuesday, November 11, 2003

    Update from the Ark (Thurs. 11/13): Insurance Adjuster and Contractor's Estimator toured the wreckage yesterday. I don't think I was supposed to hear this, but I overheard Insurance Adjuster say to Estimator, "Oh my goodness. I wasn't expecting this." The upshot is that we're getting all new carpet on the 2nd floor, plus the entire stairway. All drywall, trim work, and painting of the affected walls will be done. We're going to pay to have the rest of the interior of the house painted: 1) because it needs it; and 2) the workers are there and working, anyway, so why not get it all done at once. 2-3 week leadtime before they can get started, but the actual work will take only a few weeks. Hopefully, we'll have a fully restored house in time for the New Year. Thank you to everyone for your kind comments and encouragement during this rather trying time for our family.

    I've never been a huge Elizabeth Zimmerman fan, but her famous quote has been appropriate for me during the last few weeks:

    Knit on,
    with confidence and hope,
    through all crises.

    And so I have. Here's the proof:

    Got Your Back

    Left & Right Front

    Two! Two! Two Sleeves at Once!

    Protecting Me & Mine
    After the latest crisis, I've decided to implement new security procedures here at Casa de YarnOver. Here's my new Security Team, flying in from Mexico this afternoon:

    Badges? We Don't Need No Stinking Badges!

    Their job is to maintain order and prevent future teenage hijinks via strategic ankle nipping. Seriously, my mother thinks I've blown a circuit because I want to get one of these little hairless wonders someday. I've got a Coach bucket bag all picked out for him/her to ride around in. Plus, these little guys are always in need of chic little sweaters for warmth.

    I must have been influenced during my 2-year stint of living in La Jolla. Rich ladies, young and old, carried teeny dogs around town in designer handbags all the time. Saw it while living in Palm Springs, too. Though I haven't got the "rich" part figured out, yet ...

    Kerstin says that the phrase "cute chihuahua" is an oxymoron. Hmmph. She's adopting a cute kittycat very soon and may be just slightly biased :-)

    Wish Me Luck
    The insurance adjuster visits Ground Zero tomorrow. This should be interesting ... before they've even visited the house, they're already on the offensive, saying, "Well, you realize we're not going to replace all your carpet, right?" Uh, I beg to differ. The water reached all the rooms upstairs. That constitutes complete replacement in my book. We've got a real fireball of an attorney waiting in the wings, just in case. I hope it doesn't come to that. I don't want anything more expensive than what I had. I'm not out to rip off the insurance company. I just want my house restored back to the way it used to be. That's all.

    Please take a moment today to remember our veterans, current and past, and the sacrifices they've made for all of us.

    Wednesday, November 05, 2003

    Update from The Ark (Friday, 11/07): Demolition crew at our house Thursday from 1pm to 10pm. Downstairs bathroom (immediately below the flooded upstairs bathroom) was completely gutted to down to the wall studs. Upstairs carpeting torn out on the landing, office, RockStar's room, and part of master bedroom. Carpeting for the entire upstairs will have to be replaced. Drywall gutted next to and behind the refrigerator (walls abut downstairs bathroom). Drywall gutted in garage (walls abut downstairs bathroom). Furnace & hotwater heater will have to be professionally removed and the platform they rest on rebuilt. Entire affected areas powerwashed and disinfected. Six noisy blowers and two huge dehumidifiers left running all night. Damages will total around $15,000. That was one expensive clogged toilet, RockStar.

    Will This Teenager Live to See Adulthood?
    RockStar is working my last nerve, I tell ya. No knitting news tonight as I have a semi-urgent plumbing emergency to deal with as soon as I get home. Said incident involves a clogged toilet, stuck (open) water valve, gallons of water running out of the bathroom into the hall and 2 bedrooms, down through the walls, and into the garage. Stanley Steemer and their water extraction thingy to the rescue at 5pm. The only reason the 2nd level of my house isn't collapsed onto the 1st floor is the mad ShopVac'ing of gallons of water, done at 9pm last night. This isn't RockStar's first plumbing offense, but it's certainly going to be the most expensive. He's been warned several times about his poor treatment of the house plumbing. Reparations to besieged parental units will be factored in at some future date. Probably in the form of fewer musical lessons or some other impact-ful item.

    So to amuse you until I can return to Pure Knitting Content, I present several of the jobs I've held prior to graduating from college:

    Strange Jobs I've Held #1
    My first real job, after the obligatory babysitting, was as a waitress in a truckstop diner in a very rural part of Oregon. I was 15 years old. I served breakfast, lunch and dinner to flannel-shirt and Levi's-clad loggers either on their way to or out of the Oregon woods. Not exactly a dainty bunch. But they were always polite to me, and left very nice tips. One of the younger loggers even asked me out, sort of. I returned to bus their table after they'd left, and the cute young one left his phone number, written in mustard from a squirt bottle, across his plate. No, I didn't call him! I'm not that kind of girl, thank you very much. But it's a fun story.

    Strange Jobs I've Held #2
    After my divorce, I had a pile of credit card bills to pay off. My sister was working an outside sales job for a temporary staffing agency, and clued me in on a part-time evening job at the Oregon Health Sciences Center (a teaching hospital in Portland). The job, according to her, was super easy: walk around the hospital with a little steel cart and stock various nursing stations with nursy stuff like cotton balls and tongue depressors.

    I reported for work the next night, and hooked up with 1 little cynical guy and 1 huge guy who spoke in monosyllables. Cynical Guy took one look and me and laughed. At this point, I started to get worried. "C'mon," he said, "If we get all our work done, we get to leave early." We take an elevator deep into the bowels of the hospital. Cynical Guy points to a rolling steel cart at least a foot taller than me that weighed (what felt like) 200 lbs. It was also nearly unmaneuverable. "Grab a cart," he says, "and follow me."

    So Monosyllabic Guy and I grab carts and follow Cynical Guy and his cart down the hall to the service elevator. I can barely push this friggin' monstrosity of a cart, and inwardly I'm cursing my sister for getting me into this mess. "Just get through tonight, and quit tomorrow," I told myself. We go up to one of the upper floors of the hospital, and wrestle the carts out into the hallway. "Follow me," says Mr. Cynical, "and don't bump into any of the equipment in the halls. They're worth big bucks and they'll have our asses if we break any of them." He and Monosyllable Guy speedwalk their steel carts down the hall, nimbly maneuvering the carts around the delicate equipment. Great. Now I have to worry about running a 200-lb steel trolley into a heart monitor or dialysis machine.

    We trundle down the hall to a Surgical Unit. Cynical Guy goes in and starts heaving sealed plastic bags out into the hallway. The bags contain blood- and fluid-streaked discarded surgical clothing. They also have prominent biohazard stickers all over them. We toss the bags into bins on the steel carts and speedwalk to the next collection point. And that was my "super easy" temporary job, courtesy of my sis. During a much-too-short break on an outdoor loading dock, Cynical Guy gives me a once-over and asks if I'm going to make it through the next 3 hours. "No problem," I say. I'll be damned if this twerp is going to get the best of me.

    Near the end of the shift, as we're wrapping up collections at the last surgical area, this chick goes tripping past us with a dainty steel cart full of nice, light supplies like, oh, tongue depressors and cotton balls. She's smiling, and tosses a cheery, "Good evening!" to our steel biohazard train. I'm totally pitted out with sweat, out of breath, and my hair is straggling in my face. I watch Little Miss Tongue Depressor tip-tap her way down the hall, and vow to kill have a word with my sister when I get home.

    Maybe next time I'll tell you about the other temporary job my sis got me applying fake nails at the Oregon State Fair.

    Monday, November 03, 2003

    Whoop! Whoop! Project Alert!
    Much as I'd like to participate in Kerstin's D.B. Biker Knit-a-Long, I'm afraid it just wouldn't suit my rather, um, zaftig figure at this time. So we're consoling ourselves with this lovely and flattering poncho from Lopi #21:

    Jon & Ponch: Remember them?

    I’ve got 11 skeins of Lite Lopi in Oatmeal ordered from Woodland Woolworks and soon we’ll be ponch, ponch, ponching along.

    It's Official …
    … I'm getting dumber. As in stupid, not deaf (although RockStar had a hearing test today … playing that devil music too loud). I took an IQ test at eMode and scored 118. My last IQ score in high school was 125. But a 7-point fall-off in 23 years ain't too bad, is it? Is it? (reassure me here, folks)

    Performance Anxiety in Preschool
    On Halloween, we hang out with our neighbors, Eric & Elizabeth, both of whom are doctors serving in the Navy here in San Diego. Their darling 2-1/2 year old daughter Sara bobbles back and forth between our two driveways in all her cuteness during the evening candy distribution. Eric was saying that he and Elizabeth just had a parent-teacher conference and were told that Sara is doing great, but that they (the parents) needed to work with her on her "triangle and square recognition." Excuse me? The child is 2-1/2 years old. I believe that at 2-1/2 I was busy ordering my best friend Tomako around and cadging donuts from the neighbors during daily stroller rides with my mom. I think I learned my square and triangle recognition by whether my (square) sandwich was cut into 2 pieces diagonally (triangle). I'm sure Mom worked with me on basic stuff, but I'm also sure we didn't get quite so, well, granular with our learning. Ah, progress.

    Friday, October 31, 2003

    From the Ashes, a Phoenix Rises
    The weather has turned from dry, dangerous Santa Ana winds to cool, rainy breezes from the ocean. The fires are contained in most areas. People are picking up the pieces of their lives with help from family, community, and in some cases, insurance companies.

    Lots of fundraising efforts going on via the local radio stations and charitable organzations. Some of the good works are on more of a grassroots level. DH and I had dinner last night with a group of friends from his early morning spinning class (bikes, not yarn :-). One woman attendee's company does accounting work for the Barona Band of Mission Indian's casino and resort. The Barona reservation itself has 95 houses; 30 of them were lost in the fire. So this woman and a co-worker were working late last night, making up Halloween goodie baskets for the Indian kids on the reservation.

    Feeling blessed beyond description, I'm turning this blog knitward starting with Monday's entry. Have a happy, safe Halloween, everyone.

    Wednesday, October 29, 2003

    Hanging in There
    Thank you everyone, for your kind comments. They really do help -- it's nice to know you're not shouting into a void. I checked for comments periodically throughout the day, and each new one brought a smile to my face. Thank you all, again :-)

    The air quality is still very, very poor. A high pressure weather system is keeping the smoke pushed down with nowhere to escape. It's so thick that the sun can't penetrate, so it's much cooler than normal. Sort of a mini nuclear winter. Last night at about 5:00 pm, the sun was a huge, blood-red ball hanging low in the sky. Very weird.

    DH went to the gym this morning and found that the latest health recommendation is that people not work out, even indoors. The air quality is that bad. San Diego schools are closed again today. My nose is stuffed up like I have a head cold, but it's all from the smoke.

    On a more positive note, the forecast calls for the high pressure system to start breaking down by tonight, with onshore wind flows that will help blow the smoke eastward. Cross your fingers, folks.

    The fires are still burning, and several communities are still in danger. Keep sending positive thoughts in our direction -- they're much needed and appreciated.

    Update, 2:00 pm Pacific Time: The wind direction has changed and is blowing in from the ocean. It's amazing how much the smoke has cleared in just a few hours. It's already much easier to breathe. I went home at lunchtime and opened up all my windows for an hour to air the house out.

    The historic town of Julian, known for its apple crops and picturescue beauty, is still in great danger. Firefighters are making a last ditch effort to save the downtown area, with its wooden buildings.

    Tuesday, October 28, 2003

    Trial by Fire
  • Sunday, 2:00 am: Wake up, smell smoke. Think it's a fan in the room overheating. Turn off fan, go back to sleep.

  • Sunday, 9:00 am: Here's the cause of the smoke smell:

    Hood of DH's truck, covered with ash

    Sky above our house. Darkness is smoke, not clouds.

  • Sunday, 9:00 am: Pack 1 suitcase each. Ready parrot's travel cages, cat's travel cage, dog's leash. Tell RockStar to pick out ONE favorite guitar. Gather important papers, prescription medications, video of our wedding, jewelry, and 1 computer. Pack both cars.

  • Sunday, 10:30 am: Drive to bluff overlooking our subdivision in Tierrasanta (San Diego) to get a better view of what's coming. Fire is on the Miramar Marine Air Station, immediately west. As the crow flies, the fire is about 2 miles away.

    Shot #1: Beginning of 6-mile wide fireline.

    Shot #2: Middle of 6-mile wide fireline.

    Shot #3: End of 6-mile wide fireline.

    At this point, there were about 15 persons on the bluff viewing the fire. We all looked at each other, and bolted for our cars. Here's a shot of the sky as we descended down through the subdivision:

    About halfway down the hill on the way home.

  • Sunday, 11:00 am: Police drive through neighborhood, giving us the mandatory evacuation order.
  • Over 4,000 people are evacuated from Tierrasanta in less than 3 hours. The San Diego Police Department deserve major credit for the calm, orderly control of the exodus.

    Over 3,000 people from Tierrasanta and the neighboring community of San Carlos evacuated to Qualcomm Stadium, home of the San Diego Chargers pro football team. Monday Night Football is scheduled to broadcast tomorrow.

  • Sunday, 1:00 pm: Most major freeways in San Diego are closed due to fire threat. A 20-minute drive to DH's brother's house takes over an hour over surface streets and the remaining open freeway. Almost immediately after we arrive, the last remaining freeway (Interstate 805) is closed.

  • Sunday, 2:00 pm to 11:00 pm: Monitor broadcast news for news of the fire. Much of a community 5 miles north of us, Scripps Ranch, is reduced to ashes. No news of Tierrasanta. We take this as good news. If Tierrasanta had burned, there would have been reporters broadcasting. Fortunately, our intuition was correct. Tierrasanta lost 10 homes, Scripps Ranch lost over 200 homes.

    Monday Night Football is moved to Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Arizona. San Diego fans' tickets are honored in Arizona, but many can't make the drive due to all but 2 major freeways being closed. Arizona fans are offered free entrance to the event, but are urged to make donations to a fire fund.

  • Here's what evacuating parrots look like. The parrots stayed in their travel cages on brother-in-law's kitchen table:

    Let us out!

  • Monday, 7:00 am: Continue to monitor news. No major news of Tierrasanta.

  • Monday, 3:00 pm: San Diego Police give the OK for residents to re-enter Tierrasanta and San Carlos. Here's what we saw going home:

    Interstate 15 north of Clairemont Mesa exit, San Diego. Note burned canyons on the left.

    West entrance to Tierrasanta community. More burned canyons on the left.

  • San Diego School District has closed schools both yesterday and today due to poor air quality. Normal pollution levels are 10-15 microns per thousand. Current levels are 150 microns per thousand. Mayor Dick Murphy urged San Diego employers to allow employees to take Monday off -- many employers complied.

    The fires are still raging north and south of us. Totals to date: over 150,000 acres burned, 11 people killed.

    We're grateful that our home is still standing. We're grateful we were able to stay in a nice home during the evacuation, instead of camping out in a stadium parking lot, as many had to do. We're grateful we have each other and that we're unharmed. At one point on Monday evening, settled back into our home, DH and I looked at each other and agreed that everything we took with us when we evacuated would have been precisely what we needed to start over; nothing more, nothing less.

    I'm out of words.

    Monday, October 20, 2003

    I've Got an Owie

    I'm voluntarily putting myself on the DL for the rest of the week. As a graphic artist, I wrangle a mouse more than most folks, and that tends to incite bouts of tendonitis in my wrist and forearm. Tendonitis being the precursor to the dreaded carpal tunnel, I'm foreswearing all unnecessary computer and knitting activity until this latest bout moves out of DefCon 4 status back to something approaching normal.

    Have a good week, everyone. I'll be checking email, if anyone needs to yak at me directly.

    Friday, October 17, 2003

    In With the In Crowd
    I was honored to be invited to a Knit Night at a new yarn store called Two Sisters & Ewe, located in La Mesa (a suburb of San Diego). Lynne Davidson found my name on the AranKnit list on YahooLists, and kindly invited me to the 3rd Thursday shindig. Shy gal that I am, my first instinct is always to say no. But I pushed myself, and went. And what do you know, I had a lot of fun! Paula and her sister Jane own the shop (hence the name), and it's very nicely stocked with Jo Sharp, Debbie Bliss, Noro, Regia, and all the usual suspects of yarn. Next time, the checkbook comes along! It ended up being just Lynne, Paula and me -- hopefully more knittin' peeps will show up next time. Thanks again, Lynne.

    Pretty, Pretty Girl
    My goofy little Blue Crown Parrot Maia says that about herself all the time. Over and over again -- pretty, pretty gurrrrl. It also applies to how I'll look wearing my LoTech Sweat made from this lovely Patons Canadiana yarn. Yes, Virginia, it's possible to be cheap and chic! The base shade of this yarn is a deep grape purple, with strands of burnt orange, medium blue, and olive green twisted in. I scanned in a chunk, but your monitor mileage may vary:

    Inching along, but not forgotten, is the Lighthouse Gansey. I actually got almost an entire pattern sequence knit up last night at Two Sisters, while eatin' and chattin'. What can I say … I'm just a multi-tasking kind of gal :-)

    My Tiny Effort
    Speaking of parrots earlier reminded me that I got this in the mail the other day:

    It’s my The Lola Project bag from Foster Parrots, a non-profit parrot rescue and adoption concern. The Lola Project is named for a greenwing macaw who suffered horrendous abuse at the hands of her owners. The proceeds from The Lola Project go toward building new housing and research facilities for Foster Parrots. I also make a regular monthly donation to Foster Parrots through Network for Good. It’s not a huge donation, but I sleep better at night knowing the good work that Marc Johnson is doing for these poor birds who can’t speak for themselves.

    So I’ve got a cool new knitting bag and did some good at the same time. Not too shabby!

    Have a nice weekend, everyone.

    Wednesday, October 15, 2003

    The Race is Over
    LoTech Sweat has taken over the lead, permanently I'm afraid. That's what you get when you race worsted weight yarn on Size 8's against sport weight on 4's. A blowout. At least an overeager fan wasn't there to grab my needles. Lighthouse Gansey will be one of those slow projects to savor.

    Racing Along on Big Needles

    Strong Enough for a Man, But Knit by a Woman

    Blurry, But Trust Me, There's a Pattern There

    Oh, the Joys of the Golden State
    First, our governor gets recalled. This is not a bad thing. Gray Davis blew through millions in surplus budget and still had almost 3 years in his term. Buh-bye, Davis. So the Governator gets elected. This'll be interesting. Today's drama in Southern California? We have over 70,000 union grocery clerks on strike. I live in a unique part of San Diego called Tierrasanta. It's a small community located hard against the former Miramar Naval Air Station ("Top Gun" school used to be located here), and surrounded by unbuildable land on the other 3 sides. A nicely secluded area in the middle of a big city. We love it here, except when the only two major grocery stores in the community have angry, striking clerks stalking about and there isn't another grocery store for (literally) miles. So we drive those extra miles because we do sympathize with the clerks and don't want to cross their picket lines. But another quirk of San Diego is our abnormally high gasoline prices, even compared to the rest of the state. I guarantee that you aren't paying nearly $2.00 per gallon wherever you live. Sigh. Please settle soon, clerks. I know you want to get back to work, and I just want to go to my local grocery store that's only 1 mile from my house. Thank you.

    Monday, October 13, 2003

    The Great Race Continues
    Lighthouse Gansey is in the lead, with LoTech Sweat right behind:

    Sweating Lightly

    LoTech may go the Way of the Frog. I'm thinkin' it's a bit big, even for my luxurious caboose. The Tale of the Tape will tell all, tonight.

    Radical Thespianism
    RockStar's absolute favorite class is 2nd period Drama. He's quite good at physical comedy, and was handpicked by his drama teacher to play Falstaff in last year's final presentation of Shakespearean scenes. However, he can't quite leave the dramatics at the schoolhouse steps. The world is his stage, and anything at hand can become an instant prop:

    Sprite Oughta Pay US for Product Placement

    As much as this kid drives us nuts, we love his creative free spirit and love of life.

    What a Shame
    We went, en famile, to see the new Quentin Tarantino movie Kill Bill on Sunday (that's a whole blog entry in itself). Before the movie, the audience is treated to (or subjected to, depending on your view) the "latest in music from hot new artists." Occasionally, between the latest gangsta rapper or wannabe diva, there's a jewel. Yesterday's was a velvet-voiced singer named Eva Cassidy. She had a voice reminiscent of a young Bonnie Raitt. DH and I made note of the name, and listened to a few song snippets on Amazon when we got home. As we poked around the songlists on her albums, we found out she died at age 33 in 1996, of melanoma. At the time of her death, she was still a virtual unknown. It's only after death that she's developed a strong following.

    I can't describe how incredibly disappointing this was, to discover a new artist and become very excited over her work, and then find out she's gone, so young and under such tragic circumstances. I'm still going to order some of her work, but it'll be bittersweet listening.

    Friday, October 10, 2003

    Paris, Milan, and … Wichita Falls?
    Wondering whatever happened to Aran Go Round? Ladies and gentlemen, modeling AGR and looking oh-so-elegant is my sister-in-law, Renee. This hardworking mother-of-three still manages to look terrific, even while living in the one-horse (or rather, one Air Force base) town of Wichita Falls, Texas:

    AGR's Lovely Recipient

    Teeny Little Projects Grow to Be Big Trees
    …or something like that. Here's the miniscule progress thus far on LoTech Sweat and the Lighthouse Gansey:

    Hey! Race Ya to the Underarms!

    And I received this nifty book in yesterday's mail:

    Holy Yarnover, Batman! CanShawl All My Appointments!

    Sign, Sign, Everywhere a Sign
    From Vancouver, British Columbia:

    Love that Multi-Lingual Effort

    Snapped in Longview, Washington during our summer vacation:

    More Instructions for Canines

    Have a nice weekend, everyone.

    Wednesday, October 08, 2003

    At a Loss for Words?
    Not anymore! Click on over to The Surrealist Compliment Generator and come up with the appropriate bit-o-schmooze for anyone! My personal favorite? "Marmots will stick to you in Delaware." (wha?) Link courtesy of Flanthrower.

    One Door Closes, Another Opens
    Now that the VH1 Shawl is nearing completion, it's time to turn our gaze forward, to future projects on the horizon. First up is this Lighthouse Gansey sweater for my maternal uncle. He loves lighthouses and just completed a tour of lighthouses on the Oregon Coast:

    Shine Your Light on Me

    The pattern is from Blackberry Ridge Woolen Mills. I'm making it out of Lion Brand Woolease sport weight, in the Fisherman shade (an aran-type color). My nifty new Boye Needlemaster kit will be called into play for this project.

    Simultaneously, we (the Royal We, dontcha know) will be working on a LoTech Sweat in a variegated shade of Patons Canadiana that I snagged cheap from Smiley's. The LoTech Sweat will be my TV Knitting Project -- lotsa rows of easy knitting fun.

    We just had Tivo installed, so I'll be needin' some easy knittin' while catching up on all the Law & Order episodes that have stacked up over the last few weeks. Our TV died last week and during the couple of days it took to purchase a replacement Tivo kept chugging away, recording all the programs we'd set up with a Season Pass before said TV died. How often do we watch Law & Order in this house? Does the fact that our littlest parrot makes the Dunh-DUNH sound answer that question? I rest my case.

    Happy Wednesday, everyone.