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.

    Tuesday, October 07, 2003

    It's a Shawl, Y'all
    We're in the home stretch with the VH1 Shawl. I attached the 4th, and last, skein of Marks & Kattens Soft Mohair on Sunday, and made a pretty good dent in it. I'm hoping to get it done and blocked by the end of the week and in the mail to the recipient: the younger sister of a good family friend. This stellar young woman is a 3rd-year law student in Montreal, and is clerking next summer for the Canadian equivalent of a US Supreme Court Justice, a very hotly competed-for position. Sorry for the blurry quality of the picture, but you can see there's about 48" of shawl, y'all:

    Wrap Yourself in Wooly Goodness

    Friday, October 03, 2003

    Note: Comments Are Back Up

    Repeat After Me …
    I will not knit when I am tired.
    I will not knit when I am tired.
    I will not knit when I am tired.

    The consequences of not adhering to the mantra results in a guaranteed frogging session the next day. I am, of course, speaking of the VH1 Shawl. This little bugger has been a Two Steps Forward, One Step Back kinda project, mainly because I've been knitting in bed until I'm sleepy. And since I'm in a confessional mood …

    My Dirty Little Secret

    Ha! I got some skeletons in my closet
    and I don't know if no one knows it
    Eminem Cleaning Out My Closet

    I don't know why I said that -- there's no secret. Just wanted a provocative headline.

    Let's climb into the Wayback Machine, Sherman. Many, many moons ago, Boye created one of the first modular knitting needle systems, called KnitMate. Very cool idea in theory, but they offered no way to corral the accumulated needle and cable sets. Throughout the '80s, I purchased separate needle and cable sets as needed, for various projects. I never accumulated the entire set (don't knit on #2s very often, eyesight's bad enough, thank you very much). Fast forward to 2003 -- here's my KnitMate system. The cables and needles have withstood the test of time, but what's not apparent in the picture is the Scotch tape holding the packages together:

    What a Mess.

    Sometime during my 15-year knitting hiatus, Boye discontinued KnitMates and introduced the NeedleMaster system: essentially the same cable 'n needle combo, but packaged into a nice, tidy carrying case:

    Now I Can Get Them to Buy Twice! (sez Mr. Boye)

    Of course, you can't buy the nice, tidy carrying case by itself. I fumed about that for awhile, plus I just couldn't stomach the $79-$99 price range of the new Needlemaster system. So imagine my surprise when Herrschners offered the NeedleMaster set for the much more attractive price of $59.99. So I ordered it. And the whole stinkin' KnitMate mess goes onto Ebay next week. Let somebody else sort it out.

    Have a nice weekend, everyone.

    Ed. Note: It's Saturday morning, and I'm re-reading my grumpy post of the night before. Apologies to all. Go read Marcia's lovely post of last night. It made me ashamed of my curmudgeonly-ness. Again, have a nice weekend, everyone. I'm off to resume Taxi-Mom duties, ferrying RockStar to his Saturday morning guitar lesson.

    Thursday, October 02, 2003

    OK. Twist my arm. Here's the latest pix of the VH1 Shawl:

    It's Aliiiiive!

    Looks like knit mashed potatoes.

    Look for it to take over my neighborhood, soon.

    Style Alert!
    From the Daily Candy site:

    Premium Cable


    Cable knit no longer means having to date someone on the rugby team or voting Republican.

    And no need to dust off the penny loafers and dip into prepster chic, courtesy MJ (Marc Jacobs).

    Jacobs's neo-preppy, 100 percent wool, cable-knit, fingerless gloves stop right below the elbow and are more urban league than Ivy League. The cozy arm warmers come in aqua, lavender, and cream. The exposed fingertips allow for an easy grip on the steering wheel of Mom's Volvo. All in all, a very stylish way to keep warm during those autumn trips to the Cape.

    Move over, sweater sets.

    There's a new official preppy hand look.

    Fingerless Aran Gloves

    Smart Knitistas like us could probably figure out how to make these, dontcha think? I love the pastel shades, too. Elann has some nice fuzzy Pinguoin Soft Hair on closeout for $2.10 per skein and available in pastel shades. Must. Control. Mouse. Now. Must. Not. Order. More. Yarn.