Sunday, December 28, 2008


Portland finally got its thaw after two weeks of snow and ice. We got fourteen inches at the airport but other locations got much more around the city. The 21st was the beginning of the renewed dump of snow that ended up burying the city.

On Friday the thaw began and when I woke to head out to breakfast at the Burger Bar I was pleased to see this

Today my street looks like this. Nature shoveled my walk for me. Yay!

Yesterday I was able to get out without chains and saw the Portland Gay Men's Chorus's holiday concert. It was such a treat to be able to get out and hear great music. The chorus was missing a number of members because of the weather but they sounded wonderful. I was able to meet up with a few friends there as well so got a nice dose of Christmas cheer.

I started another project, this one to help keep my hands busy without putting too much strain on them. It's a lace curtain for the back door window to replace the tulle I currently have draped over it. It's made of Louet KidLin, a blend of kid mohair and linen, and will have some body to it with fluff to soften the edges. The pattern's a very simple one from the Barbara Walker Treasury. When it's long enough I'll add an edging that I have yet to pick out.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Snow cat

I have been blessed with a cat that doesn't mind the weather. He'll run outside when it's raining or snowing. He does draw the line on strong wind but most creatures are sensible about that. So this morning now that the wind has died down, Buster was anxious to go outside to play in the snow.

The flakes are soft and light, good for digging into

When he's had enough he comes in.

Those white flecks? Snow. And not a shaken paw or shiver of revulsion. A bite to eat and he's back out again.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Things to do on a snow day

Explore websites suggested by knitsibs, like this one and make creepy pictures.

Or spin up the fiber sample from one of your spinsibs. This is from Abstract Fibers, BFL colorway Shady Glade, 2.5 oz. on the Louet s10. Yes, Virginia, that is a laceweight single you see there on Louie. It can be done.

It's also a good opportunity for slipper socks to be finished and new ones cast on for moi because the east wind's blowing hard and the wind chill's near zero. Even Buster won't go outside in this and he likes snow.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Turning from Miss Sunshine to Crabby Patty

I like Christmas. I like the novelty, the decorations, the festiveness of the season. I like lights and presents and the delight of the time. But it's getting to feel like people have had way too much sugar and are bouncing off the walls and turning into two creatures: bratty children and crusty old grumps. The Brats are the ones who insist on having it their way no matter the situation, disrupting the routine and peace and quiet in order to get attention. They're the ones who demand certain things in the store, who squeal at gatherings, and chatter about gifts to get. The Grumps are the ones who have slowly had their spirits sucked away by frustration. They're the ones who liked the Christmas season but now it's time to move on to other things, like rotating the tires and getting the receipts ready for tax season. The Grump is the one in the checkout line behind the Brat who is arguing over the price of the mp3 player and silently wishing they had an axe to resolve the issue.

Tonight I came home feeling like a Grump. And I don't like it. I likened it to turning into an old spinster with her hair in a bun and a too tight girdle. What caused it? A flock of Brats. Brats twittering about the snow falling outside. Brats twittering about Christmas gifts they're getting for their families. Brats twittering about the gifts they got from their secret pals. It was enough that I had to move to another desk to work, which sucks because the view outside my cubicle is beautiful. The snow that was falling this morning was very pretty, nice big fat flakes that just said Christmas. I just didn't need the constant commentary from the Brats freaking out about it despite the fact that they were going home in five hours, giving ample time for the stuff to melt (which it did) and the roads to clear (which they did).

So this evening I'm turning on Wait Wait Don't Tell Me on the 'puter, brewing a big pot of decaf tea, and sitting with my knitting for a pleasant evening of hilarity and fun. No Brats Included. I'm hoping it will quash the Grump in me so that I'll be more hospitable tomorrow.

Fiber Stuff

A couple of days ago a thread of conversation on the GLBT Knit list ran to dyeing with Koolaid. Someone mentioned a list of things and another said it sounded like a carol. Somehow my mind clicked in the right places and came up with this lovely piece of doggerel.

Sung to "My Favorite Things" with apologies to Rogers & Hammerstein.

Bottles of yellow and purple and pink

Red, blue and aqua and a big heavy sink

Buckets and winders and bobbins of string

These are a few of my dyeing things.

Mordants and fixes and bags made of plastic

Microwaves, stewpots and bands of elastic

Warp boards for striping and recipe schemes

These are a few of my dyeing things.

When the dog bites, when the kid screams, when I’m feeling sad.

I go to the basement and boil up some dye and then I don’t feel so bad.

Cotton and linen and baby alpaca

Even ole wool if that’s what you are afta’

Soak it, exhaust it, then hang from a swing.

This is what I do with dyeing things.

When the car blows, when the spouse whines, when I’m feeling sad,

I go to the basement and boil up some dye and then I don’t feeeeel sooooooo baaaaaaad!!!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

December adventure

Snow doesn't come to western Oregon often. It's more likely to appear as rain or flurries. But this year we've been struck with the first of what the forecasters are saying are a series of storms that will accompany the cold air that has dropped from up north. For some of you folks in northern climes in the US this may not seem much but for Oregonians it's an event and we aren't as prepared for it as we could be. Besides, the stuff has so much moisture it turns to ice almost immediately so it's treacherous around here.

The concerts Confluence put on went well and despite the weather were well attended. When word of the coming snowstorm was confirmed most of our group who lived in Portland planned on returning as soon as possible Sunday night from Corvallis, which is normally a drive of a little less than 2 hours. Because of accidents and tie ups on the freeway, most folks didn't get home until after midnight. Emails telling their tales of sitting in stranded cars went out from their phones. The snow had started falling in earnest around 6 pm while we were taking down the risers and cleaning up the place in preparation for our Christmas party. By the time I headed out with my friends Sam and Clark to stay the night with them, there were a few inches on the ground and blowing wind.

Sam rode with me on the way to the house, for their house was in the hills over Albany and they knew the back roads well enough to know which had the least elevation. I hadn't driven in a snow storm at night before but knew enough to just go slow and steady in low gear. The Bright Red Bug with her new shoes took the challenge gallantly. We got to the house without any problems and settled in for a long winter's snooze.

The next day I hoped that the roads were more clear and for the most part the main highways were. But all the side roads and lesser traveled streets were glazed with ice. After a bit of a struggle to get my chains on my tires, Sam and Clark sent me on my way with a belly full of blueberry pancakes and bacon. The chains worked well on the ice so I was able to get to the highway without any problem. About halfway into the journey, however, I noticed there was extra noise coming from the chains. At first I thought it was that they had somehow shifted and gotten loose, but I learned later on that my driving on the pavement too fast with them broke a few of the links on the crossbars so they were banging on my wheelwells. It reminded me of a story Mom told of coming back from the beach with a station wagon full of hungry tired kids and Dad and crossing over the coastal mountains in the snow. They had one chain set with a loose string and it would go BANG BANG BANG on the fender. So I crawled my way home, banging away.

Four and a half hours after I left I got home, exhausted and ready to call it a night. I walked in the door to be greeted by the cats letting me know how hungry they were and why the heck I didn't leave more food for them and just where the hell was I all these hours. Then I noticed that the house wasn't very warm. When I checked the thermostat, sure enough there wasn't any heat. My furnace was on the fritz.

On Saturday after I had run some errands I noticed that the heat wasn't on and found that something in the furnace had indeed tripped an error code. The thought of having no heat in the house while I was gone was not a good one, so I called the furnace repair with hopes that they would be able to fix it in time for me to be able to get to concert in Salem. They did and I left with the confidence that my children and pipes would be warm. So when I came home to the house being chilled I wasn't happy. Not so much that the furnace didn't get fixed but the prospect of having to figure out how to pay for the repairman. It would work out, I figured, and called them again this morning. Sure, they said, we'll be over. I explained to the bookkeeper my situation and she said she'd work things out with me. So they came over, tried again to figure out what was tripping the furnace's brain, then left with my house thawing out. It was nice to come home to find the house nice and warm.

So more snow is forecast for tomorrow and the weekend. As long as the power doesn't go out, I think I'll be fine. Otherwise, I'll be shoving the piano away from the fireplace and burning my recycling.

Christmas meme

Taken from Persistent Illusion while waiting for the furnace repairman.

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? I'm moving more and more towards gift bags. I like them for their reusability. Of course there will be items that no way can you wrap in a gift bag unless you like the ones that have HEFTY printed on the side.

2. Real tree or artificial? When I had trees, they were always real. Now I opt for real greens for a wreath or garland.

3. When do you put up a tree? After Thanksgiving. Nowadays I don't do a tree at all because I have way too much clutter around, but I like a nice wreath that can carry over through the winter. Trader Joes has eucalyptus ones that smell so nice and are so different.

4. When do you take the tree down? Between Christmas Day and New Year's Day.

5. Do you like eggnog? Yes, when it's homemade.

6. Favorite gift received as a child? I always remember my first stereo system. Big hurking box that overwhelmed everything else. It had a turntable and 8-track tape deck. My first record was "K-Tel's Dy-Na-Mite Hits" and first 8 tracks were Elton John's "Captain Fantastic" and Steve Miller Band's "Fly Like An Eagle". I was in heaven.

7. Hardest person to buy for? I really don't have one. Usually it's men I have a tough time buying for if I do, but I somehow find something interesting.

8. Easiest person to buy for? My friend Ruth. She loves frogs, especially exotic frogs, so just about anything having to do with frogs is a treat.

9. Do you have a nativity scene? No.

10. Mail or email Christmas cards? Mail. There's something about getting a letter in the mail from old friends that makes the season so different. I've moved to just sending out letters instead of card cards but I print them on festive paper.

11. Worst Christmas gift you've ever received? Nothing comes to mind. I think I blanked out those things.

12. Favorite Christmas movie? I've fallen in love with The Polar Express. I love good animation and that one in particular just appeals to so many things I love about Christmas.

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? The list gets written up in October since there will be knitted projects in the mix. I do a large chunk of it between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I pick out a day and make it a fun day event. I especially like going to the funkier neighborhoods to find things. The response they get is such a treat.

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? I have a white elephant box for gifts received as part of exchanges and such. They make the rounds.

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas. Really good dipping chocolate. I would sneak into my mom's store of the stuff she'd get from Van Duyn's for dipping nuts. On one of my first solo trips out Christmas shopping I stopped at a Van Duyn's to get my own chocolate and wound up with a hunk of dark chocolate. It wasn't the same, but it was still good.

16. Lights on the tree? I don't put up a tree so I don't have lights up, but when I do decorate I have white and multis.

17. Favorite Christmas song? O Holy Night. I'm not Christian but that's such a beautiful song.

18. Travel at Christmas or stay at home? Lately I've been more a stay at home person. December is such a hectic month for me that I relish having the quiet time.

19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer? Yes, indeed, ma'am.

20. Open presents Christmas Eve or Christmas morning? Mom and Dad had Christmas on Christmas Eve so that the kids got a good night sleep. One Christmas my brother came down with his three kids and we had Christmas in the morning. My sister convinced me to do my hair in rollers. I slept on the floor while my nieces and nephew were up and down all night. Got no sleep but had beautiful hair. Swore I'd never do that again.

21. Most annoying thing about this time of year? The constant assault on the senses from commercials, followed by the nearly savage mentality of the shoppers looking for just that one thing that Dad wants.

22. Favorite ornament or color? The rich old fashioned reds, greens and creams of Victorian style ornaments. Just love 'em.

23. What do you want for Christmas this year? A nice smooth month and year end process for the next few weeks. Really.

24. Angel on the tree top or a star? We never had a tree topper when I grew up except for a green light at the very top. I found a really cool star tree topper for my tree when I left home.

25. Favorite Christmas dinner? Prime rib at my brother's house. Mmmm. Christmas beast.

Have a safe week everyone!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

100 things I have done in my life

I found this on Mollywobble's blog. I may not do all of them but it's fun to see what I have done. I did the ones in italics. 1. Started my own blog 2. Slept under the stars 3. Played in a band 4. Visited Hawaii 5. Watched a meteor shower 6. Given more than I can afford to charity 7. Been to Disneyland/world 8. Climbed a mountain 9. Held a praying mantis 10. Sung a solo 11. Bungee jumped 12. Visited Paris 13. Watched lightning at sea 14. Taught myself an art from scratch 15. Adopted a child 16. Had food poisoning 17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty 18. Grown my own vegetables 19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France 20. Slept on an overnight train 21. Had a pillow fight 22. Hitchhiked 23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill 24. Built a snow fort 25. Held a lamb 26. Gone skinny dipping 27. Run a marathon 28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice 29. Seen a total eclipse 30. Watched a sunrise or sunset 31. Hit a home run 32. Been on a cruise 33. Seen Niagara Falls in person 34. Visited the birthplace of my ancestors 35. Seen an Amish community 36. Taught myself a new language 37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied 38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person 39. Gone rock climbing 40. Seen Michelangelo’s David 41. Sung karaoke 42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt 43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant 44. Visited Africa 45. Walked on a beach by moonlight 46. Been transported in an ambulance 47. Had my portrait painted 48. Gone deep sea fishing 49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person 50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris 51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling 52. Kissed in the rain 53. Played in the mud 54. Gone to a drive-in theater 55. Been in a movie 56. Visited the Great Wall of China 57. Started a business 58. Taken a martial arts class 59. Visited Russia 60. Served at a soup kitchen 61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies (I think Camp Fire candy counts on this one.) 62. Gone whale watching 63. Got flowers for no reason 64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma 65. Gone sky diving 66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp 67. Bounced a check 68. Flown in a helicopter 69. Saved a favorite childhood toy 70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial 71. Eaten caviar 72. Pieced a quilt 73. Stood in Times Square 74. Toured the Everglades 75. Been fired from a job 76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London 77. Broken a bone (it was a toe) 78. Been on a speeding motorcycle 79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person 80. Published a book 81. Visited the Vatican 82. Bought a brand new car 83. Walked in Jerusalem 84. Had my picture in the newspaper 85. Read the entire Bible 86. Visited the White House 87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating 88. Had chickenpox 89. Saved someone’s life 90. Sat on a jury 91. Met someone famous 92. Joined a book club 93. Lost a loved one 94. Had a baby 95. Seen the Alamo in person 96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake 97. Been involved in a lawsuit 98. Owned a cell phone 99. Been stung by a bee 100. Rode an elephant

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Sneaking in a post

It's break time at the office so I'm sneaking in a blog post. I was down in Corvallis Saturday evening singing at a concert the Portland Gay Men's Chorus put on as a fundraiser for Confluence and the Albany/Corvallis PFLAG. Sunday I didn't get home until early evening but was too tired to do more than glance at email. This week has been busy at work with an additional dollop of chorus preparation for the upcoming weekend of concerts.

Friday Portland OR Augustana Lutheran Church, 7:30 pm

Saturday Salem OR First Congregational Church, 7:30 pm

Sunday Corvallis OR UU Fellowship of Corvallis, 4:30 pm

Tickets are $15, $12 for seniors and students with ID. Come anyway. We'll let you in. More information may be found at Confluence's website.

So what will I do when I'm done with the concerts? I know Monday will be devoted to being in the arms of Morpheus. The rest of the time will be for finishing up holiday chores. Some fiber is due to arrive for a hush hush project, so I'll be watching for that. I'll be knitting until the hands say stop in the meantime, fussing over a Coriolis sock I had put down but didn't write the notes for.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

The power of advertising

I never thought I'd see this commercial again. It's a favorite childhood memory, so when I found it in beautiful condition on YouTube, I had to share it with you.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

A lovely holiday

I had a very pleasant visit with my brother Grant, his wife Yvonne, their eldest daughter Andrea and her three boys who are 9 and 6 year old twins. They had a little snow in Spokane on Friday, adding to the festivities. We ate, played games, ate, watched movies, ate, talked, and ate. The boys were good -- no crying or fighting -- and the atmosphere was congenial. Capped with flights to and from that were not crowded (I flew on Thanksgiving day and early Sunday morning), it was indeed a great holiday.

While in Spokane, Grant and I went to Paradise Fibers where I showed him the different spinning wheels and how they worked. I asked him if he would make me a spinning wheel, but with his busy schedule nowadays he didn't promise that it would get done right away. He was intrigued however by how they were built and thinks he can do one. So I'll get him some plans and the hardware and see how it goes. It may take a couple of years, but it will be a personally built wheel. I'm thinking a Norwegian style similar to the Kromski Polonaise.

Not much going on in knitting. The busy time of the year is starting up so I'm looking at other fiber projects. I'm going to take a gander at needle felting for my next round of gifts. It'll be interesting.