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Saturday, December 31, 2011

Stick a Pom-pom on it, and it's Done!

"Stick a Pom-pom on it, and it's Done!"

I said those words to the DH a little over an hour ago as I saw him off to work.

I'd been explaining [why I had been sitting on my keister in front of the TV for part of the morning and] what I intended to do this afternoon.
I was finishing up a Jayne Hat for a friend's Birthday that occurs this coming week. I was near finishing - had to put on the side flaps and then I had to "Stick a Pom-pom on it, and it's Done!"

I made myself laugh a little and I just liked the sound of that phrase. I also figured Knitters might "get" the humor of it more than the average soul on the street (or DH getting into his car). So - instant blog inspiration!

And Jayne Hat #8 is done . It will be gifted to a member of the local Arizona Browncoats group; a gent who is one of my office "little brothers". Happy Birthday, Keith:

More crafting, blogging, kitty-giggles, blather, and the job search adventure is planned for 2012.

Happy New Year's Eve, all! 
Be safe, be Kind, and have Fun!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Auction results and...well, blather

Per the last blog entry, I'd noted that I had put a skein of Prism yarn into the "Magick for Terri" auction.
The auction ended yesterday (!) and the total raised on allllll the items in the auction appears to be over $71,000.00.
No, I'm not kidding. Isn't that amazing!?!

The Prism skein was only $35.00 of the funds raised, but obviously every little bit helps. There were allll sorts of things in the auction - tarot readings, jewelry, art prints, bags, masks, cookies, editing or blog services/expertise, knitted or crocheted items, and many autographed books, CDs and DVDs - donated by the Artists themselves! Neil Gaiman, Mercedes Lackey, Emma Bull & Will Shetterly, Steven Brust, and many many more. A percentage of sales from Philip Jose Farmer's estate was also included in the auction!
It was amazing to read through the offerings. Some authors auctioned off naming a character in their next book after the auction winner. Some characters were promised a grisly end. {wry grin}
These offerings seemed irresistible and folks bid pretty high to have themselves immortalized in a book by their favorite author. No, I didn't bid on those, but I was sorely tempted to bid on having a Herald Trainee in a Mercedes Lackey Valdemar novel named after me-self.

The auction is closed, but you could go peruse what was being offered for bidding - and if you've a mind to, you could still go drop off a donation for Terri Windling.

All in all, it was an amazing thing to watch and participate in.

What else has been going on? Wellllll....

Job Stuff: The prospect of Unemployment looms large. There is still a slim chance that someone will buy our system for a more limited use (and that they might want to keep some of us techie-types), but the clients are in the process of moving off our system and it is most likely the doors will be closing in February and I'll be on the job hunt.

Knitting Stuff: My knitting has been jumping around a bit.

  • I knit some "vanilla" scarves for friends to sell at some craft shows. 
  • I've been knitting hats for a friend at work who's head tends to be cold due to some medical treatments. He has been gifting me with the HUGE compliment of wearing the hats every day. (I'm actually beginning to wonder if he only takes them off when I give him a new hat...) He has requested I knit him a yellow hat. He takes pictures out at the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum. I saw him at the ASDM a few months ago in the Hummingbird enclosure - while I was knitting on a Jayne Hat. The Hummingbirds flew right up to my knitting to see what all the yellow was about so my friend would like a Hummingbird-lure-yellow hat and I will be knitting him one. 
  • I have done a little knitting on the Einstein coat (as noted in the Nov. 20th blog
  • I'm also knitting some hats...and maybe a scarf for charity donations. Some friends de-stashed to donate some machine washable yarn for this endeavor! (Thank you, Scoobie2 & Coffeeem!!)
  • I've mostly been working on socks and fingerless mitts. Some are for holiday gift-giving, but IOUs or alternate gifts seem likely at this point. 
  • Yes, that means the recently inspired Cat Bordhi knitting has been abandoned for the time being. 
  • Start-itus and the lure of knitting-without-deadlines is strong but I have been resisting thus far and sticking to the fingerless-mitt knitting. 

Health Stuff:  I have lost a small bit of weight and once again fit comfortably in my jeans. {Happy sigh}. Some jeans are even making me think about using a belt and I have un-retired a couple of smaller-sized pairs of jeans. However, I recognize the Holidays are upon us and I do like to bake for the holidays. Ok, baking is not the problem...it's the sampling, tasting, and eating all the chocolate/bread/eggnog I can get my hands on that is the problem.
It is my hope to continue my treadmill antics to offset some of the rampant eating that has already begun this month. We'll see what happens.

Cat Stuff: All the fur-balls are doing quite well. They are even more lovey of late and insist on sitting upon us and sleeping with us at every opportunity. (Of course, this has nothing to do with the cooler temperatures of winter, noooooo.)
Gryphon watching "Kitty TV"
CooPurr (gray) & Mikale - I call them the sun and the moon cats.
Brothers Nikoli (ginger & white) and Mikale (strawberry blond).
They sleep on top of each other - "Yin & Yang" cats.
Nikoli in the DH's new tool bag. 

I know, I shorted you on knitting pictures. Think of allll the free time I'll have to blog when I'm searching for a new job. You might get your fill of kitty & knitting pictures then!

I have to dash...have more Christmas Cards to write, stuff to wrap, baking to do, and Holiday movies to grin over in a very silly way.

Have a lovely evening!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Yarn for sale! And some even more amazing stuff - for an excellent cause!

Greetings and Salutations!
This is a quick entry to make known to you an amazing, generous effort to help a worthy soul.

My offering in the auction: this skein of Prism Cool Stuff Half yarn, Color: Tumbleweed:

What auction? The website explains it best.
However, I would like to offer my perspective on this Auction to help Terri Windling.
Some of the folks organizing the auction are personally known by me. They are truly spiffy people and their request and intentions are real and just.
I have not met Terri Windling, but several of her stellar efforts grace my bookshelves.

Again, the website explains it best.
Please go take a look...see if any of the auction items strike your fancy. Check back often as more items are being added every day. You'll probably be impressed and tickled at the number of items being offered. And consider the names of the folks offering the items for auction - you might recognize a few!
(And this could also be a Very Unique Holiday Shopping opportunity!!)

Please - share the link to Magick 4 Terri with other interesting folks who might be tickled and tempted by this worthy endeavor.

My thanks, KiniaCat

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Hope, Thanksgiving and Bittersweet Thanks

I have been enjoying a quiet day at home.
Cleaned the Bathrooms.
Worked on two knitted Christmas gifts -  a very little bit.
Made Pizza with Trader Joe's crust for lunch as an odd treat 'cause the DH has to work this evening.
We're plotting for turkey tomorrow.
The DH will find a freshly-made pecan pie when he gets home (one of his favorites).
There's a few more items on my to-do list for this Thanksgiving day but I wanted to pause a jot down some things for which I am Thankful.

I reviewed last year's Turkey-day blog and it made me consider life in general and how things change.
The interesting/challenging job I gave thanks for last year is likely about to end and I'll be pondering what else I should do for a living.

Most apt proverb: "May you live in interesting times".

That quote has been cited as a Chinese proverb or a curse.
I thought I'd heard it mentioned somewhere as a Klingon blessing.
{wry grin}

Times are indeed interesting.
There is a lot of unrest in the world. A lot of people in need.
A lot of things that make us question the state of humanity.

Sometimes it's hard to have hope or be thankful when you are only exposed to the bad side of the world. (Policemen have a tough job indeed - think about it.)

If I turn away from the usually-not-good news being repeated continuously on numerous channels and consider the positive aspects of the world and the actions of good people...even here in my home town, I find hope blooms.
  • My generous friends, local knitters, and our local yarn shops for all the knitting performed to help babies and children and adults in need - year round.
  • The various charities around town that I and others support for animals, homeless folks, under-insured cancer patients, children's homes - the list goes on.
  • Quilt groups that work year-round on a variety of projects like Halloween quilts created for children that will be stuck in the Hospital this last & next October 31st.
  • Diaper and food drives.
  • Local drives to help folks in need around the world (i.e. World Care).
  • The Empty Bowl Luncheon I recently attended for the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona
  • That same week there was another charitable event - the Hickman's Family Farms "Breakfast for Dinner" Event. A variety of local restaurants around Arizona stayed open late, wearing PJs, to serve "Breakfast for Dinner" and to act as a collection point for a Pajama drive. I didn't wear PJs, but I brought 3 sets of new PJs to donate to the Arizona's Children Association

We can be Thankful. We can be aware of the profound challenges in our world, but we can also look for, encourage, and participate in the good. 

Before closing out this blog post, I would like to briefly honor the memory and writings of my favorite author, Anne McCaffrey. She passed away this week and the world does seem different because I know she no longer physically living there at Dragonhold Underhill.

I started reading her books as a young teen and never stopped. I think she reinforced and enhanced the teachings from my parents. That I am not limited to a certain type of place in the world because I'm female. That mine is not the only viewpoint - consider the world from different perspectives. Learn!

Her books are "comfort food" reading to me. I will reread her books knowing the story and writing will still catch me up and enhance my world.
I sent her a Thank You note years ago...and I continue to be grateful for her talent, imagination, clever mind, and the ongoing legacy of her writing. Bittersweet thanks are offered again today.

Janice's Library blog post for Anne McCaffrey's birthday a few years ago is worth a visit. She includes several of my favorite drawings of Ms. McCaffrey.

And this says it best.
Thanks are offered to Ms. Bull and Murasaki_1966 for this comment posted on the Dark Roast Blog. 
"Say not in grief that she is gone, but in thankfulness that she was."

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Exercise and the Type A Personality

Ok...I'm not a strict "Type A" according to the Stress.About Type A personality test. {wry grin}
The test results: "You have some Type A features, but are not the 'typical Type A'. You can probably really benefit from the resources below."

So it appears I'm more of a Type A Lite.
But I do have a fondness for multi-tasking. (Possibly to compensate for a mild procrastination habit...)
Foibles. I gotz dem. 
(No, I don't multi-task whilst driving. No knitting, no reading, no texting...while driving. (Don't get me started on the ninnies that text and drive at the same time. {grrrrr})  )

I've mentioned before that I learned at Sock Summit 2009 that my habit of walking and knitting at the same time may not be something everyone does.
I believe that habit stemmed from my original penchant in high school to read as I walked from class to class. Knitting while walking seemed like a natural progression and I can definitely look around more when I knit and walk. Granted I'm not knitting anything complicated...but there are a lot of "vanilla" knitting projects that travel well.

ANYWAY...So, when I exercise I tend to multi-task. I get bored just walking on a treadmill.
(In Arizona, you can't always go for a walk outside without risk of overheating your brain.)

So - I walk on a Treadmill and I listen to podcasts when I walk. 
Or I read. 
Or I watch stuff on Netflix on the clunky old monitor (when I can see around the Cat Tails...). 
And - sometimes I knit. 
Sometimes I knit and listen to podcasts or watch Netflix. 
Multi-tasking heaven. (And Lord knows I need the exercise...)

I was first inspired to try knitting on the treadmill by a deadline on a lap afghan that was too big to carry around. 
Consequently, I found it was also cumbersome to balance when walking on the treadmill.

My first treadmill knitting support system was...a pair of my Dad's red suspenders spider-web wrapped round the arms/railing on the treadmill. I kid you not!
It worked reasonably well too. Sorry, I don't have any pictures but, as you've already imagined, it was pretty silly looking.

The suspenders were not "young" and the elastic gave out in less than a year - but long after I'd finished that afghan. I tried to find a basket (like some folks put across their bathtubs) to hold my treadmill-books and maybe give me some knitting support, but I couldn't find one that was wide enough for the treadmill.

CooPurr "assisted" in creating my current knitting treadmill support system.

I have sweaters. Sweaters have to be washed and dried flat. So - I have sweater drying racks. (You can see what's coming, huh?)
I used to put the sweaters on the racks to dry over the bathtub.
E'yup...CooPurr tried to walk on one of them. Sweater drying racks aren't made to hold 17+ pounds of seal-gray gato suspended over the bathtub. The rack snapped, CooPurr scrambled out of the bathtub in a panic (for some reason he is no longer interested in strolling around the edge of the bathtub), and I had this square of mesh without a rack.

Add some little tiny bungee cords to the sweater rack mesh square, and you've got a hammock to hold your knitting on the treadmill.
(It's ok...laugh if you need to. I understand.)

I use the rust-colored bag to the left of the treadmill to store (hide) the yarn (from Gryphon).
I finished the above Pink/White lap throw a while ago. I plan to drop it off at World Care after I finish another under-construction lap throw (currently 3/4 the way finished).

And when considering the weight-lifting I'd have to perform to prepare to read the Mark Twain Biography whilst walking on the treadmill, I came up with this option:
Nikoli likes to jump up to visit me when I'm walking/reading.
I try to keep an eye out for him to avoid a teeter-totter cat/book incident. 

You folks that sew might recognize the above reading-platform as a cardboard cutting board that is usually spread out on the dining room table for cutting out sewing projects.
I inherited this 2nd one from my Mom and I found this use for it (when I'm not using it for blocking knitting stuff).

I've also been using the "hammock" system to knit on my Einstein Coat during treadmill walks.

Didja notice the orange ear in my project bag in the picture above?
Nikoli "helps" me on the treadmill a lot. He was seriously intrigued by the heavy-duty ziplock in which the Einstein supplies are stored and - he climbed inside.

See - walking on a treadmill doesn't have to be boring!
(Especially if there are cats around to "help"!)

Monday, November 14, 2011

A Cat Bordhi Weekend...well, mostly

What to say about this weekend?

I am profoundly tickled. 
My arms hurt some. 
My brain was not entirely boggled - which surprises me. 
I need to go update Ravelry with alllll the new projects I can't wait to start - and the ones I started during the classes I took this weekend. 

(Caution - extreme knitterly content. I had a blast!)

So - about 6 months ago, folks started alerting me that a "Knitterati" was coming to teach in Arizona. I reviewed the class options and registered for two classes.

I am profoundly tickled. 
Cat Bordhi came to Arizona this month. She was teaching up in Phoenix and then came to Tucson to teach at Kiwi Knitting this last weekend. (Bonus! She brought us some rain too!!)

I am a profound admirer of Ms. Bordhi's very clever mind and amazing, fun, and beautiful patterns. 
I've made a variety of Moebius-based items from her books "A Treasury of Magical Knitting" and "A Second Treasury of Magical Knitting".

Heather Ordover got me started on Moebius knitting in July 2008 - also at Kiwi Knitting! (Heather does the nifty Craftlit podcast and can also be found on RavelryGoodreads.)
Back in 2008, I made a moebius scarf for practice and then worked my way through (with guidance from Heather) a pretty spiffy Trifold Knitter's Bowl - in a variety of purple feltable yarns from my stash.
From there I knit and felted/fulled a variety of Moebius Baskets and bowls. 
(Um...pictures are pending...(seems I put them somewhere "safe")...but you can see a lot of them on my Ravelry project page. (Well, if you have an account. Sorry).)

However, the opportunity to take a moebius class from Ms. Bordhi herself was irresistible so I registered to take her "Magical Moebius Knitting" class given on Friday.
I must say, getting to hear Ms. Bordhi explain Moebius knitting with all the background, experience, tips, and charming humor was stellar. 

I'd done my "homework" and refreshed my memory on the Moebius Cast-on but choosing a class project was a bit more challenging. I wanted to knit something that was a little beyond where I'd already been - but I didn't want to make myself miserable (or look like a blithering idiot) during the class. After plotting 4 new moebius projects**, I settled on starting a "Spacious Show & Tell Moebius Bag" during class with a skein of dark green variegated LanaLoft from my stash. (Stash-busting!!)
(I love Lanaloft - it felts beautifully and doesn't come with the mohair fuzziness and shedding of the Lamb's Pride. But yes, the stash busting for this project will include some Lamb's pride.)

Ms. Bordhi offered a wide range of tips and information regarding...the cast-on, project options, moebius structure (I especially loved the "equator" reference to the cast-on row), how lace moebius knitting creates an opposite-slanting parallel pattern, wool options, the shrinkage tests she'd done, how to test for felt-ability (separate strands down to near-fluff & try spit-splicing - if it doesn't felt, it's not wool, not a felt-able fiber or is superwash), and felting clues and how-to info (hang onto your top-loader washer and put projects into a well built/sealed fabric bag to keep the felt fluff out of the mechanics of your washer (the Yarn Harlot explains why here - from experience)).

I was especially intrigued to hear more about how certain yarns felt better doubled (Cascade 220) and that the Brown Sheep Wool felted more densely when knitted very loosely than when doubled.
I did a poor job taking notes. {sigh} I guess I could try to take the class again another time...{happy prospect!}.

Cat did some of her close-up demonstrating outside in our lovely "Fall" weather. The knitters in the class were a charming, colorful, knitterly, and intelligent group. Some of them were known to me from the Tucson Handweaver's and Spinner's Guild and from other knitterly events and classes.
(Everyone was concentrating fiercely to learn the Moebius Cast-on.)

There were a variety of scarves and baskets started in the class. Inspiring. I had not realized the entrelac-like structure of the Undulating Moebius Scarves. That's a whole 'nother level of fascinating!! I'm also tempted to knit one of the lace moebius scarves/wraps and I'd like to see if I have any yarn in the stash that would work for a "Lost Trail Cape.... Yep, the blather demonstrates the level of inspiration (start-itis) this class inspired. 

K. Trying to move on. The class was grand and lovely and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. 

I did not take the Saturday class, "Finding the Fountain of Fresh Knitting Ideas", fearing my knitting was not up to a "design" level. I heard from friends who did take the class that is was also very inspiring, a great deal of fun, and that it offered some extremely interesting perspectives and thought processes.

My arms hurt some. 
Nope - the general aches and pains I had on Sunday were not related to extreme or prolonged knitting.
I helped my little brother move on Saturday. {wry grin} Complete with boxes, chairs, bed, dresser, bungee cords to keep everything in the truck...and a bit of a drive.
Slightly out of the ordinary exercise can inspire aches and pains. It wasn't too bad, but I noticed my muscles some on Sunday. 

My brain was not entirely boggled - which surprises me. 
I was back at Kiwi on Sunday for Cat's "New Pathways for Sock Knitters" class. I've had the book that supports this sock structure for years, but had not yet really explored it and had certainly not knit any socks from it. Earlier in the week I had done some studying of Ms. Bordhi's videos relating to the book's techniques: increases, decreases, wraps, and a refresher of Judy's magic cast on.

In the class and a little bit Sunday evening, I knit two sample socks ("Upstream" & Foxglove") and a very small basket that allowed us to practice the new heel turn (no gusset stitches to pick up!!!).
I plan to finish knitting the matching pairs of the sample socks to gift away as baby socks but there are sooooo many patterns and variations on the basic sock structure to explore.

I finally got to use my spiffy alphabet stitch markers from Jeds Joy - and they were much admired by my table-mates. It rained pretty steadily Sunday so there were no "Fresh Aire" demonstrations behind the shop - we were indoor knitters that day.

My "Ah-Ha" moment from the class: the book basically covers variations on where to put the increases for the instep/arch rise. Increases on the sole of the foot - on the top or all on one side. The designs in the book were inspired by the increase placement options and it's fun and amazing! It makes sense that this is the first book in a series...where to stop was probably the hard part of writing the book! The heel turn utilizes concealed wraps that minimize holes or gaps and do not require us to pick up stitches to join the heel to the instep stitches. And the basic structure works well with toe-up or top down. I have always been intrigued by the Coriolis Sock pattern and now I have a hands-on clue regarding how to knit it and why the pattern flows the way it does, emulating the Coriolis effect of the earth!

Another "Ah Ha" moment was looking down our table to see all the Lorna's Laces Cat Bordhi Ah-Ha Learning Yarn. The bright colors and short color changes work well to isolate the parts of the knitting stitches and make it easy to see what you're doing or what Cat was demonstrating. I like primary colors and rainbow-y stuff so I did finally succumb to purchasing some of this yarn for this class. Seems like quite a few other people succumbed as well:
I learned another toe-up sock technique - the garter-stitch toe. I'm not finding a link to explain this stretchy/easy toe-up start option...it is similar to something a friend of mine does to start all of her toe-up socks (excepting she does it in stockinette stitch) so you-all may already know this. Basically, you cast on 6 stitches and then knit 12 rows of garter stitch. You pickup 6 stitches on the remaining 3 sides of your garter-stitch square and then start knitting the toe of your sock - in the round.

Cat noted that although the Magical Knitting treasuries are out of print, she does expect to release them (possibly with some updates) as e-books in 2012.

If you haven't already reviewed the patterns/techniques in her new e-book, "Cat's Sweet Tomato Heel Socks" - please take a gander. The samples she brought and the quick tour she gifted us with during our Sunday class indicates that her innovative ways of looking at and simplifying Sock architecture continues. "Impressive" is a very pale description of Cat Bordhi's mind.

Oh - and making tendrils to add to your knitting is a variation on a weaving edging technique...and it's entirely spiffy!!

I could go on for quite a while about the class and the techniques and the patterns. However, I will attempt to rein in my enthusiasm and finish up this (already very long) blog entry. 

** I need to go update Ravelry with alllll the new projects I can't wait to start - and the ones I started during the classes I took this weekend. 
Plotting for the moebius class stirred up other projects: I've resurrected a plan to make a "Somersaulting Rim Trifold Bowl" for a friend. She has a striking Zebra painting in her entryway so a black/white Trifold bowl came to mind when I first visited her house. I'm am newly smitten with and plotting to knit/felt "Felted Foursome" basket with more of that purple yarn that seems so abundant in my stash (and it'll kinda go with the Trifold Knitter's Bowl...).
Then there's the lace moebius scarves/wraps I'd like try and the "Lost Trail Cape...and about 9 patterns from the New Pathways book...

Hmmm - seems the Cat Bordhi classes should come with a warning label: "May cause extreme Start-itis and possible stash-enhancement. 

Especial thanks are offered to Ms. Bordhi, Heather Ordover (for getting me started on Moebius knitting) and most especially to Lynn Davis at Kiwi Knitting - for her shop, excellent taste in Yarn and for being such a great hostess even when she didn't feel well. Thank you!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Random web-charm

Rock Fishing ~

Gus' pool ~

Courtesy of PomPom's blog:    Knit your own Cat! ~ 

Belatedly added - another charming dog making friends with a NYC Police Horse!

Alice Roosevelt said 
"First you're young, then you're middle-aged, then you're wonderful."

I rather like the idea that I am approaching "wonderful"!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Empty Bowl Luncheon and unsuccessful but heartening Dog Rescue

Not Empty Bowls:
I got to attend my first Empty Bowl Luncheon to benefit the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona on Thursday.
T'was pretty spiffy.
I dropped off a donation and my friend and I purchased "large" bowl lunches (i.e. we got to choose from the larger bowl options). There were hundreds of unique, hand-crafted bowls created and donated by the Southern Arizona Clay Artists. The first one that caught my eye was lovely but struck me as the perfect bowl for my friend - and that is exactly the one that she immediately chose!
I was drawn to several but I ended up going with the first blue and white bowl that struck my fancy.

A variety of local restaurants donated bread and interesting/yummy soups for our luncheon.
Clockwise from left: Chicken with Wine(?) and Wild Rice,
Minestrone,  & a spiced yam soup.
All VERY Yummy!

There was also a silent auction featuring other pieces from the clay craft. Larger bowls, cups, plates, decorated bowls - with different shapes, designs and finishes.
I bid on this bowl and one of the volunteers asked me if I knew who had made the bowl. I confessed I did not and she told me the name of the gent (which I didn't quite catch) and I confessed I still didn't know who that was. She indicated the teacher of the classes at the Kino Community Center had made the bowl I had bid upon.
And I won the silent auction on this lovely bowl and got to bring it home!

(And Gryphon helped me take the pictures!)

I enjoyed the luncheon and the time with my friend. I intend to go again next year, work permitting, and I'll try to get the word out sooner to the "Local Events" mailing group next year.

Dog Rescue Attempted:
Thursday was an interesting day. On the way back to work from the Empty Bowl Luncheon, the traffic slowed to a stop and up at the intersection, I saw two dogs trotting out into the street. I thought they'd turned off onto a side street, but when I got further along, I found they were still trotting along in the bus lane and still wandering out into the traffic.

I was in the middle lane so I passed them and pulled into a parking lot, hoping to lure them out of the street. I could see they were wearing collars and tags and they did pause to look at me...but they didn't stop. However, a well dressed blond in a nice car did stop. We talked briefly...she'd be willing to take them to the Humane Society if we could catch them. And a 3rd person stopped to see if she could help. Her van was actually loaded with alllllll sorts of dog-related stuff for a dog-shelter fund raising event over the weekend - including cans of dog food. The blond woman took a can and hopped in her car and drove off to try to catch the dogs who had moved on down the street - still wandering out into traffic.

The lady in the van lived in the area and called a neighbor to have her check the "Lost Dogs" posters she'd seen recently placed in their neighborhood.
Our duo-trotting-in-the-street didn't match the poster description and the van-lady and I hopped back into our cars and headed down the street to try to catch the dogs again.

We lost the blond lady somewhere and I stopped and tried to get the dogs to come to me two more times. They were now, at least, mostly staying out of the street. On the 4th try, they seriously paused and thought about coming to me.
Another pair of women had stopped to try and help - and they had water for the dogs! But the dogs moved on down the street again. The ladies with the water headed down the street and I tried to join them but traffic had gotten heavier again.

From my position trying to join traffic from a parking lot 60 feet or so from the next intersection - I could see traffic stopping again and the dogs were crossing the street. This is a major street - 3 lanes plus a bus lane - on each side on the median (8 lanes total). I held my breath and I saw them cross safely on the far side of the street - past all the lanes and they trotted off into a residential neighborhood. Interestingly enough...I also saw a family crossing the major street in the cross-walk, coming over  to my side of the street. So maybe the cars stopped for the family at just the right time for the dogs to cross. I don't know - my view wasn't that good.
I was finally able to pull out onto the street and get down to the intersection where I found the water-ladies and the van-lady pulled off the road. The dogs where nowhere to be seen but they were off the major thoroughfare.

Unfortunately, there had also been a fender-bender at the intersection, although we didn't know if it was caused by people stopping for the dogs or the family. No one had been hurt, but 2 cars were dinged up.
A woman in a US Postal Service truck pulled in to deliver the mail and checked in about the dogs too. She hadn't been able to stop to help, but she'd been following their progress.

So - the Dog Rescue had been unsuccessful, but I was heartened that so many people had stopped to try and help.

That day was a blessing. To be reminded that there are so many people in the world willing to take extra steps...to make lovely bowls, bread, and soup, to put on or attend a luncheon to raise funds to help others have food to eat - or even to stop to try and help some dogs get safely out of the street.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Empty Bowl Luncheon - Late notice

I'm posting this on the eve of the Luncheon so this is probably a bit late to inspire folks to go to lunch, but we'll see what happens.

The Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona's "Empty Bowl Luncheon".

This is an event I've been meaning to go to for a few years. A friend of mine is the inspiration for my attending tomorrow's event (Thank you, Linda!). She brought this up earlier this week and we immediately plotted to go!

I am generally impressed with the Food Bank's fund raising events although, sadly, I have done a poor job of attending many of them. The events look to be quite clever, fun, and almost numerous. I'm impressed.

At the core of this particular event are handcrafted ceramic bowls that have been donated to the Community Food Bank as well as support from a variety of Tucson restaurants. Participants pay a nominal amount for lunch and they get to take home a ceramic bowl  as a reminder of hunger in our community. ($10.00 small bowl or $15.00 large bowl).
I understand there is also a silent auction and I'm plotting to drop off a pre-holiday donation to offer additional support for the food bank.

This posting on the Food Bank's Website does a much better job of describing this event.

I hope to be able to do a better job of describing the event after I attend tomorrow. Bon Appetit!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Trick or Treat? No more tricks, please.

I received a Halloween card this week from my best friend's mom.

It said "Happy Halloween!" and "No more tricks at your house!", referencing the recent theft of my tires & wheel rims off my very old little pickup truck.
I agree, but I have to admit - but if this is as bad as it gets...I'm doing pretty well.

Halloween Treats: 

"What Just Scared this Cat"courtesy of CuteOveload.com and here's a picture of Oscar the office cat in his Halloween duds.
(By the way, this is the last of Oscar's holiday outfits to be posted on the blog unless I figure out how to add more pieces to his wardrobe.)

Happy Halloween. 
May you have many treats and no tricks this All Hallows Eve.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Tire Mis-adventures continue

Remember this picture from the February 19th blog "This week's adventure - A Tire in Pieces"?

As noted in that blog, the DH and I purchased new tires for my little Izuzu Pickup truck because it was time (and because I'd pretty much driven out of one of the tires...).

I drove the Izuzu to work on Saturday two weeks ago to check for fallout on a major install and I remember thinking the tires still looked "new" even though we'd had them on the truck for 8 months.

Apparently someone else thought so too.
The Monday following...our neighbors rang the doorbell not long after sunrise to ask if we were aware that the tires and wheel rims on the little truck were gone.

Yep, gone.
The little truck was sitting on top of two jacks and it's bare, naked wheels and brake pads.

It appears the jack under the front of the truck fell over while the {insert applicable derogatory term here} were stealing the tires.
The driveway has some chips gouged out of it from the collapse and the truck shifted to the right significantly.

They left most of the lug nuts and the two jacks and took the 8-month old tires on the original, small, very plain, 20+ year old stock rims that had come with the truck.
The 911 operator said the tire/rim theft issue is Very common now-a-days. As is syphoning gas.
The police officer who came to document the theft was very kind and helped me put the little truck up on bricks so he could take the jacks as evidence.

When he drove away, I looked at my little truck - wheel-less, a bit more beat up, and up on bricks in my driveway and I thought...there's probably a "You might be a redneck" joke in this somewhere.

Some of the neighbors stopped by to commiserate. One told me someone had stolen the bumper off her truck years before. (Who steals bumpers?!? Jeez. Ok, probably the same schmoes that steal the wheels off an ancient little truck).

I'm generally creeped out and feeling less safe in my home and pondering what it would take in my life for me to find it acceptable to steal the tires and wheels off someone's car?

We couldn't find used plain rims like the ones stolen off the truck (I guess I'm a bit glad I didn't buy my own rims back from somewhere). But basic, functional rims were hard to find . Seems tire "bling" is more prevalent than I realized. Rims had to be ordered.

So - just in very basic tires and the plainest rims we could find, we've spent more on the little truck this year than it is technically worth.
{Sigh times 3}

We picked up the new tires and rims yesterday and put them on the little truck and she rolls well on them but now something is funny with the break pressure so we have to look into that.

Don't get me wrong, I love my little 4-banger, standard transmission Pickup truck.
The rims are nice, but it makes me think of "Lipstick on a Pig" to have these semi-plain but shiny-new rims on my little "beater" truck:

Monday, October 24, 2011

Mildly excited at the prospect of unemployment

(**Disclaimer - life and work pondering is today's blog content. Craft & Kitty blogging will appear in a future blog.) 

I believe I've mentioned before - I am a recovering work-aholic.
Ok, I have not done much "recovering" of late.

I just came off a jag of working nearly 4 weeks straight with only 1.75 days off and many (many) over 10-hour days. The last few weeks were preceded by several months of projects/prep/planning/regulation releases...very "exciting" and time consuming. Granted I'm not just living at work for fun...we were dealing with some major installs required by the regulators of our industry. Pretty much everyone in our industry that I've talked to in the last few weeks is exhausted. Which means I'm in good company.
But I'm also questioning my current vocation.

And last week, coming off weeks of non-stop work...we were told there is a possibility that our part of the company will be closing it's doors or that the system/programming code we write/maintain will be sold. Whether or not we, the employees, will be part of the deal or if moving to another state is a requirement of continuing employment remains to be seen.

It's happened a few times in the last 20+ years I've worked with this system.

Sometimes the new owners make me wonder "What the h...?" right off the bat.
Sometimes I think, "This is it, now we can grow and get the things done we need to do.".
The latest owners impressed me with their integrity and long-term planning. Except it now appears we may not have ever quite made it into the long-term plan. Not without some additional investors.
Anyway...we might be sold again in the next four months - or we might be closing the doors.

It would be inappropriate for me to be more specific about the job I do and the industry in which I work. I know that my blog is not mainstream and is quite unlikely to become mainstream. And that's OK. That's not why I blog. But I do still need to be circumspect in my work-related comments.
I also think it's polite. 

I would like to think that the powers-that-be did everything they could to find us a secure position within their company. If they didn't...it wasn't because of maliciousness. 

Our reputation in the industry is actually very good and I understand there are 3 interested parties looking at buying us.
My employment could continue. But do I want to continue?

I'm proud of what we've accomplished over the years and of my contributions to battles we've won, the challenges we've overcome, and I've met and worked with some amazing people. The regulatory companies of our industry know of me personally and on a regular basis they have made complimentary noises about me and my work. 

But I'm very tired and I truly wouldn't mind if I never have to go through another 3 work months like the ones I've just been through. 

Even in these very scary economic times - starting over with a new job in another industry sounds...rather attractive.
I'm a bit loony, huh?

Sunday, October 23, 2011


I had a treat tonight - I got to see Pilobolus perform at Centennial Hall.

If you haven't seen or heard of Pilobolus before, follow the links in this blog.
They are amazing and essentially indescribable. They remind me a bit of Moebius Knitting.

My best (and feeble) attempt at describing their dance/art would be: Mesmerizing, charming, strength, clever, graceful, phenomenal, creative, thought-provoking, perfection, inspiring...stuff lika dat.

In this case, videos will do a much better job: 

Ok Go + Pilobolus

"Shadowland The Transformation" (This was included in tonight's performance.)

TED - Pilobolus

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Grasshopper day

Whilst leaving work the other day, I had two unexpected Grasshopper interactions.

As I pulled out of the parking lot, I couldn't miss the large and stocky Horse Lubber Grasshopper...walking across the parking lot entryway to toward the sidewalk. He caught my eye because he was quite large (about 3 inches long) and because he was walking. Not hopping. Just kind of ambling along.
Sorry, there's no pictures but he looked pretty much like the first gigantor Horse Lubber Grasshopper I encountered a couple of years ago, although a little smaller and of wider girth.

I became a bit alarmed for him as someone happened to drive up and turn into the parking lot before he had reached the curb/sidewalk. However, he was not inadvertently squashed by the person driving in. Since I felt guilty about hogging the driveway ogling a colorful hopper, I did move on; leaving him to continue walking out of the street towards safety. I'm still wondering why no hopping/flying was involved in his crossing.

I turned out of the parking lot, drove through the complex, and as I was waiting to pull out onto the city street, I realized I had a stow-away.

This little gent rode with me across town and then out of town to a friend's house for an evening of crafting.

He stayed right there on the passenger side window through left turns, right turns, 40 miles per hour straight-aways (with his antennae flattened against his head), a construction zone, and a short stint at 50 MPH approaching and going over the freeway. He was still with me over a cattle guard and when I checked again he had disappeared before I stopped at the entryway of my friend's neighborhood.

Yep. Nothing earth-shattering in the blog today...just observance of a mildly strange dual happenstance involving Grasshoppers.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Can't Stop the Serenity 2011

The DH, the delayed-twin (little brother) and I went to the "Can't Stop the Serenity" event Saturday night at the Fox Theater Downtown.

Our Arizona Browncoats group once again put together a terrific and fun evening to benefit "Equality Now" and "Women's Foundation of Southern Arizona". I have to say the new location at the Fox Theater was excellent. I thought it to be a friendly, stylish, historical option with bit more room for the event and displays.

There were a few vendors with a variety of spiffy t-shirts, and Serenity/Firefly or steampunk-esque items for sale/viewing - and a plethora of cunning Jayne Hats all made to benefit the CSTS charities!
(You're not seeing things, the yarn colours are different.
There are a variety of yarns mixed into these 3 hats.)
I knitted/donated the 3 Jayne Hats pictured above.
A friend of mine knitted 2 full-sized and a bag o'mini-Jayne Hats. The Arizona Browncoat shop organizer who picked up the hats I donated had crocheted her own bag o'mini-Jayne Hats for the Browncoat shop!

T'was a grand and lovely evening!

I purchased some raffle tickets but my numbers didn't come up. There were two prizes unclaimed when announced and I found out later another friend of mine (who was part of the Az. Browncoat Crew putting on the event) had the winning tickets for both items! (I think - a Serenity Music package and a Serenity book packet.)

I didn't think there were as many participants in the Costume Fashion Show/Contest as last year, but there were some stellar entrants - who deserved to win as they did.

I understand there was a gaming room downstairs featuring Serenity-based games, but I forgot to go explore to see what it was about. (Durn it!)

We were also treated to some additional pre-show entertainment: 2 episodes of "Voyage Trekkers" had the DH chortling plus we saw an episode of Steam-punk Stylish "Mantecoza" (spiffy!).
Then "Dr. Horrible's Sing-A-Long Blog" was offered  (already a noted favorite of mine), followed by the pre-Serenity videos/messages from Joss Whedon on the excellent point of why we were all there and why you "Can't Stop the Serenity".
The main event "Serenity" on the big screen capped our evening.

And I did something I've never done before.
I got a henna tattoo on the back of my left hand/wrist. The young lady who did the deed, Bridget, indicated she'd been doing henna adornment for quite a few years and is quite particular (Thank you!) about how she creates the henna paste she uses.
She was also dressed a la Kaylee and participated in the Fashion show - after she paused some of her natural exuberant energy to neatly decorate my hand.
(Bridget contact info: bbensonatpowercdotnet. I understand she will bring her henna art to special events. She will also be at the Spring 4th Avenue Street Fair. )

She had me come back after "Dr. Horrible" when the henna was dry and she taped up my arm to allow the paste to stay put for the best possible stain.
As advised, I left it on overnight and took off my slept-in mummy-wrappings the next morning to see how my henna tattoo turned out:
Spiffy, huh? 
It has darkened some over the past few days as she indicated it would:
All in all, I had a great evening and I hope to attend our Tucson "Can't Stop the Serenity" event again next year.
Grateful thanks to the Arizona Browncoats for their fun, generous and entirely Shiny efforts in putting on a stellar CSTS shindig!
Kudos are also offered to the Fox Theater for supporting and hosting this fine event.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

SS11 - Weaving Art, Lost-in-Powells, Yarn, and Chocolate

As noted in the 1st SS11 post, I arrived in Portland Tuesday afternoon and had hoped to have enough time after checking into the hotel to visit the...

Museum of Contemporary Craft:
When I had explored the Internet to plot my course through Portland during the Sock Summit, one of the first things I found was something I HAD to do.

The Museum of Contemporary Craft was hosting a Weaving exhibit.
A weaving exhibit of some of the Museum's Artists-in-residence weaving-inspired pieces but primarily featuring a very gifted Portland Weaver, Laurie Herrick.

There is a lot of coverage of this exhibit on the Internet - articles, blogs, flicker photo streams. Interweave Press also had an article on Laurie Herrick.

So much has already been said on this exhibit.
When I search the Internet on Laurie Herrick, the first several pages are links to this exhibit (OK, better than the first 5 pages). I plan to learn more about Laurie Herrick if I can, but here are my thoughts and impressions on the exhibit:

I am a rookie weaver.
For nearly as long as I can remember, there were two crafts to which I have always been drawn.
Knitting and Weaving. Both fascinate me. Knitting has been a bit easier to pursue. It might have something to do with the ease and portability of the equipment.  I am a much more accomplished knitter than I am a weaver. (I intend to do something about that...)

I rather liked the idea of a bit of weaving in the midst of my knitterly SS11 adventure.

The exhibit had been running since March 27th and was only going on until Saturday, July 30th, so I was concerned about finding time to visit the museum around the SS11 events/classes before the exhibit closed. Thusly, I had hoped to make the Museum of Contemporary Craft my first Portland visit.

And I was successful! I was able to hop on the Max, get off on the correct stop - and figure out which direction was West by the location of the sun. {wry grin}
I'm not kidding. The Google directions said head West and I was missing the "due North" symbol on my "cliff-notes" Map so I figured out "West" by the late afternoon sun.

The ladies at the front desk were entirely kind. They gave me the basic info and indicated I was able to take photographs of the exhibit.
And I did.

I have to note, if you're interested in seeing more, and admittedly much better photography, the Museum's Website features stunning photographs - and much more information about the weaving art than you'll find here.

I thought the exhibit was inspiring and imaginative; with striking aspects of clothing design and art-work. Stimulating, amazing, and clever.
Seeing such work makes me mindful of how little I know, how much there is to learn, and how little time there is for the learning.

I have to admit, I think I dashed through the exhibit a bit, being a bit too cognizant of the pending closing time and the lack of food in my traveling schedule for the day.

But, these are the photographs I took:
(Please Click on the photos to enlarge. Information on the art was gleaned from the descriptions provided by the museum as part of the exhibit. 
Unless otherwise noted, art is by Laurie Herrick. 
My grateful thanks to the museum for hosting this exhibit and for enhancing my trip to Portland.)

The lady herself at her loom.
As a matter of fact, I believe this loom.
The above-left: "Drunken Plowman" also known as "Field of Grain", 1989. 
"Mohair, wool and linen; Inlay. 36 x 28 inches" 
The above-right: "Green Valley , c. 1960s" "Modified Basket Weave" 63.5 x 38 inches

Weaving tools - combs and a variety of shuttles.
Apologies - I missed recording the information on this weaving but it had
multiple layers and I love the painted/drawn look it has from this perspective. 

The above is "Hidden Passage", 1971. "Linen, wool and fur; Inlay" 48 x 27.5 inches.
I tried to take a detail shot (above right) since the texture was so striking. 

This is another piece I neglected to collect the artist/art detail, however,
I suspect it might belong to Christy Matson.
Humble apologies if I am misrepresenting this piece.
"Composition in Circles / White" and "/Black" 2011 by Christy Matson, 
Mixed Media 21.5 x 21.5 each 

This one was woven so fine - it seemed translucent. 
The picture surely does not do it justice. 
"Macrogauze 119" by Peter Collingwood. 1974. 
"Linen, metal rods; handwoven" 54.25 x 37 inches

"The River, 1985" Wool; inlay 44 x 28.75 inches

The weaving above was my absolute favorite. I was struck by the colors and subject - note the inspiration photograph in the picture below as well as the artist's notes on the right.

Above left: "Selection of Laurie Herrick's yarns" "Various fibers"
Above right: "Recollect 2, 2011" by Mackenzie Frere "Silk, hemp, plant dyes" 138 x 31 inches

Recollect 2 above was a lovely subtle piece and I remember studying both sides, fascinated. Too fascinated to take a better picture apparently. {sigh} However, the artist, Mackenzie Frere blogs about this weaving here.
"Diedrich Dasenbrock and Patrick O'Neill" created "Corbett View, 2007"
"Oregon black walnut and maple"

Yep, not weaving but I fell in love with this banister. The shading of the wood and smooth flow and shape pulled me away from the bright cones of yarn. (Those of you that know me will understand it is a small feat to distract me from fibre-y stuff.)

Another weaving lacking detail in my notes. But striking and intricate. 
As I recall, the picture on the left shows 2 pieces; related, but in different color schemes. 
The detail picture on the right gives evidence of the intricate pattern. 

I loved the "floating" squares in this weaving. When I begin to consider how it would be done, and the skills involved - admiration abounds.
I have the above recorded as "Patterns Purple, 1974" "Wool; Overshot" 64 x 45 inches. However, 
the name seems to belie the shades in the weaving so I question my notes. 
Yet - in defense of my notes, there is another weaving by Laurie Herrick that cite "Purple..." (see below)
when the color scheme suggests other-than-purple. 

"Polychrome Purple, 1975" "Wool; Summer and Winter Polychrome" 75 x 43 inches
I'm wondering if these were part of a "Purple" series. I should track that down..

This is a SAMPLE - Quarter scale.  Two sides of the same weaving.
"Tree of Life (Quarter Scale), 1969 Sample for First Unitarian Church"
"Wool; Summer and Winter on Opposite" 44.5 x 28 inches

The photo above presents my other favorite piece from this collection. I thought all the coats were especially lovely, but my favorite is on the right - the "Laurie Coat". It is kind of a swing coat - but I loved the drape, cut and simplicity.

Whilst I was on the second floor, I got to meet the museum curator, Namita Gupta Wiggers.
She brought to my attention the copious notes displayed in the garment area - some about the "Laurie Coat" of which I'd just become enamored. The coat was woven with shaping in the design. I have done a little sewing and it was a paradigm shift for me to consider shaping built into the creation of the fabric. 
Again...so much to learn. 

A very art-ful dress and a several spiffy shawls. 
I spoke with the curator for a bit. I'd never met a curator before, although I'd always thought it would be an interesting job. My ignorant stereotypical expectations that a curator would be a tall, elderly gent with a moustache have been quashed.

Ms. Gupta Wiggers was very engaging and most patient - especially considering that she and some other folks were in the midst of setting up the next exhibit that would be opening in just a few days. We talked a bit about blogging, weaving, the examples of the lace-work pottery I'd seen on the website for the next exhibit, and the Sock Summit. She had the ladies downstairs give me her card and I took that as a bit of a compliment. 

I cannot begin to tell you how much I love the idea of the Museum of Contemporary Craft and how much I enjoyed my visit. Looking at the various exhibits they've had for the past few years, I truly envy the people of Portland this treasure. I do intend to return to explore it further on my next Portland adventure. 

Bonus! I also found more examples of Laurie Herrick's work featured on YouTube

I left the museum and headed toward Powells with the intent of visiting the Knit Purl store afterwards...

And here's an example of one of my frequent Oregon "Green" "Shiny" moments. 
In Arizona, we have our own, milder, and sometimes spiney versions of greenery. In my Portland adventure, I couldn't help but have "ooooh-Shiny" moments in admiring the more lush and varied types of greenery in Oregon. 
Reeds or miniature bamboo along a water feature. 

On to Powells.
In my limited experience - this is the ultimate book store. A city block wide and three stories tall.
A near-perfect representation of Jorge Luis Borges' quote "I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of Library".

{Happy sigh - Bookstore}

And I found Powells had setup a nifty display in honor of the Sock Summit: 

I had a sandwich and tea from Powell's cafe and  ...  was cured of my vague retirement plan to move into Powells and live there. A crucial part of the plan had been the point that everything I needed was there - food and books - lots of books. (OK, I hadn't yet addressed the profound lack of yarn...). But the sandwich was, uh, well...edible but will not inspire a repeat performance. 
Reality asserts itself in the form of an merely adequate meal and a fantasy dies.

However, I was in Powell's...THE bookstore...and... I, uh, lost track of the time. 
Yeah, SO not a surprise. 

So after I'd wandered through pretty much every part of the store (gleeful smile), I  realized it was now too late to go visit Knit Purl because they had closed for the evening. 
I had also collected a few books to commemorate my visit:
I had a minor Neil Gaiman fit and was tickled to pick up one of the
Emma Bull novels on my to-find list. 

And to purchase it at Powells seems to enhance the find somehow. 

Sooooo - having missed out on my "Yarn" opportunity for the day, I walked over to investigate one of the 3 chocolate shops on my to-visit list - Cacao
I forgot to take pictures, but it's a charming store with bars of chocolates in many many flavors, truffles, and many, many lovely temptations. They have a little seating outside and some inside as well. I purchased some bars of dark chocolate (for me) and some flavored with coffee for the DH. 

My newest chocolate addiction, however, is for the Cacao Drinking Chocolate. 
I had a "shot" - a small cup of warm drinking chocolate flavored with cinnamon - and it was easily the very best "hot chocolate" I've ever had in my life. I am smitten and craving it again with every remembrance. {delighted, wistful sigh}

After that lovely chocolate interlude, I returned to my hotel considering my trip to Mt. St. Helen's the next day - Wednesday. 

Pre-SS11 Portland, weaving, books, and chocolate...t'was a pretty nifty day all in all.