Sunday, March 30, 2008

Baby sweater for Jack just needs to be seamed up

Of course, I forgot my seaming needles, so I will be forced to go out today to ONLY buy the needles. Well, and maybe some lace curtains for the kitchen and the hallway door. If I can find the lace with the lighthouses on it. While I'm out, I'm stopping for fish and chips at this dive over by the Coast Guard station.

Swatching Darling's cardigan this morning, while all the cleaning spray in the bathroom does it's job. Looking quite forward to getting this knitted up, since I bought the yarn three entire years ago. It's a pretty blue cashmere and I'm using a Sarah James pattern.

I did laundry here at the coast and left it pegged on the line overnight, so it is still damp. Won't need it until tonight anyway. I really don't LIKE having to do laundry here (or clean or cook). I want the beach house to be more like a hotel, where no one bothers me. Unfortunately, that is not the way the world works.

I brought my extra vacuum cleaner and forgot the hose part at home. Forgot the sheets. Forgot the towels. Brought the carpet cleaner but THAT does me no good, since I can't vacuum before hand. My plan, since I have three days, was to vac the whole house, drapes, everything. Maybe by next week, I'll have decided to change out the drapes (which I hate.) I'm thinking some tab topped ones, with a thermal backing. I have three big windows in the living room and they came with icky cheap white blinds. Hate 'em.

Tomorrow, if it is warm, I'm going to work in the yard. Once it warms up, that will take about 10 minutes. I need to remember to load some bricks in the car so I can enlarge my little patio AND buy some stepping stones, so I can put in a little sidewalk around the back. The ground is soft there and not especially level, so that is an afternoon's worth of project. I have a little storage shed that I want to move up against the house because it blocks my view of the water. (Was that dumb or what? Whose idea was that?)

That little spot is where I'm putting my little herb garden-it is the sunniest little bit. I have a huge box of bulbs I'm putting in the the little front garden, along with poppy seeds. Something pretty for the long mild spring we have here. It starts in March and stretches out thru November. Then there is summer, from December to February. My kind of weather.

Took the kayak out to just past the rock. Choppy, choppy, choppy. When the weather is like that, I KNOW that the sharks come in past the breakwater and are swimming RIGHT UNDER ME.

I know it.
So that sorta takes the fun out of it. And the older I get, the lest chances I feel like taking.
And just in case you think I am crazy about the sharks? Some gal got EATEN in Avila, which is just on the other side of the point. Eaten. Like, eaten up DEAD. People on the shore saw the attack but her body was never recovered.

Yeah, I know.

Friday, March 28, 2008

I am SO allergic to alpaca

The recently completed Alpaca Dirt was left on the back of my chair last night. I was working on Peggy'sRuthie'sJack's sweater and got itchier and itchier....took a benydryl or six and then I started to hive up. It was that damn alpaca!

I've been cranky and itchy all day and cranky and itchy all the way over here to the beach and damn! I forgot my sheets...which really won;t make that big of a difference, since Darling has started to snore like a bull moose or a train or (last night) mooing like a cow. I end up in the front room. I imagine that's where I'll be tonight.

And I forgot the towels. Damndamndamn.


They're at the top of the stairs.

I guess a trip to Bed, Bath and Beyond is in the works for me tomorrow. OR a thrift shop.

On the other hand, I am just loving this lofty roving type of wool. Compared to the alpaca, it feels like butter. Finishing up PRJ's sweater while watching Snakes on a Plane. So far, it is sorta like a day at work. Scary, violent guys and I'm only six minutes into it.

Okay. This movie is so full of holes, from the computer plane in the computer sky to the computer snakes. There's a yapping dog and I guess my hearing is failing, since the screaming baby sure doesn't sound like MY screaming babies. No wonder I'm deaf. Then there's the hairspray and cigarette lighter flamethrower. I had one of those. Some days, I wish I carried one in my handbag. In fact, when they start implanting tasers in your hand? I'm totally going.

Oh, geeze, now they're at the illegal venomous snake dealer's place. Glass snaketeriums and guns. Did you know that the Feeb's and the Secret Service and school teachers make about the same amount of money? Now THAT'S scary.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

A day with my best friend

Marji and I have been friends since we were 12. I will be retiring in 2.91 years, so that is one long time. And we still can talk all day and NOT run out of things to say.

Because of our schedules, we can email every day, but we manage to actually see each other maybe twice a year...and even THAT is a major scheduling production.

But today, we got to spend the entire day (along with daughters Miss B and Girlie), with a 75% knitting ratio (Girlie doesn't knit). We exchange presents because we always do. I got a loverly skein of smooshy sock yarn in colorway Pansy Golightly, mainly because I have been griping at great length at the alpaca dirt afghan.

We talked and talked and talked. Once upon a time we drove to SF for a Britex fix and by the time we go home, we were totally hoarse. Of course, just the road part of the trip was 8 hours.

So Miss B fixed us a lovely light lunch, Mr. T came out of his internet cave to say hello and the four of us yap-yap-yapped the day away. I can't tell you how much I treasure out multi decade connection; if you've never had a close friend for over 40 years--there is nothing like it. There is not much that we don't know about one another's histories that so there isn't that pesky learning curve. When we were in high school, I think we had probably 90% of our classes together.

And there is no one I would rather have know me so well. She gets me and I get her.
And that is a rare commodity in this world.

So here's to you, Catwoman! I had a great time. Let's not let it take so long to get together again. You are funny and smart and totally entertaining and I love you like a sister.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

It is POURING Rain

We spent most of the day on the patio, barefoot in the mild spring weather. Jeans and a light sweatshirt kind of weather. The sky was so blue and clear; neighbors were strolling by and doing the little hand-raise kind of wave, which is more than friendly enough for me. Then I went to the market for pie makings and bok choy and the sky on the other side of town was just black. So I'm thinking, poor people at home (100 miles away) getting rained out. Too bad.

And just now, the sky got black and the heavens just opened up. Sheets of rain. Great gusts of wind. I'm looking out to the ocean and it looks all it's not a big Pacific storm. Just pouring down hard enough so that I probably won't
have to wash the car. Seriously. It is pouring hard enough to make me say "Wow".

And I've got corned beef, new potatoes and new carrots from my little garden and bok choy (I need to plant some of this stuff) on the stove. Whacked up some pot pie stuff for tomorrow...and since I had the dough out, I made a peach and apricot pie.

Spring and the alpaca

The drive over to Morro Bay was an absolute gift from the daylight savings time gods.

It is as green as Ireland and the sun was just at the exact right angle to give every green thing perfect lighting. The incandescent greens are scattered with literally miles of wildflowers, rioting on the hillsides. Brilliant orange california poppies, dense mats of blue and yellow lupines, lemondrops, and daisies.

The hills are also loaded with herds of sheep with new lambs frolicking. The Basque herders are (unusually) located in adjoining fields, so I actually saw more than the usual solitary man. They all had dogs, so even the border collies were getting a little socialization. I've always thought that job was exceptionally lonely.

Here in the Central Valley, there are herds of sheep that roam the fields and hills, "sheeping" off weeds or the leftovers of a harvest. Each herd has a shepherd who lives in a little gypsy caravan, called a sheep camp. It's a little like a travel trailer, but outfitted a little differently. The guys cook outside, live alone except for their dog. When I was little, they were, without exception young Basque men, in their late teens or early twenties. They came over here, worked for three or four years and went back home.

The Central Valley has a large Basque population, so it is sort of a chain immigration, without the idea of staying forever. I'm not sure who or how all this is arranged-I just know that it is. I've never even seen the herds being moved.

So it was fun, seeing the little lambs, so new and tiny that their tails haven't been docked yet. They are still white and bouncy and quite entertaining to watch. It made me think that I'd like to get a couple of sheep to keep the weeds down in my huge backyard. There is MORE than plenty of grass for them!

Now about the alpaca. I am still trying to cast off with an elastic edge. The first time, it was too stiff. The next time, I added a stitch every three--too ruffly. Then I did one every ten stiches--not stretchy enough. Then during Fight Club last night (man, I do not like Brad Pitt), I tried an extra stitch every eight--still not stretchy enough. So now, I have a row with an extra stitch every eight stitches and another row of an extra stitch every five stitches. When I'm done, I'll cast off and see if I get an elastic edge.

This is what makes knitting interesting for me. It's just mindless enough (I am very fond of miles of stockinette) but then there is always just the tiniest of challenges.

Granted, trying to figure out how to make a straight cast off a little bit stretchy isn;t brain surgery but it is hard enough for me.

And I even brought along RuthieJack's Sweater to start.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


Is she not the cutest thing? She was chasing Tank. Tonight she is playing Tough Dog, trying to rip Tank's ears off. She will just launch herself at him.

When she was little, she would leap off the arms of the chairs, like Rocket J. Squirrel, hence the name Rocket.
She is not the smartest dog I have ever had...she knows her name and she knows "get home", but that is about it. She still chases her tail. Endlessly.

She has just learned how to jump up on the bed, so she can sleep under the covers. Until just recently, she slept under the bed in a little nest.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Me and my head

I'm on an eight day cycle. That means every eight days, my head will bring me to my knees. And as much as I hatehatehate the ER, at 0330, that is where you'll find me about twice a month. I'm at the clinic about that often. It just depends on the time and the day of the week.

The upside---and there is an upside---is that I rarely have to wait for hours. The other day, I was in and on my way home in 15 minutes. I have a little recipe that works and I don;t get any flack for the amount of drugs I want.

The down side is missing work. I manage to make four days, reliably. I might even manage five days in a row, but my supervisor's are very understanding about the time I miss. They never give me any flack. Of course, when I am there, I drive my students like a herd of cows. My paperwork is perfect and on time. Need some new teachers trained? Send them to me. Need someone to get john's order put together and sent in? Say no more. So what I can do, I do. And when I can't do it, I don't worry about it.

So the pills from San Francisco have helped. A lot. They aren't miracle drugs, by a long shot, but that is what Dr. Nagy and the Migraine Clinic is for.

I still have trouble sleeping. It is better when I can spend part of the evening in the hot tub, but I'm waiting for the new top. The old one lasted ten years and then this winter, it just fell apart on the inside. So sitting for hours, neck deep in steaming hot water isn't an option right now.

I try to stay busy. Work is that. Just work. And it stays there. I don't drag it home. So I have a lot of time at home to do things....right now, with the good weather, it is gardening and cleaning up the outside so that when the weather is SO HOT that I can just let it go. There are always chores to do in the house and my children--Boy-O and Girlie--are really good about helping me with projects I have no hope of finishing.

I knit. I sew. I write.
And I hope I don't wake up with a headache.

Weekend photos

I went out to the country about three years ago and dragged back to entire heaping pickup loads of unknown bulbs, notched and planted them. Most of them were daffodils and paper whites, which I have since dug up and planted in the front. I have a little over an acre of yard and it is humungous to tend to. I like to mess about when the weather is fair and the weeds are few.

I love gardening in the spring and fall, when the weather is nice. I like gardening year round over in Morro Bay. It is the winter and summer in Kings County I don't like. In the summer, we hit murderous triple weeks of +110. The winters? Cold, wet, foggy. Miserable. So icky that we go to the coast every chance we can. The weather there is an absolute flip of the weather here, except with mild temps.

Here's the honeysuckle that I'm planting in the beds that surround the front of the house. I need something that will fill up the beds and not crawl into the stonework.

Here are samples of my shade garden. Hostas, snowdrops, violets, ferns and camellias. It is always shady alongside this walkway, so these take care of themselves. They are a welcome sight in February, when looks everything else is dead and overgrown.

I tried to keep everything in the shade garden white, green and violet...I have wild violets running wild and am trying to get them to take over most of that bed. The shade garden is right next to the koi pond.

Then I have the big vegetable garden..winter weeding, of course. All the fish pond water goes into the garden. I'm moving my potting table to underneath the old clothes line....grapes vines go on that this week. (I need SOME shade!)

I had it fixed for automatic watering this winter...I can never remember when to water and end up forgetting and letting the whole garden burn up. So weeding is still to be done there and then the tidy planting. Home grown vegetables are so much better and rushing off to the market to try to find something.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Spring here tomorrow

We get about 16 days of spring was one of them. Tomorrow, photos, I promise! I think a little before and after would be appropriate, since I'm weeding and cleaning. I would prefer to weed, since it is one of those chores that has a beginning and ending. UNLIKE cleaning, which has no end in sight.

I'm going to the nursery tomorrow for honeysuckle to go in the middle flowerbeds. My yard is so huge that I have front flowerbeds, side flowerbeds, the driveway bed and middle beds that wrap around the house.

Then there is the side and back yards.
Shade beds, plantings around the outbuildings and then my vegetable garden. Tomorrow, I put in asparagus and tomatoes, as well as some grapes on my old clothesline. That's where I have my big potting table and I'd like a little shade in the afternoon.

This house is going on the market in two years. I have to get the outside ready because NO ONE in their right mind will buy it if it looks like as much work as it is. But i know that there is someone out there who would like a huge Victorian with an equally huge yard, huge vegetable garden, guest house, pool house and pool and a koi pond. It is really lovely but a LOT of work....when I wasn;t working, it didn;t seem to be so much but now that I'm working again, it is A. LOT.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Prison is an odd place

I never read my students jackets. I don't need to read a student's past; I never have. Even when I taught on the street, I tried to wait until Christmas to read the comments from the previous teachers.

So I rarely know what has brought my students to prison. I don't need to know. Suffice to say that my prison houses what is called "the worst of the worst". And I have read hundreds of files, so I know what men in my prison have done to get here. I just don't want to know what crimes my students have committed because if I did, I'm not sure I could stand to have them breathing my air.

My yard is particularly violent. Another yard is filled with "skin offenders"---sex crimes of the worst imaginable magnitude. I couldn't teach there. But my own bunch of violent guys are okay. I guess I'm used to it; to them. Today, the weather has turned and it was particularly nice and since it was a Friday, my students were particularly noisy. Loud.

I tried my usual "Gentlemen! Too noisy!" and they were so noisy that they couldn't hear me, so I raised my voice and tried again. Two of my particularly touchy students took offense at me "yelling" at them and tried to tell me to back down. I have been teaching longer than they have been alive, so I jumped right on them. I don't need help in running my class. I do just fine. And if I have to raise my voice, perhaps it is because it needed to be raised.

So one of them got all jacked and was going to leave my class. Fine with me. I don't care.

What some of my students don't realize is that I am not interested in saving them. I'm not going to be going to any PTA meetings or having any parent conferences. I present the work. I prepare lessons. I have an overhead and any number of ways to teach a concept. I can teach people right into the ground.

But if there is a student who is a reluctant learner--hey, that's on him. I don't cajole. Don't try to manipulate me because I. Don't Care. There are plenty of guys who WANT to learn. I expend my energies on those students.

I don't care if W ever figures out how to do fractions. I teach it but if W is staring out the window, I'm not going to redirect his attention. And when I've worked on apostrophes and quotation marks for two weeks and it is test time, I don't plan on walking W thru it so he can feel successful.

You know how a guy in prison can feel successful?
He LEARNS. He works on it. He actually LOOKS at the things we are doing on the board.
He watches the videos that illustrates Mr. Apostrophe and the Quotation Twins.
He pays attention to the worksheets when I have them up on the overhead. Then when I give them a test that I have lifted right off prior work (and I mean the questions are the exact same ones we've done a dozen times), he makes an attempt to do them. He doesn;t spend time whining about how easy it is or what baby work it is or what an insult it is to even be expected to do the work. He just does it.

Out of my 28 students, there are only three guys who resent the work I do and the way I do it. They want the answers handed to them and to get someone to write them down. Those three? They can remain ignorant. They can write illiterate letters. They can complain all they want. Write me up. Refuse to attend. I. Don't Care. They are the knuckleheads who have managed to manipulate the system right into prison; they have managed to get mommy and girlfriend to intercede at every junction....and by abdicating adulthood, they have ended up in prison.

I have one student who is working on a first grade level. He reads his little "Jed in the Jet Bed" books and does his first grade math and first grade spelling. I think he might test up to mid second grade, because he is really successful in the work he is doing. Does he think it's baby work? Evidently not, because this is the first time he has been successful in school.

THAT'S the student I'll work with....and the others in class who have a concept that perhaps they don;t know everything.

Those other goofs? They are never getting out, so I guess puffing up their chests and wailing about being insulted works for them. They aren't fooling anyone, least of all me.