Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Orange trees..really (PM December 22)

Here it is...noon and there are some of the many miles of orange groves. It is high enough here on the slopes of the foothills so that the oranges don't freeze. In a few miles, it will be too cold and nippy for them. There are mandarin oranges here and avocados, too. Miles of them. A little higher are apples (they need colder weather). Lower down, where I live, are peaches and plums, apricots...stuff like that there.

It's snowy and stormy and COLD. Look at the sky! It snowed in Vegas yesterday. Marji emailed me and said that it's been windy and cold in Sedona and there is supposed to be a huge storm on the way to Utah from Seattle. I have a sweatshirt and my RiteAide tennis shoes with me. I have my Dux home. We did bring chains.

Look at THIS! It's the wind factory in Tehachapi and there is snow and fog and terrible weather everywhere. What was I thinking? Whose idea WAS this? I hate the snow! I HATE the cold! I like my own bed.

And then like magic, the skies are clear right around the bend on the way down to Mojave.

This is what the Mojave desert looks like in the winter. Not what you expected, is it?

About an hour outside of Vegas.

Las Vegas
It looks pretty spectacular at night...just like CSI. This is what it looks like in real life. We stayed at South Pointe Casino for $29. (I looked it up on the web and then called the hotel direct. Got a better price that way. Who knew?)
Of course, wireless internet was $13. Nothing was on tv. You could rent movies for $15. Or you could go gamble. The buffet was $15 (and it was REALLY good and really fresh. Probably the best I've ever had in Vegas. Ever.) Which is what we did and then we went to bed.It was one long day. And tomorrow is going to be longer.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas is early for us: Lisi is working and we'll be on the road

Perfect: We are all together, snug and safe
Except: Lisi, who is working at the jail Someone has to keep the streets safe. Might as well be her at double time and a half. She volunteered.

We'll have another Christmas with judy and Mom in Utah, so this one is pretty much Lisi-centric.

So here is Lisi's new sewing basket (courtesy of Marji); zip pockets for notions and a sushi pincushion. There is also a needle keeper, a thread braid (I'll post a photo because I can't explain it), good scissors and a bunch of other little things she'll need for mending. Lisi is no seamstress. I lined the inside of the basket so it would look nice but I have no real expectation of her ever ACTUALLY using it. She did teach one of her inmates how to sew on a button and told me that it made her feel really competent, so I'm not a total failure in teaching her those useful skills needed in life (besides balancing her checkbook, doing laundry and saving 10% of her paycheck).

Saturday, December 20, 2008

SHU-by Dooby Do

The SHU is sorta like solitary confinement. It's not for the worst of the worst (as in never get OUT of prison);it's for inmates who just don;t play well with others.

SHU inmates spend 23 hours a day in their cells, usually alone because they can't play nice with a cellie. I have about 50 of them on my caseload and about 10 of them actually are active and doing any work.

The other 40? They write every day and want books or batteries or pencils or televisions but can't manage to get work finished and sent in. Part of it is because they are only using their enrollment to get whatever they think I'm handing out. Part of it is because they are just "stuck on stupid" and afraid that maybe they are stupid and I'll find out.

Funny how that works--a guy doesn;t mind if I think he's a stone killer or a pedophile or uses his own bodily fluids to write on his cell walls but he very much minds that I find out that he can't read. For some reason, if their math skills are bad, that's okay. Reading is a point of pride.

I have one SHU-by who generate more paperwork than all of the rest of my students put together. He reminds me of a toddler who wants some candy and is throwing a bigger and bigger tantrum in his attempt to get that candy. This SHU-by wants a television. He claims that he has to have one to do his school work. (He doesn't.)He writes almost every day--begging. pleading, threatening, cajoling. Trying to be lawyer-like. It doesn;t make any difference because I DON'T HAVE ANY TELEVISIONS.

He 602'd me (inmate complaint) because he has to have a television to do his work. (No, he doesn't.) Then he 602'd me because he can't do his work without a television.
Another 602-he's requested a television from me and I refuse to answer, so there is nothing he can do except write a 602. (Evidently, NO doesn't count as an answer.)

I get dozens of notes every day. Usually, some guy wants to get tested ("I done been here for eight years and I need a TABBY test." No, you don't. You took that test when you entered prison. I don't have time to retest you just because you feel like it.)Occasionally, he wants something else...a computer, a book, a cellphone, some paper, envelopes, a television. I don't have any of that stuff. But I guess it
doesn't hurt to ask.

I might have a TV keistered and want to sit down.

Monday, December 15, 2008

I love to read

I snagged this from Marji’s blog. It’s is originally from UK’s The Big Read where they assume most people will have only read about 6 of the 100 books listed. Ha.

I say the folks at The Big Read need to have their heads examined since they have The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, and ALL the Harry Potter books listed as one title apiece. I say The Big Read needs to look up the meaning of the word "book" in the dictionary.


1. Look at the list and bold those you have read.

2. Underline those you intend to read.

3. Italicize the books you LOVE.

Put this list on your blog so that we can track down those people who have only read six and force books upon them.

1. Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen

2. Lord of the Rings - J.R.R. Tolkein (Didn’t like it)

3. Jane Eyre -Charlotte Bronte (the world would be a better place if the Brontes had not been given access to pen and paper)

4. Harry Potter series - J.K. Rowling (Couldn’t get into them at first. Like them better now. The movies helped)

5. To Kill A Mockingbird - Harper Lee (I can hear this outloud in my head when I read it)

6. The Bible

7. Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte (see #3 above)

8. Nineteen Eighty-Four - George Orwell

9. His Dark Materials - Phillip Pullman (Marji has it on her to-read list, so I thought I’d give it a shot)

10. Great Expectations - Charles Dickens (He was paid by the word and it shows. At least he avoids the inmate "very, very, very, very" when counting out words.)

11. Little Women - Louisa May Alcott (loved Alcott when I was little. Not so much now.

12. Tess of the D'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy (Poor Tess.)

13. Catch 22 -Joseph Heller

14. Complete Works of William Shakespeare (I still say this is cheating)

15. Rebecca - Daphne du Maurier (Marji’s mother recommended this book when I was about 16. I like most everything du Maurier wrote, especially House on the Strand.)

16. The Hobbit - J.R.R. Tolkein (Didn’t like it)

17. Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks

18. The Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger (I hate this book.)

19. The Time Traveller's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger

20. Middlemarch - George Eliot (I never liked the sound of these words)

21. Gone With the Wind - Margaret Mitchell (What was in Rhett’s head?. Stupid Scarlett. Weak Ashley. Poor relation Melanie. That bunch had Brittany Spears/Anna Nicole Smith written all over them.)

22. The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald

23. Bleak House - Charles Dickens (Dickens-still sucking all the words out of the universe)

24. War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy

25. The Hitchhiker's Guide to Galaxy - Douglas Adams

26. Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh

27. Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky

28. The Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck

29. Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll ( Disney has a lot to answer for)

30. The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame (Better book than a ride)

31. Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy

32. David Copperfield - Charles Dickens (word, word, word)

33. Chronicles of Narnia - C.S. Lewis

34. Emma - Jane Austen

35. Persuasion - Jane Austen

36. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe - C.S. Lewis (Isn't this part of #33?)

37. The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini

38. Captain Corelli's Mandolin - Louis de Bernieres

39. Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden

40. Winnie the Pooh - A.A. Milne (Walt, Walt, Walt)

41. Animal Farm - George Orwell

42. The DaVinci Code - Dan Brown

43. One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez (I’d like some of that)

44. A Prayer for Owen Meany -- John Irving (I’m not an Irving fan).

45. The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins (Early Danielle Steele. How did this get on the list?

46. Anne of Green Gables - Lucy Maud Montgomery

47. Far From the Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy

48. The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood

49. The Lord of the Flies - William Golding (Lord, how I hated that book.

50. Atonement - Ian McEwan (what a perfect title)

51. Life of Pi - Yann Martel (this was one nutty book)

52. Dune - Frank Herbert

53. Cold Comfort Farm -- Stella Gibbons

54. Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen

55. A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth (I tried but just could not get into this gigantic fat book)

56. The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon

57. A Tale of Two Cities - Charles Dickens (It is a wonder there are any words LEFT for any of us to use)

58. Brave New World - Aldous Huxley

59. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime - Mark Haddon

60. Love in the Time of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez

61. Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck 62. Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov

63. The Secret History - Donna Tartt

64. The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold LOVED IT

65. The Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas

66. On the Road - Jack Kerouac

67. Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy

68. Bridget Jones' Diary - Helen Fielding (How did this get on the list?)

69. Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie

70. Moby Dick - Herman Melville

71. Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens

72. Dracula - Bram Stocker

73. The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett

74. Notes From a Small Island - Bill Bryson

75. Ulysses -- James Joyce

76. The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath

77. Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome

78. Germinal - Emile Zola

79. Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray

80. Possession - A.S. Byatt

81. A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens

82. Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell

83. The Color Purple - Alice Walker

84. The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiquro

85. Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert

86. A Fine Balance - Rohintin Mistry

87. Charlotte's Web - E.B. White

88. The Five People You Meet in Heaven - Mitch Albom

89. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

90. The Far Away Tree Collection - Enid Blyton

91. Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad

92. The Little Prince - Antoine de Saint-Expury (I think everyone at college read this and thought it was SO DEEP. I thought it was SO STUPID)

93. The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks

94. Watership Down - Richard Adams LOVED IT

95. A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole

96. A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute

97. The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas

98. Hamlet - William Shakespeare (again, isn't this part of #14?)

99. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl

100. Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

I am embarrased to say there are some books here I have never heard of. It’s a UK list—but where is Mark Twain? Dick Francis? Jodi Picoult? J.D.Robb? Oxbow Incident? Red Badge of Courage? The Great Gatsby? All of the books Oprah reads?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

I don't knit for Christmas

Knitting for me is the Zen of my existence. It is the white noise that enables me to enter into the belly of the beast every morning. I actually had a conversation with my son about this today about my chances of getting murdered at work. Every day I don't increases the chances that I will. That's what I get paid a cartload of money for and have a cartload of insurance.

So last week, when I was THINKING about knitting some little holiday sweater ornaments for people in ple in the office I made one up, just to see how long it would take, since I have the yarn. (It was supposed to be for a little wrap sweater for Lisi, only Full Metal JACKASS found it every place I hid it and now there isn't enough for a sweater.)

It took 2 hours and 32 minutes to make a very cute cute very cute little miniature sweater ornament. Knitting at top speed, which IS NOT ZEN KNITTING. That, my friends, is BUSINESS KNITTING. Times the 13 people I need to gift by Wednesday, because you never know when someone will up and decide not to come in...32 hours of Zen knitting time I will never get back. So forget that silliness.

So I went to Target, got some little felt snowman stockings, stuck some candy bars in them for the gals, little bags of dilled nuts for the guys and there you go. $15 and 15 minutes.

Then there are family gifts. This year we agreed on no gifts because we gave the gifts ahead of time...and darn nice ones they were.

Here is the way I usually do Christmas

  1. Get yourself a list. I can't stress the planning enough. There must be a list. The list must be carefully considered. The list must be constructed weeks in advance when there is no pressure or panic. July is the perfect month. Plenty of money in July. Plenty of time in July.The list must not monkeyed with overmuch. My list contained SEVEN people in July. The list was sealed yesterday and contained TWENTY FOUR people.
  2. Do not fall prey to $99 items at Blockbuster, even if the guy at the counter says that these are the last two on the planet. No one needs them.
  3. At no time may anyone be allowed to make a trip to Rite Aide to get stocking stuffers. We don't need any more stuff. We have enough stuff
  4. I know what Marji likes. Get that. I know what Pat likes. Get that. Wrap it and be done with it.
  5. Ben got a house and new linens (and right now, I'd like some new linens myself.) That is enough.
  6. Lisi got car insurance for a year, AAA for a year, rabies shots, neutering, dental work AND a microchip for Jack, plus a sewing box with all the fixings. Very cute, if I do say so my own self.
  7. Be honest. Take a reality pill. Look at the list. Ask yourself what the odds are that you are suddenly, in a busy season full of many other responsibilities, find anything that Mike needs/wants/doesn't have
  8. The mitts and socks you made for your Pierce? THEY ARE FINE. That DAR bracelet? Fine-ola. Pack it already
  9. Ash and Mike WANT to go shopping. Money is fine. Get over it.
  10. You don't care what Judy thinks ANYWAY. A bag of fruit is better than fine. She has 400 boxes of stuff and she just moved. She doesn't need anymore stuff. If you are the sort of person who is going to be really, really , really hurt if your presents are not received at the Parrish household with the complete amount of enthusiasm with which they were purchased (none), you should probably forget them. Just go out to the car and rummage in the back and say you can't find them.


Thursday, December 11, 2008

Ugly Shoes

I have just spent way too much time trying to jump start the economy over at Zappo's. Where did they find so many ugly shoes?

Maye it's the multi-view thingy, where I can look at the shoe from every possible angle. Not a great idea, obviously, especially when it's already an ugly shoe.

Once upon a time, I had tons of shoes. Capezios. Cute, cute, very cute. In every color. i was the queen of cute shoes.

Now I wear little grandma black runners from Rite Aide. $2.99. When they look ratty I throw them out and buy new ones. Sometimes I'll spring for little flats from Target, if I can bear to brave the crowds at Target.

I think that in the olden days, when there were actual shoe stores, it was just easier. Park the car, look for shoes and only shoes and Bob's your uncle. Not now. Everything's in a huge box store with a Starbuck's. Takes all the fun out of it.

Might as well go to RiteAide.

Because they send all the ugly shoes to Zappos.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

You know what I love about knitting?

I could be forgiven for thinking not much these days, but really - this blogging thing can create a sense that I must knit ALL the time if I am to be other than a slacker, and I just haven't wanted to for a while. (I tend to post random photos and online quizzes--have you noticed?)

The thing about blogging my knitting is that I"M SO SLOW.

A narrative arc develops stitch by stitch by stitch - which is what makes knitting so intrinsically tactile and satisfying and wonderful. (There is only so much chatter I can write about a cuff or screwing up a count or fretting about an armsecye).

But as a subject for the Internet, I'm better off with modest progress pictures and a big reveal (See Finally! Knitting!)

Blogging is still ideal for the emotional narrative of what knitting means in a life - for whatever emotional narrative any passion means in a life. And a blog is perfect for the many passions-the color of the kitchen walls, what I'm going to use for counter tops, the hotel, my kayaking (at which I suck, but it's not an Olympic sport for me), a 4-7-12 year backstory and no known ending yet, but it's connected to things, other people, feelings and friendship and love and hope and disappointment and irony that are just too complex and personal for me to keep to myself.

And I'm not even sorry about that.

The blogs I have been reading are perfume blogs and sewing blogs and arts blogs and CANADIAN political blogs and food blogs. I started reading blogs after 9/11 - discovered them when I was looking for better news sources and then had this whole world opened to me.

But I do love knitting. Today it is damp and foggy and I am just back from the coast and I have no headache and I am wearing my own pair of self-made socks and the Dream in Color pullover (Visual Purple) I made last winter (I think that is the maximum acceptable handknit:body style ) and I am warm.

Last night I found myself making mental notes about what I would change the next time, which is the unmistakable intellectual stirring of a knitter exiting hibernation. (Except for car knitting and that doesn't really count).

The other thing I have been doing is reading until my eyes fall out. And I can't - nor do I want - to do both at once.I read a lot. I have books all over. Anywhere where I might possible be stuck with --gasp!-nothing to do. Car books. Waiting room books. Bathroom books. Hot tub books. Bedside books. Drop in my handbag books (I have to hide those since we aren't supposed to have them a work. Quelle horrors! Call out the Garda. Put me in chains.)

But the thing I LOVE about knitting - back to my original point - is that it is infinite. Never done if you don't want it to be. You can find a mistake, no matter how infinitesimal and rip it out., Or not.

It is as infinite as self knowledge, as infinite as learning itself. And it waits for you until you are ready to move on.

Knitting almost always leaves room for you to get it right someday . That's what I love

Bad headaches

I have these horrible migraines--I might have mentioned them.

A couple of my friends have them; several of the gals at work have them, too. We talk about them endlessly, only because a migraine pretty much takes over your entire world. You either have a headache, think you are going to get a headache, HAD a headache or are wondering when you are going to get a headache.

And we talk about what we take and what we do to tend to/avoid the pain. We all have a bag of rescue drugs in our handbags (it's all the same stuff) and if one of us gets something new, the rest of us will ask for some the next time we go in because you never know--it MIGHT work. I like those little silver meth suppositories that only work if you take them 20 minutes before you think you might be getting a headache.

SO my friend Marji has them, too. She takes Top (almost everyone I know does. It's supposed to calm something deep inside your brain. The dosage is a little iffy, though, and hard to get right). It makes my hands hurt but better my hands than my head.

She, unlike the rest of the migraineurs I know, never ends up in the ER with her fist in her eye, with her blood pressure at 295/190. She doesn't go to the clinic in San Francisco and get big needles jammed into her skull. She doesn't carry an ER script behind her driver's license for when she is out of town.

She isn't up on the kind of lunchtime chat we are either---did they push the drugs in your line or let them drip in the saline? Did you get Benydryl as an accelerant? Did they give you oxygen? That's supposed to help. With volatile migraines like ours, you need a support group.

So this morning, I get the email from Marji. She has her fist jammed in her eye and is on the way to the ER.

I know exactly how she feels.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Christmas in Yellowstone

Catching some sun today

Today was just a nice sunny day out on the water. I went out with my camera and met my husband down at the Embacadero for lunch. My actual plans were to paddle there and back, but we loaded my rig up and drove home. This is supposed to be fun.

So here are the little deer out in the estuary

Sea otters

Pelicans in flight (I only took about 900 , trying to get these) and the sky changed during the day but not as much as it looks...just depending on how close to the water they were. The really blue one was over by the golf course; the gray ones were over the channel. Of course, I had about 895 shots of birds dropping like rocks.

Sandpiper on the beach, (cool reflection, huh? that took forever, too). I thought I would either get stuck in the mud or flip over. I saw this shot in a calendar so when I saw the sandpipers in the wet sand, I knew I could catch the reflection if I was patient. I just didn't frame it too well. Too much blue.

Pelican with obvious hair issues (I usually see the gray and brown ones.) It's migration time and I've seen white ones AT WORK, so nothing surprises me anymore.

Bird I don't know down from the steps at the park where I walk the dogs

Egrets (doesn't this one look like ROCKY?) There is a huge rookery I can see from the water that looks like something from a horror movie....and it is only when I'm drifting a something like, oh....two feet AN HOUR I can get shots like these because there is nothing else to do. It's Zen Kayak Chloe, not a Paddle Crazy Kayak Chloe. That's why I'm going OUT with the tide.

Another egret on the bow of a bow, moored in the channel. I live out in an agricultural wetlands area. They are always standing around like a bunch of cold little old men.

Sandpiper over by the musuem. Not nearly as interesting as the one in the wet sand.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

So, what do you think about a PhD? I think


Talked to a recruiter from UCLA, looking to enlist me for a PhD program.
Two years.
The floundering state would "help" me--unlike the school districts, whose idea of helping teachers get their degrees or credentials, the state would actually post me to campus.
They would not, however think for me.

They evidently need somebody with a PhD in Correctional Education on staff and thought maybe I was smart enough (I am) and vain enough (I'm not) to go for this.

Oh, I listened for FOUR WHOLE HOURS.
I asked a lot of questions, because I really am vain enough but I'm not stupid. A PhD is a LOT OF WORK. And I only have a few more years of this---okay, maybe four. Or six. Or ten.

But I don't have enough time left IN MY LIFE to spend it driving back and forth to UCLA if Stevie Wonder was at the wheel and Ray Charles was riding shotgun.

So, no thanks.

My REAL reason?

This goof told me that my "work" here at the prison was noble and worthwhile.
Like I need his validation to know that.

Like I need anyone's validation.
Or a Ph fucking D.

Like that would make me more of who I am.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

The one where we have a photo shoot of our own


So what do college kids DO during a weekend home?
Hang out with their folks
Drink beer
Steal beer
Get into gang fights
Go to the zoo
Go to a game
Hang out with high school boyfriend
Go to the beach with friends
Hang out with new puppy (Awww. Cute)

Yarn-A-Go-Goes To New York

I am so happy for you, Rach!

Finally! Knittng!

I've only made this particular pattern a million times

It's on the blog here someplace. This one I made for Coach's baby Jamie's baby (Bob) Dylan. And I was so worried that it would be too little! I made most of it at work (over estimating my speed, as usual-it took almost two months). I used bamboo yarn in "vanilla frosting" and "cupcake" (an ivory and pale yellow). And man, is that bamboo stuff heavy when it gets wet! Blocks out nice, though.

When I'm working a a baby sweater, I have no real idea after a while what size it is, really. I take it to Target and hold it up to the newborn stuff and think "Well, it's a wee bit bigger than this" and I hold it up to the 3 month stuff and I think "I better knit faster" and when I gave it to Coach it looked huge until he was across the room and then it looked impossibly tiny. So until I saw Dylan in it, I had no real idea if it was even going to fit over his head.

So welcome, Dylan!

Judy is in the process of moving; you know how that is

The movers are crating her things in Provo.
She is between two houses (she's lived in Provo for, oh, 30 years.)
She's moving to Salt Lake while she waits for the big house in Park City to be finished.

Mom is in Salt Lake, where the boys are taking turns taking care of her until Judy is all moved in.
I've not talked to her, since she can't hear on the effing phones.

I can hear her in the background. She is in her element, ordering people around.
I'm not sure that the boys and their wives/girlfriends are much for listening to her.

Judy has called here to see if I know where she put this that or the other.

I only know where she put the stuff in the RV.
She's since unpacked the RV.
How would I know where it is now?

Sometimes I think I was sent home with the totally wrong family.

Marji Likes Cats. go figure