Monday February 21st 2022, 10:01 pm
Filed under: Non-Knitting

Enjoy the view of the mima mounds, they say… (Picture 3 especially. It’s kind of bizarre, particularly at upper right.)

What the heck was a mima mound?

So I looked them up.

Nobody quite knows. One guy thought they were caused by a combination of the particular layers of soil they have in that area and earthquakes. My first reaction was ancient burial sites (trash or bodies, take your pick.)

But the current consensus appears to be that they most likely are caused by, yes, the effects of those particular layers–and the fact that they induce burrowing critters to push up rather than down as they go. Not sure I quite get why, but okay. Seems Sisyphean to me; how would they ever surface?

In other words, that’s what your gophers could make your yard look like, given several hundred years’ worth of generations in the right kinds of soil.

Note how, despite what looks like a flattened-out one or two in front, they just built the fence and mowed the lawn in back to go up and down along with the waves. (After bulldozing a bunch more to build that neighborhood, no doubt.) So I guess they’re sturdy.

My only problem with the things is that that word instantly sets off The Lion Sleeps Tonight in my head. Especially if it rains. A mima-wet a mima-wet, a mima-wet a mima-wet, hush my darling…

The gift of the Magis
Wednesday February 02nd 2022, 10:23 pm
Filed under: Non-Knitting

My folks had an original Eames chair when I was growing up, and out of curiosity I looked them up.

Turns out you can still buy them from Herman Miller, although at least right now not our rocker version.

And then I saw this.

Every kid on the planet would want one of these. Every parent on the planet would be keeping an eye out for what they would spin out into. Every autistic kid really needs one. Heck, I want one (as if we could afford that price!) and I don’t even have any sense of balance and you know I’d totally go flying.

But it still looks like a ton of fun the moment people figure out just what the heck they’re supposed to DO with that weird thing.

And also like a pottery project where the artist got interrupted halfway and called to dinner.

Weather vane
Friday January 21st 2022, 9:46 pm
Filed under: Non-Knitting

I’ve gotten away from looking at houses pretty much by now; where we are is a good place to retire to. You want a medical specialist who’s seen unusual cases? Can’t do much better than Stanford.

But my cousins got me to look at this 1908 Victorian just because...

It’s lovely, even if a bit of a mishmash of remodeling years. One cousin describes the master bath as having an altar to the sacred tub.

The washer and dryer inside the master closet, though: Illinois doesn’t have enough humidity to make your clothes smell mildewy? It will there.

And then you get to picture #32.

There’s no warning in the description, nothing to tip you off.

It’s too big to go through any door or window in that room so I say it came through the roof and they just dealt with the wood right then and there ages ago, waste not, want not, and made it look on purpose and the ceiling and roof to match. For all I know the bedroom set was carved out of the bottom of the trunk.

Husband and daughter say it looks too nice so clearly they didn’t use power tools on it in the bedroom so surely it was installed on purpose after the fact.

But why? And how? And then how do you even get to the closet? Did they do it for a parrot? A cat? Can you imagine how much fun one’s pet could have jumping off that onto your face in the middle of the night? Meowabunga!

I have questions.

Not my area of expertise, but I’m curious
Thursday January 20th 2022, 9:49 pm
Filed under: Non-Knitting

So I have a question about quilting, after seeing this gorgeous work of art (a brighter picture of it is here.)How much can you trust the colorfastness of the fabrics over time? Does it depend on the brand at all? Do you have to keep it out of direct sunlight? Under glass while on display to cut out the UV?

How do you give such a thing the preservation effort it needs? Or does it?

Lockdown day four
Thursday March 19th 2020, 9:07 pm
Filed under: Non-Knitting

Passing on something that made me laugh in surprise.

Rarely am I up to date on movies but this one I’ve actually seen. (Okay, released in 2011. Close enough.)

Rapunzel was forced to shelter in place alone, and in Disney’s Tangled, got a husband out of it.

And the name of the nearby town?


Kudos to Kooba
Friday August 17th 2018, 11:27 pm
Filed under: Life,Non-Knitting

Back in January, I needed a black purse for my father-in-law’s funeral. I found one at Costco that, well, I wasn’t sure it would hold up well past a year but it was certainly not expensive given that it was leather and it was big enough for traveling. Good enough. I needed one immediately. I was glad to have it.

There was some fraying on the straps ten days later.

One simply came unglued at five months.

All the more incentive to get my Charlotte Ronson knitting bag rehabbed, and I did that, but meantime out of curiosity I looked up Kooba. One of my daughters had a Kooba bag that was a very nice leather, well designed, which was part of why I’d bought the one I did. Hers was similar to this one and it was made to last a long time.

Their website said they warrantied any bag bought at a full price outlet for one year.

So I sent them a question: did Costco count as a full price outlet? (I mean, I’d paid a tenth of the list on that other and I’d expected going in that I was only going to be getting what I’d paid for.) My guess was the answer was going to be no, and reasonably so.

The person who usually dealt with such customer inquiries was out on a medical emergency. Which I found out when the vice president of the company personally stepped in after a few weeks and asked if anything had been done yet?

Actually, no it hadn’t (but then I hadn’t been expecting anything.) He explained the delay, apologized, followed up with several emails–

–and today this showed up in the mail. (Picture taken after the paper stuffing came out.)

It is the same as the one I bought–except that the leather is better.

They really didn’t have to do that. But I’m very very happy they did.

Even if it doesn’t have Christmas lights in palm trees
Tuesday July 31st 2018, 9:54 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Non-Knitting

Ugly Christmas Sweater season is coming (but is still far enough away that prices haven’t risen yet) and my 20+ year old one was handed down several years ago to a teen who wanted to wear it in a play and then she found she loved it so I gave it to her. It was as formal a one as I’ve ever seen.

I happened to find this on swap.com, the screaming opposite of my previous one, and for $3 it was mine. It is both tacky (why are the tree and the wreath sunk down in their diamonds unlike all the centered motifs?) and bright and, well, pretty, in a way, and best of all it made me laugh. The beads are bright and big and glittery and a certain baby who will be nearing three months by then will want to try to reach for them all.

It was in near-perfect condition–just let me steam that one side that wants to curl under. There are even Christmas bells and holly on the back.

Swap.com’s mission is to keep good clothes away from the landfill. The commission paid is low enough that nobody’s going to steal from stores to sell there, as has been known to happen on Ebay; this is where you send good stuff out of your closet that you hope will find an appreciative home because it deserves it. Basically, it’s a national garage sale, hence the classic crewneck silk/cashmere sweater I got for $2.30 and the deep green cashmere tunic-length perfect sweater for $7. Which I’m actually more likely to wear holding the baby: they are definitely snuggle-worthy, and hand washing is easy.

Prices sag on things that stay too long. Sales happen. Shipping is always $5.99 or free.

Well, look at that: Ugly Christmas Sweater has its own search on Swap. Someone creatively listed a plain red crew as an “Ugly Christmas Sweater kit.” Go to town!

Trying to get through
Thursday July 05th 2018, 10:25 pm
Filed under: Non-Knitting

Apparently the blog still has some broken parts to it after the latest update. If this looks normal to anyone–assuming you can even see it–I’d love to know. Thanks.

Boots me
Sunday February 19th 2017, 12:00 am
Filed under: Family,Friends,Life,Non-Knitting

Okay, this is silly.

Wait–back up a bit. When I was home from college over Christmas break when I was 19 or 20, my dad surprised me by telling me he was going to take me shopping for a pair of boots for Christmas; he knew it would be my first pair ever. It was cold and snowy where I was going to school and he wanted my feet nice and warm. Besides, hey, boots!

Took me a moment to get over the shock. My dad. Wants to take a daughter. Shoe shopping. Brave man.

What I ended up with was inexpensive waterproof synthetic ones. One, because I knew the folks had three kids in college that year, and two, because trying to buy my feet anything was hopeless anyway, so once I found something, anything, that I could at all get my feet into I knew that was as good as I was going to get and the fact that these were waterproof seemed practical. Finding something that actually fit my 6.5EE and high arch was completely out of the question.

Back at school, I found my feet hurt pretty fast wearing those and I only wore them to get from my apartment to campus. And only a few times, with regret at not letting my dad push me to try harder. I should have skipped getting those altogether, which I’d known all along but I just couldn’t let him completely down.

Fast forward to when I had kids in elementary school. The PTA in our school district ran, at the time, a wardrobe exchange in order to pass clothes on to those less well off, while covering for their pride by presenting it as a way to offer warm clothes for those going to Tahoe who only needed to rent snow clothing those few days out of the year. Wash them, bring them back, done.

So anybody could rent outfits for their kids for a few bucks and anyone in the school district could buy them for about that who needed to. The funds went to cover the rented trailer they ran the operation from.

So I brought in some warm outgrowns for the cause one fine day.

Someone had donated these shearling-lined horsehair boots that look like a Westie terrier about to be told to get down off that chair. I thought they were hilarious and tried slipping one on, and then the other, and by golly I could actually get my feet in them! What a great Halloween costume! Besides, my oldest was getting to the age where it was my job to embarrass her, right?

The woman was incredulous. You LIKE those?! Nobody checks those out. They’ve just sat there forever. You want them? Take them!

Well, that wasn’t quite fair, so I went home and got those old tall rubbers and exchanged them pair-for-pair. They were happy, I was happy. The fact that I wear European 37 and these were stamped 39 40 on the bottom–US 8-9.5–three full sizes too big, no wonder I could get them on.

But those polyurethane ones from back in the day left a lasting impression: I don’t do boots. Period.

Although I sure wished I did when I was in DC January a year ago and it was five degrees out with a strong wind and we were trying to hike the C&O Canal in the cold (not for very long).

And then there was my younger daughter’s enthusiasm. “Boots! Cute Boots! You need cute boots!”

As if. Come on, they don’t exist now any more than they did then.

But we had that conversation every so often these past few years and I always wondered if that was actually so.

Recently, she needed some cheering up. And I knew how much she would love it if…it couldn’t hurt to look…

I went to a specialty shoe store that advertised wide widths. No dice. I searched Birkenstock’s online store. Their American importer? Nope.

And then I found a German Birkenstock store. They had a few pairs left of a now-discontinued style. I knew that ordering from Germany was going to cost me a whole lot in return charges if this didn’t work, I had no idea how they would handle it if I did, the cost was in no way cheap but I thought how much Michelle would love it. I thought about getting to tell my 90-year-old Dad that, hey, Dad! I did it! I finally got those boots you wanted for me all that time ago!

And so I took a deep breath and typed what I needed to type.

They came yesterday.

I put one foot in. I put the other foot in. Walked a few steps. And then just about shouted to the rooftops, THEY FIT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

They’re not high boots, they’re more like high top sneakers, but wearing something above the ankle is a whole new thing here as it is. The doctor who treated my broken bones in November wanted me to be wearing something like this instead of clogs, and there you go.

I keep laughing at the name of the boot: I have a Bartlett pair.

We heard a thunk this afternoon, and opening the door, I found a box: it said New Balance. The mailman hadn’t even driven his truck away before I read the label, laughed, and started walking next door. He saw me and was startled–Did I–?

No problem, I laughed, it just helps me keep in touch with the neighbors.

Jim opened at my knock and I handed him his box. “Those aren’t my shoes, mine came yesterday,” pointing at my feet, and he laughed.

I wonder if he was as excited about his as I was about mine. I mean, you just don’t want to miss out.

You pay for what you get?
Wednesday June 29th 2016, 7:04 pm
Filed under: Life,Non-Knitting

Someone explain to me….?

A 45-mph expressway, divided, two lanes each way. A large and expensive SUV pulled over to the side where there was a bike lane but no real shoulder and driver and passenger doors were wide open, the driver’s actually jutting into the lane of traffic. He couldn’t pull far enough off because there was a line of flowering dense shrubbery you often see planted around here on such roadways to stop out-of-control cars.

And behind the SUV was a woman in a long white wedding dress, her hair swept upwards and elaborately braided for just such an occasion. She looked gorgeous.

And she was creating a beautiful bouquet in her left hand from the pink flowers she was stealing from those bushes with her right. I watched her take one as my car approached, staying in the left lane to avoid his car door.

And they were oleander.

Every part of the oleander plant is very poisonous. Our house had one when we bought it and we had little kids and got rid of it for their safety.

If I were the groom I’d keep a sharp eye on that one. Except that that was probably him coming around the front of the car to join her.

Y’know, we could definitely play the game of “write endings to this story.”

Old stuff to tinker with. Complete with original case.
Tuesday June 21st 2016, 10:00 pm
Filed under: Life,Non-Knitting

It’s surprising sometimes what someone else really really wants when you really really don’t.

And then another person. And another. And another, who said it looked cute. But then the first two responders to my Freecycle.org post suddenly realized that the wife had beaten the husband to the request but hey, they assured me they could work this one out, truly.

Well then, there’s no wondering whether one spouse will be annoyed at the other for lugging such a thing home.

I made sure they knew it looked like it needed an orthodontist. They laughed.

So our Smith Corona Super-Silent manual really is going to a good home!

How a major corporation kills its business by trying to avoid costs
Tuesday February 02nd 2016, 11:24 pm
Filed under: Life,Non-Knitting

So there it is

.  Thank you Davies Appliance. We made lemon sponge cake to try it out: even and perfect. But they have to come back tomorrow to rewire the circuit breaker so that cleaning both ovens at once (not that we intend to do that) doesn’t cause problems. They also had to cut the lower cabinet drawer to fit it in and–it didn’t come cheap but they do it right.

The installer looked at the dishwasher a moment for us and said whoever had brought it had bashed in the top, which had sprung back, but it was why we’d never been able to pull out the third rack at the top. It wasn’t that we’d been doing anything wrong.

I knew exactly where the sales receipt for it should be (and the one for the oven now is). It wasn’t there. Well no real problem, I went online to my account–where Sears had no record whatsoever that we’d bought that dishwasher from them. Huh. I knew they didn’t do extended warranties, but making it so they don’t have to be hassled over the original manufacturer’s one either? That’s pretty…broken, however it happened. I tried their chat. Nope, no record. He recommended calling the store.

We only have two months left on that warranty. The guy at the store on the phone told me that for him to mail me a new copy meant its having to go through headquarters and there was no knowing how long it would take. He said that part again for emphasis–the implication being, they’ll string it out till your warranty’s over. It doesn’t matter to them.

There was nothing for it but to go there, twenty-one miles each way across Bay Area traffic, for a new copy of the receipt in person. Which he was glad to give me. They’ve got a good guy working there who does right by his customers.

It wasn’t till I got home that I found that nowhere on those two pages that printed out does it say the actual word SEARS. Wow. If I have to drive back down there again to get an amended copy, I do, but, hopefully this will do. But wow. I will never, ever buy a major appliance from them again. Which is a shame, because the people who work the floors that I’ve encountered have all been people whose jobs I want to support.

Glad I bought the oven from the local family-owned-since-1935 company.

(Afterthought: the sales person who said Sears charges $100 less if you order online rather than in the store? Can you just imagine if I’d done that?)

Thursday January 28th 2016, 11:39 pm
Filed under: History,Non-Knitting,Wildlife

1. Something serious: an article on how the whole Bundy standoff thing has been affecting the fish populations at Malheur Refuge.

2. Something not serious, except that it is in that it’s trying to address a common source of landfilling: a thanks to LynnH for pointing out a (fun!) reusable replacement for the ubiquitous to-go coffee cup. Design your own colorways.

3. Something really not serious: I guess the thoroughly-overripe, starting-to-rot grapes I’d tossed in that tall plastic garden waste bin outside the kitchen smelled really good because when I got up later to see what on earth that noise was, there was a squirrel straddling the edge of the screen door and squeezed in against the glass slider while holding tight to either side of the metal mesh as it carefully climbed, clinging and releasing step by unsure step. That screen was the only thing it could get its claws into to try to reach into that utopia that its nose just knew was right there waiting to be claimed. It owned this! (Never mind that the lid was shut. He’d figure that part out later.)

It took the little animal a panicked moment to figure out how to disengage and flee from it and me.

Actually, the Bundys and that squirrel have a lot in common.

How to get rid of zucchinis
Wednesday September 09th 2015, 10:25 pm
Filed under: Garden,Non-Knitting,Wildlife

Tuesday was, as usual, watering day, as we hope hard for an end to the drought soon.

Wednesday, with the plants nice and plump and me away at my lupus group meeting, turned into steal-the-zucchinis day. And not just that: the squirrels tore open the stems of several leaves to get at any fluids they could. It’s been three days above 100 degrees in a row and I guess they’re desperate but I won’t have a plant if they keep that up. They did miss one last zucchini, and I would have given it one more day but I knew they wouldn’t so it’s safely in the fridge now.

I wasn’t letting them walk near my caged tomatoes after that. Which meant chasing them away a few times rather than letting them test my setup.

Probably because I hadn’t used the squirt gun, one large gray running down the fencetop highway this evening got to the edge of the property, turned around, walked quite deliberately back to its favorite spot up there and yelled at me.

Wait. That’s a squirrel sound? That’s way too low pitched. Can squirrels get hoarse? Seriously, can they?

The door was open and Richard was home and he opined that it had been a bird he’d heard. Too low for a squirrel.

Well, the sound was with it looking at me and stopped when I chased it away a second time and started up again when it came back to that same claimed spot and tried to give me what-all once again for interfering with its meal. Squirrel. Curious.

Oh and on a completely different note? I found myself driving behind a Tesla X today: DeLorean-type Gull wing doors, seven-seater SUV, and it seemed to actually have headroom enough for tall people. (Yo! Elon Musk! We need 6’8″ and 6’9″ers to be able to fit into your cars.) I didn’t even know these existed yet! Total fantasyland for us but that is one cool car. We got one of the first Priuses but we’ll have to pass on early-adopter status on this one.

Okay, do the click-and-drag on those doors. Do you see what I see? Wallace and Gromit? I’m dog-earing that page.

(Update 9/30: Turns out the X was actually released yesterday. What I saw must have been a company-owned car in pre-release.)

Second generation
Friday August 07th 2015, 9:46 pm
Filed under: Family,Life,Non-Knitting

There were about a half dozen years in my life when my children were babies when I wasn’t into knitting.

I was into smocking.

This involves creating tiny pleats in cotton fabric and then embroidering over those pleats and sewing up the little outfits. This especially lends itself to cute baby dresses, and I made dozens and gave many away to other new parents to welcome their little ones.

At one point, my sister Carolyn and I were due at about the same time. I made our daughters matching dresses, even if, given how hard it is to travel across country with toddlers and babies, we would never see them together in them before they outgrew them. Given Second Dress Syndrome, I kept them simple and quick. (Those sleeves match when they’re not arguing with a camera.)

When my lupus started four years later I could no longer hold those tiny needles but I still needed a creative outlet. Something that stayed done in the happy chaos. And that is when I rediscovered my love of knitting.

But meantime, my kids had outgrown the various smocked outfits and I had set them aside for future grandchildren.

Then we remodeled. It was the seventh year we lived here, and the first six had all been drought years. That seventh was a doozy, though, and I started joking that if we ever had a drought again we just had to get the state legislature to fund remodeling our house again and that would end it–it just wouldn’t stop raining.

When our contractor thought he was pretty much done our roof had seventeen leaks, all of them new. It took every bucket we could find while we tried to get that taken care of. There was a leak in an overhead light fixture over here, and over there, water was pouring out a light switch. More from the new sky lights, others just randomly wherever. Fun times.

Meantime, those smocked clothes were in a box with a lot of other boxes that got shuffled around depending on where work was being done on the house just then.

And one day I discovered that roof juice had permeated that box and those clothes and despite all I could do with a washing machine, those stains did not come out. All that work, all those memories, all that generational anticipation! I couldn’t throw any of them away–they were beautiful, aside from the damage, I just couldn’t.

Yesterday I stumbled across this simple little bishop-style cousins dress. It somehow was not stored with the others, as if it were waiting to be discovered, a spokesman for the others. It took me this long to figure this out? Hello, lady, you’ve got grandchildren… I wondered if my niece, now the mother of three little ones herself, might still have or even know about her matching outfit. I hadn’t thought about them in a long time. I think the sense of pointless loss had made me avoid them.

I had to try.

I rubbed some Seventh Generation detergent into the spots, put a little more in the sink and sudsed it up at the tap (not too much! It’s a drought! Tell the legislature they’re not doing their jobs!) and put it in to soak.

For eight hours. I squished water through from time to time.

The water turned brown.

And look at that. No baby food stains either.

I actually missed one roof spot near the bottom, so I’m going to rub more in and do it over. But look at that! Twenty-one years and three grandchildren later and I can actually start passing these down now.

I’ve got me some work to do. At long last.

p.s. I don’t remember if I used the Ultra Power Plus or their older version; I have both. But they’ve earned the link they didn’t ask for so here it is.