Sunday, January 30, 2011


Saturday, January 29, 2011

Weekly Wrap Up

A good week ended on a good note! I went to see "Alone Together Again" by the Redlands Footlighters this evening. As usual, I had no idea what to expect, and was pleasantly surprised by a light and witty comedy about empty nesters whose parents come to "visit". Cheerful audience, pleasant temperture, beautiful set and fabulous acting made a perfect storm of entertainment. I even did a little knitting while the lights were up.

Time enough for a blog post and a little "Law & Order" before bed. Tomorrow, gardening!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Well Balanced

Another short post, I fear. Had a good day at work, an easy drive home, a nice warm bath and am now snuggling some cockatiels before my early bedtime. There is one on each shoulder at the moment (which is good for my posture). I work again tomorrow and wake up call is 5am or so. I also seem to have lost my phone / alarm clock. Rats.

The "keep calm and make tea" plan is still working well. I am more even tempered and productive at work and have been able to do just about everything that I said I would away from work. I finished a knitting project and started a new one, and also started a waitlist for wristwarmers (in exchange for tins of cat food).

The weather has been good this week but I haven't seen much of it; next week I should have some short days and will get out and wash the car and tidy up the garden and maybe even clean out part of the garage. We'll see.

Thursday, January 27, 2011


I finished knitting the second blue wristwarmer today. I just need to weave in the ends and they will be done.

Whew. Back to bed now.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Plugging Away

Making small but steady progress today....
  • worked on the blue wristwarmers. Only a cast - 0ff row left!
  • read a couple pages of _Barnaby Rudge_. Part of the difficulty is the edition of free book that I downloaded has funny characters instead of letters in places, so I spend half my time guessing the word and half the time trying to keep track of the story.
  • went to work and did my best
  • fed the pets
  • put a couple rows on the Twisted Alpaca Scarf
  • played a little bit of WoW tonight.
  • remembered to blog!

My to-do list for tomorrow starts with BUY CAT CHOW.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Short N Sweet

I tried to post from my Nook today, but it just didn't work out. Then I paged through some listings for free ebooks on the themes from the weekend (tea & Oscar Wilde), came to my senses and raced to make a blog post before bedtime.

I had to meet with my insurance agent to sign some forms and walked Dozer to the meeting location (and back) and am tuckered out now. I will have to remember to set the alarm before I pass out.

Another plain Jane day... work, knitting at lunch, coming home, going to bed. This month-end is quieter than usual which is both refreshing and worrying. Tomorrow is last day to sign so it should be good and busy. I am still getting overtime hours, just not many doubletime hours.

Monday, January 24, 2011


Not much to say today; a long day at work (but good) and I am wiped out. I will leave you with a picture of the moonset over my neighbor's house last week.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

A Dickens of a Day

Today was another fantastic day. Martha and I tackled some pancakes *and* some gardening in the morning. All things are better after pancakes and a brisk walk. The weeds were enjoying last week's fine weather and we had a good amount to pull up today. It is almost time to start thinking about spring garden design!

Afterward it was time to go back to the Dickens Festival. The first stop was to see my friends and make sure their hands were not idle! Iwas in time to hear Mr Wilde's lecture on "Art and Handicrafts" which was quite good. Taken from his lecture series in Phildelphia while he was on his American tour, he stressed to us the importance of beauty, good design and quality craftsmanship in everyday items.

I meandered around the fair a bit more, checked out the vendors and appreciated their wares (but none came home with me this year) and admired all the lovely gentlemen, ladies and fine Victorian dress.

I was late for Mr Dickens' talk, but just in time to speak with Ms Keller who presented the history of tea lecture yesterday. We had a lovely long chat about tea, England, the silk road, spinning and how rude it is for people to try and disturb Mr Dickens' lecture. No seating after it has begun!

Of course, I stayed for the tea lecture and it was another fine frolic. Things to remember: Isabella Beeton codified proper tea procedures in her book of household management; Anna Duchess of Bedford began the tradition of "afternoon tea" in home as habit for genteel ladies; the opium wars were about tea; the movement to ease the restrictive clothing of ladies began after a serving girl in a tea room had an "incident"; and it is a good idea to warm two pots when preparing tea - one to steep the tea and another to hold the finished tea without the leaves (pour from one to the other). What a simple idea!

The last item of the day was a production of Barnaby Rudge that was really not what I expected or very good. It was not helped by the hecklers in the first row. Naughty, naughty hecklers. They started to reenact a few scenes from the book when the authors of the show all made an appearance and shared some fine banter onstage.

(Far left, Poe. Center, Barnaby Rudge. To his right, Oscar Wilde and Charles Dickens)

Mr Poe gave a recitation of "The Raven" which thrilled us and Mr Wilde made a witty observation on the state of Mr Rudge's intellect. I also learned that Mr Dickens' first published work was "The Pickwick Papers". Now I know.

After that, all that was left was to run into an old knitting friend and trade email addresses and then help the No Idle Hands pack up for the night. A quick stop to the bank to deposit money and to the store for milk & cat food rounded out the night. Just enough time left for a blog post, a bath and an early bedtime. I forgot to lock up two of the cockatiels this afternoon (thank goodness I closed the door against the cats) and now Mustardseed is snuggling up against my ear, asking for head scratches. A perfect day in every way!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Sunshiny Day

Today has been just great and isn't over yet! Fine weather, fun friends, fabulous events, and a relaxed attitude are wonderful gifts.

I woke up early and paged through Anita Diamant's _The Red Tent_, and ended up re-reading the entire thing. This put me behind schedule for the morning, but I stuck to the plan and had a great day. I finished up the batch of lavender soap and started a batch of vanilla (that I need to finish up in a moment) and packed it up for delivery.

The next adventure (after quelling a panic attack over the budget) was to collect all my recycling and head over to the center. Half an hour later I had a kitchen and garage empty of cans, bottles and jars and $7 in cold hard cash. The creepy guy didn't even hit on me this time! I call that a win.

Next on the list was (finally) getting my buns down to the Dickens Festival. I found out the hard way that it had been moved to the local Convention Center and was no longer a downtown street fair. Frustration and the urge to give up were quelled and I found it at last. I located my friends, said hi, found some other friends, and then explored the Dickensian offerings. The vendor room was limited yet filled with high quality vendors (I do love the pottery guy with all my heart) and it was fun to poke around in a leisurely fashion. We found lots of ideas for Steampunk outfits. We atteneded the lecture on The History of Tea that I have been anticipating all week. It was wonderful! I could have listened to the speaker for hours. Tomorrow I will have to go again and listen for more details. I learned that the Opium Wars were over ... tea! Then I visited some more with my spinning and knitting friends (who were demonstrating as part of the fair) and put in a few rows on the second blue wristlet. It was cooed over.

Home now for some dinner and a change of clothes and then off to see a play tonight. My friend Anne is in it and had an extra comp ticket for tonight only. I had been longing to see some theater and taa-daa! she came to my rescue.

I will report back tomorrow. Stay sunny, my friends!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Peaks and Valleys

I am not the type who is built to run on an even keel. It is nice for short periods but I naturally default into "peaks and valleys" mode. Things the last few weeks have been great and I have felt comfortable and generous. It is time to pay the piper now though (literally) and the rest of the down payment on the car is due. The next month is going to be very interesting! Time to cut back on expenses and cash in the recycling. Of course I feel like I am plunging into the depths of despair. But I won't die of course. The rent is paid, the car is paid, the lights are on, life continues. This is a good lesson in both keeping some perspective and on watching the budget even when times are good. Silly human.

I knit on the blue wristlet for a bit today and tackled a few more pages of Barnaby Rudge (still, very little has happened). I made a batch of soap and snuggled the parrot and am making my daily blog post. I was all set to play some WoW, but a little wound up over the budget, so I think I will work on my knitting some more to vent the stress.

In the morning it will be time to collect the recycling to turn in for cash and collect the knitting to hang with my friends at the Dickens Festival!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Peaceful Thursday

Not much to report today. Still practicing patience, calm and keeping a sunny attitude at work and it seems to be paying off. In addition to enjoying my work and co-workers more, I noticed that tody was the first day in a long time that I didn't feel a black shadow of doubt, pressure and expectation hovering behind me. "OhmigodIamgoingtobelate" has become, 'No you won't, you are leaving in plenty of time, enjoy the trip" and so on. I like it!

No reading today, but put two or three rows on the wristlets. It was such a lovely, balmy afternoon that I just drove on the freeway with the windows down during my lunch hour.

Some chores and some WoW this evening and an early bedtime. Our month-end at work is starting up and that means lots of long days for the next week. Tee Hee there is a cat lying on my foot; perhaps I will have to stay rooted to the spot for a bit longer.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Speed Knitting

An action shot of the second blue - with - a - cable wristlet... if posing on a stuffed sloth can be called "action". You can see how vibrant, attractive and engaging our cubes are at work. My computer is right under the sloth's bum. Three cables down and 5 to go and then I will have warm and snug wrists at work. I still love the yarn, the color and the pattern, so I guess I should just enjoy the knitting while it lasts. I am eyeing this yarn in another colorway to make a sister sock / wristlet set.

Reading in _Barnaby Rudge_ continues. It makes _PNP_ look like a real page turner in comparison. So far some people have talked about talking, a man looked suspicious and then rode away, and someone else is bleeding. Whee.

It was another beautiful day in the mid 60s F; sunny and calm. I need to pack my sneakers so that I can resume walking at lunchtime. When I left work at 6:30 I could feel the water in the air and there was a lovely bright full moon to watch over my commute.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Totally Taffy

I finished these socks a while ago and was saving them for a slow blog day. They are made of some Patons yarn (with elastic) that I bought right when I started working at my new job (about a year ago). After a few weeks, I discovered I work only three miles from Velona in Orange County. I don't go by there very often, partially because I forget and partially because I have plenty of yarn, but I bought 2 little skeins of this pretty variegated brown. According to their website, it looks like the Taffy colorway. It was a little wierd working with elasticized yarn, but the finished socks are nice and springy. I also like the short color changes. Some day I may actually wear them! They were good commuter and lunchtime knitting.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Moody Monday

A weird day today; unproductive in some ways and productive in others.
  • I didn't go to the beach, but I did catch up on my sleep debt.
  • I didn't overhaul the garden, but I did finish _Pride & Prejudice_ at long last.
  • I didn't cook any fancy food, but I did eat at home and not "out".
  • I didn't get bird cages cleaned, but I did snuggle some cockatiels and the pionus.
  • I didn't go to see "The King's Speech", but I did put a couple of levels on one of my WoW characters.
  • I didn't go to knitting night, but I did put a few more rows on the 2nd blue wristlet.

My level of energy to go out and do "stuff" was tempered by a dandy of a headache that started in the middle of the night and still hasn't really gone away. I left my Excedrin at work and my Advil is missing... I had to resort to coffee and Vicodin and am feeling a little better. Less nauseous anyway.

The next book in the queue is now _Barnaby Rudge_ by Charles Dickens. It is the theme book for the Dickens Festival this weekend. I doubt I can finish it by then, but it will be fun to explore.

Back to work in the morning!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Daydream Deferred

Well, I didn' t make it to the beach and didn't do any knitting. But tomorrow is coming up fast and is full of possibility!

I did make it to gardening and that was a good time, as always. Wandered by the grocery stores for some snack food and watched a little TV ("The Legend of the Guardians" and "The Royal Tenenbaums") and petted the kitties. One of the baby cockatiels went from crabby and bitey to snuggly and nibbling my ear within an hour.

Martha strongly (!) recommended "The King's Speech", so that is on my to-watch list. Also coming up is the Dickens Festival; it looks like a really strong programme this year. Some sad news on that theme - the creator of the "renaissance faire", Ron Patterson, passed away on January 14th. It is pretty incredible that such a little idea took off in such a big way.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

I Said Balmy, not Barmy

Today after work I cast off the first of the blue-with-a-cable wristlets. It matches the socks I finished last week. I like it just fine! It is snug and warm and beautiful. Casting on for #2 commences tomorrow. I have a plan to go to Pt Loma after gardening in the morning if the weather is still fine. The idea of sitting, knitting and watching the ocean is the most appealing thing I can think of right now (inspired by the irrepressible Anne)It was a lovely day here today - the car says it was 84 F at 11:30 this morning. A little breezy, but not too breezy & skies of blue with a few puffy clouds. I enjoyed the drive home with all the windows down. After a little puttering at home I still had the urge to commune with nature, so I popped back into the car and just drove... around. Stopped at the local dive bar for a couple beers and a burger on the way home and it was pretty relaxing. Dinner out of the refridgerator would have been cheaper, but has less ambience.

*YAWN* ooh the lack of sleeping last night and the lateness of the hour are conspriring against me. Spending a little quality time with the birdlings and updating the blog is about all I have energy for!


Well, I think I was a little too relaxed, since I missed the mark for posting on Friday. But I am still up (kindof) and hoping not to miss the 4:30 wake up call in the morning.

Today was much more calm thanks to the new "omigod just freaking relax already" policy. I find myself scrunched up and freaked out every 30 seconds or so. Breathe, stretch, relax. Repeat.

Knit a bit at lunch and made some progress in the dreaded _Pride & Prejudice_.

Thursday, January 13, 2011


I have felt this creeping up for a while, but couldn't figure out how to counteract it. Yesterday things came to a head and this morning I got to have a little "sit down" with my manager. Yes, snarky, snippy me is appearing more and more, upsetting my work group. A little hard to hear, but good to get feedback and advice and a push back in the right direction while it is a little problem.

She is right - I have a nice life. I have a great job with people I enjoy being around, I have a home and a car and family and pets. I have friends, interests, money and my health. I have talents and wit and cheer. So why do I sit at my desk and stress out? Not every thing has to be micromanaged (and certainly not by me) every minute of every day. When I started there I was the calm, relaxed, confident and easygoing me that I discovered while I was out of work for over a year. Now, somehow, being at work has made me more neurotic, more possessive and less trusting. I need to let go again.

I like that happy person that I found inside me. I liked the quiet confidence and the knowledge that my manner was charming in its own way. I am going to regain the path of mindfulness, of thankfulness, of seeing the big picture and working for the greater good. The phrase "but... what if ???" is going to be banished from my thoughts and vocabulary.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Harumph Day

I was all set to make a post about how glad I was that it is Wednesday ("hump day") when I remembered that my schedule at work changed and now I work Tuesday to Saturday... making today not-hump day. Sigh. The day went great until the last hour when every flipping file when wrong all at the same time, and at the same time as I was deluged with orders. It was crazy-pants. There may have been tears.

But I am home now, full of tacos and iced tea, communing with the beasties and having a little computer time before bed. I did work on the wristlets today - only 2 more cables on #1 to go! I also started plowing away at _Pride & Prejudice_ again at lunch. Elizabeth has finally met the Lady Catherine and she is a bossy, bossy lady.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Double Trouble

Skye the Parakeet has a cagemate again, after the unfortunate demise of Echo over Thanksgiving. She always tried to beat him up, but after a couple months alone she seems happy to have a new friend to snuggle with. There is a life lesson in there somewhere, I'm sure. Skye is a dominant pied whiteface with a light factor. Wavey is a baby yellowface with a dark factor blue (you can see how far apart the blues are above). The names Skye & Wavey come from the book _The Shipping News_ where the author points out that like girls are named Skye in regions of prairie, they can be named Wavey along the coast.

She is trying to convince him to be shy of people, but I am hoping for the opposite outcome; keeping him hand tame will encourage her to come out and play more often. Yesterday night, after two days with the cage door open, she came out and flew around for a while.

Another good day today. Put in some laundry, heated turkey loaf and made salad for dinner, knit on the wristlet at lunch and now it is time for some bird snuggling and blog posting.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Book Review - _20,000 Leagues Under the Sea_

Summary: This book is about a guy with a boat. It can go underwater. His name is Captain Nemo. My favorite part was when they all nearly died under the iceberg because then it would be over sooner. But they lived. If I had a boat, I would do what they all did. But not go under the South Pole because you could get stuck.

This was a fun little read that I actually enjoyed quite a lot. Verne's style (or maybe the narrator's style?) is alternately annoying! really annoying! with far too many exclamation points! and boring, with long lists of mind numbing detail, but the actual story was interesting. There is drama within the characters, among the characters and between the characters and the environment. Ned Land = "need land" & Conseil = "consomme" becuase I wanted to make him into a clear soup by the end!

I longed to have picture book of sea life by my side while I was reading, or maybe little pop up fish icons whenever I came to the long lists of the various sea creatures they encounter. Why the author was so dead set on classifying every. single. fish. in its scientific denotation is a mystery to me. Also mysterious: where was the spinning / weaving mill that made all the sea-fiber clothing? Why didn't Ned and the boys slaughter the crew and claim the Nautilus for their own when they were vulnerable after the South Pole debacle? Why did he make such a big point about the mysterious language and origins of Captain Nemo and then drop it partway through, unresolved? Why is the ending so lame?

Next up on the reading list is _Bertie Wooster and the Lizard King_ and then I think _Around the World in 80 Days_. Pretty much anything to avoid _Pride & Prejudice_.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Sunday Sensibilities

What do I do on Sundays? I think it is the day with the best routine. M-F I just get up, go to work, work, and come home. Saturdays are erratic; sometimes there are activities, sometimes I need to work and sometimes I have a free day to relax. But Sundays are a throwback to the days of being unemployed - the whole day stretching out, full of possibility.

First up is gardening with Martha. Now that it is winter, we have been focusing on pruning back the bushes & roses and thinning the trees. After the rains there were quite a lot of little weeds that sprouted in the garden; I think we have conquered the worst of those now. The oranges came in and were eaten and my homework this week is to find a recipe for lemon curd, as the lemon tree is laden with yummy yellow fruit.

Next stop is usually some lunch / breakfast, a stop at a pet store for supplies & browsing, or a trip to the grocery store. Today it was a visit to Bracken Bird Farm for seed and toys. It was looking a little empty in there and they have quite a lot of things marked down (food, toys, birds) or on sale. I recommend all the bird owners swing by and do their part! The quality of bird, food and service is far superior to Magnolia Bird Farm (although the selection is smaller). Grahamie was a purchase there, and Kiwi and BillyBird were owner turn ins.

Then it was back home for coffee, some cleaning and some computer time. Sunday is a good day for baking / cooking at Chez Picky. This afternoon I am planning on some World of Warcraft, some more chores and a little light reading. No work tomorrow, but I suppose I should still plan on an early evening. I am chilling out with the birds right now - they are torn between enjoying out-of-cage time and taking a nice afternoon nap. At least one is napping outside his cage; the best of both worlds.

And that concludes the Sunday recap!

Saturday, January 08, 2011


A gray day outside and a gray day in my heart. I lost my sweet Cinnamon Graham Cracker today.
Smart, funny, chatty, soft and a real hit with the ladies (bird ladies, that is), Graham was everything you could want in a man - errr, pet. Luckily he will live on in his son (Hamlet) and the grand-birds (Mustardseed, Peaseblossom, #3 & #4).
I brought in some pretty paperwhite narcissus and blooming rosemary from the garden and they make a very fine bouquet. They smell like ant spray... or maybe ant spray is narcissus scented? But they are very pretty and are a welcome midwinter addition to the garden.
Extra snuggles going out to all the birdies tonight.

Friday, January 07, 2011


All the staff at Trader Joe's recognized me today and said hello. I think that is a good thing. I certainly spend enough time there! No beer purchase tonight, but I have a date after work tomorrow with a stick of cranberry chevre and some wheat crackers.

Worked on the blue wristlettes at lunch again. It feels good to knit again. I am struck equally with the urge to finish all my projects that are in progress and to cast on for all the things on my wish list. I am pretty happy as a process knitter, but my head is still cold.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Hot Wheels

I signed what I think are the last of the loan documents on the new car today. For someone who doesn't even like buying pants, this has been a very stressful process. Lesson learned: if you are going to be an American, it does not pay to have no credit card balances. So now I have debt again.

I will admit that it is pretty nice to drive around and not worry about asphyxiating the people behind me because the exhaust system in the car is shot, or to worry about expired registration, or to drive only in the far right lane because the car could stall at any moment.

In other news, I knit on the blue-with-a - cable wristwarmers at lunch and am going to play some WoW for the first time in recent memory. Last night I got distracted watching season 4 of "The Guild" and never even logged on. I hope my friends remember me!

Wednesday, January 05, 2011


Picture day!! The blue - with -a - cable socks are finally done and in the sock rotation. I am pleased to report that they make for a very thin-walled sock that was comfortable to wear in my strappy office shoes. The yarn is Schoppel Wolle in Stonewashed , purchased last year at Knit N Stitch. Construction is toe up with a short row heel and a centered panel of Staghorn Cable 1 from my perpetual knitting calendar (it is May 18).

I may never take them off.

Monday, January 03, 2011

The Guild - Do You Wanna Date My Avatar

I can die a happy woman. A very, very happy woman. If you need me, I'll be in my bunk.

New Socks and More

Today at lunch I finished the blue - with - a - cable socks (no picture, of course). I am diving straight into the matching blue - with -a - cable wristlets, although I managed to twist the cast on row and had to rip them back. I hope for better progress tomorrow. Two socks used only 2/3 of the yarn, so I should have some very respectable wristlets out of the last 30 gr. I wandered through a drawer of half forgotten remainder sock yarn balls and have the urge to mend the socks and then make more wristlets to match.

There was some lovely rain yesterday and today - thankfully it started well after gardening morning was over. It was nice to knit and watch cooking shows at Ruth's and listen to it pour down outside, though! We have had quite a wet fall and now winter, but I am still charmed by the smell, the sound, the feel of the rain coming down. I also appreciate how it waters the lettuces in the garden. I have been trying to eat a little more responsibly this last couple of weeks; more salad, more healthy snacks, less fast food and more home cooked food. This week's big project is stuffed peppers. I am also cutting out pork and beef & focusing more on poultry, fish and vegetarian alternatives. Watching those cooking shows was entertaining and inspiring!

I am back to reading _20,000 Leagues Under the Sea_ by Jules Verne (tr. by F P Walter) and it is still intriguing. Yesterday we watched a documentary on colossal squid (bigger than the giant ones) and Saturday I saw the Redlands Bowl production of "The Little Mermaid" ballet - so it has been a very aquatic week here. I am still bothered by the fact that the characters is 2oK LUtS wear clothes spun and woven from the filaments of undersea creatures, but there does not seem to be a spinning / weaving mill anywhere on board. Martha said to suspend my disbelief, but it is difficult!

Time to sign off - a cat is using my nylon-clad leg as a scratch post and that is just not as much fun as you would think.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Knitting 2010, part 1

Some knitting did actually occur last year. Or was it the year before? Back in 2008, I acquired some lovely sugar cane yarn from Knit N Stitch. I picked the blue / grey colorway as it looks quite a lot like my parakeet, Skye. The yarn is silky and smooth, but with no elasticity. I knit and I knit and I knit, then some kittens happened and they ate my needles. So the socks languished for, well, let's just say "a while" before I found the emery board and filed down the needles (#0 bamboo). Some time during last year I got motivated - or my feet got cold - and now I have a finished pair of ankle socks. The cuffs are supposed to be short so I can fold them over and be adorable. Of course I forgot to do that during the photo session.
I used up every inch of the yarn; I knit them from opposite ends of the ball and there were moments of extreme entanglement, for sure! But they met in the middle when it came time to cast off and I think they are very respectable socklettes.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Day 1

I'm starting the new year off right - some sock knitting and a blog post! The idea is to keep it up. I worked on the blue - with - a - cable sock #2 this afternoon and it is getting pretty close to done. I will have plenty of yarn left over, so I will make matching wristlets in the same pattern. I have been freezing pretty much the entire day today, so the more knitted articles, the better. The yarn is too fine for a hat but matching socks and wristlets is a stroke of pure genius.

No reading this weekend (I overdid it over Christmas), but I put a few levels on WoW characters and enjoyed some pleasant diversions.

Tomorrow? Gardening with Martha and then craft day with Ruth. I just hope the weather is not courtesy of Noah. A little Biblical humor, there. A very little.