Friday, August 31, 2007

Hope Chest

When my grandmother passed away more than twenty years ago, my mother inherited her hope chest. I had always been told that grandma's father made it for her, and I believed that for a long time. But the evidence on the inside top of the lid is that it was purchased from a cedar chest company in Iowa. I suppose that actually my great grandfather bought it for his oldest daughter.

About fifteen years ago, the hope chest came into my possession. There are only a few items that I truly treasure and this is one of them. I remember where the cedar chest lived in my grandma's house and I remember looking at it often. I never expected to own it because I wasn't the oldest granddaughter, merely the third of five. So it is a joy for me to have it.

The cedar hope chest is very old. It was showing the wear of its age, so in the spring I found a woodworker who agreed to strip the old varnish off. Two weeks ago, I sanded it down and refinished it and it lives again in my bedroom at the foot of my bed.

This week I replaced the treasures that belong in it. They had been packed in two large boxes during our move.
One of the treasures I keep in there is a small chest that belonged to my grandma. In it I store some of my memories of her.

Her name was Emma Louise. I have the same middle name.
Emma collected hankies. I bought her one once in Taiwan and brought it home to her.

Emma loved to garden. The gardening gene skipped my mother and came to me. I can still see my grandma in my memories kneeling in her garden pulling weeds wearing this sunbonnet.

My grandma was a true Christian. She told me she prayed for me every day.

Among her treasures is her porcelain doll.

I was very close to my grandma, and I loved her so much. My brother and I spent many mornings and afternoons at her house, eating breakfast, playing in the yard, reading, doing homework, because in those days of Ozzie and Harriet, my mom was one of the unusual ones who worked. She was a bank teller and then an auditor. I'm sure she would much rather have stayed home, but because of my father's WWII injuries, we never knew when he'd be back in the hospital. And she had grandma to watch us. In many ways, we were the lucky ones. The last year of high school, I lived with her while I finished my senior year in high school after my parents moved to California.
I am happy to have these memories of my grandma, all wrapped up in such a beautiful piece of furniture.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Night Swim

I have come home from school every day this week with a nasty headache. I'm sure it's caused by a combination of stress of a new position, the heat--we're having a warm spell--, and lack of sleep and exercise. So this evening, we decided to go to the pool. Our homeowners association has a pool and hot tub. We walked down and just as I got in to swim, the cell phone rang. It was Chaplain Dan; he talked with The Professor for a while.

I swam for a half hour. It was wonderful. When I swam on my back, my head was partly immersed and I couldn't hear anything but the swishing of the water that my hands and feet made, I was facing up and the night sky was above me, the stars shining in the black sky. It was just me, the water and the sky.

I'm hoping the exercise will help me sleep deeply and I will have the energy I need for school tomorrow. The first two weeks of any school year are always the hardest.

Chaplain Dan and The Princess will be here tomorrow evening! We are looking forward to their three day visit.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Joaquin Hoodie

Raccoon wanted to model the Joaquin hoodie when he saw that I had finished it. So I told him he could if he wiped his feet really well and didn't get the new sofa dirty.
So he cleaned his paws and climbed up on the sofa.

Such a dignified, photogenic guy.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Sunday Scramble

This is the last summer vacation weekend The Professor and I have. We have been doing lots of last minute projects.

He is going through a box of papers and notebooks he brought from his old office.

I have edited and printed several pages for the knitting guild resubmission, including the design book reviews I wrote while I was kitty sitting in Redondo Beach.

Because Chaplain Dan and The Princess are coming next weekend from Phoenix to attend a wedding, they will be staying with us. I've been putting things away in the guest room to ready it for them.

Now that the furniture is here, I am looking around at the walls, holding up pictures and frames and muttering, "Yes, a little lower," and "Maybe the other picture would look better on this wall."

I blocked the "Joaquin Hoodie" and it is drying next to the entrelac swatch. Yes! I finally am satisfied with the swatch and decided, enough! Just block it!

On the to do list is "sweep the front porch". Earlier this afternoon, the wind kicked up and many jasmine leaves came floating down with the gusts. I had to retrieve the tablecloth I'd left on the small table.

In a few minutes we will be leaving to attend a church information class for prospective members, which is what we are since we are new area residents.

My neighbor brought us a plate of peanut butter chocolate chip cookies! Mmmmm. They are really good, so good that even though I don't care for peanut butter cookies, I like these.

We've been taking little breaks and sitting in our new furniture, just to try them out. The Professor seems to prefer the sofa,

while I have been gravitating to the chair and ottoman.

Come visit and test them yourselves and decide which is your favorite.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

A Little Peek

Thank you all who have inquired about my thumb. It's much better, almost healed. It's amazing how quickly a thumb will heal when the sliver of glass has been removed from it.
We have been busy here at Willow's Cottage with repairs and chores. This sweet family came yesterday to help with laying tile on the front steps. While they were here we celebrated son #2's birthday with homemade brownies. Sorry, no photos. They're all gone. Son #1 grew six inches this summer. I hardly recognized him. I snapped this picture when we were on our way to the swimming pool.

This afternoon after a quick shopping trip for Trader Joe's necessities and buttons for the Joaquin Baby Sweater, I stopped for a cup of tea. I must be having a nostalgic day. I never choose this cup. It is the last piece of my mother's first set of china. Usually Mama Mia drinks her tea in it when she visits. But I am pleased with the old fashioned design today and of course the cup is filled with Twining's Earl Grey tea.

And here is a sneak peek. Our living room furniture was delivered today. We received a call Thursday to tell us it had arrived from the factory ahead of schedule. Just a little peek here of the colors. We are still arranging and rearranging.

Other friends came last Sunday and took away the last two bookcases. Still to sell to grateful owners--one electric lawn mower and one white electric refrigerator.
It is good that we are fairly nicely settled in as The Professor has already been attending faculty meetings and has his first class Monday night and my first staff meeting is scheduled for Tuesday morning.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Quick Knit

I am going to a baby shower this afternoon.

I received the invitation on Friday, visited the knit shop on Saturday and started knitting a six month size sweater on the way home in the car. Fortunately for all concerned, The Professor was driving.

On Sunday I knitted away and finished most of the body of the sweater. Then I punctured my left thumb on a shard of glass. It really hurt and bled a lot, so I didn't knit at all on Monday. Yesterday I started up again with the knitting and finished the left sleeve last night at the knitting group. But this morning I woke up to a very unhappy, throbbing, swollen thumb. I don't think the knitting caused the infection, I think it was the sanding and finishing work I did on a piece of furniture yesterday afternoon.

This morning I knitted the second sleeve, doing my best to negotiate around the thumb, and oh no! I'm short on yarn! I would have noticed this on Monday, I'm sure, if I had not put off working on the sweater until my thumb was better. I don't have time now to drive up to the knit shop and get the yarn, finish knitting the hood and bands and sew on the buttons.

So, what to do? I'm going to wrap up the unfinished sweater and present it with a note saying, "Gotta have it back to finish it, cuz I ran out of yarn!"

Knitting Pure & Simple

Babies Neckdown Cardigan

Encore by Plymouth Yarn

Worsted Weight, 75% acrylic 25% wool (washable, dryable), 200 yards.

2 skeins Main Color (ahem)

1 skein Contrasting Color

Knittted on Size 8 (US) needles, one pair straight or circular, and Size 8 set dpn

and Size 6 (US) dpn for the bands and ribbing

Monday, August 20, 2007

A Little Harvest

I harvested my coriander seeds. This is the total amount I got from the seeds I planted in a pot last spring. And here is the tale. I planted several seeds in a terracotta pot in March and placed it in a somewhat shady spot on the side of the Baby House by the Freeway. I knew it wasn't the best placement but the neighbors have a dog and I didn't want to have the pot knocked over. So behind the fence it went. Unfortunately nothing sprouted. I assumed that the seeds, which admittedly were several years old, having been brought with us from Oregon, were not good any longer. So I threw some zinnia seeds in the pot. They too were transported from Oregon and I wasn't sure they were viable either. But what did I have to lose except a little water? In May, I noticed the zinnia were up and then, wah la! There were cilantro seedlings! I pulled the pot around to the front of the house so I could more easily water it and watched my duo planting grow. Then one fateful day as I returned from school, I noticed potting soil on the ground in front of the house. And zinnia and cilantro plants strewn everywhere. Upon closer inspection, I discovered that the neighbor dog had dug up the pot. I had not been aware that dog bones could be planted in pots and be expected to grow and reproduce, but evidently Sadie had read in the Doggie Times that it was possible. I pulled her bone out and presented it to her owner saying, "I think Sadie lost this in my zinnia pot." Anyway, I figured the plants were done for, but I scooped up the potting soil from the cement and put it back in the pot and tried to cover up the roots as best I could. The result of all my efforts: two spindly zinnias and one tablespoon of coriander.

The basil fared better. I kept the seedlings in my window box. I knew we were moving by then and I eventually planted eight little plants here at the new house. They have produced better than the coriander. I make pesto out of as much of the basil as I can, then I freeze it in ice cube trays. Three cups of fresh basil = nine cubes. My precise recipe is to throw a couple of garlic cloves in with the basil in a blender, slug a bit of olive oil in and salt to taste. I alternate basil, garlic, and oil and just let 'er rip.

I have tomato sauce simmering on the stove this morning. I sauteed garlic, onion, fresh parsley and basil from my garden, dried oregano and thyme, then cut up about four lbs of fresh tomatoes and put them in the pot. I hate wasting any of the pesto, so I rinsed the blender with a little water and tossed it (the pesto water, not the blender) in the sauce for extra flavor.

Not much of a harvest here at Willow's Cottage, but for the first season, I'm pleased I have anything.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Saturday Catch up with Knitting Photos

I blocked three of my finished swatches. As you can see by the label this swatch #3 shows my ability to make a slip, slip, purl decrease. I actually did the decrease on the purl side (duh). And because I am a left handed knitter, I had to work the swatch AS IF I WERE KNITTING RIGHT HANDED. These are the rules of the TKGA committee. So, I think I did this correctly. I reversed the decreases and all reversed the left/right position of them. The directions call for the knitter to work the decreases after the 10th stitch. I had to calculate the decrease to be the eleventh stitch from the end of the row so there are ten switches after it. If you are a right handed knitter, please look at the photo closely and tell me if you think it LOOKS correct. Remember that the decrease was done on the wrong side of the work.

In swatch #4, I had to make a purl 2 together through the back loop. Again my swatch in the first submission wasn't accepted because it didn't LOOK like a right handed purl 2tog tbl. So I'm hoping that this swatch does. What do you think?

In this swatch #5, I had a pattern to follow that used various yarn overs. These had to be worked to LOOK like right handed knitting.

Here is a lovely specimen. My sister in law, Seedlady, brought these two tomatoes over this evening. We ate the smaller one and she took the larger one home again. They were photographed on a 9" plastic plate. Seedlady wanted to know how much they weighed, so I jumped on our bathroom scales and weighed in, got off and then hopped on again with the tomatoes in my hand and reweighed. The two tomatoes were 3 1/2 lbs!

Yesterday I went to the Gerry Ranch and picked six quarts of fresh blueberries. They are already in the freezer, waiting to be pulled out this winter for pies, crisps and smoothies. We went back this evening and each of us picked two more quarts. They are sweet and yummy and so good for us! How fortunate I am that my dear long time friends own a blueberry ranch five miles from my house and that they are so generous with their cash crop!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Things Accomplished

This week has been one of accomplishing tasks related to settling in to our new home and establishing ourselves as respected members of the community.

I accepted a position as a Title I teacher (part time) in a local elementary school. Three hours each morning. It gives me income, keeps me involved in one of my passions-teaching reading, and still gives me enough time to pursue some of my other passions like knitting, spinning, hiking, and beach walking.

John has also accepted a teaching position, also part time. He will, however, be working with the other end of the learning curve--university level-- at California State University Channel Islands. Therefore, I will henceforth refer to him as The Professor.

Tuesday evening I attempted to assimilate more into the knitting community by attending the knitting group. Only one other knitter came but we enjoyed getting to know each other and found we have much in common.

Last night we joined the Gerrys, The Professor's sister and niece at the church Wednesday night Summer roast beef dinner, a weekly event that takes place in July and August. More interacting with our new community.

The Professor has become well acquainted with the local building supply big box stores as he has 'plumbed' our home for natural gas for our clothes dryer and in fact he is off now to the local plumbing store to pick the experts' brains about the best way to get our washer and dryer hooked up and working.

I have cleaned and organized the bathrooms. It really doesn't take much time to set up the baths because I'm not one to have a lot of lotions, creams, polishes or make up around. I added one decorative item in the guest bath, where I've chosen a green, botanical decor. I had this photo enlarged and I framed it with a dark wood frame.

Walking Trail on Hadrian's Wall, Northumberland, England

I called the furniture store last week to ask when our sofa and two chairs would be ready to be delivered. Unfortunately or fortunately, however you decide to look at it, the delivery won't happen until the second week of September. The living room is mostly cleared and ready for delivery, but we have a sofa in the family room so we aren't sitting around on the floor waiting.

I am quite excited about the living room. I have always loved the beach and one of my dreams has been to live in a beach cottage. I don't know if I will ever move into a beachside home, but I decided I could decorate my home in a beach theme. When we chose our furniture it was with a beach cottage theme in mind. When the room is set up, I will post photos. I hope you all will be patient because I don't have any control over the delivery date.

I am spending some time each day outside. The sad news is that my tomatoes just aren't doing well. I guess tomatoes do not like being transported from one county to another, left in pots and watered sporadically. The two pots of mint nearly died and dried up. I will have to repot them and see if they recover. The good news is that thinning the jasmine will not kill it. The new tendrils are growing everywhere and beginning to cover the eaves and gutters. I whacked at one of the three plants this afternoon.

What else has been accomplished? Current count of appliances in the car port is down to one. A refrigerator we have for sale. Current count for bookcases on the front patio is now at two. These two will most likely be donated or given to whoever wants to pick them up and take them away.

I blocked four of the swatches I have finished for the certification. I am almost finished with the entrelac and I am much happier with this swatch. All I have left on it is the casting off row of triangles.

Haven't The Professor and I been busy?

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Birthday Girl

We drove up to Visalia on Sunday to be on hand to celebrate Kiti's birthday. She is thirty. That doesn't seem possible. Just last month she was a curious three year old, playing in the dirt, running barefoot around the Papuan village where we lived, eating sweet potatoes and sugar cane. And last week she was a university student, TAing human biology, studying organic chemistry and parasitology. Wasn't it yesterday she was a rocket scientist at Boeing? But today, she's a lovely wife, daughter and sister. Still curious, still studying, still pursuing knowledge and still eating sweet potatoes with her java chip frappacinos or Earl Grey tea.

I think if I asked Kiti what she loves most in the world, she'd say, "My husband, my kitties, my mum and dad, my sibs, my in-laws, reading books, learning about ancient cultures and tropical parasites, studying the Bible."
What a privilege and blessing it is to have raised this beautiful, remarkably intelligent woman and have her as my friend.
And it really helps that she knows how to get me out of any kind of computer black hole I've gotten myself into.
May you have many, many more happy birthdays, Kiti!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

One Last Time

Thursday I had to make a quick trip from Los Angeles to Camarillo and back because I had an interview for a teaching position. I was feeling a bit hurried on the way up; the 405 Fwy North was packed with cars and going slowly. I really didn't want to be late for the interview. I made it with five minutes to spare.
On the way back to LA, I enjoyed a more leisurely drive, mocha frap in hand to celebrate a good interview.
The coastline from southern Ventura County to mid Los Angeles County has some of the most beautiful scenery in the world. By the prices of the real estate and the number of famous people who live along this stretch of Pacific Coast Highway, I think a lot of people agree with me.

Mile after mile of this:

and this:

The changing moods of the ocean, the varied beach and rocky coastline, the boats and a dolphin sighting made it difficult for me to keep my eyes on the road.

I stopped a couple of times to snap these photos, but I did have to get back in time to pick up John and meet Mike for dinner, so at a stoplight at Trancas Canyon Road, I just rolled down the window, pointed the camera, and shot.

From Pt. Mugu, through the 27 miles of Malibu, past Pacific Palisades, to Santa Monica, on bluffs high above the sea, along the beach just ten feet above the waves, I drove, until I could see the outline of the whole South Bay down to Palos Verdes Peninsula.

I'm sure over the next years, I will continue to drive the Pacific Coast Highway occasionally since Mike and many of our friends live in the beach cities. It will never be a burden to make the drive, not with these views.

Then we drove PCH once more last night, north, back home. We're so glad to be home.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Bits and Pieces of Our Vacation Life

We sat outside on the 'veranda' with our coffee the other morning. The sun was shining, the temperature was low 70s, life was good.

Who is that man? What is different about him?

This was our view--trees in the neighbors' gardens.

The white blooms on a cactus.

Red berries on the palm tree.

And, last but not least,

inside the house, ever vigilant,
the watcher at the drain.
Because you never know what might be lurking down there.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Final Intarsia Swatch, I Hope

Yesterday I finished the intarsia swatch and pinned it for blocking. In the back of my mind, something was telling me, "It's wrong." I went back and looked again at the directions and saw that something indeed was wrong. I had designed the swatch with eight too many rows.

Back I went to the the graph paper and needles this morning. I now have what I truly hope is the last intarsia swatch. 30 stitches by 40 rows, four colors.

The absolute final intarsia swatch

I did learn something besides remembering to triple check directions before you design and that was weaving in yarn ends a different way. This time I wove them in diagonally. Some knitting books say to weave ends in vertically on the back side, others tell you to weave them in diagonally. This time I tried it diagonally (probably because I just started reading the first Harry Potter book and noticed with amusement that the shopping area under London was called DIAGON ALley).

You really can't see the weaving on the front side.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Weekend at the Beach

Are you tired of the beach yet?
This is which beach? Right! Hermosa Beach! Good for you! There was a Surfing Festival at the beaches this weekend. While we were walking with Tim and Mia at Hermosa Beach late Saturday afternoon, there were still people lined up on the pier and gathered in stands on the shore to watch various activities and competitions.
Even the seagulls assembled to spectate.

The surf really and truly was this shade of green. We had noticed it on Friday. We think that there was an algae in the water that turned it green. Even the breakers had a green tinge. I know about Red Tide that is caused by algae. Maybe this was Green Tide. Or maybe someone dumped green dye in the water. You could actually see where the ocean was either green or blue depending on the varying currents and water depth.

There was a breeze and the seagulls lined up facing the wind and the ocean. Why do they do that?

These little sandpipers were the cutest things. They ran back and forth with the waves on their little legs, looking like they were in a movie running at fast forward. You know what I mean with their legs pumping so fast you can't see them, like hummingbird wings. They ran back and forth, back and forth, hunting and pecking in the sand looking for crabs and other creatures for their dinner. Every time I would point and shoot with the camera, thinking I was close enough to get a good shot, off they'd go, either running or flying away.

All the while we were walking, a red helicopter flew back and forth, hunting for something, too. Evidently, it was part of a demonstration of sea rescue. The copter hovered low enough over the surface of the sea to kick up spray, then a person was slung from the sea to the pier and finally he/she rappelled up the rope into the helicopter.

You can see that the weather was "early morning coastal fog and low cloudiness". Some days it has "given way to sunshine later in the afternoon". Saturday afternoon it went back to that low cloudiness. I prefer walking when the sun isn't so bright so Saturday suited me just fine. I remember that we would walk on the beach every Saturday afternoon at Pasir Putih (White Sands Beach) in Manokwari, Papua, Indonesia, play in the surf, eat our picnic dinner and watch the sunset. The sun would be past its zenith and not so blistering hot. I think my preference was set there and I still chose to walk in the afternoons when I can.
I hope you are not completely bored with beach photos. I promise some knitting content!

Friday, August 03, 2007

The Chaplain's Day

The Soldier and The Princess are traveling today. I hope they have an opportunity to relax a little since it is The Soldier's birthday.
Happy Birthday, Chaplain Dan!

Thursday, August 02, 2007

The Cat Communicates

I walked away from my laptop and what did I find when I returned but the cat sitting in the warmest spot he could find.

He had been typing, but erased most of what he had written when he saw me coming and knew he didn't have time to finish. All I have to go on is "QC". Maybe he was IMing his friend "Quick Cat".
Currently he is sitting in another warm spot. Mia is here and wrapped in a furry blanket to ward off the early morning coastal fog dampness and reading Harry Potter. The kitty is on her lap. If she stops petting his head, he gives a little head butt to remind her to keep it up. When you're a Devon Rex and have minimal fur you need to be proficient at finding warm places.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Walk On The Beach

It was almost perfect beach weather yesterday. The wind was blowing just enough to cool the sun to a walkable temperature. We walked from Manhattan Beach Pier to Hermosa Beach Pier and back, a journey of more than four miles. Manhattan Beach Farmers Market was open and the people were out in throngs and droves. It must have been a combination of the summer season and the weather.

We parked in the underground structure because all the free parking was full of tourists' cars. We made a quick detour to the post office and Starbuck's. When we arrived at Manhattan Beach Pier we turned left and walked south along The Strand.
We always enjoy passing the beach houses. These homes are built right on the sidewalk. In fact, the addresses reflect that-- 907 The Strand or 1123 The Strand.
If you live on The Strand, you expect people to stare in your front windows. This is exhibitionism with a twist of home ownership pride. As we walk and peek, we wonder, "Who lives there?"

The Strand in Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach and Redondo Beach is an urban beach environment. People walk, bike, skateboard, scooter, dog-walk. On the beach, people run, sunbathe, and play beach volleyball. Hollywood is often present here in the form of film and movie crews and all the equipment that goes along with it. We passed a film crew but I didn't photograph anything worth seeing-too far away.
Hermosa Beach Pier is almost two miles south of Manhattan Beach Pier. The two structures are very different. Manhattan has a building at the end. Hermosa is "just there".

Fishermen seem to prefer Hermosa Pier.

As we walked further out the pier over the sand and the waves, past the sunbathers and surfboarders, we looked back and realized just how urban the Los Angeles Beach Cities are.

But we turned and gazed the other direction, to the west, and we saw a completely different atmosphere. A solitary adventurer.
Woman Against the Sea