Saturday, September 29, 2007

The Saturdays

Saturdays are such fun days.
Today three of my crazy funny friends from the South Bay (translation for non-Angelenos: beach cities area south of Los Angeles International Airport) came for a tea luncheon.

I fed them three kinds of tea sandwiches, blueberries,

and four choices of scones.

They wanted to check out my new neighborhood to make sure it was safe
and sane.

It's really hard to get a good photo of all four of us because one of us will always manage to start the rest of us laughing at the exact second the camera flashes.

What a great way to spend a Saturday!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

A Circle of Knitters

When Roxie over at Sanna's Bag asked for photos of knitters' hands knitting, I decided to enlist The Princess's family's help.

Thank you, Phoebe, Blandina, Meli, and Jeffie, my family circle!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

First Lesson

This evening we had visitors at Willow's Cottage. Friends from Los Angeles stopped by on the way home from a short vacation (Happy 29th Birthday, Doug!). Most every Thursday night for the past three years I have taken my knitting to their house and their daughters have watched me knit sweaters and socks and hats, some of those items for them. They have helped me wind and unwind balls of yarn, choose colors and gauge sizes.

So, tonight I gave a first knitting lesson to this one.

Lots of guided help makes for a successful lesson.

So proud of her first rows of knitting!

Who is this new knitter?

Yes, she looks familiar. My model for the Aran sweater. Just as cute as ever. Just as sweet as ever. Just as much fun as ever!

And her little sister. She had her first 'lesson', too.

The Professor was still teaching when they first arrived. Olivia walked through the house, looking in every room, checking everywhere. Finally she walked back into the living room and asked, "Where's John?" We all know who the favorite one is around here.
Oh yeah. They were accompanied by their parents.

Thanks for stopping by, Peters!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

A Dry Place

Western Arizona is a different place than Ventura County, California. It is a place of red rocks, sand and desert plants.

It's a land of cactus, of bushes with names like creosote that have teeny tiny leaves to preserve what little moisture is available, of dry, dry valleys that stretch for miles and miles.

The houses are built of stucco and painted earthy colors.
The gardens are rock instead of lawn.

The colors of Arizona are so different from the colors of Southern California. They are dusty, sun-bleached, water-parched, deserty shades. I think there is an afghan or a sweater color scheme in there somewhere.

Thank you so much for your thoughts and prayers for my friend's family. I watched the young widow grow up, the same age as one of my sons. Her mother is a teacher trained in the same multi-sensory methods as I; she was a wonderful example to MamaMia as her flock group leader at church when MM was in middle school. The accident occurred in Guam, a military training exercise gone wrong. If you go to google news and type in guam helicopter, you can read a short article about the accident. A short three paragraph blurb, but it has made all the difference in the world to a young wife and two families.

Monday, September 24, 2007

There And Back Again

We drove to Phoenix, Arizona for the weekend to visit The Princess, Chaplain Dan and Jeff. Our orignal excuse was to go to the Dodgers/Diamondbacks game at Chase Stadium on Saturday night. We had a great time even though the Dodges lost.

We set our trip odometer and found that it is 425 miles from our house to Chaplain Dan's. So, our round trip was 850 miles. We left at noon on Friday and pulled back into our driveway at 9pm Sunday. We enjoyed our visit with our boys and The Princess's family. Thank you all for hosting us and spending time with us.

I had intended to post photos of our trip and the interesting differences in scenery along those 425 miles. But this afternoon 'my heart is full'. The Papuan people expressed sorrow by saying their hearts were full and that is how I feel today. I just found out that the son-in-law of a dear friend of mine in Oregon was killed in a military helicopter crash. That is all I know at this time. Please pray for this grieving family. It is so hard.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


I am redesigning and reknitting the Aran Sweater I made in the spring for TKGA. This time I am using Cascade 220, 100% wool in a traditional aran color, creamy white, and adjusting the needles down one size to accomodate the yarn. The needle change also requires a gauge change.

The original sweater had one panel of wave of honey cable going up the sleeve.

In an attempt to add more cables and use less moss stitch, I am including an aran diamond with moss stitch panel between two wave of honey cables. Because of the gauge change I have added 12 stitches to the width of the sleeve, which of course means more bobbles.

I have typed up the sleeve instructions, so I am going to print them out and take them with me to knitting group tonight and see how much of the sleeve I get done. I am going to take my time on this sweater and really try to do a good job on it. I really don't want to have to make a third one.

On the work front things are going well. I work with a really great teacher and the entire staff has a positive attitude. We have a full roster of kids now and this week there have been no criers. That's progress!

I finished Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows last night! I am replete with satisfaction. I won't post any spoilers because I know Kiti hasn't read book seven yet. Now I am on to a new series by Maggie Sefton. I have just started Knit One, Kill Two. What a great read: murder mystery and knitting in the same book!

Friday, September 14, 2007

As Fast As You Can

Run, Run
As Fast As You Can!

You Can't Catch Me!
I'm a Quail...Man.

I can only catch these fast, funny little creatures with my camera, and then it's hard to corner them to get any kind of shot. There are quail "everywhere" in our neighborhood, scampering between the houses, jumping on our roofs, hiding in the bushes, running across the streets like naughty five year olds.

They are amazing feathered friends.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

CSUCI Campus Tour, Continued

The Professor and I enjoy architecture and history. During our tour of the campus, The Professor showed Chaplain Dan the differences between the new dorms, shown here, and the older buildings.

We couldn't see too much of the new library up close, but it looks like it will be more modern than the surrounding buildings. I know the architectural building committee is trying hard to make new and old complement each other. The Princess and I stood in front of the fence and drooled at the new library. Wouldn't you love to work as a librarian there?

will give you more information on the history of the campus.
As the campus grows and building renovations are completed, I will photograph the finished buildings and share them with you.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


CSUCI stands for California State University Channel Islands, which is where The Professor is teaching computer science classes. The CSUCI campus used to be the grounds of a state mental hospital many years ago. According to the official website, some of the buildings were built seventy years ago.
The original buildings on the campus are California Mission style. The university is refurbishing as many of the old buildings as possible. The Professor's office and classroom are in one of them. As the new buildings are constructed, every effort is being made to build them to complement the Mission architecture.
Original Bell Tower
This is the old library building. A new one is being built. You can see the beautiful details on this building-- colorful tiles, wrought iron lights, stucco walls, red tile roof.

The Professor thinks the campus, nestled back against the Santa Monica Mountains, is a pleasant place to work.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Absolutely Charming

As I am whizzing along in book 6 of the Harry Potter series, I am pleased to announce that I have finally made it in to the year 2007. What every other knitter on the planet must have known is now revealed to me. There is a knitting book based on items in the Harry Potter books and movies. It's called

As of Thursday night, I own a copy!
And I've knitted an elf hat!

Paddington heard me talking to The Professor about the hat and asked if he could model it.
"It's not going to fit you," I pointed out. "The elf hat is much too large for your head and will slip down over your eyes."
"How about if I wear it over my own yellow hat?" Paddington begged.
"I think it will still look too big and a little silly," I replied.
"Please, please, please, oh please, let me put it on anyway! I'll be just like a house elf!" he cried.
So I relented and said, "OK," and took his picture.
Paddington is very happy with the results, but I still think it looks like a little bear from Darkest Peru trying to appear much more grown up than he really is.
Well, it is sorta, kinda, cute, isn't it?

Silly Little Paddington

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Circular Lace

The last swatch I have to resubmit to TKGA for the certification is circular lace on double pointed needles worked from the inside out.

I made this swatch yesterday and blocked it. Lace needs lots of pulling and stretching, so I made a paper circle and used it as my guide for blocking.

No screamers or criers today. One of them was absent. The others are getting settled in and we are focusing on phonics. There is a lot of pressure put on school districts, principals, teachers and therefore students to learn to read in kindergarten. I am not convinced that all five year olds are ready to learn to read. It's not a problem if you learn to read when you're six or seven, unless your teacher's job depends on your learning to read when you're five. That's a lot of pressure. My job is to make it as easy and fun as possible.

Honestly, three hours a day is all I want to spend in the classroom. I like teaching little ones to read and write, but a half day is good for me. I just love my garden, my kitchen and my knitting needles too much to be separated from them for too long.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Christmas In September

Isn't it September? Haven't I just started back to school? Didn't we in the US just celebrate Labor Day last week? Isn't Mama Mia's 1st wedding anniversary coming up in a couple of weeks? Didn't The Professor and I just comment that September 4th would have been his parents' 65th anniversary and is the 35th anniversary of our engagement?

Then, why oh why, is my Christmas cactus blooming?

It bloomed in the spring and is blooming again, having at least twenty buds on its spindly neglected stems. When we moved, I threw my houseplants in the back of the car, squished them down so they would fit in the trunk (boot) and after we arrived at the new house, I shoved them along the side of the car port and ignored them, not even remembering to water them most of the time. A couple of weeks ago, I managed to drag them around to the front door so I might remember to water them more often, but I haven't decided where I want them in the house so they've stayed outside, enduring the cool evening breezes and the hot, hot days this week. Evidently, the Christmas cactus thrives on neglect and severe weather extremes.

School has been a little crazy. Because I work with kindergarteners, I never know what kind of a day I'll have. Yesterday we had three little ones screaming and crying for their mamas. Today was better, only two screamers, and then they only cried intermittently. Even so, I am amazed at how much these little five year olds are learning. They can line up now, they know where to go for snack time and lunch, they are even learning the names of the letters. Each day we repeat everything and a few more kids 'get it'. "Zip your lips and tiptoe past the other classrooms." After using the restroom, "Flush and Wash." "A says 'a', as in apple." Working with little ones can be great fun; they just suck up the knowledge like little sponges.

I went to my knitting group last night but only one other person showed up (good to see you, Kristin!). I just sat there and worked on my next baby sweater. This time I am using Caron Simply Soft. Same pattern-- Pure and Simple Neck down Cardigan. I love that pattern.

Basketweave stitch in the body, garter stitch ribbing.

What do you think? Is it a boy's sweater or a girl's?

Monday, September 03, 2007

Family Tree

I have always been interested in my family's geneology. I know it's part of my personality. According to my Strength Finders index, Context is my strongest strength. I like to understand the background before I make any decision. Another of my top five strengths is Input--I just like to know things, interesting, important, or not. So, finding out about my family and its history is a natural interest for me.

My grandma's parents came from Germany. Otto Gericke worked his way across the Atlantic Ocean to the New World on a ship. I keep his seabag in my hope chest.

I also have his official papers and many letters that were sent to him, most of them written in German.

My great grandfather had a Chinese penpal who wrote to him in grammatically perfect English. This Chinese gentleman was a great admirer of Sun Yat Sen and in his letters he praised the Chinese leader's beliefs and personal life.
My great grandparents moved to Oregon in about 1925. They went to visit family there and loved it, saying the Willamette River Valley reminded them of Germany. They sold the farm in Iowa and my grandparents had no more home. So they followed her parents to Portland just in time to be plunged into the Great Depression with everyone else who needed jobs but couldn't find one because there weren't any. My great grandfather took an old shed and rebuilt it into a home for my grandparents and their four children so at least they had a place to live. That is my grandma's house of my childhood.
My mother, then, was a Portland girl, 100% German. My dad was a country boy from Coos County, Oregon, 100% English (I found an Irish ancestor in there, too). I am half German, half English, 99% American with a little Asian mixed from all the years we lived in Indonesia. The Professor is half Swedish, 25% English and 25% German. Our children are, therefore, 3/8 English (with that bit of Irish), 3/8 German and 1/4 Swedish. Blonde/light brown haired, blue eyed Americans with that Indonesian cultural core.

I sometimes wonder what Great Grandpa Gericke would think. I could show him the letters I've read and reread (at least the ones in English), his old sea bag, the old photos of his wife Alma and him, the ones wrapped in tissue, lying in the bottom of the hope chest where Chaplain Dan, Kiti, Mike and Mama Mia's baby books are stored, a connection between my children and him, their great, great grandfather. He'd probably say, "Ach, ja. Sehr gut."