Thursday, March 31, 2011

Knitting the Week Away

I had intended to focus my Fave Fives on some knitting projects I have been working on this week.  This afternoon, I photographed them and planned my post.  Imagine my dismay when I uploaded my first photo and received this message: "Whoops.  It looks like you are out of photo storage."  Hmmmm, after five and a half years of blogging, I am unable to post a picture.  Evidently, I have hit the dreaded 'you gotta pay for it' limit.  Now I will have to decide what I intend to do.  In the meantime, you will have to use your imagination when I describe my five favorite knitting projects of the week.

1. A friend is expecting a little girl next month.  I've been busy.  Taking a simple kimono pattern and changing it to my preferences, I knitted a 6 month size white baby sweater which has straight sleeves; the front pieces cross and taper to a point at the waist.  I knitted in a little button hole and sewed on a blingy button at the left side.  Since I always use a washable fiber for anything baby, this is made from white Red Heart Soft yarn and trimmed with a deep raspberry crocheted edging.

2. Then because I had plenty of left over raspberry yarn, I cast on for a neck down raglan sweater in size two.  This little cardi is knitted in dark plum and raspberry stripes.  I must have a thing about crocheted edges right now.  Since I don't know much about crocheting, I am guessing that I made what would be called a picot edging around all the edges. It's--oh sooo sweet.  Three little buttons near the neck line will hold the sweater closed.

3. The knitting blog Pickles has a darling vest pattern which is a free download for size 1.  I used a dusty pink acrylic yarn and added two bright pink, purple and blue buttons.  You can see the pattern here.

4. In February, I had made myself a little beanie in a bulky navy yarn.  It was a simple garter stitch knit but it fit just perfectly. I added a cute crocheted flower at the edge and wore the hat last month when I was visiting my daugther in San Diego.  Since I like to use up my left over stash, I made a second hat and decided to gift it to the little sister of one of my tutoring students.  She's 7 this year and has strawberry blonde hair.  That hat was just begging to go home with her.

5. I've had this Shauna cowl on my needles for a few weeks.  Knitted in seed stitch on size 10.5 needles, it should have worked up a lot faster than it did. But I finally finished it.  I love it in the turquoise Spa yarn I used!

How did you do?  Did you 'see' my knitting?  It has been said that a picture is worth a thousand words.  I did not write anywhere near 1,000 words, let alone 5,000 to 'show' you my five knitting projects but I hope you have brilliant imagination skills to compensate.

Have you run in to the 'can't post any more photos' problem on your blog?  Any insights here?  Comments, commiserations, recommendations, and ideas gladly received!

Obviously, not being able to post photos is not going to make my Fave Five list this week.  But I decided that a lack of pictures would not prevent me from writing about what pleased me and gave me joy.  Thank you, Susanne, for hosting Friday Fave Five every week!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Lessons from Nature

My thoughts have been drawn to springtime this week like a young man's thoughts which are turned lightly to love.  What has nature's example taught me?  These five lessons are this week's Fave Five from Willow's Cottage.

1. Beauty often lies in the details.

2. Never under estimate the power of a storm.  Southern California has been slammed with back to back rain and wind storms this week.  While we are used to the occasional three day rain storm blowing in off the Pacific Ocean, the storm on Sunday was unusually violent.  Trees were toppled on the nearby golf course, in local neighborhoods, and along the freeways.  Rain turned to snow in the coastal mountains closing the main freeway route from the San Joaquin Valley into the Los Angeles basin.  At least two of our neighbors sustained damage to their homes, and we all lost our electricity for a while on Sunday evening.  While our little inconveniences are NOTHING compared to what the brave people of Japan are suffering, this storm was a timely reminder of the power of wind and rain.  It was not your typical little spring rain storm.

3. This little ground squirrel exemplified an interesting quality-the refusal to be deterred from his goal.  While we were taking a break in our twelve mile bike ride along the Pacific Ocean on Tuesday, we propped our bikes up near a picnic table, sat down and ate our bag lunches.  Mr. Squirrel wanted to share.  He was hungry.  He was determined.  Whenever we shooed him away, Squirrel Boy returned and crept ever close, even climbing up my bike tire to reach the table's bench and hopefully snatch a crumb from my peanut butter sandwich.  He was persistent!

4. The white heron taught me a lesson, too.  He was perched on a truck cab in the lot where we parked our car while we were biking.  Although cars drove in and out past the grey truck, the heron never moved.  He turned his head back and forth a few times but he stayed right there on the truck looking decidedly bewildered and out of place since we were several hundred feet away from the river bed and even farther from the beach.  He seemed to be thinking, "Uhh, this doesn't look much like the beach.  But the pelican told me to fly south."  I was reminded of the truth that even if you are sincere and adamant in your belief, if you're wrong, you're still sincerely wrong.

5. Finally, the sagest advice I took away from this week came from the humble seagull.  Always make sure they photograph your good side.

Have you learned anything this week from feathered friends or wacky weather?  Share it!  And if you want, join Susanne's Friday Fave Five at her blog Living To Tell The Story.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Lessons Learned

I know not to brag about an 'easy and quiet week'.  I should have known better.  What was I thinking?  After writing about my quiet and simple week, I ended up with two whirlwind weeks.  It wasn't anything in particular.  No, I wasn't ill.  Yes, all was well.  It was just busier than I expected.  We knew that the crazy last week of play rehearsals for The Professor would be followed by the insane performance week, and we had mentally prepared for it.  I had even prepared some easy fix and carry meals ahead of time.  What we did not expect was a car situation.  Sadly, his little green commuter Ford Focus car had an engine owie which necessitated a prolonged stay at the mechanic hospital.  It's still there.  That one little change in the schedule meant that we were sharing a car during The Professor's busiest two weeks of the semester.  As you can imagine, the result was not an easy and quiet week (or two of them-in a row).

Happily, this week has been quite special in spite of the busyness.  It's my birthday!  Yes, I really was a St. Patrick's Day baby.  Often, I'm asked why my parents did not name me Patricia.  They thought about it.  In fact, I had an Uncle Patrick, born on March 17th, who was quite incensed that I wasn't named after him.  But in the end, another name was chosen and even my middle name doesn't reflect any of my (small amount of) Irish ancestry.  Even so, I love having been born on St. Partick's Day.  Wonderful legacy.  Green beer.  Shamrocks.

Before The Professor and I embark on a quest to try the green beer in the new Irish pub in town*, I want to share my Fave Five which obviously will center around my birthday. *Update on that-- already at 4pm there was a dastardly long line of people waiting to gain entrance.  It was loud.  It was chilly.  We didn't feel like waiting, so we opted for a very quiet (oh, I think I needed that) and delicious meal at our favorite Thai restaurant.  Sadly, there was no green beer, but the Thai iced tea was totally tasty as was the pad thai.

1.  My birthday week began on Saturday with a day long hang out time with a special friend who drove up from one of LA's beach cities.  After a yummy lunch at a locally famous fish and chips place, we strolled around the Ventura Harbor from one end to the other and back again.  I love that place.  Boats. Water. Seagulls. Pelicans. Herons.

2.  Celebrations continued on Tuesday at a lunch in Culver City with my beautiful and wonderful daughter-in-law.  She, her sister, their friend, and I met at Royal T Cafe, a very hip sort of tea cafe.  Culver City is home to Sony Pictures Studios and other buildings belonging to various film and TV studios, and the shops and clientele reflect that.  My usual route to and from the main city in LaLaLand is Highway 1, or Pacific Coast Highway, which I mention often as you know.  On Tuesday, the tide was low, the pelicans were abundantly flying and diving for fish, the movie sets were camped in the beaches' parking lots, and the sun was peeking in and out between the rolling fog banks.  It was a perfect cruisin' day.

3.  Birthday greetings make me so happy!  I've received phone calls from sons in far away places and daughters, too, and a certain precious grandson.  Real cards have arrived in my real mail box, delivered by real postmen.  Oh joy!  I love receiving real mail!  Emails and facebook posts have brightened my day!  Starbuck's even sent me a coupon for a free drink.  Presents are fun, but personal messages remind me that I'm loved and appreciated.

4.  Pressies from my students are always so precious.  One young boy brought me a small bouquet of jasmine blooms which he picked himself, placed in a little plastic juice bottle, and decorated with a green ribbon.  How sweet is that?  My assistant presented me with a lovely personalized card and a real shamrock plant.  I had been considering purchasing one at Trader Joe's the other day.  Don't you think that a St. Paddy's Day girl should always own a shamrock plant?

5.  I've spent some time between lesson prep, chauffeuring, and paper correcting, sitting on my sofa and reading (and knitting of course) because I've decided this year that it's OK to do some things I want to do, just because. I devoured a short volume titled Becoming Orthodox in just two days.  Also on my reading pile are four books by Madeleine L'Engle, her Crosswicks Journal quadrilogy.  I've begun reading the first in the series.  Another book I'm reading is Low Cost High Impact Photography which is an e-book by Steve Johnson.  In a couple of days, I'll be posting a review of the e-book, but I'll just say here that this book is completely revolutionizing how I think about and do photography!  For me, a day with even a few minutes spent taking pictures, reading, or knitting is a happy day indeed.
So there it is, a recap of two hyper-weeks.  Writing it down makes it seem so mundane, but really it wasn't.  It was perfectly incredible.  Perfect and incredible.

How about you?  I'd love to hear how your time has been while I was holed up here in Willow's Cottage not communicating much with the world at large.  I've linked this up with the Fave Fives at Susanne's blog. Thanks, as always, Susanne, for hosting Friday Fave Five.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

March Begins With Small Things

You know how some weeks are just quieter than others?  On the positive side, I probably needed a quiet week after my very exciting week in San Diego.  Quiet weeks can be good. 

When your week is not so busy,

1. you can attend a cast party with your husband.  The Professor is moonlighting as the Technical Director of the university's performing arts department's spring production.  I've met most of the upper classmen/women who have acted in plays other years so it was fun to hang out with them for a few hours.

2. you can relax and read in the evenings while your husband is attending rehearsals.  Gallons of Trader Joe's Bedtime Tea have been consumed.

3. you can knit and knit and knit.

4.  you can begin to dream about this year's garden.  Kale.  Heirloom lettuces.  More tomatoes.  More onions.  Lots more parsley.

5.  you can vacuum the house and clean the bedroom closets without disturbing anyone else because no one else is in the house.

These were small things, most likely insignificant in the greater scheme of life's dramas, but they gave pleasure and joy to me.

What small things brought a smile to you this week?

You can share them here or post at Susanne's blog Living to Tell the Story for Friday's Fave Five.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Gaslamp Quarter

After several rainy, cloudy days, the sun shined on San Diego.
Downtown is not too small, not too large; it's just right.
Especially the Gaslamp Quarter.

This Greely storefront was built at the end of the population boom and beginning of the bust.  In 1888, the population of San Diego plummeted from 40,000 to 16,000.  Read more about San Diego's time line here.

Every American city had a Woolworth Building.

New buildings are being constructed in Downtown San Diego.

Older structures are being renovated.  Some like this lovely hotel have elegant 'legendary style'.

I have always been fascinated by the juxtaposition of old and new buildings.

I wonder what is being built here.

If you ever visit San Diego, I hope you will enjoy a wander around San Diego's Downtown Gaslamp Quarter as much as I did.