31 May 2007

Lots of FOs

Lots of yarn goodness today at my house.

Thing 1 completed her first knitted FO, a bookmark, which she gave to Thing 2 because green is T2's favorite color.

Ah, sisterly love. Almost makes you forget that 2 minutes later they were squabbling over puzzle pieces.

With some "assistance" by T2, I dyed a skein of Knitpicks Bare Superwash using Easter egg dyes. It's interesting. Kind of a tie-dye look. There are instructions here.

My Mom completed a project, too. It was supposed to be a placemat. Before felting, it made a pretty good Saint Bernard hat.

After felting, it made a really cool bowl, which we decided was better than a placemat anyway.

I love this swirl pattern. The yarn was some stuff we Kool-Aid dyed last year, and I like the colors, too. The pattern is in Felt It!

30 May 2007

Hair and French Swap

Thing 2 has been begging me to cut her hair. This is traumatic for me because I've never had her hair cut since she was born (except the bangs). But I finally caved in because I was tired of hearing the "ouches" when I brushed her. We had a whole story going about the Tangle Fairy, who, according to Thing 2 lives either in Atwater or near Disneyland.
Meantime, Thing 1's hair was getting long, too. So a trip to Supercuts was definitely in order. In this series of photos, you see 1. Before 2. During and 3. After. They do look cute.

And here are the goodies that arrived today from Virginie in France:

It took forever for this package to get here, apparently because it was held up in Customs. Customs also opened the package of cookies that was inside, which meant they were mostly

crumbs by the time they got to me. We wouldn't want any dangerous French cookies to enter the country, would we? Anyway, the rest of the package was wonderful. Knatolee, take a look at the tea haul! There are 4 kinds of caramel teas alone. I'm going to have to drag out what's left of my high school French to try and read the books to the Things. :-) Thank you, Virginie!

26 May 2007


My parents are visiting with their dog Foenix. So this is what the family room looks like now. Where there's not dog, there's drool. We don't mind, though. Foenix is a love. And he and Ruthie are enjoying each other.

Here's my Mom teaching Thing 1 how to knit last night. She's getting the hang of it pretty quickly. I love the look of concentration on her face, tongue sticking out and all.

And yesterday a wonderful package arrived from Maggie in Bulgaria. It's so much fun to receive a box covered in Cyrillic! The inside of the box was even better, with lots of goodies. I'm glad Maggie sent rose soap, because I've just used up the soap that Ruthie sent me (Ruthie the person, not Ruthie the dog, of course!). There was a really cool postcard in the shape of Bulgaria.

But I think my favorite thing is this cute little ship. Thank you for everything, Maggie!

22 May 2007

My Head Hurts

This is an actual sentence from a term paper I am currently grading, verbatim:
In the book "Monster: A autobiography of a L.A. Gang Member" written by Sanyika Shakur, which was his name after he converted to the Islamic religion, but was known as Kody "Monster" Scott of the Eight Tray Crips of South Central, you are abruptly thrown in the front line with one of Los Angeles most prominent gang member Kody "The Monster" Scott as he remembers life experiences, drawn from his sixteen years of gang involvement starting in the sixth grade when he was intitiated into the Crips gang, while he is in solitary confinement.

I gues I could call this the James Joyce/William Faulkner School of Term Paper writing. But I was subjected to both "Portrait of the Artist" and "The Bear" as a high school senior, and the experience scarred me for life. Plus, both Joyce and Faulkner could properly punctuate, when they so chose. What's sad is that the sentence above was written by someone who will be a college graduate next week (and who, I am sure, has never read either Joyce or Faulkner, and thus could not claim his inspiration there).

21 May 2007


This tiny little amulet bag has taken me forever to knit. I guess it's the zillion beads and all the fussy little details. Plus, I managed to murder three beading needles in the process. It is pretty, though, isn't it? I guess now I need an amulet.
I think I'd prefer an amulet to protect me from Lame Excuses and General Irresponsibility. Why? Here's an email I received this evening; it's a good example of the communications I've been getting from students lately:
Hi Professor , this is [name deleted to protect the not-so innocent]. I believe you know
me but just in case you forgot im in your class. I have such a
huge dilemma right now. You might have noticed that i did not turn in a
group project. Well, to be completely honest with you I have no idea how
this happened but I honestly never knew about it. I know that sounds
really ridiculous and I am totally blown away how i never knew about it. I
was talking to my buddy in the class today and he totally blind sided me
with it. It is not like me at all to not do my work. I really dont
know what to do. I have only four classes left to graduate and plan
on graduating next semester. I really cannot afford to not pass this
class. So... My request would be to possibly do the project or
something, anything at all that would allow me to pass the class. I have
passed both my tests and turned in my assignments. I would really
appreciate anything you could do to help. I look forward to hearing
from you soon. Thank you very much.
Okay, never mind that the project is listed in the syllabus (it's 25% of their grade), and they received a several page handout on the project, and I spent most of a class period discussing it, and I mentioned it in class numerous times throughout the semester, and the rest of the class did oral presentations on their projects last week.
I must say, though, that what my students lack in responsibility and attention they nearly make up for in grovelling skills.

43 Places

I just discovered an addictive new site, 43 Places. You can create a list there of places you want to go and places you've been, and you can browse locations, too. The site generates a map, which I've put placed on the left sidebar here. I haven't added many places yet, but I will soon. This is a lot more fun than grading papers.

20 May 2007

Sunday Morning

Here are the Things this morning. Sandwiched between them is Ava. Ava's Mom and I have known each other since 7th grade. We haven't lived in the same time zone as each other for almost 20 years, but we've stayed good friends. Coincidentally, she had Ava just 2 months after Thing 1 was born. Thing 1 and Ava have seen each other a few times over the years, and, as you can see, they're great friends. Ava's family spent the weekend with us, so Ava and Thing 1 got to have a sleepover. Not much sleeping was actually done, but then, Ava's Mom and I became friends when we were the last 2 people left awake at a slumber party. :-)

17 May 2007

Can You Raku?

Last night was my last ceramics class. We did raku. Raku is a very dramatic process involving white-hot clay, shooting flames, and quick plunges into water. It's lots of fun to watch. And the results are dramatic, too, with beautiful metallic colors up against charred black clay.
This pot met an unfortunate fate in the kiln, due to the clay being too thin in some places. I'm going to pretend that, like that blue dish, it's an archeological artifact, perhaps discovered in the ashes of some ancient firepit.

This pot fared better. I wish my photography could do justice to the colors of the glaze. I only used 2 different glazes on this piece, but it ended up in many colors which change as different lights hit it. I'm actually fairly pleased with the shape of this pot, too. Still kinda lumpy, but not too bad.

And here's my third raku creation. I especially like the coppery green .

I'm absolutely going to try to sign up for ceramics again in the fall. I haven't even learned to use the wheel yet, and this class has been the highlight of my week.

13 May 2007

Progress on Lizard Ridge

In case you've lost track, this is Square #11. I actually ran out of Kureyon and have had to order more.

10 May 2007

Ceramics FOs

I finally have some finished ceramics pieces to show you. Here's my very first piece, the Caveman Mug. The handle's actually quite nice, but that's only because the instructor made it as a demo.

Then I made a box. I guess it's not too hideous. I experimented a bit with my glaze "technique" on it. But I was in a hurry so it's kinda spotty. Let's pretend I intended it that way.

Now, these last two pieces I actually kind of like. This bowl would have turned out really cool---

--except the clay was too thin in one spot and it cracked when it was fired. I guess I can still put stuff in it, though, and I love this glaze (which the instructor did, again). Finally, there's this guy:

You can't tell from this picture, but his body is actually a cup, so you could use this as a pen holder or something. Believe it or not, this project was not my idea. The instructor gave us a choice of making a cat or dog, and the dog happens to look quite Saint-like. I wasn't too thrilled with this piece until after I glazed it. His tail fell off when he was fired. But I really do like how he looks glazed, and the missing tail is no big deal.

So, there we go--my masterpieces. Next week is the last week of class, and we get to raku. Whatever that entails.

I have to say, I adored this class. Ceramics takes enough concentration for me that I didn't think about anything else while I was in class, and the 2 hours just flew by every week. I'm going to try to sign up again in the fall, and maybe learn then to use the wheel. Where else can you get 16 hours of therapy plus assorted ugliesh things to take home, all for $52??

08 May 2007

Summer's almost here

Never mind that last Thursday it only got to 60 degrees. Today it was in the upper 90s, which meant it was warm enough for the first swim of the year. I love it when the kids get to swim: they work off all sorts of energy while I get to sit in the shade and read magazines. I could knit, too, but the splashing danger's fairly substantial. I do have to pretend I don't see the weeds waiting to be pulled.
In the foreground you can see that our next major household project is underway, literally before the dust has settled from the kitchen. We're having solar panels installed. At least this project involves several days of pounding on the roof, rather than demolishing our kitchen. Heck, maybe it'll even scare away some of our pigeon squatters. When it's done, we should be able to generate a significant portion of our household electricity. I'm looking forward to watching the electric meter run backward!
Hubby will also be installing a solar pool heating system, which should extend our swimming season by a month or so each spring and fall. If there's one thing we have plenty of here in the Valley, it's sunshine. Might as well make use of it.

06 May 2007

Warm Weather

Isn't it nice to know that in a world full of Playstations and minature motorized Hummers and overly precocious fashion dolls, you can still entertain half the kids in the neighborhood with a $1.99 yellow plastic sprinkler?

03 May 2007

Big Brother

I teach a Juvenile Justice class in which I try to convince my students that today's schools are turning into junior prisons. Sadly, I just received evidence to bolster my claim. Thing 1's (public) sent home a letter informing parents that they will be fingerprinting students and using biometric scanning for the kids to purchase lunches. They claim this will provide a "safe, accurate and efficient" method of providing lunches. Because, you know, I'm sure there's a lot of scamming going on over those $1.50 school lunches.

The letter claims there are no privacy issues because the system doesn't store fingerprint images, just a "template of the unique fingerprint characteristics." Yeah, that's ever so much better.

When I get angry about something my general policy is to sit on it for a while and see whether I calm down. I hate to overreact. I also like to choose battles that are worth fighting. I didn't raise a fuss when Thing 1 was chastised for coming to school with pinkish hair the day after Halloween (the "temporary" dye hadn't washed out, and the school apparently forbids colored hair). I didn't peep over the "no temporary tattoos visible" policy. No spaghetti straps for girls' shirts ans dresses? Fine, she'll wear lasagna straps instead.

So I've been sitting on this fingerprinting thing for a few days, and I've just become more ticked off. I haven't contacted the school yet, but I have raised the issue with my fellow Pinko Commie ACLU board members. I'm not sure yet what the outcome will be. I can say that even my conservative, tough on crime students were shocked about what schools have become. And look what happened to this kid. Sometimes, it's painful when I'm right.

02 May 2007

Birds and Bees and This and That

Just a few miscellaneous things today:
  • The May Magknits is up.
  • I've been grading exams. Did you know the US Civil War was in 1658? Or maybe it was in the 1950's. No, that can't be right, because World War I was in the 1950's.
  • If I ran the world, all grownups would get naptime every day.
  • If you go to San Francisco and you're the least interested in knitting (and why else would you be suffering my blog?) you must go to ArtFibers. They sell only their own yarn, which is unavailable anyplace else. Yes, you can also mail order, but going in person is infinitely better. They will custom-design a pattern to your specs for free. They have a comfy chairs where you can sit and try out all their yarns while looking through 2 huge windows over Sutter Street. The staff is always very friendly.
  • Even while seated at an empty table in a quiet room, Thing 1 can find approximately one thousand things to do other than her math homework.
  • Ruthie+new wood floors+spring=rampant tumblefur
  • I have become completely addicted to PostCrossing. It's especially interesting to see the wide variation in times for a postcard to arrive in various places. They seem to average a little over a week to most of the world, but so far have ranged from 3 days to the Netherlands to 21 days to Estonia.
  • Thanks to a certain someone (thanks, Knatolee!!) I'm now daydreaming about Newfoundlands.
  • I've been being distracted at work by birds lately. There's a group of 3 ducks that hang out outside my building--a male and female Mallard plus a male wood duck--and I find them really charming. I'm not sure who they ended up in an interspecies menage a trois, but they all seem happy. The wood duck is slightly more standoffish than his Mallard friends, who I saw mugging a toddler today for his goldfish crackers. The resident geese--I'm sure including that lazy one from the parking lot--keep flying by my window, honking loudly. And today in the evergreen just outside my window there was a little bird with a strikingly yellow head. I've looked it up, and I think it may have been a Hermit Warbler.
  • Knatolee points out that today is Honeybee Appreciation Day. It's kind of cold and damp out today, so there aren't many bees outside to appreciate right now. But yesterday I spied my first Humungobee of the season. They're actually called Valley Carpenter Bees, but I like my name better.