Wednesday, April 17, 2013

In Need of a Diversion...Wait, Hodgepodge to the Rescue!

Oh, sweet columbines

1. April 15th is the deadline for Americans to file their state and federal income tax returns.  What's a job you do on a regular basis that could be described as 'taxing'?

I consider all housework taxing...
 2. I'm participating in the April A-Z blog challenge, and the Hodgepodge happens to fall on Day O this week. In keeping with that theme...olives, onions, oysters, okra...of the foods mentioned, what's your favorite O food?

I think olives would have to be my favorite, although onions comes in a very close second.  The other two?  I'll pass, thanks.  I am particularly fond of green olives and kalimatas, especially in pasta salads.

 3.  What is something memorable you experienced as a child that your own children (or future children/nieces/nephews) will not get to experience?

It is shocking sometimes to contemplate just how many of my childhood experiences will not be shared by the coming generations.  We've advanced(?) so much in just the past 50 years...The first thing to spring to mind is watching the lunar landing on a black and white TV with rabbit ears rather than digital cable...

 4. Term limits for our elected officials...your thoughts?

Oy vay...
 5. On April 18th, 1775, Paul Revere made his famous 'midnight ride'...when did you last make a midnight ride?  Perhaps the fate of a nation wasn't hanging in the balance, but tell us where you were headed anyway.

My last midnight ride was several years ago.  We were planning to drive the kids to Disneyland the next day, but on the spur of the moment we decided to wake them in the middle of the night and start the adventure early.  Loved it.
 6.  What would freak you out more...a mouse running across your floor or a big fat hairy spider?

The mouse, most definitely.  The idea of a rodent in my house, possibly crawling over my dishes and food items in the pantry and crapping in my cupboards stresses me beyond belief.  Funny story: about a month ago the husband and I were standing in the kitchen conversing, our large, fluffy cat at our feet waiting to be fed, when what should flash across the floor where we were standing?  A FREAKING MOUSE, that's what!  I don't know which of us was more stunned, husband, me, or the cat.  You should have seen her dive across the floor after it.  As unbelievably fast as she was, she still missed it.  It vanished into a crack under the floorboards that was undetectable to human eye.  Within 5 minutes, we had the mousetraps set.  I'm happy to report that we had a dead mouse in the trap within 2 days.  It never made it into the cupboards, just in the wall behind them, thank God.  

7. I love it when people ask me________________________?

What I'm knitting.

 8.  Insert your own random thought here.

I'm not sure what I find more repellent: the monstrosity of Kermit Gosnell or the almost complete lack of coverage of this case by the mainstream media.  

Monday, April 15, 2013

Down to Zero

Kind of a bummer of a title.  I'm battling a bout of down-heartedness at the moment, so it seemed a propos.  May need to listen to a little bit of Joan Armatrading this morning to lift my spirits. 

Here's a brief glimpse of my Friday and Saturday activities:

Friday - took advantage of the local hardware store's deal of 20% off all plants and bought these goodies to finish off the containers for the front courtyard:

Well, actually, this doesn't quite complete it.  I still need to plant the herb garden and fill in the planting bed with some decorative rock as well.

On the way out of the store, the do-it-yourself key-making kiosk caught my eye and I remembered that the husband needs a replacement house key for the one he inadvertently chucked out while re-doing the front beds in December.  I couldn't resist the bright pattern, but after it was made, I decided to keep this one for myself and give him the boring plain brass one from my key ring.  He was in total agreement once he got a glimpse of it:

Also, on the way out to the garden center of the store I saw what I think is the plant I mentioned in my post from last week that is in full bloom along the mountainside on the drive to Santa Cruz.  It is called "Sweet Broom".  I took a picture with my phone, but can't seem to download it to the laptop.  Will have to ask the husband for help when he gets home today.

Friday came to a close with youngest son's swim meet.  Another tough one.  He swam back stroke in the 200 medley relay again (we still can't figure out what the coach is thinking on this one, because his back stroke is pretty awful), then free-style in the next three events.  He eked out a point on the 100 free, but his two relay teams did not do well, so that was all she wrote for that one.  The team got clobbered again.  We have a lot of personal history with this team, as he used to be on the "Dream Team" relay with a couple of them and together broke several records which still stand.  It was one of these team mates that accidently cut open a gash above his eye which prevented him from going to championships the year before last.  Good times.  To make matters worse, he would still be swimming with them and probably continuing to set relay records if he had chosen to attend the local public high school.  He opted for the private Catholic school his brothers attended, however.  This school doesn't have their own pool and the swim team has never been very strong.  You make, choices, right?

Saturday morning was spent with middle son at his University Welcome Day.  He is very excited at what the Kinesiology department has to offer and is chomping at the bit to get started.  Let's hope Senioritis doesn't rear its ugly head...Have to keep on him about meeting key deadlines, too.  The transition from "mom does all that stuff" to "I have to do this myself" is only just beginning.  But he's my most independent one, so I'm hoping for the best.

After we'd attended all the presentations we cared about, we raced to the AAU tournament his varsity basketball team was playing at.  He made it just in time for tip-off.  He was a bit grumpy about having to play because he was extremely tired and his feet have been bothering him lately.  He thinks he has plantar fasciitis.  But his dad (aka the coach) begged and pleaded.  He didn't perform all that well as a result, and his team got stomped.  Such is life.

And now, if you'll excuse me, it's time to throw a pork roast in the slow cooker...

Friday, April 12, 2013

Clematis Blooming and Another Pair of Socks

 My dearies are finally opening up.  Wish I could capture the true color of this little gem.  Although it appears red in these photos, it is actually a very deep purplish color.  I don't remember the variety any more, though.  They were planted several years ago.
 Yesterday, all the dwarf princess lilies were introduced to their permanent (fingers crossed) homes:

And the trinity of strawberries continues its journey towards ripeness:
My latest sock design is now complete, but the finished product is not photographing very well.  I'm going to try and get the sister over here to be a model for them and see if that works better.  In the meantime, this is what they look like:

The yarn is so lovely.  Again, the color in person is so much richer, more like deep berry than the pink above.  The yarn is Mountain Colors bearfoot, darned if I know the name of the color, since the label has gone into hiding for the moment.  I'm sure it will turn up eventually.  If I had a nickel for every time I've said that... I really enjoyed working with this yarn.  Knits up beautifully.  I've got a few tweaks to make to the pattern before I post it.  I think this one will be for sale in my Ravelry store rather than free this time.

While I intend to continue my sock knitting and see where the mojo takes me, I think I need to design something besides socks.  I feel a baby sweater coming on, I think.   I also need to work some more on mom's sweater.  I've neglected it in favor of the socks and work on the container garden, but that needs to stop here and now. 

And now to tend to the tedious task of laundry.  (Couldn't resist the alliteration...)  Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

April in Paris Sure Would Be Nice

1. Share one fun thing you did last week, while the Hodgepodge was on 'spring break'.

Attended youngest son's high school swim meet.  His team was facing two other teams this time, both of which are Goliaths, and the results were as anticipated: both other teams crushed ours.  He did manage to eke out a few points for the team and shave major seconds off his 100 butterfly, so there was some balm to the wound.

 2.  April 10th is National Sibling you have siblings, and if so are you close? Share a favorite story featuring one or all of your siblings. If you don't have siblings, did you ever wish you did?

I have three siblings: two older brothers and a younger sister.  We are a close family in that we love each other, pray for each other, support each other, and would gladly lay down our lives for each other.  We have never held grudges or resentments or any of that sort of bitterness that plagues many families.  Sibling rivalry was pretty much non-existent growing up, although my sister and I did go at it a few times.  My brothers are roughly 18 months apart, and I can remember a couple of times when horseplay took an ugly turn, but never anything that caused lasting harm.  We still have each others' backs, as they say.  I don't have a particular story to tell about them, but I do fondly remember often walking with my mom, who was pulling a wagon in which my sister rode, to the local high school to watch my two older brothers play baseball; I remember one time in particular when my sister, who was probably 5 at the time, "caught" a foul ball with the side of her face.  That was a scary moment.

3. Is it important to you to 'buy American'? Why or why not? How much of an effort do you make to 'buy American'? If you're not American, insert your own country in the blank.

If I have the option of buying American, and the quality of the product is equal to or better than that of an import, I will always chose that option.   However, I will not buy a crappy product just because it was made in America.  Since the bailout, there are several American car companies that I will not buy from on general principal.  With the whole global supply chain being so complex these days, I'm not sure it is possible to buy a product wholly produced in the U.S. anymore.  Always seems as though some portion of all products is sourced from another country, so I don't spend too much time or energy worrying about ensuring I buy American.

4. Besides The Bible, what book has impacted your spirituality in some way?

I can't remember the name of the book, I think it was something like "God's Promises" by Grace Copeland?? 

5. April showers bring May flowers or so the saying goes.  Do you find rainy days calming or depressing?  When were you last caught in a rainstorm? What's blooming in your neck of the woods today?

Rainy days and I have a love/hate thing going as I age.  I enjoy a good downpour every now and then, and love the impressive thunder storms in Florida and Hawaii.  There is something delightful in being drenched with warm rain rather than frigid rain.  However.  When the rain is drizzly and gray skies just won't let up for days, then I have a problem with my friend the rain.  And as my roof ages, I am less enamored of rain in general due to the nagging thought that this could be the day when we spring a leak.  The last rainstorm I was caught in was the summer before last when we took the family on a vacation to Disney World.  Our last day there, which we spent at Animal Kingdom, was pretty much over by 11 AM due to torrential rain. 

There are lots of plants in bloom around these parts.  Princess lilies, ranunculus, geraniums, lilacs, bacopa, to name a few.  Want to see some?

And also this pretty little weed, which I find strangely appealing:
The foothills are covered with them, carpets of bright yellow.  They make me happy.

6. What's your favorite yellow food?

Poached eggs with runny yolks on toast.

7. April is National Poetry Month...what's a poem that holds special meaning for you, and why is it special?

Randall Jarrell's "Death of a Ball Turret Gunner" has always stood out in my mind, from the first time I encountered it in a high school English class.  The grisly imagery of the last line is so powerful and sobering, it serves to encapsulate the horror of war in a way I've never seen equaled.

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

Spent a couple of hours on YouTube yesterday watching Randy Newman, Mark Knopfler, and Colin Hay videos.   Several of the songs still move me to tears, no matter how often I hear them.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The boys and I have been reminiscing over Easter Break about the wonderful family vacation we took the year before last to Disney World.  With the oldest at University, the middle son starting University this coming fall, and the increase in tuition for youngest son looming on the financial horizon, the possibility of another family vacation any time soon is remote indeed.   And yet, we dream...which dovetails nicely into this week's Ten on Tuesday topic from Carole Knits:

10 Things You Always Bring on Vacation.

  1. Sunblock - The youngest and I are the only fair-skinned ones of the bunch, so we are always conscious of the need for sun protection; but sunblock is not only for the fair of skin, so I am constantly hounding my brown-skinned boys and their father to use the darn stuff.  I make it as easy as possible for all of us, preferring the spray on kind which goes on in, like, 10 seconds, full coverage.
  2. Camera - my family is my favorite subject and I love capturing them in the pure bliss of the moment that occurs so often when we are together on vacation. 
  3. Waaayyyyy too many clothes - Well, to be honest, this is the husband's thing.  The rest of us travel pretty light, but he over packs like crazy.
  4. My own toiletries - No hotel shampoo and lotion for this gal. 
  5. Hair products - The frizz Must. Be. Tamed.
  6. Several pairs of shoes - Our vacations usually involve lots of walking and my feet are troublesome.  If I use the same shoes or sandals for more than a few hours, I will invariably end up with blisters, so I have to change the footwear often to keep straps from rubbing, etc.  Good soles are a must as well.
  7. Credit card and ATM/Debit card - 'Nuff said.
  8. Novel - I've always been an avid reader.  Must have something to read in the hotel room or during various "down time" on any trip. 
  9. Book of puzzles - I love crostics, word games, logic puzzles and cryptograms.  Again, for the down time.
  10. Knitting, baby - This is usually the first thing that goes in the suitcase and carry-on.  I generally pack portable stuff like socks, but I've also been known to work on sweaters and complicated lace shawls while on vacation in exotic locales.  I have to have my daily knitting "fix" or I will go through terrible withdrawals and nobody wants that.
There's an open invitation to join the fun at Carole Knits (link at right)...So have at it.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Hey Hey, My My. Yes, Well...

Where to start?  The husband and I spent a lovely Friday evening in Santa Cruz at the Rio theater being entertained by this guy:

How was the performance?  Let's take a closer look...

We had never seen him perform live before, so we didn't know exactly what to expect.  The husband did some "googling" and discovered some reviews that indicated we would find Colin to be amusing, even downright stand-up comedian funny as well as solid musically.  One moment side-splittingly funny, the next tearing your heart out with poignant lyrics.  So we were primed, so to speak.

The Rio theater is a small retro theater in the older part of Santa Cruz, on Soquel Avenue.  Nice and intimate, very low key.  We grabbed a quick bite at a Sushi restaurant a couple of blocks from the theater before the performance.  Not very good, wouldn't recommend it.  We got to the Rio about 30 minutes before the start, and they were already letting people in.  The seating was unassigned, so we just grabbed a seat in the middle of the theater, and waited.  The audience was about what you would expect, lots of middle-aged and plenty of twenty and thirty-somethings.  Everyone was casually dressed.   The stage was set with 3 or 4 acoustic guitars and small amps. 

The show started on time and I settled in happily.  Then he started to talk.  And talk.  And talk.  At first I was slightly amused, but he wasn't as funny as the review had indicated he might be.  After a bit I was really eager for him to get on with the music already.  He monologued for about ten minutes straight, during which time I grew increasingly restless.  I didn't come for a comedy show, I came for the music.  There were two songs in particular I was hoping to hear and I really didn't find his commentary all that interesting.  There was something about Prince Charles being an "f-ing" disappointment and something else about some people who think they're just a little bit "f-ing" special.  And more "f this" and "f that".  It grew a bit tiresome.  He speaks with a strong Scottish accent despite spending most of his formative years in Australia, and I like the accent and all, but "Please, enough with the f-word, and isn't it about time you actually played a song? Pretty please?" was what I was thinking.

He did finally get around to playing, and he sounded really good.  But I kept thinking, "If you hadn't flapped your gums so long, you could have played about 10 more songs."  Really.   He didn't play one of his best that I was really looking forward to hearing, but he did play my all time favorite of his, "Waiting For My Real Life to Begin".  If you are a fan of the series "Scrubs", you'll have heard it.  It accompanies a really beautiful episode where a young girl faces her imminent death with joy and serenity and is one of my favorite episodes.  That show was the best.  Such a perfect touch. 

He saved the best for last and ended the show with this song and then did an a capella rendition of an old Scottish/Irish folk ballad from the 1700's in tribute to a friend of his who died last April.  He was one of his band mates from the Men At Work band, and apparently he was a fine person.  You could tell that he really loved him and truly misses him.

All in all, I enjoyed the show very much despite my annoyance will all the yakking.  He is a really humble guy and pokes fun at himself and his limited success in the music business after busting onto the music scene with his band in the eighties.  I'd definitely go see him again if given the opportunity.  The drive to Santa Cruz was really lovely, as always, and brought back all the usual memories that it usually does.  There was some kind of plant in bloom along the mountainsides in masses of profusion that I've never seen in bloom before.  I guess I've never driven through them in April before.  It's usually summertime when we visit.  The plants bore bright yellow flowers and they reminded me of forsythia.  I'll have to look them up and see if I can identify them.  They were gorgeous.  It was nice to be on a date with the husband as well.  We don't do that often enough.  I think our last "date" was another concert.  We went to see "Bare-naked Ladies" at a local winery and it was fantastic.

And on the knitting scene, I've started a very plain sock.  The yarn is kind of fugly, as you can plainly see:

The washing machine is still overflowing, by the way.  The husband will be taking another crack at it again this afternoon. 

Friday, April 5, 2013

My Latest Guilty Pleasure

Has nothing to do with this, but it's sort of in the style, so it was the best I could do.  The latest guilty pleasure of which I speak is the Showtime series "The Borgias".  Once I got over the revulsion of the soft core porn that pervades many of the scenes (fast forward feature on the remote really helps) and could concentrate on the storyline and character development, I find myself strangely fascinated. 

My first thought when seeing that Jeremy Irons played Rodrigo Borgia was that he would chew the scenery something fierce.  I find that he often walks that line for me.  Always appearing to be playing Jeremy Irons in every piece he appears in.  But I was wrong.  For the most part.  There is some overacting, to be sure, but there is also some subtly and his portrayal of the tender love he has for his family and of grief is most convincing. 

Whether this program has more than a passing acquaintance with historical fact, I do not know, not having studied the Borgia family that closely.  I always just clumped them with the Medicis and Machiavelli, labeling them pretty much one-dimensional monsters. 

Regardless of factual veracity, however, I find this series riveting for the somewhat complex portrayal of the Borgia family.  They are shown as deeply flawed, but also occasionally genuinely good and capable of great love, both for one another and for others.  They appear to have guilt over their most heinous deeds and I would like to think that this is true.   It makes for better drama, at least.   

I am now caught up with season 1 and 2, and hope there will be a season 3...

And in real life, the washing machine continues to overflow and flood the garage floor, and the laundry consequently piles up.  The family cries out for clean underwear and socks, to no avail.  The husband will get off work early and attempt to fix the problem.  And into the weekend we march undaunted...

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Apparently, I've Done Some Stuff...

Whew.  It's been a week.  Here's a brief look at some of the things that I managed to accomplish since my last post.  Warning, picture heavy:

Any knitters a-visiting, please feel free to visit my "Free Patterns" page and download a copy of my Spring In Your Step socks.  If you knit a pair, please let me know how you liked it, and let me know where I can view a picture.

Attended youngest son's swim meet.  Here he is, "flying" thru the water.
The clematis vine is growing vigorously.  Any day now, those tight little buds will be in full bloom.  I love this vine.  I think I'll plant two more in the courtyard this season.
Speaking of planting, the husband and I finally got to spend some quality time with the front yard and put these containers in.  We moved the stone bench from the courtyard to the front as well.  It looks much better there.
This little beast did not co-operate.  I am now fully reminded of why I prefer to knit seamless creations.  This is my first attempt at a saddle-shoulder, knit in pieces and seamed.  What a mistake.  This is not my pattern, I'm following a pattern from More Big Girl Knits.  I had my doubts about whether or not I could pull off the amount of seaming required on this thing, but it's been a while since I completed a seamed project, and I thought it was time I met the challenge.  Why don't I ever listen to that little voice inside that says, "BAD IDEA."?  Now you know why it's been languishing in the wip pile since forever...
This poor little strawberry plant has proven itself very resilient.  The herbs I planted at the same time have long since perished, but this little warrior is bearing fruit.  Three little berries are currently present.  Perhaps if I nurse it, it will bear more.
I wasn't sure the Spring In Your Step sock pattern was error-free, so I knit another pair to test the pattern.  I gave them to the sister-in-law on Easter Sunday.  
Imagine my delight when I spied these lovelies at Costco yesterday.  I've been scouring our local nurseries to try and find them, but with no luck so far.  They were the first thing I saw when I entered Costco and I may have made a spectacle of myself admiring them.  I splurged on three and will try to get them planted this weekend.  They are, of course, Princess Lilies.
I've designed a new pair of socks, and will have the pattern available in my Ravelry store within the week (fingers crossed.)
Oh, and the husband's baptism -- AWESOME!!!!!!