Saturday, February 26, 2011

Reversible baby pants

Reversible baby pantsTwo Three of the three babies currently hatching in my family have been identified with XY chromosomes, so I'm whipping up the boy pants in bulk. I started with Anna Maria Horner's Quick Change Pants pattern, but was concerned that they wouldn't fit over cloth nappies. So I took the reversibility of that design and added it to Rae Hoekstra's Big Butt Baby Pants, to create roomy, reversible dacks. I think we have a winner!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Taking the Oath

Two thousand strong
Today, just shy of 14 years after moving to America, I joined 2,001 others at Pomona Fairplex in making the Oath of Allegiance. Yep, I now have dual citizenship.
The oldest new citizen, aged 99The oldest participant was 99, and could walk unaided. Good for her! But I do wonder what benefits someone that age hopes to attain from citizenship, that she wasn't already getting from a green card. I mean, she's unlikely to get picked for a jury. Perhaps she just really wants to vote in next year's election.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Show and Tell Monday: Jewelry bowls

Deb asked about these, spotted in the background of another photograph, so I thought I'd bring them out as this week's Show and Tell.

I have a tendency to give away nearly everything that I make, so I'm glad that I kept a couple of these fabric 'jewelry boxes' that I made years ago. Inspired by Teesha Moore's fibre art, I fashioned each one from bits and pieces I had at hand, quilting each layer with running stitches, and embellishing with buttons, beads and lace.

Jewelry 'box'
Jewelry 'box'
Jewelry 'box'
Jewelry 'boxes'
Can you call it a box if it's soft and squishy, and has no lid? Maybe these should be called jewelry bowls instead.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

I went for a walk on a sunny Sunday ....

Brad's GardenPlease share
... and saw, among other things ....
Brad's garden (and met Brad, who offered to put beets and broccoli in the box early tomorrow morning so I could come by and get them) ...
Half a gargoylehalf a gargoyle ...
Orangesoranges glowing like harvest moons ...
Bougainvilleashocking crimson bougainvillea ...
Plumand flowering plum trees. As I was shooting these, a man surprised me with, "Do you like flowers?" He'd approached from behind, and was walking my way, so for a few blocks we chatted about gardens, and fruit trees, and the pleasures of perambulation. "My name is Bobby, nice to meet you," he said as we parted, shaking my hand.

If I had stayed inside this sunny Sunday, I wouldn't have met Brad or Bobby, or smelled the jasmine, or filled my lungs with good winter air.

I'm glad so I went.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Planning more getaways

View 2011 State Parks in a larger map

This weekend: San Francisco Bay area, including Pigeon Point Light Station.

Next month: Camping in Henry W. Coe State Park. Who wants to be my camping buddy?

Monday, February 14, 2011

February 14

Valentine irises
Card for Lauren
Valentine's Day always feels awkward and forced to me, and that, in turn, makes me feel a bit grinchy. A day to celebrate love, what could be wrong with that? But I never know what to write on the card.

Tonight I came across these words from Jen Lee: "I do not think of love as a stable substance. I picture us handling it with heavy mitts and tongs and trying not to drop it as we pass it around the room .... love is like the opposite of kryptonite -- it is the unstable substance that we cannot live without, in whose absence we wilt and our strength wanes."

This is how I feel right now, that it's a hot potato we are trying not to drop as we pass it around the room; I'm looking at it from the corner of my eye, so as not to let it burn a hole through my palm. Having to write about it on a card is too confronting, too defining, if I want to speak truth and not platitudes. It will crack me right open. And that might hurt.

So while I warmly appreciate flower deliveries and serenades, and while I can't stop making gifts and cards, this focus, in one day, on lovelovelove always feels somewhat embarrassing. Would anyone mind if I opted out?

Monday Show and Tell: hand knitted socks

Handmade socks, by AnnetteMy sister is a knitter. I kind of, occasionally, knit, but I would never refer to myself as a knitter. OK, I have a Ravelry account, but that's just so I can leave nice compliments on my sister's page. It's not that I dislike knitting, I just ... don't do it much. Here in SoCal, hand knits aren't high on the must-have list, you know? Except for socks, which, even in SoCal, I wear a couple of times a week.

So a few years ago I asked Nettie for advice on patterns and yarn for socks, and she kind of hesitated, before blurting out, "Do you mind NOT knitting socks? Can this be one thing I can do, but you don't?"

"Why sure," I replied. "But you know what this means: you have to keep me supplied with hand-knitted socks!"

Which brings me to today's Show & Tell. Nettie has fulfilled her side of the bargain admirably, and this week brought another awesome set of foot-coverings to my door. I now own four pairs of Nettie-made socks (there was another set a while ago, but I foolishly sent them to their felted death in the clothes dryer). I absolutely love them. I actually think they might be the prettiest pair of socks I've ever seen. What do you think?

Am I lucky to have such a nice sister, or what?

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Winter sun

Bees in the lavendar
Bees in the lavendar
Lavender is meant to flower in summer. Apologies to those folks currently suffering in winter blizzards, but have I mentioned lately how much I love living in southern California? The bees seem pretty happy too.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Desert road trip

Last year I became a member of the California State Parks Foundation. Along with a subscription to Sunset Magazine, and a dozen day passes to State Parks, I received their 2011 calendar, which, in the usual photo calendar format, features a beautiful state park photograph for each month.

Back in December, as I browsed its delicious pages, I declared that I was going to visit each park in the month it was featured. (I get like that sometimes.*) Which is why, in January, I drove north to Auburn State Recreation Area. I probably would never have gone there if it wasn't for my calendar. I am SO glad that I did; my life is richer as a result.

Anyway, February's feature is the Salton Sea State Recreation Area. From the calendar: "This park has the distinction of being one of the world's largest inland seas and the lowest spots on earth at 227 feet below sea level. The Salton Sea was created in 1905 when the Colorado River flooded into Imperial valley, creating the "sea" that is 45 miles long and 20 miles wide. It offers a variety of recreational opportunities and expansive vistas."

So today was the day. I invited Josh and Lauren to come with me; after initial agreement, Josh viewed photos online that quelled his enthusiasm. So I went alone. It was their loss.

Salton Sea
Salton Sea
The Salton Sea has one of the most diverse bird species of any National Wildlife Refuge in the western United States. Apparently, more than 375 different species have been recorded in the Salton Sea and Imperial Valley regions.

Imperial Wildlife Area
Spider embroidery
After enjoying my lunch by the seashore, I headed off in search of mud volcanoes. Duly warned by this sign, I couldn't help but be impressed by the spiders' embroidery.

Mud volcano
Burp! Fart! Bloop! Pthhhhh! Six miles down a dirt road, I found these little (2-3 ft high) mud volcanoes doing their thing. OK, so Hells Gate is probably way more impressive, but I still thought it was pretty cool!

Salvation Mountain
Salvation Mountain
Next stop was Salvation Mountain. While I don't subscribe to the artist's theory, I love living in a world where this stuff happens. Built by Leonard Knight over the past 25 years, from adobe, straw, and donated house paint, the project is a constant work in progress. Although he has no authority to be squatting on state land, Knight and his art were 'legitimized' when Salvation Mountain was entered into the Congressional Record as a national treasure in 2002. The man himself is a wiry 80 year old who welcomes visitors with a huge smile.

Slab City
Last look-see for the day, before starting the 3-1/2 hr drive home, was Slab City, another desert anachronism. Slab City takes its name from the concrete slabs that remain from an abandoned World War II Marine barracks. Several thousand people camp there in their RVs, in a loose community that fluctuates with the seasons. The camp has no electricity, no running water or other services, and the local authorities turn a blind eye to the squatters on government land. "The Last Free Place": that makes me happy.

It's so good to get out of the city. I feel enriched and calmed by my desert day. I live in a beautiful, diverse state and I have the means and the freedom to explore it. Lucky, happy me.

Click on any photo to see my full set on Flickr.

*There's something about my personality that likes externally imposed lists, at least for a little while. I have a whole cloud of things I'd like to do/cook/visit/read/make some day; having a structure, a list I can check off, pushes me to actually have those experiences. I rarely carry it through to the bitter end (have I ever actually made every recipe in a cookbook? Nope!) but I enjoy the attempt to do so. Probably the list I've stuck with the longest is 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die. 169 down, 831 to go. It's sure got me reading the classics!

Monday, February 07, 2011

Show and Tell Monday: Thread Sketching

thread-sketch-front Front
I've long loved the look of thread sketching, and I've dabbled in it a little in the past. But using lace for hair? Hmmm ... now I think I'm onto something!

Sunday, February 06, 2011


HariraHarira is the traditional soup of Morocco. It is usually eaten during dinner in the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. This vegetarian version is adapted from a recipe in Moosewood Restaurant Low Fat Favorites. The complex flavors and aromas combine to make a bright fascinating dish that's immensely satisfying; I'll certainly be making this again.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Bullet dodged

Tropical Cyclone YasiImage from
I spent about 24 hours glued to the online news and twitter feeds, concerned for my kids in the path of the monstrous Tropical Cyclone Yasi. I now know that they are fine. The eye passed to the north, and they didn't even lose power. My son, in fact, left town the day before so missed out on the 'fun'. For me and mine, all is well. For others, not so much.

Besides the folks who lost their homes and livelihoods, the whole country is going to be feeling it for a while. At the bare minimum, bananas are going to be crazily expensive again for a season or two.