Thursday, October 06, 2005

Big Weekend

It's a big weekend upon us here at Casa Tres, as Pop is arriving on Amtrak from points East in the morning. Having been 6 1/2 years since his last visit, its interesting to look back at how my life has changed in that time. Don't worry, this isn't going to be one of those lame flashback sitcom episodes presented blog style [or is it bloggie-style?]; I'll spare you the details.

O.K., just one flashback. Back in 1999, I bought a potted cactus for my patio, for the barbeque I threw for all my friends in Pop's honor. It was about 18" tall, now it is over 6' tall with big branching arms!

We will go to the Getty, go shopping, hang out, drink old fashioneds, and eat lots of really good food.

If my old man knows anything, its how to have a good time, and a good time we shall have.

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Sock Update:

Sadly, the sock didn't fit the intended foot; too short through the length of the foot. I apparently started the toe too soon. I will finish the second sock before I rip the toe and lengthen. They say your first sock is an experiment. I'm taking it in stride. Photo next week.

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In Other News:

Since I don't have any knitting photos, I'll leave you with a couple views of the construction site a week ago, with the big red clouds in the sky from all the fires in the San Fernando Valley.

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Pop isn't just coming to visit, he's coming for my birthday.

For some reason, this one isn't like the others. I'm having issues with my age. How lame is that? I know I should get over it and just get on with my life. And I do, at times, experience the pleasure of expertise that comes about from having been around the block a couple of times [especially when I'm around my students LOL]. I'm not even old, but there's something about moving past mid-30's and firmly into late 30's that has me worked up this year.

Enter, Pop: how great is it, that on the first birthday that I've ever freaked out about my age, my old man can show up and make me feel like the luckiest kid in the world?

Sunday, October 02, 2005

How Not to Learn to Kitchener

Suppose you have a sock, your first sock even, and you've been working on it for a few weeks [or a few months] and you are finally ready to graft together the toe. You've been putting it off because you've been really busy and distracted lately, and this is no longer mindless knitting. You need to sit down quietly, with a clear head, and really focus with your manual and that little tapestry needle, and learn this new technique with the funny name:


That was exactly the situation I found myself in last night. So what did I do? I followed the above instructions exactly, almost. After some pizza and wine, I got comfy on the bed, poured myself another glass, got out my knitting and my copy of Ann Budd [God Bless Ann Budd!] and popped Mary Tyler Moore Season 1 into the DVD player.

O.K., so there were a few distractions in the room. Did I mention that there were two dogs also on the bed? I gave it my best shot. Its not a difficult technique, really. But you must pay attention, and you should be willing to back up and start over if you find that you have lost your place. Otherwise, your kitchener will turn out something like this:

Bad Kitchener!

But take heart! Life is just like a TV rerun, you can always start over again the next day, almost as if nothing ever happened. Even if you've already woven in the ends. Just think of Mary Richards, out there making it on her own.

You can do it!

Behold, I give you my kitchener:

Good Kitchener!

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Arcadian Peafowl

I had two big adventures worth blogging this week.

Monday, when I got to school, I was apparently running on too little sleep and/or coffee to remember that in the morning fog [both atmospheric and cranial] I had turned my lights on. They must have lasted for a couple of hours; I've left them on for the entire duration of my piano lesson before, and my truck started right up like no problem at all. Alas, this was not the case last Monday.

Cut to the end of the day, and there I was, feeling like a total retard, asking campus police for a jump. After a bit of waiting around, they came with a battery hookup thing on wheels, fired up my old '61 Ford, and off I went.

I wanted to go to the gym on my way home, but I was afraid to turn my truck off for fear that the battery wouldn't be charged that soon. Instead, I drove East on Colorado Boulevard, curious about what lay in the lands to the East of Pasadena, having never explored that area.

Things weren't looking as interesting as I'd hoped they might. There were a couple of nice-looking older buildings to see, but nothing worth looping back around the block to photograph. After about 15 minutes of blandness that hovered between newer, boring suburban looking buildings and older, boring looking buildings, just as the sun was starting to angle low in the sky, the red generator warning light lit up my dashboard.

O.K., architecture tour over. Turn the ship around and head for home, STAT! All this driving had taken me further from home than where I'd started at school, and if I had to call AAA there would surely have been that extra mileage charge for the tow. Plus, I really didn't want to deal with more waiting around for more roadside assistance.

Just then, the landscape made an abrupt change. Dingy roadside stucco gave way to tall lush trees. The road started winding along some sort of embankment on the left, with a really lovely neighborhood on the right. CITY OF ARCADIA said the sign. The road was two lanes each way, and because of the curves I didn't feel safe making a u-turn there. I made a right into the neighborhood, to find a place to turn around.

At the first intersection I came to, the road was wide and I came about, ready to head for home, when I stopped. There were birds in the road, but not just any birds. Big birds with funny crowns on their heads.

apparently the local teenagers have it in for someone on this street

Now, I live in Highland Park, which is almost like living in Mexico. I say this not having ever lived in Mexico myself, but as I sit here writing this, I hear my nieghbor's radio blairing out that bouncy Mexican music that sounds like polka, and most of the billboards and signs in store windows around here are en espanol, not english. Where am I going with this, you ask? Here's where: I'm used to seeing chickens wandering around, even ducks. There are several yards around here with fowl of various sorts, sometimes strutting in the front yard openly, occasionally only heard from behind a fence. Once I saw beautiful, exotic looking black chickens wandering in the road on a side street near a place I like to go for coffee. I find it charming, and consider it to be one of the best assets of my nieghbors from South of the border, that they have this fondness for their birds.

I had never seen free-range peacocks on a neighborhood street. Generator light or no, I had no choice but to whip out my camera.

I guess these people take their arcadian lifestyle pretty seriously.

I remember watching David Letterman once when he had the high school champion bird callers on the show. One of them was imitating the Peafowl. He asked them to explain what bird that was. They said the female was Pea Hen, the male was Pea Cock, and the baby was Pea Chick. Somehow that fact stuck in my brain. It's a good thing it stuck, because here I was, and I actually used that information. I'm not sure whether these are hens or cocks.

This was my drive home, West back down Colorado Boulevard, into the sunset.

I made it home, and didn't have to call auto club. Now that its the weekend, I'm sure glad to add 'charging the battery on my truck' to my list of chores. I was wondering what I would do with all my spare time this weekend.

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Knitting and Architecture

Wednesday and Thursday, I took my students on a field trip to the Schindler House in West Hollywood. Schindler came to Los Angeles from Vienna, by way of Chicago, where he worked for Frank Lloyd Wright. Wright sent him to L.A. to supervise construction of the Hollyhock House. Schindler decided to stay in L.A. and set up his own practice. He built his own house in 1922, where he lived and worked until his death in 1953. The genius of the house is hard to convey in pictures or a short blog entry. For further reading, I recommend Schindler House by Kathryn Smith.

Since I had 3 hours between classes and didn't want to go all the way home in between, I brought my sock to knit:

That's the sleeping basket on the roof.

It really pained me to have to sit in the bamboo grove behind the house and contemplate Schindler's contribution to architecture while knitting Koigu on #2 bamboo needles.

The sock poses in front of Schindler's studio-room.

And here is the sock as of this morning.

I made it past the instep decrease last night. I continued the 1x1 rib down the instep and stopped it when I finished the decrease. I ended the 1x1 rib with a row of purl stitches to give it a sharper edge, which I think worked. I need to go a little further down the foot to really be able to see it.

At this point I'm basically hell-bent on finishing this thing.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Socks Ahoy!

As promised, here are picts of the socks in progress:

L to R: Trekking; Koigu

Trekking: Ready for heel flap.

Koigu: Turned the heel last night.

Did you get that?

I turned the heel last night!!!

And it worked!


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In other news

I rode my motorcycle for the first time today.

This was a weekend for firsts!

I got the motorcycle almost two years ago as a semi-disassembled bunch of parts. It turns out that my neighbor Mark has almost the identical bike. It only took us a couple of weekends to get the thing running. So yesterday, I went out and got a final, crucial piece of equipment:

See Mom? I'm being careful!

Now that the thing was running, I knew that if I didn't take decisive action, it would sit around for another couple of years before I ever got around to licensing it [or myself] and actually using it. So, Mark motored us over to a nearby empty parking lot for some riding lessons. I had a ball. I will need some practice before taking my driving test, but its not hard to handle at all.

The bike is a 1971 BMW R60/5, modeled below by the MLI Spokesdogs, P + T.

I'm really looking forward to 50 miles per gallon.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Madness I Tell You [and Hats!]

[skip to the end for knitting content]

I just came up for air and realized there was a blog needing some attention, not that there are any readers left at this point.

I have started my new job, teaching drawing at a local community college. Back in late June I reported on this as an upcoming big life change, which was an understatement.

The way the community college system is set up, teaching three classes is considered a full load for faculty. I don't know about other universities or school systems. Anyway, I was assigned to teach two sections of first-semester drawing class, and one section of second semester [for the students who started last semester or took last semester off, etc.] These three classes together are actually slightly more than a full-time assignment, and I am on what's called an overload schedule. Not overtime, mind you, but overload.

Well, they also had a third section of the first-semester class with no teacher and no ideas about who to hire. So, with the promise of an additional [but as-yet unspecified] amount of overload pay on top of my pre-existing overload, I agreed to take that class too, for a total of 4 classes with about 110 students. I have consequently been up to my eyeballs in class prep and field trip organizing.

Practicing piano? Oh, that thing I pass several times each morning and evening as I move around the house for a couple hours changing clothes and brushing my teeth? Hahahaha. Poor neglected piano.

Dogs? Poor P + T now have the excitement of Sandy the Dog Walker who stops by on Tuesday and Thursday when I'm at night class to feed them and take them around the block.

I even missed the big power outage the other day. I only barely heard about it on the news, but Crazy Aunt Purl has a great account of it here. Apparently the campus has backup power or gets their power from someone else, and/or doesn't bother telling faculty when stuff like this goes down.

In other news, I saw a plant bloom that I'd never seen before. You know those weird house plants called Mother-In-Law's Tongue? I'm plant-sitting some for my friend Dino, and low and behold, it bloomed:

At first I thought it was a weed. Then I realized it was attached to the rest of the plant.

Also, my little sister Allison has launched her website, amid much excitement and fanfare. Go check her out. Fabulous is an understatement with her.

Knitting News:

Well, there is some interesting stuff to report, and my special apologies to knitting readers for the extended absence.

Tune in towards the end of the weekend for pictures, I promise.

Trekking Sock #1 is about 25% done, I am about to start the heel flap.

Koigu Sock #1 is into the heel flap, maybe 30% done.

And, 2 [can you believe it?] new Local Yarn Shops have cropped up.

LYS #1 is That Knitting Store in Eagle Rock that opened recently, and is truly local to my house. Got the needles for Koigu Sock #1 there. Review to follow.

LYS #2 is Skein in Pasadena. Very good selection of sock yarn, including Trekking, but no Koigu. More details about this place to follow too. I want to visit the LYSs again before I publish my reviews.

Cheers for now; I'm off to class!

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Summer Travels

[I'm resisting a strong urge to rant but I really don't want to start off that way. So here are some fun and beautiful things instead:]

Hats I Knit on the Plane for my Nieces

You can read more about the family visit over at Emily's blog. There's a pic of me in action with needles in hand. After I dropped off the gift hats to the girls, followed by a spirited teaching of the card game "Go Fish" to my little 5-year old nephew [its clear that my avuncular mind powers and influence are taking hold BWA HA HA HA HA] it was time to get on with the real purpose of my trip:

The Rest of the Week in New York with Phideaux!

We had a glorious time, and it was especially fun due to the fact that Downtown Yarns is around the corner from his apartment.

I brought that thrift-store fantasia tweed yarn on the plane, and the freindly and helpful girl at DY helped me pick burgundy nature wool to go with it, which worked beautifully, shown in swatch below:

They have the Sweater Wizard computer program there, and she worked up a cardigan pattern for me for free! So, here is the WIP:

If I'm lucky, it might come off the needles in time for late winter.

Also on the needles:

I'm Goin' Trekking!

short socks in Trekking #100

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

I'm Back with Pictures

Hi Friends!

I'm back with great news: I'm going to be teaching drawing full-time at a local city college starting in the fall.

Here's how it happened:

The beginning of the summer turned out to be extremely difficult and demanding on me, for a variety of reasons. Then, I saw a light at the end of the tunnel. It wasn't the end of the tunnel after all, and it wasn't an oncoming train either. It was a guy with a flashlight, looking for something.

"What are you looking for?" I asked.

"I'm looking for someone to teach drawing to a bunch of kids at city college this fall. Know anyone who can do that?"

"Yep," I replied, "look no further, I'm your man."

And that was pretty much it.

Changes are afoot! This is a big step for me. I've taught before but never full-time.


Meanwhile, I got to spend a recent afternoon driving around Chicago.

I made a pilgrimage stop at Frank Lloyd Wright's Robie House on the South side of town.

If you think its hard to assemble a composite photo, try doing one of a Frank Lloyd Wright house! Not easy.

This one is a rough draft.

So I'm back. Sorry about the long absence.