Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween 2007

It was a dark and scary night and spooky sounds filled the sky.
We had a lot of fun decorating our houses but most all just being kids again. Oh no did somebody eat too much candy??? Oh well there's always at least one puking pumpkin on Halloween.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Fire Damage

As I continue to clean and unpack my house from the fire I have uncovered some distrubing damage to my house.

1. Last night as I was knitting I began to feel a throbbing pain in my right hand. Although I ignored the voice of pain for an hour longer, believing that I only had a few more rows to finish in order to finally complete the sleeves, I knew that something was very wrong. When I did put away my knitting my hand still hurt. I didn't think it was possible to have a knitting injury. Knitting isn't a dangerous craft - although those double pointed needles do look like medieval weapons. Knitting was fun, knitting was enjoyable, knitting for three hours straight was painful. Yes it was true I had managed to steal away for 3 hours and knit. This is not normally possible. I am in big demand at my house. Many, many important calls to answer (Mom I'm hungry and Mom I'm bored) many, many important things to do (dishes, laundry, shopping blahblahblahhhh) and many, many important appointments (take Brian to the dentist, pick-up carpool, help in classroom). How could I have possible been able to knit for 3 hours? My only conclusion was it was because of the fire. Since I couldn't get outside I have been stuck inside my house and in my sadness I had turned to knitting for comfort. The fire had caused my knitting injury.

2. Earlier that same day I was sorting some cans in my pantry when I came across the bag of Halloween candy. I bought a bag of candy at Costco two weeks ago. 150 pieces of candy; snickers, almond joy, twix, hersheys, peanut M&M's (the good stuff) and now I could only find maybe 30 pieces left. How could this have possibly happened, especially since I have a very strict policy about not opening the bag of candy until Halloween. My children did not know where the candy stash had been hidden, so I could only conclude that somehow I had managed to eat 120 pcs ?? of candy (they were bite size). Again my mind raced to the fire as the true cause of the missing candy. Since I could not get out of the house and go anywhere I had in my sadness turned to candy for comfort. The Halloween candy was gone because of the fire.

Although many of these conclusions may not seem viable to the ordinary person I feel completely comfortable with them. The lesson to be learned is; If you can't go anywhere don't have candy or yarn in your house. Well maybe don't have a lot of candy or yarn in your house. Or maybe have a fire alarm go off when you knit too much or eat too much candy. Yeah that's the moral; always check your fire alarm to be sure it's working.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Old Winery Road

This is a picture of my friend Connie's house. It was destroyed in the fire on Monday.

This past summer she happily shared with friends her new pool, backyard dining area with fireplace, and drought tolerant landscaping. They bought so much artificial turf that it was cheaper for them to become dealers. She also won an award for her creative and extensive use of drought tolerant plants. When I visited her she showed me her garden. Her husband brought in mushroom mulch - very rich in nutrients and the result was amazing. Corn, tomatoes, squash, onions, leeks, cucumbers and every plant heavy with vegetables. I took home bags of tomatoes, leeks, and cucumbers. The fresh taste from the salad I made with those vegetables still lingers. They had never had a garden before.

Connie was smart. She packed the pictures, clothes, papers... the usual stuff and when she ran out of room in her car she put her china on the bottom of the pool. As I pondered this clever option I began to wonder what else could be hidden from the fire. Could I use Space Bags and stow clothes (anchored of course), or maybe computers (they have lots of important files). That's when I grew very sad, because what I really wish is that I could hide my house, on the bottom of the pool, nothing else matters.
This is a view of Connie's backyard. It's an old picture. When I was there the land was completely cleared. Connie told me that the landowner had bulldozed all the brush. He wanted to keep it clear in case of a fire. For as far as I could see in almost every direction there were no trees or dry bushes. Her backyard had been as well prepared as possible and yet her house burned down.

Today I morn the loss of my friend Connie's house and home, but I honor her courage, strength and creativity and I pray for her future.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Home Sweet Home

Today is a wonderful day. My house has been spared from the fire. A fire that destroyed 1300 homes and burned 300,000 acres. We were on mandatory evacuation orders for three days. Monday night we took shifts monitoring the news throughout the night. I had the 2am to 5am shift. Which is fine because I usually wake-up around 2'ish - but I don't usually watch T.V. I almost bought a steam mop, a revolutionary anti-aging cream and the red exercise chair fortunately my hands were too occupied with my knitting ("Isadora") so I never made it to the phone. Oh well I'll just have to wait until those goodies come to the dollar store.
After spending the night with the news I was sleepy but determined to find out about the status of my parents home. They left Sunday night and had heard from a neighbor that the tree in front of his house was on fire. I drove over to RB but had no luck getting past the barricades. Police cordoned off every possible road into the area. I then parked and found a group of people milling around the parking lot across from the barricades. I started asking questions. Everyone was so willing to talk. No one really knew anything about Oaks North the area where my parents live. I spent about 45 minutes talking and left with water and two brownies that Souplantation left for residents.
My house, patio, walkways and yard are covered in soot and dirt. I swept the patio today, thinking that I was pushing the ashes of someones home or favorite belonging into my dust pan. The story is so sad. I thank God that we were spared, this time. I have big plans for next time. There will be another fire and I am going to ready. For now I am extremely thankful to have a house, a bed, a car and friends and family.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Fire in San Diego

This is a picture of my backyard. Beyond the pergola there are stairs that lead upto the top of the yard and the mountain. As you can see the sky is smoky.

Yesterday a fire started in Ramona (an area about 10 miles from my home) and because of the dry air, high winds (Santa Anna) and dry brush, the fire has spread rapidly and burned all night and all day. At 10 o'clock last night we got a call from the school announcing that it would be closed on Monday. In San Diego the kids don't have snow days they have fire days. They are home making gas masks out of water bottles, paper towels and rubber bands.

They actually work!
At about 9am this morning we got an automated call from the CDF that we should prepare to be evacuated. We loaded the car but we haven't left. It's an horrible feeling to be in limbo and completely helpless. Then again those are the components of most of lifes days.
There is absolutely nothing that I can do, except Pray. Dear God please stop the wind now.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Learning Curve

When my son saw me knitting with my new double pointed needles
he said, " Mom I don't think you have the experience points to use those weapons". 12 year olds often speak using gaming language. I laughed at the time but I'm not anymore. I have a new appreciation for all you knitters who can knit in the round with double pointed needles. I now know how very complicated it is to try to knit around all those needles, not get your yarn tangled up and not drop a stitch (which is death to the project because I can't pick-up a dropped stitch. I tried Knit Picks tutorial but ... I can't do it) I have spent a week trying, desperately trying to master the technique but - I GIVE UP.
I have unraveled my knitting so many times that I can't imagine that I will ever be able to make a sleeve - and then I have to knit the other sleeve. So, I have resorted to two things -

1. I will knit the sleeve and then sew the seams. I don't know why avoiding seams is such a big deal ( I hope I don't find out later what a mistake I made).

2. I will rename "Tubey" because it is no longer a series of three tubes.

Now I am struggling to find an appropriate name. I don't want it to be project #2 or "B". It needs to be a strong name, but not typical. A pretty name, but not too cutesy. An easy to pronounce name, but not boring. Throwing all that criteria into the bag and giving this the full two minutes of time that it deserves...

From this day forward "Tubey" shall be named, Isadora. As in, Isadora Duncan the famous modern dancer who rejected traditional ballet because she needed to break the rules in order to express herself.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

7 year old sings National Anthem - Anthony Gargiula

My 7 year old can't sing like this boy but he does the same dance.

Monday, October 15, 2007

The Butterworth Dance Company

It was a special treat to have a night out with my daughter and we went to what she thought was the ballet. She is taking a ballet class and her teacher -Travis Butterworth urged everyone to go see his show and so we went. The California Center for Arts in Escondido is only a short trip from my house but when the house lights went down I was visually, mentally and emotionally transported miles and miles away. It was as if my spirit had been reawaken from a very deep sleep. I watched the young dancers move across the black stage infused by the bright lights and energized with music. Fun music that I have never heard; opera, rap, disco, and folk it was all there and the dancers moved their bodies in ways that were definitely not ballet. Beautifully bending and posing to the notes with athletic like bodies and costumes that swayed with their movements. I loved it. I remembered the countless hours I spent in ballet class, practising plies and jetes. I longed to escape once more into the practise hall with my leotards, tights and slippers. I would turn the music up high and let my spirit be the choreographer. But those days are gone and tonight was a chance to appreciate dance. During intermission I wandered the foyer to examine the silent auction items. I usually never bid but tonight was different. I picked up the pen and wrote my name down and bid and ... I won.
I won five Belly dancing classes. I am still smiling and I can't wait to start my lessons.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Taking care of Business

This weeks PSA is all about taking care of the details. If you see a mysterious crack on a beam that say might hold up your entire house have it checked out right away. Just call a termite company or two (if your in San Diego I can make a recommendation) and then schedule an appointment to have it repaired. I didn't have termites, I have dry rot damage which is a testimony to getting a good paint job. Of course the damage was on the highest most in accessible part of my roof.
Things you shouldn't do -
1. Don't let your husband try to convince you that he can do it by himself.
2. Don't wait nine months and have nightmares about your roof caving in during the middle of the night while it's raining.
3. Don't pretend it's not really a problem and that your seeing things.
Today I am smiling because -
1. I took care of business
2. I didn't let my husband try to kill himself in order to save some money
3. I will sleep well tonight ( as good as any insomniac)
If you have lived in your house for more than two years, call a termite company for a free inspection. Termites once they have established residence can travel upto a foot a year. If they find some good tastey wood they don't move around much, so you can usually just have that spot treated. In the end it will cost you a lot less to have it done today.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Happiness Project

I stumbled across this web site by the grace of God I think and I find it absolutely delightful. I actually smile when I read through the postings. The author Gretchen Ruben is, "working on a book, THE HAPPINESS PROJECT--a memoir about the year I spent test-driving every principle, tip, theory, and scientific study I could find, whether from Aristotle or St. Therese or Martin Seligman or Oprah. THE HAPPINESS PROJECT will gather these rules for living and report on what works and what doesn’t. On this daily blog, I recount some of my adventures and insights as I grapple with the challenge of being happier".
Now I'm a person who can get depressed from all the demands of motherhood, career and marriage to name a few. I've often watched people who always seemed happy. I'm sure you know someone who is always smiling and ready to give a hug. I know they have many of the same problems I do, maybe more, but there they are always smiling. There must be a bright spot on their DNA because it truly seems happiness comes to them naturally.
I want to be happy so I seek out people, places and things that will help me change my attitude, I always say, "It's all in the way you look at it".
The Happiness Project has been a wonderful resource for me to turn to. Check it out and smile :)

Here is something to smile about, my family and although everyone isn't smiling in the picture (frowning teenager at the far left) it makes me smile to remember that beautiful day on the beach.

My favorite quote for today -What a wonderful life I’ve had! I only wish I’d realized it sooner.” Colette

Thank you to -
My manager for cancelling our coaching session because she is sick.
Colleen for calling me to say she was in the area and could pick-up the kids from school.
Natalie for offering to take over the e-mailing projects for our kids second grade.
My Mom for looking for cars for me.
And to you ...

Monday, October 8, 2007

Andrew's New Smile

Teenagers don't usually smile very much. More often than not they moan and groan, mumble and sneer, but Andrew my fourteen year old is smiling to show off his new teeth without braces. Today we went to the dentist and Andrew Got His Braces Off!!!
I think they look great but then again I have paid the price for those straight teeth to the tune of $2500 and countless trips to the dentist. Unlike most Mothers who just sit in the waiting room I joined my son in a nearby chair to have my braces adjusted during most of his visits. I have braces too. Andrew and I got braces at about the same time, only he needed a special expander appliance installed on the roof of his mouth. I got a six week head start but my progress has been slower because I had four teeth pulled. Andrew made steady progress and in just about 26 months he now has perfectly straight teeth. I still have braces on and the dentist can't even make a guess when I'll be ready. I have stubborn teeth (I should have guessed) and they move slow.
Andrew has been enjoying his freedom. He loves to slide his tongue across his teeth and look at them in the mirror. Today at the dinner table he explained how much more room he has in his month now that the braces are gone. He has also enjoyed teasing both me and his brother who also has braces(we got the family plan for three members) His favorite taunt is to smile really wide and ask me to tell him if I can see anything stuck in between his teeth. Ha Ha.
Congratulations Andrew I am very happy for you. You will soon forget the agony of the braces but you'll enjoy the benefits of a beautiful smile for the rest of your life and you can thank me for that.


New yarn and a new day. Today I began work on "Tubey". I have learned that projects have names. Cable sweater was actually called, "Boogie". Evidently I don't pick projects with very pretty names.
The first step is a provisional cast-on. It seems so simple to make a single crochet chain and then knit a row into it. I can do that. The hard part is being able to pull the chain out from the knitted stitches. They don't come out; the first time or the second or the third. I tried a bigger crochet hook, thinking that the stitches were too tight - that didn't work and I think I would have thrown off the gauge if I had continued. My instructions said, "Using waste yarn..." not knowing exactly what that was I used the same thread. I'm very happy I took that thread out because it would have been a nightmare to try to separate the crochet from the knit. I then remembered my dear friends, Knit Picks, and followed their tutorial, using a contrasting thread (that's actually what waste thread means - contrasting)and the result is that I can see the cast-on from the knit stitches, but I still can't separate the stitches. Everytime I try to pull the thread it gets stuck and knots. At this point I yearn for the knitting fairy (aka Yarnhog) but she has a big deadline for Icarus - nice name. There has got to be a better way!!
Well the virtual knitting fairy came to the rescue (yes that's the yarnhog) her post about provisional cast-on's gave me the details and pictures to try another way. I worked that method for over an hour and it works, sorta of. The cast-on does easily pull out but the knitted stitches on it were too loose for me so I resorted to the single crochet chain. I may hate myself later but in the mean time,
here's "Tubey"

Notice the circular needles. I'm moving up.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007


I finally managed to go out with cable sweater again and it was as good as the day we first met. But this wasn't knitting it was sewing and I didn't know what I was doing - it's my first time!!! Thank you Knit Picks for the wonderful step-by-step details on the mattress stitch. I finished seaming the sweater. Then I did a single crochet (twice because the first time was too tight) around the sleaves and the neck and now modeling her first wearable knitted vest.....

But is it really done? Look closer... See all the strings ... Yes it's true I still have to weave all the threads in.

But I couldn't wait to see if it fit (A gauge is only a gauge, you never really know until it's done) And, what it looked like, especially since I was beginning to think it should be used as a rag. And now that I've entered this pseudo finished stage I wonder how many knitters out there wear almost finished projects (I call them AFO'S but I think they are really WIP's). All you have to do is carefully tuck in the strings and your good. No Problem. Or is it like those tags at the back of shirts that almost always seem to be sticking out no matter how carefully we tuck them under. Will the strings resurface and tease people to pull on them? Will people begin to think that I am unraveling?, I mean my sweater.
Why are there so many strings? The vest has two side seams and two shoulder seams but I think I count 16 strings. Is this common? Weaving in threads is really tedious work. I am a new knitter but I can easily see a business opportunity for those who love to weave. Kinda like companies that do quilting for quilters. Or do I just find a local knitting pal who say doesn't like to sew but loves to weave????
I promise to finish weaving the threads. But I hear that it takes a long time and I'm really anxious to cast on my new silky blue yarn and break in my first circular needles. ARRG
Things I learned knitting this project -
1. Knitters are perfectionist. Re-doing, taking out, and starting over until it's right no matter how many times it takes is common practise.
2. It's a lot more fun to start a project then it is to finish it.
Ironically, I finished my sweater on a day when it's 85 degrees in San Diego.