Sunday, December 23, 2012


Isn't she pretty? I haven't seen a dawn for a long time. I'm not a morning person. But I got up early to go to the DMV to get a new driver's license.

Unfortunately, this was Thursday. And Friday, the day of our flight to visit my family in Utah for Christmas, was wet, windy, and bad enough weather that SFO cancelled a hundred flights, ours included. Seeing as it was the 21st, there wasn't anything unbooked for a 250 mile radius (ok, 1 seat on a flight out of Fresno... a 3 hour drive away).

I did a quick check into driving, but the same storm causing problems was also dumping heavy snows in the Sierras. Love Monkey says they've since closed that freeway. I've learned my lesson, don't fly in or out of SFO for anything time-dependent.

So. Christmas at home. Which I usually vastly prefer (mmm, not a fan of airports, especially during busy seasons) but there is that still-moving-in-feel here. We're still coping with reducing Box Mountain.

That's my living room. It's gotten slightly better since then.

Although we just unearthed a box of the Love Monkey's old Star Wars toys.

The Rancor says that in this season of sugared goodies, please remember the importance of oral hygiene.

The Rancor also knows how to party.

Holiday season, an excellent time to devour fruity drinks and tootsie rolls.

Monday, December 17, 2012

The other M

I'm not so good at keeping track of days lately. Witness that I should be doing last minute Christmas shopping that I'm not doing. I'm just having trouble summoning up the enthusiasm to care much. I like giving gifts to people, but I am so done with deadlines for this year.

The house is sold! We are moved. We are all urban 'n' crap now, and I still have a mountain of boxes of stuff to get rid of. It's putting a damper on the whole moving-into-a-new-place thing.

It has been nice weather until just last week, and we've had a couple weekends in all the craziness to play tourist a little. I tell everyone I think I have climate jet lag, because it really, REALLY doesn't feel like December. Then again, there's a reason there's palm trees growing here.

This is the Car, all loaded up before I drove down the last time. On the trip I took to calling it Toronado, as I was listening to Zorro by Isabelle Allende on CD most of the way down.

No, that wasn't everything left. I seem to think I can bend the laws of space and time when I move. Not so much. I could have fit more in here (just take everything out of boxes and you get rid of all that pesky empty space. The whole car rattled) but I was already running very late and needed to get on the road. Here it is at the Vallejo rest stop, right before the descent into Bay Area Rush Hour Traffic Hell.

Frances is acclimating better than I am, but she doesn't have to order any Christmas presents for any nieces and nephews. Hmph. She's instead hanging out on the balcony, enjoying some sunshine.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

M is definitely for MUM

I am really a poor planner. Or maybe an unfortunate optimist. I always think I'll have 3 or 4 times the amount of time to do things that I actually do. Or maybe I think I'm superwomen and can complete everything faster than everyone else!

Yeah, not so much. But some of my ridiculousness at least had a pretty payoff.
Remember these?:

They look like this now:

River City


St Tropez

Some of them went from tight buds to HOLY COW in about a week. The big shaggy purple ones are as big as softballs.

October, and pretty much all of this month has been one big blur. We put the house up for sale, after spackling, painting, refinishing, scraping, sweeping, washing, and so many other -ings. I had no idea it'd be much work, and I didn't even do most of it, thank the contractors for that.

The house is old: 1925, so almost 90. They built it well, but there's so many things that deteriorate over time. Not to mention the weird/unfortunate/bizarre choices of later owners.  I stayed up most of the night before the indoor painters came, pulling screws out of the walls, taking down the old crappy mirror in the bedroom and the horrible old shades from the windows, and washing all the walls and woodwork. Again with the WHY DID I NEVER DO THIS BEFORE. I shouldn't be so surprised that the windows look a million times better without the old yellowing cheap venetian blinds.

And then the waiting. The angsting. Honestly I was so exhausted from all the work and stress that I didn't much care for the first week after. It was a relief to just go to regular work and have a desk job. Then we drove the cat down to California (oh was THAT a fun time. Don't worry, we all survived and she seems to be settling in nicely), and I couldn't do anything from 800 miles away for a week.

Road to California
(it doesn't look anything like the quilt block. Different road.)

But maybe there's an end in sight now. And I am right terrified of the home inspection, which is Tomorrow. Terrified for no good reason, of course. My anxious brain is trying to raise my blood pressure by about 40 points, never mind that logically, there is crap all that I can do about it.

I am back in Portland, which is doing its full-on soggy Fall impression, to get rid of the last of the Stuff. Oh so much stuff. And the new place is full of stuff, too. Argggh. I never thought about having to cope with things like getting rid of the hedge pruners and the brooms and about a billion pots full of potting soil. My friends have been wonderful, helping us out so much. But still with the stuff.

When was the last time you emptied out your fridge?

Anyway, I need to go do yoga to calm down that BP and get dressed and then ditch more stuff. Just wanted to check in. I'm still alive, we're almost done, and I am very, very lucky. Also, I have too much stuff.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

This Wednesday Freakout not being brought to you by the letter M

The landscapers are here to fix all the problems I have not dealt with for years. And to hopefully work magic on my crappy looking backyard that I just covered with pots instead of coping with.

I have to keep remembering, it's not my house (or yard) any more. It's just a commodity to sell. Movers come Friday.  Electrician tomorrow, contractors all this week. Painters Saturday or Monday. Refinishers in a week and a half. Plumbers already came in and put in a brand new shiny water heater. Why did I wait so long do that?

I went and bought new light fixtures for the bedrooms to replace the lovely 80s fan-lights (with tassels!)

Wouldn't this look awesome in the bedroom? Sadly, I went with something more prosaic.

And realtor yesterday and the tentative put-on-market date is now the 22nd. Gak. I don't know if I can do this. The house (except the rooms that are completely empty because of the contractors) is like an episode of hoarders:  narrow walkways between piles of Stuff everywhere.

Here's the moral today: If there something you want to do to your place of living, and you can afford it, DO IT NOW. Don't wait. I will never get to enjoy the newly painted walls or the lack of shiny sparkly popcorn ceilings.

And a lesson for me: think before you buy. Will you use it? Is it worth the space it will take up in your home and your head?

They have a chainsaw. Hold me.

Monday, September 24, 2012

L is easy

Lobelia! And lithodora (the flowers are just as blue, but instead it's a perennial and it doesn't bloom for long. I keep getting the names mixed up)

More lobelia, some kind of double this time. Look, it's been a few years since I grew this.
It's time for my Monday freakout. Perhaps I should start self-medicating with alcohol now.  I have less than 2 weeks and some rooms look like a windstorm came through. A very selective one that threw away a bunch of non-working pens and cleaned out the desk.

This week will also be contractor hell as they come in and rip up the carpets, scrape off the ceilings, and recaulk and grout in the bathroom. Current plan is to sleep on the futon; not sure how or where we will fit the mattresses and box springs in the front room. Fortunately I have a wonderful friend with a strong teenage son who needs cash so I don't also have to be freaking out AND throw my back out. I just need to make his life easier by moving all the plants and books and junk out of/off of furniture.

I have a really strong urge to bake cookies right now. Hey, I had something nutritious for dinner last night: broccoli! OK, it was raw, and dipped in cheese dip, but it could be worse. And then there's the asiatic lilies. How can you resist this face?

You know what's sad? Finding a box of your old floppy disks. At least it's harder to be sentimental about hunks of plastic. I also found a box of old letters and I just closed that one back up and ignored it. I can deal with that later. Also why the hell didn't I sell ALL my textbooks back when I had the chance?

 There's also the callas:

I did have a partial day off Saturday, going off to commune with the alpacas and llamas and sheepies at the Oregon Flock & Fiber Festival. It was, as it has been every damn year I've gone, gorgeous weather: sunny and like the air was just honey-colored. Although sadly my usual OFFF partner in crime was laid up (literally) after knee surgery and couldn't make it. :(

Back to work (whipcrack)

Monday, September 17, 2012

Keep Kalmia

I'm really not sure how it became mid-September.
I better hurry up, I'm running out of year.

This is my late, lamented Kalmia (Mountain Laurel) in spring bloom. It was another of the All Pink All The Time shrubs in the backyard: pink roses, pink rhododendrons, pink kalmia. Oh, and a lilac, but I think that got added later on.

The blossoms are pretty and unusual. Right before they open they look like little lanterns to me.

Cookie says I am not allowed to fall apart until after the move. I have a date for the movers now, which is coming up in just a few weeks, and I am not taking the stress well. Also there is much headdesk and facepalm with some of my coworkers today and ongoing. Others of them are so great I don't want to leave. I don't know when I'll be able to dye again, so I'm using it for my pretty much only creative outlet right now. Which would be going better but I'm trying to dye a special request and I'm not getting the colors right at all. Aggh. Back to the dye pots. But I am running out of time.

Look at me and my first world problems. We even have (hoorah!) full service movers coming, who will box up all my crap and lovingly carry it on their laps to my beautiful new empty apartment so it can get filled with my crap.  Current plan is to sequester Frances the cat and everything that is not going (clawed-up old couch, old Ikea chairs, silly old antique vanity I once bought on an ill-advised whim) in one of the bedrooms and tell them to have at all the rest of the house. Then when it all arrives up to 2 weeks later (WTF movers, what are you doing in all that time?), to drive Cancer Kitty Who Cannot Fly Because She Can't Have A Rabies Shot It Will Kill Her. Did I mention how much my cat detests the car? I can't really blame her, as it's associated with really horrible things in her past. 11 hours of sad cat wailing. I cannot wait.

I am going to be having a massive yarn sale on Rav. If you want, I'll keep you posted, it'll be Any Day Now (tm). I have a couple of huge boxes full to sell, and I'm not even done sifting yet. I try to be ruthless, but it's not a skill at which I excel. I just feel like such a loser, having acquired all this and never even used it. I keep trying to think that it doesn't matter, it's a mistake in the past, I don't have to continue this way, but I need more yoga or meditation or something because detachment is difficult.

I have one sad set of boring socks on the active needles (that don't see much action). I need something more distracting but not too distracting. The latest lace project was perfect, just enough of a mix of interesting but repetitious. I need to block it and pictures, ha, I'm only a couple years behind on those.

Time to end this pitious party and go to bed. I'll end with my little snail friend, who although he has munched through most of my hostas is still cute.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

I have no pictures of jasmine

And I've never been fond of the name "Johnny Jump-ups"
So instead you get to see my own private preparation against the zombie apocalypse

The variety is called Sunspot and it's like a little baby sunflower (although strangely this guy is easily 3.5 feet tall, not 24") It's growing in a pot. Don't worry, flamingos don't like sunflowers.

But bees do. They like the echinacea too. I am appreciating their attentions because it means my cukes and peppers and tomatoes are getting the bee benefit too. (Grumble, the STILL GREEN tomatoes.)

Still trying to not freak out. Too many things to do. Too much to get rid of. Why did I ever get it all in the first place? Things are so comforting some times. Things are tangible artifacts of a time and place, and the memories associated with that.  But they are not people and they're not that time/place either.

Crazy Aunt Purl once had a post that I cannot find right now about things (actually, many posts about things, and they are all good); it was about how she bought things but never had time to actually enjoy them. It was like she was visiting her things on the weekends. This excellently sums up much of my behavior. When I buy things to make myself feel better, I usually end up visiting those things later. I'm tired of not having thing enjoyment, only acquisition.

Maybe this is to say I'm going to be having an enormous yarn sale Real Soon Now. Actually, it's probably going to be a big blowout crafty sale, because I don't just have a yarn stash, oh no. I think I can safely say my marbling days are over, though (fun, but messy).

And, I've been traveling a lot (sigh) and every time I fly on Alaska I laugh at this safety card picture.

Flying lady! Watch those heels!

Monday, August 20, 2012


I couldn't think of a good pun today.
These are irises from the Japanese Garden.

Today was roof day, aka scrape all the moss off so we don't look completely negligent. I didn't do this myself, as I was so anxious last weekend my body decided to take over and put the brain in its place and I hurt my back again. Don't worry, it's wasn't that painful, and it's healing, especially with all the damn stretching and yoga I do. Also it worked, and I calmed down. But I still don't really recommend that kind of treatment.

I seem to have nothing to say unless it's about plants or yarn. SO FASCINATING, I KNOW. Now that Yarn Deadline has been met, there is now looming Get Rid Of Stuff Deadline and Call ALL the Contractors Deadline.

Work is driving me batty. And it is not anything that can be fixed by talking to anyone, so my tongue is aching because of the biting. But it's still the last bit of summer, and I'm relishing it, even the 102 degree weather. It  doesn't last long (2 days. Don't judge; I have no air conditioning) and it helps me remember summer when it's cold and miserable outside. Also I enjoy not having to wear sleeves all the time. San Francisco is going to be a bit trying on that front. We'll see. Time to go treat myself to something takeout, as I cannot face another veggie burger from the freezer tonight.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Don't worry be hydrangea

I may have a tiny bit of a "hydrangea problem", as my friends with cameras call it. Mine are almost all blue; we have very acidic soil here, as the constant rains wash out most of the whatever ups the pH and dissolve a lot of things like carbonates in the soil. Good for blueberries and blue hydrangeas. The only pink one is one in a pot I have, and it is slowly going purple.

This week. 

Let me try again. This week, this month, this summer, has been high up on the crazy-o-meter. I should stop being coy about this.
This picture is more iconic, but I'd argue that mine was more accurate, at least in the summer.

We are moving to San Francisco.

Yes, the city. We figured if we're going to all the bother to move to the Bay Area, we might as well try the urban thing out before we're too old & crochety to appreciate it.

So we've been traveling down trying to get an idea of where we might want to live, checking out the neighborhoods and what's scary and what's walkable, and so many other things. We did finally find a place to rent, and now my anxiety needle has almost hit the far right end of the dial worrying that everything will work out with the deposit and the rent and everything. I am trying hard not to worry about it. It isn't working. My, it's another hydrangea picture!

Also, I am Ms. September Dyer in the Twisted Shawlette Club, and I am running around in full beheaded chicken mode dyeing and skeining and labeling. I've been out of town frequently so I've had a less not-at-the-regular-job time to complete them. I am almost done. I hope that everyone likes the color; I think the design is beautiful. Of course I am afraid I will get publicly stoned because everyone will despise the colorway. Because that's how my brain works. Thanks, brain.

Why look, a Fall hydrangea (they fade gradually to pink & brown)

I will miss Portland a lot. I will miss my garden and my plants (I can't take any of them with me. California has very strict import rules because of all the agriculture). I will miss the fine beer and the biking without many hills unless I want them, the lovely calm neighborhood, the bursts of sweetness that are Portland like Sunday Parkways and Mill Ends Park. I will miss the warm-hot summer months and the fresh raspberries and blueberries and blackberries, the farmers market I can walk to, which is currently selling me fresh cherries and blueberries and peaches. Damn, I will miss all the great yarn stores and fabric stores.

That said, I'm anticipating all the new things I can find and experience. And I think that for me it's good to shake things up sometimes, try something new. (Frances does not agree but she doesn't know about it yet. urk. Not looking forward to transporting her.)

But meantime my head is trying to worry itself into fine little confetti pieces. Time to try more distractions. Come hell or hibiscus.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Genuine Geranium

These are geranium macrorrhizum, aka "big root" geranium (heh, go go gadget latin name).  They are a total workhorse: drought tolerant, take partial shade, and produce pretty flowers. These filled in from about 6 plants in 2 seasons.

Plus my late, lamented gardenia. The scent of the flowers use to perfume the whole room.

Hooray, it's finally decided to be summer here. A whole week and a half of sunny days (well, at least after noon). Tomorrow I don't know. Thunderstorms they say, maybe? Which means a couple of bolts, and some rumbling off in the distance. Perhaps.  Portland isn't really geographically conducive to thunderstorms.

I seem to have planted All The Things this year. Because of the new fence, we had to rip out some the perennials right next to the fence line. It's a big bare area now, and I decided to hell with it, this it the year I would plant sunflowers. I have never grown sunflowers before. I'm a little excited. I know, doesn't take much, does it?

Otherwise most of my free time right now is sucked up by dyeing. I am Ms. September in the Twisted Shawlette Club this year. I'm excited about it, and my (completely unbiased) opinion is that the pattern is lovely. I sure hope people like the yarn. I'm certainly fond of it (I better be, dyeing up this much).

I'd like to write something profound, or even interesting, but it's not happening tonight.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Foxglove for the Win

I was going to write this weeks ago but then Carole beat me to the punch. It's a foxglove conspiracy.
 I'm feeling irritated tonight because I'm trying to use my library's downloadable audiobook system for the first time. I have avoided it because... oh, because these things tend to be a huge pain in the ass to use. They spend so much time on DRM stuff and lending periods and allowed users that nobody pays much attention to, oh, usability or piddly things like that. And guess what? It IS a huge pain in the ass to use. So much so that now it's 1 1/2 hours later and I'm bailing on this. I want to get sleep tonight.   
 Big changes coming. I am sad, and anxious, and a little excited. No, I am NOT pregnant. YES, the Love Monkey is still around and kicking. Meanwhile I have to go fly to Illinois for a funeral. Heaven help the TSA if they decide that this is the one time I can't take my knitting needles.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Echinacea for the soul

I believe I've showed off the purple coneflowers before. When I lived in Seattle, people often grew these in their between-sidewalk-and-road plantings and I much admired them. I've got a couple clumps there myself now. They hang in there, year after year, despite the thick grungy clay soil and the fact I barely water them over the summer. When they bloom, I suddenly want a whole meadow of them.

Not I'm eyeballing some others or anything.

The to-do list is piling up again and staring hard at me, but hey, I got 4 (4! important!) things done on it today. I feel as if I'm running out of time. What is it I'm doing right now? What if I'm dying, what if I keel over tomorrow? Am I doing the now things I would really want to be doing? Why am I so stuck in regrets? Is this a midlife crisis? If I've got as long as my Dad, then I'm already past halfway. Sorry to be morbid. Then again, Mom is doing fine. She keeps saying she'll come visit and stain my fence. And I keep replying, you don't have to stain my fence to visit.

Maybe that's what the plants are for. It helps to stop and marvel at the small, amazing, incredibleness of them.

Too bad I can't bring myself to admire the small, amazing, incredibleness of mosquitos.

Sunday, June 03, 2012


I didn't grow this one; just took the picture. I think dahlias are gorgeous, but they are too much work for me. Not really into digging up bulbs (says the person with a dozen mum babies that need to be pinched and fertilized and sung to softly)

 Also, does anyone need any daylilies? Because I divided this clump and now I've got extras and they're all growing and healthy. I've never divided daylilies before. You have to just cut right through the big clump of root; just saw it apart. I thought for sure I'd killed them, but no, all of them not only survived, but thrived (stayin' alive! purple beehive!)

I appear to be somewhat plant-obsessed this year. I'm feeling like I need to do at least just one thing right; carry through on at least one activity. I feel perpetually behind on my whole life, and I just keep getting older and behinder. Not to mention how impotent I feel about affecting all the things that seem to be wrong with the world.

I have a ridiculous amount of yarn that I'm not even knitting. I'm making a concerted attempt to cut the stash, but it seems almost insurmountable. I don't feel ruthless enough. Which makes it all just worse. Hmph. So I guess it comes down to that I just have to bull through and just try and change ME. And at this point in time, that seems to be following through on the plants.

My, does that sounds pointless. Well, at least I got the laundry done yesterday. Small victories.

Oh dogwood, my dogwood

Monday, May 28, 2012

Don't call me chrys

We are the mums, we are the mums, we are the we are the we are the mums

This is this year's chrysanthemum lineup. I maybe went a little overboard?

I haven't ever much grown mums before, except those full-of-flowers ones you see at the grocery store in Autumn. The good members of the National Chrysanthemum Society, Oregon Chapter, assured me that they were easy to grow and care for. And I now have a 6-page closely-spaced handout on just how easy.

A few years ago I saw this pretty thing on display at the Japanese garden, and it hasn't ever quite left my head. I'm not growing for exhibition or anything, I just want pretty flowers.

Frances would like you to know that she's prettier than any of those plants, so Pay Attention to HER.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Be my begonia

I'm beginning to sense a theme here. I didn't realize I was so predictable.

This is the pretty little begonia I got last weekend, because I couldn't find but one, not-so-good picture of begonias of years past. If you turn it over, it's got a surprise:
Strawberry-colored underleaves!

We've just ended a run of 2(!) weeks of sunny weather, which is a bit of an anomaly for May. It's been lovely. I missed the sun. The tayberries approve.
Last year they didn't fruit until the 4th of July. Hopefully the weather won't turn suddenly soggy and rain them out. They are a cross between raspberries & blackberries, and they really do taste like both at the same time.

I really have come to accept that I'm not much of a gardener; I seem to like having a garden more than I do tending it. But every year these guys have come up, and do pretty well, even with my semi-neglect. (This year I did manage to fertilize them and put some compost/mulch around them. Maybe they'll taste better?)

Work has finally calmed down some. Huzzah.

The house is painted. It is So. Very. Green. I am still getting used to it, and wondering if I ever will. I chose a darker, slightly brighter green for the foundation, and that was definitely a mistake. It pushes it into the crazy-green category over from merely a-lot-of-green. Give me a few weeks and I'll probably repaint it grey. I'll post pictures later, when I don't start at the sight of it.

Hello commuter socks!

Some old Opal that I got from Michelle. Despite the simplicity they were a fun knit because of the patterning, although I messed around with the sizing a lot. I think I ripped out the first toe about 4 times.

Double-0-DPN (1.75 mm), started with 88, ribbed at the top, then stockinette the rest of the way, gradually decreasing down to 72 at the ankle.

Regular old heel-stitch heel flap, although I always make it a little deeper than 2x the width stitch count, and pick up a few more stitches on the side. I also messed with feathering the gusset decreases near the end - started with every other row, then moved to every 3rd and later every 4th row. I'm not sure it made any difference.

Tiger (socks) in the (backyard) veldt.