Thursday, December 11, 2014

Biblical Precipitation

The weather report says it's supposed to rain A LOT tomorrow, in a small amount of time (check out that Total Precipitable Water graph: nice Pineapple Express jet, huh? It's aimed pretty much directly at where I live. I get unhealthily interested in being at weather epicenters)

Image from the University of Wisconsin - go take a look at the animated one, it's neat.

They're predicting 3-6 inches of rain in the city in the next 24 hours, along with heavy winds. They've already canceled school in SF, Oakland, and Marin (which is supposed to get even more).

Now, to be fair, 6 inches of rain in a short amount of time creates big problems in a place that:

(1) already has saturated wet ground, so the soil can't soak up any more. This is kind of hard to explain to anyone who doesn't live in a desert, but the rain doesn't soak in, it RUNS OFF. (Or even more fun, it feeds underground springs and creeks. See also the sinkhole that opened up last week). Back in Portland the ground could absorb enormous amounts of water before it just got waterlogged and couldn't take any more and suddenly you had a pond not a backyard. The soil here is totally different.

Other cities that are used to flash floods have infrastructure to contain them. Albuquerque, New Mexico has an extensive system of storm drain arroyos to funnel off all that massive precipitation so that it doesn't just run down streets, e.g. the path of least resistance, like it will here tomorrow.

(2) Also there are a bunch of plants and trees suffering from the drought, so many of them are either dead or parts of them are dead, leading to:

(3) expected high winds at the same time == trees falling down and bringing down power lines.

So if the worst happens, it'll be fairly dangerous driving around, with pouring rain, downed trees, and possibly power outages and downed live wires.

But still, it makes me wince a little inside to think of school called for rain. Oh, California.

Saturday, November 15, 2014


At the end of October, my Mom and I drove from Utah to Florida.
We went from this:
to this:
in five days.

It is a long story, but the upshot is that Mom decided she was going to spend the winter in Florida this year, and that she was going to drive there. I came along to keep her company and share the driving.

Before this trip I'd never been to most of Texas or the South, except for the occasional layover in Atlanta and Dallas/Ft Worth (I once spent a week in Houston in July, which I hope to never repeat.)

Since we spent most of our time driving and this trip had an emphasis on Getting There,  we didn't see as much as either of would have liked. We missed almost all of Louisiana, much to my regret. We had to pick and choose where to dawdle. But we did have time for a few things. It was an interesting trip.

Cadillac Ranch, outside of Amarillo, TX

Tuesday, October 21, 2014


First: Aw, thanks, LynneW. It was fun to make it! I'm very pleased with the result.


A few weeks ago a friend of a friend invited me over for an indigo dying session. I haven't ever messed around with indigo before and so was interested to try it. Friend of a friend's friend (this is getting confusing. Let's just call him Alfred, and her Tien) was well-practised in the indigo and prepped a vat for us. We also did some katazome, which is Japanese water-soluble resist dyeing using rice bran paste.

Indigo legs

I was fairly happy with how my samples turned out, even though they weren't great (shut up, inner perfectionist). Indigo is kind of fascinating to work with from a chemistry perspective - the dye exists in soluble, reduced form in the vat, but once removed from the vat it oxidizes into the blue with which you're familiar (blue jeans!). Wet out of the vat it's a beautiful teal-ey green that slowly turns blue. It's got a copper sheen to it as it dries.

We had such a good time, Tien suggested we might go do a weekend workshop with a master artist she knows up in Northern California.

So this is how I found myself last weekend in Covelo, CA, taking a workshop with John Marshall.

One of my samples of katazome & fresh indigo dyeing, on cotton. The flower pattern is woven in.

We learned an enormous array of things - fresh indigo dyeing, growing tips, Japanese textiles, block dyeing, rubbings, natural pigments, katazome preparation and application. Yar, I need to sit down and write out all my notes. I've also got about a billion pictures. Fresh indigo dyeing produces a blue that's a bit more green and less grey than regular indigo.

The plant itself is nifty - you can see the blue in the leaves!
Blurry, terrible picture of fresh Japanese Indigo, Polygonum tinctorium

Fresh vat (abetted by some commercial crystals, as we ran out of time steeping the fresh)

Sadly I don't have much space to grow indigo (or enough water. Stupid drought). The weekend was fascinating, though. It was like being able to talk to an encyclopedia and him being able to answer back and go off on tangents like those wikipedia link wanderings I like to do. It was also lovely to talk with someone who absolutely knows what they want to do and is actually doing it. And who after all this time is still fascinated with it and learning new things about it. I only wish that I could feel so grounded and content. Contentment doesn't necessarily mean boredom.

Beautiful Covelo, CA.  Do cows have mid-life crises?

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Adventures in Figs

I don't know about you but I never ate much in the way of figs (except in Newton form). However, now that I live in a Mediterranean Clime, I find figs in the local grocery stores, in little green plastic baskets like the kind that hold strawberries.

Aren't they pretty? These are Black Mission.

I had some plums from the CSA, and found a Grown-Up Recipe involving figs and plums in a brandy-sugar reduction, and though maybe I'd pretend to act my age and try it out. It was fairly simple, and very, very good. I am so making that again if I ever host any dinner parties (Ha. That happens about once ever 10 years).

I had some figs leftover after Grown-Up Recipe, and since roasting makes everything better, on another night I brushed them with some olive oil and stuck them in the oven. We had them in a salad with blue cheese and nuts. Mmm so good.

I used to hate salads when I was growing up, and I pretty much still despise crappy lettuce salads. I don't much care for lettuce drowning in some half-assed vinaigrette, and I can really do without the iceberg except in certain specific cases where I'm looking for crunch. I prefer salads that balance all their flavors together. The lettuce is just one of those flavors. Look at me, a salad snob.

We did this last week with peaches (not really roasted as much as just warmed up). Oh WOW. I'm usually not a huge fan of sweet-savory, but these peaches weren't particularly sweet, and with some goat cheese and arugula they were amazing.

In other news, I made a throw pillow. With an invisible zipper, even! I have a new friend, and she is called Invisible Zipper Foot.

Monday, September 29, 2014

There has been much fabric

And not a whole lot else.
This is only a small bit of it. But it's a cute bit.

(There is, of course, the Current Commuter Socks, and I got bored one night and started Glockenblume, but doilies don't count.)

Crazy Aunt Purl once had a post about how she noticed that she was buying stuff because at work she missed her current stuff, and her speculation was that she was just buying things so that she could "visit her stuff" on the weekends. That is an excellent description of what I've been doing lately. It's not really how I want to live, so I am working more on actually doing and not just acquiring.

The quilt shops of San Francisco are small but well-curated. They are definitely aimed at a particular audience, but as I appear to be pan-fabric-phyllic, it's all good.

Back before I gained the pile of yarn, I did a lot of quilting. Since I got distracted by yarn and dyeing, there's been all this interesting new modern quilting movement, and it's been fun to look through quilting blogs. I am so dating myself.

(except I am so over perfect women with perfect houses and perfect children and the rest of their perfect  lives. Also I might twitch a little at blog posts signed with big swirly signatures. Not a hater, just reminds me of those elementary school girls who used hearts instead of dots on their i's. I didn't have a great experience with those girls.)

I do not have a perfect life, although I am extremely lucky to have my own studio space.
My very messy studio space.

That's the panorama shot I took a few weeks ago. Huge, unworkable mess. Here, I've annotated it for you:

I got tired of not being able to find anything, and finally committed on some shelving. With Ikea and the Love Monkey's help securing things to walls, it looks a little better now. I'm still working on it. I'll take an after picture when I can see more of the floor.

A couple of San Francisco pictures:

Dr. Seuss called and he wants his flowers back

This is the bloom of the Red-flowering Gum. Yes, I know it's pink. San Francisco has such a weird really-it's-a-desert-except-for-all-that-fog climate that very odd things grow here. Australian and New Zealand natives seem to have done the best. And enormous, so-large-you-would-not-believe-it jade plants. No seriously, they're considered an invasive species.

Bay Bridge at sunset, from the Embarcadero

This looks very much like Pacific Northwest picture to me. I think it's the ferries coming in that does it.

Frances and I, basking in the sun

Monday, August 25, 2014

Days sliding by

I have no idea how it got to be the end of August of 2014.

In kitty news, Ms. Frances is still among us, despite a couple times where we thought she wasn't going to make it. We take it day by day.

Hello, sleepy cat

The other day I finished up some long-suffering socks that I think I started 4 years ago

I ran out of yarn for the toes, and couldn't decide what to do. It wasn't actually the toes, but about 1/3 of the foot. A kind person on Ravelry sent me her leftovers in the same colorway, and I finally completed them. It's the Gentleman's Sock with Lozenge Pattern from Nancy Bush's Knitting Vintage Socks. An easy pattern to continue once you set it up.

Hello, fancy socks with lozenge pattern in 2 dye lots, but I do not care

Sunday we went for a ride. Today my legs feel they might be happier with some other person. Hmph, it wasn't that far. It's just been a couple years since I've done an 18-mile bike trip. Bah. I need to get out more.

We passed First Cake (The Original)

Then climbed up the Presidio and stopped to admire the view

And then crossed the view. This is at the 2nd tower of the bridge, looking south. I didn't realize that the Marin headlands side of the bridge was higher than the San Francisco side.

And then we went back.

And in case you're curious, yes, I woke up at 3:20 am on Sunday morning and the bed was shaking and the windows rattling and said "is it an earthquake?" But it was very mild, short, and nothing at all fell down (which, to be honest, is semi-miraculous as we have been very laissez-faire about earthquake-securing.) I went back to sleep and K put in an entry on Did You Feel It? (also, these MMI pictures from a 1958 text book are great)

Tuesday, July 08, 2014


I bought some new friends (because that's apparently how I roll these days, buying friends):

The cactus is echinocereus rigidissimus var. rubispinus at home in his new pot.

Thank you all for the comments. I'm very sorry I haven't responded to any of them. Frances isn't doing well, and I'm having trouble coping. That partially translates to not responding to email in timely manner. I try, then people say "so how are you" and I reply "not so good, my cat is dying" and then it doesn't really go very well from there. So it's easier to just not open the inbox some days. And then days becomes weeks and it just gets more embarrassingly late.

I'm so tired of being this little puddle of goo of a person. I often wish I could just ditch the sensitivity, just get to the damn ending of the Velveteen Rabbit without bawling every. single. time. And it's not a good cry, oh no. I cry ugly, with my face all squished up and my cheeks flushing red and my voice goes all high and squeaky, when I can get out anything at all. I could use a little Vulcan reserve but I cannot damn learn how. Where's a class on how not to tear up over kittens or emotionally manipulative movies or just a stupid pretty picture, even? Just how is all this emotion useful anyway? I need some spines. Pretty pink ones.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

This one is for my evil twin

Feel better soon, evil twin, and continue to wreak all your havoc.


What's it been, like 6 months?

So. Stuff! Happening!

I'm still in San Francisco. No change there. The new place is still fantastically wonderful. I would like to mix it up with the plants, but with the drought this is not a good year for that. For now I'm restricting myself to a few herb pots, watered with the greywater left after washing dinner veggies.

Looking East to the bay

I got a new job. It is a really good job. I miss some of the people from my last job, but I very much do not miss others. At new job I'm frustrated a lot less of the time, and ALL my coworkers are really smart people and funny in the same kind of nerd wavelength way that I find funny and best of all, I feel like I can trust all of them. Altogether it's a good thing. I didn't realize quite how defensive I'd become. This is what happens when you can't trust that your coworkers will believe you. You make sure you backup and triple check and are absolutely sure that what you're saying is correct. You leave no holes or weaknesses in your armor.

I still spend much of the time drifting and/or hiding under the bed. But hey, I finished some doilies!

That would be the pile of thread from the last post. Blocked, that sucker is about 2 1/2 feet in diameter (if you look carefully, you can see the toes included for scale). The pattern is Mitteldecke by Christine Duchrow (82.4), although I used the pattern from the Rachel Penning booklet. The thread is DMC Cébélia Cotton size 30 in ecru, and I used 2.0mm needles. Link to my Ravelry project page.

I'm comfortable enough now that I am OK doing my own thing on the edging, which I did, because I like a VERY CONTROLLED edging and not some loosey goosey SC 3 together chain 7 and away you go. It's akin to matching the ribbing at the top of cabled socks to the cabled pattern below. Sure, you could do any old K2P2 ribbing and then just start the cables and not care how the columns fed into each other, but why do that when you could CONTROL THE UNIVERSE? I'd just like to say that my internal perfection monster (generally) doesn't extend to matching up sock stripes. I find the bit of chaos charming. But I guess I am anal about my doilies.


The Love Monkey and I both have a nasty cold that's making the rounds. It's going to be a quiet weekend.

Frances is not so happy that I am not home all day every day.
This is one of the big drawbacks of new work.
My kitty is also not feeling so well lately. bleh.

She's lost a lot of weight this year and her kidneys are slowly ceasing to function. This is not an unusual thing in older cats. We think she is 13 or 14 but she was a stray, and the vet gauged her age by looking at the amount of tartar on her teeth. Not the most precise of methods.

She was doing all right for a long while but not so much in the last couple weeks. So I have become the crazy cat lady that gives subcutaneous fluids to her cat every couple of days. K helps immensely by helping me hold her, as you don't really need to aim very well, but she is (understandably) not so happy being stuck with a big needle. I really need 3 hands: one for the needle, one for securing the cat, and one to control the flow. I do not enjoy sticking a 18 gauge needle in my cat, but she is still up and stumping about and yowling loudly, and gives no indication that she is tired of being here, so we keep on with what we can (I believe I will be exploring smaller needles).

In other (not so sad) news, something is distracting me away from the doilies.