table of contents
October 29, 2003
The fire continues. It's very surreal. The sky here is invariably some wrong color and still smells vaguely of yesterday's campfire. And the schools are closed. And work's been cancelled. And it feels like we live in some smog-ridden place. And we are lucky. We live in one of the cleanest spots of the county. The air is fairly clear. And we haven't ever been fearful that we were in peril.
This is a NASA/AP photo. To give you some sense of scale, the penninsula at the bottom is Baja California, Mexico. The top of the picture is Los Angeles. San Diego is somewhere in the middle under all the smoke. This photo shows all the smoke over the ocean. This must have been while the Santa Ana conditions prevailed. Now, the fire is moving hungrily eastward. The area is not as heavily populated, but whole towns are being wiped out. It's staggering.
As I talk to friends, I hear more and more about the fire's effects. A vacation home, an RV, the farm where Zoe was to have had a fieldtrip yesterday to go to the pumpkin patch, a friend of a friend's house... someone who knows someone who didn't evacuate quickly enough and perished in her car.
Weird. Weird, weird, weird.
October 27, 2003
halloween & evil
Here it is Halloween again almost. Time for costumes. Time for Trick or Treat. Time for candy tampering. Or is it?
I am here to tell you that there has NEVER been a substantiated case of candy poisoning. Throw out that popcorn ball, Tina! Don't eat that Hershey's with the partially ripped wrapper! Police officers come to school telling you not to go to houses of people you don't know and not to take candy from strangers. Hospitals will offer to x-ray candy. Myriad Trick or Treat alternatives have been launched by communities, because of the perceived risk of candy tampering.
But all this fear is misplaced.
Here's the deal. In 1974, there was a death by cyanide-laced Pixie stick. Given to the boy by HIS OWN FATHER.
In 1970, a boy got into his uncle's heroin stash and ate some. He died. The family then put heroin in some of the boy's Halloween candy to protect the uncle from prosecution.
One October, there were reports of strychnine on some fruit-gummies (thought they weren't actually Halloween treats). Turned out later it was cornstarch.
In 1994 a little boy became sick on Halloween and the story ran that he had been poisoned by cocaine. No cocaine was found in his system, and it turns out he had been sick for hours before Trick or Treating.
There was one case where 16 people became ill in 1982 after attending a school Halloween party. Though PCP was mentioned in one article, there was conflicting evidence that it may have been something as "benign" as food poisoning.
Of the 80+ cases of sharp objects embedded in Halloween treats found in a study of newspaper articles from 1959 to present, all but 10 were found to be definite hoaxes. It is not clear who perpetrated the 10 "true" cases of candy tampering. It was not determined whether they were cases of parents or children trying to create a Halloween "scare" or gain media attention. The worst injury required a few stitches. And this is 10 cases in almost 50 years!
This whole thing is related, I think, to our great fear of strangers. Why on earth do we tell our children not to talk to strangers? Sure, awful things happen to children. Who perpetrates them? Almost all the time it is their own parents who abduct, rape, beat-up or kill children in awful, unspeakable ways. Sometimes it's not a parent -- it's an uncle or family friend. This is the sad and very ugly truth.
Why then, do we spend so much time and energy filling our children with "stranger danger"? There are national campaigns for this. Not much of the curriculum is devoted to "fear your non-custodial parent" or "fear your soccer coach", I bet. Only recently has the role of abuse by clergy gained attention. The terrible reality is that it will be someone you let into your home willingly -- or even give a key to -- that harms your child.
I know that sometimes strangers do awful things to children. They get lots of media attention. But statistically, this number is small. Is it worth having your child avoid strangers and to continue to have this view of strangers=bad into adulthood? I think this leads us to be insular and unfriendly to those in our communities and those who are not "just like us".
So go out Trick or Treating! Be nice to strangers. You might meet some interesting people that way.
October 26, 2003
the longest day
I awoke early today, before the sun rose. Already I could feel dry, warm air coming through the window. As the sun rose the sky looked like a bruise -- grey green with angry red.
It still looks like the sun is setting on the wrong side of the sky because the sky is dark and red to the east. Turns out today is the first day of strong Santa Ana winds. And there are some big wild fires far to the east of us. Ash is falling. It's dry and hot. At 9:00 in the morning. Very strange.
So today is the longest day of the year. I feel like I've already been awake a long time and done a lot. I celebrated the extra time by making raisin bread French toast with sauteed apples for breakfast. Yummy.
So what are you doing with your extra hour?
October 24, 2003
Just heard the news that my sister-in-law delivered her baby. Lyla Beatrice, born October 24, 2003. Both mother and daughter are doing fine.
Congratulations, parents, and a world of love, happiness and wonder to lovely little Lyla!
So how is everyone dealing with the grocery store strike? I've been going to Trader Joe's and have made a couple trips to the pricy carpeted grocery store where all the rich old ladies shop as it's convenient. Mangoes $3.99! Avocados $3.99! Sure there are ethnic groceries where you can pick up this and that, but now I need basic stuff. So I will be heading down to an actual independent grocer in a neighborhood a friend of mine used to live in.
Once again my hackles are raised about how many truly independent businesses there are anymore.
October 22, 2003
And for those of you following the house... it's very close to done, but it isn't. Floor guy was supposed to start last week. Then we got bumped on his queue. Our contractor managed to get him scheduled for this week. Hurray! Once he's done and the floors are dry, we can move our stuff in! End of the month.
Lots of last little things need to be done, the painters still have a bit to do... and of course, once we can move our stuff in, we'll move the neighbors stuff out of the livingroom so we can get THAT floor fixed and THOSE walls painted. That and getting the driveway and yard fixed up will take us until the end of the year. Still, it's close.
It's all gone quickly really. And I did finally get my bath yesterday. Realized the hot water had been connected, spent 45 minutes cleaning out the bathroom. But it was very nice to bathe finally. I am just not a shower person.
Okay, my apologies to those for whom there is bad weather. Heard they got 5 inches of rain yesterday in the homeland (the specific northwest).
As the saying goes, we don't have weather here, we have climate. But our summer weather was sort of mediocre this year. But it's here now. Even our neighborhood, where it's always cooler, has been 80. Elsewhere, close to 100. October is often hot, but it's still surprising to have such hot temperatures when the days are short.
Anyway, went to Balboa Park yesterday which was gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous. Even from this photo in the shade, you can tell how beautiful the light is this time of year. (I sound like one of those crazy PBS painters, "Ze light, ze light, ze allpowerful light!") Checked out a couple of museums as it was Free Tuesday. And when Ella and her friend Ynez started stripping off their clothes and cavorting like water nymphs in the fountain, who were we to stop them?
I am the Tooth Fairy!
Zoe just lost her first tooth.
I am the Tooth Fairy. What's the going rate? Do you write a note? Sprinkle pixie dust?
October 20, 2003
girls, gulls, girls.
Proof that I do still knit. I haven't been up to anything too ambitious lately. Various noodlings. Doll hats. That sort of thing.
This is a little camera-cozy. I wanted to try to keep the sand crumbs dreck off it when I throw it in my bag.
Mostly this was an experiment with textures on some kool-aid dyed leftovers. I like the way moss stitch brings out the color variation; I really like the way the linen stitch (if that's what you call it) brings it out.
And here is Eleanor reluctantly modeling her new sweater. Or bits of at least two started sweaters. The sleeves I made a long time ago from a skein of Colinette Columbo I received. I made two sets because I decided the slightly different shade suited what I was doing more. These were just waiting in the wings. The green stuff was a thrift-store sweater I ripped and recycled. It didn't hold up to it's washing and re-knitting as well as I would have liked, but I didn't want to rip it out, so it was waiting in limbo. Originally I was going to finish the green one with some leftovers from Surf N Turf, but didn't want to waste that on a sweater body that I was ambivalent about.
So I stuck them together. The sleeve caps were straight and the body was shaped, but I improvised a bit with that. To pull it together, I crocheted around the neck and hem with another bit of variegata (I think this was a bit I unraveled from an old sweater and dyed with Kool-Aid). It's nice to complete things!
October 16, 2003
Zoe's Birthday List
"What do girls my age like besides Barbies?"
a tow weeled Scooder
October 14, 2003
Want to help illustrate my article on lefty knitting? If you are a lefty, or know one who knits, I need pictures of those hands in action.
October 10, 2003
What's that noise? It's raining again. Once again I am now kicking myself for not bringing things in out of the wet... But the house has doors now, so it's sealed up tight. A certain irony: the sheet metal guys are coming to put the downspouts on today...
In fact, the house has nearly everything it needs. Once the floors are finished, we'll be in! I was sent out to buy about 3 dozen lightbulbs yesterday -- the light fixtures are mostly in. Probably we'll move about the end of the month. Of course, then we have to move all our neighbors' stuff out of our livingroom and diningroom so that we can fix the floors and paint in there.
And do check in on the Sonnet-Along. We've got a good number of knitters progressing quickly with their creations.
October 8, 2003
arnold schwarzenegger is my governor. absurd.
now back to the real issues: I bought a smallish purse at the thriftstore so I could re-use its bamboo handles. Now I want to felt a purse with Noro Kureyon to for my handles. It seems like I saw one somewhere with mitered squares -- aka "dominoes". can anyone point me to it?
also, does anyone remember how much Kureyon felts, both widthwise and lengthwise? that way I can get the bag's dimensions right. thanks!
October 7, 2003
my life as a sofa.
Here's what the sofa used to look like:
This was our change of address card when we first moved to California in 1994.
And here's what the sofa looks like today. The sofa frame is all recovered. That's the dirty work. Now I just have to do the cushions. That's a walk in the park.
October 6, 2003
My sofa is in recovery.
Meant to take a true "before" photo, but in the heat of the moment, I skinned it before I took a picture. You can see it's Ur-fabric there, the brown, plaid, highly-synthetic fiber that bespeaks this sofa's original 70's existence. It's a really heavy hide-a-bed and its lines are nice and straight, so it continues to be servicable.
I recovered it once before in WHITE in about 1995 -- before I had children or pets. But it's suffered and it's ready for a new lease on life.
Since our neighbors kindly gave us our new "parlor sofa" this one goes into the family room/guestroom now. I chose a darker color with a pattern to hide stains this time, too. Indeed, the fabric's pretty bold -- the turquoise/teal color in the rug with tan, orange, brick red and black candy-corn like splotches. The colors are just right with the rug, so I went with it. There were only so many options on the clearance rack of the upholstery store and fabric feel was important too.