Wednesday, April 30, 2008

ETA - He's Here!! ;-D

Just after I posted about our FbL, I sent a note to Anna that her photo (as approved by her, TYVM) had been put up on the blog. I got a quick reply, saying that I was out of date: they had just arrived home from the hospital!!

I don't have pictures yet, but I'm happy to announce that Antonio Luis (probably he'll be Tonio) arrived on Monday after a very short labor (Mom Anna is *really* happy about that!). He's 19in long and weighing in at 7lb, 9oz. Proud father Ed says he has lots of hair and is already doing very well with eye contact. Plus he has a cute frowny face.

This is creating huge Awwwwws! here Chez CBM.

Family by Love

DH has no family by blood unless you go out to second cousins and the once- or twice-removed sorts. But he has lifelong friends, whose families I think of as our Family By Love, nearly all of whom live in Washington State.

There's Alan and Karen and Taylor B, who is on the swim team and is suddenly taller than I am, though I tend to think of her as the adorable little girl in a blue pinafore and blond pigtails, from the photo which first joined our family "album" on the mantelpiece.

There's Bill, who moved in next door to DH when they were 2; Bill and Claudia produced Peter and Maureen, and Peter and the lovely Sara just presented the grands with Abram, who will keep his Big Brother Noah busy.

Then there's Louie and Sharrie, who have known DH (and have been a couple) since high school. When we went to visit them early in my relationship with DH, I felt as nervous as if I'd been meeting DH's mother. Thankfully, they seemed to like me; they sent WA State wine and cheese for Christmas. At the time we met, their girls Anna and Teresa were in high school, and seemed to do nearly everything well - Teresa composed a little rap song about DH and me while we were all enroute to a beautiful Western WA beach. Off the top of her head. A year or so later, Anna's cheerleading squad won a trip to the Hula Bowl. Etc. Oy!!

Well, time passeth, whether we understand it or not, and a week or two ago I got some photos of the about-to-be 4th DGC (dear grandchild) by love. I say about-to-be, since the little boy hasn't quite made it into the world. He will be adored by Mom Anna, Daddy Ed and Big Sister Rita, and will be ready to play with his cousins Andrew and Hayden and the also-about-to-be newest girl cousin, when he - and she! - are a bit more mobile.

We don't get to see these members of our Family by Love as often as we'd wish, but they bring happiness and caring to our lives. And smiles to our faces when they send pictures!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Blocking Soie Bambou

There's been some interest in how the new Elann yarn, Soie Bambou, is knitting up. Here's the pre-blocking swatch. With very little tension added in the blocking, this grew only a half-inch or so. It's *very* drapey. This is the color 'Rouge'. I enjoyed knitting with this. It has a bit of the feel of a raw silk or silk noil, but not so rough. With the 65% silk, 35% bamboo content, there's not much springiness.

Ya-HOO!! Clue #2 is DONE!!

Happy Dancing here! Had just a couple of yards left of the 3rd ball of Elann's Baby Cashmere; so that's 300yds done.

Updates and More Eye Candy

I'm up to Row 91 on the Mystic Light shawl; 4 more pattern rows to the end of Clue #2. I've finally figured out that I can't have TV on, can't even listen to music with words while I'm knitting this. So yesterday I cleared more space on the iPod for classical music. As a break from the concentration, I'm moving along on the Sand & Sea Shells scarf. I think back a month to how tough this seemed, and now it's easy by comparison to ML. Even with only 2 horizontal repeats, this isn't going to be a long scarf, though I don't know how the Sea Silk will grow in blocking. DH's entrelac vest is on hold; hard to believe that it's been sitting there for 6 weeks or so. Wasn't February just a few weeks ago???

The roses are still gorgeous, but I need to deadhead them. Not going to happen today, though; our local temps are predicted to near 100F, and I believe it: it was 85F at 10am today, and yesterday was 95F in the shade. At least one of the roses in the front yard is beginning to be covered in a second round (!) of buds.

The star jasmine (not a true jasmine) is blooming, so the air is filled with fragrance. Here in SoCal, this evergreen climbing vine is also used as ground cover or even low hedging. The one under the front window here covers the 10ft width, and has covered the downspout nearly up to the eaves.

In the arbor outside the other office window, the 'Easter' cactus is finally blooming, vivid deep pink starbursts all over. And under the lime tree off the patio, we have the first blooms from some epiphyllums we bought at the Huntington Gardens plant sale last year, a nearly-white. In this heat, the blossoms don't last long, but oh, they are stunning!

DH found the right replacement pump for the fountain yesterday, and started cleaning out the basin, so we'll have that pleasant sound again. I love to listen to it as I'm falling asleep. We 'inherited' a classic fluted 3-bowl fountain with the house, one from real cast concrete; it weighs a ton, as we found out 2 years ago when we hired a local fountain expert to rehab it.

BTW, for you Ravelers and LOTR fans, there's a terrific group just started, named 'One Shawl to Rule Them All'. We've chosen one knitted and one crocheted shawl for each of the races of Middle Earth (Hobbits, Men, Elves and Dwarves), and I've added over a dozen of the suggested patterns to my ever-lengthening Queue, particularly this one from the so-generous people at DROPS/Garnstudio. Plus I've found a wonderful lace knitter, Rav-name lacefreak, whose Project pages are a fabulous display of lace shawls, scarves and even doilies. She has offered me a few suggestions, and I'm feeling more encouraged about actually finishing Mystic Light.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Going Nowhere Slowly, But Greenly

Argghhh!! I have just frogged the first half of the 79th (77th? 81st?) row of the Mystic Light Shawl, early in Clue #2 of the current Mystery Shawl KAL. For the 4th time. I counted the stitches in the completed half-row - 81 stitches. That *should* mean the completed row is the 79th row (stitch count currently = Row # + 2), and I should knit the 81st row of the chart (WS rows are even numbers). So, why was I 2 sts short when I got to the center? The prior knitting effort, I was 2 sts too long.

The final clue, #5, came out this morning. Many knitters are already planning to finish this chart today or tomorrow; I think the edging starts around Row 171. I'm stuck on Row 79 - or 81. Still.

Pounding. Head. on. Table.

On a positive note, yesterday was Earth Day.

I didn't know this until about 10am when I was driving to West LA for an appointment with the dentist and other errands. So, when I got back to the Burbank area about 3pm, I got the tires rotated and properly aired up. This should increase my gasoline mileage. Maybe. And I did 2 appointments and 3 errands in the same trip, which is sort of efficient. I try.

My current odometer reading? 33,191.
Age of car? Bought new in 1999. ;-D

Edited to add: We bought the car shortly before I had to quit working for health problems. Otherwise, there'd be something on the order of 40+ miles as a 5 day/week round-trip commute; in 9 years, that would add up to a lot more. DH drives the little 1997 Ford Ranger pickup, which has some 85,000 miles on it.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Some Assembly Required

I put up this post last week, and then stopped to edit it for reasons now unknown. Thanks to Grace, it's finally a post. So - TWO posts today; the second one is Floral Eye Candy, below.

We got a big 42in TV for Christmas, and it wouldn't fit on our decades-old 'entertainment center'. So we improvised with a coffee table for a while, and then I found a big-TV stand online. We've had quite good luck in the past with ordering furniture online, and this one had enough space for all of our 'home theatre' components - cable box, TiVo, A/V receiver, CD, DVD - and a couple of drawers, too. The color wasn't quite what I'd have preferred, but would work with the various wood finishes we have, plus it was on sale, at a price that didn't seem outrageous. The service was good - I ordered on March 20, they shipped on March 28, and it arrived last Thursday. The freight truck driver called ahead, arrived on time, and hauled this big HEAVY box into our back patio. Seriously heavy; I couldn't budge it.

We knew this would be traumatic. We've had the TiVo/home theatre setup for more than 5 years, and we've learned that any minor change - like a new cable box - can take a couple of hours and quite a few adjustments to get to working smoothly. TiVo service is always excellent, something I can't say for either of the two cable companies we've worked with. (I refrain from mentioning their names, since I can't use them without profanity, and this is a family-friendly blog, right?)

I cleared working space in the family room, figured out where our LP collection was going to move to, which of course involved moving something else and then something after that, removed breakables from the bookcases we'd be moving around, and then DH and I started the assembly after a late lunch last Saturday. Oy. The directions booklet was over 25 pages long - 20 wood pieces, 12 different pieces of hardware and 12 different fasteners. No fractured English, just large, clear, line drawings. Every single piece of wood had a part number and a letter marked on it, the fasteners and hardware were on a bubble 'board' or in separate pouches, each clearly marked with a part number. All we needed was a couple of screwdrivers, no power tools please.

Some good thinking went into the directions: the parts that required glue were done first, and then set aside to dry while we assembled others. Quality/quantity control was really good: the pre-drilled holes were where they said they were supposed to be, there were as many fasteners as they said, and so forth. So, in about 3 hours, it had been transformed from a stack of parts into a long, low cabinet. We measured, moved the rest of the furniture, primarily our 6ft bookcases, to allow for the extra length, and we were ready.

That was the easy part. DH took the black boxes apart, labeling the cords and cables according to where they belonged. We moved them off the old stand, figured where we wanted to put the various components, hooked them up, and - nothing worked.

Everyone of you who is surprised by that, raise your hands. Ah, yeah, you in the back? Um-hum. We tried again and then again, and still no sound, no picture. By that time, it was after 7pm, so we broke for dinner and discovered that we were too tired to care.

Last Sunday after breakfast I settled in to work my way through the gazillion connections. This time, I pulled out my handy label-maker and labeled each cord as specifically as I could, as I went. Once I got the cable box playing nicely with TiVo, the rest went pretty smoothly. The 'home theatre' deal has 6 different speaker wires, which are nicely color-coded (thank you, Onkyo!), but by the time you plug pretty much everything into the back of the receiver, it's crowded, and difficult to find that last little plug-hole for the remaining red, white or yellow plug.

I finished in time for us to watch most of Star Wars Part II - the Clone Wars on the big screen. Pretty impressive compared to the old 27in set.

Floral Eye Candy

The lost camera charger has been found; it had disappeared into the depths of a knitting bag. How? No clue. Savings = $56!! ;-D

So this is a post brimming with the flowers currently delighting the eyes in our yard. First, the bougainvillea - San Diego Red

Texas Dawn
The 'house-eating' Barbara Karst (the best she's looked ever!)

and a poor soul that has become nameless.

Then some random beauty - Fortnight Lily, so named because it blooms about every 2 weeks; a gorgeous epiphylum

Our deep pink New Zealand Tea Tree

and some 'freeway daisies' (aka African Daisy or osteospermum); these bloom with abandon, even in the awful conditions along freeways. I love this cheerful yellow (the only one in bloom yesterday). Sometimes I find these in white, but most often they're a vivid purplish-pink.

And then some of the roses - French Lace, with IMO the prettiest buds of all; Mr Lincoln - had to pull this one down from its 6ft height

Our new simple but vividly red climber

Abraham Darby, a David Austen with a bit of citrus in the scent

Another David Austen, this one Pat Austen

The 1868 climber Sombreuil; this one always makes me think of dozens of petticoats

And the promised shots of our enormous (David Austen) Gertrude Jekyll, a close-up and a view of the dozens of blossoms on this huge 6-7 foot tall bush.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Well, Maybe....

You're The Mists of Avalon!

by Marion Zimmer Bradley

You're obsessed with Camelot in all its forms, from Arthurian legend
to the Kennedy administration. Your favorite movie from childhood was "The Sword in
the Stone". But more than tales of wizardry and Cuban missiles, you've focused on
women. You know that they truly hold all the power. You always wished you could meet
Jackie Kennedy.

Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

Hmm. I do have 3 shelves of books about Arthur, Camelot and so on. And I would have fainted at the thrill of meeting Jackie.

The alternative was 'Watership Down'. It seemed to turn on whether I feel old or not. ;-P

Monday, April 14, 2008

Interlude Sans Photo

I put up a post last week and then 'took it back' for editing. 'Twill come back soon.

In the meantime, my camera battery is drained, the backup battery didn't keep its charge while in storage for less than 2 months, and the house gremlins have hidden the charger. Sony - after over 20mins on the phone with 2 different people, tells me that they have the charger in stock, despite the website disavowing any such part, but it's $56US! I'm gonna keep looking for the charger I know I have, for $56!!

My Friday night friends and I partied Chez CBM on Friday and then went on a road trip to the Santa Clarita valley for a small yarn crawl. Pictures of new yarny goodness are, of course, tied up in the blinkin' camera.

Yesterday and today hit 95F on our shaded back porch, and about 6 dozen new roses popped on just one bush since Friday, our beautiful David Austen rose, Gertrude Jekyll. BTW, the grower who's linked, with a very good picture of Gertrude, doesn't grow her in SoCal - our rose regularly puts out 8-10 *foot* tall canes, which we have to bend over (peg), and she loves to bloom and bloom and bloom. Of course, she also grows some seriously wicked thorns!

The roses are stunning, but many of the petals have dried in the extreme dry heat. Later this week we should timewarp back to Spring. I hope. I start melting at 85F.

Later, my friends.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Eye Candy/Yarn Pr0n Friday

Whee! My order from Elann just arrived, and I'm joyfully fondling the yarns. I've been really, really good; this is my first order from Elann this year, but I fell hard for their newest house yarn, Soie Bambou. This is 680yds of 65% silk, 35% bamboo, in the color Rouge. You have to look at the color at the website; it's as close as photos can come, IMO, to the real color, which is not the case with my own photo. The texture on the cone is of a raw silk, or silk noil; Elannites who have swatched with the yarn already say it has a lovely sheen - which it does! - and very nice drape.

This beautiful yarn will become a shawl, but which of the dozens of patterns I have in my Ravelry Queue or Favorites? Dunno. I'm planning to swatch with this over the weekend, but since my two lace projects are moving along at the speed of tortoises, I'm going to resist casting on for another shawl.

While I was at it, I got little 'tastes' of a couple of other yarns I've been wanting to try - Elann's Peruvian Highland Donegal and their Pakucho Organic Cotton. The Donegal colors are Wedgwood and Mineral Rose, and the Pakucho is Forest. The Pakucho will become a facecloth, since it's a pretty good match for some new towels we got recently, and DH has become a big fan of knitted cotton facecloths. The Donegal will become warm hats.

And, uh, the Baby Lace Merino, in Irish Moss? Well, I have no excuse for this - I just love the color, which is far prettier in real life!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Progress of Sorts

Not a lot of knitting to show for the week. I finished two charity hats for the troops in some mystery chunky yarn, a deep, dark chocolate brown. For one, I used the Marsan Watchcap pattern, which gives a really nice, tight fabric with its K1tbl, p1 ribbing; the other is just a 2x2 ribbed hat. Both are long enough to have good deep brims, keeping ears warm.

And I've made some progress on my Mystic Light mystery shawl. The picture is one-half of the shawl, through about Row 53 of Clue #1. The beautiful yarn color doesn't show up well on the bright blue background, so I've included a picture of the yarn itself. This is Elann's Baby Cashmere in Starlight Blue, and it's lovely yarn to work with.