Wednesday, August 13, 2008


Today was picture day. Graduating seniors have to have their pictures done well ahead of time and as luck would have it Ray & I both had appointments for haircuts on this very day - Ms. R had to move her appointment up by several hours and was scheduled to be with another stylist since Gina, goddess of hair, wasn't usually in quite so early.

I don't know if Gina came in early because of Rachel or because she was really booked, or because she was leaving tonight to visit her native Ireland for her brother's wedding - but the stars aligned and Gina did Rachel's cut and style.

Gina is hilarious and a ton of fun packed into a tiny little body with a delightful Irish accent and she can make my hair look good. And that is the very best thing ever (see prior posting about limp baby fine dear-Lord-I-hate-my-hair). She has also quite literally watched Rachel grow up, so I kind of think that it also means something to her to be a part of the big events - like senior photos and prom "'do's".

The early time for her photo left no time for a "pro" makeup job - and I
was not exactly thrilled with her wardrobe choice for a "casual" photo, so we blasted to the mall hoping for a stroke of luck at Bare Essentials for makeup and a rapid visit to Nordstrom for a better looking top. Nice top with cute sweater found in less than 20 minutes (yay!) but BE had a wait list... oh well.

We did stop at the Swarovski shop and I finally fulfilled my obligation to get her a nice necklace (when we visited Saltzburg two years ago I went to the Swarovski shop, but Ray was in a music clinic and never had the time to get a sparkly/pretty... so a long standing promise can now be struck from my list!)

The actual pictures - what a circus! I graduated as a junior from high school and never had to do the whole senior picture gig, so this was an... experience. Multiple fake-ish sets to choose from plus the obligatory Senior Photo. Rachel chose the "garden porch" scene for her casual photo and I think these will be really nice. Her photographer was funny and kind which made her laugh and look --- amazing. The formal yearbook pose with the black velvet drape thingy around her shoulders was another story. That photographer had all the personality of a dried twig and from where I stood all of her shots had that kill-me-now fake smile... but I could be wrong.

We stopped at the shop afterwards and I finally got a photo of the Feather And Fan Cardigan with a real live girl in it:

Notice please the Really Nice Necklace. The shirt underneath was the one I nixed for the photos. Never been a big fan of the rumpled look - and Rachel has never been a fan of the ironing board.


I might just have found my next great project. I totally think that this is exactly the trendy/edgy look that any plump fifty-ish woman woman of a certain age fashionable person could embrace.

The nylons! With all my lace experience I could handle a few holes! Just think of the cellulite those babies could hide! A bit of a stumbling block could be finding the yarn – my LYS dumped discontinued all of the eyelash and sparkly stuff. Odds are I still have some in my stash, so not all is lost!

The shoes could be a problem though. Do you think I can find them in a size eight double-wide?

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Projects: 3 Floors: 0

There has been zero progress made on the floors, unless you count getting estimates. We have three so far and while each is pretty consistent for the master bedroom they vary wildly on the main living/dining area. I think we’re going to hold off on a decision until after we return from our raft trip.

I’m actually getting pretty excited about the trip, though I still dread the whole no-showers bit. I have a thing about having my hair clean – limp and baby-fine does not do well with dirty and oily. On the upside I bought a big floppy hat with some not-quite-believable SPF factor. Sunburn is my other worry – I go from pale to blistered in next to no time and any sort of stress (sunburn, lack of sleep, not eating right) will bring on a bout with herpes zoster on my upper lip, nostril, or chin... not something I want on a trip where the average temperature is expected to be in the high 90’s!

I’ve been buying other stuff to wear too, since my wardrobe consists of jeans and tee-shirts with the occasional skirt. Nothing that would work well for a river trip. I bought a couple pairs of those microfiber pants that dry in a flash and have the zip-off legs that turn them into shorts, two pairs of shorts that are also bathing-suit bottoms, and a new swimsuit top. I loathe shopping for swimsuits and have been successfully avoiding the entire ordeal for a couple of years, thanks to the cast-iron durability of Land’s End swimsuits that never, ever, seem to wear out. Add a couple of tank tops, a light weight jacket, undies, socks, a pair of sweatpants to double as PJ bottoms and I’m nearly done. And it is an impressively small pile! How ‘bout that – maybe I can learn to pack lightly ;-) And the upside: more room for knitting projects!!!

Meantime I seem to be on a roll with the knitting. Rachel’s Feather and Fan Cardi is finished, though I ended up not doing the grosgrain button-band lining. Turns out I’m not so talented with that sewing machine and the whole buttonhole making process. Three spectacular failures attempts convinced me that it probably wasn’t meant to happen. I did run a crochet chain around the inside of the neckline and that helped a great deal with the sagging neckline.

The February Lady sweater is done too (yay!).

I love how it turned out and if I can get past my personal-photo phobia maybe I’ll get a picture of me in it. For now, I can show this:

And I think I may have ended up using nearly the same buttons as IrishGirlieKnits used on her February.

I worked for a while on a shrug made from 2nd Time Cotton in a Roman stripe pattern but was never happy with the result. It looked okay on Rachel… but I just didn’t like it. Frogged!

That yarn now has now been re-purposed to become “Hey Teach” The yarn and I are both quite pleased so far.

I cast on the afternoon of the Olympics opening, though I never planned on participating in the whole Knitting Olympics thing because of the upcoming raft trip. Staying up really late last night to watch the nail-biter finish of the US Men’s gymnastics finals helped a lot, admittedly!

On other notes: For those of you who aren’t part of my SnB and have an hour or two to kill, please visit Cake Wrecks, link courtesy of Diane L. Fair warning: No eating or drinking anything when viewing this site. My morning coffee was spewed onto my keyboard and I’m sending the bill for a replacement to Diane!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Colleges. Blown knee. Blisters.

Only two of the above are related. The college tour (Southern Calfornia edition) went well. Except for the blown knee part. My daugher, me, and Rachel's attached-at-the-hip best friend Erin visited: Long Beach State, Chapman University, Pepperdine, UCLA, Cal State Northridge, Cal State Fullerton, UC Irvine, UC Santa Barbara, and Cal Poly (SLO) and one or two more that I'm surely missing...

I loved UC Irvine - Irvine the city, not so
much, but the campus, oh my yes. You gotta love a place that names the dorms after Tolkien characters like Pippin, Brandywine, and Gandolf, with one whole section named "Middle Earth"! Both of the girls liked UC Northridge but the "commuter" feel of the campus put them off. Chapman is gorgeous as is Pepperdine, but neither had that certain intangible whatever that the girls were looking for.

I've never been a big fan of SoCal but having a newly purchased GPS tracking system (thank you Terry!) really helped negotiate the seemingly endless snarl of freeways. We programmed the GPS gadget with a female British accent, and the girls christened her "Muriel". Rachel even knit a, uuhhh, unique, one of a kind, little bag to store it/her in (it is very colorful, with pink and magenta yarn, sparkly ribbon and Fun Fur. Y'all know you're jealous, aren't you?).

The girls were marveling a bit at the SoCal freeways. We have really only two or three freeways on the SF Peninsula, none wider than four lanes to each side. Comparatively, LA was just plain scary sometimes. Thank gawd for Muriel and her excellent advice (EXIT LEFT AND KEEP RIGHT IN 500 FEET!) Exciting and fun, but still, it is too crowded and too humid to ever make me happy.

Every single day was a bad hair day for me – in humid weather my hair goes limp and flat no matter how much I threaten it with a blow dryer, and I immediately sweat off all makeup. I gave even bothering with makeup after the second day. After all, nobody down here is ever, ever, going to see me again, fright right?

[I'd insert multiple pictures here, but… well… they've gone missing. Or the little SD card is corrupt. Whatever. Imagine pretty college campuses

[here] - and [here]. [Add a couple of photos of girls trying on clothes they cannot afford]

[And a picture of Erin wearing some really bizarre sunglasses – plastic things with louvers instead of lenses]

Erin totally loved LA and was completely in her element. We visited Hollywood proper (yikes!), visited the Citidel for shopping, and ate too much. Both the girls saw some of the silliness in the "trendy" shops that we visited when they recognized various bits of clothing as coming from directly from Old Navy, the Gap, etc,. but with a spendy price tag attached. All of us were astonished when we went to the beach one late afternoon and found the ocean water to be warm – bathwater warm! The mind boggles! Our ocean up north is not even close to warm - it is more likely to induce hypothermia in under ten minutes even at the height of summer.

Sadly, Santa Barbara (the town I was most looking forward to visiting) was a bitter disappointment. In my mind Santa Barbara was this sweet charming college town, with a vibrant downtown and unique architecture. The periphery is still lovely, but the downtown area has morphed into something totally alien, and not for the better – a long string of pricey high end "name" shops, with a homeless person on every other bench trying to bum a dollar or ten.

Daughter Rachel still has her heart set on Cal Poly, and after visiting the town and the campus I can understand why. San Luis Obispo is what I remember Santa Barbara use to be – a small, sweet, college town. Utterly charming. It is very, very, Rachel.

Somewhere along the line at one of these colleges (Northridge?) my knee registered a vigorous complaint on a set of stairs. And on the next flight I got one of those "well, stupid, you wouldn't listen, so now it is lesson time. TWANG!"

The girls were surprisingly sympathetic, offering ice and venturing into a pharmacy to find me a knee brace and a pack of IcyHot patches. I hobbled a lot and cried a bit. Damn, it hurt.

I finally fulfilled a long standing desire to visit Solvang, a charming but totally tourista Danish village, situated in Santa Barbara County. Bought cookies, limped a lot, and ate ableskivers (which for me was totally hilarious, since I've been making the danged things for years with an authentic pan and all – and I've not a drop of Danish blood in me!)

When I wasn't weeping in the back seat of the car with my screaming knee, I managed some progress on my February Lady Sweater.

Home for a week and the appalling state of my carpet (and house in general) had me in a complete funk. Finally, after, oh, 15 years of bitching, pleading, moaning, griping, DH agrees it is time to pull up our pathetic hideous well worn carpet to so we can evaluate having the hardwood underneath refinished. Deep under the carpet lies what once was a beautiful red-oak hardwood floor that was tastefully covered by avocado green shag carpet when we purchased the house so many years ago. Back then, we told ourselves that we'd pull the carpet and refinish the floors after the kids were walking and weren't so likely to kill themselves on a slippery floor. (Rachel, the youngest, is now driving. We've delayed long enough, I think).

DH, however, absolutely had to attend the birthday party of a friend this Saturday, and I was scheduled to work at my LYS, so we agree to tackle it on Sunday. But the party runs late, he visits an old friend, and ends up spending the night in the California foothills, so my brave daughter and I tackled the job on Sunday morning. Traffic rescues intervenes and DH is spared the worst part – dragging furniture and ugly whacked up pieces of carpet about, prying staples, etc… the blisters on my hands have blisters (the only gloves available were useless garden gloves, or way-too-big leather gloves… so blisters. Lots of blisters.) DH gets to pry up the tack strips and haul the big yuck to the dump – which thrills Matthew, home for his weekend visit, to no end, because he loves going to the dump. Go figure.

The part that has me really, truly, bent is the fact that Home Despot, way back in the way back days, installed our now absent carpet. Their ever so careful and delicate carpet installers used this device that I can only describe as the knee-banger, a gadget that was supposed to stretch the carpet in place and stick it to the tack boards. These knee-banger things left sizeable enormous gouges in the hardwood underneath. Sizeable enough that the people I've had out to estimate the refinish work have literally winced at the damage, and cannot promise they can really fix it.

But I'm going to have hardwood floors. Yay! This will, of course, make all of the other furniture feel really, really bad.

We've been going for the shabby-chic look for a while now and have quite successfully managed the shabby part. The chic part really never quite caught up. I suppose when the furniture is temporarily moved out to the garage a tragic accident with a flame thrower could occur, maybe, possibly. Right?