Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year

Say goodbye to 2007 and looking forward to 2008.

What I'm looking towards this year. I know we all make resolutions around our birthday or New Years but I just want to create a list of things that will be on my radar. I’m thinking more of like the "diet thing". We all know diets only work while you are on them and when you stop then they actually do more harm than good. Well, this is the equivalency to the non diet “life changes”. These changes won’t be instant and I know their will be some backsliding but by years end, the movement will be forward and the progress a result of the energy expressed. I hope ………

Go back to school. I left some open ended issues hanging that need to be resolved with my education. My occupation is becoming less and less stable and the job market shrinks more each year. Call it hedging my bets. I may just be taking a non core class but the mere act of resuming the academic cycle is a big step.

Plan for a vacation that may not happen until 2009. There is a lot of research and pre-exploration that happens before the vacation to eliminate the need for an iron clad itinerary and remain flexible enough to enjoy spontaneous changes.

Make a personal resolve to reduce the accumulation of yarn for the sake of acquisition. I have yarn that is ear marked for projects and yarn that is still looking for the pattern of best utilization from previously emotional purchases. No I’m not going on a yarn diet. I started this by stating a change in life. I know we are going to Stitches West in a few months and I will have some purchases.

This leads me to the next resolve. Take steps to personalize my fiber. Move from the hand spindle and produce yarn that I can use for my projects. Express my originality while developing my skills in the crafts of fiber prep, spinning, dying, pattern design and of course knitting. I know it seems so general but the canvas is clean and by being too specific here only limits or forces direction and I hope as I learn more this year it will lead me to places I don’t know about yet. The only way to fail in the resolve would be to ignore the fact that it’s just the first steps and not to be open and allow time to develop my skills.

Improve my body. Everyone sets goals of “I want to lose 25 pounds or some arbitrary number but I just want to improve my general health. I was at one point in my life in good health and I feel the age thing kicking my body all over the place. I have many physical activities I would love to do or learn but my health is or could be a limiting factor in these. What you say? I have a bicycle in storage that I wish I could resume riding and someday resume road racing. Ballroom dancing has been a long term goal but I may need some knee surgery or at least a good brace. Fencing, Yes I want to learn fencing. Last is to take a singles rowing class and someday buy a racing shell. Dancing and fencing are sort of considered a couples or non solo things but the cycling and rowing are things I can do to enjoy the solitude of exercise. I used to do a lot of thinking while I rode mile after mile. It’s the focus I get only when I’m alone with my thoughts as my mind competes against my body. I press myself to the point of exhaustion to feel the pleasure when I finish. That moment when I stop and know I’ve completed what I wanted. That last mile faster and harder than the first that just ends with that glorious pause. Yes I am a psycho when I do things physical in nature.

Return to my guitar. Play everyday even if it’s just 20 minutes. I need to pull them out of the closet and let them be available when I have a few minutes. My cousin at Christmas had three guitars just sitting on stands around the house to encourage the spontaneous play. That was my inspiration to begin again…

Read for pleasure. We all read for work or our crafts but nothing feels as good as the enjoyment of that mixed feeling of finishing that book that you just picked because you liked the last book by that author or because you loved the cover. You're happy that you found the last page and closed the story according to the author and also the bittersweet feeling that it’s over.

Last is to feel good about myself. No regrets…..

Friday, December 28, 2007

Sure beats shoveling snow.

We all have traditions.....

The Twisted's have a Christmas tradition that started when we met. We met in December when she was out here on a mini-vacation from the winter cold of New England. We drove to one of my favorite beaches that I went to since I was a boy. Warm days in the winter inspire many who don't have such things. She always wanted a beach party for her birthday while growing up but the thought of going to the beach that was covered in snow during the late weeks of January made that unrealistic. We used the beach as a way to connect to each other when we were apart and since we didn't have family to be with at Christmas we went to where we both felt good. Our first visit we saw a surfer dressed in his wetsuit but had a Santa suit with beard over the neoprene. Gotta love Ca.

I drove Jen back to meet her Mom Christmas Eve and I knew what would happen Christmas day. We exchanged our gifts and enjoyed the quiet of the day together. In the early afternoon we headed to the beach and headed south to one of our favorite places because their are benches that overlook the water. The sunsets are magnificent here but we love it just because we are sharing them together. The sound of each wave that washes ashore cleanses the stress of the day away.

I could sit here for hours with the warmth of the sun on my face but as the sun dips lower the temp also dips into the low 60's. Yes that's chilly for us, Mrs Twisted says it's Winter when it's below 70 deg.

This person has an unobstructed front row seat to one of the most beautiful experiences that happens almost 340 times a year in So Ca. The rest is a little overcast or maybe rainy.

as the sun approaches the horizon the more spectacular it becomes.

The light dissipates and the jackets come on. I'm looking relaxed and calm after a wonderful day that included all the best.

The day may end but the tradition lives on.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Busy weekend and good times

Before I begin here I must thank Mrs. Twisted for being the taskmaster or I may not have been able to complete the gift socks on time. One day to spare and here they are.

Saturday night we went to the family Christmas party. 25 family members and lots of people I haven't seen in a few years.

Chris playing some guitar as we all sing along to some Beatles.
Jen, my daughter, with her 4th cousin. Same age and so much in common

My Brother and his wife taking in the madness around them.

Jen sharing some quality time with her Uncle and Aunt.

Mrs. Twisted took this before we lost too many to the late hour. This was 13 of the 20 or so that were there before. You know how hard it is to get everyone together for a picture.

Day two... Jen just received her permit two days earlier and wanted me to give her some behind the wheel driving lessons. Her Mom wasn't too anxious to be the first one to teach her and I enjoy passing on my lessons. Lesson one; channel Frank. Huh? Readers of my blog remember the trip to teach my son the fine art of parallel parking. I told my son about Frank Sinatra and how cool, calm and smooth he was in his life. I know he wasn't perfect in life but he personified cool for a generation. So I planted the seed of relax and be cool in his head with these words. "Channel Frank" bring his relaxed persona into your life while you drive. No herky jerky motions and unexpected actions. My son took this to heart and when the driving examiner came in to the car before his test he just closed his eyes for a second and softly said to himself "OK channel Frank". He inquired what was going on and after his brief description he was relaxed already and passed with flying colors. I know he isn't channeling his spirit but it just takes the edge off the tension and so far it works with my teaching style.

Not to compete with Lynn but here is my littlest in all her glory behind the wheel.

We had a wonderful time and she is going to be a responsible and safe driver in spite of the squeal. We drove for almost 3 hours. Starting in a quiet industrial complex and learning the way the the car reacted under different situations. Foe those of you who know the the traffic of Southern Ca, if you can drive here you can drive anywhere. We moved on to streets and with the great progress she made so quickly I had her on the freeway the first day. Well three well placed thought out trips. with increasing traffic each time. Trying to build her confidence and expose her to various situations in a very short amount of time. We took a little break because I needed to do a little last minute stocking stuffer shopping and I had her in the car pool lane on the 405 flyover to the 55 on the way home. She was flying in more ways than one. I was very proud of her because she was cooler than Frank today.

We had dinner at her favorite restaurant and home by 7:30. One of the nice things about Southern Ca at Christmas is the weather. I told Jen to bring her swim suit because the pool here is heated year round.

Nothing better than a night swim.

A dip in the hot tub to relax and enjoy was interrupted by this little splash fight.

So nice to relax after the long day.

After the post swim shower I shared some memories of past Christmases and we hung up some special hand made ornaments my mother made over 25 years earlier. Each one had special meaning to me and I wanted to share those with her.

I knew I had to drive her back on Christmas Eve so we had our Christmas on the 23rd late night before bed.
She loves everything pink so we found a scarf & gloves set in cashmere for her to use when she ice skates and snow boards.

And last but not least she loved the socks. She slept in them that night. :)
Tiny Tim say's god bless us everyone and Life is Good

Saturday, December 22, 2007

the day before the day before the day before.....

Just a little update.

My Sweet Daughter is home for the weekend. Our Home not hers, Home of the Twisted. The drive to pick her up well the designated exchange point that was two hours away took me 3 hours of rush hour last Friday night before Christmas traffic to get there. Anyway we got home last night after 10:00 PM and she was up for some late night shopping. I had some stuff to get for the Annual "Family" Christmas party. My Cousin is hosting this year and the invitation had our swap partners so off to Wally World ( my term for Wal-Mart, I hate walmart)we went because I know it would be open and have the stuff I needed in one fell swoop. One last item to get at Best Buy sometime this weekend but I'm done shopping. The pink socks are done hers and mine. Hers were done last Saturday but we shipped them back to her family the same day before I could even get a picture of the finished item. Mine were completed Thursday after work. One day before the giftee was to arrive. I know that was a little too close for comfort but at least I wasn't hiding in the bathroom Christmas morning trying to finish them or just giving her one sock and an IOU. Well I'm off to make breakfast and go enjoy the day before I have to go attend the "family party", what an oxymoron that is. More on that later. TTFN

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Woolgirl December shipment

My Woolgirl sock club arrived Saturday. I was in three clubs as late as three months ago but I let one expire without renewing. The Woolgirl and Yarn Tree have raised the bar for sock clubs.

If you have purchased from Woolgirl in the past, then you know the detail she puts into each order.

Her sock club shipments always have some nice extras. This month was no different.

The little brown bag had two packs of cider and some real cinnamon sticks along with some tree decorated taffy.
There was a cute Chistmas Tree shaped tape measure and a Mama Llama stitch marker as little extras with this shipment. Nice pattern written specifically for the yarn. This month we had an option for fingering weight or DK and I chose DK just because I don't have many patterns for DK and I wanted to see the hand dyed DK she would provide.

The Yarn is from "The Unique Sheep"

SuperWool Superwash Merino 4 oz @ 270+ yards of DK heaven. VERY soft and a special colorway for the club. Spruce Sprigs WG1107 5% of the profits from Unique Sheep are donated to charity. Last but not least there was a 10% coupon for my next purchase from Woolgirl.

Thanks Jen, you have a very loyal customer here!

The swapping is complete.

Today was the day to put the swaps to bed. I know that I was supposed to be done already but I was a bad swapper this round. I went over board on the first shipment as usual but I should have sent the follow up box sooner. One box off to the UK for the PRGE and the other for the Secret Pal in North Carolina. I also received my final box from my Secret Pal Spoiler last week. Two beautiful hanks of yarn that I love.

Malabrigo in a Wonderful Celery green. I'm not usually a green lover but some shades look very nice. The sheen to this yarn almost looks like silk, very soft and the color is fabulous.

The second hank was one of my colors used in my mitered square rug.

Mano del Uruguay in colorway 107
Thank you Secret Pal Whoever you are. I know you live in Oakland. :) Thank you !

I'm not sure if I'm going to do the next round of Secret Pals. I enjoy the hunt for just the right gifts and then spoil away, but I have so much going on and I just want to be fair to the others in the swap.

Monday, December 10, 2007

burr it's cold for us So Ca sun lovers

I think this is Southern California. I got in my car to drive to work this morning and looked in the rear view mirror to see 46 deg F displayed. I thought it was uncharacteristically cold as I walked to the garage area from the toasty warmth of our home. I didn't enjoy the weather this weekend like I usually do. Friday night it was raining and we desperately need the rain but this was a cold rain that was helped by a strong wind that made you walk quickly to find shelter. We decided to order pizza on Friday night. Mrs. Twisted and I try not to order the Domino's/Papa Johns/Pizza Hut because we prefer a better pizza. Please don't start sending hate our way about how pizza Hut is the best pizza. We had a little place that made really good pizza and the best hot wings where we lived in Anaheim, one of the few things we miss. The order was always right. The sauce was the right flavor, not to sweet , not to tangy and the topping to crust ratio was just right. Since moving we tried a few places and found a little place that just happened to be less than a thousand yards from where we live. We went in and ordered the first time and while the wings were not that good, the pizza was very good. The point I was trying to get to was that On Friday night we really didn't want to go out and get dinner and we didn't have anything in the house that was making us want dinner so I went to the "menu" drawer and found the pizza place menu. In fine print it said order online and save 10%. hmmmm I had to register and that took a few extra minutes but it was quite simple and in 22 minutes from ordering the door bell rang. The confirmation said 44 mins and it arrived in 22. We gladly paid the $14.26 for two small pizzas including delivery charges so we didn't have to go back out into the rainy night. Instead we flipped the switch on the gas fireplace and had our pizza. Last week I lit the gas fireplace for the first time. It operates like a gas furnace but it has the facade of a real wood burning fireplace. The cool part is that when you turn it on you flip a rocker switch and it just turns on. It reminds me of something Matt Helm would have. You almost expect that the wall would slide back revealing a round bed and the lights would dim and romantic music would play softly in the background to further the mood. I just realized that the Matt Helm reference was a bit obscure. For you youngsters he was like James Bond but the movie version was played by Dean Martin. This is also the inspiration for Mike Myers Austin Powers character. I guess you can say we love the fireplace and the ease to light it is just bonus.

The dual knit group Christmas Party was wonderful on Sunday afternoon. Lots of spouses attended, great food and we each had a special secret Santa Gift, 'cept Megann :( . My Santa got me something that was on my wish list since Feb I think. Arctic Lace by Donna Druchanas. More than a pattern book, it's the history of "Arctic Gold". The patterns for the Qiviut are so beautiful. We have a ball of the softer the cashmere warmer than alpaca fiber just waiting for the right time.

Thank you Kathy for the wonderful book, the gift cert to Alamitos Bay Yarn Company and I can't forget the cutest little sock stitch markers.

It's always nice to come home without pot luck left overs and I only had one little hunk of lasagna in the pan. I see that as a success. It looked like the amount of goodies out numbered the entrees. We brought two pies and and a foil casserole of lasagna. We brought two items because we are the only husband/wife pair and thought it's only fair. We also had two gifts so we each received something.
The Mrs was spoiled by someone who obviously ignored the spending limits so she really lucked out but she didfeel a little odd because for once we did follow the spending limits and it seemed a little inadequate after opening hers. They were the only two that had each other at Santa swap partners. I'll have pictures of the goodies tomorrow. There was two hand dyed hanks from two specialty dyers. A cute little project bag and one of these.

It's called a Knitzi. A WIP holder for your DNPs. It traps the needles and protects them and keeps your stitches from falling off in elegant style.

Pink sock update. Sock one complete and sock two is at the heel just waiting to go around the corner and up the leg. You know I like the drama of while I finish it in time.

Hope you all have a wonderful Monday

Life Is Good

Monday, December 03, 2007

Her complete pair my finished single.

Sock Update, Mrs. Twisted finished her second sock this last Sunday. One more pair of gifted socks and she is finished for this Christmas. She spent yesterday afternoon , Sunday night and tonight swatching and looking for the right pattern for the last niece. First it was color choice. Picture all of our sock yarn on the couch between us going one by one. Eighty six hanks, one at a time say to each other no, no, maybe, no, maybe on and on. The maybe pile was then gone through and it all falls back to what pattern. Well, she had swatched the yarn yesterday along with others just to see what spoke to her. At first glance she was not happy with the hand and though it would look better on size one needles. But the pattern swatch was uninspiring to her at first try. We selected Tofutsies in a pink colorway and she found a pattern in Socks, Socks, Socks called Gull Wings and now she is pressing full speed ahead. Wip pics soon. She had a real problem with making gift socks from some of the luxury yarns we have in our stash. Will they appreciate the socks like another knitter would? The Tofutsies feels really soft and it looks good so far on the second try.

The finished pair in My Small Wonders yarn

The top picture shows the pattern very well but in order to get the pattern you don't see the color in it's true hue.
The true color of the socks

The first completed pink sock. less than 3 weeks before She (my daughter) arrives for Christmas with the Twisteds.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

We went Christmas shopping today, well sort of

Hi! 1st day of December and 23 more shopping days. Only kidding because I only have a few things to get and the malls are not in my future. I don't fall into the "lets go to the mall" crowd. We did go shopping today but not what you would think of normal Christmas shopping. I'll get to that in a little while but first a little update from last night.

The Company Christmas party went off well despite the heavy rain. I prepared for the possibility of bad food or food I wouldn't like by have a bowl of left over chili. To my surprise it was quite good. They had it catered buy a company that had it act together. Appetisers for the cocktail hour and the menu had salad, a rice dish, steamed veggies and three main courses, roast beef, stuffed chicken breast, and Mahi Mahi. You were able to have it all if you wanted and the roast beef was moist and the fish was very good. Dancing, door prizes and the same uncomfortable conversation when your spouses don't have anything in common to your work mates.
The Twisted's all dressed up and out to have a nice evening out.

I introduced Mrs Twisted to all my co-workers who showed up and we even won a door prize (gift card) so it was ok I guess. I tend to prefer not socializing with co-workers, but it was almost expected that you show up to this event. We enjoyed the dancing as the night went on. One of the managers and his wife looked so smooth and they danced as one. One of the others reminded us of the Seinfeld episodes where George described Elaine's dancing as "full body dry heave" Alcohol does a lot to peoples inhibitions and the company Christmas party is not were I want to do something I would regret on Monday morning. Enough said.

We have a newspaper in the lunch room and in Fridays paper there was an article that described a naval ship that was going to be open and on display for a limited tie on Saturday. Mrs. Twisted wasn't real thrilled about going but I enjoy the technology so we drove to Seal beach but were met with a huge crowd to do the same thing. As we pull close to the entrance of the yard an officer said it was a 3 hour wait to get on board. We decided to pass on walking on the ship and walked around down town for a little while.

This is as close as we got. Notice the line of people along the bottom of the ship waiting to board.

So change of plans and we drove south to Rogers Garden to pick out our Christmas ornaments for this year. This in no regular garden center. They have a year round Christmas ornament section and gift shop. We always buy a new ornament each for the tree since we really didn't have any when we had our first Christmas. Each of them we picked together or were gifted. Rogers Garden is located in Newport Beach and is quite a place to go look at fresh flowers and plants no matter what season it is. For those of you who are in the cold weather locations around the globe, this is why I live here. December 1st and you can buy roses in bloom and much much more. Rogers has a specialist on staff in the rose section who is a Rosearian. Never even knew that was an occupation.

Hard to believe it's December 1st with all the color and blooms making the air so fragrant.

All the Kale dressing up the flower beds

This place has a Santa who sits in a beautiful old gazebo One of the original gazebos from Disneyland's Carnation gardens, and even before that it was used to be on Main Street where the flag pole is now.

Early 1950's picture of the gazebo

after the Carnation gardens were built
Where it sits today, 20 miles south east of the park in Corona Del Mar/Newport Beach. They decorate it for each holiday and Santa is here each year for an alternative to you run of the mill Mall Santa. Just an odd thing for a garden center, but this is Southern California and nothing surprises me anymore. a few miles away at Fashion Island another local outdoor high end shopping center, they build a special house for Santa near the Koi ponds. Most homeless people would love a house like this but it's built for Santa to use for about 6 weeks and then torn down each year.

Back to my story about Rogers Garden....

Lynn at the Ravelled Sleave was talking about artificial trees at $599.00 and I saw this 12 foot for $1,600. Why would you pay so much for a tree? People who have too much money and not enough sense that's who.

they had this huge rotating ornament that was about 4' in diameter rotating like a disco ball. I couldn't find a price tag.

The ornaments went from room to room to room.
These two are as large as footballs. What kind of tree would support a huge ornament like that?
The oriental pot was pretty in the purple but the Chinese lantern was so delicate like it was real paper and not ceramic.

This was almost too funny. I saw this replica of an ancient sculpture but I said it looked like 7:15 am when Mrs. Twisted leaves for work and I'm still snuggling in bed. She wasn't amused. :)

I thought I would show all of you the pansies in bloom. So much for it being December, try telling the flowers...

Hundreds and hundreds to chose from and all in bloom.

The Italian Cypress trees that are trained to be twisted are one of my favorites

Here are the ornaments we bought.

Mrs. Twisted loved the glass and wire chandelier and I found a lavender blown glass orchid.

Life Is Good