Thursday, June 30, 2005

Gangs of New York

Tonight was a 2-DVD movie from Netflix:  Gangs of New York (2002), directed by Martin Scorsese, staring Leonardo DiCaprio, Daniel Day-Lewis, Cameron Diaz, Jim Broadbent, John C. Reilly.

With that cast you'd think it would be a wonderful movie.  I didn't like it.  It was too bloody (thank you Mr. Scorsese).  The acting was terrific, but it was too bloody.  At one point Leonardo is literally sprayed with another man's blood.  Eeeewww.

I wonder if the history shown in the movie is real?  The movie says that during the Civil War thousands of Irishmen were sent to fight in the Union Army straight off the boat.  And there were riots in the streets of New York protesting the first federal draft in the USA.  Black men were strung up from lamp posts in New York City as a protest against being drafted into an army to save black people from slavery.

The movie paints a very dark picture of that time in NYC.  Even though I didn't like it, and wouldn't recommend it, I'd give it an A-.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Roses are taking turns

Summer heat is here,
and the roses drink it up.
Pale ones showing off.

Back yard ... click for larger image. Pinky White Roses in bloom ... click for larger image. The roses are taking turns strutting their stuff.  This week it's the pink-white bush full of blooms.

The sunflowers are still blooming too.  These sunflowers don't have seeds that attract the birds, which I kind of thought they would, since they are volunteers grown from sunflower seeds in the bird feeder.

Since summer is when I hibernate as much as possible, I go out in the morning before the sun comes up.  At 04:45 I jump in the pool and do whatever I can to get my heart going, mostly kicking.  I do some arm waving around, but, as the doctor recommended... nothing above the nipples.  Geez, I can't wait to be able to do real swimming again!

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Interweave Knits, Fall 2005

IK Cover, Fall 2005... click for larger image. I received my Fall, 2005, issue of Interweave Knits today.  Fall knitting magazines are the fat issues with lots of ads for yarn... the issue they want you to use to make your sweaters for Fall/Winter 2005-2006.

It's easy to be critical of other peoples' designs.  So, what have I designed for myself or others (socks)?  What patterns have I written for other people to use (none)?

Now that I've got the humility out of the way...

There isn't much I liked for myself in this issue.  Many sleaves are bell shaped at the cuff.  Those sleaves are just way too easy to drag through your dinner and impossible to push up your arms to get them out of the way.  Current fashion - bah!

But, there were some things I liked.  A couple of the staff-designed ponchos were nice wraps for wearing around the house in the winter.  There was a pair of socks by Nancy Bush that I liked.  (Nancy Bush is a sock goddess.)

If I were younger I'd like a wrap designed by Pam Allen.  It's a ballet-style wraparound sweater trimmed in fluffy yarn.  Again with those loose sleaves!

For those of us with a laptop computer, there is a felted wool laptop case... kinda cool.

I must be getting old, or perhaps it's because I live in a climate that doesn't get very cold, but I wouldn't make any of the sweaters in this issue.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Persy & Ruso

The cats eat dinner...
Persimmon and Caruso,
Think dining is swell

Persy at the dinner table ... click for larger image. Persy waiting to be served ... click for larger image. Ruso waiting to be served ... click for larger image.

I've been meaning to take these pictures and add them here for a while.  Every night Persy and Ruso join us for dinner.  Jan has them trained very well.  Persy is easy to train.  She's smart and extremely motivated by food.  Ruso isn't so easy to train because he's a dimwit... but he's still cute.


We saw Bewitched at the multi-screen theater today.  I agree with the NY Times review... this one is a disappointment.  They say, "The film's
screenwriters conjured up a very clever gimmick when they decided to
revamp a favorite 60's television show. Too bad they forgot that a
gimmick is no substitute for a screenplay, never mind a real movie

We take turns choosing, and I wasted my choice when I chose this one.  Is that enough variations on "choose" in one sentence?

There were a few laughs, but mostly it wasn't very good.  I blame the script.

I give it a C.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Wimbledon already?

It's Wimbledon time.
The Brit Henman was beaten.
Roddick still playing....

I spent some time in front of the TV today. Wimbledon's early rounds are fun - you get to see players called "qualifiers"  -  the up and comers as well as the just above average players.  One of the up and comers is Andy Murray from Scottland and he is the only UK hopeful left in the tournament after Tim Henman  lost.

Crocheted Chemo Hat is finished

Crocheted Hat from the top... click for larger image. Crocheted Hat from underneath... click for larger image. I finished the chemo hat while watching Wimbledon.  It's washed and blocking now.  The picture on the left is the top, and the picture on the right is the under side.  You can't see the shape right now, but think of it as one of those collapsible top hats in its collapsed state.

The yarn is 100% mercerized cotton, washable.  It's very soft, so it shouldn't feel scratchy on a bald head.

I hope she likes it.  I'll take it in to the library with me on Saturday.

The Cats' Garden

Sammy & Persy... click for larger image. Sammy (the black one) and Persy (Persimmon, the tabby) had a brief moment of cordiality today.  Most of the time Persy hisses when Sammy gets anywhere near her.   Sammy's been here almost two years!

Cats' grass... click for larger image. I planted a pot of grass for them all, but Ruso enjoys it the most.  He goes out after breakfast for a quick after breakfast salad.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

The Sea Inside

He wanted to die...
Visited the sea inside.
In the end, he won.

We saw a movie called The Sea Inside (DVD from Netflix).  This is a powerful movie about a quadriplegic who wants to die with dignity.  As a young man he was a sailor.  He dove into some shallow water and suffered a spinal injury.  He was in bed for at least 28 years, always looking for somebody who would help him die.  He was surrounded by people who loved him, but he still wanted to die.

His freedom during that time was internal.  He visited the sea inside his head.

It's based on a true story of a man who fought legal battles and lost (in Spain).  He finally found some people to help him.

I give this one an A+.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

First Day of Summer

It's still not too hot.
Sunflowers blooming brightly....
First day of Summer.

I read someplace that people can keep their minds active by composing at least one haiku per day.  A haiku is a short poem about everyday things (seasons, food, gardens, etc.).  The first line is 5 syllables, second line is 7, and the third line is 5 again: 17 syllables in all.

Wishing everybody a perfect summer... not to hot and not too foggy.


Vacuuming today -
Push the Kenmore back and forth.
Don't forget to mop.

While doing the housework this morning it occurred to me that the time for my shoulder surgery is coming sooner than I thought.  It's scheduled for July 18th, a Monday.  So what can I do with one arm?  I can drive, eat, walk, volunteer at the library to help people with the Internet computers, watch TV, read, and maybe knit.

What I can't do is lift my arm up, so I can't work at the library's circulation desk, vacuum, mop, swim, wash my hair (?).  I called somebody recommended by my cousin to do the vacuuming and mopping.  Her name is Wanda.  If she can do the work, then I shall call her Wonderful Wanda.

Weather is super today.  The roses are bursting out all over and there are several vases of them around the house, thanks to Jan.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Walking and Puttering

Today is the first nice day in a while and I think we might finally be headed into a real Chico hot spell, so what better place to spend it than outside?

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First there was a walk in Chico's own Mendocino National Forest Genetic Resource Center.  Mendocino is way over the coastal mountains West of here, but we have a piece of their National Forest here.  I'll never know why.  Comanche Creek runs through it and the nature trail is near the creek.

They have about 70 trees from places like California, Japan, Asia, China, England, Russia, Chile, Algeria, Australia, Palestine, Portugal, South Africa.  Many of the plants were planted during the USDA's Plant Introduction Program which began in 1904.

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Somebody must have thrown out wildflower seeds.  There are several patches of them in the park.  And we have our very own bat cave in one of the California Oaks.


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The Sunflower is going very well.  There are even more blooms under the bird feeders now.  This is the first time I've lived in a climate warm enough to grow them.  Why did it take 3 or 4 years to figure it out?

There is a Lilly that came all the way from Aptos, and is happy here.  It lives in a shady spot with it's own drip spout.

Maintenance, there is always maintenance.  I finally added drip lines to the big pot of geraniums, and also a drip line to the potted grass that grows for the cats.

Since I had the drip thingies I also fixed the THREE places in the front water lines that the damn gardeners whacked through with their bloody hedge trimmers.  I guess I can stop waiting for them to show up and fix it.

Friday, June 17, 2005

The Fog of War & Mr. and Mrs. Smith

This was another 2 movie day.

The second one was the better one.  The Fog of War (on DVD from Netflix), reviewed in the NY Times, is a documentary interview with Robert McNamara.  McNamara was the Secretary of Defense under Kennedy and Johnson, and was instrumental in managing, or Not managing, the Vietnam war.

McNamara was courted and hired by President Robert F. Kennedy.  McNamara was one of the "Best and Brightest" this country had to offer in 1961.  When he went to work for Kennedy he was the newly appointed president of the Ford Motor Company.

It was an extremely sobering film.  It would appear the current administration learned nothing from the mistakes made in Vietnam.  If you are interested in this subject, I recommend the review in the NY Times.

I give this one an A+, but not because I enjoyed it.

The first movie we saw today was Mr. and Mrs. Smith.  This one was lots more fun, but not nearly as good a movie.  Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie obviously had fun making this one.  This is an average Hollywood blockbuster.  It won't change your life and you'll probably forget the experience pretty quickly.

The NY Times says, "... lock and load.  That's pretty much the entire film, or what passes for its story."

I give this one a C, because Brad and Angelina were fun to watch :-)

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Math is a good thing

I am making a chemo cap.  It's the first crocheting I've done in a very long time.  I followed the instructions, but my gauge is not the same as the pattern maker assumes.  So, the hat wasn't right (too small).  Since I'm not an expert crocheter I decided I needed some help.  I knew I wanted the hat to have about a 21.5" head circumference, but didn't know what the diamter should be.  If I knew the diamter, then I could just keep making the top of the hat until it was the right size and then begin working downward toward the brim.  I decided to see if I could find out what the diamter should be.

Geometry was never my strong point in high school.  Back then, way back then, I couldn't figure out why I would ever need to know the diameter of a circle.  Finally, there is a use for it!  I found a website.  I plugged the formula into an Excel spreadsheet and presto(!)... now I know the diamter should be almost 7", about 6 5/6".  Who knew Pi could be your friend?

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Garden Update

Whacked Water Line ... click for larger image. Whacked Water Line ... click for larger image. The gardeners cut some of the water lines while they were whacking away at the plants in my front yard.  Big frown here!  I called the company and they will be by tomorrow to fix the two places they cut through.

PS:  Here it is June 17th, 2 days later, and the water system still hasn't been repaired.  Thank goodness it's raining!

Full Sail has white blooms ... click for larger image. Full Sail tree rose ... click for larger image. Tada!  Here is the new rose in the family.  It's a tree rose, called "Full Sail".  The blooms are white and they are described as having a honeysuckle aroma.  Whatever it is, it's nice.

Sampler Tabard Finished

Well here it is.  It took me two months, but it's finally finished.  The bit on the bottom below the lace was added because it came out too short.  It feels good and all those holes in the lace are good for our hot Chico weather.

It was fun to do, but I'm ready for something easy now.

Sampler Tabard ... click for larger image. Sampler Tabard from "A Gathering Of Lace", designed by Cheryl Oberle.  I found only one real error in the pattern, which I sent to XRX publications.  The yarn is Filatura Di Crosa's "Mirto" (41% cotton; 20% Linen, 39% Rayon).

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Hired Help

In my neighborhood we share a gardening service for the common front yards.  It's inexpensive and they come every week to "mow and blow".  That's the good news. 

Whack job... click for larger image. The bad news is they occasionally come by unannounced and use their power hedge trimmers to trim the hedges.  It's not like they actually prune the plants in an intelligent way.  They just whack away.  I hate the shaved look right after.  This is what they did to the front walk yesterday.  Persy isn't fond of it either.  Sammy doesn't care.

Since they do us as a group, it's very difficult to ask them to treat one yard differently than the others.  I've given up.  At least they didn't shave the forsythia.

The iris is gone... click for larger image. Also in the front yard is the crater created when the landscaper removed the iris plant I asked him to remove.  Now I have a wheelbarrow full of iris plant in the back yard waiting for Bill and Leslie to come pick up.  I'm planning to put a rose in its spot, and may order one today.

Volunteer Sunflower... click for larger image. The volunteer sunflower is blooming, and there are many buds which might open as well.  It's very summery and bright.

Sunday, June 12, 2005


We saw a "Millions" at the little Pageant Theater that shows good movies.  According to the NY Times review, it's ... a heartfelt, emotionally delicate children's movie about life and death and all the parts in between. 

I guess it's a children's movie.  One of the little boys talks to saints and wants to give the money to poor people.  It is his story we are seeing, complete with visions.

I thought it was cute, and would give it a B+.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Star Wars & Motorcycle Diaries

We saw two movies today - Star Wars: Episode III, Revenge of the Sith & The Motorcycle Diaries.

I didn't like the Star Wars movie nearly as much as the reviewers did, but the ending of this movie does make me want to see the first Star Wars movie again.  The first three Star Wars movies happen "after" the last three Star Wars movies, so the story is actually told out of sequence.  The current movie ends just before the first movie begins.  Confusing, eh what?  I'd give this one a C+ because I was tired of all the fight scenes and I thought the acting was pretty bad.  They could have done better.

I did like The Motorcycle Diaries (DVD from Netflix).  It's the story of a young Ernesto (Che) Quevara and his friend Alberto Granado.  These young friends take a trip all the way up the western side of South America, and along the way Quevara's political beliefs are formed.  It was a beautiful travel log of South America, tracing the exact trip that was made by the two young men in 1952.

I didn't realize that Che Quevara was an almost graduated medical student, and during this trip they spent some time volunteering in a leper colony. 

It makes me want to know more about his story.  I give this one an A+

Thursday, June 9, 2005

Around the yard

20050609 Rosebud... click for larger image. 20050609 Sunflower... click for larger image. 20050609 Angel... click for larger image.

I didn't take the pictures I meant to take at the library... too busy.  But I did take these pictures in the back yard.

The rosebud is the only rose blooming right now.

The Sunflower is a volunteer that resulted from feeding the birds.  I'm hoping it will open and be beautiful during the summer, and maybe even provide some food for the birds.

The Angel is a gift from Jan's nephew to her for her birthday.  Yes, the watering can is backwards, but that's how it was hung, so that's how it stays... unless maybe I go out there and fix it.

The weather is sultry today.  I think the rain is over, for now.  The temperature is in the mid-70's, but the humidity is 60%!

Wednesday, June 8, 2005

Work, work, work

Here it is Thursday and I haven't got much to share.

I've been knitting and working in the library.   Yesterday I took the sock yarn that I purchased in Heidelburg into my local yarn shop, The Yarn Basket, so the owner could fondle it.  The yarn is called "Silk" by Regia.  It's mostly wool, with about 20% silk.  It feels wonderful.  The owner said he had seen pictures but never been able to touch it, so he was happy to see it in person.

I think I'll take my camera to work today and take some pictures of the inside of the library so you can get a sense of what I do.

Monday, June 6, 2005

Hydrangeas & Sweater too short

Monday, the start of another week.  Monday's chores always include kitchen cleaning, grocery shopping, library volunteering, library working, and whatever else fits into the day.

Cut Hydrangeas... click for larger image

Yesterday I cut some hydrangea blossoms and put them in a vase.  I don't know how long they will last, but they look pretty good today.

The Sampler Tabard summer top

I finished it and decided it's too short, so I took out the bottom edge and picked up the loose stitches.  I'll knit about 4 or 5 more inches onto the bottom.  I've never attempted something like removing the bottom edge, except in a practice piece.  I'm so glad it worked!  It would have been a shame to work all that time and then lose all the work because I screwed up the alteration setup!

Sunday, June 5, 2005

The Twilight Samurai

Netflix delivered another DVD which  we watched tonight - The Twightlight Samurai, reviewed in the NY Times.

It's the story of a samurai who is not a warrior but a bookkeeper for his clan.  The time is the mid-1800's.  He is a widower who loves his sweet daughters and aging mother.  When a childhood sweetheart reappears as a divorced woman - the old flame still burns for both of them.

As the title implies, there is some fighting, but not a lot and the fight at the end of the movie is as much conversation as it is sword fight.

I give it a B+

Friday, June 3, 2005

Yosemite, June, 2005

Yosemite Valley... click on photo for larger image.

We went to Yosemite, saw the falls, had lunch at the Ahwanee, and now we are happy.  Here are some thumbnails and a trip report.  Click on the small photos to see larger images.

June 1, 2005: Drive to Mariposa

It was about a 6 hour drive from Chico to Mariposa, driving south on Hwy 99. Weather is fine, but windy.

The rice fields are flooded and some of the green rice plants are coming up. One has to wonder at the choice to grow such a water hogging crop as rice here in California. And of course the mosquitoes with their W. Nile virus just love all those rice ponds.

The car thermometer said we were driving through 91 degree heat between Merced and Mariposa.

The grasses are brown already.  I think the part of the Valley south of Sacramento is depressing.  I didn't see anything pretty .. just ugly town after ugly town.  There were obviously no town planners with a vision!

Golden California grasses with Oak trees... click for larger image. When we left hwy 99 on 140 E the scenery was nice... rolling foothills with grass blowing in the wind and oak trees for contrast. When the wind blows the grass the light gives it every shade of brown, beige, cream.

We are staying in Mariposa at the Miner's Inn... cheap at $69 per night plus tax.

June 2, 2005: Yosemite Valley

Merced River, Wild and Scenic... click for larger image. We drove from Mariposa to Yosemite Valley in NOT record time.  There were several stops in the road due to repaving.  We didn't mind the stops because the Merced river was a joy to behold.  Jan phrased it "Wild and Scenic" as a travel brochure might say it.

The river is full and running VERY fast.  There is white water everywhere and when we stepped out of the car at one of the delays on the road the river was roaring loudly.

Yosemite Falls... click for larger image. When we got to the valley the first thing we saw was El Capitan, and then Upper Yosemite Fall.  You could hear their thunder all the way accross the valley floor.  They are full and wonderful.

Flood bike path... click for larger image. Yosemite Falls Reflected... click for larger image. Parking was limited due to work being done on the Day Use Parking area.  We got there early enough to get a pretty good spot.  We walked around the valley floor, oohing and ahhing at the falls and trying find a way across the meadows that was passable.  Many of the regular paths were under water.

Ahwanee Dining Room... click for larger image. Ahwanee dogwood blossom... click for larger image. We made our way to the Village Store and then to the Ahwanee for lunch.  Lunch was wonderful and the Ahwanee is still beautiful.  The dogwood trees are just about finished, but there are still trees in full bloom.

Bridalveil Falls... click for larger image. We took a ride up to the Bridalveil Falls parking area and then the lookout over Yosemite Valley just up the road a little way.

We meandered back to mariposa, happy to have spent the day in Yosemite Valley.

June 3, 2005: Gold Country

Today is Jan's birthday.  Happy b'day, Jan!

Gold country, Hwy 49... click for larger image. We left Mariposa and drove North on Hwy. 49.  It was a beautiful drive through the gold country... many miles of twisty roads, wild flowers, oak trees, and old, historic towns (Sonora, Angels Camp, etc.).

There were many stops for road work.  It looks like many counties in California are getting road work dollars, but not our Butte county.

It was a good trip.  Where to next?