Friday, October 28, 2005

A visit to the New de Young Museum

Original de Young Museum The M. H. de Young Memorial Museum was an outgrowth of the California Mid-Winter Exposition of 1894, and was built in Golden Gate Park with 75-thousand dollars� profit left over from the exposition.

Unfortunately, it had to close in 2000 because of earthquake damage.

DeYoung Tower
DeYoung Front Door We visited the new de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park (San Francisco, CA).  It is tres modern, not like the old one at all.  This one cost over $200M, which makes it the largest privately funded cultural gift made to the city of San Francisco.

There is more information than you need on the de Young's web site.  It's a world class facility and will just keep getting better.  The outside that looks like scaffolding is really a copper facade.  With time it will do what copper does and develop that lovely patina.

Construction in Golden Gate Park, 2005
Golden Gate We went up to the top of the tower and had spectacular views of Golden Gate Park, the city and the bay.  The picture on the left is the construction site where the Aquarium and Sciences building used to be.  They are being rebuilt.  Don't worry the fish have a temporary home elsewhere in the city.

The picture on the right is the Golden Gate.  If you look carefully, you can see the top of the bridge on the horizon on the right side of the picture.  (As always, click for a larger image of the photos.)  It was a beautiful day in the park.

As always, Mike and Gilda were gracious hosts.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Fall Flags

20051026HalloweenFlagToday is our first rain day.  Yesterday I put a new flag in the front yard and you can see raindrops on the flag hangy thing.

It's not very big, the flag, only about 11 by 15 inches or so, but it get the point across.

I planted it in the grass, so I'll have to remember to move it next Monday morning before the mow and blow guys come... or maybe I'll leave it there just to see what they do.  My guess is that they will not touch it, and leave a thatch of grass that hasn't been mowed. 

The rain smells good!

Sleeves - from the top

20051026TopDownSweaterI'm almost done shaping the top of the set in sleeves on my prototype (i.e., mistake-ridden) sweater.

The body is finished - bottom border is garter stitch.  It fits, which is a wonderful thing.

I noticed when I was working the shoulder cables on the sleeves that the cable on one side had changed from a 6 stitch cable to a 4 stitch cable (from 3 twisted over 3 to 2 twisted over 2).  Oops.

Okay, now it's really a sweatshirt suitable for gardening only.  I'm not in the mood for ripping back the cable and fixing it.  So far the lessons I've learned are:

1) Keep the needles with the project.  If you need those needles for another project, then go buy them - or carefully pin a note to the project stating what size needles were used.

2) Take notes as you go.  If you are doing a saddle shoulder with a cable, for God's sake write down the cable stitch so you don't forget what you are doing.  (You might not be able to read the stitches in a dim room if the yarn is a dark color.)  And write down various numbers like now many you cast on, what gauge you are got on the swatch, etc.  It wouldn't hurt to write down measurements on a schematic of the project either.

Who knows, maybe I wrote all this stuff down and then "put it in a safe place", never to be found again.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

A Walk in the Park


A couple of days ago we visited Bidwell Park.  When the seasons change, like they are now, Chico's Bidwell Park is a pleasure to be in.

We went on a Friday morning, so there weren't very many people.

When I think about moving to some other town I keep asking myself, "Why?"

The bottom of the [knitting] bag

20051020BottomOfTheKnittingBagThe things you find when you clean out a dusty old knitting bag... in my case these are things that I didn't put away because I don't really have a home for them.  This is a symptom that it's time to organize my knitting!

Counter clockwise, starting at the top left: 

1) directions for toe up socks from a class taken several years ago.  They made sense during the class, but now they are useless;

2) red cotton stretch sock yarn (I wondered where that had gotten to);

3) a bunch of yarn ends from about three projects;

4) an antique doily knitted by my grandmother, stained but still beautiful.  I was thinking maybe someday to use it for inspiration when making my own doilies - right, like that's ever going to happen;

5) directions for a "Prayer Shawl".  It's an easy pattern, good for mindless knitting.  Now it's waiting on my dresser to find a permanent filed-away home;

6) my copy of the important pages from Nancy Bush's "Folk Socks".  I copied the pages in an effort to save the book from total destruction in the bottom of a knitting bag;

7) several pairs of double pointed needles that I don't use, but I don't really have a storage place for them... Note to self: make one of those needle cases for storing double pointed needles;

8) leftover yarn from a pair of socks finished sometime in 2004, I think.

Friday, October 21, 2005

North Country

We saw North Country today.  I give it an A+, from a working woman's perspective.  Similar movies are "Erin Brockovich", "Norma Rae", and "Silkwood".  It's about a historic class action law suit between women employees and a mining company in Northern Minnesota.  That's the background.  In the foreground is the story of one woman who initiated the law suit after being physically and psychologically harassed while working in a mine.

Charlize Theron plays the staring role well.  She's oppressed starting in high school, throughout a marriage to a husband who beats her, and in the mines as well.  She feels she has no choice but to fight back.

The story is supposed to be taking place in 1989.  I started working in 1969, and was well into my career in 1989.  I am so lucky I worked in a white collar world instead of blue.  I'm amazed that the kind of shit she had to put up with still went on in '89, and I wanted to shout at the movie screen, "Take that, you assholes!" 

Woody Harrelson plays an ex-hockey-playing lawyer.  Apparently he really is a skater, so they have him on the ice a few times.  He skates well, and he acts well in this movie.  He plays the sympathetic lawyer and there are some good courtroom scenes for him.

The rest of the cast is quite good.  There are character parts for several people you would recognize if you saw them, the most famous being Sissy Spacek.

The NY Times liked it, but thought it wasn't that great a movie.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Resurrecting Unfinished Work

Top Down Sweater
Shoulder Cable

First: Top Down Sweater; insert is stitch marker made by me.  Color is close to reality.  Second: close up of cable which is hard to see.  Color is washed out to help show cable.  Pictures taken December, 2002.  (Yarn = Lion Brand WoolEase)

I went to a meeting of local Chico knitters today.  It was fun and inspiring.  Since I don't have any other projects going right this minute, when I got home I decided to pick up a project that has been waiting for some attention since January of 2003!

It's a top down sweater with a cable that runs from the neck, over the shoulders, and down the sleeves.  To make the sweater you start at the shoulders, work down to the hem, then the neck finishing is done.  Next the sleeves are added.  I stopped at the point where I would pick up stitches and work the sleeves down from the top.  I don't know why I stopped, but I think it had something to do with being afraid that the sleeves would look awful because I've never done a set in sleeve cap before.  Also, the yarn isn't the greatest, but it's okay for a sweater that will turn into a sweatshirt type thing.

Since 2003 it sat there and it sat there.  When I unfolded it this evening it was a little fuzzy and had some embedded cat hair.  I couldn't find my notes and the needles were long ago taken for other projects.  I plunged in, guessing at a size 8 needle. 

It turns out that working the short rows in the sleeve cap is simpy. 

This is going to make a great gardening sweater for the Fall!

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Fall in the neighborhood

I went outside to take pictures of the beginning of Fall, before the leaves all go woomph onto the ground.

Fall Ivy
Our mailboxes It's
Fall by the Mailboxes, and it's starting to be Fall in the garden as well.  The picture on the left is a closeup of the ivy growing on the fence.  The tree with the red leaves is a plum tree that makes beautiful flowers in the Spring.

Speaking of mailboxes, I have a friend who lives in the little town of Aptos, CA, near a state park.  She says her mailboxes are being vandalized and the mail stolen.  Since she lives in a condo I assume their mailboxes are like mine (pictured right).  Can you imagine that it's going to cost $5K to move their 49 mailboxes to a safer location?  It sounds like a lot of money to me, but then again, I think $2.81 (USD) is a lot of money to pay for a gallon of gas.  I wonder if it wouldn't be cheaper and maybe more fun to install surveillance cameras at the existing mailboxes in order to catch the creeps doing the damage!

Pistachio Berries I've been told this is a Pistachio tree.  I thought maybe it would make pistachio nuts for me.  No such luck.  This is a pistacia atlantica (aka "Mount Atlas Pistache").  I have three of them growing in full sun, providing shade for the afternoon hot side of the house - or at least there will be shade in a few years.  In the Fall the females make these little red berries which the migrating flickers (I think) just love.  Maybe someday I'll capture one of the birds in pixel form.

Yellow Rose
Stuffed Pumpkin The roses are still blooming... the red, pink, double delight and yellow.  They are happy in this brief time between blistering hot and too cold to grow.  Can Halloween be far off?  The stuffed pumpkin on the right is the only pumpkin in residence so far, unless you count the ceramic pumpkin that has a bag of candy in it.  Said ceramic pumpkin is by the front door where it doesn't get noticed very much and so far has evaded treat seeking hands.

Well, that's the state of the house.  I hope you are all having a nice day.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Network Ratings

I watched an episode of Firefly tonight (in reruns on the Sci Fi Channel).  The Prologue showed a sadist torturning a man - mean looking tools used to inflict pain, lots of screaming and blood.  Then it cut to a commercial.  Then the program started. 

During the credits there was a warning that the program might not be suitable for children.  I don't remember seeing that warning before, and  I thought to myself that the warning came a little late.  The bad guy had already been shown ripping the guts out of a prisoner.

One of the characters on the show is a courtesan.  As the show went on it bacame clear that her companion this episode was a woman.  So that's what the warning was about!

This country has it's values so backward.  A simple carress between two women is verboten.  In fact it would be better if sex just weren't protrayed at all, no matter who is involved.  But it's okay to show, even glorify violence.  That's just wrong.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Lake Almanor Day Trip

Fall Color on CA Hwy 32
Deer Creek, CA Hwy 32 We went looking for Fall color again today.  Just East of Chico is the Southern end of the Cascade Mountains.  If you drive East out of Chico on Hwy 32, you'll end up pretty close to Mt. Lassen, an active volcano.

Anyway, the color is happening.  The dogwoods are all a beautiful red color.  The Aspens and Birches are golden.  Creekside shrubbery is painted red and gold.  The picture on the left was taken in the morning, on the way up the mountains, and the picture on the right was taken in the afternoon, on the way down.

Lake Almanore Path
Bear Pillow Our destination today was Lake Almanor.  There is a nice path (paved) that skirts the edge of the lake, starting near the Rocky Point Campground.  The path was covered with needles from the trees... very nice.  The only animal life we saw was a squirrel, but we heard some interesting sounding bird calls.

After walking we headed to Chester for lunch.  We meant to go to Cynthia's Bakery for a sandwich on house-made bread; however, Cynthia doesn't serve lunch during Fall and Winter.  We ended up next door at the "Knotbumper" for a simple, but good lunch.

The sign where we parked said the parking was for Cynthia's or the Gallery Only, so after lunch we browsed through the Gallery.  They had some nice prints, as well as some cute pillows.  The one shown on the right, above, is a flannel pillow with button closure, decorated with an appliqued bear and trees.  It appears that the applique was attached to the pillow with smaller buttons.  This would be a great idea for some talented person who wanted to whip out a bunch for holiday gifts.

Another good day out of Chico... next week is maybe a hike to Deer Creek Falls.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

In Her Shoes

We went to see IN HER SHOES today.  This one is an A+ "chick flick".  It's the story of two sisters played by Toni Collette and Cameron Diaz, and their loves, fights with each other and their family.  It's heart warming.  I cried.  I laughed. Shirley Maclaine plays their grandmother very well.  It's one of those pictures where the characters have grown and changed be the end of it.

The NY Times says, "In his newest film, Curtis Hanson (" L. A. Confidential") wrests a
richly textured story of love from a seemingly unlikely source,
Jennifer Weiner's breezy bestselling fiction about two sisters ... engaged in an epic battle of the
heart, a fight waged mostly against each other and their own best

Click on the photo to see the full review.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Morning Stars

On my morning swim these days the most interesting constellation I see is Orion.  The top two stars are the hunter's shoulder joints, bottom two are his knees, and the bright three in the middle are his belt.  It's an appropriate collection of stars to see, considering my shoulder and knee pain and expanding waistline.  Perhaps I need to have a conversation with this morning hunter as I float on my back in the morning darkness.  I'll take guidance from whereever it might come.

This morning I saw my first shooting star of the season!  Life is good.

Sunday, October 9, 2005

A History of Violence

I saw A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE today.  I give this one an A+ for acting, but it's a very violent movie, which is why it gets its R rating.  Oh, and there is some sex between a man and his wife, but that probably factors into the R rating as well.

It's about a happily married man with two kids who runs a diner in a small town.  Two hateful men attempt to rob his diner and kill the people inside, but he, Tom, kills them instead - in a very professional way.  He makes the headline news and a string of violent killings follows.  Is Tom in the witness protection program?  ... mobster on the run?  ... trained by the Feds?  You will have to see the movie.

But what is interesting is not(!) the violence, but the family of Tom and how they react to it all.  In the end, I didn't know whether or not the Tom character was a good guy, but he's definitely scary and a little intriguing.

Viggo Mortensen, as Tom, does a very good job, as does Maria Bello, Ed Harris, and William Hurt.  I don't remember seeing the actor playing the son before, Ashton Holmes, but he is good too.  It was directed by David Cronenberg who specializes in dark violence.

Friday, October 7, 2005

Turtle Bay in Redding

Sundial Bridge, Redding

Sacramento River, Redding Sundial Bridge, Redding
We went to the Turtle Bay Exploration Park in Redding, CA, today.  We went to see the Sundial pedestrian bridge, opened in 2004.  It's pretty cool!  The part you walk on is made of glass blocks, as are the sides.  The idea was to create few shadows... something to do with salmon spawning in the Sacramento River.  There were several fishermen/women out catching their limit today (don't know what they were catching), and the view from the bridge overlooking the river went on for miles and miles.

Garden at Turtle Bay
Mosaic Tutle
Mosaic Fountain This year (2005) Turtle Bay opened a wonderful garden.  It was two years in the making.  There are several differently themed gardens within the boundaries of the garden.  I forget what the purple garden (picture left) was called, but it was a delight to be in.  Two gardens I remember are "Chile" and "Australia" containing plants from those areas.

They also have a mosaic fountain that is lots of fun.  It's in a garden area that was built for kids to enjoy, but today there were several senior ladies there.  It must have been some kind of senior day because our entrance charge was for two seniors instead of one senior and one adult, even though we told the girl I wasn't that old yet :-)  Anyway, one of these ladies put her sun glasses on the mosaic turtle and rather than ask her to take them off, I just snapped my picture with the sun glasses on (picture right).  The mosaic is full of many, many different colors and images, and there is tile, semi-precious stones, glass, and who knows what else in the mosaic.  The fountain burbled away in the sunlight and was beautiful.

I plan to go back to the gardens in the Spring to see what it looks like then.  Right now it's looking a little parched, but still really beautiful.  I can't imagine what it will be like in April.

Tuesday, October 4, 2005


Hollowig Now that I'm finished with Macey's blanket, I'm on to the next gift.  It's a Halloween Wig, designed by Megan Reardon, published by  If you click on the wig picture, the pattern will be displayed (assuming the links are not broken).

This is for my boss at work, because she needs some cheering up.  It will be in bright red.  I wanted to find some yellow, but couldn't.  I cast on and have knit a couple of inches.  I'm using the yarn called for in the pattern... Red Heart (yucky acrylic), which happens to be perfect for this project.  It's stiff and ungiving, so it will hold its shape.  I must say that my hands don't like working with this stuff.  It's like knitting with spun plastic.

It shouldn't take too long to finish, so she should have it in time to wear it on Halloween, if she wishes.

Serenity (Firefly, the Movie)

Serenity Cast

We saw the movie Serenity last Sunday.  I'm a fan of the Firefly Science Fiction television series, so this was a fun movie.  I give it a B+ for fun.  A couple of the fights were over long, but a good time was had by those what didn't die.

The NY Times says, It probably isn't fair to Joss Whedon's "Serenity" to say that this unassuming science-fiction adventure is superior in almost every respect to George Lucas's aggressively more ambitious "Star Wars: Episode III  - Revenge of the Sith."  But who cares about fair when there is fun to be had?

Macey's Blanket is Finished

Macey's Blanket Macey's Blanket is finished, in the bag, and the gift card is signed. Imagine, finished more than 24 hours before delivery!

It turned out a little smaller than I suspected it would from the guage swatch, but it's not too small for a newborn's blankie. I hope mom, Kim, likes it.

Sunday, October 2, 2005

Mozart Mile

Mozart Mile tshirt
Mozart Mile Start Jan entered both of us in the 27th Annual Mozart Mile, which is a benefit for the North State Symphony.  It is held in Chico's Bidwell Park, the jewel of Northern California City Parks.  After we collected our tshirts, we assembled at the start.  The runners went first, then the walkers, and then the dog walkers.  There were some really cute dogs milling around with their walkers at the starting area.  One dog, a greyhound, turned around and smiled at Jan when Jan called her "pretty girl" -- the dog must have been used to being called that by her mom.  (That's Jan behind the lady in the sun glasses, and the tshirt is wavy because it was resting on the stairs when I took the picture.)

Most of the pictures in today's post are just a little blurry because I took them without the benefit of something to stabilize the camera and my hands haven't gotten any less shaky.

Mozart Mile Violinists
Mozart Mile Flautist
Mozart Mile Cellist So, the starting gun went off and we all began our run/walk through the park.  My pace is more of a saunter, and I stopped frequently to take pictures.  There were members of the orchestra playing along the side of the park road as we walked.  It makes it a special day.

Chico Creek
Bidwell Park Dirt Path After we crossed the creek to head back towards our parked car, we left the organized walk and took the dirt path.  The Mozart Mile course is all paved, and my hips and Jan's feet prefer a softer path.  Today there were two deer on the path.  It's amazing to see them out so late in the morning in a city park.  They must have been flushed out by all the people on the paved road.  We also saw a hawk who sat on a branch and called to whoever was listening... trying to compete with the flutes?

Speaking of wildlife, later in the morning Sammy put on a mouse torture-killing-eating show.  He's a real hunter and catches mice in the ivy growing on the fences.  He was so proud of himself!