It started with the tree.

The mimosa tree, planted the first spring I lived in this house, had become a thing of beauty loved by myself and all of the neighbors. It grew with a fairly short main trunk which divided into two major branches, holding its broad umbrella canopy partly over my back yard and partly over my right-hand neighbors’ yard – one limb each. They have a two-story house, and very much enjoyed looking out of their upper windows onto its smoky pink blossoms. I spent a lot of time watching the scrappy little hummingbirds chase each other around while arguing over the best flowers. I loved the way all of its leaves closed up after dark. On warm summer evenings, I always made sure to tell it good night. It was always the last thing to wake up in the spring, and the last to go to sleep in the fall.

This year, right before Thanksgiving (that’s at the end of November for you non-USA readers), we had several days of high winds and pounding rain and general icky weather. But the house and the yard held up quite nicely and life went on.

One day, I was minding my own business when I heard a loud creeeeeeek craaaaaaack BANG! [house shake] whummmmp sound of pattering cat feet high-tailing it to parts unknown

What are you guys doing? I said as I strode purposefully down the hall. Because Moo Cow and Captain Kidd had acted guilty, so I was immediately suspicious. But as I wandered through the house, nothing seemed amiss. I looked out the front window. Everything looked OK. I looked out the back door.

alas, poor tree, I knew it well...
alas, poor tree, I knew it well…

My tree!

My beautiful, beloved mimosa had split in two, right down the trunk. Sadly I went outside to survey the damage. The limb overhanging the neighbors’ yard still stood. The part overhanging my grape arbor was down. But, thoughtfully, it had missed every major structure in the yard, including the house and back fence. My little backyard head sculpture (named Todd the weather god long ago by #1 Son) sat sadly amongst the litter of branches and seed pods, with one grape leaf clinging forlornly to its forehead. The only bit of damage appeared to be the last 2×4 slat on the arbor, which had been knocked off but not broken, and possibly a minor limb or two on the mini cherry trees.

But the mimosa…

The split started at the divide of the major branches and went nearly to the ground. It was something of a miracle that half still stood. And it was a good thing, as that half would have taken out the fence and most likely done some damage to their yard and maybe their house. It was fairly obvious the tree could not be saved.

With great sadness I contact the Yard Guy and told him that the tree would need to be removed, and he might as well do the winter clean up while he was here. We’ll come next Monday, he replied, and added That’s too bad. I always liked that tree. It was a really pretty one. We’ll clean your gutters while were there, too.

I made a mental note to check the grape vines over the weekend and see where all they’d gotten to. The grapes have a tendency to want to come in the house, and have been known to wrap themselves around #1 Son’s bedroom window and through the window screen, which is right there next to them. I wanted to show the vine the error of its ways before the Yard Guy came, and at least pull it away from the shutter.

On Thursday, my cell phone rang just as I was walking into a meeting. Since the meeting hadn’t started yet, I answered.

Hello. This is Alarm Central Monitoring. We have detected a breach in security at your house. It appears that one of your bedroom windows has been compromised. We have dispatched the Sheriff and he should arrive momentarily. (yes, they really do talk like that)

I felt an immediate surge of adrenalin and was instantly on high alert. I’m leaving now and I’ll be home in 20 minutes. The Sheriff can call me at this number. I poked my head in the door of the meeting room and said, sorry, gotta go, house being burgled and ran for the parking lot. As I ran, and drove, I wondered if the cats were OK, and the computers, and the special big plastic box, and the yarn stash (surely they would not want my yarn stash?). Oh the poor cats. Kidd would freak out and die outside in the cold. Had I really remembered to store all of the exceedingly important files off site? My house!

Half way home, my cell rang again. Hi. This is the Sheriff. I checked out your house, and everything looks OK. There’s a crew there doing some yard work. Looks like they rattled the window or something. But everything was locked up tight. I don’t think you need to hurry home. Looks OK!

Todd the weather god
Todd the weather god

Yard crew? The Yard Guy wasn’t supposed to be there until Monday. WTF? Would burglars act like a yard crew in order to throw the Sheriff off? Would the Sheriff buy it? (And, most importantly, would the burglars do some yard work while they were at it?)

I thanked the Sheriff and proceeded home. And, sure enough, there was Yard Guy and his crew. The mimosa (RIP) lay in pieces on the font lawn while a couple of guys cut it up and tossed it into a big truck. Many loud, gas-powered, testosterone-driven tools were at work, drowning out the neighborhood peace. Yard Guy was in the back of the truck, loading up tree parts. I walked over. Hi there! I wasn’t expecting you today. I shouted.

Yard Guy: We weren’t doing much today, so I decided we might as well come over and take your tree out and do your clean up. Did you know the Sheriff was here?

Me: Yeah. I am aware of that. That’s sort of why I’m here.

Yard Guy: Oh! Yeah. I rattled a back window or something, getting the grape vines off of it. Apparently your alarm went off, but I didn’t hear it. It might still be going off. Come in the back yard and I’ll show you what were were doing.

Now, gentle reader, my alarm is very loud. I have set it off a time or two myself, accidentally. Not only does it use a piercingly shrieking, air-raid siren loud alarm, but it yells at you. In English. Warning! You have entered a secured area. Leave immediately! The entire neighborhood can hear it. The fact that, standing in my back yard, I could not hear it at all – and in fact could barely hear it with my ear pressed against the window – gives you an idea of the noise being generated by the yard crew and their myriad tools.

I went inside, where the sound of the alarm was quite noticeable, and shut it off. Then went back outside to shout have a conversation with Yard Guy.

Yard Guy: I thought I sort of heard something. But nobody else could hear it, so we just ignored it. Do you want me to put that 2×4 back up on the arbor?

Me: Yes, please. That would be very nice of you.

As well as taking out the tree and mending the arbor, they also cleaned out the gutters (and repaired one that was coming loose), trimmed and pruned and edged, and got the yard ready for winter. I really do love Yard Guy and his crew. They do a wonderful job. It was just that they didn’t come when expected, and I didn’t have time to get ready for them. Unfortunate, you know.

And it didn’t end there…

Next… there is more… and maybe knitting, too.

Knitting |Sock Summit by Judy @ 8:42 AM

So… #1 Son had this little mishap with his car (everyone is OK, car is not). Work sort of blew up into this massive amount of… well… work (go figure). There’s this little book thing that’s sort of taking over every spare minute of my waking life (and much of my sleep, as it turns out). And I’m frantically trying to get ready to teach two classes I’ve never taught before (or are at least in a new format) before the lovely Sock Summit organizers (bless them for taking that on!) email me and ask for stuff that I’m not ready yet to give them.

So… I guess it will come as no surprise that I’m sort of on hiatus here at PI. I mean, it’s kinda obvious that I’m not posting much. So I’m making the hiatus official. For the next three months, I will be posting on a very infrequent basis, and only when something special comes along that I really want to talk with you about. I am managing to tweet a bit, so feel free to follow me on Twitter, where I can be found as JudyBecker (I’m so clever with names, aren’t I?). I do try to check Ravelry every day. And the old e-mail in box is always open. I will return. I just need one part of my life to calm down just a little bit.

But today, I also have something special to tell you about!

And I’m doing that in the next post, so it doesn’t get mixed up with this one.

Miscellaneous Musing by Judy @ 8:44 AM
tags: , ,

Oregon beach
Oregon beach

This coming Saturday is the 25th annual Oregon spring beach cleanup, organized by
SOLV (Stop Oregon Litter and Vandalism).

The very first beach cleanup in the nation was held in Oregon in 1984. Since then, beach cleanups have spread to all of the US States and Territories, and to countries around the world. (Oregon is like that. We had the first bottle bill, too.) Visitors often comment on how clean our beaches are.

There are two beach cleanups every year: spring and fall. Last spring, the 362 miles of Oregon beaches were cleaned of some 111,000 lbs of trash. That’s a lot of garbage, gentle reader. There’s usually more in the spring because the winter storms bring icky stuff to the shore.

This Saturday’s cleanup starts at 10:00 AM and goes to 1:00 PM. The SOLV site has a list of the 44 different locations you can report to, spread from the Washington border all the way down to California. It’s a great family or group outing. SOV asks you to give the Zone Captain a heads-up if you are bringing a large group. Otherwise, just show up at one of the check-in points to receive a collection bag and instructions. The out-of-the-way location typically have fewer volunteers than the ones in town, so consider going to one of the lonelier spots if you can.

Dress warmly in layers with a waterproof outer layer because the forecast says rain, wind, cold, March. And be sure to wear gloves! And have fun!

Knitting |Miscellaneous Musing by Judy @ 6:36 PM

fossil tree
fossil tree

This flu thing… it really got me down, gentle reader. But I am finally on the mend, and heartily glad! Hopefully I will have energy now for little things like, well… blog posting. I was even too sick to go to my 40th 8th grade graduation, which bummed me out to no end.

And it’s been hard, you see, to talk about knitting. This project — can’t talk about it because it’s secret. And I can’t tell you about that project either because — it’s secret. And there’s a third project I can’t tell you about because (do I sound like a broken record?) — it’s secret. So I am having to wait until secret projects get finished and to their intended recipients before I can show them to you. And that makes for boring blogging.

I did go to the annual auction with my MIL a while back. But, alas, the economy held me back. I bid on only a few items in the silent auction this year, and I didn’t bid at all during the out-loud auction. Of all of the things I bid on, this little tree is the only one that I was high bidder. It was my favorite thing I bid on, so I’m glad it came home with me. All of the little leaves are pieces of petrified wood, and the base is a fossil ammonite. It makes my inner geek feel all warm and fuzzy.

blue Spirogyra
blue Spirogyra

There is one secret project that I am able to show you. These mitts went to my friend L last Friday. She’s modeling them. She wears several rings, so gloves are out. But fingerless mitts just fit the bill. And she loves glittery, shiny things. I wish that the Glam Sock sparkles photographed better.

Yes, it really is that blue!

The Particulars:

    • Yarn: Stitchjones Glam Sock (63% superwash merino, 20% silk, 14% nylon, 2% silver), 420 yds per 3.5 oz/100 g skein, in colorway Marine — I used a fraction of the total and have tons left.
    • Needles: a pair of Addi Turbo 24″ circulars, US#3 (3.25 mm) and a pair of Addi Lace 24″ circulars, US#2 (3.00 mm)
    • Pattern: Spirogyra by Lynne Vogel
    • Modifications: none. Really.

Knitting |Miscellaneous Musing by Judy @ 7:46 AM

afternoon view
afternoon view

I really thought that the week was going to calm down a little bit.

That was before #1 Son’s computer started having what we in the vaguely techie business like to call issues. When in need, #1 Son always calls Mom’s Tech Support. This particular incident ended up requiring a complete wipe of the hard drive and reinstall of XP, and there were driver issues and… I won’t bore you with the details. But it took time.

And then there was the little incident where the nice officer on the lovely motorcycle stopped me as I was on my way home from dropping the fur kids off at the Cat B&B. He informed me that I’d just been doing 30 in a school zone. I’m usually very, very careful about that. In my defense, it was a high school that sits way back from the main street. It was the middle of the morning and no children were anywhere to be seen. And I admit to a bit of distraction as I tried to figure out how to cram 3 days of activities into about 8 hours.

I banged my head against my fortunately knit cozy clad steering wheel while the nice officer wrote out a ticket.

And then I ended up sort of needing a second root canal. The good news is that now the pain is all gone. But it took time. Actually, more time than usual.

I have a very tiny mouth. (No comments from you out there in the peanut gallery.) But it turns out that I have deep roots and a lot of nerve. So it takes a bit of doing to make sure I don’t feel anything while the whole root canal procedure is being performed. And that takes time. But with that finally accomplished, Dr. P was happily reaming out my tooth, and I was happily ignoring the whole thing as I lay there with what feels like a balloon pressed against my mouth and drool running down my chin, when the light went out.

You know. That light that the dentist shines in your face so that the inside of your mouth is lit up? That light. It went out. The. Light. Went. Out.

After a stunned silence, a mad flurry of activity ensued as everyone in the office tried to change the light bulb. (I just know there’s a really good joke in there.) It turns out that those light thingies are quite complicated mechanisms and you have to practically take the whole thing apart just to change this itsy bitsy light bulb. And the person in the office who used to change all of the light bulbs because she just loooooved doing it so much had retired the month before. And nobody was really sure of the best approach.

It was suggested that I be moved to the next room. But the room wasn’t ready and it was announced that in that room the brain wouldn’t boot up. I have no idea what that meant. But I really had no desire to be in a room where the brain wouldn’t boot while my mouth was under construction.

As the mad flurry whirled around, Dr. P (love this man) calmly continued with his business, mostly by feel and with the help of a little hand held fiber optic spot light. I lay in the chair, drool dripping from my chin and laughing at the absurdity. Because, really, what else could I do?

Eventually Dr. P reached the point in the whole operation where more light became necessary. What are you doing? he asked the light bulb changers.

It’s difficult to do and you have to use this spreader and it’s hard to get it in the right place. was the reply, in a tone that said you obviously have no idea how to do this or you would understand.

Dr. P stood up. Give me the screwdriver. And he started in trying to take the thing apart.

I have been taking things apart and putting them back together since I could hold a screwdriver, and I desperately wanted to get up and get in on the fun. But, all things considered, I decided it was safer to stay where I was and watch from the sidelines. Eventually the old bulb was removed, the new bulb was inserted and the light fixture was returned to a fairly usable state. Dr. P finished up his business, my tooth was reconstructed in a temporary sort of way, drool was wiped off my chin and I was off back to the races.

I ran home, threw a few more driver disks at #1 Son, threw a load of laundry in the washer, and headed out the door to Westside Wednesday Sip ‘N’ Stitch because I really felt that, all things considered, I deserved at least a short bit of knitting with my peeps. I had decided that I would just plead guilty to the traffic ticket (remember the ticket? – that was before the root canal) and make it go away. So, carefully following instructions, I signed the ticket, wrote out a check, tucked both inside an envelope addressed to the correct location. And just as I stuffed it into the slot in the mail box and it left my grasp never to be recovered, I realized that I’d sort of forgotten to put a stamp on it.

Yeah. It was just that kind of week.

But today is ever so much better. The pic is of the view out my back door yesterday afternoon. I am at Cat Bordhi’s annual visionary retreat, where I am surrounded by amazing people in this gorgeous setting and my creative juices are flowing. And I may even get some work done on the book. But blogging, I’m afraid, may be sporadic for the next few days. I could tell you all about the retreat and who’s here and all, but then I’d have to kill you or something because it’s all a deep, dark secret and very mysterious and blah, blah, blah. (It’s actually a lot of hard work.) But I will try to blog more from Madrona, where I will attempt to Kennear all kinds of famous people — maybe even the Yarn Harlot!

Food |Knitting by Judy @ 10:58 AM

Broad Street mittens
Broad Street mittens

This is Secret Project #1 that I have not been able to show you until now. It was the last finished object of 2008. I am modeling these because I wasn’t sure of my ability to get #1 Son to pose. (click the pics to embiggen) They’re a little big on me, but fit him perfectly.

I had really a lot of fun knitting these. I made the thumbs also convertible, because that seemed cool and fun. It took me several tries to get a thumb I liked, but I’m really happy with the way that these turned out.

The buttons were a happy find at Jo-Ann. They are made from a polyresin material that’s flexible, so the buttons won’t break and won’t hurt his wrist if #1 Son bangs them against something accidentally.

#1 Son’s take: star.gifstar.gifstar.gifstar.gifstar.gif Oh, yes! Do you know how hard it is to find mittens with convertible thumbs? You just can’t get them. These are awesome! And the buttons – how cute are those! And look, I can hang them up by the loops! How did you get them just the right size? [ed. I followed the pattern and crossed my fingers]

Broad Street mittens
Broad Street mittens

The Particulars:

  • Yarn: Blue Moon Socks That Rock medium weight Mill End in an unknown colorway that I picked up at Tina’s destashing sale
  • Buttons: JHB Clay Swirl buttons purchased at Jo-Ann
  • Needles: a pair of Addi Turbo 24″ circulars, US#3 (3.25 mm) and a pair of Addi Lace 24″ circulars, US#2 (3.00 mm)
  • Pattern: Broad Street by Janis Cortese
  • Modifications:
    • I ribbed all of the fingers because #1 Son likes the fingers snug
    • I made the thumb also convertible by knitting it in stockinette and ribbing the last 3 rows. Then I followed the directions for the mitten part, except in miniature, to add the convertible part, except I kit the end following the thumb instructions so it would look and fit right. (hope that made sense)

Andean Chullo
Andean Chullo

And this is Secret Project #2 – the Andean Chullo Hat Kit from Knit Picks.

It became the first finished object of 2009 because I was up until the wee hours weaving in little ends that I stupidly did not weave in as I went. And there were a @%#! bunch of them, gentle reader. After sleeping for a few hours, the hat got a very quick steam-block, which fortunately turned out to be all it needed. I sewed the tassels on in between dinner preparations and such. It was finished, photoed and wrapped about an hour before #1 Son showed up for dinner. Whew.

#1 Son’s take: star.gifstar.gifstar.gifstar.gifstar.gif Mom! you are really rockin’ this knitting stuff! This is the best hat ever, and it fits perfectly. Look at the little alpacas on the earflaps! Too cute! My friends are going to be so jealous. They couldn’t believe all the kitted stuff from you that I wore when it was cold and snowy. [ed. that warms the cockles of my heart! what more could a mom want to hear?] So you had to finish this and is that the reason I couldn’t come up on Christmas? [ed. No! that wasn’t it at all!] Haha… Oh, yeah… there was this snow thing, huh.

Andean Chullo
Andean Chullo closeup

Here’s a closeup of the main body of the hat. I’m using this picture as my iPhone wallpaper now. 😉

The Particulars:

  • Pattern: Knit Picks Andean Chullo Hat Kit
  • Yarn: Knit Picks Pallette included in the kit – 100% Peruvian Highland Wool, 231 yds/50 gr per ball – portions of 9 colorways: Sweet Potato, White, Bark, Semolina, Pimento, Blue, Clover, Masala and Pool. There’s plenty left over for another hat, or two, or three.
  • Modifications: none. Really. The pattern is a choose your own adventure. You pick one of two earflap charts, four of six pattern band charts, and one of two different hat top charts. Colors are suggested but not dictated and I did change one or two.

Andean Chullo inside
Andean Chullo inside

And for those of you just dying to see the inside (you know who you are), here you go.

I’m a two-handed fair-isle knitter — that is I hold one color in my left hand and pick it, and the other color in my right and throw it. Philosopher’s Wool has a wonderful video that shows this technique. Their technique recommends not having floats longer than two stitches. On this hat I have floats up to 5 stitches. Do watch their video if you have not done so before. Their weaving stitches are very cool.

I will probably knit another of these hats and be a bit more adventurous with the colors. The kit came with enough yarn to knit several.

modeling the goods
modeling the goods

Happy #1 Son with his hat and mittens. 😀 He wore the hat for a goodly portion of the time he was here, so I think it was very successful.

I made a pot of chili and a pan of corn bread. We ate and watched Mission: Impossible III on cable – which is way fun when you can cheer Tom on and jeer the bad guys and discuss the physical possibilities of actually doing any of the stunts in real life and why the heck can’t they get a better camera angle than that one and isn’t the technology and aren’t the gadgets just the coolest things ever?

The chili came from a kit that was a gift from one of my cousins. The kit was made by the Women’s Bean Project, a nonprofit organization that helps women to transform their lives and move to self-sufficiency by teaching entry-level job readiness and life skills. My kit came with enough for two batches of chili – one Firehouse and one Mild – and spices for two batches of salsa.

The chili mix comes with the beans and spices, and you add a can of tomatoes, onion and green peppers. I had made the Firehouse chili earlier in the week, and found it very mild and in need of salt. #1 Son and I both like our chili pretty hot, and if that was the Firehouse I couldn’t imagine how mild the Mild would be.

So, besides the tomato, onion and green pepper, I added a bit of salt, a big Anaheim chili and about a tablespoon of dried chipotle chili. ( The kit suggested adding a teaspoon of chili powder if desired. teaspoon… hahahahaha) I’m not sure how much chili I added because I poured it in until I thought it looked like enough but it was probably around a tablespoon.

For some reason the beans refused to soften up all the way – and I’m sure that was cook’s mistake somewhere, although I followed what I usually do with dried beans. But I was also trying to get a hat finished, so I may have been distracted. At any rate, some of the beans had a sort of al dente texture – nice in pasta but not quite what you want in beans. But the chili tasted wonderful! #1 Son ate two helpings and took the leftovers home.

The cornbread was from the recipe on the back of the Albers Yellow Cornmeal box. It’s the recipe I’ve always used – fast, easy, and comes out great.

#1 Son’s take on dinner: star.gifstar.gifstar.gifstar.gifstar.gif Perfect chili, Mom! Good and hot, but not so hot that it’s not really tasty. What kind of chli did you add? Good choice! And you always make the best cornbread ever! I tell all my friends how good your cornbread is.

Do you think I should tell him what recipe I use? Nah… 😉



  • Translate
  • Thought of the Minute
  • Word Of The Day
  • Current Weather


  • November 2017
    • November 2017
      S M T W T F S
      « Feb    
       1234
      567891011
      12131415161718
      19202122232425
      2627282930  
  • Book! Beyond Toes
  • Let's Talk
    • email me at

    • Or find me here:

  • Say What?
    • Roberta: Thank you so much, this looks so much more...
    • Linda: Thank you so much, Judy!
    • Linda: Thank you so much for this tutorial, Judy!
    • Louie Simmond: Hi, I think your blog might be having...
    • Dale Lewis: I am making these socks and I think there is...
Wayback Machine
  • Present Future
    • Thu, Nov 23 - Thanksgiving (4 days)
    • Fri, Nov 24 - Friday! (5 days)
    • Tue, Nov 28 - M's Birthday (9 days)
    • Tue, Dec 12 - K's Birthday (23 days)
    • Fri, Dec 15 - LF's Birthday (26 days)
    • Mon, Dec 25 - Christmas (36 days)
Stuff I Gotta Do

Follow The Leader shawl

30%

entrelac wrap

0%

Arabesque shawl

100%

Jubjub Bird Socks

15%

I Mog Di

15%

Peacock Feather Shawl

0%

Honeybee Stole

5%

Irtfa'a Faroese Shawl

0%

Lenore

20%

Fatigues henley sweater

10%

Jade Sapphire Scarf

15%

#1 Son's Blanket

2%

Cotton Bag

1%