Tuesday, December 30, 2008

I Left My Hat in San Juan Bautista

San Juan Bautista is a mission city the Spaniards set up in the early part of California history. The town is rather run down today, being part of the "gone with the old". Kids in Silicon Valley, being part of the "in with the new", usually learn about this place in history lessons, and the accompanied field trip is an excitement all on its own. Right before the holiday break Henry's school took all the fourth graders to San Juan Bautista, as part of their current California Missions curriculum. I was lucky enough to hitch a ride with them. The town is about forty five minutes from school, through some part of windy country roads. The car was warm, kids were rowdy, and Henry got car sick. I was sitting in the front passenger seat, yakking away with the driver mom who happened to be Chinese; Henry was in the seat behind the driver. By the time he got my attention, I had about twenty seconds to choose between my hat which was in my lap, or his shirt which was on the floor. My hat won and caught Henry's processed breakfast just in time. Luckily Henry was able to quickly recover once we arrived at the destination and enjoyed the rest of the day. My hat, sadly, didn't fare as well. It was old and commercially made, easy decision to toss it in the first garbage can in town.

 This is the bell in front of the Mission.


 The Mission and its attached bell tower. The small gate to the right leads to a grave yard of over 4,000 Indians died of western diseases after the Spaniards arrived.


Saturday, December 27, 2008

Phantom of the Opera

The Andrew Lloyd Webber production on US tour stopping at the Orpheum Theatre in San Francisco. We made it a family event for Christmas eve, and it was Henry's first big theatre experience. Although he's seen the movie and lots of YouTube clips, seeing and hearing the Phantom in person turned out to be quite disturbing. He couldn't sleep half of the night.
The show was amazing -- the theatre, the stage setup, the costumes, the singing, and of course, the music. I wish there is a back stage tour so we can see how they moved Phantom onto the platform above the stage, or how he disappeared in the last scene.

Friday, December 26, 2008

First Attempt at Cookies

Something probably most of you did when you were a little girl. There is no baking in China, no westernized oven for that matter, everything is cooked on stove top in pots and pans. I never had the need to learn to bake in my years here, what with all that sugar and butter involved, things I try to avoid most the time. A few times I grabbed a tub of cookie dough at Costco and we had a great time baking and eating those cookies. It's fun, it's delicious, it must not be that hard to make. It wasn't. I used a basic recipe on the back on the Ghirardelli chocolate chip package. Our oven broke down couple of weeks ago, and I had to resort to baking three batches of cookies in the toaster oven. The guys came home, after being out all day and evening, to a counter full of cookies. No one complained.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Best holiday wishes from our home to yours!
(Trinket: Are we done yet, Santa Papa?)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A Watery Dinner

When I lived in Canton I ate fish almost every day. Given the opportunity, I would still have fresh seafood as the primary protein source. A bit hard to do when I have to work all day. On days when I'm home and can go to the market for fresh fish, we each end up with the seafood of choice. In the picture below starting from the upper left corner going clock-wise: 1. White Pomfret, or flat fish. My fish of choice in the US. I've only seen them in Chinese markets, usually produced in India and flown in to California. The guys at the fish department do the cleaning, and there is almost no scale. Slightly marinated in rice wine, salt, green onion and ginger, cooked and served whole in its own juice. The head is very small, flesh is tender and meaty, and there are very little bones other than the spine and fins. 2. Baby scallops, sauteed in rice wine and green onions. Henry's new love, to show me why I should appreciate the days when he lived on mac & cheese. 3. Stir-fried thin rice noodles from the Chinese deli. This dish is hard to cook at home and we all like the chewy texture, so I try to pick it up from the deli whenever I can. 4. Grapes from the farmer's market. 5. Sauteed Chinese broccoli with king oyster mushrooms. Both I've only seen in Chinese markets. Chinese broccoli is leafier than the American version and slightly bitter. King oyster mushrooms are very meaty, can be a good substitute in vegetarian dishes for meat. 6. A fish steak of some sort from the Chinese market, cooked in rice wine, green onion, ginger, and pearl onion. Bill likes the traditional ocean fish steak texture and taste, and less small body parts to deal with.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Pretty Things

Last rose of the summer. The rose bush is going strong despite the patio cover we put up above it this spring. We will need to prune it very soon. The only persimmon I harvested this year. I was told that fruit trees tend to go into biennial growth spurts. Last year we got at least couple dozen persimmons, so hopefully next year will be a big harvest again. I'm on two-week furlough from work, and not having as much time I would like to play on the computer and update my blog. Lots of shopping to do. Enjoy your holidays!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Sleep Is Hard Work

Why do wee babies and small pups emit such sweet warm smell when they sleep that's entirely intoxicating?
Every night we sit down in the living room to watch TV, and the dogs find their respectable beds to doze off. When it comes time to head upstairs for good, my job is to carry Trinket up with the least disturbance so as not to bother the old injury in his shoulder. I pick him up from the doggie bed, gently, cradle him like an infant, and he usually wakes up, gives me "I'm sleepy and life is good" look. I kiss him on the cheek and tell him he's mama's boy. Then I smell his little paws, especially the white paw sticking out in the picture. They smell so warm, and sweet, it makes me dizzy. I kiss the top of the paws -- never the bottom, I know where they've been to. I drop him off in one of the doggie beds upstairs, and he curls up in a perfect little ball, so tight that you can't tell where it starts and ends.
I'm the mother of this furry little creature. How strange!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Dr. Phil

Phil is a yoga instructor at the Pacific Culture Center in Santa Cruz. I have been taking Phil's classes since April. He's moving to the east coast in January, and thanks to my company's extended furlough for the next two weeks, today was my last class with him. Phil's website is Yoga with Phil. I have had many yoga instructors in the ten years that I have been practicing. The big gyms tend to cater to beginners, and the studios tend to cater to the spirited souls. Phil's teaching is practical, sophisticated and very demanding. He's the only instructor willing to work with my stubborn bad hips, instead of labeling me as some sort of unwilling lazy duck and push me aside. He sees human body as functioning structure built from inside out, not limbs to form poses to look like pictures. Phil has humor and ideas. He talks up a storm in the class, and if you have to stand on one leg for three minutes, the entertainment is perfectly on the spot. Before the election he talked sincerely about the uncertain future of the nation. The frankness is a breath of fresh air, even in Santa Cruz. Phil is a rare find, and I will miss him.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Basketball Season

Game one in Henry's first basketball league. Hint, Henry is the one with the ball, ready to shoot Our weekends now are all about practices and games. There is a game every Sunday, at various times in various places, against various teams from various cities. The official practices are on Friday night and Saturday morning, but the coach added an extra 45 minutes special practice before the game on Sunday. We have two parents juggling one child doing one activity. I honestly don't know how other parents deal with multiple kids with multiple sports and classes, most of the time just the mom doing all the work.

Monday, December 15, 2008

North Bay Miscellaneous

Bolinas is a funky little town on a peninsular just north of Stinson Beach in Marin County. The only road into town is unmarked, so as not to attract visitors. Of course this gets my attention. We looked for the town last year when we visited Point Rayes seashore, but missed the road; this time we got directions from the locals and determined to find it.

We did. It was town's artists' open studio during Thanksgiving weekend and there was quite a crowd. The weather was exceptionally nice, and the out of town surfers added to the traffic too.

The town is very dog friendly. There were happy hounds running around, crossing streets on their own. We didn't have time to make it to Dogtown, but it's indeed a place, not just a cute name.

The surf shop's slogan is "Live and Let Live", well said for the town.

We walked around town, had lunch and visited a few studios. Lots of spirituality inspired paintings,
sculptures, pottery, tapestry, etc., nothing stood out. Even found a small yarn shop that sells a variety of goods, including yarn. I learned from the shop hop that if what's on my back is more advanced than any item displayed in the shop, then most likely I would not find anything interesting. On this particular day I had on my well worn Frode from Elsebeth Lavold's viking book. The shop was all about fat yarn on big needle quick knits, similar to the level of artwork we saw in the rest of the town.

We live and let live.

On our first day while driving around looking for Olive Press we found this nice chocolate shop in Jack London Village in Glen Ellen. The shop is called Wine Country Chocolates, ran by a mother-daughter team. They had fresh truffle fillings for tasting every day, absolutely delicious.

The price was pretty good too. A custom box of 12 truffles was only $20.

While in Sonoma we took Henry to Traintown. I had brochure from this place in the days when Henry was a train fanatic (from about two years old to seven or eight), but we never managed a visit. We went for a ride on the train, which stopped at a miniature western town, with a real petting zoo.

While we couldn't afford to eat at The French Laundry (see my previous post, and as Lesley said in the comment, it would cost about $700 for dinner for two. I need a stronger stomach for that), we did find our Thanksgiving dinner at WildFox in Novado. I had grouper with crab cakes, and creme brulee for dessert, while the guys did the American thing and enjoyed turkey with all the trimmings. The kids' portion was so big that Henry made two dinners out of it.

Friday, December 12, 2008


The first time I heard about Yountville was when The French Laundry won three Michelin stars in 2006.

About its owner and executive chef, Thomas Keller, according to Wikipedia:

"In 2005, he was awarded the highest, three star rating in the inaugural Michelin Guide for New York for his restaurant Per Se, and in 2006, he was awarded three stars in the inaugural Michelin Guide to the Bay Area for his restaurant The French Laundry, making him one of only two chefs in the world with two simultaneous three-star restaurants."

For the 2007 Pixar movie Ratatouille, Thomas Keller served as a consultant and gave the producers and animators the opportunity to present French cuisine through computerized animation. Keller also showed up in the extras in Adam Sandler's movie Spanglish and made "the world's greatest sandwich". The French Laundry shares the subtle elegance with the rest of Sonoma county. The stone building with a simple brass sign above the flower bed was easily missed.

Bouchon is another Thomas Keller restaurant, a few blocks away from The French Laundry. The restaurant has a small bakery that sells lunch fares for take out. There are a few tables outside the bakery and that's where we headed after picking up some sandwiches and pastry.

Down the street from Bouchon was a grand old building remodeled into a shopping center with cutsie boutique shops. Henry and I found these super duper double pointed needles in Napa Style (kitchenware store). Henry is about 4'8", so the needles are probably close to 3' long, and the girth is bigger than size 50. We never figured out what they really meant to be.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Still Look Like A Pug

Last Saturday was the 15th annual Pugtacular. Henry had basketball practice in the morning so it was half way into the competitions when we arrived. As soon as we walked into the hall it was Pug and Owner Look-alike. I grabbed Bucky and jumped right into the ring. We won the second place again. Here we are, don't want to look the same direction. Guess we don't actually look that much alike, but then again, how many people seriously want to look like a pug any way. Bucky says he will look cute for a cookie.

Pugs in Christmas costumes. Some pugs we've seen year after year, still cute.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Olive Press

Over the Thanksgiving weekend we took a quick trip to North Bay (north of San Francisco, about seventy miles from where we live). We stayed in Marin County, and drove around for couple of days and visited sites in Sonoma and Napa counties. Olive Press is an olive producer in Sonoma. Their tasting room is in an Italian stone building on the side of a country road.

There are olive trees in the front yard.

A stone olive press in front of the building.

They had quite a few kinds of olive and olive oil for tasting. There is a large window in the tasting room where you can see part of the olive oil production, while a video showing the oil pressing process. A group of 10 can request a tour of the facility. The olive harvest season is October to January. Their olives come from within three hours drive, and are pressed within 24 hours of harvesting. A nice courtyard for picnic. It was a cold and gloomy day and we already had plans for lunch, otherwise this would be such a nice lunch spot.

Large water fountain behind the building. Beyond that is acres of vineyard, which is the mainstay of the region. I suspect the vineyard supports the olive oil business, but I hope one day things will turn the other way, or at least even out a bit.

We discovered this storage room with barrels of wine lining the walls. Marble sculptures of half nudes guard the entrance. Must be an interesting story how they got here.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Movies and TV Show

DVDs from the libraries: 1. Much Ado about Nothing: Shakespearen comedy made into movie, with big names like Emma Thompson, Denzel Washington, Keanu Reeves. Great entertainment value and lots of pretty faces to look at. 2. Marie Antoinette: Got it to see the pugs. Director Sofia Coppola has bay area connection. Kirsten Dunst is beautiful, and the costumes are gorgeous. I share Ms. Antoinette's sentiment about the poor: "Let them eat cake." (Turns out she didn't say that, but I agree nonetheless.) 3. Persuasion: A new adaptation of Jane Austin's novel by a UK director. Very good and very Jane Austin. Sometimes it begs you to scream: "People, speak your mind already!" 4. As Good As It Gets: We used to have a pug mix Precious that looked similar to the Brussels Griffon in the movie, and that's why we went to see the movie when it first came out over ten years ago. Jack Nicholson, Helen Hunt and Cuba Gooding, Jr. are great, but I still watched the movie for the dog. 5. The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio: First book I read with the bookclub, but this is another case of movie ruining the book. So bad I couldn't finish it. 6. Nora: James Joyce biography of sort. Another movie to portray artists (writers and poets included) as disgusting bastards that are full of foul language, engage in violent graphic sex acts and should require many hours of anger management classes. I don't believe it. TV Show: Boston Legal: We "discovered" the show only couple of months ago, and we have been watching the current season (final season) while catching up the previous seasons on other channels. A quote from Wikipedia: "According to Nielsen Media Research, Boston Legal draws the richest viewing audience on television, based on the concentration of high income viewers in its young adult audience (Adult 18–49 index w/$100k+ annual income)" The main character, Alan Shore, speaks for the common sense and justice in life. He is portrayed as a successful lawyer, winning just about any case, too bad reality would be a defeat. Still makes you feel good to hear someone argue for the ultimate truth and justice. Alan is by far a hero, he can be greedy and slimy, and he pursues sex like a real man. He can be good when he tries, which is better than most. The other night Bill commented that Alan Shore thinks like him. I know there is a reason why I like this character. The Finale was last night. I didn't like it. I didn't like the show ending, didn't like two heterosexual sexual guys getting married, and really didn't like the way they portrayed Chinese. They couldn't even get the accent right. If the "big Chinese" is buying out an American firm, they wouldn't spell the name Chang (it would be Zhang, if they are trying to use one of the most common sur names in China). On the other hand, I wouldn't want my company to be bought by the Chinese either, so things like this bothers me.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Pugtacular is Coming!

The annual pug party hosted by Northern California Pug Club is coming up on Saturday. This year they moved the venue to Walnut Creek, a little closer to us, and a much nicer town. We've been going every year since Bucky was a wee pup, and I've written on this blog for the past two years: 2006 and 2007. Henry wrote his version of the story here: Chapter 1, Chapter 1 (the second half), and Chapter 2. In 2006 Bucky and I won the third place in pug and owner look-alike, after Bucky finally won the race for the first time in a decade. Doesn't the puggie look just like his mom?

This year we are not sure if we'll enter Bucky in the race. He's been a bit stiff lately, hard to get up and run around. Will have to see how he feels on Saturday. Bucky has been a bad dog this week. Had three accidents in as many days, each time right after we let him back into the house. He says it's getting too cold and damp out in the back yard. Bring back the sunshine and he'll bring his business outside.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Recent Reads

1. Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons (Sarah's pick for the book club meeting in October). Darling little book published in the 1930s, very playful language and names. Unfortunately I didn't have enough time to finish it, put it on the list of one-day-I-want-to-read-it-again.
2. Playing for Pizza by John Grisham (audiobook). Grisham's new book after his only non-fiction The Innocent Man, about an American football player playing football in Italy. Cute small towns, delicious food, lovely girls, but the fun and talent stops there. I hope one day Grisham will write the more meaty stuff again, what a waste of skills to cook up these page turners.
3. Bleachers by John Grisham (audiobook). A different Grisham page turner (or CD flipper) about a different football player. A review on Amazon calls it a light novel. In fact it's so light that I hardly remember much about the book. See above for waste of talent and skills.
4. Bonk by Mary Roach (audiobook). A study of sexual physiology, written by a fun loving scientist. Be sure your partner is in town when you read it.
5. 74 Seaside Avenue by Debbie Macomber (audiobook). Macomber became famous among knitters for writing fictions including knitting content. I read her first book, The Shop on Blossom Street, when it first came out a few years ago. I was disappointed -- it was a fluffy quick read and a perfect fit the image of an air head crafter. Obviously things hadn't changed other than the numbers in Ms. Macomber's bank account.
6. Smoky Rain 烟雨朦朦 by Qiong Yao 瓊瑤 (in Chinese). The Danielle Steele in Taiwan. She wrote a few dozens of novels all with similar plots and language -- pretty girl, handsome boy, rich family, poor family, sweet poems, falling in love, struggles, someone dies, loads of tears. I pick up one of them once every ten years or so, to remind myself I'm still human.
7. The Appeal by John Grisham (audiobook). The routine Grisham legal thriller. Large chemical company dumped large amounts of waste in grounds and water in small southern town. People died. Good lawyers sued, won in court and lost in appeal because the company bought the new judge. Bad guy gets richer. I still believe there is justice in this world.
8. The Distant Land of My Father by Bo Caldwell. Lesley's pick for our book club meeting in November. Story is told from a young girl's perspective about her father in Shanghai in World War II. Caldwell picked up the plot from the experience of her uncle and the book clearly shows her lack of knowledge of Chinese language and the life in Shanghai in the era. But it's a great book nonetheless.
9. Off Season by Anne River Siddons (audiobook). Siddons has not disappointed me until now. The story is strange, 11 year old girl falling in love with older teen boy (who turned out to be 12 later in the book), he dies, and her mom dies. Girl meets another handsome boy, has a beautiful family, then he dies. She finds traces of unexplainable correspondence but life goes on. I do wish from time to time though, that I have met my beloved at a yet younger age, so the teenage love is sweet and precious to me.
10. The Natural Knitter by Barbara Albright. I don't usually count my knitting books as part of the reading list, since I usually don't actually read them. But this book, I actually read it, word by word, almost. The descriptions and pictures of various fiber animals are lovely. This book is a great compliment of the Wild Fiber magazine, and it's very useful to have all the information in one place.
11. Mason-Dixon Knitting by Kay Gardiner and Ann Meador Shayne. Another knitting book that I actually read, albeit standing at the kitchen counter, thanks to the YouTube video that I discovered here. The ladies met in the vast online knitting community, like the way I met many of my readers (even local ones, as I found knitting groups online first and later joined the meetings). As usual, pop knitting books are just a bit too ... pop. Like I posted a long time ago here, knitting won't make you rich, talking about it does.
12. Waiter Rant by Steve Dublanica (audiobook). A marketing manager turned waiter turned writer observes life around him. There is a very good review on Amazon about the audiobook that I listened to. The take away from the book is not about tipping a good waiter at least 20%, but about admitting to oneself your failure and having the strength to move on. It's easy to take shelter in the safety of a secure job, even as bad as waiting tables for the rich and working for a nasty boss. I've had my share of bad jobs, jobs that turn me into the terrible person that I'm not (is it happening today?!), but I chug along for the safety net, with the excuse that it's all for the greater good. Henry listened to this particular chapter with me, and yes, this kiddo will have more courage than his parents. To start off he bought yarn for his knitting project, while I was really hoping he would spend some time on the loom.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Santa, Busted! and other Henry-ism

The other day Henry and his Dad were passing through the mall while out wondering doing guy stuff. Can you believe how early they got Santa out this year? Henry never believed in Santa, since his Mom doesn't know where to begin to tell a lie. Bill's family is big on Christmas gifts, so we carry on the tradition and help the economy for the last two month of the year. Henry always shops with us, separately, picking out clothes for Mom when he's out with Dad, or go through gadgets with Mom to see what we'll let Dad destroy in the next year. He helps us wrap and label gifts for grand parents, and write tags that read "From Santa, To Trinket" while commenting on whether Trinket is a bad little dog. Santa is no mystery for Henry. We are all Santas for each other and we love it that way.

So on this day in the mall, Henry passionately reiterated to Dad his thoughts about Santa. He mentioned that his classmates, especially the males, were tired of their parents' Santa games. They knew how their adults orchestrated the celebration, toys, milk, cookies, pictures, etc. and they just wanted to get to the bottom of it all (aka, give me the wii and forget about that fat man in a red suit). Dad teased Henry he had to take a picture with Santa, and asked him, "What are you going to ask Santa to get you?" Henry said, "I'll tell him, Get Lost!"


 A few Henry-First's that Mom is cautiously celebrating:

1. Henry stayed home by himself couple of weeks ago when Mom went to the store. It was only 30 minutes, but Mom held the cell phone in her palm the whole time. Think back to our days we had to visit a pediatric psychiatrist for separation anxiety, we've come a long way.

2. Henry learned to make mac & cheese and grilled cheese sandwich on the gas stove top. I learned to cook about the same age.

3. Henry is knitting and weaving, one row at a time. We both have two weeks off next month and we plan to work on the loom together.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Flower Drum Song

Couple of weeks ago Bill and I went to see the updated musical Flower Drum Song. The original was produced in the late 50s, by the infamous music team Rogers and Hammerstein. The story in the musical and the following movie was so racially offensive that it was buried for 40 years, until in 2002 David Henry Hwang rewrote the script and put it back on stage.

Usually I stay away from this let-me-tell-you-what-Chinese-is-about type of propaganda, because they are usually told from one person's perspective but the audience is made to believe they are the representation of every Chinese in America. It's hard to explain even to the ones closest to me, that I'm not one of the 80% Chinese population from the rural villages, that I don't know much about Chinese opera other than it's loud and boring, that my parents, my grand parents, none of my aunts and uncles had arranged marriage, that although my family went through some very tough days, I hardly consider us victims.

To think every Chinese fits in the stereotypical Chinese mold, is to believe that every American lives on McDonald's, at least 30% over weight, watch TV five hours a day and listen to rap music.

But this is a Rogers and Hammerstein musical after all, or mostly so. I went, I wept for the characters, and I still don't like the story. Rather than making you listen to me whine about others' wrong doings, I'll tell you what my kind of Chinese is really about.

There are many of us in this country, mainly the generation came to study and work in science and technology fields, starting in the late 80s. This is the class of elite and privileges. We are from good families in major cities, Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Tianjin, Xi'an, Si Chuan province etc, which are far more westernized than the vast rural areas. Our parents or grand parents held positions as party officials, local government officials, university professors, scientists, physicians and surgeons. We received the best education available in a country only 3% of the population goes to college. We are here because our families believed there was a better future outside of China, and because we could socially and financially afford the risk. Many of the families took advantage of the system (bribery was the most basic), so we could be here to enjoy the American dream and not have to worry about being sent to the country for hard labor in the next cultural revolution.

So next time when you bump into a Chinese engineer, keep in mind that he might be more interested in Bach than Chinese opera.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Book Tag from Mindy

Mindy from Dogs on Thursday tagged me to reveal what's on page 56 of a book I'm reading. Haven't been reading much lately other than listening to my audio books in the car, I'm a bit guilty upon receiving this tag. I wanted to cheat and put in page 56 of The Distant Land of our Father by Bo Caldwell, our bookclub selection for this month; considering I stopped at page 85, it wouldn't be too much of a cheat.

Make a long story short, I hereby present you my fiber friends, a clip from the latest issue of Wild Fiber magazine:

"Despite the people's diet that doesn't include anything remotely green for most of the year, and a high consumption of meat and potatoes, obesity is virtually nonexistent and people tend to enjoy exceptionally good health, remaining physically vigorous well into their older years."

The subject is a Himalayan region that produces some of the highest quality cashmere in the world. It's the feature article in this issue. Wild Fiber magazine is published by Linda Cortright, who travels the world in pursue of information on, what else, wild fibers. I met her at Stitches this year and fell in love with the magazine. See my Stitches report here.

I'll tag my bookclub members: Sarah, Lesley, Zelda.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Puppy on Thursday

No, no new puppy in this house, but saw this on one of the dog lists and it reminds me the long lost puppy days.
How to Make a Puppy Pie
Take one puppy
Roll and play until lightly pampered
Add the following ingredients
- 1 cup patience
- 1 cup understanding
- 1 pinch correction
- 1 cup hard work
- 2 cups praise
- 1 1/2 cups fun
Blend well
Heat with warmth of your heart until raised or until puppy has doubled in size
Mix with owner until consistency is such that owner and puppy are one
Trinket and Bucky were both very bad puppies. Trinket had accidents, or just casually "went" on the carpet for months. I was able to convince myself that he just didn't have the bladder control, but somehow he always lost control right on the edge of the newspaper. If we charted the locations of his accidents, it would be something like this:

Friday, November 14, 2008

Friday Q&A

Lynn posted these on her blog Never A Dull Moment. I'm in a rather dull moment right now, actually very tiresome, after being sick most of the week. This is an easy diversion: 1. What is your occupation right now? Finance professional at a tech company. 2. What color are your socks right now? Black 3. What are you listening to right now? Office chatters, too much of it if you ask me. 4. What was the last thing that you ate? Only green tea so far today, cause I made some poor food choices yesterday and got really sick. My poor husband had to pick me up off the floor. 5. Can you drive a stick shift? I did many years ago, not sure if I can still do it. 6. Last person you spoke to on the phone? Listened to a voicemail from the benefits people when I came in this morning. 7. Do you like the person who sent this to you? Yes, she's a great knitter and parent 8. How old are you today? Older than when I got married, but younger than some of my readers. 9. What is your favorite sport to watch on TV? Figure skating 10. What is your favorite drink? Mud slide, but I really shouldn't have any alcohol or dairy 11. Have you ever dyed your hair? Yes, and it was chronicled on this blog: before and after 12. Favorite food? chocolate (there is that dairy again) 13. What is the last movie you watched? We watched ER last night. It's their last season and they brought back Mark Greene, Peter Benton, Weaver, Romano, Jerry, very touching moments. 14. Favorite day of the year? My birthday 15. How do you vent anger? Yell at my husband 16. What was your favorite toy as a child? A tiny five-inch rubber boy doll. I called him Short Fat Guy 矮胖丁. We lost the original during the many moves in my childhood, but found a replacement when I was a teen. I left it at home when I moved out, but my brother brought it to the US when he left China. I have it standing on my bookcase in the bedroom. 17. What is your favorite season? Spring, when flowers are blooming and everything comes to life. 18. Cherries or Blueberries? Cherries, fresh ones. 19. Do you want your friends to e-mail you back? Why not? I love getting email from my friends. 20. Who is the most likely to respond? Really not sure. But please do just to say hi. 21. Who is least likely to respond? Surfer from other country looking for knitting pattern 22. Living arrangements? Yarn, books, fresh fruits on the counter and in the fridge, roses in the garden, a crab in his tank, couple of little black dogs laying about the house, a child throws balls around to make me nervous, a husband in charge of them all. 23. When was the last time you cried? Last night. 24. What is on the floor of your closet? What floor? The space is covered with shoe racks and bins of yarn. Bucky gets stuck in the door if he tries to get in. 28. Plain, cheese, or spicy hamburgers? Cheese. We owe Henry a trip to Main Street Burgers in downtown Los Gatos on Sunday. Most likely Henry and I will share an order of sliders (mini burgers). There is that dairy again. 29. Favorite dog breed? Do I need to mention the P- word? Actually I like most pug mixes and other flat faced dogs too. 30. Favorite day of the week? Thursday, cause I get to work from home. I work for Thursday all week. 31. How many states have you lived in? 1 in US. 32. Diamonds or pearls? Pearls, and jade. 33. What is your favorite flower? Roses, any color, but mostly different shades of red.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

How Bucky Enjoyed His Birthday

A short video captures Bucky's 13th birthday celebration from last week. Feels like it's been a very long time, so much has happened in the past nine days. Changes are good, yet the process is so very hard. I wish you the best, my friends, as always. Now if you are capable of enjoying three minutes of pug slob, watch this!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Quidditch Sweater Finale

Pattern: Quidditch Sweater from Charmed Knits, by Anne Bergeron
Yarn: Encore worsted 4 skein in Cranberry and 1 skein in Butternut
Needle: size 7
Size: XS (chest size 30 inches)
Cost: About $30
Cast on: September 18, 2008
Cast off: October 29, 2008
Previous post: here

Note: See the broom behind Henry? That's a hand crafted Nimbus 2000, hanging on the wall with clear fishing line, so it looks like it's flying in the air. One year Henry saw this broom at Kings Mountain Art Faire, an annual fundraising event held in the mountains above Woodside, and begged me to fork over the $40. He just started reading Potter then, so I wasn't sure if this was going to be a good investment for my kitchen floor. The kid saved money for the next year, so when we went back to the faire the following year, he headed straight to the booth, and handed the man two twenties. He proceeded to carry the broom the rest of the time, even when we hiked back to the car.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Happy Birthday Bucky!

My pug baby, my alter ego, our forever child, Bucky, turned thirteen the day after election. We usually call our children by their given nicknames, different from time to time, so lately the pug has been addressed as Bucky Obama or Brrrarck O'Bucky.
Every night when we sit down to watch TV, he comes and whines until one of us reach down to give him a nice back scratch. When he decides he’s done, he just turns and leaves, not even a thank you over the shoulder.
Since he had some disc problem in his neck couple of years ago his motions haven’t been the same, so we carry him up and down the stairs. But if you tell him you need to carry him, he turns and runs with all his might. Chase me chase me! He turns amazingly quick considering the old bones and fat belly. The chase is extra nice late at night when the hoomans are tired, or if Dad has his hands full and running late for work. Bucky woofs and gives him a lecture.
To celebrate adding another teenager in the house, I got a little cheesecake to share for the two dogs and three humans. (The cheesecake came from Buttery in Santa Cruz, for you locals.)
The humans got chocolate ice cream in honor of the president-elect.
It's been a long and difficult road, you might call it a Rocky Road, but we call it Barocky Road.
I also had plan to order dinner from a restaurant operated by a gay couple in the event of California Prop 8 being defeated, unfortunately we’ll have to hold that off for now.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Election Day Rambling

Today I voted the second time in my not very short life. I never voted in China -- there were elections, even in my days, but if one would like to get under big brother's foot, go right ahead. I swore in as an US citizen on the day Henry turned six weeks old (passed my oral test eleven days before delivery). I voted a year later, and look at where we ended up in the last eight years. Pretty discouraging for a new citizen. Given my family background, I vowed to myself many years ago to be apolitical. I never get involved in political discussion, and have no party affiliation, even in China, where The Party decided for everyone where you are allowed to eat and sleep. I got a hard head, thick skin, and a very straight spine. There has been so much going on with this election. Sometimes I just want to take a pill, go to sleep for days and weeks, wake up on November 5th, to welcome the new president, celebrate equality, and throw a big party for Bucky's 13th birthday. I want to wake up to a peaceful world, a better place to live. But I also know that without the painful labor, we would not have the fruit to enjoy in the years coming. And I cannot ignore this:
California Proposition 8: Ban on Gay Marriage This measure would amend the state constitution to specify that only marriages between one man and one woman would be recognized as valid in the state. If passed, the measure would trump a May 2008 ruling by the California Supreme Court that legalized same-sex marriage.
As a Chinese woman, living in America, married to a White man, with a multiracial child, I'm a bit sensitive to discrimination. Should I be living in the wrong place in this country in the wrong time, my marriage would not be legal, and I would not be allowed to own property, among other things. Today I still face racial and gender bias every day so I understand how hard others have to defend themselves for being who they are. There are simple things we can do to make other fellow humans happy, acknowledging their sheer existence is one of them. It saddens me to see many Chinese faces in the "Yes on 8" parade. We are here, living on other people's land, because we enjoy the freedom that we can't find at home. Why deny the same freedom from others? Now about that child of mine, who has been questioning his parents on a regular basis about our views on various measures and candidates, because one of his classmates talks about what he hears at home. I wish the school would take a more active role in teaching kids the current affairs. Funny they know more about George Washington than George Bush, know how Lincoln died but not where Obama came from. They gossip about "Mr. Martin is gay", and no one cares to teach them that homosexual men and women are also human. Leave it to me, Henry gets to hear all my unbiased opinion.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Brain Storming with Henry

The other day Henry and I had some extra time after lunch, so we played a round of brain storm. I used to do this all the time when I was in school, mostly when I was bored with whatever subject the class was about and had to pretend busy taking notes. The rule is very simple, start with a random subject, write a phrase or sentence about it, follow with a phrase or sentence that relates to a subject in the previous line. There are no right or wrong answers, and can go on infinitely. Henry picked the subject of painters, as in artists that paint pictures, not someone paints a house. These are mostly Henry's inputs, I only wrote them down on napkins and corrected grammar occasionally. - Painters always have brushes and sometimes an art studio - An art studio should be big, covered and full of light - Sun light is the best light source - An art studio should have lots of big windows - Windows have frames - Window frames can be wood, plastic and metal - Metal makes the most sturdy window frames - Sturdy window frames don't break in an earthquake - One of the worst earthquakes was in San Francisco in 1906 - Lots of buildings were destroyed in 1906 earthquake - Buildings today are constructed to be earthquake proof - Earthquake insurance is very expensive - Nintendo DS is also very expensive - Nintendo DS is a handheld game station that you play video games on - Video games are fun but if you play too much your eyes will wear out - Staring at the sun may damage your eyes - The sun is hot - Henry's tamale (that he had for lunch) was really hot and spicy - Peppers are spicy - Pepper is a type of food - Food gives you energy - You need energy to run - Usain Bolt runs really fast - Usain Bolt made new world records in the 2008 Olympics By now we were at the bottom of the second napkin, so we decided to loop the finishing line back to the beginning. - In the Olympics opening ceremony dancers painted a huge Chinese painting

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Dog Germs

I thought the dogs only ate off our plates!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Library Hop with Henry

When Bill was in Big Sur for the music festival, Henry and I planned for a full day of library hop to keep us occupied. We used to visit the local libraries a lot when I stayed home with him, and we still do once a week, albeit most are very short visits now, to pick up and drop off material. Many of the local branches had gone through extensive renovation and re-building in the last few years, thanks to library taxes in City of San Jose and County of Santa Clara. We haven't had much chance to enjoy these new branches.

The library hop idea came from my yarn shop hop last month when I visited 19 stores from peninsula to Carmel in three days, took pictures and wrote reviews about them. We went through a few options -- trains (he's mostly out grown), Legos (too few stops), book stores (whose money?), and decided library would be the safest bet. We can check out something from every stop and most likely it won't cost us a penny.

First stop, our regular hang out, San Jose Public Libraries West Valley branch. During the renovations the libraries put some interesting public arts in each branch. This one scored an artichoke sculpture. It's placed right under the rain gutter from the roof, so on a rainy day the water pours right into the middle of the artichoke, an interesting sight.

Henry is holding a big stack of audio books I reserved. Look forward to my latest reading list in a month or two.

Next stop was Saratoga library, in the Santa Clara County library system. Henry's teacher has recommended this branch and Henry has been looking forward to the visit for awhile. It's a very large structure, very diversified collection and visitors.

Next on the map was Cupertino library, also in the Santa Clara County system. The Chinese collection here is the biggest in the area, occupying nearly a quarter of the second floor, at least five long rows of shelves. I used to work down the street and walked here at my lunch hour.

Our last stop was Santa Clara city library, not part of any system and I had to apply for a new card since I couldn't find the old one. The library was rebuilt a few years ago, expanded to be at least three times of the original. Henry was there with his grandparents for the opening ceremony. But I haven't been the to new building, only seen it from the outside when we drove by. My bookclub friend Sarah raves about this place.
And it turned out to be everything I've heard and then some. The knitting book selection is huge for a library -- no comparison to any of the South Bay Knitters' personal collection, but still, I found books I haven't seen before.

There are lots of chairs around, and reading nooks scattered all over the place. This is a view from the upstairs patio, looking out to Santa Clara Central Park. I could hardly tear Henry away from this place. We are certainly going back!

I had on the agenda to show Henry the Dr. King library in downtown San Jose, the main library in the city system. It's the biggest in the area, combining a collection from San Jose State University. One of these days we will have to do another library hop to cover more grounds.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Life, Random Acts of Violence

A few months ago one of the parents at my son's school died accidentally while cleaning his gun. Weeks later another parent was robbed and murdered during a business trip in Detroit. A six year old girl's hand was brutally amputated by a jump rope while riding in a car, on the street in front of my son's school. Pippin Seales died on a crowded Santa Cruz beach, buried in a sand dune. This blog gets hits every week for Google searches on Nina Wesson, a young mother died suddenly more than two years ago, leaving three young children behind. She's missed. A dear friend of mine lost her husband of many years. Another friend's husband was diagnosed with cancer. Stock market losing 40% of its value, so does the IRAs and 401(k)'s. My company's stock tumbled an additional 25% in the past week, after a poor quarterly result. I worked late nights to contribute to the press release. My years of savings frozen in money market, thanks to some fool invested it with Lehman Brothers. The war, the election, the economy, tearing so many people apart. When does violence stop being random, and start becoming a trend? Can we stop the trend? Be well, my friends, know your safety and happiness matters to the world. We are here to stay, to live, to be with each other. Be kind to ourselves, to our friends and family, to the earth.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Once Upon A Time There Was A Zoo

When the dogs were young they used to bark their little heads off when we got home. We fondly referred to our house as "the zoo", like, instead of "I'm going home", we'd say "Heading back to the zoo". Now, at 12 and 13, soon to be 13 and 14, they pups seem to sleep a lot more, and the ears don't work as well. This is what I saw the other day when I came home:

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

(Almost) Seven Musical Facts

Monica, who blogs at Dumplings, Three, tagged me to write 7 random or weired facts about me. Monica is married to a bluegrass musician (see her extensive comment in my previous entry) and they adopted three beautiful Chinese children. Since this tag is stemmed from our association with music, I will try to gather a few music related facts:

1. When Bill plays music at night I have to either eat or write. I can't read or knit. I'll blame it on him if I have to buy bigger pants.
2. My dad is also an amateur musician. He played liuqin (Chinese string instrument similar to mandolin), violin and piano.
3. My dad tried to teach me liuqin when I was about six years old. We failed miserably and both swore never try again. We both kept our promises.
4. I meditate to Hayley Westenra, Andrea Bocelli or Dean Martin's singing.
5. I'm almost always moving my fingers in some manner -- typing, clicking the mouse, knitting, cooking, driving, writing notes, or stuffing my face.
6. I play Chinese songs on Youtube when I cook dinner.
7. I was told that learning music would help with math, so my math was equally bad. In high school I scored 29 out of 100 in a mid term test.

So, that's almost 7 facts about me and music. I won't tag the regulars, pick it up if you like!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Notes of Music

Bill is off at Big Sur for a bluegrass music festival this weekend. He hasn't done the festival thing for many years. The festival thing usually includes spending a whole weekend (at least one night), camp out, attend multiple performances day and night, jam with various groups at all hours, eat junk food, crash whenever. I'm not particularly interested in his kind of music, even less of a camper, so I tend to avoid the subject of music festivals. Bill was very involved in the local music scenes before we met. On the night of our first date he played at Paul's Saloon in San Francisco, and that was his last time to play on stage. Since then he's been a "man of responsibilities". Lately he's been taking mandolin lessons, practice every night, and now, a real festival. Life is back on track. It's hard for a tone deaf to live with a musician, but here is a clip from Youtube that we both enjoyed lately, combining knitting and traditional country music.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Chinese Money

When I was new in this country I received many welcome and unwelcome advise for new immigrant, most of them came from the Chinese friends around us, most of them about money. Over the years I've accumulated a few more.

Some interesting ones:
- Get a stable job that generates steady income (doctors and lawyers, remember?)
- There is no free lunch. If someone buys you a lunch, he either benefits from you (the car salesman that got $500 commission from the sale) or wants something from you (the hiring manager desperate to fill the open req for a job requires working 80 hours a week for the first six months).
- Get a credit card six months after getting the steady job. Before that you may risk being declined and have a bad mark on the credit history.
- Make sure the credit card does not charge a monthly fee, even better, get one that pays reward points. No matter how good the name, if they charge you, dump it. Always shop around.
- Keep the credit account active to create credit history, but pay off the balance every month. Don't let the banks make money on you with those interests and fees.
- The only debt you should carry is your mortgage. Save money and buy everything else with cash, including cars.
- Buy, don't rent. Mortgage is money you pay to yourself. Rent goes to other people and you'll never see it again.
- Never live beyond your means. Always have your bookkeeping in your mind -- have a good idea of your monthly income and expenses, know how much each item costs. Save for the rainy days.
- Think before each purchase. Do I really need it? 9 out of 10 times you don't. Build a relationship with your money and make parting ceremonial.
- Take a little risk once in awhile and get it out of your system. Go to Tahoe or Vegas, buy some stocks, buy lottery, invest in a start up. Be prepared you'll never see the money again.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Heard around the House

Henry was getting ready for a shower, Mom was in the bedroom fooling around with her yarn, Dad was downstairs washing dishes, Dogs were in the kitchen keeping Dad company. Henry: "Mom, there is a spider in the bath tub!!" Mom: "Henry's Dad, there is a spider in the bath tub!!" Dad: "Dogs, come on! There is a spider in the bath tub!!"

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Man of Love

This blog gets a few hits a day from Google searches for the Good Husband's Guide. Strangers (and friends) probably all think that I was capable of writing such a thing because I know just exactly how to sculpt a man into a good husband. The fact of the matter is, I do.

In our house I'm the one to make rules and tell the boys what to do. I tell them when they are wrong, and what's good for them. I cook the food they eat, and they are not to complain. When the dogs misbehave, I make the human boys quiet the animal noise. When the human child needs help with his homework, I tell the Man it's his turn to exercise parental rights.

The fact of the matter is, I can get away with all this. Because the Man has a big heart.

This very tall man tends the smallest creatures, little dogs, and hermit crabs.

The same man that plays basketball and writes poetry.

The mountain biker that enjoys Mama Mia and Sound of Music.

The man that can't figure out how shorten the straps of his backpack, but knows his knits and purls.

The man that lives in jeans and T shirts, who bought better clothes for me than I ever did myself.

The man that watched a young woman stumble her way in a new country, lending his hands at every turn.

He is Libra and I am Gemini. His balances hold my angel and devil in place. His patience tames my tantrum. His logic diverts my impulse. He is the safety net for a wondering butterfly, the Stonehenge that keeps a hot air balloon solidly aground.

Today is the Man's birthday. I am the luckiest woman in the world.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Six Quirky Boring, Unspectacular Facts about Me

Karin at Knitting & tagged me for the six things in the title. I got more than this list of quirky things, but they might be too spectacular for this forum:

1. I charge whatever I can on credit cards to earn points and rebates.
2. I have pen, paper and calculator in every room of the house.
3. My day job is working with numbers but I consider myself mainly a "word" person.
4. I'm madly in love with bunnies. One of the ladies at work brings her bunnies to the office on Fridays and lets me cuddle them. I'm working on getting my own fiber bunny.
5. I have a hard time talking to Chinese people in English.
6. I can write with both hands and my left-hand-writing looks like a different person.

I'll make the tagging easier -- leave me a comment and let me know if any of these fits what you think as "quirky"; then write six facts about yourself (on your own blog of course), without all the conditions.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Bucky on Thursday

Yeah, a little lower, to the back. There, that feels soooo goooood. Woof!

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

My (Less) Toothy Child

Henry lost four teeth in about six weeks, three of them on the same side, as you can see in the picture. He's a little windy for a bit. He graciously let me take this picture. The bottom two are coming in slowly already, slower than watching the grass grow.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Bloodline -- North

My mom's side of the family is from Manchuria, in the far corner of northeastern China. Manchurians were the rulers of Qing dynasty, the last dynasty of China before the modern culture took over in 1911. Manchurian is a minority in China.

4. My maternal grandfather, Yu Su, also known as Jin Ming 金明, was from a wealthy family. He joined the Communist Party at a very young age and was sent to Moscow to be educated in university, where he met my grandmother. As things go with any political party, my grandfather voiced his opinion and stepped on a few toes. It just happened that the toes belonged to Joseph Stalin. My grandfather was arrested, sentenced for eight years in prison, and was sent to work in labor camp in Vorkuta in the Arctic Circle. He ended up spending about 20 years there, watched many people freeze to death. He survived by offering his fabulous cooking skills to the camp guards, and with the Chinese cook's help managed to get a job in the kitchen. In return, he married the cook's Russian born daughter and had three children with her. The family went back to China in the 1950s and my mom met her father for the first time when she was 18. Because of his early Party membership, my grandfather was able to obtain a job with the Chinese Department of Forestry and eventually retired in good standing with the Party. I met my grandfather's family for the first time when I was about 10, but visited them often for a few years. They were very Russian, conversations were sprinkled with Russian phrases here and there. They never accepted my dad and treated me exactly like how the offspring of a southern concubine should be treated. My grandfather died in the early 1990s. My grandfather's mother, brother and sisters went to Taiwan before the Communist Party took over China in 1949, and later most of them came to the US. It was one of the cousins in this branch of the family eventually helped my mom land in San Francisco in the late 1980s.

5. My maternal grandmother, born Guan Shu Lan 关淑兰, later known as Lin Na 林纳,a translation from her Russian name Lena. Guan family was a large family in Manchuria. My grandmother's parents and elder relatives were teachers and local government officials. One of her uncles joined the Communist Party and later brought her along. In the 1930s she was sent to Moscow to study, where she met my grandfather. Upon my grandfather's misencounter with Stalin, my grandmother was recalled back to China, leaving her three young daughters behind -- two from my grandfather, including my mom, and another girl from a different man. She reunited with my mom in the early 1950s when she (my mom) was a young teen. By then my grandmother was married and had three more children. In the 1950s, my grandmother founded Qi Qi Ha Er Steel Co. 齐齐哈尔钢厂, now known as Beiman Special Steel Co., Ltd. 北满特殊钢有限责任公司, and was the first chief executive of the company. This company was the anchor of China's steel production in the country's early days. My grandmother's accomplishment enabled her to be elected as representative to the first three People's Congress, and the representative to the Eighth Communist Party National Congress. When the China-Russia relationship went sour in the early 1960s, my grandmother was accused of being a Russian spy. Her family was told that she committed suicide while being confined during Cultural Revolution, but there was no witness of her death. My grandmother was a tall and handsome lady, far ahead of her days. Her friends and peers admired her, and remembered her as one of the most noteworthy women of their generation. An official funeral was held for her in 1979 to clear her name.

6. Grand parent number six, my grandfather's wife, Red October, as she was born in Russia and that was her Russian name. We privately called her Red October in Chinese, which was not a pretty name, or simply "fake grandma". She spoke very awkward Chinese so I hardly ever talked to her (I speak no Russian). She had absolute distain to my mom, as she believed my grandfather was still in love with my grandmother, which could be true. Once she threw a huge fit because my mom went to visit my grandfather when he was attending a conference alone. After that she always personally supervised our visits to my grandfather. She died in the 1980s after a stroke further damaged her brains.

7. Grand parent number seven, my grandmother's husband, Su Ming 苏明, who we privately called "fake grandpa". He rode my grandmother's skirt and became a hospital administrator in later years. From this person I learned at a very young age to recognize a liar, a ruthless cheater, a cold blooded traitor. He's dead.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Henry's Qudditch Sweater

Henry doesn't usually ask for things, probably just scared of his mom. I knitted him a few sweaters when he was little before he had opinions about choice of clothing. As all big boys, now he lives in T shirts and shorts, sweaters are for keeping the dresser warm. One day we were at the library and I showed him Charmed Knits. He really wanted the Quidditch Sweater, like Can-I-have-it-next-Tuesday kind of want. He had to wait couple of weeks till I got the yarn from The Knitting Room during the shop hop. It's my first time to decide on a project based on an actual pattern, walked into a yarn shop to buy the yarn specified in the pattern, and cast on the same day. This picture was taken last week, the front is done since then and there are couple of inches on the back as well.


Pattern: Quidditch Sweater from Charmed Knits, by Anne Bergeron
Yarn: Encore worsted 4 skein in Cranberry and 1 skein in Butternut
Needle: size 7
Size: XS (chest size 30 inches)
Cost: About $30
Cast on: September 18, 2008

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Bucky the Little Brother

Bucky: I want this bed. Trinket: I was here first. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Trinket: Go away! Bucky: No I won't. I want this bed. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Trinket: (If I turn my head the other way when I wake up he'll be gone like a bad dream.) ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Bucky: tsk, tsk, tsk, I'm waiting ... --------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 10 minutes later Trinket lost the bed to the pug. Little brother wins.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

P2P Loot

Lulu Yarn's Marinella from Full Thread Ahead in Los Altos for the one-skein project, Roman Holiday. 60% sea cell, 40% silk.


 Blue Sky Alpacas' alpaca and silk blend (50% alpaca, 50% silk) from Yarn Paper Scissors in Burlingame, for their one-skein project, Cabled Headband. It came in this extra cute pink triangle shopping bag.


 5 skeins of Noro Transition from Creative Hands in Belmont. A gorgeous blend of 55% Wool, 10% Silk, 7% Cashmere, 7% Angora, 7% Alpaca, 7% Camel, and 7% Kid Mohair. 100g skein, 132 yards. On sale for $5.99 per skein. I grabbed all that's left of this colorway.


2 skeins of Noro Iro from Creative Hands. 75% Wool, 25% Silk. 100g skein, 132 yards. Also on sale for $5.99 per skein and I got all the Iro on the shelf, luckily they are the same color and same dyelot.


 With gas and food, my expense for P2P probably topped off at $200. Not too bad for an extended weekend of fun.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Shop Reviews -- P2P Day 3

Saturday, September 20 This was the most leisure day, with generous hours to spare, much less driving, and all during the day light. The guys went to Napa for Henry's guard camp, hosted by the Warriors so none of us had to be home until dinner time. I wore my Bonsai Tunic for this occasion. I decided to drive to the far north point first and cruise down towards home. 280 is always an enjoyable drive. Almost two years of driving on 17 every day makes me so appreciate of an open road, and going 70 mph seems to be impossibly fast. 1. Yarn Paper Scissors in Burlingame is the far north store in the hop. Downtown Burlingame reminds me of Los Gatos, even has the same shops. The store is upstairs but wasn't hard to find. The card making station is so cute, makes me almost wish I do paper arts as well. I did fall in love with their one-skein project, a cabled headband, but they used cotton yarn which I dislike for knitting. They allowed me to switch to the alpaca/silk yarn, also from Blue Sky Alpacas, and gave me the 10% discount for it. 2. What a difference a few miles make. The next store is in downtown San Mateo, Nine Rubies. The street reminds me of Castro St. in Mountain View, complete with a Chinese restaurant supply store, and a Japanese "dollar" store. No picture to share, to protect owner's copyright. (Side note: I know rude people when I encounter them, but dumb as I am, the knowledge usually doesn't come to me until it's too late. Turning your back to a customer that you met before was rude, and talking about the customer within ear shot in unkind words was exceptionally rude. I'm also well aware of my skin color and aware that some people does not appreciate my existence in their towns because of my skin color. It has happened in Los Gatos, Saratoga, Palo Alto, Los Altos, Carmel, Solvang, and on this day, San Mateo. I cannot, and would not, should I had the choice, change the color of my skin, the language I speak, and my origin. I learned to ignore the behavior, but I will never forgive the hostility.) 3. Down El Camino, take a few extra loops, I finally found Creative Hands in its new location. I visited the store a few times when one of the South Bay Knitter members was the store manager. It's always well kept, with nice displays of samples and yarn, and people are always very friendly. It helped not only they recognized Bonsai Tunic, they really seemed appreciate seeing it in person. They had Noro Transition and Iro on the sale rack for $5.99 per skein. Should I go rob a bank? 4. Two yarn shops a few blocks apart, only possible in downtown Los Altos where residents seem to have unlimited disposable income, or so they want you to think. Uncommon Threads has been around for awhile. We went there when Henry was very little and he threw a huge temper tantrum for the entire time I was in the shop. It's a sign. Opal looks lovely in a large skein, though I'm not tempted to knit a sock side ways. 5. Full Thread Ahead, finally a project caught my attention. Hollis designed a cute little capelet/shawl, using one skein of sea cell and silk mix yarn. The yarn sells for $35. The pattern is lace knitted in wedges to form an open circle. This is the only complete one-skein project I bought. 6. Last stop, Purlescence in Sunnyvale. It was not yet 5pm and I was well ahead of the schedule. I was happy to have finished the entire shop hop as planned, yet sad the shopping was over. I lingered for a long time, looked at yarn, and flipped through some chapters of The Natural Knitter by Barbara Albright. Maybe someone with an Amazon account will buy it for me some day.