Thursday, January 31, 2008

Teenager in the House

A little cake

For a little dog

A little brother taking a taste test

Trinket turned thirteen yesterday, and before you know it, he'll be asking for a car key.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

4 Things ...

I was tagged by Pooch:

4 Jobs I Have Had 
- I worked as a dog washer at Pet Spa in Los Gatos
- I worked at The Knitting Room in San Jose during the years when I played stay-at-home-mom
- My first job in the US was office clerk at Hoover Institution. My husband and I met under the Hoover tower for our first date.
- I transcribed my mom's manualscripts when I was twelve. She was a research scholor and the publishers needed the manualscripts submitted in neatly printed format. Chinese typewriters were hard to find. I worked all summer and she paid me for my work, something like $2 per thousand characters.

4 Movies Watched Over and Over
- Sound of Music
- Chicago
- Phantom of the Opera
- Dream of Red Mansion (TV Show from China)

4 Books Read Over and Over 
- Dream of Red Mansion
- Poetry from Tang and Song dynasties
- John Grisham books, when I'm stressed
- Novels by Chinese author Qiong Yao (琼瑶), when I'm in a really down mood and just have to hide and cry all day; any of the books will do since they are all very similar (think Danielle Steele)

4 Places I Have Lived
- Beijing
- Guangzhou
- Palo Alto
- San Jose

4 Shows I Watch
- Desperate Housewives
- ER
- Saturday Night Live
- Nightline

4 Places I Have Been
- Big Sur
- Yellow Stone
- Possum Kingdom, South Carolina
- Cherokee Nation, Oklahoma

4 People Who E-mail Me 
- Sarah
- Lesley
- Zelda
- Jocelyn

4 Favorite Things To Eat 
- Belgium Chocolate
- Potstickers
- Watermelon
- Asian pears

4 Places I Would Rather Be 
- Carmel
- in bed
- in front of a nice warm fire (with someone else minding the fire and bringing me hot tea)
- in a mountain cabin listening to the rain, knowing I'm perfectly safe

4 Things I Look Forward To This year 
- Trinket's birthday next week
- Henry's birthday in three weeks
- Trip to Lake Tahoe
- More than 330 more peaceful days

4 People To Tag
- Sarah
- Lesley
- Zelda
- Jocelyn

Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Scoop on Doggie Waste

All this talk about banning plastic bags got me thinking -- what will we use to pick up after our dogs? Today we use plastic bags from various stores. Whole Foods makes some of the best bags and in our house they have the honor of lining the kitchen garbage can, instead of holding doggie poop.

We shall be prepared for the day when plastic bags cease to exist, or at least cease to be cheap and plentiful. There shall not be a day Mother Earth is covered in dog poop, because we don't have plastic bags to pick them up.

We shall invent Biodegradable Doggie Waste Bags, for the sanity of dog people. We will distribute these bags at a low price.

There will be drop off points to collect filled-out-bags. They will be processed in a big machine and fuel will come out from the other end. People will line up to buy gas, made from doggie poop. Truck loads of money will be made from selling the energy.

This idea and write up about Biodegradable Doggie Waste Bags is copyrighted in California, in the month of January, in the year of 2008, to Bill and Vivian. If you are going to steal it and hit it big, don't forget where you got the food for thought.

Here is Bucky generating energy.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


A few things I've learned from and about Ravelry:

1. You have to be a Ravelry member to see the content, so if you send a link of your projects to a non-knitting friend to show off. Well, all will be lost.

2. You can look up a member by ID, name, email address and blog.

3. Once you find someone's profile you can add her to your friends. You don't need her permission to do so, but she will get an email on Ravelry that you have added her to your friends. Hopefully she will appreciate your friendly gesture and add you to her friends as well.

4. You can look up designers by their names, and if they are on Ravelry you can add them to your friends as well.
5. Once you have all these friendly knitters in your friends list, you can click on "friend activity" to see what your friends have added to their queues and projects; click on "friends' blogs" to see latest entries on your friends' blogs. That way you don't have to check on each individual blog every day to see who among your friends is in the writing mood.

6. In the "friend activity", a queued project links to a pattern; click on it and it will take you to the pattern page. From there you can click on "add to faves" or "to queue". Some days I find two or three friends queue the same project.

7. Back to "friend activity". Big Time Knitter's Master Piece is your friend Big Time Knitter's own project, Master Piece, that she's working on or finished. Click on it and you'll see the project page. Click on "add to faves" to add this particular project to your faves (use the button often, it makes people happy, at least me). If the project is linked to the pattern, click on it and then you can "add to faves" or "to queue".

8. From "my notebook", click on "queue" to view your what's in your queue, grab the little green arrows to move projects up and down.

9. Click on "favorites" to see what you've accumulated in the stack, projects (with the knitter's picture), patterns, designers, etc.

10. There are many groups on Ravelry, but I don't find them very inspiring. The only conversation that I enjoyed reading was on Asian Knitters group about where everyone came from. A knitter I met in this group, Svetlana (Korean grew up Russian and now in US), is incredibly talented. Her latest creation is a jacket she saw in a German magazine. She knitted it up from a picture, took her all three days. Check her out.

11. If you are still reading, my Ravelry ID is bitsnpieces, be my friend and make me happy.

12. Last but not least, there is going to be a Ravelry's mingle at Stitches West on the Thursday evening before Market Preview. Anyone going?

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Trinket the Wild Animal

Cris asked, and here is Trinket!

Check out Dogs on Thursday today, Trinket and Bucky are under the spotlight. Thanks to Natalie for putting them up, and thanks to both Natalie and Paula for making Dogs on Thursday so much fun! I look forward to it every week.

Here is Trinket, my watch dog on duty. Do you think he smelled danger coming?

Or is he just turning his nose on my Pagode?

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Pagode Fixed

Back in August I discovered a glaring error that I made way back on my Pagode, so I ripped out almost the entire piece and here is now fixed version. Blogger is not letting me do a "before and after" side by side comparison, so if you want to see what I fixed, you have to click on this link.

I think the ivory now looks much better with yellow and blue and wheat compliment each other too. I even remembered to mark the pocket this time.


Monday, January 14, 2008

Muir Finale

 Muir is finished, block and DONE!
  Pattern: Muir, by Rosemary Hill, Knitty Fall 2007
Yarn: Newton's Yarn Country Cashmere/Merino, about 1,000 yards
Needle: Size 8
Started: October 2007
Finished: January 2008
Total Cost: about $30
Previous entries: Planned, Swatched, Progress.
 A slightly more detailed view, minus the peeping dog.

 Here is what's left of the yarn, compare to once bigger than Henry's head.

Charity Knitting

These are from my mom's recent knitting, and will be going to local shelters and hospitals. Her own designs of child-size vests, tops, ponchos and couple of baby blankets.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Alba Road Revisited

As if last Saturday was not enough to proof my lack of mental capacity -- heavy storms, downed trees, power outage, driving in the dark -- I went back to the area on Monday in an attempt to take some pictures of the big redwood tree that we drove under.

First is a map of the area the Quacker Center gave me before they led me out (click on the picture to see a bigger version). The little block in the lower right corner marked DL is the lodge we were in. QC is Quacker Center. We'd go up the fire road and catch Alba Road (the 45 degree slope was somewhere there), and the downed redwood tree is at the end of Alba Road, right before Highway 9, which is the main road we need to take. If my car couldn't get under the tree, we'd have to turn back on Alba Road, follow the Empire Grade, Jamison Creek, Highway 236 route, which would add an extra 45 minutes of driving on mountain roads in pitch black.

My little green engine saves lives.

Got there just a tad too late and Caltrans just cut the tree down, so all I saw was a tree stump. It's still pretty impressive, and from the picture you can see how low it is compare to the pick up truck.

The house on the other side of the road got a neat slice in the side. The lady of the house was sitting under the skylight when the tree fell so she was not injured. What a lucky lady!

Last one, it hailed in the early afternoon. This picture was taken from inside the lodge. Not golfball size, but hail nonetheless.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Dogs on Thursday -- Flea Edition

After twelve years of dog ownership, you'd think we know how to keep those nasty bugs away from our precious fur balls. You learn something new every day, and in this case, fight a new battle every day. Bucky has been scratching a lot this week, we thought he was having a reaction to a new canned food we tried over the holidays. Last night we found five fleas on Trinket, ha! there is the answer! Funny thing is, it doesn't bother Trinket at all to be a flea warehouse (a vet called him that a long time ago during one of our first rounds of flea war). I think we still have a dose of Advantage left so I might just use it on Bucky. He hasn't needed it for a good long time, but for whatever reason, we are fighting fleas in the winter. Of course we stopped the new food, Bucky is back on kibbles full time. He says he rather liked having salmon every day.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Greetings from Beijing

Recently I started writing to my dad again. My dad remained in China when my mom came to the US and they divorced after that. The last time I saw him was 1988.

My dad was absent most of my childhood, but he taught me English when I was about six. He's gifted with sounds and languages, fluent in Spanish and Russian, and of course, Chinese (Mandarin, Cantonese and Hakanese). English is one of his less fluent languages, like he can also read French.

My husband was the one managed to get me back on track with my dad this time, and to respect his yet un-met-in-person father-in-law, they communicated in Spanish. On our Christmas card to my dad, Bill wrote in Spanish, I in Chinese, and our still-monolingual child in English. My dad replied in three languages:

Awhile back when Henry was doing his country report about China, he asked his yet-un-met grandfather to send him some postcards. This is one of them. For those of you have been reading my blog since the beginning, does it remind you of anything?

How about this picture I posted last year? (be sure to click on the link if you haven't seen that post before, some nice pictures there) This is my brother and I in Summer Palace in Beijing. Apparently everyone likes this view, but to us it's a little more special. See there are two buildings on top of the hill, you can only see the curved roof of the one in the back. It's actually a rather large building once you get up there and there is a huge courtyard in the back of the building. Standing in that courtyard and looking straight down the hill, across the road, into the vast Central Party School campus, you can see the patio of our apartment.

When you visit Beijing, be sure to visit Summer Palace and look for what was my home.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Nerves of Steel

What a knitters would do for a day of knitting retreat .... The South Bay Knitters' annual retreat this weekend in Ben Lomond was challenged by three heavy storms in four days, causing many downed trees, closed roads, and major power outages in the mountains. Ben Lomond received 10 inches of rain. Some of us turned around, some of us had to spend last night off site and make it in during the day light. I could have turned around this morning when we detoured in Scotts Valley; I could have turned around when we followed another knitter looking for the alternate route up to the Quaker Center; I could have parked the car at the market and hiked up the remaining couple of miles of steep hills (and not worry about the passengers); I could have taken everyone and left before dinner so we'd get back to civilization before dark; I could have made everyone stay at the center for the night. Today I drove three other knitters under a downed redwood tree with less than a foot clearing above my car, in the dark. It's a scene we've only seen in movies. I drove under power lines sparkling above the highway. I drove my friends through the back roads in the redwood forests, with mountain on one side and cliff on the other, in pitch blackness except for the headlights of my own car. The roads are slippery, littered with tree branches. The slopes are steep, some places at 45 degrees. Shudder at the margin of error. This is the kind of place when people get lost you'd hear on national news because they can't find their way out for days. At times we seriously considered whether we have enough food and water in the car. Thanking my lucky stars the retreat center sent car to lead my way out. Thanking my friends watching out for me, and cheering me on. It was a great day of knitting and bonding with my knitter friends.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Bucky Update

On Christmas day Bucky's back legs collapsed and he wasn't able to put any weight on them for a few hours. After a good long nap while we sat on the floor with him and opened gifts, he was able to get up on his own. He didn't seem to be in pain, just stiff. Maybe the legs were in some awkward position when he slept. We tried to do some T-Touch on him and it seems to make him feel better. That and a lot of rest.

He's quite slow during the week and half when we were home for the holidays, picking up just a little day after day. Now that we are back to work he probably gets more rest during the day and I'm sure that's good for the tired old bones. As much as I want to hang around the house all day and watch my pups, I think my presence disrupts their naps.

To make my home a comfortable place for the four-legged family members, I bought a new doggie bed from Costco. Of course it's first come, first serve and Trinket and Bucky has slight disagreement about who to sleep on it every night. Henry graciously donated his own pillow to put in Bucky's crate, after I bought him new pillows that is. The kitchen is now mostly covered in runners and throw rugs and Bucky has resumed his dinner dance -- a few running steps, a twirl and lots of woofs.

Here is Bucky waiting for Henry to drop his grilled cheese sandwich. The back side still doesn't look quite right, but a pug is waiting for food and that is a good thing.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

New Year's Meme

My friend Sarah tagged me for New Year's meme. Here are my answers: New Year's Eve -- do you like to stay in or go out? Definitely stay in, but would go out if there are close friends to hang out with in a safe place. Do you like to stay up or just go to sleep? We usually stay pass midnight, so it’s just another night. We tend to stay up later since the next day is usually not a work day, and to keep Trinket company when he freaks out in all the firecrackers. This year however, he slept in a doggie bed under our TV stand while I blasted away Il Divo on PBS. Trinket slept right through the firecrackers. Viva Il Divo! Any special plans this year? I assume you meant New Year’s Eve? No special plans at all. Though we have a habit of letting Henry celebrate New York New Year before his bed time, we managed to miss the ball drop this year. Oh well, he didn’t turn into a pumpkin. What's your favorite New Year's memory? Y2K. Henry was about ten months old. It was our first time to watch the ball drop in New York on TV and he really cheered for it. Earlier in the day we also watched the celebrations in Paris and China. Do you make New Year's Resolutions? Yes and never manage to keep them. What else is new :-) Feel like sharing them? Sure. I’m going to write Christmas letter this year. After receiving letters from other families, I feel like I own everyone if I don’t write. I bet before I know it, it’d be December 15th 2008 and I’d say, well it’s too later for this year. If anyone keeps track, remind me in November that I should start the letter. Do you do anything special on New Year's Day? My mom has a flight to Houston to see my brother on January 2nd, so we went to Carmel to pick her up on New Year’s Day. It’s also the last day of my eleven day furlough so I was a bit anxious to get things in place before heading back to work. I’m happy to be back on regular schedules, but not excited to face the very busy work days in the next three or four weeks. I will tag Jennifer (Yawn Over), Jocelyn, Lisa and Sonya.