Monday, November 30, 2009

The Field Report, California Style

In South Dakota, and any place where the seasons are sharply delineated, there is a Growing Season, and a Fallow Season. Here in SoCal, where it's warm year-round, there is a 12 month growing season. Crops are planted, harvested, and replanted almost immediately, with nearby fields staggered for earlier or later harvesting times. It's an amazing concept for someone who has lived with a five month growing season for the last few decades.

Around my son's housing complex are many fields (they're 40 miles from LA, but as rural as you can get this close to the ocean). I have seen artichokes ready to pick, cabbages in all stages of growth, ditto strawberries, herbs (I think Cilantro, but I didn't get out of the car to check), tomatoes, peppers, sod (yes, grass), and groves and groves of lemon trees. Other berries, either raspberries or blackberries) are protected  (from the sun, or the birds- I don't know) in temporary greenhouses made of tented plastic.

The strawberries are planted on long, flat plateaus with deep ridges in between the rows for watering. And everywhere, truckloads of workers are in the fields every day.

The Farmer's Market in Camarillo was small but amazing- locally grown beans, potatoes, kohlrabi, tomatoes, peppers, beets, squash, salad greens of all types, radishes, fruits (including the biggest, juciest Asian Pears I've ever eaten), and berries that you don't have to put sugar on (as opposed to any berries we can buy in SD). All fresh. In November.

Amazing, and beautiful.

We get one more candlelit supper (eating many fresh veggies) in the courtyard (we have not eaten one evening meal indoors this whole week), and then we head home tomorrow. We won't get in until very late and I will have to hit the ground running on the new book to make up for this missed week, but I'm coming back here as soon as I can.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Where can you get fruit and nuts and other delicious goodies in Camarillo?

So glad you asked.

Somis Nut House

Including chili mango and chili pineapple, neither of which are listed on the website, but trust me... they're faboooooo

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Friday, November 27, 2009

Cowabunga, Dude

This morning, we drove up Highway 1 a ways, and watched the surfers

lots of them (primarily male)

playing in the big waves.

Then, this afternoon, we went to The Getty

and saw paintings that I will not try to describe, by Monet, Manet, Cezanne, Renoir, VanGogh, John Singer Sargent, Gaugin, Degas, and so many many more. They took my breath, and words, away.

And the buildings themselves aren't too shabby.

and neither was the view. We ate a picnic on the terrace in the cool late afternoon,

and Mother Nature painted possibly the most beautiful picture of all.

Now with 100% more ocean

I don't think I've ever eaten a Thanksgiving dinner outdoors, much less outdoors in a beautiful courtyard in the moonlight. But yesterday was unseasonably warm, even for here- in the low 80's during the day and wonderfuly mild after sundown.

Back home, the world is brown and gold and hunkered down, waiting for the snow. Here, the flowers are still glorious.

A blossom on a palm plant, which opened yesterday.


Bird of Paradise

Some sort of tree that the hummingbirds love.

But before the moonlight courtyard supper (with no bugs- not one), we hiked up one of the trails at Point Mugu State Park. As far as hikes go, it was fairly easy, a .7 mile vertical walk up to one of the most gorgeous vistas I've ever seen.

It was pretty warm, and the sun was very intense, but we had plenty of water, and a very good snack at the top. And the view was spectacular. We rested and looked and enjoyed, and then made the trek back down the hill- .9 miles on a bike track,which was a slightly gentler incline and wider and smoother. On the way we saw some really interesting trees.

And like a doofus, I was surprised to see yellow and falling leaves. For some reason, I thought that California was All Green, All the Time.

Once down at the bottom of the trail, we went across Highway 1, and stuck our toes in the Pacific.

and gazed at that wonderful view up close (the aperture didn't open all the way, that's what the shadow is).

The breakers are very close to the shore, and are thunderously loud.

And I got my picture taken.

Today, we're going to The Getty. Lucky lucky us.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Turkey Day!

It would be a much shorter list to detail the things I'm not thankful for, since my life overflows with blessings. Voracious Reader is sitting next to me and she reminded me that I am thankful for sheep and the wool that they give and the yarn that is made from the wool, and she is absolutely right. Superhero Boy, on my other side, reminds me that I am so happy to be in California with him (and he is totally correct on that point). Over and above everything else I am thankful for, I am thankful for all of you- the 380 of you ,on average, who check in to my blathering every day. I'm amazed and honored and amused that so many are not bored silly by my constant chatter. (okay, many of you may in fact be bored silly, but you keep checking in, for which I am thankful).

Yesterday, we visited the most beautiful public library that I've ever seen (if that link doesn't take you directly to it, click on Camarillo). In addition to the sunken ship where kids can read, and the stage where kids can put on plays, the carvings and tile mosaics and Mission furniture throughout add up to the most wonderful, soothing place. I would love to spend hours and hours there.

After the library, we went to the most wonderful Mexican market and had a pineapple paleta , which is basically a huge, delicious, popcicle.

Yesterday morning, I ran with The Wonderful Genevieve, on a route through Cal State U Channel Islands, which has a totally beautiful campus. The distance was the same as what I run at home. But at home, the ground doesn't have those odd geographical swellings that make running a bit more difficult for old ladies. Between hills and the heat (it wasn't hot, but it was a good 40 degrees warmer than I am used to at the moment), I had to walk more of the route than I wanted to. But I made up for that by swimming an hour in the complex pool with VR andSB.

It's good that I'm getting lots of exercise, because the food... oh my the food... tamales, burritos, guacamole... all the real thing, and all absolutely and totally yummy.

Today, we're turkeying and hiking and being thankful. Life is good.

Oh- and there are no clouds here. Not even a wisp. I have never seen such an expanse of totally blue sky.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The morning after the day before

You know how they say to check your flight times 24 hours in advance? They kinda sorta really actually mean it.

We fly out of Aberdeen when we can. It's more expensive than other airports within a 200 mile radius, but it's convenient for us, and the long-term parking is free. Aberdeen is a very small airport, with one gate. If you arrive an hour before your flight, there is still plenty of time to check in, hit the bathroom, make sure you have everything you need in your purse, and sit for 20 minutes before they open security (it's not open until just before departure) and then another 10 before boarding.

So yesterday morning, we decided to leave a bit early and eat breakfast in Aberdeen at one of the 24 hour places. But we got stuck behind the world's longest, slowest train, so we picked up a McMuffin and headed to the airport. As we drove up, I saw that people were already going through security. I rushed in while Husband parked the car and brought the carry-ons. The agent tersely told me that we were pushing it a bit. I showed her my ticket, which listed a 7:00am departure (it was then 6:05).

She said that departure was 6:30, and if we'd arrived a couple of minutes later, we would have been denied boarding!

So that sort of set my mood for the next several hours- deep anxiety over what didn't happen. However, we got on the proper plane, and all subsequent planes, and arrived at LAX just fine, and right on time.

And very very tired...

So, we're here, it's every bit as beautiful as everyone has said (I am certain that I recognize every bit of topography from some movie or other). The weather is gloriously mild. We ate take-out from a Mexican market (oh my lordy... wonderful stuff, and I remembered enough high school Spanish not to order anything with the word *cabeza* in it). And are settling in for a week of wonderfulness.

I'll take lots more pics, but in the meantime, here are some mountains and marshes around Salt Lake City.

And next Monday, I'll check Tuesday's departure times.(and I'll curse Travelocity, which sends out notices every other day about every other flight I book, but not for the one that actually changes)

Monday, November 23, 2009

It's the night before...

...yet another flight. My very first airplane ride was the one I took when I moved to South Dakota, alone and barely 18 years old. It was 27 years before I got on another plane- that time to Monterrey, CA for Bouchercon (The World Mystery Convention). Up until the last four months, I generally went years in between flights. This is my third trip since August.

Tomorrow morning, we take off again, from Aberdeen to Minneapolis to Salt Lake City to Los Angeles (with long enough layovers that we don't have to sprint from one end of a large airport to another). From morning temps in the teens to afternoon temps in the high 70's. From soybean and corn harvests to palm trees. From video calls and letters, to smooches in person.

I'm going to be one Happy Grandma come tomorrow afternoon. And I might even see the ocean. I'll take pictures.

You all be good while I'm gone, and I'll check in as I can.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Books and Apologies

Sorry for the lack of posting lately- things are crazy here, what with yarn decisions and selections and project breakdowns and orders, and early Thanksgiving meals, and getting ready to leave on Tuesday. Once we get to California, things will slow down a bit (they have no choice but to slow down, since I can't do Fair Isle knitting on the plane). I promise that I'll post more regularly, and with more ocean.

In the meantime, I ordered Storey's 101 One Yard Wonders. I don't have much (any) time to sew these days, but eventually, I'll get the machine back out. And when I do, I know I'll be making many of the fun projects in this book. The 101 One Skein books have been wildly successful for Storey (I've contributed to 3 of them, including the new one coming out soon), and I wish equal success for this branch of the franchise.

Though I've praised him before, I don't remember if I mentioned Neil Gaiman's Coraline here on the blog. It's an intense book, with a story line that is much less gentle than many children's books (I haven't seen the movie yet, but plan to soon). Last week, I read The Graveyard Book, which, in terms of intensity, is Coraline x10. In a nutshell, it's the story of a young boy who barely escaped the murder of his entire family, and who was raised and protected by ghosts in a graveyard. To tell more would be to give too much of this amazing story away. It's like no other book I've ever read. And it won this year's Newbery Medal.

A caution about the story: while it's aimed at younger readers, I would be wary of recommending it to anyone too young. Voracious Reader is eight, and she reads far above her grade level, but I think I'll hold off giving it to her for a couple of years. Older readers, those ready to handle the fact that real evil exists, will love it.

Oh, and the ending made me cry.

Friday, November 20, 2009


No time, no time no time... I'm feverishly trying to get ahead on book work (work on the new book, not bookwork), choosing yarns, ordering them, narrowing project lists and the like, getting the house ready for an early Turkey Dinner tomorrow, cooking and baking for same, and packing to leave on Tuesday, for a week... So I have no time for anything today except to say that my friend Mary has a great new pattern for sale. Go and buy it, and knit it, and love it. I've done the first already, and will manage parts two and three as soon as I can.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Folk Art Santas

I went through a wood carving stage back in the 90's (sort of like the Torchwork Phase, and the Berserker Basketweaving- I'm a serial obsessionist), and these primative Folk Art Santas are the closest to Art (with the Cap) that I've ever come.

They were all carved from soft pine cutouts (that I cut myself, I might add, with a scroll saw). It's too bad that when an obsession leaves, it really leaves. I'd sort of like to make more of these.

The backs of the Santas are all trees

I love this grouping

This is how it started, with very amateur basswood carvings. I moved on to the flat work afterward.


I need to re-anchor the dowel on the big Half-Moon Carved Santa

These aren't carved- I used textured paint for the beards

Every year when I set these out, I am amazed that I actually made them. And some year, I'll actually get good pictures. These were the best I could manage.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Drum Roll Please

Some of you may have noticed that I spent almost a week in North Carolina attending a  festival with over 100 amazing vendors, surrounded every day by intoxicating wool fumes, and yet did not bring home any yarn/fiber purchases (unlike the Sock Summit, where I spent a fortune). In fact, the only thing I purchased at SAFF was Goat Milk Fudge. Yummy though it was, I couldn't exactly knit with it.

There was a reason for the lack of buying, which I can finally announce. I did not buy yarn because I will not be doing much recreational knitting in the next six months... because...

I am writing another book!


Working title (which may, and probably will, change): Fearless Fair Isle

Subject: if it wasn't obvious, Fair Isle and Stranded Projects

Projected Publication Date: Spring 2011

Publisher: Taunton, who did such an amazing job on both I Heart Felt and The Big Book of Socks

My deadline: nightmare inducing

So, I'll be talking about writing and designing, and everything else in my life on the blog, and here and there showing what little *just for fun* knitting I can squeeze in, but for the most part, I'll be working.

This is book 11 (my 5th knitting book), and I'm climbing back on the roller coaster. It's good to be once again gainfully employed. Woohoo!!!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Jumping the gun

Avert your eyes, all ye who bemoan Christmas in the stores before Thanksgiving...

It seems like I've been on the road a lot this year (mostly because I have been on the road a lot this year), and I'm heading out again soon. This time, it's pure fun. Next week, we're going to SoCal to spend Thanksgiving with Older Son, The Wonderful Genevieve, Voracious Reader, and Superhero Boy. I haven't seen them (except on video chat, which is wonderful) since July when they moved, and I am seriously excited about this jaunt. It is way past time for some Gramma Hugs.

So we're doing Thanksgiving here early (with the ones who aren't traveling), and in prep for that, I put our Christmas decorations up yesterday. I generally have my bric-a-brac out early, but this is early, even for me.

I've actually reduced the amount of stuff that I set out. There used to be a tree in every room. Now I just have the Snowman Tree (snowmen, snowflakes, snowbabies),

The Big Tree, which has our collection of Glass Eye Mt. St Helen's Ornaments, plus ornaments that were on my parents' first Christmas Tree, and all of the things we've collected over the years (including this wonderful Margarita Mermaid that was a gift from my friend Melanie),  and a Santa Tree (guess what goes on that one- go ahead, I dare you), which is not done yet. The SD Grandgirls will decorate it on Saturday.

I also set out my hand carved Santas, which are the closest thing to Art that I've ever produced (I haven't gotten a worthy picture of them- I'll keep trying).

Ho Ho Gobble Ho!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Field Report

The soybean harvest is finally in full swing. Most of the fields have dried up enough to bear the heavy equipment needed for harvest, so there is a steady stream of semis rumbling on the highway day and night, transporting the beans to local elevators,

where they wait in line to offload their cargo. See them? Looking like Matchbook cars?

That big metal cone thing there? It's a storage facility (much like the tall contrete thing next to it) which holds 1,000,000  (yes, that is the correct number of zeros) bushels of soybeans. It is full. That's why they're piling beans on the ground. And the corn harvest hasn't begun yet.

Lots and lots of future tofu.

And the geese are massing for their migration. These are just a few of the hundreds of thousands of geese that fly by twice a year. They're hanging around for awhile, waiting for the corn harvest. Lots of good pickings in the fields after the combines leave.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Today my knitting group meets...

... so I'll be heading out very soon for an afternoon of yarn and laughter (is there any better kind of afternoon?).

But before I go, Priscilla knitted some lovely Niblet Socks :

Didn't they turn out well? I think I need to knit myself another pair.

And Kathy finished her hat from the All Day Fair Isle class at SAFF:

(I don't know why Blogger insists on turning the image sideways. The file is oriented the proper way, honest. But sideways or not, the hat is adorable!)

And before I hit the road, I want to mention how absolutely wonderful the Thursday night comedy lineup is- Community, Parks and Recreation, The Office, and 30 Rock are all hitting their marks perfectly. And then afterwards, the DVR'ed Flashforward. I love Thursdays.