Saturday, February 21, 2009

Lurking Menace

Here's the current radar shot from Wunderground. It's WARM outside and the clouds coming in are BLACK. The Severe Weather Alert has upped the widespread rainfall prediction from 2 to 3 inches. The King Range is due for 5--Hang on Mattole Valley!

Snacking: Bien Padre yellow corn and flax chips, Casa Linda Verde Especial salsa--hot, Fox barrel cider.

On the CD player: Missa Mexicana.

Pwill is reading, I am surfing and blogging and gazing ever more at Clapotis on the coffee table. It is starting to rain outside.

For Dinner: Steak salad. Local beef is marinating, two small London broils--one steak in Calhoun's BBQ sauce from Arcata and the other in my own concoction of red wine, black vinegar, worchestershire, dark soy sauce, sesame oil, a touch of honey and squeezed garlic. Broil these and serve sliced over salad tossed with dijon vinaigrette and some very lightly cooked asparagus. Red wine. Either dates and dark chocolate for dessert or maple bacon ice cream if I get motivated.

Nice trip to Hookton Slough this morning--tons of birds, especially aleutian geese. Maybe our last outside jaunt for a few days...

Friday, February 20, 2009

Storm Watch

After my wild flurry of posts last week I just looked at my post list and realized I hadn't posted for a whole week--sacre bleu! I have been quite preoccupied. My mom had a 'bad spell' this week, so to speak which will induce pitied worry in some and knowing nods in others. That is a cryptic sentence, I know, but I am feeling cryptic so I will leave it at that.

My husband and I were planning to drive down to the Bay Area tonight. One of my coworkers casually asked my weekend plans at the end of today and I told her to which she replied "You know they have issued a severe weather alert for Humboldt County?". Of course, I didn't know. Major storm coming in Saturday late--at least 2 and as much as 5 inches of rain in the King Range--the coastal spine that runs parallel to Highway 101. Mud slides. A warm storm that will melt snow. Flooding. Rock slides. All this in the alert and likely to take place right as we are driving home. Neither of us want the aggravation along with everything else, so we are going south NEXT weekend.

This does give me some noodle time with my knitting needles (can't hike in bad weather, right?), although I may be dragged out from my warm nesty corner of the couch to go to the movies by my husband who has taken, in alternate turns, to lately describe himself as both a 'fiber widower' and a 'facebook widower', although my initial infatuation with FB has died down quite a bit. Not the Fiber Infatuation, however!

Zarah is on hold. The sleeves are done and seem right. I need to check and possibly redo the collar and then the slog of blocking and sewing up. I need a break, though. I was feeling disenchanted withZarah, Jiada, everything in front of me and wanted something new.

I have my Belinda from Mason Dixon--Knitting Outside the Lines wrap as my autopilot lunchtime project, pictured here, and it is proceeding apace. I am already on the second ball of aqua Madil Kid Seta. It's an easy repeat and no shapng so I can plug away at it without thinking too much. I knit on it at work during lunch and that is a nice change from websurfing. I have always been the type to hole up at a desk and I only have a 30 minute lunch break, so this is keeping me busy and happy. This is purely a work project, though, and, other than executing a russian join to start the new aqua ball, I don't work on it at home at all.

Everything else on the slate seems too picky (beaded fingerless gloves, the Ice Queen headscarf) or too repetitive (a smoke ring for Chica, a Machault cap for hubby. I will get too them soon, I promise, but I made them both recently enough that I am trying to avoid deja vu burnout.)

The answer was that last Monday I actually went to my stash. Yes, really. I am using yarn I bought in the '90's. Yay me! On the needles is Clapotis in Noro Cotton Iroha. What a great name--'Clapotis'. It sounds enough like the word 'clafouti' that I think of warm fruit dessert with vanilla ice cream every time I hear the the name. The actual definition if the word is: "bruit d'une légère agitation de l'eau" or the noise of a light agitation of water. Soft, lapping waves. How nice! So I am planning some happy clapotement, so to speak, this weekend. I need something that will both excite me and not fight me and Clapotis seems just the ticket.

Bring on the rain--I am READY!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Pop Goes the Weasel...sort of

As I mentioned in a post earlier this week, I have been taking movies of my cockatiel buddy Gabriel. A friend who saw my post asked "What about 'Pop Goes the Weasel'?". Let me explain: Gabriel has been trying to master this tune for over 20 years (literally) and has never really gotten it. He tries, though--tries VERY hard. What comes out is more sort of "Variations on a theme of 'Pop Goes the Weasel' "--like Bach or some riffing jazz master. Or maybe the wires in Gabriel's bird brain start cross-firing. In any case, it is very cute. So without further ado, take it away, Gabriel:

That's me whistling (poorly) in the middle, giving him a prompt. Maybe that's why he's so muddled...

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Why We have Happy Trees

Just in case you all wondered why the North Coast redwood trees are particularly large, I think the current weather radar maps say it all (courtesy of

Here is the U.S. map as of 5ish PM, PST, with us in the far west in the path of that very focused blot of green:

Here is the regional closeup. The pokey-out bit of land is Cape Mendocino, which is actually in Humboldt County. That's Humboldt in the center with Del Norte Co. to the north and Mendocino Co. to the south. We're gonna get wet!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Commuted Sentence

I am about to hit the 2 year mark living in HumCo and that is giving me some food for thought. One plus for working at the local hospital is that I work with patients who live all over the North Coast--Humboldt, Del Norte, Trinity and even Northern Mendo counties.

A couple of things that come up regularly in conversation is that many of the more scattered folk look at Eureka as being "The Big City". I hear the phrase "You city folks..." an awful lot and the relative concept blows me away. See, I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. SAN FRANCISCO, is a big city. OAKLAND is a big city. BERKELEY is a big city. San Jose WANTS to be a big city and not some wanna-be urban sprawl, but only sort-of makes it. The downtown is just not enough of a city center. In any case, the greater Bay Area is host to about 7 million people. Yipes!

I spent a good part of my life poking about these places--more than 40 years. So when people here refer to Eureka, with its population of 26,000 people as the big city, I have to chuckle. I don't mean to make fun of what I see as a bit of naivete, but compare it to my hometown of Fremont. The whole of Humboldt county has about 126,500 people. The city of Fremont, which is a true suburb wedged between Oakland and San Jose has a current population of 200,000. That's 7.5 times larger than Eureka and that with NO open space north, south or west. The hills to the east are still sort of undeveloped, but every time I visit, I see new buildings defying the so-called "no-growth" ban. Drive a very short space and you are out of Eureka in pasture, marsh, forest or farmland.

That leads me to the concept of commuting. If someone commutes from Crescent City to Eureka every day, that is hardcore: 80 tough miles over windy roads. Patients have come from as far afield at Zenia, Gasquet, Branscomb, Salyer and so on. Quite some big distances. Still, when I hear someone carrying on about how terribly FAR is is to come from Fortuna, which is 15 miles from Eureka, again I chuckle because it is all so relative.

During my 16 year career in biotech, my shortest car commute was 13 miles. None of my commutes were less than an hour each way due to traffic. I drove for 13 years from Fremont to Palo Alto over the Dumbarton Bridge, sitting in traffic and at the bridge tollgate, growling at other drivers, surfing my radio. Now I have a .85 mile commute. If I drive, I can't even get through a single song on the radio. I even walk when the weather is good. I love it!

I hear about the "traffic" in Eureka and I have to remind myself how good we have it here, relatively speaking. I suspect some long-timers would talk about how things "used to be". I feel that way, too, about the old Fremont that was all apricot orchards and gladioli fields--both long gone under housing tracts.

I find myself growling now at 5 car traffic jams and I pause and think--"Gee, it really could be worse!" My husband dubbed the Greater Bay Area "The Termite Mound" because of the dense traffic. So, what constitutes a crowd or bad traffic is relative. Life is good here in HumCo and we who are fortunate enough to live here should take a deep breath of clean air and thank our lucky stars.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Fit to be Tied, A Knitting Saga, Part V: Zarah Update

We have a sleeve! Oh frabjous day! Callooh! callay! She chortled in her joy! For those knitters who have been following the Zarah slog, here is the current State of the Sweater.

After a false start, I finally have a sleeve that fits! I knit it up and ended on the first try attempting to blend in a skein of yarn from a different dyelot; this blending didn't work. The color change was subtle, but I could still see it in a plain patch of stockinette. I knew it would bug me to see it, so with a sigh, I ripped and restarted. The second dyelot yarn was used for the chevron bell and seed stitch portions and now the difference doesn't show. I also had to tweak the stitch number, and the changes worked. I pinned the sleeve and it fits! I am so happy!!

Now I get to do it again.

Monday, February 9, 2009

A Conversation with Gabriel

"Who is Gabriel?", you ask. Gabriel is my ancient cockatiel. He's been my little feathered buddy since the Summer of 1984, when I decided I HAD to have a bird. He was about 8-10 weeks old when I got him and little did I know that 24 years later, he would still be with me, doing his birdie thing. Some of you have met him. For those who haven't, here is the Feathered Old One, himself in a video I took on Sunday, February 8th, 2009, telling a snippet of his own story:

As you can see, he is quite a big talker, although this is a tiny fraction of his 'vocabulary'. He especially likes chatting to feet (the waving pink thing in the beginning of this scene), but will talk to the occasional hand, as you can see. He's a trippy little guy!

Gabriel is getting rather long in the beak these days. His vet says she has never treated a cockatiel as old as he is. Since, he has had a few health problems over the last year and a half (after 23 years of illness-free existence, not too bad), I wanted to get some footage of him for posterity. Still, he may just keep on going--here's hoping!!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Computers and Other Friday Idiocy

This will not be so much a blog or even a rant more like a creaky whine. That's because I have a bellyache. The reason I have a bellyache is See's candy. See's candy boxes appear regularly when you work in a West Coast radiation oncology facility, usually bestowed by grateful patients at the end of their treatment courses. I love See's candy. If I eat too much of it, however, I get a bellyache and a headache like I have now. It was definitely a weird day today and a testament to the stress level is that the department collectively pounded down about 80% of a 2 lb. box of See' s in about 3 hours.

Why the stress feeding? Because the bulk of the computers decided to arf today. The normal work flow slowed to a crawl, and things we do routinely with no thought became tedious and difficult. Dare I say it, it made me long for paper charts rather than the baneful and arcane computers we have come to rely on. It reached the point by 4 pm that my coworkers were not so much throwing in the towel for the week but flinging it from them and fleeing as if that towel was a metaphorical angry tarantula itching to bite.

So here I am all bellyachy in both the actual and the whiny sense. So my whine-posing-as-a-pseudo-rant comes from my irritation with technology. I know I would hate if if we had to use paper charts, as they are a pain. I also, however, am not so fond of technologies that don't talk to one another. Our computers have three different operating systems in the department. Some are associated with particular treatment software, and even the OS can be subject to FDA approval, so it's not like we can just change or update on a whim. The flip side is that Microsoft has notoriously and to my mind evilly chosen to poorly support its past OS's, with the mind of forcing users to upgrade. The greedy bastards.

Frankly, I am using an old laptop with Windows 2000. Outdated? You betcha! I cannot afford another laptop right now, however, and it irks me beyond measure that I should have to shell out many $$$ just to have a computer that runs decently. Grrrrrrrrr.

Anyway, it's time to step away from all computers and do something more low-tech like pick up my needles. It is Friday evening after all, my weekly time to say "Enough!" and admire the potential of an unfolding weekend--two whole days and time to choose what to do...

Monday, February 2, 2009

Equal Opportunity For Felines

Has anyone guessed that I am a cat person?

The kitty face in the picture is my OTHER cat, Sophie, who tends to get left behind in the wake of her sister Cappuccino's monumental ego. Sophie tends to be camera shy, but I got some face shots to post. Cappuccino has appeared on this blog in several posts and Sophie is due for some airtime. The Soph-a-loaf is sweet, but rather a nutcase. The vet tech who saw her when I brought her in to be spayed said "Oh! How pretty she is! But pastel tortoiseshells are SO schizy!" She called it dead on--Sophie is one of the schiziest cats I have ever known. She is sweet and cuddly one minute, paranoid the next, and then pushy and aggressive. Once in a while she beats her sister up, but not often. She and Cappuccino are littermates, but they mostly hate each other. So much for having two to keep each other company. Sophie does have the greenest eyes I have ever seen on a cat, the thickest fur, very short legs and no jumping muscles. So here's to Sophie!

On the Zarah front, I am about two thirds the way through the sleeve. This is actually the second go-round. The sleeve was the right size, but I switched dyelots and while the difference was sublte, it showed, so redo redo redo (crap!). Still, the pre-redo incarnation was the right size along the armhole, so I am on the right track.