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Confessions of a Lax Blogger...

I am so far behind on my blogging, I still haven't posted September - which, between you and me, that was one  highly memorable month. T...

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Hug-a-Sheep Day

Hug a Sheep!
I missed Spinzilla this year and was sad. I took heart when I read that Robin was celebrating Hug-a-Sheep Day at Meridian Ranch. Woooo hoooo! I was all set to go, but felt a tad run down. Then it dawned on me... what if I only brought me, to Hug-a-Sheep Day, leaving my spinning wheel and such at home? Yes! I was off to Vacaville with bells on my toes (see photo on right).

The day began looking like a storm, was nigh, but at noon, the sky was blue and the spinners, knitters, felters and 'sitter-outers' such as me, were all were sunny.

All the spinners were there with their facinating wheels, working on various cool yarns - cottons, silks, alpaca, Merino and Jacobs' wools. It. Was. Awesome.

pointy bobbin of fairy tale sort
One of the ladies had the coolest mini 'Great Wheel' - see below. Said she won it at a sheep festival. The mini-Great Wheel is plastic and its base is PVC pipes. It spins very fine (thin diameter) yarn, so she is currently using it to spin up some cashmere yarn. She turned the wheel using a little crank handle at it's spoke. This wheel's bobbin is the same as that of the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale. It's near sharp enough to prick one's finger, then take a long nap while waiting for your prince's smooch.

The coolest spinning wheel there today was this tiny wonder
Something else that caught my eye was spinnner Alison's wool vest. She knit it of Jacob Sheep wool. Jacobs are white with spots so yield black, white, and all shades of grey wool. Wish I'd taken a close up photo of her lovely vest. By the by, this is one of the two ladies who gave my chickens new homes a few years ago.

Allison in her cool vest, at her rad spinning wheel 
I took time to meander over to the barn to visit with the huggable Jacob ewes. Stephany, not a ewe, but one of Robin's Farm Club members was on hand to answer questions. Up front, we all know what a Miss Know-it-all I can be - don't you just want to slap me? I thought 'not much anyone can tell me about Jacobs'. Right... inside of 5 minutes Stephanie had given me loads of new information on Jacob sheep. I knew Jacobs are an old breed, but hadn't realized as an 'un-improved' breed, Jacobs being close to their primitive origins means their useful behaviors were never bred out of them. For example, they are still fantastic mothers. In contrast, a highly messed-with-breed, the Merino sheep - are notoriously bad Mothers. A Merino ewe might birth her newborn lamb, then wander off to see how the clover tastes on the other side of the pasture (Lamb? What lamb?).  But a Jacob ewe will birth offspring, but stay put, licking, fussing over and protecting her lamb. She might even be licking her twins or triplets as Jacobs may have more than one lamb. That reminds me, oh, I can't wait for spring and the new lambs!
One, two, three... HUG A SHEEP! 

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Anyone Up for Wandering about in Sacramento's Bowels?

Old Sac's history museum on a sunny day
 For decades I've wanted to take a Sacramento Underground tour. Perhaps I should explain. Back when Sacramento was HQ for the 1849 Gold Rush, the city was raucous, lively and prone to massive flooding. In response, the city fathers (and some Moms) opted to 'raise' the level of the city streets to a level above, rather than below the river levees. The 'raising' took a whopping 16 years to complete. The end result was many buildings had their first floors became basements, and many second floors became first floors. 

Flash forward to 2016. The streets of Old Sacramento, along the Sacramento River, a bustling tourist trap (uh... I meant, place of immense curiosity and shopping opportunity) and much of it remains underground. Annually, in Autumn, various tours of the underground bits of Old Sac are offered to the general public. This was my time to take the tour with friends. 

Pre-tour pic of Jeri & Rick at museum
The original plan was for my friends Jeri, Rick and Nancy to take the night-time underground tour. Unfortunately Nancy had a health issue so had to forgo the treat. The rest of us sashayed down to the waterfront at the History Museum, arriving early and waiting about with a dozen or so other tour participants. As I said, this was a night tour, on a v. rare, ergo rainy night on which I used my sad old iPhone 5 for photos, so many photos are not up to even my normal crap standards, as per picture to left. 

A museum docent let us into the museum briefly prior to the tour so we could be outfitted with receivers and earphones (so we could all clear hear our guide). There was time for a few peeks at the museum's goodies. 
A little Dias de los Muertos - Day of the Dead - display
California Indian artifacts
Once outfitted we went back outside where we met up with our muleskinner/tour guide. He told us the night tours were earmarked for adults who wanted to hear 'adult' tales of the raucous Gold Rush era. I had thought the night tales were for ghost stories. Alas! That, it seems, is another tour for another time. After introductions, instructions and motley deductions we were off to our first stop: Eagle Theater. The theater was the first ever in California. It was built with lumber and canvas sails from boats abandoned by sailors turned gold prospectors.  Yes, it was raining heavily, & yep, this is drought stricken California.
The welcoming lady at the door is the museum docent that greeted us.
We tripped though the theater's bar to the wooden benches in the auditorium. There our boisterous guide told us the tale of the first hanging in Sacramento. Nice story for a dark and dreary evening. As the story progressed he picked tour members to play various roles in his tale. Note the prone guy in the photo below. No one asked him to act out murder of his character, but nonetheless he put on a grand performance, interspersed with his 'deceased' character shouting out comments at humorously opportune moments. 
Prone corpse, not as dead as one might imagine...
To the delight of Jeri and meself , Rick was called up on stage to play a part. He put in a great performance.
Rick, in his staring role as Sacramento townsmen
After the telling of the hanging tale, we returned to the bar in the back where the docent treated us to tiny tumblers of some good old fashioned sarsaparilla - I helped my greedy self to two. 

Our guide now took us to an underground system of tunnels and pillars. I loved how the air was heavy with the scent of soil. Guess this must be what it would feel like to be a mole or a gopher. Oh, except those varmints don't have nice wooden boardwalks to trod on.
Imagine soil scented air and wooden planks beneath one's feet
Entering a gambling den to learn to Gold Rush gambling ways, first hand
A 'Shut the Box' game set just like the ones we got to try out
Now came a fun bit - our guide led us to a room - which as pointed out earlier, was once the first floor of a brick building. There he told us how gamblers would - at prices exorbitant at either yesterday's or today's value - rent spots in saloons where they would entice pigeons - that is 'suckers' - to gamble. The game was 'Shut the Box'. The mark would throw die, then would lower numbered wood tiles to that same total (i.e., if you threw the die and got a 5, you could then flip over a 'five'. Perhaps turning down a
'5', or the '4 and a 1' or just the '2 and the 3'. You continued to throw the dice & lower tiles ALL of the tiles are lowered. Get all the tiles down and you win. That task is far more difficult than you may think. I couldn't stop snickering to myself over the similarity of 'Shut the Box' to 'Shut the Front Door'. Heck, I'm snickering as I type. Oh, and if they'd had the game on sale, the safest bet would be that I'd have bought one! I'm so very happy there were none to buy.

Next, we marched out of those tunnels and over to a different building. 

This underground area was strewn with items that were found in the underground soil were on display, or items from the 1860s were displayed. Other items were put on display to give the 'flavor' of the late 1800s.

Used to be restaurants, barber shops & such when this was street level
A few women started businesses that did quite well. One was an African American lady who not only owned her own building and ran her own business, and invested in insuring her holdings. So when a fire hit and burning her holdings to the ground, her building - unlike many others whose sites were charred - was quickly re-built. Uninsured sites has a much longer wait.
Site of where a women ran her own business - yes, where 'soiled doves' plied their goods

Rick and Jeri examining some choice remnants, goblets,  

bottles, pipes and plates from the gold rush era.

After the tour members enjoyed wandering around the deep diggings, our guide regaled us with several tales - some romantic - others of wealth gained &/or lost.

A view across the 'diggings'
Shoe shine stand
underground archaeological dig set up with grids 

Our tour group was walked down to second street. There, at tour's end, all participants were given a souvenir shot glass. Hum... 'Finest Soiled Doves in Sacramento City'.

How sweet! They prized dirty birdies in old Sacramento.  *wink*

Saturday, October 01, 2016

Confessions of a Lax Blogger...

I am so far behind on my blogging, I still haven't posted September - which, between you and me, that was one  highly memorable month. To make things easier - not to mention to make this blog current again -  as each Sept. post is finished, it will appear above the current posts as a title - as was this one. I hope that makes it easier for anyone who strays here to remain current with Kerfluffle-to-Go posts.  Keep your peepers open for the first September post on the trip to Central Europe, entitled 'Buddah and Pesht'. Ciao!

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Woolverine Get-Away

Top Story of Tahoe Get-away
Because I spin, I have a ton of fiber & homespun fibers. The fibers sat, waiting to be used and I've long thought, "I'll get to it when I retire'. Uh... been retired a good five years now and well, the time is nigh. To that end, a month or so a while back at a party I met a nice couple. The guy is a Brit artist, and his wife, is the founder of a group of knitters. The second I heard the name of the group, I knew I was destined to become a member. Yes, I am now one of the proud, the wooly: a Woolverine.

That's Leigh on the right who is the Woolverine founder
This Woolverines meet every Sunday at the Broadway Coffee shop where they knit, crochet and chat. What better way to get one's knitting needles flying than a get-together other knitters.  As happiness would have it, the Woolverines got the use of the beautiful Tahoe Lake chalet home belonging to a member's incredibly generous father. The Woolverines arrived at Le Chateau (that's what I call it) Friday afternoon and we had the use of it through Sunday. There were eleven of us all together so prior to arriving I fretted a bit over the horror of 'eleven women and only one or two bathrooms'. On arrival turns out there were FOUR bathrooms... loads of beds and bedrooms. Yes. You read right - four bathrooms. I was soooo HAPPY!  

What fun!  Friday we spent a lot of time knitting and almost as much time nibbling on the goodies we brought. Many members brought freshly baked cookies and I about went NUTS over the home baked goodies.
Such a good knitting/crocheting venue with loads of light
On meals, split preparation of the weekend's meals among us, in pairs. So for example, I shared Saturday lunch with another lady and I'd chosen to serve a massive salad bar, which was a success. In fact every meal, such as Friday night's Taco party was a wild success. As with Hen Parties, no one went hungry.
Salad Bar 
Friday night we all gathered in the living room to watch a movie while we knitted. When we broke up for bedtime I, and another outdoorsy minded lady slept on cots on the upper deck, and I understand there was at least one more lady on the downstairs patio. Once snuggled under my sleeping bag, I spent most of the night watching the very-nearly-full moon sail by overhead and the view of the beautiful  star filled sky over Lake Tahoe. Next morning, on Saturday it seemed nobody on premise got much sleep. We guessed we were all just too darned excited to sleep.

Saturday began with a terrific treat - Bobbie, an experienced, long-time yoga instructor agreed to give us all a workout.
The limber lady on the purple mat is yoga instructor Bobbie
A little 'downward facing dog'
The view from the upper patio
Upward stretching... uh... Swans???
Some of us just thought we were too cool for words, doing yoga
Our little class ended with meditation
Bravo Bobbie! What a great lady she was to get all of us out there stretching and moving. A Saturday afternoon outing was planned at 'Jimmy Beans' over in Reno, where some of us were to tour the massive Jimmy Bean warehouse. J.B.s mostly handles mail order though it does have an in-house shop. Let me tell you, this group of knitters could not wait to lay eyes on all that fiber.

Inside the warehouse just before our tour
Hecka big warehouse - one of oodles of aisles
The tour showed off all the store's amazing yarns and little special deals they have for subscribers. It was all fun because of our cheery tour guide Lineah (line-ah) who came in on her day off. She confessed much of her salary goes to purchasing wools, as she, like all the other employees, male and female are knowledgeable, avid knitters.
Our delightful guide Lineah who came in on her day off to show us around
Woolverine Laura showing off a 'bento box' yarn
project that comes with chopstick knitting needles
Everyone's favorite thing about Jimmy Beans is they are into 'themes'. Not only do they have loads of subscribable themed project kits, and sets like the one Laura shows off above, but there are several monthly theme yarns too. I'm telling you touring J.B's can seriously test a knitter's will power.
At tour's end it was time to shop Jimmy Bean's show room
I made a nick in the showroom products too... but didn't break the bank too badly
Post Jimmy Beans was designated 'Woolverine Happy Hour.. or two' 
Saturday night before watching a movie, it was show and tell time. All Jimmy Bean adventurers showed off the goodies they bought. I got 2 skeins natural, un-dyed Wensleydale wool on which I intend to practice my dying tricks, and some adorable crocheted knitting place markers that look like sheep and chickens - too cute- and a couple of inexpensive little Jimmy Bean's notions bags as well .

Saturday night Show and Tell
Sunday came all too soon. We all knit, crocheted, yakked & lingered until after lunch. At 2PM a mass exodus began.

Ah! Last meal of the weekend as per normal for Hens,
was composed of the abundance of leftovers 
Vicky, Laura and I had driven up together and we concluded that while the drive to Incline Village, Nevada seemed a long haul, the drive back to my house seemed to take only nano-seconds. What fun we had. Laura, who had supplied loads of gelato for the weekend, had leftovers and gifted me with salted caramel and some other coconut sort of gelato - oh yum! A perfect yummy end, to a perfect yummy weekend.
View of Lake Tahoe taken from the 2nd floor patio