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

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Pasedena Mini-Reunion

Clockewise starting with my beautiful Aunt in her buttercup yellow top: Grace,
Bill & Yvonne, Charlaine, Wanda, Donna, Reilly and Tereek
 I got a message from my cousin Yvonne that she and her hubby Bill, and our DC cousins Wanda Wheeler and her Dad were flying in to meet up, in Pasadena. There in Southern California dwell our Uncle & Aunt, Elmer and Grace whom I haven't seen in far longer than I care to admit. Oh, and I thought it was just them but seems my cuz Donna who last I knew lived in Texas now lives just one condo over from her parents.  So bip, bop, boop, I booked a flight to Burbank and a room in Pasadena for Friday night.

Words can't describe how wonderful it was to set eyes on my Aunt Grace after so many years. She's as wonderful as ever and her eyes are soulful, holding memories of my mother and my grandmother Adele. Family get-togethers mean time to review our family stories & history. We gathered around Donna's computer and entered the magical mystery world of  There are always surprises just around the historical corner and Aunt Grace sprang a couple of them on us.            

There are always surprises just around the historical corner and Aunt Grace sprang a couple of amazing ones.   First - just below - there is a photo of my maternal grandmother Adele in her prime. Look at my beautiful, independent & sharp grandmother! I've always thought she was ahead of her time. She held off marrying until she was around 30 yrs old because she was picky but also because she valued her independence, Adele was a self-sufficient seamstress. Look at the light summer weight dress, sun hat and those sharp shoes. She was stylin'. She saved her money and once she even bought a house with it, much to the anger of my grandpa, who thought 'women shouldn't do such things without consulting their husbands!'

Adele Rachel Carter
Ah, and a more shocking Grace brought out this only photo of any of my great grandparents I've ever laid eyes on - Helen Philips with unknown granddaughter (does that be-ribbon'd tot not have the cutest little chicken legs?). Helen was my maternal grandfather's mother. This photo blew me out of the water. There must be more such photos somewhere, and I aim to find them.

Helen Philips & granddaughter (daughter?)
Back to the rest of our gang. Here are Bill and my Uncle Elmer. Haven't seen Elmer in ages and he hasn't changed a bit. Example: Friday we greeted each other with a traditional hug while on Saturday morning Elmer drew back, quipping, "I hugged you yesterday!". Yeah, that'll do us for another decade! Hahahaha, I do love Elmer with all his southern charm.
Bill and Elmer
 On Friday evening cousins Donna, Wanda and Wanda's dad Reilly and I went out for a nice Thai dinner.

Here's a parting group selfie from Saturday afternoon, as several left to head home. Present are our girlie cousins Joniann (lower left) and Charlaine (lower right) who drove up from San Diego.

Did I mention I have a wonderfully spoiled & somewhat fuzzy cousin too? 
What a fun & totally impromptu mini-reunion we had. It continued into Sunday after I left. There is a concensus of sorts that our next meet up will be in October (update:January) in Arizona to see our Uncle Matt, Aunt Grace and Cousin Rhonda. Rhonda is soon to make a big move from the Bronx to Arizona! I think someone has had enough of snow.  

Pretty fishes at Pasadena Thai Restaurant

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Music Circus

It is already half way through the annual six selection Music Circus season. Thus far I have ushered, seated n' greeted four times for three musicals: Legally Blonde, Hello Dolly (twice ushered) and Seussical the Musical.

This is my second year as a full time - as opposed to an usher 'on call' for Sunday nights - so of course this year ALL Sunday night performances were canceled.

Alas, chortle if you will, such is my fate.  But head usher Elliot to the rescue; the Sunday night team were not completely abandoned, but was merged with the
Sunday matinee team.

 All Sunday ushers turned in a list of the season's plays we wanted to usher. I - lucky as per usual - got all the ones I wanted, plus one. No wonder I always celebrate how fortunate a being I am.

Three musicals in, I'd say Legally Blonde (new) and Hello Dolly (beloved oldie), were on the ball for the Music Circus' usual standards of great showmanship and entertainment. Seussical (2nd of 3 new musicals this year) was my 'bonus'.  Really, I had only a minor interest in it because I'd no idea what it was about other than the works of Dr. Seuss, who in my own youth was the J.K.Rowling of my kindergarten peers.

I had mulled over what Sessical would portray the various stories, concluding the show would tell the various stories strung together like the old style disjointed musicals with zero plot line and lots of music. Yes, I'd lots of preconceived notions and, as I have come to expect - I was wrong. The Seusical Matinee was so full up with kids and adults I took a seat on steps next to a main aisle. I was so close to the action that at one point after upending a pail of autumn leaves on poor, forlorn Horton the elephant, the Cat in the Hat upended his pail, dumping the remaining leaves on me!

That brings me back to Horton, with two Dr. Seuess stories to his credit: Horton Hears a Who, and Horton Hatches the Egg. That pair of stories were the centerpiece of 'Seussical'. Spoilers here for those who were never 5 years old - in Horton Hatches the Egg, the sweet pachyderm was roped into baby sitting the single egg of a notoriously lazy bird named Mazie. Poor Horton steadfastly protected someone else's egg through thick & through thin, through storms, through kidnapping and sea-sick ridden ocean voyages, while lazy Mazie gallivanted about. Here's my point - I got all teary. There I was sitting in a massive, dark audience, tears trickling down my cheeks in sympathy with the imaginary Horton the Elephant. Oh yes, nothing like growing up to give one a new perspective on an old tale. I hadn't realized there were so many layers to that simple story. I dried my eyes by the musical's end and cannot believe how much I got out of this 'children's' story, and if you tell anyone, I will deny it.

And for the record... I kept every leaf the Cat in the Hat dumped on my noggin. They'll decorate my home come Autumn, and maybe generate a new tear of remembrance or two. Hey, California can use all the moisture it can get.
Cat in the Hat Leaves of Autumn

Thursday, May 19, 2016


Home Sweet Crap
Over the decades, my garage evolved from a lovely open space with function for laundry & work space into a pile of... uh... crap. You know how that happens. Odds and ends began under command of nature which abhors a vacuum to fill the garage's empty niches, Things purchased with goodly projects in mind and trapped by innocent intentions entered the limbo known as 'Out in the Garage'.
Where Feng Shui snuffed it
I've tried for a couple of years to cut back on 'stuff' and tidy up, but experienced zero success. I mean, things just refused to tidy themselves up, thus I had to give in and do something about it. Ergo, a couple of weeks ago I hired a living, breathing professional de-clutterer. Her name is Becky, and she agreed to help a sister out.

That brings me to this morning. Becky showed up bright and early at 9 AM, bearing empty lidded boxes, lots of giant garbage bags and her own lunch and drink. At, so help me, 9:06 sharp, she stood in the southeast corner of the garage. She picked up a 6 ft wooden stave and with great kindness, asked, "Would you like to keep this, donate or trash it?"

I was almost too happy to answer.

I mean, that was it for most of the day. I sat in comfort while Becky acted like the kindly extension of my will, magically zooming about, stacking, sorting, bagging... while what did I do? I answered questions and sat. You know, that's what Claire-Bears do best.

Soon the 'stuff' piled up, in their categories, in the garage center. It was like I was the homeowner in one of those popular DIY reality shows.
Stuff piled up in categories - 'keep', 'donate' and 'dispose'
Hard work is wonderful. I mean, I could watch it all day. Becky work was amazing. She did what I seem to be incapable of - sorting, organizing, etc. Unlike me, not once did she stop, wander away with a blank look on her face, forget what she was about. Go inside the house to watch that incredibly random episode of Big Bang Theory, or suddenly google a random thought of earth-shaking importance. In short, she was capable of sorting out the garage, a skill that is beyond my ken.

There was a break for lunch of course, and when I deemed to return, Becky was bagging, boxing and continuing to organization.

As pre-arranged by Becky, around 4 PM a junk hauler arrived. He & his little boy arrived with a truck which I took one look at and thought, "No way he's going to fit all my garbage in one truck load"

There was, after all, several junky cabinets of metal and rag-tag hungs of wood. There were not one, but two HUMONGOUS water bed bases that had served as a massive chest of drawers at the rear of the garage. With deft skill, the hauler neatly dropped the drawers on their edges, flattening them. Same for junky cabinets, same for all manner of wooden thingies. In the end, the 'stuff' did not even fill the vehicle to it's summit. Hogwarts couldn't have done a better feat of necromancy.
The driveway full of 'stuff'
The clean sweep did not just include the garage. It also included the Gulag Garden out back. It's been two summers at least, since I've watered anything back there. Anything green, maintains that color on it's own volition. Over the years I discovered that no matter how much any gardening company brags and boasts of its wooden containers long levity, they are LYING. My pressure treated, linseed oil permeated, turpentine treated raised bed was no match for the hellish intensity of the California sun. And worse, the raised bed wasn't worth anything at all once the neighborhood cats decided it was the best litter box e-ver. I know. I feel vauguely ill when I think of that too.

Raised cedar bed in its happy hay-day
of heritage melons, cukes and cutting flowers

Sad, sorry state of raised cedar a frighteningly short time later

Alas. Today the raised cedar bed is no more. *melancholy sigh*

Seeing the empty space, where for several years a fun, gardening bed sat, makes me want to cry. Stupid effing neighborhood cats. Ultimately the evil felines did it more damage than any ultraviolet rays. If only I'd had the forethought and good sense to own a pack of slightly underfed Rhodesian Ridgebacks.

Enough pouting!  Note: there were lots of other things outside that went tossed, from the Great Trash Hauling of twenty-sixteen.

Farewell too, yee olde vestige of chicken husbandry
and other assorted bits of gardening gewgaw
Hello once again tidy patio with no evidence of former projects of various time periods

By the time the hauler disappeared on the horizon with the remnants of 'Claire's Follies', Becky had begun the final sorting of odds and ends, ending with an ultimate sweeping up all the dirt, and debris remaining on the garage floor and patio. Then it was over... my garage and the back patio were clean, sorted and looking like I didn't live here, and that, trust me, is a good thing.

How cleared and clean is the garage? OK, those who have visited me here, this is a shocking revelation: I no longer have to back out of the garage for people to get into the passenger side of my car. Yes. Let that shocking fact sink in and further, let me state: Best money I spent all year.