Roseburg, Oregon

[No links or pics, but don’t worry, I’ll have gazillions of those for you when we get home.]

Melissa and I are wrapping up day two of our road trip. Day one brought us to the Ashlad home of Melissa’s friend Millie, whom she met while hiking the Camino de Santiago last fall. I hadn’t met Millie before and was delighted by her company: she’s smart, thoughtful, kind, generous, and gentle. I’m genuinely looking forward to more visits in the future, and Millie and her husband are planning a trip down our way this fall for one of the exhibitions of Melissa’s Camino lino-block series.

This morning we lingered in Ashland, then drove over to and partway around Crater Lake, then along the Umpqua River to Roseburg. (If Damian didn’t already have a middle name, “Umpqua” would be perfect for him; it’s the precise sound one makes involuntarily when he uses one’s body as a thruway.) Everything here is beautful and green, green, green. I won’t waste your time trying to do justice to it in words. I’ll wait until I can post photos so you can see for yourselves.

Tomorrow, it’s on to Portland, where I plan to explore some local yarn shops. (I did gaze longingly at Web-Sters in Ashland, which features exquisite handmade clothing, as well as yarn. Sadly, they were closed, so all I could do was drool and leave smudgey little nose-prints on their window.) Melissa is hoping to to spend some time off by herself sketching, both local sights and ideas for the Camino show.

Once I’m home, I’ll be able to regale you with some of the visual wonders of this trip which, in addition to the natural marvels, include Franken-Lincoln and Ladies’ Day at the Penzoil oil-change station.


Road Trip!

Tomorrow I’ll be up early, early, early to head to Melissa’s so we can start our road trip. Things would be easier, no doubt, if I drove up there tonight, but I am doing some anticipatory kitty-missing and desperately want one more night with Sparky and Bea before I head off for a mostly catless week. My recent comings and goings have left them a bit clingy and affection starved (and, let me tell you, my cats are seldom clingy), and I want to get in a few extra cuddles.

One of the little girls next door will be doing cat feeding, which should please Sparky no end—he already considers the neighbors extended family and their daughters as fellow kittens, despite their bizarre insistance on walking on only two legs.

Bea will not like it, but Bea dislikes many things.

We’ll be taking along the camera and the laptop, so I’ll post when I can. Melissa is bringing all her lino-block carving supplies in addition to the usual compliment of sketchbooks, which means I’m free to pack insane amounts of yarn and knitting projects.

I’ve picked up all sorts of tips on Portland Yarn Shops over at the Knitter’s Review Forums, so if you live in northern Oregon and hear sudden squealings of tires in the next week or so, it’s probably just me, grabbing the wheel and pulling us over for a yarn fix.

Miss Sparkles’ Vacation Guidebook

[Who is Miss Sparkles, you might ask? Why, she’s my fabulous niece and today’s guest blogger.]

I started my vacation with my aunt on Monday. She picked me up at my grandparents’ house, and we drove to Melissa’s house, stopping at different Michael’s craft stores on the way. I got a bunch of $1 stuff including cow ribbon and a note pad with pigs and daisies on it. Once we were at Melissa’s house we hung out for a while. I played with Damian and Maggie, and Archy let me pet him.

Then we went to Fairyland with Melissa’s nieghbor who has a toddler and brought her cousin who was my age with her. The toddler loved the slides and the playground best. It was pretty fun.
Mrs Tiggywink at Fairyland

After we were back at Melissa’s we said good-bye and went in her house for some down time. I played with cats, especially Maggie. Holding string on a stick I dragged it all around the house, up and down the stairs, over the bed, around the TV, and everywhere I could think of. Maggie chased it and followed me as I did this. We both got our excerise that day.

We went to dinner at a place called Fondue Fred. It was really great. We had meatball fondue and cheese fondue. I liked the meatball better. It was really good. For dessert we had chocolate fondue. I roasted my marshmallows over the fire that warmed the fondue before dunking them. It was delicious. I also roasted a strawberry. That was a very interesting experience. With the extra dip I made art on my plate.
Unibrow plate
I made a fcae with a unibrow, it is NOT hair, it is a unibrow.

After that Ant and I drove to her house where I met Sparky. He was a little unsure of me at first, but soon he was really friendly. I played games with him, such as his favorite, Stick, where you drag a red stick around on the ground and he attacks it. I knit a bright yellow little strip for Sparky that he loved attacking and biting. We knit, played with Sparky, and went to bed.

The next morning I played with Sparky and knit him a purple pouch on a string. In the pouch I put some of his food, treats and catnip. He enjoyed sniffing it and prodding it with his paws.

It was a lot cooler than I expected, but I had packed a wide variety of clothes. We went out and had breakfast at a coffee shop, and then we got our nails done at Rainbow Nails. I got mine a light apple green color.
Lovely fingernails
Please note the “Miss Sparkles” tattoo on my left hand.
[Note from Ant: not a real tattoo; don’t panic, sis!]
Lovely toenails
I got diamond butterflies on my big toes and flowers on my index finger.
A big toe
Lovely fingernails at close range

We went out and shopped downtown. We went in Bookshop Santa Cruz and got a bunch of teen girl magazines, we got these throughout my visit at various drugstores and other places. It was quite chilly, but despte that we had Cold Stone Creamery for lunch. I had Green Gummi Bear ice cream with rainbow sprinkles. We stopped in a bead shop and looked around and in a store that had a lot of little fun things. In there I got 2 containers of Poly Dough and a eraser with !&*@!^&* printed on it. Ant got me a little cat stationary kit that is really cute. We looked in Urban Outfitters and a Surf Shop. I got a really cute top that is light blue and has a hood and a V-neck. It has an empire waist and then goes down to my hips. It is really cute!

We hung out at my aunt’s house after that. Ant gave me some of her old yarn. I started knitting a scarf for my little cousin. The yarn I’m using is a variegated rainbow of bright colors. It is coming along good now. I played a lot with Sparky, he is such a little angel. Bea refuses to come anywhere near me. We had dinner at an Italian restaraunt, and I had alfredo sauce and pene noodles. It was very good. We watched Milo and Otis before going to bed. It was a very cute movie.

The next day we went the the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. Melissa came early that morning to go with us. It was awesome. We played in the arcade first. It was fun. I did this Dance Revolution game that was really hard but fun. We went on a bunch of rides, but Ant didn’t go on all of them. Mellisa and I went on both the rollercoasters. We both liked the Big Dipper best. I had rainbow ice Dippin’ Dots. They were very good. I won two blow up giant hammers. We played more in the arcade. We won a whole lot of tickets. Mellissa and Ant were very good at Wack-A-Mole and the Jeopardy game. I liked the games where you always win tickets like Speed Demon. We had a LOT of tickets. I got a big lime green bear that is awesome. I named it Melon-Head Ho-Ho Keeper. I also got a bunch of erasers shaped like smiley faces and fruit, parachuting aliens, a mini harmonica, glitter putty, a squishy ball and a bunh of other prizes. It was awesome. I loved it.

We drove back to Ant’s house and got all my stuf in the car. I said good-bye to Sparky.
Sparky in the bushes
I miss him SO much.

We drove to Melissa’s and stopped at a McDonald’s on the way. At Melissa’s Ant made me a bed on the couch and I watched New York Minute. Maggie was at the foot of my bed and Damian sat up by my head and did my hair. Archy cuddled with me for a while too.

I had to get up at 5 in the morning to go with Ant to drop Melissa off at work because her car is at the mechanic’s place, that car has got to go, my brother keeps telling me to read the buying guide, that that would help me somehow. I got to go back to bed, though. I’m really tired, though.

Ant and I are about to head back to my grandparents’, but we are going to stop at the Spaghetti Factory for lunch and look in Half Price Books. I’ve had a great time. See ya!

—Miss Sparkles

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My lovely niece has been staying with me the past few days and will be guest-blogging tomorrow about all that we’ve been up to.

Despite my auntly busyness, I have managed to start Mystery Stole 3. I am being absolutely reckless and knitting without swatching, using heavier yarn than recommended: Patons Brilliant in Gold Glow on size 8 needles, so my stole will be more of a wrap than a lacy something. I’m counting on the glitz in the yarn to make up for my decision to omit the beadwork. If it comes out disastrously, I will have no-one to blame but myself and will humbly offer up my experience as a lesson for knitters everywhere. (Someone ought to learn from it; I probably won’t.) I’m 2/3 of the way through the first clue and actually have some hope of catching up before clue three comes out on Friday.

We’ve had a break in the wretchedly hot weather we were suffering under. The past two days have been gloriously fog-bound. Yum, yum, yum, and yum! I’m hoping the cool weather holds as Melissa and I will be heading out on a road trip up to Portland on Saturday. We’re going via Crater Lake and various waterfalls and have a number of dear friends to visit with once we get there. We’ll definitely be spending some time at Powell’s. Any yarn shop suggestions?

No Clever Title to Tie Together Unrelated Information

Now that I am one of the 5,000+ people (!) signed up for the mystery stole, I have a new problem to fret about. The instructions recommend yarn in white or black or perhaps cream, ivory, pale gold, or light grey. Now, I only have two lace-weight yarns in my stash with sufficient yardage for this project: some Cherry Tree Hill African Grey, which is not at all grey and some KnitPicks Shadow in Sunset Heather (obviously not grey as well). Normally, I would have no problem going with a different color—but
a) I don’t know what the finished product is going to look like and
b) I am almost certainly only going to knit one of these,
thus both facts me take the color suggestions more seriously than I otherwise might. I do have a $20 reward card from The Golden Fleece, so if I wanted to wait until next week to start, I could look at what they have and perhaps find something appropriate without spending any “real” money. But I’m already a week behind. Well, I won’t decide tonight.

Tomorrow morning, Melissa and I are getting up early to go into San Francisco for the 10 a.m. presentation of The Cycle Plays by Theatre of Yugen. The front of the card promoting this event depicts a bee dance.
The Cycle Plays
We’ll be seeing three pieces: 10,000, a dance/song ritual based on a traditional Noh theatre opening; Winterland [God Play], which is described as “Two girls search for the ecstatic as Johnny Rotten crawls into a radio and turns himself off”; and Letter from a Small House [Warrior Play], about Ted Kaczinski and his brother. I expect it will be a rather interesting morning.

To Do

• The Clementine Shawl still awaits grafting.

• The top-secret gift project is some edging and two side seams from completion (and has been at this point for far too long now).

• I haven’t worked on the Origami Cardi in weeks.

• I have been playing with some simple design ideas using dishcloth cotton.

• I’m also playing with a more complicated idea that sort of answers the question “what would happen if a dishcloth went on growth hormone?”

• I’m signed up for Dishrag Tag and Mystery Stole 3.

• And because that isn’t enough to do, yesterday I started a scarf just so I could see how one of the hand-dyed skeins from Tall Grass Yarns works up. (And how does it look?: pretty and bright and quite nice. Pic this weekend, along with pattern info.)

• I have discarded all the obscure foodstuffs that I didn’t get bagged before the termite tenting, but now I need to wash out the empty containers, so I can put them in recycling.

• As long as I’m at it, I should probably see what I can do about relocating the yarn that I’ve been shoving into the pantry cupboard just to keep it out of Sparky’s paws.

• I need to unpack from my trip to my sister’s home.

• I have to do at least some cleaning before my niece comes for a three-night stay. (I loved staying with my Grandma when I was little, but I was always a bit afraid too, as she’d pretty much given up on battling cobwebs and there were daddy long-legs in all sorts of corners. When I was a kid, all spiders terrified me. I can now comfortably face—and relocate—daddy long-legs, but anything larger still makes my stomach lurch and my hands sweat. At any rate, I don’t want my niece to consider a visit to my home a mixed blessing.)

What I Learned on My Summer Vacation

I will admit up front that I am an “Ant,” not a mom, so things that strike me as noteworthy may appear a bit ho-hum to some of you. Nonetheless…

1. Ten-year-old pitchers develop speed before accuracy. In other words, those balls will come at you fast and from angles you never expected.

2. A fifteen-year-old boy can eat steak, noodles, biscuits, veggies, and three cupcakes for dinner and still be ravenous again before bedtime.

3. A teenage girl can tangle up a ball of yarn better than a kitten can.

4. Line-dried t-shirts are less desirable than machine-dried ones because they are—quote—”too crispy.”

5. When you are the spectator with the McDonald’s lucky player signature on your LumberKings baseball program you win a prize!: a coupon for one McDonald’s hamburger, valid only at a handful of participating local franchises. (Still this beats having the local-cell-phone-company lucky signature, in which case you get a foam beer-can cooler with the company’s logo.)

6. When you root for the SF Giants and your nephew’s favorite color is blue, he will pick the LA Dodgers mini-helmet to hold his sundae, and you will pay for it without complaining.

On the knitting front
I got four more balls of Soft Delight Extremes at Hobby Lobby and plan to undo the bind off on my first Easy Triangular Shawl, so that I can enlarge it significantly. (I do like a shawl that I can wrap over my head and around my body a time or two. You can never tell when the weather’s going to go all Dr. Zhivago on you.)

After some more knitting, I’ve decided I come down on the Peaches & Creme side of the Peaches & Creme versus Sugar ‘n Cream debate. The Peaches & Creme has a tighter twist, which results in far fewer split stitches.

P.S. Sparky is happy to be back from Oaktown, but behaved so nicely that he has been invited for a return visit whenever he likes. Mighty Bezoar survived her stay at Kitty Hill Resort. Apparently the shock of the new setting gave her an out-of-body experience of some sort, as the Kitty Hill folks reported that she was consistently affectionate and good-natured. We’re sharing some lovely “Home, Sweet Home” moments.

Summer Camp

This is Sparky writing from summer camp. At first I didn’t like it because all the other cats hissed at me and called me names. I was scared!
The other kids don't like me.

But now we’re all friends.
Archy doesn’t play much, but he’s old.

There are a lot of dogs outside. Damian and I are watching Lobo, the mean fierce Pomeranian. I can hear his human yelling “Lobo! Lobo! Bad Lobo!” They don’t let you go outside at this camp, but if I could, I’d stay away from Lobo!
Lobo warning!

I have a lot of fun with Aunt Maggie. Here we’re playing with some cord my mom made on her cord machine. I like pink. So does Maggie!
Playing with Maggie and the cord.

Damian is showing me how fast he can whip his tail. It’s way fast!!!! Even faster than me.
Damian and his whippy whippy tail.

But even though I’m having lots of fun, I miss my mom. I hope she comes to take me home soon.
Won’t I have a lot of stories to tell Bea?? I know she’ll be glad to see me.
Sparky misses home.