Saturday, December 30, 2006

High School Basketball

Photos courtesy of Brian Wallace, used with permission

High school basketball is rather like Christmas; it gets me through a dark and dreary part of the year. Walking into the brightly lit gym, with the pep band playing, is like entering another world. Youth rules. Kids rock. Looming old mountains and foul weather stay outside and I spend a few hours with the vibrant energy of hard working teenagers. Songs like "Smoke on the Water" and "Surfing USA" blare out from the balcony and ring in my head for days.

Mostly I come for the basketball. I really love the game. Originally I went along with some friends of mine who had a freshman son playing on the varsity team. One year our exchange student, Leonardo, was a member of the stunt team and I had a quasi-parental reason to go. But I don't really need a reason beyond a simple enjoyment of the show.

Our high school teams have done well over the years, winning both boys and girls state championships several times. One boy from Juneau made it to the NBA and is racking up double doubles this season for the Utah Jazz. This year two of the seniors, one girl and one boy, have already committed to playing Division I college ball. It is gratifying to see such fine results of the all out effort and commitment these kids make to the game.

Each year some of them graduate and move on. Former players appear in the stands every season, home from college for Christmas break or home from the war. Wedding pictures are printed in the newspaper. I hear from parents about jobs and babies and medical school and all the things that people do after high school. Their years on the basketball team or the dance team, playing in the pep band or cheerleading do not define these students now or in the future but they are shaped by putting their young hearts and minds to this work. They mostly look like kids having fun and the faces of their parents and fans look proud.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Sleds and Skis

Ray and Jamie Ray found a sled and some ski passes under the Christmas tree so we have had some winter sports days this final week of winter break. The sledding resulted in a skinned wrist, a cut lip and a broken strap on the new sled but the helmet was there when Ray's head crashed into a tree. Santa's workshop replaced the sled (Costco) and the scrapes and spills were quickly forgotten. The sledding hill is close by and Ray and Jamie will want to go back as soon as there is some more new snow.

Eaglecrest Bus There is a bus that goes directly to the ski area on weekends and school holidays. It leaves from a mall about half a mile from our house and only costs $5 round trip. Parents ride free. Yesterday's load of passengers ranged in age from 13-16 with the exception of Ray and his old mother. It was a pretty fun ride and was certainly no slower than driving ourselves. We ended up riding back down with some friends who live nearby. It was Ray's call; I rather liked the bus.

Ray on the Bunny Hill

Tuesday, December 26, 2006


Kids and gifts in the morning; food and friends in the evening with lots of time on the telephone throughout the day with family from far away. That's the Christmas report.

Not our house

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Where's Dad?

"Where's Dad?"

When Katherine or Ray would ask that question, I used to answer. Now all that is required is a pause, and they answer themselves.

"He's at the hangar."

Yep, Dave is usually at the hangar. He originally bought the hangar to house the airplane but it serves more purposes than storage. It is a workshop for his projects and a place where a lot of other guys in trucks drop by with advice and their own plans to discuss. Yesterday, Dave and Pete replaced the landing gear on our 172, changing out the big tundra tires for stock wheels.

Last week the motorcycle got new tires, a jack for the snowmachine needed to be modified and the new lift for working on the bike had to be assembled. There is always something to do at the hangar.

There is a bar/restaurant in town called The Hangar. Sometimes we joke about Dave being there instead, drinking beer or ogling waitresses, but that wouldn't amuse him for long. He could be getting something done at the airport.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Traveler's Socks

Here are some Traveler's Socks that are going nowhere. The pattern is from Folk Socks by Nancy Bush and I like the finished product very much. I just don't like the traveling stitches. It is tight, niggly knitting and it makes my hands unhappy. The project sits on the table and waits. I give it a glance and leave it there. It must be time to change directions.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Husband Socks

Socks for Dave, modeled by me. This is the worst week of the year for daylight so I was lucky to get a photograph with natural light. These are knit with Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock yarn (color charcoal) on US 1 needles. No real pattern...

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Sweetheart Queen

All the chatter about the dance died away overnight around here and I almost forgot to post my own high school pictures. But what's another few days when the photos are 30+ years old?

Most of my closest friends in high school were not the type to go to a formal school dance. Many of my friends, in fact, were kids I knew from my neighborhood and they went to the "other" high school. My boyfriend would never have gone to a prom; he didn't even wear a shirt under his graduation gown. I'm surprised he actually graduated. As a group, we were more likely to cut school and go swimming up in a nearby canyon. Drinking on the weekends, drugs, cigarettes, driving around - these were our recreational activities, not wearing pastel dresses and tight shoes.

But it was important to me to be friends with all kinds of people. I really liked the jocks and the geeks. The kids in my French class were funny and the drama and band students were creative and spontaneous. I knew everybody in the school and said hi or smiled to almost everyone I passed in the hall.

I didn't go along with all of the rebellious behavior of my partying friends. Both of my parents smoked and I thought it was disgusting. I kept my grades up because it seemed like it might be important later on and it didn't really require much effort. I had plenty of time outside of school for fun.

I was surprised my senior year to be elected Sweetheart Queen for the Valentine's Day dance. It never occurred to me to turn it down. It was so kind of the other students to select me. My boyfriend wouldn't go with me so I went with one of our friends, John Marsh. His face was bandaged because he had been out the night before with a carful of our drunk friends and they had smashed into a tree. Nobody was seriously hurt.

I sewed my dress for the dance. I was making a statement by doing something unexpected fashion wise and I really was grateful not to have to worry about spaghetti straps and a strapless bra. It was my one and only fancy dance in high school. For the weekend of the senior prom, I went to a friend's lakeside cabin where I rowed a boat and hung out with two other dateless girls. They were kind of sad about it but I thought it was a fabulous place to be. I have really been more of a loons and moonlight type of person all along.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Prom Dresses I Have Sewn

Freshman - Snowball
Sophomore - Prom
Senior - Snowball
Last night was "Snowball", a fancy dance at the high school. Katherine likes to design her gowns; I get the construction part of the projects. She would be satisfied with a masking tape hem and safety pins for the final fitting, so she is an easy person to please. My sewing standards are a little higher than that and the girl looks good in a dress, so all of the outfits have been successful.
Shoes, hair, make-up, jewelry, self-tanner, flowers, undergarments, swing dance lessons - Katherine takes care of all that. There was no date (a guy?) so her dad did the driving on snowy roads. Nine to midnight - three hours of fun.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Socks with Clocks

From the book Folk Socks, by Nancy Bush, this is the sock version of Stockings with Clocks, a design "inspired by the country stockings found in many parts of Europe". They are made with Lang Jawoll yarn in Oatmeal on US 1 needles.

Saturday, December 02, 2006


It was too cold to be outside for awhile this month so I resolved to go check out three of the local gyms. I only managed to walk in to one and I didn't last long. I don't think I am a gym person. Besides the weakness of the overall atmosphere, the $150 membership fee and the fact that I have to drive somewhere to exercise put me off. I was glad when the temperature rose to 20 degrees. I strapped on the snowshoes and have been back out in the fresh air. The first day I was breaking trail and up to my knees. It has been progressively easier since then and way better than that gym.

Thursday, November 30, 2006


Tinkerbelle (click to enlarge)

It snowed 19 inches yesterday. There was very little traffic at the airport. Tinkerbelle was the only passenger plane that made it out and that was only because it had landed before the snowstorm started. Dave took some pictures of the plane being deiced on the apron. It was deiced again while it sat in takeoff position at the end of the runway. The snowplows made a sweep down the runway, pulled off to the side and the jet followed the plows on a takeoff roll. A Fed Ex prop plane took off and that was it for the day.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Pretty but Cold

I am a shut in. My brave neighbors are out skating and skiing, snowmachining and sledding. We went for a walk and our skin hurt. Our legs felt bare and moved stiffly.

So, instead of winter sports, we have savory dinners, with spicy sauces over rice. We have Netflix and Blockbuster and NPR podcasts. I have melancholy poems to read. The phone rings and it is one brother hauling fuel on a Nevada highway, then it rings again, another brother hauling a whole tanker of fuel across the Atlantic Ocean. Heading for Spain, driving to Elko.

We shared a turkey and all the sides with friends downtown. Katherine was with her mom on Thursday so we will conjure up another feast with her soon. Thanksgiving is a holiday with a false history that somehows keeps an intact core. Most of us are thankful for our rich lives and that is what we celebrate.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

St Peter Port Stripes

I have been neglecting the blog and the knitting while watching The Sopranos on DVD. It would sound better if I was busy staying in shape or learning to speak Spanish but it wouldn't be true. Tony, Carmella, well, they do speak a little Italian...

These socks, St Peter Port Stripes from Folk Socks by Nancy Bush, are my third pair from the book. I have pair number four on the needles, but they are mostly just sitting there. I like to have this link with the past, these very traditional socks in my hands as I knit them and then on my feet as I wear them. These hail from the island of Guernsey and were all the rage in the seventeenth century. They were knit by the islanders for export. The hand knitting industry provided a major source of income in the Channel Islands for more than 200 years. Apparently Ms. Bush created this pattern based on a written description found in a letter from a Parisian merchant. History comes alive.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

A Hat for Gabrielle

Ray modeling Gabrielle's hat
Here is another hat with skulls and crossbones. Katherine's friend, Gabrielle, saw her hat and asked for a black and white version. I was finished with the first row of skulls before I realized that the background was white and the pattern was black. That was not my intention, but sometimes projects just are what they are. I used Lang Jawoll yarn, US 1 needles and the chart from We Call Them Pirates.

School was canceled today for the second day in a row as we are getting a lot of snow! Shovels, hot chocolate and snow forts are on the agenda. We don't really have to go anywhere so we will leave the snowy roads to the other drivers.

19 inches of snow on the back deck

Monday, November 13, 2006

Embossed Leaves Socks

Pattern: Embossed Leaves Socks
Interweave Knits Winter 2005
Mona Schmidt
Yarn: Opal UNI
Color: Teal
Needles: US 1

I used the tubular cast on recommended by the designer. I liked it. It is stretchy and it was nice to learn a new technique, especially one that works. The yarn is also a new one for me. It comes in many solid colors and I want to find a good "go to" yarn for color work. I will compare this with Lang Jawoll after a few washings. I also have some Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock yarn in the cupboard, which seems to be a favorite amongst knitting bloggers. Maybe a new favorite will emerge.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Misty Garden Scarf

Yarn: Knitpicks Alpaca Cloud
Color: Smoke
Pattern: Misty Garden
Jo Sharp
From the book: Scarf Style
Needles: US 8
I was going to use this yarn for another pattern and make this pattern in another yarn but this is how things ended up. The yarn is doubled but the fabric of the scarf remains very light and soft. It looks good with a black coat.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Good Dog, Carl

Karen Baumer
Yarn: Knitpicks Shimmer
Flower Garden (1 skein)
Needles: US 5
This was a quick and easy project, trying to make the best of a yarn that is really just too bright. I wanted to make a scarf for a friend and she picked out another scarf entirely. It looks like she will be getting two scarves now.
This yarn is 70% alpaca and 30% silk and is nice, other than the color. It makes a very soft, lightweight scarf that is quite warm and comfortable. The yarn was cheap ($4.99) and easy to work with.

Monday, November 06, 2006

New Paneling

The stairs - site of future bookcase

Our trip into the cabin a week ago gave me a first look at the new wood paneling upstairs. Dave went in with our friend, Pete, in September for a week. Those two guys did a tremendous amount of work. I think it only took one bottle of gin and two new saws but I may not have been fully informed.
We will trim the windows next spring and do the baseboards, etc. We will still need to build bookshelves, finish off the closets, and do many other finishing touches. But it is good to get the paneling and insulation done now as we will be much warmer when we go in for our winter trip in February.

Our bed
Ray's bed

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Highland Schottische Kilt Hose

This is another pair of socks from Folk Socks by Nancy Bush. A series from this book is in the works but I keep veering off the path, distracted by other patterns and ideas.
The yarn is Sheldridge Farm's Soft Touch Heather in colour Opal. My lousy flash photograph does not do the yarn justice; it is a lovely multicolor blend yet it reads as a solid. It is a bit heavier than some sock yarns so I used a US size 2 needle. I modified the pattern by starting at the toe, shortening the leg and removing the calf shaping.

Monday, October 30, 2006

The Chilkat Range

Chilkat Mountains
Chilkat Mountains
Chilkat Mountains

Butch called. "Hey, Sarah and I are going up to the lake this weekend and we have a couple of extra seats in the plane. Wanna go?"

A float plane is a fine way to travel. It was a cold weekend and probably the last weekend of the season for flying up there. The temperature never rose above freezing. It was clear and calm, though, and stunningly beautiful. The conditions were just right for a slight deviation from the usual route home. We flew over and between mountains and glaciers that we usually fly along side. It was a real treat to get another trip up to the lake and to be on such a spectacular flight.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Letting the License Lapse

Yesterday the renewal notice for my nursing license arrived in the mail. I threw it in the garbage.

My license is due to expire November 30. To renew, I would need to pay a fee of $215, and to check two out of three boxes: 30 hours of nursing education, 320 hours of nursing employment or 30 hours of volunteer nursing professional activities. This is something I could accomplish, but I simply don't want to anymore.

It was a good choice of a profession for me. I was 19, working part time at a hospital and enrolled full time at a university when I decided to major in nursing. I really wanted to be a paramedic at that point but it seemed silly to drop out of a four year college to go get a certificate at a junior college. I also thought, correctly, that I would have more flexibility and mobility with a nursing degree and I could always work as an ER nurse.

I did work 11 years in an ER which was my favorite job overall. I also worked on post-op surgical wards, in a public health clinic for a year, in a surgeon's office, and in a tiny clinic in a very small town where I did blood tests with a microscope and took and developed lousy Xrays all by myself. I worked for the Peace Corps in Zambia. I then worked 10 more years at the Juneau hospital, in the OR, in recovery and in the Same Day Surgery unit. When I quit to go to Mexico for a year, I pretty much knew I would not be coming back.

I may work again but I am no longer a nurse. It was right for me for so many years, a way to make a difference, to connect with people, to do something important with my day but it is over. The lapsed license seals the deal.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Scandinavian Socks

These are Scandinavian Socks, by Priscilla Gibson-Roberts from the Fall 2006 Vogue Knitting. Katherine liked the pattern and chose to use the same colors as the designer. She thought it kind of funny that they happen to be her high school colors.

I used Lang Jawoll yarn from Simply Socks in black, white and red (obviously) and US 1 needles. I tried to make the heel and toe as directed but couldn't seem to understand quite how it was to be done so I devised another strategy to get the stripes in there and still have a nice looking sock.

I did make a mistake that almost caused me to rip out half of the first sock. I knit half a row of waste yarn for the heel stitches, then continued on and finished the toe. When I went back to pick up the heel stitches, I realized I had just carried my contrast yarns right through the middle of the heel. I had centered the color change down the back of the leg and the bottom of the foot so it looked good but left me with less than an inch to tie off and weave in ends. I managed to tie some knots with the smallest of ends (not easy) and then used some fabric glue to cement the knots. Katherine won't mind walking on knots; she used to come home with rubber boots filled with gravel.

She loves the socks which makes me happy as well.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Books, Blogs and Baseball

I am reading a bit more, as my enthusiasm for knitting socks has waned temporarily. I have a pile of used books but I seem to spend at least as much time in front of the computer as I do with my nose in a book. Sure, I read knitting blogs but also I have wandered over to blogs about infertility, large families, design, cancer and art. Huh? There are talented writers everywhere. I don't spend any time on eBay. I read the local paper online and the news that is posted on the web by a local radio station. So when I repeat something I got from the news, the vocabulary sometimes trips me up. "I read it on the radio."

I am also listening to a library book, via my iPod, a David Sedaris CD, Me Talk Pretty One Day. I have read his short columns in the New Yorker before and he is really funny. He has been living in France and his tales about Americans abroad and the struggles to communicate in a second language are reminiscent of our time in Mexico last winter. Hearing his high, lispy voice and his imitations add so much to the narrative. It is good stuff but I am glad he is not my little brother. His family stories are merciless.

This time of year also finds me in front of the television. You might think I am watching Project Runway (which Dave thought was about an airport, poor guy) but no, it is Major League Baseball that has captured my attention. October is World Series month, and once I become aware of it, I am up on that bandwagon. I never think about baseball at all during the rest of the year, and I really don't even remember which teams played last year or who won. It's a short lived interest, a bright light during a dark and rainy season. I find something delightful in the drama, the peek into a world that totally consumes so many people. There is a pitcher with grey in his funny beard, a twenty two year old up to the majors for the first time, the announcers explaining that the second baseman and the shortstop communicate who will cover second by an open mouth and a closed mouth. Things like these intrigue me.

I am pulling for Detroit. Why? Well, my brother-in-law, an Oregon hippie, grew up in the Motor City and he has an automotive core that he can't escape. I love that about Michael, his stacks of car magazines and intimate knowledge of motorcycle history. My only other reason for being a Tiger fan this month is Elmore Leonard. Sports fans don't have to be logical, just enthusiastic.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Love Letters

Nine year old boys seem to have some romantic appeal. The notes and letters are amusing. Another one appeared this week. I will type it rather than photograph it because the pencil has smudged and it will be more readable.
Dear Ray, I was lisning to Rily, well, however you spell his name
He said that you like Iris and I dident beleive him but now I do
yea I know your hoby is to be mean to girls
but now as before I don't like you
and don't ever follow me ever again
and why I gave you that neckalas is because I liked you
and I didn't want to let you go
but now I hate you.
But I still kind of like you.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Garter Rib Socks

"Are those for me?" Dave asked. I was knitting some socks that were not for him. But it sounded like a request to me so I made him some simple, manly socks. He likes them and wears them so much that he might need some more right away.

Yarn: Trekking XXL
Needles: US 1
Generic pattern

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Blog blahs? Dunno... I would not make a very good newspaper columnist as I would not be able to come up with subjects to write about on a regular basis. There are some finished knitting projects to photograph but two are gifts and I am waiting to present them before they appear on the blog.
I skipped Eye Candy Friday. I don't have a file full of spectacular photos and the linked together aspect of this blog event never really happened. So I will post great pictures when I can, Friday or not.
That's all for now. Back to the life of the unemployed, retired, stay-at-home parent. Cook, clean, walk, knit. It's not a bad deal.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Fresh Snow

After two Alaskan summers and a Mexican winter, it has been awhile since I have felt temperatures below 50 degrees. The clouds parted a couple of days ago, revealing fresh snow on nearby peaks. I haven't been able to capture any spectacular lighting effects so snapshots will have to do.