Wednesday, February 25, 2009

March? Already?

Where did the winter go? I want more snow, more rain, more overcast and cloudy days. But here it is, the end of February, and the sun is shining brightly. There's still snow on the ground, but it's melting fast. At least it's windy, which means that I can hear the four chimes I have placed around the house and yard. But I know what this means. It means summer is on the way.

And with summer comes heat. I don't do heat. So where do I move to? The high desert, of all places. At least bike riding season is fast approaching. And I don't mean a Schwinn, either.

I lived in Phoenix for three years (Hubster is from Scottsdale and used to love the "dry" heat of the desert). I finally came home one day, told him that I was going home to the Bay Area and hoped he would follow, packed my clothes, and left. He stayed behind to sell our house and pack it up; then I drove back to help him with the final details and get the hell out of there. That was back in 1994, I think. Then we moved to Sacramento (with no pool for seven years), finally buying what I thought was our dream home. Back to the Bay Area after that for two years, and now we're here. Supposedly, it doesn't get much hotter than the 80's (with a few really hot days) during the summer, but we'll see. At least I have A/C, so if things get rough, I can hide indoors. Sigh. I miss my pool and swimming every day. Maybe again some day...

In the meantime, I'm continuing to work on the house. It's looking and feeling more like a home with each passing day. I bought the most beautiful painting of an old Indian warrior at a local antique store. The way our recessed lighting is placed makes it look like the painting is hanging in a gallery; the wall he rests on is directly under one of the lights, and it illuminates the painting perfectly. His face is weathered from many battles and living a hard life on the plains. He has on a buffalo horn headdress and is gazing majestically. It was a true find. I love it when things like that happen. I also made friends with the shop owners (they've declared that we have to have dinner at each others' houses), so that was a lovely surprise. On arriving home, there were two people walking their dogs in front of our house. We talked for a few minutes, and the lady expressed a desire to see our house (she's always wondered what's inside). So we dragged them inside. It's that type of community - you see someone on the street who has admired the outside of your home, and you invite them inside without knowing who they are. She loved the house - it's very Arts and Crafts style - so now we've made some more friends. I'm trying to be nice and friendly to everybody because I know that everything I say and do will be broadcast all over town. What's odd is that it doesn't bother me at all. In fact, I find it strangely comforting. I rarely lock any of our doors at night and feel perfectly safe. The newspaper lists the crimes every week, and they're usually car accidents or people going to the medical clinic for a cut. It's absolutely amazing.

I keep finding new surprises about this house every day. For example, I just discovered that we have a central vacuum system. Now to find the hoses... The man from whom we purchased this palace, his sister lives in town and owns a couple of inns. She's coming by on Monday to pick up the furniture we don't want (it was left in the house for us - we're keeping some of it, like the two couches), so I'll ask her if she has any idea where the hose and nozzle are. That would be too cool to use something like that. The canister is in our downstairs bathroom, so I know it really exists.

My tarot room is coming along beautifully, and the shop owner has made a huge poster (as well as a small flyer for the local shop owners to post in their windows) with my ugly mug front and center. He also put me on the back cover of the local magazine advertising the fact that he's now offering that service. I found out that the magazine isn't all that local - it's distributed from San Diego to Santa Monica to Palm Springs. Holy shit! We're opening for business the second weekend in March. I have to sew some panels for a privacy screen, which means I have to unearth my sewing machine and try to remember how the fucker works. I also have a serger, but forget that. There's no way in hell I can remember how to use it, especially with the short timeline I have to work with. It will all come together, and I'm really looking forward to this. Talk about making new friends (unless the cards have something bad to say)...

No pictures today - I've just been busy knitting and studying my readings. My sweater is just about done, and I'm ready with my comments for the lady I'm test knitting it for whenever she's ready. Then it's back to socks. I'll be glad to work on them again, but it's been fun working on the sweater. I went to our local SnB meeting last week, and the ladies there are absolute gems. I'll be a regular participant in the group from now on. I've also been asked to help with the local quilt show, and I'm taking part in the annual Haunted Town we put on every Halloween. Meetings for that are starting soon. I'm really looking forward to scaring all the kids (and the adults, too). Talk about getting involved in the community! I've turned into a nice person. Shit.

Orders for the shop are going out tomorrow. I had to find all my wrapping paper (and still haven't found it all), as well as finding the rest of my artists' goods. I found a nice bookcase thing from Ikea (and here I swore I would never shop at that place) to hold all my stock, so I might order that in the next day or two. The nearest store is Burbank, which is about two hours away. I'd rather pay the shipping charges than drive over there. We'll see. Hubster may put the kabosh on the plan, since I need 10 of the things to hold all the stock. I've got four new artists who have just signed on, so that brings my total to around 100. I still can't believe it. Once I'm organized, I can get things listed just about immediately instead of making people wait a couple of weeks to see their work in the shop. Things are moving along beautifully, and I couldn't be happier. Thank you to everybody who wrote me with such nice things to say about getting this house. I don't know that I deserve it, but I'm sure as hell not giving it back.

Monday was Hubster's 42nd birthday, so we went to a local casino for dinner and a little gambling. He never wants to celebrate his birthday (I love celebrating mine and do everything short of taking out an ad in the newspaper to announce when it is), but I wanted to do something for him. Unfortunately, we arrived too late to go to one of the nice restaurants, so I went into the gift shop and bought this really cool, funky clock for the kitchen (they have something like four gift shops with different stuff in each one), and we wound up eating in the coffee shop for dinner. The food was really good, and he got prime rib for half of what we would have paid in the steakhouse there. I would have liked to eaten in the steakhouse, though - the ambience is so much nicer. Then we gambled a little, lost all our money, and headed back home. It was a nice evening, although I still owe him a cake. I think that will be the weekend project. I've never done high altitude baking (being over a mile up qualifies me for high altitude, methinks), so it will be interesting to see how it comes out. Speaking of baking/cooking/eating, we went off the hill last night to Bed, Bath, and Beyond to get a new portable grill (one of those you use in the kitchen). He not only bought me the grill (it's Calphalon and makes all kinds of stuff - I love it), but surprised me with a Food Saver. I love those things - they make freezing food a breeze. Since I'm trying to be Suzie Homemaker and Betty Crocker and keep my larder stocked, it will definitely come in handy. We had the old model, but this one does everything short of sealing your snatch shut (if I could fit it in there, it probably would do that, too). He spoils me so.

For those of you who noticed the "Sock Summit 2009" button on the left sidebar, yes... Yarny Goodness is going on the road. In yet another attempt at advertising, we're driving to the event and setting up a booth. If any of my artists are reading this, please get ready - I'll be asking you to send me as much stock as you possibly can so the booth is full. I figured that since I carry mostly sock knitting stuff, this would be the ideal location to "come out" at. Besides, I want to meet some of the teachers they're having. Being a vendor means that I can't take any classes, but that's okay. The last time I tried was with a well-known teacher, and I kept falling asleep in her class. Fortunately, she was an absolute doll and took extra pains with me. However, I don't want to go through that embarrassment again.

I should be getting lots of fun stuff from UPS today, so I'm looking forward to that. I'll fill you in on all that crap after it comes.

Before I go, I want to tell you about two extraordinary people and the difference they've made in my life. First is my Secret Pal from the SP13 swap. I don't know who she is yet (I'll find out very soon, though), and even though I had to pull out of the swap, my swap mom was kind enough to let her keep me to spoil. This lady has gone above and beyond, sending me lots of little packages with fantastic goodies inside. I can't wait to meet her so I can thank her properly. She came into my life at a time when I thought I was going insane and saved me. She's become a cherished friend, and I love her with all my heart. That's the thing with swaps - they're a crap shoot. Either you get a really good partner or one who sucks the big pipe. She falls into the former category. I consider her a dear friend - a lifetime friend - and I'll always keep her close to my heart. I know she reads my blog, so thank you, dear WP. I love you.

The other person whom I want to mention is my other dear friend, Sheryl. Sheryl lives in England, but that didn't stop us from becoming the best of friends. In fact, we're so close (I swear she's my long-lost sister) that she's flying all the way across the Big Pond to come visit me at the end of April for two weeks. I can't wait! I've got all kinds of fun things planned, as well as getting a lot of quality knitting time in. We want to sit on the deck under the stars , drink tea, knit, and gossip - among other things. I want to make her stay with us as special as I can and can't wait to show her the wonders of Southern California. Since I can't show her San Francisco, I'll make sure to include as many things down here which I think she might like. The main thing, though, is just being together. I know she reads my blog, too, so Sheryl - I love you, too, and can't wait until you step off that plane. I'm so glad we have this house and are able to give her a bedroom and bathroom all to herself on a floor separate from our bedroom. It's going to be delightful.

And on that note, I'm off to knit. Hubster is getting ready to take a nap in preparation for his meetings today, so I'll have a few hours of peace and quiet. He'll take Emma off to bed with him, so I'll be saved from her snoring, too.

It's amazing how noisy fat gazelles/pot roasts can be.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Still Buried

You know, every time we move, it just gets worse.

Take the shop, for example. Sales have been really slow, so I shut it down while we were going through the move. Now I'm beginning to get a bunch of orders. That's great - don't get me wrong - and I'm thrilled for the people who work with me, but all my stock is packed in huge wardrobe boxes. I managed to find some of it, but there's a ton of it still packed away. I'm going to work on that tomorrow and get the shop back in shape, but my new studio is filled with a bunch of other very large (and very full) boxes. I guess we accumulated a bunch of shit while we lived in Sacramento, so now I have to pay the price and unpack it all. We seem to get more and more shit every time we move, which translates into having to find room for it in a new house. I'm going to simplify and get rid of a lot of things so I don't have to deal with this again. It's a good thing I sold the T-Bird because there's hardly room in the garage for the truck and my bike. We never would have gotten two cars in there.

I've got the living room pretty much put together; the kitchen is finished other than a few things which I want to hang on the walls; the dining room is a mess; the bedrooms aren't even started on; the bathrooms are finished. I guess I'm making progress, but it's slow. I could work on the house a lot more than I am, but I have other things which need to be done as well. I may have this thing put together by the time our first year here is completed. Sigh.

We're also expecting a huge storm beginning late tonight and lasting through Tuesday, so I'm prepared with food in the pantry (and food which I have to cook in a few hours). If we lose power, refrigeration isn't a problem - we just open the door in the kitchen which leads outside (if the snow hasn't piled against it), and stick everything in the snow. Our fireplace heats things up, so we can sit in the living room and read. We have candles for light. I'm learning how to live in the snow, and I'm loving it (although my fingers are cracked wide open from the lack of humidity and the cold). Here are some pictures of the storm we had last week to give you an idea of what this storm will look like.


This is a carved eagle (with a chainsaw) which sits on our lower deck. It's actually carved from the tree which comes up through a hole in the deck, so it's not just sitting on top of something - it's part of the tree. We have a deck which runs around the house from the kitchen to the back of the house; then you go down a set of stairs to the lower deck (which is where the eagle and our table sit); then you go down another set of stairs to get down into the backyard.


This is looking out over the deck into the backyard.


These are the stairs which lead from the upper deck to the lower deck where the eagle sits. It would make a good slide at this point.


This is looking out into the backyard from the small deck which is outside our lower story (it's the home theater). There are stairs which lead into the backyard from this deck, too.


These are our table and chairs on the lower deck.


These are our barbecues which are outside the kitchen. It looks like I've planted mutant mushrooms. There's an enormous tree stump which comes up through a hole in the deck next to one of the BBQ's which acts as a cutting block. Very cool (cold at the moment).


This the front of the house right outside the front door. As I said in an earlier post, everybody up here names their houses. We're special - we even have the elevation posted.


This is looking out into the front yard. The walkway to the right leads from the front door to the garage and also to the driveway. Not today, though.


And finally, these are backlit icicles hanging from the upper deck down to the bottom deck. I thought they were gorgeous, so I made Hubster take a picture of them. In the daytime, they sparkle with all the colors of the rainbow - sort of like a really good diamond.

Emma loves to run around in the snow. She looks like a pudgy gazelle as she plows through the powder. Hubster and I bought those snow dishes to go sliding in the backyard, but our fat asses sank down into the snow and we didn't go anywhere. I managed to make it to the back fence by paddling with Emma right next to me, but then I had to hike back up the grade to the house. She was jumping by my side; when I toppled over and fell into the snow, she climbed on my chest and stood there. I could barely breathe, let alone move. Then she began to lick all the snow off my face. Great.

I've had a couple of accidents while up here. I was getting out of the truck and my foot hit the snow. Unfortunately, it slid, and I went shooting out of the truck while hanging on to the door handle. My ass hit the pavement while my back hit the steel on the door frame of the truck. It hurt - a lot. Then I fell down one of the sets of stairs today (we have four staircases - one goes to the lower level, one goes from the second story to the stairs which go down, one goes down into the living room from the second story, and one goes upstairs to the third story). I went down to the first story to the theater room. I'm a little sore, but it could have been worse. The carpeting is slippery, and my foot hit the edge of the step. Emma went nuclear - she thought I was dead and was licking me like crazy and butting me with her head, trying to get me up off the floor.

Speaking of Emma, she's eaten the corners off two of the bottom stair rails. We have to keep an eye on her. She's still in her chewing mode, and this house is made entirely of wood. It must be like a giant chew toy to her. That shit you spray on things that's supposed to keep her from chewing something doesn't work with her. She seems to like the flavor.

As for my tarot readings, I went into the shop where I'll be working yesterday to see how things are coming along. Robert (the owner) is so excited about this whole project that he's gone nuts. We went upstairs to my room so he could show me his progress. He's painted it a light apricot and has a table he made in the corner to hold my crystals. He's also making me a reading table and putting up a bunch of shelves. The two windows are being changed over to stained glass, and there's a Persian carpet on the floor. I'm making screens for one of the "walls"; he's making the other into an etched glass screen. It's going to be gorgeous. There will be ferns and other plants, an area for my incense, and everything I could want, including an outdoor patio with a table and chairs. I can read out there in the spring and fall; it might be a little too warm in the summer. In any event, I can go outside and have a smoke. I'm also going to sit on the front porch and play my flute between appointments. We get a lot of visitors from Los Angeles and Palm Springs, and they tend to spend a lot of money. I'm hoping this will be a busy enterprise for both of us. In any event, it will be fun. I'll be riding the Harley to the shop (it takes five minutes to get anywhere in town) with my flutes strapped to my back. Hubster is even taking bike riding lessons, so be prepared to hear that we've purchased another bike.

I got the loveliest package from Laura Neal as an honorable mention prize for a contest which I entered. She not only sent a gorgeous skein of yarn (buy her yarn, peeps!), but some candy and a Valentine's Day heart box full of candy. She's such a doll - thanks, Laura!

I also got a package from Karen of KaratStix. She sent more stock for the store, as well as a housewarming gift which she made for me. I can't tell you what that gift is because I'm hoping to sell them in the shop soon (you promised, Karen - no pressure here), but I can tell you that you're all going to go apeshit when you see what it is. Heh. Karen actually rendered me speechless, which as you all know is a very difficult thing to do. I never expected to receive such a thing. Thank you so much, Karen - I'll be writing you a letter later tonight.

I think I've bored you all enough for one night. I'm off to the kitchen to begin cooking. The Bay Area is being smacked hard with rain right now; our part of the storm is expected right after midnight. That gives me time to get my cooking done and get everything else we need within easy reach. Those of you who live in the snow all winter are probably laughing at me, but you have to remember that I'm a weather weenie. I've lived in temperate climates all my life and have never seen the seasons, let alone snow. I'm enjoying the hell out of it.

But I need to put on my down robe. I'm cold.