30 December 2008


We tend to the melodramatic introspection over here around this time of year -- all this re-evaluating of actions and priorities. I am reluctant to admit we are really that cliche, but there it is. We are self help 101.

So this year, we began to wonder about the internet. Have we allowed this 'stream' of information to become a flood? Are we really getting out of it what we think? And, in short, is this magic box with all its instant and its answers a joy? Or just noise?

Which led us to -- with no small amount of trepidation -- has the time come to go analog? (Cue dramatic bum, bum, BUM)

And then, with the weight of these wonderings hanging in the air, we left. And went to our neighbors' cocktail party. (You know, what else to do when you are getting pretentious, or curious, or dangerous, or whatever it is?) Only, when we came home, something very important had changed.

Our computer...died.

And we are left with our twinges of guilt: Did it hear us? Did we make it feel so unloved that it just skulked away?

Oh, sweet computer, come back. Come baaaaack!!!!! (in extra-dramatic slo-mo style)

(I will don trench coat and boom box if I need to, my sweet, sweet machine.)

The good news here is that it will come back. We'll be taking it in the first of the year for some extensive TLC. The bad news is it won't be well enough to come home for a while.

So it appears I will be on a blog vacation. But I can post at work, I guess (I suggest coyly, like I've never posted from work before), so I'll see you next week.

Happy New Year everyone!

And don't forget to kiss your computer. Tell it how much you love it.

26 December 2008

Gift Craft

To exploit the sewing skills freshly honed from my intro class, I thought I'd whip up some zippered pouches for the girls on my list. And two short days of sewing and cussing and tweaking and re-sewing later: viola! two pouches.

(I will master those damn zippers though. Soon they will be forced to acknowledge my mad, zipper-taming skills. Take that! wily zipper! I will not cower before your snarling teeth!)

Where was I?

Yes...number 1:


i (heart) pleats
pleats! I squee!

a bit like a disco

a zippered pouch, manufacted with guidance from this tutorial.
The snazzy pleat detail I borrowed from here.

And number 2:

like holly
looks a bit like holly

test drive

it's better than bad, it's wood

a boxy pouch in faux woodgrain!

And I am all ! about it. I had to resist !ing every word up there. (It's a lot of goodness for one short sentence.)

I thought the pleats would be my hands-down favorite. But, nope. I am sucker for the cube, I discover. And if, perhaps, you are as well, the tutorial is here. Full warning though: these will multiply like tribbles.

Give it a try. You'll see what I mean.

25 December 2008

Christmas, Circa 1960


Yeah, I know. It's like A Christmas Story. But real.
I love the blur of the mighty, present-unwrapping action arm.
Oh, and the cowboy hat. Of course, the cowboy hat.


Merry Christmas!

Happy feasting and family-ing!
Or just happy day off!

However it works out for you...enjoy.

All best,

24 December 2008

Last-Minute Elves


But we are -- finally, finally -- wrapped and ready to go.

Hope your evening is cozy and warm.

23 December 2008

Starlight, Starbright

mosaic8826631 copy
our illustrious tree topper
Beneath Holiday Stars!; Wallpaper #9 - Stary Night

My favorite part of Christmas? Can you guess?

22 December 2008




This looks like Lila as she waits for Christmas.

(Or, it would if I had her stocking made already.)

19 December 2008

For The Love Of December


There I go: prattling on about the stress, the finals, the nostalgia, the bittersweet, and I completely neglected to mention the good stuff December has given. So here goes.

Indie Sacramento (do you remember that forever ago? When I was all excited about the craft bazaar?) was wonderful fun. A little bit smaller than the previous year, and a little less rowdy (or maybe it's just that I showed up late). But excellent all the same. In fact, in ways, even better this year. Well curated and spot on.

These cool Christmas craft fairs always make me wish I had a shopping list full of people who loved cool handmade gifts. You know? Somehow, when I’m there, I feel like Rick and I are the only people in my real life who would appreciate the time, the special, the craft. And it seems wrong, really, to transfer these wares from the hands that lovingly made them into hands that think “oh, this?” (Have I underestimated my family? I hope so.)

So, I spoiled the shit out of myself.

I bought one skein of handspun, in a colorway called Valentine. And a super-sweet print that conjures for me all the soft joys of hanging laundry out to dry in Bologna. Don’t laugh. That’s one of my favorite memories of my six weeks in Italy. Kendra and I would stand on either side of the balcony to give her black pants a good lengthwise tug. Or else they'd – I don't know – become shorts, perhaps. And we'd pull the laundry line back and forth, clipping wet clothes or collecting dry ones and patting them into folds. It was one of the few real quiet times when we could gossip and share intrigues. (Also, I remember how pretty her underwear were. Is that a universal that I’ve missed out on? Am I the only woman in the world who clings to her uber-practical, uber-uninspiring cotton briefs?)

And – oh and this is a big one – I won something too. I never luck out when it comes to raffle prizes. But this time, not only did I win, I won the exact prize I was wishing for. Proof? I took only one picture at Indie Sacramento, and it was this:


Meet my new squishy bear. Yippee!

18 December 2008


Hunh. So that’s what breathing’s like. I feel like I have written my way through a marathon these last two weeks.

But it turns out, I miss it now. Now that I’m not signed up for the second half of the class next semester – now that I realize I’m looking at a hiatus rather than a holiday break – I am obsessively clinging to how exhilarating it was. To write papers again. To feel compelled to continually impress a professor who, I am very lucky to say, I respect immensely.

And when I turned in my final, and he asked me whether or not I’d be back next semester, I was struck that he looked (briefly) visibly disappointed I said no.

Yeah, that was good.

Because sometimes this half-hearted life in a cube makes you forget how smart you are. That all those distracted, half-cocked answers you give to questions you should know better how to answer happen because you are simply disinterested. And maybe a bit lazy.

Which, in a weird way, is comforting. Because it means you actually haven’t forgotten that some things in life are worthy of putting in time and effort. But rather that you generally don't.

Sorry. I know this isn’t very Christmas-y. No last minute craft turmoil. No wrapped packages or pretty bows.

But still about a gift, I suppose. Nonetheless.

15 December 2008


In the throes of finals here. Will check in mid-week.

11 December 2008

Homework Haiku

The Civil War lives,
menacing specter in class --
paper due today.

I will add, unnecessarily, that it is not quite finished.

Um. Yet.

(Uff. My energy wanes faster than the semester does.)

10 December 2008



Call it defacing property. Call it blight. Call it an urban scourge.

But I have a soft spot for graffiti.

Especially when it's sweet.

09 December 2008

This Is Not A Motto

“Be regular and orderly in your life
so that you may be violent and original in your work.”

Gustave Flaubert

I haven't decided yet whether this is an elaborate justification for cubicle life. Or a recipe for greatness.

08 December 2008


yellow leaves at twilight


This weekend was all soft violet blue and golden.

And today? There is rain.


06 December 2008

One. Day. Only.

Good morning, Saturday. I see you will be a day full of goodness. Not only do you have in store for me the mother of this semester's sewing labs (um, did I ever mention I've been taking a sewing class this semester?), but you also promise all the joy and delights of Sacramento's second annual indie craft bazaar.

I can hardly wait!

So, for those of you who are nearby, get off your duff and go already!

Oh, I kid. -- Mostly.

But do go if you're able. And I'm not saying that because I'm selling anything at the bazaar. Rather because I am so darn freaking thrilled that things like this are finally happening in my home town. So I'm anxious to drum up support for it; I would love to see this bazaar thrive. And maybe even, as has been rumored, become a monthly event.

How rad would that be? Very.

05 December 2008


An ode to sock yarn:


Misti Alpaca Hand Paint Sock Yarn
color 03
Birds in Paradise

What do I love most about it? (Besides everything, I mean)

Giddy, unabashed color.


I love how, wound, it is a rainbow spectrum of plaid.


My new thing, it seems, is to head to the LYS without a plan, and just pick up whatever strikes my fancy. And here's how it's worked out for me:

I've been quite the active yarn hoarder this Fall. And I want my needles in all of it. All at once.

04 December 2008

Making Christmas

mosaic4422220 copy

red pink green by maryse ro
Untitled by mms0131
crochet poinsettia by me

Four poinsettias in. Only one to go.

I'm not sure I'll make it through the fairy-tale bunting project this year. It's still early, I know. Going by how quickly December 2nd has become December 4th, and accounting for that pesky little 'objects in motion' law...I may find I'm hard-pressed for time when it comes to the actual bunting part.

That's alright. Truth is, I'd miss my gussied-up, poinsettia-bedecked nightstand if I did finish on time.

So, win win for me. No matter how the making goes.

03 December 2008


I love road trips. I love the long hours in the car with nothing but good company, gas-station snacks, and the view.

Is it strange to say it quite that way? Maybe. So let's be clear: I don't enjoy the knee cramps, the 'saddle sores,' or the traffic. Just the long aimless hours to simply be. To talk about stuff, nothing, and everything. Or just be quiet and look.

I am always struck by how different each state is. How they are each almost entire countries of their own. There may be a bit of blending at the edges, but each has its own landscape, character, feel.

I have driven cross country four or five times. Never the northernmost or southernmost routes, but that is an oversight I hope to correct. Someday. I have taken the train across, round trip. And, in some distant future, I hope to do it by bike. Even if only one direction.

I have flown too, of course. But it's never the same. I never arrive at my destination feeling like I've actually gone anywhere. Only that I'm seeing new parts of the town where I live. Visiting the friends that live on the fringes of the city limits.

All this to say: the view from the car on our trip to Oregon last week was amazing, as always. And it felt like an end in itself. A distinct, complete, and happy part of the entire break.

Her majesty the mountain looked radiant as ever on our way up.

towering over the freeway

And downright regal on our way back.


shasta sky

Lest I seem mountain obsessed, the clouds put on a pretty impressive show too.


gold farm

Especially at night.

fire and water

02 December 2008

On Little Cat Feet

The fog has crept in. It’s been here all week.

I hope it stays put. There is something magical about looking out the window into a cocoon of dew.

Maybe less so on those days when you have to go out and drive in it.

But magical nonetheless. For its power to make everything around you more snuggly. For the extra glow it gives streetlamps and Christmas lights. For its demand that you bundle up in cozy handknit scarves and hats.

Magical also for the way it makes me think of an assembly I went to in seventh grade. The school had invited actors to recite monologues and poetry. I think they were trying to sell us on the arts -- convince us that the arts were cool.

What I remember is one actor in particular. He had a Shakespearean voice and Firebird feet. He tiptoed and glided about, and performed for us, with his dynamic range of boom to whisper, a short poem on cats and fog.

When I sit still and really think about it, I can still hear him. I can still feel my amazement at his grace.

I am constantly tempted to attribute this poem to e.e. cummings, and I attribute that particular moment as the very time and place in time my love of cummings was born.

But it's not, is it? It's Carl Sandburg instead.

(Funny memories. Cradled in a fog all their own.)

01 December 2008

My Grandma


Actually, she is Rick’s grandma. But I am adopting her. Or, perhaps more accurately, appropriating her. (sorry Rick) Because she is full of magic and spunk.

Also because she makes a very fetching blonde. Which you can plainly see – even in a cell-phone-quality picture.

What you can’t see here is the pink lace bustier she presented to us moments later. The one that she wears when she becomes “Elvira.” Along with the blonde wig, that is.

This is the newest in the string of alter egos she adopts for the benefit of the kitchen band she’s part of. And when she's not playing funny to the emcee's straight-man routine, I think she plays the washboard. (Her mother, she bragged, used to play the saw. No small feat, I gather.)

Ah! To be 93...

P.S. Thanksgiving was lovely over here. I hope yours was too.

27 November 2008

Once Upon A Thanksgiving, I Think

happy thanksgiving easter bunny

There's a lot going on in this picture, I know.

I mean, besides the out-of-focus bit. (But I find that charming, actually. The fact that such a staged photo should end up looking so spontaneously taken. Like the moment was rushed and unexpected.)

That is plainly an Easter lily back there. And I am wearing what I will casually pretend was my Halloween costume. (Though, if you are pressing me for honesty, I am obliged to admit that I wore the Snow White dress my mom made for me nearly every day.)

But: I do see mums in that wheelbarrow. And a pheasant -- or possibly turkey -- figurine hanging out in there too, so I'm calling Thanksgiving. And I'm calling it good.

(I miss my grandma's backyard. It was a place of beauty.)

Which brings me to: Happy Thanksgiving!

Travel safely. Eat well.

See you later. xo.

26 November 2008

The Day Before Is A Day Of Yearning

The nicest Thanksgiving I have ever had was my first in Seattle. Rick and I had just moved there the month before, and we knew no one. No one except for the nice people at Victrola coffeehouse. And them only to the extent that you can learn about someone while they pour your coffee. You know, “oh, you’re from somewhere else too,” “oh, you have a kid,” “oh, we graduated from the same college” – small stuff like that. Little nice things that get stuffed into collections of three minutes at a time.

Someone behind the counter invited us to her house for Thanksgiving that year. We were stunned and grateful and too lonely to say no. We showed up with nothing but our sparkling wit. (Actually, no. We showed up with just nothing. We must have looked so bedraggled and worn standing there on that doorstep, waiting for the door to open. More like lost children than engaging guests.)

I have never in my whole life been so warmly received.

Nearly the entire Victrola staff was there. Also, nearly the entire family of our host. And the most charming little boy I have ever had the pleasure to meet.

There were four or so tables set up for everyone. White tablecloths. Wine glasses. Cranberries tossed in sugar. Pumpkin pies baked with honey. And after all the eating was done, we built a fort and pretended to be – I don’t quite remember…animals? cowboys?

It’s one of those sepia-toned, Vaseline-on-the-lens memories I keep. Of how Thanksgiving should feel. And I bring it up now because I am feeling nostalgic and petulant.

Because I am filled with the urge to clean my house; build a tent made of sheets in the living room; eat turkey sandwiches while perched on big, squishy pillows piled on the floor; run my fork lazily through a pumpkin cheesecake; and fill the room with the scent of apples baking in cinnamon and clove.

Instead, this year will be full of car trips and family, bustling and strangers, and maybe even snow. I am excited for it. I am happy about going to grandma’s. Happy to potluck with the people who fuss over and care for her everyday, like Rick and I would if she were near. Happy to bake a chocolate zucchini cake to share. Happy to drive and to chatter and to hug hello. But I feel shy and kind of sad to trudge off into that world outside my front door.

Make warm. Make warm. Make warm. It pulses in my head. And it seems to be all I want to do: me, Rick, and Lila shut up snugly inside.

But maybe I’ve got it all wrong. Maybe warm isn’t something you make on your own. Maybe it’s something you give. And receive.

I hope so. I hope that is the lesson of Thanksgivings past.

25 November 2008

What I Learned Today

Pears are related to roses.

24 November 2008

More Soft And More Yellow

Because it is Monday. Because it is November.

22 November 2008


Impossibly Red

My geranium.

Looking impossibly lovely in the fog.

21 November 2008

Just Checking In

Hello there.

Can you tell I had a paper due this week?

I've slept now, at least. And that is a start.

Tired is all I've talked about all week. Unless you want to throw in all the jabbering about pre-Civil War American history. If you include that, this week has been full.

There are other things going on around here, of course. Outside of pre-Civil War America. There are cellos and books and bellydancing. Fabric for Christmas projects. And yarn. Lots of yarn.

They are coming up. They will be here soon.

But for now, just hello. Hello and a squirrel.

Happy Friday.

18 November 2008

Yarn Lust


Yarn Place
45% Tencel, 55% Merino
3100 yards (!)

I have no idea yet what it will be when it grows up. But I couldn't possibly have left the LYS without it.

15 November 2008

Kitchen Chiaroscuro

green eggs:


and ruby pomegranate:


14 November 2008

In Unexpected Places

By now, my increasing love of the semicolon is well documented. I have waxed poetic (or pitifully attempted to); I have harangued (I link despite my ardent desire to put that one behind me).

Though you might reasonably imagine this two-part collection of words would suffice, I cannot resist just these few more:

Click here to read a charming account of a semicolon sighting.

(Does my semicolon infatuation verge on obsession now? Just wondering...)

13 November 2008

Visions Of Sugarplums

(Or, The Mother Of All Christmas Craft Lists)

I am not, in general, a list-making person. First, I am nowhere near that organized in my approach to things. Second, I hide the first by teasing that making a list takes as much time as actually completing the items on said list.

It is rather a flimsy argument. But I cling to it with gusto.

Bucking this trend, I present a to you list. But before you send your congratulatory, welcome-to-the-world-of-people-who-get-things-done emails, I interject a cautionary disclaimer: this list was Rick's idea. This morning, as he patiently clicked links in what must be the twelfth or so 'great ideas for Christmas' email I've sent him, he paused and sweetly suggested I compile all these flashes of brilliance in one place.

I think what he was (very gently) trying to get at is that I have rounded up an awful lot of these crafty suggestions. Maybe if I saw them all in list form, I might feel appropriately daunted and suddenly emerge from this experience with revised, more-realistic expectations.

Were that to happen, I would think myself very clever. But I have a sneaking suspicion that reason will not win out in the end. At least not here, not now. And that I will recklessly regard what follows as a strict to-do list. Because crafters have very big hopes.

That, I'm afraid, is just how it is.

But I will try to be sensible...

Holiday To-Dream List
(see, that's better; right?)
Too much?

Um, yeah. Okay. I concede.

Which doesn't mean that I won't try to cross as many off my list as I can. I will just try not to panic about all those I won't have time to get to.

Because I'm like that. With the panic, I mean. Or: making frenzy -- whatever you want to call it.

ETA: Can you think of more? Let me know.

12 November 2008

Full Of Thought And Care

I am often too impatient in my process of making to remember that the truly special things are created in layers, one careful detail upon another.

Here's to perspective. Here's to taking time.


(for the finished versions, click here, here, and here.)

10 November 2008

Open Door


If you are a dreamer, come in,
If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar,
A hope-er, a pray-er, a magic bean buyer…
If you’re a pretender, come sit by my fire
For we have some flax-golden tales to spin.
Come in!
Come in!

-Shel Silverstein, Where the Sidewalk Ends


At lunch today in one of the conference rooms I overheard a guitarist and a cellist rehearsing. Which is an extraordinary thing enough in itself; I work in an office with cubicles and TPS reports. But it struck me especially because Rick has a yearning to take up guitar (again). And I have a long-standing love affair with the cello. It just never occurred to me to put them together.

So, if I needed permission – if I were waiting for a sign – this is it, I guess.

Yes to yellow. Yes to cellos. Yes to dreams. Yes to aspirations.

I welcome you all.

Come in!
Come in!

09 November 2008

Our Home In The Trees


Tree House

A tree house, a free house,
A secret you and me house,
A high up in the leafy branches
Cozy as can be house.

A street house, a neat house,
Be sure and wipe your feet house
Is not my kind of house at all --
Let's go live in a tree house.

-Shel Silverstein

(I am quieted by the gentle splendor of these gardens. And by the meandering pace of my home on a Sunday.)

08 November 2008

Me & Him


So you haven't got a drum, just beat your belly.
So I haven't got a horn -- I'll play my nose.
So we haven't got any cymbals --
We'll just slap our hands together,
And though there may be orchestras
That sound a little better
With their fancy shiny instruments
That cost an awful lot --
Hey, we're making music twice as good
By playing what we've got!

Poem by Shel Silverstein.

07 November 2008

But I Don't Know If I'm The Oak Or The Rose

my sister, a long time ago

The Oak and The Rose

An oak tree and a rosebush grew,
Young and green together,
Talking the talk of growing things --
Wind and water and weather.
And while the rosebush sweetly bloomed
The oak tree grew so high
That now it spoke of newer things --
Eagles, mountain peaks and sky.
"I guess you think you're pretty great,"
The rose was heard to cry,
Screaming as loud as it possibly could
To the treetop in the sky.
"And you have no time for flower talk,
Now that you've grown so tall."
"It's not so much that I've grown," said the tree,
"It's just that you've stayed so small."

-Shel Silverstein, from A Light in the Attic

(My sister and I are feuding now. Which thoroughly sucks.)

06 November 2008

The Bridge To Somewhere

I don’t quite know why, but this morning I woke up thinking about Shel Silverstein. I thought today would be just the day to share a silly little poem with everyone. But I’ve been flipping through the pages of A Light in the Attic and Where the Sidewalk Ends all morning, and I haven’t found a silly poem yet.

So I have decided two things:
  1. This week will be Shel Silverstein week over here on odd pear. The poems I pick will relate to what's actually going on in my life, but the words will be all Shel's.

  2. I hadn’t intended to be political today, but sometimes things just find you. So I hope you are either equally inspired by Tuesday’s results or feeling particularly gracious. In both cases, thank you for indulging me.
I dedicate this first entry to all the grassroots efforts spawned or invigorated by Obama’s candidacy. We are not at the finish line, but rather the beginning.
This Bridge

This bridge will only take you halfway there
To those mysterious lands you long to see:
Through gypsy camps and swirling Arab fairs
And moonlit woods where unicorns run free.
So come and walk awhile with me and share
The twisting trails and wondrous worlds I’ve known.
But this bridge will only take you halfway there –
The last few steps you’ll have to take alone.
Obama can only do so much by himself. We all have to take our own steps to make it happen.

Change the world? Yes we can.

05 November 2008

The Sanity Project

Phew! It’s over.

Which is a fact that is only slowly sinking in. And mostly because I am just too exhausted to comprehend it. Is anyone else tired too? Feeling like the last year was actually much longer? Like a thousand lifetimes were packed into these last few months?

I had no idea I’ve been so obsessed with the process. But here I am: elated (obviously), emotionally tender, inhaling and exhaling deeply for no apparent reason, and in serious need of hibernation a nap.

But I am here to report that the strain of the last week has yielded a new coping mechanism: sewing. Because sometimes knitting is too quiet to drown out all the head noise. You know? But the good, gentle hum of the sewing machine? Well, that can make everything right again.

So, maybe a little inspired by the rain, I made a frog. Or -- I don't know -- maybe more of a tadpole. If, that is, by tadpole you mean fully formed adult frog with no stuffing (remember: very tired over here).

Henrietta VandenFrog

Anyway, her name is Henrietta. She is full of happy and sass. (Someday soon full of beans too.) And I am already quite taken with her.


04 November 2008

Moments: The Small Kind

It may be true that a person is defined by the size of his dreams. But it is equally true, I think, that his life is nonetheless measured by small moments. The Monday - Fridays, birthdays, anniversaries, lost teeth, skinned knees, pots of tea, bowls of soup. The certainty of these moments offers comfort. And since it is to all of those moments and that sort of comfort I dedicate this blog, I wanted to share these pictures with you.

And this one, my favorite:

(My heart screams when I see these worn-out shoes. And I can't help but think "Yes. This is the man. The one I want to have work for me." You know? Soles like that make me think he really will.)

They were all taken by Callie Shell during the primaries. She has a wonderful eye for the small and the quiet. There are several others, of course, and all worth a look. On this site she's included brief captions about how and when each picture was taken, making the experience of viewing that much richer.

But these just speak to me. With or without context. Maybe a little because I'm curious about the lives of people with very big dreams. Maybe because I have a voyeur's hunger to know what they're really like when the spotlights are turned away.

Or maybe it's just that I'm tickled to discover their small moments look very much like my own.

03 November 2008

The Most Wonderful Time Of Year

warts and all


for pretty

orange, purple, green


I have watched it happen slowly. But now, it is raining. And the stalls at the farmer’s market have gone purple and gold, dark green and white. And I get to show up an hour later. But the clock still tells me I’m right on time.

What a lovely coincidence, rain and standard time all on the same weekend. I feel like I spent that extra hour a thousand times yesterday. Sleeping in, meandering through stalls of flowers and produce, lingering over breakfast, laughing, sewing, napping, gulping warm cider. I took pictures, stitched froggy beanbags, and crocheted poinsettias until it felt late. And then, it turned out, it wasn’t late at all. So I enjoyed myself some more.


This marks it. My conversion is complete. You can have all your July Fourths and New Years. Christmases, Easters, and birthdays. Even Halloweens and Thanksgivings too.

My new idea of the perfect holiday? The end of daylight savings time. For the simple joy of those extra sixty minutes. And all the possibility they bring.