Wednesday, December 26, 2007


Here are two Christmas gifts I made up for friends.

An organic cotton teeshirt with a Dover Kells design on the front for my favorite 12-year old almost-a-man person.

Photobucket Photobucket

And a cotton tote with another Dover Kells design sewn on the front for my friend/the mom of the above.


I had stenciled a design onto the organic teeshirt (twice), but I wasn't happy with it. I washed the fabric paint out as well as possible, and because of time restraints, I ended up transferring the bird design over it.

The Madonna graphic is another Dover black/white graphic that I colored in via PhotoShop, matching the colors to the original Kells page.

For years I've been collecting books of graphics, many of them historic or at least antique and out of copyright protection. I find older drawings more fun and warmer than much of our modern stuff. Old drawings like this:


Not satisfied with Iron-On Transfer graphics (too chemical and flimsy), I'm experimenting with stencils and beginner's silkscreening methods. Fabric paint is nontoxic and has more staying power than the Iron-Ons. Stencilling is very direct and straightforward for blocky graphics but for detailed things like the faerie pigs up above, I want to silkscreen to catch all the fine lines. There are heavy chemicals involved in silkscreen but only once and then you have your template forever.

A film recommendation: Rented "Once" and liked it very much. Some of the music is quite haunting and can be found on the film website:

I like simple stories with lots of open meanings and this one sure fills the bill.

Friday, December 21, 2007


No postings for ages, but I'm dealing with a loved one's drug addiction. Anyone who has gone through this knows it is like a living death. You live from day to day; sometimes from hour to hour. You do what you can while watching someone to whom you've given your heart spiral down, down, down. They are oblivious to the fact that those around them who love and care are also getting dragged through the misery, and cleaning up after them. You just wait and try and pray and hope.

For those who haven't heard, young folks are into this new cannabis thing; they cook cannabis into milk or butter or olive oil and when ingested, it is superstrong and the effects last for a full day (at least). The comedown is horrible and lasts for days. Even police officers I've spoken to haven't heard of this yet, but it's all over the Internet. Why aren't these kids in Chemistry Club? Why are they killing off their brain cells? Who knows? This is not the dope of the 1960s or 70s. This is Superweed and it is BAD.

A big clue for the suspicious is that after cooking up this brew, the house stinks of burning plastic for days. Phew. The effects are so strong that the ingesters may nod out.

To happier matters:

Before posting this, I checked out my favorite blogs--the Wandering Scribe at:

then a Scottish artist at:

and Jane Underwood's "My Great Breast Cancer Adventure" blog at:

Now it's time for me to get started on my new project for Christmas, a patchwork book for the little ones in my life.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007


I am only one, but I am one. I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do.

-Edward Everett Hale

No posting for some time. I've been keeping body and soul together while dealing with some very nasty stuff.

I type this with one hand, my left wrapped like a giant Q-tip after carpal tunnel surgery yesterday. I hit the wall last July when reassigned to handle cash and lots of small credit card receipts at my job. Shooting, electric-like pains shot up my arms. Amazingly, my job tasks have gotten pettier and pettier, thanks to a manager who dislikes me and my "tell it like it is" style. Her "everything is fine" style drives us all nuts, and the only reason our office runs so well is due to her extremely competent and devoted employees who work around said manager.

While away from the job for a few months 0n Workers' Comp, I'll expand my creative spirit as much as possible (one-handedly). Once my left wrist heals, I'll have surgery on the right. More soon.

Monday, October 15, 2007



Did you know that October 15th is Blog Action Day ?On October 15th, bloggers around the web will unite to put a single important issue on everyone’s mind - the environment. Every blogger will post about the environment in their own way and relating to their own topic. Our aim is to get everyone talking towards a better future.


The new generation is full of recyclers extraordinaire. Craftzine, Readymade, Craftmafia, upcycling, etc. It's exciting. A whole new Craft Revolution is on the rise to fight America's mindless consumerism. Craft on, young people, craft on.

And now to my favorite craft topic:

To my old fashioned mind, the most sustainable textile of all is wool. Cotton requires tons of water and chemicals to cultivate and process. Polyester/acrylics--yuck. Hemp--too rough for clothing. Linen is wonderful, but not warm. And when the cold and damp comes in, nothing keeps a body warm, even when wet, like wool. Wool is magic; it is true alchemy: the fleece of a not-too-bright animal being shorn, spun and knitted or woven up to cover us naked animals. When a woolen garment is worn out, you can cut it up and make it into a rug. You can cut and patchwork it into a quilt filling. You can probably even compost it (my next research project).

Working with wool has kept me going during the past few difficult months. Washing it in a great Australian moth-fighting soap called Kookaburra Woolwash (smells terrific), felting it, knitting it. There's a feeling to wool, an animal warmth that I don't get from anything else. And now that it's getting chilly, I can get out my favorite woolen goodies and wrap them around me again.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


More family woes. God, all I want is a quiet little life with enough money to live comfortably and craft my little heart out.

My ex-husband came into town and was very helpful and supportive through these ups and downs. After years of battles over child custody and support, liens on his accounts, family deaths and betrayals, etc., I was able to again see the man I married 35 years ago. A nice man, after all. I felt vindicated.

Now nearing 60, I guess he's finally realizing that family really is more important than money. Family (besides words, as Beckett put it) is all we have. The struggle is not finished but overall, things are better.

I am determined to get Granny Fankle going as soon as possible, if only for my own sanity.

p.s. I postponed jury duty, haven't received authorization for medical treatment yet from the rinky-dink medical service used by my office, but I did pass the promotion test--in the top 10. There may be some hope yet.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


Doesn't it seem like sometimes the Fates conspire against us? Or as current parlance goes: "It's the universe telling you not to do something."

In the next week, I have a 3-1/2 hour promotion test, possible jury duty and possible medical treatments, all on the same day, maybe at the same time. Add to it my home situation is in chaos and the job situation up in the air. I feel like I'm surfing; what wave is coming next? I'll be making some decisions.

On the plus side, I finished reading the last Harry Potter (so-so) and have heard a rumor that Rowling is now writing a detective novel. I hope it's set in Edinburgh where she lives and where I would love to live. I've visited twice (not during Fringe or Hogmany) and fell in love immediately with the stone city, the coolest castle in the world, the city of Jekyl and Hyde, of Rebus and closes and men walking around in sexy kilts.

A city where, as my son put it, everyone looks like me and my relatives.

In 2000, I saw flats for sale at around $40,000. Since then, prices have gone up to San Francisco levels. It's ironic that a city that was undeveloped for decades because of its poverty has retained its charm and wonder and is now some of the most high-priced property in the world.

Kilts are actually Irish but the more I delve into Scots-Irish history, the more entwined the two countries are. For centuries, Celts have gone back and forth and have almost created a new sub-nationality.

Here's a "Millineum Kilt" which is unisex and rainbow-like (who needs clans?)

I doubt any Scot would be caught dead in anything this flashy but it looks like fun.

Sunday, August 12, 2007


For loved ones who haven't seen LB for awhile, here they are:

We did a bubble bath this morning with a Lush bubble bomb. The kids loved it and afterwards, because Daddy was a little whiffy, he took a soak too. Then they went off to the museum and I took a nap.

Thursday, August 09, 2007


I'm looking forward to seeing Stardust soon; it opens this weekend. I'm a Neil Gaiman fan and tried to read the book, but it started out too slowly to keep my interest. Witches, pirates, princess, etc. I hope there are a few fairies or trolls in it. I'll take my 12-year old buddy if his mom approves.

I'm reading Paula Poundstone's book with the long strange title and it's funny in her way. She shows some wit and lots of wisdom about raising kids. Show business hasn't seemed to have affected her one bit, much to her credit. After reading her book and thought processes, I'm beginning to think like her. Kind of scary.

I love listening to her on NPR's Wait Wait, Don't Tell Me. I mean, Carl Castle and Paula Poundstone on the same show--fabulous. What more could you want on a Saturday morning while you're cleaning house?

My hands still hurt and not knitting is making me crazy. Maybe I'll try with really big knitting needles. It's the little tiny stuff that makes my hands numb and tingly and sends the pain shooting up my arm. I've done a little felting at home and want to get new photos of Los Bebes up, but after sitting at a computer all day, I don't have the heart for it at home. For fans of Los Bebes, I'll try.

Monday, August 06, 2007


On July 10th, while counting out dozens of dollar bills (not mine), I experienced sharp shooting pains up my fingers and wrists. Went to my supervisor who sent me to the Civil Service Clinic where my doctor looks like Jed Clampett and most of the staff looks like they just got out of prison (very visible tattoos, piercings, signs of past living rough). Our Civil Service always goes with the lowest bidders.

The dollar-bill counting was part of a "re-assignment" of work duties, but after 3 days, the 4-year-long (since I've been in this office) moderate numbness and ache in my hands/wrists turned into sharp pain and total numbness in the fingers. My supervisor asked me why I didn't complain officially before. I told her I was raised as an Irish Presbyterian. The supervisor didn't get it, but a fellow Irish Presbyterian coworker in our office did; she told the story of how proud her aunt was for having a heart attack at the bus stop and walking home before she called the ambulance. Hard to explain this stoicism and denial of physical limitations. It's bred in the bone, I think.

I've been going to physical therapy three times a week for the 15-20 minute ice torture, heat treatments, electrodes, stretches and exercises. I wear wrist braces day and night. I always thought these wrist braces were silly, but they do help by immobilizing your wrist movement. The problem is I feel like a grizzly bear with them on, lumbering around knocking things over. For the occasional moments of feeling a bit of sensation in my fingertips again, it's been worth it.

Add to this my grown son moving back in with me in my tiny house while he completes his externship as a phlebotomist and other family/neighborhood flutters, and I've been wiped out. I still have the grandkids on weekends also and I love them dearly, but the one-year old is teething and suddenly burst into writhing pain and disbelief, accompanied by screams and flailing of strong not-so-little fists and feet.

Also have gone to an acupuncturist, which a very sweet friend recommended and even helped pay for since insurance doesn't cover it. The acupuncturist sees the problem going up my arms to my upper shoulders. Working where I do, it's a miracle, everyone here isn't sick or injured.

I'm told that in a few weeks, I'll probably get the "nerve damage tests" which are about as painful as they sound, according to coworkers who have had them before. I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.

I've been assigned back to my old duties, answering phones, sorting and processing mail, and other misc office duties for now. The pain doesn't get any worse, but healing is slow.

Thursday, August 02, 2007


I haven't blogged for awhile and will explain that later. Thought it wouldn't make a difference, but two friends who lived out of the country told me they enjoyed the blog and kept up with things through reading it. My friends are back in the USA but far away, so I'll soldier on.

My biggest recent thrill occurred while walking to work after a physical therapy appointment (ice torture) and approaching McKinley St on Bancroft in Berkeley, I came across a camel, standing on the sidewalk near an animal trailer. Looking into the trailer I spotted a miniature horse, about 3-1/2 feet tall. The camel was about 6 feet tall, at the humps. A camel in Berkeley.

Okay, here's a photo:

This is the only photo I could find of Kazzy the camel on the Lyon Farm website. She was terribly sweet and nuzzled me like a dog when I cooed to her.

Turning around from Kazzy's kisses, I saw a parking enforcement officer who had stopped her car in the middle of the street and was pointing open-mouthed, saying, "Is that a camel?" So we are witnesses for one another. An elderly neighbor came over and asked Kazzy's human, "Is she moving in to the neighborhood?"

Kazzy was accompanied by her humans as well as her mini-horse friend. They were all en route to Alta Bates Hospital to do some fun animal therapy with kids who need incentive to reach, stroke, and jump up and down in joy at seeing these lovely animals.

I hope they enjoy these creatures as much as we all did.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


Unfortunately, family/health/work issues have all hit me at once, so no blogging for a while.

I'm still crafting though and will continue later, possibly in a new craftier blog.

Saturday, June 23, 2007


"Art is the enemy of the routine, the mechanical and the humdrum. It stops us in our tracks with a high voltage jolt of disturbance; it reminds us of what humanity can do beyond the daily grind. It takes us places we had never dreamed of going; it makes us look again at what we had taken for granted."
- Simon Schama

Last week I received my advance-order of Historian Simon Schama's Power of Art from BBC America, and have been enjoying the episodes on David, Rembrandt, Turner, Caravaggio, Picasso, Bernini, Rothko and Van Gogh. Below is a photo of Schama on the left, with Andy Serkis who plays Van Gogh on the right.

Schama has the gift of storytelling, and this series takes it to the max with some re-enactment. But what I am in love with is the language of Schama's scripts. Our English language is always in flux, changing and growing and shrinking. Schama uses language as a painter uses color and brushes to enchant our imaginations and attention. He is a master.

On YouTube, there's an hour-long lecture by him re: his book Rough Crossings: Britain, the Slaves and the American Revolution given at Google in Mountain View:

The P of A series is also showing on KQED Channel 9 in the Bay Area at 9pm on Mondays. Check it out.

There is also a C BBC take-off on YouTube of Schama in which it seems he participated, at least vocally: Simon Schama and the Power Rangers of Art

Americans find Brit humor pretty goofy, but I love it. It shows the Brits still know how to laugh at themselves, unlike us Yanks.

Meanwhile, I've let the laundry pile up and am struggling with the last chapter of my novella. I need to make that last chapter as finished as the first, and that is not easy. I found my original first draft written 7 years ago and it is still nearly word for word with refinement. But the ending, the ending must be changed almost completely.

Sunday, June 17, 2007


After spending millenia cleaning up, how else would women make graffiti?

Here is a tutorial put out by a group calling themselves Knitta who make colorful, cozy and removable/replacable wraps for urban objects:

Here are examples on monorail pillars, parking meters, ambulance antennae and even on a part of the Great Wall of China.


A photo of my Dad who would be 97 this year. This photo was taken in the 1930s. Born of sharecroppers, joined the Navy in WWII and, after a wartime marriage, settled in San Francisco.
Happy Father's Day.

Friday, June 15, 2007


No posting for some time because I've been wrestling with a conundrum. It's my sixth year working at my current City job and I'm well aware I've never lasted longer than six years at any 9 to 5 job.

By the sixth year, it becomes clear that I have no interest in, or even conception of, office politics; that I resist change (especially at the expense of quality); and I'd rather be somewhere else. I've tried transferring out of my present department at least three times, but there's been no transfer spot for me. Not even at my beloved library, where I'd happily shelve books all day if they'd only let me.

I know I can be hard to get along with, have a bizarre sense of humor, and know so many trivial things from 50 years of compulsive reading that people think I'm a know-it-all.

A friend once told me she has her own business because she can't work for anyone else. She also doesn't support herself from her business; she has rental property and an undeclared side thing going on that really pays her bills.

A coworker put it well: this is a "get-by job". You come in, do your work and just get by. No risk, excitement, or fun.

My excuses are many: Too tired after putting in 8+1 hours a day to do anything else when I get home except the minimum, too busy with my family, too this and too that.

I comb arty neighborhoods for possible studio space. I've even rented space twice but found I never went there to do creative work. Just too tired, etc., etc., etc.

Don't wait too long, I hear a voice inside, railing me. I've lost friends younger than I am now to cancer, heart attack, and stroke.

To be continued....

Monday, May 28, 2007


I just caught a mention on a craft blog that there's a new indie film coming out about the hand-crafting revolution. It's called Handmade Nation and the filmmakers are Micaela O'Herlihy and Faythe Levine. You can see a preview here:

I notice most of the interviewees are of the younger persuasion. I hope there will be more of us Golden Girls in the completed film. We haven't all been sitting back quiet and passive; there were the civil rights, feminist and peace movements in our day, and many of us have been making our own stuff for ages, out of necessity. Who else taught these young whipper-snappers to shop in thrift stores and to use a sewing machine?

Kidding aside, I am SO excited about this film. I think it will be great fun and spread the word and ideas for more crafts and more DIYing. I'm proud to bits of this younger generation questioning consumerism and making their own goods and the fate of this nation, I hope.

Other film news: rented Notes on a Scandal which was okay. The acting was terrific but the story was kind of ho-hum, except for the emotional turmoil inherent in the situation.

Funnily enough, I then rented The War Zone, mostly because I've seen almost everything else in the Video Room, my local movie shop (kudos, they are great). I didn't know what it was about but I adore Ray Winstone and it's set in Wales. Also it's directed by Tim Roth, another favorite, and stars Tilda Swindon, yet another. It was a shoo-in.

Little did I realize that it would keep me awake half of last night. It demonstrated once more to me the power of film and of a well-constructed story, artfully told. As Tim Roth puts it in his commetary, so many "things are said without being said." The emotional impact is enormous, the conclusion inevitable, the truth of it irrevocable. Not for weak stomachs. Serendipity has once again brought me two films on similar themes that exist in different universes: Hollywood and the safe route and art. Correction: Art.

Now can I write these opinions up into a review? My next challenge.

I finished the first rough draft of my novelette, but realize one more chapter is required and some major and minor changes before sending a copy to the Writers' Guild for registration and then embarking on the mission of trying to sell it. More on that anon.

Today is Memorial Day and I want to give proper respectful attention to that observance. Each time I watch the News Hours and it winds up with the silent roll call of fatalities in Iraq, I want to weep: so many childmen and childwomen of 19 and 20 are shown. How can this be right?

Friday, May 25, 2007


I did what I set out to do last week. I got up every morning and headed straight to my computer, wrote, wrote, wrote. Took a break around noon to let my laptop cool off and eat, back to work, another break around 4 pm, then back to work, until 9 or 10 pm.

And I have 103 pages of a novelette in rough draft form. So I proved to myself that it can be done and I can do it.

And this has been one of my best vacations ever, except for my poor back muscles from sitting in this frigging chair. I have definitely been off in a very different space from my workaday world.

There's still work to be done on this story, it's rough. But the bones are done, now to add muscle and flesh to it, tone it up.

Good for me.

On the birthday front, my granddaughter turned four and had a small party as she requested.

Other news: the new location of East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse opened at 47th and Telegraph in Oakland in a store floored with ex-bowling alley wood. The space is sunny and gorgeous:

Tuesday, May 22, 2007


Tuesday, and I'm working on Chapter 4 of my Big Project.

The Birthday was a success. Mom and Dad took Princess and Prince to Marineworld and when they returned we had cake and played Princess Monopoly for about an hour. The Birthday Girl kept saying, "I LOVE this game," and "Everyone wins." She was so happy, she was jumping up and down.

We let her win, and the magic day ended.

Yesterday my son asked me to edit a creative writing project for a class which I did. He had poured his heart out in the text and I wanted to cry. It wasn't fiction, but the ring of truth was pure.

Then it was back to my own fiction project.

I'm racing the clock to get a rough draft done before I resume my ho-hum civil service job, my return to servitude.

Sunday, May 20, 2007


I've been busy churning out things for my granddaughter's fourth birthday which is today. First, a pair of "Hello Kitty" boxers, made on my newly tuned-up sewing machine:

Then a set of summer whites dyed via procion dyes to "orchid":

For the grandson, I iron-transferred childart from the Edinburgh Fringe Festival:

I babysat yesterday, finding that the Princess had drawn purple eyebrows on the cat and the Prince had a baby tattoo on one arm.
We had fun with only one half-meltdown.
As soon as I sat down with the baby on my lap, he went to sleep. I remember when my granddaughter at that age would run up to me on my arrival, cuddle into my shoulder and instantly fall asleep. What's not to love about being a grandmother?
For me: I'm taking a week off for a major, major project. I had five weeks of vacation saved up and decided I need to accomplish something NOW. I know what it is and I know how to do it. It is the doing that is the foil. It is the doing for ME, and not for my kid or grandkids. I've assembled all my materials and will begin work very soon.
Also this afternoon, I have to go check out the new site of East Bay Depot on Telegraph and maybe take some photos, write up an article. I drove by yesterday and there were picketers out in front. I hate crossing a picket line so will talk to them before going in.

Another beautiful sunny day outside. I'll also shop for wrapping paper and a birthday cake.

Friday, May 11, 2007


For a week or more, I've had a flu that laid me low. I won't offer details, too gross.

But better now, and I'm making a super-conscious effort to feed this precious body of mine with healthy, fresh "live" food that will build up my immune system.

Other things going on as well, but I shall not digress.

I was well enough on Sunday to have my babies over for luncheon.

Back to my recycling obsession--how cool is this?

A pretty basket made from soda bottle strips. A Japanese inventor, Takashi Utsumi, developed a device with which one can rapidly shred PET bottles into ribbons suitable for use in crafts. There are two types of PET shredder: F-200, which produces 2cm-wide ribbons; F-15/40, which produces 1.5mm to 4mm-wide ribbons. Unfortunately, these aren't available to us yet.

I think it's brilliant!

Although the very best thing we could do is invent a way to convert plastic back into oil. The Big Companies would be out sweeping up all the "trash islands" clogging our oceans and choking our sealife.

So much to do; so little time.

Monday, April 30, 2007


I took this photo at China Beach on Easter Sunday, during a traditional walk with a friend who lives nearby. She prepared a fabulous dinner for her Italian family and upstairs neighbor and me, as she does each year. There were no kids there however, so it seemed very, very quiet.

I had to interview today for the job I've been doing for four years. The management of our civil service office has "redefined" our positions and all of us had to submit applications, take a two-hour test and interview as if we'd never met the panel before. Civil service is becoming more and more corporate--which I see as becoming more and more bottom line--which equals more work for us and far poorer service for those we serve.

I feel like the old farts who sit around and talk about how the world is going to hell in a handbasket, and we'll all right.

But take heart! Bush has finally admitted that "climate change" may be a problem. He lectured us today on how we need to take a look and find solutions to this issue. Excuse me, I think I'm going to spit up.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


My friend/neighbor/mom-of-my-favorite-young-person emailed me after reading my last blog entry:

There's a lovely sewing machine on the floor at the back of my closet in the bedroom, just calling out to you: use me! use me! Last time I had room for it out of storage was when I made the curtains for K's room before he was born [about 12 years ago] --so it may need oil, and it may not be all you're used to, but the woman I inherited it from was a passionate sewer and I loved her machine. Please use it while you wait for yours, if you like.

I have a key to her house where my son is living while she and her son are in Taiwan, so I'll check it out tonight and see what I can whip up with this machine. Thank You, Lady L., and give your precious son a kiss for me.

Mine should be back, all tuned up, on Saturday.

Last night, went to Joanne's (blah!) but even they had no unicorn fabric. I settled for Strawberry Shortcake (sugary sweet, but the granddaughter loves her) and Spongebob Squarepants prints for the kids' spring shorts when at Gaga's house.

Unfortunately/fortunately, I live very close to Poppy Fabric on Broadway and College in Oakland where they have the most beautiful fabrics in the Bay Area. I stop often to check for remnants and sales and have already acquired quite a collection of their fabulous textiles.

Again, thank you, Lady L.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


I took my Brother sewing maching into the shop for a tuneup & overhaul. Now I feel like my right arm is missing. Boohoo, so much fabric and nothing I can do until next weekend. My granddaughter wants a twirly, unicorn skirt. I almost bought some unicorn fabric online, but forgot my wallet this morning.

This aging thing is the pits. And being busy, busy, busy makes it worse.

But my son took a photo of me and the angels last weekend. I look goofy but the kids are gorgeous, so I'll post it here. Especially for my big brother Wild Willy. Hi, guy.

She is either giddy or sulky. He is now walking all over and loves slinking where he's not supposed to be when you're looking the other way. He's partial to kitchens, any kitchen.

She eats like a bird, He eats like a little horse, like his Dad.

I love them to bits. I could even live without a sewing machine if I had them.

Friday, April 13, 2007


I found this photo of my home town on Wikipedia (my new love). San Francisco is so recogizable in this photo taken from a kite flying 2000 in the air, six weeks after the Big One.

Except for today's bridges, towers and buildings.

You can engage a high-res version of this photo at:

History, my other love, continues to fascinate me. How things change, yet stay the same.

Thursday, April 12, 2007


Last night I watched a Peter Watkins film biography of Munch, an attempt to visually explain the creative process and to film stream-of-consciousness. It was extremely long and, for American viewers I'm sure, slow.
I found it haunting, and especially noted the characters looking into the camera in almost every scene. It's in Norwegian, of course, and has a Scandanavian intensity, probably rooted in the strong Protestantism of the place and time.
I can't help but pity poor Munch who never seemed to find love, and suffered from mental illness as well as TB. I'm still digesting the images and narration/ideas.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007


Being a grandparent is fabulous. You can't undo whatever mistakes you made raising your kids, but you can try to make it better with the next generation. I learned (the hard way) never to say anything negative about anyone in the family in front of kids.

My teenage son reproached me--many times--for telling him when he was a child that I was angry with his dad. Even that was too much. Because his dad is part of him, no matter what.

I love my "Girl Talks" with my four-year old granddaughter. Usually we have them at night when we're in my big bed and her baby brother is already sound asleep. She tells me her dreams and stories and jokes.

Recently I was driving them somewhere and her brother was napping. She and I were talking about the people we loved.

She will tell me she loves my house and wants to stay, but she is very shy about telling me she loves me, so I asked her, "Do you love Gaga?" She was very serious. She thought and said, "Yes, I love you."

I said, "I love you too, sweetheart, very much."

She then asked with some anxiety, "Do you love my baby brother too?" I told her, "Of course I love him. But I've loved you longer." She broke into a huge grin.

Later I want to tell her that she is special and she shouldn't give her heart or body to just anyone who comes along. She must be careful and patient and wait for people who really love her and will care for her. She's a long way from dating and socializing, but I want her to grow up with the realization of how precious she is.

My parents never told me anything like this. As a kid, I'd go to visit my Italian neighbors who called their children their "treasures". Treasures. What a culture shock. My parents were an very odd couple, Depression folks and Presbyterians, so any emotion was strictly taboo. Except anger and despair. We never would have thought of ourselves as their treasures. More like pains in the neck.

I did my best to give my only son joy and love and everything I could (and I'm still giving). He's nearing 30 now and with two kids, is realizing what his single mom went through. Goes around; comes around. As a friend told me, "Karma works."

Tuesday, April 03, 2007


I love this tree and finally got it together to get a photo of it.
Spent the evening playing with an old CD drive that my computer no longer has the driver for. All this craziness when you upgrade and the software companies make two-year old or older stuff obsolete. Maddening.
And maddening to be scolded by my manager today, as if I'm a five-year old child who is misbehaving. I can do one thousand things well and never get a word of praise, but let me stray from her strait gate and she's jumping down my throat.
Stopped by a fabulous little craft center in downtown Oakland called Rock, Scissors, Paper on Telegraph, but it was closed. I must go back and explore this craft revolution locus. Without people who are creative, I'd go stark raving mad.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007


Spent the last two days in bed with pain in head and chest. When I told my son I was coughing up stuff, he asked: "Like what? Sheep? Rabbits?" I wish sometimes he weren't bigger than I am.

Better today after a meal of crackers, cheese and two oranges. Felt well enough to go through some old Zip Discs and found some neat old graphics like this:

I'm back on a graphic quest of magical things like this, for kids and for me.

I want to make a teeshirt for our upcoming pagan festival that says, "Don't Piss Off the Faeries".

In the Ould Countries, Faeries are far from cute and harmless. They are vengeful little buggers who where once overcrowded by humans into the Underworld. They look for every chance to do us mischief. Read Terry Pratchett's Wee Free Men to get an idea of their shenanigans.

I hope my Big Brother Bill is still reading this and is well and happy. I'll try to post more family photos soon. As usual, it's after my bedtime again. Must post and get to bed.

Monday, March 19, 2007


Saturday night I took the kids to see a friend who has a two-year old cockapoo. My four-year old granddaughter fell in love with Max, who she said is "the coolest dog". My one-year old grandson, who is now walking, also adored the dog and chased him around the large living room (a room so large you could fit my whole house in it).

Then Sunday morning we met my son (aka "Daddy") where he was dog-sitting two large elderly rescue dogs in Fruitvale and we all walked them. My granddaughter fell in love with quiet gentle Gigi, a greyhound. Gigi looks a lot like this:

We steered clear of Alpha female Winona, a german shepherd who is sweet but very protective.

The baby screamed with joy during the whole walk. It was a chilly morning but gratifying and we talked alot about doggies and the care they need.

Whenever folks say they want to get a dog, I advise them that it's a lot like having a baby that never really grows up. There should be a real commitment to these animals, and they shouldn't be left alone too long--that's the rub. Dogs aren't for people with regular work hours unless they live nearby and can go home at lunch to walk the dog. Even with a large yard, dogs get lonely and bored and start cutting up. I learned this many years ago from experience and won't be a dogowner again until I can make that commitment.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007


Thinking of "La Serenissima" today.

Other Americans flock to Disneyland; I'll take Venice, where the real magic is.

Why didn't parts of California's Bay Area develop into a Venice-like island network? We had the same kind of lagoon/bay and marshes. We didn't pound pilings into the muck to see if they would petrify. We just filled in vast areas of the San Francisco Bay, and built wooden shacks on the fill. Pity. But there was a Gold Rush and all that. And our weather can be a lot rougher as well.

Just think if we had no cars around the edges of the Bay and went everywere by boat? Instead of bicycles, we'd have little one- and two-rower gondolas. Police boats and garbage boats. Muni would run the vaporettos; the bus-like barges that carry passengers up and down the canals.

On land, we'd still have the cable cars and trollies of course. And, no doubt, automobiles.

Enough dreaming.

A writer I know has a blog titled "My Great Breast Cancer Adventure". You'll find it here:

Jane runs The Writing Salon with classes in San Francisco and Berkeley which I highly recommend. I took a screenwriting class there and loved it; it was worth every penny.

This blog of hers is about her daily life since she was diagnosed with breast cancer, had a lumpectomy, and is foregoing the chemo/radiation path for a more holistic lifestyle. She has much more than that going on, of course, and is a very good writer.

In a recent post, Jane talks about a "Alzheimer's moment" when she woke up, went into her bathroom and almost put toothpaste on her hairbrush.

I had such a moment today when, after having been scolded about coming into work late, I rushed around this morning in order to get out the door and to the office early for a change.

All went well until I arrived at work, realized I'd remembered to put on all of my clothes except for a bra. Luckily I wore an ironed cotton shirt with breast pockets so except for a little wiggling when I walked, I hope no one noticed. It's the first time I've been out of my house bra-less since the 1960's.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007


It is so lovely outside today I can hardly stand it. And feel a bit freaky-tweaky like Dave McKean and crazy/wild like Frieda. So I found a combo of the two.
Couldn't we all be like either of these scrarily creative folks?
I remember a day like today when I was in a home ec class in high school. The elderly (my age now) teacher was droning on about something: sewing or cooking or some such womanly subject so uninteresting I can't even remember it.
The day outside was perfect like today and I thought why can't we go outside and sit on the grass while she talks? Why am I in here in the first place? Why don't I just get up and walk out and create a life for myself?

And today I'm thinking the same thing, forty years later. Instead of going home after eight hours of incarceration and trying to create in the meager three or four hours left to me, why aren't I working three or four hours and creating eight hours of the day?
Coward? Pragmatist? Realist? Whiner?
One of my favorite creators has a blog called Cally Creates:
I found her through art for housewives, my other daily creative dose:
And there are other, so many others.
Here's the rub: The more you explore what others are doing, the less you do yourself. Just as reading makes you feel as if you've been writing. But you haven't been writing; you've been passively reading. Better than passively watching TV or movies, but still not creating.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007


This is the color I want to paint my walls for Spring.
I moved my luscious Big Bed and now wake up looking out my favorite window into rose bushes and bamboo.
There is still a ton of things to do to rearrange my house/life but I'll get there. So far, so good.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007


Trying to plan a total rearrangement of my house; rather a big deal with all my stuff. My main plan is to move my big bed (I LOVE my bed!) into the dining room and then use the one bedroom of my tiny house as a studio where I can leave out sewing, etc. and craft to my heart's content when I'm not here at the Job.

This rearrangement requires disassembling Big Bed and moving it, as well as file cabinets, TV, etc. all around into a new configuration that will also work better when the grandkids are over.

My granddaughter was so easy. I'd tell her not to touch something because "that's not for kids".

"Okay." And that was that.

Not so with my grandson. He shakes his head when I say "No!", waits for me to look away and heads right for the forbidden fruit. Unlike his sister, he is very sensitive to hot and cold as well. My tiny bedroom is freezing in winter, sweltering in summer. So I'll try this.

I'm also considering painting a room a robin's egg blue, something I've fantisized about for years. Right now the entire tiny house is flat white. But I'd like something like this:

Minus the modern chair. I love the feeling of this blue.

Monday, February 12, 2007


Trying to get it together to begin a new Craft Blog with projects and references regarding the huge craft renaissance going on in the US, UK and Europe, especially on the Internet. I can spend hours surfing, and have done so, many times. Now I want to show photos of my own little craft efforts and reference some of the fabulous designers and crafters I've found on the Net.

I spent $$ on a guilty pleasure today, a Dover ClipArt book (with CD!) of Celtic Designs, mostly from the Book of Kells and the Lindesfarne Gospels. Samples:

I can't wait to transfer these onto some summer teeshirts and/or bookbags. And maybe make up some kids' clothes out of cotton or linen embellished with these images. My granddaughter loves these, and there's a local shop called Siobhan Van Winkle that sells off-the-wall kids' clothing.

Also went to SCRAP and bought a ton of buttons, some for kids' clothing and some for selfish me.

A Civil Servant Story: a coworker interviewed and was offered a promotion to our Manager's office where he wanted to work out his remaining years to retirement with more money and challenges. We threw him a big party and missed him terribly when he left. I call him our Jester because he is so witty and funny, in a sarcastic but charming style.

A month later, I came into work and he was sitting in the cubicle next to me again. I asked if he was visiting, and he said no, he had exercised his "retreat rights" because the new job environment was so cold and impersonal.

The Jester is very sociable and talkative and no one in his new office talked. Ever. He said no one said "Good morning"; if you sneezed, no one would mutter "Good bless you"; and he didn't get mail for two weeks because no one told him where his mailbox was.

Jester is also a diabetic and when chatting with us, he'll whip out his little kit and shoot himself up with insulin when necessary. In his new environment, he was afraid to do this, and went and hid in a toilet cubicle to inject himself. He said he felt like a junkie.

So I have to say there are environments worse than the crazy one I work in. We jokingly call it "The Prison", call the Manager's Office "The Big House" and make a lot of parole and trustee jokes. But I guess there is a lot of warmth among us, as crazy and neurotic as we all are. At least we got our Jester back.

Another guilty pleasure: Broke down and bought the "Concert for George" DVD of the 2002 concert organized by Eric Clapton and friends a year after George Harrison's death. I saw most of it on PBS and these old guys still rock. I've only seen the DVD for sale at one bookstore, so I went ahead and bought it. Always liked George's songs a lot and these musicians are the best and do them all justice. Highly recommended (if you have the cash).

Thursday, February 08, 2007


...that we weren't born in 1989.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007


Here are some of the U.S. statistics for 1904:

The average life expectancy in the U.S. was 47 years.

Only 14 percent of the homes in the U.S. had a bathtub.

Only 8 percent of the homes had a telephone.

A three-minute call from Denver to New York City cost eleven dollars.

There were only 8,000 cars in the U.S., and only 144 miles of paved roads.

The maximum speed limit in most cities was 10 mph.

Alabama, Mississippi, Iowa, and Tennessee were each more heavily populated than California.

With a mere 1.4 million residents, California was only the 21st most populous state in the Union.

The tallest structure in the world was the Eiffel Tower.

The average wage in the U.S. was 22 cents an hour.

The average U.S. worker made between $200 and $400 per year.

A competent accountant could expect to earn $2000 per year, a dentist $2,500 per year, a veterinarian between $1,500 and $4,000 per year, and a mechanical engineer about $5,000 per year.

More than 95 percent of all births in the U.S. took place at home.

Ninety percent of all U.S. physicians had no college education. Instead, they attended medical schools, many of which were condemned in the press and by the government as "substandard."

Sugar cost four cents a pound.

Eggs were fourteen cents a dozen.

Coffee was fifteen cents a pound.

Most women only washed their hair once a month, and used borax or egg yolks for shampoo.

Canada passed a law prohibiting poor people from entering the country for any reason.

The five leading causes of death in the U.S. were:

1. Pneumonia and influenza

2. Tuberculosis

3. Diarrhea

4. Heart disease

5. Stroke

The American flag had 45 stars. Arizona, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Hawaii, and Alaska hadn't been admitted to the Union yet.

The population of Las Vegas, Nevada, was 30.

Crossword puzzles, canned beer, and iced tea hadn't been invented.

There was no Mother's Day or Father's Day.

Two of 10 U.S. adults couldn't read or write.

Only 6 percent of all Americans had graduated high school.

Marijuana, heroin, and morphine were all available over the counter at corner drugstores. According to one pharmacist, "Heroin clears the complexion, gives buoyancy to the mind, regulates the stomach and bowels, and is, in fact, a perfect guardian of health."

Eighteen percent of households in the U.S had at least one full-time servant or domestic.

There were only about 230 reported murders in the entire U.S.

And I forwarded this from someone else without typing it myself, and sent it to you in a matter of seconds.

Try to imagine what it may be like in another 100 years.

Sunday, February 04, 2007


I'm trying to be creative in a textile sense, but last week was like this, in fast-forward:

Mon-work; Tues-work; Weds-sick/sleep; Thurs-sick/babysit sick granddaughter; Fri-work; Sat-lay around for 1/2 day watching DVDs (The Constant Gardener and I am a Sex Addict). Sat night-take grandkids overnight; recover Sunday afternoon. And now it's Sunday evening and I haven't gotten much done.

I did felt some extra wool fabric and surround in cotton duvet-style covers (photo soon, when I locate my camera). I placed one under my bottom flannel sheet which keeps my bed warm and toasty; much warmer than without. I'd love to find a way to make a prototype and market this or anything made of wool.

Wool is magical. But it's getting harder and harder to find 100% wool these days.

Another creative textile idea is A SHOE QUILT:

What woman doesn't LOVE shoes? I found this graphic on the internet. A great way to use up extra cotton fabric and, of course, use wool batting in-between.

Trying now to think of Spring and Summer goodies for Los Bebes and myself. I've got lots of linen and some cotton.

Friday, January 26, 2007


For the last ten days, I've been waiting for the other shoe to drop.

My civil service coworker and I have been overloaded for about the last three years, taking between 50 to 100 phone calls a day, each of us. That's an average of 1,000 phone calls each per month. And we're expected to process payments and paperwork as well, which is of course impossible. Try reading a letter while being interrupted by a headset phone call every two minutes. While working in a software that times out every two minutes.

Every day I have around seven software screens up on my work computer, one software being Internet Explorer to keep my feet on the ground and my sanity while angry customers yell and curse at me. I drift in cyberspace, remembering the real world.

About ten days ago, that changed. Mercifully, because my coworker was in the hospital having tests for chest pains. This usually means over 100 calls for me and a whole lot of yelling from people who have been on hold for over ten minutes. But I only received 50 calls, and my "pending" work stack went down instead of up.

Our software provider finally came through with their contract and are taking half the calls.

Good God. What a difference. I'm still adjusting to being productive again. It will take a while. I'm still in shock. More later.

Monday, January 15, 2007


We had an extra day off the job for Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday. He's about the closest person we have to an American saint. Flawed but, my God, did he ever change the world.

I've rested and then rested some more, in-between a little housecleaning and trying to find the right proportions of a new poncho I'm knitting. I'm using a yarn unknitted from a Margaret O'Leary sweater, size small, so there's not much room for error. I am not size small.

Watched a BBC rendition of "Wives and Daughters" and find myself quite taken with Elizabeth Gaskell. I've seen "North and South" which was more moralistic or Calvinistic. "Wives" was full of sumptuous costumes and landscape. And Michael Gambon, whom I adore, is at his finest as a gruff but loving country squire.

AND on the special features are interviews with Margaret Drabble and Fay Weldon, two of my very favorite novelists. What a treat!

My grandson, nicknamed Big Bomb, and his sister were over on Sunday. Bomb is standing, dancing, and getting ready to walk and run. I took us all out for breakfast at Tomate, our favorite Berkeley cafe.

The Princess was moody and actually didn't want to leave. Last weekend she didn't want to stay. She is simply a moody child and very sensitive. She is my heart.

How awful for children to have to go from one home to another. Luckily she has always stayed at my house on weekends and feels quite at home here, but the switch from one environment to another is shocking for a small child. Parents separating is trauma; the switching of homes is like a rerun. I don't know if they'll ever take it in their stride.

To my utter amazement, Deirdre Nelson left me a thank-you comment on my blog post mentioning her work. It's like writing a fan letter and having the object of your attention write back. I was thrilled. Here is a photo of her with George, her knitted puffin.

She mixes language and textiles in a unique way. Now she is mixing wildlife and the history of Nova Scotia into her current work. Amazing.

I am more and more in love with history as I grow older. The leaps and errors of our human race. And of course in the present, our messes and successes.

I'm now trying to take my job supervisor's advice and look at my job as comic relief. To laugh at the lies people will come up with to get out of paying a parking ticket. If they could only be that creative with other parts of their lives, what a creative world it would be.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007


...sailor take warning.

Red sky at night
Sailor's delight.

Our skies have been clear and crisp, although I spend most of the day indoors. The webcam from Lawrence Hall of Science in the Berkeley Hills is my window to the world.

In our office, we took a collection to buy flowers for a coworker who died last New Year's Eve. Olive was a lovely woman who had a hard life and fought cancer for many years. We were all hoping she would live through another remission, but no. She once asked me to come in early to the office and join her Christian prayer circle and I was flattered by the offer, though I declined.

This made me think more about my own mortality and what disposition I wish for my own earthly remains.

I've told my son to have my body cremated and bury the ashes under a redwood tree, but I think now I wish for my ashes to be scattered or buried on the Isle of Skye, or anywhere wild in Scotland. Who would do it, and with what money?

As my son said about these wild areas, "There's nothing there."

But the air is the cleanest I have ever breathed. The air there feels so right, it fills your lungs naturally with clean, cold goodness and awakens your body with its freshness.

And something about the colors there, the red and green and brown with a sprinkling of grey rock. While in a gift shop in Portree, I saw a handwoven scarf/shawl with just these colors. The fibre was cashmere and the price was around $300. Of course I didn't buy it, but sometimes I wish I had.

Last weekend's granny duty was tough. The baby had an ear infection and my granddaughter was moody (when is she not?). After awhile she cheered up:

Tuesday, January 02, 2007


Went to see Children of Men over the New Year. Clive Owen is gorgeous (Bent, Croupier, King Arthur, Gosford Park), and acts well in the movie. The theatre was full, but the story didn't translate that well to the screen. The onscreen violence was like spending an hour in Baghdad. Wait for Children on DVD.

On the crafting front, I spent some time looking in to the recent work of my favorite Glaswegian textile artist, Deirdre Nelson. And lo and behold, she has knit a puffin.

I first saw a display of Ms Nelson's work in Edinburgh's Tolbooth Museum, a cozy snug of a venue. It was entitled My Dear John, and it was calligraphy on lace and fine linen, as I recall. Apparently the show was written up in a back issue of Fibrearts and I may just have to purchase that back issue so I can see it again. Ms Nelson has a website: