Pixie Portal

Delve into Wendy's World of Knitting, Illustrator, Cats, and Pixie Magic.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Off to Mexico

Tomorrow Karen and I fly to Cabo San Lucas Mexico. This will be our view for the next 7 days.

These are some pictures we took when we were in Cabo in the Fall of 2003.

When we are in Mexico, we just sit by the pool. We don't sight-see. We usually eat at the resort. We just sit at the pool and read. Last year, I read 7 books in 7 days.

I imagine I'll be offline next week. If I remember correctly, there is an internet cafe nearby but I imagine that I'll wait until I get home to share photos and stories.

I'll be thinking about you!

New Purse on the Needles

Last night I cast on to knit a medium-sized felted purse. I'm using Cascade Yarn again (because it felts so beautifully) in a lovely shade of lavender purple. I'll use the Pebbles yarn as a top border to the purse. This will be my knitting project while in Mexico.

I'm wondering how I will knit in a bathing suit while covered in sunscreen. Seems really weird. How will I prevent sunscreen from getting all over the yarn? Maybe I'll just read. Or maybe I'll put a towel in my lap. Yea... that's it!

Thursday, January 26, 2006

The 2006 Knitting Olympics

This is going to be a real stretch but I'm going to do it!

Today at The Naked Sheep Yarn Shop, I was chatting it up with owner Cheri. We started sharing favorite knitting blogs and she told me about the Knitting Olympics hosted by The Yarn Harlot otherwise known as Stephanie Pearl-McPhee.

From the Yarn Harlot site:
Eligibility: Any knitter who, embracing the "Citius, Alitius Fortius" ideal, would like to challenge themselves while embracing the Olympic spirit, and is just whacked enough to play along with me.

Concept: You must cast on a project during the Opening Ceremonies of the Winter Olympics (Feb 10)- and finish before the Olympic flame goes out (Feb 26). That's 16 days.

1. The project must be a challenge for you to complete in 16 days.
2. There are no rules about what a challenge would be. Like the real Olympics, there are many areas to compete in. If you are a new knitter, then a garter stitch baby sweater might do...If you are experienced, well. I've already considered Torino. Use your own conscience.
3. While this is intended to be somewhat difficult (like the Olympics) it is not intended to ruin your life. Don't set yourself up for failure. (Olympic athletes may cry, but they do not whine pitifully, sob and threaten members of their family with pointed sticks because they haven't slept in five days. ) This is intended to (like the Olympics) require some measure of sacrifice, and be difficult, but it should be possible to attain.
4. No casting on before the flame is lit.
5. Finish before the flame goes out.
6. You may swatch before the games. (I consider this "training.")

If you want more information, click here

I was incredibly motivated by the 1366 people who are signed up for these Olympics! I had to get a piece of that action! I signed up to knit a baby blanket within the 16 days. To me, this will be a real stretch. However, the Olympic motto is: Faster, Higher, Stronger!

But check this out! The Olympic host posted what she will knit in the 16 days. Click here to see this incredible project (this would take me at least 6 months!) Holy Crap Batman!!

Who goes through my recycle bin?

Today is a day of unsolved questions and mysteries (see the mystical chair post below). I am most curious to learn the identity of the person who takes empty Diet Coke bottles from my recycle bin.

Is it a nearby neighbor who peers out their window - waiting for me to take the bin to the curb? (No J & H, I don't think it's you!) Is it someone who drives by at 4:00am who goes through everyone's recycle bins? I just don't know.

I believe (though I can't know for sure) that this person is taking these bottles because of the $.05 return they can get for them. And there is usually 4 bottles per week (20 cents per week = $10.40 a year). Yes, I know that 8 liters is a lot of diet coke!

I still feel the ping of guilt when I place these bottles in the recycle bin rather than take them to the store and get my 20 cents. My grandmother Janeway would certainly not approve of my wasting this 20 cents. She would most definitely approve of my scavenger neighbor!

I don't' mind that the bottles get taken. I'm just curious about who takes them. Being an occasional night owl, it is sometimes 1:00am before I set out the bins. And the trash gets picked up at 7:00am. This is some early-morning, dedicated recycler!

"Who is it?", I wonder. "Who is it?"

Karen's Mystical Chair

Our cats LOVE Karen's chair. The moment she gets up from her chair both cats will jump in the seat and snuggle in. She can be gone for 30 seconds and they will look up at her with pleading cat eyes and beg her to not make them get down.

Karen loves the cats so much that she will actually concede the chair and sit on our spare "office ball" so as not to disturb them. Even as I write this, our gray cat Phoebe is draped across the top of the seat back and kitten Chloe is snuggled on the seat behind Karen's back.

What is it about this chair that causes cat bliss? Yes, it's warm and soft but there are many other warm and soft surfaces throughout the house (beds, couches with blankets, etc.)

I can't figure it out. If I sit in Karen's chair will I too be touched with ecstasy? Is the chair the hidden door to a forgotten realm? Does the chair emit mind-altering waves?
Check out these expressions!

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Grizzly Bears Need Your Help

One of the non-profit groups that I support is the National Resources defense Council or NRDC. This group's mission is to protect our environment, our last wilderness and endangered animals.

As a member of this group, I was able to send quick & easy emails and letters to my congressmen to urge them not to open the Artic for oil drilling. That battle is far from over and I'm glad that I got to voice my opinion on the matter.

Yesterday I received an email from Leonardo DiCaprio (one of the NRDC supporters) encouraging me to send an email to the US Fish & Wildlife Service. The email was to encourage this government branch to leave the Grizzly Bears on the endangered list.

Please check out the NRDC's website . And consider signing a letter to protect our grizzly bears. Many Thanks!

Finished Sunset Stripe Scarf - with pockets

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Finished Hat

Tonight I finished The Purple Hat (for a second time). This time... it's actually a hat!

I learned the double-pointed needle trick which looks harder than it really is. Since the pattern for the hat called for it to be felted, I ended up knitting a whopping 14" on this thing. When it was done, it looked like a Dr. Seus "Cat in the Hat" hat.

But then I felted it in the washing machine. Felting is my new favorite thing! It turns a bumpy knitted piece into a smooth piece of wearable art. My poor girlfriend Karen suffered the indignity of putting a plastic bag over her head (no! not over her nose and mouth!) to try on this soaking wet thing to see if I had felted it to the correct size. Thanks Karen!

This is my first completed hat and I'm just tickled! I made the hat for Karen so once it's dry, I'll take a picture with her wearing it.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Going to the Frog Pond

Tonight I finished the last inch on my 14" inch purple hat for Karen. I stitched it 14" (according to pattern) so that it could be felted and have a lovely rim. Once I finally got the piece off the needles, I realized that a whole section was twisted while stitching in the round. I should have known something was amiss when I couldn't ever lay the hat completely flat. But hey, it was my first hat and just my second time knitting in the round.

Anyway, there is no way that piece could become a hat. Maybe just a really ugly cowl neck thingy. Deep Sigh and Groan that could be heard throughout the hotel.

So I took the piece to the frog pond. I actually looked up this term in my Stitch n Bitch book so that I could share it with you. (A frog goes ribbit, ribbit and I ripped it and ripped it). It's corny but sometimes you need something stupid like this "frogging" term to keep from screaming and beating your head against the wall.

So the lovely purple hat is once again skeins of yarn. Wish me luck on the second go around!

I love this story- snake making friends with hamster

In today's USA Today, there was a story about a snake who was presented with a hamster for it's meal. Instead of eating the hamster, the snake made friends with it. The two have shared a box since. The Hamster even naps on top of the snake.

This story gives me hope. That maybe, someday, Republicans & Democrats, Fundamentalists and Liberals, and everyone will find a way to share space without trying to kill and eat one another!

Read the original story here.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Progress on the Sunset Stripe Scarf

Southern Food

Crazy Aunt Purl (www.crazyauntpurl.com) had a great post today about Southerners and their love of food. I'm pleased to report that since I've arrived in Texas I've had the opportunity to eat twice at Chik-fil-A. They have the best chicken nuggets and awesome brownies! I miss Chik-fil-A and Cracker Barrell and Sonic when I'm home in Portland. I miss cornbread and fluffy biscuits and good sweet iced tea. I miss Southern Food.

And usually Southerners have good manners. Sadly, this was not the case yesterday. Yesterday afternoon, Karen's rental car got a flat tire. The rental car company wanted her to bring the car back to the return area (once she got the spare on it) so that she could exchange the car for another. Now, the flat tire is no one's fault. But it was interesting (and distressing) to me that when we returned the car, the car attendant did not once meet our eyes. She never smiled. It was like talking to a brick wall.

It takes a lot of patience on my part (and chanting "be compassionate" in my head over and over) to not be upset by this lack of manners. You have to remember that hospitality is so important to me that I got a degree in it! I'm a big time people pleaser and I'm usually convinced that I can make any situation better. So, if I had been the car attendant, I would have handled the situation differently.

But I bit my tongue, didn't ask for her manager, and try to let it go. And hey... I got to blog about it. And as Karen says, "blogging is cheaper than therapy!"

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Sticker in my hotel shower

I can't see the bathmat. I can't feel the bathmat. Is the bathmat really there?

I would rather have an invisible aromatherapy water massage in my shower!

Sniffles in San Antonio

I'm writing to you from a lovely Embassy Suites in San Antonio, Tx. I'm very sorry to report that I've had the sniffles and a sore throat since Sunday when we flew here. So instead of exploring this fair city while Karen is teaching, I've been holed up in the hotel room sniffing and coughing and watching, I'm sorry to say, Batman & Robin (you know that bad movie with Arnold S. as "Freeze" and Uma T. as "Poison Ivy"). It was either that or the Weather Channel or Court TV.

But I do have yarn! I'm knitting a scarf for Mom out of Nashua Handknits Equinox Sunset Stripe. And a hat for Karen out of Cascade Peruvian Highland Wool in a lovely shade of purple.

I would like to give a shout out to good friends Jeff & Heather who announced their pregnancy after a healthy 12-week OB appointment. Congratulations! Check out their baby picture at their blog of http://www.theportlandmove.blogspot.com.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Finished Sweater - I'm ecstatic

This evening I finished seaming together my sweater!

Yesterday I finished my second sleeve. I then prepped my seaming area (see below photo) with all the necessities including the sweater pieces, groovy yarn safety pins, yarn needle, portable dvd player with "Friends" dvd, milkshake, and manual.

I seamed the pieces for around 4 hours last night and 4 more hours today. And I'm now wearing my finished product. I'm so proud I could just spit!

I've been reading "Zen and the Art of Knitting" by Bernadette Murphy. On page 26 she writes, "When I hold a finished sweater in my hand, I hold tangible proof that I know more than I think I do and that I'm intelligent. Intelligence isn't having all the answers. Intelligence is the capacity to learn what you don't know."

I started this sweater on 11/19. And on this project I learned how to:
add yarn,
"turn the work",
rip two rows and re-knit them,
rip two sleeves & re-knit them,
weave in tails,
and seam.

To further quote Bernadette "I have created something beautiful, something original - a piece of wearable art that has never existed before". I couldn't agree more!

Friday, January 13, 2006

Twisted Brownie Syndrome

My Mom gave me some old photos during her latest visit. Among the pictures, was this one of me as a Brownie/Girl Scout along with my groovy Nanny (check that outfit and those glasses!).

As I looked at the picture, I remember the Brownie Story I learned as a child. For those of you who want to read the whole story, click here. The shortened definition is that a Brownie is a magical creature that cleans your house in secret.

Well I loved this story! I took it to heart!

However, being a brownie has not always served me well. When I was in the workplace, I enjoyed getting to work really early to get a lot of things done before anyone arrived. Secret Brownie! Yea!! I was also prone to taking work home. Now this, you might think would be an admirable quality (and I still think it is!). The problem was that my work was "magically" getting done. And my colleagues and bosses didn't see me laboring away. So often, I got even more work (that again I would do "in secret"). Can you see where the story goes? I would get so overloaded or so downcast from resentful co-workers, that the delightful brownie would have to go away for a while. So sad!

I'm glad to say that now I can completely delight in my Brownie side. When Karen arrives home from a trip, presto! the house has been magically cleaned, the clothes are washed, and my kitchen is gleaming. Brownie Delight!

I know.... I'm a little strange. Just a strange twisted Brownie.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Good Service & Bad Service

Today I experienced Good Service & Bad Service.

Let me tell you about the BAD SERVICE WITH KINKO'S.
Karen had placed a printing order on Saturday afternoon for 17 coil-bound books. She gave Kinko's our home phone number so they could call us when the order was complete (which they NEVER do). I called them at noon today to confirm the order was ready. It took 5+ minutes of being on hold before someone confirmed that it was ready. So I arrive 5 minutes later to pay for the order and arrange for it to be FedEx'd.

I stood in line for 20 MINUTES before anyone acknowledged my existence. There was only one customer in front of me who was in a deep discussion about the type and paper quality of her business card order. I counted five employees, all working behind the counter, who could not spare the time to greet me and tell me that someone would be right with me. For a while, I thought I was invisible.

But I'm breathing and I'm calm. I had just finished my workout and had enjoyed several Diet Cokes. I was feeling fine. When I was finally helped, it was (heaven forbid!) from one of the "team managers". He found my order and rang me up. I tried to pay with my American Express card. I swiped it several times. I still feel patient at this point.

The customer waiting in line behind me was a store owner of the next-door shop. He informs the manager that the DSL lines are down and that he couldn't process credit cards either. I can't begin to describe the total panic on the manager's face.

The manager asks me for another credit card. I suppress the giggles and give him my Mastercard. Surprise, Surrpise. That doesn't work either!

He runs to the back office to find the hard-copy credit card machine. It can't be found. He decides to look in EVERY drawer in the store for it. He was flapping around like a chicken with it's head cut off. For some reason, he wants some company on this great quest and motions for me to follow him around.

I tell him that while he looks for it that I'm going to step over to the FedEx guy (located within the Kinko's store). I receive my box of books and walk it over. NOW, we had specifically told Kinko's that we would be FedEx'ing the order. Kinko's has partnered with FedEx and supposedly you can print and ship your stuff without ever going to the store. Kinko's has spent a lot of advertising space and money to inform us of this service.

Can you guess what happened? The box my books were placed in was not a shipping box but one of those flimsy boxes with the hand-holding holes on the side. The FedEx guy takes this box, wraps bubble wrap around the outside of it, inserts the box within another box, smiles and charges me an additional 13 DOLLARS for this service. What a crock!!

At this point the FedEx driver has arrived and I just want the shipment out the door. So I don't argue about the waste of having two boxes. Or the extraordinary fee.

I simply return to the Kinko's counter and wait for the team manager to stop flapping. Again, I am totally ignored. I could have walked out without paying at anytime. I finally have to shout across the room to ask the whereabouts of the team manager. He pops his head out of his office, eating a sandwich!! He writes down my credit card information, phone numbers and such and tells me he will call me when he has a receipt ready for me.

He NEVER apologized. He STILL has not called.

Time at Kinko's - 52 MINUTES.

Now, let me tell you about the GREAT SERVICE AT HOME DEPOT.

I went to Home Depot to return my empty water bottle for my water dispensing machine and to buy a full bottle. I stop at the carts as I know I will need one to wheel out the full bottle. There is a gentleman drying the carts (it was raining and the carts were wet). He sees me coming, pulls out a dry cart and asks me if I would like to have it. I thank him and he tells me "You're welcome".

There is no wait at the returns area of the store (where the water bottle exchange occurs). I am greeted warmly. The clerk loads the heavy water bottle into my cart and asks if I would like help out. I graciously decline and thank her for her help. She wishes me a good day.


Time at Home Depot - 3 MINTUES

I have noticed that when I have a particularly bad customer service experience that it is usually followed by a good one. I think it is God/Universe throwing me a bone to keep me from going ballistic and losing faith and hope in the kindness of my fellow humans. For this, I am grateful.

By the way, if you enjoy customer service rants, check out Seth Godin's blog. He often writes about how companies need to focus on being extraordinary (particularly to their customers).

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Name That Picture

Phoebe and Chloe get along splendidly yet we still have our moments of kitty battle to determine who will reign supreme. I thought this photo was too funny.

Feel free to add your own captions for either Phoebe (gray cat) or Chloe (white kitten).

CHLOE: "I may be on my back but don't count me out".

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Finished Purse.

Tonight I finished and felted my first purse! Hurrah! Hurrah!!

Last night, I finished the top four inches of the purse (working in the colored bauble yarn) while watching Aliens with Karen & Jeff. Jeff, I loved the personalized intro you gave us. Bravo!!!

Today I bought some double-pointed needles and stitched both handles.

I referred to my guru, Crazy Aunt Purl, to learn the three-needle bind-off so that I could attach the handles to the side of the purse.

Then came the nerve-wrecking part---placing the purse in the washing machine to felt it. I read the felting instructions out loud to Karen to make sure I knew what I was doing (for some reason I have to read the simplest instructions out loud and discuss them with someone before I trust myself to proceed). I used the hot water and 18 minute agitation cycle of the machine. Then stuffed the purse with plastic bags to achieve the desired shaping.

AWESOME! I'm so pleased. Shall I knit one for you now?

Before felting:

After felting:

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Sweater Progress - ripping the sleeves

I finished the front of my sweater on Monday 1/2. I started the front on 12/14 therefore it took me 19 days to complete. (The analytical part of me just has to write about that!)

My next step was to start seaming the pieces together. But as I scrutinized the sleeves, I realized that I had stitched them too small. I had ideas of blocking the sleeves and stretching the heck out of them BUT I figured that every time I wore the sweater a part of my brain would chant "Cheater, Cheater" at me. So, I ripped an entire sleeve, rewound the yarn, and cast on again.

I had around 7 inches completed, including several "increase" stitch rows and then realized that I had knitted 2 rows incorrectly. (Trying to ride in the car, talk to Mom about music and knit was more than my brain and fingers could handle).

Last night I bravely ripped the 2 rows and managed to get the stitches back on the needles. Truly incredible! I've never ripped a few rows before. I've always started over. So far, the corrected rows look fine. I'm just impressed that I managed to do it!

Part of my mind wants to create some clever analogy about "getting the project right" rather than "making do" as it relates to my life. But, I'm coming up blank. I guess it has something to do with perseverance... or patience... or perfectionism.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Those Patterson Women are Crazy

Today Karen, Mom & I went to Cannon Beach. There was an 80% probability of rain and a two hour drive but hey... we went anyway. When we got to Ecola Park (overlooking the beach), the wind was roaring at around 50-70 mph. Mom and I were giggling throughout taking some token photos. We know we are strange!!

It was impressive to see the crashing surf and all the white water. Here's a picture of the same viewpoint on a normal day.

We went out to eat for dinner and I (inspired by the ocean) decided to eat grilled shrimp. A couple of hours later I had a face & neck rash. So folks, I guess it's official. I'm allergic to shrimp!!

The last time Karen and I went to Mexico I had a similar reaction. I munched on some shrimp fajitas and then laid out in the sun. Apparently, the sun worsens this allergy. For the most of our vacation, I had to lay under a beach umbrella with wet towels plastered to my body. And still it was too much sun. The rash ran rampant down my body. At the time, I thought that the breakouts were due to trying a new sunscreen.

After the Mexico vacation, I mentioned the reaction to Mom who informed me that she had a similar allergy and that it was an allergy to shrimp. I still wasn't sure that I was allergic to the shrimpers but now I am!

However, there is hope. I've eaten Red Lobster popcorn shrimp before and not had a reaction. I would be really upset if I thought I could never eat shrimp again!

Anyway, back at Cannon Beach we enjoyed shopping at one of my favorite stores, The Oregon Gallery. Karen and I stop there every time we drive to the beach. We've lusted after some metal art sculptures of trees each time we've gone. Mom surprised us by buying us one of the pieces. Thanks Mom!! Here's a photo:

Mom goes home tomorrow and we are sorry to see her go. We would love to have her back in the summer so that she can see Portland in all her summer glory. I wish her easy & restful travels.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Japanese Garden

We decided to visit the Japanese Garden today after we saw "Memoirs of a Geisha" yesterday afternoon. It has rained every day of Mom's visit, but it decided to stop for a quick visit to the Garden. I love visiting this special space. Every view is perfectly beautiful.

I have a group of favorite trees that can be found as you leave the Garden. I take pictures of them every time I visit. Today, one of the trees had a misty, etheral look. If you click on the picture, you can see individual raindrops on the branches. I thought I would share the picture with you.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Rainbows and Communion

This morning Mom, Karen & I attended the 11am service at MCC. This was Mom's first experience in partaking in communion. As you can see from her photo, she is beaming. As we were leaving, we were gifted with a beautiful rainbow. You have to click on the picture to see it.

Check out Karen's blog regarding the delightful bumper sticker "Who would Jesus Bomb?" we saw on the car parked in front of us at church.