Showing posts from March, 2009

Green Day

... It has been officially announced, so I can finally talk about this.... My theater is going to be premiering Green Day's American Idiot -- THE MUSICAL. How crazy is that?!?!? NY Times article Variety Article (Love that use of "legit tuner" -- who the heck says that? Guys who write for Variety, I guess.)

Knitting for Babies

... I forgot to share the photos of this silly little baby sweater I knit for my friends Paula and Aaron's baby boy. Yeah, it is an original design. This was knit in a big tube to facilitate the colored knitting, and then I took scissors and cut open the sweater so that Paula and Aaron didn't have to try to cram a wriggling baby into a pullover. Cardigan are much more suitable for diminutive pirates.

A delightful day

... A while ago, I worked up the courage to ask our local workers-owned bakery collective if they would give us some of their used coffee grounds. I wanted to use the grounds to enrich my garden soil. Somehow that lead to a conversation about growing orchids, and since that time one of the bakers has been giving me the occasional gift of a plant when he divides his orchids. This morning, I had an email saying that he had split up his masdevallia orchids, and that I could have a few of the babies. Judging by the number of divisions he had, Chi must be supplying half the orchid growers in West Oakland with plants. I'm thrilled to be part of his orchid-geek network. As if that weren't delightful enough, I there are small orange butterflies fluttering everywhere this morning. I wonder if this will last for more than one day. Are they newly hatched? Or migrating through? Who knows. I'm just glad that I had my eyes open this morning, and noticed them. In between a

Busy, Busy. Messy, Messy.

... I don't suppose I ever write, "Our current show is proceeding at a leisurely pace." Apparently, we're always racing toward the next deadline. But really, the show we're working on at the moment is going to kill us all. There's so much to do in such a short amount of time. We are building an Irish cottage, six stone walls, and the road and land around the cottage, as well as a huge warehouse wall (for a different scene). The "stones" are carved out of huge sheets of styrofoam. This is a massive project, and makes a gigantic mess. Thankfully, our foam supplier will take back all of our off-cuts and foam schnibbles, for recycling. The floor of the cottage is meant to look like flagstone, and our carpentry staff spent days and days carving sheets of medium density fiberboard, which filled the air with more dust than you could imagine. I would get home at the end of the day with foam in my hair, pants pockets and knickers (don't a

My Aristotelian Garden

... The Greek philosopher Aristotle believed that certain animals grew not from sexual reproduction, but spontaneously from inorganic matter. So with animals, some spring from parent animals according to their kind, whilst others grow spontaneously and not from kindred stock; and of these instances of spontaneous generation some come from putrefying earth or vegetable matter, as is the case with a number of insects, while others are spontaneously generated in the inside of animals out of the secretions of their several organs. Barnacle geese were thought to form on driftwood, first as an amorphous blob, then forming beaks (which held onto the wood) and protective shells. Once they had formed feathers, they could break free from the wood. Apparently, this belief allowed early Christians to classify waterfowl as "fish" and allow them to be eaten during lent. Other examples of spontaneous generation were flies (born from rotting meat), bookworms (generated by winds blow

Look out below! Escargot!

... On mornings when I get to work early, I like to step outside and check on my tiny garden. Lately, it has been damp, and the whole place is crawling with snails. Although I'm an animal-lover, I just can't bring myself to love the snails. They really are pests, and at this point, all the plants in my garden have been selected because the snails won't mow them down to the ground. I've spent a lot of money on California native plants that were completely devoured by snails in less than a day. I don't use any chemicals in my garden, and I think that stomping snails is disgusting. My method of snail control involves a one-way trip over the corrugated metal garden wall. Last Thursday, I sent sixty snails sailing over the wall, and this morning I chucked another fifty-five. Giving snails sky-diving lessons makes me an Official Crazy Lady. I was chatting with one of my co-workers about the garden. I told her about the snail problem I've been h

Off the Map

... I caught some kind of crazy wildfire-like cold this week. It started with a horrible headache, and turned into a day in bed, with me unable to assemble my thoughts or sentences. I really wanted to start a new knitting project, but couldn't even muster enough energy to get out of bed and look through my yarn supply. Thankfully, the cold was finished in a couple of days, and I even managed to start work on this new project. I'm designing this garment, which means that I've got no guidance other than the image burning on the inside of my eyelids. As I was knitting this morning, Robb asked me about where I was headed with this particular project. "I'm in Terra Incognita ," I said. Robb laughed and remarked that I've got a well-worn passport to Terra Incognita. Later on, Robb and I went out to a local park to soak up some sunshine (and a bit more wind than we had anticipated). We stopped to grab a sandwich to share, and while we were waiting

Hometown Story

... Here's a very thoughtful radio story about Robb's hometown, where not so long ago, seven teenagers beat a Latino immigrant to death. Actually, it's about a lot more than that. Discussing prejudices isn't a comfortable activity, but I really believe that there's nothing more valuable than facing the things we would rather turn away from.

"Fichu!" ("...gesundheit!!")

... Last night, I attended a knitter's St. Patrick's Day Party. I was happy to skip the green beer, and other drunken shenanigans. Robb calls St. Patrick's Day, along with New Year's Eve, Cinco de Mayo, and Mardi Gras, one of America's great Drinking Holidays. As a former bartender, I call it Amateur's Night. I was happy for an excuse to wear the alpaca lace fichu that I knit whilst traveling last month. (Heck, I was happy for an excuse to wear my weird Victorian mother of pearl pointing finger brooch!) I got an email from my stepmother, who tells me that the sweater I knit her is a success. Anne loves sweaters, and I had determined to knit her a big warm hug of a sweater. Back when I was visiting in November, I snuck upstairs and took measurements from one of the sweaters I had seen her wearing. And then I knit and knit. I tried to knit warm feelings into every stitch, but the experience was bittersweet, because I knew that I would be giving her

Why does trying to do the right thing have to be so stinkin' complicated?

... I've been wanting to simplify my life for some time. I tend to hold onto possessions that I'm not using out of some perverse sense of obligation or thriftiness or insanity or something. But I'm working on this. I've been going through my closet, and trying to be honest about which clothes actually get worn, and which ones don't. I seem to own an awful lot of clothes from some other person's life. This person does not do manual labor for a living, like I do. This other person's torso is also a lot shorter than mine. All of her shirts ride up and expose too much skin. Because I can't seem to get to the Goodwill drop-off during business hours, I decided to leave my clothes at one of those green Gaia boxes that sprout up around the periphery of parking lots. You may know what I'm talking about -- they say that the clothes go to needy people in the developing world, or help the great barrier reef or something. The first problem was that,

This means Ewe!

... Yesterday, Robb went shopping. Now, that shouldn't be anything worth mentioning, except that he was going to a couple of big stores, and knew that he would run out of energy if he tried to walk. He took his wheelchair, and because he spent so much time sitting down, his back was in agony most of yesterday afternoon and night. This just doesn't seem fair. If the man can't walk, at least he should be able to sit comfortably in his wheelchair, right? Wrong. Robb's "sitting tolerance" is still miserably short. He is only able to manage a few minutes of sitting at a time. Luckily, the position he uses for cycling (combined with the rhythmic movement of the pedaling) is actually comfortable for Robb. So, we took advantage of the non-rainy weather and packed my bike and his trike off the Coyote Hills Regional Park. Like many California parks, Coyote Hills has a problem with non-native plants. These invasive species crowd out the native plants an

An Egg-Splanation

... For those unable to attend our upcoming Egg-Stravaganza , here's a tutorial I wrote a few years back on how to make Ukrainian-style Easter Eggs.

Coffee Advice?

... You've probably read the bit of financial advice that says that if you don't buy a Starbucks cappuccino every morning before work, you can save a whopping $812 a year. Well, the coffee machine makers seem to have heard this as well, because $812 is almost exactly what the newest models of cappuccino makers cost. Upwards of EIGHT HUNDRED DOLLARS for a consumer grade coffee maker ! I don't know about the rest of you, but Robb and I don't live in a world where we can justify such a purchase. Oh Sure. We love a good cup of cappuccino in the morning. But even love has its limits. While I was in France, our trusty Krups cappuccino maker bit the dust. Robb did his research, reading all the geeky coffee-boy discussions online, and bought a refurbished Breville coffee maker. (This thing retails for $250, but he found one for much, much less.) The coffee maker showed up at our apartment a few days after I got back from from France, and I immediately hated i

Egg-Stravaganza -- You're Invited!

... Would you like to learn to make Ukrainian-style Easter eggs? Would you like to hang out with me and Robb? On Saturday, April 4th at 1pm, we will be hosting another Eggstravaganza at the Berkeley Rep Scenic Studios at 2526 Wood Street, in West Oakland.


... Today, I resume the tests that will attempt to ascertain the cause of that strange stroke-like event I experienced prior to my father's funeral. Wish me luck. Wish my brain luck. I can't seem to adjust to the time zone that I'm in. I suppose that flying for fifteen hours, through nine time zones after a week of not being able to sleep isn't so easy to bounce back from. I keep falling asleep, with all my clothes on, around 8pm.

Do you know what's really fun?

... Going letterboxing with Robb, and discovering a previously-unvisited park that's just hopping with lizards. These two males were doing lizard push-ups, and flashing their blue markings, and puffing out their throats as a territorial display. Unfortunately, this diminutive display of masculinity was over just as soon as it began, so I didn't get very good photos. Many of the lizards looked like they had colds. I wonder what was going on with their nostrils? There were tiny baby lizards, running all over the place. But they were too swift to photograph. This is an adult female (I think -- they're darker than the males). Do you know what else is really fun? Going to " We Brought You Here to Kill You State Park " and hanging out with all the hummingbirds. Hummingbird tongues! Hummingbird tongues! Hummingbird tongues! Hummingbird tongues! Hummingbird tongues! Hummingbird tongues! Hummingbird tongues! Hummingbird tongues! Hummin

By the Sea

... Because I was still so tired and such an emotional wreck, Robb and I decided that a day at the beach would be a nice diversion. Nothing like being confronted with the difficulty of someone else's life to give some perspective on one's own. In this case, Robb and I mused on the harshness of life for the wild creatures who live along the edges of the Pacific Ocean. The Pacific Harbor Seals have had their pups and spend low tide resting (and warming up) on the rocks off-shore. Those long blobs are seals. There were easily a hundred of these animals at the beach we visited. Although the rangers had put out a clear barrier of bright orange traffic cones, and dozens of signs asking people to give the seals their room, a small number of visitors to the beach were too oblivious or too self-absorbed to pay any attention at all. They pushed right past the barricades, as if they weren't there at all. There were no lack of signs reminding beach visitors that if adult

there's more than one way to skin a ...

... It was a busy day at the therapy pool, today. All of the regulars were there, plus a small group of people none of us had seen before. The pool is a pretty chatty place. One regular, Dianne, walks laps, and when she gets to the side of the pool where I'm working out, she and I will have a brief exchange of conversation, and then she'll walk away. Part of my workout involves jogging in place (I can only do this in water; without the added buoyancy, I'm unable to support my own weight on the balls of my feet.) At one point, four of us were talking about vegan pie crusts, and the difficulty of vegan baking. This being Berkeley, the land of rich hippies and great food, there was a lot to say. All the people involved in this conversation were vegetarians. It turns out that I've been a vegetarian the shortest time among that group -- only twenty-four years. I was asked if I had a copy of The Joy of Cooking, because it had a great cereal pie crust recipe. I sai


I've been trying to keep busy lately with Lisa away. It seems like every time she leaves town for a few days, I plan some household project to surprise her with and always I'm way too ambitious. I had it in my mind this time that I would empty closets, clean out the garage, even move furniture. In short, a lot of bending, lifting and carrying–– none of which I do well, some of which are potentially hazardous. So, this time I'm concentrating on manageable projects– things I can do which require short bursts of focused, engrossing activity followed by ample time to lie down. (I'm just imagining someone reading that last line without knowing anything about me and my circumstances and deciding I am the laziest lout in the whole world). So far I can find nothing very engrossing about dusting or vacuuming, so I'm sticking to more fun projects. Friday, I experimented with making mozzarella. Lisa and I tried this the previous week but the milk we used was probably ult


... My father's favorite place to take visitors was the medieval village of Tourtour , which is officially classified as one of the loveliest villages in France . So, today, we spread his ashes at the site of the town's famous view. The sky was beautiful, with rays of light streaming through the clouds. The almond trees, the first trees to bloom in the spring, were full of bees. It was about as nice as it could have been. Afterwards, we filled up jugs at one of the many village fountains. Although this village is over two thousand feet above sea level, there is abundant water, in the form of springs, waterfalls and fountains. The water my stepmother serves at meals is water from Tourtour. I found myself thinking about the elements of water and air, as seen in the photographs above, and fire and earth, which it seems to me, relate to my father's ashes.

Taking a Break from the Bubble Wrap

... I need a mental break. I asked Robb to send me silly photos of Linguine but it turns out that he doesn't currently own a working camera.

The Tarentella

... My sister and I are beginning the difficult task of going through my father's things, and trying to decide what we can bring back to the US, and what we should leave at my stepmother's house for the moment. Our first task was sorting through the contents of his office, because these items are being stored in an unprotected damp shed. Even after a very short time in storage, everything is covered in hedgehog poo, and crawling with big hairy spiders. This orange spider ran across a book I was moving, and made me do the hopping-up-and-down Spider Dance. It may look small in this photograph, but I assure you that all of these spiders are gigantic. Blog readers know that I'm not a wimp about spiders . But these are too much for me. They're really fast-moving. We're wearing plastic grocery store bags on our hands, because everyone knows that's exactly the right protection from the horror of hairy spider feet, when you can't borrow gloves th