Things I have tried

My purple SKB is not yet finished. Last night I was certain I could finish up the neck trim and then proceed to the sleeves the following morning; but it didn’t work. Instead I ended up ripping out everything I’d done on the neck trim and starting over. Seems I can’t quite work out the difference between RS (right side) and WS (wrong side). I kept looking at my rows, highly suspicious that something was wrong, but I still wasn’t certain until I’d gone back and forth four times.

Now I’m back where I began a couple of days ago, and once I figure out which direction I’m supposed to knit I should be all right.

In the meantime, I did manage to finish up the ice pack sleeve I mentioned recently. I found some buttons to sew on it and I futzed around until I had two buttonholes (or reasonable facsimiles thereof). It does a good job of holding the ice pack, but I may have to reposition the buttons if I’m aiming to keep it snugly on my upper arm. As an experiment it’s fairly successful; and for using the ice pack somewhere other than my arm it works wonderfully.

Those buttons look like beady little eyes, don’t they?!

My arm is still bothering me, and I’m still complaining. While I have been using ice (once a day) that’s about all I’ve done to self treat, so I’m really not very surprised that I’m still having trouble. Even though I have to be careful about lifting heavy objects or putting stress on my arm, I’m not really bothered enough at the moment to take it seriously. I’m more concerned about the chronic and recurrent right knee pain — and that’s because unlike the arm pain, my knee pain can prevent me from riding my bike.

The trouble with my knee is not tendinitis, it’s more like chondromalacia. Long ago the doctor gave me some exercises to strengthen the muscles and ligaments holding my kneecap in place; I tend to do the exercises only when my knee hurts and I want to ride. Otherwise I usually forget all about doing them. But lately I’m trying to remember. I want my knees in good shape — along with the rest of me — because I’m preparing for a cycling event coming up in a couple of weeks.

It’s called Ride for a Reason, and it’s a fully supported event for all ages and abilities. It takes place locally and consists of participants riding circuits around Lake Natoma on the paved bike paths (see my page entitled The Beauty In Your Own Backyard). It’s not a race, and riders can choose to ride as many or as few circuits as they’re comfortable with. We’re also encouraged to do fundraising, but it’s not required.

The RFAR benefits the Lance Armstrong Foundation, the UC Davis Cancer Center, and the Davis Phinney Foundation, which is involved in Parkinson disease research. That last one holds a special meaning to me, as my dad died of Parkinson’s in July 2000.

The back of my tee shirt from 2006.

The very first RFAR event took place in August 2006, and I was excited to be a part of it because I’m so familiar with the bike trails around the lake. The Big Guy was out of town, so I went by myself. Being quite painfully shy (I’ve been diagnosed with Social Anxiety Disorder), I did feel sort of uncomfortable when the ride portion was over and lunch was served — I was literally the only person there without a companion or group of friends. I forced myself to stay anyway, and I was very proud of myself for doing so.

Where’s Waldo? . . . I’m in the very top right, wearing a light blue cycling cap.

The Big Guy was also very proud of me for taking the initiative and following through, so the next year (2007) he planned to go with me. Unfortunately, our plans fell through and neither of us were able to take part. But this year we’re definitely doing it. We’ll be riding our tandem, and I’m looking forward to having a great time. Which is why I really want to be sure my knee is in good shape.

The reason the Big Guy wasn’t around to do the ride in 2006 was because he was far away on a mountain with his bow and arrow, stalking some mule deer. Every August he and a good buddy go off into the woods hunting for big bucks (the kind with four legs); usually they come home empty handed but with some great stories — like the time they unwittingly put their sleeping bags on a game trail and the Big Guy woke up in the pitch black night with a porcupine on his head.

In preparation for this year’s trip he decided to rent a car last weekend and drive up to scout some likely areas. We have perfectly good vehicles (Chevies, every one), but they’re all close to 40 years old and for a 6-hour round trip he would prefer the comfort of a late-model sedan. We have an Enterprise office in walking distance of our house, and this is how we “splurge” — two or three times a year we’ll rent a car for the weekend and go to the coast, to the mountains, to see the Tour of California, or sometimes just drive around town. When the weekend is over we return the car and realize that, no matter how nice new cars are, we’re happy with what we’ve got. They’re paid for, they’re reliable, and if they need repairs, the Big Guy can do the work himself.

Anyway . . . he took his scouting trip on Saturday, and Sunday the car was all mine. Great, except I had nowhere to go! I finally cruised over to Barnes and Noble and — at long last — picked up a copy of Stephanie Pearl-McPhee‘s latest book, Things I Learned From Knitting . . . Whether I Wanted To or Not. I also very carefully selected another book.



I’ve owned a Kenmore sewing machine for at least 8 years. Now I’m thinking it might be good to learn how to use it. When I was growing up, my mom sewed clothes like crazy, and it always fascinated me how she could take a pattern made of tissue paper, cut out pieces of fabric, and put them together to create a dress or a suit or whatever she wanted. I’ve always intended to learn how to sew but never quite gotten round to it. At least I have the machine.


Now if I could only find what I did with the bobbin! I did show the book to my mom, and she seemed quite impressed with it. I admit I felt a little discouraged when she clued me in that the price of patterns has gone up quite a lot — I can still remember when they were 25 cents (although I probably shouldn’t have admitted to that).

I had to do a bit of digging to uncover my sewing machine; oddly enough, it was nearly invisible underneath several bags full of yarn. These included two large black KIPer bags from Knit Picks and an old laptop bag large enough to hold six modern notebook computers. All these occupy one corner of my work room, along with my folding stepper exercise machine and a 30-odd-year-old quartz heater given to me by a friend when she left California to return to the East Coast.

And on the walls I have some of my favorite photos. One is of Pinkie (framed and presented to me by my MIL as a Christmas gift — the photo, not the dog); another I took on a trip to San Francisco with the above-mentioned friend.

Near Fisherman’s Wharf

And the other, which I had enlarged and mounted in a 20×30 wooden frame, is a photograph of the front steps and doorway of the Hart mansion (built in 1907) in downtown Sacramento. I’m not entirely satisfied with the quality of the picture, so I’m not reproducing it here; I used a cheap point-and-shoot camera and snapped it in a hurry. But I love the shot, and I’m absolutely obsessed with the house. I’ve since gone back (more than once) with my Nikon Coolpix 5700 — always with the hope of improving my photography skills and capturing as many angles of the house as possible.

Taken from the other side of H Street

This house has become rather infamous thanks to several rumors available on the internet. Some people insist that it’s haunted and will tell you there was at least one murder inside its walls. They may claim to see faces at the windows of the empty house or a strange feeling of being watched or followed. I personally don’t believe any of these stories (even though one thing I like about the house is its somewhat spooky exterior). I mainly love the house because of its connection to Sacramento history and because I’ve always adored Victorian architecture.

Art Deco window near the front door

Note the carved lion over the entrance to the porch

Ever since I first saw this place in the early 1970s I’ve been drawn back to it again and again; I’ve fantasized about living in the house (in 2002 the asking price was $1.2 million, so, yes — it is a fantasy) and every time I get the chance to make the 30-minute drive into Sacramento’s Boulevard Park neighborhood, I’m there, camera in hand, wishing and hoping for just a little peek inside that front door.

I promise that, should I ever find myself in possession of a spare $1-2 million, I’ll be getting in touch with the agent and making the Hart mansion mine . . . all mine.

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