Saturday, December 31, 2011

Busting some moves

During the past two weeks, gears aligned and a dance to the groove of the times kicked in.

A gift of many large kumquats (could they be calomondins?) was received, thank you IL. They were home- grown and hand-picked about 100mi from the Bay Area. 3Q were washed, soaked, then cooked in a heavy syrup that included honey.

Yields and their composition will be filled in when I retrieve my notes (I hope I took notes). 6-1C + 3-1.5C+1.5&1C syrup. In 2-2L jars: 2.5#+1large meyer lemon+_pinot grigio+_gin+1/2C light rum+_sugar. Cranberry-kumquat sauce in 1L+1Cjar.

Experiments in bag-making were resurrected and came together, complete with labels. I decided to keep one for myself.

These hats were inspired by Wurm on Ravelry and Starmore’s patterns.
Limoncello and cherried brandy have been quietly working their magic for nearly six months, and they were decanted and bottled. The cherries were not going to be consumed in one day so I topped them off with more brandy, of course.
And on Christmas day, the board was presented for the table of 14. Butterflied, brined, and roasted turkey, with potatoes and onions instead of stuffing. Thanks to everyone for their contributions of cured salmon, honey-baked ham, green beans, and desserts.

Dessert did not sit still or last long enough to get photographed. Note that next year we will need more lime pies.
The next day, "boxing day," I looked for the small pretty boxes that enclosed gifts. I wondered what to do. Projects were completed yet others waited. I’d finished reading a book, too. The list I make for myself for reference during these unoccupied times suddenly seemed overwhelming.

Eventually I decided to start a small work, adapted from L. Upitis’s Latvian Mittens. I had to rack my memory for the demonstration of multicolored and braided knitting given by B.B.Reinsel several years ago during a Stitches West class. My memory failed me so I went back to basics, held yarn like a 7-year old and slogged through the 3-color portion of the cuff. I kept the floats on the outside and had to consciously remind myself to relax, which is not typically relaxing for me. Ok so it was an exercise. I decided to cut later for the thumb.

This was completed on the 29th and turned out ok, outside and inside. I’m accepting that this may be a unique (i.e. mate-less) mitten without a thumb; it has a lot of thoughts imbued in it, though, and that’s what this is all about for me anyway.

I still had a lot of giant kumquats. So I started chopping them up. In the scale of citrus, giant kumquats are still very small compared to small lemons – maybe 4 kumquats to a lemon, volume-wise. Even with my resolve, chopping these guys became tedious, and I marveled at the number of seeds they had. I had to focus so that I would not inadvertently cut myself.
Eventually I had 5C chopped but the backlog didn’t seem to diminish. So I juiced a lot of what remained. I boiled the peels for 10min and let them soften for a day. The pectin was significant so I added 1C of the squeezed juice and 1/2C water before measuring, adding an equal amount of sugar, cooking to jam state (approx. 20min) and putting up in jars.
Yields 7C with flavor so intense it could go into 4oz jars but not anything larger than 8oz jars.

Happy New Year! It’s time to think of some resolutions and commitments that I can live with.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Monday, December 5, 2011

Design and Art

I saw this and was reminded of that.

for Miami Beach, Courtesy Zaha Hadid.
at LACMA, "untitled" by Robert Therrien

Friday, December 2, 2011

December captions

that little friend

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Blue Indigo Cosmos

AVFKW held a celebratory indigo dip in early November to commemorate their first anniversary in their new shop.

Prepped yarn or fiber or fabric is slowly immersed into the hot indigo pot.

Work is done while the dipped items "cook."

Blue Indigo Cosmos.

Monday, November 21, 2011

4 shades of quince

Jam: 4-5 pounds were washed, cut up and cores were composted. Add zest strips from one lemon, add water short of the top, and cook for about 30 min, then run through a food mill. Measure 5-1/2C max at a time, add 90-100% sugar by volume, and 1/4C lemon juice. Cook to jam state for nearly an hour, put in jars with ½” headspace and process in boiling water for 10min, rest for 5min before removing.

Batch 1 (3pints) was a nice red color. Batch 2 (2pints) was lighter, and Batch 3 (2C) was lighter still. Each successive batch was on the stove for less time (was I getting impatient? Yes.) – note to self: cook longer for deeper color.
Colors (from the left): a stack of membrillo, jam batch 1, jam batch 3 on top of jam batch 2.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Little things

I'm working on little things.

I'm making small jars of jelly, small batches of jam, small swatches of knitted stitches with thin needles and thinner yarn, and a small foray into a hat. As I read the hat pattern I think of two or three ways to make it. But the problem is that I'm so busy thinking that I'm not doing. So I take the leap and "just do it", knowing that no outcome is ever going to be realized unless it is started. I take notes as I move along. I've been misled and seen failure too. Those things are put to the side or get torn and ripped apart.

And occasionally I'll take the "hair of the dog"(1) with a wild belief that I'll be inoculated.

(1) hairs of the dog that bit you applied to the wound will prevent evil consequences

Friday, November 18, 2011

Plaid Friday: t minus 7

In addition to supporting local, you can support indie. Plaid Friday is the day after Thanksgiving when you (and yours who are lounging around) can go browse and support an independent retail merchant.

Can you walk, bike, or take public transportation there? drive less than 10 miles there?

Do you know who the retail proprietor is? or do you know that if you needed to speak with them, they would be responsive to your request?

Is the merchant somewhat knowledgeable about what they offer you? either about the source of the item, how to best use it, or other resources? are they helpful?

I'm going to support places where there are faces, names, and intelligence behind the counter.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Depth in a flight

Davitt Moroney performed Bach's 6 French Suites this afternoon on a "flight" of harpsichords in Hertz Hall, Berkeley. They were grand: 3 of them on the stage, each made by John Phillips (Berkeley) in 1995, 1998, and 2010, and based on famous antiques by Ruckers(Antwerp)-Blanchet(Paris)-Taskin(Paris) in the late 17th-18th century, Dumont (Paris) in 1707, and Grabner (Dresden) in 1722, respectively.

Moroney spoke about the relationship between composer, country, musical style, and instrument. He also spoke about the relationship between composer, performer, and maker of instruments and cited his own long friendship with Phillips that started when they were both in graduate school in the department of music decades ago.

Each harpsichord was tuned slightly differently, resulting in three "well-tempered" tunings conducive to a pair of suites.

The suites were nearly orchestral at times.  A lute accompanied a melody that sounded like an oboe.  A chamber group played minuets and trios.  A full baroque orchestra played a fanfare.  I am partial to Sarabandes, and the one in the 3rd b-minor Suite was especially transportive.  Moroney's scholarship and musicianship contributed greatly - the ornamentation in the 6th E-major Suite was especially rich, verging on the Italian style, as Moroney mentioned before he performed it.

There was depth to time while I sat and listened and focussed on these works.  It was an experience to remember and savor.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Monday, November 7, 2011

Blushing in small batches

7 large ones are about 5 pounds. Bought on Thursday, boiled and drained Friday and overnight, jelly Saturday, membrillo Sunday late afternoon and evening.

Jelly: strain through clean dishtowel. 5c juice + 4c sugar + 1/2 lemon juice yields 5c jelly. Test for set on a cold plate. Continues to jell one day later. 10min processing, 5min before removing from pot, 8-1/2c total.

Membrillo (Paste): Run solids through food mill with a coarse disk.
3c solids + 3c sugar + 1/2 to whole small lemon's juice yields 3c.

Bring to boil then cook over very low slow heat for nearly an hour (until stiff). Brush veg oil in hot jar, allow 1/2" headspace, remove bubbles and smooth off the top. 10min processing, 5min before removing from pot. 8c total.

Slow food blushes as it heats up.

Thursday, November 3, 2011


A shot brings back the lilting melody of women's voices reading poetry full of imagery, alchemy, and spirits. Some of the poems were inspired by the simple desire to use a particular word.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Italian & Polynesian fireworks

Apollo’s Fire Baroque Orchestra, with Philippe Jaroussky, countertenor, presented baroque “fireworks” by Handel & Vivaldi in Hertz Hall In Berkeley. Indeed the first piece sung by Jaroussky was fire out of the gate, with “a lot of fast notes” executed in a pure clear voice. His demeanor was relatively calm, considering the work his body (diaphragm and vocal chords) was doing. Wonderful poise and presentation. Beautiful musicianship – he is relatively young and I can only imagine the depth that will develop in the future. Breathtaking technique that was on par with virtuoso string or wind playing. The vocal agility was matched by the baroque orchestra who, despite some tuning challenges, delivered tight ensemble playing through fast and furious passages throughout the concert.

Jeannette Sorrell, Music Director of the orchestra, mentioned that the collaboration with Jaroussky arose from mutual admiration of each other's You-Tube videos. Jaroussky was offering a free download through and his work can be found on

Although it is not the primary diversion that it was in the 18th century, and it does not attract the maddening crowds, there’s still nothing that compares to the drama, excitement, and transportive power of live opera. Or live music.

Or live music, singing, drumming and dancing. The rest of the day and evening was spent in rehearsal: playing instruments, dancing fast, dancing slow, singing, and further addressing love, rage, and sorrow.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Early music in a modern museum

This afternoon, while walking on my way from one place to another, I happened to enter the Berkeley Art Museum and heard vocal and instrumental music. The University Chamber Chorus with early-period instrumentalists were performing dramatic work by Henry Purcell written in the late 1600s. The acoustics in this concrete building are very live and suit this type of music. Sends chills up the spine.

The Berkeley Art Museum, designed by Mario Ciampi in the mid-1960s and located on Bancroft Avenue just west of College Avenue, continues to excite me. Every time I see the building, enter and experience the space and see the exhibits, I am invigorated. And the space - well, it is sculpture in itself, yet allows the art within it to be shown on its own merit.

Music, art, sculpture, architecture and structure - blew my mind.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Shakeout 20Oct2011, 2:41pm, M4.0
October 20th was the Great California Shakeout Exercise.

The main goal of the ShakeOut is to get Californians prepared for major earthquakes, so use the ShakeOut as an opportunity to learn what to do before, during, and after an earthquake. Visit for tips on how to prepare, protect, and recover. Another excellent resource is 20Oct2011, 8:14pm, M3.8
Prepare: Anchor, plan, cache, assess and reinforce home

Survive: drop-cover-holdon

Recover: assess-triage, communicate. 22Oct2011, 00:45, M2.5
The Hayward fault decided to participate too.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

What she said

If you don't have anything nice to say don't say anything at all. Was that supposed to include things that I'm not happy with or expressing boundaries and rules that I can navigate in?

Not much being said, yet so much being said too. Too much tumult and noise these days.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Grand Piano, Go Bears

Tonight, piano was played in the Grand style by Yefim Bronfman at Zellerbach Hall in Berkeley. I have not heard a program of Brahms, Liszt, and Prokofiev played like this in many many years. Brahms' f minor Sonata and a selection of Liszt's 3 Transcendental Etudes provided a platform for Bronfman to show the broad range and stamina he has. His technique is incredible, his voicing poetic, and his strength is especially evident in the gossamer passages. The second half of the program was Prokofiev's 8th Sonata. Bronfman tossed out a few Chopin etude encores to the standing audience. Pity that the hall was not full - this is a reflection of the business of classical music and dwindling audience base, which is further diminished by the difficult economy. It was a privilege to hear Bronfman.

I emerged from the hall and saw a crowd of blue and gold striped rugby shirts, the flash of tuba bells, and trumpets waving side to side. Hands clapped overhead in unison and the band sudddenly broke into Dave Mathews' "ants marching". Saxophones ran around the building, cheerleaders danced, and the striped shirts cheered and danced. How can a body stand still with all that going on? The Cal Marching Band played a few more songs, then closed with the Cal Song as flag bearers on the student union balcony waved big Cal flags in dramatic swoops. The band wandered off as they sang their closing song, occasionally punctuating the song with phrases played on their trumpets, clarinets, or drums. The tuba choir started to play together - the standard oompa bass with a tune above it - I've always associated tubas with musical elephants. Brass sounds good.

The evening was warm and the moon was full. It was late but the night felt young. It was all good.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


Steve Jobs, 1955 - 2011 (today).

We knew this would happen yet it is a shock: the real loss.

The loss of a peer in my generation. The loss of a peerless one who pursued a vision and eventually is known by his relentless pursuit of ideas. One who demanded commitment, rigor, and discipline to the level that he was committed. One who presented ideas and products in a compelling package and presentation. One who revolutionized the way information is conveyed in format and media, and remarkably, consequently transformed the way we now expect to receive and use information and data. He became (?!? it is difficult to think in the Past Tense) - he is the icon of realized vision.

Apple, Next, Pixar, Apple.

Data. Media. Products.

Design matters. Vision matters.

Friday, September 30, 2011


Got some major work done about a month ago. This stuff is buried and takes time and labor to get to. I like my mechanics because they take pictures and share them with me as they tell me what's going on with my car.


I was in Las Vegas at a conference for a few days, and I got out on the strip one evening. I have very low tolerance for the scene but thought that this was nice in its understated (compared to the visual noise around it) manner.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

What I deserve

From the Kundert: 12g of bfl, silk, alpaca, shetland. 3ply on the right and 2ply on the left. Source: Phatfiber's September box ("forest"),

Preceded by hula practice and a day of engineering business.

All to commemorate the passage of a prime number year.

2 cuffs ...

...or why I now knit one pair at the same time, instead of one cuff first and the second cuff two years later with the same yarn and same needles.

Saturday, September 17, 2011


So! Allegiances were declared, existing contracts terminated, and new relationships formed. Why is it, then, that these people -- who made the declarations, terminated and initiated new connections -- are the ones sighing and bemoaning their situation?

Thursday, September 15, 2011


Recently encountered:

1. How could words no longer suffice if words affected her so deeply? Words were how information was received; words were used to respond to words that she read. Some words were daggers. Other words could only be spoken. She used words to carry herself away; she read words to be carried away with. Words formed the basis of understanding, and she justified actions with a carefully constructed set of words.

2. Blaine collected particular items - they were pictures, slips of paper, figurines - ephemera that represented the spirits of people she was with. She surrounded herself with the relics and curated them. Some got dusty, fell off the shelves or disappeared over time.

3. People marched from one place to another. Well, sometimes they marched. At other times, they walked. Some limped. From one destination to another, whether it was in the dustbowl, the desert, or across the country, throngs of people carried what they valued: children, guns, family histories, cattle, packages held together with scraps of rope. They traveled slowly. The side of the path was strewn with discarded items. Occasionally a person chose to step aside from the moving mass and watch the procession proceed in its own direction.

4. Good story, wasn't it? ...where I walked out of there slowly, with my dignity intact? Well, I fell apart a few days later. But Lenny caught me. He unfolded me and reminded me of who I was. He knew what I was made of, and he let me be that person.

NW India in NW Oakland

"Threads of Transition, Patterns of Change: Rabari Textiles of India", September 9 - December 7, 2011, is in the gallery of A Verb for Keeping Warm, curated by Kristine Vejar from her Fulbright research in 2001.

It is particularly interesting to track the development of these textiles within the context of events of the time: the January 26, 2001, M7.7 earthquake in Gujarat, India, the September 11, 2001 attacks in the US, and the flow of funding through non-profits instead of directly to communities. The acceptability or rejection of some techniques were decreed by elders as a response to behaviors associated with the sociological structure of arranged marriages. This paragraph is too dense with information. Rather than parse it out, I refer you to this article that covers the subject well.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


McPhee, John. Assembling California, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York, 1993.

A map of California comes in handy.

Sunday, August 28, 2011


because I can.

But I've chosen not too, opting to cook for myself instead, guided at various times by Julia Child, Marcella Hazan, MFK Fisher, and my mother. The voices are all consistent with "Tonight, Lucullus dines with Lucullus." Greens, Lentils, Chicken, Wine.

Others will look for and point out what I can do better. If you don't act, the answer is always "no". Who will buoy and support me? Does it matter?, I ask myself. Tonight I am satisfied with my day and my self.

Fentons can come another time.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Grand Lake Proverbial

Grand Lake - modelled by AVFKW in the garden
About one month after casting on, I am wearing this, AVFKW's Proverbial number 4, the last of the 2010 season, "Grand Lake" designed by Kristen Hanley Cardozo. AVFKW's Floating yarn in "2 Gems and a Pearl", 70/20/10 Alpaca/cashmere/silk, is pink, tender, and yields to the touch. I've never felt anything like this yarn before, which has resulted in prolonging this knitting experience - there's been no reason to rush this project. The finished shawl/scarf feels incredible when worn on the skin.
Grand Lake - modelled by AVFKW in the garden
Grand Lake - modelled by AVFKW

I learned to rely on my ability to read charts, make nupps and cast them off ("P5 tog" is not easy for me), and use a stretchy* bind off with the same size needle (and looser than normal tension - "loose" is typically not in my personality so this is a relative term) used to knit the body. Very clever design feature to use nupps to provide some weight at the edge of this piece.

Okay Kristine, I'm ready now, bring on the first delivery of Proverbial Club 2011 in October!

*in this case, on a predominantly purl row: P1,** P1, transfer both stitches from R needle to L needle, then P2tog**, repeat from **.