A View from Sierra County

Small town life and politics, lots of knitting, and travels with and without my five burros

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Location: In the Sierra Nevadas, United States

I blog about rural living and social issues, and the creativity that comes from knitting, as well as post random pictures of the Sierras and my burros. "In order to be an artist, one must be deeply rooted in the society" - Simone de Beauvoir


Friday, December 24, 2004

Merry Christmas Eve

The ham is in the oven, the pumpkin pie and fudge are cooling, the presents are wrapped and under the tree... there must be something I've forgotten! We will be having our dinner tonight, with a festive Christmas breakfast and presents in the morning. Everyone in my large family is trying to be present in the morning, in some semblance of awakeness, before heading off in different directions. Almost 26-year old son, 25-year old son and girlfriend, 21-year old daughter, 18-year old son, DH and I. We will be tracking Santa's progress through the evening, and so can you with this link: http://www.noradsanta.org/ Merry Christmas to all!

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Fabu Scarf

This is the Fabu scarf I made for my friend Suzi; good thing she doesn't know about my blog yet either. Posted by Hello

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

More knitting

With the earflap hats behind me, I went on to new knitting vistas last night, starting a yoga mat bag from Stitch and Bitch Nation. I worked on it while getting the oil changed and the Jeep lubed this afternoon, but also picked up a ball of Fabu in light purple to make my friend Suzi a scarf for Christmas, which is about half-done this evening. I also stopped by the Nevada City LYS and picked up a skein of Crystal Palace Waikiki, a light brown rayon/cottom that looks hand-painted, to combine with another neutral I have had hanging around for years (thrift store find too small to do much with, in oatmeal wool with a strand of gold metallic) as my first attempt at Ginger Luters' modules. I want to make a small scarf experimenting with her triangular motifs and see how I take to the method before trying anything grander.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Earflap hat

Here is the finished earflap hat, made from Red Heart Baby Clouds, a very dense boucle acrylic which would make a nice bulky sweater. Posted by Hello

Cody modeling his earflap hat; he loves it, but I hate the photo quality and am wishing I could knit myself a new camera as easily Posted by Hello

Crafting Together

I spent a nice afternoon at my friend Cheryl's, where I worked on finishing up my knitted presents, while the others made beaded snowflake ornaments. It was a very peaceful way to get ready for Christmas.

Cheryl and Jasmin are making beaded snowflake ornaments while I finish up my gift hats. I also made a bead garland for my miniature "feather" tree. Posted by Hello

Rana models the pink hat, almost finished... too bad the light is so poor in my office! Posted by Hello

The two earflap hats are almost finished... Rana modeled the pink hat for me last night so that I could see how the fit was turning out. I prefer to make hats from the bottom to the top for just this reason. The Sirdar Snowflake hat is a little too soft-bodied, so I am finishing it with a row of single crochet in Bernat Galaxy (which is what the stripes are), then adding I-cord in Galaxy.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Knitting Like Crazy

I have been knitting like crazy in the past two months, and have made five scarves (three for Christmas gifts), two purses awaiting felting, and finished a sweater that I had started three years ago. I started on one earflap hat today for a gift and have another to make as well before Christmas. Then, it's back to finishing up WIPs (works-in-progress).

WIP List:

Denim Jacket Cardigan for Glenn.. partly done and stored in the cedar chest.

Teapot Sweater.. light moss green cotton with intarsia design of a teapot on the back, but I can't locate it. I started this about ten years ago and the sleeves are done as well as part of the front. I hope it turns up in one storage location.

Knit Patchwork Vest .. this was a design from Knitters' Magazine that I started about eight years ago. Made the plain back and one of the fronts. I will probably finish this one eventually, but kind of dread the thought of doing the embroidery embellishments.

Chenille Pillow.. started three years ago, but my decorating scheme for our bedroom changed this summer when we finally finished it. I am looking around for a nice tank/shell pattern to channel my effort into something I can wear, because it is one of my favorite colors, a garnet-red.

Silver Mohair Jacket .. this is a sad case; all I need to do is complete the button band and finish seaming up. I just hate finishing. I plan to get back to this after Christmas.

I also have yarn set aside to make the shrug in Knitting Goddess, but decided that it would really look better if I got black for the main color, as it was originally designed. I think I will use the pale blue I have for it in a capelet that I can wear with one of my "Widders' Ball" vintage costumes, and just ordered the black yarn tonight. I would also like to make a bolero from Crystal Palaces' new "Trio" yarn; found that pattern last week while surfing for an earflap hat pattern. Of course, I ended up having to modify the pattern for the yarns I wanted to use; story of my life. Good thing I learned about pattern drafting early on in my knitting life.

The Downieville Fire Fighter bear is wearing a neckwarmer scarf made from Chinchilla for my mother-in-law, Diana. Posted by Hello

Three of the scarves I have made this fall. The one on the far left is a pattern I found on the knitty.com website Posted by Hello

Welcome to the New Gazebo

We hosted a Winter Solstice party yesterday evening as a "housewarming" for Glenn's new gazebo. He and Rex have been constructing it the past week with cedar poles cut from our property. It is situated in the grove formed by four huge, old cedar trees, and we have been using the grove as an outdoor kitchen and area to have a campfire. Our friend Ed even camped there with his family over Labor Day weekend, and came up to help with the festivities.

I cooked a 25 pound turkey and trimmings, and we all had a great evening.

The new gazebo, being initiated by (l to r) Glenn, Wayne and Dale. Special effects courtesy of Photoshop. Posted by Hello

Saturday, December 18, 2004

I wish you enough sun to keep your attitude bright.
I wish you enough rain to appreciate the sun more.
I wish you enough happiness to keep your spirit alive.
I wish you enough pain so that the smallest joys in life appear much bigger.
I wish you enough gain to satisfy your wanting.
I wish you enough loss to appreciate all that you possess.
I wish you enough hellos to get you through the final good-bye.

I don't know where this came from, one of those things that people forward to you without attribution, but I wanted to post it here, since it conveys succintly what I would wish for people. I am opposed to excess, so obvious in our culture this time of the year. If we have enough, live is much richer than if we have too much.

Winter Solstice greetings!

Friday, December 17, 2004

Happy the Donkey

I have been trying to find time to get to the issue of Happy the Donkey. Poor Happy lives in Placer County, about 70 miles from here, where he and his owners were taken to small claims court last week because their neighbor claims that Happy's braying keeps him awake at night, causing him to lose money on the job the next day. He is asking to be awarded $2100. The owners have penned Happy in, while a lawyer sitting in that day, takes the matter under consideration. Donkeys make excellent livestock guards, and Happy's owners have suffered with him penned in, losing chickens to coyotes.

Why is this important to me? Well, first because I have five donkeys, who love to greet us with their voices, just like humans and many other animals. So far, my neighbors have seen this as one more sign that they live in a rural place, but what am I to do if an intolerant person moves into the neighborhood? A donkey can hear another donkey bray up to two miles away, and I'm not sure how well we humans can hear in comparison.

Secondly, it is important to me that those of us who live in rural places are able to maintain our cultural traditions and livelihoods in the face of an onslaught of urbanization throughout the West. Back in about 1990, while I was working as a paralegal in the Sierra County Counsel's office, we drafted a "Right to Farm" ordinance at the request of a local mining company executive, which passed into law. There were several such laws passed in rural counties throughout California, including neighboring Nevada County, and in other western states as well. Since then, the 2000 U.S. Census has identified some of those counties as "cappuchino" counties, where urbanization has changed attitudes about life and work, as well as created a demand for a different lifestyle, including coffee shops and high home prices. Situated in eastern Yuba county, almost at the boundary with Sierra county, does not necessarily give me the long-term protection I desire. I only have a four-acre parcel, although I am fortunate to have thirty empty and almost undevelopable acres behind me, and Forest Service land beyond that.

I would hate to see the neighbor prevail over Happy and his owners, as that would create a precedent that would certainly lead to more suits against people who want to co-exist with animals. Crystal Ward (www.asspenranch.com) has circulated a plea for help and I update my blog once a decision has been returned.

This is our baby burro, Asteroid, at birth on 18 May 2004. Mama April is in the background Posted by Hello

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Christmas greetings!

My brother Jay and I visit Santa back in 1959. Posted by Hello

Raffle Prizes

Some of the snowman raffle prizes for tonight's party. The large Snowwoman was my gift at this year's Devil Mountain Brigade Christmas Dinner and sings "Santa, Baby"; tacky but chic! Posted by Hello

A blur of meetings

The past few days have been a blur as we worked hard to be prepared to argue to the School Board not to close Pliocene Ridge (meeting was Tues. night), sat through hours of the meeting (I did knit a scarf up as a Christmas gift while I sat through the meeting), and were put on hold further when the Board decided to postpone the decision till January, when they meet on the other side of the County in Loyalton.

Yesterday was the First Five Commission meeting, which was more relaxed and upbeat. We were celebrating receiving a State Library Grant for the Loyalton Library and Childrens' Center, which will match grant funding already received from the California Department of Education for the childrens' center portion of the building. While we are excited that construction can begin, we also discussed our anxiety about raising funds to cover operating costs.

Today's big event will be the Winter Party at Pliocene Ridge School.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Toy Drive at The Connection in SF

The annual ECV Chapter 1849 toy drive hosted at The Connection, a bar in South San Francisco, was a rousing success, with over $800 raised to donate to Saint Anthony's Dining Room (http://www.stanthonysf.org/news/pressroom.html) and several barrels of new toys collected. Here are a few photos.

Tom Morris, owner of The Connection, Father Bob from Saint Anthony's Dining Room, and my husband, NGH Glenn Sundstrom converse just before the parade Posted by Hello
Glenn, Mrs. Claus, Santa himself, me - Sat. 12/11/04 Posted by Hello

Parade up Mission Street in honor of the Toy Drive and escorting Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus to the event. Posted by Hello

Glenn in front of the cute tree inside the bar. Besides being the Chapter 1849 Official Watering Hole in SF, the bar is a local hangout for lots of people who still live where they grew up in south San Francisco. Posted by Hello

Friday, December 10, 2004

Getting ready for Christmas

Nikki and I hosted the Santa's Secret Shop for the Downieville students to buy gifts for their family and friends at lunch today. The Children's Center did the same program last year, but we aren't maing as much money from it this year. People around here just don't seem to have as much to spend this holiday season. I bought all of the "My Little Ponies" left over and a few other toys to take to the Toy Drive that ECV Chapter 1849 is hosting at The Connection (a bar in the Mission District of San Francisco) tomorrow.

I don't usually go much further than Sierra County with my involvement in charities. In the eighteen years I have been here, I have volunteered on average 5-10 hours a week, and since I have been teaching, I probably spend between $20 and $50 a month on local fundraisers. I pay attention to bigger concerns out in the rest of the world and rely on the Internet for the news, but my time and money is pretty much used up by the time I am done supporting my local community each month. It is particularly tough to watch as this region falls onto increasingly harder economic times. Even though the main parking lot in Downieville is packed each summer day, now it is virtually empty. Tourism is NOT sustainable!

Thursday, December 09, 2004

sun, finally

Well, the sun has deigned to shine, lifting the mood, which has been pretty grim around here. Looks like our county is imploding on itself as land values outstrip wages and decent jobs are going unfilled, but nobody can afford to move in.

Yesterday, we experienced first-hand the very real effects of cuts to county services... the students from the Alleghany area were late getting to school because the road wasn't plowed. The Public Works Department has been saying since the summer that they wouldn't have the money this year.... guess we will be more thankful than ever for a sunny day to get out and take care of things this winter.