Sunday, September 28, 2008

North State Symphony Season Begins

Rachmaninov cd cover What a perfect day this has been!  It started with a walk in the park (note: Fall is approaching - go to the mountains soon), and a lovely breakfast with Sunday paper after the park.

In the early afternoon we went to hear the Symphony's Music Director and Conductor Kyle Wiley Pickett give his pre-concert chat about today's season opener of the North State Symphony.  Today's program:

Glazunov - Bacchanale from Autumn (The Seasons)
Brahms - Symphony No. 3, op. 90, F major
Rachmaninoff - Piano Concerto No. 3, op. 30, D minor
Jon Nakamatsu, Piano

Wiley Pickett gives an informative and entertaining talk before each concert.  I recommend going.  This is the first time I took advantage of this free lecture, and I think I'll do it again.  (Quality knitting time with lots of elbow room.)

The first two items on today's program were fine, and I think the orchestra is once again improved, even in that black hole of sound, Laxson Auditorium at CSU Chico.  The orchestra is so good now that they can play with a world class performer like Jon Nakamatsu, today's pianist on the Rachmaninoff piece.

I've never heard a classical pianist, live, who is as good as Jon Kakamatsu.  We were lucky to have seen and heard him.  It was an indescribable experience.  I was there.  I watched and heard, and still I can't connect Mr. K's hand movements with the music I was hearing.  Mr. K is really, really fast, and really, really good.  Just amazing!

Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 3 is the music at the center of the movie "Shine", starring Geoffrey Rush.

Have a good afterlife, Paul

Paul Newman in hat My fellow Aquarian, Paul Newman, has moved on to the next stage.  I wish him well.

What a shock to hear that he was dead.  83 is a good long time to live, but... I thought he'd be in movies until I died.  He's been there all my movie-going life.

I will surely miss him.



Paul Newman and cig

Paul Newman and Joanne

 Paul Newman and barn

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Christmas Stocking Progress

I don't know when I reported last on J's Christmas stocking, but here's the progress so far. When I gave this as a gift (unfinished with a promise) I thought November was ages away. Well... I'm going to have to do some serious knitting to finish this stocking as well as all the things I have going for the Friends of the Library Craft Fair the same month.

I wish I were a faster knitter!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Southwest Colorado

The next vacation will be to Southwest Colorado, around Durango.

We'll ride a train, visit ruins, mountains, Telluride, and generally have some fun.

The last rental car was a Chevy Malibu - worst car I ever drove.  I'm voting for an all-wheel SUV next :-)

Boho Beret is done

It was incredibly easy to knit, after I got past the bad day that caused me to make 5 attempts at the cast on.

It's very slouchy, which is what I wanted.  I made the smaller version and it still is big enough for my medium head.  Next up is a cowl made of matching yarn.  Will it ever get cold enough to wear this in Chico?

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Tubular Cast On

I was having a particularly brain-dead day the other day, and that was the day I chose to do a tubular cast on for a slouchy tam (in Ravelry) I'm making.  First I tried the way I know and love:

Knitted Tams, by Mary Rowe

This book has a really easy tubular cast on.  The brim of the tam looks professional and has good stretch.  It started out with waste yarn.

So, I cast on, worked some rows of the brim, took out the waste yarn, all while watching mediocre television.  It was then I noticed that I had dropped a stitch, dropped a stitch all the way down to the cast on.  I was faced with several long floats and no idea how to reconstruct the cast on.  So I frogged it.  I decided (why?) to try a different tubular cast on which might be easier and not involve starting out with waste yarn:

Knitter's Handbook, by Monste Stanley

This book is my favorite reference.  (I used to have Principles of Knitting, but sold it for big bucks and don't miss it.)  It has a tubular cast on which produces the same results as Mary Rowe's version, but requires no waste yarn.  The cast on is easy ... but(!) when I tried to join in a circle for the tam brim without twisting, well I just couldn't do it.  This would be my tubular cast on of choice if I was going to knit flat and not have to worry about twisting cast ons.

Once again, I cast on, worked some rows of the brim, took out the waste yarn - only this time I was in a quiet room in full sunlight with some jazz music in the background instead of bad tv.  This [dark] picture is before removing the waste yarn.  When working circularly,  this tubular cast on cannot be beat.

I've only told you about two of the cast on attempts.  Actually there were about 5, if you count the ones that had the wrong number of stitches.  I could not even count to ten this day.  Thank God that day is gone!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Weak Kidney Cat Food

Update 9/3/08:  Ruso has stopped eating this food.  He loved it for about two months and then... not having it any more.  He sniffs it and then backs away - would rather starve, thank you very much.  Also, he's losing hair, which may or may not be associated with eating this diet.  Now I have a bunch of trout in the freezer!  ... off to look up human recipes for trout.  The bottom line is Ruso no longer recommends this recipe.

Originally posted July 3, 2008:

When Ruso went to the vet for a cyst removal, the vet told me he had a mild gum disease and I should have his teeth cleaned.  Well, actually I didn't go to the vet for a cyst removal.  I went for regular shots, checkup and maybe drain the cyst.  It's like going shopping for one or two things in the grocery story and coming home with two bags full.  Anyway, a blood test is required for older cats.  (Ruso is 10+ years old.)

Since Ruso is terrified of the cat carrier, I left him over night and picked him up the next day.  When I was waiting to pay the bill (more than $500, less than $1000, should I feel lucky?), the vet told me that Ruso's blood count showed a higher than normal count of something, indicating he has weak kidneys.  They suggested some special cat food that I know Ruso won't eat because he's way, way too fussy.

The Ultimate Pet Food Guide: Everything You Need to Know about Feeding Your Dog or Cat
by Liz Palika  (copyright 2008)

Read more about this title...  (link to

I checked this book out of the library.  Apparently there is some controversy about whether a cat with kidney problems should get more, or less, protein in his diet.  This book recommends more.   The vet recommended less.  Who knows?  Since the copyright in the book is 2008, I decided that the book's information was current.  Who knows?

A recipe for Ruso's old kidneys:  Chicken and Trout, page 228.  This recipe makes one day's worth of food for a 10 pound cat.  I'm not cooking chicken and trout every day for my spoiled boy, so here is my recipe for a week's worth. 

I give Ruso 2 tablespoons of IAM's multi-cat dry food and three-four tablespoons of Chicken and Trout at breakfast and dinner.  He did have diarrhea for a few days at first, but he's fine now.  You should probably introduce the food into his diet gradually, not all at once like I did.

Chicken and Trout cat food for a week

  • 3 hard boiled, peeled whole eggs

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts *

  • 1 cleaned, whole trout *

  • wheat grass (cut about 1 inch off the top of a 4" square pot) **

  1. Get out everything you need:
    - food processor (optional)
    - paper towel
    - rubber gloves (optional) ***
    - big bowl for mixing
    - tablespoon measure
    - cutting board and sharp knife
    - about 7-8 sandwich bags unzipped
    - a gallon-sized freezer bag unzipped
    - permanent marker for freezer bag
    - microwave cooking dish with cover
    - disinfecting wipes

  2. Boil the eggs and set aside to cool.  Peel.  About those rubber gloves - wear 'em if you've got 'em.

  3. Rinse and cook the trout.  I put the entire trout in a casserole dish  with a sprinkle of water and cook on 60% power for three minutes.  Set aside to cool, then take the head, skin, and fins off.  Remove all the bones.

  4. Rinse the chicken and cut it into about 3/4" square pieces.   Cook.  I cook in the microwave on 60% for about 7 minutes, stirring once mid-way through the cooking cycle.  Set aside to cool.

  5. Wrap the wheat grass in a paper towel and dampen it.  Cook the wheat grass in the microwave for about 20 seconds at 100%.  Set aside to cool.  Chop into smaller pieces.

  6. Chop everything in the food processor, or you can dice by hand.  I put about a third of ea. ingredient in the f.p. and chop in three batches.

  7. Mix ingredients together in a big bowl.  Put about 8 tablespoons in a sandwich bag.  This is about a day's worth of food for my Ruso.  This recipe should yield 7-8 bags.  Put those bags in a gallon-sized freezer bag and write "cat food" on the gallon-sized bag with a permanent marker.  I reuse the gallon-sized bags.

    Freeze food you aren't going to use in the next day or so.  (Take a day's worth out of the freezer and defrost in the fridge a day before you need it.)

  8. Wash all those tools in hot, soapy water.  Use a disinfectant cloth on the counter and all the surfaces you touched with gooey hands because you forgot to get something out in step 1.  I'm probably a little OCD about handling raw meat, but I guess it doesn't hurt to be safe.

*  I shop at Costco and buy whole trout and boneless/skinless checken breasts.  I freeze the trout individually wrapped in aluminum foil.  I defrost trout and chicken in the fridge about a day or two ahead of time.

** I buy human wheat grass at the grocery store, but I plan to start growing my own as soon as I figure out how.

*** I like to work with raw meat using "examination gloves" I buy at Costco.  I get the latex-free ones.  You get a million of them.  They are good for weeding and gardening too.

20080702 Ruso




Ruso loves this food!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Scary Politics

This came in an email from a friend today and is from the web site.   It's worth a read:

Yesterday was John McCain's 72nd birthday. If elected,
he'd be the oldest president ever inaugurated.  And after months of
slamming Barack Obama for "inexperience," here's who John McCain has
chosen to be one heartbeat away from the presidency: a right-wing
religious conservative with no foreign
policy experience, who until recently was mayor of a town of 9,000 people.


Who is Sarah Palin? Here's some basic

  * She was elected Alaska's governor a little over a year and a half ago.
    Her previous office was mayor of Wasilla, a small town outside  Anchorage. She has no foreign policy experience.1
  * Palin is strongly anti-choice, opposing abortion even in the case of  rape or incest.2
  * She supported right-wing extremist Pat Buchanan for president in 2000.     3
  * Palin thinks creationism should be taught in public schools.4
  * She's doesn't think humans are the cause of climate change.5
  * She's solidly in line with John McCain's "Big Oil first" energy
policy. She's pushed hard for more oil drilling and says renewables
won't be ready for years. She also sued the Bush administration for
listing polar bears as an endangered species--she was worried it would
interfere with more oil drilling in Alaska.6
  * How closely did
John McCain vet this choice? He met Sarah Palin once at a meeting. They
spoke a second time, last Sunday, when he called her about being
vice-president. Then he offered her the position.7

This is information the American people need to see. Please take a moment to forward this email to your friends and family.

also asked Alaska MoveOn members what the rest of us should know about
their governor. The response was striking. Here's a sample:

is really just a mayor from a small town outside Anchorage who has been
a governor for only 1.5 years, and has ZERO national and international
experience. I shudder to think that she could be the person taking that
3AM call on the White House hotline, and the one who could potentially
be charged with leading the US in the volatile international
scene that exists today. --Rose M., Fairbanks, AK

is VERY, VERY conservative, and far from perfect. She's a hunter and
fisherwoman, but votes against the environment again and again. She ran
on ethics reform, but is currently under investigation for several
charges involving hiring and firing of state officials. She has NO
experience beyond Alaska. --Christine B., Denali Park, AK

an Alaskan and a feminist, I am beyond words at this announcement.
Palin is not a feminist, and she is not the reformer she claims to be.
--Karen L., Anchorage, AK

collectively, are just as stunned as the rest of the nation. She is
doing well running our State, but is totally inexperienced on the
national level, and very much unequipped to run the nation, if it came
to that. She is as far right as one can get, which has already been
communicated on the news. In our office of thirty employees (dems,
republicans, and nonpartisans), not one person feels she is ready for the V.P. position.--Sherry C., Anchorage, AK

She's vehemently anti-choice and doesn't care about protecting our natural resources, even though she has
worked as a fisherman. McCain chose her to pick up the Hillary voters, but Palin is no Hillary. --Marina L., Juneau,

think she's far too inexperienced to be in this position. I'm all for a
woman in the White House, but not one who hasn't done anything to
deserve it. There are far many other women who have worked their way up
and have much more experience that would have been better choices. This
is a
patronizing decision on John McCain's part- and insulting to
females everywhere that he would assume he'll get our vote by putting
"A Woman" in that position.--Jennifer M., Anchorage, AK

Governor Palin is a staunch anti-choice religious conservative. She's a
global warming denier who shares John McCain's commitment to Big Oil.
And she's dramatically inexperienced.

In picking Sarah Palin,
John McCain has made the religious right very happy. And he's made a
very dangerous decision for our country.

In the next few days, many Americans
will be wondering what McCain's vice-presidential choice means. Please pass this information along to your friends and family.

Thanks for all you do.

--Ilyse, Noah, Justin, Karin and the rest of the team


1. "Sarah Palin," Wikipedia, Accessed August 29, 2008

2. "McCain Selects Anti-Choice Sarah Palin as Running Mate," NARAL
Pro-Choice America, August 29, 2008

3. "Sarah Palin, Buchananite," The Nation, August 29, 2008

4. "'Creation science' enters the race," Anchorage
Daily News, October 27,

5. "Palin buys climate denial PR spin--ignores science," Huffington Post,
August 29, 2008

6. "McCain VP Pick Completes Shift to Bush Energy Policy," Sierra Club,
August 29, 2008

"Choice of Palin Promises Failed Energy Policies of the Past," League of
Conservation Voters, August 29, 2008

"Protecting polar bears gets in way of drilling for oil, says governor,"
The Times of London, May 23, 2008

7 "McCain met Palin once before yesterday," MSNBC, August 29, 2008

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