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Archive for: January 2007

Disneyland, Christmas, 2006 recap

DISNEY DAZE: We’ve been going to Disneyland on Christmas Eve day with friends for several years now. It’s a loosely organized day starting when the park opens, going until fireworks. We don’t meet at someone’s house and leave in a group because that’s like herding cats and nobody gets anywhere on time. We go to the park individually and call each other once there. Naturally everyone must wear a silly hat so Kat and I wore our light-up Xmas trees, which is about as silly as you can get. We had a grand time at the Golden Horseshoe Saloon where a hillbilly Elvis impersonator flirted outrageously with Cate. Though John is rather ‘Disney’d out’, he enjoys people-watching plus the Peter Pan and Buzz Lightyear rides. He got a kick out of Fred, the humorous clean-up man, who informed a group of us that the bench we were sitting on was not a ride so there was no use waiting for it to take off. Fred also pointed out that it was already Christmas, since we were in Tomorrowland, and with a cheerful wave, he went off to sweep up more trash.

Our eldest daughter, Kathryn, not only loves every square inch of D’land, but has become an ardent pin-trader, as have Lora and me. Kat has no interest in value, she just loves the pretty pins that have some meaning for her; a memory, favorite movie, etc. Some pin-traders are very rude to cast members (employees), but Kat asks nicely and thanks them for trading with her so they usually give her tips for things to look for and let her trade from both the adult’s and the children’s lanyards. Lora looks for Stitch pins where all 6 legs show but made a concession for the 4-legged Elvis Stitch. She also likes Nightmare Before Christmas pins, especially the Jack Skellington. I collect whatever takes my fancy, such as the Norman Rockwell parody with Mickey painting his self-portrait: Walt Disney. I got an Edna Mode from The Incredibles in memory of my mom, who worked in Edith Head’s wardrobe department at Warner Bros, and would have appreciated the send-up of her personality.

Now if the park would only set up a Living History section in Frontierland where pioneers in period garb could gather with spinning wheels, dyepots, and table looms to show visitors how it was done ‘Way Back When. Seems to me that if the reprieved White House Thanksgiving turkey has a place at D’land, you’d think they could find room for a few fiber artists. Even if done only on weekends and holidays, it would be a valuable educational attraction.

Looking back: 2006 had its ups and downs, but at least we have moved forward a bit. Christmas was loads of fun. We don’t really observe it religiously, but we like the decorations, music, gifting, getting together with friends and relatives, plus a few orphans of the storm who for whatever reason don’t have anyplace else to be. Lora got more penguins for her collection, plus a Swiss rifle to shoot skeets with Jason. John got a beautiful hand decorated griffin box from me (made by Judith Kingsbury ska Miriam bas Levi); I’m trading SCA garb for it. Kat got several of her favorite gifts: Target cards. I got money toward my Mayan Highland trip (yay!) and the dogs got new wubbies to tear apart.

This year we had 20 people sitting down to a haphazard table arrangement of good food, great conversation, and family games after dinner, with a few more showing up for dessert. The family tends to ignore the dictum to invite only same-age people of like-interest, so there is never a lag in conversation. Everyone brought a “Gee, Aunt Edna, you shouldn’t have” gift to fob off onto someone else, which was great fun. One person’s Aunt Edna is another’s beautiful gift. New Year’s Eve will be a games night; a good way to end the year. We raise our hopeful eyes to 2007 with the sincere wish that all of you get everything you ever wanted.

THANKS: We continue to owe heartfelt gratitude to many people who helped our little business grow. Our son-in-law, Jason, quietly does nifty things like feed a pack of people without notice, keep pitchers of iced tea and fruit punch on the table when we need it while packing for events or making up kits. Daughter Lora takes time away from her own business at The Big Tease Hair Salon to help at workshops and in booths. Daughter Kathryn helps refill rinse buckets and run errands at dye demos and workshops. Kathy Santineau and Todd Etzel have been wonderful helpers in our merchant booth as have Katherine Zon and many others. Roberta Brubaker cheerfully shows anyone who stopped in our booth how to spin on her 150 year old Great Wheel. The Blue Nails Dyers Guild and the Dyen to Ply Group pitched in wherever they could and we are very grateful to them. Overall, we’ve got a huge amount of things to be very thankful for, and all the wonderful people who have helped are at the top of that list!

Dyeing with friends & teaching

BLUE NAILS DYERS GUILD: Another Yahoo list I’m on is the Blue Nails Dyers Guild, a loosely organized group of fiber enthusiasts, particularly dyers, but it is open to all who love fibery things. We welcome all like-minded souls who enjoy dyes of all kinds: natural, laboratory-made, earth oxides, even powdered drink mixes. Those of us who live near each other in Southern California gather for occasional hands-on dyeing and experiments with all dyes and dye processes.. Online, we talk about dyes and dyeing, exchange research, give out information, answer questions that newbies come up with, and enjoy each other’s company. “Blue nails” was a medieval derogatory term describing the color of indigo and woad dyers’ hands so it’s time the term got some respect. The nails shown here are medieval finishing nails; heraldic puns were common practice back then. Though many of us are members of The Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA), the Blue Nails Dyers Guild is not strictly limited to this group, but open to all. Join us for discussions, announcements, workshops, and dye demos!

TEACHING CRAFTS CLASSES: For an all-too-brief time this fall, I taught 24 to 32 developmentally disabled adults in the Villa Esperanza Services Adult Day Program. The ADP is held at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Pasadena, California. My students’ disabilities included dementia, cerebral palsy, severe rheumatoid arthritis, Down’s syndrome, other types of retardation, hearing and sight impairment, Alzheimer’s onset, and a variety of other problems. Some of them had several disabilities, which made teaching even more challenging. It was daunting but exciting to redact crafts and sewing projects to a level that many of the participants could handle. For some students who had no eye-hand coordination or whose physical problems would not allow them to use the floor pedal, I put it up on the table to press on by hand. That got very exciting because the person holding the fabric through the sewing machine had to say “Stop!” early enough to avoid a well-sewn thumb. We turned out some fun items, including elegant pillows with woven trim centers that delighted my students. They had never had such beautiful crafts materials to work with.

But there came a sad day just recently when I really could not deal with some of the administrative personnel without appearing on the evening news. So I am no longer collecting crafts and sewing donations for ADP. My wonderful former students don’t even understand why I left, so it would hurt them to see me arrive with donation boxes but not stay to teach. Locals are welcome to drop by the church or bring donations to the Villa Esperanza office, corner of Craig and Villa, Pasadena. Alternatively, collect crafts and sewing donations for your local retirement homes, which are always in need of something to do. Or bring donations to your Youth and Children’s Activities people. All these agencies are on severe budgets, so can use just about anything you can donate.

More Cons, Treehouses, and Games!

MountainCon II: John and I were invited to MountainCon II in Salt Lake City, where we were reunited with long-time fellow convention guests, Walter Koenig (Star Trek’s Chekov, Babylon 5’s Bester) and Richard Hatch (Battlestar Galactica), both of whom had lots to say about their current and future projects. This was a small fan-run convention with several local guests who once worked or still work in the film industry. I’d tell you about them, but I have hit a mental brick wall with names (fibro fog) and have no notes handy. I like small laid-back conventions a whole lot more than the larger ones where one is always running around trying to find someone or something.

TREEHOUSE MUSEUM: Before the convention, we were given a tour of the Elizabeth Stewart Treehouse Children’s Museum in nearby Ogden. Lynne Goodwin, wife of artist/cartoonist Michael Goodwin, is the museum administrator. We met Lynne when she started showing her artwork with husband Michael at science fiction conventions. Lynne does lovely fantasy art when she has time for it; Michael is known to Trek fans for his hilarious space cartoons.

We were enchanted by the Treehouse Museum. Every kid of any age dreams of a treehouse like this one! If you’re in Utah, be sure to see this unique children’s museum; it is truly one-of-a-kind. The museum has a fund-raising gala where, among other worthy goodies, a doll house is auctioned off. I offered to make a lighted miniature tree for the 2007 doll house. I’m using this holiday season to find Lilliputian items for a miniature Christmas tree. Others are interested, so the project may expand to a whole Christmas doll house, if we can find a large (but affordable) Victorian doll house kit.

ASTRONOMICON 10: John and I were also Guests of Honor at Astronomicon 10 in Rochester, NY. We flew in to Boston a week early to spend time with our darling foster daughter, Jenn, and her husband, Chris. We had a great time at their house for a few days, then Jenn drove us to Rochester. Chris was working on some computer deadline so didn’t join us. In Rochester, we found how to walk around a city without touching the ground; very unusual to people who don’t live in snow country. We were happy to be introduced to the Dinosaur BBQ, which served some of the finest meats and hot sauces since we left Texas.

The convention was a small, friendly event where we had the pleasure of meeting several very interesting people, including SF writer, Julie Czerneda, and her quietly funny husband, Roger. Her work is Asimovian in sheer sense-of-wonder alien scope, with less scientific explanation, and more character exposition. I’d already read her latest book, In the Company of Others, before the convention, and have since read her first book, A Thousand Words for Stranger, which kept me up all night to finish it. Now I am eager for more of her writing!

LOONEY BIN GAMES: Another interesting thing that happened at Astronomicon was ending up in the Game Room, which is a convention area we Trimbles seldom enter. John and I just aren’t into that much intensity for hours at a time with a whole convention going on around us. But we do play family games and are familiar with one of the games in-vented by Andrew Looney of Looney Bin Labs. In fact, we’d had Fluxx explained to us awhile ago, by a group of very drunken people, which seems the only way to explain that convoluted card game!

Andy and Kristin Looney are delightful people with a totally skewed sense of humor – a trait necessary for the people who produce such games as Nanofictionary, Chrononauts, Treehouse (different from the one in Utah), Just Desserts, Martian Coasters (the coasters can be used for beverage glasses if needed), Are You a Werewolf? (dressed up Mafia, a game of deception, paranoia and mob rule), and several Fluxx variations. John wondered what happened if you shuffled Stoner Fluxx, Jewish Fluxx, and Christian Fluxx together.

Kristin uses tie-dyed game tablecloths, which she says with a straight face are their corporate colors. Andy is a major Trekker, so we got along famously to the envy of daughter Jenn, who is an avid Fluxx fan. By the end of the convention I was an official Blab Rabbit but John has not so far gained that vaunted position. Obviously, he needs to work on his game. I’m not game-knowledgeable enough to be a true Looney Bin Lab Rabbit to test out the games. But we Blab Rabbits can tell others about the games, and share in the fun! Looney Bin Labs

Doctors, Ice Cream, and Space

FAVORITE SAYING FOR TODAY: “Disagree with anyone about anything, but just don’t be disagreeable about disagreeing.”

Written January 19, 2007: Well today was medical for the Trimbles. Friday is John’s day off, so we got up at Ugly O’clock to drive clear across Los Angeles to the University of Southern California Dental School. I got a thorough exam and casts taken of my teeth by a charming young lady nicknamed Sako, with whom I will be working throughout my treatments. John went to his dental appointment with another student and got three teeth pulled. I wasn’t prepared for that.

After that, I had lunch (John’s mouth was full of cotton) and we drove back across LA to San Gabriel to see my doctor. We got sidetracked by a Fosselman’s Ice Cream parlor, so I took the “can’t seem to lose weight” problem off my complaints list. I hold by the theory promulgated by a grand old ice-cream maker who claimed that ice cream cannot possibly have any calories. After all, calories are units of heat, right? And ice cream is frozen, right? I rest my case.

The doctor said I was doing fine but my blood pressure is a bit higher than usual. Since I usually have “normal low” blood pressure, this is not a problem. When I told Dr. Castro that I was going to the Chiapas Highlands to learn backstrap weaving and Mayan dyeing, she said it was no surprise that I had slightly elevated blood pressure. She also referred me to the Pasadena Health Clinic for my Mexican trip vaccinations, and recommended that I get a tetanus booster, too.

By the time we got home, John was one miserable puppy. He put new cotton in his mouth and took a nap. Then Jason came home and fixed John some scrambled eggs and hot biscuits for dinner. We’ve got such a super son-in-law!

COMET McNAUGHT: Has anyone seen the comet? This is one of the most spectacular space visitors we’ve had in a very long time, and we are sooooo frustrated that the best views are on the other side of the world from us! McNaught is visible from the Southern Hemisphere, with a head almost as bright as Venus and with a fantastic curved tail. It looks more like a sci-fi magazine cover than anything else. View amazing photographs at Space Weather News: http://spaceweather.com and then click on all the great daily photos. Anyone in the Southern Hemisphere should go outside at sunset, look west and see for themselves. Get on the Space Weather list by contacting: swlist@spaceweather.com

VENUS AND THE MOON: Here is something both hemispheres can enjoy. Saturday, January 20, the crescent Moon glides by Venus at sunset, forming a beautiful ensemble in the western sky. Look for the pair just before the sky fades to black. Venus and the Moon surrounded by twilight-blue is a scene of special beauty. Visit http://spaceweather.com for observing tips and updates.

Conventions

We very much enjoy conventions, where we get to meet a lot of fellow fans, talk all night, and give our lovingly humorous History of Star Trek slide show, which Jenn wants to put into Power Point for me. I think that’s a very good idea since many conventions no longer work with slide projectors, and the ones they have are usually in really bad condition, or the light is burnt out, or the right cord wasn’t brought along, or something else has gone wrong. However, with everything on a CD, we could show it on a laptop if necessary. John and I attended only 3 conventions in 2007, which surprised and disappointed me since it was Trek’s 40th birthday, and I sorta thought we’d hear from someone. We didn’t, so that certainly put me in my place! Oh well…

LACON IV: The 64th World Science Fiction Con, familiarly known as L.A.con IV, was held on August 23-27, 2006 at the Anaheim Convention Center, where we observed Star Trek’s 40th anniversary with a Babel Conference Ambassadorial Reception.

John and I hosted this gala Star Trek event which started a long weekend of special Trek guests, exhibits, programming, and other Trek activities. Reception Master of Ceremonies was “Trouble with Tribbles” author David Gerrold. We were assisted by daughters and sons-in-law: Lora and Jason Boehm, Jenn and Chris Eplett. We had only one other big guest attend. However, since it was Chase Masterson, dressed in something very shiny and extremely skimpy, she raised a few blood pressures!

Fans who knew Chase as red-headed Leeta the D’abo girl on Deep Space Nine were surprised to see her as a blond for the film noir project she was filming at that time.

The beautiful caketop design was by Gina from the LAcon print department. John and I were on several panels and other program items. I particularly enjoyed being on a panel about getting youngsters to read, especially to read SF, with author Larry Niven and several librarians. The audience was notably filled with librarians and teachers. I mentioned Reading for the Future and found that many were already familiar with RFF and its goals.

There is an excellent media-oriented LAcon report at http://www.startrek.com/startrek/view/news/index.html.


   

LOCKS OF LOVE: Daughter Lora and a friend, Cate Manzo, did two days of hair-cutting especially for Locks of Love in the LACon Exhibits hall. They remember being the weirdo kids in school because they liked Science Fiction and fantasy. But they could at least blend in; a bald kid can’t do that.

They met with outright hostility from long-haired fans who evidently thought that two professional cosmetologists would chase them down the halls with snarling scissors. Most of those worried souls could have done with a good hair trim rather than look like a Eukanuba Show entrant, but no one will ever convince them of that. However, there were also generous donors of hair for children who need wigs, some of whom had grown their hair just for this purpose. The ladies also collected cash donations to help pay for wig-making supplies.

You don’t have to wait for a convention to donate hair. Just call around until you find a hair salon that does this special hair-cutting (sadly not all of them will do it). Anyone, any gender, any race, any age, can donate 10” or more of freshly-washed DRY hair. Or bring that long braid of hair in. This is such a simple way to help build a child’s self-esteem. If you know a child who needs a hairpiece, please fill out the Locks of Love submission form at their website: http://www.lockoflove.com or call them at (561) 963-1677.

Dye & Fiber Retreat 2006

We had a smaller Dye & Fiber Retreat this year than in 2006, but that was mainly due to the wildfires that scourged the Tehachapi Mountains between Los Angeles and Bakersfield. Watching the local news on TV it often looked as if Camp Verdugo Oaks had been lost in the conflagration, and we could not get any news for a long time. Everyone was on tenterhooks wondering if the Retreat would have to be canceled at the last minute, while I fussed about people coming from a distance who could not be reached in time to prevent their trip. Especially one participant who was arriving a week early from Sweden!

But the fires were finally conquered and our Retreat site ended up, as Ranger Terry described it, “an oasis of green in a vast sea of black”. The Forestry Service grudgingly allowed us access to the camp since there was little else that could burn. When we got there, we found that the fires had burned out the camp’s archery and rifle range, but all buildings had been saved.

Those who attended the Retreat had loads of fun while learning more about fiber and dyeing from our excellent fiber teachers. Barb Klessig (The Dread Viscountess Seelie) was an enthusiastic addition with an entertaining slide show of Northern European textile finds. Jennifer Tan, one of our new teachers (Tunisian crochet) brought her 7-year-old daughter, Joey, who gave a child’s-eye Retreat Report at Spindlicity. You can also read my 2006 Retreat Report.

We welcome one and all to the 2007 Retreat, which is still in planning. Join the Retreat discussion and tell others about it, too!

Snow!

Written January 17, 2007: Sorry for not dating blogs as I enter them. Just never occurred to me. I didn’t usually number my fanzines back in real publishing days with mimeograph and stencils until collectors of same asked me to start numbering my publications. Then I numbered one as “#4 or 5 or possibly 7” just to get a reaction. One of my early pulp paper fanzines was also named Bjottings. There are copies of it in the Riverside U. library.

Today I Googled for “Trimble” and, among other things, discovered that there is a Trimble GPS unit for sale. This is pretty funny considering that several Trimbles are not the people to ask for directions, excepting John. If you want to know how to get anywhere in Southern California, ask him, but be ready to take notes! You’ll get a whole lot of “… you take the 210 to the 134 to the 509 to the 1325 to the 1776 to the…. “ at which point my eyes glaze over.

One site that I can’t translate into a URL has, for no reason but the obvious one, a lovely semi-nude young lady at the top of the home page. Though the Google search part actually has a quote from this Bjottings, I found no evidence of it in the listings. But I thought maybe I could get away will claiming to be the pretty lady…

Aw, c’mon! I need some cheering up after getting my seriously ugly passport photo taken, and paying a heck of a lot extra to make sure the darned thing gets to me on time. Dead-on shots always look like one should have a set of numbers across your chest. But looking on the bright side, nobody else is ever going to claim that photo!

Anyone paying attention can guess that I’m getting my passport for the Mayan Highland Backstrap Weaving and Dyeing tour. It’s on! Whoo-hoo! Six people finally signed up. At least one of them knows me, so I assume the person is on the Natural Dye list. Not everyone has come forth to get acquainted before the trip, which I consider odd. I’d certainly like to know a bit about someone sharing 9 days in Mexico with me. But maybe that’s just me.

Anyway, it’s a revelation to check on one’s given name as well as surname now and then. I’ve discovered my own listing in Wikipedia, and wish I knew how to correct it. It’s pretty close, but there are bits that need changing.

Hope everyone enjoyed the photos taken last season of our lovely avocados. We won’t have such photos this year. The cold nights made most of the fingerlings (finger-sized new fruit) drop off our big old backyard tree. Larger avocados that already developed will have to be removed from the tree and ripened in the warm house. Then we’ll see if they are edible. The leaves have all been frost-bitten and look dead or dying, but we won’t know the damage for several weeks. If new growth comes out, we’re OK. My heart really goes out to all the avocado and citrus growers whose orchards were devastated by this unusual SoCal freezing weather. Farmers never seem to get a break. Several good years can be totally wiped out by having to re-mortgage the farm in bad times.

It’s a good day to dye!

We managed a few good dyeings this year, though not nearly as many as I’d have liked, mainly due to a full calendar and highly variable weather for ourdoors work. The Blue Nails Dyers Guild held a couple of dye days at Pitzer Arboretum gardens, one of the many Claremont Colleges, where we had loads of fun. This enjoyable outdoor venue is arranged courtesy of Ruth Schooley, a college complex librarian.

I’d hoped to get more work done on our on-going dye demo samples this year and even be nudged by Sherry Acton-Snowden into making that sample book. She plans to raid my baskets full of older dyed samples, putting them in booklets for better reference. Yay! This project is moving forward slowly with Sherry putting mordanted samples together for dyeing to show how dye colors change with the different mordants. You can find out more about mordants at our Griffin Dyeworks site. Maybe we’ll have more dyeing in 2007…

Last January Kathryn and I helped the Mount Wilson Girl Scouts with their Cookie Kaleidoscope Kick-off event in Arcadia Park, with the much appreciated help of Theresa Boscia, one of our webwrights, and John Trimble, all around water-schlepper and good sport. Various crafts were offered by companies and groups, including Griffin Dyeworks & Fiber Arts showing how to dye quilt or pocket squares with fiber reactive dyes. Natural dyes take too long to develop to use at a demo where the public – particularly children – has the attention span of gerbils.

When it started sprinkling, a few scaredy-cats packed up and left, but lots of Scouts stayed. Our craft was already wet, so though the rain got heavier, we stayed to the last, and are invited back for 2007. John, Kathryn and I also went to Simi Valley to help a group of Girl Scouts and Brownies get their textile badge/patch, since dyeing qualified as one of the textile crafts. Their dyeing enthusiasm included the puzzled willing Australian shepherd pet of the site owner. I assured her that the dye would not harm the dog and would eventually wear off his fur.

Medieval Embroidery

Griffin Dyeworks is branching out from dyes and roving to embroidery since we can tap into some amazing talent in that area. We have found some wonderful embroidery designs and are currently preparing kits of historical designs.

Griffin Dyeworks has also self-published a truly informative book on the subject, written by Mary Jenkins, who is Baroness Ealasaid nic Suibhne in the SCA, and an excellent teacher of medieval embroidery techniques. This is a great book for other teachers of medieval embroidery techniques, so students can carry home a reminder of how each stitch is formed, see how stitches were used in a given century, the colors and cloth used, all in a well-illustrated book for only $20.00 plus shipping, so look in our BOOKS section in the Griffin Dyeworks & Fiber Arts online catalog.

NØSTEPINDER

This is the plural of a very old low-tech Scandinavian fiber tool used in as a winder for making a center-pull ball of yarn. Norwegian: “Nest-stick”: nøste = nest; pinde = little stick; literally, ‘making a birds nest’. Also known as nøstie, nøsty, nøstepinne, nørstepinde, nystepinne, depending on which Scandinavian describes it. It’s also called a “dib-ble” or “that ball-winder stick thingie.”

Griffin Dyeworks is proud to introduce Mark Lindsay’s turned nøstepinder, hand-crafted from beautiful woods. A plain old broomstick can be a ball-winder, but it’s so much more satisfying to handle a beautiful wooden Quinn nøstepinde, and show it off in your fiber basket!

Mark is retired but keeps busy with his small daughter and working in his home workshop. He is also active in the SCA, where he is known as Master Quinn Phelan, builder of full-sized medieval ballista, catapults and trebuchets used by C.R.A.C. (the Caidan Royal Artillery Corps). He and his hearty band of fellow throwers-of-large-things can be found at major SCA events on the West Coast.