Friday, October 31, 2008

Mender of Soles

Alfred M. Jole (known as A.J. to his coworkers) worked for the U.S. Forest Service for most of his life, and in his retirement years repaired boots at Drew's in Klamath Falls, Oregon. He's kept Doug well supplied with boots, the most recent being a tri-tone pair that he'd rebuilt.

Doug (who is occasionally given to fits of verse) wrote this last night:

Boots: 10 inch packers

The last thing we talked about
Father to son, before he died
Was boots.
If a man works with his hands
And his feet
Balanced on fir roots, sweating on the fire line,
Raising sons out of the forests
he needs tough skin
good boots
to protect the tenderness
of the sole of the foot
of the soul.

The vamp–a dull color of blood and dust together,
the blood of his veins
the dust of the wild places he loved
Buffed and waterproofed
to keep my feet warm and dry,
I am wrapped tightly
by the work of his hands
embraced by his arms.

The 10 inch upper–black as Cascade duff in the snow-melt,
high to support the ankle
and keep me upright as I walked,
Upright as he walked and I followed,
10 inches high
he walked firm and strong,
and I followed him through the trees.

The laces–black leather,
earth tones and primitive
–he knew that woven laces wear out too quickly
in the wilderness
when you need them the most
so he wove thick, square laces
as long as my life
of my boots.

The heel counter–rawhide,
to protect against spurs
I will never wear,
rawhide white and strong as tough sagebrush country
sprinkled carelessly over basalt rimrock
the color of semi-arid soils.
The color of his face, worn as the seasons changed around him
faster than he could walk.
I was his spring, and his summer,
and I knew he would be my winter,
death under snow, waiting silently for rebirth.

The soul is eternal–
the sole is mini-Vibram,
not caulks for traction on the logs
not cowboy for ease in the stirrup
not deep cleats for muddy trails;
chosen by him
not for the dirt
the soils
the rock where he worked
but for my easier, paved trails.
He could re-sole them for me, he said.
And he has re-souled
I am his soul living in me.
These boots,
his loving hands reach out
practical, strong and rugged
built to take me into wild places
and even the wild places
he never knew
the untracked wildernesses
of college corridors
library carpets
worlds beyond his hillsides.

These are not new boots–
New, they would have been too dear.
Discarded, they became dear to him.
He re-crafted them, re-built them
turning waste into care
building leather into love,
using tools and hands and materials
a love for craftsmanship and raw, animal material
life and death crafted into usefulness
One thing, at least, that we shared
Deftly stitching a welt where none existed before
Because in his art, his craft,
he knew quality boots can be re-built.

He knew–
His own boots had passed through the years,
forward through my childhood, tattered and worn,
patched and replaced–all but the uppers were new,
but they were the same boots.
The supple texture of boot leather,
the smell of hides,
thread and glue
stitched us together in his heart.

My soles can be rebuilt
My soul stitched together with his,
father and son
His soul goes onward,
tattered and patched
to be rebuilt, vamp, upper, sole and counter
Into beauty and usefulness
by the Maker.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

bad news

We are sad to report that Doug's dad passed away early this morning. His mom called during the day yesterday and said that he'd taken a turn for the worse, and then called back around 1:30 AM to let us know he was gone. We're discussing going down to Klamath Falls.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Cute as a Pumpkin

Karen recently posted directions for a crocheted pumpkin hat, so I thought I'd make one for Kate. I kind of guessed on making it bigger--I made eight sections of 11 stitches wide. (My ridges don't seem to be lying quite right. Not sure what's up with that.) I also made a matching vest to go with it. I think Kate got tired of me trying it on her. I only got two skeins of yarn to start with and ran out, so I got Doug to pick up another one for me while he was out grocery shopping. (Thanks!)

Yesterday we went out and got some pictures. We went over to our favorite picture-taking corner and found the ground just covered with leaves. Hooray!

(Blurry, but cute!)

I drew some googly eyes on paper and stuck them to the front of my camera, to get Kate to look at me. I think it helped! She thought the eyes were hilarious and kept sticking them on other things afterwards.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Cousin Hazel

Here's Kate's newest cousin, Hazel Christine, born Sunday morning. (More on my mom's blog.) Congratulations to Barb and Kyle! She's a beautiful baby.

Barb was there when Kate was born. I'm not sure what she thought of the whole experience, but I remember how I felt afterwards--completely wrung out, and a bit shocky (darn episiotomy....) and then the first couple of weeks home with the baby and trying to figure everything out. I know Barb will be a great mom!

Our Little Sunbeam

Kate has really been enjoying her Sunbeam class at church. Here she is with her teacher, Catharine Tracy. She's excited to go every week (I don't think she really "gets" Sharing Time, much, but she loves class time) and she brings home fun handouts and games. Catharine won't be with us much longer, since she'll be heading off to college soon. We will miss her!

This last Sunday was the Primary presentation in Sacrament Meeting. Kate had one line--"I am a child of God, and he has a plan for me," which we practiced at home a bit. She went up to the microphone and said her part just fine, and stayed up on the stand through one song, and then she decided she was done and came back down and sat with us. We figure there's plenty of time for that sort of thing!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Photo tag

This is a tag from my sister-in-law, Karen. You're supposed to go to your "My Pictures" folder, pick the fourth folder, and post the fourth photo in that folder. Well, I do have a "My Pictures" folder but it doesn't have anything in it. So I had the computer do a search for all image file (48,948 files found--yikes!) and then picked the fourth one that was actually one of my pictures and not something from the 2007 Camp Leader Guidebook, not a scan of Doug's driver's license, and not a graphic created in Corel Draw. Here's what I got:

This is Kate at six weeks, doing her "sardonic baby" impression. I've always loved this photo, though the focus is a bit off. I haven't seen her doing the one-eyebrow thing lately. Maybe she can't do it anymore.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Impulse Buy

I'm supposedly saving my design money for something. Either a new couch or something camera-related, I'm not sure which. Or I'm trying to, anyway. Things keep coming up. Like this recent purchase--three crochet pattern books, in a language which I don't actually read.

A common lament of the crocheter is that all the good patterns are for knitting. Crocheting is, by nature, more bulky, and there just isn't as much good stuff out there that's really wearable. (I've made my share of bulky sweaters, which aren't getting much use here. It just doesn't get that cold.)

Recently I ran across some gorgeous crocheted sweaters on Catheryn's Crochet blog (specifically this one and this one), made from Japanese pattern books. I found the books she used on (and another one, too) and ordered them. They took almost a month to come, and finally got here last week. Yay! I've been having so much fun looking at them and figuring things out.

The books are in Japanese but the patterns are charted, which means they look like this:

I'd only recently become aware that there was such a thing as charted patterns, and I'd never tried to work from one. I found some good information here, and after spending some time looking at the charts I was pretty sure I could figure them out without too much trouble. Some of the assembly instructions are more complicated (and some border on bewildering), depending on the pattern.

Here are a few more of the pieces in the books:

I really like that last one. I started trying to figure out the gauge, to see what kind of thread would work with it. I managed to decipher where in the pattern it gives the hook size, and I found a conversion chart for Japanese hook sizes (why they can't just use metric I sure don't know). This pattern uses a size 4 hook, which I think should be 3.3mm (I think I'm dealing with the bamboo hook sizes here). The green sweater that Catheryn made also uses a size 4, and she said she used a 3.5mm hook, which would be US size E. (complicated, yes?) The hard part is finding a thread to get the right gauge.

I made a test motif from this pattern, which is supposed to be 16cm across. First I tried with size 10 thread (the most common size, available in lots of colors) and a B hook. That one was only 10cm. So then I tried it with a D hook and got 14cm. Closer, but not quite right. I had some size 3 thread, too, which is thicker, so today I tried that with an E hook, but it was too big. 20cm. Sigh. So I need something thicker than 10 and thinner than 3. I'll have to see if I can get ahold of some size 5 thread. (This stuff might work, though I am somewhat dubious, given the range of recommended hook sizes.)

Add to that the fact that these patterns are sized to fit petite Japanese women, which I am not, and you can see where some additional tweaking might be required. But I'm eager to jump in and get started on something--as soon as I finish this painting that's sitting on my kitchen table. I should probably get that done first.

These are the books that I got:

Spring and Summer Crochet 9
Beautiful Crochet Spring Summer 16
Simple Crochet Lace

(Yes the series is called "Let's Knit." These books are all crochet.)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Chalk Autumn

This is what I was working on earlier--pumpkin and leaves in Corel Painter (with the "chalk" brush). It was part of the October mega kit, and is now available separately. (Cheap!)

Heather T. asked what the advantages were in using Painter for something like this rather than Photoshop. I find Photoshop can be kind of choppy--if I'm doing some hand journaling, or drawing, I get better results in Painter. And as for actually "painting," it's just more specifically designed for that sort of thing. Though some of the mediums are not particularly useful when you want to make a transparent png file, because they leave white around the edges. Chalk works okay. There are a lot of things that I'm comfortable doing in Photoshop that I don't really know how to do in Painter, so I always finish up in Photoshop.

Here's what they look like on white. The pumpkin is pretty solid but the leaves were made on the brown background, and will look quite different on something else.

I know the pumpkin vine isn't really botanically correct. Hopefully that won't bother anyone too much!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

bus, zoo, train!

(Also known as "the post with way too many pictures.")

First, an update on Doug's dad. He is doing a little better. He'll be in the hospital for a while, but he's improving. Thank you for your prayers and all your kind comments.

On Friday we made an excursion up to Seattle. We'd talked about taking Kate for a ride on the Sounder commuter train, and I wanted to go to the Woodland Park Zoo. We didn't get either of these things done during the summer, when Doug had tons of free time. But on Fridays he only has classes in the morning, so we decided to do it then.

The Sounder only runs at commuter times (i.e. really early in the morning) so we took the bus up. Here are Doug and Kate at the bus station:

Kate on the bus. Once we got into Seattle she kept saying, "It's the city!"

We changed buses downtown and caught the one going out to the zoo.

By the time we got to the zoo it was 1:00, and they close at 4:00 this time of year, so we didn't have a whole lot of time there. It's a very spread-out zoo with lots of walking. I'd been there once before, years ago, with my roommate Christy, but I didn't recognize very much.

The first thing we came to was the "Zoomazium" indoor play area, so of course we had to go in. (They have these cute kid-size doors next to the regular doors.) Kate was pretty excited. There were fake rocks to climb on, a slide, and a great big (also fake) tree in the corner, that kids can climb up inside. We had a hard time getting her out of there.

When we successfully extracted our child from the Zoomazium and got out onto the zoo grounds, we found other things to play with.

Grates must be stomped on.

There were lots of squirrels around. I took a few pictures of them, too.

"Let's go this way!"

We made it over to the African savanna area and saw the giraffes (and some cute Korean kids who ran up and pointed, yelling "기린!"). There were some zebras, too, but we couldn't see them as well.

Kate checks out the giraffes.

Hippo! (There were three, and we got to hear them bellowing at each other. That was kind of cool.)

Open wide!

Leaving the savanna area, we passed a couple more groups of people speaking Korean. I said to Doug, "와, 한국사람이 되게 많다." ("Wow, there are a lot of Korean people.") Every once in a while I get the nerve to strike up a conversation with somebody, but it's hard to think of what to say.

Kate in the gift shop. We got her a rubber alligator that kept her entertained on the way home.

I was pretty hungry by then, so we got some lunch, and then it was 3:00 and we only had an hour left. Kate wanted to go back to the Zoomazium, so Doug took her over there and I went to look at some more animals by myself.

Ocelot (beautiful animal!)

Another squirrel. This one was really checking me out. Too bad I didn't have anything to give him.

Komodo dragon

A fennec! (I've liked these ever since I read Eleanor Hoffmann's Mischief in Fez as a child.)

We left the zoo at closing time and took two buses to the train station.

The view from the bus.

We barely missed one train and had to wait for the next one, so we just hung out on the platform and played around with the camera.

Kate took this one. :)

Yes, my daughter likes rubber reptiles.

On the train! We sat up on the top level.

There really were other people on the train. A lot of them got off before Tacoma.

The view out the window.

The train after we got off.

Tacoma at night.

Long day! I did okay with all the walking around, but my ankles were really sore the next day. Maybe it's the extra weight. Or it's my shoes.