Sunday, September 30, 2007

Lazy Fall Saturday

Fall is officially upon us. It's been gray and rainy, with a chill in the air, for the past few days. It's been nice to pull out the sweaters, slip on the corduroys, and snuggle up with a cup of tea.

After doing some pro bono work in the morning (keeping an eye on the police at an anti-war march), and slogging through some Civil Procedure, I rewarded myself with an apple pie.

I think the most difficult part about making an apple pie is deciding how to slice the apples. Growing up, we had one of those apple-corer-slicer-peelers, which was always the highlight of apple season for me. I'm used to thinly sliced apples for pie, but the cookbook (yes THE cookbook) said to cut the apples into 1/8ths. I thought those slices would be too big for eating, so I went ahead and sliced each apple in half, excised the core, and sliced the apples thinly, like an onion.

Tossed with sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice,and a dusting of flour, those babies were ready to go.

After I trimmed the crust, and got the pie in the oven, I had a lot of leftover dough. I squeezed it all back up into a ball and rolled it out into a rectangle. I brushed some egg white on it, then generously sprinkled it with cinnamon and sugar, and tossed on some nutmeg and allspice. I rolled it up and put it in the oven with the pie. 20 minutes later, we had a nice little snack of cinnamon bites.

While the baking was going down in the kitchen, I snuggled up on the study chair with the first sleeve of the Minimalist cardigan. It was nice to be back with the familiar moss stitch, after the brief foray with the Ribbed Lace. The kitten has adopted the chair as her very own, so she was a bit put out to have someone else sitting in it. She took out her anger on the ball of yarn, at first. But then she just sat next to me and watched, not even going after the needles! What a good kitty.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

New kitten and an FO!

This weekend we went to a wedding, and today we got a cat!

I was able to finish the shrug the night before the wedding, and it was nice to be able to enjoy the day without a frantic race to the finish with the knitting.

Pattern: Ribbed Lace Bolero
Yarn: Lion Branch Microspun in Sterling
Needles: US 7 (bamboo) & US 10 (aluminum)

Notes: This pattern was great. Very easy to follow, and with quick results! I didn't do the cables to finish off the lace section, because I was on a plane and I didn't have a cabling needle (or the patience) to do hem. I think it looks fine without. Finished was really easy, and the finished product was just what I wanted.

The wedding was in Orange County, and let me tell you how glad I am not to live there. We left beautiful, sunny Portland (riding to the airport in a convertible with the top down, even!), and arrived in rainy, rainy LA. Totally lame. As you can see, though, it was gorgeous and sunny by the time the wedding started. It was still chilly, though, so I was especially glad to have my shrug!

The ceremony was held in the Cal State Fullerton Arboretum, where Mike used to work. Before the ceremony started, we walked all around, looking for pretty places to take FO shots. This first one is next to a pomegranate tree. I thought they were apples, at first, because I'd never seen pomegranates on the tree!

Since the ground was all wet and soft from the rain, I was having a lot of trouble walking in my heels (ok- I have trouble walking in heels anytime), so I took them off. Mike told me this was a red flag to anyone who saw us that I was definitely not from the OC. It is fine by me to have that fact be readily noticeable.
Another way you could tell that I wasn't from the OC was by the fact that I made the guy giving us a ride from the ceremony to the reception (in a giant mansion, right off the set of The OC) stop off at our hotel so I could ditch the heels entirely and pick up the flip flops. I wasn't about to let fashion stop me from dancing all night long!

And that brings us to tonight, and our kitten. She was abandoned (along with the rest of her litter) outside my friend's work. He adopted her and nursed her (with a bottle!) before realizing he has serious cat allergies. And he lives in a studio apartment! We're probably not keeping her, but we're babysitting for the month, until our friend's dad comes to adopt her. Or we find someone local to adopt her permanently. She is so darn cute we might just have to keep her anyway.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Political Bake Sale

Tonight I baked nearly-vegan chocolate chocolate chip cookies for a bake sale at school tomorrow. The National Lawyers Guild chapter is holding a bake sale to raise money to send to the legal defense funds for the Jena 6. (Nearly vegan because I accidentally used chocolate chips instead of carob chips. But I used canola oil instead of butter and flax seeds & soy milk instead of eggs. It's a great recipe, and the cookies came out very similar to the cookies we sold at the bakery in Berkeley.)

Now, onto the reason behind the cookies. I haven't been very political on this blog. I'm sure my (limited) readership is here for the knitting and the baking, since that's what this is all about.

However, in my real life, I'm a very political person. Politically aware, and politically active. And this is a very important subject.

Today (Sept 20) is a day of solidarity for the Jena 6, and students all across the country are raising money and wearing green and black to raise awareness. This is an issue demonstrating the continuing racism and injustice that plagues this country.

I'm posting the whole message from the website, and even if you're just here for the knitting and baking, I strongly encourage you to read on and take notice of this tragedy. If you feel so inclined, please consider donating toward the cause of these students.

Last fall in Jena, Louisiana, the day after two Black high school students sat beneath the "white tree" on their campus, nooses were hung from the tree. When the superintendent dismissed the nooses as a "prank," more Black students sat under the tree in protest. The District Attorney then came to the school accompanied by the town's police and demanded that the students end their protest, telling them, "I can be your best friend or your worst enemy... I can take away your lives with a stroke of my pen."1

A series of white-on-black incidents of violence followed, and the DA did nothing. But when a white student was beaten up in a schoolyard fight, the DA responded by charging six black students with attempted murder and conspiracy to commit murder.

It's a story that reads like one from the Jim Crow era, when judges, lawyers and all-white juries used the justice system to keep blacks in "their place"--but it's happening today. The families of these young men are fighting back, but the odds are stacked against them. Together, we can make sure their story is told, that this becomes an issue for the Governor of Louisiana, and that justice is provided for the Jena 6. It starts now. Please add your voice:

The noose-hanging incident and the DA's visit to the school set the stage for everything that followed. Racial tension escalated over the next couple of months, and on November 30, the main academic building of Jena High School was burned down in an unsolved fire. Later the same weekend, a black student was beaten up by white students at a party. The next day, black students at a convenience store were threatened by a young white man with a shotgun. They wrestled the gun from him and ran away. While no charges were filed against the white man, the students were arrested for the theft of the gun.2

That Monday at school, a white student, who had been a vocal supporter of the students who hung the nooses, taunted the black student who was beaten up at the off-campus party and allegedly called several black students "nigger." After lunch, he was knocked down, punched and kicked by black students. He was taken to the hospital but was released and was well enough to go to a social event that evening.3

Six Black Jena High students, Robert Bailey (17), Theo Shaw (17), Carwin Jones (18), Bryant Purvis (17), Mychal Bell (16) and an unidentified minor, were expelled from school, arrested and charged with second-degree attempted murder. Bail was set so high -- between $70,000 and $138,000 -- that the boys were left in prison for months as families went deep into debt to release them.4

The first trial ended last month, and Mychal Bell, who has been in prison since December, was convicted of aggravated battery and conspiracy to commit aggravated battery (both felonies) by an all-white jury in a trial where his public defender called no witnesses. During his trial, Mychal's parents were ordered not to speak to the media and the court prohibited protests from taking place near the courtroom or where the judge could see them.

Mychal is scheduled to be sentenced on July 31st, and could go to jail for 22 years.5 Theo Shaw's trial is next. He will finally make bail this week.

The Jena Six are lucky to have parents and loved ones who are fighting tooth and nail to free them. They have been threatened but they are standing strong. We know that if the families have to go it alone, their sons will be a long time coming home. They will lose precious years to Jena's outrageous attempt to maintain a racist status quo. But if we act now, we can make a difference.

Please add your voice to the voices of these families in Jena, and help bring Mychal, Theo, Robert, Carwin, and Bryant home. By clicking below, you can demand that Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco get involved to make sure that justice is served for Mychal Bell, and that DA Reed Walters drop the charges against the 5 boys who have not yet gone to trial.

Thank You and Peace,

-- James, Van, Gabriel, Clarissa, and the rest of the team
July 17th, 2007


1. "Injustice in Jena as Nooses Hang From the ‘White Tree,'" truthout, July 3, 2007

2. "Racial demons rear heads," Chicago Tribune, May 20, 2007

3. See reference #1.

4. See reference #1.

5. "'Jena Six' defendant convicted," Town Talk, June 29, 2007

Other resources:

NPR: Searching for Justice in Jena 6 Case (streaming audio)

Democracy Now! - The case of the Jena Six ...

Too Sense: Free The Jena Six Now

While Seated: Jena Six

Nooses, attacks and jail for black students in Jena Louisiana

Justice In Jena, by Jordan Flaherty

The Perpetrator becomes the Prosecutor (and other related entries)

'Stealth racism' stalks deep South

*** Michal Bell's conviction has been thrown out, but he remains in jail as lawyers decide whether to retry him as a juvenile.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Ribbed Lace Bolero Progresses

For some reason, I haven't been bringing books home to do work this week. I've been getting enough work done at school, so there's no reason to schlep books to and from school on my bike, right?

And that means I can knit instead of study, right?


This is the Ribbed Lace Bolero I'm working on for the wedding on Saturday. I definitely procrastinated too long on casting on for this. However, DK weight yarn on US 10 aluminum needles is going fairly fast. The needles are really long- 14"!- which means I can't knit in any chair that has arms. The needles hit the arms and break my knitting-stride. Which I don't really have with this pattern, as all the yo's and the ssk's slow me down a little.

I am glad to be working on the lace part, because I did the ribbing on wooden US 7s, and the wood needles really hated this yarn. The fiber really stuck to the needles and made it hard to slide the stitches around. We're doing much better on the 10s, though. And aluminum needles aren't that bad.

If I start having a lot of work to do later this week, which I'm sure I will, at least I'll have the plane ride to LA for knitting time. And while Mike is out partying it up bachelor-party style, I can stay in the hotel and knit, granny-style. (Or go party it up with his mom, whichever ;-)

PS- Yes, we have two pencil sharpeners. Who knows why? I don't even write with pencils.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Dinner for Two...

... Or, what I do when I don't bring books home from school.

Exhibit One: The last of our hand picked veggies. So colorful, so flavorful. I pan seared a red onion & cumin seeds (not hand picked), then simmered some green & yellow bell peppers and tomatoes with garlic, ginger, chili pepper, and Indian spices (specified by our great Indian cookbook). Sprinkle with garam masala and serve hot over rice.

Exhibit Two: Acorn squash "No wonder they call it squash"-ed bread. I made my own squash puree, then followed a recipe for Pumpkin Bread. I doubled the recipe, but obviously there wasn't enough baking powder to raise the loaves. Also, it lacks... something. I think it might be salt. Or maybe sugar. Or the delicious flavor of pumpkin. Mike suggested some apple butter.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Vegetable Love

A friend from New York was visiting this week. He and Mike went camping all week, while I was in class (Boo) but when they came back and I was done with class for the week, we went to Sauvie Island to pick vegetables for dinner.

Caleb and Mike are both excellent cooks- Caleb is starting culinary school sometime soon- and it was the first time Caleb actually went to the farm to pick his own dinner, so he was especially inspired to make something scrumptious.

We ended up with boatloads of delicious veggies (including strawberries! In September! Who knew?) and Caleb went to town in our little kitchen. He did two types of baked acorn squash (chili-spicy and brown-sugary), pan seared red peppers and onions, and delicious green beans with mustard seeds and toasted almonds. It doesn't look very appetizing here, mostly due to my totally lame photographic skills, but I promise, it was the essence of delicious. It is the most wonderful thing in the world to go from field to dinner in less than four hours. At 5 pm these veggies were still eating from their mamas, and at 8 pm, they were giving each other high fives in our mouths (Caleb's metaphors). Incredible.

While dinner was focused solely on fall - acorn squash and pumpkin beer- we leaped back to early summer with dessert. Amidst Caleb's frenzy in the kitchen, I whipped up my Grandmother's strawberry shortcake. It's just a simple baking powder biscuit, but it's so flaky, so light... I can never eat strawberry shortcake with angel food's cake or whatever other people serve it with. For me, it's Grandma's biscuits or nothing. Strawberries in September! Amazing.

Today, we took Caleb to the airport and drove around northeast Portland, looking for yarn stores until Ikea opened. We needed some cushions for the incredibly uncomfortable futon in our living room. And those you just can't get on Craig's List.

We're going to a wedding next weekend and I've been planning to make the Ribbed Lace Bolero to wear over my dress since this summer! The wedding is in LA, so it's probably not going to get too cold, so I'm wearing a fun summer dress and these little silver heels I've got, and I had a dream of the bolero in a light, silvery cotton yarn. I went to (the awesome and amazing) Yarn Garden shop in SE Portland, but couldn't find the right yarn. I had to go to Jo-Ann's to get the cheap (and oh-so-wonderfully soft) Lion Brand Microspun. (I know, I know- I'm a bad knitter. I tried to buy from the LYS, I really did. We went to 3 yarn stores before we found one that was open. But if you don't stock the right color yarn, I just can't help you.)

I've never seen this particular strain of Lion Brand, and even with the ridiculous splitting action, I have to admit to liking it. The designer of the bolero used Lion Bran Cotton Ease, which I'm convinced only exists in other people's blogs, because I've never seen it in a store, and when I've looked for it online, I get told that it's been discontinued. Is it just me? Anyway, Cotton Ease is worsted weight and Micro Spun is sport weight, so I dropped to size 7 needles for the ribbing, but I'm going to go ahead and to the lace part on 10s anyways. Mostly because I don't own any 9s, which would be the logical size to use.

The photo is of my swatch for this sweater. Yes, that is my entire swatch. I really hate swatching. All I can think when I'm doing it is, "I could be knitting something for REAL!" So I tend to do as little as possible to measure the fabric, and then rip it right out to cast on for the project. This here was 20 stitches over about 5 rows. So far, though, I've managed not to make any completely egregious gauge mistakes. I also haven not actually knit that many things from actual patterns in which gauge, like, matters.

Monday, September 10, 2007

I'm Not Dead Yet!

Just a note to let you all know that law school hasn't eaten me alive yet.

These are some gladiolas (gladioli?) Mike got for me at the Farmer's Market on Sunday. They are a gorgeous shade of bright red and really brighten up the living room. (I also have a vase of them on my desk.)

The silk painting is from a trip to China a few years ago- the large character means "Young people work hard for this beautiful world". It was a saying that resonated with me, after years of activism and organizing throughout undergrad. It also feels relevant now, as I work towards my law degree.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Bread and Roses

This weekend has been a great good-bye to summer.

We started out going to the downtown farmer's market on Saturday, and walked away with armloads of fresh kale, spinach, peppers, corn on the cob, and a package of grass-fed, sustainable and local ground buffalo. The corn and the buffalo (made into chipotle burgers) are on the grill now.

We've been having some really excellent game nights with our new law school friends, and last night was no exception. We went through an entire deck of Apples to Apples cards, which is a first for me. Mike wanted to make cookies to take over, but he's been sick (he just started work at a daycare center, and he got infected with baby germs). So he took a nap and I made cookies. Delicious, soft, chewy, melty peanut butter chocolate chip cookies. As close to cookie-perfection as one can come, if I do say so myself. So perfect, in fact, that a full 24 hours after baking the chocolate chips are still melted. The recipe, as always, was from the Cook's Illustrated New Best Recipes book.

You might notice, lurking in the background of that delicious looking spread of soy milk and pb-chocolate chip cookies some other, mysterious, no so perfect looking cookie. Those are the cookies I made today. We had plans to go to a potluck BBQ for a law school group, and I wanted to make something for any vegans that might show up. The bakery in Berkeley had a great vegan chocolate cookie recipe, which I tried to fudge. I started with the recipe for triple-chocolate cookies from the Cook's Illustrated cookbook, and substituted carob chips for the semi-sweet chocolate and bananas for the eggs. I should have added more flour and cooked them for a bit longer. What I got were chewy, not-so-chocolatey, banana flavored blobs.

Delicious, yes, but I think they'd be better crumbled up on ice cream. Or maybe crumbled up with some Bailey's Irish Cream (or some vegan alternative) drizzled on top. Or both. But as cookies, they didn't work out so well.

Amidst all this baking, I even made a fair amount of progress on the sweater! This is the completed back and right front, lounging in the garden. This sweater flies off the needles, when I actually work on it.