Saturday, December 20, 2008

Sometimes music hits like a sledgehammer

Bob Franke came to my notice when one of his songs, called For Real, hit me like a sledgehammer between the eyes. And then it offered healing.

Some of his songs are wonderfully joyous, especially The Great Storm is Over; some are just funny (like Boomerang Pancakes), all speak from his heart to the listener's.

So when I got email today from Bob about a new song, I clicked the link, and now I'm sharing it with you -- see the vodpod ribbon on the right.

-- Rachel Holmen

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Dickens Fair 2008

Dickens Fair vendor - smiling woman

Queen Victoria and escort

So much fun! Two friends and I went, and we had a ball. We took BART to Glen Park station and then caught a free shuttle, so no traffic or parking worries. We ate fabulous meat pies, drank mulled cider, bought among us a hat, some pirate socks, a hooded scarf, some beads, a stick puppet, and some fudge. We were tempted by corsets, jewelry, candles, fans, shawls, and yet more hats. Here's one of the vendors we visited -- she makes porcelain angel figures of everything from armadillos to zebras (including giraffes, dogs, and elephants); Queen Victoria and her handsome escort; and my two friends hamming it up under a Christmas tree. We may have to go back next weekend.

You can get a $5 discount just by showing your BART ticket; or buy online tickets at (I'd definitely recommend buying tickets in advance, since there was a bit of a wait otherwise.)

-- Rachel

Carla and Sam

Sunday, December 07, 2008


I made my contributions to the economy today: earrings from Dotty Calabrese (Just For Fun), a rag rug in a cheerful red for my bedroom (Margaret Thompson, Monterey Fiber and Design), a fragile but beautiful pottery bowl from "Forms In Clay" (Lyn Swan), some bookmarks made of interesting textured paper (Marie Kelzer Designs dot com), and a tiny upholstery fabric purse and a blue silk flower from Jennifer Shors. This was the second weekend of the Women's Building Craft Show, one that I always try to attend. It's held at Fort Mason in San Francisco; I lucked out today and found a good free parking place. (This probably offset the small traffic accident that had delayed me, when a white pickup backed into the front of my tiny Honda Civic.) -- Rachel Holmen

Saturday, November 29, 2008

VodPod lets you collect your favorite YouTube videos

Vodpod lets you store videos online; so far I have collected two (see at right). Vodpod dot com. But it wouldn't let me link a favorite flash video, I guess because it's not on YouTube: Love, Love, Kiwi (click on the "flash anim." icon).

-- Rachel Holmen

Monday, November 24, 2008

Blogging from Highway 99 -- the IHoP in Tulare

My departure from the Los Angeles area was somewhat delayed, so when I finally got going at 2:15 pm, I figured I'd better drive till dark before I made any stops. Somebody called as I drove through Delano, but my headset for my cellphone is in the trunk, so I let the call go to voicemail. Turns out I am missing the annual highlight of my quilt guild: our annual show and tell evening. Sigh. I hope somebody gets some good pictures.

But I bought gas for $1.899, the lowest I've paid in MONTHS, and then I found an IHoP -- I love their Swedish pancakes -- and they have wifi!!!!!

So here's a photo of the weird clouds overhead at the Tejon Pass (Tejon is pronounced TAY hone, rhymes with pay phone). There's a storm coming, and I'm glad I won't be in those hills when it hits.

-- Rachel

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Another photo of Mom

Another photo of my mom, taken when she was 84. -- Rachel

Marion Ethelyn Patton Holmen, Oct. 1920-Nov. 2008

Marion E. Holmen, age 88, of Hermosa Beach, California,
died on Saturday, November 15, 2008 after living with
Alzheimer's for over 20 years.

Marion was born in Twin Falls, Idaho, on October 16, 1920.
She is survived by her husband of 66 years, Milton; their
daughter Rachel, of Berkeley; their son Bruce of West Hills;
their daughter Joyce, of Sherman Oaks, and their son Scott,
of Silverdale, Washington. In addition, she is survived by
her sister Ardis Read, of Sacramento; her brother Roscoe
Patton, of Idaho Falls, Idaho, and her sister Beverly
McAlpine, of Thatcher, Arizona. She was preceded in death
by her sister Lorraine Whitaker, of Riverside, California.

She earned BS and MS degrees in Chemistry from the
University of Arizona, where she was Phi Beta Kappa and
where she and Milton met. During World War II she taught
chemistry at the University of Arizona then worked for
Polaroid in Boston. Following this, she worked as Director
of the Religious Education program at the UU Church in Santa
Monica. While raising four active children she found time
to chair the PTA, go square dancing, learn how to sail, and
travel the US visiting family, friends, and national parks.
Her leadership style was inclusive, and self-effacing. She
was artistic, creative, warm, shy and outgoing at the same
time, devoted to her husband and family, always inquisitive,
and generous with her time and affection.

A memorial service will be held at 11:00 am on Saturday,
November 22, at the Unitarian Universalist Community Church,
1260 18th St., Santa Monica,

Memorial gifts may be made to the Building Fund of the UU
Community Church, or to the Alzheimer's Association at (phone 323-930-6246).

Monday, November 17, 2008

Turkey Preparation for Thanksgiving (or any other time)

A repeat of an old post:

"The Only Way to Cook a Turkey", by a man whose other publications include THE LEFT-HANDED TENNIS PLAYER.

-- Rachel

Monday, October 13, 2008

It looked like all of Marin County was burning

I was out in Lafayette last night, quilting, and when I drove west through the tunnel, I was stunned to see what looked like most of southern Marin County on fire.

After listening to the radio for awhile, I learned that Angel Island was on fire. The whole island's only about 250 acres, so I'm worried it will all burn. There is a campground on the site, and wild deer (the original deer arrived by swimming across the bay from the mainland), and presumably a lot of other wildlife, so a big fire would be devastating.

Here's the shaky picture I got from my trusty Minolta camera, shot from near the highway 24 tunnel:

Wire-and-gem jewelry

My friend at work, Jodi-Lee, creates beautiful necklaces. She's been kind enough to show me her technique. Her website is

I particularly like her amethyst creations, and she's done stunning work with pearls and copper.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Need a humor break?

When you need a humor break, plug some headphones into your PC and go to this link:
Not Much dot Com archives

and listen to Part C where Bil Lepp talks about his neighbor and his friend Skeeter, from the archives online for the NPR show "Whad'Ya Know?" with host Michael Feldman (who always SOUNDS to me like Bob Newhart).

Lepp's own website is Buck-Dog dot com.

-- R

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Kumihimo (Japanese braiding)

The Oakland Museum recently held a "textiles day" with live demonstrations. I took photos of smocking and kumihimo until my camera battery ran out. This elaborate loom, worked in a way I had never seen before, was quite impressive. If you'd like the fullsize originals emailed to you (they're about a megabyte apiece for four pictures), please email me.

After I first posted this, Michael Hattori emailed and said that he's the braider in my photos (and that I had a typo on the site, now corrected). His "loom" is called a takadai and the pattern he wove, Kikkogumi. He is part of a kumihimo listserve on Yahoo Groups. The other braiding demonstrators at the museum were Richard Sutherland and Anne Rock. -- Rachel Holmen

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Sixties Light Show

My friend Linda was one of those 60s pioneers who performed light shows on screens behind rock bands. Here she is with her gear, at the end of a sixties party held at a friend's home. The two sets of platters hold different colored liquids; light shining through them was then reflected onto a screen -- last night just a sheet -- from the back, for the audience to enjoy.

-- Rachel Holmen

Baby Mittens

I'm through with the knitting on two thumbless baby mittens. I just need to find some nice ribbon to thread through the wrist eyelets so the mittens have some hope of staying ON the child who will wear them.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Clutter: progress and setback; verticalization

Recently I was stuck home for most of a week with pharyngitis (I think that's medical-ese for "gee, your throat looks red!") so I paid some attention to the area of my room near my bed. I have a small table, and things constantly fall off it onto the floor. I made a list of all the things I wanted on that table, or nearby (such as my purse), and it's no WONDER things won't fit. I resolved, as I felt better and the antibiotics began to take hold and vanquish the throat bugs, to improve the situation.

VERTICALization is the goal -- things on shelves, rather than things on the floor. I'll probably figure out a way to attach a powerstrip to the wall under my bedroom window, getting yet more stuff off the floor. So now I'm shopping for a small but tall shelving unit to hold baskets of STUFF -- knitting projects, library books, CDs, etc.; I will use the table only for the radio and my morning teacup (oh, what an optimist I am!).

I recently discovered a store called Ichiban Kan which sold some really nice plastic baskets, perfect for my plan. I used three to organize a shelf in the living room, and they worked marvelously. Bought more, took a couple of them to Ikea one evening and stuck them onto various shelves, looking for units deep enough to hold these particular baskets. I also want real wood this time for the shelving; I intend never to buy pressboard again if I can help it.

My aim is complete verticalization of the stuff I like to have near the bed -- a small but tall shelving unit for most things, the table only for the radio and my morning teacup (oh, what an optimist I am!). I haven't decided exactly which shelving unit to buy, but it was nice there were several possibilities at Ikea with shelves deep enough for my baskets. So yesterday I went back to Ichiban Kan to buy a dozen baskets -- and they are out of stock!!! I don't even know if I will ever see these particular baskets again, so I guess now I'm searching for a basket alternative (though Ikea itself offers some very nice cloth-and-stiffener containers exactly for this same purpose, of holding small odds and ends neatly on a shelf).
I also realized that I could move the small stereo from my living room (where it's mostly gathering dust) to the proposed bedroom shelving, where it would give me nicer sound than my cute retro-look but not-very-high-fi clock radio can offer.

pine shelves with red plastic doors

I progress by inches. If having a plan, but not much action, can be considered progress.

(I also found references to a well-reviewed book on designing a sewing studio, which I am hoping will inspire me. Details will be posted when I locate them.)

-- Rachel Holmen

Droodles and Roger Price

In my long-ago youth, I remember being vastly amused by a set of books with the title "Droodles". These were odd drawings whose witty captions convulsed me.

I was trying to remember a few of my favorites -- I recall a single vertical line in the center of a frame (all droodles had a thick black line around the outside) and two tiny triangles joined at the point. Most droodles had several alternate captions. The idea was to look at the picture, puzzle a few minutes, and then read the captions.

vertical line, two opposing triangles

This one was either "single strand of spaghetti, gift-wrapped", or "man with bow tie stuck in elevator".

- - - - - - -

So anyway, it's now the day of the internet, so I Googled "droodles", and found a wikipedia page about Droodles and their author, Roger Price. He had written for both Mad Magazine and for comedian Bob Hope, but after Droodles were a hit, he and a friend founded a book publishing company. You can read the whole thing yourself here, and see the Droodles website as well.

Me, I'm going to buy the Classic Droodles and track down a used copy of the first Droodles book, then share them my with 14-year-old nephews.

-- Rachel Holmen

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Weaving II -- Another source for Roving (what's roving???)

Aha! This is a followup post to my report on the weaving conference in Sacramento: I have found the lost name of a booth.

Small Logo of Chameleon

Chameleon Colorworks impressed me. This vendor offers something called OPTIM, wool that's been stretched so it no longer shrinks very much when YOU wash it later. Available either as yarn or as roving (plain or dyed). (Roving is fiber half-way to being yarn; it's usually fleece that has been carded and possibly dyed, sold as a continuous but very loose strand of fibers -- usually about an inch in diameter more or less. If you buy it, you probably intend to spin it using either a wheel or a drop spingle, into a much skinnier strand of yarn, which may then be plied with other strands to make a stronger yarn. But there are really cozy-warm socks you can make by simply stuffing roving in between the stitches.)

-- Rachel

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

NetSquared -- third set of photos

talking points


TSS staffers Sarah Washburn and Kevin Lo

you see?


intent conversation

the woman about to head up TechSoup Canada, and Matthew Halden

TechSoup staffers Alexis, Tim, Sal, Ron

More NetSquared Photos

decorated laptop - Creative Commons

decorated laptop -- TechSoup

decorated laptop - anime girl




The Problem -- informative poster


Cisco rep Williams

Everywhere, people were engaged in active conversation, gesturing, persuading. It was AMAZING. -- Rachel



pair at laptop


Craig Matoes and Jovan Watkins


Daniel and two participants

Marnie Webb and friend

decorated Mac laptop

Tuesday and Wednesday, TechSoup held its annual conference, NetSquared. I went Tuesday and took a million photos in the morning, then served as Speaker Support for four sessions in the afternoon -- find a bottle of water for one speaker, getting the video guys to fix the overly-pink screen for another presentation, urging the attendees to fill out the orange evaluation forms. Here are some of my favorite pix.
-- Rachel


... ...yucca blossom
yucca blossom

... ... ... ... ... ... ...... ... ...... ... ... ... ... ...
My friend Sandy gave me a yucca plant, and while I was deciding where to put it, it took root. Now it's sending up two huge spikes, easily 6 and a half feet tall, of buds, and some of the buds are opening. I got these photos by holding the camera over my head and aiming into the flowers. -- Rachel

Monday, May 05, 2008

Weavers in Sacramento

I went to a weaving show this weekend, sponsored by CNCH (conf of No calif handweavers). Thanks to a spot of car trouble, all I had time for was a quick dash through the vendor areas, but I did grab shots of these two exhibits: a modern Navajo-style rug loom, and an amazing rendition of what I assume was a Louis Comfort Tiffany stained-glass window, done as a rug.

Hokett Would Work - the H-shaped loom in cocobolo

Yarn barn of Kansas,, Great SCOT booklet-- this booklet offers a fascinating new set of techniques (based on research by Peter Collingwood, weaving and rug expert) for creating interesting cords which could be used for necklaces, bracelets, and other adornments.
The Dizzy Ewe, dyed roving -- 5 sets of related colors,
(909) 944-5567

Beautifully crafted and finished small looms, shuttles, etc.
Northwest Looms, 308 West Idaho St., Cheyenne, WY 82009, website

(307) 638-8003
eight-shaft, 15" weaving width, $490
offered in 8, 12, and 16 shaft models, ranging in price from $350 to
$600 for maple and oak; also available in cherry and walnut
Reeds available for 8, 10, 12, and 15 dents per inch, $28-$38
Prices do not include shipping
Clamp loom
2779 Hillcrest Dr, LaVerne CA 91750

-- Rachel Holmen