365 Days Handmade

Making life a better place, one day at a time

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Day 109/365: Pink and Yellow Striped Socks, Completed


A couple of socks, just hanging out.  Enjoying the sea otters off in the distance.

Today I got it in my head that I wanted to eat a large fisherman’s platter for lunch– you know, the meal consisting of deep fried battered fish and shrimp and scallops and calamari and clam strips, with a hefty side of deep fried French fries thrown in for good measure.  So this afternoon Sean and I walked down to Tognazzini’s Dockside Restaurant near the Embarcadero, and I was fully prepared to feast on a meal of a thousand calories… until we sat down and looked at the menu and my better sense kicked in.  I still ordered the fisherman’s platter, but asked for the seafood to be grilled and substituted rice pilaf for French fries.  I know, boooo.  But I also want to live to at least eighty, with relatively unblocked arteries.

After lunch, we walked down the Promenade and admired the sea otters that were gliding and twirling in the bay just several feet away from us.  I brought my completed pair of socks and took some photos.  I made this pair of socks for a friend, and I purposely started the second sock without matching the color sequence to the first sock.  I thought it would add a little more charm if the socks had mismatched stripes.  I’m hoping my friend will think so, too.


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Day 108/365: Catching Up on Down Time


With the exception of going out to lunch this afternoon with Sean in San Luis Obispo, I didn’t do much of anything today.  It was nice to just sit around and decompress.  While Sean graded papers, I made some progress on my sock.  I turned the heel and started the ribbing for the cuff.  I should be done with it tomorrow.

I’m already trying to decide on my next project and whether I will start another pair of socks or start another crocheted afghan.

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Day 107/365: Winding it Down


It’s hard to believe that a week ago today, we were in Minneapolis, it was my 100th post, and I met my longtime online friend Alisha for the very first time. 

It has been a busy week, jam-packed with all kinds of activities.  We traveled a lot and had a bunch of adventures.  We returned to California and went back to work.  Now it’s the start of my three-day weekend, and I am looking forward to doing absolutely nothing except sitting around the house here in Morro Bay and just knitting or crocheting.

Happy Friday!

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Day 106/365: Lifers Support Group Day


I don’t remember if I mentioned this before:  Every Thursday afternoon, I facilitate a support group for inmates who are serving life sentences.  The participants range in age.  The youngest is in his mid-30s, and the oldest is in his late 60s.  If I recall correctly, the minimum amount of time served by an inmate in the group has been fifteen years; the longest has been thirty-two years.

I’ve been running this group for well over a year, and the members have been through a lot with each other.  They conducted mock board hearings in which every week one of the participants was the subject of intense and challenging questions posed by the others who role-played commissioners of the Board of Parole Hearings.  They expected each other to be honest and accountable for their past actions and choices, and they didn’t hesitate to call out somebody if they thought he wasn’t being entirely truthful.

Last week I added a new member to the group, and today was his first day of attendance.  Given the cohesiveness that had developed over the past year among the group members, I wasn’t one bit surprised when, upon my introducing the new member to the rest, one of the other inmates immediately demanded, “Who did you kill?”

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Day 105/365: First Day Back At Work


Exactly one week ago, I was getting ready for our trip to Minneapolis.  It’s hard to believe how much stuff I did in the past seven days.  It also seems so amazing to me that we traveled to the Northern Mid-West and back to the Pacific Coast within a week.  It took months for the pioneers in covered wagons to cross the same terrain that we did.  But actually, when I stop to think about it, that in itself is really even more amazing.

I went back to work at the prison today and it was completely business as usual.  Luckily, I didn’t have to deal with any last-minute urgent referrals, emergencies, or difficult patients.  I did stay at my office until 6 PM, trying to finish the day’s progress notes and treatment plans and suicide risk evaluations.  When it got to be 6:00, I knew I had to pack it up.  Even though I cared about getting the job done, I also knew that the emotionally healthy thing to do was to go home and put the day behind me.

That’s another nice thing about taking vacations.  It helps to give you perspective on priorities and what really matters in life.


Day 104/365: Last Day of This Mini Vacation


I’ve been thinking a lot about our recent trip to Minneapolis and why I enjoyed it so much.  One reason was that I got to spend quality time with Sean, who I only see on my three-day weekends because during the week we live 150 miles apart.  (He’s in Ventura while I’m in Morro Bay.)  Another reason was that I got to meet and hang out with my longtime online pal Alisha.  It was so refreshing to bond with a female friend after all the time that I spend working among male inmates and male staff in a men’s prison.

Sean has said to me several times before:  “Working in the prison is changing your view of humanity.”  And it’s true.  When I’m out in the community, I view the world through the lens of someone who has seen the worst in human nature.  When Sean and I were riding on public transit through downtown Minneapolis, I couldn’t help thinking that it would be so easy for someone to jump on the light rail without paying, or deface the clean interior with graffiti, or snatch people’s cell phones out of their hands, or hold a gun to their face and demand their wallet and valuables.  These are the things that I know a person is capable of doing to another person, and I expect it to happen.

In Minneapolis, however, I kept noticing little things that showed me that people can still be inherently good.  On our first day walking through downtown, Sean and I started to cross the street and a taxi driver made a left-hand turn at the intersection and drove across our path.  There was still a lot of room in the crosswalk, so he didn’t exactly cut us off, but he held up a hand and meekly waved in apology.  That is something you will never see in Los Angeles.

Another time, I watched a college student running to catch the light rail before it pulled away from the station.  She quickly held her rail pass against the electronic detector, but in her hurry, the card didn’t scan and the machine beeped an alert.  Rather than keep going and just jumping on the rail, she stopped, turned back, and made sure that her barcode scanned properly, as a conscientious, decent human would do.  I was impressed.

Other things about the city impressed me.  From the airport to our hotel to downtown, we were easily able to get around by foot and public transportation.  If it had snowed heavily, we could have used the skyways to avoid much of the bad weather.  I didn’t see any graffiti or gang tagging on buildings or signs.  I noticed that there were plenty of trash and recycling receptacles around.  Having a chronic dry cough left over from my week with the flu, I was constantly unwrapping cough drops, but I didn’t have to keep the wrappers in my pocket for very long.  Pretty much on every block, I could expect to see a receptacle where I could toss my trash.  I also noticed that there was almost no litter on the ground, everywhere we went.  I’m pretty sure those ubiquitous trash and recycling receptacles had something to do with that.  Minneapolis is a city that takes care of its own.

Tomorrow I go back to work at the prison.  I’m hoping that there will be no crises or difficult patients to deal with, just so I can slowly ease back into that world and hold onto my renewed faith in humanity for a little while longer.

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Day 103/365: The Monday After Minneapolis

Last night there were thunderstorms right before we were scheduled to take off, so we sat in the plane and didn’t roll away from the gate for at least forty-five minutes.  I didn’t mind waiting, because I had my knitting and was able to turn the heel of my sock and start the ribbing for the cuff.

We had a fairly comfortable flight with no turbulence.  The plane landed at LAX at 11:20 PM Pacific Time, but my body and brain were still two hours ahead with Minneapolis time.  After waiting for my bag at baggage claim, we still had to catch the shuttle to long-term parking, pick up our car, and make the drive back to Ventura.  We didn’t get home until around 1:30 AM, I think.  I’m not sure, because the minute I walked in the door, I went straight to bed.

Today I had 150 miles more to travel to my final destination, our house in Morro Bay.  Then I had a handful of errands to run, including going to the accountant to pick up our completed tax paperwork so that we can meet the April 15 deadline.

I meant to take photos of my current sock in progress, but I didn’t have time for that today.  So instead, I will share with you pictures of the statues that we looked at yesterday when we were in downtown Minneapolis and in downtown St. Paul.  With all the traveling and miles covered since then, I can’t believe that I took these photos just yesterday.


The Mary Tyler Moore statue in downtown Minneapolis.


Charlie Brown and his dog Snoopy at a park in downtown St. Paul.

Charlie Brown, his dog Snoopy, and their pal Sean.

Charlie Brown, his dog Snoopy, and their pal Sean.

Lucy and Schroeder.

Lucy and Schroeder.

Linus and Sally.

Linus and Sally.

Linus and Sally and their pal Sean.

Linus and Sally and their pal Sean.

Woodstock, Marcie, and Peppermint Patty.

Woodstock, Marcie, and Peppermint Patty.

Sean blocking Peppermint Patty's kick.

Sean and Peppermint Patty.


Woodstock, Marcie, Peppermint Patty, and their pal Sean.


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Day 102/365: Last Day in Minneapolis


Sean and I are not vegetarians, but we generally try to eat on the healthier end of the diet spectrum.  This morning we had breakfast at the Hard Times Cafe, which serves vegan and vegetarian food.  It was way better than anything we would have gotten at Applebee’s, which is just outside our hotel.

We’re now back in the hotel room, and I am writing this post to make sure I complete the day’s entry.  We have to check out at noon, but our flight isn’t until 8:40 this evening.  So we’re going to explore the city by foot and by light rail after we check out, and then we’ll have to head to the airport two hours before our flight, and then we have a three-and-a-half-hour flight, and then we have to drive the 60 miles from Los Angeles back to Ventura, and then Sean has to go back to work tomorrow.  Good thing Monday is my regular day off.

We have a couple of things we plan to do this afternoon while we’re out and about.  Sean wants to go find more Peanuts statues; we already found one of Lucy.  I want to see the Mary Tyler Moore statue, which I believe is located around the area where she was filmed throwing her blue tam o’shanter in the air for the opening credits of The Mary Tyler Moore Show.  If I lived here in Minneapolis, I would knit a blue tam and slip it onto the statue late at night.  But since I’m already thinking of coming back next year, I could knit a statue-sized one when I get back home and bring it with me next time.  Something tells me, though, that I wouldn’t be the first one to have come up with that idea.

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Day 101/365: 3rd Day in Minneapolis


One of the reasons I enjoy knitting socks is that they are portable and you can take one with you almost anywhere.  Like when you are sitting at a booth at the AWP Conference, for example.

Today was the last day of the conference.  I spent some time at the booth, and then Alisha and her family picked me up at the convention center and she and I got to talk and have lunch and hang out as friends do.  It was as if we’d known each other forever.

Tomorrow is our last day in Minneapolis.  So far, I’ve had nothing but positive experiences here.  I’d always heard about Minneapolis being a cool city, and it’s true.  I’m already thinking about coming back next year.

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Day 100/365: One Hundred!


The city of Minneapolis this afternoon. You would never guess that it just snowed that morning.


See? Sean and I were walking in it just five hours earlier.

Today makes my 100th entry on this blog!  It’s also a very special day because…  well, I’ll tell you why in a minute.

Back in 2002, Sean and I went to an art exhibit in Los Angeles where different “lowbrow” artists were being featured.  One of those artists was a woman named Lisa Petrucci.  I really admired her painting that was included in the show.  That evening, I went through her whole website, enjoying her portfolio and looking at other websites that she endorsed.  One of those other websites was called This Is Blythe, and that is how I learned about the 1972 Kenner Blythe.  I was very much drawn to Blythe and became a collector shortly afterwards.

TIB had a small online forum at the time, where you could create a thread on a topic and engage in conversations with other Blythe collectors.  That’s where I met my online pal Alisha, who shared a lot of my interests and sensibilities.  She lived in Minneapolis and I was in California, but it was as if we’d grown up together and had been childhood friends.  We could have easily played with the same dolls and toys and had sleepovers and gotten along wonderfully.

As Blythe became more and more popular, the online forum grew and then was revamped to a much larger site that drew thousands and thousands more people.  Eventually, Alisha and I both stopped posting there altogether and switched over to another website called LiveJournal.  Then we each got busier with our own lives and lost touch for a while… until Facebook showed up and we found each other there in 2008.  We have been Facebook friends since then, keeping up with each other’s lives through photos and status updates.

A few months ago, Sean said to me, “The AWP Conference is in Minneapolis this year.  Want to go?”

He already knew the answer to that one.

I got in touch with Alisha to let her know that we would be flying out to Minneapolis, and she was just as excited as I was.  I looked forward to our meeting.  On Wednesday while I was inside the prison and walking among the inmates on the yard, I thought, In just a few days I am going to be in Minneapolis where it will be like a world away.  It didn’t seem real that after all these years of being online pals, we would actually get to meet in person.

Tonight Sean and I caught the light rail to downtown Minneapolis and then walked a few blocks to Pizza Luce, where Alisha and her husband and three children were waiting outside to meet us.  I couldn’t help screaming in excitement in the last few steps as we approached.  It was just like meeting up with a long-time childhood friend after over a dozen years.