Tuesday, August 31, 2010

For the Littlest Angels Baseball Fan I Know

Here's another very late 1st birthday present for my college friend's daughter. This happens to be a big baseball family--my friend, Mrs. G. is an Angels fan, while her husband, Mr. G., is a Dodger fan. I do have fabric for both teams, but since I love the Angels, their daughter gets an Angels blanket. Sorry Mr. G.

The pattern is a Single Irish Chain Block, with four-inch blocks. It's pretty easy and quick to make.

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Car

On Saturday my car went back to the dealership to have its crankshaft sensor replaced. They took care of the work in just over half-a-day, so I got my car back on the same day.

It is driving better; and by "better" I mean that the rough idle has lessened (although it still does not idle as smoothly when the AC is running). So far there have been no points where the idle runs low to the point of stalling. Unfortunately I am still scared that my car will stall, and I experience slight moments of panic whenever I am turning in an intersection. I am also maniacally turning down the radio to listen for any hissing noises coming from the AC.

There is no update on anything from the car company's Consumer Affairs department. I called them back as instructed now that the crankshaft sensor work has been completed, and they asked me to go through the same process of submitting paperwork. However, they are not sure if they received the fax I sent on the morning of Friday, August 27. Ugh.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Car Watch 2010

Today was Business Day 3. I gave the car company about half the day to call me, and then I called them myself. Of course the associate who I spoke with on Monday was not available, so I talked to yet another person in Consumer Affairs.

Shockingly, there was a new development: They asked me to fax a proof of purchase (receipt), the repair order, and proof of ownership (current DMV registration). These three items will serve as a request for reimbursement for the condenser. The crankshaft sensor [supposedly] cannot be addressed until the actual repair is completed. As this was a new development, I asked why they only asked for these items now. Besides the remark "We need to see a receipt because you could be making up any payment amount," I was told that they were only instructed to collect this information on August 24.

August 24? That was two days ago. Why am I only finding this out on August 26? Why do I have to call them to find this out? The associate had no answer for me as to why no one from the car company could call me back; that is except for, "Sorry." Haven't they heard, "sorry" isn't good enough?

Unfortunately, it was clear that we would go round-and-round if I asked why no one from corporate ever contacts me. Instead, I took the instructions down, confirmed them, and asked questions like:

Q: When can I expect to hear from you?
A: In one to five business days from the time we receive your information.

Q: Does this mean I'm getting reimbursed?
A: There is always a chance you will not be reimbursed.

Q: Will someone really call me back?
A: You should receive a phone call in one to five business days regarding the status of your case.


Of course I did not have my registration on-hand as my car is sitting at home in its currently unsafe-to-drive state. So, I called back to ask if I could submit my title instead (I keep my car stuff in a binder, and had a copy of my title). The answer was no. The title is insufficient, and I must submit the current registration. Things are delayed yet another day.

The most interesting part of this call was that this associate let it slip that the crankshaft sensor is being considered for partial reimbursement. The previous associate had told me that the crankshaft sensor would be dealt with once I had the car repaired, so I tried to question this associate about her statement. She deflected my inquiry and brushed it off as, "I misspoke. I read through your file quickly and misunderstood it." Hmmm...

"Hmmm" is right. Guess what corporate office? I was supposed to get a phone call from the dealership this morning about the part that should have arrived, and naturally the call never came through. I am tired of this lack of communication, so now I just call and find out what's going on. The dealership informed me that the part was not yet in (of course it's not), and they also shared that they spoke with the corporate office. Turns out that the corporate office is considering a partial reimbursement.

A partial reimbursement? A partial reimbursement?! Really?

From what I have read, the crankshaft sensor is an "integral" part of an engine. Gosh, it's even referred to as the "most important sensor in modern day engines." It seems fair to say that this major component should not fail right after a car reaches its 100K/5-year warranty. Especially if a car company has less than 5% of the US auto market cornered.

It seems appropriate to want to bang my head against the desk just like Mad Men's Peggy did in "The Rejected" episode.

My car still gives me a headache. I have not been able to safely drive it for nearly a week. My car and I (and Seth) have been to the dealership every month since March, except for April. I have been calling the corporate office since the beginning of July, and despite repeated declarations of "Someone will call you back in X to Y business days," neither X, nor Y ever happens. Headache after headache, after headache.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

I Lament Over My Car, I Gush Over Mockingjay

Business day two has come and gone without a phone call or email from the car company. Guess I will have to call them tomorrow, and soon start calling them by their actual name.

Despite this chronic headache induced my car troubles, the bright spot in my day was finishing Suzanne Collins' Mockingjay. It was wonderful! Okay, really it was intense, totally made me anxious, it and made me cry; but it was exactly what I wanted from the last book in the Hunger Games series. Suzanne Collins wrote a fantastic story, and she kept my attention the entire way through.

I love her writing style. Ms. Collins is concise and witty, and she holds nothing back. I mean nothing. It makes for some harsh realities, but without the difficult moments, Mockingjay would not be the great book that it is. I found it to be a refreshing change from the usual young adult fiction book.

Thank goodness for the August 24 release date. It certainly helped to have Mockingjay as a distraction from the dreaded car. I actually might go and wallow in the Hunger Games a little more just for the welcome relief.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Car Watch 2010 and Two Better Bits of News

First, an update on Car Watch 2010: It has been one business day since I sent faxed my letter to the car company's corporate office, as well as since I spoke to someone in the Consumer Affairs department. There has been no response on either front. The person I spoke to in the Western Region Consumer Affairs department gave me no timeline of when I could expect to hear from them. However, the person I spoke to via the 1-800 number said I should hear back from someone in one to two business days. Business day one is down, so that leaves them with one left. The dealership did call me back with a new quote for the parts and labor for my crankshaft. It's not the restitution I seek, but it's better than the initial quote.

And now for the two bits of better news.

My sister launched her website! That's right, Mindy Metivier Photography is on the World Wide Web, where you can see her work online, read a little bit about her, and hopefully book a session. She will soon be launching a blog as well.

Finally, August 24 has arrived! In other words, it's the release date for Suzanne Collins' Mockingjay. My copy from Barnes and Noble arrived right on time, and I have put Ender in Exile on hold so that I could read the final installment of the Hunger Games trilogy. If you will excuse me, Mockingjay calls.

Monday, August 23, 2010

My Car is Sick

My car makes my head hurt. Since March of this year it has been on 11 trips to the dealership--11 because for every repair it must first be diagnosed. Most of the problems were related to the air conditioning; except for one time in June when it was in the shop because of the AC and because it stalled twice while I was driving it. Now it's a crankshaft sensor issue. Did I mention that my car is five years old?

My head hurts. What makes it worse is the lack of response I have received from both the dealership and the corporate office. Initially the problems were covered under warranty, but when the problem was identified as a major component the dealership decided they would no longer cover repairs. So, I turned to the corporate office. Since I initially filed a case with them in July, I have received one phone call back, and that woman left a message. I returned her call but never received a call back. Today, I finally caught up with her.

Don't think that she called me back. I called her this morning to try and talk to someone about the crankshaft issue and to find out if any decisions have been made about my AC. I got her voicemail, left a message and then realized that I should probably get her last name. So, I called back a little later (she says her full name in her message), and she actually picked up this time.

She said I could fax her the letter I wrote; a letter which outlines all my trips to the dealership, my concerns and frustrations...so I faxed the letter. And I mailed one to the corporate office. Now I guess I'm in the proverbial holding pattern, and we'll see how long it takes for them to get back to me. I hope it's not long because I'm near the end of my patience, and I'm trying really hard to be polite and non-threatening.

Let's face it though, it's a monumental task to maintain my composure when my safety was at risk three days ago because my car stalled twice while I was driving it.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Wonder If She'll Like This One

I'm not going to lie. My hands kind of hurt. I don't usually knit this often, or for so many hours in a row, but I'm having fun with these cocoons.

This one is made with Bamboo Ewe yarn in Lipstick, and is 55% viscose from bamboo and 45% wool. It has a decent feel, and just the right amount of stretch.

The opening bugged me because I didn't care for the way in which it lay, and I almost took this apart and started all over again. Then I thought about adding some sort of embellishment to keep the flaps open in a nice way, but I changed my mind. I decided not to do a little extra because I think my sister will want to be able to manipulate the cocoon in whichever way she pleases. Well, she can for this one, but I'm definitely adding something fun to future projects!

By the way, I realized that I skipped a couple of rounds in the pattern I included in the Knitting Adventure post from last week, so I made some edits. Sorry about that, but I guess that's what happens when you don't write the pattern out before you type.

Thursday, August 19, 2010


AngelologyAngelology by Danielle Trussoni

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Two stars for being predictable, but three starts for being interesting and for spooking me out.

Danielle Trussoni's Angelology had so much potential. The angelology itself was intriguing, as well as new to me. And, then there was this amazing secret world that she created, filled with magnificently frightening beings; gone were my preconceived ideas of benevolent and glorious angels. Trussoni's don't conjure up verses of Hark the Herald in my head.

Between the religion, the historical fiction and theory, I started to feel a little supernatural terror, and Trussoni grasped my attention so that I hoped she would take the road less traveled. Unfortunately, she did not. Instead, she took the obvious path, and now I'm not sure if I will read the next one (oh, there's got to be a next one). I think I'll read Katherine Neville's the Eight again instead.

View all my reviews »

Saturday, August 14, 2010

A Knitting Adventure

My sister has more faith in my knitting abilities than I do. Several months ago she asked if could make her a baby cocoon because she loves the ones she has seen other photographers use in their work.

I immediately began looking online and in yarn stores for patterns, but there are very few to be found, and almost entirely in crochet. Crochet does notwork for me because I just don't get it, so that was not an option. I found a baby stork sack pattern from the kipknitzed blog, and I did try the pattern out, but it was still not quite what I was looking for in a cocoon. Ultimately, I decided I could venture out of my knitting comfort zone and piece together a pattern since the cocoons look like really big and extra-long hats to me. It seems like the prototype worked out okay, but we'll see what my sister says when she gets in the mail.

Here is what I did for this particular cocoon:

Yarn (Serenity Chunky Weight in Almond)
Size 9 Circular Needle, 16"
Stitch marker ring
  1. Cast on 64 stitches (or gauge to get a cocoon with an eight-inch diameter).
  2. *R1: Knit; R2: Purl
  3. Repeat R1/R2 until work measures 6 1/2" from the edge
  4. Knit in the round (use stitch marker to mark the beginning of the row).
  5. Continue until work measures 18" from the edge.
  6. Round 1: *K6, K2tog (repeat from * to end)
  7. Round 2: Knit
  8. Round 3: *K5, K2tog (repeat from * to end)
  9. Round 4, 5, 6: Knit (all remaining even number rows)
  10. Round 7: *K4, K2tog (repeat * to end)
  11. Round 9: *K3, K2tog (repeat * to end)
  12. Round 11: *K2, K2tog (repeat * to end)
  13. Round 12: *K2, K2tog (repeat * to end)
  14. Round 13: *K1, K2tog (repeat * to end)
  15. Cut yarn and weave through remaining stitches. Pull to close top of the hat.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A Saturday in Mendocino

Usually I don't do hiking, but one day Seth came home from work and told me about how one of his co-workers went hiking in Mendocino and saw this place called the "Pygmy Forest" where the trees were dwarfed because of the acidity of the soil. This sounded like something neat to see, so I immediately looked it up online.

The Pygmy Forest is located in Van Damme State Park, which is in Mendocino County, California. The park's website said it would be a seven-mile hike, roundtrip. Still, I was intrigued, so last weekend we went out to Mendocino.

The hike itself is really pretty, especially if you like trees and ferns. The trail splits off about a mile in and you can take a path that's about 1.2 miles to the Pygmy Forest, or you can take a 2.3 mile hike on the Fern Canyon Trail. Since both trails lead to the same spot, we ended up taking the shorter route in, and then the longer route out. The shorter trail is steeper, while the longer trail has more bridges and stairs (yes, stairs in a forest). The trees are dense and tall and block out most of the sun, until you get to the Pygmy Forest. Then all of a sudden you can clearly see the sky, and there is just a different kind of foliage.

The forest itself is a bit of a letdown. I think we were both expecting smaller trees covering a large mass of land. Don't get me wrong, the trees are small and skinny, but my mind processes them as just being young trees. It helps to read the posted signs which talk about how tall Bishop Pines normally grow, and just how old the trees are (some of them have been around for a century). The Pygmy Forest does not cover a huge tract of land, and apparently other such forests existed in the area, but we humans have destroyed them.

All-in-all, it's a great way to get some exercise and see part of the California coast. After you finish the hike (it took us about three and a half hours), you can drive to Mendocino or Fort Bragg and enjoy a nice lunch. We ended up grabbing a quick bite at the Mendocino Bakery & Cafe (try the clam chowder, but skip the deep dish pizza), and then drove back on the 128 to Handley Cellars for some wine tasting.

They were having a wine and food pairing that day, so it was too bad we had just eaten a late lunch. We did enjoy the wine tasting part (it's free by the way), and we ended up picking up a bottle of their Riesling to take home. The tasting room has a neat atmosphere, and you should definitely ask about the decor (a nice story, and a bit of family history I think).

After Handley, we stopped at Meyer Family Cellars and tried their Syrah and Port. The 2004 Syrah was nice, and we came home with a bottle of that as well. By now we were ready for a shower and a relaxing dinner, so we tried Healdsburg. Unfortunately, everyone else was staying in Healdsburg last weekend, and the only rooms available were $250+, and we ended up driving back to the East Bay. Maybe next time we'll stay out in Mendocino and Fort Bragg and visit their breweries.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Mindy Metivier Photography

My sister has done something I am too much of a chicken to do. She started her own business, Mindy Metivier Photography. She has always loved being behind the camera, and she's finally taken a break from her job as a teacher and gone all-in!

Mainly she plans to focus on photo sessions for babies, kids and families, but she does have a fine art collection. I am totally biased, but I love her work, and a canvas print of the Golden Bridge photo hangs in my home.

Her website and blog will soon go live, but for now you can find her on Facebook or send her an email for her prices.

Congratulations Min! I'm proud and I'm jealous. Ganbatte!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

For My Summer Vacation I Went to Pennsylvania

Part of my summer vacation was spent in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Mainly, the trip was for Seth's cousin's wedding, but we also squeezed in a day trip to Bernville so that I could meet my paternal grandfather's niece.

Prior to last week, I have never had the chance to meet someone from that side of my family since my grandpa was from Reading and no one ever came out to Hawaii while I was growing up. It was a very cool experience, and we actually spent six hours at their house! Hopefully they didn't mind that we stayed so long. Because Mr. and Mrs. G. live in Bernville, Seth and I were able to drive through a part of the state we would have otherwise never seen. We also got to see what a farmhouse from the 1700s looks like since Mr. G. restored it when they moved in decades ago.

Mr. and Mrs. G. generously shared with us tickets to the Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square. It was amazing! The grounds are beautiful, and it was a nice way to spend the afternoon. The Conservatory was my favorite part of Longwood, but I also enjoyed the Idea Garden and the Italian Water Garden. It doesn't seem like you can walk through the Italian Water Garden, but it's quite an amazing sight from the bridge.

Now for the important part of the trip: the wedding. This was not your usual hotel ballroom type of wedding; rather it was a camping wedding! Seth's cousins were married at the Brandywine Picnic Park in Coatesville, and after the ceremony and reception, everyone was invited to camp overnight. We hardly knew what to expect, and I think it's fair to say we were all pleasantly surprised. It was a beautiful, outdoor setting, and they had tents set-up in case of rain. Dinner was served family-style, and it was delicious! The camping part was okay, but anyone who knows me knows that I am not an outdoor kind of girl, so my take on the camping (especially when there's no running water) is always skewed negative. All-in-all, it was a great experience. I think what I liked best is that because this was not your usual wedding, and it was a little difficult to get to, you knew what everyone there have a special love for Seth's cousin and his wife.

Three final things about this trip:

  1. I had my most intimidating dining experience ever when I learned how to order a cheesesteak properly at Pat's King of Steaks. You don't say "Can I please get..."; you say "Whiz wit" if you want onions or "whiz witout" if you don't want onions. You pay quickly, and the short way of ordering keeps the long line moving and the cheesesteaks coming.

  2. The beers were excellent. My favorite was probably the Victory HopDevil.

  3. If you're wondering how the Eagles quilt was received, the bride and groom loved it. They had the best reaction ever, and I am so glad I took the time to make them a quilt.