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I had an appointment at the VA at 8:30 Friday morning for my yearly well-check.  I was originally supposed to go the day my dad passed away, but I had to cancel and reschedule it.  I really didn’t want to go on a Friday morning knowing I’d have to work until midnight, but this was the soonest appointment I could get.  The next available appointment wasn’t until November.   We reviewed my health status, scheduled lab work, got my prescriptions renewed, and I got a pneumonia vaccine and a shingles vaccine.  (Both arms are rather unhappy with me at the moment.)  I’ve just finished my shift, and a bacon and tomato sandwich on potato bread with some ripe olives to crunch on the side, in that order.  It’s been a long day, but I have to stay up until my “normal” bedtime so as to get back on schedule.

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State of the blankie Thursday evening compared  to . . .

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. . . the state of the blankie the previous Monday

Thursday, I went on an “Inspector Morse” bender. To parenthesize the reason for my spasm of TV watching, I upgraded my Suddenlink TV to TIVO  — which is available at no extra charge — and which allows you to watch Netflix on your TV — assuming you have a Netflix subscription, which I do, hence my easy access to all extant episodes of “Inspector Morse,” which I viewed in a pristine, commercial free state!    The devil didn’t catch any rec time, however, as my hands were not idle (see above).  My Calvinist ancestors would have been pleased.  I have a growing baby blankie and shrinking balls (don’t go there!).

 

IMG_1825When I went to make my sandwich, I noted the grey kitty had been on top of the trash can/dusbin.*   (The human word “No”  translates into kitty as “Not while I’m looking.”)  I spotted little kitty spoor on the lid, which also tells me she was on the counter and in the sink while she was up there.  The prints are hers by process of elimination.  They are too small to belong to anyone else.

Of  the formerly male members of the escadrille, the white one is really no good at jumping, never has been, and won’t even try it unless he’s practically positive there’s something in it for him that will amply justify not only the effort necessary to get him aloft but also his looking like a complete prat in the process.  This is partly because he has so much fur in between his paw pads that he has very iffy traction on any kind of a smooth surface, either fore or aft, and partly because he’s just not good at jumping. He’s an elder statesman now, anyway, and he’d much rather mill about on the floor and whinge about not having whatever it is he thinks is up there that he’s convinced he ought to haveIMG_1824.   The black one has a rather basic problem in getting off the ground, namely that he is a 15-pound tub of lard.  He could probably make it, but the umph he would need to get him up onto the trash can, in combination with his heft and stainless steel’s notable lack of traction, would generate enough inertia to slide him right off the other side of it.

The grey one, however, is nimble, light, and not at all afraid of heights.   She climbs like a monkey, in fact.  I have learned the hard way not to leave dishes in the sink.  She, snug/smug in her kitty cleverness, will “forage” among them for remnants of whatever the dishes once contained and/or will drink any water she may find therein.  Invariably, she will refund it later onto whatever happens to be in front of her when the urge strikes her.  She has narrowly missed my favorite pair of shoes on several occasions.

In other news, we have two budding knitters at the knitting group — two young girls, probably 7 and 9, sisters, and their great dad, who is willing to sit with them amid a gaggle of older women, while their mother takes their brothers into the library.  (The knitting group is held in a “community use room” at a branch of the city library.)  It is delightful to see parents willing to bring their children to a library.  I have a big bin full of “oddballs” — balls of yarn of various sizes left over from this and that — that I need to do something with because it’s sitting out in the middle of the floor.  There’s no room for it in the closet.   I plan to sort through it  and pull out some colorful yarn to give to the girls.  Several of us make a point to bring knitting needles or crochet hooks we’ve thinned out from our respective caches and some surplus yarn which we are willing to give away on the off chance that someone will come wanting to learn, but who doesn’t know what to buy in the way of needles or yarn.

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Did I mention he eats paper?

While I’m sorting through the yarn, I plan to pull out some yarn to knit some hats for three little nappy heads.  The people across the way are moving Monday.  They are a nice couple with three cute little kids, and I will be sorry to see them go not least because I fear what kind of neighbors I might get to replace them — like some college kids who will want to party hearty all weekend while I’m trying to work.   Ugh.   I expect I’ll find out what kind of neighbors I’ll be getting on or about 1 Nov.  Maybe I’ll luck out.  Again.

2014_10_24-07At some point very soon, I need to vacuum.  The white one has been earnestly dematting himself and there are tufts of white fur all over the house (a right is his self appointed place to lie while I’m working).   Also, I crumple pieces of waste paper and throw them on the office floor for him to eat, to keep him from climbing up on my desk and getting into the paper in my printer.  Now, in addition to partially munched big pieces of paper (see above), there are a plethora of little pieces the grey one has torn off and left lying about  like a residue of feathers.  Sigh.

 

 

*Every trash can in this house has a secureable lid, because if it didn’t the white one would overturn it and rummage through its contents.  Did I mention he eats paper?

Moving Right Along . . .

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2014_10_20-01I caught up on my TV viewing last night.  Watched three episodes of NCIS, and the latest episode of Rehab Addict, knitting the while.  As you can see, I got quite a bit accomplished.  Because of the “K3, yo” bit at the start of every row, each row is one stitch longer than the last row, so it takes progressively longer and longer to knit a row.  I’ve probably fourpled the area that I put on after I ripped it out and started over Sunday night.   Compare with Sunday night’s progress …

2014_10_19-02As you can see, this is going much, much faster. The pointed end at the bottom tends to curl, so you don’t see how much pointier it is now.  I had the TV table set-up above sitting by my chair in the living room.  I’m ordering the 48-inch needle tonight and at this rate, it ought to arrive just in time.   I really like the Clover Takumi bamboo needles.  They don’t click and they’re not really slippery like metal pointed circular needles.

I’ve got to go get ready for the knitting group now.  Still have about half a ball’s worth to go on my triangular shawl.  I’ll take that project to work on.

As The Twig Is Bent . . .

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Yesterday, I saw a commercial on TV for this:chairIt’s called the Fisher Price Laugh And Learn Smart Stages chair

Is it just me? or is anybody else really bothered by the fact that there is now a toy for toddlers that teaches them to sit in a chair and press numbers on a TV remote?  They even admit that’s what it’s for.  To quote them, ” Busy activities like turning the book pages, pressing the remote control buttons . . .”   I suppose I should be slightly mollified that “turning pages in a book” is one of the sedentary activities it promotes, but somehow, I’m just deeply disturbed by the whole concept.

O tempora o mores . . .

Yer Doin It Rong

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Last night, I ripped out the striped baby afghan that I was doing on a size US 5/UK 9/3.75 mm circular needle and restarted it on a size US 8/UK 6/5.0 mm 36-inch long circular knitting needle, one of my sets of Clover Takumi bamboo knitting needles.  (If you don’t like metal needles because they’re too slick, you might try these bamboo needles.  They come in straight and double pointed as well as circular styles.  They are also more environmentally friendly than metal needles. I get mine from Amazon.com.)

Old way

Old way, twisting the yarn when I changed colors

I ripped it out because it was going painfully slow, and because I didn’t like how the yarn looked as it was being carried up the side.   I put it on the bigger needles so it will go faster.  I’m trying to get it done by this Christmas! Since I’m doing two-row stripes (out and back), rather than twisting the yarn before I start in on the next color, I just pull the new color up without wrapping it around the other color in any way. You can’t even tell the yarn is being carried, so the carrying edge looks just like the other edge.  It wouldn’t matter if I was knitting a piece of something, like a sweater front, that was going to be sewn to other pieces, but this is a blanket, so all edges will be visible, and I want them all to look the same.

New Way.  You can't even tell a color is being carried.

New Way. You can’t even tell a color is being carried.

This time, I also started the blanket in a different way and I got a pointier looking corner.  The way the pattern is written, it looks like the diagonal “corners” (where you start and end the piece) had the points “clipped off.”  I didn’t like that look.   Here’s how I began it. (Kfb = knit front and back of the stitch.)

Row 1:  Cast on 3 stitches.
Row 2:  K1, Kfb1, K1
Row 3:  K1, Kfb1, K2
Row 4:  K2, Kfb1 K2
Row 5:  K2, Kfb1, K3
Row 6:  K3, yo, K to end of row, etc.

When I get the thing made, I’ll post the full revised pattern that includes the decrease portion.

2014_10_19-02There are several complicating factors with this blanket.  In the first place, the two color stripes.  You’ve got to change colors every two rows, even when you’re starting out, so that’s tricky.  Then, there’s the fact that the circular needle I’m using is 36 inches long.  The “free” end wants to sproing about because the plastic bit wants to curl.  Of course, once the piece is about three times the size it is now, that won’t be a problem.  I’m ordering a 48-inch circular needle because I want the blanket to be as big as I can make it.  These 1-pound skeins of yarn will make it really nice because I won’t have any knots or joins anywhere, and will only have to weave in ends at the beginning and end of the work.  Of course, that’s another difficulty — these gynormous balls of yarn.  I’ve had to resort to putting each of them in a plastic project bin because I don’t have any bowls that big.

2014_10_19-05Using the bigger needles is making it go a lot faster.  What you see here is only about an hour and a half’s work.  I would have taken me four or five hours to have done this much on the size 5 needles.  In just the time since I ripped it out yesterday evening, I’ve knitted an area larger than I had knitted before I ripped it out.   Here is a comparison of the edges looking at both sides of the work.  Hard to tell which edge is the “carrying” edge (the bottom one in the first picture, the top one in the second).2014_10_19-072014_10_19-06If I have enough of this yarn left over to make anything like a hat or something, I’ll have to learn to do jogless stripes in round knitting.  I saw a video on YouTube that shows you how. . . . YouTube videos are the internet hive mind equivalent of the Little Old Lady Who Knows How To Do Stuff And Will Teach You How If You Ask Her Nicely.   Resistance is futile . . . .

Working on Sunday Puts a Brighter Face on Monday

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Especially when you don’t work on Mondays.  Transcription is still pretty much uphill.  Tonight was attack of the motor mouths.  They’re the ones who talk as fast as humanly possible, which is bad enough, but there’s that “hurry up, hurry up” pressure to their speech that can make it almost unintelligible.  Ugh.  Even after 3-1/3 weekends of work, I’m still reaccomplishing my humpty-gazillion Autocorrect entries.  (The basic idea of autocorrect is to correct mispellings and typos as you type, but if you’re smart, you can put it to work for you to save keystrokes and make life easier.)

I had a nice file of medical transcription Autocorrect entries which would have been transferrable, but I lost that file, along with a lot of other things, in the Dell crash.  The medical transcription job I had at the time used a different program (I had to reaccomplish all my shortcut entries into that one, too) and I had no way to  recover that file when they laid me off. So, I’m reaccomplishing all my medical transcription Autocorrect entries yet again in this new program.  Not all of it is medical terminology:  “Approx” for “approximate,” “insuf” for “insufficiency,”  and series of them like, “resps” for “response,” “respb” for “responsible,” “respv” for “responsive,” “respd” for “respond.”  Then I also have an Autocorrect entry “thep” for “the patient” which usually does an end run around my tendency to type “aptient” instead of “patient.” (I have an entry for “aptient,” too.)

Where Autocorrect really works for me is with hyphenated things and capitalized things like acronyms.  The big hyphenation thing for me is the “-year-old’s.” You have to have a separate Autocorrect entry for each and every age — 2-year old, 3-year-old, 99-year-old, and everything in between — but once you get them all in, it’s gravy.   If you make Autocorrect entries for all your acronyms, that saves you time.  It takes time to push the shift key, and all those microseconds add up.  It’s easier and faster to type “uri” than “URI,” and then there’s the Autocorrect entry for what the acronym stands for “urin” for “urinary tract infection.”  And then there are some drugs and terms that have internal capitalizations, like “AquaMEPHYTON” and “AciPHex.”  All those little fiddly bits that make life complicated.   And then there’s all those words I can never remember how to spell, and/or consistently mispell …

Oh, with a little creative thought, you can shave a ton of keystrokes off your typing.  “ptol” for “The patient tolerated the procedure well.” for example.   And those little canned spiels the docs just rattle off at warp speed because they say them all the time, and have said them so often they don’t even pay attention to what they’re saying.   You end up having to just skull them out, and it can take 10 or 12 reports (or more!) to finally work out all the wording, but once you get it all sorted out, it’s Autocorrect time!

But in the meantime, I type and hit a shortcut that’s not in Autocorrect and have to stop and put it in, and any variants it might have, which is how you have to do it because you can’t just pull them all out of your ear.  There at first, I spent half my time adding Autocorrect entries.  I’m down to about a fourth of the time now.

Earlier today, I was going to make microwave oatmeal, but one of those little packets is such a paltry amount of oatmeal, I always make two.   The brand of oatmeal I used to use, you poured the oatmeal in the bowl, and added boiling water.  This new brand, you pour the oatmeal and water in the bowl, stir and microwave it for 2 minutes.  I thought with two packets, I should maybe nuke it for 3 minutes.  Just in case, I put a plate over the bowl.  As it turned out, the plate was a good plan but  three minutes is way too long.  Oatmeal pushed out from under the plate and got all on the turntable and all over the underside of the plate.  Next time, I’ll try the plate and 2 minutes and 30 seconds.  You live and learn.

2014_10_10-03I’ve decided to do the Braidheart scarf for my dentist. He’s been my dentist for over 10 years and he’s such a nice guy.  Knitting enthusiasts will jump on any excuse to knit something . . . I had gotten the yarn to knit some socks for my dad but didn’t get a chance to.   I learned pretty quickly that knitting on it while sitting at the computer is not a good plan. The dark yarn already makes it hard to see detail, and when it’s backlit, dropped stitches and mistakes go uncaught entirely too long.   I plan to make it rather short as scarves go.  I don’t like scarves that are longer than a waist length coat.  This is “pay attention” knitting.  I have to use a Post-it note to mark my place in the pattern. If you mess up you have to rip it out to a point where the cables cross.  fe881-12-2007wildthingThat’s the only place you can be sure of where you are in the pattern.

The grey kitty is happy because the pretend leopard blanket is folded across the foot of the bed.  Haven’t needed it yet, but it’s there if I do. She likes that it’s soft and snuggly.  So do I.

The black one likes it, too.  He tends to monopolize whatever he likes and not let anybody else partake of it.  I’ll be lying in the dark all warm and snuggly and hear,  “Rowrl! Hisssssss!” and know he’s gotten onto the grey one for daring to infringe upon what he considers is his territory.  I get so put out with him.  He won’t let the grey one snuggle up next to my stomach, because I won’t let him do it.  No good trying to explain to him I won’t let him do it because he weighs a ton, and she doesn’t outweigh a quart of ladybugs/ladybirds, to borrow a phrase from Pogo.  He’s such a little thug.  When I reorganized the office closet with the sets of drawers, I ended up having a bin full of odds and ends of yarn that there wasn’t room for and a pillow that was in the plastic case that my old red comforter came in.   The pillow was atop the bin, and she snuggled down on top of the pillow.  That lasted all of two days before he took it away from her.  Did I mention what a little thug he is?

Mom has been having attacks of nausea and vomiting.  They started out 11 or 12 months apart, but have gradually become more and more frequent.  The last interval was four months between attacks.  Now she’s had two bouts in as many weeks.  She’ll be nauseated, and throw up, and then have repeated attacks of retching for seven or eight hours. I only found out about this last episode because she happened to mention it in an email.  It’s not good for somebody to vomit that much.  I’m afraid she’s going to get a Mallory-Weiss tear from all that retching, and wind up in the hospital.

We need to find out the cause of these episodes and do something about it. If I had known she was having another attack, I would have gone by and insisted she let me take her to the emergency room.  It’s so hard to get appointments with her doctor, especially since her doctor’s husband just past away last week.  The fact that these attacks are becoming more and more frequent is concerning enough that the next time Mom has one, she needs to go to the emergency room where they can order the proper tests right then and there, and hydrate her.  Bless her heart.  She tends to minimize things, and “oh, it’s not that serious,” but it is.  She’s already lost a lot of weigh from the stress of taking care of my dad.  Now these attacks are interfering with her ability to eat.

Late Sunday evening, we had a little thunder shower.  We’re predicted to get back up into the 80’s F/26+ C, for Wednesday and Thursday, but be back down into the 70’sF/21+C starting Friday and well into next week. It’s windy out, and when I went to look through the blinds just now to see if it was still raining, I could feel the cold air blowing through under the window.  I see I’m going to need to make a draft dodger for the office window and probably one for the living room window, too.

Sneaking Up On Friday

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Sunbeam Mixmaster like we had growing up

Sunbeam Mixmaster like we had growing up

Mom and I had a nice lunch at a local cafeteria — we had coupons!  This is a favorite place to eat.  They have a wide variety of well-prepared food.  For a set price, you go through the cafeteria line and get whatever you want from a large selection of salads, entrees, vegetables, breads, desserts and drinks.  They invariably have this salad made with grated carrots, raisins and pineapple, which I got, and okra rolled in corn meal and fried, which my mom and I both love, and both got. They also have this salad my mom got made with lime Jello, pineapple, cottage cheese, and nuts, which my mom has made since time immoral*.  It’s one of those iconic dishes of the 1950’s like tuna casserole, and the carrot salad mentioned above, the comfort food of that first wave of boomers.  Mom made it with the Sunbeam Mixmaster in a rectangular sheet cake pan, cut it into squares and served it on a lettuce leaf with a dollop of Miracle Whip on top.  It is associated in my mind with church potluck dinners, and company.  It belongs with those tastes of my childhood:  Scrambled eggs mixed with canned Gebhardt’s chili, tuna with white sauce and English peas served over toast, spaghetti with ground beef sauteed with onions to which was added a can of tomato sauce (Mom always broke the spaghetti in thirds before putting it in the boiling water so it wouldn’t be so long and messy) and which was topped by Kraft grated Parmesan cheese which came in a pasteboard can with a shaker top.  For dessert I had what I think was a variant of Millionaire Pie (you should be that rich!) — it had pineapple and nuts, but it had a cherry flavor to the filling.  It was eaten with alacrity, gusto and a spoon.

Mom got a mystery sympathy card from a name and address in Houston that she didn’t recognize.  We couldn’t figure out who it was from.  I got on Anywho.com and looked up the address, and got a name we didn’t recognize, and a phone number, which mom called tonight.  The card turned out to be from one of the nurses who takes care of her youngest surviving brother, H. (He’s 94 and not in good shape at all.)  She had met my mom when mom had gone down to Pearland for the funeral of her youngest brother Q — the one closest to her in age.  The last four children were A, H, Q and my mom.  Only A and H are still alive.   Now that she can, mom wants to fly down to visit with them for a couple of days.  She usually stays with one of her nieces, E, but E’s husband had heart bypass surgery the week my dad passed away.   I’d like to go too if we can go between Monday and Thursday, and I can get a friend to take care of the cats.

It took us over an hour at the bank to take my dad’s name off the accounts, and make new signature cards for her checking and savings, two CDs, and a safety deposit box, with me as the alternate, just in case.  Much as I hate to think of it, having me as alternative on her accounts will give me immediate access to money she’s already set aside to pay hospital bills, final expenses, funeral costs, etc.  It’s not an idea I’m comfortable with, but it’s an eventuality that will have to be faced.  During these past ten or so years, as my dad gradually went down, my mom and I got closer, especially during these last couple of years.  I know these are practical matters that have to be dealt with, but that doesn’t make them any easier to face.

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From when I’d just moved in

It was 3:30 by the time we got done at the bank.  When I got home, I had another uncomfortable matter to deal with.  Somebody had urped all down the side of chair I keep at the foot of my bed, and all over the rug underneath it. (If my “summer” shoes had been where I usually keep them, instead of on my feet, they’d have caught some of it . . . ick!)  I desperately wanted a nap as I’d eaten so much and I’d slept til I got tired of it on Wednesday was up all night working.

I finally got settled into bed at about 4 o’clock and fell quickly asleep, only to be awakened by the phone at 4:30.  I swear I’m going to find a way to block phone numbers, if I have to buy a new phone to do it.  The phone goes off all hours of the day with  “Toll Free Number” on the caller ID, a telemarketer, of course.  These nuisance calls usually happen when I’m trying to sleep during the day.  Stupid “Toll Free Number”  telemarketers woke me up again at 6:30.

The phone rang again at about 8 p.m., but it was my mom letting me know she’d solved the mystery of who that sympathy card was from.  I’m glad she woke me up, actually, as I was having this dream about a family with two teen aged girls who had discovered that robots had taken over this one area of Arizona, (the bridgehead of a robot invasion of the Earth) and the robots were trying to get to them to silence them.  They were on the lam trying to escape these robots finding out where they were and where they were heading, trying to figure out how to fall off the grid where the robots couldn’t track them (GPS on their cell phones, credit card transactions, ATM use, etc.).  The daddy and the older girl had it together and were using their heads but the mom and the younger girl were kind of freaked and unable to cope.  It would have made a good TV show, that dream, but it was very angsty and paranoidal, and I was glad to have been woken up from it.  It was a rather well-plotted dream, though, if I say so myself.

After I woke up, I turned on the ‘puter and was about to sit down at it when the white one decided to come thoroughly unfed in the area where the living room becomes the dining area.   At least it was on the floor and not on the carpet, and so was easier to clean up. Sigh.

Just now, I tried calling the “Toll Free Number” that woke me up twice this afternoon.  Guess who it turned out to be:  AT&T with an offer they think might interest me!  They have a do not call list, but I have to call them back during regular business hours to get on it!  Guess who’s going to get an earful tomorrow during regular business hours.

 

* An old family in-joke.

Weather or Not

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Tuesday’s high was 90 F/32.2 C. This is October, remember.   OUr predicted high today is 87 F/30.5 C.   There’s a thunderboomer icon for Friday.  Saturday’s forecast high is 66 F/18.8 C.  Sunday’s forecast high is 85 F/29.4 C with a blowing leaves icon that usually mean a front is coming through.  Not surprisingly, Monday’s forecast high is 69 F/20.5 C with a low of 44 F/6.6 C.  So for the next week at least, we’ll be having hot and cold blowing weather.  Slowly but surely, the weather is trending cooler, though. This apartment was fairly inexpensive to cool. My highest electricity bill was $80.  It’s easier to track my electricity use because my bills from the utility company are only for electricity.  Water, sewer and trash charges are billed separately by a separate company hired by the apartment complex.  I finally got a bill a month ago for three months’ worth, and it was $35.  I’ll wait until my next bill before I exult, though.

I’ve got electric heat here (I had gas heat in the duplex), and I’ve heard that there’s a lot of heat loss through the windows in the living room.  Not surprising.  These are single pane windows.  Not in the least energy efficient.  At least I’ve got good weatherstripping on the front door, now.  The piece of Styrofoam board I have put over my bedroom window to shut out the light has the added feature of helping to insulate that window, so my bedroom ought not to get so cold, which is good, because the bedroom curtains are flimsy.  The curtains in the office are heavy and cover 2/3rds of the window, so that’s good.  As I said, I’ll have to get some heavier drapes for the living room.  These laminate floors will be cold, too, compared to carpet, but then I can put socks on.  That’s the thing.  I don’t have to keep my apartment turned up to “hothouse.”   I can keep the heat turned down to a temperature I can afford and just put on clothes to take up the slack.  I’ve got enough lap robes to have one for every room.  They say electric heat is not as “warm feeling” as gas heat.  I guess I’ll find out if that’s true this winter.

That jive transcription outfit in San Francisco had a bonus of $0.08 a minute on overnight, so I racked up 44 minutes worth, almost $30.  Say what you like about them, they pay weekly, and I’m going to need to buy cat food this next week.  Cat food’s gone up, like everything else.

The VA  called me yesterday about an appointment with the podiatrist.  I’m sure glad there’s been a big shakeup at the VA about patients being seen in a timely manner and now I only have to wait until November to be seen.  Later today, I’m having lunch with my mom (we’ve got coupons!), and then we’re going to the bank to have my dad’s name taken off accounts.  I take it she’s gotten copies of the death certificate.  She also needs to get a new credit card, which she can do through the bank.  She had to have the one she had cancelled as it was in my dad’s name.

I went to the knitting group Tuesday night.  One of the ladies was out with cataract surgery, one was out with macular degeneration surgery, and one was out with knee replacement surgery.  Kind of tells you the demographic of the group.

 

The Dishcloth That Got Out of Hand

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2014_09_24-04You know them. Knitted dish cloths/wash cloths.  That perennial project of nacent knitters, done in garter stitch with cotton thread, with a yarn over border to make it fancy.

Cast on 3
Row 1: K2, yo, K1
Row 2: K2, yo, K to end of row
Repeat row 2 until there are 50 stitches on the needle.
Begin decrease:
K1, K2tog, yo K2tog K to the end.
Repeat decrease until there are 3 stitches on the needle. Bind off.

Well, way back in September, back when we were on the upslope of the great divide, when I went into Michael’s to get cloth flowers and a container to make something cheerful to brighten up a drab room in an assisted living facility (see above), I was unable to restrain myself and wandered back to their yarn area. Lo, and behold!, they had 1-pound skeins of knitting worsted!2014_10_06-03 That’s a lot of yarn in one continuous piece to grab you by the shirt collar and demand to be made into a blanket. (That was before I knew this neat nifty way to join yarn . . .)  There’s an appropriated great grand son that somehow managed to escape the Baby Booty Fairy.  He’s nine months old now and needs a blankie.  I found this baby blanket pattern that’s a very simple variation on the dish cloth pattern that I had been wanting to try, and this seemed like a perfect opportunity.  I had also found a way to make stripes and carry the different color yarns from stripe to stripe rather than cut the yarn, and I thought I’d try the baby blanket in stripes.  I chose a soft blue and a dark mint green.

2014_10_06-02Did I mention I hate pull skeins?  The first thing I did when I got those suckers home was roll them into balls.  Guess what?  A pound of yarn makes a big ball.  A really big ball.   Guess what?  I don’t have a bowl that big.  And guess what else? I’ve got two balls that big (don’t go there!) to keep up with.  Good thing I kept the Michael’s sack.   Here’s the pattern.  The whole pattern.

BLANKET
Cast on 5 sts.
Row 1: Knit.
Row 2: K3, yo, k2.
Row 3: K3, yo, k3.
Row 4: K3, yo, k to end of row.
Rep last row until you have 144 sts on needle.
Next (decrease) row: K2, k2tog, yo, k2tog, k to end of row.
Rep last row until 5 sts remain. Bind off.
FINISHING
Weave in ends.

2014_10_04-01That’s all there is to it.  Sweet, no?  Trouble is, I couldn’t get it to look right using 5 stitches.   I kept getting this big hole when I started the yarn overs.   I bet I made 15 starts trying to get it to look right.  I finally ended up trying it with a cast on of 6 stitches, and I knitted 6 rows before I started the yarn overs and finally got it going without that big hole I kept getting.  I’m using a US size 5/UK size 9/3.75 mm, so it’s got a nice dense “hand” to it, and I’m doing “out and back” stripes, i.e., two rows of each color.  I’m really liking the way it looks.  The shades of blue and green that I chose are of the same brightness and intensity and they “heather” nicely together.

2014_10_05-01It’s a pretty mindless pattern.  Once you get the first three stitches and yarn over that start each row done, the rest of the row is “don’t-need-to-pay-attention” straight knitting.  Great for watching TV or catching up on my blog reading.  That’s good, because on size 5 needles it’s going to take a while to knit it.  I’m ignoring the ” until you have 144 sts on needle” bit.  I’ll knit increase rows until it’s as big as I want it.  Then I’ll start the decrease.

In other knitting news, I have two more balls of yarn left to go on the big purple and pink garter tab triangular shawl I’m doing.  About halfway through the last ball, I’m going to see if I can use (K1, yo,) on a row, then just knit the stitches and drop the yarn overs and see what that looks like.  I’ll try twisting the stitches when I knit them to see if I can mimic the “yarn over divide” along the front edge of the shawl, so as to get that kind of “edging” look all the way around the shawl.  If that works, I’ll write it into the pattern.

2014_09_17-02Those little two at a time toe-up socks I made to test my pattern with that size yarn, I gave to the couple across the way, who have the three little boys.  They fit the toddler.  Now she wants two more pair, only bigger for the older boys.  I told her to trace the boys’ feet on paper, and she wants to buy the yarn.  If you use fingering yarn, the pattern makes baby booties.  If you use a two-ply yarn, this is what you get.  If you use sport weight bulky yarn,  you get thick socks for me to sew a leather sole to and wear around the house.

The lady across the way also told me that during cold weather these apartments really get cold because of the big window in the living room.  I think I’m going to have to invest in some heavier curtains for that window. I might get a small rod for the sheers I’ve got now, and hang them behind the heavier ones.  I can get the kind of rod I need from Walmart for $5 or so, including hardware.   However, here lately our highs have been in the 80’sF/25+C with lows around 60F/15C, so I’m not worrying about it right now.

There are 55 episodes of Welcome to Night Vale now.   I’ve got all but two of them edited for commercials, and on a playlist in Rhapsody so I can access them on my Squeezebox internet radio.  My reader’s table is ready.  I have knitting projects and lap robes.  I am ready for cold weather.

Bedtime Story

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The

Trees are

Whispering

Their soft “Goodnights,”

“Sweet dreams,” and “Sleep tights.”

It’s half past Octoberr

And getting past their bedtime.

They stretch their branches sleepily,

Nod to one another, sigh and yawn,

As the wind undresses them leaf by leaf.

Bedtime © 2014 The Owl Underground.

After the Rain

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Mag Challenge 238boots (2)

On that Sunday in September
We had a proper Llano Estacado rain
Just in time for the birthday party.
A gully washer with lightning flashes
And window rattling thunder.
Pelting down in big wet drops that fall for a half a mile
That make you duck and hunch your shoulders
Turn your back to shield your face.
And by the time it takes to tell it
The runoff’s shin deep by the curb, white-water fast.
And spreading almost to the center of the roadway
The cowboys in their high falutin’ pickup trucks.
Go roaring past, splashing up up twin rooster tails of spray
That washing across your windshield like you’re in a storm at sea.

What a day to have a birthday party.
The birthday girl was turning 90 in two days.
The party had been planned for months.
There was punch and hugs and cake and laughter.
So many came despite the rain.
She needed hugs and cake and friends (no presents please)
The week before, she’d had to put
The love of her life into a home.
A wrenching separation, a tough, uphill decision.
He was 92, could hardly hear and barely see.
He could barely walk on tottering unsteady feet.
He hadn’t walked at all since she’d had to leave him
In that place that wasn’t home.
After the party, she brought birthday cake
and fed it to him bite by bite.
He understood she’d had a birthday party
He said he didn’t know what he could do for her birthday.
He told her once again he loved her.
They said good bye. She didn’t know it was their last one.
Then, on that rain-splashed Monday morning after
He took the burden of his care and slipped silently away
When she wasn’t there to have to watch it happen.

It rained like sixty on the night
He lay in his open, flag-draped coffin
His daughter’s yellow rose beneath his hands.
Still, people came despite the weather.
Came to say their last goodbyes.
Kinfolk coming from the airport
had to sit tight in their rental car until the rain let up.
It was coming down so hard they couldn’t see to drive.
It rained so much parts of the town were flooded.
While the thunder boomed and the lightning flashed.
They weathered one last storm together
Finally, the rain let up.
The last flight in took off from Dallas.
She gave him the last of 67 years of kisses.
It was still raining as she drove home without him.

The morning of the day she buried him
was overcast and dark, threatening to rain.
The flooding of the night before had mostly drained away
And left the world bedraggled.
But when she got out of the car there at the cemetery
Suddenly, the clouds gave way
The sun gleamed through a patch of blue
and a brand new angel smiled.

 

Poem © 2014 The Owl Underground

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