Moving Along

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31Ztv63PeYLMoseying along in a generally forward direction, albeit not at any speed.  Yesterday, I finally located my roundtuit, a Phillips screw driver and my pliers and replaced the socket on my bedside lamp.  It is now in situ and working nicely once more.  The reason I got that lamp in the first place was because of its small footprint.  The lamp (at left) I was using in the interim was part of a pair I had previously used as bedside lamps, but which has the footprint of a small Clydesdale.  I have a phone handset, a clock, an internet radio and an Oreck air purifier on my bedside table, IMG_1493and when one of the pair of lamps got broken, I got the lamp I’m using now (below right)

The “Oz*” water guy was by to change out the filters in the under sink unit.  Unfortunately, the appointment he had before mine was in Levelland, so he was a bit delayed.  (The local surrounding towns have such picturesque names — Levelland, Post, Brownfield, Plainview . . . )

In the knitting news, the US 9 (5.5 mm) 60-inch ChiaoGoo Red Lace circular knitting needles I ordered arrived and, unable to restrain myself, I launched into my envisioned reader’s shrug with swatch for gauge, 2017_02_21-03tape measure, and the little calculator program that comes with Windows 7. It’s fairly along with the back probably 3/4ths done.   I started in the center of the back using a figure-of-eight cast on, so there’s no seam, and I’m knitting in a horizontal direction toward both arms.   It’s a tricky bit of knitting as both ends are on the same needle and I have to knit two rows on one side, then change sides and knit two rows on the other side.

2017_02_21-02When I get to the shoulders, I’ll join each sleeve to knit in the round and knit them two at a time, which is why I’m using the 60-inch long needle.  Since each side has its own ball of yarn attached, I’m using my covered knitting bowl which has the slits cut in the lid.  It’s easily large enough for two big balls of yarn, and the fact that the lid has two slits works well with using two balls of yarn at the same time.

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ribbedshrug-2001208891603I’m shooting for something like these, by which BlueHomespunShrug1_small2you can see that a shrug is essentially a pair of sleeves connected across the back.  Still working on the shawls and some hats.  When I get bored with one project, I switch out, so I’ve always got stuff going.

I don’t know about your keyboard, but my computer keyboard has a little ridge across the bottom of the upper surface of the “F” key and the “J” key.  As the touch typists know, these are the “home keys” for the two index fingers, which is why there are ridges on those keys.  I mention it because the ridge on the “J” key is worn down, making it hard to find the right key when I return my right hand to the keyboard after mousing.  This has become somewhat annoying as the ridge is no longer all that prominent and my right index finger doesn’t always make it back to the home key.  Next thing you know, I’ve typed about half a line of gibberish. Sigh.

  • “Oz” water — water purified using reverse osmosis.

Greater Love

I read the blog of a Yorkshire lady who lives in Belgium (score 2 coolness points right there) who has:

  • hens in the back yard (including one hen named Hillary who should have been named Hendini for her escape artistry),
  • une ouipette (which is, in essence, a greyhound for people who can’t for whatever reason have a full-size one),
  • teenaged sons (which entitles her to combat pay),
  • pet tortoises* which go into hibernation in the winter, at which point she puts them in the vegetable crisper in her refrigerator for the duration — evidently, this is just hunky-dory with all concerned, including les tortues, and a big surprise to anyone else who happens to open that crisper drawer looking for salad greens.

I’m pretty sure that in Belgium they speak a reasonable facsimile of French but, apparently, she lives in the part where it behooves one also to learn Dutch, which she is doing.

All of the above puts my life into perspective right smartly, I can tell you . . . I used to know where the pen of my aunt was, but I have forgotten . . . I thpoke the pretty Thpanish, too, onth upon a time . . .  ¡Ay, chihuahua!  Quelle desuetude!

 Oh, and if “blue language” offends you, don’t watch this video, because M. Izzard has la langue tres bleue . .  et les fingernails aussi . . .  However, if you don’t mind the occasional F-bomb, allons-y, Alonzo.

*Not turtles, tortoises.  There is a difference.  Turtles can swim.  Tortoises can’t.  The ones in her refrigerator swim not, but require periodic weighing to determine if they are done hibernating and can be removed from the crisper. AND, NON, i AM NOT MAKING THIS UP.

Adjusting the Agenda

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The “Oz*” water guy was supposed to come out at 11 o’clock and change the filters in my under-sink unit, but at about 10 o’clock one of the ladies at the Oz water place called to say wouldn’t be coming as he’d gone home sick.  Apparently, there’s this nasty strain of flu going around as well as a Strep throat germ, and they have had a terrible time with their employees coming down with one or the other and calling in sick.  Anyway, we had to reschedule.  Several other people I know of have been sick with this flu, including the “teacher” in our knitting group and her daughter.

Just because I’ve had already gotten a flu shot this year doesn’t mean I won’t pick up this flu that’s going around because it may not be one of the strains of flu they made this year’s shot from.  There are several strains, and apparently the strain that is currently percolating through the population is a ring-tailed doozy.  I am sincerely trying very hard not to get it. (touch wood!)

Here directly, I need to access my toolbox and get a Phillips head screwdriver and a pair of pliers and fix a lamp, which is the next item on the agenda.  The switch on my bedside lamp has malfunctioned.  It was one of those switches that had a knob you twist.  I have purchased a new socket, one that pushes.  What remains is to replace the defunct socket with the new one.

“Here directly” means “soon, in a while,” but not quite as soon as “fixing to”  “Directly” by itself is sooner than “here directly,” but still not as soon as “fixing to.”  “Fixing to,” of course, means “commencing to begin to start.” There are fine gradations involved here.

Long time followers of this blog may have become aware that here in the flatlands, we are noted for our colorful language — which does come in other colors besides blue  —  and I ran across this little linguistic gem the other day:  “If you put his brains in a bluejay, it would fly backwards.”  We have such a rich and versatile language and I do like to see it used creatively and well.

And speaking of words at play, my number one favorite quote from The Gathering Edge by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller comes in the form of a note pasted beside a gauge readout in the repair jitney: “Your fist will not recalibrate this dial.”  The Gathering Edge is a very readable book, with very well rounded characters, suspense, excitement and humor.  I enjoyed it very much.  I’ve only just read it and I’m already jonesing for the next book (which comes out next year).  I may have to do some rereading of some of my other Liaden books.  Sigh.

2017_02_16-02In the knitting news, I’ve edited the pattern for the PussyHat to include bulky:5 weight yarn and super bulky:6 weight yarn as well as worsted/medium:4 weight yarn.  I’m knitting one up in a super bulky Lion Brand “Hometown USA” that’s called “Phoenix Azalea.”  I’m using a 47-inch Knitter’s Pride Dreamz circular needle (US size 11 (8.0 mm) to do it using the Magic Loop method.  The Dreamz needles have a nylon connector cord, which is so sproing-y.  Makes me appreciate my ChiaoGoo Red Lace needles even more.

A Pinballing Day

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When the little steel ball got shot round into this day, I had three things on the agenda:  (1) Shower and wash my hair, (2) stop off at the grocery store on the way to knitting group to get some snack type food and beverage for our (3) Valentine’s Day party (which we had to make up for not having had an Xmas party which we didn’t have because reasons).  Attendees at the party ranged from a 9-year-old, there with her mother learning to crochet (we do not discriminate on the basis of race, national origin, creed, sex, age, or number of loops on the needle), to our “instructor” who is older than I am. (I think.)  My supper consisted of gumi hearts, both chocolate and yellow-cake iced and sprinkled cupcakes (I do not discriminate on the basis of color, flavor, or number of sprinkles), bean dip with blue corn tortilla chips, and Gold Peak Peach Tea (180 calories, 45 g of sugar in 18.5 oz of more or less tea — it may be 4 o’clock in the morning before I stop ricocheting around the room like a 4-year-old amped to the max on a loading dose of high fructose corn syrup).

One of our number showed up late in a stunning faux mink coat.  (it was 91 F/32 C Saturday.  Today it wasn’t.)  The cupcakes were her fault.  I brought the bean dip, blue corn tortilla chips and Coke ponies (7.5 oz “mini cans” — I’ve always heard the small cans referred to as “ponies” and so I referred to them earlier in the evening, and got looked at askance by some of the assemblage.)

We have a southpaw in the group who was trying to learn how to do a Norwegian cast-on (also known as the German Twisted Cast-On) because she wants to knit a pair of socks from the top down.  I invite you to watch the video, and then imagine trying to teach this technique to someone who insists on doing this left-handed.  (She actually did figure it out . . .) But while I’m listening to her mentor instructing her to put her needle over, through, around, etc., my sugar-charged brain pinged off the song “Over Under Sideways Down” — I thought it might have been by the Kinks (it wasn’t). I said something about it to the lady (Class of 72) next to the instructor, who thought she remembered it, then proceeded to look it up on her smart phone and play it for us.

Then she, and I, and the lady sitting next to her segued into a nice little discussion on gussets and sock heels.  When you knit a sock from the top down, you end up having to Kitchner stitch or otherwise close the toe.  My toes do not like this kind of sock toe.  I prefer the toe-up style of knitting socks, which you start using the seamless Turkish Cast-on.   Oddly enough, which direction you happen to be knitting in (top down or bottom up) affects the technique you use to turn the heel.   These are deep waters.

By the time I got home, I was thoroughly wired (definition #4) thanks to all the sugar, and my question as to whether or not that song was by the Kinks remained unanswered.  Googled it.  Found out the song was by the Yardbirds.  While perusing the Wikipedia entry on the Yardbirds, I discovered that group members included at one time or another, Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page, two massive Guitar Heros*.  Page went on to become one of the founding members of Led Zeppelin. Supposedly Page got the idea of playing his electric guitar with a cello bow from David McCallum, Sr., a professional violinist and also father of the actor of the same name, Jr.  During his career, McCallum, Sr., was also first violin in the Mantovani orchestra, and was part of the 40-piece orchestra that recorded “A Day In The Life” on the Beatles seminal album, “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

As I was catching up on my blog reading, I came across this series of drawings from Mattias Adolfsson, a Swedish artist whose blog I follow.  He has a very convoluted, detailed and droll style.  This selection was entitled The Roconauts, (Rococo In Spaaaaace!).  I LOL’ed.

mattias-adolfsson-roconauts-blaster mattias-adolfsson-roconauts-diplomacy mattias-adolfsson-roconauts-documentation mattias-adolfsson-roconauts-first-contact mattias-adolfsson-roconauts-line-of-command mattias-adolfsson-roconauts-rover mattias-adolfsson-roconauts-the-bridge mattias-adolfsson-roconauts-vessel

So, having added to my fund of trivia, giggled over some tongue-in-cheek artwork and finally fizzed out on my sugar high, I think I’ll seek out my beddy boo and crash for the evening.  Busy day tomorrow.  I have five, and perhaps six items on the agenda.  Busy, busy.

*legendary expert rock guitarist.

 

Fun and Games in the Flatlands

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screenshot_9 Hot enough, in fact, that I ended up turning the AC on.  Well, out here in the flatlands they do say, if you don’t like the weather, wait a while.  It’ll change.   For the metric crowd, those highs are 32 C, 33 C and 34 C. . .

screenshot_10Again, for the metric crowd, 32 F is 0 C. Needless to say, the heater is back on.

screenshot_11Like the man said the other day, “Ain’t nothin’ but a bob war* fence ‘tween us and the North Pole, and it’s down.”  Below is what tomorrow’s and Wednesday’s forecast looks like.

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Got to looking and we’re at 33°34’N latitude, Casablanca, Morocco is 33°32′ N (which puts it about 5 miles further south than we are) and Baghdad (Iraq) is at 33°20′ N, (about 20 miles further south than we are).  This puts most of Texas further south than either one.

screenshot_12 A while ago, I got an el cheapo 10-inch Android tablet and a really great tablet holder for the purpose of ereading, and me and the fat(cat)boy were hanging out in bed most of today tucked in all nice and snuggly under the covers.  I was reading the eARC** of the new Liaden Universe novel, The Gathering Edge, by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, which continues the story arc of Theo Waitley and the AI ship Bechimo.  Space Opera at its finest.  I was reading along at a good clip, with the fat(cat)boy snoring and twitching at my side, when this tremendous clap of thunder hit.  After we peeled ourselves off the ceiling, a check out the window disclosed that we were having a rain event.

I decided I couldn’t wait for a set of my US 10 (6.0 mm) 60-inch circular needles to get freed up, and ordered a ChiaoGoo Red Lace 60-inch US 9 (5.5 mm) circular needle. (I love the ChiaoGoo Red Lace needles!)   I have a feeling that just about the time I get my reader’s shrug all knitted up, I’ll have to turn the AC back on. . . .

*”bob war” – Texican for “barbed wire”
**eARC — electronic Advance Reader’s Copy — what amounts to the page proofs in e-book form.

 

Books Read in 2017

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13. *The Gathering Edge (eARC), Miller, Steve and Lee, Sharon
12. Dragon Ship, Miller, Steve and Lee, Sharon (reread)
11. Ghost Ship, Miller, Steve and Lee, Sharon (reread)
10. Saltation, Miller, Steve and Lee, Sharon (reread)
9. *Fledgling, Miller, Steve and Lee, Sharon (reread)
8. *Passing Strange, Klages, Ellen
7. Balance of Trade, Miller, Steve and Lee, Sharon (reread)
6. Tripoint, Cherryh, C. J.
5. *Were-, Bray, Patricia and Palmatier, Joshua, ed.
4. *When Marnie Was Here, Robinson, Joan G.
3. Crystal Dragon, Miller, Steve and Lee, Sharon (reread)
2. Crystal Soldier, Miller, Steve and Lee, Sharon (reread)
1. A Conspiracy of Kings, Whalen Turner, Megan (reread)

* Ebook

Antidotes

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When ugly, mean and stupid things are happening in the world, and you’ve done all you can do about it, find a calm, quiet place and contemplate beautiful things. Just in case you don’t have any beauty readily to hand, I’m happy to share this trio of little gems. The dancer is the wonderful Diana Vishneva.  I suggest watching them full screen with your sound on.

One for me.  The dancer here is “Kremushka” (Yana Kremneva).

And another one for good measure.  Sting, who should need no introduction, and ballerina Alessandra Ferri, who shouldn’t need one either, getting Bach to basics with the Prelude from JSB’s Cello suite #1 in G major. Another one to watch full screen, with sound.

 

On a Quiet Friday Evening

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Quiet, peaceful. Listening to music. Sitting at the computer, knitting in my lap.

2017_02_03-03 2017_02_03-04The PussyHat is finished.  The pattern presumes you have a modicum of knitting skillz and a sense of adventure.  It turned out like I wanted it to, i.e., a seamless analog of the pattern posted on the web.  I am not a fan of k2, p2 ribbing.  It’s not as elastic or as “springy” as k1, p1 ribbing, and that’s what I’d change about it.  This was made with a cotton yarn.

I’ve got some more pink yarn  that’s acrylic and I may do another one in acrylic, but if I decide to do one with it, I think I want to drop down a couple sizes on the needle and do it on a US6(4.0 mm) size needle.  In order to do that, I’m going to need to get US6 circular needles in 16-inch and 32-inch lengths, which are not in the budget at the moment unless I decide to do some transcription work for that jive outfit in San Francisco next week . . . .

In the meantime, I’ve got a bajillion projects to finish.  A reader’s shrug I need to write the pattern for and make up, and have bought the yarn for.  There’s two cowls, two shawls to give away and a third shawl to finish for myself that I have out to work on, besides three drawers full of UFOs.  I feel a binge watch coming on.  I can’t start on the shrug until I finish one of the giveaway shawls because I need the US10(6.0 mm) 60-inch needle I’m using on it for the reader’s shrug.

The other day, I put what was left of the frozen ham from Christmas into the chopper and chopped it up fairly fine.  Put that in a bowl and added some chopped black olives, chopped white onions, and chopped Kosher dills and some mayo and made a nice cracker spread.  Ate the last of it earlier for lunch.  I really need to do up a package of elbow macaroni and do some Wolf Brand chili and elbows to use up the rest of the white onion I used part of for the ham spread.   I could also make up a batch of chicken salad while I was at it.  I could eat on that for days.  Think I might see if I can marshal the motivation to get up and do that.  Might take a bit of marshaling, because I’ve got to empty the dishwasher of clean dishes and put the stack of dirty dishes into it before I do anything.

Toward the end of the month, I need to start thinking about raking up the locust pods out of the back yard.  Toward the end of March I should maybe start watering so the grass can get going.  I also need to be thinking about the front bed and what I want to plant there.  I think the rose bushes that are already there are coming up in favor of some of those rose bushes that bloom all the time.  They are way less susceptible to black spot.  What I want is a bed full of low maintenance perennials that bloom a lot.  That bed only gets the morning half of a day’s sun and gets a lot of runoff from the roof whenever it rains, which is another consideration.  In the meantime, the bed needs some work and I still need some tools (pruners, spade, shovel, a bow saw) and some pavers for under the water spigots.  That tree in the back yard needs some work.  It’ll do me good to get outside and exercise, and yard work is nothing if not exercise . . .

“Fasten Your Seatbelts. It’s Going To Be A Bumpy Ride.”

Allow me to paraphrase Bette Davis’ famous quote from “All About Eve.”

It took “Dubbya” three years to reach a 50% disapproval rating.  It took our loose cannon of a current President 8 days to hit 49%. Hate to say I told you so, but . . . .

ian-mckellens-womens-march-sign-featured-sir-patrick-stewart-as-star-treks-captain-picardA poster I missed on my post about posters from The Women’s March was this one being held by Sir Ian McKellen.  He found it while participating in the Women’s March.  The sign is made from a picture of Patrick Stewart in his role as Enterprise Captain Jean Luc Picard doing a facepalm. Then Patrick Stewart’s response (below) appeared on Facebook with the perfect tag, “Inception.”

(McKellen also noted that “trump” is British schoolyard slang for “passing wind.”  Somebody needs a “My Indian Name Is* ” tee shirt . . . )

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Then there’s this, which started out as a Dr. Seuss drawing from WWII in protest of the US’s isolationist policy.  I kinda tweaked it just a hair.

dr-seuss-isis-the-wolfOK.  That’s enough politics for this post.

In the knitting news, I’ve spent the afternoon writing a knitting pattern for a Pussy Hat.  (I knew I got that hot pink yarn for a reason . . . .)  The pattern on the internet was for straight flat knitting folded over and seamed up each side, but I hate seaming knitted things . . .

You will find my seamless, top-down version of the PussyHat here:  And here are some pics.  It was an interesting design challenge that had me dipping into my bag of tricks . . .

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The Turkish cast on, for going two directions at the same time without a seam down the middle (used for toe up socks), gives the “folded over” look.

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The Magic Loop method allows for shaping of the top which produces the pointy ears while allowing you to knit in the round something that would otherwise have to be knitted flat and seamed up the side.

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Because knitting in the round makes it seamless on the sides.

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The ears take shape.  Once you get this far, you have enough slack that you can knit it off onto a 16-inch circular needle.

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From here on in, it knits up just like a regular hat, all in one piece.

*
For a college man: My Indian Name is “Runs with Beer”
For a teenaged boy: My Indian Name is “Head in the Refrigerator”
For a teenaged girl: My Indian Name is “Talks with Her Thumbs”
For the current President: My Indian Name is “Passing Wind.”

Starlings in Winter

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Common starling (Sturnus vulgaris) Image Source: Wikipedia Commons

Those alert readers may have noted a quotation from a poem by Mary Oliver at the top of the sidebar on the right.  It’s from “Starlings in Winter.” Many people are not familiar with Oliver’s work, nor the context of the quote, so I thought I’d share the full text of the poem (below).  Flocks of starlings are called a “murmuration.”

Starlings are not native to North America.  About 60-100 common starlings were released into New York City’s Central Park in 1890 by Eugene Schieffelin. He was president of the American Acclimatization Society, a misguided (and environmentally irresponsible) group of people whose aim was to introduce every bird species mentioned in the works of William Shakespeare into North America.  Starlings are an invasive species in the US and their introduction has had a very deleterious effect on native bird populations.  The current population of starlings is around 150-200 million.

The poem makes reference to a thing starlings do at sunset when they’re gathering to roost for the night.  Video © 2013 Paul Bunyard-Wild About Images.

Starlings in Winter

by Mary Oliver

Chunky and noisy,
but with stars in their black feathers,
they spring from the telephone wire
and instantly

they are acrobats
in the freezing wind.
And now, in the theater of air,
they swing over buildings,

dipping and rising;
they float like one stippled star
that opens,
becomes for a moment fragmented,

then closes again;
and you watch
and you try
but you simply can’t imagine

how they do it
with no articulated instruction, no pause,
only the silent confirmation
that they are this notable thing,

this wheel of many parts, that can rise and spin
over and over again,
full of gorgeous life.

Ah, world, what lessons you prepare for us,
even in the leafless winter,
even in the ashy city.
I am thinking now
of grief, and of getting past it;

I feel my boots
trying to leave the ground,
I feel my heart
pumping hard. I want

to think again of dangerous and noble things.
I want to be light and frolicsome.
I want to be improbable, beautiful and afraid of nothing,
as though I had wings.

From:

Owls and Other Fantasies: Poems and Essays