Ironing Board Blues


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A couple of posts back, I shared a clip of Mr. Justin Johnson playing a 3-string guitar made from a shovel.  Here he is again on a lap steel guitar made from a wooden ironing board.  Best use I’ve seen for an ironing board since I was a child and turned my toy one upside down and made a sailboat out of it. . .   A note in passing, this was recorded at Sun Records, in Memphis, TN, famous for being Elvis Presley‘s first record label (that’s him in the picture).

I do like a man with nice hands . . .

Vacuum Cleaners and Ulterior Motives


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MLYA*, I had given my mom a tank type vacuum cleaner, which she never used.  It had a wand and a duster brush and a floor brush, but at the time, her house was completely carpeted, including the bathrooms, and she saw no need for any of its functions. It languished in the closet.  My BFF convinced herself that vacuuming up broken glass had rendered her vacuum unsafe, that tiny shards of glass were all inside it, and that there was no hope for it, it must be thrown away. (I tried to convince her that replacing the foam filters would get rid of the “tiny little slivers of glass” that were “all inside it,” but she remained unconvinced, and dumpstered it.)  I asked my mom if she would mind if my BFF had that vacuum she never used.  My BFF asked her what she wanted for it (meaning $$) and my mom said what she wanted was getting it out of her closet. I went and got it and put it in the trunk of my car knowing that my BFF was coming over on Saturday to watch my new TV.

My BFF doesn’t have a washing machine and has to do her clothes at a washeteria, so I told her when she came over to bring a couple of loads of clothes and do them in my machines.   This is a woman who wears a gown, a robe, a hat and two pairs of socks and sleeps under an electric blanket even in summer.  She is chronically cold.  Her metabolism is all cattywompus for a number of reasons, not the least of which is hemochromatosis, and I have a fuzzy blanket sitting out for her whenever she comes over to watch TV.

As she was pulling her fuzzy PINK robe out of the dryer and folding it up, I went and got this shawl and gave it to her, as it would match her fuzzy robe perfectly.   img_0002It is a truth universally acknowledged** . . . that there is nothing a knitter likes better than an excuse to knit something . . . so now I have an excellent excuse to knit another winter shawl.  I’ve already gotten the yarn.  I’m formulating a new pattern as I type . . . I’m going to call it “Malguri Morning.”

I’ve ordered the new light fixtures for the yard lights.  They should be here by next week.  Hopefully, sometime next week I can get light fixtures and electrician together and make yard lights happen.

*Many Long Years Ago
**Your literary allusion for the day.

Birds, Dogs and Thunderboomers


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I called my landlady Wednesday night and she was very receptive to having the yard lights fixed.  She said the reason she hadn’t fixed them was that previous tenants hadn’t wanted them fixed owing to not wanting to have to pay the electricity bill on them.  Of course, with these newfangled modern LED light bubs* that use a fraction of the electricity that the old incandescent ones did, they don’t cost that much to run anymore. When you consider the safety factor and the crime deterrent factor, operating those yard lights is cheap at the price.  And LEDs not only last so much longer, they have come down so much in price that they are very affordable and extremely cost effective.

My landlady gave me some names.  One guy she had both names and both a land line and cell phone number for.  The other she just had a first name and a cell phone number for.  Guess which one I called.  I  asked him to come by and look at the lights and see if they were fixable.  About 10 minutes after I called him, it started sprinkling rain, and very shortly thereafter, it was bucketing down and thundering. All day long, the rain would slack off, stop, hitch up its drawers, and then start coming down hard and fast again. Needless to say, the electrician didn’t come by.

That afternoon, I had an appointment at the VA for my annual health check, and the street gutters over in that part of town were almost knee deep from the rain.   (I’m going to have to bring my binoculars next time I go to the VA and do a little free-hand bird-watching.  I have sighted at least one Athene cunicularia hypugaea hanging out in the prairie dog (Cynomys ludovicianus) colony that has taken over the vacant lots behind and beside the VA clinic building.)(!)

Today dawned mostly sunny, with scattered clouds.  I called the electrician again, and he stopped by to take a look.  I knew the fixtures were broken, but he was able to determine that there was power to the fixtures. The electric eye was also out.  He could rewire the old fixtures and make them work (at $69 an hour plus parts, thank you very much), but he said it would be more cost effective to get new fixtures.  We could buy the new fixtures and he’d put them in and replace the electric eye that turns them on at dusk and off at dawn, and the total cost to get them back on, including new fixtures and new electric eye, would be less than $200.

I did some fixture pricing and emailed the particulars to my landlady this afternoon.  I even offered to help her out by going to buy the lights myself if she’d let me take the cost of them off my rent.  (She is one of these women who finally retire from their busy, busy careers only to find that the peace and quiet of retirement drives them crazy.  Then they become “club” women and get involved in bridge clubs and luncheon clubs and music clubs and “seekrit” service clubs and such and are busy, busy, . . . . )  Haven’t heard back from her yet.  Busy, busy . . .

In the meantime, I need to back my car out of the garage and check out the garage door opener because no lights come on when the door opens or closes.  It may just be that the light bubs are burnt out and need to be replaced — if I can figure out how . . .

Oh, and mom got wind of a meeting being held by the lady who planned the trip to Savannah and Charleston that mom and I went on earlier this year.   She’s planning another “Spring Fling” for next year, and she’s talking New York City! . . .

This from Arlo and Janis made me laugh out loud.

And now for your delectation and amusement, a guy named Justin Johnson who can play a shovel if it has strings on it . . .


*Texan** for “bulb”
**It’s a whole ‘nother language.

Wolfgang, Foreigner, and the Police



No, I have not watched the debates. For health reasons. I find watching a certain Republican candidate thoroughly nauseating and hearing him natter on jacks my blood pressure up to unhealthy levels. I knew early on who I was voting for and why. Everything going on in the media now is just preaching to the choir, as far as I’m concerned.  When that man first crossed my radar 20 years ago, I took one look at that ridiculous comb-over and knew all I needed to know about the man.  Nothing I’ve seen or heard since has done anything but confirm my opinion.

That’s as political as I intend to get in this blog.  Along with apologies for bringing up the subject, I offer a little sip of  Wolfie to cleanse the palate and change the subject.

I’ve turned on one of the ladies in my knitting group to C. J. Cherryh‘s works, particularly the first three Chanur books in the omnibus edition — Ripping yarns all — and the first Foreigner book. I’m doing a companion reread to refresh my memory.  I’m already two books ahead of her . . .  Both sets of books play to Cherryh’s strengths of world building and compelling, well-rounded characters.  Some have suggested the term “anthropological science fiction” for her work.  Her writing is what I would call “meaty” — Not only does she give you the “flavor” that keeps you reading, but there’s substance to it.  There are always ideas and concepts for you to chew on.  Do you like sword and sorcery?  Try Cherryh’s Morgaine books.  Do you like “hard SciFi”?  Try Downbelow Station or Merchanter’s Luck.  The Faded Sun trilogy is another real rouser of a read.  She’s written close to 70 books in a wide variety of subgenres, so you’re spoiled for choice.  I will advise, however, not to start reading one of her books at 10 o’clock at night unless you don’t mind realizing all of a sudden that you’ve just turned the last page, look over at the clock and see it’s now 6 a.m.  Yep.  That good.

Speaking of books, I’m about to turn my “tween” 1C-2x* on to Steve Miller and Sharon Lee‘s book Fledgling. It h has so may things going for it that make it a perfect book for her — a female protagonist with agency, a matriarchy, teenage angst, some really interesting social issues, and Daav yos’Phelium, my personal favorite Liaden character. For those who want to try out the Liaden Universe risk-free, you can get this book from Baen, the publisher, as an ebook for free here, in a variety of formats for the ereader of your choice.

The duplex has a low brick wall along the eastern end of the property with two electric pole lights on it, neither of which work.  The area of the duplex in front of the garage is very dark.  The porch light doesn’t light it, and the few times mom has been here after dark, I’ve lighted her to her car with a flash light because I’m, understandably, very afraid of her falling.  If I could get the landlady to have those lights fixed — assuming they are fixable — that would improve matters greatly.  I have bought a solar “barn light” that would fit up over the garage door (being solar it wouldn’t need electrical wiring), but I would have to screw it onto the fascia of the house, and that would only light the area in front of the garage.  The two electrical lights on the brick wall would not only light that area, but shine between the house and the fence of the house next door. This area, which is currently very dark, has become rather concerning because of what happened early Saturday morning.

I was sitting at my computer catching up on my blog and webcomic reading.  It was about 2:30 in the morning.  I suddenly heard this loud bumping thump that sounded like something hitting the house.  It was loud enough that I could hear it over the music I was listening to on earbuds.  I heard it several times, along with talking and what sounded like either bad coughing or retching.  I was understandably concerned.  There was more thumping and bumping, and more coughing.  I called 911 (US equivalent of 999 or 112).  They said they’d send a squad car out.

I was watching by the front door and saw it’s lights when a squad car pull up into the driveway and peeked out the front door to see the officer come up.  I explained to him what I’d heard and he wanted to go look in the back yard and asked if the gate was unlocked.  I said yes.  But, as he got to the edge of the porch, he heard something on the other side of the neighbor’s fence.  He climbed up on the fence and shined a light over and there was somebody there.

The policeman got down and went around to the neighbor’s gate and went back there.  The house next door has a little patio along the side of the house right even with the end of my porch.  After a few minutes, his partner came looking for him and I told him where he was.

According to the partner, who came back to report, a man next door had gotten locked out of his house, and that everything was OK.  I don’t know if the guy locked himself out accidentally or somebody in the house locked him out accidentally or on purpose, or just what the deal was.  I don’t know what age the guy was, but he had a terrible, racking cough.

My mom came by Sunday evening to bring me left-over cookies from some reception one of her groups was hosting and I told her about what had happened.  We went out and looked in the area between the house and the neighbor’s fence.  I found another cigarette lighter (I had already found one beside one of the yard lights when I went to look at it to see if I could put a light in it and make it work, which I couldn’t).  That made two of those little disposable cigarette lighters I’d found out in the grass along the fence.  There were also some empty cans tied up in a plastic bag, as well as some shredded cans and, the most concerning, an iron bar about 2 feet long and about half an inch in diameter was lying up against the house.  It would have been perfect for knocking out the window in the office — the only window on that side of the house.  I brought the iron bar inside and put it in the garage.

Now I’ve got to call my landlady and persuade her to let me call an electrician to come look at those yard lights to see if they can be gotten to work.  I don’t know what shape the wiring’s in, but I do know that they are at least going to need new bulb sockets.  One light has a socket, but it’s not in good shape.  The other one doesn’t even have a socket.  If the wiring proves to be sound, it may be that all that needs to be done is to replace the sockets.


*first cousin twice removed.  I’ve got one who’s about to be a teenager, and one who just learned to walk.  Guess which one.

How Many Geeks Does It Take . . .


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. . .To set up a flat screen TV?  Three apparently.  (A short, dark overweight one; A Val Kilmer wannabe, and a diminutive Asian-American one.  It was pretty classic.)  Two to do the carrying in and the installation of the legs to the bottom of the TV, and the setting it up on the sideboard, and (the Asian-American) one to fiddle with his smart phone for upwards of 20 minutes trying to get the TV to set itself up, connect to my WiFi, and then talk to TiVo.  Seems it was being a bit recalcitrant and kittenish and didn’t want to talk to TiVo.  When the second geek drew his smart phone and lept (figuratively speaking) into the affray, the poor TV capitulated, connected itself meekly to my WiFi feed, downloaded updates (insert obligatory technology joke here) and began conversing amicably with TiVo, whose screen it displayed with stunning color and clarity.   We are very high-tech now, and I can download the app and control the TV from my smart phone or tablet, — if I had either, which I don’t.  Therefore, the (sniff) low-tech Suddenlink remote was duly programmed.

The honor of the Geek Squad having been duly upheld, the Three Geek Circus folded itself into tenths like an Arab*, uploaded themselves to their Geek Squad van and hied them to their next install, leaving me the lion’s share of the day to enjoy my new acquisition! 2016_10_07-01The legs hold the edge of the TV just high enough off the sideboard for my TIVO box (dark grey on the right) to slip right underneath it, as well as my DVD player (silver on the left), with a space in between that is just wide enough for my digital clock.  There is great joy at the Wolery right now.  Mom has watched part of a Rangers baseball game, and I have been enjoying stuff I’ve recorded off TiVo.

The screen is BIG — 60 inches wide — I love it.  It’s like my private in-home theater.  The screen resolution is beautiful.  I have especially enjoyed watching the gorgeous scenery in the nature documentaries.  It has a special jack where I can plug in my cordless headphones, which I like as I can have crisp sound while keeping the volume turned way down — I guess I’m just so used to wearing headphones from 27 years worth of being a medical transcriptionist, but I do believe the sound quality is better through headphones.  Also, I can mute the TV, but still hear through the headphones so I can watch TV whenever without disturbing my duplex neighbor.

Shortly after I moved in, I had to get a cordless phone with five handsets because I need handsets in four rooms, but have to have the base unit sitting close to the TV because that’s where the cable is, thus a fifth.  The cable connects into a splitter that splits it into two:  One to connect to Tivo and one to connect to the phone modem which isolates the VOIP signal out of my cable feed for my phone service.  I have to put the base unit of the cordless phone next to the modem unless I want to string phone cord across the floor — which defeats the whole purpose of having a cordless phone in the first place  . . . Oh, and did I mention the fat(cat) has a tendency to chew cords?

Anyway, the TV is here and set up and watchable and all is happy campery chez nous in the TV department.

In the meantime, we’ve had some very concerning news from one of my cousins, EGG.  About seven years ago, her husband had a tussle with some kind of lymphoma — not sure what kind — and was apparently in remission until just recently.  After a bit of putzing about by their doctors, one finally ordered the right test, a CT scan, and found a 3.8 cm mass in the pelvic region.  For the nonmetric crowd, 3.8 cm is larger than a grape.  They are, as you might suspect, very concerned, especially in view of his history.  A core biopsy was ordered and performed, and we are awaiting results. This cousin is my dad’s younger brother’s girl.  As her father is deceased, she had asked my dad to give her away at her wedding.

In the amazing and gratifying events column is this. Several authors, including Neil Gaiman, somehow got wind of it and boosted their signal, and they got so many books, they had enough to share with other places.  So, Yay!

In the Wheel of the Year category, we’ve had a little cold snap (temps down into the 60’s/40’s F (15+/7+ C — We’re at the same latitude as Casablanca, Morocco, here.  It’s cold when you compare it to our usual temps!) and I’ve made my first pot of (Moroccan Mint, oddly enough) tea.  We’re supposed to be back up in the 80’s F (26+ C) by next week.  There’s been talk we’re in for a tough, cold winter, though.  I’m prepared.  I have gas heat now.

Today’s earworm is brought to you by the inimitable Elton John.  Buh-buh-buh-Bennie and the Jetssssssssss.

I started singing the chorus, and the fat(cat)boy went and hid.  It took me a minute to realize he thought I was hissing at him.  Poor little guy.  He was up on the footrest of my recliner a while ago, snuggled between my knees.  Like I said, we’ve had a little cold snap.


*Literary allusion. See last verse.

Hurry Wednesday!


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One of the places I had to go Friday was the Department of Motor Vehicles to get the address changed on my driver’s license.  The DMV used to be way up at the north end of town, but they moved.  Now they’re way norther of where they were.  They’re practically next door to the airport– way the heck out past the loop in the inutterable boonies.   In retrospect, I should have hired a native guide and packed a lunch. . . .  What was I thinking going to a governmental agency without knitting?

I also had to make a stop at a local office supply place to get some bulldog clips (not to be confused with binder clips, which is a horse of a completely different color . . .).  The idea is to get two bulldog clips and screw one side of each to the inside of my under-sink cabinet door.  This gives me a way to hang my rubber gloves by the cuff so they hang open and air out inside.  (Binder clips won’t work, as there’s obviously no way to screw one side to the cabinet door.)  You have to predrill, then screw the screw in with a screwdriver which you pass through both holes on the clip.  It’s tricky, but perfect once you get them up.

Then I ended up at mom’s and we went to Best Buy and found a really good buy on a Vizio 60-inch flat screen.  For an extra $100, they deliver it and hook it up to your cable and internet and everything — yes, please! So I had the old TV picked up on Thursday.  The earliest the new one could have been delivered was Tuesday, but I’ve got stuff to do at the VA on Tuesday including a podiatry appointment I’ve waited two months for, and will be out of pocket most of the day.  The next earliest time is Wednesday, and I will be at home all day that day, trying to contain my excitement . . .

In the meantime, I’ve written a hat pattern that matches JT’s Cabled Man Cowl which was easier than I thought it would be, and turned out rather well, if I say so myself.  I’m calling it “JT’s Cabled Cap.” I’m still proofing the pattern, but I’ll put it up on my knitting blog when I’ve got the stitch count correct on the decrease.  2016_10_03-01

Watch This Space


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Now that the house is pretty much sorted, the birthday party was a good time had by all, and things have settled down, I decided to address the problem of what to do with that honking great TV and armoire. I’d tried selling it on craigslist, and in the Thrifty Nickel and got no takers.  Mom suggested calling our local chapter of the American Council for the Blind, who had come and gotten dad’s recliner when she replaced it with a lift chair.  This morning I called the ACB, and they said the earliest they could come out was Tuesday, but I have two appointments at the VA and knitting group on that day.  The next opportunity was the 11th (groan).  I told her that I really, really wanted rid of these items, and she asked her boss if a special pickup could be arranged for either Thursday or Friday.  My schedule was such that I could plan to be home all day both days.  They said they’d call about 30 minutes ahead of time if they could come out.

Knowing, as I do, how the world works, I immediately launched into a cooking project, knowing that they’d call when I was right in the middle of it.  I had a pair of baking potatoes stashed in the fridge which were whispering “Bake me!” so I got them out, cleaned them, put foil down on the cookie sheet and greased them up with olive oil.  I had the oven heating nicely and got ready to bung them in.  The cookie sheet was too wide to fit in the oven.  I put it in the long way and attempted to close the oven door.  The cookie sheet was too long to fit in the oven.  In a panic, I got out the step stool and got down one of my glass baking dishes, lined it with the way too big sheet of foil I’d put on the cookie sheet, and in the oven they went.  (I shall have to get a shorter cookie sheet toot de sweet else I won’t be able to bake biscuits — Perish forbid!)

Then I got out my pasta pot and started a load of miniature elbow macaroni, which was once the height of fashion, with the intention of making some pasta salad with tuna.  I opened the cans of tuna and set them to draining.  Then I got the pasta cooked, the onion cut up, and put those together with the peas and chopped olives in the dish, and practically on cue, the phone rang.  It was the ACB guys.  They were 20 minutes out and would be at my house shortly.

Immediately, I backed my car out of the garage and parked it in the middle strip between the garages.  Then I started moving furniture to clear a path to the garage and began unhooking various electronic equipment. Then I corralled the fat(cat)boy.  I’d just got everything ready when they showed up.  They hauled the TV and then the armoire out to their truck in short order and I went back to my pasta salad, which lacked only the tuna and the mayo to be a done deal, and had a bowl for lunch.  (I’m enjoying a “loaded” baked potato as I type.)

Tomorrow, bright and early, I have some errands to run, then about lunchtime, I’m heading to my mom’s and we’re going TV shopping at Best Buy.  Watch this space:


A Sign of the Times



For several years now, IHOP has been sending mother and me “happy birthday” coupons for a free meal.  Today I went to pick her up so that we could have breakfast together.  When I pulled up into her driveway, my “low tire pressure” light came on.  After we ate, I took her back home and downloaded all her birthday pictures off her camera onto her computer for her.

On my way home, I stopped off at my oil change place to have them check my tires and fill the culprit(s) to recommended pressure.  While I was waiting my turn, I noticed a sign on their waiting room door:

Guns are Welcome on Premises
Please keep all weapons holstered unless need arises.
In such case, judicious marksmanship is appreciated.

Oh, did I mention that I live in Texas?

Resting Up and a Bittersweet Dream.


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After the party Friday evening, it took me about half an hour to clean up after the party, and to put the living room and dining room back to “normal,” and then me and the fat(cat)boy hit the hay.  I took it easy yesterday, slept in and did some reading, and otherwise lounged around.  It felt good to just kick back and relax.

2015_02_27-03Last night, I dreamed about the last two kitties I lost, Gobi (below) and Stormie (left). I was in this sunny, carpeted room with a large multi-paned window sitting on the floor with the fat(cat)boy, scritching him, looked over, and there was Gobi, the white one.  I petted him and scritched him and was so glad to see him again.  2014_10_24-06I said I wished that my baby girl was there, too, looked up, and she was walking in through the window glass.  I called to her but I couldn’t get her to come down to me so I could pet her.  Still, it was so good to see them both again, if only in my dreams.  I miss my sweet little baby girl and that obnoxious little white boy. . .

I’m going to be taking it easy for a while, now that I’m finally (99%*) all moved in.  I’ve got a couple of knitting patterns I want to write — a hat to match JT’s Cabled Man Cowl, and fingerless gloves with an owl on to match WOL’s Owl hat, cowl and scarf.  I’ve got a gazillion UFO**’s to finish, I’m way behind on my TV watching. . . Busy. . . busy. . .

*Two boxes of pots and pans left to unpack and those three small kitchen cupboards to clean.  I’ll be unpacking those boxes soon as my pasta pot is in one of them and I’m getting hungry for pasta salad again. . .
** UnFinished Objects — uncompleted knitting projects