The Lament of a Voracious Reader

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I was updating my list of books read in 2015, and I noticed how many books had “(reread)” after them, and how many had “(re-reread)” after them.  Out of 98* books I’ve read so far this year, 17 were “rereads” and 27 were “re-rereads”.  Out of the 98 books I’ve read so far this year, 44 of them, almost half, I had read at least once before, and 27 of them I have read more than once.  That means only 54 of the books I’ve read so far this year were books I’ve never read before.  And only three of those were books nobody had read before — books bought new because they had just been published, and each new book bought shot my book buying budget for the month — I could have bought five used books for what the one new book cost. It’s called “budgetary constraints,” a reflection of the fact that since I quit my part-time job this spring, I only have one source of income any more and thus have very little in the way of discretionary funds. Yes, I know.  But the public library in this town doesn’t have the kinds of books I like to read. Sigh.  In all fairness, though, now that I’m not working, I do have to admit that my hands don’t hurt so much any more.

*An average of 14 books a month.

Food O’Clock

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2015_07_25-01 I cooked a package of small elbow macaroni.  For 99 cents’ worth of macaroni, I got a large casserole of Wolf-Brand Chili With Beans and elbows, two dishes of pasta salad, and the small container of about a cup of cooked elbow macaroni which I ate with a drizzle of olive oil for lunch.  Those long-time followers of this blog will know that I am rather fond of Wolf-Brand Chili With Beans mixed with pasta (spaghetti or elbows), shredded cheese, chopped black olives and raw onions.  It makes a nice meal all by itself.  Since I was going to be chopping onions, I made a bowl of beet salad also.  I’ll be able to eat on this food all week.

The pasta salad has chopped chicken breast, small English peas, black olives, carrots, celery, white onions, green onions, chopped kosher dill spears, and mayo.   The beet salad has diced pickled beets, white onions, kosher dill spears, and mayo.

2015_07_18-02In the knitting news, I finished the booties that go with the little purple cardigan.  That leaves me with the Little Miss Rae bonnet to finish, the Meadowsweet booties to finish, the Meadowsweet bonnet to knit, and the diagonal baby afghan to finish.  (I also have a lot of ends to weave in and buttons to sew on!) I also (finally) wrote the pattern for drool bibs.  I’ll put the pattern modifications for this little cardigan (modified version at right) and for both bootie tops (this one and the Meadowsweet dress one), as well as the drool bib pattern, on my knitting blog next week sometime.  While I’m updating my knitting blog, I really, really need to update my Ravelry projects page, and link my patterns and modifications back to my knitting blog.

Once I get the baby stuff on it’s way to grandma in Pearland, I’ve got scarves to shorten for my mom, I need to finish the semicircular shawl I’m doing for my BFF, and a hat and scarf I’m doing for my friend in MI. I need to make a horseshoe muffler for my cousin’s wife in NM, and then I’ll start in on the 6-month size baby clothes. . .

Looks like mom and I may be doing another road trip in October.  The Pearland Historical Society is having some kind of do that mom wants to go to, and we may combine that trip and the Round Top trip into one.

O, Pluto, Where Art Thou?

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Screenshot_1It’s been all over the news, the New Horizons flyby of Pluto.  OK.  First thing to take away.  Clyde Tombaugh discovered Pluto in 1930.  The best image obtainable at the time was a speck on a photographic plate (see arrow at left).  Pluto is smaller than our moon and has an orbital period of 248 years, so we’ve only been able to plot its orbital trajectory for a little less than 85 years, and we’ve only been able to achieve an “aim something at it” level of accuracy for the past 15 years or so.

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Pluto is lower left with it’s moon Charon beside it. It’s weensy.

The mission to Pluto was launched in 2006, and it took the New Horizons craft 9-1/2 years to travel over 3 billion miles — that’s “billion” with a “B” — to Pluto.  (Light from Pluto takes 4-1/2 hours to reach the Earth.)  Unfortunately, although New Horizons was exactly where it was supposed to be when it arrived, it got there 72 seconds early.  Well, dang.  That’s a disappointing 99.9% accuracy.

The New Horizon spacecraft is the size of a grand piano with a large salad bowl atop it, only has two 32 GB hard drives on it, and has a one track mind — it cannot send and receive data at the same time, — so we had to white knuckle the flyby and wait until it was over to find out if the spacecraft survived it’s passage through the debris field between Pluto and its moon Charon. Because it can only transmit data at 1 to 2 Kbps (!), it’s going to take over 16 months for the New Horizons spacecraft to transmit all 64 GB of its data — that’s apparently all you got for $720 million in 2006.  Just for comparison, my computer (bought in 2011) has a 500 GB hard drive (almost 8 times larger) and, according to the Geek Squad, I have a data transmission speed of 5.32 Mbps (1 Mb =1024 Kb), which is 5447.68 times faster.

plutopluto-lorri-new-horizons-high-res-colorStill, we’re getting a pretty good bang for our buck so far.  This is Hubble’s best shot of Pluto at left compared to New Horizons’ first high resolution image at right.

mayzangari.jpg.CROP.original-originalCollaborating with the New Horizons team is Dr. Brian May. You may have heard of him.  Before he got his Ph.D. in astrophysics, he played lead guitar in this rock band called “Queen” That’s him in 1974, second from right.

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What I’m waiting for is for Discovery Channel or National Geographic Channel or one of those other “science” channels to do a show with him and Neil deGrasse Tyson talking about Pluto and getting their geek on. 

Clyde Tombaugh's ashesOh, and I forgot to mention.  Clyde Tombaugh died in 1997 at the age of 90, and never got to see the close up images of that little pinpoint of light he found back in 1930, but on the New Horizons spacecraft is a small canister containing some of his cremains, and the legend: “Interned herein are remains of American Clyde W. Tombaugh, discoverer of Pluto and the solar system’s “third zone.” Adelle and Muron’s boy, Patricia’s husband, Annette and Alden’s father, astronomer, teacher, punster, and friend: Clyde W. Tombaugh (1906-1997).”  Also on the spacecraft is a CD-ROM with the names of over 434,000 people who wanted to participate vicariously in this historic exploration.  I’m sorry I didn’t know about that.  I’d have wanted my name on that CD, too.

I was thinking just now:  My mom will be 91 on her next birthday.  She was born in 1924 during the age of radio.  She was 2-1/2 years old when Lindbergh flew across the Atlantic.  She was 6 years old when Pluto was discovered. She was 21 when the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan.  She was 23 when Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier in a jet aircraft in 1947.  She was in her middle 20’s when the television age began and she saw the Apollo 11 moon landing broadcast live from the moon. She was 53 the year the Apple II person computer came out, and she learned to use a desktop computer running the MS-DOS version of WordPerfect word processing software during her last years as a secretary for the law firm she worked for until she retired. (She’s still using the computer she got when she retired, BTW, which runs Word Perfect from MS-DOS and has a floppy disk drive!) She has seen the various space shuttle missions.  She’s seen the International Space Station, and the three Mars Rovers, and now she’s seen Pluto.  Unfortunately, she’s not likely to live long enough to see humans land on Mars.  I hope I do. CJ42Mn_WgAEuUNF

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A Brief But Strange Interlude

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2015_07_16-01When I was perhaps three, possibly four years old, I decided that miller moths were called “blumblumlies,” and moths of that ilk have been referred to as such in the family argot ever since.  Tuesday night, I left my porch light on so I could see to get my key in the door when I came home from knitting group. Porch lights are notorious for attracting moths of any stripe (or spot), and no matter how you time it, you never seem to be able to get in the door without some uninvited “guests” following you inside.

I haven’t noticed so many “blumblumlie” moths of late, but we seem to have an over abundance of some specie of little dull greenish-brown leaf hopper.  They torment the black kitty.  They flit about and he alerts on them and obviously WANTS to pounce on them, but they are way too fast and too small for him to keep up with.  I have become more or less braced for the resounding crash that indicates that he has finally gone ballistic and taken out a table lamp in pursuit of one. The lamps are cast iron, so no worries there, but I just hope he doesn’t knock the side table over and take out my knitting bowl.  I went out to put some trash in the dumpster just now, and I’ll bet sixteen of the little buggers got in.

cat-jumps-into-bean-bagThe poor black kitty is just about beside himself.  He wants one sooooo baaaad!  If he ever does decide he’s got a clear shot at one and manages to achieve lift off, at 15 lbs, he’ll have some kind of inertia going on, and when the Gravity Police catch him with it, they are not going to let him off easy.   (That’s not him above, but it would be just like him.)

We Resume the Program at Fort Stanton

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IMG_0138While we were visiting my cousin and his family in Capitan, New Mexico, he took us to visit the historical site, Fort Stanton, which is about a 20 minute drive from his house.  He was a docent at the site for a while, until his worsening hearing loss made it problematical for him to continue. (It’s hard to answer visitor’s questions if you can’t hear them well enough to understand what they’re saying.)  In his boots, jeans, western shirt and cowboy hat, my cousin would have made a perfect docent, especially as he was well up on the subject.

IMG_0139The original fort was built in 1855 to protect settlements along the Rio Bonito during the Apache Wars, and was originally part of the Mescalero Apache reservation until the reservation was moved 30 miles to the southwest to it’s current location.

IMG_0152The buildings are built from the local stone, which is very abundant in the Capitan Mountains of southeastern New Mexico.  I took the picture at right to give an idea of the thickness of the walls.  The long black object is the screen door leading into the museum area.  They had a lovely little museum in the building pictured above, which was one of the original fort buildings built in about 1858, and was originally a barrackIMG_0154as.

 

 

 

Kit Carson, John “Black Jack” Pershing, and Billy the Kid, all lived there at one time or another, and the Buffalo Soldiers of the 9th Cavalry were stationed here.  There was a typical cavalry soldier’s outfit, including hat, uniform jacket, saddle and gear on display in the museum (see below), and another of the buildings was set up as a cavalry barracks with furniture, equipment, and clothing on display.

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The outfit of a solder in the US cavalry during the 1800’s — although only an officer would have carried a sword. Notice how there is no top to the saddle seat, typical of the McClellan saddle which was adopted by the U.S. Cavalry in 1859.

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Another cavalry saddle on display, a bit more elaborate and ornamented.  It looks rather uncomfortable.

IMG_0141As I mentioned, another of the buildings had been set up as a cavalry barracks with racks for rifles.  This building had a vestibule where hats and coats were hung, and then inside the door, in the barracks room proper, was this rifle rack.  There was no sign saying what kind of rifles these were but I think they might be Springfield Model 1861 rifles which were muzzle loading muskets that used Minié balls. Springfield Model 1861’s were the most widely used US Army rifles during the American Civil War.

There was supposed to be some kind of US Cavalry reenactor event held at the Fort on July 11th, and over 5000 people were expected to attend.  Cavalry reenactors are, like most historical reenactors, quite serious about it, and typically have not only uniforms, but horses, tack, and all the gear.  One of the lawyers in the law firm my mother used to work for was a cavalry reenactor.

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This is a flag such as would have flown at Fort Stanton when it was founded in 1855. It has 31 stars, reflecting California’s becoming the 31st state in 1850. It would have been replaced by a 32 star flag in 1858, the year Minnesota became a state. The US flag has 13 red and white stripes, symbolizing the original 13 colonies, and a white star in the blue field for every state. Currently, there are 50 stars in the flag, reflecting the admission of Alaska and Hawaii in 1959.

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Here is the interior of the barracks room with the rows of bunk beds hung with clothing and gear.

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Notice how the stove is set up on earthenware tiles to get the iron feet up off the wood floor. Canteens, bayonets and cartridge cases are hung on the bunk bed and a mess kit is on the bench. Note the shoes by the bed, the bugle on the yellow bench and the scoop for horse feed beside the mess kit. Difficult to see are a pair of coal oil lamps on the window sill.

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Here is a “home made” checkers set. Note the “spittoon” down beside the table. Chewing tobacco was the preferred method of tobacco usage among soldiers who spent a lot of time in the saddle, and who needed their hands free.  Note the trousers hung up by their suspenders on the end of the bunk beds.

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The NCO’s had somewhat better accommodations than the rank and file soldiers — as you might suppose — but even they slept on bare boards like the common soldiers presumably on some kind of a mattress stuffed with grass or hay. There is a candle lantern on the window sill as well as a family photograph.

IMG_0146While we were in the barracks building, we had quite a little rainstorm which “confined us to quarters” for about 15 minutes.

CAPTJPershingGeneral John Pershing began his military career in 1886 and served with the 6th Cavalry in New Mexico.  He was briefly stationed at Fort Stanton. Although many people think that his nickname, “Black Jack,” was given as a tribute, it was actually a put-down. Pershing had served with the Buffalo Soldiers of the famous 10th Cavalry unit, which was comprised of segregated African-American soldiers. He was derided for having “ridden with the blacks,” and so was nicknamed Black Jack. He had taught African-American children as a young man, and he remained sympathetic to Black Americans his whole life.

IMG_0153IMG_0161 In 1899, President William McKinley transferred the Fort Stanton property from the War Department to the Marine Hospital Service, converting the military reservation to America’s first federal tuberculosis sanatorium.  Merchant seamen were at high risk of developing tuberculosus as they often slept in close quarters and had poor nutrition. The vast majority of the graves in this cemetery outside the Fort are of the merchant seamen who succumbed to tuberculosis.  In the lower left hand corner of the picture, you can make out a grey metal object, which is a ship’s anchor.

The bacillus causing tuberculosis was identified on 24 March 1882 by Robert Koch who received the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine in 1905 for this discovery. Many people caught tuberculosis from infected milk.  In the early 20th century, Milton Joseph Rosenau established the standards for the pasteurization of milk while a member of the United States Marine Hospital Service.  Before the advent of streptomycin in 1946, there was no effective treatment for the disease.

IMG_0133During World War II, German and Japanese prisoners of war were interned at Fort Stanton, including 411 German nationals taken from the luxury liner Columbus in 1939.  Caught at sea by the outbreak of WWII, the Columbus put her passengers ashore at Havana, Cuba, and was attempting to comply with orders to return home to Germany when she was intercepted by the British destroyer HMS Hyperion. Also in the area was the neutral American heavy cruiser Tuscaloosa. Rather than allow themselves to be captured by the British, the Germans scuttled their vessel and her 576 crew members, including boys, stevedores and nurses, were taken aboard the Tuscaloosa as rescued seamen, not as prisoners of war as they would have been had the British picked them up. While at Fort Stanton, the German internees constructed their own swimming pool.  The above model ship was constructed by one of the German internees.

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Furnishings from the brief period of time when Fort Stanton was used as a mental hospital.

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This Singer sewing machine is very similar to the one my mother has, possibly a treadle machine that has been converted to electricity, or else an electric machine from the late 1930’s.

IMG_0155Here is the charming little rock chapel on the grounds of Fort Stanton in its lovely wooded setting. IMG_0158

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The interior of the church and it’s organ.

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How pleasant it must have been to sit on the porch of the rectory attached to the little chapel.

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Buildings around what was once the parade grounds.

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Former housing for Cavalry officers and their families.

In 2008, New Mexico governor Bill Richardson announced plans to establish Fort Stanton as a living history venue, Fort Stanton State Monument, and allocate funds to renovate headquarters, officers quarters, and stables.

In 2009, the 25,000 acres around Fort Stanton and Fort Stanton Cave were designated by the U.S. Congress as a National Conservation Area (NCA), in order to protect a unique cave resource, Snowy River Passage in Fort Stanton Cave National Natural Landmark. Snowy River was discovered in 2001 by members of the Fort Stanton Cave Study Project. The new NCA, called Fort Stanton – Snowy River Cave, is managed by the Bureau of Land Management. The NCA has over 90 miles of multi-use trails for horseback riding, mountain bike riding and hiking. It is the venue of an annual endurance riding event that has grown to be 6 days long. The NCA is joined on its south and northeast boundaries by the Smokey Bear Ranger District of the Lincoln National Forest.

Although many of the old military and hospital buildings are still derelict and awaiting restoration, what was once housing for hospital employees and support staff is still in use as housing for New Mexico state law enforcement personnel and their families, so much of the area around the historic Fort is cordoned off as private residences.

Books Read in 2015

95. *The Winter Long, McGuire, Seanan
94. *The Winds of Marble Arch, Willis, Connie
93. *Firewatch, Willis, Connie
92. *The Best of Connie Willis: Award Winning Stories, Willis, Connie
91. Impossible Things, Willis, Connie
90. Dragon in Exile, Lee, Sharon, and Miller, Steve
89. Dragon Ship, Lee, Sharon, and Miller, Steve (reread)
88. Necessity’s Child, Lee, Sharon, and Miller, Steve
87. Ghost Ship, Lee, Sharon, and Miller, Steve (reread)
86. Saltation, Lee, Sharon, and Miller, Steve (reread)
85. Fledgling, Lee, Sharon, and Miller, Steve (reread)
84. I Dare, Lee, Sharon, and Miller, Steve (re-reread)
83. Plan B, Lee, Sharon, and Miller, Steve (re-reread)
82. Carpe Diem, Lee, Sharon, and Miller, Steve (re-reread)
81. Agent of Change, Lee, Sharon, and Miller, Steve (re-reread)
80. Conflict of Honors, Lee, Sharon, and Miller, Steve (re-reread)
79. Mouse and Dragon, Lee, Sharon, and Miller, Steve (re-reread)
78. Scout’s Progress, Lee, Sharon, and Miller, Steve (re-reread)
77. Local Custom, Lee, Sharon, and Miller, Steve (re-reread)
76. Trade Secret, Lee, Sharon, and Miller, Steve
75. Balance of Trade, Lee, Sharon, and Miller, Steve (reread)
74. Crystal Dragon, Lee, Sharon, and Miller, Steve (reread)
73. Crystal Soldier, Lee, Sharon, and Miller, Steve (reread)
72. Dragon in Exile, Lee, Sharon, and Miller, Steve (reread)
71. Uprooted, Novik, Naomi
70. Elfland, Warrington, Freda
69. Tracker, Cherryh, C. J. (Foreigner series, re-reread)
68. Peacemaker, Cherryh, C. J. (Foreigner series, re-reread)
67. Protector, Cherryh, C. J. (Foreigner series, re-reread)
66. Intruder, Cherryh, C. J. (Foreigner series, re-reread)
65. Betrayer, Cherryh, C. J. (Foreigner series, re-reread)
64. Deceiver, Cherryh, C. J. (Foreigner series, re-reread)
63. Conspirator, Cherryh, C. J. (Foreigner series, re-reread)
62. Deliverer, Cherryh, C. J. (Foreigner series, re-reread)
61. Pretender, Cherryh, C. J. (Foreigner series, re-reread)
60. Destroyer, Cherryh, C. J. (Foreigner series, re-reread)
59. Explorer, Cherryh, C. J. (Foreigner series, re-reread)
58. Defender, Cherryh, C. J. (Foreigner series, re-reread)
57. Precursor, Cherryh, C. J. (Foreigner series, re-reread)
56. Inheritor, Cherryh, C. J. (Foreigner series, re-reread)
55. Invader, Cherryh, C. J. (Foreigner series, re-reread)
54. Foreigner, Cherryh, C. J. (re-reread)
53. Doomsday Book, Willis, Connie
52. Not To Mention The Dog, Willis, Connie
51. Saga, Vol 3, Vaughn, Brian K. (graphic novel)
50. The Adventuress, Niffenegger, Audrey (graphic novel)
49. Saga, Vol 2, Vaughn, Brian K. (graphic novel)
48. Saga, Vol 1, Vaughn, Brian K. (graphic novel)
47. Tracker, Cherryh, C. J.
46. The Masterharper of Pern, McCaffrey, Anne
45. Ender’s Game, Card, Orson Scott
44. The Chronicles of Pern: First Fall, McCaffrey, Anne
43. Nerilka’s Story, McCaffrey, Anne
42. Dragondrums, McCaffrey, Anne
41. Dragonsinger, McCaffrey, Anne
40. Dragonsong, McCaffrey, Anne
39. *Who Buries the Dead, Harris, C. S.
38. The White Dragon, McCaffrey, Anne (re-reread)
37. Dragonquest, McCaffrey, Anne (re-reread)
36. Dragonflight, McCaffrey, Anne (re-reread)
35. Archer’s Goon, Jones, Diana Wynne
34. Enchanted Glass, Jones, Diana Wynne
33. Why Kings Confess, Harris, C. S.
32. The One-Eyed Man, Modesitt, Jr, L. E.
31 Tehanu, LeGuin, Ursula
30. Castle in the Air, Jones, Diana Wynne
29. *Thieve’s Quarry, Jackson, D. B.
28. *A Plunder of Souls, Jackson, D. B.
27. *The Price of Doing Business (short story), Jackson, D. B.
26. *A Spell of Vengance (short story), Jackson, D. B.
25. What Darkness Brings, Harris, C. S.
24. When Maidens Mourn, Harris, C. S.
23. Where Shadows Dance, Harris, C. S.
22. What Remains of Heaven, Harris, C. S.
21. Where Serpents Sleep, Harris, C. S.
20. Why Mermaids Sing, Harris, C. S.
19. Fire and Hemlock, Jones, Diana Wynne
18. What Angels Fear, Harris, C. S.
17. When Gods Die, Harris, C. S.
16. Possession, Richardson, Kat
15. The Year of the Griffin, Jones, Diana Wynne
14. Dark Lord of Derkholm, Jones, Diana Wynne
13. Till We Have Faces, Lewis, C. S.
12. Catch the Lightening, Asaro, Catherine
11. Seawitch, Richardson, Kat
10. Unexpected Magic, Jones, Diana Wynne
9. Fortunately, The Milk, Gaiman, Neil
8. Downpour, Richardson, Kat
7. Labyrinth, Richardson, Kat
6. Pogo’s Double Sundae, Kelly, Walt
5. Pogo’s Bats and the Belles Free, Kelly, Walt
4. Primary Inversion, Asaro, Catherine
3. Johannes Cabal, The Necromancer, Howard, Jonathan L.
2. Beau Pogo, Kelly, Walt
1. Emerald House Rising, Kerr, Peg

* Ebook

Interlude Number Two

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Not a good day.  Tried to pay bills last night and the power company’s website wouldn’t let me on.  After I couldn’t get on the electric company’s website, I paid my Consumer Cellular bill and they took the payment out twice, which meant I was a dollar short of the money I needed to pay my electric bill, which is due today — I still couldn’t get on the website.  When I finally got through the phone tree and got a real person on the phone, it seems they’re having a security issue with Firefox and they want you to use Internet Explorer, which is a piece of crap, to put it politely.  The only computer virus I ever had on this computer (touch wood!) I got using Internet Explorer and it took the Geek Squad five hours and cost me $50 to get it removed. Couldn’t get the payment to go through because I didn’t have enough money in the bank!

Oh, Consumer Cellular reversed the erroneous charge yesterday after I called them and took them to task about it, but apparently it takes three to five business days for their computer to electronically call their bank’s computer to tell it to electronically call my bank’s computer and electronically give it my money back.  Three to five business days to “electronically” reverse a charge.  (@#$%^&*!)  So I had to go throw on some clothes and drive over to the bank (did I mention it’s 91F/32.7C outside at the moment?) and put $5 in my account so I would have enough to pay my electricity bill, which is due today, while I’m waiting three to five business days for my $17.95 to be electronically put back in my account.  (*&^%$#@!)

2015_07_15-03I did not go to knitting group last time, as we had gone and gone and gone for the previous four days on our trip to Capitan to visit the cousin, and I just wanted to not go anywhere for a while.  Did go yesterday, though, and there must have been twenty people there — an excellent turnout.  We had two new ladies come, one learning knitting and one learning to do those scarves that look like feather boas only made of this special ribbon and not nearly as tacky looking.  I’ve been making some for mom, but the ones I made her are too long, and I haven’t had the time to fix them what with 2015_07_15-04making baby clothes.  I’ve got to get the first installment of baby clothes in the mail by the end of July.  I finished the little cardigan in purple, which is a modification of this pattern, which I modified by shortening the sleeves, and doing some extra little purl row doodads on the hem.  The cuffs of the booties will have a ruffle that mirrors the purl row/yarn over eyelet design on the hem.  I will post the modifications on my knitting blog as soon as I get the other two days of our trip written up.  Later.  I know it’s been almost two weeks.  Just bear with me.

When I booted my computer up today, Windows did 37,092 updates.  I exaggerate not. 37,092.  I wrote the number down so I’d get it right.  Of course, I was in a hurry wanting it to boot up already . . . .  So, why does Windows 7 need to do 37,092 updates when Windows 10 is supposed to come out the 29th?

I watched too much TV during the daytime last month.  I have a 36-inch cathode ray tube TV which puts out heat like a son of a gun.  In the summer, when it’s hot, if I watch TV in the daytime, my AC runs almost constantly despite the thermostat’s being in the hallway.  At night I run the fan which helps mix the air and keeps it from getting sweating hot in the living room when the TV’s on.  My mom remarked on my keeping my blinds closed in the daytime (she always opens hers all over the house), but I don’t dare open the blinds on the huge west window.  So, because I watched too much TV in the daytime last month, my electric bill was higher than giraffe’s ears from the AC running constantly. Sigh. At least in the wintertime when the weather’s cold, that hulking behemoth of a TV does help heat the house. Sigh.

I always try to record shows that look interesting so I can watch them later.  I’ve recorded a lot of stuff I want to watch on TV, but because it’s too hot to watch TV during the daytime, I end up going back to the schedule my body just naturally wants to keep of staying up all night (watching TV) and sleeping during the day. But then that puts me out of sync with the daytime world.  It wasn’t so much of a problem when I was living at the duplex because the room the TV was in was about twice the size of my current living room, and for most of the time I was living there, I was working nights anyway.

I’ve got the whole last season (9 episodes) of “Downton Abbey” recorded, and the first four installments of the new version of “Poldark,” a couple of episodes of “Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell,”and five or six episodes of my knitting shows, and a bunch of other shows — one about Herculaneum, a couple astronomy/physics shows by this one presenter I like, and four episodes of the PBS series, “How We Got to Now,” which is pretty interesting.

I’ve just discovered there are six more Poldark books that I haven’t read, and which I don’t have. When I got the Poldark books in the 1980’s, six was all there were.  Unbeknownst to me, Winston Graham kept on writing more of them.  Six more.  Looks like the best deal I can get from Amazon on used paperback copies is $7, plus $4 shipping, but then I can get them new at $13.46 with free shipping. The Kindle editions are $7.55 a pop, but I’d rather have the dead tree edition, thank you.  I might can squeeze one or even two into the budget for August.  Payday is next week.  Sigh. Of course, I’ll wait until I’ve gotten all of the remaining six and binge read the lot.  That ought to take me at least a week.  I’m up to 90 books read in 2015 so far.

I made some tuna salad Monday, and it’s been calling my name for the last ten minutes.  I’d better go see what it wants.

We Interrupt This Program . . .

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IMG_0167I still have two more posts to write about our sojourn in NM.  I need to email my cousin’s and ask about her horse Dakota.  The last night we were there, my cousin forgot and left a gate open and Dakota got out where he could get into the barn and get at the alfalfa hay and pigged out. He was also out in a pasture, and could graze all night, too, which wouldn’t have done him any harm.  It was the pigging out on the alfalfa that had her concerned.  He’s 29 years old, (in the foreground above) but he’s part Arabian and they are of sterner stuff than your average cow pony.  According to her, he’s in better shape than the 13-year-old Buddy.  Anyway, I’m concerned about him.

This past Wednesday, I had to deal with a toilet that ran over.  Again.  Same one that ran over last Wednesday.  Had to wash the bath mats and towels again.  I’m going to have to invest in a mop and a bucket, I guess.  The lady across the way has obviously had her baby since flushing baby wipes down the toilet is what is stopping the sewer line up. That’s twice in one week.  Gets a bit old.

Tonight I made two cans’ worth of tuna salad and a can’s worth of beet salad.  Used up a fair sized onion in the process.  They’re in the fridge chilling, and I’m at the computer chilling.  Listening to Eleftheria Arvanitaki on Rhapsody.  Greek singer.  Sings in Greek.  Quite nice, actually. I’m kind of expressing solidarity with the Greeks whose country is in a mell of a hess financially at the moment and there doesn’t seem to be a lot anybody is able to do about it.

Anyway, I’ll get around to finishing up the posts on my trip.  And I’ve got to finish up the first installment of baby clothes.  I’ve been informed the baby is due within the next 35 days.  My dad’s 93rd birthday would have been on the 21st of August.  Be interesting if the baby is born on his birthday.

 

The Fourth Was With Us

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2015_07_03-16If you’ve read the previous two posts, you’ll know my mom and I spent the Fourth of July holiday weekend visiting my cousin (her sister’s boy) and his family in Capitan, New Mexico, (population about 1000).  We got up bright and early to go into town for the big Fourth of July Parade.

2015_07_04-15There had been a hard rain Friday morning in Capitan and the parking lot at the arena where the rodeo was ongoing was a morass.  Neither mom nor I are all that keen on rodeos anyway, and one look at the state of the parking lot ruled out the rodeo.

2015_07_04-13However, the volunteers at the Capitan Public Library, which include my cousin and his wife, were selling hot dogs, cold drinks — and books! — during the Fourth of July celebrations, all proceeds to benefit the library.   A room in the library was set aside for the sale of donated books which were either duplicates, or there was no room in the library for them.  Five bucks a bag — Yes, please!  My mom and I each both bought a bagful.  We found some good seats and settled in for the parade.  The “main street” of Capitan is a highway –US 380 — and the state police blocked it off, establishing a detour around the parade route for highway traffic for the duration of the parade.

The young man in the blue shirt has Down syndrome and is blind, but his enthusiasm was boundless and he enjoyed the parade very much.  At the end of the parade were fire trucks from the Capitan fire department as well as some from Carizoso and from the Forest Service and Lincoln County, all whooping and hooting their sirens. Kind of hard to make a video when you’ve got your fingers in both ears against the noise!

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Ranching is the main industry in this part of New Mexico

IMG_0051For those not familiar with western style riding, the western saddle is built for working cattle. The saddle has a wooden frame for strength, which is covered with leather for comfort.  Affixed to the front of the saddle is the saddle horn for snubbing the rope used to lasso cattle for branding, castrating or dehorning. The stirrups are heavy, wide, and long, so that the rider is practically standing in the saddle.  Cowboys typically spend all day on horseback, so the length of stirrup is for comfort as well as stability.  The rider holds both reins in one hand, usually the left, leaving the right hand free to perform other tasks, such as using a rope, or opening or closing a gate.  A good cow horse responds to the pressure of a rein laid against its neck to indicate that it is to go left or right. A light pull means stop.  A harder pull means back up.  You will note that some of the horses in the video tended to hold their heads low, with their necks stretched out horizontally. These are probably cutting/roping horses there for the rodeo.  A good cutting horse has “cow sense” and watches the cattle as they are being worked, helping the rider cut out particular cows, and keeping them from rejoining the herd.

Some more pictures of my cousin’s house and land.

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Ranger’s bed is a bit too small

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Some of the beautiful Mexican tile work in the kitchen of my cousin’s house.

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Adding color to the patio

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Outdoor dining at its best!

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The garden — the basic problem is how to keep the garden in and the rabbits out!

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Ranger on guard.

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With the houses set back so far from the road, the house numbers have to be on the fence!

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My cousin bought his property from a man who trained horses for a living, so the barn and corral is set up accordingly.

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My cousin uses the lunging pen for storing fence posts and firewood.

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There are shaded stalls, pens, and a corral.

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Buddy (L) and Dakota (R) get their supper.

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Dakota gets pets!

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One way to keep the dogs from digging up the flower beds.

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The next door neighbor’s gate

Assorted Spells From The Land of Enchantment

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If you read the last post, you are aware that I spent this past weekend at my cousin’s place in New Mexico, whose state nickname is “The Land of Enchantment.” They live in Lincoln County, New Mexico, in the Capitan Mountains. I thought I’d regale you with some of the local flora, fauna and scenery.  I apologize in advance for any prolonged load time for this photo-heavy post.

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The wind chimes are favorite perches

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The barn swallows (Hirundo rustica erythrogaster) have built a nest on my cousin’s porch, and have incorporated horsehair into their nests for strength. You can see the individual hairs hanging down from the nest.

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Cosmos in the landscaping outside the Smokey Bear Historical Park in Capitan, New Mexico

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Cosmos and Forsythia intermedia (yellow flowering shrub) in front of Smokey Bear Historical Park, Capitan, New Mexico.  Alas, Forsythia is a nonnative plant that was imported from Japan and China.  Shame on them!

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Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta pulcherrima) in the flower beds around Smokey Bear Historical Park, Capitan, New Mexico

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Indian Blanket (Gaillardia pulchella) in the flower beds of Smokey Bear Historical Park, Capitan, New Mexico

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Piñon pine (Pinus edulis) with cones containing pine nuts

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(Shrubs) alligator juniper (Juniperus deppeana) — so called because its bark resembles the scales of an alligator and one-seed juniper (Juniperus monosperma) — and (tree) piñon pines (Pinus edulis).

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Prickly pear cactus (Opuntia macrorhiza)

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Cane cholla cactus (Cylindropuntia imbricata) — bushes of these cacti were dotted about over the landscape and all of them were covered in brilliant fucsia blooms.

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Cane cholla cactus (Cylindropuntia imbricata)

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Prairie cone flower (Ratibida columnifera)

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Munroe’s globemallow (Sphaeralcea munroana)

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Northwestern Indian Paintbrush (Castilleja angustifolia)

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Mexican Sage (Salvia leucantha) in Lincoln, New Mexico.

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Cottonwood trees (Populus fremontii) in my cousin’s back yard, near Capitan, New Mexico.  The Spanish word for this tree is “alamo” — whence “Los Alamos,” the town in New Mexico where the atomic bomb was developed, and “The Alamo” a Spanish mission built on the banks of the San Antonio River, the site of a famous battle of the Texas Revolution.

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Why the trees are called “cottonwoods” — their seeds.

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Yucca (Yucca elata) in the garden of the Smokey Bear Historical Park, Capitan, New Mexico.

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Large piñon pine across the road from my cousin’s house, near Capitan, New Mexico.

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Ranch House and Barn near Capitan, New Mexico

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Old cottonwood tree (Populus fremontii) near Murphy-Dolan Store in Lincoln, New Mexico

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Mexican Bird of Paradise (Caesalpinia pulcherrima) beside a house in Lincoln, New Mexico

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Some of the devastation from the Little Bear Fire of June, 2012, in Lincoln County, New Mexico.

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Devastation from the Little Bear Fire of June, 2012. The fire was started by a lightening strike, and 44,330 acres of forest burned, destroying over 150 homes.  The fire threatened my cousin’s home.  They were forced to evacuate at one point, but the fire was finally brought under control and they were spared.

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