Goings and Doings and Hats

Oh, my.  It’s fooled around and gotten cold on us again.  I feel almost guilty because the northeast is taking such a pounding, and we’re just not even all that cold here.  Still, we’re more than cold enough to suit me. Here’s our five day forecast: And for the Celsius crowd. . .We’re having a “blew” norther.  Mostly it’s just windy and cold.  Again, for perspective, my town is at roughly the same latitude as Casablanca, Morocco — Africa!

I was going to do a blog post sooner, but I got to playing around with a little scenario about three days ago, and the first thing I knew, I had three pages of characters and two chapters.  Sometimes I publish little short pieces in my blog.  I haven’t published any in this iteration, but there are some here from my blog archives.  There used to be a website call Magpie Tales where the lady would post a picture or photograph and we would have to write something inspired by it (Mag Challenge).  She went on to other things, so I’ve been challenging myself — although it’s not much of a challenge since I pick pictures that fit things I’m in the mood to write.   I have no interest in trying to publish anything; I write because I like doing it.  I enjoy the process.

My left knee has been hurting pretty badly.  I broke that kneecap in 1991, and had two surgeries on it — one to repair the kneecap, and one to remove the hardware — and I’m sure my current pain has something to do with that.  I’ve had rotator cuff surgery on my left shoulder, and I have two pinched nerves at my second cervical vertebra on the left from reinjuring that shoulder trying to lift a 40-pound (18.6 kg) bottle of water onto a dispenser stand.  I saw my VA provider (a physician’s assistant/nurse practitioner) (she’s both) when it happened, and saw her again last week because lately both my shoulder and my knee have been hurting so that I was having trouble sleeping.  Predictably, my VA PA said, “Lets throw some pills at it and see what happens.” She prescribed me some diclofenac and put me back on gabapentin.  I do have to say that both medications are working, for once, and I’ve had a great reduction in my pain, which has immensely helped my ability to sleep.

I had to go out today, and when I reached down to put the key in my car’s ignition, I saw the odometer read 11,444.

I’ve been knitting men’s hats and reading, but haven’t finished anything.  I’ve just been like the dormouse at the mad tea party, having difficulty staying awake.  Mostly, I just want to crawl into my teapot and hibernate.

I’ve finally figured out why the fat(cat)boy likes to sleep on this one particular spot on the bed, especially when I’m not in it.  That’s the precise spot where hot air blows out of the air vent onto the bed.  If you want to know what the best seat in the house is, it’s the one the cat’s in. . . .

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Frolicking in Fredericksburg

Over the New Year’s weekend, we went to stay with friends in Llano, Tx.  Saturday, they took us to Fredericksburg, Tx.  Our first stop was the Wildseed Farms, which raises native Texas wildflowers for seed so that people can use native plants in their landscaping.

Since my duplex neighbor has Turks head bushes, which attract humming birds, I bought the “humming bird and butterfly” mix. I also bought some wild flower honey for my friend LB, and a “Lone Star” wreath for my door.  In addition to the regular house door, I have a glass storm door, and there’s only about 2-1/2 inches of clearance between them, which makes it hard to find wreaths that are flat enough.  This one is, though, and — it was on sale for half off!  Win/Win.

As I mentioned in the previous post, there is a lot of limestone in this region of Texas and early settlers made good use of this abundant building material.  Fredericksburg has preserved its historic old buildings and repurposed them into shops and restaurants, so that the oldest part of the city has retained its historic character.

 

 

 

 

 

As its name implies, Fredericksburg was founded by German immigrants to Texas — through an organization called the Adelsverein.  While Hispanic is the largest ethnic group in Texas,   the “Anglos,” people who immigrated to Texas from other parts of the United States, are actually the 3rd largest ethnic group.  The 2nd largest ethnic group in Texas is German, people who immigrated to Texas from Germany, which included several members of my mother’s family.  The hill country was and is home to a large ethnic German population.  They brought with them their own vernacular style of architecture which they adapted to their new home.  A descendant of these early German settlers is celebrated just across the street from where we ate lunch: Admiral Chester W. Nimitz (at left).  The old Nimitz Steamboat Hotel, (below) owned and operated by his grandfather, Charles Henry Nimitz, Sr.,  where young Chester played as a child,  now houses the Admiral Nimitz Museum.  It is part of a complex of museums and displays that comprise the National Museum of the Pacific War.  Its extensive grounds include walls studded with memorial plaques to ships and people who served in the Pacific Theatre during WWII –which was where my dad served with the 6th Marine Division.  We briefly toured the museum’s grounds, but we did not have time to do it justice.  The displays and exhibits are quite extensive and encompass several buildings as well as a large courtyard.  The part I found most moving, however, was the Japanese Garden of Peace, a gift from the people of Japan to the people of the United States, in honor of Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz.   Craftsmen came from Japan and built it, using money raised in Japan by popular subscription. We lunched at a restaurant called “The Auslander” — which is German for “outsider, foreigner.”  Since I wasn’t driving, I had a big tall glass of Paulaner Hefe-Weiss beer with my Rinderbraten. (If you’ve never drunk anything but American beer, you don’t know what you’re missing!)   The food was scrumptious, the portions generous (I had to have a “doggie bag“), and their brown gravy was to die for!  They were doing a land office business, even in the trough of the afternoon (3 p.m.). The worst part of eating there was having to choose between having the Paulaner or a peach Bellini to drink with my meal.

The Auslander Restaurant has an interesting collection of cuckoo clocks whose cuckoo where kept shut up behind their little doors.  Having that many cuckoo clocks going off at once would be rather cacophonous — especially at noon!  The restaurant’s Christmas decorations were still up as well.

 

 

 

 

 

Following our meal, we took a stroll about, first to the Nimitz Museum, and then to the town square to see their Christmas tree and “pyramid”, which is based on one of those little gizmos which uses heated air from candles to turn a little propeller, which then turns the pyramid — except that the one they have is about 30 feet tall!  The decorations on their Christmas tree reminded me of my home-baked snowflakes.  This is a nice little park, which also has an ice-skating rink and a little wedding chapel.  They have set up their “life size” creche and this other tree thingie as part of the town’s seasonal decorations.   The roses in the park were still blooming.

 

 

 

Unfortunately, the yarn shop they used to have in Fredericksburg is now closed as the lady who ran it retired.

Llolling About in Llano, Part One

Our good friends C&DK invited mom and me down to their “ranch” about 7 miles outside of Llano, Tx, over New Year’s.  They have around 20 acres in  “the hill country” down near Austin, and Fredericksburg, on which they have a cabin.  They call it “The Crooked Star Ranch” because they had a star (Tx is the “Lone Star State,” after all) on the cabin door that kept getting knocked cattywompus* every time the door was closed.

The cabin was originally built as a 10′ x 15′ hunting lodge with a fireplace, a sleeping loft, a miniscule 3-piece bathroom, a very rudimentary kitchen, a veranda and a screened-in porch.

After they bought it, they replaced the porch screens with glass, added a bedroom and bath on the ground floor and bumped out the kitchen to make room for more prep area, shelving, and a full sized refrigerator.  They also added 3 mini splits for heating and cooling.   It’s rustic, I’ll grant you, and it’s out in the boonies, but it has hot and cold running water, a septic system, indoor plumbing, and she has a stackable washer and dryer, so we weren’t exactly roughing it.

The stairs to the sleeping loft (at right) are rather breakneck, and they did not want my 93-year-old mom going up and down them (nor did I), so they put her in their bedroom with its en-suite, and they slept in the loft.  I was put on the former porch on the bed the couch folded out into.  However, I had a waffle blanket, a quilt and the thick fleece blanket I had thrown in the back seat of the car (along with a baggie containing tea light candles, a cigarette lighter, chocolate, nuts and trail mix — part of my winter survival kit), and I was plenty warm.

They still had their Christmas decorations up.  The stockings were hung on the gun-rack with care.  (Actually,  the guns and sword are “authentic reproductions” that belong to one of their neighbors who participates in historical reenactments.

The cabin was all lit up for Christmas, including Dixie, their dog (lower left corner of picture).   (Dixie is a Boykin Spaniel, — the state dog of South Carolina — and is rather opinionated about how many treats she should be allowed to have. . . .)

This part of Texas is known as the “hill country” because it is just that — hilly, rocky, and wooded, with post oaks, live oaks and mesquite.  It is mostly used for grazing land, primarily for cattle, but also sheep and goats.  The land is dotted with limestone escarpments and outcrops which provide an abundant source of building material — the so-called “Austin stone.”

This part of Texas is about at the same latitude as southern Morocco or the northern border of India, and has a humid subtropical climate, with hot summers and generally mild winters. Average temperatures range from 84°F (29°C) in the summer to 46°F (7.8°C) during winter.  Towns are few and far between in this area, and with all this open land, there is also wild life — a lot of deer, racoons, skunks, snakes (including rattlesnakes and copperheads), possums, foxes, coyotes, etc.  Unfortunately, they also have feral hogs.

With this winter storm thing developing over the New Year holiday, mom and I were watching the weather so as to know what clothes to take.  These were the predictions as of the day before we left.

 

 

 

Suffice it to say, my mom, bless her, does not have the appropriate clothes for this kind of situation or weather.  Her wardrobe is “indoor-city,” i.e., geared to bridge clubs, luncheons, and church.  Her idea of cold weather clothes was to bring her wool suit made from thin woolen broadcloth lined with satin, which she wore with a long sleeved cotton jersey sweater, a flannel lined nylon windbreaker, and knee-high nylon hose —  and she couldn’t understand why she was so cold.  I was wearing microfleece — three layers on my core, and two layers on my arms — sweatpants, and thick cotton socks, and I was fine, although I did resort to a lap robe on Monday.

We drove down on Friday, and made really good time — with my mom navigating and the excellent directions CK had given us, we didn’t miss a turnoff.  The only time we had any trouble at all was when one of those bus-like RV motor homes nearly ran us off the road.  I was going slightly under the speed limit (which is 75 mph/120 kph in Texas) I was in the passing lane right beside them when this yahoo in the motor home decided to pull into our lane and durn near side-swiped us.  Fortunately, I was able to maintain control of the car and keep us going straight because the shoulder of the road (what there was of it) was steeply sloped and we could have easily had a roll-over accident.  I don’t think mom realized how close we came to wiping out completely, which is just as well.

One other incident of note did happen on the way down; I finally thought of a good name for my silver 2015 Toyota Corolla.  The car I had before it (for 27 years!), a 1987 Toyota Corolla, was affectionately known as “the Crayola.”  I’ve decided to call this one “the Grayola.”

CK, who is a great cook, served us home-made chicken and dumplings, queso, tamales,  prime rib and other such delicious goodies —  in a kitchen with no stove, just a microwave, toaster oven and crock pots!

*cattywompus — if something is all cattywompus, it is discombobulated, askew, tangled up, disarranged, jumbled up.  (If you’ve ever been around little kittens, you’ll have noticed that sometimes when they run, the hind end gets ahead of the front end, with predictable results.)

Books Read in 2017

92. Where Serpents Sleep, Harris, C.S. (reread)
91. Barnaby Grimes: Curse of the Night Wolf, Stewart, Paul
90. Our World, Oliver, Mary
89. *Kaleidoscope, Gilman, Dorothy
88. *The Clairvoyant Countess, Gilman, Dorothy
87. *The Prisoner of Limnos, McMaster Bujold, Lois
86. *Mira’s Last Dance, McMaster Bujold, Lois
85. *Penric’s Mission, McMaster Bujold, Lois
84. *Penric’s Fox, McMaster Bujold, Lois
83. *Penric and the Shaman, McMaster Bujold, Lois
82. *Penric’s Demon, McMaster Bujold, Lois
81. *The Grass Harp, Capote, Truman
80. *The Year of the Unicorn, Norton, Andre
79. *The Brightest Fell, McGuire, Seanan
78. *The Cat Who Could Read Backwards, Braun, Lilian Jackson
77. *The Spirit Tree, Hearst, Kathryn M.
76. Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore: A Novel, Sloan, Robin
75. *Paladin of Souls, McMaster Bujold, Lois
74. *The Curse of Chalion, McMaster Bujold, Lois
73. *Summer In Orcus, Kingfisher, T.
72. *Neogenesis, Lee, Sharon and Miller, Steve (eARC)
71. Wolf Wing, Lee, Tanith
70. Wolf Queen, Lee, Tanith
69. Wolf Star, Lee, Tanith
68. Wolf Tower, Lee, Tanith
67. *Jackalope Wives and Other Stories, Kingfisher, T.
66. Mrs. Grant and Madame Jule, Chiaverini, Jennifer
65. Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker, Chiaverini, Jennifer
64. Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, Watson, Winifred (re-read)
63. *Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen, McMaster Bujold, Lois
62. *Jackaby, Ritter, William
61. *Howl’s Moving Castle, Wynne Jones, Diana (re-read)
60. *Due Diligence, Lee, Sharon and Miller, Steve
59. *Flight of Magpies, Charles, K. J.
58. *A Case of Possession, Charles, K. J.
57. *The Magpie Lord, Charles, K. J.
56. A Conspiracy of Kings, Whalen Turner, Megan (re-read)
55. The King of Attolia, Whalen Turner, Megan (re-read)
54. The Queen of Attolia, Whalen Turner, Megan (re-read)
53. The Thief, Whalen Turner, Megan (re-read)
52. Thick as Thieves, Whalen Turner, Megan
51. Seven Wild Sisters, DeLint, Charles
50. *The Owl Service, Garner, Alan (re-read)
49. Stargate, Norton, Andre
48. *Swordspoint, Kushner, Ellen
47. *Privilege of the Sword, Kushner, Ellen
46. *The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet, Chambers, Becky
45. Point of Honour, Robins, Madeleine E.
44. The Mark of the Horse Lord, Sutcliff, Rosemary
43. Where the Dead Lie, Harris, C. S.
42. Convergence, Cherryh, C. J.
41. Visitor, Cherryh, C. J. (reread)
40. Tracker, Cherryh, C. J. (re-reread)
39. When Falcons Fall, Harris, C. S. (reread)
38. Who Buries the Dead, Harris, C. S. (re-reread)
37. Why Kings Confess, Harris, C. S. (re-reread)
36. What Darkness Brings, Harris, C. S. (re-reread)
35. When Maidens Mourn, Harris, C. S. (re-reread)
34. Where Shadows Dance, Harris, C. S. (re-reread)
33. What Remains of Heaven, Harris, C. S. (re-reread)
32. Where Serpents Sleep, Harris, C. S. (re-reread)
31. Why Mermaids Sing, Harris, C. S. (re-reread)
30. When Gods Die, Harris, C. S. (re-reread)
29. What Angels Fear, Harris, C. S. (re-reread)
28. Alliance of Equals, Miller, Steve and Lee, Sharon (reread)
27. Trade Secrets, Miller, Steve and Lee, Sharon (re-reread)
26. Liaden Constellation, Vol. 2, Miller, Steve and Lee, Sharon (re-reread)
25. Liaden Constellation, Vol. 3, Miller, Steve and Lee, Sharon (re-reread)
24. Liaden Constellation, Vol. 1, Miller, Steve and Lee, Sharon (re-reread)
23. Dragon in Exile, Miller, Steve and Lee, Sharon (re-. . . reread)
22. Necessity’s Child, Miller, Steve and Lee, Sharon (re-. . . reread)
21. Mouse and Dragon, Miller, Steve and Lee, Sharon (re-. . . reread)
20. Scout’s Progress, Miller, Steve and Lee, Sharon (re-. . . reread)
19. I Dare, Miller, Steve and Lee, Sharon (re-. . . reread)
18. Plan B, Miller, Steve and Lee, Sharon (re-. . . reread)
17. Local Custom, Miller, Steve and Lee, Sharon (re-. . . reread)
16. Conflict of Honors, Miller, Steve and Lee, Sharon (re-. . . reread)
15. Carpe Diem, Miller, Steve and Lee, Sharon (re-. . . reread)
14. Agent of Change, Miller, Steve and Lee, Sharon (re-. . . reread)
13. The Gathering Edge, 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

Crimmers Eve

My friend LB made a bunch of knitted snowmen, and she gave me this one when I went to see her Thursday.  She used yarn that has a thread of iridescence in it that gives it just the perfect little sparkle like snow (like the iridescent glitter I used on my snowflakes) — which doesn’t photograph at all well . . . .

The little snowman got me to thinking again about how a simple object of little intrinsic worth becomes an object of great value because of its history and how one came to acquire it.  Its worth lies in its ability to evoke memories, of the time, the place and the giver.  .  .  .  It becomes a “souvenir” in the literal sense of the word, which is French for “remember.”

Sans segue,  I remembered I had this little bamboo silverware tray  (it’s too narrow for the silverware drawer in this house), and I had a brainwave — I put it on the little table I have by my computer to organize my knitting needles.  It works a treat.  I had a hard time getting to my double pointed needles before, but not now.  They all go in that front bit quite nicely, as does my needle gauge.  Win.

Here I make all these hats for other people, but I hadn’t made any for myself.  Last year, I had made a ribbed cowl to fit up around my neck, which I fold in half and which fits like a turtle neck sweater without the sweater.   I used it when I had to go out Friday, and it is tall enough that it will cover my mouth and ears no problem.  I made it so long because you can also unfold it and bring one end of it up over your head.  It fits my needs very well.  I thought a toboggan to go with it out of the same Caron Simply Soft yarn would be just the thing, so on this chilly (41 F/ 5C) Crimmers Eve, I’m making one.

Late in my salad days (1986), when I first started doing medical transcription, we worked at the hospital in a little room off the medical records department.  The lady I worked for, and who taught me transcription, used to get tickled at me for refering to “Christmas” as “Crimmers.”  I was more draw-y and cartoon-y then than I am now, and I drew her this little thing below one Crimmers.  (I didn’t know until about 20 years later that she had not only kept it all these years, but had had it very nicely framed.)  The sentiment still holds up well, I think, even now in these dark days. . .