Read Any Good Tee-Shirts Lately?*

“Those who wonder if the glass is half empty or half full miss the point.  The glass is refillable.”

“Brace yourself.  The full moon is coming.”

“English is weird,
but it can be understood through tough, thorough thought, though.”

“Bookmarks are for quitters.”

“The most dangerous animal in the world is a silent, smiling woman.”

“My two favorite teams are Chicago, and anyone who beats Baltimore.”

“People think I’m crazy for talking to animals.  Should I ignore their questions?”

“BOY, n. 1. noise with dirt on it.”

“I thought growing old would take longer. ”

“You matter.
Unless you multiply yourself by the speed of light . . . then you energy.”
(If this isn’t a Neil deGrasse Tyson quote, it ought to be.)

“Most computer problems are caused by a faulty connection between the chair and the keyboard.”

“Meddle not in the affairs of dragons, for you are crunchy and good with ketchup. ”

“Never trust an atom.  They make up everything.”

“iTired.  There’s a nap for that.”

“‘Earth’ without Art is just ‘Eh.'”

“The only thing we have to fear is Fear itself . . . and spiders.”


*As gleaned from an unsolicited Signals catalog.

We Were Thankful Clear On The Other Side of Town

My mom and I had resigned ourselves to Thanksgiving dinner at a local restaurant (we’re both so over cooking holiday dinners), but a lady she sings in the choir with asked us over to eat with them.  JH and her husband S moved last year from my mom’s side of town, clear across to the other side of town.  My mom had been there once, but not the way we went.  Still, she had it plotted out and she came by to pick me up.  I took the first batch of snowflakes with me as a hostess gift, and they were a hit.

It was a bit tricky to find their house.  Our town is laid out quite logically and typically, on north-south streets, odd house numbers are on the east side of the street, and even house numbers are on the west side of the street.  Their street runs north-south and their house number is an even number, so one would expect it to be on the west side of the street.  No soap.  The houses on the east side predictably had odd house numbers, but there were no houses on the west side of the street.  Typically numbered streets have the lowest numbers in the north, and get higher the further south you go.  What we didn’t realize was that the crossing street at the end of that block was 1st Street, which is where the system changes.  The next cross street going north was 1st Place, followed by 2nd Place, etc., and the numbering system from that point is exactly reversed.  When we got into the next block, the houses were still all on the east side of the street, but they had even house numbers in reverse numerical order to the usual “lowest number to the south, highest number to the north” sequence.  Fortunately, the house we were looking for was right at that corner, and we’d found it.

It’s a lovely house, somewhat smaller than their previous house, but with nice high ceilings, shutter blinds on the windows, a gorgeous, fully appointed kitchen,  and each of the three bedrooms has its own en suite.  They’ve accessorized the decor with SH’s antique electronic devices including an old 1920’s pole microphone.  (SH is an electrical engineer and has collected all sorts of vintage electronics).

JH is not real into cooking either and has little interest in doing it, especially since her husband S loves to cook and is very good at it.  It was he who cooked the luscious spread.  He even made the pumpkin pie.

While he cooked, we girls watched “Gone With The Wind” on TV, which was already in progress when we tuned in.  My mom saw it on its first run in a theater when she was 12 (it made a huge and lasting impression on her), and she has seen it a gazillion times since.  (I’m sorry to say, my mom has completely bought into that whole Cult of the Lost Cause thing which both the book and the film reflect, and can’t understand why they want to take down monuments to Confederate generals, etc.  She is scandalized and personally affronted that the name of the high school my dad graduated from was changed because it was named for a member of Jefferson Davis’ cabinet.)(She’s 93.  There’s no hope of my enlightening her.  I’ve learned to just let sleeping dogmas lie.)

We had a traditional meal — turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, gravy, creamed corn , cranberry relish, — except biscuits for bread instead of white rolls.  My mom was supposed to bring rolls, but realized at the last minute the frozen rolls she was planning to bring had been in the freezer quite a while and she was no longer confident of their freshness.  The frozen biscuits, on the other hand, were recently bought, so that’s what she took.  No matter.  Bread is bread.  It was a very delicious feast.

We had a delightful time with dear friends, and many things to be thankful for.

An Unsettling Episode

I was sitting watching TV this afternoon when the doorbell rang.  It was a man dressed in T-shirt and slacks, who identified himself as a former tenant of my duplex.  I recognized the name he gave because I had gotten his mail, mostly hospital bills.  He said that his son had passed away about three months ago, and that he had first started having seizures while they were living in the duplex.  He said he just wanted to stand outside in the yard and pray for a little bit. (It was obvious he was still very much affected by his son’s death as he teared up and got emotional talking about it. I don’t know how old the son was, but the man looked to be  in his late 30’s, so the son couldn’t have been very old.) I made appropriate responses (what do you say in a situation like that, anyway?) and said it was OK.  He was the one who had planted the roses, apparently.  I apologized that the rose bed badly needed weeding, but he passed this off, saying, “It’s your house now.”

What made it even more disturbing was that the elderly couple who moved out just prior to my moving in were both quite frail.  I got conflicting stories from the landlady as to why they moved.  First she said that a sister was supposed to be moving in with them to help take care of the man and she had a dog, and the landlady didn’t want any more dogs.  Then later she said they moved out because they needed three bedrooms, and the duplex only has two.  The husband really, really didn’t want to move as he really liked the duplex.  Three months after they moved, he died.

And then, since I’ve lived here, some chronic health problems I’ve had for a while have gotten much worse.  Cue the Twilight Zone theme.

I knew the place had terrible feng shui when I moved in, but I’ve done the best I can with it.  Mom was very keen on my living here because she really likes it.  It’s probably five minutes away from her house, driveway to driveway, and it’s important to her to be able to drive by where I live all the time, so there it is.   You do the best you can with what you have.

On a more whimsical note, the other day I had finished eating my daily ration of nine Rolo candies, which come wrapped in tin foil.   Sometimes I spread them out, like four after lunch and five after supper by way of desert, and sometimes I eat all nine at once.  The other day I was blogging, looked over and saw these rolled up balls of tinfoil and thought — owl pellets! Then I cracked up laughing.



A Small Snow Flurry At My House

Very small.  Just five flakes, actually.  This batch is a hostess gift to the dear friends who are having mom and me over for Thanksgiving dinner later today.

Here are the other materials you’ll need besides crochet thread (not yarn!  Cotton crochet thread, such as Coats’ Knit Cro-Sheen or Aunt Lydia’s) and a size 5 (1.9 mm) crochet hook.  (You might also want a set of binoculars so you can see what you’re doing! LOL!)   You’ll need a bottle of Mod Podge Stiffy fabric stiffener, lots of straight pins, a spool of the narrowest white satin ribbon they make (not shown), a small paintbrush, a hot glue gun and hot glue sticks (not shown), and a container of opalescent microglitter.  You want the smallest glitter particles you can find.  Opalescent embossing powder will work if you can’t find the microglitter.  You can use silver or gold glitter if you go for that completely over the top look, but personally, I think the opalescent glitter provides just the right amount of subtle sparkle.

First you crochet the snowflake — this pattern ends up too big for a tree ornament, I think, but I couldn’t tell until I’d made a couple.  Still, they’d look OK as a festoon — hung in a window or from a mantelpiece, or something.  The patterns I’ve selected are all patterns  that are new to me and I can’t really tell how suitable they’ll be til I’ve made one up.

Then you spread some sort of plastic wrap over the top of your ironing board or blocking board and use straight pins to pin the snowflake out in the shape it’s supposed to be in.  (This is why you need so many straight pins!)  If you’re using an ironing board, you’ll need to angle the pins  so that they go between the board and the cover, otherwise they won’t hold.  It is essential you spread down the plastic wrap so you don’t get Mod Podge all over your ironing board cover or blocking board!

Once you’ve got all your snowflakes pinned out, you paint on the Mod Podge.  I would thin down the Mod Podge to about two parts Podge to one part water.  Be generous.  You want the cotton thread to soak up the Mod Podge.   Do one snowflake at a time.  Immediately after you’ve put Mod Podge on it, sprinkle it with the glitter.  You want to put the glitter on while the Mod Podge is still soaking wet so it will stick.

Once the Mod Podge is completely dry, pull out the pins (I use a pair of needle nose pliers to save my fingernails!), flip the snowflake over, and give the other side a light coat of Mod Podge followed immediately by a sprinkling of glitter.  The glitter I got has a “shaker top” but I like to take pinches of glitter (like you do salt) and sprinkle it carefully, following the shape of the snowflake rather than shaking it out all over it.  This allows you to apply the glitter in a more controlled manner and makes the container of glitter go farther.

Note:  The Mod Podge has a tendency to “sheet” across the open spaces in the fabric of the snowflake, and you will probably have to take a paring knife or craft knife to poke these “sheets” out, remove them, and otherwise clean up the snowflake.

Once the second coat of Mod Podge is dry,  and you’ve cleaned up your snowflakes, you can hot glue a small loop of ribbon to one “point”.   And there you are!  The loop of ribbon allows you to insert one of those metal ornament hooks into it to hang them on a tree, or you can tie them to a garland or hang them in a window by tying on some nylon fishing line.

I might point out that snowflakes are “nondenominational” — there’s nothing about them that has any overt religious connotations or symbolism, and they would be appropriate (and politically correct!) as gifts and/or winter decorations for those who espouse any of the world’s major religions — or no religion.   Total win.

A Change of Pace

That loud grinding noise you heard a while ago was me changing gears from knitting to crochet. (Yes, I am ambicraftous.)  My mom belongs to this Sekret Klub, and every year in early December they have a fund-raising auction.  The members bring things to auction off, pay inflated prices for each other’s stuff, and the money goes into a college scholarship fund of some sort.  Last year, I made her four buttoned cowls.  This year, I’m making her three sets of five crocheted snowflakes. I’m also making several sets of three for hostess gifts.

Tuesday after knitting group, I need to dash over to Michael’s and get some stiff stuff, some opalescent embossing powder, a container of sewing pins, and a paint brush.   I’m pretty sure I already have enough crochet thread in my thread stash.  In order to turn the snowflakes into tree ornaments, which is the goal of the exercise, they have to be blocked (stretched and pinned into shape), then soaked in the stiff stuff and sprinkled with opalescent embossing powder to give them just the right amount of sparkle. When that side is dry, you flip them over and repeat the process.  Once they’re thoroughly dry, you hot glue a little loop of the narrowest white satin ribbon they make to one “point” so an ornament hook can be attached for hanging it on the tree.

One down, many to go.

I googled crocheted snowflakes and found this website that has a whole slew of free patterns for them.  More than enough for the 15 I’m making for my mom.  I’ll choose the 15 I like best, and do them.

I was searching for “Russian waltzes” on YouTube yesterday (because I couldn’t remember whether this one waltz was written by Prokofiev or Khachaturian)(It was Khachaturian.) and found this serendooglously*.

And yes! It’s from a Russian film.  And yes! An English language version is available on Amazon, . . . And yes! It’s been shipped!  (It’s dubbed in English.  I wish it had been in Russian with English subtitles, but I may just turn the sound off and gorge on the video.)

Here’s the Russian language trailer.

Matvey Lykov, who plays the guy she really loves (spoiler alert:  Not the blond guy.), is yummy.  And that wedding ensemble she’s wearing in the boat is just fabulous.


*serendoogle — something you find serendipitously while googling for something else.  I made this word up by mashing “serendipity” and “google” together.

Now and Again, My Brain Is Nice To Me

This little gem of a Satie waltz has been my earworm for most of the day.  Kind of like my brain is trying to be extra sweet to me because of the sturm, drang and brouhaha of the Firefox Quantum debacle of the past two days.  (Instead of “Firefox,” I typed “Firepox” — I think my Freudian slip is showing.)  My savage breast hath been greatly in need of soothing of late.  Yeth, it hath.

Firefox Quantum is a Quantum of Schmaltz

— In the literal sense of the word “schmaltz,” meaning “chicken fat.”  I got really tired really quickly of piddling with Feedbro and RSSOwl, neither of which was as easy to use as NewsFox (which Firefox “Quantum” broke).  Finally, I just said (among other unrepeatable scatalogical and blasphemous utterances) the heck with it and rolled back Firefox to version 56.02.

I also left a comment on Mozilla’s Facebook page to the effect that I was really pissed off that they broke NewsFox while they were putzing around trying to soup up FireFox and that I was not going to upgrade to Quantum until they fixed it so that it would work with NewsFox.

I just now reinstalled Firefox version 56.02, which is the version before they broke it and have it set to ask me before it updates.   That means I can go back to NewsFox, which is the most useful and efficient feed reader I’ve been able to find.

Call me weird, but updates are supposed to make software better, and I cannot see how changing Firefox  so that the best feed reader out there no longer works  with it, makes it better.

I probably follow about 50 different blogs, 15 Tumblr sites, and about 30 different webcomics, and NewsFox organizes, tracks and updates them very efficiently.  When I open the update, it displays the actual webpage, not just the content, which means I can easily sign into those blogs that require it for commenting.  There were several blogs that neither RSSOwl, nor Feedbro would display in any form that would allow me to sign in so there was no way I could comment.   Also some of the blogs and Tumblr sites are artists’ sites and neither RSSOwl nor Feedbro would display their artwork or the webcomics except as thumbnails you had to click on to go to the website to view — which in Feedbro’s case meant opening another browser tab.  Neither RSSOwl nor Feedbro can hold a candle to the overall performance and user friendliness of NewsFox for viewing textual content, artwork, and photography easily without making you jump through a bunch of hoops to do it.

I don’t have the time or patience for that.  I’ll stick with NewsFox and the old Firefox version 56.02 until Firefox comes up with something that works with NewsFox, or until someone comes up with a better product than either RSSOwl or Feedbro, thank you very much.

Fooling with Feed Readers

Well, my Firefox browser just updated itself to Firefox Quantum, and NewsFox, which is a feed reader I have been using for years, doesn’t work with Quantum. Two choices: Roll back to the 56.02 version of Firefox and live in the past with security vulnerabilities, or find a new feed reader. I’ve been trying out RSSOwl and Feedbro, but naturally neither works as well as NewsFox.

Feedbro is an in-browser plugin that works in Firefox (at least for now), and in order to comment on a blog in Feedbro, you have to go to the actual web page, because Feedbro only displays content. To go to the webpage, it opens a new browser tab, which is a PITA.

RSSOwl is a stand alone, but it also only displays content, and if you want to comment you also have to go to the actual webpage, which opens in RSSOwl.

There are several blogs I can no longer comment on because RSSOwl doesn’t give me the option of using my Google ID, and there is one blog I can no longer comment on because Feedbro can’t open the site in a new tab with the URL because it cannot identify itself to Blogger as one of the people allowed to view that webpage, and RSSOwl won’t allow me to use my Google ID to sign in to comment.

As for reading webcomics, neither feed reader will display the actual webpage to begin with.  It just shows content which typically involves a thumbnail of the comic page.  You have to click through to the webpage on every %$#@!*$%$#!@!# one in order to be able to read the &*!^%#@&*%&! comic, which on Feedbro means you’ll have humpty eleven tabs open if you don’t close each and every *&^%*$#%!^$#@!#$ one when you’re done reading the page.

The only high point in this dark  pit of dudgeon is that I was able to save all my feed info from NewsFox in an .opml file and import it into both RSSOwl and Feedbro, else I’d have been on the warpath for sure.

The poor fat(cat)boy has gone into the other room and crawled under the bed because mama is cussing a blue streak.  To put it mildly (and in socially acceptable terminology), I am not a happy camper.

I’m Ready For Some TV Knitting (and Watching!)

Well, the pattern is modified and the slippers are knitted and on my little tootsies.  The math involved makes my brain hurt, even when I’ve got a calculator.   My three remaining working brain cells are knackered, and I’m ready for a little mindless TV knitting.

They worked up nicely, but you have to sew up the sole and the back of the heel portion . . . grumble . . . grumble.  I strenuously avoid knitting patterns you make in pieces and then have to sew together.  If I wanted to sew, I’d get out my sewing machine.

The pattern is sized for a foot 9-10 inches (23-25.5 cm) long from big toe to the edge of the heel, which would accommodate an (American) 8 to a 10 ladies size shoe.

Yesterday was Veterans’ day, and I just couldn’t.   The picture of my dad in his dress Marine uniform at the start of WWII, the exact one (which is still in the exact frame) that his father had at his bedside while he was dying of cancer and hoping his 3rd son would make it home from China in time to say one last goodbye is just too fraught with memories.

My mom is an anniversary marker — she knows the birthdays and the date of death of each of her 12 siblings, her mother,  my dad, and my brother’s late first wife, and she never fails to remark on each event and how many years it has been since.  And she put that picture of my dad up on her Facebook page for Veterans’ Day.  That’s all well and good, but, we shouldn’t just remember veterans on Veterans’ Day; we should remember them every day.  They don’t just protect and defend us on Veterans’ Day.  They risked and continue to risk life and limb in our service every minute of every day.

And besides, my dad’s not the only veteran in the family.  Both he and my mother had brothers in the armed services during WWII, and they had a child who proudly served as well.

Everything Old Is New Again

The only way  the members of my parents’ generation would have ever heard Lil Hardin Armstrong‘s song “Oriental Swing” was if it was covered by a white band — It was “race” music and it was considered too “primitive” and “degenerate” for whites to listen to, especially in the South.   How ironic that the roots of some of the most iconic American music — jazz, blues, and rock and roll — are firmly embedded in such “race” music.

A pinch of sampling, a dash of modern technology,  and  a half tsp of change of tempo, and you get:

I do have to say the second one has a catchier tempo. . . .

And she dates herself by adding, “I give it a 90, Dick, because it’s got a good beat and you can dance to it . . .