Giving It Up For Lent

What I gave up for Lent is all but about an inch of my hair.   Sat down in the stylist’s chair Wednesday, and told her to cut it.  She asked how much I wanted cut off, and I said, “About a foot.”  It’s getting thin, it’s so flyaway, the ends were all split and chewed up, and it took forever to dry . . . .  Anyway, done deal.   Moving right along.

Finishing hats.  Finished this one and posted the pattern.

Going to start working on finishing some other stuff for a while.  A lot of UFO*s taking up space and needles.  Hats will still be happening, just not so much.

I should go through my UFOs and frog the ones I know I’m not going to finish, and start finishing some of the others.   Whether I actually do it or not remains to be seen.  BLAH!

Sneaking up on spring.  Going to be getting back into the hot weather and high electric bills.

Loving my big ball bowl. *UFO – UnFinished Object.

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Plus ça Change . . .

My knee was doing really well on the diclofenac there for a while, and then I hauled a waste basket full of about 30 lbs worth of used kitty litter out to the dumpster and now it’s howling again.  (Instead of spending $19 a box for 10 Littermaid containers, and throw them away when they got full, I put a trash bag in this waste basket that had a lid and dumped the contents into it, and reused each Littermaid container until it wore out.  When the waste basket was full, I tied off the trash bag and dumped it into the dumpster.   Since the waste basket was only half full, I didn’t think it would be so heavy that I would need to use my little red wagon to haul it to the dumpster.  Famous last words . . .)  There for a while, I was walking normally with no pain.  Now I’m cripping around again.  Sigh.  Used kitty litter is one problem I won’t be having to deal with now –a very tiny upside to a very big downside. . .

I’ve started reading the Temeraire series by Naomi Novik. It’s like a mashup of Horatio Hornblower and Jane Austen but with dragons(!).  I’m just about halfway into the first of the nine (soon to be 10) books in the series, and so far, I like it.  I thought I’d give it a try since I liked her novel Uprooted enough to keep my copy of it to reread.

For literally, like, 20 years I have had this clunky old desk lamp with a weighted base with the light part on an extension arm that I am continually having to futz with because, while the extension arm has knobs that can be tightened to hold it in position, the light part does not.  It will only hold the light part horizontal when the extension arm part is in certain positions.  In any other position, the light part will either slowly but surely lose its position, or suddenly decide it doesn’t want to do this any more and just give out, whack!  I finally got tired of fooling with it, saw another desk lamp I liked the look of and thought I’d order it –without checking the dimensions. . .  Yup.  Too short to fit over my computer screen, but it works on my reading table just fine, though.  It’s an LED lamp and the second of its three brightness level lights up my tablet without putting a lot of glare on the screen like my bedside light does. It has a goose-neck bendy part so it’s easy to position and stays put.  The lamp cord ends in a USB plug so you can run it off your PC or laptop — being LED, it doesn’t draw much juice at all — but it also comes with a USB to AC adapter that lets you plug it into a wall outlet.   Reminds me of the ray thing on the Martian saucers from the 1953 version of the movie “War of the Worlds”, though. (I look up at it, think, “I am under attack by Martians,” and giggle. . . )  I did some rearranging and finally found a way to get my old lamp base and extension arm positioned so that the lamp part is parallel to the line of my screens and so far (touch wood!), I have not had the lamp part suddenly flop down and bang into the top of the screen and startle the bejezus out of me. . .

Yes, I am self indulgent and like to read in bed (pourquoi pas?), so toward that end, I acquired one of these, and one of these to go with my this. As you might know, plug strips have holes in their undersides that allow them to be screw mounted to things.  I have a plug strip with a 12-foot cord mounted to the underside of the table to plug my tablet into so it doesn’t run out of juice right in the middle of the exciting part and make me stop and recharge it.   Yes, I have a Kindle Fire (have had for about 5 years, in fact),  but the Kingpad has a bigger screen and I can see a whole page at a time instead of a third of a page, which is all the Kindle Fire will show me, unless I make the type so small it defeats the purpose.   I have an internet radio app on the Kingpad on which I can tune into SomaFM’s Drone Zone, or listen to my Napster app and have music while I read, and I am happy as the proverbial clam.

I am currently in love with Prokofiev’s Cinderella Waltz.  It is the perfect fairy tale waltz, with an arcane and quirky melody with dark, minor-key magical undercurrents, occasionally bursting into major key exuberance, only to fall back into the minor key to keep reminding us that while Cinderella has made it to the ball and is dancing with the prince, this is not yet, and nowhere near, the triumphant, happily ever after bit.  I think I also love it because it is so very not-Disney.  (Right after the oddly abrupt end is when the clock begins to strike midnight.)

In the knitting news, I was going great guns on this toboggan with ribbed hem when I noticed I was not going to have enough yarn to finish it.  I couldn’t match the yarn, so it got completely frogged*.   I’ve started over using one of those Caron Cakes, (I don’t like the cakes any better than I like the pull skeins, which is not at all and, no, I’m not going to get a spike just so I can use them.)  Judging from the size of the ball (I had to get my big-ball bowl out), there should be plenty of yarn to finish a ribbed hem toboggan.   I’ll use the other yarn to make a hat that just has a simple ribbed brim.  That dark turquoise string dangling about is the length of cotton yarn I used for the provisional cast-on. I use the cotton yarn for my “scrap yarn” because it’s a sturdy yarn that I can reuse over and over, and it doesn’t leave behind any yarn fuzz when you pull it out.

Just a note:  Whenever I’m doing something circular like a hat, I never count my slip knot from the cast-on as a stitch. I start counting with the first cast on stitch.  To join and begin knitting in the round, I move the slip knot over to my left-hand needle and do a k2tog with it and the first cast-on stitch.  I especially like this method for hats as you don’t get that little “jog” between the cast on row and the first row of knitting.  This is also why I use a slip knot on my working yarn with the provisional cast-on instead of knotting it to the scrap yarn. — I use the scrap yarn method of provisional cast-on because I find it easier to work with when turning the hems on these toboggans than the crocheted method.

I’ll leave you with a couple of pieces of nerd candy I chanced across the other day.  For the trivia nerds, the woman in this video is the mother of a very famous princess.  Can you guess which one?. . .  The one below is for the science/math nerds.  I’m sure Neil DeGrasse Tyson, my personal astrophysicist,  has been tweeted this one so many times he’s sick of it . . . .

*rip-it! rip-it!

If My Words Were In My Hands And Not My Mouth

I.
If my words were in my hands and not my mouth,
If my sentences were framed by hand,
If agile fingers were my eloquence,
How would I whisper secrets in the shushing darkness?
How could you hear me on the moonless nights?

II.
If my words were in my hands and not my mouth,
And it was eyes that hung on every word,
Would flirtation be a tango for two hands?
Would anger
Jazz and swash like Martha Graham?
Would fingers knot and tangle in frustration?
Would praise unfold like flowers?
Would joy arise like a lark in the clear air?
Would being incommunicado involve rope and blindfolds?
Would girl talk
Swirl and flutter through the fingers like a restless flock of sparrows that
Without warning
Burst into a flight of giggles?
Could I talk to myself without a mirror?

III.
Oh,
If my words were in my hands and not my mouth,
. . . And I were not so palsied with self-consciousness . . .
I would let my hands dance out my heart.
But, oh,
I would have to say it to your face.
And, oh,
Whenever you are looking at me,
I am suddenly all awkwardness and elbows.
Your gaze tongue-ties my hands,
And my words come out all thumbs.
My shyness puts my speech in mittens
When what I want to do most
Is let my fingertips
Whisper soft “I love you’s” on your cheeks
Over and over.

 

I woke up in the middle of the night last night, decided to read for a while, was well into His Majesty's Dragon by Naomi Novik (which is shaping up to be a really good read, BTW), when I suddenly had a squirrel moment and my little magpie mind went ricocheting off of oooh-shiny into a mental tangent about sign language and people having to talk with their hands, and how that would play out in language and imagery. I was reading on my tablet, which has a WordPress app on it, so I stopped and wrote a small stone about it because they were interesting thoughts and I wanted to put them someplace where I could find them again.  Because you can't insert images on that jive (8),"medium-slow*" Android WordPress app, I had to go back today on my desktop PC and put the stone image in, and of course re-read it now that it was good and cold, and give it a tweak or two, and snatch a copy off it like a new toy and run outside and play with it on this blog. . . 


* half-fast

Bright the Hawk’s Flight on the Empty Sky

One of our brightest stars winked out last Monday.  Ms. LeGuin gave the above speech in 2014.  It was true then, it is even more true now.  She writes like she speaks, pithily and to the point, choosing her words wisely, and making every one count.

The made-up books she wrote were powerful and True.  (All the best made-up books are True.  That is what makes them the best.)  If you read her books and think about what she wrote and why she wrote it and how it relates to the human condition,  — and if you will let her — she will crowbar open the windows of your mind, throw ope the shutters, and let in the fresh air and sunlight.

From all I read and hear from those who knew her, Ursula LeGuin was a light-bringer, an illuminator.  It is a trait well worth emulating.  No matter whatever else you might be or do, also be a light-bringer. Bring light to all those whose lives you touch; share your light, pass it along, let others light their candle from yours and shine forth, adding their own light to the world.

When one candle gutters and goes out, it behooves us other candles to burn that much brighter and to share our light with still others, so that the light is not diminished, but increased.

Ursula K. Le Guin, 1929-2018

Only in silence the word,
Only in dark the light,
Only in dying life:
Bright the hawk’s flight on the empty sky.

– The Creation of Ea