Dude’s got some moves.
My computer side table and printer got to a point where they were all over balls of yarn inside plastic baggies ready for hat knitting and every time I wheeled the table aside to get into my filing cabinet, I had to be picking the yarn fall-out up off the floor. I finally went out and got one of my plastic moving bins and put the lion’s share of the yarn in it and slid it under the table. The fat(cat)boy reacted to this in typical feline fashion.
May 4th is, of course, Star Wars day (For the slow of uptake: May the 4th be with you.) I read this just now on Tor.com, which blog I read to aim my reading habit. So now I have to find one of the skeins of Caron Simply Soft Party yarns I have in the color Fuchsia Sparkle, and make a breast cancer chemo PussyHat for Carrie. I’ll have to regauge the PussyHat pattern for smaller yarn on a size 6, which is no problem, but my 32-inch US6 (4.0 mm) needle is in use. I’ve got to transfer what I’m making on them to my 16-inch US6 needle, because I’m not ready just this now to get into learning how to graft, which is what has to happen next on that project (!), and to finish that project once grafting is complete, I’ll need the US6 16-incher anyway. Of course, firstest, I’ve got to roll the skein of Fuchsia Sparkle into a ball because pull skeins are a Work of the Devil. (See above.) The polite term for that mess is “yarn barf.”
Never mind that I have the Ukrainian hat I need to learn grafting for so I can finish it, and two other hats that I need to finish (one of which needs to be mailed to its recipient sometime this century), this PussyHat for Carrie needs to be done on Star Wars day. Today.
And when the completed hat is donated to the local cancer center, it will have the following message tucked inside.
“The pattern for this hat was written in memory of Carrie Fisher. It glitters for Carrie, it’s pink for the fight against breast cancer, and it’s a pussy hat for the fight for women’s rights. It was made on Star Wars day (May 4, 2017). You always knew you were special. Now you have proof. This is your Empowered Princess crown, knitted just for you. Wear it with pride, and may the Force be with you.”
Regular readers will note that a number of my maternal relatives call Pearland, Texas, home, and that mom and I have been known to drive down to visit them. Apparently the Pearland Police Department is dove friendly. We’re big on motherhood here in the Lone Star State. . .
Regular readers may also recall that I have developed a case of termites in the sliding glass door in the back bedroom. The bug guys came out Friday and “spot treated” — this involved drilling holes at intervals along the house edge of the “patio” and pumping iinsecticide into the ground along the foundation. then filling in the holes. Hopefully, this will take care of the problem. What is to be done about the facing of the sliding glass door remains to be seen. It needs a carpenter’s attention, but attempts to repair it may open up a whole nother can of worms if the termites have been on a bigger rampage than it appears. I will seek advice on the subject from the landlady.
In the best of all possible worlds, she’d have that stupid door replaced with a set of French doors. But then, if wishes were horses, we’d be knee deep in it, wouldn’t we?
Part of my hate-hate relationship with that sliding door is the fact that, not only does it not lock, it doesn’t even latch. The only thing that prevents its being opened by any “perp” who wants to jump the back fence and do so, is a length of PVC pipe in the sliding door’s track on my side of the door. Ugh.
In the knitting news, regular readers may remember this little goodie I ran across, and was going to attempt to figure out a pattern for based on what I could tell from the photographs. I was in Google looking for something else earlier this evening, had a major DUH! moment and realized Google has an image search. I searched for the image at left and the good news is that I actually found a site that had a knitting pattern for it. The bad news is, the pattern was in Russian.
Well, Google has a translation feature too, which proceeded to translate the pattern text from Russian to Gibberish. But, fear not! Would you believe that the interwebs has pages of Russian to English translations of knitting terms? Yep. With that, and the hash I got from Google Translations, I was able to cobble together a halfway decent translation that an experienced knitter could make heads and tails out of well enough to do the deed. Near as I can tell, that’s worsted weight yarn on maybe a US7 (4.5 mm) or US8 (5.0 mm) needle. Apparently, the cable cross is worked on a wrong-side row. That’s interesting. Now all I need is to learn how to do a provisional cast on, and a three-needle bind-off, and I’m in business! What I’ve got is going up on my knitting blog.
I also found a video tutorial on YouTube showing how to make a similar hat with a braided cable which was, you guessed it, narrated in Russian. . .
Judging from the pictures of other stuff I saw on that website, and in the vicinity of the YouTube video, I have to say, they have some serious, hard core knitters in the former Soviet Union.
I did go to knitting group last night, and it was good. I finished the mosaic knitting hat (top left) and the “hand grenade” hat. I had six hats that needed the ends woven in, so that’s what I did. I also taught a girl to knit (I say “girl” — she’s 25, but they just seem to get younger every year . . . ). She’s already an accomplished crocheter so I taught her how to knit continental style as crocheters already know how to tension the yarn in their left hand. Hopefully, I’ve won a convert. I think I have.
I’d like to do a video tutorial on how to do the PussyHat without seams to show how you start it with the Turkish cast on using the Magic Loop technique. I think people shy away from it because it seems hard, but it really isn’t. Turkish cast on is so simple and so useful. I’ve got a little webcam and I’ve got a headphone with a mike on it. I think I can get some freeware that I can use to record video on my computer through my webcam. The sticker is how to position the webcam so it shoots over my shoulder.
I went grocery shopping after knitting group to get groceries for the month. By the time I wandered all over Walmart, put the groceries in the car, then got them all in the house and put away, I was just knackered. I was a naughty girl and stopped by Whataburger on the way home and got a chicken strips meal (3 chicken strips, French fries, white gravy to dunk and a piece of “Texas toast,” which is an inch-thick slice of bread painted on both sides with melted butter and toasted on both sides on the grill) and a medium vanilla shake for dessert. The “meal” comes with a medium drink, so I had that Coke in addition to the large Coke I got before I went to knitting group, which I was still working on. Knitting group lets out at 8:30 and it was after 11 p.m. when I sat down to eat my supper. Not long after I finished eating, I fell asleep in the recliner at my computer and it was after 3:30 a.m. when I woke up. Just as well. By then, my dinner had “gone down” and I could go to bed without worrying about having a reflux episode. Realized just now that my dessert, the vanilla soft-serve shake, which I put in the freezer when I got it home last night, is still in the freezer and, as I type, it’s sneaking up on lunch time. . . .
Naturally, Walmart didn’t have any almond milk coffee creamer (I just went with the regular vanilla almond milk, which you have to buy by the half gallon, so I got some Kashi Autumn Wheat cereal, too, as almond milk has expiration dates. . . You can drink chai latte cold as well as hot — equally delicious!), but they did have the Stoned Wheat Crackers, which I dearly love. (I got four boxes — one thing you learn when you shop at Walmart: When they have something, you get as much of it as is practical, because they probably won’t have any the next time you shop. They’re pretty ‘hit or miss’ that way.) They didn’t have any Tostitos blue corn chips either. However, they did have Tostitos black bean chips, which I didn’t even know Tostitos made, and I got some of them to try. I’ve liked black bean chips in the past. (They’re gluten-free, BTW.)
OK. Chai Latte. If you want to be a purist, you have to brew the tea with hot buffalo milk (as in Asian water buffalo, not American bison) instead of water. The American version is less exotic, but while you’re brewing the tea, you have to cook the milk, add these ingredients, do the Hokey-Pokey. . . . Forget it. I just take a regular “chai” tea — the kind that says “Chai tea” on the box — brew it with hot water and add either Creme Brulée coffee creamer or vanilla flavored almond milk. (Health-wise and calorie wise, the almond milk is better.) In the winter I make it in my 1.5 liter, glass-lined thermos carafe, which will keep it hot for hours. However, I also brew five bags’ worth of the tea in my big heavy glass pitcher, let it cool to room temperature, then add the almond milk and put it in the refrigerator. Very refreshing on a hot Texas summer afternoon, and summer commeth, ya’ll. I’m thinking really seriously about getting one of these for sitting out on the “patio” in the back yard, and I’ve got a big thermos cup which keeps stuff cold as well as hot. That would be just the setup I need for a little plein air knitting. Yes, ma’m.
I got this sangria pitcher from the Williams Sonoma catalog yonks ago. It was made in Italy from recycled glass and it weighs a ton, but it’s just perfect for brewing ice tea. You have to heat the pitcher first by filling it with straight hot water from the tap and letting it sit while you put the kettle on to boil, and put a big metal spoon down in to pour the hot water on, because it’s not tempered glass. It has this plastic thing that you fill with ice and put down in it when you make sangria so the ice melting doesn’t water the sangria down. I’ve only made sangria in it once. I bought it for tea. So long as you observe the precautions, it works very well. I think I’ll make a pitcher of chai latte later.
I have to say, Williams Sonoma and Pottery Barn are really missing the boat. They could really yupmarket* the iced tea thing. Special teas, special pitchers with inserts for ice that doesn’t dilute the tea, special infusers, monogrammed glass and pitcher sets, monogrammed sets of ice tea spoons, electric ice tea brewers that heat the water to the exactly correct brewing temperature . . . the whole schmear. As anyone can tell you, you can’t make the realio trulio genuine article unless you have all the special gear to perform it . . .
All chortling up the cuffs aside, though, I must confess I am a bit of a purist when it comes to iced tea. You have to start with real tea, either bags or loose, and brew the tea with hot water. Those powdered “instant” teas are for the birds. (Not only ‘no,’ but ‘hell, no.’) You also have to use a glass pitcher. I don’t care what anybody says. Making iced tea in an acrylic or plastic pitcher makes it taste funny, especially after it’s sat in the refrigerator for any length of time — like an hour or more. No. Glass is impervious even to sulfuric acid, does not affect the flavor of anything it contains, and can be cleaned thoroughly with hot water and soap. I’ve drunk iced tea out of aluminum tumblers like used to be popular in the 1950s, and it’s OK, but I prefer glass glasses.
In the knitting news, I now have the dubious distinction of having explained how to do a cable cross in knitting over the phone (a neat trick if you can do it). The conventional abbreviation for a cable cross begins with C for ‘cable’, followed by the number of stitches over which the cable will be worked, and then either the letter F for ‘front’ or B for ‘back’ which tells which way the cable cross is to go. The abbreviation my friend A called to ask about was “C6F” from my wedding yarmulke pattern. The cable is worked across six stitches. The first three stitches are slipped off onto a cable needle, held in front of the work (‘F’), the next three stitches are knitted, then the three stitches on the cable needle are knitted. In the case of a twisted cable, which the cables on the wedding yarmulke are, “C6F” gives cables that are twisted toward the left (hat below left). “C6B” would give cables twisted toward the right (hat below right). *yupmarket — upmarketing that targets yuppies
I have long been a huge fan of the artwork of Rima Staines, a UK artist based out of Devon. She’s a friend of Terri Windling and her artwork is unique. It has an ancient, folk culture feel to it that I love. It is delightfully quirky, whimsical and idiosyncratic. She and her partner Tom Hirons, and their little son have converted a flatbed truck into a house on wheels cum stage and it is their goal to provide traveling theater, storytelling, music, and all those other important “folk” things that the modern world is swallowing up too fast, and that we are in danger of losing irretrievably. Rima has teamed up with writer Sylvia Linsteadt to provide the illustrations for Sylvia’s book Tatterdemalion. I have seen copies of the book and it is a beautifully bound, high-quality hardback book with full color illustrations. Below is a little video Rima and Sylvia made to tell you about it. (That’s Rima you hear singing on the video.) My very own copy was obtained today and hopefully will be in my little hot hands before too long.
A short dream. A dark dream. About three of my angel kitties, my little grey girl, the grey striped boy, and poor old Pu, the white one. I was in some sort of dark store room and my sweet grey striped boy was there, stropping himself against my legs. There was a big old claw-foot bath tub in the storeroom, and lots of flattened cardboard boxes in it and around it. My grey girl was in the tub and I lifted her out, and then I saw poor Pu, ragged and matted and bloody, and awful looking as he never was in life, but as alive in that dream as the other two although clearly hurting, and the sight of him was so heart piercing, so awful that I started awake and had to turn on the light.
Pu was my wing man, my shadow, my fierce white boy. My little grey girl was dying when I let her go. Her kidneys were failing and setting her free was a kindness, but Pu was only old, and not as old as that, really, and I could have kept him maybe years longer. Seeing him as he had been in my dream was disturbing enough, but all the more disturbing for the guilt of that knowledge. Of the three of them, my little grey girl with her failing kidneys, my poor grey stripey boy ravaged by diabetes, and him, he’s the one who’s death still haunts me.
It’s been two days now, and that dream image will not go away, and that’s the frightening bit. It had a terrible power, that dream, and I have a history of dreams that disturb and linger and resonate like that one has, that are my body’s way of telling me things about itself that I need to know. I’ve sought out doctors because of such dreams, watched them shake their heads in that dismissive way men do when a woman says, I had this dream I can’t get out of my head, and I think it is a warning. I cajole them into humoring me and taking the x-ray or doing the test, only to see that strange look on their faces when the test tells them it was a good thing I paid attention to that dream, that because of that dream, bad things were caught early and nipped in the bud.
And I know things I haven’t spoken of here that make this latest dream truly frightening. I know exactly what it’s telling me. The doctor’s appointment was made weeks ago, but it’s for Thursday, and it’s with a real doctor, not one at the VA. If I hadn’t already made the appointment, I’d be making it now.
I finally decided that I wasn’t going to get around to finishing that last lap robe, and it’s already so hot out that I don’t even want to visualize the concept, never mind make one. Wednesday, in a mighty burst of energy, I did four washer loads (wash, dry, fold up, put away – except for the microfleece blanket that is still in the dryer needing to be folded up, and the stuff that’s on hangers, which is still hanging on the clothes rack in the laundry room.). Then I ran my comforter through the “air” cycle on the dryer, got out my clothes drying rack and put my comforter over it and Fabreezed it within an inch of its life, and left it to air in the only clear space at that end of the duplex, which is right in front of the front door. I bench pressed my sewing machine back up on the closet shelf, folded the table up and put it under the bed. Now I’m exhausted and have a big spoon deficit besides, figuratively as well as literally. (All my actual spoons are in the dishwasher — since my silverware drawer contains two complete place settings for 8, I apparently consumed a lot of stuff that had to be eaten with spoons this week.)
My mom keeps getting on my case about drinking so much sweet tea, but here’s the thing: 1 teaspoon of sugar has 16 calories. My little scoop holds four teaspoons. The tea pitcher I use holds a gallon. When I make tea, I use 5 teabags and 3 scoops of sugar for a whole pitcher of tea. That works out to 192 calories per gallon of tea. and it takes me a day or two to drink the whole pitcher (and it’s usually half watered down by ice when I do — That’s another thing she’s on my case about, me not drinking enough water . . .). One of those little bottles of white peach juice that’s supposed to be so good and healthy for you (and which contains high fructose corn syrup, I might point out) has 160 calories in 10 ounces! I can belt one of those babies back in 30 seconds. So, compare 15 calories in 10 ounces of my sweet tea to the 160 calories in 10 ounces of the peach juice. So, a 16 oz glass that’s half full of tea, with 8 ice cubes in it (and the ice cube trays I use, 8 ice cubes = 1 cup of water by the way), and no, I’m not drinking too much sweet tea.
I think part of it was that my dad’s tea was never sweet enough for him unless about half an inch of sugar had settled out of it into the bottom of the glass — I do not exaggerate — and every time I say “sweet tea” that’s what she thinks of. She puts saccharin in her tea, which is made from coal tar, BTW, commonly manufactured by combining anthranilic acid (used among other things as a corrosive agent for metal) with nitrous acid, sulfur dioxide, chlorine, and ammonia, and that’s so much healthier for you. (Yes, that’s right. Chlorine and ammonia.)
Anyway, the mystery of the knocked over sidewalk light was finally solved. I’d look out and see it was knocked over, go out and put it back on the little peg, look out a while later, and it was knocked over again. This went on for days. It may have either gotten accidentally kicked, or the yard guys may have hit it with the strimmer while edging the sidewalk, but the end of the stake got a crack up one side. Duct taped that sucker. Sorted. One of these days when I have the energy, I need to redo the edging bricks. And weed. But there’s no point in weeding until I get some bedding plants. I want hardy perennials that do well in partial shade because that bed only gets sun during the first half of the day.
Inexplicably, I have two volunteer rose bushes. A tenant a couple of tenants ago loved roses and had a rose garden in that bed, and these are probably growing out of the root stock of tea roses he had planted whose grafts died. They are probably this one really hardy species of red climbing roses (“Dr. Huey”) as that is what is very commonly used as a root stock for tea rose grafts. Anyway, there’s this little one (above) and the big one closer to the porch, with the hose/pipe for scale. Neither has bloomed yet so I don’t know for sure they’re red climbers. Maybe I’ll luck out and they’ll be pink climbers, or white ones. Who knows. I might get some cinderblock pavers this time if I see what I want at a good price, to put by the faucets so I’ll have a place to stand to turn the water on and off. I probably better start watering. I need to buy a couple weed and feed things this time. If I can get the Bermuda grass going, it will strangle out most of the weeds. If I thought I was going to live in this duplex for more than a couple of years, I’d be more pro-yard than I am. Also if I had more spoons . . .
In the knitting news, I’ve tackled mosaic knitting, which is a form of two-color knitting that uses slipped stitches. This is a hat with a rolled brim that I’m working on. The base yarn is variegated and the contrast colors are white and black. I think it’s turning out nicely. This is not the same kind of color work as Fair Isle, which is a bit different, and not actually what I’m into. If I want to follow diagrams, I’ll do needlepoint, thank you.
I found this and I want to use it in a “Dance Like an Egyptian” hat. I’m kind of into pillbox hats now, thinking about how to do one. I might do one with three rows of these on the brim done in two color work. I have some ideas, but I have to finish the above hat first, and maybe do another hat I’ve been thinking about. Don’t know.
Found this the other day, and just about went orgasmic over it. I believe I can get enough detail out of it to work out how it’s done. Just too cool for words.
My next thing is going to be learning how to do two-color work while holding both colors in my left hand at the same time. Goalz. I haz dem.
The next item on the agenda, however, is lunch. I think I hear some chicken noodle soup calling my name, and maybe some toast and peanut butter . . . . .
We’re having yoyo weather, as you can see, except what’s showing as “today” below is actually yesterday.
First, the good: The Iris is blooming. I shot the picture on the right over the fence right behind it and, yes, it is an escapee from my neighbor’s bed — and welcome.
Another good is this: It’s called wood sorrel (Oxalis dillenii*) and it’s all over my lawn and blooming. Very pretty dainty little yellow flowers. The examples of this I found on line show a taller plant — probably because it’s not getting mowed every month. Also, the leaves are folded down. Ordinarily they look a lot like clover. I suspect that, as its name implies, it grows in woods and doesn’t get as much sun as it does out in the middle of my yard, and the folding of the leaves may be a response to that. It may also mean it could use some water.
Also to the good, I am acquiring a third rose bush and maybe a fourth. The third one is a single cane which is a good three feet high now. No blooms, but plenty of leaves. Go figure.
The bad is that my friend from knitting group, LB, who has gone two rounds with breast cancer already including a double mastectomy, has had cancer cells turn up in her bones. She had lesions on two ribs, where a biopsy was taken on 12 April, and yesterday she had a chemotherapy port placed. She had her first round of chemotherapy today. (She’s also supposed to have cataract surgery on 26 April and that’s still on schedule.) Unfortunately, her doctor has mentioned the dreaded words “quality of life” which are truly frightening. We both share a love of reading as well as knitting, and I’ve turned her on to both the Foreigner series and the Sebastian St. Cyr books. Not to put too fine a point on that bad, her husband turned up with follicular lymphoma and has undergone radiation treatment for that.
And now for the ugly. Saturday night when I went in to go to bed, I found little insect wings all over my nightstand — no actual insects, just about a hundred wings. I did find one dead bug with wings still attached, and yes, the internet confirmed, it was a termite. Then Monday when I went to take the garbage out, I found this:
It’s on the door jam of the sliding glass door. I phoned the landlady and told her what I’d discovered. She received the news with remarkable sangfoid, and told me who to call. The guy came out later in the day and confirmed the obvious. They are now in discussion as to just what is going to happen next. Tis the season for their swarms and since it was rainy last week, there may be a backlog of people needing “intervention” before they can get to me. At left is either how they got in, or how they were already in and got out.
In a way, I hope that they were already in the wall by the door and that the edge of the door is all eaten up and they have to replace that sliding glass door, which I hate. Took me a little bit to get over sleeping in a room with an outside door which not only doesn’t lock, it doesn’t even latch. I’ve got a piece of PVC pipe cut to length and put in the door track to prevent it from opening, and I did put a padlock on my back gate for all the good that does. Knowing the pipe is there helps. Kinda. Now I have termites. Ugh.
Well, here’s something nice to take my mind off it.
My lawn is greening up. Some of the green is actually grass. I’m debating about getting two thingies of “weed and feed” – a combination herbicide and fertilizer that comes in a device you attach to the hose(pipe). The device mixes the stuff with water and then you spray it on your lawn. The back yard needs it more than the front. That poor back yard needs all the help it can get.
Guess which is the greenest thing back there. Yep. That ^&*($%!@#@!%* honey locust tree. It’s leafing out just beautifully. I see a couple of low branches that need pruning, however. If somebody who’s 64 inches (1.62 m) tall has to duck under them to get to the gate, then they are way too low. Taking the garbage out is enough of a chore already without having to thrash through the jungle to get to the back gate.
It was raining earlier (Yay!)– and making a big production out of it, full of sound and fury, signifying very little water actually falling from the sky, alas. Still there was enough to wet things down. Hopefully, the rain will wash some of the pollen out of the air. Between the grass pollen and the tree pollen, this weekend is going to be a bitch, allergy wise, if you’ll pardon my Anglo-Saxon. The grass pollen makes me sneeze and stuffs me up, but the tree pollen just zombifies me. The tree pollen has been very high for days now and I ended up not going to knitting group yesterday because I’d already glunked out* twice in the chair while I was trying to read, and then at about 5 p.m., I just hit a proverbial wall. I was able to muster barely enough brain wattage to shuffle into the bedroom and crawl into bed. Schmpft.
What many people don’t know is that chronic fatigue can be a symptom of allergies. I don’t need allergy alerts from the Weather Channel to tell me when there’s tree pollen in the air. Zombification sets in unperpetrated by the usual suspects, and when I can manage to get three brain cells to work at the same time, I know we are having tree pollen.
There is a volunteer bearded iris (left) in the back yard which is gearing up to bloom. Ill be interested to find out what flavor it is. A pair of what looked to be college boys did the yard this time. Thankfully, they didn’t get happy with the weed wacker (strimmer) and give the poor thing a shave.
I’m not sure what that is growing behind it. I need to peer over the fence and see if this is something else my neighbor is growing that’s also sneaking under the fence into my yard, or whether it’s an interloper.
In the top picture, you can see one of the piles of fireplace wood that’s too durn old and weathered to burn even if I didn’t have the fireplace glassed off. And anyway if I did burn it, then I’d have a great whacking pile of ashes I’d have to clear out of the fireplace and schlep out to the Dumpster . . . and dust from it all over everywhere . . . . I need to get out my little red Radio Flyer wagon and haul all that wood out to the alley. Maybe I could plant a bush there. Something that blooms and attracts butterflies. . . .
The roses in the front bed (above and at right) are going nuts. Both are bursting with leaves and blooms. I’ve started saving tea bags as they say “prebrewed” tea is good for roses. Hope it helps the black spot, which both bushes have. Coal dust is supposed to be good for black spot as well, but it’s kind of hard to come by in this part of the world this century. Part of the problem is that the roses don’t get enough sun. They are planted against an east-facing wall and only get half a day of sunshine. The pink one is further out in the yard and gets a bit more sun. Both of them need to be cut back and staked this winter. I would have done it last winter, but I had a plateful already.
That bed needs plants that need morning sun and partial shade. They should be perennials that are tough, hardy, drought and heat tolerant and can stand up to Bermuda grass. It needs at least three different kinds of plants that grow to three different heights — low, medium and tall. I need to call that Hispanic couple that weeded the bed before and see if they’ll do it again. Then after stuff is planted, the bed needs to be rather thickly mulched to keep down the weeds and grass.
I still need to paint the lamposts. I also want to get some of those red reflectors and some stakes for them and put them along the eastern edge of the driveway. I still have a hard time hitting the house from the west.
In the knitting news, I got another Coriolis hat finished and now I’m working on a “hand grenade hat” in a Red Heart yarn called “Gumdrop – Smoothie” The yarn has a nice soft hand and is 100% acrylic, which makes it good for chemo hats. It’s a cheerful, colorful yarn, I think. I’m going to do this pattern in the two other Gumdrop colors I have, Grape and Cherry. Something for everyone.
Spring? Jump? Close enough for government work. A blast from the past, anyway. . .