It Fooled Around and Got Cold On Us

Tonight, my heater came on for the first time I was aware of  since I switched my thermostat over from AC to heat last week before we went to Pearland.  That’s because it got down to 32 F (0 C) last night, and its only 36F (2.22 C) right now.

I really need to be working on my reader’s shrug for reading in bed (my arms get cold), so naturally, I’ve started writing a shawl pattern —  it’s a modification of  a scarf pattern (see scarf at left)for a scarf which has an edging of Hilton lace.  The body of the scarf was done in seed stitch and had no border on the neck edge.  It had an increase/decrease of 1 stitch every 4 rows and is not very wide.   I like the look of it, and thought I would like it even better if it was a shawl.  So, I took the Hilton lace part, and combined it with what I call a “cobblestone stitch*” (because I haven’t been able to find out what it’s actually called) for the body, with a 3-stitch garter stitch inner edging and a 1 stitch increase every other row to make the body shawl-width instead of scarf-width.

It’s been a booger to sort out — the lace has a 16-row repeat, and since it’s knitted flat, the piece has right side and wrong side rows, which I had to figure out for the scarf body, and whether that bit goes at the beginning (right side) or end (wrong side) of the row.

I’ve had to write one “beginning increase” pattern repeat you just do once, because the body of the shawl starts from 1 stitch,  and then an increase pattern repeat that you repeat x number of times.  When you get to the halfway point, you start a decreasing pattern repeat, the last iteration of which had to be written separately as it takes the shawl body decrease back down to 1 stitch, after which you bind off.  However many times I’ll repeat the decrease pattern repeat depends on how many times I repeat the increase pattern repeat.  Since I’m knitting as I write, to test the pattern for accuracy, I won’t know until I’ve worked the increase pattern repeat the appropriate number of times.  Once I’ve actually knit one, I’ll be able to publish the pattern.

I’m doing it in knitting worsted weight (Medium:4) yarn on a ChiaoGoo Red Lace size US 10 (5.00) 32-inch circular needle, which ought to be wide enough.  The ChiaoGoo Red Lace needles have a nice long taper on the tip that makes them ideal for lace knitting.  I like the ChiaoGoo Red Lace needles so much I use them all the time.  I’m starting to get quite a collection of them.  I especially like the way they do the connecting cord between the needles.  Those needles that use nylon or plastic to connect the needles are like trying to knit with a spring.  They keep wanting to coil back up.  The ChiaoGoo’s are very flexible and have no “memory” — I store mine coiled up in the package they come in, and when I take them out, they uncoil and are very flaccid and flexible, with no “coiling tendencies” whatever.

Lately, I’ve been reading Lois McMaster Bujold’s Penric and Desdemona novellas (there’s 6 of them so far), which I am enjoying.  I have two left.  They are set in the same (fantasy) “world of the 5 gods” as her Chalion books (The Curse of Chalion, Paladin of Souls,  and The Hallowed Hunt) and occur chronologically between the time period of The Hallowed Hunt, which is “historically” earlier than the Penric novellas, and the time period of the other two Chalion books, which are “historically” later.  So, if you want to read them in chronological order, read The Hallowed Hunt first, then the 6 Penric novellas, then The Curse of Chalion and Paladin of Souls.  They can each be read as a stand-alone, but they do fall into groups based on plot (Curse and Paladin) and main characters (Penric and Desdemona) .   The Hallowed Hunt is the outlier, as the only thing it shares with the rest of them is the world.

I was reading Bujold’s Vorkosigan books, which are space opera, but I got really tired of Miles Vorkosigan and his story arc.  What got me into the series was the Aral and Cordelia story arc, (which is Shards of Honor and Barrayar). but I bailed out about three books into Miles’ shenanigans. I found the Aral and Cordelia characters compelling and appealing, but I couldn’t get with Miles.  I completely enjoyed Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen, which is more of Cordelia’s arc, and I wish she’d write more about the menage Bujold touches briefly on in that.   (Bujold’s “Schrödinger’s cat carrier” where she keeps ideas she can’t decide whether to use or not is not only brilliant, but it cracks me up so much!)

I’ve also got the latest Steve Brust Vlad Taltos novel in the To Be Read pile, although I may have to read up onto it by rereading some of the previous books in the series to refresh my memory.  I’ve also got two Dorothy Gilman novels, the two about Madam Karitska  (The Clairvoyant Countess and Kaleidoscope) on the pile as well as some other books, so I’m all set for some good reading weather.

 

* Row 1: knit, Row 2, k1, p1, repeat rows 1-2 ad lib.
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Of Cotton Gins and Litrachure

It hasn’t rained in over two weeks; the fields and, more importantly, the cotton have thoroughly dried out again, which is why my eyes are tired, blurry and burning slightly, and I have an intermittent, maddening and hacking cough.  The big green John Deere’s and Cases are out in the fields again industriously stripping cotton, and throwing all that Roundup and Quick Pick laced dirt and plant particles up into the air.   I’m staying as indoors and out of it as I can, but it’s hard to escape with our practically constant wind.  Since we have cotton fields 360° around us, we get it no matter which way the wind blows.  And they’ve started ginning it, too, which puts cotton fibers and more chemical-laced gin trash in the air.

This morning, I tried reading the short stories of Truman Capote (he of Breakfast at Tiffany’s fame). He’s supposed to be such a good wordsmith, and I suppose he is, but I find his subject matter dog-eared, slightly sordid, Tennesee Williams-ish for all the wrong reasons, and generally pretty depressing, all of which gets in the way of my appreciating his wordsmithery.  So much for litrachure.

My mom got her new TV, a 50-inch flat screen, delivered, set up and hooked up in her bedroom.  It replaces a 19-inch TV she’s had for 20+ years, which was so small, you practically had to have binoculars to see it from the bed.  Now when she falls asleep watching TV, she won’t have to get up and go to bed.  She’ll already be in bed.  Very time and labor saving.

Daylight Savings Time ended last night, and consequently, I had to go around and reset every cotton-picking clock* in the house back an hour.  I do wish the powers that be (such as they are) would make up their (alleged) minds once and for all about whether we get to keep that one stupid hour or not.  I wasted at least half of it fiddling with the durn clocks!

*except the "atomic clock" my dad gave me years and years ago.  All you have to do is push the magic button, and the clock telepathically gets the correct time from the Atomic Clock in Boulder.  Talk about a gift that keeps on giving.  Money very well spent there. (and my plonging clock that sits on the mantle.  I don't like fiddling with the mechanism any).

Great Joy in Mudville and Simple Pleasures on the Flatlands

I knew the World Series had gone to game 7 tied 3 and 3, and that they played Wednesday night.  Because a Texas team is involved (the Houston Astros), and because my cousins are big sports fans, I confess to feeling some curiosity as to who won, so I googled.  The Astros won 4 games to 3, so great joy indeed.  There’s a good little bit of irony in my allusion to Mudville.  Between all the rain and flooding from Hurricane Harvey, that’s pretty much what Houston ended up being.  I’m glad the Astros were able to pull it out of the hat for them. This has been quite a roller coaster year for the town of my birth.

In the knitting news, I finished a hat last night, a kind of kicked cancer’s *ss, celebratory, happy hat, or a raspberry, giving cancer the finger hat, depending on how you want to look at it — since it will be donated to the cancer center.    I’m calling it the Pink Power hat.  It’s all over multicolored stars.  In the uphill slog that is chemotherapy, sometimes you need some over the top, goofy silliness.

I added a variation without the beads.  I also have some faceted clear beads and I might do one in some dark blue or burgundy metallic yarn I have.  It takes 81 beads, but the pattern is fairly straightforward.  It has a “k1, yo” bit where you drop the yo on the next row to provide enough length for the knit stitch to be pulled through the bead with a crochet hook and then slipped onto the right needle and knitted on the next row.

I took about 25 hats to the cancer center last week.  That ought to hold them for a while.  I’ve got some other hats on the needles, but I think I’ll change the pace and do some other projects for a while, my reader’s shrugs, for one.   My Malguri Morning shawl, for another. (The two that went to Washington state were warmly (!) received, and were just in the nick of time.  Winter is setting in up in the Pacific NW. )

I’ve been drinking Stash Tea’s Spiced Chai hot with a liberal blop of Caramel Macchiato Coffemate in it (Walmart did me dirty and was out of Crème Brulée flavor). Their spiced chai is also good cold with a splash of fruit juice in it.  I usually use either apple juice or Welch’s White Peach (which is a combo of white grape juice and peach juice), but “fruit juice of choice” is always a winner.

I’m also in the process of polishing off some sliced ham, bacon, and Havarti cheese slices on crackers (Walmart did me dirty again and was out of Muenster cheese, but they did have Havarti cheese.  It’s not Muenster, but it’s not bad. . .).

Because I rent, and because I feel sure the landlady would object to my putting a cat flap in my bedroom door, I’ve rigged a heavy velvet drape over the door to block out the light, yet allow the fat(cat)boy to come and go as he pleases.  I have a chock of wood that holds the door open just enough, and a door stop on the other side to keep him from pushing the door way open.  I had been holding the drape out of the way when not needed by using a long wire twist tie which, as you can see, has finally succumbed to metal fatigue.  But then I remembered I still had some of those coconut shell buttons I was using for neck warmers and I-cord is not that hard to knit. . .  I knitted a 5-stitch I-cord that was a bit more substantial to match my button, which is gigunga.  I attached one end to the button, made a loop on the other end — not the most elegant bit of work I’ve ever done, but close enough for government work.  I had screwed a cup-hook into the wall to attach my twist tie to, and it worked equally well for my I-cord tie.  Since the bedroom door is in a fairly narrow hallway, I have the curtain hung on one of those spring-loaded curtain rods.

This would also be a good solution for a drafty door in wintertime.  The velvet curtain is fairly heavy, and the spring-loaded curtain rod doesn’t mar the wall.  Weatherstripping being as cheap as it is, though, if you were the house owner (versus a renter), I could see putting foam weatherstripping around inside doors as well as outside doors to stop air leaks and cold drafts.  I might also point out, weatherstripping, if done right, also blocks light if you, like me, need your bedroom pitch dark to get good sleep, or work shift work and have to sleep during the day.

 

We Snuck Off For A Long Weekend

Friday morning, I got up at ye gods o’clock, bundled the fat(cat)boy off to the pet hotel and mom and I hit the road to Pearland again.   The Pearland Hyster Historical Society has their annual luncheon in October and mom wanted to attend, so off we whooshed.  It’s about 550 miles from up here in the flatlands to down there near the Gulf.  You will recall they had a hurricane there not so long ago and had a gawdawful amount of flooding in the Greater Houston Metropolitan area.  They’ve got most of it cleaned up now, although the recovery is still ongoing.

I didn’t realize until we were on the road that I forgot to pack my camera, so all but about three pictures here were taken with my phone.  My mom took the other ones.

We got there with only one small hitch — construction on Interstate 20 had the exit to State Highway 36 blocked off and we had to take the scenic route (FM 603) through Eula to get to it from the interstate.  We encountered a lot of road construction this trip, but we still made good time — We left at 7:45 a.m. and got to my cousin EJ’s house at 5:15 p.m.  We made our usual pitstop at our favorite gas station in Comanche, which is just about halfway.  My 2015 Corolla averages 30-31 mpg and I can make the drive easily on a tank and a half of gas.

My mom called my cousin EJ when we were about 5 minutes out to let her know we were nearly there, and we were told, “Never mind the sweet potato vine, park as close to the railing as you can.”  The vine grows in a pot on their back porch, and was just about to die off for winter anyway.

 

 

 

EJ is the daughter of my mom’s older sister VY, who was famous for her chocolate meringue pies, and she passed the secret on to her daughter.  My mom had this beauty waiting for her when we arrived.

Of course, the whole state is all in an uproar because the Houston Astros are playing in the baseball World Series, so we had to watch them play. Somehow in the years since my dad passed, my mom has turned into a rabid sports fan, and she and my cousin EJ had to watch the games they played in Houston.  (After watching my cousins little 48-inch flat screen TV, my mom has since decided she needs to get her one for her bedroom to replace the miniscule 19-inch TV she’s had for probably 20 years.  We’re going to go get her one tomorrow. — if she’s going to fall asleep watching sports games, better to fall asleep in her bed than in her recliner in the den.)

Saturday, we went to the cemetery to visit the graves of my uncles and grandmother. I had not seen my uncle HJ’s or QJ’s graves.  Here is my mom by her mother’s gravestone.   Her father died when she was very young and he is buried somewhere else.  My grandmother’s second husband’s name is on the headstone, but he did not adopt her children, who all kept her first husband’s name.  He was originally supposed to be buried beside her, but his relatives had him buried in their family plot near his birthplace.  It’s very confusing.  Unless you know the story, you would never connect my grandmother to those of her children who are buried next to her as they have a different last name.

After we left the cemetery, we drove down Yost Boulevard.  (The boulevard was named for EJ’s father’s people.)  Some of her cousins from that side of the family have bought my late uncle HJ’s house on Yost Boulevard and the property next door that was where my grandmother’s little house (below) was and where my mom was born has finally been sold to someone who has cleaned it up and is actually building on it now, which is great.Then

 

 

 

 

Now.

Then we went to the Historical Society luncheon.  Naturally, we had barbecue and all the fixin’s.  They had potato salad and beans for sides.  It was good. My mom is a year older than the mayor of Pearland (at left), and he always gets a kick out of seeing her.

My mom, at 93, is the oldest living graduate of Pearland High School (below).  The class of 1941 only had 14 students, and she is the only one still alive.

After the luncheon we went back to my cousin’s house.  Various family members gathered at her house to talk over old times.

The two ladies in the middle are my mother’s sister EW’s girls, MW and WM.  It was WM’s cows that I was worried about when the Brazos River flooded (cresting at 59 feet) during Hurricane Harvey.  She did lose a few of her cows, but she also lost two of her four “guard donkeys” that she keeps with her breeding heifers.  (The donkeys are very aggressive and will chase off any coyotes or dogs that try to attack the newborn calves.)  She was really lucky she lost no more animals than she did.  The dark haired lady on the right end is my cousin EJ’s daughter R. The bearded fellow on the left end is my cousin PJ.

DSCF2672

Sunday, my cousin EJ (2nd from right above) took us to eat at Red Lobster for lunch and then we headed for Galveston to see her son, his wife and their daughter.  This is the little girl I made all the baby clothes for.

Needless to say, she’s not a baby any longer.  She’s two years old now and a ring-tailed doozie.

Here’s her with her moma and daddy at left.

She’s my cousin EJ’s only grandchild.  Here she is with one of her (several) caches of toys.  With two sets of grandparents to spoil her, this child has made out like a bandit!

They live in this house that was built in the 1920’s on the highest part of Galveston Island, so if their house starts shipping water, the whole island is in trouble!  It has rained so much this year that the oak floors in the living room have buckled in two places from the moisture. (They’ve had 52.51 inches of rain so far this year.)

Here she is beside Mickey Mouse who, we are reliably (and frequently) informed, is jumping out of the pumpkin.  You will notice Meemaw (my cousin EJ) helping her hold one of the (real) pumpkins that was on the porch. (Peepaw sat this round out and stayed home.)  She’s quite an active little girl  — even without Halloween candy on board!

The port of Galveston is where my great great grandfather and most of the European immigrants to Texas landed.

It’s still quite an active port, with not only container ships and oil tankers coming and going, but also cruise ships.  If you recall, there were several cruise ships stuck out in the Gulf during Hurricane Harvey because they were unable to make landfall at Galveston.

 

 

 

There were two cruise ships in port when we were there.

Here’s why gas prices have been higher.  There are several large refineries in this area which were put out of commission for a while by Hurricane Harvey.  I think all of them are back in operation by now, though gas prices are still high.

 

Sunday evening, my dad’s niece EG and her husband PG came by EJ’s house to visit.  My cousin EG had both her hip joints replaced last month, within two weeks of each other.  If you are otherwise in good health with no chronic illnesses, they now send you to “prehab” to learn all the exercises and to get your muscles in shape.  Then, when they do the surgery, they spread the muscles apart to reach the hip joints, rather than cut the muscle attachments.  This makes the surgery much easier on the patient, and they can get you on your feet much sooner.  On the day of surgery, if you can get up and walk, and climb a short flight of stairs, they send you home!  She’s been doing very well and walks with only a little stiffness at only three weeks out from her second surgery.

Bright and early on Monday morning, when I got into the car for the drive home, I saw my odometer read 10,001. When I pulled into my garage, it read 10, 573.

We set a new record on the way home.  This is the second trip I missed the turn off for Interstate 610*, we took the scenic route through Temple because I missed a turnoff,** I missed the turnoff for the detour we took in Abilene (because we knew a key exit was closed due to construction) to get from Highway 36 to Interstate 20, and once I did finally make it onto the Interstate, I missed the exit for highway 84 West to Snyder!***

As a result of our various “scenic detours,” we didn’t get in until 6:20 p.m. on Monday evening. (We were under a bit of a time constraint, as if I didn’t get the fat(cat)boy checked out of the pet hotel by 7 p.m., it would have cost me another $20 to spring him.)

Coming back, we stopped for gas and a “pit stop” in Temple instead of Comanche like we usually do, and I had to stop to get gas on the way home from picking the fat(cat)boy up at the pet hotel because my “need gas” light was on and I had less than a quarter of a tank.  My car has a “range” feature that gives an estimate of how many miles I can go based on how much gas is in the gas tank, and it was showing 27 miles when I filled up!

But I want you to know, I was unpacked, put away, had all my dirty clothes washed, dried and hung up before me and the fat(cat)boy snuggled in for night-nights. (And the chicken cacciatore sauce did come out of my shirt — !)


*Although to be fair, the signage was confusing.  It showed one lane for 610 East and the lane beside it for 610 West.  Then there was an exit, which I assumed was for 610 East (which we didn't want).  But there was no subsequent exit for 610 West!  What I didn't realize until it was too late was that BOTH lanes were supposed to take the exit and THEN split to go their separate ways.

**Although to be fair, the roads were all in a mess due to major road construction, and key signs were missing. 

***Although to be fair, there was only one sign to indicate which exit we were supposed to take, so if you missed it, too bad.  The other sign had apparently blown down, according to the guy in the convenience store where we asked for directions.

The Lost Words

The Lost Words is a very special collaboration between writer Robert MacFarlane and artist Jackie Morris full of magical “word spells” and ravishing artwork that evoke animals and plants of the English countryside. This is a wonderful book for children of all ages.  Luscious language, exquisite artwork, a magical experience for both eye and ear. Written to be read aloud, drawn to be poured over, printed in large format.  You deserve to have this book, and so do the children in your life.

The below was done as a promotional giveaway, but it’s made from the same recipe as the feast of words and illustrations to be found in this wonderful book.

Please buy this book from a local independent bookseller if at all possible.  You need this book, and they need your support.

What’s New?

Love the boozy trombones in his arrangement.  They had some good singers back in the old days — singers who had expressive voices, who could carry a melody and do things with it, and ol’ blue eyes is a case in point.  Songs had melodies, and luscious arrangements.  Although my generation has had one or two . . .

My favorite quote of the week is by Elon Musk: “I want to die on Mars, just not on impact.”  Tells you all you need to know about the man.

The seasons, they are a-changin’, although my AC is still coming on now and again.  Been drinking Stash Tea’s Chai Spice hot with a liberal blop of Coffee Mate Caramel Macchiato creamer in it.  Major nums.

When I said in the previous post that I got this humongous Jumbo skein of yarn, this is what I meant.  It’s supposed to be 3 “normal” pull skeins’ worth of yarn.  I’ve already got a hat and a pattern started using the star beads.  The pattern has a yo, k1 sequence where you drop the yo on the next row to give the k1 enough slack to pull the stitch through the bead with the crochet hook and then slip the stitch to the right needle without puckering the work.  The beads go onto a 3-stitch stockinette band that’s in a spiral pattern.  The stars are silver, gold, pink, blue, and green.  It’s fun, a little silly and a tad over the top, but there are times when you are facing down a life-threatening illness like breast cancer when you need “fun, silly and over the top” just to keep your sanity.

The Malguri Morning shawls are finished, the yarn ends are woven in and they are boxed up, addressed and ready to take down to the post office.  My local post office has a deal where you can buy postage from a machine in the lobby with a credit card 24/7, and don’t have to actually go during post office business hours to get postage. The machine has a scale and rulers and all that stuff, and they provide a nice big hopper to drop it in when it’s ready to go.

I played yarn chicken there at the last, and had about a golf-ball-sized ball of yarn left over when I finished this second one.  Otherwise, I’d have had to rip out two rows, because the shawl pattern has a two-row repeat and it has to be bound off after a particular row in the pattern repeats.  Actually, this yarn is so thick that I doubt there’s more than a yard or two left in that little ball —  nowhere near enough to do two more rows and a bind-off.  So, whew!  I’ve already started another one for me.  because this shawl starts at the point, the rows get wider and wider the further up you go, and the stripes in the “self striping” variegated yarn get narrower and narrower as a result.  Here’s both of them:

I don’t know why they look blotchy in the photos.  It may just be the way Charisma joins their color changes.  I’m making me one totally out of the blue self-striping, without any solid blue stripes.  When you use the bulky yarn, they’re thick, and snuggly* warm.  However, you can get creative with your yarn choices and needle sizes and end up with a lacy DK or sock-weight shawl, or a worsted weight shawl.  Also, the pattern is dead easy.  TV knitting at its finest, just perfect for binge watching.

 

*The spellchecker doesn't like "snuggly" with two 'G's, but there is a big difference in meaning between snugging (snugly, adverb) and snuggling (snuggly, adjective).