Here We Go Again

That line from the Mary Chapin Carpenter song comes to mind: “And we dwell in possibilities on New Year’s Day.”

I got my new glasses Friday. I should have known better than to get round lenses, never mind that I like the way they look. The frames had come slightly loose and the lenses had turned in the frame. When I put them on, my center vision was fine, but when I tried to read, the bifocal part was not where it was supposed to be. They had to be adjusted. I had a pair of glasses with round lenses before, except they were lined bifocals and easy to readjust if the frames got loose and the lenses got cattywompus. I even got a little screw driver just to tighten the frame (still have it, as it happens). Worth the aggravation, though, not to have to fool with those stupid bifocal lines that drive me nuts.

Overall, though, I like them. They’re gold frames and very slender, light, and unobtrusive. They also have the little “feet” on the nose piece instead of resting directly on your nose. I got the special lightweight lenses and I noticed the difference right away. Lighter frames and lighter lenses. The bridge of my nose is much happier. I’m about 20/450 in my right eye (What chart?), and Coke bottle bottoms are hard to come by anymore. I also got the nonglare coating and the kind that turn dark in the sun. (For what I paid for the little darlings, they ought to sing opera, too.) I have yet to get a pair of glasses that fully corrects my astigmatism, though. I still see a slight double image on print when I try to read with both eyes — which is why I read with my right eye and without my glasses. I’m about 20/45 in my left eye, and between the two of them, I can see perfectly well to do everything but drive. I can read street signs at a fair distance again, though, which is a big plus.

I’m going to try to get a handiwork group started — open to knitters, crocheters, tatters, embroiderers, hand quilters, etc. I’ll have to put a flyer up in the elevators and by the mailboxes in both buildings to gauge the interest, and to see when and where people want to meet. In the meantime, there’s still a knitting group going at the library that has been infiltrated by crocheters and my friend KC has been urging me to attend.

This was my Christmas present from me to me. They’re copper wire around fossil ammonite shells. Found them on Etsy. The cool thing is that I can wear the earrings with both necklaces. I need to get a copper chain for the one necklace as the gold chain doesn’t match. Yes, I have stoppers for the earrings. Better yet, I got the lot on sale almost 50% off. I’m such a magpie. The necklace on the left is by a Ukrainian artist, Lena Sinelnik. I’ve bought several of her beautiful pieces.

In the knitting news, I finally got around to winding the yarn I got for the Scots bonnets and am in the process of swatching. They’re Aran weight, 100% wool yarns and the pattern calls for US 7 (4.5 mm) needles. Since the bonnets are made from the center out and top down, I’ll have to start them on double pointed needles. However, I’ve got to knit the swatch, measure it, felt it, then remeasure it so I can calculate the percentage of shrinkage and calculate how “too big” to make it. Stay tuned.

I follow a comic called XKCD, which is a collection of “one off” cartoons by Randall Munroe which have to do with various STEM and computer-related topics. I found this one particularly hilarious. Of course, in order to “get” it, you do have to know what a Lagrange point is . . .

Serendipity, Serendoogles, and Serendubes

The word “serendipity” is defined as something beneficial or desirable that is found or that occurs by accident or chance.  A while back,  I coined the word “serendoogle” (serendipity + google) for something cool/interesting you come across while you’re googling for something else.

And then there is  that glorious, bottomless *SEARCHABLE* Alice-in-Wonderland rabbit hole called “YouTube.” One of my favorite activities in these long days of isolation has become “channel surfing” YouTube for serendubes. (If you think about it, it’ll come to you. . .)

The other day, those arcane YouTubean algorhythms coughed up a video called  Art in Isolation.  The one I chanced upon was number 6 in a series, was short (around 15 minutes), and looked interesting.  Because I am well trained in the art of binge watching, instead of watching that one,  I naturally searched for episode 1 and watched it.

Turns out, they’re  a whole series of videos by this Brit art dealer guy geeking out about various pieces in his personal art collection, which is interesting if you are into that kind of thing, but, guys — his house!  Look at THAT HOUSE!  Only in Britain, where you can hardly turn around without falling over something historic*, could you have a house like that that!  By the time I’d watched back up to episode  6, I was like, enough about the art, dude**.  Do a tour of that house!

*As for history here in the flat lands of Tx, we have the Clovis culture,  followed by 11,000 years of hunter/gatherers wandering over bald prairie dropping the odd stone arrowhead until my town was founded in 1876.  No ancient neolithic monuments, no Roman ruins, or castles, or medieval stone cottages or stately homes.  NadaBubkes.  Zip. 
**which is why God gave us the mute function/button/icon.


*Save Our Sanity.

Emilio Sanchez-Perrier Winter in Andalusia 1880

I worry about those people like my mother who have a wide circle of friends and derive a lot of satisfaction from socializing.  This is a hard time for such people.  Social isolation is very telling on the psyche.  (That’s why solitary confinement is a punishment, y’all.)  It would not be so worrisome if she didn’t live by herself.  This social isolation thing has cut her off from a major source of what makes life fulfilling for her:  Interacting with her friends.  She has never been very tech savvy (operating cable TV is a challenge).  She has no smart phone, and has no idea there is such a thing as Skype or FaceTime, never mind how to use it.  Unfortunately, she has a significant hearing loss, which makes following dialogue problematic so she mostly watches game shows and sports on TV.   Reading does not appeal;  she neither knits nor crochets.  (How can I be related to this woman???)

When the social isolation is beginning to tell on you and you are bouncing off the walls from boredom, give a thought to people like my mother.  Call them, chat with them, engage with them.  Back when AT&T was just a telephone company, their advertising slogan was “Reach out and touch someone.”  Guess what.  That reaching out and touching someone works both ways.

Personally, I’ve not noticed a big change in my life in the time of COVID-19.  At my end of the spectrum, solitude is peace, and I cherish it.  I’m pretty much doing what I’ve always done, blogging, reading blogs, keeping up with the YouTube channels I follow, reading, knitting, watching Netflix.  I’m lucky in my self sufficiency, seeing as how I’m in three or four high-risk groups.

Avebury House

I thought I’d share a couple of pieces of eye-candy from my collection, as well as some goodies I’ve discovered:

The Corning Glass Museum has a YouTube channel with commentated videos of glass artists making glass art using varied techniques.  This stuff is fascinating, educational, and suitable for children.

Some of us are old enough to remember when Pride and Prejudice was a BBC miniseries on PBS, and Colin Firth was (the definitive IMHO) Mr. Darcy (the lake scene!!).  Elizabeth Bennett was played by an actress named Jennifer Ehle.   For those of you who are into audiobooks, here is a YouTube series of Ms. Ehle reading the book.  If you’re on Instagram, Ms. Ehle’s ITV channel there is the source of these videos, and you may prefer to follow her from there (it’s ehle_jennifer )

For the knitting crowd, Arne & Carlos are having a quarantine knit-along on their YouTube channel with free patterns on their blog.  It’s color work, so if you haven’t tried it, you might give it a go.  They have how-to tutorials on their channel, oddly enough.

There’s a YouTube channel with relaxing ambient music.  If you like that kind of music, check out Soma FM which offers that genre as well as many others.  It’s all ***commercial free*** music you can listen to for free, but if you like what you hear, contribute what you can.   They’re listener supported and you can buy stuff from them with their logos to help keep them on the air.

Stay safe and stay sane, y’all.  We’ve got this.




Making a Case for Odds and Ends

I have a set of dishes, Churchill’s beautiful version of the classic blue willow ware pattern.  (Those regular readers of this blog will have seen pieces of it.) I have place settings for 12.  I got them in the early 1980’s at my local Skaggs-Albertson store. It was the classic “grocery store dishes” deal.   For every $x you spent on groceries, you got a stamp.  You filled in a card with 9 stamps and you could buy a four piece place setting for, like, $2.50.  We’re talking nice, good quality ceramic dishes.

I already had a set of Noritaki pottery left over from a wedding that didn’t take, and I liked them well enough, but I had always secretly yearned for a set of blue willow ware dishes.  Now was my chance.  I bought all the accessory bits, too —  12 coffee cups and saucers, serving bowls, platters (round and oval), coffee pot, teapot, condiment set, a butter dish for stick butter, a gravy boat, two of the cutest covered casserole dishes you ever saw, relish tray, the whole nine yards.   Why did I buy so many place settings?  These are my forever dishes, and I figured having so many place settings would allow for attrition and still leave me enough dishes that matched to serve food to a reasonable number of people if the need arose.  I have broken a salad plate, which I promptly replaced at about 5 times what I originally paid for it, because matching sets . . . .

And that’s kind of what I wanted to talk about, matching sets.  We’ve been indoctrinated for centuries to think that dishes need to match.  If you set a table, the dishes must all be part of a matched set.  Glassware all has to match.  Silverware all has to match.  The table linens have  to match.

While the part of me that has been inculcated since infancy in the orthodoxy of Matching Sets (and the part of me that swoons over blue and white china anything) glories in my cabinet full of matching dishes, there is the part of me that glories in my shelf of teacups.  Oh, I have a set of 9 of those tall, slender Chinese style blue and white tea cups with lids from Pier 1 (because blue and white!), but they’re on a different shelf.  No, I have this one shelf where I have a pair of el cheapo clear pressed glass “hot chocolate” cups, two hand-thrown heavy pottery mugs with handles and a larger, handle-less thrown pottery mug from this potter in southeastern NM who signed her/his work “Taylor,” a collection of about six Chinese teacups without handles but with  lids that double as saucers alike in style, but not in color or design.  None of them match except the two clear glass cups (they came as a pair in the Christmas gift) and the two white pottery cups (I saw the one, loved it, had to have it, and then saw there was another one like it . . . pounce! . . .).   That shelf is like a family photo album.  I remember how and where I got every one of those cups, and using any of them evokes memories of places and people and good times.  They’re a carefully curated collection, to coin a phrase, not just of teacups, but memorabilia.

And the thing is, I can make a case for cups, glasses and dishes that you use on a daily basis being collections, rather than sets.  Odds and ends gathered from hither and yon because you like them — their shape, or their pattern, or their color (I have a set of 10 cobalt blue drinking glasses I bought 10 of because cobalt blue, — and because they color coordinate with the blue willow dishes) or because they were a gift from a special person, or were what remained of a set that was inherited from a family member, and each piece would come with a history.

See, if none of your wine glasses matched, then you wouldn’t need to offer those absurdly chichi wine glass charms to your guests so they could keep track of whose wine was whose.   Each glass would be one of a kind, and there wouldn’t be another glass like the one that was yours.

You could use the plate or bowl that fit your mood — if you were sad, you could use the one with the beautiful hand-painted flowers on to cheer yourself up;  if you were feeling dumped on by the world, you could use that elegant bone china one that was all that was left of a set brought over from Europe by great great Aunt Ermintrude when she immigrated from Upper Loose Chippings, Blighty, in Eighteen-Oh-Something;  when you were feeling burnt out from work, you could use the brilliantly colored majolica one you got in Spain.   Mood therapy through dinnerware.  What a concept.


It Fooled Around And Got Cold On Us

When I went for my followup visit yesterday to the surgeon who did my hernia repair, I started out the door in a teeshirt, and went, “Whoa!”  It was rainy and downright chilly out.  So chilly, in fact, that I went right back in and put on my favorite SomaFM zip up hoodie.  When I got home long about noon and looked at the HVAC thermometer in the hall, it was 77 F/25 C inside.  I have this single size microfiber blanket I got years ago intending to make a lap robe out of but haven’t yet, and last night was the second night in a row I’ve slept with it spread over my side of the bed.  This morning when I went in to boot up my computer, the digital clock/calendar/thermostat on the tower read 74 F/23.3 C.  First thing I did was turn off the floor fan in my office.   I’m wearing long pants, albeit cotton ones, and a teeshirt instead of my usual summer uniform of a lightweight teeshirt dress, and I’m seriously thinking about going and putting some socks on.

This is what the five-day forecast looks like:

  Fall has definitely fell.

I was having a little read in bed this morning, and my dern arms got chilly!  So, I’m going to try again to knit a reader’s shrug, which I envision as basically a pair of sleeves held together across the back.   It’ll be Turkish cast on down the middle of the back, which I’ll knit in both directions at the same time (“magic loop“) out to the sleeves, which will be done two at a time out to the cuffs.  It’ll be ribbed, in a DK weight yarn, on a US 4 (3.5 mm) 60-inch circular needle.  I got two cakes of this Lion Brand Mandala yarn (color “Troll”) because I liked the colors in combination, or at least all but one of them.  I’m editing out the light green as I roll it into balls.   I’ll try writing a pattern for it, but it’s going to be basically me, a tape measure and the calculator app on my computer playing it by ear.  I’ll start it as soon as I can get both cakes wound into balls.  I’ll have to get my covered yarn bowl down for this one.

Shoutout:  I am a reader of webcomics.  One of my favorites is one called “Wilde Life” drawn by a lady from Oklahoma named Pascalle Lepas.  If you’re into that kind of thing, go check it out.  It’s beautifully drawn, I like the characters, and the plot is interesting.  Here’s a teeny taste (which also could be the motto of Gemini, which I kind of am*).  (I want this on a teeshirt so bad!)

Here are a couple more serendoogles**

This is a nerd play on a well-known mathematical formula.  This one is a “DUH!” it’s so obvious.  Girl got it absolutely right on.

*I'm born on the cusp of Taurus, which is an earth sign, and Gemini, which is an air sign.  The burrowing owl is a bird native to the flatlands that lives in a hole in the ground.  Its closest relative is the little owl that lives on the Acropolis in Athens known as Athena's owl, whence its taxonomic name, Athene cunicularia hypugaea.  That should give you a clue why this blog has the name it does. 

θεά από τη μηχανή
**Serendoogle -- something cool you run across by chance while googling for something else.  I invented this word by combining "serendipity + google"


Four Days and A Trip To the Grocery Store

I had a doctor’s appointment today, to which my mom drove me.  I had to have labs first which meant I had to go to the main area and check in with the lab.  The waiting room was packed, which it usually isn’t so much.  In this clinic, there are usually around 10 doctors who are seeing patients on any given day and everybody checks in here first.  Apparently, the computers had been down earlier in the morning and they were about an hour behind checking in patients, so I had to wait nearly an hour just to get checked in and another half hour to get in to get labs drawn.  Then I had to wait until the lab results were back before the doc would see me.

On the way back home,  mom needed to make a stop to get a pair of these little slide-behind sunglasses she likes but the optical store she went to didn’t have ones that fit her glasses.  Then she took me to the grocery store because I was out of more than a couple of things.  I pushed the cart all over the store in a very devious and circuitous route because I don’t know that store very well, and got six of those little plastic sacks full of groceries.  That’ll be $89.23, thank you very much.

I left the house at 8:45 a.m., and didn’t get back until nearly 3 p.m.  And all the time I was gone, my oxygen bottle was sitting in its little trolley by the couch in my living room/lounge!  And I was walking and pushing the grocery cart, not riding one of those little scooters they have in some grocery stores.   And after I got home, I put up the groceries, changed clothes, fixed me a mid afternoon half a baked potato, made a pitcher of white chai, and sat on the couch to watch a couple YouTube videos on my flat screen TV.  Yeah, I was kinda pooped once I got home, but I was otherwise Just Fine.

But food and drink revived me, and I had a little celebratory party.  Ate a whole pint of Talenti Gelato cinnamon vanilla flavor by myself, had a little white chai.  We got pretty happy and started swinging from the chandeliers — well, I didn’t, but they were:

(It’s the opening act of “Corteo” by Cirque du Soleil BTW, here is the intro and whole first act.  It’s been said life is but a dream.  In this case, it’s death that is the dream.  Curious premise for a show.  But then, when you get right down to it, that’s not any more off the wall than the premises of their other shows. )

That act just surpassed what used to be my favorite Cirque du Soleil act:

That one’s for the song in English.  This one is for the aerial silks:

The upper of the day’s big accomplishment (nose hose free all day for the 4th whole day) soon ran into a bummer.  When I sat down at my computer, I quickly noticed that my earphone extension cord jack has a short that cuts out one whole ear.  I use the extension cord because I can’t find an earphone with a long enough cord to reach past my keyboard, under my monitor and back to the earphone jack in my computer tower (I have a desktop) which still gives me any slack at all to actually wear the durn things.  With the earphone extension cord, I can plug it into the jack in my computer, bring it under my desk from the back, tape the cord to the underside of the desk, and tape the cord jack at the front edge of the underside of my desk.  That gives me all kinds of slack in the earphone cord. I know what did this cord in.  I had it taped flush with the edge of my desk where the jack on the headphones protruded out past the edge, and I was always bumping it.  I will set the cord jack of the new cord about an inch back from the front edge of the desk, and that should alleviate that problem.  I ordered a new one off Amazon which is supposed to be here Thursday.  In the meantime, having the sound in just one ear is not conducive to the immersive musical experience.  Um, now that I think about it, I have a set of headphones with a boom mike that I used to use for conference calls when I worked from home, and it has a long enough cord.  I don’t like wearing headphones as much as I like wearing earphones, but compared to listening to music out of only one ear, I’d rather put up with wearing headphones for the two or three days it takes my new extension cord to get here.

Tomorrow, I have another doctor’s appointment to get an injection, which shouldn’t take more than an hour, round trip, portal to portal.  I have to go about 15 minutes early, because I have to drive up to Walmart and fill my car with gas first, but I have to go that way anyway to get to the cross town street that goes to where my doctor’s office is.   I’m going (oxygen) tankless, so this will be the first time since I got home from the hospital that I’ve driven without the nose hose.  That’s the only thing on my calendar until next week, when I have an appointment Wednesday with the pulmonologist who saw me in the hospital and sent me home on oxygen.  (I hope to convince him that I am fully weaned from the nose hose and can call that medical equipment outfit to come get all their stuff because I don’t need it any more. Yay!) I’m still going to be using the concentrator at night until Saturday.  But those two appointments are the only things I have scheduled until the 30th.  The rest of the time I can spend reading, writing,  and working on my knitting projects.

Light Blue Cobblestone Lace Shawl

In the knitting news, I’m almost done with the last increase repeat on the Cobblestone Lace shawl (at left) in light blue I’m making.  When I finish it, I may go on and do the center section, which has just one repeat. At that point, the shawl has 109 total stitches on the needle, which will make it nice and wide.



In the knitting news, I’m almost done with the last increase repeat on the Cobblestone Lace shawl (at left) in light blue I’m making.  When I finish it, I may go on and do the center section, which has just one repeat. At that point, the shawl has 109 total stitches on the needle, which will make it nice and wide.

Denim Blue Cable Edged Shawl

Either way, I won’t start the decreases until I’ve finished the one in denim blue (at right)  I am in the middle of the decreases on it, so I’m about 3/4ths finished with it. This one uses the old version of the pattern.  I revised the pattern because I didn’t like the way the decreases looked but, rather than frog out the entire shawl,  I decided to go ahead and finish it and give it away.




However, before I work on it, I will try to finish at least half of what’s left to do on the Cable Edged Shawl in the Lion Brand Heartland “Glacier Bay” colorway (at left).  Then I’ll finish the denim blue Cobblestone Lace Shawl, then finish the “Glacier Bay” Cable Edged Shawl.


Heartlands “Glacer Bay” Cable Edged Shawl

However, before I work on it, I will try to finish at least half of what’s left to do on the Cable Edged Shawl in the Lion Brand Heartland “Glacier Bay” colorway (at left).  Then I’ll finish the denim blue Cobblestone Lace Shawl, then finish the “Glacier Bay” Cable Edged Shawl, which will also be given away.

Only then will I work on finishing the light blue Cobblestone Lace Shawl to avoid “memory conflicts” with the change in stitch used for the decreases.  The old version of the pattern (the denim blue one) uses k2tog’s to decrease, but the new version (light blue) is going to use ssk’s.  Although now that I take a closer look at what the kfb increases look like, I may try a couple of rows using p2tog decreases, just to see if they more closely resemble what the kfb increases look like.  If they do, I’ll be revising the pattern yet again.   We’re aiming for symmetry here, as in not being able to tell the increase sections from the decrease sections without closely examining the work.


Heartlands “Ocean” Cable Edged Shawl with Revised Edging

I’ll change out working on the light blue shawl with the Heartlands “Ocean” Cable Edged Shawl (at right, but the body is much further along than shown, 178 of 262 stitches which means I’ve only got 42 rows to go on the body). The edging will be done using my modification to the pattern that uses Hilton garter stitch lace below the cable instead of the lace used in the original version.  (I’m calling my modified pattern and shawl “My Own Private Hilton.”)

Well, it’s late now and I want to catch a shower before I crawl into my beddy-boo.  Mañana.