Why I Have So Many Projects Going At Once

Happy Summer Solstice, y’all! 

I was working on this little baby blanket (left) for car seats a while ago.  It has a vertical “eyelet” border — where you do (k2) on one row and (k2tog, yo),  on the next row, and it leaves a little hole.  The way most patterns “mimic” this for the horizontal borders is with a row of (k2tog, yo).  I used that on this blanket, but since it plays into the pattern, I don’t mind it so much.  However, in other instances, I have never been happy with how it looks.

I got to thinking as I was knitting on it how I could recreate the look of the vertical border for the horizontal border and had a brain wave.

Naturally, I had to stop what I was doing, go boot up the computer,  and try out what I was thinking (writing it down on the computer as I went).  It took a bit, but I finally got it worked out — a way to get that “two twisted strands of yarn” look on a horizontal border.

I like the way it looks so much better than the (k2tog, yo) look.

It’s hard to take a good picture of it, but the way I do it mimics the look of the vertical border so much better, I think.   I had to invent a couple of stitches in order to do it, though:

psro = pass the stitch to the right over the last stitch knitted. (Unlike the traditional “psso” where the first stitch is slipped without being worked, BOTH stitches are knitted.)
sspbl, kbl = insert right needle as though to purl through the back loop and slip the stitch to the right needle, put the slipped stitch back on the left needle and purl through the back loop.
nbs = number of stitches in vertical border.

Row 1:  k(nbs), *k2, psro, repeat from * until (1+ nbs) remain, k2, psro, knit to end of row.
Row 2:  k(nbs), *yo, sspbl, kbl, repeat from * until (nbs) remain, yo, knit to the end of the row.

I’m posting this in my knitting blog.  I’ve written it so you can modify a pattern you already have, as well as incorporate it into a new pattern you’re writing.

Say “Hello,” to my little friend.

In other news, as I mentioned before, I’ve been on home oxygen since 30 May, but I’ve managed to wean down from 2 liters to 1 liter successfully.  Now I’ve gotten to the point where if something will be a PITA to do while I’m wearing the oxygen thingie with its 50-foot long tube that I have to drag around, I take it off and do the thing without oxygen, going up to 10 minutes without it sometimes and most of the time staying above 90% oxygen saturation (the amount of oxygen being carried in arterial blood = blood oxygen level or O2 sat.   100% is as good as it gets).  I had to get this little pulse oximeter (see above) on my way home from the hospital so I can keep track of my O2 sat.  On the gizmo’s readout, the top number is my pulse, the second number is my blood oxygen level/O2 sat.

Just now, I got up from the computer, threw an empty apple juice bottle away in the kitchen trash, took a potty break, went back to the back bedroom and took a couple pictures of the Car Seat Baby Blanket (green one above) I was working on earlier, and came back and sat down, all without my oxygen on.  My o2sat did fall to 88% (anything below 90% is too low), but once I sat down and took a couple of deep breaths, it went back up to 90% before I even put my oxygen back on.  I’m making progress.  I’m bound and determined I’m going to ditch this oxygen rig for good before I go see the pulmonologist on 11 July.

I have a collection of “sleep shirts” (teeshirts with shirt tails that go down to my knees) that I wear around the house in the summer because they’re cotton and cool.  Three of them happen to have a little pocket on them, and I’ve been rotating between having one clean, wearing one, and having one in the wash since I got out of hospital.  This is so I can keep my little friend, the red pulse oximeter, in the little pocket where it’s always handy.

I’ve decided that tomorrow I’m going to start exercising again (with oxygen on).  I’m going to do the postsurgical rehab exercises for my legs that they gave me when I broke my kneecap, as well as some exercises for my upper back mostly to help me stand up straighter and pull my shoulders back.

I went to knitting group Tuesday for the first time in over a month.  I had planned to go and had intended to drive myself — I’ve driven several times with the oxygen tank in the passenger seat.  But then, my good friends LB texted me asking if they could come pick me up and take me to knitting group.   As it was a great opportunity to visit with both LB and her husband C, I agreed to go with them.  She is unable to drive due to vision problems from her multiple bouts of chemotherapy  (she now has stage IV breast cancer with metastasis to her bones) and C drives her to knitting group.  They are such a sweet couple.  We had a really nice visit.   LB has been knitting baby blankets.  She’s finished the pink one, and is now working on a blue one.  Apparently, both the blankets already have homes.  As I’ve said before, “There’s nothing a knitter likes better than an excuse to knit something.”

I might also mention that LB is now on a new type of chemotherapy that is in a pill form.  This is the very latest thing in cancer treatment.  They had such good results with it with lung cancer, achieving  a high remission rate even in more advanced stages, that they are now trying it on breast cancer, and it looks to be equally effective.  She has been on it for a couple months.  Now that she no longer has to go to the cancer center to receive IV infusions of chemotherapy but takes her chemo in pill form, they have been able to travel once she felt well enough.  They’ve taken several trips, to Florida and to Taos, New Mexico.  She said Tuesday that she is now feeling better than she has felt in over four years.  This is a good sign.  There is a possibility that with this new treatment, she might achieve remission, even with stage IV disease.  We are all hopeful.

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In Memoriam

Sad news from Shoreacres

In Memoriam

On silent feet, the furry folk arrive,
Leave paw prints all across my days,
Scatter catnaps in my sunshine places.
Oh, how their presence graces me.
Quicker than a winking eye, as agile as a smile,
they stalk the pathways of my heart
And what great emptiness they leave behind
When it is time for them to go.

Poem "In Memoriam" ©2010 The Owl Underground

That Trough Between Winter and Spring

Really tired of winter and want it to be over.  Not ready for it to be summer and too damn hot to do anything.  Have a bad case of the blahs.  Shouldn’t go grocery shopping when I do because I blow money — especially going grocery shopping at Market Street which has things like spinach foccacia  and Seven Layer Dip.  Did it anyway and dropped $100 on four bags of groceries — good sized bags, though.  Still.  Got some things I shouldn’t have, like Gold Peak Raspberry Tea and Gold Peak Peach Tea, which is just loaded with sugar (32 g of sugar in 59 oz!).   However, in my defense, I do dilute it — about 4:1 with water.   I also got a couple rolls of prosciutto and cheese which our friends C&DK turned mom and me onto when we visited their cabin between Christmas and New Years.  Pricy stuff, but so, so good.  I also got some yogurt — a two-pack each of blueberry, peach and cherry — and some baby carrots, cherry tomatoes and some celery sticks, plus some Ranch to dip them in.  The lion’s share of what I got wasn’t junk food.

So for supper just now, I had some Seven Layer dip spread on a couple of pieces of spinach foccacia and shoved it into my little kisser pretty quickly.  The Seven Layer Dip is refried beans, guacamole, scallions, tomatoes, black olives, sour cream, and sprinkle cheese.  It’s all pretty much real food.   So’s the spinach foccacia.  It was that pint of Blue Bell Cherry Vanilla ice cream  I had for dessert last night . . . .

I got one of my club chairs and the ottoman moved back to the bedroom, plus the pole light and my little reader table, and now have a little knitting nook set up ready to settle in and do some serious knitting.  That area has the best feng shui of any place in the house.  ❤ ❤ ❤ ‘s to L&CB who helped with the chair.

I’m (still) working on a pattern for a shawl that has some garter stitch lace that has a 16-row pattern repeat.  The pattern I’m modifying is just “a little something on your shoulders” shawl(at left).  I want something much wider and in order to get what I want, I’ve got to work out either five or six sections to the pattern:  The beginning bit, the increases bit, the across the back bit(s), the decreases bit and the ending bit. I want it to increase  (and decrease) 1 stitch every other row up to a point, then I want to slow the increase/decrease rate and maybe stop it across the center back section.  I’ve got two monster skeins of “blue jean” colored yarn. It’s worked from corner to corner in three vertical sections with markers in between — a 3-stitch garter stitch border (E-marker), the body of the shawl proper (B-marker), and the garter stitch lace edging.   The stitch count for the border section varies from row to row so I have to note that in the pattern too. (B18)  This is the starting bit:

Cast on 21 stitches and knit 5 rows
Row 1: k3, E#, kfb, B#, k2, yo, k2tog, k4, yo, k3tog, (k1, yo) twice, k2tog, yo, k2. (B18)
Row 2: yo, k2tog, knit to B#, p1, k1, E#, k3.
Row 3: k3, E#, k1, kfb, B#, k7, yo, k3tog, k1, yo, k3, yo, k2tog, yo, k2. (B19)
Row 4: yo, k2tog, knit to B#, p1, k1, p1,E#, k3.
Row 5: k3, E#, k2, kfb, B#, k2, yo, k2tog, k2, yo, k3tog, k1, yo, k5, yo, k2tog, yo, k2. (B20)
Row 6: yo, k2tog, knit to B#, *p1, k1, repeat from * to E#, k3.
Row 7: k3, E#, k3, kfb, B#, k5, yo, k3tog, k1, yo, k7, yo, k2tog, yo, k2. (B21)
Row 8: yo, k2tog, knit to B#, *p1, k1, repeat from * until 1 st before marker, p1, E#, k3.
Row 9: k3, E#, k4, kfb, B#, k2, yo, k2tog, k8, yo, k3tog, k1, (yo, k2tog) twice, k1. (B20)
Row 10: yo, k2tog, knit to B#, *p1, k1, repeat from * to E#, k3.
Row 11: k3, E#, k5, kfb, B#, k11, yo, k3tog, k1, (yo, k2tog) twice, k1. (B19)
Row 12: yo, k2tog, knit to B#, *p1, k1, repeat from * until 1 st before marker, p1, E#, k3.
Row 13: k3, E#, k6, kfb, B#, k2, yo, k2tog, k6, yo, k3tog, k1, (yo, k2tog) twice, k1. (B18)
Row 14: yo, k2tog, knit to B#, *p1, k1, repeat from * to E#, k3.
Row 15: k3, E#, k7, kfb, B#, k9, yo, k3tog, k1, (yo, k2tog) twice, k1. (B17)
Row 16: yo, k2tog, knit to B#, *p1, k1, repeat from * until 1 st before marker, p1, E#, k3.

It’s one of those knitting projects where I need a sticky note line marker to keep my place in the pattern, and peace/quiet, no interruptions or distractions.  I saw a thing on a TV knitting and crocheting show about using dental floss for lifelines when knitting lace patterns, and I’ve got a roll or two of it.  I may need to use it for this.  Knitting lace can be a real hair puller.  Maybe put a life line in each time I complete a pattern repeat.

Llolling About in Llano, Part One

Our good friends C&DK invited mom and me down to their “ranch” about 7 miles outside of Llano, Tx, over New Year’s.  They have around 20 acres in  “the hill country” down near Austin, and Fredericksburg, on which they have a cabin.  They call it “The Crooked Star Ranch” because they had a star (Tx is the “Lone Star State,” after all) on the cabin door that kept getting knocked cattywompus* every time the door was closed.

The cabin was originally built as a 10′ x 15′ hunting lodge with a fireplace, a sleeping loft, a miniscule 3-piece bathroom, a very rudimentary kitchen, a veranda and a screened-in porch.

After they bought it, they replaced the porch screens with glass, added a bedroom and bath on the ground floor and bumped out the kitchen to make room for more prep area, shelving, and a full sized refrigerator.  They also added 3 mini splits for heating and cooling.   It’s rustic, I’ll grant you, and it’s out in the boonies, but it has hot and cold running water, a septic system, indoor plumbing, and she has a stackable washer and dryer, so we weren’t exactly roughing it.

The stairs to the sleeping loft (at right) are rather breakneck, and they did not want my 93-year-old mom going up and down them (nor did I), so they put her in their bedroom with its en-suite, and they slept in the loft.  I was put on the former porch on the bed the couch folded out into.  However, I had a waffle blanket, a quilt and the thick fleece blanket I had thrown in the back seat of the car (along with a baggie containing tea light candles, a cigarette lighter, chocolate, nuts and trail mix — part of my winter survival kit), and I was plenty warm.

They still had their Christmas decorations up.  The stockings were hung on the gun-rack with care.  (Actually,  the guns and sword are “authentic reproductions” that belong to one of their neighbors who participates in historical reenactments.

The cabin was all lit up for Christmas, including Dixie, their dog (lower left corner of picture).   (Dixie is a Boykin Spaniel, — the state dog of South Carolina — and is rather opinionated about how many treats she should be allowed to have. . . .)

This part of Texas is known as the “hill country” because it is just that — hilly, rocky, and wooded, with post oaks, live oaks and mesquite.  It is mostly used for grazing land, primarily for cattle, but also sheep and goats.  The land is dotted with limestone escarpments and outcrops which provide an abundant source of building material — the so-called “Austin stone.”

This part of Texas is about at the same latitude as southern Morocco or the northern border of India, and has a humid subtropical climate, with hot summers and generally mild winters. Average temperatures range from 84°F (29°C) in the summer to 46°F (7.8°C) during winter.  Towns are few and far between in this area, and with all this open land, there is also wild life — a lot of deer, racoons, skunks, snakes (including rattlesnakes and copperheads), possums, foxes, coyotes, etc.  Unfortunately, they also have feral hogs.

With this winter storm thing developing over the New Year holiday, mom and I were watching the weather so as to know what clothes to take.  These were the predictions as of the day before we left.

 

 

 

Suffice it to say, my mom, bless her, does not have the appropriate clothes for this kind of situation or weather.  Her wardrobe is “indoor-city,” i.e., geared to bridge clubs, luncheons, and church.  Her idea of cold weather clothes was to bring her wool suit made from thin woolen broadcloth lined with satin, which she wore with a long sleeved cotton jersey sweater, a flannel lined nylon windbreaker, and knee-high nylon hose —  and she couldn’t understand why she was so cold.  I was wearing microfleece — three layers on my core, and two layers on my arms — sweatpants, and thick cotton socks, and I was fine, although I did resort to a lap robe on Monday.

We drove down on Friday, and made really good time — with my mom navigating and the excellent directions CK had given us, we didn’t miss a turnoff.  The only time we had any trouble at all was when one of those bus-like RV motor homes nearly ran us off the road.  I was going slightly under the speed limit (which is 75 mph/120 kph in Texas) I was in the passing lane right beside them when this yahoo in the motor home decided to pull into our lane and durn near side-swiped us.  Fortunately, I was able to maintain control of the car and keep us going straight because the shoulder of the road (what there was of it) was steeply sloped and we could have easily had a roll-over accident.  I don’t think mom realized how close we came to wiping out completely, which is just as well.

One other incident of note did happen on the way down; I finally thought of a good name for my silver 2015 Toyota Corolla.  The car I had before it (for 27 years!), a 1987 Toyota Corolla, was affectionately known as “the Crayola.”  I’ve decided to call this one “the Grayola.”

CK, who is a great cook, served us home-made chicken and dumplings, queso, tamales,  prime rib and other such delicious goodies —  in a kitchen with no stove, just a microwave, toaster oven and crock pots!

*cattywompus — if something is all cattywompus, it is discombobulated, askew, tangled up, disarranged, jumbled up.  (If you’ve ever been around little kittens, you’ll have noticed that sometimes when they run, the hind end gets ahead of the front end, with predictable results.)

Crimmers Eve

My friend LB made a bunch of knitted snowmen, and she gave me this one when I went to see her Thursday.  She used yarn that has a thread of iridescence in it that gives it just the perfect little sparkle like snow (like the iridescent glitter I used on my snowflakes) — which doesn’t photograph at all well . . . .

The little snowman got me to thinking again about how a simple object of little intrinsic worth becomes an object of great value because of its history and how one came to acquire it.  Its worth lies in its ability to evoke memories, of the time, the place and the giver.  .  .  .  It becomes a “souvenir” in the literal sense of the word, which is French for “remember.”

Sans segue,  I remembered I had this little bamboo silverware tray  (it’s too narrow for the silverware drawer in this house), and I had a brainwave — I put it on the little table I have by my computer to organize my knitting needles.  It works a treat.  I had a hard time getting to my double pointed needles before, but not now.  They all go in that front bit quite nicely, as does my needle gauge.  Win.

Here I make all these hats for other people, but I hadn’t made any for myself.  Last year, I had made a ribbed cowl to fit up around my neck, which I fold in half and which fits like a turtle neck sweater without the sweater.   I used it when I had to go out Friday, and it is tall enough that it will cover my mouth and ears no problem.  I made it so long because you can also unfold it and bring one end of it up over your head.  It fits my needs very well.  I thought a toboggan to go with it out of the same Caron Simply Soft yarn would be just the thing, so on this chilly (41 F/ 5C) Crimmers Eve, I’m making one.

Late in my salad days (1986), when I first started doing medical transcription, we worked at the hospital in a little room off the medical records department.  The lady I worked for, and who taught me transcription, used to get tickled at me for refering to “Christmas” as “Crimmers.”  I was more draw-y and cartoon-y then than I am now, and I drew her this little thing below one Crimmers.  (I didn’t know until about 20 years later that she had not only kept it all these years, but had had it very nicely framed.)  The sentiment still holds up well, I think, even now in these dark days. . .

Snowing Outside as Well as Inside

I’ve finally finished crocheting all the snowflakes I plan to crochet this year.  There is glitter EVERYwhere, especially in the living room carpet by where I have the ironing board set up. Whoopee!(I have it set up in the living room right next to the dining area so I can use the dining table to put the bottle of stiff stuff, and the containers of glitter and straight pins, and what not on.  I still have two snowflakes that need the second side stiffened and glittered, and then glue the ribbon loops on, and then packing one bunch to mail.  I was going to try to get them there before Christmas, but obviously, that isn’t happening.

Then I have to clean up the mess.  Ugh. I out-and-about-ed all day yesterday — I went to the dentist and the verdict is that the post is looking great.  I’m supposed to come back Wednesday-week to get the impressions made for my new molar.  I had the tooth pulled in May.  I’ll finally get the implant/replacement in January.  I will be so glad to finally be able to chew on that side again. (Oh, I can chew on that side, but it’s a bootless undertaking . . .)

After that, I went to visit my friend LB and took her a snowflake.  She had knitted a bunch of snowmen and gave me one.  She is currently dealing with her third recurrence of breast cancer which has now metastasized to her bones.  ( She’s being treated at the same cancer center where I donate the hats.)  She’s had a third round of chemo and radiation treatments to her ribs where it first showed up in the bone.  Her latest MRI showed she had lesions in all but two of her thoracic vertebrae.  She’s trying to stay upbeat.  They’ve started her on this new pill type chemo that is supposed to be really great.  I hope it works.

Last week, the battery on my computer UPS device died — I have two UPS devices, and the battery on the other one died first, and I changed them out.  Now this one died as well — and I had to go get a new battery.  I took one of the dead ones in to be sure I got one that would work, and since both devices use the same battery, I got two.  I left the dead battery with them to recycle (it contained lithium), and one of the errands I had to run yesterday was to take the other dead battery in to get it recycled as well.  And I had to go to this store to get this thing and that store to get that thing, and then shop groceries. By the time I got home, and got everything sorted out and put away, I was pooped.  As a result, I went to bed too soon after I ate supper and had a bad reflux episode, woke up coughing and gagging, with my nose streaming.  I had a hard time getting back to sleep again, and I have a sore throat, and I’ve been wheezing all day.

I had an optometry appointment at the VA today, and they dilated my eyes.  I looked a little weird wearing dark glasses on such a grey, overcast day, but I was able to drive home.  In addition to being grey and overcast, it was also colder than the proverbial wedge (our overnight low is supposed to be 24F/-4.44C tonight).  I stopped by my moms later this afternoon, after my eyes had settled down, and  her halls are quite thoroughly decked.  Our family moved to that house in the 1960’s.  The house had a fireplace but no mantelpiece, which my mom found odd and disappointing.   At the time, my mom was doing ceramics as a hobby — one of her friends had a shop for hobbyists with molds and kilns, etc., — and she was working on this deluxe nativity set which would have been perfect to display on a fireplace mantel — alas!  My dad decided to make her one, and did woodcarving on it.  It took him forever (his projects usually did), but finally he got it done. (The reason it took forever was that he was so painstaking.  The results speak for themselves).   The white pieces pf the nativity set stood out better before mom had the brickwork (and the wood paneling) in the den painted.

The picture above the mantel is a photograph my dad took of my late aunt’s former house in El Paso all decorated with luminarias.  He had it enlarged and framed and they gave it to her one year for a gift.  When she passed, her son wanted mom to have it as a memento.  My dad’s niece made my parents promise that if they ever sold the house, she could have the mantel.   When my brother and I were little (1953), this lady in their church made stockings for us and my mom hangs them up every year.  I cropped them out of the picture, because this is not Facebook.

As mom and I were sitting in the den visiting this afternoon, I looked up through the sliding glass door into their back yard, and it was snowing — just not sticking.  When I got back home,   Lo, how a rose e’er blooming in my flower bed was sprinkled with snow.   Three days before Christmas, it’s still blooming.

After having to listen to this rock diva and that country music star warble and butcher all the popular* Christmas carols in practically every business I went into yesterday, I hunted up some little off-piste delights — trained singers singing a carol that hasn’t been sung into the ground because it’s one everybody knows.

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.