Plus ça Change . . .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*rip-it! rip-it!

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Goings and Doings and Hats

Oh, my.  It’s fooled around and gotten cold on us again.  I feel almost guilty because the northeast is taking such a pounding, and we’re just not even all that cold here.  Still, we’re more than cold enough to suit me. Here’s our five day forecast: And for the Celsius crowd. . .We’re having a “blew” norther.  Mostly it’s just windy and cold.  Again, for perspective, my town is at roughly the same latitude as Casablanca, Morocco — Africa!

I was going to do a blog post sooner, but I got to playing around with a little scenario about three days ago, and the first thing I knew, I had three pages of characters and two chapters.  Sometimes I publish little short pieces in my blog.  I haven’t published any in this iteration, but there are some here from my blog archives.  There used to be a website call Magpie Tales where the lady would post a picture or photograph and we would have to write something inspired by it (Mag Challenge).  She went on to other things, so I’ve been challenging myself — although it’s not much of a challenge since I pick pictures that fit things I’m in the mood to write.   I have no interest in trying to publish anything; I write because I like doing it.  I enjoy the process.

My left knee has been hurting pretty badly.  I broke that kneecap in 1991, and had two surgeries on it — one to repair the kneecap, and one to remove the hardware — and I’m sure my current pain has something to do with that.  I’ve had rotator cuff surgery on my left shoulder, and I have two pinched nerves at my second cervical vertebra on the left from reinjuring that shoulder trying to lift a 40-pound (18.6 kg) bottle of water onto a dispenser stand.  I saw my VA provider (a physician’s assistant/nurse practitioner) (she’s both) when it happened, and saw her again last week because lately both my shoulder and my knee have been hurting so that I was having trouble sleeping.  Predictably, my VA PA said, “Lets throw some pills at it and see what happens.” She prescribed me some diclofenac and put me back on gabapentin.  I do have to say that both medications are working, for once, and I’ve had a great reduction in my pain, which has immensely helped my ability to sleep.

I had to go out today, and when I reached down to put the key in my car’s ignition, I saw the odometer read 11,444.

I’ve been knitting men’s hats and reading, but haven’t finished anything.  I’ve just been like the dormouse at the mad tea party, having difficulty staying awake.  Mostly, I just want to crawl into my teapot and hibernate.

I’ve finally figured out why the fat(cat)boy likes to sleep on this one particular spot on the bed, especially when I’m not in it.  That’s the precise spot where hot air blows out of the air vent onto the bed.  If you want to know what the best seat in the house is, it’s the one the cat’s in. . . .

An Unsettling Episode

I was sitting watching TV this afternoon when the doorbell rang.  It was a man dressed in T-shirt and slacks, who identified himself as a former tenant of my duplex.  I recognized the name he gave because I had gotten his mail, mostly hospital bills.  He said that his son had passed away about three months ago, and that he had first started having seizures while they were living in the duplex.  He said he just wanted to stand outside in the yard and pray for a little bit. (It was obvious he was still very much affected by his son’s death as he teared up and got emotional talking about it. I don’t know how old the son was, but the man looked to be  in his late 30’s, so the son couldn’t have been very old.) I made appropriate responses (what do you say in a situation like that, anyway?) and said it was OK.  He was the one who had planted the roses, apparently.  I apologized that the rose bed badly needed weeding, but he passed this off, saying, “It’s your house now.”

What made it even more disturbing was that the elderly couple who moved out just prior to my moving in were both quite frail.  I got conflicting stories from the landlady as to why they moved.  First she said that a sister was supposed to be moving in with them to help take care of the man and she had a dog, and the landlady didn’t want any more dogs.  Then later she said they moved out because they needed three bedrooms, and the duplex only has two.  The husband really, really didn’t want to move as he really liked the duplex.  Three months after they moved, he died.

And then, since I’ve lived here, some chronic health problems I’ve had for a while have gotten much worse.  Cue the Twilight Zone theme.

I knew the place had terrible feng shui when I moved in, but I’ve done the best I can with it.  Mom was very keen on my living here because she really likes it.  It’s probably five minutes away from her house, driveway to driveway, and it’s important to her to be able to drive by where I live all the time, so there it is.   You do the best you can with what you have.

On a more whimsical note, the other day I had finished eating my daily ration of nine Rolo candies, which come wrapped in tin foil.   Sometimes I spread them out, like four after lunch and five after supper by way of desert, and sometimes I eat all nine at once.  The other day I was blogging, looked over and saw these rolled up balls of tinfoil and thought — owl pellets! Then I cracked up laughing.

 

 

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).

Rainy Wednesday

***In case you didn’t know, Puerto Rico is a U.S. Territory, and Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens.  Help the Red Cross help our own.   Donate to Red Cross hurricane relief here.  Also, the Red Cross always needs blood. ***

Actually, it started raining Sunday and has been raining off and on since then — like, an hour or so of just bucketing down, followed by hours of light sprinkling or mizzling followed by a couple of hours of glowering clouds, and so forth. It’s supposed to be like this all week.  It’s not unexpected.  It “always” rains here during the South Plains Fair, so that the dirt parking lots and dirt fairgrounds can become a goopy mess.  Also they’re gearing up to start stripping cotton, which they can’t do till the fields (and cotton) dries out. One good thing, though; the rain has washed all the ragweed pollen out of the air.

This is the flatlands, remember, so when it rains, water fills the slightest depression till it overflows.  It’ll rain like the dickens for about an hour, water will collect in all the street gutters and at the intersections to about 12-18 inches deep (which means the lanes of traffic closest to the curb/kerb are virtually unusable due to standing water covering most of the lane), and the pickups will just go barreling along at 40 mph like they always do, rooster-tailing great splashes of water when they hit puddles, deluging the cars on either side to the point that you can’t see out your windshield/windscreen for several seconds.  Then, an hour or two later, the water has run off through the storm drains into the numerous playa lakes in the various parks scattered about the city, and the streets are pretty clear of standing water again.   Of course, any underpasses where the roadway is below ground level quickly become impassible.

I had a checkup at the dentist’s Monday (during an interlude of raining cats and dogs), and everything looks OK.  I’m on my last day of antibiotics. I was down to 500 mg of acetaminophen four times a day on Sunday, and stopped taking it completely yesterday and haven’t needed any since.  I should get the crown — the actual tooth part — some time in January.

In the knitting news, I reworked the decreases part of the pattern for “A Little Twisted Hat” and I like it much better. 

You really can’t see the changes too well.  The picture on the left is the old way, and the one on the right is the new way, but you can’t really see the changed part in the picture. — I ran out of the dark orange and had to finish with the light orange, and it doesn’t show up well.  I stopped the twisted cables three rows sooner, and did the decrease from the center of the cable, not decreasing the purl stitches til the very end so that the cable comes to a point with purls on either side.  Looks much better.  I need to make another one in a yarn I’ve got enough of to finish the hat with and take a better picture to put on the pattern.

Also, I’m down to the last ball of yarn on CJ’s shawl.  Soon as I finish it and weave in the ends, both shawls are going to be packed up ready to be mailed to Spokane, WA.  I hear the weather is starting to get cool up there and it’s finally raining some. They are knee deep in a kitchen remodel so I will probably hold off for a couple of weeks until things settle down.  I’ve already got a fair start on one for me.

Adventures in Dentistry and a Short Trip to Atlantis

“The land that lies between ‘Factual’ and ‘True’ is the undiscovered country wherein tales are found. One of the most delightful discoveries one can make in this uncharted land is that a story does not have to be factual to be true.” thus sayeth WOL.

I need a sign that says, “Let Sleeping Dust Lie.”

OK.  So off to this morning’s adventure in dentistry wherein I had to get up at ridiculous o’clock because I had forgotten to get any Ensure or acetaminophen 500 mg tablets, because instead of grocery shopping Sunday morning as I had planned, instead, I drove my mom to the ER because she got waylaid by the norovirus du jour currently making the rounds, had had most of the usual symptoms for four days (mercifully no vomiting), and she and I were both concerned that she was getting dehydrated.  Four Cotton-Picking Hours Later we had a brief glimpse of a doctor who told us these “stomach bugs” are usually self limiting, that for electrolyte replacement, she should have been drinking Pedialyte instead of Gatorade (which is loaded with sugar and only aggravates the diarrhea — which I could have told her without making her wait for four hours).  Totally derailed both our plans for Sunday.  I ended up not going shopping until Monday morning and had to wade through large crowds (including screaming preschool age children) to do so.

Anyway, I had to stop off at Walmart to get Ensure and acetaminophen on my way to my 9 o’clock dentist appointment, and then on my way home had to stop off at Walgreen’s to get $23 worth of antibiotics.

As I mentioned in other posts, after I got that lower molar ‘extracted’, the hole it left was bone grafted.  The graft “took,” and this morning I had the post for the tooth implant put in, which required that the gum be incised so that he could get to the bone, and then stitched back up afterward.  I’m supposed to baby the area and watch what I eat.  Naturally, since I can’t have them, I’m craving these really crunchy crackers I like.  This time, unlike when he “extracted” the tooth (read: drill out the root canal part of the tooth to get it out), his nitrous oxide dohickey was working, so I wandered off to the ozone listening to Kevin Kendle’s “Journey to Atlantis” and didn’t much mind that he was drilling a peg into my jawbone.

Of course, immediately I got home, I popped an antibiotic capsule and two 500 mg acetaminophen, and knocked back an Ensure high protein formula, and did what anybody would do — I took a nap.  The key to pain control is to take pain meds before you need them, so by the time the numbing wore off I had enough acetaminophen on board that when I laid me down to nap, I was comfortable enough to sleep for four hours.

In the meantime, the knitting fairie struck and I had two little outfits to give to the dentist’ s receptionist, who is due in November.  There were a couple of minor blips in that process, however;  one was that I had to rewrite the hat pattern to be knitted in the round.

There are some people who hate knitting on double pointed needles so much that they will knit a hat flat and then sew it up.  And then there are people like me who are unfazed by double pointed needles, but hate to sew knitting.

It seems that there is this whole school of thought that approaches knitting from a sewing standpoint.  In sewing you cut out pieces of cloth and then sew them together to make a garment, so they write knitting patterns like sewing patterns.  You knit the garment in pieces and then sew the pieces together.  No, thank you. I would much rather work out a way to knit the garment as a single seamless piece.

The other blip was that I made a boo-boo in the little pink sweater and didn’t catch it until I was about three inches beyond it.  For about 20 stitches on this one row, I purled where I should have knitted.  Even though this little sweater was knitted flat, I was using double pointed circular needles.  That made it easier to fix.

Allow me to digress into technicalities.  Some people would have ripped the whole thing out back to the mistake and reknitted everything, which would have entailed a lot of time, work, pejoratives and scatological language.  I just ripped out the bit that needed fixing and reknitted just those stitches.

Let me show you what I mean.  Recently I made a booboo in a hat I was working on, and k1, p1, when i should have p1, k1.  it was only 8 stitches, but I had knitted about 4 inches beyond the mistake before I caught it.  Rather than rip out all that work,

I just ripped out those stitches that I messed up — ALL the way back to the mistake. You can see how far I would have had to rip out, if I had ripped the whole thing back to where I flubbed up.  Instead, this way, I just had to reknit 8 stitches for four inches rather than 90 stitches for four inches.

I got out my trusty straight double pointed needles in the same size as the 16-inch circular double pointed needles I was using to knit the hat.  (I have a set of double pointed needles in each size that I have 16-inch circular needles, for doing the decrease to close up the top of the hat.)

I picked up the stitches on a double pointed needle.  Ripping out just those stitches leaves a “ladder” of threads, one thread per row.  I then use a second double pointed needle to  knit each “ladder rung” of thread across the 8 stitches I need to fix, being careful to take the rungs in order working my way back up, rung by rung.

Because the needles have a point at each end, when I got to the end of one row, I just went back to the right end of the needle and started on the next row. And with a little bit of patience and attention, there’s the goof all fixed!  This is one of my Toboggans with the internal ribbing on the hem.  The white bit at the bottom is the cotton yarn I used for the provisional cast on.  This whole little episode speaks to something I do not always do, which is stop frequently and check over the work to catch any errors before I get too far past them. If I hadn’t caught that error before I’d turned the hem, I would have had to rip out clear past the hem, and it would truly have been a big, loud PITA.

In other knitting news, I finished the twisted cable hat. I like the way it turned out.  I need to post it and the rewritten baby hat pattern on my knitting blog.  But not today.  I think I hear some chicken noodle soup calling my name. . . and I need to take my antibiotic dose and a couple of acetaminophen with something in my tum.

 

Aftermaths, Dentistry, and a Baby

Please, donate to the Red Cross.  Nobody is immune to natural disasters, and what goes around, comes around, folks.

Heard from my friend JT who lives in Key West.  They evacuated Thursday afternoon and were holed up in a hotel in Orlando for the duration.  I don’t think they thought Irma was going to track as far east as it did, and Orlando did take a hit, but not a direct hit like the Keys did.  They have the hotel room booked until Saturday.  They should be able to get back by then.  Hopefully, they will have something left to go back to.  I’ve seen footage of the damage in Key West, and it’s pretty bad.  The main thing, though, is that they’re alive and unharmed.

I got a CT of my jaw done this past Monday to see if the bone graft took where I had that lower molar pulled, and the graft has taken.  That means that on the 21st, a large gob of money will be given to my dentist to implant a peg into my jawbone.  Three months after that, he will be given an even bigger gob to put a tooth onto that peg.  I also learned that the dentist’s receptionist/clerk is pregnant with a little girl due possibly at around the first of the year by the look of her, so there will be baby things in the knitting news.

However, currently in the knitting news is that I have finished three hats and a shawl.  The shawl pattern is Malguri Morning, one of two I’m doing for friends in Washington State.  It’s done in Loops & Threads Charisma yarn, “Northern Lights” and “Electric Blue” colorways.  The other one has about a ball and a half of yarn left to go and has been bumped back in the queue again due to the fact that their kitchen is in the process of being remodeled, and BABY STUFF KNITTING!

I finished two ribbed toboggans and a Simple Pleasures hat, and I am working on a new pattern I’m calling a Little Twisted Hat (at right).  I’ll post that pattern when I’ve figured out how many cable crosses are needed before the decreases can start.

 

 

 

 

The toboggans are the ones above (camo chemo!) and the Simple Pleasures one is to the right.  I’ve got five other hats started, but two are stalled, one has to be half ripped out and rethought, and the remaining two just have to be finished.  They will be on hold, however, until I get baby stuff out of the way.  I’m going to see how many baby things I can knit between now and the 21st. They already know it’s going to be a little girl, and I have pink yarn and lavender yarn, and yellow yarn . . . I’ve also got a ChiaoGoo size US 11 (8.o mm) 60-inch circular needle on order and two big balls of a nice yellow yarn, so there may be a baby afghan at some point.  We’ll see.