Giving It Up For Lent

What I gave up for Lent is all but about an inch of my hair.   Sat down in the stylist’s chair Wednesday, and told her to cut it.  She asked how much I wanted cut off, and I said, “About a foot.”  It’s getting thin, it’s so flyaway, the ends were all split and chewed up, and it took forever to dry . . . .  Anyway, done deal.   Moving right along.

Finishing hats.  Finished this one and posted the pattern.

Going to start working on finishing some other stuff for a while.  A lot of UFO*s taking up space and needles.  Hats will still be happening, just not so much.

I should go through my UFOs and frog the ones I know I’m not going to finish, and start finishing some of the others.   Whether I actually do it or not remains to be seen.  BLAH!

Sneaking up on spring.  Going to be getting back into the hot weather and high electric bills.

Loving my big ball bowl. *UFO – UnFinished Object.

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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!

Watch Out For Those Traps, Booby

My dad used to say that when my brother or I blundered into one of life’s little booby traps.  — like this one.

Where I have this hung, the minute I walk in the door, I see it.  I got it because it’s a good motto, but also it reminded me of a certain four footed housemate. Only, a week ago, where it was hung didn’t matter.  Now it hits a raw place every time I walk in the door and see it.   In case you can’t read the writing, it says “Happy is the house that shelters a friend.”

Then there’s the clock . I painted the tip of the pendulum tail white because it was totally appropriate.

Then, I was FINALLY getting around to putting the lawn chair that has been leaning against the wall in my bedroom for months, into the garage (the back door is conveniently located in my bedroom — !) and when I picked it up, I found this behind it. It’s the second kitty toy I have chanced upon this week, but this one is in much better shape than the other one, which I threw away.  This one I’m keeping.

Monday and yesterday I gathered up the just opened bag of cat food, the two unopened packets of treats, and the one just opened, dishes, brushes, a cat bed, a cat mat, and his Littermaid and schlepped it all out to the car and donated it to a kitty shelter on the way to the pet cemetery and crematorium, which is way the heck out in the country halfway to Slide, to pick up his little cremains, which are slightly too fat for the little container I got for them, but I taped the lid down. . . .

It’s the black one with the gold leopard spots.  If you are familiar with the Peanuts newspaper comic strip, then you know about the rich fantasy life the dog Snoopy had.  I always thought the fat(cat)boy fantasized about being a “jagular” or a leopard.

They’re all there, all five of them.  Yeah, it’s kind of shrine-like, but they were my dear companions for all of 21 years — Shadow for 7 years, Jett for 12 years, Gobi for nearly 16 years, Stormie for 11 years, and Jaks for 10.  There will not be any more for a while.

My mom will be 94 this year, and while she is in full possession of significantly more of her marbles than a lot of people half her age, and is active, with no health problems except that she’s almost 94, that could change in an instant.   Once her situation is inevitably resolved, I hope there will be two more kitties.  That’s what I want to happen anyway.  Heaven knows, there unfortunately is not likely to be any shortage of kitties in need of good homes any time soon.

So I’ve been coping with my loss the way women have traditionally coped since time immemorial. I’ve been cleaning house. I washed bathmats and “guest” towels, and the leopard print beach towels that are covering where my leather furniture is worn on the chair seat edges or scratched on the sofa back.  I neatened my charity men’s hats yarn stash.  (there’s a whole plastic storage tub full of yarn in the closet, too, but that is for ladies’ hats.  That yarn is way too “gay-ly” colored for the men in this part of the country. )

About 9:30 this morning, my other side neighbor plonged on the doorbell and told me there was a leak in the alley by our water meter.  I went to look and it’s like a small spring is flowing forth from one “track” of the tire tracks down the alley and is making a small river.  I called the utility company and they knew about it — It had been going since yesterday, they’d marked it with little flags, and since water is only flowing, not gushing, they will deal with it when they get a “roundtoit.” If not tomorrow or the next day, then some time next week.  In the meantime, we have this river we have to jump to get to the dumpsters.  The important thing is, though, that the leak is before the water meter, not after, so it’s their nickle, not my landlady’s that is flowing down the alley.

I found this and it was too great not to share.  You may not be familiar with the kinetic sculptures of Theo Jensen.  If not follow the link. They are fascinating to watch.    This one is powered not by wind, but by hamster.  The look on the cat’s face is priceless.  The sphere is perforated so the hamster won’t suffocate.  Must be a real trip for the hamster, in both senses of the word. . . .

I started a “sectioned hat” and put a ribbed hem on it.  I want to do another version with a simple ribbed brim, and a smaller purl stripe, but — new rule — I can’t start anything new until I finish all the hats I’ve got started (about 5!). I also need to finish my cousin’s man cowl.

Tomorrow, I need to pay bills, go through my files and shred a bunch of stuff, ford the stream and take the shreddings out to the dumpster, and hang some pictures.  It’s late and I should go to bed so I can get up tomorrow and do that. so I will.  позже*.

*позже = later.

Things That Go Bump In The House

So far, so good. I got the kitty bed, the brushes, the water bowls I used before I got the pet fountain, the food and treats all packed up and I’ve emailed the local Humane Society about donating them and the Littermaid poop box, which works.  I hate to dumpster the poop box since it does work.  I plan to box up the food bowls I’m keeping as well as the pet fountain.  My mom said I ought to think about not having any more kitties ever again.  I thought about it — for about 5 seconds, and rejected that idea.  However, mom is 94 this year, and while she is in very good health for her age, with no chronic illnesses or health issues other than her age, that situation could change very rapidly.  I don’t foresee getting more kitties until after she is gone.

I got the baby bonnet finished today.  I get my teeth cleaned tomorrow, and the pink hat I did Friday and this bonnet, and the dress that matches it, are going to the dentist’s receptionist, who had a baby in November.  The larger of the two hats I made for her is now getting too small, and that’s what the toboggan is for.  Getting that finished freed up a 16-inch US 6 needle for another hat.  I need to see how many hats I can finish next week.

I think the little dress that goes with the bonnet is so sweet.  The receptionists little baby ought to be big enough to wear it come Easter.

I do need to keep busy and occupied.  I got a little spooked last night realizing I was alone in the house.  I’ve always had a tendency to get a little spooked and jumpy at night, and some of the medication I’m on exacerbates that tendency.  As I’ve mentioned, this is the first time in 21 years that I’ve not had kitties.  Suddenly realizing I am utterly alone in the house is not helping.  I’ll habituate but it may take a while.  I’ve heard “stray noises” twice this evening and that’s gotten me a little jumpy.  I’ve just got to keep my mind engaged, which is fine until I lie down, turn the light out and try to go to sleep.

I may try to write a hat pattern tonight, now that I’ve freed up that hat needle.  I’ve been wanting to write one for an “orange section” hat that looks like a peeled orange.   I might do that here directly.   I might do a version with a ribbed brim, and then do a toboggan version with a hemmed brim and internal ribbing

Hats and Cowls and Booby Traps

There is no kitty in the house any more.  I’m having a hard time getting my mind around that.  It’s the first time in 21 years that there hasn’t been at least one kitty in my house.   Until now, after I lost one, there were others.  When I lost Sister, I had Jett and Gobi for comfort.  When I lost Jett, I had Gobi, Stormie, and Jaks for comfort.  When I lost Gobi, I had Stormie and Jaks for comfort.  When I lost my baby girl, I still had Jaks for comfort, but this time I had to come home to an empty house.  A house full of booby traps.  The first thing that hit me when I came in the door was the sound of the pet fountain.

I knew yesterday that today would be the fat(cat)boy’s last day, but I let everything be perfectly normal until I got the cat carrier out.  I didn’t take up his dish, or turn off the pet fountain.  So of course the first sound I heard when I walked in the door was that pet fountain. The kitties loved it.  It’s ceramic, it can be put in the dish washer, it has charcoal and foam filters and runs off an aquarium pump.  I think I’m going to put it up on the counter and let it run for a while; otherwise I think the silence would be unbearable.

I went into the back bedroom to change, saw the bed, and saw his towel, which was his sleeping place.  I would have stripped the bed and done laundry today anyway, and I’ll do it in a while only not just now.  There were kitty toys on the floor.  I had to sit down for a moment.  At some point I’m going to have to go around with a flashlight and a getter-outerer of some kind and fish all the kitty toys out from under the furniture.  Only just not today.  I’m going to have to clean up and dispose of his poop box, but that can wait until tomorrow.  I need to gather up the container of unused litter, and the bag of food and treats I bought him just this Monday and take them to the Humane Society.  I’ve got some other errands to run Monday, and that will be one more errand on the list.

I went to get a glass of tea, and there was the bag of treats in the refrigerator.  I’d given him some last night.  I always kept the opened bags in the refrigerator.  He did love his treats.  When I went anywhere that I had to be gone a while, I would pour about 15 into my hand and toss them up in the air in my bedroom for them to scatter all over the carpet for him to hunt.

He evidently had a hard time being in the pet hotel this last time, and even bit the little girl trying to get him out of his room and into the carrier, which he had never done before.  I had to go stand on a stool and get him down from the highest perch and put him in the carrier.   He was more clingy than he had ever been once I brought him home.  He followed me about from room to room.  He would walk me to the front door when I left to go out and he would hear the garage door, and me opening the front door and be waiting for me in the living room when I came back.  It’s almost as if he knew his days with me were numbered.

It’s going to hurt like hell for a while, but life will go on.  Already is going on.  I started a baby hat yesterday afternoon and sat knitting it in the living room with the fat(cat)boy on the footstool beside my feet.  Finished it late last night. Just finished making a pompom for it and weaving in the ends.  I’m going to cast on for a man cowl for my cousin and knit a little bit on it, then get up and round up all the Humane Society donatables and put them in the car.  Then I’ll shower and wash my hair, strip the bed and start a load of washing.  I need to finish a baby bonnet that goes with a baby dress and I need to get it done before Monday.   I have to follow a pattern line by line for that, and that will keep my mind occupied.   When I’ve finished the bonnet, I’ve got chemo hats to work on.

I’ll survive.  I’ll take it one step at a time, one task at a time, one day at a time.

 

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. . .

The Problem With Having Big Balls . . .

One of those super bulky yarn cakes winds into a really big ball, too big for my little yarn bowl.   It tends to either scoot the bowl or hop out of it when I pull more out because the ball is too big and heavy to turn freely.   The yarn ball is also too tall for my big yarn bowl that has a lid.  But the lady at the cancer center where I donate the hats said they need more men’s hats, and I’ve got two more cakes of this super bulky yarn, and I’m doing a baby afghan from a really big ball as well.   Super bulky is such big yarn that knots are problematic, so I’m not cutting the yarn to make smaller balls.  — Being able to knit the whole article from one continuous unbroken strand of yarn is optimal.   So what to do?

What I decided I needed was a big, deep, heavy bowl that would allow a ball of yarn this large  to roll around freely.  Turns out Wayfair. com did have just what I need.   It’s big and heavy, and the yarn feeds out through one of the notches just so nicely.  It’s kind of classy looking, too.  And, it was on sale. What more could you want?  So there’s that problem sorted.

What’s in it at the moment is another toboggan out of a really muted, light colored mix of yarn.

 

 

 

 

Early this morning, I made some pasta (nothing like a big pot of boiling water to add some humidity to the air!).  I thought what I’d bought was spaghetti, but when I got the package out, it said ‘linguini.’  No biggie.  I broke the sticks into thirds and chopped a small onion, and emptied two cans of Wolf Brand Chili into my casserole dish, to which I added the linguini.  I’m having a bowl at the moment, covered with sprinkle cheese, melted in the microwave, with a toasted English muffin on the side.  It’s just the thing for winter eating.

The Mossman Hat pattern I’m working on has a ribbed brim that folds, and three rows of stockinette where it is supposed to fold.  I’ve written two versions of the pattern, one for worsted weight yarn with knit/purl two stitches together on the decreases, but that’s too bunchy for superbulky yarn, so I wrote another version with a sl1, psso decrease which I think will work just fine.  You can see how big that ball of yarn still is even after I’ve knitted that much of the hat from it.  When you’re just casting on, the ball is ‘yuge.*’

Anyway, as today is Tuesday, I need to go wash my hair so it will be dry by time to go to knitting group.

 

*I could get all bent out of shape about the durn New Yorkers who don't know there's an "h" in "huge," but then there's more than a few good ol' boys in this neck of the flatlands who don't know there's an "r" in "throw."