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.

Advertisements

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. . . .

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.

Home Baked ECT

Our relative humidity has gone up to 38% from 9% earlier today, but curiously, even though the temperature has gone up about 5F as well, the rise in humidity makes it feel colder, not warmer.  Right now, it’s 33F (0.5C), heading for a high of 70F(21.1C).

My computer guy brought my computer back last night.  He said, just take the side off and blow a fan straight into the box, and I can use it.  Fans, I’ve got.   So I am typing this now on my big girl keyboard.  I love this keyboard so much, I’ve got a new one squirreled away in the closet because this one will wear out.  I love the touch on it.  Very light and fast.  (It’s a gamer keyboard.)

So, sitting in the office, at the ‘puter, eating pineapple chunks for dessert after a meal of Pedro’s beef tamales (their factory burned down, and we didn’t have any for SO LONG, but now it’s been rebuilt and I don’t care if I was in the middle of Walmart, when I saw them in the meat case, I did a happy dance!).  I had three, with a big glop of refried beans on top, a sprinkling of chopped black olives, and some shredded “Mexican four cheeses” on top, zotted in the microwave.  It was sheer nums.  When I opened the can of pineapple chunks, I dumped juice and all into the bowl, and drank the juice when I’d eaten them all. (Did I mention the humidity was 9% earlier today?)

I need to put Burt’s Bees Lip Balm on my shopping list.   I’ve got a tube in my purse, but  I’ve been using Vaseline around the house because I’m afraid if I take the tube out of my purse, I’ll forget to put it back, and be caught out without any.  Vaseline works OK, but Burt’s Bees Lip Balm has peppermint in. . .   I might get a couple of tubes, one for my bedside table, one to put in the junk bowl on my computer desk, and maybe another to put on my reader’s table in the living room. . .

When our humidity dips below 20% I can put two dryer sheets in the dryer, and I still end up playing Rice Krispies clothes.  I run a comb through my hair and it just stands up and roars.  I’m wearing a little flannel lap robe at my desk, and when I get up, if I don’t take my ear buds out before I pull the lap robe off, the static electricity goes right up the ear bud cord straight into my ears.  Gets your attention, I can tell you!   Home baked ECT therapy.

 

 

 

 

Here’s the junk bowl on my computer desk.  As you can see, it has cable needles, a crochet hook, and stitch markers in it, plus a little stylus that came with my phone in case I want a little glittery thing dangling off it all the time.  I have a matching plate on my side table for my carafe.

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve had the bowl a while, and only recently ordered the plate when I saw that the carafe was leaving a ring because if there was any liquid in the spout, it tends to dribble if I tilt it when I pick it up.  The first plate I ordered was evidently drop-kicked at some point during the shipping process, but they were prompt to send me a replacement.

Houston got snow.  This is hilarious because the same front came through us (and was colder) before it got to them.  (The fact that the humidity here was under 20% when the front came through may have had something to do with it.)  I, however, have been having snow flurries in my living room for days now.   I have one finished except for the ribbon, 8 with one side stiffened and glittered,  5 more to crochet, and 6 more to “process” with the fabric stiffener and glitter.  Mom needs them by Wednesday.  I’d best get cracking.

Snuggly-Bugglys

It’s been right nippy.  Down in the low 30’s F(0’s C) at night, and in the 40’s-50’s F (4.4-10 C) during the day.  My heater’s been coming on fairly regularly, especially last night.  It’s 29F (-1.6C) at just after 7 a.m. this morning, and I’ve already been thinking about taking the lap robe off the back of my chair and putting it over my legs.

These past two nights, I’ve been snuggly buggly sleeping under my waffle blanket and bedspread with a microfleece blanket Z-folded at the foot of the bed that I can pull up if I need it.  That back bedroom tends to be a little colder than other parts of the house because of that stupid sliding glass door — but that’s OK.  I like sleeping warm in a cold room.

I think next time I make these slippers, I’m putting a ribbed cuff on them.  They tend to want to pull off unless you wear them over socks.  That said, they do keep my feet warm.

My carafe, which is technically for coffee, is great for hot tea as well.  Three bags is what it takes.  I’m having one made with two bags of Twining Earl Grey and one bag of Stash Double Spice Chai with a small blop of apple juice in.  It’s just lovely, all hot and spicy.

Snowflake crocheting continues.

That’s a size 0 (1.8 mm) hook, BTW.  Those at left will look like the one below once they’ve been blocked, coated with stiff stuff and sprinkled with opalescent glitter.  Alas, the glitter doesn’t photograph well at all, but it makes them glitter like real snow.

The ones I’m working on now have double trebles (dtr) and triple trebles (trtr), and if I never do another picot . . . .