No, we will not sit down. We will not shut up.
None of us is free until all of us are free.
No, we will not sit down. We will not shut up.
None of us is free until all of us are free.
My mom and my BFF came for Christmas dinner at my house today. Although I sent leftovers home with them, there is still way too much food in my fridge. . . delicious food. I can hear it calling my name . . .
I managed to get both the knitted presents (one apiece) finished on time and in my BFF’s case, just in time for nasty weather. This is a combination hat/scarf (“harf”) I made for her from a pattern I’m working on. This is actually the proof of concept version. It’s close to what I wanted but not quite there yet. The panel across the back of the head needs to be wider to give the hat portion a deeper “cup. ” But as it stands, it’s deep enough to stay on the head and to cover the ears, which is what I needed it to do. I’ve got some more Charisma yarn, which has a very soft, snuggly hand. It’s not grey, but a different color called “Northern Lights.”The Mark II version is several projects back in the queue though.
The pattern starts on the top of the head using Turkish cast on. The hat portion is knitted all of a piece, working around in a “U” shape from the center line. Then when you get to where the tails divide, you add a second ball of yarn and knit both tails “two at a time.” Of course, you could knit it from end to end, fold it in half and then inset the panel that forms the back of the hat — but here’s the kicker — the Turkish cast on makes it look like it was knitted from end to end because the cast on is absolutely seamless. When I get it looking (and working) like I want it to, I will publish the pattern on my knitting website. I got this finished just in time. I’m glad I got it finished in time to give it to her today because she’s going to need it come Sunday, when it’s supposed to get colder than the proverbial wedge and snow on us.
I also did this scarf for my mom. It’s in “honecomb stitch” I like the style of it and how it “works.” After you’ve knitted 6 inches of honeycomb stitch, you put every other stitch off onto a separate needle, tie on a second ball of yarn, and knit about 4 inches of K1, P1 ribbing with each group of stitches, then put them all back onto one needle again, and continue the honeycomb stitch. This makes a little ribbed “sleeve” for the other end of the scarf to slide through and holds it on your neck. I’m writing a pattern for another scarf in the same style using the same yarn except instead of using the honeycomb stitch, I’m using feather and fan stitch.
I finished another baby sweater in variegated pink yarn and I’m working on a dress as well as a baby afghan for the baby coming in April.
I ran across this today: The catchphrase “There’s an (smart phone) app for that” has taken on an interesting new meaning in the form of an app called “Be My Eyes.” There may be hope for humanity yet. Makes me wish I could afford a smart phone.
If you’re looking for an easy craft project for a small gift, or as a fund raiser (especially for our beleaguered libraries), this is it. Book Mice are simple to make, take a minimum of materials and you can make a wad of them for very little outlay of cash for materials. What you need are:
1. A darning needle with an eye small enough to get the small beads over, but large enough to thread yarn through.
2. Some means of enlarging a hole in leather, such as a nail, awl or ice pick or, if you don’t mind ruining the needle, a pair of needle nose pliers, so you can get a needle threaded with yarn through the leather.
3. A pair of sturdy scissors that will cut leather.
4. A marker or ball point pen.
5. A small piece of stiff paper to make the patterns.
1. Fairly thin leather such as split cow hide or leather-like material such as Naugahyde in dark brown. (Most stores that sell leather have a scraps bin which scraps they typically sell by the square inch.)
2. Small 4.0 mm dark wooden or black or brown glass beads, two for each mouse you plan to make.
3. Pony bead size dark wooden or dark brown or black glass beads, one for each mouse you plan to make.
4. A small skein of dark brown or black lace-weight or fingering-weight yarn (size “0” or “1”).
For each book mouse, you will need two “body” pieces and two ears, two small beads for eyes, one large bead for the tail and six 28-inch long pieces of yarn .
The idea is to sew the eye on through the ear, and down into the body. With three pieces of yarn threaded on the darning needle, push the needle up from the underside of one of the body pieces, up through the ear toward the pointed end, through a small bead, then back down through the same hole in the ear and the body. Even up the ends of the yarn so that the bead is about in the middle of the piece of yarn.
Glue the bottom body piece to the underside of the mouse, making sure the pieces are completely stuck together all the way to the edges. Let the glue dry. Place something heavy on the mouse body so that you can braid the tail. Once the tail is braided, slip the large bead over the end of the tail and knot the tail to hold the bead on. And there you have it. One Book Mouse.
A carryover from the Crayola, the old 1987 Toyota Corolla that got traded in for the Silver Beetil, the new 2015 Toyota Corolla — a year old next month, actually — is the little Teletubby plushie keychain fob I’ve had, seemingly forever, dangling from the rear-view mirror of the Crayola, and now from the Silver Beetil, that helps me spot the Beetil in a parking lot (you’d be astonished at how many late-model silver sedans there are in this town).
If you know anything about the Teletubbies, there are four of them, each a different color: Green, purple, yellow and red. They each have a name, Tinky-Winky, Dipsy, Lala, and Po, respectively. I have the red one, Po. (Mine has now faded to pink. The Texas sun is brutal that way.) There’s an explanation that I do when somebody asks about it, or when I want to point it out: “It’s a Teletubby, it’s Po. I relate to Po. I’m po’, too.” It’s a pun/carom off the Southern/Afro-American pronunciation of “poor” as “poh” (the origin of the “po'” in “po’boy sandwich“). (Black American Vernacular pronunciation typically elides final consonants.) I did the schtick for the East Indian-American salesman at Gene Messer, where we got the new Toyota, and it sailed right by him, but the Black man who happened to be walking by at the time and who overheard it, cracked up, because he totally got it.
Anyway, Po changed cars when I did, because I’m still po’. Even more so, now that my car insurance premium has tripled. And, let’s face it. Nobody likes to be poor. I certainly don’t. And I am poor. My monthly/annual income from Social Security falls between 100% and 120% on the Federal poverty guidelines, (i.e., between “at poverty level” and “just really poor,” according to the Federal Gummint)
Anyway, what started me off on this whole tack was looking at how many books I’ve reread this year owing to not having anything new to read. There for a while, I could budget $20 a month for books. If you buy used books through Amazon that could be as many as 5 books a month (I’m averaging 13 at the moment), which is about right. I got a Kindle because of my space problem — I only have room for five bookcases now(!), so I can only keep the books I know I will want to reread multiple times — but ebooks/Kindle books are almost as expensive as the dead tree editions — anywhere from $11-$25 a book depending on how old the book is, and the genre. Yep. The proverbial rock on the one hand and the proverbial hard place on the other. Sigh. And the libraries here have nothing I consider interesting/fit to read.
I know. I should count my blessings. I have a roof over my head that (mostly) doesn’t leak, a nice sized apartment (600+ square feet) that is weather tight and in good repair, that I can afford to heat and cool. I can afford to eat regularly. I have shoes to wear and decent, climate-appropriate clothes. I have a nice car (bought with my dad’s life insurance money) and I can afford a tank of gas a month. I have TV and internet, and a rinky little cellphone. I’m able to scrape by without having to work, thanks to my mom, so I can be available to travel whenever she wants to. I have my health. Life could be a whole lot worse. Still, I feel entitled to see the glass as half empty if I want to, and I wouldn’t be human if I didn’t wish that what the glass was half-full of was good German beer and not water . . . grumble . . . grumble . . .
I also have a left arm full of flu shot, which I got Thursday at the VA. My arm was somewhat sore yesterday, and today apparently, my shoulder and upper arm have the flu and that particular region is not happy with me at all. As I was driving home from the VA, I also noticed that in the big vacant lot behind the VA clinic, there is a prairie dog (Cynomys ludovicianus) burrow. I did a double take, and sure enough. Three of them at the entrance to a burrow. Really odd to see any inside the city limits — or to see one at all, as almost all the land use around the city is for farming and farmers (and ranchers) consider them pests.
While I was out, I got my car tags renewed as they were due for renewal this month — They’ve changed the procedure. It used to be that once a year, you had to get your car inspected for road-worthiness at a State Inspection Station, and they gave you a sticker; and once a year, you had to get your vehicle registration, for which they also gave you a sticker. You had to have both stickers and they both had to be valid, or any law enforcement officer who notices they aren’t will give you a traffic citation; however, having one was not a prerequisite for getting the other. Now, you have to have a valid state inspection first, which they give you a receipt for and the inspector registers it in the Department of Motor Vehicles computer. Then you go to a county clerk’s office, they look you up in the DMV computer database, and see that you have a valid state inspection and give you your new license plate and/or registration sticker (that’ll be $66, thank you very much). So now, you just have the registration sticker on your windshield /windscreen instead of a registration sticker and an inspection sticker. Apart from having one less sticker to fool with, it also assures that nobody gets a registration sticker unless the car has passed inspection within the past year. Anyway, that’s done and paid for, for another year.
Recently I’ve noticed that we’re sliding around to that part of the year where I’m going to have to start wearing more clothes inside. It became apparent to me just now that my usual summer attire of a cotton tee-shirt dress and bare foots isn’t enough clothes. I need to get busy and finish my new pair of sock feet because having bare feet on cold floors is now becoming undesireable. The high for Monday is supposed to be 68 F/20 C, and the highest high in the five-day forecast is 80 F/26.6 C. It’s going to fool around and get winter on us, if we’re not careful . . .
I have the extension cord, but I need to move my dining room table so I can move my china cabinet and plug it into the wall outlet behind the china cabinet, so I can use my sewing machine. I really need to get those lap robes done. I’ve had the microfleece blankets to make them from for over a year. However, there has been a tendency for roundtuits to be thin on the ground . . .
The Smithsonian Institution has turned to crowd-sourcing and has launched a Kickstarter campaign, “Reboot the Suit,” to obtain funds to preserve, digitize and display the space suit that Neil Armstrong wore when he walked on the moon, right down to the moon dust that still clings to it. There are 16 days to go on the kickstarter campaign. I saw that spacesuit walk on the moon in 1969, live and real-time, as it happened. The Smithsonian had hoped to raise $500,000 to achieve that goal. I gave what I could afford, which I am embarrassed to say wasn’t much, but I am delighted to say that the original goal has been reached and passed.
They now have a “stretch goal” of raising $700,000, with the extra $200,000 to go to preserving, digitizing and displaying Alan Shepherd’s space suite, that he wore during the initial Mercury launch when he became the first American in space. All of this campaign is aimed toward the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, and a new exhibit which will detail what it took to get us to the moon and how we got there.
I am particularly interested by the idea of “digitizing” these suits:
“3D scanning the Armstrong spacesuit gives us the chance to put the suit directly into your hands. With a 3D scan of the suit, you can take a self-guided tour and explore the functions of each of the suit’s 21 layers (check out 3D models of other iconic Smithsonian collection objects). You can make a 3D print of Armstrong’s glove and slip it over your hand. Teachers will have a dynamic new tool for talking about the technology required for living and working in space. 3D scanning also ensures that our conservators and curators have an accurate picture of the suit in its current condition, helping to monitor and preserve the suit and protect it from further deterioration.”
Anyway, I’m signal boosting this to spread the word. There’s 16 days left on the campaign. Pledge. $11 isn’t all that much. Every little bit helps. This is our history, history I was privileged to witness happen. It’s part of our legacy to the future.
“If, out of fear, you are constantly watching for danger, you will find it everywhere, and your world will shrink until your fear is all it has room for.” That is the useless bit of nonsense I learned from the silly little fairy tale of escapist fiction I just finished reading. Books that teach you such paltry things as that couldn’t possibly be great literature. The book is called Od Magic, by Patricia McKillip, if you’re interested. The small stone it became and the others I’ve collected over the years are here.
It’s been all over the news, the New Horizons flyby of Pluto. OK. First thing to take away. Clyde Tombaugh discovered Pluto in 1930. The best image obtainable at the time was a speck on a photographic plate (see arrow at left). Pluto is smaller than our moon and has an orbital period of 248 years, so we’ve only been able to plot its orbital trajectory for a little less than 85 years, and we’ve only been able to achieve an “aim something at it” level of accuracy for the past 15 years or so.
The mission to Pluto was launched in 2006, and it took the New Horizons craft 9-1/2 years to travel over 3 billion miles — that’s “billion” with a “B” — to Pluto. (Light from Pluto takes 4-1/2 hours to reach the Earth.) Unfortunately, although New Horizons was exactly where it was supposed to be when it arrived, it got there 72 seconds early. Well, dang. That’s a disappointing 99.9% accuracy.
The New Horizon spacecraft is the size of a grand piano with a large salad bowl atop it, only has two 32 GB hard drives on it, and has a one track mind — it cannot send and receive data at the same time, — so we had to white knuckle the flyby and wait until it was over to find out if the spacecraft survived it’s passage through the debris field between Pluto and its moon Charon. Because it can only transmit data at 1 to 2 Kbps (!), it’s going to take over 16 months for the New Horizons spacecraft to transmit all 64 GB of its data — that’s apparently all you got for $720 million in 2006. Just for comparison, my computer (bought in 2011) has a 500 GB hard drive (almost 8 times larger) and, according to the Geek Squad, I have a data transmission speed of 5.32 Mbps (1 Mb =1024 Kb), which is 5447.68 times faster.
Still, we’re getting a pretty good bang for our buck so far. This is Hubble’s best shot of Pluto at left compared to New Horizons’ first high resolution image at right.
Collaborating with the New Horizons team is Dr. Brian May. You may have heard of him. Before he got his Ph.D. in astrophysics, he played lead guitar in this rock band called “Queen” That’s him in 1974, second from right.
What I’m waiting for is for Discovery Channel or National Geographic Channel or one of those other “science” channels to do a show with him and Neil deGrasse Tyson talking about Pluto and getting their geek on.
Oh, and I forgot to mention. Clyde Tombaugh died in 1997 at the age of 90, and never got to see the close up images of that little pinpoint of light he found back in 1930, but on the New Horizons spacecraft is a small canister containing some of his cremains, and the legend: “Interned herein are remains of American Clyde W. Tombaugh, discoverer of Pluto and the solar system’s “third zone.” Adelle and Muron’s boy, Patricia’s husband, Annette and Alden’s father, astronomer, teacher, punster, and friend: Clyde W. Tombaugh (1906-1997).” Also on the spacecraft is a CD-ROM with the names of over 434,000 people who wanted to participate vicariously in this historic exploration. I’m sorry I didn’t know about that. I’d have wanted my name on that CD, too.
I was thinking just now: My mom will be 91 on her next birthday. She was born in 1924 during the age of radio. She was 2-1/2 years old when Lindbergh flew across the Atlantic. She was 6 years old when Pluto was discovered. She was 21 when the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan. She was 23 when Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier in a jet aircraft in 1947. She was in her middle 20’s when the television age began and she saw the Apollo 11 moon landing broadcast live from the moon. She was 53 the year the Apple II person computer came out, and she learned to use a desktop computer running the MS-DOS version of WordPerfect word processing software during her last years as a secretary for the law firm she worked for until she retired. (She’s still using the computer she got when she retired, BTW, which runs Word Perfect from MS-DOS and has a floppy disk drive!) She has seen the various space shuttle missions. She’s seen the International Space Station, and the three Mars Rovers, and now she’s seen Pluto. Unfortunately, she’s not likely to live long enough to see humans land on Mars. I hope I do.
This evening, I found the poem below by David Whyte, in Terri Windling‘s blog, Myth and Moor, hidden in her lovely photographs of where she lives in Devon, near Chagford. (Mouse over the photographs in her blog post and you will find it, too.) As you can see from this and her other photographs, Devon is deep in the throes of spring and lies under sunny skies. Terri has the wonderful opportunity to walk through this magical landscape at will, accompanied always by her black Labrador dog, Tilly.
She suggests perhaps I should be out walking through my own magical landscape, finding my place in it, and picking up where I left off. I am gently reminded not to look back at what has been left behind, but to look ahead and around at what I still have left. I said the same to my mother at supper Thursday, how my camera and I need to go on “expotitions” to the magical places in my own world. I know they are there, where they have been all along, waiting for me to rediscover them again. And now I have a silver cloud and new shoes to take me there.
Be infinitessimal under that sky, a creature
even the sailing hawk misses, a wraith
among the rocks where the mist parts slowly.
Recall the way mere mortals are overwhelmed
by circumstance, how great reputations
dissolve with infirmity and how you,
in particular, live a hairsbreadth from losing
everyone you hold dear.
Then, look back down the path as if seeing
your past and then south over the hazy blue
coast as if present to a wide future.
Remember the way you are all possibilities
you can see and how you live best
as an appreciator of horizons,
whether you reach them or not.
Admit that once you have got up
from your chair and opened the door,
once you have walked out into the clean air
toward that edge and taken the path up high
beyond the ordinary, you have become
the privileged and the pilgrim,
the one who will tell the story
and the one, coming back
from the mountain,
who helped to make it.