Thoughts on a Thursday Afternoon

So, it’s about 3:30, I’ve just finished a leisurely lunch (roast beef with onions and celery, skins-and-all mashed potatoes, and mixed veg of string beans and carrots)(num!). I’m sitting at the computer(s). I have one of the puzzles I made on Jigsaw Planet up on the left screen (photograph of a frilled jelly (Chiarella centripetalis) against a navy blue background)(!). On the right screen, I have YouTube on the Firefox browser and WordPress on the Google browser.

I have a bowl of knitting — a swirly hat. Dead simple knitting. (Evenly divide the total number of stitches into sections and make them swirl one direction or the other by putting a k2tog on one edge of the section and a yarn over at the other. The panel “swirls” toward whichever side the yarn over is on. Crown decreases with a k3tog instead of a k2tog.

If you want a tight swirl, you do the k2tog, yo thing every row. If you want a looser swirl, you alternate the k2tog, yo thing with a row of knit stitches.) (I am loosely swirling.)

I’m pleasantly full of a good lunch, sitting and knitting, and listening to Mozart piano sonatas, as you do, and that little rocking octaves in the baseline thing Wulfi does catches my attention, and it occurs to me that Mozart (and Beethoven) does that little trick a lot. And then it occurs to me that both composers were writing at that time at the end of the 18th century when the pianoforte is gradually taking over from the harpsichord (because brass instruments, but that’s another tangent). The instrument had not yet evolved into its final form and composers hadn’t had enough time yet to fully explore the instrument’s capabilities and modify their performance techniques to exploit them. And I realize that this little rocking octaves thing (the thumb on one note and the little finger on the same note but an octave lower, alternating quickly between the two notes eight or ten times by quickly rocking the hand from side to side) is a harpsichord technique (ditto the rapid repeated striking of the same bass chord or notes) that’s been carried over to the pianoforte.

The name of that game is sostenuto. String instruments (violin, viola, cello, etc.) played with a bow can sustain (hold) a note from one end of the bow to the other. A wind instrument (clarinet, flute, oboe, bassoon, etc.) can hold a note until the player runs out of breath. But the harpsichord is a plucked string instrument. You press a key, you get a note, and that’s it. The sound isn’t all that loud to begin with and it dies out rapidly. And that rocking octave thing, and the repeated striking of the same note/chord are workarounds to get a sustained note/chord you can set the tweedly-tweedly bits against.

But here’s the thing. It’s called a “pianoforte”because in the language of music, which is Italian BTW, piano means “quiet”and forte means “loud” — which gives you an important clue about the main difference between the pianoforte and the harpsichord. You can’t get any volume to speak of out of a harpsichord. It’s mechanics. No matter how hard you hit the keys, pling is all you get. (Most harpsichords have two separate keyboards and two separate sets of strings, and a way to “slave” one keyboard to the other to double the volume.) You put a harpsichord together with more than a dozen string and wind instrument (even using both keyboards) and the other instruments will flat drown it out.

The pianoforte, however, plays notes by having a hammer hit a string, and there is a direct correlation between how hard you press the key and how hard the hammer hits the string. This is the first time there’s been a (portable) keyboard instrument with dynamics — the ability to vary the volume of the notes played for dynamic effect. Strings have that ability. So do wind instruments. But not until the pianoforte do you have a keyboard instrument that can hold its own against an orchestra. (I’m not counting the pipe organ, because it’s not something Herr Gottbucks is going to get for the 18th century version of the family rec room so they can have the neighbors over for a fun evening of sight reading trio sonatas.)(Yes, they actually did that.)

So, Mozart and Beethoven are transitional composers, and a lot of their music for the pianoforte has holdover techniques from the harpsichord. As you progress through the sonatas chronologically, you can hear how Mozart is coming to terms with this new instrument and beginning to exploit its dynamics. Beethoven comes along somewhat later (he idolized Mozart and wanted to become his student, but somehow that didn’t happen), still using those rocking octaves and repeated notes, but using them to add an emotional undercurrent to his music.

There’s a neologism in Lewis Carroll‘s poem “Jabberwocky” (the poem features in his book Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland) that to my mind perfectly captures Beethoven: “frumious” it’s a portmanteau word that combines “fuming” and “furious.” Mozart is agile, elegant, a tad effete, and a bit of a show-off. Beethoven is one intense dude; we’re talking major league Sturm und Drang here. His music clearly has an emotional undercurrent, and the level of that emotion is turned up to 11. Mozart happens at the culmination of that orgy of cerebration that was the Enlightenment. Beethoven gets in at the ground floor of that emo-fest that is the Romantic Movement. Listen to the entire Moonlight Sonata, not just the played-to-death first movement, but the whole thing. That second movement is ne plus emo. I like Beethoven, but only in small doses.

But in the closing chapters of this Thursday afternoon, Mozart and I are sitting quietly, knitting a hat, (working my jigsaw to give my hands a break). And seriously considering getting up and making a pot of tea. And maybe some toast.

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It Fooled Around And Snowed On Us

I know you folks up north have had enough snow to last you til the peanut butter season, but we don’t get it that often. So I wasn’t all that upset when I got up for a drink of water about 3 AM, looked out the window and saw this:

We got about 7 inches, which was a record snowfall for this date (stop laughing, Canada!). We don’t get all that much snow here (We are at the same latitude as Damascus in Syria.). We were lucky that it wasn’t cold enough for the roadways to ice all that much. It was wet snow, clumpy and clingy. Thank goodness I didn’t have to get out in it. We needed the moisture, though. We always do. We’ll take it any way we can get it.

This is the building where mother lives. I went to see her this afternoon to take her the Starbuck’s clear plastic covered tumbler I got her to help her drink more water. It holds 24 ounces. If she could just drink one of those a day, that would help her so much. Fortunately, there’s a way to get from hither to yon without going outside.

The activities director wants to start a group here for knitters and crocheters and embroiderers and hand quilters, etc. — There’s a signup sheet for folks to sign up and indicate their preference for day and time. The idea being to find a place and time where we can gather to ply our hobby of choice and sit and socialize with like-minded folks.

I magpied out again. Two more pieces from that Ukrainian artist who is now living in Poland. I’ve gotten quite a collection of fossil ammonite jewelry. They came today. A necklace and a pin. Her pieces have elements of Art Nouveau with their rhythmic, flowing lines and organic shapes. I do like them.

In the knitting news, in a word, hats. I’m just to the point where I’m ready for the top decreases on the green one. As much as I love the Red Heart Unforgettable yarn, it ‘s splitty to begin with, but on a US 6/4.0 mm needle, and doing cables, it’s been driving me nuts. The other hat is made from Lion Brand Re-Spun yarn (colorway Blush) that is spun from recycled polyester. It’s worsted weight on a US8/5.0 mm needle. It’s going pretty fast considering it has braided cables.

The Resident Jungle In Flower

In 2021, when mom was in that “rehab facility,” dad’s niece, husband, daughter and new grand baby came to visit and brought her this lovely white “grocery store” orchid. After she moved to Carillon House (skilled nursing facility), I inherited custody of it. My windows face northwest (i.e., no direct sunlight) and are next to a deciduous tree that blocks a lot of the sunlight in summer, but lets in more light during the winter after its leaves have fallen.

I was rootling around in my own private jungle the other day and noticed what looks to me like a flower spike. It’s plant body is about three times the size it was when she got it, and it’s got aerial roots shooting all over the place. In its native tropical rain forest, the orchid absorbs water through its aerial roots, either directly from rain and/or indirectly from the high humidity in the air. I put a vase of water next to this one to help with the lack of ambient humidity (which is 31% at the moment). One of the roots found it and told its friends. (According to YouTube, it’s OK to let the orchid do this.) (The name “orchid” comes from the Greek word orkhisand was named by an ancient Greek botanist named Theophrastos, who thought the orchid’s roots resembled a part of the male anatomy.) (I should name it “Mr. Ball.” )

I use reverse osmosis water (“Oz water”) to water all my plants as our local water is hard as a rock from the Rocky Mountain erosion deposits this end of the flatlands is sitting on. We have good water, but it has lime and calcium like you wouldn’t believe. It builds up in the soil of potted plants and can kill them. Which is why I and my own private jungle drink Oz water.

The orchid lives beside the Italian Stone Pine, which I turn on a regular basis to try to get its limbs to grow straight — with interesting results. The pine was marketed as a Christmas tree you could plant after Christmas. I really don’t get enough light in this apartment for it, but we do the best we can with what we have. I put it there to catch the afternoon light. Orchids grow under a jungle canopy and can’t take direct sunlight, which is why it’s closest to the tree. I’ve added a Christmas cactus to the ensemble. I had one when I was going to tech school in California.

In the slightly less than the year that I had that one in California, it flourished. Really cheered up the place when it bloomed. I had to leave it behind because I couldn’t take it across state lines (agricultural quarantine) never mind taking it on an airplane. I’ve wanted one since, but never ran across one when I had a place to keep it and didn’t have cats who would probably try to eat it. I got it on sale just after Christmas at — you guessed it — the grocery store.

My peace lily is going nuts. It has five blooms on it. My bamboo plant is doing well also. I need to repot the Christmas cactus, the elephant ear philodendron and the Stone Pine, among the zillion other things I need to do and haven’t.

In the knitting news, I finished what I’m calling the Origami Tam with No-Sew Rolled Brim because the way I did the increases and decreases make it look like it’s folded. It’s made from Red Heart Unforgettable yarn in the colorway “Parrot.” Almost got the pattern written up. I’ve started two new hats, one is a new hexagonal design that will have braided cables and a rolled brim. The other one is this hat but in DK weight purple Patons Metallic yarn.

At left is the new hat I’m designing. It uses Judy’s Magic Cast-on which I think I like better than Turkish Cast-on to do the provisional cast on that will get rolled under and knitted together with the working stitches to roll the brim.

When I start the hat, I use two separate circular needles for Judy’s Magic Cast-on, the upper one for the working stitches, and the lower needle for the “provisional” stitches (see above). In the picture at left, the brim has been rolled under toward the inside of the hat. The lower left needle has the working stitches, and the upper left needle has the provisional stitches.

The right needle is the other end of the “working” needle. (It’s important to keep straight which end is which!) In the picture above, I have just slipped a stitch knitwise off the working needle and put it on the provisional needle in the orientation shown, being careful not to twist it. Then I knit it and the provisional stitch behind it together through the back loop. You continue doing this until you have no more stitches left on the provisional needle. Then you don’t need the provisional needle anymore.

These hats have all had a narrow brim, but you can use this technique to make a toboggan with a wide band of double thickness over the ears. You can use this technique to make a hat with color work around the bottom, and then roll the brim under to cover the floats.

This is more of that Red Heart Unforgettable yarn, which is acrylic and very splitty, but the colorways are beautiful. Forgot what colorway this one is as I can’t find the ball band. With the rolled brim actually knitted into the fabric of the hat instead of being rolled and sewn, there’s no chance of it coming unsewn.

Apart from the fact that its “splitty-ness” can make it a pain to work with, the fabric the Unforgettable yarn makes has a very soft hand, which makes it good for chemo hats. The yarn weight category of the Unforgettable yarn is 4:Medium, which includes Aran and worsted weight yarns, but this is more toward the DK side. Progress on both hats is to be reported as it is made. Stay tuned.

Closer To The Brink

I spent hours last night going round and round with the new computer. I connected some Bluetooth earbuds to it and tried to listen to SomaFM’s Drone Zone, a perennial favorite, and the sound volume fluxuated up and down, up and down. I jumped through hoop after hoop to no avail. In the process, I accidentally turned Bluetooth off on the new computer, which precipitated a bit of a crisis since both its keyboard and mouse were Bluetooth and I suddenly had no way to control the computer. So I had to resurrect the old intellimouse (which dongles) and get out the new Logitech keyboard which has a “war”* and plugs into a USB port so I could get into the computer and turn the Bluetooth back on. Lo, and behold, unpairing and uninstalling that rinky-dink mouse and keyboard fixed the sound issue. Expletives were not deleted.

On the crest of that wave of anger and frustration, I (finally!) plugged in the 7.5 TB Western Digital external drive that’s been sitting on the counter since October and started copying files to it. The music file on the 1 TB Seagate took over an hour to copy. It was a big file. I’ve copied graphics and photos, and am in the process of copying games which may or may not play on the new machine. The new hard drive is not big enough for all my stuff, so I’ll transfer it to one that is big enough and plug it in as an external drive. So there.

I’m glad I got the new keyboard out. The backspace on the old one is wonky. Crumbs are no doubt involved. I will replace it with the new one when I finally accomplish the changeover to the new computer that’s been nearly a year in the making. Anyway, I had to clear off mom’s rolly table and bring it round as there wasn’t room on the desk for two big keyboards. (One came with her room and she didn’t need this one anymore.) I was using her table as a staging area — a place to park my purse and put the things like mail I needed to take to her — she still gets some magazines that I collect and take to her.

The lady that helps mom bathe suggested that she get a certain kind of cream for a fundamental skin irritation and itchiness she’s been unable to get rid of. I’ve ordered her some. I’ll be interested to see what she says when I bring it to her. (It’ll also be interesting to see if I can resist the straight line . . .) Anyway, I hope it works for her. A skin irritation that itches is no fun, no matter where it is.

In the knitting news, I’ve swatched but I ain’t felted yet. I measure the swatch, shrink it, measure it again, then calculate the percentage of shrinkage. Fortunately, there’s an app for that. I hate doing percentages. If the swatch shrinks, say, 10%, then I make the hat 10% larger than it needs to be. It is essential that I know the percentage of shrinkage before I start as I’m going to try knitting one from the bottom up so I can use this band turning trick I know, but that means I have to know how many stitches to cast on. I’ll do the other one the “right” way, which is top down. The band turning trick involves a provisional cast on. It’s the same trick I use here. Mostly, though, I’ve been working on these two versions of Savannah Squares:

*”war” – Texan, wire.

Teetering On The Brink of Christmas

It got down to 3 F/-16 C last night, for crying out loud!

We have this thing where if the front desk needs to get the word out about something, they text us. We got a text yesterday afternoon to dribble our faucets all night to keep the pipes from freezing. The one bedroom apartments here are set up with European style en suites which has the sink in the bedroom proper, and the toilet and shower in a separate “water closet.” So I got to listen to my sink dribble all night.

We are mercifully free of snow. (We got a flake or two yesterday for flinching.) I guess after dumping so much snow everywhere else, this storm must have run out before it got to us. As much as I hate what it’s doing to the rest of the country, I can’t help breathing a sigh of relief that we didn’t get any snow out of it. Our high today is 36 F/2.2 C. Officially colder than a wedge.

I spent the morning in bed knitting and watching videos until I heard a cheese sandwich calling my name. Sharp cheddar on toast with BACON! zotted in the microwave long enough to melt the cheese. And a big pot of Twining’s Christmas Tea served piping hot with vanilla almond milk in. Yes, Ma’m!

It’s hitting the spot as I type. The perfect combination of goo and crunch.

Thought I’d get a little meta.

They’ll serve Xmas dinner starting at 11: 00 tomorrow. I’ll get mine to go and take it over to Carillon House and eat with mom. She’ll open her Xmas present. (She’s getting me new glasses this year, which I need.) We’ll be quietly jolly, and then I’ll come back home. It’s not as sad as it sounds, at least on my part. I’ve never been a big fan of the hustle, bustle and jollity anyway, and even Mom’s getting kinda party pooped, which is not surprising. She has reached the point where doing anything requires so much time, energy and equipment that it’s exhausting.

Several people have called and texted me that they called her to wish her Merry Christmas and that she really had difficulty hearing them on her phone. Her hearing has been gradually deteriorating for a long time now, and she can’t get her phone loud enough anymore for her to hear it, especially the higher pitched women’s voices. But she adamantly refuses to get a new phone because she doesn’t want to have to learn how to operate it. Her phone has Bluetooth capability, but she refuses to spend the money for new hearing aids that have Bluetooth capability. She got some new hearing aids a couple of years ago that were very expensive, but she was unhappy with all the futzing and trips to the hearing aid place to get them adjusted, and she went back to wearing her old ones because she said they worked better for her. Change is hard (and confusing). She has a land line in her room, but then if she used that, she’d have to look up phone numbers on her cell phone and dial them . . . In the meantime, she’s becoming more and more isolated from her friends and relations, and I don’t know what the answer is.

That loud slurping noise you heard just now was me putting lotion on my hands. Again. It’s been so dry here, and the heating just makes it worse. Since that last bendamustine treatment I had such a bad reaction to this last round of chemo, I’ve had trouble with dry cracked skin on the outside edges of my index fingers and the tips of my thumbs. Knitting doesn’t help. I also have assorted dry patches on my forehead and cheeks. I have a tendency to dry skin anyway, and the bendamustine really did a number on my skin.

Friday, when I went out, I wore my red knitted hat with the selburoses on it to keep my ears and head warm. The humidity was 21% and when I got home, I pulled off my hat to predictable results — the Dandelion Clock Do. It’s one of the hats with the rolled brim, the inside of which is ribbed.

I want to make another one in black and white with the Death Flake motif — Boomer Goth — but living where I do, I wonder if it would be considered in poor taste . . . .

In the knitting news, I’ve been working on these two projects mostly. The one on the left is the Malabrigo Sock version of the Savannah Squares scarf/shawl. I haven’t put the pattern for the right one up yet, but it’s dead simple. One row repeat. (It’s also the visual equivalent of this.) Both are ideal for TV knitting.

I really need to start working on the Scots bonnet that you knit and then felt. I have two different types of 100% wool yarn. I may use the black Savage Hart Farm yarn first. I want an historic 17th century pattern, though. I’ll have to swatch and felt the swatch to gauge the shrinkage. I may also get some Plötulopi yarn (Icelandic unspun yarn) and try one out of that as it felts really well. I have a feeling I’ll end up writing a pattern for it. Stay tuned.

The North Wind Doth Blow

But we won’t get snow. Thank goodness. It’s blowing a hoolie, though, and the wind is almost straight out of the north at 21 mph/33.7 kph. It’s 18 F/-7.7 C with a wind chill of 2 F/-16.6 C. Mom called yesterday and wanted me to get her some tooth paste (she also wanted some $ for some little tokens of appreciation to her care givers), which I naïvely thought I was going to do today, but nope. Not with that kind of wind and that kind of wind chill. Mañana. It’ll still be as cold, but the front will have blown through by then and the wind will have died down. That wind is brutal. Like the man says, “Ain’t but one fence between us and Canada, and it’s down . . . “

They’ll be serving a nice Xmas dinner on Sunday here, with turkey and all the fixin’s. I’ll get mine “to go” and take it over to Carillon House and eat with mom.

The other day, I figured out how to get from here to there without having to go outside. It’s a pretty straight shot.

I’ll take her Xmas present with me. She’s getting me some new glasses this year.

Proper glasses with some light-weight lenses (I’m only 20/40 in my left eye, but I’m 20/400 in my right eye and my right lens is so thick my glasses tend to sit cattywompus on my nose), and some new, lighter frames. They won’t be here until the 30th, though.

I’ve got one of those throat tickling “drainage” coughs where you get into a coughing fit that’s so prolonged you almost pass out from not being able to breathe for coughing. I’ve been taking guaifenesin (a mucus thinner) and pseudoephidrine (a decongestant) for it. It’s allergies, not a bug. As I noted, it’s not cotton ginning related, but whatever it is that’s setting me off makes my eyes burn as well. I’ve managed to stay well so far (touch wood!). With my sinuses already in an uproar and this wind kicking up the dust, yet another reason not to get out in it.

Now that the weather has gotten colder, my feet have been so cold at night that I’ve started putting the heating pad in the bed to warm them up. I’ve got one with a timer on it that turns the heating pad off when time’s up. No, I don’t need an electric blanket. I’ve already got a microfleece blanket on. Once I get my feet warmed back up, I’m good.

T’is the Season, Y’all

I got all gussied up for the party: A (velvet) plaid “lumberjack” shirt (!) over black tee and black velvet slacks (Xmas spirit. I haz it) embellished with this glass bead necklace I bought years and years ago at a “vintage” shop. (Loved everything about it but the length, so I popped it and restrung it to choker length, and had enough beads left over to make ear dangles.) (Notice the stoppers on the ear wires!) I wore my little magnetic Carillon name tag. (Yee-Ho-Ho-Ho!)

The place was packed. I sat with friends. The food was episodic, single serving, but good — little plastic cups of dip and dip-able veggies, dinner roll sandwiches (mine was ham), shrimps and a dollop of cocktail sauce, and an collection of little cakes for dessert, each on its little plastic plate. I had a small plastic cup of white wine. There were raffles for door prizes (e.g. an hour in a chauffeured limousine for 10), and we each got a stocking from the corporate sponsors with a pair of socks, a packet of tissues, various “single serving” size candies, and business cards.

The music was provided by “Cadillac Jack Band.” (Guess what kind of music they played.) I had no trouble hearing it. (I will be vibrating for days.) The party was from 4:00 to 6:00. I made it to 5:00 before I bailed.

(If I hear “Joy to the World” on pedal steel guitar one more time . . . )

Here, have a shot of the good stuff. On the house. And one for the road.

It Ain’t The Gin

Because of our ongoing drought conditions, cotton production here in the flatlands is way down — like from an average of between 28,000-35,000 bales to between 3,000 to 5,000 bales (A bale is 480 lbs/218 kg of ginned raw cotton, and contains enough cotton to make 200 pairs of Jeans, 250 single bed sheets or 1200 T shirts). So, what’s ripping my sinuses a new one can’t be the cotton stripping and ginning (which throws all kinds of herbicide and defoliant laced organic matter and soil into the atmosphere).

Odds are it’s juniper. We have a lot of Ashe Juniper (Juniperus ashei) here and southeast of us, as well as some Oneseed juniper (Juniperus monosperma) and Pinchot’s juniper or red berry cedar (Juniperus pinchotii). Winter/spring is not a good time of year because of a thing called “cedar fever” — which is like “hay fever” except caused by cedar and juniper pollen. We’ve recently had some rain, and that’s evidently set off another round of it, and it has been reading my sinuses the Riot Act.

It also gives me what I call “sniper sneezes” — Like you’re innocently and unsuspectingly going about your daily life, unaware that a sneeze sniper has you in the crosshairs. Then BANG! you’re hit with this massive sneeze without warning. Usually, with a sneeze, you get that inhale bit at the start, which is like cocking the thing and dropping a round into the chamber, so you have something to sneeze with (which is the whole point of the exercise). Not with a sniper sneeze. Your sneezer goes off whether there’s a round in the chamber or not, you gasp reflexively and that immediately sets off a second sneeze. I have actually banged my head on stuff . . . .

So, Walkers Shortbread makes Christmas shapes! — which go down just as easily and deliciously as their regular ones, especially with a pot of Twinings’ Christmas Tea, which is a nice black tea with cinnamon and clove spices. No, I did not eat the whole box of cookies at one sitting. I only ate half the box. I am exercising self discipline. Sorta. But actually, I’m not really into cookies in general (except shortbread and soft sugar cookies with icing), or cake (unless it’s got buttercream icing and squirty icing shapes), or pies (except mincemeat, cherry or pumpkin). Cheese cake, though. And ice cream. Those are my Achilles heels. (One on each foot. Fair is fair.)

I have to confess I’m not all that into chocolate, either. (Yes, I am a heretic and have betrayed my sex. Deal with it.) Rolos and Ghirardelli’s dark chocolate raspberry squares are the only chocolate I eat consistently, but I can take it or leave it.

I ran across this the other day and it’s brilliant. This is what the autism spectrum actually looks like. We all have all the traits, just in different amounts. I have a lot of a couple traits but don’t have much of most of the other traits, which means I can “pass” for neurotypical.

Speaking of which, the Thanksgiving/Christmas/New Year holiday season is an exhausting time of year for me. Parties, family get-togethers, dinners. I’m expected to mingle in crowds of people, do lots of group stuff and socialize. Crowds make me very claustrophobic; the babble noise of a bunch of people in a room is overwhelming; I don’t like to be touched, let alone get unsolicited hugs; and I am schmooze-impaired. For those of us on the spectrum, socializing is a “fake it till you make it situation,” except we can never make it. We’re the cat among the cows. All the cows instinctively understand how to be cows. We cats have to play it by ear. All the time. We never get to see the sheet music. Ever.

There’s going to be a party tomorrow from 4:oo-6:00 p.m. I’ll attend. There will be food involved. Since I’m not on chemo anymore, a glass of wine to make the spirit bright might be in order.

I saw a Twitter quote the other day that made me guffaw: “What do I want for Christmas? I want what every girl wants for Christmas: Death to the patriarchy and pockets in all my clothes.” Amen! Me, too.

I have a pair of fleece-lined snuggly house shoes but I can’t put them on without having to bend down and straighten out the back of the heel. I found myself opting to walk on cold floors in bare feet rather than take the time to do that. So I got me some house shoes I can just step into on those occasions when I can’t sleep through the night without a potty break. Eliminating life’s little annoyances one at a time.

In the knitting news, I have one bootie finished, one bootie that just needs the little green edging, and about 17 rows and sleeve edging left on the dress skirt. Gauge is 10 rows to the inch. Skirt is 9 inches long + 9 rows of seed stitch. Going to try to get it finished, blocked and in the mail by Monday. Good thing the relative humidity is 38% and it’s merino wool sock yarn.

C. S. Harris has a new Sebastian St. Cyr novel coming out in April, 2023. Oh, joy! Sharon Lee and Steve Miller have a new Liaden novel coming out in July, 2023.

Have you seen that Kraft mayo commercial that says there’s no such thing as too much mayo? I agree in principle, but not in brand. (Hellmann‘s mayo. Please.)

No such thing as too much tomato either. I make Christmas BLT’s — no L. (Think about it. It’ll come to you.) Just a slice of toast, mayo, tomato slices, four or five slices of bacon, tomato slices, mayo and a slice of toast. You will notice paper towel diapers on both sandwiches. Necessary. After one sandwich, the paper towel is too soggy to use again. Serious, if soggy, nums.

Woke up from a dream the other morning with the sad knowledge that Honduras is closed to me now. Sigh.

Is That Me Buzzing?

I brush my pearlies with one of those battery powered spin brushes, which buzzes as it spins. But then I noticed that when I was brushing my lower left back molars, they were buzzing, too. Curioser and curioser. That back molar and the one in front of it are both implants. Turns out the crown on that back one has a tiny bit of play in it. The dentist I went to for years and years had already done one implant back in 2017, and had gotten this implant all the way to the point that all that was left to do was put the crown on. Then he died of COVID in December of 2020. He had one of those setups where two dentist went together and bought the building, but then each practiced out of one side of it. The doctor who practiced out of the other side was the one who ended up finishing the implant. So, I left a message with his receptionist yesterday, she called me this morning, and they worked me in at 1 pm this afternoon. I was in and out in 10 minutes, no charge. He said there was only a little play in the crown and that it wasn’t in danger of falling off, but to come back if it got worse. Everybody had a good laugh at my buzzing tooth.

On my way back from the dentist, I drive right by what used to be my friendly neighborhood package store, so I stopped and picked up some Harvey’s Bristol Cream (sherry) so I could have my nog with appropriate holiday spirit.

Mom has to take a distribution from their IRAs before the first of the year or get penalized. It’s a nice little chunk of change and I’m not all that wild about having to schlep a check that size from her broker over to the bank. Her broker mailed a direct deposit form which came today, and I’ve got to fill it out and take it over for her to sign, and then mail it back with a voided bank check and all. Then they can just direct deposit the dough. I’m sure the bank won’t mind.

While I was at the dentist’s, the front desk called me and asked me if I was aware I had four packages down there waiting for me to pick up. Yep. Mom wanted a little Christmas tree with lights that she could plug and unplug. Most of the “ready made” ones were two feet tall (and battery powered), which is too big for what she needs, so I ordered the parts off Amazon and DIY’ed one. I’m still waiting on the star for the top. Should be here by the end of the week. “Assembly required” was actually a cheaper route to go than the “everything included” for a tree that was too big. She’s not getting it until after Thanksgiving, though. This business of starting to put up Christmas decorations before Halloween is for the birds.

I didn’t get to sleep until nearly 6:00 o’clock this morning. I was reading Cyteen by C. J. Cherryh, one of my all-time favorite authors. She got the Hugo for this one. I started it at 8:00 o’clock Sunday morning, but that sucker is 850+ pages.

Yesterday being Sunday, I shifted the bed into “recline,” got some nice music going on my Kindle Fire and dived right in. It’s a real page turner, though. My Alarm went off at 9:00 a.m. for my first set of meds. I’d taken my second set and had gotten back in bed to sleep some more when the dentist called. I set the “movable” alarm for 11:30 and went back to bed. When that alarm went off, I was dreaming about trying to get to my dental appointment, but the mechanics messed up my van. While I was trying to find their “loaner” vehicle so I could get to my appointment, I got tangled up in a party Emma Thompson was throwing in this house the loaner was parked behind. Sam Elliott was there and handed me a half eaten gallon tub of cherry vanilla ice cream, but I wouldn’t take it. “I can’t eat ice cream and drive a car at the same time!” was what I was protesting when I woke up. I’ll be going to bed early tonight.

My carafe came. I need to wash it and do a load of hot chai tea in it. With a dollop of vanilla almond milk creamer . . .

I’ve got a cardiologist appointment at 2 pm tomorrow, and I need to make a post office run and a Walmart run. I’m out of tandoori naan (which goes great with soup, BTW), for one thing, and I want another carton of almond milk egg nog. I also want to see if they have any ugly Christmas sweaters . . .

I Felt The Earth Move Under My Bed

I’ve been in three earthquakes, two here and one in Monterey, CA. Interestingly, I happened to be in bed at the time in all three instances. Not surprising, though since the first one (in CA) happened in the middle of the night. The second one (here) was at 6 o’clock in the morning. This last one hit at 3:32 p.m. yesterday, 16 November while I just happened to be lying in the bed reading*. My bed is oriented almost due SW/NE, and it was like something big and heavy had silently given the side of the building a solid thump that jiggled my bed from side to side. I’m on the third floor of a 4-storey, steel and concrete building, which probably amplified the effect slightly. It was a Richter 5.2 with the epicenter located about 27 miles/45km west of Pecos (which is about 3 hours/214 miles/344 km to the southwest of us) at a depth of 3.1 miles/5km underground, according to Earthquaketrack.com. Durn frackers.

Monday was a blustery day, and on the chilly side. The poor mourning doves toughed it out for about an hour before they sought a more sheltered roost.

We have an activities director here at Carillon who organizes “expotitions” to things like restaurants, concerts, museum exhibits, theater events, sports games, etc. They have this big bus with the nice seats like you go on organized bus tours in. They herd us up and load us onto the bus and off we go. Tuesday, they had an expotition to the Plaza Restaurant and now that I’m street-legal again, I signed up to go eat what my dad called “Meskin food” (TexMex). Naturally, they had bowls of salsa and baskets of chips out on the table for appetizers. (They had various sopapilla dishes on the menu, both sweet and savory — my dad always called them “sofa pillows.”) I had a soft beef taco, a beef tamale and a heaping scoop of refried beans. I had it twice, in fact. The food was so good and the portions were so generous that I got a “doggie bag” and had the rest of my lunch for supper. The prices were very reasonable. All that and two glasses of sweet tea came to $13 and change. The Plaza is located out on Milwaukee Avenue just south of 50th street, out in the part of town I refer to as “Southwest Yuppyville.”

It was a bittersweet outing. After I got back from the restaurant, I went out to Market Street to get a flower arrangement of some roses for mom because Wednesday the 16 (the day of the earthquake) would have been my parent’s 76th wedding anniversary (except my dad passed away in September of 2015). I also got a grocery or two and a birthday card for my BFF (23 November).

I decided to get gussied up to go out to the restaurant, so I wore the above necklace, which I got on Portobello Road in London in 1974. I also wore these new earrings I had just gotten off Etsy from a vendor in Poland. As I was carrying the groceries into the apartment, I happened to notice I had lost one of the earrings. I wear a pair of small gold hoops which I only take out for CT scans and x-rays (to keep my holes open), but the holes are big enough that I can slip a second ear wire through them. I try to get lever-back ear wires or studs whenever I can, but if it’s a “fish hook” ear wire, I usually put those little rubber “stoppers” over the wires, only I didn’t think I would need them. I did back track as far as I could, but didn’t find it. They were such pretty earrings and I’m just heart-broken that I lost one — the first time I wore them! That’ll teach me.

My BFF finally got her Halloween card. I mailed it on 21 October. She got it on 11 November, after the midterm election, oddly enough. (Can you say “voter suppression,” boys and girls?) She also got her car back (we’ve finished rebuilding your transmission, ma’m. That’ll be $4.5K, thank you very much), after having been without it for over a month. The great ladies from her church really went to bat for her, organizing car pools to get her to and from work, else she’d have lost her job and been out on the street. I was frustrated that I couldn’t do more to help her besides send her a Halloween card with five cute little pictures of Andrew Jackson tucked inside it. Which apparently took the scenic route to get from hither to yon. Musta had to change planes in Dallas . . . (Texas is such a large state, it’s hard to get a direct flight from one end of the state to the other, e.g., from Lubbock to Houston. They’re usually routed through one or the other of the two Dallas airports — DFW or Love Field.) (In Texas, you can’t even go to Hell without going through Dallas.) (Then again, the argument can be made that DFW is Hell.)

The other day, I ran across a teaser/trailer for the 2011 version of “Jane Eyre” with Michael Fassbender as Rochester, which I haven’t seen but will order the DVD for because Michael Fassbender(!). That next morning, I woke up from a dream about this young woman who was hired to keep house for this man who lived in a big stone house out in the Yorkshire Dales. He had a secret, too. His was that he was a time traveler who had escaped from BREXIT England to live in 1840’s England. (Feel free to steal the premise, you writers out there . . .) They had these two 8-week old kittens , a black one and a white one, who got tangled up with half a dozen of these pale green beetles that were bigger than they were and had to be rescued for their own good. I woke up wishing that the kittens were real and mine.

*BTW, in my defense, I walked all over the world Tuesday, walking all the way to and from the front desk to get the bus to the restaurant, then going out to shop groceries, taking them up to the apt, then taking the flowers over to mom at Carillon House and getting mail on my way back. The weather was cold, my motile appendages were unhappy with me, I still haven’t gotten my stamina back, so Wednesday, I took it easy. What’s the point of having an adjustable bed if you can’t adjust it until it’s comfortable and snuggly warm on a chilly day and then having a good read in it? (And ride out the occasional earthquake . . . ) I gulped down a good three-fourths of Cuckoo’s Egg by C. J. Cherryh and quaffed hot tea for most of the afternoon. The only thing that would have made it better was curb service. Oh, and BTW again, did you know they make almond milk eggnog? I gotta get me a bottle of Harvey’s Bristol Cream. T’is the season.