About Time To Switch Over

Last night and Tuesday night, I slept with the proto-lap-robe* on the bed, and woke up to temps in the low 70’s F (20+ C) on my HVAC thermostat.  When it’s 71 F (21.1 C) in my office, which for unknown reasons is the hottest room in the house, that means the weather’s turning a mite cool.  I’ve already turned off the floor fans in both the office and the living room.  I checked the 10-day forecast and Thursday, Friday and Saturday will have highs in the 80’s (27-30 C), but Sunday the high is predicted to be 66 F (18.8 C) and we’ll have highs in the mid 60’s F to high 70’s F (18.8-26.1 C) after that.

I’ve already started thinking about putting socks on (I don’t wear shoes in the house.  When the AC is on, I go barefoot.)  I think Sunday, I’m switching from AC to heat in anticipation of that yearly milestone, First Use Heater Stink. Yeah, I know.  They’ve already had snow in Colorado, but I remind my readers yet again that the town where I live is at the same latitude as Casablanca, Morocco, and for us, 70 F (21.1 C) is a smidge on the nippy side.

I see by the clock that I need to bag the kitten hat I’m working on and put on some fit-to-be-seen-in-public clothes.  My mom’s coming by at 1 p.m. to pick me up and we are going to enjoy one of life’s little luxuries — a pedicure.

In the knitting news, I believe I can eke one more hat out of the Dazzle yarn, and then it’s into the washer with the lot of them to be washed with hair conditioner in the fabric softener hopper of the washing machine.  That’s supposed to soften scratchy yarn.  We’ll see.  Then I’m taking the whole bagful to the cancer center to be donated to those who have lost all their hair because of undergoing chemotherapy.

I finished this Monmouth hat (at left) the other day, and last night I finished this kitten hat (at right), which is the first kitten hat I’ve made that wasn’t pink.  I think I will make a pink Coriolis hat next, and maybe a pink Little Twisted Hat as well in honor of Pinktober.

I think I need to bump some priorities.  The reader’s shrug for one, for reading in bed — a light one and a heavier one.  I was reading in bed the other day, and my arms got downright chilly.  Yeah.  I know.  Life is hard.

*A single-bed size microfleece blanket I’ve been meaning to turn into a lap robe for, literally, years.

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Adventures in Dentistry and a Short Trip to Atlantis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

A Rough Night and An Early Morning

To begin with, I had a hard time getting to sleep last night, and then about 4 a.m. I was rudely awakened by my tum having a ferocious argument with my supper, which supper shortly thereafter got the bum’s rush (Get out!).  I mean, I barely had time to get to the appropriate location before I was calling Huey!  I was just drifting off to sleep again at about 6 a.m when I had to get up precipitously again. (And stay out!).  I finally got to sleep again, only to be awakened at a quarter past 8 by the loud growl of a chain saw beside the house.

I had arranged for a tree trimming guy to come out at around 9:30 this morning to cut a half broken limb from B’s pecan tree that was dangling astride my cable wire.  I had noticed it the day before when I had a cable guy come out to try to find out why every 15-20 minutes, my TV picture would freeze and “pixelate” for a second or two, and why when I was streaming music, it would stop abruptly for a second or two. It was a sizeable branch, and if it had finished breaking it would have fallen on the cable wire from the pole to the house and knocked the wire down.  If that had happened, I would have had to pay for having it restrung — and you can bet it wouldn’t be cheap!

Yesterday afternoon, after the cable guy had left, I was able to sweet talk my landlady, who is really a very nice lady anyway, into springing for the cost ($350) of having the tree trimming guy come out to not just trim the dangling pecan branch, but remove the 6-foot stub of locust trunk at the side of the house that had riotously resprouted, remove the Siberian elm saplings from and trim what the landlady says is a yaupon holly (Ilex vomitoria) growing between my garage and B’s, but which I think is a Japanese holly (ilex crenata).  (Yaupons have red berries and this thing doesn’t.)

The tree trimming guy was supposed to come out at about 9:30 or 10 this morning, but he was out at 8:20 (!) sawing away on the other side of my bedroom wall, taking down the locust trunk.  He had this little chainsaw on a pole contraption that made short work, not only of removing the Branch of Damocles,  but of trimming all the branches on both B’s pecan (her yard is “squirrel heaven”) and my (#$*&%! beans which nothing eats!) locust tree that could hit against the cable wire in a wind and cause problems. (In the flatlands, “wind” is air moving in excess of 20 mph.  Air that’s moving slower than that is classified as “light breeze.”)

He located and stumpified the Siberian elm saplings in the mystery bush between the garages and winkled them out, then trimmed the thing back into submission so it looks very nice now.  Not as boxy as it should, but a lot better than it did.  And that decapitated trunk by the side of the house that had resprouted these wild wavy branches all over the place was cut down, cut up, and removed.  He made short work of it, and also “neatened” up the adjacent tree beside the fence.

The tree trimming guy was a very nice, and quite large, Black man who sounded like he might have come from Jamaica.  Now, my mom, even on such brief acquaintance, would have found out his wife’s name, what she did, the names and ages of all his children and grandchildren (he was in his late 50’s), and would have gotten the skinny on how a Jamaican had ended up on the flatlands of Texas, inside of about 10 minutes.  (I often think my mom missed her calling.  She would have made a crackerjack investigative reporter, or private investigator.)

Oh, and yesterday afternoon, after I had advised B that she might discover a large Black man with a little chainsaw on a pole in her back yard tomorrow (I didn’t know where he’d have to go to reach that pesky branch), we were standing on her porch talking about things and stuff, when a hummingbird came up and started in on her Turk’s Cap shrubs (Malvaviscus arboreus ) which is a species of hybiscus. I think it was a female/juvenile rufous hummer (Selasphorus rufus) but I wouldn’t swear to it.  Could have been a female or juvenile ruby-throated (Archilochus colubris).  Seeing a hummingbird never ceases to thrill and delight yrs trly.

So, the tumult and the shouting having died, the tree guy and the trimmings having departed, and the experience having been duly blogged about, I think I’m going to take my quarrelsome tum back to bed and see if both of us can catch up on some sleep.

 

The Old Stomping Ground Has Its 15 Minutes of Fame

On the Show and Tell of the Harvey Disaster Area that the POTUS was given Saturday, he deigned to visit a church in Pearland (First Church of Pearland) where relief supplies were being distributed, and if you’ve been following the news, you’ll have seen him speechifying there, and otherwise photo opting.

The thing is, in order for the POTUS to get there, he had to travel over ground that has a long history in my family (significant bits of which used to belong to my family, in fact).

Air Force One landed at Ellington Airport, the presidential motorcade apparently came up the Dixie Farm Road to get to the church (red tag), and then went back out to Ellington Airport via Yost Boulevard.

At one point, my mom’s three oldest brothers leased the Dixie Farm (for which the road was named) where they grew magnolia figs.  East Broadway, where the church is, used to be the Friendswood Highway which is how we used to get to Yost “Boulevard” from Houston back in the 1950’s when it was a dirt road paved with oyster shells way out in the country and every house on that road was the home of someone in my mom’s family.  Her second oldest sister VY lived in a white frame (1) house at the northwest corner of the T-intersection (the house is not there any more). 

Her youngest sister EW lived in this little 4-room house built in the 1930’s (below) (2), which is dwarfed by the $2 and $3 million dollar homes around it.  That’s my dad on his way in to visit my aunt in 2009.  Time has taken both of them away in the years since.  The only reason her house is still there is because my aunt befriended her neighbor’s autistic son and he spent a great deal of time with her and grew to love the house.  After she had to go to a nursing home, they bought her house for him as a “retreat.”

Further down the road was my grandma’s house (3) (above left with her daughter VY, VY’s daughter C, and nephew JCJ on the front porch) where my mother was born in 1924 (that house is no longer there).  That’s my grandma at far right with her 12 children in age order R to L (far left is mom, 3rd from left is HJ, 6th from left is EW, 7th from left is VY).  Her eldest son has a middle school named after him.   Down at the end of the road, where it dead ended was my mom’s brother HJ’s place.  It was a little wood frame house (no longer there) set in the pine trees far back from the road with a barn, and his wonderful grove of satsuma orange trees.

My uncle HJ later built a larger house (4) closer to the road, and eventually sold his orange grove when he could no longer work in it.  The patch of trees to the left in this photo is where my grandma’s house once stood.  Behind all these lovely homes runs Clear Creek, where my mom once played and chased cows.

The house (5) (at right) in the video below now stands where my uncle’s satsuma orange grove used to be and is two houses down from the new house my uncle HJ built.   You will note the name of the poster of the video below, who is one of “those” Yosts (great great grandson) for whom the road was named. One of those black SUV’s has the POTUS in it, but naturally the Secret Service has seen to it that it’s impossible to tell which one.

Life on Yost Road used to be a lot simpler.

Better Put Yer High-Water Pants* On, Texas

I made a comment in an earlier post about us getting some rain because of swirly storms horsing around in the Gulf (of Mexico).  Yep.  We’ve been getting a goodly bit of rain here lately, real gully-washers, and one of them swirly storms name of Harvey is slamming into the Texas coast as I type.  It was upgraded from a category 3 to a category 4 just as it started coming ashore at Port Lavaca  (slightly north and east of Corpus Christi), which is mostly evacuated by now according to one of the masochists on The Weather Channel .

As my regular blog readers might remember, I have maternal relatives in the Houston-Galveston area.  They are not in any immediate danger from the hurricane, thankfully, but Jiminy Christmas, they’re talking 2 FEET (60.69 cm) of rainfall along the coast, including the Greater Houston Metropolitan Area between now and Tuesday, maybe as much as 30 inches. (76.2 cm).  Never mind your umbrella; better take your flippers and a snorkel.

And roll an eyeball over the rainfall prediction for the next 7 days.

Where I am is in the blue bit in the extreme upper left-hand corner.  But the worst part of all this hurricane business is that they think Harvey is not going to start dissipating when it makes landfall like most hurricanes do.  He seems to want to wander around a bit and may have a little sit-down first, so there could be widespread and severe flooding.  I hope my cousin WM can get her cows — and herself! — to high ground.  She lives at the edge of the flood plain of the Brazos River west of Houston.  My cousin EJ’s boy and his wife and little daughter Raelyn Rose (Little Raelyn is the one I made all those baby clothes for about two years ago.)  live in Galveston — in a brick 2-storey house, but only miles from the beach.  They don’t expect much in the way of storm surge, but they’re in that 2 feet of rain area. That whole end of Texas is going to be soggy and squishy for months.

Well, after Napster/Rhapsody did me dirty, I decided to finally bite the bullet.  Consumer Cellular was having a really good sale on its Samsung Galaxy J3(6) phones.  I have been saving up for one for months now, foregoing junk food, cakes, cookies, ice cream and candy, and putting aside the money I would have spent on them.  It came Wednesday.  I ordered a little wallet for it from Amazon, and it came this morning — in the pouring rain, no less.  Changing to a smart phone is only going to up my bill about $3-$5 a month, depending on how much data I use.   I just texted my cousin EJ a while ago — now that I can! — to let her know I was thinking about her.   Napster has an Android app, and I can download music through it over WiFi, which doesn’t use up my data, and then play it through my phone, again without using data.  The phone only has 16GB of memory, but I have my eye on a 64GB memory chip that is around $20.  My mom is not going to be happy with me for getting yet another gadget, but there it is.

In the knitting news, I’m doing a toboggan out of some camouflage patterned yarn KC donated to my chemo hat efforts. (Chemo camo!)  It’s a regular knitting worsted weight (Medium:4) yarn, which I have not used for toboggans yet.  I’ve only used the Red Heart Unforgettable yarn, which is actually about halfway between a Medium:4 weight and a Light:3 weight. I think it’s going to take the lion’s share of the skein of yarn to make it, though.  I thought this style hat in a camo yarn was bound to go over big with guys undergoing chemo and needing hats.  Apparently in this part of the world, something that might be considered wimpy/sissy becomes automatically “manly” if it’s in camo.

I need to get all the donated Dazzle yarn knitted up so I can wash it. The yarn has been in storage for probably 30 years, and needs the dust washed out, for one thing, and it’s easier to wash after it has been knitted up.  I’ll set my washing machine on delicate and pour in hair (shampoo) conditioner at the point in the cycle where you are supposed to add fabric softener.  That is supposed to soften the yarn right up.  We’ll see.

Well, it’s after midnight now, so I’ll say goodnight, Gracie.

*high-water pants

Art, Both High and Domestic

The lovely little piece to the right is “The Madonna of the Yarnwinder” — It’s called that because “The Madonna of the Niddy Noddy” doesn’t quite have the same ring to it.  That little dohicky the Christ Child is holding is called a niddy noddy.  They’re used by people who spin yarn to wind their yarn into skeins, and measure the length of yarn in the skein, typically 80 yards.  It’s a very low-tech little gizmo — I’ve seen them made from PVC pipe.   The high-tech version is called a “spinner’s weasel” — The wheel is 2 yards in circumference, and 40 turns of the wheel equals an 80 yard skein.  Where the “tech” comes in is that some of them have a little clockwork mechanism with gears that turn a counter which will then make a clicking or popping noise when the wheel has turned 40 times.  — Yep.  You got it.  Pop goes the weasel.

In the knitting news, I’ve already finished a Simple Pleasures Hat with a ribbed brim out of the donated Dazzle yarn. Instead of just joining on a different color and carrying on knitting to make the stripes, I used a mosaic knitting technique of k1, sl1 (knit one, slip one).  If you pay attention to whether you k1 or sl1 as the first stitch when you start the stripe, and do the opposite when you join the background color after finishing the stripe, you get this zig-zag effect which I quite like.  I got almost 2 skeins of the pale orange, two skeins of the dark brown, and a skein plus a little golf ball size ball of the dark orange, as well as a skein of dark blue and four or five skeins of white as my cut of the donated yarn.  I don’t think I’ll be using the white for hats.  Maybe I’ll make another baby afghan for KC’s church group.

I’ve started another Simple Pleasures hat out of the dark brown and need to get the brim hemmed before I go to bed.  We’re having the eclipse tomorrow and I’m going to my mom’s to watch the important bits of it, and I can sit and knit while we visit.  Tomorrow would have been my dad’s 95th birthday.  Today when I shopped groceries, I got a big piece of carrot cake which i’ll bring to split with my mom.

I’m pretty put out with Napster/Rhapsody.  You can’t download music to your PC or to an MP3 player any more.  They say it’s because Microsoft removed the support for WMDRM tracks and offline playback.  I can still stream to my PC and to my Kindle and tablet.  I may need to check my internet radios to see if I can still use the Napster app on them.

I thought my $150 plus electric bill was higher than giraffe’s ears last month.  Guess what.  It was even higher this month.  Almost $170.  The thermostat is going back up to 80 F (16.6 C) and I’ll just sit around in my unmentionables with fans on.  I’ve been in these digs a year now.  I might can check with the electric company to see if I can go on average billing. (They total your usage for the past year and divide it by 11, and you pay that amount January through November.  In December, you make up the difference.)  I gotta do something.  It’s shooting my book budget in the foot.

The Slightly Eccentric Hatter

No, not mad.  Not even slightly miffed.  Just a little quirky around the edges.  Or maybe just hatting like crazy.  But hats are short, quick to knit, and fun, and there’s nothing a knitter likes better than an excuse to knit something.  And how ‘total win’ is knitting hats for charity?  (what I actually typed was “chairity” — told you I spell by ear.  . . .)

I have a yarn bowl on my desk and a hat in progress to hand.  When I’m writing and pause to reread, or to work out the content or wording of what goes next, I pick up the hat and knit while I’m thinking.  If I’m reading blogs, I knit and read, if the hat in progress is not too complicated, or else I change to one that has a simple pattern.

So, there is a Fabled Cable hat in progress, but the pattern is not posted on my knitting blog yet. I’m doing it in Lion Brand Landscapes yarn.  I think this color is called “Desert Spring” or something like that.

I finished one prototype of a hat in the purple fuzzy yarn.  I’m calling “Simple Pleasures.” It looks a lot like a Monmouth hat, except the brim has ribbing, and they didn’t know from purling in the Middle Ages.  The brim is too big.  My BFF is getting it to wear for sleep.  (Involved story. Don’t ask.)  I’ve made adjustments in the pattern and I’m trying again, with a rolled brim in the Unforgettable yarn, and with just a ribbed edge in the purple fuzzy yarn to see if 80 stitches on a US size 4 (3.5 mm) will gauge out right.  So far, so good.

I’ve finished another Carrie Fisher Memorial Pussy Hat (I’m calling it a “kitten hat” on the tag), that’s small enough for a 12- or 13-year-old.

I’m going to have to keep an eye on the time.  Mom is coming by after church and we are going to meet our friend CK at Applebee’s for lunch.  About 11 a.m., I’ll be wanting to go take my shower and change clothes.

Edit:  We had a delightful lunch, and while we were eating, this came over the sound system.  We got Rick-rolled in Applebee’s!