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.

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Judy Collins on a Wednesday

Call me old fashioned, but I like singers who can sing, singers who sing songs with lyrics that actually mean something.   Oh, sing it again, Judy Blue Eyes.

Not only does Judy Collins sing other people’s songs with heart and soul, she writes some pretty heavyweight stuff herself.

A Day Cold and Grey

It’s been a grey, cold day.   We’ve finally gotten some wintry weather.  Perfect for bundling up in a blanket on the couch and binge watching all those great Films Noir — “Laura,” “The Big Sleep,” “Strangers on a Train,” “Woman in the Window,” “The Big Heat,” “The Maltese Falcon,” “Casablanca.”  Turner Classic Movies was not cooperating, unfortunately, and  besides, I have snowflakes to crochet, and then I remembered I had this Carly Simon album. . . .

And when this palls, I’ve got playlists of instrumental smooth jazz on Napster.  Now that I think of it, a Carly Simon playlist  — maybe mix in some laid back JT, and Linda Ronstadt did these albums with Nelson Riddle  . . . hmmmm.

Am I such an old fogey that all this thumpy-bumpy-chanty-ranty-herky-twerky modern music palls so very quickly?  I run across a nice one now and then, but they seem to be few and far between (I watched Neil deGrasse Tyson‘s interview with Katy Perry on Star Talk the other day — I’m sorry.  It was like the astrophysicist and the space cadet.)  I like melodies and harmonies.  I like the sound of orchestral strings as much as I like the sound of guitar strings.  I like music that doesn’t beat you over the head or hit you with a wall of sound, with singers who can actually sing and literate lyrics .

I don’t think I’m a musical snob.  I mean, if you look at my playlists on Napster,  I’ve got everything:   Paganini, Pink Floyd, Penguin Cafe Orchestra and the Pointer Sisters; Mozart, Moby, Mancini, and Morton; Tchaikovsky, Tingstad and Rumbel, and Tangerine Dream; Brahams, Beatles, Biosphere and boogie woogie;  Liszt, Llewellyn, Lucette Bourdin and Loop Guru.  I’ve got Eleftheria Arvanitaki and Lisa Gerrard, Ofra Haza, James Taylor and Michael Franks; blue grass, klezmer, and early Brubeck, Dadawa, Niyaz and Cirque du Soleil.  I’ve got Ravi Shankar and both his daughters.  In addition to almost every genre from the USA, there’s music on there from Turkey, Iceland, India, eastern Europe, Yemen, Mali, Ireland, Algeria, Greece, Morocco, and Norway. (Ghod, I love the interwebs so much!)

But right now, I’m in a Films Noir mood. . .

A Change of Pace

That loud grinding noise you heard a while ago was me changing gears from knitting to crochet. (Yes, I am ambicraftous.)  My mom belongs to this Sekret Klub, and every year in early December they have a fund-raising auction.  The members bring things to auction off, pay inflated prices for each other’s stuff, and the money goes into a college scholarship fund of some sort.  Last year, I made her four buttoned cowls.  This year, I’m making her three sets of five crocheted snowflakes. I’m also making several sets of three for hostess gifts.

Tuesday after knitting group, I need to dash over to Michael’s and get some stiff stuff, some opalescent embossing powder, a container of sewing pins, and a paint brush.   I’m pretty sure I already have enough crochet thread in my thread stash.  In order to turn the snowflakes into tree ornaments, which is the goal of the exercise, they have to be blocked (stretched and pinned into shape), then soaked in the stiff stuff and sprinkled with opalescent embossing powder to give them just the right amount of sparkle. When that side is dry, you flip them over and repeat the process.  Once they’re thoroughly dry, you hot glue a little loop of the narrowest white satin ribbon they make to one “point” so an ornament hook can be attached for hanging it on the tree.

One down, many to go.

I googled crocheted snowflakes and found this website that has a whole slew of free patterns for them.  More than enough for the 15 I’m making for my mom.  I’ll choose the 15 I like best, and do them.

I was searching for “Russian waltzes” on YouTube yesterday (because I couldn’t remember whether this one waltz was written by Prokofiev or Khachaturian)(It was Khachaturian.) and found this serendooglously*.

And yes! It’s from a Russian film.  And yes! An English language version is available on Amazon, . . . And yes! It’s been shipped!  (It’s dubbed in English.  I wish it had been in Russian with English subtitles, but I may just turn the sound off and gorge on the video.)

Here’s the Russian language trailer.

Matvey Lykov, who plays the guy she really loves (spoiler alert:  Not the blond guy.), is yummy.  And that wedding ensemble she’s wearing in the boat is just fabulous.

 

*serendoogle — something you find serendipitously while googling for something else.  I made this word up by mashing “serendipity” and “google” together.

Now and Again, My Brain Is Nice To Me

This little gem of a Satie waltz has been my earworm for most of the day.  Kind of like my brain is trying to be extra sweet to me because of the sturm, drang and brouhaha of the Firefox Quantum debacle of the past two days.  (Instead of “Firefox,” I typed “Firepox” — I think my Freudian slip is showing.)  My savage breast hath been greatly in need of soothing of late.  Yeth, it hath.

Everything Old Is New Again

The only way  the members of my parents’ generation would have ever heard Lil Hardin Armstrong‘s song “Oriental Swing” was if it was covered by a white band — It was “race” music and it was considered too “primitive” and “degenerate” for whites to listen to, especially in the South.   How ironic that the roots of some of the most iconic American music — jazz, blues, and rock and roll — are firmly embedded in such “race” music.

A pinch of sampling, a dash of modern technology,  and  a half tsp of change of tempo, and you get:

I do have to say the second one has a catchier tempo. . . .

And she dates herself by adding, “I give it a 90, Dick, because it’s got a good beat and you can dance to it . . .

What’s New?

Love the boozy trombones in his arrangement.  They had some good singers back in the old days — singers who had expressive voices, who could carry a melody and do things with it, and ol’ blue eyes is a case in point.  Songs had melodies, and luscious arrangements.  Although my generation has had one or two . . .

My favorite quote of the week is by Elon Musk: “I want to die on Mars, just not on impact.”  Tells you all you need to know about the man.

The seasons, they are a-changin’, although my AC is still coming on now and again.  Been drinking Stash Tea’s Chai Spice hot with a liberal blop of Coffee Mate Caramel Macchiato creamer in it.  Major nums.

When I said in the previous post that I got this humongous Jumbo skein of yarn, this is what I meant.  It’s supposed to be 3 “normal” pull skeins’ worth of yarn.  I’ve already got a hat and a pattern started using the star beads.  The pattern has a yo, k1 sequence where you drop the yo on the next row to give the k1 enough slack to pull the stitch through the bead with the crochet hook and then slip the stitch to the right needle without puckering the work.  The beads go onto a 3-stitch stockinette band that’s in a spiral pattern.  The stars are silver, gold, pink, blue, and green.  It’s fun, a little silly and a tad over the top, but there are times when you are facing down a life-threatening illness like breast cancer when you need “fun, silly and over the top” just to keep your sanity.

The Malguri Morning shawls are finished, the yarn ends are woven in and they are boxed up, addressed and ready to take down to the post office.  My local post office has a deal where you can buy postage from a machine in the lobby with a credit card 24/7, and don’t have to actually go during post office business hours to get postage. The machine has a scale and rulers and all that stuff, and they provide a nice big hopper to drop it in when it’s ready to go.

I played yarn chicken there at the last, and had about a golf-ball-sized ball of yarn left over when I finished this second one.  Otherwise, I’d have had to rip out two rows, because the shawl pattern has a two-row repeat and it has to be bound off after a particular row in the pattern repeats.  Actually, this yarn is so thick that I doubt there’s more than a yard or two left in that little ball —  nowhere near enough to do two more rows and a bind-off.  So, whew!  I’ve already started another one for me.  because this shawl starts at the point, the rows get wider and wider the further up you go, and the stripes in the “self striping” variegated yarn get narrower and narrower as a result.  Here’s both of them:

I don’t know why they look blotchy in the photos.  It may just be the way Charisma joins their color changes.  I’m making me one totally out of the blue self-striping, without any solid blue stripes.  When you use the bulky yarn, they’re thick, and snuggly* warm.  However, you can get creative with your yarn choices and needle sizes and end up with a lacy DK or sock-weight shawl, or a worsted weight shawl.  Also, the pattern is dead easy.  TV knitting at its finest, just perfect for binge watching.

 

*The spellchecker doesn't like "snuggly" with two 'G's, but there is a big difference in meaning between snugging (snugly, adverb) and snuggling (snuggly, adjective).