The End of This Era

I’ve used up all my free picture space and I don’t intend to pay to get more, so I’ve started a new blog.

The New Blog continues to be called “The Owl Underground.” I tried to give it the same URL as the old blog so people wouldn’t have to resubscribe, but apparently that doesn’t work.  You may need to refollow or reselect the RSS feed or however you follow me, in order to get new posts from the new blog.

This is now the second archive for The Owl Underground.  It includes all posts from 01/01/2012 to 07/31/2017.

Archive I covers all the posts from the beginning of the blog on Blogger to its migration to WordPress, i.e., all posts before 01/01/2012 back to the foundation of The Owl Underground blog on 12/23/2005.

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Dreams of Blue Rooms

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Woke up from one of my epic saga dreams, and the image that surfaced with me was of a room in a house probably in Morocco — tall ceiling, dark, cool, tiled floor,with plastered walls painted this wonderful shade of light azure and there were carved floral motif wooden grills made from Atlas cedar.

I tend to feel an affinity with Morocco.  I like their traditional style of housing with the glorious decorative tile work and the central courtyard with balconies and a fountain. Perhaps it is because the town where I live is at the same latitude as Casablanca (Here’s looking at you, kid.) and our semiarid climate is very similar to theirs.  Of course, Casablanca is on the sea coast and we’re about 600 miles inland; but we were close to the sea at one time. (So close, in fact, that we were under it!)

I wouldn’t mind having the screen in the picture.  I love carved wooden screens. I wouldn’t mind having a traditional Moroccan house, either — providing I had the income to maintain it (and me while I lived in it) — and pay a live-in cook/housekeeper, — and it had WiFi.  I mean, if you’re going to dream, dream real.

The word “azure,” and the color it names, comes from lapis lazuli. I love the color blue in all its myriad shades, and have done all my life.

In the knitting news, and you know there will be knitting news, I ripped out this hat because it needs to be on a bigger needle,

and this hat because I didn’t like the way it was going,

and this hat because it was too big and needed to be on a smaller needle.

I had a hard time with the purple one (ripped it out 4 times), because I couldn’t get the gauge right.  Now I think I have (72 stitches on a US size 4 (3.5 mm) for the band, then changing to a US size 7 (4.5 mm) for the hat body) and I’m writing a hat pattern for it as I go.

My main knitting challenge is that I knit loosely, and if a pattern gives a specific needle size, I’ll have to go down at least one, and maybe two sizes to get the correct gauge.  Another consideration is that I have a 22-inch head, and most ladies have smaller heads than I do (20-21 inches).

So far, this one is going to plan.  This will be the first time I’ve “turned a hem” when the knitting is ribbed, so when I get to the knit two stitches together bit, it will actually be k2tog, p2tog.  We’ll see how it goes. (The strings at lower right are for the provisional cast on.)

Another thing I’m trying is that half way through the ribbing, I’m changing from k1, p1, to p1, k1 (which is what the pink marker is about — this fuzzy yarn is really hard to “read”).  The reasoning behind this is that the reverse of a knit stitch is a purl stitch, and vice versa.  The hem has to be folded, and if I don’t switch halfway through, when I’m hemming, I would be trying to knit a knit stitch and a purl stitch together and it wouldn’t lay right.  Because I’ve “changed horses in midstream,” I’ll be knitting two knit stitches together, and purling two purl stitches together — or that’s the theory anyway.  Verrons nous.  On the next row after the hemming row, I’ll switch to stockinette and a US size 7 (4.5 mm) needle, and increase 20 stitches on the first row using kfb’s (knit front and back), with a simple ssk decrease at the top.

Here directly, I need quit noodling on the computer and call my BFF to see if she is still coming this afternoon, and if she is, I need to catch a shower and wash my hair before she comes.

Things, Stuff, and Monmouth Hats,

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My blog friend Shoreacres sent me a link to a poll being taken to see what people called those kind of hats I make and where they live. That got me sidetracked onto Monmouth caps — you know how that happens.  In pursuit of more information on these historical hats, I turned up this website which details one knitter’s version of how you make them.

The Monmouth caps (at left) were interesting to me for two reasons:  (1) They use only the knit stitch, since the caps were popular between the 14th and 16th centuries and the purl stitch did not come to Europe until the middle 16th century.  However, even in the earliest versions, a row of purl stitches is found on the caps at the point where the hem is “creased” i.e., the bottom edge of the cap, and it is thought that this was accomplished by turning the work around and knitting around the inside in the opposite direction (using the Columbus method*) to produce a row of purl stitches. (2) The brim is turned and hemmed in just the same way as I hem the “brim” of my toboggan caps.  Knitting every stitch produces what is called stockinette stitch, which has a fierce tendency to curl/roll, and I suspect that hemming the brim was developed as a way to prevent this.

You will notice that the cap above has a little loop hanging from the brim.  That’s because there is a “button” at the point of the cap.  The loop is put over the button so that the cap could be hung from a belt.  The Monmouth caps were knitted overlarge in woolen yarn that is then “felted” or “fulled” by washing it in very hot water with soap. This causes it to shrink down and makes it waterproof.  Of course, for chemo hats, you have to use hypoallergenic yarn, which means acrylic, which won’t “felt.” This is just as swell, actually, because knitting with woolen yarn makes my hands itch.

I was thinking about doing a modified version of this cap (without the “fruit loop”) for a chemo cap for men.  I was also thinking about doing one for women where the brim was made on a larger needle and on the row after the hemming row, switching to a smaller size needle for the crown  — and maybe do about an inch of ribbing while I was at it.  This would cause the brim to stand out like the one at left.   I wouldn’t make the crown as tall, though.

I think I’ve perfected the pattern for the toboggan hat with inside ribbing, which I’ll post soon. Watch that space.

The fat(cat)boy got taken to the vet and got his shots.  Needless to say, he was not amused.  (I swear that cat is a fur factory.  I brushed him and brushed him the night before, and he still shed vast clouds of hair all over me, the vet tech, the vet, and the examining room.)  He is in my bad books at the moment.  Guess why.   The solar eclipse is on August 21st, which would have been my dad’s 95th birthday.  It will be about 76% total here.  Close enough for government work.

 

*Columbus method – going east by sailing west, i.e., doing something in an  arcane and/or complicated, and/or counter-intuitive manner, especially when there is a less complicated, less difficult, more straightforward way to do it.

On the Downslope of July

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Last Wednesday, I talked to one of the ladies that wrangles wigs and hats for people undergoing chemotherapy at one of our local cancer centers. We have two here in town.  This one is an adjunct of the hospital where I got my first medical transcription job, so I’m kind of partial to that center versus the one that’s attached to the university teaching hospital.

Anyway, I asked for the criteria they want in a chemo hat, and they said they want soft, colorful, with washing instructions attached, and in October.  They liked that I had mine in sandwich baggies.

When I got home, I thought about it and decided, what the heck.  I’ll do up some little labels with washing instructions to put in the baggie with them.  I wonder how many people will get the pun?  Anyway, I’ve identified various hat patterns by “style.”  We’ll see how it flies. I love the little interlocking heart motif.

I’ve got to take the fat(cat)boy to the vet and get his yearly immunizations.  As hot as it’s been lately, it’ll have to be right after they open in the morning.   Not today, though.  Maybe tomorrow.  Last night I went to knitting group and then shopped groceries for the month including a significant amount of canned goods and frozen food, schlepped everything from the trunk/boot of the car into the house and put them away. I think I need to rest up before I have to haul a cat carrier full of fat cat out to, into and out of a car and through the airlock doors of the vet’s office  — and back.

I had to get some toiletry items and at Walmart, those are on the other side of the store from where the groceries are.  As I was en route from the grocery section, I saw they had yarn on sale, as in 40% and 50% off.  Instead of buying ice cream and sweets, I bought yarn.  And still came out under budget.  Sometimes you win one.

Anyway, I’m going to try out my ideas for a ruffled hat and a hat with cables and seed stitch, but I have a deal with myself that I’ve got to finish the two toboggans and the pussyhat I’m working on now before I can start the new hats.  The ruffle hat is going to take two 16-inch needles of the same size, US4 (3.5 mm), I think, because I think that’s the size I’ll need for the yarn I want to use, which is DK weight.

Peter Capaldi is leaving Doctor Who, which means the Doctor will regenerate again. (“Regeneration” is the brilliant plot device whereby the actor who has played the role up to a certain point morphs into another actor who will subsequently play the role.)   The Doctor is supposed to be able to regenerate 12 times, but in the Christmas special of 2013, the 11th Doctor, Matt Smith, revealed he had already used up all his regenerations. Fortunately, at the end of that episode, he was granted another regenerative cycle by the Time Lords, and morphed into the 12 Doctor, Peter Capaldi.  Now Capaldi is leaving so he will “regenerate” into the 13th Doctor, and she will be played by Jodi Whittaker.  Yes, you got that right.  She.  There is a certain segment of Whovian geekdom who are now apoplectic and frothing at the mouth because Whittaker will get girl cooties all over Doctor Who.  They are the ones who somehow managed to avoid being strangled by the epidemic of knickers knottage which resulted from Michelle Gomez getting girl cooties all over the Master.   Of course, a certain other segment of Whovian geekdom is saying, “About damn time!”  Imagine that.  Girls will now be able to cosplay the Doctor without having to cross-dress to do it.  (Of course, some will anyway.)

Like An Owl In The Daytime

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Exactly so.  I’ve not been being conscientiously diurnal lately and have let my schedule slew round to where I’m up at night.  It just naturally does that. It just seems right to be up at night when it’s quiet and cool — or cooler, anyway.  My mom is convinced it’s unnatural, and that there’s something innately wrong with it, or me.  I have this theory that the time of the day you’re born at has an influence on whether you’re a “lark,” a morning person, or an “owl,” an evening person.  Most babies are born in the early hours of the morning.  They rest for hours after to recover from the effort, and then they’re awake  I was born just after noon.

My mom is definitely a lark, is convinced that it’s natural and normal to be that way, that everybody in their right mind should be like her, and can’t understand why anybody would think otherwise.  In other words, she’s human, bless her.

Of course, when I was working as a medical transcriptionist, I turned this natural “night owl” tendency of mine to my advantage.  Hospitals are going 24/7, and medical transcriptionists who work for hospitals are needed 24/7.  But, the whole rest of the world is on day-shift —  spouses’  jobs, children’s schools. For people with families, working nights and weekends is hard.  Nobody wants to do it.  Employers offer “shift differential” and “weekend differential” extra pay as an inducement.  Still, its very hard to get people to do it unless they don’t have kids and/or their spouse also works nights, or they’re single.  But here’s me, with few real demands on my time, perfectly willing to work nights and weekends.  Make extra money to be up when it’s my natural tendency to be up anyway?  Sure.  You bet.  I worked from 9 o’clock at night to 5 o’clock in the morning, and had Tuesdays and Wednesdays, or Wednesdays and Thursdays off for almost 20 years — and loved it.  I volunteered to work holidays (holiday differential). Pay me extra for working when nobody else wants to work?  Yep. I’ll take it.

So yesterday I crashed out about 12:30 p.m. and slept until about 8 p.m., and dreamed about 90 mph the whole time, long involved dreams. Bobbed to the surface.  Went back to sleep, again dreaming at a furious clip.  I dreamed about my little grey girl when she was a kitten.  I dreamed about my friend JT.  I dreamed about bats and driving places at night.  Long, convoluted dreams.  Woke up about 3 a.m., and knew by feel that I’d slept enough and wouldn’t be able to sleep any more for a while.

So I lay in the bed and read some more in the book I’m rereading, The Golem and the Jinni, by Helene Wrecker.  The fact that it’s a reread tells you right off I liked it enough to want to read it again.  It’s a story set in turn-of-the-century New York City, and overtly it’s a story about the immigrant experience, European Jews on the one hand, and Syrian Christians on the other. It’s a very realistic and historically accurate story, except for the two main characters.  One is Chava, a golem, and the other one is Ahmed, a jinni.

A golem is a creature out of Jewish folklore, made of clay and created to serve a master’s every whim.  But Chava is a very special golem, a masterwork.  She has hair and fingernails, and is able to pass for human.  She was created for a man named Rotfeld to be his wife.   So what happens when Rotfeld dies of a burst appendix within hours of awakening her?  She’s a golem without a master.  Now what?

A jinni is a creature out of Middle Eastern folklore, made of fire and magic, free spirits who ride the winds of the Syrian desert, able to assume any form they desire.  But Ahmed has been imprisoned for an unknown amount of time in a copper bottle.  It is Arbeely the tinsmith who unwittingly frees the jinni from the copper bottle he’s repairing.  But Ahmed is not totally free.  He wears an iron bracelet that he cannot remove which prevents him from assuming any other form but human, and which curtails his powers.  Now what?

So, you have the story of a golem without a master, and a jinni without his freedom in turn-of-the-century New York City, and how both come to terms with their fates.   It’s a fascinating story.  Wecker treats each character as a kind of zeitgeist of their respective source cultures, and uses them as a lens to study those cultures, the immigrant experience, the human condition and gender roles. This book resonates on so many levels.  If you like historical fiction and don’t mind it with a heaping dollop of fantasy, then you’ll like this thoughtful, well written book.   And that’s our book report section for today.

OK.  Time for the knitting news.  I had a bit of a hiccup on the toboggan cap with ribbing that I was working on.  I was at the part where you “hem” it — picking up each of the stitches of the provisional cast on and knitting them together (k2tog) with the working stitches when I dropped a stitch. Didn’t realize I’d dropped it until I had gotten a quarter of the way around the hat from it.  Wondered why it looked funny just there, and realized what had happened.  (That little blue padlock looking thingie in the picture above is a stitch marker I’ve used to grab and hold the dropped stitch to keep it from laddering (6) any further.)  I had to “tink” (where you unknit work a stitch at a time) everything I’d done up to that point, pick the stitch up, then continue.  Grumble, grumble.  So glad I caught it, though.

So here’s that same hat nearly finished, doing the decreases by which you knit the top closed. I’ve decreased the number of stitches to the point I’ve had to go to double pointed needles because it’s too small to fit on my 16-inch circular needle.  More of those little padlock thingies, stitch markers because in order to do the decreases, you have to divide the 90 stitches you’ve had on your needles since the start into 9 groups of 10, and do “ssk, knit to the next marker”until you’ve only 9 stitches left.  Then you snip the yarn, pull the yarn end through each of the 9 stitches and drawstring it closed, and secure the loose end.

So I finally finished it this morning and I mostly like how it turned out.

However, I’m going to try again, and this time alter where the ribbed section falls.  The “hem” is 4-1/2 inches deep.  Instead of 1 inch of stockinette, 3 inches of ribbing and 1/2 inch of stockinette, I’m going to try 1/2 inch of stockinet, 3 inches of ribbing and 1 inch of stockinette, and see if I like that better.

Here’s what the inside looks like.  The ribbing makes it fit much more securely on the head.  But the ribbing is too far down and makes the turned edge look weird.

I’m trying again using that “Moda Dea Dream” yarn that’s half acrylic and half nylon that I got a whole bunch of when AM brought that huge plastic bin of yarn in.  The yarn is an ersatz angora and it is very FUZZY!  I’m using the black, which is going to be problematic, not because it’s so FUZZY, but because when you knit with black yarn, it’s hard to “read” the stitches, because black.  This must have been really old yarn, because one of the skeins that had a paper band on it had a price tag of 43 cents.  However, acrylic and nylon last forever.  That white stuff in the picture is the string I’m using to do the provisional cast on around. The yarn is a lot easier to knit with than I was afraid it would be, it being so FUZZY and all.  But it’s every bit as soft as angora and not the least bit scratchy.

I’m going to leave you with this blast from the past from the legendary Peter, Paul and Mary because its sly silliness.

Concerns Addressed

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Friday a week ago, I called my landlady about my concerns, namely the kitchen light, the AC (and my $155 electric bill!) and the tree and bush that need trimming.

She said by all means call the electrician and call the AC guy and have them come out.  I was also able to sweet talk her into paying for a yard guy to come out to deal with the bush between the garages, which not only has two elm tree seedlings growing up through it, but which is encroaching onto the opening of “B’s” garage, and the big locust tree by the side gate (at left) which had been lopped off about six feet from the ground, and which has been growing out from the stump.

So, Monday, I had my annual checkup appointment at the VA, and had to be there at 8 a.m. for labs (so did everybody else in the world, apparently — I waited an hour for it to be my turn! Thankfully, my appointment wasn’t until 10 a.m.).  I also intended to go by Monday afternoon to have a nice long visit with my friend LB who is having her third go-round with breast cancer.  (The library was closed for 4th of July, so no knitting group on Tuesday.)  I brought her the yarn I had gotten for her daughter (which is definitely Lion Brand Homespun yarn, and I think it may be the “Painted Desert” colorway. )

I got home from my VA appointment at about 11 o’clock, but couldn’t go by LB’s until after noon because she had a late morning doctor’s appointment also, so I called the electrician and the AC guy and got voicemail, as I figured I would.  The AC guys go nuts during summer, and I figured it would be several days before he could fit me in.  But before I could leave to go visit LB, the AC guy called back. He was out on a job but if I could be home before 4 pm, he could fit me in! Oh, joy!

LB and I had a lovely visit, knitting and chatting.  LB is a reader, too, and we share many of the same tastes in reading matter.  She gets her chemo treatments on Tuesdays (except she got last week off), and Mondays are her best days in terms of how she feels and how much energy she has.  This next Tuesday will begin her last cycle of chemo, and then they will put her on a maintenance regimen (pills) with this new drug that was just approved by the FDA for her type of breast cancer — which her current oncologist thinks was misdiagnosed on her first go-round as hormone positive, when it actually wasn’t, and it was treated as hormone-positive twice.  Her current doc thinks this is the reason it has recurred twice. This go-round, she has supposedly been given the correct chemotherapy regimen, which hopefully will do the job.  A bunch of us, especially her husband and daughter, have fingers crossed that this time chemo will have gotten it all, and that we’ll all get to keep her for quite a while longer.

When I got home about 3:30-ish I had hardly gotten in the door before the AC guy called.  He showed up shortly thereafter, diagnosed my problem as a lack of cool juice, topped it off, and I was good to go.  While he was doing a “wellness check” on the rest of the AC setup,  the electrician called me back.  Shortly thereafter, the electrician came by to look at the kitchen light.  Turns out the electrician and the AC guy know each other.  So they chat while the electrician is fixing the light and the AC guy is adjusting the self-closing mechanism on my storm door (!) to where it will actually close the door instead of just nearly closing it (did I mention that the AC guy is really nice?).  The electrician gave the kitchen light a squint and decided that the prongs on that one light socket were cattywompus.  He adjusted the prongs and so far, it’s been working fine.

I haven’t called the “specialist” yard guy yet, but I will Monday.  He’s the same guy I called to weed my flower bed last year — he and his wife are these tiny Hispanic people — he’s shorter than I am (I’m 5’4″), — and noticeably thinner (!).  Whether he can see to the tree will depend on whether he has a chain saw.  If he does, it will be interesting to see him go after that tree trunk with it.  If I have my druthers, I’d like that trunk to be taken down to ground level.  That way, the “regular” yard guys can lop off any shoots that come out of it with the strimmer when they mow the lawn.  While I’ve got him, I might see if he can lop a couple branches off the honey locust in the back yard.  There is one particular branch that’s entirely too close to the power line from the pole to the house for my liking.  I could take it off with my bow saw, but I’d have to borrow a ladder to reach it.

In the knitting news, I’m writing a hat pattern, with a poofy big top part (like a Rastacap) and I’m doing the test knit out of the other “odd” skein of what is definitely Lion Brand Homespun yarn that I had gotten week before last when AM brought that huge bin of yarn to knitting group.  It’s a variegated dark pink/white yarn which could be their colorway “Cherry Blossom” or “Parfait” — hard to tell from the small swatch on their website.  Beside the knitting is one of my Bubba stainless steel tumblers.   I got more the last time I shopped, and now have four of them.  They’re top rack dishwasher safe.  I may end up getting two more since it takes me so durn long to dirty enough dishes to make up a full dishwasher load — which is another reason I’m glad I have twelve plates of both sizes in my dishes pattern.

I finished the cabled hat (right) and cowl I was working on and finished another Coriolis chemo hat (below)with the left over yarn from a toboggan cap I made for LB.  It seems there’s just enough yarn in a skein of that Red Heart Unforgettable yarn to make a toboggan hat and a Coriolis chemo hat, with about a Tootsie Roll Pop size ball of yarn left over.  I may end up knotting all those little balls of yarn together and make a toboggan cap of many colors for my BFF.  She’d be up for that.

Next payday, I need to get some 24-inch ChiaoGoo Red Lace circular needles in various sizes (US 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, & 10). I love those needles.  The taper on the points is just perfect for the way I knit, and makes things like K3tog’s and sssk’s so much easier.  If you like to do lace knitting, you should try some out because of the long-taper points.

However, I’d buy them just for the way they do the “circular” bit on their circular needles.  It is so flexible and has no “memory” of being coiled, unlike the nylon used in almost all the other circular knitting needles I’ve seen.  The “business ends” of the circular needles (and their DPN’s are polished stainless steel (which means they are slick!) and not powder coated in different colors like some metal knitting needles.  The join between the connecting bit and the needle proper is also very smooth. They are also very competitively priced, around $9-$11 a set depending on the length and size.  If you can’t find the ones you want on Amazon, try Smartisans.

KC in knitting group loves bamboo needles.  She says metal needles hurt her hands, but I think that’s because metal needles are too slick for the way she knits.  (I’m pretty sure she’s a “thrower.”) I think she hates the Unforgettable yarn because it does not work well with the bamboo needles, which aren’t as slippery as the metal ones, and don’t let the yarn slide as freely as metal needles (especially the ChiaoGoos) do.  Consequently, because it is a single ply yarn, it has a tendency to “spread out” and split.  In the end, though, it all comes down to how you knit, and you have to knit with a particular kind of needles to see if you’re going to like them.

To change the subject without segue, I’ve always noticed some “tendencies” I have when I’m writing, either on the keyboard or “manually” with a pen.  I’m a phonetic speller, which is why I’ve been trying to spell “sword” without the “w” for literally decades.  The vagaries of English spelling are legion and fraught with pitfalls and exceptions, especially for a phonetic speller. (“I” before “E” except after “C” or unless it sounds “ay” as in “neighbor” and “weigh” — or unless it’s “weird.”)  I continually try to leave out the first “e” in “variegated” and I can never remember where the double “L” in “parallel” goes, or whether “puzzle” is spelled “EL” or “LE,” And if “knitting” has a “K,” why doesn’t “needle” have one?

My biggest stumbling block, though, is homophones — which are, as you may recall, words that are pronounced the same but are spelled differently, like there/their/they’re, to/too/two and so/sew.  English, because its vocabulary is a big packrat’s nest of borrowings from multiple languages and because of its wonky spelling (which is Gutenberg’s fault*, BTW), has hundreds of them.  When I’m in first-draft mode — typing down my thoughts as fast as they come off the top of my head, I’ll  come to a word that’s a homophone, and type the wrong one.  I used to do it about half the time, but this tendency has gotten noticeably worse over the years.  Now, I pretty much do it every time.  I will be flying along and want the word “meet” and will invariably type “meat” as sure as sure.  Lately, I’ve been finding that things are neither hear nor their.  I have grate expectations, fetes worse than death (I bet you’ve been to a couple of those, too), and sew many things are the worse for where.  I’ve been tied up in nots (haven’t we all), been caught knapping, and have fallen pray to confusion. It’s beginning to bee a bit two much.

*During the 15th century, English was in the throes of a massive pronunciation change in the form of the great vowel shift at the same time that Latin, Anglo-Saxon, Norman French, and Norse spellings and pronunciations were being homogenized into early modern English and letters we didn’t pronounce any more were getting weeded out.  We were only about halfway through sorting out this orthographical mish-mash and what does Johannes Gutenberg do but go and invent the printing press. Thomas Caxton gets wind of it, and the next thing you know, the whole half-sorted mess has been (type)set into printed concrete.  So the next time you are wrestling with English spelling and it’s beating you in straight falls, blame Gutenberg.

Happy 4th, I Guess

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I’m completely and thoroughly disgusted with the current administration, and especially the dumpster fire in the Oval Office, but I’m not going to get into a big political rant.  I’m just going to share a little thought with all those people who want to keep those immigrants from coming to America and taking our jobs and being foreign and probably terrorists, etc., etc.

Every single person in this country is either an immigrant or descended from an immigrant.  Every single person, including the Native Americans, is either descended from somebody who came to this country from someplace else or who immigrated themselves from someplace else.  EVERY SINGLE PERSON.

So, while we’re sending all the Middle Eastern and Hispanic imigrants back where they came from, send all the founding fathers’ descendants back to England where they came from, and the descendants of all the Dutch and Germans and French and other Europeans back to Europe where they came from, and all the Blacks the English and Anglos dragged over here from Africa in chains to be slaves — they didn’t want to come here in the first place.  Send all the Chinese, and Southeast Asians, and the Indians back where they came from, and send the Native Americans back to Asia where they came from, too.

No picking and choosing and playing favorites, now.  If you’re going to send the immigrants back, send them all back.

No?  You just want to send the illegal ones back?  OK.  The Native Americans can stay.  They were here first. But everybody else who came after them are illegal squatters, and they have to go.

And while I’m laying ideas on your head, try this one on for size.  Tonight, after you’ve locked all your doors, and turned off the lights, and lay down in your nice comfortable bed between clean sheets, think about this as you’re lying there in the darkness:  What if you didn’t have a safe place to sleep?

Think about that.

What if not just you, but your whole family, had no place to sleep where you could be assured that no one would come up on you while you were sleeping and hurt you or your children and/or steal your stuff. No place to sleep where somebody wouldn’t be able to get to you while you were sleeping and put a knife at your throat to keep you quiet while they did whatever they wanted to.

Think about that. . .

A Twilight Zone Moment

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Thought I would work on a hat that has a cable on.  Wished I knew where my skinny cable needle was.  The fat one will work, but the skinny one would, in this case, work better.  Looked around on my desk for it.  Remembered I hadn’t seen it in my little dish for quite a while.  Looked through the gallon Ziplock bags I use for project bags, found the as yet unfinished hat that has a cable in it, but the needle wasn’t in there.  Thought about tearing up the world looking for it, but I decided I wasn’t that keen on finding it. Sat down at my desk and was working on the ribbed toboggan and heard what sounded like the fat(cat)boy playing with something hard on the sheet of plywood my chair and desk are on.  I was going to ignore it, but then I thought it might be a stitch marker, which is plastic, brittle, and could be eaten, and thought I’d better see what it was he was playing with.  Would you believe it was my skinny cable needle?  No idea how (or when) it got on the floor where he could find it and play with it.  It has a few teeth nicks in one end like he might have tried to pick it up in his mouth.  The weirdest thing about the whole episode is while I was looking for it and not finding it, I said to him, “Why don’t you find my skinny cable needle?” Cue the Twilight Zone theme.

April’s electric bill was $75 (£57); May’s electric bill was $90 (£64);  Just got my bill for June –$155!!! (£118).  Went to set my AC on 80F (26.6 C) and saw that, although the trigger temp was set for 78 F (25.5 C), the thermostat read 80F and the AC was just running and running and running.  Changed out the thermostat batteries and reset the trigger temp to 80 F and it’s only running very intermittently.  I think I’m having the AC guy out after the holidays. (July 4).

Last night at about 2 a.m. we had an old fashioned thunder boomer and it bucketed down for a good half hour.  Much needed rain.  It’s supposed to get up to 100 F (37.7 C) tomorrow, with high’s in the mid to high 90’s for the next ten days.  Our relative humidity is 68% at the moment (stop snickering, SA!). I’ve got a fan blowing on my cable modems and computer tower (which are side by side) so I don’t fry my motherboard or modems.

I counted just now and I’ve got six different hats in progress.  I get bored with one and switch to another.  I think I’m going to see if my cousin in Capitan, NM would like some hat/cowl sets to raffle off this fall as a fund raiser for their library.  The yarn I’m using for the above hat is not really soft enough for a chemo hat, but I’ve got enough yarn to make the matching cowl.  I’ve also got a skein of the Homespun yarn I got from AM at knitting group that’s white and rose variegated. I think I can get a hat and cowl out of one skein of it.  Seems like I did before.  I might do a couple of man cowls, too, for the sake of equal opportunity.

Here’s what I’ve got so far on the toboggan cap with ribbing. After thinking about it, I did 1.5 inches of stockinette (which curls like crazy) followed by 3 inches of ribbing.  Then the rest of the hat will be stockinette. The ribbing will be on the inside of the hem.  I’ll see how it looks, and if I like it, I’ll write the pattern up and put it on my knitting blog. In a provisional cast on, you cast on over a piece of scrap yarn (some of that Lily’s Sugar & Cream cotton yarn). That’s what those strings hanging off the bottom are.  I have several lengths of it that I keep in my little dish and reuse.

Now, I’ve got to call the stupid cable company and find out if the $10 (£8) that my bill went up is just a one-shot deal or if I need to start looking for cheaper cable.  Then I’m going to bed.  Now that I’ve turned the AC down, I may be sleeping under just a top sheet.

Book Review Time

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The Thief
The Queen of Attolia
The King of Attolia
A Conspiracy of Kings
Thick as Thieves

by Megan Whalen Turner

This is one of those series of books that you really ought to read in order.  While each book can and does stand alone, this is a tale that unfolds like a flower, one petal at a time, and you owe it to yourself to let yourself enjoy it the way it was meant to be enjoyed.  Take Humpty-Dumpty’s advice.  Begin at the beginning, go on to the end,  then stop — and then wish that there was more to the tale!

So:  Imagine a land that looks like Greece but isn’t, inhabited by a people with Greek sounding names, who worship gods with Greek sounding names, but who have pocket watches, window glass, and flintlocks.  They speak a common language, worship common gods, but have divided themselves into three separate states: Sounis, Eddis and Attolia:  The queendom* of Eddis is both protected and trapped within its mountainous geography.  It is sandwiched between the kingdom of Sounis on one hand, and the queendom of Attolia on the other.  The king of Sounis covets Attolia, Eddis, and especially Eddis’ queen.  The Queen of Attolia is struggling to keep her throne and her power against the machinations of the large empire of Mede across the sea to the south.  Like the wolf at the door, Mede is hungry to get a foothold on their shores by using intrigue and influence to gain control of all three states, and another powerful empire to the north of them is equally determined not to let this happen.

The tale starts with The Thief, whose name is Gen, locked in the palace dungeons of the king of Sounis for being what he is, a thief.  It’s a heist tale, suspenseful and exciting; it sets the stage for everything that comes after.  By the end of it we have come to understand the where’s and why’s of the story, and have met all the important who’s but one.

The second book continues the career of Gen the thief, and introduces us to the last of the key players, The Queen of Attolia, a woman who must walk a tightrope to stay one step ahead of the machinations of the Mede ambassador who already sees himself as Attolia’s next king.  When Gen falls into her clutches, she takes something important from him, but he steals something much more important from her.

In The King of Attolia, the third book, Attolia gets the king it needs but doesn’t want, and in order for Gen the thief to obtain the one thing he wants most, he also has to take what comes with it — which is the last thing he wants

I think the story was originally supposed to end here, but I can see how Ms. Turner couldn’t let it go.  There was still one person who needed to tell his story.

In the fourth book, A Conspiracy of Kings, the chief advisor of Sounis’ young apprentice, whom we met in The Thief, gets to tell his tale.  It is the story of how a boy becomes a man, how a man becomes a king, and how the young apprentice puts the heir of Sounis on his throne.

I suspect that Ms. Turner succumbed to the plea that every story teller hopes to hear, “Just one more story!  Please!”  That “one more story” is Thick as Thieves. In it, the chief slave of the former Mede ambassador to the court of Attolia tells how Attolia’s king enacted his revenge on both master and slave.

I was lucky that the first three books were already out when I started The Thief.  I only had to wait two days for the second and third books to arrive from Amazon.  I read them again when the fourth book came out, and have just finished reading them all again now that the fifth book is out.  I know at some point I’ll want to read them all again.  Yes, they are that good.  By the end of the first chapter of The Thief, the characters had stepped off the page and into the miniseries that was playing in my head as I continued reading.  As I said at the start of this, do yourself a favor and read the books in order.  Just when you think you know how the tale is going to go, the tale takes an unexpected twist. Things are not what they seem, and people are not who you think they are.

Oh, and did I mention the volcano?

*Don’t tell me a queendom isn’t a thing.  If a country ruled by a king is a kingdom, then a country ruled by a queen is a queendom.  Sit down and hush.