A Yarn Over That Didn’t Go Over Well at All

I’ve been keeping my holiday knitting close at hand while I work.  One main holiday project is at the “mindless knitting” stage, where it’s mostly all either knitting or purling and I don’t have to pay that much attention to what I’m doing.  When I’m working on VR reports, I don’t have to type all that much, so I knit while I’m reading. I have a TV table set up next to my computer where I keep the the knitting, and the infamous orange glass ashtray where the working ball of yarn sits. .

Although I work til midnight, I usually stay up until about 6 a.m. reading blogs and whatnot.  I had been knitting Sunday morning, but I had set it aside for a bit.  Apparently, when I did so, I’d left some yarn dangling.   About 5:30, the board construct that I use to sequester my computer from the one that chews cords and the one that gets up onto my printer and eats the paper, fell over.   When I got up to deal with the knocked over “door,” I discovered there was unwound yarn all over the floor, clear around the book cases to the doorway.

The white one had apparently hooked down the dangling yarn and started playing with it and somehow in the process, he had gotten the yarn wrapped several times around his left hind leg.  When I tried to free him he commenced growling, snapping and fighting.  I thought the yarn was just looped a time or two around his leg, but because he was fighting against it so, I couldn’t get any slack to try to get it off.  I ended up cutting the yarn to release the tension on what was wound around his leg, thinking that once the tension was off, I could just hook the yarn with my finger and pull it off him.  But, it quickly became apparent that the yarn was looped and twisted several times around his leg and it wasn’t going to just fall off with a tug or two.

Hind_Leg_Anatomy_by_DezlinIn case you are not familiar with kitty anatomy, they walk on tiptoes, and that big bend in the cat’s hind leg is actually its heel.  The knee is very high up, right next to the body.  The white one had gotten the yarn wound around his leg  up above his heel.

Compounding the problem is the fact that the white one does not like to be fooled with.  He doesn’t like being brushed, never has, and no amount of bribery will change his mind.  He doesn’t like having his mats clipped, or having his ears cleaned, or having his paw pads looked at, or anything of the kind.  He just does not want anybody messing with him.

I did manage to determine that the yarn was not tightly wound and was not cutting off the blood circulation, but I had also determined it was wrapped several times around his leg and appeared to be twisted.  It was too tight to slide down past his heel, and the only way I was going to get it off was to cut it.  But, when I’d try to get at it, he’d snarl and snap and twist away.  Trying to immobilize him by holding the scruff of his neck only made him struggle and yowl, and totally freaked out the other two, who were pretty jumpy, too.

By now it was almost 8 o’clock of a Sunday morning, two hours past my bedtime, and I had to work Sunday night.  There was no way I was going to be able to go to sleep as long as that yarn was wrapped around the white one’s leg.  My regular vet wasn’t open on Sunday, of course, but there is an emergency vet clinic that is.  (One of the vets who founded the clinic I go to had sold his part of the practice to the other two and had retired, but apparently, retirement palled quickly and he decided to open up this emergency after hours clinic.)  I called just to make sure there was going to be somebody there, and there would be.

Getting the white one in a carrier practically takes an act of congress.  They were all very interested and growl-y about mommy getting the large carrier out of the closet.  I stood it on end against the wall and opened the door, so I could just lower him down into it.  Then I went to get my “outside” clothes on.  When I was nearly finished dressing, I turned the water on in the bathroom sink, which draws the white one like a magnet.  While he was lulled into a false sense of drinking at the sink, I finished dressing and went to get one of the kitty towels.   It was an amazingly simple matter to throw the towel over him, grab him and stuff him in the carrier, towel and all.  He didn’t even fight very much.  I think by that point he was just so stressed he was exhausted.  Poor old man.

So, the white one was the first kitty to get to ride in the new car.  Thankfully, the clinic is not that far away.  At this point, I should point out that it costs $85 just to walk in the door of this clinic.  Anything else is extra.  So, I filled out paperwork, and they called me back, and I told my tale of woe and yarn.  (If I’d had somebody to hold the little rascal, like the vet would, I would probably have been able to get the yarn off him myself.)  I told the tech they needed to put a muzzle on him, because he will bite.  The tech took the carrier into the back room and I was left to wait.  I heard no yowling or yelling.  Turns out, it was a simple matter of taking the carrier apart, taking the top part off, slapping a muzzle on him, snipping off the yarn, and Hey, presto, Bob’s yer uncle.  That’ll be $85, please.

Home again, home again, with a much chastened white one, who, typically, emerged from the carrier all hissy face and growly puss, and the minute the other two got wind of him, they were all puffed out and ready to repel boarders, too.  It took them the better part of an hour to hiss and make up, so it was sneaking up on 11 o’clock before I was able to get to sleep.

I’d been asleep about two hours when my mom called.  After church, she’d gone to eat with friends at Red Lobster.  One of the ladies had brought her some desert bread for me, and she wanted to bring it by.  Up I got and waited the 8 or so minutes for her to get to my house from Red Lobster, got my bread, stashed it in the kitchen and then got maybe an hour and a half of sleep before the alarm went off at 3 p.m. and I had to go to work.   Now it’s Monday morning, and I’m sleeping in, thank you very much.

The Winter Solstice

hollykingToday marks the astronomical milestone which is the the Winter Solstice.  In practical terms, it is the shortest day of the year, the longest night of the year.

The Holly King is at the height of his power today, but henceforth until Midsummer’s day, the days lengthen and, at the Vernal Equinox, the tipping point when the day and night are of equal length,  the Oak King deposes him and reigns.  .  . until the Autumnal Equinox, when the Holly King deposes him again . 3562f98b9bd5467da4cfad6171c69415. .

The Holly King is the pagan core over which Father Christmas/Saint Nicholas accreted, and our current midwinter festivities are but echos and re-echos of midwinter celebrations that stretch back to the dawn of time.   We may have changed the reason for the celebration countless times over the millennia, but we still celebrate the yearly triumph of light over darkness and the return of the sun. tumblr_mcy66pwX851rkqzteo1_500

And while the twin aspects of Cernunnos tussle back and forth as to who is to rule the year, the Eternal Goddess, a young maiden at the spring of the year, the gravid mother in summer, lies wearily down an old crone in Winter’s bed at the year’s end.  In Scotland, the Goddess of the year’s end is the Cailleach Bhéara, the veiled old woman.

The wheel of the year is always turning; each season gives way to the next.  Winter is the time of rest, of hibernation, of renewal.  Soon enough, winter will give way to spring.  It is a thought to bear in mind through the cold weather yet to come.

‘Tis the Season

First off, I follow the blog of a lady who lives in the Orkney Islands off the north coast of Scotland.  (‘Twas she who turned me on to the seal cam which is currently off line until around November of next year, which is when the seals will be giving birth to next year’s pups.)  She had this video up on her blog, and it’s just too gorgeous not to share.  Views of the sea for all you inlanders like me (600 miles inland here), beautiful photography of the Orkneys in all their scenic splendor, and the music is just gorgeous.

The music is “Saylon Dola” by a British group called “Chameleon” from the eponymous album.  I’m such a sucker for beautiful voices singing in harmony.

And while we’re on the subject of the holidays, this video sort of captures what I like best about them — feasting with friends and family.

Mom had some people over Thursday, all folks we’ve known quite a while.  Lasagna and salad and some of my favorite people.  A good time was had by all.  As usual, I stayed after and helped mom clean up.  She used her silver flatware which has to be washed and dried by hand, and she hand-washed  the stuff there wasn’t room for in the dishwasher (she sat 10 to dinner) because my mom would not leave it sit dirty waiting for the load in the dishwasher to be done  . . . which is pretty much my mom in a nutshell.  But, as I remarked to her, while she’s washing and I’m drying — the silver flatware has to be carefully and completely dried — we have time to talk.

My mom loves to entertain, and she sets such a beautiful table.   She’s old school, from back in the day when you had to have “proper entertaining  things” like china and crystal, and silver, nice table cloths and napkins, chafing dishes and special dishes for things.  Nobody does that kind of entertaining anymore.  In a way, it’s a shame.  It’s nice to have an occasion you dress up especially for, and use nice things especially for.

I’ve spent most of the evening with a kitty curled up on my chest.   It’s a good thing I’m a touch typist, typing what I hear, because there were times (when she decided to stand up and stretch, and walk around a bit before settling back down) I couldn’t see around her.  Having kitty snuggles is one of the perks of working from home, along with being able to wear warm comfy stuff and have a laprobe on and type while sitting in a recliner and eating at my desk. . .    Baby girl turned 10 this year.  How time flies.  The black one has been unusually vocal tonight.  You’d think from his size he’d have a basso profundo, but he’s got this high treble yeow! of a meow.  Funny.   The white one sings all the time, but the black one doesn’t so much.

I want a small piece of knitting to take with me when my mom and I go on our trip to Houston — I won’t be able to knit in the car while we’re going — seeing as how I’m driving!   but I want something that’s small and not complicated that will keep my hands busy while we’re sitting and talking — as I’m sure we will be doing.  At the knitting group Christmas party, we all took an inexpensive knitting- or crochet-related gift, drew numbers and took our pick, either from the unchosen gifts, or we could “steal” a gift somebody before us had gotten — but a gift could only be “stolen” once.  My friend S got a gift that had the cutest little rose pink beret in it, which would have looked darling on her — and it got “stolen” —  I thought I might get a skein of rose colored knitting worsted and do a little beret for her.  As I’ve said before those of us who love knitting, don’t need a reason to knit — we knit because we love to knit.  What we need are excuses to knit.  This would be a good excuse.  It would be small enough to tuck in my purse and carry around.  Either a beret, or one of those necklette things

History, History as Soap Opera, and Herstory

The saying, “History is written by the winners.” is intended to  point up the fact that there is some kind of bias and/or some form of agenda in every historical record.  Details are edited out, misrepresented or just plain usurped based on their relevance and/or importance to whatever the agenda happens to be.

Film and television have their own unique agenda and “historical” dramas can be biased in any of a number of ways by any combination of the writers, the actors, or the “funding body” — the network, studio, or sponsors who put up the money for the production.  These dramas are well known for playing fast and loose with historical fact and period costume.  It is ridiculous to expect any but a perfunctory nod to historical accuracy from any historical movie  in general, especially those set in the Medieval period.

I mention this because Wednesday, I watched the first season of the TV series “Reign” purportedly based on the life of Mary Stuart, Queen of Scotland,” which is, as you might suspect, wildly historically inaccurate — as a case in point, it postulates a bastard son of Henri II and a young, sexy Diane de Poitiers (who in reality was 20 years older than Henri), who is called “Bash” — short for Sebastian — upon whom his father dotes at the expense of his legitimate sons by Catherine de’ Medici Francis II is portrayed as blond and soldierly.  He was, in reality, frail, a stutterer, and abnormally short — much shorter than his 5’11” bride — who was two years older than he was.  Mary’s four ladies in waiting are called “Greer,” “Kenna,” “Aylee,” and “Lola.”  (They were, in fact, all named “Mary” — Beaton, Seton, Fleming, and Livingston — which, I’ll grant you, would have been confusing.) The costumes are as, if not more, laughable than the historical accuracy.  You could call it historical soap opera, but I call it “hysterical fiction.”

This historical revision for the purpose of entertainment is nothing new.  Shakespeare is more than a little guilty of it.  Of course, Shakespeare’s sources of information on the later Plantagenet kings (Richard II, Henry IV, Henry V and Richard III) and, in particular, Richard III, have a significant Tudor bias to begin with, but Shakespeare’s Richard III with his withered arm and hunched back has since turned out to be as much theatrical scenery chewing as Tudor propaganda.  When the grave and the remains of Richard III were found, he did indeed have a crooked back — he suffered from scoliosis — but he did not have a withered arm or a “humped” back, and had no anatomical evidence of a limp, which brings up another point:  History is not only written by the winners, but for the winners.

In the course of making it fit the winning agenda, history can be edited — conveniently leaving out inconvenient details, emphasis can be shifted — what we call “spin doctoring,”  contributions by the less powerful group can be “hijacked” by the more powerful group who then take credit for them, outright lies can be promoted as historical fact — we can see this most clearly in the revisionist history of dictators and totalitarian regimes, or the talents and abilities of one group can be systematically minimized, subverted, ignored and glossed over in order to aggrandize the “winners.”   I am thinking here of one group of people, women, whose contributions have been so consistently overlooked, marginalized, subverted and underrepresented for so long — millennia — that we are not even aware of the amount of bias that is built into the world we know.  As a way of emphasizing how pervasive this bias is, works that set the record straight have come to be referred to as “herstory.”

I make this point because December 10th was the 199th birthday of mathematician Ada Byron King.  Her daddy is world famous, but I’ll bet you’ve never heard of her.  And December 11th was the 151st birthday of astrophysicist Annie Jump Cannon.  You’ve probably never heard of her either.   I wonder why that is?


Worthy Causes and Good Excuses

IMG_0872I enjoy knitting.  I like the process.  IMG_0870 I like knitting baby booties, especially now that I can do them two at a time using the Magic Loop method.  I have a pattern I worked out that I think meets the two key criteria: They’re cute, and they stay on the baby.  Especially that last criterion.  I make them like bobby socks or crew socks with a long ribbed top that folds down into a cuff.

I like to keep some knitted up just in case.  There’s a lady in the knitting group who just had a baby.  It was a little girl.   I did some for her, and she said they’re the only booties she has that will stay on the baby.  Actually only the bootie itself is knitted.  I crochet an edge on the cuff in a contrasting  color.  What a little cutie!

Here’s the pattern:

Two-at-a-Time Toe-Up Socks

Knit 2 socks at a time on one circular needle (“Magic Loop” method).

Sock Size: US 8-1/2 /UK 6, Euro 39 shoe Using bulky yarn, size 10 US (6.0 mm/UK 4)
Baby booties: fingering yarn on size 2 (2.75 mm/ UK12) needles.

Using the Turkish Cast on method, or “Judy’s Magic Cast on method,”
Cast on 10 stitches (5 stitches on each needle)
Row 1: K. Place a stitch marker to mark the top/instep side of the sock
Row 2-6: Increase by knitting front and back in the 1st and last stitch on each row. (increase from 5 to 15 on each needle, 30 stitches total.)
Row 7- N: K

(try the sock on. With foot flat on the floor, when edge of knitting on the instep touches the leg, begin turning the heel.)

Place a marker on the side where the heel will go.

Fleegle Heel
Increase stitches on the heel needle to 28 (30 minus2). After each increase row on the heel needle, knit on around to get back to that needle to do the next increase row.
Row 1: K2, inc1, k6, inc 1, K to second to last stitch, inc1, K2 (15+3 =18 stitches)
Row 2: K
Row 3: K2, inc1, k to third to last stitch, inc1, K2. (20 stitches)
Row 4: K.
Row 5: K2, inc1, k to third to last stitch, inc1, K2. (22 stitches)
Row 6: K.
Row 7: K2, inc1, k to third to last stitch, inc1, K2. (24 stitches)
Row 8: P.
Row 9: K2, inc1, k to third to last stitch, inc1, K2. (26 stitches)
Row 10: K
Row 11: K2, inc1, k to third to last stitch, inc1, K2. (28 stitches)
Row 12: K

After increase, place marker half way between the stitches (14).
Row 1: Knit to 2 sts beyond marker. Slip, slip, knit 2 slipped sts tog, k1, turn work. (27)
Row 2: Slip 1, purl to 2 sts beyond marker, purl 2 tog, P1, turn work. (26)
Row 3: Slip 1, knit to 2 sts beyond marker. Slip, slip, knit 2 slipped sts tog, k1, turn work. (25)
Row 4: Slip 1, purl to 2 sts beyond marker, purl 2 tog, P1, turn work. (24)
Row 5: Slip 1, knit to 2 sts beyond marker. Slip, slip, knit 2 slipped sts tog, k1, turn work.(23)
Row 6: Slip 1, purl to 2 sts beyond marker, purl 2 tog, P1, turn work. (22)
Row 7: Slip 1, knit to 2 sts beyond marker. Slip, slip, knit 2 slipped sts tog, k1, turn work. (21)
Row 8: Slip 1, purl to 2 sts beyond marker, purl 2 tog, P1, turn work. (20)
Row 9: Slip 1, knit to 2 sts beyond marker. Slip, slip, knit 2 slipped sts tog, k1, turn work.(19)
Row 10: Slip 1, purl to 2 sts beyond marker, purl 2 tog, P1, turn work. (18)
Row 11: Slip 1, knit to 2 sts beyond marker. Slip, slip, knit 2 slipped sts tog, k1, (17),
continue around the instep.
Row 12: Knit back around to the heel needle, K1, K2 tog (16), K to within 2 stitches of the end of the needle and knit those 2 tog. (15)

Continue knitting around until you want to start ribbing (K1, P1), and knit the ribbing as high as you want it.

Do Stretchy Bind Off to finish the socks.

Crochet edging:

Row 1:  sc very loosely in the top of every knitted stitch (30 sc)
Row 2:  Ch1, sc in each sc.
Row 3:  Ch 1, *sc in first sc,  skip 2 sc, 6 dc in next sc, skip 2 sc, sc in next sc.* Repeat from * four times.  Skip 2 sc, 6 dc in next sc, skip 2 sc, slip stitch in sc at the beginning of the row.  Fasten thread.

Books Read in 2014

At the moment, I’m averaging about a book every 3.235849056643774 days, just FMOI.   I’ve got a bunch of ebooks on my Kindle I really need to be reading . . . .  I also need to reorganize my bookshelves and put the books I’ve gotten since the move into the alphabetical order I had going when I shelved my books following the move.  People say that’s being obsessive, but it isn’t.  It’s being orderly.( . . Do your research, people!).  I like to be able to put my hand on a book quickly when I want it, not have to go rummaging about through the stacks. . .

106. The Chrestomanci Chonicles III, Wynne Jones, Diana
105. Underground (Greywalker #3), Richardson, Kat
104. Across the Great Barrier: Frontier Magic #2, Wrede, Patricia
103. The Chrestomanci Chonicles III, Wynne Jones, Diana
102. Outcast, Sutcliff, Rosemary
101. A Conspiracy of Kings, Turner, Megan Whalen
100. The King of Attolia (The Queen’s Thief, Book 3), Turner, Megan Whalen
99. Vanished (Greywalker #4), Richardson, Kat
98. The Thirteenth Child: Frontier Magic #1, Wrede, Patricia
97. The Queen of Attolia (The Queen’s Thief, Book 2), Turner, Megan Whalen
96. The Thief (The Queen’s Thief, Book 1), Turner, Megan Whalen
95. The Face in the Frost, Bellars, John
94. The Pedant and the Shuffly, Bellairs, John
93. The Chrestomanci Chonicles I, Wynne Jones, Diana
92. House of Many Ways, Wynne Jones, Diana
91. Poltergeist (Greywalker #2), Richardson, Kat
90. Howl’s Moving Castle, Wynne Jones, Diana
89. Greywalker (Greywalker #1), Richardson, Kat
88. Frontier Wolf, Sutcliff, Rosemary
87. Dawn Wind, Sutcliff, Rosemary
86. Slow River, Griffith, Nicola
85. Ten Ever-lovin’ Blue-eyed Years with Pogo, Kelly, Walt (re-re-…re-reread)
84. Stay, Griffith, Nicola
83. The Return of Mr. Campion, Allingham, Margery
82. Traitor’s Purse: Albert Campion Mystery, Allingham, Margery
81. The Mind Readers: Albert Campion Mystery, Allingham, Margery
80. The Case of the Late Pig: Albert Campion Mystery, Allingham, Margery
79. The Witches of Karres, Schmitz, James H.
78. The Blue Place, Griffith, Nicola
77. Tithe: A Modern Faerie Tale, Black, Holly
76. Meet Me in the Moon Room, Vukcevich, Ray
75. Kushiel’s Chosen, Carey, Jacqueline
74. The Golem and the Jinni, Wecker, Helene
73. Kushiel’s Dart, Carey, Jacqueline
72. Fearsome Journeys (The New Solaris Book of Fantasy 1), Bear, Elizabeth, et. al.
71. Unnatural Creatures: Stories Selected by Neil Gaiman
70. The Beckoning Lady: Albert Campion Mystery, Allingham, Margery
69. Dancers in Mourning: Albert Campion Mystery, Allingham, Margery
68. Sweet Danger: Albert Campion Mystery, Allingham, Margery
67. Mystery Mile: Albert Campion Mystery, Allingham, Margery
66. The Fashion in Shrouds: Albert Campion Mystery, Allingham, Margery
65. Look to the Lady: Albert Campion Mystery, Allingham, Margery
64. Mr. Campion’s Lucky Day and Other Short Stories, Allingham, Margery
63. More Work for the Undertaker: Albert Campion Mystery, Allingham, Margery
62. Tiger in the Smoke: Albert Campion Mystery, Allingham, Margery
61. Death of a Ghost: Albert Campion Mystery, Allingham, Margery
60. Police at the Funeral: Albert Campion Mystery, Allingham, Margery
59. Flowers for the Judge: Albert Campion Mystery, Allingham, Margery
58. Pearls Before Swine: Albert Campion Mystery, Allingham, Margery
57. Miss Buncle Married, Stevenson, D. E.
56. Miss Buncle’s Book, Stevenson, D. E.
55. Vampires in the Lemon Grove, (short story anthology),Russell, Karen
54. Troubled Waters, Shinn, Sharon
53. Wakulla Springs (Novella), Duncan Andy, Klages, Ellen
52. Sethra Lavode, Book 3 of The Viscount of Adrilankha, Brust, Stephen
51. The Lord of Castle Black, Book 2 of The Viscount of Adrilankha, Brust, Stephen
50. Peacemaker, (Foreigner #15), Cherryh, C. J.
49. The Paths of the Dead, Book 1 of The Viscount of Adrilankha, Brust, Stephen
48. The Manual of Detection, Berry, Jedediah
47. Summer at Fairacre. Book 2 of Fairacre Affairs, Read, Miss
46. Village Centenary, Book 1 of Fairacre Affairs, Read, Miss
45. Assassin’s Assistant, Hobb, Robin
44. No Holly For Miss Quinn, Book 3 of Christmas at Fairacre, Read, Miss
43. The Christmas Mouse, Book 2 of Christmas at Fairacre, Read, Miss
42. Village Christmas, Book 1 of Christmas at Fairacre, Read, Miss
41. Life After Life, Atkinson, Kate
40. Storm in the Village, Book 3 of Chronicles of Fairacre, Read, Miss
39. Village Diary, Book 2 of Chronicles of Fairacre, Read, Miss
38. Village School, Book 1 of Chronicles of Fairacre, Read, Miss
37. *Shadow Magic, Wrede, Patricia
36. Harfang Book #1, Demilly, Aurore (graphic novel)
35. Iorich, Brust, Steven
34. Book of Enchantments, Wrede, Patricia
33. Cowboy Feng’s Space Bar and Grille, Brust, Steven
32. Jhegaala, Book 2 of The Book of Dzur, Brust, Steven
31. Dzur, Book 1 of The Book of Dzur, Brust, Steven
30. Tiassa, Brust, Steven
29. Issola, Book 2 of The Book of Dragon, Steven Brust
28. Dragon, Book 1 of The Book of Dragon, Brust, Steven
27. Orca, Book 2 of The Book of Athyra, Brust, Steven
26. Athyra, Book 1 of The Book of Athyra, Brust, Steven
25. Phoenix, Book 2 of The Book of Taltos, Brust, Steven
24. Taltos, Book 1 of The Book of Taltos, Brust, Steven
23. Sector General, White, James
22. Miss Pettigrew Lives For a Day, Watson, Winifred
21. Tekla, Book 3 of The Book of Jhereg, Brust, Steven
20. Yendi, Book 2 of The Book of Jhereg, Brust, Steven
19. Jhereg, Book 1 of The Book of Jhereg, Brust, Steven
18. Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant, Cliff, Tony (graphic novel)
17. By Blood We Live, Adams, John Joseph, editor
16. The Tenth Gift, Johnson, Jane
15. *The Birthday of the World, LeGuin, Ursula
14. The Lantern Bearers, Sutclif, Rosemary
13. The Silver Branch, Sutcliff, Rosemary
12. The Ocean at the End of the Lane, Gaiman, Neil
11. The Eagle of the Ninth, Sutcliff, Rosemary
10. A Phantom Lover, Lee, Vernon
9. Talking to Dragons, The Enchanted Forest Chronicles IV, Wrede, Patricia
8. Searching for Dragons, The Enchanted Forest Chronicles III, Wrede, Patricia
7. Dealing with Dragons, The Enchanted Forest Chronicles II, Wrede, Patricia
6. Calling on Dragons, The Enchanted Forest Chronicles I, Wrede, Patricia
5. Sharaz-de: Tales from the Arabian Nights, Toppi, Sergio (graphic novel)
4. *Clockwork Phoenix: Tales of Beauty and Strangeness, Allen, Mike, editor
3. *The Day They Brought the Bears to Belfast, Lee, Sharon (short story)
2. *Surfside, Lee, Sharon (short story)
1. *Life in a Tudor Palace, Gidlow, Christopher



Rhapsody has gone to new software that I don’t like.  For one thing, it won’t let you upload songs from your own hard drive into playlists anymore.   Like all the Welcome to Night Vale cuts I’ve edited the “commercials” out of that I have in a folder on my desktop.  Which means I can’t get to them at all from my my Kindle without downloading them and using up hard drive space I’d rather use for books, and I can’t access them on my internet radio unless I set the durn thing up to access my hard drive.   For another thing, this stupid new software doesn’t display both segments of my Sanza Clip Zip — the 8 GB of built in memory and the 32 GB card — which the other one did.  It also doesn’t seem to want to load playlists.  Just songs.  The Rhapsody software is built off Internet Explorer, which I detest.  (I’m a Firefox Girl all the way.)  They’re phasing everybody over from their old software,  so it doesn’t work any more.  It just tells you to download an update.  I downloaded the update, and now I can’t get the durn new software to load at all.  Grumble.  Grumble.  Grumble.

This voice recognition software I use for work continues to underperform. According to it, a doctor says,  “I’m going to see me back in six weeks.”  At least half the time, it’s more trouble than it’s worth.   On the other hand, sometimes you hear interesting things in the background, like a cuckoo clock. . .

Weird dream last night.  I dreamed that in my back yard, I first had a two legged foal (front and back diagonal) being fostered by what was supposed to be a raven (but which looked pretty bedraggled and albatross-y), that somehow morphed into a six legged foal (in-line like a centipede) fostered by a cat.  A man came over demanding to see it, and slammed a door to “flush it out of hiding” with the noise.  I had to almost literally run him out to get rid of him.  Then a group of hausfrauen, including Brooke Shields* showed up at my door wanting to see my house because it had been listed as being for sale without my knowledge by some real estate guy on the make.  They were all irate because I wasn’t selling my house after they had been told I was.  I like to never got rid of them.  Scattered in and amongst these scenes were incidents where I had to remove an unwilling cat or dog from where it didn’t belong., or deal with somebody’s obnoxious pets (“Oh, ha-ha! Isn’t he cute when he does that?” — Uh, no. ).


*Obviously, I’ve been watching too many Lazy Boy commercials.

Fun and Games on a Saturday Afternoon

One of the ER doctors I do is an excellent dictator, speaks plainly at a conversational rate, and the Voice Recognition software likes him.  Still, every now and then, he pitches one low and inside and the VR pops it up into the stands, like so, “She denies swimming or getting her ears excessively wet, although she does obviously date on a regular basis.”  Should have been “bathe on a regular basis . . .”  On another report, according to VR, “The patient smokes for the government.”

I’ve been doing a spate of Emergency Room notes and in one such, “Hibiclens,” which they use for wound cleansing in the ER, hit the spellchecker like a ton of bricks.  Best guess was “icicles.”  Which led, as things will, to a chorus or two of . . .

If you like your smooth jazz light and tuneful with a touch of whimsy in the lyrics,  Michael Franks is your go-to guy.

And third time’s the charm for the folks up East who have had snow. . .

I could knit for hours to this kind of music.  Good thing I have a Michael Franks playlist in Rhapsody and my Squeezebox internet radio can access it . . .


Bet You’ve Never Seen An Owl Swimming!

It’s a great horned owl, but still . . . .

Photos and video taken by Steve Spitzer, who captured the footage from Loyola Park Beach in Chicago’s Rogers Park neighborhood, after spotting the owl in the water, where it reportedly took refuge to escape peregrine falcons.

owlThe story did have a happy ending as it happens.   The owl did make it to shore and was unharmed.  It flew away shortly thereafter, grumpy but unbowed.  I’m surprised it’s not any wetter than it is.