The Desk Is All Sorted

2016_12_28-01I finished the Hat From The Blue Lagoon this afternoon, which was the only pressing project as it has to go into the mail when I go out tomorrow.  It was only about 2 o’clock so I bit the bullet and went after my cordless drill.  This is how my desktop was.  You can see how everything is all jammed 2016_12_28-02together and there’s hardly any room on the left hand side for a plate or anything especially if my knitting bowl is over there.   A glass or cup obscured a portion of my monitor.  A salad plate would barely fit before.  Now I can get a dinner plate over there, even when my knitting bowl is over there. You can see at right how crowded everything is on the table top.  My phone was back behind the right-hand monitor between it and the tower.   In the picture at top, you can see something green to the right of the desk (my trash can — there was a time when I could not have an uncovered waste basket in my house because a certain white cat would tip it over, rummage through the contents, eat anything paper in it, and then refund it on the carpet.  Alas he went to that great cat tree in the sky last year at the ripe old age of 15).  The new desk extends all the way over that green trash can to the black filing cabinet.

Well, I disentangled and disconnected all the computer equipment and moved it off to the side out of harm’s way (and the fat(cat)boy’s — have I mentioned he’s a cord chewer?), dragged the old desk out into the hall and took the legs off it.  They are nice sturdy, heavy, metal legs with casters on as you can see below.  I got the shrink wrap off the new Ikea table top flipped it over and began marking it to predrill for the screws that attach the legs.  The second hole I predrilled, I realized that the solid area ended about six inches in from each end, and beyond that, the desktop material was not2016_12_28-03 nearly as solid and was likely not going to hold the screws.  (It also explained why the table top was so light.) However, in each corner, holes had been predrilled so you could attach a set of Ikea legs to the table top, and that area was designed to hold screws in, so I had to position my metal legs where the screws would go into that area. However, that was no biggie. Did my predrilling, put the screws in, turned it back over and there it was.

2016_12_28-04I had some plastic shelf liner that looks like grass cloth which doesn’t completely cover the table top, but that’s OK.  It covers the bit where food or liquid might get spilt.  Then I put everything back on it and hooked it all up.  As you can see, there’s much more room on the left side for a glass or cup, my knitting bowl, and anything else I want to put there — All told, it took me about an hour and a half from start to finish, and cost $30 bucks.

When I bought the food for Thanksgiving dinner, I bought an extra container of dressing and froze it.  This last time I went grocery shopping, I bought some “Carving Board” turkey.  I thawed the dressing and put it in the oven about an hour ago, and I got my hammer and church key and opened a can of jellied cranberry sauce.  My timer just went off, which means the dressing is done — Dinner Time!

This Just In:  Yes, a dinner plate fits quite nicely to the right of my computer keyboard. I had brought home a share of the cheesy potatoes my mom made for Christmas dinner and I’m having them with my turkey, dressing and cranberry sauce.  Nums!

One more thing on the house sorting agenda is the sewing table still set up in my bedroom.  I still have that one more lap robe to do, and the table is starting to collect things — things that need to be dealt with — that I have parked there, intending to deal with them later.  Apparently, it’s not later yet.

I have a “preventive maintenance” dental appointment tomorrow, and I go see my PCP Friday who has been concerned about my blood pressure.  I have a cuff at home and I’ve been spot checking it, and I notice it is much improved now that I am over the stress of the move and have the house pretty well sorted.   Now that I have my new desktop in place, the reader’s table fixed, and the draft from the fireplace contained, I should be able to settle in and do some serious shawl knitting and binge TV watching starting tomorrow evening. That will be good, because the next knitting projects on the agenda are three shawls.

Flying The House

2016_11_18-01For a number of years now, my BFF has referred to my computer setup as “The Cockpit” and it’s a pretty accurate description.  Back when my sole source of income was medical transcription, I spent long periods of time at my computer with my headphones/earbuds on earning a living. Now that I’m more or less retired, I still spend a fair amount of time at the computer doing creative writing, reading blogs, listening to music, writing knitting patterns, playing games, watching videos. I have Winamp and Rhapsody/Napster and 1.5 TB of disk space when all I want is Music! Music! Music!.  I have an extension cord for my headphone jack taped to the underside of my desk with the plugin at the left edge of the desk, which enables the earbud cord to reach my ears without setting up an equipment disaster should I forget to take my earbuds out before I get up from my desk.   I’ve figured out a way to stream my favorite internet radio stations through Winamp.  I can settle in with a lap robe, a pot of tea, recline in my recliner and listen to music while I do whatever else I’m doing at the computer, like blogging.

My BFF refers to these computer sessions as “flying the house” — as though the house were a ship in interstellar space, and I’m in my pilot’s console at my controls off on a flight of fancy . . .

I’ve got a little timer on my desktop I’ve set to go off every 45 minutes, at which time I stop and use my facial steamer.  I’ve been doing modified Ujjayi breathing during the treatments, inhaling through the nose and exhaling through the mouth.  It seems to be helping.

I set the HVAC on heat a while ago, and tonight we’re having our first hard frost.  At just on 4 a.m. it’s 27 F (-2.77 C).  I have the thermostat set at 68 F (20 C), and when the heat comes on, first the natural gas burner lights with a FWOOMP! and a soft roar.  Then the blower comes on, adding a rumble to the roar, and my rocket engines do a timed burn, pushing me a little faster, a little farther, heading toward warp . . .


MORE Water Problems!

I guess it’s one of those, “Be careful what you wish for” things, right?  Woke up at 9 o’clock this morning per alarm, went to the bathroom per SOP, and the toilet tank wasn’t refilling.  Turned on the tap and got the barest trickle of water.  Called the apartment manager.  It appeared the city had turned off the water because they were working on the water main and said they would “probably” have the water back on by 5 p.m.

So, I did what any normal person would do.  I went back to sleep.   (This might have had something to do with the fact that I’d made the mistake of starting a book at 10 o’clock at night again, it was good, and I wasn’t paying attention to the time and finished reading the book at 5 a.m.).  Slept all day, as a matter of fact.  Woke up briefly in the afternoon because the cellphone under my pillow was playing a funny tune. (The battery had run completely down, which was strange because it was fully charged on Monday.)  And the water was still off.  Put the charger on my cellphone and went back to sleep.  Woke up again at 6:40 p.m.  The water was still off.  Too late now to call the apartment manager (she goes home at 5:30 p.m.) to find out what the deal was.

They’ve been having trouble with the swimming pool (such as it is), which is over behind the office, and there’s been a big open ditch next to the office with tape around it, which probably has something to do with the swimming pool, but the problem with the water main is a city problem, and I’m not sure the two are related.  Of course, you can’t get anybody at the city after “normal business hours” either so there’s no way I can find out what’s going on until tomorrow morning.

I’ve got drinking water.  I’ve got a half gallon bottle of water I keep in my fridge, and I’ve got some water still in the reverse osmosis tank under my sink.  But I’ve got no toilet flushing water.  If I’d known ahead of time they were going to shut the water off, I could have filled up my bathtub and filled the toilet tanks as necessary with a bucket of water from the bathtub.  Sigh.

Also, when I took my cell phone off the charger, it said “Emergency Calls Only.”  I called Consumer Cellular — my bill is not due until Saturday, so I knew it wasn’t that.  I had a full charge, so I knew it wasn’t the battery.  So, I called Consumer Cellular on my land line to see what the deal was.  We tried turning the phone off and back on.  No joy.  I got transferred to tech support, and got a very pleasant and helpful tech lady. We tried taking the battery out and putting it back in.  No joy.  I was able to copy my phone book to the SIM card, which I wasn’t sure I had done, so when we did a hard reboot of the phone I didn’t lose my phone book. That solved the problem. I did learn that I shouldn’t be keeping my cellphone under my pillow, which the tech lady said you should not do because this does not allow heat to dissipate and, as we all should know, heat is a microelectronics killer.  This might have been part of my problem this time.  At least the phone still works, so I don’t have to get a new phone.  I’ll have to start keeping it someplace else I can reach from my bed, like maybe in my night stand drawer.

So, as of 8 o’clock at night, I’ve solved exactly half of the issues I had when I woke up.  I’ve used one toilet twice and one toilet once.  I suppose I could go to Walmart and buy a bunch of 1-gallon bottles of water — at a buck a bottle.  At least I could flush my toilets before the smell becomes overpowering.   And depending upon how long this waterless issue drags on, I could take the empties over to my mom’s and fill them up from her hose(pipe) again . . .  Today is payday, and I can get to my money after midnight, I need to shop groceries anyway, and Walmart is open 24/7 . . . .

Also, under the general category of annoyances and aggravations, I’ve gone through three weather widgets in as many weeks.  My Yahoo weather widget quit working (they’ve evidently stopped the webpage it was drawing its weather from) and then I found a desktop weather gadget I like which worked initially, then quit working.  Now I’ve got a Weather Bug, which I don’t like (for one thing, it stays on my task bar not my desktop and you have to do stuff to it to be able to read it, and it’s big and busy when you open it up to see the weather), but which works.  I’ve also got an Accuweather gadget which shows the temperature range, a general weather icon and the current temperature (which is 91 F/37.2 C at nearly 9 o’clock, BTW), but which you have to click on to see the 5-day forecast.  The Yahoo widget, which I really liked, showed you the 5-day forecast, as well as the current conditions, at a glance.  There are all sorts of gadgets out there, but they’re either for android devices, iDevices or Windows 8 or 10 (which don’t work on Windows 7, of course).  AAARGH!

Update:  As of 9 pm, I now have water.  They didn’t get it turned back on until after 8 o’clock.  I had to call the maintenance emergency number to find out about it.

An Uphill Week

The tax program that I had used for free last year, even though I had 1099-MISC income then, too, has now decided to charge me $30 to use their program because I have 1099-MISC income and therefore my taxes are not “simple.”  However, they let me go far enough into the situation that they did all the figuring I needed to prepare a good, old-fashioned paper tax form, which means I cannot file electronically, and so have to pay the bank $2 for a money order to send in for the self employment tax I owe. This was because the only people hiring transcriptionists these days will only hire you as a consultant, meaning you are “self employed” and all they have to do is send you a 1099-MISC, thus dumping into your lap all the hassle with the FICA and withholding and quarterly payments, etc.  Which means I had to pay self-employment tax on the money I made transcribing for that jive outfit in New Mexico, and that if I make more than $400 working for that jive outfit in San Francisco, I will be in the same boat with them.

Adding insult to injury is the fact that starting last year, $1248/year is being subtracted from the already minuscule income I get from Social Security to pay for Medicare (which I don’t understand because they have been deducting from my income to pay Medicare all along, and now that I’m retired, they take MORE?).  So I ended up having to pay $166 in self employment taxes, instead of not having to pay anything and picking up an extra deduction for being 66, and having no cap on my earnings anymore.  (If you start drawing Social Security at age 62, you have a cap on your earnings, meaning that if you earn over $15,000 a year, they decrease your Social Security payments accordingly until you turn 66, at which point the cap is removed and you can earn as much as you want, now that you’re retired . . . . .)  I couldn’t live on the income I was getting from Social Security BEFORE they started taking out Medicare premiums.  I’m about to the point now that I’m going to go see if the Whataburger up the streetis hiring. . .

The garage sale last Saturday was a big success from my standpoint — I made $200, which leaves me with $34 after taxes (see above) to blow on groceries. I brought knitting (what a surprise!) and sat and knitted all day on the scarf below.   My dishes didn’t sell, though.  We’re going to have a second go Saturday week.

This week, I locked horns with Suddenlink, my ISP.  I got another notice that I had exceeded my allotted gigabites of data again.  Don’t know why.  I went round and round about it with them, and they suggested maybe somebody had hacked into my modem, was stealing my internet and was using up my gigs, so yesterday, I hung fire all afternoon waiting for the (short skinny Hispanic) Suddenlink guy to come by to switch out my modem, which he did (giving me a new password).  He also made changes on my computer — he had to ask me how to get to the control panel — which he said were necessary to make it work with the equipment.  Hardly had the dust of his passage settled before my computer started dropping the internet connection and giving me “cannot find DNS server” errors.  It took four phone calls and another wasted half a day hanging fire waiting for the (quite rotund and rather tattooed Anglo) Suddenlink guy to come change out the modem again, problem solved.  By yesterday evening, I was starting to feel like Cleese in the Dead Parrot sketch.  So now I have to go change the password on my two internet radios and my Kindle, for the second time in two days. . .   Stayin’ sane’s a full-time job. Welcome, hoss, to Babylon. . . . .

2016_04_14-03 2016_04_14-04 2016_04_14-05 2016_04_14-06In the knitting news, yrs trly, the Queen of the Asymmetrical Scarves, came up with another asymmetrical scarf pattern, which I’m calling Rolanni‘s Necklet, which I’ll be posting shortly on my knitting blog.  I’m on the last (bind off) row of it.  There are things I like about it, and things I don’t like about it, and there will be another iteration/pattern coming out of it at some point changing the things I don’t like about it.  As with any scarf in this style, the tricky bit is getting the pattern established.  After that, it’s the same two rows over and over until the finishing bit.  The edging bit is formed by a little “motif” that begins the odd numbered line:  K3, (yo, K1)x3.  In the next iteration, the K3 band will be wider.  The body is largely stockinette, with a little edging formed by yo, ssk, k2tog which gives it a nice “eyelet” effect which I like.  I think in the next iteration it will have two repetitions of that little bit with about 6 stitches of garter stitch between them, because stockinette is notorious for wanting to curl, which this does.  The yarn is the last ball of the Red Heart Gumdrop color Grape, “Medium 4”, 4 oz/113 g, 240 yds/187 m.  I’ve got a ball of Deborah Norville Collection “Everyday” color Lagoon, “Medium 4” 3.5 oz/100 g, 180 yds/165 m yarn for the next iteration.  It’s the first Deborah Norville yarn I’ve used.  It’s a variegated yarn and I must say the color pattern of aquas and blues with white is lovely, and the hand is very nice.  Stay tuned.

2016_04_14-01The fat(cat)boy has been sunning his head in the window of late.  Now and again I will hear him chattering at the birds.  The weather has been warm enough that the kids have been playing out on the lawn, which gives him something interesting to watch when he isn’t blissed out in the sun.  I’m beginning to suspect that cats may be  hybrid vehicles that run partly on solar power. . .   Despite how uncomfortable the position looks, he lies like that for hours.  There’s about a 4 inch step-off between the sill and the top of the chest, and the sill is only about 4 inches wide, just wide enough for him to get his shoulders onto.  Inscrutable creatures, those cats.  Not scrutable at all.

It will be a year Sunday since I lost the white boy. He was my wingman for almost 16 years, and I miss him.




Milestones and Stuff

Yesterday when I came home from knitting group, Beetil’s odometer read 5010 miles (8062.8 km) on it.  That mileage includes two trips to Pearland (approximately 2160 miles), two trips to Amarillo (approximately 500 miles), and a trip to Capitan, NM (approximately 490 miles) for a total of 3150 highway miles.  The remaining 1860 miles were driving around town. I bought the car new on 21 November, 2014, with 9 miles on it and I’ve had it 15 months.  That’s an average of 333.4 miles a month if you figure total miles as of last evening divided by 15 months, but a more realistic figure is to use the 1860 city miles, which works out to 124 miles (200 km) a month. Those trips were the exception rather than the rule.  I’ve already taken more road trips in Beetil than I did in all the 27 years I had the Crayola.

When we came back from our last trip to Pearland on 26 October, 2015, I filled my tank with gas at this gas station that’s right where you come off the highway onto Loop 289.  I didn’t get gas again until the 23rd of December.  I could have waited another week or more, but I knew we were going to have a snow storm over that weekend and I didn’t want to have to get out and drive in it. I’ve still got 2/3 of that tank of gas left. Daddy always told me just because I had a car didn’t mean I had to drive the wheels off of it. . . .

In the knitting news, I have the top portion of the red heart baby dress done to the beginning of the waistband, but I need to finish it by the end of January and get it to my little 1st cousin removed x2 so she’ll have it for Valentine’s.  The pattern is written kind of wonky.  The dress part of the pattern is written the typical way, but a row before you have to do a heart motif, they have you set markers on each side of the front chest area where the motif  is going to be located, and then go on with the pattern.  Then, when you knit up to the marker on the next row, you are supposed to skip over to another page and read the relevant line of the particular heart motif that’s being called for, then flip back and continue knitting from the regular part of the pattern. I had to undo the staple, and put the pages side by side and mark both parts with sticky notes.

I’ve got til April on the stuff for the friend’s grand baby.  At least one more dress (probably two), and matching booties and bonnet for each of the two dresses that have them.  Booties take no time at all; you do them two at a time.  A bonnet takes even less time.  What’s going to take the lion’s share of the time is the afghan. It’s a fiddly pattern.  No TV watching while I’m working on it!  I put my internet radio on and listen to ambient music.

I got my BFF’s Kindle sorted and all ready for her.  She should get her computer by next week.  When she gets her internet connected again, I’ll probably go over to get her computer and her Kindle set up so she can get onto her new WiFi network.  I’ve also promised to help her fill out some online applications.  I hope she can find a job that pays better than the one she currently has, and preferably where she can get all her time in during a couple of days and have a couple of whole days off.  Right now she’s working a couple of hours a day right in the middle of the day, five days a week.  If she could work five hours a day four days in a row, or three whole days in a row, and have the several days off at a time, that would be great.  We’ll keep our fingers crossed.  Now that she’s turned 66, though, she has no restrictions on how much money she can earn without them decreasing the amount of Social Security she gets, so she could work 40 hours a week now if she wanted to.   She’s been buying (artist) paint and colored pencils.  She may be working her way back into her art.  I’ve been quietly hopeful.

The weather is fixing to change.  It’s already starting to get blustery. A front is supposed to be coming through on Thursday and we’ll have really gusty winds and about a 10-degree F drop in temps. It was up in the 60’s F (15+ C) yesterday, and Sunday’s high is forecast to be 66F (18.8C).  Our lows have actually been above freezing for a couple of nights this week.  Me and the fat boy (cat) have been sneezing from all the dust that’s been kicked up.  I’d prefer a long spring and autumn and a short, not quite so hot summer, please, if any of the weather gods are listening. . .

Fetching Up Against a Fact of Life

You know how it is.  Change one thing and you end up having to rearrange everything.  You shift this thing to accommodate that new thing, and that messes up this other thing . . .

As I mentioned, the new computer is bigger than the old computer, so you have to shift the cable modem to the floor and switch out the plug strip for the battery backup thingie, and because the new computer is bigger, the left-hand screen has to be pushed forward to accommodate it, which cuts into the space where my plate goes when I’m dining at the ‘puter.  And if I could find two pieces of something that were both 3/4 of an inch tall, I could put them under the computer to raise it up high enough that I could slide the base of the left-hand screen back underneath it .

And then there’s the earbuds. I like to listen to Rhapsody or else use Winamp to listen to one of my internet radio stations while I’m at the computer.   The audio jack on the old computer was at the base of the tower. The audio jack on the new one is near the top, which means the cord of the ear buds I was using with the old computer is now too short. I’m pretty sure I’ve got a pair with a longer cord here somewhere.  But the ones I’m using are by Skullcandy and they’re good.  Grumble.

The apartment maintenance man fixed my garbage disposal, and what’s more, he gave me one of those Allen wrench thingies that comes with it that you use to fix the blade when it gets bound down, which is what the problem was.

e886e-9-2007beingallboyI’m concerned about the fat (cat) boy.  He seems to have a cold.  He periodically gets these sneezing fits.  I’m applying a judicious amount of tincture of time* to see what happens.  It’s cheaper than hauling him over to the vet’s and having them tell me to do what I’m already doing, and a whole lot less traumatic.

Since I brought him home as a kitten (see left) almost 9 years ago, he has lost Jett — he was less than 2b307-hpim0986two when that happened — and then in April he lost the white cat, and then in May, he lost the grey cat and he became an only cat.  Then in July, I took him to a strange place and left him there for four days.  And then in October,  I took him back to that place and left him there for six days.

He’s a cat.  He has no way of knowing if I’m going to go off and leave him forever like his companion cats did.  (And I have no way to tell him that’s not going to happen if I have any say in the matter.) When I put him in the crate and take him to the car, he has no way of knowing what’s going to happen next, whether he’s about to be left somewhere for a long lonely time.  Yesterday I was gone from 10 o’clock in the morning to past 7 o’clock at night, and he was here by himself.  Understandably he’s gotten rather clingy and has separation anxiety.  Poor little guy.  If he’s just got a cold, those are self-limiting and he’ll get over it, but if he doesn’t get better in the next couple of days, we may be going to the vet.

It’s supposed to get cold again over the weekend, down into the 40’s F (4’s C) with nighttime temperatures down into the low 20’s F (-5 C).  Sigh.

*medical term for watchfully waiting to see if something will resolve on its own without the need for treatment.


Teething Problems

So, the “new” computer (a reconditioned Dell) came home tonight sort of set up like it will be eventually.  It came with a 250 GB hard drive which was replaced with a 1 TB hard drive, and came with a Read/Write DVD drive and two RAM slots containing one 4 MB RAM chip (the other one was empty).  We cannibalized the Read/Write DVD drive from the computer this one is replacing, as well as its 500 GB hard drive and put them in, so now the newbie has two R/W DVD drives and  technically has 1500 GB of hard drive, except we cloned my “old” 500GB drive onto the 1 TB drive and have temporarily turned the smaller drive off.   My old computer had two RAM slots with a 2 GB chip in each one, so we have had to order another 4 GB RAM chip to bring the new computer’s total RAM to 8 MB.  In the meantime, I’m “limping along” with the 4 GB I’ve had since I got the computer this one replaces.  The one whose graphics card is slowly but surely going gaga.

The new tower is half again bigger than the old one and in order to make everything fit on my desk, I had to move the internet modem and the other thingie that has to be attached to three or four different cables so that I get TiVo.  They used to be on my desk, too, but there’s now no room for them.   I stood on my head under my desk for half an hour putting the other UPS down behind the filing cabinet, plugging in plugs, untangling cords and otherwise sorting things out.  Then I connected everything to the tower and booted the computer up.  This kind of activity is known colloquially as “wrestling the octopus.”  (Sometimes the octopus wins. . .)

The tower booted up just like it was supposed to, but wasn’t communicating with the mouse. (What mouse?)  I finally got the mouse and computer engaged in dialogue, and tried the keyboard.  The keyboard and computer were not speaking either.  Switched out the USB plug of the keyboard with the USB plug of the foot pedal (which I haven’t tested yet), and they were talking again.  I plugged in my Western Digital Passport, which I use as a data backup and the computer was like, “Oh, Hai!”

I launched  Winamp to listen to some internet radio and discovered almost immediately that


I was actually glad to have had to turn down the sound volume as much as I did in order for it not to rattle my root canals.

So far, so good.  Next week, the RAM chip should be coming in.  I’ll install it. We’ll know by then if the cloned drive is playing nicely with everything.  Stay tuned.

Hunkered Down and Braced for Goliath

Weather1Here in the rectangular bit at the top of TX, we were in the 60’s for the week of Christmas, but now on the tail end of Saturday, it’s 29F(-1.66C) and heading for an overnight low of 22F(-5.55C). Winds are from the NNE at 32 mph(51.49 kph), gusting to 45 (72). We were supposed to get a “wintry mix” of precip tonight — and as promised, I hear sleet pellets blowing against the window panes.  The low pressure swirly thing that’s driving “Winter Storm Goliath” is due east of us, straddling the AZ/NM border at the moment and heading straight for TX.

Weather2Our “high” tomorrow is forecast to soar all the way up to 27F(-2.7C) with snow predicted. In fact, we are under a “blizzard” warning with accumulations of 3-5 inches (I hear you snickering, you Northerners!).  Sunday night will be a balmy 18F(-7.77C). Monday will be sunny and warm with a high of 32F(0C), cooling down to a brisk 15F(-9.44C) Monday night. Highs/lows predicted for Tues of 36F/11F (2.22C/-11.66C) and Wed of 33F/6F (0.55C/-14.44C), at which point it will officially be colder than a wedge.

Weather3Whatever snow accumulation we get Sunday will probably be with us for the rest of the week. Since we are officially “semi-arid” in these parts, the local wet-weather driving skills leave much to be desired, so whenever we get snow or freezing precipitation, it is automatically a Demolition Derby Day. In view of the current weather forecast, I think I’ll stay off the streets for the rest of the week. I’ve got a full pantry, shawls, an electric kettle, lap robes, a cat, knitting to do, TV to watch and here directly I’ll go dribble the kitchen faucet. (My town is at the same latitude as Casablanca, Morocco (33.5667° N), so needless to say, we do not insulate houses or pipes with the same foresight as folks farther north.)

Not to put too fine a point on Winter Storm Goliath, today they had two tornadoes northeast of Dallas, between Dallas and Garland.  Apparently, one hit a major highway intersection, trashed cars and killed four of the cars’ occupants.  More tornadoes forecast in the east Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana area, and flooding in the southern and southeast US.  The weather is not being kind to us at the moment.

IMG_0001Here’s the baby stuff I’ve gotten finished so far.  I’ve got another baby dress about halfway through the skirt.  I’m going to do one more dress, plus the pair of booties and bonnet that match each dress, a baby afghan, and I think I’ll call it quits at that point.

I know it seems like a lot, but these little clothes are so small, and they’re fast to knit and just so much fun.

I hope my graphics card holds out til CK can get my new computer up and running.  Two of my programs had a weird fragmentation of the display tonight.

I have a pot of Earl Grey hot to hand, a lap robe on, I’m wearing fleece everything, I’ve got the recliner rared back and there’s a fat cat sleeping between my knees, which is just fine with both of us.  I’m good for the night.

Y’all stay safe and warm, now.  Hear?

Counting Down to Christmas

2015_12_21-02Another baby is on the way, a second grandchild for long-time family friend AS.  My parents co-opted his daughters for grandchildren over 20 years ago, and the lawyer one is expecting her second child in April. Their first was a boy; this one is going to be a girl. I only found out about it Wednesday, and I’ve already gotten a little top finished, and the top half of a dress done.

The parents of this baby live in Austin, which is further inland and less humid (although not by much) than Galveston (which is located on a barrier island) (where Little Miss Raelyn Rose is doing just as fine as frog hairs, thank you very much!) Austin gets hot in the summer, too — 95+F/35+C for highs, which is par for the course for most of Texas, even where I live up in the Panhandle, actually.  They usually get about twice as much rain as we do, though.  We typically average 16 inches a year to their 34.5 inches.  (Yeah, but you ought to be here on the day it comes . . .)

Cool Cat - CopyI’ve been listening a lot to Interstellar Radio Station, an internet radio station, as well as Ambient Art Sound while I knit.   I can listen to music while I knit, but if I’m doing anything that requires looking at a pattern, I can’t watch TV.  I invariably mess up if I do.

Cat with a ScarfOur computer guru has ordered my computer.  It’s a refurbished Dell, (which have warranties).  It’ll be two weeks before he can get to juicing it up as this week is Christmas, and next week, they are going out of town, and the Tuesday after they get back, he’s having cataract surgery.  He’s going to clone my 500 GB hard drive onto a 1 TB hard drive, then wipe my old drive and put it in as an auxiliary drive.  That should make the change-out practically painless and give me oodles of room for music.  I’ll back up my games just in case.  The new computer will have a separate graphics card and will have 8 GB of RAM and a quad core processor.  It will be a desktop.  I don’t want a laptop.  I hate laptop keyboards.  I’m not going to part with my beloved Logitech keyboard.  It has the lightest touch and I love that it’s slimline.  Nor am I going to part with my two monitors.  The new computer will have two monitor ports, so I won’t have to use my adapter thingie that adapts one monitor’s VGA connector to to a USB connector.

When he ordered it, he had them ship it to my mom’s house since, because of the holidays, there was no way to predict how long it would take to get here, it requires a signature upon delivery, and they are, as mentioned, going out of town next week.  As it happens, Mom just called, and FedEx says they’re going to deliver it some time tomorrow and she’s going out to some kind of do with her church friends in the middle of the day, so I’ll decamp to her house for the duration.  When it comes to sitting and knitting, it doesn’t really matter to me where the chair is, as long as it’s comfy. . .

xmas bah humbugMom and my BFF are coming to my house for Christmas dinner.  I’m not making anything from scratch.  We’re having frozen everything.  Prater’s dressing is second only to my mom’s, and neither she, nor I see the point of going through the whole song and dance for three people.  I’ll bung it all in the oven and set the timer.  After we’ve  libated with the bottle of rosé I’ve got in the fridge, we’ll be so full of Christmas spirit we won’t care. We’ll have two servings of everything so our hips will balance, put a big blop of Cool Whup on the Walmart pumpkin pie and devil take the hindmost.

. . . and a parsnip in a pear tree. . .

Here We Go Again

The graphics card on this computer has been acting up.  Now and again, for no discernable reason, the monitors go blank, then a few seconds later it recovers and the picture returns.  And sometime when I boot up, the icons on my desktop are cattywompus or a couple of them are missing.  The manufacturer no longer supports the graphics card and doesn’t provide drivers for it any more, and I can’t replace the graphics card without replacing the power supply, and I can’t replace the power supply without replacing the motherboard, and if you’re going to have to replace the motherboard to fix a problem, you might as well buy a whole new computer and start over.  I’m thinking that’s what my Christmas money is going to be going for this year.  We have a rather tech savvy family friend who replaced my mom’s computer recently, and he thinks he can put something together for me at a very reasonable cost.  A 1 TB hard drive, a faster graphics card with a faster video processor, and a good sound card.  He says he can fix it so I can plug both monitors directly into their video cards on the computer rather than having to kludge one in through a USB port, which will be nice.  He says he can also install my current hard drive as an auxilliary drive to get even more storage.  A  1.5K GB storage capacity would be nice.

I’d like to be able to download CDs to my computer so I can put together playlists for my MP# player.  Rhapsody’s last software upgrade made it really difficult to download stuff to my MP3 players — they’ve geared it more to smart phones and tablets, rather than desktops and it’s a PITA to fool with my MP3 players.  It would be easier to just download CDs and use Windows Media Player to make playlists.    I have almost no music on this computer, and the photos and graphics I already have on my hard drive have pushed me to 3/4ths capacity (I’ve only got 101 GB of storage left).  It would be nice to have all that room.

My mom had her club auction, and she put six of the ruffle scarves I made her in the auction.  Everybody brings multiples of a particular item, people bid on one of the items, and whatever the winning bid is, all the others ones like it go for that same price. Their proceeds go into a scholarship fund.  The scarves mom brought made $102 for the scholarship fund, so yay!

IMG_0002_1I’ve been writing knitting patterns again.  For weeks,  I’ve been trying to work out a triangular neck scarf  that won’t pooch or curl at the point, and I think I’ve finally got it.  It’s a pretty easy pattern and I’ve put it up on my knitting blog. I’m calling it the Hulda Scarflet, named after Hulda Holina Helmecke (1887-1902), one of my grandmother’s sisters, who died of typhoid fever at the age of 15.  Tragic circumstances.  My grandmother named the second of her four daughters Verna Hulda in memory of this sister, and it is Verna’s daughter that we stay with when we go to Pearland. This is one of Lion Brand Yarn’s “Vanna’s Choice” line of yarns that’s named for Vanna White, a popular TV personality who is also a knitting and crochet enthusiast.  This particular colorway is called “Denim Mist”

The scarf is designed so you take the points at each end of the “hypotenuse” edge, cross them around behind your neck (but don’t tie them), pull them forward over your chest and tuck them under the part of the scarf that’s under the chin.  This bunches that edge of the scarf up under your chin like an ascot, but one that’s not tucked in.  I guess I need to draw up a diagram to show how it’s worn.  The pattern is “advanced beginner” difficulty as it has slip-slip-knit stitch (ssk) and knit two stitches together (k2tog), along with yarn overs/yarn rounds (yo/yr), but it’s fairly straightforward. You could use a fine or fingering weight yarn and make it really lacy, or use a worsted or aran weight and wear it as an outdoor scarf.  If you bought enough of, say, a worsted weight or aran weight of yarn, you could keep going and make a shawl out of it, too.  Writing patterns is teaching me a lot about the mechanics of garment shaping.  For example, the six yarn overs (+6 stitches) are balanced out by two slip-slip-knit and 2 knit 2 together stitches (-4 stitches)for a net increase of two stitches every other row.  When you’re working a triangular garment like this scarf, the more stitches you increase per row, the more “obtuse” the triangle.

In other news, car insurance rates in Texas went up this year, mine included.  Mine went up $30 a month. Of course, my rates for Beetil are three times what they were for the 1987 Crayola, mostly because by that point, I had decreased the coverage to no more than the law required. But on the 2015 Beetil, I have new car replacement coverage, which jacks the rate up, and other coverage which is prudent to have on a new car, but makes no sense to have on one that’s 27 years old.  Sigh.

Another front is coming through next week and night-time lows will dip below freezing again.  Not looking forward to it. We might get some rain out of it, which will be a mess when it freezes.  Demolition derby time!

I need to pick up some glue so I can make some “book mice” — little book markers in the shape of a mouse with the ears and body cut out of leather, little beads for eyes, and a long braided tail out of fingering weight yarn with a wooden bead on the end.   The body of the mouse is only about 1-1/2 inches in length with the 9- to 10-inch-long tail being the actual “marking” part.  They’re cute as all get out, and easy and quick to make.

I finished two scarves from this pattern, and they turned out rather nice, if I say so myself.  Asymmetrical scarves are all the rage now, so I wrote a pattern for one.  2015_12_08-03 2015_12_08-01