Like An Owl In The Daytime

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.

Too Durn Hot

It’s 98F (36.6C) at the moment, which is 8:30 at night.  Our low is supposed to be 73 F (22.7 C), which ain’t all that low, folks.  Tomorrow’s high is supposed to be 110 F (43.3C).  Yep.  You heard that right.  110 F.  But then a cool front is supposed to come through and Sunday’s high is only supposed to be 88 F (31.1 C) with a low of 64 F (17.1 C), which is good, because I’m supposed to go out to eat at lunch with mom and our friend CK.   In the meantime, and tomorrow, I’m doing what any sane person ought to do, I’m staying inside out of it, drinking iced tea (heavy on the ice), in my Bubba, which I love because it is “no sweat.”  The double walled construction of the stainless steel tumbler keeps the drink cold for hours and hours (I’ve had ice cubes last all day), but the outside of it is not cold enough that it causes condensation — not that there would be all that much condensation with a humidity of 19%

A while back, I plunked down for Jigsaw Planet’s downloadable software that allows you to create your own puzzles off line, and I’ve been working one I made from one of the paintings of G. C. Myers, and listening to music.  That, for me, is a total chill state. . .  However, earlier today, I made some chicken salad and put it in the fridge to chill, and I think I hear it calling my name . . . .

Happy Mother’s Day

To all those in the crowd who have given birth — I started to say, “to all you mothers out there,” but somehow that sounded a bit off color (– or maybe it’s just me).

This is what my mom got for mother’s day.  It’s another Curved Shoulder Scarf like this one, but in a wine red metallic thread.  I think it turned out nicely if I say so myself.  Naturally, I thought of several modifications, so the next time through I’ll do up the modifications and post the modified pattern on my blog.  It’s actually a pretty quick knit, all things considered — like the fact that you do 21 repeats of a 12-line lace motif, but that goes fast as you only cast on 9 stitches for it.  I made two in four evenings’ worth of knitting.

I gave the other one to our dear family friend CK who had mom and me over for dinner last evening, for a delicious meal.  She just happened to be wearing a blouse that had that same peach color (which looks very good with her skin tones), and she has some gorgeous turquoise jewelry, so that colorway is perfect for her.

I spent most of yesterday futzing with a 1 Tb Western Digital external disk drive to use for an external backup device. I had a 500 Gb external drive, but it was too small.  (After my latest computer revamp, I have two hard drives now — a new 1 TB drive and  the old 500 Gb drive . . . ) First I had to back everything up individually by category on my set of six memory sticks, which took forEVer!  Then I switched out the backup drives and redid what and how I backed stuff up (every time I changed something)  That took some time, too. While I was waiting for files to transfer, I worked on the — are you ready for it?  — Dance Like An Egyptian Hat.

My version
Original version

It is Fair Isle knitting, which I had to learn to do, which means I’m working with two colors live and realtime, holding a color in each hand, and I had to learn how to “catch floats“.

It starts with a provisional cast on, and after a bunch of stockinette knitting, it has a row of these dancing ladies, which I modified from one I found that was put up for grabbies on the interwebs to anyone who wanted to play around with it.  Naturally, I modified it.   I added in a row at the top of her skirt so I could fix the design on it, and evened out the proportions of her arms by making the up-turned arm shorter in the upper arm and the down-turned arm longer in the forearm.  Then I made a  reversed version.

The hat will have one band of the lady facing left and a second band of the lady facing right. These will be interspersed between some rows of alternating stitches in each color for a checkerboard effect.  The brim is wide, and rolled by turning it under and knitted the provisional cast on back into the hat with a row of K2togs. It will have a standard hexagonal decrease on the top.  It’s slow going for the moment as I’m not used to holding my yarn this particular way in my right hand, but it’s fun.

This yarn is so shiny it’s hard to see the turquoise foot of the dancing lady.  You’ve got to knit 27 rows of stockinette before you even get to the two-color work because the dancing lady is 17 rows high and you’ve got to have enough brim to turn under and have a little bit of plain grey on the bottom edge of the hat. .

I’ll be taking step-by-step pictures of the process to post with the pattern on my knitting blog.

I’ll have enough yarn to do one where the variegated yarn is the background color, and the grey yarn is the contrast color.  That will give it a rather different look.  Oh, what fun.

At right, those long loops of yarn on the inside are the “floats” where the yarn not currently in use is being carried along behind the background color until it’s needed again.  When there’s a long “float” you have to secure it so they’re too short to get a finger through them. That’s a neat little maneuver.

Tomorrow when I’m out and about, I’ve got to see if I can find the new Pier 1 store and see if they still have bowls like I’ve been using (below left with the hat on top), and get two more.  Good thing I got that bigger table top for my computer, eh?

Here’s a little mood music:

Spring, Sprang, Sprung

My lawn is greening up.  Some of the green is actually grass.  I’m debating about getting two thingies of “weed and feed” – a combination herbicide and fertilizer that comes in a device you attach to the hose(pipe).  The device mixes the stuff with water and then you spray it on your lawn. The back yard needs it more than the front.  That poor back yard needs all the help it can get.

Guess which is the greenest thing back there.  Yep.  That ^&*($%!@#@!%* honey locust tree.  It’s leafing out just beautifully.  I see a couple of low branches that need pruning, however.  If somebody who’s 64 inches (1.62 m) tall has to duck under them to get to the gate, then they are way too low.  Taking the garbage out is enough of a chore already without having to thrash through the jungle to get to the back gate.

It was raining earlier (Yay!)– and making a big production out of it, full of sound and fury, signifying very little water actually falling from the sky, alas.  Still there was enough to wet things down.  Hopefully, the rain will wash some of the pollen out of the air.  Between the grass pollen and the tree pollen, this weekend is going to be a bitch, allergy wise, if you’ll pardon my Anglo-Saxon.  The grass pollen makes me sneeze and stuffs me up, but the tree pollen just zombifies me.  The tree pollen has been very high for days now and I ended up not going to knitting group yesterday because I’d already glunked out* twice in the chair while I was trying to read, and then at about 5 p.m., I just hit a proverbial wall.   I was able to muster barely enough brain wattage to shuffle into the bedroom and crawl into bed.  Schmpft.

What many people don’t know is that chronic fatigue can be a symptom of allergies.  I don’t need allergy alerts from the Weather Channel to tell me when there’s tree pollen in the air.  Zombification sets in unperpetrated by the usual suspects, and when I can manage to get three brain cells to work at the same time, I know we are having tree pollen.

There is a volunteer bearded iris (left) in the back yard which is gearing up to bloom.  Ill be interested to find out what flavor it is.  A pair of what looked to be college boys did the yard this time.  Thankfully, they didn’t get happy with the weed wacker (strimmer) and give the poor thing a shave.

I’m not sure what that is growing behind it.  I need to peer over the fence and see if this is something else my neighbor is growing that’s also sneaking under the fence into my yard, or whether it’s an interloper.

In the top picture, you can see one of the piles of fireplace wood that’s too durn old and weathered to burn even if I didn’t have the fireplace glassed off. And anyway if I did burn it, then I’d have a great whacking pile of ashes I’d have to clear out of the fireplace and schlep out to the Dumpster . . . and dust from it all over everywhere . . . . I need to get out my little red Radio Flyer wagon and haul all that wood out to the alley.  Maybe I could plant a bush there.  Something that blooms and attracts butterflies. . . .

The roses in the front bed (above and at right) are going nuts.  Both are bursting with leaves and blooms.  I’ve started saving tea bags as they say “prebrewed” tea is good for roses.  Hope it helps the black spot, which both bushes have.  Coal dust is supposed to be good for black spot as well, but it’s kind of hard to come by in this part of the world this century.  Part of the problem is that the roses don’t get enough sun.  They are planted against an east-facing wall and only get half a day of sunshine.   The pink one is further out in the yard and gets a bit more sun.  Both of them need to be cut back and staked this winter.  I would have done it last winter, but I had a plateful already.

That bed needs plants that need morning sun and partial shade.  They should be perennials that are tough, hardy, drought and heat tolerant and can stand up to Bermuda grass.  It needs at least three different kinds of plants that grow to three different heights — low, medium and tall.  I need to call that Hispanic couple that weeded the bed before and see if they’ll do it again.  Then after stuff is planted, the bed needs to be rather thickly mulched to keep down the weeds and grass.

I still need to paint the lamposts.  I also want to get some of those red reflectors and some stakes for them and put them along the eastern edge of the driveway.  I still have a hard time hitting the house from the west.

In the knitting news, I got another Coriolis hat finished and now I’m working on a “hand grenade hat” in a Red Heart yarn called “Gumdrop – Smoothie” The yarn has a nice soft hand and is 100% acrylic, which makes it good for chemo hats.  It’s a cheerful, colorful yarn, I think.  I’m going to do this pattern in the two other Gumdrop colors I have, Grape and Cherry.  Something for everyone.

Spring? Jump?  Close enough for government work.  A blast from the past, anyway. . .

*glunk out —  You are growing sleepy … very sleepy . . . your eyelids are becoming very heavy . . . you cannot keep your eyes open. . . 

“Knitting Is In Juvenile Fiction”

Our knitting group meets in a branch of the city library.  Because our group is sponsored by the library, we get to use the meeting room for free.  If another group wants to use it, they have to pay, and in the event that a paying customer wants the room during our meeting time, we get preempted.  One time when we got preempted without advance notice, the library ladies taped a sign up on the meeting room door that said, “Knitting is in Juvenile Fiction.”  The reason we end up in Juvenile Fiction is that there are three large tables with chairs in that area of the library.

We got preempted again last night, this time by the model train club.  Again.  They use the room on a pretty regular basis, and we are resigned to it.  B is a new member who has been coming a couple of months now.  She is Asian-American and a recent convert to ChiaoGoo needles — two unrelated facts, actually, as brand of knitting needles is entirely a matter of personal preference.  This time, she brought a set of twins with her, aged about 7, Asian-American, and just about as cute as they could be.  They were not hers, but were in her care in some way I was never able to sort out, but never mind.  They wanted to learn to knit, and I ended up showing one of them the long-tail cast on, which she picked up in record time.  B’s daughter, aged 9, also showed up.  Apparently, she has caught the knitting bug from her mother, and is learning to knit as well.  B uses the Portuguese method of knitting, and our leader, M, decided she wanted to learn this method.

We also had another mother-daughter team show up.  The mother was a crocheter, and both she and her daughter wanted to learn to knit.  Because she already knew how to crochet*, it was decided that she would learn continental style, and yrs trly stepped into the breach.  A rather fun if chaotic night.

I finally got travel pay from my last trip to Amarillo, and I invested in four sets of ChiaoGoo 6-inch stainless steel double pointed needles (DPNs) in US sizes 4, 6, 7, and 8 (3.4, 4.0, 4.6 and 5 mm).  I can’t always find ChiaoGoo needles in the types and sizes I want on Amazon, but I went to the ChiaoGoo website and found one of their authorized dealers, Smartisans, and ordered from them.  Their prices are very competitive with Amazon’s.  ChiaoGoo sells “sock sets” of the small size 6-inch DPNs in a nice little zippered case, but there aren’t any such “sets” in the larger size needles that I typically use for hats and stuff.  However, on Amazon, I did find an empty ChiaoGoo needle case for DPNs and got one.  I plan to get another empty case, and maybe a sock set. as funds permit.

I got frustrated with the Cobblestone Pie hat, pulled it off the needles and unraveled it all.  I wanted those needles anyway for the yarmulke/hat I’m doing a pair of for my friend JT’s going away party — for him if he needs it, or for others if he wants to share.  The “feller” he’s moving to Key West to be with is associated with a church in some way (pastor?) and has a ministry with the LGBT community there.  (Apparently Key West is a very inclusive community.) A matching set of white wedding yarmulkes** might be a nice thing to have to hand. The sharing thing would resonate with my friend, as he’s a very sharing, caring person.  A dear, old soul.

I’m enjoying working on it, listening to music on my computer, rared back in my recliner. Once you’ve master the skill of knitting, it can be a very meditative activity.  It’s a “back-brain-centric” (cerebellum) type activity, with very little involvement of the forebrain (frontal lobes).  This allows you to be contemplative, or to think things through, or to work things out, or just let your mind drift.


*It is typically easier for crocheters to learn the continental method of knitting because they are already used to holding and tensioning the working yarn in their left hand.
**assuming the loose cannon in the oval office (or those who are using him as a stalking horse to pursue their own agendas) doesn’t decide to stack the Supreme Court in order to get it to reverse its decision on gay marriage — among other things that the religious right and ultra conservatives are unhappy with.

The Sound Track of This Movie Moment

“Miles Davis and his tinny horn, thinny horn.”  For some reason, this line has been wandering around in my mind.  Looking for a poem, maybe.  The rhythm of the words.  Sometimes with the “Davis” and sometimes without, like a little jazz riff . . .  tinny horn, thinny horn. . . At some point, Davis opted to play with a mute in his trumpet, whence the thinner, less brassy, treble-accentuating sound.  Chacun*, I guess . . .

Compare the sound of this horn . . .

to this.

See?  Tinny horn, thinny horn.  For those who dig this kind of sound, I recommend Soma FM’s Sonic Universe for your listening pleasure.  All that jazz.

Redtree Times derailed my busy little train of thought into Steely Dan the other day, only just not this one.  Another one.   But this one. (Turn that jungle music down.) What a great chorus.  Babylon Sisters, shake it!

And this one with the droll lyric and infectious beat.  Great for puttering about and putting things away. . .

One of those rare occasions when mañana falls on Friday.  Got to charge up the MP3 player for some yard work.  Been putting it off, trying to get my day to match up with the rest of the world’s, so I can get out in the yard.  It was hot yesterday (80’sF/26+C), today it’s supposed to be a high of 61 F (16C).  Rakes, wagon, gotta schlep everything to the back yard.  Find the roll of lawn and leaf bags.  Get my groove down.  Take trash out while I’m at it.

If people ask you where I’ve gone, tell’em I’m in Babylon.  Raking up stupid locust beans.


*chacun à son goût — French for ‘whatever. . .’

Going To Hear The Band That Didn’t Play

dscf2504A dear friend, AS, teaches university-level percussion at Texas Tech and has for many years.  On the side, he has a jazz combo for which he plays — wait for it — drums.  On the first Sunday of every month, his combo usually plays downtown at a “bistro” called La Diosa, which is in the “Depot District”  His combo was supposed to play this Sunday so my mom and our friend CK swooped by after church and picked me up and off we went downtown to hear them play and eat lunch.

dscf2505Downtown, where the courthouse and the jail and the police department, etc., are located, is kind of on the northeast edge of town.  In the organic way towns grow, ours has grown south and west.  1st Street is about 10 streets north of the courthouse, what would have been 11th street is Main Street, and what would have been 12th street is Broadway, and I think we’re up to 158th Street now.

dscf2500When my parents first moved there in 1950, we lived on 8th Street, and 34th Street was pretty much out in the sticks (numbered streets go east/west, lettered and named streets go north/south).  Then we moved to 40th Street, which is about 30 east/west streets south and about 40 north/south streets west of the courthouse, and the north/south street to the west of us wasn’t even paved.  Anyway.  The area between the downtown area and Tech was the first residential area of the town.  When I attended Tech, I enrolloed in a college and graduated from a university, and that area was known as the College Ghetto because it had become mostly rent property, rented to college kids.

dscf2503That area has now undergone sweeping redevelopment — hundreds of those old houses were razed, including the one we lived in when we first moved there, and apartment blocks and town houses, shopping areas and restaurants, etc., were built.  Streets were renamed.  Our humble little 8th Street is now Glenna Goodacre Boulevard.  6th Street has been renamed Mac Davis Lane,  Avenue G is now Crickets Avenue, and Avenue H is now Buddy Holly Avenue. (what would have been Avenue I has always been Texas Avenue).  Anyway, that end of town just south of the courthouse was formerly a business area and was where the train station was, back when we still had passenger service.  After that was discontinued, the train depot went through several incarnations including a restaurant.  It’s now the Buddy Holly Center and museum.  There’s an old cinema that’s been renovated into a playhouse, and various old business buildings have been repurposed into pubs, restaurants, antique shops and whatnot.   That little bit of town is now known as the “Depot District.”  La Diosa is in a repurposed building, part of which used to be an automotive repair shop.

dscf2506Because it’s down in that end of town, where there is a heavy “university” presence, the Depot District tends to be a touch “artsy fartsy”

Anyway, here a table with me, my 92-year-old mother, and couples from the generations in between (at left), in amongst the mimosa at brunch dscf2501crowd waiting to hear AS’s combo play.  Turns out somebody called in sick, and the combo didn’t play.   In the meantime, we had all ordered from the menu.  My mom and I had what amounted to a Burger King Croissant’wich, except the egg was fried instead of scrambled, the ham was prosciutto, and it cost about five times as much.  However, it was topped with jalapeño jelly, which a Croissant’wich isn’t.  She had a mimosa, I had white wine, as I’m allergic to oranges.

dscf2499You’ll notice among the artwork in the photographs I took that there are a pair of  nice portraits of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. I make note because I told my mom I was going to blog about our little outing, and because she’d never figure out how to spell Kahlo’s name to google her. My mom had never heard of Diego Rivera either.

I wasn’t thinking and neglected to put my camera in my bag, so these pictures were taken with my mom’s camera.

Anyway, we may try again next month.  Maybe we’ll get lucky.  If we do, I may try the crepes.

This afternoon, I made a bowl of tuna salad and a bowl of chicken salad, both with mini-elbow macaroni.  Before I put the macaroni in the tuna salad, I made a couple of tuna salad sandwiches which are chilling in the fridge.  I’ll have one for supper and the other for tomorrow.  I will be well fortified for the upcoming week.  I’m going to start raking locust beans out of the back yard.

At some point here soon, the yard guy is going to want to scalp the lawn.  The variety of Bermuda grass we have here dies off in the fall.  Typically, before it comes back out again in spring, one “scalps” one’s yard, i.e., sets one’s mower blades very low and mows all the old, dead growth off, which allows the new growth to proliferate when it emerges.  There’s so many beans in the back yard that it would be impossible for the yard guy to scalp the back yard, and my landlady doesn’t pay him to rake beans. If I want grass in the back, guess who gets to remove the locust beans . . .  That locust tree also needs seeing to.  I bought a bow saw a couple of weeks ago to do a little neatifying of the tree and removal of some low branches that impede the opening of the back gate.  I also got a garbage can on wheels.  I’ve already got rakes.  I’ll bring my Radio Flyer wagon out back and spread lawn and leaf bags out over the wagon bed to rake the beans into.  A simple matter to tie off the full bags, pull the wagon out to the dumpster and put the bag in.

Argh-uably Not Off To A Good Start

So I ordered this pinky purple, 2-piece “lounger” outfit on sale (half off!) for wear around the house and it came. Cotton jersey. Very soft and comfortable.  It was on the big side but I like “roomy” clothes.  The problem was the pants.  The elastic waistband was not tight enough — not “constantly having to pull them up” not tight enough, but “one good sneeze and they’re down around my knees” not tight enough.  Well.  That’s no problem.  A small incision into the sleeve where the elastic is, take a hitch in the elastic, sew up the incision, no biggie, right?

Wrong.  Made in China or some other far eastern locale, which means the elastic was first sewn to the edge of the fabric, then the whole shebang folded over and serged down.  I had to take a seam ripper and carefully rip loose the entire waist band, trim the old elastic off, get the ironing board out and set it up, heat up the iron, turn and press in the sleeve for the elastic and pin it, power up the sewing machine, sew the sleeve, thread a new piece of elastic through the sleeve, sew the ends of the elastic together, replace the needle on my sewing machine that I broke not being careful when I sewed the elastic together, close the pocket, knot my threads and secure the ends.  Took me over three cotton-picking hours!  At least now, the durn pants will stay up. . . . .

As long as my day was already totally derailed,  I started a load of wash, as my clothes hamper runneth over.  Now it’s time to take the wet clothes out of the washer and put them in the dryer.  And, while I’m up, I’ll brew another carafe of tea.  It’ll be a combination of 2 bags of Stash Tea’s Moroccan Mint and one bag of Twining’s English Breakfast.  The Moroccan Mint is based on a green tea, which hath not sufficient caffeine for mine requirements, hence the bag of English Breakfast, which is a gunpowder (black) tea.  I’ve just about used up this box of Moroccan Mint.  The pot after this will be straight English Breakfast.  I bought a pint of almond milk “creamer” to try, which wants straight gunpowder tea.

Right now, I’m listening to Soma FM internet radio’s Drone Zone.   I was listening to Trancemission New Age, but it was getting a little too arpeggious for my taste.  (Digression:  There’s this particular “genre” of “New Age” piano music which I refer to as “arpeggious.”  The rules of this “genre” of music are:  You never play chords, only arpeggios, you never play more than two notes simultaneously, and you play molto rubato con morbidezza.  The typical “artist” in this genre is some guy who teaches himself to play piano and learns some major and diminished chords.  The next “wine snob” party he goes to, he casually wanders over, sits down at the piano and begins to “noodle.” Because the guy only knows major and diminished chords, only plays arpeggios, and plays slowly, it’s easy to string a bunch of chords together and sound like you know what you’re doing.  The longer the wine party goes on, the better he sounds to his audience who don’t know anything about music either, and are half stoned on wine.  All his wine snob friends rave over how good he is, invite him to their parties (“he plays so wonderfully. . . “) and eventually convince him to cut a CD.  Since he doesn’t know how to write music, he just wings it and edits out 4 or 5-minute bits that sound good, and gives them very pretentious, New Agey titles which either have Hindu or Buddhist allusions, or contain the words “crystal” or “angel.” Ditto for the name of the album.  A big code word for this kind of music is “heartfelt” — (read “musically untrained but he tries hard, bless him”).  Another big code word is “etherial” (as in “musically incoherent and totally without melody”). In this “genre” of music, it is essential for the performer to be extremely laid back and New Agey, and to be pretentiously and elaborately vegan*. (“I only eat bread made from organically grown Triticum spelta that I get from this one farm in Germany that grinds it into flour on authentic megalithic basalt querns.”).  He must also have some kind of schtick, like a set of crystals carried in a drawstring bag that he must arrange along the edge of the piano for “channeling” purposes before he can sit down and play, or wearing only “natural” materials like hemp or cotton, or wearing all white, etc.  Eventually this guy gets a synthesizer and discovers how to make it sound like wind chimes. Here endeth the Digression)

2017_03_03-01In the knitting news, I try to keep something small to hand that I can work on in odd moments when I’m at the computer. This is a little hat I’m working on using Paton’s metallic yarn.

Our knitting group supports several worthy causes, one of which is the “Knitted Knockers”  (I’ve got patterns but haven’t tried them.)  These are knitted prostheses for breast cancer survivors using yarn that is soft and washable.   Another worthy cause we support is hats — one lady does hats for newborn babies, especially preemies.  Tiny little hats.  Others of us, including me, do hats for cancer patients who have lost their hair as a result of chemotherapy.  One reason I’m doing the hat in this metallic yarn is to make it an “evening hat” for a special occasion or something fancy.  Cancer is pretty traumatic just by itself, but then for a woman to lose her hair makes her feel like a freak.  Having a pretty hat helps.  We scour Ravelry for pretty hat patterns to make so we’ll have something special to donate.  As I’ve said before, there’s nothing a knitter likes better than a good excuse to knit something.  This particular hat is called the Coriolis Hat. (cast on evenly divisible by 7; k1, yo, k4, ssk) I’ve got five or six balls of this metallic yarn in “jewel tone” colors.  Still working on the shawls and my shrug.

Shortly after I moved in, I had gotten this little shell LED nightlight for my office so the fat(cat)boy could see to get to his poop box (yeah, cats can see in the dark, but not in the totally dark . . . ) and it works well. Now usually a bathroom will have a door that opens toward the right as you’re going in (most doors do), and the light will be on the wall to the left, just inside the door.  Not so the “company” bathroom here.  There’s not enough room on the little snubbin of wall on the left for the four or five light/heater/fan switches required to operate this bathroom.  They’re on the wall to the right of the door.  They’re easy to find in the dark if you open the door all the way, and then grope along the wall just past the edge of the door, but only if you know where to look.  The average unsuspecting guest does not. So I got another one of those little shell night lights to plug in to the shaver/hair dryer plug by the sink, which provides enough light that you can see where the light switches are. It came the other day, and it’s worked out well.

It’s been so dry here of late.  No humidity to speak of (under 40%, way under at times), and we’ve been having wildfires.  If you hear this loud slurping noise, that’ll be me putting lotion on.  I wonder if you can get Nivea by the barrel . . .

Gotta go take the clothes out of the dryer and hang them up.  I’ll be folding up socks and unmentionables for half an hour. . . .

*I have nothing against vegans. What you eat is your own business and none of mine.   What gets up my nose are people who do things elaborately and pretentiously, especially when it includes a Manifesto

A Pinballing Day

When the little steel ball got shot round into this day, I had three things on the agenda:  (1) Shower and wash my hair, (2) stop off at the grocery store on the way to knitting group to get some snack type food and beverage for our (3) Valentine’s Day party (which we had to make up for not having had an Xmas party which we didn’t have because reasons).  Attendees at the party ranged from a 9-year-old, there with her mother learning to crochet (we do not discriminate on the basis of race, national origin, creed, sex, age, or number of loops on the needle), to our “instructor” who is older than I am. (I think.)  My supper consisted of gumi hearts, both chocolate and yellow-cake iced and sprinkled cupcakes (I do not discriminate on the basis of color, flavor, or number of sprinkles), bean dip with blue corn tortilla chips, and Gold Peak Peach Tea (180 calories, 45 g of sugar in 18.5 oz of more or less tea — it may be 4 o’clock in the morning before I stop ricocheting around the room like a 4-year-old amped to the max on a loading dose of high fructose corn syrup).

One of our number showed up late in a stunning faux mink coat.  (it was 91 F/32 C Saturday.  Today it wasn’t.)  The cupcakes were her fault.  I brought the bean dip, blue corn tortilla chips and Coke ponies (7.5 oz “mini cans” — I’ve always heard the small cans referred to as “ponies” and so I referred to them earlier in the evening, and got looked at askance by some of the assemblage.)

We have a southpaw in the group who was trying to learn how to do a Norwegian cast-on (also known as the German Twisted Cast-On) because she wants to knit a pair of socks from the top down.  I invite you to watch the video, and then imagine trying to teach this technique to someone who insists on doing this left-handed.  (She actually did figure it out . . .) But while I’m listening to her mentor instructing her to put her needle over, through, around, etc., my sugar-charged brain pinged off the song “Over Under Sideways Down” — I thought it might have been by the Kinks (it wasn’t). I said something about it to the lady (Class of 72) next to the instructor, who thought she remembered it, then proceeded to look it up on her smart phone and play it for us.

Then she, and I, and the lady sitting next to her segued into a nice little discussion on gussets and sock heels.  When you knit a sock from the top down, you end up having to Kitchner stitch or otherwise close the toe.  My toes do not like this kind of sock toe.  I prefer the toe-up style of knitting socks, which you start using the seamless Turkish Cast-on.   Oddly enough, which direction you happen to be knitting in (top down or bottom up) affects the technique you use to turn the heel.   These are deep waters.

By the time I got home, I was thoroughly wired (definition #4) thanks to all the sugar, and my question as to whether or not that song was by the Kinks remained unanswered.  Googled it.  Found out the song was by the Yardbirds.  While perusing the Wikipedia entry on the Yardbirds, I discovered that group members included at one time or another, Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page, two massive Guitar Heros*.  Page went on to become one of the founding members of Led Zeppelin. Supposedly Page got the idea of playing his electric guitar with a cello bow from David McCallum, Sr., a professional violinist and also father of the actor of the same name, Jr.  During his career, McCallum, Sr., was also first violin in the Mantovani orchestra, and was part of the 40-piece orchestra that recorded “A Day In The Life” on the Beatles seminal album, “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

As I was catching up on my blog reading, I came across this series of drawings from Mattias Adolfsson, a Swedish artist whose blog I follow.  He has a very convoluted, detailed and droll style.  This selection was entitled The Roconauts, (Rococo In Spaaaaace!).  I LOL’ed.

mattias-adolfsson-roconauts-blaster mattias-adolfsson-roconauts-diplomacy mattias-adolfsson-roconauts-documentation mattias-adolfsson-roconauts-first-contact mattias-adolfsson-roconauts-line-of-command mattias-adolfsson-roconauts-rover mattias-adolfsson-roconauts-the-bridge mattias-adolfsson-roconauts-vessel

So, having added to my fund of trivia, giggled over some tongue-in-cheek artwork and finally fizzed out on my sugar high, I think I’ll seek out my beddy boo and crash for the evening.  Busy day tomorrow.  I have five, and perhaps six items on the agenda.  Busy, busy.

*legendary expert rock guitarist.