Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Just One Sunny Day

Despite the way it looked as the sun came up, by the time I got around to doing yoga there was a very thin layer of clouds covering the sky.  It's still bright-ish but cloudy.  *sigh*  Yesterday was very nice.  Yesterday afternoon when I hopped into the car to go deliver a package my dashboard thermometer read 57 degrees.  This morning, while the grass against the retaining wall is greening up, the roofs, grass, and birdbath were frosty indeed.  Yeah, yeah, I understand that it's the end of March which in this latitude means it's usually still wintertime but it hasn't been very winter-ish around here lately, well, not without the winter parts being interrupted by mild, spring-ish parts.  I heard a TV weather person say the S-word about tomorrow morning and nearly fell off my chair--until I looked at the calendar and remembered shoveling a blizzard one May 2 a few years back.  Okay, quite a few years back but still...  We've had snow in May so March snow shouldn't faze me.  Right?  Right.

Speaking of yesterday's sunny warmth, look what we saw when my assistant and I went out to fill the bird feeders.  Crocuses!  Blooming!  And as I left for work this morning I noticed that more are joining the party.  Hooray!  Flowers!

This morning Mr. & Mrs. Cardinal came to the feeder together.  Do you think that means they're getting closer to building the first nest of the season?  Maybe.

Last night after supper I knitted the last 10 rounds of Anklet #6's foot, rearranged the stitches according to the pattern, and got the first toe round knitted.  So that's my goal for today--to finish the toe of Black to White & Back to Black Anklet #6 so that the series is complete.  I realized last night that I'm not in danger of running out of yarn so the toe of #6 won't be as black as the heel of #1 but that can't be helped since there won't be enough left to knit a #7.  The next time I decide to knit something with an unraveled sock blank I plan to unkink the yarn first.  I feel like my tension and gauge has been all screwy knitting with this kinky yarn.  Good thing it's superwash so I can toss it into the washer and dryer to even things out.  (yes, I know you're not supposed to put it into the dryer and I don't with my fancier socks but my usual loose tension PLUS the kinks make it about mandatory with these)

March 29--Emeterio the Monk, Animals inside the Ark.  Laura took a second look at the end papers of the old atlas she had pulled out of a pile of books on the thrift store floor.  The atlas itself was huge, 24" by 24", and it was so heavy that she cleared a space on a nearby table to rest it on.  She loved maps.  When she looked at them she saw houses and people, families and businesses.  She imagined how it sounded and smelled, and how it felt to live there.  The old maps in the atlas had sea monsters in the oceans attacking sailing ships and countries she'd never heard of.  But it was the end papers that caught her attention.  The paper itself was very old and the illustration was hand-drawn and -colored.  It looked like Noah's Ark with pairs of animals on separate decks.  She knew that old bookbinders used even older book pages as end papers.  This might be a real find.  She checked the price on the atlas, $7.50.  She decided to risk it even if the book was a reproduction.  She loved the maps and she had a feeling about those animals.

Allrighty.  Now the sky is a uniform pale gray and there isn't a glint of sunshine to be seen.  Granted my only view of the outside is through the door of the dive shop but it's not sunny out there anywhere, I can tell.  At least there was yesterday and it was my day off so I could go out into it and soak it up.  Maybe there'll be more sun tomorrow.  Or Friday.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

The Sun! The Sun!! The Sun!!!

No fooling around, the sun came up today all naked and cloud-free in a clear blue sky.  No coy playing peek-a-boo with clouds, it rose up above the horizon as if it hadn't been MIA for the last Five. Full. Days.  I can honestly say that I feel almost human today.

Bird TV was in full swing this morning.  A Cardinal was so bold as to stop at the birdbath for a drink.  Then a male Downy Woodpecker dropped from the suet feeder to peck at some suet crumbs the robins had knocked to the ground.  I've rarely seen a Cardinal on the birdbath but I've never seen a woodpecker on the ground before.

Yesterday afternoon I took my anklet project along when I dropped Durwood off at the grocery and then waited in the van for him.  See, it's too hard for him to make it from the van into the store and he misses doing the shopping.  For him going to the grocery is like going to a museum is for me.  He likes to go up and down each aisle and examine random items and being with him makes me crazy, so I wrote out a list for him and gave him a ride.  As an added bonus I made great progress on Anklet #6.  Ten more rounds and it's time to toe.

After supper I used some of the things I put on the shopping list to make a vat of Creamy Asparagus and Cauliflower Soup.  Despite the name it has no cream in it, the cooked cauliflower makes the creaminess.  I doctored it up a bit, added a few onions (I'll add more next time) and used DIL1's chef tip to add 1-2 Tablespoons of lemon juice to "brighten" up flavors in bland dishes.  I ran the recipe through WW's recipe create function and one-eighth of the batch costs only 1 point so I had 12 pretzel nuggets (3) and 1/2 oz. cheese (2) for lunch.  Yum.

March 28--Vincent van Gogh, Fishing in Spring, the Pont de Clichy.  Charlie watched from the bridge as the fisherman got settled in his boat.  She wanted to fish.  Granddad had taken her brother, Louis fishing a few times when Charlie was too little but Granddad had forgotten everyone including himself and had to go live in a home.  People put extra emphasis on "home" when they meant not a house home but a place for old people who need extra care to live, a nursing home.  You would think it would be a sad place but it wasn't, not too much, because Granddad's home was right next to her school so it was like having a whole crowd of grandmas and granddads, uncles and aunties too.  Charlie thought it would be perfect if only there was a place to fish.

I got busy and neglected to finish this but now that the sun is setting and all I have to do is go sit with my feet up and knit, also watch something semi-educational on TV, I have time to finish.  Aren't I the lucky one?  Or maybe it's you... *taps lips with finger*

Monday, March 27, 2017

If The Sun Doesn't Shine Soon...

I think I'm going to lose my tenuous grip on sanity.  The whole weekend was rainy/drizzly/gray/chilly.  Unrelentingly.  The longer this goes on the more lethargic and testy I get and those of you familiar with me know that a testy me isn't a very pleasant me to be around.  Shine, dammit.

It was Rodent Day on Bird & Squirrel TV today.  The Cardinal made a cameo appearance but flew away before I got his picture and there's no sunshine to make him look bright red and cheerful anyway so...  This little chipmunk uses our step to survey his domain.  I don't know if you can see in the picture but its cheek pouches are crammed full of cracked corn and other seeds dropped from feeders.  It was probably on its way to store the stuff in my car's air filter.

This squirrel thought it'd bypass the corn and seed on the ground and go right to the source.  See that square part sticking out from the "roof" at the top?  That's the seed container, the roof part is attached to a decorative part that slides down when something weighty gets on it and covers all of the openings with metal leaves thereby preventing the squirrel from emptying the feeder.  Ha!  Fooled you.

I made a little headway on the anklet foot yesterday and then I watched the Double Knitting online class I signed up for and finally found where she teaches how to lock the yarns together at the sides so you're making a tube instead of a muff.  I have to adapt it (of course I do) because I switch which hand holds which yarn since I can't seem to purl with my right hand--yet.  I intend to keep practicing until I either get it or run out of yarn.  Either one could take a while.

March 27--Titian, The Girl and the Mirror.  Andrew looked at the pictures scattered across the table and the floor around it.  Most of them were of a young woman with skin like milk and long, wavy red hair.  Some of the photos were torn in two.  Others had figures carved out leaving only the girl.  Andrew resisted the temptation to gather the pieces to try to reassemble them.  "Who is she?" he asked Douglas.  "Some girl who posed for art lab," he said with a shrug.  "I never knew her name."  He sifted through the mess of pictures.  "I wanted to draw her again so I took these."  Andrew was on the verge of asking why some were cut up but he heard Douglas murmur, "Poor pretty girl wouldn't hold still.  I just wanted to paint her."

Well, that's creepy.  Time to zoom off to the grocery store with Durwood.  Maybe the sun will come out later.  Fingers crossed.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Unfortunately Unacceptable

When it came right down to it the knitting that I did on Friday night on Black to White & Back to Black Anklet #6 (such a long name for a small sock but the series is worth it) the 5 missing stitches made a huge difference.  The sole part was pinched in and... well, it was just wrong.  So I frogged it, managed to get all 36 stitches of the sides (18 each) and the 12 heel flap stitches back onto needles with minimal dropping and only a bit of yarn splitting and stitch twisting so that I could forge ahead with renewed focus on the directions and dedication to correctly COUNTING to end the evening's knitting back where I had started.  But this time I have 24 stitches and they're right.  I'll be glad to finish knitting these anklets out of a sock blank I bought from JS at Icon Fiber Arts last year (the year before?) because I love them, love the color movement, and love that I made six out of one ball of yarn.  Now that's yarn economy.

Yesterday afternoon I went over to play with Grand-dog Porter for a bit and while no one was looking I nabbed a couple freshly laid eggs for today's breakfast.  I had a package of Canadian Bacon so I sizzled up a slice and made myself a fried egg sandwich like my Grandma Angermeier used to make for herself when I was a kid... only she used homemade sausage of which I have none and won't because sausage is too salty.

While doing ALL the laundry yesterday I sent the waffle through the washer and dryer to tighten it up so I could see if I want to make another one to sew onto this one so it's stiffer.  I think this is just fine for a play waffle, don't you?  It's floppier than a real waffle but imagination is a good thing.

March 26-Kohosai, Benkei Minamoto no Manju.  The tiny ivory wafer was exquisitely carved.  It wasn't very thick but the artist had somehow made the figures look three-dimensional.  Their tiny faces and even smaller fingers were clear and sharp.  They looked alive, ready to leap out of the netsuke and scamper away.  Terry rubbed her thumb across the edges of the carved areas to see if the reality matched the age the dealer claimed.  She tried to remember the rules about buying and selling ivory and wondered if was really ivory or a carved bone from a cow.

And now I'm going to zip up my red hoodie and go out into the drizzle to knit with a friend who is waging war on cancer.  Red is power, you know.  Hmm, I should probably make her something red to wear...  I'll think on it.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Bird TV

This morning's episode of Bird TV (no squirrels today) was filled with excitement, featuring a Cardinal, a Downy Woodpecker, and a Goldfinch molting from winter to spring feathers.  You could have knocked me over with a feather when I saw his mottled avocado and yellow plumage.  It's another gray, windy day with the promise of intermittent rain but seeing all those pretty birds kind of made up for it.  Kind of.

In car news wrap-up, my car's back where it belongs, fully strutted, and with a new air filter ready for whatever little rodent keeps its winter stores there.  There isn't any way to keep the little buggers out of there so I guess I'll make it a point to have CS check on it every once in a while.  I mean, I knew that one of them stored seed in the tray of the hose reel cabinet thingy but I didn't think one would go all the way around the house to mess with my car's innards.  Sheesh.


I got into the groove making the heel and picking up stitches of Anklet #6 last night.  I suspect that I goofed it up royally since I'm supposed to have 24 stitches left and I had 19.  Do I really want to frog back and see if I can't focus better on what I'm doing and make it right or do I just want to forge ahead and pick up extra stitches along the sides to even things out?  Depends.  I think the first thing to do is compare it to one of the previous 5 anklets to see if it's a fatal mistake or just a "design element."  More later.

Today is laundry and sheet changing day.  Woohoo!  Will the fun ever stop?  I plan to plonk myself on the couch in between bouts of laundry flopping-around to listen to podcasts or audiobooks and knit.  Maybe even on the possibly acceptable Anklet #6.

March 25--Mathew Brady, Thomas Alva Edison with his Phonograph.  You can see the energy and curiosity blazing from his eyes.  Tom Edison might have been young but he had the mind of a titan with the drive to back it up.  It must have been so frustrating to see beyond the status quo while surrounded by people satisfied with it.  It was hard for him to sit still and easy to keep going after failure upon failure.  He took good notes that led him to success without too many setback or detours.

And that, kids, is pretty much all I know (or made up) about Thomas Edison, inventor extraordinaire.  If you're ever in Ft. Myers, Florida (hi, Aunt B!) take the time to stop into Edison's winter home and lab there.  We've visited a few times and loved it.  I especially love the wide porches with lazily turning ceiling fans spaced along their length.  Go see it.  There's a huge banyan tree in the yard/parking lot (or there was 30-some years ago anyway) that's totally worth seeing.  End of travelogue.  The dryer just buzzed so it's time to flip flop the laundry.

Friday, March 24, 2017


And not the fun, pirate-y "arrgh" either.  I just took my car in for an oil change and settled into a corner of the waiting room to knit while it was being serviced.  I had my hot coffee and my earbuds in listening to the new Joe Pickett novel when the mechanic rounded the corner with a just-ran-over-your-dog look on his face.  "Barb, your front right strut's busted.  You need new ones and it isn't cheap."  "Both are busted?" I asked.  "No, only the right one but we have to do both."  "Go ahead," I said, "they come with a free oil change, right?"  He smiled and said, "Sure."  Then he asked, "Do you keep birdseed in your garage?"  "No, I park outside but we do feed birds, we have feeders in the backyard."  Well," he said, "a chipmunk or a mouse is storing seeds in your air filter so you need a new one of those too."  Geez.  Joe gave me a ride home.

Speaking of feeding birds, another robin has its own way of getting suet.  It stands on the ground under the feeder, then flaps up to hover a bit while grabbing a bite.  Fun to watch, hard to take a picture of.

Before the strut announcement bomb hit at the car shop, I managed to add a few rows to the heel and sides of Black to White and Back Anklet #6.  This is a nice pattern, easy and fast-ish, and using cleverknits' modifications so I don't have to seam the sides makes it brilliant.  I can see this being one of those patterns I go back to again and again.

I've been trying to remember to do a couple rounds of Double Knitting practice a day and I've watched the Craftsy class a bit hoping to find the part where she teaches how to lock the yarns together at the sides.  Maybe I'll watch more while I wait for my car to be fixed and Durwood to be ready to go to the grocery later.  (I wonder if I can figure out how to watch it on the TV through the Wii console.  I can use it for Netflix, that's like on a computer, right?)  I'm getting a little better at holding the yarns, one in each hand.  If I keep practicing, I'll get it.

March 24--Alfred Glendenning, Gathering Wild Flowers.  Rena thought it was like plunging her hand into a treasure chest.  Amethyst, topaz, ruby, sapphire, diamond, emerald--the colors of the wild flowers shone in the sunlight, drops of dew sparkling from petals and leaves.  Her bare feet and the hem of her skirt were damp and chilly in the early morning.  Birds sang, called to find a mate or defend territory, or maybe just with the joy of being alive.

That didn't come out the way I imagined it and I couldn't figure out how to make it better so I shut the notebook and went to sleep.  I am the boss of my notebook.  Yes, I am.  It's a dreary day and the big $$ news about my car is not helping my mood one bit.  I'm going to say good-bye so I don't infect anyone else.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Just To Have Something To Show You...

... I cast on Anklet #6 last night after supper.  (It's the last one of the "Black to White and Back" series so it needs to be done anyway.)  See, all I knitted on at work yesterday was Sudoku Long Strip #1 and, even though I probably added 6", it doesn't look much different than the last time you saw it.  The only other knitting I've been working on is trying to learn Double Knitting and how to tension my yarn in my right hand so I can knit two-handed and that doesn't produce anything but a vague disturbance in the Force from all the cussing and swearing I do (mostly mentally) when I'm working on it.  I still haven't been able to remember how or figure out how to lock my yarns together at the sides to make a tube rather than a muff.  I'm hoping LB knows or remembers and can show me on Friday night.

The suet-eating robin has gotten much better at balancing on the perch to lean around to get some.  See?  No flapping.  I did snap a picture of the cardinal at the feeder again today but he had his back to me and he's not quite at his peak of redness just yet.  I'd still rather see one cardinal than a herd of sparrows.

This morning I was dismayed to see that the birdbath is frozen again.  It's graygraygray and supposed to drizzle or rain off and on today.  Oh goodie.

March 23--Wladislaw Czachorski, Frederick William Great Elector of Brandenburg and his wife Luise Henriette.  "Not a very cheerful looking pair," Detective Savannah said.  "I suspect their shoes hurt their feet."  She didn't say a word about the blood sprayed in a graceful arc across the canvas or the corpse pinned to it by an arrow through its throat.  The newest evidence tech stood with his kit in his hand, his face pale green and sweaty.  "You all right, Albert?" she said, making him jump.  "Uh, sure.  Sure, I'm all right."  He shuffled his feet but didn't move.  The other techs had bent to their tasks, taking pictures, collecting evidence, but young Albert appeared to be stuck in neutral.  She leaned closer.  "Maybe you could draw a diagram of the scene."  He gulped and nodded.  "I think I'll make a diagram of the scene."  "Great idea."

I noticed last week that Office Depot has a giant shredder and there's a sign that says they'll shred stuff for you for a small fee.  Every year when I toss the 10-year-old receipts to reuse the accordion file for the new year I have to sit and shred the old stuff so I tend to put it off.  Finding that I can pay them a little money to do it for me has me all excited.  It's not as much fun as sitting and watching all that paper get chewed up and spit out but not having to do it myself seems very attractive to me.  I think I'll swing by Office Depot on my way to work; it's a mere block away.  Adios.