Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Nine hundred and ninety-three


993 is the number of posts I have put up. This makes 994. And I think it will be the last.

I got nuthin!

However, before I go, Thanks for reading!!!!!

I leave you with this:


My latest knit:

Cowboys and Angels by Isabell Kraemer


Photo from Isabell Kraemer 



It's knit from Malabrigo Rios yarn (color Frank Ochre) and I love knitting with it so much that I just ordered more to make another. The pattern is just slightly more difficult than easy, so it doesn't get boring.


AND---we have a bird maternity ward on a window ledge at our house. 



There is a fourth hatchling, but it's hiding.


The nest is on a ledge between a window and what had been the screen.  We don't have these blinds open often, so it wasn't until Molly kept sitting staring at the window that we looked and saw that birds had ripped out the screen all the way across the window and up to about 4 inches. Then came the nest. Then one blue egg. Then that egg disappeared, which was a mystery because the window is three stories up.  

Then four blue eggs and one speckled tan egg appeared.

Aha!  

$%^&*Cowbird!!!  Apparently the cowbird had checked out the nest and decided it was for HER egg. 

Cowbirds, parasites sort of, adapted to following buffalo across the plains in order to eat the insects the buffalo kicked up from the ground by laying eggs in other birds' nests; they couldn't stick around long enough to hatch their own. These eggs hatch sooner than most birds' eggs do, and so the nest-building parents, who apparently can't tell one egg from another, take care of the cowbird egg and hatchling as one of their own. The cowbird hatches first, grows faster, and probably gets most of the nutrition.

It is illegal to toss out the cowbird egg, and my husband read somewhere on the interwebs that tossing out the egg annoys the cowbird who laid it, and about 50% of the time, she comes back and destroys the remaining eggs. I have no idea if it's true, but I didn't want to risk it. 



So our cowbird was the first to hatch, the first to open his mouth to squawk for food, and the first to spread his wings and open his eyes. As the hatchlings get bigger, they take up more and more space, and I have no idea how the nest hasn't fallen out of the window.  

We'll enjoy watching the birds grow, and then fledge...

And then get the screen repaired.






Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Yay Me!


I rode my bike this morning all bah mahself!  I know what you're thinking---big deal. But it's the first time in years that I've ridden alone because of the time I fell and broke my wrist.


I always ride with my husband so that he can call 911 when I fall. He is in SC today, so I rode with my trusty "Help I've fallen and I can't get up watch," and the phone it calls 911 from. So in that regard, I was prepared and ready to go.

However at about the 3/4 point of my ride, I had to stop and walk the bike over some curbs between neighborhoods, and I discovered that my kickstand was down.  Ooops.


It's a good thing I hadn't needed to make any sharp left turns, although, when I told my husband what I had done, he said that the kickstand would have gone up if it had hit anything.  I'm just glad I didn't have to learn that firsthand.


In other totally unrelated news, I am making this wrap out of exactly this yarn in exactly this color.  


Cowboys and Angels by Isabell Kraemer


It appears that I will do anything to avoid starting work on the Throwback fair isle sweater.


Wednesday, April 3, 2019

What I Believe


 We can always learn something new if we just pay attention.

I've just finished reading Trinity by Leon Uris, about the history of Ireland from the 1840s (the famine years) through 1916 (the Easter uprising).  It's a horrible history, full of violence. I am still almost as confused by all of the various factions as I was before I read the book, and I learned that apparently people in Ireland believe, "In Ireland there is no future, only the past happening over and over."


Currently Ireland seems to be a happy, prosperous country, but the undercurrent of grievances still exists:
A sign in the lot we parked in outside the wall around Londonderry.  


Vandals from Republic of Ireland paint over the "London" portion of road signs.


Who knows what Brexit will bring, but I'm going back in the fall and I hope the British don't have a hard Brexit with hard borders.


Now for something completely different.



I listened to a podcast about auctioneering. One school for auctioneering takes twelve weeks, and students learn how to speak really, really quickly, how to make their tongue bounce off the roof of their mouth, how to say "got a bid" and "need a bid" so fast that the audience probably can't understand it. They learn how to read the audience so the auctioneer knows who among those signaling a bid is the most likely to make a higher bid. They are taught to somehow make a humming sound that runs through their whole routine, sort of mesmerizing the audience to continue to listen.  

Who knew?  Now you do.



And now something else completely different.



Jeff Bezos, the RICHEST MAN IN THE WORLD, owner of Amazon and the Washington Post, was recently the victim of an attempted blackmail plot. Dick pics, no less.  No one wants to see those pics, thank you very much.

News stories say either his mistresses' brother or the Saudis hacked his phone to get the photos.  

Whatever.  But the stories also say that he and his traumatized girlfriend/mistress/future wife are now consulting with a psychic in Las Vegas to help them cope. A friend says that the psychic is very well known as a very good psychic and that she is quite expensive (so that proves she's good.)

Again, he is THE RICHEST MAN IN THE WORLD and he's going to a psychic.  




Monday, February 18, 2019

No Good Way Out


It would seem that there is no good solution for not looking older as we GET OLDER. I said no GOOD solution. There is plastic surgery, but that can go really, really wrong:


Or, one could die young, but that is not a solution in that no one would see you, so what's the point?

What brought this on, you may ask?  (Or you might not, I don't know.)

Watching a charming British film about a retirement home for musicians and singers.


Netflix recommended this film and we watched it on Saturday evening instead of going out in the seemingly never-ending rain and cold. It stars Pauline Collins (I remember her from Upstairs/Downstairs and Shirley Valentine), Billy Connolly ( a Scottish actor and I love listening to him speak)  Tom Courtenay, and the always-wonderful Maggie Smith, she of the wonky eye. My husband says she doesn't have a wonky eye, but he is wrong.  I ask you:


It's the right eye? The left? I don't know but one of them is off.  

She looks amazingly like my mother-in-law from a distance, when the wonky eye isn't visible.

Anyway, we enjoyed the film.  The music is primarily that of Verdi, from Rigoletto and the Mikado. The soundtrack is beautiful, the settings are beautiful---gorgeous old estate and gorgeous old grounds. Many of the actors in the movie are retired musicians and opera singers, so the talent is amazing. It's a happy story, perfect for a cold rainy night or any other night.

So, no surgery and no dying young (too late for that). We just have to look our age, I guess.  Except for hair color. And make up. And scarves (knitters' secret weapon).


Friday, January 18, 2019

Norway!!! Sonja Heinie!!!


Sonia Heinie

Last weekend my 6th grade grandson was working on writing a paper on the Manhattan Project. There was apparently some sturm und drang in the house.

That reminded me of the time I wrote my first research paper ever in sixth grade.  It was on Norway.  Why Norway? you ask.  Because SONJA HEINIE was from Norway and she was THE BEST ICE SKATER IN THE  WORLD!!!  I must have seen her skating in the Olympics on our small black-and-white television and been entranced.   

This of course was before the internet was even thought of, so I had to write off to various places...travel agencies?  Norway itself?  I don't remember but I had all I needed to write the definitive paper on the subject.  And so I did.

Now came the hard part---typing it up.  I eventually became a fairly fast and accurate typist, but I doubt that I was fast and accurate in sixth grade, but on I typed.  Mistakes?  Erase if i could, re-type the page if I couldn't.  The paper had to have correct footnotes and a bibliography.  I could type the text ok, but what if I typed one line too many and now needed yet another footnote ON THAT PAGE and there was no room for the extra footnote?  Gah...

I called out for help.  I don't remember getting all that anxious and frazzled about this task because....SONJA HEINIE!!!  but I do remember my mother getting all anxious and frazzled.  She had no fun, that I can tell you.

I'm sure the paper was pretty boring---how big is Norway?  What's the population?  What crops do they produce?  What form of government do they have?  What famous people are from Norway?  SONJA HEINIE!!!

Did I get a good grade?  I don't remember, but for my mother's sake, I sure hope that I did.

And for my daughter and son-in-law's sake, I hope that my grandson gets a good grade on his paper.



Wednesday, January 16, 2019

It's a Hat!





This hat did not turn out like the one in the pattern picture, but it's ok.  The first one I made was tiny, so I reversed the pattern and knit it from the bottom up.  AND, tah-dah, I made up the pattern from there.  I've never done that before, and it works I think.  I kept trying it on as I went along to see when to decrease and then when to stop knitting.  It's not at all floppy like the pattern hat is, but whatevah.  I'll wear it.

Here is my clover plant.  It's usually outside and gets very full with clover leaves, but this one is naked.  


Molly is my prime suspect.  I've never caught her in the act, but


she is sneaky.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Still Crazy After All These Years


of knitting.

I finished the aforementioned Weekender sweater and it sort of fits.  So...victory?

Not really; I don't much like it.

But in 2018 I had bought yarn for my first-ever Fair Isle sweater and THAT was going to be my New Year's project.  



(On the top right, main color, the bottom photo, the colors for the yoke.)

I bought the colors in October at SAFF, and that was to be it. No more yarn shopping for me.

But then, while I was in Texas for Christmas, I bought the yarn on the left to make another Free Your Fade, AND while I was still in Texas, I ordered the yarn and pattern for the beret, from Kitterly, from whom I had vowed never to buy another kit after my dissatisfaction with a previous purchase.  I HAD to buy the yarn for Free Your Fade; I was in Sated Sheep in Dripping Springs, Texas, and it would have been rude to not buy anything, right?

Right.

Now for something completely different:

My daughter and her family have a new kitten and she, Violet Beaudelaire,
was fascinated by the Simon's Cat videos on You Tube.




My cats pay absolutely no attention to tv. 


I almost forgot!!!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

Saturday, November 24, 2018

The Albatross Around My Neck,


the thorn in my side, the burr under my saddle, the pea under my mattress.....whatever.

The Weekender sweater is finally finished.  I started it January 12th of this year, and now it's almost the end of November.  It's not that the pattern was a problem, but the yarn would not behave.  I bought it in 2014 and started other patterns a couple of times, then frogged them and put the yarn in time out.  The %^&*() swatches lied every time, and I was, as a result, always on the wrong size needles.  Finally I saw someone else using the same yarn, on size 8 needles, I liked the fabric, so that's what I've used and the sweater WILL FIT SOMEONE or else.


This is a horrible photo of it, but all photos of it all through the process have been horrible; the thing is cursed.  

Anyway, now my plan is to start on my first Fair Isle project.  I have almost no idea of what I'm doing but I figure between friends who are better knitters than I and frequent searches on YouTube, I can figure it out.  I hope.

However, I do have 6.7 oz of this yarn remaining.  Anyone want a hat?  The yarn is Brooklyn Tweed Shelter, color Thistle.  The yarn is rustic and woolen spun, so that means it's light as air and pretty scratchy.

I should go into advertising.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Oh DEER!


It's autumn and that means the deer have returned.



This year we have had as many as three multiple-horned bucks in our yard at the same time.  Odd that they are traveling together, I think, but I'm not an expert on deer.  For years, we haven't seen any deer, but now we see lots of them, including one year, a mother and THREE fawns.  They were so cuuuute...



There were three bucks in our back yard one afternoon:  a four-point, a ten-point and a twelve point.  They seemed to be peacefully co-existing until the ten-point walked TOO close to the larger buck.  Suddenly he stopped moving and the two of them stared at each other from about four feet apart.

I did not want a fight in my back yard which could result in an injured deer to deal with, and I was about to walk out on the deck to distract them, but suddenly the smaller deer blinked and backed off.  And then turned around to walk into my perennial garden and started munching.  

STOP IT!  

It's hopeless.  What the deer don't eat, the rabbits and squirrels do.

I do wonder if deer hunters get to see these large bucks as often as I do.  


Tuesday, October 23, 2018

For Knitters Only


Unless you are a non-knitter who is bored or someone who has a little free time to fill.

I am finally making progress on the sweater I bought yarn for in 2014.  I think it might even fit, miracle of miracles.


 However, when I got to the sleeve cuffs, the instructions said to use the Kitchener bind off.


Oh sure.  I'm on three needles, y'all.  How the $%^&* does that work? Do I need six needles???  Why not just tell me to fly a plane while I'm at it?  I don't know how to do that either. 


Google to the rescue.  I found a video on using the Kitchener bind off in the round, which is what knitting on three needles actually is.  

For those knitters out there, here it is:


It is genius!  And easy, as long as you pay absolute attention to what you are doing.  I had a couple of spots where I couldn't tell what I had just done, because I looked away AT THE VIDEO while I was knitting.  Don't do that.  Watch it, bind off a few stitches, and watch again if you need to.

I don't understand the technical part of knitting, so I could never have created the Kitchener stitch in the first place, and whoever figured how to do it in the round must have, as my grandson claims about himself, a very big brain.  (He's right about that, says doting grandmother.)

My finished result.  Not as smooth and perfect as the bind off in the video, but this is only my first attempt.  I have one sleeve to go.  Which I now must knit.





Thursday, October 18, 2018

I Baked!


I made oatmeal raisin cookies yesterday.  I almost never bake,  even when my grandchildren are here.  Youngest granddaughter loves to bake (she's 10) so I stand back and let her do it all.  She made cupcakes the last time she was here, using flat-bottomed ice cream cones for the baking cups.  

I buy cookies ready-made from the store.  I figure if I bake them, I'll eat them, so I buy them. And then eat them.  I might as well make my own.




Aren't they pretty? I used the recipe on the inside lid of the Quaker Oats container.



I had hoped that they wouldn't be as sweet as the store-bought cookies, but they are.  They are too sweet for me, so my husband will have to eat them all.

He won't mind.


On another topic, does anyone else love Abbott and Costello?  I came across video clips of them on You Tube where I was watching a cat video, as one does.  I remember them from when I was a kid. They were funny then, and they are funny now, in the old videos I mean, since they are dead now.  Poor Costello died in his fifties, and Abbott in his seventies.




This is their most famous bit:  Who's On First?

There are many, many more.  

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Hmmmm...


I might be making an ugly sweater.  



I bought the yarn in 2014, started another pattern twice, and am this far on my first attempt on the second pattern.  

It's supposed to look like this when it's finished:




It's The Weekender by Andrea Mowry, and I'm making it from Brooklyn Tweed's Shelter, which, I tell you, I will never knit with again.  It is beautiful, I love the rustic feel and look of it, and it's woolen spun so it's light as air, but it BREAKS.  Tug a little to pull the yarn through a stitch, and it BREAKS.  Pain in the you know where.

Anyway...mine looks like a big square with small holes for the sleeves.  I'm to pick up and knit 60 stitches around each armhole, but it's going to be a tight squeeze.

AND, do you see the line running up the middle of the front?  There is one in the middle of the back too.  A design element.  

This is mine:


It's all wobbly and the stitches to the left of the line are stretched out.

I always believe in the magic of blocking.

Sweet Mother of Purl, let it be so.



Sunday, October 7, 2018

Hope Springs Eternal


so they say, and I'm back to working on the sweater I started years ago.  MANY years ago.  I bought the yarn while I was in Austin visiting Heather and her family.  I broke my ankle, and before I could get to a doctor to have my ankle put in a cast, I hobbled, using borrowed crutches, up the ramp to Hill Country Weavers to buy the hard-to-find Brooklyn Tweed Shelter yarn for a sweater.  I thought that if I waited until after getting the cast, the doctor would forbid me to walk any farther than into the airport to go home.  So I defied him in advance.

However, the yarn has gotten the best of me several times.  The first pattern I tried it for didn't work out, so I frogged all but the difficult twisted rib stitch bottom border and tried again using the same pattern.

Didn't work.  Frogged the whole thing and put all the yarn into a very extended, multi-year, time out.  Then I found another pattern, Weekender, by Andrea Mowry.  THEN I got to the short row section (shudder) and put the project into time out again.  

But now it's back and I'm ready for battle. I don't like short rows because I can't find the wrapped-and-turned stitch when I need to count from that stitch.  And on dark purple yarn it's even more difficult to find. But, clever me, I came up with a fix:  I put a removable marker at the w/t stitch, remove it when I get to it, and put the marker at the new w/t stitch.


Brilliant!  I bet no one has ever thought of this before.  (I'm told that yes, they have. But no one told me, so I still proclaim brilliance.)

Now I am knitting away, making progress thanks to Knit Companion.



I can keep track of multiple counts at once, and mark where I am so that if I put it in time out again (which I am determined not to do) I'll know where I am.  



So there's hope.  There's a light at the end of the tunnel.  And there's luck---the light isn't a train coming at me.  

Time will tell.  Any more clich├ęs?

Future Sweater
The only problem now is that I have no idea if it will fit me or not.  I made, for the first time ever, multiple gauge swatches, washed them, dried them, counted stitches and picked the correct size needle to get the size sweater I wanted.  Then I started knitting.  The gauge swatch results did not match what was happening with the sweater fabric. Swatches lie, y'all! 

I saw what another knitter was using Shelter for, and I liked the fabric she was getting, so I switched to the size needles she was using.  I am throwing caution to the wind and not measuring gauge at all.  I have two daughters and three granddaughters, so my theory is that it will fit SOMEONE.

I will finish knitting the sweater, soak it, block it, and lovingly wrap it in tissue paper and put a yarn bow on it and tell the recipient that I made it for her. 

I'm a saint, I tell ya.






Saturday, September 15, 2018

Haggis


Younger daughter recently returned from a trip to Scotland (where I am supposed to be RIGHT NOW by the way) and told us that Haggis was on most of the menus in places she ate.  I had thought that no one in the 21st century would still be eating it because 1. Yuck and 2. The Scots aren't down to the bare bones of the animals they eat and therefore didn't have to resort to eating sheep's lungs.  

However, Sarah said that judging from the accents of the diners eating Haggis, it was the locals, not curious tourists, who ordered it.

From A Classic Scottish Cookbook, originally published in 1907 as a fundraiser for the Highland Association, comes the recipe for Haggis:




What is "pluck" I asked myself.  Myself didn't know, so I asked the Googles:


So, it's the stuff "plucked" out of the poor sheep?  I guess so.

I don't know what the "lights" are and I don't want to know.  Eyeballs come to mind.

You don't see Haggis on menus here because  1. Yuck and 2.


Considering the pluck is legal, I don't understand why the sheep lung isn't, but that's ok, I'm not interested in eating any of the ingredients.

At least one Scott I came across on an internet discussion of Haggis is not a fan:







Friday, September 14, 2018

I Have the Best Friends!



As some of you know, I was supposed to be, AT THIS VERY MINUTE, in Scotland.  I was supposed to arrive there a week ago today, but due to confusing travel mishaps, I am home. 

So, no souvenirs you say?  

Hah! I do have souvenirs thanks to my knitting friends who gave me:








The shirt says:  Whatever is meant to happen to you will happen to you.  

Aha! That explains why I didn't end up in Scotland.  I must not have been meant to go there.

I wish I knew WHY!!!

My daughter just came back from a trip to Scotland, where for breakfast on an overnight train trip, she was served Black Pudding.  And she tried it, ick.

My new Scottish cookbook has the recipe for Black Pudding, and as I've mentioned in the past, I'm nothing if not generous, so here it is (you're welcome):



Two questions---where do I buy sheep's blood, and doesn't this get cooked at some point?