Tuesday, December 29, 2015

My google calendar reminder says I should upload a knitting post.

However, since I haven't been knitting since ... checking Franklin Planner ... December 3rd, there isn't much to say. I spent a jolly evening last week, rolling my new yarns into cakes (my winder makes cakes, not balls) and putting them in Ziplock bags, and then put the TinkerToy swift away, and the yarn roller, and bundled them all back into the china closet.

I did move the current sock from dpns onto a circular then promptly realized I didn't know what to do from there - and then remembered I wasn't supposed to be knitting, anyway. (It's a self-imposed 6-week knitting hiatus trying to heal a painful and crippling trigger-finger.) I guess I was thinking maybe a circular needle wouldn't be hard on the trigger-finger like dpns are. However, I should really stick to my 6-week plan to see if it works I *think* the finger is a little better, but I'm not sure.

I did violate my NO MORE YARN pledge because someone was selling GORGEOUS yarn and giving 100% of the money to Medicins Sans Frontières, so obviously I HAD to do it, right? Wait until you see it. It IS gorgeous.

So that's about yarn.

In other topics - I have utterly failed to do any exercising since the YMCA LiveStrong class ended Dec. 10th. I did get some barbells and a rubber tube thing to do exercises with. However, I really do intend to change my evil ways and develop much better health habits in 2016, so here it is Dec. 29th and in three days - oh heck, I'll give me Jan. 1, too - some changes in my daily routine are going to start being implemented. I don't expect perfection but I by god expect more effort. Right now I'm fighting Yet Another Infection which has caused a painful swelling in a lymph node in my jaw area, which hurts quite a bit and doesn't allow me to sleep comfortably for very long at a time - but I got antibiotics yesterday and I'm following doctor's orders (which include going in to see him if it doesn't let up in a day or two) so I expect it to GO THE FUCK AWAY very soon. THEN I can get back to exercising.

So that's the news from here. Not very interesting.

Here's a picture of my cat. Adams thinks he's invisible here.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Book Review: Grave Passage

Grave Passage, a Henry Grave Mystery by William Doonan. I got this book from a very nice mystery book club member, and I'll take it back to pass it on to someone else next meeting.

Henry Grave is an 84-year-old special investigator - special in that he's had no particular training for investigating crimes, but he still seems to solve them anyway. He has a deep background which is gradually and smoothly revealed during the course of this investigation into the murder of a true crime author strangled and hung up high on a Caribbean-cruise ship climbing wall. The author had been bragging in his well-attended ship lectures about a famous unsolved murder case from six years previously which he had solved and would reveal the killer the next day in his next lecture. Gee, guess what guy, that wasn't a good idea. The investigation, therefore, takes place on the luxury liner as it wends its way amongst the islands. Its oceanic location makes it important to solve the murder before the ship enters any country's jurisdictional waters, thus putting it into the hands of local law enforcement that may or may not be up to the job.

The donor of this book said it's funny and that Henry Grave is a hilarious old guy and he was right. William Doonan, the book's author, is not elderly but he seems to get the balance of making humor from ageing's inconveniences and pains without resorting to stereotypes or insults against old people. Henry tends to fall asleep at the wrong moments, sometimes awakening to be horrified that he'd let himself become so vulnerable to attack (which is a very appropriate fear, here).  He gets busy with investigating and tends to forget to eat, then suddenly has to eat lest his "mild" diabetes bring him down. (This is one point that bothered me - Henry drinks quite a bit and I thought such quantities of alcohol were a real no-no for diabetics. I worry about him.) He's actually very tough and able to be ruthless when circumstances require it - that personal history serves him well in dangerous moments. And he uses the doddering old geezer stereotype quite effectively while actually being ready for pretty much anything. He's not afraid to confront possible murderers, mobsters, and deposed genocidal dictators with blunt questions and a skeptical attitude.

Henry considers himself still very much in the running in the romance department. He is often telling himself the equivalent of "I've still got it!" but on him, it's charming, not chauvinistically dude-bro-ish. The cruise ship atmosphere with many older (not to mention, rich) women available to practice his flirting skills on is right up his alley. And he's proud of his dancing skills - he teaches a class on the tango at one point in the book. He loves food. And he doesn't make "old peoples'" nasty comments about younger generations' music and fashion and manners like so many aggravating older characters in books. (I hate that.) I really like Henry Grave and I hope to read further exploits about him.

The mystery itself turns out to be much more far-ranging and interesting than I'd expected it to be. Henry's able to perceive when modern cyber skills will be useful, though I don't think he's much of a skilled cyber guy himself, beyond using Google and watching videos on his laptop - he knows who can ferret out information for him and doesn't hesitate to draft their assistance.

The description of life on board a luxury cruise liner was interesting - Doonan has been guest lecturer on quite a few cruises himself, the Author's Bio says - but it still wouldn't appeal to me. I'm quite happy to read about it. Not interested in doing it.

All in all this is a very enjoyable book and I hope to read more of Henry's adventures!

Book info:

Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: The Glencannon Press (September 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1889901490
ISBN-13: 978-1889901497

Amazon.com offers this for free for Kindle if you're a KindleUnlimited subscriber, otherwise it's $2.99. The paperback version is listed at $22.95 new. There are several other Henry Grave novels listed there, too.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Happy Holiday of your preference!

Me, I'm being very very grateful for my loving family and friends and neighbors and pets, and that my surgical oncologist and I survived trounced cancer this year. I mean, there's nothing I can add to that list to make it more awesome.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

I said I'd never build a stash

Silly me.

I got some more a few weeks ago. Someday I am going to have a LOT of really cool socks.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Monday night book review

I read Sunfail by Steve Savile over the weekend, and posted this review on Amazon.com afterwards:

I've never read any of Steven Savile's work before and the blurb intrigued me. I'm all for skilled and determined heroes and brainy and resourceful heroines (I call it "competence porn" for inept unexpert people like me), apocalyptic scenarios and secret bad guys with a dash of possibly metaphysical underpinnings so it had points for it before I even opened the book.

What I liked: I liked Jake Carter and Finn, the ancient language expert in the university. I liked Sophia, Jake's long-ago love interest. The action was non-stop and the dangers and blockades thrown up against our stalwarts just kept piling up, great. I even liked not really knowing what was going on for most of the book - because Jake didn't either. About 7/8ths of the way through I started wondering if it was first in a series because I couldn't see how it was all going to be resolved, even though nothing on the cover suggested a series. My intuition was confirmed in the last chapter.

What wasn't so great: I'm a raging liberal, myself, but even I got a little tired of the polemics (I mean "a little" literally - it didn't ruin anything for me). There seemed to be a lack of connecting the apocalyptic events like the dogs all running wild and the birds falling out of the sky, with anything else - aside from crowds gawking at the poor birds, society didn't seem to have any interest in the phenomena. And the secret goings-on once revealed, didn't even explain the title of the book. I think they could have picked a better title. However, This book kept me up until 3 a.m. because I couldn't stop before the end. It is a compelling read, I would put on a level with JK Rowling's writing talents (better than Dan Brown's DaVinci Code, which I did find myself reminded of at one point), one I really enjoyed and would recommend to anyone who likes this genre of novel.

All that said, I will definitely read the rest of the series, if there is one!

Saturday, December 05, 2015

My cats are in the doghouse.

Last evening I spent four hours carefully sewing (by hand) a new top on my worn-out hassock. I'd luckily found perfect upholstery fabric and I had a plan, and I did it, and it turned out even better than I'd hoped. I was *so* chuffed.

I went out for a few hours this afternoon, and when I came back, SOMEONE had vomited copiously all over my brand-new hassock-top. I could. Not. Believe. It.

They're BOTH in the doghouse and I don't care if it's not fair. SOMEONE did it on purpose. They're felina non grata for the night.


Thursday, December 03, 2015

Time to get real

I've been putting up with this trigger-finger for months and months. I don't even know what "triggered" it but it was last spring, before the cancer diagnosis, and after *that* of course everything got shoved to the back burner. But it's over now and this damned finger is getting in my way.

It's become impossible to knit two days in a row. Last night my hand was so sore it kept waking me up. So I'm calling a hiatus on my knitting (ghods, how I hate that!) for 6 weeks. I'm going to get, or make, a proper splint to keep it from bending where it shouldn't, and I"m going to follow a course of gentle stretches but otherwise try to let it rest totally. That will, of course, be impossible, but with a splint on I'll have a reminder when I start doing something stupid.

I really would like to avoid having to have a cortisone injection into the tendon sheath at the base of my finger. Nothing about that sounds like fun, plus it isn't always effective, and then surgery is called for, and if I want to avoid the needle I COSMICALLY want to avoid surgery. Had enough of that for a good long while, thank you very much.

So all that's left, for now, is for me to get real and stop using that finger as much as possible. Oh, I'll be able to cuddle and pet my yarn stash and call it George. I'll even be able to wind it into balls, the newer skeins. I love doing that, it's very meditative. And it'll give me lots of time to pore over patterns and match them with the yarn I've got.

So, no more knitting blog posts for awhile. The sock and the hat will have to wait to get finished. It's my hand that needs "knitting" now.

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Knitting Knews

and on its proper evening, too!

I've been slogging slowly along with the sock and the hat. I can do 10 rows on the sock, and 3 on the hat, before my hands can't take any more. But that's progress!

When I completed that top light brown/light gray triad, from there to the brim was one repeat of the colorwork pattern; it needs two more repeats before I finish the top in the light brown yarn. I don't know why my knitting on this one is so tight; I'm hoping I can get it to stretch a bit with blocking.

I got the heel turned last night. I'll try to get it circled up again so I can start on the foot, tonight.

And in other knitting news, I bought six more skeins of sock yarn yesterday.  My goal is eventually replacing all my store-bought socks with me-made socks (except for a very few pairs that I really like). My hand-knit inventory so far: one pair (my first attempt) that would fit a Percheron horse; one pair that's maybe two sizes too large - good bed-socks - and four that actually fit. This pair will be #5.

Yesterdays' book "review"

OK, sorry, I had to finish the thing last night before I felt I could really comment. And it's not much of a comment, because it's really not much of a book. Years ago I discovered the 1940's "madcap mysteries" lady, Craig Rice, and started collecting her books as I could find them. I don't have all of them yet and probably won't. Thing is, the poor lady was a raging alcoholic and single mom and her life was not that great, and cut short by the drinking when she was only like, 47. She wrote "comic" mysteries, most featuring a hard-drinking (surprise) Chicago lawyer named John Malone. His cohorts were likewise more or less hard-drinking (a LOT of drinking goes on in these books - I mean a LOT) musicians, guys, dolls, PR flaks, grainy and more-or-less competent or incompetent cops... Anyway, the one I read this time is 8 Faces at 3.  An old lady is murdered in a house where every clock (8 of them) has stopped at 3:00 a.m. It was no surprise to me when I read on a mystery reviewer's blog that she started with that premise with no idea at all why it happened that way, and just pantsed it all the way through. The explanation for the clocks is, frankly, a dud. But she probably owed her publisher the manuscript so she wrapped it up in dud-wrap and sent it in, and her books were apparently popular enough that nobody cared that the very premise of the title was stupid.

Sorry, maybe I wasn't in the mood to read Craig Rice this week.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Catching up, again

Sort of hit the nadir of my give-a-shit-itis cycle last night, stayed up until 3 a.m. reading Robert Galbraith's newest Cormorant Strike novel, Career of Evil; went to bed *dying* for sleep - and got exactly none. Oh, I finally dropped off around 5, and something outside woke me at 7 or so. I did get back to sleep and didn't wake again until almost 10, so that was some, anyway. (Grabbed a half-hour nap this afternoon, too.) But I've been putzing around tidying things up, checking things off the list.

So, to catch up with my self-imposed reportage, Monday I did not do a book review, but now I've got one to review: Career of Evil. If anything, it's better even than the first two. I really like her two main characters, Cormorant and Robin, and this story gives us a lot more of each of their life stories and for me, anyway, it was welcome. I struggle to feel empathy with characters who insist on making bad choices, and Robin has seemed in the previous books to cling to that dud of a fiancé for no visible reason. In this book the reason is made visible, and more understandable, and I was able to like her for her positive qualities unhindered by what had seemed like sheer mule-headedness.

This book involves child molesters and partner abuse, and while there is not a lot of cringe-inducing gore (from my POV), it may not be to some readers' tastes. Ol' Cormorant has quite a collection of vile enemies in his past, it was probably inevitable that Robin would end up having to deal with one (or more) of them on her own. Pleasingly, she doesn't collapse and weep and allow evil plans to follow their planned courses entirely.

Descriptions of the landscape, villages, London's gritty alleys and fancy neighborhoods, and characters main and minor continue to delight me. I can't wait now for the next one!

Tuesdays are supposed to bring you knitting yarns hahaha - not much to report this week because yesterday's YMCA workout was hard on my left hand and left it aching to the point I didn't think I should push it harder by knitting. I did get some old knitting magazines sorted out to give away, so that's always good. I think I'll take the Mineshaft sock to Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow, to keep my hands busy post-feast. Chances are I'll just doze, but I may as well have it just in case. I made a couple of little "yarn babies" - just tightly-wound balls of yarn with a short "tail" - for the two new kittens at the home where I'm going.

ETA: 10:30 pm - I did pick up the Sphinx Hat and knit another set of three rounds on it. One more set and I'll have the first repeat of the pattern done; two more repeats and then the solid-color top of the hat, and it'll be done. For some reason my knitting is really tight on this one. I'm hoping blocking will get it to relax a bit. We shall see!

And, Wednesday, nothing to relate about writing. Haven't done any except letters.  And this.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Thursday miscellany

I didn't realize I'd skipped posting since Monday. Well, Miscellaneous Thursday is miscellaneous.

Finally made it back to the YMCA Livestrong class this morning. This cold has been riding me something fierce, which has been very frustrating since ... well ... to back up: When I left the class October 29, I fully intended never to return. Let's just say that I did not react well to one part of the class that day. Flashbacks from high school gym class had hit me like a bomb and I did not respond like a mature, rational adult. It was really good that I had so long before my next scheduled attendance because it gave me time to cool off and reflect and realize it was ALL about my own attitude, and that I really do need this class and what it's teaching me. I mean, seriously NEED it, if I have any hope of living into my "golden years" as an independent person. And my negative reaction was NOT the fault of anyone but ME. (I did get straight with the class teacher today. She's good people and forgave me.) So I basically not only rededicated myself, but strengthened my resolve to go at the class whole-heartedly and with a good attitude. Then I got home and the cold descended, and it's been very frustrating not being able to get back there. But, now I have, so Yay.

I've been knitting mightily on the November Self-Imposed Sock Club sock:

It's ready for the heel flap, yay! Going to try a slightly different heel flap pattern just to stretch my skilz a little bit. I don't think I'll finish the pair by November 30th,  heh, no lie, I'm not quite halfway done with the first sock of the pair. I can't go any faster because my hands won't tolerate more. I've arrived at a good compromise: I knit ten rows on a sock, then switch and do three rounds on the hat, which is bigger yarn and bigger needles and doesn't hurt my hands as much. 

I think the Sphinx Hat is going to be striking:

There is no yarn thread showing because I'm cutting each color (leaving about 8 inches) as its triple round is done. I thought tying them together neatly inside, with a little bit of give, would end up working better than my trying to carry them all in a bundle all the way to the top of the hat. Have to think about it. I don't know if weaving the ends in would be as permanent as tying them together. There's lots of time to figure it out. I've just done 12 rows of the 18 in the pattern, and the pattern is repeated two more times before the crown is to be finished in the tan color. Lotsa time!

As regards the news of the world, well, watching the horrific events in Paris has done nothing for my mood, of course. But what's worse is the absolutely despicable reaction of yahoos here - Nebraska's governor included OF COURSE - turning their backs on the most desperate people on the planet and acting like that is a good thing. I thought once we'd got rid of Dubya I could hold up my head as an American again. Unfortunately the rot seems to have spread all up and down the political hierarchy and there are sociopathic assholes everywhere in government, much worse than ever before in my lifetime (oh wait, then there was the Nixon administration), and plenty of low-information, knuckle-dragging idiots to support them. It's so depressing.

I'm not much one to march or make irate phone calls and I don't plague my friends with political email forwards. All I can do is my tiny bit, sign petitions, email representatives - who here in Nebraska almost without exception ignore people like me totally - and do small things here where I am (I'm going to an open house at the local mosque in December, to which we Omaha Atheists have been invited due to our leaders reaching out to them after the Paris attacks - and subsequent vandalism of the mosque by some of the aforementioned idiots). And to remember to always be grateful for the undeservedly lucky life I've lived, and to try to assist others who haven't had it so good.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Monday, no book review

I'm having a hard time finishing books lately. Right now I'm in the middle of re-reading Louise Penny's Still Life, her first Inspector Gamache book. I'm doing that because I recently signed up for Acorn's free 30-day free trial period, and discovered that they carry the one & only TV miniseries(or is it a single TV movie; can't remember) anyone's made of her series, made in Canada (appropriately as the books are set there and Penny's a Canadian). Other Gamache fans have said they really didn't like the movie at all; I thought I'd give it a chance. I'm a fan of Nathaniel Parker, who was cast as Gamache, so that was at least one + in its favor.

Well, I liked it. I even watched it twice, and I may just watch it again before I decide whether to fork out the money for an Acorn subscription (they don't have a lot of material and most of it I've already seen, so right now I'm thinking No). I can see where some things were changed from the books - but I can also see a LOT of things they kept in - down to details of clothing, quotes, personalities, events - I was really surprised.

So I thought I'd go back and read the book again and see if I'm remembering right. So far, so good. Yes, there were some changes I could have done without - like making Peter and Clara LL Bean catalogue models-gorgeous, and about 15 years younger than in the books.  But I thought they did a cracking job with the rotten apple in Gamache's team, can't remember her name right now - I can see where they even were planting little hints about things, concerning her as well as other things, to come in future Gamache mysteries.  I liked the portrayal of Ruth (I missed her duck, but that might not appear until a later book, again, I can't remember). Myrna, the bookstore owner, barely had two lines in the whole movie, and they missed a chance to cast a woman of imperial size (that phrase always comes to me when she's featured in the books - a large lady who I would definitely like a lot) but at least they did cast a black actress to play the black character. The plot and clues, etc. seemed to follow the book well.  Penny has said she doesn't see them doing any more of her books. I think that's kind of too bad.

But I have all her books and I will be re-reading them many times in years to come.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Feels like the past week has been a mess.

The worst, of course, being the atrocities in Paris. Infuriating, heart-breaking, inconceivable.

I brought a cold home from CA; yesterday was the "why can't I just die?" phase; today it's the coughing-out-your-lungs phase which is still better than the former.

Despite the grief and the physical discomfort I did work on the Sphinx Hat last night.  I finished the brim and started the pattern part. I got the first set of three rows done. I haven't taken a picture yet because the pattern isn't really readily visible yet. Alternating the colors wasn't as hard as I'd first thought. I've been cutting the ends at the end of a color useage; not sure you're supposed to do that but I can't imagine you want to carry all those ends! It'll still take a lot of weaving- in ... or perhaps I'll give each end an inch or two of play and tie it in a knot to the next one. Try to keep it both secure and neat.

Not doing much of anything today, in fact there may be a nap in my very near future.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Scrambled week

Wednesday's supposed to be a writing update, but I worked very little on the NaNo novel while visiting my family the past 7 days. I did make some notes, and added a few hundred words. Wrote a post-visit précis on the plane coming home last night in my journal. While there we saw "The Martian" and OMG do I love that movie. I may have mentioned that on the blog already, I can't remember. I'm crazy with fatigue. In Omaha time, I got up in California at 5 a.m. Tuesday and didn't get home until 1 a.m. Wednesday. I can't even figure out how many hours that is awake.

I did get a good bit done on the November Self-Imposed Sock Club Sock No. 1 while gone, and it had the added benefit of generating a delightful conversation with a young lady who'd (unbeknownst to me) been watching me knit on it in the airport gate, and who was very impressed (very flattering) and who said she'd only knitted a scarf and was working on an afghan now. She hadn't heard of Ravelry, so I gave her the address for that. So we got to talk about knitting for awhile, always fun. I didn't knit on the plane because the 16 rows I did in the airport about killed my hands. I need to get this trigger-finger fixed!

Got my one kitty home from the boarders, and my stay-at-home cat has finally settled down now that his favorite napping place, the cat-carrier, has returned. He's been driving me nuts since I got home, poor baby. I'm sure he's never been alone that long before. My sweet sis-in-law came over & visited him several times and he had everything he needed - except me and his little sister. Now he's napping, and SHE is driving me crazy. But we're going to have a nap, too, very soon now so she should settle down when she finds that out, too.

So that's it for this post.

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Wednesday, writing, got it

I have made great progress on the NaNoWriMo novel today! Erm - not so much the word-count, as the cogitating and coming up with beaucoup ideas! And marking them down. I know, I know, 476 words is pretty paltry - but the night's not over yet, and I'm tellin' ya, if I could count the notes I've made, the word count would be much higher. However, the proof is in the pudding, as always. If I was on-point with my daily goal, I'd have 6,668 words when I close down the laptop tonight. I kinda don't think I'll get there. But I will get closer! And tomorrow's another day. And I have ideas! So don't give up on me yet!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

More about knitting

So, I started that "mineshaft" pair of plain vanilla socks to have along with me on my visit to CA. Then I got to thinking it'd be nice to have something different to switch to while I'm there. I've been working on figuring out this cool hat pattern called the "Sphinx Hat"*, from a magazine. My friend Sharon had given me two lovely balls of soft brown Plymouth Encore, worsted yarn, and I have these beautiful cashmere mittens I bought when I visited my friend in New Hampshire, that have one color very similar in them. Plus black, white, gray and a darker brown. So I bought skeins of those four additional colors in the same yarn, and I'm going to make a hat out of this pattern, and probably a scarf out of the yarn in a different kind of pattern. But the hat first.

Being such a tyro at this knitting thing, I decided I needed to draw my own color pattern in my colors rather than trying to work off the magazine page.

So I'm knitting a swatch so I know for sure how many stitches to cast on. 

I really need project bags for these but time is getting short...maybe Sunday after the tabletop games? I've got that cute fabric I got from the estate sale last weekend...

*"Sphinx Hat" designed by Sarah Hurwitz and published in Knitscene, Accessories 2014.

[Edited to add:]

I thought I'd already posted this on my blog but I can't find it with a quick Search, so here's a picture of all the yarns together, with the pattern photo and the mittens:

Obssessive Completist? Moi?

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Actual knitting news...not really huge.

So, I did work on the "October" sock last night, enough to get to the end of the first set of pattern rows. (12) But my left hand was hurting the whole time. That's the one with the painful "trigger finger" and the one I think I strained using dumbbells at the YMCA last Thursday.

So I knitted some more - OF COURSE. But I put away the October sock and started the cuff on a plain-vanilla pair in Lorna's Sock in the colorway "mineshaft":

I wasn't sure I'd like working with such dark colors - but once I got a few rows done, it's really a handsome colorway and I think they're going to be gorgeous socks. This I did so I can knit on the way to and from California coming up. And while there. It will also be my November sock for the Ravelry Self-Imposed Sock Club. I'll leave the October sock waiting for a few days, try to get my hand back to normal, or what passes for normal.

So, at least I have a little knitting to report.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Book review - another WRBC book!

This one was published in 1967, technically later than the Weekly Reader Book Club books I usually collect as mementos of my late 50s - early 60s childhood, but a quick scan at the bookstore suggested it was in a similar spirit as the earlier ones. Also, it's got black & white ink drawings throughout and I love me some black & white line drawings. It's not at all bad, and it's set in an Adirondacks lakeside resort so that hits one of my bells right away. The protagonist is a 12-year-old boy, Mark, whose father died two years before the book opens, and his mom has married the owner of said resort and they've all moved there so his stepfather can better manage the business. Mark's favorite college student summer worker is Ben, who treats Mark the best of all the summer help. But Ben seems to keep getting in trouble with the adults who work there, and when an extremely valuable part of an elderly regular's stamp collection goes missing, Ben gets blamed - and fired. Mark and two daughters of the resort's engineer, whose family lives on site, stick by their friend and go sleuthing to try to find the real thief.

It's an enjoyable story with nice descriptions of the natural beauty of the setting, the lodge and the characters. There's a hair-raising near-drowning incident with Mark and his friend Kristy paddling for their lives in a dark cold lake when their boat inexplicably sinks. As far as "fair play" mystery standards, I think it probably passes, but it was meant more as a kids' adventure than a Golden Age mystery so that doesn't bother me.

It did strike me as a bit odd that in 1967, when anti-war riots and hippie rebellion was spreading fast across the US and were in the news daily, none of that appears here, even in passing. But it's a fantasy of sorts, and there's no law that says they have to address real-world issues.

I'd recommend this one to anybody who likes a lively kids' adventure with mystery, derring-do, loyalty and friendship foremost.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Friday's Terry's Projects update

Well, really, the only "project" I did was to finish that book today. Also, I have bread in the oven right now. I think it's going to turn out quite tasty AND good-looking. I don't always get both, heh. I've been trying to develop skill in using a razor blade to cut shallow, oblique slits in the tops to allow the interior dough to expand (I learned this in the Julia Child classic cook-book). It worked pretty well this time, I think. You're also supposed to spray the top with water just before putting it into the oven, then one minute later, then one minute after that. That's supposed to keep the top of the crust from baking hard immediately, thus thwarting the expansion you're hoping for. It looks like it worked this time, as I said.

Upcoming projects I really need to address: Putting plastic over certain windows in my house. That *may* not get done until after I've returned from my visit to California. I'm also going to sew a new top over my hassock, which has worn completely through - gosh, it only lasted 28 years! May as well make matching chair-arm covers, too. I lucked out and found fabric that really matches the old stuff well.

Other projects - that I probably ought to do before going to CA - getting clippings of some of the plants out on the front stoop, to keep over winter. I didn't do a very artistic job of potting last year's over-winterers, but there's always next spring! I found a cool little set of thick glass vials in a metal rack at a garage sale for like $1. I'm going to put the slips in those. Might even make a bit of an experiment out of it - try plain water, plain water + dilute plant food, plain water + root encourager, plain water + dilute plant food + root encourager - see if any particular approach promises more robust cuttings, quicker root growth, and the like.

I'm thinking about going to a nearby garage sale tomorrow. I stopped there Thursday, happening across it during my errand-running, and they had a lot of autumn decorating goodies. I'm a sucker for autumn decorating goodies. Bright leaves, pine cones, bittersweet, acorns, pumpkins, etc. I picked up a nice set of four autumn-y cotton napkins for a dollar there. I've got Game Day coming up Nov. 1st - maybe I can get the front step prettied up by then...hmm...

Autumn in Paris...

View of my apartment's courtyard in October 2012...

Spectacular tree in Les Jardins des Plantes...

I've been thinking about Paris an awful lot recently. Maybe you can tell. 2017, maybe? Prices are going up and up, I'll have to start saving now. Hmm...Now there's a project worth doing!

A bit more about The Searcher

So I just finished it, and immediately started hunting around for any sequels Simon Toyne may have come up with, and was immensely disappointed to discover that it's just come out this year, and there aren't any sequels yet. But it is obviously set up as a series. So there's that to look forward to.

Toyne is going to be one of my Must Read writers.

The Solomon Creed series: watch for it, read it! It's compelling!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

About last night's post

Er, there wasn't one. It was to be about knitting, and there wasn't any of that, so, no blog post.

Kind of low karma around here this week.

Came back later to add:

But I did finish a book last night: A Study in Terror, by Ellery Queen. Now, I'm a fairly uncritical reader. I *will* quit a book if it hasn't caught me by page 50 or so, and if something truly egregious is foisted upon me, the reader at any point, I'll toss it. But otherwise, particularly with my favorites, I'll overlook any number of faults.

I love the Ellery Queen books. For the most part. If you want to learn more about Ellery Queen,  go here -  there are tons of reviews and discussions about Queen all over the Golden Age mystery blogs, but that link is a good place to dip your toe in first.

As I was saying, I am prejudiced in favor of Queen. (I suppose I should mention that the books are set up rather oddly; "Ellery Queen" the author of the books was actually a partnership of two cousins, one who made up the plots and the other who wrote the books. The books were about a mystery author and genius at detecting, named Ellery Queen. When I say "Queen," I'll be talking about the fictional detective. If I say "Ellery Queen," I'll be talking about the two guys who wrote the books.)  Granted, I have read a couple that were disappointing.

This isn't one of them, exactly. What it is, is Queen getting dragged into the eternal question of "who was Jack the Ripper?" via an old manuscript written by Dr. John Watson. Yes, in this book, Holmes and Watson were actual people, and the manuscript was actually written by Watson.

The situation about this book is that one of the two Ellery Queen authors (I can't remember which) had died, leaving his partner kind of flailing. I believe the publishers brought in a third writer to write Watson's manuscript parts, which make up I'd say at least 3/4ths of the novel. The other 1/4th is Queen dithering between reading the ms. and finishing a novel of his own under a looming deadline - and manipulating a persistent, effete "friend" to stay away and let him keep working.

It's enjoyable enough - I finished it, anyway. The parts with Queen are pure Queen, so I liked those. The Watson manuscript, to my eyes, read enough like Conan Doyle's writing to "pass."

But you know when your favorite TV series star goes off on holiday and they have to fill in the episode without her? Oftentimes they'll use clips from past shows to pad out the episode? That's kind of how I felt about this book. I wanted more Queen!

So I'll put this book in the Donate bag. The cover is one of those cheesy 1970s things, too, the publisher couldn't be bothered to have a real artist do it so they used some stock photo of a model looking fake-terrified. In modern eye makeup and nail polish. Nothing to do with The Ripper.

Monday, October 19, 2015

It's Monday, so: book review. Except, not.

I was hoping to get finished with my current read, The Searcher, by Simon Toyne. Unfortunately, I'm only about 3/4 of the way through. Life stuff keeps getting in the way. But this is a really gripping book! "Suspense" is right! I'm going to be reading like a house afire the minute I can set aside an hour or so to gallop to the end.

The set up is great: You're in the head of a guy who finds himself running barefoot, in a suit, down an empty road in the middle of a desert. He doesn't know who he is or why he is here, but he knows he'd better not look back because something horrible is behind him. You soon find out what's behind him, but that only complicates things. What's ahead of him is, if anything, even worse. Egads, I HAVE TO FINISH THIS BOOK!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

My first Instructable!

For several years, I've visited the Instructables web site often to get ideas for projects, to be entertained, just to see what kind of weird and wacky - or brilliant and inspiring - things people are doing out there in the wide world. Now I just posted my own first Instructable!

It's about preparing used books to give away for All Hallow's Read on Hallowe'en. It's not perfect - and it's not the start of a trend. I don't have any more things to put up there. It's just a fun thing to do. They have loads of 'structables for all kinds of Hallowe'en things - costumes, props, decor, food - but I hadn't seen any about All Hallow's Read yet. So now there is one.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Miscellaneous night is miscellaneous

Boy, the Livestrong class this morning really kicked my ass. Then I went and did a whole bunch of driving all over town doing errands. Three and a half hours later I stumbled back into the house, had a sandwich, and proceeded to crash and burn for an hour. I could have slept on but then I would have been wide awake at 2:30 a.m. That's not good.

I think I overdid it on all fronts today. Kind of feeling like crud. Tomorrow's going to be a Pajama Day, I think! Whee! PJs, hot chocolate, and lots and lots of reading!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Writing update!

Nothing much to report. I just "attended" a NaNoWriMo webinar. Didn't hear or see anything much new to me. I did glean a new "buddy" there.

Skipped last night's knitting update, too because I didn't do any. The YMCA workout in the morning just flattened me for the rest of the day. I choose to believe that if I keep at it, the stamina will develop and exercise won't wipe me out like that forever.

To make up for the dearth of activity, here's a picture of Adams, thinking he's found the perfect hiding spot:

Times like those always make me wish I could read their minds. 

Friday, October 09, 2015

It's a "Terry's Projects" day!

My project today has been to get my car, finally! I still have to get the credit union's check over to the dealer (tomorrow) but inasmuch as the dealer has my personal check for the whole amount (to be returned to me when I give them the previously mentioned c.u. check), and I have the car - it's MINE. And I think I'm going to love it! It's a 2008 Saturn VUE:

And then I went and got restocked on a TON of groceries, and stopped at a couple of garage sales because I can now! My finds: some lovely crystal wine glasses, and lovely crystal dessert flutes, for a dime apiece! A couple of inexpensive picture frames, ditto. Paperbacks of Great Tales and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe, and of James M. Cain's Double Indemnity, and the DVD of "Best In Show" - a hilarious movie I'm looking forward to seeing again.

And now I'm completely worn out. Yay, it's Friday night!

Thursday, October 08, 2015

It's miscellaneous night! It's miscellaneous night!

LOL like this whole week's worth of blog posts hasn't been miscellaneous.

Well, so. Not much to report. More pain & torture at the Y this morning, upper body death machines this time. I  note that I am sleeping *better* these days. Not *longer*, but better. And feeling physically better when I'm up and walking around. These are two things that happen almost instantly once I start exercising. Like, within 24 hours.

I ascribe many wonderful things to regular, effort-full exercise:

better sleep
better feeling in my body in general
better posture
more energy
more stamina
more flexibility

and now we get to the stuff that can actually be measured:

better cardiovascular health numbers
better cholesterol and blood glucose levels

I mean, right there is a list that makes exercise seem the only sane thing a person can do. Right now, my indolent Self is still exerting a strong pull, not wanting me to do it, and so far I have to confess, aside from the first weekend after starting the LiveStrong program, I haven't been exercising between classes. I do believe, though, that if I keep at it and practice Just Do It (I hope that's not trademarked but if it is, ™to you, Nike), eventually it will - as it did in 1994 when I exercised daily for five solid months - become something I actually look forward to.  It's an upward spiral, really. The fitter I feel, the more I feel like exercising. Duh.

And there are more benefits:

feeling more competent
feeling more optimistic
feeling more adventurous
feeling more worthy

That last one may seem a bit ... odd? But it's true, though I'm not going to enlarge upon it in public.

Anyway, I ordered some gym socks tonight! I had shoes, and two pairs each of tee shirts and gym shorts, in my cart, but that was way over my budget so I pared it back to what I truly need.

Does anyone know what socks that have no tight elastic or tighter-knit band around the top are called? I LOATHE those bands, they cut off my circulation and are very uncomfortable. But do you think I can find them online? I finally found some of what I was looking for, but at the price I paid I suspect they're pretty cheap. Didn't we used to be able to get socks without that shit around the top? What do you call them? I've tried "gym," "ribbed," "athletic,", "crew" - that's all I can think of. Any suggestions?

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Writing, hmm, yeah, um, writing...

Well, deciding to write something on a different theme each evening has gotten me writing in this blog, all right, but I don't seem to be conducting my life in such an organized fashion. Is anyone surprised at that? Anyone? *tap tap tap* Anyone there? No? OK, good, so it matters not a whit.

What I have done today is I did manage to tink back my second yellow sock to where I *should* have started decreasing stitches for the toe. What a pain THAT is! I definitely need to remember about "lifelines" from now on! But I'm sick of looking at stitches now, so it's going to have to wait to get completed until tomorrow night. Or even Friday.

When I was assembling the stuff I needed to do all that tinking, I turned my back to fill up my water glass before beginning. This is what I found when I came back to the dining room:

O'Keefe, who was generously willing to lend her expertise to the proceedings. I told her, it was my mistake, it's my responsibility to fix it, thank you very much.

See that tablecloth? With the figures on it? That's an adorable 1950s or 60s - maybe even 40s - print tablecloth I got in the TipTop Thrift Shop in Benson for about 50 cents. I love that old table linen stuff. This one has all kinds of transportation on it: hot air balloons, steam engines, biplanes Model Ts, big steam-powered cruise liners, bicycles,  ... I love it.

Friday, perhaps, I will have that new car. The dealer is replacing the cam shaft sensor. We all hope in harmony that *that* was what was causing the Check Engine light to stay on. I am certainly getting sick of Check Engine lights. But the experience with this dealer is 180° different than with that other one. There, the overlying atmosphere was furtive, evasive, and incompetent. With the dealer I'm waiting on this time, the whole feeling of the place itself is different. And the price they're asking is right in line with what Blue Book says. So I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Tomorrow is more torture at the YMCA. Ye gods, this had BETTER be good for me...

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

It's Tuesday,

so I'm supposed to be reporting on my knitting. Well, the only knitting I'm doing tonight is knitting the muscle cells that got ripped apart on the Lower Body Strength machines at the YMCA today. *groan* I'm sore already, so it must be good for me, right?

So you don't go away empty-hearted, here's a picture of my sweet Adams boy taking a nap:

Monday, October 05, 2015

Kinda-sorta book review-ish, maybe? And other stuff.

Went car-hunting again today; may have found a good one. Won't know for a day or two - there are some issues the dealer has to satisfy me on before I'm signing anything. But this ate up most of the day. A nice afternoon nap ate up some more; now I'm messing around with NaNoWriMo stuff, putting that nifty little badge on the column to the right - I love the art work this year! AND it's by an Omaha artist! Very nice.

I'm starting to feel autumn-y these days, what with the colder weather and the changing of the light. Thought I'd change the blog look too.

I've been doing a lot of nostalgia, comfort-reading. I have a collection of old Weekly Reader Book Club books, and others I read as a kid. I really enjoy those and it's partly because the world has changed so much since the late 50s -- early 60s. I'm on Danny Dunn and the Voice from Space right now. Hilarious! I also have Danny Dunn and the Homework Machine, and Danny Dunn and the Anti-Gravity Paint. Just the titles make me laugh. I love the pen & ink illustrations, too. If my grand-daughter ever wants to get a taste of what kids' lives were like before the internet, these would be great fun, I think. Although not all of us had quite as exciting adventures as Danny and his friends Joe and Irene (who was just as smart as Danny and a lot more science-oriented than Joe!).

Huh. I didn't realize there are TEN of these...

Saturday, October 03, 2015

Missed it again!

Once again, I just blew through Friday without even thinking about writing a post. Well - I haven't been doing any writing. There's this week's update.

What I *have* been doing is running the vacuum cleaner! Yes! I was taken off my No Lifting restriction Oct. 1 so I can vacuum, mow grass, and pull weeds now! And take actual big garbage bags out to the bins on my own! Using the little grocery flimsies and making umpteen trips out to the bins was really a pain in the neck. But I'm free! The only thing I may need help with is *starting* the mower - that string-jerk is might twisty on the trunk and wrenching to the muscles, and probably not wise to do without a few more weeks of P.E. (That's what we Boomers called gym class: Physical Education. A former professor (not gym) used to call it "Physical Culture" in a plummy faux-British accent; that was my favorite.

Anyway, that's it. Too busy today to write more.

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Truly miscellaneous

I attended the fourth meeting of our LiveStrong group at the YMCA this morning. First we did 5 minutes on both our favorite and our most-hated cardio machines. My favorite is the sit-down bike. No problemo there. My least-favorite cardio machine is the huge, frightening, body-wrenching "elliptical." I got through the 5 minutes and I am determined to vanquish that monster, but it is NOT fun. After that we went down to the weight room to do a few reps on three lower-body weight machines whose names I cannot remember. I am surprised by the hostility these various machines evoke in my heart. I mean - I like doing the exercises and even though I'm dead tired this evening, and will be tired and sore again tomorrow, I like what the exercise does for my bod but I loathe the machines. Nothing is made for people with short arms or legs, or weak hands. Just getting the settings changed is terrifically difficult with my hands. I've got a trigger finger and the end joints on my index fingers are developing arthritis so I get tiny stabbing needle pains in either of them at random, and I can tell my hands are slowly getting weaker as I get older (note to self: ask the coaches if there are hand exercises!).  And getting into and out of those machines is intimidating. They are HEAVY and immovable and HARD and the human body is no match for them. And I'm clumsy.  -- I know, gripe, gripe, gripe. Well - but aside from my grudge match with the machines, this class is going to be REALLY good for me, I can tell already.

The yellow sock. Harrumph. I was so determined to get 15 rows in last night, I thought then I could finish them today. Well - I finally stopped and tried it on, along with its finished mate - and my gauge is different for this second sock, and I just plowed right on past the row where I should have started decreasing for the toe. If I had checked earlier, I could have been done last night. Once I knew it, I thought, well, I'll decrease NOW and it'll be all right. But I knew deep down, it wouldn't be. It takes too long to decrease. The second sock will be far longer than its mate, and I will NOT be able to stand wearing them like that. So, I have to tink it back and do it right. But going stitch by stitch is incredibly tedious over like, ten rows. But taking it off the needles and ripping it back to the right row is completely hair-raising! Like SCREAM EEK scary, makes you think your tens of thousands of stitches are just going to unravel like wildfire scary. So I thought of how I could control the chaos there. And like most of my ideas, it's probably ludicrous, burdensome and clumsy. But I'm going to give it a go, and I'm going to take pictures and notes as I do, and I might just try my very first Instructable! (That link takes you to their Knitting section.) And I AM going to knit a few more rows on the herringbone stitch socks, my October socks, tonight, just to start the month off right.

Tomorrow and Saturday I prep the house for Game Day. My friends are coming over Sunday and we're going to play Betrayal at House on the Hill. (That link takes you to the TableTop show's video of Wil Wheaton and his friends playing it on YouTube. Much fun!) This will be the first time I've hosted our game day since my surgery - and as of today I'm out from under the surgeon's No Lifting restriction, so for once, I will really LOVE being able to vacuum the floors! (I've got a heavy old 1970s-era upright vacuum cleaner that works great but weighs about 40 pounds. Not a joke getting that puppy around on the flat floor, let alone lugging it up and down stairs! Don't worry, I'll be very, very careful anyway.) I also have a little treat for my friends that is quite in keeping with our Hallowe'en theme...nyah-ah-ah...there might be a picture after the event.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Not the fun kind of writing

So, it's Wednesday, so it's supposed to be a post about writing. Well, all the writing I've been doing this evening - and there was a bunch of it - was manually entering all of my cell phone Contacts into my new phone. There was no way to do it electronically because of the kind of phone I had, and the kind of phone the new one is.

It took me maybe ... I don't know ... 45 minutes? Very tedious, but it also allowed me to winnow out the ones I don't need to keep any more.

I'm saving something like 58% on my monthly phone bill with this changeover; I just hope the new outfit does right by me. There are PDF manuals and videos on all the new phone's features. It's a flip phone, and my plan includes no text or data - I can do those things but it'll be very costly. I don't ever do them so I am pleased I found a company that doesn't automatically bundle them into all their plans. I have a phone, and it has an "answering machine" - that's all I need. I've got a laptop for "texting" (it's called email), and it also serves as my internet connection. And hey, I can read a freaking MAP, folks! I prefer them to some bland monotone voice telling me to drive right into the river because there's a glitch in her getalong.

And, well, this blog post is writing, too. It'll have to serve. I'm busy trying to finish up the second yellow sock, so I can start with the Self-Imposed Sock Club tomorrow night, working on the October pair!

Buttercream - doing the toe now!
October's sock project!
That's it for tonight!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Yarny yammering

I haven't knit anything yet tonight, so instead of talking about that, I'll confess I joined Ravelry's Self-Imposed Sock Club Group and picked 12 balls of sock yarn from my stash to knit one per month starting Oct. 1 - Yikes! That's like, Thursday! I'd better get busy and finish the yellow socks! (That link won't work unless you've joined Ravelry, I think. It's free and it's like 4 million knitters and crocheters and spinners strong - from all over the world. If you haven't joined, give it a try!)

So here are the ones I picked:

From the top left, going by rows:

Koigu Painter's Palette (I don't know the colorway)
CoBaSi Forest
*Something German (sorry) Opal Sport (I don't know the colorway)
Socks That Rock River Rock

KnitPicks Chroma Carnival
CoBaSi Gun Metal Gray
CoBaSi Turkish Coffee
CoBaSi Rafti

KnitPicks Stroll Tweed Sequoia Heather
Socks That Rock Metaphysical Angst
KnitPicks Palette Calypso Heather
KnitPicks Sock - Bare

*From the Yarn Harlot's blog I saw that multicolored yarn looks really cool in the Edwardian Boating Socks by Emma Grundy Haigh pattern, so I started that, but quickly realized it's above my skill level right now. So once I get enough experience with lace and charts, I'll tackle those. If it works out, I'm thinking I'll do the same pattern using the two amazingly cool Socks That Rock yarns. The picture doesn't do those justice.

Also, I'm not sure I have enough of the CoBaSi Turkish Coffee and Rafti for a pair each; if not, I'll combine what I've got of those with other CoBaSi colors in my stash to make stripes, or try stranded knitting (which was also something I did pretty well in my short-lived knitting career 40+ years ago - the stranded part went fine. The problem was I really didn't know the difference between "sport" and "worsted." With predictable results, looking back.) Or maybe a wacky argyle. I really want to make argyle socks!

On a bit different tack, I've decided my Fall/Winter bathroom theme is going to be Knitting! (I change my bathroom decor three times a year: the first week of October to the Fall/Winter theme which is usually just colors + books, or + books and science-y stuff; on the first day of Spring to spring colors; and on Bastille Day to Paris. I always have a hard time letting go of Paris.) But I've got enough books, and certainly enough balls of yarn and glass vases to fill with balls of yarn, and brightly colored old metal knitting needles, to muster some kind of fun theme.

Yeah, I'm weird. Not news.

ETA: Yay! I got ten more rows done on the yellow sock. Ten more tomorrow night, then Thursday I'll finish it. And I can resume working on the next pair - my herringbone lace Koigu socks!

Monday, September 28, 2015

This week's book review

I've read a bunch of books this month, so rather than trying to pick a favorite, I'm going with the last adult book I read*, Lord of the Wings, by Donna Andrews.

It's one of a long series of madcap village mysteries featuring Meg Langslow, whose family well needs a series to keep track of all their adventures. I enjoyed it very much. It takes place during a long (long!) Hallowe'en weekend which is celebrated in her beloved town of Caerphilly, VA by competing views of the holiday: the wealthier inhabitants, and many upscale or prudish business owners would prefer it to be marked by "tasteful" autumn decorations and good behavior by all. They're a minority.

Everyone else goes full-scale nutso for Hallowe'en and really, this is one of those fictional "villages" that surprisingly support a lot of stuff that attracts tourists from all over the region: a haunted mansion, a giant farmer's market, a fair complete with games of skill, crazy rides, scary clowns, and a year-round, professional-level ZOO, for crying out loud. Families host kids's Hallowe'en parties. The village also boasts a retired world-class rock'n'roll heavy metal drummer who's looking to benefit the community, and a local-history museum that includes (unbeknownst to anyone) one item worth a quarter of a million dollars, and other things that may or may not have triggered a murder spree. Or, that may be due to the nefarious unknown person behind a scavenger hunt that seems bent on ruining the fun in the most grotesque ways.

Ms. Andrews does a very good job of keeping her heroine's life realistic: she's got a college prof husband and three (I think; maybe two) lively sons, and the sons' grandparents who lend color and excitement all of their very own. Her brother is the CEO of an extremely successful computer games company that figures largely in the sleuthing. All of these people each have their own interests and schedules and Meg is shown to have to do the kind of time-juggling that any busy working mom has to do. (Though her role here is as a volunteer working with the group who coordinate all the festivities.)

If the police procedures and the criminals' goings-on aren't, maybe, the most realistic, this is definitely a good romp for when you're in the mood for a "zany" mystery. I'm going to go back to the beginning of the series and read them all. I gave it a 4 in my reading log, meaning it's very good even though I may not read it again.

*(I'm re-reading a couple of my favorites from grade school, from The Weekly Reader Book Club now)

Saturday, September 26, 2015

"Terry's projects" blog, one day late

I'm not sure how I slipped the cog, here, and skipped last night's blog post.

So this is supposed to be about my "projects," eh? Oh, right, it was I who decided that. I certainly have plenty in all stages of completion, including Not Even Started. They vary from yard projects, which had to be let go this summer due to the surgery, et al, to home decorating, sewing, knitting, art work, writing, woodworking, bookbinding, house plants, selling things I don't need any more, organizing things...ye gods.

They also, perhaps, include things like just me trying to get my ass out of the chair more often, or my own head out of the sand, to reach out more to friends and family and be more human in general. In those areas, what I consider "progress" would probably be appallingly little in most peoples' views.

I think dedicating a blog post to a different theme for each week-night is a good idea; it has gotten me working on these things, helped pry me out of the inertia mud and make some progress.

So this week's "Terry's projects" post is just this, a brief overview and a reminder to myself to get with it. Already.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Miscellaneous Night

I’m obviously not getting these posted by 7 pm each night, so I can forget that rule. I’m just happy to get them posted at all.

So I said Thursdays would be “miscellaneous” blog subjects. The main event today was my going to the YMCA to do the individualized baseline assessment for their free, 12-week Live Strong program for cancer survivors. I had no idea when I found this on their web site that Live Strong was originated by Lance Armstrong. The Wikipedia article about the organization states, “Armstrong resigned as chairman of the foundation in October 2012 and from the foundation's board of directors in November 2012.” The scandal didn’t, apparently, taint the organization’s name, and the name changed to Live Strong shortly thereafter. Their fundraising to assist cancer survivors and their families continues, apparently, to be thriving. I am very grateful for that. However it works, this whole thing is free and includes free use of any equipment or facilities in any YMCA in Omaha. That’s pretty danged wonderful, if you ask me.

My classmates vary in where they are in their lives post-diagnosis. There are a couple who are in Stage IV; others like me who have become, by surgery, chemo, radiation, hormones in any combination, free of cancer; and some who are somewhere in-between. Our instructors have had cancer themselves. I admire this bunch so much, and I am really looking forward to getting to know them better in the next few months. They’re tough, and funny, and determined. I can only improve as a human being by emulating them.

In other miscellaneous topics, this is week 14 of the 18-week-long subscription to Wenninghoff Farms’ CSA. Things I have learned: they send us too much food for me to keep up with. So far, only the beets have actually gone bad, but I’ve had to give some cukes and ears of corn away because I just couldn’t handle them (I’ve eaten way more corn on the cob this summer than I have in the past ten years, and I am not fond of cukes in any case). So next year, I’ll pass on the CSA, but this shows me I can get tons of great fresh vegetables there for a rather small amount of money! It works out to $18 a week, which is kind of ridiculously cheap. I got more corn today, and I gave the two cukes to the lady at the YMCA front desk, but there’s a nice big eggplant (love eggplant!), and a couple of big bell peppers. I still haven’t dealt with last week’s entirely, so more will be going into the freezer. At some point, I need to do a thorough freezer inventory, because I’m pretty sure I shouldn’t need to buy any frozen vegetables now until next spring at the earliest!

I found out from the Live Strong coordinator that my surgeon in her Physician’s Release form stated that the restriction against my lifting any more than 10 pounds will be lifted October 1, NOT the 13th as I had assumed (she said “90 days” to me, and I just assumed she meant it literally, 90 days after my July 13 surgery). This is EXCELLENT news as it has really been bugging me to feel 100% healed but unable to vacuum the floors (especially!) or do yard work. One more week! Yay!

And, for one more miscellaneous item, I found this somewhere online and thought it pretty funny. Maybe you will, too:

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Mundane but necessary

So today I got the hem sewed around the edge of the hassock-top I need to put on the hassock. I’ll wait until I have the arm-covers done to do the installation. I lucked out at Hancock Fabrics and found a nice remnant on their upholstery table, it matches my chair and hassock very nicely.

I have found that "Midsomer Murders," on Netflix, is perfect for sewing to. I set it up where I can glance up if I want to and see what’s going on, on-screen, but I’ve seen these so many times I really don’t need to. I’ve found it’s got pleasant-voiced regular characters; it’s never exceedingly loud or violent - though the murders are gruesome often, not in-your-face guts and torture grue. The music’s nice. I think of it kind of as the British “Murder, She Wrote” but mainly in terms of its longevity, and its benefit to a long list of actors playing one-time parts. Lots of Harry Potter and Doctor Who folks.
So, I did some sewing today. May or may not work on the sock tonight.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The buttercream socks

So I finally figured out that if I tried to knit for a long time, like over an hour, to really burn through those rows because I’m impatient for this new pair of socks - that my hands and arms would hurt all that night, and I wouldn’t be able to muster any interest in knitting for several days, which kind of defeats the purpose of burning through those rows, doesn’t it. So now I try to do ten rows. That’s all. My hands don’t hurt, but it’s a visible amount of progress, and it’s just a sock, so a few nights like that and it’ll be done. It’s not like I’m yarn-bombing the Statue of Liberty.

So I’ve got 40 rows post-post-heel-turn decreases done on my second Buttercream sock, and it took 80 rows to reach the toe on the mate to this one, so I’m halfway down the foot on the second one. After that it’s just the decreases for the toe, so that’s what - about 5 more nights to the end.

Here’s what it looks like right now:

This is the Cotton/Bamboo/Silk blend. I bought several balls of this yarn, thinking they'll be a little cooler to wear in the warm months. I like it OK, but it does have more of a tendency to split while you're knitting it. Nothing insurmountable. However, with wool, it only takes 60 rows for the foot, because the CoBaSi is a bit less elastic, too.
Then I’ll focus on the next pair of socks (I have a LOT of sock yarn), which I’m still just going with my own vanilla sock math on but I’m incorporating a twelve-row-repeat lace pattern. It’s Koigu 100% merino wool, but I can’t figure out the colorway. It says “Painter’s Palette Premium” at one spot on the label, then “P138 201” is hand-written. So, whatever. I love the colors. I’ve never done lace before so I was pleased to find out that this isn’t so hard. My progress so far:

I've only got the cuff and half of the first 12 rows done, just to see if I could do the lace. I think the lace pattern will be much more visible when I'm actually wearing the finished sock. It's kind of bunched up on itself now.

I’ve joined the Ravelry Self-Imposed Sock Group, and keep intending to get my own year’s worth of kits lined up. I’ve always wanted to do that anyway: put a ball of yarn and the sock pattern I’ll use it with, in a ziplock bag (in my fantasies it’s in a dozen adorable sewn project bags but that ain’t happened yet, either) - one for each month of a year. Technically, I can get a pair knit in a month, so I want to push myself to do it. (It would exceed my prudent aim of ten rows per night by a little bit, but I figure, some nights will be a little over, some a little under. I’ll adjust.) There are ladies on this forum who have posted pictures of JUST THEIR SOCK COLLECTIONS and they’ve got like thirty or forty pairs of hand-knit socks! I can only dream of getting there! My ultimate aim is to never wear store-bought socks again. I think if I knit all the sock yarn I’ve got, I’ll be fast enough with practice that I’ll be able to even knit like, white sports socks. But I need to do all these gorgeous yarns first.

Monday, September 21, 2015

The Ghost Riders of Ordebec: A Commissaire Adamsberg Mystery is by Fred Vargas.  As the amazon.com blurb says, "As the chief of police in Paris’s seventh arrondissement, Commissaire Adamsberg has no jurisdiction in Ordebec. Yet, he cannot ignore a widow’s plea."

With that apparently simple set-up, we are then carried along a puzzling and entertaining, and twisting path to the solution of several horrible murders whose perpetrators had hoped would be taken as supernatural results of the judgement of a thousand-year-old troop of ghosts who periodically have swept through the tiny village of Ordebec foretelling the deaths of local evil-doers.

Being a Francophile myself, I enjoyed the heck out of this book. It is entwined with a seemingly smaller one about a Paris pigeon, tortured by an unknown sadistic kid, that Adamsberg rescues and takes as much care of as he does his detecting procedures - which are sometimes hilariously NOT according to accepted practices. 

The descriptions of the region surrounding Ordebec are magical. The people seem not to have changed much since the year 1000 A.D. I doubt if anyone who *did* follow prescribed procedure could ever have penetrated the thicket of fears, lies, hatreds, ancient rivalries, superstitions, and hurts, that Ordebec presents Commissaire Adamsberg. 

This one kept me up until the wee hours to finish it. I gave it a 5 in my "Books Read" notebook - an excellent read that I will no doubt re-read sometime in the future. In the meantime I intend to find all the other Adamsberg mysteries available in English. And if some haven't yet been translated, I might just hunt them down in their original French.

Here's Publisher's Weekly comment: “Exquisite… only Christopher Fowler's Peculiar Crimes Unit can compare with the Paris policeman's eccentric colleagues in the Serious Crime Squad, who include a narcoleptic, a walking encyclopedia, and a naturalist…Vargas's combination of humor and fair-play plotting, reminiscent of John Dickson Carr, has never been better.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Poking the anthill

So, I've decided I'm going to try to do daily posts, each with a theme. So, Mondays would be book reviews, Tuesdays knitting updates, Wednesdays writing updates, Thursdays will be miscellaneous posts, and Fridays the "Terry's Projects" report. I'll leave weekends open to recharge the batteries. I'll post them at 7 pm CST (USA). I need more scheduling in my life. Otherwise I'll just keep floundering.

Have I mentioned I've signed on for NaNoWriMo again this year? They don't have the 2015 blog page "stickers" yet so I can't put that up; likewise the word counters. But I've already got TWO posters and some ideas...Why is this event SO addictive? It's like a siren call. However, I've decided I'm done with trying to get published (I've had some 33+ short stories published back in the 00's when I was still writing a lot), I'm just going to write for my own enjoyment. That takes all the pressure off.

So - tomorrow I start the YMCA's LiveStrong program - a free, 12-week program of physical recuperation for cancer survivors. I'm hoping it'll jumpstart my getting back into shape - the short-term goal is to not be driven into the ground trying to keep up with my granddaughter when I'm visiting them in November; the medium-term goal is to be in good enough shape by next Spring that I can hit the ground running with the yard work; the long-term goal is to establish physical exercise habits into my life permanently.

I've been living la vida earthworm the past several months, and I need to get back ahold of life!

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Slept the best in a month last night

I am again carless. After the past four weeks' ordeal, that is a good thing. It means I can start afresh this week looking for a car that will actually run. Cannot describe the relief. But I'm taking today off.

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Still waiting ...

Not a peep from the car dealer yet. He told me on the phone Friday that he'd be calling me yesterday. I find it strange that they think nothing of leaving a 2013 car in my possession all this time, for free.  Ah well.

Monday, September 07, 2015

My August reading list

Did pretty well in August. I don't think I've done this before, listed what I've read. You'll see I do re-read quite often, and went on something of a Christie bender there for awhile.

I read 11 books in August:

Darwin: A Graphic Biography - Byrne and Gurr
Knitting Rules! - Stephanie Pearl-McFee
The Seven Dials Mystery - Agatha Christie
Three Doors to Death - Rex Stout
Sleeping Murder - Agatha Christie
Murder at Hazelmoor - Agatha Christie
Dead Man's Mirror -Agatha Christie
The "Jaws" Log - Carl Gottlieb
Vertigo 42 - Martha Grimes
The Dinosaur Feather - S.J. Gazan
The Nature of the Beast - Louise Penny

The Penny book is by far my favorite of the month.

Back to Square One

To make the long story short: I'm getting my money back on that lemon of a car. Tomorrow. The car has already been TOWED back to the dealer, because their mechanic couldn't keep it running long enough to back it out of my driveway. To their credit, they've given me a loaner until tomorrow's meeting.

Which is great, but still leaves me back at the beginning of the whole delightful process of car-finding. Well, I've learned a few things from this ordeal. Number One: There ain't no such thing as the perfect car just happening to come into the dealer the day you're there looking. Nope.

Ah well, in better news, I'm working away at the second yellow sock; when that's done I shall start designing the installation system for the downstairs window "treatments." This is a totally self-made mess. There probably won't be pictures.

But in even better news, this also means I'm working on that long list of unfinished projects that have been burdening my soul for so very, very long. I'm great at Startitis, not so good at Finishitis.

And today's Labor Day. This unforgettable summer has just whizzed past. I'm about to begin a twelve-week program at the YMCA for cancer survivors. I have lost what little fitness I had, in this required summer of inactivity, so I hope to gradually build back up beyond my pre-cancer level of slugness, and when Spring comes, be able to do all that I'd hoped to do this summer in my yard.