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 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 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.