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.