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.