Sunday, December 29, 2013

Getting Back on Track.

I finished Alexia's scarf and brought it downstairs, intending to go back up and work some more on my warp.  I put the scarf on the back of a chair and told Ian I was going to give it to Alexia on Christmas Eve.  He said, you mean tonight?  I said no - Christmas Eve.  That's tonight he said.  Good grief!  What I needed to do was get ready for our open house.  So this is Christmas Eve and Alexia loves her new scarf.

And now with a little attitude

She's discovered reading and is reading way ahead of her grade so I selected eight books that I was confident she would enjoy like Julie of the Wolves, Island of the Blue Dolphin - like that.  This book is special because the author is someone we know, and in fact, is the person who introduced us to the parents who adopted my grandson twenty some years ago.  Lexi started the book right away and was on chapter seven when they left.
Alexia got an iPad Mini for Christmas and has been texting me and her mommy - a lot.  This is the message Christina got on her phone at work the day after Christmas.  Talk about book endorsement!
I finished the sweater that I tore out and reknit from Knit Picks Wool/Alpaca yarn.
I had a lot of yarn - the first pattern was huge and sloppy - so I just kept knitting and I like this length. I've wondered if I need to continue physical therapy after this week but seeing these photos tells me - yes I do!

I've been feeling sad these past couple of days because ordinarily we would already in SoCal to ring in the new year with family and friends down there.  So when son Matt and Julia, at the back of the table, spontaneously drove down from Bend yesterday I was delighted.  We arranged to have lunch today along with Lexi and her parents.  They drive back up to Oregon in the morning and I check in at the Ambulatory Surgery Center.
This is the warp I was working on.  I did manage to get it sleyed and threaded but that's it for weaving in 2013.  I've heaped it up on top to keep the warp chains away from Maddy.  She doesn't know how to jump up here yet, but I know that's not going to last for much longer.  It's going to be waiting for me as a first project in 2014.  

I look forward to next week.  My broken nose will be repaired, I'm now driving so able to take myself to physical therapy and best of all, I'm having lunch with girlfriends next week.  Never take anything for granted!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Books, Books, Books

I've done so much reading that I'll only list those that I think you might like, if you get a minute to sit down after Christmas:

Spider Woman's Daughter by Anne Hillerman - Tony Hillerman's daughter has picked up where her father left off in the Leaphorn/Chee series.  She is a capable wordsmith and has also introduced Navajo weaving and local art to the dialogue.  I say I don't read mysteries but this series is an exception.

Benediction by Kent Haruf - This is considered the end of a trilogy.  I don't know about that, but his writing is absolutely lyrical, as always.  It's a small book if you're looking for something satisfying and quick to read.

The Rosie Project by Graeme Samsion - I loved this and gobbled it up quickly.  At first I thought he was trading on the TV series The Big Bang Series, until I realized that it was originally a play in Australia and he wrote it first.

Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter - This was a nice piece of escape fiction.  I am one of the 1200 people who gave it a rating of 4 stars.

The All-Girl Filling Station's Last Reunion by Fannie Flagg - I picked this up at Costco in hard cover and then used it for my "white elephant" exchange at our book club Christmas party.  I had a little trouble getting into it at first as I thought her lead character was a stereotypical Southern belle, my bad. Yes, it's chick lit but with the underlying theme of woman pilots in WWII.  Fabulous!

Goldfinch by Donna Tartt - This is not a quick read at 755 pages.  I bought it on my Kindle for $7.50 thinking that's a pretty good deal for that much book.  It's a lot of book, any way you look at it.  One reviewer said that he felt like it was five novellas in one cover.  My criticism would be that she should have written it as a trilogy. Her writing is brilliant and I would have been so much happier if she had written it as three books so I could look forward to the next one.  I find myself still thinking of it, wishing there were more.  Oh well, I'll just back and read her two earlier books.

Coming Clean by Kimberly Rae Miller - I read this on my Kindle from the Amazon Prime lending library.  It's a fascinating and horrifying insight into the lives of hoarders.  She's living proof that what doesn't kill us makes us stronger.

The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson - I read this on my Kindle checked out from our public library.  He's always worth the read and somehow I had missed reading this life and times of Des Moines, Iowa in the 1950s, also the life and times of the US of A - sobering and humorous.  It makes me wonder how we've survived ourselves so far.  In all of my books I also read Command and Control by Eric Schlosser.  I didn't recommend it because it gave me nightmares, about how close we came on many occasions to blow ourselves up.

Speaking of blowing up, Ian and I heard an explosion just before 5:00 on Monday.  It even woke Madeline up.  We looked at each, trying to think of a source.  Finally Ian thought it might be from the Army weapons depot at Herlong, to the north of us.  About 5:15 I let the dogs out to pee and saw a fire truck making it's way up Red Rock Road, so stepped out to take a peek.  Brrrrr - so cold but the shooting flames held my attention until I turned into a Popsicle.  Ian came out too but we could only see the flames shooting above the hill to the north of us.  I called Sandy, a CERT (certified emergency response team) team lead who lives closer the fire.  She hadn't heard the explosion but once she stepped outside, she saw it and heard the fire engines.
This is what greeted fire trucks when they arrived.  The house was completely engulfed in flames. The picture was released by the fire chief and was promptly posted to the local news.  We immediately started getting text messages from worried family and friends so I posted something on Facebook, explaining the situation, that we were safe.

Sandy took this picture the next day on her way to town and sent it to CERT members.  There is absolutely nothing left.  The owner was home, was treated for smoke inhalation and is lucky to be alive.  We are all in shock.  There is some thought that the recent installation of a new furnace might be to blame?  Sandy and I have already requested a VFD training on how to live safely with propane.  The good news is there's a huge rally from the community to help the owner get back on his feet.  His horses and dogs were unharmed and he's moving on.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Knitting Lace

I spun half of my roving for what I thought would be lace weight and then plied it with a 60/2 silk.  It's much to fine to be much use and I'm disappointed with my first spinning effort in six months.  The second half I'm make fluffy!  The colors are pretty so maybe I'll be able to weave with it.  It's just that I'm able to knit much more than I'm able to weave at this point.
This is the second cowl from my handspun yarn and I made it deeper by an extra pattern.  I really like the extra width as it's warm and that's the point.  I have two and wear them constantly to keep my scrawny neck warm.
And speaking of comfort, I stumbled onto these completely by accident.  They're called GoWalks and are made by Skechers.  The insole is memory foam and the outer part is very much like a tai chi shoe.  They're advertised for walking but I wear them in the house from the time I get up to the time I go to bed.
I love my shoes for their comfort and warmth.  It's been probably three weeks since we've had temperatures above freezing and many nights have been below zero.  It's been hard on Ian, trying to keep up with everything outside and then take care of the things I'm still not ready for, like driving, laundry, cleaning and cooking though I'm doing more all the time.

This is the "pogonip" we had on Friday, which is freezing fog.  It made for a miserable drive into physical therapy with visibility less than a quarter mile.

Ian drove in on Tuesday to the Tuesday Book Club.  I've cancelled just about everything but I couldn't bear to miss this.  We re-read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society for our December book which was even better the second time.  Of course we outdid ourselves with a potluck but this year we played the traditional white elephant game, only with books.  Everyone brought a book wrapped up, we drew numbers and the swapping began in earnest.  They don't want to wait a whole year to do this again so we're talking about maybe a half-Christmas in June.  Why not??

We had to go back in to town on Wednesday to see an ENT about my nose.  My physical therapist encouraged me to get it looked at before the end of the year.  If I talk very much, it closes up and it's hard to understand what I'm saying.  The short of it is that on December 30th Dr Zamboni, that's right, just like the ice machine, is going to fix my broken nose. This means we had to cancel our New Years trip to SoCal.  Alexia is very disappointed as are we, but I am looking forward to normal breathing once again.
I've had a couple balls of Classic Yarns Cashsoft for many years but haven't found a scarf pattern that I've liked.  Last week I asked on Facebook is anyone had a favorite scarf pattern.  Sara Lamb, who lives near here, suggested I use one of Barbara Walker's pattern treasuries and make up my own pattern, such as Tilting Block on p.263 of the second treasury.  I don't own any of Walker's books so ordered it from Amazon and it was here by Friday.  This is what the patterns look like and they are murder to read.  The only one I could do was Tilting Block.  But I wanted to make up my own which meant I ended up knitting swatches for hours!  I tried several  but finally decided to go with Gothic Leaf Pattern on p.288.  The book is huge.
I couldn't make sense of the written pattern at all.  Stitches sporadically appear before and after the designated pattern stitches so I finally wrote it out on graph paper.  The first graph I wrote out was just for a single pattern but I still didn't know what to do with the extraneous stitches so wrote it out as a double pattern.  From that I was able to knit my swatch from scrap yarn.

I can see that there isn't going to be any spontaneous lace knitting going on here. Every pattern will require deliberate graphing so I will probably end up with just a few favorites.  There are three volumes in the Barbara Walker treasuries but I think I have my hands full with just one.  At least it will be my pattern and my scarf with I'm finished.

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Keeping Busy

I got an email from Hermi Hiatt, telling me that even though she broke her neck 20 years ago, cold still causes her neck to ache.  She send me a pattern for a cowl and I got busy.  First I tore out a scarf I knit at least ten years ago and don't wear.  There was enough for two cowls, one for me and one for my daughter.  Then I started cowl #3 with this yarn I spun when Melissa visited me last August. Chrissie works the UNR football games as a part-time job.  She says the cowls make the difference between being comfortable and being miserable.
I didn't want to tear out and reknit other scarves so I pulled out four I've knit (and don't wear) that have no fringe.  I decided to sew the ends together and wear them like "infinity" scarves.  I don't like messing with scarf ends in the house and I was thinking about what I could wear every day.  It's cold here this year.  It was -7 when I woke up this morning.
This is a double wrap - very comfortable, very warm and I think very cute.
I like to wear them like this too. I'm especially happy that I've put four scarves to use that I've never used before.  They're really pretty!  As you can see, I've lost a little weight.  I think the problem is my broken nose which still hasn't been dealt with.  I have an appointment with an ENT on Wednesday. Breathing is a problem.
Meanwhile, I've been released to weave and I'm trying to pick up where I left off.  I'll be the first to admit that I'm not the sharpest knife in the dishwasher.  I don't know why I used a 8 dent reed for a 20 epi warp.  This loom has a 10 dent reed!  I struggled with the entire warping process so it's no surprise that I have a significant error.  At first I wanted to cut it off and call it exercise.  Now I think I'll weave a little longer, then sew the ends together and give it to Alexia as an infinity scarf, and then I'll start over.  I can't make me finish this mess.
Meanwhile, I'm also weaving scarves.  I'm happy with them and after the pink disaster, I'm glad I started back to weaving on something simple.
After the fringe is twisted and they're dyed, they'll look like these.  A neighbor called and wants to buy three for Christmas presents. Kris, my physical therapist, wants me to weave and walk to build up my leg muscles which have lost strength with all the enforced rest.  Still, I have to limit my weaving to 20-30 minutes at a time.
I haven't done any spinning since Melissa was here.  Ian and I got to talking about it yesterday.  He reminded me that it's a good leg exercise - I used it for PT after my knee surgery.  I decided to start spinning again in the mornings with my coffee and SAD light, starting with this. Melissa left it for me and several others. They will keep me busy for a while.

I've decided that spinning is going to have to substitute for walking until the temperatures rise a little. Just the same, weaving and spinning are my cup of tea when it comes to an Rx for physical therapy - to tolerance.  It's easy to get tired.
On a different note, I learned this week that Leigh Tate from Five Acres & a Dream has put their homesteading experience into a book.  I ordered it from Amazon and it just arrived.  She has done a fabulous job, and even if you're not interested in living a self-sufficient life, she has written like the friend next door - you just want to know more.  Five stars!

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

And Suddenly It's December!

Physical therapy three times a week is a big time obligation, including the commute.  Thanksgiving zipped right by us and winter seems to have arrived in earnest.  The quail, junkos, sparrows and some of the finches winter over, thankful for Ian's birdfeeders.  It's been a very dry year so far and it's cold - 27 degrees at 3:00 this afternoon.
The tradition has been to go up into the Sierras the day after Thanksgiving and everyone cut Christmas trees.  I'm still not up to riding on rough roads so Ian went up into the Sierras above Frenchman's Lake and cut this Forest Service permitted tree on Wednesday.  We had our traditional Thanksgiving family dinner on Thursday, but the change was that Friday Ian and I had breakfast here about 9ish.
With the old traditional, we'd go to breakfast after cutting our trees.  It was always fun but crowded and loud in a restaurant.  Josh's suggestion of breakfast and Bloody Marys at our house was the perfect replacement tradition. Most of our family lives out of the state so relished the time to visit without presents and meal preparations. Five of the cousins enjoyed both days and stay in touch online in between visits.
I finished great granddaughter Olivia's hat and mitts and got them in the mail on Wednesday.
I couldn't believe how fast the package went.  John took this picture of Olivia and Shannon and sent it yesterday!  
Madeline doesn't get much socialization and so hides when people come to the house.  We were worried over Thanksgiving weekend when we had a house full.  When we didn't see her for hours on end, we became concerned that she had slipped out of doors into the wilds.  Not so.  She created her own safe house which we didn't discover until I nearly sat on her.  Do you see the kitty in this picture??

I decided not to fill my Etsy store and removed the link from my blog.  I sell by word of mouth and am just glad to have the pressure off of me to get things done.  When I was removing the link I noticed that the link I used to have to The Library Thing was gone.  While I did pay for the "lifetime membership" I haven't updated it since moving to Good Reads.  Still, I would preferred to have elected to remove the link.

Also, NeoWORX the "hit"counter that I subscribed to for the last seven years just emailed me that he could no longer could afford to compete against free counters and was closing his business.  I'm disappointed as it was fun to see where people visited from.  I'll miss that counter.  It's a reminder too that when we entrust data to a provider, there's no guarantee that it will be there in the future.  I hear a lot of talk about "cloud" storage, but this is the very reason I'm not ready to jump on board.