Friday, March 16, 2018

Keppra Countdown...

Well, we're a month in to the "Keppra countdown" and results are mixed. 

First off, no migraines to speak of. I mean, there are twinges, most every morning. But there's been no big full-blown migraine. I've downed a couple of Excedrin Migraine tabs over the past few weeks, but so far, the "detox," if you will, is proceeding. 

What I am having trouble with is the plethora of side effects. Woolly-brained (nothing to do with knitting!), sleeping trouble, intense hot flashes (different from menopausal hot flashes by about 10 degrees or so!), mood swings, sometimes an unquenchable thirst, depression... I'm having a hard time with all of that. It's impacting areas of my life that I don't want it to impact, and I don't know how to explain it to anyone. 

In fact, last Tuesday, I had a major melt-down. I mean, everything went wrong, at least in my head. I was headed to my women's group meeting, but when I got there, I was hit by a wave of depression so heavy that I almost couldn't get the words, "I can't stay for the meeting because I'm not feeling well" out of my mouth. The tears threatened to overwhelm me. I dashed out of there, got into the car, and actually shuddered with sobs. It was an interesting ride home. I got home, sobbed some more, and finally, eyes gritty and jaw clenched, I stopped. I felt like my insides were being ripped out. 

Yeah. It was awesome. The cloud hung over me for a few days. I had thoughts that I hadn't had for a long, long time, and they scared me. I'm hoping that once all of this is done, my brain gets back to normal...or "normal" for me, at least. 

Next week, I go down to 500 mg at bedtime... So now, I'm at 500 mg twice a day; then I go to the bedtime-only dose for 30 days. Then, if that lasts - if there are no major migraines, which is the criteria I'm using (twinges don't count), I go to "every other day" till the Rx is done. Then I'm finished. Hopefully off the Keppra forever. 

It's nice contemplating being 60 and GETTING OFF a prescription, rather than adding more. Now, I suppose, I will need to get myself to my primary care doctor - it strikes me that I haven't been in 2 or more years. That's not like me, but I've been busy. 

Yes, I know that's no excuse. But it's what I have. My next thing will be to change my MedicAlert bracelet - which I'll still wear, because I think that it's a good thing to have in an emergency. And as far as I know, I'm not sure that the tachycardia will be relieved when I'm done with the Keppra. My cardiologist thinks the Keppra is "contributing" to it - but we won't know how much of it is Keppra and how much is the result of the PVI I had done. We have to wait on that. 

It would be great to get off the beta blocker. And it would also be great to get off the GERD medication - that's the NEXT next thing. Whole 30 starting April 2. 

Lenten Fish Fry...

The Croatian Cultural Club in town has one of the best fish fry dinners imaginable. We're a big fish-fry town. There's the Knights of Columbus, Cro-Club (as it's known locally), The Elks, and a few church halls that do them regularly during Lent. For our money, we love the Cro-Club. The fish, a lovely whitefish, is done nicely, there's buttered parsley potatoes, and a salad with a basic sweet vinaigrette. And 2 slices of "Italian" bread. You can buy a piece of cake or pie if you want dessert, but as you can see, there are two very nice slabs of fish - you'll be full after you eat this dinner.

I always steal Hubby's tartar sauce, because he uses lemon juice on his. 

You have to pick up the dinners by 4:30 or you're going to be standing in line forever. You can eat in, but I've never done that. Maybe it's just me - I kind of like eating at home. 

Hubby and I did go out for dinner tonight - it's been a long, long time, and it was nice to get out. Went to Hamburgerseria - yes, that's a restaurant name! I've linked it here - you'd love it. If you have a chance and you're in the area - stop by. I had the "Grilled Cheese Burger." Hubby had a basic cheeseburger with bacon. 

This weekend, we have a fundraiser dinner to go to. I'm sure it'll be chicken of some sort. It usually is. Dessert will likely be the best part of the dinner. It's an annual function, but somehow, this year it crept up on us both!

Easter Potica...

So this time, we did 4 poticas. I used the old family recipe, but I doubled the filling. I shouldn't have doubled the filling... I had a lot left. The dough behaved beautifully, and rolled out very even. The single batch makes 4 large (almost 3-pound) loaves, using my grandma's long pans. 

Hubby bought me Pullman Loaf pans, but honestly, they won't work. Our table is 52" square and I'd need a bit longer of a rolling surface so that the loaves would have more rings. 

I have two "pretty" ones and I've sold one of them. The other will stay in the freezer till Christmas or till someone says they want one. I use the "not so pretty" ones for the family because my family doesn't care what it looks like. They want the taste!

I got to use the copper bowl that The Kid (#2) bought me for Christmas. It's beautiful, and has the rounded bottom that allows you to whisk by hand. 

I started whisking by hand and by golly... The copper bowl really DOES work more quickly. The caveat is that you need to have the egg whites at room temperature, which I did. 

Usually, I use cream of tartar to puff up the whites more easily, but honestly, with the copper bowl, I didn't need to. I ended up going to my Little Red Kitchen Aid hand-mixer, and I'm telling you - those egg whites were whipped in under 2 minutes! Granted, it wasn't the usual amount - normally we double the recipe which means 3 times the filling. 

I'm pretty sure that the "regular" amount we make won't fit in this bowl. 

I wonder if they make a copper whipping bowl for a 5-quart Kitchen Aid mixer. A quick Google search seems to indicate that the answer to that is a confirmed "No."

Anyway, I felt a little bad making "mixer marks" on the bowl, but I don't care - it's a bowl to be used, not just sitting there looking pretty. I want to make sure it's well-utilized as I bake and I'm not going to "save it for later." Time to use things now. 

So, I said that I made too much filling. Well, it doesn't freeze, and I had no more dough. Hubby made his Grandma's "Never Fail Pie Crust" recipe and we stuffed mini-muffin tins full of it, and used up all the filling for "potica pies." I thought we'd have enough for church for coffee hour, but we've been munching on them steadily... We didn't even roll out the dough - just pulled knobs of it, tamped it into the muffin tins and baked for about 25 minutes. Only because of how thick the filling is. 

They freeze nicely, which has enabled us to have them for a few more weeks. 

I may see if I can snag a few for my mom - when we did this for Christmas, I thought I was going to have enough of them for the cookie trays. Except that Hubby ate them. 

All of them. 

Granted, there weren't as many then, but still. He ate them all. And I can't say that I blame him. Had I been home, and not working all day, I'd have eaten 90% of them all... So, in explanation, Hubby works - but he works at home. I work outside the home for the most part. 

It's probably safer for my waistline and my snacking habit that I do. 


Sorely lacking in the knitting department - as you can tell, there's been a lot going on. The Close to You shawl is coming along, though I did have to tink back one row. Somehow, I screwed up the 14-row repeat and was merrily doing TWO 14-row repeats in a row. Not cool. But I caught it and fixed it. I can tell you it wouldn't have been "merry" if I hadn't been paying attention and had done most of the blasted thing before tinking it back. 

This yarn, while yummy, definitely has a different feel to it than my own version with the sock yarn. I think my friend will like it, and I'm anxious to see how it blocks up. I think hers will be quite a bit larger than mine. 

That's ok. I can get more yarn like this if I want to do one in purples for me. 

I might do that. Or at least try it in another sock yarn. Or maybe Cascade cotton - it would be kind of heavy, but I know that their Pima cotton yarn drapes deliciously - and the colors are so saturated that they just glow. Potential, potential, potential!

Oh, and I'm having a little fun with the unicorn bowl. I wear this chalcedony bracelet a lot, and every so often, like when I'm working at the laptop, it "clacks" because it hits the base of the unit and it annoys me. 

I had to stick it somewhere, and the unicorn's horn seemed to be a logical place. I may make this my profile picture in Facebook! Or maybe this blog, but I love my picture of my adorable, much-missed husky River. 

The yarn bowl is working nicely, and is certainly heavy enough to take the tugging I'm giving it. However, tomorrow I'm putting felt dots on the bottom; it's got an unfinished ring on it and it was scratching up the Arlo table. I have it balanced on that notebook where I keep my sock patterns, but I need to put the felt under it so that it doesn't scratch, and doesn't slide off the notebook. 

Tomorrow I also have to work on the...

Baby Tomatoes...

My kid's friend AJ let me borrow this catalog and gave me some of his leftover seeds from last year. No, those aren't altered by Photoshop -- they're heirloom tomatoes, and while those aren't the seeds he gave me, I'm going to get my own copy of this catalog and get those for next year!

They're called "Atomic Cherries," and they look amazing. I'm growing, from seed, 3 different varieties - and I've set aside 2 of the little grow-pods for Kid #2 - he can put them in pots and grow them on his front porch. 

I'm hoping I have better luck. I think this year, we'll make sure the vines don't go nuts. Lately, we've been having these 12' tall tomato plants - seriously - you've seen the pictures - but no fruit. Or what fruits we get are small. I think the plant puts so much into trying to reach Heaven that it has no energy to produce tomatoes!

So we'll see (a) if these seeds germinate; and (b) if they do, we'll pinch them back to keep them bushy rather than rangy. 

Random Pictures...

It's a two-fer tonight. And both are sunsets. The one with the two houses is across the street from me. It was a stunner. I ran out in the snow in my house slippers to snap this one. 

The other is outside the studio on a Sunday evening. Lately, we've had the most amazing sunsets, and I've tried to get each of them when I can. 

I know - seems like I'm trying to live life through the lens of my camera (phone...), but I really just love the incredible colors. 

Each of these sunsets are a reminder that one day ends and another will begin. It's a reminder to do as Emerson says, "finish each day and be done with it."

The whole quote goes like this, and it's a good thing to contemplate, especially when you feel like things are beyond your control:

“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.”

Saturday, March 03, 2018

I Went Ahead and Did It...

Yep. I started the Close to You Shawl for my friend's upcoming birthday. I mean, "upcoming" as in "this fall..." Not like I don't have time. The last one  - which was the first one I ever knitted - was done in 2 months. It took me longer to get around to blocking it. 

I have two pair of socks in progress. I have a scarf that I never finished. I have a few (more than a few) WIPs. But I felt compelled to wind the ball up and start the shawl. 

So this is the yarn. Expression Fiber Arts, "Stone Tulip." It's got a twist to it, so I wasn't sure if this would be good for the shawl. It's billed as sock yarn, but I also don't know if it'll be good for socks either. 

I have a few other yarns of this same type (from different dyers) that are billed as "sock yarn," but I wonder if the twist in the yarn will keep it from being comfortable. I guess I'd better knit one up into actual socks soon. 

I think my friend will love this, particularly since it's her favorite color blend. You only turn 60 once, and it's important to me that I make something for her. It's also kind of cool that we'll have "matching" shawls - at least as far as the pattern is concerned. 

So anyhow, got the swift and ballwinder out and cranked this one out this morning. It sat. All afternoon (you'll see why shortly). And then around suppertime, I figured it was time to cast on. 

I put the project bag together and had to look up my notes on the last one I did so that I could familiarize myself again with the pattern. I admit to a small "mental-pause" there because I was a tad confused on some of the repeats, but then I got the mental picture of the shawl, so it's okey-dokey. I know people have knit multiples of this one, but this is only #2 for me!

Using the Unicorn bowl, but I'm not committing to putting the yarn through one of the solid holes! I'm leaving it in the removable one so that I can take it with me to work on at lunch. I figure it's a decent enough "lunchtime" project that will keep my hands busy. 

We shall see.

You start this one out small and it grows. I like the crescent shape of this shawl because it stays on well. I can drape it, pin it, tie it... It can be worn in many ways, and I really like the "tips" (which you may remember from the last one I made)... You'll see this as it comes along. 

So the socks are temporarily in "waiting" till I get moving on this one a bit. Like I said, I have time, and I can enjoy the process here. I like to be in a situation where I don't have a tight deadline, so I'm kind of glad I'm giving this one a lot of time. 

Enjoying the unicorn bowl - it's finally a bowl deep enough without me raiding the kitchen cabinets for a mixing bowl! 

...And I have a question for my readers. Anyone know what this little gadget is? 

I got it in my shipment from Expression Fiber Arts, and I have no clue. There was no packaging that gave me a hint, no instructions. It's not an eraser. But that's about all I can tell about it. 

Not sure. Anyone?

Eagle Run...

So, we got news that eagles were in a local-ish park. We couldn't go during the "eagle weekend" because of a couple of things, mainly including the blizzard that happened. 

We went this weekend. Of course, you go on "eagle weekend" because they're around. We didn't see anything that resembled an eagle. I did see a hawk and a seagull. And a cute little rescue dog on the trail with its humans. 

Oh, and some folks kayaking down the river. 

But no eagles. 

What I did see were LOTS of ancient trees. This was near the river, and I couldn't stop looking at it. Such an amazing tree. Don't you wonder what it would look like in full leaf? I may have to trek down there and find out in the summer. By the way, I made these two pictures small because I took them with the "big" camera and they're quite hi-res. I didn't want to kill anyone's computer! 

Random Picture...

For some reason, I'm attracted to "path" pictures. I took this one at McKinley Woods today. It's a path. It's kinda sparse. 

But again - unlike a prairie park, where there's lots of grass and few trees, this shows those older trees, and it shows that each tree is is the path each of us takes. 

I can see this in my mind in the summertime, with the birds flitting through the trees, the leaves making dappled shade on the path. Maybe the smells of the river coming over you as you walk. And I can see it in the winter, covered in snow. 

I can see the possibilities in the path, and I hope you can too. On whatever path you're on. Whether a path actually in the woods, or a path you've set out for yourself. Your path may be paved. It may be gravel. It may be grass...and sometimes there's mud, you'll have a fallen tree or two and there may very well be pot-holes. 

But if you keep your eyes open and keep your wits about you, you won't trip. And you'll also know when it's time to change paths - or keep on with the one you're walking. 

My, I'm philosophical this evening! 

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

The Broken Rock...

I may have mentioned that we're looking for a new vicar at our church. It's been a long process and we've had a couple of people interested. 

In the meantime, we have a substitute vicar who's covering services through Easter. There's this sermon, and it's been sticking in my head for a few weeks now. Believe me, that's a record... 

And it's all about a rock. 

It's Lent. I grew up Catholic and about 7 years ago, went to the Episcopal Church. That in itself is another whole blog entry, so we won't digress now. We looked around, we found the church we now attend, and we're very involved. 

So, much like the Catholic Church, Lent is still 40 days. Still solemn. And still, people "give up" something. 

Rev. Shawn brought in this basket of river rocks. Some oblong, some round, some polished brightly, some matte. She passed it around and said, "Pick a rock." 

The premise of this sermon is that we have to use Lent as a time to go inward and decide: Are we living the life God (however you perceive God to be) wants you to live? 

Sure, you can give up cussing, or coffee, or chocolate. But you also need to think about it: Scripture has it that Jesus went into the wilderness for 40 days (Lent = 40 days, get it?). Maybe our own "wilderness" has less to do with "giving up" than "going inside." Go inside and make some discoveries of your own. 

So why the rock? Well. The rock is a symbol. Hold it, let your body heat warm it. Then put your wishes on it. Or put your troubles on it. Then, wash the rock. Wash away the troubles. Send the wishes out to the Universe. 

That's the essence of the sermon. And what I like is that my rock is broken. Because as a human being, I'm in some ways broken. As are we all. The broken bits make us who we are. As my friend Tom said, as we were talking today, each of us is entitled to keep our broken bits to ourselves. But sometimes, those broken bits need to be let go of. 

So wash away what you don't need. See if that helps you go through life a little bit lighter. 

Mother Nature's Show...

The other night, after Yin class, I saw this... This sunset is one of the more spectacular ones, and we've had a few lately. This is one benefit of living in the semi-boonies. We're far enough out in the "country" so as to get lots of sky, but unfortunately, we still have lots of street lights, which give far too much light pollution for a good old star-gazing.

Last night, coming in from class, I happened to look up and saw a perfectly black sky, the half moon, and a bunch of stars. We love our sunsets, but we also love our moon and stars, too. I reminded myself of the necessity of a simple thing: look up. 

Seriously, I'm not one of those tied to looking down on her phone, but with my schedule, I'm often running here or there. And my head is often down, either to watch where I'm walking or in thought. Thinking about travel time, getting where I need to be, etc. 

I need to look up. There's beauty there. 

Speaking of Mother Nature's ability to put on a show, the ground hadn't even thawed, and she gave us ... RAIN. Lots of rain. INCHES of rain. Which, because of the ground being frozen about 3" down, had nowhere to go. So it did the only thing it could, and flooded the crap out of many of our roads, parks, yards... The rivers were impressive. And the viaducts were dangerous. 

Yes, a few people were crazy enough to try to drive under the viaducts with all the water there. And yes, a few people were stranded and had to abandon their vehicles. Y'all were warned... The various cities and townships closed down roads as appropriate. The shot above is outside the dog park. As you click on it, you can see how high the river is running under that bridge. 

I was coming toward the studio and stopped at the cemetery - well, there are 2 cemeteries, but one is where my great-grandma is buried. The other, right across the street, is the cemetery for Stateville Penitentiary. It's not used anymore, but there are still graves there, and they're still maintained. Once in a while you'll see someone in there visiting. The space is half empty, actually. I have to go back in the spring or summer, and take some pictures. You're allowed to do that, but they will stop you if you try to go onto the farms or on other penitentiary property. As you can see, part of the area is pretty low-lying. Nobody's crypt has come to the surface. But you have to wonder when the ground will actually thaw enough to let the water absorb. 

Now for Knitting... 

It's been a while. It's been about 10 days since I actually picked up needles. I did a few rows on the "traveling sock" at work Monday during my lunch hour. I'm actually looking forward to knitting outside soon, and having a quiet space for lunch. My favorite park is only a few blocks from the office. 

So I got squishy mail... The pink is for a very special rendition of the "Close to You" shawl. I have to start that one soon. The recipient will, I hope, not only love it but wear it. 

I knit for only a few people, and I want them to use what I make. Don't wrap it in tissue paper and "save it for later." One thing I've learned: later never comes. Just wear it. That's what I made it for. 

The other one, I'm not really sure. It was on clearance, and I have to see what it looks like wound up. Honestly, it reminds me of a field of sunflowers, but I'm not sure what to do with it. I can't really wear any of the colors in this yarn close to my face. 

So, technically, I could make this into a pretty funky pair of socks and be happy with them. But I don't think a shawl is in the cards for the yellow-toned one. 

It goes into the bag and it'll sit there for a while till I get to it. I might try another go at Petty Harbour with this yarn just to see how it looks in a hand-dyed yarn. 

This little gem (the blue plastic thingie) is my Snark guitar tuner/metronome combo. The bag I was using (the one it came with) was falling apart, so presto-change-o, I whipped up yet ANOTHER crocheted bag. I was going to go for another button-down bag, but I ended up with a more tube-like contraption, with ribbon in some eyelets. We'll see how it works. If nothing else, I can make a crocheted chain and run that through the eyelets if the ribbon becomes annoying. I used a bit of the remaining Kiwi yarn - that merino + possum blend. I don't have enough left for a hat, but if I did want to get a white merino blend, I could use this teal as a cuff on the hat - I have enough in the ball left for that. The original hat I have done in this is quite warm, though I do wear earmuffs with it when it's really cold outside. I wear it much like a cloche - down to the top of my eyeglasses. 

Not necessarily fashionable, but this is one warm yarn! 

And for the socks... Petty Harbour is what I'm working on tonight. And I noticed something funny. Or at least funny to me. The Petty Harbour socks will match Raisa. Almost exactly. 

It took me a few minutes to get her to sit still - she didn't like needles that close to her neck, though. Her fur isn't that of a typical Husky - it's actually a very light coat. She has the undercoat, but it's not as thick as I've had before with prior huskies. So I get that she doesn't want 5 pointy things aiming at her neck!

Anyway, I got her to sit still for a nanosecond and snapped the shot. As you can see, the yarn pretty closely matches my dog... Not that it will matter. 

Because when I wear these, and when they get covered in dog hair, it'll be the white hair that sticks out on the socks. 

It always is. 

Be A Voter...

I don't know if you have primaries in your areas, but we have a big one coming up March 20. I've been writing postcards (to the point of hand cramps) - which is probably why knitting has come to a temporary standstill. I have campaign signs in my yard. I'm talking about local politics with local folks. I'm phone-banking. 

It's time to put my actions where my intentions have been. I've walked in two Women's Marches, and I held up a sign saying that it's time to get involved. 

In Illinois, we have closed primaries. You have to declare your party. I'm an election judge, and in order to continue to be a judge, I have to vote in primaries. It is what it is. People often ask why we do a primary, why can't we just get the whole ballot?

Well, that would be one huge general election, wouldn't it? Primaries are part of the process, and it narrows the field down so that we can hopefully vote the best person into the office. 

Though we have a problem in Will County...for our County Clerk, we have a woman running who's been charged with a felony, and for some odd reason, she's been endorsed by the county establishment. 

I'm voting for the other person. The one without a felony charge. It's kind of a no-brainer. 

Be that as it may...if you have a primary election coming up, in this time and place in our history, don't blow it off. Vote. It's a right people have died for. 

Random Picture...

So I'm still on that rant. I've contacted my legislators, and I've voiced my support for a gun dealer law that would put more rules on the dealers. They'll have to get over it. The law needs to be passed, and we have to have reasonable restrictions on who gets a gun. 

Arming teachers? No. Just no. Teachers teach. 

Teachers are not guards. 

Our schools are not prisons. 

The answer is a combination of social safety nets and consistent, sensible regulations. 

We just have to get to that point in the conversation. I'm not sure we're there yet. 

And yeah, I know. Technically, this is a xylophone, not a glockenspiel. Roll with it. 

I'm going to set this picture here and let you meditate on it. I've just been told I have to write a sermon for Sunday... This could be interesting... 

Thursday, February 15, 2018

"Some of My Best Friends are..."

That's the start of a quote from Tallulah Bankhead's character in the Hitchcock movie "Lifeboat."

She uses that refrain a lot in the movie. So I'm grabbing it. 

Some of my best friends are...




school officials



And this Mama is mad. What, you say, do all of the above-listed folks have in common?

They're all victims of shootings. Mass shootings, which are now as familiar to us as a regular old weekday. 

Oh, my friends the politicians (some of my friends are even politicians...) will offer their "thoughts and prayers." And some of those "friends" will mightily castigate those who seek to "politicize" the shootings. 

You know THOSE folks. The ones who want - NOW, finally, THIS TIME to talk about mental health issues and gun regulations. 

"But it's TOO SOON." 


BAM. The next shooting. 

"But it's TOO SOON."


BAM. The NEXT shooting. 

It's a bad refrain to an oft-sung song. 

It's NOT too soon. It's almost too late. 

Does anyone recall that the latest shooting in Parkland, Florida is TEN YEARS from the shooting at Northern Illinois University? To the day, people. 

How long (dare I even put this in writing) till someone decides to do "anniversary shootings"? Seriously, don't you dare laugh. Don't you DARE tell me "it's not the guns."  DON'T you dare tell me that it's a "terrorist" if the shooter isn't a white male. 

The mental health safety nets (what few of them still exist) will be shredded under the current administration's iteration of that farcical piece of garbage called their "budget." And we aren't allowed to mention gun restrictions - like restrictions on large purchases of ammunition - because it might upset the NRA and they won't be able to buy and sell their (really, once upon a time, OUR) representatives. 

Here's an idea. Those responsible gun owners that we hear from and about? How about ALL OF YOU resign from the NRA. Seriously, take your money and spend it elsewhere. Maybe when the NRA has only the zealots, and their budget tanks? Maybe THEN we can talk about sensible limits. Sensible regulations. Politicians that aren't bought. 

Because right now? Apparently, the lone "presidential" tweet sending "thoughts and prayers: isn't cutting it, and it is, after all, "too soon."

But not too soon to plan funerals for youngsters whose only misstep was -- going to school. 

Friday, February 09, 2018

Snowmageddon 2018

 Well, we finally got winter. All at once. The forecast had been brewing for about 3 days, and on Thursday, it started. We actually had a "snow day" today; most schools were closed, many offices also closed. Those who worked from home did so. 

All in all, we had about a foot of snow, and it's going to snow a bit more tonight - possibly up to 3 more inches. 

We went to a wake today - the first time we got out, except for shoveling. The main roads were fine, but in our neighborhood, people ignored the "don't park on the street" thing...seriously, my town could have had quite a surplus if they issued tickets. The neighboring town issued over 300 tickets for violating the winter parking bans...

Anyway, it's the light, fluffy stuff so far. The birds were gathered around the feeders, with the woodpeckers nibbling suet, and a junco who decided that the smaller feeder provided his two favorite things: shelter and food. 

Hubby tried to take a few shots out the front window; I was having problems with holding the camera steady. 

Might've been that 3 cups of tea I had that made me a little wobbly... 

It was interesting to watch the neighbors ignore the snow plow. It was with a bit of vicarious glee that I watched the plow "snow them in." Several times. What is it about people where they think, "I'll just wait till it stops snowing" -- and then you can see how irritated they are at moving a foot of snow! We kept up with it, so we had an easier time of it. 

Our neighbor actually used a shovel to push the snow off his car... Wow. I'm pretty sure my father would've had a fit if I'd done that. Then again, it was he who taught me to "stay ahead" of the snow. Hubby's dad actually had a John Deere with a blade - but then, Hubby grew up in Montana, where stuff like this is a "little spring storm." 

I was planning on getting a lot of knitting done today; and getting into my office to continue the organizing. Instead, I caught up on several days' worth of newspapers and I started cleaning out my email. I'm an incredible email hoarder. 

I think I got rid of about 10,000 emails. Seriously, I'm not joking. Hubby manages his inbox easily, filing things right away. I started purging, and will start unsubscribing to things - I got into a lot of different email newsletters, and honestly? Who can keep up now? So I cleared out and I filed. All in all, it's been pretty productive. 

I also shoveled. Tomorrow, I hope to get the elkhounds out - at least on the long lead and let them trash all the snow. They'll enjoy that. Maybe I can even get out on the snowshoes in the park near our house. 

I was able to get out to the street to take a few pictures. The snow came up past my ankles at that point. I had a chance to shoot a few pictures, but I didn't want to linger out there. It wasn't that it was cold, but it was coming down rather fast. 

I have campaign signs in my front yard, and one of my friends was laughing because at one point, all we could see was "Elect Jim." Well, now, you can barely see the "Elect" part! And Denise's sign is pretty much buried. 

The Blue Super Moon...

As I indicated, it was, once again, too cloudy to actually see the full Blue/Super Moon. But the nice thing is that this fella lingered. So about 3 days afterward, I saw this outside, and Hubby was kind enough to take the shot for me. You couldn't -- or, I couldn't - get this shot with my phone. He's got a steadier hand than I do, so outside he went and he got this. 

It was a morning shot; the moon was sparkly and stunning. It was quickly obscured by clouds and of course, moved under the tree lines, so we lost it about 4 minutes after that photo was taken. 

I'm wondering at the plethora of the "super moons" we've had in the past year. How many of them can be "super" before it seems like EVERY full moon is "super"? 

You know the "Blue" phenomena is when there are 2 full moons in a calendar month. That I can deal with. 

But it seems like everything is "super" now, and that takes away the special-ness of, say, the Harvest Moon. I don't want to complain. Well, yeah, I do. We seem lately to have a need to "super" everything. 

How about we just go outside, ditch our devices, and LOOK UP. Admire the night sky, even if you're in an area where there are a lot of people. You'll still see stars. Maybe not as many as you'd see in the wide open prairie, but you'll still see them. You'll see the moon in all its phases. You may see bats flying. 

Go outside and breathe. The night air is wonderful. It doesn't have to be "super." It can just be what it is: night. 


Look at my lovely unicorn yarn bowl! From Darn Good Yarns, it's adorable! I can't wait to use it on my next project. Right now, it's sitting on my table next to some carnations (silk) in a green vase. Time to ditch the snowmen, even though they're perfect at the moment. I wanted something different. 

Anyway, I would normally not have bought this, but I figured I wanted to treat myself for my recent birthday. 

I like the fact that it's a bigger yarn bowl. I had purchased a yarn bowl from Darn Good Yarns before, and it turned out to be wayyyyyyyyyy smaller than I thought. It's fine for a cake of sock yarn. Doesn't work for a ball of Opal. Also didn't work with bulkier yarns. 

But the unicorn will. I like that there are multiple holes, and that swoopy thing where you can just string your yarn in there, so you can switch out the yarns for different projects. 

It's got a nice wide base, and seems pretty sturdy. I've been eyeballing lots of yarn bowls; some are gorgeous works of art, and some look like they wouldn't hold a mini-skein. And some look like they'd slide right off a table if you had to give the yarn a good tug. 

This wooden one also has a good base; rather bottom-heavy, actually. It's just too shallow for a lot of projects I do. Right now, it's holding the Heritage Sock yarn. As you can see, I'm moving along on that one. I'm kinda on a roll with it, so I'm plugging along on it this weekend. I'm hoping to get to the heel this weekend. 

Maybe I misjudged this pattern. I'm starting to get into the groove of the 4-repeat structure, and I'm liking it. It's zipping along nicely. I think I'll make it through. I could see myself doing this again, when I reach into the "Twelve Months of Socks" tote and pulling out a solid color. 

But it would have to be a light color. I don't know that I would do this in a darker color. The "Bowties are Cool" pattern in the Navy blue "Bigger on the Inside" yarn is a kicker. Kind of gets you right in the eyeballs...

So I've had some issues with hats - I can't seem to make one that fits me well. They fit my head, but I can't get them tight enough around the ears. And I still can't find that darned baby blue alpaca hat! 

I have been using my Kiwi hat - and I don't care that it pulls down virtually onto my glasses. It's been cold enough that I just wear the hat. It got good use today! The snow was dappling the black "overhairs" on the kiwi yarn -- the possum part -- and the hat sparkled with diamonds. 

I tell myself it's a "cloche" style and it can rest lower on my head. Problem is, I have rather a short forehead. My mom's the same way. My sister has a higher hairline, which she says causes its own set of problems. But I have trouble with bangs and with hats. 

I'm still looking for a nice pattern. I love the basic ones, and I have to figure out something for my ears. 

Or I just wear earmuffs under or over the hat. It could work. I'm too old to care if it doesn't because my main goal is to be warm rather than fashionable. 

But a well-knitted hat never hurts. If it turns out that I find a luscious yarn, a great pattern and the right button or other accessory? I'm going for it. 

Random Pictures...

There are two more from today. A shot down our street and a shot of the tree in the front yard. I thought the snow was nestling in the tree rather nicely. And I just liked seeing our street decked out in winter's finery. 

There was a guy walking his dog. The snow was falling. There was that typical "hush" in the air. Regardless of people shoveling, snow plows coming down the street... you know that sound of the snow falling? The sound of those little flakes hitting the ground, making that particular "shusshhhh" sound? That was going on. You could almost taste the stillness and feel the sound. 

One of my favorite things is to walk in the snow. I don't have to talk. Really, it's more fun to listen. I'll even be happy going out there by myself. Just to absorb it. 

Did you know that there are studies that say silence is good for us? Think about it. We're bombarded by sounds. Mostly artificial ones, of our own making. We don't know silence anymore, and if we do, often we're uncomfortable with it. 

Bundle up. Put on some decent hiking boots. Grab the cross-country skis or snowshoes. Go outside and enjoy the snow in the daytime. I've talked about going outside at night. Try the daytime. And stick your phone in your pocket. (Carry it with you - it's a safety thing.) Walk in nature. 

See what you can see. Notice light and dark. Notice birds. Notice the signs of creatures that occupy the space. 

You don't even have to whip out the phone to document your walk on social media. 

The point is to get out there in nature and enjoy what it has to offer. Our Mother Earth will provide for us. And we need to get out there with her when we can. As often as possible. For our own mental and physical health, as well as to appreciate what she's offering us. 

Saturday, February 03, 2018

Cure for Insomnia...

...Yeah, I thought that might grab your attention. 

I've been reading some of the books I got for Christmas, and I have to give it to Kid #2... He knows how to pick a knock-out. As in "knocks you out into a dead stupor."

It's "The Detective Stories of Edgar Allan Poe." See, he's literary. Well, he's an English teacher - they're born that way and they get even worse as life goes on. I'm as much to blame as anyone...he was made that way. 

So he got me a few books for Christmas; and I obliged by getting him a signed Amy Hempel. That's a woman who, if I grew up to be a writer (I mean, for, like, MONEY...), I'd want to be her. Anyway, I get these books from a "secret source" unknown to him. All I do is pay attention to who he's reading and who he admires. Then I go find a book signed by the author. 

Unfortunately, I think I've reached my apex in Hempel...Everyone else is going to be wayyyy out of my budget. 

Ahem. Back to the books. He got me the Poe, because he knows I'm a Sherlock Holmes fanatic. Not just a "fan" but FANATIC. I read the canon back in high school, and I still can quote large parts of it. And I've re-read it several times. I just love the way Conan Doyle put together the stories.

Well, legend has it that Conan Doyle wasn't the first to create a "consulting detective," and that perhaps Sherlock was conceived in the wake of Poe's C. Auguste Dupin. (Pronounced, "deu-pah" with the sound like you're swallowing the last syllable.) 

So there are 3 stories in this little volume: The Murders in the Rue Morgue; The Mystery of Marie Roget; and The Purloined Letter. I can tell you this: Poe is wordy and Dupin is a jerk. He makes Mycroft Holmes look positively ACTIVE. 

Sorry - Holmes humor... Mycroft Holmes is written as a large man who virtually never leaves his club. Dupin doesn't leave his home...and in several of the stories, doesn't bother to turn on the lights (in this case: light the candles). 

Anyway, the stories are short-ish. But they're - in a word - boring. They're over-wordy, and the explanations are murky at best. I mean, Holmes gets convoluted, but you can generally follow his logic. Dupin's logic is tortured, at best. Convoluted in the extreme. Battered to death by a wall of words with nary a discernible end in sight. 

Seriously, 3 or 4 pages, and I'm ready to snooze. I'll re-read them. There are nuggets there, and I resent not being able to dive in and grasp the story. So I'll review the book again, but for right now? It may as well be my "Intro to Statistics" textbook. One whack on the head and I'm out...

The other one I'm reading is courtesy of my friend Wendy - for my 60th birthday. Judith Viorst's "Suddenly Sixty," a slim little gem of poems. 

This is my "pick-up-and-put-down" book. You can just grab it, open it and skim one of the poems. Or several. Depends on whether you're taking a break from overly-enthusiastic knitting, or you're bored with whatever's in the newspaper. 

Or you just want a small snippet of something witty to read in between whatever you're doing. 

I haven't read much of her work; I could be persuaded to read more. I know all about her children's book, "Alexander's No Good, Horrible, Very Bad Day" and I know she's noted for her short stories. 

But I never had any other exposure to her work. Have to investigate this more fully. 

The Super Moon...

Well. Once again, we missed the Super Moon/Blue Moon/eclipse thingie that went on. It was cloudy. And we're in a comparatively populated area, so there's a ton of light pollution. The best I got was a picture from Monday night's class. Really, the most deserted place I can be, outside of leaving town. 

This shot is over the top of the State Police road salt storage garage. 

It seems like it was gorgeous, given the photos I saw on the internet. I believe the next one is in a hundred years. 

Guess I'll miss that one, too. 


The Petty Harbour sock is coming along. I'm a few more rows down the leg, and I think I have about 7 more of the 4-row pattern repeats till I start the heel flap. 

I think this will make a great pair of socks, and I would do this again in a solid color - but something brighter!! This yarn would've been better used to learn a cable because it certainly has lovely stitch definition and with the solid color, I could've seen what I was doing pretty clearly. 

But I'm a little nervous about doing a cable in such a small yarn. Maybe I need to learn them on worsted weight, or something bigger so that I get the hang of it. 

If I could stick with this, it goes by pretty swiftly, I whip through the two "K around" rows, and then the K1, P1 row is a little fiddly, but the K3, P 1 goes by rather rapidly. 

Once I hit the heel, it'll be smooth sailing (see that pun there... Petty Harbour, "smooth sailing"...). I'm going straight knit from the gusset onward. 

I have a decision, though -- do I want to do the regular toe in the pattern or do I do my favorite: the star toe. I really like that one because it fits me the best. It's easy to do, and I think in this plain color yarn, it would really be striking. 

And then there's the "traveling sock," which I started the other day. I've been able to do rounds here and there, and I'm half way down the ribbing for the cuff. 

Here's the thing: I'm not sure I like it. It may be the only Opal colorway that I'm not too keen on. I'm not sure why they named it "Turntable." Doesn't look at all like a record player, a record, or a disco! It almost looks Christmas-like, but the red in the photo is actually a little more orange. And that black-ish line is actually a dark forest green. 

Anyway, this may be my "experimental sock" wherein I use a different heel and toe. It might be a good way to start expanding my knitting - or sock knitting - horizons. 

I'm getting a few of my "fancy" hanks in line to do shawls. Still narrowing down patterns. And I have a hat kit that I really want to start. Of course, since it's February, I have several projects I want to get done, and there are WIPs to finish, realistically, I'll get to it - MAYBE - in March!

The Columbarium...

Well, today was one of those days where I hit another thing on my "accidental bucket list." I had a person call the church and ask to put her loved one in the columbarium. It's a space behind the altar where cremains are stored. 

Our church is currently still searching for a vicar, and the family just wanted to place their loved one, no service necessary. That was today. So... I got the columbarium map out, figured out where the loved one was supposed to go, and we did it. Hubby was installing the new organ lamp, so he was in the church with them for a little while as they said their goodbyes.
I actually helped Hubby place the loved one's remains in the box. It was nice to give the family the closure. But it certainly wasn't what I expected. 

Random Picture...

I love well-done puns. And "Pearls Before Swine" has a run of the best ones. This one elicited groans from both kids so far. Stephan Pastis seems to be having a whole lot of fun with these puns. I enjoy a good comic strip, and so far, this one hasn't disappointed me. 

I still like the comics. I have my favorites, and I follow the story lines, like Crankshaft, and Doonesbury. There are quite a few I don't read, but overall, the comics can give me a chuckle, make me think, and sometimes point out something I may have missed. If they're good political comics, even better.