Saturday, December 08, 2018

My week in pictures

I'm sure I could turn this into a haiku, but not today. Today is too nice and sunny to spend staring at a computer screen, coming up with just the right words for a clever blog post. And so I present some pictures of what I've been looking at of late.

This last one is one of my favorites, and also covers where perhaps 30 hours of my life has gone since my last blog post.  I imagine that Excel is trying its hand at a winter landscape.  (Well, winter portrait, given the orientation of my crop),  Snow, clouds and patches of blue.  Trees silhoutted against the sky.  Frozen.

That job is DONE and I have life beyond Excel, at least until Monday, when I will be ready to tackle anything once again. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Catching up at the end of November and in which there are Photos

The last time I sat down to write a blog post when life was quiet, a full tide of activity descended upon me and did not ebb for a week or two. After a delightful period with much scope for usefulness, quiet has again descended on my little sphere of life and I turn my attention to writing a blog post. Most of the busyness has been in computer field, and that makes for very poor blog fodder. Creating fields, granting permissions, and uploading 45,000 (total) rows from 30 spreadsheets into a database - twice, since one critical column was missing from the first 30... only a project manager could read that with pleasure. Knitting is more interesting. I delight in how God sends me knitting just when I need something to balance the computer's siren call. First, there was a test knit. A few days later, I had another request - and scant hours after that, a third. I finished off the current counterpane square, wound cakes of yarn, and dove in.
Let me have cakes!

Hours of fun!The cakes in the back left have become cycling knitting.  I'm not crazy enough to try knitting while riding my bike outside (especially in a Minnesota winter -- knitting in insulated gloves?  That would require too much concentration) but since I have a bike on a trainer (turning it into a stationary bike), I can exercise and knit in peace - and listen to an audiobook, if so inclined.  To make sure the yarn doesn't get caught in the chain, I have the ball sitting at about elbow level next to me.  The delightful red and white yarn in the front became a swatch.

The size of a finished knitted item depends on a lot of things.  The yarn used, the needle size used, the number of stitches, the stitch pattern, the knitter, the blocking ... and even the knitter's mood (which affects the stranglehold, or lack thereof, she exerts upon the yarn while knitting) and needle material.  This swatch was worked up to see what range of gauges would work well with the yarn. I always love an excuse to get out my needle case labelled 0 00 000.  (4-0 through 6-0 are also in there). 
Swatch and a friend
Once I'd finished the swatch, the need for another arose.  Different yarn, mostly the same needle sizes, and a whole range of different gauges.  

Our next knitting photo comes from Filia's knitting. She hasn't been bitten by the knitting bug lately, but we've had a few craft gatherings lately - and when one attends a knit-in with one's mother who happens to be me, one MUST have a project. But it needed to be not just a project, but something that could conceivably get finished.  And be useful.  There are enough abandoned WIPs and non-useful collections of looped yarn in the world, more need not be created.  And it had to be something that could be assembled from what was available to us, with about 30 minute notice. 

What one knits when one's mother cannot tolerate inactivity at a knitting gathering
And so, after assessing the available yarns, I decided that she could knit the Cape Spear coverlet.  A task not unlike copying the Rosetta Stone, for lack of other material to copy. Except this, I think, will take longer.  So long as I acquire the rest of Lisa's stash of cotton carpet warp in this lovely blue color, Filia should be set for maternally-dictated knitting for the next few score of years.  And I, should I finish my counterpane and be at a loss for what to knit, can knit up a triangle or two while pondering what to do next. 

The rest of life:  My new bullet journal and I are getting along famously; Christmas gifts are knit and awaiting wrapping, but I need to find a good source of not overly-chocolate-coated espresso beans, our pellet stove is beautifully caulked and keeping us warm (and drying my swatches overnight), and all is well. 

Until the next blog .... adieu!

Tuesday, November 06, 2018

The Long Darkness

Daylight savings time is here, and with it, darkness has arrived.  For some time it's been dark when I get up - and now it's not only dark when I get up, but it's dark at suppertime as well.  Darkness is excellent for indoor activities -- knitting, stationary cycling, listening to audiobooks.  Triple-tasking!  In the summer, I go for 2 hour bike rides and do nothing on them but cycle and think.  Now in the other season, I knit-listen-cycle and sneak 90 minutes of activity into 30 minutes.  How will I ever get back on my road bike?

In the knitting world, I've got a finished Christmas present sitting to one side of me, and two cakes of yarn for a test knit on the other side of me.  Another test knit was mailed off last week -- and I'm up to 51 squares done on my counterpane. Knitting is most definitely happening.  I'm hoping to knit up a pair of Sheringham Mitts for Beth Brown-Reinsel's KAL, too -- and am dreaming of what I'll knit after the counterpane.  Sweater dress?  Gansey?  Stockings?  Gloves?  It'll be fun.

My first bullet journal got all filled up, and I decided to continue the experiment into a second one.  I upped the page size from 3x5 to 5x8, more or less, and have a lot more pages.  It will take me a few weeks to settle in to how I want to use the pages, but I do appreciate being able to make longer lists. My overflow to-do list from yesterday would have more than filled a page in the old journal.  Lots of little things - nothing overwhelming - but enough to juggle that it's good to have it written down so as to not lose track of any piece. 

Curious thing of the week:  A few months ago, we replaced the toilet seat in the bathroom.  Nothing extraordinary -- just a plain white 'slow close' seat with two hinges to replace a plain white seat with perhaps 1/3rd of one hinge left.  And yesterday -- I noticed that the portion of the seat that one sits on (but not the sides in the back ... the part with actual contact to an average body) is turning BLUE.  A very charming, pale blue. 

It's an imponderable.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

My season is here

It's fall.  I have a greater appreciation for summer these days, and can enjoy the feeling of warmth soaking into my bones after almost two decades of Minnesota winters, but the change to fall brings delight.  And maybe a bit of a fall cleaning urge, which - for the sake of family harmony - I try to keep mostly under wraps.  Mmmm.  Delightful, lovely, crisp fall.

And then comes winter, which may be my season even more than fall. Fall has getting-the-yard-ready-for-winter chores. Winter has no such thing.  I can hibernate inside with a pot of tea, a blanket, my knitting, and knit/play harp/system-administrate to my heart's content. Except for when I have to go out, of course. 

Hummingbird Feeder with Ice Cube

One of the things I did yesterday in my winter prep was bring the hummingbird feeder in.  The sugar water in it was frozen.  The day before, I picked all the peppers (and some of the plants).  The last few butternut squash got picked today, and the squash plants taken down from the trellis.  I've left the pole beans up for a bit longer.  I'm hoping to get more than a cup or so of shelled beans out of a 6-ft row.  Maybe Jacob's Cattle Beans needed a longer growing season?  We'll see what the yield is after giving things another week or two to mature/dry out, and I pick anything that remotely looks like it might have beans in it.

I finished my Print O' The Wave Stole, and apart from wishing it were a foot or so longer, like it very much.  It's 5' long, and despite my careful calculations, I ended up with enough yarn that I probably could have worked another repeat or three, or left the insertion in on the edging.  Initial calculations showed that I could work the insertion, and have roughly 60" of yarn left.  That was NOT enough margin.  I'm back to working on the counterpane now, and hope to finish up square #45 this evening.  I rather looked forward to starting up again, and am amazed to discover I no longer find bobbles irritating to work.  And after 1400 of the little critters, I unvented a small modification in how I make them. 

It's the little things that are delightful.  

My next library book, The Obesity Code (Fung), arrived in the mail today. More interesting things to read and learn about!  

And how can this have been a 15-minute post already?


Thursday, September 13, 2018

Beans, Beagles and Burgundy

Canis is now 16 years old, best as we know from the adoption paperwork, and we've been able to see for a while that his hindquarters were going to be the first thing to go. There's a definite right sag to them, which leads him to shuffle his legs to the right to keep them under his hips -- until he comes to rest against a wall, or door, or wheelchair.  He'll break out of a slow, faltering amble only for Very Important things -- like, perhaps, another dog walking through the yard.  And then he'll try to walk fast without falling over.  Sigh.

The Print O' The Wave stole is a rich, wine red.  Not that you can tell it from this photo, but it is.  I blocked a nice chunk of it to get an idea of dimensions and yarn usage and the like, and have come to the conclusion that if I use a narrower edging that Eunny Jang's Print O' The Wave Stole (which is only reasonable, considering that I've not followed much of her pattern yet -- I cast on a different number of stitches and am using the chart from Heirloom Knitting), I can probably squeak 42 repeats of the main pattern in without running out of yarn.  I might try knitting the edging from the outside of the ball, starting by working across the cast on edge, then up one side.  I'll be able to see how much yarn is left then, having done 2 sides of edging, and will know if I need to undo some of the center or not.  Maybe?  Apart from tangled yarn, I'm not seeing any pitfalls.  (Which might be like saying, "apart from Florence, the Carolinas aren't expected to get any rain this weekend.")

Speaking of rain, I think we must have been having a wet summer.  My shelling beans are sprouting in the shell! Bean sprouts are a thing, I know, but not in my shelling beans. I wonder if they're still edible?
Mother Stallard Bean Sprouts

Jacob's Cattle Beans

My pole beans this year are FAR from sprouting in the pods (bean pods? Bean shells?  Bean _____?)  They're barely beginning to dry.  We're still enjoying peppers, and I'm enjoying chard and kale.  Butternut squash is ripening - including the odd dark green ones, which are acquiring a butternut squashy color - and that's about all that's going on in the garden these days. 

I discovered that my wonderful bike light disables my speedometer (aka 'bike computer').  Drat.  Supposedly, wrapping the entire light in tin foil will help.  Except the lens has to be wrapped too, and then it's pretty much useless.  Still, I did get to use the lights on Tuesday when my ride went a bit beyond sundown. 


Saturday, September 08, 2018


September is here, and with it, the promise of fall weather.  The promise is being realized today, so my planned morning bike ride has shifted to the afternoon when the temps are supposed to be out of the 50s and into the 60s.  Ahhhh. 

The bike tail light (and front light) have been added to my collection of cycling gear.  Next up will no doubt be something with long sleeves.  Ganseys, while perfect for staying warm at home and walking around the town, are probably not going to be my go-to top when it's 40-50 degrees on a bike.

I've taken care of the 'everyone who has pedals with clips goes over at some time' business.  A week ago Tuesday, as a matter of fact, I decided I would try clipping in with my right foot first.  Bad idea.  It was also a bad idea to continue down the driveway for a ride after I got back up.  Shortest.Ride.Ever!  0.1 miles was enough to tell me that I really shouldn't expect a bit more use to ease the ouch, so I circled round the block, UNclipped carefully, and got an ice pack. 

And two days ago, I - by the grace of God - came to a safe, rapid stop along a US Highway when a piece of wire got tangled up between my front tire and pedals.  Clankety clankety clankety cling!  Brake-unclip-stop safely. The change in speed was enough to let the wire sink to the pavement and be left behind me.  So I got going and clipped in again, came home, tried something new on the unclipping side of things ... and plunk - learned something else that doesn't work!  Ahem.  Today's ride will be a medium-for-me-distance, exploring some new roads. 

The cyber world has been busy this week, from hunting down accounting items to testing workflows and LOTS of stuff in between. And there was an imponderable.  What *is* the non-printing character that looks like a small, hollow circle, sitting just above mid-line? 

Another buzz cropped up on my harp.  I'm not sure if it's going to be a persistent buzz, or just a 'Friday the 7th of September, 2018' buzz.  Time will tell. 

Knitting is proceeding apace.  I haven't stopped to figure out how large I can make my Print O' The Wave stole yet, but I expect I'm about half done with the body.  One of these days I will have to stop knitting and make some calculations.  I'm at the stage of the project where I'd normally be plotting my next project - but that's the counterpane, so I've nothing to plot.  A sad, sad state of affairs.  

The rest of my day is calling -- adieu!

Monday, August 27, 2018

Another quick post

Setting a timer for 15 minutes and writing seems to be an excellent way to keep up with posting.  I've got a spare 15 minutes before heading out... so welcome to this week's post!

Behold, the mummy!  Not the same mummy with two glorious black eyes in the previous blog post, but an 'it's not winter yet, but this newly knit scarf will be GREAT for keeping the wind off the face' mummy.  One weekend, 4 skeins of chunky yarn, a stitch pattern book, and voila.  Cozy warmth.

Last week's mummy was the result of an unexpected and abrupt meeting between a face and a concrete sidewalk, courtesy of a sudden unbalancing tug on a dog leash, resulting from a dog catching sight of a rabbit in the shrubbery.  I'm not sure who was more startled - mom, dog, or rabbit.  The dog now avoids that section of the yard on her constitutionals.  Despite mom's avowal that she didn't need stitches, the nurse at church thought otherwise so we popped over to urgent care in lieu of the church service, and made it back in time for the fellowship meal afterwards.  Despite the doctor's considered opinion that the faceplant would not result in black eyes, the gloriously purple rings were evident within a day.  Now, almost 2 weeks later, they've sunk beneath the cheekbones and add a greenish cast to the face.

Bicycling -- the smiling providence of a flat tire, perfectly timed to avoid a deluge, turned into a trip to town the next day for a new tube, a replacement tube, possibly a new tire tread, and a Serious Consideration of cycling shoes/pedals.  I came home with two tubes, two new tires (mounted!), new pedals, AND new shoes.  With a bit of a bike realignment/tune-up and bike fitting tucked in there, plus practicing How To Unclip While In A Trainer.  A few minutes clipped in on the trainer clued me in to the fact that I might be using different muscles now that my feet were affixed to the pedals, so I decided not to overdo things with a long ride right away.  Maybe 5 miles would be a good first ride?  So, after getting home, I headed out, and decided after a few miles that a loop round the block shouldn't be pushing things too much.  13.5 miles, check.

The next day was a normal riding day, but I didn't want to overdo things - so I planned a 20-24 mile ride.  Except around 24 miles, I was having too much fun so decided to ride up to my mom's for an ice cream sandwich.  40 miles later and 5 towns later, I was home.  (That's total -- not from the 24 mile point.)

So, with Saturday rides of 30 and 40 miles, what was I do to this past Saturday but something a bit longer?  I plotted a route to Truman (45 miles), left mid-morning so I'd be home before the sun was blazing hot, TOTALLY underestimated how long it would take the fog to burn off, and had fog dripping off my helmet the first two hours of the ride.  One hour in, my glasses were consigned to my jersey pocket.  And I had a delightful 3 hour ride -- followed up by a 5 mile jaunt with Vir (his first time on a bike in several years) to make a total of 50 miles for Saturday.  Will I do 60 miles this coming week?  We shall see.  I think my next bike-related purchase will be a tail light.