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. 

Thursday, August 16, 2018

The 15-minute blog post

Let's start with some yumminess.The above was a gift from a family I dogsit for. This dog doesn't require much ... I open the front door for her to come in, then she and Bandit spend the rest of her stay either sleeping, riding in the car, or taking one another's sleeping positions.  With a little bit of 'when is my family coming back' thrown in.  The shiny spot on one muffin is a QUARTER.

Counterpane update! I reached 40 squares and am taking a counterpane break to knit a stole for myself.
Yarn for stole
I've decided to use the Print O' The Wave pattern, from Sharon Miller's Heirloom Knitting.  The problem is I have just ONE skein - and I'm going to live dangerously and work the edging last.  Worst case scenario, I have to frog a whole lot of edging and back up a repeat or few.  Really bad worst case scenario is that I have to do it twice because I calculated wrong during the first frogging.  I've about 1.2 repeats (out of 3-4 dozen) done. 

I've also submitted a design for the next issue of Cast On, and it's been accepted, and the yarn arrived today.  So the stole isn't going to grow particularly fast.  Oh, and I had a test knit last week too.  And SysAdminning has been busy.

So I've needed a bit of balance in my life, beautifully achieved by riding 20-30 miles on my bike a few times a week.  Except this morning, when I had a flat tire.  A rock embedded in the tread was the culprit.  And my spare tube was spare because it had made a lovely hissing sound from the valve once upon a time, and was only still around because I hadn't been able to figure out WHY is was making that noise, once it was off the bike.  I put in on, and voila -- hissing noise and decreasing PSI.  No bike ride this morning.  So I picked tomatoes.  A lot of tomatoes.  How a lot?  Enough so that my stock pot couldn't handle all the product of the food mill, and I had fresh tomato soup  for lunch.  I think the stock pot is going to be simmering for another 3 hours or so to get down to 'half'. 

Oh, and it POURED rain about 90 minutes after my ride was deemed cancelled.  So much for TWO weather apps telling me I had 4 hours before the rain was supposed to arrive.  The frowning providence of a flat tire produces quarts of tomato sauce AND the lack of a drenching. 

I still have a lovely harp -- with two things that need fixing (move a lever, move a string).   Are things really shifting around on it, or did I manage not to notice, for four or five months, that one C lever was not aligned with the string?  And that the D next to it isn't equidistant from the C and E strings?

15 minute buzzer went off.  Should I save the story of the last photo for the next blog post?  It'll give me something to write about!

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Lazy days of summer

I hope I never cease to be delighted with the ebb and flow of life - from a full slate, to an empty one.  From days when there to-do list is there and waiting to be addressed, to other days when the hours stretch before me, waiting to be filled. 

Once upon a time, late in June, I began a blog post this way.  And then I remembered that I had a webinar on the fascinating topic of European Data Privacy Laws to watch while I knit.  So I tidied up my computer desktop, setting the post aside for completion after the webinar, reached for my knitting, got logged into the webinar ....

And got a chat message.  Did I have time to help out with a project?  Of course!  So, keeping an ear on the webinar and an eye on the chat window, I learned about the new project.

And then my phone lit up.  Could I possibly help out with a few tasks?  Of course!

And the blog post quietly faded into the background.  I think it lived in a browser window for three or four days before I laughed and closed the window.  My days ebb and flow, and I delight in them ... and it's definitely been a flow lately.  (Literally  AND figuratively.  Flows with External Resources, or Quick Actions and Process Builders invoking Flows, anyone?)

A quick recap of the past few weeks:
  • The counterpane is progressing.  I'm on square 37, and have decided to take a break after square 40 to knit a Print O' The Wave Stole.
  • Tomatoes and Cucumbers and Kale and Swiss Chard are delicious, fresh from the garden.  I have an oil trap for the earwigs (sardine tin + olive oil.  Dump and refill as needed) and they're not decimating things too badly.  More like vigintimating.  
  • I'm learning lots of lovely Salesforcey things.
  • I spend much of my day being officially helpful to others.  (Yay!)
  • Spraying the town for mosquitoes kept things mosquito-free for about 3 days.  And I wish I  knew what the non-mosquito bites I have are!  
  • I've been going on a few bike rides here and there. I hope to head out on one this afternoon.
  • Cinnamon blondies are delicious.  
  • Cinnamon blondies are cooking on the stove now.  Gotta run!
Quick picture ... Calendula Tea steeping

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

You know that eventful things are happening in my life when I lead off with a picture of hard water scale.
Hard Water Deposits ex Tea Kettle

I've never had such a large deposit break off in one piece before!  It was exciting. 

Vest - in progress
The vest is now completed, and the pattern spreadsheet is ready for one last reality check before I start plugging numbers into the pattern and polish it up a bit.  The vest, in keeping with a Bavarian Twisted Stitch theme, uses a lot of twisted stitches -- including double decreases: left, right, and center.  Some unventing happened to execute those decreases, and Cast On's tech editor had a fabulous way to describe their execution.  (Wish I would have thought of executing them that way!)

As I was about to sew the last seam on the vest, my Ott Light died and bad ballast-y death.  Yesterday, black yarn arrived for a test knit.  Guess what's on my shopping list for today?  A good floor lamp.

Another thing that arrived in the mail earlier in June was a set of HolstGarn Coast color cards.  Sigh.  There are SO MANY colors I'd love to knit up a sweater in.  I propped the cards up next to me so I could contemplate them while I was knitting. Maybe I should run a poll ... Take a look at The Yarnery's offerings and report back in the comments (or colors) which color you like best.

The garden is growing by leaps and bounds, and I really need to get out and spend some time weeding and training a few vines when it is a) not raining and b) too windy for mosquitoes.  The turnips need thinning; kale and chard are making their way onto our dinner table regularly.

Must run ... mom's taxi duty calls.