22 February 2018

Three Days of Limited Fun

This past weekend was a holiday weekend in the U.S. - it was Presidents' Day.  We had a three-day weekend at work, which was great.  Usually I would have a bazillion plans in my head, and do maybe two of them, but this time around something specific was happening:  this past Tuesday, I was scheduled for a colonoscopy.  Ugh.

Over the years, I have learned that prepping for this procedure is a slog for me.  Most people fast for a day, use the solution prescribed by the dr, have the procedure, end of story.  That was what I tried to do about the first four or five times, without success.  Apparently I am one of the few people who have an extremely long colon.**  Mind you, I can't win the lottery, but I can be one of the fewer than 2% of the population with an extra long colon.  Sigh.

What does this mean?  It means I get to fast for three days - two of them strictly liquids, and the first day I can have some breakfast.  To say this is unpleasant is making it a family friendly statement.

So on the one hand, I was lucky enough not to have to use an extra day off from work on Monday, since we were already off.  But it meant that it was a long weekend in more ways than one.  So in honor of Three on Thursday, I am sharing Three Days of Limited Fun.

Day 1:  I am allowed to eat breakfast on this day.  Ever since reading on Ellen's blog about some biscuits she had made, I wanted to try the recipe.  So I gave it a try.  My results were good but mixed, since I am not good at determining the thickness of dough - so some were not as "biscuit-y" as they should have been.  But it was my first try, and I'm calling it a success.  If you like biscuits, try this recipe - these are really really yummy!

So my baking success made me very happy on that day.

The first day is never too awful, since I've at least had something for breakfast.  And though I would have liked to have some dinner, missing it on that day did not make me overly miserable.  I think having the Olympics to occupy my time definitely helped.

Day 2:  OK, I woke up hungry for breakfast.  Or anything really.  I had a cup of tea and some jello and decided that reviewing and organizing my stash was way overdue, and that it would be an excellent activity for that day.  I try on a regular basis to do this, because I accumulate yarn in various ways other than by purchasing it myself.  A lot of people give me yarn that someone has given them or that they received when grandma or Aunt Tilly died or downsized to a nursing home.  I'm not a yarn snob, but a lot of it is just not stuff I'm that fond of, or the colors are ones I don't like.  Also, there are bits of yarn left from projects where I know I will never ever want to use the yarn again!  

Whenever I do this activity, there are also yarns that I have that I really like, but realize I'm never likely to use.  Those yarns get a one-time reprieve, but at the next go-round, if I haven't been inspired to use them, they go to the donate/give away pile.  

This time, I had a lot of things that I was not keeping.  Most of it I put into a box to take to Interim House for their Knitting Club.  I've donated yarn, magazines, needles, etc. here for years, and it always makes me happy because they are so incredibly happy to receive it.  The coordinator told me that it NEVER goes unused!  Then there are a few skeins I put aside to give away to certain people.  (If you decide to donate to Interim House, please let me know and I'll forward you the info for the knitting group coordinator.)

In any case, this activity took the better part of the day.  After which I was tired and hungry, and had a headache from not eating.  Let's just say the furniture even started to look tasty.

Day 3:  This is always the worst day.  I always wake up with a KILLER headache, and of course cannot take anything for it.  I'm grumpy, and tired, and miserable even more than just any given day.  I start to think even more than usual that everyone in the world should just DIE.  I have hardly any energy.  

The plan was to spend the day knitting, reading, and watching the Olympics or anything else that appealed at all.  I didn't do quite as much knitting or reading as I had wanted to do, due to my headache and difficulty concentrating.   The Tim had the day off, so we watched the Olympics and some shows we'd recorded.  Then in the evening, I had to start the prep for the next day's procedure.  The less said about that, the better.

So, I obviously survived and lived to tell the tale.  The procedure was successful (thank you GOD), and I don't have to do it again for three years (last time I only got a 2 year reprieve, so that extra year pleases me), and though I don't feel really great, I can at least eat and drink what and when I want to.  Fortunately, I drink a lot of liquids anyway, so it's not hard for me to do the prep liquids-wise.  It's everything else that makes me miserable!

I think I did pretty well this time around keeping myself occupied while fasting.  Even if I'm feeling hungry, when I have something to keep me busy, the distraction keeps me from focusing on wanting to eat.  

But it's not pretty all the same.  

Here's hoping that all of you reading only ever have average-sized colons ... ;-)

**The Tim says this is medical proof that I'm full of s**t.  He's a laff riot.

21 February 2018

Words and Stripes

Hello there - it's Wednesday, so we've just about gotten this week under our belts.  Yesterday and supposedly today, it's supposed to be in the mid- to high 70s, so we are getting a little bit of spring to tide us over.  Of course, on my way to work, I was behind two girls who looked to be in their 20s, and they were both dressed in tank tops, shorts, and flip flops.  One said to the other, "Now that the weather has changed, I spent last night putting away all of my winter clothes.  It felt so good!"  I can only wonder if it will still feel good when it goes back to being winter.  Then again, who am I to judge?  Maybe she's a glass half-full person ...

At the moment, I'm working on two knitting projects (soon to be three).  One is not really that photographically interesting, as it's just plain stockinette for a while on a darkish blue yarn.  Not much to see, and even harder to photograph.  So for Unraveled Wednesday, I'm sharing the other project, my Vanilla Valentine Socks in progress:

As you can see, one is ready to have the heel turned, and the other nearly at the heel flap.  Since the yarn is so happily stripey, I'm just making plain vanilla socks.  The yarn is from Must Stash, and I've had it in my stash for a year or so.  The colorway is Be Mine, which I think is appropriate for February, don't you?  I do have to say that I had forgotten how much fun it is with self-striping yarn to watch the stripes unfold!

I'm also currently involved with two books - the one above, that being a language and word nerd, I am loving!  I can however, easily see that for a lot of people, it would be a total slog.

I've also just started The Amber Spyglass in audio form.  I'd read the two earlier books in this series, but had never gotten to this one.  And since the author just published a prequel which I'd like to read, I decided it was time to finish the series.  I'm not very far into it yet, but am enjoying it already.

And what have you been up to, knitting- and reading-wise?   Anything you particularly love in either area?

18 February 2018

Finally an FO!

This year has involved a lot of knitting on my part, but as for finishing ... well ...

In my defense, some are bigger projects, and some are long-term (Cozy Squares of Memory Blanket) - but finishing a pair of socks?  That shouldn't have taken long at all, and yet it did.  But they are finally finished as of a week ago and here they are.

Project:  Basic Spats
Pattern:  Classic Socks for the Family, by Melinda Goodfellow
Yarn:  Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock, in the Spats colorway
Needles:  Size 1 US
Modifications:  None
Notes:  I've had this yarn in my stash for a couple of years, and decided that I would use it for the first project of 2018, to make a pair of socks for The Tim (I bought it with him in mind).  I started out using the Blueberry Waffle pattern, but when I got to working the heel gusset (yes, more than halfway through), I realized that the leg would look too different from the foot to suit me (I had planned to just do plain stockinette on the foot).  So I frogged back, and decided to just go with the plain rib.  In the end I'm glad I did because I like the way they turned out.  But it took me a while to then finish them because basically by the end I had knitted 2 1/2 of the same sock, and I was tired of it!  But when I realized that it was nearly the middle of February, and I was still working on my first pair for the year, I pushed to get them finished. 

They are now blocked and happily put away in my Box o' Socks for this year.  You may recall that last year, my Box o' Socks were unofficial, since a) I had not officially joined the KAL, and b) they were not all fingering weight.  Well, this year, both of those are true again, but I'm also including some pairs that I'm planning to knit for The Tim.  As far as I'm concerned, socks are socks.  And since it's my own KAL, I can make whatever rules I want!

Here's an "artistic" shot for you to enjoy.

I'm already well into my second pair of socks for the year, a pair for me, and so far, so good.  I could possibly finish them during February, but I've also told myself since March is a long month, it's OK if I finish them in early March because then I would still have time for a pair for that month.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.  :-)

16 February 2018

A Poem for This Friday

Letter Beginning with Two Lines by Czelaw Milosz
by Matthew Olzmann

You whom I could not save,
Listen to me.

Can we agree Kevlar
backpacks shouldn't be needed

for children walking to school?
Those same children

also shouldn't require a suit
of armor when standing

on their front lawns, or snipers
to watch their backs

as they eat at McDonalds.
They shouldn't have to stop

to consider the speed
of a bullet or how it might

reshape their bodies.  But
one winter, back in Detroit,

I had one student
who opened a door and died.

It was the front 
door to his house, but

it could have been any door,
and the bullet could have written

any name.  The shooter
was thirteen year old

and was aiming 
at someone else.  But

a bullet doesn't care
about "aim," it doesn't

distinguish between
the innocent and the innocent, 

and how was the bullet
supposed to know this

child would open the door
at the exact wrong moment

because his friend 
was outside and screaming

for help.  Did I say 
I had "one" student who

opened a door and died?
That's wrong.  

There were many.
The classroom of grief

had far more seats'
than the classroom for math

though every student 
in the classroom for math

could count the names
of the dead.

A kid opens the door.  The bullet
couldn't possibly know,

nor could the gun, because
"guns don't kill people," they don't

have minds to decide
such things, they don't choose

or have a conscience,
and when a man doesn't

have a conscience, we call him
a psychopath.  This is how

we know what type of assault rifle
a man can be, 

and how we discover
the hell that thrums inside

each of them.  Today,
there's another

shooting with dead 
kids everywhere.  It was a school,

a movie theater, a parking lot.
The world

is full of doors.  
And you, whom I cannot save,

you may open a door

and enter a meadow, or a eulogy.
And if the latter, you will be

mourned, then buried
in rhetoric.

There will be 
monuments of legislation,

little flowers made
from red tape.

What should we do?  We'll ask
again.  The earth will close

like a door above you.
What should we do?

And that click you hear?
That's just our voices,

the deadbolt of discourse,
sliding into place.

13 February 2018

A Perfect Rainy Day

When I don't have to slog back and forth to work in a downpour, I love rainy days.  They just seem to provide a chance to slow down, and either do nothing at all, or tackle a project that you want to do, but find excuses not to when the weather is nice.

This past Sunday was a serious rainy day - starting overnight, and just pouring until Sunday evening.  It had been in the forecast, so I had already decided I wasn't going to make any other plans to do anything that required being outside.  And that worked out perfectly, because when I can, I try to remember on the Sunday prior to Ash Wednesday to make some Hot Cross Buns.

I'm not much of a bread maker - The Tim has that down to an art, and bakes bread at least once a week, so that works for me.  But I have always liked hot cross buns, and in our family, they have always been something we had during Lent, rather than at Easter as many on Facebook have pointed out in such a lovely fashion.  (I mean, really, is there nothing that someone can't find to "correct" you about???)  Of course, that always meant store-bought or if we were lucky, bakery versions of hot cross buns, but that was fine.

Years ago, when we lived in Chicago, I was perusing a Prevention magazine one day at lunchtime when I had forgotten my book and was at the mercy of what freebies were around the lunchroom, and I came across a recipe.  I decided to be adventurous and give it a try, and I was beyond pleased with the results.  So that became a yearly tradition, except for years I completely forgot, or last year, when I was in my cast for a broken ankle, and standing for any length of time was uncomfortable.

Over the years, as with any recipe you make over and over, I've tweaked things a bit.  This year, I decided that rather than adding only the cinnamon and nutmeg in the recipe, I'd just put in an amount that seemed right to me.  Turns out, that was one of my best ideas ever - this batch is seriously tasty!

So Sunday morning, I gathered the ingredients, mixed things together, and put the dough in a warm place to rise.  Then I sat down and did some knitting.

Then it was time to punch down the dough, let it rest, and form it into the individual rolls, which had to rise again.  So I did that, and sat down and did some reading.

I put them in the oven to bake, washed up the mess of dishes I'd created along with breakfast dishes, took them out of the oven to cool, and then took a shower.   By then The Tim was home from work, and we caught up on our days, and had dinner.  After dinner, I did the icing, cleaned up, and he did the dishes (our deal is that one of us cooks, the other washes the dishes).  And then we watched the Olympics and I did some more knitting.

Now *that's* what I call a perfect rainy day, and a nice end to the weekend!

Here's a shot of the buns before baking.  As you can see, the recipe makes a lot.   Since they freeze well, we will have them for breakfasts during all of Lent.

And here they are, baked and iced.  Boy did our house smell good!

We were laughing, remembering a few years back when I made a batch, and then we went out for about an hour.  When we got home, Dug had helped himself to about 10 of them!  He was so pleased, we just couldn't even be upset.  And fortunately it had no bad effects on his system, if you get my drift ...  we only wish we still had that problem, I have to say.  :-(


I'm glad so many of you enjoyed my Knit-taalik story, and I only hope we can get a group going at work, that would be excellent.

Today at work was also really cool.  They are renovating two of the dioramas in the museum, and the glaziers were here to remove the glass (the panels are about 200 pounds each!).  It was so nerve-wracking (for us, for them it was their work), but really cool!  And then, I came back up to my desk and was able to see the restored LOVE statue go past on its way back where it belongs.  As I mentioned on Facebook, it was actually worth coming to work today.  Though unfortunately, now they expect us to do something.  Work really does cut into my day, you know?  

12 February 2018

Paleo Knitting

Or, When Science and Knitting Meet!

As you may have gathered from reading various posts, I do not have a close relationship with many of my co-workers.  Some of them are just like anyone else you might meet - pleasant, but we don't have anything in common other than where we work.  Others are - to be perfectly honest - downright disagreeable.  This is not really a problem, as I would just as soon spend my free time with people other than those at work.

Having said all of that, there are a few knitters, crocheters, sewists, etc.  A few years ago, someone tried to start a lunchtime knitting group.  I went a couple of times, and it was fine, except there was one woman who felt the need to criticize everyone else's work, so I gave up on that.  That woman has since moved on, and right before Christmas, one of the people from that group and I were talking, and we thought we might try to get a group together again, and focus not just on knitting, but any kind of craftiness or making.  Of course, everyone knows the most important thing is to think of a name, right???  (Not really, but work with me here.)

I thought of a name, but it was knitting-centric.  So even if that won't end up being the name of the group (should said group actually come into existence), we decided we needed to use the "character" as our mascot and logo.

Are you familiar with Tiktaalik roseae?  I mean, you really should be.  (Not really, but once again, work with me.)  Tiktaalik is a pretty important discovery, evolutionally speaking.  And one of the team of paleontologists who discovered it is our supervisor, so I said if we wanted to suck up, we should name our group Knit-taalik.  (This discovery also landed said supervisor a visit to "The Colbert Report," which pleases me to no end.)  Well it turns out that we were completely enamored of this name and idea, and so we *had* to bring it to life somehow.

Well, our biggest obstacle is that neither of us has any drawing capabilities.  We knew what we wanted, but neither of us would be able to get even remotely close.  And that is when we realized that we had the perfect person right here at work in the form of Jason Poole.  Jason is one of the nicest, funniest people here, and he is just as happy to do something whimsical as he is something scientific.  So we mentioned Knit-taalik to him, and met him over a lunch hour to discuss it.  He loved it, as his mother and grandmother were both knitters, so he "got" our ideas.  He said he would do some sketching, and get back to us.

Today he brought us the resulting image, and it was even better than anything we were imagining!  Recently, the Academy changed its logo (don't get me started on that), and frankly, everyone agrees it looks a lot like a ball of yarn.  Well, Jason incorporated it into Knit-taalik without making it obvious to anyone who wouldn't know.  Also, the discovery of the actual fossil was made in the Arctic, so he/she needed to be warm.  Again, Jason knew just what to do.

Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to Knit-taalik:

(copyright Jason Poole 2018)

It was a nice start to the work week, let me tell you!

09 February 2018

It's Friday. I'm Not Complaining.

Ahhh, Friday, I do love thee with all of my heart and soul!  Your arrival means the weekend will start as soon as I leave the building where I work, and that is always a good thing.

Admittedly, I did have the day off yesterday, but still, Friday is the best.  :-)

This has been quite a week, I gotta tell you.  And I also have to warn you that you will be faced with one more post about the Philadelphia Eagles, in the form of our day at the celebration parade.  But I don't have my photos sorted out yet, so that will likely be this weekend.  In summary, it was a blast and even The Tim enjoyed it.   ("Look!  It's Colin Wentz!" [more about that below])

Monday I must admit I was running on fumes - but then again, so was nearly everyone else in the city.  Wednesday afternoon I left work an hour early to go to my appt with the endodontist.  Not only was I leaving work early to go to the endodontist, but it was POURING cold, icky rain.  Somehow that seemed appropriate, but it was nonetheless not something I was looking forward to doing.  As it turned out, he determined that the tooth in question did not need a crown replacement, rather it needed to come out altogether and then be replaced by an implant.  So now my teeth are turning against me, how unfair!  Yesterday we had the day off work because of the parade, and today all of sudden it's Friday!  At least the week has ended on a high.  :-)

I've gotten a lot of reading done, and am finally finishing up that sock - just a little bit more of the leg to go, and then the toe - yay!  Yesterday after we got home and were watching the rest of the festivities on TV, I also swatched for my Next Big Project, which I hope to cast on during the Olympics Opening Ceremonies tonight.  Right now, it's at home drying after soaking and being blocked.  I hope my gauge is good, so I can actually start it, but that remains to be seen.  :-)

As for the weekend, tomorrow is going to be busy, and then Sunday I'm on my own, as The Tim will be working.  It's supposed to be a rainy day here on Sunday, so I'll probably stay put with the kitties.

BTW, if you have sent me an e-mail for any reason in the last 10 days or so, and haven't heard back, I'm not ignoring you - we just found out that our Internet provider has been dealing with a glitch in our area where some things have gone through and others have not.  They told us it should be resolved today at some point.  I've been able to receive and respond to blog comments, but haven't gotten a lot of other stuff (except spam which of course always seems to get through).  I'm sure your message will show up once things are working again, and I promise to respond!

So now for the story about The Tim and his sports knowledge.  Of the two of us, I am more interested in sports in general than he is - he pays enough attention to follow things in general, but doesn't always keep things straight.  Enter two football player that have been talked about a lot this year:  Colin Kaepernick, who was the person who first knelt during the national anthem to protest social injustice, and Carson Wentz, the Eagles' quarterback who zoomed through the season and then was hurt towards the end.

This is Colin Kaepernick:

This is Carson Wentz:

The Tim keeps getting them mixed up (hence the "Colin Wentz" comment above.)  As you can see/tell, for most of us, they have the following in comnon:  1) they are both male, 2) they both play football, 3) they both have the first initial C.  But The Tim either cannot remember which is which, or he combines them into one incorrect person.

It's been an interesting football season in our house.  :-)

Have a good weekend!

05 February 2018

Joy in Mudville!!!


Every single person I passed this a.m. on my way to work was smiling.  And looked tired.  I got a grand total of 4 hours of sleep. 

I regret nothing. 

E-A-G-L-E-S!  EAGLES!!!!!!

02 February 2018

Happy Groundhog Day!

Be careful out there ...

And watch that first step ... it's a doozy!

Have a great first weekend in February. :-)

01 February 2018

February Has Arrived

I am one of the few people that I know (well or even in passing) who loves winter.  I love the dark.  I love the cold.  I love the feeling that I want to be cozy and comfy.  I love snow, though I hate ice.  The only thing I don't like about January is that the holidays are over.  But then I think about the long weekend holidays that will be showing up, and that gives me something to look forward to.  As long as I have something - anything, no matter how small - to look forward to, I can get through just about anything.

But now January has moved along and February is here.  Which means that Valentine's Day is on the way, which is a day I like.  BTW, in case you were wondering (and I'm certain you were not), I'm not a fan of "Galentine's Day."  Ick.  Anyway, this year, Valentine's Day is also Ash Wednesday, which means anyone who gives up candy for Lent is a fool.  I mean, the next day, all the chocolate in the world is at least half-price!

But I digress.  Besides it being the first day of a new month, it's also Three On Thursday, so here are Three Things I'm Looking Forward To In February.

1.  Sports!  I don't generally get overly excited about the Super Bowl, since teams I like don't often make it.  But this year, the Philadelphia Eagles are there, and I would love for them to win.  However, just the fact that they got that far has put everyone in such a good mood, that it's been both funny and nice.  Plus, unlike some teams of the past, this group of players are a bunch of good guys - they interact with and contribute to the community, both here and all around.  They have a sense of humor about themselves that makes them fun to watch.

And then - the Winter Olympics!  I love watching the various events, and every single time think that it must be amazing to even be there.  Plus, I can get my fill of the luge, which truly fascinates me ...

2.  Pip's birthday.  We celebrated both Pip and Jetsam's birthdays on Valentine's Day, and it will be bittersweet this year without our sweet Jetsam.  But it will be fun to concentrate on Pip, since I can guarantee he'll have a LOT to say about it!  He loves attention, and loves to comment on everything.

3.  Chinese New Year.  We always celebrate Chinese New Year by making a Chinese-inspired feast, which is a lot of fun, and weather/schedule permitting, we like to go to the parade in Chinatown here.  However, since this will be The Year of the Dog, I've told The Tim that it means we should take it literally and try to find a new family member.  We're not in any hurry, but both of us are ready and hopefully we will find a perfect pup.  We will of course, make sure that whatever pup it is gets along with cats.  I always used to tell Dug that there were only two rules in our house:  1) You have to be nice to the kitties, and 2) The kitties come first.  He was always just fine with that.  ;-)

So I hope you have some February things to anticipate as well.  I will admit to getting tired of being around people who are so grumpy all of the time, and so I have to make myself remember the stuff that *I* actually like!  Let's hope it's a good month all the way around.