The Saturday Update: Weeks 17 and 18

Life has just been kicking my butt for the last few weeks. I have been insanely busy and struggling with my health. I need to write a whole different post (from the Blue-Lipped Zebra) to talk about what’s happening, but the short version is… we are closing in on the cause of my blue-faced breathlessness and physical therapy is a good thing, but it sure does hurt!! The weather has just been absolutely crazy here; snow, then warm days into high 80’s, followed by days of rain and another winter storm warning has just been posted for the next couple of days. Tonight there is some debate about snow… all the potted plants on the deck need to move into the garage for the night AGAIN. In spite of the weather I managed to repot lots of plants, weed and clear gardens, and also got some yard work done this week. I filed my taxes and cleaned out the office. Anyway, all of this is to explain whine about why there was very little reading or knitting going on…

So I really didn’t do a lot of stuff to blog about, but I captured some good photos during the two weeks.

With all of the crazy weather and cold snaps I thought that we may have missed the the majority of spring blooms. Nope! This week the color exploded in trees everywhere and they are looking good! Other trees in the neighborhood are full of squirrels; there are baby squirrels bouncing around in the tree in my front yard and Hannah is just over the moon with the excitement of watching them. The phlox in the front is now blooming and yesterday the buds on my trees suddenly burst open (just in time for that snow tonight… sigh). Best of all is the pair of geese that are settling down to nest at my local library. I just love Canada geese! Why look at that… spring really has arrived!!

We’ll just ignore the winter storm warning for today and Tuesday…

Knitting

I started a couple of new projects but they are still at the very early, kind of pathetic looking, stage. The project on the left is the beginnings of my Noncho (Casapinka) that is going to be a perfect layering piece for me in the cool evenings. I’m thinking that I should have some matching arms warmers too, don’t you think? The scrap of knitting on the right is the beginning of my Ranunculus (Midori Hirose). Someday it will look wonderful but it still has a way to go. I am also working along on some mitts and a pair of socks, but they are making little progress at the moment. As soon as life settles down some I’ll get more done.

Garden

Isn’t that squirrel on the base of my front ash tree cute? He is cute, but he is one of the many squirrels living in my next door neighbor’s tree. This tree, a Russian olive, is a cautionary tale of the unintended consequences of introducing species to new habitats. I guess this tree does just fine in Europe, but here in my region of North America (the state of Colorado in the US) it is classified as an invasive species. Basically a huge weed, this tree reproduces all over the neighborhood as baby trees appear everywhere, and if not removed the trees clog waterways and cause havoc in general. Part of the problem is… squirrels! The tree produces berries that the squirrels love to eat and the branches are just perfect for them to build their nests in. Even better, they are able to pull long strips of bark off the trunk to use as nesting material; the perfect home, this tree has eight squirrel nests in it!! My ash tree is within convenient jumping distance to the olive tree and serves as a perfect link in Squirrel Route One as the squirrels travel overland through trees, across roofs, and down fences providing Hannah hours of entertainment as she watches them. The squirrels carry olive fruits to far flung locations and bury them, and other bits of food that they come by, EVERYWHERE! The ground around my ash tree is all dug up with the squirrel caches and I have to pull up seedlings each year. Right now I have mothballs on the disturbed soil to discourage digging but I decided to sprinkle some Critter Ridder onto the soil to continue to discourage the little guys from digging. I headed off to my local Home Depot to get some, and… came home with the rose and the hydrangea instead. What can I say? As soon as I saw those hot, bright colors I just had to have them and all thoughts of pesky squirrels just flew out of my mind. That rose is just as bright as the picture seems and is called an Autumn Sunblaze. It is a miniature rose and I plan to keep it in a pot on the deck until fall. The hydrangea is a wonderful hot pink that I’ve never seen before, so… into the cart it went! The colors make me happy and I think even the squirrels are excited about the new plants as I’ve caught them checking them out on the deck. (They were probably looking to see if they could dig in the soil to cache some purloined garbage pickings from the neighbors, but I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt here…)

I still went back to Home Depot for some grass seed and the Critter Ridder the next day. Squirrels are cute, but they need to stop digging up my lawn!

Also, I noticed some other colors of Sunblaze roses that I want to look for. There is a dusty pink variety…

Books

I finished the Wayfarers series over these last two weeks. These are great books; interesting and thought provoking. They are rather slowly paced, but worth the time as the story slowly evolves with the characters as they confront their situations, assumed truths, and make changes in their perceived identities and courses of action. These are not adventure books, but rather social commentaries for our own time contained within futuristic settings where individuals from wildly different cultures, body types, and evolutionary pathways interact with each other. Good stuff for those who relish that type of book.

Have a great week, everyone!

Read a little, knit a little, and garden like your heart can’t live without it.

The Saturday Update: Week 16, 2021

What a week it has been! I managed to get to 4 medical appointments on 4 different days which used up a lot of my available energy and time, but now that I’m vaccinated I have turned the Blue-Lipped Zebra loose again and it is absolutely determined to get to the bottom of what is going on! (What is going on, you ask? Check out these posts from the BLZ before it went quiet in lockdown: The Blue-Lipped Zebra Report! and The Blue-Lipped Zebra Goes on Oxygen.) This week I met my new pulmonologist, got some lung testing, saw the orthopedist, and started physical therapy for my hip. Whew. It was a rough week with lots of exhausting recoveries but also some great knitting action. Anyway, the BLZ is getting ready for some blogging updates and hopes to share what’s up soon.

In the meantime, here’s all the great stuff that was going on this week:

Knitting

Right after the start of the year I lost control and cast on lots of projects. You know, if you cast them on you have to do them, right? My head was just swimming with ideas and I want to make sure that everything was captured in yarn right away before I was distracted by the latest great potential project on Ravelry. A very dangerous place for people with huge yarn stashes, Ravelry… I’ve been steadily working on all of the projects depending on my mood and interests for weeks; this week several projects finished up at once.

My Goldwing is finished!! We had several rounds of snow over the last two weeks so I buckled down and knitted myself right off of sleeve island in just a few days to get to the final wearable product. There I am wearing it on its first outing to my pulmonologist’s office. Hey, they left me alone in a room with a full length mirror on the door with my new sweater? How could I let an opportunity like that slide by? I made some minor alterations to the pattern as I worked so that the sleeves and the body would be almost the same length and also used a smaller needle then the pattern called for in the sleeve colorwork because I wanted the sleeves to be wrist huggers. The end result was the perfect project to wear on a snowy drive across town. Here’s my notes on Ravelry.

This shawl is Age of Gold by Joji Locatelli; a simple garter stitch shawl that is easy to knit, has good coverage, and sports a showy lace edging. I *loved* this yarn when I bought it, but fell out of love while working on it sometime in February. Ugh. Light blue. What was I thinking. Maybe I was struggling with cold-induced depression, but I was not motivated to work on it at all. Then I realized a couple of weeks ago that it is exactly the color that my grandniece loves, took it back out, and got it finished off to gift to someone who will give it a great home.

The first mitt is done of the Mando mitt set. I’m making these for my exceptionally knitworthy niece who loves The Mandolorian. Of course, in my family I was immediately informed that the little green guy is named Grogew; the left hand mitt does feature Mando. Since I am mailing the shawl to California to my grandniece and think I should get these mitts done and mailed off to her mother in the same box, don’t you?! These mitts have been pretty darn challenging and I plan to post more about the journey later on when I get the second mitt done.

In the middle of the week my favorite LYS posted a message about having all of the assigned pooling yarns in stock. What is this, I wondered and went to Chasing Rabbits Fiber Co. to check it out. Oh, this is knitting designed to make use of skeins that are mostly one color with a section of another color inserted into it that is about 1/4 of the length or so. Chasing Rabbits is developing patterns to make use of the yarn with clever treatments of the color sections that are intriguing; in short, there is a specific stitch or treatment assigned to the short color strip. Here I was knitting some socks with yarn like that from Chasing Rabbits that were… boring and unimaginative (picture on the right). I ripped my sock out and reknit it with an assigned pooling idea that I would purl the colored sections and leave the grey knitted. The other idea that I had was to do something to force the color sections of knitted fabric to be more random so I threw in random PSS stitches to add some fun and change the length of the color sections. I learned the PSS stitch while knitting The Sharon Show in the section called “Catnip Garden” so these are obviously the Rainbow Catnip Garden socks. I’m thinking of using a bright pink yarn for the heels and toes so I can make two pairs of these!!

Gardening

Things are stalled outside because of the never-ending march of snow storms, but all is well inside. My orchids are in a second bloom that is making things really cheerful in the craft room.

The photo on the far right is of my monster orchid last year as CosmicKnitter asked me to show my orchid set-up and this picture did a good job of it. I like to keep the orchids in pots that “breathe” like unfired clay; I prefer the ones with holes in them but they are getting hard to find. It is dry here in Colorado so I keep water below the orchids with the pots suspended above the water on pebbles if the tray isn’t already designed with channels that keep the pot above the water. Anyway, the orchids seem to like the extra humidity and they are putting out more blooms this spring.

Books

I put off writing this post for a day hoping that I would get to the end of the book that I’m currently listening to while I knit: Hamnet. I still have three hours to go so I’m not there yet… but this is quite the book so I’m going to talk about it now anyway.

We learn right away that this is a book about a young boy, an only son, named Hamnet, who dies of the plague. Two years later his father writes a play called Hamlet.

So this is a book about Shakespeare and his family. Oh, that can’t be all that intimidating to write, right? I mean… Shakespeare. Did you every wonder what type of environment produced the man who had such an impact in his field and on his actual language that hundreds of years later we still celebrate his work?

I mean, if you write about this you need to make it kind of believable, and this book does that for me. It is mostly about Shakespeare’s wife, a gifted misfit with an eerie insight into the natural world, people, and the environments around her. The language is rich and descriptive, the story slow in the enfolding, and the events cling to me through my day. Shakespeare wasn’t alone in his extreme giftedness; at the heart of it was his wife Agnes and his children who provided the essential context to his life. Through chance these two found each other and the rest is quite literally history. Shakespeare’s wasn’t an easy life; he did not have a happy childhood and was basically viewed as a failure by traditional standards until he found his niche in London. How hard it is for those among us who view the world through a different colored lens and hear the sounds of music that no one else notices: this is Agnes and her husband. These people, some of whom were in my classroom or even my coworkers, can be viewed as “slow”, “underachievers”, or “at-risk” when the actual truth is they are processing information and viewing the world much deeper than we are. They don’t respond well to the usual pressures and deadlines, but what they produce when they are ready to show their work can be remarkable. The author captures this so well in the book; misfits and geniuses, aware of everything, and yet, oblivious to the obvious. Agnes and her husband.

The world in this book, so far from us in time, is also strangely familiar as international travel and the trade in goods has brought a deadly disease to Stratford on Avon. Shakespeare is hard to locate when illness breaks out because the theaters in London are shut down for plague season and they have taken the show on the road. There are strict rules about burial because… plague. The doctor wears a… mask. There are misunderstandings and lots of misinformation including bogus cures (as in… use this toad).

Well, that’s it. I need to finish the book because it continues to haunt me. Maybe I can get that second Mando mitt started while listening to it this evening.

Have a great week, everyone!

Read a little, knit a little, and garden like your heart can’t live without it.

PS: I got my degree in biology. I am a biogeek!! Please forgive me it I botched anything about Shakespeare…

The Saturday Update: Weeks 14 and 15, 2021

Guest Writer: Hannah the Magnificent

The Kitten Mom made me this new playground during one of her short times out of bed. Don’t you think that she should paint it hot pink for me?

The Kitten Mom is being lazy and staying in bed to read a book today so I’m just going to step in here to tell you about the last two weeks. The Kitten Mom just keeps going out of the house on errands (leaving me alone!!) and then when she comes home she just sleeps and acts super boring. I need her to play with me!! I love her to use the laser light, and to throw little toys for me to chase, or to just run around the house a lot so I can gallop along with her, but NOOOOO she just reads books and sleeps when she comes home. Still, we did do some fun stuff this week so I’ll tell you all about that stuff, okay?

Garden

It is snowing outside, like almost every single day. The Kitten Mom did go outside to mess with the plants out there while I watched in the window, but she mostly just covered all of her plants with boxes and bags because they were getting cold white stuff all over them.

See what I’m talking about?

We did work in the indoor garden this week because the Kitten Mom decided to move a bunch of orchids from one pot to another one. What is up with that?? Most of the plants have finished blooming so maybe she was trying to make them happy again… I don’t understand why she did this, but I did have a lot of fun playing with the wood chips and the pots, and then there was the WATER! I really love water.

The Kitten Mom moved the plants into bigger pots with this damp wood chip stuff around them. Now she has so many plants on the shelves under the lights that there is almost no room for me anymore. Almost. I mange to squeeze myself in there anyway and it is kind of fun because the Kitten Mom always rushes over to pay attention to me when I do it…

Knitting

I have sleeping on the bed with the Kitten Mom every single evening while she knits on stuff. I like to chew on the the yarn, but she doesn’t like that too much. I also like to groom the knitted stuff until it gets soft and fuzzy, but she kind of gets really excited and takes stuff away from me when I do that so mostly I don’t do it any more. Mostly.

We have really made a lot of progress on her new purple sweater. She is now finishing up the last sleeve and I like this project because it is perfect to sleep on. Except she keeps moving it around a little too much for me to get completely comfy…

It is better when she knits socks because then I can sleep right on her nap without purple knitted stuff hitting me all of the time.

Books

What can I say. The Kitten Mom reads a lot and I like that when I want to sleep too, but it gets a little old when it is time to get up and PLAY for awhile. What is crazy is the Kitten Mom listening to books while she knits. So strange. At least when she is reading I can sleep on top of her, but this knitting and reading thing is kind of weird if you ask me. I bring toys to her to play with, but nope. She mostly just reads.

She thinks that this book is really wonderful!

The Kitten Mom finished that book in the picture this week and I thought that she would get up to play with me, but nope, that did not happen. She immediately bought the sequel to the book and went back to reading. She didn’t even start up my laser light for me before starting the new book!

Now it is almost evening and that means that it is time for me to get my tuna dinner!! I like my dinner almost as much as playing, so this is a great time of the day. Then the Kitten Mom and I will be back to knitting and reading and maybe a little nap or two. I love the Kitten Mom.

Maybe we will play a little after our after-dinner nap.

Notes from the Kitten Mom:

  • I’ve gotten both doses of the Pfizer vaccine and have started making more trips out of the house including shopping trips. I got my hair cut, people!! I’m also getting all of the medical testing that was put on pause a year ago finally done. It is so good to get out there again, but exhausting. Hannah is so thrilled when I get home she just flings herself down on the ground in front of me and wiggles around in joy. Then we get cookies. What a perfect pandemic companion this little kitten has turned out to be!!
  • The sweater is Goldwing by Jennifer Steingass. I’m now finishing up the second sleeve and hope to wear it next week in the next round of snow storms.
  • I have gotten several new orchids in the last few months and decided to repot them now that they are (mostly) done with blooming. I use a mixture of wood chips and sphagnum moss for my potting soil since I live in a pretty dry climate, and mostly my orchids do well after I move them to new pots with this new soil around them.
  • There has been a sting of weather systems crossing the state that bring with them snow for the plants outside and trouble for me. Good thing I had the whole series of The Murderbot Diaries to read to keep myself entertained. I love these books!! I checked them out of the library but now I’m thinking that I should just buy them because I will be reading these books again!
  • The sequel to A Memory Called Empire is the book A Desolation Called Peace. These are really good books; rich characters, complex political intrigue, beautiful writing, spaceships, and cultural dynamics that are an echo of the series of books about the Roman occupation of Britannia that I read earlier this year. I have just arrived at the part of the book where we get to meet… aboreal, water loving kittens. And aliens. Of course. This is space opera, after all.
  • I have to take Hannah to the vet for a checkup and her shots…

Have a great week, everyone!

Read a little, knit a little, and garden like your heart can’t live without it.

The Saturday Update: Week 13, 2021

Spring has arrived here in my little part of the world. The weather is balmy, the sky is endless blue, and I hear birdsong every morning now. Yay! I headed off the the nursery on Friday and bought some nice bedding plants that can withstand a spring snowstorm or two and planted them that afternoon. Look at what else I found!

So cool, right? My front rose garden is covered with these little white flowers and the occasional crocus as pops of color. Some of my perennials are putting out new growth and I am feeling pretty good about getting the outside gardens going again. I think that all of the rose bushes made it through the winter, but in another few weeks I’ll know for sure. Please, no big snow storms, Mother Nature!!

Knitting

I kind of set a goal for myself early in the year to knit a pair of socks each month, so late last week I went into knitting overdrive and got March’s pair of socks finished. They are nothing fancy, but they are done!

These guys were knit with Classic Sock yarn from Spun Right Round in the colorway “Hellbent”. This yarn is a 4-ply hard twist merino yarn that is advertised as perfect for socks, so I took a chance and cast on. It’s a knitting experiment! If they hold up to wear okay I have some more yarn like this in the stash just waiting to join them in the sock drawer…

Once the socks were done I went back to knitting the Goldwing sweater and made some progress. I have now finished the body and am working my way down the first sleeve; Hannah has been tons of help with the sleeve knitting… NOT! I have to flip the sweater around while working on the sleeve and that makes the knitting look like a cat toy to her. Still, we are making good progress.

Books

Have you ever found yourself reading books that had similar themes? Without meaning to I have gone down the rabbit hole reading books about… artificial intelligence and the personhood of human-like constructs.

These books ask the question, “What is personhood?” while taking you on adventures that are engaging and action-packed while forcing you to consider why some individuals have lesser rights than others. In A Closed and Common Orbit the artificial intelligence of a ship (Lovelace) moves into a robot body after a catastrophic failure and reboot that makes her continued presence on the ship uncomfortable. It’s a rocky, and illegal, transition but over time Lovelace, with the help of her irrepressible engineer/friend Pepper, is able to move into a life that is hers alone.

Then there is Murderbot. Oh, dear. I am currently consumed with Murderbot. Imagine being a highly skilled and intelligent construct of organic and machine parts that is designed to provide sophisticated services to clients who hire their services from security corporations. Known as SecUnits, these constructs are lethal bodyguard units capable of multiple types of responses; they can conduct electronic warfare and control other units (like drones) while shooting their way out of any ambush or hazard; retrieval and secure safe passage for human clients is their specialty. They are lethal units, valuable corporate possessions, and their compliance with corporate priorities and directives is controlled by implanted governors that “punish” any failure by the SecUnit. They are “things” and have no rights. Except… what if a SecUnit is able to hack the governor and can begin to make decisions for itself? Meet the hero of The Murderbot Diaries as it goes rogue and begins to find its own way in the universe. I love the Murderbot!! This is Space Opera to die for with a main character (snarky, media-watching, anxiety-ridden, loyal to its friends) that grows on me with every single new book. Who could have thought that a Murderbot could be so human as it struggles to deal with… humans? I just started the 5th book in the series today and I am seriously upset that I have to wait for the next one to get published.

Lucky for me I have Klara and the Sun waiting for me in my library. Klara is an artificial intelligence. Klara is solar powered. I can’t wait to meet Klara.

Hannah: Klara can’t be as cute as me!!

Have a great week, everyone!

Read a little, knit a little, and garden like your heart can’t live without it.

The Saturday Update: Weeks 11 & 12, 2021

Life has been busy and I’ve really gotten behind on everything. Hannah had her first birthday last week:

Hannah: I’m a big girl now!!

Seriously, I was so busy and worn out over these last two weeks I barely got any reading or knitting done. Adding to the energy drain was my second dose of Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine and three weather fronts that barreled across the state last week. I am grateful that the snow that these storms dumped was manageable this time, but each one took a toll on my joints and breathing. That’s okay though… did you notice that I got my SECOND VACCINE SHOT!!! This is just huge! I am starting to schedule medical appointments right and left as it is finally time to get some attention for my very badly behaved hip and breathing issues. Bring it, Mother Nature. I am ready to take you on!! The Blue-Faced Zebra is emerging from a year of strict lockdown and is on the move again!!

Also, it is now spring and the birds are back and I am so happy to see green shoots of grass again. It has been a really long year, but it is finally getting a little better.

Knitting

I’ve been pretty sporadic with the knitting and I’m kind of limited to simple stuff right now because my hands are NOT HAPPY with all of the running around and weather events, but still I am making some progress.

My Goldwing sweater is getting longer in the body and I am debating how much more to knit before I start the ribbing at the bottom. I often finish the sleeves at this point and then come back to finish off the body as I’m always running short of yarn, but this time I think I can do things in the usual order as I bought an extra skein of yarn.
I’ve also been working on these simple ribbed socks using yarn that one of my sons gifted me with for Christmas. This yarn is Classic Sock by Spun Right Round in the colorway “Hellbent”. I really wanted this yarn, but it looked awful after I wound it… all brownish and muddy looking with some color sadly peeking out. I stuck the wound cake back into the stash to hide it for a few weeks. Needing a small project to take with me on my adventures out of the house, I pulled the cake out last week and cast on socks; it was already wound and I was in a hurry. As I knitted I fell in love with the yarn again. Now the colors sparkle in the mostly grey field and the brown elements have receded into the background. Who knew that would happen? Today, in the picture, the sock looks mostly pink. This sock yarn has been a learning experience for sure.

Garden

Poor garden. It has been so neglected lately, but the plants are still hanging in there. The best thing that is happening garden-wise are the microgreens that I have growing under the lights with the orchids.

I have been eating lots of microgreens these days. Full of nutrients, easy to digest, lower in fiber, this has been a great thing to add to my diet. These greens are broccoli and taste great; I’ve discovered that they work well added to almost everything so I manage to eat some every day. Take that, scleroderma!! I’m growing them in the Hamama system that I got for Christmas and I just reordered more seed quilts because I’m really liking them.

Books

I finished up several books over the last two weeks; let’s just chat about two of them, okay?

I was so in love with World of Wonders when I started reading it. I just loved the way the author blended her joy with the natural world with her family and life experiences. Then as I read more I began to become less charmed as her interactions with nature seemed more forced and some of the magic was slipping away in her writing. By the end of the book I had gotten over her and was thinking that I could do better job writing about my own love of nature and my blended experiences. The author shared experiences from trips around the world; for me the continual moments of joy that have been my encounters with nature that are truly home grown. I was thinking of all of this as I drove east last week and passed a big herd of pronghorn antelope grazing in the Plains Conservation Center near my house. Pronghorn antelope!! I love pronghorns… I could tell you stories about pronghorns… I hadn’t seen pronghorns for at least three years, and there they were, two large groups, just as I was thinking about writing about my lifelong love of all things biological. It’s a sign. Be prepared for some upcoming “Tales of a Biogeek” on the blog.

Now to chat for a few minutes about We Begin at the End. Why did I read a book with a quote on the cover about breaking readers’ hearts? Oh, it also said that it was impossible to not keep turning the pages. Well, that part was also true. This book, constructed so cleverly that even the most astute mystery reader will miss some of the underlying themes, is a tragedy of Shakespearian proportions. The town in this book and the inhabitants are, quite frankly, broken. Badly broken to the point of being almost incapable of functioning, and yet they do somehow. Tragedies in the past have set in motion a series of events that bring unintended consequences that are both catastrophic and ironic for all of the main characters. My heart was broken, but at the same time there was a type of peace and balance in the ending. What a mess these people made of their lives; what a story this book tells. I miss my book group sooo much as this was absolutely a book that should be talked about with other readers.

Hey, did you know that today is National Respect Your Cat day? Yeppers, it is. Here are all the cats in my life in their most “You may now respect me” poses.

Hannah and my Grandkitties Jonesy and Maya will now accept your respect!!

Have a great week everyone!

Read a little, knit a little, and garden like your heart can’t live without it.

Enough is Enough

Life has been really challenging for the last two weeks, and yesterday was perhaps the worst. My son and I drove south on the Boulder turnpike yesterday afternoon, returning a borrowed car to the owner. An emergency vehicle, lights flashing, screamed past us on the turnpike, heading north towards Boulder.

A mass shooting in a grocery store in Boulder, Colorado, was underway. The grocery store is one that my son and I know well as it is situated a few blocks from where he used to live and is across the parking lot from the store where I learned how to knit and spin. I can’t count the number of times I crowded into the Starbucks shop in that store with my friends.

Boulder, Colorado is the home of the University of Colorado, and houses thousands of students and their educators. Boulder is a liberal city that enacted a law restricting people from possessing or selling an assault weapon within city limits three years ago; about 10 days ago that restriction was removed in a court ruling.

Boulder is the city that I moved to from California as a young wife and mother. I learned how to spin, dye, and weave fiber in Boulder. I bought my first fleece there and stopped every single year when I headed up to the Estes Park Wool Market.

I returned like a migrating bird every summer to Boulder to take continuing education classes there to maintain my Colorado teaching credentials. I camped with my friends at the high alpine lab facility in the mountains above Boulder and spent a summer there doing field research. My favorite sushi restaurant is in Boulder. My heart will always be in Boulder.

Today my heart is broken.

This is the third mass shooting to occur in my state of Colorado that I have an actual connection to. Other mass shootings have happened that I am more remotely associated with, but they are linked to other members of my family.

I wrote about my experience with and sorrow about the shooting at Columbine High School years ago. Then I wrote about my grief and outrage in the aftermath of the theater shooting where I live now, Aurora, Colorado. Today I am once again writing in the aftermath of an unbearable loss of life because someone with a weapon designed for war used it on other American citizens.

Ten people died yesterday, one of them the first police officer to respond to the shooting. He was the father of 7 children. In spite of his efforts, 9 other people are dead.

I once asked a class of students if they had ever seen someone who had been shot by a gun. Almost a third of them had.

An entire generation of students has now grown up practicing armed intruder drills and fearing for their safety in public places.

I refuse to believe that there is nothing that can be done to stop this.

I am angry. I have once again written all of my congressmen asking for reasonable gun control. I am ready to take to the streets.

Anyone care to join me?

I’m that lady with the purple cane and some fire in her eyes.

Enough is enough.

The Saturday Update: Week 10, 2021

Good grief, there is a blizzard outside! This has been a crazy week with lots of trips out of the house, but it looks like I’m going to spend the next few days dealing with snow. There is already 15 inches on the ground and more is on the way as the storm is expected to last until sometime tomorrow.

Knitting

I have been making progress on my Goldwing!! Check it out…

I finally made it through all of the colorwork and now I’m just racing along in the stockinette body.

I am really happy with how the colorwork looks and now that I’m going down the body I should take the sweater off the needles to try it on for fit and to see what the length is on me. I laughed to see that there is now a Goldwing KAL being launched by Jennifer Steingass in her Knit.Love.Wool Ravelry group as the pattern just turned 1 year old. Talk about bad timing! If I had only waited a couple of months to cast on this sweater! I struggle with the Ravelry format for groups, but maybe I will check out the group and make a better effort to figure out how it all works. It’s okay to join with other patterns from Knit.Love.Wool, and I have two more of her patterns that I plan to knit this year so I could jump in with one of those. I have to add that I am discovering this pattern to be extremely well written with lots of meticulous detail.

A new KAL launched today from Casapika (and Sharon from Security) that has sent me back into the yarn stash to poke around to see what I can put together for a cute little shawlette (Raspberry Cordial) with two contrast colors. This is the Anne of Green Gables KAL that I am talking about, and it is a short little one that will only last two weeks. I need one skein of tonal or speckled yarn with a couple of mini-skeins as accents to the main color. Of course Hannah helped me as I did this…

Hannah: there was a lot of digging in containers of yarn… I helped!!

I finally settled on three different yarn combos for the shawlette:

Now I have three options. The one on the left will have the raspberry colored yarn for the main color and the purple and gold would be the accents. Cute, huh! However this is not something that I would probably end up wearing a lot… I have had the Backyard Chicken combo for years and it would made a shawlette that I will wear, but it is kind of… not exciting. The third combo, plums and grays, will made something that I would wear a lot and is the more safe option. To be honest, I have lots of knitting already and probably won’t cast on right away, but a knit-along is so much fun, and I love being part of the Sharon Show community on Facebook, and how long would it take to make a little shawlette… I’m pretty sure I can find needles in the size that I need…

Garden

A new orchid has joined my garden. I may be giving away some jade plants to make room for the orchids soon…

Books

I’m still in Britannia.

I’m hooked. I finished the 5th book in this series last night and the 6th book is already downloaded onto my Kindle. To my joy there are several more books in the series. 🙂

That’s it. The snow is still coming down and my area is currently experiencing white out conditions. It’s hard to be certain but I’m pretty sure I have more than 2 feet of snow outside right now so this is going to be a huge storm. It is a mess and there is lots of shoveling ahead when this finally stops. Good times!!

It’s nice to have something to break up the knitting…

Read a little, knit a little, and garden like your heart can’t live without it.

The Year Alone: Reflections on Wonder, Luck and Hope

There is a storm on the way. These things look a little unbelievable on the weather forecaster’s computer display, but there seems to be a massive low pressure area cut off from the jet stream sliding relentlessly towards a part of the United States that will set up a big weather event. Snow. Lots of snow. Maybe feet of snow. I’m pretty stocked up but I needed a few items for my weekend cooking, so I headed to the grocery store late in the day to grab them. Oh, oh. The store was packed and the shelves were already emptying out. Shoppers radiated urgency as they raced down aisles disregarding the one-way Covid-19 traffic patterns. New shoppers were pouring in the door as I checked out and there was a whiff of panic as they passed me. This is crazy! How much snow is really coming, I wondered as I loaded my bags into the car and escaped the chaotic parking lot. I hadn’t seen anything like this since the early days of Covid-19 as the lockdown approached…

The lockdown. This week is the anniversary of the first Covid-19 death in my state, Colorado, and in just a few more days it will be the anniversary of the lockdown that started my year at home in isolation. So many people have been sick, and way too many have died. So much has been lost by so many people; this is the greatest tragedy of my lifetime. For me, however, in strict isolation, the year has rolled by with me in my own little world mostly disconnected from the greater world outside; my story is a lockdown story, not a Covid-19 story. I have been disappointed by people who kept me trapped in my home by refusing to wear masks or to comply with public health recommendations, and brought to tears by the kindness of strangers. A year is a long time; looking back now it seems like it passed in a flash even though I had some real struggles along the way.

Last night one of the local news programs had people post the last picture on their phone before the lockdown happened. Here’s mine.

My son’s kitten Jonesy in a tube attached to the cat pillar. He’s a 6 months old kitten in this shot.
Jonesy today as a handsome young adult at 18 months old.

This year of isolation has been 2/3’s of Jonesy’s life and the entirety of Hannah’s life as she was born within the first few days of lockdown in the middle of March. Looking at Hannah and Jonesy it is so obvious how long this year has been. Looking at Hannah and Jonesy it doesn’t seem all that bad, but of course this has been an extraordinarily tough year.

I sewed some cloth masks early on and wore them on the few occasions I had to leave the house: a science geek who had read way too many books about epidemiology, I suspected airborne transmission based on anecdotal reports from the New York City outbreak. That mask picture is the 2nd one on my phone after the start of the lockdown. As the debate about mask efficacy raged in online forums I wore mine anyway and ignored people who made negative comments. Almost a year later I was wearing two masks, one a highly regarded Vogmask, as I got that first dose of Pfizer vaccine.

“Do you trust the vaccine?” asked my neighbor yesterday. “Absolutely,” I replied.

I feel very, very lucky to get this Pfizer vaccine. Through chance I have a degree in molecular biology and worked for years in an immunology research lab. The molecular trickery used in this vaccine to harness my immune system to protect me from Covid-19 is the best thing that happened all year in my opinion.

I’ve been assigning lots of labels to this year spent mostly alone with my little tuxedo kitten, my books, and my bottomless pit of a yarn stash. This has been the year of astonishment. The year of disappointment. The year of living dangerously. The year of setting priorities. The year of realigning values. The year of healing. The year of decluttering. The year of absolute outrage. The year of lies and fake news. The year of masks. The year of Zoom. Finally, today, it is the year of luck and wonder.

I do want to apologize for my use of the words luck and wonder. There is no real luck in a pandemic at all. I absolutely know how awful and devastating this has been for so many people: how profoundly unlucky so many of us are that this happened to us right now in our lifetimes. The mutation and jump to humans of the coronavirus that causes Covid-19 was an event that has been anticipated and feared for a long time. It’s like waiting for an earthquake in California (The Big One) that will be massively destructive. You know it is coming, but you don’t know when or exactly where it will strike, and how devastating the damage will be. You prepare for it and hope that you are ready. How ironic, after growing up in California waiting for The Big One to hit, the crushing event of my lifetime came from a virus. In spite of the basic awfulness of all of this, I am learning to value the little crumbs of luck that came my way during my time in strict isolation while other people recovered so much of their lives and I was left behind.

I am so grateful for the luck, the random chance events, the technology, the human kindness, and the science that helped me get through this year.

My wonderful pandemic kitten was a failed adoption returned to the shelter and rejected by everyone else before I arrived to find her alone standing in a little cat tunnel. The last kitten left in the kitten room; her 6 litter mates had all found forever homes days before. Returned, rejected, all alone: the one thing that I needed. How lucky is that?

That’s little abandoned kitten Hannah on the left, 6 month old Hannah in the middle, and Hannah tonight hanging out with me while I type. Hannah was the one thing that I needed to pull me out of growing sorrow and a sense of abandonment when I realized that the the pandemic was raging unchecked in the USA as the result of a deliberate policy set by my government.

I was diagnosed with nocturnal hypoxia and received the oxygen equipment 5 days before lockdown. How lucky is that? Because of the oxygen I have been steadily improving for months.

I can order anything that I need online and have it delivered to the house in just a few minutes, hours, or days. Seriously, almost anything. A hamburger? It’s on the way!! A case of paper towels? My Instacart shopper is on it! A pair of new sheepskin slippers? Amazon makes it happen! More yarn… yes!! A plethora of indy yarn dyers will ship me my heart’s content. What would have happened if this pandemic hit in the 1990’s? How lucky that the technological infrastructure that allows all of these supportive services to exist is there for me and everyone else who needs them.

Every time I stream a movie on Netflix I feel lucky.

I was raised in the 50’s and 60’s: I can home cook from scratch and have returned to the meals of my childhood. Comfort food in a modern crockpot. How lucky is that?

I have a SMART PHONE that does everything that I can imagine doing. It banks for me. It remotely checks me into my doctor’s appointments. It tells me the route to drive to come home after a long day in a medical center. It connects me to so many other people in Facebook forums. It answers all of my questions: a couple of YouTube tutorials can handle any crisis. I can text all of my friends and family no matter what is happening outside. I feel lucky, people!!

I met with my primary care doctor via Zoom. I feel grateful for Zoom, people, even though most people in America hate its guts by now.

Knitting and reading groups have sprung up online that have connected me to wonderful, supportive, and positive friends from all over the world as we share our books, knitting, and cats. Then there is this blog. I tell you, I feel so lucky that this is all possible.

The Sharon Show, a MKAL run by Sharon from Security, a snarky cat who loves whiskey a little too much…

I can get unlimited ebooks and audibooks (well, as much as my bank account will allow…) instantly delivered to my Kindle tablet. I feel lucky.

In my year of isolation, oxygen, and limited adventures out of the house my painful joints have settled down, my kidney function has improved, and my red blood cell count has fallen into normal ranges for the first time in years. I am doing much better in many ways. Okay, I’m looking at a lot of medical testing to identify the cause of persistent chest pain, and there is still the problem of the severely damaged hip joint, but I’m in much better shape at the moment to tackle this then I was a year ago. I feel lucky.

Winter will end and the garden outside will come back to life soon. I feel lucky!!

I spend too much time wondering about things. Left alone, I have a lot of time for my imagination to run wild as I wonder about everything. I wonder if my roses all survived the dry winter. I wonder if the vet will yell at me for not getting Hannah in for her shots this year. I wonder what would have happened if this pandemic happened 20 years ago. I wonder what if it hadn’t happened at all. I wonder if I should throw away so many of my belongings as I declutter. I wonder why do I have a rare disease (systemic sclerosis) that appears to share some characteristics with Covid-19; what were the chances of that? I wonder when the Big One will come. I wonder if I should write a book. I wonder how I should combine colors of yarn in my next knitting project. I wonder what is happening with the Covid-19 long haulers. I wonder why some Covid-19 long haulers have improved after getting their Covid-19 vaccinations.

I wonder why, one week after my vaccination, I feel significantly better then I did two weeks ago.

I am actually looking forward to shoveling some snow this weekend.

In the greatest of tragedies there are still little crumbs of luck and rays of hope.

May our bad times end soon and we all have days of wonder, luck, and hope.

The Saturday Update: Week 9, 2021

This was a crazy, busy week. I made two major treks across town to medical appointments, pulled out the power drill and made repairs to the indoor garden, polished off two books, reintroduced myself to my spinning wheel, and made some major knitting progress. People, I ordered a new phone with an awesome camera!! And in the middle of the week this other really exciting thing happened…

I got my Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine!!

I’ve been cleaning out the cupboards (this is all your fault, Highland Heffalump!) and discovered some really nice roving that I bought years ago at the Interweave Yarn Fest. Look at it!! This shining softness is handpainted 50% yak/ 50% silk… about time to do something with it, don’t you think? I decided to add a little spinning to my days.

I started with the magenta roving and quickly remembered that I don’t exactly love spinning silk as it is hard for me to smoothly draft in my usual long draw, but the finished product is worth it. Right now I’m just trying to get back into the spin of things and hopefully this final yarn (which will be lumpy and pretty artistic with its uneven twist and thin stretches) will make a stunning (and arty) cowl some day. I am still thinking about how to tackle the multicolored roving… by the way, these fibers are from Greenwood Fiberworks. Anyway, Hannah thinks that the spinning is great fun and I’m starting to enjoy the zen of spinning again as I get the hang of working with the silk.

Knitting

I finished my socks and really buckled down and worked on the Goldwing sweater this week. I’m happy with the socks, and the sweater is slowly growing in spite of the exceptional assistance from my feline knitting supervisor. I have so many sweaters all kitted up waiting for me to get to them, and the cold weather is going to be gone before I know it, so I’m pretty motivated to get at least one sweater done this month. I’m more than half way through the colorwork yoke so the speed should really pick up in a few days when I’m finished with the colorwork and the sleeves stitches are placed onto holders. Of course, that’s when I get to try it on to see if it will fit…

Garden

Hannah likes to explore get into trouble in the indoor garden EVERY SINGLE TIME I work in the craft room. No wonder I’m having trouble spinning a smooth thread. She stands on the light fixtures as she climbs up onto the top shelf of plants, and wouldn’t you know it, both of those fluorescent grow light bulbs burned out last week. Funny. I wonder how that happened?

Hannah: It is a mystery. Also, the plant that jumped out and landed on the floor last night is also a mystery…

I tried to order more light bulbs online and quickly discovered that they are no longer made. I eventually decided to replace the light fixtures and bought LED grow light stands that attach to the shelves in a way that makes them virtually Hannah proof. The light is kind of a funky pink, but the plants seem happy so all is good.

The garden is pretty cheerful these days as my microgreens are looking happy (little do they know that they are going to be jumping into a blender in a couple of days when I make a smoothie…) and my newest African violets are blooming like crazy behind them. I just love that color pink! Perhaps inspired by the violets, the orchids are entering a second round of blooming and the latest plant is just now getting ready to open its buds; as an added bonus it looks like the orchid will coordinate smoothly with the blooming violets. Maybe the plants like Hannah knocking them around after all.

Books

I am completely hooked by this set of mysteries now.

I am completely enchanted by the Gaius Petreius Ruso mysteries. Ruso and Tilla are back in Britannia now, married and looking to settle into a new life together. Ruso wants/needs a job to make that happen, and the two of them become embroiled in a case of two missing tax collectors and the vanished taxes they were transporting when Ruso accepts a job as an investigator. This book sailed smoothly along as I listened to it while spinning and knitting, and I feel that the author has definitely hit her stride with the series. Ruso and Tilla have grown as characters, old friends have reappeared in this new plot, and the murders ( there are always murders, it seems, when Ruso is on the case…) and intertwined conspiracies are well developed and told in a straight-forward fashion that is easy to follow in an audiobook. I was up late into the early morning hours finishing this book and will be downloading the next installment in the series tonight. Hey, I have a sweater to get finished and this series is the perfect companion for me and the kitten as we work away.

Have a great week, everyone!!

Read a little, knit a little, and garden like your heart can’t live without it.

Postscript:

Hannah eating microgreens in the garden while I write this post…

The Saturday Update: Week 8, 2021

Wow, the week just flew by again. We had lots of snow in the middle of the week, I had a great appointment with my new rheumatologist, and Hannah got the new toy of her dreams: an electronic flapping fish!

Almost a foot of snow arrived overnight in the middle of the week.

The medical center where I went for the appointment was in the heart of Denver and I had to drive fairly near my favorite yarn store on the way back home. Did I stop to look at the yarn? Duh… yarn addict here! I found the perfect yarn to replace the yarn I swiped from a sweater kit to make a new wrap, some fabulous blue speckled yarn for a fade, and more grey yarn because… I need grey in my life! Having scored more yarn again I buckled down and focused on the knitting to get at least one project done during the week.

I finished up Julie’s Wrap (Joji Locatelli) during the snow storm and it was really nice to throw on to wear around the house the rest of the week (and the weekend!) I used a dusty black cashmere blend yarn that doesn’t photo all the well, but it is extremely versatile and cushy to wear. The ribbed edging is slow to knit but very nice with the garter stitch body of the wrap. Can you make out the additional points built into the edging to give it some more interest and a little flutter detail? That would be the extra points at the top and bottom of the wrap in the right-most picture, but those little added-on points are also on the long edges towards each end. The points and bobbles make the wrap even more fun to curl up in to read a good book on a cold, snowy night. If a kitten joins in it is even better!

The other knitting that was going on this week was my pair of February socks. Okay, they didn’t quite make it, but they should get done in the next couple of days and my feet are totally waiting for them to enter service.

This is my own tried and true 64 stitch sock pattern using Hue Loco’s Phyllis Sock in the color #Trending from their 2020 Fall color lineup. I’m just loving how this colorway looks on these socks.

I polished off a couple of science fiction books that I liked but don’t feel up to discussing until I read another book in the series. I started a book last night, however, that I feel compelled to talk about right away…

Oh, my goodness! I’m three chapters (stories) into this book and it is so compelling and engaging that I am pretty sure that this is going to be the best book of the year for me.

A nice young couple lives across the street from me. Two summer ago they planted a little tree in the front yard of their house and babied it with deep soaks of water using a 5 gallon bucket with a tube to slowly siphon the water from the bucket to the roots of their baby tree. I have to be honest, this tree was kind of pitiful to look at: about 6 feet high, it had only a few bare branches on it. I would look out my kitchen window in the mornings all last winter hoping that this pathetic stick of a sapling would leaf out in the spring okay…

Spring came and the tree produced some hopeful leaves. I have to admit that I was a somewhat amazed. Then we had heavy spring snow that almost did the tree in, but a few leaves hung in there after the melt down, and a couple of weeks after that the tree produced immense white clusters of blooms. Look at that, I thought! This little tree, not too promising at the start of its life across the street, was a little rock star for sure. Those blooms on the stick of a start-up tree totally made my mornings!! One evening I went across the street while they were working in the yard to ask what the tree was: a catalpa tree.

World of Wonders has a beautiful drawing a biological organism to start each chapter/story. This is the drawing for the first chapter.

Unbelievably, the World of Wonders starts with catalpa trees; the author’s memory of sheltering from the heat under these trees, her mother’s place of work, the racism that her physician mother faced in her professional life, how social norms have changed over the last few decades, the immense catalpa tree on the university campus where she now teaches that she passes each day on her way to class, and the strong commitment and joy that she finds today in her work.

Just like that I was sucked into this book. The next chapter features fireflies, and after that peacocks. All of these have strong emotional connections to me and events in my life, and like magic as the author relates her sense of wonder and joy of nature interconnected with her family and life I am propelled into something of the same. This book is amazing, and I highly recommend it based on what I’ve read so far.

Have a great week, everyone!!

Read a little, knit a little, and garden like your heart can’t live without it.