2022: New Year, New Goals

I’ve been working out ideas for goals for this new year. I have ended up with a lot of ideas, some of which will probably be abandoned, but still I thought I would share them to see what people think.

Knitting

  1. Oh, my yarn stash is totally out of control. I am going to do everything I can to get it willowed down this year, and the main strategy is to produce as many hats and PICC line covers for the Kaiser infusion centers. I am also thinking about asking my rheumatologist if she would like to have some arm warmers and fingerless mitts to gift to patients struggling with Raynaud’s. Anyway, I’m thinking that I should try to knit out at least 50 skeins of yarn this year.
  2. I have several sweaters all lined up to knit. This will be the year of sweaters!
  3. I have this Coco Knits book that I have been wanting to knit from. A few weeks ago I scored some great yarn from someone destashing – I know I was bad, but I couldn’t help myself. I got 6 skeins of worsted and 7 skeins of chunky yarn in greys and they are perfect for a couple of these sweaters.
This yarn was too nice to walk away from. The light grey is The Uncommon Thread and the dark grey is MadTosh yarn. Perfect for a Coco Knits exploration.

Weaving

Look! Another book to work my way through!

The poor loom has been languishing for some time now. In my defense I would like to plead kittens, but I have a plan where I will warp the loom in a closed room and then I should be able to weave. Time to learn some new stuff! Hey, maybe I can use up some yarn this way too.

Spinning

I think that I should spin this, right?!

I have been avoiding this impulse buy for some time now because the fiber is pretty expensive and I don’t want to ruin it. Whatever. This year I am going to spin this up and make something wonderful from the fiber like maybe a cowl and mitts.

Books

I keep buying books that are interesting that then get parked on my bookshelf.

I am going to read some of the non-fiction books that I bought with thoughts of self-improvement that weren’t read right away because I moved on to some space opera type book instead. Hey, I’ve had a tough couple of years and I needed lots of distractions. This year I will read at least 6 of these books. For sure. I promise. I read 66 books last year, so if I read 50 this year I should be able to manage 6 of these more non-fiction guys.

Quilts

I have made a lot of progress working my way through all of the quilting kits that I bought over the years, but there are still these two hanging out in the sewing room.

Aren’t these cool?!

I have put off working on these because they are pretty complicated with a couple of stacks of different colored fabric in each pack. Still, what is the worst thing that can happen? If I mess up in cutting the fabric I will just go buy some more… The Fiesta quilt is a wall hanging so I will probably start with that one as it will be easier for me to quilt.

Blogging

  1. WordPress is offering classes. I have been thinking that maybe I should take a class or two and become a little more competent.
  2. I have been thinking about starting a couple of other blogs, but finally decided to just add additional topics to this one. I’m going to start blogging about all the things in the natural world that I love and that are wrapped up in memories. I’m thinking about calling it … The Biogeek Memoirs. How geeky is that? Anyway, don’t be astonished if I start blogging about potato bugs, geese, and owls.

The Saturday Update: Weeks 49 and 50, 2021

December. I can hardly believe that we are at the tail end of the year already. The weather has been engaging in sneaky trickery for the last two weeks; crisp blue days with wind, wind, wind and almost no moisture. This week was so crazy that the weather warnings for the state were for hurricane force winds, fire, snow, avalanches, and good lord, who is in charge here? We have had serious weather fronts passing through leaving damage in their wake and very little moisture on my side of the mountains.

We finally got some measurable snow which brought an end to the long streak without snow in our part of the country.

The snow that arrived a week ago was only a flash in the pan: by noon it was gone and there hasn’t been anything since. Looks like we are in for a brownish holiday season. I am grateful, however, that we have been spared the horrible tornados, heartbreaking damage and loss of life brought by these systems in other parts of the nation.

Inside the house, however, it is starting to look like Christmas!!

Last year I put up very few decorations at Christmas time because… kitten. This year I have decided to surrender to foolishness and put up most of the decorations in a careful, kitten-proofed manner. I only put plastic ornaments on the tree. The tree, usually on a little table to give it height, is on the floor. Banners and wreaths that go on the walls are far from kitten claws. The usual poinsettia and paperwhite narcissus are nowhere in sight. Wrapped presents? Don’t make me laugh… kittens love paper.

They are having a great time with the stuff that is out!

Knitting

There has been some holiday knitting going on, so it has to remain secret until after gifts are opened on the big day. I have been making a few more hats for the patients at Kaiser infusion centers in my area, but who wants to look at those guys again? Let me please show off all of the progress that has been going on with my Kevat sweater (designed by Caitlin Hunter) over the last two weeks.

Ta-daa! Isn’t it looking good?!

They are hard to see, but there are bands of lace between and below the Fair Isle colorwork on the yoke of the sweater. That’s what’s going on between the ridges of garter stitch on the yoke… it is kind of cool and I like it. Once the stitches for the arms were separated the entire body of the sweater was designed to be knit in lace. I decided that I wanted a little sturdier and warmer sweater and knit a purl dot pattern that I like from previously knit Caitlin Hunter design (Misurina) and I’m pretty happy with the slight texture it brings to the body of the sweater and how it helps break up the color in the variegated yarn. Win, total win!!

Okay, now for the ugly parts of this sweater story. I made a mistake following the charts for the lace and colorwork parts of the yoke and ended up with almost 50 TOO MANY STITCHES on the needle. This is what happens when you are too stubborn to move the stitches onto a longer needle when things get kind of cramped (it was only a few rounds before the sleeves were separated from the body of the sweater) and you are struggling with a small chart (which I could have easily enlarged…) and it is late at night. I had to put the sweater into time out for the entire weekend and then moved stitches to a longer needle to facilitate tinking back almost 6 rounds of work. I also had to recover some dropped stitches… did I mention that I had already separated the sleeves from the body when the ugly reality of my stitch count hit me…

Doesn’t it all look great now?!

This sweater is supposed to be cropped. I need to put the stitches onto a holder soon so I can try it on for fit and to decide how much longer to knit the body. Did I mention that I never do a swatch? Reckless is my middle name… Anyway, that moment when I try on the sweater is a huge milestone for me. 🙂

Should I add a bit of lace to the bottom of the sweater after the ribbing? I’m thinking of doing the ribbing, binding off in I-cord, and then picking up the stitches to knit the lace bottom to mirror the lace in the yoke.

Garden

It is a boring time in the garden. I hate to even talk about it. The snapdragons and some of the other bedding plants are still hanging on in the front gardens where they are peeking out in the gaps between the dried leaves that I heaped on them to bed them down for winter. This is kind of crazy. I don’t know if I should water them or encourage them to go to sleep by heaping on more leaves and mulch.

Inside the house the indoor garden is also a little boring. My jade plants are… huge, green and boring. They are still caged in with chicken wire to protect them from the kittens (and vice versa) and so far the kittens are leaving them alone. The orchids are also green and kind of boring. The plants are all sporting new roots and three of my 5 plants from last year are putting out shoots to bloom. That’s pretty good, but still a little boring as I am weeks and months away from blooms.

In the kitchen my hanging bougainvillea is blooming again and covered in new growth.

I wasn’t sure if the bougainvillea would survive over the winter in the house but it is doing much better than I expected. Yay!

Books

Yep. I’m reading another science fiction book that matches my knitting. Space opera is just what a frustrated knitter needs while recovering from a knitting disaster.

That’s it. Have a great week everyone!

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

May you all have a wonderful holiday season.

The Saturday Update: Weeks 47 and 48, 2021

Hello December. How nice of you to bring us clear blue skies, warm sunny days, and absolutely no freaking moisture of any kind. The leaves are all gone now, the grass has turned a sad dormant brown for the winter, but all of the snapdragons are still blooming away in the unseasonable warmth and I’m still giving them water to keep them going. There is some talk of maybe getting some snow on the 10th… The squirrels rocket along my back fence every afternoon and dash over the roof to get to the olive tree in my neighbor’s front yard; Hannah rockets through the house as she tracks their movements and watches them through the windows. The great horned owl caught one of the wild bunnies last week and now there is only one sad little bunny to be seen in the evenings. I hope so much that it wasn’t my little backyard bunny of the summer that was caught, but I’ll never know for sure.

On another note, we are getting ready for Christmas!

Hannah was tremendous help as I tried to get the wooden reindeer assembled and set out front for display, and of course Mateo was the perfect kitten as I took his official Christmas picture. Do those reindeer look a little strange to you? They are much, much cuter when they have their evergreen cutting antlers on their heads, but I decided to not include the cats in that part of the assembly. Now the deer are outside sporting cute cutting from my Douglas Fir tree as their antlers.

Knitting

I’m still knitting chemo hats and PICC line covers like crazy for the Denver metro Kaiser infusion centers and they are slowly piling up in a couple of boxes in the craft room. Weekends, I have decided, are for my knitting, so I spent today knitting away on Kevat, a little cropped short sleeve sweater that has lots of character and detail.

This sweater is knitted from the top down and this is the beginning of the yoke. So far there is colorwork, a little lace, texture and bobbles. No boredom here!!

I’m about halfway through the charted yoke and then it will be time to split the sleeves off and do tons of lace through the rest of the body. The blue yarn is from Uschitita and I know that it blooms really nicely when washed and should handle the lace in the body well.

Books

I made a lot of progress on the sweater today because I am also listening to a great book while I work. Okay, I think that it is a great book, but that is because it is the final book in the space opera series The Expanse and I have been waiting and waiting for this book for months. I love this series, and it and the television production based on the books are great examples of quality story telling in any venue: that they are space opera makes it even better!!

The perfect Saturday afternoon.

I have been faithfully following this story ever since the first book, Leviathan Wakes, was published years ago. I was captured not only by the fast-paced story, but also by the well-developed characters and economic/political themes. The story has evolved through the 9 books of the series as wars were fought, mysteries solved, villains apprehended, and characters aged. There have always been some important threads left hanging (um… there are these gates that are connected to ancient aliens and their unsuccessful attempts to prevent their own extinction…), and it seems that all of these threads are being picked up and resolved in this book. I’ve been told that the final resolution of the story is great, but I won’t know for sure until I get there myself.

I have one hundred pages left: Sunday knitting!

That’s it. Have a great week everyone!

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

Remember to play nice with your toys…
and your friends!!

The Saturday Update: Weeks 45 and 46, 2021

It is finally getting cold, but there still haven’t been any official snowfall in our area. As of today we have set the record for the longest recorded gap in snowfall in modern recorded weather history for the state of Colorado. I have moved all the potted plants outside again and all indications are they will still be healthy and blooming on Thanksgiving. Okay, there was a little issue with the potted geraniums that I brought into the house a couple of weeks ago… I found a caterpillar on a geranium cutting in the indoor garden!

That dang caterpillar appeared on a shoot I was rooting… it had already finished off the African violets in the garden.

The cutting had rooted successfully, but with that caterpillar it was immediately tossed outside with the remains of the violets and all of the other geraniums that had come indoors for the winter. Poor geraniums. In a few days they should succumb to an overnight freeze. Life is cruel, little guys.

Yarn

I am still knitting like crazy for Frayed Knots, the community knitting group comprised mostly of Kaiser employees in my area. Last week one of the infusion centers that we knit for requested that we supply them with some PICC line covers, so I did a little search on Ravelry, found a pattern, and started knitting some of the covers along with the hats.

This week I produced 6 hats and 3 of the PICC line covers.

I have settled on a few hat patterns that are easy and should be comfortable for chemo patients. They are Barley Light, Barley, and the Sockhead patterns. The pattern for the PICC line cover, designed for one in the upper arm, is here. I am so happy to be putting the leftover and unused yarn in my stash to a good use.

Garden

Well, the garden sure took a hit this week. The African violets are toast and you already know about the geraniums. I am happy to report that the orchids, however, evidently weren’t all that tasty for the caterpillar as they seem to be unharmed.

These gorgeous bloomers are the plants that I bought this fall. Inside the garden, under the grow lights, the plants that bloomed last year are flourishing with lots of new growth, an explosion of air roots, and new stems for blooms are emerging!

The green shoot pointing upwards is a new stem for blooms. Yay!! The silvery new growths on the leaves below are a couple of new air roots. Yay! Happy plant.

A couple of other orchids are also putting out stems; one plant has three new stems on it. What is that liquid on the orchid, you ask? I sprayed Neem oil on all the plants left in the garden after the caterpillar was escorted out the door…

Books

I’m back to reading science fiction. The main character in the book I’m reading right now is a sentient space ship called Trouble Dog and of course the captain of this ship is a woman facing down the monsters in the dark of space. I just finished the first book in the series called Embers of War and I’m hooked. Luckily I get the audiobook for no additional cost so I can listen to the books at times while I’m knitting away on the hats and PICC line covers. I have to laugh a little as I knit and listen to Trouble Dog’s tale as I manage my yarn around my own little Trouble Cat…

Who, me?

That’s it. 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 44, 2021

And just like that, blue skies and warm sunny weather returned.

All the leaves are off the trees and the little wooden bear is longing for some snow, but the potted flowers are still blooming their hearts out.

Today was the last sunny day before the next cold front; sadly these flower are in their last bloom for the year. I plan to plant the snapdragons into the gardens in the back yard this coming week and the geraniums will be coming in to live with the cats over the winter.

Let’s hope the geraniums fare better than the potted palm has.

Huge flocks of geese now fly over my house each dusk. Squirrels chase each other down the back fence and over my roof; one got caught in a downspout of the rain gutter yesterday, setting off a panic with the cats. The last leaves are still sailing past my windows, but in my yard my trees are bare. Even though the flowers are confused, fall is now hard upon us.

Knitting

I’m still knitting hats like crazy for the Kaiser infusion centers. Yesterday I finished weaving in all the ends, took some pictures, and bagged each hat up with a little note telling the new owner about Frayed Knot, the group that I joined that handles the donations. Tomorrow I will drive them to the drop off location.

So far I’ve produced 4 Barley Light hats using MCN yarn, 2 Deco Beanies with superwash merino in DK weight, and three Anrheg hats using single ply merino wool. All the yarn came right out of the stash, and I have to say that it is kind of exciting to dig around and pull out yarns that have been languishing in there waiting for their purpose to arrive. All of these yarns were loved when I bought them, but somehow never used. Now their time to shine has arrived and I am on fire to produce as many as I can to help the group meet its goal (600 hats) this year.

Books

I finished this book after all!!

I was up into the wee hours of the morning finishing The Madness of Crowds by Louise Penney. I was a little worried that it had a topic that hit too close to home for me, but it was handled so well that I really came to love the book, and the eclectic cast of characters, as the chapters flew by. I don’t want to spoil too much, but I think that it is okay to say that this book drew heavily on the Covid pandemic (which is still going on and not ended as the book supposes) and created a character that argues, persuasively, that in a world that is limited in resources it is a duty for those who are a burden to society to submit to mandatory euthanasia. Um… wow. Pretty outrageous, don’t you think, but I can almost see it happening. There were hints of this in the worst of the surge last year before we had a vaccine when I heard people dismissively argue that the people who were dying from Covid were all old or had a comorbidity that contributed to their death. It was almost like… hey, they were going to die anyway, right? Why should this affect me? There were people who seemed to believe that healthy people should not be inconvenienced in any way to protect the vulnerable. There were policies enacted by leaders in positions of power that were designed to magnify the outbreak in an effort to reach herd immunity with little or no considerations for the vulnerable…

You know, if you think about it too much it is depressing. Enough of that. On to the book!

So, since this is a murder mystery, there is a murder that is associated with the charismatic individual who making this argument and who is heading up the movement. And the murder happens in Three Pines, of course. And there are a plethora of candidates that bring an array of social messages to the situation, and memorable richness to the story. Chief Inspector Gamache is on the case with his team from the Sûreté du Québec, his highly gifted neighbors, and some distinguished visitors. And a duck.

I really am glad I read it.

The Saturday Update: Weeks 42 and 43, 2021

Halloween. It is cold and raining outside and all of the leaves are now off my trees. The plants in my gardens are bedded down under mulch to stay safe in the overnight freezes that are on the way and the bunnies of summer are no where to be seen. The children of the neighborhood have also gone somewhere else this evening as there isn’t a “trick-or-treater” in sight; the cats and I laid in some candy but no one has come.

Mateo: We got Halloween toys!!

Knitting

I’m seriously struggling this week as I adapt to a new medication, but that is a whole other post. I did manage to get my new Snark-O-Meter shawl finished and blocked in spite of tremendous cat help. Hannah loves the blocking mats and it was a battle to convince her to let me use them for, you know, blocking purposes. The kitten, faster then seems catly possible, was the master of flashing claws and nipping chompers as I tried to pin the shawl into place; he did leave the field of battle once I began spraying water on the shawl. Yay for the sprayed water blocking method! He is a brave boy, however, and was immediately back once I started to layer towels on top of the wet shawl to protect it from cats. Not to be outdone, Hannah decided that she should burrow into the towels. Luckily I had more blocking combs.

Do you understand how all this could be exhausting?

Anyway, the shawl survived blocking and looks fabulous!!

I just love how this shawl came out! All of this yarn was from the stash, and two of the colors (the gold and the orchid) had been languishing for years as I never found the right project for them. The gold especially was a problem as it is 100% silk yarn and I felt that it needed the right vehicle to show it off. The lace of this shawl with the rich colors and varied textures is absolutely perfect! You can’t see it in these pictures but the gold yarn glows in the lace and background sections.

I absolutely have to mention that Sharon from Security, the designer of this shawl (with some help from Casapinka) was banned from Facebook this week for threatening Finn, the newest (and somewhat shady) employee in the Casapinka world. Too much snark, it seems. There are some negotiations underway because both of these individuals are… cats. Hopefully Sharon will be back next week. If that isn’t the most 2021 thing that has happened this year, I’d like to hear of any others that beat it. 🙂

Books

I finally scored a copy of The Madness of Crowds from the local library. I’m early in the book and struggling a little with it as it is about the danger of ideas, misinformation, catchy messaging, and mob action. Umm… kind of the situation right now in the US. I’ll give it a little more time and then if it doesn’t perk up I’ll be going back to another science fiction novel with a strong female character who can cope with absolutely anything that the universe cares to send her way.

I’ll close with a shot of the kitten’s tail.

This is the crate that holds my blocking towels. There’s only room for one cat in the crate. The cats ruthlessly grab it when empty shutting the other one out. Kind of silly kitties, right?!

The tail is almost as big as the kitten! Do you see how much fur is on it? Maintaining that tail is almost like feeding another cat. No wonder the kitten is always hungry.

That’s it. Have a great week everyone!

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

Happy Halloween!!

The Saturday Update: Week 41, 2021

Last week brought us some rain and cold weather. Seriously, it got so cold that I had to bring the potted plants into the garage to protect them from a overnight hard freeze. Most of the leaves on the maple tree are already down, but the tree finally got with the program and produced some bright red leaves.

Now, this is what I’ve been looking forward to!

Sadly, it is now too cold and windy for me to sit outside to admire that color in the yard, but every glance out a window makes me happy.

Knitting

The second Snark-O-Meter is finally off the needles. I still haven’t woven in the ends or blocked it, but look at all the great color interactions and stitch patterns in the shawl!

The patterns in the shawl really show off my yarns. I’m so glad that I jumped in and knit a second shawl. Sharon, Sharon, I want a little gold star for this!! (Who’s Sharon? That would be Sharon from Security, Casapinka’s snarky employee who developed this pattern. I’m pretty sure she won’t give me a gold star for finishing my shawl unless I send her some quality sushi first…)

Garden

I’m moving outdoor plants into the house to rebuild the indoor garden for the winter. I really kind of like doing this, but the cats are really happy to see plants come indoors. Mateo is absolutely torturing the large palm plant that was on my porch all summer; wait until he sees the geraniums!! I’m letting the geraniums get a little more outdoor sunshine but some others like the jade plants and the bougainvillea needed to come in now.

The cats are admiring the jade plants from afar…
and that goes double for the bougainvillea that is handing high over their heads in the kitchen!

I may have to rethink the bougainvillea as all of those blooms will be dropping off at some point and landing in my sink, but they make me happy so I’m going to see how it goes. Several of the year-round indoor plants are looking really nice right now so I’ve moved them into the kitchen to join the cheerful color of that bougainvillea. The best of the bunch is my oldest African violet.

Isn’t it looking nice?

Next week I will be focusing on getting most of the potted perennials into the ground outside and moving in more of the ones that can over-winter in the house like the geraniums. I suspect that there may be some leaf raking going on, too.

Books

Since I was spending so much time with plants this week I jumped into this book that I got from the library last month.

Years ago I went to a dinner at my boss’ house in Denver in an older part of town. Okay, this was a pretty swanky house compared to my own. There were back staircases for the servants, a library, breakfast and dining rooms, and a kitchen that was almost as big a my whole apartment at the time. Since this was a summer evening they held the affair outside in their gardens.

Gardens. Right. There were four different yards/gardens on this property. Rather than a large plot of grass with some nice trees and maybe a sad attempt at a veggie garden or a gold fish pond, this property was divided into discrete garden rooms with brick walls dividing them. Each area was planted differently to serve a different purpose and held tables and benches for people in each one. Okay, one actually had a pergola in it. It was cool.

That gardening concept is what this book was about. An old formal house with a series of unique connected gardens that are being restored to their original plantings by a talented gardening specialist. The books entwines the stories of three different generations of women with significant involvement in the history of the house and gardens with some clever parallel events to make it all hang together. It was a quick read, I learned a lot of new things about gardening, and I liked it.

That’s it. 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 39 and 40, 2021

The days are still warm, dry and sunny, but the nights are finally getting a little cooler. I spend my afternoons in the swinging garden chair on the deck, reading and knitting in the strange silence that has now descended on the garden: no more crickets, cicadas, migrating geese, or even the pit bull next door. All are now gone, and the only sounds I hear are the squirrels racing through the trees and the occasional drifting fall of leaves. The maple tree out back, usually a blaze of red color by now, is slowly turning a golden brown with a few flashes of red. Seriously? This is how you are going to finish up the year? Figures.

This is as good as it is going to get this year I guess.

The ground is covered with dead leaves as these sorry examples of autumn glory drift off the tree. We never had a freeze, and I think that these brown leaves coming down are the result.

The baby bunny of the summer has found a mate.

Over the last weekend I noticed lots of digging in the yard from the bunny, and then one night the flood lights revealed that there were two bunnies in my yard! My little guy was not all alone any more! Now my bunny, all grown up, is gone.

Next week we will finally get colder weather and perhaps some rain. There will be snow in our mountains and all of my leaves will be gone off the tree.

Summer, truly, is finally over.

Knitting

I finished the second Rock It Tee this week!

Can you see how I blended the three skeins of yarn from light to dark as I alternated them through the sweater? The lightest is at the top.

I am now down to only one knitting project left, the second Snark-O-Meter that I am rapidly finishing off with lots of cat help.

I finished up clue 4 last night and will start clue 5 today. This baby should be done in just a few more days of knitting.

Yesterday I cleaned out my little project bags, sorted yarn in the stash, and organized myself for a prolonged sweater knitting campaign. I’m tempted to start the Stephen West MKAL (Shawlography), but as I sorted I realized that I had the yarn to make several sweaters all stocked up and waiting to go. It isn’t all that cold yet, but eventually sweater weather will get here and it is time for me to switch over to sweaters and to start working my way through the stash again.

I also, through great serendipity, located a community knitting group last week that makes hats for patients going through chemo at the infusion center where I used to go to my (old, kicked to the curb) rheumatologist’s office. I know that center, located between oncology and rheumatology, as I used to sit in that waiting room every rheumatologist appointment. Why is the infusion center next to rheumatology? Because, little known fact, many rheumatology patients (along with other people struggling with autoimmune disease), receive chemo and infusions of biologic drugs. I know, only too well, what a struggle it is to control Reynaud’s Phenomenon while hooked up to an IV in air conditioning. I’m joining the knitting group and will be knitting as many little fingerless mitts and arm warmers as I can for drop off to the center along with the chemo hats.

There. Knitting plans for the rest of the year all worked out. 🙂

Garden

This is ridiculous, but all of my mental energy is focused on planting all the potted plants into the gardens (Where should I put them? This is a big decision.) and making an indoor home for the jade plants that have been outdoors all summer.

This plant tripled in size over the summer. I moved it to this large pot, but now it is… large.

I recently discovered that jade plants are poisonous for cats. Oh, no. I have had jade plants in the house for years with my cats, and never had an issue, but now that I know I’m worried about a cat/plant interaction. I have an indoor garden shelf system established to keep the plants indoors over the winter, but this pot won’t fit now. I’ve decided to use chicken wire to keep the cats away from the shelf with the smaller jades, but this one plant is going to be challenging. Ugh. I can move shelves to create more space, or I can build a cage to put over the plant, or… these are the days when I miss the greenhouse I had in my biology classroom.

Books

This is an amazing book!!

I loved, loved, loved All the Light We Cannot See, so when I saw this book was coming out I preordered it right away. When it dropped into my Kindle library I forced myself to take a break from The Murderbot Diaries to read this. Holy, Moly! Best decision ever. Cloud Cuckoo Land is a book to read and savor.

So you probably have already guessed that I am really enjoying this book. It is the tale of a ridiculous comedy written by an ancient Greek author that is preserved over time and that connects people separated by centuries who are caught up in the jaws of history. Sounds improbable when I write it down, but this works and it is really good! I don’t want to give out any spoilers, but the story moves right along at a perfect pace, going back and forth between the characters and the Greek tale in a way that links them together and brings meaning to their lives and the Greek comedy in an unforeseen manner that eerily connects to my life also. Owls are a recurring element of the stories in the book: as I read in the night it is to the sound of booming “who-who’s” from the Great Horned owls in my neighborhood. (Bunnies: make good choices tonight!!) I read on in this book that is essentially about the power and of legacy of books as I consider which of my books to leave in one of the community Little Free Libraries next week. The power of books, the legacy of lives, the preservation of who we are: a big message contained in a book that immerses you in a powerful story.

Have a good week, everyone.

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

Mateo the CoalBear: and hug a cat!

The Saturday Update: Weeks 37 and 38, 2021

Finally, finally the leaves are starting to turn in earnest and there is a rustling sound when they move in the breeze. The sky is now a gentle blue in the afternoon and there is a subtle change in the quality of sunlight as the sun edges further to the south each day; thunderstorms are a distant memory as the clouds adopt more benign shapes. I’ve taken to sitting outside in evenings to work on the computer listening to crickets while the cats romp in the house. The potted plants continue to show off late blooms but there isn’t much new growth appearing in the gardens. The baby bunny of the summer now looks all grown up, and there are low-flying flocks of geese passing over my house daily.

Fall has finally arrived!

Cats love fall! These two are rolling in personality these days.

Knitting

I’ve been knitting like crazy lately. Sharon from Security (Casapinka) took a week off from the Snark-O-Meter and I was left at loose ends: I cast on a new Rock It Tee and started knitting on that. I was really making great headway until… somewhere halfway down the body… I got bored. All that stockinette. Ugh. I began to day dream about other things that I could knit and somehow I decided that I needed to knit another little kitty to keep my knitted MacKenzie doppelganger company. You remember, my MacKnitzie that was created to look just like my personality (ahem… attitude) loaded cat that died just as Covid-19 appeared on the horizon. I still miss MacKenzie, and while I was waiting for the next clues of the Snark-O-Meter to drop, I couldn’t help looking at MacKnitzie on my shelf and wanting to make him a little friend.

Doesn’t MacKnitzie look like he is smiling?

I knitted up an Itty Bitty Kitty to sit with MacKnitzie on the shelf in my bedroom. I was thinking that the project would only take a day or two, but I had forgotten how fiddly the work could be if you wanted the final knitted cat to look realistic. I also was struggling with my old friend fatigue all last week so only a little got done at a time, but I’m really happy with the final product.

This little kitty is so fun when completed. It is designed to stand up balanced on the tail and two hind feet.

Now that I am done with the kitty for MacKnitzie I’ve gone back to knitting on the Snark-O-Meter shawl and I’m really anxious to get it done. Look at how well those classic colors go with the cats! (snark, people!!) Seriously, the cats are all over me while I’m knitting these days. Maybe they think that I should be making them cat toys or little itty bitty versions of them? Hmm… maybe I should be making little itty versions of Hannah and Mateo… or maybe a knitted mouse.

I’m now in clue 5, and since clue 6 dropped this morning I should be finishing up in just a few days. I can’t wait to show this finished project off as it just keeps getting better and better as I knit along.

Books

I am seriously reading lots of science fiction these days.

Through the fatigue of the last week I have just holed up and read lots of space opera. Today, while watering the lawns, I started to reflect on why I’m so immersed in space opera of all things.

I was in a book group that read lots of books that were suspenseful, gothic creations about women trapped in situations that were not of their own making, menaced by outside forces and individuals, and abandoned or betrayed by the individuals and/or agencies that should have protected them. Sometimes the women manage to escape their menacing entrapment, but just as often they come to a bad end. It’s a whole genre, and these books can be really popular, but I suddenly had an epiphany; these are not good books for a person struggling with a chronic, progressive disease. Okay, I’m not sure that these books are good for anyone, but they certainly weren’t good for me as I was struggling to get a diagnosis and help with my whole blue-lipped, panting for air, trying to not faint deal that I had going on. Doctors just kept reassuring me that I was fine; I was being dismissed, subjected to gaslighting, and unable to control my own situation just like some of the women in these books.

Oops. Time for a change in reading matter, I decided. I quit the reading group.

This month I am somewhere in the process of having my heart issues defined and a plan of action created. Things aren’t clear: I definitely have a pretty significant cardiac shunt, but they haven’t found it yet. They have a really good understanding of the direction of disruptive blood flow while I’m at rest, but they are trying to determine exactly what is happening while I’m up and active. I did a walk test last week (um… not sure I passed that with flying colors…) and will need to do a exercise/stress/echocardiogram test next week. This is all big stakes for me as it will determine my treatment plan going down the road…

Which brings me back to space opera. These books are all about desperate times and a scrappy group of individuals led by a strong and determined woman who is going to figure out what is happening and will eventually put things right!! The crews deal with every single emergency with creative, reality-based responses (well, using science fiction reality, that is) and refuse to ever, ever give up. They lose space ships, battles, body parts, and sometimes the future that they had envisioned, but they always, always make it through to the end with grit, determination, the support of their team, and the innovative use of technology. They are action-oriented and fearless. What ever is coming their way, they face it down, make decisions, and get to work with what they have. They are pretty much my heroes these days.

Be like Murderbot, I tell myself. If it gets bad, don’t forget to bring your blaster to the appointment. In this case, my blaster is a good understanding of my past test results and the diagnosis that they are considering, but you get the idea.

Space opera. I highly recommend it to anyone seeking resiliency in the face of an oncoming challenge of epic proportion.

Have a good week, everyone.

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

The Saturday Update: Week 29, 2021

It was a lovely week last week; hot and sunny with cooling afternoon thundershowers. Perfect. I rested up the entire week recovering from the exceptionally busy week I had the week before that and got lots done outdoors.

The new kitten, Mateo, continues to grow at an accelerated rate and is eating like a bottomless pit. He is now 3 months, 3 weeks old and is much less clumsy but still unable to jump up onto counters. Whew. No rush there. By the way, do those front paws look kind of big to you?

Hannah has recovered from her visit to the vet and all the vaccinations and is returning to her playful self. There is a little problem here, though… she wants to play with the kitten all the time and me or her toys… not so much. I’ve been giving her more attention during the kitten’s naps and she is slowly rebounding to her previous endearing interactions with me and her toys. This has been a big month for her, after all, and she is coming through it like a trooper.

Garden

The garden continues to flourish in the good weather but I have some concerns for it as there is another heat dome building and this time it will be much closer to Colorado. I took pictures of the flowers this afternoon as I’m not too sure what they will look like in another week…

There is a lot of blooming going on with the roses and for some reason the insects haven’t been munching on them as much as usual. Look at how happy and fresh these blooms look! This is the second blooming of the season and I am feeding the roses again this week in the hopes that I can get a third blooming next month.

The garden is full of volunteer plants that are popping up from things I put in the garden in years past. The big winners are snapdragons… they are everywhere! I put in a picture showing all the new buds that are emerging on the plants (2nd from left) and one with dried seed pods that already dropping seeds on the same plants (3rd from left). I am moving some of the seeds to gardens in the back flower beds as I work clearing out weeds and I’m hoping that there will be a new crop of snapdragons back there next year. I’m also seeing cute little Johnny-Jump-Ups appearing in the gardens like the little purple flower in the last picture. It’s becoming kind of a Darwinian garden in this flower bed over time as the plants that are more successful are taking over my flower bed and other places in the yards.

Knitting

I haven’t said too much about it, but I’ve been battling tendonitis in my right shoulder that was putting a huge crimp in my knitting activities for the last six weeks… the pain radiated down my arm and I lost all feeling in my fingers and some function. The concern, of course, was that my knitting days were coming to an end due to joint and nerve damage from my systemic sclerosis. My rheumatologist started me on a new drug and sent me to physical therapy and I am finally, finally, recovering the use of my arm and can knit more than a half hour at a time again. Whew! People, I am back!! Am I buying any more yarn right now… no. Sadly, no.

I got busy on a new sweater and made some good progress this week. I am making the Rock It Tee using some great speckled yarn from the stash and I am so pleased with how it is working out.

The tee is constructed from the top down and you knit back and forth while shaping the raglan sleeves and the V neck in the front. In the picture on the left you can see that I have just joined the knitting below the V neck to allow me to knit in the round (so much easier on my hand) and the picture on the left shows the raglan sleeve shaping. I am almost at the point where the sleeves will be taken off and placed on holders and then it will be simple knitting in the round to the bottom of the sweater. Yay! My next ball of yarn looks a little darker so I am going to start blending it into the current fabric as soon as I’m below the sleeves.

Books

I finished this in just a few days!

The Ten Thousand Books of January was great! I had just finished a book about books, doors, keys, and some crazy-ass magic associated with them, so I was a little worried about this one too. Nope. This was a straight forward book within a book that told a great story. I really enjoyed it and loved every minute of the books, doors, keys, words, and crazy-ass magic.

Have a great week everyone.

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