Hannah and the CoalBear: Sad Caturday

Hi. I’m Hannah.

It is really snowy and cold today.

The week started out fine. The weather was really warm and nice, and the nice days made the Mother of Cats feel pretty good with her breathing and joints and stuff. She went outside and worked in the gardens almost every single day and got lots of dead leaves and weeds moved away. All of her flowers and bushes that she planted last fall are green and growing again and she was really happy. She was even happy about the seeds on the weeds!

Look at the perfect dandelion puff!!

And guess what? There are tiny baby bunnies in the backyard!! The Mother of Cats has been putting pulled dandelion leaves near the opening under the deck where the babies live, and they are eating them! We even see the babies sometimes as they race past the back window, but we never see our bunny anymore… The Mother of Cats is a little concerned because one of the neighbors has been trapping bunnies and releasing them out in the wilderness, and one bunny got a broken leg somehow from the trap. The neighbor has a huge backyard garden (AKA the bunny smorgasbord), and the Mother of Cats does understand, but she is sad at the thought of our bunny being lost in the wilderness, and chased by coyotes, and… it is just sad.

Our bunny is gone.

The Mother of Cats is depressed about the whole thing, so we have been spending extra time entertaining her because… it is MOTH SEASON!!! The moths get into the house where they are the best toys ever!!! and we spend hours hunting them until, finally, the CoalBear manages to catch them. The Mother of Cats helps us hunt the moths (well, we do call her constantly for help), and would you believe that if she gets them, she puts them back outside? Like, WHY???? Luckily the CoalBear (AKA Mateo) is able to practically fly up and down walls chasing the moths and he usually gets them before she can. See, entertainment! I get to play with the moths every time the CoalBear brings them down onto the floor and this is the best, best cat toy in the world.

Then this new distraction arrived…

Yep. There is a winter storm and a hard freeze on the way.

All of a sudden, the Mother of Cats was worried about the plants and the tree outside and didn’t care about bunnies and moths anymore. She spend part of the day yesterday covering up every single shrub and rose in the gardens but couldn’t do too much to protect the tree out front.

The tree broke!

So today we are kind of having a sad Caturday. The moths are gone (They don’t like snow? What light weights they are!), there isn’t a bunny in sight, and we are both hiding in the closet because some really scary people came to make lots of noises taking the tree’s broken parts away. Why did this have to happen on Caturday?!!!

The Mother of Cats is knitting happy colored hats today because it is too soon to take all the covers off the plants.

Well, that’s it. It’s time to come out of the closet and remind the Mother of Cats that on a day like this we require cookies! Extra cookies!! And lots of pets and attention and maybe even a new toy since the moths have disappeared.

Happy Caturday, everyone!

Notes from the Mother of Cats:

Poor tree. The branches on the top of the tree came down too, but the tree service cleaned everything up and assures me that the tree will make it. The days before the snowstorm were very warm and windy, setting off fire weather alerts. Now we get a week of cold and rain. Colorado.

The hat is for the Kaiser infusion centers and the yarn is from Hue Loco (colorway is Big Yikes). The pattern is Barley Light by Tin Can Knits.

It’s the bunny circle of life. My backyard bunny was a single baby stranded in my yard when the next-door neighbor had the bunnies in her yard removed. Now the offspring are with me, munching on my dandelions, and hopefully will safely remain to entertain my kitties and warm my heart in the months to come.

Miller moths are the guys getting into the house. They cling onto the outside of doors, and when an unsuspecting homeowner opens the door, they just zoom into the house where they cause endless hours of cat entertainment. Night, however, is when they really shine as they are attracted to the lights and almost always end up in my bedroom late at night where the cats zoom across me, the furniture, through the air, and basically put on an entire circus act of astonishing aerial contortions pursuing the moths. I worry about a cat hitting the ceiling fan…

Hannah and the CoalBear: Goldenfern Caturday

Hi. I’m Mateo.

My sister and I have been very busy!!

We have been hanging out for hours at a time with the Mother of Cats while she knits and knits and knits on her new sweater. Sigh. She isn’t very frisky at all and she should get up and play with me more… instead she just reads and knits all day. Hannah is cool with that because she like to snuggle with the Mother of Cats, but I am still a kitten and I need to play!!!

You can see that she has made some good progress with our help. Yesterday she knitted all day trying to get to the end of the body of the sweater, and around midnight she finally cast off the sweater.

My sister and I were watching out the window when she finished. There is some great wildlife in our yard around midnight!!

Overnight Hannah and I knocked over a container of kitty treats, got the lid off and polished off all of the cookies. I thought that the Mother of Cats would be grumpy with us, but since we let her sleep in until late in the morning she kind of forgave us. Kind of. I did notice that she put all the rest of the kitty treats into a cupboard. Hannah knows how to open cupboards…

This morning she tried on the sweater, and it fit perfect! Well, of course it did. We aren’t exactly amateurs in knit support, after all. This afternoon she headed outside to take pictures of her sweater and I gave Hannah’s ears a washing.

Hannah: the CoalBear is the best little buddy ever.

Now it is almost night again and I’m pretty sure that the Mother of cats is going to make some supper and we will get some more kitty cookies. Yay!!

Hannah: Happy Caturday, everyone!!

Notes from the Mother of Cats: The sweater is Goldenfern by Jennifer Steingass. My Ravelry notes are here.

What have I been reading this week? Here it is (please observe that the cover matches my knitting :-)). I would talk about the book, but I really can’t without giving out spoilers. Just let me say that I enjoyed this book and it was the perfect one for a surgery-recovering BioGeek.

Those Crazy Days of April, 2022

April went by in a blur for me. I entered the month feeling pretty sick. I had just had an appointment with my pulmonologist, and he had referred me to a surgeon for a lung biopsy. Well, not what I was looking for, but necessary to definitively diagnose what type of interstitial lung disease I had. There are several types, and the treatment plans for each are different. The surgery was set for May 2nd, an entire month away. Annoyed, upset by the wait, pretty darn sick, it was hard to wait all through April.

April rose to the challenge. Never was there such an ill-behaved month. For some bizarre reason my Amazon account reset to Spanish. Do you know how hard it is track orders and make changes to your account settings in a language that you don’t read well? Then email in Italian began arriving. Someone tried to hack into my PayPal account, setting off a flurry of new password and security settings on my part. Then my Facebook feed was flooded with pictures of… owls.

Umm… the universe wants me to learn a new language? Maybe the next BioGeek post should be about owls? This is really strange. April was getting off to a rocky start…

I kept struggling with my health as the month advanced, taking care of essential items in preparation for months of difficulty ahead if I was moved into a 6-month course of chemo. I filed my taxes. I took Matao in for his vaccinations. I filed the paperwork to be excused from jury duty. I got the last vaccine I needed (shingles) before the surgery. A neighbor installed the new outdoor lighting that I had purchased before Christmas, and another neighbor will arrange with her grandkids to take care of my lawn. I ordered more oxygen cannulas, and in keeping with April craziness, 4 cases of tubing arrived instead. I made arrangements to be tested for a portable oxygen unit… first appointment is in June. April, you are killing me here! One of the side windows of the car shattered without warning. I continued to get sicker. I was sick and tired of April, too!

My wild bunny moved into the front yard where I could see it each time I went out of the garage. Very used to me now, it never runs away when I go outside. Bunny support on sad days.

As the month wore on, I began to sleep a lot. Like 10-12 hours a night. I had to use oxygen during the daytime. I was losing weight. I wrote my doctors an email towards the middle of the month telling them that I felt that I was declining, and that I was worried it was taking too long to begin treatment. I was scheduled for a series of additional tests and had appointments with the pulmonologist and the cardiologist. Oh, good, April. Now I have to drive all over town without portable oxygen.

How to respond to a worsening situation that I have no control over? I bought happy new shoes in an outrageous color.

These are the shoes that are going to walk me into the hospital!!

And then I cast on new socks that would do the shoes proud.

This yarn’s name is “Squad Goals” and dyed by Hue Loco.

The results from the heart, lung, and kidney testing came back and they all showed that… I was getting worse. My doctors conferenced back and forth, debated different treatment modifications, and came to the consensus opinion that I should have the biopsy done May 2nd. I got that email late on Friday before the surgery. Checking the physician notes attached to my last appointment I found the full text of all the test results and the email chain of discussion between my doctors. I felt very lucky: what a great team! How good I feel that the decisions about drugs and treatment is being arrived at through this interdisciplinary collaboration by my doctors, who have chosen to make this all visible to me. Knowing that, however, did not change the fact that the upcoming surgery is now a little risky.

So, I cleaned the house, did laundry, paid the bills, and got in groceries. I planted flowers in the front tubs and along the walk. I also cast on some baby booties for my next-door neighbor who just brought home a new little one. This pattern, extremely versatile, is our family recipe passed down through three generations over almost three quarters of a century. It is the same as this one posted on Ravelry.

And just like that, the month was done. I had made 2 hats, 4 PICC line covers, 2 pairs of socks, and used up 3.38 skeins of yarn. I read 6 books. I did work on a sweater, but since I’m now in the colorwork portion of the knitting I put it on hiatus to await better days.

Goodbye April, you crazy, bad-boy of a month! I want you to stand in the corner and think about what you have done!! I expect a whole new attitude when I see you next year.

The BioGeek Memoirs: Bees

The last few days have been warm and sunny, and the perennial shrubs are starting to green up out in the garden. My patch of catmint is already coming back to life and the return of bees to the garden is right around the corner.

Honeybee in my catmint last year.

I just love bees! I used to be afraid of them as a child (I mean, who wouldn’t be? They are kind of scary and they sting!) until I learned the difference between bees and wasps. Now I get a little thrill seeing the bees buzzing around plants in the garden and set boundaries with the paper wasps whenever they build a hive in my yard. (Here’s the boundary… if the wasps leave me alone, they are safe. If I get harassed or stung that nest is history!)

Of course, I am planting things that the bees like in my yard! They just love my sedum and viburnum along with the catmint, but they also spend some time with the dandelions. They absolutely love the neighborhood flowering trees. Just as I have established some boundaries with the wasps in my yard, I have negotiated some boundaries with the (male) neighbors over dandelions. They tend to get a little worked up if I don’t eradicate every single dandelion in the front yard, so I do stay on top of them out front… (sigh)… but in the back I have some carefully maintained dandelion plants that are now the size of romaine lettuces. Bees love dandelions!! Since dandelions bloom really early in the spring they are an important source of pollen for bees so I let them bloom and then cut off the seed globes before the seeds fly. Later in the year the leaves on those dandelion plants are food for my wild bunny. Shhhh… the dandelions are a secret that my favorite neighbor, Alton, doesn’t know about. He mows the front lawn for me every week in the summer, and wonders why I won’t let him do the back yard… 🙂

Bunnies eat dandelions!

Long ago I had a bumblebee nest in my back yard. These bees (they are kind of fuzzy instead of smooth, are larger than honeybees, and mine had a red band at the top of their abdomen) live in things like woodpiles or holes in the ground. In my yard the bees were living in a hive in the ground, so I built a little shelter over the nest with flagstones. The hive survived year after year, and we came to love these gentle little bees.

Bumblebee at my catmint. See the fuzz?

The bees flew exact flight paths every afternoon coming home with pollen, and if you accidently walked into the flight path, they would bounce off you (repeatedly) and hover in the air waiting for the path to reopen. It was so cute! These bees were so gentle that no one in our family was ever stung except for a cat who took a nap on top of the opening to the hive… sad boy, we found the bee clinging to his belly once we calmed him down.

Morgan: that bee was a nightmare!!!

Every year as a biology teacher my students and I learned about bees as we watched a NOVA program together called Tales from the Hive. The students loved, loved, loved this show. I attended a workshop on bees at the University of Colorado and put my name in to win a beehive for my classroom and sadly lost to another teacher who absolutely, positively did not deserve that hive as much as I did (!!!) but I’m over it now. Sniff. The students and I were all crushed at the news that I had lost…

Why learn about bees? Well, bees are especially important in our ecology as pollinators. Basically, flowers are all about reproduction, and if the pollen on the flower (the male part) isn’t carried to the female part of the flower there won’t be any seeds or baby plants in the future. Plants get pollinated by lots of different means, but many plants rely on bees. The flowers are specifically designed to attract bees, and bees rely on the flowers to survive. We benefit from this relationship between bees and plants as the resulting process produces a lot of our food. Some crops are 90% dependent on bees for reproduction, and altogether about one third of our food is dependent on bees. Believe it or not, as the blooming season moves north up the planet there are mobile beehives that travel north as well, traveling to orchards and fields, bringing the bees as pollinators for those crops. As a teacher I could use bees to teach about ecology, evolution, invertebrates, sociobiology, and bioethics. Bees were really important to me as a teacher!

So, how much do I love bees? Well, I spent a summer reading a whole series of books about bees and blogged about it here. I spent a week one June on horseback in the Colorado wilderness riding a horse named Industrious Bee.

Bee and me. What a great week that was!!

I spent another summer teaching an advanced biology program with the best student teacher ever and learned even more about bees here in Colorado because his mother was a beekeeper. When the program ended in July, I received a little gift package of honey from him. See. If bees are involved, all things are good!

How much do I love bees? Well, I knitted myself my own little bee to keep me company over the winter.

The pattern for this bee is by Claire Garland and is called Bees are Beautiful.

Yes, they are!

Month’s End Report: March, 2022

All of a sudden, the season has changed on me. There are birds in my yard, the light is brighter, my backyard bunny is once again entertaining the cats, and shoots of green are starting to peek at me from under the winter bedding of leaves that I put in the gardens last fall. The cats are much more active as they rocket from window to window through the house tracking squirrels traveling from my front tree, over the roof, and then along the back fences (this is known as Squirrel Route One in my house). The fatigue-inducing storms of winter are transitioning to spring rains, and the first flowers are right around the corner. Bye, winter. Glad to see you gone.

When the cats take a break from squirrel tracking and bunny watching they hang out on my bedroom bookshelf keeping their eyes on me. Since I spent most of the month in bed, they have been up there quite a lot.

Knitting

I really have gotten a lot of knitting done this month. Since I’m tracking my knitting for the year (well, actually, the number of skeins that I can get out of the stash), I thought that I would also give a quarterly update on my progress.

I’m continuing to knit hats and PICC line covers for the Kaiser infusion centers.

So far I’ve knitted 20 hats and 19 PICC line covers this year. Early in the month I delivered all the hats and covers to one of the infusion centers on my way to an appointment with the rheumatologist. The infusion center had a huge impact on me; it was located in a spacious room with large overhead windows; sunbeams streamed down from the windows lighting up the room. There were almost 20 stations in there, along each wall under the windows, each one with a patient receiving treatment. I was stunned. So many people! I must knit faster.

I finished a simple sweater made with merino/cashmere yarn that is like a comfy sweatshirt to wear. Also, it goes with all my shawls, cowls, and mitts.

The sweater is Cushman by Isabel Kraemer. This is the second one that I have made so I was really confident with the fit and raced right through it.

I cannot stress how helpful the cats are in getting these pictures.
I have also been knitting along on a Goldenfern sweater (Jennifer Steingass). In another couple of inches I will start on the colorwork; the three golden colored yarns are for that. I plan to shade from the lightest to the darkest as I work my way down the chart.

Altogether I have knitted my way through 894 grams of yarn this month making the grand total of destashed yarn 3,154 grams (or the equivalent of 31 skeins) for the year. Okay, I did go through bins and pulled out several hundred grams of yarn that needed be thrown out… like many knitters I have saved the leftovers from almost everything I’ve knitted; at this point I need to let all of those scraps go! I had hoped to get 50 skeins out of the stash: now I’m thinking that I might manage 100 skeins. Knitting all those hats is paying off!

Garden

The outdoor garden is still dead, and the indoor garden is kind of pathetic. I’ve been buying some ferns and a spider plant to get more greenery into the house. The cats are fans of the new plants!

All the new plants are kitty safe.

Books

I’ve been reading like a champ so far this year. Mostly science fiction since I am not in the mood for thrillers, mysteries, or anything that is going to require the serious use of brain cells. I’ve been spending long blocks of time in bed with short outings to accomplish tasks in the house in the house all year. I’ve been relying on audiobooks heavily as I can listen to them when I’m too tired to hold a book (the fatigue is real, people!), and listened to more books while I was working on the quilt top that I got done this quarter too.

I was so happy to discover this little gem!

I usually don’t listen to the forward of a book, but this time I did, and I was glad that I took the time to let the author explain his book to me. John Scalzi struggled with writing a book in 2020 that he had contracted with a publisher for. Basically, he was kind of crushed by the whole Covid situation and the book wasn’t happening. He finally had to let his publisher know that the book was a no-go, only to think of another book idea a day later. A fun book. An upbeat and slightly ridiculous book with wisecracking characters and lots of fun. A book that celebrates scientific knowledge, jobs that you love, and sticks it to people who are kind of unethical in the pursuit of money/power. A book with Kaijus: those enormous monsters of Japanese fame… think Godzilla. The exact book that I needed!!

I even bought myself a Kaiju cat tee-shirt to go with my ridiculous, feel-good book.

So, how many books have I read this year so far? 19 books! The goal for the year is 50 books, so I am well on my way to meeting that goal.

That’s it for the month.

Hannah: Have a great April, everyone!! If you should come across a Kaiju, don’t try to play with it!!

Hannah and the CoalBear: Mateo does Caturday

Hi. I’m Mateo.

Today I am on bug watch!

See that new orchid that the Mother of Cats brought home from the store? It has some little flying bugs in it. Yay!

The bugs are in the bedroom, too!!

The Mother of Cats isn’t as excited about the bugs as we are, but we are on the hunt and before she knows it we will have taken care of the problem. Aren’t we the best kitties ever?

I’ve also been helping the Mother of Cats with her new hat.

Don’t you like the color of that yarn? The color is called “Midnight Orchid” which is pretty cool because the Mother of Cats was knitting on the hat at midnight last night.

The yarn kind of matches the orchid that just started blooming last week.

I try to help the Mother of Cats in the garden but she won’t let me play with the plants. I am a really good digger and I think that she should be more open minded about it, right? Nope. She put up more chicken wire to keep me out of the orchids.

Well, I guess that is all. I have to go play with my new toy that the Mother of Cats got me last week and then maybe I can spend some time pulling down the clothes in the closet. In the evening I plan to watch the bunny in the backyard for a while and then I think that I will chase my sister Hannah around the house. She really likes to play chase-chase! Doesn’t that sound like an excellent Caturday to you?

I hope that your Catuday was good, too!!

Month’s End Report: January 2022

January is gone and we are 1/12th of the way through the new year. Outside it is very cold and snowing: perfect flat snowflake crystals are drifting down and creating a sparkling landscape.

Can you see the sparkles on the bear?

It will continue to snow all night and most of the day tomorrow, and when it clears we will have subzero temperature over the next night. That’s subzero Fahrenheit temperatures. It is eerily silent outside and there isn’t an animal track or footprint in the snow anywhere. I have a big pot of green chili started and lots of knitting plans for the coming couple of days.

I set myself a lot of goals for the year and I thought that I would check in at the end of every month with an update about how I’m doing.

Knitting:

I had this idea that I would reduce the stash by at least 50 skeins of yarn this year. (For the purpose of computing skeins 100g of yarn equals one skein.) I’m knitting hats and PICC line covers for the Kaiser infusion centers in the Denver metro area through a group of community knitters (Kaiser employees, all) that I serendipitously encountered last year. It is still early days but this seems to be a good strategy to use up lots of unloved skeins and left over yarn.

This month I produced 9 hats and 9 Picc line covers. The hats are all Barley and Barley Light by Tin Can Knits, and the PICC line pattern is here.

I have a loose goal of producing 50 hats and 50 PICC line covers this year, so I am definitely on pace.

I also started a new sweater this month. This yarn is Lush Worsted by The Uncommon Thread in the colorway Chrome. The sweater is Cushman by Isabel Kraemer.

All together I used up almost 950 grams of yarn this month, which translates to almost 10 skeins of yarn if I use 100 g/skein to calculate how much I’m reducing from the stash. So far it has been a great start to the destash!

Garden

It’s winter. Three of my orchids are going to bloom and they have been slowly, slowly growing out the stems and now the buds are really starting to look good.

I think that this plant will be giving me purple blooms.

All of the orchids are putting out new roots and I am gratified that they are looking so healthy. Hmm… did I mention that I threw away two plants last fall that were whimpy and failing to thrive? Yep. It’s not that I’m such a great gardener, but that I know when to banish a sickly-looking plant to the garage. All the plants that are under the lights are really looking good and I’m glad that I heartlessly removed the ones that looked sick.

Books:

Okay, the reason there was so much knitting going on last month has to do with me struggling with the weather and annoying symptoms associated with my pulmonary hypertension. I also pulled out The Murderbot Diaries and read/listened to all of the books in the series again.

There are actually 6 books and a short story in this series, and I just can’t seem to get enough of Murderbot. I’ve spent some time thinking about what draws me to the character and the series so much. The books are well written, interesting, extremely well balanced, and the audible books are excellent. Let me unpack the story a little for you.

Murderbot is an intelligent construct created from organic and robotic parts. It is a security unit (SecUnit) designed to handle all security/protection for human clients that contract with the owning company. SecUnits are horrifically dangerous due to their features (energy weapons in its arms, for example) and their ability to manipulate digital networks. To control them they have a governor module that punishes/kills them if they fail to follow directions or screw up in any way. The popular media presents rogue SecUnits as the ultimate threat to humans; “very dangerous, kill on sight” type stuff.

Okay, let’s be clear here. Murderbot is a slave to the corporation that created/owns it. Rogue SecUnits are the equivalent of escaped, extremely dangerous slaves.

Murderbot figured out how to hack its governor module and is now a rogue unit. It doesn’t really know what to do with itself so it conceals its rogue status, continues to work its job, and watches digital media as much as it can. Through luck it works for clients who appreciate how very special it is; they buy its contract and free it. Murderbot isn’t sure what it wants, but it is sure that it doesn’t want to be a “pet”, so it leaves. Slowly, through interactions with others and lots of episodes of The Rise and Fall of Sanctuary Moon, Murderbot comes into its own. It makes its own security contracts with clients and begins to control its own situation. Always in danger of being captured and destroyed, he learns how to “pass” for human. He makes friends, learns how to handle emotions, faces down his demons, and slowly finds his purpose in life.

On bad days I crawl under the covers again and listen to Murderbot. Murderbot binge watches serials with his friend ART (which stands for Asshole Research Transport) and I binge watch Netflix. Murderbot faces down his fears and learns to move around in unfamiliar situations; I face down Covid and take myself into a crowded grocery store to get my booster shot. I definitely channel Murderbot when I shoot someone side eye for not wearing their mask! Murderbot finds its voice and learns to speak for itself, and I learn to ask the hard questions of my medical team.

Murderbot as a role model. I can do worse.

These books are short so I polished off 10 books this month. Wow. My goal is 50 books for the year so I am in good shape.

Hannah: Have a great February, everyone!

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.

Goodbye 2021: Year’s End

This is the last update for the year 2021. You know, 2020 was a pretty bad year for both me and the world, but 2021 just plain outdid itself. THIS HAS BEEN A HORRIBLE YEAR!!!! Seriously, I have been reflecting on all the horribleness of the year, and it is multilayered in the just plain awfulness of it. Here is some of the angst, anger, and sadness in a nutshell.

If you aren’t wearing a mask these days, shame on you!! I have been in lockdown for two stinking years (!) and I am over all your anti-public health nonsense.

If you are one of the doctors who told me that there wasn’t anything that you could do for me (and to not come back), or that I had sleep apnea, or that I needed to exercise more, or that my tests showed that I was fine and you would just continue to monitor my symptoms… shame on you!!! I finally received credible diagnoses this fall (from new doctors) that explained my symptoms. You know, the ones that you ignored or dismissed all those times I came to get help… It is good to get diagnosed, but in this case it is also a mixed blessing as my condition cannot be reversed and management is going to be difficult. Shame. On. You!!!

If you are one of the people who believe that the election in the US was stolen and that the answer is to impede the ability of American citizens to vote, or to create a provision that allows the legislatures of some states to just overturn the results of elections, or to resort to violence… shame on you!!!!

Did you notice that the number of exclamation marks kept growing? That’s how much shame is attached to those targets. There, I got that off my chest and let’s hope that things go a little better in the coming year.

True to its rotten black heart 2021 went out in absolutely dreadful and ironic fashion. First the dreadful.

We are in an extreme drought where I live and everything is brown. The grass, the fields, the bushes and even some of the evergreen trees are now brown.

Last Thursday, December 30th, we had a high wind event in my state of Colorado as a major weather front pushed its way towards us over the Rocky Mountains. In the area around Boulder, Colorado the gusts were extreme (one was clocked at 115 mph) and the sustained winds through the day were around 75 mph. Several fires started and swept through dried fields and brush towards housing developments and towns with horrifying speed. There was nothing that could be done as subdivisions, stores, and hospitals were evacuated; the fire crews set up base in the parking lot of a mall where they could best defend themselves while waiting for a break in the wind. No joy there throughout the afternoon and early evening. There were heartbreaking scenes of burning homes by others covered in Christmas lights. People parked along the major freeway hoping to see if their home was still standing. The historic downtown area of a town I have frequented in the past was lost.

At around 3pm I realized that the worst fire was near my son’s home in northern Westminster. As the evacuation zone continued to grow to within a mile of him we started to make plans to get him and his pets out safely. It was a nightmare as firetruck after firetruck rushed north towards the fire line in the night past his windows. By midnight the winds had died down, the fire stopped its spread to the south, and my son was safe. Daylight the next day showed that the damage was just horrific. Almost 1,000 homes have been lost, thousands are displaced, and the hunt for the missing is ongoing. There is information about all of this here.

Then the storm arrived on New Year’s Eve.

In a cruel twist of irony, after failing to deliver any real snow all fall and early winter, the winter storm arrived New Year’s Eve with snow, icy roads, and bitter cold. Like, we started the day at 3 degrees Fahrenheit yesterday. Serious, serious cold after weeks of warm sunny weather. All those poor people who escaped with only the clothes on their backs in the wind/fire event now have to deal with this. Bad 2021, bad!!

And that, thankfully, was the end of the year.

I also finished my Kevat sweater in the final days of the year.

It is wet and blocking in this photo, but not finished. See the loose ends of yarn?

I did finish the sweater with the ribbing and I-cord to make nice open and clean edges. I decided to block and try on the sweater again before knitting on a little lace edging onto the bottom; if the length is exactly right there won’t be any lace added. I did do a little math, however, and I do have exactly the right number of stitches to do the lace. It’s a sign, right?

Mateo: Happy New Year

Hannah and Mateo (AKA the Coalbear) and I all wish you all a Happy New Year. May things take a turn for the better with the coming weeks and months.

And 2022, you had better behave yourself or I’ll be sending you out on a walk of shame, too. I do have to warn you, however, that I am a little concerned with how you are starting out…

Because this year we are going to learn how to cope with a million new Covid cases a day in the US, and I am going to deal with this whole broken heart thing that I have going on, and we are going to f*cking save democracy. Shape up quick 2022, because this is the tough time, and you had better show some backbone, because I expect you to fight like you really mean it for the things that are really important.

The Saturday Update: Week 51, 2021

Whew. I made it through the holidays okay and now I am on the downslide to the end of the year. The world is still brown out front; there was a tumbleweed on my front doorstep this morning (blown in from who-knows-where overnight), and the squirrels continue to run like crazed maniacs through the trees, over the roof, and through the leaves in the back yard. I never rake the leaves in the back as they are good mulch for the lawn over the winter… who knew that they also served as squirrel entertainment? The snapdragons are still blooming out front! It sure doesn’t seem like winter, but the days are short now and the Canada geese are here in their winter thousands with noisy flocks crossing the sky over my house late each afternoon, winging their way through the growing dusk towards the evening star and the lakes to the southwest.

Knitting

There was a whole lot of community knitting going on this year, and very little Christmas knitting. I did make several of these excessively cute coffee cup cozies that are designed to snazz up your morning Starbucks drink. I gifted them with a Starbucks card and a Snow Man cookie to some family and friends this year. Fast, easy, simple, and I hope they are the perfect thing on an outing this winter. I’m keeping my cozy in the car for my trips through the drive thru!

Pretty darn cute, right?

I also paused the community kitting for a couple of weeks to work on my new Kevat sweater (Caitlin Hunter) which is going to be a great addition to my winter wardrobe because… winter is awfully warm this year.

It is going to fit!!

I am pretty sure that I mentioned before that I am absolutely reckless with my swatches before I cast on sweaters. Like… what swatch? It isn’t like I haven’t knit this particular yarn on these size needles before, right? Still, there is that moment of anxiety when I take the stitches off the needles and try on the WIP to check for fit and length. Yay! Huge sigh of relief! I’m going to add a few more inches to the body and then I will make decisions about the bottom ribbing. I am so very happy with the knitted texture of the body since I used another stitch instead of the lace pattern in the sweater design. This is a win!!

Garden

Since it is the end of the year I’ve been kind of thinking over how things have been going. You know, kind of like that “How it started; How it’s going.” meme that seems to be popping up everywhere. Let me present to you now my jade plants.

That’s three years of growth on those jade plants and I do hope that someday they will bloom for me. Look at how well cared for they are!! Everything a jade needs plus the attention of cats.

Cats

It’s been a big year for the two cats. Little 3 months old Mateo (AKA the CoalBear) arrived in June to a desperately in-need-of-a-playmate Hannah.

Watching these two over the last 7 months has been a riot. At times I think it was a little much for Hannah (Mateo would not leave her tail alone!) but now, at the end of the year, they have finally settled down and are sleeping together: best buds and playmates.

That’s it. Have a great week everyone!

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