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: Weeks 35 and 36, 2021

The heat is hanging on and the cats and I are totally over it at this point. Yesterday we set a new heat record in my state: 99 degrees Fahrenheit. The sun is a sullen red ball in the sky and the sky is slate white with smoke from the west. The heat is unrelenting, there has been almost no rain, and fire season is still going on, and on, and on… Should summer be ending soon?

“Not yet!”, say the plants and wildlife in the yard. The cats have been busy chasing late season houseflies and the trees are abuzz with pulsing cicada sounds. There seems to be wildlife everywhere all of a sudden as the lawn and garden recover from the intense sun (but not the heat) of July and August. I even had to chase a little garter snake out of my garage yesterday! Summer is being especially tenacious, but I am seeing some hints of fall as flocks of geese fly over my house and the first leaves on the trees are turning.

The baby bunny is now hanging out in the front yard entertaining the cats as they watch from the front door. Do you see all of that debris on the sidewalk and street in the picture of the bunny? That is the mess being left by the squirrels as they harvest the Russian olives off of my neighbor’s tree. There is a really cute squirrel with an exceptionally fluffy tail digging holes under my trees to stash food for later… not nice, little squirrel!! Speaking of fluffy tails, look at what is happening to Mateo’s tail!! This kitten is getting a lot fluffier than I thought he would…

Garden

Everything that is pink is just flourishing at the moment.

My Autumn Joy Stonecrop is just covered with bees and other plants in containers on the deck have decided that they want to bloom too. Even the roses by my driveway have decided to get a last bloom in. For some crazy reason it is all of the pink plants… even the hydrangea is putting out some new blooms with pink edges. It makes me happy to see all that color coming back even if it will be drowned out by all the fall colors in the trees and shrubs in a week or two.

Knitting

I had several quiet days following my right heart catherization procedure last week (okay, I also slept a couple of days afterwards) and I ripped right through the next clue on the Snark-O-Meter. If you haven’t been keeping up with all of the snark, the Snark-O-Meter is the latest MKAL shawl by Sharon from Security (Casapinka) and I am having a blast this time.

It is getting too big to show off the fun stitches in this project in one picture so I settled for shots of each clue. The top left is clues 1 and 2, the bottom left shows clue 3, and the picture on the right is clue 4. Look at all of those great and interesting stitches and use of color!! I’m going to get a ton of use out of this shawl.

Since I finished the shawl in just a couple of days after the clue was released, and because Sharon is taking a week off to let people catch up on their knitting, and since I was admiring all things pink in the garden, I pulled out my new Rock It Tee that is being knit in a pinky/rusty colorway called Cinnasizzle. The actual yarn isn’t quite as hot pink as it appears in the pictures, but it is full of clay, pink, and rust colors that are just too fun to ignore. I’ve been binge watching Billions on Amazon Prime and knitting like crazy this last week with a nebulous thought that if I really apply myself I can get this sweater done before Sharon releases the next Snark-O-Meter clue in another week. Ha! This is clearly impossible, but that never stopped me before! To try is all. I’m below the armholes now and it is just knitting in the round for the next 15 inches or so…

Mateo is now 5 and a half months old. Isn’t he getting handsome?

I’m still waiting for my cardiologist to contact me with the next steps in the ongoing Blue-Lipped Zebra project. Things are really slammed right now in the health field as there are lots of Covid-19 patients and Covid long-haulers who need help, and my cardiologist is pretty overwhelmed with the case load at the moment. (How do I know? My pulmonologist, who is also slammed, told me. I feel so bad for them.) It is a little hard to be patient and to wait my turn, especially since some of those people who are bumping me back in the health-care line are the unvaccinated.

Last week I was mocked in public by someone for wearing a mask. Umm… retired high school teacher here. I called him out on it and he immediately stopped.

But still, it’s a little shocking that it even happened.

This is the 20th anniversary of 9/11. What a sad, horrible day that led to unpredictable outcomes that were far beyond my imagination at that time. How sad it is to reflect on all that has happened, and continues to happen, in America.

I plan to knit my way though the reflection, waiting, and sadness this week. You all be safe out there!

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 33 and 34, 2021

The end of August, and things are still hot here. The lawn struggles in the heat and the cats go to ground in the coolest parts of the house during the day. The smoke is gone, however, and I’ve been going out in the evenings to water and do some yard work almost every day. Someday, soon, autumn will come, but so far it doesn’t seem to be in much of a hurry…

The kitten is 5 months old today!! He and Hannah are pretty inseparable now.
Except in the worst heat of the day. Then it is every cat for themselves around here.

Covid-19 has exploded in the US over the last few weeks, mostly the Delta strain of the virus. I have always been careful since there was some concern that the vaccine wouldn’t give me good protection because of one of the drugs that I take to control my systemic sclerosis; now I rarely leave the house and when I do walk into a store I am double masked. Since I am hanging out at home I’ve been on a “one little thing” cleaning campaign that is really rewarding in small ways. Each day I target one little project: wash the upstairs windows, clean out a drawer, weed out a flower bed, or sort and dispose of old stuff in the garage. I still have bins of teaching materials from my days in the classroom stored away… well, I used to. It was hard, but most of that is now gone. Every week my trash cans are stuffed full and things are nicer in the house. The Covid situation is bad outside my little home, but I am soothed by the gradual improvements that are happening in all of my drawers and rooms as the clutter and dirt disappears.

Every cloud has a silver lining, people!

Garden

My baby bunny is gone. Here he is in his last picture before he moved on the the larger world outside my back yard eating a dandelion leaf.

When the new fence was installed I was pretty sure that the bunny would find his way out of the yard as there were a couple of new gaps under the gates. I can see a new bunny-shaped gap under the new boards that sure looks like there has been some squeeze under the fence action; happy days little guy. The cats will miss you but it is good to move on to greener pastures (and not eating my lawn!!) as you grow up.

Knitting

I am deep in the world of the Sharon from Security (Casapinka) MKAL Snark-O-Meter. I knitted like crazy for several days to get my shawl through the first two clues.

I am through the first two clues (clue number 3 arrived this morning) and I am really happy with how things are going. My problem is that once I finished the clues I had some free time on my hands, so…

I cast on and started another shawl. I messed up the color sequence on this second one, so it has some major Sharon Snax going, but I love it anyway. Now my dilemma is whether to continue with shawl number 2 until I have caught up with the first one, or to charge ahead on the black and red version so I can see what the colors will look like. There is a change in needle size involved so I may keep going on #2 until I get to the lace section at the top that I can switch the needles between the two shawls.

I also feel like I need to knit a little cat, too. I’m cleaning a lot of shelves and I want some more knitted critters to fill in the gaps. 🙂

Quilting

It has been a long time coming, but now that I’m cleaning things up I decided to finish up a small quilting project that has been ignored for years. This quilt has been on the wall by my indoor garden but I was lazy and didn’t hand quilt the lettering in the blocks.

I hate hand quilting, but these little sections of lettering will look so much better when I am done!

There are several blocks on this quilt with different gardening themed images; each has a cute phrase that needs to be quilted to make it stand out right. Then maybe I will add some more quilting to the outer panels of the quilt. Ugh. I am doing a little bit every day as an extension of the “one little thing” campaign. Hopefully it will be done and back up on the wall before the cold weather arrives and I bring in the plants from outside for their winter indoors.

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 31 and 32, 2021

Life has been rushed. I created a lot of internal deadlines for myself and I have been rushing along every day trying to meet them. After weeks of waiting I finally got the installation date for my new fences; that meant that I needed to do some major yardwork to prepare for all that construction and hauling away of stuff. Whew. I handled it. My flower beds are cleaned up, plants are pruned, and my new fence and gate look great!

The bunny survived the invasion of fence-related chaos and is back to entertaining the cats every evening and morning.

Sharon from Security (Casapinka’s very snarky cat) released her latest pattern last Saturday. I decided that I need to get my current knitting project finished before the first clue dropped.

I started a new series of books that I needed to finish up quickly so that I could get other books, checked out electronically from my library and getting ready to vanish into the ether in two weeks, read on time.

I’m doing major cleaning and dragging bags of stuff out to the trash every week. That trash pick-up day is another deadline every week as I clean out drawers and closets and let old belongings, not used in at least a decade, head off to a new home or the land fill…

Whew. Busy times!

Garden

The gardens are kind of bare of blooms right now, but the potted flowers are flourishing.
My bougainvillea is blooming like crazy!! By the way, can you see the pretty new fence in the background?

I am putting my energies now into moving and installing some new bricks and then planting several of the potted shrubs (like the mini-roses and my hydrangea) into the ground before winter. Next year they can bloom in the cleared garden in the background!

Knitting

It was quite the drive, but I did get my new sweater finished with a few hours to spare before the Snark-O-Meter from Sharon from Security (Casapinka) dropped.

This is my second little layering piece that is knit loose enough for summer wear (well, cooler summer wear) and then will serve as layering pieces in the fall and winter. This loose little V-neck top, The Rock It is just perfect!!

Well, let’s talk about Snark-O-Meter. I have been dreaming about colors and digging in the stash for weeks. I would decide on a combo, but then the next morning I would remember a different skein of yarn in the stash and the amended quartet of yarn would suddenly become my new favorite. I finally settled on a color combo that I know will go with almost everything that I wear.

I know, I know… it is conservative, but very wearable. Can you see that there are little flecks of black in the red yarn? The gray has a slight sheen from silk which makes the drape really nice and shines around the other colors. Snark-O-Meter is a mystery knit-along (MKAL) and the other knitters are already showing off their beautiful color combinations on Facebook. People are worried about being too slow, and others are asking for help from other knitters. Encouragement is everywhere, Sharon is shoveling out the snark while hunting for her stolen squad car (again?! Sharon, you need to take better care of your things…) and threatening to busticate knitters who don’t read the directions. I love this group!!!

I still have those other sets of yarn waiting to become something. I may cast on a second shawl in some crazy colors that I will also be able to wear. Also, they are colors that I just simply love!!

The last couple of years have been hard, to say the least. Some of the knitters in the Sharon Show group on Facebook have been giving away their extra sets of yarn to other knitters who are struggling right now. I look at my unused sets and wonder how many I can put together for the next MKAL. I’m going to bag the yarn and as soon as Sharon/Casapinka put together their next project I think that I should offer them up. Seriously, who better deserves my extra yarn then these supportive, cheerful, cat loving knitters. I wish I had thought of it sooner. I’m trying to clean out a lot of stuff… this is one way to do it.

Quilts

I really focused and worked steadily on a quilt that has been languishing for the last several months.

It is done! There was some help from the cats…

It is a huge relief to finally have this done. I cleaned up the sewing room and put everything away this weekend, and noticed that I have a really cute quilt kit just waiting for me to start it in the cupboard…

By the way, this quilt is an art quilt by Pine Needles called “Calling Me Home“. I used about half of the blocks in the entire quilt to make my wall hanging.

Books

I just raced through this series. The setting is hundreds of years in the future in England. There has been a terrible war, all the life has mutated dramatically in a race for survival and all the world is dangerous. People survive in small enclaves, their history and old skills lost, and the remaining technology is like magic to them. Because contact between surviving groups of people is restricted by the extreme hostile environment mankind is slowly fading away.

Koli is a young man who breaks the rules and gets banned from his small village. He begins a long journey with a thought of saving humanity; his companions are few, and not all of them are still alive. They face danger, fight battles, make choices, and in the end, reach their goals. It’s hard to convey, but the voices of the characters, their insight into the human condition, made this series extremely engaging. These people are primitive, but they are not unsophisticated. I love the books and raced right through them. 🙂

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 22 and 23

I’m going to be honest here: June has been really challenging so far. My entire right arm is numb and in pain and there isn’t much knitting going on. My appointment book is completely filled up with medical appointments and the bruises are collecting at an alarming rate; did I mention that June is Scleroderma Awareness Month? Yep. I’m aware. Scleroderma has gone into overdrive this month. Gee, if it wanted more attention it should have just asked!

In solidarity with scleroderma there have been other disasters this month. The car that was bringing me home from GI testing this week developed engine trouble (I ended up in an Uber, hopped up on drugs, leaking fluids from an unmentionable part of my nether region… best ride across town ever!) My refrigerator started shrieking in the night as one of the fans failed putting my stash of cheese at risk (yes, I have seriously cornered the market in… cheese). Oh, did I mention that I also had a scary close encounter with my neighbor’s pit bull? Seriously, it has been challenging to do anything except deal with all of this stuff. On the other hand, I have handled things; a new refrigerator is coming (I must save the cheese!), my neighbor has implemented more safeguards to contain her dog, and I have learned how to use Uber!! I’ve completed physical therapy and am walking much better. The car that broke down was repaired at little cost. My arm is in a brace but I am rocking voice-to-text on my phone. I’m knitting again… slowly.

Still, I am warning you, June, knock it off!! I have knitting and stuff to do.

Hannah: June would be a great time to get me a little kitten companion!!

Knitting

I finished my Noncho (Sharon from Security and Casapinka) this week. What a nice, versatile addition to my wardrobe this will be. I also made some progress on a sock but really the big accomplishment this week has been the Noncho. My project notes on Ravelry are here.

Garden

It’s gotten hot and the garden has taken off. I’ve been weeding steadily and it is really exciting to find flourishing plants and emerging flower buds. Look at what is going on right now:

Seriously, the garden is starting to explode with color. My rose plants are covered with buds and the main show is going to start in just a few more days. We had so much rain earlier this year the rose bushes grew really well and things are looking good. Okay, June is picking up a little.

Books

I’m enjoying The Cold Millions while I work on my second sock. So far it is pretty good and applicable to economic issues that we are dealing with today in the US.

Have a great week everyone.

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

PS: The gastroenterologist told me that I can’t eat cheese any more. Or chocolate. Or caffeine. Or carbonated drinks. Alcohol is absolutely forbidden.

I’m pretending that I didn’t hear that part about the cheese.

The Saturday Update: Week 21

Here it is Memorial Day weekend and it is cold and raining outside. Hannah and I have been hanging out indoors knitting, reading a book, and cleaning the stash. Oh, boy. There sure is a lot of yarn in the stash… let’s talk about that another day. Good thing it is raining, because I have a lot of knitting to do!

Hannah has been snoozing while I knit.

It is going to rain again tomorrow and when this is all over the outside gardens and lawn will be looking great. In the meantime, I have lots to keep me busy indoors.

Knitting

I finished up the first of the assigned pooling socks that I’m working on.

I had a skein of yarn from Chasing Rabbits Fiber Co. in the Colorful Yarns colorway designed for my favorite LYS, Colorful Yarns. The skein is mostly grey with short rainbow strips that are about 1/6 of the length of the skein. I started knitting the yarn in my usual ribbed sock pattern and was not happy with the way the colors were just stacking on top of each other. I ripped the sock out and started again with a K2P2 ribbed section at the top of the sock with smooth stockinette after that. I purled the rainbow sections when I came to them and threw in random PSS stitches in the rainbow purl strips in an effort to create some randomness in the colored sections on the sock. You can see in my second picture that I put in 1-3 PSS bumps into the purled/color strips or sometimes didn’t add a PSS at all.

What is PSS? It’s a stitch that I learned while knitting The Sharon Show in section 21 (called Catnip Garden) that is simple, added a little bump to the knitting and was sure to alter the length of the rainbow strips. Basically you purl two stitches together but leave them on the left needle. You then knit the same two stitches together, and then purl them together again before you pull them to the right needle: three stitches are made from two. You then pass the middle of these three stitches over the stitch next to it (closest to the tip) and there is the bump! If that doesn’t make sense, here is a swell video to show the stitch. On the next round I slipped the two stitches from the PSS and then finally knitted them on the next round after that. You can see the little colored slipped stitches below the purled sections in my second picture. I knit the sock from the top down; if you knit one from the toe up the little colored stitches will be above the purled sections. (Hint: because of the slipped stitches put a purl or two between PSS stitches.)

Once I got through the heel section I stopped inserting the PSS stitches in the knitting on the foot of the sock: I purled on the top of the foot while sticking to smooth stockinette on the bottom of the sock (3rd picture). I lost some of the randomness in the line up of the colored strips but that part of the sock will be in my shoe so I’m good with it. The final picture shows the finished sock with its contrast heel and toe; kind of wish now that I had make the top ribbing that hot pink too. I’m now working on the second sock now and should eventually get the pair completed.

The other knitting that is still going on is the Noncho (Casapinka) that I kind of wish was already done because it is cool with all of the rain… Hannah has been a great help.

Garden

It is raining outside!! Here are the cool pictures from the week of my indoor plants.

I’ve taken to spraying my African violets every week and they seem to like it. The leaves have lifted up and the plants are blooming like crazy. Not what I expected to happen, but the plants are responding so well I spray them down weekly now.

Books

I finished Wanderers today.

I was struggling with this book a little and wasn’t sure if I would complete it because… almost 700 pages! I don’t know how much I should say because of spoilers, but the plot involves sleepwalkers who are unresponsive to any efforts to wake them up. They never eat, never stop walking, and it is impossible to get a needle into them to draw blood. “Maybe they have scleroderma,” hypothesizes the CDC personnel attempting to understand what is happening with this flock of wanderers. Scleroderma! They had me at scleroderma. I kept reading.

Of course the wanderers don’t have scleroderma. This book is big, complicated, and pulls in lots of situational elements that are obviously based on actual people and events in the US. Amazingly, the book, which was published in mid-2019, also features a pandemic. I remember looking at the book when it was first published during those happy days when I could just head off to the book store to meet my friends; now things are changed and the impact of the book was that much more. I did like the book, but then I’m a biogeek who reads books about the CDC and outbreaks even before it became our lives.

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 19 and 20

The last two weeks have been busy, but not all that productive in the crafting/gardening/reading departments. I’m still busy going to appointments, doing my physical therapy (hey, I have graduated from the walker!!), and putting my yard and gardens back into order. Somewhere during the last two weeks the CDC here in the US changed their recommendations on mask wearing and then my state also lifted the mask mandate in most situations. Evidently we are now going to rely on the honor system to protect people at risk from other people who are unvaccinated and unmasked. Oh, dear. I have been pulling weeds and considering my options…

Late one afternoon I hurried and pruned my roses in the rain so I could get frost cloths over them to protect the new shoots from an overnight hard freeze. The resident bunny, all alone since the Great Horned owl caught his mate, joined me in the rain as I worked. It’s been that kind of week.

So here is my dilemma: what is a seriously compromised individual on immunosuppressant therapy to do? I hit the internet, of course.

As luck would have it, Science Magazine (the journal of the American Association for the Advancement of Science) recently published an article reporting out on the current data from several studies on this very issue. As it turns out, there are some immunosuppressant drugs that are seriously impacting the efficacy of the Covid-19 vaccines, and one of those drugs, mycophenolate, is of particular concern. Rats!! I’m taking that drug to control my scleroderma. I stopped reading the article when I got to the part about only 9% of patients on mycophenolate produced antibodies to the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. Gosh darn it, I was vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine. I wrote an email to my doctor and requested an antibody test to see if I was producing anti-Covid-19 antibodies. Late that afternoon I got a note from her nurse letting me know that I could just make the appointment online and go get the test on my own. I immediately did that and scored an appointment across town at a clinic that I could just make that evening if I jumped into the car and drove really, really fast…

So I drove across the Denver Metro area like a bat out of hell with the prevailing traffic flow and arrived at the clinic with 10 minutes to spare. Yay! Um… why is the parking lot so empty?

The clinic closed 20 minutes before the appointment; there was a goof in the scheduling system. I called my health provider from the parking lot and made sure my test request would transfer to another clinic and/or time and then sadly drove off. I bought myself chocolate on the way home. Why is everything so hard?

Thank heavens there is Hannah to balance out the little bumps in life. 🙂

The next day I got the test done after another drive across town and also heard back from my doctor. She recommended that I return to strict isolation because 1) the mask mandates had been lifted and 2) there was a strong chance that I wasn’t protected from Covid-19 no matter what the antibody test result was. Later in the day an email arrived carrying a letter from the Scleroderma Foundation that advised that I and other patients in my situation continue to wear masks and practice common sense safety measures including limiting contacts. Darn. When will this ever end? I’m starting to feel a little picked on here…

The next morning the antibody test result arrived: I have antibodies!!! Yay! About time I was cut a break, don’t you think? I’ll still be wearing a mask and will be really careful, but I think that I am safe to continue to go to appointments and the occasional book store or yarn shop.

Do you see why I’m not getting a lot of stuff done? All of this driving and decision making is just exhausting.

Knitting

The great thing about physical therapy is that you get better. You get to take afternoon breaks with hot packs on your sore muscles. The bad part about physical therapy is that, for some reason, the inflammation associated with building up muscles and loosening my bad boy tendons (I’m finally rehabilitating from a ruptured tendon in my hip) makes my joints misbehave. My hands especially have decided that they want to be babied and they definitely don’t want to knit. Still, I have made a little progress over the last two weeks:

My Noncho (Casapinka) is finally starting to take shape. The simple stockinette knitting in the round is easy on my hands and I can’t wait to get it done so I can wear it in cool offices during appointments. My socks, which are a take on assigned pooling knitting, are more adventurous with the texture stitches and the purl sections not to mention turning that heel and picking up stitches. Still, I am getting somehere with them. I’m inventing the socks as I go and will take time to explain what I did then they are done, but right now I’m just enjoying the fun of an adventurous bit of knitting fun. Don’t those socks make you happy just looking at them?!

Garden

The weather has totally been messing with us the last two weeks. It has rained… at lot. We have had snow followed by really warm sunny days. The the windy days arrived late this week to knock the new plants around under cloudy skies that threatened severe thunderstorms and tornadoes.

Ugh! I am getting lots of weeds pulled, new bedding plants planted, and sections of the lawn reseeded. Really, I have been working, but all I really have to show for my time is…

Hannah and her hydrangea plant that I pulled inside for a couple of days (hard freeze warning). Hannah thought that the plant was for her and was really involved with it for the couple days that she had it. Sorry Hannah. Hydrangeas need to live outside.

Books

I just started this book. Anyone have any feedback on whether I should keep going?

I was really excited about rejoining my book club next week for their meeting about Wanderers. Nope. Guess that isn’t happening as they are meeting at an indoors restaurant and the Covid-19 restrictions are now lifted so dining capacity is back up to 100%. This is a big, heavy book. It hurts my hands to hold it. If it doesn’t get really compelling really quickly it is going back to the library.

Anyone have a book recommendation?

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 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.