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.

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!!