16 October 2021

Unseasonably October

The weather has been warm and mostly sunny, so I've enjoyed going out for walks and doing things outside when possible.  We've had some cold and rainy days, of course, and I think more are coming tomorrow or Monday, but most of this week has been very nice and I've gotten a walk outside nearly every day.  One day I was working too much, and with the days getting shorter I wasn't able to get a walk on either end.  The farmstand is winding down the season, though; at the end of the month they close for two-and-a-half weeks, opening for the holidays, then close until spring.

Today was the New York Sheep & Wool Festival in Rhinebeck, and I know many people who went, but I didn't.  I'm still mostly avoiding crowds, plus nobody invited me to join a group.  In the past some knitters from this area went, but I haven't been in town for several years on the correct weekend, then last year the event cancelled.  It was fun to go with a group, maybe another year I'll do it again.

Mid-Month Resolutions Report

No progress on the second sock or the Omega Shawl.  I've decided I don't like the lace design in the pattern so I will do something else.  I've been finishing a number of charity items, so it's not as if my needles and hooks have been idle.  I keep starting things, I need to finish a few that aren't for charity!  My grandmother was raving about the shawls I've made for her, so it gave me incentive to start another.  I've had a cake of Caron's Latte Cakes waiting for the right time, and found a crocheted shawl that uses just one cake, so have it started:

Yes it doesn't look like much so far.  During the week it's easier to do the mindless items; this requires a bit of focus, and not just because of the yarn.  I'll work more on it tomorrow, and hopefully get the rhythm.  The bobbles are the kind of silly touch my grandmother seems to enjoy.

01 October 2021

A Texas Tribute

Have I mentioned lately that one benefit of the pandemic is that so many arts events have moved online, or now to a hybrid presentation, that I can attend them even when far away?  I love the Dallas Winds and was only rarely lucky to be in town on performance night since I moved from the area.  This year, I've been able to enjoy a number of concerts, including tonight's extra-special one:

An additional bonus of the livestream is that you get to re-listen (or rewatch) for a day or a few days or a week, so if you really liked something, you get to hear it again.  Which I will be doing tomorrow.

Mini-Resolutions for October
I am making progress on current projects, not on UFOs.  On the KnitTalk list this is "Aftober" nicknamed after a woman who started a number of years ago to encourage people to finish their UFOs before holiday projects take over.  Maybe I'll get the second sock finished before it gets cold enough to wear the pair.

I am continuing to read books, and this being Banned Books Week I looked for a title to read from the most recent list.  It's amazing how many classics appear there:  The Bluest Eye, To Kill A Mockingbird, Of Mice and Men, and of course The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.  I found an article and video addressing the last one that you might want to view.  And when you're done, go read a banned or challenged book, preferably one you haven't read before.  Or one you haven't read in a long time, if you'd rather shop your shelves or if your local library still has limited access.

19 September 2021

Third year, exponentially

Today was the Third Annual Knitting in the Pasture With Sheep event, and the weather for it was glorious.  It's just a bunch of people in a pasture with a flock of sheep for a couple of hours, the humans talking and knitting (or crocheting) and the sheep running through periodically.  Last year they were calmer and checked out what we were working on, but last year was cold and rainy and we reached only 47 persons, which was three times what we'd had the first year.

The official picture in 2020, just before it poured rain and the humans left.

This year, the final count was 230 humans.  That's around six persons to each sheep, so no wonder they were a bit freaked out and preferred to hide in the corners of the field.

My friend took this photo - you can just barely see me near the solar panels.
Look for somebody in black with this shirt.  There were so many of us that other than
the official group photo, many of us took video to document all the humans.

I took a hat on a circular needle in a very appropriate project bag (they call it a 'yarn pouch'):

The pattern is Barleylight by Tin Can Knits.  I'd started it, realized that it was coming out too big, so instead of my morning walk I quickly frogged and cast on, and by the end of the event the ribbing was done.  Yarn is some random handdyed from my stash that was wound and has no tag.

I had fun.

Mid-Month Resolutions Update

I managed to get a hand-sprain at the beginning of the month, so fiber work was curtained, and thus no progress to speak of on UFOs or my KnitTalk Q3 Make-Along project.  As you can see, I am doing better, and I've been focusing on items for the group that collects for orphans in Kazakhstan.  I want to get the box filled and shipped and be done - then I see somebody needs mittens, or whatever, and I happen to have yarn that I want to use up, and so........

I have been reading, though.  The current book is My Dear Hamilton which is thick in the number of pages but flimsy in physical construction.  It's not an intellectually heavy read, but interesting in the character studies it presents.  I'm about a third of the way through.

05 September 2021

End of Summer.

An acquaintance posted this bit from a New York Times newsletter this morning, which she said "really says it all":

Greetings from the middle of a strange holiday weekend. It was meant to be, for some of us, the end not just of unofficial summer but of many of the protocols meant to keep us safe from the coronavirus — a time to return to commuting, perhaps to an office, to the rhythms of what passed for normal life back in 2019. Until it wasn’t. We’re still masking, still anxious about breakthroughs, still unsure what’s going to happen with the children’s schooling, still worried about the future, still unsettled in the present.
Labor Day Weekend is a reset, generally. This year, the button will not click.

Today is the first Sunday of the month, and last month was the first time since March 2020 that there was a brunch at my friend William's house.  He called on Wednesday evening to say that with the numbers rising again, he decided to cancel this month, and we'll see what happens next month.  My guess is that with the colder weather coming, he won't attempt a brunch again until spring.

I'd planned to do an apple upside-down honey cake, because tomorrow begins Rosh Hashonnah, which is the start of the Jewish new year.  Many of you may remember that I began the mini-resolutions because it can be hard to promise something for a year, or the rest of your life, but you can do it for a month.  Recently mine have mostly been a ticklist of whether I have accomplished any of the ones I originally proposed, or made any headway.  Headway = yes; accomplishment = no.

01 September 2021

Feels like a Year.

It's been a difficult few weeks.

I don't usually post about personal things, but in the Spring of 2019 I became legally responsible for my uncle, my father's baby brother, when he fell ill during a trip to the mainland and was diagnosed with both Parkinson's and dementia.  We were lucky he was here, where we could move him into a care facility, and with the help of many people (because Hawai'i, and they do such things) we were able to sell his condo, donate his car and furniture, and get his personal items to the facility for his use.  I ended up being there for a very fast four days to sign things and take care of final matters such as collecting items from his safety deposit box and ensuring all his accounts were closed.

This past July 4th weekend, my uncle took a turn, as they say.  We scrambled to get aides to assist with his care while finding a more supportive facility - and this while COVID-19 numbers soared and places went into lockdown.  Bless my parents, who live near my uncle's facility and did much of the legwork visiting locations and organizing movers, while I authorized and conferred and worried.  My uncle seemed to settle in well to his new home - and then began to fall.

With the assistance of staff at the new care home we've figured out that my uncle may be deciding he needs to go to bed, and instead of calling for assistance simply goes himself.  However, with his physical debility he cannot do it unassisted, and so falls.  They are working out a regime and we may have to move him to the memory care wing much sooner than expected.

And I am doing all of this long-distance, as the family is adamant that I shouldn't travel down there given the COVID-19 numbers.  Mostly the facilities wouldn't let me in, and my parents (who are mostly retired at this point) are happy to help, but it's difficult for me given my sense of responsibility.  So I fret.

I'm writing all this to offer kudos and thanks to a friend for his book, Her Final Year, co-written with another care-giver, where they summarize their families' journeys and decisions.  It's free to download on the first of the month (as are all his books) but worth buying if you need it.

In addition, I haven't seen my grandmother since February 2020 and she is clearly fading, and it breaks my heart.  Tonight a friend is doing one of his bimonthly online concerts, and months ago I started to call my grandmother on those evenings so we can listen to the concert together.  I turn up the speakers and arrange the phone and she enjoys it.  When I type a message that we're listening, he gives her a shoutout and I tease them both about her being a groupie.

Mini-Resolution Report

I managed to sprain my right hand a week or so ago, and that slowed my ability to do needlework.  Luckily I'd finished my niece's bolero, although I forgot to take a photo of the finished item as I was rushing to get to the Post Office.  This is the last one I have, with a closeup:

Not much progress otherwise on UFOs, especially given the difficulty to hold very fine needles.  I did a few rows on the Omega Shawl while "on vacation" via a virtual trip to Antarctica, but I'm in the lace border and that requires too much concentration while attending lectures and landings.  The virtual trip was a lot of fun, I learned quite a lot, and someday I would like to go there for real.  In the After Times.

I'm not going to add anything other than progress on my KnitTalk Q3 Make-Along project, which I started and was able to work on a bit during the virtual trip:
The theme is five, either ounces of yarn or colours.  This shawl should take about five ounces total of Patons Lace in Calypso Coral and Patons Lace Sequin in Smoky Quartz.  It's further along than in the photo but also set aside while my hand heals.

15 August 2021

Livestock and Wildlife

Most mornings I go out for a walk, if weather and meeting schedule allows.  The exception is Saturday, when I do an early yoga class.  On Sundays, I often take a long walk because it's a non-work day.

In mid-July I went to the West Hartford Reservoir #1 for the first time in a long while.  Even with masking less of an issue outdoors, I wear one there, and many times I haven't taken one with me so I'll get as far as the gate and turn around.  There are two paths, the yellow which is shorter but more difficult, and the red which is longer but paved the whole way and mostly flatter.  With weather and work I hadn't walked as much as usual, and was feeling it, so having the excuse of enjoying nature at a couple points – sitting on a rock listening to a rushing stream or leaning on a bridge admiring a small waterfall, which was there only because we'd had a lot of rain in early July – was quite lovely.


Then there was the deer.  A half-grown fawn it appeared to me.  I heard a noise off the side of the path and looked, and there it was, maybe five or six metres at most off the path, having a snack of tasty leaves.  What surprised me is that three women had just passed me walking briskly in the other direction, chattering among themselves, and hadn’t noticed the deer – nor had they scared it away.  I stopped quite still and observed it for some time.  Other than occasionally looking in my direction, the deer seemed unconcerned at having a human admirer.  It walked even closer to me as it snacked on the fresh leaves of smaller plants.


Then something that seemed a deer communication (several distinct snuffles) sounded from further away, and I looked in that direction to see another deer bounding away maybe a quarter-mile or so distant.  In a flash the one I’d been observing bounded in the same direction, and they were gone.

The reservoir is part-time home to geese, and several times I saw families walking on the side of the road.  More than once, traffic had to pause while they crossed the road, with the goslings as likely to wander into the traffic lane and being herded onto the edge of the road where lawns or forest gave them a bit more protection, and options for snacks.  The first time I saw traffic stopped I wondered if there had been an accident, then I spotted the geese entering the shoulder lane and all became clear.

Closer to my home, a family of turkeys is often about.  The first time I spotted them was walking down the road in front of my building, very early one morning.  Since then, I have seen them several other times, either in my community or at the nearby medical offices.  Often I see the adults, and then notice the chicks only because there's some motion, because they are fluffy and grey and often hard to see against foliage.  The most recent spotting was this morning.  I saw a tom entering the woods from the end of somebody's driveway and wondered if he was related to the family.  As I turned my sight back to the direction of travel I saw motion, and sure enough three fluffy grey chicks were scrambling in the grass at the side of the road.  A moment later a rustle and twig-snap just beyond the tree line, and the chicks scampered to join their mother.

I also see domesticated animals, usually dogs walking their humans.  In this area, no such, although a couple of signs warned me to beware of dogs.  As I retraced my steps, I heard the very unexpected sound of sheep.  Might somebody have a pet goat?  It sounded like sheep, but I was in a residential area.  Still, in older parts of town, farms or ranches may be grandfathered into the deeds.  I decided to walk a short way down a lane, prepared to turn back if it turned out to be a private driveway or road.

Then I spotted the "WARNING <sheep silhouette> LIVESTOCK" sign.  Truly, sheep?

Yes, indeed.  I spotted them at a distance, through the far trees, then they were walking down a road or driveway on the far side of the space I could see.  Not too much time later, they were heading for the fence, and I walked slowly back to the road, hoping to not spook them or the human I could see behind the flock, walking the fences.  Very sweet they looked (the sheep, not the human, who was too far for me to get a good view) and chatty, having breakfast on the vegetation.  Or maybe, given the hour, second breakfast or elevenses?

No pictures, as I usually don't have a camera with me on the walks, and I like to enjoy the world unfiltered.  No need to take constant photos, in my humble opinion.

Midmonth Mini-Resolution Report

Not much progress on the UFOs, because I need to finish a graduation gift and want to get the charity items done and shipped.  I sent three (two scarves and a hat) to Dallas with some sheep-shaped soaps I made, for a friend to contribute to the goody bags of a retreat she attends each August (except last year, of course).  The scarf is almost done, and having quite a bit of the yarn left I signed up to do a hat and mittens for another grad, and maybe a scarf.

I finished The Hamilton Affair and decided to turn back to Mad Scenes and Exit Arias, which my parents lent to me and I should return during my next trip.  It was to be next week, but with the various COVID-19 variants and infection numbers increasing, and my mother's worry and insistence, I postponed it to next month.  So far I am up to 2007 and should be able to finish the book in reasonable time.

The graduation gift stagnated all week because I was almost finished with the back and found out my gauge was off.  So, I frogged it and restarted it Friday evening.  It's going quickly, I have the back and both fronts done and in this photo had just started the first sleeve:

Hopefully I'll be on the border by the end of today, or ready to start it tomorrow.  I read that today is National Relaxation Day, so after the long walk this morning I am relaxing by watching old films on TCM, a recording of "Wolves" on a temporary streaming opportunity, and crocheting.

08 August 2021

Learning something new.

My best friend's elder daughter graduated from high school and is on her way to college.  I asked what to send as a gift, and since the daughter would love something handmade from me, we sorted out a pattern and colour (pastels) and yarn ("washable, natural material, nothing sparkly") and so forth.

It's high time I started work on it, so I did this afternoon, winding the first hank of yarn and reading through the pattern.  Then I realized I had to learn to do the foundation single crochet, which I usually avoid by doing a chain and then a row of regular single crochet.  I decided that I need to learn to do this properly, since the pattern requires it, so with much trial and error, I did:

I am now on Row 8 of the back, making good progress.  The yarn is Cascade Yarns Nifty Cotton, a washable 100% cotton yarn, and colour chosen by the recipient.  She doesn't know what I am making.  {Seventh Inning Stretch update:  The back is an inch too wide.  I am going to frog and remove four stitches.  The next smaller size is eight inches smaller and I think it will be too small.  So there's an evening's work gone - at least I have the rhythm of the pattern now, and crocheting goes fast.}

I was supposed to be there next week to help her pack for the move to college, but thanks to the Delta Variant, I'm not going to make the trip.  Maybe we'll work out a way to do it by Zoom or Facetime.

This week I also finished a sweater for Mittens for Akkol, and I really like how it came out:
Lopi Lite, plain stockinette in black, with garter stitch borders.  I may make another for me, but of a different yarn.  I have plenty of leftovers, so started a scarf, which doesn't look like much at the moment, to go with another grad sweater.  Further progress will be made on it or the pink thing during tonight's Crosstown Classic.


After finishing a book last month, I am making progress on two others.  I'd set aside The Hamilton Affair some months back, and since I hope to visit my parents soon I want to finish so I can return it to the library in their community's clubhouse.  I'm in the home stretch now and I think I'll start My Dear Hamilton next, and donate it to the library with the other.

I also have Tuesdays with Morrie which my father lent to me, and which is a quick read.  I hope to finish it so I can return it on my next trip.  We're hoping that to visit family, and not randomly travel about, will be safe.  I know many people who are taking vacations or visiting family or even going to camp and doing all kinds of things I haven't felt safe doing, so hopefully this little bit of travel will be possible and go well.  It's so hard to know.