Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Now it can be shown!

I designed and crocheted this scarf as a surprise present which has now arrived at its destination, so I can show you a picture without ruining DW's surprise.

Duncan, the Assistant Designer in Chief, likes this one quite a bit. For people who like the technical deets, it's double crochet throughout, in cotton ribbon yarn. This has a natural curl, so I let it curl at will when I inserted the fringes. Despite the spirited attempts of two cats to bite and generally play with the fringes as I was inserting

It came with another item which I did not remember to picture, so if her plan to get one taken wearing both materializes, that will be terrific and maybe you'll get to see them in action. The other thing is a crown, since everyone ought to wear a crown on at least once in her life.

Meanwhile back at the kitchen, now the microwave has gone on sympathy strike with the dishwasher. Won't let the door open. Fights back. I may have to knit a new one.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

But that was yesterday....

Losses, oh losses.....this is only partly tragic, since the loss in question is an appliance. This is now

and that was then.

You will note on closer scrutiny that the dw had its share of rust and duct tape and has been staggering along for um, months that way, failing to drain now and then, being dosed with hot wash and white vinegar to fix it, being taken apart and cleaned, and generally getting a higher level of tlc than it deserved.

It was in fact a bottom of the line dw, only chosen because it was literally the only one on the market which had a swing open lever that HP could operate, at that time he still being able to more or less walk, holding on, and anxious to keep on doing what he could do in the house. But the little pull out doohickeys and the button ones were impossible for him with numb hands. So I sighed and got this one.

That was late November several years ago, why appliances go out around the holiday, this is a musing for another time. But my experience of washing machines dying at New Year, and refrigerators croaking for the Fourth of July, and air conditioners going out right before a heatwave, and two dishwashers in a row conking right before the Dishes of Thanksgiving, may be a small statistical sample. But as my doctor says about statistics: if you've got it, it's a one hundred per cent incidence!

Anyway, I'm washing dishes by hand and using the dishwasher as a posh draining rack. Can't face Christmas crowds in the stores, so I'm doing homework online then I'll proceed to Mrs Gs, my fave local store, except dear old Mrs G. went to the great warehouse in the sky last year, in her late nineties, having literally sat in the family store, supervising and making all go well, for about 70 years. Her daughter in law is now in charge, and if they've kept their installers, this will be fine.

Better than last time around when I ended up at Home Depot, the only place with the dishwasher Handsome Partner could operate, and they delivered it three days late, near midnight, and flatly refused to remove the old one or install the new one, on the grounds that there was a labor dispute on! ended up getting our friend and neighbor and appliance diagnostician, Helen, to install it for us, which she did promptly, she being furious at the way HD had treated us. We did get a lot of apologies from them, but it didn't do us much good. Let's just say they're not on my shopping rounds any more.

You will note a total absence of Dollivers in this scene where actual work is threatened. They tell me they're writing their letters to Santa.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Torch bearers

No, it can't be morning yet, put the blankies back!

I came across a Greek quotation, which blessedly was translated, as I found after struggling with it for a while, and since I don't have an attribution for it, sorry, can't credit the writer, because I copied it into my little notebook along with notes to buy eggs and stamps, probably an ancient, and I don't have Greek characters on my keyboard, here's my really rough transliteration:

lampadia echontes, diadowsousin allelois

Those who have torches will pass them on to others.

The Olympic spirit in words, I guess. But metaphorically it's interesting to see all the places where we can derive useful life lessons, which I'm always in search of.

Sometimes the lessons are negative ones, not the favorites, but sometimes they're very positive, such as the care and attention shown by Marigold and Duncan during HP's recent sharp illness and the consequent rushings in and out of doctors, nurses, xray technicians and so on. They scrutinized everyone with care, making sure they didn't do anything wrong, but they ran at the sight of the giant xray machine coming in like a dinosaur.

Then, once the emergency passed, the cats resumed doing what the thinking cat does in chilly sleety late fall weather. Sleeping. Stealing drinking straws to juggle across the floor and under the sofa. Hunting one another up and down the stairs like a troop of cavalry.

And there's HS, whose equanimity when his father's dementia causes snarling and rage, which passes like a cloud passing over the sun, never taking it personally, reminds me that it's not the person fussing, it's the disorder talking, not to take it personally. It's not about me.

Not a bad motto, in fact. And there my musings end on this subject. You'll be glad to hear...

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Dollivers Thanksgiving Duck Hunt

It being Thanksgiving tomorrow in the US, the Dollivers fancied trying the sport of the season, a duck hunt.

Pausing only to overturn the clubhouse to use as a duck blind, no, I explained, the ducks are not blind, the little hiding place is, oh, never mind...they came away with quite a bag, ranging from a rubber ducky to a wooden duckling, a tufted titmouse, a state bird, the goldfinch, and another that none of us can identify, these birds, unlike the ones seen in the bird books, not coming with name tags.

They succeeded, unlike some prominent political figures we could name, in not bagging each other. Having captured all these birds, the hunting dogs, seen here lying down with the lamb, so to speak, persuaded the Ds. that these were not eating birds, but playing with birds. So they all announced they would eat our turkey, but would keep their own bag for future reference.

The duckling confirmed the wisdom of this decision by flying out of the blind, falling twice into the foliage and finally landing on a Dolliver head.

So we're all having a nice cup of tea and bragging about our prowess, all those birds captured and never a shot fired.

And wishing you all a happy Thanksgiving, and if it's not Thanksgiving where you live, happy Thursday.

The Ds are thankful for their new birds. The Bouds are thankful that after another hair raising few days of great fear and anxiety and emergency doctor visits and nursing visits and xray machines trundled into the house, all is much better and HP will live to fight another day. Touch and go there for a while.

And thankful that HS will be in attendance tomorrow and doing part of the prep too, and assisting at the feasting, and giving us his great company.

All in all, plenty to be thankful about, and we all wish you, too, plenty to be thankful about.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Orchids please! Today We Are Two

Today, November 22, is the second anniversary of the opening of this blog. It's our Blogversary! No, I will refrain from talking about long strange roads and journeys and things, just say, gosh that went fast!

And to thank you all, dear blogistas, for your wise and witty comments and encouragements and observations and general air of being there.

As the bard would say: Wheeeeeeee!!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Xena, Warrior Princess!

Good things and not so good things and great things in the last couple of days.

One excellent thing was the arrival of my share of a celebration swap emanating (posh word, note that) from Ravelry, the huge and wonderful site full of talented and friendly people.

This is from a friend in Oklahoma, thank you so much Carol, and boasts pecans, coffee, chocolate, fruit butter, from there, local items, wonderful to have. And beautiful little stitch markers, tiny artworks in themselves and the case they come in. I have to ditch my cut up drinking straws now! and English tea, for afternoon tea taking purposes. AND a wonderful headband about which more anon.

I threw vanity to the winds and took a pic of me, using the mirror to see my camera screen, disregarding the distortion that was the inevitable result, because I wanted to model the beautiful beaded headband that was part of the parcel.

One view of me cracking up laughing at the attempt

I'm easily amused

and one a better shot of the band itself,

and I hope you can see the beads. It's really an artwork, and the choices of the rest of the parcel were all Oklahome-centric and wonderful, great to share with HP. Note the chocolate map of OK!

So that was good. Then this morning frantic bellringing at the door, and my neighbor was there telling me I had a flat tire....oh-oh. Then he followed up by saying he'd searched for his own inflating device, realized it was in his truck in the city where his daughter had had it in a collision, so he ran to a neighbor and borrowed his, and had set up ready to inflate the tire before telling me I had a problem.

There is simply nothing as good as having a neighbor who sets the solution in motion before worrying you with the problem! aside from having a flat right in your own parking space, no stranding involved, we found there was a nail in the tread, and when the tire was up again, he promised to look in on HP, who can not be alone, while I nipped over to the gas station to get the tire plugged.

And the guys there asked me could I manage to wait ten minutes? please? and had the tire off, nail removed, hole plugged, tire back in less than that, chatting at me in a friendly way the whole time. Wonderful change from the olden days in gas stations....

I was only mildly jarred to see that their terracotta tiled floor was the same as the one I put down in my condo and was very proud of. Which means either I have the taste of a gas station decorator, or they have very good home decor instincts. No prize for deciding which solution I prefer.

Then, on the way home, only a five minute trip, I found myself behind a minivan with a vanity plate that read XENA WP. And I thought, yeah, that's me!!! very appropriate.

Well, I think so, anyway.

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Dollivers Knit for their Friends

The little present has arrived at its destination, so now I can show you the picture.
At least the Dollivers can. They not only claim to have designed this scarf, but insisted on modeling it in a gangshot.

It's a scarf, designed (adapted from another one I made) using the short row method. If you like the technicality of this, the Ds. explain that they knitted it to within six stitches of the end, then turned, and went on short rowing from there until within six stitches of the other end, then proceeded back again.

You start with a triangle before embarking on the short rows. End with another triangle.

This was knitted from part of the fiber share of homespun and hand dyed yarn that Heather gave me, one of the nicest presents I ever had, from Shepherd Susie's flock. This fiber share has now gone into more than one knitted FO, parts of several tapestries, and into renovation work. Talk about multi tasking.

Wonderful yarn, great to handle, and when I blocked it, having rescued it from Duncan in the middle of the night, when he seized it in the bathtub where it was drying on a frame, rolled about with it madly like it was dyed with catnip, it went very pliable and soft and just nice. I think it will wear forever, too.

So this is a Good Thing! and the recipient likes it, always a big plus, say the Dollivers. Who insisted on a second shot, just to milk it.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Aran sweater transformed

Ages ago, I received via Freecycle, on a day of 100 plus heat, a couple of beautiful, brand new handknitted Irish Aran sweaters, one a sleeveless vest, one a long sleeve. Now that the weather is cool enough to try on, I've done the alteration that made the vest into a sleeveless coat, which almost reaches my knees, warm, lovely and approved by Duncan.

What I did was cut right up the center to the V neck, leaving bobbles evenly on each side, then run basting stitches to stabilize the end loops, then turn under and hem in a way that now looks like a lapel. The thread I used to hem was the handspun from the fiber share Heather gave me. That is the gift that keeps on giving! Excellent match in quality and weight to the knitted yarn. As you see. This will soon be in use. If you want to see closer up, click on the picture, then click again on it once it shows up in its own screen.

Next I have to do similar work on the long sleeve sweater, which will not only yield a coat for me, but legwarmers from the excess sleeve I have to cut off, for HP. We'll match.

There's another item, not related to the Aran haul, though, in the mail to someone who ought to receive it maybe today, so I will refrain from showing a picture in here, not to spoil the surprise.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Dreams and other movies

Do you find that when you eye a scene with a view to a photograph, that you think, hm, that would make an intriguing book cover? in fact it supplies the raw material for a novel or a poem cycle or something. Like today's pix. Henry James would have loved this -- you remember he used to say don't tell me any more, that's enough to be working from. Actually, I can see Mary Wesley making good use of this raw material. That's okay, it's not protected.

This Moslem couple, unusually, were walking holding hands.

Then they duck across into the shrubs

and he is joined by a couple of male friends and she strides ahead.

Later in my walk I saw her rounding the park, and he was now alone and strolling, evidently waiting for her to catch up.

So my imagination ran riot, of course.

I often wonder how people dreamed before they were influenced by movies and television techniques. I used to work in the tv industry, not as a hands-on producer, but I learned production in order to know what I was asking other people to do, always a friendly management technique. And I have for many years had my vivid dreams, often nightmares, influenced by the quick cut, the dissolve, the pan, the zoom, all kinds of rapidfire modern techniques of movies and video.

Just last night, I won't bore you with the plot, but I was in a group, there were establishing shots, then a quick zoom in to the face of the speaker, then a pan around the group to take in the other responses, etc. When I woke up, which I was glad to do, since I was never going to find the proper gate for my flight to Yokohama, I cracked up laughing at the production values that found their way into my very dreams.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Inward freecycling

Just to show that freecycle works both ways, it occurred to me that since I've been giving a lot of nice stuff to nice people, most recently a lovely suede Chanel style brown jacket that needed wider shoulders than mine, and an Italian made crystal ceiling light on behalf of a neighbor, it would be okay to put in a request of my own.

My ancient scanner had finally decided she wanted to retire from active service, and having done all the first aid I know, I agreed with her. And I put up a modest request for a scanner, no need for an all-in-one, since I have a good printer. And instantaneously I was offered an almost brand new scarcely used HP scanjet.

And shortly after, another offer arrived in case the first one didn't work out. So yesterday I picked up the first one, and HS was here and kindly downloaded the applicable software, and installed it for me. I could probably have done this, but it would have taken hours and cursing, rather than the peaceful 20 minutes, humming quietly that the knowledgeable Son put into it. And did a test scan. And it worked fine. Yay. So, pausing only to thank the giver, and the would-be giver, too, I set about taking a picture of the new arrival. Mainly to show HP, in fact, since he can't get to where it lives, and was curious about this new electronic thing.

Funny coda: after I offered my old scanner on freecycle, in case anyone can use the parts or the cables or the installation disk, etc., I got an email telling me that there was someone yesterday looking for a scanner....I didn't like to make the sender feel silly by saying, yeah, that was ME! so I just said, thanks, I'll check into it...

And now that my friend Maureen whom I visited the other day, after not seeing each other for ages, showed me her new Kindle, a birthday gift, I wonder if I dare ask on Freecycle if anyone has an older Kindle they would like to part with if they got a new one....hmmmmm. Marketers say that once you've handled an object you're a lot more likely to want to own it! this may be true. Anyway, we'll see!

I have now become the Official Neighborhood Freecycler, since the neighbor I freecyled the light fitting for and various other good items as he reno's the house, and HS, who has very little time at home for freecycling but has some items to pass along, are both active in this little enterprise. As is my own forays into the dumpster enclosure from which I freecycle all kinds of great kitchen and children's items. It's a kind of volunteer activity in a way. Says she virtuously. Actually it's fun, too.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Upcoming adventures in art

Our local library gallery is about to celebrate the new building in December, having been opening in segments for months now, with a blowout exhibit of self portraits of artists and others. But this is going to be a virtual show, very exciting, don't ask me how to visualize it, it's a high tech deal.

What's going to happen is that the jpeg pix artists have sent in will be projected on the highest part of the building, the tower, to be viewed from the town center! How this will happen I do not know, but that it will happen is a certainty, given that Jinny B. and Donna S. are in charge of it.

I'm used to having work exhibited on the internet, have been in more than a couple of international showings and been featured in various zines online, but this is a new departure.

And my own part of the exhibit is seen here. It's actually part of a work that's almost life sized, but the head part is best for this purpose.

It's made from telephone wire, copper wire, artist made beads, found object beads, fabric, knitted, woven, stitched and hand molded. And I immodestly add that it won a Best in Show on its first trip out. So I figured it would work for this show.

And of course the Dollivers were quick to point out that why, it's a big Dolliver! even then She knew! we need a family portrait here.

And Marigold evidently agreed, and inserted herself into the scene. She's part Dolliver. Either that or Dollivers are part Burmese cat. Aside from a lot of grumbling about the poor set lighting and the photo shoot carried out with fewer than the usual technicians, the other Dollivers being busy with their gift knitting for various friends, it turned out as well as can be expected.

So now that the entry has been made, easiest show selection and entry I ever did, all that remained was to take a lovely brisk walk in the sunshine and catch a few pix of trees and clouds in various stages of turning leaves, changing shape, and generally acting like some of the Powers That Be's better compositions!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Hanging in There, survivors

After a few frosts which have stopped most of the tender outside plants in their tracks, and enabled me to prune outdoors, no further growth to be expected on shrubs, I see there are still a few hardy survivors, hanging in there.

There's the last of the cornflowers, from my wildflower collection

and the last johnny jumpup, same collection

and the last sweet alyssum, same collection

and the perennial chrysanthemums

which seem to have liked the torrid summer and floods of this year, since they're doing better than they have for years. Go figure.

Tweeting and texting and the One Minute Manager and the Thirty Second Dressmaker (actually that only happens when you fire the first thirty-one, but oh well, I think it's funny. Like how long is the ninety-second psalm? um, a minute and a half?) anyway, as I was saying before I rudely interrupted my own train of thought, I've been thinking about those four word life tracks, as in Life is a Verb, you know the kind of thing.

Nutritious bitelets of thought or something. Or those six word autobiographies that are popular in geezer, I mean mature reader, magazines. I notice however that the ones I see are almost universally miserable and angry! hm, not much to show for a life well lived, or lived at all.

Anyway, I thought I'd give it a try myself, and would you like to join me? just post your versions, this will be fun.

Seventy-two. Not wise. Who cares??

Two cats. Play, sleep. Good life

And so on, take it away!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Old man, young man, old stairs, new stairs

This scene on a walk a couple of days ago reminded me of the old riddle: what walks on four legs in the morning, two legs and noon and three legs in the evening? since the ten month old crawling baby down the street was not available for a photo shoot, I had to skip morning and give you noon and evening, reading right to left.

And today the kitchen floor was redone, and the two flights of stairs and the hallway that connects them, all done, in, amazingly, four hours. Beautiful job, very friendly workmen, full of stories about how their little kids like birds, as I was moving my bird out of range, and who made the art, and so on, and it was really a good time.

Heard all about the supervisor who came with, and his art career and life, very interesting discussion on the meaning of art. This almost always happens when people come to do skilled work in the house. They are all artists in the evening, it seems.

The only drawback was that as the men arrived, banging and crashing and hauling equipment in, HP started to seize, and I ran to get one of the calming pills to head off major trouble. Rescue Remedy for me, too. I'm pretty sure it was the stress of the workmen's noise and disruption that did it, HP being not so good at change at the best of times, really wasn't sure why the ragged, ancient 21 year old rug

which has survived many animals, needed to be replaced. And the kitchen floor, much worn by dog nails and the years of wear, though the picture is kind to it

But that was several hours ago, and I don't see any further seizure trouble.

Anyway, we now have a lovely cushiony kitchen floor,

much warmer and easier to walk on, and the stairs actually look bigger, can't figure that out. The color didn't show up well on my camera, but it's a nice gentle green, peaceful.

I love green in a house. And this goes right from the foot of the stairs to the loft two stories up, to the entrance of the studio.

So it's done. And I assured HP we are only doing this once! I say this every time we have a major change made, to keep him calm about it. He gets very anxious about will the cats run out, will it all work out, etc. And I always remind him that the first thing the cats do when strangers with vacuum cleaners and noisy staple guns arrive is dive into my bed and burrow under all the covers until the coast is clear, no matter how long it may take.

Shakuhachi, shakuhachi, my mantra, along with SERENITY NOW. Try singing shakuhachi to the tune of La Cucaracha. It fits. You could also squash serenity now into the opening of the Fifth Symphony.

At least I can, but that's me.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Robins, shadows and waiting

Election Day, and we voted weeks ago, seems like history to us except that it's not counted yet. And while we wait hoping and hoping for the best, and looking forward to the end of the advertising and being glad of the secret ballot -- and people who know me know that I value the secret ballot to the point of thinking it's the ultimate in tacky to ask someone how she voted -- today's walk yielded quite a bit of thought.

One of those brilliant Fall days with no wind, just brilliant cold sunshine, and the shadows were eloquent.

The robins, mobs of them, were busy stocking up on berries while the stocking is good, and bold enough to ignore people with cameras

The shadow of the snowfence looking like a huge downtown building until you realize how flimsy the structure is

The permanent etchings left by leaves which have been rained on and frozen into blacktop, natural art

The reverse, a leaf with open areas

Shadows on blacktop

These images are meant to sustain us all as we see what unfolds!

Anyone who thinks this year's campaign is the bitterest ever clearly doesn't know her American history! to wit: check into Jefferson's shenanigans in the course of stopping Adams from getting a second term. Just for starters! So I'm not shocked by it, it's just part of the big mosaic. I may wish it were otherwise, but there you are. Democracy is a lot of things, but pretty is one thing it isn't.

If there are any readers whose polls are still open and who get to vote in the US, please do remember to do so, okay? Or the Dollivers will be on your case...