Friday, June 27, 2014

All Right, Everyone. Go Back to Your Knitting!*

I have been knitting, but have not been very good at documenting. Let's open the project bags and see what lurks within.

I love this pattern (it's my third Hitchhiker!) and really love the yarn, but I'm beginning to think my neighbor may sneak over at night and tink everything I've knit that day. I'm up to 37 points, but would probably progress farther and faster if I quit falling asleep at night while knitting.

I may have to name this project "Please Don't Retire Until I Finish Your Scarf, Arlene!" My husband's secretary is a wonderful person who makes his work life run smoothly so he's not too grumpy when he comes home. I started this back in April, a week before Secretary's Day. Feather and Fan is one of my absolute favorite patterns, and how hard can it be to knit a simple scarf in a week? Apparently too hard for me, because here it is unfinished, two months later. Arlene is retiring at the end of this year, so I decided to make it a retirement gift rather than give her an unblocked 14-inch scarf for Secretary's Day.

These should be called "The Socks of Shame". I started them over 3 years ago for my sister, have worked on them here and there, but still haven't finished. My sister deserves better, and a finished pair of socks.

 It's time to heed the wise words of Dante: "The secret of getting things done is to act! knit!"

*Fred Weasley, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Movie

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Ten on Tuesday - Hippo Birdy Two Ewe Edition!

This weeks Ten on Tuesday topic is 10 Ways to Wish Someone Happy Birthday. My birthday was just a little over a week ago on June 15th, so I was lucky enough to be the recipient of some wonderful ways to wish someone Happy Birthday very recently.

1. Say it in person. 
My husband and Youngest Son were at home this year, so it was quite a pleasure to wake up and have them tell me "Happy Birthday" first thing in the morning.

2. Send a card.
I received some lovely cards and it's always a pleasure to get "real" mail and know that others have thought about you.

3. Say it with a lovely, heartfelt, personal message.
My mother-in-law sent me the nicest, most heartfelt message this year. It is definitely one that I'll save and treasure!

4. Say it with a gift you know they'll love. 
My sister started knitting last winter, and now has the ability to choose perfect knitting gifts. This year she got me a plethora of knitting-related gifts, including yarn, bags, earrings, and hand cream. Every one of them is something I would have chosen for myself and am very grateful for.

5. Call.
Oldest Son lives 1700 miles away and we had just returned from visiting him, but he knew the way to his mother's heart was to call and wish her Happy Birthday. Since it was also Father's Day, he got to score good son points by wishing us both happy days with one phone call!

6. Send them wishes in an email.
My sister-in-law recently got an ipad and I'm the lucky beneficiary since we communicate much more now that she has an easy, enjoyable way to do it. She sent me a wonderful email, complete with gorgeous photos of her flowers that she knew I would enjoy.

7. Celebrate with breakfast, dinner, or by doing the dishes.
It doesn't have to be fancy, but these are all ways that people have wished me Happy Birthday and I appreciate each one. I'm usually the one that has to do these chores and it's a pleasure to have someone else take over on your special day.

8. Say it with cake.
I've reached the age where I really need to think about whether calories are worth it, but on a birthday, cake is definitely worth it for me. Whether it's chocolate cake with butter cream icing from the bakery, homemade zucchini cake, or even birthday blueberry pie, nothing says Happy Birthday like cake!

9. Say it with flowers.
One of the best presents I ever received was when we had just moved into our first house in Syracuse. When I came home from having to work on my birthday (on a weekend!) my husband had created a rose garden for me. He had dug, planted, and mulched a beautiful flower bed in the front of the house, and even added a smaller one in the back. I wish I had pictures (I do, just not digital), but it's something I'll always remember.

10. Show that you really care by not throwing a party (surprise or not)!
Personally, I really prefer a low-key, simple celebration, and the thought of a party makes me cringe. I know not everyone feels that way, so I really love that my family has respected this and never thrown me a party!

What's your best way to wish someone a Happy Birthday? 

Friday, June 20, 2014

Back to Basics

I started writing last year, for myself and so I would have a record of some of the important goings-on in my life, mainly reading, knitting, and family. I was surprised to see that the last time I wrote about knitting was almost three weeks ago, and it was really a post about not knitting! Worse yet, I haven't written specifically about books since March, even though I've been reading. It's time to remedy this.

I've read quite a few average books in the last month, but this one stands out as the best in the bunch and one of my all-time favorites. It's non-fiction and the subject is math, but don't let that scare you.
From my goodreads review:
I run across a lot of books that I add to my to-be-read list and then forget about until after their publication dates or I stumble upon the book in the library or bookstore. How Not to Be Wrong was initially one of those books, but it sounded so good that I found myself obsessively thinking about it and started a search for a pre-publication copy. Since I'm not a librarian, didn't win a copy via First Reads, and don't have friends at Penguin Press, it took some time and effort, but having procured a copy and read it, I can say that it was well worth my time and $6.00. How Not to Be Wrong is a catchy title, but for me, this book is really about the subtitle, The Power of Mathematical Thinking.

Ellenberg deftly explains why mathematics is important, gives the reader myriad examples applicable to our own lives, and also tells us what math can't do. He writes, “Mathematics is the extension of common sense by other means”, and proceeds to expound upon an incredible number of interesting subjects and how mathematics can help us better understand these topics, such as obesity, economics, reproducibility, the lottery, error-correcting codes, and the existence (or not) of God. He writes in a compelling, explanatory way that I think anyone with an interest in mathematics and/or simply understanding things more completely will be able to grasp. Ellenberg writes “Do the Math” for Slate, and it's evident in his column and this book that he knows how to explain mathematical ideas to non-mathematicians, and even more so, seems to enjoy doing so with great enthusiasm. I won't pretend that I understood everything discussed in this book, but it's such an excellent book that I intend to buy the hardcover once it's published (so I have an index which my pre-pub copy does not), and reread the book so I do have a much more thorough understanding. I've wished for a book like this for a long time, and I'd like to thank Jordan Ellenberg for writing it for me!

Next time: back to knitting!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

How Does Your Garden Grow?

No silver bells or cockle shells, and if there were any pretty maids all in a row I would put them to work. But in only five weeks, the garden has grown from this:

To this!
We've enjoyed spinach and radishes so far, and I think the snow peas on the far left will be ready very soon. I'm hoping for a tomato or two five weeks from now!

Monday, June 16, 2014


  Thank you, Colorado, for providing a whole new bouquet of varied and colorful 
Western wildflowers!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Wild, Wild West

Bighorn sheep may be my new heroes! By slightly headbutting her Honda, they warned a woman talking on her cell phone while driving that she should really put down the phone and pay attention to the task at hand!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Only Two This Tuesday

This week's Ten on Tuesday topic is Ten Favorite Summer Beverages. I'm taking a shortcut and only listing two:

1. La Folie
2. Transatlantique Kriek

We had the La Folie last night (it was different and wonderful!) and the only thing that is keeping me from opening the Transatlatique Kriek right now is the possibility of a bloody mary made with bacon-infused vodka accompanying brunch this morning!

Monday, June 9, 2014

The Water is Wide

As an East Coast native, I haven't experienced snow melt plus flooding in the wild and raging way it happens in the West. It doesn't make for very good fishing, so we'll just have to make do with beer and yarn!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

SWOT Down!

My husband's employer has used SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) Analysis to evaluate projects, and is increasingly applying these techniques to people also. The best I can tell, this is really just a fancy way of making a pro-con list. When applied to people, it's a way of trying to become more self-aware. I like to think that I recognize most of my own strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats but I got a refresher lesson when the first clue of the TTL Mystery Shawl was released last night. I was awake Saturday night at 11:30 p.m., so when I got the pattern update, I excitedly opened it up...

Augh! Garter tab cast on! Charts! Cluster 3 sts that I need a video to do! Markers that need to be moved! 

Rather than admit defeat without even trying, I cast on and gave it a try. By 2:00 a.m. I had ripped out three times because my stitch counts were wrong and I couldn't find my errors. I finally went to bed feeling lost and overwhelmed. I gave it another try this morning, but to be honest, I don't think my heart was really in it. I was hoping this would be vacation knitting since that's where I am, but this is a little too complicated for my feeble brain on vacation. I should have listened to all my inner reasons why a mystery kal is not the thing for me, and if I had done a SWOT analysis, it would have clearly shown that I would most likely be SWOTted down. So, I'm quitting before I've really begun, very happily returning to my vacation knitting with a great feeling of relief, and will truly enjoy admiring all the lovely shawls knit by others. Lesson learned!