Friday, March 20, 2015

Friday Letters

I've written a few Friday Letters to recap my week, say what's on my mind, and take the opportunity to offer a thank you or two. Let's open the mail...

Dear People in Hospital Waiting Rooms,

I wish this was a thank you note, thanking you for leaving me alone to knit and listen to my audiobook in peace. Sadly, it is not. Instead, it's a note asking you to please never again spill your coffee on my prized Wollmeise while you are fondling my knitting without asking. The Hitchhiker I'm knitting with this yarn has many good memories already knit into it, but the memory and stain from your clumsiness is one that I hope I can wash out.


Dear Mother Nature,

Six more inches of snow on the first day of spring is just a mean girl prank. I'm sad that I've turned into that cranky old lady that complains about the weather all the time, so I'll stop if you'll stop.


Dear Aetna,

Thank you for making all my interactions with you pleasant and expedient. Thank you for reminding me why I despise insurance companies.


I had a less than stellar week, so my apologies for the bad-humored letters. I'll try to make next week a much better one!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Ten on Tuesday - At the End of the Rainbow

Today's Ten on Tuesday topic is 10 Things You Would Buy If You Found a Pot of Gold. I've searched at the end of the rainbow and never found the mythical pot of gold, but if I did, here's what I would use it for:

1.  A house for our Oldest Son - I'm not sure that members of my sons' generation will be able to purchase a house, no matter how hard they work and save. A house would give him a great start and enable him to put his money towards other things grownups should have, like a car, savings, health insurance... 

2.  A house for our Youngest Son - Because he deserves the same great start as his older brother.

3.  Plane and train tickets - The gold would be put to good use buying plane and train tickets so I could visit my sons more often.

4.  Books, lots of books - Many of these would be for me, but I would also give our small local library a big infusion of cash to purchase more books for their collection.

5.  Yarn and more yarn - Lots of cashmere, alpaca, and maybe I'll even try some qiviut!

6.  A greenhouse - I'm getting ready to start my garden seeds and this has helped fuel my fantasy of how nice a really large greenhouse would be.

7.  Lots of plants to fill my greenhouse - I would fill my huge greenhouse with dwarf citrus trees, Brugmansias, Epiphyllums, Bougainvilleas, lots of amaryllis bulbs, and many orchids.

8.  An on-call masseuse - My neck and shoulders are often tense and achey, so it would be wonderful to page my masseuse and have him give me a relaxing shoulder massage. I don't think I would need him more than an hour a day, so I would be happy to send him to any of you who might also need some relaxation.

9.  Different types of 25-year-old whiskey - It would be fun to buy and try several different bottles of well-aged whiskey and see if I can taste any difference between it and the younger, more affordable stuff.

10. Another college education - I've been to college and graduate school, but there are so many courses I never had the chance to take that I'd jump at the chance to return to school and take some things that really interest me, like Introductory Beekeeping, Queen Rearing, Plant Science, Literature, Creative Writing, and Philosophy. I bet I'd even be more engaged as an older, wiser student.

What are you going to buy when you find your pot o' gold?

Monday, March 16, 2015

One Month Early

I'm rarely a month early for anything, so it's quite possible that I'm really 11 months late with this scarf. I started it for my husband's secretary, Arlene, a week before Secretary's Day in 2014, under some delusion that the knitting gnomes were going to visit in the night and knit while I slept. Of course, I didn't finish it in time, but I did complete it in August with the intention of gifting it to Arlene when she retired at the end of the year. She decided to postpone her retirement, so I put the scarf away without blocking it.

When I was shopping for cards for our many February birthdays, Hallmark alerted me that Administrative Professionals Day is April 22 this year. Usually I'm running around the day before, trying to find a gift to show Arlene how wonderful she is, but this year I don't have to do that!

I blocked the scarf.

Admired and petted it a bit. (I knit it with Smooshy with cashmere.)

I wrapped it.

Now all I have to do is remember where I put it and remember to have John give it to Arlene on April 22. I do hope she likes it, but I'm really loving the feeling of being prepared a month early!

Saturday, March 14, 2015

It's Irrational!

Happy Pi Day to all!
Happy Einstein's Birthday!
I just couldn't ignore this milestone pi day, so let's celebrate with irrational exuberance
 on 3/14/15 9:26:53.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Friday Letters

I've written a few Friday Letters to recap my week, say what's on my mind, and take the opportunity to offer a thank you or two. Let's open the mail...

Dear IRS,

I'm done. Please send money.


Dear Mainframe Whitetails,

Thank you for giving Justin a paid internship this summer! This will be a terrific opportunity for him to put everything he's learned as a Conservation and Wildlife Management major into practice, and hopefully one more step along the road to a full-time job in his field in the near(ish) future. Your offer lifted a great weight off his shoulders, so I'm happy that he is now a bit more pleasant to be around and will only be a few hours away this summer!

Dear Friends on Facebook,

Here is a list of things I don't need to know (but you told me about this week):
You slept through the alarm and are now an hour late to work (but have time to post on facebook.)
You have pink eye.
Your child has pink eye.
You are afraid your dog may get pink eye.
The post office is out of Janis Joplin stamps.
Your dog ate cat poop.


Dear Mary,

In the spirit of not wanting to spend time with one more social media thing, I have resisted Instagram so far (despite your gentle peer pressure!) Can you please reassure me that there are no photos of pink eye and cat poop on Instagram? I may be leaving Facebook in the near future!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015


I have a thing for these little orchids from the grocery store, especially if they're half-price. Who could resist cheery little flowers on the kitchen windowsill? Not me, since I've brought home four of them over the past several years. While exchanging the draft-blocking kitchen curtains for the spring ones that let in all the light, I cleaned the windowsills and noticed something exciting...

Two of my orchids have flower spikes!

 They are certainly not much to look at now, but in about a month or so, I'll (hopefully) have some blooming orchids. What a lovely reward after a long winter!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Ten on Tuesday - Time Is On My Side

Today's Ten on Tuesday is 10 Things You Will Do With Your Extra Hour of Daylight now that Daylight Savings Time has begun. I'm lucky that the time change doesn't seem to bother me much, and I LOVE the extra hour of daylight in the evening. It really feels like time is on my side now!

1.  Take a walk - John and I try to make a habit of taking a long walk together after he gets home from work, so I'm thrilled that we can resume this now that the sun isn't setting until 7 p.m. Our walks so far have still been a bit of a challenge due to plenty of snow and ice, but at least we can see the hazards in the daylight!

2.  Read - Reading in natural light is always nice.

3.  Knit - As with reading, it's much easier to knit with more natural light lasting longer in the evening.

4.  Block - I have a feather and fan scarf that I need to block, but my usual blocking space is quite dark. Now I can see what I'm doing!

5.  Do taxes - I resent almost every moment I spend doing taxes (why do I have to jump through governmental hoops to get my own money back?!), but at least it's a tiny bit more pleasant in the daylight.

6.  Dust - Another unpleasant task as far as I'm concerned, but with more daylight I have seen a lot of dust that I was ignoring in the dark with the drapes closed.

7.  Make gardening plans - The extra hour of daylight makes me feel that ordering seeds, planning my seed-starting calendar, envisioning the garden and maybe some new perennial plantings might not just be wishful thinking.

8.  Grill - It's still too cold for me to make dinner on the grill, but in another month or so, I'll be out there with my hamburgers and chicken. It's so much easier to grill in the daylight than to try and use a flashlight!

9.  Change the clocks - It does seem to take some time to change all the clocks, and this year I decided to throw caution to the wind and not change the clocks on the coffeemaker and the answering machine. Each year there seems to be one important clock that I forget about, and this time it was the programmable thermostat. We'll see how long it takes me to figure out how to change the clock in my car.

10.  Read this article - I hadn't thought about fewer robberies and unhappy dairy farmers.

What will you do with your extra hour of daylight? Make it enjoyable, whatever it is!

Friday, March 6, 2015

Friday Letters

I've written a few Friday Letters to recap my week, say what's on my mind, and take the opportunity to offer a thank you or two. Let's open the mail...

Dear Next Door Neighbor,

I can hardly thank you enough for snow blowing our sidewalk last night. When I finished shoveling the driveway and trudged up front to start the sidewalk, sadly and exhaustedly dragging my shovel behind me, I almost cried tears of joy when I saw that you had already done it (except my tears would have frozen since it was -8°). The sounds of you rescuing us with your kindness and working snow blower had been drowned out by John cursing repeatedly when our snow blower broke after blowing snow for about 25 feet. I have already ordered the $60 part and hopefully we won't need it again this season. Your thank you muffins will be baked and delivered this morning.

Dear Ryan,

You know we are happy to support your educational pursuits, both emotionally and financially, but you'll have to forgive me if my support seems to be wavering just a tiny bit. When you called to ask if you could use the credit card to book a flight to Tuscon for the Arizona Winter School, we said yes immediately. Graduate students don't have extra money for spring break trips, and this one is more like "Mathematicians Gone Wild" than the usual sun, fun, and alcohol-soaked Spring Break. It's just that I've been thinking about you "letting X be a smooth projective variety over a global field k and focusing on obstructions to existence of rational points on X" in sunny 80° weather and envy got the better of me. I will be basking in our 40° and maybe even go wild by going outside without my coat!

Dear Daylight Saving Time,

Welcome back; I'm greatly looking forward to your return on Sunday! I'll be the one sitting in the sun on the patio at 7:00 pm Sunday evening.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Je suis fatigué

With another foot or more of snow falling today, I'm experiencing some moderate to severe winter fatigue along with thousands of others, but even I wouldn't go so far as to describe it this way.

We've lost power twice so far, but I made two pots of soup (potato and split pea) so we won't starve during the weather hell. Maybe we'll even make some grilled cheese sandwiches in the fireplace with the pie iron.

At least the birds are happy, and I will be also when the temperatures are in the 40s next week.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Ten on Tuesday - You're Invited...

Photograph. Designs Concepts Interiors., 24 Dec. 2013. Web. 2 Mar. 2015. Disclaimer: Photo was not taken in my dining room!

Picture this: you are hosting a dinner party and you can invite 10 fictional characters from books. Who would you invite? What a fun Ten on Tuesday! My engraved invitations are going out to these characters:

1.  Dumbledore (Harry Potter) - We could talk about knitting patterns, and then I would ask him why he kept so much important information from Harry. Also, where can I get a phoenix of my own?

2.  Luna Lovegood (Harry Potter) - She always has such a unique take on things, and I bet she could contribute some truly interesting fodder for conversation.

3.  Sherlock Holmes - I'd love to chat with him in person and get a better understanding of how his mind works. He would, of course, look exactly like Benedict Cumberbatch.

4.  Watson - Poor John has always been a bit overshadowed by Sherlock, so I would like to be able to tell him that I always thought he was much smarter than Conan Doyle gave him credit for. I'd also like to get the real story about what it was like to work with Sherlock.

5.  Miss Marple - I'd love to see her knitting and I'm sure she would have lots of interesting and revealing observations about the other guests and what they're really up to.

6.  Fiona Maye (The Children Act by Ian McEwan) - She was such a logical, reasonable family court judge who was able to rule with intelligence, empathy, and humanity; it would be wonderful to chat with her about how she managed this, and what costs were exacted in her personal life.

7.  Louisa Clark (Me Before You by JoJo Moyes) - Louisa is one of those characters that manages to just get on with her life, no matter what crummy circumstances she has to face. I'm sure that conversation with her would be both enlightening and helpful. I would also be able to ask her about her life now, before After You is published in September!

8. and 9.  Raymond and Harold McPheron (Plainsong and Eventide by Kent Haruf) - These bachelor brothers and ranchers add some much-needed humor to Holt, Colorado, simply with their down-to-earth, honest demeanor and actions. I think they could do the same at the dinner party, along with providing excellent examples of how change is possible, even in the most stagnant lives.

10.  Quoyle (The Shipping News by Annie Proulx) - Although Quoyle initially appears as a downtrodden underdog, he demonstrates the capacity for real change by creating a rewarding job, a loving family, and a life for himself. I would love to get his take on it and hear about his life in Newfoundland now.

I haven't given much thought to how these characters will interact at the party, but I will be serving plenty of pre-dinner wine and drinks (Pan-Galactic Gargle Blasters from Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy may be a bit too much) to loosen everyone up for a fun and interesting evening. This is a dinner party I would really look forward to!