Monday, December 25, 2023

Happy Day!

Merry Christmas, if you celebrate the holiday! If not, dare I say, happy holidays? Maggie will say it. Front of the card:

Don't miss the line underneath.

And on the back:

[Imagine it says ccr before "(and Maggie)"]

What do you think? Are you a more traditional card person, or do you also do silly ones with pets? Or no cards at all? I have missed a few times over the years, but I do like sending them, when it doesn't feel insurmountable.

Sunday, December 24, 2023

Knitting, Thwarted

The knitting part of my Saturday started with knitting through a pedicure. As one does.

The remaining colors go well with the project bag.

I got a few rows done, no problem, but then in the yarn just ahead, what did I see? A knot. I pulled on it, firmly, and it came apart.

Sigh. Damn it. That just shouldn't happen with yarn this expensive. Take a little care.

I tried to get the ends to felt together, after we were home, and they just wouldn't. I'll figure something else out, but I was too annoyed with it to do so last night (ask my mother how mature I sounded as I threw the bag to one side and snapped, "I just want to knit!"), so I grabbed something else. I was thinking about making myself some fingerless mitts, so I had the pattern and yarn together already. I grabbed them, and the gorgeous set of needles I got from a friend for Christmas:

And I got to work.
Yep, that size should fit.
Meanwhile, Miss Maggie shifted around and put her paw on the pattern, which I had laid beside me on the couch (on top of the needle set, on top of the iPad). 
Heaven forbid we disturb the cat, so I leaned my phone over that way and took pictures of the pattern, so I could see what to do. Shortly thereafter, Herself decided to settle down on top of the pattern pile.
"What, were you trying to look at this?"
She next tried to have a bath on the pile.
But eventually she found that unsatisfactory, and moved back on to my lap to bathe and then nap again. And I knit on.

Friday, December 22, 2023

The Rare Perfect Mail Day

Right, so this post is about Monday's mail, and I certainly intended to write about it on Tuesday, but work-mood intruded, and this has been Quite A Week work-wise*, so work being so crazy really cut into my "taking pictures in daylight" time: let's have a cheer for the solstice and the turn toward more light every day, phew. 
*I think the "winner" of the Deluded Deadline game had to be the person who sent in an 80-slide deck on the night of the 20th and didn't even mention she wanted it published this year. You crazy person!

So anyway! Let's ignore the work week, as it is now OVER and I am using my last few vacation days for the days after Christmas, so I am happily looking at five whole entire days in a row off (plus by the time I go back, all the deluded people who think they can publish just one more thing this year will hopefully have run into the brick wall of reality already, stopping them in their deluded tracks). I have jotted down notes about things I would like to get done during this period, but some of them are simple and others are, you know, enjoyable: watching Christmas specials, knitting, and reading, so not too arduous. No big projects. It's not the year for that for me.

Meanwhile, back on Monday! First of all, I took half a vacation day for a friendly get-together and ornament exchange, so I worked a few hours before and a few hours after. Can I just say, that's so much less annoying than working a full day? Amazing. The ornament exchange was great fun; it's a good group of people.

The mail came before I left for my knitting group meet-up Monday evening, and it was perfect. No pointless catalogs, not even a "This is not a bill" mailing, just Christmas cards and yarn. I do enjoy getting cards, and I had gotten only a few, so it made me happy to get some more. I've put them up, along with a few ornaments, on these shelves that already have some photos and other oddments on them.

We're not really decorating for Christmas (if you've been reading the last half of this year, you can imagine why), but this make me smile. Oh, and the Charlie Brown wreath I got on Monday night: it's scrawny and sad, but it smells good, which is what I hoped for when I got it. (The clerk at the big-box store looked at it and said, "We're not charging you for that, are we?" and then rang up the bag of potting soil I was also getting and just charged me for that.)

Then the yarn! Two orders came in. First, from A Chick That Knitz, this lovely yak-blend sock yarn, in my favorite color, blue, and my favorite-color-to-go-with-blue, green.
It's so soft...

Then, in my other favorite color, rainbow, this glory from That's My Color Yarn Shop:
Isn't it gorgeous? It's a cotton-bamboo blend, DK/light worsted weight, 10 mini skeins. No idea what it wants to be yet, but it's so, so pretty.

Speaking of what yarn wants to be, I'm still having a marvelous time with the Radiata shawl in the rainbow yarn from the Blue Brick (last update here). I brought it to a doctor's appointment yesterday, even though it's a bit big for that, and I was glad I did, as there was a LOT of waiting involved. I got several rows done, and as the rows approach 400 stitches, that means something. This pattern suits me so well: I can see where I am, and it builds upon itself in a very satisfying way. I'm counting the stitches after every pattern row, to catch if I missed a yarnover or anything, but it is working for me and I am loving it.

It's currently in the middle of a row and not on a long enough needle to spread out well, so this is blobby but does show that I'm well into the yellow yarn.

Oh, wait, I did take a picture of it last week, all stretched out! It's a few rows back, but gives you a better idea of how the thing will look after it's done and blocked.

Come on, green and blue! Earlier, I was kicking myself for starting with the red end, when I had just finished months of work on the red sweater, but no regrets now. The colors are like a glorious sunset, and then I'll finish the piece on my favorite color. Nothing wrong with that.

I wish you all the best whether this is a holiday weekend for you or not. I know blog-reading won't fit into everyone's schedule this weekend, but I'll probably post again, so come back when you can. Happy Season of the Light Returning.

Wednesday, December 20, 2023

But I Don't

Tonight, I finally boxed up presents that I am mailing to a few friends and family. This is something I've been meaning to do, but just ... haven't gotten done until now. I told myself that I would wrap and box last weekend, and I got some of it done: presents wrapped and boxes picked, even addresses written on index cards. But I didn't finish the boxing.

Tonight I made myself do it, so I can mail them when I'm out for an appointment tomorrow. And you know, it didn't even take half an hour.

But here's the thing: I don't feel bad that I didn't get it done earlier, so that they might arrive before Christmas. It would be easy to say, I had half an hour on Sunday, I could have, should have pushed through and done it!

But you know what? On Sunday I couldn't. Not for any reason. I just couldn't. And that's okay. None of the recipients will mind "extending the celebration season" until after Christmas Day. I don't mind when I get presents, and they won't mind when they do.

I don't feel bad about it. I feel as though I should feel bad. But I don't. Be easy on yourself when you can, okay?

Tuesday, December 19, 2023

Deluded Deadline Bingo

Or maybe it should be Delusional Deadline Bingo? Either way, it isn't a real game, but a lot of the people at work seem to be very, very deluded about how much can get edited and ready to publish before the end of the year. December generally and this week in particular are full of it (in more ways than one, ha).

Some of them are so delusional, they think they don't even have to mention when they send something in that they want it back fast--like, this week, maybe mention that this is your dream? When you send it in for editing?

Anyway, this afternoon I found myself "aggressively," to use Nicole's word, eating ice cream to improve my mood. The funny thing is, this morning I was thinking about how I had something happy to write about! But then I started working and poof, there went the happy thoughts.

I'll try to be back to that mood and topic tomorrow.

Saturday, December 16, 2023

Gifts, Coming and Going

First off, I took part in a secret Santa swap this year (Secret SANta, actually, #SecretSANtaSwap2023), and I have to show you what a fun package I received! 

It started with the box, even:

Which was also fun on the inside, and had cute cat-Santa tissue paper! 
(I clearly need to up my game next year, I never even thought of this level, but it was so fun to get.)

A nice big mug with my initial, fun things to try, and cat toys for Maggie!
And I'll put the pretty spools-of-thread-tree ornament up along with the other ornaments I've bought recently.
We're not decorating for Christmas this year--we've had Too Much Going On--but a few ornaments, a few cards, and they'll make me smile.

Plus Christmas candy:

There is absolutely nothing intrinsically Christmassy about this candy, but we always used to make it at Christmastime, so it feels that way to me. They're kind off odd-looking, I know*, but when you melt chocolate and butterscotch chips together, and then put in cashews and chow mein** noodles, well, it is delicious!

*I used to make them for potlucks and I called them "haystacks" because they do kind of look that way, and calling them Christmas candy seemed to make people expect peppermint to be involved.
**Spellcheck really wants that to be "mien" but it isn't--I checked the package to be sure! But now both look wrong to me.

In other gift news, here are a few festive things I bought myself (that are not yarn). I was in the hardware store, of all places, and had a coupon to use if I spent over a certain amount, so I got this necklace to use it.

It lights up! It makes me feel that we aren't entirely grinching the holiday season. I'm going to wear it to an ornament exchange that I'm going to on Monday. And I plan to wear it over the Christmas weekend.

And I'll also wear this bracelet, which is a bit more "holiday-themed jewelry that one could wear to a grown-up situation" and less "lights up."

Isn't that pretty? 

Now, I need to get to finishing/wrapping/boxing some presents. I'm going to be listening to this song, and there's a backstory.

(If that doesn't play, it's Boney M. - Mary's Boy Child.)

So, my first three years of high school, my Dad drove me (it was very much not on his way to work, but my parents chose the school they did, so). Dad was, like me, not a morning person, so we generally weren't talking*, but listening to the radio. 

*I remember one time, he told me that the roads were the most slippery when the rain just started, before it soaked in, so be more careful then. Seriously. That's how little we talked on these drives, that I remember that specifically.

He liked WBZ, which was mostly news, traffic, etc., but the host of Maynard in the Morning, Dave Maynard, also played a song now and again. And one day, for reasons that escape me if I ever knew, at every song break, he played this song. Over and over! I liked it then, and for some reason it came into my head this week, and I found it online.

And no, I won't be listening to it continuously for an hour or anything. But a few times.

Thursday, December 14, 2023

Want to See? Yes, You Do!

I haven't been updating y'all on my recent yarn purchases! But first, here's the no-longer-red shawl in progress.

It's hard to capture in a photo, but at least on my computer screen, it's not showing as varied as it looks in real life (it looks better on my phone, so who knows). We'll see how that goes.

In terms of the pattern (Radiata, by Nim Teasdale), I am loving it! I wondered how I would do without using markers, as the pattern notes that they will have to move if you use them and that sounded like a pain, but I find that the progression is clear and I don't need them. I love a pattern where I can really SEE if I'm on track! Mind you, I am counting my stitches after every pattern row, since it's awfully easy to miss a yarnover if you're talking and knitting at the same time; while it takes more and more time with the rows already over 300 stitches, it's worth it for the peace of mind. And easier to find a missing one and fix it on the purl-back row that it would be to drop down after that and find the right spot to fix.

Now: yarn! It, ah, it looks like I haven't shown any here since ... November 2? (Checks stash on Ravelry...) Hmm, I have bought quite a lot since then! Well. Ah. How about this: I'll do a photo-dump here, and if there's anything you want to know the details about, just ask, and I'll write it up, with the next lot of yarn that's coming, because yes:

(I have been stressed, I have bought yarn. Yes.)

Monday, December 11, 2023

Firmly Ignoring the Real Issues, aka, Back to Washing Hair

I am a bit stressed (ha ha, just a bit) these days, what with:

  • Mom's health and all the to-dos and things I'm trying to get (and stay) on top of
  • The non-quiet work being done in the building (that effing circular saw for days, plus assorted drills and bangs) and non-quiet work being done across the street (they appear to be digging out their tennis courts? It involves many many vehicles beeping around, again for days)
  • And then this morning my boss's boss told him that we are "supposed to be getting" another six reports to do before the end of the year--we don't know when, we don't know how long they'll be, it's December 11th already and we have none of them

So hey, let's talk more about when to wash your hair in the shower!

I was surprised by how many of you use conditioner so often that you have to factor that into your timing and shower order. My hair is so not-dry that I rarely use it. If I don't wash my hair every day, it starts to look very greasy by the next afternoon, and conditioner can be kind of heavy on it and add to that. I wonder when/if that will change for me? I have heard plenty of people say as they got older, they definitely don't need to wash it every day, but I am not there yet.

One thing I should probably have asked is if people with longer hair feel that keeps the water from going into their face? Mine is kept short, so the water goes off the ends and right into my face. 

I am finding that washing my hair second, not even wetting my hair until after I wash my body, is cutting down on the worst of the issue. Now, did I get into the shower one day, remember not to get my hair wet, and then immediately get a handful of shampoo? Yes, I did. But so far, I haven't forgotten to wash my hair at all, so that's a win in the quest to reprogram an automatic process.

Have you ever had to change a pattern like this, something you don't even have to think about? Did the switch go smoothly? I really laughed when NGS said, "I feel like in the last six months I've been reading more and more about how I've been showering wrong all my life."

Thursday, December 07, 2023

Too Soon Old

As the saying goes, we get too soon old and too late smart. I just realized a work-around for a small thing that has been bugging me for some time, and all I can say is, why didn't I think of it sooner?

So, small problem: When I shower, I often find water running down my face and it gets into my eyes and it's annoying. But what are you going to do, right?

Well. The other day I thought, hey: I always wash my hair first, but what if I ... didn't? So this morning I got in the shower, I didn't get my hair wet until after I'd washed my body and my face first.

And it worked. No water running down my face and into my eyes. Just like that. Huh.

Well, better late than never. Do you wash your hair first or last? Does it bother you to have water flowing into your eyes?

P.S. I'll be sure to let you know the first time I get out of the shower without having washed my hair at all...because that will probably happen!

Wednesday, December 06, 2023

My Songs of the Season

A few people have recently done holiday-themed posts about things like most and least favorite songs, and I was thinking about mine. Up until last weekend, I was quickly going past the radio station playing holiday music (too soon, too soon), but then I was driving on Saturday and had to do a quick jump back to hear what is probably my total favorite, that traditional holiday favorite, Bruce Springsteen. Obviously. I love plenty of the old classics--Bing Crosby, Johnny Mathis, you know what I mean--singing classic carols. But they don't leap to mind as favorites individually.

(Also, can anyone tell me why, in the stack of Christmas CDs I have, there's an unopened CD of Gwen Stefani's You Make It Feel Like Christmas? Who snuck that in here? Weird.)

My Favorite Holiday Songs (no, not just Christmas):

  • Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town, the Bruce Springsteen version. A classic! It was recorded live, and when Bruce is singing the quiet part and Clarence Clemmons starts the ho-ho-ho and you can hear Bruce trying not to lose it laughing, well, I laugh every time.
  • Christmas Wrapping, by The Waitresses. So fun!
  • Hanukkah Song, by Adam Sandler. I love it! (There are a lot of versions, but there's something about the first one...)

Also fun is The Kinks doing Father Christmas and the uncredited Thurl Ravenscroft doing You're A Mean One, Mr. Grinch.

Then there are favorite albums:

  • A Charlie Brown Christmas, obviously. Can we even be friends if you don't love this music? I'm not even a jazz fan, but this, sigh, come on. Love it.
  • John Denver and the Muppets. There are one or two songs that I tend to skip over, but when they do the 12 Days of Christmas, and Miss Piggy starts really getting into/belting out the five gold rings, how can you not love it?
  • The Nutcracker. I have a CD of the music and it's time to pop that one in. When I was a kid, we used to go see the ballet in Boston, and I loved the music even then.

Honorable mention goes to a record I had as a kid, How Lovely Is Christmas, which is told and sung by Bing Crosby*. About 25 years ago, a coworker copied the record onto a cassette for me--gods, I feel so old just writing this--but I don't currently have a reliable tape player**, so I was delighted to find some kind person put it up on YouTube for me.

*This is probably pure nostalgia for me--if you're never heard it, I'm not suggesting you'll love it.

**I have a CD player that has a tape player, but I haven't used it in a long time--I think it has eaten tapes, so I don't trust it.

Sunday, December 03, 2023

Totally Normal Things Knitters Say

  • "I love you, row 19, you are my favorite."
  • "Sure, I can knit some more mice for you."
  • "Yes, it is a nice red, but after doing the whole red sweater*, I'm looking forward to when this isn't a red shawl."
*As seen here

Oh, that last one doesn't make sense? Well, this is a red shawl now, but it won't be for much longer. 

I started Radiata (Ravelry link) with the beautiful yarn from the Blue Brick, Huron MCN Tonal, and once I got into the rhythm of it, I am loving it. It is moderately social knitting--I have to pay attention, and I'm counting stitches after every pattern row, but once I get into the rhythm of a row, I can pay attention to a conversation. 

As with any lace knitting, it will look better after blocking, but trust me, it's all good so far.

Thursday, November 30, 2023

Distraction Hands (like jazz hands? Kind of?)

Life is ... rather a lot right now. Let's talk about something else. I got a new handbag!

I have ridiculously specific desires in a bag. 

  • I do not like switching bags, so it has to work for all outfits and occasions (except a funeral, let's say). This means that on the interesting-to-bland scale, I stick closer to bland.
  • I want a number of pockets so I can grab my keys, my sunglasses, my phone without looking...reach for the chapstick at a red light and find it without get the idea. 
  • I also prefer a bag of a certain size, so I can carry a shawl and a small knitting project at all times. I have a bag I really like, but it's just too small for this part.
  • But I don't want it too much bigger, because I will fill available space, and then throw my back out carrying it.
  • I would like a bag to stand up by itself, but not so strongly that it is stiff. (I know, I know, I am listening to myself. Picky, picky.)
  • Finally, I prefer a shorter, non-adjustable shoulder strap, though I have compromised on this. And I don't want to wear it cross-body anyway, my chest finds that uncomfortable (and unflattering). Bags don't stay on my shoulders happily, so I'm going to be holding it on most of the time anyway. It's just that I get tangled in the longer strap.

I have tried many a bag and been dissatisfied with one thing or another, so lately I have gone back to one I've used often before. 

It is bland. It is a blob. I do not love it, but in terms of functionality, it checks more of the boxes than any other I've found.

I recently went through the Baggalini website to see if I could find another of theirs that I liked more, and lo, I did.

What's that, you say? Navy isn't much more exciting than beige? Well, this bag has a secret.
It's expandable, and when you unzip that, there's a rainbow inside.
I love it!

I also figured out, in a delayed reaction, why there is a review on the website that is Very Upset about the photo showing the bag unzipped. 

At first I was just confused: why is she upset that they are showing an expandable bag both zipped up and unzipped? But then the penny dropped: she feels the bag is promoting the gay agenda? I guess? I don't know. I just like rainbows, but then again, if it is supposed to be LGBTQ+ supportive, well, I am too, so that's fine with me. Sorry, narrow-minded lady.

When I opened the package, I wondered if, despite all my measuring, it was going to be too big, but when they're empty, they pretty similar.

So, this one does have the adjustable shoulder strap style that I don't love, but I'm hoping that in other ways, it will be as good as or better than the old one. 

Sparkly hardware and all.