Sunday, June 27, 2010

Where have I been? Working, thinking about my friends and family so far away, trying to get ready for retirement and downsizing, knitting socks, watching Masterchef Australia. I love to cook but this season they seem to be aiming more at restaurant style foods and not stuff I'd whip up at home. Like pigeon with truffles. Instead I made a pot of curried cauliflower soup and have the makings for more pumpkin soup. In winter I live on soup, bread and fruit, usually pears and mandarines. At least the Masterchef trio have allowed desserts into the competition, and there are fewer contestants who have never made pasta/meringue/pastry/mousse as they had last year. Unfortunately the show airs right at the time I would normally be eating my dinner and therefore I am sometimes skimping on my dinner meal in order to watch other people cook.

I've been reading too. Whipped through William Gibson's Idoru, which wasn't as good as the others I have read recently (i.e., Pattern Recognition), and Janet Envanovich's Finger Lickin' Fifteen, which was a hoot as always. I am now in Darwinia by Robert Charles Wilson. Of course, there can't help but be comparisons to the S.M. Stirling change saga but there's a very different tone due to the time when the change took place: 1912 vs 1998.

I spent yesterday driving all over Canberra shopping and today feel like I've been run over by a truck. I bought a granite mortar & pestle (I know--how have I cooked this long without one?) and a rug for the living room to replace the grotty thing in there now. My challenge is how to get the old rug out and the new one in without getting assistance to move furniture. And what will the Imp think of it? I also bought new ceiling light fittings for the lounge and bedroom and ordered a new pendant lamp for the kitchen. I spent a lot of time fruitlessly looking for a new kitchen table. Everyone wants to sell dining room table for 8 and I just want a square or oblong table with simple wooden chairs for my kitchen. It is out there somewhere but I tramped around a lot without finding it.

Thinking about my sister also got me back on the genealogical front, adding details about the maternal line. Ancestry just added a lot of land titles and I found my great grandfather's land grant in Benton, Pennsylvania. I also found out how the exotically named Naomi LaPorte ended up marrying into the Rhone family line: French refugees, which is perhaps where my mother's myth that we were descended from General Lafayette's family arose.

The next 4 weeks are to be spent cleaning out junk. I'll get a skip on Monday and start heaving stuff in it. No time to be sentimental about rusty tools formerly the Bear's. I can't use them and nobody else wants them so out they go.

Swans news: They played horrendously Sat. night against the Pies and lost badly. Somehow we manage to stay in the 8 but playing like that won't keep us there. For the first time I saw Roosy totally lose it at quarter time and give them an earful. They deserved it. Back to watching the other team play and an accasional defensive play. J and I turned off in disgust after our usual round of sms-ings.

Spinning: I wound off 450 m. of plied white alpaca that looks pretty darned spiffy if I do say so. Somebody suggest I try selling it online but I don't know if that is worth the effort. I do seem to be spinning faster than I can knit and I already have a LOT of yarn in the stash. Once I finish the socks currently under construction I can get back to serious knitting. I'm plying another lot of the red I've shown previously and I've plucked from the stash a hamk of SW merino from Laughing Rat Studio in a colourway called house finch: purple brown and blue.

In 4 days it will be July 1 and the third anniversary of his death. It seems like yesterday and yet feels like an eon. I could never have pictured myself living alone and making major decisions about my future by myself. Not having someone smarter than you to bounce ideas off makes me unsure of myself sometimes. I seem to have accepted that my future will be a single one, but there still isn't a day that goes by that I don't wish for him back. "What if" is pointless but and easy game to play. I miss him.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Just wanted to check in to tell you where I've been. Since it's a long weekend here (Queen's Birthday) and I can now stay with dear MIL, I went to Sydney for 2 days. We had our usual fun time, eating Chinese food, watching animation DVDs (The Incredibles and Shrek) and I went to see the Bear's final resting place in the cemetery. It was my first chance to see the plaque I had ordered. I also took the opportunity of using the maps I downloaded for my US GPS device to find my way around Sydney. I never drove in Sydney when the Bear was alive because he knew (or believed he knew) all the back roads to get around. I sometimes had a hard time convincing him that they might have built new roads since he last lived there (like the Eastern Distributor). But now I have a GPS device named Mandy who can direct me to where I want to go. She doesn't always use the most direct roads but she does get you there. She got J and I to Kensington and she got MIL and I to Watsons Bay. And why Watsons Bay? Anybody knows that one: Doyle's. I've eaten there many times since 1986 when X2 and I managed to get from Kings Cross to Watsons Bay to eat at this fabled restaurant. It hasn't changed in all the years, except the prices have gone very far up. Having said that, I had the most perfect (and huge) piece of barramundi and their awesome chips, and didn't begrudge the total. To the right is our view of Sydney CBD from the beach and you can see what a gorgeous day we had, even if it was a bit windy. Above to the left is a view of the Heads from the top of the hill going down to the Bay.

MIL and I are already planning another trip, maybe going into the city so I can stock up at David Jones food hall, or even go to Galaxy bookstore, as if I needed more sci-fi to read. I have to keep kicking myself repeatedly to remind myself that I am trying to reduce the number of books in this house no matter how Amazon or other places try to entice me.

I am almost finished with Deceiver, which is the latest in C.J. Cherryh's Foreigner series and is so engrossing that you could easily just sit down and read in one sitting. But then I'll have to wait a long time for the next one. I'm operating under the rule of reading big books first, so I will tackle hardbacks before paperbacks. My BBBB is now The Great Game, and it progresses a bit faster than I'd like in a BBBB, but it is fat. It's about the battle between Britain and Russia over the routes in Central Asia where the two empires came into contact, with Russia flexing it's muscles and Britain defending India. Of course, all a precursor to events of today, or even yesterday when Russia invaded Afghanistan leaving a mess behind.

Home again and housework calls, things like laundry and cleaning the kitchen floor. And weeding the book stock as well.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Ok, then, the high-knit-content post. To the right we have what I have been spinning for the last few weeks. It's wool, I can't remember where I bought it, but I think somewhere on one of the jaunts with BFLB on my last trip to the states. I've spun and plied a full big bobbin and am on my way to doing it again so I should have enough of it to make something like a vest. The yarn is rustier red than it appears on my monitor but you know the drill about monitors & colours. It's really nice to spin and easy to do if I pre-draft it because it was pretty compressed.

At left are my first hand spun socks. I posted the photo of the sock wool a while back and they are now socks (as yet un-worn). I cleverly placed the socks for the photo so the foot of one is covered. I was unsure of the yardage on my spun wool so the first sock got feet made from leftover wool from commercial sock yarn, but I did have enough to knit the entire sock for its match. Not much left over. I should be careful to spin more finely in the future to squeeze the 400 yds out of 4 oz of wool. I bought some pretty SW BFL in purples and plums for socks (I can't seem to find enough purple socks in my drawer) and I have some SW merino, bamboo and nylon to spin as well. That's in green and brown and blue.

I was going to post a photo of one of my mother's sweaters that I am reluctantly going to discard but the light wasn't catching the details in the cables. The sweater is about 35 years old. I learned to knit late in life because my mother always kept me supplied in knitted clothes (no socks, tho). The sweater in question is a rose red and is covered in cables with rib sleeves. It is knit in acrylic because at the time it was knit I was living in North Carolina and had little use for heavy knitware. I've worn it regularly over the past 35 years but it is developing holes and I can't easily match yarn. Now that I know how to knit I can see all the mistakes, especially the cables that went in the wrong direction. I wore the sweater happily for 15 years without knowing there were mistakes in it which should prove something. Now I need room for new products of my own needles, so I will bid it good bye. It owes me nothing in wear, and I have a much more substantial example of my mother's knitting that is of the same vintage, so it is not the last product of her needles. I only learned how to knit and purl as a young person, and could knit scarves, but that was it. Knitting patterns were entirely in a foreign language and I got easily scared by the dire warnings from the yarn manufacturers about what would happen if you didn't use their yarn. Now I'll knit anything but lace and hope I'll conquer that someday. I used to think socks were impossible and now they are mindless.

Swans news: They lost again to Hawthorn but won a gusty match at the SCG against Essendon last week in similar conditions to the match J & I attended, i.e., rain. They fought back from behind and really played hard to grab the game away. This weekend they play Port in Adelaide at night and I am uncertain whether they can manage this. Let's hope they don't listen to my uncertainty and gloom and rise above.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

I had planned to post a heavy-knit-content post with photos of what I've been working on but I got some news yesterday that has knocked me sideways. My sister was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia and has months to live. I have non-traditional family with children of different parents all calling each other sister and brother altho we are not, and we have relatively large gaps between ages. The person I refer to as my sister is the other child of my mother by a different father, and I grew up with her for my younger years. She is 14 years older than I. We only became relatively friendly after our mother died and we are not what I'd call busom buddies. I would have expected my elder brother (different mother, same father) who is 85 to go first. But my sister G has fought off breast cancer, which killed our mother. The chemo probably triggered the leukemia and the prognosis is not good. I was surprised how hard it hit me. I just got off the phone with her and she is doing as well as can be expected, and does not expect to see me before the end. I will go over for her memorial and she told me to wear a nice dress (!). When I told her I don't own a dress, she permitted me to wear slacks. While I had decided not to go to the states this year, it looks like I will be anyway, under different circumstances.

I didn't get much sleep last night and hope I can do better tonight.