Monday, August 24, 2015

Hard Work

I have gone through my books, taken a LOT of them to Goodwill for their used book sale, and now I am trying to put books back into the shelves. It is not easy, y'all!!!

My husband tried to "help" by just grabbing a stack of books and slapping them on a shelf.

NO!  NO!  NO!

Not just any book can go next to just any other book! Good heavens!!!

They MUST be arranged by author, and by an amorphous, mysterious system known only to me.

Of course, Henry James goes with...Henry James and with Evelyn Waugh. Duh. Everyone knows that. Easy peasy.

Barbara Kingsolver goes with Sherman Alexie and Louise Erdrich and Michael Dorris,  

says I. Clear as day. Although I might need to rearrange the order amongst them. Hmmmm....

And Richard Russo (I love him) needs to be with Richard Ford. He just does.

Of course David Sedaris, Allie Brosh and Murr Brewster all hang out together. They make each other (and me) laugh. The Bloggess would be here too, but she is in my e-reader where she will never have to be dusted or rearranged. 

But then there are the one-offs.  A single book by a particular author, like Loving Frank by Nancy Horan. What to do, what to do? 

A friend of my older daughter just rearranged her books by COLORS!!!

But, but, but....I said.  I KNOW, said my daughter. How does she find the book she is looking for???

That's just a crazy system.

Now, back to work on my completely sensible, logical and practical method.  This might take some time....

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Why I, More and More, Really Love eBooks

For some unknown reason, I decided that today is the day to clean out bookshelves, sort through and cull some books, vacuum shelves and wipe them down with a damp cloth.

Do you know how much dust can accumulate on books and bookshelves??? How long has it been, I wondered, since I last did this. I don't know! But I'm old and my memory doesn't always work right, and that's why I can't remember when I last cleaned shelves out. Really, that is why.

iBooks and eBooks and whatever else they are called can't accumulate dust. The eReaders can't accumulate dust, unless you never pick them up to read. I will never have to do all of this work on the books in my reader and on iCloud and wherever else the books are.

And that is why I really love eBooks.  

Pffttt.... to hard copy books.  

Friday, August 21, 2015

Wabi Sabi

is said to mean an acceptance of imperfection in the world.

If so, then this scarf that I finally finished is an example of it. There are definitely mistakes in it, but I don't care.  It's finished.

I did not like the yarn.  It's scratchy but I am hoping that a soak in Soak will help soften it up. It is 100% cotton, but it feels like thin strips of paper. Scratchy paper.

And the pattern should be really easy, but it wasn't. That's my fault though; something easy doesn't keep my attention and I make mistakes. I swear that I frogged half as many rows on any given day as I knitted. Progress was s.l.o.w..

But it's finished and I will never make another one, and I will never use the yarn again. I was obsessed and decided to finish it before I worked on finishing my Soumak in time to take it to Ireland. I'm not sure it's possible for me to knit that fast, but I will knit and knit and knit away until I can't any longer.  

Wish me luck.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

#1 If Everyone is Special,

then no one is special.

I'm talking to you Pre-check officials.  

You need to stop just willy-nilly giving pre-check to everyone. Then the pre-check lines are just as long as the cattle-cabin lines and even though I sat in the cattle back of the plane,  I don't like waiting in lines and that IS all that matters (at least to me).  


#2  A perfect day in the Adirondacks is really, really perfect! Temperatures in the 70s, low humidity, blue skies, the tiniest bit of rain, and very spotty coverage for iThings.

We spent the weekend at my husband's family's farm in Hadley, New York. It's been in the family since before

and his descendants gathered over the weekend to relax and hang out. No schedules, just food, swimming and catching up with people, some of whom hadn't been together since the last reunion ten years ago. Some of the "kids" at that reunion were all grown up and had kids of their own. 

And then there was this, after about twenty minutes of rain:

A double rainbow!!!

On Sunday, back to the airport. And lines.....

Wednesday, August 12, 2015


Clearly I am falling behind. 

I need better weather and flatter terrain.

And that's the truth.  

(And S, I don't want to hear about the treadmill again. I hate the treadmill!!!)

Sunday, August 9, 2015


Now from younger daughter:

So now I am "friends" with two people, both of whom are far more exercise-friendly than I am.

Show offs!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Places I Have Lived, However Briefly. As a Tourist.

My all-time favorite?  

A house in San Miguel de Allende. It was 300+ years old, had 3’ thick walls, and a huge courtyard around which all of the rooms on three floors were arranged.  The third floor was the rooftop garden which had an almost all-glass room, a bedroom, built on it.  

One of the group of us who went to Mexico that year had heard an NPR story about a serial rapist in San Miguel who went from rooftop to rooftop during the night in order to have access to houses and bedrooms. The not-terribly motivated police had been stumped about his access until a tourist did some checking and figured out the common factor in these crimes—-rooftops. The same traveling companion who told us about these rapes volunteered for the beautiful top floor bedroom. Am I suspicious of her motive in telling us this story our first afternoon at the house? Yes, yes I am.  

View of San Miguel from our rooftop garden.

Most celebrities met as a result of renting? (Made up category, I know.)

Two.  For a bit over a month I lived in a house on Cape Cod. I had graduated from college and was living at my parents’ home and working at the same tedious typing job I had had during summers while I was in college.  The company offered me a full-time regular job; I said Hell No and accepted the invitation of a friend to move to the Cape. We rented rooms from two Air Force guys who were periodically stationed in Greenland. My room led to the rooftop patio over the garage and I could hear the ocean at night.  

The “celebrities”? One was a woman who claimed that she was Ernest Hemingway’s granddaughter. We thought that she was a bit old to be his granddaughter in the late 60s, but we were 19 and 20 so I guess anyone older than 30 was old to us. She, whoever she really was, told us her sad life story over iced tea after she ordered us into her home to be chastised for picking daisies along the road. Her house was way off the road so we hadn’t assumed that the flowers belonged to anyone, but she came screaming down the driveway shouting at us that the flowers did, in fact, belong to God. I am not personally in touch with him, but I do suspect that he would have preferred that the flowers enjoyed some time in a vase of water in our house rather than having them wilt into nothing on the scorching hot seat of our convertible while we "visited" with the crazy lady. I don't know what induced us to go into her home with her since we did have a getaway car. Curiosity and stupidity I suppose.

The other celebrity meeting took place, again on Cape Cod, when I was hitchhiking. Yes, I hitchhiked. Just that once. I would be mortified if my children or grandchildren hitchhiked, but I was young and dumb, and the sixties were a kinder time (say I). As Maya Angelou is supposed to have said, “I did then what I knew then; when I knew better, I did better,” as in, I don’t hitchhike now. There are cell phones and Uber now, y’all.

Back to my ride:  I am convinced that Truman Capote picked me up; he sure looked like him. We had a nice chat, we stopped at his home and he invited me in while he went to get some papers, but I stood in the doorway. We went back to his car and he took me to my destination. 

See?  Kinder times. 

I did once use the Googles to see if Mr. Capote had ever lived on Cape Cod, but I couldn’t find a trace of him there, so he might not have been my driver, but I like to think he was.

Mr. Capote.  Um.  Doesn't look like Cape Cod.

Strangest rental story?  

That was the million dollar+ condo we rented for a week in Puerto Morelos, Mexico.  We hadn’t intended to rent it and we could never have afforded to rent it, but the night before I was to fly there, I had a call from the owner of the house to tell me that her considerably more modest stand-alone house on the beach was now surrounded by armed guards, and we wouldn’t be able to get into the house. Seriously? Armed guards???

A group of lawyers owned the land the houses were on, but the homes themselves were privately owned. The lawyers wanted to use the land to put up a high rise condo complex.  The other homeowners had already capitulated and had sold their houses to the lawyers; the homeowners we rented from were trying to keep their house.

At first the lawyers cut off the above-ground electricity to the house; the owners buried the electric cables. The lawyers hired a bulldozer to dig a trench around the house, thereby cutting off the electricity again. The owners re-attached the power; the lawyers cut it off again, and stationed armed guards around the house. The owners had the guards arrested and put in jail; the lawyers paid off the police and the guards went back to work.

Not OUR armed guards; I was too chicken to take their photos, but ours looked like these men!

Fortunately for my friends and me, the homeowners had a friend who managed the condos up the beach and he arranged for us to have use of an empty one for the week for the same rent we had paid for the house. It was wonderful, luxurious and right smack on the beach.  A few years ago we went back to Puerto Morelos and the house was gone; ALL of the private homes in that area were gone and a huge condo complex was in their place. I am sorry for the homeowners; I don’t remember now how much they had been offered for their houses, but I do remember that it wasn’t much for a home on the beautiful Caribbean beach. 

Weirdest place?

My friend Jean and I were the only two women left who wanted to go to Mexico the year before last, and we rented a house on the beach. We went through all the houses available through HomeAway and picked one. We thought. Apparently we had picked two different ones, both coincidentally with the same rent, sent in our deposit and showed up on schedule. Jean had specified a house with no stairs. We got there after following a handyman from the rental agency in town.

First problem? Stairs. Two bedrooms were on the second floor; one was on the first. So Surprise! but we could work with that. Jean took the downstairs bedroom.

Second problem? The rooms, except for bedrooms and bathrooms, were outside. There were roofs over the living area, kitchen and dining area, but there were only walls on one side, the side that adjoined the bedrooms. That was not what either of us had ever anticipated.  

During the flight to Mexico, Jean had kept insisting that there was no view of the ocean and I had kept arguing that there certainly was, for heaven’s sake, look AT THE PHOTOS!!!  After a lot of confusion on our part and that of the handyman, we realized that we had been looking at two different rentals, and since the photos of the one I was viewing didn’t show the LACK OF WALLS, I hadn’t known that we would essentially living outdoors. This place was the closest I ever need to come to camping.

Our "home away from home"  Outdoor kitchen and dining room below, outdoor living room above. Bedrooms to the left.

View from the outdoor living room. 

Fancy plumbing!

However, there was an advantage to this arrangement. One morning, from the living room upstairs off of my bedroom, I saw a lot of people standing on the beach wall pointing out to the ocean.  I joined them to see what was up, and what was up were three whales, possibly more, playing in the water. They entertained us for about 15 minutes and then continued their journey north for the winter. I would never had seen them if I had been living in the house Jean thought we had rented: it was next door, and because of the landscaping, there was truly no view of the beach or ocean from there. And because it had walls, imagine that! I would never have heard the commotion on the beach, alerting me to the sight of the whales.

Younger daughter in Ireland last year.  I want to go there!

So I am.

Next adventure?

Ireland, in September.  dH and I are going, but we aren’t staying any one place long enough to rent a house.  We’ll be in hotels, but I have heard there are castles that rent rooms to tourists. Hmmm…..
Puck's Castle, Ireland

Ummmm no.  Not this one.  

Monday, July 27, 2015

Fat Chance

I received this in my e-mail today:

FROM MY OLDER DAUGHTER, who apparently likes to taunt me.

According to Fitbit, Fitbit people who are friends with other Fitbit users exercise 27% more than those without Fitbit friends.


We'll see about that.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

What Caused This Mess?

 This did:

I opened the door to the closet where I keeps current projects and lots of stuff that should go to Goodwill important things, and this dead moth was right there on the floor, in front of me, taunting me, and testifying to the fact that I needed to check the closet and its contents.


As much yarn as I can fit into the freezer is in the freezer. The rest is waiting for its turn, unless I decide to toss it all into the car and leave it for a few hot days.  

Do moths serve any purpose in the whole circle of life thing?

I think not.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Sisters' Magical Mystery Murder Tour

My LA daughter seems to have a proclivity for picking out apartments close to sites where notorious murders have taken place, although, now that I think about it, that may be unavoidable. Or maybe I've read too many Michael Connelly novels. 

Her first apartment was in a great location, in an Echo Lake unit built into the basement of a house on the side of a mountain. It was a quirky place, with walled-off steps on the back side of the apartment; she and her roommate used the steps as bookshelves. The refrigerator was in a hallway leading from the kitchen; the dishwasher didn't work; there was no AC or heat and electricity was undependable if too many things were plugged in at once. But large windows were on one side of the apartment and looked out over the street below, and then down and out to one of LA's freeways. At night the view was beautiful with all those faraway car lights sparkling in the dark.

The apartment was at the end of a dead-end street, and that was unfortunately a way to describe the hillside descending from the opposite side of the street. It was where some of the Hillside Strangler's victims found their dead end.

Now my daughter lives in Los Feliz, an interesting area of Los Angeles with a mix of housing styles, apartments, and businesses. She can walk to Gelson's, a great grocery store, Trader Joe's, restaurants, laundromats, interesting little shops, and she regularly walks around a reservoir and through the neighborhood for exercise.  

On her route is this former convent. 

This convent was in the news recently because it belongs to some nuns who no longer live there and who sold it a couple of weeks ago for 15.5 million dollars. A group of nuns had bought the place with money they raised themselves decades ago, and two of the five remaining nuns felt it was the nuns' right to sell it. The new owner, restauranteur and nightclub owner, Dana Hollister, is already living in the convent and says that she might turn it into a "hip" hotel.

However, Los Angeles Archbishop José Gomez had agreed to sell it to Katy Perry for 14.5 million dollars and is going to file papers to negate the sale that has already taken place. The Archbishop says that the nuns had long ago signed papers that allow the Dioceses to sell the convent. This will all end up in court next month, and the nuns vow that they will take the fight to the Vatican if necessary.

My daughter wonders if Katy Perry, or the new owner, knows that this convent is right next door to the Manson Murder House, where Leno and Rosemary Labianca were murdered by the Charles Manson "Family" in 1969.  Spoooooky....

My daughter lives where the blue dot is; the convent and the Manson Murder House are marked in red.
My daughter did not move to either of these apartments BECAUSE there had been murders nearby; that would be weird! I really like the area she lives in now, and I think she does too. But if she decides to move, I guess she could check out locations where the Freeway Killer(s) worked.

Or maybe not.

Definitely not, even though her sister does want to take The Magical Mystery Murder tour the next time she visits.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

And I Halp'd

Remember that ancient ad for Hamburger Helper? I think that's what it was for. Well, my helper is not a cute little girl. It's Baxter.

See all the hairs on my NEW (be still my heart) ironing board cover? Baxter's contribution to my ironing.

And he helps with the warm, just-out-of-the-dryer laundry.

By sitting on it.  

Thanks, but no thanks.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Just Three to Go. Three to Go....Three to

This will never end!

I just finished the fifth section of Soumak and I was so pleased with myself....until I realized that there are eight sections total.

So I have three to go. 

It's 45 inches long. Or several cats in length. Baxter didn't think the tape measure was precise enough apparently, and added himself to help.

Three sections to go.....

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

My Daughter's Post on FB

As she wrote in today's post, she had brain surgery five weeks and six days ago to remove an Acoustic Neuroma from near her left ear.  

She had excellent surgeons, a great hospital (USC Keck Medical) and a determination to recover the balance the surgery took away; the tumor was attached to the vestibular nerve on the left side of her brain and so the surgeons cut the nerve in order to remove the entire tumor. Lots of physical therapy and a lot of balance exercises, both at PT sessions and at home, and a zillion steps later, she has 100% of her balance back, and for some unknown reason, has her hearing back. She had lost 40% of it in her left ear after the surgery, but yesterday's audiology tests showed that she now hears as well as she used to.

So Yay! for great surgeons and Yay! for Sarah!!!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

OH THE HUMANITY!,  not the humanity, geeze.


Has Knittergran been building tents in the backyard? you ask.

Nope. She has been hosting some members of her granddaughter's climbing team at her house. And this is all that remains of their visit. There were (one night) the following people: my daughter, the coach, the assistant coach, and five climbers.

The next night:  the coach and six climbers. My daughter and the assistant coach flew back to Austin; the extra climber came from? A different team? Yes, but it's too complicated to explain.

And now there are none.  We had all been to Chattanooga for a regional competition and then we all came back here so that the climbers could check out the new Stone Summit gym in Kennesaw, where Nationals will be held in July.

And in Chattanooga, the kids climbed the outside wall (15 meters high) in heat so bad that the automatic timers didn't work and the grips were hot, hot, hot. 

This is video of my granddaughter's climb.  She is on the right wearing the green shirt:



She made it!

Her team will be back in July.

And I need to get going on the laundry if I want it to be finished by then.

Monday, June 1, 2015

How You Know You are in California

I bet this place has been really, really busy since the release of San Andreas.

THIS "Doctor's Office" is not for flu shots.

Of course, because I AM in LA, I had to see San Andreas and as a result, I have advice for anyone living in an earthquake zone:

1.  Meet the Rock.

2.  Stay by his side forevermore. He won't mind. 

3.  Wear a helmet.  All of the time.

And since my daughter's successful (whew!) surgery to remove an acoustic neuroma, I think we should all wear helmets all of the time. I've been reading all things brain-related, and I'm not sure I trust the skull to protect the brain well enough: the brain is gel-like and the skull can break. My daughter now has a titanium plate to cover the portion of bone the surgeons took out, and the titanium is stronger than bone; maybe our skulls could be replaced by titanium. hmmm......

Bonus LA sight:

The only interesting/weird thing seen at yesterday's Melrose Place flea market:

I didn't see anyone buy it, so it's probably still up for grabs y'all.  

Sunday, May 31, 2015


I have too many stitches and I can't figure out how it happened. Maybe because I was knitting last night in low light and without my glasses. Because I'm smart like that.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

totally random

Seen yesterday on our drive through West Hollywood. There are a lot of Scientology buildings here, and while we felt a mysterious force pulling at us, we were strong and kept on driving.

And it's a good thing because plans for today included going to the BEACH!!! The BEACH!!! My favorite place on earth.  

In case you didn't see the previous post of the gorgeous beach and ocean, it's right below this one.

However, across the street from the ocean are these views:

Do you see the debris tumbling down the ravine in the first photo? It's stuff that used to be on the road above, and across the road are very expensive homes and condos. The second photo is of the support structures holding the road above up. But the soil is washing away and I'm glad I don't own any of the homes up there. What an amazing view they have until the land all falls away.  

On the way back to my daughter's apartment, we go by this ...shrine? home? art installation?

I don't know, but there is a man who lives under a tarpaulin and sits out sometimes in a battered upholstered armchair of indeterminate color.  

I've seen him sitting in his chair and I've seen him tending his installations. My daughter says that friends have stopped to offer him bottled water and sunscreen. He yelled and threw rocks at them. My daughter has asked him how he was doing and he has responded: Oh, you know. Just working on my script. Alrighty then.

I would love to interview him, but this whole thing, his home I guess, is situated on a sliver of land between two roads. There is no place to stop or park without going a block or so away and then walking over to see him. Getting rocks thrown at me is not an inducement to put in the effort, so I'll just say hi as I wait at the light.  

At the end of the area, where the turn is, and where I was today when the light turned green, is a trash can with Coin Toss hand lettered on it. It would take really good aim to get anything in it, but as my daughter said, he is very likely to go pick up what misses. Next time I'm there and have a red light, I'll give it a try.

We are having perfect weather, and I hear that Georgia is hot, rainy and humid. I think I'll have to stay a few more days.  

Where I Am

videoSanta Monica Pier is in the distance.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Michael Jackson, BBB and Parallel Parking

What do these three things have in common?  Normally, nothing, but today I PARALLEL PARKED, almost perfectly, all by myself. (Not entirely. My daughter was in the car shouting instructions, but I ignored her.)

We wanted to go to Bed, Bath and Beyond, and the one closest to her is in HOLLYWOOD, y'all! On Vine, as in Hollywood and Vine. So off we went and we found a spot right outside of BBB. When I got out of the car to admire my parking skill (who parallel parks anymore?), I noticed the star we were next to.

Good old Michael's.

I was surprised that there weren't lots of tourists/fans standing around sobbing and taking photos and that there weren't flowers on it. Daughter says that there usually are flowers.

We walked around the block looking at the stars, and I had no idea who a surprising number of the stars thereby honored were. I suppose that today's youths, like my daughter and younger, don't know either. 

Fame is fleeting. One minute you are a big deal, the next moment you are dead and forgotten, and in Michael's case, you end up memorialized next to Bed, Bath and Beyond.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Laundromat

Here I am, at an LA laundromat. I haven't done laundry in a laundromat in a million or two years but the only machine at my daughter's apartment is broken. I've always thought that the next great American novel would be written about what goes on at a place like this, but it won't happen today. The only thing happening is that an old man (that means my age) is singing along to American Pie on the radio.

That and my apparent inability to count to seven. I must have only put six quarters in the machine and when it wouldn't start, I went to the worker to get help. Needed one more quarter.

If I'm not smart enough to count to seven all by myself, I am probably not smart enough to write the next great American novel.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Acoustic Neuroma Awareness Week

May 10-May 16th is now Acoustic Neuroma Awareness Week.  You may wonder why I even know this.  

Here's how.  I am in LA helping my younger daughter recover from her surgery to remove an Acoustic Neuroma, which is a benign, slow-growing tumor of the hearing and balance nerves, from behind her left ear. It was discovered purely by chance when she had an MRI to make certain that nothing dangerous was causing her migraines. The MRI showed nothing that would cause the migraines, but it did discover the tumor. Even though she had absolutely no symptoms of the neuroma (vertigo, deafness, vision problems), she decided, after meeting with a neurologist, a neurosurgeon and an ENT, to have the tumor taken out before it grew and caused problems.

So on May 12th she had it removed and today, the 15th of May, she has returned home. Pretty damn amazing, I think! For now she needs a walker to move around, just in case she has balance problems, and she is now partially deaf in her left ear. She will have hearing tests next week and they will help to determine if the hearing loss is permanent or if there is a chance full hearing could come back. Her vision problems caused by the surgery are clearing up already and she can now read.  

The surgeons explained to us that the brain has to work hard to establish new connections to make up for any nerves that were damaged or cut during surgery, so she will be tired after reading, talking, or even sitting upright for awhile. It takes energy for the brain to work, the same sort of energy it takes to walk around, run, play games, exercise; I would never have thought of that.

She is very fortunate that she lives near the Keck Medical Center at USC where there are two surgeons, Dr. Rick Friedman and Dr. Steven Giannotta, who specialize in this surgery. One has done about 700 of them; the other has done about 1,000. They worked together on our daughter, and she is doing really well just three days after six hours of surgery. It was BRAIN SURGERY, y'all!!!

Now she is home and doing well, and her tumor, which she had named Ned, is dead and gone.  Whew.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Oh what a tangled web we weave

When first we practice to deceive.  (Sir Walter Scott (Marmion, 1808) 

This is a tangled web, but it's not deception. It's murder.

Murder of those horrible, nasty, HUNGRY moths that ruin knit projects.

The photo is of an unknown number (I don't want to know how many I have knit) of wool, alpaca and silk scarves, wraps and I don't know what-all, sitting in my car, which is sitting in the sun. This is the south. It's hot out, y'all, so this should work, so they say.

They say that if the car temperature reaches 130 degrees for a couple of hours, all of the moths and baby moths and larvae will be DEAD. DEAD. I found a hole of unknown origin in one of my beloved scarves, so this is step one (murder) before step two when I put everything in a space bag for the summer.

Who are they you ask and why do I trust them?  Because they are sources on the interwebs, and so their information must be true. Every one of these items was hand-knit by yours truly, and I would cry and sob if anything happened to them because of those sneaky moths.