Friday, October 2, 2015

Socks and more

While we were in Ireland I wore hand knit socks every day---what a treat. We walked and walked and walked and my Fitbit was very happy with me and smiled every day. Usually it frowns. Judgey Fitbit.

We live in the south, so warm socks aren't much of a necessity most of the year. When I came home from the trip, I finished the Soumak, phew, and because that had taken so l.o.n.g to knit, I have concentrated on quick projects, among them, SOCKS! I am making these from what I believe is called a sock flat, yarn that has been machine knit flat, then hand-painted with dyes, and then stamped with designs. The completed sock is a totally unpredictable pattern of colors. One down, one to go.

I can't find the tag that came with the flat, so if you wanted to knit the same sock, you CAN'T!


My second current project is a pair of Honeycomb Wrist Warmers (fingerless mitts) and I love the Malabrigo Rios yarn I am using. Soft, soft, soft. 

And, at the SAME TIME, I am making the Lost Banner Hat from the Donegal Wool my daughter brought me from her trip to Ireland last year. It had not told me what it wanted to be, but after spending time in Ireland, seeing all of the knitwear people there wear, I realized the yarn was meant to be a hat. A hat it shall be.

And again, at the SAME TIME, I am making the Pure/Aran out of the softest non-cashmere yarn ever, WOOLFOLK FÅR.  

AND, I am making, at the SAME TIME, The Joker and the Thief. How can I keep all of this straight, you might ask. I must be a genius, you say. Why thank you! I must be then!

And since we were talking about socks and walking, and I was, a while ago, here is some walking.

These are the Cliffs of Moher, and they are spectacular. You can walk for miles and miles along them, and the National Trust has put upright slabs of rocks along the path, about ten feet or so from the edge of the cliffs. However, the brave or the crazy, I'm not sure which, choose to walk on a well-worn path on the cliff side of the rocks. It is really windy up there, and I wonder how often someone gets blown over the edge. It must happen, just based on the odds with so many people walking on the wrong side. 

Not MY thumb.  I'm a better photographer than that!

Odd how the publicity for the place doesn't mention the falling off the cliffs death toll. 

There are warning signs, but clearly, people disregard them.

And more walking---this time to get to the Carrick-a-Rede bridge. This is a better photo of it than mine was.

This is just a part of the long walk in to the bridge:

And THIS is the climb down to the bridge. It was scarier to climb this than it was to walk on the bridge itself.

Carrick-a-Rede is at the very northern part of Northern Ireland, and while we were so far north, we went to a couple of towns, including Belfast. Kind of a strange place, Belfast. It's an industrial city with a huge focus on its past, primarily its wars. 

This street is locally known as RPG street because of all of the rocket-propelled-grenades launched at it by the British, during the Troubles. The Troubles come up a lot.

And this photo is of the wall that separates Protestants from Catholics (? not quite sure how this all works out) at night. During the daytime, the gates are open so that people can go to work, school, run errands, and shop, but voters keep choosing to close the gates at night. Just in case???

This is one of two huge structures that were used during the ship-building era in Belfast. They aren't in use now except as a tourist attraction (? not that exciting, Belfast) since ship building has given way to the construction of wind turbines. Belfast is unaccountably proud of the fact that the Titanic was built there. Every tourist shop, every post card display, has souvenirs stating in some form or another:  Belfast --- Home of the Titanic. 

And now, for something completely different, but potentially not more cheerful than wars and deaths from falling off of cliffs, a sign in a tiny cemetery in a tiny town somewhere in The Republic of Ireland, aka (according to me), Southern Ireland.  

I think it's a DIY cemetery! Based on what I saw of Irish tv, the residents are really fond of reality tv.  Maybe this place will get its own show.  
Probably not.
I hope not.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

So Where are the Photos

you ask, the photos from Ireland.

Well, as it turns out, I took over 500 of them, and my husband took about 100. So, OMG! I can't sort through them all and pick a few for the blog. My advice? Go to Ireland. It's gorgeous, we had pretty perfect weather, and the people are really, really nice. As proof, there was Lawrence. Our keys were locked in the trunk of our rental in the parking lot at Carrick-a-Rede, a rope bridge to a former salmon-fishing island in Northern Ireland. I'm not saying who locked the keys in the trunk (but it wasn't yours truly) but there we were, with a rental car that we couldn't get into. 

The bridge is about 100 feet above the open mouth of an ancient volcano. And it is out in the middle of next to nowhere. It took hours to get someone out to unlock the car, and Lawrence, one of the guides for the National Trust, stayed with us until we could leave. The bridge had closed, the tea shop had closed, and we were stuck outside in the cold and wind. We sheltered sort of out of the wind against a wall of the tea shop, and Lawrence, who had moved to Ireland from Transylvania, entertained us with stories from the history of that part of Northern Ireland. He was amazingly well informed, and really, really generous to stay with us. As it started to get dark, the locksmith arrived, opened the car door, and we all left. Phew. Our only other option at that point was to take a rock and break a window.

Here I am walking on the bridge. The winds, I was told by a guide, were blowing at about 35 mph, and we were told to HOLD ON TO BOTH ROPES!!! STOP TRYING TO TAKE PHOTOGRAPHS!

Pffttt.  We took a photo anyway.

I had intended to take this finished wrap? half blanket? (Soumak) with me, but I just couldn't finish it in time. I finished it the other day, and never again will I have to work with page after page of the spreadsheet knitting it required. The spreadsheet was a life-saver and I thank whoever created it, but I won't be needing it again.  

I will never make another one.  It's huge!

I bought this sweater in Kilkenny. It is hand-knit and as I thought about buying it instead of making one myself, I came to the realization that I don't want to make one myself. A genuine hand-knit Aran sweater, not made by me? Perfect. It takes me months and months to make a cabled sweater.  

And in spite of seeing signs for Leprechaun crossings, I never saw a Leprechaun.  

I'm starting to think they might not be real. 

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

I Have Been Vindicated!!!!!

We are back from a wonderful vacation in Ireland, which I will get to once I'm no longer jet-lagged.  Bleah...

However, for the benefit of all those people who struggle to get some exercise by walking/running on a treadmill, I now have proof that it is just and right to hate the *&a(^mp;* things. 

They were invented for punishment, y'all!

Want proof? Here it is:

Kilmainham is Gaelic for Dublin Prison, approximately

This is from the Dublin Prison, a horrid place and it's hard to believe that humans treat each other in such a way as to put others in such a horrid place. But there you are.

The treadmill was used for hard labor aka punishment in prisons. Fortunately the things kept breaking, but of course the powers-that-be came up with replacement punishment.

So, I hate, hate, hate using a treadmill and therefore, I don't; it is punishment disguised as exercise.



This is what written Irish looks like:  

Probably too small to read easily, but in the Republic of Ireland, all of the signs are in Gaelic (Irish) first and English second.  

Translating signs into English is quite often not that helpful. If I can't pronounce the Irish, I probably can't pronounce the English:

Go ahead. You try. And let me know what these words sound like, OK?

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.