Wednesday, February 26, 2014

A dream

I had a dream last night where I got a new apartment. Nice place, lots of glass - windows and doors. It was on the ground floor in a city, near a place with a lot of pedestrian traffic, like on a town square. In my dream I went to sleep, and when I woke up (can't remember if I was woken up or if I got up on my own), I started checking the numerous doors.

I went around looking at each one and was astounded to find each of them ajar. The doors had been open while I slept. I assumed I had left them open, as opposed to them being opened by someone.

My thought was something like, "Huh. I feel vulnerable". And yet, I remember realizing in the dream that I was OK. All this time, there were people passing by, and I don't think anyone came in, I don't remember talking to anyone, but I was OK. Vulnerable, a little open, yet safe. Yes, I think the house is me...

Wednesday, February 12, 2014


Here are my thoughts on the weird icicles that formed on the south side of my house. We've had a good bit of snow and it had been cold, so there was plenty of snow on the roof ready to melt. It had warmed up the day before for the first time in a while, and was above freezing when this happened. The weird icicles formed near, but not exactly across from, the window. There are both normal and angled icicles.

I think that the straight ones formed normally, when the temperatures were warming up. I think the angled ones also formed normally, but the radiant heat from the house pushed the dripping water/forming icicle away from the house as it formed. It wasn't particularly windy, so I think it's a heat thing, not a wind thing.

In other news, I've grown weary of Valentine's Day things, right on schedule. I dislike being reminded that I'm. still. alone. Even though things are going just fine right now. I feel inadequate in that regard, courtesy of the media. Thanks for nothing.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

What's going on here?

I took this picture on Saturday, at about 10:30 in the morning. This side of my house faces south, and the temperature was around freezing and getting a little warmer. You can see two kinds of icicles, the regular straight up-and-down kind, and also some that jut out from center. 

Any idea what's going on? I have a couple of ideas, but thought this was an interesting thing to share.

Friday, February 7, 2014

The one thing

We used to have a TV, a 18" thick picture-tube-analog behemoth that I picked up at a garage sale for $10. It was used mostly to watch videos from the library, and I am fortunate that there is a TV antenna in the attic that I hooked up to the TV to get local channels.

Back in 2009 (I think) the signal for broadcast TV became digital, and to continue to use my TV, I'd have to get a converter box. I guess I didn't want one badly enough to get the box, and the TV went downstairs and was never hooked up again.

We certainly don't lack for media opportunities here. I subscribe to Netflix, our laptops have CD players for movies, and Mr W watches lots of stuff on YouTube.

However, there is one time, every once in a while, when I really want a TV.

For the last three Olympics, I have yearned to be able to watch events, but not in the advertising-riddled way one can do it online. So I had planned to finally get a converter box, haul the big ol' TV up from the basement, and get it connected to the antenna, which connects via a coaxial cable that is in my living room.

The converter boxes are about $50 (do you see the rationalization and where this is going?). If I had a new TV, then I wouldn't need the converter and it could be hooked up directly to the antenna and I could watch the Olympics. I've been intimidated at the level of technical expertise required to make a new TV receive a cable signal and the other inputs, and sound, blah blah blah, but if I could just plug in the TV, and plug in the antenna and it worked, that would be good, right?

I think so. I went to Target and got a 32" TV for $199. It's like a big computer monitor, and weighs about 10-15 lbs. We can plug Mr W's PC into it (so they say) and stream Netflix or play games on it. I have to see if I can do the same with my Mac. After the Olympics, I'll need to see about threading the antenna cable through the floor so the TV can go down the basement.

It's out of the box and on my floor, I'll get it hooked up when I get home from work tonight. Fingers crossed I catch the opening ceremony!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Sweater progress

I have to say I am really happy with my Leaflet sweater so far. Very happy with the thick yarn (Cascade Pastaza) making progress easy to see. I've saved a lot of sweater patterns to Ravelry, and I like the look of a sweater made from DK yarn, but I need more in the way of instant gratification.

This pattern is really well written. I like the process of knitting this sweater. With the lace panel down the back, every row has something going on. In the beginning, increases are happening to make the sleeves, as well as doing the pattern on both the right and wrong side. It's a pattern that needs the knitter to pay attention, but I like that aspect of it. Doing stockinette stitch on and on feels really tedious, and with this pattern, I feel like every row has something a little different.

Yes, I have to knit with a piece of paper handy, and at the moment am doing sets of 6 rows in pattern with a decrease row. I don't mind ticking off each row as I go. I'm on my third ball of yarn, and I've got at least nine balls, maybe 10, so I think I'll be able to make this long sleeved. It's going to be very warm, but has been nice to work on during these last couple of days when we've had a cold snap. I think I'll be able to finish the body this weekend.

In other news, today is Mr W's birthday. He turns 13, and we'll have his party on Saturday. He invited a small number of kids to go play laser tag, and it looks like we'll have about half a dozen boys attend. He's getting a Kindle Fire from his dad and I. One more device, but I'm hoping he'll actually use it for reading as well as games. We'll see. My kid - the teenager.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Simple kindness

So much of the time in my day to day activities, I put my head down and do the work. Or put my head down and go to the next thing. Yesterday I was making my way to spin class and was entering the building at the same time as another person.

She picked up her pace just a little, got the door, looked me in the eye and smiled. It made me realize I don't look people in the eye enough. I probably get the door for plenty of people, but the eye contact thing must sort of intimidate me.

That sort of action has ripple effects, to be sure. I felt like someone had just done something nice for me and I wanted to pass that on. There's a saying out there that I will not get right but goes something like, we can be judged by the way we treat people who can do nothing for us.

I'm going to make an effort to practice (and it IS practice) doing the door-eye contact-smile thing.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Kid bedroom redo

My dear little boy turns into a teenager next week. Whoa. I know people say this all the time, but how the heck did that happen? I can remember thinking shortly after my divorce that having to be the only parent to him during the times I had him was going to be so very hard. Now we've done it this way for twice as long as he was in a two parent home, and I think things are going pretty well.

When I moved into this little house in a great location, it was listed as a two bedroom house, but the second "bedroom" was the old back porch, which had been added at some point after the house was built. I had someone come in, bump out the back porch area by a few feet and made that area into a conforming bedroom.

It has served Mr W well. He spends most of this time in the living room anyway, since that's where his computer is. But he's been wanting to change things around in his room, so I've taken to Pinterest to look for ideas. His room is very small - 7.5' by about 10', which means we can fit a bed along the short side, but not much else. The ceiling is kind of low as well.

This is what he's got now (please excuse the mess):

He's got a loft bed with space for a chair underneath that he rarely uses. To my left out of the frame is a book case.

While looking at Pinterest, I came across this really neat design, with a bed on a simple low frame with wheels. The bed slides under a platform when not in use, and there's desk space on top. How clever is that? I've looked around, and it seems this is a custom thing. I can buy the frame with the wheels, but am having trouble finding a twin bed sized platform that we could make into that desk space.

But while I'm looking, I come across the website for the company that I bought his loft bed from in the first place. They have this:

This looks kind of like what we have now. This looks like kind of what we have now, with the legs cut shorter. Hey! 

So my clever idea now is to repurpose his existing bed so we can put a desk on top of it. Cut some length off the bottom of the legs, take the ladder off, make it longer by replacing the 2 x 6's with longer ones so the bed slides underneath, and put another full piece of plywood on the top to support a chair and desk. I can probably take the existing railings off and replace them with something a little more open like is shown in the top picture. It's all narrow enough that we'll have to put the desk area at either the head or the foot of the bed, as opposed to along the length of it, but that's totally doable, too. Maybe I'll even paint it...

If this works, it will be much cheaper than having to get new stuff. I wasn't looking forward to having to find a new home for his old bed anyway.

Friday, January 31, 2014

2 hour delay

We received about 6" of snow last night, so there is a two hour delay for the schools this morning. I am relieved, because it's really hard to shovel out and get the kid where he needs to be by 7:30. This way
I get to make a blog post, do a bit of knitting, and will still have enough time to shovel.

It's funny, the school district is of course on Facebook, and under the announcement that there is a delay instead of a full closure, there are comments like, "Really?? Have you looked outside?" and the classic, "You guys are idiots. If you think two hours are enough to clear the roads, you are totally oblivious..." blah blah blah. Safety! Think of the children! We do usually have nice weather here, but it IS Colorado, and the climate means that we occasionally get large dumps of snow.

I need to get a second snow shovel because Mr W is finally a reliable second shoveler. His quality standards are not quite up to mine yet, but he's trainable. I'll have him clean off the car first and then help shovel out the entrance to the alley. I park my car behind my house, and I have to enter the alley to get to the driveway. The alley always gets "plowed in" when the snow plows go by, so I need to shovel it out as well.

But I'll get a bit of time to work on my Leaflet, and I snapped the picture above this morning to show my progress. All hail the thick yarn!! I'm hoping the yarn store is open today because I'll need to purchase a longer circular needle. I had a 24" on hand, but need a 32". The fuzzy Pastaza yarn I have doesn't have super stitch definition, but it was in my stash (and thus free) and I like working with it so far.

My work life is about to change a bit. We're getting a foreign student in the lab to do her Master's project and I'll be in charge of her. This was more or less foisted upon me and I'm going to turn lemons to lemonade. Not that I have anything against having some help but I've set up my work at work to be a solo venture. I've been thinking about what we can have her do, and I talked with my boss yesterday about it and I think we can come up with the stand-alone project she needs that is related to the stuff I'm doing, but my stuff doesn't depend on her outcomes.

Since she's from outside the US, the security stuff is extensive and she'll need to be escorted around the building for the first month or so that she's here. My boss offered to do some of the escorting, but her cube will be near mine, so it will fall to me to do most of it. It'll all work out, but I'm uncertain of the details. She's here for a year.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

This one

One goofy thing about getting your hands on a knitting pattern you see on Ravely is that sometimes the pattern is only available as part of a book. I wish pattern makers made all their individual patterns available for purchase, well, individually, but that doesn't always happen. 

Such was the case with the pullover sweater I mentioned in my last post. I would have paid $6-7 for the pattern, but couldn't, so I've ordered the book it's in though interlibrary loan. I just can't see myself paying $25 for a book of patterns when I only want the one. Meanwhile, I wanted to start SOMETHING. 

Enter Leaflet, above. I was looking for something I could knit with aran or bulky weight yarn, and saw this. The pattern is available through Knitty, whose patterns are free (yea!). Knowing I wanted this, I went around to my LYS (local yarn store) and strangely enough they were really sparse in their offerings of yarn in this weight. I love alpaca because it's so soft, but can't spend $250 on yarn for a sweater. I was ready to spend something, though, and was disappointed I didn't find anything. 

I had purchased some Pastaza (made by Cascade, and which has been discontinued) and it was in my stash, so I'm using that. This is the colorway, a yellowy green. I'm pretty sure I have enough to make elbow-length if not long sleeves, and am planning to do that.

It's springy and fresh and if I don't like the color when it's done, I'll dye the finished garment. Some people find it scratchy, but so far it's really fuzzy, but not scratchy as I work with it. 

I'm excited to be knitting again. There was some time when it just didn't appeal to me, and now I think about it when I'm at work. Funny. It's too dark to take a decent picture of it, but I'm about 5" in on the yoke of the sweater. I do like to work with bulky yarn. Love the look of sweaters done in DK weight, but I don't have the patience for it. 

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Things to do, places to go

I seem to oscillate between letting inertia keep me home in the evenings and having things to do. Sometimes just staying in is enough, maybe even preferred, but I do notice that I get a little squirrelly (is my term for it) if I'm alone too much. I work alone for a good part of the day, so unlike people who have to constantly deal with co-workers, my work time is usually a solo thing unless I go out and talk to people (which I actually should do more. See above about inertia...).

Anyway, there is a program at our science museum that I'm attending, and I'm looking forward to that. It's funny, I fully intend to become a member but for two small things. First, they don't have a way to do it through their website (they are kind of a new/young organization), so you have to print out a form to fill out and mail it in with a check (maybe credit card info). Second, and this is such a nit-picky thing that I'd like to believe it's only the first thing that has kept me thus far from joining: they don't have memberships for a parent and a kid. There's individual, there's family, there's grandparent, but unlike the science museum in Denver, nothing for an individual plus one. Small things, really. I'm making a note to myself to print the form today and bring it and a check with me tonight.

I'm hoping to get together Friday with a friend who I don't socialize with enough. Hopefully that will happen. Then Saturday I've been invited to my banjo instructor's place for some picking and socializing. This means a lot to me because I have not been playing, and stopped my lessons back in September. I just picked up my banjo again last week after a couple of months, and was relieved to see I haven't lost everything (except my calluses, but they'll reform). I still want to get to a point where I can hold my own while playing with a group, even if I don't know the song. I need to get comfortable playing (finding the chords!) in A and D tunings. But I digress. I'm grateful that my instructor thought of me to invite me and I'm looking forward to seeing those folks again.

In other news, I'm getting close to starting a sweater. It's called Derry Raglan (that's the Ravelry link). It's knit with aran weight, and is easy and fast and has a little bling down the sleeves. I waver on the yarn, though. I'm always looking for that sweet spot in yarn, where it's good stuff - not scratchy, not droopy, won't pill right after I get finished - but doesn't cost me $150 to get enough for a sweater. Good yarn is not cheap. I think you kind of get what you pay for.