Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Ten Stitch Blanket

This is Frankie's pattern, available here. I made this one to be a baby activity, car, or stroller blanket.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Why whining in the internet age is not allowed

My father-in-law spent about 80 percent of his time doing things that take little effort today. Here's an entry from his journal, dated February 27, 1971:

"I wrote Mrs. Sterna a letter last evening and so, since Arlene has to mail her package to her mother, a cotton embroidered dressing gown, because the U.S. has just put an embargo on cotton goods and the stores can't mail them, we went to the post office on Calle Independencia and Belen. The process of mailing the gown, though cumbersome, was not as bad as Spain. We first went to the postal aduana, which is luckily located in the same building as the post office, and there got the package weighed and told, how much postage would be required (weight seven tenths of a kilogram and postage, airmail of 23 pesos, or just under two dollars). We had to go next to the post office to buy the stamps. Then we were sent back to the same man at the aduana again with a small green declaration ship, asking the contents of the package, its weight, and its value. We filled that out, but had, first, to go to a specialist who has glue and sticks the green form on the package since the form has no glue on it. Then to our first man again, who laboriously filled out a form giving both addresses, the nature of the contents their value, etc., and then he gave us a stub. The mind boggles at what one would have to go through in case the package got lost and one tried to trace it or to get a refund for its value."

Monday, November 9, 2015

More bad photos -- the dashboard series

My mom took these, as Dad was always the driver. Mom was legally blind (childhood bout with scarlet fever), but that didn't stop her from doing anything, including taking photos of a clean dashboard, the second one to show off the compass that Dad always had mounted so he wouldn't get lost.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

The Family Photo Legacy

My 90+ father recently joined the assisted living crowd. We are cleaning out his old place, and I've been tasked with sorting through his snapshot collection.

Innocently clothed in drugstore processor envelopes are images of holidays, vacations, weddings, reunions, new babies, funerals, and my mother's apparent favorites: Dimly lit church basement dinners depicting unknown seniors as they tuck into meatballs and jello.

Nowadays we delete bad photos from digital cameras and smartphones soon after they are taken. Back in the day you paid for processing (and my dad always took the discount double print deal), and depression mentality meant that every picture was precious and saved.

Overexposed? You can still see Aunt Louella's body shape.

Heads cut off? You can identify Uncle Joe by his shoes.

Out of focus? It's impressionist art.

Clearly, my parents never met a photo they didn't like.

Anyone up for a "mass quantities of bad photos" challenge? I'm so there.

See the examples (of some of the better photos, I might add) below. Was the pic of the beautiful red brick on the side of the store ruined when those people ran in and lined up? Can you find the bull in the shadow at this bullfight?

Friday, October 30, 2015

Tiger Mother circa 1970

Warning: Sad story. This is an entry my husband just showed me from his father's journal. In 1970 my father-in-law was stationed in San Jose, Costa Rica. His wife, Arlene, was teaching senior high school English classes at an American school that served ex pats' kids, diplomat families, etc.

10/27/70 – Arlene calls the wife of the Chinese Ambassador to tell her that their children have to turn in some homework. She expresses surprise and said the children studied at home a great deal. 30 minutes later she grabs a gun from a guard and kills herself.

I can't find a reference to this online.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Family Research Reveals

The following letter is addressed to William Murray, from E. Gordon Bill, Dartmouth College, November 26, 1929:

My dear Bill:

You can imagine my extraordinary personal pleasure in informing you that Donald has just been reported as showing "outstanding promise" in no less than four out of five freshman freshman courses: Chemistry 1, Latin 7, Evolution and French 11.

There was only one other member of the freshman class with such a brilliant mid-semester report and we can all look ahead with confidence to Donald's future. He has got brains and industry, neither of which is much good without the other.

Sincerely yours,

E. Gordon Bill

Donald Murray is the subject of Soft Snap, available on Amazon.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Baseball and Knitting

I'm looking for small 9-inning projects to take along when we go to the St. Paul Saints games.

This season I've made about twenty of these dishcloths.

Last night I took a bag of beads and crochet hook to make necklaces for the kids sitting around us. Here's a pic of the girl in front of me playing with her necklace. Her mother chose the beads and preloaded them onto the yarn. You can make a necklace in less than one inning, so I made several.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Walker's Wall

More ideas, this one from Scott Walker, on creating a USA gated community.

I live in Minnesota. I didn't think we had a Canadian invasion problem until we went fishing this morning. I nearly flipped the boat when I discovered that husband had brought these Canadians on board. Twelve of them! What was he thinking?

Oh, and I added a picture of my favorite fishing wall, since we are talking about walls.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Arthur Murray Featured in Documentary

Murray's testimony on Greek deportations in Black Sea: A Naval Officer's Near East Experience is included in this documentary, starting at the 3:15 mark. He is also featured on the Greek Genocide website.

I published my grandfather-in-law's letters in 2012. Interest in his story continues to grow. Read more.

Remember when . . .

we thought it was cool to dial a number to get the time and temperature, when the neighbor wasn't using the party line?

Husband wears an Apple Watch. Time, temp, health status, calendar appointments are all visible when he turns his wrist. We were recently separated at a baseball game (St. Paul Saints), and it was too loud to use a phone. I texted him, his wrist buzzed (he wouldn't have heard his phone ring), and he saw my message on his watch. He tapped "OK" and we found each other.

Pretty darn cool.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Knitting is in my DNA

I made this DNA cap and reading mitts for a friend who is heading off to graduate school.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

A Real Life Takedown?

Reality imitates fiction? Yesterday's action might turn out to be chillingly close to the scenario portrayed in my novel, TAKEDOWN.

A post from KYLOBBIST at Investor Village:

"All the afternoon, everyone was having hard time following the party line on the NYSE breakdown. CNBC was reporting that NYSE did a software update, which caused the glitch.

I find it unlikely the NYSE, with top of the line IT folks, would schedule a software upgrade for the middle of the trading day.

So conversation turned to the Norse Attack Map. It tracks cyber assaults from other countries. This shows a coordinated attack to a data center in St. Louis owned by the NYSE.

Anyhoo, theorists claiming US officials and NYSE officials did not want to admit this on a day like today with the markets already tanking hard, and admit the attack was from China. I love the intrigue of it all."

FWIW you can see it here.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Will This Car Last another 85 Years?

We spied this electric car at a public charging station in Florence, Italy. Check out the registration on the window -- valid until 2100.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

For Readers Under Age 40

These are phone booths. In Venice.

The Astroturfing of Venice

So, we just finished a three week trip to Italy. That's what you do when you retire. You travel to places you've dreamed about, only to find out the gondola ride is vaguely reminiscent of the "Pirates of the Caribbean" ride you took at Disney World.

Then there are the true mysteries of life in an exotic culture. We were staying in an airbnb flat just a couple blocks from the Grand Canal. Very nice, great location, but there was a lot of construction going on in the area. One day we woke up to find workers nailing astroturf to the side of a building (see photo below). This led to endless speculation about why . . . my best theory was lack of dog parks and creation of a "doggy defecation" station at the corner where two lanes intersect.

Can anyone tell me why, oh why, would anyone put astroturf on the side of a building this way?

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Husband Retired

Now he finally has time to clean and reorganize. He hates to lose stuff. The hall closet has taken on a new look.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Double Helix Shell

I finished knitting this recently for my favourite down-under scientist. I used this shell pattern and added the double helix cable.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Breaking News: The Search for the Truth is Overrated

. . . and should be eliminated.

A governor who never got a college degree feels qualified to unilaterally change the mission of the state university system. Not kidding. You can't make this stuff up. Even fiction writers have limits to their imaginations.

Read all about it.

Oh, now he says the language change was a drafting error. Methinks Mr. Walker upset half his constituency with his first move, and then the other half when he retracted it.

Lesson for Mr. Walker: Don't mess with Bucky Badger. Ever.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Easy Neck Warmer

I made this to match the evening mitts. You can wear it as neckwarmer, or double it lengthwise to wear as a head band.

Easy Neck Warmer

Worsted weight yarn
Size 5 needles -- straight or circular
Worked Flat

Provisional CO 32 stitches. Knit every row until you have 14 inches of knitting. Remove provisional stitches onto another needle, and work a 3 needle bind off to finish. Weave in yarn ends. This is a quick project!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Evening Mitts

Carlotta pulls a stunning pair of fingerless mitts up her bare arms as we head out for a sunset hike along the windswept shore. Her skin glows in the organic orange light; I lace my fingers into hers, and I feel the soft wool stitches warming my palm, the heat racing up my arm and lighting a fire in parts that have long ago settled into a resigned state of hibernation. I shiver.

"You're cold," she says. Her shy voice offers a promise.

I smile. "Right. My father's old beach house is just ahead. We'll find shelter there."

Evening Mitts

Worsted Weight, 150 yards for woman's average size
I used Classy Dream, Sundown Orchid
Size 5-8 circular or straight needles
This is knit flat, and very quick -- knit it in a day.

Provisional CO 55 stitches (or less for a shorter mitt) using waste yarn. Click to see a good video on how to do a provisional cast on.

Measure width of hand across knuckles, multiply by 2 and then subtract 1/2 inch. Add desired yarn and knit every row until you have achieved desired width (wrap around hand as you go to check width -- if you like them snug then you simply knit fewer rows).

Last row: Knit 2 inches and then BO (bind off) 5 stitches for thumb. Knit to the end.

Remove provisional cast on, and slide the revealed stitches onto a straight needle. Using 3 needle bind off, bind off all stitches until you reach the thumb gap, and then bind off 5 stitches on the single needle to complete other side of thumb. Continue to bind off remaining stitches using 3 needle bind off.

To finish, weave in ends.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Collateral Damage

The St. Paul Diocese of the Catholic Church recently filed for bankruptcy in the midst of sexual abuse lawsuits. This has been all over the news -- front page for several days.

Anyway, I hadn't thought much about it until I ran into a friend today, and she disclosed that she had been sexually abused by a relative, over many years, as a child. Then she said, "I am Catholic, but now I can't go to church. I am so angry and sick about the abuse, and I can't look at the newspapers without reliving all the nightmares I thought I'd put behind me."

Needless to say, she says she's now in therapy again, after many years of being "ok".

I suspect there are many members of the church who have experienced the trauma of sexual abuse. Do they feel violated and betrayed again, like this friend? How will the church heal these people?

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy New Year and My Life Path

Authentic living, for me, has always meant that one thing leads to another, in an unpredictable way.

The latest example of this is my uke playing. In my travels earlier last year I noticed that people play the ukelele in Australia. A lot. I've never played a stringed instrument, but my usual attitude of "what the heck" prevailed. I learned that a decent uke can be purchased for around $50-$100, so I bought one up at a little mom and pop music shop south of Brisbane. When I showed it to my daughter, who lives there, she picked it up and was quickly strumming, so I left the instrument with her, came back home, and bought an identical model.

A few hours -- and many youtube instructional videos -- later I had mastered "I've Been Working on the Railroad". Then I found out about a jamming group that meets at a local public library, and showed up to learn more. They've tolerated me pretty well.

One thing leads to another. A couple weeks ago I upgraded to a Les Paul uke that has a pickup installed, so now I can amp it. Last night our library jamming group played at a local establishment. We aren't half bad . . . .