The Cast of Characters

I am the only human that lives in my house, but there are a few furry creatures running around.  I share a home with a cranky, middle-aged guinea pig called Sir Peanut Butter Fluffy Butt (he wasn’t cooperating for photos today) and two cats, Severus and Lucius. All three keep me on my toes.

PB is the elder statesman of the bunch at 3 years old, and has hit the stage where he is happy with his food, and his own space.  PB never has been the most social creature, he doesn’t mind being handled but tires of it pretty quickly, and when an attempt was made to get him a friend it didn’t go well.  PB is the poster child for cranky introverts.  We socialize a bit every day when I fill his feeders and water bottle.  To some extent, I feel like a failure with him when I see other guinea pigs interacting with their humans, but also realize that PB’s personality dictates his level of comfort with interaction too.  As long as he seems content, I’m content.

Then there are the much more interactive creatures in the house…

Severus and Lucius, AKA Sev and Lu, AKA Mini Panther and Little Lion…

Severus walked into the door a little over two and a half years ago.  He literally walked into the house like he owned it.  I had just came home from a work trip, and met this little 6-7 week old kitten hanging out on my porch.  The neighborhood is full of quasi-feral cats, so he was born of that stock.  He mewed at me a few times, and I thought I would bring him out some water because it was a hot day and this little black kitten looked a little uncomfortable.  As I opened the door and was dragging in some luggage a shadow walked right past me.  I got everything inside and this kitten sat in the middle of the living room.  He got a bowl of water and a bit of sandwich meat out of the fridge and I tried to put him back outside.  I shut the door and he started screaming.  Opened the door; he stops and looks at me.  Shut the door; the screaming began again.  Open the door; he stops screaming and makes this cute little mew.  Okay fine.  Open the door some more, he walked right back in, went to the center of the living room and sat down.

I thought I would be able to find him a home, the no-kill shelters were full, the rescues were full, no friends were interested.  It was the peak of kitten season.  I asked friends online to name him and Severus was the clear winner.  He went from pauper to prince in one day.  Sev is now a large cat with a laid back personality.  He’s sociable with most visitors, except children, he will hide from the little humans.  He spends most of the day watching birds at the window.

Then there is the new kid, whom came home as a bit of a surprise after a trip to see family at Thanksgiving this past fall.  My family has an avocado grove and coffee farm in southern California, with a few cats wandering around.  These cats are loved but spend most of their time outdoors to help keep the smaller critters down around the farm.  They have shelter and are loved but life on the farm means there is a job to do.   The female cats are allowed to have a litter and then are spayed.  Sadly, this is done to help ensure there are cats on the farm, there are several predators that will hunt the cats that aren’t wise enough to stay hidden, and the family has figured out lighter colored cats stand out too much and are found homes off of the farm as quickly as possible.  They try to reduce the number of cats snatched by predators.  On my visit, there was a sand colored tabby kitten.

He was offered to me.  I was reluctant at first not knowing how Sev would react.  Then my uncle kept referencing how the little guy would probably be picked off once he began exploring the spaces away from the house.  Crap.  Crap.  Crap.  The family paid his travel fee to fly home with me.   With his light hair and then green eyes (they’ve since turned amber) I kept with the Harry Potter/Slytherin Theme and named him Lucius.

Sev was annoyed for a whole day but then took to his younger brother and began grooming and curling up with him when they slept.  They play together constantly.  Lu has been growing quickly and I would call him aggressively cuddly.  He really likes to be as close as possible to Sev or me, well really anything breathing that walks in the door.  I’ve never heard a cat purr so loudly, when that engine starts it can be heard across the room.

Lu has given me a few scares though.  He hadn’t been vaccinated yet before he came homeimg_0544 with me, surprisingly the airline said it was fine to travel without the shots  because of his age. He was just old enough to fly but too young for a rabies vaccine, and they weren’t concerned with the others.   Getting his vaccines was on the schedule to be done about a week after he arrived in Georgia, but he had other plans.  Lu has had a viral sinus issue since he’s been here.  Thankfully Sev never caught it, or his own vaccinations protected him.  Poor Lu was so congested he had periods where it was hard for him to breathe.  After months of treatment and veterinary care he’s finally clearing it.   Thankfully, the family has paid his vet bills as they have hit, I don’t know what I would have done without their help.  No one planned on something like this hitting so hard and so quickly.  He’s still a bit stuffy in the mornings now and then but it’s gotten so much better.  Lu never seemed to realize he has been ill though, he’s played and ran like nothing has been wrong the whole time, even on his most congested days.

Lu has what I hope will be his last follow-up appointment later on this morning.  Because of his illness he still hasn’t been vaccinated or neutered.  Which makes me more nervous by the day.  Could he be exposed to something else?  And with a young male, unaltered cat, I fear the scent marking could begin anytime.  So I’m really, really, hoping for him to be cleared for shots today and get him scheduled for surgery very soon.

So that’s the cast of characters that may be referenced now and then here.  Cross your fingers for me that Lu is deemed healthy enough to take the next steps in being a happy, healthy, house cat.  At least he won’t ever be owl food.

Update: Lucius was deemed healthy enough to vaccinate and has his surgery scheduled for the first week of March. 

 

Are You Knitworthy?

I had to come up for a bit of air in the middle of a knitting marathon.

I have two projects that I need to have completed, blocked, and packaged for gifts before the 20th.  They aren’t simple projects either!

I’m working on the Knitangle Shawl  and need to start a Nine Dwindling Cables Hat.  Both will be given to work acquaintances as gifts at a conference.  The shawl is going to a woman leaving her current, very secure job, to begin her own business.  It’s a good luck gift.  The hat, it going to the wife of an acquaintance that is having brain surgery shortly before the conference.

I’ve given away more of my knit projects over the years than I have kept.  I find more joy in the act of knitting than the finished project in most cases, and in the case of these two gifts, knowing the backgrounds of the recipents, they would apreciate hand-made items.

The longer I knit, the more I realize that there are some folks that just aren’t knitworthy.  For anyone uninitiated, knitting a project can take a good amount of time, and good yarns aren’t cheap.  It’s not unusual to drop $40-70 into a shawl.  $20-35 into a hat.  Sweaters?  If you receive a hand knitted sweater from anyone you wear that thing no matter what it looks like, that knitter not only sunk tons of personal time into making it but easily sunk $100-200 if not more into the yarn.  But once again, it’s the process of making the item most of the time, cost becomes a factor when I’m not certain how the recipient feels about my handiwork.

I don’t mean to come across as snobbish with gift giving but nothing drives me nuttier than making a gift for someone and then finding out that the gift sits unused in a drawer somewhere because the recipient doesn’t want the item to get damaged or begin to look worn.  My own mother has been removed from the knitworthy list.  I even knitted very pink gifts (I LOATHE PINK) for her, she wont use them.

So, what do you folks think?  Who’s on your knitworthy list?  What will get someone removed from it?

Time to get back to work.  If I’m sitting I’m knitting until this projects are done.

WIPed: Norah’s Vintage Afghan

Has anyone noticed, I’m not a single project type of woman yet?  This one is a bit of a beast, consisting of 20 different cabled squares, and it will take a while to complete.  It’s not on a list to rush and finish,  because it holds a special place in time.

My younger brother passed in November of 2014 not long before his 30th birthday.  It was sudden, and traumatic for the family.  After receiving the worst phone call in my life at 5:15 am the morning he died, I packed up and drove the six hours home to be with my family.  The bulk of the funeral arrangements fell into my lap with the assistance of a good friend that worked in the funeral industry, we managed to get everything put together, hitting several road blocks from the funeral director in my hometown.  To put it bluntly this funeral director took the hit to his pocket book personally, since I was advised by my friend in the industry on how to make the funeral affordable for the family, and decided to take his frustrations out first on my mother, and then on me after he was told to never speak to my mother again.  I wasn’t allowed to grieve with my family that week at home, I felt the need to be the strong one, the protector, and if need be the warrior to keep as much off my parents as I could.  There was no restful sleep, little food, and a great deal of coffee keeping me going.

After a week, I told my family it was time to go back home, so I could have my own space to grieve.  Not  only was I mourning the death of a brother, I was also remembering my grandmother’s struggling last breaths just two months before. 

After making it home, I left the house to pick up a few items to get through the week, and in the hour I was gone, my neighbor put a bag full of yarn, on my door with a note saying, “you’ll know what to do with this.”  I broke down when I walked into the door, the exhaustion, the trauma, the grief, hit like a tidal wave.  My neighbor was right, she knew I needed to make something.

I tried a few different patterns, tried to create a few of my own, nothing seemed right.  I put the yarn aside, and would look at it now and then.  I wasn’t really dealing with loosing my brother, it was easier to pick back into day-to-day life and not process it.

Late this past summer, the kind neighbor passed due to several complications associated with lupus.  Another death, not as painful as loosing a brother and grandmother, bit painful none the less.  She was an amazing woman. This fall the bag of yarn came out of the stash box again, and a new pattern hunt began, and then I saw Norah’s Vintage Afghan, and it seemed to fit.  The pattern sat on my desk for a full two weeks before I knitted the first square.  Thoughts of the people I’ve lost in my life kept coming to mind.  I began to start dealing with the losses while working those needles.

The second square has been started, but this project can only be worked on a bit of a time.  Once again, memories came to mind, and there are times it hurts, and times it makes me smile.  So a bit at a time, a bit at a time, a bit at a time, and one day it’ll be finished.

Pattern:

Norah’s Vintage Afghan by Berroco.

Yarn:

Lion Brand Heartland
Since acrylics don’t block well I found gauge and then went up two needle sizes.  There is more than enough of this yarn to accommodate the increase in size, and the knit piece that’s completed is laying fairly flat.  There will be a little hot steam blocking at the end to flatten out any rolled spots but there is little anticipation of a problem.

Cast on Date: 

October 2016

Projected Completion Date:

A honest, who knows?

 

I Am Not My Digital Life

I’ve had a rough week.  There were a few moments last night where I began working on a scorched earth blog post about just how crappy it was,  but after a glass of wine the delete draft button was hit.  Yes, it really has been one of those weeks,  work issues, tech issues, those kind of things, and honestly I was a bit fed up by the time I was able to sit down and begin kicking over to weekend mode.

After beginning to catch up on a backlog of podcasts this morning I’m glad I hit that delete button.

TED Radio Hour has been a staple on the podcast list for quite a while, and their recent podcasts, Screen Time Part 1 and Part 2, should be on the mandatory listening list for all of us that participate in social networking.  Both go into detail about how screen time and social networking have forever changed how we interact with others around us.  For me it was a stark reminder that I have been a little dependent on my “digital life”, for social interaction.   That’s an odd thing to say from someone who recently began a public blog.

Several weeks ago, I logged out of several social networking sites indefinitely, and after what felt like withdrawal for a few days, I’m finally comfortable with that decision.  There have been a few studies, specifically related to Facebook, about how active use can negatively impact mood.  For me,  shortly before the Presidential Inauguration, I hit the peak of digital misery.  My personal political views are irrelevant,  it had nothing to do with who was being inaugurated but everything to do with the constant stream of negativity that was filling the news feed about the inauguration.

I’m all for free discussion of beliefs and ideals, as long as it can be done civilly.  Too many politically themed posts became ugly personal attacks in the comments section, and after seeing several close friends ripped apart for articulately and thoughtfully expressing their views and feelings, I began fighting the urge to step in and defend those being attacked despite their expression of views that may not have aligned with my own.  I decided to step away.  Nothing I could say would have changed the mind of anyone who immediately chose to go the route of insulting personal attacks, but I would have ended up emotionally invested.  I then noticed a trend that the posts of friends and family became more negative in general, it seemed nothing good was happening to anyone.  Were they feeling the pull towards darkness from their own feeds?

I don’t want my digital persona to give people the impression that my actual persona is negative and argumentative individual because I took the bait to comment on another’s post, or through a knee jerk reaction typed something onto a screen I would have taken more time to respond to in person.  I have my moments, we all do, but overall I’m pretty positive (at least I think so) and easy to get along with.  Ignoring the temptation to write a scorched earth, negative post could have planted those seeds of negativity here, and I don’t want that.  I promised myself that if I was going to take the time to write a blog again, it would not degrade to day-to-day diary style posts about the little things, good or bad.  I have an actual, honest to God, paper journal for that.  This is a space largely for my passions, and occasionally for moments like this post where I feel the need to express thoughts and feelings.

After opting out of some toxic networking, it feels like I’ve gotten part of my life back, after realizing how much time was being sucked into looking into a screen looking for the approval or sympathy of my peers on the whatever little bit of info I threw out there.  I also didn’t realize how much anxiety some social media platforms had created by waiting on responses from others, especially on posts/comments that could potentially cause debate.  I’m almost embarrassed that I have looked for the approval of others through social networking, but let’s be honest, seeking approval is human nature.  How many of the people on these sites actually know me though?  It’s a small percentage.  Even the people who knew me as a child, or teenager that I’ve reconnected with over the years probably know little about the events or interactions with others in my “real life”  that have formed me into the person I am now.  To some extent, we’re still strangers, despite actually knowing each other at a point in time.  With a simple click you add this person back into your digital life, but does anyone really take the time to catch up?  Or do we just stalk their past posts a bit, and just assume we know what’s up?  I think too many of us get caught up on what we thought of these people when we interacted with them in the past and let them have far too much power and influence in our lives now just because we have given them the option to comment on a dinky post.  We also let true strangers that we may have friended out of a common interest  or  shared friend have too much influence.  Why was I giving up emotional real estate to people I barely know? I think I’ve become conditioned through years of social media use to sell that real estate to strangers.

The podcasts I referenced earlier brought up a disturbing point, well at least for me anyway, about what happens to the thousands of bits of data we put out there when we die.  I don’t want to be remembered through silly memes, soap box stands, and two sentence glimpses into life.  Our digital lives are not true examples of ourselves, and the idea posed in the 2nd part of the Screen Time series that it may be possible in the future to build robots with the personalities of the deceased by analyzing  their social media presence is horrifying.  There’s a wake up call.   Let me make it clear now, that my digital life is NEVER to be turned into a robot for anyone, period, end of conversation.  Grieve over me the old-fashioned way, with a night of booze and story telling.

At the end of all my rambling, I’m pretty happy with where I am right now, in both lives, digital and actual.  I have a presence through this blog, which through format alone allows for constructed thoughts, instead of vague snapshots.  Am I looking for approval from my peers here?  Meh, maybe a bit, once again, human nature; but is blogging driven towards that goal?  Not really.  I mean, I would like it if people took the time to read what I write, but it isn’t the end of the world if no one interacted.  In all honesty, with the way WordPress is structured a lot of unsolicited negativity can be deleted and ignored before it even hits public viewing space. In real life, yeah, it was a shitty week. Everyone has those.  I’ll reboot a bit, and face the next week on Monday.

Until then, I’m going to go make another pot of coffee and pull out the knitting needles and make the best of the weekend.

WIPed: THE Star Wars Scarf

Don’t judge.  This Work in Progress has been on the needles for well over a year.  After making a Game of Thrones themed scarf for a friend, I swore off double knitting and then I saw this pattern.  Hook, line, sinker, pull me into the boat, there was no avoiding it.

Pattern:

Stars Wars Double Knit Scarf by notanicedragon – and it’s FREE!  If the designer ever stumbles across this post…Thank You!

Yarn:

Since I swore off double knit I went down the cheap yarn rabbit hole, so if it was frogged and never finished there would be little guilt.  I Love This Yarn, Sport Weight, can be found at Hobby Lobby.  It’s actually working up quite soft and doesn’t feel like typical acrylics.

Cast on Date: 

Sometime late December 2015.

Projected Completion Date:

Ummmm maybe before Episode VIII – The Last Jedi

The Hang Up:

Double knitting is pretty amazing, since you’re constructing a single piece of reversible fabric in one pass.  Double knitting isn’t the type of project you can really do while sitting in front of the TV in the evening.  It takes some real concentration to read and interpret the pattern correctly.  You’ll read left to right on one side, and right to left on the other, all while counting stitches.  It’s tedious, but the results are worth it if your patient.

 

 

Project Post-Mortem: MochiMochi Land Tiny Alpaca

img_0575

Y’all meet Peanut.  Peanut meet the world.

Of all the things I’ve knitted I never thought a Tiny Alpaca would make it onto my list of finished projects. The key word there is TINY.  This guy, now affectionately named Peanut, is a little under 2-inches tall.

 

Peanut is part of a MochiMochi Land kit, and was designed by Anna Hrachovec whom has created a ton of fun critters.  She has listed her design influences as Pee Wee’s Playhouse and Dr. Suess.  If you’re a 80/90s kid like me, you really can’t go wrong there.

This is my first go at a kit, and my first attempt at knitting an animal, and I survived!  Well, the first one of the two alpacas this kit will make has been made.  Peanut’s brother Cashew is still sitting on bobbins waiting to be worked up.

So what do you need to get these little guys going? 

Besides the kit, you’ll need (4) size 1 double-pointed needles and a tapestry needle, and quite possibly some glasses.  There is a lot going on with these little guys and squinting causes wrinkles so a pair of readers will probably go a long way.

Difficulty Level:

A firm intermediate because of the tiny size.  This pattern requires short rows in a few places to form the neck and head.  Also the size may create a little frustration knitting 2 stitches together in a couple of places.  Overall if you have had experience with short rows, and feel pretty confident with them you’re good to go.

As small as he is, Peanut took a solid four hours to knit, and assemble, while hanging out with the knitting group on a Saturday afternoon.  With no distractions, he would probably take about three.

Overall Impression:

I will happily make Cashew (Alpaca 2) when I have some downtime in the evenings this week, and I would love to knit a few more MochiMochi Land patterns in the future to give to friends at random.  I’m eyeballing her gnomes.  The pattern was well written, there was no question as to where I was supposed to be when, and the kit itself is simply packaged and well put together.  I think a giant alpaca may  be in order once I get around to seeing if I have any chunky yarn in my stash.