Unraveled - As Usual

Dear Friends- 

Unraveled Wednesday is one of my favorite meme days, as I not only get to see your beautiful knitting projects, but also, hear about  the books you're reading, which introduces me to many new books and grows my TBR list. As we prove every week, reading is knittings greatest companion. All around the world I connect with knitters through Postcrossing and we are all readers. This is one thing I know for sure. 

As with any good letter, let me tell you about the weather. Yesterday the sky was clear blue! The temperature was in the low 50s and I think we could be in the high 50s by Friday. After that, they say winter will return. With snow. Inches of snow, which would be amazing. I don't even mind, as one cannot complain much when there really hasn't been much of the white stuff in January. 

So, let me talk about knitting and reading, two of our shared passions. Here it is a year later and I am finally working on Fugue in Mosaic Miner, which was Kirsten Kapur's latest TTL Mystery Shawl. I find I am a monogamous knitter, and when I have a large project, like Brickyard, I must be true. The yarn for Fugue is Kim's Opal in two colors, Blossom and Blush (I think). In any case, I'm moving right along while I contemplate my next sweater. Also on the needles, is a self-striping sock, because that just seems the right thing to do. I rather love Carole's Picot Sock pattern and the way it pairs so nicely with a yarn that does all the work. The yarn is White Birch Fiber Arts color Electric Slide. Electric it is! 

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So far this year I've read some really fantastic books. I'm still blown away by The Power by Naomi Alderman and was disturbed by the crux of Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go.  I just listened to Winter by Ali Smith, which comes on the heels of her first in a quartet of seasons, Autumn. I can tell it would be best to read each book as close together as possible and they will be worth rereading when all have been published. However, they do stand very well on their own. I found Winter hit close to home, as I am an older woman and could empathize with Sophia, who is struggling through her own later years. Ali Smith demands you read every word, slowly and with intent.  

On my iPod I'm enjoying, Nutshell by Ian McEwan, one of my favorite authors. This is a very witty story written in the style of Shakespeare. I'm enjoying its humor laced drama very much. On a serious note, I'm also reading a book my niece gave to me, A Hope More Powerful Than the Sea by Melissa Fleming. I am learning how the civil war in Syria began and the story of one of its many refugees, a young woman named Doaa Al Zamel, survived. I am only a few chapters in and I feel the story is very important for me to know and understand.  

So tell me, friends, what are you reading and knitting this week? 


Last Week

Last week was seemingly busy, as there were appointments, classes, and distractions galore. By the time I got through all the blogs I wanted to read and other on-line sites I visit, there was little time left to sit and think through my own thoughts on the day. Limiting my on-line time (something that is a "thing" right now) has been berry, berry good for me. 

I'm an early riser and as soon as I get out of bed, my morning routine comprises of having breakfast and checking several places on-line. Since I need to be out the door by 8:00 to make my early swim aerobics class, my time is limited and I may not get back to the computer until late in the day (if at all). While I was working I only made it to swim class once a week, then change to two days a week when I retired, then three days a week, and now I go every day except Saturday, because Saturday's are just plain crazy at that pool. The workout is fun, different every day, we jump around in the water working our arms and legs and it's a blast. The big plus is my exercise out of the way early in the day. 

Our weather has been almost balmy, with temperatures starting out in the low 30s and heading right up near 50. Most days last week the skies were clear, but there have been a few bad air quality days, as well. I hear a change is in the air and winter may arrive this weekend. I'll believe it when I see it. 

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Last week I had a couple of doctors appointments and I am happy to report my cardiologist gave me a good report! He has a great view of our Oquirrh Mountains, the mountain range on the other side of the valley from where I live. This is the same view I had 8 years ago when I had surgery. Hello, view! I'm happy to see you only once a year. 

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Thursday night just as I ran out the door to snap a photo of the golden glow that topped "my mountain" the neighbor drove by. I only got one blurry photo taken before she engaged me in conversation. By the time we'd finished the golden moment hand passed, but, even a blurry photo of that gold capped mountain is magical. 

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When I look back at my photos of the week I mostly see pictures of amaryllisi, that's multiple amaryllis. The first to bloom (and I know you've seem many photos of it) stands 30" tall and has 6 blossoms, each 7-8" across. The second plant has been slow, because it has a second shoot, but it is starting to open and I can see it has 6 blossoms as well, but I'm sure this plant will be more on the petit side.

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The crimson amaryllis that sits on my desk has three shoots! The bulb had "crimson" written across it when I purchased it in December and I thought that meant the flowers would be red. As it turned out only the stems and buds are a deep red. As the flowers open, I can tell they are shades of pink. 2018 will be my year of the pink amaryllis forest. 

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But, wait! There's more! Can you believe I have an FO? After a wait of 4 years, and constant knitting for 2 1/2 months, I have finished Brickyard! I couldn't love her more, both the yarn and the pattern. She's even had her debut and she was a pleasure to wear. I promise FO pictures (soon) and a full report! The picture makes her look pink, but the color is more of a berry red.

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I have found other things to knit and there has been reading. There have been a couple of closets straightened up and a few things discovered, others discarded. Plus there has been painting, and planning, too. What will be my next sweater (yes! another sweater), will I be able to watercolor or sketch anything half decent for my watercolor class?  And in a bit of craziness I started thinking about February's Month of Letters, which is still a couple of weeks away. I just couldn't help it as I wanted an excuse to go to the stationary store and putter around. As fast as my days are going by it's good to be prepared for the future.


December Days



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Remember December?  It seems like so long ago, but it's only been 9 days. December days were warm, for the most part, although we ended up with a few days of inversion, a couple of gray days, and even a day of snow. As you can see there were many blue sky days and the beginnings of amaryllis watching. Some of the people who mean the most to me ended up in the photos and the sun appropriately, is represented, too. Can you tell there are more hours of daylight? Every evening my heart lifts when the sun goes down 5 minutes later than the day before. I am on sun watch.  

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This year winter has been easier for me to handle. First reason is the warmer days and while we desperately need snow, I am grateful for the chance to take a daily walk with blue sky over me. Even gray days are in the 40s. Second thing, my day is my own. Mornings I go to swim exercise 3-4 days a week as water makes it easier for my joints to work-out. Two classes are sponsored by the Arthritis Association and the other classes are full on aerobics. Who knew you could get your heart rate up just by jumping around in the water! (That's my bathing suits above on the second Friday). Lastly, while I was working and leaving each morning in the day and coming home in the dark, I get anxious in the evening. But now, it is quite the opposite. I am the boss of my time and I love it. Proof of time, is the sweater I've knit, my first since 2014! I should have an FO post soon. 

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As your reward for wading through my thoughts on winter. I bring you the elegance of Mz. Pink. She has made my heart sing with her unfolding beauty. What a bright spot in the dreariness of winter. One this one stem there are 6 flowers. In the same box is another amaryllis with two buds and upstairs  in my office I have a single pot with an amaryllis called "Crimson" that has three red stems! The expectation on it are high!! My winter is going brilliantly! 


3TT

Becky sent me the link to my 2018 books! I was thrill to see the banner and the count still exist. Thank you, Becky! Below My Year in Books you can see the star ratings I gave each one. 

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My 2018 is starting out well as I have one book read with a star rating of 4.5. The next book, Never Let Me Go, won't get that high a rating, but I have a couple more in the wings I think they will be better. When I read a book my expectation is to be educated, enlighten, told something I did understand and through fiction I feel that's what happens. Empathy and understanding for people who I would never get a chance to meet grows. Learning of our differences, but also finding out they are just like me only perhaps living in circumstances they cannot control or change.

Books take me to other worlds or societies, to places I would not survive if given the chance, but that the person in the book shows the strength and character TO survive. I want to understand, to absorb all that I can, even if I can't live that life. How fortunate I am to be able to read a variety of books that bring those worlds to my doorstep. 

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My days are spent on amaryllis watch as the three plants I bought will produce 5 blossoms. This first one to bloom is out performing all others, but the other two bulbs are spending their energy on doubling down. I think this one is going to be a beauty. I can't keep my camera away. This blossom is a temptress, a chanteuse, and a time hog. Isn't she amazing? I guarantee she'll continue to show off for you. The other two will be something marvelous when their time comes, too. 

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 When I watch TV I don't exactly watch. I'm not a fan of TV but I enjoy a few shows on Netflix or PBS. When I "watch" I'm either knitting or working on jigsaw puzzles. During the winter we watch a lot more TV than we do in summer. Because I only work on puzzles sporadically, they don't get much time or attention. This one took about 3 months to do and it was fun until everything except the pink feathery wings were left. Every piece was the same color and I had a devil of a time finding the edge pieces and filling in the shapes.  It was maddening, at times. New Years Eve I sat down with the last 30 pieces and didn't move until I had finished the whole bird. She's a very elegant swan and, in the end, a fun puzzle to do. Now she's tucked back into the box ready to give back to Cheryl, who can decide her fate. I now have a Wasgij puzzle to do.  What do you do when you watch TV? 

Three on Thursday is happening over at Carole's blog. Check out what everyone else has on their mind, too.


Brickyard and Books

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Brickyard is only a couple of inches from the finish line. I've enjoyed knitting this pattern and have high hopes of having a beautiful sweater in the near future. Kim's yarn is has been a joy (as usual), plus I don't remember ever knitting a pattern that was so well written. 

I've been reading well outside my usual genre, as the last few books would be classified as sci-fi or dystopian. I went right through the His Dark Material's series lickity-split! I LOVE The Golden Compass, but think it's worth reading all three books (back to back). Then I read Ready Player One which was just a kick as it took me back through the 1980s via 2045. I didn't understand some of the gaming references, but who doesn't remember Pac-Man?

Then on a whim, I listened to The Power by Naomi Alderman. I was BLOWN away! I couldn't stop listening it was, well, SO powerful! I highly recommend this book even if you think you don't like sci-fi, because it isn't aliens or UFOs, it's current day problems and politics, but with a big twist. This book had as much impact on me as Handmaid's Tale did when I read it in the 80s. And, just to push my case, President Obama picked it as one of his Top Books of 2017. (I also like many of his Song of the Year choices.)

My book group pick of the month is Never Let Me Go, which I read when it was first published. I don't remember the ending well, but it's another disturbing dystopian tale. After this, I think I'll read a classic. 

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Sadly, I missed capturing a screen shot of My Books of 2017 from Goodreads, but here's a shot of some of my favorites from the year. I'd recommend any and all of the books you see here. I'm joining Kat and friends for Unraveled Wednesday. Tell me what are your favorite books of 2017 is and if you've made a reading goal for 2018. 


Intentions and Resolutions

Did you have a lovely Christmas and a great New Year celebration? We did! The weather has been unseasonable warm and the air quality not TOO bad. The days between Christmas and New Years were mostly filled with brilliant blue skies and temps near 50, which gave me the chance to head out for a daily walk. Even our one cloudy day was warm. This next week could bring back some of the hazy, yellow inversion, but as long as we don't end up totally socked in, I'll live with it. Did you see the super moon?

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As a new year begins many people start making intentions or resolutions. Truthfully, intentions and/or resolutions have never been my thing and, if  they ever were, I'm sure I've broke them often enough to know there's no changing now. However, I did look around and decide on a few things I might throw into the 2018 ring. 

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Last year I made several pairs of perfectly striped socks but, sadly, the attrition rate from my sock drawer was more than I'd knit. So, I thought I'd keep the sock mojo primed. The only yarn in that photo that hasn't been hanging out in my stash for years is the blue/black yarn, named Electric Slide, which Cara (January One) destashed last month. I'm knitting it first because it's stripy!! The other pair with a bit of ribbing already started may or may not be next. In fact, it may or may not be at all. Time will tell. I also do not intend to stray from my favorite colors of blue and pink (or red) unless something spectacular comes along. 

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My sock drawer wouldn't be in as bad of shape if I ever took the time to mend a few pair of slightly damaged socks (and gloves), but I think I'll just say I should "dedicate" a day to darning which would keep my feet happy. The warmer weather has meant a pair of mitts is all I need to get by in the cold, otherwise, I would have mended the gloves by now.  I'm great at excuses. 

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I AM taking a watercolour class. No intentions there. The teacher (Liz Steel) is in Australia, which is why I've "misspelled" watercolour. I'm a rank beginner, but I'm willing to learn and will (hopefully) get over my impossible fear. The plan is to just have some fun and not try to be upset when things aren't "perfect". Perfection is over rated.  

 And, I plan to finish my sweater (Brickyard) which is in its final inches. Oh, and reading, I'm all about that this year, too! 


Today

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Today, just as the Solstice arrived (9:28amMST) the sun came through the clouds and lit up the ice and snow that had fallen during the night. I ran out to snap my photo (fully clothed) and had a nippy wind enveloped me. Tis a very chilly day and I was glad I'd decided the roads were too icy to drive to exercise class earlier.  

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Hopefully, the roads will be in better shape when I head out for lunch with a long time friend. I have enjoyed my week of celebrating with people dear to me. Tomorrow night my niece and her family will be here, so it's also day of grocery gathering and last minute errands. I will try to finish up details, as I'd like some time doing as Mary does. Smith works late tonight and twinkle lights and knitting are on the agenda. 

Also, inspired by Kym, I'm making a Solstice playlist to accompany my day. She and her commenters have quite a few suggestions of which I have several already on my Pod (#lovemyipod). 

Happy Solstice, everyone! Head over to Carole's to see other 3TT posts. 


Currently

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Watching...all three of the amaryllis grow, their buds coming through at varies stages. The spendy bulb has only a tip of a very red bud, but the other two are pushing through and there may be blossoms during the gray days of mid-January when they are most important. 

Reading...this interview on NPR with Jason Isbell and Amanda Shire (his wife) which is well worth your time to read. It's called Naming the Beast and they speak up on subjects many people shy from or ignore altogether. They are brave and talented and use their dual voice to share their thoughts. There are two videos included in the interview that showcase both musicians. 

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Knitting...with friends! The best time to knit is when you're with friends. And, sleeve(s)!! My sweater is growing--always slowly--but happily, for me, growing! 

Listening to...Not Christmas music. My current favorite is Lotta Sea Lice by Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile. The pair are good friends and the both love to play with words and phrases. Their music is poignant, at times, and humorous at others. NPR had them on as guest DJs on All Songs Considered. They share their inspirations and songs from the album. I'm a big fan of NPR music, as I hear a broad range of genres and hear what's new in music. 

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Drinking...with friends. The best time to drink is when you're with friends. Fisher is a new (old) local beer and Larry brought Smith a couple of quart cans as a gift. That's Cheryl, photobombing the photo of their three beers and my lowly glass of wine. I've never been more envious of beer drinkers. 

Planning...to take a watercolour class from Liz Steel. I may not be much of an artist, but I will have fun learning the process. I like her style and her step by step instructions. Working outdoors, on the go sounds fun, too. Since our winter is going to be mild (and snowless) I may as well. Most of the needed supplies are in hand and I'm planning to get them organize and start work on the first three steps of class before the January 10th start day. 

Itching to...get outdoors and walk, but my knee needs surgery, which can't happen until I see my cardiologist on January 11th. When I get the all clear, I'll see the ortho and (fingers crossed) get the knee working, pain free, again. 

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Celebrating...3 years of Postcrossing (and 900 postcards!)!

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Delighted by…Santa caught in the tree! I'm not sure he will get free in time for Christmas!