Friday, 29 January 2016

Minor Adjustments

I watch a fair bit of sports, mostly hockey, golf and tennis. My interest in golf was rekindled a few years ago when Tiger Woods played that tournament on his badly injured leg. As I suffer my own kind of pain, I was impressed with his courage, his determination. Even though he was gone from the scene for awhile, my interest remained.

Golf is as good a way as any to while away a summer’s afternoon. My son-in-law plays, so I finally have someone to talk the game with. For me it’s watching only, and it makes for a great napping background.

I was watching one day and realized that there is always a camera on Tiger Woods. If not actually “live” there will be photos or bits played on different news or golf shows. How uncomfortable that must be, to have to guard your expression, to be aware of any mutterings that could be lip-read, or to watch your body language.

What happens if you have to sneeze, or blow your nose, or (not to be rude) scratch your ass? On that particular day of TV watching, I thought of all of this as I watched Tiger’s antics, as casual and subtle as he tried to be.

He’d just finished putting, had done a bit of bending and such to look at the line, spot his ball and then retrieve it from the hole. All that activity could make one’s (and I think this pertains particularly to men) underwear twist, maybe bind a little? I mean, let’s be real, is that not why men are always adjusting themselves?

Tiger walked away from the green that day, the camera following in his wake. I saw him stretch his left leg out as he stepped, giving it a bit of a jerk. He did this a couple of times before he walked normally. Unless he was fighting off a sudden spasm, I think he made a minor adjustment.

I thought of this as I watched the tennis the other night. Here again is an individual sport, and any player on the court is going to have a camera on him, especially in the big tournaments. This player did the same kind of leg jerk, and went so far as to pull at his shorts so as to make himself more comfortable.

These guys are constantly handed towels to wipe the sweat off their faces, and you can see them often wipe their hands and the grip on their racquets. They wear bands on their wrists which I assume are to prevent the sweat running down their arms that could impact their hold. They also come in handy to wipe their face, often under their nose, across their upper lip.

Someone should invent such a thing for snotty nosed kids. They could wipe their nose, hands free. Maybe such a thing could come with removable layers to discard when soiled. I mean really, do you know any kids who pull a tissue out of their pocket to wipe their nose?

Maybe, when someone watched a player use his shirt tail to wipe his face, the idea for wrist bands was born. Inspiration can come from any source, but most often in response to a need.

Makes me think I need to be more observant. What could be the next big thing, that one thing that everybody would need and want? And of course, if I came up with the answer that “thing” would make me rich. A girl can dream, can’t she?

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Mixed Precipitation

I am really amazed at the weather, awed by Mother Nature’s...well, nature. We got off easy in my area, but the US has been pounded and dumped on with a mountain of snow.

While we might be used to days off work and school because it’s a snow day, these more southern regions are not. Even when winter driving conditions are our norm, I still like to get the first few snowfalls under my belt, so to speak, to get my mind turned to winter driving. It must be a real challenge, and a risk, for people who must face it for the first time ever.

Yet, there has to be an aspect of fun to it, when the danger has passed, for people to see their landscape covered in a blanket of white, to experience the snow, the cold, the making of a snowman, first hand.

Today the temperatures are above freezing, and we have rain instead of snow. The small snowman my son-in-law built out in the court is shrinking, like the Wicked Witch of the West from the Wizard of Oz. Water can tend to do that to some people.

The weekend calls for mixed precipitation, rain and snow. It’s all a yo-yo game, temperatures up, temperatures down, rain, snow, wind and whatever. Mother Nature can be fickle, she can be vindictive, and she can be cruel. Is this the price we pay for the way we’ve treated her gifts to us? I wonder.

Friday, 22 January 2016

Tangled Yarn

The other night I spent as much time getting my yarn unsnarled as I did actually crocheting.

There are two ways to go when working from a ball of yarn. First is to work from the outside in, but this means constantly jerking the ball to turn as the yarn unwinds. I find this annoying, though I might reconsider if I had this new gadget I saw where the ball is put on a post that turns as the yarn unravels. I can see how that would work, and may consider purchasing said item.

I usually work from the inside out, which works well, except, as the ball of yarn hollows out it collapses on itself and you have a snarly mess. That's what happened to me the other night.

When I was playing on the internet I found some pictures, not what happened to me this time, but it has before. These pics of tangled yarn made me smile, and since my yarn is neatly wound in a ball, I can laugh about it...until next time.

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

"Why do you Bother?"

I recently made a trip to the city, to the Michael's store to purchase yarn. There was a big 60% off clearance sale, and I wanted to stock up for the winter.

I have always been one to make gifts. I think handmade items have fallen out of favor, as so many things, like hats and mitts, can be purchased cheap at dollar and department stores. But old habits are hard to break, and this is one habit I’ve had for more than thirty years.

Some people like it, as I was reminded at a recent gathering when told something I’d made that person was still in use. It seemed so long ago, I d forgotten.

When the grandkids were small I made them an abundance of sweaters, blankets, clothes and quilts. I haven’t sewn for years now, but my crochet hook is still in active use. With both my kids settled, married, and with children, I started making each family member a gift for Christmas. Two years ago it was a hat, different for each, last year it was slippers. More recently, my Christmas effort ran to hats and mitts, thirteen sets.

I was talking about this, and my big purchase of yarn, bragging that I had already started on 2016’s Christmas item.
“Why do you bother?” I was asked. Even now, a day later, I shake my head at the question.
The first answer is the easiest. I love my family and I like to think they feel that love every year when I make them something useful, just for them. I’m not so naive as to think 13 out of 13 people are going to love what I made them, but they will know the item was made with love.

The second reason I do it is because it gives me a project, a purpose, as I find being idle without something to do uncomfortable. I spend time searching for patterns, selecting the right yarn, starting projects, sometimes followed by some ripping out and starting over. It all keeps my mind focused and my hands busy. Keeps me sane, in other words.

This year I did make a bit of a speech, and informed everyone if they didn’t like their hat and mitts, not to worry. I had a bag of some of the extras I’d made and told everyone if they weren’t going to wear the item given to them, add it to the bag and I would donate all to charity. No harm, no foul, no hurt feelings.

Even though I only got one hat back, and that was to fix, not give away, I know some items will still end up in the back of the closet. For the most part, they understand, and feel the love.

Next year I’m going for socks. What’s that saying about cold feet and warm hearts (I know, it’s cold hands but...)?

Next winter, we’ll have it all.

Monday, 18 January 2016

Finders Keepers

At the end of December I wrote about some things I had managed to lose, in this small space I call home. My daughter doesn't find that surprising, because she thinks I have way too much 'stuff'. But my stuff holds the possibility of being used in some creative venture, whether it be scraps of paper for mixed media art or bits of yarn for some crochet project.

Last month I lost an unopened Cogeco bill (my cable, internet and phone provider), my microwave heated neck wrap and a collection of Lego pictures.

I planned to put a binder together for each set of grandchildren, as a place to store and keep all those instruction sheets that come with each Lego set. The binder, filled with plastic sleeves was not enough, I wanted the cover to be a collage of Lego images, hence all the cut outs. I had the pieces, but not the binder, and when I got the binder, couldn't find the pictures.

When I received a Lego catalogue in the mail, I tore out the centre page and made the cover sheet for the binders. Not in time for Christmas, but that's okay, it wasn't much of a gift anyway. Today, sorting through some papers, I found those original Lego cutouts.

I found my heat wrap in the bathroom, tucked in with the towels and facecloths. I must have thought it was a logical storage spot, and then quickly forgot all about it.

Still haven't found the cable bill, but as the amount is the same each month I went ahead and paid it, and have been more careful with the one that arrived since.

The other day I bought  set of plastic bins, for the pantry like cupboard I bought for more storage. I like that the bins are clear, and I can see what's inside. I'm sorting through some of my craft supplies, hoping to downsize one of those plastic things with the stacked drawers. The drawers are easier, open and select, but I can deal with the bins. When I'm into doing art, the bin will most likely sit open on the table.

It's all about being organized. clearing clutter and making it easier for me to clean. But none of that can take precedence over creativity, so I just have to learn to be neat.

There are those who laugh at me and just shake their heads, but anyone who crafts, knits, crochets and paints...well, they would understand. It's all about the imagination...and a realm of possibilities.

Sunday, 17 January 2016

"Can I Put You on Hold?"

“Can I put you on hold?”

It’s a common question, and one that doesn’t require an answer because the person asking usually doesn’t wait for a reply. After all, if you’ve called, it can be assumed you’ll wait for your turn to get your call answered.

I’m used to hearing that awful music with the intermittent “Your call is important....” message coming on to, I suppose, let me know I haven’t been forgotten.

I didn’t think I’d ever miss that music and those vague messages telling me my call will be answered by the next available person. Lately, when I’ve been on hold, I’ve heard nothing but silence. A silence that caught me off guard and made me think I’d been disconnected instead of put in a ‘holding pattern’.

I think, looking back, that I might have hung up on the waiting, thinking the silence meant that I’d been cut off.

The other day I hung in and listened to the silence. Not one to waste time, I checked E-mails, looked at the new postings on Facebook and played a game of Freecell Solitaire. I was rewarded for my patience when the speaker finally responded and I was able to get my business done.

A win/win.

Friday, 15 January 2016

A Birdhouse Memory

As I am a regular on Pinterest, they send me a series of pins every week based on what I have been perusing during the previous few days. Today I got bird houses, crochet (of course), Christmas (why I don’t know) and mixed media collage.

I looked at all the birdhouses, from the very crude and home made to the very intricate wood shop designs...and I remembered a time from some twenty years ago.

After living in the country for so many years, I found city living too confining, too much cement, too many people, and not enough open sky and fresh air. I bought a trailer and had it set up at a park outside of the city. We escaped there every weekend possible.

But being in all that nature, as great as it was, became, not boring exactly, but for a workaholic like myself, I needed something to do. You can only take so many walks, read so many books.

I decided to make some birdhouses, or maybe they were more like bird feeders. I was inspired by this nature store at the nearby Farmer’s Market. On the drive home from the town one day I stopped at the Beaver Lumber store and raided their outside container of free wood. Then back at the park I took a walk through the woods at the edge of the park to gather twigs and small branches.

Armed with a hammer, some nails and a small handsaw, I cut the free wood for a base, and maybe three sides, and decorated with nature’s accents of twigs and found items from the woods. Rustic is being kind.

Mine were not this fancy, for sure.
What I remember most is that the trailer was long and narrow, both doors exiting on the same side. There was a roll up cover for the patio area that we could open and close as desired. A few chairs, and a picnic table made up our outside living space, and my make shift workshop.

Needless to say the kids, with their preteen sensibilities, were embarrassed by my antics. There I was, in front of the trailer, on one of the main roads through the park, having the nerve to play with wood where all could see.

I laugh now when I remember those days. I’m afraid I have this need to create again, but am saved by doing anything out front where I might embarrass myself and annoy my neighbors because of the cold temperatures. But that just means I have all this time to plot and plan.

After all, I still have that piece of wood that I drew the tree on, the one I planned to create the tree design in cast off pieces of metal and a variety of nails and screws. All that hammering is an outdoor thing.

But now I’m thinking of birdhouses, too. Who knows what I might come up with by spring?

Thursday, 14 January 2016

Reader's Weather

After I posted today I looked at the map indicating where my readers were from for the day. I realized I had nothing to complain about, weather wise, when I see countries listed like Russia, Poland, the Ukraine and Switzerland.

Anyone living in those countries understands snow, and has the same winter challenges as I wrote about earlier.

Now, Argentina is something else entirely.

Weather Update

So, we finally got the snow that is normal for our region after a mild and basically dry December. And with the snow came the freezing cold temperatures. The last time I took Velma (my car) out for some social time it was sixteen below, Celsius. She needed some encouragement.

I love to watch the weather station and see the path of the storms in their colorful Doppler patterns. It's funny how the colors often move north and south of my area, leaving us alone, or with a lesser impact. They talk about lake effect, a term Buffalo is well acquainted with, being on the eastern tip of Lake Erie and the southern side of Lake Ontario.

The other Great Lakes, more to the north, have the same challenge.

A lake, or any body of water, influences the weather. On the northern side of Lake Ontario, we might have milder temperatures and experience a change as we go north. I've driven away from the lake, only to hit a storm and decide it's best to turn around. On the 45 Km drive north to the city I can pass through numerous areas of differing weather, usually worsening as we go.

Our area, on the north shore of Lake Ontario, might be clear skies and dry roads, but a few miles north we lose some of that lake effect, only to find it again when we hit the Rice Lake area. Then, continuing north, we again lose that lake effect (snow, rain) but have the colder temperatures. Once we near Peterborough, our destination, we're in cottage country, with lots of lakes, and lots of snow.

This is one of the reasons I like to drive west, along the lake, rather than north. At least the weather I find along the way will be most like what I left at home. Don't even talk about going east, the Quinte area has been hard hit with snow every winter for the last few years.

All of this, is in explanation for why I haven't been anywhere in the last week. That, and the new stash of yarn I bought when I was out last time. Since my daughter kindly picked up some groceries for me while she was shopping, I've been content to stay inside, in the warmth and crochet.

I did venture out this morning though, as far as the parking lot. I thought Velma looked a bit neglected with the 8 inches of snow covering her when the other cars were cleared. So I donned the boots and coat and went out to clean her off, and let her motor run for a few minutes. It was cold, but only zero, so mild, comparatively speaking. The weatherman is calling for rain over the weekend, and rain, on top of all that snow, followed by another freeze would be much harder to clear.

I enjoyed that bit of a walk and the exercise, and am now sharing my thoughts over a nice cup of coffee. It wasn't an activity on my To Do List, but gets a major mental check, done, just the same.

Saturday, 9 January 2016

Word Search...Things From Beyond

I like to do word search puzzles, and enjoy when the words in the list are on a theme. The puzzle I did last night was titled “Things from Beyond”

I’d have thought I knew the names and meanings of many mythical and magical creatures. I was wrong, some on the list were new to me, some familiar, and yet I might have been hard pressed if asked to give a clear definition.

The one that caught my eye was REVENANT. I’ve been seeing the trailers for the new movie of the same name and didn’t know what the word meant, curious; I had been meaning to look it up. The puzzle last night gave me the impetus to look at the words and meanings from the list.

I realized my knowledge of magical creatures was limited to the more friendly type, such as fairies and unicorns, or the Shrek style ogre.

The list included some common words, like ghosts, spooks and spirits. Then there were the ghouls (evil spirit associated with graveyards and consuming human flesh), phantoms and specters. A revenant is a person who has returned, supposedly from the dead.

The mythical creatures on the list were neither human or spirit, but a combination. Like a centaur (half horse, half man) or a lamia (a serpent turned into a woman). A kelpie is a shape shifting water horse and a sylph is an imaginary spirit of the air.
A golem is from Jewish folklore, a creature made by magic, usually of clay or stone. And then there are the gremlins, those pesky little monsters made famous in a movie of the same name.

I was surprised to see bugbear on the list, not sure exactly why as I couldn’t have given you a meaning for it. It’s one of those words you might hear or read, and you have enough of an idea what it means to understand its use. A bugbear is the cause of an obsessive fear, irritation or loathing.

When I was looking these words up, using the internet rather than a dictionary, I realized the list in the word search was only a small portion of the total list of magical and mythical creatures through the ages.

Left you a link to some of them.

At least now, if I go to the movies to see The Revanant, I’ll have an idea what it might be about.

Slipper Mania

My daughter started it, so I feel I can safely blame her. She’s the one who found the first pattern, and sent me the picture from Pinterest.

I’m always looking for new projects, new challenges in crochet, so I’d decided to make her a pair. This began in the fall of 2014, before Christmas. I didn’t like the pattern she found, too big and sloppy, so I searched until I found a couple other patterns to try.

As our winters are cold, I decided to make everyone in the family a pair for Christmas, just like I’d made them all hats the year before. I ended up with the 11 pairs for the family, and about 5 extra that were practice.

My daughter wore hers out, had a big hole in the sole because she wore them outside. This past fall I made her two pairs, small and medium, from a new pattern. She kept the one pair, gave the other to her daughter. I then made a pair for a friend of mine, and for her daughter while I was at it. Then another pair for another friend.

At Christmas my daughter gave her slippers to her aunt, so I made her another pair, but before I could give them to her, she sent me another picture. She likes the slippers that are high on the leg, like Ugg boots. So I altered my pattern and made another pair.

All in all, the total should be about 23 pairs, and none for me, and my feet are cold. So, using up some leftover yarn, I finally crocheted myself a pair of slippers.

Red socks are a nice touch, eh?

 This year the family got hats and mitts and I’ve already moved on, thinking about what I’ll make everyone for Christmas 2016. It’s going to be a long winter, the perfect time to sit inside, out of the cold, and crochet.

Decisions, decisions...what shall I make?

Thursday, 7 January 2016

Velma...Out in the Cold

I had to break out my warm woolie coat when I ventured out earlier this week. Since the thermometer read sixteen below, Celsius, I needed something more than my old ski jacket with the broken zipper. Why I cling to that old jacket is beyond me.

Walking from the door to the car, the cold did not seem that bad, not with the sun shining, blue skies and an absence of wind.

Velma (the name I gave my car to try to make her feel friendlier to me, after some ‘issues’ we had two years ago) was not impressed with the fact I wanted her to come out in the cold with me. She started up right away but let out the most disturbing whine, letting me know she was not happy.

OK, so maybe she hasn’t been out and about for anything but a quick trip to the store, but I was considerate enough to give her a quick warm up the week before, and I cleared the snow and ice from her roof and windshield.

I needed gas, and that meant standing, outside, as I did the self-service thing. (And really, is there anywhere you can get your gas pumped for you anymore?) The fresh air that seemed brisk as I walked to the car was a wicked wind chill factor now, finger freezing and nose numbing.

I had errands to run, so it was stop and start, stop and start. I took the long way each time to give Velma a chance to warm up and work the frozen kinks out of her system. She finally quit her whining and I relaxed, the fear that she might leave me stranded on the side of the road eased.

I needed that wool coat, it’s long, hits mid calf, and provides me protection from the cold and any wind. But it is heavy, to wear and to carry. I had two pairs of socks on in my shoes, silly me I still haven’t bought a pair of boots. And of course, no hat, so I was lucky Velma and I were getting along.

Velma, that good ole girl, never let me down. She may not be so pretty anymore, but who am I to complain, neither am I. I figure loyalty is a good quality and Velma and I are long time amigos, destined to end our driving days together.

And I for one don’t think that day is too far off.

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

A Comment On NCIS Changes


I have to say that as much as I like the show NCIS, I hate the character played by Michael Weatherly.

“Tony Dinozzo” is a bit of comic relief, the little boy that never grew up. But when you watch the show over and over again, in syndication and prime time, you get tired of it. I think his jokes were demeaning to those he worked with and I, for one, would have hated to be his co-worker.

It seemed he could only make himself look or feel good by making others feel bad and...less. The character was constantly making McGee suffer, questioning his manhood, belittling his value to the team because he was a geek. The women they’ve had on the team always seemed to be fighting to find their place as he never gave them enough respect for their abilities, and he seemed to be caught between sexual attraction and still trying to prove himself. Talk about someone questioning their manhood.

DiNozzo had commitment issues, still thinks like the party frat boy he once was, the Peter Pan syndrome of the little boy who never grew up. Once, when the story line had him undercover, he fell in love and we saw a more mature Tony, but it was short lived, and I was sorry to see him fall back on old habits.

As much as he seems to respect Gibbs as his leader, he is constantly making snide references to the man’s failed marriages, questioning his decisions and authority. As much as he wants to be in charge, and seems to resent Gibbs abilities, he has become stagnant, in the same position, never really growing out from under Gibbs’ wing but remaining the jovial office clown.

I like the new female agent, and already we have seen her grow in the job, and see the personal side of her life, good and bad. One thing I find irritating about series television is the way characters stay in the same place. Life doesn’t happen that way for real. People have relationships, their lives change. Tony’s Dad, a recurring role played by Robert Wagner, has had more changes in his life than the son..

On the show “Bones” the there are characters who have married, had children, and one who died, and this is more real. Though, I’m sure there are many examples where shows crash and burn when their characters ‘get a life’.

Sorry, but this has been an irritation for me for some time, and I took this opportunity to vent. I have watched the show too much obviously, but it’s so easy to have it on in the daytime, and then there’s the late at night viewing. I always thought it was background noise while I did other things, like paint or crochet. I guess I paid more attention than I thought.

Now, if Mark Harmon decides to quit, we’ll really have something to talk about.

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

A Funny Hockey Story

My seven year old grandson is a hockey fan. He plays house league and select hockey, knows the names of all the NHL teams and many of the players by name and number.

I call him a hockey-slut, not to his face because, well, he’s seven. But the family joke is he has wavering allegiance to a number of teams. Personally I think he does this on purpose because the men in the family are die-hard fans of specific teams, namely the Maple Leafs, the Habs and the Chicago Blackhawks. He has hats and/or jerseys for a multitude of teams.

So, what do you give a kid like this for a gift but something hockey related?

Last spring, for his birthday, I made him an art project. I had a 16x20 frame, plain black with a very wide mat, and an 8x10 inch opening. I printed and framed his photo from his first year of hockey. It’s taken from behind, shows him sitting on the bench, looking over his right shoulder.

Then I searched the internet and found silhouettes of hockey players, sized it to fit and cut it out in solid black paper. Artistically speaking, it looked better to have the silhouette facing the photo, the feet along the bottom of the frame, the back against the right side. I have to describe it because, as frequently happens, I forgot to take a photo of the completed work.

The silhouette filled the lower right corner of the mat, just slightly overlapping the photo.

Everyone loved it, my daughter in particular as it was her favorite photo. I thought my grandson loved it too and he did, love the photo, the theme and such. But...he informed me, with great seriousness, that he shoots left, and the silhouette is playing right handed. Oops.

I would have done it the same regardless, because it was more visually appealing and I’m an artist. I wasn’t sure he’d understand, or care, so I simply apologized, plead ignorance and promised I wouldn’t make that mistake again. Who would’ve thought? What a kid.

I was reminded of this watching his game, and thought, oh look, he’s playing left handed. Not that I ever doubted him for a minute, he’s too knowlegable.

Friday, 1 January 2016

"Hiding From the Night"...Free Book Offer

For the first time, my book "Hiding From the Night" will be offered free, January 2nd and January 3rd in E format from Amazon. This is the Kindle edition, but Amazon does offer a free app that allows you to download the book to your computer.

Love the cover done by John Kerns.

Enjoy, and a Happy New Year to everyone.