Nearly There

Have been meaning to blog for a while, but kept deciding that nothing I wanted to say was interesting enough to share. (self esteem ? !)

Anyway, I have a couple of photos which might appeal.

I’ve actually finished the knitting on a jumper for 6 year old grandson, but haven’t quite mustered the oomph to sew it together. I need to do that in daylight, which is in short supply here in the northern hemisphere, but it’s in the plan. It won’t arrive before Christmas anyway. It’s a much nicer green than the photo shows. It’s Bergere de France, Magic+, and the colour is Lichen. Discontinued, I think. The pattern is called Jake. I sewed up the shoulders and knitted the collar in the round before blocking.

Started a jumper for hubby. It’s called Play on Ribs by Pat Menchini, and was in one of the knitting magazines I subscribe to. Also available on Ravelry, but you have to pay for it. It’s more interesting than plain stocking stitch, which is good, because that can result in my losing the will to live, but I’m sometimes able to knit this while watching TV. The yarn is Rowan Superwash Worsted 100% wool, and the colour is called Mallard. Please excuse the flash reflection.

Got so fed up with rummaging around in my knitting bag for tiny little bits and pieces like stitch markers that I had a big old sort out. My “main” knitting bag, for supplies and accessories, is very posh and well made but black inside. Which doesn’t help. So I bought a cantilevered transparent small tool box for “artists”, put everything in there, and just the actual knitting in my “subsidiary” knitting bag, and it works really well. The main bag has gone upstairs to think about how naughty it’s been. Next to “my” chair in the living room, the detritus from knitting/crochet/magazines has significantly reduced and looks much better. And, as a bonus (!), it works, and knitting is easier too.

Went to collect my new specs from Specsavers last week. What a fiasco. I had been waiting for months and months for the hospital to discharge me and let the opticians do the eye test, which they finally did. I chose some lovely frames, and I have three pairs of reading glasses (handbag, bedside, lounge), one pair of computer glasses, a pair of sunglasses (tinted varifocals) and a pair of everyday glasses (usually varifocals with Reactolites or whatever they’re called). However. The reading and computer glasses were easy to sort out. But the other two pairs were not. My double vision is so bad I need special lenses to fit in normal frames. Those special lenses can’t be both varifocals and Reactolites. But they can be varifocals and tinted, or varifocals and untinted. Right.

So when I went to collect them, the sunglasses and everyday glasses were dreadful. Impossible to see through. I was there an hour before they worked out the problem. The lenses weren’t properly centred. Long story short, I’ve ordered different frames (slightly smaller) which should make life easier for all concerned, including the staff in the laboratory who actually put them together. They are going to let me know when those are ready. Probably after Christmas. Sigh.

But I’m so delighted that my new computer specs have two arms. One arm fell off my old ones about two weeks into Lockdown 1 and I’ve just been managing since then, in a slightly wonky way.

Have been reading lots too. Watched a film based on the true story of two East German families who built their own hot air balloon and eventually escaped to the West. Excellent. Now I’m reading Stasiland, written relatively recently, and since the Wall came down. Very good. I’m trying to understand the paranoia of the Stasi. Also some more Lee Child, and a Ruth Rendell I’ve just started.

Our Christmas tree is finally up, but just looks like a Christmas tree. Here’s a couple of festive photos though. I used a wreath former for the end photo, and knitted or crocheted all the bits and bobs. A few years ago now but I still love it. The beaded Father Christmas is from Hong Kong, I think, a long time ago. And the fox decoration is just interesting! Have the best few days you can, in whatever circumstances you find yourself in.

Frustration

Well, the new toaster and iron have turned up and are excellent. Hairdryer, however, has not, yet.

On Monday hubby couldn’t access his streaming service, all of a sudden, through the app he uses to listen to music. We both spent a fraught day trying to sort it out, and in the process we re-set his music player to factory settings.

That evening our cable supplier announced via its website that there was a local problem, so we weren’t surprised that we couldn’t access the cable box.

It took them until late Wednesday night to fix it and guess what? we still couldn’t access our cable box. I checked it on the internet and they said, after checking remotely, Oh it’s your box.

I spent 49 minutes this morning on hold waiting to talk to a guy who assured me it wasn’t the box. He talked to me like I’m an idiot, so I womansplained that I actually worked in tech support, and had already been through rebooting, checking connections, changing cables, blah blah blah.

He assured me nonetheless it wasn’t the box.

I eventually, by dint of faffing about with cables which are difficult to see upside down and close to a wall, even with a torch, then more faffing about inside the configuration program through which we’d reset everything (GAAAAAGH) , made it all work. It works a bit differently from before, but we can not only see but hear the blu-ray player, the TV directly, and through the cable box.

Meanwhile, hubby had contacted his hifi manufacturers, who advised him that they had just issued a new version of the software which runs his music, and lo and behold, his streaming service was magically back. 🙄. I remained calm, but suggested that next time his damn software goes wrong, we wait a day or two before doing ANYTHING.

First World problems, I do know. Yeah.

On the upside, I made some marvellous mince pies. And the Post Office/Royal Mail/whatever they’re called collected the five parcels I’d had terrible trouble arranging yesterday. Only one more parcel to arrange, and I’m looking forward to wrapping and sending that one.

Home Made (Ish) Mince Pies. (bought pastry, bought filling!)

To The Wire

Wow but it’s been tense this last week. I live in the UK, but it feels like the whole world has been awaiting the results of the US election.

I am so relieved, just so relieved, that Biden and Kamala won. I’m not sure what’s going to happen next, despite Trump’s blustery tweets (which seem to have gone very, very quiet this weekend).

There is of course a lot to deal with now, including how on earth it was such a close race.

Ho hum. I do have a lot more thoughts on this particular subject, but not sure it’s appropriate to share them right now, as there are a lot of people who will not be at all happy with the election result.

So what’s been going on here? at our house? well, I have a niece who is 40 years old today. Lockdown celebration of course, and her sister collated video messages from family and friends which she’s made into a delightful mixture. It’s just so lovely.

And last Sunday hubby had a birthday, so I made him a chocolate cake. Dairy free of course. It was, even though I say it myself, absolutely delicious. I baked it on the Saturday, but we couldn’t wait until the actual birthday to start on it, so we had some on Saturday . . . . And on Sunday evening, just before national lockdown, we went to Lambs of Sheep Street in Stratford upon Avon, which is a fabulous restaurant we go to regularly. Excellent. Hubby had steak, I had duck. Delicious. Then we went home and ate some more chocolate cake . . .

Then hubby’s very old MiniMac computer started playing up. It had Ubuntu installed on it, because one of the iOS updates broke it. At least Windows will tell you if an update is inappropriate (usually). But even with Ubuntu, it was failing. So now he has a Lenovo with an SSD. Runs like the wind. But it arrived with no DVD drive in it. I am in correspondence with Lenovo (We bought it direct from them) to find out why. I’d like them to send me the drive and I can fit it. I also want to know why the guarantee has only 8 months left on it, as we bought it this week. Hmph.

I’ve been sleeping a lot. I mean A Lot. Yesterday I woke at 2.30 pm, today I got up, had breakfast, and went back to bed again. Woke at 12.30, so I was able to at least shower and dress before hubby’s afternoon ziz.

All the Xmas presents are ready to be wrapped, labelled and parcelled up, but I just don’t have the oomph to actually do it. I’m intending to do it in stages, it’s just too much altogether otherwise. Even so. Maybe tomorrow morning. Our main postal service has started collecting parcels from your house, so that will help a lot.

Finally found some jeans I like. John Lewis. Yeah. The thing is, because they’re brand spanking new, it feels odd to wear them round the house! so I haven’t yet. But I will I’m sure when I’m feeling a bit more Rah! Rah!

Decided I would crochet some face / wash cloths, so am awaiting some lovely variegated yarn (Rainbow Cotton from Hobbii). It’ll make a change from knitting and won’t take long. Am awaiting a grandson’s measurements from his mum before I can continue knitting the jumper I started. Apparently he’s had a growth spurt, and is all arms and legs. Not sure I want to knit something that (a) he may not choose to wear and (b) won’t fit him even if he does adopt it. Hence the crochet project idea.

Scams and Gardening

I get irrationally angry when we get a scam phone call, email or text. My instinct when we receive a call from an unknown number is simply not to answer, my reasoning being that if they’re bona fide they’ll leave a message.

However, there is some satisfaction to be derived from answering the call and questioning them. For example, yesterday received a call from a slightly stroppy woman with a strong Indian accent, saying she was calling from BT. Ok, I said, why are you calling me from BT? Because, she said, all the phone lines in the UK are owned by BT. That’s simply not true, said I. Who told you that? she said? it’s a known fact – and then hung up. Ha!

So today I checked, and BT own most of the lines in the UK, but not all. I will be armed with this information next time.

I have also received numerous calls from people purporting to be Microsoft (Ha! as if Microsoft phone you up!) telling me that there’s a problem with my computer. I let them carry on for a while, digging themselves a bigger and bigger metaphorical hole, until I advise them that I use Linux. That always, always confuses them. One guy was clearly looking at some sort of list, and finally said Oh, are you a technician? Yes. Yes I am. So he hung up.

Next time I get one I may just cut to the chase and ask if they’d like my bank details and then see what they say.

Emails and texts which are clearly scams I just angrily delete. Interestingly, it’s only my Virgin email address which gets scams, which makes me think there’s been a data breach somewhere along the line. I get plenty of junk mail on my other email addresses, but that’s just advertising, or a friend has had their email hacked and all their contacts sent a spurious message.

The sort of thing I know is a scam is, say, purporting to be from the TV licensing people, saying they can’t collect our money, but they’ve sent it to the wrong email address! and that is how I know they’re lying. Apart from the fact that I check the bank account every day so I know that the TV licensing people are actually getting our money.

Ho hum.

The man (it’s a different guy almost every time) is currently mowing the lawn. The gardening service we have is excellent apart from time keeping, although today he’s 45 minutes early. We won’t be asking them to do any more odd jobs, though. They’ve done the ones we asked them to do (several weeks ago now) and have done a good job, except that there is the old back gate and the ugly phormium sitting on our front garden waiting to be removed. Sigh. Here are some photos – old/new back gate, old/new side fence panel, old ugly phormium. You’ll be glad to know I decided the new manhole cover was just too boring to photograph and post!

But it took weeks to get them to actually come and do the work. I do think the guy in charge is honest and well meaning, and has had a lot of bad luck, and maybe he has taken on too much work. But if you’re self employed it must be difficult to know what counts as too much work, particularly if you have guys on your team who go to the pub and then have to self isolate for 14 days. Whose idea was it to open the pubs? madness.

I have the new plant ready to put in the hole where the phormium was, but am waiting until I have the opportunity, the energy, and the weather. Also we’re going to have the front lawn dug up and completely replaced, so I’m wondering if it might be better to leave it in its pot until after that.

Still working . . .

Well, the printer fell off the network once, but I think that’s sorted. It hasn’t fallen off again. I had to re-pair the HomePlugs it’s using. I guess its little electronic brain recognised that it was connecting to a “new” network, or at least a new router. Anyway, it’s all still working. Fingers crossed.

Meanwhile I’ve again changed my painkiller routine as I wasn’t coping with the pain. Two Co-codamol (30/500) in the morning, two at about 5 pm, and then two Paracetamol at bedtime. Seems to help.

I was even able to do a bit of knitting last night, until the cable fell off the end of the needle, then all the stitches fell off. So I have picked them all up, fixed a new cable, and ordered some new interchangeable bamboo needles (Hiya Hiya instead of Knit Pro). I didn’t order a set, just sizes 4mm, 4.5mm and 5mm, with four different lengths of cable.

Planning to do a bit of clearing up in the garden tomorrow. The hardy geraniums in the front have gone over, so I’ll cut them back to the ground. Some bluebell detritus gone yellow. And probably cut the poppies which have dead blooms on them back to the ground. Sometimes you get a second flush of blooms if you do that, rather than just take off the heads.

Managed to save one baby bluetit from certain death (by our stupid cat), but not the other one. They do seem to fledge from the ground, which doesn’t make that much sense really. Chased the cat away, lured her back into the house with the treats in the crackly bag, and wouldn’t let her out. So she sulked. Well, to be fair, she slept in her little cat bed. Which is fine.

Fam-a-lam Bingo tonight. Auckland NZ, Dublin, Brighton, Malvern and us (Solihull, West Midlands). We have the technology. We have the bingo cards via email. Can’t wait . . .

Zoomed this morning with some of the knitting guys. We drink tea/coffee, talk over each other, laugh a lot, and do show and tell with our projects. Or in my case, the broken cable.

Finished Succession Season 1.Have even gone off Marcia. But it’s still exciting. Just paid for Season 2.

Success!

After days and days of problems with the wi-fi signal (probably because everybody is using wi-fi more now we’re all at home so much) I decided that we needed to put the Virgin Superhub3 into modem mode and buy a new router.

So I did. Also bought some new cables and switch boxes. It all arrived today (Asus RT AC 85P and tp-link 8 port switches, along with various lengths of Cat6 flat ethernet cables).

Surprisingly, after a number of sleepless nights worrying about it and thinking it all through, I put it together and it worked with no problems at all. I can now see every single thing on the network, which I couldn’t before. Even the TV!

Also the Tivo box had been giving us problems, which have magically disappeared. And hardly any HomePlugs too. One (plus its pair) for the printer, and one (plus its pair) for the hifi thingamajig in the kitchen. Which are also visible on the network. Part of the problem was that the electrical circuit in the study doesn’t talk via HomePlugs to the electrical circuits anywhere else in the house. So now we have 2 x 30m of ethernet cable going from study to lounge, but it all seems to work. I can’t believe how easy it was.

The main problem, though, was that the Virgin Superhub3 wasn’t coping, as demonstrated by the new router, which clearly is coping. Hooray!

But I’ve only just finished it. It could all go horribly wrong by tomorrow, but that’s unlikely.

And just to finish off, here is a photo of some poppies in my garden. Yay!

Happier Things

I’ve just been in the garden, tidying up most of the daffodil, tulip and bluebell detritus. Looks much better, but when sitting having my post-gardening cup of tea I noticed more I’d missed. Another little job for another day.

Meanwhile here are a couple of photos – two of indoor plants, the white schlumbergera (?) was a present from my small friend Henry, the pink one I have no idea what it is, but took a cutting from Mother’s house while she was still with us. The red ones are perennial poppies I grew from seed several years ago, so I’m quite (insufferably) smug about those.

Currently reading The Man In The Red Coat by Julian Barnes. Love his stuff anyway, but this one is very interesting. Non-fiction, it’s a sort of meander through La Belle Epoque, but occasionally the author “talks to camera” which is very endearing. Previous book was Bill Bryson’s Thunderbolt Kid. Laugh out loud funny.

Half way through Pimpelliese shawlette, but I’m guessing there will be no knitting tonight after gardening this morning.

Halfway through the HBO season 1 of Succession. Wowsers! I don’t like any of the characters. Perhaps a sneaking admiration for Marcia. It is so clearly intended to be a story of, let’s say for example, Murdoch empire (Fox/Sky).  I don’t know why anybody would want to work for them. Edge of the seat watching though.

Work is still ongoing on the “improve the wi-fi” project. More to come when I’ve actually made some progress. Sigh.

I am such a doofus

You’d think, wouldn’t you, that after having had a couple of leads (usb and audio) and a usb adapter stolen from my car I’d be a bit more careful. However, when I got back to my car on Thursday morning after Stitch & Sip I discovered that I’d left the driver side window wide open. I’d put the Stop Lock on the steering wheel, and made sure everything that mattered was not on view. Except for the stereo fascia, which of course had been nicked. Luckily, that was a replacement fascia, which only cost me £7, and I’d kept the original one. I’d replaced that because it was blank, so I just ordered another one from ebay which arrived today. I’ll check it works tomorrow. But how lucky that the actual car didn’t get stolen!

This is not because I’m a doofus, but the shower pump has burnt out after only two years’ use. That was a replacement for a previous shower pump which also stopped working after two years’ use. At £500 a pop including fitting, that is not a small thing. Husband has been talking to the manufacturers, and they requested photos of the installation. They’ve had all that and we shall see.

Meanwhile, we’re lucky that we have an electric shower in the main bathroom, so I’m using that.

Knitting mojo has sort of returned.

Am currently knitting a scarf for a present, have two toys on my list to knit, and will return to the Elfe top when I’m feeling more on top of things.

Another project has made itself known to me. The wi-fi in our lounge is not all it could be. The main router is in the study, and has to be there because our service provider is cable. I have been reading that you can get wi-fi repeaters/boosters/thingamajigs, and on researching this discovered that if you have an old router you can “flash” that with some open-source (legally free) software.

Now, I have an old router, but no power supply for it. That is in the course of being remedied – ebay – but it arrived with the wrong adapter for the router. They’re going to send me a new one.

When that arrives, and I can actually get the router working, I’m going to have a go at installing that new software. All new territory for me, though I have built and re-installed several computers, lots of times. Exciting. I’ve saved all the relevant internet pages I need onto my pc, because it looks like I have to disconnect my pc from the network and therefore the internet and connect it via ethernet directly to the router. So I wouldn’t be able to access the pages if I’d saved them as bookmarks/favourites. Mm.

Planning to do some clearing up in the garden tomorrow – lots of annual poppies and deadheading to get rid of. Waiting till tomorrow because it’s going to be cooler tomorrow which suits me better.

Have started wearing harem pants. They’re 100% cotton, very loose and comfy, elasticated at the waist and ankle, ridiculously cheap, and perfect for this weather. I have five pairs now. All from ebay (thai_vibes). Love them.

Progress

Well. We had a leylandii hedge in the front garden dug up and the stumps ground out. I want to replant the area with Photinia Red Robin next spring, but need to get rid of the ivy first. So I’ve had a go at it but had to stop in the end. Looking better though. I can’t believe how deep the ivy roots go! next step,  when the ground is drier, is special strong ivy weedkiller. Mm.

Meanwhile, today I’ve cooked a Yule Log. My first ever. It’s cooling as I type, and I’ll make the filling soon and freeze it filled. I’ll ice it just before it’s served. We shall see.

I never, or at least hardly ever, knit more than one project at a time. However, I’m currently knitting Rowan’s “Whelk“, which is complicated, but I’m managing. So I need something mindless that I can do while watching TV (though I can’t knit at all when it’s subtitled and in a language I don’t speak – Swedish, say, or Danish!). I’m doing Sunny Baby Blanket by Lucy Sinkler. It’s the fourth one I’ve done, and they are lovely. Lots of stitch markers in both projects (colour coded in Whelk . . .) or I’d never cope!

Sunny Baby Blanket. Yarn – Style Batik Purple Mist. More grey than blue.

 

Whelk. Yarn: Rowan 100% Superwash Wool – Moonstone so very pale grey rather than blue.

Also need to finish wrapping and labelling the Christmas presents which need to be posted – one to the Republic of Ireland and one to France. Hoping to post them tomorrow, although the Post Office will be absolutely heaving. After my hairdo and lunch date with my friend Fiona, I think, so I don’t keep anybody waiting.

My computer is a bit flaky. I think it’s on its last legs. Sometimes it falls off the internet, though hubby’s doesn’t, sometimes the mouse won’t work, sometimes the keyboard won’t work. It is six and a half years old, and Windows 10 lost all the USB ports about three years ago, so I installed Linux Ubuntu. That always extends the life of a computer, because it is so much less resource-hungry than Windows, but even so. I’ve ordered a new one which is arriving today, so everything is backed up, printer driver downloaded and recommendations for antivirus sorted. It is quite exciting, but setting it all up takes a while.  I get cross with Windows because it’s so damn nosey and interfering and intrusive. Once I’ve dealt with all that nonsense it’s ok. Mm.

And I’m not even going to talk about the total omnishambles that is Brexit. Nope. No.

February! goodness

Hi people.

I’ve been a little preoccupied what with one thing and another. But YD finally had her baby, whom I shall call ESW (initals), in the middle of January, 10 days late, and had a very difficult time indeed. ESW is now three weeks old and had her tongue-tie snipped yesterday, which has made life much easier for YD, her hubby, and most of all for ESW. Let’s hope it just all settles down now and they can enjoy, instead of enjoying and worrying about, their beautiful little girl.

Knitting has continued apace as you can see from the photos. And even a little sewing, for LCS (14 month old grandson). He loved it. I’m going to make another clown cushion and keep it at home so children who come to see me (I have a little friend called Henry, for example) can play with it.

Guitar playing – not so much. It’s been a year, I’ve tried two different guitars (classical and plain acoustic) and a ukulele, and it’s just not working for me. I thought a ukulele would be easier to handle, but it’s a pain. Under the boob? above the boob? right on top of the boob? nah, just got to the stage where all three are just sitting staring at me balefully. I’m going to hang on to the Fender acoustic and try to get rid of the other two.

We are in the process of getting quotes for refurbishing our kitchen (cabinet doors and worktops only) and it’s all quite exciting. Today I went to a kitchen showroom. By myself. Not the best plan I’ve ever had really. My inner wimp appeared. I spent approximately 45 seconds in there, wandering around aimlessly, feeling really stupid and as if I were 12 years old again, lumpy, adolescent and awkward, so I came home. There really wasn’t any need to go, because we’ve requested samples of the sort of thing we want anyway.

So I wrote to my lovely French penfriend instead. That’s an hour’s job, because I write in French, then translate into English, and correct her English letter to me. Hardly any corrections this time though, at all. (Bravo, Réjane!)

It’s “Time to Talk” day today – is that global? or just in the UK? anyway, on my facebook “on this day” there was my post from last year. (not sure this will be available if you’re not on facebook!) Still makes me feel a bit wobbly, to be honest. Now I’m on the maximum dose of Paroxetine, having tried to go back down to the 40mg a day dose, but need the 50 to be stable. And I need to be stable.

Tomorrow I’m hoping to have the energy to start re-organising the craft room. The lids on the boxes I got from ebay are starting to split. So I’m going to dump the broken lids, keep all the boxes and unbroken lids, and we’ve been to IKEA and bought a load of Samla boxes, some inserts, and all the lids. Am very nerdily excited about it! I’ll post photos when it’s done, just because I can.

And oh god my computer. Last Sunday it started behaving very oddly indeed. The mouse stopped working. Eventually I twigged that none of the USB ports were working. I reinstalled Windows 10 three times, to no avail. Luckily I was able to find a very old fashioned mouse with a PS2 (small, round) connector – with a ball in it! Haven’t seen a mouse with a ball (so to speak) for years! but I had one so was able to use that and installed Linux Ubuntu 14.04.3. All working really well now. How frustrating it was though. I realised it was the Windows drivers when I went into the BIOS (Setup), and a USB stick was recognised in there.

So I’ve needed to re-think my strategy on certain things, for example cloud storage. After much searching and testing, I’ve settled on MEGA which allows you 50Gb free storage. Yep, 50Gb. And it was simple to install on my computer and on my mobile phone. Just need to get it set up on my (Android) tablet now. I was using OneDrive (MS) but it just won’t work on Ubuntu. Dropbox you only get 2Gb free. And so on.

And it’s been such a long time since I posted. Mother’s knee which needed 19 stitches has healed well. Her shin is still bandaged up though. She’s going to meet ESW this weekend, YD + hubby are going over to see her, my sister who lives nearby, and at least one of my nieces. Lovely.