And I’m back!

It’s almost 9 weeks since the surgery. I’ve managed to regain half of the 14 lbs/6 kilos I lost, so I’m a bit thin but not too bad. Appetite still not great though. The hand is still painful and very stiff, but I’m doing my exercises. Physio on Wednesday so we shall see. I can drive – although it’s uncomfortable it’s so much more convenient.

Managed to do a little bit of gardening – planting mostly. Some alliums – I love those, they look like fireworks when they bloom – and some pretty tulips (Carnaval de Nice). Will have to wait for next year for those to grow though. So today I planted some winter pansies and a white heather in a pot each. Lovely.

One of the things I did each day while I was feeling so poorly was sit outside in the garden for at least half an hour, just sitting. It was lovely. So good for the soul.

The plumber is currently here. I’ve been able to hear a dripping noise for a couple of weeks now. Hubby’s standard reaction to anything like that is 1) it’s not happening. 2) well, it is happening, but it doesn’t matter.

It’s not until we get to stage 3 (damp carpets) that he finally agrees we need to do something. So now the plumber has found at least two leaks, and may have to knock a hole in a wall. We have water dripping through a ceiling, a very wet carpet in the study, and a big old mess behind the washing machine. The water is turned off, so no hand washing or going to the loo. We shall see what develops.

Ooh. Another plumber has arrived. So we have two here, making plumber-type noises. I expect we’ll need some repairs and redecorating done. Hmm.

The pest control people have managed to get rid of the rat who was living under the shed. Ewww. We have some special wire mesh which we are going to fix to the shed supports so that nothing else can move in there. The squirrel has been exercising us too, damn thing wants to eat all the bird food. But he can’t get at it now. Hubby has devised a rather Heath-Robinson but very effective system which stops the squirrel, but allows the birds to get in to the bird feeder. In fact, the pest control guy said feeding the birds was a sure way to attract rats. Mm. So we moved the bird-feeder further away from the shed.

No knitting or crochet yet. I did pick up some stitches for a friend the other day, which was quite complicated, but I managed it ok. Paid for it later though! thank goodness for ice-packs and Co-codamol . . .

Some ups, some downs.

New Skill

We have a spaghetti tangle of various wires behind the hifi, which looks awful. So we decided to do something about it. Most of the wires can be simply replaced with shorter ones (hdmi, power, ethernet), but two of the ethernet/network cables come from another room on the other side of the house. One is a flat ethernet cable, one is a standard round one. The standard one wasn’t particularly well fixed to its plug, and the wire sheath was a bit short, exposing the inner wires.

So I decided to replace the ethernet RJ45 plug.

Well. What a to-do.

Luckily, there is tinterweb and YouTube, which helped enormously.

Inside each ethernet wire, whether it’s “Cat 5e” or “Cat 6”, are eight very small wires, twisted into four pairs. All different colours. They have to go into the tiny little RJ45 plug in the right order. But they are not twisted in the right colour order. Why not? you might well ask, but I have no idea. And of course the twisting leaves the tiny little wires curly, so they have to be straightened out, then sort of wangled into a flat row.

Long story short, I found the best way to manage it, having practised (a lot) on a spare standard Cat 5e cable, is the magic “pass-through” RJ45 plug. That means that you can leave plenty of length of stripped wires, push them all the way through, and then check they’re in the right order before you crimp them. Saves a lot of trouble, and many plugs. Also, once you’ve crimped and trimmed them, you can be more sure that it will all work. There are apparently crimpers which do the trimming, but my crimpers didn’t, so I just used a kitchen knife and sharpened it afterwards.

You can buy network cable testers and I guess it would be worth it if you’re going to do a lot of this. I’m not, just a couple here or there, so I tested mine on our laptop, plugging the spare cable, with new plugs on both ends, into the laptop and a switch box. Oh my, the glee when it worked!

So now I’m awaiting short HDMI cables, and we have a plan for the power wires, so it should start to look a lot better soon.

And here, to lighten things up a bit, is a photo of our lovely black elder with the pink flowers. It stinks, though, of tom cat. I don’t remember it being smelly in years past, so I’m assuming it’s actually a tom cat. Am currently spraying a diluted solution of white vinegar, each evening, round the base of the plant, and on the patio flags nearby. Today our cat won’t go out. I really hope it’s not because of the vinegar!

Black elder in flower.

Things are happening!

The oven has continued to work ok, so that’s a mystery.

The decorator has been and we should get the quote shortly. All starting to fall into place now.

I have an appointment for a nerve conduction test, and another appointment for ultrasound and x-ray scans of my hand, when they will also do a steroid injection into my thumb. Then I get to see the consultant the following week to decide what to do (joint fusion or joint replacement).

Today my back is dreadful. I’ve had back problems for over 40 years, surgery 28 years ago which helped, but am all bent over to one side. It’s improved from this morning, when I was bent over sideways and frontways as well! still, painkillers, hot/cold packs, not doing anything for more than 20 minutes, and tomorrow it should be better. If not, I’ll try and get to the osteopath this week.

Part of the “not doing anything for more than 20 minutes” included a potter round the garden, in the rain. Took a few pictures because the colours cheer me up so much! and made me feel better even though I couldn’t manage a shower this morning. (I’ll deffo have one tomorrow, though!)

Progress

I am so relieved, and so is everybody I know, about the verdict in the George Floyd case. The thing is, though, it should have been an open and shut case, but because this was a white cop killing a Black man, there was still just the chance it might go the other way. True justice will be when there is no doubt about such things. I guess that for George Floyd’s family there is a kind of closure, but I can’t imagine how I’d feel in their place. Mixed emotions I guess. And cops do not have a good time in prison. I know nobody’s supposed to have a good time in there, but cops – well. Particularly when it’s absolutely crystal clear that a cop is a racist. Hmm. Karma.

I can’t remember who asked, but somebody did, for progress reports on the crochet blanket-to-be. Well, today the osteopath did some gentle work on my poor hand and I was actually able to crochet a (purple) square with hardly any pain. I’m so pleased with myself. So here’s a picture! And there’s enough left on the 50gm ball for one more. Each 50gm ball does two squares. The ones which look pale grey are actually pale lilac.

My friend’s little boy chose a plant for my birthday a few years ago. It’s flowered regularly at this time of year ever since. I have been known to drown these (Christmas Cactus? Shrimp Plant? Schlumbergera?) but this one has survived my ministrations. I sent them a photo so they could coo over it. Oh blimey. You can see all the dust and cat hairs on the mat. Oh well. It’s real anyway.

Windows decided to install, without my express permission, (!) the update it’s been threatening me with for weeks now. I’ve been ignoring the dire warnings, because last time I installed this particular update, I couldn’t print anything until I’d uninstalled it. So I was quite concerned. There was no opportunity to say no, or stop it, so I let it carry on and it took a couple of hours. During which time I crocheted said square.

Then, before I tried printing, I did a full backup, including email and mobile phone contacts, and bookmarks, to two different places, and then a backup to a USB stick of the passwords I’d need should I have to access the network.

I tentatively tried to print, and IT WORKED. Thank goodness for that.

Still downloaded Ubuntu 20 LTS though, and have burned the installation files to yet another USB stick, just in case. You never know.

Feelings

Really not sure where to start here.

Horrified, angry and sad about the poisonous racist culture which has finally, with the murder of George Floyd, burst, across the world, into huge protests. The protests are vital.

Reading Akala’s book Natives. He’s so articulate and incisive, I really rate this guy. Even Piers Morgan is careful when talking to him. Good.

Recently read Queenie (Candice Carty-Williams), which describes the casual racism nobody white seems to notice or acknowledge and The Night Women (Marlon James) which is written in the voice of a slave.

All excellent, if difficult. But it needs to be difficult. We need things to change. Radically.

Very up and down mood-wise, not so good pain-wise, no knitting possible.

Baking’s possible though, thanks to the Thermomix. (Dairy free berry muffins – yummy)

However, did manage to do some gardening yesterday. I guess because I don’t use my hands in the same way as I do when knitting. It leaves my hand painful and swollen for a few days, but it’s such a good feeling to be outside and doing stuff.

Moved one rosemary plant, dumped the old woody one, planted a new one in a better place. Split the thyme, dumped the woody bits, replanted. Cut back the hellebores, replanted all the daffodil bulbs I’d accidentally dug up, ripped out the dead forget-me-nots and dead-headed the poppies. Very satisfying. (None of the above pictures are from what I did yesterday!)

Disappointed that the wildlife camera missed two woodpeckers (TWO!) because the disc was full, and one jay because the angle was wrong. Grr. But there are plenty of clips of the robin, who was extremely interested in what I was doing yesterday, and came so close!

Even when I wake up feeling dreadful, I improve after breakfast and chatting to hubby. And a square of chocolate. Hubby is currently making me a cup of tea. Excellent.

 

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!

Knitting. Gardening. Organising.

The weather is lovely at the moment, which is almost unheard of for a British Bank Holiday. The cat is loving it and is in and out of the garden, checking she has food, then scampering back outside again. And she’s ten years old now, so scampering is really good.

Gardening has been a joy. Everything’s growing and green and pretty.

The knitting has been a bit up and down. Knitted a hat for a Christmas present which was supposed to be worked in the round. The cables were so curly, even after being straightened in hot water, I just couldn’t deal with it, so knitted it flat. It looked ok until I sewed it up, and it was a disaster. So after considering the alternatives (dumping it or giving it to the charity shop – nobody would have bought it anyway) I unpicked it and knitted up a different pattern, in the round, and it’s great. Thank goodness.

Also started a pattern called Zick Zack which several people at the knitting group have  done in various colourways, and that was a disaster too. It’s a 12 stitch repeat, with one increase and one decrease in each one. Got the hang of it fairly quickly, but after six rows (every damn time!) I was one stitch out in one of the repeats. I wasn’t sure if I was not increasing when I should or decreasing when I shouldn’t, or whether I’d simply dropped a stitch, but I just couldn’t see which. So. I decided not to do it in 4ply cotton (can’t wear wool), or in two different colours, but have bought some double knitting variegated cotton (Sirdar Cotton Prints DK, in Sea Glass). I am going to cast on tonight and we shall see.

However. I have successfully knitted a bumblebee from Let’s Knit magazine, and although it was a big faff, I’m very pleased with it. Also, five months after purchasing the yarn, finished a V neck top for hubby. Rowan worsted yarn, pale grey, pattern called Textured V Neck Vest. The neckline was a bit fiddly, but it’s a success I’d say.

I’m having a bit of a meltdown about blasted circular needle cables. They drive me crazy. I have mostly interchangeables, some fixed, but I’ve been keeping them curled up and trying to straighten them out when I use them. It’s not working.

So I have a new plan. I’ve ordered a wrap/roll for keeping the needle tips in, which will take up less space than the 2 x 3 litre Really Useful Boxes, and for the actual cables, have ordered some cotton reels.  This is what it should look like when I’m done. Thank you Jennifer T.

And buoyed by my successful research, this morning had a BIG sort out of my knitting bag/s. I keep a bag with my current project in it, and various specific bits and bobs. I also keep a bigger bag nearby with various generally useful bits and bobs, and the next pattern I’m planning to knit.

The clue, you may have spotted, is in the “various” and “bits and bobs”. I managed to sort out what is useful/useless and sort it into what I need to dump, what I occasionally use and what I always need, and have emptied one complete little box. The other little boxes are also much lighter, and better organised, so I only need to carry one of them with me at all times.

In the longer box is a yellow row counter. It’s the best one I’ve ever had. The centre is metal, and sprung, and is at least 50 years old. You can’t buy them now, they’re for sale as “retro” on ebay, but it has never, ever broken. The ones you buy now are all plastic, and break very easily. I think it’s called “built in obsolescence”. Very aggravating.

The denim bag was made for me by my French friend from an old pair of jeans. I lined it and took the Velcro out so there’s nothing to colour or snag on the yarn. It always, always prompts compliments. So thank you again, Réjane!

Some people (my family) think I’m a bit of a neat freak, but I find that order makes my life so much easier. I get very frustrated very quickly if I can’t find something I need, not least because there is a real risk I’ll lose the stitch/my place in the pattern or just forget what the hell I’m doing.

So there we are. Ups and downs as usual. But mostly ups.

Maintenance and Upkeep

That’s how I refer to the myriad ways I keep body and soul together without disintegrating completely.

It involves: the doctor, James the hairdresser, Laura who does my feet, Jenny the osteopath, the dentist, my husband who puts me back together when I start to fall apart, my daughters, and a lot of medication.

Next week I’m having my hair done, having a hearing test, and going to the osteopath, on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

In other news, I had almost finished a baby cardigan for a baby-to-be, in lovely West Yorkshire Spinners Bo Peep DK. I’d used a pattern I’ve not tried before. It was awful. The neckline was lumpy and vile. I picked up the neck stitches twice, tried to sort it out with matching wool, and eventually threw a minor, adolescent-type hissy fit and dumped it. Then I grew up again, got it out of the bin and unpicked as much of it as I could manage. It’s lovely to knit with, but very sticky to unravel. Row ends and shaping were a particular problem.

So now I’m knitting a Puerperium for another baby-to-be, in the same yarn but different colour. I do have a plan to replace the disaster, which involves buying more yarn. Yay!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Also thinking about the autumn, garden-wise. Rudbeckias, dahlias and planting some daffodil bulbs and possibly some crocus bulbs are currently swirling about in my brain. Mm.

 

Nearly June

The garden is still a delight. Managed to wash all the pots. There are so many that the empty ones won’t fit in the shed, so they’re dotted around the garden, intended to just look nice. And I think they do.

Also spent a happy morning sorting out my part of the shed. It’s not divided up, you understand, into partitions or anything, but I just tend to use the potting bench, which hubby made for me, and it gets into a real old muddle. Anything else is a bit too big for me to manhandle. Hubby’s bike, the lawnmower, hubby’s workbenches, so that needs to be a joint effort. Before I started work on it there was barely room to get inside.

Lots of tea breaks and rests. Lots of spiders, and the odd wasp, which had died, presumably of boredom, but nothing nastier (for instance, dead mice). I threw loads of stuff away, sorted into recycle, the tip (public waste disposal area) and just the bin. Lots of sweeping up. All re-organised and looking absolutely spiffing now. Gleaming, in fact. And it’s stayed that way because I have barely needed to go in for the last week!

You might think that isn’t really gleaming, but compared to how it was before, believe me, it’s amazing. You couldn’t see through the windows for cobwebs and bits of dead insects. Everything’s relative . . . .

Last night, as forecast, there were the most spectacular thunderstorms I think I’ve seen in the UK. It was like pink strobe lightning. Started at 1.30 am, went on till 3.30 am, started again at 6.30 am. Sigh. I quite like thunderstorms, they’re exciting, but really, lying awake all night wasn’t great. So I got up, had breakfast, and went back to bed, where I slept from 9.30 am till 1.30 pm. Much better. More thunder and lightning forecast for tonight. Hey ho. Hopefully it will get the worst over before bedtime. Hopefully.

And so far, despite the heavy rain, the garden hasn’t turned into the usual flattened mush. Possibly because everything is a bit later this year, so instead of lots of poppies, there’s only a couple open. I did have to stake up some aquilegias, but there are loads of those, so one or two smashed ones don’t matter so much.

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The knitting is going well too. I’m making a cabled hooded jacket for the 3 year old, and it’s been a bit of a challenge, shall we say, but an enjoyable one. Done the back and one front, and the sleeves and hood don’t seem to have the difficult part of the pattern on, so that should help. Am going to contact Sirdar, though, whose pattern it is, and suggest they provide charts and/or pattern panels even if only downloadable, so they don’t need to print them out. The instructions for each row are a paragraph long, and look like computer code. If I hadn’t been knitting for about 100 years, I would have given up. What I did was put stitch markers either side of the difficult bit, and mark the corresponding part of the instructions on the pattern itself with highlighter. That itself took some doing. But the feeling of achievement will be all the greater when it’s done. I think. It’s double knitting yarn, although it’s a fairly heavily cabled pattern. I’m using Bergère de France Ecoton in a denim blue. Lovely. I’ll sew it up with West Yorkshire Spinners DK in the same colour though, as the Ecoton is a bit lumpy, which is nice for the texture of the fabric, not so great for sewing up. It’ll look better when it’s sewn up and blocked.

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