what a morning

Well. The printer, once again, decided it hates me. I bought the postage for a birthday card to New Zealand online, and it wouldn’t print it. But before that, I went to weigh the card and the battery in the scales had run out of juice. Changing the battery requires a very particular screwdriver and a very particular sort of battery. Luckily I did have both of those, so changing the battery wasn’t too bad.

However I have spent almost all morning trying to get the blasted printer to work. Apart from removing the printer from the computer, reinstalling, switching everything off and back on again countless times, I’ve rolled back the last Windows update, growled and harrumphed a lot (because that always helps with recalcitrant hardware and software), and eventually the printer spat out eight copies of something else, and one copy of the postage labels. I think that last thing was by accident. But anyway, it means the birthday card can actually be posted.

Success of a sort I guess, but it’s only a truce. I have no idea what caused, or solved, the problem. It could be any or all of the things I tried. We hardly use the wretched thing now but when we need it to work it’s such a damn nuisance when it doesn’t.

Ever since I started working with IT, which is well over 30 years ago now, printers have been the bane of my life. Their peculiar ways have always been a mystery to me. How can the computer say “can’t find printer” when it’s THERE?!

Other than that, a new POTUS has been sworn in, and calm seems to have been restored, along with sensible health and financial measures to help deal with Covid . The lying, bullying, rude, spoilt loser is off to Florida but is threatening to be back somehow or other. Ok. I thought Florida was where people his age go to retire. One can but hope. I would just love to know what his letter to the new POTUS said!

The birds in our garden are going bonkers today. It’s sunny and beautiful, but very cold, so I’m guessing they need their peanuts and seeds. One particular blue-tit is repeatedly picking up a dry leaf, flying across the garden with it, then dropping it. On to the ground. I’m thinking that Mrs Blue-tit is saying “Not dry leaves, you idiot, I said not dry leaves!” We also get flocks of long-tailed tits. They are just so pretty!

The jumper I finished for LCS is on its way back to me for mending. He loves it, and wears it a lot, and apparently he has been seen picking at it. Hey ho. Luckily I kept the bits of yarn left over for just such an eventuality.

Knitting is going slowly, but ok. Received some lovely 4ply cotton craft yarn – might crochet a dishcloth or two. Another day though. Today has been too fraught.

Hubby decided that we don’t need almost 1,000 cds in the lounge, we need the room for books. Which is true, as he prefers his books printed. I prefer mine on Kindle as books are difficult to manage with my stupid hands. However, we don’t actually play the cds, they’re all copied on to the music streamer. We have to keep them, though, it’s illegal to have the music without the original media.

So. After some discussion, I managed to persuade him that shelves on the ends of our desks would look awful, and that they would look much better next to the matching shelves in one of the spare bedrooms. It’s taken a good week or so, partly because getting the shelves and brackets etc isn’t that easy in lock-down, and partly because it’s quite a big job. Anyway, despite the fact that we both prefer to get a job done, we did it between us gradually, and now we have more space for books yet to be bought (sigh), the cds are in the house but not too obtrusive, and the re-organisation is done. Pictures would be a bit boring I think.

Goodbye, 2020.

I shall be very pleased when this year is over, although things clearly won’t magically improve overnight. Our area in the West Midlands, UK, is now in Tier 4, which is currently the highest state of lockdown. We can buy food, or get medication, but that’s about it. Any doctor’s appointments are by phone, unless the doctor asks to see you. We’re just awaiting our vaccination letters. Hubby will get his first, as he’s 75. I’m 65, almost 66, so will have to wait for mine. Even then I don’t expect things to suddenly improve.

Decided I’d read fiction at bedtime, non-fiction in the day. I was feeling a bit overwhelmed. Currently reading “Rage” by Bob Woodward, which is interesting to say the least. The Trumpster didn’t co-operate with Woodward over the last book, apparently regretted it, and has co-operated with this book. Just the conversations/interviews between the two men are interesting. I can only cope with a couple of chapters at a time, because it’s all quite intense. I am highly relieved I am retired and never had to work in such a high pressure environment.

Then we watched an episode of West Wing last night, which restored my faith in humankind. Without that, I would have no idea about how the US political system works. Mm.

It took me weeks and weeks to finish this jumper. I knitted up the whole back before I realised that I’d knitted it a size too big, and wouldn’t have enough yarn (discontinued, of course) left to finish it. Sigh. So I undid it all and started again. It has been well received, and this particular grandson is, shall we say, quite particular about what he will and won’t wear. Phew. He loves green, so I was hopeful. Love this little guy. The yarn is Bergere de France Magic+ (Aran weight), and the colour is Lichen. The pattern is called Jake. (US$5) When I was (much) younger, knitting patterns were numbered, not named. Mm.

I did have a small crochet moment or two (I was referring to it as a “frenzy” but my sister called me out on it!) and made four of these. It’s simple craft cotton, DK, and I used a 4mm hook. The pattern is Crochet Coasters (free) by Coats.

And here is some snow falling. It didn’t stick, but it is very cold and frosty here.

I wish you all a much, much better 2021.

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!)

Built-in obsolesence

At least I assume that’s what it is. Today I had set aside for ironing my stuff. When I switched the iron on at the plug it went PFFFSSSSTZZZ. So I switched it off, and left it a few seconds, then on again. No more spitting, but a strong smell of burning. Switched it off again, brief but productive conversation with hubby, and have ordered a new one to arrive tomorrow.

Then when I was drying my hair I realised that it’s been a couple of weeks since it’s smelt of burning when I switch on the heat, so I’ve been drying my hair with cool air. Yeah.

This morning I had toast for breakfast with marmalade. I like my toast nice and dark, so I always turn the setting up. But the toast came out very pale and only half done on one side. Then I couldn’t remember if I’d turned the setting up or not, because it’s such a habit.

So. I have in my “basket” at my favourite shop a new hairdryer, and a new toaster. Next time I do toast I will take careful note of the setting, and see if I need to order said toaster.

Sigh.

I’m going to label the power cord on each new thing when they arrive with the date so we can see how long things last.

On Friday and Saturday nights we watched two documentaries about the fire at Notre-Dame de Paris. The first one was interviews with various firefighters, at all levels, including their big boss, and with various other folk involved. I was so impressed with their honesty, their obvious care for each other and the cathedral, and the team work. The only thing that irritated me was Rector Chauvet. He talked about himself. What a wonderful parish priest he thinks he is, popping into all the local shops for “un petit verre”, and how dreadful this was for him personally. It was all about him. Oh, and he was very pleased (proud) that President Macron and he went into the cathedral together when it was safe (ish). Where’s the humility? compassion for others? Eventually he managed half a sentence about the dangerous work and risk to life, but only just. Hmph.

The second one was about the restoration. My goodness, the detail, the research, the history, the work that is going on to ensure that it is as well restored as is possible. Architects, historians, carpenters using medieval tools, specialists in stone, I could go on. Each carpenter building the original had left his personal mark on the wood! it’s like looking at a job finished yesterday. Very very interesting and moving. And what’s more, the knowledge of the properties of stone and wood even all those hundreds of years ago was pretty damn good. Lighter stuff on the roof, stronger denser stuff for the pillars – how did they know all this? and there are many, many good ideas for the finished project.

Finally have an appointment with the opticians on Wednesday. My day to day varifocals haven’t had the prescription updated since May 2018, my computer glasses since May 2017. I can tell that they really need updating. The delay is because of the double vision I have which suddenly got much worse, so I was referred to the eye clinic at the hospital to make sure nothing else is going on. They finally discharged me and eventually sent me the letter containing the information the optician needs. Hooray! I have ideas for my new frames already . . . .

Achievements.

Flu jab – done.

Mammogram – done and results received (clear).

Knitting project – discovered I had knitted the back of a jumper for a nearly-6-year-old in the next size up. It was massive. It meant I wouldn’t have enough yarn to finish it. I searched online and nobody else has any left over of this yarn. The maker has stopped making it in this particular colour. So I undid it all and have started again. Sigh.

Shopping delivered this morning – unpacked, wiped and put away. Hubby and I do that together.

Scandi-noir series DNA – finished last night. Yeah. Not clear while watching about time frames – is this now? is this years ago? but overnight have sorted it out in my head. I think.

Ignoring Trump-Giuliani-tantrum – mostly.

Posted a birthday present for end of November. Fortunately, it’s not the jumper I’ve messed up!

Tried out new John Lewis jeans – so comfortable I’ve ordered another pair.

That’s quite a lot really, in my head.

Mm.

Busy, busy.

For me, anyway. Busy for me does not equal busy for other people.

However, I have crocheted three small items (gifts so no details), continued knitting for one of the grandsons, and actually managed to wrap most of the Christmas presents. Normally most of them go into gift bags and are handed to the recipients, but of course this year they all need to be wrapped and posted. We have family and friends in Dublin, Malvern, Brighton, Southampton, France, and New Zealand. The last of these I already posted and has actually arrived.

The crochet was a bit fraught, though. I started on a thing I’ve done before, three times, without any problems. This time I just could not get it right. The edges were all over the place and the stitch count was always wrong. Eventually, after six re-starts and a new pattern, and watching very useful YouTube video tutorials on how to turn and where to poke the hook for the first stitch, I finally got my head round it. Phew. Now I have ordered some more appropriate yarn and will do some more when it arrives.

Also took the plunge and ordered new bras (see what I did there?!) We shall see what transpires.

Have spent a lot of time sleeping lately. Today I did get up but had to go back to bed at 10, and slept till 1 pm. Got up, showered and dressed (always an achievement).

We’ve been watching a three-part series on Berlin in 1945. Old diaries and old films have been skilfully put together. It was difficult to watch, particularly for me, as I have Jewish heritage, but worth it. I felt quite sorry for the people, except for one young woman who worked in an office, when she wrote how dreadful it was for “we Germans” to demean themselves. She was talking about the manual work, collecting and sorting bricks. When I’ve seen the photos of women doing that I’ve always assumed they self-organised. Nope. No. They were organised by Russians, or British, or Americans, and clearly resented that, and doing the manual work. Hmph.

Have also just finished reading “The Good Germans” which was very interesting and surprising. I read “The Good German of Nanking” years ago and was profoundly touched. I also have “Hitler’s Willing Executioners” by Daniel Jonah Goldhagen, which tells a very different story about how normalised and widespread anti-Semitism had been for many years before WWII. So it was heartening, and good for me, to read about high-ranking Nazis who were what was referred to as “Beefsteaks” – brown on the outside and “red” on the inside, which means that they were secretly anti-Hitler and did all they could to subvert his policies. For example, one particular senior Nazi was also a Quaker, and managed to arrange for various Jewish people to be sent to Quaker houses in America.

Sometimes I think some of us (certainly I do) live in an echo chamber, so that our own views are reflected back to us and hardly ever challenged. So I do try to understand other points of view when I can.

I even feel a little bit (only a very little bit) sorry for Trump. He is acting, in my view, like a spoiled 74 year old child, refusing to accept he lost. Thank goodness the judges and the courts are upholding the law and ignoring the tantrums.

It feels a bit calmer now and I have hope that a smooth transfer of power can actually take place. Mm.

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.