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Welcome to my world...

Occasional musings on "life, the universe, and everything" from a fiber junkie.

December 31, 2011

Endings and Beginnings
Once again, we stand at the cusp of a new year, bidding farewell to 2011 and welcoming 2012.  Since 2011 was a rather ... um ... difficult ... year at AuntyNin's Place, we can only hope that 2012 will be more cooperative, or at least no worse, than its predecessor. 
Much has been said in the past few months about so-called "prophecies" that predict the end of the world for the new year.  Being something of a student of history, I'm not convinced that the doomsayers are correct; there have been far too many such predictions that didn't prove true for me to wholeheartedly accept this latest one.  Anybody remember Y2K?  That was just the tip of the iceberg; the end of the world was foretold as the year 500 approached, likewise nearing 1000 and 1500.  Interestingly enough, each of those latter three predictions was alleged to be an accurate interpretation of the Book of Revelations.  Hmmm.
On a more positive note, the infamous Mmario, "he who leads me into temptation," has decided  to repeat last year's "Shawlmas" event.  Starting Christmas Day, he has posted at least one new pattern each day.  I've already added at least three of these (there have been 8 thus far) to my "I wanna knit that!" list, and have begun scrounging in the stash for something appropriate for "Duchess of Fenwick."   That will likely be cast on tomorrow, after I finish binding off "Wings of the Moth."  I'm not entirely sure what will be the effect of working on such a lovely pattern under the influence of a day-long Looney Tunes cartoon marathon. *
Since it is the turning of the year, time to reflect on goals set last year and prepare new goals for the coming one.  Tennessee Ernie Ford once sang a song called "Sixteen Tons" which contains the lyric, "You load sixteen tons and what do you get?  Another day older and deeper in debt."  One of my goals this past year was to be more prudent with my spending and not be "deeper in debt" by today.  Mission accomplished, mostly by asking myself "Do I really need this, or just want it?" before making any sizable purchase.  Knitting goals fairly well met, including several shawls, scarves, socks and a tiny sweater for a new person not due to arrive until April.
For next year, my goals are simple - try to eat a little healthier, continue weeding my possessions in preparation for possible downsizing, knit only those patterns that really appeal to me, and (try to) remember to take my vitamins every day. 
May you all have a happy and healthy 2012!

*  I did mention a few days ago that my television-watching is ... eclectic.
4:00 pm est

December 23, 2011

Television, the great wasteland...
Being retired means having lots of leisure time for knitting, so I've been poking around the television channels looking for "background noise" to keep my brain occupied while the fingers play with yarn.  Even with over 150 channels available, there are times when nothing out there appeals to me.  It seems that the gentleman who years ago called television a "vast wasteland" would probably use rather more emphatic (and pejorative) phrases today. 
Let's look at some of the stuff that pretends to be entertainment these days... hours and hours of programming about:
  • People whose bodies are shaped differently from the norm (little people and extremely obese people, to name two categories)
  • Couples who have far more than the statistically-average number of children
  • Obnoxious people behaving badly (the subcategories too numerous to enumerate)
  • Prison inmates and police officers, in a variety of combinations
  • Once-famous people being filmed 24/7 (are they really that desperate for attention?)
  • Odd and/or dangerous occupations
  • The glorification of gluttony
  • Failed political candidates scrambling to keep their names in the public view

This barely skims the scum off the stagnant swamp that calls itself "reality" programming, not even addressing what passes for "drama" on most of the networks, although the "obnoxious people behaving badly" category could include much of that programming.  It also covers only the programs themselves; the commercials that seem to condone, if not encourage, rude and self-absorbed behaviors are a topic for another day's ranting.
More and more, it seems as if television is turning itself into this century's version of the old-fashioned carnival freak show.  What I want to know is, who watches this stuff?  And among them, which of them would be willing to admit to it? 

Now, I freely admit to having television-watching tastes that are rather ... um ... varied (to say the least).  It's not at all unusual to find me watching a billiards match, or old episodes of "Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?"   Other programming that appears regularly in my living room includes a lot of what's on both HGTV and the Food Network, along with selections from History, H2 and the Science Channel, everything from home fixup to particle physics.  
At this time of the year, there's lots of seasonal special programming, much of which I really enjoy.  Ovation, for example, shows several different interpretations of the Nutcracker ballet; since that score is one of my favorites, it's a pleasure to have so many versions to see.  It's possible to overdose on White Christmas or the many retellings of Dickens' A Christmas Carol.  Fortunately for me, I did get to see my favorite of these, a British production starring Alastair Sim as Scrooge.  There's lots of lovely music available as well, both in regular television programming and my cable company's music channels. 
Time for me to retreat to my lair, batten down the hatches and settle in for a peaceful holiday.  May you and yours have a wonderful holiday season, no matter what faith you follow.
5:44 pm est

December 16, 2011

Expect the Unexpected!
What follows was intended to be posted yesterday, December 15th, but because somebody managed to knock out cable and internet service to my entire neighborhood (over 700 customers) with one mischopped tree, well, it's been ... delayed.  Good thing I don't need the television to be able to knit, no?
Decisions, decisions...
The holiday decadence order has arrived, ten whole days before Christmas. This is both a wonderful thing and slightly worrying at the same time.  It includes lots of yummy treats, all of which are simply clamoring for me to sample them.  If past history is any indicator, though, starting to sample today is likely to result in no treats left by Christmas Day.  What to do, what to do?
A yarn order has come in as well, threatening to set off a massive attack of Startitis, which in turn would cause the current UFOs in the house to remain UF.  Some of the new yarns are intended for wee garments to welcome a newborn who isn't due until April, and others are filling in gaps in the stash.  It's the latter that are the most severely tempting at the moment, especially the silvery sparkly fuzzy stuff demanding to become a scarf.  To cast on or not to cast on? 
My buddy Mmario would probably tell me to go for it, as he believes that anything worth doing is worth overdoing.  
The preparations are almost complete; the only thing left to do is pick up a few last items at the grocery store next week.  After that will come large amounts of relaxing, knitting, reading and indulging in the treats in the decadence shipment. 
Some folks might be concerned about my preference for spending the holidays alone; they need to remember that this has been my custom for several years now.   Since I am by nature part hermit crab, alone holds no terrors for me.  To those who prefer the social whirl, I say, "Go for it!"  Just don't come crying to me when you get sick because you've run yourselves into the ground with too much partying. 
Moderation in all things ... including moderation!
6:07 pm est

December 13, 2011

Thoughts on perfection and resolutions

Perfection is inhuman.  This doesn't mean we shouldn't try to be the best we can be, but we must cut ourselves a tiny bit of slack and accept that to be human is to be somewhat less than perfect.  We need to let ourselves roll with the punches that life hands out, and enjoy those parts of life that are pleasing to us, instead of getting all bent out of shape because one tiny detail isn't the way we imagined it would be. 
This drive for perfection is particularly pernicious at this time of year, when so many people buy into the advertisers' indoctrination of the "perfect" holiday gift or the "perfect" gathering.  Instead of relaxing and enjoying the company of their friends and family, these poor saps drive themselves berserk rushing around trying to do sixty hours' tasks in every twenty-four.  Fifty years from now, nobody is going to remember whether all the dishes matched; trust me on this.  What they will remember is how frazzled and cranky you always were during the holiday season - if you let yourself get that way.
One of my favorite authors, Nancy Atherton, referred to it as "burning the Yule log at both ends."  It includes such negative habits as feeling obligated to buy gifts (or in the knitter's case, make gifts) for the immediate world, accepting every party invitation that comes your way, pigging out at every party you attend, and so on.  The big thing to remember is that this situation is avoidable.
Chances are, you're already so deeply into the "gotta make it perfect" mindset this year that you can't quite blast yourself out of it, but ... over the course of the next several months, think seriously about adopting a more relaxed approach for next year.  Ask yourself a few questions, like:
  • Is anybody going to die if I don't do (insert task here)?
  • Will the world come to an end if I skip a few of the parties?
  • Will anyone besides me notice if there are fewer decorations in the house?
  • Will anyone starve if we don't prepare ten times as much food as we really need for dinner?
And so on...
Believe me, I understand only too well the impulse to overdo at the holidays;   It's easy to get caught up in the spirit of excess when everywhere you turn there are sales pitches for this, that and the othere thing, and advertisers imply that you're somehow less than special if you don't buy into the "more is better" idea. 
Let's lay it out clearly here - advertisers don't give a hoot about your serenity or wellbeing.  They want you to spend money you can't afford on gifts the recipients don't really want, so their clients can have bigger profits.  The choice is yours; you can buy into the hype, or you can reject it.
Please understand, I'm not advocating ignoring the holidays entirely (or turning into The Grinch), but just restricting your activities to those you really enjoy.
Normally, I don't go in much for New Year's Resolutions - I've seen far too many of them broken within the first week of the year.  On the other hand, I do like to set goals for myself, in hopes of actually getting close to achieving some of them.
This year, my goals are modest; just difficult enough to take me a little bit out of my comfort zone, but not so ambitious as to set myself up for certain failure.  That's where so many people go wrong, I think ... they try to become "perfect" in one short year.  Ain't gonna happen, folks!  There's a reason that we have a very old saying that goes,
... least of all, me ...
So, what am I going to try to accomplish next year?  Mostly little things, like remembering to take my vitamins daily.  I'd like to be a bit less of a hermit, maybe blog a little more often than once a year, and try to vary the knitting projects, maybe try a pair of gloves.   You see, I regard my life as pretty darn good just the way it is, so radical changes don't  much appeal.
12:07 pm est

December 11, 2011

Goodness Gracious!
What a long time it has been - nearly a year - since I last posted here.  While some of you (if indeed anyone out there actually checks this occasionally) may think I've dropped off the face of the earth, it's not true.  I've just been puttering along, enjoying life, and not spending a whole lot of time sitting in front of the computer.
The year has been mostly good, with a few eruptions of weirdness here and there.  Fortunately, the weirdnesses have all been resolved in a more or less beneficial manner, and can be put behind me. 
One big acquisition for me is a rolling walker; yes, my mobility contines to deteriorate, but at least I'm still able to get around on my own.  The walker is almost the same color as Mairi's outfit for Faire, with lovely little sparklies in the paint to keep Our Dazey entertained.  It's been a huge help with getting around.  Because there's a seat on it, it has become a sort of rolling cart for carrying trash out to the bin, toting laundry around, bringing home groceries, etcetera.  Many thanks to The Demon Godchild for transporting me to and from the shop to get it. 
Knitting proceeds at AuntyNin's, with a massive bout of Startitis lurking in the background, just waiting for an opportunity to strike.  There are a bunch of projects on needles, and I recently learned that  a young couple of my acquaintance will welcome their first child in the spring.  This resulted in a large stack of vintage baby pattern books mysteriously materializing on the table beside the Knitting Throne, and a hank of sock yarn trying to become a baby sweater from one of them.
Two shawls, one of Mmario's patterns and one other, are at the seemingly endless knitted-on edging stage; both of them have been ignored for the past few weeks.  This is going to have to change, as I want to have their needles for other projects in the next few months.  Probably the "Two Row Rule" will have to be invoked on one or both of them sometime soon.
There's almost always a pair of socks on needles, and today is no exception.  This pair is from Dream in Colour's "Smooshy" yarn; it's the first pair I've made from that yarn, and it definitely will not be my last.  The yarn is lovely, and its name is very well chosen. 
Someday my alleged brain may grasp the notion that my fingers do not like working with cotton yarn.  It hasn't caught on yet, which is why there's a sleeve and most of a back languishing in a corner, likely to stay there until my fingers stop twitching at the very thought of picking it up again.  Maybe in time for summer ... maybe not.  Time will tell.
Four years ago (yes, back in 2007), while vacationing in the Berkshires, I picked up some lovely brown Prism laceweight specifically to use for the pattern called "Wings of the Moth."  It finally made it onto needles back in October, and is only a few rows away from completion. 
Mmario's pattern called something like "Omnares Exeant" is growing into a stole, but it too is on the back burner.  There's no real urgency on this one, as the occasion for which it's a gift is not until next summer.  Lots of time!  (can we say, "famous last words..."?)
The next few weeks promise to be lovely and quiet, as I've established a custom of declining invitations from people I don't much like.  I'd rather stay home and knit than waste several hours making nice with uncongenial people.  Close friends are the exception; I'm always happy to spend time with them. 
My sides are aching this evening, as earlier I watched a PBS special on the career of the wonderful Victor Borge.  With his superb music and industrial-grade silliness, he was one of the few performers I'd pay my own money to see in concert. 
Another source of pleasure comes tomorrow, when my favorite version of Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" will be on television.  It's the one starring Alistair Sim as Scrooge, of all the versions I've seen definitely the one I like the best.  I've already managed to see the original Grinch, and doubtless several other "classic" holiday treats will make their way to my screen in the next two weeks.
Wishing all of you the joy of the season, good times with good friends and good food.  Just beware of the over-lubricated maniacs on the roads with you, okay? 
9:22 pm est

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"Everything happens for a reason, except possibly football." -- Terry Pratchett