Things to catch up on…


I was down for the count since the 1st with the lovely gift of the yucks.  I don’t recommend it.

What’s still on the nightstand

  • The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien
  • Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne
  •  The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan

What’s outside



I’m now aware the window needs a good scrub.

What’s going on today


OK.  It’s a cheaty cherry pie from Marie Callender, but I’ve been sick and I want pie.


Bundle up, baby!

oh, baby, it's cold outside!
oh, baby, it’s cold outside!

Greetings from the cold, white north!

Technically it isn’t really white.  We’ve got maybe an inch, but we need significantly more snow or serious rain to refill the water level depleted by the long drought last summer.  But it is cold!  It is 4 degrees and the wind chill is -11.  Boy, howdy.  I don’t wish to step outside today!

I’ve been up to my typical reading practice of making plans and then reading something altogether different.  I’ve got The Hobbit and Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea going.  So, naturally, I picked up and finished Wizard’s First Rule and then started Stone of Tears–both by Terry Goodkind.  Of course it makes no sense to have books that I am reading still sitting there while I wander off to different books.  I’m just not made of much sense.

I’m also knitting and playing with knitting patterns.  I finished one sock from The Weasley Homestead pattern by Erica Lueder–my very first cuff down sock pattern and I had to learn the Kitchener stitch to finish off the toe!  After grading a few papers this morning, I will probably be casting on for the second sock.  The colorwork sock is slow going, but it definitely is keeping me on my toes for paying attention to the pattern.  Not only that, but I am having to juggle two circular needles and four balls of yarn.  It all makes me want to be a faster knitter…

Back to the grindstone…

Today is the day where I officially begin having tons of work again–break is over.  How I wish it could go on forever…

ice on trees
ice on trees

But, that said, it is a perfectly lovely day for hot cocoa!  Yesterday evening began with freezing rain that turned to snow.  Aren’t I lucky to work from home?  No braving that mess for me.


What have I been doing?

my adaptation of the snowflake pattern
my adaptation of the snowflake pattern

I’ve been knitting and altering the knitting pattern I am following. I really like these socks but I like socks that knit from the toe up rather than the cuff down.  So, beyond altering the pattern to be knit toe-up, I tweaked the snowflake pattern slightly from a 22×20 stitch size to a 22×22 stitch which changed the spike in the overlapping diamond between the snowflakes to an even checkerboard.  I really am a stickler for symmetry and things that don’t evenly line up drive me nuts.

all the wibbly mess
all the wibbly mess

I also changed the toe pattern to stripes because the sole of the foot is checkerboard and wrapping that pattern all around the toe is too much for me.  Heaven knows I am a slow knitter, but as my first foray into a colorwork pattern I thought I should tackle something that keeps my brain as occupied as my hands!  And, I also am taking a stab at doing these two socks at the same time on two circular needles.  [Do you have any idea how often I have to unravel the strands?  I swear it might be helpful to use a lazy susan to keep them straight!]

I should be reading.  Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea and The Hobbit do not read themselves!  Unfortunately, I do not have brain capacity or hands enough to both keep track of my knitting and read (or flip pages).  I have been ignoring my reading which is something I wish to conquer.  But likely as not I will get sick of knitting in a bit and go on a reading kick.

Hodge Podge Monday

It’s a Hodge-Podge Monday.

1.  Northanger Abbey.  Still reading…

2.  Dr. Who.  Ok, I feel like I am the only person on the planet who has never seen Dr. Who.  Happily I can now watch it on Amazon Prime!  Did I know what it was?  Yes.  I’m watching Season 5 now (2010) and I’m not quite sure I like this version of the Doctor.  I really adored David Tennant.  Maybe Matt Smith will grow on me?  Please say yes.

3.  Fail Notes.  There comes a time during every class when I have to send notes to students about the mathematical impossibility of them passing my course.  I hate to do it.  Although I want my students to succeed, some feel that it is my fault when they do not pass the course for lack of work, lack of discourse, lack of attendance, or refusal to ask for help.  I sent quite a depressing number of these out this morning.

4.  Garden of the Damned.  This summer has been exceedingly difficult.  Even with watering, my plants didn’t really start to flower until the rains began at the end of July.  It was depressing.

Now, my tomato plants can hardly stand up for the weight of the fruit.  The fruit on my Cherokee Purples (not pictured) have started turning red but they are also suffering from wilt…so that will be a race to see if I get tomatoes before the plant dies.  However for these two varieties, I think they will turn red soon.  Yay, tomatoes!

My three squash plants exploded and then started blooming during the last week of August.  I think I am going to trim them back to concentrate on a few squash.  It is likely that I will have to put these under a makeshift greenhouse if I want the pumpkins.  We usually get our first freeze in late September or early October; however, this year has been very odd and so I don’t know if that will hold true.

My first sunflower opened on September 2.  Only two of my plants sprouted from seed.  I thought these were supposed to be taller, but they are about 4′ right now.  They are very lovely and have several blooms on one stalk–this is the first bud to bloom.

I don’t know what will come of the weather this year.  August has been miserable and humid–I have to keep on the air in the house because it is so continuously damp outside.  Normally, I stop mowing the yard in mid-July due to the blazing heat and then return to mow two or three times between September and October to mulch out the leaves.  This year I stopped mowing in May but have been mowing twice a week in August just to keep the grass at a level that doesn’t clog the mower; there aren’t too many hours in the day where the yard is relatively dry (from the humidity and night condensation).  Even the county mowing crews are having issues with their giant industrial mowers because of the thick wet grass!

So, what that means for the garden?  Your guess is as good as mine.

5.  Writing.  I have been re-outlining my plot and squiddling around on Scrivener.  Everything is so easy in this program:  all I have to do is slide a notecard to a different spot on the pinboard.  No fuss.

6.  LYS.  My local yarn store is closing on the 15th.  I got a Zauberball hank last week, but I think I’ll go grab a few more DPNs for socks before the end.  It was nice to have a reliable place to go talk to someone who knew what they were doing and could help you when you found yourself confused by a pattern.  I will miss them.

Well, I must dash.  Linus, my eclectus, is smooching at me to uncover his cage.

Austen in August begins today!

Well, as you all know, my blogging in July crashed and burned.  I took time away from the internet to spend those hot days doing absolutely as little as possible.  I’ll call it my brain-vacation.  Part of my blogging apathy happened because I wasn’t writing (not by choice) and part of it was from this nasty summer weather.  It was dead dry here…lawns burned and trees losing leaves (seriously, it looked like fall in the yards of several houses–but without the pretty colors)…and then we finally got five inches of rain within the span of three days.  Although lawns are beginning to grow again, I don’t think it will help the gardens or crops much.  My tomato plants are huge, but I’ve only got one tiny green tomato growing on a single plant, my peppers have produced all of three (and the plants are dinky).  And my non-existant morning glories have just started vining.  I’m guessing I’ll have a very late garden…let’s hope we’ll get an Indian Summer through October.

Did I at least read?  Ummm…not really.  I made it through two books:  Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness and Redshirts by John Scalzi.  Loved them both, but they didn’t get me anywhere near Stendhal’s The Red and the Black or Samuel Richardson’s Clarissa.

However, today marks the beginning of Austen in August hosted at Roof Beam Reader.  And I decided to read Pride and Prejudice and Northanger Abbey.  However, I was given the advice to read Ann Radcliffe’s The Mysteries of Udolpho before I tackle NA.  So, these are the books on my table for August…(and, they are all on my classics list!)

Won’t you join me?

Dry Am I: Pictures From the Ground

Instead of taking full-on pictures of the dead-dust flammable lawn, I thought I’d take a moment to look at the smaller picture. We’re currently under a burn ban beginning today and we’ll probably be under a lawn sprinkler ban before July if the drought doesn’t break.




Do not walk on dry grass in bare feet:  it’s like stepping on toothpicks.  😦

A breath of fresh air…

Though the storm made grumbly noises yesterday evening it didn’t manage to spit out rain.  The hot, dry weather sucked all the moisture from the storm as it rolled across Illinois–we ended up with loud clouds.  It didn’t bring any liquid relief.  My whole yard is brown–August hot-as-hell brown–and I doubt it will get better this summer.

We are down 4″ of precipitation from normal.

The false storm did break the heatwave and the weather today is spectacular.  I think I am going to go outside and spread a blanket in the yard and read.  That is something I haven’t done for ages…

Note:  I am working to finish both Persuasion and Why Read? this week.

Trouble so early…

Usually I have no problem writing for Nanowrimo, but that does not seem to be the case for my experience for Camp Nanowrimo.  I am stymied by the weather and allergies and the desire to do everything else!

I couldn’t manage my 1700 words yesterday; I ended up about 400 short.  It was all about the apathy yesterday–bad, bad me!

The stat marker had 6666 words listed as the benchmark for Day 4.  Instead of doing my usual slog at the computer, I went outside with a notebook and pen to write by hand.  It did wonders for my mind and brought new life to the story.  I didn’t feel as pent up as I do sitting in an office watching the birds and flowers from the window…  I managed 2151 words today and have crossed the writing threshold at 6737.

Maybe if I try speed writing first thing in the morning I won’t feel so confined and pressured by the nice weather…



Gack!  It is like breathing swamp water.  At 6 am it was 70 degrees which makes for a not so pleasant sleeping experience.  Icky sticky!

The temperature by itself is pleasant–but that clingy wet film is not.  At least it is breezy which hopefully means I can start to mow before the temps begin climbing…

Please let this not be a sign of an ugly, muggy summer!