Monday, November 18, 2019

Several Months Later...

Last autumn, a friend/neighbour returned from a trip bringing me a bunch of goodies she'd picked up at a thrift store. Included in this haul were 6 balls of yarn made of silk and cashmere. It is so soft and squishy! I had 4 balls of a grey-blue, one in cream, and a brown. Ideas went around and around in my head as I considered what to make. Did I want to use it all in one project or use the grey-blue separately? I started and ripped out a few times. Finally, in late spring, I decided to use the cream and brown together in this neutral colourblock cowl/neckwarmer.
I started with the brown and made a rectangle that was half as wide as I wanted the neckwarmer to be. I did Tunisian crochet, alternating knit and reverse stitches, until I was almost out of yarn. Then I turned that rectangle sideways, and with the cream, picked up stitches along the edge and did the same stitch until I had the width I wanted. I slip stitched the working end of the cream rectangle to the other side of the brown rectangle and then crocheted around the top and bottom edges.

I loved it from the start, but given the time of year, it was too warm to wear then, so I left it out and looked at it for a few days, before putting it away to await a better time of year. That happy time has arrived and it's cool enough for me to wear it today. Yay!

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Wednesday Words of Wisdom

I got this quote in a Pace e Bene quote-of-the-day email the other day.

"When anyone steps out of the system and tells the truth, lives the truth, that person enables everyone else to peer behind the curtain too. That person has shown everyone that it is possible to live within the truth . . . ‘Living within the lie can constitute the system only if it is universal.’ Anyone who steps out of line therefore ‘denies it in principle and threatens it in its entirety.’"
—Vaclav Havel

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Four Out, Four In

We went to Donegal Town today to drop off and pick up books at the library. It was a relief to get off the bus and into the fresh air! The driver had the heat on full blast--he was sitting there in his short shirtsleeves. Everyone else had on hats and coats or jackets, because it was alternately lashing down rain, drizzling, or just grey with a cool breeze.

On our arrival in Donegal Town, our first stop was the Animals in Need charity shop, where we dropped off four books and a few other small things. There was a couple that arrived at the same time we did. They were carrying a large bin bag each full of clothes. They placed it in front of the counter with the many other bags. It looks like they have a whole lot of donations coming into the shop, which is great. After we handed over our donations, we went over to the bookshelves. I picked up a vegetarian cookbook, which may or may not be useful, but even if it doesn't spark any good ideas, by buying it, I cleared off a bit of space and made a donation to critter care, so what's not to love? Then I saw this book:
I love, love, love the cover! I'd seen it before, but on my computer screen. It's new to the e-audiobook section of the library website and the picture of the cover there induced me to click on it to see what it's about. It sounds quite good--a 30-year-old woman is having addiction issues and goes back to Orkney, where nature helps to heal her in various ways. It's a memoir. It also sounds vaguely familiar. I don't think I read the book, but I'm wondering if I read an excerpt of it at one time or whether it just sounds similar to something else. I did not borrow the audiobook, because I have a lot of stuff to listen to at the moment, but I thought I'd go ahead and get it a couple of months from now. When I saw the book in the charity shop, I did not hesitate. I had to pull it out from the middle of a rather precarious pile on the floor and then rearrange the pile, because it was about to fall down. This is the second time that I have been in that particular charity shop and found a book that I was planning to borrow in e-audiobook format.

Bill also found a couple of books, so in spite of the fact that we are attempting to take a library break for a while so we can make a dent in our own book piles, we ended up coming home with 4 books to replace the 4 we'd donated, so we're even. Oh well. The book piles might not be any smaller, but it's not any bigger, either. At least until we next visit a charity shop.😉😁

Friday, November 8, 2019

Goodbye Facebook! Yay!

A little while ago, I deleted my Facebook account. I know that it will take 30 days for it to be truly gone, but I'm done and I'm so, so glad.

The last straw for me came earlier this week, when I read two articles about various shenanigans undertaken by the odious Mark Zuckerberg and all of the unethical practices of the company. Nothing in it was particularly new and it's not like I didn't know it before. But something about that particular moment caused my mind to come into sharp focus and I thought, 'It's time to go.' I'd been growing increasingly uneasy about being on the site, knowing that I was monetised and that my presence was supporting the unethical business practices and greed of those at the top and causing harm in everyday people's lives all around the world. I'd considered leaving before, but for various reasons, I didn't do so. But this time, I was thinking about the fact that while it is true that we live in an imperfect world and often have to make imperfect choices, it's all the more important to make choices that align perfectly with our own ethical standards when we can. This is one such situation for me (it's also one reason why I do not even have an Amazon account). I know that google also has issues, but given that I need an email address to function in daily life, for example, I can't just dump that. Facebook was an easy one to get rid of. Once I made the decision to leave, I felt happy and relieved. I'd been finding it a hassle for a long time now and not just because of the ethical shortcomings of the company.and its founder.

It used to be OK for various things. I could keep in touch with people who were far away, if they were on the site, although still today almost all of the people I keep in contact with on more than a superficial level are not even on Facebook. I joined a few groups, liked art and cute animal pages, and used it to collect news in one place. I would click on the 'most recent' setting so I could see posts that way. It always reverted back to 'top stories' because that was better for their bottom line, but I always clicked it back. I never used the site as they hope people will. I did not click on ads, I did not send out friend requests or even accept them from most people. I did not last long in groups, because I never found anything in them worth interacting with and they were only cluttering up my page. I left all of them. I never used chat and kept it turned off. I rarely used Messenger.

Then they decided they were going to focus on groups and started trying to push me into them. Then the 'most recent' setting stopped working. It was still there, but I would click on it and see a post from 2 minutes ago next to a post from 3 days earlier. I sent a message about this a couple of times and each time, it worked for a while, but then stopped working. I'd end up seeing a lot of sponsored content or suggested pages and not see posts from pages I wanted to see. I'd see that so-and-so made a comment on some post that had nothing to do with me. And the memes and the virtue-signalling post sharing started to grate on my nerves. Some memes were funny the first time I saw them, but honestly, after the gazillionth share of the same meme, I was no longer laughing! Recently, I was scrolling through my timeline and two or three people had shared the same meme from different pages, so it was just there three times in a row.

So there I was scrolling through repetitive memes posted days before with the occasional old news story thrown in just to break things up. Not much point trying to follow news if it's days old so I stopped using the page for news and went to websites instead. I started subscribing to art blogs via email and seeing them that way instead of on my FB feed. Cute animal videos abound on youtube. In short, I simply spent less time on the site.

At the same time, I was thinking about how with Facebook, 'relationships' that would otherwise run their natural course and end, could sort of drag on long past their benefit to either person. There were some people on my page that I was either friends with at one time when I lived in the US, that I used to work with, or that I was acquainted with and maybe only saw once or twice in person. I still enjoyed seeing the pictures and other things some of these people would post, but for others, it wasn't that way. It's not that I thought these were bad people or that I actively disliked them, but rather that whatever interests we had in common when we met were no longer at the forefront of our lives. We'd grown in different directions, as people do. Not all relationships are meant to last a long time. But with Facebook, there we were. I unfollowed people. I snoozed people. But I always felt hypocritical, because if I don't want to see what someone is posting, then why continue the pretence of being 'friends.' I would not want to see them in real life or meet for coffee or anything like that, so why pretend online? By the time I saw the articles that made me decide to leave, I was thinking about how I could broach the subject of unfriending with these people. I felt awkward about it, because I know people have a tendency to take things personally, but part of me thought that maybe they would be relieved to get rid of me, too. When I removed people from my page because of their racist. misogynist, or homophobic views/posts, it was not a problem and I was perfectly comfortable telling them why we were not compatible. I didn't care what they thought about it. But this is different. These are perfectly nice people and I wish them well. I just didn't want to hang around with them anymore, even online, but I didn't want to hurt their feelings, either.

So all of that left me avoiding the page for days at a time. I would not go there and I would ignore notifications. I found that I enjoyed not being on the site. I had more free time. When I would force myself back on to respond to a message or something, I would scroll through my timeline and think, 'Well that was a waste of time.' Maybe that's why reading those articles earlier this week served as a catalyst. I was ready anyway and when I was reminded of the harm the company is doing all around the world I asked myself, 'Why are you supporting this by your presence when not only do you dislike being there, but you have been actively trying to avoid it? Delete, already!' So I did.

I told people I was going to leave and left things for a few days, because I wasn't sure whether the posts would be visible once I went through the steps to delete. I know it won't be truly deleted for 30 days, but I wasn't sure if things stayed up during that time. I wanted to say good-bye to a few people who I won't be in contact with anymore and I exchanged email addresses with some others so we could stay in touch in a different way. I was a bit surprised at the number of people who told me that they also actively dislike Facebook and are uncomfortable still using the site, but they have reasons for staying on. Some people love social media in general and Facebook in particular. That's cool and I hope they all continue to be happy. I'm not a very social person in real life and apparently that is also the case online. I don't have (or want) a smartphone, so anything I do online is on a computer. Facebook was my only social media account and now that's gone. I briefly tried Twitter years ago, but it was just a spamfest. I was on Pinterest for about 5 minutes when I realised that it would only be a waste of my time, so I got off of that as fast as I could. I don't even get on with Ravelry, which is a social media for yarn people. Nope, not for me. I have the radio, my podcasts, books and art/craft supplies. And now I have more time to enjoy them. Yay!

Thursday, November 7, 2019

That Letter Again

The postman just came, leaving our annual letter stating that there is no TV Licence on file for our premises. The fee for this is 160 euro per year and it funds the public broadcaster (TV and radio). Many people do not pay this and many people watch TV on a device other than a TV, so the public broadcaster is in financial difficulty. Most rentals here come fully furnished, right down to kitchenware and teaspoons, so we only have a TV if it's part of the furnishings. In spite of the fact that we wouldn't own the TV, it's the responsibility of the occupier to buy the licence (this is how it's spelled here). A couple of places we've lived in haven't had a TV, so we wouldn't have to pay the fee in that case. This place had one, but we asked for it to be removed before we moved in--not because of the fee, but because it's a small place and we're not TV people (we do listen to the radio a lot), so it was taking up space that we could use for something else. The thing is, whether we have a TV or not, at a certain age, people get a free licence and Bill qualifies--our licence is upstairs, so we're covered, whether we have a TV or not. The licence moves with the person and is not tied to the dwelling. They do send inspectors around sometimes to ask to see the licence and people can be fined up to 1000 euro if they have a TV but no licence. We've never had a person call to the door, but every year we get the letter. Every year, I email the address they provide to tell them we either don't have a TV, have the licence, or both. They've always been really friendly and prompt in their replies. They check, find out that I'm telling the truth and thank me for letting them know. I am not sure why it doesn't come up before they send out the letter, but it could be because they have the address formatted in a weird way on the letter, which is different than how it appears on the licence--all the parts are there, but in strange places. In any case, I've sent off the email, so that should be done for another year. 😊

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Library Story: Sheep and a Serpent

When we were in Letterkenny yesterday, we called in at the library. As soon as we walked in the door, we spotted the library cart with some books for sale. These had been pulled from the library system. I was looking at one side and Bill was looking at the other. When he got to the last book, he called it to my attention, because it had a sheep on the cover. I looked at it, laughed and said, 'I can't possibly leave this here.' Turns out it's a mystery in which the sheep are the detectives and the smartest sheep is Miss Maple. This Jane Marple fan was intrigued.
When I looked inside the book, I saw that it was translated by Anthea Bell, but it didn't say what language the book was originally written in. When I got home, I did a search and discovered it was German. I'm looking forward to reading this one.

Moving on into the library, I went to the art/craft section to look for the tapestry weaving book I'd seen on the website. I found it and a felt one that I did not know about. As I was walking by the fiction, I saw Sarah Perry and remembered her latest book. I'd started listening to the audiobook but didn't care for the reader, so decided to read the book at some point instead. I;d read her previous book and really liked it. Now, in my defence, I had to get up a few hours earlier than I usually do and that always throws me off, so my mind was not functioning as well as it should have. I grabbed the book and put it on the pile. I paid for the mystery and checked out the others. It is always roasting in the library, so when we got outside, we busied ourselves with removing jackets and stuffing things into backpacks. We walked to a bench, where we sat and had our sandwiches. As I was chewing, it dawned on me that the Sarah Perry book I picked up (The Essex Serpent) might not be the one I wanted. I pulled it out of my backpack, turned it over and immediately saw that it was one I'd already read. I could not remember name of the book I actually thought I was borrowing. Bill suggested that we go back to the library so I could return the one I had and not have to carry it home. After finishing our lunch and going to see a photography exhibit, we did that. I walked in, gave the book to the guy behind the desk and rather sheepishly said, 'I accidentally took the wrong book. I already read this one.' He laughed and said, 'No bother. I'll check it back in for you.' And so he did. Later, I remembered that the book I wanted is Melmouth. I'll get it eventually.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019


Yesterday, we went to our local grocery store. Along the way, I was admiring the bright autumn colours.
Then we stepped into the grocery store and were immediately presented with shelves of Christmas candy, including these:
They're chocolate and white chocolate 'mini-pints' with a beer-flavoured creamy centre. Um, no thanks.

Today we spent the day in Letterkenny to see a photography exhibition. Things are really autumnas-y there!
The Christmas lights are strung across Main Street.
This hotel wasn't sure what to focus on, so covered their bases by having an autumnal display in the bottom window and a Christmas tree on the two floors above that.
When we got back to the bus station to catch the bus home, we saw that they're getting ready at the shopping centre, too.
They're putting the lights up on the roof--Merry Christmas from Letterkenny Shopping Centre. And you can just see a decoration hanging off the side of the lamp post on the right.

Might as well get it all up while they have the weather for it!

I know a lot of people don't like 'Christmas creep,' but I do. We don't do Christmas in the usual way anyway, and it's always been a season for me, not a day, so I'm already listening to certain kinds of Christmas music and enjoying the last quarter of the year--my happy time.
Happy Autumnas!