Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Finishing Up Some Odds and Ends

Tomorrow is our last day in Moville, so we're tidying up the loose ends. Today someone from the letting agent's office stopped by to look around. Bill is off to recycle bottles and tins. I am creating meals from the odds and ends left in freezer, fridge, and cupboards. Everything but what we'll need up until the last minute is packed. Laundry is hanging to dry--it's quick in this heat. This afternoon, I managed to finish the book I was reading so it can go into a charity shop box and it's one less thing to carry. I also finished a pair of socks for Bill that I'd been working on off and on for months.
Nice autumn colours, which allowed me to daydream about cooler weather and far less sun. I'll be casting on for a pair for me later in the week, when I am reunited with my yarn. I am going to do a slouchy cuff, I think, but not sure yet about what sort of design, if any, I'll use for the instep.

I cast on 68 stitches with US size 1 needles and did a 2x2 rib until the cuff was as long as I wanted. I switched to US size 0 needles, starting at the heel flap and for the rest of the sock. On the gusset decreases, I stopped when I had 72 stitches. My preferred method for sock making is to use 3 double pointed needles with a 4th working needle, so in this case, I had 19 stitches on needles 1 and 3 and 34 stitches for the instep on needle two. I continued with the 2x2 rib for the instep until it was time for the toe decreases, when I knitted around to the end, doing the star toe.

Tonight I plan to crochet and listen to podcasts, then read the novel I have on the go--hopefully I can finish that, too, and leave it in Moville. I will be by a window, hoping for a breeze. I hope you have some relaxing and peaceful moments in your day, too--and a nice breeze. 😊


Friday, May 25, 2018

Flowers Loving the Sun

It is hot here--hot and sunny. I'm not keen on that sort of thing, but the beautiful flowers blooming in Killybegs yesterday clearly are!

We made a quick trip there yesterday and returned to Moville today. On the way there, we had time in Letterkenny, so Bill stayed with our bags while I went to a nearby grocery store to pick up some cheese, crackers, and hummus for lunch. I passed this anti-cafe.
I am not sure in what ways this cafe is anti, but there it is--hopefully people use it.

After I got back, it was Bill's turn for a wander, so I stayed with the bags. The bus pulled up an hour earlier than I expected it and I wondered whether they'd changed the timetable, so when the driver got out, I walked over and asked him if the bus to Killybegs still leaves at 11. 'Aye, it does,' he said. Then he glanced over and saw my bags. 'Want to put the bags in the boot?' he asked. I said that would be great and started bringing them over. He placed them in the boot and went off for his break.
We took the same bus driven by the same guy back to Letterkenny this morning. There were two women talking to one another--one in front of us and one across the aisle from her. But grew up in England, but had parents born in Ireland and they live here now. They chatted about things and foods they missed and stuff like that. I was finding their conversation and ways of speaking quite interesting--they were not speaking quietly. At one point, I had the opportunity to ponder the arrogance and rudeness of people who think that being on a small bus mostly full of Irish people is a good time to discuss, rather loudly, everything you find annoying about Irish people!

I hope that this is a good day in your neck of the woods!

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Back to the Future

I've not posted here in a while--things suddenly got a bit busy and we find ourselves in a transition phase once again. While we don't have an official date yet, we are hoping that we will be back in Killybegs by the end of next week and if not then, soon after. We've already started bringing stuff there. I've met some wonderful people in Moville and I can look around and know, in a rational, objective way, that it's a beautiful place. But it's not my place.

When we came here the first time to visit, we arrived midday on a Monday. I didn't make it through breakfast on Tuesday before becoming quite ill and going back to bed with symptoms I recognised, having experienced them in a few places in the US.  I had no idea this would become a regular thing once we moved here. I quickly learned, though, that spending much time outside would put me down for the rest of the day and often into the next one, so I stayed in more and more. But at the time, we were in the moldy apartment, so I was still sick a lot. We both hoped that moving house, as we did last year, would help. And it did--as long as I stayed inside. This house is great and I have not been sick as I was in that apartment. I'd started keeping track of what was wrong with me and when, and in the past year, when I have read that journal, I have been amazed at how often I was in pain, not able to function, be comfortable, or sleep longer than an hour and a half at a time. When I was able, I'd try to get done as much as I could in spite of feeling like crap. I've been grateful since to have a place where I can be comfortable and do things that I enjoy, like stitch and read, even though I still have some nerve damage. But I discovered that I still could not spend any length of time outside. So I kept on going out for a little while here and there to do errands like go to the library or the shop for food, but even there, Bill started doing a lot of it. The few times we went elsewhere--to Sligo or Ballybofey last fall, for example--I was fine and it was so nice to be outside walking around for hours at a time.

Bill started talking about leaving Moville, because of the health issues and a few other things. I resisted for a time after we moved into this house, because I am so tired of moving and really felt like I could not muster up the energy to do it again. Eventually, I changed my mind. Throughout my life, I've been fine with periods of hibernation, but this has gotten to be too much. I miss walking. I miss looking at trees and flowers and watching my little spot on the planet change with the seasons. I miss feeling like I am right where I need to be. I miss living with a sense of ease. I miss being healthy. I had no idea how much I would miss those things until they were gone. I cannot have them here, so I am going somewhere where I can get them back. I am grateful to be able to do this.

I can say that I have learned a lot in the couple of years we've been here. I've also been reminded how easy it is to take things for granted.

What are you grateful for today? 💜

Friday, May 11, 2018

Swing Set and Other Stuff

A couple of doors down from us, on the corner where the road and the lane meet, is a creche. They have a small play area in back, but it's not big enough for any playground equipment. Across the lane on the opposite corner is the Moville Men's Shed. They have a grassy area out back. I'm not sure whether it's for the creche or not, but they've been working on creating a playground. I really like the way they made the swing set and see saw out of logs and used wee pallets and stumps for table and chairs.

I'm sure the kinds that use it will enjoy it.

I'd not heard of men's sheds until we got to Ireland and the woman at the B&B told us about them. Men--especially older men--were having trouble connecting, apparently, so someone came up with the idea to create these places where they could form a group and work on projects. The projects depend on what is needed in the communities. Some build boats. In Killybegs, they made the planters in town, I think, and made some wooden Christmas trees that were art of a tree festival first and then went on to decorate a playground in town, among other things. In Twin Towns, they are very involved with the community garden. They often have art and other classes available to members of the men's shed as well as the wider community. It seems like a really great idea and has been wildly successful around the country.

We had a nice reprieve from the warmth and sun today with drizzle and rain instead. When we went out to the library, the wind slammed into us and it was actually a tad chilly. My smile was enormous 😀

I hope it's a beautiful day in your neck of the woods, too.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Scrappy Shapes

I was playing with scraps again last night. I've been taking small lengths of leftovers, too small for anything else (even a one-round hexagon), and making Romanian cord. I just make them as long as I came with the yarn that I have, so they're all different lengths. I had some in a bag and have been getting ideas about various ways to use these cords. I finished off a couple this morning and am well pleased.
The beads in this one were strung on a piece of cord as a bracelet. Bill picked it up for me in a charity shop a while back. I think I'll use this as an autumn decoration--since the beads are translucent, it'll look nice in a window. When I was playing with it last night, I had the small circle on top and the bottom reminded me of a pumpkin. I considered taking the smaller circle off, but this morning I thought of the beads and decided to try those.

This is where I left things last night.
For the blue one, I added a pendant that used to be an earring. It's sterling silver with turquoise inlay and it was tarnished from sitting in the embellishment container for a long time, but I dabbed some toothpaste on it and brushed with an old toothbrush and that took care of it.
I'm not sure whether I will add anything to this one--I really like it the way it is. But if an idea pops into my head, I might do something else with it.

I am quite taken with this Romanian cord stuff. The structure of it lends itself well to having other kinds of stitching attached to it--it is often used as a base for needle laces of various kinds. But it also has some substance and it can be manipulated and hold its shape while still being flexible. It would also work as a border around other forms of stitchery. I'll be playing around some more with these cords!

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Wow, Is That Normal?

The other day, someone asked me if I was still 'knitting and stuff.'  'Of course,' I replied, before going on to say that I'd recently finished knitting the first sock of a pair downstairs and had another knitting project upstairs. I also have a couple of tatting projects on the go, some cross-stitch, a bit of hand sewing, a couple of scrappy crochet projects, and am working through some needle felting ideas. As I was going through the list, his eyes widened a bit and when I was done, he said, 'Wow, is that normal?' I laughed and said that it is for me. I always have various projects going in order to avoid doing the same repetitive motions all the time. Also, I would feel lost without my textiles--and I definitely would not be fit for company! It's especially important at this time of year, though, which is a big struggle for me physically and mentally, to have projects going that I can pick up and work on no matter how I am feeling. Being tired, feeling crappy to one degree or another, and taking one step at a time through the day is common, so it's important to have mindless things nearby to work on--better than just sitting there waiting for the worst of the discomfort to pass. Sometimes even that is too much, but if I can make a few stitches, I always feel at least a little bit better.

At the moment, this is making me happy.
My love of scraps is no secret and I've been doing some other things with a few bits lately. A couple of days ago, I decided to gather up my wee scrap balls and start making some granny hexagons. The multi-coloured (pink/blue/purple in the centre of the photo) one in the bottom photo is the centre and I am joining as I go. I was enjoying myself, so I collected a few more scrap balls and made some more. Yesterday I gathered most of the rest, filled a bag with them, and have been happily crocheting these one-round granny hexagons, working around from the centre out, like a grandmother's garden quilt block. I do a round and then weave in ends before starting the next round. I'm calling it Hexagranny's Garden (a nod to the quilt block and the crocheted granny square) and while I have no idea what it will end up being yet, it makes me smile, so I'll keep adding hexies until the smile is gone and I'll see what I have at that point. Bill suggested it would look nice hung on the door, which it would! It could also be a wall hanging, a table mat, a rug, or, depending on how big it gets, a blanket.

I hope that your days are filled with little things that make you smile, too!

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Flowering Walls

We had some rain the other day and now a few sunny, warm days are expected. After that there will probably be an acceleration of the greening/flowering that is already underway. I love these tiny pale purple flowers blooming on the stone wall.
Since we've been in Ireland, I've enjoyed looking at stone walls and all the things that grow on them.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

A Few More Books from April

We had leftovers for supper tonight, so I had more time today to spend with my nose stuck in a book. 😊 I'm always happy when that happens!
Here's the end of my April book list:

The Asshole Survival Guide by Robert I. Sutton
I blogged about this book here.

Three Things About Elsie by Joanna Cannon
This is the author’s second novel, but the first one I’ve read. I requested it after reading about it in an Off the Shelf email and loved it--her first novel, The Trouble with Goats and Sheep, is now in transit. This book begins with Florence, an 84-year-old woman who lives in a flat in an assisted living situation. She has taken a fall in her flat and cannot get up. As she waits for someone to find her, she thinks about the recent events that brought her to that moment and in thinking about those, a mystery unfolds--one that stretches back to childhood--and is triggered when someone who drowned in 1953 suddenly shows up to take a flat in the facility. The book alternates between narration by Florence, Miss Ambrose, a woman who works at the facility, and Handy Simon, the handyman. The Elsie of the title is Florence’s friend since childhood and we are told they are inseparable. Florence says there are three things people should know about Elsie. One is that she is Florence’s best friend. Two is that she always knows what to say to make Florence feel better. The third thing is left until the end to reveal. Florence is an unreliable narrator and the reader is never sure how her mind is working--does she have dementia? How much of what she remembers is real? I was gripped by the story and the writing of the author. There were a few times I stopped to admire a sentence or paragraph. Here, for example, Florence is describing time spent with Elsie in her flat.

‘We measured out our afternoon with pots of tea, but the rinse of a September light seemed to push at the hours, spreading the day to its very edges. I always thought September was an odd month. All you were really doing was waiting for the cold weather to arrive, the back end, and we seemed to waste most of our time just staring at the sky, waiting to be reassured that it was happening. The stretch of summer had long since disappeared, but we hadn’t quite reached the frost yet, the skate of icy pavements and the prickly breath of a winter’s morning. Instead, we were paused in a pavement-grey life with porridge skies. Around four o’clock, one of us would say the nights were drawing in, and we would nod and agree with each other. between us, we would work outhow many days it was until Christmas, and we would say how quickly the time passes, and saying how quickly the time passes would help to pass the time a little more.’ (p 17)

Her description of September and waiting for the cold to arrive could have been written about me, although when we lived in Alaska, it was August. I highly recommend this book and I’m looking forward to reading her first novel when it arrives.

Village Diary by Miss Read
This is the second book in the Fairacre series. The reader is told at the start that Miss Read, headmistress of the local school, has been given a large diary by a friend and intends to record her thoughts ‘as long as my ardor lasts. Further than that I will not go.’ Apparently her ardor lasted all year, because this fictional chronicle of life in Fairacre, a small English village populated with quirky characters, runs from January through December.

Storm in the Village by Miss Read
This is the third in the author’s Fairacre series and the final one in the omnibus edition I found at a local charity shop. I found my enjoyment of these increasing a bit with each one, so this was the best of the three. The first one was almost all about the school, which, not being much of a kid person, I found a bit tedious at times and I almost set it aside. If it had been any longer, I might have done so. The second was better because it encompassed more village life, although I was not pleased with her shrugging off domestic violence as a ‘private matter.’ I well understand that, at the time this book was written, that is how it was perceived, so I kept that in mind. This one had very little to do with the school and there was a controversy about whether or not a new development would be built between the two main villages, which seemed very current. This one also built a little more on a theme that was touched upon in the second book--that of the changing culture in rural England after WWII. She highlighted tension between townies and country folk as well and, even though we are now 60 years on from when this book was written, is still quite current. I will be putting this in the wee free library or donating it back to a charity shop, so perhaps it will be a happy surprise for someone in future.

I hope you have some entertaining and/or informative reading to look forward to in May!

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Books and Blueberries

We're having a break from the sun today, for which I am ever so grateful. When we went out this morning to do some errands, it was chilly and quite windy--very brisk. This will not last long and we'll be back to too much sun and too much warmth, so I am enjoying this reprieve while it lasts.

I made a batch of orange blueberry muffins this afternoon. They're really tasty and very healthy and they'll be nice to have around as I bury my nose in books while avoiding the sun in the days ahead.
Here is the middle part of April's book list

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
Vida Winter is a successful novelist and story writer. One of her books was mistakenly published as Thirteen Tales of Change and Desperation, but there were only twelve tales in the book. Many people have tried to find out about Vida and to write her biography, but she has been uncooperative. Now she is terminally ill and wants to tell her story. She writes to Margaret Lea, who, with her father, runs an antiquarian bookshop and who has written a monograph about a set of twins. Twins figure heavily in this book, which is characterized as a Gothic suspense novel. It has been made into a film, apparently, which first aired on BBC. It was a good book and I liked it well enough in spite of the sometimes convoluted plot. It felt like it could have been slightly shorter and I felt a bit exasperated when pages were devoted to a extended excerpts from the former nanny’s diary near the end. I found this book at charity shop somewhere and it will go into the wee free library now that I have read it.

Women and Power: A Manifesto by Mary Beard
Mary Beard is a classicist who, in this slim volume, discusses how misogyny and the cultural disempowerment of women can be traced in part to Greek and Roman cultures. These were lectures that were adapted into written form. What I especially liked about this is the ways in which she goes beyond the superficial and shows how misogyny is deeply cultural, has a history, and is, in many ways, operating below the radar. The problems women face are not going to be easily solved and if there is any hope to do so, we must understand where this stuff comes from and to do that, we have to go beyond the superficial.

The Textile Reader edited by Jessica Hemmings
This is a wonderful collection of writings about textiles and covers many different genres and topics. The easiest way to describe it is to quote from the introduction.
‘It is fair to say that this Textile Reader is as concerned with how we write about textiles as it is interested in what we write about textiles. Contributors range from artists and designers to fiction authors and historians. The familiar essay form sits beside interviews, lists, short stories (some a paragraph in length), artist’s statements, and blogs. The content contained within these genres is eclectic with the intention that familiar thinking is placed alongside more contentious approaches.’ I was more interested in some pieces in the book than others, of course, but overall I found it to be well put together and full of interesting writing. I enjoyed it a lot.

Village School by Miss Read
This is the first book in the author’s Fairacre series, first published in 1955. The series ran until the 1990s, I believe. Miss Read had been recommended to me a few years ago by a couple of people, so I looked her up in the library. At the time, this was the Ballinrobe library and they had a few of her Thrush Green books, so I requested them and liked them. Last year, I discovered more Thrush Green in the e-audiobook section of the library, so I listened to those. A while before that, I’d come across a 3-novel volume of the Fairacre series in a charity shop, so snapped it up. The narrator is mostly Miss Read, the headmistress and teacher at the school in Fairacre, a small English village. This book was structured by the school terms, beginning in autumn with the Christmas term and ending at the start of the following summer. I found this book a bit tedious at times, since it was heavily focused on the school. I almost stopped reading, but carried on because I’d enjoyed her other books, offering as they do a quiet excursion through a small village and the quirky characters that reside there. I’m hoping that the next two books in this omnibus edition are better and have less to do with the school and the children and are more wide-ranging.