Saturday, October 23, 2021

My Brain on Books XXX




I am reading for The Office of Letters and Lights the folks who bring us NaNoWriMo today as I love what they are doing for literacy with their Young Writer's Programs and because I've participated in NaNo every year since 2004.  I have been blessed to have it in my life and would like to give something back if only kudos and link love.  I'm putting this plug at the top in hopes some who stop by will check out their site and see all the great things they do to foster love of reading and writing and story in kids. 

This post will be organized like a blog inside a blog with recent updates stacked atop previous ones. I may be posting some updates on Twitter @Joystory and the Joystory fb fanpage. But this is where I do anything more than a line or two.  Including mini-challenges that don't require a separate post..   

Be sure and see my tribute poem to Dewey and the Thon she birthed at the bottom of this post

My Read-a-Thon Nest

The Inheritance of Orquidea Divina
by Zoraida Cordova

12:22 AM (Sunday) - Coming up for air. 
WOW.  I've spent this whole time with the same book.  Tho I must admit that eyestrain caused me to need to rest my eyes frequently and several times closing my eyes to rest them resulted in mini naps.  Most lasting minutes but one or two over an hour.  But the Libby ap says I spent a total of 11 hours 33 minutes on The Inheritance of Orquidea Divina by Zoraida Cordova  between 5AM and 12:11 AM.  It's a book I could have read in under six hours once upon a time but those times are gone forever.  But in spite of how long it took I am suffused with a sense of triumph for having read a whole novel in what is still in essence one sitting.

It was magical.  Not only the flashback to days of yore when reading a novel in one sitting was nearly a daily happening but the story itself.  Magical.  I feel like I've been dreaming and I don't want to wake up. How do I move on to another story now with only four hours and a bit left in the thon?

And it wasn't even the book I listed in the opening meme that was the one I was most looking forward to.  I started it in the first hour because I expected it to be an easier read than Matrix like a fantasy or a YA.  I thought I'd be done before noon and could move on to the literary Matrix with a tankard or two of coffee in me.

But this story turned out to be as complex as any Lauren Groff story I've yet encountered and contained themes as serious as any literary novel I ever read.  To top that off many of those theme are the very ones I'm currently obsessed with.  Loss.  Grief.  Dysfunctional family dynamics.  Family secrets.  The untrustworthiness of memory.  The power of creativity and imagination.  The importance of truth telling.  The primal need for connectivity.  The daily necessity for repentance and forgiveness.  The evil of misused power.  The need to just say NO to bullies of all stripes.  The arrogance of that sense of purity and piety that calls itself righteousness giving itself the right to judge others 'less than' which is the source of most of the pain we humans inflict on each other in the name of good.

4:44 AM - Intro Meme I'm setting this to go live at 4:44 AM but it may be well into hour 1 or even hour 2 before I check in again.  I'll be reading my first pick sitting in my beanbag chair nursing my first thermos of coffee.

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?

Kelso Washington USA.  Across the Cowlitz river from Longview where I grew up and had been living with my elderly mother since 2013.  I moved into my 400 square foot efficiency unit in late July.  Yesterday's post was a photo essay updating the current status of the settling in phase.

2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?

Non-Fiction: Cultish: The Language of Fanaticism by Amanda Montell

Fiction: Matrix by Lauren Groff

3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?

Chips and guacamole.

4) Tell us a little something about yourself!

Living alone for the first time ever.
Legally blind with RP aka tunnel vision
Diagnosed with high functioning autism six years ago
Have a caregiver who comes in twice a week to help with chores and errands I can't do alone.
I proved during this move that I have more volume in fiber art supplies than in clothes by at least thee times.

5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to?

I'm hoping to interact with the community more this time than in the last several thons.

Ode to Dewey
by Joy Renee
We Miss You Dewey


Almost Home? - A Photo Essay

Writing Station

By placing my blue tray table with laptop between the white tray table and the white drawer on the couch I created a 'desk' that is a little wider than my spread out arms.  The tables are collapsible when not in use tho I seldom collapse the blue table.  

When I started making the couch into a bed at night a bit over a week ago I put the drawer under the white table.  And a couple days ago I moved the white table between the blue table and the couch so that it could be my bedside table at night and the drawer underneath as a charging station for devices.

Below is a better view of the couch from late August right after it was unboxed:


Blue Suede Couch

Notice the empty shelves?

This is why:

It is hard to recognize it but that is the same corner as in the top photo and the same shelf unit in a jumble on the floor after it collapsed and avalanched books, electronics and office supplies all across the front room nearly wall to wall in late August.

I had just finished loading the World Book Encyclopedia set and the first few volumes of the Britannica Great Books set on the top shelf (not counting the tippy top) and noticed that the shelf was no longer flush with the same shelf on the unit to the right containing the rest of the Great Books.  I pushed on the top right corner and the entire top right quadrant folded towards me and most of the horizontal and vertical pieces popped out and the contents fell out around my feet in a large puddle with some of the smaller items including my desk toys aka fidget toys bouncing and sliding across the floor.

I messaged my sister and she brought her son over and the two of them finished removing contents from what still stood, took the entire unit apart and put it back together.  Then having learned what were my probable mistakes in putting it together in the first place took a look at the first unit and pronounced it unstable as well so they unloaded it before they left but it was a month before they returned to rebuild it.

That is why there has been such a long hiatus in my blogging about settling into my new place.  That incident followed by the heatwave the next week took the oomph out of me and not having the shelves available wrecked my schedule for getting the stuff going on them either unboxed or moved over from Mom's.  It was soooo discouraging.

But eventually I got with the program again.

Wheeled Carts

These are two of the wheeled carts containing mostly crafty stuff.  The single-wide on the left stood by my fiber art station at Mom's and contained everything to do with yarn, thread and sewing.  It is currently empty after I distributed its contents among the shelves near my current craft station.  There was no sense in having the fiber art paraphernalia clear across the room from where I would be needing them. Yes the cart was on wheels but there was no place near where I'd be crafting to place it that wouldn't create a trip hazard.  

That cart will now hold electronic devices and their assorted accessories.  As well as be one of several charging stations for said devices.  Once I get those items sorted into those drawers I'll have at least three more cubes on the black shelf units available for books.

The double-wide cart holds other crafty stuff including graphic arts and papercraft and various found items that give me ideas. But also several misc aka junk drawers.  I will be distributing any items related to fiber arts over on the shelves designated for them.  

I have a vague notion that some of the drawers on the right will be used for small kitchen miscellany.  Or I might switch the carts around and use the single-
wide for kitchen stuff and split the double-wide between electronics and graphic arts.  Still a work in progress.

Moving on to the right now facing the kitchen:


The wooden bookshelf in front of the breakfast bar contains my DVD collection.  Between that and the blue shelf unit is a charging station hidden behind the fan.

The blue shelves contain the bulk of the fiber art tools, reference and materials except for the large WIP kits and the unassigned yarn stash.  The navy cloth closet in the far corner is stuffed to the gills with said yarn stash and large WIP kits.  So stuffed the zipper is pulling away from the fabric.

This was the same wall before the black shelf collapsed and I urgently needed the wooden bookshelf for the Encyclopedia and Great Books sets.  Temporarily as it turned out.  But by then I'd found new and better homes for the clothes.

90 degree turn to the right:

Craft and Sort Station.

This is the tall 3 foot square table that was Ed's that I use for projects that I need to spread out or work at standing up.  Like sorting or large WIP in fiber art and writing/research.  Tho I've not had time for the latter yet.  NaNo is coming tho.  Fast like a freight train.

The grey shelf unit on the back wall is still a mishmash and may be for some time.  The far left column contains small to middling containers for organizing larger containers, shelves, cupboards, drawers, closets etcetera.  The middle to far right is all fiber art stuff still in flux.

Under the big table is another wheeled cart facing out.  That contains office supplies and vision aides and more junk drawers.  Behind that wheeled cart facing the other wall is a plastic dresser full of small to middling crochet WIP.  And left over yarn and thread from finished WIP.

The white shelf unit next to the front door contains outerwear accessories.  Hats on top.  Scarves in the middle and Shawls on the bottom.  My shoes are in a shallow box that slides under the couch.  My jackets and favorite handbags hang on the back of the door.

Next the self-care station aka bathroom:




It is hard to tell in that last pic as it is such poor quality but that is 8 folding boxes on four shelves over the toilet tank.  They contain the kinds of things I might need to get dressed after a shower when I'm not planning to leave the apartment: T-shirts, sweats, pajamas and grunge.  That way I can get showered on an impulse even on a cold morning or evening without having to hunt clothes out and without having to heat up the whole apartment as the bathroom has a very toasty heater.

There is still a lot of work to do to get my clothes, HABA (Health and Beauty Aids) and self-care miscellany sorted and organized but the 'homes' for the items are in place.

On the way out of the bathroom we encounter:

Read Watch and Listen Station

That's the beanbag chair atop the mini-tramp that becomes like a recliner where I watch videos, listen to audio books, music and podcasts.  When I'm just listening I'm also crocheting now.  That is new this past week.  I am on the third project. since picking it back up 9 days ago.

The same listening activities can accompany mini-tramp workouts.

Next the kitchen:

Food and Drink Prep Station

Visible are the blue toaster oven above the electric tea kettle, crockpot and red microwave.  Next to the microwave are the knife holder and spice rack.

I turned all my plastic crates into kitchen storage for the space between the fridge and the back door.  I made them stable by using bungy cords to snug each to its neighbor above and beside.  They contain:  Pots and pans too large for the other cupboards, mixing bowls, small appliances and produce that doesn't need refrigeration.  

And I left a space in the back corner for the mop and broom.

This was a recent development.  Like last week.  It was a major step in making the kitchen workable, preventing that corner from being a junk collector and also established homes for the empty crates that I'd been schlepping from place to place whenever the place they had landed was needed otherwise.  I was beginning to wonder if I needed to give them up.  But I was planning to try them inside the closet for clothes organizing before deciding but I have other options for that and I'm liking this better every day.

So the answer to the title question?

I think maybe yes?

I'm still ambivalent about it because most of the time it doesn't feel so but evidence that it is so is in these facts:

  • My days for at least two weeks now have been more about daily living than about the moving in tasks.
  • I started crocheting again
  • I started serious reading again
  • I started writing again.
  • Last week coming back from grocery shopping with my caregiver I was startled to see we had arrived and I spontaneously asked 'Are we home already?'
So yes, almost home.


Sunday, October 17, 2021

Sweaterless Sleeves

Sweaterless Sleeves


We've all heard of the sleeveless sweater but did you ever consider the sweaterless sleeve as being a thing?  A useful thing at that?

Well it had never occurred to me before my sister (caregiver to my 89 year old mother) asked me if I could make them for Mom for while she is drinking her tea in bed before she gets up to start the dressing routines.  Mom didn't want to have to struggle into a sweater upon first waking up and then back out of it again in less than an hour.

Think about it.  For a woman in her 9th decade putting on and taking off a sweater is...well...calisthenics.

So when my sister suggested the project last Wedensday, I was immediately on board.  When she asked how long it would take to do two sleeves I calculated based on a tube shaped carry sack I'd made a year and a half ago which took me just under a week so I said probably 10 days or so.

But after we finished texting and I was musing on the project feeling the excitement build, I realized that the bottom circle for that carry-sack had taken over 30% of the time and there would be no bottom circles on the sleeves.  This alone cut the estimate down to under a week.  Then I realized I could use thicker yarn and a fatter hook.  More time slashing but hard to calculate. 

Finally, I could use a taller stitch.  Could I have actually just whittled the estimate down to one day per sleeve?  Maybe.

I had to find out but by starting one to see how long it would take me to reach four inches which I estimated to be about a quarter of the length.  Turned out later the length needed to be 18 inches not 16.  But close enough for estimating.

To get started though I had to dig the yarn out of my stash in the portable cloth closet which amounted to an hour long calisthenics routine for me.  

Since I did not remember where in the stack the bag with my yarn of choice was I had to pull out all four 22 gallon and 8 11 gallon zippered bags out and unzip them to remind myself of their contents even when I knew the bag I was after was one of the three 22 gallon ones on the bottom of the pile. 

The yarn I chose was Lion Brand Comfy Cotton Blend in Whipped Cream.

By the time my caregiver arrived two hour later I had two inches of tube and by the time she finished sweeping and mopping (during which task it is best I stay put in one out of the way spot) I had another four inches.  So proof of concept and proof each sleeve was potentially a one day project.  

Possibly even half a day if I hadn't been coming of a months long hook hiatus.  Remembering what happened last July when I spent two long days crocheting a water bottle carry bag for my sister's birthday, I curbed my enthusiasm and stretched my estimate for completion to Sunday afternoon.  

I did not want to suffer a week of inflammation in my hands and elbows again.  That project in July had been my first since Ed died the last week of September last year.  That had been a 8 month hiatus and working that up for sister proved to me I was ready to embrace the fiber art joy again.  But because I had overdone it, I was in too much pain for over a week and by then I was busy packing up all my yarn and projects along with everything else for the move into my new place.

This past week was the first full week since I moved in that my daily routines have been more about daily living than about moving stuff from here to there--packing, schlepping, unpacking, unboxing, placing furniture and appliances, moving large items around the floorspace, moving smaller items from box to shelf to cupboard to infinitum.  I'm talking 8 to 12 hour days since late July.  Except for the two heatwaves.

Speaking of the heatwaves.  I got out of the habit of blogging about the moving adventure while it was so hot and then I kept forgetting to take the pictures to go with the stories worth telling.  I'm currently getting the pictures of things as they are now which, except for a few shelves and corners, will look much the same going forward.  I hope to put up that post soon.

Meanwhile to conclude the sweaterless sleeves story:  I finished the second one at midnight last night.  And that included having to take out and put back in 8 inches of the tube because I had increased too much over the elbow and the top section kept sliding down to the elbow.

The 'tall' stich I used was the one I made up back in 2013.  It involves a round of chain loops that can be anywhere from 4 to 9 chains in length.  On the next pass those loops are twisted by the hand not holding the hook and pinned by a single crochet in the top.  Whether or not you put a chain between the twisted loops is optional.  Depends on how lacy you want it.  The effect is a row of cursive Ls with a space between so I call it my LOL stitch.  There have been other times when I thought I had made something up only to find it in a book or chart or blog or on line somewhere as already having a long history.  For this one it has been nearly a decade and I still have seen nothing like it elsewhere.


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