Friday, February 20, 2015

Baby It’s Cold Outside

Folks it is cold. This morning, when I went out to walk Max the Magnificent it was……

Wait for it……..

This cold……
2015-02-20 06.01.40

16F, all by itself, is colder than I normally like to see it. And I live in a place where that is the norm in the winter time. But when you put a minus before that 16 then it is what we lovingly call “freezing my nose hairs” kind of cold. You can bet your bottom dollar that Max the Magnificent was speedy quick with his morning necessities. It is really easy to pick up the morning doggy deposit when it flash freezes before you can get to it.

Too much information?

But you know what is good about these sorts of temperatures?


2_20_2015 Fractals_b

If you time it just right and keep the shades in the living room pulled down until after the sun comes up the fractals are preserved for recording with Big Bertha. We won’t talk about me running around this morning gathering camera and tripod to take a picture or two. The thing is, fractals are sensitive things. The minute that I raise the shades the heat from the room starts to work. You have maybe 10 minutes max before the above picture starts to look like this……

2_20_2015 Fractals_a

The fractals just start melting away.

There has to be SOMETHING good about –16F weather. I will take the fractals.

And the 100mm macro lens that makes watching them so fun.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Wild Winter Wonderings

 Blather that insulates you from the cold.

Currently this is what it looks like outside my front door.

2015-02-14 12.10.17

Actually, this is pretty good compared to what is has been today and what it might yet be. There was a bit of time when the snow was swirling so thickly that I couldn’t see the trees very well.

Oh the joys of Winter in Cleveland. And by tomorrow morning……

It will be around –5F.

HHBL and I are going out for an early dinner/late lunch before church. The restaurant is actually a 4 minute drive or a 6 minute walk from Chez Knit. We will be driving it. We were then going to go on to church as we go to a Saturday night service at Christ Community Chapel. I am not sure that church is in the offing tonight.

I love audiobooks. I know I have mentioned that before. My current “listen” is Gone With the Wind. It has been quite a long time since I read the book and almost instantly after beginning the audiobook I was reminded how much of a dislikeable character Scarlett O’Hara is. If you have only seen the movie, one of my favorites I might add, you might think that you know how utterly unlikeable that she is….but you really have no idea. She is utterly unlikeable.

And yet, the book is an absolute masterpiece.

On the subject of Gone With the Wind (the movie version), I have to confess…..Clark Gable is SO not my favorite actor and is the one fly in my movie ointment when I watch GWTW. I know, HERESY!!! I have never really liked Clark Gable as an actor, I can’t tell you why I just know that it is. Don’t ask me who I would have put in his place because I am not sure. If Laurence Olivier could have done a creditable Southern accent then I might have picked him, he is SO dishy. Wouldn’t Vivien Leigh have loved that! They were involved in a flamingly heavy affair about the time that she filmed GWTW. Oh well, I will just have to survive.

I have managed, in the last 10 days, to spend down MOST of my credits on Paperback Book Swap.

Patting myself on the back.

I decided to leave a few credits in the bank as there are several books in my wish list that if they became available I would want.

The postman has been furiously delivering books to my door every day. I am sure that he thinks I am either starting my own library or that perhaps I have nothing else to do but read….now wouldn’t THAT be nice.

There has only been one problem. One of the books that arrived, a sweater pattern book, had loose pages. I was not happy and the shipper has returned my credit. Other than that little snafu it has been all smooth sailing.

Now to go and read a bit.

Oh yes, on the subject of books. I can tell you that my obsessive compulsive super duper “Books I have read in my life” spreadsheet has come in handy when looking at books to order on PBS. If you are a reader it is a VERY upsetting thing to sit down with a book and realize that you have read it before. You get a few pages or maybe a chapter in and you just know that this is ground you have covered before. I read enough books that I cannot always remember what I read 10 or 15 years ago, that is why I maintain the spreadsheet.

Oh FINE! I like the neatness of recording each book that I read. SO sue me.

But it has still saved my literary bacon on more than one occasion.

This feels like such a strangely discombobulated week. It always does if we travel mid-week to mid-week. I don’t know if I am coming or going. I will say that the traveling went smoothly. I would expect no less from Southwest Airlines…..but then I might be a bit biased on that score. HHBL and I agreed that it was definitely worth it to spend the bit of extra money in order to be about to have an assured spot in group “A”. Since we travel with only carry on, no matter how long the trip, it assures us both an aisle seat and overhead bin space. The flight back didn’t have yipping dogs, thank goodness, but it did have a screaming child. 4 hours of screaming by the by. It didn’t bother me but I certainly felt very bad for the parents. We were also serenaded by the ramp agent before the cabin doors were closed and again by one of the flight attendants just before landing.

Dang I love SWA.

My Valentine sent me a special video this morning. I thought I might share it. For some reason it will not embed so you will just have to click on the link to see.

My Valentine

As always, Instagram. Because when I get to #7 I just plain run out of ideas.
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Thursday, February 12, 2015

Well I Could Have Used This Many a Time

I don’t know about you but the thing that HHBL and I both want to do when we return home from a trip is go through the mail that has accumulated. Get off plane. Get in car. Drive home but stop at the post office to pick up mail. Go inside Chez Knit with bags in hand. Drop everything and look through mail.

We arrived home last night from 9 days in Tucson, where it was 80F or more every day and not a cloud in the sky. HHBL and I looked at each other as we got off the SWA flight, looked at the clock and thought that we might be able to get to the post office in time to pick up the mail….but we did not. SO, I picked it up this morning. Loads of packages because of the whole Paperback Bookswap thing and a bunch of mail….

And I have digressed already and haven’t even BEGUN to tell you the story. Typical.

One of the pieces of mail was a letter from Pilot Man. A letter? We are both digitally obsessed savvy people and so email and txt are the way that we communicate when not in the same airspace. I opened the letter and found these……

2015-02-12 14.01.592015-02-12 14.02.12

The original certified copy of my birth certificate, along with not one but TWO extra copies. You have NO idea how much I have needed these very things several times in the past. I just stood there and looked at them and laughed and remembered.

And in that instant I knew that today I was going to tell you about the time in my life that I would have given just about anything to have this piece of paper in my little sweaty hands. Look at the second picture, at the faintly raised seal. Keep that seal in mind as you read below.

Many a year ago, somewhere around 1996, the Peruvian in-laws, Abuela and Alberto (who didn’t live in Peru then but in New Jersey) asked if we wanted to spend some time with them in Mexico at a “hotel-hacienda” that Alberto had frequented when he had worked in Mexico. We weren’t idiots and so we said SURE! We made our reservations and anticipated warmth and fun and food and pool time. This was back in the dark ages when you could easily go back and forth between the USA and Mexico on the strength of your birth certificate alone if you did not have a valid passport…or if your passport was expired as mine was at that time. I had my birth certificate. I had certificates for all the girls. HHBL might have had a valid passport but I don’t remember. We were all packed and ready to go. We arrived at the airport in PLENTY of time since we were traveling with three progeny the youngest of whom was a blistering 5 years old. We walked up to the counter to start the check in process and when the ticket counter agent got to my birth certificate he looked at it, turned it over, looked at it again, handed it back to me and calmly told me that I couldn’t fly using it.

Guys I am getting heart palpitations just thinking about this and it is almost 20 years later.

We were flabbergasted. This was the only copy of my birth certificate that I had ever used and so I was confused. It was very simple, he said with a smile, there is no raised seal on it and so the State of Ohio and the US government will not let you out of the country with it.

This was news to me. And to HHBL, who I might add was none too happy with the situation…or with me for not knowing this little tidbit, which I will say I should have checked on. The problem now was what to do about it. The ticket agent very kindly, and without extra cost, moved our reservations to a flight leaving late in the afternoon, which gave us about 5 hours to “work the problem”. We loaded ourselves back in the car and drove home, a very silent ride as I recall, with the prospect that we might not make it to Mexico at all. I might remind all of you that this was also sort of the age before the internet and so it wasn’t like I could sit down and google what to do, or better yet do a search on my smart phone. I didn’t know what to do, but I knew I had to do something. So, once we got home I started calling all the places in the phonebook that might possibly give me an answer. The clock ticked and ticked and I dialed and dialed. It is amazing how many people had no idea how to help me. That is until I called the passport office. There was no way to get a copy of my birth certificate. There was no way to get a passport. But the fellow on the other end of the line said that there might be one other option. Was I a registered voter? Yes, I was. Well then, I could fly using my voter registration card. No problem!

The US government WON’T let me fly using a copy of my birth certificate but they WILL let me fly with a voter registration card? Something is oddly mixed up with this situation.

And there was a problem still…..

I didn’t HAVE a voter registration card. I didn’t even know that one existed. When I voted I just walked in, showed my driver’s license and punched the chads. But if there is a voter registration card then possibly, just possibly, the Board of Elections could help me.

OhpleaseOhpleaseOhplease let this work!! That was my mantra as I dialed the phone with sweaty palms and not a small feeling of intestinal distress.

Help me BoA Kenobi! You’re my only hope!

I called the Board of Elections, which is in downtown Cleveland, and after verifying that I was me I was told that if I could get there in the next hour or so they would have a voter registration card for me.

Oh LORD THANK YOU!!!! The problem was could we make it into the city, get the card, get to the airport, park, get into the airport with suitcases and three children in tow, get checked in (this was pre early internet check in), praying that the bags got to the plane in time and get on the plane before the inevitable closing of the cabin door. It was going to be tight, very tight. We threw the bags and the progeny into the car and raced.

We made it to the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections in time.

We made it to the airport in time.

We got on the plane on time.

And we made it to Mexico, perhaps a few hours later than we had intended but we made it.

You can well imagine that I made sure I knew where that Voter Registration card was at ALL times when we were in Mexico. You can also be sure that I was sweating it when we checked in for our flight home.

And the FIRST thing that I did when I got home was I applied for a passport for myself and each of the progeny. I have never let my passport lapse since that awful day in 1996.

Now I just want to be able to use this valid Birth Certificate for something, anything. Just because I finally have it.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Pistachio: A Still Life

Sometimes when I least expect it, and perhaps because my brain is wired differently than other people (stop that laughing), I will be compelled to take a picture of something that makes no sense to the general population.

Case in point.....the Pistachios.

For the last several days we have been eating down the bowl of pistachios. Pistachios are the potato chip of the nut world. You think you will only eat one or two. You tell yourself that you will only eat one or two. Then you open one....and then another....and pretty soon you look down and there is a pistachio shell cairn in front of you and you aren't really sure how many of the little nuggets of green goodness you have put into your every expanding maw.

This happens to all of you right?


Hmmmmmmm. Well, I digress.

This morning I walked by the bowl of pistachios sitting next to the bowl full of the remnants of our pistachio consumption and into my head popped the thought....

A PICTURE! A picture of an unopened pistachio next to the exoskeleton of the pistachio next to the as yet unconsumed nugget of goodness. I couldn't do anything else until I set the photo up.

HHBL: What are you doing?
Me: Taking a picture of the pistachios.
HHBL: Yup.

In all honesty I am not the person who thought this up. The lining up of things that are related in some way. Emily Blincoe is a master at it and I am obsessed with her photos.

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery right?

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Tis That the Moon I See?

One of the great things about vacationing at the in-laws house, just north of Tucson, is that there are no street lights. Because there is a major observatory in the area major street lighting is prohibited. The sky with all the stars are bright as can be without all that ambient light that we have at home.

And it just might have been that there was a full moon when we were here.....

So much easier to get a fairly decent photos without having to factor in the million candle watt street lights that are in my neighborhood.

It is amazing to me how fast the moon actually moves across the sky.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Vital Viands of Vacationosity

I am using a new blogging platform for the iPad. We will see how it goes.

Blather that makes all things sunny and bright.


This is Taco Nacho Chimichanga. Well really his name is just Nacho but I call him Taco Nacho Chimichanga. He belongs to Dapoo and Linda, the in-laws. You can't tell from this picture but he is about the size of a rabbit. A combination of Chihuahua and Miniature Italian Greyhound and the complete master of his domain.

I think I can manage to get him in my suitcase. I am sure they won't miss him.........

And speaking of dogs, as we were you know. Dogs on an airplane can make me just absolutely crazy. I don't care if your child is screaming. Well, I shouldn't say that I don't care, what I really mean is that it doesn't bother me. I know that you wish that your child would be quiet and I know that you are doing your best to manage that so I just tune it out. Now if you are letting your child run up and down the aisles like an unattended maniac then I might just say something.

But if you have a small little yippy dog, make that TWO small little yippy dogs that you have stowed under the seat in front of you.....please give them EACH a doggy valium so they sleep through the 4.5 hour flight and do not yip at 20 second intervals.

My right eye was twitching severely when I got off the plane.

We are visiting the inlaws.

As you can see I am working very hard. It is tough, all that sunshine and 80F weather. I AM actually doing some work but only in the morning.

The rest of the day might just look like the picture above.

The problem when visiting the in-laws is the availability of snacks.

And by that I mean that the aforementioned snacks are much much much too available for me to put them in my ever open mouth.

Tortilla chips? Check!

Those completely addicting little rice crackers from Trader Joe's? Multiple packages.

Big Bag of popcorn? Yup.

If I am not careful and make sure that I take a walk every day I am going to weight the same as a baby elephant and Southwest Airlines will rightly ask me to buy a second seat on the plane.

Occasionally, actually fairly often, I blog from my iPad. The iPad is always with me and the big computer is in my work area in the basement. For all the time that I have had an iPad I have used an app called "Blogsy" to do my blogging from the iPad.

Blogsy I have never liked you! You are buggy and hard to use on occasion and just down right temper tantrumy. We must break up.

I actually became so frustrated with Blogsy today when it told me that I couldn't embed a picture from MY OWN PHOTOSTREAM because I didn't own the rights to the photo........that I paid money for a new blogging app.

We will see how it goes.

HHBL can tell you that I love rain. I love rainy days.

But for some inexplicable reason I absolutely adore the desert. When we get off the plane in Phoenix and get in the car for the drive to Tucson, after we exit the sprawl of the city, I heave a gigantic sigh of relief and pleasure as I see the desert landscape go by.

I do not understand why this is but it is.

Can someone explain it to me?

Instagram - because nothing says obsession like a boat load of useless pictures.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

And So I Believe We Must Part

It is time for Paperback Book Swap and I to say goodbye.

Sniff....sort of.

I don't remember who it was who first told me about Paperback Book Swap. Barb? Larissa? Someone else? That conversation has been lost to the annals of time. At the time that I first learned about Paperback Book Swap, from now on to be referred to as PBS, I had a lot of books that I needed to find a good home for. A. LOT. OF. BOOKS. That cannot come as a surprise to you, the fact that I might have had like a bazillion books. But sometimes you just have to clean out some books, keeping the ones that make your heart sing and sending the rest off to a good home. I have given books away to Goodwill and to Half Price Books and other places. But books are like children, you just don't want to give them away to someone who will not love them as much as you do. It just seemed to me that Paperback Book Swap insured that they were going to someone who wanted them.

Besides, what was not to love about Paperback Book Swap. You listed the books that you had. If someone wanted that book PBS let you know that someone had requested it. You wrapped it up and sent it to the requester and when the book arrived at it's new home you got a nice credit dropped into your PBS account that you could use to request a book that you wanted. Easy Peasy. I quickly had a lot of credits to spend because it seemed that I had a lot of books that people wanted. I also leaned how to work the system, not in an illegal way mind you, but it quickly became clear to me that if I was lising a book that 10 or 20 or more people were also listing......I might still be holding onto that book for awhile. That sort of defeated the purpose of getting rid of books. So I learned to go onto PBS and look for the book that I was thinking about listing. If there were others also listing the book, I put it in the box to go to Goodwill. If the book wasn't in the system, I listed it and most of the time it immediately left my house. The only money it cost me was the money to send the book. WHen I requested a book it cost me nothing.

This was fine for a while, listing books and requesting books. My heart gave that little skip of joy when I saw that somethign had arrived from PBS. Not as big a skip if it came from someplace where smoking had been occuring but I could live with it. But then I realized that often times the book that I wanted wasn't available, I had to put it on my Wish List (along with everyone else waiting for that book) and just watch as I inched closer and closer to acquiring the book. Sometimes you wait A LONG TIME for a book. I had one book that I put on the wish list in 2008......and it finally became available to me late last year. After a time I stopped putting books on my Wish List because I often had to wait so long that it was just easier to buy it used on Amazon or find it at Half Price Books.

Last year and the year before that I barely had time to read (more than the 65-80 books a year I average) and my PBS credits just sat there. I would go on PBS to look for a book that I wanted and more often than not it wasn't available, so I just went off and did something else and left my credits there because they don't expire.

Then last week I got an email from PBS. As of the 15th of February they are changing their structure. I can either 1. Pay them $20/year for the ability to swap at will (best value) or pay .49/swap for their "A la Carte" pricing. I can hear you saying that that price doesn't seem like much, and it isn't. I also understand that after a certain point a company does have to make money. I am married to an entrepreneur after all.

But as far as PBS is concerned......I choose to do neither. I use PBS so seldom that $20/year would be wasted. I also had 60 credits still hanging around which equaled $29.40 worth of swaps at the .49/swap price. I am choosing to try like the dickens to spend down that credit pile as best I can before February 15th. In the last 48 hours I have requested 15 books and it has taken a boat load of work to find 15 that I really wanted. I am working at it every day, it is one of my vacation tasks. If I don't have them all spent by the time the 15th rolls around then Larissa can have the ones that are left....but I am going to give it a real try.

I earned those credits after all.

Paperback Book Swap it has been a good ride but it is time we parted.