Monday, August 13, 2007

Busy: Not Much Knitting But Some Eye Candy

There have been solicitous inquiries about the continuation of life Chez CBM. I'm happy to say that we're all still here. But it's been busy for the last couple of weeks.

The week of July 27 was a whirlwind of errands, doctor appointments and frustration, with a few nice bits of knitting fun. I got a chance to meet Mary Tess for coffee and a fast bite of lunch before heading to an eye doctor appointment. MT is a terrific knitter and the best I know at finding gorgeous thrift-store sweaters - often cashmere! - to frog and re-use the yarn. Errands and laundry filled the middle of the week, and I had a lot of fun at my Friday Night Unwind group, though I didn't make much net knitting progress on the small scarf I resurrected from the UFO pile.

Last week I met Knitdevil and mehitabel for coffee and lunch in Montrose, then on to more errands. Tuesday and Wednesday involved even more errands and doctor appointments. There's nothing wrong with me - it's just that various follow-ups and annual visits all have fallen within a couple of weeks. It all caught up with me on Thursday: I had to bail on my usual seniors' knitting group and the Friday Night Unwind fun. I felt like someone had pulled the plug on my energy tank and everything had run out.

And oh, yeah. The Video Time Sink: A lot of time over the last 2 weeks has been spent trying to get our "video system" back together. Two weekends ago we had the new AT&T U-verse system installed. U-verse is a combination of fiber-optic internet and cable service, quite new to the Burbank area. U-verse tiers come with one DVR, but the guys who installed the service, and did a good job of it, were not allowed to hook up our two TiVo boxes. So DH and I have spent several days'-worth of time trying to do that.

I have to say that the support from TiVo, both onscreen and on the phone, is great! So is AT&T's online support. We've had Pacific Bell/SBC/AT&T DSL internet service for years, (so many that they call us "legacy customers", which seems to mean that we have really good/cheap phone pricing, no longer available); but the cable installation quirks around here left us just a smidge too far from their transmitters, so we were always behind the curve of DSL speed. Plus our Charter cable people really have provided less and less service for more and more $$.

So we switched to U-verse. Based on our experience, I think the service is still in Beta testing, on us customers. And compared to TiVo, the interface has a long way to improve. With the help of a guy from Best Buy's Geek Squad, 2/3 of our system is back to where we want it. Our second TiVo box and the U-verse cable box are not playing together properly, in spite of everything we, the Geek Squad guy, AT&T online support and TiVo have been able to think of and try. We can't find the IR code that lets the TiVo change channels. This may require replacing the TiVo box, which is a pricey thing. Sigh.

Limited Knitting Content

I have managed to finish both Luna Moth and Sun Ray shawls, patterns designed by Shui Kuen Kosinsky and available from Elann in their Free Patterns section. Sun Ray has a picot bind-off, and it really hurts my hands and my patience, so the B/O is going slowly. I finished the B/O of Luna Moth last night, and both of them will be blocked on Wednesday. (More appointments tomorrow.) So those photos will be posted later this week.I also washed the red acrylic 'mohair' shawl and the teal acrylic/mohair Comfort Shawl, and was able to pat out much of the unevenness of the Comfort Shawl, even though I didn't do more than just lay the shawl out flat. I've already posted photos of the unblocked shawls, so I haven't taken new pictures, since there's not much difference.

Poor Mystery Stole 3 is still languishing untouched. I'm at about Row 79 (Clue 1B), though I seem to have made some mistake, since my stitch count is off. My plan is to pick it up later this week and continue. I don't know yet if I'll finish nor if I'm going to do the 'wing' version or the 'symmetrical' version. That decision is about 200 rows off.

The most knitting fun is that Shui Kuen, she of the shawl patterns, will be here in the LA area next week. I met her last year when she came to visit relatives, and we're planning some more knittery fun, including having her join us at our Montrose Monday SnB. She's going to take me to a dim sum feast. Oh, *yummy*!!

And Now for the Eye Candy
For reasons illogical and incomprehensible to me, I can grow African Violets. They suffer irregular watering schedules, erratic fertilizing and lots of absent-minded but benign neglect. It takes a fairly hardy plant to survive here, but most of them grow. They grow lushly, and generally with lots of flowers. They grow multiple crowns and need dividing. I divide them, and still they grow and need dividing again. I have them in 4 windows, and right now there are about 2 dozen of them. So here are some of the lovely flowers that I found today when I went around with my little watering can.

These are two plants from one of the oldest varieties I have; it's at least 10 years old, though this may not be the original plant. I've lost its name, but it makes broad rosettes and huge blossoms.

This is Maid Marian. She's also been with me for 10 years or so. Marian is very hardy. I get a lot of divisions and leaf-starts from her.

This is a family heirloom of sorts. My cousin's wife inherited the plant from an aunt of hers. When I first saw this plant back in Illinois, I was stunned, since I had never seen such a huge plant, with so many crowns. It overflowed an 8-inch pot. I don't recall the name, so I've named it Sandy, for my dear relative-by-love. The blossoms are much like the very early African Violets, very simple petals, but the color is so rich.

And this is Ever Glory, one of the newest varieties in my AV garden. The edges of the petals are just barely ruffled, with a nearly-white band. This is really overgrown, since there are now 2 large crowns in this pot.


Jamie said...

Hi CBM, The eye candy was just delicious! I have had African violets for years, but currently none in bloom and none none very old. Moving 4 years ago was very hard on my houseplants so now all I have is 4 violets!
Have a great visit with SK. She is one person I would love to meet and hope to someday; who knows?
Have a good week!

Cindy G said...

The flowers are lovely. I've never been able to keep an African Violet alive, so I appreciate other people's all the more.

mehitabel said...

My mother grew the most amazing African violets, and I was able to grow them for years and years. Then all of a sudden they all got sick and died, and I haven't had the heart to take one home since! Of course, the only plants left in the yard are the ones that can survive neglect and erratic watering schedules!
And I can really relate to that low-energy feeling. I say it feels as if someone has unscrewed my big toe and all the energy has leaked out.

smariek said...

It is so good to see this post. I stopped by this morning and thought, geez, it's been quiet over here, lol.

I've never been very good with african violets, but maybe I'll give them a try at the new house. It's so hard to grow anything where I live in SF.

I love love love my Tivo. Can't live without it now. I thought I didn't need it until a friend gave me a demo, then I was sold on it. Same thing happened with nav in the car, lol.

DSL or cable? We need to decide which one to get at the new place... (well, same with cable tv or dish)

Grace Yaskovic said...

Love african violets, love that you are getting to see SK and love knowing you are still among the living and blogging, Don't forget you are a Rockin Blog Girl too

Joan said...

I can't imagine owning a house plant for 10 days much less than 10 years. Yikes! Great progress on your shawls. I also thought the picot bo was a pita but it looks so nice.
Have fun with SK!!

Madge said...

Hiya! No lazy days of summer for you, eh?

I love my DVR to death. Tom and I went to a movie on Sunday (Stardust), and I kept wanting to pause/rewind it.

Congrats on your FOs! Lovely violets you've got there, m'dear.

TracyKM said...

Pretty African violets. They certainly don't mind neglect! What do you mean by crowning? Mine grow very long stems, and lean over, despite me turning them weekly. They never fill out at the bottom or look like multiple plants. Any tips?
And the James Brett Marble....I used it for a Baby Surprise Jacket. Lovely (haven't seamed it yet, LOL). I did find though that it did not knit as a DK like it says on the label. I ended up using 4.5mm needles, which to me, is worsted weight. How many balls did you use for the sweater? I'd like to try the cotton yarn too. The shawls are gorgeous!