Rainbows in the breeze

July 3, 2015

Well, it has been an eventful week.  Things crowding on the heels of what went before!

Last Friday was the Pride march in Haifa.  Not nearly as grand as the big march in Tel Aviv earlier in the month, which is on an international scale with well over 100K participants, but nothing to sneeze at either.

The Hebrew text says:

We march to fight for the right to live the lives we want! To love whom we want!  To dress as we wish to!  We march for equality and against discrimination.  We march in solidarity and for the struggles we face around us.  Because a society that respects and values us – gays, lesbians, bi and trans – is a society that is better for everyone.

As an aside, I was glad to note that the American ambassador and his family marched in Tel Aviv with the staff of the Embassy (which flew a giant rainbow flag in support).

Haifa had many local leaders and representatives – including all the liberal political parties and many local businesses – accompanying the 5-10K folks who marched and celebrated.

I missed the gathering at the first meeting point, with the initial speeches, because I can’t really march.  (So sadly I have no pictures of the actual march.)  I went directly to the final destination (carrying my rainbow flag, of course), where there were more speeches and lots of entertainment.

My friend Marina marched with the Progressive Judaism contingent.

(stolen from Marina's facebook wall...sorry M)

(stolen from Marina’s facebook wall…sorry M)

Lots of lovely speakers and MCs




Some folks with very special outfits for the occasion


Love those eyelashes…but that ballgown seemed a wee bit…warm for the Haifa heat?

The singer and personality Margalit Tzan’ani (Margol) joined us with music that had everyone singing and dancing and cheering

Booths with drinks, with bubbles, with rainbow products.


High energy, smiles and laughter, I didn’t see any negativity there at all.  Well done, Haifa!


My only real regret?  It wasn’t until a little later in the afternoon, after everyone had dispersed and gone home, that the SCOTUS ruling was announced.  It would have been nice to have heard it from the stage when we were all together and could celebrate even more for our US friends!  But that’s a subject for the next post…


June 23, 2015

Yesterday was a sad day.

Father’s Day (and the Monday after it) are always a bittersweet time for me.

Twenty-eight years ago, my dad was once again in the hospital following yet another incident with his heart.  Since I was far away on a different continent, I sent a Father’s Day gift well in advance, and my mom baked a cake for him according to my instructions…  She spent that Sunday’s visiting hours with him in the hospital.  I always spoke with him on Father’s Day – they tried to phone me from the hospital, but lines were so busy that day and international reception was not good, and they couldn’t get through (phones in the 80s weren’t quite as sophisticated as they are now).  They decided to try again the next day as soon as my mom got there.

It wasn’t to be.

When my mom arrived at the hospital on Monday, it was to Code Blue.  Dad’s heart had stopped.  She phoned me, told me to get on a plane and come.  A couple of hours later she phoned again to tell me he was gone.

I never got to talk to him for Father’s Day that year.

I got there 48 hours later.  Three flights, one overnight stopover in Germany – at the time, it was the quickest connection.   It was my mother’s birthday.  For years after that, she refused to celebrate it.  It was a week before their wedding anniversary.

This year – 2015 – was only the 4th time since then that the actual dates correspond to the year he died.  For some reason that’s harder, no idea why.   I read all the tributes to fathers online on Sunday, but didn’t add one myself.  I thought about him all day yesterday.

Here’s to you, dad.

high school grad

high school grad



Aunt Mabel's


Dad n me



Carpenter at play


Royalty in the House

June 6, 2015

The family has grown.

The catbeast and the kid do not get along.  Kid doesn’t know exactly what she did or when, but the catbeast decided at one point that they were not compatible.  This has made the kid very sad, not to mention pissed off.  She is not the most patient of humans, and her many unsuccessful tries to make friends with the feline have made her vent in frustration.  Especially since it was kid who saved the catbeast when she was a 2-week-old kitten abandoned on the street by her mother.

Kid has repeatedly bugged me to add another cat to the household.  I told her all the expenses and care would be on her, as opposed to me having to take over (which has happened with multiple rabbits, hamsters, and other beasts).

So when (now ex-) boyfriend’s cat had kittens, the kid decided to adopt one.  There was only one female in the litter, and a week or so ago, when the babies were old enough to leave mom, kid went out and bought supplies and settled the kitten in her room.


After much discussion about names, the kid, to my horror, chose to name the kitten “Princess”.  Gak.  Cliche, much?  I tried to persuade her to perhaps name the wee beastie after a princess, real or fictional – like Jasmine, or Tiger Lily – but that didn’t take.  Then I tried other characters that kid loves, like Luna.  Almost worked, but no.  Princess it is.

I have consoled myself with calling the babe “Prynne”, sometimes expanded to “Hester Prynne”, although kid objects to the Hester part.  I have told her that Hester Prynne was among the first and most important female protagonists in American literature, a truly fascinating character and a strong and defiant woman in a time period when women were meant to be totally subservient.  Kid is not impressed, and has told me that “Prynne” is fine, “Hester” isn’t.

Yeah.  Whatever.

Catbeast is not amused.  At all. She is quite angry about her territory being invaded.  I’m spending a lot of time cuddling her.


So far the solution has been to have separate areas for the two.  Baby catbeast has the kid’s room (with food, bed, and litter box there), and senior catbeast has my room and office (with food, bed, and litter box for her).  The rest of the house is joint territory, with alternating occupancy.  Although they are currently avoiding each other apart from the occasional growl or hiss, I’m really hoping that they will eventually become friends, or at least tolerate each other in the same space.

The babe is quite active, and is proving herself a great hunter of flies and other insects.  She is also very curious and must explore everything.


I have not yet tried to knit with the kitten around.  That will almost certainly happen at a later date.

And it’s never a dull moment in the neighbourhood.

Of socks, fish, and Draco

June 4, 2015

I finished the Saved By a Fish’s Kiss socks.  Knit till I felt I was done, did an inch or so of ribbing, then used Jeny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Bind Off.  It is extremely stretchy, but still a wee bit tight – methinks this has more to do with swollen calves than a problem with the socks.  I only used about 2/3 of the yarn, so there’s enough to do something with what’s left, I will have to consider options.  I’m very happy with my new socks!

saved FO

Rudely ignoring the other WIPs waiting for attention, I gave in to my enthusiasm for this sock construction – especially the Fish Lips Kiss Heel –  and immediately cast on for another pair.  No pattern this time, just plain vanilla socks, to show off the yarn.

A few years ago Opal sock yarns came out with a line of self-patterning Harry Potter character colourways.  I managed to grab a skein before the company stopped making them, and it had been patiently waiting all this time.  For some reason, after time had passed I was certain I had bought the Hedwig colourway.  I decided to knit some Hedwig socks!  Imagine my surprise when I dug through my stash to discover that I had actually purchased a skein of the Draco colourway.  Hm.  Beautiful colours, to be sure, but why was I so convinced I had Hedwig in my stash?  Very curious, to quote Mr. Ollivander.

Anyway, I decided to knit a contrasting toe/heel/cuff.  There is a tiny bit of beige mixed in with the blues, grays and white of the yarn, and I want to highlight that, so I chose a soft brown for the contrast yarn.  Used Judy’s magic cast on for a wedge toe.

Accio toe

Since the Opal yarn is self-patterning, I took the extra time to divide it into two balls, then found the same (approximate) spot in each to begin the pattern.


I generally like the randomness of socks not having the exact same pattern sequence, but this time I choose to be different!

I like how they’re looking so far.  I’m feeling the need to knit a lot of socks contrasting patterned and solid yarns.   If there’s enough Draco left over it may become the toe/heel/cuff of a pair of solid socks!  Maybe blue or off-white…  I have quite a few self-patterning or self-striping sock yarns, it will be interesting to see how many pairs I manage to knit before this kick dies down.  What do you think?

There may even be a pair for the kid in the works next…


Back on Track

May 8, 2015

So.  It took me a week to tink back the Saved by a Fish’s Kiss socks.  After a couple of days of being bummed and not so eager to pick them up.  However….little by little I persevered.  Somewhere in the neighbourhood of 1500 stitches tinked.  And now I’m finally moving forward once again, sans vampire-bite holes and with the correct stitch count.

With the tinking came an extra little challenge:  What to do with all the yarn coming undone.  I couldn’t just rewind it, since these socks are being knit from the two ends of one skein.  So no way to really rewind.  I tried to keep the unraveled yarn neat, but in the end there were some….rather intricate tangles.  I used a pair of improvised butterfly bobbins, and managed to get it all sorted out with very little profanity used.  Well….maybe a bit more than very little, but not much, honest.

toe up taat back on track

They’re not terribly convenient to use either, but better than nothing.

I think I’m going to enter these socks into the Yarn and Falafel Fiber Fest WIP competition being held at the end of the month.  Basic vanilla socks, to be sure, but they represent a few new techniques learned, and I will be proud and relieved to finally get these finished after several years in the WIP basket.  All WIPs that are completed by the gathering are eligible for the competition, I will hopefully get a couple more things done and tag them to enter too.

I will again be teaching a double-knitting workshop at the Fest, and again use my Hot Cuppa Coasters pattern to teach.  The pattern has had great success, with two separate KALs done on Ravelry in different groups learning double-knitting, and in at least three off-Ravelry classes in double-knitting around the world.  Three that I know of – those in which the instructors wrote and asked my permission to use the pattern.  I have heard of one class taught in which the pattern was used without anyone contacting me.  Which, since it’s free, is cool, although I much prefer to be asked.  So far, in ten months the pattern has been downloaded by over 1000 people, there are 51 projects up on Ravelry, and it’s in another 94 queues.  Which makes me ridiculously happy.

More about the Y&FFF later!

I intend to get some housekeeping done around the blog soon, the pattern and book pages are woefully behind the times, and there are plans floating around my head to revamp some things as well.  We shall see.

Interesting clouds outside my window…

Shabbat Shalom!


Let’s erase today and start over

May 3, 2015

Well.  The week hasn’t started out as well as it could have.

I got a call from the clinic.  The VNG machine has broken down, so my tests scheduled for two days away have been postponed.  They have no estimate on when repairs will happen, so we can’t even set a new time, they’ll call when the machine is up and running again.  When I expressed my dismay, the receptionist promised to talk to the professor and see if we can get permission to do the tests at the hospital instead.  She’ll call me back when she has more information.  Luckily, the past week has been pretty much OK, but the week before that the vertigo was really making itself a nuisance.

The socks have been sailing along.  Finished both heels and started up the cuffs.

toe up taat flkh finished

The fit is amazing, and the socks are very comfy.

toe up taat starting cuff

(Partner made the comment that these are much too pretty to wear on the feet, they should be hung on the wall as art!  I refrained from making a rude retort and kept on knitting…)

Knitting well up the cuff I again tried one on…and disaster.  Somehow on one cuff I managed to make not one but two accidental yarnovers – just a couple of stitches apart, and it looked like a vampire had made two little holes above my ankle.  I was already inches past that point, and I hadn’t noticed the change in stitch count.

I tried dropping one of the stitches down to the yarnover hole, hoping that I could ease the slack from the resulting ladder into the stitches alongside it.  No such luck with this fabric.  Plus the other yarnover is only two or three stitches to the side, and dropping that stitch as well would make the ladder impossible to smooth out.

toe up taat cuff disaster

So….nothing to do but tink.  In the picture above I’d tinked a few rows already.  From both socks.  Since they’re two at a time.  I’m considering somehow just tinking the one sock, but that would require careful counting, and concentration is not at a high right now.   But still – better one than two, much less discouraging and less chance of error as well.

The momentum has definitely been disrupted.  Dagnabbit,  Fie.  Piffle.

Yes, I could have just ignored it and carried on, but those two holes would have driven me batty.  Battier.  Hmph.

Let’s see the week getting better, please.


Do mice have waists?

April 28, 2015

Our little Mousey has had an operation.  The catbeast managed to rip a big hole at her waist (or whatever that general area is called in mice) while trying to get at the catnip inside.  I discovered the patient after finding said catbeast attempting to lick a clump of stuffing.  Which was quite a sight in and of itself.  She desperately wanted to taste it but the stuffing evidently was very unpleasant on her tongue.  Which did seem to confuse her and left her tongue hanging in limbo while she tried to figure out her next move.  Sorry I didn’t manage to grab a photo of that.

The operation went well, although the stitches were not sewn with beauty in mind.  And our catnippy little household rodent will carry a scar.

mousey post op

Catbeast was quite anxious throughout the surgery, sitting facing me and not taking her eyes off of Mousey for even one second.  She was quite happy to immediately take over supervising Mousey’s post-op recovery.

mousey post op with catbeast

Let us hope that Mousey will not suffer any further injuries.

Order from Chaos

April 26, 2015

I’m on a yarn diet.  Trying to knit from my stash.  Which is really not that big of a problem, given that my queue is longer than my life expectancy, but it does become an issue when I’m asked if I want to test knit something by one of  my favourite designers and discover that nothing is really suitable…  So I have been testing less.  :-(

Actually I’m focusing on two major tasks:

1.  Block all the things that are finished except for blocking.  (I’m a little embarrassed to admit how many of those there are…)  There are some really lovely unblocked items in the cupboard and I want them wearable!

2.  Reduce the number of WIPs in the WIP basket.  Some have been there for way too long.

Task One.  Blocking.  I started with two in the pile…

I finally blocked my Sea Dreams of Gold

2015-03-13 16.08.33

sea dreams FO 1

This has already been worn and admired, and I love it.    Success!

And I reblocked my Algonquin,

2015-03-16 14.57.26

and got a very, very nasty shock.

Algonquin disaster

Yes, my gorgeous soft lace scarf has two big holes in it!!  I don’t know how or when it happened, because I checked not too long ago, but I am heartbroken.  I have carefully wrapped it up and put it away until I can decide what to do with it.  I’m not sure I have the yarn to repair it…I may fix it with other yarn and then knit something to sew over it, as an embellishment.  But I’m too upset to decide now.  (Imagine the violin music here…)  Sniff, sniff.

On to Task Two.  The WIP basket.

This is the basket:

WIP Basket

The green basket with all the project bags is the WIP basket.  (The blue basket underneath it is the Queue basket – projects not yet started that have the patterns and yarn ready and set aside.)


Starting with the project with a deadline – the Monsterpants! were finished and sent off to London.

Monsterpants FO

Because every baby should have a monster on its bum, right?  Got a text from the recipient’s mum:

Thank you SO much for the amazingly amazing monster bum pants!!!!! We LOVE them! It’s his first hand knitted clothing! It’s so nice of you and they really look professional!!! Love, (the whole family) xxxx

I had a lot of fun with these.  Many thanks to Ayelet in my Stitch-n-Bitch who was the first in the group to knit these for her little one.  However, note to self:  When doing colourwork with a lot of colour changes, WEAVE IN THE FREAKIN’ ENDS AS YOU GO!!!!

monster unwoven

Next out of the basket, I’m again working on the Mayflower socks after taking a break with them.  Finished one, started the second, and have made one of the flowers to sew on the stems.

mayflower left sock             mayflower 1st flower

Current in-front-of-the-TV project is once again the Op Art throw

op art 1

The rounds are getting l-o-n-g.  And there are many more to go.  I have also taken the note above to heart and have been weaving in the ends….  I want to cuddle up with this when I knit!

I have also dug out my first pair of magic-loop toe-up two-at-a-time socks, which have been hibernating for several years because I was having trouble figuring out when to begin the heel and just put them aside.  Patterned yarn, plain vanilla socks.

toe up taat ml socks

I have since made other toe up socks with no trouble, but these were just languishing away.  Then recently I bought the Fish Lips Kiss Heel instructions, and realized that this would be the perfect project to try it out with!  Kidlet helped me make a foot template (I made one for her too), and this is the current take-along project.  I’ve now finished the first heel and have started the second.

toe up taat 1st FLKH

I’m slowly (s-l-o-w-l-y) making some progress with the infinity scarf that kidlet requested (and selected the yarn for herself – malabrigo lace – the kid’s got taste).  No pictures, because she may well see the blog, so here’s a yummy shot of the yarn:

malabrigo lace emerald

Once these are done, there are plenty more projects in the WIP basket to be chosen next.

Of course, even with the best intentions, there have been some new projects begun (and even completed), but they don’t belong in the two categories I’m dealing with here.  There are always exceptions, right?  You’ll hear all about them too.

And I’ve been doing a lot of designing, getting things test knitted and published, and that’s a whole new story.

I doubt the WIP basket will ever be totally empty.  Some things from the Queue basket may find themselves moving up.  And there are a couple of KALs calling to me…

But I feel like I’m accomplishing something, so don’t burst my illusion with reality, OK?


Scratch it off the list…

April 25, 2015

One of our favourite restaurants has met a nasty fate.  It has been sold to new owners who don’t quite seem to know what they want to do with it.

We didn’t know it had changed hands.  We had decided that after I had been sick in bed for the entire Pesach holiday that we would treat ourselves to a family night out.  So we chose a place that has been the site of many a meal with friends, a few celebrations, even a catered party once.   It was always packed, so we debated ordering a table, but then decided that we would go early before the rush and hope for the best.

Our first clue that change had been afoot was when we arrived and saw that in the large spacious dining room there was exactly… one table occupied.  Also immediately apparent was the absence of the long thick wooden trestle tables and benches – instead were more utilitarian cafeteria tables and chairs and brighter lighting.  Kid was dismayed that the computer screens with menu, quizzes, and other interesting things were no longer on the wall at each table.  Well, change can also be good, we decided to sit down and check out the menu.

The range of dishes on the new menu was just as varied and elegant as the former incarnation of the restaurant.  We were encouraged.  So far we had only seen one waitress, she was very friendly.  There were sounds from back in the kitchen, and there was a boy about 15 hauling boxes.  OK.

When we ordered water for the table, they brought out a lovely glass bottle with ice water and glasses for everyone.  But when partner asked for a separate bottle of mineral water, the waitress brought her another smaller glass bottle with no label, already opened and about 2/3 full.  Huh?  Then things took a turn for the worse when partner and I ordered cocktails as well as entrees.  After discussing the options on the menu, and thinking that at $11 each the cocktails were a bit pricey, I ordered a mojito and partner went for a margarita.  The waitress wrote them down looking a little apprehensive.  Then I realized there was no one behind the bar.  The waitress disappeared into the kitchen, perhaps to consult with the fellow there, then came back out and snagged the kid who looked about 15 and pushed him behind the bar.  Uh oh.

While we waited for the food our cocktails were served.  Despite the different orders, we were given the exact same thing.  (Um….they both start with the letter M?)   After tasting them, we managed to pretty much figure out what they were:  a lot of tap water, ice, a small splash of some sort of unidentified alcohol (neither rum nor tequila), and some chopped up lemons and mint.  Uh, no.  No, no, no.  Partner firmly informed the waitress that this was certainly not a margarita.  I asked the waitress what brand of rum was in my drink and she looked like a deer caught in the headlights, and stammered “Just rum”.  They tried again for a margarita. This time it looked like a margarita, albeit without salt on the rim of the glass – maybe the kid had a picture of what it was supposed to look like.  But it was frothy, sweet, and had an overwhelming taste of…dish soap.  One sip and partner gagged and covered her mouth.  The waitress quickly came and swept both “cocktails” from the table, looking a little affronted that we hadn’t appreciated their efforts.  She told us that they would not be included on our bill.  Wise move.  (If you aren’t sure about serving drinks because there’s no one there at the time who knows how, say so!!!!)

Luckily, when the food came it was delicious!  More expensive (with less food) than most of the other restaurants in the area, but very tasty.  Granted, my three lamb chops with half a roasted potato cut into wedges and a tablespoon of vegetables was a wee bit skimpy for the overblown price, but it was arranged very artistically.  Kid and her boyfriend were very satisfied with their meals, and partner said her fish was full of bones but well seasoned and very good.

We were a bit confused by the assortment of pickled salads they brought to the table.  With hummus or skewers they would have been perfect, but they didn’t really go with the sea bream,  lamb chops or other entrees.

While we were there, the folks at the other table left, and one other table had customers when we left.

Final verdict?  We won’t be going back there.  Sad, because we loved that place.  They do have a good chef.  And I really hope that they either remove the drinks menu or hire an actual bartender.   If they’re around that long.


Running to stay in place

April 21, 2015

Time is again moving much too quickly.  Events, experiences, the days just crash and blur and pile up upon each other in an untidy mess.

The vertigo is back.  Not as bad as the episode that put me in the hospital for four days last summer, but enough to disrupt plans and activity.  Because all of the tests that were done in the hospital and since – like CT scans, MRI, Doppler, etc – have been just fine, my doctor sent me to an otoneurologist, a specialist in all kinds of vestibular disorders.  I was lucky enough to get an appointment with the top guy in this field in the country, a professor who has spearheaded the study and treatment of vertigo and other balance dysfunction and dizziness.  So…he was very nice, very serious, asked good (and thorough) questions, and actually listened to my answers.  A rare breed of fellow.

From all the data available, he is pretty sure that we’re talking about MAV – migraine associated vertigo, or vestibular migraines.  The migraine headaches are hitting more often than usual as well.  Still, he has scheduled me for an additional series of tests – VNG, or Videonystagmography.  (Don’t ask me to pronounce that…) That’s in another couple of weeks.  So we’ll see what comes of it.

I had a really nasty bout of cold/flu in the midst of all of it, too.  I was in bed for the whole week preceding Pesach.  It was, I think, only the second time in my life I didn’t make it to Seder, which made me feel very sorry for myself.  I’m not a very… um, pleasant person when I’m sick, and this was enough for me to consider putting up a storm warning sign on the front door.  Niece was worried, sent Partner home from the Seder with a big food package for me, which was really a life-saver.  And I think it was the first time since I’ve had my own place – which is (ahem) quite a while now – that my house and kitchen were not ready for Pesach.  All the Pesach dishes and stuff stayed in the cupboard – I cleared one table for Pesach foods, we used plastic plates and utensils, and got through the week.

The worst part of all?  I wasn’t even up for knitting or reading.   So you can imagine what sort of a grump I was.

So I’m glad that’s behind us, and I’ll tell you soon what I’m up to these days!  If they’ll just slow down, sheesh.


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