Sunday, December 03, 2023

 Bitter, bitter cold. The winter of 1962-3, when Helen was born, was one of the bitterest in recent memory — and it started early. 

  I pretty well finished all the Christmas shopping I intend to do. So that’s something. 

  C. came to see me, with her friend Ian, the man to whom we are both forever grateful for driving us to and from Oban for both of our cruises in 2021.

  Knitting continued well. I did only three rows which doesn’t sound like much. But I must remember that although I cast on only 55, and that number remained fairly constant through all those false starts, it is now increasing by rapid, irregular amounts. It is looking well. 

  I finished The Running Grave. I would have enjoyed the denouement more if I had had the characters straighter in my head. I wonder if they’ll televise this one? 

  Wordle: I was today’s dunce with 5. There were 4’s for Alexander, Thomas and Ketki. Mark and Rachel distinguished themselves with 3’s. In DC, Roger was another 4 and Theo is so far silent.

Saturday, December 02, 2023

 Still cold, but perhaps a little less so. We’ve had a quiet day, briefly visited by Helen. They’re having open days at the studios amongst which is the one where she makes mosaics (when she can escape from family responsibilities).

   The Downstairs Lavatory is back in action. Amazing.

   Knitting has progressed peacefully. This thing (Brooklyn Tweed “Spalding”) begins at the neck and is knit downwards. The shoulder shaping is slightly fancy — hence the initial difficulty.

   And I’ve read a lot more of The Running Grave. It has picked up speed since the mid-book slump, without exactly introducing any rabbits or hats. I can’t keep all the names straight and have given up trying. The overall effect is somewhat depressing — or maybe I am feeling low because of immobility and darkness and my old friend’s death. 

   Somewhere — the BBC website, I think — I’ve seen pages of pictures of the Christmas decorations at the White House. I did not notice any hint of ox or ass or even sheep. Is the President’s Catholicism entirely a matter of anti-Englishness?

   Wordle: Ketki and Mark and Roger were the stars today, with three. Alexander and Rachel and I scored four. Thomas and Theo needed five.

Friday, December 01, 2023

 Bitter cold. All’s well. I think we’ve got a functioning downstairs lavatory. Plumbers have been banging away in there all day, and hopeful messages have emerged. Helen has been here all day, too, supervising and encouraging.

  The knitting has gone well. I’m definitely getting the hang of it. The problem is going to be keeping track of which row I’m on. I am determined to be very careful. 

   And I have continued to read The Running Grave. No hats, no rabbits, increasing gloom, but increasing interest as well. Still a long way to go. 

  Wordle: Silence from Alexander today. That’s unusual. Two from Mark, three from me, four for the other Brits. In DC, four for Theo and five for Roger. I have something to say about today’s word but will probably have forgotten by tomorrow. 

Thursday, November 30, 2023

 52% — still no sign of a rabbit. (A reference to JKRowling and The Running Grave and yesterday’s message here.)

   Wafa and I have had a busy-feeling day. The one long-lasting result has been the cranberry sauce. Should I worry about whether it will keep that long? Nobody came to see us.

   Not much knitting, either, because our busy-ness kept us in the kitchen all morning. But I’ve done a bit more. I think I’m past the point of no return. I’ve reached the point, to put it another way, where the knitting itself begins to guide my steps. The instructions remain labyrinthine — “work row 1 of yoke increase row A” and that in turn consists largely of “row 1 of half brioche stitch (flat)”. I think they could have been simplified.

  Wordle: it didn’t seem very easy to me, but we all found it so. My starters gave me two greens. and three browns — a complete anagram

  There were four threes and two fours for the British team. The fours were Alexander and Ketki. In DC Roger swelled the ranks of the threes, and Theo posted a stunning two. 


Wednesday, November 29, 2023

 Cold, very.

  Sylvia’s funeral is tomorrow. This time last week she was busy with Thanksgiving.

   A busy day here. Wafa is back, and has taken over. A nice man has come and exposed the leaking pipe in the downstairs lavatory — remember that? — so that another nice man can come on Friday and mend it. 

  I am continuing to read The Running Grave, the new JK Rowling. I had completely failed to notice how utterly enormous it is. It feels as if I ought to be 75% of the way through at least. The truth is 41%. She had better be lurking with a couple of hats, at least, each containing a first-rate rabbit, or I may be forced to give up.

   Not much knitting. I made a brioche swatch. That helped somewhat. I simplified the make-one-lefts and make-one-rights in the actual pattern. I started yet again. My only ambition now is to progress far enough that I can sweep past mistakes. 

   Wordle: five for me and Roger and Rachel, four for Alexander and Mark, three for Ketki and Thomas. No news from Theo. His mother says that he has not really recovered from the Covid that kept him away from Thanksgiving in London. 

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

 The first thing I did, when I heard of Sylvia’s death, was to write to the third member of the Gang of Three we once formed. Her name is Ann and she lives near Seattle. I didn’t hear from her all day yesterday. I’d know if she were dead, but I feared incapacity. But I heard from her this morning. I had forgotten to allow for the time difference. She’s fine or as fine as anyone is at 90. 

  One of my food magazines in this morning’s post has an interview with Madhur Jaffrey. She shares my birthday — not just day and month but also year. She sounds fitter than I am, but not much stronger. 

  Knitting has progressed. I have embarked on the Spalding, trying to take it an instruction at a time, as advised. The instructions are abundant, in the Brooklyn Tweed fashion. But I don’t think they are as clear as they might be. However, I think I’m getting on top of it. Fifth attempt? Something like that. Half-strength fisherman’s rib is not being done the way I remember. I think it’s best (blind follower that I am) to figure out the instructions and try to follow them, rather than trying at this stage to improve then.

   The yarn is BT’s Tones, two shades of. It’s rather super.

   Bad news and grey skies sent me back last night to my blog entries of a year ago. I’ve lost a surprising amount of ground since then.

  Wordle: four for me today. I was joined there by Rachel, Roger and Theo. Thomas, Mark and Ketki three. Alexander today’s star with a two.

Monday, November 27, 2023

 My friend of 70 years, Sylvia Huntley Horowitz, writes a private blog, available only to subscribers. She is avyear old than I am — we met at Oberlin. But much more active. She lives alone with her cat Frankie, but family lives nearby and she sees them frequently. She hosts a Sabbath meal almost every Friday, for family and occasional rabbis. A five-mile walk every week with fellow-retired-faculty from the local university. And much else. The last message I had from her was on Saturday. Thanksgiving had been cleared away, the good plates washed and dried by hand and carefully replaced in their cupboard. Then a substantial party went out to an Indian restaurant to celebrate her great-grandson Mendel’s second birthday. He cheerfully ate Indian food, Sylvia reported.

  Then in the next few hours she fell and hit her head and had a stroke — I do not know the sequence of those events — and died in hospital a few hours later.

   I am shaken, and very sad. It is, for Sylvia, a very enviable death. But for me another black day in a black season. We've just had my husband’s birthday. We are a couple of days away from the anniversary of saddest day in my family history.  

 I failed at Wordle today, which seems rather appropriate. I achieved grn, grn, ???, ???, grn by line 3, and persistently guessed wrong. Mark had that configuration too, for a while, but shook himself out of it in time to score six. Five for Alexander and Thomas. Four for Rachel, Ketki, Theo and Roger.