Thursday, September 24, 2020


Today’s big excitement was a dental appt. Mostly just the hygienist cleaning my teeth. She surprised me by saying, Saw you on television, and I nearly replied, That wasn’t me, that was my cat.


But of course, she hadn’t seen Perdita and the mosaics, she had seen me. Some years ago, a very few may remember, a photographer-neighbour did a thing for Help the Aged, or some such group, which featured me sitting in the sitting room looking old. They should see me now. I thought it was just for showing at the Annual General Meeting. I often see Justin walking his dogs while I am tottering around the Gardens. I will mention the subject when that next happens.  (Except that now that I have something to say to him, it never will.)


Joni, that was clever of you to work out the actual link from what I posted yesterday. For Perdita and the mosaics, see yesterday’s comment.


Then I saw the dentist, and he said he had seen me on television. He doesn’t live with the hygienist. There is some trouble in one of my teeth, but I told him that nothing was to be done until next time (if then). The problem hasn’t worsened since last time, and he quite won my heart by congratulating me on my diet – no sugar, no bread. Weston’s Vintage Cider, I may assume, isn’t bad for my teeth.




Beverly, I’m sure you’re right. I re-registered in Monmouth County, NJ, in what must have been 2008 and voted for Obama. If I had had the wit to grasp the situation, I could have gone on voting by just requesting a postal ballot each time but I thought, hearing nothing from them, that I had to go through the whole process again. This year everybody has a postal ballot and here is mine. I will certainly send it off soon. I no longer have a post office within tottering distance but something can be done. A taxi, if all else fails. This is important.




Rachel and Ed are going ahead with their visit next week. They will stay in an Airb&b and see me and Helen out of doors. Pretty grim, pretty conscientious. No news from the Majestic Line about the cruise. We’re due to leave 17th October.


I’ve embarked on Mary Lovell’s biography “The Mitford Girls”. I don’t know whether I will persevere to the end, but there were some things I wanted to get straight about childhood. Chloe, I think the level-headed one was Debo, Duchess of Devonshire. The youngest. Certainly the peace-maker. Nancy was the eldest, clever and very funny, but there were difficulties.


In the letters, towards the very end, Diana (the beautiful one) tells Debo that she ought to read more, and recommends some classics. Debo agrees that she doesn’t read and asks, “Am I too late for Proust? I do hope so.”

Wednesday, September 23, 2020


You’ll never guess what arrived in the post today, so I’ll have to tell you. A ballot!


I voted for Obama, registering at my last American address in Monmouth County, NJ. It was hard work. I sort of thought that once I had done it, I would stay registered, but no. I didn’t bother going through it all again last time – I wasn’t all that keen on Hillary. And now this!


I spoke to C. today. She and Manaba (and Christina) are having a tough time. Christina needs total care since her fall from that horse, except that she is able to hobble to the bathroom on her own once she has been helped to her feet. She is still breast-feeding wee Hamish. It is important to her to go on doing it. She blames herself for the disaster, and is suffering as much from that as from her own pain and discomfort. She will see a neurosurgeon soon and the hope will be that the shattered vertebra is mending and that she won’t need surgery.


Knitting progresses well. I am doing the neck ribbing on the EPS sweater. I switched to dp needles and then decided that they were a bit precarious – all those opposite ends for the stitches to slip off of – and switched back to a circular. The stitches aren’t under any stress but they have to be pushed around rather a lot.


Some people were here yesterday to make a rather wonderful little video of Helen as a mosaicist. Perdita has a starring role. Paradox couldn’t have done it half so well. (That link doesn't seem to work. Why not?)


I have started chopping up vegetables to make some kimchi from ingredients obtained during yesterday’s trip to Waitrose. Alas there was only one Chinese (Napa) cabbage, so there won’t be much. I hope to get it salted down this evening.




I’m now down to two Mitford sisters, all the others dead. The survivors are the Duchess of Devonshire and Diana, the widow of the British fascist Oswald Mosley. Those two seem to have been the closest to each other anyway.

Tuesday, September 22, 2020


I had a lovely time in Waitrose this morning, except that I didn’t much enjoy mask-wearing for that length of time. I felt claustrophobic and my glasses steamed up so that I couldn’t read labels on the top shelf. Archie did all the heavy lifting and then we came home to a delicious lunch, a favourite of both, a Nigella Lawson warm salad involving lamb fillet which my excellent local butcher doesn’t sell in that form although I dare say he could produce it if asked.


And its just as well we got that done, because from today we have been forbidden to ride about in each other’s cars. I don’t know how the new semi-clamp down will affect either Rachel and Ed’s visit scheduled for next week (visiting each other’s houses is forbidden in Scotland but not in England) and my cruise now only about three weeks away.


Our Leader is going to address us soon.




I decided that there was no avoiding the trying on of the EPS sweater. And I’ve done it. The sting in the tail, of course, is getting the stitches back on the needle. I’ve done that too. I think I could have managed the whole job by threading half the stitches on to a second circular needle.


The problem was that I still haven’t decreased down to 40% of K, but the faux raglan seams are 10” long and I think I read somewhere that that’s as long as you want to get. However, all seems well. The neck is, indeed, too low and too big, but I don’t see any reason why another inch will do any harm. The yarn is heavenly on the skin. I have forgotten its composition, although I remember that Ginger Twist (local indie LYS) no longer offers it.




Again, thanks for suggestions.


I’m tempted by an omnium gatherum biography of the Mitford sisters, suggested by Amazon. The collection of letters which I am reading is sort of low on event. I’ve now passed the point of Nancy’s death and I fear that things may fall apart without her.


I have on my own shelf a volume of her correspondence with Evelyn Waugh. Maybe I should go on to that. Have I read it? In the end, I finished re-reading “The Loved One”. The second half is funnier and less savage than the first. It’s dedicated to Nancy Mitford.



Monday, September 21, 2020


No exercise, again. Otherwise a good day. The EPS is ready for the fourth episode – the instructions were published in Knitter’s Magazine over the period of a year. I put in two more short rows, to lift the back, and also added two more gradient stripes, just to use up the little bits of yarn. It wasn’t entirely a faultless job.




I’m pressing on with the Mitford sisters. I think I’ve got them all straight now. The most extreme Nazi (the one most convinced of Hitler’s sweetness) shot herself unsuccessfully when war broke out. She was permanently brain damaged. Hitler (sweetly?) arranged for her to be moved to a nursing home in neutral Switzerland whence her mother was able to retrieve her. She lived for several years more, in her mother’s care. And it wasn’t easy.


That still leaves five sisters, one a duchess, one a communist, one the wife of a fairly notorious British Nazi, one a famous novelist, one a cheerful countrywoman, all apparently on reasonably good terms with each other. although there are occasional sparks. Very remarkable. At my present point of reading, they’re middle-aged, and the preceding generation is dying and it’s a bit depressing.


And, speaking of depressing, I fetched Evelyn Waugh’s “The Loved One” down from the shelf yesterday to illustrate a point I was writing to my sister, and went on reading it, for a bit. It’s very short. It’s a savage satire, and very depressing, and I don’t think I’ll finish.


That leaves the books you have recommended, for which I am extremely grateful.


And I’m greatly looking forward to my supermarket outing tomorrow.

Sunday, September 20, 2020


There is little to report. Mary Lou, I ordered the new Tana French – but I have to wait until November. I do agree with your friend who wouldn’t be surprised to hear the end of the world announced in tomorrow’s news summary.


No exercise again today – I didn’t feel entirely sound, this morning, and anyway was waiting for a delivery of some frozen food. My friend G. is going to take me to a supermarket on Tuesday. I haven’t been to one for ages, having given up the car. That will be a real treat. And now I have a delicious 48 hours to think of things I might want. It's time to make more kimchi, I think. 


However, I progressed nicely with the yoke of the EPS sweater. I have reached the stage where I was beginning to feel, uneasily, that I really ought to thread it onto waste yarn and try it on. I decided, instead, to hold it up against a finished sweater that more or less fits, and by that measure (Gudrun’s Kirigami) it’s time to put in the short rows to raise the back neck, so I’ll do that tomorrow.




I’m reading the letters of the Mitford sisters to each other. I think I mentioned it before. There are many interesting aspects, but I need something more structured. It is alarming how well-disposed most of them were to Hitler. They were acquainted, and he is referred to as “sweet” more than once. Genuinely, not ironically. I am hard-put to think of another character in history to whom the epithet seems less applicable. Genghis Khan? Ivan the Terrible?

Saturday, September 19, 2020


I am grateful to you indeed for reading so valiantly on through yesterday’s bad formatting. I still don’t know what was wrong (nor whether it is now right). I compose in Word, save, copy; and then paste into Blogger. Both programs seemed singularly unco-operative last night.


I’ve had a good day, knitting-wise and otherwise-wise, but not exercise. A dear friend whom I haven’t seen for a while came around. She has a yappy dog. Perdita sat on a windowsill and frowned at it. (Perdita does frowning well.) Paradox disappeared for hours. G. and I talked.


And the yoke of the EPS sweater is well advanced. Arne and Carlos have started doing a “Sit and Knit a Bit with A&C” podcast. I discovered that it is indeed pleasant to do just that. Both have been ill with Covid-19, Carlos severely so. These podcasts are meant to be every Wednesday, I believe. No instruction, no pattern-launches, just chat. In fact, I suspect that there is nothing else I want them to tell me about patterns. I have several of their books. I love Norwegian sweaters. But their recent designs don’t seem to add anything.




Britain’s situation seems to be getting rather briskly worse. Rachel and Ed are planning to come up from London for a visit at the end of the month, which is of course almost upon us. And C. and I are meant to be going on a little cruise in the middle of next month. Will either happen?




After my Cormoran Strike binge, I was somewhat bereft. I read Jessica Mitford’s “Hons and Rebels” with pleasure – she was the left-wing Mitford. What an extraordinary family! G. offered a title this morning which she said her mother (my age!) recommends. I'll have a look.

Friday, September 18, 2020

Don't know what's wrong. Re-starting the computer hasn't helped. I'll try again tomorrow. We had another beautiful day – it’s a bit too early, perhaps, to speak of Indian Summer. I did my lap of the garden, all unassisted. And I sped round the yoke of the EPS. It won’t take much longer. I had an early nap today, and thus caught an item about knitting on Woman’s Hour. It wasn’t very good. The famous presenter (Jenni Murray) clearly didn’t know the first thing about knitting. Susan Crawford (Shetland Knitting Project) was there but didn’t get a chance to say much. The idea was that farmers don’t make enough from selling wool to pay for the shearing. That’s been the case for years, with breeds like the Scottish blackface. Their wool used to provide carpet backing, but carpets are now backed with acrylic and woven on the continent. I would have liked to hear how farmers are getting on who grow wool that knitters want to knit with. Kate Davies’ new Schiehallion yarn, for instance, is 70% Corriedale and 30% Cheviot. (Merino sheep, I gather, have delicate chests which make them unsuitable for the British climate.) But the notion of differences in wool between one breed of sheep and another wasn’t touched upon in the item on Woman’s Hour, so the whole thing was rather pointless. Maybe I’ll have to buy a Schiehallion kit, just to do my bit for British sheep farmers. I’m greatly looking forward to our club. Politics A dangerous subject. You’re all going to want to shoot me. I’m sure you know that, in reference to the horrible wildfires on the west coast, Biden has been talking about the need to pay serious attention to climate change and Trump has recommended forest management. I’m afraid I think Trump is right. Climate change needs to be paid attention to. But doing so is not going to improve things this year or next year or for a while. Whereas getting in there and removing the trees that have died of drought in the last 10 years is likely to help right away. Meanwhile Kamala (whom I greatly admire) is complaining that air pollution affects black people disproportionately. And she’s probably right. But that’s not what we were talking about. Addressing climate change will eventually improve air pollution. But it can be improved by other means more rapidly, as well.