Monday, February 28, 2022


A depressing day, feeling as if everything is wrong, quite apart from the new fear of nuclear annihilation. C. has a cold, and stayed away for my sake. I didn’t go out: the hip was painful. Daniela gave me a massage; that helped. Helen came to see me this afternoon. She says the principal British supplier of mosaic materials is closing down – she doesn’t know what she will do. Other British mosaicists write to her for advice, and she has none to give. She also says that the Black Sea Trade and Development Bank, for which her husband works in Thessaloniki, finds that all its work is drying up,  although for the moment the bank survives, and with it David’s job. When she left, I set to trying to buy “Strong Woman Stay Young” on your recommendation, Joni, and kept getting bizarre messages from Amazon (whom I use at least once a week, not only for books but for most of the other necessities of life) about the need to correct my address. I persevered; at last it accepted the order.


These events are totally unrelated but combine to create a feeling of unease.


Jenny, you’re probably right (comment yesterday) that I should see a dr about my hip. I fear he might recommend replacement, which I certainly don’t want, but it’s not a good idea to jump to conclusions.


On a brighter note, Wordle in five today, and there is only one more increase to do before it will be time for the lower border of the second cross-over front of the Aroon baby sweater. I did order Cully Swanson’s “Complete Surprise”. No difficulty with the address that time. I also received Lynn Barr’s scarf book, and enjoyed renewing my acquaintance with it.

Sunday, February 27, 2022


We had a beautiful spring day today – March, in fact, often comes in like a lamb and goes out like a lion, contrary to its reputation. Helen and I got across the road and into the garden, but not much further. I have trouble with my left hip; it was much sorer than usual today. So we limped home.


I receive almost daily communications from the Harvard Medical School recommending that I buy one or other of their “courses” on various physical problems. Today it was knees and hips, so I bit. I wasn’t impressed. First of all, they asked for a zip code along with my credit card details. Why on earth? I had already supplied a terrestrial address which made it clear that I lived in a country other than the USofA. I finally gave up on that one and supplied my sister’s zip code, with which they were perfectly happy. And secondly, the “course” itself was singularly lacking in helpful suggestions about painful hips. Swimming was recommended.


Wordle in four. I watched a Fruity Knitting in which I wasn’t very interested because a lot of it was about embroidery – but it was perfect to knit to, because I didn’t need to look at it much, and I got quite a bit done.


I thought a bit about what to knit next – something for the baby wee Hamish will be the big brother of in August. If the sex is known, Christina and Manaba will keep it to themselves. I went to the Schoolhouse Press for inspiration, and found the answer as soon as I walked in the virtual door: a baby surprise. I haven’t knit one of those for a long time, and it’s very good fun. And of course a brilliant stash-buster. Do I want Cully Swansen’s book “A Perfect Surprise”?  It’s rather expensive, but… I was interested to learn – I must already have known and forgotten – that it was for him that the very first one was knitted, by his grandmother EZ.


Saturday, February 26, 2022


France beat Scotland by a rather embarrassing number of points. Wales are now playing England but I don’t feel strong enough to watch, or terribly interested.


Still, I got Wordle in three and there was mention in this morning’s newspaper about how difficult yesterday’s was. It was VIVID – the double use of both I and V was what made it hard, so I feel all right about my score of six. Indeed, rather pleased to have got it.


Helen came, and we got around the garden, not without effort and perhaps for the first time since Monday. I had a burst of unreflecting optimism the other day: the snowdrops are beginning to look shop-worn; the daffodils are coming up strongly behind them. Soon, I thought, it will be full-scale spring and I will feel stronger too. Only, alas, the chances are good that I won’t.


I got some knitting done, as hoped, during the rugby. I’m doing the second cross-over front on the Aroon baby-jacket, and doing the increases for the slope in this direction isn’t quite as easy as it was for the first side. But I think I’m getting the hang of it.


Kate Davies’ “Argyll’s Secret Coast” club has produced another good pattern – a many-coloured stranded hat called The Queen of Auchtachoan. I even wondered for a moment whether I wanted to send for a kit. But it’s expensive, and I’ve got too long a list of must-knits. I remain tempted, too, by the two-sided cable scarf which was last week’s pattern. There has been no essay yet for this week.


Last week’s essay was about the remains of a ruined village. We’ve got one of those on the outskirts of Kirkmichael, and other ruined houses as well. I hope there’s some speculation, at least, about their history in our now 60-year accumulation of family observations and notes.


And speaking of 60 years: Chloe, Helen greatly enjoyed your comment on Thursday -- “Oh to be 60 again!” She’s just had that birthday.

Friday, February 25, 2022


The BBC has a huge team in the Ukraine, and the same must be true of every other news-gathering organisation in Europe and some beyond. How are they to be extracted?


It was a brisk and pleasant early spring day, but C. and I  didn’t get very far. At least, outside the door. 

Wordle took me all six guesses today. It was rather a tricky one, although perfectly fair (=not obscure, like “agora”; not slang; not British). And I got on reasonably with the knitting, starting down the second side of the cross-over chest of the Aroon. Another weekend of rugby looms (France is here) – maybe I’ll make some real progress.


I think Feliway – is that what it’s called? – may be doing Perdita some good. She’s spending more time out and about with the rest of us, instead of skulking in the spare room, and her tummy looks better.



Thursday, February 24, 2022


A sad day for the world.


The weather has been cold and hostile here, with a powdering of snow at first. I didn’t walk. The tax accountant came back with lots of returns for me to sign. Once I’ve paid her – no small amount – that should be that, tax-wise, for nearly a year. It’s a good feeling. Helen has recently exercised her Enduring Power of Attorney and now has access to my bank accounts. She is going to go up to the splendid Royal Bank of Scotland branch in St Andrew Square and pay what the accountant says I owe the Queen. That will be strangely easier than doing it myself on the computer. But it still left me too flat to slog around Drummond Place Gardens.


I finished that first front of the Aroon jacket at last.


It took me all six guesses to get Wordle this morning. I saw some headlines as I was firing it up which suggested that some people disapproved of today’s word because it was too British. I disapproved because it was too slang-y. It’s not a word I would ever use.


Helen pointed out this morning that she was nearly as old as my husband was when he retired. It’s a disconcerting thought, and even more true of her sib (Helen is the youngest). Alexander’s 62nd birthday looms – he’s the one who has never been forgiven for not being born on the 29th of February.

My land line is still not working, I don't even know how to approach the problem, but I realised today that I had better figure it out and do it, because if it isn't working my falls alarm -- I wear it around my neck -- isn't either. 





Wednesday, February 23, 2022


Tuesday, February 22


There is little to report. Wordle in four. (The site says I now have a winning streak of five – and that that’s the longest I’ve ever had. So the pressure will be on, tomorrow.) My new accountant came to see me – with Helen for support – and showed me a lot of paper which proved, she said, that I owe a lot of tax. I don’t understand why they never ask me for it, if that is so. I believe Alexander is coming to see me tomorrow, and I can ask him about it.


In the afternoon Archie came, in order to be here when the graphics card arrived. As he was.


I’ve done a bit more knitting, and am ready for the border at the bottom of the first of the cross-over fronts of the Aroon jacket.


I wrote that much last night, and then forgot to post it. You didn’t miss much.


Alexander came to see me today. He brought a little tub of kimchi which Ketki had bought for me on the Byres Road. I used to push her husband along it in his pram, before kimchi was invented (or at least, before it was heard of) and before the Byres Road had chi chi shops. As it happened, I had put some of my latest batch of kimchi into an empty mustard pot to give Alexander, so we exchanged kimchis.


Wordle in four, so my winning streak is extended. It sounds as if Alexander always wins. And he thinks it’s quite normal for the income tax man not to ask me for the money I owe. It seems odd to me. Why don’t I just drift happily on, and leave them to settle up when I’m dead? I can’t do that, now that an accountant is involved. He also thought it was perfectly normal for my Visa card provider to query a small payment to GiffGaff (to keep my mobile telephone going) and nod through the purchase of a computer graphics card.


I’ve done a little more knitting: I’ve reached, but not finished, the border at the bottom of the first of the Aroon fronts





Monday, February 21, 2022


Else and Anonymous (comments yesterday): You’re right, Lynne Barr’s Knitting New Scarves is the book I was trying to remember. I knew as soon as I read your comments, because I have a friend whose name is Chris Barr. (We hear a lot about Artificial Intelligence these days. I think the human brain will stay ahead as long as it can make completely illogical and correct leaps like that one.) It’s not on my scarf shelf, and I haven’t consulted it for years, so I ordered another. It was pretty cheap on Amazon because several libraries were de-accessioning it.


When I am gathered to my reward, which can’t be far off now, if my children notice duplicate copies when they are clearing the house, they will think, poor old thing, she forgot she had it and bought another. Not a bit of it: she knows she has it, and is desperate to consult its pages. Drop Dead Easy Knits is another of which I have two: I was desperate in that case, I think, to knit Mary Lou’s Pollywog pattern again.


My card seems to be functioning again. (See Thursday the 17th) I ordered a graphics card for Archie today. He’s going to pay me back in instalments. You’d think if the Accts Dept were on the ball, they’d wonder why a blameless old woman in Drummond Place wanted a graphics card. It wasn’t cheap.


I spent some more time with the new Gaughan book. It gets more and more interesting. But for us mortals, EZ is much more use. But I love Meg’s anecdote in her book Knitting, introducing the Box-the-Compass sweater. EZ had the idea of rotating the four raglan seams of her EPS sweater so that they ran up the sleeve top, and mid-front and mid-back. She went ahead and knit a whole adult sweater. Her idea  worked fine on the sleeves “but the centers front and back stood out in sharp cone-shaped points. Even in the face of that physical evidence – so unused was she to being wrong – Elizabeth came up and patted me on the breastbone. ‘Oh, that’ll block out,’ she said. Nuh-uh.”


No knitting again today – but I got around the garden with Daniela, and I got Wordle in three again. Pure luck: my starter word produced one brown tile. I tried another starter in the second row, and got two more browns. In the third row I thot I’d try one of my browns in the first place – it can be useful to know the starting letter. I managed to think of a word that did that and also incorporated the other two. Bingo! But pure luck.


I heard from my sister today. She and her husband are in a retirement community in DC. She says she is under a lot of pressure to try Wordle but is so far resisting. That must be true of many of you, and you must forgive me if you can for rabbiting on about it.



Sunday, February 20, 2022


Wordle in three this morning, and I sort of see what you people mean about algorithms. I have five possible starters, and today chose the one which proved to be the most useful for today’s word – pure luck. It gave me two greens and a brown. I thot the brown was almost certainly in box 2, but wasted a whole guess in establishing that fact, and eliminating another consonant. Then it was simply a matter of finding any word which fitted my three greens. But if I had been brave enough to assume that that brown was in square 2 – it had to be, and it was – I might have had it in two.


Not too bad a day. C. came, and we got around the garden. But no knitting at all. Maybe later.


Knit, Fold, Pleat, Repeat: It’s fascinating. Highly recommended. I doubt if I’ll ever knit from it – no more than I have from her cable or travelling stitch books, which are high on my list of the most important books on my shelves. She starts with a rectangle…


Each pattern is followed by a page or two headed “Design your own”. You flatter us, Norah. What those pages provide is a blow-by-blow of Norah’s own struggles with that design, and they’re fascinating. We’ve got to swatch, again and again.


The book reminded me strongly of something I used to have, and to knit from: a book of bizarre and interesting scarves. But I can’t pin it down in memory, and I can’t find it amongst my scarf books. Maddening.


Kate Davies’ pattern for club members thus week is another good one. And the essay about an abandoned village on the Cowel peninsula is also good.


My (currently) youngest great-granddaughter was christened yesterday. Rachel sent pictures of many little girls whom I don’t recognise, but I think I can assure you that this is the star of the day, with her parents Joe and Becca:





Saturday, February 19, 2022


When I log on here from my iPad, there are my coloured squares recording yesterday's struggle with Wordle. Here on the (admittedly rather antique) laptop, we have only empty squares. One day I must try doing Wordle in here, but I prefer to go on with it as now, hunched over my breakfast with the iPad. I got it on the 6th try, this morning.

 Elizabeth (comment yesterday) I cannot imagine a strategy which would make it boring: it’s such a brilliant blend of luck and vocabulary. I used "lipid" as one of my buesses yesterday -- I don't even know what it means. It has occurred to me that “train” should be a pretty good starter – two vowels, and all the consonants are in the first half of the letter-frequency alphabet.


It looked like quite a nice day out there, but I stayed in. I had a restless and uncomfortable night last night, and was feeling weaker even than usual. Knitting progressed well, but there are still two or three more increases to do.


Amazon has just delivered “Knit, Fold, Pleat, Repeat” along with my month’s ration of Weston’s Vintage Cider. (My new system, mentioned recently, is not to keep cider in the house except for the monthly Amazon delivery of what amounts to about a week’s supply – and of course it will last longer, if I drink less per day.) Both had been promised for tomorrow. So soon I will go off and read the one while sipping the other with my supper. I’ll report on the book tomorrow, insh’Allah.


Friday, February 18, 2022

Wordle 244 5/6

Today, Friday. 






That represents my Wordle effort for today. I succeeded in pasting the grid for my result into a clipboard, and from there, here. But as you see, on this laptop some vital information is missing. I called up Wordle on the laptop, in order to try again, and found it completely blank -- it didn't recognise me. So the only thing to do would be to play on the laptop in the morning, and then try to do the clipboard trick here. Too much trouble. I got it in five today, as you see. 

Today was pleasantly calm, after yesterday’s excitements. The cat litter was delivered. C. came, and we got around the garden. The storms which are buffeting much of GB have on the whole stayed away from Edinburgh.


I have but 8 or 9 more increases to do on the front of the Aroon. Next, of course, will be the other front. Resolve to finish the first one tomorrow.


I have ordered Norah Gaughan’s “Knit, Fold, Pleat, Repeat.” It’s coming on Sunday, Amazon says. I stumbled across it somewhere. Now that I no longer receive either VK or Interweave – it wasn’t my idea; they just faded away – I fear I’m not up to date on new books. I’m a passionate Gaughan fan. Amazon was offering a few pages of preview, as they sometimes do; enough to establish that I want it. I want VK, too. I ought to be able to re-establish contact.



Thursday, February 17, 2022


I have had a stressful day because my Visa card stopped working, the one I use for Amazon and Paypal. I knew there was plenty of money to back it up, and feared I had been hacked. I emailed the provider, who emailed straight back to say that she had tried to phone me and couldn’t. My landline turned out to be down – indeed, it still is. We  got things straightened out by mobile – the Accts. Dept. had queried a payment of mine and stopped the card. It was a small payment and seemed to me no more eccentric than a lot of the things I spend money on, but there’s no accounting for Accts. Depts. All is now said to be well, but I will let the card rest for a couple of days to get its breath back. I will do the same with the telephone – maybe it will recover when the weather calms down.


The cancelled payment to Amazon which started all the fuss was for a monthly delivery of cat litter. I have paid for it with a different card – some things are really serious.


It has been just the sort of stressful day that usually makes me grateful for a restoring draft of cider – but there is no cider here and I have come through pretty well without it.


Helen and I got around the garden this morning in between squally showers. I failed Wordle – although I got four of the five letters, in their right places. This sort of situation is not infrequent in Wordle. There were a number of different words which might have provided the final answer, and no way to choose except by guesswork. I might have got “agora” the other day but I was on the “aroma” path, and just as well: I got it after getting RO in the right place. For “agora” I would have had only the O, and the news that R was somewhere else. (Comments yesterday)


And the knitting, despite all the excitements of the day, progresses well. I need 43 increases to finish that first sloped front, and I’ve passed 30. The trouble is that each row is longer than the preceding one, so that score isn’t quite as good as it sounds.


No rugby this weekend, and just as well – we are expecting another storm tomorrow, even worse than before.

Wednesday, February 16, 2022


Hamlet to Polonius:


“Use every man after his desert and who should ‘scape whipping? Use them after your own honour and dignity. The less they deserve, the more merit is in your bounty.”


That’s a propos yesterday’s comments, of course. I continue to feel a good deal more sorry for Harry Dunn’s parents than for either Prince Andrew or Virginia Giuffre.


Change of topic: when I was young, in the early ‘50’s, airplanes were beginning to take over from trains, in the US, as the way to get from one place to another. And the trains used to advertise: “You go, weather or no.” Today we are having a forecast storm, and all the trains in this part of Scotland stopped an hour and a half ago. When I sat down here, that seemed wholly absurd, but the wind is getting more noisy now. Weather forecasting is a lot better than it used to be.


It wasn’t bad at all this morning, and Helen and I got around the garden. She had just driven David to the airport. He should have been well away before the storm. We occupied ourselves wondering how I will manage when Daniela goes to Rumania for her summer holiday. Helen will be teaching mosaic-making on top of Mount Pelion when that happens.


I failed at Wordle. I got the first two letters.


But I did advance the knitting. Here it is:

Love that semi-solid yarn!

Tuesday, February 15, 2022


A trickle of possibly good news from the Ukraine and a settlement for Prince Andrew which could have been a lot worse: an evening, therefore, of modified rapture. Prince Andrew is an ass, but I am a passionate royalist and wish him well. He’s got out of his mess without having to admit that he knows his accuser – which he has always denied, despite That Photograph – still less that he “abused” her.


Wordle in four. No walk, because of my bath. (I did walk yesterday, and forgot to mention it.) Some knitting, although not as much as I should and could have done. I must press on.

Monday, February 14, 2022


Wordle on the 5th go, again. At that stage, I can usually win if I can think of any word which satisfies the parameters – which letters aren’t in it, which are in but in unknown positions. Usually there’ll be at least one right-letter-in-right-place. It’s a perfect little puzzle, much quicker to do than a Sudoku or a crossword or even a hand of Freecell.


Jenny, my Kate Davies essay turned up, too, after I had switched the computer off. And it was interesting, as you say, although I wish I didn’t know about the death of the 1st Duke of Argyll.


I did a bit less Aroon today, but I’m still moving steadily forward. I’m over the first shoulder and beginning to increase for the wrap-over front. It’s a very neat increase: on every right-side row, k2 and then knit into the front leg of the stitch below the next stitch on the left-hand needle. I don’t know what’s happened to my katcha-katcha, an invaluable tool, but I can make do by counting the stitches.


Tamar, you’re absolutely right about hats, quick to knit, always useful. Gloves are far too fiddly; even mittens. Socks, although I knit lots, and although I find them ideal for travel knitting, take too long. I like plenty of sock. Hats are perfect for instant, useful gratification. Woolly Wormhead has devoted her career to them, and is still thinking of new ideas.

Sunday, February 13, 2022


Wordle in five, this morning. (Six is the maximum allowed.) No walk – I was on my own, and I don’t think I’m entirely safe these days, out walking alone. It was a fairly filthy day anyway, dark and wet. My dear cheetah cubs were indoor at mid-morning, DC time, from which I deduce that the weather wasn’t very nice there either. They’re brave about snow.


The knitting went forward well. I’ve reached the shoulders and begun some neck shaping. Progress is gratifying. Maybe I should knit more baby clothes.


The weekend hasn’t produced the expected geographical essay from Kate Davies, unless googlemail has made off with it. We had a long essay about creativity which I didn’t read much of.


Saturday, February 12, 2022


I got Wordle in three this morning – good luck, rather than good management.


On the other hand, we’ve got another weekend of international rugby in progress: Scotland lost to Wales by a fingernail. France were leading Ireland the last I heard, but I’m not strong enough to watch it. England will beat Italy tomorrow: poor Italy never win.


Scotland-Wales was good for knitting. I’m now within two inches of the shoulder of Mary Lou’s “Aroon”. One starts at the lower back.  Paradox is in heat. One of her symptoms is that she carries knitting around the house like surrogate kittens. I had trouble yesterday, although no lasting damage was done.  I put it away more cautiously this evening.


Helen’s husband David is here for a few days. He came to see me this morning, while Helen taught a mosaic class. We got around the garden. It was another vernal day. I felt – I feel -- feebler than ever. David works for the Black Sea Trade and Investment Bank in Thessaloniki. He says that both Russia and Ukraine are among its sponsors (or even: are its sole sponsors?) so he wonders what effect world affairs are going to have on him.


Friday, February 11, 2022


That was better. Sunny and cold, again. C. came. We made the effort, and got out, and all the way around the garden. Once out there, despite the cold, it felt like spring. The light is returning by handfuls, although I think I read somewhere that it is only a minute and a half a day.


And Hermes delivered those knitting needles. Wordle defeated me, though.


“Aroon” progresses nicely, although its new Lykke needle hasn’t really made all that much difference to the experience of knitting it, which was already pleasant. I am (just about at/just short of) the first staging post, where my only task is to insert markers and then knit straight on.


Today’s pattern in Kate Davies’ Argyle club is a super double-sided cabled scarf, modelled by an equally super young man. KD says that he will contribute this weekend’s essay about the Argyll coast. I do like cables, and long scarves.


Marilyn Nance (comment Wednesday): I’ll investigate Feliway spray. Can't I just spray it at the cat? My package has arrived from Amazon (as always) but I haven’t opened, let alone deployed, it, and now I don’t know where Daniela has put it.


Thursday, February 10, 2022


A colder, showery day, still with sunshine. Again I didn’t walk. Not good.


And the knitting needles didn’t come. Also not good. I’ve had a message from a delivery company called Hermes saying that there was a “problem” with delivering my package on Tuesday (presumably the needles – I don’t think I’m expecting anything else) and that they would try again the next day, namely Wednesday. But they didn’t. I have decided that my simplest course of action is to wait until Monday and then alert the sender. I’ll probably get them in the end.


Meanwhile I have started Mary Lou’s “Aroon” pattern on an inferior needle, and am sailing ahead. It starts with a narrow border of garter stitch in the contrast colour, then switches to st st in the main colour and one knits peacefully on. The garter stitch border is – predictably – flipping up, but I suspect blocking will take care of that and there may be some twists and turns of the pattern to tame it before then. I haven’t read it through (potential fatal mistake, but I’ve knit Mary Lou’s patterns before and trust myself in her hands). I’m very happy with my colours. And it’s nice to be knitting something that gets longer the more I knit. Picture soon.


I finished the new Fruity Knitting. There was nothing of particular interest for me. Andrea is in Australia visiting family. She says she had to make the entire journey, on Emerates, without her knitting. Agony. That has never happened to me, not even when I visited the US fairly soon after nine-eleven, but I stuck to sock-knitting and little wooden needles.

 Of my other on-going stories:

The secret of loading Freecell seems to be to let the computer warm up thoroughly before I try. All is well on that front.

And my salad factory continues active and productive. I was afraid it would be a total waste because I often include salad leaves in my grocery order and let them go bad. But so far I have harvested five or six respectable-sized salads from the Factory and have eaten every bite, with pleasure. There’s not much point in taking pictures any more – the harvests means that it stays pretty much the same size.

Wednesday, February 09, 2022


A pleasant day. I didn’t walk – that was cowardly. Alexander came, and we talked about Wordle. Mercifully, I had done it in four this morning, after a run of failures. It seemed pleasanter to go on sitting there talking. The weather was good. I must exert myself tomorrow.


I continued knitting Machu Picchu, and it continued not to increase in length. My fancy new knitting needles haven’t arrived. Slight stirrings of anxiety. But I found a humble one of the right size and will tomorrow (insh’Allah) cast on Mary Lou’s “Aroon” for the first of the 2022 babies – a seventh London great-granddaughter.


I ordered a Feliway for Perdita, and am pondering where to plug it in. She often sleeps – she did today – half-way along the hall, far from a suitable power point. The closest one would be the one Daniella uses for the ironing. I could put it in the spare room, which Perdita often claims as her own. I’m afraid I don’t believe in Feliway anyway. I’m glad they didn’t prescribe pills, which I would have found it impossible to administer. Or ointment, which might have been bad for Perdita. She would have eluded any protective bandage in order to lick it. I hope she enjoyed the end of yesterday’s ordeal as much as I did.


Helen says her dog Farouk sits down and tips his head back when she tells him it’s time for his pill.


While knitting, I watched Queer Joe, on the “hand” of yarn; Franklin, on life in Paris (he really does seem to be settling in well); and the first portion of the new Fruity Knitting (Andrea is in her native Australia). You’d think that might be enough to get Machu Picchu up to the armhole, but no.


Tuesday, February 08, 2022


Helen and Archie and poor Perdita have gone off to the vet. I wasn’t expected to be of the party. Poor Paradox is most touchingly and most unexpectedly anxious. When they are here together they are largely indifferent to each other. When they do interact, Paradox is a bully and Perdita hisses. But at the moment Paradox is walking anxiously from room to room, meowing. And occasionally coming to ask me, why aren’t you worried?


I felt flattened today. It was bath day, anyway, not one for walking. I feel better now.


Manaba phoned, to tell me that it was all right to use wee Hamish’s picture, and to tell me that he -- Hamish -- is to be a big brother in the summer. Goodness! Knitting!

Later: Perdita is safely home. Her difficulties are said to be due to stress, and I've got to get one of those things you plug in to relieve it (for cats). I used to have one, and am sceptical. 



Monday, February 07, 2022

Daniela and I got around the garden this morning. It’s the first time since the colonography that I’ve made the circuit, and I didn’t entirely expect to finish. So that’s something done.


And I’ve done some more knitting, although the length of the Machu Picchu seems unaffected. Perhaps I’ll get down on the carpet and measure it there. I’m afraid of not being able to get up again, but if I did it in the morning while Daniela is here…


Perdita has got to go to the vet tomorrow, on Helen’s and Archie’s insistence. She needs to have matted fur shaved off her back, and she needs an opinion on her chronic inflamed teats. I am a good deal more anxious and upset than I was for my own procedure recently. Fortunately the cat is spared worry. I am inclined to let Helen (and perhaps Archie) do it without me. It might be easier for them anyway, since I am so feeble.


Daniela has been purging my kitchen of everything past its BBE date, on the grounds that it’s bad for me. Out goes soy sauce, mirin, rice vinegar, and today I discovered myself denuded of mustard. I was planning a Marmite sandwich (Nigella, “How To Eat”) for my supper, and discover with some relief that Marmite (BBE somewhere in 2017) has miraculously escaped.


Temperance: I may have discovered the secret of success: don’t keep Weston’s Vintage Cider in the house. I have a standing order with Amazon to deliver about a week’s worth, once a month. I can’t get more in much less than 48 hours. It’s not in the nearby local shops and Tesvo is too far away. This way, strength of character is not called for.  


Knitting: I forgot to say yesterday that Kate Davies also has a generous-sized cowl in that twisted-stitch argyle pattern. It looks cosy. It’s big enough to pull down over your shoulders, if you aren’t pulling it up around your ears.


Calcutta Cup etc: I’ll ask Christina and Manaba whether it’s all right to use the picture of Hamish as my title-picture. I agree, it would be ideal. I have a feeling that someone said – it must have been C., Hamish’s grandmother – that they try to keep him out of view electronically, for fear of embarrassing him. 

Sunday, February 06, 2022


Well, we won. It was a very exciting match, but curiously unsatisfying. England were the better team for much of the time. A lot hinged on a “penalty try” awarded to Scotland near the end – I didn’t know there was such a thing. Here is wee Hamish, dressed for action:


I am pleased with the result. It’s big enough that there’s a remote chance he can wear it next year. And, as I had hoped, the uneven neck – one shoulder partly opened to make room for his head – is concealed by his shirt collar and hardly matters.


Dawn, you can’t imagine what pleasure your comment gave me yesterday.


So now what? Next is the jacket for the forthcoming great-granddaughter, and after that I’ll knit the legwarmers. Will I label them “’21” as originally intended? Or “’22”? I sort of feel ’22 should have something of its own. A sweater for Helen’s son Fergus, for sitting next to Stuart Hogg on that airplane? And Rachel has put in a bid for socks. Ginger Twist has sent the yarn for Mary Lou’s “Aroon”. It’s a wonderful dark red and I no longer regret not ordering grey. I got it wound yesterday, as well as the old Ginger Twist skein for the contrast – a useful rugby activity. 400 yards takes quite a bit of winding.


I have to confess that I have also ordered some rather elegant-looking needles. So I’ll go on knitting Machu Picchu for a couple of days, hoping that they’ll turn up. If not, I’ll rout around and find something here.


I’m enjoying Kate Davies’ new club, and am much taken with the vest which is this week’s pattern, done with travelling stitches (I’m keen on them) to produce an argyll effect. Lots of things to knit.


And today, of course, is the 70th anniversary of the Queen’s accession to the throne. Pretty remarkable. I remember that day, as I fear I have often told you. I was a sophomore at Oberlin. I remember leaning forward in Mr Kennick’s 1:30 philosophy class (before the class started) and saying to the man in front of me, “Is it true that the King is dead?” I was struck at the time with the fact that I said “the King” without clarification. I have no memory at all of how I actually heard the news. I remember it as a bright and hopeful early spring day, but I don’t think I can trust memory on that one.

Saturday, February 05, 2022

 How we will celebrate our victory!

We shall invite the whole team up for tea!

Friday, February 04, 2022

Fight fiercely, Harvard


I failed at Wordle today, and have just finished a titanic struggle to make a substantial on-line payment to my dentist. I’ll be glad to hear that it’s been received. So I come to you frazzled and weak.


I didn’t walk. It’s been more than a week now. Daniela massaged my unreliable left hip again, and it feels better. Maybe tomorrow. Would I like to apply Deep Heat?


C. came this morning. She says that wee Hamish’s Calcutta Cup vest fits fine and is much admired by his parents. She had a picture – not good enough to show you – of the boy wearing it over his pyjamas and a cosy sweater. The fit is obviously what we were aiming at – generous, but not absurdly so. Christina and Manaba (parents) have promised to take pictures of him watching the match with them tomorrow. Those I will relay.


And I knit peacefully forward on Machu Picchu, not very far.


Comments: Gemma, thank you. “Semi-solid”, indeed, for the yarn I have ordered. I continue to semi-regret not ordering grey.


I’m glad I’m not the only Wordle player here. My fear under the New York Times regime is not so much that I would have to pay – I wouldn’t do it, and that would be that – as that there might be more than one a day. It would spoil the whole thing. Perhaps I’ll start with “spoil” tomorrow.

Thursday, February 03, 2022


Oh, Tamar, you must try it. (That’s what everybody kept saying to me, and I kept resisting.) Just type “wordle” into a search engine, and there it will be. I used a completely new starter this morning – “triad” instead of “waste” or “waist”. The thing (I feel) is to have a couple of vowels, and some common consonants. When I worked on the Oberlin Review, back in the early years of the last century, it was printed next door, hot-metal – presumably that’s gone altogether nowadays. When a linotype operator made a mistake, he hit the first two columns of letters on his machine, to fill up the now-useless slug. They were the first 12 letters of the English letter-frequency alphabet: ETAOIN SHRDLU. Who would have thought they could have been of the slightest use, wedged in the memory 60 years later?


The important thing the New York Times must understand, is that there is only one Wordle per day. I did it in five today (one is allowed six, as a maximum), and could have eliminated one of my tries if I had been thinking properly.


I continue to feel feeble, and my left hip is not much use. Not painful, but constantly threatening to collapse beneath me. I had Daniela massage it this morning, and feel somewhat better.


And I made my decisions for Mary Lou’s “Aroon” pattern. I knit this sweater:


two years ago, and still have a complete yellow skein left over. It comes from the Ginger Twist Studio, near here. I probably have half-a-ball left over as well: I’ll have a look. It’s a delicious yarn, no longer on Ginger’s list, but she offers a machine-washable sock yarn now of similar properties and dimensions. I am sure there is a word for this sort of yarn, a not-quite-solid solid colour, but I can’t think of it. So, I’ll use the yellow for the contrast. I was seriously tempted to order grey for the main colour, even a dark grey: babies dress like grown-ups nowadays. But decided against it. I’ve ordered a darkish red: the colour of joy of more than half the population of the earth (China and India, at least).


I also measured the Machu Picchu and discovered that it in fact needs a couple more inches before the armholes – I must have stopped because I had come to the end of a ball of yarn. So now I’ve wound the new ball and am knitting peacefully on for a couple of days, until the yarn for the  Aroon arrives. Just what’s wanted. 

Even though the house is stuffed full of yarn, it is a matter of course that more must be ordered when one actually wants to knit something.

Wednesday, February 02, 2022


I have felt very weak today. The problem will be getting from where I am, with the computer, at one end of my long house, to the other, where the bedroom is. Alexander came today – I haven’t seen him since before Christmas. We tried to walk, but got only about halfway between my front door and the gate to Drummond Place Gardens before turning back.


He brought me Kolymsky Heights to read, by Lionel Davidson. It certainly starts very well. It doesn’t feel familiar at all, but I have a half-memory that my husband and I started reading it as our bedtime book, and then he was whisked away into hospital (as happened from time to time, during his last months) and when they set him free, we would have had to start again, but decided not to, and started something else. Perhaps Proust, which we were reading when he died. But if so, where is our earlier copy?


I got Wordle in three this morning. I have two words which I use as starters – I thought they were homonyms, but Wikipedia makes it sound more complicated. Anyway, two words, pronounced identically, spelled differently and with radically different meanings, like "weak" and "week".  If I had chosen the other one this morning, it’s possible I might have got it in two. I do hope the New York Times doesn’t spoil things.


Knitting: C. came early this morning, and carried the Calcutta Cup vest off for her grandson. She says that the family is going to some club or other on Saturday, to watch the match on a big screen. Wee Hamish will of course be a member of the party, so the vest will have an admiring audience.


I am afraid that Scotland might win again, since the match is here in Edinburgh, which always helps, and the English are going to be short of several key players due to injury. But Alexander says that they have such depth of talent to draw from, that they’ll be fine.


Mary Lou has most kindly sent me a few of her baby patterns. My next effort is going to be her “Aroon” pattern., for the 7th London great-granddaughter, due in April.  I spent some time this morning looking through stash and thinking about the problem, but got no further than that. Action will be required tomorrow. Meanwhile I knit Machu Picchu and counted stitches – but this can’t go on indefinitely, or it will be too long.

Tuesday, February 01, 2022


A quiet day. My Tuesday bath, which always feels wonderful but precludes walking. I pressed the vest under a damp (clean) tea towel, to its somewhat improvement. C. will be here early tomorrow to take it to her grandson, wee Hamish. Here it is:


And we are promised pictures on Saturday, Calcutta Cup Day, of the wearer wearing.


That left me with the problem of what to do. I resurrected the Machu Picchu, remembering from December that no matter how much I knit it never gets any bigger. It is being transformed into a bottom-up EPS, and I have nearly, or entirely, reached the sleeve-holes. It’s a lovely Carol Sunday yarn, Nirvana, 90% merino and the rest cashmere. It’s like knitting one of my cats.


But I must tear myself away from it and decide on what to do for that baby. I know that one of her sisters had a polliwog. My notes, otherwise, are not much use. I must decide tomorrow.




Kimchi: thank you for your description of the process, Sarah. Fortunately, or otherwise, the first recipe I used had me cut the cabbage up into largish pieces, salt it, and then massage the salt in. I’ve gone on doing that. But the traditional way, as you say, and the way prescribed by most recipes, is to leave the cabbage leaves attached at the base and salt them one by one; likewise, later on, do the same with the paste. I am satisfied with my results, and don’t see the advantage of doing it the other way. It sounds fussy. But I’d like to sit down with a real expert and discuss the pros and cons.


I had an email from Amazon this afternoon saying that my emergency gochugaru chilli powder had been delivered, but it wasn’t anywhere to be seen. An hour later a neighbour delivered it, having found it on her doorstep. It’s just as well I wasn’t desperate for it, after all.


Weavinfool: the last years of my husband’s life were full-time demanding. I really don’t think I was particularly organised – just lurching from one necessity to the next, giving thought where necessary as to how to fit everything in to a day. Life is more relaxed now, and for all my grumbling, I appreciate it. Sliding into bed between sheets Daniela has washed and ironed, knowing that there is no one except myself (and my cats) to be attended to before morning: no baby, no husband. It is, every evening, a moment of pure pleasure.


Shandy/KayT, on cider. I read through my December entries yesterday – I do enjoy my own prose. And I think I agree with you, Kay. December is always depressing, as the light goes out, day by day. And January always feels a bit better, as the horrors of Christmas are left behind and the light comes back. I don’t see anything more than that. I seem to have done lots of garden-walking and knitting in December.


But, Cat, Nadal is certainly a great advertisement for the teetotal life. What a match!