Ella and the Orchids

To ease the transition back to work, I came home from the grocery store today with an armload of orchids. I was not surprised this evening to capture this video on the dining room table. Batu usually just enjoys them, jumping up to sniff them delicately.  Ella’s enjoyment is a bit more physical.

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Bhutan

A few years ago I had the good fortune to travel to Bhutan with Kent and a small group of colleagues.  Kent discovered this Youtube video from someone else’s trip.  We visited most of the places shown in the video. Enjoy!

Batu and Ella Make a New Friend

We have been very fortunate that in all our years in Singapore, we’ve always had someone stay with our cats. This summer, we are fortunate to have a kind and responsible friend who will stop by each day to care for them and give them some attention. Still, in my heart I felt sad because our cats are very social. I knew they would be lonely.

Yesterday something wonderful happened. We found a wonderful playmate for our cats. One of Kent’s colleagues just moved into our condo complex.  She has an elementary-aged daughter whom I will call E and a pre-school son.  Her daughter is going to come over to play with the cats this summer.

Our first year here I was able to arrange for a colleague’s daughter to care for the cats when we were on short trips.  My cats sleep around 18 hours per day, so they really don’t need someone here all the time.  I decided I would pay her x amount per visit, and she could visit up to four times per day.  It turned out to be a great deal for both of us.  She was an animal lover who really enjoyed the time with the cats. Even my timid Kapas eventually came out from hiding to be with her. I am hoping this new arrangement will work out as well.  I am thinking it will.

Last night E came over to meet the cats.  As usual, Batu was hesitant at first, wanting to watch her a bit to make certain she was safe.  Ella warmed up to her right away, especially when she brushed Ella’s coat. Ella loves to be brushed.

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E was a real trooper. She gamely tried each different way we suggested of playing with Batu.  Batu was clearly interested but not yet comfortable enough to play.  Here E is trying to entice Batu to play by tempting her with a toy in her playbox under the coffee table.  (Ella watches on from the coffee table.)

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As you can see, she had Batu’s attention but Batu wouldn’t play.

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Eventually, Batu did play for a few moments, much to E’s delight.

Later, E  spent time with her in the bedroom. As long as I wasn’t in the room, Batu would snuggle with her.  It’s almost as though Batu doesn’t want to hurt our feelings by being too friendly with other people.  Or, she’s not willing to let us feel less guilty for leaving her.

E stayed for quite a while. Since our two cats don’t hang out together, E kept going from one to the other.  Soon, they were following her.   The best sign came when E left. We walked her part way home.  When we came back in the condo, Batu was in the entry way. Rather than greet us, she was staring past us to see where E was.

E returned today with cat treats she had purchased with her own money.  Batu really isn’t interested in treats, but Ella was delighted. She licked her lips with relish after each treat.

My heart is no longer sad.  I am grateful that E, who took great care of her own pet bunny, will bring joy and comfort to my cats this summer.

P.S. E had been caught in a downpour which is why she is looking a bit soggy.

Corner Garden

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Isn’t that lovely? Many of the first floor tenants at our condo building like to garden. I enjoy them when I am out for my walks. This little garden is on the corner of my condo.

Impressionist Socks

Wow! These Impressionist Socks have taken forever. First, the pattern itself is hugely slow to knit.  The pattern has no rest rows.  The way the stitches line up from one row to the next makes it difficult to execute the many SSKs and the K2togs.  Second, the yarn is a bit splitty. It’s very nice when knit but getting it knit required care.  Finally, I have worked on many, many other projects, first Christmas gifts, then birthday gifts, then hats for students in India, and another pair of socks for myself which are still on the needles.

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The fussy pattern was worth the effort. I had a suspicion that this yarn would flash and pool. It did but the pattern made it pretty instead of a problem.

The pattern is not very stretchy and I was afraid the tencel yarn would not stay up well.  To solve those problems, I switched to 2 x 2 rib when I reached the ankle. Although the yarn did flash and pool on the legs, the rib made for a good fit and the socks stay up.  I figure not many people will see it under my pant legs so fit was more important.  I made the cuff long enough that I can fold it down and wear the socks as anklets.  That also hides the pooling and flashing. Mission accomplished.

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The heels were a bit of a pain to knit. If I knit this pattern again I would do the more traditional type of heel. The heel looks fine now that it’s done, but it didn’t need to be such a bother.

I think the only bad call I made was to continue the pattern for a few rows after the heel.  The socks would have a nicer fit and be more firm if I have just gone into the ribbing at that point.

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Most of my projects lately, not counting the hats, have needed darning or mending as soon as I finish them. These were no exception. I was admiring their loveliness and I folded them down to have a big cuff. I snapped a photo. As I did so I caught some movement. Right before my eyes the socks were turning into a Clapotis as a dropped stitch raced down the leg.

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I had to pick the binding, go back, and fix the mistake. After I had done that, I realized this new binding was too tight.  I picked that out and tried again. Along the way I dropped some more stitches. Eventually I got it all straightened out.  Despite all the drama, the socks are done and very comfortable.

The yarn was a gift from my sister.  She purchased it at Shelley’s Yarn and Fibre Shop in Taylor’s Falls, Minnesota, USA. It is Sexy Socks in the Surfer Girl color way a blend of 50% Merino and 50% tencel. It needs hand washing or gentle machine washing in cold, laying flat to dry.  I will do as I always do. I’ll turn them inside out, put them in a laundry bag, and wash them on cold. After the spin cycle they should be dry enough to hang on the line without stretching.

Queen of the Stash

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I accidentally organized my stash yesterday.  I went diving into one of the bins for a skien of yarn. Four hours later it was all photographed, entered into Ravelry, and organized by weight into bins and bags.  Pretty impressive for a task I didn’t know needed doing.

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I knew it already but if you scroll through the photos of my entire stash, there is a preponderance of blues, greens and purples because those are MY colors.  There are also a lot of tans and browns, because I often wear tan or khaki pants and needs socks to wear with them.

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I also found some yarns I can destash. I sold a box of cotton yarn at work on Thursday and other people expressed interest, so I’ll put an ad on Marketplace, our mail group at work.

In any case, it will be nice to be able to sort my stash by size or color whenever needed. Should also help when I am home this summer.  Either I will buy skeins to hold with some of my fingering weight yarn, or I’ll buy worsted skeins and sell some of my fingering.  I find that I don’t want to invest the time knitting socks out of 100% merino yarn.  The pairs I have knit out of that have not worn well enough to justify the effort.  However, people knitting scarves, gloves, mittens, etc. could make good use of it.

Of course, as I started to make up the flyer to sell yarn at work, I found I didn’t want to part with it.  Ideas began to niggle about what it could become. However, I will be strong.  It felt good to clean out closets last weekend.  Now that stash is done, it is time to tackle medical claims and filing.  Just the thought of it makes me want to take a nap.

On a different note, isn’t it nice we purchased an ottoman for our cat?

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She was a bit annoyed when I covered it with laptop and yarn last night while I organized the stash.