books · crafty things · writing

4th Doctor Scarf Done, and it went to SiliCon 2021

Doctor Who, 4th Doctor scarf made by Kara

I’m not sure I remember exactly when I started working on this scarf, but it was at least 3 to 4 years ago. I taught myself to knit specifically so I could make this scarf. I used the pattern labeled as ‘original’ from http://www.doctorwhoscarf.com/s12.html , although I just used the yarn that I could easily find that seemed close-ish to the right colors. I can’t share what exactly I used because most of the labels are long gone and I just don’t know. I know it was nothing fancy: Red Heart, Lion Brand, and that sort of thing.

The scarf and I went to SiliCon with Adam Savage this past weekend. Despite the fact that my ‘costume’ if it could be called that consisted only of the scarf, and the hat, I got lots of nice complements. Got lots of head nods and waves from the other versions of The Doctor when we came across one another. In retrospect, I maybe should have asked for some photos with them, but I was so happy to be out having nerdy fun with masks and without crowds. They severely limited attendance. I read somewhere it is usually 30,000, but was 5,000 this year. For example, here I stand outside a main hall, and just look at all those people nowhere near me. It was great.

Kara in her completed 4th Doctor Who scarf.

We attended both days but I only wore the scarf on Sat because, even indoor with air conditioning, this scarf is heavy and HOT.

Other weekend highlights, was getting signed books from Andy Weir and David Gerrold. I also went to the writer panel with was fun and interesting. I saw so many other cool books in Artist Alley and it was painful not to buy something from each, but we have a very pricey car repair we are trying to navigate at the moment. I have notes and will get to them one day. We collectively did cave in a buy a cute game though. It’s called Gosh Darn Bubbles . We played it at length back in the hotel, and much fun was had. All the cards are fun, but ‘Slappa da Bass’ was the family favorite because it was fun to say.

garden

The Frist Successful Avocado Sprout

Successful Avocado Sprout (please ignore the dead plant in the window behind it)

For probably more than 6 months I had an avocado seed that had sort-of-kind-of sprouted sitting in this window. The stem part of the sprout had withered and even gone a little white, like maybe with mold? But the root just kept growing and getting more branches, so I thought it might still make a comeback. I finally gave up on it though, and cleaned everything out to try again with a new avocado pit.

One thing I think I did wrong with all the previous pits was let them sit around awhile first. I don’t know where I got the idea I needed to do that? Maybe I read they should be washed and dried, so I let them sit out. I thin I also read that you need to peel that dark brown skin off, and that was way easier to do if it was dried out a little so the skin popped away from the meat inside somewhat.

But that was all hooey, I think now. I looked up the process again, and this new article said that freshness is very important to success. So my next pit, I gave a brief rinse to, didn’t even gat all the avocado off of it, and put it in my little floaty avocado sprouting boat (I like it better than the toothpick method because I would always break the toothpicks and nothing ever grew for me. That seed sprouted within days. It had a good stem of a few inches ling and two tiny leaves when we left for a 4 day road trip. When we came home, it looked like this. I was floored. I have it propped up against the vase in the photo because it was too tall and heavy and kept falling over.

I had to look up what to do next because I never made it this far before. I found several recipes that agreed with each other about the right types of soil to combine to move it into a pot. I took the lazy route and just bought a packed soil that said it was for avocados and the ingredients matched the recipes I’d found. My proud sprout is now in soil outside just below this kitchen window where it can get a little more sun but still be fairly sheltered. And I have a new seed in the boat.

Here’s hoping everything keeps on growing!

P.S. I read a bunch of avocado growing articles and didn’t save them all, but this is a good intro one, and has many other helpful links: https://californiaavocado.com/how-to/how-to-grow-your-own-avocado-tree/

writing

Writing Update

I don’t have anything new to report, but I think including regular writing updates here keeps me on track, or at least makes me think about things on the regular. I just haven’t been writing much. We had a little road trip to the beach, where I expected to get some relaxation and writing time, but we invited too many people along and scheduled too many outings, or I just didn’t put the effort in (I was supposed to be relaxing!) and I didn’t write a word. It was nice to stare at the ocean awhile though.

I did work on my novel last night, and that felt good. I felt like I was wandering a bit with it though, so I need to review my notes since I haven’t stayed in good close connection with it.

The day job writing is staying on schedule, so I guess that’s going well for me, but, as always, I feel like I’m still not doing enough anyway.

I got a short story rejection and was a good litter submitter, and got it sent back out to another market the next day. It is so tempting to just scroll down the list to the token markets but I’m trying to keep the faith and sending it to all the dream markets before moving on to lower paying opportunities. Having more than one story out on submission does help my emotional stress on this front, as does having a story acceptance waiting to come out later in the year. (I will definitely be sharing that here once it goes live.)

I keep thinking I need to look at some of my older stuff to possibly revise and send out. I’m finding that I hate almost everything I finish, but that when I stumble onto it later, I think, “This isn’t so bad.” I might just be one of those writers who needs to let things set awhile before finial revisions. But thinking I need to do this, and finding the time to do it are not the same thing.

garden

As the Garden Continues to Grow

Baby Cantaloupe

While the garden started out rough, and many seeds never came up, and many small seedlings didn’t thrive, now that what’s left is well established, things seem to be goin well. I am very excited about these cantaloupe. I’ve tried watermelons in the past, but have never had much luck. Maybe they don’t do well in containers; maybe I just don’t have the skill to grow them. Either way I usually ended up with one or two comically tiny golf ball sized melons and that was that. I thought cantaloupe are smaller, maybe they would do better, and so far so good. These are a little bigger than my hand and have continued to grow since I took the photo a few days ago.

I also cut down the larges of the mammoth sunflowers. I thought birds were eating the seeds, which I was fine with, but then I figured out they were just falling out, and I didn’t want them going to waste. My research instructed me to lay the head out a couple days to let the seeds dry. Tomorrow we will attempt to roast them. I suspect at least a couple of the other flowers will need to come down soon as well.

First harvested Mammoth Sunflower. Many outer seeds have fallen out.
crafty things · crochet

May Temperature Blanket

So I finished May a few days ago, which puts me about a month behind. Hit the light brown level that last day of May, and I think, probably these last few days here in July. So hot. I expect next month will be more pinks and browns and little greens. I’m really happy so far with the way the colors are looking together. Probably not for everyone, but I picked this pallet for me.

writing

Writing Anxiety

It’s funny how much about myself I keep learning, even though this is stuff I’ve done for a long, long, long time. I have always enjoyed writing since I was a kid. But sharing what I wrote is another story. Over time I’ve gotten more comfortable submitting my fiction stories. Yes, rejections suck, but unlike the horror stories I have seen online, I don’t remember ever getting a ‘mean’ rejection. I’ve gotten feedback that hurt, but it was still delivered kindly, and when the sting wore off, I could see it wasn’t wrong. It was helpful.

Just a little bit ago I wrote about my day job and how I maneuvered into getting to do some writing as part of my job. I recently turned in a couple blog posts, and the amount of anxiety I had about them caught me off-guard. I started to see how much I avoided working on them. How I actually had them done, but kept fiddling, afraid to turn them in. Why? That’s what I’ve been grappling with ever since. I write a monthly newsletter for work and I don’t feel this way about that, but that’s just for my co-workers, and is mainly for fun and teambuilding and such. It isn’t that my supervisor is tough to please, she has loved everything I’ve given her. She is kind and supportive. So what is it?

Years ago when my kids were small I a hoped to earn extra money from home, I tried some online writing gigs. I wrote for a pet insurance website for a little while and had similar problems. It paid well. They always loved what I turned in, but I eventually stopped doing it because of how awful I made myself feel. I don’t want the same to happen to me now. I want to keep this extra gig I have going. So I need to figure myself out.

The best I have come up with so far that makes this type of writing different from my fiction or my newsletter, or even this blog, is that I consider it more serious. I’m writing about pet health. That’s important to me, and hopefully, to the people I’m writing for. I do find myself wondering as I write these things, “What if Someone misunderstands what I’m saying? What if I’m giving advice for X, but their pet has Y, and they don’t seek treatment properly?” and similar issues. There is a weight of responsibility that I take on that might not be fully appropriate. Sure, there are good things to consider, but not enough to let them stop me writing altogether.

For that matter, I give advice all day to clients when I’m working, or explain how to follow the doctors treatment plan, or home care instructions. I don’t bat an eye at these important talks. But then I know the specific patient, and their specific needs. An article is more general. It can’t take in all situations of all pets. Yet I feel like I have to.

There might be more to it than this, but this is where I am after some reflection so far. I think knowing my stumbling blocks will hopefully help my anxiety. Instead, of stalling or avoiding the writing, I can decide to review what I have written to make sure it’s clear, and I’ve mentioned important exceptions to look out for. That sort of thing. Deal with the items that are worrying me. It can only help the finished piece.

Other writers, do you ever find yourself anxious about your writing? And what have you done to work it though?

garden

Mammoth Sunflowers are pretty big actually

I’m excited to see the flowers these beauties produce, but instead they just keep getting taller and taller. For reference, that fence is about 5′ 9 or 10″ tall. So I put the biggest sunflower at about 8′ right now. I just decided to look up how big they get (maybe should have done that before planting, but let’s be honest, I would have planted them anyway). They average 9 to 10′.

Considering how chewed up they got when they were but wee little sprouts, I think they have come a long, impressive way. You can see in the photo how bad those early, lower leaves are almost completely eaten. When I inspected the leaves, however, I never could see any pests. Several times I’ve startled away some small grey and yellow birds from the sunflowers, and since they showed up the leaves have been getting less and less holes. I assume the birds are eating whatever had been eating the leaves. I haven’t been able to identify the type of bird because they take off so fast, but if they also eat seeds, they are welcome to share the sunflower seeds for all their help.

One of the fun things the kids and I have been watching with these is the way they ‘turn’ to follow the sun, even though they don’t have flowers yet. The top of the plants still tilt toward the sun as it moves throughout the day.

cats

Experimenting with my cats

Panther in the pretend square

So I recently read this study: If I fits I sits: A citizen science investigation into illusory contour susceptibility in domestic cats (Felis silvestris catus) by Gabriella E.Smith, Philippe A.Chouinard, and Sarah-ElizabethByosiere. And since I think only the summery is freely available now, here is another article about it: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/if-i-fits-i-sits-experiment-shows-felines-also-sit-illusory-boxes-180977681/

Naturally, I wanted to try it out on my own cats, because this is partly why we have cats, right? For example, my cats couldn’t care less about zucchini, and they will happily sit in a square drawn with tape on the ground. Panther is faster to get into the fake boxes than Meeko, even though they both love a real 3-dimesional box. So I printed out the little pac-man shapes, and while I was arranging them and trying to decide if I was happy with the spacing, Panther came along. . . and the above picture happened before I had a chance to tape them in place.

Meeko had wandered over and sniffed at them, interested in what I was doing, but he generally has better manners than Panther and doesn’t interrupt what I’m working on. Although, in terms of the published study, I was doing this all wrong in that the cats should not have had access to the square as I was placing it. They should have been in a different room and only allowed in when I was ready for them. I never claimed to be rigorous in my home cat experiments, I’m just having fun. If you are interested in learning more about how cats perceive things like optical illusions, read the linked articles. They are interesting!

P.S. Shortly after this photo, Panther began batting the pieces around the floor because I never bothered taping them.

crafty things · crochet

April Temperature Blanket

April Temperature Blanket

I think it’s looking pretty. It sort of looks like April. One lone grey day in the middle of that upper green band, but otherwise I think I might be able to put away the grey yarn until fall. May will be the start of breaking into the browns.

As this is mid-May and I’m only now posting April, you might have guessed that I’m behind. The blanket has gotten big enough that it’s unwieldy to take with me to work on wile waiting for something or hanging out with the family away from home. Plus, it’s big enough to more than cover my lap, and it’s getting warm (note again the lack of grey yarn) and not exactly ‘cuddle under a heavy blanket’ weather. So while I don’t intend to neglect this project, and I’m still having fun, I doubt I’m going to do much better than staying a little behind.

Let’s go May!