Thursday, January 30, 2020

following up

evening chores last night

Two follow-up notes on the blogging questions...

I have found no pattern in commenters who are being blocked, so I searched the Help page on Blogger where several bloggers had asked why some readers are unable to leave comments on their blogs.

Here is the reply, specifically relating to Embedded comments, which is what I use. It's the only Blogger option where comments appears on the same page as the post, and where Replies to the Comments are permitted:
This option (embedded) uses third-party cookies to connect users to comments. Many people disable third-party cookies on their browsers, and that is the usual cause of this problem. Because of the nature of the internet, this is out of your hands, because it is a choice that users make in their browser settings.
So, there you (maybe) have it. Personally, I have not bothered to disable third-party cookies on my browser, and I don't know what the pros and cons are for doing so. And I'm certainly not suggesting that anyone change their browser settings. But if someone who has had trouble commenting on Comptonia decides to experiment and finds out that this really was the problem, I'd love to hear about it. Maybe even in a comment!

And if anyone discovers other options for bridging the commenting chasm, please share, any time. If I've learned one thing, it's that this problem affects many of us.

Re: the Feedly sponsored ads, I looked at my Adblock Plus settings to see if I could change something. Yes! At some point - probably years ago - I apparently chose to allow what are called "Acceptable Ads:"
Acceptable Ads are nonintrusive ads. They are the middle ground between ad blocking and supporting online content because they generate revenue for website owners.
On some websites - for example, international news sites - I allow ads because the "real" content is valuable to me and I'd rather allow ads than pay to subscribe to a dozen online newspapers. I think the "Acceptable Ads" setting may be how the Feedly ads slipped through, although it's very strange that I have never seen them before this month.

Now I've made all ads "unacceptable" and my feedly lists have returned to all-blogs-all-the-time. So far, so good! I will manually turn off my ad blocker on certain sites; I already do that on some sites anyway.


Thanks very much for all the input on these conundrums.
We shall now return to our regularly scheduled blogging content.

Bud says, "Does that include breakfast?"

Yes, Bud. Yes it does.
I'm on my way.

Monday, January 27, 2020

a bit of blog befuddlement

Many thanks to everyone who left a comment about commenting.

I've been wandering around backstage in my own blog, trying to find the source of the problem. I've learned a couple of things, but nothing related to the issue.

So far the only possible clue is that comments may not be posting from phones - 
two readers have now mentioned that.
I'm relieved to know that there are no ads appearing on Comptonia!
About the ads that have recently been showing up on the Feedly page, here is an example using my own blog post list. I hope the screenshot will be legible - as always, left-click to embiggen.

To be clear: I'm not seeing these ads on the actual blogs - just prominently displayed on the Feedly list of posts for each blog.

One of these things is not like the others...


Here's another example.
Ads disguised as blog posts:

Well, that's enough about the mysteries of the internet for one day.

Onward to something I understand: today's Daily Markmaking.

A detail of the base of the massive red oak on the Upper West Side,
surrounded by stones and snow.

I hope your week is off to a grand start!

Sunday, January 26, 2020

three quick questions

This is a blog housekeeping post, and I'd really appreciate your help. I'll add a few unrelated images, just for entertainment value.

Two people have told me in recent weeks that they have left a comment on the blog but that it didn't appear. I've checked the spam filter, but the comments were not there. I checked my settings, and there shouldn't be anything preventing anyone from leaving a comment. The only thing I can think of, is if I was editing a post and republishing it at the same moment someone was trying to leave a comment, which I suppose is possible but not very likely. Not sure what else I can do, but I at least want to ask: has anyone else had a problem posting a comment here? If so, and if you can't leave a comment on this post either, could you please take a moment to email me and let me know? And if any other bloggers have had this happen on their own blogs, how did you fix it? It's very alienating to have one's comments "rejected" on a blog, and I don't want that to happen to anyone on Comptonia. I love our conversations. No blog is an island!

Second question: I use an ad blocker on my laptop, so I avoid seeing a lot of ads but recently Feedly - the reader where I see updates of all the blogs I follow on a single page - has begun throwing an ad into the posting list of every blog. It is disconcerting, to say the least, since the format of the ad is exactly the same as that of a blog post. It is not as annoying as pop-up windows on blogs, but it's unpleasant, and it may be time for a change. Can anyone recommend a simple reader they use to track all the blogs they follow?

Oh, one more question, speaking of ads and pop-up windows. I recently read a comment on another person's blog which complained - rather rudely, I thought - about the kind of advertisements appearing on that blog. It occurs to me that some of us may have ads showing up on our blogs that we didn't put there and - in my case, with the ad-blocking app - don't even know are there. Could someone tell me if you ever see ads or pop-up windows on Comptonia? I find pop-up windows very irritating, as they generally obscure what I'm trying to read, and they often "invite" me, over and over again, to subscribe to a blog I already follow. If there's anything like this on Comptonia, I did not put it there, and if I can't get rid of it I'll have to look into changing platforms.

Thanks for your help! I want to keep Comptonia a welcoming and pleasant place. Anything else would be...


Thursday, January 23, 2020

thankful thursday

Part of the Junco flock having breakfast

Yesterday was a long, tiring day. There was an hour of driving to a medical appointment. Sitting. Standing. More driving. Errands on the way home, and chores in the dark before collapsing into bed. It was a good thing I did the Daily Markmaking in the morning - the little birds, above - because I couldn't have made much more than a thumbprint last night.

But it was also a great day. I got a lot of good information from the new doctor, and a relieved mind from the second opinion which was the reason for the appointment.

There was a stop on the way home at the Fitchburg Art Museum, which I used to visit often but hadn't seen in years because of the driving. I renewed my long-expired membership and also my acquaintance with many old friends in the Ancient Egypt permanent exhibition, and paintings by the museum's founder, Eleanor Norcross. It was a simply splendid way to spend some time. It felt like a celebration.

I get a lot of practice at feeling thankful, every day. In the words of Johnny Mercer, I tend to "accentuate the positive." It's not something I strive to do, it's just the way I live. But yesterday was exceptionally fine by any standard. And I was so very thankful that I didn't need to go anywhere this morning - except out to the paddocks and barns. A lovely, lazy Thursday morning!

Tonight's markmaking effort:

And here comes the weekend! I hope you all have a good one.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

wednesday wip

The work in progress had a brief hiccup a few days ago, only because math is not my favorite subject. Fortunately I discovered my little miscalculation before knitting an extra acre of garter stitch.

Just a temporary setback.

This Shetland yarn is delightfully "sticky" - in knitters' parlance, the texture is such that a strand of this yarn will lightly grip another strand - so it was quite easy to get 144 live stitches back on the needle: they just sat there nicely, waiting to be picked up. Unlike my usual teeny sock stitches, which disappear into themselves the moment the working yarn is pulled out.

 That same sticky quality also makes joining the yarn quite simple. The first step is opening the two plies at the end of each yarn to be joined, and cutting an inch or so from one ply on each end.

One ply on each end to be trimmed,
which reduces the thickness of the joined section.

Next, cross the single plies, fold them back onto themselves, add a few drops of water, and roll the join briskly between palms.
I didn't get a picture of this step because it takes both hands and I was being careful. If anyone is baffled by my description and needs to see it, let me know and I'll set up a couple of shots with demo yarn.


Onward with the third skein of yarn!

Thursday, January 16, 2020

january garden candy

My blog-pal Tipper recently wrote about her favorite way of cooking butternut squash: cutting the squash into pieces, tossing with a little oil, and baking. It looked so good, of course I wondered if Candy Roasters - the only Winter squash I've grown for the past several years - would be good the same way. Usually I cut a whole squash in half lengthwise, scrape out the seeds and membrane from the core, then roast the whole squash and puree it. So good!

The Candy Roaster Arbor of 2019

But why not try something different? The worse thing that could happen would be the Candy Roasters - which are not as dense as butternuts, I think - might just melt into blobs if cut into small pieces before baking. Only one way to find out.

I chose the smallest squash from my windowsill larder, peeled it and cut it into pieces, removing the core. I spread the pieces out on a piece of parchment paper, drizzled a little olive oil and then gathered up the corners of the parchment paper and gave it a few shakes to distribute the oil. Put the parchment paper on a baking sheet, sprinkled salt over, and into a hot oven for a half hour.


Slightly crispy on the outside, smooth and creamy on the inside.

The word LUSCIOUS is not an exaggeration.

Next time I will add more oil and be sure all the pieces are coated, so there will be even more browning. And I may give the pieces a flip after 20 minutes, if I think of it.

Adding herbs or spices before baking might be an enhancement, but honestly, the simple oil and salt method is so good it may take me awhile to experiment with anything else.

Unlike most of the things I cook, I suspect this is something best eaten immediately, not made in huge quantities and eaten for several days in a row, or frozen for later reheating. But I may try freezing some next time, just to see. Or, since the peeling and cutting is the only time-consuming part of the process, I may try cutting up one of the larger Candy Roasters and freezing the uncooked pieces in baking-sheet-size portions. Whoa. That would be a really good idea! I could probably put a baking sheet full of squash in the oven before going out for chores, and come in to a delicious meal.

What a treat!

Thanks for the idea, Tipper :)


Sunday, January 12, 2020

flying my hap flag

It's been quite a while since I made my first half-hap using Gudrun Johnston's pattern, "Simmer Dim." At the time I expected to make another someday, and guess what...
I've got the yarn
I've got the needles
today is Cast-On Day!

This project will be a special gift, and since I wanted to be sure to make something the recipients will enjoy, it is not a surprise - it's a collaboration. I provided lots of options for very different patterns and yarns, and there was a good bit of to-ing and fro-ing as the options were explored and considered. I would have been happy to make whatever was selected - and I tried very hard to answer questions without influencing the decisions - but I must say the choices made turned out to be just my cup of tea.

"Hansel" - another design by Gudrun Johnston - is a full sized version of a traditional Shetland Hap shawl. It will probably finish at about four feet square, perhaps a bit more when blocked. The pattern calls for five colors: a central garter-stitch diamond in a main color, then a wide border lacework section with gently wavy stripes in four additional colors plus the main color, followed by an edge in the original main color with options for simple or more elaborate finishing.

Like the traditional Shetland hap design, the chosen yarn is also traditional: Jamieson and Smith's "100% Shetland wool from the Shetland Islands." And - this is quite wonderful, I think - all five colors in this hap will be natural, undyed wool. The five shades were chosen from a range of nine, called things like Moorit and Katmollet and Gaulmogot, which are the names of the colors of the Shetland sheep.

This is going to be a joyful project, and I'll try to share a bit of the process - and woolly pictures - as I go along. I'm planning to get a good start on it before cashmere harvesting begins, because both knitting and combing cashmere require very similar use of my hands and I usually stop knitting entirely during combing season. This year I may just pace myself so some days can include a bit of combing and a bit of knitting.

Off to a good Gaulmogot start.

Friday, January 3, 2020


Not all my chores are strictly necessary.

Unless one considers providing a high quality of life "necessary."

Here, the goats would like to thank their friend Chris for an unexpected and bountiful supply of carrot pennies. What a kind thought :)

Agatha and Eloise would be fine with their organic pelleted food, but they probably come running to me because I also bring them special treats - like a warm breakfast on very cold mornings.

About the sweater: I found this Irish cardigan on Christmas Eve during a quick stroll though a thrift shop, between an eye appointment and visit to the local florist for a little hostess gift. It was such a crazy morning I actually forgot about buying the sweater until a couple of days ago, when I washed and blocked it. It's been slowly drying atop the washing machine ever since.

Which is why, when I wanted to continue yesterday's chores without coming inside in my cleats, I just reached in the door and placed the eggs on the drying sweater. When chores were finished and I came in, the eggs looked so perfect against the cable knit, I thought you might like to see them too.
But the color of the wool in that photograph isn't quite accurate. The green is very close to the darkest color of these hemlock needles:

Speaking of being outdoors, the ice that has coated every leaf and every twig has been slowly melting. I spent a vigorous half hour releasing the Highlander from it's ice coating yesterday, pausing to take a few snaps of the flowers by the driveway as the sun began to reach them. You can tell from this bee balm stalk where the sun had been the day before:

And here is the sun just reaching a Chelona stalk:

For the past three days, Piper - 55 pounds - has been walking on the frozen crust. The goats - even the largest goats - with their sharp little hooves have been walking on the frozen crust.

I'm not sure who weighs more, Betula or myself, but I've also been walking easily on the frozen crust, cleats a-gripping. It's such a pleasant way to get around, and I've spent more time outdoors than necessary for chores, just puttering around and looking at things, because it hasn't been tiring to walk through the paddocks.

No telling how much longer it will last, but the sun shone for hours yesterday which doubtless softened the crust. Today may be the day that every step means plunging downward several jarring inches into the snow below. But I've enjoyed that weight-bearing crust while it lasted!

Wishing you all a day in which the crust bears your weight.