Monday, January 23, 2017

I Refuse

To take a picture of the outside, it's just too depressing.  Can you tell that it's still not anywhere close to sunny?  At least the fog/mist has moved on.

There was a dramatic decrease in the number of people out and about as kickoff time for the (dismal) Packer game approached.  That sure made shopping easier and I needed all the "easy" I could get with all the stops and the long list of things to get.

Once I'd recovered from zooming around six different stores in three hours I got busy and whipped up two batches of Chicken Zoodle Soup, one for work lunches and general consumption and one for my knitting friend who's starting chemo.  Keeping her supplied with a batch of soup in small portions is something I can do to maybe make her journey a bit smoother.  I suck at housecleaning and laundry is more like a punishment but making soup gives me the feeling that I'm taking very good care of people, always has, so I make soup.  Chicken soup, like everybody's Jewish (or not-Jewish) grandma used to make when they were sick.  There's nothing like sitting down to a bowl of hot soup so I figure if it makes you feel good when you've got a cold, it should do the job to help kick cancer's ass too.

It's a very simple recipe.  I tweak it a bit by pan frying instead of steaming or boiling the chicken breasts to add a little flavor and then using some of the broth to deglaze the pan so none of that flavor goes to waste, and I toss the zoodles in for the last few minutes of simmering because the recipe assumes that you're going to make the soup and serve it but I ladle most of it out and freeze the portions for later, so I cook the zucchini.  Here's what three zoodled zucchinis look like.


Then I sat on the couch for the rest of the evening knitting on the Bumblebee Laurus hat, finishing the colorwork and adding the first row of the rest of the hat.  It wasn't until the second last row of colorwork that I remembered I'd gotten this Yarn Guide as an exchange gift at a Knit Away Day, so I tried it.  It worked pretty well.  I need to figure out how to tension the yarn when I use it because my regular way doesn't work but just gripping the strands between my pinkie and the palm of my hand worked pretty well although I fear my tension was too tight for the last two rounds.  I think it'll be okay.  Maybe I'll try it on before going too much farther up the hat.

January 23--Paul Gauguin, Claude-Emile Schuffenecker's Studio.  It took so long that Cecile lay her head down in Marie's lap and went to sleep.  Maman moved her hand to shake her daughter awake but the artist hissed at her and shook his head.  She resumed her pose.  This wasn't the first time Maman and her girls posed for an artist but it was the longest they'd had to sit still.  The studio was up high enough for the light to stream in the windows and where there was sunlight there was heat.  Soon enough Marie and Maman were both asleep too.  It wasn't until she felt his hand questing up her leg that Maman awoke, demanded their pay, and hustled her girls down the stairs and out into the noisy street.  She didn't care if she ever posed for him or any other artist again.  There were other ways to make money.

Today my only task is to cut up the pineapple and strawberries I bought yesterday on my endless rounds for fruit to eat with my soup lunches at work.  Of course then there's fruit to eat at home too.  It's a win-win!  Hasta la vista, babies.
--Barbara

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Still Dreary

Now with extra Fog!  We are into our third day of thick cloud cover with warmer temps that generate mist and fog from the combination of below freezing ground and above freezing air.  I like not having to drive and walk (no more falling--ever) on ice but I'd like to see beyond the front bumper of my car too.  I was thinking that instead of this little flock of sparrows up in the bare apple tree we should have a wake of vultures or at least a murder of crows to go along with the mood of the day.




Look what I did on Friday.  I sat on the couch in my jammies and crocheted the third, and last, Sudoku panel of blocks together so now on to the 64" long strips.  (looooong is right but I take heart that there're only two of them)




Then at Friday night knitting, I cast on and got busy knitting the Bumblebee Laurus hat, Fringe Hat-along Hat #4 but the 5th one I've knitted (I jumped ahead for one).  I may not do the last one, the 1898 hat which looks warm but also looks like a lot of work.  It was difficult deciding which of my leftover wool tweed skeins to use for this hat and I knew I'd never wear a turquoise hat with red or gold colorwork so I went with the safe black for the main color and grabbed gold for the contrast.  I'm thinking I might make some convertible mittens with the other small skeins of wool tweed to go with the hat--with suitable accents of black and gold, of course.

I got a request from LC to knit a raccoon and grumpy toad to add to the Mitten animals (even though neither are mentioned in the story).  She made the connection between the basket of knitting by the couch and the yarn-y toys she was playing with.  I think that's very advanced thinking for a 3 year old.  Then she asked if I can make pancakes for her play kitchen and two-color cheese for making pretend sandwiches.  Why yes, yes, I can. I'll be looking up patterns later.

January 22--Giotto di Bondone, Wedding at Cana.  "I hate these lines," said Greg to Gina, "you say the same thing to everyone and most of the time they have no idea who you are."  Gina linked her arm through his and squeezed so her breast pressed his bicep.  "It's the price you pay for a turn at the open bar," she whispered in his ear.  He tightened her arm against his side.  "How long to we have to stay?  My shoes pinch."

I don't think they'll stay long but doesn't everyone hate receiving lines?  Speaking of long, I have a long list of stops to make today--Aldi, Fleet Farm, Kwik Trip, Sam's, Walmart, and Pick 'n Save (I list them so I don't forget any)--so I think I'll climb on my horse and gallop away into the fog/mist/whatever.
--Barbara

Friday, January 20, 2017

The Poster Day For Dreary

It's warm today, yes,  probably close to 40 degrees but, man, is it dreary.  Gray, damp, a little rainy.  See the raindrop ripples on the birdbath?





I spent the morning on the couch weaving in the tails of Sudoku Strip #6 which I finished at Knitting Guild last night, then working on crocheting the last three blocks of squares together.  Next I have to knit two looooong strips the same width as the last six for joining the panels.  Then the big decision is how to finish the whole Sudoku Afghan.  I'm leaning toward doing Log Cabin edges which means picking up stitches along one side, knitting enough rows to make the width I want, then picking up stitches along each of the other sides in turn, the second strip overlapping the first, the third overlapping the second, and the fourth overlapping the third and first strips, or I'll just grab a crochet hook and single crochet around until I lose faith in humanity (or my hand gets tired) and call it a day.  One of those, I'm almost positive.
 

I did manage to finish the Soup Hat yesterday at work.  I had just enough business and phone calls that it was after four o'clock when I got done.  Whew.  That way I had something to show off at Guild last night.  It looks pretty good (and it doesn't smell like chicken soup) but it'll look even better once it has a swim in wool wash and gets blocked to open up the lace and make it look all pretty.

January 20--Auguste Francois Gorguet, At the Ball.  Alex closed the car door and glanced off into the wooded strip that screened his driveway from the neighbor.  In the pale light of the nearly full moon he saw a glowing mound where there should have been only brush.  "Damn litterbugs," he muttered figuring someone flung a bag of trash into the trees, "too lazy to go to the dump."  He rounded the front of his car and took a few steps between the trees to pick up the trash and put it into the bin next to his garage.  Clouds shifted and a shaft of silver moonlight struck the white mound.  He turned cold when he saw the pale hand with fingers curled.  That was not a bag of trash, it was a young woman in a frothy party dress.  He backed away fumbling his phone out to punch in 9-1-1 before the spots dancing in his vision made it impossible for him to see the numbers.

Alrighty then.  As soon as this is posted I'm headed back to the couch and my aimless afternoon of watching TV and crocheting or knitting.  See ya.
--Barbara

Thursday, January 19, 2017

It's Dove Day

I looked out the patio doors to see a flock of eight mourning doves waddling around in the melting snow pecking at fallen corn and seeds.  Naturally five of them flew the coop by the time I got the camera up and running but I love the way the remaining three are all facing outward as if they can't bear to watch anyone else eat.  I think doves are so funny.  They spook for no apparent reason and you should see their nests.  We had a window box outside the kitchen window of our old house (I miss that window box) and one spring a mama dove decided that's where she was going to make her nest.  She flew up with a beak full of twigs and dead grass, proceeded to basically spit them out, ptooi, waggle her tail into the center of the small pile and lay three little white eggs on what was essentially bare ground.  She sat on them for a week or so, they hatched, she fed them for another week, and then wandered off leaving the perplexed babies perched on the edge of the planter.  Within a few hours they had all gotten the hint that Mom wasn't coming back with more grub so they flapped their wings and went on their merry way.  I love doves.  I think they're the trailer trash of the bird world.


I got the initial decreases done on the crown of the Soup Hat last night.  Next comes the real, serious decreasing which I hope to get done today so I have something to show off at Guild tonight.  I'll hurry through the work waiting for me on my desk and maybe, just maybe, I'll get done before the meeting.


Look at what Avocado Pit #1 is doing.  It's growing two tall sprouts, leaving the smaller one to languish.  I can't tell if that little one on the far left is still growing or if the other two are hogging the nutrients.  Only time, and a ruler, will tell.

January 19--Crow High-Top Moccasins.  Len awoke on a single breath.  It was dark, the fire burned to embers.  What had he heard?  It came again, the soft scuff of a leather sole on the dusty flagstone step of the cabin.  It wasn't his cabin, he didn't know who it belonged to but he'd been very glad to see it nestled in the trees at the edge of the clearing.  From his days as a Boy Scout he knew to go downhill when he got lost and follow water to a river and a river to a road.  Instead of a river, the stream he followed led him to the clearing and this cabin.  It had been open, a fire laid in the hearth, so he'd lit the fire, hung his clothes on chairs to dry, and rolled up in a spare blanket to sleep on the floor in front of the fire.

We're having very odd weather.  It's warmish so the snow and ice are making mist in the air so it looks dreary enough to generate depression out there.  If I had red boots or red winter shoes I'd have them on today.  Off to work, perchance to knit.
--Barbara

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

I Didn't Stay Put After All

But I didn't go far and once I left our side street the roads were just wet, not icy and slick.  People were mostly driving with their winter brains turned on too, so no one was zooming along, except for a few teenagers and I don't think their brains are turned on often anyway.  Which is not necessarily a criticism, I just think their bodies are changing so quickly that their brains are too busy dealing with all those hormones and trying to get boys' bodies to grow enough so they catch up to their feet to deal with too much more.


I did knit up to the crown decreases on the Soup hat.  Maybe I'll get a few of those rounds done today.  And remember "decreases" means they get smaller so maybe it'll go faster.  I'm trying to be project monogamous to get this hat done.  A wise knitter once remarked that it's amazing how quickly you can get something done if you work on one thing at a time.  (wasn't me)


A Downy Woodpecker came to the suet this morning, a lively addition to the black and white world of the backyard but it stayed on the back side of the suet feeder and then flew up into the apple tree.  Just as I pressed the shutter to get its silhouette against a branch it ducked its head to the side.  Oh well, pretend this is one of those "find the..." puzzles in a cheap magazine you take on a long car trip.




Here's proof that I am making headway against the ice.  That white stuff isn't snow, it's ice that's been decayed by salt so that I'll be able to shovel it off the driveway later or maybe Friday if I don't find the time tonight.  The temperature's supposed to hit 40 over the next four or five days which will help the walks and driveways but I suspect will just keep our street either wet and icy (because it's so packed and thick) or potholed as some melts faster than other parts.  I'm hoping for a little sunshine too.

January 18--Henri Toulouse-Lautrec, Dancer Jane Avril.  Like a striking viper the flames raced up the column of her dress.  A footlight bulb had exploded catching the hem on fire and her dancing fanned the flames.  At first the audience thought it was part of the act but soon it became apparent to everyone that it was not.  Before anyone could react the brittle fabric was eaten by the fire and her hair began to smolder.  Finally one brave soup ran to her with a side curtain, enveloping her in the musty velvet, smothering the flames.  That action triggered more--a doctor charged out of the audience onto the stage, a stagehand staggered out carrying a pail of water, and three women fainted.  An electrician's helper tripped the breaker, plunging the theater into darkness and setting off a near stampede as the audience surged to the exits.

I'm cutting it close to be on time for work so I'll say adios and book it outta here.
--Barbara

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Ice

I'm staying put today.  There are a few things I want to do today and Durwood just said the milk went bad but I think it's smarter to hang around here and fling salt at the driveway periodically.

Coming home from work yesterday was a treat.  The main roads were passable but once I'd turned onto our street things got dicey.  I went very slowly and tried to ease into and up the driveway.  No go. It was a sheet of perfect ice even with all the salt I slapped on it the other day so I ended up leaving the car half in the street, walking up the snowy yard to the porch, went through the house and garage to get the big bucket of salt, then salted my way back down to the car, where I was able (on the second try and in lowlowlow gear) to get the car to stick to the driveway and I could safely walk into the house.


Last night we turned off all the lights so I could take this dramatic picture of the freezing rain on the apple tree behind the fence.






I knitted on the Soup hat last night and am six rounds from the crown decreases.  I suspect that my hat won't look like the pattern but maybe the magic of blocking with make the lace look like it's supposed to instead of the jumble of mistakes I think it looks like now.

 


Here's what the street looked like at 7 o'clock this morning.  It doesn't look much different now except now melt water is running down it making it even slipperier.  Oh joy.  The tree looked pretty early though with each little twig encased in ice.

January 17--Henri Rousseau, The Chair Factory at Alfortville.  Mandy lay in the golden grass watching the clouds build like white castles in the sky.  The wind way up there blew them around, taking a piece from one to the other.  Robbing Peter to pay Paul, she thought.  The wind shifted from west to north and turned chilly.  What had been a warm spot to lie in the sun became cool and damp as the clouds piled together to blot out the warming rays.  She gathered up her bag and book, stood and brushed herself off, and headed home before rain came.

That's it for me.
--Barbara

Monday, January 16, 2017

Ho Hum

That was my yesterday.  Ho. Hum.  I got distracted in the morning and forgot to take my pills so with no "happy" pill on board my day went from Ho to Hum really quickly, and by suppertime it had skidded into the cellar.  I spent most of the day zoned out playing computer games and listening to my audiobook.  I did make the Brussels sprouts with Cranberries and Walnuts but didn't take their picture because my timing was off and they got that awful gray green color that means they're overcooked.  Don't get me wrong, they tasted great but I'll make them again and be more careful of the cooking time and take their picture.


The sunset was nice and vivid last night.  I'd really like a more open vista to the west but I guess the neighbors have a right to be there--since they built their house before we built ours, but I'd like the city to come and bury the lines.  At least then all I'd have was house and trees between me and the sunset.  Pretty, though.



I realized that I forgot to show you what DD, SIL1 and GC gave me for Christmas.  It's a silk scarf and hankie that they ice dyed.  I love it (and them) and will wear the scarf to work today.  Maybe I'll find a sweater with a pocket and wear the hankie too.  There.  Now I look gooooood.  I just realized that they look like a shirt in that picture.  It isn't, it's a scarf and a hankie, really.



Didn't do much knitting, only a couple rounds of the Soup Hat and an inch or so on the Sudoku strip.  See?  I told you I was in a funk.

January 16--Jean-Michel Basquiat, Two Sided Coin.  Primary colors and irregular lines made Christine think that the artist had been in a hurry or in a rage when he made the piece.  She looked at the crude faces like voodoo masks or skulls with grinning teeth and thought that someone with a more educated eye than she had saw the artistry there.  It made her think of drunken nights and smoking weed in dark alleys where life was cheap and virtue was a commodity to be traded.  She liked it but would never have it in her house.  Not that she could ever afford it.

I have to work today.  Did I tell you that?  Mrs. Boss is off in Colorado visiting her mom and skiing, mostly skiing I suspect, so I get to work today.  *sigh*  Later today we're supposed to get hit by the leading edge of that nasty ice storm that crippled Oklahoma, Kansas, and Missouri over the weekend.  I don't really want it so maybe it'll skip over us.  Please?
--Barbara