Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Another Busy Day

Today I feel like I was in motion from the time I got up until sitting down after a late-ish supper to knit, until I realized that it's after 10 o'clock and I hadn't made a pot of coffee for Durwood or taken out the trash or gotten in here to blog.  *sigh*  Pretty soon I'll have some time to relax, really I will.  (she says hopefully)

As soon as I finished my morning yoga I flung on some clothes (jeans I haven't been comfortable in for years--woohoo!) and zoomed to Walmart for window shades and curtain rods for the rental side, then to Home Depot for a roll of screen and some spline so I could repair the screens in both storm doors.  I had to zoom because the carpet cleaners were scheduled to arrive at 10:15.  They were a little late which was okay.  It only took them 45 minutes to clean and Scotchgard the carpets next door, and Alex even had some magic solvent that removed most of the couch rubbing stain on the living room wall.  He said he thinks another session with a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser might finish the job.  I'll try that as soon as the carpet's dry.  Tomorrow.

Yesterday afternoon I came back from an errand to find my knitting friend, HH, here visiting with Durwood.  She lost her mom about 10 days ago and she's just lost.  She's single and has taken care of her mom for as long as I've known her--maybe 6 or 7 years--and to have that abruptly end has to make her feel off balance.  Anyway, she collected the flowers from her mom's funeral last Sunday and stopped by to share a few of the roses with me.  They're huge, beautiful, and they smell great.  She said she hoped I didn't mind "funeral flowers" and I assured her that sadness and death never sticks to something that beautiful.  It was very thoughtful of her, don't you think?

You know that today is the first day of Spring, right?  Well, it might say Spring on the calendar but here's feathered proof that Spring hasn't arrived, no matter what the bulbs in my front yard think.  This is a junco, one of the birds that migrates south from the Arctic to winter here where it's warmer.  Yeah, warmer.  I stubbornly took a walk this afternoon, froze my nose nearly off in the cold wind from the northeast, but I got to listen to the next installment of The Walk.  Exciting things happened in the story which makes me want to walk again tomorrow.  Maybe it won't be so windy.

Last night I cast on and knitted a few rounds on March Preemie Hat #3.  It's a teeny tiny preemie hat which shouldn't take too long to finish.

This evening I was pawing through the bin of yarn etc. I keep in the living room and found myself casting on and knitting the ribbing of O's Packer Barley hat.  This cheap acrylic yarn is pretty scratchy but I'm hoping a bath in creme rinse helps it feel a little softer once the knitting is finished.

March 20--Amadeo Modigliani, Portrait of a Woman.  Paula stared out at the gray day.  Morning mist had thickened into fog that clung to the trees like spiderwebs.  Shapes appeared and were obscured by the shifting fog.  At times it looked like the pine forest was marching toward the house.  Her fingers clutched the fabric of her skirt, pleating and smoothing it in turns.  Her dark eyes flicked up to the treetops.  They followed a flock of crows as the birds squabbled from branch to branch.

The best news of the day is that we have a tenant.  The woman from my caregivers' group stopped by after work today, walked through, asked a few questions, filled out an application, I called her references, and she took it.  She'll bring a check later in the week and I'll hand over keys as soon as the work in the kitchen is done.  Hallelujah!  And whew.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Signs of Spring

Even though the high temperature today equaled the low temperature of the past weekend, signs of Spring were everywhere.

When I opened the curtains this morning the sky was clear and blue with the palest of pink on the clouds and when I went out to pick up the newspaper the dawn pink was reflected on the clouds in the west even though it had disappeared in the east.  For some reason that pink reflection on the clouds in the western sky tickles me no end.

Durwood exclaimed that there was a robin at the birdbath, I turned to look and, by golly, he was right.  It's the first robin either of us has seen this year.

Then he commented that the grass on top of the rise in the backyard right below the retaining wall is turning green.  Look!  Green grass.

Peering deep into the hyacinth leaves you can see the tip of the flower stalk just waiting to grow and make a beautiful purple flower.  

I didn't take a walk today.  It was chilly and windy and by the time I had time to walk I was already cold so I decided to wait for a less windy day.  Cold I can endure, it's the wind that cuts through any coat that keeps me indoors.

Yep, spring is on the way all right.  I've been so busy trying to get the rental side of the duplex ready to be shown later this week that I didn't knit or sew today.  I'd show you a picture of the caulking gun and putty knife I used to glue the kitchen cupboard kick board cove back into place but I was afraid I'd glue my finger to the shutter button of the camera.

March 19--Paul Cezanne, Hamlet at Payannet, near Gardanne.  Tucked into the foothills, the little village baked in the summer sun.  The stucco buildings and houses were all the color of biscuits perfectly baked and ready to be buttered.  The red tile roofs looked like currant jam.  Max and Claire felt baked too.  The countryside had been flat and treeless the whole way and the anemic air conditioner in their rental car was worse than not having it at all.  Max parked under a peeling sign that read "Hotel" in poison green letters.  "I hope that means we can get something to drink here," he said, stretching his arms behind his head.  "It's probably too much to hope for that it will be cool inside."  He got out of the car and stood in the powdery yellow dust of the road.  "Did you know that France would be this hot?"  Claire just shook her head, too hot and thirsty to speak.

Maybe I'll go cast on another preemie hat.  It feels odd not to have some knitting progress to show you every day.  At least I'm not sitting here racing to be done with this post by midnight.  That has to count for something.  Tomorrow the carpet cleaners come and also tomorrow I plan to replace the screen in both front storm doors and go to Walmart for new window shades and some simple curtain rods.  On Thursday the replacement countertop is supposed to be delivered to the home improvement store which means I can schedule the handyman and plumber to come early next week and get this thing ready for new tenants.  Almost...

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Walking The Walk

Today was another glorious sunny, 50 degree day so after I washed the windows in the rental side and went to the funeral of one of my knitting friends' mother, I got my jeans and walking shoes on, made sure The Walk podcast was indeed on my iPod, and strode off.  I turned on the podcast as I stepped out of the patio door and was transported to the train station in Inverness, Scotland where bad people set off an electromagnetic pulse that crashed all of the electric things like trains and cars and phones so I (Walker, the hero of the tale) have to walk to Edinburgh with a package to save the world, being wary of people I meet, not knowing who's a good guy and who's bad.  By the time I was 10 minutes into the 22 minute segment I had stopped twice because I thought someone was following me only to discover that the footsteps were in the story.  By the time I was almost home I was considering going around again so I could listen to the next installment but the sun was going down, I was chilly, and it was time to make supper.  You'd better bet I'll be taking a walk tomorrow.  Funny how caught up in the story I am after only the first chapter.  And it's free.

To extend my time outside I did a little stick picking up so on the off chance the stick truck comes anytime soon the sticks will be ready.  I grabbed the loppers and some leather gloves and trimmed the rose canes.  Not as short as I did last year, forgetting then that the early blossoms come on the "old wood" and the late blossoms are on the "new wood."  I'm not making that mistake again, I live for those deep red and very fragrant blooms to remind me of Dad.  When I trimmed the roses I had to keep this branch of rose hips.  They're a deep mahogany color and too pretty to put on the stick pile so they're in a vase next to me keeping me company while I type.

Next to the rose bush these two little crocuses are poked up, getting ready to unfurl their petals any day now.  Except it's supposed to get chilly again.  Daytime temps in the mid-30s for the rest of the week.  Good thing I have a warm coat, hat, and mittens so I can keep "walking to Edinburgh."

These are the daffodils I planted 40 years ago when we built this house.  They've come up through juniper bushes, survived me digging out the junipers, and keep coming up faithfully like clockwork.  One year when Mom and Dad lived here, a mama Mallard duck nested in the juniper and sat on her eggs in a ring of yellow flowers.  Looks like it might be time to pile on more mulch...

I've been pretty busy trying to get the rental side ready for new tenants so I don't really have a "big" knitting project going but I took my knitting bag to the funeral (what? I sat in the back and sang along, no lightning struck me down) and cast on another preemie hat.  I decided to make the top cord a bit longer, then sew it down to make a loop.  I like it.  P.S. the yarn does that all by itself.

March 18--Winslow Homer, The Four Leaf Clover.  Amelia crouched over the green patch of rounded leaves.  She took her time examining each stem before moving on to the next.  "Three.  Three.  Three," she said as she rejected them all.  Mary had told her that she had seen a four-leaf clover but Amelia was having no luck finding it at all.  And her fingers were getting green.

Most of the time I don't think my weight loss is very evident but when I was washing windows and would reach over my head my jeans slipped down on my hips.  Not wanting to be mistaken for a young black man on my walk I dug out a belt to keep my pants around my waist where they belong.  Hm, maybe it's evident after all... close to 30# gone.

Saturday, March 17, 2018


This morning our electrician dive friend, TD,  and his wife, BD, came over to do a little work on the rental side of the duplex--hanging a new dinette light, mounting a new combination smoke and CO detector, reprogramming the garage door openers, and installing a wall bumper over a hole the lock button had knocked behind the front door.  BD and I were looking at the bulbs sprouting and look at what we saw.  Crocuses!  Blooming!  Little bright yellow spots of promise of Spring on the way.

It was a gorgeous sunny day.  The temps got near 50 degrees so in the afternoon I got my iPod and earbuds all organized, tucked my wallet into a shoulder bag, and walked over to the birdseed store for some suet pellets and so I could "legally" listen to the first installment of The Walk.  Except it wasn't on my iPod.  When I hooked the iPod up earlier it had said it was on there but somehow it wasn't.  So I selected a book I'd copied onto it from CDs and listened to that.  I was quite disappointed and more than a little peeved.  Still, the walk was lovely in the sun and spring warmth and on my way back home I passed a car parked at the end of our block and discovered that I knew the man just getting out of it.  He's the brother of a guy I went to high school with and who was in my old writing group (small world) so we stood in the sunshine and chatted for a few minutes before he went back into the house where he's a caregiver for some developmentally disabled men and I toddled on home--to sit right down at the computer and see if I could fix whatever kept The Walk from fonging onto my iPod.  I fixed it so I guess that means I'll have to take another walk tomorrow.  Oh darn.

A bluejay came back to the peanut wreath a few times today.  Naturally by the time I got the camera up and turned on it flew up into the tree but I managed to snap a single shot of it there before it flew off.  There was also a nearly-yellow goldfinch flitting around but it either hid behind a feeder or flew away just as I snapped the shutter button.  I had a few blank frames.  I deleted them.

Even though there isn't a drop of Irish blood in my veins I rustled up a "traditional" supper of corned beef, cabbage, potatoes, and carrots.  I found a nice, fairly lean 3# flat brisket that I did in the slow cooker with too many potatoes, etc. all day.  It was totally delicious and I've told Durwood that he has to eat the rest of it.  I've got two different, 2-serving's worth of WW suppers in the fridge so I'll just heat up some corned beef etc. for him and some of one of the others for me.  That way he'll have what he wants and I won't be eating salted beef for three days or so which would screw up my weigh-in--which comes bright and early Monday morning.

March 17--Henri Rousseau (Le Douanier), The Environs of Paris.  Lila raised the shade of their hotel room window.  The faded chintz curtains framed a view of the Seine River as it flowed into Paris but it was nowhere near the view of the City of Lights she had hoped for.  All she saw were factories spewing yellow-brown pollution into the sky and a pair of black smokestacks that reminded her of the heavenward pointing finger of a fire and brimstone preacher back home.

Well, I got neither the taxes organized nor the rental side's windows washed today but I got a lot of other things crossed off my list, with TD's help, and I did get in a walk even though I didn't get to listen to The Walk while I walked.  The corned beef was a big success and there's always tomorrow.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Cold Morning

I was up and out early this morning and caught the sun as it rose over the horizon.  I was crossing the Mason St. bridge headed east so I had the luxury of being up above the ground when the ball of fire topped the trees and buildings.  Getting to see that glorious sight almost made it worth being up too damned early.  Almost.

Yesterday after my shower it became clear to me that I was in desperate need of some lotion so when I went downstairs to throw in a quick load of laundry I fired up the lotion factory (aka: an old microwave and a stick blender that are used for nothing but lotion making) and made some.  It got a little thicker than I'd planned but too thick is better than too thin, right?  Lotion-wise, I mean.  I've been using Eucerin which is expensive but weird.  It doesn't seem to soak into my skin but leaves a sticky, waxy feel on it.  Not the feeling I'm going for.  My homemade lotion is much silkier and does a better job of keeping my winter skin smooth, not dry and scratchy, plus I put in a tiny bit of grapefruit fragrance oil so it smells really nice but not overpowering.

The renters moved out last night so today I had our cleaning lady come to really clean.  We were pleasantly surprised that the tenants did a great job of cleaning, not that they were slobs or anything, but two working people with a one-year-old and a twelve-year-old with behavior problems have a bit more on their minds than wiping out cupboards.  The carpet cleaners come on Tuesday, the new countertop should arrive on Thursday so I can schedule the handyman and the plumber for early the following week.  Good thing the cleaning lady came, she noticed that the bathroom sink needs to be recaulked and that the main water pipe downstairs has a trickle of a leak.  I plan to wash the windows myself, maybe on Sunday, and put new batteries in all the smoke and CO2 detectors to make sure they still work, pick up a few odds and ends at Home Depot, then I can call the two prospective tenants and get the place rented.  Fingers crossed that one of them decides that this is the place for them and we don't have to advertise and sort through random applicants.  Oh, and I need to schedule the electrician to replace the faulty light in the dinette.  It's flickering and going through bulbs quickly, for safety's sake I'm calling the electrician.

It was cold and sunny today so I bundled up and walked to the park.  I need to get out and stretch my legs and clear my head.  Also I've subscribed to a podcast called (oddly enough) The Walk which is meant to be listened to while you take a walk, each segment's about 25 minutes long, roughly a mile's worth.  The listener is the hero of the thriller so I'm anxious to get out there and walk so I can listen.  I've avoided listening to it while sitting and knitting because I feel like that'd be cheating, also I need to walk.  I didn't listen today because I walked with my assistant but tomorrow (once I get the taxes organized) I plan to strap on my iPod and stride out.

I realized this afternoon when I got my knitting basket ready to go to Friday Night Knitting that I didn't have anything on my needles to knit.  !!!!!  What's up with that?  So I cast on March Preemie Hat #1 and got to the crown decreases at FNK, then finished it when I got home.  I think this is the pattern I'll share in the newsletter this time because it's short and goes fast because it's knitted with worsted weight yarn and size US 7 needles, a far cry from the baby yarn and skinny needles most preemie hat patterns demand.

March 16--Follower of Hans Holbein the Younger, Portrait of King Henry VIII.  Hank thought he was a real Lothario, always sniffing around women, looking to trade up in the marriage stakes.  You would think that the women would wise up and run the other way when his eyes turned to them but I guess they thought that they would be the one to satisfy him, to tame him.  If one of them would have given him a son, his headlong rush to produce an heir would have ended and the wife-beheading would have stopped.  He didn't count girl children, no one counted girls then.

Well, look at the time.  It's almost 11:30--again, and here I am up and blogging this late--again.  Let's hope I can sleep past 6 o'clock tomorrow morning.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Got My Yarn Chores Done

I sat myself down on the couch today and finished the Tweedy Log Cabin Mitts.  The thumb and gusset were very cleverly designed and the instructions of the whole pattern were very clear and very precise.  I will knit these again but I might make the thumb a little taller so it keeps more of my thumb warm.

Then I sewed up the Colorful Tunisian Dishcloth and crocheted around the edge.

This morning the sky was gorgeous and stayed that way all day.  It even got warmish--45 degrees in the late afternoon.

But the most amazing thing today was a phone call we got this morning.  Seems the guy moving out next door told a co-worker about the duplex and he's very interested in moving in and he can do that April 1.  Now I have 2 people wanting to move in and I didn't even have to advertise or put out the sign.  I'll get in touch with them next week, have them come walk through, fill out an application, then call their references and check them out online for prior evictions and convictions.  Can't be too careful.

March 14--Christian Lacroix, Cocktail Dress.  Ellen felt like a poppy in the dress.  The skirt was stiff red satin with net underskirts so it was held out in a bell around her legs.  The velvet bodice was a purple so dark that it looked black.  She looked at herself in the mirror and thought of the drifts of poppies in her Aunt Tillie's garden in late spring.  Green shoes and bag.  She needed green shoes and a green clutch to complete the look--and maybe some poppy earrings.  Or would that be too much?

I printed out three copies of the rental lease agreement earlier today, 10 pages each, and it was only afterward that I realized that the pages were numbered incorrectly and Durwood asked me to take out one of the points.  I have such a bad habit of zooming ahead to do something without thinking it through and then wasting paper, ink, and time.  Good thing I look cute with my new haircut or the day would have been a total failure.  (no, I don't really feel that way but I thought this post needed some drama at the end)

Tuesday, March 13, 2018


This is the time of year when I'd buy all of the plants in the stores and all of the seed
packets (it's the pictures that get me).  I fell into the plant trap the other day when I was in ALDI.  They had a rack of foliage plants--Philodendron, English Ivy, Swedish Ivy, and Wandering Jew.  One of the Wandering Jews jumped into my cart and wouldn't get out.  There I was in the aisle between the random crap (what they call "special buys") and the frozen foods arguing with a plant.  See, the sign said they'd been $7.99 and were marked down to $2.99 so my resistance was already crumbling before the plant grabbed me.  I lost the battle and this came home with me.

A couple weeks ago I dug out a bigger clay pot and some potting soil from the garage and re-potted the avocado we sprouted last spring.  I gave it a nice big drink of water and pinched off the terminal bud, hoping that it'd open up a branch or two.  No such luck.  It merely sent out a new terminal bud from the side of the top.  *sigh*  I was supposed to snip off the top when it got to about 6" tall but I forgot and now it's evidently too late.  I should probably blame the potting soil, it was the kind with built-in fertilizer.  Anyway, see?  Sprouts!

I meant to sit down and start knitting the thumbs of the Tweedy Log Cabin Mitts today but found myself hooking my way through a Tunisian Short Row Dishcloth.  I feel like I made a tactical error in the first wedge.  See how much more elongated it is than the others?  That's going to require some creative seaming together but it's just  a dish/washcloth.  I'm not even sure that the yarn is cotton or has cotton in it.  It feels like cotton but it burned like acrylic, making an acrid smell and a bead of melted plastic on the end.  Maybe it'll act like cotton once it gets wet...  I like the colors, though.

As I started writing this blog post I was trying to think what I'd done with most of my day.  Then it dawned on me.  I decided to get a jump on the April Knitting Guild newsletter and migrate the "every month" parts over to a new document so I won't have to race to finish it by my self-imposed deadline of 2 weeks before the next meeting.  I was pleased as punch to discover that I can cut and paste items from the old version of Print Shop (where I've been making the newsletter the last 2 months) to the new version I bought and hadn't taken the time to explore yet.  This afternoon I moved all the things that don't really change over into a new document, some rearranging will have to happen but this is a huge advance on last month.

March 13--Aubrey Beardsley, Arthur Learns of the Sword Excalibur.  The hand rose above the surface of the ice like someone clawing their way out of the underworld.  Calla stood shivering on the shore trying to blink away the image.  She tried hard to convince herself that it was an oddly shaped branch from a tree that fell into the river upstream but she knew no tree branch wore a gold ring or painted its nails red.  She held tight to Kipper's leash, keeping the curious Lab off the ice.  Sheriff Maxwell had come himself in answer to her call and had asked her to stay there while he went out on the ice to investigate.  "Stay here, will you?" he said.  "If that ice is thin I don't want to be without someone to call it in."  When she nodded he had patted her shoulder, said "thanks, Cal," and side-stepped down the bank and out onto the ice.

I went to a meeting this evening and mentioned that our renters are moving on Thursday.  One of the women there asked where the duplex is.  When I told her, she said that her sister lived nearby and she'd hoped to move closer to her sister.  She asked what the rent it and when I told her she said, "Right in my price range."  She's coming to look at it next week.  The only hitch, besides having to live next door to me, is that she's in her apartment until the end of April so we'll be without tenants and therefore rent for 6 weeks but I think she might be just what we're looking for.  And I contemplated skipping the meeting.  Glad I went.