Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Cold Beer Here!

Monday night was the Green Bay Launch Party for DS & DIL1's first commercial beer, Good Dog Porter.  One of their friends hosted the party in his gorgeous establishment on Washington St. and it was very well attended, and not just by family either.  They have tap handles with their name on it and DS circulated around handing out samples of the delicious beer.  I'm not a beer drinker, not much of  a drinker at all actually, but I liked it.  It tasted of chocolate and coffee, with a hint of molasses.  It did taste like beer in the end but with all those yummy flavors at the beginning I could put up with a little beer taste.  I bought a pair of glasses (because I can't afford to buy them a whole brewery) with their logo on.  Isn't it cute?  So if you're in Green Bay stop in at The Libertine for a taste before they run out.  It'll be more readily available in the central and southern part of the state since that's the territory of their distributor (their distributor, doesn't that sound like a real business? very grown up) but with any luck in not too many months the business will grow and start showing up in more places.  Right now it's only in kegs but I have faith that one of these days people will say, "stop at the store on your way over for a 6-pack of Zambaldi, will you?"



Holy bejeebers, it's cold and windy today.  I made my first bowl of oatmeal of the winter today for breakfast and I'm wearing my long johns and wool socks and I have foot warmers in my knitting basket if things get desperate later.  Yesterday it got up to 41 degrees so Sunday's snow mostly went away.




I started the Mitten Badger the other night and haven't gotten any further and in my slight beer fog I cast on the first of three makeup remover cloths I'm making for someone for Christmas.  Don't ask, I won't tell, but isn't that pretty yarn?  It's soft too.























The squirrels have really figured out where the goodies are.  This trio is half of the squirrels that raced over as soon as I got inside from filling the feeders yesterday.  Bird & Squirrel TV was evidently having a marathon--or maybe it's just too cold to forage far and this old lady puts out the good stuff.









While eating my breakfast today I made up a menu and shopping list for Christmas weekend in my Bullet Journal.  Aren't you impressed?  Me too.  Now if I only follow through and start cooking ahead...









December 7--Zurmuhlen/Stockline, Bradley.  "Ray Earl, you get out of that Maytag."  Louise heard the buzzsaw voice echo down from the hill behind her cabin.  The rental agent told her that a family lived a quarter-mile back there but said she probably wouldn't see or hear them.  She'd come out on the deck with a mug of coffee to soak in the peace of the day only to hear that someone was in a washing machine.  A metallic thunk echoed down the valley followed by a wild laugh.  She imagined a child hiding in a washer, then the lid slamming shut, and someone turning it on.  That couldn't be right.

Today is Pearl Harbor Day.  Thank a vet, a really old vet.  Gotta run, gonna be late.
--Barbara

Monday, December 5, 2016

Snow

It was snowing when I got up yesterday, it snowed all day, and it was snowing when I went to bed.  Happily the flakes were tiny and it was just cold enough to snow so we got about an inch.  Whew.  Snowing that long could be bad but we dodged the bullet.  I had to broom off my car and shovel the driveway a bit, then sprinkle some salt on it but it wasn't bad.  Last night the snow piled up on all of the bare branches of the maple tree and I couldn't resist going out to take its picture.  When I was out shoveling I was thrilled and exhilarated to see patches of blue sky.  Of course, they've filled in with clouds now but for a few minutes there we had actual sunlight.  Ahhh.

















I was eating my Cheerios this morning when a bird hit the kitchen window.  I looked out to see the Sharp-shinned Hawk swooping across the yard toward the honeysuckle.  I grabbed the camera but by the time it was up and running the hawk had moved to the back fence but I took its picture anyway.  I don't think it caught a bird.




I didn't start the last mitten animal last night after all.  I just kept working on Anklet #5 and got to the part where you add in the instep stitches and start knitting in the round.  I've got my knitting basket ready to go to work with me and I'm absolutely certain that the Mitten Badger will be started and maybe finished before time to lock the door at 6 o'clock.  Unless, of course, there's a continuous parade of customers clamoring to buy gifts and assorted goodies for their diving and snorkeling loved ones.  I swear I'll put my yarn down every time someone comes in and I won't hurry them out so I can go back to my crocheting.  Cross my heart.

December 5--Kozlowski/Stockline, Flower Girl.  Mabel couldn't sit still.  She hopped on one foot and then the other.  She twirled around to watch the skirt of her yellow organdy dress fly out like a parachute.  When she stopped twirling she felt her long curls bounce like springs.  "Mabel," Mama said from the other room, "be sure you don't get dirty and don't eat anything."  Mabel stopped twirling and staggered a little before catching her balance.  "I won't, Mama," she called back.  All that hopping and twirling and bouncing had made her thirsty so she took a big drink of Uncle Jack's tea that he'd left on the table.  It tasted funny, not sweet like the tea Mama and Aunt Peaches drank.  It made Mabel feel like she was twirling when she was standing still.

Did you ever take a sip of someone's cocktail when you were a kid and no one was looking?  Guilty.  I didn't like it much but I did like the Manhattan-soaked cherries Aunt Irene and Uncle Al would give me when we'd go to Turners for supper with Grandma and Grandpa.  I get to work today because Mrs. Boss is off diving in Honduras and then tonight Durwood and I are going to the launch party for DS and DIL1's beer, Good Dog Porter.  Woohoo!  We're all so excited for them.
--Barbara

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Forty Years Ago Today...

this happened.  The young Barbara and the pretty darned young Durwood got married in a hotel banquet room in front of 12 friends and family (and one wedding crasher) by a judge eager to dodge his wife's Saturday to-do list.  I have to admit, I still like the guy.  We've had a lot of adventures, seen quite a bit of the world (both above and below the water), and held onto each other through thick and thin.  We've raised two children to productive adulthood and modeled a good marriage that it seems both of them have emulated.  That may be what we're most proud of.  Life hasn't always been easy and it still presents us with challenges on a regular basis but we're in it together, determined to be each others' best cheerleader, and willing to hold the other one up when life gets too scary or heavy.  Mom was convinced that I was making the biggest mistake of my young life by hitching my wagon to Durwood's star but she was wrong and, to give credit where credit is due, she ate a satisfying amount of crow from the time the ink was dry on our marriage license up to the day she died.  And I never said, "I told you so" (okay, I did but I always smiled when I said it) or at least never held her initial misgivings against her.



We had a little cookie bake yesterday.  I found an icebox butter cookie recipe on Taste of Home that were the perfect canvas for sprinkles and colored sugars.  The decorating was more enthusiastic than precise but they're colorful and they taste great.  F.Y.I.--this is not a good recipe for rolling and cutting out; it's more of a shortbread-type dough meant to be rolled into logs, chilled, sliced, and baked.  I do believe that it will become part of the "have to bake" Christmas line-up.


I gave my right hand a break yesterday and today and knitted on Anklet #5 instead of tackling the Mitten Badger.  I've been crocheting so intensely for the last couple weeks that my hand is aching.  I suspect that I'll be unable to resist starting the badger tonight.  I'm eager to have the last animal complete so I can knit the mitten and cross that off the (very short) "make for Christmas gifts" list.


We woke up to softly falling snow this morning and it has snowed steadily all day.  If you watched the Packer game on TV I'm sure you saw how slippery it's been all day too.  I tippy-toed out to my car and was extra careful as I DO NOT want a repeat of my antics of April Fool's Day.  Not breaking anything any more, except for a fingernail now and again.  I was disappointed that there wasn't a flyover at the start of the football game today even though I was out there in plenty of time with my camera at the ready.  I suspected that the ceiling was just too low for the fighters to fly by safely.  The funny thing is when I was out filling the feeders about 3 o'clock yesterday afternoon three big black jets flew by, very low and very loud, making a practice run.  Of course I didn't have my camera and would have been too late if I did.  Durwood said that maybe they filmed it and would just show it on the Jumbotrons.  I didn't think so but I did hear something that sounded like a cannon shot just after the end of the national anthem (yeah, sometimes I can hear that all the way over here--okay, it's a mile, not very "all the way"), so maybe they have a snowy day contingency plan.



A squirrel has discovered that it can leap from the birdbath to the suet feeder, the little glutton.  *sigh*  Good thing I bought a 12-pack of suet cakes, huh?



December 4--George White, Summer's Children.  Tally and James stood in the shallow pond, bent at the waist, and peering at the tiny silver minnows darting around their feet.  "Do you see any tadpoles?" James asked.  Tally slid nearer to the downed tree on the edge.  "Maybe they're hiding around here.  I saw a heron about here the other day spearing fish.  It might have been looking for frogs too."  James moved slowly into the shade.  "I need tadpoles for my aquarium.  I want to watch them turn into frogs."  Tally laughed.  "Just keep Roger away from them.  You know he'll catch them and leave their bodies on the rug for Mom to find."  James shoved her arm.  "Quit picking on Roger.  Just because he ate your chicks doesn't mean he's bad.  He's a cat, cats catch birds."  He bent over to swirl his net under the log and held it up to examine his catch.

We're going to skip the Barbershoppers' concert tonight.  It's cold, damp, and slippery out there, not good for Durwood's breathing or my footing.  We'll hum Jingle Bells and be done with it.  Happy St. Barbara's Day.  (really, look it up)
--Barbara

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Not Quite a Hawk...

... but we were glad to see the Cardinal at the platform feeder.  He's not quite as bright a red as he is in the summer but on this drab and dreary day any spot of red will do, don't you think?





Last night at Friday Night Knitting I added eyes and a nose to the Mitten Bear, and made the executive decision not to delineate three toes on each paw.  It seemed like a lot of putzy work that was doomed to be undone as soon as playing with him commenced.  Imagine toes, please.





Then I crocheted the Mitten Rabbit.  The ears curled into themselves and LB suggested putting some pink yarn on the inside of the ears.  I did that when I got home, just weaved it back and forth, and it worked like a charm to keep them extended.  Thanks, LB!  This is one funny looking rabbit, I think, but he has a certain charm, not least of which is his poofy white tail, but it might also be his bucktoothed grin.


Months ago I lent my shoebox of embroidery floss and hoops to a friend and she returned it last night--with a bonus thank you of a pair of hand knit slippers.  My tootsies will be toasty this winter.  Thanks, FW!  (I'll send a real, in-the-mail, thank you note to her real soon.  Anyone who gets one of those from me can thank HZ for that; she's the reason I remember my manners.)  I want to try sashiko mending on my beloved red hoodie.  Yes, I ordered a replacement that came last week, one without frayed cuffs and holey sleeves, but I'm intrigued by the visible mending trend and thought that'd be a good place to start.  I need my floss for that.  But I promise (cross my heart) that I won't plunge into that until the last Mitten animal is done and the big white mitten is knitted.  Really.  I won't.  I mean it.  (no, my fingers aren't crossed)

December 3--Dan McGarrah, Couple on Beach.  I could see them from my porch.  My house is on the top of the bluff overlooking the shore and the western horizon.  A lot of people walked along there but few of them looked up.  They looked out to sea or up the beach but only rarely did someone raise their gaze to the bluff top.  My perch gave me a peek at people at their most natural--the lovers, arms entwined, pausing to kiss in golden sunset light, the runners with their looks of pained concentration.  Today's couple might have been lovers once but they weren't now.  Even from this far away I could see that they were fighting.  All at once he backhanded her so hard that her hair swing out and she crumpled onto the rocks at the waterline.

A-hole.  Gonna bake some cookies this afternoon so I've got to dig out all the cooling racks and baking sheets.  I even bought new colored sugars and sprinkles this year.  Pictures tomorrow.
--Barbara

Friday, December 2, 2016

The Morning of the Hawk


It's a dreary, overcast, breezy, and chilly day here in the Upper Hemisphere but there was one bright spot this morning.  I'd done my yoga and was drinking my coffee, thinking about whether I wanted Cheerios or granola for breakfast (turns out I wanted a bagel) when I glanced out the patio doors to see this hawk all puffed up and windblown sitting on the fence.  Within about a minute it spied something, leaned to the left, and dived at whatever was foolish enough to move.  In another couple minutes it was back, showing me its back and tail this time, but soon it turned around to see if any birds, squirrels, or chipmunks were out and about.  A couple chickadees bounced around in the highest branches of the tree but the hawk was unfazed.  Then I saw a flicker of gray off to the right and this squirrel was slinking up, twitching its tail, and chattering to beat the band.  The hawk was unimpressed.  They stayed this far apart, playing chicken for about 5 minutes, then the squirrel jumped into the tree, scolded the hawk a bit more, and then left.  After a few more minutes of nothing going on the hawk spread its wings and flew off.  I love it when hawks come even for a few seconds.  This long visit was a real treat.






I got the Mitten Bear's back legs crocheted and sewed on yesterday, the ears and tail too.  Now all that's left to do is embroider the nose, eyes, and toes, then make the mole, rabbit, and knit the mitten to hold them all and that's done.  That's really all the Christmas making I've got on my list, unless I decide to whip up some dishcloths or makeup remover pads for stocking stuffers.

Last night's prompt writing attempt was pathetic, to say the least, so I'm going to leave you with a quote from Dave Barry that I found on the 1,000 Places to See Before You Die Page-a-Day calendar.  

"There's nothing wrong with enjoying looking at the surface of the ocean itself, except that when you finally see what goes on underwater, you realize that you've been missing the whole point of the ocean.  Staying on the surface all the time is like going to the circus and staring at the outside of the tent."  

Exactly.  Well said, Dave.  (now I can slap a pretty underwater picture on here to lighten up the December drabness)
--Barbara

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Half-Bear-Able

Well, last night after supper I got the front legs of the Mitten Bear made and attached.  Do you see that little green marker on the top of its nose?  That's there because I sewed the first leg on upside down.  Happily I hadn't woven in the whole tail and snipped it off, which would have been nearly impossible to find and undo, I just had to pick and tug and work the yarn out so I could turn the body over and start again.  That's when I pierced his nose with the green marker so I wouldn't do that again.  I started on the first of the back legs but knew it was time to quit when it took me three tries to get six single crochets in the starting ring.  When you can't reliably count to six (and more than once in a row) it's time to put your hook down and go to bed.

I worked on the 2017 calendar and course description at work yesterday (nose to the grindstone, fingers on the keys) so I only added a few rows to the next Anklet.  Not worth showing you.

What is worth showing you is the avocado pit.  That thing seems to add an inch a day and now there are leaves, actual leaves opening at the top.  Durwood's fascinated by it and seems to want to sprout a whole forest of avocado trees.  I'm trying to hold him to the two we've got started.  Since I'm the one who knows where the pots and soil are hiding I think we're safe.



This morning the sunrise was late and puny, but the third time I went out to see if the newspaper had arrived yet (not so far) the sky was that beautiful orange-ish pink all across the horizon.  Ahh, sunrise.  It won't be a sunny day, not by a long shot, but at least it started out trying real hard.



We've had an influx of squirrels the last few days.  Tuesday afternoon after my assistant and I filled the feeders there were seven of them (SEVEN!) out there cavorting and playing chase games.  This morning there were only two and this one was mighty thirsty.

December 1--Dan McGarrah, Beach Sunset.  The sun was a bright disc behind orange crush clouds and the waves rolled golden onto the sand.  The tradewinds paused so the clatter of palm fronds ceased and the only sound was the cry of a far off gull.  It was a close to silent as it got, like the whole world held its breath waiting for the daylight to fade so the night chorus could begin.  The mood was shattered when the kid next door pulled in with his music cranked so loud that the ice in my glass rattled in time with the bass.  So much for paradise.

Speaking of paradise, I need to shower and head off to work.  Toodles.
--Barbara

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

I Called It

Yesterday morning I went downstairs to see about some bibs I decided to rework after LC outgrew them (there's big-headed kids in this clan) and look what I found.  That's right.  It's the "lost" copy of The Mitten that I scoured the house looking for on Sunday and Monday, sitting there calm as you please, in a paper bag next to my sewing machine.  Why that's where it is/was, I have no idea, but I paged through it, found that someone had inked big black letters inside the front cover and decided to keep the new one I bought on Monday.  This copy will go into the LFL box in the back of my car to be sent back out for someone whose Meemaw can't afford to buy them a copy.  All's well that ends well.

I didn't knuckle down to finish the Mitten Bear yesterday.  I was kind of busy with other things all day and after supper when I did sit down I grabbed the sock bag and cast on Anklet #5.  As much as I want to finish the animals I also want to knit Anklets #5 & 6.  I have no explanation for it but knitting as many anklets as possible from black through gray to white and back out of that one skein has captured me and won't let me go.  Good thing the Mitten Animals are the only Xmas yarn crafting on my horizon.  Except for a few dishcloths I'm thinking of cranking out.


I was up and out early yesterday and crested the Ridge Road hill on Mason St. to see this glorious sunrise sky spread out before me.  Thank god for cellphones and reasonable traffic, plus the road's as straight as an arrow.  Sights like this fill my day with joy.

November 30--Lewis Kemper, Father and Son Feet.  Mark held Ethan's feet in his hand.  Both of them in one hand.  Mark's heart lurched at the enormous responsibility that seemed to press him into the earth an inch or two. One of his cells had merged with one of Julie's cells and a whole new person had grown.  A person he was in charge of raising to be a good man.  No one would ever pick him, trust him, the perpetual screw up, with a job this important.  Julie seemed to think he could do it but Julie thought the best of everyone.  What if he botched the job?  Could a bad dad make a kid into a serial killer?  Maybe the kid would be ashamed to have him as a dad.  Tears filled Mark's eyes and one fell on Ethan's forehead.  The baby chuckled and gave Mark a gummy smile like he was just the person Ethan wanted to see.  Maybe it would be okay after all.

Do you realize that today is the very last day of November?  That tomorrow is December 1?  The good news is that on Sunday, December 4 Durwood and I will have been married for 40 years.  FORTY years.  Holy Jeebus, that's a long time for him to put up with me but he says he's still glad he married me.  Poor man, he should probably lie down with a cool cloth on his head.  I get to go to the chiro this morning to see if she can rearrange my left ankle and heel because it still aches from the DO's tender ministrations last Friday, and I am damned tired of it aching.  Knock it off, already.  Sorry, I'm so ready to be done and fixed and over this.  So ready.  Time to flee.
--Barbara