Sunday, February 26, 2017

Quite Possibly The World's Ugliest...


... mitten.  First, since I forgot to rib the first few rows on the front side when I began the flip-top, I thought I'd try dropping down every other stitch to purl the first three and knit them back up so that the edge doesn't curl.  Bad idea.  I did one, badly and with much cussing, and decided I don't mind the curling all that much.  Then I ran out of the black where the decreases for the top began.  Instead of going with my first instinct and just finishing with the red I decided that tying on the gray (which looked thinner to me after I'd checked its vitals on Ravelry to discover that it's classified as worsted the same as the black is) and finishing with that.  I wove in all the tails like a good little knitter, put it on, and thought, man, that is one ugly mitten.  I showed it to Durwood and he defended it and I'm for sure not going to frog the wretched thing and start over so I'll finish the right mitten, striping its flip-top in inappropriate colors as well so it'll be a pair of sorts (the thumbs match).  These aren't going anywhere near the sedate and attractive hat they were begun to go with.  Nope, maybe not even in the same closet.  I'll wear them though because who in their right mind would throw away wool mittens.  Or one anyway.



This morning the sun came out again. It went into hiding sometime on Thursday and hadn't come out for long until today.  The sunshine is blinding on the new snow and I love the icicles that form around the birdbath when I refill it, trying to keep the little patch of open water there for the birds.



I had a busy day yesterday (the reason I didn't blog) and we had leftover sesame chicken fried rice in the fridge but we also had three slices of thick-cut bacon that didn't fit into the muffin tin when Durwood tried his new method of freezing bacon.  I knew we had to fry it up before it went bad so we decided to have breakfast for supper.  I made Belgian waffles and he fried up the bacon.  I for sure didn't need all that butter, salty bacon, and syrup--but it sure was tasty.  We'll have the leftovers tonight and start again fresh tomorrow.  I really want to make the slow cooker Chicken Tikka Masala recipe I found on the Weight Watchers website a couple weeks ago.  Maybe I'll get the chicken thawing when I'm done here.  So far we've liked the WW crockpot recipes we've tried, even the one that said it was pork with "barbecued" beans (note the quotes) that tasted good and flavorful and tomato-y but didn't come anywhere close to tasting like bbq.  Funny how a word, even in quotes, convinces you how something will taste.  It takes some mental gymnastics (and a squirt of Sweet Baby Ray's for a husband) to judge the recipe on its merits.  I think I'll change the name for next time.



The sun came out a bit yesterday afternoon and I happened to notice that the branches of the maple tree were covered with ice that really sparkled when the wind made them move.  I tried taking a picture.  It's okay, not as pretty as in real life but I think it conveys the spirit of the moment.

February 26--Paul Cezanne, Nature Morte au Panier (Still Life with Fruit Basket)  Jean loved the fall because that's when the pears ripened.  The market was full of them in every size and color, and the fragrance was intoxicating.  She knew which cheese went best with each variety and knew better than to even try to find a food that complimented the tiny seckel pears that were as sweet as candy.  Her family complained that she made too many pear tarts and pear pies, that they got sick of poached pears and slices of pear in salads, but she knew that deep down they were as sorry as she was when pears disappeared from the stalls to be replaced by apples for the winter.

Look at the avocado grove.  These are happy plants.  This morning I realized why yoga pants are better than pajama pants.  I can put on socks and shoes and go to Aldi in yoga pants (in a little while) and no one will look twice at me but if I'm wearing pajama pants everyone will know that I was too lazy to get dressed.  Yoga pants rock.  Yoga pants for president!
--Barbara

Friday, February 24, 2017

Well, Lookee There


Remember when it was 65 degrees and broke the February high temperature record on Wednesday?  That's over.  Here's how the west-facing bedroom window looked when I opened the shade this morning and the backyard has disappeared once again.  The birdbath was pert' near empty so nothing was being heated.  I fixed that.  In fact I bundled up (yes, even in pants; I always wear pants to go out there since my adventure last April 1) and went out to right the birdie tree that had fallen in the gale-force winds and fill all the feeders since the fallen seed which the birds had been cleaning up is buried in snow again.  It isn't as cold as it looks out there, only 29 degrees, and the wind isn't even that cold but it sure does look like winter again.  It is, after all, still February and we are in Wisconsin.




After supper I frogged the mitten flip-top and started over.  I looked long and hard at the gray tweed yarn and it looks thicker than the black so I went with red.  If I run out of black I'll just finish with red; I think that'll look just fine.  Oh, I just remembered that I meant to do a couple rows of ribbing on the palm side of the flip-top so the edge doesn't curl.  Well, if I end up frogging back AGAIN I'll do it that time, if not... *shrugs*

February 24--Tricker's of London, Satin-lined Evening Slippers with Sealyham Terriers.  It was no Cinderella glass slipper.  Kate tugged the shoe out from under the clawfoot tub in her new apartment.  She knew when she rented the place that it wasn't going to be the Taj Mahal.  It was the second floor of a house built in the 1940s with absolutely no style in a part of town not yet touched by any kind of economic upturn or gentrification.  In fact the neighborhood attracted people in search of low rent.  Judging from the enticing aromas coming from the surrounding houses, her neighbors were immigrants and really good cooks.  She had high hopes of there being block picnics where she could sample foods from their different countries.  The shoe wasn't foreign or even very interesting.  It was a man's slip-on and it looked like it had been under there a long time.  She wondered how a person could lose a shoe under a bathtub or move out without looking under there.

Naturally Durwood has a doctor's appointment later this afternoon which means I guess I get to go remove the snow from the driveway.  Oh goodie.  On second thought, it isn't very deep, maybe I'll just leave it.  Yeah, that sounds like a good idea.
--Barbara

Thursday, February 23, 2017

*Head, Desk*

It's seven minutes until time to close the dive shop and I just realized that I haven't blogged yet today.  I got busy at home this morning, then left early to run some errands before opening the store.  Once I got here I meant to buckle down right away to do it but I got distracted--for seven hours.  So here I am just getting to it now and, by gum, I'm staying right here until I get it posted.  So there.

Last night I drove home into the sunset and when I got out of the car in my driveway I saw the sun had nestled into the crotch of the maple tree, grabbed my phone, and snapped.  I think I need to live in a high-ish place so I can keep an eye on the sun and moon and the clouds.  I might need a telescope to see the stars too.

I think I have to rethink my plan for the flip-top part of the Bumblebee Mittens.  Last night I finished the thumb of the yellow-gold one, then picked up the required stitches across the back of the hand and cast on stitches for the other half in the black tweed.  On the next round I added red and green tweed to start making helical stripes.  I got a few rounds done and I'm not sure it's what I want.  I had an alternate idea this morning.  I have some gray tweed yarn, I'm thinking maybe I'll have enough of the black to make black and gray stripes on the flip-top.  Or maybe I'll do black and turquoise...

Today was sign-up day for the September session of the Women's Writing Retreat at The Clearing so I waited until 11 o'clock and got right through.  Now I have something just for me to look forward to.  It's nice to have that glimmering in my future.

February 23--Hans Baldung Grien, Portrait of a Lady.  She looks like a child playing dress up.  Her skin is as pale as milk and unblemished.  No wrinkles mar the smooth perfection of her face.  Her hair is drawn up in a silk snood and a flock of egrets gave their feathers to adorn her hat.  Her father must have been wealthy or powerful to afford such extravagant clothing.  Or maybe he spent all he had on her hoping she would snare a rich husband.

The February warm snap is over.  A large mass of cold, rain, and snow are headed our way.  It's okay.  I have warm clothes and a rotten attitude.  I'll be just fine.
--Barbara

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Pink Clouds in the Morning...


... I can't think of a decent rhyme... but aren't those clouds pretty against the blue sky?  This is supposed to be the last day of the warm for a while.  Things are supposed to deteriorate starting tomorrow dragging us back into the 20s and 30s and making frozen water products fall from the sky.  As long as they don't turn into ice when they hit the ground, I don't mind. This is the last of the patio glacier to be seen.  This patch is about the size of a throw rug.  One bad thing about all the warm temps is that hardly any birds come to the feeders because other food sources thaw out and open up as it gets warm.  Although I did notice a chipmunk yesterday morning and thought, oh, the hawk should be here, and whoosh a big, gray shape swept past the patio doors.  It was unsuccessful because the chipmunk stood on the step and watched me do my yoga this morning.  Maybe the hawk got a bird, maybe a sparrow, that'd be okay with me.




I saw a peek of green yesterday and confirmed it this morning.  There are daffodils poking their noses up in front of the house.  Granted it's a south-facing brick wall so we've got a micro-climate going on there but I'm always so excited to see those brave little sprouts.





See the thumb on the black mitten?  That's the entirety of my knitting on Wednesday.  It's 2-1/2 inches long and it took me three tries--knit, rip, knit, cuss, rip, knit--to get it right.  I put my knitting in time-out until after supper last night so I'm hoping the thumb on the yellow-gold mitten behaves today.

February 22--Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Venice (The Doge's Palace)  The light was different.  Greg stood outside his hotel trying to figure it out.  He finally decided that it was the canals, all that water reflecting and refracting the light made Venice unique.  He walked along watching the Italians talking with every part of their bodies.  Arms, hands, and eyebrows all adding emphasis and nuance to what was probably a conversation about where to buy the freshest fruit or whose dry cleaner was better.  He wished he lived his life with half of the passion he saw in their faces and heard in their voices.  His hands were sunk deep in his pockets when a woman linked her arm through his and moved close.  "Please," she said in a hoarse whisper, "pretend to be glad to see me.  They don't want a scene."  He felt her tremble and drew her close, dipping his head down to kiss her cheek.  "I wondered where you'd gone," he said just a bit too loudly.  "I could use a drink."

Man, I wish I was in Venice right now, don't you?  I'd like to be anywhere where I didn't have any "have tos" and "shoulds" in my days.  I feel like I'm getting to the age where those words should be phasing out of my calendar.  I get to work today but first I get to go have my bones rearranged.  Ahh, it feels so good even if it doesn't last long enough.
--Barbara

Monday, February 20, 2017

Yum

I grilled our supper, well, two-thirds of it anyway, and it was heavenly.  It probably doesn't look like much to write home about but that little drumstick (plus three of its kin) and the baked potato spent 45 minutes of quality time in the Weber on the patio and the asparagus got steamed in the microwave so last night's supper tasted like spring.  Yum.




I did a little basking on the front stoop while knitting on the Bumblebee Mittens.  It was lovely to sit out there on a blanket and let the sunshine warm my face.  When I sat down to knit more after supper I realized that knitting two at a time on a long circular needle was slowing me down so I dug out the DPNs, put each mitten on its own set of US 7s, and made it to the top ribbing lickety-split.  Next I'll knit the thumbs--in turquoise tweed--then it'll be on to the flip tops where I expect all hell to break loose, color-wise.  We shall see.


This morning's sunrise was pretty much a yawn.  Not much color and a big bank of blue-gray clouds crowding the southeastern half of the sky but every day the sun comes up and I'm out there to witness it is a good day.


February 20--John Fitzgerald Kennedy, 35th President of the United States.  Ted hated walking with Jack.  People called, "Jack! Jack!" and elbowed Ted out of the way to get to Jack.  When Ted complained, Jack told him that eventually people would get over it, would get tired of him.  It never happened because Jack had to go and get himself shot which elevated him to godhood.  There was no way Ted could compete with that.  Ted couldn't even manage to keep his extramarital affairs under wraps.  Jack always had and Ted always got caught.  It wasn't fair.  Ted was better looking, everyone said so, how come Jack was the shining star?

Don't forget, it's President's Day so there's no mail and the banks are closed.  So if you're planning to rob the mail train or stick up a teller or two or even cash a check, stay home.  Nobody's there.  Hi-oh, Silver, away!
--Barbara 

Sunday, February 19, 2017

What Winter?


It's winter here in name only--for now.


Exhibit A:  Durwood's weather station shows that it was 59 degrees at 2 o'clock.






Exhibit B:  the patio glacier is melting so I went out with a spade to lever some of it up so I can grill some drumsticks and a potato for our supper tonight.  Grilling out!  In February!  In Green Bay!




Exhibit C:  the window over the kitchen sink is open (with the consent of always-cold Durwood) as is the one in the master bedroom, so we have actual, non-stale air flowing through our domicile.




It's supposed to be un-winter until next Friday when the temps are supposed to settle back down into the 30s. 


 
When I was in Hobby Lobby the other day spending my gift card on some "pancake" colored yarn (that it turned out I didn't need after all) I saw this kids' broom that was 40% off.  Where was it two years ago when I scoured the west side looking for a broom for LC?




I'm making progress on the Bumblebee Mittens.  I think I have six more rounds of thumb gusset before those stitches go on a holder or waste yarn and things speed up.  But even with all of the play food and chemo hats I've crocheted the last few weeks I feel like I haven't finished any projects so later I plan to unearth some bulky yarn and some big needles so I can cast on a quick to start, quick to finish something.  Maybe a shawl I bought the pattern and yarn for at Spin a couple years back...

February 19--Hotel Royal Palm and the Miami River.  Diane pulled the handful of mail from the box at the end of the driveway and stood in the shade of the black walnut tree flipping through the pile.  Bill, junk, junk, bill, newsletter, and a postcard.  An old postcard by the look of it, like a black and white photograph that had been hand-tinted.  There was a big palm tree in the foreground then another line of them on the opposite river bank.  Whoever sent the card knew her well, knew she was a big fan of palm trees and vintage postcards.  I wonder who sent it, she thought.  As she turned it over she felt as if a cold hand trailed across the back of her neck.  It was from her mom, who had been dead for six years.

Alrighty then.  Durwood's vacuum sealing the raft of chicken drumsticks I bought at ALDI this morning for 69 cents a pound (what a bargain!) so I think I'm going to grab my knitting and go sit out on the stoop to absorb a little extra Vitamin D while I don't have to court frostbite to do it.
--Barbara

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Just What I Don't Need...

...more yarn.  But what can you do when an ex-Friday Night Knitter shows up with two big (and I mean BIG) bags of yarn she's clearing out of her stash?  Why, you can be polite and take some of it off her hands, that's what you can do.  I'm the only one that likes bulky yarn so I nabbed those two big hanks of wool & linen then found two more balls of it wound up, the two cakes of merino wool & baby alpaca (soooo soft!), and the balls of bamboo & cotton, which are not bulky weight but will be outstanding for knitting Vintage Hankie Washcloths.



I finished the Shamrock Cloth last night at FNK.  The design would have been much more obvious if I'd used the smaller needles that I neglected to take along to the meeting on Thursday but it'll tighten up with a wash and especially a turn in the dryer.  I have enough yarn left to try again if the spirit moves me.


The snow is disappearing at quite a clip.  We didn't have much to begin with, not the piles and drifts of years gone by (and despite the Farmers' Almanac's prediction that we'd have a snowier winter), these days of sunshine and temps in the high 40s aren't doing anything for keeping the snow cover.  I know I complain about the snow but melting when the ground is still frozen just lets it run off into the gutters.  It doesn't soak into the soil which is what the farmers need it to do.  Oh, I know that it's just the middle of February and we'll probably have plenty of days of cold and snow before Spring kicks in but it looks like I need to sweep under the birdfeeders because of all the seed that had fallen on the snow and is now melting into a heap on the frozen ground.  LC commented that the birds were "eating mud" but I told her that it's the "cup hands" seeds she helps me with (nyger seed for finches) that had gotten knocked out of the feeder onto the snow.  She felt better about the birds after that, I think.  I tried to shovel and chop the ice away from the bottom of the driveway yesterday but it's pretty well frozen to the pavement.  Guess I'll just rely on Mr. Sunshine to do the job.

Pick 'n Save (which used to be Copps) has $5 Friday deals every week.  Some weeks there's nothing we need or want and sometimes there're things we do.  This week we got a small liquid Tide, a 1-1/2# block of sharp cheddar (store brand but who cares?), and a 1-1/2# package of thick cut bacon, each for $5.  Now we love bacon but don't eat it much because neither of us needs the fat and I don't need the salt.  However, sometimes a recipe calls for bacon or we get a craving and it's a pain (also wasteful) to buy a whole package, fry up a couple sticks and then the rest spoils because it gets lost in the back of the fridge or freezes into an unwieldy brick and eventually turns rancid.  Durwood read in one of his food mags about rolling each individual slice and freezing it in the cups of a muffin tin, then putting the frozen bacon rolls into a zipper freezer bag to be plucked out individually for frying or recipes.  So that's what he did.  (Please excuse the ancient pan; it was his mom's and one of these days I'll sit on the patio with Mr. Clean Magic Eraser after soaking it with Dawn Power Dissolver [do they still even make that? yes, but only as an industrial product] to see if I can get off most of the baked on grease.)

February 18--Juan Gris, Guitar on a Table.  Someone had used the guitar like a hammer.  It lay splintered on the table, its strings the only things holding the pieces together.  Shards of spruce with ebony inlay were scattered over the ledgers and files on the table that doubled as a desk and the red leather chair lay on its side behind it.  George gaped at the destruction.  He reached out a trebling finger as if to check the pulse of the dead instrument.  Who would do this?  Who hated music enough to  kill his guitar?  Maybe they hated him enough.

Okay, then, it's time for me to haul myself to the grocery because I need one more ingredient for tonight's supper.  It'll be good to be outside.  Maybe I'll even drag a chair out or sit on the front stoop and bask.  Toodles.
--Barbara