Tuesday, March 19, 2019

More Myself

Today I felt like I was more myself.  I got things done.  I went out and filled the feeders this morning.  While I was out there I tried to shove the broken timbers back onto the retaining wall and only succeeded in making it worse so I hoisted the broken ones on top of the wall and wrenched out the enormous spikes that have held them together for the last 40 years.  (look how far down the snow has melted! love that warming up March sunshine)  I called my landscaper/classmate yesterday to make sure that I'm on his springtime to-do list.  He's going to stop over within the next couple weeks to remeasure and see how the wall weathered the winter.  He estimates that they'll be able to start work around May 1.  Works for me.

Mr. Downy Woodpecker was back pecking at the seed wreath today.  He's going a good job, at least the squirrels and ground-feeding birds appreciate all of the seeds that he knocks down.


Daffodils!  The daffodils are sprouting!  Look at that green.  Beautiful, isn't it?  These daffodils are the bulbs that I planted the first autumn we lived here way back in 1978 when DS was a babe in arms.

This afternoon I went to the Y, did a quick circuit of the weight machines, then walked in the pool for half an hour so I smell like chlorine even though I took a shower before I got dressed.  Oh, I discovered a fun machine in the women's locker room at the Y.  On the wall next to the sauna (which I will never go into because I hate being hot) is a rectangular box about 14"x14"x18" with a flip-up lid which exposes a pierced basket like a cylindrical colander.  It's a swimsuit spinner!  You put in your dripping swimsuit and hold the lid down and the machine spins the water out of it so your backpack isn't soaked.  Isn't that brilliant?  I'm very glad that I found that amenity.  (I'd have taken its picture but I'm guessing that action would have been grossly misunderstood.)

On the way home from the Y I stopped at a different Goodwill from the one I usually frequent and found a couple sweaters and a neck warmer on the clearance rack that I can use to demonstrate duplicate stitch at the knitting guild meeting on Thursday night and when I got home I sat myself down and wrote out directions that I can print and hand out.  I also found some charted designs, mostly things you'd put on a kid's sweater, that I printed off so the knitters will have something to work from.  I think I'll see if I don't have a pad of graph paper that I can cut into half-sheets so they can make their own chart with words or pictures too.

I think I really did fix my cowl boo-boo.  And now you can see the color change.  I'll measure the blue part so that the brick red part is the same, then I'll switch back to blue, then back to brick red.  Like I planned it.  See how little gray was left?

Today's toss was actually three days' toss--two ancient photo floodlights, a wooden multi-game set that Durwood got for DS years ago that never got gifted and isn't wanted, and I cleaned out a small bin of Mom's mementos.  Some I'll keep, some I tossed, and some I'll send to various family members so they can deal with things as they wish.

19 March--Tropical Obsession. 

A rainbow--and it hasn’t even rained. Gray clouds are gathered all around but above where I stand the sky is clear bright blue. Arcing over my head is a narrow rainbow like a multicolor ribbon in the sky. I amazes me that light can shine through millions of tiny droplets and form such a coordinated whole as an arch of transparent color all across the sky. A perfect arc, a segment of a circle that would be complete if only we were far enough away. Soon the sun’s angle changes, the angle of refraction is lost and the ribbon in the sky disappears. The wind blows the clouds out to sea and the sun shines hot in the clear blue bowl of the sky.

Well, I think I've finally gotten so tired of myself eating so much ice cream and sweets and then working out to feel better and not feeling stronger so I drew a (metaphorical) line in the sand Sunday night and resolved to really get back to the straight and narrow and to log what I eat honestly.  I even ran the chocolate pudding recipe through the WW recipe create function online so I can still have a dish of pudding after supper.  At least until they run out.  Man, that's good pudding.  Even just two days of eating better, eating less crap has made me feel better about myself.  Go, me!  Now I just have to keep it up.

Monday, March 18, 2019

One of Those Days

I didn't do a darned thing today.  I read the newspaper, did the Jumble, Sudoku, and the crossword, then adjourned to the couch where I watched the last three episodes of Season 6 of The Great British Baking Show (Rahul won). That took me to about 2 o'clock when the doorbell rang.  A knitting friend, HH, stopped to visit.  She stayed for a couple hours so no web surfing or box tossing got accomplished.  The only thing I did was move the conversation into the kitchen so that I could peel and cut up a big bag of carrots and cut an onion to roast to have veggies with the remaining frozen meals.


I finally managed to snap a photo of the chipmunk when it perched on the step.  It frantically dashes around from the feeders to the retaining wall evidently expecting to be pounced upon at any moment.

This evening I dropped a stitch.  Grrr.  I had to tink back a couple rounds to get to a place where I felt like I was safe starting up again.  I broke off the blue variegated and attached the red/brown yarn so that should make the hat look more like it was planned.

18 March--Tropical Obsession. 

Sharon had planed to spend the afternoon in town shopping but Maria stopped her on her way out. “You going downtown?” she said. Sharon slowed her steps, trying to decide if she were willing to do a favor for the maid, not sure she felt like being that nice. “I thought I’d browse in Littman’s and maybe Island Fashions.” Please don’t ask me to run and errand, she thought, please don’t. “Why?” Maria saw the friendly light go out of Sharon’s eyes. “No reason, really.” Maria shrugged. “I noticed a couple cruiseboats in. Might be crowded down there.” You might see your beloved Diego, such a big man, she thought. You might see him making eyes at another girl he can get into bed. “Have a nice afternoon, missus” she said with a smile.

I feel like I'm teetering on the brink of a slippery slope to laziness.  I realize that I'm retired and I don't HAVE to do things but I struggle with my damned work ethic, with guilt if I don't accomplish things every day.  I need to get over that--fast.  Tomorrow's a Y day so I'll feel better about myself.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Sorry, Jell-O

I was invited to DS's for St. Patrick's Day supper and was asked to bring dessert so I unearthed Mom's green Depression Glass pudding cups, made a batch and a half of real homemade chocolate pudding, bought a can of Reddi Wip, and a box of Andes candies.  (I'm not a mint fan but the rest of the family likes it so I tucked a mint into the little swirl of whipped cream on top of the pudding.  It was well-received.)

The pudding recipe is from a booklet that was shrink-wrapped to a Hershey's Cocoa can in the late 1970s and is the simplest and most delicious chocolate pudding ever.  No, really.  It only takes about 15 minutes to make, is rich and creamy, and never disappoints.  When I'd filled all of the pudding cups there was a small amount left in the pan so I made the supreme sacrifice and ate it to make sure that the pudding quality was high enough for my beloved family to eat.  I am happy to say that it was.

This morning I noticed that the garden has really emerged from the snow over the last couple days.  Pretty soon I'll be able to gather up last year's bales into circles of wire to use to grow this year's potatoes.  I saw on Instagram this last week that a straw bale gardener in Virginia had built some wire circles about bushel basket size, filled them with last year's well-composted bales, and will grow potatoes in them.  I can do that.  Also, depending on the weather, next month I can get fresh bales and get them lined up for conditioning and ready for planting in early May.  I just have to figure out what I want to plant.

On my way home from the Y today I stopped at Office Depot to pick up the knitting books I dropped of last Friday to have coil bound.  It costs just over $3 per book to have the spine cut off and coil binding added and it makes them so much easier to use.  However.  I flipped through the smallest of them and noticed that the pages were upside down.  Thinking that they'd just mixed up the covers I turned it around to check.  Nope, the first 12 pages were right side up and the rest are upside down.  I noticed it in the store and told the clerk that I could deal with it.  Which I easily can but when I got home I figured out the problem.  From page 13 on they punched the holes in the wrong side of the pages.  I don't know how that happened unless they put in about that many pages to punch at a time, the clerk got interrupted, and when she came back to the job flipped the pages.  It's kind of funny and doesn't hurt the usefulness book.  

Speaking of old knitting info I heard of a new (to me) way to do Fair Isle knitting which is two-color knitting, like those yoke sweaters from Sweden, etc.  The link sent me to a YouTube video and then to a seemingly defunct Canadian yarn company.  On the company website there was an instructional DVD that I tried to click on but nothing happened so I kept searching and finally found a single used copy of it on Amazon.  I ordered it.  (of course I did)  And it came yesterday.  I watched the very beginning of it just to make sure that it played and it's a festival of wildly colorful and oversize sweaters from the early 2000s.  I can't wait to watch the how-to part and give it a try.

This morning I finished March Preemie Hat #3 then made and attached the pompoms.  After supper I worked on the Painted Sky Brioche hat.  The gray solid yarn ran out quickly so now the solid is white.  I like them both and hope the blue variegated runs out before the very tippy-top of the hat so it looks striped rather than like I ran out.  Hmm, maybe I'll knit a couple inches in the blue and then a couple inches in the brick... that might work.

17 March--Tropical Obsession. 

The little black bird with the bright yellow breast stood on the glass-topped patio table, its delicate feet spread, its bright eye seeming to judge how far Nola could be trusted. It turned its head from side to side, long tongue flicking in and out of its curved narrow beak, working up the courage to scoop up the grains of sugar Nola had spilled when sweetening her tea. “Come on, little bird,” she said, “I won’t hurt you.” She picked up her cup, which caused the bird to fly to the safety of a nearby palm, sitting on a frond chattering its displeasure. But fear didn’t keep the small Bananaquit from getting what it wanted for long. She made up her mind to be more like it from then on.

There's nothing on my calendar tomorrow or Tuesday so I don't HAVE to do anything... except go to the Y on Tuesday... and it feels like the height of luxury, even though I'm retired and can clear my calendar any day I want to really.  I've decided that that's the real luxury of being this age.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

A Big Red Sign of Spring

This morning the sunrise was especially inviting...

(ignore that giant pile of snow)

and this Bluejay spent quite a bit of time acrobatically pecking peanuts from the wreath.


Look at how much of the patio snow has melted.  A week ago it was piled up to within 6 inches of the bottom of the birdbath basin.  Today the base of the birdbath stand is visible.  That's at least 10 inches gone in a week.  No wonder people got flooded out yesterday.


It was so nice that I saddled up and drove to Sturgeon Bay to visit a knitter friend and spend the afternoon knitting and chatting. Along about 3:00 we heard the bridge horn, the drawbridge opened, and the big red Coast Guard cutter sailed slowly from west to east from the bay of Green Bay toward the Lake Michigan end of the ship canal and its home at the CG station there.  They were keeping a narrow channel open and that means that pretty soon the giant 1000-foot freighters that winter for maintenance there will start plying the waters again.

I got plenty of knitting accomplished.  I cast on and knitted March Preemie Hat #2, we had lunch, and I cast on March Preemie Hat #3.  It needs about another inch, maybe more, before the top gets seamed and two pompoms are made to adorn the corners.

On the way home I noticed a lot of cars and people around Wequiock Falls so I swung off the highway to see the melt water roaring over the cascades.  The water is muddy but it's so nice to see it flowing instead of frozen.

16 March--Tropical Obsession. 

Susan stood in the gallery staring at the framed and matted photos. She didn't go to the galleries on the island often. Most of the art for sale was patently made for sale to tourists, tourists who most often left their good sense--and good taste too she thought--at home. What seemed to sell best were naive paintings of colorful flowers, palm trees, and romantic depictions of island life. Too many of them to count made their way onto cruise ships and airplanes to hang in middle-class living rooms as a reminder of a few days' holiday in the tropics. But these photos were different. Jorge Provenza, whoever he was, had used light like a paintbrush and his camera lens as his canvas. What might have been a trite picture of a lone flamingo at sunset in less imaginative hands had become through Jorge's eye an abstract shape emerging from flame-colored water. No sky, no trees, just barely ruffled water and that distinctive silhouette. Susan leaned closer. Damn. Not for sale.

Before I left this morning I bagged up the trio of bell peppers that I cut up and spread on a baking sheet to freeze and I popped out and bagged the 1-cup pucks of frozen chicken broth I made with the carcass of my last rotisserie chicken.  Both of those will make cooking easier.  Thanks to Durwood for teaching me to do stuff like that.

I'm glad I drove away this morning and spent the day elsewhere.  It isn't as though I have a lot of things weighing on me here but a change of scenery and a day spent visiting is a real break--even though I don't really understand what I needed a break from.  Maybe just myself.