Wednesday, August 21, 2019


This morning I took a few minutes to weed three-fence-sections worth of retaining wall, plant the last three (very thirsty) Stella d'Oro day lily plants, lay out two sections of soaker hose, and get all of the plants watered.  Finally.  Then I cleaned up, dressed better, and went off to get my hair cut.


After my haircut I went to a local shoe store to see if they had any Keen-type sandals on sale.  I've been wanting some but am not willing to pay full price.  I bought this pair of oyster gray ones.  They fit right and feel pretty good.  They might even get to go West--if they behave.

By then it was time to go to The Attic cafe and bookstore to meet ACJ to write for a couple hours.  My brain felt turned off for the most part but after an hour of visiting chat I poked earbuds in, cued up nature sounds on my phone, turned on my Alphasmart, and put my fingers on the keys.  And words came out!  Four hundred sixteen of them, to be precise.  I was amazed and pleased because I've been so distracted by the anniversary of Durwood's death and my impending trip out West.  Earbuds, nature sounds, and Alphie are my three writing triggers.  They work every time.  No brilliance guaranteed, of course, but words come and that's all that I can hope for.

We chatted and wrote, read our writing and chatted some more until it was too late for me to go home to shake the hair schnipples out of my clothes so I toddled along to my monthly grief group meeting feeling rather itchy.  An old friend came to her first meeting (at my urging) so we caught a burger afterwards.  That meant that I had been feeling little tiny, itchy pieces of hair sift down my back, under my bra, and begin making their way into my undies.  Aargh.  As soon as I got home I flung all those hairy clothes down the chute and took a shower.  Ah, what luxury.  What relief.

I knitted on Car Knitting Warshrag #14 at the grief group meeting and got to within half a row of finishing so I brought it inside, finished it, and dug out two more colors of yarn to start #15.  I'll knit a few more rows tomorrow before putting it into the pocket of the driver's door of my car so it'll be there when I need drawbridge-up, waiting-room, or support-group knitting.

21 August--Barbara Malcolm, Horizon. 

             When I awoke the next morning I could tell before I opened my eyes that the blizzard was over and the power was back on.  Bright sunlight magnified by fresh white snow edged the shades and the wind wasn’t whistling around the house.  I could hear the furnace churning out heat.  I rolled out of bed, put on my robe, and went into the bathroom.
It wasn't until I stepped into the kitchen that I remembered I'd had an overnight guest.  By then Abel had seen me and it was too late to go back and brush my teeth and my hair.
"Good morning, Gail.  How'd you sleep?" he said. "I hope you don't mind; I made coffee."  He held out a steaming mug.
“Thanks.”  I glanced up at him and decided he'd been up for hours.  He looked fresh and cheerful.  At that moment I hated him.  I was certain my face looked like a used paper sack and my hair was a rat's nest.  "Thanks for the coffee, Abel.  I'll go take a shower."  I turned around and made my escape before he could get too close a look.
Fifteen minutes and one cup of coffee later, I felt like I was back in control of the situation.  When I got back to the kitchen, Abel was sitting in my favorite spot at the table watching the chickadees squabble at the bird feeder.
"Breakfast?" I asked.
"I'm not much of a breakfast eater," he said.  "What did you have in mind?"
Mentally going over the things in my larder, I said, "Oatmeal?"
"Oatmeal would be perfect.  It'll keep me warm on the ride home."
It took only a few minutes to make two bowls of oatmeal in the microwave.  I set out brown sugar, cream, and spoons.
"Can I do something to help?" he asked.
"No thanks, I've got it under control.  You could pour me some fresh coffee, though, if you wouldn't mind."
            He poured us each more coffee as I put the steaming bowls on the table.  As he stirred the sugar into his, he asked, "What're these things?"
I had to smile.  He sounded just like my boys when confronted with unfamiliar food.  "Dried cherries from Door County.  They served oatmeal with dried fruit every morning at The Clearing and one morning they had cherries.  I loved it so much, I put them in all the time now."  He handed me the brown sugar.  "I hope you like it."
He did.
After clearing the dishes and helping load the dishwasher, Abel decided to go home.  "I hope you aren't bombarded with gossip about me staying here last night, Gail."  He put his hands on my waist and drew me closer.  "I wouldn't want to do anything to make you unhappy."  And he kissed me.  Really kissed me, like he meant it.  I realized that I was kissing him back and meaning it every bit as much.  My breath was short and I could feel my heart pound.  I began to slide my hands up his arms to his shoulders.  We broke the kiss at the same time.  "Gail?" he said in a low voice.
The phone rang.  The spell of our ardent kiss evaporated and I rushed to answer it.  "Hello?"  I expected it to be the first of the busybodies.
"Mrs. Logan, my name is Lawrence Kaster and I’m with Global Life & Casualty Insurance Company… ”
“I am not interested in insurance.  Thank you.”  I hung up on him and turned back to Abel, eager to resume our interrupted kiss, to see he had put on his snow pants and was tugging on his boots.  “Oh, you’re leaving.”
“Yeah, I thought I’d better get on home before the weather turns again.  Do you want me to clear your walk before I go?”
“No, thanks.  It’s nice of you to offer but I kind of like getting bundled up and playing in the snow.  I’ve got a new red snowblower that’s real easy to use.  I’ll have it cleared in no time.  But thanks for asking.”
He stood and put on his jacket, zipped it up, and came over to where I stood.  He leaned down and kissed me again.  “Well… I’m glad your phone’s back on; give me a call if you need anything.  Watch out for the gossips.”
            I laughed and kissed him back.  “I will.  Have a safe ride home.  Call when you get there so I know you made it okay.”
            He picked up his helmet and gloves and left.  I was tempted to call him back but let him go.

I woke up at 5:30 AM again today.  I wake up to make a potty run, barely open my eyes, and lay right back down.  Do you think I can go back to sleep?  Nope.  It's making me mad.  I need to get my light turned off before 11:30 PM.  That would help.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Sometimes the Yarn is Right...

... for the stitch pattern and sometimes it isn't.  A couple weeks ago I cast on a sock with that Virgo yarn I got in Lexington last year, got the cuff knitted and a few rows of the pattern but it just didn't seem right.  The cuff seemed too narrow, the yarn wasn't sproingy, and the stitch pattern disappeared into the background.  I put it aside.

Then I cast on the same sock, one size larger, in rainbow yarn that I bought in Bozeman, MT the last time Durwood and I were out west.  I thought it made sense to knit with the yarn that I bought there when I went back there.  Besides a sock is a nice small project to knit on an airplane or two.  The more rounds I add to this Choco Rainbow sock, the more I realize that this is the perfect yarn for this stitch pattern.  See how the slipped stitches stand out against the background yarn?  Yeah, this sock has me written all over it.

Yesterday when we'd finished talking about stocks and stuff, my financial advisor and I mentioned our food failings--mine is ice cream, hers are cookies--which forced me (that isn't too strong a word for the compulsion that came over me today) to whip up a batch of 10-Cup Cookies.  I got smart and didn't bake them all, only a dozen of them, the rest I scooped onto parchment paper on a cookie sheet, froze, and bagged in a ziplok bag to bake a few at a time.  Later.  Much later.  I'm never out of ice cream.

Bright and early this morning, KK came with a helper to rip out the old and install the new vinyl bathroom floor and front & back entrance floors.  There wasn't anything wrong with the old yellow vinyl except for being the stuff I picked out in 1978 and I was beyond tired of it.  I'll admit that 41 years of feet and scrubbing hadn't dulled its luster.  It wasn't worn but the edge by the tub and at the front door curled up so I was concerned that water or snow melt was leaking under it.  I love the new stuff.

 20 August--Barbara Malcolm, Horizon. 

            Once I was able to relax again, we spent the next few hours having the best conversation I’d had in a long time.  We talked about books we’d read, Abel trying to convince me that Tom Clancy’s books weren’t as complicated as I knew they were and me telling him that there wasn’t any such thing as “chick” lit, just stories men were too insensitive to appreciate.  We were each surprised that the other loved Kurt Vonnegut, although I insisted that his short stories were better than the novels but Abel disagreed with me.  We did agree that John Steinbeck was one of the greatest authors America had ever produced.  I was surprised that Abel was a big poetry fan.  He recited a few poems from memory and promised to bring over his favorite poems by Billy Collins and read some to me.  I’d never heard of him and was amazed to learn that he had been America’s Poet Laureate a few years ago and was a contemporary poet who Abel said wrote about ordinary things with extraordinary beauty.
            We’d been sitting talking when I realized by the chiming of the antique clock on the mantle that it was ten o’clock and the house was really cooling off.
I suggested to Abel that I see if I couldn’t find something for him to sleep in and make up a bed for him on the couch so it would be ready when he was.  He agreed so I took the flashlight and dug in the back of my dresser where I’d shoved a pair of flannel pajamas I’d bought for Bert’s birthday gift his last year and never got the chance to give him.  My favorite wool bathrobe was a man’s style anyway, so Abel could wear it without embarrassment.  While I was in my bedroom I changed into my own flannel PJs and dug out a chenille robe Sam had given me for Christmas a few years ago.  Chenille bathrobes always reminded me of the old-fashioned bedspreads that were all the rage in the 1950s but I could either look like I was wearing a bedspread or put on an ancient quilted pink one I had with both elbows worn through and years of breakfast stains down the front.  I went with the bedspread.
I took some sheets and a blanket out of the linen closet and carried the whole pile into the living room.  I gave Abel the pajamas and robe and he went to change in the bathroom while I made him a bed on the couch.  While I was working, I thought I heard voices outside.  I walked into the kitchen just as Abel came out.  I whispered to him that I thought someone was outside and he came with me.
We’d only gone a few steps into the room when the back porch door burst open and Clara walked in with Hank on her heels.  “Gail,” Clara was saying, “Hank and I snow-shoed over to make sure you had enough firewood.”  Her voice stopped abruptly when she saw Abel and I standing there in our nightclothes.  “But I can see you’re doing just fine.”  She turned around and started shooing her startled husband back out into the storm.  “Come on, Hank, let’s get home.” 
“Clara,” I said.
“It’s okay, Gail,” she said, not turning around.  “Hank and I will just be moving along.”
“Clara, stop.”  I walked across the room and grabbed her arm.  “At least stay for a cup of hot chocolate.  You’ll turn to icicles if you go right back out in that storm.”
My old friend turned around and peeked at Abel over my shoulder.  “Are you sure?” she whispered.  “We don’t want to interrupt anything.”
“You’re not interrupting, Clara.  Abel, tell them to say.”
He stepped forward and said, “Please, Clara, stay and have some hot chocolate with us.  Hank, why don’t you help me stoke up the fire?”  And the two men were out of the room in a split second.
            Clara grabbed my arm and pulled me toward the back door.  “Holy crumps, Gail, you could have knocked me over with a feather when I opened that door and saw the two of you standing there.  What’s going on?  No, forget I asked.”  Even in the dim kitchen I could see Clara’s blush.
            “Nothing’s going on.  At least not tonight.  Abel came over when he couldn’t get through on the phone and he was here when the power went out for good.  He volunteered to keep the fire going tonight and is sleeping on the couch.”  I could hear the men talking in the living room.  “Grab the milk, will you?  I’ll get out a pan and make that hot chocolate I promised.  Thank goodness I’ve got a gas stove.”
            Clara and I made the hot chocolate and she called for Hank to bring the tray.  He came in with a very puzzled look on his face and Clara headed off any questions with a look that promised that as soon as she learned the story she’d tell him.  I could see I’d be in for an inquisition once Clara and I were alone.
            A very subdued quartet sat around the fire, sipping hot chocolate, not talking much at all.  And as soon as the cups were empty, Clara stood up and announced that since the wind had stopped blowing she was in the mood for a moonlight snowshoe home.  She chivvied Hank out the house in jig time and soon they were on their way.
            “Well, that was interesting,” Abel said.  “I suppose the news that I slept over at your place will be all over town by sundown tomorrow.”
            “Do you really think it’ll take that long?”
            “Do you mind?” he asked, a look of concern on his face.
            “Oh, not really.  Tongues have been wagging ever since we started dating last summer.  You can bet that according to rumor we’re having a much racier time than we actually are.”
            Abel snorted.
            “But, Abel, I really appreciate you giving me time to get used to having a man in my life again.”
            He put his hands on my shoulders and said, “Gail, you know how I feel about you.  You take all the time you need.”  And he leaned forward and kissed me.  “You get to bed.  I’ll rinse the cups.  Goodnight.”
            “Goodnight, Abel.  Pleasant dreams.”
            I lay awake a long time before falling asleep.  I heard Abel a few times in the night, up keeping the fire going.  It was nice to have a man in the house again.

I met KW at the Y this evening and we walked and talked in the pool for half an hour or so.  I wore my new version no. 2 swimsuit and it worked just fine.  I thought I should try it out before taking it to Yellowstone, etc. just in case the old fabric fell apart at the first wearing.  It didn't and I had a couple ideas on how to improve it even more.  When I get home.  Tomorrow I get a haircut, write with ACJ, and have grief group.  Busy, busy, busy.  This laptop is going to the fixit shop on Friday; it's acting oddly; I think it has a brain lesion.  I'm taking my serger in to the sewing machine fixit shop on Friday too because one of the knobs won't turn any lower than "3" which makes adjusting the thread tension challenging.  It's always something, isn't it?

Monday, August 19, 2019

Everybody Likes Variety

That was what I thought when I caught sight of this Oriole fledgling sampling the Hummingbird nectar this morning.  It stayed on the feeder a long time so I took lots of shots of it.  I love digital cameras.  I can press that shutter button as many times as I want and not worry about running out of "film."  Not for a very long time anyway.

I went to the Y this morning after my chiro appointment to walk on a treadmill for a while.  I can't figure out why it's so much easier to walk there than on the street.  I set the pace and incline so it isn't like I'm walking slow and on the flat, but it's easier.

After lunch I had an appointment with my Edw. Jones financial advisor.  It was time to go over my portfolio and the market has been so volatile that I wanted to hear what she had to say about it.  What she said was that my money will last past my 90th birthday if I don't start living on a yacht in Monaco and renting gigolos.  No problem, neither of those are in my future plans.

I stopped at Camera Corner to see if I could find a smaller camera bag that will fit more easily into my carry-on and I did.  This bag is rip-stop nylon, is the exact size for my camera, lens, charger, and batteries.  I figure I'll put socks over the lenses to pad them a bit and bag up the batteries, charger, etc. just so they're not rattling around in there.  And it was less than $20.  Score!

I've kind of hit my stride on the Choco Rainbow Sock.  I figure if I manage one repeat of the pattern a day I'll have it done in no time--which might be bad since it's the main knitting I'm taking along on my trip.  I guess I could start another sock with the same yarn if I finish it but I'd definitely use a different stitch pattern and maybe even make it toe-up. (Ooh, what a rebel!)

19 August--Barbara Malcolm, Horizon. 

The silence that fell over us at those words pulled the breath right out of my lungs.  I don't think Abel had planned to say that.  We looked at each other in shock.  I moved first.
"Well, since you're already here you might as well come in and warm up.  I'll put on some coffee while you get out of those wet clothes."
            I turned and fled into the kitchen trying to process those three words.
           "I love you."
            Did he mean to say that?  It sounded so natural the way he said it.  Bert had hardly ever said those words to me, or to anyone else for that matter, not that I ever heard anyway.  Was Abel one of those people for whom those words came easy?  Did he tell all sorts of people he loved them?
           “I love you.”   
            The words echoed in my head as I made coffee.  Good thing I’d been making it for so many years because I paid no attention to what I was doing.  I could have been scooping sand for all I noticed.
           “I love you.”  
            Not words to be taken lightly.  Was I supposed to say them back?  Any minute he'd be walking into the kitchen and I felt like I was still pale with the shock of hearing “I love you” so casually.  I needed to stop being so silly and just go with the flow, as the kids used to say.
            I could hear him knocking the snow off his boots and shaking out his snowmobile suit as I got out mugs and pulled some vegetable beef soup out of the fridge, poured it into a pot, and put it on to heat.  He came into the kitchen on a rush of cold air, rubbing his hands together.
            “Brr.  I was colder than I thought and I think some snow went down my neck.”  He peered over my shoulder as I stirred the soup.  “Oh boy, that smells good.  What kind is it?”
            “Vegetable beef barley.  I made it yesterday.  I always like to have a pot on hand in the winter.  There’s nothing like soup to warm you up.”  I looked at his feet.  “Oh good, you found some shoes out there.  I never could bring myself to get rid of Bert’s old scuffs.  They’re so handy when I come in from yard work.”
            Abel chuckled.  “These might look like Bert’s scuffs but they’re mine.  I stuffed them in my pockets before I left home.  It’s my Boy Scout training.  You know, be prepared?”
            “Oh, I know all about being prepared.  All three of my boys are Eagle Scouts and Bert was a leader for a while.  Grab a couple spoons from that drawer under the dish drainer, will you please?  I think everything’s ready.”  I had poured two mugs of coffee and was ladling out the soup when, with a little pop, all the lights went out.  “Oh dear, the lines must have gone down.  I hope they come back on soon.  It’ll be awful cold without the furnace running.”
            Abel jumped up.  “If you tell me where your firewood is, I’ll get the fireplace lit.”
            “Sit, Abel, sit.  The house won’t cool off that fast.  Eat your soup while it’s hot.  I’ve got a fire all laid and as soon as we’re done eating we can get it burning.”
One good thing about snow is that it gathers and reflects whatever light is around.  It's never really dark, even in the middle of the night, so I could see Abel in the soft glow from the window.         
“Wonderful soup, Gail.  I can feel its warmth all the way down to my toes.”
As we ate, the wind seemed to pick up and rattled the windows.  “Sounds like you made it here just in time, Abel.”
            “Glad I’m here, huh?”  And he grinned at me like a schoolboy.
            “Yes, I’m glad you’re here instead of out in that storm.”  I ate a few more bites.  “But I still think you’re nuts.”
            Once the soup was finished, we went into the living room and Abel knelt in front of the fireplace.  I could see he was planning to be the big, strong man and re-lay the fire after the little woman tried her best.  But years of listening to Bert instruct the boys in fire building had made me into a pretty good fire maker myself.  Seeing nothing to fix, Abel took a match from the box on the mantle, dragged it on the sandpaper on the side, and touched the flame to the crumpled newspaper.  Once the kindling and smaller branches had caught, he stood up, dusting off his hands as though he’d done more than just strike a match.
            “You lay a nice fire, Gail.”
            “Thanks, Abel, I’ve had a lot of practice over the years.  One of these days the county will finally bury the power lines and then we won’t have this problem anymore.”
Abel picked up the poker and started stirring the fire and put on another log.
“While you’re playing with the fire,” I said, “why don’t I put the rest of the coffee in the thermal pot and see if I can’t find some cookies for dessert?”
            “Sounds great,” Abel said over his shoulder.
            When I got back with the tray of coffee and cookies, he had finished poking the fire and sat in one of the chairs by the hearth.  He jumped up as soon as he saw me and pulled over a side table for the tray.  The fire was blazing and throwing a lot of heat.  “You’re a good fire tender, Abel.”
            “Thanks.  Your fireplace has a great draft.  Did Bert build it?”
            “No, he didn’t.”  I sat down in the chair on the other side of the hearth.  “This old house has been here way longer than any of us have been alive and I figure whoever built the fireplace needed it for warmth rather than looks and made it right.”
I poured the coffee and nudged the plate of cookies toward him, a little embarrassed that there was nothing better than sugar cookies and pink spritz left.
"Mmm, I love spritz cookies," he said, taking a couple. "The red sprinkles are a bonus."
           "That's polite of you to say, Abel, but these are just the Christmas leftovers.  I made nut balls, molasses cookies, English toffee, and my cutouts were works of art this year.  But I sent most of them to the kids and ate too many myself.  You’re stuck with what’s left."
"Doesn't matter to me," he said around a mouthful of cookie.  "Marcella always made such a production out of Christmas, deciding on a theme, planning the tree decorations on graph paper first, and devoting an entire weekend to baking the most elaborate cookies she could find.  She disdained, that's the only word for it, disdained the old traditional cookies I've always liked best.  These are terrific."
             My mind was boggled by the thought of having the time to make such a production of Christmas.  "At least they're not stale, right?"  Just then the lights came back on with a snap.  "Well, shit!" I said; it slipped out before I could catch it.  "Oh, excuse my language."
            After a moment’s pause Abel laughed and said, “So, Gail, did you say shit because the lights came on and I can leave or because they didn’t stay off so I’d have an excuse to stay?”
            “I, uh…”  I could feel a blush rising in my cheeks.  “I guess a little of both.  I, um, enjoy your company, Abel.  But I’m not sure I want us to get too close too fast, if you know what I mean.”  By the time I’d stumbled through that prissy little speech, I could feel that even my ears were red.  I was glad I hadn’t turned on any lights in the living room.  Why couldn’t I spend more than ten minutes in this man’s company without putting my foot in my mouth?
            Before Abel could speak, the lights went out again.  This time accompanied by a shower of sparks from the transformer on the pole just past the turn in the road.
            “I think that’s it for your electricity until the county boys can get out here tomorrow and restring the lines,” he said.  “And don’t worry, Gail, I don’t have designs on you.  Well, actually, I do, but I’m willing to be patient.”  He paused as if he expected me to say something, but I was stunned into silence.  “And since it looks like someone will need to keep the fire going all night so you don’t freeze, I volunteer.  And I’ll sleep on the couch.”
            “Thank you, Abel.”  My voice came out in a croak, forced through my paralyzed vocal cords by sheer guts.  “I’ll get you some blankets and a pillow.”  I started to get up but he waved me back into my chair.
            “Don’t be in such a rush.  It’s not even seven o’clock.  We’ve got the whole evening ahead of us.”

I got a call this evening from the carpet place that my bathroom flooring is in and the guy will come to install it tomorrow.  Woohoo!  It's about time, the sheet vinyl in there now is the original that I picked out 41 years ago when we built this place.  It's not worn out either.  He'll put it in the front and garage entries too.  I can't wait.  Did I tell you that when we had to redo all the floors on the rental side I found some click-together vinyl that looked like slate and wanted to order enough to have our bathroom and entries done but Durwood said it'd make the room too dark "like a cave" so I just ordered enough for next door.  Then when we went over to see all the new floors he exclaimed over the bathroom floor, said it looked elegant, and that we should do the same on our side.  No, I didn't bash his teeth in, didn't even say, "but I wanted to..."  I just shook my head and kept my mouth shut.  I am a saint.  Just ask me.