Friday, June 23, 2017

I... Am An Idiot.

This morning I glanced out to check on the garden and saw the back of a bird sitting on one of the fence posts.  It looked smaller than the Cooper's Hawk and a lot smaller than the Red-tailed Hawk but I thought it was a hawk.  I got out the bird book and decided from the size and tail configuration that it was a  Sharp-shinned Hawk.  I was puzzled why there seemed to be quite a few smaller birds unfazed by the unmoving predator.  Then it turned around and flew down to the ground.  It was a Mourning Dove.  A Mourning Dove! the least hawk-like of any birds on the planet.  As I said above, I. Am. An. Idiot.


Speaking of the garden, I cut some lettuce for salads for supper last night.  No nasturtiums because the blooms were fading so I didn't know if I wanted to eat a dying flower.  It's leaf-ish lettuce so it doesn't have the backbone or crunch of romaine or iceberg but it was lettuce I grew with my own two hands.  I was proud.  Also it's yummy.  Durwood said so.





Here's a bird I'm confident I know what it is.  This is a female or juvenile Downy Woodpecker.  Males have a red stripe across the back of their heads and this year's fledglings don't have it no matter which sex they are.


I cast on the first Pink Pussycat Hat yesterday.  You know how much I love big needles and big yarn projects, well this is one, uh, three.  This yarn is so old, it says it was made in Wisconsin by Badger Mills in Grafton.  I'm going to have to look that up.  Wonder if they're still in business?  It's 100% wool and it's very nice to knit.  I'm using three strands to make it go faster.  Thanks, whoever donated it.

June 23--Thomas Moran, The Great Blue Spring of the Lower Geyser Basin Yellowstone.  The smell told Myra she was getting closer.  She slowed her steps and stopped.  The thought of falling into boiling acid water kept her rooted to the spot.  There had to be a boardwalk around somewhere, she had walked the lower geyser basin earlier that day but somehow she had lost her way in the dark.  Off to her left there was the sound of munching.  She hoped it was a bison having a midnight snack and not a grizzly bear on the prowl.  She really wished she hadn't dropped her flashlight into that bubbling mud pot.

And that's that.  It's a gorgeous day so I think I'll go outside and play.  Toodle-oo.
--Barbara

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Just Plain Birds

As my last day of work draws nearer I find it increasingly difficult to get myself going in the morning.  I read the paper with a lot more thoroughness.  I spend extra time working the Jumble and Sudoku and less time staring out the window looking at what's happening out there.  This morning I saw a Downy Woodpecker for a fleeting moment but mostly there were just plain birds.  The House Finches (the males have rosy pink heads, I think they're an invasive species brought over as cage birds a century ago that escaped) have taken over the Oriole feeder.  They've always been the birds that pecked away at the orange half and grape jelly when the Orioles aren't around but this year they've extended themselves to the nectar feeder.  I guess I don't mind.  The Orioles only come early and late in the year, when they're nesting they need "real" food for the babies so the House finches are welcome to the nectar.

Then there are the Mourning Doves, the little old ladies of the bird world.  These are not bright birds in fact they're the ones that bash into the windows so I'm thinking they've got the same problem as people with concussions do.  Plus I love the whistling sound they make when they get startled and fly away, like little old ladies when you tell them a dirty joke.  (except for my Grandma Babe who never understood a clean joke in her life)


Yesterday afternoon I stole a few minutes to set up a table in the back room and cut out another pair of seersucker practice pants from the remains of the fabric.  There wasn't enough to cut out the whole length of the legs but I think they're about even.  And I have enough scraps so that I can sew "cuffs" on the leg bottoms with the stripes going horizontal if they're just too short or an awkward length.  In fact, I might just do that anyway as a "design element."



After supper I cast on another anklet with yarn that reminds me of Easter eggs.  We all know how much I dislike pastels but for some reason I like this yarn.  Maybe it's the lime green...  BTW, that bracelet is a row counter, kind of an abacus you wear on your wrist.  (one of these days I'm going to get me an abacus and learn how to use it, and not a counting frame either, a real abacus)


And I printed off a couple patterns, dug out needles and brought some pink yarn with me today to cast on the first Pink Pussy Hat.  Better late than never.  LC and DIL1 told me the other night that I'm a "rebel girl" like they are.  LC has a book "Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls" that is full of one page biographies of women like Harriet Tubman, Frieda Kahlo, Grace Fitzgerald (she was a pirate), so little girls grow up knowing that they can be and do whatever they want.  LC told me that rebel girls are "strong, smart, kind, and brave."  I was very touched to be included.  Makes me want to be all those things every day.  (I see I need to stop for some printer ink on my way home)


June 22--Diego Velasquez, Prince Baltazar Carlos.  Boys and horses have almost as much affinity for each other as boys and dogs.  Balt would have slept with Maestro if Mama had not made such a fuss about rats and fleas in the barn.  Balt thought it was cleaner in the barn and it smelled better than the house and most people did.  He and the groom sponged off Maestro every day after Balt came back from riding.  Despite Mama's contention that it wasn't his place to brush his horse, Balt insisted that caring for his animal was part of being a horseman.  Papa agreed.

Okay, now this is almost ready to post so then I can cast on for a hat.  Can you believe that I've had to work at work most of the day?  I mean, really.  Good thing I'm retiring ONE WEEK FROM TODAY.  *ahem*  Sorry for shouting.
--Barbara

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

One Long Day

Today is the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year, so I hope you've got some sun-worshiping on your calendar.  Today is the day we celebrate the light because it's the day we have the most of it all year long.  Technically speaking, the summer solstice occurs when the sun is directly overhead the Tropic of Cancer, or 23.5° north latitude.   That was at 11:24 p.m. last night, not the perfect time to celebrate light, so I say we celebrate today.
  



As promised I finished the Calypso Anklet last night and got the tails woven in.  Now I have to knit another one out of the same kind of yarn (but not the same color way, what, are you nuts? who'd wear matching socks?) so I have a pair (but not a pair) to see if I like how they wear in shoes.






Oh, I almost forgot, I visited a new yarn shop yesterday.  It's The Lost Sheep Yarn Shop in downtown Sheboygan and it's very nice.  It's only been open since January and it looks like they're already expanding.  Lots of lovely yarn, samples to drool over, they even offer a blocking service.  I exhibited what I consider to be the ultimate in self-control because I only bought one skein of yarn and a tape measure.  Admittedly it's a very fancy and pricey skein of Crazy Zauberball sock yarn but it's the first red skein I've ever seen of that yarn.  You know I love red; I couldn't leave it behind, besides that's what "mad" money is for.





Then I spent an hour at the Rawr-West Museum in Manitowoc soaking up the glorious Chagall prints from his book "Le Cirque."  Chagall has always been one of my favorite artists so it was lovely to be able to see them.  I'd love to see even one of his paintings but this might be the next best thing.


Then I drove home and back to reality.  It was a lovely little run-away.  Now I'll be saner for the next few months until September when it'll be time to go back to The Clearing for a writing workshop.

June 21--August Macke, Tightrope Walker.  She has to be blinded by the lights, Theo thinks.  The lights make the spangles of her costume wink and flash but the lights must shine in her eyes too.  The tightrope is so narrow, so dark, so unstable that he thinks every step will be her last.  Behind the pasted-on smile he can see her fierce concentration.  He watches the way her fingers flex and grip the pole she uses for balance.  Isn't the music distracting?  He wants to call out for quiet, to shush the chattering children.  In his imagination she begins to fall and he leaps down the stands and out into the center ring to catch her.  Sometimes he keeps his feet, sometimes he falls with her in his arms.  She always puts her arms around his neck and kisses him right there in the middle of the whole circus.

It seemed oddly coincidental that the art for last night's writing prompt was a circus scene when I'd spent part of the day looking at Chagall's circus prints.  I keep getting interrupted by customers and haven't even had time to eat lunch.  I think I'll do that now.  Cheers!
--Barbara

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Make A Wish

Are you supposed to make a wish on a rainbow?  We had a rain squall come through with a fair amount of thunder and lightning so when the storm cleared and the sun came out to make this rainbow I wished that it would avoid where Lala was camping so she could sleep in a dry sleeping bag.  Anyway it was pretty.






There must have been some windy wind a few days ago because when I took a walk along the river I saw this big branch had fallen over the side.  I saw this mama duck perched on the thick branch and then noticed her half-grown ducklings huddled and hiding in the leaves barely poking out of the water.





I've been thinking a lot lately about how women "of a certain age" seem to disappear, both to society and, to some extent, themselves.  An employee at the food store the other day teased me about wearing mismatched socks and I told her that women our age start to disappear and mismatched socks are my way of fighting that.  She said her daughter had bought her a frilly black bra that she wouldn't wear because "bras are white."  I asked why not wear it and suggested that she wear her black bra to prove to herself that she's not disappearing.  Two days later I was back in the store and she stopped me, then tugged the collar of her uniform shirt aside to reveal a black bra strap.  Score one for us old-ish broads.  I was just chatting to the woman taking my money yesterday at a boutique and she mentioned that she feels like she's fading away.  I told her about my socks and Pam's bra and her whole face lit up; I think I've found a new "cause."  Good thing I'm retiring, I've got a lot of writing about being un-invisible to do.


Last night I watched Hidden Figures on DVD.  Good movie.  Almost as good as the book, not as in-depth, but good nevertheless.  While I watched I knitted on the Calypso anklet.  I got to the toe but was too tired to finish.  I'll get that done today.

June 20--Anonymous, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen by Rudolph Erich Raspe.  He had hitched his fortunes and himself to the crescent moon.  The Moon was not pleased.  He glared down his hooked nose at the puny human who dared presume on the strength of his moonlight.  Most of the stars paid no attention to the man who had lassoed the Moon at his lowest point and swung there peering down from that great height, but one star saw the way the Moon felt trapped by the man.  The star pulsed a warning and turned her light aside, luring a cloud to hide behind.

I have no idea what that means, it's what came out of the end of my pencil.  Now I'm going to gather up all my stuff, stop at the local yarn shop (of course), then visit the museum in Manitowoc to see the Chagall exhibit before heading on home.  Later, dudes and dudettes.
--Barbara

Monday, June 19, 2017

Where Do You Go to Unwind?



If you're me, you go look at water, that's what you do.  Yesterday afternoon I loaded up my lemon-lime-orangeade, my laptop, a little knitting, and a few clean clothes and tootled down I-43 to Kohler-Andrae State Park, just south of Sheboygan to visit a camping friend, sit and look at the lake until I was cross-eyed, then go back to her campsite for supper cooked on the fire.  We did weenies on long forks and she made foil packets of red bell pepper and broccoli, some curried ramen noodles, and a packet of mushrooms on the fire.  All was delicious and filling.  Then we sat and talked, watching the fire, until we got tired and I, too old to sleep on the ground, went to my motel for the night.  Ahh.



 
What do you do when you wake up out of town and are too cheap and too lazy to go out and find a newspaper?  Why, you copy the Jumble and the Sudoku off the online version of the paper into your Bullet Journal, that's what you do.   I hope they never do away with paper newspapers.  I really enjoy my time sitting with my mug of coffee, slowly turning the big pages, reading news local, national, and international, seeing pictures of exotic places and around the corner, reading the comics and the advice columns, then hunkering down with a pencil and tackling the Jumble, Sudoku, and crossword puzzles.  See?  I've been practicing retirement.  I like it.


As I was leaving the house yesterday I noticed that the first blossoms on Dad's Rose have opened.  Hooray!  Just in time for Father's Day.  Hmm, funny how that worked out.



I didn't knit at the campfire.  I didn't want my yarn/project to smell like wood smoke--like my clothes do and my hair did until I showered.  I promise I'll knit today so I'll have something to show you tomorrow.  Promise.

June 19--Claude Monet, Lilies in a Pond.  The tall thin leaves were thick at the edge of the pond.  Grandma used to say that some of her favorite flowers like to live with wet feet.  I love lilies and  these lilies are like that.  I was glad to see the bright, yellow-green shoots muscle their way through last year's brown and crumpled stalks full of wind-blown leaves.  Soon stems would appear with buds ready to open in a blaze of pink, lavender, and orange.

I was tired last night.  I'm not used to scaling sand dunes or walking along woodland paths with tree roots ready to trip a person up at every step.  Speaking of walking, I think I'll go for one.  
--Barbara

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Hawk! Hawk! Hawk! And One Bluejay

The Red-tailed Hawk has been hanging around our backyard lately.  We don't mind.  I was fixing supper last night (heating up leftovers) when Durwood said, "The hawk's in the grass.  I think it caught something."  Well, it hadn't but it sure gave a good hard look to that spot.  Then it hop-flew up onto the retaining wall and I was amazed at how a brown and white bird could be camoflaged against green plants (aka weeds).  This morning it did its vulture impression from the top of the fence.  Still didn't catch anything.







The only bird that isn't fussed by the arrival of the hawk is the bluejay.  It metaphorically thumbs its nose at the predator and goes about its business wriggling a peanut out of the wreath.  Evidently the local squirrels are either on vacation or they're too wary of the hawk because my assistant and I filled that wreath on Friday and there are still nuts left.






I made the lemon-lime-orangeade to take to my campfire supper with Lala today.  It looks very yummy.  I tasted it right after I made it, it was a little tart but I'm sure the flavor has improved with age.  I think it's very pretty.




Last night (after an afternoon nap and after supper) I went downstairs to sew up the pants I cut out last week.  While cutting them out I questioned why I had traced off a one-size-smaller pants pattern than the top and dress patterns I did the same day.  I measured myself, honest I did, but my fears came true and the pants, while I can get them on, I suspect that there's not much chance of successfully sitting down in them--more than once.  I might have enough of the striped seersucker left to cut out another pair, especially since I'm thinking I'd crop them, so that will be my project at work next Wednesday (Retirement Day #-4).  I want to make a "practice" pair that I like the fit of before I cut into any of the "real" pants fabric I have waiting downstairs.

In the "Better Late Than Never" Department: I have been gifted with quite a bit of pink wool so after checking with DIL1 to make sure she and LC will wear them, I'm going to knit 3 Pussy Hats.  I didn't knit any last fall because I didn't have any pink yarn and, honestly, there wasn't much to be found even if I wanted to buy any.  I've been working diligently to knit solely from my stash so I didn't knit any hats.  Now I have pink yarn, now I'll knit us some hats.  I figure that bandwagon has a wide and welcoming tailgate just waiting for us latecomers to clamber aboard.  (and if I hold 2 or 3 strands together I can use big needles and be done knitting pink [ugh] yarn faster, sorry, my prejudice is showing)

June 18--John Gay, A Father and Daughter Sail a Model Yacht in the Sea, Blackpool.  He has his trousers rolled up to the very tops of his thighs and is still in a white shirt and sport coat, yet there he stands, knee-deep in the sea, helping his daughter sail her toy boat.  He's not the only person wading in street clothes either, there's a whole gaggle of them.  The water can't be very warm, only one swimmer is visible, and the air must be cool too because people are in sweaters.  What were they thinking?  First to go into the sea when it's too cold and then to go in clothes.

And now I'm going to make sure I have enough clean underwear and socks and my toothbrush packed so I can drive away from home for a couple nights.  Not too far, just far enough to clear my head and pretend I've run away.  Durwood's looking forward to not having me here too, I am sure.  Don't worry, I'm taking the laptop so I'll keep blogging.
--Barbara

Saturday, June 17, 2017

A Few Poppies Remain

I was surprised to see that there are still a couple poppies just opening in the sea of poppies dropping their petals.  Ahh, poppies.  (add your own soundtrack, can you say "Wizard of Oz"?)


Too early to be out of bed this morning (thanks for dropping your flashlight onto the plastic office mat under this chair at 5:15, Durwood), the last of last night's storm clouds were headed east.  I was out around 10 o'clock last night and the sky was alight with lightning and rumbled with thunder.  And there was rain, of course, but it very considerately slacked off just as I pulled into the driveway and waited until I got into the house before it started up again.  Thanks, Mother Nature.


The Red-tailed Hawk was hunting from the top of the office building behind us this morning but looking the other way so I didn't see if he was successful.


I think we might be having home-grown lettuce for supper tonight.  I know we're having home-grown asparagus.  Yum.







When you get married the more affluent of your parents' friends give advanced technology gifts.  Mom and Dad got this juicer as a wedding gift in September of 1950 and I rescued it from her last rummage sale in about 1980.  I love the thing, it works great and it never breaks down.  My friend Lala is going camping and she invited me to drive down for supper tomorrow night.  I said I'd bring the lemonade, then found this recipe for Aunt Frances' Lemonade on Taste of Home.  It sounds so good, I'm making it.  I plan to freeze some of it to use as non-diluting ice cubes.  (aren't I just the cleverest thing?)  I had to break down and go to Meijer for the citrus, I went to Pick 'N Save (used to be Copps) where the walnut-size lemons were 99 cents each.  Each!  And they didn't have Valencia (juice) oranges, navel oranges just don't squeeze like the Valencias.  I mean, you can squeeze them but the juice isn't as tasty.  Don't know why, old wives' lore.  Before I make it I need to zoom over to the Dollar Tree to find a gallon plastic jug to take it in, one that I can leave with Lala so she won't go thirsty.  The store's only a block away, it isn't much of a trip.

June 17--Utagawa Kuniyoshi, Japanese Warloard Minamoto no Yoritomo.  He is resplendent in his regalia.  The Japanese warlord's armor is layer upon layer of embroidered silk under leather panels painted and gilded.  He bristles with a sheathed sword, knives in ornate sheaths, and a trio of throwing stars on his breastplate.  He must have clanked and clattered as he paraded in to see the emperor.  Gloria stood admiring the panel, leaning forward to see the tiny lines of his hair and the small smile on his face.  Her son, Lewis, leaned on her hip as she studied the painting.  She felt him shift from foot to foot, his tennis shoe squeaking on the polished floor.  "Mom?" he said.  "Yeah?"  He shifted again working up to ask his question.  "How did he go to the bathroom in all that stuff?"  Gloria didn't laugh.  "Well," she said, "he probably went just before he left home, same as you do."  She turned to move to the next exhibit, her hand on her son's shoulder.  "Yeah, probably," he said.

All of a sudden I'm tired. My eyes are burning and I could lay down.  It couldn't be because I was rudely, although accidentally, awakened at 5:15 and couldn't get back to sleep, could it?  Maybe I'll take a nap...
--Barbara