Wednesday, October 18, 2017

A Fun Day Not Blogging

I am pleased to report that either Durwood and I are less messy than in times past or we have severely lowered our standards because it only took a couple hours to tidy the living room, swish out the bathroom, and decrappify the kitchen table area.  That last part takes the longest because as it gets harder and harder for Durwood to get around to retrieve things, he's made a sort of easy-reach nest there.  It's not my favorite use of the space but I will confess that I am guilty of piling magazines, etc. on my end of the table and the chair seat beside me so I have very little room to criticize.

Our friends arrived in the early afternoon so we had lots of visiting time.  The ribs in the crockpot made the house smell great and that was enhanced by the slightest whiff of the cherry crisp I made in the morning.  I used an oldie but a goodie recipe that is so simple a child could make it.  

Preheat oven to 325.  Take a can of your favorite pie filling (I used Festival's store brand cherry because it was $1 cheaper than the Comstock name brand stuff) and spread it into a 9 x 9 baking pan.  Sprinkle a package of Jiffy White or Yellow DRY cake mix over the filling, using a fork or spatula to even it out. (I've always used Yellow, don't know why)  Melt 1 stick of butter or margarine and drizzle it over the dry cake mix.  Sprinkle on chopped walnuts or pecans if desired.  Bake for 1 - 1 1/4 hrs.  Serve warm or cold with ice cream, whipped cream, or untopped.  (pro tip:  try not to eat the whole pan before the guests arrive)


This morning I decided that the time was right to fill in the hole in the garage floor and the cracks in the porch.  I'm sad to say that the 2-part stuff I bought didn't get "pourable" as shown on the package nor was it self-leveling.  I thought maybe I wasn't mixing it correctly so I took the second package back to Home Depot to see if a stronger hand would have better luck mixing it.  It didn't, in fact I think that I got it mixed more thoroughly than the guy did.  Anyway, I hurried home (so it didn't set before it came out of the package) and got it heaped and smooshed in the hole.  I ended up adding a little water to it to see if that didn't help and it did but I suspect it won't be very durable on the porch.  I have visions of snow shoveling it up the first time winter comes in precipitation form.  But the garage floor hole is filled in so that tripping hazard is removed, even if only temporarily. 


 
Speaking of shoveling snow, I caught sight of a harbinger of winter this morning.  Looking toward the garden I saw a few juncos hopping and pecking around over there.  *sigh*  Juncos spend their summers in the Arctic and their winters in Wisconsin where it's warm.  Ha.  Not.  What do birds know?  At least they're cute birds and hawks like them so I don't mind seeing them.  I guess. 

 
The mums I planted a couple weeks ago have settled in nicely.  My assistant and I will continue to give them weekly drinks to keep them happy and to, hopefully, help them survive the winter.







October 18--Odoardo Borani, The Seamstresses of the Red Shirts.  "Do they all have to be the same?" Louise asked.  "Yes," said Claire, "they're uniforms.  They have to be uniform."  Louisa sighed and tucked the yellow embroidery floss back into her sewing basket.  Her fingers itched to put a curlicue on a cuff or a rising sun's rays on a pocket flap, just something to relieve the monotony of making endless red shirts all the same.  Esther crumpled up the fabric she held on her lap.  She disliked sitting indoors on such a fine day.  She tried to convince the others to at least sit outside on the porch or in the garden if they had to sew.  "Oh, no," Louisa said, "think of the sun, how it will ruin our skin."  She sniffed.  "We would look... common, and the season is coming up."

We're meeting some of our diving friends for burgers tonight--in a gas station.  I can't get over the fact that we can get really decent hamburgers and Tater Tots (if I can convince Durwood we need Tots instead of fries--fingers crossed) for not too much money in a sit-down cafe in a gas station.  But we can and have.  I've even turned some of my Clearing writing pals onto the joys of lunch at the Hilltop Cafe in the BP station on Bay Settlement Road.  They used to have "buck burger" night but I suspect their proximity to UWGB made it a money losing proposition.  Now we have to pay full price for a burger--less than $3.  A bargain.  Time to go pick up the dry cleaning.  (winter coats *sigh*--there was a coupon)
--Barbara

Monday, October 16, 2017

I Should Have More to Show You

I have had a busy day.  I did a lot of things.  How come I don't have more stuff to show you?  I don't know.

First thing, Todd, the handyman, showed up to replace the old, falling apart fence with a shiny new one.  Being a strong and helpful woman I offered to help him get the 6 foot by 8 foot piece of fence from his trailer around the house to the patio area.  Good thing I spent nearly 25 years hauling 40 lb. SCUBA tanks, one in each hand, from the back of the store to the front of the store and back.  I'm pleased that he was able to save the shelf that Dad put on there to hold four flower pots.

Being Monday, I took myself to the bank to cash a check for the week's grocery money.  Then I went to ransom a whole bag full of prescriptions (why do they always run out at the same time?) and to the library to pick up a knitting mystery novel (a real book with paper pages) that I don't remember reserving.  I also went to Home Depot for some pre-mixed concrete that DIL1 told me about because I am determined to fill in the hole in the garage floor that I keep almost tripping over.  The stuff the guy sold me is really cool.  It's a two-part package, kind of like epoxy, one side has the dry cement and the other has the liquid.  I was thinking I'd have to get some primer-type stuff to make the new concrete stick to the old stuff but evidently it's already in there, and I don't even need a trowel because it's self-leveling.  It's supposed to be warmer later in the week so that's when I'll get dressed in clothes I can ruin and play with it.  Looking forward to it.

Late in the afternoon I finally made it downstairs to sew.  Got the neck binding and one armhole binding sewn on.  (so much simpler than facings)  I suspect that I don't have enough of the white single-fold bias tape to do the other arm but I have no problem using another color.  You know me and matching things.  I don't really care, especially something that's on the wrong side of things.

Oh, I know what I did today.  I called the lawn mowing guy asking him to come one more time and he asked about the "leaf situation" so I spent an hour or so raking both front yards which was a good thing because it was really wet under the leaves.  And then he didn't make it today but that means the grass will be nice and dry for when he does come.  I noticed that the leaf collecting truck came today so the raking was a good idea all around.  Oh, I feel better now that I didn't lose part of my day.

October 16--Anonymous, Kublai Khan.  The round-faced Chinese man sat happily in the center seat of Row 17.  He smiled a welcome to everyone sidestepping down the aisle toward him.  Few of the passengers returned his smile and many of them were relieved not to be assigned Seat A or C so as not to be stuck with a friendly seatmate for the six-hour flight.  The plane slowly filled but the seats on either side of him remained empty.  Just as the head flight attendant and the gate agent met to close the door and move the jetway, a young mother towing a sniffling toddler ran down the slanted ramp and squeezed through the door.  "Row 17?" she said, "Seats A & C?"

We got a call last Friday that some friends from Indiana that we haven't seen in ages would be coming through Green Bay tomorrow.  They called today and will be here just after lunch and are spending the night.  Woohoo!  That meant a trip to the grocery for some spareribs, BBQ sauce, coleslaw, Italian bread, and the makings of cherry crisp.  I will confess that not one item in those bags shows its face in any self-respecting WW menu but it's something I can make in the crockpot and not have to spend the hours cooking when I could be swishing out the bathroom, moving piles of magazines, and then spending lots of time visiting with friends.  I'm warning you right now, I might not make it to the keyboard tomorrow.
--Barbara

Sunday, October 15, 2017

When Will I Be In Charge?

I feel like I have big plans for my days and then the day takes over and my plans get shunted aside.  I was going to sew today and here it is nearly 9 PM and I haven't sewn a stitch.  I stayed up too late last night and got the yoke pieces sewn to the dress pieces and the front sewed to the back.  I was gonna put on the neck and armhole binding, attach the pockets, and hem this dress but, no-o-o-o-o, I had to go to a grocery or two, do a few outdoor chores once it stopped raining, and then make supper.  I woke up at 7 o'clock this morning, you'd think there would be time for me to wander downstairs and fire up a sewing machine and iron.  Didn't happen.  Maybe tomorrow.
A comment was made that I'm cramming my closet full with these new clothes I'm making but I read somewhere online that when you change clothes for the season you should turn the hangers backwards so that you can see what you've worn and what's taking up space.  I've been doing that for the last few months.  When I started sewing after I retired I decided that I wanted to wear only clothes that make me feel good so I'm working my way toward that goal.  So far more clothes are coming out than going in.  I intend to keep it that way.


Last Friday night I got Sudoku Long Strip #2 crocheted onto Panel #2 and got Panel #3 clipped to the other side of the strip.  This afghan is enormous, way bigger than I imagined it would be.  I was thinking lap robe but this has all the makings of a bedspread.









Once I finished the Long Strip I got the Crazy Z Reds sock out again.  After not having worked on it for a while I confess that I had to tink (k-n-i-t backwards) a round when I didn't pay close enough attention to where I left off but I do like this pattern and I like the yarn--except when it gets caught in the zipper of the project bag.






One of the things I did today was bring in the bay leaf plant and avocado #2, both of which spent the summer outside.  Something was munching away on the edges of the avocado leaves but it doesn't seem to mind.  I also dug up the rosemary and planted it in an old coffee pot.  I want to keep the rosemary because it's one of my favorite herbs but I love the look of the old coffee pot too and want to have it back in the house (since I overwatered and killed the plant that was in it when I bought it).



Supper tonight was another WW triumph--marinated flank steak and green pepper rice.  Both recipes we haven't tried before, both deeeelicious.  I did not take a picture, I just ate my supper.  Trust me, it was good.  Now we have three evenings worth of supper in the fridge.  I love when we do that.  It makes things so easy on weeknights even though we're both retired and you'd think one or the other of us could manage to make supper.  Maybe we're getting lazy in our old age.

October 15--Annibale Carracci, The Stoning of Saint Stephen.  The first rock came out of nowhere slamming into Steve's head just above his right ear.  He hadn't heard anyone following him.  Had they been lying in wait crouched in the shadows until he came along?  That first rock was a signal.  Immediately rocks came at him from every direction, launched by hands but propelled by angry words.  Steve didn't know why they were stoning him.  To be honest, he wasn't exactly sure who was doing it.

Good lord, it's 9:30 already.  Time sure flies when you're having a life.  Nighty-night.
--Barbara

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Good Timing

Today started out sunny and things went downhill from there.  At around noon-ish I decided that getting prepared for the arrival of the handyman on Monday who will be replacing the privacy screen fence which is showing every one of its thirty-some years was the thing to do.  I attempted to replace the broken and missing pickets last summer but they don't make stockade-type fence panels anymore and no one has loose pickets either.  I'd have been willing to buy a whole one to deconstruct and have replacement pickets on hand but, no-o-o-o-o, they only have the flat 1 X 4s with their corners sawed off.  So I've got a guy coming Monday to put in a whole new fence.  I will be keeping the shelf that Dad put on there where I can nestle pots of flowers to pretty up the fence.  The most fun was taking out the lopping shears and giving the old honeysuckle its winter haircut and then dragging the sticks down to the curb for the stick truck to pick up the next time it comes by.  As soon as I had all my choppers and gloves and tarps put away it started to rain and it hasn't let up much since.  Like I said, good timing.

My plan for the afternoon was to go downstairs and cut out a couple three more of those tunic dresses.  I decided to wash that cow fabric from BD's mom so I dug through the bag to see what other treasures were in there.  I struck gold.  There are a few one yard pieces of Charlie Brown fabric that will make cute grandkid shorts.  Quite a bit of the fabric is small lengths of cotton in small prints and that old-barn red and dark blue that reminds me of Early American decor.  I'll find a use for it or maybe donate it to someone who makes quilts for charity.  The "gold" is in the form of this yard of turquoise fabric with swirly lines on it that if you look at it carefully are actually faces and about 3 or 4 yards of this crazy bright yellow floral--and it's stretchy.  It felt odd when I pulled it out of the bag, kind of like cheap upholstery fabric, but a run through the washer and dryer improved it immensely.  And I don't even use fabric softener.  (hate the waxy feel of it and the smell that never seems to go away--ugh)  This is totally going to make one wild Dress No. 1 that I can't wait to get cut and sewn up.  I'll probably look like an escaped hot-air balloon but I will love it.






I got one Dress cut out of a black and white floral linen blend and I plan to go downstairs once I hit "Publish" and cut out another one using this floral linen for the yoke and the navy linen blend for the skirt of another Dress.  I'm making these full length this time, just for variety.





You wish you had been here for supper tonight.  Durwood paged through the latest AllRecipes mag the other day and found this recipe for Braised Balsamic Chicken so I made it for supper.  As an accompaniment I made orzo (little rice-shaped pasta) that I tucked a sprig of fresh thyme from the garden into as it cooked.  It was delicious--and the best news is that we've got enough for two more nights' suppers. 


October 14--Edgar Degas, Harlequin & Columbina.  It didn't start as other love affairs do.  He loved her, she refused to see him, not even for a coffee date.  Eventually even he saw the futility of his unrequited love and looked elsewhere for solace.  Not surprisingly, once he was gone and interested in another dancer she missed him.

Isn't that the way it goes?  Okay, I want to get this posted and get back downstairs to cut out one more Dress before my eyes slam shut.  Did I mention that Durwood woke me up at 5:45 this morning because he couldn't find the edge of the bed?  Directions are hard in the dark.
--Barbara

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Now For The Bling

Last month I mentioned to LC that I wanted to make a bag for OJ since he slips anything that can act like a handle over his arm (giant reusable shopping bag, lap tray leg, etc.) and staggers around with it.  She said, "I need a bag too, Meemaw."  So I asked her what kind of bag she wanted.  She said, "Fancy."  Beads? "Yes." Flowers? "Yes." Butterflies? "Yes." Feathers? "Yes." So I cruised the clearance racks in the bling department at Joann Fabric & Crafts and came home with all kinds of goodies.  I scrounged around in my fabric stash and came up with a remnant of flowered denim with a pink background and one with baby blue background, neither one enough to make the entire bag, and, wouldn't you know, I had enough pink webbing for the handles.  (the stash is a miracle sometimes) So one side of the bag is the blue fabric and the other side of the bag is pink.  Tonight my needle and heavy thread and I will be adding gems, glittery flower buttons, multicolored butterfly buttons, and then for the piece de resistance I have white marabou with silver in it to stitch around the top.  Fancy is what she wants so fancy is what she'll get.


Now for the miracle.  This morning I sat myself down on the couch, before I showered, and I finished the last few garter ridges of Sudoku Long Strip #2, bound it off, and clipped the strip to the right side of Panel #2.  Tomorrow night at Friday Night Knitting I'll crochet them together and maybe make a start on crocheting the other side to Panel #3.  Then all I'll have to do is figure out what I want to do about the edge.  Whatever I do it will be done long before the project's 10th birthday.  (I'm far from the family Work In Progress record, though.  Mom started an embroidered applique quilt when she was pregnant with me and finished it a couple weeks before my 19th birthday.  You're still the champ, Mom.) 


 
I got a call one day last week from a diving friend whose mom went into a nursing home and whose sister, in searching for and collecting family photos, gathered up fabric, yarn, magazines, and patterns.  My friend knows that I do crafty things so she asked if I wanted it.  I told her she was welcome to bring it all over and I'd deal with it--keep it or donate it or toss it--so she doesn't have to.  (I'm nice like that, especially when yarn and fabric are involved.)  I'm going to donate the yarn to a couple friends who make lap robes and dog blankets for charity but I'm keeping the fabric.  Look at this.  It's I-don't-know-how-many little packs of fat quarters of cotton quilt fabric.  This is great stuff if you're a quilter and I've seen plenty of patterns for bags and other doodads using them but I also thought there's no reason I can't sew a bunch of them together and make yardage to make bigger things.  In another bag there's bigger pieces of fabric.  This one caught my eye immediately.  It's cows.  That is totally going to make a shirt for me or at least a yoke, sleeves, and pockets.  I love it.  Thank, BD.

For the final bit of making today Durwood and I collaborated this afternoon on a pot of Sweet Potato & Corn Chowder.  It smells great.  We're having it for supper.  I can't wait. (Sorry about the oddball color of the soup.  It's really not that yellow, more of a creamy yellow-ish white.  Stoopid camera.)





October 12--Paul Braq and Rudolf Uhlenhaupt, Mercedes Benz 300SL Gullwing Coupe.  Randall had a permanent lump on the right side of his forehead.  He secretly thought that he was too tall for his car but he would never say it out loud.  Every time he got into it he hit his head on the curved gullwing door and always in the very same spot.  The sleek lines of the 300SL were beautiful and he knew the silver color made it look modern and fast even when standing still but those doors were a pain.  Awkward to open and close, and they didn't fit right.  There was just enough of a gap between the door and the frame that when he drove over 60 mph the wind sang through the gap.  This was a car that begged to go fast so he tried to ignore the whistle.

Happy actual Columbus Day!  I harbor a low-grade annoyance at the federal government for juggling around traditional holidays to give themselves 3-day weekends.  I hear that some states and cities are changing Columbus Day to Native American Day.  I like that idea but I like what Canadians call their native peoples--First Nations--better than Native Americans.  Time to reheat our soup and see if all the chopping and stirring was worth it.
--Barbara

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Merry Christmas to Me!

Yeah yeah, I know it's early, more than two months early, but I've been getting increasingly frustrated with the paltry RAM in my cellphone, mostly taken up by the operating needs, so yesterday when Durwood and I discussed how much we'd be spending on Christmas gifts (ballpark) I mentioned that there was an AT&T prepaid phone with twice the RAM for $130 at Walmart.  He said, "Order it.  Order it now."  Not being a fool, I did (and it was only $99!) and picked it up last night after my caregivers group meeting.  Got all my contacts and photos and the phone number moved over (thank you, transfer app) before bed last night.  The only caveat is that I keep the empty box and act really surprised when I unwrap it on Christmas morning.  Gotcha.  Can do.  Now I need to be extra careful handling it for the next week because the protective case won't arrive until after the 13th.  But all day long I've been humming, "I wish me a Merry Christmas..."

 


 


Today has been the poster day for Autumn--gray and chilly and breezy.  I still managed to do patio yoga this morning and thought I'd use my new phone to take a picture of my mat while filling the feeders at the top of the hill in the backyard.  As you can see my yoga spot isn't the idyll we all hope for but it's outside, I plug in the fountain so there's the sound of running water, and the birds oblige by singing to me.  At times a bluejay or chipmunk scold me because I'm either yog-ing in the chipmunk's path or haven't yet put peanuts in the wreath for the jays but I maintain focus.  La la la la.




 
After catching up with a friend over lunch I zoomed through the
grocery gathering ingredients for Sweet Potato & Corn Chowder that Durwood plans to make tomorrow.  Doesn't that sound yummy?  The recipe is vegan but we'll de-vegan it by using evaporated milk instead of soy milk and our homemade chicken broth instead of vegetable broth.  I'm really looking forward to a nice, steaming bowl of soup for supper tomorrow night.  Speaking of Durwood, this morning I realized that I needed to try out my new phone's camera so here's the old guy reading the paper as I got ready to go out to yoga. 

The only other noteworthy thing I did today was go up to Sears (a block away) and buy a new fridge for the rental side of the duplex.  What I thought was a plugged auto-defrost drain hose when he mentioned it to me more than a month ago turned out to be rust on the face of the fridge that breaks the freezer door seal sending a steady trickle of water down onto the it-only-looks-like-wood laminate floor.  Both Durwood and I have scary visions of weeks of that water seeping between the fake wood planks and buckling the subfloor.  No, thanks.  A refrigerator is cheaper than a whole new kitchen floor from the rafters up. Besides fridges are on sale at Sears this week and if you apply for a credit card you get free delivery. (Yes, Lifelock, I did apply for that credit card but thanks for asking.)  It arrives on Friday sometime.  Hip hip hooray.

October 11--France, The Properties of Water and Wind, MS 993, Fol. 142.  Such a simple explanation.  Logical too.  At each of the cardinal directions rests a being, or the head of a being.  The whim and mood of the being sets the wind to blow and the water to flow.  When Dame North is in a foul mood, cold, ice, and floods spread over the land.  Mistress Summer can blow hot and dry or wet the land with her soft rain.  Maid East warms the frozen land and coaxes the trees to bud.  She lures North's frozen places to melt and brings forth violets and ladyslippers in the hidden places.  Lady West paints the trees in red and yellow, then amuses herself by blowing the leaves into tempests of color and decorating them with a frosting of white.

Look at the time.  The day has galloped away again.  Time to shove a couple of the last ears of fresh corn into the microwave and heat up the sautees teriyaki chicken and squash.  Toodles.
--Barbara

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Today Whooshed By

I have absolutely no clue where today's hours went.  It seemed like I got up and 2 hours later Durwood was asking me if I'd sneaked into the kitchen for lunch when in fact it was more like 7 hours.  Then before I knew it it was time to bake the pizza before going to the caregivers meeting at 5:30.  Where does the time go?  *flings hands in air*

You can't really see them but there are wispy clouds tinted pink by the rising sun behind these trees.


I liked this little red orange leaf floating all by itself in the fountain.


The handyman came this morning and quoted me a price to replace the privacy screen between the back patios but he can't replace the counter in the rental side of the duplex which can probably wait since I found out from the renter's mom that their fridge is leaking so badly that they have to keep a towel in front of it.  !!!!!  People, I need to know these things.  I won't think you're breaking stuff.  Promise.  Water will ruin even the it-only-looks-like-wood laminate floor and buckle the sub-floor.  Gah!  Guess we're picking out a new fridge this week.

Shortly after that the cleaning lady came for a couple hours to keep the Health Department away from the door.  I don't really accomplish much when she's here because she likes to chat while she works and our house is too small for me to get too far away from where she's working.  I don't mind, I love having her come once a month to dust and vacuum, clean the bathroom and the kitchen.  She cleans the floors on her hands and knees.  I'm so impressed.


Then I spent a big part of the afternoon photographing each and every skein of yarn in that big prize box and entering it all on my Ravelry account so I can start trolling around for patterns to use to make cool stuff.  Ravelry is an online site where you can enter all your yarn, needles, patterns & books, and keep track of your projects--ongoing and completed.  One of my favorite features is once I find a pattern I think I might like to make I can click a tab to see the posts of other people who have made the same thing and read any notes about challenging parts or adjustments they made.  I just wish someone would make a Ravelry for sewing but it'd be more difficult because you can't quantify fabric by weight and yards like you can yarn.  Look, tweed.  I'm a fool for tweed.

But first I mustered up my guts and sent an essay I wrote a couple years ago about Wisconsinites traveling with cheese in their coolers off to Our Wisconsin magazine.  If they publish it, they pay with a fresh, Amish-made pecan pie.  Yum.  Fingers crossed.

It hasn't been very cold lately but I noticed this morning that it's already been too cold for one of the fern varieties that live next to the patio (the dark one behind the bright green one in the foreground).  I love my ferns.  I used to have more of them but the siding and window installers trampled them into oblivion one winter.  Oh well, I guess I'd rather have non-drafty windows and nice, insulated walls.  Replacement ferns are cheaper than the heating bill.  Even if I buy a lot of them.




 October 10--John Singer Sargent, View of the Grand Canal in Venice.  Narrow black boats curved in the bow and stern slice through the murky, smelly water, propelled by a man wielding a long pole.  It seems like such an archaic way to travel in these days of instant gratification.  The water laps at the steps of the homes lining the canals.  I wonder if the water flows under the first floor of every house.  How could they keep it out?  The homes are stone and wood.  I'm sure they are rotting away and sinking into the mud.

Isn't that a happy thought?  Hey, if my mother-in-law were still alive she'd be 109 years old today.  Happy Birthday, Vi!  I hope you're playing bridge and baking coffee cake every day.  Oh, and wearing fancy slips under your plain dresses.  Vi wore the plainest clothes and bought the snazziest slips I ever saw--lacy and ruffly and gorgeous.  I used to get scolded by the nursing home staff for buying her nice slips.  They'd warn me that they'd get ruined in the wash.  "I'll buy more," I would tell them. "She always wore nice slips, even if she can't remember, I can, so she's having them."  We buried her in a confection of a slip from Victoria's Secret.  It was To. Die. For.  *snort*
--Barbara