Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Hat!




For Christmas, Ann's friend, Anne, gave me a single skein of lovely thick wool that came with a hat pattern. You know that kind of yarn, it's super thick and gorgeous, and the 65 yds. of it is enough to make a hat. (It's a lovely gray and natural with a slight green tinge to it. I really like it.) Actually it came with two patterns. I immediately cast on the cabled one because I feel like making cables is a real magic trick. I knit like the wind and by the end of Christmas day was 4 stitches from the end of the last row when I realized that I didn't have enough yarn. Drat. I frogged it and balled it up. Yesterday I decided to tackle the non-cabled pattern figuring, correctly it turns out, that I'd use less yarn. Ta-da! In the first picture you see Durwood wearing it. In the second, is the hat and how much yarn I had left. In the third, you see the hat in it's final form with the tassel I made from that little handful of yarn. There's barely a molecule of it wasted. Thanks, Anne.

The Knife-Edge of Cold

Man, it's cold outside, and I need to snowblow and I really don't want to. Waaaah! Today you get to read last night's casting about and frustration when I didn't immediately get an idea, and how fast that changed when I did. I'm working to focus on just writing, not thinking, so what you get is what you get. Case in point:

December 30--A random light. A random light. A random light? What does that mean? Random random Can light be random? Random light random light Random light. Jubal drove down County Road 72 late one midsummer night. The light of random houses sprinkled over the rolling hills and peering at him through thickets of young trees were the only sign that he wasn't the last person alive on the planet. He liked the narrow asphalt road with its sinuous curves and stomach-swooping little rises much better than the cold gray concrete of the state highway a mile or so to the north. Claire hated this old road. She said it was dangerous and too lonely, but that was what Jubal liked about it. He craved the solitude of the road with its friendly turns and the tangled brush just off the shoulder that provided cover for wild turkeys in the fall, whitetail deer all year round, and ring-neck pheasants in summer. He liked seeing the raccoons with their human-like hands perched waiting to cross after he passed and the heedless lumbering porcupines that took their old sweet time making him wait. It was an independent sort of road, maybe that was why he liked it so much.

There, it was gratifying to start out so frustrated and end up with a rather lyrical hymn to driving country roads. This pleases me immensely.

Stay safe if you're out tonight. Happy New Year!
--Barbara

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

This Makes 15 Days

Only 6 more and I'll have the 3 weeks in that's supposed to make a habit. It's starting to feel habit-y already. I was supremely uninspired by last night's prompt but I managed to eke out a little (a very little) anyway.

December 29--These are the delicacies of a ruined evening. Thinking back Susan could pinpoint when the evening began to go bad. She had ordered a dirty martini. Darren had looked at her as if she had asked for a blood chaser. "A dirty martini?" "Yes," Susan said, "one with a bit of olive juice in it. The olive juice makes it cloudy, not the clear of a regular martini, so they say it's dirty." She assumed that her explanation had cleared things up but she heard him mutter something about her being "too fancy for beer" as he tipped his bottle of MGD to take a sip.

That's it, kids. Have a great day.
--Barbara

Monday, December 29, 2008

Let's See...

...how many days in a row is this? I'm counting to 21 so I can take a night off. Well, probably not really, but some nights it's a real temptation to just leave the notebook and pencil alone and read my book before turning out the light. I want to rebuild the habit of writing every day, sometimes I feel too tired or uninspired but I can usually squeeze a few words out, they don't always make much sense, but I get them on paper and then I can sleep in peace. Here's the pittance from last night.

December 28--If I tell you the truth...
Truth telling is dangerous.

I hide behind lies
white lies, it's true,
but lies nevertheless.
I don't remember when
I started to live in the shadow
of lies
but that is where I live now.
I'm comfortable here
clothed in my suit
of lies,
snug in the thorns of their embrace.
Truth shines dangerous light
glaring into corners,
crumbling self-respect.
It sears my skin
and blisters my lips.
Truth hurts us all.
I'll stay here in my bed
of lies.

That's all a lie, but I like the way it worked out. I'm mostly a truth-teller because I'm not smart enough to lie. You?
--Barbara

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Empty Nesters

Ann drove off this morning so we're back to Mom & Dad alone at home. It's great to have her here but it's also great to wave goodbye. Can you say "comfortable rut?"

And it's sunny today. Ahh, I love sunny days. Yesterday's fog was awful, wasn't it?

December 27--Write about a time someone told you a secret. The seal of the confessional. That was always the hardest burden for Father Loefler to bear. For all the years of his priesthood he felt the weight of the sins heaped upon him every Saturday when he heard confessions. Not that many priests call the sacrament Confession anymore, most parishes have Reconciliation, a silly pretense that consisted of a church filled with penitents and a priest giving blanket absolution from the altar. How was he supposed to judge contrition or give counsel? How could he grant absolution willy nilly and keep his own conscience quiet? He found that as the years went by he felt the need to develop a way to offload the heaviest sins, the darkest secrets that floated through the screen that separated the priest from the confessing. At times he was surprised that he didn't drop with their weight.

Jenny and Jennifer, I know you both have in-home internet access, so where are you? I'm lonely over here. I feel like I'm hollering down a well.
--Barbara

Our Nest is Empty Again

This morning our DD drove off to go back to her "real" life in Lexington leaving the folks in the frozen north. I reminded her last night that every mile means it'll be getting warmer. She kept checking the temp in KY and announcing it so I think she'll be glad to be back where it's not quite so cold and snowy. It was great to have her here for 10 days; she knit a lot, I knit a lot, and she got to spend time with Durwood which was in short supply when he was working.

Some of her "quality" time with Dad was spent in what she called the "meatball sweatshop"
helping him prepare Italian Wedding Soup as our contribution to the family's Souptastic Christmas Feast. Pictured is tray 1 of 3 of itty-bitty meatballs. Durwood says he likes to get 3 or 4 meatballs in every bite. I say I'd make as many meatballs as there are servings and be done with it! Just one giant meatball per bowl. Tom's Turkey Booyah (traditional NE Wisconsin poultry and veggie soup--Belgian, maybe?) and Beer Cheese Soup were good, but we thought Durwood's Italian Wedding Soup was the best.


My knitting moved along nicely this week even with the distraction of gift finishing and gift wrapping and gift giving and gift opening (with no gift returning). I finally (it only took 10 months of not-intensive knitting) finished sock #1 of my first pair of socks using real skinny sock yarn and US3s. You can see I did cast on sock #2. I should have the pair to wear next fall if my timetable remains constant. DD is a great sock-knitting motivator, she zooms along using US2s and the thinnest of yarn, all the while wearing hand knit socks from her arsenal of completed pairs.


In the face of her sockitude I decided to give knitting two at once on 2 circs another try. She and I sat down together and talked our way through the instructions and pictures in this book. I'm nearing the 2" mark on the cuff which is zooming along for me. I'll keep going on these; I'm determined.







I worked on the second of four sections of the sari silk purse for my DIL. I hope to finish it and cast on #3 by bedtime.




And finally, you have to see the coolest Christmas present I got from DD. She borrowed a knitting machine and knit a piece of fabric 18" X 34" out of undyed light worsted weight yarn. Then she used squirt bottles filled with dye to draw a reef scene on it. My job is to unpick the end and unravel it while knittin
g it into something else, like a shawl or gloves or whatever. She says it's about 300 yards so I have to find a pattern that uses almost that much or maybe 2 that add up, don't want to waste an inch. So very cool.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Day of Fog and Ice

What stupid weather! Below zero then snowsnowsnow then rainfogice. Who's in charge here? I want a word. I didn't really mind the snow, it was pretty, but this warm stuff is dangerous. Good thing I have lots of salt to keep the driveway climb-up-able (we have an uphill driveway for those who don't know).

December 26--Write about something sacred. Rhodes sat in the last pew of the darkened church, the flickering red candle in the sacristy leaping in the drafts that wafted through the nave even on the stillest days. Faint blue moonlight shone through the panes of the stained glass windows down both sides of the church and cast shadows that looked impenetrable. He had been sitting there for over an hour drinking in the smell of the votive candles in racks at the side altars, the remnants of the incense used in High Mass and on feast days, and the misery of years of congregations. When he first sat down and settled there each small sound made him jump and look around. He identified the far-off closing of a door and the slow steps of a man coming nearer. As the steps got closer he heard the murmur of a voice in prayer, he thought, and praying in Latin since he couldn't understand the words. Once he would have understood. He had been an altar boy in the days of the Latin Mass. He had dressed in a black cassock, just like the priest's, with a snow white surplice over the top. He said the responses confidently and rang the bells at the right time. So caught up was he in the memory that he was startled to realize that the priest had entered the church and come down the aisle, stopping a few pews away. He had the sense that the black-robed man in the Roman collar had spoken, asked a question. Rhodes looked up at the gray-haired man looking at him out of warm brown eyes and his hand raised on its own to make the Sign of the Cross. Without realizing it, he began to speak, " Bless me, Father, for I have sinned..."

Ooh, I wonder what he's doing there.

Stay safe on this foggy day. I was going to quote Robert Frost but this is no fog that moves on "little cat feet" this is Bigfoot fog.
--Barbara

Friday, December 26, 2008

Boxing Day!

That means it's the day your living room is filled with empty boxes, right? I was a bit busy yesterday to find time to post my writing, but this morning I have the time. It snowed--again--and I don't really do that whole crack of dawn, rugby scrum bargain shopping thing. Although I suppose I could have gone to pick up a new laptop. I'd like a new laptop. If I had the cash for it. Which I don't. So I won't go looking for one. Well, that takes care of needing to go out today. Guess I'll stay here, do the laundry, eat cookies, party mix, and English toffee, and knit or Wii bowl.

December 24--Write about a fire. The logs were stacked precisely like Lincoln Logs. They made a square chimney. She had combed the woods surrounding the stacked limestone circle of the council ring to find dry twigs and grasses to use for kindling. She had carried an old galvanzied watering can, minus its sprinkler head, down from the cottages built in the clearing. The can was heavy with water and it sloshed a bit leaving a wet mark on her old jeans. A couple trips to the shelter halfway up the trail and she had a nice pile of split firewood off to the side and a nice armload of smaller pieces to feed the fire after the kindling caught. She worked alone and in silence. It had been an eventful morning in her writing class and she decided after lunch to spend the afternoon outside in the crisp autumn sunshine. The wind in the trees and the murmur of the waves as they collapsed on the rocks at the base of the bluff soothes her troubled mind and the silent work of making the fire ready for that evening's bonfire assured her that even if the words wouldn't come, the beauty of this place could heal most of the hurts of her everyday life.

December 25--We ate Chinese. In my family take-out Chinese food was like medicine. If you borught home a note from your teacher Mom trusted that an egg roll and a cardboard carton of roast pork fried rice would set things right. A bad report card or failing a test called for sterner medicine--crab rangoons and egg foo yung would be prescribed. For really bad things, like breaking a window in Mrs. Stein-across-the-street's living room with a basebass or giving one of your bratty little twin brothers a black eye, a trip to the Mandarin Garden with its bright pagoda paintings and red chrome and formica booths was the remedy. Convalescing from a cold? Egg drop soup and a handfull of fortune cookies washed down by over-fizzy Fanta orange soda was just the thing to make you feel better. I learned from an early age that there was very little in life that couldn't be cured by a few cartons of stir fried meat and veggies and a bit of sticky rice.

Neither are great literature, but I'm just happy, as always, that I wrote. Hope everyone's Christmas was merry and bright. If not, have a nice sulk.
--Barbara

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve!

Holy carp, it came fast, didn't it? Don and Ann are making Italian Wedding soup today as our contribution to the family Christmas soup feast tomorrow. I'm in charge of snow removal. I absolutely adore my big red snowblower. Adore it.

December 23--Write about something you want but cannot have. I want to be taller. Just an inch or maybe two. It's not asking a lot. If I were two inches taller I could reach things on the top shelves of the cupboards without needing a char to stand on. But if I were suddenly taller all of my jeans would be too short and I just can't afford to replace them right now. No one would look me in the eye, they'd be watching my chin and certain person of the male persuasion would be staring at my belly button if you know what I mean. It's probably too late to grow two inches, after all I am over fifty so maybe I should just put in my order early for my next go-round.

That's it. That's a brilliant as I could be last night. Hope you're all having a great week.
--Barbara

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Vincent the Underwater Elf is Born--Followed by a Snow Report


Isn't he cute? And he looks so happy. It took forever to make his mouth so he didn't look like he'd had a few too many egg nogs at the Elves' Christmas party. I really like how he turned out. I wasn't sure I'd like an elf not made in red and green but both of the ones I made this week are terrific.

And remember I took a picture on Dec. 9 of the 6" of snow we got? That day I swept the snow off the grill. Here's a picture of the grill today. See how much snow we're having to dea
l with? A lot. Too much if you ask me. We've gotten more than half our normal winter's worth this month and there's still a week left. They're saying 2-4" more tomorrow and more on the weekend. Aargh!

Snow? Again?

Someone has majorly pi**ed off the winter gods. It's snowing again and snowing hard. I'm tired of moving this stuff out of my way so I can drive off. I'm just glad we only have to drive to Howard on Christmas.

December 22--It's Sunday morning. The phone rings. The sunlight had barely begun to peek around the edges of the curtains that Sunday when the phone rang. Kay felt a cold clutch in the pit of her stomach. She sat up straight in bed and reached for the aqua princess phone on her bedside table. "Hello?" There was no answering voice asking for help or drunk dialing or apologizing for a wrong number, just dead air. "Hello?" she said again a little louder, a little firmer. Still no sound, not even breathing. As she reached to hand up she thought she heard something and pressed the receiver back to her ear. "Kay," breathed an unfamiliar voice, "Kay. Kay." There was a long exhale on the last "Kay" and then the sound of the phone falling onto something wooden. Then nothing. The cold in her stomach spread outward to her limbs as she stared at the phone in her hand as if it had sprung up and bitten her.

Happy shoveling!
--Barbara

Monday, December 22, 2008

Success!



I was a good little crocheter yesterday and I finished the elf for Mr. & Mrs. Boss. And before midnight too. His legs are a little spindly looking and they're uneven but, hey, handmade! I like him. I hope his new parents do.

Brrrr

Geez, it's cold out. I had to snowblow my van out of a drift yesterday because it was on the street when the plow went by so it was snowed in. First time I had to snowblow the street. And windy? Holy cats, it was windy. Seemed like we got all our winter on the first day.

December 21--Write about a scar. It was just a thin white line that traced a meandering path up Ellen's arm but it had a big story to tell. Most of the time it was nearly invisible, pale and narrow, its pink color nearly matching her alabaster skin. In the summer the story changed. Ellen drew too much attention to the fact that something was hidden if she wore long sleeves but even though she barely tanned and wore the strongest SPF sunscreen, the scar was much more visible. It stayed pale pink as her skin turned pale gold and the margins stayed white. Strangers stared when they saw it, most of them too polite to ask about it. She told inquisitive children that she got it running with a pair of scissors. But the real cause haunted her dreams. The thin silver blade flashing in the firelight, slashing out of the silent darkness was never far from her thoughts.

Three more days! Everybody ready? I think I am, well, except for making a batch of spritz cookies. That'll get done tomorrow.
--Barbara

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Longest Night

That'll be tonight, and then little by little the light will start to win over the dark. It will creep back a minute or two a day until we realize that we're not driving in full dark when we leave work at 5 PM. Until we realize that the air is softer and gentler on our skin and doesn't try to slice us like a steel blade. Like it's doing today. Ah, Winter, you vixen, bring it on.

December 20--Write what you didn't say. I had my teeth clenched so tightly I was sure they would explode. The longer I worked for, well, them the harder it was to keep my opinions to myself. They could learn so much from me, like how not to chase customers away and what Customer Service really means. I could tell them the right way to treat the instructors, how they are the people the students admire and rely on for gear purchasing advice. I would advise them on paying their bills on time and how to spend their purchasing money. I should be in charge of most businesses, actually. I'd have them straightened out in no time. Governments too. Those people could really use a dose of my brand of common sense. I'd cut out all the pork and streamline bureaucracy from the local level all the way to the highest in the land. Religions would benefit too. In fact, why doesn't everyone just put me in charge? In six months I'd have the whole planet running much smoother.

Megalomania, anyone? Try not to blow away with the drifting snow.
--Barbara

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Elfin Magic


I've been crocheting elf parts the last few days. Haven't gotten one completed but here's what I've got done. I realized last night that I need to have the non-Pogo elf done on Monday to give to Mr. & Mrs. Boss because they graciously gave me Christmas Eve off so I need to leave their elf at the store when I close on Monday. Crochet like the wind! I'll make it, even if I have to buy another G hook and enlist my daughter to help make limbs.

And I couldn't resist taking a picture of Durwood, or as I like to call him, Wisconsin Skinny the Wii pool shark. He
scratches a lot (that's when the cue ball goes in a pocket) and complains a lot but he keeps playing. He's loving the Wii. Most every day he and I have a 3-game world championship bowling tournament. Usually I lose but every once in a while (like yesterday) I win.

The Last Day of Autumn

I find it demoralizing that we've had so much snow and so many frigid days and it isn't even winter yet. Whoever is in charge of this sort of thing needs to get on the ball. I thought it would make it easier to clear the driveway with Ann's car and my van covering most of it but it isn't. It's a pain to maneuver around the vehicles and clear a path to get them out. I'm not complaining though, I love my big red snowblower. Thanks, Don!

December 19--You are in a church. Sera stood in the aisle of the biggest church in Leesville. Her brother Michael was getting married in the church tomorrow afternoon and the whole wedding party was there for the rehearsal. The minister, a woman, was in her mid-thirties and good looking in a religious sort of way. Pastor Angela had the situation well in hand despite the barely controlled near hysteria of Cherry, the bride's mother. The bride herself, whose name was Grace, stood still at the far end of the aisle holding her father's arm and doing none of the fidgeting and dithering of most of the rest of the females in the nave. Spring sunlight streamed through the gem colors of the stained glass and Sera heard Cherry tell the poor beleaguered wedding planner that she wanted it to be "just like that tomorrow." Sera and her mom exchanged raised eyebrow looks and both of them looked at Grace who shrugged and then teased Cherry saying, "Mom, I don't think even you can alter the weather to your taste. Now sit down so we can get this over and go eat. I'm starving." Three of the groomsmen and an usher applauded.

I have to go shovel and snowblow. Have a great weekend. I'll be back tomorrow morning with another little splut of writing.
--Barbara

Friday, December 19, 2008

Oh, Christmas Tree...















I'm very happy with how the tree turned out this year so I thought I'd share a photo or two. That's my favorite ornament of an octopus on the globe and my crocheted elf, Abercrombie, for whom I am making a friend.

Ok, Now Today Looks Like Winter

Holy crap, is it snowing! I'm very glad I can stay home and make stuff today instead of braving the craziness of shopping.

Thanks for the great meeting last night, Bob. Elmore Leonard's 10 Rules made for excellent discussion fodder and I loved the illustrations. His reason for using "said" is the best, most logical, most sensible I've ever heard.

December 18--Write about masks. People wear masks all the time. Sometimes it's makeup or facial hair, other times it's a false attitude that's worn for work or to hide feelings. Write about masks. Write about masks. Write about masks! Masks! What about masks? I feel like all my masks are askew or slipping, maybe damaged or becoming transparent. Maybe they're becoming too heavy or the glue I use to keep them on has worn off. Sometimes I feel as if there are wide cracks in my mask that let my true feelings glare out and sometimes I know that people can see it by the wary look on their face.

Not much happening on the paper last night. Oh well, happy shoveling.
--Barbara

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Sunny But Freezing!

I love the sunshine glittering on the snow. It's cold out there but the sunshine makes up for it in my book. Not so much in Don's, he hates the cold with a nuclear passion but can't afford to move. Oh well, I knit him warm things and listen when he complains. I'm a good wife--off and on.

December 17--Write about a red-haired woman Julia's hair was a lie. It blazed fiery auburn in the sunlight and hinted at submerged passions. Julia was not passionate about anything or anyone. Oh, maybe you could say she was passionate about order. The books in her library had to be in order. It was an ironclad rule. Few of her employees would use the word passionate when talking about Julia, though. Rigid, they might say, or inflexible. Determined might be the choice of someone taught not to speak ill of anyone. Even the most upbeat and positive of them called the red-haired spinster librarian driven. And she was driven. Driven to the exclusion of any arguments or excuses for even one book found out of order. No man had ever been brave or foolhardy enough to attempt to divert Julia's attention away from that order toward more passionate pursuits.

Ann made it home safe and sound yesterday evening. I'm happy about that because now I have someone to knit with in my very own home. I don't have to go out trolling for people to knit with I have one handy all the time--for the next 10 days anyway.

See you tonight!
--Barbara

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Underwater Elf

Our Christmas tree is one of those white wire trees people put in their yards with white lights. All the ornaments on it have an ocean theme. We have fish of every color, seahorses, whales, sharks, shells, some shiny, some sparkle-y, some woven, all kinds of materials and colors. I use a fringed batik sarong in turquoise, magenta, orange, and green as a tree skirt. When I put Abercrombie (the elf Ann and I crocheted last Christmas) under there he looked a bit out of place in his red and green, so I thought about it and decided to make a new elf in ocean colors. Not to replace Abercrombie, you understand, but to keep him company (yeah, that's it, keep him company, don't wanna hurt the elf's feelings right before Christmas). I was all ready to go on a yarn hunt in the stores but then I remembered some Red Heart Strata I had used when I was learning to knit by making afghan fish; it's called Pogo and has the exact colors I was looking for. I went down to the yarn vault and unearthed the remains of the skein. There wasn't much so I resigned to brave the cold and holiday shoppers for another skein. Went to Michaels. No Pogo. Off to Walmart West. No Pogo. Down Hwy. 41 to Walmart in DePere. No Pogo. Back to JoAnn's. Still no Pogo. By then it was dark and I was sensing a theme since there were no other versions of Strata on the shelves either. Could it be discontinued? I hurried home to get online to check. Yep, discontinued. I googled it and found one skein on eBay so I placed a bid and so far I'm high bidder. I also found a Red Heart Lovers forum on Ravelry so I posted there asking if anyone would be willing to sell me a skein. I have hopes. But I also had enough Pogo to crochet the body last night (I'm 2 rows into the head) and I think (fingers crossed) I have enough left to do the hands and feet which are just balls with no digits to fuss with.

Two In A Row

Look! Look what a good writer girl I am, I have now written two days in a row. My, this is turning into a habit (in 19 more days). I'm at work listening to the ribbits and croaks of one of my favorite Christmas tapes--A Froggy Christmas. It makes me giggle. I couldn't fall asleep last night so this is what I wrote:

December 16--"I walked into the Maverick Bar in Farmington, New Mexico." There was a red neon sign of a cowboy on a bucking horse perched on the roof. Not my usual kind of place. Inside it was black dark and the air was thick with the smell of sweat, stale beer, and even staler cigarette smoke. My eyes slowly adjusted and saw a few beer signs crouched in the window frames as if they were embarrassed to be seen in such a dive. I was embarrassed to be there too, and nervous. Some crying country and western song whined out of the jukebox and a man who looked ten years older than God sat at the bar. "Can I help you?" a woman's voice said. I looked closer and saw a woman, in her middle fifties by the look of her in the dim light, wiping the bar. "I'll have a..." I tried to think of the safest thing to order. "I'll have a bottle of beer, no glass," I said and perched one butt cheek on a torn and taped bar stool. I nearly put my purse on the bar but stopped before the leather hit the surface and slung it over my shoulder. The woman put a cardboard coaster in front of me and set a bottle of Sterling on it. "That'll be three bucks," she said. "And d'you want a napkin to wipe the top with? We rarely get prissy women in here so I'm not sure what's right." Her words brought a wheezy laugh out of the old guy on the end stool that quickly turned into a phlegmy cough. The bartender walked down, poured a shot, and set it on the bar in front of him. She patted his hand then held it while he drank. "Okay now, Ed?" she asked and, when he nodded, she came back my way. I decided I must look like my father.

While I was writing it, I didn't know why the "I" was in there, what she had gone for. It was only after I closed my notebook and turned off the light that the last line came. Despite all my complaining about it I do like this writing thing. See you tomorrow night.

--Barbara

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Dept. of Fur & Feathers

Since Durwood is the dean of hawk pictures I was feeling a bit left out in the wildlife photography area. Today that is behind me. I took pictures of the albino squirrel that lives in our neighborhood. I saw it a few weeks ago at the end of our neighbor's driveway scampering up a tree, so I kept putting fresh corn cobs out to try and lure it into the backyard. And today it arrived!












Cool, isn't it? It even has little pink eyes, which means it's a true albino. I hope the rest of the squirrels don't beat it up. We're calling it Alby.

It Only Took 15 Days...

...to get tired of my lazy-ass writer self and pick up a pencil again. It suddenly occurred to me that if I didn't get a pencil moving, I'd be in danger of letting it go for good. So I sat on the edge of the bed before laying down to sleep last night and wrote to the prompt from A Writer's Book of Days. Here's what came...

December 15--Write about a red convertible. Vroom, vroom. Derek lay on the celery green shag carpet pretending his ancient Matchbox car, stripped of paint by too many summers spent in one sandbox or another, was a shiny red convertible. He could imagine it clearly--the gleam of paint that rich cherry red with just a hint of blue in it and the eye popping flash of the chrome like expensive braces across the front. He could feel the sweep of wind through his hair as he drove his red convertible down the living room highway, the blue ceiling sky arching overhead and the summer sun of the lamps beating down. The shade of the coffee table brought cool relief as he traversed the shag Serenteti littered with potato chip crumbs and Cheerio trails left by his big and little sisters as they followed their traditional migration patterns from the den to the kitchen and back.

That's it. My first tentative venture back into making sh*t up. Ahhh. Thanks for the reminder, Jenny, about having "writerly activities" to report on Thursday night. (Damn, it's cold outside.)
--Barbara

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Writerly activities...

...since Thursday still haven't been good for me. I've written people up at work, but that's hardly creative or fun, so it doesn't count. Still, I have to do more of those this week. Christmas so isn't the time for this. Ugh. I'll at least add a post on the blog to the writerly list. Not so creative but at least more fun. I was going to come home and write tonight, but instead I'm watching Ocean's 12 on Oxygen. I'm an excellent procrastinator. On an exciting note, though, just one more week until I can have coffee again! And milk! And cheese! Yippee! Oh coffee, you sweet nectar of the gods, how I long for thee...

How's it going for the rest of you?

Jenny

Can I Just Say...



...how much I love the colors of reclaimed silk yarn? I remember how beautiful and jewel-like the colors are, how they meld together in a glittering fabric, but between projects I forget how the yarn twists back on itself like a hyperactive snake making big snarls that I have to untangle.



I am released from Christmas gift knitting and have taken up knitting a purse for my DIL. This one's for you, Abby. I'm not promising when but it'll be before winter ends. Cross my heart.




Maybe
I'll knit some Sudoku squares or even finish that sock I cast on last April and never finished. There is much in the stash to be magicked into life.

Friday, December 12, 2008

He Picked Mine!



Remember late last month I knitted a couple caps for Connor who has a virulent form of brain cancer? In three short weeks knitters/crocheters on Ravelry made 145 hats so that each student in Connor's school got a hat. They were distributed last Friday. Connor got to choose first. He chose the gray beret I made. I was flabergasted--and burst into tears.


I sometimes feel like I mail my charity knitting off into the void. Here's proof that what I do makes a difference. I am humbled.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Tee hee hee!!!!

I'm not!!!!....I have however created a two story enclosure for my pigs....they don't like the ramp....spoiled and unappreciative is what they are!


Looking forward to Thursday night where I can tell all of you that I'm not doing anything writerly!

Helloooo?

Is anybody there? Are any of us writing? I'm not.

It's echo-y in here.

--Barbara

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Miscellaneous Stuff




Mostly I'm posting because I keep forgetting to post the newest Sharp-shinned hawk pictures Durwood took last Thursday when it was snowing. Aren't they wonderful? He's really lucky.









We woke
up today to 6" of the fluffy white stuff. I thought you might enjoy a view of the grill, the Emma's chair, and garden.





I finished another market bag at work yesterday. This is a great project to leave in my work backpack to have when I am underwhelmed by customers. Can you believe that people seem to be spending money on frivolities like rent and food and gas instead of scuba stuff? Me neither.





And finally, if you've got a few pennies left from your holiday gift buying, head over to the Yarn Harlot's post from the past and send your spare change to Doctors Without Borders. We who are so rich in so many ways can really make a difference. Have a happy holiday season no matter how you celebrate it, I'm happy to have you all in my life even if it's only in the blogosphere.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Selfish Knitting


Just a tad. I worked all day on the Phoenix Tears hat to go with the scarf I knitted last week. I don't know why it took all day to finish this hat. I had the 6 row ribbing done when I went to bed last night and there's only 28 rows after that, and it's on US15s. I do know that my hands ache right now. Maybe the 2 or 3 kinds of novelty yarn were too rigid for ease of knitting. I used the Meathead pattern and I made one of those in an afternoon last week. Oh well, it's done and now I can move on to the last half of the last stealth project tomorrow while I'm keeping the world safe from scuba diving. (It's been really customer-less at work with the saggy economy, see? So I'm getting a lot of knitting, crocheting, and web surfing done there.)

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Snowy Day


It's snowing. But then it is Wisconsin so I should expect that in December, I suppose. At least it's not a bazillion degrees below zero--yet.

Here's the hat I knitted on Thanksgiving for Mom to give to a friend. It's made with 2 strands of Lamb's Pride Bulky in Prairie Goldenrod on US 15 DPNs in my favorite Meathea
d Hat pattern. I love this hat!

I wore my Phoenix Tears scarf the last couple of days and realized that none of my current hats match it. Bummer. That means I have to make one. Oh look, I cast one on last night. Guess what pattern. Meathead? Ooh, you're so smart. I'm carrying 2 strands of Angel Hair, 1 of Squiggles, and 1 of Boa to start so it's thick enough and then I plan to add in the orange Fun Fur about halfway up to give it that plume-y look. Should be quite a hat, but then Mr. Boss did say he thought the scarf looked like "pizza puke." The man has no taste, no whimsy.





Durwood and I have been Wii bowling every day. Fitness, you know. See how focused he is?







The most exciting thing happened at the grocery this morning. I drove into the parking lot, snowflakes falling with enthusiasm, and there was the Oscar Mayer Weinermobile! I hurried in to do my little bit of shopping and raced out to find them setting up for display. I was first in line to see it. I got a Weiner Whistle.

It. Glows. In. The. Dark.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

WIP




I am revisiting the first pattern I learned to use DPNs on just over a year later and I'm amazed at how much less afraid of them I am. These are nothing! Double Pointed Sticks? Piffle!










My primary reason for showing you this glove is the yarn. I know my pictures aren't doing the colors justice (they're much darker and richer in person), but, people, I stop after nearly every row to admire the colors. So beautiful.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Oh Good

Because I really don't want to spend the ink to print mine. One chocolate cake coming up! See you Thursday.

--Barbara

To print or not to print......

Oh geez...I think I need to wait on printing my novel. I will use the excuse that I am going "green" and will wait until my novel moves from "That's crap!" to "Workable".

A chocolate cake to celebrate sounds like a wonderful idea!

I am really looking forward to January 1st so I can start blogging with the Writer's Book of Days! Who knows...maybe something good will come out of the prompts.

See you all Thursday night!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Hold On There, Missy!

Don't be threatening me with another NaNoWriMo when my Alphasmart keys are still smoking. I haven't begun to recover from this last one yet. I'm still feeling a bit battered and bruised from the experience. I'm sure I'll be raring to go next fall but for now, let me enjoy that nice big number in peace. *sigh* I just realized that the side of my right thumb is sore from all the spacebar hitting I've done in the last 30 days. What a silly writing injury.

Are you going to print out your manuscript and bring it to writer's on Thursday to show off? I think I might, just to brag over that nice big pile of paper. So, should I bake a chocolate cake for us? I made one the other day that is so good I can barely keep from eating it all in one day. I'd be happy to whip up another one (so I'll get to eat some more of it) in the interest of shared celebration. What do you say?

--Barbara

Break out the Party Favors!

Congratulations Barbara! Reading your blog was a great way to start this snowy, windy Monday morning.

What an amazing month this has been. I am so glad that we embarked on this challenge together.

Just think....only we get to start this madness again in 11 months; but for now I am just glad it is over and I can go back to writing on a variety of subjects and enjoying a good book or two.

We will definitely have to celebrate this Thursday night.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Day 30--Finito!

You can't see me but I'm doing the happy dance. I just finished. I pounded out the end, caught the murderer, and justice was done. Well, more or less. This feels good.

Daily total: 2,029 words
Final total: 50,407 words

It's snowing. Ugh.
--Barbara

Done


I worked and worked today and I finished the Phoenix Tears Scarf. I like it--I think. It wasn't hard or expensive since I did not use Colinette yarns but put together fiery and feathery yarns that were in my budget. And it's snowing. Ugh.

Day 29--WooHoo!

Congratulations, Jennifer! I knew you could do it. Way to go. and now you have something substantial to hold up one leg of your bed or tippy table (if you print it out). That's about what I feel my manuscript is worth today. But as you say, someday down the road we'll look at this pile of writing and make it into something someone might want to read.

Daily total: 2,079 words
Running total: 48,378 words

I'm down to the wire but I'm confident. I should make us a cake for Thursday to celebrate. You like chocolate? Allergic to anything?

--Barbara

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Free at Last! Free at Last! Thank God Almighty I am Free at Last!!!

I did it!!!! I busted my hump, my bump, and whatever else I needed to bust to reach Nanowrimo success!

My total word count as of two minutes ago is 50,039. I know it is not done, but for now it is done. I will come back to it one day to smile, to grimace, to laugh and maybe to hurl at how crappy it is...but it is done!

Go Barbara go!!!!! Go Barbara go!!!! You can do it girl!!! Go Barbara go!!!!

Feasting & Knitting



We had a lovely Thanksgiving at my brother's house. The food was good and bountiful, and the service was excellent. And Colton was camera-shy, as are all 14 yr. olds, but Uncle Durwood sneaked up on him. He's growing up too fast. (Colton, not Uncle Durwood, he doesn't seem to have grown up at all.)











After the meal
Grandma and Diego stayed out of the way while the rest of us played Wii Bowling and Andy tried his hand at Wii Boxing.










While waiting for my turn at Bowling I knitted a hat for Mom to give her friend but nobody took my picture and I forgot to take a picture of the finished hat before giving it to Mom, but here's the parts and I promise to take a picture before she gives it away.

It was a fun day.


I've been knitting along on the Phoenix Tears scarf. I'm into the Boa section which will segue into the feathery plumes and tears in 8 inches or so. It's going to be cool looking and I can see I'm going to want to make it again to try out other ideas I have about it's composition. Can't follow the pattern too closely, you know.

Days 27 & 28--Not Much Writing, Followed By A Lot

Well. Only 2 more days to go on this NaNo thing and I've got to write two thousand words a day for each of them and, to be honest, I just don't want to. But I will, even if I have to cheat and repeat myself. I have ideas about how the story will go, Don and I even brainstormed the detecting part on our drive to Sheboygan on Thursday, but I'm just not motivated to put it on paper. But I will. Later. Cross my heart.

Daily total (Thursday): 513 words (my worst yet)
Daily total (Friday): 2,206 words (much better)
Running total: 46,301 words

Jennifer, I trust you are bearing down toward the giant shining glow of 50K that I can see hiding behind the November 30 page of my calendar. Come on, we can do it! We are women, hear us roar! We're writers too, even scarier.

--Barbara

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Day 26--Writing While The Bread's Baking

I planned to write at work today but 22 cartons of gear arrived by FedEx. Twenty-two, people, I had a fort built in the back room that I called Fort Deep See (the company that sent all the boxes) and Mr. Boss came in to take a bunch of it to store at his house and I couldn't do my usual routine of work a little, write a little, work a little, write a little. So I got a lot of unpacking boxes, entering the items into the computer, tagging them, and putting them away done but not a lot of writing. Grr. So once supper was over (yummy tilapia fillets with homemade salsa baked to perfection by Chef Don with steamed home grown baby carrots alongside) I wrote a bit, then got the onion bread started, wrote a bit, punched the dough down, wrote a bit, formed the loaves, wrote some more. Now I've decided that I'm done writing for the night and will just knit until the bread's done--about midnight. Bread always takes longer than I think it will.

Jennifer, I'm very glad you joined our group. Your excitement and enthusiasm have injected new life into our exercises. It's very satisfying to have someone be so willing to jump into the deep end with us and start swimming. I can't wait to read your next submission.

Daily total: 2,254 words
Running total: 43,582 words.

Line of the day:
Checking the clock he realized that it was nearing one o’clock in the afternoon. He had missed lunch and supposed that Mister and Missus Clark (cluck, Rooibos caught himself thinking of the chickens that lived next door to him. A laugh shorted out his nose but he got control of himself with an admonishment not to slip and call the American witnesses Mister and Missus Cluck. He needed a vacation, he decided, as soon as this case was done.) were either napping after lunch or out at a dive site.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you. I'm thankful to have a group of writing friends who are willing to put up with my weirdness and angst.
--Barbara

Twas the night before Turkey Day.....

The pecan pie is out of the oven, the guinea pigs and Shelby (Shelbert/Bert) have been fed and I have nothing to do until I head to my parent's house tomorrow for the big feast, but write my Nanowrimo work.

I just wanted to take a moment to let the three of you know how thankful I am to be a part of your fantastic writing group.

Thank you for welcoming me into the group with such open hearts, minds, and notebooks.
Thank you for challenging me to become a better writer with the brilliant work the three of you create.
Thank you for such fun, stimulating activities that bring out ideas in me I never would have thought of before.
But most of all, thank you for your friendship. You do my heart and my creative soul good.

I wish you all a very Safe and Happy Thanksgiving.

Scarf!


The Phoenix Tears Scarf is looking cool, although I sort of wish I had figured out how to gradually add the orange Fun Fur rather than have an abrupt change but I like it. I carried the Squiggles into the orange a couple of rows so that doesn't just stop. Next I want to work in the Boa which looks like muppet eyelashes and its color name is Phoenix. Coincidence? I think not.

Everyone have a Happy Thanksgiving and eat too much of everything. You know you're going to do that anyway, now you have permission. It's only once a year.


Day 25--Slowest Day Yet

I got focused on doing errands and chores around the house and my writing suffered. I did write--a tiny bit--but nowhere near what I should have. (but I did get the lawnmower and snowblower exchanged) Oh well, in 5 more days the torture will be over and I can go back to my misanthropic ways. Only 8,672 words and I will be released from this bondage. Hallelujah!

Daily total: 574 words (shameful!)
Running total: 41,328 words

Everybody have a Happy Thanksgiving! Don't eat too much pie. On second thought, go ahead, eat too much pie. Eat too much everything. It's only once a year.

--Barbara

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Day 24--You Go, Jennifer!

Wow. How cool is it that you got an inspiration in the middle of the night? Just like a "real" writer! I've had a bit of a crisis of motivation the last couple of days. "Eh, been there, done that" sort of thing, but I guess I'm too stubborn or block headed to let it beat me. No stupid self-imposed goal is going to get me down! No siree! I'm fighting every word of the way, even if it's trite and cliche ridden and... and stupid. My word count's caught up and I'm detecting, and I will triumph. *dances like Rocky at the top of the steps with music swelling* (oh, wait, that's Don playing the Wii) Nevermind. *ahem* It seems oddly backwards that I wrote the murder, I know who did it, and now I've ushered the detective onstage and he hasn't got a clue. I like him and I feel sorry for him that he's gotta grope around in the dark following red herrings and suspecting all the wrong people for the next few days. Poor Detective Inspector Joachim Rooibos. But next Saturday or maybe Friday, he'll find the last clue, put all the pieces together, and cart Manning off to the pokey, leaving a day or so for me to mop things up and tie all the loose ends into a pretty bow. Or not. But that's my plan so far.

Monday's daily total: 945 words
Running total: 40,754 words

--Barbara

A Break Through!

For about a week now I have really been struggling with this novel, I mean REALLY struggling. I have done everything to get my word counts up from doing a childhood flashback with my MC; introduction of a pet; to even bringing in a character WAAAAAYYYYY too early and then just letting him sit because I did not know what to do with him. All in the name of meeting my word quota....but as I said from the start...this is CRAP!

But this morning, at 4:00 am (yes, I can no longer sleep because of this looming deadline), it hit me! I think I found a way to tie up this novel and it's made things a little easier for me.

So, I got that going for me...which is nice!

Total Word Count: 41,719
Total Words Remaining: 8,281
Total Days Remaining: 5

Go Barbara Go!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Ack!



We had 2.7 inches of snow last night! Durwood thinks it makes the apple tree look like it's decorated for Christmas. I think it looks like slippery roads and wet pants legs at work.





After months of resisting, I succumbed to the lure of the Phoenix Tears Scarf. I got some Squiggles yarn at Loops & Links on Saturday and that was the final ingredient that made me cast on last night. I have been looking at novelty yarns ever since I got the book trying to find the perfect feather and fire looking yarns and I think I've got them. We shall see. (Besides, I had to have some blog-able knitting, didn't I?)






Oh, and here's Durwood with his Maple Pumpkin Cheesecake pie. All I can say is, YUM.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Pulling Teeth is Less Painful

Well so much for my get to Sunday's count before Sunday....I just got caught up now at 8:40 pm and I am exhausted. Only 6 more days of this ride. I am anxious to write about other things and I think it will be a while before I go back through my story and do some serious editing and researching. I am glad I jumped on this challenge, but it is HARD to balance everything!

Ok...enough whining.....Thank you Barbara for your words of wisdom and your creative offerings...your story is amazing!

Jenny - thank you for being such a great cheerleader to both Barbara and I. We could not have done it without you!

Total Word count: 38,418

Day 23--The Detective Finally Has Something To Detect

I have too much pre-murder story and not enough post-murder. I have left myself only a week for Detective Inspector Rooibos to sift through all the clues and red herrings and find out who killed Jack. We already know, of course, but we're not telling. I may actually get to "the end" by the 30th or I may not. Whichever way this turns out I'm glad I did it again. I think.

Daily total: 1,703 words
Running total: 39,809 words

Write on!
--Barbara

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Day 22--Rest In Peace, Jack, You S-O-B.

Jack, the man we love to hate, is back in the food chain and not at the apex either. This evening after supper I finally let Manning jerk Jack off the bluff into the merciless air and watched him fall, silent and flailing, onto the jagged rocks at the water's edge. He was then washed, unconscious, into the sea so that Sam and Maxi can find him in the morning a few dive sites up the shore after his having spent the night as fish food. Now, finally tomorrow Detective Inspector Rooibos can come onstage and begin his sharp-eyed detecting, sort through the red herrings and focus on the murderer before NaNoWriMo ends on November 30. Dun-dun-dun.

Daily total: 1,803 words
Running total: 38,106 words

--Barbara

It's been real, Jack...

Jack wakes up this morning in a cold sweat. He gets out of bed and sets the percolator to brewing, but when the coffee is ready, he finds he can't drink it. Today the caffeine only jangles his nerves more, and Jack paces the floor with the cup in his hands if only for the calming feeling of warmth. His stomach today isn't right; his shoulders are tight. Somehow Jack can't shake the awful feeling: today he will die.

Hey, Barbara, you've inspired fan fiction. Ha!

So I thought I found the perfect little magazine for my story about the husband who gives birth to the little man, and I sent it off to them all hopeful. They specialize in surrealism/magic realism, and I believe they like the twisted. Perfect match, right? Bah! I got a nice little personal rejection yesterday that said that they enjoyed the story and that it was well written blah-blah, but in the end they found it was just too similar to the Charles Bukowski story featuring a miniature man and a woman's no-no-naughty-place. Now I'm all for stealing fantastic ideas when I know I'm doing it (epileptic prophets and a certain spin-a-lator come to mind here...), but it comes as a blow to find that I've unknowingly stolen. This is why I should read more. Humph!

Keep writing you two crazy nanoers! Jennifer, how's the progress on the ahead-by-Sunday plan?

Jenny

Friday, November 21, 2008

Day 21--Getting Closer To The Edge

Didn't happen today, maybe tomorrow. Your days are numbered, Jack.

Line of the day:

The ancient limestone thrusts its jagged and tortured bones above the sea that swirls angrily at its base. The grinding waves shove broken pieces back and forth, polishing them into a semblance of smoothness. You can tell how long the pieces have been exposed. The dark just-revealed parts grasp the skin like Velcro, leaving hundreds of tiny cuts behind; the older pieces are smooth and bleached nearly white. Underwater when a Parrotfish takes a bite of coral for the juicy polyps it contains the scar left behind is white. But the cliffs that bare themselves to the pounding waves are nearly black. The dark color lends an air of menace to the already forbidding rocks that jut like rotten jagged teeth from the foaming salty saliva of the earth.


Okay, it's a little "artsy" but you need a bit of that with the drama if only for a breather.

Keep writing, Jennifer.

--Barbara


Enchante Avec Beret



(Translation: I like how the beret turned out.) I thought it was going slowly but it finished very quickly, I realize now, because I was afraid I would run out of the gray yarn so I knit faster to finish before I did run out. (Wha???? I don't know, but that's what it seemed like.)

I highly recommend this pattern. (It's the House
Beret from Charmed Knits.) It's very straightforward, no tricky maneuvers to increase or decrease, and the top ends up looking awesome. See?

Next I need to get the address from Chocolate Sheep so I can get these Connor Caps on their way to their new owners.


*whispering* This ends the part of my WIPs I can show you. The rest is stealth knitting. I promise to cast on something blog-able later so you're not bored.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Day 20--Not Many Customers

So I typed on my story, straight onto the computer, not on Alphie which I can't download at work. Things are heating up and the story is zooming along. I have to remember to put other people in besides Jack and Mona but it's hard because I'm so focused on their deteriorating relationship and Jack's mounting trouble with Manning. I'm looking forward to this weekend when I can kill Jack off and get to the detecting. Geronimo!

Line of the day: Jack had driven away from the villa early too. He had gotten up to the turn off at Boca Onima where Manning had showed him he could see the boat at the wreck site from shore and then his vehicle had stalled. That’s the last thing he remembered. He lay at the foot of the Willemstoren lighthouse steps, pieces of broken coral flung onshore by the last storm digging into his back. He wasn't at all sure how he got there and had no idea how he would get back to his villa.

Daily total: 2,196 words
Running total: 34,833 words

See you in a few hours, you guys. I'm pumped.
--Barbara

Day 19--The Plot Thickens

Manning has Jack's money and now Jack is looking for results. Things are moving faster and soon there'll be blood on the water. Ooh! This is when it gets to be fun. Fast and fun. I'm looking forward to the weekend when I predict big things happening.

Line of the day:
Once Jack got the hundred grand transferred into Manning’s bank account he started looking for results, hounding Manning for details, times, places. He wanted to have something, some recovered metal encrusted with barnacles, a piece of cannon shot, a tankard, something, anything that he could touch and feel the hundreds of years on it. Manning was shocked and a bit unsettled by Jack’s vehement insistence that he be kept informed of every single move that was made.

Daily total: 1,705 words
Running total: 32,639 words

See you tonight, submission in hand.
--Barbara

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Santa Came Early!


See? We played most of the afternoon. I did knit a few rows and I did write my word quota for the day but we Wii-ed. And we Wii-ed. I fully expected to get up this morning to find Durwood sacked out in the living room with a Wii controller dangling from his wrist.

Thanks, Santa! I musta been a really good girl this year. And it said in the paper this morning that Wii games are good for motor skills, strength, flexibility and balance. So it's a fitness tool. Not a toy.