Friday, February 29, 2008
Every one of them watched the same sunset. Every one alone. Mona and Sharon stood on patios less than one hundred yards apart, each woman holding a drink and staring at the fiery ball sinking behind the small low island smeared on the horizon, each one listening intently for a car to stop on the gravel out front. Maria sat on the top step of her small front porch watching the sunset colors tint the windows of the houses across the street, the soft sound of Emilia singing in the living room behind her covering the noise from the main road down the block. Bunny sat with his back against a tree in the front yard of his ramshackle house behind the big supermarket slapping at the occasional mosquito brave or foolish enough to fly through the cloud of herb smoke, listening to Bob Marley wail, and nodding his head at Brother Bob's words. Diego held down the end bar stool at the beach bar of the windsurf place on Lac Cai. He had been there all day, getting quieter and quieter as the day passed. He jerked upright as the setting sun slid into the gap between the thatched roof over his head and the line of stunted trees and tall cactus across the parking lot. The slanting rays pinned him like a spotlight making him look at himself reflected in the door of the cooler behind the bar. He drained his beer, slid a hundred guilder note under the empty bottle, picked up his nearly empty cigarette pack and lighter, and swiveled off the stool to walk to his rental truck. Jack sat in the mouth of the cave he had spent the day in. He had been sure that morning that he was in the perfect spot to catch Manning pulling a fast one salting the submerged wreck just off shore, but he had been wrong. He stood, stretched, and watched the bottom of the sun's disc touch the horizon. As it did there was a rustling behind him and suddenly a huge stream of bats flew out of the cave, swirling like smoke around him. Santiago sat on the deck of the Santa Marta, a cigarette in one hand and a Polar beer in the other. The rest of the Venezuelans who came over with produce to sell were either on the dock or the stinkpot diesel trawler Abierto his boat was rafted to. They were all laughing and calling out to the women walking down the waterfront to the restaurants further into town. Santiago was quiet and watchful. Manning stood among the raucous tourists celebrating sunset in the bar cantilevered out over the ocean at Sand Dollar resort, his eyes darting like lasers. He made it a habit to cruise the resort bars once a week to keep a lookout for his next pigeon and he thought he had found a live one to replace Jack Swallow who was getting all too suspicious and would have to be cut loose. This one was fat, pink, and balding wearing a sickly yellow aloha shirt printed with mutant flowers and worn unbuttoned enough to display the gold doubloon necklace that told Manning that the wearer imagined himself a pirate. He downed the rest of his beer and got ready to move in.
I like it. More writing this afternoon, less structured, more free. This earns a quiet yippee. Nothing too loud to scare away the tiny spark of creativity that Jenny's game lit.
Thursday, February 28, 2008
That's it for me today. I'll see you tonight.
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Maria was out of patience. She had spent the last ten days, since Diego arrived at the villa with his American girlfriend, keeping to the shadows, out of his way. But enough was enough. He had managed to not show up downtown when they were supposed to meet. She had then been determined to confront him at the villa, on his own turf, but she had gotten to know Sharon, seen how the woman had tried so hard to be liked by Diego's mama and sisters. Maria had a hard time staying angry enough at Diego to make a scene and hurt Sharon. Today, though, she was determined to move forward. She brought Emilia to the villa with her, all dressed so cute and with instructions to be on her best behavior. Sharon had been enchanted with the pretty toddler. Diego had not said a word. After only one cup of coffee he had left the villa nearly at a run and hadn't been back since. Maria was at a loss for her next move. All she wanted was for Diego to acknowledge his daughter--and maybe send a little check once in a while.
What's next? Ya got me. See you Thursday.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Maria pronounces apricot like this: ape-ricot. Maria also pronounces her name Mar-ya, though I can’t get her to say if her mother also pronounced it that way. She’s from Detroit, so really I doubt it. Maria is very fond of saying things like, “I am so very fickle of ape-ricot jam.” Maria has been entirely misled about what the word fickle means, though – for what it’s worth – she truly does like apricot jam.
Barbara, the Zippo brings me back to the shell in the pocket. It's a nice circular device. And Bob, has more come of your frightened narrator?
Look! Two socks! One for each foot! Matching!
It's taking all my resolve not to immediately cast on another pair but I want to finish the practice 2 Circs Sox first so then I can do two at a time without using the wrong needle and ending up with three sock sides on the same needle like I did last night. Oops. I can tell you right now these are not going to be blue-ribbon socks because I'm not frogging back to the boo-boo in the ribbing, when I get an extra stitch because the working yarn looped over a needle I just knit two together, and I tinked back the row off the wrong needles and knit it on the correct one. These will be "under jeans" socks but that's okay, I'm learning. Now that I've pretty much got how the needles go down pat, I can concentrate on keeping the yarn and balls from dangling in the wrong place and goofing me up or tangling quite so much.
I'm going to Patti's sometime today to get yarn for some gifts I'm going to need in a couple months and, oh this is exciting, I need to get a skein of Galway in black tweed because I've got a commission to knit another pair of Dashing for a friend's husband. I take that as a compliment.
So now I've got my red Licorice, "Keep From Smoking" Swing Jacket on the needles, the 2 Circs Sox legs growing, I'll cast on Dashing tomorrow at work, I want to start the 2 gifts (1 knit, 1 crochet) today, and I'll probably weaken and cast on another pair of socks before bedtime. I'm with you, Ann, I want to knit it all--and right now.
Diego walked out of the sea and sat on the beach staring at the calm bay crisscrossed by the primary colored windsurfers. The stiff tradewinds that filled their transparent sails dried the salt water on his dark skin and blew grains of sand that stuck to him and pelted his eyes. He shook his fingers dry and carefully extracted a cigarette from the pack folded in his t-shirt, then turned his back to the wind to light it. The clink and snick followed by the stink of the lighter fluid that rose from the Zippo in his hand took him back to his days as a young boy lying in bed with his three brothers listening to his daddy and uncles talk and laugh and smoke deep into the night. Sharon wanted him to quit smoking "for his health." How could he make her understand that some days the cool metal lighter in his picket was all that connected him to himself?
Well, that's not so bad. I feel like the separate parts of the story are gathering closer to each other and might actually be getting to some sort of climax. I don't know, only time will tell. See you Thursday.
Monday, February 25, 2008
I did knit to the toe decreases on the Wool Ease sock yesterday, just like I promised.
But I also knit on the Matinee Swing Jacket (it's twice as long as it was. I couldn't resist it; it's variegated)--and I did a row or two on the 2 Circs Sox when I changed the "Slinky" needle for a better behaved one.
Don't hate me because I'm weak. *sniff* I promise I'll only take the sock to work today (cross my heart) and I'll forgo excess web surfing to finish the toe so I can concentrate on the other projects--with warm feet. And not have too many things going at once. I promise.
Jack sat in the shade of the ruin of the plantation house up on the hill overlooking the dive site called Karpata. Since early morning he had sat there watching the trickle of diving tourists gear up and enter the water in pairs. He had thought when driving up from the villa in the pale dawn light that he would conceal his pickup somehow but nearly every dive site he passed had at least one pickup parked there, windows open and no one in sight. On an island this full of tourists, he realized, it was hard to tell why someone was parked where they were. And the number of divers on the island and their habit of independence meant no dive site was empty for long. Sooner or later someone was bound to drive up and park, ready to dive. Jack figured that very randomness was his ace in the hole for staying alive.
Okay, it's not totally incoherent, but even as short as it is, I think it sounds unfocused. Anybody out there?
Sunday, February 24, 2008
I decided (only in my head, I didn't say it out loud) yesterday morning that I wasn't going to cast on another project until I had the second Wool Ease sock finished. I'm only 30 rows from starting the toe decrease so I'm in good shape to finish it soon, see?
Even though I went to Jo-Ann's and bought some Lion Wool in the Autumn Sunset colorway for the next pair and got 7 skeins of Sensations Licorice in the red variegated colorway to do something I don't know what but something with because I fell instantly in love with it's wooly beauty. I managed to resist the lure (even after I had decided I'd make a Matinee Swing Jacket with the red Licorice, even after I dug out another pattern using similarly bulky yarn so I could figure out needle size and gauge AND had to order 10 more skeins online because I bought out the store)--until about 10:30 when I was all alone with Harry Potter on cd playing in my ear.
I'm weak, I can't resist variegated yarn, I caved. I'm on row 9 of the first sleeve, er, swatch. (I'm following the Yarn Harlot's example.)
But I have finished the cuffs of the 2-socks-at-once, and I promise *holds up hand without fingers crossed* to finish the Wool Ease sock before I knit another 7 rows on the Jacket or start on the leg of the 2 circs socks. If I focus I should have the Wool Ease sock done tomorrow so I can wear it on Wed. to keep my feet warm at work and continue working on the 2 circs socks and Matinee Swing Jacket with a clear conscience.
Oh, I finished DH's Batty Dishcloth the other day too. So I am a Woman of Accomplishment--in addition to wallowing in a bad case of Startitis. The queue grows longer...
Santiago moved with speed and grace from his boat, the Santa Marta, moored as close to shore as was safe. He slid over the gunwale into the water, his feet in their gray canvas shoes barely making a splash. He eased away from the boat sliding his feet along so he wouldn't churn up the water and leave a telltale line of white behind him. He carried an old burlap sack that had begun its life full of coffee beans destined for the lucrative American market had been reduced to carrying ganja for a while along the Jamaican coast. Now it held a few ballast stones and a clump of what might be Spanish silver pieces of eight welded together by a couple centuries immersion in the sea. He tucked the bag into a corner of the fourth slave hut from the south end of the row. It would look enough like run-of-the-mill trash that the casual observer wouldn't notice it and it should be safe until Manning retrieved it to prove to Mr. Moneybags, Jack Swallow, that he, Santiago, really had found something valuable. The sun was just tinting the eastern horizon with the thinnest pale gold line as Santiago re-boarded the Santa Marta and resumed his journey to the Town Pier with his official cargo of pineapples and potted palm plants for the weekly market.
Keep your fingers crossed that Ann gets the acquisitions editor job at Northern Illinois. She had an in-person interview Friday and said it went well. I'd love it if she lived closer.
Saturday, February 23, 2008
Manning cursed as he looked at his hurting foot. A thorn from one of the cacti nestled in the rock had pierced the side of his shoe and worked its way into the soft flesh of his arch. He carefully scrutinized the next boulder he came to before sitting down. It took a moment for him to work up the nerve to begin gingerly working the devilishly sharp clump of thorn out. His breath hissed between his teeth and his blood flowed fresh and red to splash on the rocks where it immediately was absorbed. Manning tore a strip from his khaki shirt to stanch the blood and act as a temporary bandage. Blistering the hot, still air with curses, he retied his shoe and, limping only a little, resumed his climb.
I do like the single-mindedness of Manning's pursuit of Jack and Jack's money. Maybe that slight pleasure will lure me back to my desk. I can only hope. Yay for 3 sunny days in a row!
Friday, February 22, 2008
Thursday, February 21, 2008
Mona walked slowly between the craft market booths set up on the town square across the street from the Town Pier. Whenever a cruise ship was docked, the little band of artists and entrepreneurs set up their tables and laid out their wares. Mona wasn't a cruise ship passenger, never had been able to face the prospect of being trapped in what amounted to a floating hotel with a couple thousand strangers for a week, steaming from island to island striking each a glancing blow. Spending just enough time on each one for a hot cab ride to see the highlights and take a quick tour through the upscale shops that line the ports. The whole cruise idea seemed so artificial to her. She had endured dinner conversations with avid cruisers who insisted they were familiar with nearly every Caribbean island. Judging by the majority of the people around her and the things she overheard, the packaged view of an island they was just that--packaged. The real life of the island went on around the Disney-esque sanitized experience that was trotted out before the ship docked and carefully folded away until the next ship was due. Even worse, Mona bet that ninety percent of what was for sale around her was made in Taiwan. Pathetic. And where was Jack? He was supposed to meet her at City Cafe for lunch.
See you tonight. Got your exercise ready? I got mine.
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
For a minute or more, Karen had been standing, looking out the window with a view of the parking lot. I know this because I'd been watching her, and wondering what she found so fascinating."Come here once," was all she said. "Take a look at this."
I hate that phrase, 'come her once'. To me, it always sounds shabby and ridiculous. "What is it?" I ask.
Karen pointed, turning her hand in the air as she said, "Can you believe that?"
On the far end of the parking lot was a truck with a flatbed on the back. The truck's operator was winching a silver Acura up onto the tilted bed. He stood with his hands on levers that control the progress of the winch. A man in a black suit walked at a brisk pace toward the truck.
"That's Bertinet, isn't it?" Karen says.
"I'd say. That's his car they're taking."
"I sure wouldn't want to be him right now."
I looked at her, savoring the moment. "Karen, you wouldn't ever want to be him."
She blinked her owl-eyes and gave me a quick, hysterical giggle. Then she went back to her desk .
Is it loopy enough? It sure feels that way to me.
Like a finger pointing the way, the red obelisk stands sentinel over a deserted stretch of shoreline. No longer is it used by mariners as an aid to navigating in to pick up cargo. Now it stands as an oddity, a curiosity poked and examined by sunburnt tourists who lean against it, or embrace it with a lascivious look on their foolish faces, or pose beside it looking stiff and uncomfortable to have their picture taken. How many albums hold photos of the red obelisk? How many people remember the story of the hardships it represents?
Rather pathetic, I think, but slightly better than no writing at all. Yesterday was sign up day for the 2008 Clearing classes. That and these sunny days are real spirit lifters.
Silent flyers swoop out of the night to glide through the swarms of delectable bugs that congregate around the security light. Times have changed on the island. Where once you could have left the door unlocked and trusted that a light-sleeping dog would keep your house safe, now every door has a couple locks, more and more windows sport bars screwed right into the frame, and lights turn on at dusk drawing moths and other tasty treats for the island's bats. The security lights turn off at dawn just as the furry flyers are gliding back to their crowded comfy roost in the caves on the wild windward coast.
I have hopes that our evening of doing writing exercises on Thursday will spark a little motivation. Fingers crossed.
I knew I'd never have the patience to finish all my projects before I plunged into learning how to knit two socks at once on two circular needles. I mean, I did buy that on-sale JoAnn's yarn the other day and I got an extra size 6 circ. I even boiled some water and straightened out a bit of the curl in the new needle so it's not so much like knitting with a Slinky! It's not so difficult once you think about it; it's very logical. Look--two rounds! I only frogged it once. Now I just have to learn to make the stitches a little tighter so there's not such a big gap, then I'll be all set.
I also cast on, knit the cuff, and started on the leg of the second Wool Ease sock. It's brown, cocoa brown, and dark green--dull, boring colors to knit in winter. But it's cold and snowy and I need warm feet, especially at work. And the sun came out yesterday, for the first time in over a week. I can knit any color; it's sunny!
And for my dearest Valentine of a husband, I'm knitting a dark brown dishcloth with a bat on it. He feeds the cactus-fruit-eating fruit bats in Bonaire and wanted some sort of bat souvenir but there weren't any. So I'm making him one. Shhh. It's a secret.
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Now that it has stopped snowing (for a day or two) I can take a break from shoveling and post my knitting from last week. I have to say I'm crazy about knitting in the round, on circulars or on DPNs; I love it. So I found a hat pattern in last fall's Knit Simple magazine for an earflap hat with a sassy tassle on top. Loved it. I looked and looked at Patti's Yarn Shop for big fat yarn to make it out of. I liked the look and feel of Lamb's Pride Bulky which was still too thin but Patti suggested I use two strands together. Duh. Bought a skein of red (of course) and one of charcoal. Sat down after supper that night, fired up the size 15 circs and knocked it out. It was so toasty warm it called out for matching mittens. Naturally I had bought the last skein of charcoal so I thought I'd make charcoal cuffs and a red hand. Great idea, right? Except I tried a new pattern from the same magazine and it was too small, which I only realized after I had closed the top and cut the yarn. Drat. Frogged that. Then I thought I'd just use the Quick & Easy Holiday Mitten pattern I got at Links & Loops holding two strands, charcoal and red for the cuff and all red for the hand. It kind of worked out but I had more charcoal than cuff on mitten one, so I had to make mitten two match. Close up it looks a little odd; far away it looks pretty good. I'm happy and my fingers are warm; that's the point, right?
Just so you'll have an idea of how much snow we got Sunday and Monday, here's a picture looking down the street. Notice the row of icicles on the gutter? The second picture is to show you how deep the drift just at the steps is. Thank heavens for snowblowers; without my big red Yard Machine we'd be hip-deep in the white stuff.
Monday, February 18, 2008
On the way to work and on the way back, I pass one of those old-folks homes. Oh, I know it's bad form to call them that. They are assisted living facilities. That's the proper name. It sits at the intersection of a busy street, a white, L-shaped building with columns on the front. The grounds are immaculate as a Marine's haircut. A sign in front identifies it as Sheltering Pines. It sounds very peaceful there. Every few weeks or so there's a truck there, moving someone in or moving them out. Like today, there's a white truck backed up to a side entrance with its back doors open, a shiny metal ramp slanting to the ground. No movers in sight.
The guy in the car behind me sounds a get-moving beep. The car in the inner lane is already moving, having pulled ahead by half a length. I step on the gas and squeal the tires a bit, just for show. Everybody's in a hurry.
So there you have it. The beginning of yet another story. What I need, now, are some endings. Drive carefully, Barbara.
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
It was fairly quiet at work yesterday and after supper, and I finished the last (for the moment) pair of Forbidden Love Wrist Warmers. Yay! They will go into a take-out box and into a ricocheting Mickey Mouse box to be sent to a writing friend who just fixed up her first dedicated writing room. A girl needs her own space. I do love that pattern and the yarn is a dream to work with, not splitty or sticky, just right.
I also took some close-ups of the cotton vacation socks so you can see how interesting the striping is. I love that the old color comes back in little spurts for a while and the new color foreshadows itself. It needs a little more nylon or elastic or something because it's pretty saggy, but I wore the socks on the way home from Bonaire last Friday and they were comfy for all that walking, which is a very good thing and must be the acid test for handmade socks. Good job, me.
They don't look natural, like real birds, when they fly. They look like cartoons, their elongated necks in the lead and their spindly legs trailing behind. Even the sparse lump of the body spreads out making barely a hump, only the wings slowly flapping changes the vision of them from alien being to something quite possibly earthly and natural. The vivid pink of their feathers is lost in the deepening orange of the sunset, their silhouettes slice across the sky and their raucous honks sound too much like Canada geese to be believed. Mona lay on the chaise longue on the patio facing the sunset, her empty glass barely held by her fingertips above the tiles as she watched the skein of flamingos trail across the sky on the way to their roost in Venezuela, sixty miles across the sea.
See? I can still write. Amazing. See you Thursday.
Monday, February 11, 2008
I was feeling very accomplished and smug and speedy yesterday. (That's always a bad thing.) I had pulled out the second mitt of the Forbidden Love Fingerless Mitt, v. 5, and started knitting (on row 6) while watching CBS Sunday Morning. There were two pages with the pattern on them in the bag (it's a one-pager); they looked the same; I chose one and started knitting. I continued knitting while talking with DD on the phone (for as long as we wanted) and throughout the day. 'Long about 5 PM I looked at the row counter (48) and looked at Mitt #1. Hmm, they looked about the same length and I was just getting to the "bind off 4 sts for the thumbhole" part on Mitt #2. That's when I tried on Mitt #1 and held up Mitt #2 next to it. Same length. Drat. Rechecked the pattern. Turns out the one I didn't choose has many fewer rows between decreases and before the thumbhole part. Dang it. I stuck a needle in the fabric where I needed to frog back to and started ripping out, cursing my carelessness. I got down to the place to pick up stitches and realized that I couldn't do it because of the extreme fuzziness of the yarn. That meant I had to frog the whole of Mitt #2 and begin again. Of course, I had woven in the beginning tail because it kept getting tangled in the working yarn. I couldn't find it to unpick it; I had to cut it off. That meant that Mitt #2 isn't starting at the same color point as Mitt #1. Not that it matters, but I was feeling pretty smug that they were going to pretty much match (see above).
This is what happens when you get cocky--you end up sinking one day's knitting (42 rounds!) in the frog pond. Beware!
Saturday, February 9, 2008
Friday, February 8, 2008
Tuesday, February 5, 2008
I'd give you a few days off this week if it was up to me; six in a row is just too much.
See you on the 14th.
Monday, February 4, 2008
If you ask me, Barbara, knitting counts. It absolutely counts. Knitting underwater, especially. The novelty factor. Sometimes the words are there, and sometimes they have moved very far away and left no forwarding address. But I envy you in a way. At least you have the time to not write. As of tomorrow, I will be working six days straight. There are so many stories spinning in my head right now, and no time to write them (unless I get up at 5:00 am). My next full free day will be Friday. Oh, and a sunny day would be so nice.
I discovered the other day that sock gussets are boring, even more boring than long cuffs or the foot. And I definitely need Kitchener stitch practice. But I managed to finish the first of the Wool-Ease socks, modeled by DH's shapely foot. Thanks, Dear.
I'm not sure what the Feb. Dishcloth KAL is making but I'm loving the colors.
Saturday, February 2, 2008
WHAT: A Bloggers (Silent) Poetry Reading
WHEN: Anytime February 2, 2008
WHERE: Your blog
WHY: To celebrate the Feast of Brigid, aka Groundhog Day
HOW: Select a poem you like - by a favorite poet or one of your own - to post February 2nd.
RSVP: If you plan to publish, feel free to leave a comment and link on this post. So, link to whoever you hear about this from and a mighty web of poetry will be spun.
Feel free to pass this invitation on to any and all bloggers.
on the night of the
new moon in april,
i ready myself for
while the earth
i search the winter-clogged
corners and open myself
to the zephyrs
of the season.
Pettiness is swept away first,
flinging them to the wind
lightens my heart.
old Grudges and
Disappointments are escorted
to the edge of the property
kindling a fire with
Arrogance and Pride,
i dance around it with
Envy and Jealousy until
they reel dizzily
into the flames.
Selfishness nips at my heels
until i bundle it into an
old sheet and
put it out
with the trash.
Sympathy and Charity
are gently bathed and
nestled in soft flannel.
and Healing are rubbed
with scented oils to keep them
supple and lithe.
my soul dances lightly through its
clean house ready to
face a new year,
smiling and singing softly.
Friday, February 1, 2008
Haven't written a word in days. Been knitting, though. I knit underwater today. See? At least I'm doing something creative, right? Right???
Jenny, Bob told me that your screen went on the blink right after you got it back. How frustrating! And of course the warranty had expired. That's how that stuff works.
You staying warm, Bob? Wear a hat when you're wandering around downtown.
With some careful pre-planning I managed to combine two things I love to do: scuba diving and knitting. It's a little hard to see but I have my five-inch Bryspun DPNs and the remains of a ball of dishcloth cotton. I'm not saying I'll make a habit of it but it was fun to do for a minute.