Monday, January 31, 2011

Sore


Snowshoeing yesterday was grand but I started to stiffen up in the lower back last night and today I'm feeling pretty darned old and creaky. We had a great time, the weather was perfect and there were a lot of people out there enjoying the sunny winter day, including DS and his lovely bride. We were waiting for the last one of our party to arrive when they tromped out of the trail. I was thinking of calling them to invite them along but didn't, and it's probably a good thing. They went the whole 1.9 miles; we took a shortcut and only did 1.25 miles. Think how stiff I'd be if we'd gone all the way! But I'll be eager to go again. It was fun. Today it's supposed to snow all day. Ah, Wisconsin in the winter! What's not to love?

January 30--German Settee. Licia loved the little gold couch in Great-aunt Chloe's dressing room. She loved that it looked like it was made of gold instead of wood and that it was carved to look like flowers and leaves. The seat was covered in soft green velvet like the best lawn, cushy and soft to sit on. It wasn't really a place where a person could curl up with a book and read. There were no arms to lean on and the back wasn't soft. Great-aunt Chloe said that when it was made ladies were expected to sit up straight, that even today a real lady did not recline unless she was retiring for the night. Great-aunt Chloe said that lax posture was a sign of lax morals. Licia wasn't sure she understood that, but she could tell it wasn't good to slouch.

Great-aunt Chloe is tres formidable, I can tell. A grande dame of the first water. I like her and I like little Licia. Maybe they'll show up again someday. In the meantime, I need to shower, dress, and go off to work to get my giant, economy-sized paycheck from working all those extra hours last week. Hooray!
--Barbara

Sunday, January 30, 2011

It's Sunday! It's Snowshoeing Day!

Can you tell I'm excited? It's a gorgeous day, the sun's shining and the snow's sparkling. It's going to be cold but that's okay, it's winter, silly. Zoe said there'll be hot chocolate too for a fifty-cent donation. I'm taking a dollar, just to be on the safe side. And I won't forget my camera. I've reminded myself once today already and Durwood's all cocked and primed to remind me before I go. He's a prince. I'm so glad I married him, that's one of the smartest things I ever did. We turned off the TVs and play a little cribbage last night. He won the first two games but I reclaimed a little dignity and won the last one. It was fun and we talked. I read an online article a few weeks ago about a woman who disconnected herself and her teenagers from all electronics for 6 months. I don't think I want to go that far but it is making me rethink being hooked up all the time. I'm addicted to putting borrowed library books on CD onto my Walkman to listen to while I drive and knit. In fact, I'm charging the player up right now. I find myself planning what I wear to work so that I have a pocket to slip my little friend into at the dive shop. Thank god for Eddie Bauer's old style sweatshirt sweaters; they have a single breast pocket. Of course, they're cotton so they're not as warm as a wool sweater would be so I wear layers of undershirts and usually take a pashmina as a scarf/shawl if I get cold. Plus they're pretty and shiny and soft. With fringe. What's not to love?

January 29--German, Settee. "Well, it doesn't look very comfortable," Viv said. "I mean, look at those carved...what are they? flowers?...on the back." She held up her bidder's paddle with the number turned away from the auctioneers to hide her lips. "Why do you want it?" Marcy frowned at her. "Didn't you hear what they said? There's one just like it in the Metropolitan Museum of Art." Viv snorted. "Oh, don't believe that stuff. It's just a come-on to jack up the bids. No one wants a sofa you can't sit on. I don't, at least." Marcy squinted at the settee. She liked all the carving and the fancy legs. She liked the gold gilt that covered every inch that wasn't upholstered. She didn't have cats or kids to ruin a special piece of furniture. Her fingers fretted the handle of the paddle. She thought she remembered someone saying something about deciding how much you were willing to spend before you got caught up in bidding. Eight hundred, she thought, or maybe a grand. It was starting. Maybe she'd just wing it. How much trouble could she get in?

Not where I thought I was going at all. At all. Fun though. Can't you just see them, all well-dressed and brittle looking? Auctions are fun. Maybe I'll find one to go to this summer. A country one would be fun. Looking at farm implements along with the household stuff. I should probably start getting dressed to go out into the forest primeval. Bye!
--Barbara

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Toto--and a Hole

Yesterday afternoon at work I finished Toto the Oven Mitt. I have to say I do like applied I-cord bind off; it makes the edge look so nice and substantial. And I had to learn 3-needle bind off to join the two halves of the mitt. (Even though the pattern calls for making the mitt on 2 circular needles I ended up making it on Double Points because I'm just better with them.) Toto is a short little thing as you can see in the "puppet" picture. I suppose a person could make it longer to cover more of your hand but I kind of like it this way. (The last line of the pattern even tells you to use it as a puppet "to get it out of your system.") Now I just have to see how it works!











I pulled out the Twister Wrister at work today and was just about to get started
when I noticed that I did something wrong a few rows back and there's a hole in it. Now I've got to sit in a bright light with my heart in my throat, drop the offending stitch or stitches down to the hole, and knit them painstakingly back up using a crochet hook. Bugger. I need to figure out how I manage to do that and STOP.




Not wanting to keep working on the wrister when I was just going to have to tear it apart I pulled the sad little bag with the Sudoku Afghan squares in it and worked on that. I'll be glad when I get the "stone" ones done. That is one dull color.

Time To Shovel

We got a couple inches of snow last night (of course, I wore clogs to knitting so my socks got all snowy but 3 young people were brushing the snow off all the cars when we left which was very nice) so I've got to clear off the driveway before I go to work today. Think anyone will come in today? Maybe somebody going on a trip, but I'll probably get to watch a video and knit. Sometimes I feel like I'm stealing when I sit there all day doing what I want but then I think that they have to have someone there just in case a customer comes and it might as well be me.


January 28--Augustus Saint-Gaudens, Victory
. Vicki felt like there should have been more fanfare as she crossed the finish line. There were still people cheering, a few anyway, but most of them were race workers who were packing things away. They paused in their work to applaud as she stumbled across the finish line and one of them came over with a lukewarm bottle of water that he handed to her saying, "sorry it isn't colder." She nodded, not able to catch her breath to speak. She stood bent, her hands on her knees, and took in great lungsful of air. She was proud of herself for making it through the marathon but knew she had been the slowest. It had taken her two years to lose eighty pounds and train for the race. She had felt like a winner when she signed up but being last felt like failure somehow. She knew that in the morning when the bleak sight of the departing race staff had faded a bit she'd get a little perspective and feel better but right then it was hard. She lifted the water and drank deeply. As she lowered the bottle she heard footsteps behind her on the course. She turned to see a middle-aged man, red in the face and gasping, coming toward her. She started to clap and cheer. His head came up and his shoulders straightened. He ran across the finish line and stopped next to her. She picked up a bottle of water left by the departed staff and handed it to him. "Congratulations on finishing," she said, "I'm Vicki." "Neal," he said and clicked his water bottle against hers.

I was excited when that flowed out onto the pages last night. It was nearly effortless, a nice change from the usual tugging, pulling, and forcing I do to get words to come out. Time to shovel!
--Barbara

Friday, January 28, 2011

Forgot My Notebook

so I didn't have the chance to post until just now. I left work at 5, came home, ate real quick, and then went to Friday Night Knitting Circle. I know you were worried all day that something had happened to me but I was just busy. Dusty and I went walking this morning on the trail that winds through the factories by her house and Baird's Creek. There had to be 30 mallards on the open part of the creek and we stood on a bridge watching them slide down a little rapids. I wish I had taken the camera. Then we went back over behind Riverside Ballroom to see if we could find the log for the geocache we found a couple weeks ago. I slid down the bank and landed on my keester right next to the tree so while I was down there I shoved my arm into the big hole at the base of the tree to see if it was in there somewhere. It wasn't, but I was waiting to touch something furry, I can tell you. When I got to work I checked on the site to find that the container with the log in it keeps disappearing. That means we found our first cache! Woohoo! We can't wait until the weather warms up and we can go find more. And Dusty has a metal detector so we're going to do that this summer too. We're determined not to sit on our butts and rot until we absolutely have to.

January 27--Paul Gauguin, Ia Orana Maria. The path was smooth under her feet. She was grateful because it had been a long time since she had walked outside barefoot. Being released from her restrictive Western clothing felt good too. She felt like she could draw a full breath. Her work was better too, she was sure of it. The brush fitted her grip and the paint went where she wanted it to--and stayed there. She combed out her hair and braided it to hang down her back. As the days and weeks passed she felt the constraints of civilization melt away and the lassitude of the islands take its place.

I would like to go someplace where I could take off my regular life for a few weeks. Sleep well.
--Barbara

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Yarn Snacks

You know how sometimes you've had a nice, healthy meal but you can't stop grazing? You eat toast, and then a handful of carrots, followed by fruit, but it's not right. Next you try a few rice cakes, especially the caramel ones, an M&M or two...or a hundred. Then comes pudding, sugar free of course with a few chocolate chips to enhance the chocolatey-ness and a dollop of super chunky peanut butter stirred in because everyone knows that chocolate and peanut butter are made for each other, except for Durwood who thinks that pb is yukky. (I know, I know, I probably shouldn't have married him if I'd known that then, but he's got the most gorgeous blue eyes and his voice is like warm honey. You'd have married him too, I'm telling you.) Last night was like that in the yarn sense. I could have worked on the Toes Up X2 socks...




or the first Twister Wrister...








There's a narrow scarf OTN or the Winter Sock, but did I work on either of those? Of course not.


I cast on a Toto Oven Mitt from the second Mason-Dixon Knitting book and wo
rked on it at work today. I'm liking the 1970s colors of green, brown and blue as kind of an homage to my remaining avocado appliances and kitchen sink. I'm using DPNs instead of 2 circs. DPNs feel much better in my hands than circs. I'll finish it tomorrow and then go back to working on the old stuff. It's a good pattern for a yarn snack.

No Longer Lost

We're planning a summer trip out West because I want to see Yellowstone and the Badlands so we ordered a GPS and it came yesterday. It's a TomTom and I'm having fun playing with it. Right now I'm on hold getting some help registering it but I put in the address of a nearby geocache last night and then Durwood and I went on an errand. I turned on the TomTom and it spent the whole drive trying desperately to get us to turn left (turn left!!!!!) to get to the coordinates. Guess I have to read more of the manual to get it to just let me drive. I'll probably get into an accident looking at the screen instead of out the windshield on my way to work today. It'll be good for geocaching too. I feel all grownup and techy.

January 26--Henry Greenway, Double Chromatic Harp. Rose stood in the dimness of the study staring at the harp. It was a double harp made of figured wood and gilt. It was beautiful and she hated it. Hated the way its weight bruised her shoulder. Hated the way its notes burrowed under her skin when she played it. Grandpapa had bought it for her and insisted she learn to play. "My angel," he said, his shaky hand touching her cheek, "my angel should play the harp." So she had. Nurse would install him in the wing chair by the fire with a woolen blanket over his legs when Miss Violetta came for their weekly lesson. Rose had very little talent but she persisted and eventually was able to play a piece or two. She felt as if the notes wrapped around her binding her to the harp. The harp itself she saw as an anchor weighing her down, drowning her in an ocean of duty.

Amazing what the promise of money will make people do, isn't it? Kind of sad too. It's time to go eat cheerios with blueberries, take a shower and zoom off to keep the world safe from scuba diving. Goof off some today, okay? I intend to, probably around 2 PM when an afternoon nap tries to ambush me.
--Barbara

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Howyadointaday?

I'm doing well, except it's been a bad week for fake nails. Day before yesterday I chipped or broke 4 of the buggers. I have no idea what I was doing but there were these tiny cracks throughout the day and pieces of them drifted away. I called the paramedics, first they tried the paddles and then removing all restrictive clothing (and ALL clothing is restrictive) but they weren't able to save them. Since I'm off today I'll have to get a rescue manicure and start again. *sigh* Beauty like this takes constant work.

January 25--Tibet, Portrait of Jnanatapa Surrounded by Lamas and Mahasiddhas. The faded colors of the hanging made Joan thing that it wasn't worth looking at but that was before she made eye contact with the figure in the center. Now, I know it sounds wrong to say that there was eye contact when she was the only live creature in the gallery, but there was. When Joan's eyes met the slightly cross-eyed gaze of the Tibetan guy in the painting, she felt her breathing slow and her heart rate settle into a lower rhythm, like she had taken a Valium. It was weird. There was this weird tinny music playing in the room that she thought sounded like monkeys playing flutes but it soothed her too. "Well, that's just stupid," she said aloud to no one. She turned to enter the next room but her footsteps slowed and she found herself sitting on the bench in front of the hanging, letting the faded blues, reds, and golds of the painting seep into her pores as she studied the graceful poses of the figures around the edges of the work.

It's funny, at first the Jnanatapa looked goofy but the longer I gazed at it, the harder it was to tear my eyes away. He looks friendly and a little mischievous, like he'd be funny and interesting to take a walk with. Enjoy your Wednesday.
--Barbara

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

It Feels Odd...

to be working today. My schedule is so unchanging most of the time, rigid you might even say, that when it deviates I get a little off balance (not that unbalanced isn't my normal condition). Tomorrow the store will be closed, and then I'll be working Thursday through Saturday. Think of my paycheck! It'll be massive! Well, relatively. That means I can put more moolah in my stash(es). What? You don't have more than one? I've told you before that I have levels of stash or mad money. There's the "this is what's left over from last week's pay" mad money; that's the quickest spent for incidentals like birdseed, manicures, yarn and books. Then there's the regular stash; Durwood and I each have one that we put $50 into each pay period for things like vacations, The Clearing, trips to visit DD, and (sometimes, on very rare occasions) major purchases. We've done it for years. The regular stash money is what we can spend, without consulting anyone, on any harebrained scheme or purchase. I also have a deep stash where I put most of any money I make over and above my regular weekly pay, like last week I worked an extra day so that goes into deep stash. I've always been terrible with money, spending more than I make or have, so I'm trying to learn to keep some of it for emergencies, even if I think of an emergency as the need to meet Lala in Sheboygan for a weekend instead of having to fix a car, but I'd use it for that if I had to. Really, I would. It feels good to finally get a bit of a handle on money, even if I still can't see far into the future. It suddenly occurred to me that I'm more of a grasshopper than an ant. Good thing I married an ant.

January 24--Vincent van Gogh, Wheat Field with Cypresses. The wind blew the wheat and made it look like the ocean ripples. Clouds in white and shades of gray tumbled over each other against the blue sky and the green spears of cypress danced on the wind. Cecile loved the mix of cool and hot that ran in the air like streams of water. She wished that she could see the currents of the wind the way she watched the river flow through Lucien's field down the valley. The wind carried the sharp tang of the cypress trees planted as a wind break and the toasted bread smell of the ripe wheat.

It was hard to write because I was so enthralled with looking at the painting. I could smell the hot summer wind with its scents of pine and earth that bowled down the wheat field and feel the sun scorching the dusty path. It was lovely to imagine on a cold winter's night.
--Barbara

Monday, January 24, 2011

Endless

I finished my Cashmere & Wool Wrap last night. I knew it would be close since the two kinds of yarn didn't have the same number of yards per skein but I never realized I'd be skating this close to the edge. I ran out of the black cashmere blend 3 sts from the end of the bind off. Meh. I had 18" of the Ara left.



It's very warm and colorful but it's kind of odd. So I guess it fits me, both physically and temperamentally.

Cloudy and Warmer

It drives me nuts (like most things I can't change) that it's warmer in the winter when it's cloudy and colder when it's sunny. Today it's gray and dreary, supposed to be all day, and the temps are supposed to zoom up over 20. All weekend it barely got into single digits even though the sun shone like crazy both days. Illogical.

January 23--Turkey, Ottoman Period, Dish. Carol stood on the step stool, a descendant of the one she remembered as a child, pulling stacks of dishes out of the top cupboards of her mom's kitchen. Her sister Joann stood at the sink washing the dishes and stacking them in the drainer. "You always had the knack of fitting so many more dishes in there," Carol said. "Mom said you took after Aunt Cele but I think you're better than she ever was." Joann smiled, her hands sunk in suds nearly to her elbows. "I used to love to sit at the table in Grandma's kitchen when Mama and the aunts did the dishes." She lifted a handful of silverware out of the water and rinsed it. "Pretty soon they'd forget I was there and then the gossip would flow hot and heavy. I learned a lot I wasn't supposed to hear." Carol wrung out her rag and wiped the shelves. "I was doing the same thing outside. Dad, Grandpa, and the uncles would be talking crops and markets, and pretty soon they'd be talking about the neighbors. Very illuminating." They laughed. Joann picked up a brightly patterned dish and showed it to Carol. "Remember how we used to fight over who got this plate?" "Yeah," said Carol, "I never really cared. I just did it for the fun of arguing and to make you mad." Joann flicked suds at her. "Oh, very nice. Half the time I ended up crying and Dad had to eat off this ugly thing." "You want it? You should have it," Carol said. "I'll take the long spoon." She pointed at a worn silver teaspoon with an elongated bowl in the drainer. "The long spoon? Oh, no you won't." Suddenly it was as if they were eight and nine again.

Was there a special plate when you were a kid? I fought with my brothers for the "long" spoon. Mom could never figure out what was better about it, but I think it was real silver, not stainless steel, had a narrow rather than round bowl, and felt better in a kid's mouth. I wonder whatever happened to it. Oh, it's Monday, isn't it? That means it's payday--and I worked extra this week. Yay!
--Barbara

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Toes!

Last week I asked Zoe, the Yarn Whisperer, if she'd teach me how to knit 2 socks at once, toe-up using the Magic Loop method. She said she would, so I booked a meeting room at Goodwill for an hour on Friday night and got a lesson. Dusty came too because she had been trying to teach herself how to use Magic Loop, cuff down, and having no luck. It was brilliant to get out of the constant chatter of FNKC and be able to concentrate. I didn't have as tough a time as Dusty because I had already knitted a pair of socks on 2 circs and the same rules apply. Dusty was feeling bad about needing a lot more help but I told her that not only had I successfully knitted a pair on 2 circs but I have a pair of cuffs in a "disappointment bag" downstairs.



Here's how far I got Friday night. This is my first time making socks toes up. I used the Figure 8 cast on Zoe taught us at Knitting Guild last week and it worked great. It was a genius idea to use two different colors of yarn and also to use worsted yarn so I could easily see what I was doing. Using two colors was someone else's idea and the worsted was an accident but I enjoyed the lesson. Thanks, Zoe!


Yesterday at work I realized that I hated the way the wrister was looking with the mock cable stranded in a sea of reverse stockinette. HATED. IT. I cruised the projects on Ravelry and more than one of the people who made this pattern bracketed the cable in a few pur
ls and knit the rest. So I frogged down to the cuff and started again. I am much happier with the looks of it and know it'll get done much faster.






I'm excited to be on the last skeins of wool and cashmere for my wrap. Hopefully I'll sit myself down on the couch, plug my earbuds in to my ears,
and get it done sometime before bedtime tonight. We shall see.

Pseudo-Flu

It's important for me to get a flu shot because Durwood has COPD and getting the flu would be very, very bad for him. I avoid it and keep forgetting why. I got one Friday and remembered yesterday when I dragged myself out of bed and off to work. For a couple days after getting the shot I get a sort of "flu-lite." The site of the injection is hot, swollen, and hard, and I am slightly feverish, sleepy and a little achy. It's nowhere near the magnitude of the real flu so I'm not swanning around wishing to die and lying limply on my couch swathed in afghans and shawls with Kleenex tucked in my pockets and sleeves. In fact I intend to take my new snowshoes to the local park and tromp around a bit because it's sunny and not very windy out there, besides I'm not really sick just pseudo-sick.

January 22--Turkey, Ottoman Period, Dish.

Polychrome paint
under transparent glaze,
the museum tag says.
Pale words for the riot
of colors still bright
after nine-hundred years
of meals and dish water.
~~~~~

It's no easy feat to make up a story about a dish. I kept looking at the picture trying to muster up something about it, reading the tiny printed info below the date, and not coming up with much beyond "wow, it looks really good for its age." So that's what I put in my notebook before zonking out with the pseudo-flu. I'm going to call around to find a playmate but I am going snowshoeing even if I have to go alone. Go, Pack! (I'm not much of a fan so I hope I haven't jinxed them.)
--Barbara

Saturday, January 22, 2011

No Moon Today--Just Freezing Sun

One good thing about this frigid cold weather is it's going to feel positively balmy when it gets up to 20 degrees next week. I did see a teenage girl in the grocery store yesterday with her parents. They were bundled up to the ears and she was in her skin-tight jeans, a scoop-neck short-sleeved t-shirt, knee-high fashion boots and NO COAT. Not even a sweater or hoodie. Bare arms. Bare chest. I'll give her parents credit for ignoring the battles not worth fighting. If she wanted to freeze herself, that was her prerogative, but I did happen to see where they'd parked. It was as far away from the door as possible and still be in the lot. It's the silent victories that satisfy in the long run.

January 21--Peru, Pre-columbian, Tapestry Fragment. Spiders circled overhead in their webs that hung from the trees and cougars prowled in the underbrush. Fear outlined Gregorio's eyes in white and his red lips were stretched tight exposing his teeth. the tension permeated the room and the eternal struggle of man versus nature was plain in every thread of the tapestry that hung in the Olivera's living room. Marta hated when there were guests and she had to tell the story of the weaving to them. Her parents thought it was charming and showed off her intelligence. It might have been when she was small and lisping, but at seventeen she was too old to be shown off like a prize filly and most of their guests had heard the little speech so many times that they could say it along with her.

Guess what? I have to work today--and next Saturday too. Mrs. Boss is off to Grand Cayman for a dive trip with a few others. I'm outta here.
--Barbara

Friday, January 21, 2011

Morning Moon

When I opened the shade over my head this morning the full moon was shining down on the bright white snow. It was gorgeous, a world of white and midnight blue. Did I take a picture? Of course not. I was nearly naked and freezing, but I wanted to tell you about it.




Full Wolf Moon – January Amid the cold and deep snows of midwinter, the wolf packs howled hungrily outside Indian villages. Thus, the name for January’s full Moon. Sometimes it was also referred to as the Old Moon, or the Moon After Yule. Some called it the Full Snow Moon, but most tribes applied that name to the next Moon. --from farmersalmanac.com

Brain Freeze

Oh, Myrtle Mae, it's cold outside. The temps were supposed to rocket up to 6 above zero about now but I suspect it never made it. And it's windy. Dusty and I went mall-walking this AM. At least we were smart enough not to walk outside in this kind of weather, although I really wanted to snowshoe but figured I'd get frostbite so I'll go another day. I went to the grocery and bought chicken soup makings, a pineapple and 2 bags of navel oranges. When it's this cold all I want to eat is soup, bread, and fruit. And make endless pots of Constant Comment tea to wrap my cold fingers around. What's your favorite cold weather food/drink?

January 20--The Souper Dress. Marnie had loved soup, Campbell's Soup in particular, since she was old enough to smear Chicken Noodle in her hair and tip a lake of it onto her high chair tray. Despite Mom's best efforts to get her to eat homemade soup, that looked and smelled good, Marnie had to admit, for her it was Campbell's or nothing. Her grandmother had been heard to declare that "no grandchild of mine will dictate what I fix, she'll eat what I make or go hungry." Well, three days into a week-long visit when seven-year-old Marnie had eaten nothing but Honey-Nut Cheerios for breakfast and half a Swanson's Pot Pie for supper, Grandma conceded defeat and bought Campbell's for her stubborn but beloved granddaughter.

I was getting around to the soup label dress, I really was but I ran out of steam and had to go to sleep. It's tiring to stay warm when it's this cold, even if you're indoors.
--Barbara

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Still

That's me today. I intend to sit still on the couch finishing knitting my wrap so that I can wear it tomorrow to knitting. It's very cold outside today so it'll be better just staying indoors and keep warm. Even the wind seems to be still (according to the naked twigs out the window) but I'm not going out to check.

I went to the brewery last night for a beer & cheese pairing event. It was excellent. There were 5 cheeses we got to taste with the selected beer and then they brought a grilled cheese sandwich with a little side dish. They were so delicious I have to tell you all about them:

First came Sharp Provolone with bacon, fig jam, and spinach on French bread with a tiny cup of pickled cucumbers, served with Railyard Ale. Second was Italico with grilled vegetables on onion poppyseed bread and a few sweet potato fries on the side, with Canadeo Gold. Third was American Grana with pepperoni, mushrooms, onion, black olives, and marinara on pizza bread with a bit of Caesar salad, with Dark Helmet. (By then, we were getting pretty darned full.) Fourth came Fontina on sage corn cakes with roasted wild mushrooms, a teensy cup of tomato bisque on the side, with 400 Honey Ale. Finally the most creative grilled cheese sandwich came for dessert, Cresenza with caramel apples on pound cake, a twist of cinnamon sugar pie crust and Trilithon Tripel (I actually liked the Hopasaurus Rex with it better). All of them were so good and so interesting with the mix of flavors and ingredients, I even liked the beers (sorta). There'll be another beer & ____ pairing evening next month and I can't wait. Maybe it'll be beer & ice cream and chocolate! Now that'd be an evening well-spent.

January 19--Adelaide Labille-Guiard, Madame Elisabeth de France. She looked so respectable in her portrait, so much the lady in her sober blue dress that covered her right up to her neck. He hair was teased out and tucked into an enormous beret-like hat with the largest ostrich plume society had even seen. At first glance you were sure she was a lady but then you saw the glint of challenge in her eye and the fabric of the scarf around her neck was just a touch too transparent, her bodice cut a centimeter too low so that too much of her, well, her poitrine was revealed for all to view. Madame might have intended to look like a lady but her clothing gave her away.

A-a-a-and it's snow showering. A good day to while away in pursuit of stillness. Stay warm!
--Barbara

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Ooh, Merry Christmas from Mr. & Mrs. Boss

We had the dive shop Christmas party last Saturday at a nice local place so we could eat too many broasted pork chops (to. die. for.), talk to friends, and watch the first half of the game. "The Game" is the way rabid Packer fans say it, actually. There was a lot of hollering (when things went well), groaning (when things didn't), and high-fiving (when they scored or yoinked the ball from the other guys, the Falcons maybe? They were in red outfits, that I'm sure of.). The unexpected part was a not-small piece of US currency in a card tucked into a bag of bath products. Surprising, totally unexpected, and really appreciated. I took that windfall right over to Play It Again Sports and plunked it down for my very own pair of snowshoes with their own canvas carry bag. I resisted running out into the dark to try them--until 10 PM when I took them along when I carried out the trash and recycling so I could take a spin around the yard just to make sure I loved them. It was a blast tromping around in the unblemished snow, pacing the property lines like a dog with one of those Invisible Fences. As a bonus, I startled the renter when he was hauling out his trash in his jammies. Sorry, Mario.


January 18--Gerhard Emmoser, Celestial Globe with Clockwork. Emily loved the statue of the silver horse in Grandpa's study. She felt sorry for it because it carried the whole world on its back. Gregory said that his name had to be Pegasus because of his golden wings but she thought its name should be Silver because that's what color he was. The globe didn't have the continents on it like a regular globe. It had dragons and serpents and flying babies. There was a place on the underside where it looked like you could put a wind-up key. She planned to ask Grandpa about it when he got home from his meeting. Gregory said the pictures on there were pictures of stars but she didn't see any stars. Maybe if she got closer to it, climbed up on the desk, she could see it better, figure out how it worked. Nobody was around to see. She pushed the chair closer to the big walnut rectangle and slipped off her shoes.


I'd rather be someplace tromping through the snow but here I am at work like a good girl. Maybe I can coerce someone to come out and play tomorrow. Tonight I go to Titletown Brewing Co. where DS & DIL work for a beer & cheese pairing. I'm not much of a beer drinker but the prospect of 5 gourmet grilled cheeses is irresistible. Mmm, grilled cheese. I'll report.
--Barbara

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Squeee!

Oh, I was so glad to have to stop and get some prescriptions for Mom after work. I had to drive right by Play It Again Sports on the way home so I stopped in and BOUGHT ME SOME NEW SNOWSHOES!!!! They even have a canvas carrying bag. Thank you, Mr. & Mrs. Boss for giving me a little late Christmas bonus. I'm thinking that I might have to take a tromp around the yard before bedtime tonight. Hey, I have to take out the trash tonight anyway so I might as well take the new snowshoes for a spin.



The other day I cast on a pair of wristers in some stash yarn. I get to make them because I gave a pair to a lady in a drive-though a couple weeks ago. The ones I'm making have
got a big mock cable up the back with nice wide ribbing at the top and bottom. I need to knit faster, it's supposed to get reallyreally cold this weekend.







Durwood was intrigued by the way today's sunshine made the little snow pockets on the pine trees glow. He called it "snow lights." I like it.

Snowy

It's pretty darned white out my window this morning. The "experts" say we got just over 3" of snow yesterday and it's really overcast so the light's flat which makes the snow look really deep. Good for snowshoeing, bad for driving and shoveling, luckily Durwood bought me a big, red snowblower that takes care of 3" of snow lickety-split. Of course, the day-long snow made it even quieter than normal at the dive shop so I got through half of the new price list Mrs. Boss left for me to update on the POS (point-of-sale). It only took me half the day to remember to go back and get the adjustable chair so I could sit at the high counter and work instead of stand all day, so my back only hurt half the time. I'll finish it up today unless, of course, I'm overrun with customers, but there's always tomorrow--and Saturday. She's off to Grand Cayman so I'll be working most of next week. (Think of your paycheck, Barbara, not the lost time off.)

January 17--Cindy Sherman, Untitled Film Still. Galen loved the city, loved the pace of it, but she hated the people. There was never a time when she was alone on the street. Never one of those moments when it was all hers. Trucks and buses rumbled by at all hours. The subway roared in underground tunnels around the clock. People were everywhere, early morning, late at night someone moved in the city. Voices raised in joy or anger echoed in the canyons of the downtown. Music poured from clubs and street musicians were on every block. Even Central Park in the dead of winter had flocks of children playing and rabid fitness freaks ran in their layers of spandex and fleece. She thought she could endure them around her as long as none of the touched her. Or spoke to her. Or looked at her.

Man, oh, man, the writing fairy is sure on a break. I struggled to squeeze out that little bit last night. Tonight will be better, I'm sure. It's not supposed to be easy, is it?
--Barbara

Monday, January 17, 2011

Hey, I'm Back

Sorry I didn't post for a couple days, I didn't write either. I needed a little break, but now I'm back and I wrote last night so you get some drivel to read today. I went snowshoeing yesterday afternoon with my friend, Zoe. She lives right by the East River so we walked across a field and down the bank onto the frozen river for about a half-mile. The strap on my left heel kept slipping so I had to keep stopping to readjust it. That was a little frustrating but it was a fun outing anyway. I stopped at Play It Again Sports on the way to Zoe's and on the way back to check out the snowshoes they have for sale. I'm going to buy my own, probably by next weekend. They're not terribly expensive--$100--amazingly that's my Christmas gift from work! Talk about kismet, eh? It started snowing earlier and we're supposed to get 3-5 inches by this afternoon. Even though I'm excited to go snowshoeing more I'd rather it didn't snow much more. I get tired of shoveling the drive. (I'm so jealous. Durwood's taking a nap and I'd love to go back to bed but I have to go to work. Boo. But it is payday. Yay. Guess I'll stay awake after all.)

January 16--Dora Wheeler, Penelope Unraveling Her Work at Night. I hate doing this, she thought, her nimble fingers undoing her day's work. It's the only way I can keep them at bay. Penny cried a bit as she worked by the light of a single candle. Her mother had warned her about marrying "one of those wandering Greeks," but she had done it anyway, and happily for the first few years. He had been gone so long now that she wondered if she'd even recognize him when he did come back. She knew he would, knew he wasn't dead like everyone kept telling her. It was her mother, she knew, who was sending all those bachelors over but she had finally thought of a way to buy a little time. She said she would not choose one of them until she finished weaving her tapestry so every night she undid most of the work she had done that day. So there she was in the flickering dimness, crying and ripping, ripping and crying, certain that one day he would return.

And it's snowing harder. Guess I'd better go shower so I can bundle up to sit in the solitude of the dive shop and knit while I listen to a book on CD. Thank god for technology. Happy Monday!
--Barbara

Friday, January 14, 2011

More Snowshoeing!


Dusty and I were going to walk on the river trail this morning but the snow isn't cleared off, but I had tucked John's snowshoes into my trunk so we stayed there and Dusty tried them for the first time. It takes some time to build up endurance, but it isn't hard to walk in them, you just have to point your toes straight. We took turns and then went over near a part of the East River Trail that is cleared and found a geocache, our first but definitely not our last. She got a GPS app for her iPhone which works great. It's good to have a playmate who is willing to go along with my crackbrained ideas.

January 13--Cote d'Ivoire, Face Mask. Ellen could feel it watching her. She loved being in Uncle Reggie's library with the shelves of books that reached the ceiling and the deep chairs perfect for reading, but she hated the mask that hung in a lighted niche under the balcony. Only once had she gone close to look at it. It was carved out of some kind of African wood and hung with animal horns and claws. Feathers came out of the top and some kind of dried yellow fibers made the hair. It hung long and thick, she was sure it was home to a million spiders, and she was convinced the mask's eyes followed her no matter where in the room she went.

There's more, I know there is, I just can't find it. I sure wish the writing fairy would come back.
--Barbara


Thursday, January 13, 2011

Old Dogs Can Learn New Tricks

My friend, JJ was in the dive shop Tuesday and we were talking about snowshoeing because I knew he used to run a trapline and I told him I wanted to learn how. There's a waterfowl preserve out by the bay that rents snowshoes on weekends for $4 and they have trails. Some of the knitters, the young ones, went out there last winter but I was busy and couldn't go, then the snow melted and spring came. Well, JJ came back yesterday with his snowshoes for me to borrow. He told me that he hadn't used them in over a year. They're nice, light aluminum ones instead of the old traditional bent wood and leather kind. He gave me a few pointers and I was on the verge of dragging him out to the tiny lawn of the shop when a pesky customer came in, and he had to leave to pick up kids anyway. Drat. On my way home from work last night I stopped at Play It Again Sports and bought a pair of used ski poles to help me keep my balance and get up when I fall. They were only ten bucks.

Sooooo, this morning I put on my fleece pants, warm socks and my best Thinsulate-lined boots and headed out into the backyard for my maiden voyage. It was a blast! I walked around the house (I'm sure the neighbors thought I was nuts) and then I filled the birdfeeders which was much easier on snowshoes. I can't wait to go with Zoe (who got her own snowshoes before Christmas) by her house or on some trail somewhere. Durwood took my picture. Don't I lo
ok cool?

Too Much Fun

I expect that today will either bring too much fun or a trip to the ER. My friend, John lent me his snowshoes yesterday and showed me how to put them on. I went to Play It Again Sports on my way home and bought a pair of ski poles for ten bucks to help with balance. Once I get this posted I intend to put on my polar fleece pants and my Sorrel boots, my new warm gloves and take a spin around the yard. I expect there to be a learning curve but I think I can't get too hurt in my own yard. Maybe. I'm pretty active so my parts should be in fairly good shape to try this new sport. Is it a sport? I suppose it is, I mean, I'm not going to run a trapline like John used to, that would be work. I just want to do something outside in winter. I'm tired of sitting indoors all the time. I want to be out in the fresh air breathing hard and laughing at how clumsy I am. Film at eleven.

January12--Leon Bonnat, Roman Girl at a Fountain. The water is so cool and wet. It cuts the dry-as-dust taste in her mouth. Maria stands on tiptoe to reach the thin trickle, finally tall enough to get her own drink. It seemed like she would never get tall enough to be able to lean in so that her mouth caught the stream as it fell. She hated to have to wait for someone taller to fill a dipper for her, it made her feel like a baby.

And that's all, I'm disappointed to say. I stayed up until nearly midnight and so I was extra-tired when I went to bed. But I got a book I'd been waiting for from the library (Side Jobs by Jim Butcher) on my way home too so after supper I cracked it open and the next thing I knew it was nearly 12. Now I'm off to see if I can make it around the house without breaking a leg.
--Barbara

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Writing Is Loud

You remember that I do this prompt writing right before I turn out the light, right? Last night Durwood came to bed at about the same time so he was lying there, quiet, with his ear pressed to the pillow while I wrote. I lay on my stomach with my pillow stuffed under my chest and write in my notebook which lies on the bed. I can hear the scratching of my pencil but don't pay much attention but last night when I closed my notebook and reached to put it on the night table a little voice beside me said, "Writing is loud." "Sometimes," I said. And then we kissed goodnight.

January 11--Kunz Lochner, Armor of Emperor Ferdinand I. He had expected to feel invincible but instead he felt beleaguered by the sounds coming from every direction. Even though the armor had been custom made for him, Fred couldn't get it settled right. He'd twitch the breastplate only to shift an arm guard or one of the articulated plates on his thigh would dig into him and his leg would go numb. He hoped he still had the reins in his left hand. He couldn't feel them and his helm didn't let him look down and check. It was a good thing that his charger, Ajax knew what to do because he wasn't really steering the horse, he was just hoping to stay on. Fred was sure that Ajax didn't respect him anyway. The big white horse would turn away and try to shove him off balance when he'd arrive at the stable each day even though Fred brought an apple for the beast. Ajax liked his page, Gerhard who crooned to the horse and decked him out in his own armor similar to Fred's. Fred was convinced that Gerhard had poisoned Ajax's mind against him and taught the horse maneuvers to make him look like a fool, but Gerhard always smiled and tried to help Fred make the horse behave. Damn, this lance was heavy. Wasn't the parade nearly over? Being crown prince was no fun at all, just wait until he got to be emperor.

Poor Fred, sucks to be him. Cool looking armor except for the disks of metal protruding from his armpits. I don't know what those could be for. Nice engraving, though, and it's not dented so he must not have had to be in battle in it. Maybe the sun will shine for a minute today. That'd be good.
--Barbara

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

I Can't Stop Starting

I was so thrilled last week when I finished a sock and scarf so I could knuckle down and work on other projects that I have on the needles. Did I do that? Kind of. I ordered and received 3 more skeins of Dalegarn Ara wool to finish my wool & cashmere wrap and made good progress toward finishing that.



But then...








I like to have a sock on the go because it's something small to take to work. Besides I like making socks because the yarn's so pretty. I'm calling this one the Winter sock, partly because the pattern I'm using is November sock (Ravelry link) and partly because of the time of year and partly because of the colors of the yarn--purple, dusty blue green, and pale blue. It's called Happy Feet and I hope it makes mine happy. I think it will.






For my day-trip to Appleton with Durwood on Friday I needed a very simple project for car knitting. I'll bet you can guess what I did. Yes, I CAST ON ANOTHER PURSE STITCH SCARF. I'm sorry for hollering but I am amazed at the strength of my addiction. I'm calling this one "It's A Disease." Appropriate, don't you think?

I Had to Shovel

Not snowblow, just shovel. The snow that snowed last night and this morning was the light, dry, fluffy stuff that's easy to push around and a pain to blow so I broomed off the car and shovelled the driveway instead of posting before work. I filled the birdfeeders and the birdbath roo. (Good girl, Barbara! You're a real peach.) Now I'm at work with nothing to do so I think I'll post. Well, I had something to do because Bob, one of the Instructors, called and asked me to bill the DNR for some work he did, but it only took me about 10 minutes and that's with a FedEx interruption and making some pricing changes once I had the bill in the envelope, etc. I work too fast or too efficiently or something I guess. We need more customers. Will you please come and buy some dive gear? Please? How about a magazine? There are pretty pictures of fish, you know you like pretty pictures. There's fruity candy, too, if you're behaved. I'm having a lemon candy, I'm being "haved."

January 10--Andre Derain, The Palace of Westminster. People who live alongside the Thames in the city think of it as a working river. Cargo comes up it from all over the world and leaves from the docks to spread far and wide. Tourist boats chug up and down, the amplified voices of the bored guides echoing off the buildings. No one riding on a bus over a bridge or walking on an errand pauses to contemplate the glitter of sunlight on the water or the pattern raindrops make on the surface as it pounds down. A few miles upriver you wouldn't know it's the same river at all. There you see wading birds near the banks and dragonflies sparkle and dip in the reeds. Old men and boys fish from shady banks or flat bottomed boats. The river gurgles and chuckles to itself as it moves along. In the city it slides silently past water stairs and prison gates. This old river sure has a split personality.

Interesting but bland. Odd because the painting is very bright with primary colors and bold strokes. Ah, well, maybe tonight there'll be a bland picture and something with heart-pounding action will come. C'est la vie!
--Barbara

Monday, January 10, 2011

Whew!

I made it. I didn't have time this morning and I forgot to take my notebook to work to post last night's writing. You can be sure that I won't miss Antiques Roadshow either. It's been over for about half an hour so now's time to post. Durwood's resubmerged in college football. Football football football, will it never end? At least the Green Bean Pickers are still alive in the playoffs so Mom and Durwood and the rest of the football maniacs around here are happy--but nervous that they'll get their behinds handed to them next week in Atlanta. For me who isn't interested in football it means that I can shop on Sundays without mobs of people in the stores. So it's good all around.

January 9--Louis Comfort Tiffany, Window. Julianna loved it when the sun shown through the new window above the landing. It looked like rainbows had broken and come indoors. She asked Nurse for paper and chalk and then settled down on the step to put the colors on paper. Mama scolded her because she forgot to put on her smock so there was colored dust all over her white dress and Mama made Nurse cry. But Julianna was determined to make Mr. Tiffany's colors sit still on her paper so she put on her smock and was very careful not to get chalk dust on herself. She especially liked the small dots of glass that reminded her of bubbles in a stream even though she had never seen a purple stream

I like determined little girls, don't you? Now it's time for me to eat my evening yogurt. Yum.
--Barbara

Sunday, January 9, 2011

I Can't Think of a Song About Sunday

There are probably two dozen of them that I actually know some of the words to but I can't think of a single one to use a line of for the title of this post. Oh well, you'll have to dream up your own background music. Right now I'm sitting in a shaft of sunshine and in my imagination I'm driving across Bonaire on the road that goes from Lagun to the roundabout by Sand Dollar. It's a narrow straight road along a stinky, swampy area on one side and an industrial/warehouse district on the other, but as you crest a little rise you can see the ocean. Ahh. It's a skinny little island to begin with and that road crosses the skinniest place. I'd love to be driving back from Rincon right now, maybe after a dive at Old Blue or Karpata. Old Blue, it has an easier entry, no slippery concrete slab to inch across in your heavy dive gear. I'm not hearing any music in my head, just the constant trade winds and the sound of the pickup tires on the hot asphalt. Anyway, that's what's in my imagination while I sit here in freezing Green Bay where it's +8 without wind chill. Where are you?

January 8--Louis Comfort Tiffany, Window. Mr. Louis stood in the workroom with his sleeves rolled up pinning the piece of paper to the table. Mario stood back watching his boss, a confused look on his face. "We aren't making a plant or a scene," Mr. Louis said, "with this we're making a feeling." The younger man's intense blue eyes burned as he began pulling glass out of the cubbyholes behind the work table. "Just like the wisteria and leaves of that last lampshade, I want this to flow, to move like wind ripples on a lake or a leaf floating down a stream." Mario rubbed his roughened hands together and squinted trying to envision the feeling that his patron was talking about. He nodded once, twice, and took up his glass tools. Mr. Louis had pulled out blue and clear glass, but also gold and purple. Mario had never seen a purple stream but he set to work making curves, building a swirl, working alongside Mr. Louis far past the end of the day.

I wasn't sure what would come from that detail of stained glass window but I like it. Spend your Sunday well.
--Barbara

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Okay, We Didn't Go to Cracker Barrel

Instead we passed a Chinese buffet place and went there, and we didn't walk the mall, we went up and down every aisle of Tuesday Morning instead, after buying curry powder at Penzey's and a bunch of assorted doodads at World Market, but we had a good time nevertheless. It was a pretty darned good buffet, not enough vegetables for me but pretty good. It was nice to spend the day with Durwood just goofing off away from home.

January 7--John Button, Fourteenth Street, High Noon.
If she sat in a certain spot on the front stoop, Tally could see only sky. Not the tower of Pearson's Federal Bank, not the big blue Stein sign on the department store across the street, no trees, nothing but sky and clouds. With only sky overhead the city sounds of traffic and horns, whistles and voices blended into a sound that she imagined sounded like the sea. The wind in the trees, well, the tree, she thought made the same sound as the wind in the sails of a great, four-masted schooner. She had never been closer to the ocean than in a National Geographic in the library but she was certain that her imagination had it figured just right.

Imagination is a wonderful thing, isn't it? Kids shouldn't lose it as they grow, I think adults would be more interesting if they were less dull.
--Barbara

Friday, January 7, 2011

Old People's Fun

Today Durwood and I are planning a day "out." He wants to go to the Penzey's spice store in Appleton, 30 miles away, for curry powder so we're going to make a day of it. We'll troll through World Market because I love me an import store, have lunch at Cracker Barrel, and then stroll through the mall to get a little exercise dodging shoppers, oh, and Sam's too. See what I mean? Old people's fun. Not taking a hike or learning to snowshoe, not bike riding or skiing, no, we're walking through stores and eating lunch at a place that has lots of tour bus parking. If it weren't for my confidence in my innate coolness, I'd be depressed.

January 6--Joseph Laurent Mast, Harp Guitar. The golden plank of maple felt smooth and firm under her hand. She trembled and reached to pluck the strings, releasing the music trapped there. Leonie felt the hairs on the back of her neck rise when she strummed the chords of the hymn. Only six strings under her fingers but they made sounds like dozens. The notes echoed through her, vibrated in her bones, and carried her along with the music. She bent over the harp guitar lost in concentration when the felt a hand tremble on her neck. Monsieur Simon had never touched her, had never been anything but proper. Her fingers stopped moving and she pressed the strings to still the sound. As her head came up she felt his hot breath on her ear as he stood close behind her. "Your music moves me, little Leonie. Let me show you how much." She suppressed a shudder as his fleshy lips slid down her neck toward her cheek.

Ugh, I hate slobbery lips on me. Ick-ick-ick. Why do some people always ruin moments like that? Have a Friday. I'll be off with Durwood pretending to be old.
--Barbara

Voodoo Orchids

Three years ago DIL1's parents gave Mom an orchid plant for Mother's Day. My mother, who usually kills philodendrons, kept the care tag and bought a little bottle of orchid fertilizer. She put the plant on a wash stand about six feet from a south facing patio door. It only gets direct sunlight in the dead of summer because she's on the second floor of three and the upstairs balcony overshadows hers most of the year, so the little orchid gets indirect light. She said she gives it a little drink when she thinks of it and the top of the soil is dry. I posted a picture last spring when all of the buds had opened. After a few months all the flowers dropped off and the stalk began to die back, then a miracle happened, another flower stalk began to grow. Buds swelled, and more orchids opened. So now it's January and that crazy plant has been blooming since April 2010! Durwood says he thinks she's got a rainforest in there, I think it's a fake. She pooh-poohed both suggestions. She swears it's real. Whatever it is, it sure is pretty.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Finito X 2


In the last few days I have finished 2 items--the Dreamsicle sock and the I Can't Quit scarf. Both of them turned out well, in fact I plan to wear the scarf today when I go to Mom's for lunch. Just now when I was in the living room taking the scarf's picture my eye lit on a bag of single skeins in my knitting basket and I chose the next scarf's yarn. The. Next. Scarf. Does this tell you something about me? Do you see that I'm on a scarf knitting jag that has gone on, unabated, since early October? Would you like to hear how hard it was to give DD, DIL1, DIL2, Mom & Carla my beautician the scarves I made for them for Christmas? It was excruciating! I want them all. I want to sit in my nest and pat them, stroke them, tickle them along their lengths and wear them so that people will exclaim "where did you get that scarf?" and then I'll pet it and preen and say "why, I made it, of course" and be all proud. If they're very nice and respectful I'll even tell them how to make their very own. (It's too easy to believe.) You would cry at the time you have lost in making your own scarves to love and pet. Even better than having a wardrobe of stunning fashion scarves to wear making them has made me not hate purling anymore. (Ooh, a hint!) Now I can pick up my Red Marl sweater front and forge ahead up through the colorwork to the shoulders. Maybe I'll even finish it before the snow melts.

I like the sock too but it's no Purse stitch scarf. Oh, man, now that the cat's out of the bag I might as well tell you.

All I do is cast on 12 stitches (in worsted yarn, 8 in chunky) on US10 1/2 needles and then follow the directions for purse stitch lace (k1, *yo, p2tog,* rep * * to
last stitch, k1), that's it. Back and forth, back and forth until the scarf's as long as you want. I've been buying a 125-200 yd. skein and just going until it runs out. Some are longer, some are shorter, all are gorgeous. Well, I think so.

This morning a ballsy squirrel decided to see if it couldn't intimidate the sharpshinned hawk as it sat on top of the fence. The hawk kept an eye on it and eventually moved a bit to get away from the pest, but when the squirrel managed to chase it way, Durwood popped the fuzzy little c
reep in the hindquarters with the BB gun to teach it some manners.

The First of Four Days Off

Ahhh. I love it when Mrs. Boss goes on the ski bus on Tuesdays in the winter and I have to work Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. That means for 3 mos. I have 4-day weekends, every week! Not this year, though. She's going to be diving in Grand Cayman the end of January, spend 10 days diving in the Maldives in early February, and 2 weeks skiing in Colorado in late February/early March, so the first 3 weeks in January are her only ski bus weeks. I try to keep my enlarged paychecks in mind when I look at the calender. Good thing I've got a couple run-aways planned for this winter--3 days in Fish Creek with some friends in February and 4 in Sheboygan with a writing friend in March. Too much working makes me cranky. Today I'm going to Mom's to take pictures of her still-blooming-since-last-April orchid. She told me the other day that she's sure the "blog people" want to see more pictures. I think that means her sister. Mom's not on the 'net, she tried but just got frustrated. She's more of a phone person, that's how she keeps in touch with her family and friends. And I have library books to return and some holds to pick up. Do you library? For a while there I forgot how easy and convenient it is, cheap too, since you can just borrow the books for free and then return them. Now I only buy books by authors that I really love. I'm not so willing to spend money on books I might not like these days. Thrift comes late to me.

January 5--Katsushika Hokusai, The Great Wave at Kanagawa.

T
he foam on top of the breaking wave
looks like the white claws of polar bears
t
o the men in the boats
out on the sea.

The winter night falls fast,
the iron gray of the storm clouds
eats the daylight.

Far to the west Mount Fuji
sits calmly on the horizon,
the model of serenity.

The men watch
as the setting sun
paints the mountain-side golden.

The sight fills them
with confidence that
they will reach the shore

as the great wave
engulfs them.
~~~~~

Well, I couldn't just leave them bobbing around out there, now could I? That'd be cruel. I had to either save them or destroy them, and unfortunately for them, destroying's more interesting than saving. Besides, it's just pretend. Stay warm today.
--Barbara

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Cold Feet

No, no, I'm not reluctant to do something, my feet are cold already and I haven't even left for work and the cement slab under thin carpet that freezes my feet year round. I shouldn't be surprised at this, it is January after all, the dead of winter. The sun is trying to poke out of the hazy clouds but thicker clouds are anticipated with a bit of snow as garnish. I've been meaning to contact the editor of the dive club newsletter and bow out of writing for this year but he sent me a very enthusiastic email last week and the pleaser in me kicked in, and this morning in the shower I had an idea for an article lead. $hit. I wanted to back off the "shoulds" this year to see if I could recapture the writer in me and here my traitorous brain has betrayed me. Have any of you read The Story of Edgar Sawtelle? I got it on CD from the library and am listening to it. It's pretty good. I made the mistake of reading Amazon reviews and one of them was a spoiler so I'm kind of bummed about that. Oh, man, look at the time! I've gotta get this posted and get off to work.

January 4--Christian Lacroix, House of Patou, Evening Dress. Meg couldn't get comfortable in her bridesmaid dress. One of the darts or stays or strips of metal that help it in shape was digging into her ribcage. She had no clue how she was to go to the bathroom in the thing either, and she hadn't thought to ask the battle axe of a sales clerk in the bridal shop. At least hers was red, a decent color. Whatever possessed Cece to have her maid of honor in palest pink and then each successive attendant (and there were an even dozen of them) in a darker shade until Meg brought up the rear in scarlet, she did not know. Actually Meg would be first down the aisle so the dresses would pale until the bride came down the aisle in her pure white dress. Meg wondered if anyone would buy into the implication that she was the sluttiest of the attendants because she was in the darkest red? Although she wouldn't mind if one or two of the groom's cute groomsmen paid more attention to her. The dress was a horror with its one long sleeve and one bare shoulder, the lines of eyelets down the left side threaded with black taffeta ribbon tied in the big bow at her hip, and the skirt looked like a red popcorn ball all crumpled and scrunched. At least she had cute shoes, not that anyone would notice.

Gotta go! Bye.
--Barbara

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Yogi

I had a thought running through my barely-awake mind when I was doing my Wii Fit Yoga routine this morning... whoever is voicing Yogi Bear in the new movie doesn't sound like the real Yogi. The real Yogi has a warm depth to his voice and whoever that is has a more brittle sound. Does that make sense? Do you care? Why do I care? It's not as if I'm hurrying out to buy a ticket to see an inane movie like that, it's just something that nags at me sometime. Isn't the human brain a wonder?

People came into the dive shop yesterday but none of them spent any money. So how's your 2011 going so far? I'm working today so I'll be knitting at Patti's tonight. I don't go often because I usually don't work on Tuesdays so I don't make the cross-town trek (all of 5 miles), but since I'll be there at knitting time anyway, I thought I'd go and see Karen and Mary and Patti and Denise and other people I don't care a fig about. God forbid I should put myself out to see them.

January 3--Stettheimer, The Cathedrals of Broadway. Colors swirled--red, gold, white--flashing before his eyes. He groaned and shifted on the narrow bed. His left foot wormed its way out from under the covers to touch the cold floor as if his unconscious mind sought something stable to hold onto. Car horns honked, whistles blew as doormen summoned cabs, and thin women dressed in fox furs and satin laughed the seductive notes that fill men with hunger. His fingers flexed on the rough sheet straining to reach the lights and sounds of the night. Cigarettes were lit, cocktails sparkled in crystal glasses and jazz throbbed through the city's very marrow. A rising siren brought him upright, the clammy sweat making his dingy undershirt stick to his bony shoulders. The sounds and lights of his dream were replaced by the buzz and flicker of the neon sign outside the flophouse window. He groaned and pounded the stained pillow into shape, determined to sleep again without dreaming.

Well, hmmm. Interesting. Yesterday's flurries banded together to make a dusting of snow on the driveway. I should probably dress and shovel it away before I leave for work. Toodle-oo.
--Barbara


Monday, January 3, 2011

Malled

Dusty and I met at the mall and walked for 50 minutes, around and around. I'd much rather walk outside even if it's cold but I had to come to work so I thought the mall was a better idea. I folded nice work clothes (jeans and a sweater) into a backpack so I could take off my sweaty clothes once I got here and put on clean, non-smelly clothes. Customers are few enough without scaring them off with B.O. Do you sweat when you exercise? Man, I do. It's one of my best gifts. I can sweat like a pro, but I keep telling myself that's why I have nice skin, I sweat out all the impurities. It was so warm New Year's Eve and Day that I'll bet half of our snow cover is gone Naturally the temp plummeted to the teens and single-digits once the front passed. We're having snow flurries today with very little wind so the flakes are kind of meandering toward the ground. It's sorta pretty. After the next big snowfall I am determined to go out to Barkhausen Waterfowl Preserve and rent some snowshoes to try it. I wanted to do it last winter and didn't, I'm doing it this year. Cross my heart. I'll give a report too. Maybe even with pictures.

January 2--Renoir, Two Young Girls at the Piano. "You play and I'll sing," Martine said, their parents and the dinner guests laughing and talking in the drawing room behind them. The girls were glad to get to stay up later and see the couples in their evening dress but they didn't not like being trotted out like show ponies. Lisette especially didn't like it. "I feel like I should have a price tag hung from my sleeve," she hissed as she settled the sheet music for a spritely melody on the piano. Martine pinched her and said, "You would feel differently if Bertrand LaChaille was here." Lisette aimed a kick at her but hit the fern stand instead setting it rocking and bruising her foot.

Ah, one more reason why I never wanted a sister, brothers are bad enough. Survive your Monday. It's payday for me. Yippee!
--Barbara

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Sunny Sunday

It's a cold but bright and sunny day today. DD & DIL2 left for home about an hour ago. The dishwasher's splashing away in the kitchen and Durwood's off to take his first nap of the day. He's been a little short in the nap dept. the last week with the girls here, but I have confidence that he'll quickly make up for it. We had a full house last night with both the kids here with their SOs for a last supper together before we're all together again in April in KY. (I'm hoping that the harness racing track is open when we're there.) It was great to have everyone here. I'm thrilled that both our children turned out to be such nice adults who are willing to spend time with their parents and that they both found such nice people to love. It'll be good to get back in our quiet little rut, though, and I'm sure everyone feels the same. All that activity and company is great but it'll be nice to be back to what passes for normal around here. I might even take a walk today out in the sunshine. Load up a little vitamin D.

January 1--Renoir, Two Young Girls at the Piano. She's always looking over my shoulder, Lisette thought as her sister Martine edged closer and drew in her breath to speak. "Do knot even start," Lisette said as her fingers faltered on the keys. "I know I am playing all wrong, the tempo, the pacing, the interpretation, all wrong." Her shoulders rose with her tension, waiting for Martine to tell her what she was doing wrong just as she always did. The older sister leaned on the top of the piano. "How can you stand to play in here? It's always so cold." She shivered and drew a shawl across her shoulders. Lisette shrugged. "This is where the piano is. Where else could I play?"

I'm so happy to have art to write about again. I never thought I'd get tired of looking at pictures of islands but, damn, I sure did. Art is better.
--Barbara

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Hap-py New Year!!

Did you stay up and ring in the new year? I made it until 11:07. Wow. Even I am underwhelmed. Sucks to get old and dull. One of my writing and knitting friends had an open house in the afternoon so I went there and knitted and yakked for a few hours, then I made my way home in the fog (stupid weather) and did laundry. Ooh, big times at our house.

Here's the last Island calender prompt writing...thank god, I'm so over them...

December 31--Kauai.

Beyond the point where the
"End of Earth 1 mi."
sign should be
is Shipwreck Beach
with a hammock strung
between two palm trees,
coconut palms so you
don't get too relaxed,
but no shipwreck.

Over decades it decayed,
became bonfire fuel,
or just disappeared.

The name stuck
like the secret lore of locals
who tell you (when they
give you directions)
to "turn left at Elmo's
Shell that burnt down
in '72"
though you weren't
even born then.
~~~~~~

Well, that's it for 2010. I wish you happy times and good health in 2011.
--Barbara