Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Cold Sunshine

I wouldn't mind being off today so I could finish at Mom's and rake the leaves for the last time. Not that I've gotten to rake much this year but I would like to. We had to hire the neighbor guy again. I just don't have the time. It would be a good day for a walk too but that won't happen either. Skully came to keep me company when I was packing yesterday. That was good, I miss her. We've both sworn that we'll restart our walks next Tuesday. Cross our hearts. Once Mom got into the hospital and then passed away my days off have been too full and she battled a 3-week migraine so we're both stiff and creaky and need to get out "to get the stink blowed off" as my Grandma Frieda used to say when she shooed us kids out to play. Handyman Dave came and helped me get Durwood's van out of the garage, then he figured out what parts he needs Durwood to buy so he can fix the door tomorrow. I guess we can't complain; that cable's over 33 years old and it's first broken now. Good job, cable, but bad timing. I stopped at TW's work last night to update him on the latest estate developments and he was fixing a giant (and I do mean GIANT) quarry machine that rolled over. It had an impressive dent in the motor housing and a lot of other damage. I can't imagine knowing how to fix something like that but TW's good at it. He gets nice and dirty at work too. I'm glad I have a job that combines office-y things with manual labor things. I'd hate to work in some office and have to be all dressed up all the time. That's so not me. Ooh, I found a recipe for Garlicky Roasted Shrimp, Red Peppers, and Feta that Durwood made for supper last night since Key West Shrimp's on special this week at Festival. He cooked a bit of fettucini that we put it over. It was freaking fantastic. He'd like a bit less feta and he only used one clove of garlic but, oh my, it was delicious. I also found a recipe for fish drop soup in a folder at Mom's. It sounds interesting to me, Durwood thought it sounded awful. I'll make it sometime just to try it. Someone will eat it with me. I mean, who wouldn't want to make a soup with fish balls in it?

November 29--John H. Belter, Slipper Chair. Tanis loved the blue chair, had since she was small. The intricate carving of vines, oak leaves, acorns, and grapes that made up the chair back had entertained her for house as a child. She'd slep into her mother's dressing room and trace them with her fingers. A few times she had pushed the chair ove4r so she could feally get the shapes on paper but she always got caught. "Tanis, how many times have I told you not to play in here." Her mother's voice foze her hands and sent a chill up her spine. "Sorry, Mom," she said. "Sorry who?" Mara's left eyebrow arched as she glared down at her daughrter. Tanis' jaw felt stuck but she managed to say, "Sorry, Maman." Mara was in love with all things French. It made life a trail for Tanis. At least Cook and Giselle the maid spoke French. It was a whole new challenge for Tanis; one with few clues to success. Tanis tugged at the ropes that bound her to the blue chair. She had never imagined that the old rosewood would be so strong and she couldn't imagine why her mind kept skipping back to her childhood. The immediate problem of being tied up in her own dressing room while men in hoods rifled through her safe was what should have been in her thoughts. Her hands were numb and her cheekbone throbbed where the leader of the trio of men had backhanded her to get the combination. No one was expecting her for days. No staff lived in anymore and in summer the foliage around the house was too thick for any of the neighbors to see lights and movement. She heard boats speeding by as the sun set, boats headed for their moorings at the marina at the end of the bay, but none of them slowed to investigate the strange boat tied to her dock.

Uh-oh, this isn't good. Happy Wednesday. It's the middle of the workweek, you know. Ahhh.
--Barbara

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Beyond All Imagining...


We will be returning the keys to Mom's apartment on Friday once the St. Vincent de Paul people come and cart away the post-sale leavings. Today I went over to start packing up the things we're consigning to the auction house and chanced a phone call to see if I could wheedle a pickup today since I was there. Turns out I could. Damien and his sidekick, Ryan, arrived just after eleven, loaded up all the goodies and zoomed off. I'll go over either tonight or tomorrow night to finish packing up the remaining items (not too much left, just a bunch of kitchen stuff) while AJ arrives to get his table and drive Mom's car away. DS will come Friday morning to pick up the tables from Titletown Brewing and the dive shop, so I can then sweep through making sure nothing's left or broken. Once I've done that I'll hand over the keys and garage door opener--and we'll be done. Done. Done. Done. That isn't to say that my living room and basement will be passable yet but that I can do at my leisure after work or on the weekend. This is good. On the not-so-good side, I feel like I'm getting a cold. Dammit. (gonna go get some Zycam, that stuff really works) Oh, and the cable from one of the garage door springs snapped when I put Durwood's van away this morning. We've got a call into a handyman friend, but if it doesn't get fixed today he can take me to work so he'll have wheels so he can go let Porter out in the afternoon. It would be bad if he couldn't go play with the granddog. Why does stuff like that happen when you can barely manage to make it through days? The last 5 weeks of funeral and estate arrangements and all the organization and execution have consumed all my psychic and physical energy. Now that it's nearly finished I get a cold and the house starts to fall apart? I don't think so. Time for some remedial meditation and redirecting of energies.

November 28--Edgar Degas, Young Woman with Ibis. It had to be the fever. Etienne lay looking out the window, the covers pulled to his chin even though it was midsummer and hot. He frowned and blinked to clear his vision. Lisa wasn't out on his balcony, was she? No, he hears her humming in the kitchen as she made some chicken soup for him. He could hear her clearly as she chopped and stirred and sang. He rubbed a shaking hand over his eyes but still he thought he saw her there with a blue mantle over her hair and a pair of scarlet ibis with their needle-sharp beaks standing sentry, one on either side of her.

There's nothing like a good fever hallucination.
--Barbara

Monday, November 28, 2011

Down the Home Stretch

After a few phone calls to various auction houses, charities, and apartment managements, plus confabbing with various siblings, I have determined that we will be able to vacate Mom's apartment by the weekend. Hoo. Ray. If we pay November's rent (and a prorated fee for the first few days of December) we can have all Mom's things moved, let them take the cleaning charges out of the security deposit and be able to pay off the funeral and other final expenses with the proceeds of the sale. There'll be a little left to parcel out to various credit card companies (who should have known better than send Mom that many charge cards, she had 5 from Chase alone) and that'll be that. I will be so relieved to have that settled. Then I can turn to at home and shovel out paths through my living room and basement, and then get started de-crap-ifying my house so if Sputnik drops on Durwood and me when we're out eating our way around Sam's (or engaging in some other old person weekend pursuit) our beloved children won't have to deal with our mess. But I'm not getting rid of any tools or sewing stuff or yarn or writing stuff. Maybe not watercolors either (that counts as writing stuff since I took it up as novel research). Certainly all of Durwood's Penzeys bottles are safe (he inherited Mom's collection of at least one jar of every single herb and spice that Penzeys sells or ever has sold, it's kind of frightening). I am considering renting a small flamethrower, reducing all crap to ash and then using the leaf blower to swoosh it outside, but I suspect the arson investigators would object, and how would I keep the things I want to keep safe? I'll have to think about it. Maybe if I wet everything down... but then I'd have to dry things out and books don't take well to being dunked, the paints would all melt away, and the tools... well, maybe carrying things to the dump is the way to go after all. These are photos of the apartment before the sale resumed on Sunday morning. It was too crazy to take photos of Saturday morning.



No writing last night, I was just too beat.
--Barbara

Sunday, November 27, 2011

We Survived

We didn't sell it all, in fact very little of the furniture sold and hardly any of the doll stuff, but the lady from Two Rivers is coming up tomorrow to pick up all the doll stuff and sell it at doll shows for us, for a price, of course. We've decided to send the remaining antiques to be sold at a local auction house and we'll donate the rest. Once the sale was over we scurried around, tossed out all the Christmas stuff that didn't sell (old ribbons and tinsel), and started piling things up. There wasn't too much left once the auction things were set aside. Now all we have to do is get the place cleaned up and we're done. Oh, and sell her car. We haven't found the title but AJ says that's not the end of the world. I think we should be very proud of ourselves for getting this much done in just over a month. It turned off cold today, a lot colder than it's been so far, and gray and dreary, of course. As long as the big snow holds off until we've got Mom's apartment cleaned out I'll be happy. Well, happier. I'd rather have 70s or even 60s instead of 30s and 40s, and sunshine. I like sunshine too.

November 26--French, Shoes. Giselle sat hunched over the piece of leather in her lap. She had pierced the outline of the flowers, vines, and leaves onto the oddly shaped skin the day before and now she was embroidering it. She used silk in rich golds, blues, and greens as Monsieur Jirot had showed her. They were to match a gown for the ball the Comtesse was giving for the Comte's birthday next week. There was not a moment to spare. Tomorrow Jirot would mold the leather and sew it to the soles. Giselle had to finish tonight no matter how late she had to stay awake. She could not lose this job.

Eh. The shoes didn't inspire me and I was just too damned tired to work very hard at it.
--Barbara

Saturday, November 26, 2011

It's Sale Day!




and I have to work. Ah well, the sale is in TW and AJ's capable hands with Durwood along to be cashier. I went over to help at the very beginning and it was a crush. Both sewing machines sold in the first few minutes (yay!) and a lot of small things went streaming out too. Cash in/stuff out, always a good mantra. I fear that we're going to be left with most of the plastic boxes in the doll room since I taped them shut so people can't pick through. I can work out a way to realize some $$ from them if they don't sell. I'm nothing if not resourceful. I'm just glad that we managed to get organized and get the sale going so quickly. We rock. Now the next hurdle is to get it all out and get the apartment cleaned to their specs to get the security deposit back. We have got to be able to pay Mom's bills since none of us can afford to shell out for them. Damned credit cards.


November 25--Middle Arabian Peninsula, Incense Burner. It was the little bronze goat on the thing that caught Newman's eye. Adele had dragged him through bazaar after bazaar and each one was just as dark and smelly as the last one. He hated the familiar way the shop keepers reached out to draw them into their cramped shops. "Come inside, ma'am, come inside." Adele was sure she would find a treasure to take home, something worth more than anyone but she imagined. But the day was hot and it was hotter inside. They had seen too many cheaply made trinkets and garish t-shirts when Newman spotted the little goat perched on the back of a brass cup of some sort.


Ah, that Newman's got an eye for goats. Can you imagine how those places smell? Ugh. Come to our sale tomorrow, all prices reduced!

--Barbara

Friday, November 25, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

I meant to type that yesterday but time got the best of me and it was late when we got home from Shawano where we football-watched and ate, and ate, and ate, and ate. Now I wish I'd gone outside to play a bit of football with the kids just to tamp down the nacho lunch before the turkey dinner. Everything was delicious. Durwood's Gruyere dip was an enormous hit, and both the Semolina bread we spread it on and the traditional Malcolm holiday onion bread were perfect. I'm the bread maker around here and I do a pretty darned good job, if I do say so myself. It was good for me to be away from here and all the boxes and proximity to Mom's apartment for the day. I couldn't go over and work and I refused to stew about it. For once in my life I lived in the moment. I hope that all of you have an overstuffed, family-filled day. The pumpkin pie was made with our great-grand eggs (that's the products of our grand-chickens Henny & Penny) and was a triumph. Durwood and I have to scarf down our store-bought eggs so we can get us some of those eggs for ourselves. "The girls" are each laying an egg a day which is a lot for DS & DIL1 to deal with. We offered to help. Isn't that nice of us? DIL1's cousin KZ made a pecan pie with bourbon that was to die for. To. Die. For. I commanded her to make me one for my birthday and I commanded my birthday to move from September to today but I'm guessing those commandments fell on deaf ears. There was an excess of wine in the room. Also hilarity. It was an excellent day. Thanks to the Z's for inviting us. Handwritten thanks are in the mail. (yeah, yeah, it's in the mail. we've all heard that but this time it's really true. really) At 9:00 PM Wednesday night I finally ran out of doll room stuff to tape shut and price. Fi. Nall. Y. If you'd told me that I'd spend the better part of a week just getting that room ready I'd have scoffed at you. Yes, scoffed. But I am the proof. All of the stuff's not totally tidied up and a few things need to be priced but come hell or high water the sale will go on tomorrow and Sunday, and the rest will go to charity next week. Thank the Lord. I suspect that Mom's motto was "Too much is not enough" especially in the doll making area, but I do believe we've got a handle on it now. We're moving ahead even if it's wrong. Moving, that's the important part. Now I need a flamethrower to clear out my living room. I've enlisted (okay, drafted) DS to help next week or the week after. It shall be done. We shall see the living room carpet once again in 2011. I has spoken.

November 24--Felix Bracquemond, Soup Plate. The plates were beautiful. Hand painted, Baye could tell. She'd been buying old dinnerware in all different patterns. Baye hated things all matchy-matchy, it made her nervous. She'd never seen a soup plate like this one. It had a slightly scalloped edge and a strutting turkey in the center. The plate was edged in dry brushed black or charcoal and there was a sprig of thyme on one edge, a moth (not a butterfly but a moth) on the top, and a fly, a common housefly, on the left. It was the fly that made her stop to consider. Would her guests glance down and think that there was a fly in their soup? Would they laugh or shudder? She decided that she'd take them home. They make her laugh. The rest of the world could go... hang.

Gotta go eat my Cheerios and then I get to pick Porter up from the kennel and take her to work with me while Durwood braves the Black Friday crowds. Eek.
--Barbara

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Too Much

Life suddenly (or maybe not so suddenly) feels like too much. In addition to the estate sale and Thanksgiving, we're taking advantage of the lower interest rates and refinancing our mortgage so we can pay it off faster. I do not need one more thing to think about. I worked a bit at the apartment last night and did not get done so I'll be back there tonight. Maybe I'll just go right from work so I have the whole evening to get things done, then maybe I can relax a bit tomorrow. I am thrilled that we're going to be gone all day tomorrow to DIL1's parents place. We'll watch the game (go, Pack!)(oh, I hope I didn't jinx them) and then all pitch in to make the turkey supper after the game. I'm taking a bunch of knitting projects so I'll have lots to choose from. This morning I've got the onion bread dough rising, it'll get baked before I go to work, so that'll be done. (We're taking a couple loaves of Italian Semolina bread too, for the Gruyere dip Durwood's making as an appetizer.) I should unload the pictures from the back of Durwood's van but don't know where I'd go with them. Under the bed, yeah, that's where I'll put the big ones. I unearthed the sewing rocker and the shadow box from the storage yesterday (without breaking an ankle) so they're at the apartment to be sold. I'd love to keep all the things that remind me of Mom and my childhood and all those folks but I'm content with my memories. I have a vivid imagination and a looooong memory (as those who know me know) so I've really got all I need filed away in my head and heart. Once this sale is over I'm going to enlist the help of DS to make some room downstairs and find places to stash things. He'll help me, he's a good boy, um, man. Aw, hell, he's still my boy no matter how old he gets, just like DD will always be my best baby girl. (Sorry, guys, that's just the way it is.) I'd better get a move on, I still have to eat breakfast and shower and it's 8:40. Time's a wasting.

November 22--Japan, Uniform. Hu washed in cold water in the pale dawn light. His small fire did little to dispel the chill of the night but it was enough to heat his mug of leftover tea and keep his bread from freezing. If he were rich he might have a bit of red bean paste to smear across the bread with his thumb but all he had was a little duck fat. He sliced a white radish that brought its own heat to his day. He heard the creak of old Moh's cart as he loaded up for market and knew he should hurry. He planned to walk down into the valley to look for a job in the post office. His old teacher had said they were hiring so he planned to go apply. He thought he would be very happy with a route to deliver. He also though he would look very good in one of the dark blue uniforms. Girls like a man in a uniform.

No radishes for me today, only Cheerios with a banana. Decadent.
--Barbara

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Do You eBay?




A friend, BLV, stopped into the dive shop yesterday and listened to me complain about having too much stuff and wanting to clear out this winter. He suggested that I help Durwood learn how to sell stuff on eBay. Said he'd done it, so how hard could it be? I asked what he'd sold, thinking dive gear or the little model ships he builds, and he said he sold his old Harley to a guy in Australia for eight grand. Remember the buyer pays shipping so BLV said that a big truck showed up at his house and took that motorcycle away to be shipped Down Under. Amazing! The first thing I want to do is box up all the old computer stuff and get rid of that (at the dump or wherever you take that stuff to recycle it), then I'll start sorting out all the other random crapola that we've kept for way too long. Maybe Durwood can sell some of it and save us from having a rummage sale next spring. That'd be good. (Hmm, I could sort my books...) I went out to our storage locker before work and unearthed the shadow box and cane seat sewing rocker to put in the estate sale this weekend. Oh, that reminds me, I need to write the ad and get it called into the newspaper, Craig's List too. Good thing I'm at work so I'll have plenty of time to get it done. It's quiet here. Mr. Boss thinks that I'll be really busy on Black Friday but I have my doubts. I guess I'll see what happens on the day.


November 21--Paolo Aquilano, Kneeling Virgin. She wasn't a blond. You know she wasn't a blond since she was from the Middle East, but there she is all narrow-featured, pale--and blond. It has always made me scratch my head that throughout hundreds of years artists have always painted Mary and Jesus and the rest of them with the same ethnicity as themselves. Same clothes too. I think it shows a lack of imagination and a narrow view of the rest of the world. But then I'd probably have been burned at the stake before I was twenty-one back then.


Nothing like a little rant to end the day on a crabby note. Stay cool.

--Barbara

Monday, November 21, 2011

Mitts!


I finished the Fast & Fearless Fingerless Mitts the other night. I love them. I love the yarn. Now I wish I'd bought every skein of it she had. Not that I need even one more SCRAP of yarn. I don't need any at all. Want, now, want's a different story. I work in a place that's all about want, not much about need, so I'm very familiar with want. (Hm, on a totally unrelated note, both my kids played Want in the local production of A Christmas Carol when they were small.)

Dreary Monday

I'm getting tired and staying tired these days. I suspect its a mental/emotional condition and I'll get over it. Never fear. I'd like to play hooky the next three days and just give 'er, as they say around here, and get Mom's stuff all set and primped up for the sale next weekend. Next week's the last week for leaf collection and I just don't have time to go out and round up the stragglers. Ah well, they'll make good mulch, and the work will get done before the sale. The sole good thing to come from Mom's sudden passing (aside from not having to watch her have to give up her bridge playing, get really sick, and either lose her marbles or be in excruciating pain) is that I get to spend a few days with my brothers. I haven't done that in forever and when we've been together it's been with all our families. Not that I don't like to spend time with them too but TW and AJ and I have been family for 56 years and we're too busy to get together much these days. It's something I appreciate and don't want to lose. AJ loaded all the doll babies--dressed and naked, whole, headless, articulated and dis--into totes with quilts and towels to protect them, and most of the boxes of pictures into Durwood's van yesterday for me to bring home. I'm going to bring home some of the shelving units from Mom's and use them to store that stuff. Somewhere. I may have to sort through a crapload of our crap to have room (which would not be the worst thing). Then if someone calls to say Mom had their doll, I'll have it, and some weekend this coming winter we can get together to sort through pictures and divvy them out or have copies made. Once we can walk through the living room again, that is.

November 20--Southern Netherlands, Crib of the Infant Jesus. She walked back to the square glass case that held the ornate crib. "Did you see that there're four angels? One on each corner." Sally huffed in frustration and trailed back to stand beside her mom. "Angels. Yep, I see them." Her tone of voice was flat and bored. "I wonder why they put jingle bells on those ropes," Lois said, pointing. "Those are bells, right? The baby Jesus must not be a light sleeper." "Ma," Sally tried to keep her voice down, "the baby Jesus doesn't sleep here. It's just... just furniture." Lois tugged on her daughter's sleeve to make her follow her around to the side on the case. "See those openings in the sides? Don't they look like church windows? Do you think they'd let me rock the Baby Jesus to sleep next time he's here?" She looked around. "They'd have to lower the lights so the little Guy could sleep." Sally shook her head. The museum might have been a bad idea. Maybe they should go to the zoo next Sunday. At least she'd get a nice walk outside along with her weekly dose of crazy talk.

Oh. I didn't know that Lois was that old. Huh. Funny how that stuff happens when you're not looking. Enjoy your day. I will. Two words. Pay. Day.
--Barbara

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Whew!


You can all relax, I found the Coach Cake recipe, or rather Durwood did in one of the (bazillion) boxes of papers I brought home for him to sort through into "save" "shred" or "toss" piles. I suspect he thinks that doing that is no big deal, not much of a help but I keep telling him that just knowing he's home to hug on and that he's making a hot and yummy supper for me is an enormous help. Tonight he made gizzards in the crockpot that we had over noodles with fresh broccoli. Mmm. I'm keeping him. I spent most of the day over at Mom's apartment and almost got through the stuff in the doll room. Almost. TW and AJ hauled in all the boxes in from the garage (after AJ packed the canopy bed into his truck), we borrowed a couple banquet tables from DIL1 at Titletown Brewing, and then they spread out all the Christmas stuff and the small amount of really antique china Mom had. Once pretty much everything was out we started pricing. What a pain. Necessary, but what a pain and none of us are rummage salers, estate salers, or antiquers so we're just guessing. We've agreed that we'll entertain offers, especially on the pricier stuff but we're not going lower than half. The longer we work on this the more I threaten to buy or rent a flame-thrower to clean out our house over the winter. I don't think they have home models, though, and I suspect that the jellied gasoline is hard to get your hands on.

November 19--Southern Netherlands, Crib for the Infant Jesus.
"No baby could sleep in there," Lois said, bending over to peer at the ornate crib. She straightened up and shook her head. "Look at that. There's no sides to keep Him from falling out and who'd put a baby down on covers with all those pearls and that scratchy embroidery?" "Ma," Sally said, "it's not for a real baby." She looked for a tag. "When was it made? Oh here." She read for a minute. "It says here it was made sometime in the 14th century so that was in the thirteen hundreds. That's a thousand and three hundred years after the birth of Christ." She tugged her mother into motion, urging her down the gallery. "Not even a religious fanatic moron would expect Him to be a baby after all that time." Lois turned to look at the crib. "It's pretty though, isn't it?"

It's amazing what pops out of people's mouths. And here I sit talking like I actually heard someone say that instead of it being a conversation I made up last night when I was half asleep. Now I'm half asleep again. See? It's a cycle.
--Barbara

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Barkeep, Rutabaga All Around!


You know how some vegetables look in the grocery? Kind of shy and retiring? That's how I think rutabagas look, a bit embarrassed and "pick something flashier" is the vibe I get from them. My friend (and dive shop customer) Merlyn's an enthusiastic gardener and he's now brought me two boxes of his homegrown veggies. This week's box had a rutabaga in it. It's not like other rutabagas I've seen. Those bashful, sorta brown, sorta pink softball-sized orbs are nothing to the robust, vivid brown and purple alien bowling ball behemoth in my kitchen. This thing is still growing! There're a couple green sprigs left on the top that have perked up and gotten a bit longer since it arrived. I think it'd be a good idea for both of us to be here when Durwood decides to cook the thing because I'm afraid it might just fight back. Merlyn was in the store yesterday and I asked him if he irradiated the seeds. He and his wife laughed and said, "that's one of the small ones." One of the small ones?!?? I'd donate it to a food bank but I'm not sure I want to inflict an obviously sentient vegetable on some unsuspecting poor person. I'll keep you posted.

November 18--Alvin Langdon Coburn, The Octopus. Jillian and Max loved the octopus in all seasons. They ran up the arm across the street from their door, around the center, and back down the next arm. Every day they ran the octopus--up, around, down--all the while laughing and dodging pedestrians. They didn't care if it was rainy or frigid or so hot you could fry eggs on the pavement,they loved to run. Jillian loved the autumn when the skies were so blue day after day and the sharp wind hurried the leaves along in skeins across the paths. Max like winter with its snow and ice for sliding on. They ran after school when the dusk gathered in the corners. The doorman of their building, Raphael, kept an eye on them most days. In that particular winter he wasn't the only one.

The sun's almost up and I need more coffee. Bye!
--Barbara

Friday, November 18, 2011

I'm Having the Blahs...

...and I don't like it one bit. I'm sure you're saying to yourself "you goofball, your mom just died, you're supposed to be sad" but this isn't grief, it's the blahs. I know the difference. I put one of the pictures I took when I was up at The Clearing a couple weekends ago on here to remind me that there's a lot of un-blah things in my life and I'm wearing my Copper Harbor hoodie, copper earrings bought in Calumet and some socks I knit myself (they don't match, in case you're wondering) to remind me all day that I am the most un-blah woman I know and that I should pull myself up by my (red lace) bra straps and get over myself. I ordered the coolest thing from the NaNoWriMo office week before last and it came yesterday. It looks like one of those yellow "Livestrong" bracelets that everyone's been wearing for a while, but it says "My Novel" on it and the back is thicker because there's a built-in jump drive in there. How cool is that? I. Love. It. Couldn't wait for it to arrive. So in the winter when I'm ready to sit down and pound out the words of the story that's scrabbling to get told, I'll have somewhere extra cool to put it. Squee! (I am a total dork--but telling you about the bracelet has lifted quite a bit of the blahs so being a dork is good.)

November 17--Amadeo Modigliani, Jeanne Hebuterne. It was hot and still that summer she was pregnant. No matter that all the windows were flung as wide open as possible no cooling breeze ventured in. Jean nearly went mad in July. Matt was gone on a business trip. He'd call to complain about the clients and the meetings, and say how much he missed her. All she could think of was air-conditioned hotel rooms and eating out three times a day. She would lie in the shade of the wide porch with a stack of library mystery novels on the old table beside the wicker chaise and read the days away. She made endless pitchers of sun tea and she ate so much orange Jell-O with mandarin oranges in it she wouldn't have been surprised if their baby was born orange instead of pink. Oscar Mason who lived up the road told all his cronies at the diner that he thought Jean had taken to living out on that porch because no matter what time of the day or night he went by she was always out there.

And now it's time for me to dash off to work (ugh) so that Mrs. Boss can go off diving in Utila, Honduras for a week. *sigh* I'll be the one working.
--Barbara

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Rutabaga That Ate Green Bay

One of our customers, an enthusiastic gardener, stopped in yesterday with a second box of veggies for me. He brought leeks, carrots, apples, squash, and a rutabaga. I thought when he told me what was in the box that maybe one rutabaga wasn't enough for a meal. I was wrong. So wrong. I think Durwood might have swooned a bit when I hefted it out of the box to show him, but he's gamely making plans to subdue it for our table. We've agreed that the next batch of soup will be Jamaican Pumpkin Soup. It is to die for. Makes me want to eat my chicken soup faster.






I've been knitting a bit. I finished the Fast & Fearless Fingerless Mitt #1 and immediately cast on Mitt #2. The first one I made on double points so I transferred the second one onto a long circular needle to see which one I like better for making mitts. I've only done a row or two on the circ so I can't be sure but I'm thinking I'm liking the DPNs better.











It was sunny and beautiful when I crossed the bridge toward work this morning so I snapped a photo as I crossed the bridge. I love sunny and clear days like today, it's pretty darned cold and windy though. I'm not as much of a fan of that.

Ack! Snowflakes!

There we sat minding our business this sunny morning and snowflakes, yes, SNOWFLAKES came tumbling out of the sky. They were riding the sharp, cold wind in the sunshine and they weren't melting when they landed. I saw 'em. They landed on the patio and just stayed there. No, no, no, no, NO. Not time for snowflakes. Not yet. I have too much to do within the next two weeks for snow to come and stay. After that, well, I'll deal but not in November, no sirree bob. I went to Mom's bank and closed out her accounts this morning. I transferred all the money left in them to the estate account I set up at the bank closer to my house so now it's all in one place and if someone tries to deposit or withdraw from them they're no longer there. Like I said, things are moving along. I got about 1/4 of the doll room boxes taped and marked last night. That room is like quicksand; I get in there and get sucked into doing other things. Last night I first made certain that I had gathered all the feet and tools and manuals for each of the sewing machines, then I got out the tape and the big marker and started at the top left of the first shelving unit. My idea worked rather well. I checked inside the box, moving any pattern to the bottom so it can be seen through the plastic, then I taped around and around so it can't be opened and marked a price on the tape in 2 places. There's just too much stuff and it's mostly jumbled together to allow people to pick and choose. We'd be there for a year just getting it organized. This way the boxes are reasonably priced for their size and contents so that, hopefully, most of it will sell. If not, somebody's getting a huge donation. It's the only way. Yesterday I made sure to cancel all the magazine subscriptions Mom had (that I've found so far anyway), and there were a bazillion, mostly food mags. Already I've gotten 3 refund checks from publishers (over $100!) to put into the estate account. You just never think of how much you spend on stuff like that, do you? It's very relaxing being at work these days. Not because there're no customers, there are a few, but because I can't do estate work here. I can only post to the blogs or knit while listening to my iPod. Ahhh.





November 16--Central Asia, Shaft-Hole Axe Head with Bird-Headed Demon, Boar, and Winged Dragon. Karak kept one pair of eyes on the huge boar coming at him from the left. He could smell the swamp and see the greenish cast to the bristles that covered the grunting wild pig. The creature made low grunting sounds as it pushed through the rushes. Right before his other pair of eyes a winged dragon landed near the path and exhaled a plume of smoke.






Dagnabbit! I was rolling, all ready to keep going but I fell asleep. Next time.



--Barbara

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

So Tired I Couldn't Sleep

That was me last night. I hardly ever have nights like that so it was doubly frustrating but Durwood's a good snuggler and that helped me settle down. I took the doll shoes, socks, and hats out to the doll lady who wouldn't buy them (she's downsizing too) but kept them to sell to her students and at 2 doll shows in April and June on our behalf. I hadn't even counted the stuff but people around here are usually honest to a fault so I'm not too worried. She offered to do the same with all of Mom's patterns so I'll load those up on Sunday when I have Durwood's big van, AND the lady who came on Saturday to give me some pricing help called last night to say she's got people interested in both sewing machines and a bunch of the bins of fabric. Hoo! Ray! (I'm naming my next child Gail in her honor.) They're willing to come up on Sunday to get the stuff so it won't even make it to the estate sale the next weekend. We're getting there, Aunt B, don't you worry about us. I even found time to get my nails done, play with Porter for an hour, and to rake a few leaves so I did some stuff for ME too. After supper I made a big pot of chicken vegetable soup for work lunches this week and next. I'll go over to the apartment tonight and start taping boxes shut in the doll room. I want to get a jump on Sunday's chores.

November 15--Paul Poiret, Textile Sample. She couldn't keep her hands off the silk satin of the lining. It was the softest thing she'd ever touched. She smoothed her fingertips across it and her eyes half closed with the sheer sensuality of it. She felt the weave as if it were a More Code message aimed only at her. Her eyes closed as she gave all her sensory attention to the three fingertips of her right hand. The whole world was reduced to the richness of the silk and the electricity it generated along her nerve endings. Back and forth, back and forth her fingertips barely grazed the fabric but the thrill of it raised goosebumps up her arms and she felt her nipples harden and strain in the confines of her bra. Outside sounds receded as her breathing deepened. A shudder ran down her spine and her knees shook.

Whoever she is, she's sure having a moment, isn't she? The cold has come in on the knife edges of the wind. I'm dressing in layers today--and where did I put all my pashminas? Stay warm.
--Barbara

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A Long List of Errands

marks my Tuesday this week. First I'm off to the bank to do estate stuff and cash my beloved paycheck. Then I'll visit the Dollar Store to get some Glade and after that I'll get my scraggly nails done by either Kim or Tuyn at the nail salon. I'll visit my friend Skully to see how she's feeling and gift her with Mom's big box of ribbon embroidery books and supplies because I know she likes to do that sort of stuff, maybe stop and play with Porter the grand-dog for a while and let Henny peck my newly painted nails (she loves my red nails, or maybe she hates them, but she pecks at them and I prefer to believe it's love), and then go to the DOLL ROOM to get a start on taping boxes shut and making prices on them. Hmm, maybe I'll go there sooner and load up the doll shoes, socks, and hats, then stop by the doll store on the east side to see if she'd like to buy them off us and save us the hassle of trying to sell them. Better call first. Dang it, another estate thought just zoomed through my mind and I wasn't fast enough to catch it. Oh well. Ah, got it. I need to stop at an office store to get some price tags for next Sunday. This afternoon or evening I want to whip up a cauldron of chicken soup for work lunches this week and next because I have to work lots of days and need something nutritious and delicious and not off-plan. I've got a big bag of frozen peaches, mangoes, pineapple and strawberries so I can defrost those for lunchtime fruit. Mmm, soup and fruit. What's not to love?

November 4--Edgar Degas, The Rehearsal Onstage. The floor was gritty with rosin and it crunched. LaBelle stood still and pale holding her last pose while the final notes quivered in the chilly air. A pair of hands clapped once startling her out of her concentration. She shuddered but let herself down off en pointe, her heels kissing like grainy floorboards like feathers. The chatter of the chorus girls and boys flowed around her as she drew a shawl gray like cobwebs across her shoulders. She was an oasis of dignity and calm in the center of the whirlwind of the stage.

And that's when the lines went all wonky and I dropped off to sleep. That Degas and his ballerinas. He had a mania for them, didn't he? I watched a series on the Impressionists from Netflix and really enjoyed seeing them as actual men instead of icons or shadowy figures lurking behind their paintings. Imagination is a wonderful thing, isn't it? Mine keeps me entertained all the time.
--Barbara

Monday, November 14, 2011

Monday, Payday

I always look forward to going to work on Mondays because Monday is payday at the dive shop. I love pulling the cash out of the safe and having that little check in there too. I sign my timecard, write a new one for the week, and then tuck my paycheck into my wallet. Ahhh, what a lovely feeling. About one-third of my pay goes into the grocery wallet on the kitchen shelf, $50 of it goes into my stash to pay for weeks at The Clearing or weekend retreats with friends, and the rest is mineminemine to do with what I will. I can buy yarn or fabric or books or kites or lunch or... or whatever I want. Liberating, that's what that is. I'm trying not to buy yarn this year because I have a metric crapload of the stuff down in the basement. Bringing home stuff from Mom's (sewing stuff like thread and a bit of this and that which added up to another metric crapload) has shown me that I have to stop being sentimental and sell Mom's stuff and also that I need to stop, dead stop, buying anything until I get some of the fabric and yarn down there sewn and knitted/crocheted up. Last night we took DS & DIL1 out for supper to celebrate his 33rd birthday and to thank them both for all their help with Mom's funeral and the attendant activities, then we retired to their place for cake. Mmm, steak followed by carrot cake. It was an excellent night. DD & DIL2, you're next, just as soon as you get here next month. This is not a threat, it's a promise.

November 13--Edmund C. Coates, Bay and Harbor View. "Sailing, sailing over the bounding main..." Mark's voice boomed with joy in the early morning light. From the back seat stereo roans greeted his song. "Dad, don't sing," Avery said with all the pain a thirteen year old can put in his voice. "Yeah, Dad," ten year old Lisa said, "I'm sleeping." Just then the car floated over a small hill and the kids gasped and giggled at the momentary weightless thrill. Thank god they're not too jaded and sophisticated to enjoy a good tummy tickle, Mark thought. The morning sun glinted on the chop of the bay between the small harbor of Bay Ridge and Bedlow Island a half mile offshore. The morning was brightening fast and he couldn't wait to get his ketch rigged and out on the water. Even if the kids grumbled about it he knew they liked to sail with him.

Ooh, everything's too happy and going too well. I feel a storm coming on. Have a day.
--Barbara

A Bit of Knitting

I'm telling you (and I know I keep harping on this but it's consuming all my available personal RAM) but I'm too driven to get thorugh all of Mom's stuff and have a sale before the end of November so we don't have to pay another month's rent. I did make an awesome discovery the other day in the doll room. I found Mom's knitting basket. I remember being pretty small, about 10 years old, and this basket sat on the floor next to her place on the couch and held her knitting and her latest romance novel. Now it's holding my knitting. No novel because mine lives either on the counter next to the potty or on my nightstand.






I found a pattern for some bulky yarn fingerless mitts and decided that I need another pair. So I dug up a couple of skeins of worsted that I bought at a Fiber Fest in Valders last November. They're the undyed wool of a "black" sheep. I put the word "black" in quotes because the sun bleaches the wool and it's really dark, walnut brown, but I like it anyway. I'm holding it double and it's knitting up beautifully, crisp and defined stitches and it feels great. I can't wait to finish them. Here's some of the sheep that the wool came from and here's the mitt so far.




Last night we took DS & DIL1 out to supper at the Prime Quarter Steak House for DS's 33rd birthday and to thank them for all their help during the funeral. We had a great time. Mmm, steak.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Writing Promptly



It was a little difficult to get my brain wrestled back into the swing of nightly writing. I've been feeling like I was hit over the head with a 2 X 4 for the last 3 weeks, maybe more since Mom was in the hospital for a week before she went to rehab where she passed away after 5 days. So it's been more like 5 weeks that I've been in the middle of this particular whirlwind. Today TW, AJ, and I met at Mom's and pulled out all the things in cupboards, closets, under beds, and anywhere else she hid, uh, stored things. We took some tables in to set things out and next Sunday we plan to finish up sorting and price things, then we'll be ready to have an Estate Sale the weekend after Thanksgiving so that we'll attract deer hunting widows. That was AJ's idea. Pretty good, eh? Look! I cleaned out the doll room closet! It's a small triumph but very appreciated.

November 12--Edmund C. Coates, Bay and Harbor of New York from Bedlow's Island. Sarah had been down to the harbor many times. She loved the noise and the sounds of so many voices from so many countries. The ships sailing in or out brought spices and goods from all over the globe. She had been sent into town to deliver a dress order for her mistress. That errand had been swiftly done, and she had slipped down two blocks from Mrs. Parkins' Dress Shop to breathe in the salty air and to dream of one day seeing other parts of the world.

See? Not exactly a rip-roaring return to the page but a return nevertheless.
--Barbara

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Cool Stuff I Buy-ed

I was determined not to spend much time not at The Clearing last week or to spend too much moola if we did indulge in a little retail therapy. I did okay.








On the way up we stopped in Sturgeon Bay at a quilt shop that Skully knew of. I was fairly restrained. She had her fat quarters priced "buy 3, get 1 free" so I found 4 that I especially liked. Don't you like the 60s vibe they give off? And I love the bright orange with the prints.



Then I
cruised the $1 piles and found these striped ones and one little print. I love the prints.



We went next door to
the corner bar for burgers and fries (photo in previous post) and then continued on our way.



On Friday Skully and Cookie wanted to go to a Sister Bay quilt store but I stayed at The Clearing and took a walk. Good girl, me.










On Saturday Cookie said she wanted to go to Fish Creek to Red Sock Yarns and then we'd have lunch so I went too. I mostly bought this single skein of yarn to be polite. I do like the colors and don't have any like it. It'll make a good sock.



Then they insisted on going back to the quilt shop because the lady was a hoot. Well, she wasn't on her game on Saturday like she'd been
on Friday. Her husband was in the shop "helping" and they were bickering. I don't like bickering so I found a few fabrics, had her cut me fat quarters of each, and I lit out for the quiet of the parking lot.






We had the most delicious burgers and fries at Northern Grill and went back to the peace of The Clearing where we walked in the cold wind and Skully and I tried out the new stargazing circle. It worked great. (It was dark then. Even I know that the stars aren't out in the daylight.)

Oh, Kids...



This has been one helluva three weeks. Three weeks ago today Mom died, since then I have been living in the center of a whirlwind of funeral preparations, legal papers, and the need to clear out her apartment before December 1 (so we don't have to pay another month's rent). I've been slaving away in the "doll room." I've taken some stuff home, some for DD, some, I realized today when DS helped me haul stuff, that I really don't need. I realized that I've been reflexively thinking "oh this reminds me of Mom" and then putting it in my take-home pile. A lady who knew Mom from her doll making days met me there this morning and she helped me look at all the things with a more objective eye and made some suggestions about how to deal with the avalanche that is the "doll room." Tomorrow TW and AJ and I will meet at Mom's at 10 AM to empty cupboards, etc., make inventories, and set things out for an estate sale at the end of the month. The month is moving faster than I am and I'm hoping that the three of us together can get a lot done and a lot decided. Keep your fingers crossed.

As you have probably surmised, I am not managing to find any spare brain cells to write a novel this month. I've decided to take myself off the hook and resume my nightly prompt writing. Sayonara for today.
--Barbara

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Arrrrgh!





See this? It was raining and blowing to beat the band this morning,






then THIS!




OMG, it's not even into the double digits of dates in November. It's not supposed to stick and it's melting immediately on the pavement, but, yup, it's really snow. Ack.




In estate news, I finished up sewing the cheerleader outfit and got her all dressed up. Yesterday the lady came to pick her up and paid the estate $75. That'll help.



We've gotten all sorts of forms to fill out and send back so that we'll get Mom's insurance, etc. so that we can settle all the bills. Slowly but surely we're moving forward and getting things done. Now I'd rather have a bulldozer to clear out the apartment instead of a flamethrower. This is better.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Weekend Runaway



Last Thursday Cookie, Skully, and I ran away to The Clearing for a little self-directed retreat. They brought their sewing machines and their knitting. I brought my writing and my knitting. They sewed, I wrote, we all knitted. We ate too much (brought out own food) and walked in the woods. It was sunny and cool and breezy. A perfect November weekend and the perfect get-away antidote to the previous two sad and busy weeks. Not that I'm not still sad or don't have a boatload of things still to do, but that little break of needing to only think of myself was most refreshing. Most. Here's some scenery pictures and one of the reading nook in my room. I stayed on the loft bedroom and had a breathtaking view of the bay. I was smart enough to be on the business end of the camera. Although I suspect that at least one of the others had her own camera.


Monday, November 7, 2011

Day 6--11,705 words




There's no internet at The Clearing so I was unable to post while I was there. I didn't miss it. I didn't miss the whirlwind of things needing to be done to settle Mom's estate. I didn't miss the phone ringing and the piles of things needing to be sorted. For four days I thought only of myself. I wrote when I wanted to. I took a walk when I needed too. I overate. I laughed at silly remarks that Cookie or Skully made. I knitted a bit. I stared off into space. It was restful and oh so necessary. I'm excited that Celia who arrived in the September 25th prompt has proved to be the catalyst that ties together a story idea that's been scratching at me for about 3 years. I had all these characters and the settings, a detecdtive and a villian, a retired British spy and his wife, a fisherman and a Rastafarian, even a murder but I could never figure out a way to butt them togehrer to make a story. Celia is the thread that ties them all together. With Celia in the picture they all make sense. Whew.


November 6--Celia Stevens is a white female aged 48 with brown eyes and fine dark brown hair that she wears cut short for convenience. She has pale skin and sunburns easily even though she loves to spend a lot of time outdoors. She walks a few miles a day year round, bikes, and gardens. She wears sunscreen and broad brimmed hats to protect her skin but can’t bring herself to give up wearing shorts and tank tops in the summer. Her style is casual, wearing khakis, shorts, and white tee shirts; for work she wears “good” jeans and sweaters in winter and cotton shirts in summer. She’s usually in tennis shoes or tennis like shoes for comfort, not really interested in stylish shoes. When she’s nervous she clasps her hands together, what Ann calls “flap hands.” Celia is friendly, has never met a stranger, exhibits a dry and sharp sense of humor, is insightful about people and their motives, and is a good judge of character. She grew up in an averagely happy middle class family in Middle America and still lives in the same Wisconsin town she grew up in. She was a fat kid and teen but is now just a bit overweight at five feet five inches tall and weighs one hundred sixty five pounds. Despite her outgoing manner Celia is unsure of herself in new situations and thinks people only tolerate her. Even though she has had many examples of having insight into people she doesn’t really trust her gut. If she doesn’t stop and think too much, she’s fine but if she takes time to consider she hesitates and can lose an opportunity to meet someone she would like or have a job opportunity she should not pass up. She has recently lost her job due to the sagging economy and her fiancĂ© left her for a younger slimmer woman. She had booked and paid for this scuba diving trip to Bonaire more than a year ago so has come because it’s cheaper to take it than lose it and pay change fees. She has rented an efficiency apartment with an included Honda pickup truck and prepaid a dive package with both escorted boat dives and unlimited shore dives. Since she’s a single she does mostly boat dives. On one of them she spies something shiny wedged in the reef at around one hundred feet and can not resist swimming down to see what it is. The dive master sees her and waves her back up to join the group. She manages to slip the gold object into her buoyancy jacket’s pocket and rejoins the other divers. On board the dive boat she meets Jack and Mona an unmarried couple and they hit it off. Jack’s a wealthy man from Indiana who owned a chain of dry cleaners; Mona is his mistress who he is getting tired of. Mona and Celia become fast friends. Somehow bad men (Manning?) find out that Celia found gold and are after it. She eludes them a few times and arranges to leave the island but an oncoming storm grounds all the flights and she is forced to remain. She has no one to rely on since the bad man is also leading Jack on a merry chase trying to con him out of a big chunk of his wealth.


There you have a taste of me talking to myself on the computer, or the Alphasmart working my way through the story and weaving the new into the old. I'm very excited about it.

--Barbara

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Day 1--2,622 words

I meant to post this last night so that I'd post Day 1's output on Day 1, but after supper I went to Mom's to find all the parts and sew on the American Girl doll cheerleader outfit and lost track of time. It took me over an hour of searching and then struggling to make an unfamiliar sewing machine do what I wanted it to do to realize that I could take the whole kit and kaboodle to my house where there's a sewing machine that I do know how to make do what I want it to. D'oh. Tonight I'm baking bread for my retreat this weekend and can sew or write (if I don't get far at work today) while it's in the oven. Good thinking, Barbara. My brain's still off somewhere trying to process the fact that I'm now an orphan.

November 1--(working title) Underwater Gold. Manning had arrived on the island eight years earlier with fifty bucks in his pocket and a sinking boat under him. The old Tina Marie, he thought with a smile. He had won her in a poker game in Tortola a month before from a guy, whose ownership of the boat was, let us be generous and say... doubtful. The papers the old pirate handed over after the game looked suspiciously well aged and soiled, almost as if someone had scuffed them across the deck after cleaning fish and then drove over them a few times in a gravel lot. But Manning was nothing if not an opportunist so he tipped the old pirate a salute, slung his duffel aboard, siphoned a bit of gas out of the dingy of the dark yacht tied up alongside, and sailed away before the harbor awoke. He spent the next month working his way south along the string of pearls that was the Caribbean. He would stop in at small islands for food because everyone knows that poor people will always feed you and at big islands for fuel because it is easy to get lost in the confusion of a busy marina and score a tank of gas even if you have to work a day for it. Manning tried never to have to work for his gas.

This week I'm doing character sketches and setting worksheets. I decided to follow First Draft in 30 Days to see if that helps me get to a finished manuscript faster or with fewer hiccups. If it'll only help me add conflict, big conflict, I'll be grateful. I'm too wussy with my characters, guess I have to stop thinking of them as me.
--Barbara

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

NaNoWriMo Starts Today

Which means my daily nighttime writing will be preempted by needing to hit my 1,667 daily word count to reach the 50,000 word goal by November 30. Be prepared to be enthralled (or at least pretend to be). Yesterday it was so weird to be back at work and kind of a relief too. Not one customer came in, which meant I had all day to rip and re-knit a glove and watch Netflix videos. I am so relieved that Mrs. Boss doesn't mind if I work on crafts or watch videos as long as I get my work done first. Good boss, good job. I felt like I hadn't been there in 6 months instead of 8 or 9 days. Tonight after supper I need to go over to Mom's apartment and see if I can't finish the cheerleader doll outfit she promised to the Brown County Women's Assn. raffle/fundraiser. They're buying it and the estate needs the money so I'd better get a move on. Fortunately it's nearly done and Mom gave me strict orders on how to finish it before she died. I wonder why people hesitate to use the word "die" these days. It isn't any harsher than any other word for when people cease to live. I actually like the finality and lack of equivocation in the word. Mom died; she didn't pass, she didn't go to sleep, and she sure as hell didn't buy a farm. Saying that she's dead doesn't make it any realer or any harder to deal with the fact that my mom is not around to call me every day and annoy me and love me and think that I'm the best daughter on two legs (which I know isn't true because I'm selfish and the world's worst nurse) but I'm still going to miss that. Once I'm convinced that she's really dead, that is. It still hasn't sunk in.

October 31--Salvatore Ferragamo, Platform Sandal. Trudy looked at the shoes the bride, her sister Mai had chosen and her jaw dropped. It wasn't bad enough that Mai had picked the most hideous, loathsome, itchy, frou-frou bridesmaids' dresses in the whole world. No, she had to pick shoes guaranteed to twist ankles on a good day. They were cork and leather accidents waiting to happen. "How...?" Trudy said, "how did you...?" Mai interrupted. "I know." She picked up a shoe and caressed it. "I couldn't believe it either when it saw them. All six colors of the dresses plus gold and white and they're only $137.50 a pair." Mai sighed. "Everyone can afford a bargain like that." Trudy sighed too, thinking of all the extra shifts she'd have to work at Fred's Fine Diner & Lube Shop to pay for shoes she thought would break her legs.

Okay, that's just nuts. It's dreary and gray and it's supposed to rain today. Ugh.
--Barbara