Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Marl, Tree & Helix

Well it's the last day of January... and I'm not done with the Red Marl sweater which was one of my New Year's resolutions, to finish an OTN project each month. I have 6 more rows of Fair Isle (oh, I am soooo glad to be nearly done) and then the fronts around the neckline, and the sleeves of which I almost have the cuffs done. However, I am not disheartened. I have made good progress and practiced an increased (and almost unheard of) level of project monogamy. I will continue with this project until it is completed, and then I will move onto the next UFO in the queue. That is how this is going to go. I has spoken (as Mammy Yokum used to say, if you're old enough to have read L'il Abner in the funnies).

I am really enjoying watching the slow growth of my Maple Tree Scarf. It occurred to me if nex
t fall/winter are snowier than this winter has been so far the ends of my scarf with not look the same, not that I expect it to look the same or regular because the tree changes almost daily. The chunk of scarf with the white is from the time after it snowed when there was snow on the tree, but I looked at it and realized that it made it seem like it had snowed daily for days on end, so I decided to only carry the white when it's actively snowed on a day and that way the short white bits that arrive with the green variegated sock yarn that stands for the lichens and moss on the tree kind of speak to that little patch of snow caught in the crotch of the tree. In looking at the tree daily I have discovered a branch in the center of the tree that is black and patched with pinkish white. I assume it's dead and will come down in the next big storm but I love that I see it at all.

The Helix charity hat is an easy one to work on at Friday Night Knitting or when I knit
with a friend. You totally need to try knitting something using this one-row-stripe method. You knit along with one color and when you come to the next color you just drop one and pick up the other, no "pick up from below" or "twist together" to prevent a hole in your knitted fabric, just drop one and zoom off with the next one. It's fun and makes an interesting hat or sock or whatever your little heart desires.

Black Ice

Skully and I walked along a busy section of the trail that they keep free-ish of snow all winter only to find, quite by accident, the few patches of black ice. She found it the most, twice she lost her balance and went down on one knee. The first time wasn't so bad, the second time she skinned her knee. Ouch! Now she looks like we all did in grade school. I spent most of my childhood (in the days when little girls wore skirts) with bandages on my knees, didn't you? I wasn't much of an active playing kid (the neighbor kids called me "house plant" when we moved up here) but I still managed to fall and scrap my knees almost on a daily basis. I went back to Skully's house to visit more for a few minutes and look what she gave me. She made it. Isn't it pretty? I think it looks like amber. I love it. Thanks again, Skully. We had the basement guys here to give us an estimate on fixing the crack in the basement wall. We were surprised that fixing it from the inside is the recommended plan. We were sure they'd want to come in with a backhoe and make a mess of my fern bed and have to dig down, screw up the drain tile, and the attendant mess and cost. No, I mean COST. Turns out there's a kind of stuff they can put in the crack from the inside that will bond to the concrete and be a permanent fix, better than fixing it from the outside--and for less than a grand. I know! I nearly fainted. And they can have it done by the end of the week if we call today. Sheesh, totally unexpected news. Now, if the gutter & leaf protection people are having a mid-winter sale my life with be complete. *knock wood (or particle board covered with wood-grained Contact paper)* Time to get this posted and find some lunch.

January 30--Peter Bruegel the Elder, The Harvesters. It's the lowest kind of stoop-labor hand cutting wheat and bundling it into shocks that stand drying in the autumn sunshine. Around our part of the state, bands of migrants come to work the harvest. They camp down in the groves of trees by the river. Pa put up a few shelters so they'd have cover from the rain. I asked him why they didn't live in houses and he said they liked to live under the sky but that might have been a lie. I saw the looks on those kids' faces. I saw them work so hard for a bit of money and not have one minute of time to play all day. They spoke Mexican all the time and I didn't understand so I couldn't ask them to play. One or two of the men, the dads, they spoke some English so they did the business for the group.

I looked at the painting and thought of the migrant housing I saw when we'd drive up to Door County on the weekends when I was a kid in the mid-1960s. I always wondered what their lives were like.
--Barbara

Monday, January 30, 2012

Big Things Coming in Future. Only Matter of Time.

I ate the last fortune cookie last night and that was my fortune, verbatim. It's an excellent fortune, but I keep expecting to read "ugh" like some Hollywood Indian wrote it or Tarzan's reading it. Why are we so amused by bad English? Semi-bad English drives me nuts but horrible translations in instructions or things like this fortune amuse me no end. I got all the dirty dishes washed and dishwashered long before bedtime, and I even carried up a laundry basket so I can easily get all the special dishes back downstairs. I think I've got an empty bin down there that will hold all of it so next year I don't have to search here and there for the pieces and parts of Chinese New Year. We enjoyed patting ourselves on the back last night that it all came off well. Everyone seemed to have a good time. This morning I'm taking my car in to get its brain fixed so it stops tooting at random times and maybe the key fobs will work on the lock. I thought it might be foolish to spend that much money on a 2004 car but it runs well and doesn't have that many miles, barely over 100k. Although I did spot a red Honda HHR on the used car lot over on the corner. The sign said $9999, I mentioned it to Durwood and he wondered how much I can get for my car, but we need new gutters with leaf covers and there's a big crack in the foundation so those are two things we're better off fixing in the long run. Dang it. Maybe when we get that stuff fixed there'll still be a bit of $ left for that red car. *sigh* Such is life. And it's snowing. Not a lot, just enough to be annoying, but still, snowing on Monday? Really?

January 29--Peru, Figure Bottle. When I got back into my hotel room, after I took a cooling shower and put on fresh clothes, I took my little bottle out of the box. I sat looking into his wide black eyes ringed with red tears and I felt his sadness. I felt the fear that drew him into a ball and the sorrow that coursed through him. The Europeans had come and his people were dying. The diseases that they brought and the weapons that they carried were killing too many of his people. The ravens had flown away and taken the life-giving rain. The figure bore the sorrow of the Nazca like one of those chosen to the task by the gods. Pictures of the hardships brought by a combination of drought and the invasion of the Europeans into the mountains of Peru raced like a movie through my head as I sat with the figure. It was as if I had a psychic connection to the long-dead, man/boy whose image I held in my hand.

And on that creepy note I'm going to go read the paper, finish my coffee, eat cheerios with lots of fruit and go drop off my car. Durwood will take me to work and strand me there until 6 PM when he'll come and rescue me. My hero!
--Barbara

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Gung Hay Fat Choy!

Happy Chinese New Year! You missed it, you shoulda been here. We feasted and had a great afternoon. Naturally I was running behind so the table wasn't empty of daily crap, the tablecloth needed ironing, therefore the table wasn't set, and I didn't get the little zodiac animal figurines out until dessert. Oh well. When most of the dishes have to be made just before eating it's kind of a scramble, especially in our tiny kitchen, to get it all ready at the same time, but we managed. I had the soup finished and the rice ready to cook. We put DS's handmade dumplings into the oven to bake and also used the oven to keep things warm. Everything was delicious, the pickled veggies added a tiny bite of crunch and vinegar, and we had excellent fortunes all around. DIL1 & DS brought sorbets for dessert--mango and blood orange--could you die?? And we've got leftovers for supper tomorrow night. What's not to love?

January 28--Peru, Nazca, Figure Bottle. The little figure nestled right into my hand like it was made for it. Its knees were drawn up and it wore face paint like a child at a fair. I couldn't put it down or take my eyes off it. The rich red-brown of his skin and even the raven tattoos on its arms were oddly appealing. I held the small statue cupped in my hand. I paid for it but didn't want it in a bag. The shop owner rightly convinced me that I'd never get it home unbroken if I carried it. He was right, of course, but I had a hard time handing back my little bottle so that he could pack it.

At about midnight last night I realized that we didn't have teacups. This morning I went to Goodwill and scored 7 cups and 8 saucers. They're a little bigger than I wanted but aren't they awesome? They were ninety-nine cents a piece. Goodwill is the way to go for party dishes without breaking the budget. I'm going to go into the living room and zone out in front of the TV while Durwood watches the Pro Bowl in the kitchen. *yawn*
--Barbara

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Clean Up Day


Today is total clean up day at 1510 because we're hosting Family Supper tomorrow and we mostly have piling systems instead of filing systems. Durwood is the biggest offender because it doesn't irritate him like it does me, but I'm no slouch in the piling department. His solution was to leave a leaf in the table so he'd have more room to pile sh*t on. I'd like to make it eensy weensy so that we had to keep it clear to eat. Guess who wins. Not me, partly I suppose because I detest fighting and it would be a constant fight, plus I would be treating him like I'm his mother and I refuse to do that. Re. Fuse. Today I have to put most of my yarn toys away, carry down the small pile of ex-dresser drawer contents, carry down the 2 sandwich grills and the old VCR and jelly jars that have gathered by the basement door. I want to clear off the counters as much as I can so that there'll be room for recipe assembly and prep tomorrow. We're celebrating Chinese New Year tomorrow and will have pot stickers, Egg Flower Soup, Beef with Hoisin Sauce, Chicken with Almonds, Snow Peas and Shrimp, and Stir Fried Veggies, rice or noodles to serve them on, with coconut ice cream & fortune cookies for dessert. We're making some and the others are bringing some. Also today I want to make some quick pickled beets and see what other kinds of things I can pickle as accompaniments to our main dishes. Gung Hay Fat Choy! It should be fun. I'll give a report.

January 27--George Bellows, Tennis at Newport. "For God's sake, George, just serve the damned ball," Lisa said. It was supposed to be a friendly game of tennis but when Lisa and George are on the courts together it's outright war. Who had been in charge of setting up the matches? Oh, Margo, of course. She and Becket enjoy mixing up the most volatile pairings so they can lurk in the shade sipping their G&Ts and watching for blood. George and Lisa are merely their first victims of the weekend. Looks like Coochie and Edwin are over on the other court. How did she ever convince them to play each other? She has to know that Coochie was the one driving when Edwin's brother died.

And they're off. Imagine a weekend in the country with sworn enemies trapped together. Should be a classic Christie weekend. I'm off to commit a tidy, a very big tidy.
--Barbara

Friday, January 27, 2012

Red Shoes!

My new red shoes came today! I put them on as soon as I had the box open and I may not take them off until I go to bed tonight. Of course I'll take them off to do yoga tonight at Harmony Cafe during knitting but you know what I mean. I think they go very well with my blue jeans and mismatched socks, don't you?







In another box from the UPS guy were 3 more skeins of green yarn, one of sock yarn in variegated black and white, and some Susan Bates Velocity circular needles. I really like the feel of the joins and the tips are the level of pointy I enjoy, and they're very reasonable when I buy them from Yarnsupply.com. Plus there's a code on the packing list giving you 10% off on your next order. What's not to like about that?





I'm going to be using some of the green yarns I've been buying to represe
nt various leaf colors through the year of knitting my Maple Tree Scarf. I realized that I have very little green yarn so I went a little crazy this last week when I was down in the dumps and bought/ordered way too much. That's okay. I've got a little "mad" money stashed in a safe place for just these needs.

Much Better--Because It's Sunny

Sunny is always my salvation. I can be in the deepest, darkest funk and a sunny day will drag me up toward happy faster than you can say "Jack Robinson." When I first started paying attention to my tendency toward SAD I realized that even if I was sewing in the windowless basement I knew when the sun came out because I could feel my spirits lift. I know, it sounds ridiculous, but I swear it's true. There's a reason there's a "daylight" lamp next to the couch, the kitchen table, and my desk. They're cheap sanity. I cleaned out the top drawer of my dresser and, holy crap, did I have lots of stuff crammed in there. Reams of old greeting cards, old glasses, old watches, old wallets (no money, at least no American money to speak of, drat it), slips of paper with cryptic notes (Anne's odd pens) and old phone numbers on them, a radio that came over on the Ark and its camera friend, assorted split rings and beads for making stitch markers, Moose Poop incense, knee, ankle and wrist supports, a Harley-Davidson bandanna, and other detritus too insignificant to mention. Most of it's in the bin, some is in other places more suitable for its use, and some is going downstairs to live. I like this cleaning up thing. I find stuff and then have a tiny tidy space when I'm done. Just imagine, later in the year I'll have more tidy than messy!

Look what came! Look what just came! The red Dansko shoes I ordered on Tuesday came already. They're lovely and comfy and I'm wearing them right now. Red shoes, red shoes, I love red shoes. *pause for happy dancing*

January 26--Turkey, Tile. It was too frustrating to write or draw on the floor. Meemaw gave us paper and pencils and crayons but she wouldn't let us use a table. She was afraid we'd get marks on the tables, and we probably would have, but it was impossible to write or draw on the floor. The floor was covered with the most glorious white tiles with red, blue, and green floral decorations on them. They were beautiful. We all loved them, but they had bumps on them. The decorations weren't just paint or a decal pressed on the tile, it was dimensional. That made every pencil or crayon careen like a drunk as the implement lurched in our fingers.

Poor kid. I'm off to knit on my sweater front. I'm determined to get the last 10 rows of Fair Isle done today or tomorrow. Determined I tell you.
--Barbara

Thursday, January 26, 2012

I Caved

I meant to knit the Maple Tree Scarf out of stash yarn but I didn't have any summer leaves greens so ordered a few clearance skeins online (they'll arrive tomorrow) and then I stopped at Patti's Yarn Shop the other day and found a few more skeins of medium greens for leaves. So sue me, I bought it. I bought it all. And more needles will arrive with the yarn from Yarnmarket.com. As will a pair of red shoes from Zappos. Red Dansko shoes. It's a red shoes time for me. A girl can never have too many pairs of red shoes, you know.





I was totally wrong when I said the other day that I had only ten or so rows left on the Re
d Marl sweater front. I wasn't able to knit much at work this week so only a few rows were added and I added a few rows tonight and NOW I have ten rows remaining. I'm hoping to finish them this weekend. I did take the time to cast on both of the sleeves and have knitted on them some.






At Terri's last Saturday morning and at Mary's Tuesday afternoon I
worked on the Helix Spiral Hat for the Bay Lakes Knitting Guild outreach project. Knitting these jogless stripes is endlessly entertaining. It's like a slow motion magic trick.

Be-Fogged



It's just warm enough this morning that a light fog is making the world look like it needs its windows cleaned. I could stand to pack up my "himmie hoot" and a pair of shorts to fly off to some beach for a week or a year to get sand in my toes and my shorts for a while. To me that means escaping everything and being a whole 'nother person. We are all grown-up enough to know that our inner demons follow us, or more probably we drag them with us. Relationships and life's problems aren't rooted in our location but ourselves. Bah. I'd like to jack my head up and drive a whole other body under it so I could lose my arthritic knee and my flab, but despite watching every single episode of The Six-Million Dollar Man when I was a kid, that medical trick is still not doable. I emailed back and forth with my boon-companion Lala yesterday and feel some better. Whining a bit does indeed help. For a while there yesterday I was wondering if I could maybe indulge in a little recreational electroshock therapy to just kind of push my reset button but I suspect that's not the way to go. I'll keep on keeping on and vent when I need it. Thanks for all your kind thoughts and words.

January 25--Raphael, Madonna and Child Enthroned with Saints. At least they look like real people, Marcy thought as she prepared to clean the painting. It was quiet in this corner of the Met. Even the fans were silent today. She was glad to be in the basement. The old air conditioning in the building was unreliable which wasn't the best for the art upstairs but it stayed cool down here. She bent over her work table and adjusted the light angle so it didn't glare off the paint, then began working in the corner of the canvas with distilled water and a swab. The work was hypnotic--dip the swab, then gently rub in circles to release any soil, finally blot, and then endlessly repeat. She thought she heard a footstep out in the hall, the scuff of a leather sole on concrete but when she called out there was no answer. She turned back to her work and the fans came back on making her jump and sending a cold draft down her back. In a few minutes she became conscious of a density in the air of the room as if the oxygen had been drawn out. Her knees weakened and she would have fallen if there hadn't been a pair of strong hands that caught her under the arms and lowered her gently to the floor.



Make your corner of the world bright today. I'm going to do my damnedest in mine.

--Barbara

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Low Days

I'm in a funk. I've been in a funk for a while. Is it the midwinter blahs? Probably not because it's not midwinter yet. Is it cabin fever? Probably not because I'm not a "stay at home even when it's cold" kind of girl. It might be grief I'm running from by keeping frantically busy. Could be that. I'm frustrated and irritated and morose--and I freaking hate it. I hate the way I feel. I hate that I sneak around eating all manner of bad things that negate any smart eating or exercise I do. (And who exactly do I think I'm cheating on??? Myself, that's who.) I want to have a running, stomping, screaming fit all over the place but I'm too repressed to do that. (Yeah, I find that hard to believe too.) So I think I'm going to stop. Stop doing and going and meeting, all the things that I do to get out of the house and out of my head. I'll still go knitting on Friday nights and do yoga with Mardi then. I'll still walk with Skully on Tuesdays and Fridays. And I'll still write before bed and post here the next day. But I need to stop, sit still, and listen to my thoughts and my heart. I need to stop shoulds-ing myself into a blur. I'm tired and I'm sad and I'm tired of feeling this way. (Sorry to be such a downer today but I'm hoping it helps to put it down in black and white, hoping that acknowledging how I'm feeling instead of denying it will help it GO AWAY so I can get back to being me.)



January 24--Greek, Earrings with Disk and Boat-Shaped Pendant. Pia hated the gold betrothal earrings. "They're too heavy," she said. "They're so heavy they'll stretch my ear lobes until they hand below my chin." Her mother touched her own earlobes where her own betrothal earrings hung. They were gold but nowhere near as ornate as Pia's were. Adis' father owned most of the land on this side of the mountains. Pia was lucky to be marrying into such a wealthy family. Pia stood at the mirror with tears streaking her clear skin. "They feel like anchors, like great weights bearing me down under Mrs. Kondoladis' thumb."


And that's when I fell asleep, just after I managed to put my glasses and notebook on the nightstand. It's a tired time of year.

--Barbara

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Cow Shoes!


I went to try on some Dansko shoes this morning to see what size I need and look what I found in the "As-Is" pile--cow shoes! They're going to take some getting used to because the soles are wood or some kind of resin but I like them and I'm tired of always wearing sensible shoes. Skully took me along to walk at the new Croc Center where she's a member, she had a guest pass. We walked 2 miles on the track (in our sensible shoes) and then did a circuit on the resistance machines. It was fun but too far from home for me to feel like I'd use it enough for the membership fee, which is very reasonable. Our street is sheer ice, well, not a total sheet of ice, but slush and ice. It sounds like cars are crunching rocks when they drive by and it was a trick to walk from my car parked at the curb around to the cleared off driveway. I had a vision of slipping and sliding all the way down the hill. And you'd better bet I remembered to turn my wheels into the hill when I parked.

January 23--Paul Gauguin, Ia Orana Maria. Liam ran up from the beach, his catch still wriggling on his spear. He laughed when our cook Maria took it from him. She told him that one day she'd have Phillip teach him to clean his supper like Tahitian boys. "I'm a Tahitian boy," he said. I knew that she shook her head as she lay the fish on the cleaning table out back by the shed. "You might live in Tahiti, Liam, but you're still an American boy." He'd come to find me then, his eyes low and his mouth sad. "When will I get to be a Tahitian boy, mama?" I'd pulled his small wet body onto my lap and stroked his head. "You may never get to be a Tahitian but you can live like one." So we strung up a hammock for him to sleep in, got him some lava lavas to wear, and ate a lot of fruit and fish. In other words, just what we'd have done anyway.

That's it for me today, kids.
--Barbara

Monday, January 23, 2012

Weekly Progress Report

I've been doing pretty well this week. I'm within about a dozen rows of the end of the Fair Isle part of the front of the Red Marl sweater so I wound up four more skeins of red to cast on the sleeves. I am going to knit them both at the same time for expediency and to make them the same.









I ended up frogging the charity hat I'd finished and cast on the pattern I
got with the yarn at Knitting Guild. Still not feeling it. I may end up frogging this beginning and falling back on Crazy Aunt Purl's Brangelina Hat pattern. And what I did with my Bryspun US10 DPNs I do not know.






I started the spiral stripes of charity hat #2 yesterday at Terri's. It's hard to see the green and brown stripes but I can tell I'm going to like this hat.













Week three of the Maple Tree Scarf is done. I sure like how it looks.







It's dangerous for me to go to JoAnn's with a "20% off your total purchase" coupon. I found the book I was looking for, but also allowed quite a bit of fabric to leap into my cart. Good thing there's stash money. Well, good thing there was stash money.

RAIN! Freezing Rain!!!

Ye gods, it's going to be "interesting" on the roads today. I'll either sit twiddling my knitting all day or I'll be so busy I don't get a stitch knit. Coming home once it cools off later should be an adventure too. Lord love us, we're in for it today. I took a little break to shower--and now it's snowing like it means business. Holy shit, I'm in for a long day and an exciting ride to work and home. I got all my "to do"s checked off yesterday so I had nice fresh cocoa butter & aloe cream to put on my face after my shower and yummy chicken soup chock full of veggies for my lunch for the next 2 weeks. I package it all up and put half in the dive shop's fridge so it stays fresher. I'm so smart. And there's no one to steal my lunches because Mrs. Boss doesn't like cabbage and I usually put some in. Pretty smart, eh? I'd better leave a little early so here's a bit of story for your reading enjoyment.

January 22--Iran, Storage Jar. "Don't drop the damned thing," Merle said, "you paid too much so we might as well get use out of it before some fool kid breaks it." Arletta frowned and gritter her teeth but she kept her tongue in her mouth. She'd had her eye on the ceramic grain jar all day at the flea market. She knew better than to buy anything like that on her first go-round. She looked it over, saw the price, let the geezer tell her how it had belonged to the Shah of Iran and was smuggled over here, blah, blah di blah. Arletta let his words wash over her as she examined the rest of the items he had. Merle had traded war stories and terrorist stories with the guy as if the two coots in overalls had a lot of experience with radicals. She bought a few items for their granddaughter's new apartment from other vendors and when they were leaving she saw that the jar was still there. She talked the guy down to thirty-seven-fifty from fifty bucks. She didn't think that was too much for something this big and this pretty.

I kinda like Merle and Arletta. I like the flea market coot too (he needs a name). Maybe I'll resurrect them and explore their story. Off to slide to work. Wish me luck!
--Barbara Sue

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Resolution Progress--See, DD, cool, huh?

After spending 6 crazy weeks going through Mom's stuff, making decisions about what to keep, what to sell, what to donate, and what to toss, I resolved not to leave such a huge job for my beloved children and their spouses. The job at Mom's was complete on December 2 so that gave me a month to mull over how to attack Durwood and my house full of stuff. I got an inkling of how to handle a big, intimidating job while working to insert all the family pictures onto shelves until TW, AJ, and I can get together to go through them. *light bulb moment* I did a little at a time. Didn't exhaust myself with trying to wrap my head around the whole job, I just looked at about 6 linear feet and dealt with that from rafters to floor. I took the last week of 2011 and the first week of 2012 and made a tidy in the sewing/yarn area so I could use the expanse of floor and the lovely cutting table I kept from Mom's as a sorting and staging area, making one pile of trash and another of donations, keeps, of course, go back onto the shelves or into bins. I've realized that Tuesday's the best day for it because it's trash night so I can haul up the bags of trash, not letting them pile up either, and then carrying up the boxes and bags of donations for Goodwill, packing them into the capacious back of Durwood's van which I then borrow on Friday to make the donation and collect the receipt.

I started under the stairs and am moving around one section at a time. First came the liquor cupboard because t
here were boxes and bins of bathroom and linen closet things that moved from Liberty St. here 9 years ago and were not touched since.






Then the scullery shelves got it. Pots and pans, small appliances, the bin of kitchen gadgets (Durwood's beloved gadgets) got gone through, sorted and rearranged. Look at that open space!





I turned the corn
er and arranged the pantry shelves and the canned goods shelves below them. Outdated things were tossed, jars washed, and readied for new canning adventures.








Last Tuesday I worked the paper plates, disposable food containers, and all the bags and wraps from Mom's onto the shelves across from the washer. Below those shelves were 3 bins of old dive gear, most of which got tossed but one bin went to the dive shop to see if any hoses, etc. could be salvaged. Now the sauerkraut-making heirlooms live down there, ready to spring into action next fall because we're out of homemade kraut. Out! And we can't have that, can we?


I have a staging area that holds empty bins and boxes and the overflow yarn & fabric bins; and the things, like the nativity set, that were stored way apart from the other holiday things are kind of piling up in another area. But I suspect that by the time I get there I'll have opened up space to start working things in and getting it off the floor.

I'm enjoying doing this just a bit every week, one day's endurable and not overwhelming. I'm looking forward to getting the basement done (so we can really use the woodworking tools and build stuff!) and moving upstairs. I can't wait to see what's hiding in the depths of the front closet. I haven't seen most of that stuff since we moved.

I Have a Pet Dragon

No, really I do. See?

To
morrow is Chinese New Year, the year of the Dragon. We're hosting Family Supper this month so we're having Chinese and I needed a centerpiece so I decided to get a Beta fish, especially since I ran across the vase/bowl and colored glass pebbles, net and scrub brush downstairs when I was cleaning out under the stairs. (sorry for the long sentence, i put in a few commas so you can catch your breath.) We were trying to think of a good name for him and Dragon seems right since it's the "Year of the". He'll make an excellent centerpiece with all the little zodiac animal statues arrayed around him. Next Sunday we'll sit down to a nice supper together and celebrate our new year of prosperity and happiness. (gotta get to the bank for gold dollar coins [the Sacajawea ones, right?] to be lucky money) Today I need to make a pot of chicken veggie soup for work lunches and I want to brew up a batch of cocoa butter cream for my winter dry skin. For the first time in years I'm nearly out of lotion. Gotta fix that. Better get a move on.

January 22--Central Iran, Storage Jar Decorated with Mountain Goats. Cece is little so she can hide in the big jar with the goat on it. Mama and Pa don't like it when we play with that jar but it's the perfect place to hide when you're too little to find a good hiding place all by yourself. Cece's good at hiding, she stays real still if she has Andrew Bear with her. Around Christmas Cece and Andrew fell asleep and didn't come out when Matt shouted "all in free." Lucy and Mama called and called for her. The rest of us had gone out to sled down Fireman's Hill and forgot about Cece in the jar. Mama called for help and Mr. Write the fire chief came out to find Matt and me. "Did she look in the goat jar?" Matt asked Mr. Write. The fireman asked Mama and we were all punished when we got home for playing with that old jar and for leaving the baby in there alone. I got to spend an extra hour in the corner for saying that she wasn't alone, Andrew Bear was in there with her.


No fair at all. Ya know what else is no fair? Three months ago today Mom died. That's unfair, especially when she promised Colton she'd live to be a hundred. Nice moves, Mom, disappointing a kid. C U.
--Barbara

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Hawk Buffet


Sometimes I joke that we're not feeding birds exactly, it's more like we've set up a hawk buffet, and the other day Durwood got photographic proof. He said that this hawk was searching through the birdie tree looking for a meal so he took its picture. Pretty cool, eh? The sun's shining today so I feel a bit better. Yoga helped some, took the edge off of my crabbiness. I didn't have much knitting luck although M had her 10-yr-old daughter with her and we all know how much I like to talk to kids. J helped me frog a too-small hat and roll the yarn up into balls. She's a bright and interesting kid, fun to interact with. I miss kids. This morning I'm going to knit at one of the guild member's house for a while, then I'll get my nails done, and it's supposed to warm up into the 20s. I think I just heard the weather guy on TV say that we might see the Northern Lights tonight! Wouldn't that be cool? I'll have to call the station to see if he has a time guess. I'm not much of a night owl anymore, although I did sleep until 8 this morning, so I'm not an early bird either. I managed to shovel the driveway when I got home last night. It was very cold out there even though I was bundled up to the ears with a thick hat and my warmest chopper gloves. My butt got cold though. That was a surprise when I came in. It's a hard body part to warm up, I sat on the couch on an afghan, that seemed to help, then I just went to bed, and probably encroached on Durwood's side where the electric blanket is turned up to roast. And look, I even wrote last night!

January 20--Vincent van Gogh, Olive Trees. The hot sun beat down on the olive groves making the shade beneath the trees almost black. The trees looked like tortured gray skeletons twisted by the sea winds that roared up the hill from the sea. Lucy lay awake listening to the hoot of the owl hunting in the grove, cringing when he heard the scream of a caught rabbit. The hot wind moaned through the trees and then raced to rattle the shutters in their brackets. It sounded like someone trying to break in. Lucy's fingers gripped the sheet as if the flimsy fabric could protect her. Damn Walter and his ridiculous night fishing expedition with Theo.

That's it for today, kiddos. I'm off to gobble up my Cheerios, take a shower, and brave the cold. Stay warm.
--Barbara

Friday, January 20, 2012

Slacker Nights


I haven't written before bed for the last 2 nights and I wasn't going to post again today but I feel guilty when I don't so here I am. I'm sinking a bit into the mid-winter doldrums so it's easy to think that no one reads what I write anyway so why do it. I know that isn't true. I know you're all out there panting to read my new thoughts and free writes. I can't let you down. (geez, drama queen much, barbara?) I've been feeling like I've lost my hold on time, that it's whizzing by and I slide on through without being in it. Remember being bored? I do, but I can't seem to get there lately. I can't seem to find quiet, to sit in silence and feel. I'm guessing this might be denial, so I'll just keep paddling along (de Nile, get it?) and keep breathing. Maybe if it'd warm up a bit and snow I could get my snowshoes up and take a spin around the house. Tonight I'll go to knitting so I can do an hour's yoga (I already paid for it), I guarantee that'll make me feel better. And I'll borrow Don's van this afternoon to take Tuesday's load of donations over to Goodwill, that'll feel good to. And I've got a whole garbage bag of acrylic yarn for the other knitters to paw through before I donate it. I'll make it through, don't you worry, I just have to complain a bit while I do. Thanks for listening.

Blizzard


the blanket of winter
flailing in the wind.

Flakes dance a mad fandango
before the gusts,

build scalloped drifts
that echo

their liquid brethrn's
rush to the sand,

knit ragged scarves of white
that waylay inattentive travelers.

Flying in the squall,
rattling the panes,

creaking the bones of the frames
in their tracks,

wind-driven martyrs
sacrifice themselves,

on the bodies of their comrades
piled on the sill.
~~~~~

I've hemmed Em's picnic cloth and now I'm going to go knit a row or two of sweater front. January's fleeing and I'm nowhere near done with that sweater. Dammit.
--Barbara

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Yes, Aunt B, It Is.

She asked if Sandipa's really the bank-lady's name, and it is. She's East Indian and very lovely and one hell of a banker. The title company got its sh*t together so we met at 1 o'clock and signed enough paper to cover a good size room. Now in about 6 days it'll all be filed and proved and fulfilled and whatever else they need to do to write down a mortgage loan. I want a tiara. It's bloody cold today and isn't going to get much warmer for a few days. I had to arrange my layers of clothes so that when I have to go potty at work I can get the job done with the minimum of fuss. If I had to reverse the normal order it'd be sweater up, jeans down, turtleneck up, longies down, undershirt up, underpants down, and that'd just take too long. Funny but too long, so all the shirts except the outer sweater get tucked into my undies so all the pants can zip down in a herd. You might be laughing but I think about this kind of stuff. Efficient use of time and energies, etc. I worked on the next little bit of the basement tidy yesterday and got the area across from the washer repurposed. I shifted the few kitchen-y items into the shelves under the stairs and now all the paper plates, etc. and the disposable food keepers and the whole big box of wraps and bags from Mom's are all on those shelves where we can see what we have before we buy more. Then I sorted through 3 bins of old dive gloves, boots, and hoods. All of them went into the trash and a crate of old regs and consoles is coming to work with me to see if they want to salvage hoses or boots or whatever. Might as well get some use out of it instead of giving the spiders another place to nest. As an added bonus I managed to break two nails yesterday. Two! Good thing I plan to go Friday to get them done anyway. I'll just keep my hand in my pocket--or maybe a glove since it's so bitter cold.

January 17--James Morisset, Presentation Smallsword. Jamie and John never stayed near the house when they played pirates. They went down to the creek that wandered across the bottom of Parsons' old pasture. It had been so long since it had been grazed that the edges were thickets of young trees and brambles lay traps for the unwary. The boys tramped trails through the shoulder-high grasses that waves and rustled in the hot winds. Addy and Lia tried to get parts in the pirate games but they were unhappy that all they got to be were hostages or cannon fodder. They gave up after spending an afternoon lashed to trees serving as masts. The biting ants that crawled up their legs made them yelp, cry, and finally swear which brought Jamie and John running to let them loose.

It was a tired night last night. It's amazing how tiring it is cleaning a piece of the basement no more than 6' wide and then carrying up the trash and donations. The back of Durwood's van is all loaded so I can swing by Goodwill on Friday and unload it. I'm off to bundle up and go to work.
--Barbara

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Brace Yourself--Actual Knitting Content

Sorry I get so wrapped up in other things that I blog about stuff and forget the knittery things. It's a snowy day and the bank's running late with the refinancing papers so I lined up all my latest knitting and took pictures. This post will be all knitting, cross my heart.

I finished up my first 2012 charity knitting on Sunday. It's supposed to
be an adult size watch cap but it turned out to fit a small child. I've got half the skein left! So I'll be casting on another similar hat with a shorter cuff and knitting up the rest of the yarn.





At work yesterday I was a bad girl and didn't knit on the sweater front. Instead I cast on the rolled brim of the second charity hat because I want to get past the brim and into the helical stripe part. I am going to throw in the bright green with the donated powder blue and brown because it just needs the green. This is another kids' hat, but I need to find a plain old hat pattern that I can just knit up without all this fancy yarn craft and also make them bigger for kids that have aged beyond the "cutesy hat" stage.

It has been months and months since I took a picture of my latest car knitting warshrag. It goes into waiting rooms for a few rows or sits in the car door when I'm stuck at an open drawbridge and doesn't get into the limelight to get its picture taken. I'm likiing these cool colors.




I am thrilled with the way the Tree Scarf's coming along. It's very hard not to knit more than 2 rows a day but it's no good relying on the weather forecast to knit ahead because at least 60% of the time it's wrong and I do hate tinking back.










The coolest, most insane and exciting item that has to do with yarn is this!
My bff Scully unearthed this from her basement and gave it to me to play with. It's so old it has a VHS tape to watch to learn how to use it. Good thing I got a TV/VCR combo from Telaine last year, eh? I can't wait for the weekend to have days of time to see about setting it up. Good thing I have that cutting table I got from Mom downstairs too. I'll keep you posted.

Sign Here

If it weren't for a computer glitch at the title company we'd be up at the bank signing papers to refinance our mortgage so we can pay less per month and pay it off faster at the same time--in about 5 years. Wasn't that a brilliant idea Durwood had? He's very smart about money and investments. I'm the grasshopper in this relationship and he's the ant. I'm convinced that if you have money, you can spend it and the future will take care of itself. Evidently that isn't the case. He tells me if a person doesn't save money or invest it, there won't be any when they (me, for instance) get old and gray and feeble. When I told him that I don't intend to get feeble so I'll be okay, he scoffed. Yes, gentle readers, he scoffed, telling me that if I didn't save or invest my pennies I'd be a non-feeble little old lady standing on street corners rattling nickels in a tin cup try to sell pencils. Do you think he's right? You do, don't you? I can tell by the look on your face. You too think I need to save my money so that I won't be a broke and cranky, non-feeble, gray haired old lady. Well, okay. I'll be putting my spare nickels in a sock tout suite, but I won't like it and you can't make me. There has to be an old, lonely millionaire out there I can be nice to so he'll leave me his fortune because I'm swell. Somewhere there is, I'm sure of it. (Yep, that's about as likely as Mom winning the Publisher's Clearing House millions because she ordered a blue-million magazines from them. Oh well, I'm keeping the fantasy handy just in case.) We'll be getting a call from the bank-lady, Sandipa, sometime today and toddling back up to the bank to sign. That means that I'll be heading back downstairs to reorganize the canned foods and make room for the boxes of wraps and bags on shelves instead of having them crammed into a box in the way as soon as I'm done posting this.

January 16--Salvador Dali, The Accommodations of Desire. He was so purposeful, so calculatedly eccentric that I felt as though he was a shadow behind his persona gauging our perceptions. There was that conscious gleam in his eyes when he knew he was being watched. So many of his works were made to stir up protest among the collectors. A regular spotlight hog, that crazy Spaniard.

Grr. That was another re-issue of art. I can't help it that I remember what's been in the previous year's calendar and it distracts me to the point that I can barely write about them. Get over it, Barbara, for pity's sake. Is it snowing where you are? It sure is here. *sigh* I suppose it's to be expected in January.
--Barbara

Monday, January 16, 2012

La Nina

I was reading an analysis of the last month's weather in the newspaper the other day and one of the meteorologists said that La Nina is what's making our weather so wacky. Essentially the surface temps in part of the Pacific Ocean are just a few degrees cooler making things milder and wetter around here. Mild we got, wet not so much. But I can't complain since I've only had to get out my big red snowblower once this winter. Yesterday I updated the Bay Lakes Knitting Guild blog, let Porter out for a potty break, and did the laundry. It took a lot longer than I'd anticipated to redo the blog. I putz and consider, looking at pictures, trying to decide what to say and how to say it. Probably few people look at it, but I do it anyway because I said I would and I like doing it. I also took the second load of things out of the basement to Goodwill. Durwood's afraid I'm going to "give away all the good stuff" but I'm trying to keep the good stuff and let the rest of it go to good homes. I'm tired of giving house-room to things we haven't laid hands on in nearly 10 years and aren't going to use in the next 10. Durwood marinated some chicken legs in a new marinade he found in one of the WW cookbooks then we baked them, serving them with fresh broccoli and couscous. It was a delicious and good-looking supper. We've been enjoying the new WW cookbooks he got from the bargain room at Cook's Corner before Christmas. I'm glad we're not people who always make the same things on the same day. The only "day" we have is Tuesday's fish day, and that's because we put the garbage out on Tuesday night so any fish wrapper or stinky skin doesn't hang around too long. Pretty smart, eh? We, well, he made us breakfast yesterday with Henny & Penny eggs, one for each. They were markedly better tasting than regular old grocery eggs, and I got to collect them my own self. You wish you were here for that meal, trust me on that.

January 15--Egypt, Bronze Cat. Cat sat on the plinth in a shaft of sunlight. The light cut through the dusty air in Uncle Albert's library. Gemma and Bart teased that one day Cat would blink, stretch out, and then pounce down across Uncle Albert's desk to chase mice. "Most probably," Albert said, laughing at the rich imaginations of his great-niece and -nephew. Cat was offended that anyone, even those foolish children who always hung around, would think that he would stoop to pursuing such pedestrian prey as mice. A few times in his younger days he had been reduced to foraging for a mouse or a vole. They were adequately tasty little morsels but he preferred a dish of diced liver and chicken. He'd never developed a tolerance for fur.

I just had a couple in here who spent nearly $600 on snorkeling gear for a Tahitian cruise. *sigh* If they hadn't been so nice I might have had to be rude to them out of sheer envy. Plus she said they have to take dress clothes and that is so not my idea of a vacation. A clean shirt and nice pair of cotton khaki slacks with sandals, that's vacation dress up for me. Ta ta.
--Barbara