Thursday, January 31, 2013

Now That's Snow

None of that namby-pamby thin skim of flakes that pretends to be a snowfall.  Snowstorm Denise was a blustery babe that came in with 8.2 inches of light, powdery snow that covered all the pathetic leftovers from Tuesday's rainy melt.  Kept the customers away from the dive shop too.  FedEx, UPS, the mail lady, and one of the instructors and his wife on their way to Happy Joe's for pizza for lunch were the only other humans in the building through the day.  The UPS guy brought me 6 boxed tanks with valves and 4 boxes of weights so I even had things to open, price, and put away for a while.  It took me longer to unstaple the tank boxes than it did to assemble and fill them but that's okay; I'd rather have something work-y to do than to spend the entire day killing time.  Now, I did have time to sew half of my afghan blocks together too so the day was a success all around.

AND I found the last bowl of green chicken soup in the very back of the fridge so I only had to yoink one bowl of Durwood's latest version of tomato soup for work lunch today.  Yay for soup.  There will be soup making on Saturday.  A fridge needs soup this time of year.  I also found recipes for hot chocolate that's only 2 WW Points Plus per serving (I didn't calculate the recipe I made last weekend; I'm sure it's in the neighborhood of, oh, a bajillion per) and reduced fat mac & cheese that has been nagging at me so much that I got some reduced fat sharp cheddar the other day, so I'll be making those too.  I love cooking and don't get to do it much now that Durwood's taken over the day to day job which I totally love and I'm totally willing to let him have it all--planning, shopping, cooking, and cleaning up.  *dusts off hands*  Totally.  Oh.  It just came to me that it's Super Bowl weekend so we might have to make some snacky-type foods for Sunday supper.  That'd be fun to make healthy-ish stuff instead of a "real" meal.  I should consult the chef.

Durwood's van should come back home from the fix-it shop today which means that Beverly will be sleeping outside again.  I got spoiled in the olden days when Durwood's vehicle was the one outside because he'd drive off earlier than me and stay away for days.  We both miss that; I wonder if we'll ever stop pining for the olden days when he traveled.  Probably not.

January 31--William Henry Fox Talbot, Photogenic Drawing.

Flower petals
transparent
shapes on film.
Early scientific
play with light,
floral perfume over
chemical stench.

Does one stem count as a bouquet?  He barely kept it from freezing stuck there in his coat, warmed by his breath.

Man, writing is thin on the ground lately.
--Barbara

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

I'm No Competition

I'm speaking to knitting designers.  It took me two full days of knitting, frogging, cussing, and a little thinking to make this 5" by 6" dishcloth.  It's got a fish on it but you can barely tell what it is.  I don't think I'll be designing something again, but I'm glad I did it.  VJ challenged us to chart a design and then knit is at the January Knitting Guild meeting.  Since I rarely ignore a challenge I plunged in.  First I was just knitting an outline (top photo) but that didn't work, so I ripped out to the green and started over making a solid fish.  That sort of worked, but not really.  We need dishcloths anyway since our supply is wearing out so it'll have a nice home at the sink but, nope, not gonna design anything again.  Evidently I don't have a conceptual brain.



Aside from the design challenge, I seem to be fixated on knitting or crocheting dishcloths lately.  I guess because they're relatively quick and easy and you get a payoff with a small effort.  This one's supposed to have a pseudo-cable on it but it looks pretty darned flat to me.  Oh well, I've got a bag of leftover cotton so I'm knitting it up and this one calls for holding 2 together so it'll go faster.  Besides, HZ asked me for some dishcloths so she'll have some to pick from on Feb. 9 at the next family supper.

DD, I don't know why I'm avoiding a second go at a crocheted net scrubbie but I swear (cross my heart) I'll pick it up today.  Promise.

Snowstorm Denise Is Ramping Up

An hour ago it was barely snowing and we'd only gotten half an inch since midnight.  That's changing even as we speak.  The flakes have beefed up and they're falling like they really mean it, plus it's getting windier by the minute.  Yippee.  The only good thing I can see is that Beverly got to spend the night in the garage since Durwood's van got hauled off to the mechanic's yesterday late afternoon and won't get worked on until today so I don't have to brush snow off my car before I drive off into the storm... to work in a scuba shop where I am certain I will be overrun with customers.  Not.  I gathered up all the afghan squares and a skein of yarn to take to work.  Might as well sew squares together all day since Lala's flying off to San Francisco for a workshop and then a few days of hiking in the redwoods so she won't be online to "talk" to.  I can listen to an audiobook and sew squares, answer the phone and get paid to do it all, easy.
 
The other day I glanced out the back window to see the birdie trees shaking a bit.  Mr. Squirrel was up in the branches eating the corn kernels I tossed in there on Sunday.  I don't begrudge them winter food.  Durwood thinks they should leave everything for the birds but I say squirrels get hungry too, besides if you argue with a squirrel you just look nuts.  And they're not trainable. (neither Durwood nor squirrels; sorry, Dear)
 
After Durwood's doc visit with the breathe-ologist (everything seems to be working okay)  I went to get my nails done.  While I was there her 6 year old son came in from school.  He's a very cute, kind of solemn little guy and he asked if I'd like to buy his book.  Yep, his book.  Seems he and his 8 year old cousin Jadin wrote and illustrated a Batman book and he was selling copies for a dollar.  I had a dollar and bought a book.  See?  It's 9 pages long (that's a lot of printing!) and fully illustrated with both hand-drawn and "borrowed" images.  I'm happy to support a fellow writer.

January 30--Peter Paul Rubens, Venus and Adonis.  It's hard for Dad to leave for work when Mom's hanging on his arm luring him back to bed (she's naked, or nearly) or a cherub of a child (also naked) clutches his leg to make him stay.

That's when the well ran dry.  I hope it's not snowing where you are today.  I wish it weren't snowing on the wet roads making a slick mess where I am.  Take it slow today, I am.



--Barbara

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Evidently January Is A Random Weather Month

or maybe it's just this week, because we had freezing rain with thunder last night, it's supposed to get up near 50 degrees today, 5-8 inches of snow tomorrow, and single digit highs on Thursday and Friday.  Oh. My. God.  It's like we live in the Weather Lab where they make whatever weather they want to study and inflict it on us.

The week before last our neighborhood sharp-shinned hawk bumped the patio door and spent a few minutes collecting itself on the patio so we got to take closeups.  Cool, huh?

Our street is a treacherous sheet of wet ice (downhill only today) and the renter called to say that her one basement window is leaking.  Dammit.  Time to call the handyman, I guess.  And Durwood's van won't start again and the AAA guy says it isn't the battery, maybe it's the starter, but that means this afternoon we call AAA again to have it towed to Dell's to get fixed.  Thank god for AAA but I'd rather not need to use it, and why is it always winter and crap weather when we need it?  This week shows me why people run away from Wisconsin in the winter.  I'd like to run away too.  NOW.

January 29--French, Arm Reliquary.  The man with the silver arm, Gene thought as he looked at the reliquary on the library shelf.  It sounded like one of the B movies they used to show on Saturdays down at the Strand theater when he was a kid.  He grew up in a small Indiana town in the 1950s when it was safe to send the kids to the movies for the afternoon.  Mom gave them a quarter to get in and another quarter for some candy.  His favorite was Milk Duds but he would trade for a few Jujubes.  Milk Duds were good trading currency; five of the chocolate covered caramel drops were good for ten or even twelve of anything else.  Now Milk Duds stuck to his dental work and threatened to pull out his fillings whenever he ate them.

Enjoy your day.  I've got to get dressed because Durwood's got a doctor's appointment today and we've got other errands.  Of course we do, the weather's crap today but still we have to go out.  I supposed a bit of fog and ice is better than going out in the midst of a big snowfall.  I get to do that tomorrow.  Lucky me.  (can you tell I'm a bit cranky today?)
--Barbara

Monday, January 28, 2013

We Got Some Snow With Rain On Top


Can you say freezing rain?  Can you say frozen streets?  Can you say bobsled run?  Or maybe luge or that other one, um, skeleton?  It started snowing about 3 PM, really big, calendar-type snowflakes and just kept going until we'd gotten an inch or two.  Then it got warmer and started raining, I guess.  The young couple across the street have the biggest sloped driveway.  They shoveled late last evening and were out sledding down it with their little one.  Today it looks like a bobsled run.  I don't see how they're going to get up to their garage... unless it really warms up and melts that ice.  It's very shiny and treacherous looking.  I will be starting my slow trip across town to work by going downhill out of the driveway instead of up.  Yes, I will.  Oh, goodie, I just realized that the snow will have kept the ice off Beverly's windshield.  Hooray.  Whew.  The worst part of the increase in temps is the increase in cloud cover.  I do understand that something has to hold in the warmer temps but I need a little sunshine, peoples, need it.

I'm happy to say that I am not creaky and sore from my long snowshoe tromp the day before yesterday.  I'm actually kind of surprised, but glad.

I am not glad that I downloaded Windows 8 the other day.  It has totally bollixed up my laptop's brain.  Not only did it erase Word (not the files so all my writing's safe and I reinstalled MS Office so it's back) and my bookmarks (in Firefox, I didn't have them in Explorer), but now it won't recognize my iPod so it took off all my apps.  Gah!  Did I know this would happen?  Hell no.  Am I glad I did it?  Not yet, but I am getting a teensy tiny bit of satisfaction in figuring out how to creep back, reloading things and refinding bookmarks.  Maybe if I watched the "how to" pages instead of just crashing around in frustration...  I'll try that next.  I called Tech Support, well IM-ed them, and when I asked about a tutorial he only told me that I could spend $49 buck for a course, did not guide me to the introduction to Windows 8 that I think I saw.  I suspect that he was typing his responses from a script they sounded so much like a commercial.  Tsk.  I'll go back and look for it and work my way through.  That stuff does help, if you're smart enough to use it.

January 28--Nepal, Krishna Attacking the Castle of Prag-Jyoshita to Recover the Earrings.  It's like a child drew it.  The perspective's all off and the people are too big.  Some of them are sideways and some are upside down.  These people are bigger then the buildings and all the fighters are bunched together in lines with their swords held high overhead.  The back ones would definitely chop the front ones up.  It makes it hard to appreciate the painting because it's hard not to see the bigness of them.  

Well, I thought that sucked last night and I still do.  It sounds like whining to me.  Ah well, I can't be brilliant every night.  I think it's time to go read, okay skim, the newspaper (I only read the comics, the advice column, my horoscope, and the crossword thoroughly, unless some headline catches my eye and then I read it) while eating my cereal.  Aw man, I just saw my renter shoveling my driveway so I went out to ask her to stop because if it rains more then it'll freeze on the snow, not the cement.  Now she thinks I'm nuts, I'm sure, since it's supposed to thaw today, but I don't like to take chances.  I'll shovel off the remains tomorrow morning.  I'm outta here.
--Barbara

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Charts


The January program at Bay Lakes Knitting Guild was how to read and make knitting charts.  Charts are a graphic way to write out a knitting pattern that are especially helpful with complex designs.  VJ, the prez and presenter, gave us each a chart blank and encouraged us to quickly design something that could be knitted into a dishcloth.  Naturally, I drew a fish, and last night I decided to get some graph paper and see about figuring out how to knit what I drew.  So far I've only had to rip it out once, so I think I'm doing well.  I did discover that I'm doing it backwards.  I mean the flat, stockinette part is on what I thought was the Wrong Side, which means that the design will be facing right instead of left.  Oh well,  I'm going to keep going as I am, get it all written out, see how the design looks, and then figure out how to turn the whole thing around.




At Friday Night Knitting I crocheted another Short Row dishcloth.  Well, I got it all done except for sewing the beginning and end together, and single crocheting around the edge.  Ooh, I should have made a little chain to use for a loop.  Oh well.

We Need More Snow...

...and not as much melting if we're going to be tromping through a swamp on snowshoes.  Both KW and I dragged grasses into the back of Beverly (my car) for the ride home.  There was a crampon (that's the right word for the cleats on the bottom of snowshoes)-shaped clump of grass and snow that fell out of one of mine when it was thawing out.  I do believe that you're supposed to have more snow on there than vegetable matter when you get to the end of your walk.  But it was fun, longer than I thought it'd be at 75 minutes, and I got way too sweaty (dressed too well but in layers so I could divest myself of some) but felt absolutely fabulous at the end--and that feeling stayed with me the rest of the day.

Oh, I am so glad that I've stopped taking that pill.  Day by day, I feel more like myself.  More enthusiastic about doing things, active and non.  Ahhh.

TG, a knitting pal, her husband, TG, their gorgeous 18 mo. old daughter, CB, and her sister, TH, were at the snowshoeing lesson too.  CB had tiny snowshoes and she tromped around in them a bit but was way too small to go on the more than an hour long hike with us.  It was fun to see them and get to spend a little post-snowshoeing hot chocolate time with them.  (hmm, maybe that's why the scale went up today instead of down, that and last night's meatloaf.  did you know that chicken & fish make it easier to lose weight?  I learned a century ago in Weight Watchers that chicken & fish are negative meats (help you lose), turkey & organ meats are neutral, and beef & pork are positive, and it seems to be true, at least for me.  frustrating.)
 
January 27--Nepal, Kathmandu Valley, Page from a dispersed Bhagavita Purana Manuscript, Krishna Attacking the Castle of Prag-Jyoshita to Recover the Earrings.  "Give them back," Krissy said, her small face fierce.  "Make me," said Jay.  He held his hand with the earrings dangling from it high out of his little sister's reach.  She didn't think he'd throw them into the pond or drop them on a beehive but she could never be sure.  He knew that she was afraid of getting stung and she hated the big catfish that lived on the pond's bottom.  They had an annoying habit of sucking on your feet if you stood still too long in the pond.  She was sure some big old catfish would suck up her earrings in a heartbeat if jay threw them in there.  She didn't even want to think about how she'd get them off a hive.  "I'll give you a dollar," she said.  He shifted from one foot to another.  Now she had him.  "Make it three."  He didn't think she had three dollars but it was worth a try.  The negotiations had begun.

I have time to write a quick, very quick knitting blog post before time for CBS Sunday Morning.  I'm outta here.
--Barbara

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Got My Three Bucks All Ready

For my snowshoeing lesson, of course.  I called the Park & Rec yesterday afternoon to make sure I was signed up and to make sure that it would go.  It will!  The lady said that they got around 3" there, which means it did snow a couple more inches five miles up the pike.  Huh.  I've got my snowshoes and poles by the front door and I'm planning what I'll wear; gotta stay warm at the start but then not too warm for when I get moving because then I get too hot if I'm bundled up.  It's a delicate balance.  But it's sunny and will be in the 20s, perfect for a jaunt out in the woods by the bay, don't you think?

I had to go downstairs and dig out the last of the Gevalia free coffee makers and the can of decaf today.  That thyroid crap's not out of my system yet and combined with even half a cup of caf coffee brings a lot of the symptoms right back.  *sigh*  But I like coffee better than tea now.  For a long time, since DD was born, I drank decaf or tea interchangeably and didn't mind.  Now that I'd had caf coffee for more than a year, just one not-too-full cup a day, it's hard to go back.

I didn't write last night.  I looked at the art, a Syrian sphinx plaque, and got nothing.  Nothing with a capital Noth, and I was tired, oh so tired since I woke up at 5 AM and couldn't go back to sleep for that last hour and a half, so I clicked off the light, clicked the electric blanked on 1, and zonked off.  I didn't even hear Durwood come to bed less than half an hour later.  I was a tired girl.

But I feel good now, excited to go pick up KW (a knitting pal), and then zoom off to Barkhausen Waterfowl Preserve where most GB school children have learned to snowshoe through the years (ours did), and tromp around a bit.  Did I ever tell you that when DS brought his first field trip permission slip home from first grade he had already marked the "No" box of the "can Mom or Dad chaperone?" line?  I took the hint and never volunteered.  Don't get me wrong, I was at school plenty but never chaperoned a field trip.  I figured he needed his space, DD too when it was her turn.   Toodles.
--Barbara

Friday, January 25, 2013

Finishing Continues

Yesterday I had actual work to do at work so I was forced to finish the last Bandwagon Afghan block at home after supper.  I laid them out in the living room and think the afghan's going to look great.  The pattern calls for applied I-cord edging.  I need to watch a few more YouTube videos about how to do it before I decide whether I'm doing it or not... but I probably will.






When I laid them out I was sad to see that I'd forgotten to weave in the tails on one of the blocks.  *sigh*  It's always better to weave them in as you go along.  One day I might even learn how to knit them in as I go.  Now wouldn't that be good?

Lots To Do, Lots To Do

It snowed overnight just over an inch which might make it possible to snowshoe tomorrow morning.  Maybe.  It's really not enough snow for good traction but maybe it snowed more at Barkhausen.  (oh, yeah, I'm sure it snowed a couple more inches five miles up the pike, tsk)  I really want to go though.  I've been indoors and felt too crappy the last couple months; it's time to get out and get out of breath a bit in the fresh air.

Saw the doc this morning and she said, "you reacted exactly opposite to that thyroid med."  I exercised great restraint in not saying "I told you so weeks ago."  She wants to leave open the possibility of a cardiologist visit.  For what???  CYA?  I don't see the point after Monday's festivities gave me a clean bill of health--normal BP, normal heart, normal everything.  Maybe she's worried about her job.  Maybe she figures everyone over 60 has to have something.  Sorry, lady, not me, not yet anyway.  

On a happier note I got my tiny tire taken off and replaced by the repaired big one.  I thought that the bitter cold had made my tire flat.  Nope.  It was a 4" long spike of a nail.  Where I picked it up, I do not know, but I'm keeping it the hell away from my tire.  And, no, I don't make it a habit to offroad through construction sites.

January 25--Anthony van Dyck, Saint Rosalie Interceding for the Plague-Stricken of Palermo.  "Look how pathetic they are" she seems to be saying.  "How can you turn away from their wretchedness?"  The bald baby angel peering out from behind her is looking at her like she's nuts and the one on her left looks like he's thinking "I'm not touching them."  There's one flying on a cloud coming behind her with a wreath of flowers for her hair.  I suppose in those days, 1624 to be exact, not many people could read so they painted the stories but couldn't they find a cheerful one?  Just once?  Palmer and Cleo walked slowly through the museum gallery trying to find a painting that didn't have saints or demons or war.  It was a long day.

Okay, that's it for me.  It's almost time to pack up my projects to go to knitting night.  Hasta la vista, babies.
--Barbara



 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

They Say Snow's A-Coming

And I'm looking forward to it.  Not only because I want to go snowshoeing on Saturday at Barkhausen but if it's snowing then there're clouds and it'll be in the 20s.  Eeeee, the 20s seem like a heat wave just now.

Today's Photo a Day theme is "stripes" and if you look very closely you can see a contrail stripe running across this morning's sky.  Serendipity, you gotta love it.

Yesterday a guy came into the store for a shortie wetsuit to take to Belize tomorrow and naturally had to try them on.  He stripped off his outer layers before he ever got into the try-on room and then came out in the shortie... and his longies, thick socks, and undershirt.  At first I thought about how silly that was but then I realized that I really don't want to strip down to my skivvies lately either... and what if he was going commando in his longies.  He probably was; men are like that.  Ewww.  He was my only buying customer yesterday so I put less than a hundred bucks into the till.  One customer I had to show how to put on the mask he bought earlier so that it didn't leak so much (he has a bristly moustache) and the other one wanted a swim cap to keep water out of his ears.  We don't have swim caps.  I showed him the uber-cool earplugs we have but he was fixated on a cap.  He was very disappointed to learn that water gets under a diver's hood and may come back for the plugs.  Probably not when I'm there, of course, but at least it'd be a sale.  My chore for the day was to update the point-of-sale (POS) with 2013 prices from one of our major suppliers.  That is such a tedious job, but I managed to get through it.  (see? that's how quiet it was in there)  Today I get to re-tag things that changed which happily won't take as long and will give me a little workout crawling around to find everything.

I did get some of Durwood's potato broccoli soup for supper last night, with crumbled bacon and shaved sharp cheddar cheese on top.  It was very yummy and very warming.  Durwood wasn't thrilled, not that he's unwilling to share his soup, but he considers soup (and pizza) lunch food.  Obviously he's a man who never grew up eating pancakes or cereal for supper when Mom was too frazzled to make a meal and too broke to get fast food burgers.  Or even "pick shit with the chickens" which was my family's code for grazing the leftovers and  whatever else you can find in the kitchen.  We also have discussions about "summer food" vs "winter food."  I say summer food is light--pasta with lots of veggies and a thin sauce with grilled meat--and winter food is heavier--hearty soups and stews with thick sauces and lots of root veggies.  He says that there's no season for stew or soup.  That kind of grub makes me too hot when it's hot outside.  It's a wonder we've stayed married this long.

January 24--Peru, Sican, Beaker.  Te'ru wrapped his hand around the gold beaker, covering the god's face with trembling fingers.  He had poured a measure of cane liquor into the vessel while his lips moved in silent recitation of the prayer.  Flames leaped from the logs laid on the plaza below his aerie, sparks riding the updrafts like prayers rising to Heaven.  The soft sounds of bare feet on stone told him that the faithful had gathered, that soon his offering needed to be made.  The last rays of the sun gilded the pillars and stained their edges red.  The chant began.  He raised the beaker in his now-confident hands and stepped to the parapet to play his part.

So, is he performing a rite, making a sacrifice, or preparing to BE the sacrifice?  I can't decide but I like it, it seems warm there, and I'm chilled.  Time to shower and dress in multiple layers to survive the day.  At least it's sunny; I can't decry a sunny day.  Bundle up.
--Barbara

 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Look What I Did!

Yesterday after running errands I went down into the sewing studio and got my Craftsy Block of the Month quilt blocks sashed together.  It was a much bigger job than I thought it'd be; all that laying out and rearranging, then cutting the strips, cutting them apart, sewing the rows, then sewing the remaining long strips together so I could sew the rows of 4 blocks into one big quilt top.  That last item, making the strips into one long one, that's where things slowed waaaaay down.  See, I thought I was sewing them together so that the seam allowance was on the same side of the strip from one end to the other but I wasn't.  I ended up sewing and then ripping, then sliding it through my fingers to discover that I'd resewed it the same way, then that made the next seam wrong, so more ripping... finally I got it and could begin the laborious pinning and sewing phase.  Finally I got them all put together into one fabric.  Ta-da!





I'll admit that I don't have the sashing around the outer edges yet, but at least the blocks are together and I call that real progress.




DD gave me a thread nipper for Christmas and yesterday was the first time I really got to use it for more than snipping one thread.  I. Love. It.  Thanks again, DD.

Still Cold

I love that it's sunny, I do, but a cloudless sky lets any warmth the sun gives to escape into the great beyond and that has invited an Arctic blast to come over and settle in.  Durwood wanted to make soup yesterday, potato broccoli soup, so he sent me to the grocery with a list.  I was not the only person in the soup aisle getting broth for a husband to make soup, no I was not.  Naturally I didn't read the list right so I had to go back for another bag of broccoli (those dollar bags of mostly stems are great for soup, aren't they?) but I did it happily because I'm hoping he'll share his soup with me.  I'm a good girl, I get soup, right?  Right, dear?  *smiles endearingly, batting her eyelashes in a fetching way (she hopes)*

[and the neighbor guy managed to back out and drive off without a hitch today]

My pal Skully says she has cabin fever and is looking for an adventure, one that we can have for free because, like all of us, the same old money's not going nearly as far as it used to.  She found out that Wisconsin is the only state with a system of Rustic Roads, which are scenic byways all over the state, so we're going to pack lunches, grab our boots, and go explore one, or some, this weekend.  I'm in charge of planning and driving this time and she'll do the next one.  We plan to spend only for gas.  I'll report.  There may be pictures.

After I posted about DD's use of homemade laundry detergent the other day my knitting prez, Vicki, sent her recipe for a dry version.  Aunt B asked for the recipe, so here's Vicki's recipe to get you started.  I'll be researching DD's recipe later today; it makes 3 gallons and is a wet gel-like product.  I'll share that one too.

Homemade Laundry Detergent
Ingredients:
            1 bar Fels Naptha
            1 cup of Borax
            1 cup of Arm & Hammer Washing Soda
            ¼ cup of baking soda
Grate the Fels Naptha. I cut it into chunks and run it through my food processor. (I might get a Goodwill or rummage sale appliance to use for grating soap or just bite the bullet and do it by hand.  I can taste the soap.  Uck.)  Combine the grated Fels Naptha with the Borax and Washing Soda and baking soda and store in an air tight container. Use 2 tablespoons per load.  (I don't know if she's got an HE machine or not; your mileage may vary.)

I just heard Pete on Fox11 say that it's supposed to get up to 12 degrees today!  Heat wave!

January 23--Paul Klee, Black Columns in a Landscape.  Sarah stood on the footpath that led into the next village.  There was the glint of the sea far in the distance and the dust plume of a plowing farmer off to the left.  She heard children playing in the school yard and the purr of a car coming up the hill toward her.  It had been a perfect walk on a perfectly cool day so far.  She was looking forward to having lunch down by the shore.  If only there hadn't been that hand lying there on the path.  Just a hand, no body.  If only she hadn't stepped on it.

Ooh, ick.  How do I think of stuff like that?  Time to get a move on; I get to go to work today.  Oh, I stopped at the dive shop to get my paycheck yesterday and Mr. Boss told me that on Monday when I was lounging in the ER he sold $6000 dollars worth of stuff to the Sturgeon Bay Dive Team.  Six grand!  And I missed it.  Damn.  I don't get a commission so I didn't miss out on a bok of money but I'd have liked to have put that amount of money into the till for once.
--Barbara

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Cold-er

If you thought it wasn't possible you were wrong.  It's bitter cold, cold and clear, so cold that the nice (but short) ex-Marine guy across the street's transmission is frozen and he can't move his jacked up, compensating, diesel pickup truck away from the bottom of his driveway which is sloped so he could roll down but now that he's across the bottom of it, he can't go back or forward.  Oops.  Gonna be a fun day.

I didn't make it to work yesterday.  See I've been having some worrying physical symptoms for the last month and every time I tried to talk to my doc about them she had her nurse tell me to go to the ER because they don't have machines to deal with heart problems.  Now, I knew that I didn't have heart problems because I can run around with Porter or snowshoe around the yard and not get faint or spots before my eyes or tunnel vision.  I read the side effects for the thyroid medicine she gave me in late October which says that it takes weeks to take effect and I have a history of overreacting to meds.  (I can't even take more than half a dose of Tylenol Cold every 12 hours or I'm loopy--sheesh)  So I called a few times to discuss it before going to get checked out but all they said was "go to the ER" in increasingly strident tones.  Yesterday they managed to scare me enough so I called Mr. Boss to say that I wasn't coming in to work and I went.  (I made Durwood stay home because he can NOT breathe outside when it's this cold.  They gave me a phone so that I could call him whenever I wanted to.  That was very nice and a great comfort when the scareds got too strong)  I got there around 9:30 AM.  I left just before 5 PM.  I got IV-ed, EKG-ed (2 or 3 times), chest x-rayed, poked again for more blood tests (did I tell you that I have petite veins that roll away from needles? I look a bit like a junkie today), shot with radioactive goo, scanned, walked on a treadmill for 5 minutes, shot with more radioactive goo, rescanned, and finally got the news that my heart's in tiptop shape and I'm having an adverse reaction to a medication.  I coulda told 'em that at 9:30, and I did, but they had to prove it to themselves, I guess.  Good thing I grabbed my Kindle and knitting bag as I went out the door, huh?  I also foolishly took my lunch soup and fruit just in case I got to go to work.  (hahahahahahaha, silly woman)  They told me that it was also a good thing that I came in so early in the morning so I didn't have to spend the night in the ER waiting for the nuclear stress test.  Yikes.  I volunteered to work today but Mrs. Boss got stuck in Honduras (don't you wish that'd happened to you?  I certainly do.) over the weekend so she didn't get her dive shop work done on Sunday so she has to work today so I can't.  I can go pick up my paycheck though, and I'll do that when I go out to pick up the release paperwork I forgot at the ER when I scampered out just before dark and take a copy to my regular doc to politely say, "see?  adverse reaction to meds, not heart problems" in a nice way... if I can figure one out.  BTW, I made the decision on my own to not take that thyroid medicine anymore, the ER doc said that she couldn't advise me to stop taking it but many many people have problems with it.  Then she kind of cocked her head.  I got the message.  My doc only gave it to me to try to up my energy (which I don't need) and jump start my metabolism so it's a bit easier for me to lose weight.  I'll soldier on the old way, thanks.  Not a day I want to repeat anytime soon, thanks.  But take comfort, family and friends, in knowing that I have the heart of a lion.  And my cholesterol and blood sugar is just fine too.  Whew.

January 22--Leonard Limosin, Henri D'Albert, King of Navarre.  Hank called himself "the King of Auto Mechanics" for years.  See, his name was Henry King and when he was plunking down the first month's rent for his shop he told the landlord "now I really feel like a king" and that was that.  He had a picture of himself on his business cards looking happy with a cartoon-y card on his head.  He papered the neighborhood with coupons good for a $10 oil change for new customers and built a broad customer base.  Hank was an open-handed and helpful guy.  He stood across the street from King's Garage watching it burn and wondered who hated him enough to torch the place.

I hardly got anything to eat yesterday with all that ER-ing and even after having a lovely supper of leftovers, I'm still hungry.  It might be an oatmeal day again since I didn't really eat mine yesterday.  *sigh*  Enjoy your day and STAY WARM.
--Barbara

Monday, January 21, 2013

Holy Jeebus, It's Cold

That sharp, squeaky cold that knifes through your clothes no matter how thick and wooly.  Thank god my new toe warmers came on Saturday (although we forgot to get in the mail so they spent Saturday night on the porch) so I can paste the little chemical packs to my socks in my boots and have a chance of staying warm, at least my toes do.  I went downstairs to my clothing storage unit and carried up my only 2 turtlenecks and my warmest, thick old sweater shirt pullover thingy from Eddie Bauer which is too warm to wear unless it's below zero outside.  You can be sure I'll be wearing long-johns, thick wool socks, an undershirt, a turtleneck, lined boots, AND that wooly pullover to work today.  There will be potty trip planning instituted throughout the day.  No sudden urges will be entertained due to the rigmarole of shucking jeans, shirts, longies, undies, etc.  (TMI?)  Oh, and it's windy too.  Good times.  (You can bet ol' Durwood won't be going out until it warms up a bit.  Cold like this makes him breathless, even more breathless than normal.)

I got my 2 manuscript pages re-typed yesterday just like I said I would.  It was a little tempting to keep going but I reined in that urge and put it aside.  Just like when you start to exercise, you need to start a big project like that slowly so you don't burn yourself out and crap out before the job's done.  *nods confidently*

DD told Durwood when they were here visiting that she makes her own laundry detergent, has for years.  Last week's Craftster Project of the Week was how to make your own concentrated laundry detergent--and it looks intriguing.  I asked DD about it yesterday and she said she's made it for years, that it costs pennies, makes 3 gallons at a time, and cleans her clothes just fine.  I think I might try it.  (Do you remember Mr. Wizard?  I do believe that I got into trouble more than once doing "experiments" without Mom's input.  I loved him and was so surprised and pleased that he was still going strong when DS & DD were little so they loved him too.)

January 21--Christian Wiltberger, Teapot.  Chas sniffed the air but then remembered that carbon monoxide was odorless.  She strained to see in the dim light.  Were they bleeding?  Were they breathing?  A clap of thunder and the sizzle of lightning close by made her jump and propelled her over the threshold.  Her wet shoes squeaked on the polished wood floor and she tiptoed to not track too much rain into the room.  Her fingers trembled as she reached to touch her mother.  Jessica's skin was as cold as the marble it resembled.  Chas drew back her hand and lowered her heels to the floor.  If Mama was dead she couldn't yell at her for tracking in the rain, but she would miss Uncle Lane.  He was always on her side.  She left the room untouched and went to call Chief Maloney.

Okay then.  That's odd, but fun.  I'm off to call the clinic to ask a question and then reluctantly disrobe to take a shower.  When it's this cold, it seems almost too cold to get nekkid and wet, doesn't it?  Today might be a good day for oatmeal for breakfast.  There's always soup for lunch.  Ta-ta, and bundle up.
--Barbara

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Not Gone With The Wind

Yesterday it got up to 42 degrees and was partly sunny, then last night the wind picked up out of the northwest and tried to blow us all to kingdom come.  Some of the gusts made our custom fitted living room window whistle.  If we'd have had patio furniture out it'd all have been in the neighbor's yard in a heap.  As it was all the seed was blown out of the hanging platform feeder and the PVC pipe squirrel deflector from one of the summer hanging spots blew right off.  Today it's only normal windy.  I was just getting into bed last night when I realized that DS & DIL1 were driving home from a brew fest in Madison but I called this morning and they made it just fine.

Speaking of birds (how's that for a smooth segue?), I forgot to tell you that I saw a bald eagle flying along the highway when we were driving home from visiting Leonardo in Appleton last Tuesday.  Somehow things like that just don't feel real until I put it on the blog.  That's kind of sad, isn't it?  I shared the sighting with Durwood but felt bad that I forgot to tell you all out there in blog-land.

I'm also putting it out there in blog-land that as soon as I hit the Publish button on this post I will be opening a Rewrite #5 file in Word and re-keying the first 2 pages of The Sea View.  I know I could do more but I figure, like doing 2 rows per day on the Maple Tree Scarf, I can do 2 pages a day, not too much, not nothing, and maybe whack my way through the darned thing.  (or I'll use the pages as kindling)

January 20--Christian Wiltberger, Teapot.  The silver teapot lay on the wide plank floor, the tea and all of the tray's contents strewn around it.  Lane and Jessica slumped in their chairs on either side of the tea table as if felled by gas.  "Mama?"  Chas stood in the doorway, her hand outstretched.  Rain dripped off her coat onto the rug.  "Uncle Lane?"  No one stirred but still she hesitated to enter the room.

I have no idea what's next.  Hopefully that'll come tonight.  I'm going to... type 2 pages.
--Barbara

 

Saturday, January 19, 2013

I Cheated



Remember how I said I wasn't going to cast on anything until I had that last afghan block done?  Well, I kind of cheated.  See, DS & DIL1 asked at Christmastime if I'd crochet them some net scrubbies like the ones Mom used to make.  They took the remaining few of them when she died and have evidently scrubbed their way through them.  I didn't seem to have Mom's pattern so I searched Ravelry and found one that I printed off and tried.  I sucked at it.  I suspect that it's because I cut the netting too narrow so I will try again AND I emailed DD to ask if she has Mom's pattern, but I found a pattern for a scrubbie made with one strand of dishcloth cotton and one thin strip of netting.  So I grabbed a ball of yarn, some needles, and cut some of the netting Mom had into strips and took it to work with me on Thursday.  I learned quickly that netting is not easy to tension and where it slides (heh, more like scrapes) over your skin it hurts, but I persevered and finished one.  I forgot to crochet a hanging loop before I cut my yarn but I carefully made one out of the tail.  I like it.  I'm going to leave it over at DS & DIL1's today so they can test it out.  Thursday night after supper I sat at the table, tying the strips of netting together and then winding the loong strips onto cardboard tubes.  I discovered that it's easier to leave the yarn in a bag and put the netting in an old oatmeal box so that they only tangle and twist at the ends and not all togehter in the bag.  Then I made a scrubbie for me yesterday.  I can't decide if I want to weave in the knot tails, cut them off, or just leave them poking out.  What to do?




I've been working on the afghan block too, really I have.  I finished the third miter last night at knitting (I took the picture yesterday morning when there were only 2 miters done) and my first order of business today (after my shower) is to pick up stitches for the last one of the square so by the end of the day I'll be working on the first log cabin strip.  Really, this is going well, and quickly.  It's amazing how fast you can get something made when you focus on just one thing at a time.  Amazing.

Ack! It's Raining.

Not what I want to see on a January Saturday.  It's not raining much, just enough to make a few rings in the birdbath, which is ice-free for the first time this year.  It's just over freezing and slated to plummet overnight into the single digits for the week.  Oh yeah, that's January in Wisconsin--38 one day and 8 the next.  Bah.

I get to go play with Porter this afternoon since DS & DIL1 are off working at a beer fest in Madison for the day.  (can't forget the bag of peels for Henny & Penny)  Woohoo, I get to play out in the slush.  Better wear my waterproof boots instead of the "fashion" ones.  No, not fashion ones like city girls wear (see the quotes?) but they're fake suede so they look a bit less construction site or tromping through the woods-ish than the others.  I wear the suede ones to work because they're a whole heck of a lot warmer than tennis shoes and I'm all about having warm feet.
 
Yesterday afternoon the sunset was really pretty seen through the bare maple tree.  The pictures aren't quite as vivid as it was in real life, but I still think it's pretty, don't you?

I saw a recipe for hot cereal on the Weight Watchers site the other day that looked like it'd be good so I thought I'd make it.  It's made with quinoa (keen-wah) and sauteed apples, brown sugar, cinnamon, and butter.  It's... okay.  It needs salt badly but it's still not very breakfast-y to me.  I'll eat it (because a little box of quinoa was five bucks at Walmart) but I think I'll give the rest of the uncooked quinoa to DS & DIL1.  I suspect we won't be eating it anytime soon.  It is cute with its little white tail when it's cooked... maybe if it was something savory rather than sweet...  We'll see.  Durwood bought a new WW cookbook at Cook's Corner yesterday (he had a 50% off coupon from something in the closeout room), maybe something intriguing in there needs quinoa.  We liked it with the roast lamb at Christmas dinner.

January 19--Mary Cassatt, Portrait of a Young Girl.  Summer was here.  School was out and Sylvie was all dressed up in her best pink dress and hat getting her portrait painted.  She liked Mme. Cassatt; she was a very nice lady who talked to Sylvie like she was a human girl not a dog or cat who didn't understand things.  Mme. Cassatt let Sylvie pose sitting in the cool grass not shut up in a stuffy room.  She even told Sylvie to pick a blade of grass and put it in her mouth just to give her something to do.  Sylvie tried her best to sit still and look where the artist told her to but she was tired of posing and she was sure that there were ants crawling up her legs.  She hated ants.

When DD was 2 years old she hated ants, was terrified of them.  She'd see a bunch of them crawling on the driveway and stomp from foot to foot screaming, "ants!"  I don't think she ever squished one.  Fun times.  Time to shower and get my day going.  It's 11 o'clock.
--Barbara

Friday, January 18, 2013

A Snowy Day

Not mean wet, heavy, blowing snow just the tiny flake, falling with purpose kind.  It's supposed to snow most of the day but only bring a couple inches.  That's okay, it'll cover up all the bare patches from last week's thaw.  Maybe KW and I will get to snowshoe after all.

I had a customer yesterday!  A paying one!  That was good and I didn't even fall asleep afterward.  I did "borrow" some paper and toner and reprinted my latest manuscript rewrite.  Seems I had gone all the way through it at The Clearing in September and never printed that out so my next rewrite starts one step forward than I thought.  That's kind of energizing, even though I am facing re-keying 147 double-spaced pages, slotting in expansion scenes when I come to them.  (I have notes, sheets of notes, and a page with "bubbles" of scenes radiating from the center.  That's a lot of rewriting ammo.)

Today I relearned (for the bajillionth time) that I can't eat candy and expect to see the Wii Body Test number go down.  Huh.  *head, palm*  Now do you see why I say I need a keeper?  I do not understand how I can want to reduce so badly and then derail my own self so blithely.  Gah.  And yet I kind of resent Durwood (at least my 7 yr. old self does) for "making" me eat Weight Watcher-y food.  This food plan is MY idea, has been from the start.  I'M the one who handed him the WW cookbooks and said, "cook like this."  I sneak around eating things when he can't see me as if it doesn't count when he can't see.  How stupid is that?  I can answer that, it's VERY stupid.  I despair.

January 18--Oscar Schmidt, Mandolin Harp.  Uncle Leo sat in the darkest corner of the dark room that was the center of Burke and Barbara's house.  His fingers were never still.  On Friday and Saturday nights his busy fingers played the mandolin harp that Grandpa Paul bought off the riverboat Ohio Maid in 1871.  Grandpa Paul played the concertina and he got the harp for Leo so that they could play together in the band at the men's club down on Fulton Street.  After Grandpa Paul died that winter Thursday, Uncle Leo wouldn't leave the house.  He played his harp in the corner on Friday and Saturday nights in the corner and the rest of the time he sat there in the dark with his fingers tapping on his knees.

Okay, that's a mishmash of aged relatives from both sides of my family and very little reality.  Must be why they call it fiction.  Gotta go eat some cereal then get my blood test.  Stay warm.
--Barbara

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Lemon Sky

(I'd rather have a lemon pie, but no such luck.)  I just glanced out and the far eastern sky is a pale, pale yellow.  The western sky is pink.  Evidently the sunrise moves across the sky just like the sunset does and I've never noticed it.  Bad form for such a dedicated sky watcher as me.  None of this color will stay, of course.  Before I know it the sky will be a high arch of pale blue and the temperature will rocket up to... 17 for the day.  

You'd better believe that I'm wearing multiple layers of clothes to work since I sit there knitting or web surfing, don't do much to warm myself up.  Lunch is a real landmark of the day.  Yesterday JJ (one of the dive instructors) limped in (he fell off the ladder at work a while back and it still hurts; his foot's broken but in a place they can't splint so he just needs to wear firm-soled shoes [no tennies or slippers] until it heals itself, bummer) on his way home from the doc so I had someone to talk to for half an hour.  It made my day.  Plus my hands were freezing and his are warm so while we talked about his delayed custom drysuit he warmed mine up.  Now it'll look like we were holding hands on the security cam but we weren't, not really.  Nope not holding hands with JJ.  Only with Durwood.  Okay, JJ's and my hands were together but it wasn't meaningful, only warm and friendly.  No, not that kind of friendly either.  Some customer once asked if we were married but we both had one of those "ewww" shivers.  It was kind of funny.  We're more like sister and brother.  I also got online and ordered another box of 40 pairs of toe warmers, the previous box is about gone.  My feet freeze even with wool socks so I stick these little chemical packs to my socks and they stay warm all day.  Totally worth a buck a pack.

That's all for today.  I didn't write last night, don't know why, just wasn't in the mood, also it was cold in here.  See ya.
--Barbara

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Got More Done

Yesterday's drive to Appleton to see the Leonardo da Vinci's Machines in Motion exhibit and back gave me time to power through the last log cabin strip on Bandwagon Afghan Block #11.  Only 1 more block to go!  

Then I get to sew them together and either knit an attached I-cord edging (the pattern way) or wimp out and crochet around it a few times and call it good.  I'm tempted by the I-cord only because I had the idea to use the ends of the cross skeins for the edging with maybe some of the background colors between them.  We shall see.  First thing is to knit Block #12 and seam it up.  Edging consideration will ensue when I contemplate the vastness of the task ahead.

O, Leonardo!

OMG, if the exhibit of Leonardo da Vinci's Machines in Motion every comes to roost anywhere close to where you live, like within a couple hours' drive, go.  Go, go, GO.  We went yesterday, and I have to say that I was a bit reluctant because of the entry fee ($15 adults/$13.50 geezers), but Monday was payday and I decided to use this week's stash money for it.  I. Am. SO. Glad.  They offered Durwood a wheelchair and he took it (!!) so he got to enjoy the exhibit without needing to look for a resting spot every few minutes.  There was a school group there, 2nd graders maybe, which made it even more fun because neither of us is shy with kids and we just played along with them.  The machines are made of wood and nearly all of them are interactive with cranks and falling marbles and pulleys lifting weights.  Oh, mama, it was like a playground of genius.  I got a lot of fun out of figuring out how the things he imagined were in use today.  He had one that made a turning motion transfer 90 degrees--kind of like the drive shaft of your car does at the differential gear in the drive axle.  Hmm.  At that machine an intent young man, maybe 13, was turning the crank and I told him that he was now a car engine.  He just smiled.  It was fascinating.  And the flying things, oh my, so beautiful.  And he made "swimming hands"--guess who sells things that look almost identical for people's feet.  Me, think scuba fins.  The only disappointment was that there isn't a companion book (or maybe they were sold out), so I had to buy a book of his illustrations and I'll have to check to see what the library's got in the way of Leonardo biographies or something.  (Free from the library might be better than bought, except for the not keeping part.)

There's a "meh" exhibit about Houdini's escape tricks (I was kinda jaded after Leonardo wowed me) and downstairs there was one about papermaking and an interesting timeline of Appleton's history with Edna Ferber, who went Lawrence University in Appleton and was the first female reporter at the Appleton Post at the end.

The hours we spent at the museum went by in a blink.  Then we lunched at Wendy's, stopped at Penzeys for peppercorns (hey, they're cheaper for a lot more than any grocery and we were in Appleton anyway, besides Durwood had a coupon for free cumin), then drove home to visit 3 groceries, pop into the bank again to give Tom the banker a flyer about Leo (Leo and I are pals now, he calls me Babs), and then home just at dark.  Good thing Festival had their St. Louis Ribs on sale for ten bucks a slab so he just microzapped fresh green beans and a butternut squash and, voila!, supper.  We were both more than a little pooped and Durwood said that his arms were achy from rolling himself around in the wheelchair, although I noticed that he was having fun doing that, zipping around like one of the school kids.

January 16--Vasily Kandinsky, Improvisation 27 (The Garden of Love II)  Life is messy and in Leyla's world it came in bright colors.  Sounds echoed and pounded the red and yellow rooms.  Leyla held her breath when Martin painted his door black.  She knew that bad things would come through a black door and there Martin was, lying in the snow all white and blue and still.

I was so tired I was cross-eyed, but I kind of like it.  It's Kandinsky-esque, don't you think?  Hey, Aunt B, I remake resolutions just about every year.  I don't think you have to have a new one, you just have to rededicate yourself to an old one and that counts.  In my book anyway.  I made some Weight Watchers quinoa & apples hot breakfast cereal last night (sauteed apples, butter, brown sugar, cinnamon--what's not to like?) so I'm going to go heat up a serving to see if it was worth paying five bucks for a 2 cup box of quinoa, which I'm not sure I'm going to like five bucks' worth.  Change is good.  Maybe.
--Barbara