Friday, December 15, 2017

Done 10 Days Early!

I have been determined to get the puppets for LC and OJ done before the eleventh hour on
Christmas Eve--and I did it.  I sewed the horns onto the head and the head onto the body last night before supper, and then this morning I took it downstairs and hemmed the body.  Done!  Now I just have to organize the gifts for the Kentucky part of the family that isn't able to come for Christmas this year, get it all wrapped, boxed, and ready to be mailed on Monday.  Then put up the tree, make cookies (only one kind), and nail down exactly what I need to buy for next Saturday's family supper and what I want to fix when my friend Lala comes for an overnight next Friday on her way "up north" to see her mom.  The puppets are the last gifts to be gotten so I'm feeling pretty good--at the moment.  I'm absolutely certain that the standard feeling of being overwhelmed at Christmastime is just around the corner.



I made the English Toffee this morning.  I thought about making a half-batch to halve the temptation of bags of buttery, sugary, chocolatey candy lying around but Durwood convinced me that a full batch is what we needed.  I suspect I'll be handing it out to friends, acquaintances, and maybe even strangers on the street if I struggle to resist the siren call of the stuff.  I've got a pound of butter softening in the mixing bowl so I can make a batch of butter cookies to be sliced and decorated, toddler-style, and baked one of these days.  Just what I need, cookies ready to eat.  Maybe I'll blindfold the scale until after the first of the year.

December 15--Dante Gabriel Rossetti, La Pia de Tolommei.  Clouds piled up on the western horizon and a large flock of crows seemed to pull them across the sky.  The breeze stilled, not a leaf moved.  It was as if the whole world held its breath.  From far off, the sound of pattering raindrops grew closer.  The rain was so fierce that it blotted out the trees and obscured the road so that cars pulled over, their drivers unable to see.  Tia gripped the windowsill facing down the storm, daring it to do its worst.  It did.  Trees blew over or surrendered all their leaves so they looked like skeletons thrashing in the wind.  One of Maynard's cows blew by bawling out its fear to the uncaring wind.

And that's all there is about that.  Now I'm going to go poke my butter to see if it's soft enough to mix into cookie dough.  Wish me luck.
--Barbara

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Abigail the Snowstorm

I never heard the name of yesterday's storm until neighbor LJ stopped over to see how the snowblower ran when I was shoveling the salty slush off the driveway this afternoon.  He's a nice man.  I didn't have to go out to shovel last night because the renter did my driveway when he did his.  My turn at the snowblower yesterday left him with a much easier job.  I was out before sunrise this morning and the battle with the plow drift wasn't easy but I just took smaller nibbles of the frozen drift and eventually got it to go away.  When I was finishing up the sun was turning the clouds pink so I hurried in for my camera but it had already begun to fade when I got back outside.  I like the fact that the pink moves into the western sky so I can take pictures 180 degrees from each other and still get pretty pink sky.





I went to the grocery for Chex Mix makings and to Fleet Farm for nuts for it and English Toffee and enjoyed being out in not much wind and lots of sunshine.  Such a huge change from yesterday when it was about 30 degrees and snowing and blowing like crazy.  According to the National Weather Service we got about 6.5" of snow from Snowstorm Abigail.





Does anything smell better than a big bowl of cereal, pretzels, and nuts baking in a slurry of butter, Worcestershire sauce, and garlic powder?  Maybe sauteing onions, bell pepper, and garlic comes close or frying bacon but right now it's taking all of my self-control not to take my 5 oz. Dixie cup into the kitchen for a refill.  I figured I could allow myself that much per day--of course I had another mittful when I went to take the picture--but once it's cooled off I'll package it up so it won't be sitting out there being all tempting, and heating up the chicken spaghetti for supper will dilute the fragrance of it.  Maybe that'll help.  I have no earthly idea how many points to charge myself for this stuff so I'm going to pretend it doesn't exist.  I plan to make a batch of butter cookies and one of English Toffee in the next couple days, both of those items will be sorely tempting but I'll pass some out or hide it or put it all in Durwood's bedroom... I'll think of some way to diminish the damage to the numbers on the scale.

December 14--Girolamo da Cremona, Biblical Sacrifice (from Illuminated Book of Religious Music).  Old men in long robes are the ones in charge of sacrifices.  They control the fate of society with a combination of ritual and fear.  They are learned.  They can read.  They use their education to solidify their power.  Young men are too impulsive.  They are too rebellious and they ask too many questions that challenge the old men's beliefs.  The young men are dangerous.  They are also susceptible to women's wiles, something the old men have regretfully left behind.  Impetuous and lusty, the young men are held up as examples of how not to be.  Women are barely considered at all.

Okay.  I promise that I am going right into the living room to sew the horns onto the sides of the pink puppet's head and then sew the head to the body and I am NOT going into the kitchen for more Chex Mix.  I will leave my Dixie cup right here so I'm not even tempted.  Cross my heart.
--Barbara

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Winter Came Today

There was a little snow on the ground when I got up this morning and it was still falling.  It hasn't stopped yet.  I went out and ran the snowblower up and down the driveway and it only took me one pass to figure out which way to blow the snow.  Of course I was plastered with wet snow from the top of my head to my waist on the upwind side of me.  AND I forgot the first lesson of snowblowing, which is "take your glasses off."  I had so much melted snow on the inside of my glasses lenses it looked like I was walking in rain.  Durwood had a dental appointment this afternoon and I had to go around the block again after I dropped him off because the snow on the driveway was too slick for me to back out of the garage and drive back in.  I love winter.  No, I don't.  I especially don't like it when it snows and blows like it is today.  I'll go out after supper and clear the driveway again and in the night the snowplow will come by and shove a nice, heavy drift across the bottom of the driveway and I'll be out there again in the morning.  Just think of all the steps I'll have on my Vivofit from this storm.  

Instead of sewing today I went to the grocery for fruits and veggies and to Kwik Trip for bananas and to Fleet Farm for on-sale ice melt salt.  50# bags are heavy.  I've been working on the Black & Blue Shrug, trying to add a couple rows while I watch TV in the evening.  I'm almost to the place where I put the sleeve stitches on waste yarn and start knitting the body.  I'm wearing the first sweater I made with this pattern right now and it's snuggly and warm.  I know a person can buy sweaters, socks and hats too, but I really like making them.

December 13--Henri Rousseau, Portrait of Pierre Loti.  The man in the fez had a cat in his pocket.  Not a kitten, a cat.  The cat looked perfectly happy to be perched in his jacket pocket a smug look on its face.  But to be honest don't all cats look smug and self-satisfied?  I wasn't sure what to make of the fez-wearing man either.  There didn't appear to be a convention of Shriners in town.  There were too many young women about and any self-respecting mama kept her daughters at home when the Shriners convened in their city.  I think the man was French.  He wore a gold pinkie ring and was smoking one of those smelly French cigarettes.  And then there was the cat in his pocket.  He had to be an eccentric Frenchman.

And that's it for my day, mostly spent dealing with snow and fetching nutritious food and driving on slick streets trying to keep the snow from pulling the wheel out of my hands.  It's good to be tucked in safe at home.  Except for having to go out and blow snow again before bedtime, that is.
--Barbara

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Trying to Do Too Much in One Day...

... leads to a lack of blogging activity that day.  I did get in my yoga practice, meditated, and did step aerobics.  Then I read the newspaper, did the Jumble and Sudoku puzzles and the crossword, before doing a sinkful of dishes.  In the afternoon Durwood had an appointment, we went to the store, and came home for supper.

Oh, I just remembered how yesterday started.  DS called at 7 AM to say that the car we're lending him had a dead battery and would I please deal with it because they both had to get the kids to day care and get to their jobs with one car.  So, I called AAA, met the battery guy at DS's house where he got it started fairly quickly, then called AAA back asking for it to be towed to our mechanic's (which is 3 blocks from home but across town from DS's house) so he could check it over.  Sorry, they won't tow a running car.  Uhhhh.  I called the car guy, explained the problem, he volunteered to drive it over if I came to get him, so I drove back across town, picked Joe up, drove back to DS's, gave Joe the key fob (which I'd removed so I could lock the car but not turn it off), and drove back home.  That got me to about 9:30, so my morning activities were slightly delayed.  The best part of the whole car battery debacle was that I got to pick up DS after he got off work and drive him to pick up the car so I got a little visit with my son at the end of the day.  Nice.


Today I got all my morning stuff--yoga, meditate, step, newspaper, puzzles, Bullet Journal--done by about 11 o'clock so I went downstairs to work on the pink puppet.  I'm down to the putzy, hand-sewing parts.  The first hurdle was figuring out how to attach the eyelashes to the pompom eyes and then how to sew the whole shebang onto the top of the head.  Tomorrow I'll sew the horns on the sides, stuff the head, and sew it to the body and it'll be done.


There were lots of breakfasting birds and tree rats (aka squirrels) this morning.  I wish the picture showed the activity of the scene.



 



This male Downy Woodpecker was really working at getting his fill of suet.




 
I hope you can see all the little bird feet tracks in this thin layer of snow.  It makes me think of Japanese paper.




Here's how the sky looked when I took out the trash and recycling tonight.  See how far down south the sun has moved?  Pretty soon it'll start coming back and the days will get longer--and they'll foist Daylight Savings Time on us again, robbing us of an hour's sleep.

December 12--Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, Madonna of the Host.  You could tell she was uncertain about it.  The way she held her fingertips together to keep from touching it or knocking it off of the table.  No one wants to find a glowing white disk in the middle of the room casting a creepy light over Grandma's hand-crocheted doily.  It's unnatural.  Maybe Benny, that little prankster, had set this up and was even now hiding behind the heavy drapes waiting for her to touch the thing.  It would probably give her a shock if she did.

It was so cold today I thought my fingers were going to fall off when I took out the trash--and I wore gloves.  At least it was sunny.  Of course I was in the basement during most of the sunshine but I felt it, I know I did.  Speaking of cold, I think it's time for some ice cream.  Toodle-oo.
--Barbara

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Vanquishing a Glacier


A couple weeks ago I was looking around in the downstairs freezer and realized that it desperately needed defrosting.  Then I remembered that we bought 5# of gulf shrimp from the shrimp truck and needed to make room for the nine 1/2# packages of succulent shrimp that is going to enrich our winter menu.  (they were taking up half of the upstairs freezer)  So just after I got up I went downstairs, lined a couple big laundry baskets with a blanket and beach towel each, and emptied the freezer, remembered to unplug it, and left the door open for a couple hours.  Once I was ready I went down with an extension cord and hair dryer, nabbed a screwdriver with a resin handle off the workbench and a wallpaper scraper from a shelf, and got to work.  I am eternally grateful that the freezer stands about two feet from the floor drain and I was smart enough to spread another beach towel (we used to have a pool; I have a garbage can half full of the things) over the floor of the freezer to catch the falling frost and dripping water.  Halfway through the operation I dragged the sopping towel over to the washer and sent it for a spin to wring it out (I thought that was a fairly brilliant way to get some of the water out) so it could soak up more water.  Then I neatly and organizedly (is that even a word??) replace all of the still firmly frozen stuff back in there, cleaned up the ice floes on the floor, and came upstairs.


I thought I was being so smart and went to Sam's and Walmart during today's Packer game thinking that there'd be not as many people there.  I was wrong.  I got all the stuff on my lists, even got one more Xmas gift closer to being done.  (Hooray!)  Once I had some lunch I went back downstairs to start work on the pink puppet.  I sewed the mouth onto one of the head pieces, sewed the head pieces together, and turned it right side out.  The mouth was way too big and there was no way I was going to pick out black stitches on black fleece so I tossed it and started over.  Much better.  I got the rest of the pieces sewn together and then it was time to come upstairs to make supper.



Man, did I make fabulous supper.  I thawed a piece of swordfish we got on sale in
November and 2 ears of grilled corn on the cob from last summer.  See, Weight Watchers made chicken, turkey, fish, shellfish, beans, corn, and peas be zero points because they're "part of a healthy diet" which means I can put a little butter on a cob of corn and only "spend" 2 points instead of 5 points.  (Their reasoning for changing the points to zero is that it's a whole lot harder to eat six chicken breasts than six cookies so the zero points foods are self-limiting by sheer volume. Not a bad thought but I'm still peeved that they yoinked away seven daily points.  I'll keep working to get them back, don't you worry about that.)  I marinated the fish in lime juice, soy sauce, garlic, and a tiny bit of dark sesame oil for half an hour, then broiled it for 6 minutes on a side.  The corn I wrapped in paper towels and reheated in the microwave.  It's nowhere near as tasty as fresh but it's got a can of niblets beat all to heck.  The swordfish was so filling we've both got half saved for supper tomorrow night.  The only part of the fish recipe that cost any points is the bit of sesame oil so my supper was a whopping 3 WW points.  Now I have to eat some ice cream just to use up my spare points.  Poor me.

December 10--Claude Monet, Church at Varengeville.  From a distance the church looked more like a rock formation than a building.  It was foggy which made the illusion more complete.  Roger and Eleanor had been on the road since early morning.  A traffic pile-up on Highway 78 had slowed them considerably so they decided to stop for the night at the next town, maybe take a walk to stretch their cramped muscles, get a decent meal, and set out rested and fresh in the morning.  A light gleamed through the thinning fog and they saw the church on top of the hill.  They followed signs and were soon in downtown May Falls which looked like the town that time forgot.

I'm happy with that.  Sometimes what comes when I look at the night's picture prompt surprises me.  Sometimes a tiny part of the picture or even something that seems totally unrelated pops into my head and I pin it to a notebook page before it skitters away and gets lost in the night.  I hung up the jingle bell wreath and door decoration yesterday.  Maybe I'll do more Christmas-ing tomorrow.  Or not.  Maybe I'll keep working on the pink puppet.  Yeah, I'll probably do that.
--Barbara

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Squirrel Party

That's what we had this morning, a squirrel party at the feeders.  There's one on the peanut wreath, one under it to catch any nuts that drop, one on the backside of the square feeder, one on the corn cobs by the fence, one on the fence, and one in the apple tree above.  There had been more but they vamoosed when a boss squirrel arrived.


As you see, we had a little overnight snow.  Somebody forgot to clear the toys off the patio yesterday afternoon so they got snowed on but I took the shovel out to clear off the patio, picked up the toys and big wheel, and put them in the garage for the winter.  I suspect that there won't be a lot of big wheel riding or pool toy needing for a few months, even if I do manage to keep the patio shoveled, which I always say I'm going to do but usually manage not to.



Last night's sunset was pretty.  Of course, it was prettier a few minutes earlier as I was fetching my camera but I like when there's a slit near the horizon for the sun to shine through.  Ignore the power lines and poles, please.


I got the second puppet cut out and think I've figured out how to make it look kind of like the creatures in that video that LC and OJ like so much.  I'm hoping to have time later and/or tomorrow to start putting it together.  These are the only Christmas gifts I'm making so I'd really really REALLY like to have them done soon.


I worked on the Black & Blue shrug at knitting last night and got to the end of the first skeins of yarn so I am making progress but it doesn't really look that much different than it did the last time I showed it to you so I'm not going to.  Show it to you, that is.

December 9--Pieter Brueghel the Younger, Winter Landscape.  It was cold that day, so cold that the sap in a few of the trees froze and exploded out of the branches.  It sounded like little firecrackers and sent Georges, the old baker, diving under his kitchen table.  Georges had lived through the last war that had raged back and forth through the village as if it were the 50-yard line on a country-sized football field.  He thought the erratic pops sounded like small arms fire and he had been through more than enough of that for one lifetime.

My Wii Fit platform thing (I think it looks like a cafeteria tray) has developed a glitch.  Every once in a while when I fire it up to do my step aerobics (4-5 times/week) I have it weigh me. I don't take it as gospel, more as a between "official" weigh-ins quick check.  I did that this morning and it said that I've lost 17.4# since last Sunday.  Now you and I both know that the only way I'd lose that much weight in that short a time would be to amputate a leg (or two) so I'm thinking glitch.  It's probably such an outdated game thing I can't buy a new one.  Maybe I'll troll through eBay later just to see what's out there.  Time to find some lunch.
--Barbara

Thursday, December 7, 2017

And Snowy

Look at what I woke up to.  Well, not just me, the whole neighborhood, probably the whole west side, maybe even the whole city.  It's all of 22 degrees out there and still a bit breezy.  *shivers*  Maybe I can avoid going to get bananas.  Nah, I need to go, don't I?  We're out and we can't have that.


I didn't sleep well last night so accomplishing anything today has been a real struggle.  I managed to hand sew a beard onto the puppet, trim it, and then stuff and sew the head to the body--a little cockeyed, I must admit--so all it needs is hemming to be ready for its Christmas destiny.  Next comes a pink... creature with pompom eyes, luxurious eyelashes, and horns--that sings the refrain of LC & OJ's favorite video song.


December 7--Joseph-Desire Court, Woman with Mask.  It was her gloves that caught his attention.  They were white calfskin, so thin as to be nearly transparent, formed to her hands, buttoned at the wrist, and trimmed with ruffled lace.  He's never seen anything like them.  Maybe she was an actress dressed for a performance or an heiress off to a ball.  It no longer mattered which because she would never get there.  The bloody gash across her throat guaranteed it.

And that's all I've got.  Except for a lack-of-sleep headache that I plan to get rid of by going to bed right quick once it's dark.
--Barbara

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

C-c-c-cold & Windy

And random white specks are blowing in the wind.  (did you just start singing in your head? I did)  I went out to top up the birdbath this morning and found it half-iced.  The weather guessers said the wind was supposed to stop blowing around 6 o'clock yesterday evening.  It didn't.  Or if it did, it only stopped long enough to catch its breath and start again.



I need to get myself back down to the dive shop and trace off the right size of Dress No. 2 so I can make myself a flannel dress out of that cool graphic fabric I bought.  Maybe Saturday...








Yesterday afternoon and evening I worked on the first pseudo-Muppet puppet I'm making for LC and OJ for Christmas.  This is my interpretation of Mahna-Mahna with his mouth wide open and his hair all wild.  Next I'll handstitch on a narrow piece of the hairy stuff below his mouth and trim it short to suggest his beard, then the head gets stuffed and sewn to the body part.  Oh, and the bottom needs to be hemmed.  I hope Jim Henson's ghost doesn't come to haunt me or his lawyers come to sue me.  I don't think they will because they're just toys for toddlers to play with, I'm not going into production.


December 6--A Little Boy with a Horse in Winter.  Galen rubbed a clear spot in the frost on the window.  The day had turned cold and windy.  Snow had fallen, borne on the wind to cluster at the base of the low bushes that bordered his yard.  The streetlight down on the corner made a bluish glow that reminded him of a spotlight in an old movie.  Into the light walked a small boy dressed for the weather in leather boots, wool pants and coat, and a dark red earflap hat.  He held a leather lead in one mittened hand.  At the other end of the lead was a white horse, twice as tall as the boy and immensely stronger.  Galen wasn't sure if the boy led the horse or the horse drove the boy.  Neither of them showed any tension, just a boy leading his horse or a horse walking his boy, both of them wreathed in their frosty white breath as the evening grew colder.

I've decided to ignore the WW points reduction and keep eating the way I have been for the last month (in which I have lost 11#), keep logging what I'm eating, and keep logging my activity.  If they want to arbitrarily reduce my points they can but I'm going to keep doing what's working for me.  So there.
--Barbara

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Five Days Feels Like Five Hundred...

... when my laptop's in the fixit shop.  It didn't help that I got a call on Saturday afternoon that it was ready and then when I got there and turned it on, it wouldn't boot up.  Arrgh.  So it had to spend the weekend there.  Fortunately I realized on Sunday (finally) that I can post on FB from my phone.  I could probably blog post from there too but it seems like it'd be a real struggle.  Aaanyway, I went in there yesterday afternoon and got it back.  Huzzah!  I probably could have written a blog post last night but it was our anniversary plus WW changed my daily points allowance (took 7 away and, man, am I PO'ed about that) so I spent the better part of the afternoon and evening eating all the wrong things and too much of them.  I'll show them, I'll overeat to punish them for changing my diet.  (Uh, not a great approach.)  So that's why I didn't blog last night.

I've made lots of thing or finished them since last we visited.  Brace yourself, there are pictures of all of it.

I finally got around to finishing the red & brown paisley Dress No. 1.  I like it.  I've worn it just about every day since I got it done on Saturday.  I should probably put it down the chute tonight.
On Thursday I finished OJ's Northern Lights mittens, idiot string and all, and, as predicted, he didn't leave them on long when we were out filling birdfeeders and raking leaves.



 
LC asked if there was another car blanket since OJ had one on his lap and there wasn't one for her.  Meemaw can fix that.  I had a remnant of jigsaw puzzle fleece and a length of Charlie Brown baseball fabric downstairs; I even had a enough binding to go around the edges.  It was a hit because one of the characters on there shares her first name and her daddy took her to a baseball game last summer and she liked it.


I've been working on the Black & Blue Shrug.  I need to work on it more because I really want to wear it because yesterday it was 61 degrees at 10:30 PM and it's maybe 29 degrees today and WINDY.  Really windy.  I didn't find the newspaper so I called the delivery guy and he called me back to say that people's newspapers blew away all over town today so we'll get a credit.  I had to go to CVS to get the last copy on my way to get the van's oil changed or we'd be out of luck, news wise.  The sweater would grow faster if I knitted on it more but I have so many fun thing to make it's hard to be monogamous.

I worked on the heel of the Crazy Z Reds Campfire Sock yesterday in a waiting room and finished turning the heel last night after supper so now comes the slog down the foot, knitting around and around until time to decrease for the toe.  The foot part of socks is when I wish I had smaller feet.




Another quick project like the car blanket (or "blankelet" as OJ says; they correct him but I hope he says it for a little while longer) was picking up stitches and adding a couple rows of ribbing to the convertible tops of these mittens.  The edge was rolling and it annoyed me so I just scooped up some stitches knitted a couple rows of k1, p1 rib then sewed the narrow side to the mitten body so the ribbing didn't flap all loose too.  I wore them today and the edges of the tops are much better behaved.

Sorry I don't have any sky or sunset pix to share.  I've been busy with making and being twitchy because my laptop wasn't here so I felt all off balance.  Isn't that sad?  How many years did I manage to live happily and keep myself occupied without my electronic crutch?  Too many to count but I sure am hooked on it now.  I kept wanting to go look something up, like how to keep the Christmas cactus I bought at the grocery alive for more than a week, and then I'd remember that I was offline and be disconsolate.  I should be ashamed.  Have you seen that supplements ad for Lutien which is supposed to help your eyes deal with all the "blue light" from staring at a screen all the time?  Really?  There's a supplement for that?  Our civilization is doomed.

December 5--Peru, A Featherwork Tabard from the Nazca/Huari Traditional Period.  "Did they eat the birds," Lianne asked, "or just rip off their feathers?"  Mike snorted.  "Of course they ate the birds," he said, "food was too hard to get to waste it."  They stood looking at a macaw and flamingo feather cape some early South American tribesman had worn.  "No woman got to wear anything like this, did she?"  Lianne was always on the lookout for instances of inequality.  Mike was getting tired of being the voice of reason, of always having to defend things men did a thousand year before he was born. 

That's it for today.  It's dark already.  Only 16 more days until the light starts creeping back ever so slowly.  I can't wait.
--Barbara

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

The Kumquat In Detox?

My nephew and I named my previous laptop "Kumquat" (we even made a logo) and the name has been transferred to this one too.  It seems that the Kumquat has acquired a virus and needs to go to the fixit place.  My usual fixit guy's company doesn't do computer service anymore which was a terrible shock when I called him last week to schedule an appointment.  I asked for recommendations for other equally honest and reliable service people and called one today.  See, I've been reluctant to take it in because that means I'll be without a computer for a day or more, maybe two or three days, so I want to warn you that this might be the last blog post for a few days, maybe the rest of the week if the Kumquat has to spend the weekend in the shop.  *sigh*  It must be done.  The thing's running slower and slower and my onboard virus scans don't find anything so I suspect that whatever's in there is smart enough to hide from consumer-grade scans.


I heard a noisy truck out front this morning and it wasn't the garbologists, it was the leaf-picker-uppers.  Hooray!  I called the city Public Works office yesterday and she said that they still have a couple leaf collection crews out following the trash routes so I didn't get to call in a special leaf collection strike.  I'm just glad they're gone and I won't have leaf-smothered grass at the curb in the spring.




We had bird visitors again today.  The bluejay was doing its peanut acrobatics, a female cardinal had breakfast on the platform feeder, and a trio of sparrows had a group bath.  There are usually way more than three sparrows bathing at a time but this morning the rest of them must have been busy.















I didn't knit last night.  I just didn't feel like it so here's a picture of the afghan that I learned to knit on.  Each of those fish blocks uses the knit stitch, the purl stitch, increases, and decreases.  What more do you need?  By the time I had enough fish to make a good-size afghan I was a pretty darned confident beginning knitter.  It's been all uphill (or downhill if you're talking about money spent on stockpiling yarn, etc.) since then.

November 29--Lorenzo Lotto, Annunciation.  Imagine sitting in your room when a guy dressed in a blue toga and carrying a stem of lilies flies through the window and tells you that you're going to have a baby.  All by yourself.  No courtship, no foreplay, just, BAM!, you're having a baby.  Oh and, by the way, the baby daddy is God, as in G.O.D., the guy that created Heaven and Earth, etc. then took the weekend off.  Your mother is totally going to believe that story when "that time of the month" isn't coming around anymore.  She'll get you married off to Joe, the nice carpenter a couple blocks over so fast it'll make your head swim.  Joe's such a great guy he'll buy your story and agree to love the kid as if it was his own.

That was fun to write once I realized where it was going.  Man, I hope the Kumquat's brain isn't too badly infected and it'll come home quickly.  Maybe it's just a slight case of a virus that's easy to cure.  Fingers--and checkbook --crossed.
--Barbara

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

One Big Bird

And not the Sesame Street one either.  There I was sitting at the kitchen table finishing my lovely lunch when I noticed a big white blotch way up in the maple tree beside the parking lot in our backyard.  I squinted up at it (what? I'm old, I squint) and realized that it was a great big hawk (about 24" tall) preening its feathers and swiveling its head looking for its own lunch.  It was puffed up to stay warm so it looked BIG.  I got out the bird books and decided that it was a Red-tailed Hawk.  I was surprised to see chickadees and other small birds flitting around the feeders but then I read that Red-Tailed Hawks eat rodents, not birds, so the birds were safe.  However there were no chipmunks or bunnies around.  Come to think of it, it's been a while since I've seen a chipmunk.  Hmm.

Speaking of my lovely lunch, here it is.  A small flour tortilla spread with a tiny bit of Fat-free Mayo with 1 1/2 oz. of deli turkey topped with a handful (maybe 1/2 cup) of broccoli slaw dribbled with a teeny tiny bit of wasabi dressing, a handful of red grapes and 5 or 6 baby carrots for more crunch.  All for just 4 WW points which is a good thing because today is Tuesday and Tuesday is pizza day.  We get a large one from Papa Murphy's, eat half tonight and keep the rest for Friday night.  I know, living in the fast lane.  Anyway, we've gotten a pizza every Tuesday night for years, ever since they started the $10 Tuesday program.  Tonight when I went it to get our pie they wouldn't let me pay for it.  I was confused and not a little bit stunned but took my pizza and came home.  I guess it pays to eat pizza every Tuesday.  Or something.







Last night after supper I finished the first of OJ's mittens and cast on the next one, getting the cuff completed before deciding to add some rows to the Black & Blue Shrug.  I like the way the two yarns look held together but the black mohair is a bear to knit with.  It likes to cling to itself and the other yarn and sometimes the stitch before or after it.  It isn't very well behaved yarn but I like the fuzziness of it so I'll put up with a certain level of stubborn independence.








This morning I cleaned out the upstairs freezer.  See how organized it is?  I had a good idea about some things in there and others were like unearthing a mammoth from permafrost.  I tossed out all the ice in the box because keeping the freezer door open for half an hour would probably turn the cubes into a glacier.  I figured it was better to start over.  I spent a few minutes after finishing portioning out the carton of chocolate ice cream to keep from being overserved.  According to the package there are 12 servings in there, I got 9.  I think I need remedial measuring lessons.  I'm not redoing it.  Next week I'll defrost the downstairs freezer then I can get the nine 1/2# packages of Gulf shrimp into that freezer and free up space in the upstairs one for a batch of breakfast burritos for Durwood now that fresh-from-the-garden tomato season is over.

I stayed up too late knitting last night so I didn't write the prompt so this is all there is.  I hope you're not bereft.  I'll try to put myself to bed a bit earlier so my eyes stay open long enough to scribble something down.  Adios.
--Barbara

Monday, November 27, 2017

Flashback to June

Because I went down to the dive shop to use the big table in the back room to trace and cut
out the three new patterns I got from 100 Acts of Sewing.  It was kind of weird to be there and not be working.  It's only the third time I've been there since retiring.  I got the leggings pattern traced and cut out, and the basic shirt, but when I was tracing the dress pattern I realized that they'd sent me the wrong size or I'd ordered the wrong one.  Dang it.  I quickly sent an email and got an almost instant reply that she'd put the right size in the mail.  In fact the mailing notice arrived in my email box before her response, and she said to keep the one sent in error to share with a friend.  Wanna be my friend?  As I was rolling the fabric back onto the bolt I finally realized what it reminds me of.  My great-grandmother had sheer white curtains in her parlor that were starched to the utmost and this fabric is very much like those curtains.  Oh thank goodness, it was bugging the daylights out of me trying to figure that out.


This morning's sky was beautiful, all blue with just the barest hint of pink in the east.  It was only after I came back inside that I realized I was out there barefoot in underpants and a hoodie.  Tsk.  Will I never learn?  Good thing it wasn't icy or April 1, right?






I've got the first of OJ's mittens knitted to the point of closing the top.  After supper I'll sit on the couch and get that done, then knit the little thumb, and cast on mitten #2.  Once that's done I'll take a crochet hook and make a string to connect them (idiot mittens, we call them) so they don't get lost when he takes them off which I am supremely confident he will do no matter how cold it is outside.

November 27--Edouard Vuillard, The Painter Jean-Louis Forain in His Studio.  Theodore sat in the same chair in the cafĂ© every morning.  Everyone in the neighborhood knew that the chair in the sunny corner was Theodore's.  That Tuesday a ruddy-faced man came in, ordered a black coffee, and sat in the sunny corner to read his newspaper.  All of the regulars stared as if at an apparition, then swiveled to look at the barista, Brandon.  Brandon felt all those eyes on him as he served the steady stream of morning customers.  In between pleasantries he thought about what he could say to the man to get him to vacate Theodore's place.  He glanced at the clock, the old man would arrive in five minutes.  He was very prompt.

I fell asleep at "pleasantries," did a bit of sleep scribbling, then I woke up enough to write down the rest before turning off the light and calling it a night.  Time to prepare tonight's turkey, gravy, some kind of potato, and veggies for supper.  Ah, leftovers.
--Barbara

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Look! Up in the Sky!

It's an airplane flying way, way high scribing a contrail across the early morning blue.  It was 22 degrees when I went out at 7 o'clock to top up the birdbath.  Brr.  Not doing yoga on the patio anymore in 2017, that's for sure.  I try to get done yog-ing before Durwood gets up so I can do it alongside the table where I can look out the patio doors but don't always succeed.  This morning I did my yoga in the living room where I have a view of the cluttered bottom shelf of the TV armoire.  Inspiring.  

And the capricious wind has blown some leaves back onto the patio but I'm going to call the Public Works Dept. tomorrow asking them to come get my leaf piles and call to cancel the lawn guy until next year.  The raking and leaf blowing the neighbor and I did on Friday is good enough, not pristine like the guy kitty-corner across the street but he's made a religion of his lawn so he doesn't count. 



Did I show you the new patterns I got last week from 100 Acts of
Sewing?  I don't think so.  This is Dress No. 2 and Pants No. 2 which are really leggings.  I get a giggle out of the creative names she gives her patterns but I really like their simplicity and how they've made me brave enough to experiment with fabrics and fit and style.  I'll be taking them and the bolt of thrift store fabric I use to draw off patterns down to the dive shop tomorrow to set up a meeting table in the back room to trace and cut them.  It's so much easier to use an 8' long table than the 5'-er I have downstairs and I'm too darned old to crawl around on the floor to do it.

Another of my Joann finds was a skein of yarn that matches the owl hat I made for OJ.  The mittens I made to go along with it are way too big for him so I found a toddler size mitten pattern and cast it on this morning.  Got one cuff done and am halfway to putting the thumb stitches on a holder.  It shouldn't take long to knit a pair of mittens for those little but busy hands.  I figure if they fit right maybe he'll even leave them on when we're playing outside.  Probably not, but I can hope. 

I've been sticking very close to the WW plan the last couple weeks, avoiding ice cream drive-thrus and grocery store sweet roll cases.  I even bought some 1/2 cup plastic containers because I've discovered that if I portion things out I don't overserve myself so there's a stack of 1/2 c. servings of chocolate ice cream in the freezer that I eat with the tiniest demitasse spoon I own.  Today I was in the grocery store and thought maybe I could find a single cookie.   The bakery doesn't have a service case anymore and all the cookies come in dozens so I looked on the "reduced bakery" rack and found a single cookie.  I put it into my cart but decided that, while it was a single cookie, it was probably a bit off-plan, if you know what I mean.  I put it back.  Besides it was five bucks.  Even I think that's too much to pay for one chocolate chip cookie.

November 26--Alexandre Cabanel, Birth of Venus.  Julia looked at the canvas on the easel and back at Marshall.  "That's the way I look to you?"  He reddened and nodded.  "Yes."  She stared some more.  He had painted her nude.  She'd posed clothed.  He had give her red-gold wavy hair that reached to her waist.  Her hair was the same color but cut short and stick straight.  "Am I floating on an ocean?"  His fingers fiddled with a paintbrush, smearing blue paint all over his hands.  "Mm-hm."  "You know I can't swim, right?"  He ducked his head and smiled.  "Yeah, I do.  I could teach you if you'd like."  She turned back to the painting, hands on her hips.  "You see me like this?"  He nodded.  She didn't look at him but said, "Will you marry me?"  He let out his breath.  "I thought you'd never ask."

I was going to go downstairs this evening to cut out the puppets I want to make for LC and OJ for Christmas but at supper Durwood said he wanted to remind me that I'm on vacation, that I'm retired, that I don't have to get everything done all in one day.  I protested that I'd stayed in my jammies until after 1 o'clock before dressing to go pick up a few things at the grocery (but not a cookie) and exchange something at Goodwill.  He did allow as how he napped most of the morning so he didn't witness me relaxing.  But I think maybe I'll see if I can't get one OJ mitten done before bedtime.  Just to make Durwood happy, you understand, not because I think he's right or anything.  I can cut out puppets on Tuesday.
--Barbara