Sunday, January 31, 2010

Instead of Tackling an OTN Project...

(On The Needles, for those not up on their knit-speak), I cast on another pair of Brangelina Gloves last night after I finished my sock using smaller needles, and I intend to tweak the pattern a bit to make only the cuffs ribbed. The ribbing on the hand is hard to maintain because of the increasing at each side, and on the fingers it makes them too thick. So I'm starting over.

And I wanted to show you the book I bought with my gift card from Durwood and one of the flip pages. I want to have a month or maybe a year off to just play with yarn, not have to go to my pesky job or deal with housework or anything else. Don't mind me, it's probably just a case of the mid-winter crazies.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

To Quote Dusty...

Ta-da! I finished my Neon Sock this evening. I am so not casting on another sock right away. I get too caught up in it and I abandon everything else. Time for a little sock haitus.

Last night at FNKC there was a lot of talk about going to Stitches Midwest in August. We have rooms, now all we need is the $$ to pay for it with a little left to buy yarn. Plenty of time to save. Plenty.

Chained To The Desk

This feels wrong. I never work on Saturdays, and I have to work two in a row. (I think I'll go lie down.) I keep thinking of how big and juicy my paycheck will be a week from Monday and I can go on.

I'm amazed how much Mom being sick affects my ability to concentrate on my writing. I've barely managed to write to a prompt a few days since last Saturday. There was absolutely no way I could knuckle down and work on my NaNo novel's opening scene this week as we were assigned to do, but I attended class and took the notes. I'm not giving up.

January 30--Jungman Beach, Cheju, South Korea. The long sandy beach stretched out at the foot of the bay. The hills that embraced the water funneled the wind so that it sent grains of sand tumbling along. No one except tourists came to the beach to swim in the chilly Pacific waters. The natives were too used to the sandblasting that any exposed flesh got to come to relax. They came to Jungman to fly. Tucked in sleek black wetsuits and riding brightly colored boards, young men and women rode the wind and waves. They flung themselves up into the air, pulling tricks of heart stopping daring, flying recklessly over the ocean. As daring as they were on the weekend, the young Koreans spent their weekdays in suit and tie locked in a cubicle marking time until the weekend rolled around again and freedom beckoned.

Eh. It's barely better than no writing, but I'll take it.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Low Resistance

It's been a long week. Mom was in the hospital with pneumonia and came home yesterday with a diagnosis of COPD, 2 new pills, 2 inhalers, and oxygen tanks and an accumulator, so I spent a lot of the last 5 days running to see her and worrying. I had today off and Mom sounded a lot more like herself this morning, so I drove off into the sunshine and +2 temps on a little "yarn crawl." I needed more colors to make single worsted socks with. I did. Really. And Shana was just putting sale stickers on the Pastaza Paints, which was entirely too pretty to pass up. I also got more DPNs in 2 sizes I only had one set of, and they're not yarn and needles don't count as buying yarn. They don't. Really.

So my 2010 yarn starvation diet was compromised. I don't feel too bad about it though. I needed a little retail therapy, and I spent less than $60 and will get hours of pleasure--and toasty toes--from my purchases. And I plan to climb right back on the no-buying-yarn wagon.

Durwood gave me a Michaels gift card for Christmas that I hadn't spent so I cruised the aisles there and got this book. Exactly what I was looking for. Thanks again, sweetheart. You're the best!


Someone told me about a website that lets you opt out of receiving catalogs in the mail. It's and it has certainly done wonders for my mailbox. Give it a try.

The reason I'm thinking of it is I got Mom home from the hospital yesterday, finally, and she had a bale of catalogs in her mail. Do all older people get so many? I don't know, but I'm online this morning signing her up and getting at least some of them stopped. She's flipping out that she has to use oxygen and drag it along to her bridge games, etc. Right now she's thinking she'll never go anywhere ever again. Drama, much? I know she doesn't feel good and she's intimidated by all the rigmarole, but geez, Mom, never? I know it sounds like I'm not sympathetic, but I really am. I do understand that she's overwhelmed and afraid of breaking it or hurting herself, but I'm worn out and sympathy's a bit thin on the ground today. I'm hoping my brothers will step up and take their turns helping her this weekend. Maybe I'll call them and suggest that.

January 28--Maldives. Like a carpet of limitless blue the water in the infinity pool stretched out across the surface of the ocean and into the sky. The quiet space between one puff of wind and the next, like the earth holding its breath, stretched out. The waves lay down and the satin surface of the water, both fresh and salt, spread out to the limit of imagination. Maren lay in the shade of a white canvas umbrella, stretched out on a teak chaise longue like a vestal sacrifice. A trickle of sweat traced its way down her arm, sending a shiver to her very center. The cessation of the clatter of the palm fronds overhead made the broken glass sound of the ice cubes in her glass seem very loud and the faint music of the bamboo and brass wind chimes on her deck of her cabana soothed her more than the canned music that drifted over the resort beach on cruise ship days. This was better, more relaxing. Trevor was right, rich was better than poor.

It's sunny today although still frigid. Only in my dreams am I lolling on the chaise next to Maren.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


It's Wednesday. Isn't that nice?

Happy Birthday, Roi!

The best thing about today? The sun is shining. It might be in the single digits and windy, but the old ball of burning gases is out in that cold blue sky just shining like the dickens. Thank god, I think I might live until spring now.

January 26--Princes' Island. The view from Sheila's window was magnificent, ancient pines growing on steep headlands plunging into the sea, but she felt trapped. Trapped by the geography of the place and trapped by her agreement with Greg. He had promised her a life of comfort in return for being his hostess and housekeeper. That had been fine in Chicago where an elevator and taxi were all she needed to escape for an afternoon, but once they arrived here on Princes' Island all that changed. There was no place for her to go, no nearby town, no sops, no neighbors. She felt like a captive and Greg just laughed, patted her hand and said, "You'll get used to it here soon enough." And he went out shooting with his man, Solomon. She hated the hooded-eyed man who was so close to Greg, hated his dark looks and sardonic smirks as he touched the brim of his hat and followed her husband from the room.

Ooh, spooky. Did I mention that the sun''s shining?

In A Moment of Insanity...

I walked out of the bank yesterday afternoon, the wind was blowing from the west, and it carried the sublime scent of grilled hamburgers from the Burger King on the corner. I had a sudden vision of the little chuck steaks that Durwood had gotten out of the freezer. We can grill out, I thought. And so we did. It was 17 degrees out there and really blowing, 1 degree with wind chill, and it had gotten dark.

But served with rice and steamed cauliflower, it was worth standing out there in the cold and wind. So delicious!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Sock Mania

Hi, my name is Barbara, and I'm addicted to knitting single socks from worsted wool and acrylic yarn that I already own.

Sunday night after I finished the Sandbar Sock, I was determined to work on either the Ribwarmer or add rows to my Khaki Cardi, and I did, a little. See?

But I couldn't resist the siren call of the worsted. I went downstairs, dug out the left
over yarns from making a Nephew Hat, and cast on. I just meant to do a little, but I took it with me on Monday morning when I went to visit Mom and I worked on it again. At the hospital I changed to the variegated yarn, and I just kept going. I'm weak, I know it.

I knit a few rows on the Khaki Cardi this morning but after supper I had to knit on the sock more, had to knit enough to get to the end of the variegated yarn and add in the orange yarn. And now I'm at the heel flap. I have to go knit more neon orange yarn. It's calling my name, luring me into it's web. I can't help myself.

I'm Back!

It's been an interesting few days. Mom called early Saturday morning saying she needed to go to the doctor's office, so I took her to the clinic at the hospital. She's got pneumonia so they admitted her for treatment. Every day she's getting better, but I've been unable to focus on just about anything what with running to get things for her, visiting her, and generalized annoyance/worry that my routine has been interrupted. But I decided last night that I should at least be writing to a prompt every day so my fingers don't get rusty or my brain cells go on the blink, so here's what I wrote last night.

January 25--Hvar, Croatia. Like a little slice of Italy, the village of Hvar perched on the edge of the sea with its orange tile roofs and white stucco buildings. The town crowded right down to the paved strand where the blue of the Aegean lapped at the ancient limestone blocks, old when the last doge sailed back to Venice. Hvar was a refuge for the middle class of tourists who couldn't afford the rates on the Costa Brava or the Cote d'Azur but felt compelled to spend a holiday by the sea. Enterprising natives had turned a few old houses into guest houses and hostels, and a few wives made themselves famous for old family recipes served with the chewy local bread and jugs of hearty red wine that should have aged for six more months.

Look, writing!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

One Good Thing

about sitting in the hospital with Mom for 2 days... I finished the Sandbar Sock. Isn't it pretty?

I am sort of addicted to making these single worsted socks. I went downstairs and dug out the remains of the neon variegated, lime, and orange yarns I used to make Nephew Hat #2 so I can cast on another sock immediately. I'm hooked! Save me.

Mom's doing well and is in little danger, she just needs to be watched so her pneumonia doesn't worsen and she gets nebulizer treatments and is on oxygen. I know she's having a lovely time calling down for periodic popsicles and hollering at the football on TV. And I don't have to worry that she's not eating or drinking anything. It's better this way.

Friday, January 22, 2010


That's how I felt today. It means peevishly impatient or irritable, and that was me today in a nutshell. Isn't "peevishly" an excellent word too? I am certain that my manuscript has diluted itself into the land of blah over the last couple of months. It was much zippier and more interesting when I wrote it; I'm sure of it.

I got my nails filled and the broken one fixed today and painted a lovely golden red. Sassy. Now if I can only translate that sassiness into words that I inject into my story...

January 22--Vasterbotten, Sweden. Lucy stood at the edge of the clearing looking down at the lake so far below. The water was the deep blue of the best sapphires and wore the barest ripples that reminded Lucy of the satin of ball gowns and royal robes. The whisper of the wind in the pines swept over her head although it was still on her dark gray granite perch. She loved the sharp fragrance of spruce and pine that tumbled around her, swirling down from the tall straight trees and gliding down to mix with the cold freshness of the lake water that flowed from the foot of the groaning glacier six miles up at the end of the narrow lake.

Hey, at least it's writing.


Sorry I haven't posted for a week again. I've been busy doing homework. I'm taking this online Revision class and had to read through my NaNoWriMo manuscript and pick out scenes. It was frustrating because I thought it was better. It's not bad, not horrible, but it needs work and I hate rewriting. I have hopes that it'll get better.

I cast on another Encore Colorspun sock in the festively named Color #7126. It's greens, blues and tans, I think it looks like the sand swirling off a sandbar in the ocean, so I called it Sandbar Sock.

And I cast on the second half of the Ribwarmer. Gotta love garter stitch.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

I Broke a Nail

Call the paramedics! Naw, I'll just go to the nail salon tomorrow and get all fixed; it's time for a fill and fresh polish anyway. Today I'd like a doughnut, a bag of doughnuts, but the bakery on the way to the dive shop is closed for the month so I'm out of luck. Good thing, since I'm having a crisis of motivation in the sticking-to-my-diet area of my life and don't need the empty calories.

January 20--Samand Peninsula, Dominican Republic. The waves moved in ranks onto the beach swirling the tan sand into clouds under the surface. The steep slope of the sea floor helped the waves build up to be six feet tall before collapsing under their own weight and sprawling on the sand. Dark shapes moved out away from the beach, lives pursued int he salty warmth over the reefs. In the early days of the year whale song came to fill the quiet routine of predator and prey. Gray giants' songs rise out of the powerful highway of current that escorts the whales from calving ground to feeding place. While the mothers and their young make their slow way north, they are serenaded by the songs of the great males looking for a mate. Puny humans line their route in small boats eager to witness the whales' age-old dance.

Pretty nice for an overcast and chilly morning in winter. Smile today even if you don't feel like it.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Office Supplies

Don't you love them? I do. I think just about every writer does. I get to go to the office supplies store to get flags and post-its, index cards in lots of colors, and maybe some colored pencils so I can mark scenes and follow threads through my manuscript in my Revision class. I even unearthed an old mini-recorder so I can dictate notes if I'm too absorbed to stop and write them out. Ooh, cool.

January 19--Tanah Lot, Bali. It was the worst road she had ever been on. Tony, the taxi driver she had hired from the resort lobby for an island tour, had seemed the most reliable and his car had looked less decrepit than the rest, but she was certain that they were in danger of getting a flat tire or bending a rim from all the potholes in the road. Actually a flat tire was the least of Claire's worries. The wild country they drove through looked ready to swallow them up. In her imagination the holes in the pavement had been made by the caustic saliva of the giant beasts that hid in the jungle. That was silly, she knew, but the looks on the faces of the people they passed did nothing to ease her disquiet. All of the people on the roadside, men, women and children, looked haunted, hunted, beaten down by the heat and humid air. And the monsters in the jungle, her imagination added. Tony kept up a running commentary about the villages they bumped through and the history of the island, but Claire barely listened. She was too consumed by the wet, green light in the tunnel of the road and watching out for signs of claws and fangs.

Hmm. Never did get to the place in the picture but it's not bad. Oh, for a while there it was sunny out but now the clouds are rolling in. We need a little snow this week; my knitting group wants to try snowshoeing on Sunday, so a little fresh snow would be nice. Just a bit, nothing catastrophic or deep.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Monday, Payday

At least it's sunny. I can endure almost anything if it's sunny, even work. And it's Martin Luther King Jr. day for those of you lucky enough to have the day off, like the postal workers who will have twice the mail to carry tomorrow. I'll bet they think of these days as both bad and good.

I had my first online Revision class yesterday. She went over the syllabus and then gave us tips on what to look for during our whole-manuscript read through this week. We're not supposed to edit or rewrite, just identify what she calls anchor scenes and turning points. I'm going to print out my manuscript at work today (I'm taking my own paper, I have some scruples) because I find it much easier to read on paper than on screen. It'll be easier to flag places I need to fix or enhance or tuck more scenes into on paper too.

January 18--St. Peter's Catholic Church, the Big Island, Hawaii. Marian was glad she had let Bob talk her into renting the cottage. She had imagined being in a fancy resort on their trip to Hawaii but he had insisted that they could stay longer and enjoy it more if they had their own place. What sealed the deal for her was when Bob said he'd do all the grocery shopping, cooking, and cleaning up if she'd do all the driving. After thirty years of planning the menus and all the rest that went into feeding a family, doing the driving sounded like a real vacation to her. It was dark when they arrived at the tiny cottage and she wasn't thrilled with how rough the area and the place seemed but daylight showed her the charm of the rustic house in its lush garden, the view of the ocean from the back porch was breathtaking, and the sounds of the congregation singing in the tiny church down the path sealed it. She smelled coffee and smiled to see Bob walking toward her with a tray. "Breakfast," he said. Toast with cheese or guava jelly tasted like heaven with the salty breeze cooling her face. This was going to be a vacation to remember, she was sure of it.

I'd like to be right there on this cold day, wouldn't you? Time to go to work.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

We Have Sock

I finished knitting my Red Dots sock while listening to my online Revision class this afternoon, Kitchener-ing the toe once class was done.

I've got a lot of reading to do this week. We're supposed to read through our manuscript and make notes about scenes, anchor scenes, turning points, and other writer-y stuff like that. I'm looking forward to rereading what I wrote in November to see if I still like it as much as I did when I wrote it. (I suspect that I'll have more work than I think I do to accomplish a full rewrite over the next 6 weeks.)

Sorry It's Been a Week...

since I last posted. I've been adjusting to my new work schedule and focusing more on getting stories submitted than on my knitting. See, there was a reason I spent last weekend on the couch with sticks in my hands.

I'm zooming down the foot of the Red Dots sock. Only one more inch and then I start the toe.

I finished the first half of the Ribwarmer vest at Friday Night Knitting Circle...with a bit of a challenge. See that little square of stitches at one edge in the left hand picture? Well, when I bound off the stitches at the top of the other edge and held it up, I glanced at the drawing on the pattern and realized that I had turned the corner the wrong way and that little tab was on the wrong side. It was supposed to be on the outer edge. Gak! Luckily Zoe was there. She sat looking at it, then she got to work. She stuck a needle through the stitches of the first full-width row, tore out the 16 rows of 8 stitches, had me bind off those captured sts, pick up 8 on the correct side and knit them up. Whew. Once it's all finished and sewed together it won't be so obvious, and it'll be warm and cozy despite my near-catastrophic booboo. Thank you, Zoe, you're a lifesaver!

It's midwinter and I've fallen prey to the lure of comfort food. I have been wanting to bake bread for a couple weeks. I baked biscuits week before last but the baking powder was too old and while they were tasty, they were flat and not at all satisfying. I finally broke down and bought Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day with my B&N coupon yesterday, and I mixed up a batch. Naturally I didn't read all the instructions before plunging in and I used half rye flour, making my dough much drier and heavier than the "master" recipe. Last night I read their tips to overcome that and made my first loaf this morning. It's so cute! Look! And I have enough dough to make 3 more. Pretty cool, huh?

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Saturday For Real This Time

I got my act together today, and before noon. I submitted two Flash fiction stories to journals I found on Duotrope and I edited one of my short stories down to fit the requirements of a literary podcast called Bound Off that intrigued me. I dreaded cutting out nearly 500 words from a story I thought was perfect but by 7 PM I had done it and to be honest I don't think the story suffered at all for the surgery, in fact it might even be better for it.

Amazon had the Islands page-a-day calendar for half price so I ordered one and it came today. I figure I can write about various islands this year without too much hardship. It's not Art but it'll do.

January 16--Haast Pass, New Zealand. The fracture lines in the exposed limestone when in all directions. Dr. Susannah Riley slid down the mossy rocks at the beginning of the steel footbridge across Emu Creek and carefully made her way to the edge of the fast-moving water tumbling past the square gray boulders. She slid the straps of her backpack off her shoulders and pulled out her little hammer. "I'm not carrying your rocks, Steph, so don't collect more than you can carry." Derek's voice held a condescending note and she wondered what had been in her mind when she agreed to this trip. She knew better than to date men who weren't academics. She actually thought that Derek was interested in science and study but all he wanted to study was how his tan looked against the pale blue of his eyes in the glare of the sun as they hiked and making sure they found a level place to make camp at night so he didn't have to work too hard. She wondered why he had suggested this trip. He was much more of a city boy, maybe he had something to prove, some macho image to live up to. "Don't worry," she said crouching to chip out a fossil trilobite, "I won't make you carry any rocks." Except for the ones in her head, she thought.

Eh. At least it's writing.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Friday That Feels Like Saturday

This is the first week that I'm working three days in a row and have the other four days off so I'm not at all sure what day it is. Good thing we get the newspaper and I can read the day of the week on the masthead. I won't forget to go to knitting though.

Last night was writers for the first time since a week before Christmas, and all three of us had plenty of writing activity to talk about while we were doing the craft project I had brought for us to do. We spent the meeting decorating notebook pages with pictures cut from a stock photo book, old postage stamps, and stickers with prompts or exercises. It was a big hit. Such a big hit that I went back to Goodwill and found 4 more stock photo books that I bought so we'd have even more pictures to use. There's nothing like playing with glue sticks and scissors to get the creative juices flowing. And we'll each have a small notebook to use as a day book filled with inspirational words and images. It's good to be back.

January 15--Giant Brain Coral. Be patient. Go slowly. Step by step, I enter the water feeling it rise on my overheated body. I feel the ease, the relaxation as the silky seawater laps its way up and over my head. I lose patience when it reaches my waist, sweep my arm to catch my regulator, pop the mouthpiece between my teeth, and I fall forward into the clear blue water. The icy shiver down my spine tells me how hot my head got in the ten minutes that it took to assemble my gear and put on my wetsuit. Once the swirl of silver bubbles from my plunge clears, the world of the reef appears before me. Fish of every color glide over purple and yellow sponge gardens and the silver blades of barracuda patrol out over the deep blue drop off. The transition from a terrestrial creature to an aquatic one is fraught with heat and exertion but it is worth it for the view into a completely different world.

Not my best, by any means, but the memory made a good escape on a chilly overcast day.

Thursday, January 14, 2010


Today I chose a card from my friend, Roi Solberg's Sprirt of Archetypes deck. I read from the description book included with the cards, and once again, went with what I saw in the picture. One of these days, Roi, I'll write about the meaning of the card instead of just the pretty picture. I promise. At first a poem began to emerge, but then it needed to be a narrative. I'll give you both.

January 14--Teacher/Mentor.
Reach, reach out
Chose a path
to learning
Open, open a window
one is not better
than the rest
Green opportunity
nourishes learning
Golden light of knowledge
shines through the
clear glass of confidence

Open the door. Just open the door. Rhea frowned in her sleep, the dream so real she felt her hand move in the flannel sheets. She knew she was awake, had left the dream, with its choice to move through the door, in sleep but she felt the impulse in her muscles. Felt the forward motion of her hand on the end of the pendulum that was her arm. She knew what she would find on the other side of that walnut brown door, knew the short green-tiled paths that led to a single sash window and the longer red gold tile paths that lead to yet more windows. She had trod that dream path many times in her life and she knew what it meant. Once she gave in and moved forward into the new part of her life, made the hard decision to change, the doors and paths and window panes would fade from her dreams. Until the next time she faced a crossroads when she would reach for that door and feel the warm tiles beneath her feet.

Stay focused.

Fossil Coral Terraces

Well. Yesterday was interesting. I didn't have that much to do at work but what I did have swelled up and took up way too much time. The phone rang just enough that I couldn't focus on my writing, and when I finally did wrestle my mind into submission, a customer with the most charming 4 year old came in and I was lost. That's my excuse anyway. Sorry you had to go to bed un-entertained, Roi.

January 13--Fossil Coral Terraces, Boka Bartol. The fossilized coral she lay on clung to her skin like Velcro. She lifted her cheek and felt her cells wanting to stick to the rock. Her first thought was how hot and wet she was, how airless it was where she lay, and then she realized that she was naked and even the smallest shift brought pounding pain to her head. She lay still, exploring her sprawled limbs with her mind and the barest of movements. She became aware of a rolling sound growing louder and a wave of salt water engulfed her and threatened to pull her off her rocky rest. Only her limpet-like grip on the porous rock and determination kept her there. As soon as the water began to recede and she could breathe again, she gritted her teeth and pushed herself up with her hands and feet. A groan rose as far as her teeth but she pushed it back. I'll groan when I'm safe, she thought, as she lifted one bleeding hand to grasp a ledge just above her head and began to climb. It wasn't until she had pulled herself over the edge of the narrow mouth in the coastline onto the flat cactus filled and rocky ground that she gave a thought to how she had gotten down into the slot and who had put her there.

Dun-dun-dunnnn. Is this Anya? Maybe. I don't know. Probably. She's sure in a pickle, isn't she?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Traditional Architecture, Rincon

It's mid-winter. The days are getting longer and the temperature is supposed to creep above freezing in the next few days. This is the time of year when I go away, in my mind, to Bonaire, my favorite island waaaay in the southern Caribbean. Some years my body gets to go there too, and even gets to go scuba diving to visit all the fishies and sponges and shrimp and critters that live in the clear salty water. This year we turned our vacation dollars into shingles and put them on top of our house. We needed a new roof, the old one was over 30 years old and, let me tell you, that's old for a roof. But now, in the cold and dreary and short daylight days of January, a new roof just doesn't seem like a worthy trade off for 30, or even 15, even 10 but that's as low as I'm willing to go, days in Bonaire. Terry and Bonnie went. Kevin and Deb did too. I know Dennis and Julie, and some couple I'd never met before from Waupaca who came in last week, are going too. The Niles' went because the missus called last week to say how much fun they had there. There was even a 2-minute segment of some unnamed Bonairean reef at the end of CBS Sunday Morning last week! How come everyone on earth gets to go but me? (Yeah, I know, not really, but it sure does feel like it today.) So the best I can do is go through my Bonaire Week-At-A-Glance calendars and do my daily prompt writing about the island. I just can't leave it alone; it's like picking at a scab.

January 12--Traditional architecture, Rincon. Thick stucco walls soar up into the dark blue Caribbean sky as I steer the rental truck down the narrow street. Every one of these one-horse island towns has a church at the end of the main street. Every car drives past the pharmacy with the sun-bleached packages of digestive tablets and out-dated fashion magazines, the mini-mart with two broken down chairs leaning against the outside wall and the Polar Beer sign nailed next to the entrance, Cora Lee's Better Dresses, a school yard with either a ragtag flock of chickens pecking for bugs or a billy goat and his three-nanny harem cropping the grass, and a combination bar/restaurant/gas station/post office toward the church. It doesn't matter what the faith or building material, they're all the same--blinding white, patched and leaning, tired from years of exposure to sun, salt air and trade winds. But each one is also a testament to endurance, constancy, and faith. Maybe more towns in the US need to redirect Main Street traffic to redirect municipal focus.

Look at that, two rants for the price of one. Hope you enjoyed the ride.

Monday, January 11, 2010


Sorry I'm so late, but this morning I was busy and tonight I had online orientation for my Revision class that starts next week. Lots of questions were answered about how and what. Some have microphones so that they can ask questions and talk to the group but I think I'll dispense with the technological toys and just make do with the chat box off to the side. It isn't really a discussion class, she said we won't be sharing any writing, just listening and taking notes. She hosts forums on her site for sharing and chat. I'm glad; I was afraid that her fans and people who have taken other classes from her would take over and impede the pace of info. Not to worry, sounds like she's taken care of that possibility and understands how much we have to learn in six short weeks. I look forward to starting to revise last November's NaNoWriMo first draft.

January 11--Royal Tern. The big white bird soared over the beach and the wide shallows, floating in the trade winds that blew across the island. There was nothing tall enough on this end of the island to deflect the wind. The hot air blew onshore carrying the salt and sand flung up when waves dashed themselves to death on the black iron shore rocks that made up the windward coast. Ranks of birds hung in the air, terns and gulls down low where they could plunge into the clear water after the small silver fish, long-tailed black frigate birds so high and motionless, and the pink flamingos, their foolish necks retracted and their long legs trailing behind like kite tails. The flamingos , those flashy pink neurotics who
brought the tourists, flew over to Venezuela in the dusk and could bring cars to a standstill as they paces in the roadside salt pans patiently seining out their pink meals. For all the peril of life as a bird the sheer freedom implied by their ability to fly make people stop and stare in jealousy and awe when wing beats sound.

Well, isn't that a jumble of perspective and tense? Good thing it's dark outside.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Laundry Day

I know traditionally Monday is laundry day, but I have to work at my paying job tomorrow so today's the day. I got to sort out our clothes, convinced that the neighbors must bring theirs over, but then I recognized every piece as either mine or Don's, so I was finally forced to admit that we had made all that dirty laundry all by ourselves. We are not particularly messy people, me and the mister, but we sure are good at accumulating laundry. Some day soon (when I'm resting or exceedingly bored) I intend to ruthlessly sort through my clothes, making piles of things that I love and love to wear, things that I sometimes wear, and things that I seldom wear and don't know why I keep. Doing that would certainly make more room in my closet and since I'm losing weight, I'd have room for new things. Maybe I should watch another episode of Hoarders... If you need motivation to declutter your life and house, that's the show to watch. Yikes.

January 10--Windsurfing. The light was fractured by the tiny wavelets that paved the protected bay on the windward side of the island. It was late enough in the day that the light was flat, not golden and sparkling, it was flat and white on the green water the color of the sea grass on the shallow bottom. The last few windsurfers blazed across the bay on their fragile-looking crafts, leaning against the pull of the wind on the clear sails. Anya felt the day's heat begin to rise from the pale pink sand under her feet as she upended the Heineken bottle over her open mouth. "Want another?" The voice of the tall blond bartender right at her elbow made her clatter the empty on the bar top. "Uh, no thanks." She scraped up the wet money with the pretty colors, leaving one with a lot of blue on the edges. Blue for a boy, she thought as she slid off the bar stool. The world tipped as she landed with one foot on the beach bar's floor and one on the soft sand. "Whoops," said the bartender who hurried around to steady her. "Maybe you'd better take it easy and let me take you home," he said, his cool hand firm on her upper arm. "I'm Lars. I get off in an hour." Anya smiled up at him and hummed her agreement, letting him steer her into a chair at the table in the shade near the path to the parking lot. Such a nice man, she thought as she dozed off.

That might not be a good thing. Makes me want to shake her awake and call her a cab. Could it be because I just read/listened to a book with a serial rapist? Maybe. Stay warm.

Flying. Fingers.

It pays to spend two days sitting on the couch, listening to a novel on your Walkman, and knitting. Look!

I turned the second corner of the first half of the Ribwarmer (and I'm in a snit about probably not having enough yarn after all, but I found a skein on Ravelry that I emailed about),

and I have th
e heel "flapped" and "turned" on the Red Dots sock.

I'm smokin'. (No, not really, cigarette-like smoking, zooming fast smokin'. Cigare
ttes taste nasty, did you know that? I only figured it out once I quit.)

Saturday, January 9, 2010

What Friends Are Really For...

I went to Friday Night Knitting Circle last night, even though I had been sick for 2 days. It's not like I was contagious or anything. Sheesh. I would not have gone if, say, I was bleeding copiously from a gaping wound, or projectile vomiting; that would have messed up the yarn. I probably wouldn't have gone if my heart rate was so low that I kept dropping my needles. But none of that was happening so I went. We all sat and knitted and chatted and listened to the musicians play and sing out in the cafe. It was a lovely time. Lyn mentioned that Home Depot has primroses on sale for $.88. That's eighty-eight cents, people! Eighty-eight cents for a little piece of spring! I had to go out for birdseed since the demon squirrels have figured out how to empty the "squirrel-proof" feeders, so I swung by HD and scooped up five bucks' worth. Hey, even if they don't survive until spring, it's worth $5 to see cheerful colors and green leaves between me and the snowdrifts. Thanks a heap, Lyn, you're a lifesaver.

Sick Day

Even though the worst of the active "food poisoning" part of my life had passed, I still felt pretty tired and lethargic yesterday so I spent most of it on the couch, plugged into my Walkman listening to a novel (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo--riveting), and knitting.

I dug out the Khaki Cardi, dormant since Stealth Knitting 2009 commenced, slipped the sleeve stitches on waste yarn (a first for me), and got busy on the body shaping. It's not nearly so many stitches per row now so I should be able to make some progress. It's looking very sweater-y, don't you think?

I stole an idea from the Yarn Harlot and weighed the skeins that I'm using to make EZ's Ribwarmer (click link and scroll down) so that I don't end up 2 inches from the end of the second piece and realize there's not enough. I wound off half of the 5th skein so that each segment gets about the same yardage. I feel better now. And I felt even better when I rounded the first corner with more than half of the allotted yarn remaining. Now if I only don't figure out a way to screw it up...

And I cast on another sock. Notice I said "sock" not "pair of socks." I've decided
to derail the possibility of second sock syndrome and intend to knit only one sock at a time. I already wear commercial mismatched socks in the warmer months, so why worry about matching socks in the colder ones? I'm already hiding my socks in shoes or heavy boots, and I like the hidden wackiness of it. I'm calling this one Red Dots. Original, no?

It's lovely getting to an age where you just don't give a carp what the great majority of people think.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Clawing My Way Back to the Living

I'm feeling much better today. Thank God. I'll be much choosier about what I eat for the next few days, I'm telling you. It's bright and sunny today which is just gorgeous on the new fallen snow, but I'd like a bit of warmth, please. Say, 70 degrees. What? Christmas is over, we don't need snow for ambiance anymore.

January 8--Candle cactus. They look like some medieval torture device invented to create the most pain for the least effort. Charlie looked closer a the candle cactus thorns clustered on the dark green flesh so that they overlapped. "Now there's a plant that really means business," she said to her friend Murph. The two of them were hiking a trail in the national park on this tiny island. She thought it was amusing that an island as small as this one had a national park. You could drive around the entire place in an afternoon, even stopping to take pictures and have a cold drink. Charlie wasn't much of a nature girl, really. Her idea of a Caribbean vacation involved pina coladas delivered by beach boys and lounging by the pool, but she had let Murph talk her into this trip where there was entirely too much sweating and not nearly enough shopping. Not that there was much shopping on the island to begin with. Two jewelry stores and a couple of souvenir places. Phhht. In a weak moment she had even agreed to try scuba diving even thought it meant getting into a one piece swimsuit and getting her hair wet. In public. She wasn't at all sure that she wanted to get into the salty ocean; she was sure it was just teeming with disgusting critters and fish pooping and God knows what else. But it would be cooler than stomping around in the dusty dry rocks and kamikaze cactus of this hell they call the national park.

I'd rather be there sweating that here freezing, but c'est la vie.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

A Word to the Wise

Don't eat chicken soup for lunch that's a tad old, even if it has been in the freezer for part of that time. If it smells funny, toss it. If you don't, you'll wake up about 12 hours later with cramps and barfing and the shakes. I'm focusing on sipping on ginger ale today until I feel better. I do this to myself about once every other year and I do not recommend it. Eat fresh food! That's all I have to say about that.

January 7--Hanging Lobster Claw. All around the outdoor dining patio at the little restaurant in the tiny island village the Heliconias bloomed. The waxy blossoms were in many shapes--cups, crowns, and cascades--but the most striking was the Lobster Claw. It hung down from the dark green leaves, a vivid red and yellow complex flower with side petals, maybe they're bracts, alternating sides down to the one on the end that looks a lot like a claw. Cynthia reached out to touch it and it felt fake, plastic, but she knew it was real by the fallen leaves and petals on the cracked concrete below. "No smell," she said, shaking her head, wondering if she could ever get one to bloom in her North American house.

Stay well. I'm hoping to feel a lot better after work. Good thing it's snowing and crummy out; maybe no one will come in and I can be miserable in peace.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Look! Socks!

Tonight I finished the Reef Socks. I think they're gorgeous. My daughter borrowed a knitting machine to make the blank from undyed yarn. Then she dyed it, drawing a reef scene. She gave it to me for Christmas 2008, telling me I had to unravel it and knit the yarn into something. That was very hard to do, but I finally managed it. I used this pattern and US 3 DPNs. I think they're the coolest things I've made so far and I love that they're a collaboration between my daughter and myself. Thanks one more time, sweetheart.

That's More Like It

I am much happier with myself this morning. I got up before 7 (barely but it still counts, right?), got my workout in, took a shower, read the paper & did the crossword, ate breakfast, did a sinkful of last night's dishes, got dressed, and now I'm ready to post my prompt writing. It's not even 9:30. Yay me! Now I can go to work and sit there knitting and watching Netflix videos or listening to my Walkman with a clear conscience.

Sometimes I think I expect too much of myself, but I keep doing it, don't I? Stubborn Germans.

January 6--Brown Pelican and Laughing Gull. The long rays of the setting sun turned the sky a golden yellow, like light shining through a good Pilsner. She sat curled up, her arms wrapped around her knees, hugging them to her chest, and watching the pelicans and gulls competing for the little silver fish that schooled just off Pink Beach. The wind had dropped and the heat of the day rose from the sand making sweat roll down her skin and pool in her creases. she had been sure that this vacation, this island would be the magic one. That here she would relax and blend into the crowd, be one of the group, even just on the edge of the group, but she had been there five days, half her holiday was gone and she was as alone as ever. She stared out at the birds and the horizon through tears that she willed not to fall. "You try too hard, you know," said a woman's voice beside her. "I've watched you all week and you need to relax." She glanced to her right, just moving her eyes, and there were ten brown toes with hot pink nail polish lined up beside hers in the sand.

Hmmm. Now who is that mysterious woman? I wonder. Enjoy your day. Write something!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Another Day That Spun Out of Control

Why can't I get the hang of this? How hard can it be to accomplish what I want to and still have time? How come I get caught up in reading emails, blogs, and Facebook instead of writing? Hmm? Let's see, what did I do today? I worked out when I got up, read the paper and did the crossword. I got my car to the mechanic on time and waited while the oil was changed. Drove with Durwood to the mall and walked 2.5 times around. Stopped at the grocery on the way home. Ate lunch and knit a few sock rounds. Dropped Durwood back at the garage to get his van while I went to my chiro appointment. Zipped by the grocery on the way home to get the forgotten lime. Came back here to my desk and burned a downloaded novel to cds, and instead of writing I read my emails, toured the blogs, and got on Facebook for a bit. The sun went down while I frittered the afternoon away. It was only once supper was done that I came back here and wrote what you see below. Reading what I did all day, I guess I can understand why I'm so late getting to my writing. I want more hours in the day! Please?

January 5--Ruliente Coffie. As I look down I can see her scalp exposed in the part straight down the center of her head. She loves having braids so her hair isn't tangled or in the way, but that little stripe of skin seems so fragile. I want to protect her, keep her from harm so I make sure she's covered in sunscreen or insect repellent. I insist that she take a sweater when I'm chilled and I suspect that she ditches the umbrella as the bus stop when I make her take it on cloudy days. I can overlook a trembling lower lip and tears welling in those big brown eyes, but that narrow strip of scalp in my undoing. Watching her walk away, skipping down the path to meet the neighbor kids and walk in a giggling pack to the bus stop, it takes all my self-control not to call her back or rush out and cover her little naked part with a hat.

Odd. Very odd. You gets what comes, I guess. Sleep well.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Off The Rails

Have you ever felt like you've slipped off the rails and you can't get back on? That's the way I'm feeling right now, not in a mentally ill context but that I've kind of lost hold of my time. I expect a lot of myself, getting up early so I can work out for half an hour, sitting at my desk to do a bit of prompt writing (that I post here), sticking to my food plan (Durwood's a big help with that since he's the cook who makes all the lovely delicious suppers around here). This past week or maybe 2, with all the kids coming home and me not working last week, I'm off the rails, sleeping late (until 8!), not writing, snacking on candy and Combos. Bad. Bad, Barbara! So today is the day I'm climbing out of the pit of self-indulgence and setting myself back on the road to health and happiness, or at least self-satisfaction. I did 32 minutes of Wii Fit Plus yoga, then had a healthy breakfast of cereal, skim milk, prunes, and a little cheese while I read the paper and did the crossword. Then I brought my second cup of coffee back here to my desk and wrote to a prompt, which I intend to put right below here this very minute.

I intend to continue to be good to myself in 2010, working to feel good, not focused on some unattainable weight number. I've already shipped off a query letter to 3 agents and I've got 9 more in the queue, so that's one goal I'm achieving. (I avoid using the word "resolution" because it just connotes failure in so many ways.)

January 4--Hawksbill Turtle. I look up to see a turtle the size of a garbage can lid swim out of a niche in the reef. Looking like a dinosaur lost for millennia, it moves its flippers slowly, stroking for the surface to take a breath. My breathing stops for a moment and then resumes ever so slowly and quietly as I try to fade into the reef and not disturb it. My eyes drink in every detail; the barnacles on the shell, the gash in one flipper, the mottled amber and brown and cream of the carapace that blends so well with the surrounding reef. I finger my camera wondering if I can get a close picture of the prehistoric creature. The hawksbill bobs on the surface for a minute, the slight chop moving it nearer to where I hover. It ducks down below the surface, its wide dark eyes intent on finding a patch of sponge or algae to munch on. I have my camera at the ready and calculate the angle of the creature's descent. All at once it spots me under my column of silver bubbles and veers away, its flippers slowly pulling it down with strong strokes. I begin to swim to intercept it, matching my fin strokes to it's pulsing strokes, but I'm falling behind. I stretch out my legs, kicking in wide strokes from my hips, and I gain a bit. At the last moment it changes the angle of its swim down to the reef, giving me a split second to snap its portrait before, with a lazy flip, it accelerates down the reef at a speed I can't maintain.

Well, that was a nice swim down memory lane. Enjoy your day!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Post #400

Today I'm recording the first "Harebrained Scheme of 2010." I noticed yesterday that the people across the street had thrown out their real Christmas tree. I remarked to Durwood that it might be fun to drag it into the back yard and hang pine cones spread with peanut butter and rolled in birdseed so that the birds would have a treat and a place to hide when the Sharpshinned Hawk flies by. But then I realized that it'd be a real pain to fix it to stand upright in the snow, and gave up the idea. When we got home from Walmart this morning he said, "are you going to get that tree?" I could hear a note of excitement and glee in his voice so I pulled on my boots and clomped across the street and nabbed the tree, dragged it to the garage, and started putting it into the tree stand. Realizing that was putting the cart before the horse, I dragged it into the backyard and went back to trying to put it in the stand so it would withstand winter winds and the depredation of squirrels. The tree trunk was too frozen and the little blades at the bottom of the stand were bent so Durwood made a wooden stand. While he played with wood and made sawdust downstairs I tied strings on the eleven pine cones, then spread them with cheap peanut butter and rolled them in a bucket of birdseed. Once I got it standing up to my satisfaction, I hung 2 mesh bags of suet and the seeded cones on the branches, and came in to wait for birds to arrive. It was a lot of work for a "what if..." idea that flitted through my mind, but that's really the kind of thing that gets me off my duff and makes me grin.

I finished weaving in the tails on the second Brangelina glove, finishing the set. I do intend to make a third glove one day soon using the changes I made on that second one, but it's cold and I need thick warm gloves in the car now.

Seldom able to resist casting on new projects, I wound 5 skeins of
bulky wool I got in Lexington last Spring (using my ball winder and the swift Durwood made me {click "the swift" and scroll down}) and got my friend Zoe's help to figure out Elizabeth Zimmerman's Ribwarmer pattern for thicker wool and needles.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Can't Find One

I have looked high and low and I can not find an Art Gallery Page-a-day calendar anywhere. I went to Barnes & Noble, they didn't have it and offered to order it. The very next day I got an email saying "oops, sorry, no can do." So I went online and tried to get one through their website; they emailed the next day to say "sorry" too. I even went on the Page-a-day website and they're out too. I knew I should have bought one at full price last fall but I was sure I'd be able to find one either at Goodwill for $2.99 or on clearance at B&N after Christmas. I'm thwarted--and a bit peeved that not one if out there for me to have. One! All I need is one, and can I find it? No. I bought a thick book of stock images at Goodwill this afternoon so I've got plenty of pictures at hand, but you know how you get focused on something and just can't let it go? That's where I'm at right now. I unearthed the 2008 Bonaire week-at-a-glance calendar just now while I'm ripping The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo so I can put it on my Walkman to listen to when I drive to Madison next weekend. I'll write to the Bonaire pictures until I'm over my fit of pique about the calender thing.

January 2--Prickly Pear.
Marlon pried open one eye keeping the other closed against the glare of the sun. His face felt bloated and stiff and he could tell that he was lying on the ground since small stones were digging into his back. Through the barest slit he saw the blue Caribbean sky and a vivid yellow-green prickly pear cactus right in the center of his view. Marlon groaned and levered himself up on his elbow. Even that small movement brought tears to his eyes and made him dizzy. He saw swimming dots in front of his eyes and his ears buzzed. As his mind regathered itself and catalogued his parts, he realized that he had started to become one with the place where he lay. The glint of sunlight on chrome showed him his treacherous mountain bike that had dropped its front wheel off the pavement in a moment of inattention and flung him into the patch of prickly pear. With deliberate care he pushed himself to his feet feeling every cactus thorn and small piece of gravel that had invaded his flesh.

It's not fabulous, but it's a start for the new year.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year!

Now that 2009 is a mere memory, I'm ready to charge into 2010.

I want to go back to assigning a project to a place, i.e. Sudoku Throw blocks knit
at work, Reef Socks at FNKC, the Khaki Cardi at home, so that I make progress on them all. (We'll see how long this lasts.)

I did add more fringe and another hexagon to the first scarf and used the rest of them
to make another scarf that I crocheted together with black yarn and put a big tassel on each end.

When we were in Lexington in October I found something that was perfect for Christmas gifts for my knitting pals. I forgot it when we got home, thought about it a few weeks ago, and then promptly forgot to search. But last week when I was stashing the turkey carcass in the back seat of Durwood's van because the fridge was full, I shoved a plastic bag and it clanked. I looked inside and there were my little gifts. I put the bag on a shelf in the garage right then... and forgot them again. Last night I remembered them once again and went out to rummage through the van for them. Frustrated at not finding them, I turned to come back inside (to warm up and rant about the fact that my brain has turned from Velcro to Teflon) and there they were. Now I can finally give them out tonight. It's kind of still Christmas, right? Baanks. Too cute.

Oh. And I finished Brangelina Glove #1 last night. I'll be casting on Glove #2 this afternoon once I get my novel sent out to a few more agents.

That's another 2010 resolution: I intend to be much better at submitting both my novel manuscript and my short stories, even if I end up rewriting the stories first. Rather than set myself up for failure I'm thinking I should have 3-5 stories out at all times. Good thing I bought a 2009 Novel & Short Story Writer's Market last fall, huh?