Saturday, March 31, 2012

Something Has To Change

Either I need to go to bed earlier or... or... well, something's gotta change, that's all.  Because once I climb between the sheets lately I can't keep my eyes open.  Can't keep 'em open.  Night before last I managed to scribble one sentence, ONE (okay, two, but seriously, really?), before it was lights out, and last night wasn't much better.  Things should improve drastically after today though.  Spanky's coming over to help Durwood get all the little, nit-picky things done next door (I have to work) and then on Tuesday the new tenant's supposed to move in.  I met her and liked her, Durwood did too, obviously since he's agreed to rent to her and he's much pickier than I am.  I'm taking my sewing machine to work with me to finish one of the projects I wanted to finish this weekend.  It's just sewing bar tacks every 6" across a duvet so the fabric, batting, and backing stay together.  That shouldn't be too hard to do at work.  Then I can focus on sewing the March quilt blocks (on April 1--April Fool!) tomorrow.  Tsk, can you believe that it's the end of March already?  That week of June weather really bollixed up my perception of what time of year it is, but I'm still not convinced that it's going to be April tomorrow.  I feel like I want to turn everything off around me, stop going to work, send Durwood off someplace, unplug all the TVs, and set my phone so it only calls out, and just regroup.  My mental feels fuzzy, off step, and I want to get back on track, some track, any track instead of this muddy, foggy, befuddled one I seem to be stuck on.  Getting paid 6 months' rent in advance on Monday should remove some of that fog, going to Sheboygan next Thursday for 3 nights with Lala should help too, as should driving away to visit DD & DIL2 in a couple weeks.  Durwood and I agree that we need to "get out of Dodge" for a few nights and seeing the girls, eating BBQ out in the wilds of Kentucky, and going to the racetrack to bet on the thoroughbreds (only $2 a race, don't worry) should be just the ticket.  Besides, we both get a lot of good out of riding long distances in the car together.  I had a nice big cry last night (for anyone keeping track) so things are looking up.  Hey, it's better out than in.

March 29--Francisco de Goya y Lucientes, Don Manuel Osorio Manriquede Zuniga. Manny loved his birds.  He kept the small green cage of finches beside him whenever he could.

See?  Pathetic.  That's an interesting story start and I fell dead asleep.  I'm such a disappointment to myself.

March 30--Andre-Charles Boulle, Clock.  Time is elusive, sly as it slinks past making no sound.  Men had been making clock for centuries trying to trap time and bend it to their bidding.  No matter how complex or streamlined, ornate or plain they made the clocks time marched on.

That's better--a little better anyway.  Still I took a half hour nap between the first 2 sentences and the last one.  I have to do better.  And I will.  One of these days.  Time to shower.  Don't think of me all wet and naked.  Just don't.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Ooh, Baby, Baby!

I'm in love.  And I'm pretty sure it's one-sided.  Almost positive.  Wednesday and Thursday were flooring installation days.  At the end of the day yesterday it was time to rip out the disgusting carpet in our kitchen and install lovely oak-looking laminate flooring, the same that was installed in the rental kitchen and dinette.  I love it, Durwood's not convinced.  His feet get cold so easily that he's worried that it'll be colder without the carpet.  He's also in the market for some squishy floor mats for in front of the sink and stove.  That's fine with me, I'm just thrilled that we'll be able to wipe up spills instead of watching them soak in and then attract dirt.

For some reason I'm fixated on making knitted then felted bowls.  I cast on the next Color Stripe Vessel at work yesterday and last night I dug out yarns and needles and fiberfill, then cast on a nest to be felted.  I plan to knit pastel colored eggs to put in it.  I don't know what I'll do with it; maybe give it to our Easter dinner hostess, I just want to make it.  I don't know why I'm so attracted to making essentially useless items.  It's fun though.

I volunteered to make bunny cakes for dessert on Easter.  I goggled bunny cakes and found a recipe and YouTube video that looks like the one Mom used to make.  I don't plan to use a Betty Crocker box cake or tubs of pre-made frosting.  I'll make me old standby carrot cake with the cream cheese frosting, I'm thinking of using Twinkies for the little front paws.  We'll see.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Put On Z-Cowl!

I finished the cowl I made from Z-Dawg's gift of handspun last night.  I added an extra repeat of the knit rows and the ribbed rows so that I'd use every molecule of the wonderfulness of it and look how brilliantly that turned out.  I wish I could take credit for that stripe of white in the middle but that's just the way it knitted up.  I did purposly save half the red/white for the end ribbing but the stuff in the middle did it all by itself.  I wove in the ends, tonight I'll let it soak in wool wash for a bit, then pat it into shape on a nice fluffy towel.  (The remainder's about 3 yards worth.)

Anybody Got A Flamethrower I Can Borrow?

I'm sick unto death of the crap around here.  Once this rental side foolishness is over and we get back from visiting DD & DIL2 in Lexington next month, the crap gets it.  I bought a book at Jo-Ann the other day (I had a -40% coupon) that I fully intend to open once this flurry of stuff that has to be done gets done and I'm diving right in.  Over the next 3 days there's a list of sewing I want to get done before the month ends (fingers crossed), then I run away for a long weekend with my writer friend,Lala, we have Easter dinner with Jefe & HZ on the 8th, my baby brothers turn 56 on the 8th, I work a lot the following week, then we go to the racetrack, oh and visit the girls too, in Lexington for a weekend in mid-April.  We both need to get out of Dodge.  (And I have to drop off the taxes.  Maybe we can get them ready this weekend.)  Durwood's got an appointment with the pulmonologist tomorrow.  He's been feeling poorly, probably more pneumonia, and neither of us want a repeat of last summer's pneumonia-fest when he got it in May and was finally better in September.  There were 2 or 3 ER visits, one in an ambulance, and any number of escalating strengths of antibiotics and steroids.  Not doing that again if we can help it.  The cleaning lady just arrived and she's starting to transform 1508 from a pit to a place people might actually want to live.  I'm thinking of calling her once we've got our own clutter banished to start with a clean slate, or at least a clean house.  Cleaner.  Cleanish.  No, that's not right, I can do cleanish, I want to start again from clean. C. L. E. A. N.  What I really want is to scrape everything out of the house onto the lawn, sort through it, and only let back in what I reallyreallyreally love.  I reassured Durwood that I'm pretty sure he'd be in the keep pile.  Most days, anyway.

Hey, my writer friend, Carol Wobig's eBook, Poached is Not an Option, debuted on Amazon yesterday for the low low price of $2.99.  It's a collection of short stories.  Carol's an award-winning author, very quiet in person but with a unique and humorous take on life.  Even if you don't have a Kindle you can still get eBooks, did you know that?  You can download a free Kindle app for your laptop or desktop or any Android device.  Free!  So you can read Carol's stories.  Other people's too, but right now Carol's stories are the ones you should be reading and focusing on.

I want to reassure you that the temperature's back where it should be in March in Green Bay, WI.  Generally in the 40s, creeping into the 50s if it's sunny in the afternoon, with a sharp and chilly wind.  Ya know, I'm not really minding it, it seems like the natural way the weather should be, not that flashy, "it's March and 80 degrees" showoff-y stuff we had a week or so ago.  I find I'm more comfortable with a gradual peeling away of the layers of clothes from the "undershirt-long sleeved shirt-sweater-shawl" of mid-winter down to just a t-shirt with a light sweater by the start of summer.  None of this 3 or 4 layers of clothes, including longies and a wife-beater under it all, one day to capris and a tank the next.  My pasty white skin can't take all that vitamin D flooding in so quickly.  Not to mention my never-reliable-anymore hormone levels.  (You know how to make a hormone, doncha?  Don't pay her!  Hahahahahahahaha. [sorry, couldn't resist. that one's for you, Baldrick Vicki!])  And it's freakin' snowing right now!!!!  Well, spitting snow, not actual snowing like a blizzard.  Who ordered that?

March 28--Mexico, Mixtec-Colima, Pair of Figure Vessels.  The little figures nestled in her hands.  One was a pipe, both were ancient.  "Probably from Mexico in the 12th century or just a bit later."  Officer Dale Crispin looked at the detective in his baggy gray suit standing staring down at the corpse rolled half in-half out of a burlap sack.  "Sir?" Crispin said.  Detective Mason shook his head and passed a hand down his face as if to change what he saw.  The strobes of the evidence tech's camera lit up the alley, throwing distorted shadows onto the old bricks of the surrounding buildings.  "We're less than a block from the Neville Museum," Mason said.  He turned to the officer beside him.  "Crispin, go talk to the curator.  See if they're missing a pair of Colima ceremonial vessels."  He turned to walk away but then turned back.  "And an anthropologist."

See?  It pays to stay up too late, a story comes instead of gibberish.  Maybe it was the pretzels.  I'm all about the salty and crunchy these days, in little bits.  Gotta go drop off some tanks and then go to work.  To knit and read or listen, maybe wait on a customer.  Oh, and Mrs. Boss said she's coming in.  Well, that'll slow down the knitting.  Adios, muchachos!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Creaky Old Lady Here

What is it with me? I'm active--I walk, I work around the house, I play fetch with Porter, I do yoga--and this week my thighs and knees and calves are in... well, they're in revolt. Parts of me hurt (like the outside of my left calf) that never hurt. I spent yesterday afternoon walking around the property picking up trash that had blown in from the neighborhood dumpsters and litterbugs. I got down on my knees to carefully pick up the broken vase and glass pebbles that someone broke against the privacy fence, and I crawled around taking flower pictures, getting down to their level and right in their faces. I had a fantabulous walk in the AM with Skully and Porter, we saw a baby muskrat (Porter wanted to adopt it or at least play with it, she was very interested in it), that should have helped, right? And it did, for a while. I was back and forth from 1508, consulting with Spanky about what needed to be done before the flooring guy came today, etc., went to Menards for replacement light fixtures and stopping for a bit of extemporaneous fabric buying on the way home, then busying around here taking down the birdie tree for the season, raking the leaves from in front of the retaining wall, going over to play a little fetch with Porter, making supper. You know, normal stuff, so why are my legs sore? I'm blaming the wind and abrupt weather changes. I've been able to predict the weather with my right knee for quite a while, maybe the rest of my lower extremities felt left out and are jumping on the bandwagon. Anyway, here are some pictures to go with this rant. (The one of Porter sprawled on DS & DIL's kitchen floor just might be my favorite granddog picture of all time.)

It's week #12 of the Maple Tree Scarf. Mardi, you'll be happy to know I saw a robin in my tree this morning, there will be a tiny flash of orange red appearing in tonight's rows.

I finally finished the third and biggest of my color stripe vessels made to date night before last. Z-Dawg untangling the tangle Porter made of the gray skein made that possible. Next I want to make something in the middle, size-wise. I think I'll start with a nice spring green.

See the remnants I bought yesterday? I lovelovelove the chicken line drawing one, the velour upholstery one, the scorpion one, and the ginkgo one. I'm kind of meh about the yellow cabbage rose one but it will find its way into a project, I have faith.

The most exciting, well, maybe not the most exciting (I'm pretty pumped about all the new flooring at 1508) but a pretty exciting arrival was a box containing 3-1# bags of quilt fabric scraps. It's mostly strips which is exactly what I need to make the March quilt blocks (that may not get made in March but I'm going to bear down on Friday and Sunday to see if I can do it). I couldn't resist them, they're only $1.50/bag from If they don't have any in stock they'll email you when they do. That's what I did and it worked great. Squee!

Chickens Are Weak

I guess I forgot to explain a couple weeks ago when Henny DS & DIL1's chicken died. The kids went to Shawano for supper with Jefe & HZ and when they came home Henny was dead. Cold, stiff, white-eyed dead. Porter did tug her out of the coop and was playing with her but they assured me last Sunday when I said, one more time, that I was afraid Porter had done the deed since she'd upped her efforts to get into the coop, that Henny had been stone cold dead long before they'd let the dog out to potty before bedtime. I've since talked to others more versed in the world of chickens and they said that they can indeed just be clucking along, laying eggs, and pecking their feed, and then up and flop over. Who knew? Now Penny lives in solitude, crooning to Porter to get the dog to charge the fence for her amusement (Penny is the pretty one and has always been a bit of a diva) but now that the fence is electrified Porter's not having any of it. A new roomie for Penny will be arriving in a few weeks once Ed's eggs hatch and they grow a bit. (It's a long story.) Or DIL1 can go to a chicken swap (??) with a guy who raises show chickens (????) and get a more mature model sooner, which means eggs sooner too. Hope she can just buy one since she doesn't have anything to trade. Isn't the world a fun and interesting place with all its subcultures (show chicken raisers)? I love it. Today the carpet & flooring installer's supposed to arrive and start work. It's nearly 8:30 AM and he's not here. Now, the store didn't call to confirm his arrival time and day but wouldn't you think he'd get an early start? To my way of thinking if you start early, you can finish early and have some day left at the end to relax in. Plus he's burning daylight. It's always better to work in daylight. Even though it is overcast, windy, and chilly today. Daylight's daylight. Spanky got the painting done yesterday, and reinstalled all the curtain rods, ceiling lights, etc. He'll be back to scrape and re-grout the basement windows so they (hopefully) stop leaking and pair up the new garage opener clickers. Oh, here's the flooring installer guy. I'll go get him started and be right back. I'm back. Tomorrow's the cleaning lady and then I think we're done. I'll redo the photos and our ad on Craigslist and see if we can't lure a tenant. What I'd really like to do is sell the place and move into a condo or apartment where I/we don't need to futz with all this maintenance stuff. Durwood says that we need to keep it because it's investment property and the tenants pay the mortgage and taxes, I say that it's not worth the hassle but I don't feel strongly enough to really fight about it. Yet. I'm sure any nosy neighbor was wondering what I was up to yesterday afternoon when I made a sweep of the yard picking up trash that had blown in. I had the camera in my pocket and laid down to take pictures of the flowers, I even crawled under the forsythia to try taking pictures up through the branches. I'm not sure how successful I was but I got some absolutely gorgeous daffodil pictures. See?

March 27--Alexandre Cabanel, The Birth of Venus.
I'm intrigued by the four little cherubs hovering over Venus; they remind me of a box full of puppies, but there's nothing in my mind. No words stringing themselves together, holding hands across the page. I just don't give a crap tonight. Maybe once 1508's done and rented I'll have brain room for words. This is getting me down, big time.

Anybody need a nice place to live? The only downside is I'll be your neighbor. Think about it. Pass the word. Dammit. My knees are super-achy these days too. I'm wearing both of my elastic knee braces. Damn and double damn.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


Remember last week when I was talking (complaining? whining?) about it being too warm for the season? Well, that's over. In spades. It's forty degrees today with a sharp, gusty wind coming screaming out of the North. Skully and I went walking this morning and I was glad to have my hat and fingerless mitts. Didn't wear a winter coat, only a fleece jacket, but then I work up a good amount of heat when I walk anyway. This was Porter's first long walk wearing her knock-off brand Halti and it worked like a charm. She trotted right at my left side the whole way. I let her go once and she tried to run but I had the leash short so she just flipped herself to the side. I have some special bleu cheese & liver treats that she gets one of when the Halti goes on, one at the furthest end of our walk, and one when we're back at the car just before I take it off. Soon she'll connect wearing it with those yummy treats and I'll win. My back thanks whoever invented that very humane way of controlling an exuberant dog. I don't really mind too much it being chilly again. I kind of missed bundling up, missed that gradual transition from pseudo-winter to spring. DS & DIL1 built Penny, their remaining chicken, a new, improved coop on Sunday since Porter was determined to get into the old one. They also bought a $50 kit for a little electric fence that's outside of the coop. Evidently Miss Porter investigated yesterday and didn't like it one bit. I get to go over and let her out to potty later so I'll get to see her avoidance technique. Poor little goggie, everyone's making her change her behavior. Seems she's not the pack leader anymore. Too bad, so sad. I did realize this morning that I need to make a "doggie" bag for my car to keep the Halti, treats, the box of dollar store poop bags I got, and my spare squeaky ball. Beverly (the HHR, which, btw, stands for "Heritage High Roof") likes things tidy.

March 26--India, Pan Box in the Shape of a Duck. Martha watched the mama duck lead her ducklings across the lawn and down to the river. She strolled along behind and watched them cluster in the reeds on shore until the raucous quacking of the mama lured them into the flowing water. The ducklings bobbed and bumped together but they eventually got themselves organized into an orderly line behind their mother.

I had visions of a body in those reeds too but fell asleep before I got there. Maybe next time I won't fall dead asleep as soon as my head gets anywhere near the pillow. Stay warm or stay cool, but stay safe.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Full Tummies & Philosophy

Last night was Family Supper and we had homemade corned beef. (No cabbage though.) DS made a potato galette which is a crisp-on-one-side, baked-in-an-iron-skillet, potato cake with rosemary in it. It was delicious, pretty, and such a nice complement to the tender beef and crunchy green beans. My Irish soda bread (which is really more of a big biscuit) was a hit as was the NY-style chopped salad. HZ made a grasshopper pie in a chocolate cookie crust served with a dollop of whipped cream and shaved chocolate on top. (That disappeared so fast I didn't get a picture.) I'm not a mint fan, so I held out for one of her mocha cupcakes with 7-minute frosting and drizzled chocolate. We talked and laughed, had a little cheese and crackers to start,
red the new chicken coop, and made most of the food disappear, all between 5 & 8 PM. Next month was supposed to be our turn but HZ wants to make Easter supper so we'll switch. We're all hoping that their WZ & ADZ will be home (hint, hint--DIL1, pass this along if it'll help lure them this way. thanks.). I volunteered to see if I can't make one of the bunny cakes that Mom used to make for dessert. Ooh, I just had a brainstorm--I'll make a carrot cake with cream cheese frosting (bunnies like carrots, right?) and press shredded coconut on the outside. It'll be perfect. Fun too. HZ and I agreed (cue the mutual back-patting) that we're in the minority as far as mother-in-laws (mothers-in-law?) go. Turns out her friends are a bit bemused that we all get along, just like some of mine are. We're very different but we enjoy each others' company. IMHO, people expecting everyone to be the same, or like them, is part of what's going haywire with our society today. It's more interesting to sit and share different perspectives, don't you think? Anyway, the Malcolms, Zander-Malcolms, and the Zanders had a fine time last night. (Too bad WZ & ADZ and DD & DIL2 don't live near enough to get us all together once a month, or even quarterly.)

March 25--Peru, Moche or Wari, Tunic. Jane had never been one of those self-consciously artsy poets. She was one of the people who melted into the background at gatherings. If you looked closely you could see that she didn't miss much, and you knew she was storing thoughts and characters away for later. All that changed when Arnie took her to Peru. No one was sure what had happened to make the change and Jane never said, but her work was different, deeper and more visceral. She changed the way she dressed too. The most dramatic garment was a tunic made of cotton and alpaca. It was soft and warm, yes, and Jane's clothes had always been about comfort, but it was the vivid colors and designs that signaled the biggest change. She had always dressed in subdued blues and greens, but the red and yellow made her come alive.

A-a-and it's time to get a move on. The sun's out and Spanky should finish the painting today. Maybe not the closets but the rooms. I want to confer with him and make sure he's planning to paint the stairwell. It's the original bright yellow and rather jarring anymore. Now we just need a tenant, but that'll happen. I plan to post new pictures once the work's done and that should lure them in again. Right???? Stretch your muscles and your minds today, chitlins.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Stuff I Made & Stuff To Be Made

I made lotion. I did! I love my homemade lotion, it smells nice, I can control what's in it, and feels great. I ordered some bigger bottles and new citrus essential oils last week so I had to try them out. I thought you might like to see the process so here's a little photo montage of my lotion making. Here's my lab (it doubles as the laundry area). I keep all the Pyrex cups, measuring spoons, even the microwave exclusively for lotion making.

I substitute aloe juice for half of the water. It's great for your skin. And
I use olive, almond, or sunflower oil.

The dry-ish ingredients--waxes,
emulsifiers, glycerin--are added next. Then it's into the microwave for heating to near boiling.

A stick blender (used only for this) blends it all together and also blends in the germicide.

Usually I mix in the fragrance when I add the Germall, but this time I put the essential oil into the bottle since I made such a small amount of each fragrance. As the lotion cools it needs to be shaken so that it remains in solution.

Then I make cool labels on Print Shop, stick them on, and put tape over it so the ink doesn't run. Just like real lotion! It feels so good, on my skin and that I made it myself.

I went to the Evergreen Quilt show with Cookie, Z-Dawg, and Cookie's mom, 4Bs (Big Bad Biker Bitch--she's a very nice lady, but Big Bad Biker Nice Lady just doesn't have the same ring) and I was very proud, I am very proud that I brought three of my $25 home. It cost five bucks to get in, then I got a cool bag pattern, four fat quarters for only $5, and a half-pound of scraps of fabri
c for two bucks. Two bucks! And I picked out mostly batiks. I'm happy to say that of the 3 shops/booths I bought from, two of them are in Green Bay. Now I just need to find time to sew up all this stuff--because I need to do the March quilt blocks yet and I want to make more flannel & linen duvets, and...and...and. I want to knit too. Gah! I hope someone's working on my idea to have another weekday not for work but for crafting. Maybe two?

Up & At 'Em

I woke up at 6:30 all on my own this morning. This is good. I don't like it when I sleep too late and it's nearly noon (okay, ten) when I'm ready to face the day. Today I get to have a haircut, then I'll make Irish Soda Bread (I found a recipe that says it's Fast) on my new baking stone and assemble the ingredients for a NY-Style chopped salad since tonight's Family Dinner. DS & DIL1 are making home-corned Corned Beef with cabbage, potatoes & green beans. HZ's in charge of the dessert. Should be delicious. We can't wait to try homemade corned beef. DS says it's tastier and not pink since they don't put any nitrates or saltpeter in it. That's good, right? I'll be visiting the grocery store salad bar to gather all sorts of toppings for the salad (the more the better, I hope everyone liked radishes, hey, I'm making the sacrifice and putting in a few sliced black olives, that should count for something) and I'm using a creamy Vidalia salad dressing. The bread has raisins and caraway seeds in it and cinnamon sugar brushed on top; should be a taste treat. We really need a fourth (like Mom, tsk) so that no one has to do two things (like salad AND bread). She sure threw a wrench into the works by kicking the bucket last Fall. (don't you agree that season names [and Earth when it means the planet] should be capitalized? I knew you would.) Thanks a heap, Mom. Just for that, next time it's our turn to make dessert I'm making Coach Cake and you don't get any. Not. One. Bite. So there, nyah. (I'd stick out my tongue but there're are a bunch of geese flying by and I don't want them to poop on my tongue.) I went to the Evergreen Quilt show yesterday with Cookie, Z-Dawg, and Cookie's mom, 4Bs (Big, Bad, Biker Bitch) and had a blast. You'll be so proud of me; I had $3 of my $25 left when I got home. I did spend a bit on an Aux cable so I can listen to my iPod safely in the car (no more lectures from DS & DIL1 when I get out of the car in earbuds) and a 2-pack of scratchguards for my Kindle. I love my Kindle. I should love it and squeeze it and call it George, but everyone's doing that lately so I'll just call it kindle and be done with it. I have to confess that I put it into the pink fuzzy monster pouch and I like having it in the pouch. I still don't like the pink fuzziness of it but I can deal. Hey, I learned to like dogs, didn't I? It could happen. And I made lots of lotion with all my new bottles and citrus essential oils yesterday, but you'll have to go here to see them.

March 24--John Smibert, Mrs. Frances Brinley and Her Son Francis. Franny held little Frankie like he was the embodiment of the Second Coming, or maybe even the real deal. You'd think she was the first to have a baby the way she coddled him. She wrapped him in blankets and knit bonnets and sweaters and booties until the poor kid was red-faced and cranky with heat rash while she fanned herself. You can't tell first-time mothers how resilient babies are, they think they're made of porcelain and will break at any minute. When it's my turn to watch Frankie I unwrap him and let his little legs and arms flail--and cool off. How does she expect him to learn not to bonk himself in the face with his fist if he's always wrapped up tighter than a mummy's corpse? I pat some cornstarch into the creases of his fat little arms and legs and even on his little business so it can soak up some of that sweat and dry out those awful itchy bumps. Poor little thing. Rich people's children don't have a chance to be normal, do they?

Heh, good thing we've never been rich--in money anyway. I've always thought we were richer than Midas in the ways that count. Still do. Be good, now, and if you can't, give a fake name.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Slow Learner

That's me. You think I'm smart. I know you do. But you're wrong, totally wrong. I've proved to myself time and again that my arthritic knees suffer if I don't exercise them, but I sat on my rusty, dusty arse most of last week and I paid for it with a week of exceedingly achy knees. There's a mental/emotional facet to exercising too and until this morning I didn't really grasp that. I've been descending into sadness for the last week or so. Not depression, just sadness, having a cry now and again, the screen door was locked at DS & DIL1's so I had to go borrow their garage door clicker, and I nearly blew off yoga & knitting last night. Thank Dog I didn't. I came home feeling like a new woman. Not peppy happy but not draggingly sad either. This morning I got up and did the 30 minute Wii Fit Plus Yoga routine I worked out to keep the sad at bay a bit. I need to stop lolling around and take care of myself. I know it's going to take all week and maybe longer to re-oil my knees so they don't complain every time I walk, but my brain's evidently a quicker learner because I feel like I've eaten a barrel of Wheaties in the disposition department. Halle-frickin'-lujah. (how come I can never remember how to spell "hallelujah"? I look it up every time.) Soon as this is posted I'll shower, then eat, (maybe eat, then shower) then meet Cookie, Z-dawg & Cookie's mom (who we have to give a street name to) are meeting at a quilt show for a look-see. (I am putting $20 into a pocket and that's all I'm allowing myself to spend. I spent evry last dime I had at Artigras and I'm not repeating that today. Besides I don't have room for more fabric in my armoire.) I need to be home by noon because DS is coming then to help me get the stinky carpet out of 1508's basement and carry up some boxes of books so I can take them to Goodwill. THEN I'm going right back downstairs to make lotion with the new citrus essential oils I got yesterday and put that lotion in the new, big, 8 oz. bottles that I ordered too. Ah, I can't wait to smooth my skin with citrus-y goodness. I'm putting aloe juice in too so that the lotion's even nicer. I'm a genius. Just ask me. Slow, but a genius. Tomorrow I'm devoting to sewing. There will be photos over on my knitting blog tomorrow. Check it out.

March 23--India, Melancholy Courtesan. India was hot and muggy. It was hard to get away from the heat and humidity. Even in an air-conditioned place moisture seeped in. Carpets and upholstery were all damp and clothing left too long in the closet got mildewed. Leather shoes became lumps of furry mold in no time at all. Evelyn and Josephine had been in India since the end of the reign of the British Raj and had lived there their whole lives. They'd lived through a lot of changes in governments and still all they grumbled about was the weather.

Crying, sadness, and yoga make me tired. In the middle of this tiny bit of writing is a long, scribble from when I dozed off in mid-thought. You know your story's going nowhere when even you fall asleep in the middle of it. Hasta la vista, babies.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Floors **edited due to brain drain**

Calmness has descended upon me. The duct sucking guy came, made a hellacious amount of noise, and left. Durwood cleaned the vent covers and I screwed them back into place. We pigged out on Coney Dogs (sloppy joe with hot dogs on buns) for lunch, then Durwood had to go off to have a chest x-ray to make sure his infection is on the run. I carried the 15 boxes of laminate flooring from the back of Durwood's van into the rental garage so that it's ready for the installer on Tuesday and takes all that weight off the van's springs. Here's a picture of the carpet and flooring we picked out. The laminate is for the kitchens and the rental dinette, the slate tile is for the bathroom and entry, the dark brown carpet's for the master, the lighter is for the 2nd bedroom ** No, No, No--the dark brown's for the living room and the light & shaggy's for the bedrooms**, and we've got a remnant for the hall that's a sculptured tan berber. All the rooms in the rental side will be the Ivory Mist on the card on the right, eggshell for the bedrooms and living room and semi-gloss for the hall, bath, and bedroom. I think it'll look nice once it's done, which should be the end of next week. Whew.

For some very frustrating reason, McAfee has decided that my Hotmail account is haunted or something so it won't open. It did earlier today, but not now. Pissing me off? You bet. That's it for today. Didn't write last night, it was too late and I wanted to go to sleep holding hands with the old guy.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

That's More Like It

As much as I've liked the warm temps lately, it so far out of the norm that it's made me uneasy. Today it's supposed to be in the 60s which is still 20 degrees above normal. I'm looking forward to knowing how to dress for the day. Really--jeans, tee, cotton sweater, regular (mismatched) socks, tennis shoes. See? Normal. For March (March, people!) in Green Bay. The way we were going this last week made me think that by July 4th we'd be getting temps of 130 and up! No. Way. Jose. Totally not gonna happen. Last night was the Titletown Brewing Beer & Food dinner. We had tapas. They set up small tables for the diners and other tables around the room with a pitcher of the paired beer alongside. We were handed a 4 oz. tasting glass when we filed in and invited to visit each station, take a tiny bit back to our table, sip and eat, repeat. Things started slowly but in very little time people were comparing notes, laughing and talking. My favorite was the Chorizo & Potato Croquettes. Oh my, they were little fried balls of deliciousness, spicy with a cooling creamy red pepper sauce on top, just a dab to enhance the flavor. They were paired with Johnny "Blood" Red--not my fave of the beers, (you remember that I am not a beer person, at all, right? but, DS, I'm learning) and I thought the spice of the food overpowered the beer. Next for me was the Shrimp & Brie Crostini paired with Hopasaurus Rex IPA. Oh. My. God. The major grapefruit flavor of the beer made the sweet shrimp and brie leap off the toast and the herb pesto was the perfect compliment. Yum. Next on my hit parade was the Chicken Empandas, paired with Dark Helmet Schwartzbier, where the roasty malt went well with the toasted pastry. Then there were the Prosciutto & Pear Tartlets with Bleu Cheese alongside Willie's Wee Nip; these went together well because they were opposites, the beer was sweet and caramel-y while the cheese was salty. This was the only one where I wanted a bigger bite so that the flavors were stronger to stand up to the beer. (Listen to me, talking like I know what I'm about beerwise) The Pork Pinchitos Morunos were skewered, rubbed and roasted pork paired with One Hop Wonder: Mt. Hood beer. I went back for another serving of Hopasaurus Rex with that and I wonder if I cheated myself out of a taste treat with the change, but I dealt. The Tuna Ceviche was served in endive leaves and paired with Canadeo Gold. As much as I've loved ceviche in the past, this one left me strangely unmoved. Maybe I need to be sitting under the blazing Caribbean sun on the bow of the boat, or on the dock next to the boat, where the fish was caught, under the tree where the limes were grown, or maybe it was the beer. I don't know, but I was slightly disappointed that I didn't like this one more. I was also disappointed in the Bacon-Cheddar Puff with Pastrami Pate, which was paired with Leaping Monkey Brown Ale. The pate was the gooey center of the puff and an unhappy surprise with the first bite. Too bad. (KZ took the ones Cookie didn't eat, put them in a Ziplock snack bag I unearthed from my purse, and took them home to her husband, GZ, who she said would love them.) For dessert (dessert, yes, dessert with beer; my son and daughter-in-law are food geniuses) we had freshly grilled Banana, Nutella, & Marshmallow Panini paired with Bridge Out Stout fortified with Chambord. Since I'm really not a raspberry person the beer was meh for me, and the sandwich kind of was too. My palate was chock full of the spiciness of the chorizo croquettes (did I mention that a person could go back to a station? more than once?), I suspect that the sweetness of the dessert was a mere distraction, and not a welcome one either. You do understand that my "glass" of beer is no more than an inch in the bottom of a 4 oz. tasting glass, right? (what DIL1 calls "a no,thank you" portion) I am not a beer drinker or any good at drinking wine or spirits either. I like them, I just get tipsy really fast, and I don't like that feeling at all. Besides after a mere 2 drinks I can be relied on to be topless on a table, dancing. Nobody wants that. Not even Durwood. I am so glad that Cookie & I started going to these. It's a great night with great food and interesting people for the low, low price of $30. Can't be beat.

March 21--Mindanao, Philippines, Dadabwaan (Drum). You could see where the drum had been held between the player's knees, that his skin oil had darkened the wood. Jane smoothed her hand on the surface feeling the mother-of-pearl inlays cool beneath her fingers. She imagined that she could feel the beat of the drum, the heartbeat of the player that came before. She traced the carved leaves that made the drum look like it had been made by putting found objects together in a new way.

That's when the thimble-full of beer I'd had over the course of the evening took its toll and send me to dreamland. I just had a brainstorm--I should take a couple growlers of beer with me when I go to The Clearing in the fall to share with the other campers. Wouldn't that be nice? I think I'll do that, and I'll be sure to keep my shirt right where it belongs. *nods with confidence*

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Not So Crazy

We both worked diligently yesterday to both keep the reclaiming of 1508 on task and we worked on reclaiming our separate and collective sanity. I made a list, which always makes me slow down and take smaller bites, and worked at crossing things off. I had to wrench myself back away from the crazy train a few times but I was a crossing off pro by the end of the day. We both spent part of the day tidying up the piles, no, the mountains of paper, booklets, receipts, and magazines that have taken up residence on the table. It's more relaxing when it's tidy. Who knew? The carpet installer came to measure etc. and he can install the laminate flooring too. Yay, Kris! We even had him measure our kitchen area, include that in the labor too, so we'll have a new kitchen floor, not kitchen carpeting (what a terrible idea that was!), that we can keep cleaner. Having that new floor will make the rest of it look disgusting but Durwood needs to take baby steps. That's okay with me. We talked last night and we'll make a ledger sheet to track the money we're spending and how much is left for a cushion. That's the part that drives him over the edge, not knowing exactly how much money's going out. Tonight, Terry the electrician will be over to replace a couple of fixtures in the basement and just generally test the switches, etc. to make sure it all works. I told Durwood last night that I'd like to just scrape out everything in our house and start over, he told me to win the Lottery. I bought a ticket yesterday even before he said that. It was such a crazy day and he didn't want to cook so we went to Golden Corral and it wasn't bad. Oh, it's not like homemade (we're spoiled cuz he's such a good good) but it was passable. It let us sit across the table from each other, a cleared off table at that, and talk like humans. It was very nice, almost like a date. I think we both feel better today.

March 20--Francis William Edmonds, The New Bonnet. The first day of Spring was the right day for a new hat. Kay was certain that it would come. She needed a new had after the long, dreary winter had gone. Now that days were getting longer she could feel the urge to get out more. Now that the roads weren't frozen and the mud had dried she could walk to visit a friend. The library was reachable again so she no longer had to rely on Miss Touhy to send her what she thought Kay should read. In the middle of the coldest part of the winter Miss Touhy had persisted in sending Russian novel after Russian novel. Even after Kay sent a note asking for books set in warm places. As cold as it was in Greencastle, reading endless passages about the frigid Russians made her even colder.

That Miss Touhy, I've always thought she was a prig, haven't you? I always want to read about warm places even when it's so hot here that I'm in the air conditioning and in the basement too. Hey, happy Spring! It's crazy hot here, in the 80s. I think the Poles have shifted. No, not in Poland, you smartasses, the North & South Poles. Tsk. I'm off to eat breakfast (who's up for cheerios & prunes? Me!), shower, and go off to work. Tonight's a Beer & Food pairing dinner at Titletown. Cooke & I go and tonight tapas are on the menu. I love eating a whole bunch of little plates of goodies, don't you? I'll report tomorrow but, I warn you, it might just be one, long mmmmmmm.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Spring! The Real Thing!

I am so confused. It's March and the first day of Spring. True. That much I'm totally sure of. It was 83 degrees today. See? That's the part that's confusing. We went right from non-Winter to late Spring in no time. I'm old, I need gradual changes. This abrupt stuff is, well, it's abrupt. I keep having to dress in the basement because all my clothes are too warm for the weather. I just toured the yard and I took pictures of all the happy Spring things I found out there.

The forsythia's in bloom. I love those happy yellow flowers with no leaves to confuse things.

The hyacinths and daffodils are out in force and they smell like heaven.

I dug up a shovel-full of these from my SIL's mom's yard a coon's age ago and this little bit of them survives. I keep hoping they'll spread and fill under the lilac bush with their happy Spring blueness.

I must have planted these tiny white flower bulbs. I have no clue what they ar
e, but they sure are dainty and pretty, aren't they?

The primroses are blooming. I love their velvety richness.

Chives are up and once again I
was late cutting them down so I've got last year's dried ones mixed in. Ah well, they're green and they'll add a fresh touch to Durwood's cooking for many months to come. I can pick out the dead stuff.

And here's my favorite lawn ornament no matter the season. Look at the bruise on his right forearm. Porter was really happy to see him yesterday.

Speaking of Porter, she investigated my knitting bag. Didn't eat or chew through anything, she just turned a tidy ball of gray wool into a tangle. I'll be enlisting Durwood's help tonight after supper and a trip to Menards for lami
nate flooring. The painter's working now, painting starts tomorrow. Next week the flooring will get installed. Tomorrow night the electrician will replace a few things and check that everything is safe. That means that I can call a cleaning lady/service to come week after next to have her work her magic in the kitchen and bath, and we'll be ready for tenants. Things are getting done. Durwood's the ramrod and he's doing a great job.

Geez Louise

I went pretty darned near crazy over the weekend and I didn't like it one bit. Good ol' Durwood let me cry on his shoulder and be a nut job. He's a good egg. For some reason I (or my innerHitler) have gotten the idea that crying, like to mourn Mom, makes me a weakling *throws hands up* so I've been tamping it down since late October. This is not good, not for my stomach (which has been in knots for about 10 days), not for my molars (which I tend to grind when I'm stressed and holding it in), not for the organized, purposeful reclamation of 1508 (picking out flooring, getting a painter hired & started). I've been frantically flapping around for about a week and it all came to a head on Sunday. I felt tight-throated when I got up and by the time Porter and I got here and Durwood said, "what's wrong?" the flood was upon me. Crycrycrycry, hiccup, crycrycry. I hated it and I didn't let it go on for long, but it felt good to get even that little bit out. I feel another one coming on (knotted stomach's giving it away) but I'm not as reluctant to let it out (see old dogs can learn new tricks). We found some great carpeting and fake slate flooring at Dalton Carpet Outlet on Sunday, and this afternoon I'll find an installer from Menard's to put in the laminate in the kitchen/dinette. Spanky from the dive shop's out of work so he'll paint, he started washing walls yesterday. I'm usually so calm, I don't know why I'm stirring this tempest in my teapot. Durwood commented that I'm overwhelmed and I had a mental image of having only a very thin layer of "whelm" left right now. I am definitely over that. The other person I need is a cleaning lady for one giant scrubbing of the kitchen & bath. I'll schedule that for the very end of the month. Now all we need is a tenant. I think the possibility of having one April 1 is nearly passed but I showed it earlier and he works at the bank just behind us so maybe they'll move in May 1. Okay, open jaw, drop shoulders, take a deep breath, and move on. Got lots on the list to cross off today.

March 19--Cindy Sherman, Untitled Film Still. The skyscrapers made the street feel like it was at the bottom of a canyon. After growing up on the edge of the Great Plains, Sheila relished the feeling. At home everything was low to the ground so that tornadoes skipped by doing minimal damage. Here the buildings were afraid of the weather. They thrust up toward the sky as if seeking out the terrible twisting winds to joust with. The sky at home went on forever; it made Sheila feel small with its vastness. Here the skyscrapers cut the sky into manageable bits and the lights outshone the stars. She had always felt that the stars were peepholes that allowed dead people or alien things to spy down upon her. She was happier here among the skyscrapers, she felt safe.

Next on my agenda is to finally finish the Monster Pouch I'm making for a swap and send it off. Today's the deadline. Why finish on time when I can come screaming up to the finish in the nick of time?

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Where Am I?

I can't be in Green Bay, WI because GB,WI doesn't have a string of days like these. It's been nice, 50s & 60s, but next week it's supposed to be in the 70s. Starting today. Can you believe it? I feel like I've been tele-ported to someplace like Evansville, IN or Lexington, KY where spring comes in March. Srping usually waits until late April or even May to come here. I have to go out front to snip out the last of the chrysanthemum corpses so the daffodils and hyacinths can bloom. They're already trying. Once I get that done I'm taking Porter with me to Petco to get a Halti for her so she doesn't pull my back & knee out of whack anymore. I don't want to curb her exuberance, far from it, that's actually one of the things I like best about her. I just want to be able to enjoy our walks without days of pain afterward. I'm thinking we can take short practice walks around this neighborhood today and tomorrow so we'll be ready when Tuesday rolls around for our longer trail walks. Choke chains and pinch collars seem cruel to me but if this soft webbing helps her pull a bit less and it doesn't hurt her, I'd like to give it a try. (I just checked with DS to make sure I'm not overstepping my bounds; don't want to since she's really not mine, I just get to borrow her.) She's gotten so much doggier lately too, she didn't even shy away when a couple of bicyclists passed us on the trail yesterday, and bicycles have been her nemesis since she arrived, even ones just lying on the ground, so this is real progress. DS & DIL1 must have been working with her because she's so much more socialized and this morning when we were out in her backyard with the squeaky ball she actually brought it back near me and dropped it. See, what did I tell ya? Doggier. I can't get over myself with this dog. I have spent my first 60 years of life being afraid of dogs, paralyzingly afraid of dogs, and now, just like a switch flipped, I'm not. What's going on? Am I finally a grownup? (Heaven forbid.) I just learned that I have to put my knitting UP. Miss Porter discovered the joys of wool. She pulled out all this yarn, hadn't eaten or chewed it, when Durwood discovered her gnawing on the little pincushion cup on the left side there. My mistake, one I won't make again. Possibly.

March 16--James Peale, Still Life: Balsam Apple and Vegetables. Soup. That's what I want to make, soup. I can feed a lot of people with not much food if I make soup. Let's see... what's in the fridge and larder? Cabbage, that's a good start, oh, and a red cabbage too. There's some chicken I can use, a bit of squash, and okra. This soup will be great. I know I've got plenty of onions, carrots, and celery to give it a good foundation, and I'll simmer the bones in the broth for deep flavor. Now what? A small handful of fresh parsley, a bit of thyme... maybe another pinch. Salt and pepper. Now we're talking. The kitchen is ripe with the fragrance of good soup and I hear a flock of sn
ow geese passing overhead. For a final touch I'll chop these tomatoes and add a it of cider vinegar to bring out the flavors. Done. Now it can simmer while I sew on a blanket and, no matter who knocks on my door, I'll be ready to welcome them with a bowl of soup.

Mm, soup. I feel like I could save the world when I make soup. There were snow geese flying north yesterday. I took a picture. You can barely see them but that's okay. This rectangle of blue will remind me. Thanks, Aunt B.