Saturday, June 30, 2012

Up & At 'Em

got any treats?
i sit pretty

june 30 -- friend, with treats
We got up early and zoomed off to the Farmer's Market early because it's easier for Durwood to breathe when it isn't too hot.  I was surprised at how crowded it was at 7:15 AM, but we managed to park fairly close, then get his 3# bag of tomatoes, 3 zucchini for a buck, and a cucumber & some Roma tomatoes for my lunches next week.  I'll be slathering pesto hummus on a toasted sandwich thin and then topping it with sliced cukes and tomato.  That makes me two Grandpa Gerst (open face) sandwiches for a very satisfying and good looking lunch, with a bowl of fruit on the side, I'm all set.  Of course we had $$ for an egg roll for him and crab rangoons for me.  I asked him to hold mine while I drove home and now he wants to share them next week and not get an egg roll.  *sigh*  I knew that'd happen if I let him hold them, but I guess I can sacrifice and eat 3 instead of 4.  They're kind of big and I was thinking of ordering just 2 today anyway, of course I didn't, but I can share.  Reluctantly, but I can.  Yoga was good last night, a more active practice again.  My lower back's a bit stiff today but I know it'll ease in a day or so.  No biggie.  What was different last night was that a friend of Mardi's offered to come and play music for us while we worked out.  It was a bit odd and disconcerting to have him sitting up in the front of the room strumming away.  I found it harder to pull my focus in and not be conscious of him there, but I managed after a while.  It was good to get sweaty and work my muscles.  I always feel so relaxed and so limber after yoga.  Be bendy, that's what Mardi says.  She's starting another community yoga practice in a park along the river in July.  The only drawback is that it's at 6:30 A.M.  I'd love to give doing yoga outside a try.  I wonder if I can get up and out to do it?  I'll think about it.  Yesterday was filled with appointments so we both stopped to let Porter out just after noon.  I handed Durwood my camera so I've got some shots of me playing with her.  Today's Photo A Day theme is "friend" and I have a progression of photos leading up to the official one.  I know, I know, I didn't take these photos but I'm in them so I'm counting it.  If you think that's cheating, you play along in July and see how challenging some of those innocent little themes can be.

June 30--Egypt, Cairo, The Mamluk Carpet.  We treated that red and blue carpet like an indoor hopscotch game.  Around the center diamond there were eight-pointed stars between designs that looked like wheels and spokes.  We used stone tile coasters as tokens.  We'd stand on one of the corners and slide our tile onto one motif after another, then we'd hop from space to space around the center.  Julian and Amelia were the best.  They'd keep their turns going so long that I'd get tired of waiting.  Usually I'd be lying under the marquetry table asleep when one or the other of them won the game with me not needing to play one minute to lose.

That's all folks.  I think I'm going to go play with fabric, and I might mow the lawn later when the sun's going down.  I've been trying to remember when I last mowed... I don't think it was in June.  That's how dry it is.  Can you imagine?  Is this 4th of July weekend or is it next weekend?  With the actual day on Wednesday how do you know?

Friday, June 29, 2012

Today's Theme Is Soft

I don't have many soft things.  I don't think I'm a "soft" person.  When I think "soft" I think mohair and cushy things, fuzzy stuff, pink and baby blue, pillowy stuff, none of those are me.  I think.  So I looked around the living room when I was Wii-ing earlier and saw the bloom on the peace lily.  The pollen had all fallen off (onto the carpet) but the bloom looked soft, so I took its picture.  Then my glance fell onto the pearly inner shell on the table by the window.  That's soft to the touch or rather, it's smooth (smooth is kind of like soft, right?), so I took its picture.  Then I went outside in the backyard to see if there was any "soft" out there.  Well.  There's the hummingbird vine with its soft greens, oranges and pinks.  Took that.  The bright yellow petals of the lilies are soft to the touch.  Got it.  Don't the daisies look like a soft pillow of flowers?  Snap.  Ooh, ripe blueberries are a soft blue.  Snap, then pick, then yum.  Look! the thyme is blooming soft pinkish lavender.  Click.  Hm, those sage leaves look kind of soft, like they have gray fuzz on them.  Buzzzz.  You get the picture.  I got all the pictures.  Now, how to pick one (ONE!!) for today's posted image.  It's like picking a favorite child.  Do I go with my first, rather desperate choice or do I choose a more reasoned, calmly considered one?  I could just pile them all on here and let you choose... but that's kind of a cop-out, making you, my nebulous and imaginary-feeling readers (I know you're out there, Aunt B, the rest of you, eh, not so much), responsible for it.  Okay, I'm making a choice but I'm going to post them all anyway because now that I've told you all about them it would be mean not to show them to you, right?  Right.  *nods confidently*  Durwood's making something crockpotty out of his Dad's Day gift from DS & DIL1, America's Test Kitchen's Crockpot cookbook for our supper tonight.  I brought up chicken leg quarters to thaw out so it's something chicken-y, but beyond that I'm clueless.  He had a veritable drift of red bookmarks poking out of the pages of the book, top and bottom, when he was thinking out loud about what to choose last night.  I, myself, voted for the bbq one but I suspect that's not the one he chose.  I don't really care.  I haven't had to choose or prepare it.  I'm not out there clattering around assembling it so it can be cooking away while we're off on our appointed rounds today.  I'll eat what he makes.  I'm easy.  Not cheap, no no (cheap implies low quality), but easy... amenable might be a better word, yeah, I'm amenable to eating anything he slaps in front of me (unless it's moving... or liver) most of the time.  I suspect that it's my tendency to eat pretty much anything and for any emotion that's gotten me into the shape I'm in.  (round, I'm round)  Ha! I should have taken my own picture; I'm soft, but I don't think you want to see my "soft" parts.  (Ewww.  Sorry.)

June 29--School of Bernard Palissy, Platter.  "That is one god-awful ugly plate," Gerry said when I held up the platter.  "Ugly and filthy, a can't-miss combo."  I got the feeling that she didn't like it.  I kept my mouth shut about all the chipped, cracked, and flat-out broken monstrosities she'd held up to me in any one of a jillion similar dim shops we've been in.  We both love to paw through resale and antique shops looking for "finds."  Not the fancy ones but the ones that are dusty and crammed to the rafters with good stuff.  Gerry has a thing for Kewpies and any other doll that's "so ugly it's cute."  In fact cute is how she describes any old thing that catches her eye.  She'll pick up some doll that looked like a dog had been gnawing on it and say, "isn't this cute?"  I'll peer over at her and squint to see if I can figure out what's cute about it.  Most of the time I can't see it.  She has some nerve saying that this platter with its frogs, snakes, and lizards on it is ugly.  It's probably a real valuable antique from the days gone by.  I'm sure of it.  I'm buying it.

Okay, kids, that's it for me today.  Next I need to wrestle the pictures on here (if anyone knows how to make them go where I want them to, I'd appreciate some tips, really, it's making me crazy not being able to) and then get dressed for our city tour of appointments and errands.  Oh, hey, it's Friday, isn't it?  Woohoo, yoga tonight!  Yes.  Now I'm happy, now that last week's sore muscles are all better I'm ready to go again.  Bring it.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

I Am Not On The Shelf...

I'm next to the shelf.  "On the shelf" is today's Photo A Day June theme.  I took it literally and slightly unpiled my writing bookshelf (which my Grandpa Stephan made, btw) and took its picture.  I love this bookcase.  I can remember where it sat in every house I've ever lived in.  It was on the west wall of the living room (which was painted battleship gray, looked like a bat cave, Aunt B said) on Folz Lane in Evansville, IN; at the foot of the basement stairs with the Childcraft and lame-ass encyclopedia we got a volume at a time at the grocery on it on Liberty Street here in Green Bay; in DS's bedroom when he lived on the other side of this duplex; and right here next to me holding all my manuscripts, magazines, and writing books.  Especially Shut Up & Write! by my friend and fave writing teacher, Judy Redbird Bridges.  If you have aspirations of writing you need to get you a copy of this book and go through it--again and again.  It's like the best writing seminar you'll ever take and you can have it with you always.  I'll wait while you follow the link (to Amazon, that's how you know it's a real book, it's on Amazon)... okay, back now?  Moving on.  The summer twins, heat & humidity, are back.  I told Durwood that I'd stop at the Broadway Farmer's Market last night after work to get him some tomatoes and, holy Mary, it was hot and sticky.  Of course, I decided to wear a dress to work yesterday and my hooha (or kuka, as Skully says [ "the girls" are hoohoos, she says, it's a central Wisconsin thing] (she's from Wausau)) got seriously hot and sweaty with not much fabric to wick away the moisture.  (what can I say, I have very active sweat glands, yes, even downthere)  It was a relief to get into Titletown Brewing where I met a friend for roasted veggie pizza and about a gallon of ice water.  I get to work again today (lucky me!) so I should get on with this, eat, and then shower.  You totally want me to shower.  The whole town wants me to shower.  Probably the entire Western Hemisphere would vote yes on the "should Barbara shower?" question if we put it up for a vote.  Not much apathy on that issue, I'm guessing.  Moving on.

June 28--John Singer Sargent, Madame X.  The black silk clung to her like water.  It caressed her curves and pooled in her recesses, swirling and floating in the night breeze.  It was hot in the ballroom.  The heat poured out through the French doors flung wide to entice the cool breeze inside.  Perry watched Grace lean on the balustrade, her arms crossed, her hands on her shoulders to ward off the evening's chill,  He watched as the breeze teased tiny, dark brown curls out of her French twist.  She slid her hands down to her elbows and sighed.  Punk Wilson roared out of another door, caught her around the waist, and whirled her his way.  She braced her forearms on his chest, shook her head when he slurred out a marriage proposal, and levered herself free. Punk staggered back into the crowded ballroom like iron filings to a magnet.  "You should have said yes," Perry said, walking out to stand beside her, "he's very rich."  She looked up at him, her brown eyes sparkling and said, "I don't think his wife would like it if I did."

And the dance of romance begins...  *sigh*  Real life's never like that, is it?  I think I watched too many late night, black & white movies with Mom growing up.  Hey, time for Cheerios.  See ya.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Splish, Splash, I Was Takin' A Bath...

That's the Photo A Day theme today: bathroom.  When I first saw it I thought really? you want me to take a picture in the bathroom of the bathroom?  Then I realized that parts of our lone bathroom are photogenic, well, the antique metal mesh purses and the fish watercolor over the toilet are, the rest is just porcelain, fiberglass, and vinyl.  Boring.  I love the "underwater" shower curtain; it adds a diving dimension to my morning ablutions.  It's supposed to be another hot one--or three--so the house is buttoned up and the a/c is on.  If I control the thermostat, it's cranked (well, set at 74 really but cranked sounds better, don't you think?).  If Durwood's in charge, it's usually off--and it's about 80 in here.  "Comfortable," he says.  "Freakin' hot," I say.  Guess who wins?  Me, that's who, at least when I'm home.  He can bundle up, I hate being hot. Hate it.  Oh, mama, you should have been here for supper last night.  Monday's Taste of Home recipe of the day was Irresistible Grilled Shrimp with Fruit Salsa.  I printed it off, showed it to Durwood, pleaded my case, (Durwood's a shrimp purist, he likes to taste the flavor of the shrimp instead of the spices or sauce) and we made it.  We had a pound of peeled and deveined shrimp in the freezer that we thawed out, marinated it according to the directions, and I whipped up the fruit salsa (with red pepper flakes in my half, without for Durwood).  I even remembered to thread the shrimp on 2 skewers so they were easier to turn, and they took about 5 minutes on the grill.  Easy peasy.  I thought we'd make 2 meals out of it and only served half of the shrimp at first but Durwood said, "I think shrimp would be difficult to reheat, we should eat it all."  So we did.  He made steamed parsnips and kohlrabi to go with the shrimp and they were just about right.  I liked the peppery heat and cool fruitiness of the salsa with the shrimp that's seasoned with cumin and coriander (Durwood wants to leave the spices out next time.  I can deal).  Mmm, delish.  We'll do that again.  And we'll try the fruit salsa with grilled or bbq-ed pork (Durwood's idea.), we have some left, plus it was a snap to make.  It was yummy.

June 27-- Afghanistan or Iran, Figure.  The statues in this gallery looked like they had leprosy.  "Somebody ought to take a scrub brush dipped in a little bleach to them," someone in the group said.  Angela tried to keep from rolling her eyes.  It would do no good to explain that bleach would ruin the old stone and leach out any remnants of the original paint.  She shuddered to think how many artifacts had been ruined by a meeting with an enthusiastically weilded brush.  She picked up her pace and began hurrying the group of senior citizens toward the end of the tour.  She had work to do.

I have work to do to, and I have to eat, shower, dress, and drive to get there before 10 AM so I'd better skedaddle.  Hasta la vista, babies.  Mwa.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

It Was A Making Day

I made stuff today, lots of stuff, and I'm going to show it all to you right now.  This morning after my walk I whipped up a batch of hummus.  Pesto hummus.  I found a recipe but I liked mine better so I just added a half cup of basil (from my garden), some balsamic vinegar, and some soy sauce.  Yum.  Pretty too.

For supper tonight I made, well, we made grilled shrimp with fruit salsa.  Oh. My.  The fruit salsa has red pepper flakes in it (well, my half of it does anyway) along with apple, orange, lime juice, green onions and mint leaves.  The recipe says it serves 8... yeah, well tonight it served 2.  And did it damned well.  We had parsnips and kohlrabi too.  *burp*


In sewing news, I finished making the bag I cut out and started sewing on Sunday.  It's big--17 X 13 X 8 inches.  Big.  And I only had to go buy 3/4 yd. of the stiffener stuff, otherwise I used all stash stuff.  Yay, me!

I've been knitting along on Bandwagon Block #8.  I was hoping to get more of it knitted at the movie Sunday night but it was pretty much impossible to knit while watching (and singing along and bopping to the beat) The Blues Brothers.  (Did I tell you I went to watch The Blues Brothers  with friends last weekend?  It was so much fun, I wanna do it again soon.  Maybe a different movie...)

It's week #26 of the Maple Tree scarf project.  It's getting long.  It's going to be warm.  Time to change greens again.

Chilling In The Pool

Not me, silly, we don't have a pool anymore, but after our walk this morning Porter needed to cool off.  Badly needed it.  You'd need it too if you'd just walked a couple miles wearing a black fur coat.  DS & DIL1 bought her one of those molded kiddie pools and pun an inch or so of water in it.  When we got back she raced around the yard for a few laps and played a little fetch, the third time instead of bringing the ball back to me (my vicinity, anyway) she plopped into her pool to take a little drink and bat the ball around.  Too much fun for one dog.  The only thing more fun would be if they hadn't fenced off what they call her "fort," a small shrubbery area alongside the sun room where she's dug a dirt wallow.  DIL1 said she'd taken to getting wet in her pool and then plopping down in the dirt to make one muddy dog so they fenced it off.  Meanies.  Today's Photo A Day theme is "where you shop."  I don't shop.  I've never been much of a shopper, not someone who could make a day of it.  I used to grocery shop mainly, and now that Durwood's taken over the meal planning etc. I rarely even do that.  With my yarn and fabric diet still going strong I only buy items to complete projects--really.  (On Sunday I bought 3/4 yd. of fusible interfacing for a bag I'm making, what I had wasn't right.  Spent $2.35.)  So I don't feel right taking a picture of a store since I don't shop.  That meant the only places I "shop" is in the stashes, so I went downstairs and took a picture of my overloaded fabric armoire and then the shelf unit crammed with bins and bags of yarn.  That's where I shop lately and I'm enjoying it.  My "Nova Scotia bus trip" savings is growing nicely since I curtailed all that hobby-shopping and I don't feel deprived one bit.  I took my knitting outside to take its picture after my walk, watered all the potted plants, and was on my way into the house when I saw two monarch butterflies wrestling on the patio.  I got closer and... oh I see, not wrestling, but "wrestling."  I was crass and took their picture.  Thought you'd enjoy it, they seemed to.  One flew right to the birdbath for a drink and the other flew a couple loop-de-loops around the lantana before flapping away.  It's the circle of life, peoples, the circle of life.

June 26--Louis Comfort Tiffany, Magnolias and Irises.  Lissa tucked her pad under her arm and carried her pail of colored pencils down the stairs.  She was supposed to be in her room amusing herself but it was a sunny day and she knew that meant that the sun would be shining through the flower window.  Mama was at her committee meeting.  Papa was in his office.  Tally and Marcus had gone outside on one of their expeditions to collect bugs.  Tally and Marcus called Lissa "the house plant" because she'd rather stay indoors with her art supplies than go tramping through the fields.  Lissa slipped through the door into the parlor.  She smiled to see the flower window glowing in the bright sunlight.  She lay down in the pool of light, opening her drawing pad to a clean page.  She planned to draw the window when she noticed the pools of colored light on her white paper.  Sorting through her colored pencils she began shading the colors on the page, not the outlines of the stained glass panel, just the soft shapes cast by the sun.  She liked it.  She thought it looked like the water lily panels painted by Monet.

And now I'm going to see if I can't find a recipe for pesto hummus.  I want to make hummus with basil in it, not necessarily with pine nuts or nuts of any kind, but I want to approximate the pesto-y goodness without all the oil and fat.  Maybe I'll just wing it.  I'll let you know how it goes.

Monday, June 25, 2012

"We're On A Mission From Gaaaad."

(That's the only way I could think of to duplicate Ellwood Blues' flat Illinois accent.)  I had forgotten how much fun The Blues Brothers movie is, and how many fantabulous songs and artists & actors are in it, like John Lee Hooker, Frank Oz, Paul Reubens (Peewee Hermans), Cab Calloway, Carrie Fisher, Stephen Spielberg (!), Ray Charles, and Aretha, can't forget Aretha.  We all laughed and sang along out there on that chilly, breezy patio.  They show the movies out on what was originally the train station platform that now has a wrought iron railing between it and the tracks, and shrubbery on one side, but trains still pass, two did last night, one during the scene in Ellwood's flophouse room where the ell trains pass almost constantly.  Felt a bit claustrophobic, that.  I met Cookie, Z-Dawg (no, Mr. Z-Dawg though, boo), DS & DIL1 there and we had a rollicking good time on the cheap.  I spent a bunch of yesterday afternoon downstairs sewing on a new bag from a pattern I got at the quilt show we went to last winter.  I only had to go buy one item, the fusible interfacing for the purse body (which was only $3 with my coupon), otherwise I used all stash items.  Yay, me!  I'm determined to sew and knit from stash as much as I can until I can see signs that there's less down in the studio.  I mean I want to see bins with space and shelves that I can see wood on.  That's going to take a while, but I figure I must have liked the stuff to buy it, right?  So it's only logical that I want to sew and knit it up.  Makes perfect sense.  Today's Photo A Day June theme is "something cute."  Man, that was a hard one.  I'm not much into cute, but I managed.  I found a couple of little cream pitchers at Goodwill over the last year or so that I bought (for a buck each) to put pens, scissors, etc. in on the coffee table so it's not such a scattered mess.  One's a sheep in honor of my knitting habit and the other's a chicken in honor of our grand-chickens, Henny and Penny, who have the sniffles DIL1 says.  Chickens can sneeze?  I never imagined that, but it must be true if DIL1 says it is.  She knows stuff, lots of stuff.  She's putting cider vinegar in their water; that's supposed to be good for chickens with the sniffles.  I'll report as I know more.  Sneezing chickens--what next?

June 25--Mexico, Olmec, Baby Figure.  Lane sat in the pool of light with all the pieces scattered on the table and a pot of glue at her elbow.  Dr. Newman had asked her to fit the pieces together if she could.  From the look of the parts it was some kind of figure since she had a foot and both tiny hands.  On into the night she worked fitting bits this way and that until nearly dawn when she placed the last piece.  It was a baby sucking its finger and sitting with its legs spread so that the figure would balance upright.  The baby wore a fancy helmet.  Was it ceremonial?  Decorative?  Commemorative?  She wanted to come up with a logical and reasonable theory to impress Dr. Newman or at least hold his attention for more than a minute.  Maybe then he'd remember her name and stop calling her Jane.

Ah, professor-worship.  I had a touch of that in college myself.  When I look back on those days all of them were supremely self-absorbed and geeky.  I thought they were deep and interesting, but then I was pretty geeky and easily impressed myself.  Good thing I never acted on those feelings... actually the crowds of adoring girls around them were pretty deep, I never penetrated the inner circles... and it's just as well.  I met my beloved Durwood when I was in college.  No, he wasn't a student or a professor, his friend, Jack, ran the theater shop and asked Durwood to come help crew for a traveling show when he couldn't find enough students to hire.  I'm not telling you the whole story today, suffice to say we had our first real date 20 days after we met and the rest is history.

Sunday, June 24, 2012


See? Not only underpants.
Friday night Mardi was back at Friday Night Knitting so we had yoga again.  I love Friday Night Yoga.  It's the best five bucks I spend all week.  Lately we've been doing what Mardi calls "yin yoga" (I'm sure she's not the only one who calls it that) which is more about stretching and holding poses since one of our regulars has fybromialga so the stretching's better for her than more active practice.  And it's just as effective for the rest of us too.  Last Friday that person was at her daughter's wedding (understandable) so we had a more active practice.  I felt great.  I was able to lower myself to the mat from plank instead of dropping and flopping, so I did it a bunch of times.  (actually Mardi made me, made us, she's a slave driver, that Mardi)  Along about noon yesterday various muscles that have been quiet for years woke up and gave notice and more muscles chimed in throughout the day.  Every time I moved I'd find a new place that I hadn't been aware of before.  Ow.  But a good ow.  I like it when my body can do things that it couldn't before.  I love that I'm more bendy than before.  I love how yoga makes the end of my week feel and how it sends me into the weekend and the work week in a relaxed frame of mind.  All that for the low, low price of only five bucks.  Totally worth it.  Totally.  Today's Photo A Day theme ,"on your mind," got me thinking about what is on my mind.  At first I thought nothing was on my mind, well, nothing noteworthy, then I realized that my sore muscles from Friday's yoga practice were bringing to a head my self-dissatisfaction regarding my eating and working out.  Let's be honest, I've been slacking.  Badly.  And I have been trying to figure out how to wrench myself back onto (or at least in the vicinity of) the straight and narrow.  Early this morning it occurred to me that I was most successful when I tracked what I was eating and how I was working out on a piece of paper stuck to the cupboard door.  Granted I was following an old Weight Watchers Quick Start plan which is much more restrictive food-wise, but I think a tangible, out in plain sight tracking might help me stick to my guns a bit better even following the more relaxed Points Plus plan.  It's pretty darned easy to delude myself that I'm not going over my points when I don't go online and track them.  I can't imagine that I'm any better at keeping track of the points in my head when I complain all the time that my brain's turned from Velcro to Teflon in the last 15 years or so.  So, I made a little assembly of our WW Points cookbooks, the points book, the points calculator, a tracking form that Durwood made (which I think I want revamped so I have to write in what I eat and put in a line for daily workouts), and the Wii Fit Plus program which lets me workout in the living room in my underpants (sorry, don't poke your mental eyes out with a stick, I wear more than that, really), and that's what I took a picture of.  Food is what is on my mind and how to manage it to my best advantage so I took a picture of the tools I need to get back to being the boss of what I eat instead of the other way around.  I'm a 60-year-old woman, I need to be in charge, not sway in the wind of my base desires.  So there.  Now that I've committed to all that confident change and resolve to get back to "the straight and narrow" and put it on here where you're all witnesses, I have to confess that tonight is Suds & Cinema (The Blues Brothers  "We're on a mission from God.") down at Titletown Brewing where DS makes the beer (and root beer too).  I'm meeting Z-Dawg and Cookie there and will order a frosty root beer and some sweet potato fries (that clunk you hear is me falling off the wagon) but I'll be clambering right back on come Monday morning, which is weigh-in day and the actual start of my food plan & workout week.  I'm giving myself today to drag my inner 9-year-old kicking and screaming back into her cage so that the 60-year-old can be the boss again--for a while.

June 24--Mexico, Olmec, Baby Figure.  Julian left before the sun was fully risen.  He took his briefcase and managed to drive away without waking her.  Carol jerked awake, her left arm flung out reaching for him.  His pillow was cold.  What time was it?  She squinted at the blue LCD numerals on her alarm clock.  Seven-fifteen.  When had he left?  She vaguely remembered screaming at him about one of his partners.  Oh, she had drunk way too much wine last night.  What was it about Andrew Larsen that had made her so angry?  She tottered into the bathroom for some aspirin.  Good old aspirin washed down with a gallon of water can cure anything.  Well it was a start, anyway.

Haven't got a clue where that came from or where it's going.  I'm going to wake up Durwood and make some caprese salads for us for lunch.  You're jealous, aren't you?  Deal.

Saturday, June 23, 2012


I couldn't stand sitting still outside yesterday for a whole hour.  I maybe made it half an hour.  Maybe an hour was too much to hope for on my first outing.  I did 3 crossword puzzles in that time and still couldn't ignore the basket of clippings that needed emptying or the weeding and trimming that should be done along the west lot line.  *sigh*  I'll try it later for a shorter time.  I'll take my lunch out there again and then just sit.  Maybe I'll take the camera and see if I can't capture the hummingbird at the feeder.  Maybe having a task to sit still for will help.  We had yoga at knitting last night again.  Hallelujah!  It was so good to be back on the mat after a 2 week break.  I'm more bendy and more able to do things more correctly, even just yog-ing once a week, plus it makes me feel so good.  Ahhh.  We got up this morning and zoomed off to the Farmer's Market.  I took my camera to capture today's Photo A Day which is "movement."  Durwood needed tomatoes and wanted an egg roll.  I got crab rangoons--Breakfast of Champions!--then we toodled around downtown looking at what's torn down (the mall) and what's changed (nearly everything), drove down Main St. to show him where the Ten-O-One Supper Club is (a been-there-forever tavern with intriguing ads for specials in the paper.  See in NE Wisconsin old-timey taverns have dining rooms where they serve a plate supper like broasted chicken or prime rib or fish fry) and then into the wilds of the mill district to scope out the Mill Town Cafe for future dining possibilities (it's a real hole in the wall place that looks like it thrives on regulars and mill workers).  We stopped at Aldi on the way home to pick up some fresh mozzarella to have with our tomato salads with supper, and now Durwood's having his morning nap.  He's a champion napper, just like his dad.  He's addicted to toast like his dad was too.  Toast is important.  At least around here.

June 23--John Marin, Brooklyn Bridge.  On rainy days crossing that bridge looks like you're walking into another reality.  Big drops plunge down like bombs and the soggy pedestrians look like the condemned plodding to their fate.  The rain raised a film of oil that makes the mesh walkway slick underfoot and the river far below is a sullen gray.  The raindrop pock marks make the river look diseased.  No one can imagine a friendly sunny day coming again.  It will always be gray, always be wet, always be slick.  A dreary day on the Brooklyn Bridge is a life sentence.

Are you planning to do something fun today?  I wish I was.  (pathetic enough for you?)

Friday, June 22, 2012

I Finished Something!

It's been a long time since I finished a knitting project and this week I finally managed it.  It was the work of only one afternoon at the dive shop to knit the four rows of garter stitch that finish the Wingspan Redux shawlette/scarf.  I like it.  It's longer than I thought it was (well, duh, it was all crammed on a 40" circ) and I'm glad I added about 4 more triangles.  Next time I'm using bigger needles, the Angel variation pattern (it's holier), and casting on more stitches.

Last night I unearthed the Bandwagon Afghan blocks and cast on block #8 (of 12).  I figure that since I seem to be on a garter stitch jag, I might as well take up a WIP that I have a fighting chance of finishing in the foreseeable future (I have 7 blocks already done, see?).  Maybe even before summer ends.  I like making the miters and I like the way the colors contrast. 


I realized this morning that I don't have anything that I have to do today, no chores, no pressing projects that I have to get a move on, nothing, and I really feel adrift.  That's crazy--and a bit sad.  Never fear, I'll fill the day with all sorts of stuff once I get over this feeling of standing at the edge of an abyss.  I have to go pick up an Rx (aha! a chore!) and get some lunchmeat; then I can eat out on the patio (now that the suffocating heat and humidity have moved off to the east).  I could knit out there once I raise the umbrella too.  It'd be hard to sew out there.  I'd have to drag a sewing machine upstairs, the iron and board too, and figure out someplace to cut... too much work.  Remember the days when we just lay out in the sun?  Could you do that today?  Just lie on a quilt or in a chair in the beating down sun, smeared with a combo of baby oil and iodine (were we suicidal? no, just ignorant), sipping iced tea or lemonade or Cokes, maybe flipping through a magazine, all afternoon.  I couldn't.  I'd be so antsy and bored (bored with a capital B), I couldn't stand it.  Even if I had a riveting book on my iPod that I had screwed into my ears to listen to (I love having someone read me a story while I do something else) I don't think I could just sit there and roast myself, not only because it's so very bad for you (skin cancer, anyone?), but because I need to be DOING something, making some headway, exercising my brain with a puzzle or a project.  Hmm, maybe if I had a crossword puzzle book... I think I'll try that later, sit out there (not in the direct sun) with a big glass of ice water (my favorite beverage) and do crosswords.  Just that.  No multitasking, no audiobook (but maybe music, music would be okay, don't you think?), just a single amusement in a hospitable spot.  I wonder how long I can sit still?  Then I could get my bike down, pump up the tires, and go ride on the trail tomorrow.  That'd be good.  Just a little ride to oil up my knees.  Or I could do that on Sunday since my dive buddies are out of town this weekend.  I'll figure it out.  One day and one challenge at a time.  Today, I sit still... for how long?  An hour, you think?  Yeah, I'll shoot for that as a minimum.  For today's Photo A Day theme, which is "from a high angle," I went out into the back yard (you understand that I usually do this picture taking at around 7 A.M. so I'm not away from home, especially since I also usually am only wearing a tank top and underpants... that may be TMI, sorry) and stood over things, making a picture looking straight down.  I figured out fairly quickly that I needed to point my toes to the sides so I didn't have the tips of my fugly green Crocs in the shots, but I like the pictures.  It's an angle I don't usually see things at, being vertically challenged, and it changed things.  Try it sometime.
June 22--North German, Aquamanile in the Form of a Dragon.  "And the golden dragon swooped down with Joe in his mouth," the boy said.  Ten-year old Mark knelt on the rug and swung the brass pitcher in a low arc.  He had been stuck at Aunt Susannah's for more than a week with no other kids to play with and no real toys.  All Aunt Susannah had was a room on the third floor full of old books and dusty toys.  None of the toys needed batteries, they just sat on the shelves and didn't move unless he moved them.  He'd poke at a truck or a stuffed bear but nothing did anything.  For the first couple days he sat pouting and didn't play.  It rained all afternoon on the third day and the flickering light through the rain-washed window panes made it look like the toys were moving.  That give him an idea.  He got down cars and trucks, stuffed animals and toy people and made his own town.  It took him a while to get the hang of making things move, making the people talk, and doing all the sound effects but soon he was immersed in a reality of his own making.  After that day his reality spread all over the house, into every room and even indirectly involved Aunt Susannah, Joseph the houseman, Clarice the cook, and any furnishings that struck his fancy, like the brass dragon pitcher in his hand.  It was a fine pretense that engrossed Mark and that the adults ignored but they enjoyed it just the same.

I have to say that I worry about kids losing the ability to pretend with all of the amusements these days that essentially play for them, that all they have to do is be a spectator.  Who's going to innovate?  Who's going to imagine what could be and then tinker?  Okay, once I put the photo (photos, photos--I don't seem to stop at just one per post, do I?) on here, I'm going to go out and try not doing anything.  Wish me luck.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Yawn... Sorry, It's That Kind Of Day

Oh, that's funny... I've yawned twice, maybe three times now that I've typed the word.  (Darned things sure are contagious.)  I went outside to water the plants early yesterday and a few blueberries were ripe and ready for picking.  Yay!  I plonked them into my Cheerios; they were yummy.  More to come.  I want to remember to put some more acid enhancing fertilizer on them this weekend.  This year seems like a growth year for them so I want them to be happy out there.  Even though my friend Cookie decided not to go, I went to the City Band concert last night anyway.  It was a mistake.  I left early with a raging heat-headache that sent me to the freezer to find a frozen fruit pop to try to cool off once I got home.  Even being in the air conditioning again didn't take it away totally.  Aleve only helped a bit.  I finally went to bed and slept it away.  (Smart girl, that Cookie.)  The reason I went was that I heard on the news yesterday AM that they were playing Cole Porter songs.  I love Cole Porter songs, I like to sing along.  I thought that meant it would be a program of Cole Porter songs, it wasn't.  It was a replay of the 50th anniversary concert in 1952 that included a Cole Porter medley.  Once that was over I picked up my knitting (who knits wool when it's 90 degrees? me, evidently, but I wasn't the only knitter I could see, there were at least 2 others there.) and came home to try and get cool.  It was an uphill battle; even Durwood had his shirt off and he's always chilly.  Today's Photo A Day theme is "where you slept."  I never thought I'd take a picture of an unmade bed, but here it is.  It's nowhere near my fave photo of the month, not even close.  Maybe last night's heat melted part of my brain but I couldn't even think of a clever way or angle from which to make the photo.  I just stood in the doorway and snapped.  Maybe because a made bed is one of my ways of feeling that the house is tidy.  That and a cleaned off counter in the kitchen; if those two things are done I feel like the house isn't a pit.  It was so hot yesterday that the air conditioner ran the whole day at work and I couldn't wear the overshirt I brought to wear over my tank top.  Usually the a/c makes me chilly when I just sit there, yesterday it didn't.  Did. Not.  Today it's supposed to only hit about 80 and the humidity is dropping, thank god.  It was too hot and muggy to even think.  I feel like I should just lie down for a few days to recover.  Maybe with a cool cloth on my forehead...

June 21--Edouard Manet, The 'Kearsarge' at Boulogne.  That day the water was a blue green color that made it look like it came straight from a glacier.  Ed and Manny raised the walnut brown sails and felt the wind fill them and smooth out the ride.  Now that they rode on the back of the wind, the sea lay down before them, or at least it felt like it.  They had spent most of the season sailing in their roomy bay but now it was time to steer Time Waste out into the lake.  The Great Lakes were like an inland sea that lapped at the shore less than five miles from their homes which allowed them the illusion that the wide world lay at their doorsteps.  All they had to do was sail out to meet it.

No good is going to come of that feeling, I can just tell.  You have a good day, and stay cool.  I feel a "right hand temple clamp" coming on.  Time for another Aleve.  (that stuff is magic)

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


It's the longest day of the year, well, the longest daylight day of the year.  That means that today the long downward slide toward the winter solstice starts.  You know, that's not bad if you think about it; there's the long lead-up to today and the long decline to the shortest day, but we only spend one day of 365 (or 366 since it's Leap year) longest or shortest.  I need to not focus on what's way down the calendar, to enjoy today.  And I plan on it.  It's going to be another hot and muggy one, but I get to go to work so I don't have to sit out in it until time for the City Band concert.  It'll be a scorcher but tonight they're playing Cole Porter songs and I love them so I'm going.  I'll take an extra cold bottle of water.  Maybe I'll slip one into the freezer at work when I get there and take it along tonight.  And I plan to wear a tank top under a shirt with sleeves for working in the air-conditioning so I can take it off at the park.  Good plan, don't you think?  Today's Photo A Day theme is "fave photo you've taken" and I knew just which one to choose.  I took it while diving at Playa Chachacha in Bonaire, on a dive when I took over 100 photos in a hour, 111 as a matter of fact.  I wish I was right there right now swimming in the cool, clear, salty water trying to capture another fave photo instead of in the corner of the bedroom typing away on my laptop.  I sewed the second June quilt block yesterday afternoon so now I'm caught up, but that also means that I don't have a quilt block to sew until the first of July.  Hmm, now what can I make?  Made DIL1's birthday purse, sewed & delivered DD's prayer flags, made a fish shirt for Durwood for Father's Day, sewed seven (7!!!) quilt blocks.  Check, check, check, and check.  Guess I'll just troll through my books and patterns to see what strikes me.  Any suggestions?

June 20--Amish Maker, Quilt, Sunshine & Shadow Pattern.  The scrap of fabric gave away her hiding place.  She had bolted from the house when his car turned into the drive off the county two-lane.  She flew down through the orchard, her feet barely touching the dried grass, and she wriggled into the gap between the brooder house and the shed.  While he was gone she'd stashed a few things-bottles of water, raisins, crackers, some beef jerky in an old Postum instant coffee jar, and a scrap of a quilt that had seen better days.

Now, that's better, and it would have been more and better if I hadn't fallen dead asleep almost as soon as I got going.  Going to bed before 10 o'clock seems like a punishment, like a kid thing, so I resist, but then I conk right out.  Yet another thing in my brain I need to change...

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

June Quilt Blocks & DIL1's Birthday Purse

Okay, this is the last "catch up" post of stealth sewing, but first I want to show you the June BOM Quilt Blocks.  I made one on Sunday and one this afternoon.  I like them both, but I thought long and hard about redoing the first one.  I noticed that when I cut out the pieces for the center cross I should have "fussy cut" them so more of the birds printed on the fabric have their heads attached.  (Fussy cut means to arrange the pattern pieces or the quilting ruler so that the design that you want is where you want it on the block.)  The main reason that I didn't redo it is that I like the fabric, only have a fat quarter, and don't want to waste what's left.

Last Christmas DS & DIL1 gave me a book I had on my list.  Once I'd opened it the gift and thanked them, DIL1 picked it up, opened it to a particular pattern and pointed at it saying emphatically, "June 7th!  June 7th!"  The book is a collection of zakka pattern.  Zakka is a Japanese way of making utilitarian items more attractive.  What DIL1 wanted was a messenger bag-type purse similar to one she'd nearly worn out.  Over the year I kept my eyes peeled for linen on sale, buying a yard here, a yard there, and a lining fabric I thought looked right for her.  It was easy to cut out and assemble and I couldn't wait until I could give it to her.  She loved it.  I was relieved and proud.  She let me know that she'll be glad to give a home to anything else I'd like to make out of that book.  Great girl, that one.

Imperfect X 2 = Perfect

At least that's the accepted math around here.  "Imperfect" is the Photo A Day theme today.  First I took pictures of the stargazer lilies that just opened because part of the bud turned brown so there are brown places on the petals; they're still beautiful and smell great but they're not perfect.  Then I took a picture of the Dad's rose that's blooming because Dad was far from perfect but I loved him anyway.  But then I realized that Durwood and I are imperfect people, but together we make one perfect couple.  Well, we think we're perfect, no other votes count.  So I asked him to stop crossword puzzling for a minute so we could take our picture.  He reached up to smooth his hair, I explained about today's theme, and he frowned.  I hurried to explain that I meant that he and I are imperfect separately, but when we're together we're perfect.  That was okay then and he agreed, both to the "imperfect X 2 = perfect" idea and to push the button to take our photo.  It wasn't busy at work yesterday so I web surfed and knit and read a free novel on the Kindle.  The blurb and the reviews sounded better than the writing turns out to be, but while it's not Cannery Row or even The Hunger Games, it is marginally engaging and it was free.  Beggars can't be choosers.  We did have a few rainy times throughout the day and into the evening, though, which while it makes it feel even hotter and more humid, makes me happy because it has been so dry.  So dry that the lawn was a uniform tan color.  I took my 10 finished quilt blocks out in the backyard to take their picture all together on Sunday and I was amazed looking at the pictures how really not-green it was.  Overnight a miracle happened and it's green again.  The funny thing is... our next-door neighbors watered their lawn religiously every night for nearly a week and their grass stayed determinedly brown, it rained over the last 24 hours and it's green.  So, rain is not equal to hose water, evidently.  (hot flash.  I thought those were over.  oh well.)

June 19--Edgar Degas, Portraits at the Stock Exchange.  They look so very French in their frock coats, top hats, and pince nez glasses on a ribbon.  Even their beards and mustaches identify their nationality.  It's like a team shirt they wear.  You couldn't possibly think they were anything but French.  They're sharp in their dealings too, those stock exchange men.  Even French women have heads for business.  You might be tempted to wonder how Degas could shift from ballerinas to these stock brokers but they aren't so different from each other.  Both are driven to work hard to reach their goal.  Both evidently worth the price of paint to depict.

Okay, I think I'm getting progressively suckier at the prompt writing portion of these posts.  I'm not going to quit doing it but it's hard not to when my instinct is to stand in front of them shielding them from public view.  I blame the art.  I'm off to meet Skully for coffee at Panera Bread because it's too hot and humid to walk.  So there.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Prayer Flags for DD

Have you ever seen photos of the camps on the approaches to Mt. Everest that show the strings of flags all faded and tattered? Did you ever wonder what they mean? The premise of prayer flags is that you make them with intent, putting wishes and sentiments into them, and then they're hung outdoors for the elements to decay thereby releasing the wishes into the world. They are made in sets of 5 and the colors are always in the same order. My daughter has had a hard year with a lot of loss of all sorts, so when I saw an article in Cloth Paper Scissors magazine about making prayer flags I knew what to do. I dug out some plain fabric and began amassing scraps of different colored cottons, then got to work.

The first color is blue. According to Buddhists, blue stands for Space. I made a hug to give her the "Comfort" of the space encircled by my arms.

Next is white. White is for Air, so I made a puffy ruffly cloud of a scrap of eyelet ruffle and I tacked a small tassel with tiny bells on the ends in the center. In the upper left I embroidered "Breathe" to remind her that a deep breath will often clear away anxiety and give you space to think.

In the center is red, red for Fire. I layered flame colored fabrics, tucking a bit of batting under it for dimension, then I machine embroidered a key design around the edge and "Courage" to remind her of her innate fire and the courage I know she has.

Green is for Water. Since we're a SCUBA diving family, we spent a lot of wonderful family time in the water so I layered green print on green print (all of them purchased at the fabric store where she works so she will recognize them), machine embroidered a wave motif over them in pale blue and tacked on 3 little fish appliques. The word "Freedom" is for the feeling that being weightless in the water gives us.

Last is yellow for Earth. I'm a real map lover so I dug out some map fabric, "fussy cut" out North America, and embroidered "Roots" to remind her that we're always here for her.

Then I dug through the boxes of bias binding I have from Mom (one of those losses), stitched it closed, and tacked the flags onto it so she can hang it outside her house and have a piece of Grandma too.

Sorry this is so long-winded but it was practice for the letter I included in the package. This was a very satisfying project to do and if you're ever moved to make some for yourself contact me and I'll pass on the particulars.
P.S.  She got them Saturday and called to say that she loved them, and that they arrived at just the right time.  Now I can publish this post that's been waiting in the wings for almost 2 weeks.