Tuesday, July 31, 2012

I Think My Brain's Turned Off...

... or it's intermittent because I couldn't think of darned thing to write last night and the art was good.  It was a late 1800s painting of Joan of Arc in a garden having her original vision of herself as the French salvation.  I think she'd gotten some jimson weed in her cafe au lait or something, but I couldn't think of that last night, could I?  No, I couldn't.  It might have been because I stayed up until midnight for no apparent reason so I was dead on my feet and my words were snoring and not to be disturbed.  I think Durwood's right and I NEED TO GET AWAY.  Sorry for the hollering but I'm that desperate to shuck this everyday crapola and explore the "out there" with my husband/chef/driver for a couple weeks.  I've been fine tuning my thoughts about what I want to see on our Western Adventure lately.  I want to see sky and clouds stretching from horizon to horizon, big stuff, not this measly Midwestern stuff.  I want to see mountains, even in the distance would do, but I suspect that we'll see at least little ones close up and personal.  I want to see random buffalo (I totally like the name "buffalo" better than "bison" although I suspect that "bison" is more correct... I'll look it up) and maybe an elk, if one's available.  I want to see a geyser or two and some bubbling mud pots.  But mostly I want to see "away," want to sit outside in the night and look at stars, want to look at rocks and plains and flowers that don't grow here, want to see meadows with grazing ruminants that aren't dairy cows.  That's not asking too much, is it?  You'd  tell me if it was, wouldn't you?  Wouldn't you?  I know you would.  Yesterday I lent DS my car so that he could use it to come to the dive shop to teach a student and go to the pool with her.  DIL1 has to work the evening shift this week (the Norbertines are having their every-6-years conference (it's called a chapter) where she works--priests gone wild!--just kidding, not really) so she had their (one) car when he needed it.  His bike won't do for carrying scuba gear and tanks.  Nope, won't do.  Durwood took me to work and picked me up, and then DS came to get me after his student and I took him home.  I had to go in to see Porter for a few minutes (she likes me best, no, really) and on the way back there was a break in the storms and the moon poked out of the fast-moving clouds.  I pulled into the bank parking lot across the street from the park (only a block from home) to take some pictures of the moon, clouds, lightning, and trees.  I did okay; I need to learn how to take "dark" pictures with my digital camera but this last one's not bad.  Today's Photo a Day theme is "toothbrush."  Toothbrush?!?  Really???  So I pulled out my ditty bag and dug out my travel toothbrush because I need to start thinking about filling it up and what I'm going to pack and if Durwood really needs to buy a toaster for eight bucks at Walmart in case our frontier cabin in Yellowstone doesn't have one or there's a toast shortage out west or something (really, this is a concern).  BTW, tomorrow is August 1 so if you're thinking of playing Photo a Day here's where you go for the list.  You should play along; it's fun and makes you look at your world every day, really look at it, for at least as long as it takes you to find something to take a picture of, and that's probably a lot longer than you, or I, usually pay attention to things in this hurry-up world we live in.  Off to the bank and birdseed store!

Monday, July 30, 2012

I Didn't Sew After All...

...I just knit and snacked the afternoon away.  Thank goodness for Durwood.  When I was making up the last batch of 100 calorie snack packs for us to taste test he suggested that I weigh each ingredient individually, in ounces or grams whichever worked better being divided by 7 (because that's how many packs the recipes say they make--one per day perhaps?), and then make them up by weight so there'd be some of each in each pack.  He's so smart; I think I'll keep him.  About the snack packs, I found them online, some from Women's Health and some from Weight Watchers; they're way cheaper DIY than store-bought and I can control what's in them, plus making them keeps me occupied for a while, plus I'd rather make stuff than buy stuff.  I find that I like the crunchy and salty ones more than the sweet ones.  Go figure.  I feel an addiction to Cheez-Its reduced fat crackers coming on, but pretzels are running a close second.  It's kind of a pain to count them out--20, 21, 22--but I'm willing and I've got a crapton of ziplock snack bags from Mom's stuff.  Hmm, I should go to the dollar store to see if they have snack bags with those sliders, those are faster and easier to close, plus dollar store = cheaper than Ziplock or Glad.  Yesterday I made honey crunch snacks with ersatz honey nut Cheerios (the Aldi brand), broken pretzel sticks (also Aldi brand), and sliced almonds; chocolate Chex with dried cherries; pretzel sticks; Cheez-Its; almonds; and pistachios.  Do you know that you get more pistachios than almonds for 100 calories?  You do.  I was amazed too until I realized that almonds are about twice the size of pistachios.  *head, palm*  Anyway, today's Photo a Day theme is "calm" so I took a picture of the anklet sock cuff and heel I knit yesterday and a selection of snack packs because knitting and snacking made me calm yesterday.  I sat on the sofa watching the Olympics, knitting, and snacking--who says I'm not calm?  Hmm?  Turns out I really did get stung.  My arm ached like I'd gotten a shot, still does a bit, and I've got a swelling the size of a jumbo olive on my palm.  See?  But I'm not allergic so no worries.  It doesn't even hurt at the site, there're just twinges up my arm every once in a while.  Venom, gotta love it.

July 30--England, Quilt.  The stars made crazy quilt patterns in the blue black sky.  Not one cloud marred the perfection of the night.  Jane lay on her back on the quilt that she'd carried into the meadow.  She was willing to risk mosquitoes and chiggers for the time under the infinite night.  Far in the distance a coyote yipped its hunting cray and an old wooden screen door slammed in one of the lake road cabins.  This time of year when the earth teetered between summer and autumn Jane was the happiest.  It was warm during the day but it cooled off enough at night that she was glad to have the quilt on her bed.  The quilt still smelled of Sam.  Some of the pieces were scraps from shirts she'd made for him.  She felt his arms around her, felt his comforting presence when she pulled it over herself night or day.

Now it's time to go shower and dress for another exciting (or dead boring) day at the dive shop.  I've got 2 knitting projects packed and waiting by the door, my Kindle is charged up and holding beaucoup books (most of them free--I'm blown away by all the free books for Kindle, all kinds of books, you should check them out, you can get a Kindle app for your laptop or desktop or iPad or Android, you know, and then get the free books to read on there, did I mention FREE?) and 6 Audible books (they're 2 freebies for signing up and 4 "gifts to our members," I'll be cancelling my membership soon before they charge me $14.95 for one credit/book), and my iPod Touch is charged up too with 3 or 4 library books (free!) downloaded and ready to amuse me so I won't be unamused.  There's always the 'net too if I'm so inclined.  Web surfing, woohoo!  Hasta la vista, babies.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Ow, That Stung

I was opening the garden shed this morning to look at another birdfeeder when I felt a bite/sting on the fleshy part of my thumb.  It was a hornet, one from this good-sized nest just inside the shed where the doors meet.  Durwood gave me some ice to put on it right away and I got the Raid and took care of the little bastards.  I love the Raid that lets you stand far back and shoot deadly foam at them.  I sprayed them--a lot.  They're dead here.  D.E.A.D.  There was one confused one flying around when I took this picture but it made a couple passes and zoomed away.  That's right, you fly away, we kill your kind here.  K.I.L.L.  And we're happy about it.  Either I'm whatever the opposite of allergic is or it was just a warning sting but it's just a bit red, not swollen, and not very painful.  Whew.  It was so quiet at work yesterday that I finished another preemie hat and still had time left to take up the afghan block that I've been ignoring during my preemie hat jag.  Mrs. Boss was there from about 1 PM on, doing tank service, rinsing students' gear (they stayed in Door County), and mowing the lawn.  Mr. Boss worked at the nuclear plant until 3 PM and he was her ride home.  It felt odd because she was paying me to be there but she was the one with things to do.  I didn't have customers, I just knit.  *shrugs*  Today's Photo a Day theme is "the last thing you bought."  I'm trying not to buy things so it was a stumper until I remembered that I took a picture of the Greek desserts I bought for us on Friday.  They were the best part of the cookout, IMHO.  I'm trying not to go out into the kitchen and count out 22 reduced-fat Cheez Its for a snack.  I want to make up some more snack bags today and there is that red box with those salty, cheesy little squares... oh, hell, I'm having some.  I basically threw the diet in the dumper this week so I might as well have the Cheez Its and then turn over a new leaf tomorrow.  Besides I mowed the lawn this morning, it's a mile and the humidity equals the temperature.  It isn't hot but when it's 75 degrees with 75% humidity it sure feels sweaty out there.  I couldn't think of a darned thing to write in my notebook last night so this is it for me today.  I'm hoping to be inspired tonight or at least be able to think of something to scribble down.  Sheesh.  I need a vacation.  Oh, I should go downstairs and work at turning Durwood's fleece pullover into a cardigan.  Yeah, I think I'll do that.  See ya.


Saturday, July 28, 2012

I Have A Scratch In My Record

Do you remember when records were records?  When they were flat black disks with one continuous groove that you gently set a tone-arm with a needle on (yes, kiddies, an actual metal needle) to play?  Remember how it'd skip if there was a deep enough scratch?  I realized this morning that I'm like that record needle when it meets a scratch.  I repeat things.  I get stuck in a groove and do something over and over until someone either lifts me out of the rut or puts a metal washer or a quarter on my tone-arm (that's how you dealt with that issue) to weight it down so it moved along.  (This blog comes with a complimentary lesson from the Rube Goldberg School of Obsolete Gadget Repair; not to be confused with the Hank Angermeier School of Toilet Repair, but that's a story for another time.)

I started making Too Early Birthday Preemie Hats last month--and I can't stop.  When I finish one, I cast on another.  I seem to be working my way through all the colors of Premier Yarns' Everyday Soft Worsted Prints, at least all the ones I own.  I'm up to four and number five's OTN but not pictured--yet.  Oh wait, I have it with me and I have my camera... back in a jiffy.  As you can see, I am not a champion of pastels for babies.  I like seeing the little darlings in bright colors, makes them look like people instead of dollies.

The only other crafty thing I've done in the last week is add a 14" strip onto the "blanket" of gray fleece that Durwood uses to keep warm when he's sleeping, and I won't be taking a photo of that.  Picture an bunk-bed sized piece of pale gray fleece, now with a strip up the side.  That's it.  We're the perfect couple to sleep together--not.  We keep flannel sheets on the bed year round (not my preference) and in summer have a cotton woven "thermal" blanket over them.  That's not enough for Durwood.  By the middle of the night, after his 3:33 AM cup of tea, he's got his fleece throw pulled over the top half of himself.  I, on the other hand, shove the cotton blanket down to my hips when I get into bed and usually spend at least part of the night out of the covers all together.  The older he gets, the colder he gets; the older I get, the hotter I get (and not in that way, either).  Like I said, the perfect couple.

Oh, okay, the Hank Angermeier School of Toilet Repair story...  When we moved into my folks' house when we needed more room (we swapped houses, they moved into our duplex because they wanted less room) I took the lid off the toilet tank to put in one of those 2000 Flushes things to find a black, mans' sock draped over the top of the float & fill mechanism.  I shook my head, fished it out, and tossed it into the sink, then I flushed the toilet.  It was like I'd turned on a fountain.  Water sprayed out the top of the fill tube, arcing at least a foot above the tank.  Not being a fool, I grabbed the sock and slapped it back where it had been which effectively stopped the leak.  Didn't have to buy a package of toilet guts, turn off the water supply, drain the tank, and replace the innards.  The sock was a simple fix and one of the hallmark lessons of the HASTR--be creative and work with what's at hand.  I did eventually really fix the toilet but the sock worked just fine in the interim.

Blazing a New Trail

Well, not exactly a new trail but I took a spin around the 3 new roundabouts and the new piece of Mason Street across Hwy. 41 on my way home from the Farmer's Market this morning.  It has been a long 6 months that the direct route between Durwood and his 2 favorite food stores (WalMart & Festival) has been closed, now the overpass is back in business so no more driving around and under and through to get groceries.  Whee!  (I like roundabouts, no stoplights, Durwood's not a fan)  Last night was the Lobsterfest in Sheboygan.  I made mine go away.  We had fun; I rode with DS & DIL1 and we ate with AJ, his wife K and their friends.  Nephew CA didn't arrive until we were standing saying our goodbyes so we didn't have a chance to hear all about his Germany trip but at least we got to see him.  I got the job yesterday too.  I'll be sewing labels into clothes for sale on the web at www.lucielu.com.  It's not constant and sounds easy enough.  The first time she needs me is, of course, the week before we leave for our Western Adventure but it'll give me a chance to learn what I'll need to do for next time and earn a little extra money.  (always a good thing)  I'm kind of excited about it, and it might be something I can do in the back room at the dive shop if it's not busy.  Mr. & Mrs. Boss don't mind if I knit or read or cut out patterns if there's no dive shop work so I'm sure they won't mind if I sew labels.  Pretty cool, huh?  Today's Photo a Day theme is "cup."  DS's friend and fellow brewer, Scott, is also a potter and he and some friends had a booth at the Farmer's Market.  Look, cups!  I could have bought everything on the table, easy.  Good thing I only had $10.  I'm a sucker for pottery, especially bowls.  I'm thinking of branching out into plates.  (handmade salad or luncheon plates would be good birthday or Christmas gifts... they don't even have to match... no pressure, I'm just sayin'... if anybody's interested... and they shouldn't be from Simon either unless they're from his junk pile... no, not even then because I want to use them not display them and I bet Simon's stuff isn't shiny or foodsafe or dishwasher friendly, it's Art not utilitarian)

July 28--Camille Corot, The Letter.  "Will you write me a letter?" she asked.  Her hazel eyes shone with unshed tears.  It hurt to look at her and took all my willpower not to turn away.  "Sure," I said, "I'll write you a letter as soon as I get there."  "Do you need a stamp?"  She slid open the desk drawer nearest her chair.  "Here, take these.  Then I'll know it's your letter."  The stamps showed pictures of cartoon characters.  I smiled.  She loved cartoons.  We went to the movies together my whole life, giggling in the dark and gorging on Milk Duds and Coca Cola.  I kept my promise.  I wrote her a letter when I got to school, and I wrote one each week for the rest of my college days.  She wrote me too, not as often because of her arthritis, but she did her best.  Between us we joked that we kept letter writing by hand alive for a few more years.  It left a huge hole in my life when she died.

Okay, time to get a move on.  I get to work today so I need to dip out a bowl of Durwood's yummy Italian sausage soup (which recipe seems to have disappeared) for my lunch and head out--once I've triumphed over the daily crossword, that is.  Can't skip the puzzle.  Enjoy the day.  The humidity has fled for today at least and it's only supposed to hit 80.  Seems like autumn, or Autumn since I think the seasons deserve a capital letter.  Planets too, even Earth which usually gets short shrift in the capital letter department.  Toodles.  
P.S. we found yesterday's Greek Cookout a disappointment, overpriced and uninspiring.  Ah, well, can't win 'em all.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Is It Raining Where You Are?

It sure is here.  I went out to plug the fountain in and pick a few cherry tomatoes and my first pepper, once I was inside the sky opened up and rain came pounding down.  I'm sure it's leaking in the renter's basement window--again.  If it's dry on Sunday I need to go over with my chisel, wire brush, and a tube of silicone caulk and seal it up.  Just another perk of being a landlord.  Bah.  I went to walk with Skully in a mall this morning but my arthritic knee and her broken but healing toe made us quit after only 25 minutes.  We usually walk for at least an hour and do about 2 miles but with all the rain our aged bodies rebelled--and we were smart enough to listen to them, this time.  (on my way there I passed a restaurant with this on its marquee:  "I hate standing in line, pick a suspect already."  made me giggle)  Today's Photo a Day theme is "on the road."  It was raining just enough to be artistic on my drive home so I made a point of driving across the Tower Drive bridge and was lucky enough to snap a photo in between windshield wiper pulses.  Cool, huh?  Alpha Delights in DePere is having their annual Greek cookout this week so Durwood and I are going today.  Then tonight I'm riding down to Sheboygan with DS & DIL1 to eat whole live lobster (well, it'll be cooked) in a park.  It's a fundraiser, so it's eating for charity.  Doesn't count.  Neither does the yummy Greek food I'll be devouring in about an hour.  Let's just agree that today is a "diet write-off" day.  Also this afternoon I'm going to find out about the "sewing for dollars" opportunity that came my way this week.  I'll report once I know more about it.

July 27--Late Roman, Vase.

Covered in hearts
blue, green, red
blood red
throbbing, pulsating
Verdigris green hearts
earthy, coppery
symbol of life and spring
Cool blue hearts
life-giving, life-sustaining
water from stream to lake to sea
Vase from pre-history
looks modern to my eyes--
nothing changes.

Now it's time to go dig out the lobster bibs, picks & crackers, and something to carry them in, besides a grocery bag, I mean.  D'you think it'll rain all day?  I suspect that it will.  And I have to work tomorrow so Mrs. Boss can go along and divemaster so ES has a second set of eyes when he's certifying students.  It's safer that way, for all concerned.  My paycheck will be bigger too.  Yay.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

How Can I Be This Frustrated Over Somthing Electronic?

It is killing me, killing me do you hear, that my laptop's wireless thing-y is busted.  I got a call from Aaron that it was fixed.  It's not.  Now I have to go buy an external USB wireless adaptor.  He says they're only fifty bucks.  There's no "only" in $50, Aaron.  Guess I'll pick one up on my way home.  Dammit.  And this humid, stuck on the system line weather is making my right wrist ache like a son of a gun.  And now I get to work on Saturday so Mrs. Boss can divemaster for the Open Water certification dives.  Whine, whine, whine.  I'll be glad to drive away on August 11 for the peace of the open road.  Of course I want my laptop to be working right so I can post from the road.  You want to know about our adventures, don't you?  Of course you do.  I got offered a chance to pick up a very part-time sewing gig and I hope to find out about it this week yet.  I won't be telling you what it is until I've got it sewed up (get it? *nudge, nudge*) but keep your fingers crossed.  Cookie and I skipped the City Band concert last night.  It was so hot and sooooo humid that we couldn't face sitting outside, so we went to a nice, air-conditioned restaurant instead.  We each did our best to make healthy choices (no, we really did) with some success but it's never as "good for you" as homemade, is it?  I think it's the salt that's in all that restaurant food, I really do.  We'd have had to make a run for it even if we went to the concert because when we left the restaurant (before the concert would have ended) the sky was dark gray and a bolt of lightning blasted down out of the clouds nearby.  Loud, and scary.  I drove home in the northern fringe of the storm but I suspect that the concert-goers got more than a little wet.  I've slacked off on the Photo a Day thing this week since the Kumquat's been on the blink.  Durwood's desktop won't recognize my SD card and it's been too busy at work to blog anyway.  Gah.  Just when I think my life is under control some STUPID thing happens and it turns to crap.  Or I feel like it has, which I suppose is the same as actually doing it.  I did learn from Aaron, the so-so computer fixer (I thought he was a genius but now I suspect that he's only human), that I shouldn't have more than one anti-virus program on a computer at a time so I spent too much time this morning taking one of them, the oldest one, off Durwood's computer.  Now it runs like the wind, he says.  He called me earlier just bubbling with glee that he'd found and printed off so many crockpot recipes in such a short time that he needs to fix up a binder to organize them.  What have I done?  The Photo a Day theme the other day was "mirror."  Here's my dresser mirror nearly covered by pictures of my husband and kids.

July 26--Pons Fils, Lyre-Guitar.
Music soft haunting
shivers up the spine of the pines
Bluejay's raucous
claims at the feeder
hush the songbirds
lift tiny brown bunny ears
alert to every sound.
That's the end of the Green Bay whine for today.  I hope you've enjoyed our program.  Stay tuned for tomorrow's broadcast when the subject will be "How Do I Make This @%$#& Adaptor Work?"  Signing off.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

What Sound Do Gnashing Teeth Make?

Arrrgh.  (and not in a fun pirate-y way)  On Sunday morning I tried to get online on my laptop to blog, check emails, etc. and it said it had a "problem loading page."  So I thought, oh, it needs a reboot, so I did.  Didn't help.  Restarted.  Didn't help.  Tried Durwood's desktop (which is still running Windows XP) and couldn't get on the 'net there either.  Tried the Kindle--nope.  Called Time Warner (we have a bundle [no puppy or pie] and the cable and phone worked) for help.  I got a native English speaker (yay!) and explained that I could get on the internet, just couldn't enter it.  It showed me home pages, wouldn't let me post or comment or even scroll.  She made an appointment for a service call and then tried "flooding the modem to flush it out."  Like a blocked pipe?  Hey, I'm the woman who waits for the electricity to drain out of the wire or plug before I fix a lamp or socket so it made sense.  Didn't work.  I was, and still am, horrified by my obvious dependency on my electronic gadgets.  I was rootless, hand-shaking frustrated, clenching and grinding my teeth, and came within a heartbeat of screaming at poor, long-suffering Durwood when he tried to help.  Not good, not good at all.  I ended up making a cauldron of chicken soup so I could bleed off some of my craziness by dismembering a defenseless chicken and hacking up innocent veggies.  That helped some, as did going to Titletown with DS, DIL1, and Cookie to see The Big Lebowski for the first time.  It was funny, hilarious even, but I could have done without about 90% of the F-words.  I had high hopes for spending the great majority of yesterday on the work computer but fate intervened.  Not only were we busy enough to keep 2 people hopping all day, but Mrs. Boss was there trying to get some of her work backlog done.  Thank god she was because there is no way I would have been able to cope alone, it was that busy.  I was hot, sweaty, and running around like a crazed weasel most of the day and barely had a moment to check my emails and scan Facebook.  Granted, it made the day zoom by and she does pay me to work not web surf but, people... no internets all Sunday.  None.  Just a little tease and then nothing.  Today after dodging the Packers owners' meeting traffic (did every one of the 30,000 of them take their own car???) walking (around and around in the mall where it wasn't all that cool anyway) with Skully I took my laptop back over to Aaron at Infinity to see if he could wave his magic wand and fix it.  Nope.  I had to leave it there for the second week in a row.  He's going to try to fix it without making it billable, but he can't promise anything.  Fingers crossed.  Gah.

July 22 & 23--Japan, Female Warrior in Armor.  The paper's fibers meshed well, cross-crossing the way that Yoshi wanted them to.  She swirled the pulp, adding petals and grass blades to catch in her frame with the screen bottom.  She was very careful as she swept and lifted the frame into and out of the water, seeing immediately how the paper would look when it was finished.  Her press was old, hand-made over a century before, but it helped her make the paper that made her famous with artists and print makers like Surimono.  He came every week to see the paper that she had made and every week she asked him to have supper with her.  They sat as equals at her small table, eating the simple meal of rice, fish, and pickled radish, talking far into the night.  All through the autumn when Yoshi added aster petals to her pulp, and winter when she carefully embedded fans of pine needles, and into spring when cherry blossoms blushed pink in her papers, she and Suri got to know each other.  He treated her like an equal, talking about his paint and ink recipes, asking her opinion about how he made his woodblock prints.  She barely noticed their familiarity and the comfortable ways their times together passed.  In the spring Suri arrived on a rainy day wearing a bamboo cape and hat.  He laughed at her fussing to make a cup of tea to warm him.  "You cluck like an old hen," he said.  Yoshi blushed pink and stopped, afraid that she had presumed too much.  He touched her cheek and said, "I like it."

Okay, that's it for me for now.  I'm going to go burn some incense and maybe sacrifice something to the gods of laptops so that the Kumquat comes home soon all better for no more money.  Fingers still crossed.  (that explains the typos)

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Yard & Garden News (Lots of Pictures)

But first I want to say that I'm in a better mood.  I still think I'm allergic to Fridays, but yoga and a much smaller and quieter knitting night helped.  Yoga especially.  Thanks, Mardi, you're the best, (tell J that I'm writing both sides of a page in my notebook each day and I can't wait to see what she writes in hers).  I know I said I'd never take yoga pictures because I feel all sleek and graceful when I do yoga, but I suspect that I'm neither.  I felt bad that I don't have a photo to illustrate my yoga remarks so I had a brainstorm last night.  Before we began I asked everyone to sit in a circle and I took a picture of our feet.  Feet are innocuous.  Everyone's feet look like, well, feet, not sleek, not graceful, just feet.  So, yoga feet!  Yesterday afternoon I went out into the yard with my lopping shears to remove the bush that had intruded on my variegated dogwood.  It's been so hot that I'd left it invade and get too big, but it was nice yesterday and I was in a mood.  I needed the exertion and destruction of lopping off those shoots.  I pulled out all the weeds crowding around the milkweed that I let grow for the monarch butterflies too.  In the "before" picture you can barely see the white and green dogwood leaves, and in the "after" picture there they are and the pile of trimmings is visible in the lower left.  It felt good to have a big pile of branches and weeds to drag to the curb.  I got nice and sweaty, and a little bit itchy.  Felt good.  While I was out there I surveyed the garden and, look!, our first spaghetti squash is growing.  It's so cute and tiny, about the size of a plum, but it's going to grow big and strong, I know it is.  Durwood harvested the first shallots to saute with some zucchini for supper.  It was very yummy and it's all gone.  I think we'll be glad that we planted so many.  This Stargazer lily was being overshadowed by the weeds.  I freed it.  So pretty.  Today's Photo a Day is "9 o'clock."  We got back from the Farmer's Market just before 9 o'clock.  Here's our basket of goodies--tomatoes, baby reds, sweet corn, golden beets, purple carrots, dried tart cherries, Asian pumpkin (something new to us), green beans.  The pork egg roll (his) and the crab rangoons (mine) were disappeared by the time we got home.  Heck, they were gone before we ever pulled out of the lot.  Mmm, what's better than fried stuff?

July 21--Ellsworth Kelly, Blue Green Red.  It looks like a big blue eye peering through a green screen standing on a red floor.  Is it art?  You know, Art with a capital A?  I don't know.  The blue has pleasing curves that contrast with the straight edge where the red touches the green.  It's straight, ruler straight and the paint is smooth.  No messy brush strokes to snag the eye, just the expanse of paint.  If you look closely you can see that the painting has a very thin black frame around it like it's holding something in.

I want to make some chicken soup for lunches this week and next.  I've been eating hummus and veggies on toast for the last month or so and I'm ready for a change.  Time to gather up Durwood and go to Sam's Club for supplies.  Later.

Friday, July 20, 2012


It was difficult to resist twirling every time I got up from the desk at work on Wednesday and Thursday because on Tuesday night I (finally) sewed up a polyester rayon-ish skirt that I've had cut out for nearly a year.  I paired it with a black tee on Wednesday and loved wearing it.  So much so that I paired it with a cocoa tee on Thursday and wore it again.  What?  No one came in on both days plus it looked totally different.  Totally.

 I zoomed along making the miters of the Bandwagon Block #9 and I'm nearly ready to start the log cabin parts.  When this block is complete I'll only need to make three more before sewing up time.  Yay.

I pulled out my ball winder and got control of some skeins of yarn threatening to tangle themselves into a snarl this morning.  Both had knots about a quarter in so I snipped them and am using the short parts for preemie hats.  Not that I wouldn't have used the entire skein for that since it's soft, bright acrylic that I like to use for this hat pattern.  Preemie hats need to be sterilized and wool just can't take it, plus new parents don't need one more thing to take special care of, so acrylic it is.

I fully intend to cast on an ankle sock tonight using this variegated Fixation yarn until it runs out and then finishing the sock with the pale yellow.  It'll be in a shoe anyway, so what's the difference.  Plus you know how I am about socks.


Gah. I'm Having One of Those Days--Again

One of those "I don't wanna" days, you know the kind, when you don't want to do or be wherever and whatever you are.  I could spend all day eating salty, crunchy things (and mostly have), not moving around much except to play with yarn/fabric/audio or video entertainment.  I've cast on a preemie hat, dug out yarn to cast on an anklet sock, wound some falling-apart skeins into tidy balls, downloaded 3 audiobooks from the library to my iPod, and sat staring at the History Channel.  Oh, I read part of a library book on my Kindle Fire too.  I need to go get gas because the pipeline that brings it to GB developed a leak Tuesday and was shutoff so they're predicting higher gas prices until it's fixed.  (be right back)  Okay, I'm back, and the price had gone up a few cents since my drive home from work last night.  Oh well.  Now that I've donated the George Foreman grill that we hadn't used in at least 5 years, Durwood saw it on "Gadgets of the '90s" on TV and now wants to use it to grill chicken and some veggies.  (*sigh*  Makes me feel like I do nothing right.  Which I know is wrong but that's the way I'm feeling today.  double Gah.)  So I'll cruise the aisles at Goodwill tonight, maybe someone donated one or maybe ours is still there.  (how could I tell?)  I'll feel better tomorrow.  Maybe I'm allergic to Fridays.  Maybe I'm allergic to July.  Come on August!  I think tomorrow I'll go out with my lopping shears and cut out all the volunteer treelings and shrublings by the ones I mean to have in various spots around the yard.  A bit of mass destruction might just be the ticket to cure my malaise.  Hmm.  Maybe I'll change my shoes and go out to do a little right now.  I think I will.  Oh, before I forget, today's Photo a Day theme is "eyes."  Guess who these ice blue ones belong to.

July 19--Egypt, Shabtis and Shabti Boxes of Yuya.  "They look like phone booths," Jay said, "I can't stop thinking of them as Egyptian phone booths."  We sat across from each othe3r in the museum's exhibit prep lab.  Jay was working on a new arrangement of the tired Egyptian artifacts and I was trying to make the moth-eaten Central American exhibits come back to life.  We had spent time sorting through the incredible volume of the collections, choosing new items for display.  Droves of school children were the museum's bread and butter in the winter months and we needed to jazz things up to grab their attention.  "Maybe my Mayans should attack your Egyptians," I told Jay, holding up a clay figure. "That'd grab the little attention deficient darlings."

Okay, off to lop.  Look out, shrub monsters!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

It's Raining Again

Would you look at that.  We've had over 3" in the last 48 hours, not enough to save the farmers but our lawn looks a bit happier.  Today's Photo a Day theme is "pet/insect/bug" and I have a pet.  I do.  You think I don't because I don't talk about him a lot but I have a dragon.  Well, he's a beta fish named Dragon, but still...  We have fish aerobics in the morning and evening when I feed him.  I put my red fingernail by the bowl and he comes over and flares his fins and gills at me like I'm a rival male he needs to drive off.  I pull my finger away and he settles down; then I do it again.  Keeps him limber.  See the bubbles on top of the water?  He's making a bubble nest for a sweetheart.  He's not getting a sweetheart anytime soon but I'm not telling him.  Making the nest keeps him occupied and happy.  Good boy, Dragon.  In between customers yesterday (there were 6, plus phone customers, so I took in more than my salary [that's my benchmark for a successful day's work]) I reserved rooms for all but the last night of our trip.  We're staying one night in Buffalo, Wyoming (look at that view!) and then three nights in Rapid City, South Dakota where a lot of things we want to see are--Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse, the Black Hills, a steam train ride (eeee!), and a site where there're mammoth bones.  Hmm, maybe we need another day there... seems like a lot to see and do... must be why some people make that their destination... oh well, we'll manage.  We are resourceful folk.  (Huh, I just realized why my knees and hands and wrists are achy--it's raining.  Doofus.)  Last night Cookie and I met at St. James Park for the City Band concert.  I know I've said it before but I'll say it again, I love that.  It's a real city band, old farts and kids toot and honk and drum, mediocre special guests warble, kids play on the playground, and the parkies and kids sell popcorn and ice cream bars to raise money for park games, etc. to keep the neighborhood kids occupied and out of trouble for the summer.  We sit in our bag o'chairs and knit and sing along (when we know some of the words).  It's a blast.  And it's free.  You should come too.  The more the merrier.  Wednesday evenings at 7:30 in St. James Park across Monroe St. from the carillon.  Y'all come!  Unless it's blazing hot and humid, then we stay home where it's cool.

July 19--Edgar Degas, The Singer in Green.  Out of a swirl of lights and magic she appears and begins to sing.  The green of her dress is like the first tender leaves of Spring.  The singer herself looks no older than Spring.  Her form is sculpted by whalebone and padding but her face is that of a child caught playing dress up.  She sings the song of a love she is too young to have felt and yet you believe that her heart is cad-broken and weep along with her.

Okay, then.  This one is totally out of Degas' usual ballerina pap.  This one has a poignancy and depth that was a surprise and pleasure to contemplate.  Way to go, Edgar.  I'm off to slurp up Cheerios with blueberries, work a crossword puzzle or two, and then zoom off to work in the drizzle.  Drizzle!  I love it.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Thunder! Lightning! Rain!

Hallelujah!  (and for once I didn't have to look up how to spell that, yay)  A house-shaking crash of thunder woke me just before 6 o'clock this morning, lightning soon followed, like, immediately, and then rain, glorious rain, pounding rain.  I didn't take this picture until the storm had mostly passed because I didn't want to open the door and let the lightning in.  That would be bad.  The power flickered just enough that one clock and the stove clock were flashing, and I noticed that it's eternally ten minutes to four in Lexington, KY, or at least that's what it says on the "DD clock" in the dinette.  Can't tell if it's AM or PM.  Perhaps it needs a battery?  The "snack pack" experimenting went well yesterday.  The only glitch was following the directions (found five good-looking recipes on the Women's Health mag site, thanks, Google) to mix the cereal (Chocolate Chex!), dried cranberries (didn't have dried cherries like I thought we did), and mini chocolate chips (I ended up using the big ones so they didn't get lost in the bottom), and then trying to divvy it out into 7 equal bags.  I sat frowning at the stuff in the bowl, stirring it, okay, tossing it like the recipe said, and wondering how I'd get equal portions of each per bag.  Durwood had the solution--weigh each ingredient separately (grams worked better than ounces) and put 1/7th of each on a paper plate on the scale, bag it, and go from there.  Worked like a charm.  He's so smart, that Durwood.  Plus I'm not restricted to making 7 bags at a time.  Then I had the problem of what to do with the mixed together stuff, but he convinced me that I could easily skim off the Chex and then sort the craisins from the chips on a paper plate.  Ta-da!  (I'm keeping him.)  Next I made 100-calorie caramel corn snack bags--popped the corn in a paper bag in the micro (thanks for the tip, DD) since we don't have an air popper anymore, mixed up the tiny bit of caramel in a big pot, and stirred in the corn and a few pistachios (didn't have peanuts and who really cares when there're pistachios), then spread it on a baking sheet to cool.  I didn't think to sort out the old maids so I ended up sitting at the table, sorting through the caramel corn, removing them with my tweezers. (eek)  I also think that I'll dry it in a low oven next time, it's a little sticky since you don't really cook it to any "candy" stage, you just melt a bit of butter, add brown sugar, salt and water, whisk it together, then add the popcorn.  It's tasty but sticky.  I can work with this.  I'm determined not to buy Cheetos or Snickers to munch on when we're driving.  If I can make things easy to grab and portion controlled I'll have a better chance of not denting my weight loss program too badly.  I have no illusions that I'll be a saint (hell, I'm not now) but a little effort now should pay big rewards later.  Right now the Reduced Fat Cheez-Its are a big fave.  Big.  Twenty-two of them is only 2 points.  22 makes a nice snack, not stingy but not gluttony either.  Plus they have that yummy, salty, orange, fake cheese vibe going on.  Who doesn't love bright orange, fake cheese powder?  Today's Photo A Day is "plate" so here's Durwood's breakfast plate--Rosen's rye toast with sliced tomatoes and mayo.  For breakfast.  Every morning.  The man's obsessed.  Happy, but obsessed.

July 18--Cameroon, Helmet Mask.  She dreamed of a wooden-faced man wearing a bead and cowrie shell hat and beard with his mouth open to curse her.  It was so real that she jerked awake, her hand raised to ward him off.  "Jesus," she said aloud, "I need to stop eating garlic bread for a bedtime snack."  She rolled over, turned her pillow to the cool side, and tried to get back to sleep.  The dream was so vivid, so close that she was sure she smelled wood smoke.  the wooden-faced man's long leathery fingers caressed her forehead and smoothed her hair back, welcoming her back into the dream.  The rhythm of the dancers pulsed up her bones and the fire threw red sparks toward the ink black sky.

That's it for me today.  Try to stay dry, and don't let the lightning catch you.  I sewed me a new skirt to wear to work today.  It's swirly.  I will like wearing it so I don't mind going to work.  I think.  Toodle-oo, chickies.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

This Computer Is So Slow...

... that I went to the grocery with Durwood while it booted up.  I took Kumquat, my laptop, to the fixit place to get more memory installed and to have her c: drive dusted and rearranged, never thinking that I'd have to use the old-old-old Gateway that's running, um, Windows NT (I think) as an OS.  OMG, it's so slow.  Hurry, Fixit Guy, hurry.  It's back to being blazing hot and suffocatingly humid.  I don't know how you all who live where it's like this for half the year deal with it.  I know that you eventually get used to it, sorta, move more slowly, and do just fine, but I'm melting.  Melting.  Yesterday at work the a/c barely shut off and couldn't really beat back the heat.  Whenever I got up from the desk to fill tanks or do any other active work, I was sweating, and I wore a (homemade) light cotton patchwork skirt and (cute) t-shirt, so not not denim to deal with.  Mrs. Boss was there quite a bit of the day but I still managed to get my work done and knit a bit.  There's only one desk space to sit at in the store proper so whoever needs the computer (Mrs. Boss when she's there) gets the chair.  I sit in the customer chair pulled up to the corner of the desk, not in the back, because I feel it's my job to work so I need to greet customers and answer the phone, trying not to hand it off to her if I don't have to.  I'm a saint, you don't have to tell me.  We had a spaghetti squash last night that was the best I've ever had.  Usually I'm kind of lukewarm about them, I think they have slimy aspects that just kind of gross me out, but the one Durwood made for supper was without that orange slime that makes me frown at my plate and the threads were crisp and dry-ish.  It was delish.  I wanted to get another but the grocery we went to didn't have spaghetti squash so we bought a tiny butternut to cook and mix with the others.  I'm not sure how that'll work since their consistencies are so different but they'll be tasty, I know that much.  Tonight's fish night.  We're having honey-soy salmon.  I love honey-soy salmon.  We did cheap out and bought the farmed salmon and not the wild caught sockeye, but the farmed kind is half the price of the wild.  Mostly we do wild caught fish but sometimes the budget needs a breather despite the way fish farms aren't good for the environment.  I'm trying out recipes for DIY 100-calorie packs to make for our Western Adventure.  Today I bought a box of Chocolate Chex because I found a recipe for a chocolate cherry one and I want to make another one that's caramel corn.  I'd rather do that than buy the pre-made ones.  I'll let you know how they are.  Today's Photo a Day theme is "my addiction."  I'm not sure what I'm addicted too since it seems to change often--writing, knitting, sewing.  Durwood's a constant, as are DS & DD, but for sheer addictive qualities I can't miss with a reef picture.  Most of my daydreams involve me finning along a reef.  I guess it was an easy choice after all.

July 17--Spain, The Lamb at the Foot of the Cross, Flanked by Two Angels.  It's dark in here behind my eyes, too dark to see anything, but there is sound, lots of it.  There's the constant buzzing in my ears that I only notice when it's quiet, and the scratch of my pencil as it skates away from the line when I doze off.

And that's it for me.  I was so tired, I guess from fighting the heat, that I just conked right off.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Bag Jag, The Movie

Not really, no movie, but I can't seem to stop making bags.  On Saturday I went downstairs into the studio (sounds much cooler than "the basement," doesn't it?) and made another medium sized one and my first large one.  Being the design maven that I am (not) I made coordinating bags that just happen to go with one of the small ones I made on Friday.  (Would you look at that?)  The linings all match but I confess that I stole the lining photo styling from Noodlehead's blog.  But it was such a brilliant way to show it! (she bleats defensively)

(good thing Durwood's taking a nap, a squirrel just chased a flock of sparrows off the spilled birdseed below the feeder.  he's determined to train the squirrels to leave "his" birds alone.  oh, that reminds me to pack a couple pairs of binoculars for our trip...)

On Saturday I also finished the first miter of Bandwagon Block #9.  I had to rewind the ball so that the green was the starting color.  I love this long repeat stuff, it's like I'm using a couple different skeins when it's really all the same.

I Feel Much Skinnier Than I Look

Lately I keep being jarred when I see myself when I'm doing something active because I feel so good, sleek and graceful, and then I catch sight of myself and I'm my same old blobby self.  Yesterday I caught sight of my head in the rearview mirror as K drove us from Gills Rock to Garrett Bay and I looked like, well I don't know what, but big, bigger than I felt, than I feel.  I have no illusions that I'm a sylph.  Never have been, not gonna be.  But I feel energetic and engaged most of the time, ready to go and do, so it's a shock to see me not slimmer.  Another pound and a half lighter than last week, true, but I'm still a lot of woman for the money.  I'm not going to quit doing stuff, not going to quit feeling great while I am, just going to quit looking at myself in reflective surfaces, that's all.  (Oh and, Skully, if you're reading this, we are going walking tomorrow at Bay Park Square since it's hot.  We've been slugs long enough.)  Not a lot to tell you since I posted so late last night.  I think I'm going to take the Kumquat here (my laptop) to the fix-it place today to see if they can't put in some more memory and rearrange the programs to better utilize the divisions I've got established.  I'm going to be adding a lot of photos next month, A LOT, and I don't need any computer glitches.  Nope, don't need that, got enough to think about.  Today's Photo A Day is "sign" so I have a sign of mid-summer for you all.  Here are the ripening tomatoes in our garden.  I picked 3 nice ones and 3 cherry tomatoes this morning.  It's a sign of how hot it's been this summer; all these tomatoes are early, very early.  We're not complaining, especially Durwood's not complaining, after all he is Tomato Boy.

July 16--Greek, Statue of a Lion.  The sun was barely up.  The sky clung to night in the west but golden pink light peeked over the horizon to the east.  Sue lay in the quiet bedroom.  She heard Grandpa up making coffee and whistling through his teeth.  What she knew was coming was the best thing about sleeping at Grandma's house.  Well, one of the best things.  She couldn't wait.  The grandfather clock downstairs in the living room played the three-quarter hour chime and Sue slid out of bed and knelt in front of the open window.  The birds were chirping.  Grandpa's favorite Jenny Wren was up singing her happiness into the dawn and Mrs. Rudolph's chickens had begun to cluck and squabble in their coop.  She hadn't missed it, had she?  No, there they went.  The first roar echoed across the little valley between the zoo and Grandma's house; soon there was a chorus.  The lions knew they were fed at eight o'clock every morning and they were eager to remind the keepers of the time.  You had to listen carefully, it wasn't a big sound, more of a rumble, but Sue loved to hear the lions sing for their breakfast just before the grandfather clock struck eight.

Finally.  I've been trying to write about that for years and nothing has satisfied me until now.  I've finally evoked the feeling I wanted, even though Mrs. Rudolph and her chickens were looong gone by the time I crouched in that window.  Hey, it's Monday, enjoy it.  Hasta la vista, babies.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Oh, Go Soak Your Head

If I'd have had to put up with my mopey self all weekend, especially yesterday, that's what I'd have told myself, and that's what I did today.  After my 10:30 haircut (beautician has a "real" job as a social worker/counselor but can't bear to forsake her favorite customers, thank god) I hauled my dive gear over to K & D's, loaded myself and my gear in his car (with their gear too) and off we went to Door County for 2 dives.  First we dived on the car that rolled off the ferry at Gills Rock ages ago, max depth 51 ft. (I pushed my depth gauge into the sand for that last foot) and the thermocline at 42 ft. took the water temp from 75 to 55 in a heartbeat.  Brrr.  But it was kind of a relief after gearing up in head-to-toe neoprene in the blazing sun on a cement walkway and then waddling over the rocks, slipping down a bank, and into the nice cool water.  Ahhh.  We did 50 minutes there, got out, changed tanks, piled back into K's car (sitting on towels in our wetsuits) for the ride to Garrett Bay (just back a mile or two) for another 50 minutes on the Fleetwing.  I love the way I feel when I'm diving.  After our dives we had subs for a late lunch and drove home.  I got here a little after 7 to find the lovely Durwood had bought Sunnyhill Farms sweet corn for supper.  Oh yeah, we had some other stuff but CORN.  It was delish, barely needed any butter.  I can definitely work an ear of corn into my WW Points Plus rotation any day he wants to get some.  It's the best.  Today's Photo a Day is "finger."  I'd hoped to take a picture of my pruney fingers after diving for nearly 2 hours but by the time I was dry enough to safely handle my camera I wasn't pruney anymore.  So you get to see my finger as I picked up my sub for the first bite.  All my fingers, all my toes, and all of me (with the possible exception of my cranky left ear), inside and out is very glad that I went and soaked my head repeatedly today.

July 15--Greek, Classical Period, Statue of a Lion.  It's damned hard to chisel a statue of a lion when you've never seen one, when no one you know has seen one either.  That's what they'd asked him to do.  Christos commissioned a statue of a lion for his new villa in the hills above Athens.  It had to be a lion, he said, lions have strength and courage.  Has he seen a lion? I asked his man Tiberius and he said no, and neither had Tiberius although he had heard the roar of one from the Colosseum when he was a boy.  It must be a large creature with a deep chest to produce such a roar.  He heard that the beasts have teeth like the sharpest knives and claws like spear points.  What about the head and body? I asked.  Christos should have had a drawing but all he did was send Tiberius to the shop with the order and half payment.  Maybe I'll just make it like my cat Caliban, only bigger.

And that's that.  It's late and I'm tired from my day in the sun and water.  Nighty-night.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

'Nother Hat... With Bags

This time you get the preemie hat first because it is just so cute.  Plus this is my blog and I can make it any way I want to.  So there.  The president of the Bay Lakes Knitting Guild, VJ, started an outreach project last fall going to a retirement home in town and starting a knitting group.  I hoped to go but didn't manage it even once.  Turns out one of the ladies came back to knitting and over the course of the year not only did she turn into a baby hat knitting machine (she's up to 58!), she even dyed her hair.  Now that's a renaissance, and all because of knitting.

I have mostly worsted weight yarn and, honestly, it's about the smallest yarn I like to knit with, so I searched online and on Ravelry for a preemie hat using worsted and found the Too Early Birthday hat.  I had some red (of course I did, are you surprised?) variegated yarn on hand and had just learned the Magic Loop method of knitting in the round so I cast on and zoomed off.  I confess that it is acrylic yarn but preemie hats need to be sterilized to be used and wool yarn can't take the heat so acrylic is the right yarn for this use.  This is very nice, soft, non-splitty yarn in bright colors that makes excellent hats.  (I'm not anti-baby colors but I think babies, especially the littlest ones, need bright colors for stimulation and to make them look awesome and not like dolls.)  This turquoise one is perfect for that baby with an affinity for the ocean.

Yesterday I cranked out a couple small zip bags like the medium ones I made last weekend.  This pattern is so well written and easy to follow, plus I'm using heavyweight fabrics so I don't need to put interfacing in.  Takes out one step and eliminates one supplies need.  Booyah!  I'm loving these bags.