Thursday, August 30, 2012

Today Already Sucks

 Why?  Because it's Mom's birthday, well, it's supposed to be Mom's birthday but, no, she had to go to her 65th class reunion last October (thanks so much for taking her, DS, really, she loved it), have a great weekend showing off 2 of her grandkids, eating barbecue with old friends, then she came home to burst her appendix, have surgery, and up and kick the bucket before I was done with her.  Oh, there were times when I wished I was done with her, but not anymore.  I'd give anything to get one of those late afternoon, bridge-game-rehashing phone calls at work, or even a I'm-having-a-heart-attack-when-it's-really-just-gas calls late in the evening.  I would.  Dammit.  Man, if she was here I'd really give her a talking to for pulling a stunt like that.  I think of her every time I rummage through the bock (there's no other good word for the quantity) of thread I kept from her sewing room.  So far it doesn't look like I'll need to buy any colors of thread for my "sewing for dollars" gig until far into the next millennium.  Far.  Anyway, today's Photo a Day theme is "card."  I have last year's cards propped up in a messy stack on a dresser.  Waaaaay in the back was this card.  It's the last birthday card I'm ever going to get from Mom--and it's a good one, let me tell you.  I'm so glad I kept it.  Dammit.  Moving on.  I heard on TV this morning that tomorrow at 8:58 AM there will be a blue moon.  You know what that is, right?  It's the second full moon in a month.  Too bad it won't be at night, but it still counts.  So "once in a blue moon..." really means something.  Who knew?  Well, me, that's who.  My brain's a repository of all sorts of random, nearly useless info; that's why I was so good at Trivial Pursuit.  I miss sitting around a table playing a game, cards or a board game.  I suck at cards (ask Pappy, my late father-in-law, he'll tell you, I have little or no card sense) but I don't mind playing.  I like hopping a "man" around on a board too, even Monopoly although I don't really "get" the game in the true sense of the word, I'm no good at checkers and don't even try to get me to learn chess.  I don't have any strategy or concept of planning moves; I'm a react-er not an act-er, so that one doesn't even make a dent in my consciousness.  I'm awesome at jacks, or I used to be when I was much closer to the sidewalk.  I think today's jacks are a cheat since they have a superball instead of one of those painted flabby red rubber balls we used to get, but I still like to play.  Except now scraping my fingernails across concrete ruins my manicure.  (oh, man, now I really know I'm old, I care more about my manicure than I do about kicking jacks' butt)  Durwood and I sat with my laptop after supper and started weeding out vacation pictures so that someone who says they want to see our pictures (the fools) can see a hundred or so instead of the 1247 we took.  Now that I know how to slurp them up and slap them onto a CD I can do that.  I figure we'll just go through and pick, then we'll whittle down more if need be.  Now if I could only figure out a way to put on captions...  Hmm, maybe on Smilebox...  I'll see about it at work if it's not too busy and if Mrs. Boss doesn't show up so I have to pretend to look busy... although I kept on knitting when she was there for a few minutes yesterday.  Wonder if a person can make a DVD from there?  They have music and stuff.  Bet you can.  Maybe I can too.

August 30--Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Washstand.  Gail knew that the old washstand was worth all her hard work.  She hoped to be able to save the original finish like all the appraisers on Antiques Roadshow say.  She knew that a few dings and scratches, what some call "the patina of age," showed that the piece had been used, not treated with kid gloves and she liked that furniture had lived with people not in a museum or worse yet a parlor.  How sad to be owned and so loved that you're abandoned in a dark, cold room only to feel light and warmth when company came, and only "worthy" company at that.  With the first pail of water and mild soap she had discovered that the flat surface was covered with cobalt blue tiles a couple inches square.  Determined not to use a stripped on the old oak, she wiped and rubbed to clean off over a century's worth of coal heating soot, cooking grease, and cigarette smoke.  She lost count of how many times she dumped her pail of filthy black water down the strain, starting fresh with clean water and a capfull of Murphy's which reminded her of her Granny's house.

Okay, that's it.  I've got to stop sitting here thinking and go talk to Durwood or read the paper or eat ersatz Cheerios.  Hey, I've been steadily losing the 3# that I gained over our vacation; I am now officially lighter than I was when we left.  Go, me!  Happy birthday, Mom.  Not.  Dammit.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Ow Ow Ow

Yesterday before supper, once the sun had dipped behind Melissa-next-door's maple tree, I went out and picked Durwood's first bowl of raspberries of the season.  While talking to our renter, Donna, about her new job and how big her girls have gotten since they moved in 5 months ago, I picked and weeded.  Unfortunately I weeded out a giant nettle.  Ow.  Ow.  Ow.  My hands and forearms aren't any redder than usual but they still prickle.  (Rule #1: Don't pick nettles anymore.)  (at first I closed those parentheses without putting a period at the end but the Punctuation Harpy wouldn't let me go on until I went back and fixed it, I think she's related to my inner-Hitler; I don't need one at the end of this aside because I didn't start with a capital letter [hah, take that, Punctuation Harpy])  One natural danger that I did manage to avoid was the hornet's nest in one of the bells of the old rusty wind chime that's hanging in the berry canes.  I don't mind the bumblebees, I don't bother them and they don't bother me, but hornets?  I give hornets their space; they'll sting you just because.  Today's Photo a Day theme is "down" but it was too dewy for me to lay down out in the yard to take pictures so I looked down on things, the fern's my favorite.  I love ferns, even though the baby bunnies, Flash & Bobo, eat the tender fronds in the spring.  I call all our baby bunnies Flash or Bobo; Flash is the one that zooms back and forth, zip zip zip, Bobo stops and looks around and stares at things like it's trying to figure them out, wha...?.  A Bobo seldom reaches maturity; a Flash always does unless it zips right into a hawk or owl's talons, both of those regularly troll our backyard.  Don't you just love nature?  We saw lots of nature out in Yellowstone, the place is crammed with it.  We stopped along the road (really everyone does it, they even have official places for it) to watch one male buffalo escort another away from his passel of girl buffaloes giving a nice basso grunt, "uh, uh, uh," with each step.  It was lovely.  Behind him a mama buffalo grazed and her little redheaded calf played, tumbling over a 2-foot drop-off and scrambling back up.  I/we could stand to be back there looking at the animals RIGHT NOW.  Last night after supper Durwood mentioned turning around and going back when I told him that I'd finished the laundry on Saturday.  His eyebrows raised up (it's a sign of intense interest with him, sometimes when I'm all nekkid they almost disappear into his hairline [you really didn't need to know that, did you? sorry]), so I knew he was seriously interested when he said, "how fast can we pack?"  See?  Even after 2 whole weeks crammed in that van together we'd still strike out again in a heartbeat, but I think Mrs. Boss would object.  I'm sure she's less than pleased that I'm haring off to The Clearing for a week on September 8 {one week after my birthday, my 61st birthday, which is this coming Saturday, September 1, if you're interested or have forgotten})  In retaliation she's leaving for 2 weeks herself at the other end of September to go on a dive trip on a live-aboard in the Maldives, which are in the Indian Ocean off the west coast of Africa.  Sucks to be her, eh?  On my way home from walking, dropping of 5 bins of "sewing for dollars" and cashing my paycheck (oh, happy day!), I swung into AAA and got tour books and maps so we can start planning and dreaming about next year's driving adventure.  We plan to visit the Carolinas (this is your early warning, Aunt B and RJ & Kathy) where Mom's sister and Durwood's brother live.  I've never been there; I think Durwood was there ages ago so we're going.  He was talking about the Blue Ridge Parkway but I suspect those are mere hills compared to the Beartooth Mountains and Gallatin Range that lately scared the crap out of me.  I easily finished the bin of stragglers for Lucie; it only took a couple hours in the afternoon.  Like I said, I'm really enjoying the work.  (Thanks again, Tanya, for giving Lucie my name.)  And now it's time for me to stop babbling, get my prompt writing on here, and go get ready for the work day.  *sigh*

August 29--Eugene Atget, Shop Front of Courone d'Or, Quai Bourbon.  It had always been my favorite shop window.  The careful pyramids of cans of peas and carrots glinted in the sun, and the spools of ribbon hinted at the riches inside the tiny shop.  Maman liked to conclude her shopping in "le d'Or" because she always knew that Monsieur Atget would have all the items left on her list.  He carried more cheeses than the fromagerie, more meats than the charcuterie, and more breads and rolls than the boulangerie.  I knew that he also had a soft spot for little girls with dark curls and brown eyes so I made sure to be at Maman's side when she went in on Tuesdays.

And that's when I dropped of to sleep.  I did manage to take off my glasses and put my notebook and pencil on the nightstand but that's the extent of my memory of last night.  Bon dia.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

And We're Walking

This morning I'm meeting my pal, Skully, and we're walking along the river.  The Fox River, not the steaming Firehole River or the racing Yellowstone River, just the Fox River which flows (rather sluggishly) through the center of Green Bay.  I'd like to teleport the two of us to those far-away riverbanks so we could walk along, dodging bison biscuits (which are huge and hard to miss) and drinking in the soft pine fragrance of the lodgepole pines.  Ahhhh.  Not that I'm complaining, no, I know how lucky I am, we are to have a river trail so close to home to walk on through the backyards of the city.  The part we walk on goes behind some pretty swank homes, through the back end of Heritage Hill, and past the Reformatory (aka GB Correctional Institute, aka prison) so we get a good cross-section of the socio-economic strata in our city.  Once I'm all hot, sweaty, and stinky I need to stop at Lucie's to drop off my latest batch of "sewing for dollars"--and get a check.  That's another thing I like about this, she pays on delivery.  I like the work, I like that I usually have the right color thread (or near enough) in the barrel of thread I got from Mom, I like that it's intermittent.  You'll be proud (and possibly impressed) that not only did I manage to get all of our vacation photos onto a CD, I also figured out (mostly by accident by pressing random buttons) how to make it play on the TV.  Of course I didn't organize them or delete any so it's a random, by day, view of all 1237 still photos we took.  Not in any order.  I just slapped the ones I took and the ones Durwood took into a file each day and after the first day I didn't even change their names, which turns out to be a good thing because the named ones put themselves into alphabetical order while the unnamed ones are in chronological order.  Much better.  Now that I know how easy it is, I can sacrifice (at least) one more CD to make a shorter, better storytelling "slide" show of our trip.  The big challenge will be wrangling the digital videos.  I might need the help of a kid, even a 33 year old kid has a lot more knowledge than I do as a 4-days-younger-than-61-yrs.-old, right?  Right.  I'm back from walking and delivering my sewing bins... and picking up another bin of what Lucie calls stragglers, tops that need fixing or need to be resized, so I didn't get a check today (boo) I'll get one tomorrow when I deliver this last (she swears it is--for now) bin (yay).  I fell down the rabbit hole in JoAnn Fabrics where I stopped on my way home to buy a little package of black fusible tape to try and fix one of the tops for Lucie.  I didn't accidentally swipe my credit card but some of my earned-but-not-paid-yet sewing money got left behind for a few spools of ribbon, a zipper or two, some random reduced price fabrics, and some heat-resistant batting stuff to use to make hot pads.  I'm determined to sew from stash but it's those things like zippers and ribbons and specialty items like the hot pad stuff that lure me back into the store against my will.  I'm a victim, that's what I am, a victim.  (that's my story and I'm sticking to it, don't be waving any facts in my face, I'm not looking)

August 28--Egyptian, probably Tukh el-Quaramus, Miniature Broad Collar.  Dierdre's fingers were shaking so badly that she couldn't work the necklace's clasp.  The heavy gold didn't make it any easier.  She heard the orchestra begin to play and the voices swelled up the staircase and flowed down the hall to her room, their room, not as distinct voices but as a rising hum.  Like the wind in the trees, she thought as she lifted her hands to the back of her neck once again.  If Paul wanted her to wear the damned collar he could at least be there to help her put it on.  Just as she was about to give up and call Vivienne for help, the tiny gold hook slid into the loop and the broad gold ornament settled just below her collarbones.  She took a step back and appraised her looks.  Paul had been right, damn him, her simple white silk shift was perfect for the complex gold, carnelian, lapis, and turquoise weight tugging at her neck like a gilded ball and chain.  (Do any of you read this part?  My BIL, RJ, told me he skips over it and I'm just wondering if everyone does, if I'm posting this part for my own edification.  Comments?)

Okay, that's it for today.  I need to slap some photos on here, hit "publish," and get down to the sewing dungeon, uh, studio and retag those tops and fix the booboos so I can get paid tomorrow.  Oh, today's Photo a Day theme is "clock" so here's a pic of the antique mantle clock that Dad junk-picked from an old house he was selling.  Mom & Dad let me keep it in my room and it followed me when I moved out, first into a single girl apartment in a very skeezy part of town, to various duplexes and houses and now back to my very own duplex.  I love hearing it bong the hour and half hour and I love the comforting tick of it when the house is silent.  Adios.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Back In The Saddle, Back On Track

Work today, BOO... but paycheck too, so YAY.  My wallet's feeling a bit parched and I need to get gas today since Durwood heard that they're closing the Gulf of Mexico oil platforms because of Tropical Storm Isaac.  That's sure to jack up gas prices.  Everything jacks up gas prices.  *sigh*  I even remembered to take a Photo A Day picture today.  The theme is "tap" and that stumped me for only a minute; then I realized that you would love to see the tap in our ancient avocado kitchen sink with a Mitch-made dishcloth and the grody sponge sticks and Lava soap on the rim.  I was pretty satisfied to see that the flash caught individual drops as the water trickled too.  I rock.  Just ask me.  The jury's still out on whether my haircut was a miracle or just another version of "meh."  Carla cut bangs to try to eliminate the sheepdog flop I had going on and tapered the sides so that I can still tuck them behind my ears and layered the top a bit.  But it's not a mullet, nope, not a mullet.  My hair is so fine and so soft that unless I glom on the superhold gel it soon forgets its style and just slumps.  Ah well, good thing I don't really care as long as it's not in my eyes.  Who's looking at me anyway?  Nobody, that's who.  OK, Durwood looks at me but I suspect my hair isn't where he tends to look.  The parts he's interested in are lower down (and sagging lower every day).  I feel like I don't have anything to talk about since my horizon isn't vast and my surroundings aren't news.  I'm back to the short view with little bits of sky peeking between maple trees and house roofs.  (how come it's "roofs" when the plural of "hoof" is "hooves"?  just asking)  I did notice quite by accident last night that when I get home from work today I need to go out and pick raspberries for my beloved.  His raspberry canes are making berries like crazy, all little dots of dark red up there for his eating pleasure.  I don't eat raspberries, I sort of don't like them.  I know that's a sacrilege but I just don't.  I like jelly donuts, you know, the ones with the granulated sugar on them, and that jelly is and always has been raspberry, but I'm not a fan of raspberry in other forms.  Hey, I tell him he can have my share of raspberries and I'll eat his share of blueberries which he's kind of meh about.  Works out, although his raspberries (thanks, DS & Mason T) are much more mature and thereby make more fruit than my 3 fairly young and barely established blueberry bushes, but I keep them mulched with pine bark and feed them the kind of fertilizer they like and they give me a few breakfasts of berries and more each year.  I can be patient.  Speaking of patient, I'd better get a move on so I can eat, shower, do my (new) hair, wash grapes, get gas, and get to work on time--or nearly, hey, it's not that kind of store.  Very rarely are there people battering down the door at 10 AM on the dot.

August 27--Syria, Gravestone with Furnerary Banquet.  "Can you read that?"  Gela asked, squinting at the words carved into the limestone.  Jacey looked at her.  "You mean can I read the ancient Syrian on there?  No."  She shook her head and pointed at the tour guide in front of the group.  "If you listen instead of talk I'll bet he'll tell us what it says, or you could ask, or read the little label there."  It was the tenth day of a sixteen day tour of museums and historic sites, and Jacey was more than a little tired of Gela assuming that she knew everything.  It was time she shouldered some of the research burden.  "What do I look like, a walking guide book?"  She scowled at the tranquil quartet smiling out from the gravestone.  "What're you looking at?  Figure your own selves out, I'm going to find a cup of coffee all by myself."  She backed away from the group as they all shuffled toward the next exhibit, then she slid behind the screen that shielded a painting from the sunlight.  "I'll meet the group at the bus in an hour," she reassured herself as she slipped away.  That was the last time anyone saw Jacey Taylor.

Dun-dun-dunnnn.  I love it when bad things happen to cranky people.  Oh, wait, I'm often cranky... maybe I should rethink that.  Anyway, enjoy your day.  It's sunny here; I hope it's the same where you are.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

I Did Actually Knit On Vacation

There was a lot of car time--a LOT--but there was also lots to see while in said car (or van or dark blue aircraft carrier, whatever) so I spent a lot of miles when I wasn't driving holding a camera ready to take a picture or twelve.  There were skies...

...fields of sunflowers 


badlands that I-94 goes right through...

and finally mountains.  Mountains, can you believe it?  They actually make roads on the knife edge of mountains in places I am certain no self-respecting mountain goat would dare to tread, and of course Durwood had to drive on them and enjoy it while doing it.  I, being the one with the most brains, spent our time on the Beartooth Highway scared shitless and whimpering like any sane person.  The only thing I can say is, thank god it was light when we did that.  I only drove at the end when we weren't 10,000 ft. in the air.  No wonder I was breathless and Durwood was giddy, there's no oxygen up there.  Sheesh.

Like I said, I did knit.  I made preemie hats.  They're easy to knit on and quick to finish so I feel like I'm accomplishing something.  I love this Premier Everyday yarn; it's acrylic so it can be sterilized if need be and parents with too much to deal with don't have to worry about ruining the damned hat, plus the colors are so cheerful and not pastel which to me means "I'm sure you're going to grow up to be a very fun and interesting person" not "oh look at the tiny sickly baby."  Sorry, although I think pastels are sweet, I think preemies need all the power we can lend them to fight the effects of their too early birthdays.  Bright color means power to me.

I also finished Bandwagon afghan block #9.  It's garter stitch so it's easy car knitting.  Only 3 more blocks to go then I can join them and edge it.

We passed a Hobby Lobby in Rapid City and I finally had to stop, even though there are 2 in town that I often pass.  I cruised the yarn aisles and ended up buying a skein of this Monkey Red "I Love This Cotton" and a tan/beige one too.  I cast on a Mitered Towel and plan to switch to the tan when I get to the garter stitch top.  I'm also hoping to learn to count, or press my counter button after each and every row, since so far my counting has been, let's say, flexible.  Not that it matters.  It is only a hand towel to hang from the stove handle, still I'd like to make it right.  Just once.

We passed a yarn & bead store on the road to Mt. Rushmore in Rapid City and managed to stop at, like, 4:45 PM (she closed at 5:00) on our last day in town.  I found a few skeins in the 40% off bin (of course, when did I ever pass up yarn on sale?), a skein of Encore in a variegated I haven't seen to make another boot sock, two skeins of cotton/viscose kids' yarn (to make a scarf maybe), and a skein of Sockotta and some beads to make a beaded and drop stitch scarf like she had on display.  Naturally she didn't have a pattern but she let me take a picture and I'm sure Z-Dawg will help me figure it out.  She's gifted that way.

Oh, and I knit rows on the Maple Tree scarf along the way.  (What?  it's summer, like the leaves are anything but green)  It's week #35.

Now that we're home I've got a few bins of label sewing for Lucie to do this weekend, and I need to enter my yarn purchases into Ravelry and maybe look for a drop stitch scarf pattern while I'm there.  Next weekend the next to last BOM quilt block instructions will be on Craftsy (what do you mean you haven't gone over there and signed up yet?  it's free, people, F-R-E-E.  *shakes head* you guys.) so I can sew them up and be that much closer to making my first quilt.  Squee!

Back To The Grind, Er, Sewing Machine

I spent quite a bit of yesterday shilly-shallying around, playing with the mail, goofing around with unpacking and souvenirs, before getting myself downstairs to start the wash and fire up the sewing machine.  It's not hard sewing or even complex, just putting Lucie's label in.  I hope I do it right.  I'm kind of picky and won't put it where it'll show through.  I guess I need to check with the boss before I go much further.  Durwood dealt with the lion's share of the mail, even Mom got a bunch.  She got a AAA renewal notice and a zero-balance statement from CapitalOne.  I called them to tell them again that Mom won't be driving anywhere or charging anything anytime soon.  Ya know, some days I can be cavalier, make a joke about her being gone and some days I can barely talk.  So I'm guessing I'm normal.  *sigh*  I've never thought I'd be normal once in my life and here I am.  Who knew?  Hey, it's raining.  It didn't rain on us one time when we were on vacation.  That's a testament to the power of my mind.  Yeah, you think it didn't rain because of the weather fronts or the winds or something, don't you?  But you're wrong.  It didn't rain because I'd been waiting since last summer to go to Yellowstone so I wasn't going to tolerate any inhospitable weather.  Nope, not going to tolerate it when we drive, not going to tolerate it when we're visiting the park or monuments, and it's all because of the strength of my mind.  *double bicep muscles*  Is strong like bool.  I've been watching a hummingbird take a bath in the rain.  Durwood made some sugar juice and I contributed a piece of my banana that he covered in honey, then we hung it below the hummingbird feeder so that the hornets go there instead of chasing the hummers away.  And it's working, there're a bunch of drownded hornets in there this morning.  It's time for me to eat some cereal--a mix of flakes, Os, and some fiber-ous wormy looking things--then I get to go get a haircut.  Woohoo, I need a haircut.  Maybe I can even get a hairSTYLE.  Wouldn't that be good?  Did I mention that I don't have the hairdo gene?  I don't.  I can wash my hair.  I can comb my hair.  I can put on gel and comb it.  I can put on a headband--somedays.  See?  Not got the hair gene.  I'll let you know if there's a miracle.


Saturday, August 25, 2012

Back Home *sigh*

We got home yesterday afternoon about 3 after stopping at Festival Foods for a rotisserie chicken and some yogurt, bananas, grapes, and milk to ease back into eating the way we know we should.  We tried very hard (well, Durwood tried harder than I did; I'm more of an opportunist when it comes to skidding off the diet than he is) and according to the Wii Fit I only gained about 3# in the last two weeks.  Not bad.  I'm climbing back onto the straight and narrow today (okay, I'm flirting with it) so the weight won't stick to me.  I plan to shuck it off like a prom dress after midnight.  We left La Crosse around 11 yesterday morning and toodled through central Wisconsin trying to decide what was wrong with the picture out the windshield... it finally occurred to me, there weren't any mountains, just piddly little hills.  Hills are piffle compared to the craggy, ancient piles we cruised (and for my part, cringed) over the last two weeks.  The Highway 21 entrance onto Hwy. 41 was closed so we had to detour through Berlin which took us right by one of Durwood's favorite old eateries so we stopped there for lunch.  He was glad to see that the same Greek guy still owns the place and that the food was still delicious and plentiful.  How can you not love a place where a cup of soup comes with every sandwich?  Soup is good food, so much better for you than chips or fries.  I, of course, opted for fries since I decided to make the most of my "last day" of vacation.  On Wednesday we drove from Rapid City, SD to Sioux Falls, SD where we stayed in a skeezy looking Super 8 on the wrong side of major road construction.  We hoped to visit the USGS Earth Resources Observation & Science (EROS) Center but they weren't having tours until early September, so we drove back into Sioux Falls to visit the Butterfly House then we struck out across South Dakota ending up in La Crosse, Wisconsin around 5 PM.  I'd found us a room at a small "ma & pa" motel when we stopped for lunch along the way and saw a restaurant that turned out to be exactly right for supper.  Once again the wi-fi was sketchy so we were forced to talk to one another.  What amazes me is that after all that time together we still hadn't run out of stuff to talk about or hadn't stopped enjoying being together.  Amazing, am I right?  You know I am.  One thing I found out about Yellowstone that I'd never really thought about is there are summer jobs for retirement age folks in the gift shops, etc. in the park.  Wouldn't that be a fun way to spend summers?  And outside Rapid City, SD the Mammoth Site is a real, on-going archaeological dig that volunteers can work on in the summer.  I'd like that too, wouldn't you?  On our way home I got a call about some more sewing that needs to be done for Lucie so I went over and picked it up this morning.  I figure I can camp downstairs today and tomorrow while I fling laundry around, get it done, and deliver it on Tuesday to start refilling my mad money coffers. (they're seriously depleted)  I also went out into the garden and picked a few tomatoes so Durwood could resume eating his standard "tomato slices on Rosen's Rye toast with mayo" open-face sandwiches for breakfast.  The tomatoes--standard, Roma, and cherry--that I picked before we left made up part of our picnic lunches for nearly the whole trip, only at the very end on our way across South Dakota did we come across some sour cherry tomatoes. (yuk)  But they were great with rough slices of co-jack cheese (so glad we didn't use it to pay that ersatz WI Cheese Tax that Doug at Silvergate Cabins tried to extort from us), pretzel twists, and almonds.  We skillfully made the 'maters and cheese last the same length of time; we even bought some fancy sandwich rolls in Cody, Wyoming for two of our lunches.  So basically we either had cereal & bananas in the room or free breakfasts, most days we had picnic lunches featuring food from home, and then ate in local family-style for suppers for the two weeks, meaning that both of us were happy with how things went food-wise.  I love picnics and eating in restaurants, Durwood loves tomatoes and frugality.  It's the perfect marriage.  We also decided on the way west that we'd try to not eat in chain restaurants as much as possible.  That first lunch was in an Applebee's, and in Rapid City, SD we ate in Outback Steakhouse one night, Texas Roadhouse the next night, and Taco John's for one lunch because neither of us had ever eaten there.  The rest of the time we sought out local food.  I highly recommend it unless you're an unrelentingly picky eater, then don't... whatever floats your boat, but we enjoyed both the search and the results.  Anyway, I'm back!  So daily posts should resume posthaste.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Breaking Radio Silence

Here we are in Rapid City, SD which I have never thought of as the epicenter of the modern world but here I am on the internet just like a real millennial woman.  I didn't really miss it when we were in Yellowstone (really, that's no lie) but once the possibility was there I was all over it like a duck on a junebug, I almost told Durwood to go look at Mt. Rushmore by himself, but I didn't.  We drove from Yellowstone (oh, it was so hard to leave there) to Buffalo, WY yesterday on the oddest series of roads, not really highways exactly, state highways I guess, through the smallest of towns, even for Wyoming--Basin, Emblem, Ten Sleep, Graybull--through the Shoshone National Forest, past Buffalo Bill Dam (tunnels!), and the Bighorn National Forest (which was surprisingly bereft of trees) and should have been called mountains instead of forest, part of which wasn't paved.  A mountain road... wasn't paved!!!!  Admittedly it was because the road was being worked on, but still this was a road with a number on a sign shaped like a shield and there it was only dark, rusty gray gravel for about 5 or 6 miles.  I drove on that part, of course.  We stayed at the Mountain View Motel and Campground in a cottage that looked like the previous occupant had been a Wyoming version of Heidi.  There were hanging baskets of petunias on the eaves and white clapboard sides, and the inside was made of highly varnished logs.  Durwood enjoyed the flatscreen TV but my laptop didn't like their internet so I was thwarted.  Instead I called both of my children and sat outside in the gorgeous Wyoming evening talking to them.  Did I mention that Yellowstone National Park was lousy with Wisconsinites?  We met people from Fond du Lac, Eau Claire, Milwaukee, Merrill, Richland Center, even 4 vans full of UW-Madison students... I figure except for DS & DIL1 and Lala Wisconsin is empty.  Crazy.  Oh, and we saw a family in Brewers shirts at Mt. Rushmore today and a biker guy was telling someone about the Vietman War Vets welcome home rally at Lambeau Field last summer.  And the motorhome parked behind our cottage in Buffalo?  It had a Wisconsin license plate on it.  We can't get away from these people.  Mt. Rushmore was lovely, smaller than I though it'd be, but moving.  One of the workers was signing books in the gift shop.  I was amazed that any of them are still alive.  I bought one and am looking forward to reading it.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

For A While There I Thought Buffalo Were Just A Rumor

Today we finally drove through the Northeast Gate of Yellowstone National Park.  It is so beautiful I can't begin to tell you, but I do have to admit that I expected the meadows, fields, and mountain sides to be paved with buffalo, pronghorn, elk, and bears.  They're not.  I guess I'm like those non-diving people who think that the ocean is paved with sharks.  I'm smarter now.  There's a light haze of smoke from 3 lightning-struck fires in the park but it doesn't smell too smoky.  We stopped at all sorts of gorgeous streams and canyons taking pictures and just drinking in the beauty.  (Did you know that it smells piney there?  Not like your grandma's bathroom air freshener pine either, real sweet, tangy, barely discernible pine.)  Finally I spotted one lone buffalo limping across a field toward a river.  I watched him until he was closer to the road, then Durwood pulled forward, and he posed for me.  Wasn't that nice?  Then we started seeing small herds of buffalo on the other side of a river, and in one place I spotted a lone pronghorn.  I only managed a photo of its heinie.  Ah well.  We lunched on our homegrown tomatoes, pretzel twists, almonds, and some slices of co-jack.  Cheese.  Yeah, let's talk about the cheese.  When we got to Silver Gate, MT to check into our room (it's also a convenience store and gift shop) there was a nice young woman there.  This morning I went in to get a little milk for our cereal and asked where Doug was because I had his cheese.  She said, "he told you to bring him cheese?????"  When I nodded she rolled her eyes and said, "I'm sorry.  If you decide not to give it to him I won't say a word."  We kept the cheese; we'll give the cheddar to my cousin Mike tonight and we'll eat the co-jack for lunches along with the tomatoes I picked before we left.  Can't let a cheese extortionist pull one over on us.  Yesterday's drive over the Beartooth Parkway was a nerve-stretching ride up the knife-edge of roads carved out of mountains.  The switchbacks kept our speed at just under 20 mph and the Wyoming part of the road was the scariest since we were on the outside of the turns most of the time.  You know the kind where you can look downdowndown into the dark shadowy valley way below.  I'm not ashamed to say that at one point I shielded my peripheral vision with my hand so I didn't whimper like a baby (anymore than I already was).  Thank god we made it through while it was still light and driving or riding through mountains is OFF my bucket list.  Off.  Our trip to the Little Bighorn took us farther off track than I imagined it would, we got there later than I thought, and we stayed longer because Durwood was completely fascinated with the land where the massacre happened.  In fact he loved it so much that we're thinking we might stop on our way out of Yellowstone on Saturday so he can take more pictures and make a better video.  It was nearly 100 degrees yesterday at the battlefield so it was hard to enjoy it, and today it's pretty hot and sunny here in Yellowstone.  I'm hoping for a bit cooler weather.  Tonight we're meeing my cousin Mike (he's a Landscape Architect in Yellowstone, has been for years, isn't that a cool job?) for supper at Roosevelt Lodge in the park.  I haven't seen him since I can't remember when.  I'm really looking forward to it.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Zoomed Across North Dakota

That's what we did yesterday, zoomed.  North Dakota isn't flat like I thought it'd be, it's kinda rolling and it's beautiful.  Long views and fields of sunflowers.  Lots and lots of sunflowers.  We stopped for lunch in a tiny town off the interstate called Dawson.  It's very tiny, teeny tiny even.  There's only one place to eat and that's the cafe behind the gas station/grocery store/general store (I love those kinds of stores.)  When we went in just about every seat was taken so we nabbed the last two counter stools.  When no waitress came I asked the burly guy next to me how we get served.  He looked surprised and said that he supposed we could order off the menu but didn't we want the buffet.  I flagged down a waitress (hey, they were all women) and she said the buffet was chicken, mashed, gravy, salad, veg & bread for $7.50--and they were hand peeling potatoes and whisking white gravy and the fried chicken smelled great.  Score!  We waited.  In about 10 minutes every old person in the room (about 25) stood up and lined up.  (musta been a silent signal)  The line shuffled forward and heaped plates were brought to tables.  Oh mercy, it was good.  One of the waitresses' 12 year old granddaughter kept us entertained with her wry remarks about every one and every thing.  After a lovely meal we pushed on to Dickinson where we enjoyed an hour or so in the Dinosaur Museum, we even talked to the couple that collected 99% of the specimens.  Cool stuff, nice people.  We didn't really need much supper so we hit a Country Kitchen (meh) for and omelet for Durwood and salad and 1/2 a sandwich for me.  I was leery when I saw the NoDak Motel when we got to town.  It's behind an auto parts store across the road from the tracks.  But our room was clean and newly decorated.  Very nice.  Right now I'm waiting while the coffee in the office brews before we have a little cereal in the room and strike out for Montana.  On Tuesday we get to Yellowstone--finally.  It's far, really far.  I don't know why that's a surprise, I looked at the map a blue million times.  Oh, we're on Mountain Time now.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

While I Have Internet Access...

I thought I'd blog just in case the NoDak Motel in Dickinson doesn't have wi-fi.  Yesterday's drive was long but uneventful.  We switched drivers every 100 miles or so, naturally I had to go potty lots more than Durwood did.  But that also meant that we had to leave the interstate to find a potty--in Evansville.  Evansville, Minnesota that is.  It's really a one-horse town a couple miles off the highway, but there's a gas station with public restrooms, thank god.  Our Fargo motel isn't far off I-94 and there's a family (non-chain) restaurant right next door.  And a Kmart across the street where we bought Durwood a watch since he forgot his.  The coolest thing we saw was an eagle sitting on a snag in a little wetland right near Hwy. 29 just wet of Shawano.  It was so close I thought I could have petted it.  Well, kids, we've eaten our granola with milk and it's nearly my turn in the bathroom.  I'll try to be back tomorrow.  Time to drive!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

We're Off!

Well, almost.  I'm finishing the last banana and Durwood's having his last tomato on toast for a while.  Although I did pick all of the red and reddish tomatoes so they're in the van along with a saltshaker.  Don't want them to go to waste, do we?  No.  Most of the too much we're taking along is already in the van, all that's left is Durwood's suitcase (he likes to wait until the 11th hour just to ramp up the craziness, I think), the cooler (WI Cheese Tax cheese + clementines and grapes), Durwood's huggy pillow & fleece blankie, the backpack with all the cameras, and my blankie for wrapping up while sitting outside looking at the entire Milky Way overhead with no streetlights to fade anything out.  Ahh.  Tonight we'll be in Fargo, ND, then Dickinson, ND, then Silver Gate, MT, then Yellowstone!  See?  We'll be there in no time.  Now it's time for me to go finish my piece of coffeecake.  Adios, kiddos.

August 11--Union Porcelain Works, Oyster Plate.  Clarissa was always fascinated by the oyster plates in her grandmother's china cupboard.  Each plate looked like it was molded around four oyster shells and one scallop shell.  They there were snail shells and spiral shells and crab claws molded in, and one of them had a tiny red crab painted in one of the oyster shells.  Clarissa pretended to be a grown-up lady giving parties where she served her guests oysters but she always had cheese and crackers.  She had seen what oysters looked like when their shells were opened and no way was she eating one.  When she learned that you were supposed to slurp them down whole and raw she knew she'd never eat one as long as she lived.  Her brother Reggie left snails on her doll dishes and she knew she'd never eat them either even if they were called by a fancy French name.

And that's it.  It's time to relinquish the computer to Durwood so he can check the weather out West.  Woohoo!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Suitcases Are Upstairs

We're making progress.  We got our pills & supplements all organized in pillminders and zip bags this morning (can you say OLD?) and I've got the first load of laundry in.  I need to call Lucie to see when it's convenient for me to drop off the "sewing for dollars" bins (wonder if she pays on delivery... I forgot to ask), then I'm watching to see when the grass will be dry enough to mow while I try to decide what clothes to take.  Mowing HAS to get done today.  I've already asked DS to mow it the second week we're gone, I'd feel awful if I needed him to do it this week too. (the sun just broke out of the clouds... score!)  Although I am lending him Beverly... nah, that'd be mean.  He's got a much bigger yard to mow at his house and he's very busy.  Man oh man, did we get rain yesterday.  Just over 2" according to Pete Petoniak (he's the chief Channel 11 weather guy; I know you don't know him but I love saying his last name--Petoniak) and of course it rained the hardest when I had customers that I felt honor-bound to help carry tanks out to their vehicles.  Meh, I won't melt.  I mean, I'm sweet (at times... every once in a while... okay, rarely) but I'm not that sweet.  And I'm ripping an audio version of To Kill A Mockingbird into iTunes right now too (look at me multitasking) so I can put it in my iPod.  I don't know how much listening time I'll have but I want to have enough books on there so I don't run out.  The only annoying thing about syncing CD-based books onto the iPod is that doing so wipes off the ones I've downloaded from Overdrive (the Library's audiobook service) so then I have to make sure that I've still got checked out days left so that I can get the books I haven't listened to back.  (I just had a brainstorm--as long as the books in the laptop I can wait until I have listened to the loaded books before I upload it... I'm a genius, just ask me) It's a pain, and time consuming, but I'm willing because I lovelovelove listening to stories while I go about my work/sewing/knitting.  I never thought I'd be such a fan of non-paper books.  Guess I'm not a Luddite after all.  (Hmm, anything else?  Oh, yeah...)  Yesterday morning when it wasn't raining too hard I saw a hummingbird perched on top of the crook that holds the hummingbird juice taking a shower.  I watched as she let the rain hit her, then she'd fluff and shake, and wait for the next drops.  I got a picture!  Actually I got 2 but I'm only sharing one.  Cool, huh?  Today's Photo a Day theme is "ring."  This is Durwood's wedding ring.  He takes it off when he's cooking with raw meat or has to wash his hands a bazillion times and forgets to put it back on, so I have to pick it up and carry it to him, then I ask him if he'll marry me (again) and put it on his finger when he says yes.  He always does, and without hesitation too.  (man, I've got him fooled, don't I?)  

August 10--Egypt, Amenhotep III and his Mother, Mutemwia.  Every mother wants her son to do well.  Mattie was no exception.  She had sacrificed for him, listened at doors for him, done things she never in her wildest dreams imagined she would so that he could get ahead.  He realized it and appreciated her efforts.  She could tell.  At times he even seemed to listen to what she had to say.  Not that a woman could appear to have much power, no, not if she wanted to have things go her way.  She had learned to couch her orders in the form of suggestions.  Most of her sentences began with the words "you might want to."  She must have succeeded because he'd asked her to be standing behind him in one of his tomb paintings.  What an honor.

You are not going to believe it but I have room in that notebook for one more night's prompt writing and then I have to start a new one.  It just worked out that I get to start our great Western Adventure with a spanking clean notebooks.  Who says there's no such thing as fate?  Gotta get a move on.  Lots to do, lots to do.  Hasta la vista, babies.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Two More Days!

We only have to live through two more days and then we drive away into the sunset... literally.  Hey, we'll be driving westward for four straight days, that's into the sunset, isn't it?  It is.  Heh, cliches are cliches for a reason, and that reason is because they're true.  Some of the time.  Ol' Durwood's sleeping in this morning.  That's a good thing.  I got up to potty last night and he was up.  Wonder how long he stayed up?  I'm an excellent sleeper (an excellent sleeper, yes) and I don't usually notice his upping and downing through the night.  Now I may on the Western Adventure because most nights we'll have a queen bed instead of a king, but I'm guessing all that driving and fresh air will help him sleep better too.  Fingers crossed, otherwise there're going to be some long nights since he won't be able to get up, turn on a light, and watch TV like he can here.  It's also raining this morning, drizzling really, that's another good thing.  I feel sorry for the farmers.  We drove to Shawano on Sunday for supper and the corn, while green, looked wrong.  The leaves were pointing up and they were kind of curled in on themselves, not all arched and floppy like usual.  Only good for silage.  Maybe with the rain lately some of them can salvage a crop.  Oh, speaking of our trip, I want to say that I'm hoping to be able to post for the first few evenings if our motel has wi-fi, not going to take the time in the mornings, but once we're in Yellowstone and probably at the small ma & pa motels we're staying at there won't be wi-fi.  I'll keep trying but don't worry that we've driven off into a canyon or been trampled by a rutting buffalo (buffalo!), we'll be fine, just out of touch.  How am I going to cope with not being able to log on a few times a day?  How am I going to manage without my Lala to email back and forth with a few (zillion) times a day?  How is she going to make it two weeks without me?  Wait, wait, wait, we're all adults here.  We lived our first 50-ish years without email and cellphones and the internet (really?  was that really living?) we can manage for 2 short weeks that'll be over before we know it.  And then there'll be a week or so (actually it's two weeks, I checked the calendar) and I'll be off again to The Clearing for a week.  Woohoo!  I'm going to be a busy little girl for the next month and I won't be getting paid for any of the being away.  The moths in my wallet are going to starve.  Ah, well, I'm grabbing all the gusto while the grabbing's good.  And Mrs. Boss is going off diving in the Maldives at the end of September so I'll be working extra and making up a bit of what I'm losing by being away myself.  See?  It all works out, give and take.  I should have taken more than one bin of sewing to work yesterday.  It was dead quiet most of the day, I even called the shop phone with my cellphone to make sure it was working it was silent for so long.  The bin I sewed last night took longer because all those clothes still had their tags in them.  See, we take out the manufacturers tags and put in Lucie's tag.  Oh, don't fuss, it's legal and done all the time.  Most of the "private label" things are done that way.  Chill.  I've got one more bin to sew up tonight and then I can take them to Lucie tomorrow morning.  Then I get to spend the rest of the day packing so I can go to yoga & knitting tomorrow night.  I feel a little guilty that I'm not sewing like a crazy woman but I'm so close to being crazy already that I really don't have the psychic room to go crazy in that direction too.  Lucie & Tanya, I promise to sew like the wind and do nearly all of the next shipment.  Cross my heart.  I need space to get a little calm since it's my habit to FREAK OUT before we/I leave on a trip.  You think I'm calm and adventurous and organized, ha!, it's all a facade.  I'm jelly, it's too much to plan, too many variables to manage (control), and what if I forget something or we get lost or get behind in my schedule?  Huh?  Huh?  See?  Nutbar.  That should be my middle name.  Luckily I'm too stubborn to give into those base fears and forge ahead.  Luckily I married Durwood who can talk me off the ledge most of the time and gives me time to freak out and cry a little so I can be okay the rest of the time.  He'll hold my hand when I'm scared too.  I love him.  Okay.  Today's Photo a Day theme is "messy" and I had the perfect things to take a picture of.  It's the pile of car snacks that I'm amassing for nibbling in the car (duh) so we don't spend money on expensive gas station snacks.  A few bags of Aldi pretzels (which can give Rold Gold a run for their money. see? probably "private label"), some reduced fat Cheez-its, and almonds will keep the snack monster at bay.  Hmm, I think I'll toss all those in that lovely big bag lying there and take them to work so I can spend some of the quiet time counting out pretzels and crackers into single serving packs.  Good thinking, Barbara.  Plus it's raining.  As long as I don't eat too many of them...

August 9--George Bellows, Up the Hudson.  The river smells this time of year.  It's a slow mover anyway and on a hot August afternoon it smells of dead fish and sour mud that's too thick to pour and too thin to plow.  On this side of the tracks, in the narrow strip between them and the river that they call Dogtown, it's never dry.  The humidity rises off the slow moving river and seeps into the wooden houses.  Clothes feel damp when you put them on and even the food tastes like it has been wet too long.  Eda flung the water she'd used to scrub the restaurant floor out the back door.  The arc of it caught a thin ray of sun and flung rainbows onto the shed by the alley.  She stood transfixed as if diamonds had flown out of the bucket.

Okay, kiddies, it's off to the salt mines for me.  Fake Special K, a crossword puzzle, a few moments with Durwood, appropriate work attire (nothing to swank, it is a dive shop after all), and I'm out into the rain.  Oh, can't forget to pack my raincoat.  Wonder if Durwood has one?  Better check.  Toodle-oo!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Basically Obsolete

Did you know that not only can you no longer get travelers' checks at the bank and that most merchants don't even accept them anymore?  This was an unhappy surprise to Durwood yesterday when we went to the bank to get some.  He's too distrustful of debit cards, thinks if one's lost or stolen it'd be too easy for someone to drain our account (and he's probably right although the bank lady said we wouldn't be liable if that happened but you know it'd be a huge hassle), so we're taking a bit of cash and using credit cards for the rest.  It's hard (and slightly disorienting) to be yanked into the future like this.  I remembered hearing something about that a few years back but didn't pay it any mind because we weren't traveling, not big enough to need them at any rate, so it wasn't such a surprise to me, plus I roll with progress a bit easier than he does.  I got a call from Lucie yesterday afternoon and went over to get 4 bins of clothes that need labeling. My first job "sewing for dollars"!  (just what I need this week)  The good part was that her tiny baby was lying on a quilt on the floor buck nekkid just cooing and flapping her arms and legs and blowing raspberries when I talked to her.  (I miss babies.  I miss nursing them too.)  I also got a couple packages of extra bobbins so I don't have to reload one of the few bobbins I had.  They were even 30% off.  Good ol' Hancock.  So instead of watching "The War" on PBS or the Olympics last night I went downstairs and figured out how to sew in labels.  The learning curve was short and steep so within one or two garments I had a rhythm going and I also fixed all but one of the repairs (that one needs hand-sewing and I suck at that), and I've got thread, a notebook to record my time in, and my portable-est machine all ready to toss into Beverly (put into, not toss really, it's just an expression, tsk) to take to work.  Hey, if it isn't busy I might as well get some sewing done, right?  Right.  *nods confidently*  And maybe since she was there on Monday, maybe Mrs. Boss won't be there today so I won't feel self-conscious.  A-a-a-and DS is stopping in this afternoon to help me figure out how to upload my iTunes to my Kindle.  Amazon says you can but I can't or haven't figured it out and I'd like it done before we mosey away Saturday on our Western Progress, I reckon, y'all.  (no, no, Barbara, y'all's down South, not out West, geez)  I have GOT to stop staying up until midnight.  Six and a half hours is NOT enough sleep for me.  I'm too old to get by on that little, just one more hour would do me just fine.  This morning my eyes are burning and I have a dull headache (hmm, maybe I should take an Aleve... done)  Today's Photo a Day theme is "glasses" so I took this picture of my reading glasses on top of my prompt notebook on the nightstand.  I wish I was sleeping next to them right now.

August 8--Syria, Pyxis.  "It looks like a normal pottery cookie jar," Sheila said.  Elaine cradled the small ceramic as if it was her baby.  "It's really old, Sheel, really old and it still has its lid."  She ran her hand over it lovingly.  "Are you sure?" Sheila said; she shook  her head.  "We're in Goodwill, people don't usually give priceless antiquities to Goodwill."  Her friend pulled a couple sweatshirts off a rack and put them into the cart, then she nestled the jar and lid into the soft fabric.  "What was it used for?" Sheila asked.  Elaine smiled and said, "Oh, it's a funerary jar.  There used to be someone's ashes in there."  Sheila followed her toward the checkout.  "Remind me never to eat cookies at your house again."

Hey, it's August 8th today and that means it's my cousin Maureen's 61st birthday.  Even though I haven't seen her in a coon's age I remember.  Happy birthday, Maureen!  Hope it's a happy one.  Now I'm going to go eat some of my Aldi brand, ersatz Special K with red berries (meh), shower, and get my hinder to work.  Yay, work.  (As much as I'm looking forward to the next two weeks, I'm looking forward to being at The Clearing starting Sept. 8 even more.  Hey, that's only one month from today.  Hooray!  I could use a week's peace and solitude.  Really.  I love my life and the people in it, but I need a break.)