Monday, December 31, 2012

Now I Can Tell

It just killed me to not tell you about these.  I had the idea in late October, well, I found the online tutorials then.  I grubbed through my fabric stash to find I finally knew the reason I'd been buying small remnants of upholstery fabric all these years.  Then I had to choose a fabric for each of the eight people I wanted to make them for.  I didn't really take many pictures while I was making them since I was lucky enough to be able to take my sewing machine, etc. to work with me for cutting out and sewing.  I only had to buy the zippers for the dopp kits, I had all the other supplies on hand--velcro, batting, fabrics, and thread of course.  I really was intrigued by the travel tray because too many times I hesitate to remove my jewelry in a motel room because I'm worried it'll go astray.  They were a snap to make.  They're about 7" x 9" when they're flat.  You pinch the corners together to make a small tray for holding small things.  Oh, it's vital that you make the inside out of solid fabric so that no tiny earring gets lost in a busy print.


The dopp kits were a bit more of a challenge since the instructions were written for separating zippers instead of the standard zippers that I had.  It turned out to be lucky that I had to buy extra long zippers in the colors that I wanted so I could open them way up and mostly follow the directions.  I did not bind the inside seams as the pattern directed, that was way too much work and sewing gymnastics for me, I serged them.  

I used some of the travel trays as table favors at Christmas dinner and wrapped the dopp kits for Christmas gifts.  Naturally they coordinate.

Baby, It's Cold Outside

I went out on the front stoop to take a picture of the last sunup sky of 2012 (gasp! how time flies when you're having fun) and this is the best I could do with the row of perfectly clear icicles all along the front of the house.  It's supposed to be a whopping 3 degrees at the turn of the year and zero by 3 AM.  Good thing we're staying snug at home.  Yesterday was the day when DS & DIL1 & Porter, DD & DIL2, Durwood & I celebrated our family Christmas.  The girls got here on Saturday after slipping and sliding the last few miles in the 6+" of snow that fell on Friday.  Durwood made his very popular and super delicious Italian Wedding Soup with a zillion tiny meatballs and I made my almost as celebrated Mufaletta sandwich with a little assembly help from DD.  DS & DIL1 brought homemade guacamole, cream cheese with pepper jelly, and some veggies for game time snacks.  Oh, I simmered a package of turkey little smokies in a little Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ sauce for snacks too.  It was a feast!  St. Nick had left everyone's stockings hanging from the kitchen chairs (no mantle here) with tiny wind-up pets for all.  (St. Nick shopped the dollar bins at Michael's) The big pile of gifts had to wait while the table was cleared for a toy roundup and a little friendly robot war.  Funny how we all revert to childhood when really great (cheap) toys enter the room.  Gifts were doled out and opened and exclaimed over (look what DD made me! she made pretty napkins and a book!), then we ate, then the game started.  DD and I pulled out our knitting while the other four hollered the Packers almost to a win.  At least the loss didn't eliminate the Pack, they get to play the same guys (the dreaded, hated almost as badly as the Bears, Vikings) again next week, but this time it'll be here so I'll get a flyover which we all know is the only part of a football game that I like.  Porter was the perfect house guest, quiet and well behaved, not loud and hollering like her parents.  (did I say that?)  She had borrowed DIL1's Donald Driver t-shirt and wore her Packer collar but even her support couldn't rally the team in the end.  (I never wear team garb, not even just a bandanna to fit in. the only time I did that they lost the Super Bowl. lesson learned)  Today I think the girls plan to go on a Lambeau Field tour, eat deep-fried cheese curds and a burger at Kroll's, and go to Seroogy's for chocolates (DIL2 is well-integrated into the joys of the Frozen Tundra).  Durwood's planning to make ham & cabbage stew for supper.  I plan to stay out of everyone's way and play a hidden object game on the computer.  St. Nick gave everyone (but me, evidently I, uh, he can't count to 6) a game.  DD let me load hers into the Kumquat.  I can't stop playing.  Who knew these things were so addictive?  Help me!

December 31--Kyuichi Uchida, The Emperor Meiji, Kynichi Mutsuhito.  Blood sprayed in an arc across the photo album.  At least Mai thought the tiny, red brown spots were blood.  She remembered sitting on her grandmother's lap when she was very young hearing stories about the last days of the Meiji Emperor.  Grandma smoothed her hand over the photos as she spoke of royal audiences and parties with fantastic foods.

Let me just say that my brain seems to be turned off, at least the creative writing part.  I have high hopes for its reawakening in the new year.  I wish all of my regular readers and those who stumble over this rambling blog the happiest of new years.  Stay safe, stay warm, you are loved.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Simon Lagree of Meatballs

That's who my beloved Durwood turned into after supper last night.  DD & DIL2 had an errand to run and then gifts to wrap (how convenient!) so I was pressed into service in the meatball sweatshop.  (actually I volunteered so that the girls wouldn't have to run around like crazed weasels this morning)  I know these look like two pictures of the same pan of meatballs but they're not.  This is what 2 lbs. of ground meat makes when your sweatshop master makes you make teeny tiny meatballs.  Do you realized that tomorrow's the last day of 2012?  I can't believe it but I have to say I'm glad to see it go.  We spent too much time in doctor's offices this year but on the other hand we had one of the best vacations ever when we drove out to Yellowstone National Park where they keep the geysers and the buffalo roam.  BUFFALO!  I want one.  Mmm, maybe not, they're a bit large for my small yard although that segues nicely into today's Photo a Day theme which is "something that made you smile this year."  The aforementioned western vacation fits that bill perfectly.  We. Had. A. Blast.  And thinking about it still makes me smile.  Those two weeks were the gift to ourselves that keeps on giving.  Speaking of gifts (another boffo segue) today's the day we finally open our gifts.  Yay!  There's an enticing pile of gifts under the tree and more will come with DS & DIL1.  Prezzies!  Teehee, I love presents, but I'm really excited to give presents.  Porter's coming too but she already got hers.  I couldn't wait.  What's going to happen when I have a grandchild or two?  I'm going to turn into Mom--in the best sense of Mom because she was enchanting with her grandkids and they loved her (still do) for it.  Well, now I miss her a lot again.

December 30--Kyuichi Uchida, Kynichi Mutsuhito, The Emperor Meiji.  He is a sad cross between worlds.  Not of the new one, fleeing the old.  Modernity sits awkwardly on the shoulders built broad by epaulets hung with gold.  The table beside him draped with an embroidered silk cloth meant to be a kimono holds a most ridiculous admiral's hat foaming with ostrich feathers.  What an awkward straddle he faced, balancing progress with tradition.

Time to go eat breakfast (Fage yogurt & granola) to sop up the caffeine I feel coursing through my veins.  Onward!
--Barbara Sue

Saturday, December 29, 2012

A Parenting Reward

If you're a parent you seldom get overt proof that you did a good job.  Durwood and I got some last night.  DD & DIL2 were on their way from Lexington, KY and the closer they got to home the worse the roads were.  DD called around 9 PM from a motel room 45 miles from here to say that they were sorry, but they thought it would be safer to spend the night and come home this morning.  Whew.  I think both of us heaved a huge sigh of relief.  I went to knitting when they hadn't called to say they were close by 5 PM, and Durwood called me there to say that they were in Sheboygan (~60 miles away) around 7:45.  That means that they hadn't gone 20 miles in the intervening hour.  Holy crap.  The streets were awful from here to Harmony Cafe which is 3 blocks so driving up nearly the whole eastern side of the state along the lakeshore had to be one whale of an adventure.  And... they're here!  Be back later.  Much later.  After a short spurt of visiting, Durwood and I headed out to the gun show, then to the grocery, then to another shop, then home.  Short to write, long to do, we were gone about 4 hours to give the girls time to regroup from their long, stressful day yesterday.  DS, DIL1 and Porter stopped over to say hi to the girls and visit for a short time on their way to the grocery.  Now Durwood's cleaning beans and soon as I hit "publish" I'll be whipping up some cornbread so we can have ham, green beans and cornbread for supper.  Yum.

December 29--Filippo Lippi, Portrait of a Woman with a Man at a Casement.  Who is she, I wonder as I look at her there in sharp profile.  She bejeweled and beaded with her blond hair drawn back so tightly that it must hurt.  There's the barest hint of a smile on her small pink mouth, like she knows a good story she's willing to share.  Her eyes are heavy-lidded and steady, not looking to the side but straight ahead undistracted by the man half in the window opposite.  He stares straight ahead too, his features composed, mild.  They are so still and yet both are in red, the color of passion.  Perhaps they are keeping up appearances.

I'm sorry it's taken me all day to do this.  I had the best of intentions but I had to go out to snowblow the drive, then DD & DIL2 arrived, then the snowplow plowed me in but our neighbor TS came over and took care of it (thanks, TS! you're the best), then Durwood and I left... and well, it's been a busy day.  Hope yours was serene.  I'm hoping for serenity next weekend.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Feeling Better

Whew.  I'm still a little stuffy but nothing like I was a few days ago.  Even my cough has scaled way back.  *knock wood*  Evidently I snored like a buzzsaw last night (sorry, Durwood) and I was even wearing a Breathe Right so I can't do anything more about that.  Today I'll move Durwood's oxygen machine into our bedroom so that DD & DIL2 can have peace in the second bedroom so maybe it'll act like white noise and cancel out my snores.  I hope so.  On my way home from work last night I stopped at DS & DIL1's to see if Henny & Penny had laid any eggs.  They had.  Naturally I don't carry an egg carton with me so I slipped one egg into each of my spare gloves and brought them home just fine.  The brown one's from Penny.  I like the speckledy brown ones, they seem so homey.  I actually sold things yesterday!  Real pricey things like fins and cameras.  CAMERAS!!!  For at least a month we've had this next-to-newest-version digital underwater camera on the counter with an outrageously low price and, while people have looked at it, no one's bought one, not even for a Christmas gift.  Yesterday I sold one to a woman in Arizona over the phone (she's from here and going with Mrs. Boss to Roatan in January) and the other one to a guy who came in for an airfill.  Two in one day.  I don't think Mrs. Boss believed me when I said he was coming back with his credit card but he did and I sold it to him and he went away with it.  Another guy came in around noon to pick up 3 pairs of fins and 3 masks to demo in the pool and return today, so it seemed like I'd sold a big bunch of stuff but I didn't. (I don't get commission so it doesn't matter who sells things, I just hope to put my weekly salary into the till each day I work to kind of earn my keep, most of the time I can't see why they keep me except for convenience)  The camera & fins sales helped balance that empty feeling.  Mr. & Mrs. Boss came in for longer than seemed necessary.  She can't seem to just pop in, do whatever she means to do, and then pop out.  It's always at least an hour, usually more, yesterday was nearly 2 hours (or maybe it just felt that long), and then they bicker about things, mostly how long she's staying.  I try to stay out of the way but it's a small store so I end up leaning on the counter or sitting in back trying to be invisible.  It's snowing, just barely, but it's snowing and the girls are driving home today.  I know DD is experienced driving in snow but you can't rely on other drivers to be sensible.  I'm glad they'll be here for about 5 days.  It's not long enough but it's what they can manage and we're glad to have them.  Durwood's happily planning yummy meals and I'm, well, I'll change the sheets and tidy up a bit, but mostly I still feel kind of vague due to the cold so I'm happy to be awake and not excessively snotty.  And be off work all next week so I can spend lots of time with DD & DIL2.  (they'll probably be glad to leave to get away from me)

December 28--Jean Fouquet, The Right Hand of God Protecting the Faithful Against the Demons.  It was raining like God was evicting demons.  Great drops burst on the pavement, their splashes like lace tangles.  They fell so hard that they sounded like pounding feet.  Kay liked to sit on the porch when it rained.  She liked the cool drops that blew over her when the wind gusted but this was not an ordinary rain.  She wouldn't have been surprised to see toads and little silver fish bounce on the grass with the hard clear drops.  Not one car had driven down the street since the rain began.

I do not know.  I just write what comes and I'm glad when it does.  I'm even gladder when it makes sense but I'll take anything.  It's finally light enough to really see the softly falling flakes, no crashing drops, toads or little silver fish today, only soft, cold, and light flakes.  Have a good day, and may The Force be with you.


Thursday, December 27, 2012

Well, I Skipped Yoga

I stopped to tell Mardi I wasn't staying because I wasn't at all sure I'd be able to breathe through it and not cough up a lung.  I hate the cold stage where you have a coughing fit whenever you exert yourself.  Makes me crazy.  I had a couple customers yesterday, paying customers.  It took me a minute to remember what to do and how to work the cash register but I managed.  Guess what?  Tomorrow night DD & DIL2 arrive for a little visit.  Eeeee!  *pause for happy dancing*  Okay, I'm back.  That gives Indy and the rest of Indiana one day to get that snow and ice cleared up so the girls can pass through safely.  I intend to whisk DD off for lunch at HuHot one day since she was too far to whisk on my birthday and I really missed her. That also means we'll get to open presents on Sunday.  Yay, presents!  Did you get good presents?  What you wanted?  Did a lot of your family get together in a noisy, crowded scrum to eat and talk and exchange gossip and gifts?  I hope so.  God, it's dark outside.  Cloudy and gray and dim.  Makes me think that the "Song of the Volga Boatmen" should be playing in the background.  Or maybe what the Wicked Witch's guard sang when Scarecrow, the Tinman, and the Cowardly Lion peered over the rocks trying to get in to rescue Dorothy. (did you know that they're called Winkie Guards?  I didn't either.  silly name)  Now that I've listened to both it has to be the Volga Boatmen, it's that dreary out there.  Another thing I can't figure out is how come I was so sleepy late in the day that I nearly conked out at work and on the couch after supper but came to life around 10 PM and had the devil of a time falling asleep at 11 PM?  What's with that?  Is there a reset button that I can push around here someplace?  We looked out on Christmas Eve to see an Oriole at one of our feeders.  Orioles don't overwinter here so I posted a pic on Facebook to get some help with ID and to find out what food to put out for it.  Turns out it is an Oriole and I've got the right foods (mealworms & suet) out.  I emailed Cousin Mike yesterday because I was watching the Old Faithful cam, it was snowing real pretty, and I thought they should herd some buffalo into camera range, so I sent him a what I thought was a humorous, joking email.  This morning I got a very serious reply telling me who controls the cam and that I can call them.  I can see that it's been too long since anyone with a sense of humor has had a lot of contact with that boy.  I'll have to do something about it.  He's visiting his folks, I should call.  A light just when on--Mike's folks live in Indy, I need Indy cleared up so the girls can drive through tomorrow, I can call Mike to check if it's safe.  Brilliant.  Plus I can call DD and give her their phone number just in case they need it.  Safety first.  Also Be Prepared.  Someone who married an Eagle Scout and gave birth to another can't get away with being unprepared.  It gets to be a habit.  The last time I had to call 9-1-1 it was hard to be polite to the little girl on the other end of the phone reading out of her "dealing with calls" binder about what to do and how to take care of Durwood.  I take a thorough first aid course every 2 years, I know what to do, just get the paramedics here, dammit.  Well, that's what I wanted to say but I was very polite and calm and she let me hang up.  Whew.  Be polite, Barbara, people don't expect it.  (Durwood has COPD and every once in a while his torso muscles rebel about doing a lot of the breathing work and he gets terrible muscle spasms that are scary and make it even harder to breathe, so we call them to come help take him to the ER because when that happens it can be too much to walk to the car especially in the cold.)  I might dither over inconsequential things but I stay calm in emergencies.  Too much info?  Sorry, I ramble.

December 27--Arabian Peninsula, Figure of a Bull.  "Put your pencil on the number one dot.  Draw a line from there to the number two dot.  Continue connecting the dots until the design is complete.  Color if desired."  If only all of life was that simple, Shelly thought.  Just follow the dots, color if desired.  Yeah.  No one's throwing obstacles in your path or digging a trench for you to fall into in their little connect-the-dots world.  No one lights the page on fire while you're linking the dots just ahead of the flames.

Don't look at me, I have no idea where that came from.  Didn't last night while I was writing it either.  Okay.  I need to shower, eat, and go off to work, stopping to collect eggs first.  Great-grand-eggs!

--Barbara Sue

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas Is Hard On Knitting

I've barely knitted this last week.  I got to the heel of my striped stocking and lost steam.  I suspect that has something to do with the fact that a cold attacked me last Friday and sunk its claws in deep.

The second of the double thick cloths got finished Christmas Eve night.  I like the front...

but I love the back. 
Look at how those colors criss-cross!

 Last night after Christmas dinner at DS & DIL1's I cast on a third double thick cloth.  It took me a couple tries to get going (hey, I have a head full of mucous and Rizolli & Iles was exciting) but I finally managed to get my act together so I have something mindless to knit today here at work.

I Hate Having a Cold

We had a lovely dinner last night at DS & DIL1's house with her folks and I could barely taste it.  It must have been good because all of the plates got emptied very efficiently and the other people (whose taste buds aren't in a coma) made mmmm sounds a lot.  I am so glad that we can all be grownups and not fight over who gets to spend holidays with whom and when.  I don't really care if we celebrate anything on THE DAY, it's the being together with each other for a meal or just to laugh and enjoy each others' company that makes it a holiday for us.  I hope my taste buds come back online before Sunday when we have Christmas with our kids and their spouses.  Durwood's planning to set up the meatball sweatshop once again to make hundreds of tiny meatballs for Italian Wedding Soup and I'll make a muffaletta sandwich that I made last New Year's that was a big hit.  I hope I can taste them, even a little.  I get to work today.  Will there be customers?  I haven't got a clue.  It's one of those days when the clouds are so thick that it was still dark when I got up at 6:30; it's still dawn-looking out there and it's nearly 8:00.  Is it any wonder those Northern Europeans brood?  Oh, speaking of brooding  (smooth segue, don't you think?), I get to go gather eggs tomorrow on my way to work or home, depending on whether I leave early enough because DS & DIL1 will be in Shawano for a couple days.  If they leave eggs in there too long Henny & Penny will eat them and as DIL1says, that's a waste.  Plus you don't want them to get into the habit.  The other day I went to the birdseed store and asked one of the clerks to help me find "gifts for my grand-dogs, grand-cats, and grand-chickens."  A lady about my age standing in the checkout line with her husband snorted out a laugh so I turned to her and said, "hey, you work with what you've got until they make babies."  She nodded and said, "true" so I got some doggy treats, kitty treats, and a small bag of scratch which turns out to be the exact right thing to buy for chickens in the winter as it raises their metabolism so they stay warmer and they love it.  Go, me!  One of my perfect finds at Goodwill on Sunday was a round plastic keeper to hold the scratch for less than three bucks.  Go, Goodwill!  I'm kind of planning to go to yoga after work.  I wonder if I'll be able to do poses or will I just sit in child's pose and try to breathe?  I'll see.  This cold makes me tire easily.  I hate having a cold.


Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas to All!

I was kind of hoping for a Christmas miracle to wake up without this damned cold but nope it's still here.  I keep going outside to do stuff like shovel trying to freeze it out but that hasn't worked.  It does make me feel a little better and it makes me tired so I rest a bit more.  Durwood thinks I should rest A LOT more especially with a cold but I'm pretty stubborn (no one's surprised, right?) and I don't like to rest.  I'm content to sit down and do stuff like sew or knit, surf the web or even read but just sit and zone in front of the tube?  No thanks.  I am trying to stay away from Durwood because he doesn't need a cold on top of his chronic lung adventures.  We exchanged sweet cards and a kind of glancing hug this morning, he's even sleeping in the other room until this is over.  The coolest thing is that we both wrote in our cards how we are each glad that we have had the other as a partner in all the adventures, good and bad, over the years.  We do have fun together, even when he's being totally goofy and I'm dithering.  I forgot to have a little Boilo last night and settling into a good sleep was a bit of a trick so you can bet I won't forget tonight.  I got all the presents wrapped and I was right, it's a pretty paltry pile this year but that's alright, it's the time we spend together not the gifts, plus I'm really excited about the gifts I got everybody.  I feel like I hit more than one homerun.  I had to stop myself from counting how many packages each "kid" had.  Do you do that?  Did you when your kids were small?  I hate that I do, I don't remember counting to see who got more when I was a kid.  Although I can't have been as perfect a kid as I remember being.  Can I?  Nah, probably not.  If Mom were still around she'd tell me that I was, though, I know she would.  I am totally excited to be within a week of finishing the Maple Tree Scarf I started on last New Year's Day.  I made a ridge of garter (knit down and back) every day echoing the look of the maple tree out my window, so it's brown and black and every leaf color from palest spring green to the last gold of autumn, and I am so ready to be done with it I can't tell you.  It's gorgeous and very long, over 100" the last time I measured sometime in November, so I'm not sure how I'll wear it but you can be sure that I will at least once.  No fringe, though.  Oh, hey, I just got a text from CH that their new granddaughter, Nora Grace, arrived this morning at 7:15, 6 lb. 13 oz., 19" long.  Now that's a Christmas present.  I teased her that I was a bit disappointed that they didn't call her Baby Jesus but I truly don't think she even heard me.  This is their very first grandbaby and I do think CH would have shared carrying her if she could have.  Thank god the baby came a little early, I don't think CH could have stood to wait much longer, but too bad she came on Christmas.  I've always felt sorry for Christmastime babies.  Maybe they'll celebrate her half-birthday on June 25th just so she gets a separate day--and a full complement of presents.  Welcome, Nora Grace!

December 25--Peter Paul Rubens, Rubens, His Wife Helena Fourment and One of Their Children.  He is old and has eyes only for her.  She is young and beautiful, and worried that the little one is misbehaving.  He hold her arm as if to draw her attention.  Is he sorry the child is there?  Behind her the red and blue macaw terrorized a rosebush.  At first it seems an idyllic scene but look closer  and reality rears up and off the canvas.

My head's filling up again.  Time to do something about that.  Have a wonderful day.  Hug someone you love, even if it's yourself.
--Barbara Sue

Monday, December 24, 2012

Goodwill Was A Gold Mine

I do love Goodwill.  I found EXACTLY what I was looking for yesterday, even something fabulous that I wasn't looking for, and I don't think I spent $15. (no, you can't see, it's presents)  I made the Boilo.  It smelled great in the crockpot, well, it couldn't help it with oranges and lemons, spices and honey.  It simmered for about 3 hours then I strained out the liquid, which was exactly the amount the recipe said it would be, mixed in the whiskey and tried it.  Blammo!  It was warm and boozy and... it needed something.  So I perused the other 3 recipes I had printed off and discovered one that called for ginger ale.  I had an old can of that kicking around so I sloshed half a can in and that did it.  We have these tiny, thimble-sized cordial glasses that look like beer steins so I filled one up and sipped away.  Then I had another.  Then I thought we'd better have supper so I heated up the leftovers.  (I love having leftovers, don't you?  it's so easy)  After eating I slumped on the couch knitting (a dishcloth, not something complicated--friends don't let friends knit drunk, er, impaired) and watching some unsatisfying show about Yellowstone on Discovery.  It had good scenery but someone had evidently gotten a new x-ray machine so they x-rayed the caldera to delineate the magma chamber, wolves to find some sort of blood-sucking mites (ick), a peregrine falcon (I want one) to figure out how it flies so fast so they can apply the info to making airplanes, a mouse-eating rattlesnake (sort of ick but kind of cool), and... and something else but I kind of fell asleep right at the end.  Then I took my sick and slightly boozy (hey, I'm the world's cheapest date) self to bed.  I slept great but all my "medicine" stopped working around 6 AM so I woke up coughing and needing a nose blow. (that's a great good morning, don't you think?)  Here it is, Christmas Eve, and it's snowing a light slow snow.  It looks pretty but I prefer the sunshine but I suspect that I blew all my powers on the storm last week so I won't be able to push the clouds out of the way all on my own.  That's okay, I don't think I need to go out today.  All I need to do is wrap gifts.  WRAP GIFTS!  I know I'm going to look at the paltry pile and think I need more for everyone but I'm saying it right now that what I have is enough (mostly I'm saying it to myself, you understand), bigger piles don't mean you love them more, Barbara Sue, it will be enough.  E. Nuff.

December 24--Iran, Nishapur, Chess Set.  At first they looked like fingertips.  Sheila brushed away the soil to expose the rounded tops.  The first ones she found were brown, they looked like skin that had been in a marsh or bog but there were no...

That's it.  Once again the cold won and I conked right out.  Sorry about that, dudes.  Are you going "over the river and through the woods" today?  We're staying put and going to DS & DIL1's for Christmas dinner, then DD & DIL2 will arrive on Friday.  It's nice to be old enough to be the destination.  Have a merry Christmas Eve.  Have a cookie and some nog for me.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

I Hab A Code

Dammit.  I was fending it off pretty well until Friday when things evidently went to hell.  I woke up Saturday feeling... okay, but by mid-afternoon it was evident that the mental powers that I used to bring the snow I wanted was toast to the virus that wanted to overtake me.  By suppertime I decided to skip eating and spent the evening on the couch under a lap robe reading a real paper book (retro!) with a pot of tea beside me.  (oh, I should have put the tea cozy on the pot, that would have kept the tea warmer, wouldn't it?  *head, slap* I blame the germs for making me stupid)  I need to get this posted so I can go out back to fill the birdfeeders and wait for the flyover before the Packer game.  I think it'll be helicopters, 2 flew over in formation earlier on the standard flyover path.  I want to ride in a helicopter, and not a Life Flight one with DS's friend PT hovering over me either.  Are you ready for Christmas to come?  I might be.  I need to lay out all the presernts on the bed today, start the wrapping, and fill in any gaps.  Good thing Goodwill's close, eh?  Don't knock it, I find lots of cool things there, and not always used stuff either.  I'm also cooking up a batch of Boilo, a traditional Pennsylvania coal region Christmas drink, that sounds like just the thing to knock out my cold--or make me forget I have one.  I'm not much of a drinker so a thimblefull will probably knock me on my ass so I won't care that I have a cold.  It has to be good for me, it has lemons and oranges and raisins and honey and spices and whiskey, and some recipes have fresh ginger too.  That's all good stuff.  It should make me feel all better.  I'll report later--if I can still feel my fingers after a "dose."  I found quite a few family boilo recipes on the web and I'm using the crockpot one because it makes the least and also... crockpot... anything made in the crockpot's bound to be good.  I went downstairs and dug out all of the dusty bottles with about an inch of whiskey (leftover from Durwood's parents and God only knows what else) and poured them into a measuring cup until I had the required amount.  What?  Whiskey's whiskey, right?  It shouldn't matter if I've blended different brands, some of it was labeled blended already, I just reblended it.  On CBS Sunday Morning today they did a story about Placido Domingo who is just about the best opera tenor ever, and they showed a clip of the original Three Tenors concert broadcast.  Did you know they only did it because they were all such avid soccer fans and then they got to go to the World Cup games in 1990?  Can you imagine them telling their wives, "honey, I have to go, it's business."  Yeah, right.  I remember watching the concert on PBS with DS & DS when they were in middle school and having so much fun seeing the tenors as real people (Pavoratti was chewing something, gum maybe, Carreras had caterpillar eyebrows that he used to great effect, and Domingo was familiar as Placido Flamingo from Sesame Street).  I'm playing the Three Tenors Christmas cd as I write this.  It's beautiful and I love Pavoratti's fractured English.  I know, I'm sick, but despite my lack of high-toned appreciation I do love listening to them.  I get the benefits of "culture" despite my pedestrian attitudes.

December 23--Bronzino, Portrait of a Young Man.  "You can sure tell that he thought quite a bit of himself," Carla said.  Nell nodded.  "I'd rather be looking at a young Italian man today.  In Italy.  Right now."  Her clipped words made Carla turn to look at her.  "What?"  Carla said.  Nell shuffled her feet on the worn terrazzo floor and looked everywhere but directly at her friend.  "Oh, nothing," she said, shaking her head.  "Well... I think we should go to Europe, especially Italy, in the spring."  She wrung her hands and peeked out from under to her lashes to see what impression her words had made.  Carla folded her arms.  "Why spring?"  "Late spring, after it stops raining and things green up and bloom," Nell said, her words coming faster and faster.  "We could do one of those wine tours or a culinary tour.  You know you like Italian food and we need to get out of our ruts."

Zzzzzzzz.  That's how that went last night.  Just now I went out, filled the feeders, watched 2 great big, bright orange, Coast Guard helicopters make their stately way across the sky, and it is gorgeous out there, cold and sunny and windless.  I'm going to love running around doing errands in that clear sharp air.  I've got the Vince Guaraldi cd in the car.  Charlie Brown Christmas music, yay!  I'm off!
--Barbara Sue

Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Snow Was Worth It

My writing pal, Lala, came to stay for the night and we went out to the botanical garden to visit the Festival of Lights.  I splurged on wagon ride tickets too, which was a good thing to do but a not so good platform for night digital photography.  That meant that after our ride we walked the same trail (what a pity) and then went through the caterpillar and around the upper garden displays.  It was a cold, clear night with a half-moon, a light wind, and lots of happy people tromping around in the dark.  I think the most surprising display, tucked in a dark spot off the main path up near the herb garden, was a planter with a ball of lights no bigger than a basketball hanging under an arch that had 2 cylinder things on it.  I couldn't imagine what those cylinders were, they looked like lights but obviously weren't.  Lala very cleverly bent down to look closer and discovered the viewing lens.  "Babbums, it's a kaleidoscope!" she said and we were hooked.  I even managed to take a picture of the view.  Whee!  Inside there was a real Santa (hey, he looked like the real deal to me) and a model train display.  It was so much fun; the place was crowded with people of all ages all bundled up and smiling.  Too rare in this day and age.  I'm putting on lots of pix and I didn't write again last night.  Hey, we had company and stayed up too late.  Time to think about wrapping a few gifts.  Or maybe take a nap.

--Barbara Sue

Friday, December 21, 2012

Dodged The Worst Of It

We only got 7.7" of snow from snowstorm Draco/Brianna.  Darn.  Barely half of what they threatened... uh, predicted for us.  The good part was that driving home after work last night wasn't too bad.  Everyone was taking it pretty easy and since a lot of people were smart and stayed home there were a lot fewer cars to dodge so I got home without playing bumper cars with anyone or even coming close.  It stayed close to freezing, warm for this time of year, and that kept the snow total down and kept the roads passable.  I had one customer-like visitor just as I heated up my lunch soup (of course).  It was a "regular" looking for fins that will fit over his drysuit boots.  We talked about which ones have the roomiest foot pocket and debated the merits of split vs. paddle fins but he didn't buy anything.  It was a thrilling moment in an otherwise dull day.  The mail carrier lady looked like a drowned Yorkie and the FedEx man was laconic and actually chatty.  I was riveted to the Old Faithful Cam on the web most of the day while I tag-teamed the 2 knitting projects I had with me.  (I do better if I have two projects I can shift back and forth on than if I have one to concentrate on.  ADD, I'm sure... oh look, a chicken!  *drops her knitting and wanders off*)  For a time there was a small herd of bison grazing in sight of the cam and there are bundled up people that walk by.  Wonder what it'd be like to spend Christmas in Yellowstone.  You know that Mike closes the roads, right?  So the only way in is by snowmobile or snow coach.  I suppose you could ski or snowshoe in too.  Snowshoes!  I need to go to knitting tonight to see if I can't make a date with Kathy to go snowshoeing one day soon.  I'm probably so out of shape I can only go 50 feet but I still want to get out there and clomp around.  Stupid sore throat has migrated to my ears this morning.  I've got Zicam and lozenges and chicken soup for lunch and I'm trying to drink lots of fluids.  A good tromp around the botanical garden tonight may be just the medicine I need to fend these germs off.  Germs, virus, whatever, I just want them gone.  Durwood has an appointment with the peepee doctor this morning and I am certain that he is not looking forward to having to go out in the cold and snow but we'll go, it'll be fine.  He can complain through it.  I can endure.  And then Lala will come in the afternoon and we'll go to see the Festival of Lights at the botanical garden after supper.  Yay!  I'll take lots of pretty pictures to show you.  Cross my heart.  I didn't write last night.  I was tired and this cold's getting me down.  I was surprised to see when I put the shade up earlier that someone shoveled us out before I woke up this morning.  Thanks, whoever did it, probably LJ.  I need to take a shower and do all that other morning stuff.  I don't wanna but I'm gonna.  If Draco/Brianna has come to visit you, stay safe, drive slowly, and watch the geyser cam.  Oh, and eat Christmas goodies--isn't there a law about that this close to the day?  I'm sure there is.

--Barbara Sue

P.S.  Happy Solstice... and I'm glad that the Mayans were wrong.  Still here!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Today It Worked

As soon as my lunch soup was hot a customer came into the store which was a big surprise since we're having a snowstorm today.  Yay.  Not.  I mean I know I said a while back that I'd like a snowy winter, but I don't want it all in one day and we're supposed to get 10-14" before this ends, and the wind is slated to pick up, making this a true blizzard.  Good thing I got snowblower gas on my way home from work yesterday.

I've been making good progress on the red & gold striped xmas stocking.  I got to the heel yesterday and left my knitting bag at work for today.

Naturally I couldn't not knit last night after supper.  So I got out the double-thick washcloth pattern, the old metal needles, and the giant skein of yellow, orange, and pink cotton.  I've been interested to see how the colors blend and pool so it was no great hardship to cast on.

The other yarn I can't wait to knit up into a double cloth is this lone skein of Plymouth Jeannee.  I do love me some variegated yarn.