Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The End of Days

For 2013, anyway.  Good lord, can you believe it's New Year's Eve already?  The year flew by again.  I think I pay attention, don't let days and times just flit by unnoticed, but here it is, a new year ready in the starting blocks and me without my running shoes, startled by the starter's pistol.  (huh, that last bit could be a very short New Year's poem)  And it's still bitter cold.

Much of 2013 has been consumed with grandbaby anticipation, finding out on Mother's Day made the rest of the year a blur of knitting tiny things and concern that DIL1 was feeling okay and doing well and "how many more months/weeks/days?"  A few dog-walking days stand out as particularly beautiful and I really enjoyed my week at The Clearing in May.  Our October trip to visit DD & DIL2 in Lexington, RJ & K in Greenville, SC, and Aunt B & PR in Wilmington, NC made two weeks of 2013 fly by.  It was so much fun to see them all, go to the harness races, see hot air balloons at night, and go for a boat ride on the intracoastal, plus drive through Virginia and West Virginia mountains in the autumn, then have supper with Aunt G & Uncle W on the way home.  Relatives, woohoo!  Let's hope that 2014 brings a new baby (soon, please), continued good-ish health for both of us, and happiness for all.  You too, you're part of my "all."  Just saying.

I had a few customers yesterday and in between I managed to knit another finger and a half on my glove.  See?  I am so impressed with myself that I can make fingers, I can't begin to tell you.  The knitting guild's having a design contest and the deadline's the April meeting so I've got to get on the stick putting ideas to paper.  I have ideas and I've been gathering stitch dictionaries and patterns that I can play off of, I even printed off some knitting graph paper so I can start mapping out my ideas,  I dug out all my random skeins of tweed yarn (I"m a big fan of tweed) so I'll get some needles that might work (probably smaller than the ballband says; I'm a loose knitter) and get to work swatching.  No, I'm not making a glove, well, not exactly, you'll just have to wait and see.

I have to say that the lentil, ham, and kale soup I made on Sunday is possibly the BEST SOUP on the PLANET.  I used a recipe I got from Cook's Country.  See, they send me an email every week with a few recipes (it's really a ploy to get me to sign up and pay for access to their member's website but I'm not paying 32 bucks a year for recipes and gadget reviews; we already get the magazine) that I pin on Pinterest if they intrigue me.  Anyway, they had this lentil soup recipe a few weeks back and I'm a big fan of lentil soup (pea soup and bean soup, not so much) and they worked out that if you saute the lentils with the onions, etc. they don't burst and mush up.  They recommend whirring 2 cups in the blender before adding the ham and kale (which I doubled) so it's a bit thick and not so broth-y but I just stuck in the stick blender (I love that tool) and whirred for less than a minute to similar effect.  It was the perfect vehicle for a ham bone and a piece of ham butt that had overstayed its welcome in the freezer (not freezer burned or spoiled, just getting a bit old); it made good soup, no, it made GREAT soup.  And Durwood's not a fan of lentil (or bean or pea) soup so I get it all.  Teehee.  *rubs hands with glee*  I should probably freeze some for later work lunches.  Yeah, I'll do that.  I need to call Amazon because my Kindle's very slow to charge, not slow to lose charge, I hope it's not busted and I have to send it in.  I love my Kindle, I use it all the time, I don't want to send it in.  Maybe I can get a loaner?

I couldn't write to the prompt last night.  It was another Gauguin and I have such a prejudice against him perving around in Tahiti painting bare breasted girls, because they are girls, not women, I just can't get past it.

Durwood's up and has a chiro appointment today so I'd better get my own breakfast and I want to see if I can't thaw out the driver's side back door on Beverly because it's stuck shut again.  Grrr.  Maybe I'll park it in the garage while we run errands and see if that helps it thaw out so I can spray the hinge with silicone and maybe fix it.  Cars.  Grr.  Have a... day and keep warm.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Welcome to the Deep Freeze

I just looked at the thermometer that lives in the windowsill--it's zero, a nice, fat, round ZERO degrees out there.  Oh, excuse me, it's 0.1 degrees, it warmed up.  Durwood wanted to know if we still have the space heater so I can take it to work with me but I assured him that there's one there and I'll take a lap blanket to foil any drafts under the desk plus I'll be wearing all manner of warm and woolly garb, and I have a lot of it.  I remembered to dial up the warm and turn the car fan on High when I moved it into the driveway yesterday so I can remotely start the car before I leave so it warms up a bit.  I promise to remember, cross my heart.  I just heard that the wind chill is -34; I didn't really need to know that.  Oatmeal for breakfast today and lentil soup for lunch.

DS and DIL1 came over to exchange gifts yesterday around noon.  I got an Amazon gift card and Durwood's is for Cook's Corner (danger!  danger, Will Robinson!) both of which are exactly right.  We can't wait to decide what goodies to buy.  They liked their gifts too.  The biggest gift for all of us (but especially for DIL1) would be the end of the baby-wait, which doesn't seem to be coming anytime soon.  Porter came over too, she was ecstatic about the squirrels at the feeders and birdbath.  She had her ears and tail at attention and ran from patio doors to living room as if to say, "hey, you guys, there's critters out there" and "can they come in and play? can I go out??"  She even barked once, and she NEVER barks.  She barks so seldom that I know that was the third time I've heard her, it was the first time for Durwood.  In about fifteen minutes she tired herself out with excitement and had to lay down for a snooze.  Too funny.  I'd made some pumpkin vanilla pudding for a snack which turned out pretty darned good.

I made lentil & ham soup with kale for lunches in the afternoon and goofed off reading or listening to books the rest of the time.  It was that kind of day.  Oh, I folded a basket of clean laundry and put it away.  Didn't break a sweat, didn't sew, didn't knit, just chilled.  Ahhh.  A goldfinch stopped by the feeder and I was amazed to see that it was actually bright yellow under its chin.  Usually they're a brownish yellow this time of year, must be confused.

December 30--Walker Evans, Floyd and Lucille Burroughs on Porch, Hale County, Alabama.  Cele had to have a porch.  She felt like a porch was a buffer between herself and the world.  From her porch she could watch the comings and goings of the neighbors.  Once the weather warmed up she practically lived out there.  She had her rocking chair and she'd hired an electrician to put a ceiling fan up for the days when the breeze came from the east.  One of the neighbor kids started coming over with her book and settling in the swing on hot summer afternoons.  The two of them rarely spoke but sat in companionable silence sipping glasses of tea and traveling in their imaginations.

It's time to stir up a cauldron of oatmeal so I can survive the trip to work.  We set a new temperature record overnight, -19 degrees!  Woohoo, go us!  Makes zero seem almost balmy.  Maybe I'll wear an extra layer of socks.  Bundle up.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Some Quilt-y But Not All

I spent most of the day down there wrangling strips and stripes of fabric and adding to the layer of thread schnipples on the floor but I didn't get to the point where I'm ready to put what I made together into something resembling a quilt top.  My purpose was to head toward something "modern" to stretch my innate Germanic "right"-ness senses, to make something colorful and chaotic but quilt-like, sorta.  I had a bunch of swaths (there's just no better word) of random strips sewn together months ago when I first felt the urge to branch out into uncharted territory and then stashed in a bin to wait.  I bought a quilt book, a free-form quilt book for my Kindle and have read through it and read the pictures a bunch, so I thought I kind of had an idea.  It was very hard for me to not use the ruler to cut sections of those swaths but I did my darnedest to not ruler the hell out of my cuts, and I used other random strips left from the swath sewing to separate the pre-sewn pieces.  I realized when I was telling Durwood about what I was doing at supper that I was still letting my innerHitler have a hand in my work when I told him that while I was just sewing pieces together in ways that pleased me I was also trimming the blocks to a uniform size, a big uniform size (9 1/2" X 20-ish"), but they're all pretty much the same size, so I decided that what I'm making is blocks of chaos.  I started the sixth block after supper but got kind of lost in a diagonal cut and had to quit for the night.

Oh.  I just laid out the 5 blocks I finished on a dark background and took their picture to show you.  I like them much better this morning than I did last night AND I think I actually shut my innerHitler up for the making.  Now I feel like I can make another one--or bazillion--blocks this way and appease that nagging voice going on and on (and ON) about cutting things even and matching up seams and sewing straight and making things match or blend.  Those of you who know that I rarely wear matching socks (except when it's cold and I wear my extra warm socks) and don't really follow fashion or color rules in knitting might be surprised at how hard I have to work to be independent and "creative" that way but it's a struggle that actually makes me a little queasy.  I'm determined (my Germanic ancestors marching in straight rows back to infinity) to step off the "should" path and frolic in the messy and creative weeds over here.  Woohoo.

December 29--Walker Evans, Floyd and Lucille Burroughs on Porch, Hale County, Alabama.  Too many generations of feet had smoothed the floorboards on the porch.  Floyd's mama says they were that way when she was a girl and that the pine smell of the wood only rose on long rainy days in spring when  everything smelled like it'd grow.  Lucille, they called her Cele unless she was in trouble, mostly lived on the porch.  She sat out there to hull butterbeans or shell peas, and if she had a book to read that's where she'd read it.  Books were rare in Hale County.  The school had a few but they wouldn't let them out and the library had them, of course, but the Burroughs didn't belong and wouldn't be welcome if they did.

Okay, it's time for CBS Sunday Morning and I'm not missing it, not even for you.  Stay warm today, we're supposed to have falling temps all day, big wind, and maybe make it into the single digits by tomorrow.  I love my wool socks.


Saturday, December 28, 2013

Gonna Sew Today

That's my plan, anyway.  Sewing something patchwork-ish quilt-y (but not cutesy picture-y) has been on my mind for the last few days--so today's the day.  No appointments to be attended to, no errands that I can see looming on the horizon, if Durwood wants to go errand I'll move my car but otherwise you'll find me in the basement sewing studio adding to the thread schnipples on the floor and listening to an audiobook.  It's probably time to get my nails done but that I can do tomorrow during the game now that I've changed to a salon that's open on Sunday.

I got the lotion and lip balms all labeled yesterday and some of each bagged to give to the Friday Night Knitters.  All but one of them was hoping I'd bring some since that's what I gave them last year but SM just started coming this year.  She pulled out a lip balm tube and said how she used lots of balm but "never this brand" so I told her (and MW backed me up) that I'd made it all.  She was amazed and immediately tried both the lotion and the lip balm, making mmm-ing sounds as she did.  Score!  She'd brought more cheesecake pie in case someone was there that didn't get any last time so she had extras which meant that I had to bring another share home.  Pity.  As happened last time, it didn't survive the night or even the hour after I arrived home.  Durwood's such a big helper with getting rid of that sort of stuff.

Still no baby.

I love watching the morning traffic at the feeders, and have noticed that all trails through the snow lead to food.  There're more mourning doves this morning, maybe because there's more seed on the ground, and yesterday the hawk zoomed through but didn't stop long enough to eat, just long enough to scare the birds into hiding.  Didn't go looking for trees to junk pick yesterday, maybe tomorrow which I figure might be a better option since it's the weekend and maybe people take their tree down then or do you think they wait until after New Year's?  I don't know, I'll find a couple soon, but not if I don't cruise the neighborhood.  I'll use Durwood's van; it's waaaaay bigger than Beverly (more like the QEII than a car) so it'll hold more trees.  I sometimes feel like it should have an air horn.

December 28--Maurice Brazil Prendergast, A Woman Passing a Cafe.  Celia felt their eyes on her as she passed by, those idlers, who took up half of the seats in The Republic cafe nursing a single coffee while regaling each other with tales of bad bosses and motivations misunderstood, gave her the creeps.  She hated how their hot eyes cut her way when she stopped in for a scone to have with her tea when she got to the office.  Once one of them had asked where she was hurrying off to and her answer of "to work" had shamed him into silence.  She seldom went in anymore, and if the bus had stopped somewhere so she could get to the office by another route she'd never go there again, at least not on a week day.

I really like the colors of the fish ornament I bought in Aunt B's favorite "lifestyle" shop in Wilmington, don't you?  It reminds me of the fun we had driving all over the map in that southeast direction in October.

I'm outta here.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Crafty Days

I've been making things and wanting to make more.  Yesterday I whipped up a double batch of my favorite aloe & cocoa butter lotion--that didn't set right.  Grr.  Of course it was already in the jars (I put the hot liquid into the jars right away because it's so easy to do it when it's liquid-y) so after supper I spatula-ed it back into two Pyrex measuring cups and reheated it, re-stick-blendered it, and poured it into a couple 16 oz. pump bottles to use after my shower to keep my skin from being Death Valley dry, and made more.  See, I thought I'd be all smart and haul out my expensive electronic scale and measure each ingredient carefully, which would have been fine if I'd make 2 single batches, but the measuring cup was way too full for it to get near boiling in the microwave, I even poured it all into a big Pyrex bowl but evidently didn't reheat it enough.  No biggie.  I just remade it using my original "spoon" measurements and made 2 separate batches.  Worked like a charm.  I don't usually fragrance that lotion but this time I put in a dab of grapefruit, it smells so fresh.

Then I whipped up a couple batches of lip balm--honey and clove, two of my favorite flavors.  I was tempted to make more, a lot more, flavors--lime and lemon and plum and mango and maybe cinnamon--but I don't have that many tubes... although I could make half-batches... no, because I'll already spend the whole afternoon labeling the 52 tubes I have.  Tonight's knitting night so I'll make a little goodie bag for each knitter with lotion and lip balm.  All of us forgot last week.  (Maybe a rash of brain farts among middle-aged women.)

No grandbaby yet.

Later today or tomorrow I have GOT to go out and rake down the snow eyebrows across the front of the house.  It's supposed to be in the balmy high-20s or low-30s for the next couple days before the deep freeze arrives with Monday (because I have to go back to work, I am sure) when it's supposed to hit a high of 5 degrees (if we're lucky, that's the high estimate).  Good thing I got more warm wool socks from Durwood for Christmas and my case of toe warmers came last week.  I already have a whack of longies and turtlenecks and sweaters and wool shawls and scarves to keep warm at work.  I'm thinking of cruising the neighborhoods to see if anyone's tossed out a Christmas tree yet.  I need a couple for the birdies to stay warm in the rest of the winter and I'm too cheap to buy them, I'd rather junk-pick them.  I'll need some dollar store peanut butter so the seed sticks to the branches too, and I should go buy some more seed while I'm out and about (now that the returners have cleared out).  The sparrows are still bathing with enthusiasm and much splashing even in the cold temps.  They're not sane.

December 27--Egypt, Statuette of Anubis.  Dierdre opened her eyes and stared into the unblinking ones of the jackal-headed god.  The wooden grave statue hand its hand up as if to say it meant no harm but she wasn't reassured.  A section of the corridor had fallen and trapped her in this antechamber.  She was certain that someone was working to dig her out, unless the collapse had been bigger than she imagined and she was the only one left alive.  No, she had to keep hold of herself.  Of course they were working to free her.  Dr. Hawas would be pacing back and forth at the shaft entrance as if he could move the rubble by force of mind.  It occurred to her that it should have been pitch dark in the chamber but the room was filled with a faint light.  She turned slowly around examining every wall for a crack or hole that light could penetrate.

Time for lunch and then labeling.  Hasta la vista, babies.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Enough Already

I've been outside shoveling or snowblowing every day this week, at least once a day.  I say "enough already!"  I'm tired of having to bundle up and broom the snow off my car so I can move it out and clear the driveway.  When we got home from DS & DIL1's yesterday afternoon the plow had come through and I needed to snowblow our half of the street.  *sigh*  That did keep me from having a giant plow drift to deal with at the end of the driveway but clearing half of the road wasn't in my Christmas Day plans.  I went next door down the hill and helped MM clear their driveway of the plow drift so I figure I tempered my resentment with a good deed.  *whew*  I bought that wreath for a buck at Walmart on Christmas Eve, it's a little scraggly looking but it sure makes the house smell good.

The Christmas brunch at DS & DIL's was outstanding.  HZ had made one of those egg bake casserole dealies, DIL put together some cinnamon roll dough that she advised DS & JZ in the assembly, I made some olive & cheese bread, and there was bacon, fruit salad, and mimosas, also stollen and coffee cake, and a big tray of homemade cookies and candy on the table afterwards.  Waaaay too much rich food; I was kind of queasy the rest of the afternoon.  My brother, AJ, his wife and son stopped for a visit after brunch, it was great to spend a time with them.

DS and DIL1 were supposed to come over for supper and to exchange gifts but she was Christmas-ed out so we decided to do gifts later this week when she's a bit more rested.  Durwood and I roasted the turkey breast and I made cornbread stuffing, heated up some green bean casserole out of the freezer (meh, won't freeze that again), and he mashed a potato.  There was gravy.  After supper we exchanged gifts.  He loved the Muenster and Parmesan cheeses, flannel pants, microwave potato baking bag (as seen on TV!), and the denim shirts I gave him.  I loved the warm socks (I'm wearing a pair right now), the abacus row counter bracelet, and the little roll of cash (all ones, "so you'll have a WAD," he said) for yarn or fabric, but the present that made me roar with laughter was the note in a box.  (open that one last, he'd said)  The note says, "Some time ago I bought a present for you and of course I hid it in one of my fabulous hiding places.  It's still hiding.  You have a belated present coming as soon as I find it."  (lmao)  I'm looking forward to the gift, of course, but I adored getting the note in an empty box.  It was a great day.

December 26--Ansel Easton Adams, Winter Yosemite Valley.  The snow wasn't as deep in among the trees.  Jared was glad to be able to take nearly normal steps instead of sinking knee deep in the snow field.  He leaned against a bare-branched aspen wishing for a pine grove.  He knew pines would make a good shelter, he needed to make a wind break.  For a few hours he had felt his mind getting fuzzy, the cold and the wind were relentless and he knew if he stopped to rest he would never get up again.  He pushed himself upright and felt the wind shift to his left.  The scent of wood smoke rode the wind that came from the west.  That way was across the slope, not downhill which was the way to find shelter, the way out, but if there was someone out there, someone with a fire, maybe even a cabin, he wanted to find them and find them fast.

Hey, at least there was no blood.  I hope you had a merry Christmas and got to spend time with some people that you love.  Take the day off, I am, after I shovel.  *sigh*

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Four Degrees. Four!

Baby, it's cold outside.  Clear and cold.  Brrr.  I might have to go outside today, might need to get out the roof rake and knock down the eyebrows of snow that make ice grow under the shingles and the roof leak.  But I also realized that I don't have a card for Durwood for tomorrow and I bet he'll have one for me so I'd better sally forth and get one.  We went on a marathon appointment and errand run yesterday and got most of what we'll need for the next few days--plus some new jeans for me since all mine are ancient and either holey or patched.  That's not a bad look when you're in your twenties and cute but when you're in your sixties and far from being svelte, the looks not for you; I needed new jeans.  I can't imagine not wearing jeans all the time, can you?  I mean, I have a couple pairs of "nice" pants, one khaki and one black, but I wear them so seldom there are pants hanger marks in the hems.  I just wear jeans.  Guess it's a good thing I have the job I have so I don't have two wardrobes.  I'm not a clothes person.  I mean I wear clothes (well, most of the time), I'm not a fashion person.  I wouldn't know a style if it jumped up and bit me on the leg.  But I'm mostly happy, so that's good, right?

I made some "sweet and salty" pecans last night--that I kind of burned.  Bah.  Now that the light's better one of us will pick out the burnededest ones.  I'm thinking that I'll just toss them if they all taste burnt.  Double bah.

December 24--Jacques-Louis David, The Death of Socrates.  Nobody likes a prophet, especially if he's right time after time.  He figured that was why they killed him.  Just as no one liked a liar, no one likes a know-it-all.  He hadn't meant to be a prophet.  He'd blurted out things about love and danger when it got too hard to keep his mouth shut and people got to thinking he caused things to happen.  He didn't have that kind of power, his mind was like a movie screen, he'd see someone and a bit of their future when play across his mind.  At first he ignored it but then when the visions got brighter and the voices got louder, he had to act.  He was right about the car accident that destroyed a family.  He was right about an infidelity and a crisis of loyalty in a campaign.  That kind of prescience couldn't be allowed to continue, so they'd killed him, dispassionately, almost like it was a public service.

Merry Christmas Eve!  The finale of "the season" is approaching as if on horseback.  Are you ready?  I'm not, nowhere near.  Panicking will commence at once. Gotta go--NOW.


Monday, December 23, 2013

Not Hub-Deep

But we got an adequate amount of snow, maybe 5-6 inches.  I went out around 4:30 yesterday afternoon to get a jump on snow removal and had a blast.  It wasn't too cold, it wasn't windy, it was in the 20s and flakes were falling like sequins in the dimming light.  I snowblowed (snowblew?) at least one lane out into the street hoping that the snowplow wouldn't give us a huge driveway drift, and it worked.  Our driveway drift was much smaller than 6" of new snow should make.  I tried and tried taking pictures, some worked, most didn't, but that's okay.

I did a little sewing yesterday but mostly I lolled around goofing off on the computer.  It was that kind of day.  Today Durwood and I have a few errands to do this morning then we'll hunker back down to do exciting things like change the sheets and run the vacuum.  (Don't you wish you were here for the fun?)  I want to make time to make some lotion and lip balm too.  Maybe not today, but soon.  I have dreams of being down at my sewing machine all week making cool, fun things, don't know what that'd be but it seems to be a feeling I'm looking to have, the feeling of making things on my own schedule and without pressure.  Sometimes I'm such a dreamer.

December 23 (eek!)--North Italian Painter, Two Angels.  Large wings are loud, not like an owl's almost-silent wings.  Gabe's big, blue and gold wings moved some air and they weren't quiet about it.  He had to fly at night or in uninhabited places because he was just too conspicuous otherwise.  Once he landed on Earth, what he called "the dirt and water planet," he would change his form so he could blend in.  It was the getting down there that was the problem.  The last time he was Earth-sent the foolish humans were burning witches.  Well, whoever some bored and hysterical teenagers (are there any other kind of teenagers?) decided were witches.  It was a mess, times were changing and people were growing away from strict Puritan practices.  Anyway, Gabe got sent down to bring a bit of order out of the chaos and here he was again after only three hundred and fifty years.  He must have forgotten to teach them something last time.

Today should be interesting out and about.  We need a few groceries, I don't think we need gifts, so we should be safe from the crowd-mind of the season.  Merry Christmas Eve Eve.  Stay sane.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

A Snow Day!

The weather guy promised us snow for today and this time he's delivered.  You know I like to take a picture of the morning's weather for you, I'm a big fan of the moody, bluish look just before sunup, but I set the camera to the "snow" setting so we have flakes too.  Then once it was light and I was reading the paper while watching CBS Sunday Morning I saw one squirrel having a snack on the suet feeder and its buddy snacking on seed from the feeder.  Look at the snow building up in its fur.

I pity the football fans dealing with all this snow at today's game.  The roads are going to be crap to drive on and people will be imbibing copious amounts of antifreeze so after the game should be especially exciting on the roads.  We're staying home.  There's nothing we need to buy that would require a trip today.  No. Thing.  We'll go to Copps after Durwood's chiro appointment tomorrow morning for the few ingredients we need for our Christmas eating pleasure.  Durwood got the turkey breast yesterday so it's in the fridge thawing; I'll make the cornbread later so it can spend a couple days drying out for Tuesday's cornbread/sausage stuffing.

DS called earlier than normal this morning and I got all excited thinking it was baby news but (dagnabbit) he'd read about my fender bender and wanted to make sure I was okay and to ask if I'd be available for dog watching if they do have some baby business to attend to before the 26th when their regular dog watchers are available again.   I said "of course" of course.  I'd bring her here except that a couple weeks ago when I tried to screw the tie-down into the ground to put her cable out the ground was already frozen so I couldn't even make a dent in it.  That means we couldn't just let her out to go potty and annoy squirrels, we'd have to go out there too.  That would be okay for me (I could snowshoe!) but Durwood wouldn't be a fan, not one little bit.  So if in the event they need me to dog watch I'd just drive over and back, I do that to take her walking anyway, what's another time a day.  No biggie.

DD called to chat and said she won't be able to come visit until mid- to late-February.  *sigh*  We're already missing her terribly but we understand.  Jobs come first.  (dammit, stupid work ethic)  But that also means if the baby decides to wait until its due date or later to be born it'll still be pretty new when she meets it.  Maybe not "still wet" new but not much beyond newborn.  Even if it comes this month yet, it'll be satisfyingly new and tiny when she arrives.  Durwood and I are very glad that we got to spend 3 days with her in October so we're not pining quite as much as if it'd been since last Christmas that we'd seen her.  I'm hoping that she and I can spend an afternoon making a Jelly Roll Race quilt top while she's here.  It'd be a fun thing to do and I have 2 sewing machines.  Coincidence?  I think not.  (I don't think they'll ever live closer but now I understand Mom's wish that we all live in a compound so she could have us all around her all the time.)

December 22--North Italian Painter, Two Angels.  Gabriel flew out of a rusty black sky in a blaze of flashing gold wings.  The angel, clad in flowing coral robes, was focused on his mission to carry words to the people.  He really hated having to come down on the dirt and water planet to deliver messages.  In many ways humans were so gullible, like believing a knife they got "2 for $9.95 plus shipping and handling" off late night TV would cut better than a hundred dollar one, and in other ways they didn't believe in anything.  Few of them ever believed he was an angel, even when he told him his name they thought he was either delusional or playing an elaborate joke.  It was hard not to break out of the limiting human form and appear as his full angel self.  He got tired of having to prove time and again that what he said was true and a message from On High.  Yeah, he said "On High," he had enough trouble with credibility without bandying around the G-word.

Sometimes I amuse myself.  Okay, here I go getting dressed and going downstairs to play with laundry and sewing.  Stay safe if you're out in the weather.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

A First For Me

Yesterday morning the roads were very slippery so after I played ball with Porter in her backyard (to save having to drive a couple miles on slick roads, I thought I'd be smart and take a different street across town to the first of my errands.  I'm telling you right now that main streets are a much better bet for crosstown driving when it's slick, snowing, the Friday before Christmas AND a home Packers game, because when I turned the steering wheel to go around a parked Post Office truck my car didn't change lanes, it just slid and whammed into the back of the truck.  No one got hurt and there wasn't a scratch on the PO truck.  Naturally since it was a government vehicle we had to call the cops and his supervisor so I called my insurance company to find out what I was supposed to do.  That's the first time I ran into anything, my first accident, and I didn't like it one bit.  I think that they can suction out the dent in my passenger door and I don't really care much that the wheel cover's cracked but I got a warning ticket that I was driving too fast for conditions even though I was going less than 20 mph.  The cop was supremely indifferent to my assertion that I was blameless.  (yeah, I do understand that I was the one that "lost control of her vehicle" but... okay, next time I'll take Mason St. which they clear and salt a lot better than Dousman, sheesh.)  Kind of cast a pall on my whole day.  Once the endless waiting was done I did get to my 2 measly errands and then came home to snowblow and then take Durwood to his chiro appointment.  Good thing it was knitting night, I needed to go whine to friends and then sit and brutz about the whole thing.

This morning after one of the most appreciated showers I've had in weeks (I don't know why but I felt like I really needed it) I zoomed out to spend some of the JoAnn and Hancock coupons I have.  I ran out of money before I ran out of coupons, and they didn't have a copy of the book that was in JoAnn's ad and believe me I looked at every book on that rack.  I know I've complained about this before but it peeves me no end that they don't have the books in any order or any idea what they have.  Seems they get a box of random books from the company and just shove them onto the rack.  No one checks them in or enters them into the computer or even sorts them into subject order.  I gotta tell you the librarian in me plus all my hide-bound Germanic ancestors pretty much have their knickers in a twist over the whole thing.  I am tempted almost beyond all bearing to spend a quiet afternoon in there emptying the shelves, organizing the books, making a list, and putting them back in order, but I won't because I'm sure I'd get invited to leave and never come back.  We don't want that, do we?  No.  

I bought a few what they call jellyrolls (long narrow strips of coordinating fabrics, one at JoAnn and another at Hancock) because I saw a YouTube video of a fast way to make a cool looking quilt top using a jellyroll and since I had all those big coupons I thought I'd invest in one or two.  Then I was looking for white canvas to use as lining in a free tote/overnight type bag pattern I'd like to make I found all this other really good looking flat fold upholstery (firmer bodied, bags made from it hold their shape better) fabric that was only $5 a yard at Hancock, plus this really pretty leaf print in browns and gold to make a skirt of for only $3.95 a yard, plus I got to see two of the old time clerks who've been cutting fabric for me since the kids were little and wish them a Merry Christmas.

Once I got home and used the snowblower to dig out the bottom of the driveway and sat down for a bit of lunch I whipped up this year's batch of English toffee.  Now it kind of feels like Christmas might come after all.

Durwood's off doing some shopping for a few gifts he says he needs to buy and also he decided we should have a "real" Christmas dinner, you know, turkey, cornbread/sausage dressing, potatoes, gravy, and green bean casserole (a container of which I had in the freezer--score!).  I might lobby for some of those sliced carrots with bacon and onions too.  I suspect that it's less the meal than the leftovers that he's interested in but I'm in favor either way.

Oh hey, Happy Solstice!  Today's the shortest day of the year (and I'm feeling every dim and fleeting moment of it) so there's no place to go but up--into the light.  Onward!

Friday, December 20, 2013

It's Snowing

Well, they said it would and it IS Wisconsin and it IS mid-December so yeah, it's snowing.  I think tomorrow's the Winter Solstice (it is, I looked it up, also it's the Summer Solstice if you're in the Southern Hemisphere) so after tomorrow the days will begin to get lighter minute by minute, day by day.  Yay!  Hooray!  We love the light.

I did the damnedest thing yesterday.  I kind of dozed off late in the afternoon (just for a minute), woke up, looked at the clock and saw that it was 5 o'clock.  Closing time.  So I emptied the till, put the money into the safe, turned off the lights, locked the place up, and drove away.  When I got to the corner I glanced at the clock in the car... and it said 4:18.  FOUR eighteen?  FOUR!!!!  So I turned the corner, turned the next corner, turned the next corner, and went back to open the store for the last 45 minutes of the day.  Holy crap, how'd I manage that?  I should have known it wasn't dark enough to be after five o'clock.  The goofiest part is that I'd had no customers all day, just a visit from Mitch, a knitting pal, but I had a customer right before 5 o'clock.  The real 5 o'clock.  I'm hoping that Mrs. Boss is inundated by Christmas shoppers this weekend.  Fingers crossed.  (Evidently SCUBA diving and snorkeling are "out" this year.  Who knew?)

The doorbell rang last night during supper and there was a package on the doorstep.  It was my toe warmers.  Thank god.  I forgot to put them in my boots on Wednesday (I was down to 5 packages) and my feet froze all day so it was a great thing to get a winter's worth of supplies.  I buy them online because even with shipping I can get them for just about $1 a package, totally worth it to have warm feet.

I have a pinkie.  Well, I have two flesh ones, one on each hand, but yesterday I made a yarn one on the glove I'm knitting.  Yes, it's putzy to make all those fingers instead of making a nice roomy mitten but I like wearing gloves and I like having knitted gloves so I am.  Oh, and I will be knitting a MATCHING glove when this one's done.  *gasp* (matching, are you serious?)  Yes, I'm making a pair of gloves like a normal human would wear.  I don't know what's come over me, oh yes I do, I have 3 skeins of the strawberry variegated and only one skein of the black, therefore the gloves get black cuffs and strawberry hands.  That's how that happens.  It's expedient, plus I bought the yarn years ago so there's no way I'll find matching yarn.  I'm trying to knit from stash anyway.  I have all this gorgeous yarn, I should make things with it, don't you think?  (btw, the yarn's a lot pinker, not so orange in real life)

December 20--Mary Cassatt, Young Mother Sewing.  Her hands didn't shake as she sewed.  The silver needle flashed with each sure stitch in the sunshine that streamed in through the window.  No tremor made her clumsy as she sewed a hem in the small dress in her lap.  Her gaze was steady.  Only the quivering of her full lips betrayed her turmoil.  The airmail letter lay folded under the vase on the dresser next to her chair.  She had all day to work out how to tell Charles that there would be no more monthly checks, that from now on what he earned would be all that they had.  Mama didn't say what had happened to her money but Daisy had heard that Papa had invested in a railroad that was never anything more than part of someone's imagination.

It's snowing harder.  I'd better go get Porter for a walk then I can hide in the basement making lotion, lip balm, and a bit of sewing.  Or maybe I'll save the sewing for tomorrow.  At any rate, I'm off.  And not only that, I'm leaving.  Take care.  Stay warm.  Play in the snow.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

We're Almost There

Almost to the shortest day of the year.  Almost to Christmas.  DIL1's brother and his wife had Baby Leo yesterday afternoon (yay!) that means J&HZ have their first grandchild, now it's almost time for DS & DIL1 to give them their second grandchild and us our first.  No, not "almost," now please.  I know that no amount of my nagging or pleading will induce the baby to make an appearance but I'm trying to send welcoming vibes so the little critter gets the idea to slip into the daylight (such as it is this time of year) and it needs to come before its due date (which is January 5 and just too far away).  As Mammy Yokum said in the L'il Abner comics, "Ah haz spoken!"  *nods confidently, pointer finger in the air*  (god I'm old)

I had the idea to knit a tiny little pair of Converse booties for our bambino and I followed the directions to the letter--twice.  They kicked my arse, there's no other way to say it.  Following the knit-in-the-round directions didn't work, and the knitted-flat ones didn't either.  I ended up tossing the whole abomination into the trash last night and going to bed.  It's rare that a knitting pattern gets the best of me but that one sure did--twice.  Maybe the kid needs more socks, socks I can make.  I'll buy the damned Chucks.

I had a few customers yesterday!  One brought the little afghan square she'd knit to show me because the last time she was in I showed her how to do a slip-slip-knit stitch, and she also brought a little album of their first dive trip.  That right there, that's one of the big reasons that I love my job.  She was just beaming and told me all about the divemaster and how deep they dived and all the fish they saw, and how they're getting their adult kids certified so the whole family can go on dive vacations.  How can you not love a story like that?  Plus she bought a pretty big item, that was the frosting on the cake.

I found out on FB yesterday that Grandpa Boss isn't doing so well, so if you've got an extra prayer send it up for the Boss family, please. (you don't need to know their name, God/the universe/whatever can sort it out)  And let me just say that this is one sucky time to have your dad, or anyone you love for that matter, teetering on the brink, not that there's a better time for it but... you know what I mean.  I'm praying for you all, as hard as I know how.

December 19--Cypriot, Head of a Bearded Man.  Elaine woke up in a pool of sweat.  Summer wasn't the time to be this close to the equator without air conditioning but the town was so small and she'd gotten the last room in the only guesthouse within a mile of the dig.  A mile was as far as she was prepared to walk until she found a car or a bicycle or even a donkey to get her there and back.  Olympia was the owner of the house and she treated her guests more like nieces and nephews than paying customers.  Elaine's room was at the top of the house.  It had a view of the neighboring vineyard and at least there were windows she could open wide to catch any night breeze that fluttered by.  One the sun rose it was a different story.

Time to head out into the not-quite-winter-yet cold day to see if any Christmas shoppers stop in.  I'll be the one knitting GLOVES.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Fun in the Snow

Yesterday's walk with Porter in the snow was a fun one.  I drove to the "lawn" behind an office building that borders the Fox River Trail and we had a romp.  I snowshoed about half the time and Porter snuffled and bounded and ran and ran and ran.  I wish I could let her off the leash but she doesn't really come when she's called (unless she wants to) so she stays leashed.  I get such joy watching her play but I don't think anything would induce me to flop my belly down in the snow like she does.  Brrr.

After walking I returned the dog to her house, fed fruit peels to the chickens (who did not want to get out in the snow, can you blame them?  they've got those little spindly chicken legs), picked up some bananas at Kwik Trip, dropped off a tank at Van's,went home for a quick, leftover pizza slice lunch, went with Durwood to his pulmonologist (all okay), stopped at the bank, stopped to swap out his breathe-y thing, back across town to Durwood's chiro appointment (crack! ow! but it'll get better), then to the grocery, no wait, 2 groceries, and finally home to change into my yoga pants and go back across town to stretch and pose for an hour.  *pant, pant*  Back home for a glorious plate of chicken cacciatore... no wonder I was pretty much ready to hit the sack by 8 o'clock.  That kind of schedule sure makes the day fly by, though.

Today I'll have a nice sedentary day at work with no errands to run and no doctor's appointments all over town.  Restful, except for random customers but that's what they pay me for so I can't really begrudge the customers my time.  Well, I suppose I could but that'd be churlish and ungrateful and just plain wrong.  I can be magnanimous, also gracious.  (I was being Lady Bountiful there for a second, did you notice?)  I only have to work today and tomorrow and then I've got another week off.  I go back to work December 30, then have 2 more days off (New Year's Eve and Day) before working January 2.  Yikes.  (See that?  2013's almost over.  Holy crap.) 

December 18--George Bellows, Tennis at Newport.  The body is right under that big, tennis oil painting in the library.  It's a good thing that it's Nora's day in or the poor thing might have lain there for days, and with the way Derek keeps the thermostat set just above freezing no one would have smelled a thing.  Oh, don't get me wrong, I'm as sorry as the next person that little Esme fell on that knife somehow but you have to admit she never really fit in.  Coming from upstate, somewhere hilly I'm sure, and graduating from a state college with a degree in, oh what was it, animal husbandry or home economics, something arcane and useless anyway, well, she wasn't our sort, was she?  Did you ever really look at that tennis painting?  None of the people have faces, not one of them.  It looks like a gathering of ghosts and wraiths.  Grand-uncle Smedley must have bought it; he was a great one for dabbling in poor painters and the occult.

Eesh.  The full moon, the Snow Moon was still pretty high in the sky when I got up, with a star above it.  So pretty.  Would it be wrong to eat a big bowl of party mix for breakfast?  I'd promise to eat a banana too but I wouldn't put milk on it, that'd be more wrong-er.  No?  Yeah, I thought you'd say that, guess I'll stick with granola, yogurt, and fruit.  It's a work day and the snowplow just came by.  I swapped cars around yesterday afternoon so my Beverly was in the garage while we were gone for hours, thinking that they'd come and I'd have a minute to clear it away while I was dressed in "play" clothes, but no, they didn't come, not until about half an hour ago, which means I get all dressed for work then boot up and snowblow that pile o'snow away from the end of the driveway, being careful not to bury the garbage in the process because of course it's garbage day which means that the plow couldn't drive along the curb because of all the bins and bags.  Grrr.  I'll figure it out.  Ain't life grand?

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

I Can't Leave Yarn Alone

I finished the Green Beanie for the coming babe and that meant I was out of knitting except for the Fiddlehead sock which I wasn't in the mood to knit (the needles and yarn are so skinny it's hard to see progress and I'm a real product knitter and only a bit of a process knitter) and then I was consolidating my knitting sprawl in the living room so that Durwood's friend wouldn't think we'd been invaded and when I tossed a skein of sock yarn into the basket of onesie projects that lives under the coffee table, why, there was the Brown Sheep yarn with needles and the pattern to make some gloves.  For me.  (I'm all about selfish knitting.)  So of course I took them to work and cast on the first cuff.  It's cables, and cables are on my "get better at this in 2013" list, which means I need to get a move on since two weeks from today is New Year's Eve.  (I know, it shocked me too.)  So in between Christmas- and trip-shopping customers I knitted the cuff and made it a tiny bit into the hand of the first glove.  (I really like how shiny the black wool is but it's a bear to knit without a high intensity light with these old eyes.) Then last night after supper I got out different yarn and different needles to cast on a little stealth project that has me slightly confused but I'll manage.  I can always frog what I did and start over.  And there's another hat (or two, maybe three) that I want to knit for the baby.  I have plenty of yarn and needles, I need more hands.

It snowed again.  Not a lot, just normal snowed, so I'm going to unearth my snowshoes from the basement and give myself a good workout when I take Porter out walking in a hour or so.  I love my snowshoes, they might be close to the best hundred bucks I've ever spent.  For a non-diving gadget.

In other yarny news, I put out both of the crocheted elves that DD and I made and this year they please me no end.  Abercrombie is the red and green one by the clock and Vincent is the Caribbean colored one under the tree.  I think they have a lot of personality, don't you?

December 17--Caravaggio, The Musicians.  They were just boys, Larisa could tell by the high sweetness of their voices.  She wondered if they could read music or if they learned songs by ear and repetition.  None of them could be fifteen, she didn't think any of them shaved but it was obvious that every one of them thought he was a lady's man.  It was pretty hard to swagger when you had no beard and your voice hadn't broken but they managed, none more than the lute player.  He was the one with the sensuous mouth and sleepy gray eyes.  Not that she really noticed, it's just that she was a very observant person.

Are you done Christmas shopping?  I found something interesting online yesterday so I'm gathering info from my kids and in-law kids so I can order some.  D'you think they'll come in time?  Yeah, I'm not sure either but I'm going to try.  It's an odd year, the coming baby, OUR coming baby is looming much larger in my mind than Jesus' birthday this year.  Christmas comes and goes but the first grandchild's arrival is a once in a lifetime event.  I'm savoring.

Monday, December 16, 2013

A Zero Of A Monday

That's what the thermometer in the windowsill says, which means that it's colder because it gets a little help from heat leakage from the house.  I could have told you that it's below zero because two of our neighbors just left for work and their tires sounded squeaky on the snowy street.  I'll be going out there in a couple hours and you'd better betcha I'll be bundled up to my ears--and beyond.  My toes are already craving those little toe warmer packs they get to have.  I splurged on a 3-pack of men's merino woolen socks at Sam's the other day, my oldest wooly socks (from Eddie Bauer years ago) have gotten threadbare and no longer keep me warm.  If there's anyone out there needing a gift idea, I could use another 3-pack.  I wear a size 10 shoe and bought the Large size.  *hint, hint*

I called DS yesterday to ask about their Christmas plans since it's 10 days until then (well, 9 now) and he said they're hoping to be "real busy" that day but if not we're invited over for supper.  She's thinking spaghetti or lasagna which I'm in favor of since I'm dying to make the Pioneer Woman's recipe for olive cheese bread.  It looks amazing on TV and I want an excuse to make it and EAT it.  All.  Heck, I might just make it no matter the menu; it'd go well with beef or chicken or be fantabulous all by itself.  I'll let you know.

It's going to be very odd not having my DD here for Christmas or just after Christmas this year.  She's planning to wait to come until there's an actual baby for her to meet and hold for a week.  She suggested yesterday that we save their gifts for when she's here and she'll bring ours then too.  That takes the pressure off since I haven't really bought their gifts yet, well, I ordered one and it might take until the end of the month to get here so it's a good plan.  I'll still miss them, but life is life and it all evens out eventually.

I put up the tree yesterday while Durwood watched football and carols played on the "sounds of the season" cable channel.  *sigh*  I carried up my stack of Christmas CDs but carried them back because it's so easy to just punch in channel 941 and have music.  Where do you think they'll put in our USB ports so we can just hook in and cut out the need for external players?

December 16--Henri Rousseau, The Repast of the Lion.  She was drenched in sweat.  It stung her eyes and rolled down her sides.  Kay felt like there wasn't a breath of air in the humid dimness of the jungle.  She kept tripping over roots in the path and she was afraid to grab for a handhold when she stumbled fearing that what looked like a vine would turn out to be a snake.  The natives had found her unconscious in a canoe washed up on the river bank.  She wasn't clear how she got there but she didn't seem to be injured.  The leader proudly spoke a few words of English and kept turning around to make sure she was still there.  He'd smile his gap-toothed smile and say, "okay, lady?"

Okay, then, time to fuel up, shower, bundle up, and book it outta here.  Durwood's pal is coming over for lunch so he's up busying around.  They'll have a good long visit, I hope.  Later, dudes & dudettes.