Thursday, February 28, 2013

Back To Sock-ing

Every time I did the laundry this winter the worsted socks I knitted in previous years kept reminding me that I could always use more socks to wear to work.  I love those socks.  They're bright and I only ever knit one so I don't suffer "second sock syndrome" so I only need make one, that way I have yarn left for other things too.  When I went through my stash last month this skein of Plymouth Encore floated to the top and on Tuesday my resistance broke and I cast on.  It was the perfect project to have tucked into my purse for waiting room knitting that day.  I like the dark gray stripe that's spiraling around the sock with the speckles between.

I'm liking the way that the Red Gold Cowl is working up, although I do wish I'd have started the mistake rib sooner but I'm guessing it'll all work out in the end.  Plus I can go back to standard rib when I get toward the end to balance it out.

On My Mark, Get Set, GO!

At 5 o'clock when I lock up the dive shop, I'm not going to turn left onto Mason St. and drive across town to have supper with Durwood and an evening and night at home.  I'm not even going to be home tomorrow until nearly bedtime.  Nope, not me.  I'm going to drive up to Sister Bay to tuck myself into room #9 at the Edge of Town Motel and be ALL BY MYSELF for a bit.  Just one night and most of a day.  Can you tell I'm looking forward to it?  I am.  I need to be alone every once in a while and this winter has been a long one for togetherness around here.  Nobody's fault, just circumstances have kept Durwood housebound a lot because it's been a much colder winter so he hasn't wandered off for the afternoon with a long list of grocery stores to visit and until the beginning of February I felt like fried crap so I wasn't doing anything but moping.  But now I'm better and I found a way that I can be away for cheap and do a a little running away.  Just a little.  In about 3 weeks I'll be doing a little more running away, meeting a writing friend in Sheboygan for a couple nights.  That'll be good too.  By the end of March it'll start being nice-ish, fulfilling Mother Nature's promise that spring will come (right now I'm not sure) and the daylight will be longer too.  I purely hate these gray overcast days, I really do.  I know it's colder in winter if the sky's clear but oh I need that lid of clouds to be gone so I don't just fold into myself, slumped like a bad souffle with a frown on my face.

I forgot my knitting yesterday.  I know!  I was certain that there'd be no customers to keep me amused (or even awake) but I had a couple, well, one paying one, and I had my iPod so I listened to a book and surfed the web.  I totally forgot until about 9 PM that I always have knitting.  I have my "car knitting" a bag with a skein of dishcloth cotton, needles, and an ongoing washcloth.  How could I have forgotten that?  When I didn't see my knitting bag next to the desk I even went out to check if I'd left it in the car.  I could have gotten my bag of emergency knitting then.  Why didn't I?  I do not know, but you'd better bet I won't be forgetting it again anytime soon, either bag, the official knitting or the salvation knitting.  Sheesh.

February 28--Philip Webb, Cabinet.  "Where would you put it?"  "In that niche next to the window in the dining room."  He nodded and opened his mouth to speak.  She cut him off.  "Not the south window, the east window."  "Oh."  He shifted his weight to his other foot.  "What would you keep in it?"  She sighed.  He was always so practical.  Didn't he ever buy something just because he liked the way it looked?  Probably not.  "I'd keep serving pieces and linens in it."  She felt the tension at his slow consideration of whether to buy the cabinet or not crawl up her body.  Her fingers curled until her nails dug into her palms.  "I guess we can buy it.  Seems like a lot of money for a painted wooden box to keep placemats in."  That did it.  She was definitely kicking him out.  Just as soon as the checks cleared.

You know, I wonder if that's the sort of thing that divorces are made of.  I've never felt like getting one so I don't know what's the last straw but I imagine that many times it's something silly like that.  I know, I know, it's a symptom of a larger problem.  Durwood always was a traveling salesman, well, until about 8 years ago, so he went away so we each could live the way we liked, being alone on our own for days, then we could be together happily knowing that soon he'd drive away again.  That's what makes this whole togetherness thing hard to deal with at times.  We got used to something else, years worth of something else, and we both liked it.  But we're figuring out how to be together more.  Really we are.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

We Survived Tuesday

We spent waaaaay too much time waiting in various doctors' offices, etc. but I got a sock cuff and some of the leg knitted (I'm not that fast; it's worsted weight yarn and US6 needles) and we had an okay lunch in the bowels of the hospital between appointments.  While we were perusing the menu in the hospital caf a woman said, "I think I know you."  I looked at her and said, "I think I know you too."  Turns out she was a teacher at Mayflower Nursery School when (way grown up) DS & DD went there.  So, DS & DD, Mrs. Raber said to say hello to you both.  I think she was only there when DD went there but I'm covering both bases.  Durwood's health news was all good.  ALL GOOD.  Whew.  Which makes the time well-spent instead of wasted.  

Then I went off to get my nails done and over to Skully's to not-knit for a bit.  See, she invited me over to knit and I took my knitting but I'd been knitting pretty much non-stop since 10:30 AM and I think she only knits to knit with me these days so we just sat and talked and patted her dog and grand-dog to keep them from licking our faces.

I got my 36-hour runaway all set up yesterday before we left for the appointments.  I called the Edge of Town Motel in Sister Bay and have a room for Thursday night.  Then I called KS at The Clearing and we're meeting for coffee and a muffin on Friday morning and then we're checking out a reopened Red Sock Yarns before she has to go back to work for the afternoon.  That'll give me time to then take a hike or a walk or a snowshoe and still get back in time for Friday Night Knitting, after which I'll come home around 9 PM, having been gone since about 9:30 Thursday morning.  Sweet.  It's important for me to be home because Saturday morning Durwood goes to breakfast with his Census 2000 cronies so I don't want to miss having the house to myself for a couple hours (which is what I miss most about Durwood not traveling) and we're having Family Supper Saturday so I'll need time to whip up whatever it is we're supposed to contribute to the meal that evening.

I feel better.

February 27--Eishosai Choki, A Party of Geisha in a Suzumi-Bune (a Cooling-Off Boat).  Sumi was glad to be out in the boat.  It was a hot summer day and the garden seemed to hold the heat.  She felt strangled by the heavy perfume of the gardenias and tried to walk faster on the gravel path without Mama or Nana noticing.  She knew that "ladies never hurry," she'd heard it often enough growing up.  There were plenty of times she wanted to run or at least to go faster than a sedate walk but a bony hand would drop onto her shoulder and her pace would slow.  She was surprised that she hadn't cracked a molar clenching her jaw to keep from arguing that she wasn't a lady, she was still a child. Nearly a child.  She took a deep breath of the cool, river-scented air when she cleared the end of the plantings and there was the boat tied up at the dock and waiting to sail her away from the hot day.
Calgon, take me away.  Remember that?  Remember when they'd have had us believe that a softened bath would take away the stress of the day?  It would only have worked if the woman's family had been taken away too so that no one would be clamoring at the bathroom door during that relaxing bath.  It was a good fantasy though.  Hey, snow blew in overnight.  Not a lot.  We're not supposed to get slammed by the latest storm, just hit a glancing blow.  I'll take it. 

Tuesday, February 26, 2013


It's uber-gray and dreary today.  Ugh.  Durwood's got a doctor's appointment and that may be the only reason we get out of our jammies.  I should go and get my nails done; it's time for a fill.  I get acrylic nails, have for years, because I can't grow them, no way no how.  My actual nails are thin and bendy and splitty so I get the acrylic ones and have them cut very short so that it looks like I have fingernails.  A friend told me once that having nice nails is "the only beauty regimen that you can see yourself."  She's right.  You get your hair done, others see it.  You wear nice clothes, others see.  I get my nails done, I can look at them and think "I look good" even when the rest of me looks like the dog's dinner.  I'm not a beauty girl.  I stopped wearing makeup fifteen years ago, not that I ever wore much to begin with, but now I wear none.  Oh, I moisturize my skin I just don't slap makeup over it.  I've never had the hair gene.  I can't fix a style, I comb my hair, it lays on my head, that's it.  I used to get a perm, then I had a bit of style but it grew out and it was getting more and more expensive so I got this short cut and quit having a style.  I comb it and use a styling product so it stays where I comb it.  I wear the same clothes--jeans (long or capri), t-shirts (long- or short-sleeved depending on the season), pullover sweaters in winter, cardigans in spring and fall, and mismatched socks except in the dead of winter when I wear thick thick thick socks to keep my feet warm at work--that I've worn for years.  No, really, my jeans are about 15 years old except for one pair that's only 2 years old, many of my tees are ancient but still in good repair, and Eddie Bauer quit making my favorite sweater over 10 years ago but I have, oh, about 8 of them in various colors that I wear constantly.  What?  That's what I like.  I've knitted some bright scarves and shawls that I throw over the top and I'm good to go.  I'm not trendy, no sirree, not me.  Good god, I just realized how boring I am. Good thing I've got a personality (and mismatched socks) or I'd be invisible.

February 26--Christian Francis Roth, Dress.  Pink and purple, pink and purple, those were the only colors Leeza liked and she painted every room in her house either pink or purple or pink and purple.  She only like those colors.  She drove a pink Toyota Camry and she had to have it custom painted.  The summer after graduation she put a purple rinse in her light brown hair that made her skin look green.  She didn't care.  No one who knew her would have been surprised to discover that her blood flowed pink and purple too.  It didn't.  It was good old, all-American red blood, and it was all over the garage floor as it pumped out of the crushed back of her skull.

That's what she got for being a grown up woman who only liked pink and purple.  Tsk.  I hope your day's less blah than mine appears to be.  Maybe I'll wear red shoes to liven things up.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Hawk Sunday

I went out for a while yesterday afternoon.  Durwood stayed home and was treated to a front-row view of one of "his" hawks hunting, nabbing, and eating a sparrow right in front of his camera.  Lucky him!  It was still on the fence digesting when I got home but that's small cheese compared to the exciting arc of the circle of life he got to witness.

My solitary nature view was this morning's sunrise, or pre-sunrise when I went out to top up the birdbath.  The sky in the east was the palest blue and the thin clouds were the sweetest peachy pink.  It was worth standing there shivering for as along as it took to snap two pictures.

The orange-date bread that I made yesterday was definitely worth the trouble.  I was tempted to eat it ALL to save Durwood from having to eat any but I reconsidered and just put the second loaf into the freezer for later.  Probably not a lot later (unless I forget about it, which is a real possibility) but later.  I can always make more, right?  I can buy dates, I've seen 'em in stores, and we always have oranges and I know there're walnuts in the freezer.  Or instead of buying dates I could use up some of the other kinds of dried fruit we've got.  See?  I almost HAVE to make more.  It'd be wasteful not to.  (oh, i am a saint, a SAINT i tell you)

Is anyone ever happy with themselves just the way they are?  No, really, I want to know.  Right now, right this minute, I am sick and tired of trying to be ever vigilant about what I eat, weighing each and every morsel for how it fits into "the plan" and being filled with recrimination when I fail, which this winter has been most of the time, and not exercising enough to balance it out.  Ptooi.  I feel like I'm piling up grains of sand to hold back a tsunami. I just want to duck and cover.  But with snacks.

February 25--Bali, Container, Powder Charge.  Vincent stroked the tiny fur and feather flies.  "Where did you find these?"  The wonder in her voice made butterflies in her stomach.  "I got them in an old junk shop out in the country.  Will they be good to fish with?"  He held the strip of sheepskin close to his chest.  "If I fish with them I might lose them.  I have other flies to fish with, these I'll keep safe."

And that's all there was.  *sigh*  I was really hoping for more, maybe a peek into the mysteries of the universe, but instead all I saw was the inside of my eyelids.  Durwood just got up.  Time to go have breakfast and get ready for work.  Have a ... day.


Sunday, February 24, 2013


I like making dish/washcloths.  I get to use colorful yarn and I can mix it up any way I want and no one will say that they won't wear it.  (not that anyone ever says that to me since I'm a mostly selfish knitter but you never know)  Last Friday night at knitting HH was working on a Double Thick Cloth and commented that she'd goofed up a row but was leaving it as a design element.  KW was knitting one with the same pattern and some cotton yarn she'd reclaimed from a failed shawl, and she spent most of her time trying to recover from a mis-knit row.  I said that I wasn't going to pull out my version of that project since the two of them had obviously filled the room with bad dishcloth juju, but then I couldn't resist pulling mine out and proving that the juju was just fine.  It wasn't.  I knit a row and tinked (k-n-i-t backwards) it.  Knit a row and tinked it.  Counted stitches (knit, purl, knit, purl...) and tried again.  I finally succumbed to the bad dishcloth juju and put it away.  When I got home, in better light and not laughing quite so hard, I discovered that I'd screwed up the row that I'd ended up on at home (what is so hard about "knit 1, slip 1"? evidently something but I don't know what it might be); that was what had set me on the road to failure.  It's all fixed now.  This pattern makes a lovely dish or wash cloth.  It's extra thick and squooshy and it doesn't get holey when it stretches out when it gets wet.

It was so un-busy at work on Thursday that Leftover Starfish Dishcloth #2 got finished and I didn't even have to tack on another color of yarn.  I wanted to.  I would have done it in a heartbeat, but the end of the starfish came before the end of the yarn.  There's very little of this color left so it'll make it into random colored dishcloth-land one of these days.  It's all a part of my "use up what you've got" plan this year.

Since I finished the Bandwagon Afghan on Wednesday (yay! it only took 1 year and 10 months of non-continuous work) I got out the next project in my Onesie queue--the Red Gold Cowl.  Once again the yarn's doing the work.  The pattern's a simple "here's how many stitches I cast on and what yarn and size needles I used and what ribbing pattern" type of pattern.  So I read her list of 8 or 10 cowls she'd made with this method, picked one and plunged in.  The yarn doesn't have any give but I think I like the way it's looking.  I might try doing mistake rib (rnd 1 [k2, p2]... rnd. 2 [k1,p2, k1]* repeat) now that I have a bit of k2,p2 ribbing done.  One thing I do like is she says, "I'm not too worried if the round is complete when I bind off.  I'd rather have used up all the yarn."  Now I just have to figure out when to stop knitting and start binding off.  I'll get there.


This morning there's a row of icicles hanging from the eaves.  I suspect that the conditions that form icicles aren't good for roofs and gutters but I like them anyway--and my Menopausal Goddess mobile sculpture likes them too.

I went over to visit Henny & Penny yesterday and see if they'd laid any eggs.  Henny had, not Penny though.  See?  They're not so enthusiastic about laying in the winter and I can't say as I blame them.  I had to knock some of the snow off the plastic chicken wire that's stapled over the top of their coop and of course I knocked it right over the peels and leaves I'd just scattered for them.  Tsk.  I also stamped a path around the coop so that they didn't have to break trail all the way.

I found out on Friday that the problem I was having with the snowblower not running smoothly was because of the ethanol in the gas I was using.  No one even hinted that I might not want to use Regular gas!  How's a girl supposed to know this stuff if no one tells her?  The small engine guy told me to pour the rest of the can of gas into my car when I asked how I was supposed to get rid of it (d'oh) and siphon out what was in the gas tank using a dollar store turkey baster (oh, no, I'm not messing around with that) or buy a bottle of gas Magic that'd maybe take care of the problem.  I opted for the gas Magic.  I'll gladly do a lot of messy things but you won't catch me standing in the driveway with a baster sucking gasoline out of the snowblower and squirting it into the car.  That is one recipe for disaster--and ruined boots and clothes, not to mention having gas running down Beverly's side and the driveway.  No thanks.  A quarter ounce of the Magic elixir in the snowblower gas tank worked just fine.  I was able to clear the double driveway with minimal surging and no snub-outs.  *nods in satisfaction*

In searching for a recipe for... something, I had to register for a couple of recipe sites and the "recipe of the day" one day was Orange Date quick bread.  Oh, mama.  I knew I had a few dates rattling around in the cupboard (of course not the cup called for so I slapped in a few golden raisins) and we always have oranges (since Durwood and I split one after supper ever night) so I just finished stirring it together and it's baking even as we speak.  I can hardly wait until it's done and I can eat it.  I just know it'll be awesome; it's somebody's Grandma Marilyn's recipe.  I'll report.  (once my mouth is empty)

February 24--Bali, Container, Powder Charge.  In the package there was a row of eight small ivory cylinders with embossed silver tops and linked by a fine chain.  Julia gave them to him as a gift for his fifty-eighth birthday.  He unwrapped the fitted silk pouch.  "What do I do with them?"  She smiled at him.  "They're to keep your powder dry."  He laughed and swept her onto his lap.  Together they uncapped each cylinder.  Into each one she had put a small gift: a pair of gold and cinnabar cuff links, a strip of sheepskin that held three very special dry flies, a talisman medal from a shrine in Peru, a gold nugget watch fob, a silver doubloon from the Nuestra Senora de Atocha, a carved seed from Palau, a diamond tie tack, and, in the last one, a tiny gold key on a red satin ribbon.

Hmm, an interesting collection of things.  I wonder what they mean.  What does the key open?  Beats me.  Maybe I'll find out when I'm writing tonight.  Don't touch that dial.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

It's Chicken Day

DS & DIL1 are off skiing for the weekend.  They took Porter along but Henny & Penny are left behind.  DS asked me to go over this morning to check for eggs and I just happen to have a bag of veggie peels for the ladies.  I do love when they cluck and croon to see the fresh things in the snow.  I'll have to stomp down the snow in their coop so they can get around more easily.  Then I think Durwood wants to go to Sam's for a few things.  I know we'll need more driveway salt before winter's over.  Sam's has that.  I should get some.

I've got cabin fever.  I know I have it.  I'm lethargic but I want to DO something or GO someplace.  I feel like Durwood's gotten 25' tall and 60' wide and is filling up every molecule of space in the entire house.  He's not.  He's his same genial, tolerant self as always.  He should be in the throes of cabin fever because it's been cold enough that he's staying in.  He seems okay; I'm the one wigging out--on the inside for now, but I suspect that bits of it might be leaking out.  I had cookies for breakfast yesterday and that's just not me.  I want to stick to my eating plan but I don't want to stick to my eating plan.  I want to exercise but I don't want to get up from the computer/couch.  *sigh*  Cabin fever.  Gotta be.

Me and my big mouth.  Remember I kept bleating about needing snow for the poor farmers?  Yeah, me and my big mouth.  We're ahead on snowfall so far this winter and it's just February.  We've got March and most of April to get through before we reliably stop getting snowed on.  Tsk.  Sorry, guys.

Our land line was on the blink for no apparent reason for the last 24 hours.  It was still off this morning when I got up but I unplugged the black box from the cable guys, plugged it back in, and it worked.  I wonder if I'd done that last night if it'd fixed itself sooner.  Don't know.  So if you tried to call us yesterday, sorry, we were here we just couldn't hear you.

February 23--Kolman Helmschmid, Close Helmet with Mask Visor.  The look on his face sent ice water through my veins. He was near panic.  It was up to me to get us out of there.  The day began so well.  We picked up our rental car and he spent an hour with the map and the agent marking our route into the mountains.  The day was sunny and traffic was light.  After lunch in a village bierstube the day turned to worms.  It clouded up and began to drizzle, not really rain but enough to need the wipers now and again.  That made it hard to read road signs until we were right upon them, so we missed a turn, then we missed another whole town.  Now we're lost.  Martin doesn't do lost well and everyone in sight looks like a parolee.  Even the children.

view of falling snow from my pillow
I've always thought Martin was a weakling.  (And the name of the maker up there--Helmschmid means "helmet smith" if I'm not mistaken.  That's made up, it has to be.)  It's snowing again, did I tell you that?  Well, it is.  That means more shoveling.  Shoveling's like exercise, right?  Right??? Say yes.  Time to shower and dress and... shovel.  *sigh*

Friday, February 22, 2013

Yep, It's Snowing

I guess it started around 3 AM but I wasn't up for that, nope.  Durwood might have been because he says he wakes up and gets up every 2 hours through the night, not to whizz, just awake for 20 minutes.  I ask him if his mind's racing or if he has a cramp but he says no, he just wakes up for a bit, goes out and drinks a cup of green tea in front of the TV, then comes back to bed.  What's up with that???  Is that what happens when you're in your 70s?  If that's the case I'd like to opt out of that part of aging.  Anyway, it's supposed to snow until about 10 AM, slack off for a while (enough time to clear the driveway, I'm sure), and then come back for a bit bringing flurries to enliven everyone's Friday night.

OMG, I just saw a cobweb big enough to capture a pterodactyl.  Evidently I'll be wielding the dusting wand around the bedroom margins today.  And here I was thinking I was keeping on top of basic cleaning around the joint... oh well, now I have something purposeful to do today instead of sitting on my keester knitting or sewing.  I suppose that's better.

I had all of one paying customer yesterday.  How they keep the doors open I do not know.  But I'm glad that they do because in any other job I'd have to do actual work pretty much the whole time I was there and I'm out of practice.  Plus my knitting output would suffer.

February 22--Henri Matisse, Icarus.  She danced in the stars.  The warm night enveloped her and the stars sang the melody that moved her.  By day she was unremarkable but she blossomed at night.  On clear nights she felt the stellar pull as the sun slid below the horizon and one by one the stars winked to life.  The constellations were her partners in the dance.  The moon chaperoned, offering her its cool blue light and warm gray shadows to rest in.  She let down her hair at sundown.  In her flowing robe the color of the midnight sky she stepped out her door to dance in the starlight to music only she could hear.

Oh, I liked that when I was writing it and I like it now.  Enjoy your day.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Mama's Got A Little Headache

I'm not a drinker.  I'm not good at it at all, never was.  I admit that it took me a few years to get the message but now I know it well and good, and I really don't miss it.  Last night Cookie and I went to the beer & food pairing dinner at Titletown Brewery so I drank more beer than I have in the last year, probably approaching a half-glass of it.  And I have a little headache.  How is this fair?  There were four beers and one beer cocktail and I sipped a couple sips of each to taste it with the food--all forms of mac & cheese--only sips because I ask for a "no thank you" portion (my DIL1 taught me that) which is barely half an inch in the glass, and I rarely finish that.  I don't deserve a headache.
Anyway, here's what we had:
a mac & cheese fritter with tomato bacon jam and mac & cheese "mock-i" rolls with pesto,


mac & cheese Napoleon (the crisps are baked Parm, mmm) and baked bleu cheese mac & cheese (the glass on the right is my usual portion, I dumped most of the glass on the left)


sweet mascarpone mac & cheese with cinnamon sabayone and berries.

Oh my.  You wish you had been there.  That fritter with the tomato bacon jam was To Die For.  I wanted to weep when I couldn't finish the Napoleon because everything was so rich I got full.  The dessert was okay, a lot like rice pudding and I'm not a fan, but that sauce was exquisite.  You totally wish you'd been there.

And I finished my afghan at work yesterday.  Yay!

February 21--Flemish, Stained-Glass Panel with a Knight and His Patron Saint.  The sermon was long.  No, they called it something else now, a homily whatever that was.  Whatever they called it the priest was yammering on way too long.  He was dancing all around his point which was basically "be nice."  He had trotted out a few tired old stories of people not being nice but Gail had turned him out once she realized that he'd never get there, at least not in this lifetime.  She smelled coffee brewing from the social hall in the church basement and wondered if they had those little lemon bars that she liked so much.  That would be nice.

And I'm off.  We're supposed to get 3-6" of snow by the end of tomorrow and it's supposed to start at about midnight.  It's winter, it's supposed to snow, and I did say I wanted snow this winter, didn't I?  Now I get to deal.  Ah well.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Climbing Off The Bandwagon

This afternoon here at the dive shop I finished knitting the I-cord edging of the Bandwagon Afghan.  My join is not tidy.  I should have done a provisional cast-on so that I could Kitchener the ends together but I didn't and I am not going back to the beginning.  It'll have to do.

I love the way the afghan looks.  I love the colors I chose.  I love that I used two natural colors of Lion Brand Fisherman Wool for for the log cabin parts of each square.  I may not ever make an entire afghan of it again but I'm sure I'll make more mitered squares.  This is a good pattern.

The Wind As Sculptor

Just before sundown last night I looked out the patio doors to see the way the day's wind had sculpted the snow that blew in with it.  It looks like a topographical map of the Grand Canyon or like the Russian Steppes--or so I imagine.

Being out in the cutting wind running errands made me think I should make cookies for the neighbor who cleared our driveway for me, so I called Durwood to ask him to put out two sticks of butter to soften for the cookie making.  I didn't think it was that cold in here but when I unwrapped them hours later to plop them into the mixing bowl they were softer than they'd have been just out of the fridge but they weren't gushy like they'd sat on the counter for seven hours in the heated house either.  What's up with that?  We keep the thermostat set at 68 degrees, that should have softened the butter nicely.  The cookies mixed up just fine after supper and they tasted the way they were supposed to (I tested various cookies just to make certain that the entire batch was fit for consumption--I'm a saint) but I wonder why it took the butter so long to get soft.

Yesterday was sign up day for lifetime Friends of The Clearing.  I waited until about 1 PM to call since in previous years I've dialed and redialed for hours in the morning to get in.  I dialed, the phone rang ONCE, and KS (just the person I was hoping to talk to) answered.  It was so unbusy that we had time to chat before I signed up and gave my deposit for my place in the Writers' Wellspring in May.  I usually go to the Women's Writing Retreat in September but since Durwood and I are planning a 2 week jaunt to the Carolinas in late September or early October I thought it'd be more considerate of Mr. & Mrs. Boss to spread my vacations out a bit.  (I'm nice like that.)  Besides it's been a few years since I've been up there in spring so I think it's time, plus May is closer to today than September is. EEEEE!

February 20--Egypt, Heart Scarab of Hatnefer.  Jean felt the cool gold of the necklace warm as it touched her skin.  She admired the gold glittering against her pale flesh.  She ran a finger over the carved beetle shape.  The ancient Egyptians believed that the scarab rolled the sun across the sky, so whenever she faced something that she wanted to be over with quickly she wore  it.  Not that she was a suspicious person, she wasn't at all, but why take chances.

Time to get a move on.  I think I'll finish edging my afghan if it's not busy at work today and I'm meeting my pal Cookie for a beer & cheese pairing dinner at Titletown, where DS makes the beer after work.  Yay, cheese!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013


Yesterday it was 41 degrees when Durwood went out after lunch to do his errands, when I left work about 6:15 it was 38 and raining, and this morning it's 24 degrees and snowing and blowing to beat the band.  To add insult to injury the snowplow just went through so I get to go out in a bit and move that snow out of the way.  Oh don't get me wrong, I'm glad that the plow came and scraped all the tattered, packed snow left from the snow and freezing rain a couple weeks ago because our street had become like driving over railroad tracks the long way, so it needed a bit of attention to save our tires and suspensions, but I really don't want to go out in the snowing and blowing anytime soon.  Although... we are having a state judge election so I'll go out to cast my ballot (and mentally cast Durwood's too, hey, we're not in Chicago so I can't vote twice, once in my name and once in his)  (and another pass of the plow) and to cash my paycheck and I'll do a bit of shopping if Durwood wants me to since there is NO WAY he's going out in this.  The icicles hanging from the gutter are kind of pretty though.  This'd be a good day to sit on the sofa with the afghan I'm edging on my lap, my iPod plugged into my right ear, and an audiobook playing; I borrowed some action/adventure ones from the library yesterday.  I'll do that once I'm home from erranding.  Maybe before and after erranding.  Yeah, that'd be good.  But I realized that I kind of do like going out when it's awful outside so I'll be bundling up and braving the elements.  Also I just remembered that I have a quart jar of hot chocolate mix that only costs 2 WW points per serving.  What a deal!

February 18--Charles Demuth, Mountain with Red House.  With the windshield wiper smearing the rain, Cate's view looked like a watercolor.  She knew it wasn't safe to drive that way but there was nowhere to stop for repairs, besides she kind of liked seeing the world in soft focus.  Her fuzzy view of things made the world seem friendlier, less threatening than the sharp edges the world usually showed.

Zzzzzzz, that's when I conked off.  I just looked out and our neighbor cleared our driveway.  Thanks, LJ!  Now all I have to do is vote and errand.  Score.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Oh, I LIke These

sorry for the bad lighting
I took the yarn, needles, and pattern to make the second of my onesie skeins into Red Hot Fingerless mitts to Friday Night Knitting and got started.  I went back and forth on Ravelry trying to figure out how I managed to match a DK weight yarn with a pattern that called for worsted weight yarn but I plunged in anyway.  The pattern's a breeze and well-written.  I finished the cuff and knitted into the body of the mitt before bedtime Friday night.  On Saturday afternoon I plugged my iPod into my ear and kept going.  By suppertime mitt #1 was done.

After supper I cast on mitt #2 and made it up to binding off the thumb in preparation to knitting the top ribbing by bedtime.  This is one quick knitting pattern.

It didn't take long yesterday to knit the 2" of ribbing and bind off.  Voila! a pair of mitts.  I followed the pattern for the middle size (Women) exactly in stitch count and needle size and they fit perfectly.  I think they look a bit odd lying there empty, but they're comfortable and warm on my hands.  I'll be knitting these again.  I like a simple pattern that lets my addiction for variegated yarn carry the day.

It's A Huge Woodpecker

I did bestir myself yesterday to count birds away from home.  I got dressed and went out to Barkhausen with my checklist & pencil, bird book, knitting, apple, water bottle, and camera to count birds for an hour.  I planned to only stay an hour because I needed to make a grocery run for Durwood and buckle down to write out an article I'd been writing in my head for the knitting guild's newsletter.  No shilly-shallying.  It was a perfect day--bright and sunny--and there weren't a lot of skiers on the trail that goes right by the feeder area so the birds were happening.  I saw two hawks too far away to positively identify on the way out there but it was just before I left that the magic happened.  Jenna, the young woman naturalist, helped me get settled by the feeder window and helped identify a little sparrow.  I saw lots of chickadees, or maybe the same five over and over, American tree sparrows, goldfinches, a cardinal, a blue jay, a Downy woodpecker (they're tiny) and a Red-bellied woodpecker (they're about robin-sized). After about 45 minutes I dragged my chair to the opposite end of the visitor center because Jenna said that the mourning doves were there and I hadn't counted any (even though I see them every day).  There were the doves and more chickadees but then I saw a Hairy woodpecker (nearly robin-sized, much bigger than the Downy) and as soon as the Hairy flew away here came the Pileated woodpecker (it's as big as a crow).  That's right, the big daddy of WI woodpeckers came right up to the feeder as if he owned it and stayed right there pecking on the suet while I snapped pictures.  I've heard them pounding away on trees up at The Clearing and once one swooped by in front of my van out by the bay but I'd never SEEN one, one that held still so I could be positive that's what it was, until yesterday.  I'm sure I was grinning like an idiot.  I heard Jenna tell a couple renting snowshoes behind me that the Pileated was on the feeder and I heard the woman say "oh, yeah" and then go on buckling her snowshoe.  Huh.  Oh well, I got to see it.  Got to look at it for as long as I wanted until it flew away.  I have to say that it looked strangely like Woody Woodpecker but it wears a black suit not a blue one.  Too cool.  My smile stuck all the way through the grocery and into the house to tell Durwood all about it.

Then I wrote my article, ate supper, finished knitting a pair of fingerless mitts, watched Downton Abbey (gasp! sniff), read the article to Durwood then cut it in half, emailed it to TS, and went to bed.  Lovely day.

February 18--Tiffany & Co., Tray.  The fireflies in the undergrowth looked like tiny golden-green lanterns lighting her way.  Elysse heard Max blundering around in the kitchen all the way down at the pond so she knew he was angry.  She hoped he wasn't breaking any of her favorite pottery bowls.  It had taken her years to collect them.  She shook her head at that thought.  How silly to think about bowls when her marriage was probably what was broken.  She wasn't going to back down no matter how angry Max got.  He could sell all his own possessions but this house on this land was where she had grown up and she would not sell.  A great crash and crack of wood echoed down from the house, then all was silent.  Maybe Max had knocked himself out.  Silence was a relief after the evening's argument.  She didn't hurry back to see what had happened.

Allrighty then.  Time for breakfast, reading the paper, showering, and going to work.  The sun's supposed to shine for a bit then it'll cloud up and it's supposed to rain by evening.  How goofy is that?  It barely got up to 20 degrees yesterday and today it's supposed to rain???  I don't get it.  Ah well, I'll deal.  You too.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

We're Counting Birdies

It's the Great Backyard Bird Count!  I can't recall how I heard about it but there was an article in the newspaper yesterday so, never one to let an oddball opportunity pass, I got online, read the FAQs, set up an account (it's free), and then printed out the checklist so we could get to work.  We have mostly house sparrows and black-capped chickadees but there're always a few more interesting birds in the mix.  Yesterday afternoon I saw a raptor of some kind way up high in the sky but couldn't identify it, even if I could have found it with my binoculars.  I tried too.  Its underparts and the undersides of its wings were all white so I looked into the bird ID books but couldn't decide which one.  Ah well.  Today we've seen a mourning dove, a crow, goldfinches, house finches, dark-eyed juncos, cardinals, and a bajillion house sparrows.  I was thrilled when a downy woodpecker showed up yesterday afternoon.  I wish a hawk would come by or a bluejay would decide to stop over for a minute.  The count's still on today and tomorrow if you want to get in on the fun.  I'm thinking of finding a place away from home to sit and count, maybe by the river or the wildlife sanctuary so I could maybe see an eagle.  Word has it that they've been very active lately.  But it's really too cold to sit outside, even for their 15 minute minimum count duration.  Maybe I'll go sit out at Barkhausen.  They've got a very busy feeder outside a window of the visitor center... maybe.  I know Durwood won't come; it's way too cold for him to go out.  He went yesterday and said he had a big problem breathing while he was out.  (needless to say most of these are not current photos)

February 17--Tiffany & Co., Tray.  Moonlight turned the surface of the pond to silver.  The night was so still that there wasn't a ripple.  The edge of the pond was blurry with reeds and a chorus of lovesick frogs sang accompanied by chirping crickets.  Elysse walked around by the path holding her wrap tight around her shoulders though the night was warm.  Her tears had dried on the walk over the lawn down to the pond.  It was dark under the trees and the croaking and chirping stilled as she passed.

Well, that's not bad, is it.  It'll continue tonight, I suppose.  I'm off to count more birdies, and maybe even get dressed.  Who knows?  It could happen.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Crunchy Cold

When I bopped out to fill the birdbath this morning the snow had turned crunchy.  It's not that common that the snow makes squeaky sounds when you walk on it so it's a treat to hear.  Well, it is for me at least.  It has to be sunny and cold so that the flakes complain when you step on them.  I like it.

I made some reduced-fat macaroni & cheese yesterday that's not bad.  I left out the hot sauce (I like Crystal better than Tabasco) in deference to Durwood's more delicate palate but I should have put it in, the dish is rather bland even with a teaspoon of dried mustard in it (especially since he wasn't a fan and won't eat any more than the spoonful that he had), and I could take or leave the bread crumb & butter topping (that'd lower the points value too), but I like it.  I've got 5 more servings in the fridge.  I can doctor them up with a dash of Crystal, they won't go to waste.  Have you ever heard of Cook's Country?  DS & DIL1 told us about it and Mom had a subscription to their magazine that Durwood saw and fell in love with.  It's a PBS show (check your local listings) about America's Test Kitchen (we have some of their cookbooks).  They try out different things and recommend the best, say, tomato sauce or baking dish, not always the most expensive but the tastiest or the one that works best.  They also deconstruct recipes or foods so you can make them at home and they improve the method... oh, it's fun and interesting for foodies.  Durwood's a big fan of their cookbooks, especially the crockpot one, and their website's where I got the mac & cheese recipe.  (wow, that's a long-winded way to get to that tiny fact.  sorry)  And Aldi has fruit on sale this week--pineapple, strawberries, and blueberries--so I spent a bit of time with a sharp knife yesterday and now I have a nice big bowl of pineapple & strawberries for work lunch fruit and to eat, and plenty blueberries for my cereal in the morning.  Do you shop at Aldi?  It's a great place for on-sale fruits and veg, and they have the best pretzels.  No, really, their house brand, Clancy's is even better than Rold Gold.  I told an employee that theirs are the best and she said that they have a terrible time keeping them stocked.  I noticed the other day that there's a lot of empty space and a few bags where they're supposed to be.  Give 'em a try if you need a crunchy snack.  (18 small twists = 100 calories, they made up a big part of our "car snacks" on our 2 week drive out west and back so I'm very familiar with counting out and snack-bagging pretzels; it was worth the work)

February 16--Attributed to the Kleophrades Painter, Panathenaic Prize Amphora.  Sue and Alan swam along the reef watching the shape of the coral change from the random jumble of coral heads and sponges to straight lines.  Sue sand down to look closer and saw a painted face staring back at her.  She cried out and motioned to get Alan's attention.  She was busy examining a pile of round stones and reached out a hand to fan away the sand.  Sue dug her slate out of her pocket and wrote "boat?" on it.  Alan shrugged, took the stylus to write a couple questions marks to say he didn't know.

If I'd have stayed awake or thought this was going anywhere they'd have found a shipwreck with lots of artifacts but it just seemed too improbable so I quit and went to sleep.  Sorry.

Friday, February 15, 2013


I meant to spend yesterday binding off my Psychedelic Shawlette so I could show it off at knitting guild last night but... I didn't, I goofed off instead, so I took it with me.  Lo and behold, TS sat next to me and when I complained about how many stitches I had to bind off and what a royal pain it was she taught me how to bind off with a crochet hook.  Much faster!  MUCH!  Thanks, TS, you're a lifesaver.  I finished it after I got home last night and love it.  Love. It.  I highly recommend this little pattern.  It's free on Ravelry, easy to knit, and (if you read the ruffle pattern correctly) no part of it is a pain.

At the knitting guild meeting last night PH taught us how to put crocheted edgings on our knitting.  She taught us how to do the Crab Stitch or reverse single crochet.  It's awkward at first but it makes a nice edge.  Thanks, PH.

At show & tell time I shared my adventures in writing and charting a pattern.  No one explained to me how a left-facing fish on the chart turned into a right-facing fish in the yarn.  But then the roads were deteriorating so we were all scampering to go.  I don't think I'll be making up any more patterns.

Sunny & Damn Cold

This morning Durwood was up (for a minute) when I got up and he said, "the birdbath's steaming, it needs water, and it's 7 degrees out there; bundle up" so I put my hoodie on.  I zipped it too. No pants, just the hoodie.  He's a romantic, that Durwood; he knows that I tend to bop out to fill the birdbath in a tank top and undies (and boots, I put on boots when it's snowy) in the early morning and he wanted me to keep warm.  But it's just too much bother to put on long pants AND boots AND zip my hoodie so early in the waking up process, only to come back into the house and shuck it all off so I can do my Wii Fit thing.  Besides it's not that cold if I'm only out for a minute.  Nothing vital takes a chill in that short a time.

Man, that new birdbath heater's a real hot one.  Look at that.  It's 7 degrees, it's been out in the cold overnight, and there's not one hint of a glacier, not even an iceberg in there.  The old heater must have been like a hot breath compared to the roaring fire of the new one.  I guess that means it was worth the $36 it cost.  Hey, if I amortize the cost over the life of the previous one, it's less than four bucks a year, that I can afford.  Plus if the squirrel doesn't eat through the cord of this one the per year cost will drop.  Maybe I can find a metal mesh sleeve for the cord...

About a dozen hardy knitters made it to the guild meeting last night despite the snow--and Valentine's dinners.  (guess we were the ones without dates; I left my valentine at home, safe and warm)  We had a program about crocheted edging finishes on our knitted projects and it was nice.  It was more relaxed than more "business-like" meetings.  I wonder if we can clone that atmosphere at other, better attended meetings.  TS who is a knitting whiz turned me onto binding off with a crochet hook and the needle with the stitches on it when I complained about the endless binding off of my shawlette.  Thanks so much, TS!  Now I love you even more.

February 15--Julia Margaret Cameron, The Parting of Lancelot and Guinevere.  They knew it was wrong.  They knew but they couldn't help themselves.  Now they were caught in the betrayal and had to pay for their mistakes.  The first punishment was for them to part.  Jenny went to a cloister where she tended the poor and sick.  Lance went to war.  Art lost both his wife and his best friend.  All were punished.  All paid a heavy price for a few hours' indulgence.

Eh, it's not bad.  It was a sappy photograph anyway and I was ready to turn out the light so I could snuggle with my forever valentine.  Stay warm.