Saturday, February 28, 2015

Company For Breakfast

This morning while having my toasted banana bread and coffee I glanced out the patio doors and there was a squirrel munching on a peanut watching me.  No matter how frustrated Durwood gets over their blithe ignoring of the Slinkies I think they're clever and resourceful and don't really mind them eating some peanuts as long as they don't chase all the birds away to do it.  And they mostly share, at least they're not sitting on them all the time guarding them so bluejays and woodpeckers can come get some too.

I did get all the vacuuming done yesterday but I saved the floor cleaning for today.  Don't want to pile all the fun into one day now, do I?  No, I do not.  None of this cleaning stuff takes very long if you do it in little bits.  I'm still planning to hire someone to wash down the walls and all the wood trim and cupboards before we have the whole place painted sometime this spring--as soon as we can leave the windows open.

Last night I cast on a little hat.  It's called Fuzzy Little Shapka.  Isn't that a funny name?  The next couple rows will have red eyelash novelty yarn carried along so there'll be stripes of plain yarn alternating with extra fuzzy stripes, and it tapers to a point at the top.  I think it'll be darned cute.

I get a daily email from and the other day it was a slew of breakfast recipes.  One is for Overnight Blueberry French Toast, you know, one of those standard "soak bread in eggs and bake in the morning" recipes, but this one incorporates cubes of cream cheese and blueberries in the middle of the layers of bread, and you make a blueberry sauce for topping it..  I might just have to put together a half batch.  Purely in the interests of research, you understand.  I wonder what kind of berry fruit's on sale at Aldi.

February 28--Reagan Bradshaw, Computer Chip.  It looked like a jewel lying in a stray light beam behind the wing chair.  Mae stooped to pick up what turned out to be a silicon chip with circuits printed on it in gold.  She thought it looked like an ornate framed art piece for a dollhouse but she knew it was for a computer or phone, some sort of electronic thing.  The idea that something this tiny could talk to a satellite boggled her mind.  She remembered how amazed she was the first time Mama had called Aunt Trudy in Seattle long distance.  Her voice was so clear Mae thought she had to be right next door playing a trick.

Hey, it's the last day of February already. That means the first day of Spring, the Vernal Equinox is right around the corner, only a bit over three weeks away.  Woohoo!  I can tell that the sun's getting warmer and it's definitely higher in the sky than it was a few weeks back.

Oh, I went to see the doc about my vertigo yesterday and he said it's caused by a virus, I was the 3rd or 4th person he'd seen yesterday for it, and I can cut way back on the sleep-inducing anti-vertigo meds.  He also said I have fluid in my ears, but they don't ache, they clear easily, and he said I probably got it from LC.  Neither of us has colds, how can that be?  I think he made that up.  Time to go Swiffer the kitchen floor now that breakfast's over and blogging's done.  I'm trying to do better with this housecleaning schtick.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Hold Your Coffee

I finished the second, no-decreases coffee clutch last night.  (I think that's a dumb name, I need to think of another one.  Coffee sweater, yeah, that's better.)  I finished the second, no-decreases coffee sweater last night.  I'll have to wait until Monday to try it out since I made it for the skinnier mug I have at work.

Just after 8 o'clock the furnace guys came to put a new furnace in the rental side.  When the guy came to fix their furnace last week he said that there's a burn mark on the control board and the furnace is 12 years old (ours is too) so it's pretty much at end of life.  We had the estimator come on Saturday and decided to get a new one installed.  We could have spent $700 on a new control board but that's no guarantee that the furnace wouldn't pack it in soon.  So there's a new furnace going in next door right now.

Then this morning Durwood helped me frog the green wool & cotton crocheted scarf I made a couple years ago.  It comes to the surface of my scarf drawer every once in a while and it's too small and too stiff to wear so we turned it back into a yarn ball and later (after I vacuum) I'll find a different pattern to make it into.

Yes, you read that right.  I intend to vacuum every square foot of the carpet in this house today.  A lot of driveway salt gets dragged in and spread around in winter so, despite my loathing of the noisy thing, I'm going to use it today.  I'm going to Swiffer the kitchen and bathroom floors too.  I'd better get cracking.

February 27--George White, Hands Reaching Out.  Claire ran and ran.  Branches tugged at her clothes like hands reaching out out of the dark.  Tree roots tripped her and she fell sprawling on the leaf litter, inhaling dust and mold spores, then scrambled up to run some more.  Tears stained her cheeks, her jaw was clenched, and her hands made fists as she ran.  She was angry.  Matt expected her to quit her job to follow him to some one horse town in North Dakota for the possibility of a job.  He had put in their 30-day notice to the landlord and called her employer too.

Time to put on housecleaning clothes and get sucking up dirt.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

All Hat, No Cat-tle

I read that expression in a Western novel (one of the Joe Pickett series by C.J. Box [I love the scenery in them]) and it tickles me.  It refers to a man, usually in late middle-age, who dresses up cowboy and talks all folksy-Western (shucks, ma'am), but hasn't got a steer to his name and probably lives in town and always has.  I used it today because I finished the Purple & Red beanie last night after supper (hey, I was busy at work yesterday and with real paying customers too, also Mrs. Boss left a couple of boxes for me to check in, price, and put away) but we didn't see the cat.  (har! got that "cat" part in there, pretty sneaky don't you think?)

It's so cold this morning, -3 right now, that I just leaned out the patio door to snap a quick sunup photo.  I love the color changes in the sky but unfortunately the color's washed out when it hits the camera.  I don't know why but imagine this a slightly (very slightly) more intense yellow-peachy color at the treeline.

The vertigo whirlies are still with me every so often.  Getting out of bed is a treat and anytime I move fast, stand up fast, or turn a corner I need something solid to touch to catch my balance.  It's like having one drink, without the music, dancing, and fun.  Good thing for the pills and I think I'll see if I can't visit the chiro on my way home from work today.  Tomorrow I can couch it most of the day, that feels the best.

February 26--Earl Ripling, ER114.  There's no writing implement as satisfying as a No. 2 pencil with a rapier-sharp point.  The wood shaft warms in your fingers and the graphite glides on the page.  These days it's difficult to find a pencil that can stand up to the rigors of the sharpener.  Too often a chunk of the wood breaks off and then the graphite breaks out of the center too.  There's an art to sharpening.  You don't just cram the pencil in and start cranking.  You need to hold the shaft with the right amount of pressure so that you don't grind off too much at a time.  Good notebooks are hard to find too.  My preference is unlined paper so my thoughts can flow freely onto the page but my innerHitler cries foul when my lines aren't straight.  Being a free spirit takes a lot of discipline.

Yesterday my friend Lala and I booked a one-night, meet-in-the-middle escape in just 3 weeks.  We both need the breather.  We'll take walks and talk talk talk, maybe we'll even write a page or two.  Can't wait.  Then the week after that Durwood and I are going up to Door County for a 3 night escape.  We'll snuggle in with bowls of soup, a fireplace, and a Jacuzzi tub.  March is going to be good.  It has to be since February sucks.  Off to work.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

More Hat & Less Cat

I spent most of yesterday on the couch watching shows I'd DVR-ed and crocheting on the purple & red beanie.  I kept dozing off so I didn't get done but I'm in the home stretch, or maybe it's the back stretch, anyway I've got less than 10 rounds left to do.  With any luck I can finish it at work today.

I got my last Christmas gift in the mail yesterday too.  The set of interchangeable needles I bought with my gift certificate came.  Eeeee!  I love the sharp tips of these needles and I like the green blue color, it reminds me of the ocean.  Of course I have all these sizes of needles in fixed ones but these are better.  Pointier.  Prettier.  Thanks again, DS, DIL1 & LC.  I love them and I love you.  More.

No sign of the cat last night, although I was watching and whipped my head around every time the outside light turned on, which didn't help the abating vertigo.  Both the anti-dizzy pills and a visit to the chiropractor are helping that go away.  *whew*

February 25--Noel Schwab, Cargo.  The dock was wet and slick with years of spilled grease and oil.  The sodium lights on the tall poles around the edges cast rainbows in the spray and in the coils of oil in the puddles.  Jackson's boots were black with the wet and the papers on his clipboard were swollen into near illegibility.

And that's when the Sandman grabbed my pencil, tossed it and my notebook onto the nightstand, and dragged me off to Dreamland.  I was a willing captive.  Time to pile on the warm clothes and toddle off to keep the world safe from SCUBA diving.  Toodle-oo.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Still Got Marbles Rolling Around In My Head...

...but they're moving a lot slower today.  Whew.  The pills help a lot and not whipping my head around, taking things slow helps too.  I'm glad that Mrs. Boss declined my offer to work today, another day on the couch will go a long way to making things better I think.

Last night I finished up the Many Socks Cowl.  I like it.  A lot.  I'm already planning to make another one holding a lot more strands of yarn, casting on a few more stitches, and knitting twice as many rows.  Don't you love all the colors?  The funny thing is that four of the five balls of leftovers I picked made it from cast on to bind off, one of them just barely, and the fifth one I had to add more yarn to twice.  Knitting this cowl barely made a dent in the bag of leftovers so I'll dive back in soon.

Since I need to sit still most of the day I unearthed some acrylic yarn and a hook to make a couple beanies for charity.  I'm using my old standby, "Better Late Than Never" crocheted beanie pattern and I'm already on the 9th round of 21.  It goes fast and I like that the single crochet rounds are a different color.  Seeing that little stripe color change pulls me through the pattern more quickly.

Last night we were watching Antiques Roadshow and I had scooted my chair over closer to Durwood's so I was in position to see a shadow move out by the birdbath.  The motion sensor light turned on and there was the feral black cat getting a drink.  I carefully turned out the light over the table and turned off the camera flash, then fired off a couple shots.  They're not in focus but you can see what it is.  Pretty cool.  I'm glad it's still around and found the warm-ish water so it has a drink.  I think it might bed down under the park bench I have angled in front of the furnace vent and intake on the back wall sometimes.  I've seen feathers back there and it has to be a warm spot for it out of the wind with the shed on the side the wind comes from most of the winter.  I won't feed it but I'm glad it's okay.

February 23--Gallucci Studio, 1040 Puzzle. Tom stood, fists on his hips, glaring at the drifts of papers that covered the dining room table.  He hated tax time.  Every year he resolved to set up a system to organize his receipts as time went by to make tax time simpler and, so far anyway, every year he'd end up with about two months of organization and the rest of the year in chaos.  Every hear he listed each and every deduction and each and every year he'd just missed it and had to use the standard deduction, so all his frustrating work sorting everything had been for nothing.  He'd concede defeat and just take the standard but he lived in fear that the year he gave up would be the year his deductions would put him over the edge so he'd get to keep more of his money.  Even $50 over would do the trick.

I called the chiropractor and got an appointment for this afternoon.  I don't know if she'll be able to do anything about the vertigo but it can't hurt, right?  And it might help.  Fingers crossed.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Not the Way I Wanted to Start My Monday

I rolled out of bed when the alarm rang and nearly fell over.  I was suddenly so dizzy I couldn't walk straight.  It took me a couple hours to figure out what was wrong--vertigo.  Don't get this, trust me, you don't want it, not even for a minute.  I tried to slough it off but ended up seeing the doc and getting some pills for dizziness.  Stupid calcium crystals in my inner ear.  The doc says I just have to wait them out.  I'm taking it easy the next couple days, but this is not the way I wanted to extend my vacation.  NOT even close.

I spent most of yesterday downstairs working on the book clutch.  I got the zipper enclosed in fabric and ended up having to unsew the cover sleeves to get the zipper sewed in.  It's in there and it zips but it doesn't lay flat and the zipper fabric pooches out weird, but this is a practice one so I'm going to keep fiddling with it.  You get the idea now.  I admit I might have to fall back to making it the way the tutorial says to make it but I've got plenty of books to cut apart, lots of fabric and a couple more zippers, all I'll have to buy is the special glue and some heavier Heat & Bond.  (Joann only had "lite")

After supper I let myself cast on a new, quickie project.  Ages and ages ago my friend, Z-Dawg, gave me a bunch of sock yarn leftovers.  I've made tiny purses out of it, used some of it for my maple tree scarf project, but mostly it just sat there looking at me with its big puppy eyes.  Then last week I found a pattern for a scarf/cowl thing made with US19 needles and 5 strands of DK weight yarn held together.  Well, I have US17 needles and most sock yarn's skinnier than DK weight so I cast on 10 extra stitches, and I probably should be carrying 6 strands but I'm 3 rounds in and I like it.  I'm calling it the Many Socks Cowl.  And because the coffee mug sweater I knitted a couple weeks ago slips off my work mug I cast on another one that I won't do the decreases on, that way it'll stay snug on the slippery cheap plastic gimme travel mug I use at work.

February 23--Andrew Child, World Map on Sky and Wall.  Kinsey was never still.  Even as a child she had to move.  Her Grandpa Charlie called her "the dynamo" and she took numerous trips to the principal's office because she had a hard time staying in her seat.  Until forth grade, that is.  In fourth grade there was Geography class and Kinsey learned that countries weren't just vari-colored spaces on paper, they were actual places where people lived, went to jobs, and spoke different languages.  She checked out an atlas from the downtown library and it was very hard to have to return it.  That year she asked for a world atlas for Christmas, only an atlas.  Grandpa Charlie subscribed to National Geographic.  He had years and years worth of them stacked in the back bedroom he used as an office.

Didn't everyone's grandpa have stacks of those yellow magazines tucked away somewhere?  I'm off to sit on the couch and knit.  Maybe I'll watch a movie, or take a nap.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Pretty Snow

It started snowing yesterday morning, just a few tiny flakes dancing in the wind, and by the evening we had a couple inches.  It kept snowing a bit, off and on, so we probably got a couple inches of the fluffy white stuff.  Not the heavy wet snow, thank god, this stuff I can shift with a shovel.  No need to crank up the snowblower.  A lone bunny hippity-hopped through earlier, I was pleased to find its tracks in the smooth new snow this morning when I went out to fill the feeders.

With the furnace hubbub and getting my nails done (why does that seem to take so long?) the day got away from me, craft-wise.  By the time I was ready to settle down to some sewing it was time to get ready to go to Friday Night Knitting.  Time flies when you're having... life, I guess.

L&F found these cute "knit wit" buttons and brought one for each of us last night.  I'm nearly the end of my design project and I'm real happy with how it's turning out.

February 21--Alan Kaplan, KAP 523.  The blond woman kept looking off to her right while she talked on the phone.  Meg tried to remember if lying people looked to the right or left.  She was sure that whoever was on the other end made the blond nervous.  Meg couldn't hear what she said but she could read body language pretty well.  The woman was definitely lying.  Maybe she was talking to her boss, maybe trying to talk her way out of a jam.  Then the train began to move and Meg soon lost sight of the woman on the platform.

Aaaand the furnace estimator guy just called and he'll be here in about 20 minutes, so I'd better run if I don't want to greet him in my jammies.  Seeyabye.


Friday, February 20, 2015

If It's Not One Thing...

Yesterday afternoon Durwood and I went over our finances, figured out how near we are to paying off the mortgage, how our savings accounts are shaping up, and how we want to allot our pittances over the next year.  Everything looked like it was going to plan.  This morning while I was on the treadmill our renter called to say that their furnace isn't working right.  He reset it following the on-board instructions, it works for a while, and then stops blowing hot.  That's not good when it's below zero outside.  So I've got a fixit guy scheduled to arrive soon and his visit will throw our careful budgeting into a cocked hat, of that I'm certain.

Plus it's snowing.  Just tiny flakes and it probably won't amount to much but it's snowing horizontally, west to east, so there must be a bit of a wind out there.  Oh goodie.  And now it's snowing east to west, no wait, it's snowing up, so swirling winds.  Great, I can't wait to get out there to go to my nail appointment.  At least it's not below zero, it's a whole 8 degrees above zero.  Woohoo, flipflop weather.  Not.  But I won't be wearing quite as many layers to go out as I did yesterday.

Speaking of yesterday I finally guts-ed up enough to start work on my book clutch.  I used a craft knife to cut the page block out of the cover (don't slit the edge of the spine, don't ask me how I know and thank god for packing tape), then I did a lot of measuring, cutting, sewing, trying on, resewing, ripping, trying on again, measuring some more, with lots of furrowed brow thinking in between.  I ironed some Heat & Bond onto the insides of the cover sleeves so that when I've got all the innards sewn together I can run a bit of glue along the edge and then bond the sleeves to the covers inside and out.  Today and tomorrow I'll be working on getting the zipper encased in fabric strips and the strips sewn onto the cover sleeves.  That should be interesting.  We shall see.  This may be the only one of these I make or I'll fall back to making them the way the tutorial I found online said to do it in the first place.  I've got 4 more books to dismember, enough fabric to choke an elephant, and a couple more zippers.  I'm set.  All I'd need to buy is that fume-y glue, and then wait until spring so I don't asphyxiate myself in the basement.  There's nothing pretty about a woman my age high on glue.  (whoo! bring me tacos and Doritos!)

I finally got my old TracFone up and running again so today I transfer Durwood's minutes, service time, and number to it so my time and minutes don't get wasted, and my phone holds a charge better than his does.  It's amazing what a new SIM card can do.  (do you know what SIM stands for?  I don't, I should look that up.  ah, it's Subscriber Identity Module. well, that makes sense.)

February 20--Scott Barrow, Inc., DS5-Q1:0033.  In his dream the steps were never ending.  They stretched away from him in all directions in gray and black monotony.  They weren't high steps, they were those shallow ones that let to countless courthouses and capitol buildings.  When he looked up there were no fluted columns holding a frieze of Greek gods or some allegory of judgement or knowledge, there were only steps.  He looked back the way he had come, there was no sidewalk, no street, only ranks of steps receding into nothing.  To the left there was no change.  To the right... to the right there was a woman, a woman dressed all in red.  She kept pace with his climb and seemed to get closer with every step.  As she neared he saw that her suit was gray like his but she was drenched in blood.  In his right hand he held a Halliburton case.  In her hand she held a bloody knife that glinted in the glaring sunlight.

And now it's time for me to... something.  Maybe sew, maybe knit, maybe read the newspaper, maybe let in the furnace fixit guy.  For sure mix up some teriyaki marinade for the chicken we'll have for supper.  I'm very busy, I'm on vacation for a few more days.  Gotta cram in that relaxation while I can.  *pant, pant*

Thursday, February 19, 2015

B-b-b-below Zero

We're talking Polar Vortex here.  I don't think the weather-guessers have said those actual words but, Mother Mary, it's cold out there.  It won't get above zero today, I'm certain of it, and the wind chill's about -30.  Brrr.  I had an appointment to get my car's oil changed this morning so I had to go out.  I dressed like I was going for a trek in the Arctic, except I skipped the long johns.  I just couldn't face putting them on so my legs froze but my feet and my torso were warm.  And I wasn't outside that long.  Really.

The hawk stopped by for lunch but left disappointed.  There have been few visitors at the feeders the last day or two.  It's evidently too cold even for the squirrels.  I've been diligent about keeping water in the birdbath and noticed this morning that it was so cold that the barely above freezing water was steaming in the icy air.  Brrrr.

Yesterday evening I remade and beefed up the pink bib and got the green, monkey bib sewed up.  Now I just have to wait for it to be a little warmer before I go try them on their intended wearer.  You know it's cold when a grandma waits to visit her grandbaby.

I "spent" my last Christmas gift today.  Knit Picks has needles on sale and I've been saving my gift card from DS, DIL1, & LC for just such a sale, so I plonked the number down in the box and an interchangeable needle set will come live with me.  Thanks, beloved family, I'll think of you every time I use the needles.  I might even knit you something with them.

February 19-- The lichens covering the fallen branches were the only green things in sight.  Autumn leaves in reds, oranges, and yellows lay on the layer of brown leaf litter like designs on a Persian rug.  The lines of pale gray-green branches lent a surreal depth to the sight.  It wasn't silent in the woods.  Far from it.  Squirrels squabbled over the last of the acorns and black walnuts, and chickadees chattered and called from bare branches overhead.  Mary drew up the collar of her old barn jacket and then shoved her hands deep into the pockets.  "It's just that I think better out in the fresh air," she said to the man walking a few paces behind.  "You should have worn a hat."  Lewis hunched his shoulders even higher and grumbled, "No one wears a hat with hair this good."  He picked up the pace.  "So, have you finished this latest rewrite?  What did you do about the randy plumber?"  Mary stifled a laugh.  "I put the randy plumber on the shelf and, no, I haven't finished the rewrite, not quite.  Anyway, you're not ready for it yet, are you?"

Durwood and I are planning a little Chinese supper to ring in the Year of the Sheep tonight.  I found a recipe for fried "rice" with shredded cauliflower standing in for the rice.  We're going to go traditional tonight--a chicken broccoli stir fry with cashew garnish served on real rice and egg drop soup--but we've got a cauliflower we plan to sacrifice in the next couple nights to see how it tastes.  Gung Hay Fat Choy!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Not So Fast

I got a chance to try that bib out the other day... and I spent a bit of last night deconstructing it.  In one place the fabric wasn't caught by the binding (naturally I'd used a fancy complicated stitch there) and I didn't cross the front and back enough so that it covered enough of her front to keep her clean, besides the fabric's too floppy to stay spread over her tummy.  So I've got it apart enough to fix the problems.  I'll sew some flannel onto the front and back to give it a little body and then reattach it at the shoulders, after I resew that bit of neck into the binding, and then rebind the outer edge.  It won't really take long but I'm not a fan of picking out stitches and redoing things.  You can be certain I'll take more care when sewing the other one I've got cut out.

I waited until after lunch to call The Clearing to register for my fall class and got right through.  No redialing 400 times to get an answer like some people do.  If I'm after a single room I'll do the redial thing but the prices have gone up and I'm not willing to spend and extra $400+ just to have my own room.  So September 26 I'm outta here for a week's writing in the woods.

It's even colder today.  It's 2 degrees right now and it's nearly 11 o'clock and it's bright and sunny.  Naturally today is when I have an appointment for a massage in a couple.  D'you think the masseur would mind if I kept my longies on?  Stripping down, even indoors, in this kind of cold makes me shiver just thinking about it.

Oh, oh, tomorrow is Chinese New Year, the start of the Year of the Goat/Sheep/Ram.  We're planning a little celebration supper, nothing fancy, just a stir fry with a bit of egg drop soup for starters and a fortune cookie for dessert to see what's in store for the year.  So today's the last day of the Year of the Horse... hey, wait a minute, that means DS was 36 years old on his birthday last fall.  Wasn't he 20 about two weeks ago?  Wasn't I forty-five about two weeks ago???  Time sure flies when you're not looking.

February 18--Jeff Foott, View from Nankoweap, Grand Canyon NP, AZ.  Night falls fast at the bottom of a canyon.  With only a narrow slit of sky open, the canyon walls limit the hours the sun shines all the way to the canyon floor.  Peg was surprised how cold the water was.  This was the desert and to her that meant dry with baking hot sun most of the day.  She was glad when the sun finally rose high enough to warm the campsite along the river but within an hour the air was so hot it hurt to breathe.  Later in the day when the sun moved to the west the air cooled off much faster than she expected it to.

I'm off to remake that pink bib and see about doing the other one right.  Stay warm, shovel if you've gotta, stay in if you can.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Thanks, Mom

Yesterday I planned to make a couple bibs for LC but by the time I got around to it (knitting lesson, car appointment, chiro appointment) it was after supper so I only got one done.  I was just about to fill a bobbin with pink thread but then I remembered to look in Mom's thread box where she had the spools bagged by color and lots of the bags had filled bobbins.  There was a pink one!  Yay!  Thanks, Mom.  I got one bib done.  The other one is cut out and the neck binding is pinned on, I just have to sew that, sew the back and front together, and then bind it all around, which is a bit tedious with the pinning and easing but it's only time.  As long as I've got an audiobook I'm good.

The sunrise is moving around to the back of the house, and even though it's about 7 degrees out there I heard a male cardinal singing his love song when I went out to grab the paper around 6:30.  Pairs of juncos were chasing around in the bare branches of the apple tree so spring must be on the way.  It's the little things that make February bearable, don't you think?

I sure am liking this not working thing.  I figure I'll be hitting my not working stride when it'll be time to go back to work.  Oh well, I don't want to be without a regular paycheck just yet and I don't think Durwood and I are quite ready for 24/7 togetherness.  Although maybe having to put up with me all the live long day might motivate Durwood to figure out that he can get out in the cold after all.

Hey, today begins class registration for Life Members of The Clearing.  I decided not to wear out my dialing finger and wait until after lunch to call to put my name on the list for the writing class I want to take.  It's not until the very end of September so I'll have a long wait but just having my name on the list and a deposit made seems to bring it closer.

February 16--Jeff Foott, Strawberry Cactus, Big Bend NP, Texas.  It just didn't look right for a cactus to have red flowers all over it.  It especially didn't look right to Mimi lying in the middle of the patch of blooming cactus.  She couldn't quite figure out how she got there or how she was going to get up and out without impaling herself on even more thorns.  The only way she could get up without more pain was to rise straight up and she was confident that her levitating days were over.  Sager had sent her out on this wild goose chase with half a map and a compass that kept pointing at her left pocket.  How could she have been so gullible?  There wasn't any gold around where she lay and she was certain that none of the dark openings in the rock was the entrance to the Lost Dutchman Mine.

I'd like to think that I wouldn't be so foolish but I can be kind of a doesn't-look-before-she-leaps kind of girl some of the time.  Enthusiasms hit me and I jump before my brain kicks in.  I'd probably be laying there right alongside Mimi stuck with cactus thorns.  Hey, enjoy the day if it's sunny where you are.  I'm going to goof off some more.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Overcast But Warmer

Warmer, as in up into the teens.  Woohoo!  See, when the clouds thicken up they act like a blanket over the land holding in the heat.  (you know this, right? sorry for the science lesson)  Durwood noticed the other day that even though the temps never got above 10 degrees all weekend, it was sunny so the sun heated up the retaining wall timbers which created a micro-climate warm enough to melt the snow back a bit.  (I think noticing that kind of stuff makes life interesting.  it's science!)

This morning my knitting friend, VJ, came over to help me figure out if the stitch I found would work for the design idea I have.  We worked and figured and the answer is, sadly, no, not without a crapload of work and figuring and finagling, too much to get done and knitted before the April deadline, so that's out.  I might have an alternate idea of how I can use the stitch pattern and yarn I have picked out so I'll be looking into it later today.  After my car recall appointment.

Yeah, my HHR is one of the last vehicles that got caught up in the blanket ignition switch recall from GM.  Since I've taken this week off it's the perfect time to get it done and I wanted to get it done early in the week so I can loll around the rest of the time... until my massage appointment on Wednesday afternoon... after which I will loll more until the last second I have to go back to work next Monday.  (eeeee!)  It was quite difficult to not roar around yesterday afternoon marking things off my "to do" list but I kept reminding myself that I have all week to get those things crossed off, and there are fun things on there like sewing and knitting and crafting, no chores, nothing strenuous.  This is my vacation.

February16--Mark Green, Lightning Three.  The clouds massed on the western horizon, piling up black and solid to block out the sun's rays.  For a while no one noticed but then the summer wind dropped and even the crows down by the creek stopped their raucous cawing.  Matty hurried out to take the clothes off the line then she made sure the barn and shed doors were latched but first she turned the horses, Dixie and Fleet, out into the big pasture.  If a storm did come she didn't want them trapped in the barn.

My toes are cold.  Maybe I should have put on some of my heavier socks today.  Maybe I will right now.  I actually sat on the couch reading a real, paper book yesterday afternoon.  It's called "The Dead Beat" about obituaries and the people who write or collect them.  I know it sounds gruesome but it's really funny and interesting. Toodle-oo.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

It IS Above Zero

Single digits and sunny.  I was out doing errands today because it's not windy like it was yesterday.  Windy feels colder, I think, so I put off yesterday what I could do today.  Evidently a lot of people had the same idea because Sam's and Walmart were jammed.  It wasn't bad and since I was in and out of a few places and walking around I stayed warm and was even a bit too warm after carrying in the shopping.  Can I just say that I'm a fan of Walmart's price matching?  Austin's grocery waaaay on the other side of the river on the edge of DePere (about 5 miles away) has fresh asparagus at $1.88/lb so I cut the ad out of the paper, found a couple of good looking pounds of it at Walmart and got the price without having to put on the miles.  Durwood said, "Watch Festival will have it for $1.49/lb. in their next ad" but I don't care, we've got it in the fridge and can eat it all up and get more if someone else has a better price.  I don't mind eating asparagus two or three times a week when it's in season, do you?

Sam's had all their Valentine's bouquets marked down to $5.  I looked at them but not one of them smelled like roses or flowers or anything except the plastic they're wrapped in.  That's a crying shame.  My Grandma Frieda would be so disappointed in them.

This morning when I went out to get the newspaper I noticed that the sun has drifted quite a bit toward the north over the last couple weeks.  Remember I took that sunup picture a couple weeks ago when I was out snowblowing?  The sun came up right next to that house at the end of the block and now it's almost behind CB's house.  Frigid temps or not, time is marching on and warm temps are on the way.  The sun says so.

Yesterday I tried the recipe for Asian Lentil Soup Durwood found in a mailer.  It's good.  Of course, I couldn't leave well-enough alone; I had to add a can of mushrooms, almost twice as much broth because it was more like stew than soup, and a little lemon juice at the end to bring out the flavors.  DIL1 taught us that when things are disappointingly bland to add a tablespoon of lemon juice or cider vinegar at the end and it's amazing what a difference that makes.  We'll make this again, and next week's lunches will be very good.  (I put a bit aside for when I go back to work in a week.)

After supper I finished the second Choco Cherry mitten.  It pretty much matches the first one exactly. (the first one's actually the second mitten I knitted with this yarn, remember?  I had to knit a different one to match the first one and then I had this colorful one left so I had to make one more).  I don't know if I'm happy about the matching or a little disappointed.  Oh well, a kid will probably like matching better and the pair's for giving away.

February 15--Russell Byers, Sailboat.  Kay reached out to catch the boat bumper so the dinghy didn't scrape against the hull.  She secured the line to the cleat at the stern, climbed over the transom, and lifted the boxes of groceries out of the dinghy onto the deck.  She was glad they had brought plastic milk crates to use for shopping, it make it much easier to get things from shore onto the boat, and saved them from having to use those everlasting pink plastic bags they had in island groceries.  Tim was below working on the engine.  Tim was always working on the engine.  It was a wonder they'd made it this far with only three extra stops for repairs.

The beef stew in the crockpot is starting to make the house smell good.  Are you as suspicious of the safety of cooking in those things as I am?  I start it on High for at least an hour so the raw meat doesn't sit there gathering bacteria while it slowly gets up to a cooking temperature.  Anyway, I'm thinking I'll go downstairs to do a little sewing before suppertime.  Hasta la vista, babies.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Deeper Into the White Part

It's sunny today.  That's the saving grace, the sunshine.  It's also 3 degrees and blowing like crazy.  The little bit of snow that flurried down last night is going all over, up, down, swirling in the street, and peeking in the windows, then blowing away.  Yikes.  I have to go out but maybe I'll wait until tomorrow since the Wind Chill warning expires at 10 AM Sunday.  Yeah, that sounds like a good idea.  Tomorrow.

I got all my errands done yesterday. (yay!) I made my first visit to the new St. Vinnie de P store on Oneida St. where I scored a stack of books for only $3.50 to see about making one or more of them into a book clutch (and I'm sure the customers that watched me take off the dust jackets to look at the spines thought I was a tad whacked).  I'm excited to try my idea for the transformation that does not involve the use of glue you have to use with the windows open.  I'm not sure I trust the sticking power of glue, I'd rather figure out how to sew it all together and use a bit of glue to hold the whole shebang on the covers.

When I stopped into Hancock Fabrics yesterday to get a couple long metal zippers for my book clutch project I was waylaid by a couple bolts of fleece.  It was $3.99/yd., usually $10.99/yd. on SALE, so $3.99 was a steal.  I got a yard of each.  I don't know what I'll do with it since it's not approved for children's sleepwear but I'll make something warm for someone small, I'm sure.

Last night at Friday Night Knitting I got the hand part of Choco Cherry mitten #2 done, not sewn up, but knitted.  Later today I'll make the thumb and sew it all together.  Then I can cross that off my list.  *dusts hands off*

Dear Durwood's out there in the kitchen slicing carrots, celery, and onions so I can make asian lentil soup.  He found the recipe in some mailer, it sounded good to us, so we're making it.  It's cold enough today I may just climb into the soup pot to stir it.  (nah, not really, I mean ewwww)  Tomorrow we'll be making beef stew.  (told you, it's cold and windy, we need hot and hearty food)  Hmm, maybe I'll mix up some bread dough today too so we can make fresh bread with our stew.  What a great plan!

February 14--River.  In winter the river is almost silent as it slips past slabs of ice and edges around rocks that try to block its way.  The winter river is polite and subdued, letting the sun warm its surface so that wildlife in the neighborhood can drink.  The early morning mist freezes to the golden grass and pale green sagebrush making them glitter like carnival headdresses when the weak sun struggles over the eastern mountains.  Small predators prowl the evergreens stalking wary birds and rodents that burrow under the snow in imagined safety.  Wolves pace along the ridge silhouetted against the sky as they follow the deer's search for food.

And that's when I had to stop because it was time to snuggle my Valentine.  Happy Valentine's Day to all!  Now go smooch your sweetie, throw in an extra full body hug too.  Go on.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Suddenly I'm In the Jackson School Gym

I realized the other day that I didn't have any music to play and sing with LC so I went online to look up Tom Pease who is a homegrown kids' singer, a troubadour of the silly-songs-set from central Wisconsin.  When DS and DD were in elementary school he'd come once a year for an assembly, and I think we had either a cassette or record of him singing since they can still sing many of the songs. Amazon didn't have one with the songs I remembered, Banana Slug in particular so I searched for his website and there it was.  I tried to download the mp3, but every time I tried to check out it told me that my cart was empty.   I tried to order a CD but that would wouldn't stay in my cart either.  I scrolled down to the bottom and found a phone number, so I called it.  Tom Pease answered the phone!  The real guy.  I stammered around because he's Tom Pease but I managed to order a CD.  It came yesterday.  I just peeled off the wrapper and slid it into the player of the laptop.  It's playing right now and in my head I'm sitting on a rickety folding chair in a gym, that smells like pb&j sandwiches and snowpants, full of squirming, singing kids.  Good times.  I gotta listen to relearn the words.  (Yeah, that's why I'm listening, singing along in my head, and bopping in my chair.)  DIL1 even knew him when she was a kid, knew him will enough that they went to barbecues together.  Suddenly I think she's even cooler than I did before and I've always thought she was very cool.

I got a ways on the second Choco Cherry 2-needle mitten, it kind of matches, and I'm happy with it.  I don't know why it seems like mittens made this way go a lot faster than ones I make in the round.  Maybe it's going faster because this one's not an adult size?

It's snowing.  Not a lot, not enough to cover the ground, but it's falling at an angle.  That means it's also windy, and it's Friday night so there's knitting, which means yours truly will be out in the blowing snow flurries in a couple hours.  Can't miss knitting, nope can't do it.

February 13--Marc Muench, MM-9801.  Elaine could tell that the mountains she saw out the window of the plane were young, they were jagged with sharp edges and sheer cliffs, not soft with gentle slopes like the mountains in the East.  These ranges looked like they could chew you up and spit you out, and be glad to do it.  She felt the plane bump and tilt a bit in the rising air from the sun-warmed rocks and traced the silver thread of a river twining its way to the south and the wide river they had flown over earlier.  The guy in the seat behind her was going on about the Continental Divide.  Elaine didn't know if the woman whose bored voice she heard was traveling with him or not.

It's Friday the 13th.  I don't feel like I've had any special serving of bad luck today, not so far anyway, and I even got all my errands done.  Well, they were out of the canned soup Durwood wanted but I got a rain check so I'm good.  I'll zoom over earlier tomorrow and hope they've got what he wants, if not I'll try the next day or the next.  I've got all week.  Because I don't have to go to work until a week from Monday.  Woohoo!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

We're in the White Part

The weather map on the back page of the front section of the newspaper divides temperatures into 10 degree increments and assigns each a color from red for the "100s" to white for "Below 10."  We're in the white part today and we're not supposed to get out of the white part for a few days.  *sigh*  I think it's interesting that there are no increments below "Below 10," as if there are no further layers of misery when the temperature sinks that low.  Let me tell you that doesn't even cover a fraction of the misery when it's in the teens below zero and windy.  Add in blowing snow and we're in another dimension of misery.  I'm happy for sunny and 4 degrees today.  I don't have to shovel 4 degrees and sunny, nope, don't have to shovel it.

Durwood called me yesterday afternoon with the West-side Hawk Report.  It flew in, got its feathers ruffled sitting on the fence, flew down to perch on a feeder-hanger crook, moved to the back of the Emma's chair on the patio, and then dived into the birdie tree looking for lunch.  Durwood didn't see if the dive was successful but he got a couple of great hawk pictures I can share with you.

I've been meaning to knit another Choco Cherry mitten to go with that odd one from my last foray into two-needle mittening but haven't gotten around to it, so last night after supper I grabbed a likely looking yarn cake and cast on the cuff.  I got this far, maybe an inch and a half, and still not much color was coming out of the ball.  I could see it in there but it wasn't coming fast enough for me, so I pulled until I got more color, snipped the yarn, yanked out the needles and started over.  See?  Much better.

February 12--Peter Brandt, Timeless Arches.  Father Stephan's measured steps echoed behind him from the arches as he passed, caught up to him when he reached the refectory door, and then followed him back down to the sacristy door.  He held his breviary in his hand as he did every day, his head was bowed as usual too, but his thoughts were far from praying his daily office.  He loved the church and its grounds, attached as it was to the seminary where he had come as a young man called to a life of prayer.  Over the years, more years than he cared to count, he had gone where he was sent.  To the university for his degrees, to serve a country parish in Wisconsin, then to teach at an academy where he spent most of his life, finally he came back to live full time in the place he had always considered his true home.  He had always felt that prayers prayed in this beautiful and peaceful arched gallery took the express route directly to God's ear.  This morning news had come that someone wanted to buy the seminary buildings, demolish them, and develop a business park, leaving the church, the rectory, and the residence for old duffer priests like him to live out the rest of their lives in familiar surroundings.  Father Stephan tried to pray for acceptance of change but all he thought of was the loss of peace such a sale would bring.

Tonight's the Bay Lakes Knitting Guild's monthly meeting.  We're going to learn to thrum, which involves tucking little pieces of wool into your stitches to make something extra warm.  I've got my homework rows knitted and some finished things to show off and a project to work on at work if there's time.  I'm all set.  Time to layer on the woolies because, baby, it's cold outside.  But sunny.  Seeyabye.


Wednesday, February 11, 2015


We got some.  Not as much as those poor souls out East but we got a couple three inches, enough that I got my tilly out early to run the snowblower.  Naturally as I made my first pass the plow came down the center of the street.  He came around again but by then I'd moved the trash and recycling bins from our curb and the neighbors' too so he could come right to the edge and not swerve around leaving snow to be shoveled off the street.  *taps temple with forefinger*  Not dead up there yet.  It wasn't very windy or actually very cold this morning but I hear big winds and arctic cold temps are on the way and fast.  In fact it's supposed to be in the single digits for the HIGH all weekend.  Brrr.  Good thing I have a long list of things I want to do in the house.  I figure I'll roar around like a crazed weasel on Friday getting groceries and any random things I need for crafts I want to tackle, etc. so I don't have to poke my nose out except to fill birdfeeders and get the mail all weekend.  There will be soup made and maybe stew too, and probably oatmeal for breakfast.  When it's that cold all I want to do is wrap myself around a bowl of something hot and filling.

The Clearing Summer Schedule is out!  Next week is registration!  This is one thing that redeems February every year, for me anyway.  Even though the class I'm taking isn't until late September being able to sign up holds out hope that it will indeed get warm enough to not wear a parka, fleece pants, and heavy boots one of these days.

February 11--Tom Bean, Sandstone Patterns, AZ.  The striated colors made Dale a little dizzy.  Maybe it was the heat, maybe it was the lines of erosion that spread and met in odd places in a parody of perspective.  She had to sit down but there was no hope of shade except the shade of her hat brim.  Henry had made fun of her when she brought it home.  "Why didn't you go all the way and buy a sombrero?"  He always knew just what to say to make her cry, then he wrapped his arms around her and said he was only joking.  Only joking, my left elbow, Dale thought, sipping tepid water from her canteen.  You thought you were smart with your trendy black baseball cap, I'll bet your brains are frying.  "What are you smiling about?" Henry asked, wiping his face with his brand new red bandanna.  "Oh, just enjoying the view," she said, waving her hand at the panorama before them.

Time to put on my boots and head out to work.  See you later!