Monday, December 31, 2018

Snowy Day!

This morning around 10 o'clock tiny little snowflakes started to fall.  They gathered friends through the day and by nightfall it looked like winter.  Naturally the streets were wet before the temperature dropped and the snow fell so it's icy out there.  Just what you need on New Year's Eve when half of the population are out and about having a bit too much to drink.  BTW, this is what it was supposed to look like last week for Christmas.  Just saying.

I'm feeling more normal today after Lala asked yesterday if I was still taking anti-anxiety meds.  I wasn't.  I decided a week or so ago that I didn't need them anymore and had stopped.  Well.  That wasn't a good idea, not at all.  It hadn't occurred to me that the meds would keep some of the sadness away.  I took her suggestion and am back on the meds and feel quite a bit better with only one day's dosage on board.  Maybe I'll get off them next year--and not next year as in tomorrow either.  Thanks, Lala, I'm glad we're friends.

This afternoon I stirred up a batch of semolina bread dough out of the Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day cookbook.  I had to laugh when I looked at the gallon ziplok bag that held the semolina flour I had stored in the freezer.  I bought an extra bag of the flour just in case there wasn't enough and, of course, had to open the new bag for the last 1/2 cup.  When I put the newly opened bag in the ziplok I looked at the date when I stored the last bag.  It was 12/31/17, exactly one year ago today.  Funny.  I'm signed up to bring semolina bread to the writing weekend on Thursday and the dough is much easier to work with if it's at least day old and has been refrigerated.  I'll get the bread baked tomorrow evening and then give it a day before slicing it to take along.  As much grief as I gave Durwood for using some of his contest winning points on an electric slicer 40 years ago, I must admit that I am grateful to have it.  It's wonderful for slicing bread evenly since I'm bread knife challenged.  I remember my Grandma Angermeier saying that she could cut bread straight but hoed garden rows crooked but Grandpa cut bread crooked and hoed rows straight so they were the perfect couple!  Funny the stuff that pops into your head.

2018 wasn't a great year for knitting for charity for me.  I was a little distracted and busy.
(oh, really?) So since I finished that sock last night I dug around in my knitting bags, found the acrylic/wool blend yarn that I use to knit cowls for the Seaman's Church Institute's Christmas at Sea program, also found the bag with the variegated acrylic yarn and pattern that I use to knit preemie hats, and cast on a cowl for January.  A couple years ago I knitted a cowl and three or four preemie hats a month in between my regular knitting.  I'm hoping to do that again in 2019.  (F.Y.I.--if you're not a knitter but can sew they also need drawstring bags to pack the knitted items and other small things in; there's the dimensions and their requirements on the site, for instance, they want you to use long shoelaces as drawstrings so the sailors have spare laces.  pretty smart, eh?)  I consulted with LC about what play food I should make next and we agreed on a pizza.  I found a pattern with separate crust, sauce, cheese, with pepperoni, bell pepper strips, mushrooms, and she wants onions which I think I found in a hamburger pattern so I'll get to work on that or at least assemble the yarn.  I still haven't sewn the last 2 flannel dresses and I should really get the one with sleeves done before I zoom off to The Clearing on Thursday.  Or not.

Didn't write the prompt last night, it was just too darned late when I went to bed and I had to get up around 6:30 this morning.  Happy New Year!  Over and out.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Typing Fast

Here it is nearly 11 o'clock at night and I'm just getting to blogging.  I was sunk in inertia today until late in the afternoon when I went to Meijer for some groceries and a few other items, then came home and made the first decent supper I've made in weeks if not months.  The approach of January 1 has me resolved (that nasty word, so often the harbinger of failure) to really get back to eating right.  I am certain that I'll feel better physically, emotionally, and mentally if I'm eating healthy food instead of salty, sugary stuff.  I have no illusions that I'll never eat those things but I'll eat less of them.

This morning the Cardinal shared its breakfast with a gaggle of House Finches.  Usually male Cardinals aren't good at sharing but something made today different.


I finished the Woodland Plain-Old-Sock tonight.  I am endlessly amused by the way the yarn is dyed to make stripes and what looks like tiny flowers.

30 December--Samuel John Peploe, Pink and Tangerine Roses in a Blue and White Beaker Vase with Oranges in a Bowl and a Black Fan.  The art dealer looked at the painting and then at the artist.  "You think you could figure out a shorter name for this, Sam?"  "Well, no," said Samuel, "the name says what's in the painting."  The dealer sighed.  "Yes, I understand, but it's not very creative, it's just a list of the subject.  Couldn't you call it "Summer Afternoon" or "January Roses"?  Something that evokes the work in fewer than 25 words?Samuel frowned.  "But it wasn't afternoon and surely not January.  Calling it that would be a lie."  "As opposed to boring any customer with the endless title before they get to the art," the dealer said under his breath.

And that's it for today.  Today's toss was 3 years worth of receipts.  I'll take it to the shredder tomorrow or on Wednesday.  Time to hit the hay.  Tomorrow will be busy as I'll have company to keep me occupied.  Hooray!

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Sunshine, Snow, and Sparrows

It was sunny this morning shining on the fresh white snow that fell yesterday afternoon.  The blue sky and bright day meant it was about 20 degrees out there.  Brr.  That didn't bother the flock of sparrows that comes to breakfast here or the chickadees that have discovered the seed wreath I hung from the eaves.

The most exciting part of the day was the Zambaldi Brewing groundbreaking.  DS and DIL1's two-year-long crusade to get all the parts of the project aligned finally came together so this morning we all gathered at the site along with all 3 local TV stations, the village chairman, the county executive, and the state senator, plus the builder all showed up to extol the virtues of their dedication and to say how thrilled they all are to finally have the building starting.  Hopes are to have the doors open next summer.  Durwood would have been so proud.  I confess, I cried a bit on DIL1's mom's shoulder when the kids and grandkids put on hardhats, picked up the gold shovels, and dug a little sandy dirt.

Missing him kind of took up the rest of my day.  I paid some bills, texted a friend or two about inconsequential things, and ate crap for supper.

I did manage to knit the foot of the Woodland sock and started the toe decreases while watching a few episodes of Maine Cabin Masters.

That's it.  I didn't toss anything today or write a prompt last night so there's nothing more to report.  I'll perk up soon, at least a little.  I promise.

Friday, December 28, 2018

Looks Like Winter Today

It was raining again this morning but at about 12:30 little tiny snowflakes started blowing around.  Then they got bigger, gathered together with friends, and kept coming.  It didn't get much colder; it was nearly 4 o'clock before the wet flakes started to freeze, and even after Friday Night Knitting the roads were only slightly slick.  Whew.


I forgot to show you what my writing friend, ACJ, gave me for Christmas.  It's a pretty mesh bag filled with silver packages of Blooming Tea.  I don't think I have a clear coffee mug and I know I don't have a clear tea pot.  I'll dig around on the shelves under the stairs.  Maybe it'll look pretty in a white mug...

Well, I had my assessment with the YMCA trainer this afternoon.  It was a whole lot less than I thought it'd be, just seven different balance exercises and joint flexibility tests, so the whole thing took only 17 minutes.  (yes, I checked my watch when we finished.)  Which meant I had almost 2 hours to kill until KW arrived to walk in the pool with me so I worked on the machines, walked a little, and spent a few minutes on the elliptical machine.  But first I visited with my knitting friend, TG, who works at the desk at the Y.  I hadn't seen her in quite a while so it was fun to catch up.

When I got home I went downstairs and made another webbing and Velcro watchband for DS because the one I made last week was about an inch too short.  Good thing I had plenty of raw materials.  Stash is good!  You leave the pins in the watch and slip the Velcro through them, then you wrap the webbing around your wrist and secure the hook part with the watch on it to the band.  It holds tight and is hard to break.  I used to make them for our dive watches because the fabric tolerated immersion in all kinds of water.

I'll deliver it tomorrow because tomorrow is the groundbreaking for Zambaldi Brewing's building and I'll be there.  DS and DIL1 have worked so hard for so long to make their dream a reality and it's finally starting to materialize.  They've been brewing beer at a contract brewery for 2 years, selling it to bars and restaurants to build a customer base, and within 2019 should have their own brewery and taproom.  Hooray!  I tried hard to win the lottery so they didn't have to take out a loan but had no luck.  Since I don't really drink beer (I don't really drink anything anymore except water and coffee, oh, and Spreckers Ginger Ale [thanks to Lala]) I can't get a job there but I can do all sorts of other things to help.  Nobody would turn down free labor, right?

I didn't do any prompt writing last night but ACJ and I did a prompt on Wednesday so you get that.

28 December--We ate Chinese.  No one wanted to cook that year.  Mom died in October and we had all gone to our in-laws for Thanksgiving.  Now Christmas was staring us in the face like a loaded, double-barrelled shotgun ready to scatter pellets all through the family.  Em spoke up.  "What should we do?  Same as always?"  Heads shook, some nodded.  With seven of us there was sure to be an argument over what was the right thing to do.  Jack spoke first, "I think we should have one more Christmas the way Mom always did, kind of a farewell but keep the traditions alive."  Three people--Em, Mark, and Livvy--started crying.  Sam stood up saying, "No, nothing should ever change."  "Sit down, Sambo," said Ann, "things change, get over it."  I sat there ticking off all the things that would have to happen to make Christmas the same, starting with Mom coming back to life.  I looked across the table at Paul.  His red-rimmed eyes held mine, then he cleared his throat.  Talking and crying stopped.  He looked around at us and said, "Let's order Chinese for Christmas."  A collective sigh went up.  Heads nodded and shoulders relaxed.  "Good idea," said Mark.  "Yeah," said Livvy, "but get extra eggrolls.  Jack hogs them."

Well, it's longer that what I usually manage at night but it took about the same amount of time.  I worked hard at the Y today and I'm tired.  Nighty-night.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Just Rain So Far

We had a rainy day.  This is not normal for Green Bay, WI in the waning days of December.  Well, it isn't out of the ordinary judging by the last few years but this is "the Frozen Tundra" famed in song and story (and more than a few barroom jokes) and we're just not getting any tundra-ing.  It's just not right that we don't have any snow cover.  Lala drove home from White Lake today and called to say that they got a few inches of snow last night and that it was pretty.  All we've got is rain and I'm not at all convinced that we're going to get the cold and snow they threatened us with.  Last time I checked the weather the temperature's supposed to go up overnight.  Right now it's 45 degrees.  Not snow weather.

I managed to snap a picture of the pair of chickadees that were tag-teaming the platform feeder this morning.  They're hard to see because they're so fast, they zoom in, grab a seed, and zoom away.  I like watching them.

On Sunday evening Lala and I discussed the drive to and our stay in Yellowstone.  We figure we'll drive out on I-90 which will take us into the park at the east entrance which means we'd have to cross the whole park to get to our cabin in Mammoth Hot Springs.  We looked at the map and I remembered my cousin's recommendation that Durwood and I get a room for a night or two in various parts of the park to save gas and drive time so we agreed I'd call Xanterra, the company that runs the accommodations and concessions in the park (they're not part of the government so they're not shut down) to see what I could do.  I did that this morning and talked to a lovely woman who helped me get 2 nights at Lake which is near the east entrance, one night at Old Faithful, 2 nights at Canyon Village, and for the last 3 nights I kept the Mammoth Hot Springs cabin.  It'll be a little more expensive than if we'd stayed all 8 nights at Mammoth but it'll cut down on our time on the roads.

Yesterday when I came home from the Y it smelled like hot plastic in here which led me to think that more of the Christmas tree lights were burning out so today I dragged up the ornament bin and undecorated the tree.  Then I stood there with a Sharpie and marked the socket of every lit bulb.  Afterward I put the tree on the floor and tugged out each and every bulb from the marked sockets and put them all into this Tupperware to keep in the ornament bin so that when bulbs burn out on the tree in reserve I'll have all of these to replace them with.  Yes, I double-checked to make sure that the voltage or wattage (whatever) is the same.  The de-bulb-ed tree is today's toss.

After that I heated up the second half of the roasted carrots and cauliflower along with some more ham and a bit of sweet potato.  Then I watched "The Christmas Chronicles" on Netflix while knitting on the sock foot.  It was a fun, feel good movie with a non-standard Santa played by Kurt Russell.  I'd watch it again.

27 December--Ann Vallayer-Coster, Carnations, Pears, Cherries, and an Apple on a Table.  Jeremy came in the apartment door, reached to put down the mail and his keys, and stopped in mid-drop.  There was fruit on the entry table, flowers too.  Gail must be painting again, he thought.  It was dim in the entry hall, not the best light for painting but he wasn't an artist.  He heard a low humming and followed the sound into the living room where Gail lay stretched out on the couch.  She had her hands over her ears and she was humming.

Nope, haven't got a clue where that might have gone or what it means.  In fact, I'm rather glad that I almost fell asleep so that I had to quit because I don't think I want to know where that would end up.  I did some laundry today, mostly because all of my favorite ankle socks to wear to the Y were down the chute and I've got my assessment appointment tomorrow at 1 o'clock.  I need to wear clean socks.  Speaking of falling asleep, I just about am right now.  See ya bye.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Not Much To Report

I didn't do much today that was noteworthy or photogenic.  This morning I looked out and saw an odd sight--sunshine!  They're threatening us with rain overnight, turning to sleet or snow tomorrow into Friday and high winds.  Oh goodie.  I don't have anything to do that needs driving off tomorrow but on Friday I have my assessment at the Y so the trainer can work out a program for me to follow.  I'm hoping that she can give me things to do that will strengthen my left ankle so it quits complaining so darned much when I walk more than around the grocery store.  I spent most of the late morning on the phone with a friend in Goshen, IN.  Durwood and I met them in the Miami airport when we were going to Aruba.  They were going to the same place so we shared a rental car and palled around for the week.  We vacationed with them a few more times and have stayed friends ever since.  She and I had a nice long (2 hours!) chat.  I think I'll swing by their house the next time I'm on my way home from Lexington, add a couple days to the trip so I can visit with them.  What a great idea!

I met ACJ down at The Attic Coffee and Books to write this afternoon.  Well, we spent an hour and a half chatting about Christmas and a jillion other things and only got around to doing a writing prompt just before her husband was picking her up.  (their daughter's car's on the blink so, as usual, Mom gave up her wheels so the grownup girl can get to work, etc. parents are self-sacrificing like that.)

After that little bit of writing I drove right to the Y to use the resistance machines and the aerobic ones.  I need to work up to a decent amount of time on the one that's like bicycle pedals except you're standing on flat tray-like things and have tall handles that go back and forth opposite the feet.  It looks easy but I barely managed 10 minutes on it and I'd cranked the resistance down to 6 and the incline to 1.  Like I said, gotta work up to it.  As I was putting my shirt into a locker in preparation to getting started I heard voices behind me say, "Is that Barbara?"  It was our old neighbors, G&MK who joined that Y today to start walking to get a bit of fitness going because their daughter, KKK, and her family live in Utah at a high enough elevation that they'll be sitting still and get out of breath.  It was fun to see them.  Then I was almost through with my resistance machines when my phone rang and it was my sister-in-law in Ohio.  I've been leaving messages for a couple weeks to see how he's doing (he's got circulation problems in one leg and might lose it) so I moved into the hallway to talk to her.  After we hung up I went and finished the chest presses then went to get winded and sweaty on the other machines.  It's fun.

Lala left the bag of fresh veggies she put in the fridge to stay fresh so she could take them to White Lake and promptly forgot them.  She called and told me to eat them so this evening I cut the partial cauliflower up, peeled and cut up the carrots, drizzled it with a teaspoon of olive oil, tossed in a teaspoon of minced garlic, stirred it all up, and roasted it to have with some of the ham leftover from yesterday.  Mmm.   I confess that I devoured the 2 remaining crescent rolls too.  Hey, they'd go bad if I didn't eat them, right?  Right.

26 December--Currier & Ives, Canadian Winter Scene.  The ice looked as flat as a mirror.  Gabe tied his skates' laces, tugged his new red wool hat over his ears, and stepped off the snowbank onto the lake ice.  It must have been calm when the water froze because there wasn't so much as a ripple in the sheet of ice.  He must be the first one out.  There weren't any marks in the ice, only some wolf or coyote tracks over in the reeds that caught the snow that blew off the smooth surface.  He liked the scratching sound his blades made.  He felt so free gliding along.  He didn't hear the slow crackle of the ice cracking behind him and catching up.

When I looked at the photos on my camera just now I realized that I haven't been knitting.  I've been sitting with my hands idle in my lap staring at the TV.  It's okay.  I wrote thank you notes to mail tomorrow and realized that I need to go down and sew up a dress so that I can try out my new selfie stick.  Oh, I know that I don't need a new dress to try it out but there's some motivation to get off my duff right there.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Merry Christmas!

Well, we've managed to make it through another Christmas relatively unscathed.  I have and I assume that you have.  This morning I Facetime-d with DD and got to wish her and her family Merry Christmas.  (She promised to be here for next Christmas.  Fingers crossed.)  Then I tidied up in preparation for DS and family coming over for supper.  As an added bonus, they brought the supper.  All I had to do was bake some sweet potatoes and put some English toffee and carmel mix in a bowl for dessert.  He got a coupon for a ham from work and she bought a nice one, baked and glazed it, sliced it too.  I highly recommend getting a chef-daughter-in-law combination if you can, DIL1 is a joy to have around, has an unseemly devotion to Pillsbury Crescent Rolls, and can slice a ham like a machine.  Plus she makes my son happy, supports his dreams, and is raising my fantabulous grandchildren.  I'm keeping her.  See what she made for me?  My very first gingerbread house!  It's cool, isn't it?  (I forgot to ask, does one eat this, a la Hansel and Gretel, or is it just decoration?)

Today's toss was a big hit with the younger set.  I found a bag of snow globes I bought one year at Goodwill to use for white elephant gifts for the family exchange and then that never happened so they're going back to Goodwill tomorrow but I thought that LC and OJ might enjoy playing with them.  I was right.  F.Y.I. they're surprisingly durable.

See my gifts?  I'm excited to page through the WW Freestyle cookbook (with attached spatula) from DS & family; DD & family sent me a new selfie stick (the old one crapped out) and a lucite fountain pen holder which is something I had to ask what it was but I like it; there was a snowman PEZ dispenser in my stocking (actually there was a Cindy Lou Who PEZ in there but LC wanted to swap) along with Groucho glasses & nose, some candy, and a spiky silicone fish with a ball that flashes when you bonk it; DIL1's parents gave me some swell soap, lotion, and one of those diffuser things.  It smells really strong; I'm reluctant to use it mostly because Durwood couldn't tolerate fragrance so I've gotten out of the habit.

I wore my Christmas Converse high-tops today.  I bought them for ten bucks at a Rogan's tent sale about 25 years ago.  They have a green sole, red and white striped lining, red sides, a green tongue, plaid laces, jingle bells hanging from the back, and the star disk on the inside ankle has a wreath around the star.  DD was about 12 years old when I bought them and she was mortified that I actually planned to wear them.  So, of course, I wore them all holiday season and even threatened to put a sign on my (already embarrassing) teal minivan that said, "Hi, I'm DD's mom and I'm wearing elf shoes."  I didn't do it but the threat shut her up.  For a while.

After supper we watched one of the DVDs I got yesterday, Christmas 1985, and it was a smash hit with DS and DIL1, the kids were not riveted like their parents were.  It was great.  We'll have more movie nights this winter.

Didn't write the prompt last night.  It was after midnight when I posted to the blog so I turned out the light and hit the hay.  It's hay hitting time right now.  Zzzzzzz.

What A Gyp

I learned tonight that there's no Midnight Mass anymore, instead it's at 9:00 PM which was actually all right because then I got home before 11:00.  See my knitting friend AP invited me to go with her on Christmas Eve which is tonight so I did.  It didn't occur to me before the Mass began but the Bishop celebrated it.  He looks like a nice man, he has a nice smile, and his sermon wasn't too long.  Check, check, and check.  And as always, I cried through Silent Night.  I don't know why that carol wrings me out but it does.  I can't remember when I could listen to it or sing it without crying.  I like the song; I'd like to be able to sing it instead of choke it out.  Not very melodic.  Also the sniffling is distracting.  On the plus side my clothes smell like incense.

This morning when I plugged in the tree the whole top of the tree was unlit.  Once again I got out the LightKeeper Pro, clicked, and mercifully a few, maybe half of the lights on the mid-top lit.  The lights at the tippy-top didn't light and the ones in the middle are all burned out too so it's got a very bedraggled, un-sparkle-y look.  I think I'll end up taking it down tomorrow night or Wednesday morning because I'm uncomfortable with it blowing bulbs so frequently.  I suspect a short in the wires.  Before I de-ornament it I intend to mark the lit bulbs so that I can harvest them and use them to replace the bulbs in the exact replica tree I have downstairs in reserve.


Steve from Camera Corner called this morning to say that he had 44 of the video tapes copied onto DVDs ready to be picked up so I went down and picked them up.  I spent most of the afternoon writing the contents onto the DVDs because they were just rubber banded to the tapes and then watched three or four of them.  Man, I was young.  It was fun to see the kids at ages four and seven and a little older at Christmas with Mom and Dad still there.  Mostly Durwood's voice was on them because he was always the cameraman but a few times he let me take the video of him and the kids.  It was money well-spent.  Oh, and today's toss was the 44 video tapes--once I made sure that the DVDs played.


First thing this morning when I went out to pick up the paper before it got light there was the moon hanging out on its way to setting so I snapped its picture and sang a chorus of "I See the Moon..." in my head because Lala was still here and she would have thought I'm even nuttier than she probably already does.

24 December--Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Children's Afternoon at Wargemont.  Emily sewed while Lena read a book.  Penelope was too little to do either so she played between them with her doll.  It was like that every afternoon except on the very finest afternoons when Miss Pickle sent them into the garden, hatted against the sunshine, to walk the paths of the knot garden.  The white gravel of the paths reflected the sunlight so that it was almost brighter and surely hotter than if they'd been bare-headed and standing on the sun.

Okay, that's it.  It's after midnight so Merry Christmas!  And to all a good night.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Busy Days

I spent yesterday tidying up for my friend Lala's arrival today.  You know changing the sheets on the guest room bed, hiding the clutter, swishing out the bathroom.  Then in the afternoon I went to the Y to play with the machines.  It was about 3:30 when I went and I was surprised to see that's when the buff boys come to work out.  Nice scenery, and I didn't have any competition for the machines I used because, except for one slacker in a knit hat sitting on one machine poking at his smartphone, they all used the big kid machines and the free weights.  I'm not up to free weights yet.

Speaking of making the bed, I realized when I did that I really needed a new warm blanket for it.  The one that I had was for a twin bed and that just doesn't cover a queen mattress.  So I ended up at Walmart around 10:30 PM buying a warm blanket and a medium-weight blanket too.  The twin size blanket was yesterday's toss since there are no longer any twin size beds around here.  I confess that I didn't toss anything today.  Another busy day.

Lala arrived around 3 o'clock and after a cup of homemade chicken veg soup we zoomed over to the botanical garden to see the Garden of Lights.  We spring for wagon ride tickets so we went right over to get in line.  It wasn't very cold, around freezing, so there were a lot of people.  We were smart to go right when they opened.  It would have been an extra magnitude of pretty if there'd been snow for the lights to twinkle on but it was still beautiful and fun to be out at night riding in a wagon pulled by a team of draft horses.

The coolest thing were the metal sculpture trees that had "leaves" of some sort of reflective plastic or metal.  They shimmered in the slight wind tonight and sparkled with all of the colored lights around them.

I have to confess that I still haven't written any prompt writing so I hope you'll be happy with a lot of pretty pictures and very little creative writing.  I'm tired from spending a couple hours out in the cold fresh air.  Night.

Friday, December 21, 2018

Merry Christmas From Me...

... to me!  I flung caution to the winds last week and bought 2 knitting gifts for myself and they came.  The first is a gray felted wool bag with leather handles.  It's a good size, thick and sturdy, and absolutely gorgeous.  It'll last the rest of my life and probably the rest of my daughter's and granddaughter's lives too.


I also treated myself to a new set of interchangeable needles made to look like driftwood.  They come in a wonderful case with a couple pockets and in sizes from US 4 to US 17.  They're beautiful.  I don't know if they'll last as long as the bag but I hope that I can hand them down as well.

I have been sad all week and the things that I've stumbled upon in my "toss" quest haven't really helped.  Oh, I've loved finding things but it has been a melancholy finding.  At the very bottom of the bin with the swimsuit and lingerie fabrics were three lengths of cotton batik that I bought when Durwood and I vacationed in Malaysia and Singapore about 35 years ago.  If you look closely at the blue fabric on the left you can see that the Malaysian fabric dyers used a tire to apply the wax resist.  I made Durwood a "Hawaiian" shirt from it that he took out of town as his pool coverup for all the rest of his traveling salesman days.  DD took that home after the funeral and I'm happy to find a bit more of it.  The yellow and gray fabrics we picked out in a fabric store in Singapore.  The woman shop owner asked where we were from and we said "Wisconsin, which is north of Chicago" because most Asians at that time seemed to know about Chicago "where the gangsters live."  (yeah, they watched American movies a lot.)  She persisted, asking us where in Wisconsin because her daughter had married a man from Wisconsin.  When she said that a light went on in my head.  I said, "She married a Krause from Oconto.  I know because I saw your daughter's picture in our newspaper in the middle of a big family reunion photo last summer."  She reached through the curtain into the back room, pulled out a picture frame, turned it around, and said, "This one?"  There it was, a clipping from our hometown newspaper in a batik store in Singapore.  What are the odds?  We had a lovely chat over cups of tea.

The other fabric find is a pair of pieces of Durwood's ancestral wool tartan that his mother brought back from Scotland the year after we got married.  I was always going to make something for him with it.  That never happened.  Sorry, Dear.

Today's toss is the two boxes of baby clothes I've kept all these years.  It made me sorry that LC was a winter baby because these clothes would have fit her in the opposite seasons as DD who had originally worn them as a summer baby.  Oh well, someone's baby will wear them and her mama will love them.

This morning I went out to the Y to meet with Megan, one of the trainers, and get acquainted with a few of the strength machines.  She told me that the reason the muscles of the outside of my thighs have been aching is because I need to strengthen the muscles of the inside of my thighs.  So she showed me that machine and I paid special attention.  Once she had toured me around I went back with my workout card (where you write down the position of the seat and how much weight you use and the reps so you can remember that stuff the next time you work out) and did some reps on each machine.  Funny, even only doing about 20 reps with just a little weight, almost the least amount of weight, made my thigh muscles a little happier.  I do believe I'll go out there again tomorrow and have another whack at it.  We will meet again next Friday for a full physical assessment which will help her tailor a program for my fitness level and goals.  I'm determined to be in better shape for snowshoeing (if we ever get snow this winter) and for Yellowstone and the mountains.  I have come to realize that I'm not going to be back to eating right until after the holidays.  Today the only healthy things I ate were a banana and an orange, the rest of my consumption consisted of the delicacies I have made over the last couple weeks.  And ice cream.  Comfort eating at its finest.  At least I don't drink.  I'll get back on track but not right now.

21 December--Stamped "H Jacob," Directoire-Style Chair.  The chair they gave Lynn in the reception area was a beautiful chair of painted wood with a Chinese brocade seat.  It was not a comfortable chair.  The rosette in the center of the crest rail dug into her spine right between her shoulder blades.  The seat was too deep and the brocade was slick so she felt like she would slide off.  The depth of the seat meant she could either sit back so her feet didn't touch the floor and went numb and the rosette gouged her back or sit forward with her feet on the floor and be in danger of sliding off.  Oh, when would they call her name?

Happy solstice!  Tomorrow the light starts creeping back.  I commiserated with a codger in Aldi yesterday who was reassuring me that the light would surely be back today even if it was only a half of a minute at a time.  I agreed that more light even in tiny increments is better than less light.  This morning I noticed that one string of lights on the tree didn't light when I turned it on so I pulled out my LightKeeper Pro, plugged a socket into the gun, clicked a few times, and nothing happened.  I examined the lights and every one of that string has the telltale burned out black mark on the glass.  *sigh*  So now my tree looks odd but I can live with it for another week or two.  I have to wait until Epiphany to take it down.  It's tradition.  For sure the Nativity has to stay out or the kings and camels won't ever arrive.  They're too lovely to never hit the limelight.  Night all.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Today I Made It To The Y

I walked the circuit for 15 minutes and then walked on a treadmill for 15 more minutes.  Not too much but better than sitting on my duff.  Tomorrow I've got an appointment for a Smart Start assessment so that a trainer can work out a program to help me strengthen the parts I want strengthened and hopefully make my ex-broken ankle stronger in the process.  Fingers crossed.

Tonight was the Bay Lakes Knitting Guild December dishcloth exchange.  We have an abbreviated meeting, mostly announcements, then Show & Share, snacks of which there were lots of really good ones, and finally we have the dishcloth exchange.  We all bring a knitted cloth, someone reads a story that has words that we shift the cloth on, like tonight an elf named Lefty had trouble doing things right so the cloths shifted left on his name and right when that word came up.  Here's the one I ended up with.  It's very Christmas-y and I like the pattern.  I wore my Dollar Tree headband along with jingle bell earrings and my Christmas Chuck Taylor high tops.  Only one other knitter wore a Santa hat.  I was surprised that more people didn't Christmas up a bit.  A couple people had Christmas sweaters or tees on.  It's a party, you guys, party up!

This morning I baked cookies.  I read in an Allrecipes magazine the idea to bake your cookie dough in a round pan so it comes out looking like one big cookie.  I bought two cartons of premade dough at the grocery a couple weeks ago so I had the idea to use a small scoop and alternate peanut butter and chocolate chip in the pans.  It worked!  Except for forgetting that glass pans cool much more slowly than metal ones which caused that cookie to break apart.  Oh dear, I guess I'll have to eat the evidence.


When I opened the shade this morning I noticed that one house down the block still had snow almost all over it.  Most of the lawns are bare and the clumps around the edges are melting too.  It was raining this morning, for crying out loud.  How is it that this yard has snow on it when all the others don't?  I'm going to look at the Garden of Lights at the botanical garden on Sunday and there's no chance there'll be snow but it'll be pretty anyway.  And maybe we won't freeze like we usually do.


The first open flower of my new Christmas cactus fell off yesterday but there's another one open today.  Hooray!  It's very pretty.  I wonder if I can keep it alive and figure out how to make it keep blooming.  I usually have zero luck with this type of plant.

20 December--Titian (Tiziano Vecelli), Raphael and Tobias.  Toby held Rafe's hand and looked at him with such trust that Rafe's words caught in his throat.  Rafe and Toby's mom, Sara, had been dating for a few months.  Sara got called in to work and couldn't find a sitter.  Rafe volunteered even though his experience with kids was limited.  How hard could it be to amuse a five year old for the day?  Now, two hours in, he thought that if he could survive the constant barrage of questions he'd be okay.

I like the name Tobias.  Funny, there's a character named Tobias in the audiobook I'm listening to right now (To The Hilt by Dick Francis) and there's an angel, Raziel in the ebook I'm reading (The Stupidest Angel by Christopher Moore).  Raziel is kind of like Raphael, don't you think?  I want to thank LMC for reminding me how much I like Christopher Moore books when we were at The Clearing in October.  Laughing is good.  Look!  It's not even 10 o'clock and all I have to do is slap the photos on here, post it, and I can be in bed long before midnight.  Go, me!

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Didn't Make It To The Y

Today started out marginally better than the last two days.  It didn't help that instead of sunny it was cloudy all day and I didn't think to turn on the "sunlight" lamps.  I decided that I wasn't going to do yoga or meditate or do anything I didn't want to do.  Might not even get dressed.  But then I remember that KW and I planned to meet at the Y.  Turned out she had a doc appointment so we met at her apartment after supper and walked, stretched, and floated in the pool there.

First thing this morning I made the English Toffee.  I spread it into the largest and oldest of my baking sheets, the one that belonged to my long deceased mother-in-law.  It's banged up and not exactly rectangular and decorated with years of un-scrub-off-able grease but it's big.  That made the toffee the thinnest I think I've ever managed.  It's so good.  There's a very good reason why I only make Party Mix and English Toffee at Christmastime.  If I made it any other time I'd need a "wide load" sign for my behind.  I am unable to leave the stuff alone.

Today's toss isn't a toss--yet.  I was looking for some lingerie fabric that I knew I had last night and opened up a pair of totes that I thought were full of nothing but swimsuit fabric.  Turned out that on the bottom of one of them were five lengths of printed lingerie fabric which is exactly what I was looking for.  Of course it smelled musty from having spent the last 15 years in a tote so into the washer it went.  When it was time to put it into the dryer it still smelled faintly musty so I ran it through again and used one of the Tide Pods that P&G sent in the retiree box last week.  That did the trick.  I did separate out some way too small to use pieces and toss them.

So I dragged the two totes over to the laundry area, sorted the fabric by color (sorta), and got started washing and drying it all.  I was thinking the other day that I need some capri length leggings for working out and they're expensive to buy but years and years (and YEARS) ago I made myself some lycra pants.  I can do it again--and look at all the raw material I have on hand.  The only thing I'll need to buy is elastic.  We used to have a swimming pool so every year I'd make everyone in the family at least two swimming suits and for a couple years I made Speedo-style suits for all of the dive guys because it's a whole lot more comfortable to wear that under a wetsuit.  Folding the clean fabric was like a stroll down memory lane.  I kept the larger pieces of fabric because I could get two small suits from one length of it so I'd be folding and think "oh, DAM had a suit out of this," "JJ's second suit was out of this red and black stuff,"  "PMOC looked good in this lime and purple suit."  It was fun and kind of bittersweet.  I miss the dive guys but not enough to go back to work.

By 3:30 I had a severe case of yoga guilt so I cued up the app on my Kindle and did my daily yoga practice while listening to a mindfulness meditation.  It kind of helped.

The rest of the afternoon was taken up with wrapping gifts.  Not that I have that many to wrap, you understand, I'm just really slow, pretty bad at it, and take lots of breaks to nibble and watch mindless TV.

I didn't write the prompt last night.  I've gotten into bed way too late the last couple nights.  I'm going to try to get this done and turn out the light before midnight tonight.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Not The Best Day

It's a week before Christmas and I can't stop thinking of the one who isn't here.  Didn't go to the Y today to let my legs have a day off (they're rather achy).  I'll go tomorrow afternoon and work a little less intensely than I did yesterday.

Today's toss was actually a shred.  On the next shelf moving around the basement walls are the 10 accordion files where we keep the last 10 years' receipts; I needed to know how many years I have to keep.  So I called the tax accountant's office and, for good measure, called the financial advisor to ask the question.  The tax accountant's office said that I need to keep 7 years of tax returns and the receipts etc. used to prepare them, the remaining receipts can be tossed.  The financial advisor said that I only need to keep the last year's reports since they have all of them on file.  So instead of going downstairs to clear out the accordion files I hauled the boxes off the shelf upstairs and ended up with 60 lbs. of paper in a bin that I hauled to Office Depot to pay to have it shredded.  I will be more judicious when I empty the receipt files so that I can carry the bin instead of needing a dolly and another pair of hands.

In the afternoon I put together a batch of Carmel Mix which consists of a box of Crispix, a bag of pre-popped popcorn, and a bag of pretzel twists all dumped into a brown paper grocery bag.  Then a basic carmel--butter, brown sugar, corn syrup--is cooked in the microwave for a few minutes, baking soda and vanilla are added, then the whole mess is poured over the cereal etc. in the bag, shaken up, and popped, bag and all, into the microwave to cook for 90 seconds.  I then preheat the oven to 250, spread the mix out on foil covered baking sheets, and bake it for 15 minutes to dry it out and make it a bit less sticky.  So tasty and so not good for you.  It's what I'm taking to the knitting guild meeting on Thursday but there'll be plenty left to share with family and friends.

I mailed off the majority of the KY presents this afternoon and began wrapping the GB presents after supper.  In the past Durwood and I did that together.  We'd clear off the table and he'd wrap (he was much tidier about it than I am) and I'd tell him who it was for so he could pick just the right paper, then I'd put on a to-from and a bow.  I got lonely so I talked to DD for a while.  We were lonely for each other together.  We'll Facetime on Christmas, another reason I bought an iPad.

I noticed that the thin clouds off to the northeast were tinted pink so I went out front in time to see the sun blazing as it sunk below the horizon.  Next weekend is the solstice so the light will start to come back.  Hallelujah!

18 December--Felix Edouard Vallotton, La Paresse.  The day bed with its cover of black and tan graphic print and the pile of pillows should have been inviting.  It would have been if it wasn't for the body sprawled across it.  The eyes of the crime scene techs darted to look at her and then away.  Jacobs didn't know if it was her age, she looked to be about 30, or her beautiful brown hair spread across her shoulders, or the sheer number of stab wounds that crisscrossed her naked flesh.

Well, isn't that Christmas-y?  Bah humbug.  One more week and it'll be over, then I can claw my way back to a level of equanimity until the next whatever he's not here for.  Not wishing time away but I'll be glad when the "year of firsts without" wraps up.