Wednesday, January 31, 2018


Or maybe the right expletive is @$%&#.  I got a call from the mechanic this morning.  The
first thing I heard was, "Are you sitting down?"  Not good.  Never good.  It seems that what we both thought might be a timing problem turned out to be a leaky head gasket.  He took off the spark plug, it was cracked, and there was antifreeze in the cylinder.  NOT good.  This is no small job and I wasn't his only job today soooooo I had to call and rent a car for the next few days.  The car guy gave me a ride to the airport so I could pick up this Kia Sorento SUV.  It's very nice and will get us around for the next couple days but I'm not crazy about it.  It's too... something, I don't know what.  Maybe because it's one of those vehicles with the high windows so you feel like you're sitting in a hole peering over your shoulder just barely able to see out.  I checked to see if I couldn't raise the seat up but it's not electric.  Hopefully I'll get my old van back sometime on Friday and can turn this silver thing back in for some unsuspecting tourist or businessman can drive around in it.

Last night I sat and counted out pretzel twists, mini caramel rice cakes, and Hershey's Special Dark squares into 2 points portions, which added to the M&Ms and few bags of chocolate animal crackers live in the pantry cabinet so when I need a crunch or something sweet I can go grab something and not overserve myself.  (I will admit that my frustration-eating was in full swing today.  I [sometimes] love cars.)

This afternoon I sat on the couch and cast on a wool mitten for LC to keep from eating all
those snack packs I made last night.  The mittens she wore the last time we played in the snow are made of some sort of synthetic fur, got soaked, and her little hands were frozen by the time we came inside.  So I pulled out some of the pink wool yarn I used to make the Rebel Girls hats because we all know that wool keeps you warm even when it's wet.  Mom used to trace the kids' hands in the late summer every year and knit them each two pairs of wool mittens.  By mid-winter they'd be misshapen and semi-felted from days of hard use on playgrounds and snowbanks but we'd drape them in front of the heating vent to dry and press them back into service.  I figure I can get at least one pair knitted for LC before spring and next fall I'll knit two new pairs for her and two for OJ too.  It's time I picked up the mitten mantle so ably worn by Mom in her Grandma days.

Tonight's the Blue Moon.  When I went out to take it's picture it was trying to hide behind some thin clouds and tangle itself in the bare branches of the maple tree out back but I managed to snap a good shot, I think.  And there was a lunar eclipse too but it was at 7:00 this morning.  I missed it, darn it.  Slept right through it.

January 31--Chogogo, Caribbean Flamingo.  I hate pink and yet here I stand transfixed by a flock of pink birds.  Flamingos are gawky, they don't sing they grunt-honk...

That's as far as I got.  I woke up with my face in my notebook a half-hour after I started writing with just these few words on the page.  I have got to get to bed earlier than 11:00.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Done Shrug-ing

Last night I stayed up too late finishing the knitting of the Black & Blue Shrug and today while I stayed out of the cleaning lady's way I wove in the tails. then after she'd left I went downstairs and dug around to find the perfect button for it.  I think this carved black button was my mother-in-law's but it might have been Mom's or my grandmother's.  I don't know where it came from and it was at the very bottom of one of the button boxes but I think it's perfect.  I was smart and got out a plain old black button to sew on the inside of the sweater band on the back of the pretty button so it has more support to stay put.  I kept putting the sweater on today because I'd get chilled but then I'd have to take it off because I'm already wearing a t-shirt and wool v-neck sweater and adding a double-thick wool and mohair cardigan over it is just, well, overkill.  But I know it'll be perfect over a long-sleeved t-shirt and one of my 100 Acts of Sewing Dresses No. 1.

I spent some extra time after the button search sewing together the 2 pair of leggings I had cut out and suspect that the fabric of one pair isn't stretchy enough.  I was getting cold and had dug out yarn and needles for the next project(s) I want to cast on so I left the leggings un-elasticked and un-hemmed.  I'll get to that maybe tomorrow, maybe Thursday, maybe over the weekend.

After supper I finished January Too Early Birthday Preemie Hat #2... because tomorrow's the last day of January.  The first name of the next preemie hat I cast on will be February, won't it?

January 30--Architecture Detail.  From where Fran stood the scene looked like a painting by one of those artists that paints squares of colors instead of figures.  A red wall was pierced by logs over a white porch roof with the navy blue sea and robin's egg blue sky beyond.  In that moment she understood all those abstract paintings she had puzzled over for years.  She would never look at blues, white, and red the same again.  George poked the small of her back.  "Are you going to stand here staring all day?"  She turned to look at him.  "Maybe," she said.  He made no reply.

This afternoon I took the van up to the mechanic on the corner so he can work on it first thing tomorrow morning.  It's been running a little rough so I gave it a tank of premium gas and that hadn't helped at all.  Time to have Chad give it the once over.  Of course, it would have been more convenient to have the work done today but he was booked solid.  I have a 12 noon haircut across town so he'd better get it done by 11:30 or I told the owner I was going to be taking a 1-2 hour test drive.  I walked home, uphill, and it took less time and I was less winded that the last time I walked home from Joe's.  It's downhill when I go to pick it up.  I like downhill.

Monday, January 29, 2018


This morning I called the computer fixit store and was told I was welcome to come in to talk to Blake, the second-youngest fixit guy (I always trust a kid for computer stuff), who sat patiently with me and my laptop and confirmed after exhaustive and frustrating research that the new publishing program I bought to make the newsletter with is busted.  So it wasn't me and my 66-year-old brain that was the problem, it was the brand new computer software.  Whew.  Now I get to call and do battle with the company because, of course, I can't return an opened software package to Office Depot.  They very intelligently won't take them back.  Let's face it, it's just too easy to make a copy and then return the original one saying, "I don't like it" or "it won't work."  Luckily I have a much earlier version of the same program and a combination of DS and the second-youngest fixit guy helped me salvage all my work so the newsletter will be ready for sending out, as a PDF, on February 1 as promised.

That little adventure took a couple hours, then after lunch we went to see the hearing aid guy because one of Durwood's aids rotates around the little tube that goes to the ear part.  It's not supposed to do that.  Naturally it has to be sent in to be repaired which is 1/10th the cost of a new aid.  Then we went to Office Depot for him to sit in every desk chair in the store hoping to find one that's a bit more comfy than the one he sits in all the time and one that will more easily lean back for optimum chair napping.  No luck.

However in pulling into the driveway look at what I saw shining down on us.  It's two days before the second January full moon, therefore it'll be a Blue Moon AND on January 31 there'll be a total lunar eclipse.   Woohoo!  Watch it be cloudy that night.  

After supper I plunked myself down on the couch and finished sleeve #2 of the Black & Blue Shrug.  I still need to weave in all the tails and find a button for it but that's what tomorrow's for.  All that's on tomorrow's agenda is the cleaning lady's coming in the morning so there will be ample time for tail-weaving-in and button-finding.  Maybe I'll even manage to sew up one of the pairs of leggings I have cut out.  Gotta pull out my binder of serger notes so I remember how to sew knits on it.

January 29--Ganshi, Brown Pelican.  What's that old rhyme?  "A wondrous bird, the pelican, his beak can hold more than his belly can."  Something like that. That's certainly true of the pelican floating just offshore of the villa.  It's been there for at least half an hour trying to swallow an uncooperative yellowtail snapper.  Every time the pelican maneuvers the fish into position to be swallowed, the fish wriggles itself crosswise so it can't go down the bird's gullet.  They're well-matched, the fish and the bird, neither one is giving up and I get to spend a lazy afternoon in the shade watching an age-old battle between predator and prey.

Now I need to go back out into the kitchen and wash tonight's supper dishes.  Usually they go into the dishwasher but we had salmon for supper (yum!) and I don't put fish dishes in the dishwasher.  Let's just say they don't age well if it's a few days before the dishwasher runs.  Later, dudes and dudettes.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Frustration Thy Name is Newsletter

I got the newsletter all written and laid out and liberally decorated with photos and graphics
but do you think I could make it save as a PDF?  No, I could not.  The program said it was saving as a PDF but it bloody well wasn't.  I stomped and stormed and ate too much and it still wouldn't work.  I called DD and she told me about a free utility, CutePDF Writer, to download that will convert anything you give it.  I went online and got it, downloaded it, even copied and printed off the instructions how to use it but it never occurred to me that it'd take so long for it to work that I'd think it wasn't going to work so I got out of the program and got back in after asking Broderbund (the newsletter software mfg.) what to do if "Save to PDF" wouldn't work with Windows 10.  (man, am I sorry I let the computer guy talk me into letting him upgrade my Win 8.1 to Win 10 by telling me that Microsoft was ending support of Win 8 this year)  It told me to use Microsoft Print to PDF, I followed the directions, it saved as a PDF, I emailed it to a friend, and she could open it.  Hooray!  Then she called having found a couple boo boos, I fixed them, and then couldn't re-save it.  Arrgh.  So I tried saving it with Cute PDF and that worked.  I plan to call the computer guys tomorrow morning and see if I can't go in to have them help me figure out if it was a software, hardware, or operator problem.  *sigh*

Yesterday morning just as the sun peeked over the horizon I was luckily up on the Mason St. bridge headed east and managed to capture just the top curve of the sun--without driving out of my lane or into another vehicle.

It was so warm yesterday that a lot of the patio ice, the part that I'd sprinkled with salt so OJ and I didn't kill ourselves walking out to fill feeders and play "ow-tide" anyway, melted and got rotten enough that I could take a flat shovel, break it up, and toss it on the grass.  Of course it froze again overnight but at least I've got a bit of pavement to walk on when I go out before I have to be super careful not to slip and fall.

I didn't write a prompt last night.  I was up until after 11 o'clock working on the newsletter, then I wrote a blog post, then I fell into bed.  I was determined to sleep in this morning.  Guess what time my bladder woke me.  Six AM on the dot.  Do you think I could go back to sleep?  Of course not.  I have high hopes for getting to bed in the next hour and maybe sleeping all the way until 6:30 tomorrow.  Wish me luck.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

More of the Same

I can't leave it alone.  The Bay Lakes Knitting Guild newsletter, I mean.  I worked on it last night.  I've spent almost all day today working on it--and I think I'm closing in on being done.  Of course, as I scrolled through the pages before closing the program for the night I realized that I'll need to re-do the "in this issue" column because I've moved stuff around.  I'm not going to show you a picture of my paper-strewn bed again, partly because I've already cleared it off so that I can crawl under the covers soon-ish and partly because it didn't look much different than it did on Thursday night when I posted a picture.  Use your imagination.  It's probably more reliable than mine is right now.

Last night at Friday Night Knitting I got a lot of sleeve rounds knitted on the second, and last, sleeve of the Black & Blue Shrug.  I'm within 12 rounds of being done with it--except for weaving in all the ends and digging out a button to sew onto it.  Maybe I'll get it finished tomorrow, after I finish the newsletter, that is.

My friend, MW, came to knitting with a bag of kids' books he'd just bought off the Goodwill clearance shelves, cool science-y books that I wished I had seen first.  I made him walk me back up to the book department and show me what he'd left behind.  I bought the four he'd left although I think he might have gotten the best one, the one about trees.  I scanned the other shelves and found a toddler book about colors with flaps to open.  OJ is quite taken with books with flaps right now.  I hear from a reliable source that he's prone to tearing them out if the glue comes unglued even if it's re-glued.  Evidently to someone not quite 2 years old, once something comes unglued it stays unglued.  The coolest book I found is a eighty-ninth printing of the original Mother Goose rhymes.  OJ is at the perfect age for those little rhymes and I love the old-timey illustrations.  Not a bad haul for seventy-nine cents a book.

I'm semi-horrified and more than a little embarrassed to show you what else I bought at
Goodwill--a skein of Red Heart yarn that's about as soft as barbed wire in Packers colors.  DIL1 mentioned that she thought OJ might like a Packers hat and there that skein of yarn was for only $1.99 so I bought it.  Others at knitting assured me that the yarn will soften up after a few washings.  It had better because I am not going to waste valuable knitting time making something that's scratchy and ends up shoved in the back of the hat bin.

January 27--Janice Huckaby, Blue Tangs.  They overlap each other as if put there by a layout artist.  They swim at the same pace, turn as one, like they are each a part of a whole, not individual fishes.  The tangs are just about every shade of blue from powder to cobalt and a few shade toward blue-violet.  They seem innocuous but I've seen them descend on the algae patch of a damselfish and strip it bare as the damselfish works frantically to drive them away.

This afternoon I cashed in the first twelfth of my Christmas gift from DS and DIL1.  They gave me a blank calendar and a note saying it was good for one coffee, cocktail, or chat with DS every month for the year, so this afternoon while DIL1 worked (lunch for 400), LC napped, and OJ was in his crib but didn't nap, DS and I got to spend an hour just visiting, talking about this and that with no more interruptions than their dog Porter coming by for a pat now and then.  It was lovely.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Working My Eyeballs to the Bone

That's what I've been doing the last couple days.  Remember that I rashly volunteered to edit the Knitting Guild newsletter?  Well, it's time to pay the piper.  I asserted that I'd have it to them two weeks before the next meeting and that means it's due to be emailed on February 1, which is one week from today.  I started yesterday and worked intermittently in between doing a bunch of other things like going to the chiropractor to get my bones rearranged and meeting an acquaintance who is a poet at a cafe for an afternoon of writing together.  We've been batting around the idea of getting together to write for a couple months and yesterday was the first time.  We did a lot of visiting and talking about writing groups we'd been in before, what we liked and disliked about them, then we wrote for 20 minutes (I took my favorite prompt book along), read what we'd written, then agreed to do it again in a month, spending most of the time next time working on our individual projects.  For now that's enough for both of us, maybe one of these days we'll meet more often but this is a good start.

This morning I had a brainstorm and instead of plunking myself down in front of the computer first thing, I pulled out a big pad of drawing paper I keep on hand for the grandkids and drew 10 rectangles, then planned how I wanted the newsletter laid out.  I used a couple previous ones for ideas and had something useful in a couple hours.  That made my afternoon's work much easier.  Don't get me wrong, it's still a hard slog but having it planned out really speeds things up.  And I am confident that next month it'll be even easier because I'll be able to yoink out the old info and plug in the new.  Some things won't change, like the officers names, the Mission Statement, the meeting location and times, stuff like that, which probably takes up about half of the space.  I enjoyed the day even though my back's kind of hunched and my eyes are
burning a bit.  I'll get the rest done over the weekend and have a day to let it rest before I print out a copy to proofread, and let Durwood do the same, before I email the final copy out on Thursday morning.  I kind of shot my mouth off at the meeting so I can't fail to deliver.

I gave my eyes and fingers a rest last night and got the second sleeve of the Black & Blue Shrug started.  I'm almost halfway.  Woohoo!

January 25--Kailani Amalia Bernabela.  The little girl in the white eyelet dress stood against the blue wall.  At first I thought she was a trompe-l'oeil painting but then the breeze fluttered her hair and she waved at someone passing by so hard that her whole body swayed.  I looked for someone keeping an eye on her, some adult making sure she was safe, but no one seemed to pay any attention.  I walked nearer and sat on the half-wall of the parking lot next to the blue building.  She looked to be about six-years-old and well cared for.  Who would let a cute little girl run around on an island choked with tourists and swarming with cruise ship passengers?  If she were mine I would keep her safe.  She could be mine if I was quick enough.

Ugh.  I did not know that was going there.  Now I'm going to go see about a little dish of chocolate ice cream as a treat for all my hard work today.  I'm absolutely certain that chocolate ice cream will make my eyes stop burning and my back quit aching.  Don't you think so too?

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Crisis Averted

Today is Tuesday and Tuesday is $10 Tuesday at Papa Murphy's Pizza.  Just about every
week we get ourselves a large Papa's Favorite on thin crust, have them take off the black olives, and add fresh tomatoes for just ten bucks.  Not that we don't like black olives, we do but they're a bit salty for me and we like fresh tomatoes better. We've gotten the same thing so many times so many weeks in a row that most of the pizza people know my name and the owner handed me our pizza no charge one week a couple months back.  When I was laid up with my broken ankle I'd call in our order, tell them when Durwood would be there so he could just pull up in front of the door and they'd send someone out with the pizza and take his money.  Nice, nice people.  Anyway, we were nearly out of fresh Parmesan cheese to sprinkle on our pizza.  Horrors!  So the other day I went to Sam's, bought 3#, and this morning I got out the shredder attachment for the KitchenAid and got the job done.  Crisis averted.  Whew.

Last night right before I headed off to bed I finished the first sleeve of the Black & Blue Shrug.  Tonight I'll get the second sleeve on the needles and get to knitting around and around, counting my rounds, and get that other sleeve done so I can Wear. The. Sweater.  I want that sweater.  I need to quit doing foolish things like laundry and cooking and knit that sleeve.

Speaking of laundry, today is laundry day (because I'm down to one pair of undies; it's a sign) so while I was down there I sat in front of the open freezer for about half an hour and redid the freezer inventory making sure that things were listed on the correct shelves so I can find stuff.  I reorganized the contents when I defrosted it not too long ago and should have done the inventory then but I didn't.  I'm usually good at crossing things off but I realized when I went down for some ocean perch that wasn't there last week that it was time to sit with my pencil and yellow pad.  You know, it's cold sitting in the basement in front of an open freezer.  Just thought you might like to know that.

Durwood spotted this male Downy Woodpecker on the peanuts at lunch today.  I'm always glad to see them.

January 23--Ganshi, Brown Pelican.  Lina felt a large shadow pass over her.  She sat in the sun of early morning facing the row of sailboat anchored just a few feet offshore.

That's it.  Do you think I might have been tired last night?  I have no recollection of putting my glasses, pencil, and notebook on the nightstand and turning off the light.  Maybe I'll start earlier tonight.  If I don't get caught up in sleeve-knitting, that is.

Monday, January 22, 2018

My Brain Is Tired

I've spent most of the day doing battle with setting up the layout of the knitting guild newsletter and my brain and eyes are tired.  Of course it's a new program, or a newer version of an old program that I'm familiar with, but there's still a pretty steep learning curve at work here.  I've got the first couple pages (of 9 or 10) laid out to my satisfaction which means I have a long way to go but the good news is that once I get the framework for the "in every issue" things set up putting it together every month will be much easier than starting over from scratch every time.

Not only did I have the excitement of slogging through a new computer program but it rained all day.  All. Day.  Cold rain fell turning the streets into torrents and unable to make up its mind as to whether it wanted to be rain, sleet, or snow.  The only sure thing it had decided on was to freeze on the pavement to make walking treacherous.  I had to go to the pharmacy this afternoon and discovered that ice forms on painted pavement much faster than on unpainted pavement.  Luckily I'm extra careful walking on icy parking lots.  I'm grateful that Durwood's doctor appointment isn't until 3:30 tomorrow afternoon to give the road crews time to deal with the icy roads.  We will be leaving in plenty of time to poke along like Granny Grunt to get there safely.  Maybe I'll even have my flashers on the whole time just to complete the illusion that I'm an old lady driver instead of the young, vital woman who speeds and careens around corners that I truly am.

Last week's warm temps that melted much of the snow uncovered last summer's straw bales where I grew such wonderful tomatoes.  Look how little of them is left.  I'm hoping there will be enough left come spring for me to rake into a corner of the garden so I can try my hand at growing potatoes.  I've never grown them before.  I know my Grandma Angermeier grew them but I was too little to remember more than her digging in a mound of dirt with the pitchfork and shaking the dirt off the plant to find the potatoes.

Since it was such a dreary morning I decided to make the Bell Peppers with Chickpea Mash, Spinach, and Sriracha WW recipe I found in December.  I'd bought a 3-pack of bell peppers at Aldi the other day, got a bunch of spinach at Meijer, had a can of chickpeas, and onions.  It's a labor intensive recipe, lots of parts, lots of chopping, lots of dirty dishes, but it's tasty.  I was afraid that the egg whites weren't cooked so I extended the cooking time thereby ensuring that the yolks were cooked hard.  Oh well, it's a filling and tasty breakfast for 0 points.  That's right, pilgrims, ZERO points.  I added half a banana and 2 prunes (1 point each) for a total cost of 2 points for a lovely meal.  BTW, by sticking to the plan one day at a time last week I lost 3.5# for a total of 18.5# lost since mid-November. 

January 22--Banded Wentletrap (Gyroscala lamellosa)  The orange and white cone-shaped seashell blended perfectly with the sand and stones on the beach.  Leslie felt the hard lump of it under her back as she lay on her towel.  Like I'm the princess and the pea, she thought, rolling off onto the sand and flipping the towel aside.  The culprit was no bigger than a Jolly Rancher but it had thin ridges that stood up like blades running from top to bottom.  She picked it up and made sure nothing was living in it.  She had once carried an inexpertly cleaned conch shell home from Grand Cayman.  It had not traveled well.  Suffice to say that she had thrown the suitcase away because the smell was so bad and wouldn't come out.

I think it's time for a little dish of chocolate ice cream.  That won't strain my eyes, my brain, or my waistline.  Adios.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

What You Do When Your "Bad Companion" is 4 Yrs. Old & 42" Tall...

... you climb eleventy-billion steps (concrete with handrails) up the side of Ariens Hill in the Green Bay Packers' new Titletown District and pay $3/person to slide down an enormous hill on an inner tube that looked about the size of the inflatable donut I sat on after giving birth.  The guy that pushed me put a little English into his shove so I flew down the hill doing 360s and whooping like a crazy person.  I never thought I'd do something like that--and I can't wait to do it again.  Just because the playground is locked for the winter so no kid gets hurt slipping on snow or ice I somehow found myself at the top getting ready to go.  I couldn't let a confident 4 year old be braver than me, could I?  But I am not putting on ice skates.  Her parents can do that.

Last night's supper was just as good as the picture in the cookbook looked.  Chicken with Fresh Tomato-Balsamic Sauce is a definite keeper.  I even had capers on hand.  That's a sign of... something.  I guess that it was meant to be.

A friend and I were playing with the sled in the front yard this afternoon when I noticed that the setting sun was shining through the plumes of the pampas-type grass planted around the power pole.  It was more glowy than it looks here but I think this is a nice perspective.

This flock of mourning doves come for breakfast every morning.  Usually as I reach for my camera a squirrel comes to chase them away.  Today I managed to snap this right before the marauding squirrel arrived.

January 21--Traditional Architecture Detail.  On the lintel over the window with the wooden shutters was an accent that looked like a crown.  The house was painted a subdued yellow-orange and the shutters, trim, and crown were all bright white.  Pearl could see how much care the builders took to make the house just right.  The windows were square, the corners of the frame were precisely mitered to fit together.

That's when I fell asleep.  I was thinking at supper that losing the about 18# I have lost in the last couple months has made a huge difference in how I feel.  My legs were burning by the time we got to the top of that tubing hill but I wasn't too out of breath and spending an hour this afternoon tromping around in the snow dragging someone around in a sled and up and down the sloping yard wasn't hard to do either.  Every day this losing weight thing seems like a better and better idea.  I can do it one more day, one day at a time.  Speaking of tired, I'm bushed.  

Saturday, January 20, 2018

*Head, Steering Wheel*

No, I didn't have a car accident.  I had a list of 3 stores to go to today and I had a check to deposit at the bank.  I meant to stop at the bank first because it's a mere block away but the renter's pickup truck end is at the very end of the driveway so it's almost impossible to back out and turn the van to the right without clipping his bumper so I can go uphill, around the corner, and over to the bank.  So I turned to the left, went downhill, and promptly forgot about going to the bank first.  Which meant I had to move the endorsed check and deposit slip out of the outside pocket of my purse and into my jacket pocket for safety.  I went to Walmart, then to Sam's, and was roasting by the time I got out of there because it was over 40 degrees, I walk at a good clip, and I've always gotten hot easily. (no, potty brain, not that way--jeez)  So I took off my coat but didn't want to have the check and slip in the back seat so at first I put it into the pocket of my shirt but when I got out of Pick 'n Save (why yes, I did go to three food stores) and slid my hand into my shirt pocket I was horrified to find the pocket empty.  I looked under the van.  I searched all my pockets--jeans, coat, shirt, nearly dumped out my purse, rifled my wallet, nothing.  I went back into PNS, retraced my route, asked the service desk if anyone had turned it in.  Nothing.  I drove back to the parking lot lane between Walmart and Sam's, remembered which parking place I'd had (a lost glove and someone's ashtray emptyings clued me in) but nothing.  I checked in a couple stores to no avail but decided that whoever found them saw that the check was endorsed and planned to cash it.  I was sadly thinking of the $25, how I'd need to call the person who issued it to stop payment on the check (which costs the moon and I'd have to pay), when I looked up at the visor (still sitting in my parking place), and saw that I'd taken the check, etc. out of my pocket and slipped it under the garage door opener for safekeeping.  That's when I leaned forward and lightly hit my head on the wheel.  Several times.  I was sorely tempted to stop for a celebratory ice cream cone but I didn't.  I've decided to take my devotion to WW one day at a time; today is the third day of writing "stick with the plan TODAY" in my Bullet Journal in the morning and I have to say that it's working better than I thought.  Proof that I can do (almost) anything for one day.

Monday's snow has melted so that the seed that's fallen from the feeders is exposed for all
to eat.  See that angled path coming from the lower left?  That's the rat path.  It's a big rat.  A Chihuahua of a rat.  I've set traps baited with expensive peanut butter and sprinkled with cracked corn but had no luck.  We got an email from the neighborhood president with the letter he got from the city's rat patrol about how they plan to attack the rat problem come spring.  I know I need to tidy up some stuff I have "stored" (a euphemism for "piled up") around the shed but it's frozen to the ground at the moment.  I'm not stopping feeding the birds just to get rid of the rat and I'm not putting out poison.  If I can tolerate the squirrels, I guess I can put up with a rat.  For now.  I know some people keep rats as pets but that is so not going to happen.

See this?  I need to knit two more rounds of Black & Blue Shrug sleeve, then knit 1 1/2" of ribbing and the first sleeve will be done.  One more sleeve to go.  (yes, I kept detailed notes so that sleeve #2 matches sleeve #1; I'm not making that rookie mistake--again)

My assistant mentioned a few weeks ago that he needed some slippers at Meemaw's house and his wish is Meemaw's command.  I found these for five bucks at Walmart.  He loves them, calls them his Happy Monster slippers.

January 20--John Singer Sargent--Padre Sebastiano.  For a man of the cloth Father Matt sure was messy.  His office looked like a whirlwind had just blown through and Julia could tell where he'd been in the rectory by the trail of paper scraps, empty coffee mugs, and pens.  She started hitching a plastic grocery bag to a belt loop of her jeans so she could gather things up as she went.  It was Tuesday afternoon which meant that Father Matt was off visiting the old and sick parishioners.  That meant Julia had three good hours to get things done.  All that ended when she saw the shoes sticking out from behind the sofa in the study.  She'd know those unpolished shoes with the scuffed toes anywhere.

In one of my new WW cookbooks I found a recipe for chicken breast cutlets in a balsamic and tomato pan sauce with capers and rosemary that I'm making for supper.  It looks and sounds wonderful.  I think it should be a law that all cookbooks need to put in a picture, even a small one, of each recipe.  I find that I'm more apt to make a recipe with a picture of the finished dish even if my rendition of it doesn't turn out exactly like it.  So I'm off to study the recipe and clean some fresh broccoli to serve alongside it.  Ta-ta!

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Breathtaking Sky

I was very glad that I had my camera in my pocket when I went out to get the newspaper this morning.  Look at that sky.  I don't believe there was ever an artist able to reproduce those colors.  Many have tried but I think if they do get the hues and values right the painting ends up looking fake.  It's like trying to paint the colors of the ocean, you just can't do it.

Last summer a cornstalk grew in the narrow strip of ground between the fence and the retaining wall below the cob corn squirrel feeders.  It never got very tall but it produced an ear of corn.  I didn't have the heart to pick it but I noticed this morning that the squirrels had no problem eating the corn off that cob.

Tonight was the Bay Lakes Knitting Guild meeting and the subject was charity knitting.  That's why I cast on that little white hat the other day and after supper I cast on another one in bright variegated yarn.  Tonight was also when I delivered my Newsletter Manifesto to the members.  The last few years newsletters got later and later until they arrived only a few days before the meeting, too late to comfortably do any "homework" or prep before the program.  That's the main reason I volunteered--I think.  This afternoon I made a list of things important to me, like a submissions deadline 10 days after the meeting and member profiles so we get to know each other a little better.  Grandiose plans some of which I hope to make come true.

January 18--Mangel Tan, Red Mangrove.  The roots stalk toward the shallows waiting for the saltwater to return.  If the sea doesn't come to it, the mangroves make their way to the sea.  They hold the shore when storms come to steal the sand.  They shelter baby fish, giving them a place to grow up away from the exposure of the open ocean.  From the looks of the litter caught on the land side of the mangroves, they also shelter people partying and couples making love under the stars.  You would think that the man with one shoe would come back for its mate, though.

Man, I'm late with this.  Today got away from me in so many ways.  Every morning I wake up thinking that the hours will stretch out in front of me and I end up scrambling around being surprised at how much time has passed.  Tomorrow promises to be the same.  I need to sleep.  Nighty-night.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

So I Won't Lie

When I went to bed last night I was six rounds from being done with the white Too Early Birthday Preemie Hat and when I blogged yesterday I assured my legions of readers that I'd finish it today.  So after supper I planted myself on the couch and finished it so I wouldn't have to lie to you all.  May I say that it is singularly difficult to photograph a solid white knitted object.

The sky this morning was gorgeous, well worth shoving my feet into my boots, zipping up my hoodie, and going out into the backyard to snap the pretty sky.  Yes, I had on pants.  I learned my lesson on April 1, 2016 when I slipped on a frozen rag rug, slingshot-ing my left slipper into the middle of the yard, and breaking my ankle while wearing only a camisole, hoodie, and underpants.  Nope, not doing that again.

When I turned back to go inside I liked the way the snowy chair, pots, and birdie tree looked
so you get to see that too.  It's cold here, no surprise it being winter and all, and I'm glad there's snow even though it's marginally annoying to have to shovel the driveway but I'm grateful that there aren't sidewalks on our street so I don't have to shovel those too.  Of course if we get more than a couple inches of the fluffy kind of snow or any of the wet, heavy stuff there's always my trusty red snowblower so I don't break my back or any other bones.  I find I'm kind of in favor of them remaining in one piece.  You know, I always thought that it'd be romantic and kind of fun to have a broken arm or leg and get to lie around being waited on and watching a lot of TV or reading.  Nope.  Not even close.  It's painful and boring and frustrating... did I mention painful?  My advice?  Avoid it at all costs.  Hire a kid to sprinkle salt in front of your path when it's slick so you never kah-wang your slipper out into the yard and end up sitting on an icy rug with a broken damned ankle on April Fool's Day.  (where did all that come from?  sorry for the minor rant)

Last week I got two new WW cookbooks with recipes from the new Freestyle plan so I've been paging through them, finding all sorts of yummy things to cook.  Tonight we had Pea & Cherry Tomato Frittata into which I stirred the leftover pork chop meat from the weekend.  Yum.  Durwood, who is a big fan of gravy, thought it was too dry so I heated up part of a jar of beef gravy for him to slop over the top of it but it was just right for me.  Because I cut the frittata into 4 servings instead of 6, it "cost" 2 points and adding in the pork added 3 points which adds up to a grand total of 5 points for a delicious supper.  I'm happy to say that we'll be having it again tomorrow.

January 17--Flat Sea Biscuit.  The water felt cool on her heated skin as she waded in from the beach.  The waves were small and felt like soft hands pattering her as she got into water over her knees.  She put on her fins, then her mask and snorkel, and slid under the surface, feeling the cool water close over her head.  She was instantly in another world.  Traffic sounds disappeared as did human voices.  Now she heard the far-off buzz of a boat motor and the crunch of parrotfish taking bites out of the coral.  Sand dollars or sea biscuits lay on the sand like bread crumbs leading her to the darker blue of deeper water where the silver blades of barracuda patrolled the drop-off.

Man, what I wouldn't give to be standing on the beach, fins and mask in hand, ready to wade in.  Ah well.  We got an email from the outgoing president of the knitting guild the other day saying that the woman who had done the newsletter wouldn't be doing it anymore and I found myself emailing her this morning and volunteering to take it on.  As if I don't have enough going on, but it's only once a month...  Famous last words...  Tomorrow night's the meeting and I intend to inform the membership that the submission period is severely shortened and that I expect to hear from all of them.  If I have my way their days of inactivity and "let the other woman do it" are coming to an end.  I has spoken.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

The Fluffy Kind of Snow

We had more snow overnight.  You can see how many inches by looking at the roofs of the bird feeders.  One thing I like about fluffy snow is that it's lightweight to shovel.  Even the plow drift this morning was no match for me and my scooper shovel.  It pains me to say this but I'm glad I don't live in Door County this week.  Ephriam got 18 inches of snow overnight when the storm from the west that hit us joined forces with a band of lake-effect snow from the east that didn't make it this far.  Lucky them.

I was very frustrated, computer-wise. yesterday afternoon.  I picked up a book on CDs from the library and, as I have in the past, downloaded each disc into iTunes in preparation to loading it onto my iPod so I could listen to it.  I don't keep them, that would be stealing, but I don't have a working disc player anymore so I convert them to a format I have the technology for, listen, and then delete.  Well.  It's been a while since I needed to download an audiobook that way and much to my consternation my computer wouldn't recognize my iPod.  I googled how to fix it, followed the instructions, and was unsuccessful.  Bah.  I called Amazon but there's no way to convert something on iTunes to a format that can be loaded onto a Kindle.  I was stuck--and frustrated.  (ask Durwood)  After I shoveled the driveway this morning I tucked my laptop and iPod into a carrier and went down to Cyberworks, the place that rooted out all the viruses I had acquired, to see if one of their smart guys could help.  On their computers iTunes recognized my iPod.  He uninstalled and reinstalled iTunes on my computer, still no dice.  He and I were chatting and I asked if there was another program I could use.  He said all of his music is on his phone.  I said that I dind't have an iPhone, that I have an Android phone.  He did too so he fetched his phone, I pulled mine out of my purse, and he showed me an app to download and how I could attach my phone to my laptop and fong all of the "music" from my computer onto the SD card in my phone.  I thought it was all in a separate iTunes file but it's all just in the music folder.  Hooray!  I cast off the Apple chains, I even uninstalled iTunes.  Ha!  Take that Apple.

At the Bay Lakes Knitting Guild meeting on Thursday night the program is about knitting for charity so we got an email with a pattern for a baby hat and a request to bring along yarn and needles to knit one.  Well, I have a favorite preemie hat pattern and a whole bag of brightly colored yarn so I decided to cast one on before the meeting and work on it.  When I was looking through the yarn & project bin next to the couch I found the preemie hat project bag but there was also a stray skein of white acrylic yarn.  I've never made a solid color preemie hat much less a white one so I decided that I needed to.  This is as far as I've gotten so far.  It'll probably be done by Thursday.  Oh, and I can't forget to swing into Aldi tomorrow to pick up a few cans of food for the food bank at the church that lets us use their room for free.

In other knitting news, I'm about halfway to the ribbing of the first sleeve of the Black & Blue Shrug.  I felt very proud of myself last night when I figured out how many stitches to decrease when so I'd have the correct number to make the Knit 2, Purl 2 ribbing without fudging stitches.

Just as the sun started its way toward the horizon I looked out to see snowflakes falling.  The horizon was clear so the pinkish sunset light colored the air but there was a cloud over us sending a snow flurry to go with it.  It was very pretty.  I had the devil of a time capturing it
until I realized that the neighbor's brick orange house was the perfect backdrop to make the flakes visible.  Thanks for painting your house that color, M & T.


January 16--Chogogo, Caribbean Flamingo.  The big pink birds with their upside down beaks and knees that bent like elbows stared at Jake.  He had parked near the lighthouse and walked into the Flamingo Sanctuary on a road that ran between salt ponds.  He ignored the "No Trespassing" signs that leaned drunkenly on rusted posts driven into the hard ground.  There was only one other place on the island to photograph flamingos.   On the north end they congregated on an island in the only lake on Bonaire but he had no way to get out to the island.  Here on the south end he could walk up to them.  He didn't drive because the dust plume would betray his presence and probably bring some officious flamingo police down on his case.  All he wanted were a few shots of the birds and to maybe see one of their gawky gray chicks if he was lucky.  He raised his camera and focused when he heard the gut-tightening sound of a gun being cocked behind him.  "Didn't you see the signs?" a deep, accented voice asked softly from behind him.

Our diving friends brought back a Bonaire week-at-a-glance calendar for me and sent it over so I'm using the pictures in there for nightly prompts.  I feel like I'm cheating on the Art Gallery Page-a-day calendar but I can't stop writing about the Bonaire calendar pictures.  I'll go back to the art when the warm place pictures run out.  I promise.

Monday, January 15, 2018


I didn't know it was supposed to snow today although I expected some weather-related excitement when there was a little graphic in the corner of the TV screen last night scrolling through county names listing "Winter Weather Advisory" for some and "Winter Weather Warning" for others.  I never know which is worse but this time we got the less bad end of that stick.  First good thing, it generally has to get warmer than zero to snow.  Second good thing, we only got about 3 inches of fluffy snow.  Third good thing, the roads weren't too slippery when we had to go out for Durwood's two (2!) doctor's appointments today.  Fourth good thing, most people were taking their time and driving sanely.  The only bad thing is in order for it to get warmer and for it to snow, clouds have to come and obscure the blue sky and the sunshine so Barbara gets grumpy and sad when it isn't sunny.  Four to one is pretty good odds, no?


At breakfast the last morning of my writing weekend the organizer had a gift for each participant.  Her niece who is a potter made a little amulet for each of us with a flying bird on it.  The bird is flying upwards striving for the heights.  I've hung mine on my dresser mirror so I see it when I'm dressing in the morning to remind me to keep striving to improve--my writing, my attitude, my resolve not to assume ownership of other people's problems.  That little bird is saying, "You're not responsible for fixing everyone, Barbara" to me.  At least I'm imagining that it is.

(note to self:  make sure that the lid of your desk-side water bottle is screwed on tight so you quit dribbling water down your left side every time you take a drink)

Want to see a knitting trick?  I know I haven't shown you the dishcloth I got in the Bay Lakes Knitting Guild December meeting swap.  The president of the guild read a story with many mentions of "right" and "left."  Each time one of those words was said we passed whichever dishcloth we had at the moment in that direction.  (the funny thing was if there'd been just one more "right" we'd have all gotten our own cloths back)  This is the one I ended up with.  Pretty green and white stripes if you look straight down at it.  But look what happens when you look at it at an angle.  Ta-da!  A pine tree.  It's called shadow knitting.  Pretty cool, huh?

January 15--Yuana, Green Iguana.  They look like miniature dragons or dinosaurs with the spikes along their spines and their assumption that they are masters of all they survey.  Their calculating golden eyes swivel to keep you in sight and to catch any appetizing moth or insect that comes too near.

That's all she wrote last night.  I fell asleep less than 5 minutes into my bedtime guided meditation.  I must have been really tired.  If I'm lucky it'll stop snowing soon so I don't have to go out and shovel the driveway again but I'm not holding my breath.  Time to dig around to see what's available for supper.  Hmm, lentils & rice?  Leftover pork chops?  Maybe Durwood and I will negotiate and both get what we want.