Thursday, August 22, 2019

In That Limbo Land...

... between being at home and going on vacation.  Today I managed to accomplish a couple more things on my dwindling list--went to the bank for walking around money, got an airplane-safe yarn cutter, dug out some anklet sweat socks to use to protect my camera lenses in my carry-on bag.

I had a session with T the Trainer this morning, the last one for two weeks, because he won't be in Wyoming even if there's a Y anywhere near where we'll be, which I don't think there is.  I am taking along a yoga mat so that I'll be able to yog in the morning without writhing around on a dusty tile floor.

The hummingbird came for a snack and I couldn't resist getting more photos and I insist on sharing one with you.  I dug out a much bigger nectar feeder and made 2 cups of sugar water then hung it outside around dusk.  I hope the morning relay of hummers figures out that the new feeder is for them.  They're such creatures of habit.  One year I moved the crook a few inches and watched an early visitor stop at the exact spot and elevation where the feeder used to be.  My jaw dropped.  Good thing Durwood was watching too so someone believed me.

This chipmunk had a lot to say this morning.  It sat on the step outside the patio door chirping over and over until I lost patience and knocked on the glass to shut it up.  It moved to the top of the Adirondack chair to continue its serenade or newscast or rant.  Goofy thing.

Remember I said that I went to Joanne for an airplane safe yarn cutter up in the first paragraph?  Well, that wasn't the only thing I bought.  (big surprise, I know)  I also had a yard of swimsuit lining on my list but then I turned down the aisle where the performance fabrics are but had to pass the bolts of flannel first.  I found a photo of a flannel shirt made with a small plaid and big plaid of the same colors and really liked it so I've been looking for matching or coordinating plaids for a couple years.  Today I found these.  I got the same amount of each so that I can decide later if I want to make a big plaid dress with small plaid sleeves or vice versa.  Red, black, and white--my three favorite colors.

This afternoon I knitted a few rows on Car Knitting Warshrag #15 so that it's got some length on it when I next pull it out to knit on the bridge, in a waiting room, or at a meeting.

Then I went over to HH's house/yard to knit for an hour or so and added a few rounds to the Choco Rainbow Sock that will be my airplane and vacation knitting.  Man, I love the way this yarn looks in this pattern.

22 August--Barbara Malcolm,  Horizon. 

Just as I’d suspected, the news that Abel had spent the night at my place had traveled all over town before the last snowplow had finished clearing the roads.  When I came in from snow-blowing my walk and driveway the phone was ringing.  And it kept ringing all day long and into the evening.
Clara’s was the first call I caught.  It was short and to the point.
“Got the pot on?” she asked.
“I can put it on,” I said. 
“Great,” she said, “I’m strapping on my snowshoes.”  And she hung up.
That meant I had about ten minutes to get the coffee made and get ready for the first interrogation.  I dearly loved Clara but one of her faults was the inability to keep a secret.  That was why our heart to hearts had always been more of her heart and less of mine.  I knew that most of  what I said to her would hit the grapevine as soon as she got home, so I had to decide, as always, what I wanted to whole town to hear.
I hadn’t even finished making the coffee when the phone rang again.  It was Mavis, the town beautician and chief gossip.  She said she was calling to see if I wanted to take advantage of her mid-winter haircut special but I could tell by her tone of voice that she had already heard a rumor and was hoping for a scoop.
In a town the size of Kingman, gossip was coin of the realm.  It was the grease that kept the wheels moving.  The base of power didn’t lie in the elected town officials, it was held by the woman with the sharpest ears and fastest tongue.
Mavis deserved her spot at the top of the grapevine.  Her living room beauty shop had been “gossip central” for over thirty years.  Mavis’ strong fingers and sympathetic eyes were masters at pulling out things you weren’t sure you wanted to share while she massaged your scalp, resistance was lowered by the soothing scent of the shampoo, and the whine of the hair dryers gave an air of the confessional to the room, making you feel like no one could hear you.
On the positive side, sharing news at Mavis’ meant you only had to tell things once.  On the negative side, Mavis and her “stringers” had big reputations to uphold.  They were not above embroidering a chance remark into something more sensational.
Friendships had been made, broken, and mended under the washed-out aqua of those beautician’s drapes.  Every stage of life from puberty to menopause had been discussed and survived.  Divorces were diverted or dissected, and many a straying spouse found his carefully constructed web of lies unable to withstand Mavis’ scrutiny.  Her beauty shop was the castle of power in Kingman and Mavis was the queen.
            It had been nearly a year since I’d gotten a haircut there and I was sure her nose was out of joint that I had a new look and hadn’t gone to her for it.  I thanked her politely for her call and told her I’d pass on the offer.  She didn’t miss a beat.  She asked if I’d been doing anything interesting lately, the word “interesting” coyly emphasized.  I said not really, just painting, both watercolors and the rooms of the house.  That launched a series of questions about my redecorating; she’d obviously heard I’d given away all my living room furniture and bought new.  And I wouldn’t be surprised if her spies hadn’t learned that I had new dishes too.  It took some time, and the promise of a visit, but I finally managed to get off the phone.
            By that time I could hear Clara coming up the back steps, stamping the snow off her boots.  The porch door opened and she called out a greeting while hanging up her jacket.
            “Perfect timing,” I said, hearing the gurgling that signaled the end of the brewing.  “Want some coffee cake to go with it?  I could thaw some out.”
            She came over to the counter, nudged me with her elbow, and said, “I want the news.”
            We carried our coffee mugs to the table and sat down in our usual places.  “What news?  It’s been snowing; there’s nothing new.”
            “Don’t tease me, Gail.  You know I’m dying of curiosity, so tell.”
            “There’s really nothing to tell.  Abel and I went to our separate beds shortly after you and Hank left.  We had breakfast together and he left.  That’s it.”
            “That’s it?  That can’t be it.  I see the way he looks at you when he thinks no one’s looking.  Come on, Gail, I’m your oldest friend.  I deserve more than that sanitized version of what happened when you spent the night with a man who’s not your husband.”
            I had to laugh.  “Clara, there really isn’t much more to tell.  He kissed me and I have to admit I kissed him back.  Sorry to be such a disappointment.”
            “He kissed you?  A lot?  Is he a good kisser?”  Clara’s eyes shone and she leaned toward me, looking hard at my eyes as if she could read what had really occurred if she looked close enough.
            “Yeah, he’s a pretty good kisser.  But a telemarketer interrupted us and I guess the impulse passed.  Then he went home.”  She looked unconvinced.  “I swear, Clara, nothing else happened.”
            “Okay, if you say so.”  A sly look shaded her eyes.  “But I heard Abel was real hot when he was going with Dottie Swanson a few years back and I don’t think a goodbye kitchen kiss would be enough to earn him that reputation.  Come on, Gail, give.”
            “Honestly, there’s nothing more to tell.  Abel was a perfect gentleman.”  I could feel my face turning red.
            “Ha!  You’re blushing.  Something else did happen.  I knew it.”  While she was peppering me with questions, she walked over, picked up the coffee pot, and filled our mugs, even though neither of us had drunk more than half.  “Did he get fresh?  Sneak into your bedroom offering to warm you up?  What?”  She sat back down looking pleased with herself.
            “Well, I have to admit it, he’s a really good kisser.  And until the phone rang, I might have been willing to go further than one kiss standing in the kitchen.”  I stopped and put my hand on her arm.  “You have to promise me you’ll only tell people that we kissed.  Once.  You can waggle your eyebrows at everyone like you know more but are sworn to secrecy.  Promise?”
            Her eyes got big and she stopped blinking.  “I absolutely promise.  Cross my heart.”  And she solemnly made a cross over the left side of her sweater.
            I took a deep breath and continued.  “Well, I woke up every time he got up to tend the fire, thinking he might be coming into the bedroom.  And then I thought maybe I’d just go out there and attack him on the couch.  But I chickened out.”  Both of us sighed at my lost opportunity.  “Then when I got up this morning, I forgot he was here and went into the kitchen looking like the wrath of God.”
            Clara moaned right along with me at the thought of a new man seeing us first thing in the morning.  “What did he do?”
            “Well, he looked all bright and cheerful, like he’d been up for hours and had taken a shower.  I have to admit I wasn’t prepared for him to look so good.  Anyway, he gave me a cup of coffee, and I turned right around and hid in the bathroom to take a shower and try to erase that picture from his mind.  I even thought about putting on make-up but decided it would be too obvious and forward.”  My throat was getting dry from all the talking so I took a sip of my nearly cold coffee.
            “Go on, go on.”
            “When I came out looking more presentable he seemed more interested in watching the chickadees at the feeder, so I made us some oatmeal for breakfast.”  Just then, the phone rang.
“I’ll bet it’s one of Mavis’ spies,” Clara said.
I walked over and picked it up.  “Hello?  Oh, hi, Abel.”  I heard a sound behind me and turned to see Clara wiping up the coffee she’d spit out.  “How was your ride home?”
“It was fine.  The roads are mostly cleared,” he said.
“What are you doing right now?”
“Oh, Clara’s over and we’re having coffee.”
Abel’s warm chuckle came down the wire.  “I suppose this is just the beginning of the All-Kingman inquisition?”
“Yes it is.”  I was trying to keep a straight face but didn’t think I was doing a very good job so I turned my back to the kitchen.
“I’ll let you go then.  Let me know if the cats become unbearable and I’ll knock a few heads together.”
Now I did laugh.  “Okay, good.”
“Are we still on for the weekend?”
A warm thrill crept up my spine at the idea of seeing him again so soon.  “Yep, I’ll see you Saturday.”
“Unless we get an even bigger storm, I guess.  Of course, I’d be more than willing to come over and keep your fire lit.”
“Oh really?  Well, we’ll see about that.  I’ll see you Saturday.”
“Bye, Gail.  Stay warm.”
“You too, Abel.  Bye.”
When I got back to the table, Clara looked even more avid than she had before, if that’s possible.  “Well?  What did he say?”
“He just said he got home okay.  I’d asked him to call me.  And made sure we still have a date for Saturday night.”  For the first time since Abel and I had started going out, that word hit me.  “Oh my God, Clara, I’m dating.”
“I know, Gail.”  She sat back with a smug smile on her face.  “You and Romeo are the talk of town.”
That was not a happy thought.  I’d known that tongues were wagging when I took up painting, changed my clothes and hair, but remembering the catty remarks that had flown around when other widows had started rebuilding their lives, made me wish I lived somewhere else.  Somewhere instead of this small, rural town where nothing exciting happened, so people talked about other people’s lives like they were soap operas.  I had always liked the warmth and neighborliness of living in Kingman, but now I wanted to be anonymous.

I know this is going to send you into a tailspin but this is my last blog entry until September 7.  I fly away on Saturday and am taking this laptop into the fixit shop tomorrow because I think it has a virus or maybe a brain lesion.  It's slow to respond and the scroll bars are blinky.  Not good.  I promise to try to remember to share a few photos on Facebook and Instagram over the next couple weeks and I also promise not to get caught in a bison stampede (three friends sent me the video today), won't try to ride one, and will not attempt to pet a grizzly bear.  Cross my heart.  I'll miss your daily comments, you all.  See you in a couple weeks.  (When I get home, I'll pick up Horizon where I leave off too, I promise. That's why I put on an extra-long piece of it tonight.)  Bye for a bit!

Wednesday, August 21, 2019


This morning I took a few minutes to weed three-fence-sections worth of retaining wall, plant the last three (very thirsty) Stella d'Oro day lily plants, lay out two sections of soaker hose, and get all of the plants watered.  Finally.  Then I cleaned up, dressed better, and went off to get my hair cut.


After my haircut I went to a local shoe store to see if they had any Keen-type sandals on sale.  I've been wanting some but am not willing to pay full price.  I bought this pair of oyster gray ones.  They fit right and feel pretty good.  They might even get to go West--if they behave.

By then it was time to go to The Attic cafe and bookstore to meet ACJ to write for a couple hours.  My brain felt turned off for the most part but after an hour of visiting chat I poked earbuds in, cued up nature sounds on my phone, turned on my Alphasmart, and put my fingers on the keys.  And words came out!  Four hundred sixteen of them, to be precise.  I was amazed and pleased because I've been so distracted by the anniversary of Durwood's death and my impending trip out West.  Earbuds, nature sounds, and Alphie are my three writing triggers.  They work every time.  No brilliance guaranteed, of course, but words come and that's all that I can hope for.

We chatted and wrote, read our writing and chatted some more until it was too late for me to go home to shake the hair schnipples out of my clothes so I toddled along to my monthly grief group meeting feeling rather itchy.  An old friend came to her first meeting (at my urging) so we caught a burger afterwards.  That meant that I had been feeling little tiny, itchy pieces of hair sift down my back, under my bra, and begin making their way into my undies.  Aargh.  As soon as I got home I flung all those hairy clothes down the chute and took a shower.  Ah, what luxury.  What relief.

I knitted on Car Knitting Warshrag #14 at the grief group meeting and got to within half a row of finishing so I brought it inside, finished it, and dug out two more colors of yarn to start #15.  I'll knit a few more rows tomorrow before putting it into the pocket of the driver's door of my car so it'll be there when I need drawbridge-up, waiting-room, or support-group knitting.

21 August--Barbara Malcolm, Horizon. 

             When I awoke the next morning I could tell before I opened my eyes that the blizzard was over and the power was back on.  Bright sunlight magnified by fresh white snow edged the shades and the wind wasn’t whistling around the house.  I could hear the furnace churning out heat.  I rolled out of bed, put on my robe, and went into the bathroom.
It wasn't until I stepped into the kitchen that I remembered I'd had an overnight guest.  By then Abel had seen me and it was too late to go back and brush my teeth and my hair.
"Good morning, Gail.  How'd you sleep?" he said. "I hope you don't mind; I made coffee."  He held out a steaming mug.
“Thanks.”  I glanced up at him and decided he'd been up for hours.  He looked fresh and cheerful.  At that moment I hated him.  I was certain my face looked like a used paper sack and my hair was a rat's nest.  "Thanks for the coffee, Abel.  I'll go take a shower."  I turned around and made my escape before he could get too close a look.
Fifteen minutes and one cup of coffee later, I felt like I was back in control of the situation.  When I got back to the kitchen, Abel was sitting in my favorite spot at the table watching the chickadees squabble at the bird feeder.
"Breakfast?" I asked.
"I'm not much of a breakfast eater," he said.  "What did you have in mind?"
Mentally going over the things in my larder, I said, "Oatmeal?"
"Oatmeal would be perfect.  It'll keep me warm on the ride home."
It took only a few minutes to make two bowls of oatmeal in the microwave.  I set out brown sugar, cream, and spoons.
"Can I do something to help?" he asked.
"No thanks, I've got it under control.  You could pour me some fresh coffee, though, if you wouldn't mind."
            He poured us each more coffee as I put the steaming bowls on the table.  As he stirred the sugar into his, he asked, "What're these things?"
I had to smile.  He sounded just like my boys when confronted with unfamiliar food.  "Dried cherries from Door County.  They served oatmeal with dried fruit every morning at The Clearing and one morning they had cherries.  I loved it so much, I put them in all the time now."  He handed me the brown sugar.  "I hope you like it."
He did.
After clearing the dishes and helping load the dishwasher, Abel decided to go home.  "I hope you aren't bombarded with gossip about me staying here last night, Gail."  He put his hands on my waist and drew me closer.  "I wouldn't want to do anything to make you unhappy."  And he kissed me.  Really kissed me, like he meant it.  I realized that I was kissing him back and meaning it every bit as much.  My breath was short and I could feel my heart pound.  I began to slide my hands up his arms to his shoulders.  We broke the kiss at the same time.  "Gail?" he said in a low voice.
The phone rang.  The spell of our ardent kiss evaporated and I rushed to answer it.  "Hello?"  I expected it to be the first of the busybodies.
"Mrs. Logan, my name is Lawrence Kaster and I’m with Global Life & Casualty Insurance Company… ”
“I am not interested in insurance.  Thank you.”  I hung up on him and turned back to Abel, eager to resume our interrupted kiss, to see he had put on his snow pants and was tugging on his boots.  “Oh, you’re leaving.”
“Yeah, I thought I’d better get on home before the weather turns again.  Do you want me to clear your walk before I go?”
“No, thanks.  It’s nice of you to offer but I kind of like getting bundled up and playing in the snow.  I’ve got a new red snowblower that’s real easy to use.  I’ll have it cleared in no time.  But thanks for asking.”
He stood and put on his jacket, zipped it up, and came over to where I stood.  He leaned down and kissed me again.  “Well… I’m glad your phone’s back on; give me a call if you need anything.  Watch out for the gossips.”
            I laughed and kissed him back.  “I will.  Have a safe ride home.  Call when you get there so I know you made it okay.”
            He picked up his helmet and gloves and left.  I was tempted to call him back but let him go.

I woke up at 5:30 AM again today.  I wake up to make a potty run, barely open my eyes, and lay right back down.  Do you think I can go back to sleep?  Nope.  It's making me mad.  I need to get my light turned off before 11:30 PM.  That would help.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Sometimes the Yarn is Right...

... for the stitch pattern and sometimes it isn't.  A couple weeks ago I cast on a sock with that Virgo yarn I got in Lexington last year, got the cuff knitted and a few rows of the pattern but it just didn't seem right.  The cuff seemed too narrow, the yarn wasn't sproingy, and the stitch pattern disappeared into the background.  I put it aside.

Then I cast on the same sock, one size larger, in rainbow yarn that I bought in Bozeman, MT the last time Durwood and I were out west.  I thought it made sense to knit with the yarn that I bought there when I went back there.  Besides a sock is a nice small project to knit on an airplane or two.  The more rounds I add to this Choco Rainbow sock, the more I realize that this is the perfect yarn for this stitch pattern.  See how the slipped stitches stand out against the background yarn?  Yeah, this sock has me written all over it.

Yesterday when we'd finished talking about stocks and stuff, my financial advisor and I mentioned our food failings--mine is ice cream, hers are cookies--which forced me (that isn't too strong a word for the compulsion that came over me today) to whip up a batch of 10-Cup Cookies.  I got smart and didn't bake them all, only a dozen of them, the rest I scooped onto parchment paper on a cookie sheet, froze, and bagged in a ziplok bag to bake a few at a time.  Later.  Much later.  I'm never out of ice cream.

Bright and early this morning, KK came with a helper to rip out the old and install the new vinyl bathroom floor and front & back entrance floors.  There wasn't anything wrong with the old yellow vinyl except for being the stuff I picked out in 1978 and I was beyond tired of it.  I'll admit that 41 years of feet and scrubbing hadn't dulled its luster.  It wasn't worn but the edge by the tub and at the front door curled up so I was concerned that water or snow melt was leaking under it.  I love the new stuff.

 20 August--Barbara Malcolm, Horizon. 

            Once I was able to relax again, we spent the next few hours having the best conversation I’d had in a long time.  We talked about books we’d read, Abel trying to convince me that Tom Clancy’s books weren’t as complicated as I knew they were and me telling him that there wasn’t any such thing as “chick” lit, just stories men were too insensitive to appreciate.  We were each surprised that the other loved Kurt Vonnegut, although I insisted that his short stories were better than the novels but Abel disagreed with me.  We did agree that John Steinbeck was one of the greatest authors America had ever produced.  I was surprised that Abel was a big poetry fan.  He recited a few poems from memory and promised to bring over his favorite poems by Billy Collins and read some to me.  I’d never heard of him and was amazed to learn that he had been America’s Poet Laureate a few years ago and was a contemporary poet who Abel said wrote about ordinary things with extraordinary beauty.
            We’d been sitting talking when I realized by the chiming of the antique clock on the mantle that it was ten o’clock and the house was really cooling off.
I suggested to Abel that I see if I couldn’t find something for him to sleep in and make up a bed for him on the couch so it would be ready when he was.  He agreed so I took the flashlight and dug in the back of my dresser where I’d shoved a pair of flannel pajamas I’d bought for Bert’s birthday gift his last year and never got the chance to give him.  My favorite wool bathrobe was a man’s style anyway, so Abel could wear it without embarrassment.  While I was in my bedroom I changed into my own flannel PJs and dug out a chenille robe Sam had given me for Christmas a few years ago.  Chenille bathrobes always reminded me of the old-fashioned bedspreads that were all the rage in the 1950s but I could either look like I was wearing a bedspread or put on an ancient quilted pink one I had with both elbows worn through and years of breakfast stains down the front.  I went with the bedspread.
I took some sheets and a blanket out of the linen closet and carried the whole pile into the living room.  I gave Abel the pajamas and robe and he went to change in the bathroom while I made him a bed on the couch.  While I was working, I thought I heard voices outside.  I walked into the kitchen just as Abel came out.  I whispered to him that I thought someone was outside and he came with me.
We’d only gone a few steps into the room when the back porch door burst open and Clara walked in with Hank on her heels.  “Gail,” Clara was saying, “Hank and I snow-shoed over to make sure you had enough firewood.”  Her voice stopped abruptly when she saw Abel and I standing there in our nightclothes.  “But I can see you’re doing just fine.”  She turned around and started shooing her startled husband back out into the storm.  “Come on, Hank, let’s get home.” 
“Clara,” I said.
“It’s okay, Gail,” she said, not turning around.  “Hank and I will just be moving along.”
“Clara, stop.”  I walked across the room and grabbed her arm.  “At least stay for a cup of hot chocolate.  You’ll turn to icicles if you go right back out in that storm.”
My old friend turned around and peeked at Abel over my shoulder.  “Are you sure?” she whispered.  “We don’t want to interrupt anything.”
“You’re not interrupting, Clara.  Abel, tell them to say.”
He stepped forward and said, “Please, Clara, stay and have some hot chocolate with us.  Hank, why don’t you help me stoke up the fire?”  And the two men were out of the room in a split second.
            Clara grabbed my arm and pulled me toward the back door.  “Holy crumps, Gail, you could have knocked me over with a feather when I opened that door and saw the two of you standing there.  What’s going on?  No, forget I asked.”  Even in the dim kitchen I could see Clara’s blush.
            “Nothing’s going on.  At least not tonight.  Abel came over when he couldn’t get through on the phone and he was here when the power went out for good.  He volunteered to keep the fire going tonight and is sleeping on the couch.”  I could hear the men talking in the living room.  “Grab the milk, will you?  I’ll get out a pan and make that hot chocolate I promised.  Thank goodness I’ve got a gas stove.”
            Clara and I made the hot chocolate and she called for Hank to bring the tray.  He came in with a very puzzled look on his face and Clara headed off any questions with a look that promised that as soon as she learned the story she’d tell him.  I could see I’d be in for an inquisition once Clara and I were alone.
            A very subdued quartet sat around the fire, sipping hot chocolate, not talking much at all.  And as soon as the cups were empty, Clara stood up and announced that since the wind had stopped blowing she was in the mood for a moonlight snowshoe home.  She chivvied Hank out the house in jig time and soon they were on their way.
            “Well, that was interesting,” Abel said.  “I suppose the news that I slept over at your place will be all over town by sundown tomorrow.”
            “Do you really think it’ll take that long?”
            “Do you mind?” he asked, a look of concern on his face.
            “Oh, not really.  Tongues have been wagging ever since we started dating last summer.  You can bet that according to rumor we’re having a much racier time than we actually are.”
            Abel snorted.
            “But, Abel, I really appreciate you giving me time to get used to having a man in my life again.”
            He put his hands on my shoulders and said, “Gail, you know how I feel about you.  You take all the time you need.”  And he leaned forward and kissed me.  “You get to bed.  I’ll rinse the cups.  Goodnight.”
            “Goodnight, Abel.  Pleasant dreams.”
            I lay awake a long time before falling asleep.  I heard Abel a few times in the night, up keeping the fire going.  It was nice to have a man in the house again.

I met KW at the Y this evening and we walked and talked in the pool for half an hour or so.  I wore my new version no. 2 swimsuit and it worked just fine.  I thought I should try it out before taking it to Yellowstone, etc. just in case the old fabric fell apart at the first wearing.  It didn't and I had a couple ideas on how to improve it even more.  When I get home.  Tomorrow I get a haircut, write with ACJ, and have grief group.  Busy, busy, busy.  This laptop is going to the fixit shop on Friday; it's acting oddly; I think it has a brain lesion.  I'm taking my serger in to the sewing machine fixit shop on Friday too because one of the knobs won't turn any lower than "3" which makes adjusting the thread tension challenging.  It's always something, isn't it?