Saturday, November 30, 2019

Trees Coming & Going

I heard a chainsaw this morning and saw a tree trimmer up in a bucket trimming one of the big trees next to the office building behind me.  Then I saw that the apple tree directly behind the house was quivering and branches were falling.  *sigh*  When I got home from a little yarn jaunt to Two Rivers with a couple friends both apple trees were gone.  Gone.  Where are the birds going to sit when they line up to wait their turns at the feeders?  When I put them back up, that is.


On my way home from the Park & Ride where I met my friends, I saw a tree farm tree lot (not a store) so I went around the block and asked for an ugly, cheap tree.  He had one huge, ugly tree that he wanted $35 for.  I offered $25 and we met in the middle.  He lashed it to the top of my car and warned me not to try to get it into the backyard by myself.  Well.  We all know how stubborn I can be so when I got home I unlashed it, and rolled it off onto the ground.  It's big.  And heavy.  I tried to drag it but didn't get far so I got a tarp, rolled the tree onto the tarp and that I could slide, so I got it around back but it was too heavy for me to stand it up easily.  I'll try again tomorrow before seeing if I can find some muscle man (or another muscle woman) and get it upright and tied to a post so it doesn't blow over.


I didn't intend to buy much at Intertwined, the yarn shop in Two Rivers, but she found me a mostly white with black flecks yarn to try knitting that Christmas gift with, then I saw that one of my favorite sock yarns comes in smaller, less expensive balls (so I got two), there was some interesting cotton yarn on the clearance table, a set of size US 3 Double Point Needles, and 5 yds. of black wool (I think) gabardine for $20.  I couldn't leave the fabric behind; it's too beautiful and will make a nice, dressier jumper dress.


I told DD that I'd find some snow pants and boots at Goodwill for her little guy so that when they're here for Christmas we can play out in the snow.  I found the snow pants last week ($6) and the boots this week ($7) but right next to the boots was this pair of red Converse-looking low tops for half-price($3).  I had to buy them.  Come on, how cute are they?  Totally.

30 November--Barbara Malcolm, Spies Don't Retire. 

Selling to their children had saved them from having to totally empty the house too.  The house they bought in Bonaire was fully furnished so they only had to ship the few personal things they would need to make the blank slate of the house a home.  They offered their furnishings to the boys and their wives and were gratified when most of it went to them.  A one-day jumble sale on the lawn took care of most of the rest and the sad remains Sonia packed up to give to the Salvation Army who did such a wonderful job in their town; they even sent a truck and two burly men to fetch it at no charge.
The move to Bonaire was a seamless as they could make it.  Sonia shed a few tears when they bid their family and friends goodbye, but everyone swore that they would keep in close touch via email; and they were off on the next adventure of their lives, alone together again after twenty-nine years of career for him and child-rearing for Sonia.  It had been four idyllic months since they had unlocked their house for the first time as residents.  George had made friends among the expatriate men, friends he could be free with, men who had no ulterior motives, no desire to pry crown secrets from his lips for the possibility of being pumped for intelligence he could pass on from theirs.  It took a while for him to get used to the lack of devious undercurrent that retirement gave him but he had come to appreciate the lack of burden weighting down his shoulders throughout his working life that he became aware of only after it was removed.
Now this envelope had come and from the hand of an old friend.  He had often wondered how much Max really knew about what he did.  Max himself held a high security clearance and had ended his naval career as commander of the biggest and newest of Her Majesty’s fleet of subs.  Surely that knowledge had been the author of the sorrowful look on Max’s face when he had handed over the envelope and the instinct that led him to wait to deliver it until they were alone.


We're supposed to get sleet and snow tonight, maybe 4-8" of snow before the store has passed.  I sincerely hope that the weather people are wrong and the snow misses us.  Also I hope it misses the whole middle of the state because people that I love have to drive home from Thanksgiving and I worry.  Right now it's raining and blowing.  *sigh*
--Barbara

Friday, November 29, 2019

Maybe The Last Bird

 

Yesterday I took down most of the crooks that birdfeeders hung on and put them away so there was one very confused Cardinal that flew over today.  It swooped down near the suet feeder, then past where the platform feeder used to be, over to the top of the fence where it looked around as if to get its bearings, and then it flew off.



It snowed overnight a little, see?  Most of it melted today but we're supposed to get 4-8" of the stuff by tomorrow night.  Yippee.  I'm thinking of getting snow tires.  I've never had them but maybe they'd give me more traction in the snow; I'd like that.






I did laundry this afternoon and sewed up the second pair of brown leggings.



 

I was looking for more brown thread when I sewed the last pair and thought about organizing my thread basket so it would be easier to find things.  I took out all of the spools, found a brown one that I'd missed, and grouped like colors together in zipper bags from the Dollar Tree.  So much easier to find things, plus it pleased my combined German and Virgo need for tidiness.  Ahh.


 

Here's the bountiful Thanksgiving spread from yesterday.  Everything was so good and everyone was such fun to be around.  When they asked what I was thankful for I said, "this, this day, this company, this family."



The other day I sat and counted out 2-point bags of pretzel twists. (18/bag)  That way when I want something crunchy and salty I can grab one and not go overboard like I would if there was a whole bag of them to plunge my hand into.







29 November--Barbara Malcolm, Spies Don't Retire. 

George had come to hate the cold; that was the driving force that led him to move them to the tropics.  Sonia had been a difficult sell.  She was devoted to their grandchildren and involved in various clubs and good works in Watford.  It took a particularly cold and rainy winter to convince her that she could be warm all year round and still pursue her interests.  He promised her the fastest most reliable Internet connection money could buy, bought the most modern laptop with all the newest bells and whistles, and promised to do his level best to lure their sons and their families to visit frequently.
They spent six months selling their house; Sonia felt it was important to find the right buyer for the home she had lavished so much love on for thirty years.  In the end their middle son and his wife timidly expressed the desire to purchase the house.  Sonia was thrilled, as she knew their daughter-in-law, Daphne, loved it as much as she did and would take excellent care of it and the gardens Sonia had built from scratch.  They handled the sale the right way too, treating Eric and Daphne as if they were strangers, getting a solicitor and an estate agent involved to guarantee that everything was covered as it should be, and that neither of the other sons would have a sliver of doubt about whether somehow Sonia and George were playing favorites.  Since Eric and Daphne were the only ones living in the area and so the only children realistically able to buy the house, George thought all the fees and bother involved was silly until Jared and Spencer each had separately taken him aside, asking if they might not have gotten more out of it if they had sold it to a stranger.  Even George, ever alert to innuendo when at work and generally clueless to the intrigues of family life, understood that the questions were asking if Eric had gotten preferential treatment, leaving his older and younger brothers out in the cold, inheritance wise.  George was glad to be able to show them an independent appraisal of the property that matched to the penny the amount Erik and Daphne gave for the place.  When he mentioned Jared and Spencer’s remarks to Sonia she had laughed and said, “Didn’t I tell you?”  He had to concede that she had been right.



I realized yesterday that I want to knit one gift and Sunday is December 1 so I'd better get moving.  This is the only black-and-white yarn I've been able to find and it isn't knitting up the way I'd hoped but I'm keeping on.  It'll be fine.  I'm not telling what it'll be so don't ask.

--Barbara

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope you all had a good Thanksgiving.  I did.  I was invited to DIL1's parents' house as I/we have been since DS & DIL1's marriage.  It feels so good to be absorbed into that noisy, happy family.  Two turkeys were cooked.  One was smoked, the other was deep fried.  I had some of each and can't decide which was best.  I brought home a bag of turkey.  I'll be doing further research into which is best.



This morning I got the slicer upstairs and sliced the onion bread.  I took the turban shaped loaf with me to Thanksgiving dinner and put the loaf loaf into the freezer.  I suspect that there'll be turkey sandwiches on onion bread in my immediate future.  All right, tomorrow since I took my own advice and ate too much pie.  And I was so good with my food choices then I blew my diet out of the water with a tiny slice of each of three kinds of pie.  Pecan, pumpkin with gingersnap crust, and apple with caramelized pecans on top.  Oh, too good to resist.  I still feel full.
 



I confess that I couldn't resist toasting a piece of the loaf loaf.  Just to make sure it wasn't inedible.  It wasn't.




 

DIL1's dad is a model train buff so we all trooped across the street to see his impressive set up.  He's got buildings and animals, he's made trees, a mountain with a tunnel, and a volcano.  It's very cool.





28 November--Barbara Malcolm, Spies Don't Retire. 

            George dropped Max off at the bungalow, helping him unload his gear and keeping the empty tanks to have refilled.  He then drove back toward the uninhabited southern end of the island and pulled off near the unused lighthouse that marked the southernmost point of the boomerang shaped island.  He backed into an access road used by the technicians of the salt works across the road facing the crashing waves that pounded the shore, having met no land to diminish their power in their march from Africa.  From his vantage point he could see any vehicle approaching on the one lane road that curved near the desolate shore.
He opened the windows to allow the constant trade winds to cool him while he stared at the envelope Max had so casually handed him.  Glaring at the seal, which incorporated a crown with crossed scepter and sword below, his first instinct was to tear the envelope into pieces and consign it to the ocean.  Realizing that doing so would lead to trouble for his friend, he knew he would have to open it and at least see what they wanted.  He was not na├»ve enough to have imagined that retirement meant he would never hear from his old masters again.  In fact, Hornsby had reminded him on the day he had cleaned out his office that men in his position never really retired, they just went on an extended holiday.  In George’s years in service to Her Majesty, once or twice a situation arose that necessitated the calling in of an old boy to pick up the threads, for a short time, of an operation that only he, or admittedly she in recent years, had special knowledge and contacts for.  George always felt a bit sorry for the old duffers as they shuffled around the office, confused by the changes in layout and staff, and befuddled by advances in technology only dreamed of in their day.
With a frustrated sigh, he slid the blade of his pocketknife under the flap and broke the seal.  He spread the open end and peered in to see a single sheet of paper.  He let the envelope close again as he considered how he would handle whatever request was inside.  He thought about flatly refusing to read it, sending an email over his secure line to say so, and not responding to any repeated pleas or orders. He knew that wouldn’t work, knew that the powers that be would never stand for such insubordination in one they considered a valuable asset.  Resigned to at least read what the letter said he slid two fingers into the envelope and teased out the sheet of paper made soft by the humidity.
In service to Her Majesty, read the heading on the page, something he had seen so many times before and it always meant dredging up his skills of spy craft and dusting them off.  In the past those words had meant kissing Sonia and the boys goodbye for a week or a month, once over a year, and flying off to some political skirmish in someplace known for its harsh, cold winters and ferreting out whatever nuggets of information were there for the gleaning.


I can't decide if I want to go to the Y tomorrow or take the day off and sew or work on my novel.  One of the good things about being retired is that I can do what I want when I want to.  Mostly.
--Barbara