Friday, January 31, 2020

There Is A Sky Up There

Imagine my surprise when I was doing yoga this morning and I looked up in cobra pose and there it was.  Blue sky!  Oh, there were plenty of clouds around the patches of blue and soon enough the clouds got the upper hand and slammed shut for the rest of the day, but there it was all blue and promising.  Just for a few minutes but it gave me hope that we'd have more of it and soon.  Our last sunny day was January 21, we're about due.

There was a bale of laundry that needed my attention so I cut out a Dress no. 1 this morning and then went right downstairs to sew it while the laundry was flopping around.  After a while I got hungry, looked at my watch, and it said 11:23 so I figured I'd go upstairs in about half an hour or maybe 45 minutes to have lunch.  I sewed for what felt like an hour, checked my watch, and it said 11:23.  Um, it seemed that I had poked the button on my Garmin Vivofit and it was displaying steps, not time.  Arrrgh.  It was actually 1:50.  No wonder I was hungry.  After scarfing down a chicken sandwich, mini cuke, and an orange, I went back down and finished the dress by 3:30.  Now I have something new to wear on my upcoming trip to Florida.

31 January--Barbara Malcolm, Three Cheers for Murder. 

Marlene was happy she’d straightened up the living room before she’d gone downstairs to work that morning.  She invited Len to take a seat and went to the kitchen to make coffee.  While it was brewing, she returned to the living room to find him admiring the framed botanical specimens and archeological artifacts on her walls. 
“This stuff is great.  Where did you get it?” he asked. 
“The leaves, plants and flowers I either grew in the window boxes or collected in Arizona one summer about eight years ago.  I’m glad you like it.”  She left the room to get the coffee and cups. “How do you take your coffee, Len?” 
“Just black.”  Returning with the tray she set it on a low table and poured him a cup.  “Thanks.  Smells great,” he sat in one of the side-chairs near the table.  “So, tell me, have you always wanted to own a bookstore?  I’ll bet it’s an interesting job.”
Marlene seated herself at one end of the couch across from him and sipped her coffee.  “Actually, I wanted to be an archeologist, but my mother died in a car accident in the winter almost nine years ago and to stay in college I had to keep the store running.  The years passed and I felt I couldn’t pursue my dreams of going on archeological digs and still support myself, so I switched my major to literature and just stayed here.  What about you?  Do you like being a policeman?” 
“I had other dreams too.  I went to the university to study law, but I just couldn’t handle the stress, so I switched to law enforcement.  My parents weren’t, and still aren’t, thrilled but I guess I like it.”
Gazing into her cup Marlene commented, “Sounds like we had the same kind of parents.  Kitty always encouraged me to be more like her and those self-centered cheerleaders she coached.  Always buying trendy clothes and makeup for me, always ordering books to make me more like her.  Never happy with me the way I was.  It was hard growing up in that sort of environment.”  She looked at him and he could see she had tears in her eyes.
Len put down his coffee and moved to sit beside her on the couch.  Holding her right hand in his, he tried to comfort her.  “Oh, Marlene, don’t cry.  I know how you feel.  My dad’s a big executive and he wanted me to be a lawyer so he could brag about me to his friends.  Mom’s all involved in her charity work and would have talked endlessly about “my son, the lawyer.”  It was a bitter pill for them to swallow when I couldn’t hack law school and decided to become a cop.  I think I took the job here in Ashville just so I wouldn’t have to see the look of disappointment in their faces every time they see me.”

This pair of sparrows came to bathe while I was eating lunch.  See how gray and dreary it had gotten?  People can't live like this.  Okay, I can't live like this.  I need sunshine.  They're threatening us with a sunny Sunday and maybe Monday too.  Oh, fingers crossed.

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Made the House Smell Amazing

I found a recipe for Loaded Chicken Bake on a website called The Skinnyish Dish through a friend's FB post the other day.  There's a base of cut-up Pillsbury biscuits, a couple cups of chicken stirred into cream of chicken soup, Greek yogurt, scallions, and a Tablespoon of Hidden Valley mix.  You bake it for 20 minutes then top it with a mixture of reduced-fat cheddar, more scallions, and BACON, then bake it 15 more minutes. It sounded amazing so on my way home from the Y I stopped for the couple ingredients I didn't have on hand.  It was easy to make and smelled great while it was cooking.  As an added bonus it tasted great too.  And there are 5 more servings left.  Score.

It's orange season so the oranges in the bag I bought this morning taste like real oranges.  Smell like them too.  Durwood and I got into the habit years ago of sharing an orange after supper and I want to get back to it.  Only now I get the whole orange all to myself.  Yum.  (how many times can I write "orange" in one paragraph?  lots!)

The clouds thinned enough yesterday morning that there was a faint shadow on the snow.  See?  We have now had 10 straight cloudy or mostly cloudy days.  Ugh.  It sure is difficult to be cheerful when it's so gray and dreary every single day but I'm trying.  Smiling helps.  The picture tells you how desperate I am for the sun to shine, you can barely see the shadow of the house.

There were over a dozen Mourning Doves lined up on the fence and retaining wall.  They were spread out enough that I had no chance of getting them all in the frame (and Mourning Doves will not cooperate when you ask them to close ranks) so here is a representative group of them.

I'm making progress on the Quabbin Cowl that I cast on the other day.  It's bulky yarn so it goes faster than the thinner stuff.  (well, duh)  I like the color, gray with a blue cast, even though blue is not one of my favorite colors.

T the trainer was in fine form today.  We did mostly arm work and by the middle of the half hour, my arms felt like noodles.  We did one set of lifts which worked my legs in each rotation but it was mostly pushups, lifting weights, holding a stick against resistance and other things that made my poor arms burn.  But I felt great when I was done and I'll feel even better tomorrow when I can barely lift my arms.  Doing laundry will loosen me up.

30 January--Barbara Malcolm, Three Cheers for Murder. 

Just before 7:00 P.M. that same evening Marlene was sitting behind the counter in her bookstore finishing up a special order for a customer when she heard the door open.  She looked up to see Lt. Len Graybow standing just inside the door.  He was dressed as he was that morning; in a nondescript brown suit, a rumpled white shirt and a muted striped tie.  His hands were in his pants pockets and he was wearing a slight smile as he began to walk toward her. 
“Good evening, Ms. Brownloe, I hope I’m not disturbing you.  I, uh, I just thought I’d stop in and, uh, see how you were.” 
Marlene frowned at his approach.  “Thank you, Lt. Graybow, that’s very thoughtful of you.” 
“Len.  Call me Len,” he said awkwardly.  “I’m wondering if you’d like to go out for a cup of coffee or something.” 
The question took Marlene by surprise.  She hesitated. 
Graybow quickly said, “Oh, I don’t mean anything.  I just thought we could get acquainted.  You know, sit and talk.” 
Marlene nodded.  Then she shyly suggested, “Well, Len, we could just go upstairs.  I live over the shop and I could make you some coffee or tea, if you’d like.  Then we could be more comfortable.  I mean, you could take off your tie.  I mean, you look tired and you wouldn’t have to drive anywhere.”  She stopped in confusion, blushing. 
Lt. Graybow smiled at Marlene.  “I think that’s a wonderful idea.  Are you ready to close up the bookstore?” 
“Yes, I’m only open until seven on Wednesdays.  I was just finishing an order when you came in.  I can close up now.”  She went and locked the door, turned out most of the lights and led Lt. Graybow up to her apartment. 

I worked on my agent pitch this afternoon.  I'm on pitch #5 and hope that it's the final version, but I'll let it sit for a few days, read it again, and then decide.  Gotta get it right.  Tomorrow will be a laundry day and I want to cut out a new dress to take to FL in a couple weeks.  I need one new thing to wear.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

No, Really, It's A Bird...

I was so excited this morning to see a bluejay at the birdbath getting a drink. I grabbed the camera, got set, and it flew away just as I pressed the shutter button.  Dang it.  Then I saw the bluejay in the neighbor's tree but it flew away from there too.  I know this looks like something from a fever dream, but really, it's a bluejay.

The cleaning lady came today so I am, for now, living in the center of clean.  Not that I'm a slob or anything but anyone who knows me well knows that I detest vacuuming so I don't.  I swab out the bathroom and keep the kitchen clean but she dusts, vacuums, cleans the bathroom and kitchen, does the floors, she even dusts the tops of the curtains so I don't have that delicate tracery of cobwebs across the top.  I love her; she is worth every penny for her once a month visits.

This afternoon I went to the DMV to get a REAL ID driver's license.  I tried to get one when I renewed my license last fall but I didn't have the correct papers.  *sigh*  I figured that Tuesday afternoon might be a less busy time at the DMV and I was right.  I was there for no more than 45 minutes from start to finish and I had all the correct papers.  I even had extras in case of need.  She punched "void" in my old license and gave me a paper to use until my REAL one comes in a week.  

This evening I finished January Preemie Hat #4 and just barely had enough yarn.  That little squiggle of yarn above the hat is almost exactly a yard long.  I'd have been in a world of hurt if there'd been just one more round on that hat.

28 January--Barbara Malcolm, Three Cheers for Murder. 

Detective Archibald and Cecilia Robbins were seated in a booth at Garibaldi’s, a local supper club, overlooking the edge of the bluff, enjoying the sunset.  Cecilia, in a beige linen dress, subdued gold jewelry and red shoes, and Archibald, in a dark grey suit with a white shirt and a rather flamboyant fish patterned tie, had just finished ordering.  Sipping their cocktails, they overheard the conversation from the next table.
“...then I heard he chopped her head off with a big axe!”
 “Really?  I heard it was a machete.”
“I heard her husband had collapsed and had to be taken to the hospital because of all the blood.”
Archibald groaned.  “I can’t get away from this case!  Don’t people have anything else to talk about?”
Cecilia reached across the table and patted his hand.  “No, Alan, they don’t.  Everybody’s frightened.  They think there’s some sort of maniac loose in the city.  Everything we hear is gruesome and gory.  I heard the same thing this morning from...   well, I heard it and I have to tell you I’m frightened too.  I keep imagining I hear someone at my doors, and you can bet I keep them locked up tight these days.”
Archibald turned his hand and captured hers.  “You don’t have to worry, Cecilia, I’ll keep you safe.  Besides these rumors aren’t true.”
“What do you mean?”
Reluctantly, he continued, “Well, for one thing, she wasn’t decapitated.  The murderer used some sort of knife to sever her spine just below her skull.  There was no gore all over.  In fact, there was barely any blood at all.  She died instantaneously.  As for either an axe or machete, the coroner thinks it was some sort of hunting knife.  Nothing too big.  Now you can’t spread this around but maybe it’ll make you feel safer.  I could stay over until we catch the killer if you’d like.”  Archibald grinned at her hopefully.
Cecilia blushed and smiled.  “That won’t be necessary.  But thank you for the offer.”
Just then the waiter arrived with their salads.  They continued holding hands across the table while they enjoyed their meal.  Refusing dessert, they had coffee and Archibald told Cecilia that they needed to stop at the crime scene to meet Graybow.  She wasn’t thrilled at the prospect but part of her was excited to get a look at where a murder was committed.

I am happy to report that my Hoisin-Glazed Mini Meatloaves make great meatloaf sandwiches.  I toasted a single slice of onion bread, sliced the meatloaf (meatloaf ball) and it just fit.  I like an open-face sandwich, don't you?  I remember Great-grandpa Gerst used to always eat open-face sandwiches which I thought was unusual when I was a kid.  In fact, I called them Grandpa Gerst sandwiches then and I still do in my mind.