Saturday, February 29, 2020

Free Yarn!

MW brought two big bags of yarn that someone gave him to last night's Friday Night Knitting get-together and shared it with his knitting friends.  There was a bag of cotton and linen yarn that I have some of, it's good to knit washcloths with, some gray superwash wool (it doesn't shrink or felt), and a skein of baby alpaca (so soft!).  There were a few skeins of worsted weight acrylic that I collected for the guild to use to teach a group of elementary kids how to knit.  Purple, pink, orange, and royal blue--sounds like kid colors to me.

Yesterday I finally figured out how to fix that felted hat that was too big.  I'd cut out a wedge but couldn't figure out how to sew the edges together.  There was no way either of my sewing machines would be able to sew it up so I got out Mother Malcolm's old sewing box and used the darning thread to stitch it together.  The hat is fuzzy enough that the seam doesn't really show.  It's still a little big but it's warm and I like it.

It only took me three days but I also worked out how to pick up stitches and cast on stitches to knit square number two of the Modular Pillow.  I also ditched the DPNs in favor of a long circular needle to do Magic Loop which means I'm only dealing with two needles instead of five.  An improvement.  I am hopeful that I'll get into the groove joining these squares because right now I'm wavering between keeping going and using the yarn for something else, like a sock.

This afternoon I took a shift at the Bay Lakes Knitting Guild booth at Artigras, the mid-winter art weekend in town.  We have a lot of items on display but, since we're an informational booth, we can't sell anything.  We're trying to attract more members.  I meant to take pictures but I forgot.  I'm going back tomorrow morning for another shift so I'll remember to take pictures then.  Promise.

29 February--Barbara Malcolm, Three Cheers for Murder. 

Dropping Cecilia at her home, Det. Archibald drove to the home of Marcelle Durot, the woman Dwayne Neal used as an alibi for the time Kimmy was killed.  The home was a large, Tudor two story house with lavish gardens.  Parking his car on the street, he walked to the door and rang the bell.  Hearing the chime, he consulted his notebook and waited to hear steps approaching.  From right behind him a voice said, “Can I help you?”  Turning toward the voice Archibald saw a small, red haired woman dressed in what are obviously her gardening clothes, wearing a large straw hat, gardening gloves, and holding a trowel.  “Ma’am, I’m Detective Alan Archibald of the Ashville Police Department.  I wonder if I might speak with you.”  Sighing, the woman gestured for him to follow her around the house to the back where he’s amazed to see an enormous yard divided into flower beds, a water garden, a gazebo.  It looks like a spread in an expensive house & garden magazine.  “This is a beautiful garden, ma’am.  Did you design it yourself?” 
“Yes, Detective, I also did most of the planting.”  She ushered him to a table under an arbor where there was a large pitcher of tea and glasses on a tray.  “Please sit down.  Can I pour you a drink?” she asked. 
“Sure.  Ms. are Ms. Durot, aren’t you?” 
“Yes, Det. Archibald, I’m Marcelle Durot.  Dwayne called me a few minutes ago telling me to expect your visit but I didn’t expect you quite so soon.  How can I help you?”
 “As I’m sure Mr. Neal told you, I’m investigating the murder of Mrs. Kimberly Neal last night at the tennis club.  Mr. Neal said that he was spending time with you at the time of the murder and I need to get your corroboration of his alibi.  Now, I’m not happy that he called you.  I’d hoped to get here before you spoke with him, but that can’t be helped.” 
Turning the pages of his notebook back to the information he got from the coroner last night, or rather early this morning, he asked, “Ms. Durot, what time were you with Mr. Neal last night?  From when to when?” 
“Before I tell you anything, Detective, I need your assurance that this information goes no further. My husband’s a jealous man. I can’t have him finding out about my other little hobby.   Gardening is an acceptable hobby; Dwayne Neal is definitely not.” 
“Ms. Durot, I’ll do everything I can to keep what you tell me in confidence.  Right now, I’m just trying to establish Mr. Neal’s whereabouts at the time of his wife’s death.” 
“There’s a little club, Up on the Ledge, about six miles north of the city where Dwayne and I sometimes meet.  It’s quiet and private.  That’s where we were last night from 10 PM until 1:30 AM.  If you need further proof, I’m sure the bartender can vouch that we were there, although it’s a popular spot for people who indulge in that little hobby.  She may be reluctant to verify our presence.”
“Where were you sitting and what were you drinking?” 
“We were in the last booth on the left as you enter and Dwayne always has Scotch and water and I drink Bourbon and ginger ale, the real stuff, not cola and white soda mixed.  She’ll remember me I’m sure.  I always ask to make sure they have real ginger ale.” 
“Thank you for your cooperation, Ms. Durot.  I’ll do what I can to keep you or your name out of this.”  He stood to leave.  His gaze traveled around the surrounding gardens.  “This is a beautiful place.  So restful and relaxing with the sound of the water.  You sure did a great job.  Thank you for the opportunity to see it and thank you for giving me this information.” 
“You’re quite welcome, Detective.  I’m glad you like my gardens.  It keeps me busy.”  She smiled, “At least during the day.”  Marcelle Durot put on her gloves and picked up her trowel, “Can you show yourself out, Det.?  I need to finish planting my annuals.” 
Giving one more sweeping glance around the yard, he nodded his thanks and went back to his car and drove away.

It's supposed to be close to 50 degrees tomorrow.  I'll believe it when I see it.

Friday, February 28, 2020



It was sunny today all day.  Sunny but windy and cold.  Brr.

So I stayed inside and worked on a manuscript.  This one's scenes are all out of chronological order and some are repeated later and... well, I did a lot of cutting and pasting, then reading more and juggling things around.  Pretty soon I'll have it in an order that I like and then I'll resend it to the Kindle and read through with my little notebook at hand to make notes about where more scenes need to be and what they might say.

On Monday while waiting for my dough to rise I came in here, went on Amazon, and found a couple more "... Bread in 5 Minutes a Day" books--Healthy Bread and Pizza & Flatbread--for a whole lot less than the cover prices.  The Healthy Breads one came today.  I paid $6 for it with $6 shipping, not bad for a book with a $32.99 cover price.  I'll be paging through to find a recipe to make when I've eaten my half of the spent grains breads.  I've already looked at the pictures, of course.

Speaking of looking at things, I looked out the window in the nick of time to catch tonight's sunset.  I could look at this sky for a long time, the colors are breathtaking, but I have to stand in the open doorway and it's too cold.  I do wish that the streetlight pole wasn't smack dab in the middle of my shot most of the time.  Oh well. When the pole fell down a few years ago the public service guys hurried right over and put up a new one, so I guess we have to have it.  If we want lights and heat and stuff like that.  Which I do.

Tonight at Friday Night Knitting I cast on and knitted on March Preemie Hat #1.  I was going to call it February Preemie Hat #6 but there's only one more day of February left so I thought I'd get a jump on the March hats.

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

He opened the door to an all-white room.  Thick carpeting covered the floor.  A large bed was covered by a canopy and draped with fabric and heaped with pillows.  A small door off to the right led to her dressing room.
 The walls of the dressing room were a delicate shell pink with a coral glaze.  The floor was covered with white silk carpeting. The long right side of the room and the wall opposite the door were filled floor to ceiling with white closets for all Kimmy’s clothing, racks for her shoes and special drawers for her lingerie and sweaters.  The space above had places for all her hats.  All the hangers were white satin filled with lilac potpourri.  There were also custom cupboards for her accessories and costume jewelry.  Her “real” jewelry rested in the safe in the library downstairs.  On the left-hand wall was Kimmy’s dressing table, well-lit and holding all her makeup, fragrances and skin care items.  In the left corner of the room in front of a window sat an old chair covered in worn fabric with a soft, fuzzy throw over it, a matching ottoman, a small table holding a lamp and a few brand new books,  a well-thumbed photo album and Kimmy’s diary.    Cecilia noticed that a lot of the books are about fitness training and some books are piled on a pink bag with a large “K” visible on the edge.
“Dwayne, where did Kimmy buy her books?” Cecilia asked.
Dwayne chuckled, “Kimmy was so frustrated that she couldn’t figure out how to order them on the computer.  No matter how many times I led her through it she just didn’t get it.  She was irritated that she had to order them from Marlene at Kitty’s Korner.  She always said how much she hated, um, I mean, disliked Marlene ever since they were kids.  Marlene’s mom was their cheerleading coach and the three girls spent a lot of time at Kitty’s place.  Marlene wasn’t one of “the girls” you know.  She’s always been frumpy and a real bookworm.  Not Kimmy’s type at all.  Anyway, I guess she ordered books from Marlene out of loyalty to Kitty, but she wasn’t really happy about it.”
Cecilia let her gaze fall on the dressing table on her left.  Arranged on her dressing table are framed photos of her past.  “The Y’s” are well represented, Kimmy and Dwayne at their wedding looking rather stunned, Kimmy with her parents and sister on Christmas when she was about six, “the Y’s” and their husbands at various locations and charity events, Kimmy after winning the club tennis and golf tournaments, and a photo of Dwayne standing next to his plane and laughing.  This last photo looks like it has been crumpled up and smoothed out.  She picked it up and showed it to Det. Archibald.
“These are lovely photos, Dwayne.  This one of you by your plane is especially good of you.”
He took the frame from her hands.  “Yeah, this was Kimmy’s favorite.  For a while.  You can see she’d thrown it away.  That was after the first time she discovered one of my little indiscretions.  I guess she got it out of the trash later and replaced it in the frame.”
“Thank you, Mr. Neal, for your cooperation.  Here’s my card.  Call me if you think of anything further.  We’ll see ourselves out.”
Archibald took Cecilia’s arm and escorted her from the room.  At the door she looked back at Dwayne.  He stood seemingly rooted to the spot, staring at the framed photo in his hand.  Lost to the world.  Thinking of his life?  His dead wife?

Tomorrow is Leap Day!  Tomorrow the calendar gets right for the year.  After this year things slip a bit every year until the next year divisible by four rolls around and we have another Leap Day.  Who figured this stuff out?  Can we put the same brains on the Daylight Savings Time question?  You know that I don't like DST, that it's annoying and a waste of time (heh, waste of "time") so I'd like some big brained person to talk some sense into the people who keep making me change the clocks twice a year.  End of rant.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

It Was a Red Shoe Day

I have a lot of pairs of red shoes and ankle boots.  I wear them when I'm in a down mood and also when I'm in an up mood.  I just realized how illogical that is.  How are the people who see my shoes supposed to know how to react?  Beat the heck outta me.  All I know is that when I'm in the depths I wear red shoes to cheer myself up and when I'm happy and upbeat I wear red shoes because they're cheerful.  Today it was because I was happy. (these are from a saddlery in Montana; they remind me of the fun I had at Yellowstone last summer) I had a great trainer session that made my arms feel like overcooked noodles and gave me a bit of an ache right below my shoulder blades (rotation sets) but I feel so good when I'm done and I'm used to having Tylenol as a Thursday night bedtime snack.

I did more rearranging of a manuscript and then sent it to the Kindle so I can read it again and make notes of places that need more words or scenes.  I know there are gaps in there.

After that I spent an hour or so counting out 24 pretzel sticks and 13 pretzel twists and 22 Cheez-its Reduced Fat crackers and one square of Ghirardelli into packages.  All but the last are 2 WW points per each, the chocolate is 4 points per square.  It's worth it and I love those crunchy salty things.

I allow myself a chocolate square when I have a supper like the Sloppy Joe in Spaghetti Squash Bowl like I had tonight.  I need to make more of the Sloppy Joe for the freezer.  It's so good and the squash is a zero points food so this whole plateful is a whopping 2 WW points.  See how chocolate is possible?  I'm working to be real careful what I eat so that when I get on the scale on Monday I'm smiling, not frowning.

I finished the first square of the pillow top last night but I'm stymied about how to join on and pick up stitches for the next one.  I think I'll take it to Friday Night Knitting to see if LB can give me some tips.  It's supposed to be garter stitch which is bumpy but I want it smoother so I'm trying it in stockinette.  It might be a total bust but if I can get over the pick up stitches hump I might be on to something.  Maybe.

27 February--Barbara Malcolm, Three Cheers for Murder. 

Cecilia gasped at the brutality of Archibald’s questions.  She reached her hand as if to touch Dwayne when Archibald shook his head at her.  Dwayne’s chin was sunk on his chest.  He raised his head to show the tears in his eyes, “All right, Detective, all right.  Look, Kimmy and I weren’t what you’d call madly in love.  We haven’t had a real marriage for a long time.  I’m not the most faithful of husbands.  I have friends.  Girlfriends.  I always have.  Oh, in the beginning I guess we were in love.  We skied, dived, flew all over having a great time.  Lots of the times we spent with Tiffy and Dirk and Teddy and David.  After David died in that skiing accident, things kind of fell apart.  Kimmy spent a lot of time trying to comfort Teddy.  More and more time away from me.  I need someone to pay lots of attention to me.  We just kind of grew apart.  Neither of us knew what to do so we just stayed together.  And I suppose I still love Kimmy.  But not the way she needed.  She knew long ago that there were other women.  We never spoke of it but gradually we stopped traveling together and went our own ways.  She spent more and more time at the club, working out, taking lessons, playing tennis and golf.  I know she had a little fling with Lars, the tennis pro there.  I like to fly to places, new places, and gamble and have fun.  I’ve never had any trouble finding company.  I didn’t want Kimmy dead, Detective.  There was no reason to want her dead.  I can’t even tell you who’d want her dead.  I, we, haven’t been involved in each other’s lives for years.  I’m ashamed to say I can’t even tell you who her friends were.  Except for Tiffy and Teddy, they’ve been best friends forever.  Since high school.”
“I’m sorry, Mr. Neal.  I’m sure you loved your wife in your own way, but I still need the name of the friend you were with last night.  After what you’ve said I assume it’s a woman.  Rest assured we’ll be discreet.  We won’t reveal her name unless we absolutely have to.”
Sorry for the man sitting across from her, Cecilia got up and sat on the ottoman at Dwayne’s feet.  She reached forward and took his unresponsive hand in hers.  “Dwayne,” she said softly, “we know you loved Kimmy.  She was a lovely person.  Right now, she needs your help.  You need your own help.  Det. Archibald knows you didn’t kill her.  But he needs you to help him.  If you’ll tell him the name of your friend, I’ll make sure he’s very careful with that information.  I’ll make sure he doesn’t hurt your friend.  Come on, you can tell me.”  She stroked his hand and felt a slight tightening of his fingers, as if he needed something to hold on to. 
He let out a long sigh.  “All right, Detective.  I was with Marcelle Durot.  I’ll call her and tell her you’ll be in touch with her.  She won’t be happy; I can assure you.  She won’t see me again I’m sure.”
“I’m sorry, Mr. Neal.  I’ll be as diplomatic as I can.  Did Ms. Durot know your wife?  Perhaps I can interview her as an acquaintance of Kimmy’s?  Just to protect her reputation.”
“She’d met Kimmy a few times.  I guess that might work.  Her husband’s out of town a lot on business.  Maybe he won’t find out.”
“Mr. Neal, would you mind if we saw Mrs. Neal’s rooms?  Perhaps we can find some clue there to who might have been her killer.”
Dwayne stood up and turned away, gesturing for them to follow him.  He took them back toward the front door and up the stairs to the private areas of the home.  Walking down the hall to the right, he stopped at a door.  “This was Kimmy’s bedroom.” 

Tonight's sunset was beautiful and noteworthy because the colored clouds and sky are moving westward, which means that spring is creeping up on us.  It'll be a while before it's reliably nice, we are in Wisconsin and it is February after all, but the lengthening days are a real boon, a promise of things to come.  It's supposed to be a whopping 7 degrees tomorrow morning and windy.  I think I'll hang around indoors until time to go to knitting when it's supposed to be in the mid-20s.  I know that doesn't sound much better but, trust me, you take what you can get this time of year.