Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Another Cloudy Day

And I saw tiny snow flurries this morning.  Nothing came of it but I swear that the raindrops had solid mass, at least for a couple minutes.  It was misty, breezy, and generally crummy for most of the day.  Just what you need when you're sheltering in place, crap weather.  Granted it is March in Wisconsin so I can't expect balmy days with sunny skies but I'd like them.  Please.

I was quick enough this morning to snap a picture of a bluejay on the peanut wreath.  I heard the squawk and grabbed the camera.  He took off right after I pushed the shutter.  I was surprised that I didn't have a blur of feathers and wings.

Tomorrow is April 1 and April is Poetry Month.  I'm supposed to have a writing date with ACJ tomorrow but we talked and it isn't smart of us to meet so I went online to find a list of prompts and we're going to write poems every day in April.  We agreed that if the weather gets nice enough to sit outside she'll come over and I'll put another table on the patio so we can each have our own spot but be close enough to converse but far enough apart to be safe.  This sounds like it's going to be a long haul so maybe we'll still be safe-at-home-ing when the weather turns nice and we can do that.

It hit me this afternoon that today is the last day of March and I'd forgotten to knit a fourth preemie hat for the month.  I got right on it and knitted the smallest micro-preemie hat, Moe.  I'm a very slow knitter so it took me more than an hour, maybe an hour and a half to knit this thimble sized hat.  It fits very nicely on a clementine, that's how small it is.

I can send this quartet of hats up to the NICU when I drop off the masks I made for the guy in the ER at St. Vincent Hospital who, rumor  has it, will put them in the staff room for anyone who wants one.

31 March--Josef Albers, Homage to the Square.  The light was yellow, even the air looked yellow.  Leah pushed open the screen door and went out into the golden twilight.  She half-expected to feel the light like a breeze on her skin.  The day had been hot and humid.  She had made lemonade with a sprig of lavender in it.  She's read about lavender lemonade in a magazine and thought it sounded elegant.  It tasted elegant too, not like soap which Jack said it would.  He wouldn't try it.  "A G&T is what I need on a day like this, not some frou-frou herbed lemonade."  She left him parked in from of the big screen watching some movie with explosions and car chases to come outside to enjoy the end of the day.  Fireflies blinked on and off in the hedge and the light painted the world golden.

I just realized that I'll need to write a poem with tonight's prompt so I have one to put on here tomorrow.  Can't celebrate the first day of Poetry Month with prose, now, can I?  Nope.

Monday, March 30, 2020

Spring Blooms


You have to be sharp-eyed to find most of the flowers blooming in front of my house.  Each tiny bell of the squills is the size of my pinkie nail.


By comparison this purple crocus is a monster; it's the size of a walnut.  Huge.  I'm sure my neighbors think I'm bonkers because I go outside in front, bend at the waist, and shuffle down the length of the house looking for the tiniest of flowers.  No one can see them but me--and my trusty Canon.

This afternoon was pattern cutting out time.  First I cut this luscious poppy printed knit to make a long-sleeved tee shirt.  This knit fabric is so silky soft, I can't wait to make the shirt so I can wear the daylights out of it.

Then I cut this upholstery weight linen using a caftan pattern.  The dress is full-length so it'll be heavy to wear but I also think it'll be the perfect lounge around the house garment.  I got the fabric at the Rag Peddler in Lexington a couple years ago for about $3/yard so even if it's not perfect I won't have overspent.  Let me be honest, I hardly ever pay full price for fabric.  Anyone who thinks that it's economical to sew your own clothing is mistaken.  Over the last few years pattern and fabric costs have gone up and up and ready-made clothes prices, especially in big box stores, have fallen.  I still like making what I wear, now that I'm not working and have time to sew I think I probably dress nicer than when I was working.  Oh well, my clothes make me feel good and that's what counts.

30 March--Jacques-Laurent Agasse, The Nubian Giraffe.  Mark was really too young to be at the dinner table.  He was seated on two volumes of Grandfather's encyclopedia by the footman, Chase, who was only about five years older than Mark, but they were important years.  He should have had his supper in the nursery with his cousins but Grandfather had sent word up that Mark was to be at the table tonight.  He looked at the glittering rank of silver at his place and hoped he used the right fork at the right time.  He was glad to be seated across from his favorite painting, the one with the friendly looking giraffe.  Lady Jane Ellsworth, on his left, hadn't said one word to him and Meryl Baldwin, on his right, was too busy fluttering her eyelashes at Lord Ellsworth on her right.  So Mark ate his food and watched the candlelight flicker on the giraffe, making it look like it was moving.  He was wondering what the giraffe's hide would feel like when he realized that someone had said his name.  He looked up to see all eyes on him.  "Well, what do you think, Mark?" said Grandfather.  "Sir?" Mark said. "Beg pardon, sir, but I was looking at the giraffe."

I have no idea what Grandfather wanted Mark's opinion on, that information didn't squirt out the end of my pencil last night.  It's funny what comes when I look at the pictures or the words of a prompt (depending on which book I decide to use), often it starts in the middle of something (in medias res) so I don't really know what comes before or after.  It's kind of fun, actually, to be in the dark and have the words just pop out.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

I Fixed It

I forgot to put a nose wire in the first of the masks I made the other day.  I initially thought that it would be okay without one but then I wore it for a few minutes and fogged up my glasses so I had to work out how to put in the wire without having to deconstruct the danged thing.  I did it.  In a YouTube video a lady put her wire in last on purpose so I copied her method--and it worked.  Since this is the mask I'm keeping I'm glad I fixed it.

Here are the four masks I made today.  There are two of the blue bandana one.  Each one takes me about an hour to make.  I've made ten so far so I think I'll take a break and spend tomorrow cutting out garments so the next time I feel like sewing I'll have a pile of cool things to sew up.  Not that I need any more clothes, but I love making them and I have the fabric for them.  One of the things I want to cut out is a new knit shirt pattern.  I wear long-sleeved knit shirts most days so if I can make my own that'd be good.  Not cheaper but fun to do and, like I said, I have the fabric on hand.

After supper I cast on Car Knitting Warshrag #17.  I'm using the leftovers of the previous rag only in the opposite configuration.  I'm hoping that I run out of the current background yarn so that the color changes to the blue/green/purple yarn that reminds me of the colors of the ocean.

The chipmunk moved into the platform feeder this afternoon, hogging all the seeds and chasing away the house finches.  I opened the patio door thinking the sound would chase it away.  It stayed there.  So I went outside and walked toward the feeder.  It stayed there.  I swatted the side of the feeder and yelled at it to shoo.  It looked up at me as if to say "what?"  Finally it got the message and scampered off.  I wish I could call in a hawk.

29 March--The last time I saw...  the ocean I was in an airplane.  We flew from San Juan, Puerto Rico up the island chain of the Bahamas.  The water was a thousand shades of blue and the islands all wore necklaces of sugar white sand.  Waves and tides arranged sandbars and shorelines into geometric shapes and fanciful curves.  I wished to be down there where the warm water met the land then and still wish it now.  I love the long view standing on a seashore looking out over the seemingly endless water.  That view soothes and comforts me.  Will I ever get to stand by the ocean again?

No, I'm not feeling sorry for myself I'm just reliving a very happy time.  If I want to see big water all I have to do is drive a couple miles to the bay shore and there it is.  This nightly prompt writing is harder than I remember it being.  Guess I'm out of practice.  I'm not giving up.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

What Day Is It?

I have lost track of the days since the stay-at-home order removed all of my weekly activities that help me keep on top of things.  It's a good thing I get the newspaper so it can tell me the day when I bring it in of a morning.

Today it rained, drizzled, and misted.  A day guaranteed to wring out any desire to bustle around, for me anyway, 

so I fired up my Kindle and started to read an ebook I got from the library.  That's what you do on rainy days, right?  You read books.  It's a good book so I kept reading until I was halfway through the book and the Kindle was down below 20% battery.  Oops.  Time to plug it in and go find something else to do.

I didn't want to start a new knitting project or pick up that pillow top so I got the car knitting warshrag bag from the pocket in the driver's door and finished it.  It's number 16 in the series,all the same pattern, but different yarn colors.  Tomorrow I'll go downstairs to find some yarn to start number 17 just in case we ever get to go anyplace again where I'll need to have emergency knitting.

This chipmunk figured out very quickly that the feeders were there for the taking.  It shinnied up to the peanut wreath and today it sat on the chair with its cheek pouches crammed full.  I waited for a hawk to swoop down but the chippie must have been afraid of that too because it hopped down and zoomed off right after I took this.  I watched a squirrel try to jump up onto the corn crook, get halfway, and slide back down to the ground about a dozen times before it lost hope and scampered away.  It was pretty funny.

28 March--Broken Promises.  I meant to, I really did, but it was too easy to go the other way.  I knew that Greg would be angry that I'd spent most of the rent money but I had to pay my tuition.  How would I stay in school otherwise?  I know I had promised to go down to the landlord with the rent money today.  We were late paying already and Mr. Lyons wasn't the most tolerant of men.  He'd already left a terse message on the machine and I wasn't fast enough to erase it.  Greg was mad that I'd used the rent to buy books.  "Textbooks," I said, "books I need for school."  "School isn't as important as rent," he yelled.  "What good are books if you have no place to live?"

I mastered technology today.  I figured out how to FaceTime with DS so I could visit with him, LC, and OJ.  I felt really smart for a minute--until the signal weakened and everything froze.  But we'll try again when I'm in the living room right by the router.  Next time.

Friday, March 27, 2020

I Didn't Rake

I meant to.  I thought about it. But I just didn't make it out the door today.  Maybe it was the thick overcast that kept the light low.  Or maybe it was being in the basement for about three hours cutting and sewing up three more masks and having my feet and hands freeze.  I'll get out there on the next sunny day, I promise.

I had already sewn the first mask (the one with laundry on it, upper right) when I found the reel of florist's wire (that I knew I had somewhere) on the bottom shelf right next to my sewing machine.  I had watched a YouTube video showing how to sew a wire into the seam allowance so I snipped a 4" section of wire, turned the ends so they didn't poke out, and sewed one in the second (flowers, bottom) and third (unicorns, upper left) masks.  I have four more cut out so I hope that my production speeds up with practice.  Next I have to find a place to donate them to.

In bird news, a cardinal came and then came back with a pal, but I only managed to get a photo of the pal.

Even though the calendar says it's spring I saw a junco today which is a bird that overwinters here.  If they haven't flown back to the Arctic yet I don't think we can claim that it's really spring.

Once my fingers warmed up a bit I finished March Preemie Hat #3.  It wasn't until I was almost done with it that I realized I skipped a purl round before starting the crown decreases so it's a little smaller than usual.  I figure it'll fit somebody's head.

27 March--Chogogo, Caribbean Flamingo.  The breeze chopped the sunlight into small pieces like confetti scattered on the water.  A lone flamingo stood staring down as if deciding whether there were brine shrimp to eat there or not.  Jack was sure that Manning hadn't sent him to the lake to look at a bird.  Manning never did anything unless there was profit in it.  Jack looked around for a note or a sign.  He found nothing.  Today's pointless errand made him even more determined to get his money back from Manning.  It galled him that Mona had been right all along.  He should never have invested in a get-rich-quick treasure hunting scheme.

And there you go, a plain old prompt, which actually happens to refer to a novel I'm working on but I dug out an Art Book this evening so I can go back to using art for my nightly prompt.  I'll still work from the Bonaire  planner, which is where last night's prompt came from.  I think it'll help me make some headway in that pesky manuscript that keeps picking at me and then not cooperating when I try to work on it.  Silly words.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

It's Too Early...

... in this to be falling into cabin fever.  I find myself doing things slowly, deliberately which isn't the worst thing in the world.  Today I cut out and sewed up a couple more masks, this time with wires in the nose area.  One is more successful than the other but they're both okay, I think.  I'll cut out a couple more tomorrow and sew them up.  I'd have made a third one today (it's cut out already) but I would have had to change the thread in my machine from white to black and that just seemed like too much work.

Maybe I'll get outside to rake leaves a bit tomorrow if they've dried off after yesterday's rain.

Today I had a bluejay visit.  If you look closely you can see the spray of white safflower seeds that it flung around.  I do not know why it didn't stop at the peanut wreath instead.  They don't fling peanuts.

This evening I got to work on March Preemie Hat #3.  I suddenly noticed the date and realized that I've only got two of my usual four monthly preemie hats made and there's only 5 more days of March.  I'll manage.

26 March--Barbara Malcolm, Three Cheers for Murder. 

Detective Archibald turned to Lt. Graybow.  “Len, call the county mental health.  We can’t take her to jail like this.”  Graybow turned toward the kitchen where the phone was, then turned back to his partner.  “I’m sorry if I helped her.   She seemed so all alone.  I’m sorry, Marlene, I didn’t mean to hurt you either.”  He looked at the crying, babbling woman on the floor.  How could he have ever thought he might love her?  He shook his head and went into the kitchen to make the call.
“Are you all right?” Archibald asked Cecilia.  He made no move to help her up, afraid that Marlene would hurt herself or someone else.  He reached for his handcuffs on the back of his belt and gently snapped them onto Marlene’s wrists.  “It’s all right, Marlene.  You’re okay now.  They’re all gone.  You can relax.  We’re going to get you some help.”  He kept his hand on Marlene’s shoulder as they waited for someone to come from mental health. 
Cecilia got up from the floor and sat on the couch with a sigh.  She reached for a napkin to stop the bleeding of her hand.  She kept her eyes on her hand as she said, “I never thought she’d hurt me.  I thought we were friends.  I only wanted to help.”
Graybow walked through the room without speaking and went downstairs to await the ambulance that would come to take Marlene away.
Soon Cecilia could hear sirens in the distance, getting closer and closer.  The sound reached a climax as they arrived at the bookstore.  Cecilia could see the blue and white lights of the police cars and the red lights of the ambulance shine on the windows.  She sat quietly on the couch as the sound of voices and feet reached her.   Through the store and up the stairs came more policemen, a team of evidence technicians, and paramedics arrived to begin their work.  She watched silently as Marlene was strapped to a gurney and taken away, still spouting her venom.  The evidence team methodically went about their business, picking up the pieces of the flint knife, going through the apartment looking for evidence of the three murders.   
One of the paramedics returned to the room to have a look at the cut on her hand.  “You’d better have that stitched, ma’am,” he told her as he wrapped it with gauze and secured it with tape.   
“Thank you,” she murmured.  Cecilia was fascinated to watch Alan at work.  He directed the man and woman gathering evidence, spoke at length with the paramedics, and consulted with Lt. Graybow.  At one point he took Graybow into the hall, Cecilia hoped to reassure him about his mistake of being involved with a triple murderer.

After everyone had left, he came and sat next to her on the couch.  Archibald put his arm around her shoulder and helped her to stand.  “You need to come down to the station with me and give a statement.  I know you’re tired and want to go home but it’s best if you do this right away while it’s fresh in your mind,” he gently told her.  Then he put his arms around her and held her close.  Cecilia felt her muscles begin to relax and she pressed her face into his warm chest and began to cry.  Archibald held her in his firm arms, stroking her head and whispering reassurances until she felt able to control herself.  
 “It’s just an adrenaline reaction.  You’ll be fine now, little lady,” he told her.  
 “Don’t call me little lady!” she admonished him with a shaky laugh.  “I’m not your little lady.”   
Archibald looked down at her and smiled, “I hope you’ll be my little lady one of these days.”   
 Cecilia smiled up at him, turned and picked up her purse, and they left the apartment arm in arm.

And that is The End of my very first attempt at writing.  That also concludes the manuscripts I'm willing to slap on here which means that before I go to sleep tonight I have to figure out a prompt to write so that there'll be writing to put on here tomorrow night.  Just what I need, more "should"s.

I got my absentee ballot today.  The only hitch is that I need someone to witness my signature on the return envelope and there's no one here but me.  I guess I'll ask a neighbor to sign for me--from a distance.  What a pain.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Teeny Tiny

Flowers.  Or, rather, the promise of flowers.  Upon careful scrutiny of the area in front of the house I found...

                                                               a purple crocus bud cozying up to the yellow ones...

grape hyacinth buds about the size of a Q-Tip head (with a piece of broken glass heaved up by frost--I live on an old landfill and after 42 years glass is still coming up in the spring)...


                squills ready to open (they look like tiny striped violets and are the size of my pinkie nail)...

and a hyacinth bud just poking out of the ground. 

I dug out some fabric scraps and some bias binding to sew up a mask.  It should have had a nose-shaping wire but I couldn't figure out how to put one in.  So once it was done I surfed the web and found a free tutorial of how to sew in a wire.  Tomorrow I'll try again, this time with a plastic coated twist tie that I flattened out and will turn the ends so they're not pokey and then sew it onto the seam allowance so it's protected.

The bird of the day today was this cardinal.  It hopped around from the birdie tree to under the feeders where the house sparrows had flung seed down.  Cardinals like to eat on the ground or on a platform feeder, not a closed feeder.

25 March--Barbara Malcolm, Three Cheers for Murder. 

“Marlene, what are you doing?” she exclaimed.  Cecilia dropped her cup and saucer and turned to grab Marlene’s upraised arm.
 Marlene shrieked an unhuman sound and they began to struggle.  “If only you weren’t so nosy, Cecilia,” Marlene panted, “you might live through this day.” 
Cecilia was surprised at the other woman’s strength.  She kept a tight hold on Marlene’s right wrist as they fell to the floor.  All the time Marlene was talking.  “No, you had to keep asking questions.  Unnh.She grunted with the effort to shake off the grip on her wrist.  "You probably talked to that old fogey police detective you’re so taken with.”  The two women rolled over on the floor.  Marlene kept talking.  “I might have known you couldn’t keep your nose out of my business.  You make me sick.  Always messing in other people’s lives, just like my mother.  Marlene, you should fix yourself up.  Marlene, you should find a boyfriend.” 
Cecilia tried to use her other hand to get a better grip on the flint knife and cut her palm.  Marlene bucked her body, knocking Cecilia off of her.  But Cecilia still kept her grip on the wrist of the hand holding the knife.  
 “If only Marx hadn’t stopped writing.  Hadn’t found some simpering cheerleader to love.  None of this would have happened.”   
Cecilia tried to remember some of the things she’d learned in Tae Kwon Do to help her subdue Marlene, but Marlene seemed to have superhuman strength.  It was all Cecilia could do to keep the knife away from herself.  Cecilia heard the pounding of feet on the stairs.   “Marlene, you know long-distance relationships have a hard time lasting.  Oof!”  This as she was hit in the stomach by Marlene’s knee.   
 Cecilia gathered all her waning strength to slam Marlene’s right hand on the floor.  With the second blow the flint knife broke into pieces.   
At the sound of the shattering rock, Marlene went limp and began crying and keening.  “My knife!  You broke my knife, my life!”  She curled into a ball on the floor and sobbed.  
 Just as the flint knife shattered the door burst open and Det. Archibald and Lt. Graybow crashed into the apartment, guns drawn.  They looked at the women on the floor.   
Marlene was crying and talking, “Just when everything was finally right, Cecilia, you had to ruin everything.  Just when my life was finally about to start.  I’d gotten rid of “the Y’s”.  They weren’t going to make me feel bad anymore.  Those bitches!  With their perfect hair and their perfect lives.  Flaunting themselves and their success in my face.  I hate them!  They come in my store and, except for Kimmy, at least she’s honest about how she feels about me, pretend to want to be my friend.  Help me make something of my life.  Come teach in my store, says Tiffy.  Come help the homeless children, says Teddy.  Why should I help you?  When you’ve made my life a living hell.  When you’re everything my mother wants and I’m not.  Nothing, that’s what she thinks I am.  Well, I’ll show her.  I’ll get rid of her favorites. Then she’ll have to love me.”  Marlene stopped crying, looked at Cecilia’s stunned expression, and her face took on a look of cunning.  “I stuck them with my knife.  Severed their empty heads from their empty bodies.  One at a time.  Each one in the place they most loved.  The place of their greatest triumphs.  That’s where I did it.  So, they’d know why they had to die.”

My friend, CS, said that her brother was out in his yard trimming a tree and his neighbor came out and hollered at him, from his own yard, that he wasn't allowed to be outside, that we all have to stay in our houses.  That way lies madness.  I took a walk around the block before it started raining and once everything dries up I hope to start raking last fall's leaves that got rained and snowed on so that I couldn't clean them up.  I figure I can rake a bit every nice day and eventually have the yard cleaned up.  We can go outside, in fact we're encouraged to go outside, we just have to avoid people.  This is a very sneaky virus.