Monday, November 30, 2020

Cold and Windy

That was today in a nutshell.  It never got above 32 degrees and the wind was fierce.  I had a 9am oil change appointment and it was freezing in the waiting area.  I tried to knit but my fingers felt like ice.  I was cold all day even with a wool sweater on over another sweater.  I feel like if I'm this cold now when it isn't even winter what is going to be happening when it's really cold.  I'll be an icicle.  Either that or I'll wear my coat, hat, and mittens in the house.

The only bird I saw today was this Downy Woodpecker that came to have a drink at the birdbath.  It occurred to me today that maybe one of my neighbors has better birdseed because I haven't had Sparrows or Juncos around for at least a week.

I texted with DS today to figure out when it will be convenient for me to visit at the brewery.  I'm going tomorrow but then he texted that OJ is missing the "animals in the red tray." Could they come visit at their house?  Of course they can visit.  That request warmed my heart.  Not my fingers but my heart.  I've got them all bagged and ready to go.


One of the Christmas cactus flowers is fully open and another one isn't far behind.  And one bud fell off.  This thing is very particular about its conditions.

I managed a few rounds on Cast Sock 5 at the garage this morning and a few more after supper.  It's hard to knit when your fingers are frozen.



30 November--Barbara Malcolm, The Seaview. 

Chapter 17

It was hard but no one teased the Mr. Gomez about the cat incident.  I felt sorry for him, I really did.  He was a low-level government official on a tiny island where everyone knew everyone else and he had to know that most people held him up to ridicule for doing his job so rigorously.  It didn't help that he was bucking generations of people making a living by wrecking or salvaging cargoes that had washed up on these shores over the centuries.

Jim and I had sat in Johnno's a time or two on our trips listening to Old Reynaldo tell of his grandfathers rowing out in their small boats when freighters had been driven by storms or bad navigation onto the shallow reefs around the island so they could gather up what flotsam they could find.  The light in the old man's eyes when he told the tales of shipwrecks and storms, salvage and survivors showed me how deeply rooted the tradition was in the island culture.  Survival is more than just subsistence on an island like Anguilla; it depends on the cooperation and coordination of the entire society.

In a place as tightly tied together as this small island where one person or family's success in their business directly affects their neighbors, a person like Mr. Hernando Gomez with his rigid adherence to rules most of the people see as arbitrary is fortunate to just be thought of as ridiculous.  He was lucky not to be waylaid on a dark curve on his way home from levying a steep duty or confiscating a bit of contraband and left beaten in a ditch.  I liked Mr. Gomez but he was a bit of a trial.  Iggy had endless patience with his strict adherence to the laws and tended to be able to tease and cajole him into a better mood more readily than anyone.

I made it my job over the next few days to go out of my way to treat Mr. Gomez like a friend, making sure he had enough cold water, didn't stand out in the sun too long, I even took to bringing lunch for what I came to think of as my crew a couple days a week just so we could sit around in the back garden in the shade and become a team.

Today's toss was a jade peach I bought for Mom on some Caribbean island.  I don't know why I bought it or why I kept it but it's off to Goodwill to find a new home.  I'm having difficulty finding something to toss lately.  Not that my house is stripped to the bare necessities but I've lost a little steam.

Writing was okay today.  It was the last day of NaNoWriMo and I didn't make 50,000 words.  I only got to 48,362 but I'm fine with that.  I was looking for the discipline rather than expecting a novel to come from it.  I'm glad I did it and I'm glad it's over.


Sunday, November 29, 2020


 I was going to make butternut squash and chicken soup but wasn't in the mood for all that peeling and dicing.  Instead I made Easy Egg Drop Soup with added cabbage, mushrooms, and chicken.  It smelled real good and I can't wait to have it for lunch tomorrow.  Mm, good.  But not from the red and white can.

There were three birds on the platform feeder at one time today.  Three!  And a sparrow on the feeder with the cracked corn in it.  I was happy to see the three House Finches even if they're rather dull looking in their winter plumage.



The suet squirrel was back today, hanging by its back feet to nab a nibble and then sitting up on top of the feeder to eat.  Down and up, down and up.  It was like a machine until another squirrel showed up and chased it off the feeder.  The other one wasn't as agile or accomplished as the first one, it managed a couple bites before it fell to the ground.  Oh, it tried to act as though it had jumped down but I could tell that it lost its balance and fell.


I started another cast sock toe cap in an old skein of yarn that I'd forgotten I had.  For some reason this trio of colors pleases me no end.  Who'd put purple, red, and orange together and expect it to look good but it does.  At least I think it does. 


29 November--Barbara Malcolm, The Seaview. 

I watched carefully as Mr. Gomez pulled himself together, unclenching the hand that grasped his beloved clipboard in a stranglehold and smoothing down the pages of the bill of lading that he had been working from all week.  He took another cleansing breath and started speaking.  "When I left last night after you and Mr. Solomon had returned the wires, switches, and junction boxes to the container, I was very careful to arrange the boxes that I had gone through onto the right side which is where I keep the cartons that have been cleared.  I keep the items that I have not certified on the left side.  As the work progressed and the items got bigger, like the pile of plywood and wall board, I had to call Silas and Edward to come and help me.  Edward is especially good at organizing things, you know."

As he spoke I could see the tension rebuilding in his face and hands.  I put a calming hand on his arm.  "Why don't we all get a nice cool bottle of water and go sit on the front porch?  I, for one, could really use something cold to drink and a breeze on my face."

Behind Mr. Gomez I could see Iggy nodding in agreement.  He turned and fished three bottles of iced mineral water from the cooler that I refilled every few days, wiped them dry on the towel that I hung on a nail above the cooler, and handed one to Mr. Gomez and one to me.  Both Iggy and Mr. Gomez insisted that I precede them through the hotel and onto the porch.  We pulled a third chair close to the other two and sat, me first of course, these were gentlemen after all.

"I do not believe that anyone would break into a container with an official Customs Department padlock on it," Mr. Gomez said shaking his head.

I hid a smile at his naiveté by sipping my water.  Did he really think that a flimsy padlock probably purchased in bulk at the local hardware store would deter a dedicated thief?

"People have no respect for the rules, 'Nando, you know that," Iggy said.  "These days they just take what they want no matter who it belongs to."

"I thought that you had respect for the rules, though, Ignatius.  You and I have been friends for my whole life, and our mothers have sat beside each other in church and sung in the choir together for decades. How could you betray my trust like that?"

Iggy, who had moved from his chair to sit on the porch railing between Mr. Gomez and me, shook his head.  "I do not know how you think that I got into the container.  Was the padlock broken?  Had someone jimmied the latch?  Mrs. Rose and I were working with the few things that I had not returned to the container, waiting for you to arrive so that we could retrieve my tools and enough supplies for the day."

Mr. Gomez was shaking his head as Iggy spoke.  "No, the padlock was on and the latch seemed secure.  I do not know how the mess was made but it was, there is no denying it."  He stood up and walked toward the stairs that led to the beach.  "I need to go down to the police station and file a report.  That is the procedure outlined in the Customs Department handbook."

As Mr. Gomez stepped onto the beach, his body rigid with righteous indignation, Silas came toward him from the direction of Johnno's.  "Mr. Gomez, I am glad to see you.  Have you opened that container yet?"

Mr. Gomez stopped in his tracks so quickly that his shoes slid and a drift of sand covered them.  "Why do you ask?  Do you know who broke in last night?"

Silas started laughing and it took a while for him to catch his breath so that he could speak.  "Oh, no one broke into the container last night, Mr. Gomez.  When you and Edward finished with your stacking and organizing of the cartons neither of you noticed that one of the local cats had been locked in.  I got very little sleep all night listening to it yowl."

It was all I could do not to burst out laughing but I knew that to laugh at the situation would make Mr. Gomez think that I was laughing at him and that would be a big mistake.

Silas cocked his head at the Customs man.  "Did a cat run out as soon as you opened the doors?  I cannot imagine that it would have stayed in there for one more minute, the racket it was making.  I knew that it had to be racing around out there.  I could hear cartons falling and metal hitting metal."  He turned to me.  "I hope that it did not break anything, Mrs. Rose.  We should probably go and check.

It was a very chastened man who led us back to the cargo container parked in the vacant lot next to the yellow house.  It took all of us most of that day, even with Edward's excellent organizational skills, to restore order to Mr. Gomez' satisfaction.

After the great cat trapping incident Mr. Gomez was very cautious before he locked the container each night.  He made Edward clamber over cartons and slither around stacks of plywood and wallboard to herd out any stray cat or dog that may have sought refuge in the container unnoticed during the day.

Today's toss was the two knit shirts I made this year.  I tried them on and they're miles too big, especially the necklines.

Writing wasn't too bad today.  I sent my main character snorkeling at one of my favorite dive sites so today I got her there with a couple new friends and tomorrow I'll get her in the water.  Tomorrow's the last day of November and therefore the last day of National Novel Writing Month.  I won't get to 50k words but I'll be close.  All of my words aren't story words but I'm just glad that I managed to write every day.


Saturday, November 28, 2020

A Solitary Bird

One.  One Mourning Dove was the only bird at the feeders this morning.  And it wasn't on any of the feeders, it was on the ground pecking at cracked corn.  Usually there are five or six doves here at any one time.  Not today.  There were no Sparrows, no House Finches, just that one dull gray Mourning Dove.  Also I think I missed a picture of the hawk at lunchtime.  I saw a big shadow go across the grass from the fence to the roof and I missed it.  Dang.  Probably explains the lack of birds.

A different squirrel was at the suet today.  (I can tell them apart by their tails.)  Anyway, this one sat on top of the feeder and leaned down for a bite then sat up straight to chew and swallow before leaning down for more.

The Christmas cactus flowers are starting to open.  Well, one is.  The other four are taking their time.

I finished up the latest cast sock.  I got the knit 2, purl 2 ribbing right this time so it was easier to decrease for the top.  I dug out some other colors of yarn to make more.  Like I said, this is about my speed lately.

28 November--Barbara Malcolm, The Seaview. 

Chapter 16

I should have known that it was too good to be true that my dealings with the Anguilla Customs agent up to that point had been smooth.  The very next morning after Iggy and I had supper in the courtyard behind Sydans things fell apart.

Iggy was pleased when on his second day working in the container Mr. Gomez gave the okay for us to begin taking electrical items out to start work on the hotel as soon as he had cleared them.  We had begun some of the prep work in the kitchen before Mr. Gomez arrived that day.  He stepped into the room as he had done all the other days, to say good morning and to let us know that he had arrived.

Iggy and I were laughing over a tricky and slightly stubborn connection he was making when Mr. Gomez stormed in, his face deep red and his forehead looking like ten miles of bad road.

"I cannot believe it, Ignatius.  I give you an inch, against government policy I might add, and you take a mile.  Two miles, by the looks of it."

We stopped laughing and looked at each other like children caught being naughty.  "What do you mean, 'Nando?  I have not touched anything that you have not cleared," Iggy said.

"Call me Mr. Gomez, if you please."

I saw Iggy's muscles tense and I heard him draw in a breath to fire back at the customs agent.  I put a hand on his arm and whispered, "Remember he has the power to lock up all our building supplies, Iggy.  Let him rant until we find out what the problem is."

Some of the tension went out of Iggy's arm and I felt safe enough to let go and step toward the angry customs man.  "I'm sorry you think Iggy or I overstepped your permissions, Mr. Gomez.  Please tell us what's happened and perhaps we can help to fix it or make things right."  I took another step toward him.  "Neither of us would ever knowingly do anything that would endanger your job, you must know that, especially Mr. Solomon who has been your friend for years."  I was using the same voice I had used when Will and Marie were on the verge of a hysterical tantrum, the one I've heard police use when trying to diffuse a situation on a television show.

Gomez took several deep breaths and closed his eyes.  I could see the effort that it took for him to get control of his anger.  It was a few long minutes before he opened his eyes and his gaze bored into Iggy.  "When I opened the container this morning all of the contents were in a jumble.  The neat and tidy organization that I had made so that I could see at a glance what had been checked and what still needed attention was destroyed."

Cold dread slammed into the pit of my stomach.  Had someone broken in during the night and made off with some of my carefully chosen and desperately needed supplies?

Today's toss was a few more knitting books.  Man, I have a lot of those.

Writing was slow today but then everything was slow today.  Even though it was sunny I didn't have the oomph to do anything much.  Tomorrow will be better.