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One year into widowhood, after one year of incredible happiness and nearly 14 years of single blessedness. Have given up perfect manicures and pretty hands in order to resume playing the soprano recorder and to see if I can figure out how to play bluegrass banjo. Singing in the shower. Still really, *really* love to knit!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

More progress!

We ran a lot of errands yesterday. Multiple trips to Home Depot. Bittiest's soccer game. Drive-by fooding of the elders. There are two coats of paint on the ceiling in the hall, and I don't think it will need a third.

Fourthborn got the piece cut for the missing triangle of flooring at the corner of the alcove in the dining room. It looks wonderful. (And had defeated me three times, back in July.)

I've hung four pictures and a shelf this morning. Posted some pictures on Facebook. Taken the three small Willow Tree figurines and placed them atop the shelf (which hides the botched wall patch I'm pretty sure was botched by somebody other than Beloved, because the man was meticulous).

Tomorrow after work I will tackle the flooring. I am so excited that I can barely sit still. When that is done, and Wes has trimmed the sill on the water heater closet, I can paint the trim on that doorway, paint both doors in that section of hall, and empty the big closet of Beloved's footlocker and a bajillion paint cans.

It just occurred to me that I might be able to install shelving on one wall in there, which would provide an orderly place to keep the paint cans and my stash of Costco TP. I need to be able to access the AC filter, which is blocked by the footlocker and the clutter. It has not been tended since before Beloved passed, so it is long overdue.

Most of those paint cans will disappear when I have the outside of the house repainted. I will *not* be doing that myself. I don't mind climbing up and down stepstools to paint the interior. There are plenty of places to grab, when the day comes that I feel a little unsteady. I draw the line at tall ladders and tree branches. If the kids are willing and able to tackle the outside, fantastic! Otherwise, I will wait for a bonus and hire it done.

When I lived in the penultimate apartment, I had a Mae West quote along the top of my dining room wall in burgundy vinyl lettering. On Friday, I reordered it in the same font in a new color that I think will tone well with the color I'll be using on the double doors to the water heater closet.

One of the joys of having my own home is the freedom to paint the walls in a riot of colors and then "write" on them. These walls are too textured to accept wall words, but the doors are more cooperative. This company has a sign language font (finger spelling hand shapes). I am toying with getting L-O-O for the guest bathroom. Or "room of requirement" in their "Parry Hotter" font. Either of which would please me immensely.

So grateful to Fourthborn for helping me to get past the creative block and resume forward movement.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Cats, dogs, fishes, and a tornado watch.

It's Monday. It's raining. And the tornado watch expires at 7:00am. The only reason I know about it (I turn my phone off at night) is because I awoke from the beginnings of a nightmare around 1:00am and needed a distraction to clear my mind before going back to sleep.

I hear thunder out there. And dripping. And the gurgling of my stomach. I barely ate yesterday. Healthy breakfast. Didn't need my snack during church, so that was late lunch or pre-dinner once I got home. Then a catnap so I would be safe driving back from the birthday bash. (I drove almost 200 miles on Saturday. I'm tired.)

Slice of Tillamook while throwing on my clothes after my nap. One bottle of water down the hatch on the drive to Arlington. Four bites of dried pineapple, one cupcake, and two small cookies at the party. No Arby's on the way home, because it was the Sabbath. But another bottle of water. Ravenous when I got home. Nothing sounded good. I fixed an English muffin, took my Metformin, and called it a night.

My stomach thinks my throat's been cut. I just finished an English muffin with almond butter. My clothes are laid out for my shower. And I'm about to head back to the kitchen to rustle up a salmon burger sans bun. Thank you, Costco. I will probably follow that with bacon and eggs and a biscuit once I get to work. And I have the last pint of soup to take for lunch. Maybe by the end of the day I will no longer feel 10,000 calories behind.

The front of the new incarnation of Temperance's sweater is about half an inch from the neck shaping. I plan on leaving in about 45 minutes and taking the freeway to avoid any downed trees or misfiring traffic lights. As it's Columbus Day, traffic should be minimal. Ergo, plenty of time for knitting progress once I reach the office.

Tonight it's "Keyboard Conversations" and Mozart's variations on Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. Cannot wait!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Glad to know I've not been recalled.

"This email is to notify you that an important patient recall/reminder message has been sent to your account at (notification provider). Please login at your earliest convenience to review this information."

I wasn't sure what to think. I've been reasonably lively today and thought I was healthier than I have felt in weeks. I hoped it wasn't a case of their knowing something that I didn't know.

Turns out that they just wanted me to schedule next year's well woman exam. Which I did. Glad to know that my warranty did not expire when I wasn't looking.

I am going to see "Meet the Mormons" tonight. Picking up one of the sisters in my ward and going to mingle with the fellow travelers. It's supposed to be a good film. (The church doesn't do anything boring or tacky, and this is allegedly both entertaining and edifying.) At any rate, I am in need of, and in the mood for, a little company and something other than knitting or painting to occupy my mind: i.e., culture.

Which is why I am also going to the Keyboard Conversations concert on Monday night, bypassing the evening with my beloved Empty Nesters in favor of Mozart's variations on "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star." I have loved that piece since I was a student wife at BYU. And the pianist is quite engaging; I attended his Chopin presentation last year and thoroughly enjoyed it.

The sweater I made for Temperance was too tight in the shoulders, a result of my following Alice Starmore's instructions to decrease my cable stitches (two into one, four into two, etc.) just before binding off, in order to prevent the cables from flattening and splaying out. This sweater was more heavily cabled than the first two, resulting in greater compression where I joined it to the sweater body. It fits Hope just fine, but it isn't her turn, so it's gone into a baggie with detailed notes until I am ready to take apart the side seams, shorten the sleeves by the depth of one full "fish" repeat, and put it back together.

In the meantime I have commandeered the start of what I thought was going to be a sweater for Steadfast, which is far less heavily cabled, and Temperance is likely to end up with the little-girl equivalent of the boyfriend sweater.

I am picking up Fourthborn tomorrow, and we will paint paint paint until it is time to head over to Dolloween. I have been stuck in terms of painting for the past two or three weeks, and having her assistance may mean that we finish the @#$%&*! trim in the hall, once and for all.

Because I am so ready to be done in the hall and move on to the living room. And I am jonesing to decorate for Christmas but have settled for displaying one small fall-themed item in a bookcase in the living room.

Friday, October 03, 2014

Good morning!

Not much going on chez Ravelled. Attached the first sleeve to Temperance's sweater yesterday and got started on the second sleeve. Paid bills for the upcoming two weeks. Shredded a small batch of receipts.

Big weird storm moved through the area yesterday afternoon. Straight line winds of 60-80mph. Arlington, where I used to live, got trashed. There is a building in the FW Stockyards that is a pile of bricks spilling out into the parking lot. I really hope it was not the Star Cafe, which serves the best chicken fried steak I've ever eaten. (I go back every couple of years just to make sure.)

Lots of trees broken or down. Lots of traffic lights out. Because I decided I was smarter than Waze and ignored its attempts to shunt me onto the freeway, it took me two hours to get home last night.

Here at the house, all appears to be well. A number of my friends were without power last night.

Really looking forward to General Conference this weekend and quilt club sandwiched in between sessions and quantity time with Fourthborn and dropping off birthday presents for Lark and Willow.

This is the part where I figure out breakfast and what I'm going to wear. Lunch will be leftover Subway, because I had to dash into one (that had power) last night for a much needed comfort break. A bladder with no sense of humor is not the best companion for a two hour drive home!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Ms. Ravelled buys a bed.

I thought maybe I'd mentioned it here, but I can't find it. Maybe it was over on FB. Or maybe I put it in a letter to someone recently.

Anyway. On my way home from the doctor's office last week I stopped at the estate sale consignment store where I bought the plant stand that's in the alcove in the dining room. And there was this bed.

It is massive. Probably oak. A light but warm finish. Headboard has a deep ogee curve at the top (like an old secretary or armoire). It and the footboard are fashioned to look as if they were made of plantation blinds or shutters. There are four heavily carved bedposts, not tall as a four-poster but nevertheless impressive. This bed is solid as the Rock of Gibraltar. (Please don't tell me that that icon has been carted away and dry docked next to the Queen Mary.) One could found dynasties in this bed if one were not postmenopausal and if one's DNA coprovider of choice were not post-mortal.

Ahem.

When I saw the bed last week, it was priced well out of my comfort zone. I called today, to ask if they could let me know if or when the price dropped. She said it was marked down as low as it would be. I said that it was a gorgeous bed and that I could not afford to pay X. She said, "Oh, didn't you know? It's marked down to Y."

Y was 10% lower than the top of my comfort zone! The kids will help me get it home on Saturday, and it will live in the garage until I'm ready to repaint my bedroom, somewhat earlier than I'd originally planned.

In painting news, there is progress on the trim around the doors, and I am hopeful that I may get it done before I crash on Sunday night. Once the halls are done, there's really very little fiddly stuff left until I have to repaint or replace the kitchen cabinets. Just acres and acres of flat surfaces.

Seven doorways in these two halls. Really?

Time, I think, for a smidgen of knitting and then lights out.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Priorities.

I testify that when help is prayerfully and sincerely sought, our Heavenly Father will help us to give emphasis to that which deserves our time above something else. - Ian S. Ardern, A Time to Prepare, General Conference, Oct 2011

The front of Temperance's sweater is done. I do not have enough brain cells to rub together to design the back, before bedtime. Last night I finished the trim on the door to the middle bedroom. Tonight I ran a few errands and got another coat on the trim for the bathroom door. In theory I could put on another coat before bedtime, but it's a quarter to eleven, and all I want is to be horizontal and unconscious.

Lest you think I am bummed, after work I brought home four new drapery panels and another teal backless chair for the dining room. More on that later, maybe, but definitely not tonight.

Prayers tonight are likely to be of the "Lord, bless Heber; he is so very tired" variety.

The right place, the right time.

The Savior... gave us a great example about not waiting to administer relief to those who have lost a sense of happiness and joy. - Jose L. Alonso, Doing the Right Thing at the Right Time, without Delay, General Conference, Oct 2011

Last night's General Women's Conference was another great example of this. I'm in pretty good shape emotionally. And very grateful for that. President Uchtdorf's talk lovingly illustrated the difference between visiting teaching as a box to be checked off each month, and as Christlike, loving service.

I have a writing route, because coordinating with a companion and making actual visits would be just One More Thing at the moment. By the time I come home from work I am pretty much peopled out. But I can take an hour or two and write letters to send out with copies of the RS newsletter and the VT message from the Ensign, and I can remember birthdays and Valentines Day and send Christmas cards.

I hope when they get my letters they feel Heaven's love for them. These are hard times for many. In the broadcast last night, a woman who lost six of her children in the earthquake in Haiti when her neighbor's house fell on them as they played, bore testimony of God's love for her and the comfort she takes in knowing she will see and have her children again.

Puts my own small struggles in a proper perspective. And makes me all the more grateful for the life I have. Part of the impetus to focus on setting my house in order is so I may have the time, money, and energy to serve my family and others with greater effectiveness.

And the house is a little more chaotic than when I woke up yesterday. There was no room for the new bed in the garage, so it's leaning against a wall in the dining room. When we were there to pick it up, I found a wing chair that wanted to come home as well. It is solid enough for the largest member of the Beloved family, expertly upholstered in a fabric that doesn't make me cringe, was reasonably priced, and I got another 25% off that!

Here I am, trying to curate and simplify, and Heaven is telling me to incorporate more beauty into my life. Affordably. This comes under the heading of blessings so abundant that there is not room to contain them.

In knitting news, the second back is attached to Temperance's sweater. Today I will figure out the sleeve design and get to work on that. And maybe I will also finish the dresses for the twins.

But first there is breakfast. Have a blessed Sabbath, y'all.

If you don't know where you want to go...

In our day many people are living in the midst of sadness and great confusion. They are not finding answers to their questions and are unable to meet their needs. Some have lost a sense of happiness and joy. The prophets have declared that true happiness is found in following the example and teachings of Christ. He is our Savior, He is our teacher, and He is the perfect example. - Jose L. Alonso, Doing the Right Thing at the Right Time, without Delay, General Conference, Oct 2011

Can I get an "amen"? I am so thankful for last weekend's General Conference sessions. I am glad that I wanted to go sit and listen for four, two-hour broadcasts. I am looking forward to the November issue of the Ensign, which will have all five sessions (there is one just for the priesthood brethren; the children's father used to call it the "stop being idiots" session) and the Women's Broadcast from the preceding Saturday, all printed out for study and review.

Last week was weird. A short week of exceedingly long days. I spent chunks of it looking for things to do and ways to help. Mostly, I succeeded. This coming week, I will be doing some training-of-others on two projects, which will be both fun and interesting. I'm part of a two-person team for one project and driver of a four-person committee on the other.

The Culture Fairy has put her oar in the water. I'm going to a concert tomorrow night. A bluegrass festival on Friday night.  The opera with Firstborn a week from Friday. All that has been largely set aside while I work on the house.

So I'm glad that Fourthborn and I made some noticeable progress on the painting yesterday. Two of the doors in the hallway are done. Two more are nearly done. I'm hoping that next weekend we can finish that, plus the ceiling, and lay in the flooring. Tuesday is ward temple night; I will only have Wednesday and Thursday (theoretically) available for painting.

I did get Lark's birthday present finished after work on Friday. And her card and Willow's begun. The butler's tray table is piled high with gifts, which makes me happy. Soon to be joined with more, because I was successful yesterday in finding birthday and Christmas gifts for my sister.

I love wrapping presents. I love making presents. One of the things I have enjoyed most about this year (and the "new normal") is that I've been able to make several of the birthday gifts.

Part of me wants to sit here and write all morning. But I have cards to finish and lessons to study, and I have no idea what to wear to church, and I need to write the notes for my visiting teaching route.

Have a blessed and peaceful Sabbath.

Reading the instruction manual.

The most important way to teach is to be the kind of parents to our children that our Father in Heaven is to us. He is the one perfect parent, and He has shared with us His parenting manual-the scriptures. - Lynn G. Robbins, What Manner of Men and Women Ought Ye to Be?, General Conference, Apr 2011

So, General Conference is over for another six months. My spirit is fed. My body was exhausted until I came home and took a nap. The music was superb. Much of the counsel seemed just for me, and only some of it made me squirm.

Two most memorable phrases? One I didn't have to write down: Stay in the boat (a parable about river rafting). And one I did: The process of gathering light is the quest of a lifetime. (Elder Uchtdorf)

In mundane news, I made a killer pot of soup. There are five pint jars of leftovers in the fridge. And I finished the second sleeve to Temperance's sweater and attached it to the body. It's ready to be blocked, and I've cast on for the front of Steadfast's.

I've tried to eat sensibly all weekend and have pretty much succeeded. Enjoyed my first shawerma yesterday. Will go back for more. If I were not out of Greek yogurt, I would be having some with Nutella and finely chopped pecans and berries (which I'm also out of). I want something sweet but not stupid.

It's officially not-the-Sabbath. I started a load of laundry and will go back to bed once the shirts are hung up and the socks are in the dryer.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

He's quoting my mom.

The single most important principle that should govern every home is to practice the Golden Rule - the Lord's admonition that "all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them" (Matthew 7:12). - M. Russell Ballard, Finding Joy through Loving Service, General Conference, Apr 2011

I heard that a lot, growing up. My parents, though not outwardly religious, were two of the best Christians I know. Mom said the Golden Rule would get you through pretty much any situation in life. I have to agree.

Work has been going well. I haven't had that much to do for SemperFi, so I've been helping the other legal secretaries with one thing or another. Just when I think I have run myself out of work, something else pops up.

Paint did not happen last weekend. At all. But Firstborn and 1BDH helped me get the new bed home, along with a wing chair, and I had a spiritual feast at the General Women's Broadcast on Saturday night. Sunday was restful. A sleep wrecking nap and lots of knitting.

I got blindsided at fast and testimony meeting when the father of one of our young husbands stood and bore his testimony. He is recently diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and a short time frame. They are traveling around the country to see the kids and the grandkids before he goes Home. And I just sat there in the choir seat with leaky eyes and barely got through conducting the closing song.

"I Am a Child of God" does not typically make me cry. I warned them when they called me as sacrament meeting chorister that music affects me deeply, and that I never know if or when I will get hit by a wave of grief. They said that's fine.

I'm holding them to it.

In knitting news, I am nearly done with the first sleeve on Temperance's sweater. She will go to work with me today, because I'm leaving early for my four month dental cleaning, then picking up Fourthborn for Cheesecake Factory. Having Temperance along will make it easier to fine-tune the length of the sleeve. And if Fourthborn brings MoMo, they can have a dolly tea party while the humans are feasting and laughing.

I miss Knit Night. I'm more rested on Wednesday morning, but I miss Knit Night.

Retrenchment

Therefore, it is good advice to slow down a little, steady the course, and focus on the essentials when experiencing adverse conditions. - President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Of Things That Matter Most, General Conference, Oct 2010

I can't complain of any adverse conditions chez Ravelled at the moment. I have enough to eat. A closet full of clothing that I like, that still fits reasonably well. A year's supply of yarn. Or more.  Nevertheless, I am intentionally slowing it down a bit. On the one hand, finish-itis is starting to kick in, in terms of the hall. I did a little more painting tonight. A second coat on the grilles. The strip that will show between them when that wall is finished. Two coats on the door to my studio. If I had Hermione's time turner, I would stay up all night and paint the trim on the doors. But I don't. So I won't. As Tevye said, "There is no other hand." At least not tonight. I am going to focus on getting a decent night's sleep. Maybe I will wake just enough ahead of the alarm that I can put a third coat of paint on the door before hitting the gym.

Salt of the earth

God knows that some of the greatest souls who have ever lived are those who will never appear in the chronicles of history. They are the blessed, humble souls who emulate the Savior's example and spend the days of their lives doing good. - Dieter F. Uchtdorf, You Matter to Him, General Conference, Oct 2011

People like my dad. My mom. My dear, feisty Beloved. Any number of my friends. People who didn't, or don't, think of themselves as anything but ordinary.

That's the kind of person I want to be when I grow up. I am wonderfully blessed.  I am intermittently humble (i.e., teachable). I can only hope, like J. Golden Kimball, that I "repent too damn fast" to go to hell.

This is not false modesty. Nor is it an attack of self-loathing. It is merely an acknowledgement of human frailty. Like every person but One who has lived on this beautiful earth, I sin and fall short on a regular basis. I have gotten a little better at learning from my mistakes. And I take ever greater joy in doing right (and in insisting less on *being* right).

We made some progress here yesterday. Fourthborn got Steadfast's faceup mostly done, ahead of the humidity. She also got the first coat of paint on the grilles. I got one side and both edges of the bathroom door painted. She cleaned the door to my studio. Those doorknobs are bagged and set aside.

Memo to self: time to invest in another box of Magic Erasers.

Wes came and used a different claw than the one I'd borrowed to get rid of the rest of the nails in the hall. He also analyzed the arrangement of the grilles and the baseboard. I won't have to buy new grilles. (Hence the painting.) Once the flooring is down, I can attach the new, taller baseboard, move the grilles up about an inch, and install fresh molding above them to cover where the sill sticks out. (He forgot to bring his oscillating saw to cut that off.)

And while we were doing inside stuff, his eldest was out in my backyard picking up horse apples (the bright green fruit of the bois d'arc tree) and chunking them into my trash bin.

I need to hit Costco after work tomorrow. But after that I should be able to do the last bit of painting where the grilles were (mostly in between them) and get another coat or two on the grilles themselves. And maybe even paint the studio door, if I don't run out of paint. That would give me Tuesday through Thursday to paint the trim around four or five doors. Then Friday and Saturday I could paint the ceiling and install the flooring.

I don't want to replace the door handles until the doors are painted, front and back. I know what I want to try on the inside of the door to the loo, and it will have to wait until I buy the paint for the living room. I have no idea what I want for the insides of the other doors. Or for the vanity in the loo.

In knitting news, I will probably finish the left back section of Temperance's sweater sometime today.

In sewing news, all the fabric is preshrunk to make Halloween dresses for all the dolls. I may very well get started on those today, if I have the right thread colors. I ordered a pattern for Steadfast on Friday. There will be enough fabric to make him a shirt, as well.

The October issue of the Ensign arrived yesterday. Time to curl up with a snack and improve the shining moment.