About Me

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Two years 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!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Finial's Rainbow

My eBay package came today. I bought two handpainted vintage finials. The other is a screaming turquoise. I'm not sure where it will end up. But you won't be able to miss it!

This one replaces the amputee bear, one of two that I found at Wally World a decade and a half ago. The other bear, and its lamp, went to live with somebody else when I lived in Fort Worth.

I've been catching up the laundry tonight. And while that's been going on, I've also begun scanning documents. When I post this, I'm grabbing a bag and heading straight for the shredder. Once that's done I'll do family history research while the last load dries.

Ms. Ravelled 1, Entropy 0

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Quotes and memories and ruminations

“But whatever the era, whatever the times, one thing will never change: Fathers and mothers, if you have children, they must come first. You must read to your children and you must hug your children and you must love your children. Your success as a family, our success as a society, depends not on what happens in the White House but on what happens inside your house” (Barbara Bush, as quoted in the Washington Post, 2 June 1990, 2).

Elder James E. Faust quoted her in a lesson in the Marriage and Family Relations manual (Lesson 12)

I read aloud to Firstborn when I was nursing her, in our tiny basement apartment in Provo. I read aloud to all our children, and they have all become readers, although it came more easily to some than to others.

One of my best memories is of walking out into the living room to find a seven year old Secondborn sitting in the rocking chair with Middlest (4) on one knee and Fourthborn (2) on the other, reading to them from the Book of Mormon. Flawlessly. She never stumbled over the and it came to pass-es or the inasmuchas-es or the behooveth-s. BittyBubba (her older son) was reading the Book of Mormon on his own when he was four.

Another good memory is of six year old Middlest and four year old Fourthborn walking down the street hollering the Primary song, I Belong to the Church of Jesus Christ at the top of their lungs. Oh how I wish they felt to sing so now.

Mothering adults is a whole 'nuther animal from mothering babies or toddlers or teenagers. I love my kids, and I am almost unreservedly proud of them. They are amazing people. Smart, decent, generally kind, forgiving to one degree or another, and frequently hilarious. I don't spend as much time with them as I would like, or probably should. More than one has expressed the wish that I lived closer.

But I like this house which I have inherited from Beloved. I'm into the third year of (what I hope is only) my five year plan to declutter, repaint, reorganize, rehome, rinse and repeat. Fourthborn and I made progress (minimal progress, but still progress) on projects this weekend. I want to get a whale of a lot more done next weekend, when I'll have Memorial Day off. The big kitchen window is approaching completion, and the Wall Words are applied to the double doors housing the water heater and furnace. I am so pleased with what we got done. But the humidity prevented our doing much of anything else. (Can't spray paint the inside of the vent grille for the kitchen ceiling because the paint won't dry properly when it's this muggy.)

Frankly, I do not want to move again. My hope is to stay in this house until they carry me out feet first in about 40 years. I just want to live here in peace and quiet, with an easy commute to and from work down streets of old residential neighborhoods. I want to gradually get rid of everything I do not absolutely need, so that cleaning is quick and easy, and I can spend the rest of my time creating or working on family history or otherwise serving.

When I went to the temple last week, I took a concern with me, to pray over. I got no specific answer, but I did come home feeling peaceful, and I felt confident that when the time was right, the answer would be given to me. There may be more to it, but I got a big answer in Relief Society today, in the comments of two sisters.

Moved. Me. To. Tears.

Fourthborn had an excellent suggestion yesterday. I had months ago expressed the desire to muck out the garage after the weather had warmed up but before it became too hot to drag everything out and go through it. She thought that next weekend might be ideal, as we would have two working days and a day of rest in between. I could see the logic in her suggestion and gave her a reluctant yes. After sleeping on it, I told her I did not want to proceed at this time. I want to finish the kitchen this year and get the last of the building materials out of the dining room and living room. I want to redo my bedroom. We have several sub-projects that are almost done. I want them done done. And if my bedroom goes more quickly than some of the other rooms have gone, we might be ready to start on the garage when things start cooling off in November or December. Or January. Or February.

This is Texas. The window between ice storms and heat prostration is a narrow one, indeed.

Friday, May 15, 2015

A modicum of progress

I woke a few minutes ahead of the alarm this morning. Lay there listening to the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra play that lovely Variations on a Theme by Thomas Tallis. *Love* Ralph Vaughan Williams. Love him. I have no idea what he was like as a human being, but the hymn tunes he arranged are among my favorites. I taught myself to sing "I Saw a Mighty Angel Fly" in French. The soprano line. And now I've learned the alto line in English. I haven't tried to do a crossover, wherein I sing the French lyrics with the alto notes. Well, I tried inside my head just now, and brain went Please Don't Make Me Adult.

Where was I? Oh yes. Drowning in music and junk mail, notwithstanding the massive purge I began about a week ago. So I gathered up catalogues and envelopes and flyers, sat on the bed, and wrangled them. I tore out an article in the weekly local newspaper, with instructions on how to protest my property tax assessment, and leafed through the spring publication of the Bitties' private school, and tore out a coupon for Costco for printer cartridge refills. My recycling bin is thanking me for its breakfast.

I ran the numbers for my budget for the next two weeks, and on paper it looks impossible, but I have three secret weapons: tithing, savings, and food storage. I started working on the grocery list yesterday, and I have the quarterly coupons from Kroger. Fourthborn and I will hit Costco after work tonight. I (we) will eat simply and well. We will work on projects that require no further outlay of cash, and when we go to bed tomorrow night a few more items will be knocked off the honey-do list.

This is the part where I figure out what I am going to wear to work today, gather up my bags, and scoot.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Draft for old posts, resurrected

One of the joys of merging two computers (three, if you count my old computer whose documents were saved to a folder on this one when 2BDH and I put it together) is finding electronic scraps, notes, and oddments.  This, from the spring of 2007, when I was working on the Sabbath Socks (did I ever finish them?) and LittleBit was a junior in high school:

I’m not sure why I assume that the Insomnia Fairy is female; the sheer persistence and consistently bad timing of my own personal Insomnia Fairy suggests a middle-aged male who just bought the fairy equivalent of a Miata or a dooley because Titania’s upstairs maid told him to go sleep on the couch.

I’ve been dealing with the contents of four boxes that have lived under the dining room table for the past couple of months. [The Four Box-men of the Spring Cleaning Spasm? Somehow that doesn’t have the same ring as the original. Suggestions welcome.]

I emptied the “shred” box last week. Yesterday it was the “read” box’s turn. More stuff for the “shred” pile, but not a lot, and a bunch of expired coupons into the trash, and some catalogues that I wanted to get to, now seriously outdated and into the trash as well. A couple of things for the “file” box, and a handful of items that I still need/want to read.

Which leaves the “forward” box [half an hour, tops] and the “file” box, probably a good week’s worth of puttering that needs to wait until later this summer, when I’m in the mood to take a couple of long weekends and LittleBit will be visiting Middlest in VA. I need to purge the existing files first and dispose of dead warranties, create new hanging folders and file labels, clean off this desk, line up a series of edible and non-edible treats to reward myself for chunks of progress, etc.

If this sounds like war, it is. Me v. the Forces of Entropy. I need a certain amount of visual chaos in order to function creatively. I watched the remake of “Yours, Mine, and Ours” yesterday afternoon, and I looked at her studio and thought “Yes. Perfect.” And there are other parts of my life that I need to have tidy in order to feel competent: my dining room, because it reminds me that I am not only an artist who needs solitude in order to create but a woman who likes to cook for her friends [if not necessarily for her offspring]; my financial records, my bookcases by topic, the craft supplies for anything I’ve done in the past but am not currently doing [I have at least one skein of every color of cotton embroidery floss that DMC makes and am partway down that path for Anchor floss. I spent two or three months patiently winding floss from my old storage system (LoRan cards in an oversized three-ring-binder, more like a three-ring-circus) onto plastic bobbins with tiny pre-numbered stickers. There are seven or eight translucent white plastic boxes stacked on a bookshelf in my room, next to the cross-stitch books and flyers.]

Most people seem to be either left-brained or right-brained. I would probably be more comfortable, and certainly easier to live with, if I were one or the other, but I am not. I am both, and I never know until I wake up in the morning which hemisphere will be Officer of the Day.

We return you to the present. I'm still dealing with too much stuff in too little space, but I continue to make progress. And I'm dealing with the chaos in a space that the bank and I own, with freedom to paint the walls, bang holes in them to heart's content, rearrange furniture at 3am without worrying if it will disturb the neighbors. And I own power tools. Everywhere I look, there is evidence of love and time invested in my home. Almost every week, an item or a bag or a box leaves for its new home. Yesterday, after our dental appointments, I dropped off a needlepoint pillow at my best friend's house and got to see their renovations.

Which only encourages me to continue with my own. I'm no longer wrangling paperwork into carefully labeled file folders. I'm now (intermittently) scanning items and saving them. I have a 3TB external hard drive. The files from Beloved's computer and mine do not show as even a hint of a line on the bar graph that represents available memory. My CDs are all uploaded to iTunes. The originals are alphabetized by performer and topic and stored in bright red boxes (seven of them, and one empty) on a shelf in my studio. My cross stitch threads are patiently waiting for me to get back to them. The eight three-drawer plastic rolling carts are emptied and living at Fourthborn's, their contents organized to a fare-thee-well in clear plastic shoeboxes lining the wall in the hall. (They will eventually move onto shelves in my studio. Baby steps.) The efficiencies I've learned as my office went paperless have crept into my home, and I am grateful.

The sky just opened up, loudly and impressively, outside. No hail, but I'm pretty sure that Lorelai and the Tardis are now squeaky clean.

This is the part where, in lieu of going to the gym this morning, I draft a letter for my visiting teaching route. I printed off the handouts yesterday, and I just finished updating the mailing labels.

I'm under no illusion that I'm in control of my life or my surroundings. But I continue to make room so that Heaven can nudge me in whatever direction is needful. I call that progress.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

My computer is well and whole.

If a little bipolar. There are now two subfolders, one labeled Ms. Ravelled's Stuff, and the other labeled Beloved's Stuff. I have begun the laborious process of extracting files from his folder and saving them to mine and to the external.

I spent Friday night and much of yesterday at the Scottish Festival held at UTA in Arlington. The music was almost universally splendid. I caught the last two songs in a set by a Celtic rock band that was altogether too loud. And I did not last the day, but I managed seven hours before the fresh air and sunshine wore me out.

I drove home listening to my bagpipe station on Pandora.

I learned a lot this weekend. There is a Clan Elliot (my maiden name, only missing a T) in Texas. There is a clan commander. I hoped to meet him yesterday, but did not see a booth for us. I will attempt to contact him through the organization that put on the festival.

I also connected the dots between my love of zydeco and my love of Celtic music. I listened to the slow ballads on Friday night. Yesterday was all about the pipes and the drums.

Came home and set the alarm for an hour's nap so I would not miss my meds. Then stayed up until 1:00am wrangling my dead people. Feeling frustrated because I cannot find any more records on a woman from what I think people call a collateral line. I have her as a seven year old in the 1920 census, but she was not listed with the family in the 1930 census. I don't know if that means she had already passed, or if she had married. I can't find a marriage record. I can't find a death record. If she's alive, she'll be 107 or 108 this year. Grr.

I need to leave for church in 45 minutes or less. The sky is booming. I have not had breakfast. I need to back up a photo of Mom that I posted to Facebook, to the equivalent folder on my external. But I need a shower more.

Time to put on my Wonder Woman costume.

Monday, May 04, 2015

Quick one before I crash

It's been a good day. Doctor walked in with her laptop, beaming, because the line representing my weight continues to slant downward, albeit at a much slower rate than last year. I'm fine with that. I should get my glucose and A1C numbers in a couple of days, but I'm expecting more good news there.

After the doctor's office I headed over to Secondborn's to drop off some Corelle platters and a few name cards for the temple. She sent Bittiest upstairs to watch PBS Kids (after we played a rousing game of age-appropriate Cranium), and we talked, uninterrupted, for a blissful two hours.

From there I drove to Fourthborn's, dropped off the quilt blocks for her and Firstborn, and picked up Beloved's computer. Wolfie had looked at it and determined that it needed a power supply. I googled those and balked at spending good money to get something for a computer that I just want to liposuction the data out of and then decommission entirely.

I've started working on my closet. I may have mentioned that. The three rods are up. I moved in the tall skinny dresser yesterday after church, but it may come right back out again. While emptying the drawers I found a love note from Beloved. Entirely made my day.

This afternoon I bought six new dressy T's with 3/4 length sleeves in the next size down, which is a little loose, but I tried on the size after that and was Not Pleased. I've basically lost 1.5X's. Still, the new ones fit better than the ones I've been wearing and will do very nicely until I've lost another half a size or more.

After shopping, I placated the ancestors by spending an hour or so on ancestry.com. I just keep getting farther and farther away from the people I'm actually related to. Siblings of spouses, and parents of siblings of spouses, and their siblings, and the parents of *their* spouses, and then all of the descendants. I have a Word document to remind me of where I jumped off the family tree proper and started chasing twigs.

We had a potluck tonight at the home of the just-released RS president. I buttonholed a couple of the brethren and asked if they knew somebody who could do what I want done with Beloved's computer. They did. I waited for him to show up with his family, and then I smiled and played the widow card.

Beloved's computer and my external are making out over at the ward executive secretary's house. I'll go pick them up after work tomorrow. Then I can connect the external to my computer and start moving files as I have time.

 Speaking of time, it's time for me to take my Metformin, and I have half a dozen shirts to hang up and several small piles to consolidate so I can go to sleep. I sorted through a peck of papers this morning, most of which are out on the curb in the recycling bin.

I want a cookie.

Saturday, May 02, 2015

And sometimes I choose the simplest fix.

Not often. But sometimes. At work yesterday, when my thoughts were going free range as I sat on hold, I came to the conclusion that it was time to tackle my closet. Before I went to bed I had the wire shelf and its hardware down. And well over a dozen truly hideous holes in the wall.

What to do? When I woke from my nap this afternoon I had all sorts of ideas about color blocking and creative ways to cover the holes. I started by putting up the first closet rod. This one will hold my long skirts. Drilled the holes, popped in the plastic sheaths, drove the screws, dropped in the rod. Hung up a skirt. Perfect, or nearly so.

Held up some cork squares, en pointe. Nope. Not the look I was going for. My Norman Rockwell print, in its frame, was just that much too wide. So I grabbed the City of Nauvoo unframed map I inherited from Beloved. And six clear pushpins. Problem solved.

I am blogging from Taco Bueno. After I pick up some groceries I'll install the other two closet rods. If I knew where I've stowed my French umbrella poster, I'd put it up over the holes on the opposite end wall. But those might be adequately covered by my shirts once I've hung them up.

The holes in the middle of the closet will get covered by the mirror I got from Wes and Sarah when they moved. At which point it will probably be close to midnight, and I'll put my tools away until Monday. I'll be off for my quarterly diabetes checkup. And I'm finally ready to buy a few pieces of clothing in my new, smaller size. Not an entire wardrobe. But enough shirts for work. And maybe a couple of new skirts.

Thrift shop will be getting all sorts of goodies. I spent a significant amount of time on Thursday ironing a pearl grey linen jacket that I've worn maybe three times since I bought it when Beloved was still alive. Got a good look at myself in the mirror at work. I looked like I was playing dress-up in my mommy's clothes. Time to fix that.

Small transitional wardrobe while I work on the next 25 or so pounds. I have enough scarves and earrings to keep from dying of sartorial boredom.