About Me

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Four 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!

Sunday, December 31, 2006

Mutterings

The appearance of evil, and vice versa:

I've been catching up on my reading this weekend, particularly in the 6 Weird Things meme. One of my blogfriends wrote about getting picked on as a kid because of a physical characteristic. And I responded in part:

"Body image is one of those good thing / bad things we seem to be stuck with while here in mortality. The young can be so cruel. And far too many people don't get less cruel as they get older, just more subtle about it.

"This impulse to compare ourselves with others does not come from the One who loves us best. And I wrestle with it [in both directions] as much as anyone else.

"Why is it so hard for us to remember in Whose image we are fashioned, and treat ourselves and others accordingly?"

One of my gripes about online dating is that the profiles give far too much emphasis on physical appearance and far too little on character. Including the screening for the service I use, which I laughingly refer to as the Churchboy Dating Service. On the other hand, it's useful to rule out the most superficial of men, those who want somebody who looks good [from their limited perspective] and not one who *is* good, or is trying hard to be. When I see "slender" in their requirements, I hit "delete" in a Noo Yawk minute. And it's not just the Senior Adonises who want arm candy, it's often the Couch Potatoes as well. And women are just as hung up on the things of the world, only we tend to focus on height and net worth rather than spiritual stature and individual worth.

There are exceptions, of course. My friends Brother Sushi, Brother Karitas, and Brother Stilts. And Brother Abacus is in a class by himself. And my girlfriends who date men that the Material Girls walk right by [and don't know what they're missing out on].

End of that particular rant.

Stuff I am thankful for:

“Happy Feet”. I took myself to the movies last night, and the music was great, and Mumble is my hero. I came home by way of the grocery store [we were out of milk and pesto, imagine!] and the video store [“Intolerable Cruelty” and “Miss Congeniality 2”, neither of them quite what the doctor ordered but I got a lot of knitting done on the Prodigal Sock’s mate.] I went to bed way too late and will no doubt nod off during church. Do you think they’d notice if I smuggled a Cherry Coke into sacrament meeting?

Friends and family. I am thankful for a Christmas dinner with no drama. I am also thankful to get along sufficiently well with the father of my children that a tribal dinner does not require Valium on my part or a stomach pump on his. Some families aren’t so blessed.

I am particularly thankful for Brother Sushi and his GPS [Guy-think Parsing System], because while I am fluent in Girl-think with an PhD in Feelings and am also reasonably conversant in Logic, I either never got or have somewhere mislaid my secret agent decoder ring when it comes to the male half of the species. He is especially adept at letting me know when not to take something personally and when it might be more appropriate to yell and scream and throw crockery. And his driving does not make me crazy[ier], an important detail since he has been the chauffeur of choice while I am babying my knee.

Speaking of yelling and screaming and throwing crockery, if you know who started the rumor in my local church area that I am engaged, feel free to kneecap his/her vocal chords. Yes, I married the children’s father six weeks after we were introduced. And we see how well that turned out. Five lovely daughters, and enough heartache for several lifetimes.

Remarriage is one of those items on my list that is important but not urgent. Brother Abacus and I are still in the early stages of getting to know one another. He gets full points for being able to dance, and for singing on-key. He is smart and funny and kind, all of which are must-haves. I like him; he likes me [let’s shoot Barney from a tree, with a great big shot from a loaded 44, no more purple dinosaur. Sorry; wrong song.]

And in the meantime he has tax season to get through, and I have eight weeks of intensive faith-based counseling. And when he emerges from the pencil shavings and I finish this course, I may look at him and say “still no red flags, *and* he’s not Brother Right”.

I have spent a significant portion of my life trying to make other people happy and denying significant portions of who I am meant to be, in that process. If I marry again in this life, it will be because the man pleases *me*, and because the Spirit has given me an unmistakable witness that the marriage would please God. He will have to be an extraordinary man for me to give up my freedom, independence and relative safety for interdependence, intermittent aggravation and the pleasures of the marriage bed.

Dancing on Friday night. Not much of it, but some. I pulled my drugstore elastic knee brace on over my stockings and was able to boogie without tearing up my knee again. I did feel a couple of creaks and twinges while line dancing, but I have great hopes of returning to cha-cha duty sometime before getting my resurrected body. While I didn’t have anywhere near as much fun as I usually do, I was never quite bored enough to face the drizzle and retrieve my knitting from the car. There were a couple of pity dances, and I was sufficiently medicated not to spit in their eyes, LOL.

MRI of said knee is Wednesday morning. And the regular Friday night dance is next weekend, and I’m hoping it’s better on all counts.

Tonight I’ll go to the singles’ Family Home Evening that Brother Abacus has fired up, and when I get home I’ll write down my end-of-year mileage for my cosmetics business, which I am closing out. And tomorrow morning I’ll meet my son-in-law at his office, and he’ll install my new brake pads. And then maybe I’ll finish sanding the Forever Table.

Coda:

Happy New Year, everybody. May you enjoy peace, a modicum of prosperity, good health, relative sanity, and all the dark chocolate you can afford. And may all the surprises be good ones!

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas to my Sisters of the Wool

Pictures of LittleBit's fingerless gloves had to wait until Christmas dinner at Secondborn's. I had hoped to get over there Friday but no such luck.




Here's a rough version of the pattern:

With Baby Cashmerino and size 1 needles, cast on 54 stitches using long-tail cast-on over 2 needles held together. Divide onto 3 needles and work K2P1 ribbing for 16 rounds.

The fun part:
Round 1: Purl.
Rounds 2-4: Resume the ribbing.

Eight chunks of pattern [32 rounds total] took me to the thumb. I knitted in a scrap of yarn over the first 8 stitches, put them back on the left needle à la "Fetching", worked them in K2P1K2P1K2, then purled the rest of the round. Four chunks of pattern above that point, ending in a P round. Then eight rounds of ribbing and bind off.

Pick up 8 stitches at the base of the thumb, 8 at what will be the top, remove the scrap yarn and make sure you pick up a stitch on either side of this "buttonhole". You should have 18 stitches; divide onto three needles for sanity's sake, work 6 rounds and bind off. To double-check the length of the thumb, I had 10 rounds above that last purl bump just under the thumb gusset.

Thumb detail, now that the tinsel and wrapping paper have settled.

*Perfection*

It's dark-thirty in the Lone Star State, and I have just finished sipping a mug of [virgin] eggnog and opening my presents. A gift certificate to the LYS from my office manager, an amazing beaded evening bag from my sister, and a huge red art glass bowl from Brother Sushi. LittleBit and friends cut a CD for me which has yet to make it into my hot little hands. We did not go nuts buying presents within the family this year; we didn't even do the gift exchange because a number of us are facing major financial challenges. Ironically, my kids who traditionally have been poorer than Job's turkey are the ones who are solvent, which makes this mama grin for them!

I brought home a nice assortment of leftovers from the Family Home Evening activity last night: a bit of turkey, a bit more brisket and barbecue sauce, the last slice of Brother Sushi's white chocolate macadamia nut pie [which I am saving for LittleBit, at great personal sacrifice], some fruit salad in a ziploc bag, and some truly inspired green bean casserole. We didn't have a huge turnout because it was raining cats and dogs and little fishes. Maybe a dozen people? Nevertheless, the fire was warm and the company merry. We sang carols and took turns reading the Christmas story from Luke 2 and sharing Christmas memories and traditions.

My brownies turned out well, though we were so stuffed with everything else that we barely made a dent in them. I'll take them back to the party on Wednesday; these are fudge brownies and will still be fun to eat, if LittleBit and I haven't devoured them before then. The potatoes? Not so much. I put them into the crock pot and put it on "low" when I went to church, entirely forgetting that if I wanted them to be done when I came home, I should have put it on "high". Lovely, salty white boulders, not even softened enough to be considered al dente, LOL. I dumped them into my big pot and cranked up the heat, and I even scooped out smaller portions to nuke in the microwave, but it was not to be. Finally, I dumped the whole mess back into the crock pot and poured the melted butter and the warmed half-and-half over it and put the lid back on and left to pick up Brother Sushi.

Anybody want to come over for a big bowl of mashed potatoes for breakfast? The butter and cream have caramelized during the night, and the kitchen smells *wonderful*. I'm about ready to toddle out into the kitchen for a slice of pumpkin pie.

Merry Christmas, all y'all!

Postscript: no parting hug from Brother Abacus, as I had my hands full of assorted bags; but *he* kissed me goodnight. In front of the wingman. Je suis content. [Because some of you are fiends for "details", LOL.]

Saturday, December 23, 2006

A Good Night's Sleep and Other Ramblings

Something more precious than rubies around here. When the girls were young and I was chronically exhausted [there was one stretch where I was pregnant, or nursing, or both, for four and a half years], I needed seven or eight hours to feel fully human. I rarely got them. And therefore, I rarely felt like a person who was -- theoretically at least -- at the top of the food chain.

When I went back to school eleven years ago to get my associates' degree in interpreting for the deaf, the pace was such that I knew that I needed to get fit in a hurry and also to thrive on less sleep. I made both a matter of prayer as well as action. I really miss mall-walking. I would frequently meet up with one or both of my two best friends, and we would solve the problems of the world as we circled round and round and round. I miss the chick time, and I miss the action, and I miss that feeling of being in control of my world for one to two hours every day.

I do not miss the mall. Our best one is a far scarier place than it was a decade ago, and I avoid it whenever possible. The other two do not even bear contemplating. Though a friend tells me that one has the best bead store she's seen, better than the one I love in Fort Worth, so after the Christmas madness has settled down I think I'll take a field trip with her and see for myself. [She worked as an air traffic controller for years, so there's not a whole lot that scares her, LOL.]

I am up before the birds this morning, because I went to bed with the chickens last night. I think I was in bed by 9:00, though I'd have to check the timestamp on last night's post to be sure. [8:30, it says; fancy that!] And I woke at 3:30 this morning and have already put in five or six rounds on the re-starting of Prodigal the Second. If LittleBit were not blissfully snoozing on the other side of the hall, I would pop in a church video and knit some more.

Six and a half hours of sleep, compared to my usual five, is something to get down on my knees and be grateful for. [But then there's the challenge of getting back up again. Though my sore knee is much improved, and I think I can risk a couple of slow dances next Friday night at the New Year's Eve Eve Eve dance if I take my elastic knee brace and borrow one of Brother Sushi's heavy-duty, lock-and-load postsurgery braces should the drugstore one prove insufficient.]

So what's on the agenda today, after the rest of the world is awake?

(1) Grocery shopping. LittleBit and I are both out of milk. And I need to pick up taters and cream and butter and horseradish for the crockpotful of revved-up mashed potatoes that I'm taking to the potluck at Brother Abacus' house tomorrow night. He's roasting a turkey and providing brisket. The rest of us are bringing side dishes. I might also bring some of my killer brownies. And if there are any leftovers of either, I can take them to Christmas dinner at Secondborn's on Monday, or I can keep them for my lunches next week at work. I also need to pick up the ingredients for the raspberry cake that LittleBit wants for her birthday on Tuesday, recipe courtesy of adopted daughter FloridaGirl. We loved it last year.

(2) Lining Brother Sushi's tie and finding a suitable container for it, once it's been photographed for the blog. Weaving in the ends on LittleBit's fingerless gloves.

(3) Wrapping Brother Abacus' gift, which will make the trip to FW in the trunk [with Earl]. We have been dating such a short time that I don't know if a gift is in order, but I am prepared and will be happy, either way.

(4) Getting together with Firstborn's hubby, if his schedule is still clear, so he can do the brakes on Lorelai [adding the ingredients for a pan of lasagna to the grocery list; a son-in-law who is happy to be paid in food is vastly preferable to a mechanic who insists on $200 of hard-earned cash].

(5) Trekking to FW to have Secondborn take photos for the blog, and to pat her tummy and say "hello in there", and to play with BittyBit awhile. [Hard to believe that little monkey turns two, three days after LittleBit turns 17!]

Friday, December 22, 2006

Prodigal Sock's Slightly More Prodigal Mate

I cast on the mate to the Prodigal Sock this morning, after pinning out Brother Sushi's tie and polishing off the thumb on LittleBit's second fingerless glove.

I cast it on twice. The first time, my long tail wasn't *quite* long enough. The second time, I had a few distractions but managed to get seven rounds completed before the end of my lunch hour.

This evening, I was sitting in the cafe at the bookstore, waiting for LittleBit and her BF and Fourthborn to finish their last-minute shopping at the mall. I was just finishing round 16 when I realized something was a little funny.

21 stitches on needle 1? check! 21 stitches on needle 2? check! 21 stitches on needle 3? "Harlot, we have a problem!" Somehow I only managed to cast on 18 stitches and not notice it for 16 rounds.

Must be the dearth of kissing. Which is not likely to be remedied this weekend. I am thinking that the holidays are just about the worst possible time for two exceedingly busy people to start dating one another. I'll see Brother Abacus on Sunday night at a church meeting at his house, and I have volunteered to serve as chauffeuse to Brother Sushi, my ever-faithful wingman. And I am thinking that at the end of the evening I will give my guy a gracious smile and a gentle hug and a discreet peck on the cheek like the ones he gave me at church *last* Sunday night.

And it can be his turn to miss me, until he clears his schedule sufficiently to pick up the phone.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Tag, I'm it! And so are you!

“THE RULES: Each player of this game starts with the ‘6 weird things about you.’ People who get tagged need to write a blog of their own 6 weird things as well as state this rule clearly. In the end, you need to choose 6 people to be tagged and list their names. Don’t forget to leave a comment that says ‘you are tagged’ in their comments and tell them to read your blog.”

Six weird things about me:

1. I have been engaged 6.5 times, married twice, and am the bemused owner of perhaps the world’s best radar gun for picking men who are unavailable: temporarily or otherwise. [Yes, I’m back in the convent again. Wait, maybe I'm not. After a week of silence, which I sortof expected but didn't particularly enjoy, we had a good if brief chat this morning as I finished getting ready for church and the girls tapped their feet and pointed at their left wrists.]

2. Five daughters; they would probably take exception to being called “weird”, but apples don’t fall far from their tree. Also three granddaughters and a whozit, sex yet to be determined. The only sons are the wonderful men who have married my daughters.

3. For three years after divorcing the girls’ father, I slept on a Victorian fainting couch as visible evidence that I took [and still take] old-fashioned morality quite seriously, for myself as well as for them. We call it the Chastity Bed, and it now occupies the space beneath the dining room window, along with a pillow adapted from a Kaffe Fassett design, the face of a medieval woman, fondly referred to as “the nun I am living like”. The fact that I now have a queen size bed with a feather mattress atop it and lots of pillows and a down comfortor, which we sometimes call the Muffin Bed, should not be construed to mean that my views on What Is Right and Proper have changed. This makes me very weird in modern circles. I don’t mind at all.

4. I have craters, one per thigh and one per arm, from smallpox vaccinations that failed when I was a kid. My high school boyfriend used to call me “Crater Leg” [like Crater Lake, in Oregon]; time and avoirdupois have made them less visible.

5. I was extremely shy as a child, so shy that if you asked me what time it was, I would blush. I can now speak to 200+ people or more [yay for a lay ministry and 30 years of giving talks in church!], sing a capella to them if I take off my glasses so I can’t actually *see* them, and I participated in the Taos Poetry Circus in June 1998. And at church today, I signed all three verses of "Silent Night" while the choir and congregation sang, and I didn't start weeping from joy until halfway through the benediction.

6. I used to love talking on the phone when I was a married, stay-at-home mom. It was my lifeline to the outside world. Now that I am a receptionist at a law firm, I’d prefer not to talk on the phone unless I’m talking to somebody who might be Brother Right. For some incomprehensible reason, I don’t mind that at all. Otherwise, just shoot me an email. Interesting that the brief, lovely flurry with Brother Abacus was [is apparently still being] conducted the old-fashioned way: by phone and in person, though I did learn to text-message.

I'm tagging Jeri, Jo, Wanda, Elizabeth, Taya, and MsKnitingale. And I'm very proud because I *finally* figured out how to do the link-by-name thing.

Monday, December 11, 2006

The Prodigal Sock

Hi, honeys, I'm home! Have been offline for about ten days. And will not be online much until after Christmas, but here are some updates:

Went to the dance on Friday the 1st. Had my knee X-rayed earlier that day and was advised to do nothing that irritated it. MRI is scheduled for the 3rd of January. So, no dancing. A shame, really, because Brother Sushi and I walked into the gym, and it was raining men that night!

Brother Yummy's sweetie drove the extra mile and retrieved my knitting bag from another meetinghouse. So here are pictures of the Prodigal Sock:



The pattern is from "Knitting Vintage Socks", and it was pure joy, even with all the frogging during flirtfests with Brother Abacus.



Other sock won't be started until I'm done with Brother Sushi's "surprise" necktie.

Still dating Brother Abacus; six dates at last count. I broke down and added text messaging to my cell phone, and to LittleBit's. Our fellows are [respectively] the king and prince of text messaging, LOL.

Hard to believe that Brother Abacus called me for the first time, one month ago tomorrow. I am still besotted, if somewhat less giddy than in recent weeks.