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!

Monday, May 28, 2007

Bribe-sagna

The Problem: a television with a Madonna complex, in that it wants to flash its underwires.



The Solution: a quick phone call to Brother Sushi, and an offer of lasagna in exchange for his schlepping said TV out to the dumpster as either appetizer or dessert.



And since the dining room is still tidy from when we cleaned for last weekend, a photomontage to give you a feel for why I like this space so much.



I spent about three hours one Sunday morning a couple of years ago, using Brother Sushi’s laser level and some blue painter’s tape and only a modicum of childbirth words to get the Mae West quote up on the wall.

It’s rubdown type, from http://wallwords.com/ and available in many colors, matte or gloss, many fonts, your choice of their quotes or your own quote, and multiple sizes. Something for every philosophy and budget. When I am ready to move, all I have to do is goose it with my blow dryer, and all the lettering will shrivel up and die like the Wicked Witch when Dorothy splashed her.

“Love cures all things, except poverty and toothache.” ~ Mae West

If you squint really hard, you’ll see a tiny brown and yellow chicken that my sister made for me from two log cabin quilt blocks, on top of the bookcase to the right of my button collection .



The “I [heart] the single life” license plate was a gift from Brother Stilts when he moved. The eagle quilt is one that I made for my father in the early 1980’s. He served for many years in the Army. The medals are LittleBit’s, for musical excellence.

Underneath the four tall red candlesticks is a cabinet that needs new supports for the glass shelves that are carefully stacked inside, also a parting gift from Brother Stilts. It has leaned with its face against the wall since we moved in four years ago. That might be one of my next projects.



The short wall features an art quilt that I finished in 2003. I paid $5.00 for a bag containing half a yard of mystery fabric (the gaudy floral print), and I was supposed to combine it with other fabrics to make a quilt top. I didn’t finish it in time for that challenge (in 2002), but I did have it ready for the Quilter’s Guild of Dallas show in March 2003.

Virtually every flower has a hand-dyed button stitched in its center. The central motif is shards of heart exploding out of a heart outline, against the backdrop of sunset and skyscrapers. The title is “Broken Heart, Big City”, and while it looks lovely on the boring white wall of my apartment, there is insufficient contrast in values for it to have looked good in the natural lighting at the quilt show. I walked right past it! A sin like unto not recognizing your own child in the school play!

Below that is a poster of a French street scene, and below that is my Duncan Phyfe wannabe drop-leaf table, old but not antique, that I found in a consignment shop. You can’t see behind the ladder-back chair, but there is a “flower” arrangement made of buttons stacked and twisted into florist wire. I saw something like that in the Sundance Catalog years ago at a ridiculous price, and I made my own from my button stash for only the cost of the florist wire.

I'll save the photo of The Chastity Bed and the pillow I call “the nun I am living like” for another day.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Tiny Wire and Fairy Fingers

One of you [who shall be nameless] wondered where I got the tiny sock earrings. My own contribution to the Green Sock KAL. The pattern is Los Lobe Hose, and the yarn is Schaeffer's Anne, and the needles are 4” 0000's. Which qualifies, I guess, as “tiny wire”. But the fairy fingers are the same ones typing this blog post.

I think there's a picture of a finished pair, back in February or March. Too busy eating chicken fajita quesadillas to look it up for you, sorry! Or you can look them up on the GSKAL site, if you're a participant. And maybe if you're not.

I repented and took pity on y'all. Here's a photo:


I've made about a dozen pairs since the first of February. Have I made a pair for *myself*? Ummm, that would be a “no”. But yes, eventually I will. If only because I work in a law office and must keep the quirkiness at an optimal level.

How can this be? I'm out of guac!

***

Note: I started the draft for this post on the 9th, which if memory serves was a Wednesday. Didn't want y'all to think that I'd gone out to a restaurant on the Sabbath. Didn't want y'all to think that I have the patience to marinate chicken breasts and cook them and chop them and chop all the other ingredients and make my own chicken fajita quesadillas from scratch, either. I try not to make anybody have to work on my behalf, on the Sabbath. And I try just as hard not to make myself work that hard on the Sabbath. Any quesadillas that I make at home involve grated cheese or thinly sliced cheese inside a flour tortilla and nuked for 20-25 seconds, depending upon size. And at the moment we have none of the ingredients to make even the simplest version. Though I could pull a mini-bagel from the freezer and wait a few minutes and add some cream cheese and be a very happy camper, indeed, without even *bending* the Sabbath.

Excuse me a moment, would you?

We will now have a moment of silence for the quart of buttermilk that I bought earlier this month and stuck in the door of the fridge, to be eaten with a pan of cornbread that never got baked. Said quart draining most reluctantly into the kitchen sink. We will buy another quart tomorrow while buying junk food for LittleBit to take to Girls Camp. She leaves on Tuesday; I can have cornbread and buttermilk every night for dinner while she's gone. And may very well do so. There are few pleasures in life greater than a fresh pan of “scratch” cornbread with a dab of real butter on each square, and a cold glass of buttermilk or sweet milk.

***

Tola, I just have to respond to your kind words regarding yesterday's post. First, thank you! Second, thank you! Third, thank you! I think I posted less in the spirit of “look how righteous I am, I pay tithes of mint and rue” and more in the spirit of “I did something that somebody I respect asked me to do, when they asked me to do it, at minimal expense [$12.00 total for four water barrels] and without murmuring.” Considering that much of the time my inner dialogue is along the lines of “I'll be happy to do that, after You explain to me why I need to.” Well, I did murmur a little when I saw that the barrels were blue. I may have to hit the closeout bin at the upholstery fabric shop down the road and make four slipcovers, LOL. My inner Martha [both in the Biblical and the disgraced-household-diva sense] pipes up at the most inconvenient times!

It's going to cost me a whale of a lot more than $12.00 to get two bung wrenches, two siphon tubes, and two siphon tube adaptors. I bought ten cans of chili on sale yesterday, toward our year's supply, and three half-gallons of Blue Bell also on sale [mint chocolate chip, chocolate chip cookie dough, and mango of all things] If you're ever near San Antonio or Houston, make a side trip to Brenham to tour the Blue Bell factory. Their jingle proclaims them the best ice cream in the country. Several years ago the three youngest girls and I did just that during spring break. It's a great tour, and the sample at the end of the tour is mind-blowingly generous.

***

I finished my second and probably last block for Rebuilding Greensburg. Please mentally insert the “s” in my earlier references.

And here's the link that will get you close to the directions. When I put in the whole link, it messed with how the post displayed: http://specialstuff.typepad.com/ You'll want her entry of May 8, 2007.

I think I’ll go fix myself some soft-boiled eggs and toast and put in “Take the Lead”.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

This is what obedience looks like



These are the water barrels that I learned to clean at church a couple of weeks ago. And one perfectly shabby-chic corner of my coffee table, made from a door that used to hang on a henhouse, among other places. When I was cleaning and sanding the table to repaint it, I removed several thin layers of wood across the back, some of which had notations of how many eggs were gathered on a given date.

The barrels are now over by the front door that we never use, awaiting the arrival of a couple of bung wrenches and siphon tubes, one set to keep here and the other to send with LittleBit when she flies the coop in a year or two. Wouldn't do either of us any good to store a two-week emergency supply of water if we can't get to it in the event of an actual emergency.

I have been enjoying the couch recently. Ditto the fancy-schmancy TV. After work last night I attended a wedding reception for the lovely daughter of good friends at church. The video store was on the way home, and I scored four new movies from the 4 for $20 table. Since LittleBit was spending the night at a girlfriend's home to celebrate both of them surviving their junior year, I stretched out on the couch with my Rebuilding Greenburg block and two movies. One I probably won't keep [Failure to Launch] and one I probably will [In Her Shoes].

Alert the media: I stayed awake until 1:30 this morning. Me, the queen of faceplant-in-guacamole at 8:30. And I slept until nearly 7:00! I have since enjoyed a sensible breakfast of apple oatmeal, and I just polished off the leftover half of a nuked sweet potato with *real* maple syrup drizzled on it, because I was dozing off during Steve Martin's remake of Pink Panther.

I can't decide what to do next. LittleBit's hoodie is as done as I can make it until I buy some of those foam blocking boards like Wendyknit's, and that won't happen until next payday. I just realized that I was knitting when I should have been putting together the drive-by-fooding for the missionary elders. Obviously, insufficient protein consumption chez nous, and nowhere near enough sleep. So I guess the next thing is to put on a pair of shoes and head to the grocery store and take care of that small detail.

I think I'm only going to be good for two blocks for Rebuilding Greenburg. Heaven knows that I have a ton of suitable yarn in the stash, all of that stuff I bought when Brother Stilts moved to MO so he would also sell me his stash of vintage mohair. But after arm-wrestling five cabled panels into submission for the hoodie, a bushel of simple diagonally-knit garter stitch blocks does not qualify as a Real Good Time.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Getting my ducks in a row

More photos from the lake. I'm learning just the tiniest bit about how to use the zoom feature on my camera. Here are some ducks:



I'm rather pleased with how these turned out, given that the light was fading rapidly.

As promised, here's a picture of the side panels under construction. For some reason, this picture reminds me of nothing so much as Mickey Mouse as he might have been painted by Dali or Picasso. This is where I was when I left for work yesterday morning:



The beige stripes are rubber bands, which I use to keep each ball marginally under control. This is one of the least twisty yarns I've worked with in the past year and a half, KnitPicks' Telemark. I still have to drop the ball every so often and spin the kinks out, but nowhere near as often as when I did the Wilted Leaf Sweater out of Cascade 220. [Call up from your memory banks the crowd scene from Princess Bride where they jeer at Buttercup because she is marrying Prince Odious. That's how much I dislike Cascade 220.]

That's one, one little duck. Bwa ha ha ha ha!



Did I tell you about the rubber ducky key ring that I bought for LittleBit a couple of weeks ago? They have them at Bed Bath & Beyond, right at the checkout counter. There's a tiny flashlight in the open beak. And if you squish the sides in, it emits a maniacal electronic quack. I don't think she'd be happy if I went in and woke her up, just to get her key ring and photograph it for you. So you're on your own with this one.



That middle duck looks as if [s]he is searching for a missing DPN.

Here is an update on the side panels after Knit Night last night. One Mickey ear all knitted up, ending at something like 73 rows out of the 112 I need before I start the armhole shaping. I'm going to knit up the second Mickey ear before joining on a fresh ball of yarn. I think I'll be able to finish both panels from a single ball, and if not, I'd rather use up all of one ball and a smidgen of a second, than to finish with two that are halfway gone.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Just the fax, ma’am

Remember my adventures in Fax-land last week? They continue. Fax Dude was supposed to come back yesterday with the new part and make everything all better. He did not. This morning, Alternative Fax Dude shows up with the new part and gets to work. He discovers, to his dismay, that a different part is also damaged. Do they have the part in stock? They do not. He will have it overnighted and will finish the job tomorrow.



Faxless and forlorn. That would be me.

He leaves my wounded fax machine in the workroom behind me and escapes to parts unknown. [Maybe that is where they keep the spare ones?]

This is the rabbit-hole down which that wire disappeared last weekend, causing no end of excitement when I bumped the panic alarm while threading the wire back up through it.



The good news is, I no longer have a McCormick reaper threshing away near my ear. The bad news is, we had to commandeer one of the outgoing-fax machines. And I had to disable its handset, which shrieks every time a fax comes in. I had forgotten that small detail. Do you have any idea how difficult it is to unplug a handset – such a simple task that any three-year-old can do it – with the front-office equivalent of an air raid siren going off at arms-length?

To calm my jangled nerves, I take a little stroll at lunchtime. These guys are not too far from the office, a nice walk any time of the year but August. [August here in this part of Texas is as close to Hades as I ever hope to get. August in Houston, Texas *is* Hades.]

Bloggers, meet Trammell Crow's cows. Any Mad Cow Socks knit for them would be large enough to hang up at Christmas!



Cows, meet the Bloggers.



I didn't have quite enough nerve to hang my Jitterbug socks from his horns. Although it might have been a quick way to meet one of Dallas's finest.

Alternative Fax Dude comes back with the part, looking a wee bit sheepish. [My IT person is about ready to shear him, and possibly neuter him into the bargain.] He spends a good chunk of the afternoon clinking and clanking in the workroom. My fax machine is now fixed. [Presumably, Alternative Fax Dude is not. I thought it kinder not to ask.] Both paper drawers are full, and when a new fax comes in, the machine purrs contentedly. As do I.

Here’s some knitting progress for you: 45 out of 112 rows before the armhole shaping on one side panel; 35 out of 112 on the other, as of quitting time. Pictures tomorrow-ish, after Knit Night and what I hope will be a good night's sleep.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Fish and visitors ~ but not *this* time

You remember what Ben Franklin said, that fish and visitors both smell after three days? Well, I’m pleased to report that there was nothing fishy about last weekend’s guest. Sooz and I have been e-friends for about a year and a half. She’s a writer; I’m a writer. She’s LDS; so am I. She’s navigated the singles program of the church more than once. So have [am] I.



She flew in on Friday night, greeting me with “Aloha” and a hug and a lei and a peck on the cheek. It’s such a treat to meet someone you’ve “known” for awhile and to find out that they are even better in person than on paper.

They hadn’t exactly fed Sooz on the second lap of her flight. LittleBit and I hadn’t exactly eaten dinner. So we unloaded the car and zipped on out for some fast food. She joined us for family prayers, then LittleBit went to bed, and we proceeded to inflate the airbed and make a nest for Sooz. I was flat amazed to look at the clock and see that it was 12:40. About four hours past my optimal bedtime. That’s how much fun we were having, sharing stories and laughing.

Saturday morning I made a run to the kolache shop for some of those cinnamon rolls. [Almost a religious experience, I do declare.] More talking and laughing until it was time for us to head over to my favorite TexMex restaurant for lunch. And since we had dawdled the morning away, and the only place to get a rental car was back at the airport, I drove her about an hour west of Fort Worth to meet up with the bride-to-be and her family.

I hung out by the town square, near the police station, figuring that was the safest place for a maiden lady like me to hunker down with a novel and a bag full of knitting. Sat in the car, quietly entertaining myself, until my cell phone rang to come get Sooz. The only “incident” was when I became aware that a pickup truck had pulled into the parking lot where I’d backed in, and the driver was staring at me. Or possibly glaring at me? I just gave him the patented “wife look”, and he put his truck in gear and got the heck out of Dodge!

We stopped at Sonic on the way out of town to refuel. It had been a long, dusty afternoon since we’d feasted at lunchtime. When we got home, I threw on my dancing clothes, and she drove us to the dance on the northeast side of BigD. Our regular DJ has taken a new job, one which unfortunately renders him unavailable during dancing hours. So Brother Sushi did the honors. Sooz visited with my friends and did the big “group dance” thing we often do to fast songs. There are never enough men to go around, so the sisters all get up and boogie in a circle.

No, we don't have any pictures of that. But I'm happy to report that I danced three or four line dances without blowing out my knee, and I merengue'd without mishap. I taught Sooz the only line dance I know. We were hoping that Brother Sushi would play Tiny Bubbles, and she would teach me to hula, but he ran out of time before he ran out of songs.

For you diehards, some knitting content: This is my first toe-up heel flap, on my Jitterbug socks.



And this is its mate, ready for its heel flap:



I have finished the back/hood of the hoodie and have cast on the exceedingly plain side panels. Will save those photos for another day.

Brother Sushi grew up in Hawaii. He told me some time back that each time he leaves, he goes to the shore and flings his lei out to sea. Tradition has it that if it comes back to shore, you will return to the islands.

I put my own spin on that tonight. I had worn the lei to work, and after spending most of the weekend in the fridge it was looking a mite triste. So I drove to Lake Arlington and walked out on the causeway by the boat ramp, and I threw my lei out into the lake.




Sooz, come back soon, y'hear? [That's Texan for “aloha”!]

Thursday, May 17, 2007

This is the kind of day it has been

Could not decide what I wanted for breakfast after dropping LittleBit at seminary. Headed down to J-I-T-B but was confounded by flashing lights and a roadblock of sorts, half a mile or so down the road. The city, or the county, or possibly the state, is finally doing something about South Cooper (the south end of State Highway 157, which has to be one of the busiest roads in North Texas). They started down in Mansfield near my favorite TexMex restaurant, putting concrete barriers in where the two-way turn lanes have been, filling the gaps between the concrete curbs with brickwork. All very charming and colorful, and I hope that there will be fewer accidents as a result. I will definitely miss dashing from the kolache shop across the road to the gas station, or vice versa. And I hope it won’t hurt the kolache man’s business. He’s a good guy who makes superb pastries; he deserves to prosper.

So, no J-I-T-B this morning. A U-turn at the cut-out near the tattoo shop that is also a notary public, and back to kolache land I went. Then a brief wait at the church for LittleBit and my best friend’s kid so I could take them to school. Lots of good knitting time after I devoured my jalapeno sausage and cheese kolaches [rather more like gourmet pigs in blankets than the Danishes his fruit kolaches resemble]. I have a little less than two full repeats remaining on the central portion of the hood, woohoo!

Home again, home again, jiggety-jig, because this morning I got to go play at the dentist’s. Nothing major, just a cleaning. If I don’t get one every three to four months, my mouth is not a happy place to be. I spent about an hour and a half puttering in the dining room before the appointment, and when I left, the table was cleared of clutter, the sawdust was gone, the tablecloth shaken soundly outside then replaced, and my nice slate hot pads were the only decoration.

My dental hygienist is a lovely human being, kind and gentle and patient. And no matter how careful she is, my mouth is often very tender afterwards. Today is no exception. The corners of my mouth feel as if I’d been spitting grapefruit out. *Whole* grapefruit. Pommelos. My gums were getting cranky before I went in this morning. They are marching around with tiny picket signs as we speak.

I discovered at the end of my lunch hour, when I was two rows away from finishing the penultimate pattern repeat, that I’d done one two-over-two twist instead of a two-over-one. So on my break this afternoon I dabbled my toes in the frog pond.

The incoming-fax machine has been doing a credible impersonation of a McCormick reaper since late yesterday afternoon. A little less than 24 inches from my right ear. Repair dude came as I was leaving for the frog pond.

When I came back from my break, while he was still doing exploratory surgery, I decided to grab a paper towel and dust the corner where the fax resides. In doing so, I knocked one of the connector wires down through the hole in my desktop, way behind the file cabinet in the dark. Thankfully, one of the legal secretaries came by and fielded the phone for me so I could crawl back there and retrieve the wire. And she grabbed the connector bit as I threaded it back up through the hole.

[Here comes the comic relief part.] We looked up to see our IT person standing there, asking if we were all right. I assured her that we were. Then she explained that I had set off the panic alarm when I snaked my arm across the top of the file cabinet.

Oye.

Good news is, the fax is fixable. Bad news is, not until Monday. It will require a $4 part and two hours of labor. I am *so* not in the right business!

Tonight is Lark’s junior high choir concert. My living room is presentable. My dining room is astounding. The kitchen should only require an hour or two to whip into shape. My friend from Alohaville will be here tomorrow night. She is going to teach me how to crochet a lei. I am going to feed her TexMex until it comes out of our ears like the quail in Moses’ day.

Good times.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The Jitterbug socks get some culture

No pictures, however, as I have not yet opened the box with the rechargeable batteries since buying it on Saturday. I'm almost ready to try my first toe-up heel flaps

The sofa table is finished and set up behind the sofa. Also no pictures of that, for the same reason. You would think with all the measuring that I did before starting the table, that it would not stand approximately 3" higher than the back of the sofa. You would be wrong. But it's good enough for who it's for, as an old friend used to say. The lamps are in place, and my two folk art horses between them, and I have probably less than half an hour's work to get the dining room table looking civilized again.

Secondborn sat between Firstborn and me at LittleBit's choir concert. [Firstborn was one of the choir director's seniors the first year she taught at this school.] The music was excellent tonight, from the freshmen girls on up to the graduating seniors. However, grandson-to-be is not excessively fond of kettledrums! I alternated between knitting and patting the baby bump. I am happily exhausted; it's been a long day on little sleep.

I'm actually home tomorrow night, quelle shock, and Thursday we have Lark's junior high concert. We should hear tomorrow if LittleBit made it into show choir for next year. Firstborn is auditioning with the city chorus later this year, and I think I'll do the same a year from now. Enjoying LittleBit's senior year is a somewhat higher priority.

Must. Go. Sleep.

They better not rehearse on knit night!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Random Ramblings

The knee is almost magically better. Merci beaucoups to whomever has been praying over me. Unfortunately, the mind has taken up the “slacking”, so to speak.

The computer at work has a diabolical prompt that begins nagging several days before it’s time to change the password. Every time I log on, four times every workday on the average, it asks me: “Do you want to change your password *now*?”

No, actually, I do not. I want to wait until the last possible minute, and then I want to change back to the password I used last time, but that is not an option. Most of the time I just click “no” until I’m forced to change it. Monday I was not in the mood for a dozen or more no’s until the inevitable. So I changed my log-on, and I changed a second password. When I went to change the third password that I also use on a frequent basis, suddenly I could not remember my current one for that system. It was like unto that tender gap when you’re seven and have lost a tooth, and you cannot keep your tongue out of the space. My brain kept poking around that vacant spot, to no avail. No tooth. No password.

After almost an hour of rummaging about frantically in my head, I called our IT specialist for a password reset. And she reminded me that she no longer has the authority to do that, but she gave me the toll-free number to the Gurus of Reset. I waded through voicemail hell, armed only with what remained of my wits and the steely determination forged by a decade or so of outwitting teenagers.

Success at last! a human voice!

But wait. She too had insufficient authority to reset my password; however, she referred it to her supervisors, and she gave me a ticket number. I waited. I puttered and I filed the faxes and I answered a thousand and one phone calls. And in between, I prayed the scattered, staccato prayers of a woman whose work-life is defined by the word “interruption”. And miraculously, there it was, floating up into a calm patch in the maelstrom: my password. I typed it in, invented a fresh one, and endured more voicemail hell until I could get through to the Gurus to cancel my ticket.

When I have first logged on every day since then, the password that has popped up in my mind like the hand of a first-grader who knows she knows the answer, was the old one. *Now* I remember it.

But there is good news.

Remember that shot of Louisa Harding Sari Ribbon, months and months ago? I figured out how to tile it on my desktop! So now when I shut down the monitor at night I can blow kisses at pure yarn genius. And I pulled that Easter photo-card of BittyBit from this blog and set it as background on my workstation at the office. Seeing that dear little face makes a good day better and a bad day bearable.

We have been having rain, rain and more rain. I wonder how close we are to breaking this drought? Thus far, knock wood, we've only had one episode of rain being blown under the front door, and that was a week and a half ago, the night I began staining the sofa table. I've been able to keep the windows open all weekend for cross-ventilation while applying the finish coat, which comes with the warning "NOXIOUS FUMES". I just woke up from a four-hour nap and put the second coat on the top shelf. And used the last of the polyacrylic. With one coat left to go.

Which means that a little after midnight [when it is no longer the Sabbath] I will be thoroughly awake, and I will trade jammies for jeans and head out to Wally World. They don't list their paints at the website. So I risk wasting half a gallon of gold-plated gasoline and coming home empty handed. And cranky. And having to stop at the home center on the way home tomorrow night to pick up another small can.

I can understand not selling paints and stains online from a risk management perspective. I had to flash my ID to buy them at the home center, presumably to reassure the salesclerk that I am old enough and smart enough not to do something stupid with said products that would permanently fry my brain or impair future little Sleaves. But would it hurt to post a small list that says "we carry the following brands"? And I also checked the stain manufacturer's website. All sorts of useful information, but nothing that says "the following stores carry our products".

Two companies that are obviously being run by people whose brains are wired far differently than my own.

I bit the bullet and bought rechargeable batteries for my camera. Hrm, this might be a good time to plug in the charger, since I'm obviously going to be up for awhile, and there are photos stuck inside the camera that I can't fish out at the moment.

About an inch and a half of progress on one sock at church today. These will be my first attempt at toe-ups with heel flaps, and I'm almost to that point on both socks.

Friday, May 11, 2007

One seriously cool fortune cookie

On my way to an appointment after work one Wednesday in early March, I stopped at Panda Express. Don't know if you have them where you live, but their Orange Chicken is a thing of beauty and a joy to taste. I ordered a Panda Bowl, which is a portion-appropriate serving of two items; mine were the chicken and good old boring plain white rice, cooked to perfection.

The best part of eating Chinese, or even pseudo-Chinese sped up for American tastes and schedules, is the fortune cookie. I like them best when they are fresh, of course, but even prefabbed and shrink-wrapped they are fragrant, noisy fun.

Any good LDS [Mormon] girl will tell you that astrology is bunk, but fortune cookies are invariably correct! The eeriest one I ever opened was two days after the children's father forgot our penultimate anniversary, and it read "He does not love you very much, but he loves you all that he can." [I think there was some divine intervention going on with that one, but moving on...]

The *best* one was the one I opened two months ago: "You have a natural grace and great consideration for others". Oh gee, I certainly hope so, particularly the latter.

When I went back to school in 1995 to earn my AAS in Interpreting for the Deaf, one of the first required classes that I took was a mime class. And for one of our projects, we had to lip-synch and choreograph a song, using no sign language or speech. My best friend found the song for me, Barbra Streisand’s “Everybody Says Don’t” from her Back to Broadway album. I had been very quiet in my classes up to that point, but the night of my performance my innate feistiness was there for all to see. I had so much fun pointing at the teacher when she sings "laugh at the king", and the entire class cracked up.

I didn’t watch the VHS that was made of all of the performances until after I’d graduated from the program. And I was moved to tears to see how graceful I am when I perform. I had always thought of myself as something of a klutz, but that tape showed me otherwise. For just a moment, I saw what God sees when He sees me.

I try to retain that in my mind and in my heart, and to see it when I look at others. One of my favorite Primary songs is “I’m Trying to be Like Jesus”. It never fails to bring a tear or two; the melody is one that tiptoes into your ears and nestles deep in your heart.

Some days I do better than others.

And now for your regularly scheduled knitting content:

[visualize photo here]

I am an inch past the end of the raglan decreases on the back of LittleBit's hoodie. Seventeen inches to go before we bind off! And the battery in my camera just died, so I can't give you a visual.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Looking a Bit Like a Manta Ray



Raglan decreases are *done* on the back of LittleBit's hoodie. Now it's just a gallop up the back of the neck and over the top of the head, for the decorative portion of the hood. And then I'll do the two small, boring, unembellished side panels, block what I have, assemble it, and pick up the sides of the hood.

Yes, I'm still having fun with this. So no, I won't be joining the SlogAlong.

No progress on the socks yesterday. After work I picked up a lovely, plush bath sheet for our upcoming houseguest, using one of my coupons. Then I picked up LittleBit between rainstorms and took her to get her hair trimmed. Then I took her to the midweek activity at church. Then I picked up her Rx, and some chicken fajita quesadillas for me, and I came home and changed into my shopping clothes.

Off to Tar-zhay, where I bought a 60-quart rolling cooler in red and white for my 72-hour emergency kit. On Saturday we'll pick up one for LittleBit in another other color, and then it's just a matter of deciding which of our clothes we want to stuff in there in case of emergency, and we will be Officially Obedient. We've had the edible portion and the first-aid portion assembled for years and tucked in the coat closet. Now we'll be really, truly good-to-go, and I can check "buy rolling coolers" off my list.

I also bought a microfleece blanket and a cotton blanket and two new bed pillows (one for me, one for our guest) and upgraded some of our cleaning tools. And two sets of sheets, one set for LittleBit's bed and another for the airbed, which I'll buy this morning while LittleBit's at seminary.

Tonight after work I'll stop at World Market and pick up blue folding chairs for LittleBit's room: one for her desk and one for in front of the keyboard. And then it's HFPE tonight. "Home Family and Personal Enrichment", what we used to call our monthly Relief Society Homemaking Meeting, back when it was monthly. Last year we moved to a different schedule: a couple of activities a year on the stake (like a diocese) level, several on a ward (like a parish) level, and the rest small interest groups that typically meet monthly or weekly at somebody's home. Last year, for awhile, I hosted a knitting group chez nous.

Tonight I get to learn how to scrub out 15-gallon containers that formerly held soft drink syrup, to make them fit to store water for our year's supply. [We only have to store a two-week supply of water, 2 gallons per person per day.] I figure that four of those will be far easier to shift around [especially if I set each of them on a circular dolly, as you would a ficus] at 130+ lbs each than a 55-gallon drum at 470+ lbs. Plus, LittleBit can take her share with her when she flies the nest in a couple of years. Kinda hard to do the Solomon vs. Baby thing with a 55-gallon drum. The landlord might get upset.

I'm not sure where I can put four 15-gallon containers in this apartment, especially now that we have the rolling coolers which will have to go *somewhere*.

The Good Housekeeping Fairy smacked LittleBit upside the head last night, too. When I came home from shopping she was in her room, sorting and bagging with a certain feisty glee. She was really tickled about the new sheets and couldn't wait for me to wash them first.

Oye, the laundry that's going to have to get done sometime on Saturday. The pre-washing of all the goodies that are going into the new guest closet, plus the regular stuff, plus the fluffy bathmats in both bathrooms. Oye, squared. Or possibly cubed.

I don't know when I'm going to get the finish coat on the sofa table. I may just have to schlepp it behind the couch and look innocent if somebody asks "where's the shiny part?"

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Redecorating, after a fashion

This went out with my weekly gratitudes, weekend before last:
"I finally found a place for the red vase that Br. Sushi gave me for Christmas, year before last. It’s been languishing on the breakfast bar, right against the wall where it wouldn’t get knocked off. Also for the two equally gorgeous red glass bowls I got for Christmas last year. The smaller bowl and the vase are now on the plant stand that Secondborn found for me, which is flush with the wall in the corner where the taller ficus once stood. I’ve moved the torchiere lamp and the rocking chair back there, a little behind the couch so I can hide in the corner and knit. The larger glass bowl is now on the coffee table, which used to be in front of the living room window. I may end up moving the vase and the smaller bowl to the end table between the couch and the wall, because I think that table needs a little perking up, but for now they’re safe where they are."



As you can see, I moved them to the end table. BittyBit's not here all that often, and she's remarkably good about not-touching, but I just feel better about having these breakables a little closer to the ground. And the end table looks much livelier than it did. The mostly-turquoise-in-real-life yarn in the bowl is from LotusBlossom. And the red is some wild and crazy silk that my #1 student gave me after her trip to Santa Fe. The sheep perched on the edge of the vase is something that leaped into my basket at World Market a few years ago.

Here's the couch, moved into its new position but before putting on the slipcover, which I won on eBay last week and which arrived in the mail on Monday:



Here's the couch with its lovely new-to-me slipcover, and the afghan my Gram crocheted for me 25+ years ago, and the lamps peeking out behind it. That funny crown-topped object leaning against the wall by the window is a folding rocking chair that my father copied from an antique. One of the dowels is broken, and I'm hoping that Brother Sushi has the power tools to make me a new one. At which point I will strip and refinish the rocker, whip up some needlepoint for the upholstered bits, re-web it, and call it done. The "trees" are slightly mussed from when I wrestled them about to get at the water that was blowing in under the door in last Wednesday's rainstorm. [Not much water, easily mopped up with a solitary hand towel.]



I attempted to show you what the corner with the rocking chair looks like now, but Blogger spun the picture 90°, and I couldn't figure out how to un-spin it.

This is the back of LittleBit's Celtic Icon hoodie, with the first part of the raglan decreases done. For the next 18 rows I will decrease every row instead of every other row, and then it's a gallop down the straightaway for the center portion of the hood.



And here is where we are on Sabbath Sock and Sassy Sister.



It rained all night. Sounds as if it's raining still.

Can anybody explain to me how or why Blogger fiddles with my paragraph spacing between "edit" and "publish"? It's been taking me three attempts to get a post published in a form that pleases me.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Before (mine) and After (hers)

This is the first finished project that I knitted mostly on the recumbent bike.



I ran short, ten stitches shy of a full bind-off. So I tinked it back to the beginning of the round. Then I simply knitted that round and passed one stitch over the other. It was a little tighter bind-off than the first try, but still acceptable. Talk about a close call!



Here's the finished object, based on Ilga Leja's "Beech Wood" cowl. http://www.ilgaleja.com/free_pattern.html I didn't think I could navigate a mobius scarf with knees flying, so I opted for a simple ring.



I cast on 126 stitches instead of 108, and I knitted this with approximately DK-weight silk on Addi Natura 8's instead of Fleece Artist’s Handmaiden 4-Ply Silk Cashmere, 55 % silk, 45% cashmere (170 m./50 g. skein) on 6's.

As you can see, the colors are lovely. And the yarn was mostly wonderful to knit, though there was lots of VM [vegetable matter]. I bought a hank of this and a small ball from my friend Grace at Knit Night a few weeks ago. She had just completed a project and never wanted to see the yarn again. Why? I'll let her tell you.

Here: http://blogs.litfan.com/archives/114

And here: http://blogs.litfan.com/archives/122

And here: http://blogs.litfan.com/archives/125

And now a picture of the two items side by side. Hers, which has been washed and bled profusely. Mine, which is the original color. There is definitely a difference; unfortunately, neither of us were able to capture it well with our cameras.



My knitted cowl is on the left; Grace's "Twin Peaks" shawl is on the right.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Sabbath Sock's Sassy Sister

On the left is sock #1, knitted in church last Sunday and on the recumbent bike on Monday. On the right is sock #2, cast on at home Tuesday morning and worked on during seminary. I was having a cranky, achy day, so no workout.



Here's what I accomplished at church today:



Should have made sure that I'd photographed the same side, for comparison's sake. But it's about 2" longer than it was this morning. I think I'll insert some of those open, pointy-ended stitch markers to show where I've stopped on each sock. That should make next week's progress that much easier to see.

This is the sofa table with two coats of stain. I have to wait until just before bedtime to put on the first coat of polyurethane. I also had to make two trips to the home improvement store yesterday: one in the morning to buy the finish coat, and another mid-afternoon, when I ran out of stain after taking LittleBit's advice that the table needed a second coat of color. This is MinWax's Golden Pecan, but it's almost a pale red, as if I'd used a light cedar stain.



And we'll finish with more knitting content. I've turned the corner at the underarm and am now making happy raglan decreases.



I think this is what I want to work on for the rest of the day. Later, gators!

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Project du Jour

Late last summer I decided that I wanted a simple sofa table to slip behind the couch. Something that would hold a couple of lamps, the freebie glass candlesticks that Secondborn found for me, etc. While it would be nice to have an elegant mahogany Queen Anne table, she would have felt déclassé amongst the hand-me-downs and thrift-shop finds. And her magnificence would have been hidden away between the couch and the wall.

So I made a little trip to the home-improvement store, and I bought six 2x2's and two planks and a dozen angle braces, at Brother Sushi's suggestion. He was also kind enough to loan me his drill. And he was even kinder to come over a couple of weeks later, when LittleBit and I had made little headway, and finish putting it all together. Based on the difficulty of inserting steel screws into wood, we decided that I had bought cypress posts. The planks are clear pine. Clear being a relative term.

The table spent fall, winter, and six weeks of spring upside-down on my dining room table. I saw it several times a day, felt mildly guilty, did nothing. But I have company coming in two weeks, a penpal who is coming to Texas a few days ahead of the rest of her tribe for a child's wedding. She is spending the weekend with us, and while I suspect our Saturday will be one mad round of sightseeing and shopping, on Sunday things will slow down to a more heavenly pace, and I want the option of sitting around the table like civilized human beings.

Wednesday night we had another of our "if it's six o'clock, it must be time for rain, hail, and wind" storms. LittleBit's church activity was cancelled. She called me, "I'm safe. Church is cancelled tonight."

"*Where* are you safe?"

"[Ex-boyfriend's] house. I'm hanging out with his little sister, and we're rehearsing our dance for Show Choir tryouts."

I knew he would get her home once the storm passed, so I broke out the sandpaper, and I got to work. Did you know that sanding counts as an aerobic activity? I really worked up a sweat. The legs were long-since sanded. I got the bottom of both shelves sanded and most of the edges. Thursday morning I flipped the table 180° and sanded the bottom shelf and puttied a couple of spots on the top shelf with stainable wood filler. Another aerobic activity. How thankful I am for shampoo and potions so that I can go to work looking and smelling like a sedate matron [yeah, like anybody who knows me is going to believe *that*!] instead of a middle-aged carpenter.

Yesterday morning I finished sanding before seminary. The plan was to come home, grab a bite to eat, and stain the table. But work was incredibly busy; we had one lawsuit where the answer was past-due and another where the answer is due next Monday, and the data clerk was out on vacation. So there I was, answering phones, opening and stamping the mail so the scanner could do her job, pulling faxes, entering lawsuits, and doing the conflict checks.

The drive home seemed shorter than usual, but I was so tired that I couldn't decide where I wanted to eat. So I just came home and made a tunafish sandwich and washed it down with a mug of milk. Repeated about an hour later. Then LittleBit came home from eating dinner with one of her friends, and we had prayers, and I went to bed a little after 8:00.

This morning I woke up a little after 3:30 [seven and a half hours of sleep, can you believe it?] and spent ten minutes wrangling the drop cloth into workable condition and getting my rags ready. I've stained several pieces of furniture in the past three decades, but this is the first time that I've used a pre-stain treatment. I have the tops of both shelves done, and the edges, and it's time to turn the table over and treat the other side.



Here's a detail of the wood grain:



Tomorrow: shots of the sure-hope-it's-finished table.