About Me

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Five 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!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Houston, We Have Lift-Off!

Much catching-up to do. I'm blending three drafts from Word, so this post may become dizzying. Fasten your seatbelts.

I am pleased to report that the window units, in combination with the ceiling fans, keep my new little home quite comfortable. [We are having temperatures in the high 90’s and possibly in the 100’s; my TV is not plugged in, and I’m not listening to the radio, and I only read the paper when I’m at work, so I can’t be sure, but I can tell you it’s mighty warm out there.] I will be interested to see how they do, come August. Texas in August is as close to Hades as I ever hope to get. I had been a little concerned, because when I get too warm, my ankles turn into blowfish. Thus far, not a whimper from them, and I haven’t taken my diuretic all week. [Yes, I know where it is; I could take five steps right now and put my hand right on the vial.]

When I began the draft of this post, we were having rain out there. I could hear spatters against the south bedroom window and the occasional growl of thunder. I had been moving small bookcases into my room and needed a quick break.

I have done a little more swatching with the Noro. I love how it takes to seed stitch. And I unpacked my four Barbara Walker *Knitting Treasuries* Wednesday. I want to try some simple lace patterns, because I don’t think that I want to knit an entire sweater [shrug, shawl, capelet] for myself in seed stitch. I don’t know if it’s because I’m knitting with frogged yarn, or if it’s characteristic of Noro, but I’m not seeing any biasing of the stitches, something that drove me nuts with the [??]Brown Sheep Lamb’s Pride[??] which I used for the girls’ tabards, twenty-some years ago. [Hence all those cables and knit-purl patterns.] And I’m also not seeing much of the vegetable matter for which Noro is as famous as for its color progressions. This yarn is Kureopatera. Why does that remind me of “Cleopatra”? I couldn’t find it on their website [back before the move], so I have no idea how long the previous owner had had it in her stash. I wonder if this yarn is less twiggy than Kureyon, or if she had already picked out the bits as she came to them.

Angeluna recommended a shawl pattern for this yarn. And I am having a brainf@rt as to what it was.

The wind shifted; the rain was hitting the north window here in the kitchen, and the thunder intensified. [To the point that there was a “boom” and then darkness for a few seconds, during which I remembered that while the emergency candles are here in the new place, the matches are in the kitchen at the apartment.]

I could only find five of the little plastic wedges that I slip under the front edges of my bookcases, so I slid one half under a small bookcase and rested the tower bookcase on the other half. Et voila! Three bookcases leveled using five wedges. I am also flattening this batch of cardboard boxes as I go, to avoid the whole “can I get these last five copy paper boxes and their lids ripped apart and into the recycling bin before that truck down the block gets to my yard?” situation that I had on Tuesday. If you think that God isn’t interested in helping with the most mundane bits of your life, you haven’t moved recently.

I love leftovers. I polished off the last dab of steak and potatoes yesterday and had a handful of carrots for dessert. Later, I had a nice big bowlful of the strawberries that I bought on Tuesday. I have a container of Demerara sugar that I bought on impulse several months ago; I bet they’d be good with a little of that sprinkled over them.

And maybe by the time I’m ready to polish them off I will have unpacked the balsamic vinegar. Brother Sushi has a bottle of better-grade stuff that he likes to dribble over berries. I just have the cheapest I could find. Maybe next year, when I get my bonus, I will have used it all up and could consider springing for the $50 a bottle stuff.

[I hear that you can spend upwards of $200 for the best of the best. I don’t know if I will ever be a good enough cook to justify that. Maybe Brother Right can give me that, instead of an engagement ring?] Of course, I wouldn’t want to spend that kind of money on balsamic vinegar until I had tasted it to see if I can taste any difference between it and the stuff I have.

I’m so pleased and thankful for all that I’ve been able to accomplish this week. The duplex is starting to look more like a home and less like Fibber McGee’s closet. I never cease to be amazed at how much faster it is to unpack and settle in, than it is to pack and prepare to move. I wonder why that is? And I think it’s funny that filling my bookshelves gives me greater satisfaction and a deeper sense of “home” than putting my kitchen in order.

Maybe that’s because I’ve been comfortable with books since first grade, and feeling at ease in the kitchen is a relatively new development.

With all the rain that was coming down yesterday, I regretted not having a small garden already planted to take advantage of the moisture. Brother Sushi told me of a handy trick for raised beds: you take a bale of hay or straw and plunk it down where you want your garden. You scoop out some of the hay to make room for your seedlings and pop them in and mulch them with the scooped-out hay and water it thoroughly. [This is the part where I know that I’m forgetting one or more critical details.] A bale will last you two or three years, and after it’s all nicely decomposed you remove the baling wire and scatter the hay as mulch in your flowerbeds. He says this is a good method for anything but corn. I wonder if he and his pickup truck are going to be available this Saturday? And I wonder where the closest feed store is?

I found my old journals, beginning when I was five months pregnant with Firstborn in 1978, until about the time I started work on my AAS in 1995. I flipped through a few pages in each so that I could shelve them chronologically. I came across an entry written just before the children’s father began chiropractic school in 1988. Those last two weeks, we had $14 to feed the six of us. I bought two boxes of powdered milk and seven of the four-conjoined-loaf units of bread that Sack and Save used to carry [and maybe still does; I haven’t shopped there in years]. We lived on bread and milk for two weeks. That was six months before LittleBit was conceived; it’s a miracle that she’s a normal human being, much less an exceptional one like her sisters.

I compare my life now with my life then, and I shake my head in wonder that any of us survived those three years that he was in school. I worked more than one 120-hour week, sewing choir uniforms and bridesmaid dresses to fill the gap between student loans and reality. We went into debt for his education, to the tune of $30,000 a year, plus the odd grant here and there. And we lived on about a third of that, after his tuition and books and fees and whatnot were paid for. And still managed to bring another sweet baby girl into the world.

Now I sit here in this quiet little house, surrounded by the books I have chosen, my yard-sale finds and thrift-shop furniture and hand-me-downs from friends, all the eBay bargains of recent weeks, and the works of my own hands, and there is peace, and gratitude, and no small amount of satisfaction at having made silk purses from a seemingly-unending supply of sows’ ears. My babies have grown up into fine young women, decent and hard-working and loving. My grandchildren delight me. Notwithstanding my imperfections, I am worthy and willing to serve in the House of the Lord.

Truly, my friends, it does not get any better than this.

And now for more mundane topics. And a plethora of photos. The improvised kitchen door

has been down for two days now. I found the cable for my camera.

Barbie slept here! Not sure when; the last guy was [I think] a bachelor. This Band-Aid is wrapped around the handle to my bedroom door.

The Flared Lace Smoke Ring is done.

I took it to Knit Night on Tuesday night, where I didn’t do any actual knitting; instead, I began frogging the Noro, which had been knitted up with a companion strand of high-quality mystery yarn. From its softness, sheen, and limpness when frogged, I am guessing alpaca. I finished frogging on Wednesday morning and will eventually re-skein and wash it. I think it would make a lovely scarf or three.

I have only been able to discover one phone jack in the duplex [though there are at least three cable jacks]; it’s in the kitchen and thankfully across the doorway from an electrical outlet. However, that necessitated emptying out one of the bookshelves that I had filled with dishes and stemware on Monday morning. I’ll be able to run the phone cord up over the doorway and down the other side, to keep it out of the way. Meanwhile, I’m just lifting it up and stepping under it.

Tuesday night was my fourth night in the duplex, and I don’t remember waking until Wednesday morning. So I must be getting used to all the creaking and sighing of this dear old house. Wednesday night was also good, but I woke up this morning about 1:30 after weird dreams where I was smoking cigars and trying to explain it to the bishop. We will blame that on Blogging Depletion Syndrome.

My DSL was supposed to be working by 6:00 Wednesday night, but I could not get a regular dial tone, and that was supposed to have been working by 6:00 Tuesday night. I put in a repair order and they show that the line is working. So I trudged back to the old apartment and grabbed the other phone, to see if it would work any better. I think I have already posted that both phones worked just fine at Secondborn’s that night.

I managed to clear a path in my studio and have rearranged things a little. OK, a lot. The fainting couch is out of the middle of the room and up against the common wall. I pulled one of my long, narrow folding tables out of there and have set it up as a computer desk here in the kitchen. The tower fits under it neatly, with enough room on top that I can put my shoebox full of computer stuff on top and keep it handy [once I’ve discovered which box it’s in]. I have a kluge of computer cables under the desk. In the next week or so I’ll pick up something to corral them. In the meantime, they are out of the way, if unsightly.

OK, more good stuff. Just had a knock on the door. I thought it was the Phone Dude[tte], but it was a young father of three, salvaging scrap metal. He loaded up his truck with the old, dead stove, the old ceiling fans, the grille for the old space heater, etc., and we had a nice visit while he worked. He rebuilds axles for a living and just got laid off. Yesterday he made $100 by salvaging. And then we shook hands and “God bless you”-ed, and I came inside and he drove away. It’s looking a lot less Grapes of Wrath outside my back door. He gets to feed his family a few more days. Everybody wins. [Even the neighbors.]

More photos. I splurged on sock drawer dividers, turning this

into this.

And Sunday I had to improvise a plug for the tub. Enter the water bottle.

Which worked well enough until there was enough water to sit in, at which point the bottle started to rise to the surface. So I just plugged the drain with my heel. Monday I picked up a new plug, and boy oh boy do I love this old tub. It’s long and wide and deep and solid.

Phone Dude has been and gone. The reason I couldn’t get a dial tone is because the line had been cut where it came out of my kitchen cabinet. He installed two new jacks for me, one just inside the hall, and the other at the end of the load-bearing wall that divides the living room from the kitchen. The original hard-wiring was still in place, which amazed both of us. I will eventually move the computer out into my living room and put the bookcase full of pretties back here where they were.

And now I get to drive back to the old town and straighten out my account with the YMCA. That’s a topic for a whole ’nuther blog post, and I’ll have pictures of the kitchen and sidewalk and other neat stuff by then, too.


Bonnie said...

You sure are creative, in all areas of your life. A water bottle for a tub drain...genius! I'm glad you finally have internet service again. I'm going to have a fun day tomorrow watching a ton of testosterone filled guys try to out-man each other at Tys's Jui-jitsu match tomorrow. And as if that weren't enough excitement for the day, I'll be kid free - woo hoo!

Jenni said...

She's kid free because I get the oldest one. We are camping out together all weekend and I am pumped. I am so glad that your kids (finally) like each other. It only took twenty something years.