About Me

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Six 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!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A Most Productive Day

The CO was very gracious. I began by thanking him for anything he had done to enable Middlest to come home and see her dad after his stroke. STBX did not exactly “get in trouble” for sending her home the way he did [I asked, because it sounded a little fishy]; he did get spoken-to because he had not gone through channels to have his CO contact the Red Cross, who contacted the Navy/Marine Corps Relief Society [name of that organization still makes me giggle a little].

He emphasized that he had to protect STBX’s privacy. I told him that I quite understood that. I also expressed my frustration with the living situation. He explained that STBX is an E-5 and entitled by rank to live off-base if he chooses. He said he would look into the dependent allowance status, to see if that figured into where STBX was living, and he now knows that the woman who is living with STBX is not his wife but is pregnant with his child.

The chief asked if there is a separation agreement in place. I told him that I did not know if there was a formal one drawn up by attorneys but that there was something in writing, and that STBX was [thus far] honoring his promise to cover Middlest’s cell phone bill until the contract has run. And that I thought five years of marriage entitled her to something more than that.

He referred me to Fleet and Family Service Center. There is one at the JRB in Fort Worth, not far from where I live. And I am certainly willing to use some of my vacation time to get Middlest there to talk with them, and to help her meet with an attorney after we get a referral. And to help her ask the right questions. Somebody ought get the benefit of my hard-earned street smarts, acquired in the process of two divorces.

So: I have left a voicemail with legal services at the JRB, asking for a referral to a divorce lawyer. And Middlest called me after lunch to say that she had had a very contrite call from STBX, saying that he never said he wouldn’t pay to move her stuff out here, and that he never said he wouldn’t help her. [We have a text message that says otherwise. Smart girl, she has saved them all.] And that his CO said there was a distinct possibility that fraud charges would be brought against him for the dependent allowance, because it was meant to be a benefit for his wife.

He told her that he would be emailing her the separation papers last night. She will forward them to me. I will print them off, and one of my attorneys has already volunteered to look them over. [As of 5:05 this morning, there is nothing along those lines in my inbox. Liar, liar, pants on fire? It would be too much to hope that he is already in the brig.] Middlest told him that I will be standing right beside her until this is all over. She said that he sounded really, really scared.

Good. He should be. [Orange is so not his color!]

I am thankful for the blessings of Heaven. I am so thankful for the words that were put into my mouth, and that the CO’s heart was softened on behalf of my daughter. I was prepared to be like the woman with the unjust judge [in the Scriptures] who made such a nuisance of herself that finally the judge gave her what she wanted, just to get some peace and quiet.

And by the grace of Heaven, I didn’t have to.

In knitting news, 10 inches on the stealth project yesterday, but the proportions weren’t quite right, so I’ve frogged it back to the cast-on and will see how much I get done today. I’m keeping copious notes in another draft, with pictures, so you will get to see the whole redesign process when the project is done.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Keep the Change! No, Really!

Could I just please go through The Change and be done with it? Every time I think that my ovaries have yodeled their last yodel, I get a little surprise. A periodic [pun intended] reminder that I Am Not In Charge.

For most of my life I have had PMS in one form or another: tenderness, bloating, weepiness, and the occasional desire to kick something. Around the time of my 40th birthday, I started having cramps, too. [I really should have bought stock in Midol.] And while yes, I am thankful to still have all the original equipment in the fruitful-and-multiply department, I am impatiently curious as to when the warranty is scheduled to expire.

I had it all planned out: ovaries give up the ghost, LittleBit graduates, I move to a cottage and start greening one or both thumbs, Brother Right shows up, we live happily and unfruitfully ever after. Sounds like a plan, right?

But instead I have these two mischievous Heidi’s who persist in yodeling Indian Love Call to a bunch of deaf shepherds. [As opposed to a bunch of Def Leppards.]


So while I am in aggravated mode, I have decided to put this crankiness to good use. First, I ran an idea past a friend with solid knowledge of military culture. Then I asked Middlest’s permission. I will be calling her STBX’s commanding officer. I spent yesterday fasting and praying so that I would say the right things and ask the right questions. It will be interesting to see if political correctness has entirely undermined the military establishment, or if the powers-that-be are both willing and able to exercise moral suasion on that miscreant who is living in sin in the married housing to which my daughter entitles him. And which my tax dollars pay for. I wonder what the 21st century equivalent of keelhauling is?

Casting about for a happier topic. I put roughly 3” on the stealth project yesterday, and maybe 3” on Secondborn’s birthday gift. I am pleased with the former, and I think I will be frogging the latter and starting again on larger needles. I like the pattern on both.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Southfork - the Ewing Mansion

The view from JR’s balcony.

The infamous swimming pool.

JR’s bathroom, complete with fainting couch in case your bath is just too exhausting. And way too many mirrors for this middle-aged body!

You should have seen the bedroom: a huge four-poster bed up on a platform, smack-dab in the middle of the room. The room was too dark, and too blue, and too full of co-workers, so no pictures.

Southfork is no longer a working ranch, but they do still have American Paint horses and miniature horses.

[This shows a miniature horse, not an oversize fence.] And what is a self-respecting mansion without a formal dining room?

Noro Silk Garden for a stealth project.

Yeah. A serious falling-down in a couple of yarn shops on the way home from Southfork. We will blame it on yarn fumes.

The Fixit Dude was supposed to come yesterday to paint the front doors and put up the fancy molding doodahs above them. [He did things on the other side of the duplex and on the porch; my door is still albino and undoodah’ed. On a related topic, Eloy the painter has done a bunk on us; I will not be giving his number to Trainman.] So I made a quick run to the store for milk, eggs, and probably a year’s supply of cleaning supplies. Also an 18-pack of cheapie washcloths for scrubbing my tootsies. Then I stocked the cupboard in the bathroom and whipped up a batch of pigs in blankets for breakfast. Yum!

I also bought birthday cards for my two oldest granddaughters, my sister, and Fourthborn. I remember when October was only about my sister; this is a nice “problem” to have!

I also ran to the LYS, because after reading the instructions for the stealth project, I realized that I only had half the yarn it required. And I needed another project to work on during church today. Why so? Anastasia is done!

The yarn put-up was very generous; I still have 34.4g left, which will probably go to Middlest to make doll sweaters.

Saturday, September 27, 2008


Warning: photo-heavy post.

I had a great time at the support staff retreat yesterday. We had a motivational speaker in the morning, lunch in the Ewing Mansion, and educational games (!) in the afternoon.

[Cowboy optional. And possibly superfluous.] The bed was arranged to be viewed from the other side, but there was also a small placard that said Please do not sit on the bed. As if there would have been room! I wanted a picture of the pillow that you can just barely see peeking over those white coverlets. It featured galloping horses. And probably a galloping price tag as well. LittleBit would have loved it.

OK, I’m not so much about the chickens, but look at all the neat red stuff on that table! Lots of pretty black and white things displayed throughout the gift shop. I loved this towel! [Just not enough to buy it.]

Can I get an “amen”? And these dishes!

And if you are into cows or giraffes or wine, rather than chickens. Embiggen to read the price tag. What do they think this is, Koigu?

And speaking of Koigu?

We now have a local source! This photo is a little blurry, and the colors are a lot less rich than when I am holding the skein in my hand. My sister made a quilt that featured appliqued flowers on a black background. The pastels, brights and jewel-tones simply glowed against that black. [Ruth, do you know the pattern I mean? It’s 4:00am in her time zone as I draft this post; I don’t think that my sister would be thrilled if I called her right this minute.] Something about a night garden, I think. This yarn reminds me of her quilt. But no, I am not giving her this yarn for her upcoming birthday.

Pictures of the Ewing Mansion tomorrow.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Guess Where I’m Going Today?

Here’s a clue. Now, most of you know that I work in downtown BigD. That aerial pan of the stem of Reunion Tower, and the Hyatt Regency Hotel, is just west of where I get off the train in the morning. And only a few blocks from my office building.

Today we are having our support staff retreat, and we are having it at the last place you see in that YouTube clip. Yes, after nearly 30 years of being a naturalized Texan, I am finally hitching up my pony and riding up to Southfork! [I’ll be sure to give J.R. a swift kick in his womanizing shins. He can pay one of his henchmen to pass it on to Middlest’s STBX. And I’ll hand SueEllen a pint of Ben and Jerry’s and tell her, “Enough with that trembling-lip thing. Eat some ice cream and get over it.”]

The attorneys are in charge of the phones, the fax machine, the mail, the scanning, and the flirting with the couriers.

Yes, I am taking my knitting. It’s a long, long drive from Foat Wuth Ah Luv Yew to Parker, TX. And I will be sitting in meetings for a good chunk of the morning. I am doing the there portion in two segments, stopping somewhere halfway for a hot chocolate [or a something] and some walking about, before I complete the drive. I am doing the back here portion in multiple segments, stopping at yarn shops along the way. Actual purchases are not in the budget. I will get out and walk, look at the colors and textures, stretch my legs, and maybe make new friends.

Thinking back to “Dallas”. I didn’t get to watch it very often. It was a new show when we moved to Texas after what I call The Great Ice Storm of ‘78/’79. We lived with the parents of friends for about a month until we both found work, and then we didn’t have a TV until the summer of 1984, when the children’s father was doing contract programming, and an assignment took him to the Texas Panhandle for two or three months.

My parents bought us a color TV so three little girls and I could have a bit of fun while he was gone. [He was in Amarillo with the car; I was in Irving with the kids and the money and no way to spend it, except when our home teacher’s wife took me grocery shopping every couple of weeks. I don’t remember how we got to church, only that we did.]

We watched Cosby and Mr. Rogers [and Sesame Street, long before the time when Elmo and political correctness ruined it]. I remember watching the Springsteen video of “Dancing in the Dark” on Entertainment Tonight! and missing my husband. I still love that song, particularly “…just about starvin’ tonight.” Not much has changed in 24 years, other than I am better at disciplining or ignoring my appetites.

Random fact: I was about half done with the cuff of the second Anastasia when I went to bed last night.

Good report from the dentist visit. I have happy gums! I think this is attributable to more veggies and less pasta, and to the fact that every so often, after I brush my teeth holding the brush in my dominant hand, I switch over to the other one and go over the same territory.

I opted to skip the fluoride veneer after the cleaning [nasty-tasting stuff; I would sooner chew on one of my socks!] in favor of a Breakfast Jack and some hash brown sticks on the way to the train station. I had to park in the back lot and walk down the hill, and when I was about 100 yards from the train [maybe less], the train pulled out. So I walked back up the hill, got into the car, called in to see if anybody’s monthly parking was available today. It was not.

I didn’t have enough cash for more gas and to pay for parking, so I told them I would wait for the next train, and I dashed home for a quick potty break and rode in from my regular station and not the one that is several miles due north of the dentist’s office.

And this is the part where Heaven’s fingerprints show up all over the experience. When I got off the train this morning, there was a petite middle-aged lady with a carry-on bag and a lost expression. Now, I know my way around downtown Dallas about as well as I know how to play football, but she needed to find the Greyhound station, and it is near my office. So I walked with her, and we talked. She had flown in from the Upper Midwest to Dallas, because she couldn’t get a flight to San Antonio from her home. And she needed to catch the bus to get down to the Valley [that would be the Rio Grande Valley, for you non-Texans], because her mother is turning 80 this weekend.

When we parted ways, I wished her “Vaya con Dios.” She blinked, smiled, and responded with something in liquid Spanish that at first I didn’t understand, but it came to me by way of the Spirit, and I understood her: “Igualmente.”

You, too.

When I get to be one small part of blessing a sister, how can I doubt that Heaven will sustain me when I feel lost, or lonely, or uncertain which way to walk to reach my goal?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Out, Out, D@mned Daylilies!

With apologies to Lady Macbeth and the Bard.

Ten dollars seems a very small price to pay, to learn that planting daylilies is not my idea of a Real Good Time. When I borrowed the spade on Monday night, I promised to bring it back on Wednesday. I did. I also plucked up the daylily that I had kinda-sorta planted in the front yard and took it and its moshy brothers over to Secondborn’s house.

They are both way younger than I am, and 2BDH has mad martial arts skills. If he cannot wrestle that mutinous flora into submission, then they are free to toss them into their compost pile. I am Done! With! Daylilies! I've never had a quick fling with the vegetable kingdom before. I feel triste and a little grubby.

I told Secondborn that I was going to celebrate the breakup with a pint of ice cream. But when I got to the store, I was seduced by the display of Pink Lady apples. So I bought exactly one of them and brought it home and dug out the Nutella.

Would Pink Lady apples grow here? Could I trick beg flatter persuade somebody to plant one for me? And if it prospered, then next year we could try planting a Nutella tree?

This is a big part of why Anne Perry is one of my favorite writers. I love how she thinks, and I love how she writes.

Behold, a nearly-finished first sock.

I am soldiering away on the second Anastasia. Chances are excellent that both will be done sometime this weekend, especially after tomorrow’s adventures. But that is another post for another day.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Ho! Ho! Huh?

It’s time to select my Christmas gift from corporate. Usually I have to choose between two or three items that appeal to me; this year it’s harder. I get stuff that I know I need and am not willing to spend money on. [Typically, items for family preparedness.] I have a 3/8” cordless drill, a sun shelter, a two-person tent, among other things. Also two very nice Calphalon pans, which get regular use.

So this year, do I get:
1. A new level? In case I want to hang pictures at 2:00 am and do not already have Brother Sushi’s laser level resting atop my toolbox. I have Dad’s level, but it’s vintage and about a foot long; this puppy is a yard long and also suitable for smacking home invaders upside the head should they sneak in at night to make off with my yarn stash. Or my virtue.
2. A palm sander? To take the calluses off my heels.
3. A sleeping bag? Because we know how crazy I am about camping, but it would go with the tent.
4. A square griddle? Only the other day, I was thinking how nice it would be to have one. No, I am not kidding; Brother Sushi has infected me with Kitchen Toy Virus, which as we all know is incurable.
5. Steak knives? I have one remaining of the six or eight we were given when I married the children’s father. And strictly speaking, that is sufficient for my needs. I generally eat steak two or three times a year, usually when eating out with Brother Sushi and it’s *his* turn to buy.
6. A lantern with FM radio? To listen to while camping out in the back yard in my tent?
7. A Santoku knife set? For my important chopping needs. [Girls, does this remind you of season one of Gilmore Girls? “I have important thickening needs.” Good times!]
8. A heated blanket to go into the trunk of my car? Because there is no “Armstrong heater” in my life.
9. A flash drive? Definitely on my list.
10. A digital audio player? Ditto.
11. A self-powered emergency radio? Another good item to go into my 72-hour kit. With my fishing pole.

I suppose that before I decide, it wouldn’t hurt to traipse over to the 10th Anniversary Catalog. [I qualify for that next spring.] Do a little comparison shopping, and probably make myself even crazier in the process:
1. Three-piece luggage set
2. Portable DVD player
3. Home theatre kit
4. Micro stereo system
5. Circular saw [!!!]
6. Bose around-ear headphones, because the only thing I want *in* my ears are “sweet nothings”.
7. Really amazing knife set. If I wanted to go into vaudeville, I would be set for life! May I have a volunteer from the audience?

Oh man! This isn’t helping.

Random synaptic firing: I have come up with the perfect retirement job. I could open an ice cream store and call it Custard’s Last Stand. I wonder how many other people have come up with the same idea? Wow. That many. 16,800 hits on Google, and a website. And a culinary mystery series [with recipes] set in Pennsylvania. And a movie made in 1914.

Lest you think that I have been hitting the juice, time for something serious.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Goggle Smiting and a Battle of Wits

Middlest is a lot like me, in that she sometimes hears things funny. We were discussing her STBX over pizza the other night, and I said, “God will smite him.”

What she heard was “goggle smiting”, hence the title of this post. It called to mind all sorts of funny images; thankfully, she is quite the artist. Here is her take on goggle smiting, used with permission.

That is not a bra she is brandishing at the head of her STBX; nor is it the toes of two socks on two circs. It is a pair of goggles. Just in case you were wondering.

We had a pesky salesman show up in the office yesterday. He asked to see The Boss; said that they had spoken last week, and he hoped she would be able to see him. I called her extension, gave her his name and the company he was with, and she sighed. Deeply. And asked me very politely to please tell him that she was busy.

I gave him my best Steel Magnolia smile and explained that she was very sorry, but she would not be able to see him. He asked if he could make an appointment to see her. I gave him another smile and told him that I was sorry, but I did not keep her calendar. He asked if she kept her own calendar, and I told him that she did. I smiled again. He said that he had emailed her some information. And I smiled some more and said that that was a good thing; she would have it to look over. And I took his card and promised him that I would put it in her mailbox. And I smiled some more. [He had obviously never had to deal with a woman who has raised five kids and dealt with any number of scam artists.] And I smiled some more as I put his card up in her mailbox. And he sputtered a little and smiled nervously and left.

I emailed her: I gave him my best Loni Anderson (WKRP) impression. He said he had emailed you the information. I told him that I did not make your appointments. I smiled a lot. He went away.
The Boss: Thanks for making him go away.
Me: It was fun. And that’s why you pay me the big bucks. :)
The Boss: LOL!

Then I did a little online research. I was suddenly curious about the difference between “obdurate” and “obstinate”. Obstinate = my behavior at the reception desk yesterday; obdurate is obstinate minus a moral compass [more or less]. I spent much of the rest of the day being obby-noxious [a near cousin to abby-normal].

Another nice visit with Trainman on the ride home, interspersed with knitting [for me] and reading [for him]. Oh please, oh please, oh please, when Brother Right does show up, may he be this smart and funny and kind. Just not this young.

I got the daylilies disentangled from one another. I have never seen a mosh pit, but that is the metaphor that kept coming to mind. I got one bunch planted after a quick dash down to the kids’ house at 8:00pm to borrow a spade, because the cute little 2” trowel in my gardening kit hit that sun-baked Texas turf and recoiled like a shotgun. By the time I went inside at 9:00, I had scraped a dent in the grass about 8” across and 2” deep and plunked in the daylily and mudded it over with goo from the bag it came in and poured half a gallon of water over it and taken its name in vain, in Latin. If it and all its moshy brothers are dead before I leave for the station, I will not cry for them, Argentina.

I would show you a nearly completed sock, but I had to rip back an inch or so on the train. That’s OK; I like the pattern, and I like the yarn. I am not mad at the sock. But I think that when it is time to divide the daylilies in three years, assuming any of them survive, I might use a soupçon of dynamite.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Cleanliness Is Next to the Funnybone

Clean comedy. Oh, how I’ve missed it. It is a lie that a joke or story has to be a twist on something holy, in order to be funny. [And we know who the father of all lies is.]

I think my secretarial training is going well. Some of it is beginning to make sense to me. I am still very slow at the tasks I am learning, and I have to talk myself through them, aloud, which I’m sure makes my friends in neighboring cubicles want to tear their hair out [or mine]. My friend who is training with another legal secretary says that she still feels as if she is riding on the short bus, but every day or so she moves a seat closer to the front of the bus. Me too. [Meaning no disrespect to anyone who has ever ridden on the short bus, for whatever reason.] But one of these days, she and I will both be *driving* the bus. And that gives us hope.

No training today, however, as it is Monday and therefore our day to deal with buckets of incoming mail. And maybe catch up our respective in-baskets.

Behold: heels!

I all but finished one during Relief Society yesterday, and I turned the other heel after dinner. Then I celebrated by slicing a small, crisp Fuji apple and dredging the slices through my jar of Nutella.

I have parked one of the socks on my 000 needle while I finish the other sock using Magic Loop. A 32” needle is just that much too short for me to comfortably work two socks on one needle.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

By the Waters of Babylon

My friend Tinks sent me a link the other day and asked “What song is this?” I first heard it on Don MacLean’s American Pie album, where it is simply called Babylon. Or scroll down this link to the Royal Albert Hall.

This is one of those songs that reaches down into my soul and stirs up feelings that are woven into my DNA. I cannot explain it.

Here is another version, done on a layering machine. [I wonder if that is one of the tools that Enya uses?] I didn’t care much for his voice at first, but after he applies layer after layer it becomes a wonderful gift. Be sure to check out his ikat shirt and all the lovely handwoven textiles in the background!

Yes, I’m the one at the movies who ignores major plot points to exclaim, “Look at that quilt! Girls, do you see that quilt? Isn’t that gorgeous?!!” [Forest? What forest? Check out this tree.]

In other breaking news, did you know that if the freezing compartment of your fridge is overstuffed, when you open the door to take out a package of refrigerator pie crusts to thaw to make a quiche for dinner, and one individual serving of frozen trees-and-cheese leaps to its doom, the concussion will separate the plastic film from the container and frozen bits of broccoli will scatter all over the kitchen like Ms. Ravelled running a pool table? The bright side is that the ratio of cheese-to-trees is vastly improved. [This also explains why I was eating trees-and-cheese at 3:42 on Saturday morning, when any sensible insomniac would have been OD’ing on Ben and Jerry’s.]

The quiche turned out OK. Not brilliant, but OK. I thought I had wrung every last drop of water out of the cooked spinach before combining everything, but apparently I hadn’t. So instead of serving up nice triangular presentations, I scooped set parts from the perimeter into bowls, and we ate it with spoons.

The conversation, however, was brilliant. Wide-ranging and comforting in the way that only time with a dear friend can be. We laughed. We cried maybe a little. We ate quiche, with a side of cherry pie filling, and I nuked some fish fillets with the lemon/dill sauce while we waited for the quiche to stop sloshing. [I had baked it for 45 minutes, and then for another 15; I think the mushy parts will be just fine if I scoop them into a bowl and nuke them for a couple of minutes.] We used my good stemware, and in a nod to frugality, the “happy graduation 1998” napkins that the ex-boyfriend gave me in 2000 or 2001 when the local chapter of Parents Without Partners lost their lease and/or their oomph and closed down. I am finally making a dent in them! [The napkins, not the other single parents.]

So what else happened yesterday? I got a much-needed haircut. I picked up the daylilies, which are resting inelegantly in a huge plastic bag on the porch. I spent fifteen minutes or so, just before bedtime, doing research on how to transplant them. I nipped over to the laundromat and did a load of whites. I’ll go back Monday or Wednesday and do the rest of the laundry. And I worked about half of the gusset increases on Anastasia.

What happens today? Church, of course, and a brief meeting about visiting teaching, and then dinner with the Bitties and their parents. I am looking forward to hearing about Secondborn’s adventures at her new job. But for now there will be leftovers for breakfast and then a whole lot of lovely [and unargumentative?] knitting.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

New Pillars? What New Pillars?

I got home so late on Thursday night that I was barely awake enough to unlock the front door. Much too tired to remember to plug my cell phone into the charger. So when I turned it on after charging it up yesterday morning, there was some old business to take care of. And a couple of new voicemails. And one small mystery cleared up.

Namely, how did my disposable paint tray get from the floor under the bathroom sink, into the kitchen sink? Because the waterbugs did not emulate their smaller, computer-generated cousins from Enchanted and finish painting my bedroom walls while I was at work.

My friend borrowed it to paint these: new porch pillars.

And scrubbed it within an inch of its life and left me a voicemail asking, “What do you think?”

I think I need more sleep. How on earth could I have walked right past them and not noticed? [Oh yeah. See paragraph one.] I wish you could see them close at hand. They really do spiff up the porch. Here’s a shot from almost the end of the sidewalk, because the house numbers have not gone back up as yet.

Hard to believe this was the only ungentrified cottage on the street when I moved in three months ago. I should be picking up daylilies from the Nail Dude later today. [He has a second business growing daylilies and iris.] He can’t guarantee the color, but he’s made me a deal on a big bundle of bulbs. I think I will plant them where the sidewalk ends.

I cannot believe that I forgot that yesterday was “Talk Like a Pirate Day”. I pulled this from Barb’s blog. Loved it, especially because I work in a law office. Argggh!

Also on the agenda today are the gusset increases for Anastasia. I hope to have both heels turned by the time I go to church tomorrow, at which point both balls of yarn ought to be small enough that I can tuck them into their respective socks for greater portability and less tangling.

The children’s father is settling in at the nursing home. When Firstborn visited him on Thursday, he already had two new friends. I’m invited to dinner at Secondborn’s after church tomorrow. I may swing by and see how he’s doing. Or, since I visited him at the VA Hospital earlier this week, I might give it a couple of weeks.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Well, Look at This!

When we were doing that whole hide the key in the middle of the English gentleman thing earlier this week [“Basil”, which I always pronounce “bazzle”, as in “Rathbone”, not “basal” as in “ganglia”; this was Middlest’s metaphor, which we thought hilarious; your mileage may vary], the soil was still damp from all of the rain we have had because of Ike and his predecessors.

Thursday morning, when I retrieved the old key because we have disposed of its lock-set, I poked my finger into the soil and realized that it was time to water again.

I had not watered the tomatoes in maybe ten days. I’ve pretty much given up on the left-hand plant; the critters have tunneled away in the leaves long enough that it is just barely hanging on. But look what I saw when I gave the right-hand plant a little swig:

Tomato blossoms! [This picture taken about 7:45 at night.] I grinned all the way to the train station.

Anastasia behaved herself all day; lots of progress here. Also some pooling on the soles.

And even more pooling on the public side. With a side order of striping.

There neither pooling nor striping on either of the mismatched socks that I frogged to make these. I still love these socks; what I have lost in randomness of color is more than made up for by the fact that both will fit my feet.

I got so involved in conversation with one of my train friends last night [about her crocheting and my knitting and the book she is writing, and the draft that is in my filing cabinet] that I forgot to get off two stations before the terminal. I didn’t realize this until I stepped off the train, saw no sign of Lorelai, and then remembered boarding the train at Richland Hills. Back onto the train I went, for more happy knitting. I got home almost an hour later than normal. Thank goodness for cold pizza in the fridge!

As soon as Middlest emails me the illustration she has promised, I will have more delicious nonsense for all y’all.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Good People of River City

Every Wednesday we get a mass email from corporate which contains links to employee classified ads. There is a pool table for sale locally at a ridiculously low sum. It would have to be disassembled and reassembled. Thankfully, I know somebody with a truck who professes fondness for my cooking. [Brief pause while my children stop laughing and wiping their eyes.] Unfortunately for me, there is nowhere to set up a pool table in my beloved duplex. So his back and his knees and his truck bed and his sanity are all perfectly safe. At least from me. At least in terms of moving a pool table from Point A to my duplex.


I still remember the look of amazement on the girls’ faces when I sank four balls one after the other, smooth as Sea Silk, at Willow’s graduation party.

There is also a pot rack with two lights that is designed to hang over a kitchen island; you know, the kitchen island that I do not have. And somebody is looking for “a bike trailer that holds 1-2 children and any brand”.

Let me go on the record that children should be riding in the car, not strapped like deer onto a bike trailer. And they should definitely not be branded. Though I wouldn’t have objected to a mute button when mine were around four or so.

More wisdom from Dr. Wally. And from Larry Barkdull.

During a recent phone conversation, a friend commented on this renewed and continuing involvement in the care-giving for the children’s father. I told her I was just following her own good example. She is a very private person, so I will simply state that her ex-husband has significant health challenges, and she has the expertise to assist him, and she has set aside her issues to help him deal with his.

One of my co-workers has an ex-husband whose failings are many and spectacular; I think if you added the human weaknesses of my other friend’s ex-husband to those of the children’s father, and tossed in my own, there would still be room for more weight on our side of the scale. She questioned me closely over lunch the other day and concluded that there was a strong likelihood she would end up taking care of him when his health choices caught up with him. She was not looking forward to it!

You know, I have only ever wanted to be one of the sheep. [Well, maybe one of the more obedient goats. Goats are smarter than sheep.] Following the leader over hill and down dale, one foot after the other until I am safely Home. I have seldom consciously sought to be a leader, except with my girls. So it is unnerving to have somebody outside the family looking to me for advice, or an example worth following.

I will confess that when the girls were at home, I frequently felt like an underfed, unappreciated Sheltie. Yapping, nipping, getting in their dear little sheepie faces and barking until they changed direction. And occasionally dragging one of them bodily from the edge of some precipice. [I wouldn’t be surprised if each of them could show you scars from where I bit harder than was perhaps strictly necessary; even Shelties get exasperated once in awhile.]

I sure didn’t want to be in charge. Unlike some people. [Thank you, SuburbanCorrespondent!]

It is a very good thing that I no longer live in an apartment. When I watched that video, I chortled and hooted in a most unseemly manner. I was nearly as noisy as the Katrina refugees who held Mardi Gras day and night, upstairs from me at the Suddenly Scary Apartments. Unlike those neighbors, I managed to refrain from drumming on walls, countertops, and any other surface that might resonate into the next county.

Returning briefly to the topic of the children’s father, we appear to have more good news. The VA has found a nursing home for him that is not five minutes from Secondborn’s house. 2BDH says he will be able to drop by often and make sure that nobody is beating him.

I hear y’all waiting for the punchline. Well yes, there is the smallest possible charcoal grey lining to this rainbow-spangled cloud. He will not be in my ward, true; but he will be in the same ward as two men I have dated and the one that 2BDH would love for me to date. Odds are excellent that at least one of them will get assigned to be his home teacher.

We now return you to the all-me, all-the-time channel. The outfit I put together for yesterday, really worked. I got so many compliments, and I felt pretty all day, or at least until halfway through the drive home, when I just felt tired. Since I had a date with Middlest for pizza and chatter, I left the house early enough to park at the station where I usually go when I have Knit Night. Once I got on the freeway and was headed for the exit onto I-35, everything turned into a parking lot on both freeways. So I headed south, made a U-turn, and headed east on I-30 into Dallas.

So, no Trainman yesterday. He has no idea what a vision he missed! He won’t be on the train tonight, because he has Thursday nights with his kidlet. No, I am not pining. Don’t be silly. But I will definitely miss the good conversation, the restaurant recommendations, the cultural observations, and yes, the easiness-on-the-eyes.

Maybe there will be somebody on the train tonight who is almost as enjoyable and closer to my age?

Minimal progress on the socks yesterday, but they no longer resemble sunglasses [or a bikini top]. Secretarial training went well. And now if you will all excuse me, there is some cold pizza calling my name.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Domo Arigato, Noro-San

So, I laid out my outfit yesterday morning: teal pants, dark chocolate brown T-shirt, leopard/paisley scarf, brown beaded suede jacket, brown socks, thinking “I want to feel pretty on the train.” You know, just in case there was an opportunity to flirt. And realizing two things: (1) I was not going to make the train and would have to drive, and (2) we have visitors coming to the office today and I need to look nice for them.

Two birds. One color-coordinated slingshot with an assortment of semi-precious stones.

I have had these Iranian donkey beads for over 20 years. The first one [don’t ask me which one it is] belonged to my mother-in-law. I found nine others at a shop not too far from where I am now living. For the past 20-some years they have been threaded on an aqua suede shoelace [20 years ago I would have said “thong”, but that word has been co-opted], which over time has faded and become exceedingly grubby.

This is what I did after church on Sunday. Four yards of skinny black leather cord and a handful of knots give me this. I also polished Mom’s turquoise ear studs. Exceedingly blurry; sorry.

This is what I wore to work yesterday. Taken by my good friend C. [Somebody is in serious need of a haircut.]

Very comfy in the office yesterday. One of my friends kept saying, “I’m so cold!” To which I would reply with a grin, “I’m not.”

Since I had the car, I drove down to the VA Hospital after work and before my HFPE meeting at church. The children’s father looks way better than he did this time last week. They are taking good care of him. He was able to walk a little on Monday, without assistance. His speech was clearer, and he used the word modicum [correctly, and in context].

According to Firstborn, the medical staff is cautiously optimistic about getting him into assisted living rather than a nursing home, when he’s ready to leave the hospital. They are looking both in Fort Worth and Arlington. Speaking strictly for myself, I hope they find him a place in Arlington, because the hospital district is within my ward boundaries. If he ever returns to activity in the church, which would be a good thing, I would prefer it not to be in my ward. I am tired of moving.

[Forgiveness is one thing; masochism is another.]

Much happy knitting yesterday. More of the same is in the forecast for today. And now if you will all excuse me, I need to go spiff up for work and/or the commute.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Progress, on several fronts

Yesterday was the first day in maybe a week and a half that I had been able to really focus on the task at hand, particularly at work. With the help of Backup #2, she who is training as a legal secretary in the mornings while I am training in the afternoons, I was able to whittle down my scanning inbox from about two reams’ worth to one attorney’s worth.

Thankfully, we were not hip-deep in mail yesterday. On normal days, we have the 9:00 mail that we go pick up at the post office. And then there is the rest of the mail, which gets brought to our building around 11:00. On Mondays, there is the Saturday mail waiting in our box; if I am lucky, I have that done by the time I get my hands on the 9:00 mail, and if my luck holds, I am through with that before the deluge at 11:00.

We don’t do secretarial training on Mondays, either of us, because of the mail. It is our catch-up day, except when it is our we are drowning more slowly than usual day. So, now it is Tuesday, and I can look forward to training this afternoon because my desk was somewhat under control last night. I am hoping for a middling amount of mail [for those of you who just tuned in, I open all the mail except personal mail, separate it from its envelope, date-stamp it and take out all the staples so that our primary scanning operator can feed her scanner without having to stop and un-jam it because a stapled sheaf of paperwork tried to go through as one page] this morning so that I can polish off the last of yesterday’s scanning. I scan all the fax confirmations, all the conformed copies, and all the attorney notes. We are, in theory, a paperless office. Many of the plaintiff attorney offices are not.

Memo to self. I also need to tidy my desk before going home tonight, because we are having guests tomorrow.

Behold: knitting progress. I think I am beginning to get the hang of two socks on two circs. Though I did manage to knit one half with the wrong needle while chatting with Trainman on the ride home last night. He was wearing a gorgeous red shirt. With an even more gorgeous red tie. We know how I am about red. I was a little distracted.

[Does this look like a pair of Technicolor sunglasses to you?] I am almost halfway up the feet. And they match in size! By the time I have enjoyed two train rides, two breaks at work, one lunch hour, and Home Family and Personal Enrichment meeting at Relief Society tonight, I ought to have easily passed that mark. I don’t think this will ever be my favorite way of knitting socks [but then I didn’t think I would like Magic Loop, either, and I do]. This lovely yarn has been sitting in time-out far too long, and I like the pattern, and I want a pair of finished socks.

I’ve mentioned how small my new ward is. They asked for a show of hands in RS on Sunday, as to who would be at HFPE tonight, and thirteen hands went up. Plus four more in Young Women’s and Primary. Seventeen women out of either 103 or 130 who are on the rolls. How do we strengthen the women who will not be there? My Augean inbox is trivial in comparison.

I came home after work last night and a detour to the grocery store, to nuke a latte cup full of last week’s leek and potato soup. And then I had a few bites of the pear-cinnamon-caramel ice cream that I picked up. I don’t eat a lot of pears, probably because for me they go from rock hard to ready for the compost heap in what seems like the blink of an eye. So while this ice cream is delicious, I also think it is lost on me, because I cannot pick out something as being distinctly pear-ish. It's not like Ben and Jerry’s New York Etc. Etc., where I can recognize each kind of nut as I crunch into it, or the various kinds of chocolate.

Maybe I should shake hands with a few more pears this winter? I think a field trip to Central Market might be in order...

Monday, September 15, 2008

Resurrected drafts and other stuff

Every so often I sift through the fragments I have saved as drafts to see if anything is still interesting and/or useful. I saved this link in May. Wonderful article about agency and faith and trust; I needed to read it then, and I needed to reread it now, after the family drama of the past week and a half.

I like learning new things. Really, I do. I don’t know why I waited so long to learn to knit socks. Maneuvering four or five DP’s was an interesting experience [not quite in the Chinese sense] that soon became natural. Ditto the Magic Loop technique, which is more practical for commuter knitting. It’s harder to drop an entire sock than to send a single DP somersaulting through the air and onto the floor of the train car. Ask me how I know.

And now I am tackling two socks on two circs, with the right sock being a mirror image of the left sock. At the moment I feel as I did on Day Two of GLM ski lessons, back when I was married to FirstHubby. I was OK on the bunny slope with 3-foot skis and no poles and maybe a 2% grade. And now you’ve given me skis that are 33% longer and poles and sent me higher up the mountain.

I wanted to get through one repeat of the pattern [which was rapidly coming back to me because I had worked 1.5 socks in Anastasia’s prior incarnation] before heading off to church. The bishop doesn’t mind my knitting at church; he would almost certainly have had a problem with childbirth words in the chapel. As would I.

Well, I didn’t make that goal before church, but I also didn’t swear. Not even under my breath. Not even when I discovered that I had knit the sole stitches with the instep needle, leaving the sole needle in a gleaming huddle on my lap and all four halves on the instep needle.

I am slowly getting the hang of this, but at the moment it still feels as if I am dealing with one ball of yarn too many, not to mention two more needle ends than I am used to when wielding a circ. Yes, still half as many as when I use DP’s, but those do not writhe and flail about when not in use like a toddler by the Hershey bars in the checkout line at dinnertime.

Are you ready for some inane fortunes? I was not. But here they are, courtesy of yesterday’s lunch. Too small for me to photograph clearly, so I recreated them in Word and saved them in Paint.


Who thinks these things up? Is there a room where burnouts from the 1960’s type nonsense into notebooks while another computer generates random lotto numbers for the reverse side?

No Brother Silver Fox at church yesterday, though I did elicit a chuckle out of Brother Marginally Grumpy when I went through logistics with the elders and told them I would do a drive-by fooding because the wife in the couple I had asked to bring the elders with them to dinner was under the weather today, and my home teacher [who doesn’t drive] was house-sitting for another family in the ward.

I ended up making a quiche, with garlic jack cheese, spinach, and cut up Little Smokies. They got fed, I get blessed, and the proprieties have been preserved. Woohoo!s all around.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Irony is Not Lost on Me

That in our careful efforts to speak and to be understood on Wednesday, the children’s father and I communicated better, notwithstanding his recent series of strokes, than we have in over a decade. And that if we *had* been better able to focus this carefully on hearing and understanding one another, we might still be married.

OK, this is brilliant. He usually is.

Anastasia is puttering along, two socks side-by-side on two circs, with the instep on my Addi Lace 00’s and the sole on 000’s. Once I have completed the heels, I will finish the legs on 00’s. I hied meself to the LYS and picked up an Addi needle gauge, which should forestall any more socks being mismatched due to [ahem] having been knit up on different size needles. I picked up my two favorite scarves from the dry cleaners.

Did I mention that for the better part of a week I’ve been airing the smoky scarf purchased on eBay, by hanging it in front of the window unit in my studio? The Vera, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind. The Vera is blowin’ in the wind... And I’m thinking that in another week or so she will not smell as if she had been hanging out in the local pool parlor.

Kirsten, I bought those two books you recommended. Peace Like a River is devouring my knitting time. Just thought you should know.

In the Small World department, I found out recently that one of my blog readers is related to somebody in my ward. Take that, Kevin Bacon, with your six degrees of separation! [Ms. PrivateBlog, thank you for sending her over to say how-do.]

I have been eating my way through Fort Worth this weekend. Well, not today; we all know that I keep my taste buds at home on the Sabbath. Dinner at the pancake house on Friday. Leftovers for breakfast on Saturday. Frozen custard at a nearby shop after getting my nails done yesterday afternoon. A burger at another local institution last night. I had eaten at their outlet in Arlington just before moving, but not at one of the original locations.

I noticed last night that the moon is full, or near as needs no mention; that might explain the strange dips and turns my emotional terrain has taken over the past few days. Or it might just be backwash from all the family drama. Which now appears, mercifully, to be simmering down.

I wonder if that Silver Fox will be back in Sunday School class today?

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Creativity and Cross-Pollination

When I was knitting up a storm and knocking out simple sweater commissions in a week, back in the mid-1980’s, I was doing it in something of a vacuum. A quilting friend gave me the first three issues of Knitters, which she found did not engage her the way that quilting did. From there, I discovered EZ and Jackie Fee’s Sweater Workshop Book, which led to spinning and weaving [and a lovely exchange of letters with Ms. Fee herself].

I had picked up tatting a few years before that. I have been in the Quilters Guild of Dallas [twice, most recently in 2003] and the Dallas Handweavers and Spinners Guild [a better match for my interests and personality]. I refined my color sense when working one day a week in a quilt shop in 1982 and early 1983, before Middlest was born; I learned so much from the other women in the shop. And each new thing that I learn enhances the crafts and techniques I have already learned.

Those were good beginnings. And the internet has blessed my life and my creativity with so much more. It’s like the difference between counting with fingers and toes, and using the calculator on my computer’s toolbar. Because of the internet, I met my local knitting group. People in Hong Kong and South Africa and Ireland read my blog and have become, or are becoming, friends. My knitting life is becoming ever more chronicled and orderly, thanks to Ravelry, although its queueing function may be the death of me.

Up to now, I have bought yarn for its color, a knitterly manifestation of Oh!Look!Shiny! Or for its fiber; what Fourthborn called rubby when she was little. But now I can research a yarn before buying it to see what other knitters’ experience has been. When I was studying yarn substitutions for one of the cardi’s in my queue, I eliminated two yarns because splittiness was an issue. [For the muggles in my family, if a yarn is composed of multiple plies of yarn twisted together, and the twist isn’t properly balanced, or the fibers are particularly pig-headed, you can put the tip of your needle through the yarn while knitting a stitch, which leaves little loopies on the surface of your fabric.]

A knitter whose work I discovered recently, has a skein of the Claudia hand-painted silk laceweight yarn [like that turquoise and brown magnificence which I bought for my birthday this year] in her stash. She is planning to knit it up with a fine strand of laceweight merino in a compatible color. I wrote her:

I hadn’t thought of stranding the Claudia with another yarn. That might help to keep the slipperiness under some degree of control. Otherwise, I will probably have to knit it up on Addi Natura’s, and I am so spoiled by the pointiness of the KP Harmony’s but think they would be too slick.

I am so frustrated with the KP Alpaca Cloud that I have frogged twice, that I’ve listed it on Ravelry. I wonder if I would like it better if I stranded it with their Shadow, which I love, or with Gloss Lace, which I *adore*?

Thus far, knock wood, the new incarnation of Anastasia seems to be going well. I knit the toes on my new cheapie Susan Bates aluminum DP’s, on 000’s and have transferred the first toe to the circs. I'm about a third of the way done with the second toe and should have it done in an hour or so. And then the adventure begins.

Trainman was AWOL on the commute last night. I had my knitting and the thought of dinner with Brother Sushi to console me. We went to the soul food restaurant that Trainman had recommended, only to be greeted at the door by the sad news that they were already closed for the night. It is literally a family restaurant, and apparently when the food is gone, they are done. [It was nice to see someone standing in the doorway to greet us; we wondered why the parking lot seemed empty. We got there an hour before their website said that they close.] At least we know where they are, for future reference.

We went to the pancake house. Next time, I am taking my camera. Three plates: one for my salad, one for my ginormous chicken fried steak and a third for my mashed potatoes, garlic bread, and glazed carrots. I was just barely able to eat half of my dinner, in spite of being mama-bear-waking-in-the-springtime-hungry by the time we got there. These are the leftovers.

And yes, those carrots taste every bit as good as they look.

Getting my nails done this afternoon, and probably a haircut too. Tomorrow I feed the missionaries, so there’s that shopping to do. I will probably place that KnitPicks order I’ve been rambling on about, possibly including three skeins of something to knit up with the Alpaca Cloud that is currently sitting in the corner pondering its misbehavior.

Friday, September 12, 2008

More cats, more dogs, more little fishes

I drove home on Wednesday night through a downpour so enthusiastic that it could only be termed a frog-strangler. Visibility was maybe twenty feet at 4:30pm. It was so nice to pull into the driveway and see this on the porch.

Which now looks like this.

The steps and the apron of the front porch, plus the side porches, will all be stained and sealed. And the Floor Dude came and replaced the water-damaged laminate in my bedroom.

But I bet you came here to see what I came up with for commuter knitting. Well, I emptied a couple of boxes last night, where I found the mismatched Anastasia socks, a missing Addi 0 circ, my Addi Lace 00 circ, and the Addi 000 circ that I thought was missing. I also solved the mystery regarding the mismatched socks. I had knit one on a 00 needle and the other on the 000 needle. So I frogged them both back to nothing and will start from scratch. And I think I will try Wendy’s trick of using a smaller needle for the sole of the sock and a larger one for the instep, and knit two socks on two circs and see if I like that any better.

The light here in the duplex is naturally brighter than that in the interim apartment. I think that is why I couldn’t see that I was working with two needle sizes. That, and I haven’t sprung for the Addi needle gauge. I may rectify that omission tomorrow.

I found several patterns in one of those boxes: some for finished objects, others for projects that are sitting in timeout as the Anastasia socks have been for about five months. And maybe something to knit for one of the six birthdays that will smite my checkbook sanity reserves available knitting time between now and the first week of November.

That’s just the patterns I already had on hand; the new Knitty is up. My Ravelry queue is now four projects longer. I had better hope that I live to be 100. Is this me, or what?

In family news, when I turned on the phone yesterday morning there was a text message from Firstborn, time-stamped 1:34am, telling me that they had just gotten their father admitted into the VA Hospital and were heading home. She had to go back later to fill out more paperwork, but he is now safe and supervised, and the girls can all gear down from emergency mode to we-love-our-Dad mode. I hope the improved unity continues, now that the crisis appears to be past.

His sister flies back to her convent this morning. It was so good to see her again; I only wish it had been under better circumstances. She has grown into the spitting image of my dear late mother-in-law.

Middlest called me shortly after I got home, inviting me over for red beans and rice. Sometime in the last three years, she has learned to cook! And I suspect that her culinary skills will continue to blossom, now that she is surrounded by love and people who have fewer dietary quirks than her STBX.

I took a raincheck on dinner, as work was particularly intense yesterday. My backup had been unable to do any of my duties because she had had to help deal with an insane amount of mail on Wednesday. And yesterday afternoon I finally got to go into the back office and resume training with one of the legal secretaries. By the time I got home, I was channeling Greta Garbo and only vont[ed] to be let alone. It has been a harrowing week for the tribe, moreso for the others than for me but still grueling, and my weekend is scheduled to the hilt.

I was twelve hours off when I reset the time on my alarm clock last night. [My room got severely shuffled in order to replace those floorboards.] Thankfully, I woke up about half an hour after the alarm was set to go off. But now I have to scurry if I want to make the train.

I leave you with this.

Marital advice from the local transit company.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Marching to Pretoria

This in honor of my friend Ruth, whose husband had to drive there for something to do with passports.

I tried to find a YouTube with the Smothers Brothers’ version. That's where I first heard it. Here’s another classic. Vicious crevasses. Not to mention pumas.

Which led to this, both versions of Mason Williams’ Classical Gas. This song makes me understand why a group of larks is called an exaltation. Santana’s Smooth gives me that same sense of fierce, aching joy.

Which then led to this. I didn’t know that Clapton had recorded it, too. Exquisite, but this may be the only song he has recorded where I like another version better.

Secondborn found her father’s DD-214 [honorable discharge papers] at his apartment. This greatly increases the chances that they can get him into the VA hospital. Two non-interested parties witnessed him signing a DNR order and a medical POA. I called my office and got a link for a reliable financial POA, which Firstborn has saved and printed off her computer. That way the kids can make sure that his bills get paid [and the charming people with the get rich quick schemes, do not].

Middlest is wonderful. Looks good, so relieved to be home, fixed lunch for her dad and her aunt, and kept us entertained with funny stories. I left Firstborn’s just before rush hour and between rainstorms. I ran a couple of errands for the tribe and even managed to score the two remaining red aluminum crochet hooks that I lacked to make my series as complete as I think I will ever need. Who says good things don’t come to those who wait?

I did not take MS4 with me yesterday. That alpaca yarn, while lovely to touch, has lemming tendencies: the stitches like to crowd around the tip of the needle and push one another off. And then the dropped stitches like to holler “Geronimo!” and race to the bottom of the stole. So, I frogged it and have listed the yarn as for sale or trade on Ravelry. Which means that I need to come up with a commuter project. I will take a look at Friday’s clue on MS4 and see if I want to cast on again with a different yarn.

Dinner last night: a quarter of a canteloupe that I had bought and forgotten. A nectarine that was beginning to look like the before shot in an anti-ageing-serum ad. Six perfect meatballs. An individual portion of trees-and-cheese. Two small slices of bread from near the heel. A reasonable serving of those delectable sweet potato oven fries. And a snickerdoodle for dessert, because I had been doing unto others all day, and it was time to take care of myself.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Through a Glass, Darkly

As I drove in to work yesterday, I saw a business decal on the back window of a pickup truck: Advanced Shades and Shutters. This would be as opposed to Remedial ones?

Yesterday was one of those good news / bad news days. First a bit of good news. My sister-in-law flew in from CA yesterday. [The IRS says she is still my sister-in-law; the IRS is bigger than the State of Texas, besides which I have never had any quarrel with her.] I asked for half a day of PT, but given the circumstances, the office manager told me to take PM [permission morale]. So Secondborn and her tribe did the actual picking-up, and I helped with the hugging, and we all met up at the hospital later.

We found out, more or less on the way to the hospital, that they had released the children’s father and were basically just waiting for somebody to fetch him. They went spelunking for blood clots yesterday and found none, so since he is on Medicare and the neurologist had already signed off with orders for assisted living, out onto the ice floe he goes, and watch out for polar bears. They did find one of the managed-care people who hadn’t gone home for the day, and she was warm and compassionate and a font of useful information, which the girls now have.

OK, more good news. Middlest’s STBX got her a one-way emergency ticket home via the Navy Marine Corp Relief Society [my cynical guess is that this cost him nothing; I am just cranky enough to hope that it was obscenely expensive and that he will have to live on PBJ’s for a couple of weeks]. I will pick her up this morning. She is bringing two suitcases and a backpack and will deal with getting the rest of her stuff home to Texas, later.

Firstborn and his sister got the children’s father to Firstborn’s house last night, where the rest of the tribe met up. [I went on to Knit Night.] In spite of a serious mucking-out on Sunday after church, his place is no place for a stroke patient. His bedroom is upstairs, and there are a bajillion other issues. He does not know what year it is. He cannot feed himself.

He had another stroke last night at Firstborn’s, shortly after they got him there. They called 911. I do not know where he is at the moment, but the girls are capable and incensed.

My job, and my very great pleasure, is to pick up Middlest at the airport. I had planned on keeping her all to myself for the first few hours, but obviously that’s gone by the wayside. I called the office as soon as I knew that she was flying in and told them that since I hadn’t seen my dear girl for two years [I think it might be closer to three], I wanted to spend the day with her.

Kristen, thank you for the book recommendations. I suspect one or more of them will come home with me later today.

MS4 is on the needles. The extremely fiddly foundation rows are done, plus two rows of pattern on Clue 1. I am knitting both halves at once, from opposite ends of the ball. I am using the beads leftover from MS3, and I am liking the Alpaca Cloud for this project.

And now I am going to see if my phone is done charging, because I expect a call from Middlest in the next hour or so. I think I will eat the second half of that potato from Monday night. I inhaled the second half of the chocolate mousse cake about 15 seconds after locking the front door last night. Almost, as I might have said earlier, a religious experience.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Ramblings and the royal we

This is going to bug some of you who see the importance of chastity and fidelity differently than I do. Nevertheless, I give it a resounding “amen”. I read Laura Brotherson’s column in Meridian on a regular basis, and I subscribe to her newsletter re: marital intimacy. [I would really, truly like to get things right next time, if there is a next time.]

My friend Sooz has another great column in Meridian. Like her, I am thankful for those of you who read my blog and have extended your friendship. Every blessed one of you is a miracle in my life.

I finished binding off Adamas on the ride into work. I started reading Hitchhiker’s Guide on my break. You know how Auntie Mame sang, “We need a little Christmas?” Well, I need a little lunacy at the moment, and I would prefer that it not come from within the four walls of my own brainpan.

Yes, I know I said I didn’t know if this was the right time to read it. I still don’t. But I’m trying again. I know that I don’t have the patience just now to tackle the second volume in the Twilight series. I think I would get irritated with Bella’s immaturity [she’s 18; she’s *supposed* to be a little immature, at least in today’s US culture; but still].

Have I mentioned recently how much I love my job and the people I work with? I went into work all fragile and frazzled, and by lunchtime I was feeling relatively normal. Of course, as Middlest is always quick to point out, there is normal-people normal, and then there is our-family normal. I might still be an ant or two short of a picnic, in terms of being fully functional. But I feel way better than I did on Monday morning.

Great visit with Trainman on the ride home. He was incredulous that I live so close to Central Market and had never tried their chocolate mousse cake. Says he, “We will just have to go to Central Market tonight and get you some of that cake.”

I flap my eyebrows at him, “Oh, we are going to do this, are we?”

“Yes, we are.” [Well, we didn’t. But I did. Also more dolmas, a small but perfect salmon steak, and a baking potato. Dinner last night was half of that potato, all of that salmon nuked with the lemon-dill sauce, and half of the chocolate mousse cupcake that I bought. I was not about to buy a whole cake that cost over $22.00! That’s three or more books off the bargain rack, or a skein of Cherry Tree Hill sock yarn!]

That cake is almost a religious experience. My mouth has not been that happy since the last time I was well-and-truly kissed!

OK, time for a topic which does not threaten to undo all that lovely chocolate-induced endorphin haze. Behold the kitchen window and its shutters.

The somewhat blurry decorative gable vent.

And my porch light [as yet unphotographed] is now motion-sensitive. Woohoo!

Monday, September 08, 2008

Mel, and more re: stilettos

While reading the label on my new ginormous bottle of hand soap, I saw the tag “mel[honey]”. Which got me to thinking. Is that the same root as mellifluous? Yes. Is that the essence of why Mel Gibson = eye candy? Maybe.

In knitting news, I am binding off Adamas. And likely to be doing so for the next several years. Definitely a case of “pioneer children sang as they walked and walked and walked and walked and [knit].”

I received a warm response from the author of Widows Wear Stilettos, and a gracious correction.

We could have called ourselves, “Widows Aren't All Retired With Grandchildren” or “Not All Widows Get to be Married for 50 Years”...but Widows Wear Stilettos is far more uplifting. Moreover, one of our primary missions is to break the “stereotype” that the world has of widows and I'm pleased to be a part of that mission...

As to the “appropriateness” of the book and CD for sale, the book is not sold through the website at all. It is being sold at all major bookstores (in store and online). These are the exact same stores and sites that carry hundreds of other self-help tools; including other books for widows. The CD was produced a year ago in response to an overwhelming demand for immediate help (since the world of publishing does not move very quickly)...If you are issuing a “caveat emptor” concerning the “appropriateness” of our products; the same must hold for every other self-help book, CD and healing tool on the market.

Amen, sister, amen!

The website has bulletin boards, and all are welcome, even old widows. And menfolk. And me, the grass widow with my clogs and my Wal-Mart jeans. What a nice, nice lady!

I’d like to clarify that I was passing on wearing stilettos, not on her book or the website. [That was perhaps not entirely clear; it’s been a grueling weekend, and my internal editor needs chocolate.] Over the years I’ve had multiple surgeries on both feet, and the idea of lifting my heels up into the stratosphere, no matter how red and shiny the shoes, just gives me the willies. And possibly a nosebleed from the altitude.

Kicking up my heels, however, is another story, just so long as I kick within the bounds that the commandments establish. For me, the answer to the musical question “when is it appropriate to have a sleepover date?” is “after you say I do”. I have no idea what counsel she gives in her book, or on her CD, or on the website, or if she even addresses that topic. But that is where the idea of appropriateness came in.

I think I remember reading on the intranet at work that there is a chapter on all the stupid things people tell young widows. Maybe it’s on the CD; that alone would probably be worth the purchase price.

My friend Kristen had a great post yesterday. Go read it; I’ll wait right here for you. Our lessons in church were about unity, and our recent adventures in the family have had me thinking about what is to me a worrisome lack thereof. So, what I read on her blog ties in with themes I have been pondering for quite awhile.

But I will have to save the pontification for later, for there is news [sortof] on the children’s father. Not a TIA. Not a small stroke as we had thought. Big stroke. Very big stroke, affecting both sides of his brain, and not the first stroke; “one of a handful” is what Firstborn passed on to me. The maintenance man’s CPR while waiting for the EMT’s to arrive, almost certainly saved his life. That, and LittleBit’s quick thinking.

He is in the hospital indefinitely, while they try to figure out where the clots are coming from. And they have told the kids not to worry, that he is in excellent hands, and that when it is time to find an assisted living facility [or whatever situation is appropriate], the social network at the hospital is better than anything we could come up with as a family, and the hospital can pull strings and get him into one.

I am very sad for him but also breathing a sigh of relief that somebody with more expertise than we have, is watching over him. Firstborn says she thinks she finally convinced him that he will not be getting behind the wheel, ever again. It is a miracle that he didn’t kill himself, or anybody else, when he had the blood-sugar episode a few weeks back, because he was driving when it happened.

He was very surprised to see me in the hospital on Friday night with all of our children who are local. And I suspect that more than one of our children was surprised to see me there. [I was a little surprised to see me there, too, but that’s a whole nuther story.] Firstborn read to him from her science text when she visited on Sunday morning. He liked that. She has found his copy of a doctrinal book that he loves, and I’m planning to read him a few pages from that before Knit Night on Tuesday [and give him a booster shot of religion, as it were].

No, I’m not bucking for sainthood. Maybe if I am kind to him in fifteen or twenty minute increments, it will override the crankiness I feel when I think about Middlest’s STBX. That, and he was my honey for twenty years.

His sister is flying in tomorrow afternoon. The airport is very close to my office. It would make sense for me to take the afternoon off and pick her up. We shall see if anybody else thinks that’s a good idea.

I’m going to hop in the tub, and then I’m going to figure out what to throw into my knitting bag in case I finish binding off Adamas sometime today. I don’t think I have sufficient RAM to take another stab at reading The Hitchhiker’s Guide.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Stilettos? I’ll pass, thanks!

I found this link through an article on the intranet at work. It appears to be a website devoted to the nurturing and edification of young widows. Apparently, old widows and grass widows* [divorcees like me] wear clogs, and jeans from Wal-Mart? Levity aside, I can see that a young widow might have additional issues from those I have dealt with. The web site sells related books and CD’s. I cannot vouch for their usefulness or appropriateness. Caveat emptor, and all that.

Thought for awhile that I was going to be a youngish widow, and no, I am not disappointed to have dodged that bullet. My kids need their dad. [Mine has been gone for almost 20 years, and there are days when I just flat need my dad. And, more often, my mom.]

*Be sure to read the entire entry. That’s me: out to pasture!

I had a little falling-down at Knitspot’s shop yesterday. Bought the PDF’s for Lacewing and Fiddlehead. I spent almost the entire day at home, watching Eloy and his crew paint the trim on the duplex. This is the kitchen window, which will have black shutters in the very near future.

They have windows to scrape today, and one or two window frames to paint as well, but even with paint-splotched windows it’s looking pretty spiffy chez Ravelled. This is the back door. Apparently it will be grey like the rest of the house, and not red like the new front doors with their mantels.

I took these pictures around 5:00pm. There is a window hiding behind those crepe myrtles.

About 8:00pm, after much knitting and several long phone conversations with friends and family, I headed out for a little therapeutic shopping. [I prefer to go out after the really tempting places close, so as not to utterly destroy my budget.]

Came home with a work-appropriate pair of jeans, two ball point pen refills for the pen that was a gift and fits my hand so well, a generic liquid soap pump and a ginormous refill bottle for that. I am soaking the pump bottle that held lavender/chamomile liquid soap in the bathroom sink. I will refill it with milk/honey moisturizing soap, because chapped hands do not make for happy knitting, especially if the yarn in question is silk.

I also came home with the usual gallon of milk, and a “sock set” package from Susan Bates containing aluminum DP’s in sizes from 000 to 1. When I was rooting around for my spare KnitPicks Options cable and the cable key yesterday, I rediscovered that flamboyant skein which I brought home from the sock yarn exchange with the Sisters of the Wool last Christmas. [ Just in case I do not feel like casting on MS4 when I finish Adamas.] The sock yarn is for another MimKnits design, Eleanora, which is sitting in the frog pond because apparently size 00 needles are too large for my natural gauge.

While I spent a couple of hours yesterday afternoon researching yarn substitutions for the KnitSimple cardi [I love Excel for comparison shopping, particularly when it comes time to calculate what a given yarn would cost], I did not actually pick up the phone and place an order with KnitPicks. Or anybody else, except for those two Knitspot patterns to knit up what I had already queued in Ravelry.

And while I ate on the average of every two waking hours yesterday, I ate responsibly and did not empty the fridge or the pantry. I did get around to sampling the aguacate torta for dinner last night. I thought it was going to be something like a gordita and all greasy, but it is more like the Mexican equivalent of a vegetarian sub sandwich on a crisp roll. Refried beans on one side, alfalfa sprouts and whispers of sliced onion and ginormous amounts of sliced avocado on top of that, and then the top half of the roll. I sliced it into fourths and ate half and saved the rest for today.

Firstborn and 1BDH spent some time at the hospital last night and came back with no real news; the nurse couldn’t tell them anything. So they are going back this morning and hoping to catch the doctor on his/her rounds. LittleBit said that her dad apologized for scaring the daylights out of her.

I have one row left on the last repeat of chart 2 on Adamas. So I am heading back to my room to do that and to get started on chart 3, which I think has twelve rows instead of ten. At the moment I have 399 stitches on my circular needle. More increases lie ahead; I wonder how long this will take to bind off?