About Me

My photo
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!

Saturday, January 31, 2009

A Most Excellent Day

And another one ahead of me. Nails are done, a little shorter than I like, but impeccably shaped and polished, and they will grow out. I had planned on doing the Costco run with Firstborn today, but we met there on her way home from work, instead. I gave her a check for $25.00 and came home with a rotisserie chicken, two pounds of sharp cheddar, six cans of chili [without beans, for those of you outside of Texas], six cans of Ro-Tel Original, and four dozen flour tortillas.

I sliced a serving of chicken breast, cut most of the meat off the bones, and tossed half the carcass into my mini crockpot, to simmer overnight. It might be fun to track how many meals I get from one $4.99 chicken. I am planning on a small pot of chicken soup, some chicken pot pie, a chicken salad sandwich or two, and who knows what else? [I am also craving pork tenderloin; haven’t fixed one in maybe two or three years. Just not a serious carnivore, but every so often I get that urge.]

After I had eaten my dinner, I went shopping for the rest of the ingredients I needed to make another Rocky Road crockpot cake. We are having our monthly singles fireside and break-the-fast tomorrow night, and I am determined to take that cake with me instead of tending an unplugged crockpot for three and a half hours [again].

I also brought home what I need to make the butterscotch pudding on page 4 of the February Gourmet. And more recyclable storage wear to store the portions in.

I was a little disappointed not to find the pint-size bottles of juice that I buy at the deli, at Costco. I wonder if I have to go to Sam’s? And it was not in the budget to buy the large bottles of juice, as I have done in the past. Next time, almost certainly. Along with that 42-pack of the 100-calorie bags of my favorite popcorn.

If I go once a month or so with Firstborn, I can get affordable treats to fill the gaps in my pantry. When I bought popcorn last month, I thought I was getting the small portions, but I got normal-people bags instead. Great to have on hand for when company comes over and the VHS/DVD players are fully connected, if that day ever comes, but too much food for me. Wasting food just makes me shriek. Stale popcorn makes me grumble. But sunshine on my shoulders, makes me happy.

Heard that on the oldies station the other day, and couldn’t resist. Far out!!! I used to love listening to him, but after reading his autobiography it just wasn’t the same. His assertion that it was really his first wife’s fault that he cheated on her, because she stopped going on road trips with him, didn’t set well with me. People cheat for all sorts of reasons; I can’t think of one that isn’t selfish.

What’s on the agenda today, you ask. Not sure. I canceled my 7:30 appointment for maintenance on the car. [Yes, I will reschedule.] I bagged the haircut; not sure if I will do that today, or wait another couple of weeks. I no longer need to go to Costco. BestFriend’s daughter’s graduation celebration is tonight, and I’ve been invited to that. It’s also time for the monthly drive-by fooding of the missionaries, and I am miraculously in the mood to cook.

I am also in the mood to spend, and I have no wish to wreck all my hard work of the past five months, so I may very well hole up at home all weekend, except for feeding the elders and church tomorrow and the potluck tomorrow night.

So I will not be tiptoeing over to the Blue Moon website, nor ordering Franklin’s book online, nor checking out the knitting magazines at the bookstore, nor scooping up deals at the LYS which is closing. After five-plus decades, I’ve learned the difference between buying things I need, and retail therapy.

I may trot over to the scratch-and-dent grocery and see what bargains I find there, with a budget of $10 or $15. But I think most of the weekend is going to be spent in the kitchen, cooking and washing up. With little breaks on the couch, knitting and listening to the audiobooks I checked out from the library last weekend.

I may nip out at lunchtime and pick up an aguacate torta from the taqueria by the laundromat. But this time to see what-all she puts into hers, so I can make them at home.

I spent about five minutes on my morning break yesterday, tinking down those two columns of stitches and manually twisting the ones on the purl rows to match the ones on the knit rows. I am ready to add my next sets of to-be-dropped stitches and will have to figure out how to twist my stitches in the same direction, from the purl side.

All of which ought to keep me productively busy, happily creative, and out of the pool halls.

[I just checked her blog; Alison’s surgery was successful. Bless her hubby for keeping us posted.]

Between getting my nails done and meeting Firstborn, I stopped at the antique store which has my paid-for bookcase to see if maybe we could shoehorn it into the back of Lorelai. We lack about three inches of being able to do so. I called Brother Sushi to see if he had a minute, and I told him that NO was a perfectly good answer, and it turned out to be the best answer. So I brought the glass shelves home with me and will carefully bring them in, sometime today, and put them in a safe place until the rest arrives.

I had forgotten how pretty that bookcase is. And it will get here when it gets here. I am not even the tiniest bit antsy about it; yesterday was just one of those moments when I thought, hey, I’m here, it might work. Probably just as well; I couldn’t have gotten it out of the back seat without help.

And I might have messed up my manicure...

Well, this post is certainly all over the place. Must be time to rustle up some grub.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Happy Friday, Everybody!

Just a quick post before I scoot out the door. I am working half a day today, getting my nails done and my hair cut, and going over to my friend J’s to work on her service project. I have paid all the bills but one, which can be postponed until next payday, and ordered the yarn for Brother Sushi’s [*cough*] Christmas present. That’s OK, though; his present to me came in the mail yesterday: my first issue of Gourmet magazine, and I wish I could stay home all morning and cook!

I met another knitter on the train yesterday. She’s regular Army and has been knitting about a year. Chicks with sticks, grenades optional. Gotta love it!

Finished the first Christmas ornament. No knitting yesterday on the Clapotis; I think I may carefully tink down the columns of twisted stitches ~ at this point there are only two columns like that ~ and twist the stitches on every row with my crochet hook, rather than having them twist every other row. I think the silk yarn requires that.

Alison’s having surgery today; please send up prayers on her behalf.

[I told you this would be a short post!]

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Jeannie, revisited ever-so-briefly

I fell in love with Jeannie, in the 2007 issue of Knitty. Tried knitting it with the Berroco Denim Silk which I bought to make the Elann Crop Cardi [and frogged when nearly complete] and which is now my wonderful [Almost] Cozy.

It has been haunting me. Cables. Reversible cables. Dropped stitches. Handpainted yarn. So yesterday I wound up the Claudia laceweight that I bought for my birthday last year and grabbed my trusty size 4’s [3.5mm] and cast on.

Make that: tried to cast on. I had forgotten until I was sitting on the train, needles in hand, that Jeannie requires a provisional cast-on. I managed 137+ backward loops, with markers every ten loops, and gave it up.

When I got home again, I looked up the directions for Clapotis and cast it on, instead.

And there were other adventures. Remember that we were under an ice storm advisory? I called the Weather Line at 5:30 yesterday morning, and they said we were opening at 10:00, but to check back at 8:30 before getting on the road. I went out to Lorelai at 8:00 to scrape windows and was still scraping 20 minutes later, when the 8:19 would have been pulling out. So I drove to the T&P station [more about which, in a minute] and parked under the freeway and called again. We were not opening until 11:00, which meant that the next train would get me into BigD at 10:30, and the bus or my own two feet would have me at my desk on time, rather than half an hour late. Sweet!

When I walked out to the car yesterday morning, it looked like somebody had emptied a beanbag chair all over my lawn. The steps were glazed-over; I made it down to the sidewalk all in one piece. Lorelai's doors were almost frozen shut, so that was my first bit of aerobic activity. And then there were the upper-body exercises, where my arms went up and down, the girls went side to side, and the tush danced counterpoint; I may have invented the Ice Storm Mambo!

The street looked like a Martha Stewart wedding cake, the kind with fondant icing. Montgomery was a sheet of white all the way to the freeway; the overpass crossing I-30 was just what I expected, and the ramp of the service road was like a curly-slide at a park. Fort Worth, at least at 8:30 on an icy Wednesday morning, was populated by people who knew how to drive on ice, were keeping it between 15 and 20 mph, and were staying well back from one another.

I had no problems getting where I needed to be; it just took twice as long as usual. And then, since so many people were staying home, I parked in the shelter of the freeway overhead [though it still makes me a little nervous, but I figured the pigeons that would ordinarily festoon my car, had better things to do that day, and the likelihood of the freeway falling down on my car was less than usual because it was frozen into place; yeah, I am just a wee bit claustrophobic, but I cope, weirdly].

I ended up on one of the trains that only runs half the route, to Centrepoint/DFW Airport, and changed trains there for BigD. Nice, easy trip, except for the part about exiting the train, walking across twenty feet of icy sidewalk, and climbing up too-shallow, too-steep steps to the old Silver Bullet and its bench seats.

While waiting for the first train to depart, I had discovered that Jeannie was still not to be, not with this yarn, not without a provisional cast-on. And I had left the Mystery Socks on the couch at home. But thankfully, I had grabbed some bits and bobs from other projects, to get a start on ornaments for this year, and I had my box of miscellaneous DP’s, so I worked on one miniature sweater on the ride in, and another on the ride home. Good times.

When I got to work at 11:00, I learned that the receptionist had not waited for the second announcement at 8:30, so she and one of the attorneys arrived at 10:00. She got to go home at 4:00, and I took care of switchboard until we closed at 5:00. But before that, she and I were the only admins besides the office manager, who arrived maybe five minutes after I did. We had three legal secretaries, then four, then five, and no paralegals. We had maybe five or six attorneys coming and going throughout the day. Thankfully, one of the legal secretaries who showed up, is the one I back up with my word processing, so she handled that task for the day, and I scanned the mail, which was blessedy lighter than usual.

Lunch and breaks were improvised around the workflow. I think I took my lunch around 2:15; I was maybe the last customer in the deli downstairs, and I got one of her fantastic chicken salad sandwiches.

Trainman was pleasantly surprised to see me, and we had another great visit. He introduced me to a woman who rides our train, and the three of us chatted about this and that. When we pulled into the station, I wished him goodnight and safe travel and a good weekend with his son. I walked to one end of the traincar; he walked to the other. He called back to say he would meet me outside and go down to the parking lot with me. Good thing, too; there was a weird, scary-looking guy who stepped off the elevator so we could get on. I felt just that bit safer with the Trainman standing at my side.

Once outside, we walked up the stairs to the parking lot. He was parked on the first row. I was a little farther back. I saw him get into his car, and I started looking around for mine. It wasn’t where I remembered it, so I was wandering about a bit. Then I noticed that he hadn’t taken off, and was rounding a turn to catch up with me.

I have had the sense before, that he waits until I get in my car before he takes off. Last night I hopped in his car, and we drove around a bit until we found Lorelai. He waited until I was in, buckled, and with my backing lights on before he waved again and headed out. And he stayed in front of me until I signaled for my exit.

It is things like this, that remind me what good care my Father takes of me.

I came home, reheated the leftover pizza from Tuesday night, and knitted while listening to another instalment of To Kill a Mockingbird. I didn’t turn on my cell phone, once. I need to, to see when the office is opening today, and then I need to bundle up and go out to the car much earlier than I did yesterday morning, in case the windows need scraping again.

I have worn handknitted socks every day of the week, so far. I have very, very happy feet.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

But I want to do my *taxes*!

My W-2 came in the mail on Monday, possibly the earliest that it has ever arrived. And neither bank has a TurboTax link up on its website yet. [Correction: SFBank does, but you have to have an actual account with them, and I closed mine when I shut down my MK business. Last year I was able to link to TurboTax because I have multiple lines of insurance; looks like that dog won’t hunt for tax year 2008. So I sent an email to my primary bank and will hear from them in the next day or so. You don’t ask, you don’t get.] I am not expecting a refund, not with the change in status from head of household to single, but I’d like to get my return done early so I know how bad it’s going to be, and budget for it.

In other financial news, I had the performance part of my PRT on Monday. I got a better rating than I expected, considering that I was volunteered for a number of committees that couldn’t or wouldn’t commit. And I know the approximate percentage by which my base salary is likely to increase: a smaller percentage than last year, but applied to a larger base salary, so still quite acceptable in my book; far better than a punch in the nose!

Especially since there are law firms in town where the staff has been told not to expect any raises this year. And I still have a job, and I like my job.

We will get the numbers for raises and bonuses in four to six weeks, after everybody’s PRT scores are fed into the computer at corporate and it spits out yet another report. And then I get to figure out how to divide the increase among a cost-of-living adjustment to my budget, my emergency fund, my 401K 101K, and debt reduction.

We are in the middle of an ice storm. When I got to the car last night, there was what looked like a quarter-inch of ice on it. I started scraping away with my dull plastic scraper that I bought a few years back. In a couple of minutes, a kind gentleman approached and asked if I would like a little help. He had a metal scraper, and we soon had Lorelai ready to roll. I called Middlest and told her I was heading straight for home. No Knit Night for us.

Note to self: add new scraper to shopping list for Friday.

I was supposed to have a dental checkup this morning at 8:00. They called me at work yesterday to provisionally confirm; she said she was taking our numbers home and might be calling to cancel. Which she did, about two minutes after I had settled in on the couch with my knitting and the second CD of To Kill a Mockingbird.

I just called the weather line for work; we are not opening until 10:00. Which means that I need to leap over to the website for the TRE and see when my train will run. It also means that I will have lots of happy knitting time this morning while listening to at least one CD of To Kill a Mockingbird, and will get to ride home on the TRE tonight and surprise Trainman. I told him I would probably be driving in today, because of my appointment and the commuting fiasco after my last one. And that I will definitely be driving in on Friday, because I have half a day of comp time.

Says he, “So I won’t see you until next week.”

To which I reply, “It’s good for you to miss me. Builds character.” And we both laughed.

He had a great time visiting his sister last weekend. [And no dinner with the leggy blonde. I did not turn cartwheels over that. I am much too ladylike. (Plus, I can’t turn cartwheels.)] We have fixed an evening for our field trip with DecoratorDude: three weeks from tonight.

There has been actual knitting progress. Red Fetching is done and tossed into a drawer. I put another inch or so of K3P1 ribbing on the cuff of one sock. Not feeling the love. Love the yarn, love the beads, thinking seriously about frogging back to the end of the beading and inserting more beads down the ribbing, if only to justify that second trip to the bead shop a few weeks ago.

Also racking my brain for what project to start next. Am toying with the idea of knitting a full Clapotis from the skein of silk laceweight I bought myself for my birthday last year. I already know that the pattern works well with handpainted yarn. And I know that if I go with a 20% for the increase portion, 60% for the straightaway, 20% for the decrease portion formula, I will be able to use up every scrap of yarn productively. [Thank you, Jeri, for doing the math for us. Would link to her blog, but she hasn’t updated it recently.] Not sure if it would work out to be a stole or a wide scarf like the one I have, but whatever it was, would be gorgeous.

Have a good day, everybody, and try to stay warm. Unless you are Ruth, in which case try to stay cool.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Alison hits one out of the ballpark!

I want to share with you my friend Alison’s post from Sunday afternoon. It fits in so nicely with the lesson I taught in Relief Society on Sunday, which is based on one talk from last October’s General Conference and two from September’s annual Relief Society broadcast: one by the prophet, President Thomas S. Monson, one by his counselor, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, and one by Sister Barbara Thompson of the Relief Society General Board. The theme which our stake presidency chose for January was “Joy in These Days”.

Alison has family in my ward. It was comforting to speak with them between meetings on Sunday, to get the family’s perspective on her health, as well as what I read on her blog, and to know that we are uniting our faith and our prayers on her behalf. It is also comforting to read the loving, faithful comments on her blog.

Remember that story in the New Testament about the man who sat patiently by the pool, because once a year an angel came and stirred up the waters, and the first person into that pool was healed? He had been unable to make it into the pool, because he had no servant to assist him. But the Master and Servant of us all, saw him and healed him.

I had a little vision or impression of all these individual prayers that are being lifted up on Alison’s behalf, little eddies of righteousness and selflessness in the general murk which afflicts mortality. People of all faiths and beliefs are praying for her, momentarily setting aside their own pressing needs to stir up the powers of Heaven on her behalf. Her illness is not a good thing; it is an exquisitely painful reminder that we are all wonderfully and sometimes fearfully made, and wonderfully connected. Alison is important. So is the housekeeper at her hospital. So are you. So am I.

When we love one another, and we serve one another, even by something as seemingly inconsequential as saying thank you for a clean floor, we build the Kingdom in preparation for the King. We lessen the power of the Destroyer in our own hearts, in our families, in our communities. Peace on earth is not going to be superimposed from without, though we should certainly work as well as pray for peace. It is going to be established in our individual hearts, by the grace of Heaven, by loving service to one another, and by seeking to comprehend the motivation that underlies the all-too-fallible execution of the actions we observe.

As we pray in faith for others, and as we serve them to the best of our ability, we cannot help but purify our thoughts, our words, our deeds, and our motives.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled whimsy. My friend Lauren sent me this. A few years ago, Brother Karitas and I went to a similar exhibit ~ or would that be exhibition? ~ here in Fort Worth. My two favorites from this one would be “Thelma and Louise” [although I loathe one word in the title], and the political one, which expresses how I felt during the last campaign. Gird yourselves! [Which has to be my favorite line from The Devil Wears Prada.]

I came home last night and turned up the setting on my gas fireplace. We are under an ice storm advisory until noon tomorrow, and I didn’t want my pipes to freeze, or the water in the reservoir of my C-PAP, either. I am hoping that turning the gas up from 1 to 2 does not double my bill. But stoic as I am, I was getting a little tired of being a Momsicle. I am sure my Scots ancestors have officially disowned me now.

However, I am loving the fact that it is cold enough, and my feet seem to be well enough, that I can take my precious handknit socks out of the drawer and put them on my feet. Eleanora went to church with me on Sunday. Anastasia trotted along to work yesterday. Today Swan Song [my Wollmeise socks] will go swan-diving with me. Or possibly just ice-fishing.

When I woke up this morning, the chill was definitely off my bedroom and the kitchen. And the living room was stuffy. So I have turned back the dial to approximately 1.5 and will see how that goes. I suspect that at 3, I could grow orchids if I provided enough moisture for them, and at 5 [where the dial maxes out] I would have to change my name to S’more.

I sat on the couch last night and listened to Sissy Spacek read To Kill a Mockingbird while I finished the first Fetching and nearly finished its mate. I wish there were time to listen to another CD before I have to get ready for work. [I wonder how bad the roads are? It’s 34°F out there, as we speak. And I have to drag the recycling out to the curb. It was raining last night, and it took me an hour and a half to drive home because of the wrecks (others’, not mine), and my teeth were floating. So the last thing on my mind was social responsibility.] I can’t call the weather line at work for another ten minutes or so, to see if we will be opening late.

I am not driving in again today. I am not. Which means that I had better get a move on.

Is it just me?

Or is the idea of a gun show that opens on Singles Awareness Day as absurd and ironic to you as it is to me? [Promise her anything, but give her a .357 Magnum?] Almost as good as the e-card I once sent to a friend, claiming that Cupid had flown into a bug zapper.

[Which would explain my love life, or lack thereof.]

In other news, I have been having adventures. On Saturday, after I picked up two novels and two audiobooks at the library, I decided to locate the next restaurant that I want to try. I had printed off the directions on Google [and left them at home, on the printer]. I knew I had to navigate the Weatherford Traffic Circle [which is not in Weatherford, any more than the Bluebonnet Traffic Circle is in Bluebonnet, if there is a Bluebonnet; but I digress] and go out Highway 377 until I got to Highway 1187. So I took the first exit for 1187 and drove and drove and drove until I found myself in Aledo.

Aledo is one of those places where people with lots of new money are building McMansions whose sole purpose seems to declare, “I could afford to buy a million dollars’ worth of bricks, and then I had my three year old design our house.” I have seen [and built] Lego houses that were more attractive.

I turned Lorelai around and drove the other way on that section of 1187 until I got back to 377, then turned right and drove a few blocks and turned left on eastbound 1187. And there it was!

Cafe 1187 is in a yellow house that I thought I remembered Trainman describing as “little”. He used to live in a cottage here in The Heights. So either I misunderstood him [not out of the realm of possibility], or he has forgotten what “little” means and now lives in one of those horrible McMansions himself. I will ask clarifying questions, next time I see him, and get back to you.

B*i*g house. Not as big as Southfork, perhaps, and certainly more modest than the monstrosities a few miles away on the other side of the highway, but way bigger than either of the places in which he and I have dined together.

I was hoping to go there for lunch next Saturday with BestFriend, but that day is getting all clabbered up with other commitments, which is why we had planned to have her come visit after church yesterday. When I do get there, I’ll give y’all a review.

A book recommendation, from the book group column at Meridian. The Fiction Class, by Susan Breen; it’s one of the books that I got at the library. I loved how, early in the story, the protagonist comments that she has been engaged, twice, to men who looked like Atticus Finch but had more kinship with Boo Radley. Why, you ask? On the back of my couch is the audiobook of To Kill a Mockingbird, which also followed me home from the library. And there is a writing exercise at the end of one of the chapters near the end of the book, where we are told that there is a man sitting in a tree, and what he is wearing, and are invited to explain how it happened. I hooted in a most unladylike manner. I may have to write that one out, myself. And there is a genteel but lively May-December romance, something with which I have more than passing familiarity.

Speaking of romance, I want to see the new Dustin Hoffman movie. I adore Emma Thompson, and I usually enjoy him. [Tootsie is one of my all-time favorites.]

In yet-more-news-of-the-weird, I got an alleged match on the Churchboy Dating Service with one of the four guys I asked out back in 2000; this would be the one who makes sure there is an entire gymnasium between us if we happen to show up at the same activity. And the day before that, I was matched with one of the other guys who turned me down, who has become [and remained] a friend.

After church yesterday, I pulled out my camera so I could take the picture that opens this post; I was driving home at my usual sedate pace when I noticed an unusual emblem on the back of a minivan. It consisted of a heart superimposed over a triangle. Something like agape colliding with a Star of David in a New Age feel-good frenzy. I followed the van over hill and down dale for several miles, until I could pull alongside and make the “roll down your window” sign.

I asked her what it stood for. [Gladney Adoption. I tried to find it on their website and came up empty.] Now if I could only figure out what that weird symbol is on the back of some pickup trucks; it looks like a cross between a Keith Haring figure and the Green Man, or maybe a moose. And then I could stuff Pandora back into her room with the box, and shut the door, and get on with my knitting.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

No Wooz is Good Wooz

@ Tan, who asked how I got the comp time, and if it was for staying awake in the meeting without my knitting [because I got in trouble with the office manager a few months ago, for knitting in a meeting]. No, I wasn’t in Friday’s meeting; I was out on the front lines at switchboard, telling people who called for attorneys [who were in trial or at client meetings or depositions or mediations], that the secretaries and paralegals were in a staff meeting, and yes, I knew the meeting had been going on since 9:45 and they still weren’t out. That meeting.

I got half a day of comp time because I got the second-highest number of “Good for You”s last year. Among the support staff, if somebody helps you accomplish something, you send them a thank-you email with a copy to the office manager. The person who gets the greatest number of them during the year, is awarded a full day of comp time when we have our first staff meeting in the new year.

When she gave me my certificate on Friday, the office manager said that my friend led the pack by only a few emails, and that it didn’t seem fair that I should not get a reward as well. [One of many reasons why I like my office manager, even if she doesn’t understand that knitting in meetings is not a sign of disrespect, and keeps me awake.] All those invoices that I paid for my legal-secretary friends last year, are what got me my “Good for You”s. That, and other odd bits of service that I was able to do at switchboard, before I moved back into a cubicle.

I typed about 60 drafts last week, for two legal secretaries serving four attorneys. And Friday afternoon I got a frantic email from another legal secretary, asking if I could pay her invoices this coming week. [She writes “Good for You”s that sound like Academy Award acceptance speeches. I don’t recognize the person she is describing when she thanks the office manager on my behalf, but it’s always fun to read them.]

@Kristen, who commented on how much I get done each day before she has eaten her breakfast. My creativity is what keeps me sane. Literally. Twenty years ago, when we were waiting for the children’s father to begin chiropractic school, and more specifically for the student loan money to arrive, we lived for two weeks on two large boxes of powdered milk [reconstituted, of course] and 56 loaves of bread [14 of those four-conjoined-loaves packages from Sack N Save]. I told the kids not to kill each other, and I warped my loom and focused on making beauty. Creativity and my somewhat skewed sense of humor have gotten me through other experiences that were soul-shattering, faith-numbing, and testimony-depleting.

And when I am creating, I am more apt to notice the Creator’s beauty which surrounds me, and to be grateful for my blessings and willing to serve others.

I am also a little hyper, in mind if not in body; my body is a little slower to learn things, but once they are learned, they stay learned. Creating things helps me to remain in the moment, to not postpone joy for some mythical future day when everything in my life will be just-so. Not to mention that it effectively burns off energies that could easily get me in trouble if not diverted into chastely productive channels.

I have the same hungers and longings as every other healthy human adult. You see all these projects flying off my needles; I see a boudoir which is a sanctuary, and a home and heart which are peaceful. My girls are well aware of my imperfections and weaknesses, but I think it is safe to declare that we are all thankful I do not have a revolving door on my bedroom.

So, do not envy me because of the socks and scarves and shawls that are filling up my drawers, or the stash-busting that continues in spite of the generosity of my friends. Hug your spouse or your sweetheart, and be thankful that you have one. And if you don’t feel like hugging your spouse or your sweetheart, may I suggest that you see if there is something you can do that will change your attitude, or your circumstances, whichever is appropriate. The gifts which Heaven has given me, which I recognize in all their abundance and variety, are given to me in compensation for the gifts which I yet lack, but will one day enjoy.

[Don’t cry for me, Argentina. Just hand me the stitch marker which sailed over your head a minute ago when I was cabling without a cable needle, and love the one you’re with...]

I got to spend some time with Middlest yesterday. She was more than a little under the weather, to the point that she brought a doubled plastic bag with her in the car, just in case. As she began to feel better, she remarked that the nausea had passed, but she still felt woozy. At which point I told her she had just given me the title of this morning’s post.

Feeling a little woozy myself, but not from illness. I just finished printing off my notes and multiple strips of quotations for the RS lesson I will be teaching in four hours. I read each address that is the basis for the lesson, at least once, and last night I made an outline of which quotations I wanted to use. This morning I excerpted them from the PDF’s of the talks and formatted them for printing. The subject which our stake president has chosen for us? Joy in these days.

I know a little bit about that, and I cannot wait to share with my friends and to hear their own experiences.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

All Kinds of Good News

I cast on Fetching yesterday morning. The first mitt on the way into work, and the second one on the way home, so that I would make sure to keep them perfectly mirrored. Last time I whipped these up, I was off by one round and had to buy another ball to finish the project. This way I can tweak as I go. I needed some instant gratification that would neither end up on my hips, nor land me in the bishop’s office for a chat. I had forgotten how much fun they are to knit, and how quick.

I am continuing to add to my list of little piddly things that really ought to get done today, in addition to fun things like spending time with Middlest and maybe some of the other girls.

I have bragged before about my wonderful insurance agent. It’s time for more bragging. I noticed last payday that they were still taking out the premium for the term insurance policy that I thought I had canceled after LittleBit graduated high school and we separated households. So on Thursday I sent him a quick email, asking for his help.

It was a glitch on the company’s end, not his office’s. He sent me a form yesterday, which I signed and faxed back to him, and now the company has a second notification to cancel the policy, effective last June, and to refund the premiums I have paid since then. I have no idea how long it will take them to regurgitate my money, but it’s handled.

It is such a pleasure to deal with a man who takes his fiduciary responsibilities seriously. He is honest, competent, and diligent; I couldn’t be happier, and if you are local and need the name of someone who will sell you exactly the coverage that you need and nothing superfluous, email me and I’ll give you his contact information.

This is the first time that I have used the cabling-without-a-cable-needle technique on Fetching, and it’s definitely faster and easier. Though I find that the left-leaning cables are just a smidgen easier for me than the right-leaning ones. I listened to this week’s new KnitPicks podcast while finishing the wrist cables on the second mitt.

My friend Alison is having a particularly bad episode of Crohn’s and is in the hospital. [In the small-world department, I go to church with her sister-in-law, who used to be in Secondborn’s ward.] Alison’s hubby is keeping us updated. Go send her some love!

Well, I’ve been up for about an hour, and my stomach is yodeling that it wants me to refuel. I made pigs in blankets yesterday, but I think I am more in the mood for some cream of wheat. The office manager bought breakfast tacos to the staff meeting yesterday morning. I handled switchboard for the duration, but I grabbed a taco before the meeting started. And another one when it ended. And ate the last two for lunch. Small ones, all of them, but nonetheless I am not in the mood for eggs today, or maybe all weekend. And maybe not until next Wednesday.

I was awarded a half day of comp time during the meeting yesterday, which I will use next Monday afternoon to attend my friend J’s service project, without having to tap into my PT. Woohoo!

See, I told you. Lots of good news today.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Mean Green Jellybeans are Done!

I bound one off using a size 2 [2.75mm] needle, but it was not quite stretchy enough. So I bound off the other sock using the sewn cast-off and liked it much better, then unpicked the bind-off on the first sock and finished it the second way. Finito!

Two long, skinny, very stretchy socks, much in need of a soaking and a good blocking. And it occurred to me yesterday that the pattern would work very well as wrist warmers, so once this pattern is proofed and perfected, I will want to work out that variation. As my visiting teacher said last night, these are too pretty to be hidden away in shoes. [And I didn’t even pay her to say it.]

Can you see why I like her so much? We had the best visit last night. We usually bypass the formal message, because my VT companion and I teach it to the sisters we visit. Instead, we sit and talk about life, about our blessings and challenges. Thankfully, regardless of recent upsurges in drama within the tribe, my life is generally peaceful and crisis-free. I plan to savor that for however long it lasts!

She likes to come to my house, because it is quiet and peaceful. [I like to spend time at home for the very same reason.] Middlest made a similar comment when she spent the night at Christmas. After umpteen years of raising kids, I still love spending time with each of them, and with my grandkids.

And I love coming home to my nearly-silent house. The quiet tick of the ceiling fan here in the living room. The soft hum of the CPU on my computer. An occasional random flush from the bathroom. Beams creaking overhead, up in the attic. The whoosh of the wind in the trees outside my bedroom window. Train horns a mile or so south of me, and the cars clanking around in the train yard in the middle of the night. The occasional sound of children in the neighborhood. This is pretty much a middle-aged neighborhood. The little girls across the street are well-mannered and cheerful.

I do appreciate well-mannered and cheerful, I do!

I am back at work on the January Mystery Socks. I like the fabric that 3x1 ribbing produces on the non-beaded portion of the cuff. I think it will be just about perfect for my ankles. And I think that with this yarn, it will be much too airy on 00’s on the sole of the socks. So I think I will work both socks to the heel flap and then work that and the soles on 000’s and the insteps on 00’s. I did that with those turquoise socks a few months ago and really liked the outcome. I will get to learn the Eye of the Partridge pattern on the heel flap for these socks, but other than that I foresee no surprises or challenges, and I am starting to feel the teensiest bit bored with the project, although I still love the yarn as it passes through my hands.

I spent a few minutes on Ravelry this morning, perusing my queue for the next pair of socks to cast on. Maybe instead, I will whip up Fetching in my red Cashmerino Aran.

@ my Knit Night sisters: I will endeavor to have the pattern ready for you to proof, next Tuesday night. I’m looking forward to seeing this sock in other colorways and yarns.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Good News, Bad News

Good News:
The receptionist was back at work yesterday, after her day off on Tuesday. I got to spend most of the day at my own desk, where I transcribed three discovery summaries and entered 2.5 minor settlements into the system.

Good News:
Middlest called me right before I left the office, saying that her interview went well. She starts the new job on Monday.

Good News:
LittleBit called me at work and was happy for me that I now have my own extension, just like all the other grownups.

Bad News:
She had a piece of mail for me from the City of Arlington. I had allegedly been caught by one of their red-light cameras. [No, that doesn’t mean that I have changed my name to Aldonza.] She was also a little gloat-y that I had been caught doing something bad.

I was astounded, and a little bummed, for the rest of the work day; I really do drive like a grandmother. One of my attorneys told me that frequently those cameras photograph people who are making a legal right turn on red after a full stop.

Good News:
LittleBit was willing to drive over last night and bring me the ticket. She also asked me to make bread cheese pudding and said she would bring the new boyfriend. [I have not been allowed, for several years, to refer to them as the BoyDuJour. So I won’t.]

Bad News:
I really wasn’t in the mood to cook, and I had to buy the right kind of cheese.

Good News:
I had enough gas in the tank to get from the train station to the gas station [yay! for prayers] and then to the grocery store on the way home. I also had enough heels in the freezer to fill the pan, so I didn’t have to sacrifice any of the boule that is in the fridge.

Good News:
Dinner was ready less than five minutes after they walked in the door.

Good News:
Her new boyfriend seems nice. He has the same given name as one of my grandfathers, so I might be able to remember it. He is also a foodie, and he cooks.

Bad News:
We had so much fun visiting that we forgot to have LittleBit finish connecting my DVD and VHS players to the TV.

Good News:
Guess that means they will have to come back soon for another visit!

Bad News:
She wanted me to open the envelope before we ate, I guess for further gloating opportunities. I should have. It wasn’t my car; it was hers, on which I have signed over the title, but which she has not troubled to put in her own name.

Good News:
There is a form which I can download and get notarized, explaining all this to the lovely folks at the APD, and giving them her mailing address so she can deal with it.

Good News:
I am nearly done with the ribbing on both Mean Green Jellybeans.

And my visiting teacher is coming over tonight.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Old Man River

My friend Kristen had this link on her blog. I’m going to see if I can embed the video:

I miss Jim Croce. He was one of a handful of things my mother and I could agree on, back when I was 20-something and knew it all.

It’s Wednesday, and I have slept, and this is a good thing. One of many in my life. Knit Night was perhaps even more restful ~ and delightful ~ than usual. My sock chose not to argue with me; I am maybe twelve rows from the ribbing on one sock and there on the other. BeadLady sat with me on the ride into work, and we chattered happily all the way into Dallas. She identified the beads I am using on the January Mystery Sock [Japanese, not Czech] and was pleased to see that the bead shop has them in stock again. Middlest gets paid tomorrow, and we are planning a field trip to the Wall of Addi’s on Saturday. She will be buying; I will be driving, as I have already spent my fun money for this paycheck.

Hey Middlest, if you can get the Moose to bring you over, I would feed you both brunch or lunch [coffeecake or spaghetti, depending on what time you got here and what I feel like fixing], and she could finish connecting my VCR/DVD player and the TV, and then we could all watch Dave. Just a thought.

I have hung out or showed up at Firstborn’s on three consecutive nights and have thoroughly enjoyed my time there, and I am feeling the need to not-go-anywhere for awhile. My goal for this evening is to come home and curl up with the materials I need to teach the Relief Society lesson on Sunday, and eat leftovers, and study. And the same for Thursday night, except for the visit from my visiting teacher(s), and Friday night. And on Saturday I should be ready to spend time with people again. I like people. I particularly like the people I am related to.

Work was good yesterday. I prayed that the one attorney would not have a tape for me to transcribe, and asked two of my friends to do likewise, and he must have gotten the message. I just sat at switchboard all day and fielded phone calls and typed drafts. I am nearly done with that, which is good, because I have a tape to transcribe for the other attorney, and it needs to be done by lunch today. And then I will polish off the rest of the drafts. I think by the time I am done, I will have typed about 60 drafts in three days. I have already gone through one and a half books of drafts, and there are 25 drafts per book, and I am about midway through a third.

This may not sound like a lot of work, but I have to make sure that the invoice has not already been paid, and that there is not a problem with the vendor which requires backup withholding, and that it’s not an expense which needs to be paid by the claims office directly. If the vendor is located in North Texas, it gets one code on the draft, and if it’s in South Texas [Austin, San Antonio, Houston, etc.] it gets another; other codes entirely for out-of-state vendors. And then the information from each draft needs to be entered into our system which tracks the expenses we incur on each lawsuit.

My personal goal is to have it all done, correctly and timely, and leave nothing undone for the secretaries. This is easier to do when I am not also answering the phones, pulling faxes, and flirting with the UPS man.

Ask me how little I miss sitting at the front desk. I am so glad that the receptionist will be back at work today; most of the local school districts had teacher inservice yesterday, and her kids are small. So she was doing the absolutely proper thing: staying home with them.

Must go hop in the tub. And then, I think, some cinnamon toast as a prelude to the real breakfast, which will be ... I have no idea. Maybe inspiration will strike while I am in the tub. Hey, it worked for Archimedes, right? [The philosopher, not the owl.]

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Wii Will, Wii Will Rock You!

So, I went back to Firstborn’s last night to knit with Middlest, except we ended up watching a great DVD for Family Home Evening and then playing Wii Bowling, where on my third game I beat Lark [my extraordinarily athletic granddaughter; that’s the fastest way to tell that this connection is of the heart and not of the gene pool] by one point! And I broke 100 all three games, and no gutter balls. Or chipped polish, or popped nails. Age of miracles? Not past!

Though Middlest cracked everybody up when she alleged that I am athletic. No; that would be a miracle even more stunning than loaves, fishes, manna, quail, or jumbo shrimp. I can dance, and I can give birth like nobody’s business, and I can run a pool table on a good night. But I’m thinking that maybe next year, if there is a bonus, I might get Wii Fit. 1BDH says there is a skiing program where you stand on the balance pad and slalom. Maybe I’ll knit myself a Calorimetry in bunny-slope colors?

I came home and wound up three balls of yarn for Middlest, to atone for the fact that there was precious little knitting last night, and hardly any time to just sit and chat. I’ll run them by the house before Knit Night. She is planning a variation on the ubiquitous Noro Striped Scarf, out of Brooks Farm Fourplay.

The elders brought me a copy of the Book of Mormon to take to my friend at work. It was waiting in the mailbox when I got home last night.

Sad news: my second-favorite yarn shop, the one I live half a mile from, is closing soon. The husband of one of the owners was transferred out of state, and for some strange reason she thinks she wants to be with her sweetheart! Wishing her all the best, and wishing that I had spare change to hit their going-out-of-business sale, but I’ve already disposed of my disposable income from this paycheck. I am going to miss their cheerful welcome and the wall of Addi Turbos in minuscule sizes.

Despite the Wii distractions of the past two evenings, and the two wee distractions on Sunday night, I am still making progress on the Mean Green Jellybeans. I could tease you by showing just how little is left of the Jitterbug; I’m at the point where I knit twelve rounds on one sock, then twelve rounds on the other, but I’m thinking that pretty soon it’s going to be six and six.

I will get to watch the Inauguration from my workstation this morning; the corporation is linking us electronically. Maybe someday we will vote in a woman who is fiscally conservative and compassionate, some hitherto-undiscovered [and completely irrelevant] ethnicity, and LDS. In the meantime, hail to the Chief. And I think it’s time for me to haul out Dave and listen to Kevin Kline sing hail to the Chief, he’s the one we all sing hail to.

I will miss W, and I am truly looking forward to the next four years. What a wonderful time to be alive.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Good to Remember

MamaSays, thank you for letting me know that MovieMom is now on belief.net. I have added her to my Bloglines. This was waiting for me when I came home from church. How thankful I am that I am never entirely alone, that I have wonderful friends at work and at church, and that I have an eternal Friend who marked the path for me.

I came home and cooked. Macaroni and cheese and cauliflower, based on the recipe in the February issue of Real Simple. I added a box of frozen peas and used half of the smallest head of cauliflower I could find. I loathe cauliflower, and I know it’s good for me. Considering how much cheese and other good stuff I threw in, I figured I could sneak it past my tastebuds before they knew what had happened.

It calls for a cup and a half of grated extra-sharp cheese. I grated 8 oz of sharp and was thinking about grating in some Asiago, but I put in a cup of sour cream and another cup of crème fraîche, instead of the cup and a half of light sour cream specified. I left out the low-fat milk because it was creamy enough. And I tried a new variety of sweet white onion that didn’t stink up my kitchen and added much to the mix. I’ve never much cared for onions, but now my body seems to tolerate them better.

I omitted the breading on top. Not a big fan of parsley, flat-leaf or otherwise, and that was a major part of the breading. Even less of a fan of broiling stuff, even though it makes a prettier presentation. It used to drive me nuts when I was a kid. Mom made white sauce from scratch, melted Velveeta into it [because that’s what I would eat], stirred it all together, and baked the casserole in the oven for an additional half hour. She would top it with the last crumbs of the potato chips we had with the hamburgers she made every Saturday night. And I would be a whiny, ungrateful, starving mess when she finally took the casserole out of the oven and served it to us.

It’s one thing to graciously enjoy/endure delayed gratification in terms of romance. But I’m willing to forego at least some garnishes in order to legitimately satisfy one of my appetites!

I had a serving of the mac and cheese when it came out of the oven yesterday. No, I didn’t fool my tastebuds; they knew there was something suspiciously cruciferous every few bites. But I mostly enjoyed it, and I think I could get used to it. I have the batch divvied up in one-serving and two-serving portions and will take some to work today. And a deviled egg sandwich to eat on the drive home.

Since it’s a holiday, fewer trains will be running, and I will be driving in. And since Middlest has to work tomorrow night, she asked me to come over tonight so we can get our weekly knitting in. I will hit Knit Night tomorrow night as well. [Welcome to the all-knitting, all-the-time channel!]

I thought I would be going to Secondborn’s last night to have pancakes and bend the Sabbath by using her washer and dryer. We all ended up going to Firstborn’s, where the washer is so huge that I got it all done in one load of wash and two loads of drying [and that, only because I washed a couple of towels in with my dark T-shirts and slacks]. We had chili and cornbread, and we played Guitar Hero for dessert. They even got me on the mic for Fleetwood Mac’s “You Can Go Your Own Way”. I was on the money for the choruses and struggled mightily on the verses; I can’t sing deeply like Firstborn, who can cover just about anything from first-and-a-half soprano to tenor.

I know; if we didn’t love her, we’d beat her about the head and shoulders with a conductor’s baton.

BittyBubba, of course, was fascinated by all the electronics, cords, etc. Uncle 1BDH spent much of his time wrestling and distracting him so he wouldn’t try to play jump rope with the mic cord. But you ought to see that little boy boogie! He will be the darling of the youth dances at church in a few more years. BittyBit had a blast playing drums; they quietly turned off that part so she wouldn’t get them booed off the stage, and I suspect that in a few years she will be able to hold her own on drums, guitars, and vocals.

And now if you will all excuse me, I think the chocolate is melted for the triple chocolate muffins from my Williams-Sonoma muffin/quickbread cookbook. I haven’t made these for about four years; we are talking seriously geriatric baking chocolate here, but it smells just fine from where I sit. Two of these should just about equal the large double-chocolate muffins I get from the deli at work, both in terms of volume and caloric density. Not to mention that I had everything I needed in my pantry, so I will save between $5 and $10 over the next two weeks without feeling deprived.

I think that next payday I want to go to Costco with one of the girls and pick up a case or two of individually-portioned fruit juices. They could go into my pantry and year’s supply and would save me another $7.50 a week at the deli. Typically I bring the bottles home, rinse them out thoroughly, and take them back filled with fruit juice from home, and once again with 1%, at which point I pitch them. [I really should bring them home and recycle them. Baby steps.]

The smell of chocolate is about to overwhelm me, so I’d better get out to the kitchen and finish making those muffins. I’m also incorporating all the crumbs and broken bits of pecan from the bag of pecans that my home teacher gave me for Christmas, year before last. I have about a pie’s worth of unbroken halves still in the freezer from that batch, and an untouched bag from when they came to dinner last fall. There is also a recipe for ginger-pear muffins in the same cookbook, and I think it calls for pecans as well.

Nobody’s starving chez Ravelled.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

List-ing slightly to starboard -- AND -- a wedding [not mine!] -- AND -- a marriage [ditto!]

Firstborn had this on her blog recently. What have you done on the list? I have saved some of her comments, deleted others, and added some of my own.

1. Started your own blog [duh]
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band [does banging pot lids with other kids in the neighborhood to approximately the tune of “Henry the Eighth” when I was 14 and had a crush on the boy across the street, count?
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than you can afford to charity Every payday. You don’t tithe because you have money; you tithe because you have faith
7. Been to Disneyland [no, Firstborn, Disney World does not count]
8. Climbed a mountain (Firstborn deems Enchanted Rock to count as we live in TX and there aren’t really any mountains. I climbed Enchanted Rock on what would have been my twenty-first wedding anniversary after my divorce from her dad. But I have also hiked the hills above Boise.)
9. Held a praying mantis garter snake. Snakes are cool. I was the only girl in the neighborhood who didn’t run screaming.
10. Sang a solo
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch [Tatting. Scrapbooking. Spinning. Weaving. Driving a stick shift. Milking a goat. Quilting. (How long do you have?)]
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning [not serious enough to be hospitalized]
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown your own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitch hiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb kid [4-legged as opposed to two]
26. Gone skinny dipping [suit always fits, though these days it bags around the ankles]
27. Run a Marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen an eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors [do Colorado and Oklahoma count?]
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught yourself a new language [resurrected my high school French via the Le Livre du Mormon et Cantiques (the hymnal) and picked up a smattering of German, plus I speak Texan as well as standard English, and I sign (badly, these days)]
37. Had enough money to be satisfied [that’s not what gives me satisfaction].
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant Often, if you count drive-ins and the people who stand at corners and beg.
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had your portrait painted [non-caricature at the Western Idaho State Fair, and another commissioned by a friend about ten years ago; we didn’t like it, and the artist has probably long since painted over it]
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater [necked at a drive-in theater; more than once]
55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class belly-dancing class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen [almost; helped make sandwiches at church for the Night Shelter]
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies [bought some yesterday]
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got [myself] flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone skydiving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy [left behind in one of many moves]
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten Caviar [you can have my share; ditto, calamari]
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle [dirt bike up in the hills, over the crest, through a bush full of Monarch butterflies. They taste bad.]
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book [three self-published (poetry) chapbooks; Great American Novel in a notebook in one of my drawers]
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible [yea, verily, and more than once]
86. Visited the White House [and the Smithsonian]
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life [maybe; not that I know of; does all the time I didn’t strangle my teenagers count?]
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous [Orson Scott Card, at a book signing]
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby [been there, done that, have the stretch marks]
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit [two, count ’em, two divorces]
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee
100. Milked a cow goat
101. Never had a cavity
102. Had a dream come true [5 kids!]
103. Had surgery in the hospital
104. Drove a stick shift car
105. Shoed and rode a horse
106. Capsized a sail-boat
107. Recorded a CD
108. Burped the Alphabet [eww, no!]
109. Sang in an Opera
110. Gotten a piercing [ears only, but multiple] or a tattoo.
111. Eaten an entire meal from the Costco sample tables. [now Central Market? that’s another story]

About a year ago, I got a call from the boyfriend I mentioned in yesterday’s post, the one I dated for a year and a half, beginning about two and a half years after my divorce was final. He was good to me and good for me, and we remained friends even after I stopped dating him, at least until First Hubby came back into the picture.

I was pretty sure that I didn’t want to rekindle anything with First Hubby. And I was definitely sure that the ex-boyfriend was not The One; but I had been so content dating him that there was no room in my heart or my life for somebody who could become a permanent part of my life. And I wanted no distractions while I sorted out what was what with First Hubby.

That was the only break-up I have truly managed well, in that it was bilateral. Or bicameral. Or something. [I did an excellent job on my end, breaking up with Brother Abacus, other than the fact that he wasn’t there to tell face to face, so I had to call him on his behavior via letter.]

Anyway. I was afraid when I got the call last year from the former boyfriend, that he wanted to get back together, and I did not want to do that for numerous excellent reasons. So I asked him to call me after LittleBit graduated and I had completed my move to new digs. He’s older than I; I figured he might have a senior moment [not statistically likely; he was one sharp cookie, but you never know] and forget that he had called me.

He called again yesterday afternoon; I recognized the number on my cell phone. He’s getting married on Valentine’s Day, to the woman who was [ahem] his bed buddy while we were dating. [Hey, I didn’t resent her in the slightest; she took all the pressure off me! And since I was (A) not going to be intimate with him and (B) free to date anybody else I chose, I was perfectly safe, and it was entirely his moral dilemma. And hers.]

Sometimes they really do marry the cow. Let the record show that once in a blue moon, my mother was wrong!

So as not to end on that cynical note, I’ll share my newest brainstorm. One of the attorneys in my office sat down with his wife and made a list of 25 things to do to celebrate their 25th anniversary. I’m thinking of a shorter list for this year, one item for each year of my life. Not necessarily something I haven’t done; maybe just something I haven’t done in awhile. [Yes, kissing would be somewhere in that list, maybe even in the top 10. You had to ask?]

Oye. To the veh. On the drive to the dance last night, with a sister in my ward and a sister in the stake riding along, I commented that next time we should drag the Silver Fox [that is not how I referred to him; I do occasionally know how to be discreet]. And the sister in my ward said, “Him? He’s married. His wife lives in Houston. She was up here the Sunday before Christmas, and he was sitting there with his arm around her shoulder.” That would be the Sunday that I went to church in Firstborn’s ward.

It was a good thing it was after sundown, so she could not see how deeply I was blushing. I told Brother Sushi at the dance last night. After he picked his jaw up off the table, all he could manage was “OOPS!” So the incident of the hand on the knee must have been an entirely avuncular gesture, and I will make sure that I sit on the other side of the classroom from here on out, and in a couple of days I will stop blushing and feeling like an idjit.

And life will go on, and as Brother Sushi said, that’s one more I can cross off the list [of bad dates and/or misreadings and/or miscommunications before Brother Right drags his sorry self into my life].

On the other hand, the dance was good, very good, and there is still a chance that I will be able to climb out of bed later this morning without radioing for backup. Though following “Suavemente” with “Achy Breaky Heart” and then “The Cotton-Eyed Joe”, just about did me in.

I think I will just open up that convent I’ve been talking about for ten years or so. I think it would be simpler, and way easier on my heart. And in the meantime, I will need to take the Marriagometer in for a tune-up, because while it clearly registered “he’s not flirting with you, honey”, it blipped right over the important fact that the only way he would be more unavailable, would be if he were gay.

I’m going to bed, where I will arm-wrestle with the Sandman and probably punch him in the schnozz in a fit of pique.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Sour Cream Effect

The old boyfriend [the one I dated for a year and a half, not the one who ghosted on me] and I had dinner once a week. This was before the late Brother Stilts and the very-much-alive Brother Sushi became part of my world. Frequently we ate Mexican food of one sort or another: Tex-Mex, Mex-Mex, or New-Mex-Mex.

For some people, it’s all about the tamales. And I do appreciate the effort and artistry that goes into making tamales, but I am funny [OK, maybe a little weird] about corn. I like my corn frozen or canned and far from the cob; definitely not creamed, though I loved it as a child, before Niblets nibbled their way into my heart. And I love cornbread. I use my mother’s recipe, from the back of the Albers cornmeal bag. Yankee cornbread. Yellow cornmeal, and a quarter-cup of sugar. Sliced into nine squares, each neatly subdivided into a top half and a bottom half, with a sliver of butter on each, and washed down with plenty of milk or buttermilk.

I do not like tamales. I like the fillings just fine, but not the steamed cornmeal that surrounds them. No rational reason for it. [Not all that crazy about grits, either, though LittleBit loves them; she got custody of the two small containers of grits when we divvied things up last year.] I suppose I feel about what goes between the filling and the cornhusks the way my girls felt about stuffing/dressing when they were little.

“Eww. Wetbread.”

So for me, it has pretty much always been about the enchiladas. And most likely the sour cream chicken enchiladas. Last night I had enchiladas with Brother Sushi, at our favorite restaurant, the one owned by the aunt of someone he knows. Nelda’s, down on Far South Cooper in Mansfield, almost to the intersection with 287.

Bliss. I had the triple plate: one sour cream chicken enchilada, one beef in Colorado sauce, and one spinach in crema sauce. A mess of beans on one side of the plate, and a generous serving of rice on the other. Did I mention, bliss?

The old boyfriend used to say that he could watch the stress ebb out of me as we ate, starting at the crown of my head, moving on down through my forehead, eyes, mouth, and chin. And he learned that when the relaxation hit my chin, he had about fifteen minutes to get me home, kiss me goodnight, and gently push me through the doorway.

My life is significantly less stressful than when I had the responsibility for kids still at home. But the past couple of weeks have had rather more drama than I’d been used to, and last night the sour cream worked its magic yet again. I picked Brother Sushi up about 7:20 and dropped him off about 9:30. We were both yawning prodigiously at that point. Too tired to get out of the car and hug in front of his house. We both just kinda leaned shoulders in the middle of the car and laughed wearily.

I am so thankful for that man! It is such a blessing to be able to compare the behaviors of new men in my life with that of my established friendships. I can recognize that the friendship with Trainman is healthy, because I feel safe and peaceful in his presence. I can take my interactions with the Silver Fox and what I have observed of his teaching style and get a plausible outline of his character.

I remarked to Brother Sushi last night that while yes, I am rather smitten with the kind, decent, smart, funny Trainman, I am also not truly in love with him [at least not yet; wouldn’t take much to nudge me off the cliff], because I am also feeling that perk! when I see the Silver Fox.

And then there is the whole question of testosterone. LDS men, at least the ones I want to spend my time around, the ones who are more or less my age and have spent a lifetime pruning themselves to fit the covenants they have made, are typically buttoned-up. Not stuffy. Not boring. But disciplined. And I like that; it’s the same discipline, whether internally chosen or externally imposed, that draws me to military men, cops, and firemen.

I dated a man, not long after my baptism 30+ years ago, who was notable for his self-discipline. And I, trying hard to be a lady and to not make life any more difficult for him, or us, was never quite sure if there was any passion lurking under all that self-discipline. [There was no question at all with some of the men I dated back then; our challenge was to stay on the Lord’s side of the line.] I was crazy about that man, and I didn’t want to end my single years with a marriage that was merely dutiful and committed.

That hasn’t changed. I’ve just gotten smarter about which men to avoid and how to recognize when something isn’t working.

The Silver Fox is definitely buttoned-up, except when he is teaching. And then he just blooms! I suspect that he is doing what I do, channeling his energy into service, study, prayer, and wholesome activities. [I also think he might be shy.] So I am finding opportunities to speak with him briefly each week. I would really like to be friends with him, but since I think I might like to be more than friends with him, I need to treat him about the way I do the husbands of my friends. I don’t flirt with them. I can’t really flirt with him.


And then there is Trainman. The nimbus of testosterone about that man is something I am very much aware of. Do you remember the cartoons where somebody has baked a cake, and one of the characters floats along in the air, following the scent in the breeze?

Like that.

My guyfriends do not lack in the testosterone department. Several of them are black belts, some in multiple disciplines. They surround me with a certain level of ambient manliness that helps me to feel safe, secure, and protected. [Brother Sushi and I joke that he and a couple of others are my testosterone maintenance program. Just enough gets through to keep me sane, but not enough to cause problems.]

Any man with whom I allow myself to fall in love, will have to have approached me, and not the other way around. I want a righteous patriarch in my home [eventually, in the good time of Heaven, not two weeks from next Wednesday], and leading by example starts at asking for the first date.

I also remind myself that if it were the right time for Brother Right, he would already be in my life. So if he’s not, it’s because he’s Brother Not Quite Right, or Brother Not Right Now, or there is something that I need to be working on. Which takes any sting out of the current situation, and in the meantime there is knitting.

Which is calling my name more loudly than any human male; I must obey...

Friday, January 16, 2009

One of those days

One of those days that was absolutely glorious! You’ve known me long enough to know that I am not one of those people who walks around, beating people about the head and shoulders with the Book of Mormon. [Sometimes I am tempted, but I digress...] I am happy to answer questions when my friends have them. I try to live the principles to the best of my understanding and ability. But I am not aggressive about it.

A friend at work commented the other day that she had an issue with something that had happened in her church. Just a passing comment; she had observed it, and she was frustrated by it. Yesterday she told me that she realized what was really happening: she was having a crisis of faith. Not faith in God, but faith in her locally-administered part of the Kingdom.

I took a deep breath. “Faith is something that is very personal and very private, and I respect that. Would you like to know what my church teaches about Christ and our relationship to him?”

“Yes, I would.” Looking me straight in the eye.

“Would you like me to get you a copy of the Book of Mormon?”

“Yes, I would.” Again, looking me straight in the eye.

“OK, I’ll get one from the missionaries this weekend. Would you like me to put your name on the prayer roll at the temple?”

“Yes, I would.”

“Would you like a hug, too?”

“Oh, yes I would!”

The rest of my day was peacefully spent typing out reams of dictation while pondering this quietly in my heart. She printed off the entire book of First Nephi from lds.org. [And knowing her, will have read it before getting to work this morning.]

Can’t wait to tell the missionaries on Sunday, though if she decides that she wants to take the discussions, it will be from other elders in another stake; she lives in Dallas County.

The Mean Green Jellybeans are coming along nicely. I realized that I wanted to reverse the twist of the cables on the back of the leg, so all the cables on one side will be going in the same direction, and all the cables on the other side will mirror them. This involved tinking half a round on one sock, and frogging seven rounds on the other. I like the yarn, and it frogs well, so it was not a problem.

I printed off Clue #3 on the January Mystery Socks and realized that my printer had left off half of Clue #2 last week, the part where I was supposed to continue in K3 P1 ribbing until the socks are 6” long or as long as I want the cuffs to be. I think I will be holding off on these socks until the Mean Green Jellybeans are done. I am feeling those first stirrings of finish-itis.

Dinner with Brother Sushi tonight. My nickel, and still no idea where. The Blue Tower Cafe, which allegedly serves great burgers, closes about the time my train pulls out of the station in BigD. So, not there, obviously. I nosed around a link from my friend Francis’s blog, looking for an interesting hole in the wall, and nothing appealed to me. So we may default to the pancake house, or I may grab a pizza from Little Caesar’s on the way home. Or inspiration may hit, sometime between now and dinnertime.

Tune in tomorrow.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Miscellaneous Musings and Mutterings

@ Firstborn: thank you for your kind offer to find me some random guy to kiss. You wouldn’t have kissed anybody I picked out for you when you were a teenager. What makes you think I would kiss anybody you picked out for me, now that I’m a middleager? Besides which, it’s way more fun to find my own random guys to kiss, even if they are scarce as hen’s teeth. As I have said more than once, at my age the odds aren’t good, and the goods are definitely odd.

Trainman really likes his nickname. I told him that everybody gets a nickname, that the Near-Fiancé Experience was referred to as Brother Lucid until he demonstrated that he was better named the Brother Formerly Known as Lucid. I haven’t told him about Brother Tightly Wound. BestFriend and a couple of my daughters know exactly who that is, and how well it describes him [Firsborn’s current visiting teacher was once briefly, or maybe nearly, engaged to him].

When I merged onto the freeway from the station tonight, I wasn’t able to get over into my usual lane. [But I was going in the right direction.] Which meant that I was more or less forced to exit at 8th Avenue, which not-coincidentally leads straight to the chapel, and I did have something to add to the visiting teaching report from last week.

I also learned, from a comment by one of the brethren who was trying to figure out what I had done to the computer at church to make it so mad that it wouldn’t print my report, that the Silver Fox is 6’5”. Which is way too tall. Not that I’m suggesting we do anything to shorten his legs, but no wonder I get nosebleeds when I speak to him. And here I thought it was just a case of the vapors...

Trainman has a date, weekend after next. I find that I am only the tiniest bit wistful at being his Sancha Panza, rather than his Dulcinea [besides which, I vaguely remember how Dulcinea earned her living, and I don’t think that’s a good career choice for a grandmother].

I finished turning both heels on the Mean Green Jellybeans while feeling the living room get cooler. [I am definitely under the influence of yarn fumes.] I figure that the fireplace will kick on, just as I go to bed. It’s supposed to be 20°F overnight. And I am too frugal to kick the fireplace up a notch. The bed itself is toasty-warm, and I am heading there directly. But first I need to update my notes for the socks, before I arm-wrestle with the Sandman; otherwise I will look at those socks in the morning and wonder “How on earth did I manage that?”

[To be finished when I wake up.] Which I now am. Both awake, and up. Also clean and foofed and ready to head out the door.

As I was walking from the train to the bus yesterday morning, I overheard two women talking about “the second volume” and “the third volume”, and as one split off to cross the street and the other headed to the bus with me, I asked,“Twilight?” She nodded and grinned.

You can have Edward. I’d like Edward’s dad. He is an excellent example of how a righteous patriarch leads his family and his tribe.

I found that link through Laura Brotherson’s column; I subscribe to her newsletter, because next time around, I want to get it right. I also printed that column off and gave it to Trainman, because if there is a next time around for him, I also want him to get it right.

Grabbing my knitting, my breakfast, and my remaining marbles; heading out the door.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Thinking about kissing, so I missed my exit.

It’s all Trainman’s fault. No, he didn’t steal a smooch on the 5:35 last night. It’s a little more complicated and a whole lot less exciting than that.

I had finished the gusset increases on Sock #2 and was ready to finish tinking Sock #1 back to the same point. I reached into my bag and pulled out four empty bamboo DP’s and clamped them crosswise between my lips [lipstick long-since history, so no danger to needles or knitting there] as I worked them into the stitches on my Addi circ. About halfway around the sock, he starts chuckling.

“Oh, I know that lips-pursed-up look. I’m in trouble, and you don’t want to talk to me anymore.”

I mumbled around the two needles still in my mouth,“My lips aren’t pursed. They’re keeping my needles from falling on the floor.”

“Nope, you’re mad at me, I can tell.” This, with a big mischievous grin on his face.

I took the needles out for a minute. “No, I’m in listening mode. Your turn to talk. Fire away!”

“You kiss people with those lips? Knowing where those needles have been?”

“Not recently, no. And I know exactly where these needles have been. In my hands, which are clean, and not-on-the-floor!”

And then it developed, or possibly degenerated, into a reminiscence of the last time either of us had been kissed by somebody who knew what they were doing. December 2006 for me. And somewhat more recently for him, but still fairly pitiful.

So I got off the train and into my car and buckled my seatbelt and took off to pick up Middlest. And turned left, to go home, instead of right to head to her house. I was thinking about that last kiss from the last boyfriend.


And had to make a U-turn at the next exit.

Another Trainman story from last night. He asked if my child were out of jail yet. I told him that she had sent me a text message saying that she was out, and she was safe.

He asked if she had gotten a prison tattoo while she was in the slammer. I told him I was severely tempted to text her and ask. He egged me on. So I did. “Trainman wants to know if you got a prison tattoo? Maybe in the form of a Hot Pocket or a slice of cold pizza?” [That’s what they fed her in the hoosegow.]

“ha ha you’re funny”

And then, of course, I had to explain to him why I called him Trainman, “because it’s faster and easier than saying ‘the nice man I talk to on the train’.”

And he said, “Oh, that’s so cool. I have a nickname, and [Decorator Dude] doesn’t.”

“Actually, he does. Decorator Dude. But you got yours before he got his, because I’ve known you longer.”

The let’s-jump-off-a-cliff part of me thinks that I should tell him that I missed the exit, and it was all his fault, because he brought up the topic of kissing, and I got distracted, and maybe he should kiss it better. The smart part of me thinks I should just clamp a knitting needle [or 12] in my mouth until that urge passes.

Let me tell you about the goodness of God. You might think that this is an ordinary skein of yarn. It is not. It is a hug from my friend Tan, nominally an award for a contest on her blog, but really her way, and God’s way, of saying, “I love you, and I value you, and I value our friendship.” There is no other explanation for the fact that opening this package while I was relieving @ switchboard, should move me to tears. Thank you, ma’am!

Switching topics now, before we all get too verklempt. If you have made financial resolutions this year, you might find this helpful. Even though I am irresolute, I still thought it was interesting and useful.

@Melissa: hi, welcome, and thanks for de-lurking!

We now return you to your regularly scheduled knitting.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A Productive Evening, Another Good Night’s Sleep

When I got off the train last night, I headed straight for the nursing home to put the children’s father into the loop. He was reading quietly in his room; the girls tell me that mostly he sits on his bed and reads all day. Secondborn and 2BDH thoughtfully keep him supplied with large-print novels from the library.

We had a good visit. [The English language does not convey how much is wrapped up in those five short words.] If our situations were reversed, and I were the one reading novels in a nursing home and he were the one bustling about in the world, I would have wanted to know that one of the girls had gotten herself into a pickle, even if I could do nothing about it. [Just as I can ~ realistically ~ do nothing about it now, except to love her and pray for her and hope that she gets her act together sooner rather than later.]

So now she will have both parents praying for her. I think these strokes have paradoxically cleared his mind of a lot of clutter; he seems more lucid and more himself these days, more the man of the first few years of our marriage. I don’t know that he will ever come back to the church; I cannot see myself ever taking him back. But there is truly peace between us now, and that is a good thing.

After I left the nursing home, I popped in at Secondborn’s just in time for Family Home Evening. BittyBubba is still more of a point-and-grunt fellow, but he musters up an enthusiastic “amen!” and loves to help lead the music. I love to hear BittyBit sing; I think she might have a lovely voice like her mother and her aunts when she is older.

And then I came home and grabbed one small bag of laundry and washed a load of lights while taking the second Mean Green Jellybeans sock up to its first gusset increase. And tinking back the heel turning on the first sock; I think I increased too many stitches and will continue to tinker with it until I am satisfied.

I ate a light dinner [rice and one of the meatloaf muffins] once I got home, then knitted and read until after 11:00. Could get interesting today because of insufficient sleep, but I think I did all the important stuff last night and one urgent thing. [I was utterly out of clean socks.]

Knit Night tonight, and my kid gets out of jail in four hours. I’m feeling significantly less unRavelled this morning. Thank you for your good thoughts, kind words, and prayers.

@ Francis: I think that Brother Sushi and I will tackle that Blue Whatzit restaurant this Friday night, if they’re still open. Will let you know what I/we think of it.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Knitting up that Ravelled Sleave

A good night’s sleep did wonders. So did reading a few pages in Talmage’s Jesus the Christ. So did finishing Clue #2 on the second mystery sock.

And I am nearly to the gusset increases on the Mean Green Jellybeans.

Can’t wait until Trainman asks how my weekend went. Can’t wait to get to my desk at work, where ~ as with my knitting ~ I have some small degree of control over what happens. Feeling very thankful for that blessing yesterday; at least this morning I did not wake up with clenched shoulders, and tenderness radiating up into my neck and jaw, or possibly vice versa.

Have a little more baklavaa-a-a-ah! [second song]

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Stay me with chocolate, comfort me with croissants

With apologies to the Song of Solomon, which is the only book in the Old Testament [KJV] that we do not study in Sunday School. Not as a metaphor for the Lord's love for his church, not as an example of wedded passion, not as some of the world's oldest and most tender love poetry. For all that we are a fruitful-and-multiplying bunch, we skip right over the Song of Songs and go straight from Ecclesiastes to Isaiah without even blinking.

Not really grousing, just observing that we are better at teaching our kids that physical intimacy before marriage is BAD and can ruin their lives and their eternity, than we are at teaching them that intimacy after marriage is GOOD and is meant to be enjoyed and can heal a lot of the rough-and-tumble that is mortality.

Blame this rant on the moon, if you will; she is still having her way with my one persistent ovary.

Click to embiggen; there is a lovely charcoal-grey branch at the top of this picture that is invisible until you look closely.

On to a safer subject; I think there are few perfumes more lovely than that of a croissant fresh from the oven. My friend who runs the deli makes superb croissants. Light, flaky, the crust shattering at a touch. I had one of her croissants for a mid-morning snack on Friday, chased with a bottle of better-than-average orange juice.

And while we are on the subject of flakiness, I asked for and received a blessing from my good home teacher; I also put my visiting teacher in the loop re: what’s going on in my tribe. And yes, I feel immensely better now.

@Secondborn: that “get out of jail free” card is expired, and only good for a fashion faux pas, not a driving one. I guess I had better take it down from my page, right?

[Later] Middlest and I went to visit our jailbird, who seemed remarkably chipper about the whole incident, which of course is the fault of the police officer who wrote her the ticket. Our penitance detectors were absolutely silent, but the needles on our nonsense detectors were going berserk. [Denial is apparently flowing other places than in Egypt.] Oh well, at least she knows that I love her, even if she is mad at me for tough-loving her over the past several months. I was going to drive over to the nursing home and put her father in the loop, but after driving back to Fort Worth, I just want to put my jammies on and knit until it’s time for reading and then bed.

He would probably only say “I don’t know what you want me to do about it.” This is one of those times when I understand why some species eat their young. And why Mrs. Mantis behaves the way she does.

The evening was not a total loss, however; I had several hours of near-hysterical laughter with Middlest, Fourthborn and Fiancé, visiting with Fourthborn’s new doll, who has the dearest elfie ears [rather like LittleBit’s when she was small] and teeny vampire teeth, while adding row after row to the second Mean Green Jellybeans sock. Fiancé also sent me home with a plate of baklava which they had been given. I am heading out to the kitchen in a minute to fix a small plate of edible joy and proceed to eat my feelings.

Church today was even better than baklava. Both the talks in sacrament had principles that are immediately applicable to my current challenges, and one of them was given by the Silver Fox. And the closing hymn was “Let Us Oft Speak Kind Words to Each Other.”

And people think the Almighty has no sense of humor?