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!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

A sad week at work

On Monday, the brother of one of my coworkers died; she and her daughter will be back today, in time to close business for the month.

Yesterday, the daughter one of our legal secretaries was stillborn. Not much of legal consequence got done yesterday. A few depositions outside the office, a mediation here and there. Mostly we talked quietly and cried and [I suspect] prayed silently. Her attorney, her best friend, the paralegal, the managing attorney, and the office manager visited her briefly at the hospital and held the baby. They are trying to get her mother [the grandmother] here from out of state in time to hold the baby. We are taking up a collection to have meals delivered once our friend goes home from the hospital.

This is the sort of thing that Relief Society does so well. We mourn with those who mourn, comfort those who need comforting, nourish the physically and spiritually hungry. Thankfully, my young friend has faith in Christ to help her bear this blow.

We will return you to our regularly scheduled meanderings, tomorrow. Hug your loved ones, if you have them. Life is precious.

Girls, I love you. Just in case there was any question.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Specs and the Single Girl

So we did the Optomap pictures of my retinas. And he got such clear shots of my retinas that we did not have to dilate my eyes, woohoo! Then I walked over to the optical shop and found a pair of frames I liked. Unfortunately, they were not non-reactive metal, and I am rather fond of how well the current frames have held up for three years. No bronzy-green gunk has accumulated around the bits that hold my nose pads.

She started bringing me frames. I didn’t want any of the narrow, squinchy ones. I wasn’t crazy about most of the ones she found. And then I said, “You know, this time around, I think I would like clip-on sunglasses.” Because I knew I couldn’t afford two pairs of glasses, and I face into the sun on both legs of my commute.

That opened up new choices. She brought me two rhinestoned monstrosities creations that would be fine for Red Hat events, but (A) my name is not Lola, and I am not a showgirl, and (B) they reminded me of my second pair of cat-eye glasses when I was 10, only moreso.

Yes, sad to say I have not always been the paragon of good taste that you know and love today.

Then she brought me a really cool pair, where the shades hang onto the spec frames by way of small but über-powerful magnets [this is new technology to me, guys, be gentle with me]. The spec frame is two toned, a bronzy chocolate accented with black, and the shade frame is bronzy chocolate, and where they join together it’s a little Art-Deco-ish. I really like them, and ever since I had to give up my red plastic Sally Jessie’s, I have not been overly enthusiastic about getting new frames.

I also have the featherweight lenses, and the non-glare coating on both sides and the no-lines multi-focal magic, and without insurance this would have set me back 850 smackers. But with my vision insurance, I came in under what I had budgeted, which means that since I did not buy the yarn I had also budgeted for Friday, I now have the option of buying one of those cute jackets I saw at Coldwater Creek and more of their dressy T-shirts to replace the ones I bought at Avenue two years ago which are now stained [the backs of which are destined to become doll clothing].

He told me he’d see me in a year and a half! My left eye is virtually unchanged, and my right eye is slightly more far-sighted than the last time he checked them. No signs of eye disease or of any of the symptoms that indicate other health problems. [Did you know that your retinas are tattletales?]

I got more secretarial training yesterday, and the secretary who trained me emailed the office manager to tell her that she had made me a cheat sheet but I hadn’t had to use it, and that I know as much about filing the electronic [scanned] mail as any secretary in the office. I may get to take on some of her attorney’s dictation, too.

So it was a great day, and I bound off the first baby sock after I got home from the shower last night and did not inhale too many of those meatballs with the sauce made of ketchup, chili sauce, and grape jelly.

And I went to bed about the time I finished doing the laundry on Monday night.

Monday, April 27, 2009

It’s 10:42pm; do you know where your mother is?

The laundry is done, until next time. Cue the MoTab and Brother Handel’s famous chorus. I am sitting here at the keyboard with a pint of Blue Bell Rocky Road, my reward for getting through this day.

I made it to the T&P station in plenty of time with the start of a baby sock on my needles. I have finished the cuff, the heel flap, and am halfway through the heel turning. I’m using an orphan skein of Claudia’s handpainted in rich browns, reds, and greys; it has been marinating in my stash since late 2006 and will make a wee manly sock for a dear little man. And there will probably be enough yarn leftover to make a pair for BittyBubba, and maybe another pair for his own incipient bubba.

Had a phone meeting with the office manager this afternoon as she was heading out to an appointment. She is tweaking my job, handing off some of my longtime responsibilities to others on the admin team, and giving me a second legal secretary to mentor me. This is a secretary who has told me in the past that she would be happy to teach me anything that will get me away from those phones for good!

I feel amazingly, incredibly blessed.

All the pieces to BittyBit’s sweater appear to be thoroughly dry. I’m going to focus on getting at least one complete sock finished before the shower tomorrow night, and then I’ll put her sweater together and do the crocheted borders all the way around and go find one perfect button.

I get my eyes examined tomorrow. [Yes, I know there are some of you who are thinking, why stop at just the eyes?] The doctor has been pushing me for the past five years or so to have an Optomap Retinal Exam, which is not covered by my insurance. This year, I’ve budgeted for it. It’s not a particularly expensive procedure; it’s just that my budget has been tight and I thought the money could be better spent elsewhere.

And then I’ll drive in to work; we are going to be short-handed, as the brother of one of my friends passed away this morning.

That delicious aroma you smell is roast elephant, with raspberry chipotle sauce. You know, the elephant I am eating one demitasse spoonful at a time.

I’m going to dash through my Bloglines and then set the timer for 15 minutes and put my feet up on the couch.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Bishop’s Right-Hand Ma’am

News from the weekend: my friend N’s oldest son D, who is one year older than Firstborn, is finally and blessedly engaged! I met his beloved on Saturday morning at the singles’ conference and immediately texted Firstborn.

Not-news from the weekend: if Brother Right was in attendance, he was wearing his invisibility cloak. I am singularly [pun intended] not-disappointed. To paraphrase the White Rabbit, “I’m late, I’m late, don’t really have time to date, no time to say goodbye, hello, I’m late, I’m late, I’m late.”

BittyBit’s sweater is blocking. I hope it will be sufficiently dry by bedtime. Otherwise I am going to have to sleep out here on the couch, and I’m not sure where I would plug in my CPAP.

I have been sustained and set apart. I am the new Relief Society president in my ward. Firstborn and 1BDH and Lark and Middlest were able to be there; 2BDH had meetings that required his presence, and the Bitties were uncooperative in terms of getting dressed, so Secondborn wasn’t able to be there in the flesh, but I have no doubt that she was there in the spirit.

When I was set apart for my calling 1BDH was able to stand in the circle with the other brethren. He is such a good man, and I am so proud to claim him as a son.

After church I went over to the nursing home and put the children’s father into the loop. I particularly asked him to pray for our kids, as I am likely to be less available to them, especially while I’m getting my sea legs.

And now I am home, with a little less than four hours before I need to pick up one of the sisters in our ward and head back to Arlington for the singles’ fireside.

This week we have our first meeting as a presidency, and my companion is calling to set up deathbed-repentance visiting teaching appointments, and there is a memorial service on Saturday, and a baby shower on Tuesday night, which means that I need to grab my needles and some yarn and whip out a pair of socks or booties, stat! But first I want to get the sleeve of my sweater finished. I think I am six or eight rows from the armscye. I was knitting on autopilot in Sunday School class and during the lesson in Relief Society; that sleeve might be more appropriate for King Kong.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Much too young to feel this d@mn old

It has been a really great day. A really, really long, really great day. The meeting this morning went well: informative, inspiring. The speakers and presenters at the singles’ conference were exceptional. Easily the best I have enjoyed in ten years of attending conferences like this. The food was good, too.

And I am blessedly weary, and my feet hurt from dancing, and my ankles are swollen because we did not move from room to room for our workshops; instead we sat in the chapel or the overflow, and the teachers came to us, and we had ten minute breaks between the classes. I needed a little more movement during the day, but that is my only quibble.

After the last workshop and before dinner, the Texas Boys Choir serenaded us. I love good music, and this was definitely good music. And now I am home, maybe an hour to an hour and a half early [I left the dance a little after 10:00], and am ready to slug down some milk, brush my teeth, and call it a day.

BittyBit’s sweater has been soaking in Eucalan all day and is now draining. Not sure if I have enough oomph to pin it out tonight. There was quite a bit of excess dye in the water; I might soak it in a fresh solution overnight and then pin it out before church tomorrow.

There is a fireside in Arlington tomorrow night, the last activity in the conference. I am hoping to be sufficiently recovered by then to feel like attending. At the moment, I just want to be horizontal and unconscious.

The first sleeve on the Sunrise Circle Jacket is almost to the underarm. I ran out of one of the yarns at the tail end of tonight’s keynote address.

Life is good.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Friday, woohoo!

I slept in until nearly 7:00am. So that would be the first miracle of the day. I just finished binding off the neck of the Sunrise Circle Jacket and have updated my project notes on Ravelry.

Next on the agenda is the kitchen sink. And after that, a bath.

I’ve already printed off my map to the DFW Fiber Fest and need to decide for which projects I will be acquiring yarn. I’m not taking any of the classes this year. It might have been nice to take one of the spinning classes, as I’m definitely rusty, but while I could afford it in terms of cash, this is the weekend of the singles’ conference, and for me that takes precedence. Maybe next year they won’t coincide, and I can take my spinning up to the next level. Or at least regain the facility I once had.

The elders called last night while I was at the temple. I had forgotten that I signed up to feed them tonight. [Yes, it was in my planner, but it was tucked under my notes for Fiber Fest.] Which definitely means another drive-by fooding, as I hope to be sitting in the air-conditioned comfort of Nelda’s this evening, sharing my favorite Tex-Mex restaurant with the Trainman. Nelda’s is definitely out of their assigned area.

I can tell already that I am going to need more hours today than are possible. Or even plausible. That chortle you heard was me, laughing gently at myself.

My eye doctor, bless him, sent an e-confirmation and e-update. I think it has been three years since I saw him last. I am definitely overdue for new specs. But that, thankfully, is Tuesday morning, and maybe I will have slept by then.

I wonder if I can shoehorn new planner pages into my already overfilled day? I think the Franklin-Covey store is not far out of the way on my trip to Addison.

Wish me luck!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

DVD’s back to the library? Check!
A full tank of gas for Lorelai? Check!
Pantihose to dance through the feet of? Check!
Admin lunch with the office manager and the rest of my team at Panera? Check!
Temple work? Check!
Milkshake for the trip home? Check!
[I skipped the ice cream social in favor of a relatively early bedtime.]
Four new DVD’s for $30 and change? Check!

I am going to sit on the couch and watch the first episode of Lord of the Rings. Or as much of it as I can manage before I doze off. I scored all three parts of the trilogy for $5.99 each, and Wall-E for $9.99. I’ve not watched any of them. Ever. Well, bits of one of the LOTR movies, but not to sit down at the beginning and grouse about all the good stuff they left out.

I’m better than half done with the raglan decreases. Maybe 2/3 done? I’ve decreased enough stitches that each row is starting to zip by, and I might get as far as the purl bump at the start of the neck hem before my brain and hands holler “uncle”. Which just might get me past the opening credits...

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Almost done with Wednesday

Data entered into the computer at church, another quick visit with the bishop, great fun talking with a couple of the other leadership in between and afterward.

Lots of good knitting, too. I am maybe one-third done with the raglan decreases. The pattern has you do a decrease row, work a row even [purling back], a second decrease row, and three rows even. But the pattern wasn’t designed for striping like I’m doing, where it’s knit a row with color A, go back to the right edge and knit a row with color B, bring color A up the side and purl back, go back to the [new] right edge and purl back with color B. So it makes just as much sense to do the decreases every third row, since half of them will be on purl rows anyway, even if I stuck with the original pattern. And it makes for a less lurchy edge.

Note to my kids: at this point it looks like I will be sustained this coming Sunday. I will call LittleBit at the store and leave a message for her. My church starts at 9:00, sacrament meeting first. Be there or be square.

And now if you will all excuse me, I need to put the [cold] pizza in the fridge and curl up on the couch with my knitting and a movie. The movies have to go back to the library tomorrow, and for safety’s sake it had better be in the wee hours of the morning, because I’m heading to the temple right after work.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

I didn’t fall in.

Just no time to post this morning. I was up until midnight, last night, because when I grabbed dinner last night on the way to my meeting with the RS president, I ordered what I thought was a small soda, and it was at least a quart of Coca-Cola. I had to nuke a mug of milk to more or less neutralize it so I could get any sleep at all.

I have reached the armholes on the Sunrise Circle Jacket. I may start the raglan decreases before hitting the hay.

Good visit with Middlest tonight, before and after Knit Night.

I was surprisingly productive at work for somebody who only wanted to faceplant into my keyboard.

Have texted Middlest to tell her, “Home and safe.” Am going to nuke another mug of milk and see if I can stay awake during my prayers.

Monday and Tuesday down, Wednesday and Thursday to go, and a bit of a break on Friday. We can do this.

Posts might be a little thin on the ground for the next week or so. But I’m healthy and happy and determined to stay that way...

Monday, April 20, 2009

In which Ms. Ravelled talks to herself. And others.

So, what was it that made Saturday night’s dance different from better than the others? The music was definitely part of the equation. Although after the third Latin song in a row, I raised an eyebrow at Brother Sushi and asked him if he’d had Tex-Mex for lunch. [No, merely two requests, and that’s how they had panned out.]

He did, at one point, suggest that I cover my ears.

“Oh, man, are you playing Michael Jackson? Ewww!” He grinned as the opening notes of “Billie Jean” moonwalked out into the room. Very hard song not to get up and dance to, but I [try to] hold fast to my standards.

I think one of the two guys I dropped an email to in the past couple of weeks [which was not responded to, but we are not surprised, right?] was at the dance. Wow, two mangled infinitives in one sentence. Maybe I should just go back to bed.

That good brother didn’t ask me to dance, either, but it was fun watching him dance with the skinny wenches. He doesn’t seem to have as crisp a lead as Brother Yummy, but he does move gracefully.

I’ll wait for crisp.

In talking with my friend who is newly-engaged, she spoke of how her prayers had changed during the time that she was single. At first she had prayed for somebody who would love her, and she dated a guy who was really nice but had children with serious problems that she didn’t want to inflict upon her kids. And then she spent awhile telling God that she didn’t know what or whom to pray for. And one night she had the impression “Please just tell Me the kind of man you want.” So she did. And within days, the man she is marrying next month, called to ask her out.

I did a little tweaking of my own, on the drive home from the dance. I told Him the character qualities I so enjoy in Brother Sushi. And the ones in Trainman that make me feel so comfortable and safe. And what I like about my good friend T, the other silver fox who has been my friend for going on a year and a half now. [And who still doesn’t have a suitable code name.] Not forgetting Brother Karitas.

And what I think I need from an eternal companion. And what I am willing to give.

I have zero expectation of meeting anybody like that at the conference next weekend. But maybe the slightest inkling of hope after all; anyway, it is good to remind myself of what I’m waiting for, and why it will be worth every minute of the wait. And to give thanks that this still does not feel urgent to me, or anxiety-provoking.

Oh, now this is scary. As I walked into the meetinghouse yesterday, the executive secretary was waiting at the door. “Bishop would like to meet with you at 2:30.” Which pretty much destroyed my concentration for all three of our church meetings. That little bot running in the back of my head, “What’s my new calling going to be? Oh please, not the nursery leader.”

And it wasn’t. [Yay!!!!!] I’ll be able to tell you once I’ve been sustained and set apart. Probably not next Sunday. Possibly the Sunday after that. The church, like the Army, has a lot of hurry-up-and-wait. But it confirms to me that Heaven has an excellent sense of humor. That’s all I’m going to say for now, except that I would love it if my kids could be there when I’m set apart.

Much knitting progress yesterday. I made it all the way up the back to the beginning of the darts. This is going very quickly, maybe because I’ve already made the back once before? And I was reminded at church yesterday that in the service auction, I committed to make a scarf for my friend the Relief Society president, who will be leaving our ward shortly to get married and live in the hinterlands of Missouri. I had completely forgotten, what with the excitement over the new grandchild, the towing of Lorelai, the mortgaging of my bonus to the IRS. Little things like that. I hauled out a skein of laceweight before going to bed last night. I’m hoping to get it wound into a cake before I leave for work this morning. But if not that, then before I go to bed tonight.

I’m really glad that I had a long weekend, because I have something going every night this week. A meeting with the RS president tonight to discuss my calling [we are both single, so we’re calling it Family Home Evening], Knit Night tomorrow night, entering the details on visiting teaching into the computer at church on Wednesday and printing up report forms for the sisters who report to me, the temple session of the singles’ conference on Thursday night, Friday blessedly off for the D/FW Fiber Fest and [probably] dinner with the Trainman to celebrate my raise and maybe [hopefully] dragging him along to the dance that night, a meeting at 10:00 on Saturday morning that conflicts with the opening exercises for the singles’ conference *and* my promise to convey two of the sisters in my ward who do not drive at night, lectures all day on Saturday, dinner and a dance that night, and the usual round of meetings on Sunday plus a fireside to wind up the singles’ conference on Sunday night.

Why do I suddenly feel as if I were deja vu’ing LittleBit’s senior year?

Tub. Bath. Timer, so as not to doze off in same. Thankfully, I know what I’m wearing today, and I set it out last night, and my juice and milk are already bottled and ready to go.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Yes, I did make it to the arts festival.


I caught the 5:58 on Saturday night and rode it to the next stop, which was two blocks from the south end of the booths. Heard some really great blues while walking about; at one point I called Trainman’s cell and left him an exceedingly musical voicemail, in the finest nanny-nanny-boo-boo mode.

It took me a little over an hour to walk the east side booths, chatting with the artists and picking up business cards, scribbling on the back of the cards just what it was that I had liked. It took me a little over half an hour to walk the west side, because I was tired and hungry and didn’t want to shell out cash for coupons to buy mediocre food. If 6 or 7 or 9 coupons = one beer [which of course I could and would not have], I wondered: how many coupons to flirt with a cop? There were a lot of Fort Worth’s finest in evidence, some of them fine indeed.

I behaved myself; I promise!

The artist whose work I fell in love with last year, was back again this year, and I got to speak to him. His wife is a knitter! And while I mostly ignored the jewelry, there was one woman whose work is both whimsical and exquisitely crafted. I think I will just stick $10 in each of two envelopes, every payday, until I have enough to buy the print from Artist A and a pin from Artist B.

[Now I am a little hungry for Chinese food, because I am old enough to remember the joke...]

And in the random-acts-of-artness category, I saw a ladybug which had been made from a hard-hat, or maybe an old metal motorcycle helmet or WWII helmet, or maybe Sally Fields’s hairdo from Steel Magnolias, and painted and embellished. No, I am not buying one. But it made me grin hugely.

Had a great visit with BestFriend. We sat on the couch and nattered away, then ran over to Lucile’s for bowls of lobster bisque and fresh-baked rolls, followed with entirely too much decadent dessert [Black Bottom Key Lime Pie for me; a moist, dense slice of chocolate cake for her]. We drove around my part of town. She showed me where my ward’s old meetinghouse is. We found Saint Emilion, a tiny and spendy French restaurant that we’ve put on the list for some day when we are both flush. I showed her my chapel, and the gorgeous house I posted about week before last, and then we came home by way of Ryan Place, which is full of lovely huge old houses and small cottages like this one.

And then I took a nap. When I woke up, I grabbed my bag of pretzels to donate to the munchies table, and I drove all the way across Dallas to the dance, which was the first dance since New Year’s that I had the kind of blast I used to have all the time. *Two* dances with Brother Yummy, good conversation with Brother Sushi, lots of hugs with various and sundry friends, and congratulations to two friends who are graduating the singles program [i.e., getting married, not getting carried feet-first out of their respective chapels].

I got home at 12:45 on the dot. The remainder of the key lime pie is now down the hatch, and I’m just waiting for it to settle so I can sleep all night without a visit from the Heartburn Fairy and her nasty sister, the Reflux Fairy. They don’t come here often, but they are never, ever welcome when they do.

In knitting news, I have almost 4” done on the current incarnation of the Sunrise Circle Jacket. I am alternating rows with the two yarns: one-row stripes rather than the traditionally advocated two-row stripes, because the differences in dye lot are so distinct as to produce two nearly unrelated colors. The yarn I have had for 20+ years is a true turquoise. The yarn I bought from my fellow Raveler this year is a lovely teal. In the light cast by the ceiling fan here in the living room, they are closer in hue. In daylight and fluorescent light they are dangerously close to “what was I thinking?” territory. But the fabric which they make when alternated is rich and lively, and I think I will enjoy the finished sweater.

We are sneaking up on 2:00am. I am almost ready to call it a day. But I think I will knit one more row. Maybe two.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

What I did, instead.

More rain yesterday. Buckets and buckets of rain, what we in Texas call a frog-strangler. I sat on the couch and finished knitting BittyBit’s sweater.

And then I changed into my grubbies and shoved things around in my bedroom. Some of them even got hung up in the closet, put in the back seat of Lorelai to be given away, or mercifully euthanized [the black chenille sweater which had seen better days]. I found a box labeled “dining room” that was full of crumpled newspaper. Why it hadn’t made the trek out to the recycling bin long before this, is a mystery.

I frogged the back of the Sunrise Circle Jacket, and that yarn is taking a little siesta until it’s ready for another attempt, in which it will alternate rows with the new yarn [bought from another Raveler], which is allegedly in the same colorway. I’m wondering what that purl-bump turning ridge is going to look like, with half of the bumps in one yarn and the other half in the second. Oh well, if that doesn’t make it look on-purpose, nothing will. Though I am sortof thinking about doing a provisional cast-on and working the facings in a contrasting color.

Movie Mom recommended a film that went straight to video. I checked it out from the library, and I liked it. I Could Never Be Your Woman. Stupid title, some language but no F-bombs, cute clothes. [Well, not on her ex-husband.] I watched it while frogging. And frogging. And frogging some more.

I also checked out The Lady Eve and a compilation of four Mae West movies.

I surgically removed a bunch of dead leeks from the crisper and flung them unceremoniously onto the compost pile, along with half a bag of sprouted potatoes. And emptied the shredder. And sorted through a pile of paper that has crept in since the last time the Good Housekeeping Fairy smacked me with her wand. And put the umbrella swift and the ball winder back in my studio. All the little piddly things that contribute to chaos or order. I wish this stuff could magically take care of itself, or that I could wiggle my nose like Samantha or warble bibbity-bobbity-boo and be done with it. But there’s no doubt in my mind that puttering plays an important role in my growth as a human being; it’s all a matter of balance and stewardship.

There is also no doubt in my mind that I have been procrastinating some much-needed puttering in the kitchen. I put some food-storage items into use yesterday, and I need to tweak the cupboards, and there is the inevitable washing-up, which I have been [ahem] eviting.

Who knows? I might even get the batteries into the remote I bought last weekend, and the DVD/VHS player hooked up and the old gadgets donated. And the last three walls in my bedroom painted, or at least the two which flank the bed. Painted walls = possibly rotating the bed 45° into the corner, and attaching the headboard, and slipping the ficus into the space behind the bed [which means more room in the hall, because I wouldn’t have to move the tree to walk into the studio] and getting the dust ruffle out of a box and into place, and maybe even rotating the mattress.

After all that, world peace would be a snap, right?

BestFriend is coming over later this morning. Can’t wait to see her!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Happy Birthday to Me!

Kristen made a good point in her comment yesterday. We do always owe Uncle Sugar. And it’s just a matter of timing as to which of us earns the interest on the money. My finances have been so precarious, much of my adult life, that it has been more prudent for me to pay in too much and get something back the next spring rather than have a tax bite that equaled my food budget for three months. We used the windfall cash infusion to buy things we couldn’t have afforded otherwise; that’s how I got my first spinning wheel. It’s how a lot of poor people save money. It was the only way I could have saved money, back in the day, because we needed every penny to feed and clothe the kids, what with their father’s uncertain income.

I am still unlearning the habits I acquired when I was poor. And the mindset. Even though my 401K is now more like a 101K, at least there is something going into savings for my old age every payday. The other savings accounts get hit on a regular basis. Some months it’s two or three steps forward, one step back; some months it’s the other way around.

It’s likely to take awhile longer before I do not feel like a nitwit when I have to pay Uncle Sugar on April 15th. I certainly don’t think other people are nitwits if they have to pay; for me it’s like raising my hand in class, thinking that I know the answer, and finding out I am wrong. I really, really do not like being wrong, and in common with the rest of humanity, it is one of the things I do best.

Middlest asked me a great question the other night, after Knit Night. We sat and talked in my car for almost an hour, and she asked me when I knew what I wanted to do when I grew up. I could only give her half of an answer. A very long half of an answer, me being me, but half an answer nonetheless. I have only ever [mostly] wanted to be a mommy. Which I am, in spades. I think that parenthood is the best choice I ever made, after joining the church [and that joining the church is what made parenthood enjoyable in the best of times and bearable in the worst]. I was dragged kicking and screaming out into the work world when I was almost 20; all I wanted to do was “marry young, and then retire”. Listen closely to the first verse...

I wanted to sew dresses for a whole raft of little girls, who would sweetly and compliantly hang them up after removing them and would never make mud pies in them or raise their voices in anger at their sisters.

I have to say that life has turned out differently [and far better] than I thought it might when I was seventeen or at other points along the way. And I still have no idea what I want to do when I grow up. I am trying to focus on what it is that Heaven wants me to do, or more precisely, on the sort of person I am meant to be. Which brings me to an excellent article by Larry Barkdull which develops some of the thoughts I have been mulling over recently. Please, please read this article, even if you don’t think of yourself as a religious person. It’s that good, and universally applicable.

I left the house to catch the noon train and missed it by about a minute. The police officer greeted me with “May I help you?” as I walked through the concourse and then informed me that I could not leave my car in the parking lot and walk downtown, even if I were catching the train back later. So I smiled at her, turned around and opted for Plan B, which at first I thought might involve eating something, but I wound up in the parking lot at the Amon Carter Museum and spent a lovely two and a half hours inside. I love Remington. I love Russell. And it’s all I can do, not to weep with joy when I see the OKeeffe’s [there are several] or the landscapes and seascapes by the Hudson River School artists. The special exhibit through May 10 is photography by Barbara Crane. Girls, it’s all free. Make the time and go. Some of her work is very quilterly. Some of it is a little disturbing [dead animals she finds in the back yard]. None of it is boring.

Girls, remember when you brought me the dead frog?

And I got to hear a grandfatherly-looking docent use the word @$$, right there in the museum, but in the context it was both appropriate and hilarious.

I picked up a light lunch and ate it on the couch here at home while plowing through more magazines. And then I knitted a lot. And headed back to the train station to try again. Except that I just had a feeling I should turn on my cell phone, and there was a message from 1BDH. I called him back, right as I got to the turn for the parking lot at the station. Firstborn’s engine had malfunctioned, and she was in Las Colinas. Was there any way I could get her to her evening classes?

Maybe you have had the distinct pleasure of being able to help somebody who doesn’t generally need your help. It was the leading edge of rush hour when I got that call, so it took me awhile to get up there. And by that point he had met her and gone to a nearby auto parts store to see if one simple thing could fix it. We headed south again, this time on the tail end of rush hour. She had already had Lark email her professors to tell them she would be missing class, and why. So we stopped at the house to pick up the paperwork on her dead car, and I drove her to the dealership to get another one.

Naturally, I did not have my knitting with me, because I had not wanted to drag it around the arts festival. But she had a novel by one of our favorite LDS authors, and I hadn’t read it. I sat in the reception area at the dealership while she wheeled and dealed, and I finished the novel about ten minutes before they handed her her keys.

She has worked in the car business for years, one way or another. So she knows the ins and outs of financing, what a dealership can do and what it can’t. She got the car she wanted at a price she liked and an acceptable interest rate and a payment she can afford. The dealership had been officially closed for an hour by the time we finished, and it took us almost ten minutes to find a way out of the car lot. I watched her drive off in her new car, and then I came home to Fort Worth and had breakfast for dinner. Love the senior menu at Lenny’s Denny’s. I had planned to go to Ol’ South and get the German pancake, but it was 9:30 at that point and much too late for a big meal.

I woke up about 4:30 this morning and have been knitting steadily ever since. I am almost half done with the last repeat on BittyBit’s sweater. Sabrina is paused in the DVD player, because suddenly I was famished. When I bind off the shoulders, I will celebrate by dashing to La Madeleine for Strawberries Romanoff.

And then I think I will see if I can make it to the arts festival. Third time’s a charm?

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Baroque, Bizet, and out of Monet

Well, not entirely out of Monet; I have enough to get me by until payday. And I have enough to eat. And more than enough trash bins and recycling bins, but that’s a story for another day.

My birthday package arrived safely at the office, all wrapped up in pink and raspberry paper with chartreuse (not yellow) accents and a bit of glitter. And a purple ribbon, which I am of course saving. My sister sent it there because I lived in apartments from 1993 until last year. Iffy apartments, in neighborhoods that were not iffy when we moved in but which became so not long after we unpacked; I must have an Iffy Magnet. Complete with percussion on the kitchen counters in the upstairs apartment at 2:00am and the extreme likelihood of incoming packages being shot down by “Section 8” missiles or absconded with entirely.

Yes, I did something rather out of character: I opened the card and the package two days ahead of schedule, on the principle of “Life is uncertain. Eat dessert first.” Behold my new earrings. When I opened the box, I immediately took out my silver hoops and put these babies in.

Behold, also, much handpainted loveliness. My coffee table is becoming a paradise of purple pulchritude. [Spiro T. Agnew just rolled over in his grave and got a mouthful of merino for his trouble.] Not one scrap of blue in this yarn, despite what you see; it’s all some variation on the theme of purple.

The card made me hoot out loud in most unbusinesslike fashion. It features a sleeping dog whose tail is in the flight path of the business end of a stapler upon which a bunny is about to land. And inside it says “It’s your birthday. Live dangerously.” The cartoon is from Andy Riley’s “The Book of Bunny Suicides”, which I had never heard of, sheltered creature that I am. The card company is Sunrise Greetings. I might get one of those duplex frames to display the cropped card and the sentiment; I’ve framed other cards she’s sent me.

I finished tweaking and printing my tax return about 9:45 last night and spent the next hour and a half trying to find a post office that was open until midnight. Four useless post offices close to home in Fort Worth. I had just missed the cut-off at the main PO, which is by the T&P station where I catch the train. And I was not in the mood to drive to far north FW to find the one on that was open [one of those times when GPS would have been nice]. So I drove over to Arlington, where in years past they have had somebody standing at the window, accepting envelopes. Nada. That was the fifth post office, and I had had it. So I chunked the envelope into the slot and said ‘to hell with it’; I am already having to pay a fee for the installment payments, and penalties, and interest. What’s one more cha-ching?

Like Miz Scarlett, I will worry about that one tomorrow. Or next month. Or whenever they send me the bill.

On the way back to my car, something bounded across the grass, then turned to look at me. A raccoon. At 11:00pm. He didn’t look any happier than I felt. [Raccoons pay taxes?] I wonder if he washed his 1040 before sending it off to Austin?

I slept until 6:38 this morning, which is about the latest I can leave the house on a work day and get on the train at the T&P station without sprinting from my car. Strolled out to the living room and stretched my legs on the couch with some magazines and then knitted for awhile. I have a little over two pattern repeats left on BittyBit’s sweater, and then the blocking and putting-together and the crocheted edging.

But I am setting it aside in favor of sluicing off and heading over to the Main Street Arts Festival, where I will get fresh air and exercise and a slew of business cards to add to my long, long list of people whose art I like enough to want to buy. Someday.

Brother Karitas wants me to take pictures, lots of pictures. I will try to remember; I’ve set my camera next to my planner and keys. And I am going to drive over to the T&P station and catch the train to the ITC, which is two blocks from the Festival. I’ll walk around in the cool of the morning and avoid [I most devoutly hope] the crowds that will be there tonight.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Procrastination: It’s what’s for dinner. And it’s eating my lunch.

Well, I am almost done preparing my taxes. I need to snag a couple of numbers and plug them in, and I need to start over on the use-of-personal-auto-in-defunct-business section, and I won’t actually be able to give them any money until Friday the 24th [plus interest, plus penalty, minus at least half of the yarn I was going to buy], because it’s more than I have in my back pocket, but it’s nowhere near as bad as I feared.

It’s certainly not like the year when our tax bite was roughly two-thirds of our gross income.

But let me tell you, I should have made the switch to the single withholding rate at the first of 2008, and not at the point when LittleBit and I separated households. I suppose technically I provided more than 50% of her support last year [I have no idea how much or how little she made], but she lived with me less than half the year, and I suspect that carries greater weight with Uncle Sugar. And anyway, I don’t know how to get hold of her to ask. And she’s probably already filed.

Let’s talk about happier things. Lots of copacetic knitting on BittyBit’s sweater. I am galloping along on the right front. It’s easy to read my knitting and see a mistake, and I finally figured out after two sleeves, one front, and one-third of a back that I need to finish a bout of knitting at the end of a knit row, so I can tell where I am on the chart. Sometimes that purl row just totally changes what the fabric looks like, and I get naviknitionally challenged.

Leftover chicken fried steak and mashed potatoes are a reasonably effective antidote to the IRS blues.

I found out that there is another Tommy’s, further west on Camp Bowie, and that there is never much of a wait for your food, although they call your name and you have to walk up and get it, like you do at Kincaid’s. I can live with that. Trainman and his IT-geek friend say that each Tommy’s [there are others] has its own unique vibe.

I consoled myself for the tax news by making a run to the store for a video and a pint of ice cream eating a carefully measured portion of cheese puffs and watching “Sleepless in Seattle”. And knitting, of course.

Life is good. Today is my Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday all wrapped up into one. There is knitting tonight, and tomorrow is my Friday.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Well, hello Dali, this is Ravelled, Dali...

I scored the last four candy “rubber duckies” when I was out running errands on Saturday. I brought them home, remembered to take them with me to church, opted to come home for lunch and a rest before heading over to Firstborns, and thought, “It’s really chilly out here. They’ll be fine until I go.” And thought no more of it.

When I went out to the car at 4:00, it was only slightly warmer than it had been when church was over. However, it was significantly warmer inside the car. Behold: Ducks by Dali.

Middlest snapped that for me; used with permission. I am such a bad, bad Easter Bunny. This is what they looked like after two or three hours of rehab in the fridge. I gave the least-scary ones to the Bitties, because I did not want to scar them for life. Lark and Willow just snickered and took the thought for the deed.

I had lunch at Tommy’s after running my errands on Saturday. It’s out on Camp Bowie, a mile or two west of me, and I found a parking spot fairly close to the entrance. I had the mushroom Swiss burger, no mustard or pickles, yes lettuce, tomatoes and onions. Tots on the side. My waitress was cheerful and brisk; she kept the water coming. My burger was well-seasoned, juicy, and worth waiting for. I don’t know what radio station they had on, but it was playing lots of my [moldy oldie] favorite songs. There is an amazing mural on the east wall, a longhorn in a pasture with the Fort Worth Skyline in the background and five orphaned cowboy boots standing in the road.

I will go back again, at least once, if only to learn whether the longer-than-I-expected wait for my burger is normal, or if I just picked the wrong time on a Saturday afternoon. Francis? Any thoughts? [I don’t remember waiting this long at Kincaid’s, and I think I got my smothered pork chops faster at Drew’s.]

In knitting news, the left front is done on BittyBit’s sweater, and I was adding the last dab of yarn from that ball onto the sweater back when I went to bed last night. I will get to work on the right front, sometime today.

Sunday morning before church, I sorted through the accumulation of magazines that my friends at work have given me and put all the fashionista ones into a bag to give to Fourthborn, along with back issues of Real Simple. The pile on my coffee table is reduced by more than half, and the stack in my bedroom is nearly gone. I have another, smaller, stack of This Old House and Cottage Living to give to Secondborn and 2BDH.

I also have all twelve issues of the 2005 Liahona in German, if any of my German-speaking kids or friends are interested. [Tan? If you want them, I’ll mail them out on the 24th.] I subscribed when I was in my “und es begab sich” phase.

This is going to be a short week. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and then a long weekend for Ms. Ravelled.

Sunday, April 12, 2009


President Howard W. Hunter, in an October 1979 conference address called “Reading the Scriptures”, and quoted by Larry Barkdull in Meridian Magazine last August: “whatever Jesus lays his hands upon lives.”

I thought about the time that a friend and I were driving up a mountain road above Boise in her little VW, just tooling around, and we each perceived something black passing before our eyes, like somebody waving a hand in our faces, and we turned that car around immediately and drove back down the mountain singing “Put Your Hand in the Hand”, knowing we had just been saved from something awful.

I thought about how He had laid His hands upon me when I divorced FirstHubby and carried me into the fold of the Church and healed me. How He brought the children’s father into my life and blessed the early years of our marriage with more happiness than I could have imagined. How He sent those five lovely, choice spirits to join our family. How He sustained me while I was making the decision to divorce. Again.

I thought about the years of single blessedness since the divorce. Eleven years now, and mostly peaceful because most of the time I remember Whose hands I am in. And when I relax and trust Him, I am just fine, thank you very much. And when I think I am smart enough to call all the shots, He is kind enough to step back and watch me try, and even more kind when He steps back in ~ always at my invitation ~ to bandage me up.

I thought it was interesting, the point made in this article about how even our illness and suffering can be consecrated to our eternal good. I have experienced that in my life, many many times.

This has been, so far, a quiet Easter weekend. I am heading over to Arlington in a few hours, to attend church with Firstborn and her tribe. And then I will probably come home and take a nap. I had planned to make my first pavlova [two, actually] for dessert, but it’s raining outside, and the humidity would not be kind to meringue. We are having a tribal feast at her place this evening.

Can anybody tell me why or how ham became the traditional meat for Easter dinner?

At this writing, I am about halfway up the left front of BittyBit’s sweater. I have the right front cast on, on my larger needles, but its chart is on a different page from the left front and the back, and I was not inclined to flip back and forth, back and forth.

I picked up some lovely paper at the art supply store yesterday that should be perfect for printing photographs from the train trip last month. It’s made to look like canvas. This was my first visit to their Fort Worth location; I have done business at the Arlington store off and on since we moved back from the Hill Country in 1993, and at the Dallas store when we lived in Irving. The staff are all artistic and know their stuff, and they never make me feel like a dilettante.

I also bought a universal remote and resisted all the salesman’s up-selling blandishments. But I give him full points for trying.

I polished off the bread pudding last night while watching the commentary feature of You’ve Got Mail. I am torn between having half of the remaining chicken fried steak and mashed potatoes for breakfast [saving the rest for lunch at work tomorrow] or cooking up some cream of wheat.

I made shells and cheese for the missionaries last night. Or rather, shells in alfredo sauce, as nobody seems interested in bottling that good white cheddar sauce that I miss so much from the Kraft deluxe dinners.

I pulled two chorizos from the freezer and tossed in a box of chopped broccoli. When the chorizos were mostly cooked, I pulled them out and cut them into coins and tossed them back into the boiling water to flavor the pasta. I lucked into some of the larger shells, in a box, and used most of the box. I was afraid it would be bland, but those chorizos were *spicy*. I do not think I will buy them again. At least not intentionally.

I made a Waldorf-ish salad with a huge apple that was lurking in the fridge and some golden raisins and sliced almonds and the last of the pecan crumbs and spooned it into a ziploc bag. My goal when I feed the elders is that they don’t have to wash or return dishes to me. Not the most elegant presentation, this time around, but they got refueled with a minimum of fuss, and I had enough salad left for last night’s dinner and two or three meals’ worth of not-boring pasta.

Happy Easter, everybody! I am off to forage some breakfast and bite the ears off a chocolate bunny.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

No need to cook this weekend

I have a leftover piece of chicken-fried steak half the size of my head, and almost half of my bread pudding. The absolutely best smashed potatoes I have eaten in my life, snuggled there in the cold with the steak, but the glazed carrots are so far past history that they have become the stuff of mythology. Huge carrot chunks, the sort of thing you see in foodie magazines and just know that there is a core half an inch thick that will never soften up, no matter how long you cook them [rather like that ill-fated rooster], but each perfectly tender, perfectly seasoned bite slips away into your gullet and starts flinging endorphins into your bloodstream.

So in case you were wondering, dinner last night was fantastic, and I would cheerfully go back to Charleston’s anytime [small chain; 15 of them throughout the country]. I had a taste of Brother Sushi’s prime rib; it was flavorful and tender.

We came back and sat on the couch and talked until we were both yawning. He skimmed the instructions for the DVD/VCR and confirmed that yes, I do need to hie myself to the store and pick up a universal remote, but that once I do, setup will be very straightforward. So that’s on my honey-do list for the day, as well as a trip to the art supply store for more watercolor paper.

I bound off the sleeves on BittyBit’s sweater a little while ago and have cast on the back using what’s left of one of the balls. When I’ve knitted that up, I’ll add on the second remnant and use it up, then set the back aside until I’ve done both fronts, which are [I think] a little smaller overall than the sleeves. Then I’ll see how far up the back I can get, knitting up what’s left on those two balls. I think this sweater will use about half of the yarn I bought, and I see no sense in having a lot of partially-used balls lying about.

I would show you a picture of the sleeves, but they are (A) black and (B) lace, which means that they are two dark crumpled blobs of knitting and not particularly impressive at the moment. The knitting equivalent of an ugly duckling.

Well, it’s 8:00, and the light is just lovely, so I think I will grab my camera and go take pictures for an hour or so until the art supply store opens. I may also make a run past the farmer’s market and pick up some fresh fruit. Or maybe I’ll just dash over to Central Market before it gets busy.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Lady in Waiting

I sure do spend a lot of my life waiting for one thing and another. Though I must say that the things I wait for, these days, are better or saner and certainly more satisfying than the things I waited for when I was younger.

I used to wait for Prince Charming to come along and sweep me off my feet and make my life perfect. Took me a long, long time to outgrow that phase.

And a dozen or so years ago I learned that getting skinny, or relatively skinny, did not necessarily make me happy. I think that on a typical day I am far happier than I was ten years ago, factoring that second divorce out of the equation. And I am certainly not skinny.

I used to think that if I had a whole pile of money, that would make me happy, or at least I would feel safe. And I remember when the balance in my checkbook dipped below $10,000 as life and family necessities and splurges I thought I deserved after 20 years of deprivation chipped away at my inheritance, and there was this brief moment of what the h--- am I gonna do? panic until I shook my head and reminded myself that for most of my adult life I was happy if my checking account was in the black, and I still had more money than I had [up to that point] earned in a year, so just knock it off, woman!

Large infusions of money into what I laughingly call my budget, tend to make me nervous. I don’t mean the paycheck that is a little bit bigger than the other one, each month. I mean tax refunds and cash bonuses from work. Last year I bought the lovely rattan chairs, my first brand-new chairs ever, and they still make me grin when I notice them. I almost never sit in them, because I almost never sit in my kitchen, but BestFriend sits there and talks to me if I do dishes when she’s here.

I am trying to have a sane, adult relationship with money. I trade great chunks of my life for those credits that magically appear in my account every other Friday. This is one of those Fridays, and I started this post last night, halfway through You’ve Got Mail, because I was suddenly ready to think and write about something, and I had been fighting sleep all day, and I feel as if I am fighting sleep in my private life, or in a spiritual sense.

In the next couple of years or so, barring more surprise towing fees, I should be out of debt. Lorelai will be paid for, the line of credit will be paid off, and all that money can build up my emergency fund or make the world better for somebody who is where I used to be. This is a good thing.

I find myself concerned that as my budget continues to improve, I will want to unreasonably improve my standard of living rather than invest frugally or bestow providently. One of the things in the Bible that I absolutely believe, all the way down into my bones, is that prosperity all too often leads to pride, and unrighteousness, and misery all around. [The Book of Mormon also reinforces this; we discuss the Nephite pride cycle often in Sunday School class. I also understand that poverty does not necessarily breed humility, and that it is just as bad to be a covetous poor person as it is to be a tightfisted rich one.]

So, if I want to be a kind, thoughtful, generous solvent person, I need to begin while I am still chewing my way up out of debt, when it is at least a minor sacrifice to give. [It is the but-I-want-it twinges of the natural man/woman, overcome, that make giving a matter of consecration.]

When my raise hits next payday, some of it will be absorbed by withholding. Some of it will go to a slightly larger payment on my line of credit. Some of it will go into my emergency fund. And some of it must go toward the blessing of others. I need to be more sensible about this than I have in the past. I need to do it in an orderly, sustainable fashion.

But right now I need to go hop in Brother Sushi’s truck and go be a carnivore.

To be continued...

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Silver Linings

While I was not thrilled to pull my favorite dark brown office-appropriate T-shirt out of the dryer and find it [still] hopelessly stained, the back and sleeves are just fine; I will give them to Middlest to make doll clothes, as brown is her favorite color.

The latest KnitPicks catalog was lying in ambush for me when I got home last night. They have a new tweed yarn coming out later this month, a wool and alpaca heather with bits of Donegal tossed in. I have had a tweed cardi with intarsia border in my queue on Ravelry for way too long. I think this yarn is just what I was looking for. [Sasha Kagan’s Nut Border Cardigan, from IK Winter 2003. Yes, I have umpteen projects to finish first, but this looks really, really promising.] Oh dear; it’s DK weight, and the pattern calls for fingering yarn.

Sigh... Maybe I will knit it side to side, with the nut border forming two panels down the front?

I looked up the dulcimer festival in OK that the girls and I used to attend. There is one run by the same bunch, in Glen Rose [much closer], the second weekend of May. It’s free. Remind me to tell Trainman and LadyZen. We could combine that with a trip to see the dinosaur footprints. Or BestFriend and I could sneak away for part of the weekend, if she’s not up to her ears in Graduating Senior drama.

In a radical departure from what passes for normal around here, I did not take my knitting with me to the laundromat. I took four magazines in my get-to stack and managed to chew through 2.5 of them.

Did I feel guilty for setting the knitting aside for a few hours? Not in the least; I am nearly done with the increase portion of BittyBit’s sleeves. I am looking forward to a productive day at the office [yesterday certainly was] and a quiet evening at home tonight. Maybe even an early bedtime, but I’m not holding my breath on that one.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Ravelled 6, Chaos 0

OK, it’s not football season, and maybe I’ve exaggerated the score a little. Maybe it should be two points from the free-throw line; it certainly isn’t a home run. Maybe it’s just a little skirmish over by the penalty box, with no teeth lost. Maybe I should stay away from sports metaphors entirely?

Anyway, I grabbed a sheaf of papers I had stacked on top of a box in my bedroom when I had my friends over for dessert [how many weeks ago?], which of course had slipped sideways and was threatening to slither over and eat my umbrella swift and ball winder. And I sorted through everything while the tub filled. This stack for the recycling bin. This handful into the shredder. The bits of rubber cement from “If you spend this much, we’ll give you this much off” cards, into the waste basket. A minuscule amount of items to file, and a slightly larger assortment of charities that I want to send a little something to, when the bonus hits later this month. [@ my LDS friends and kids: you weren’t the only ones who were listening when they gave that address on acquisitiveness and stewardship last Saturday; this past year has been an ongoing revision of budgeting and priorities.]

Doesn’t mean that the filing will actually get done before I hop into the tub, or even tonight. Baby steps, baby steps. But I have nearly reached the layer wherein resides my W-2 for last year; ergo, there is hope.

Much progress on BittyBit’s sleeves yesterday. I am roughly halfway up the increase portion. I haven’t memorized the pattern yet, but I am nearly to that point in the process where I can look at the fabric and see when something is wrong.

It was so good to be at Knit Night last night. We didn’t stay all that long, but oh, just to be in the company of friends.

Today I am taking the remnant of chili from Monday night, to mix with my dab of leftover soup in the fridge at work and the last of the insipid chicken stock, in the hope that it will all come out even. And another couple squares of cornbread to pour it over. I just hope it will not be 80°F when I leave the office tonight, but at least I will not freeze at my desk.

I got the vacation letters out yesterday; in fact, I was running them through the postage meter, having passed his secretary on my way to the mail room and informed her that they were done, just about when he sent us an email saying that he really needed them to get out, because he doesn’t want the court to schedule anything during his non-refundable vacation. By the time I got back to my desk, she had responded that they were going out in yesterday’s mail.

I also did a small project for the office manager, confirming that all but one invoice on a statement had in fact been paid, and typed the draft for that invoice for signature and mailing today, because the legal secretary was up to her ears in alligators. I pay bills for that secretary from time to time, and it is entirely possible that *I* was the person who thought I was paying two invoices with one draft but only paid enough for one. [Not likely, but certainly possible. I am not one of those thought I made a mistake once, but I was wrong folks.]

Little Mary Sunshine, that’s me. And if I don’t hop into the tub right now, I am going to be the Little Match Girl [i.e., without a job], because nobody wants to sit next to somebody whose hair looks like this.

Thankfully, I have clean socks. And shortly, clean me to go with it. Happy Wednesday, everybody! Go knit something!

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

I turned off the fireplace on Saturday.

So naturally we are getting a severe weather alert and/or Blue Norther tonight.

But there is good news. Yesterday, before filling the tub so I could take my now healthy self back to work, I cleaned out my email inbox. When I left for work, there were 70 emails in my box, mostly little reminders that I’ve sent home from work: blog this, link that, remember to do something else.

Yes, of course I talk to myself. Don’t you?

I meant to connect the new DVD/VCR player on Sunday afternoon, but in reading the directions I discovered that I need to use the remote for the TV during part of the set-up, and I have not the remotest [ducking, ducking] idea where that might be. I have the one for the defunct VCR, and the one for the works-just-fine DVD player, but if I want to adjust the volume I have to get up off the couch and do it myself. Which I wouldn’t have said was a bad thing.

Please don’t tell me that I have to spend part of my bonus on a new TV, just to get the new equipment to work. It’s a plot, I tell you, a plot to make me buy an HDTV. And I don’t wanna.

Lovely visit with LadyZen on the ride into work this morning. And another good one with her and Trainman on the ride home. All three of us had putter-y weekends. Nothing major accomplished, but many small satisfactions. He commented that a house he has loved for years, which has been used by an attorney in Fort Worth, is now on the market. I followed him over there after work and took some pictures.

He’s guessing its on the market for half a mil. It has its very own historical marker.

He pointed out the stained glass above the back door.

The man has exquisite taste, no doubt about that. The next picture isn’t much in terms of composition, but just look at that glorious light!

The large awning on the second floor, shelters what is probably an office or bedroom. He counted five AC units alongside the house. I told him, “You realize that I could live for a year on what they pay to keep it cool.”

“Yeah, but if I ever win the lottery...”

Whoa, Nellie. I just googled it. $1.5M. [This is a side view.] Wouldn’t you love to have a quilt shop in this location? Yarn store? Studio space?

Monday, April 06, 2009

Tweaking my Ravelry projects, exposing myself to Art

I was trying to remember how I had alphabetized my Finished Objects on Ravelry, and wishing that I could delete the frogged projects. The thumbnail view gives limited options, and just when I got one thing right, fixing a second thing undid the first.

Then I remembered that I could view the projects as a list. So I alphabetized them. And then I sorted by project status: WIP’s, finished, hibernating, and frogged. And then, oh happy day, I saw the little X-boxes to the right of the listed items, and I deleted two false starts.

I am still showing my Swallowtail shawl as frogged, because I am going to frog it back at least to where the moth bit it, and see if I can fix it, and if not then I will frog it entirely and repurpose the yarn and make a new Swallowtail with something less delectable to [insert childbirth words here] winged scourges.

Not feeling the love for listening to Conference on my computer. Move Player, didn’t move. Windows Media Player keeps chanting “English.” “English.” “English.” at me. I was able to access a MoTab choir rehearsal. Then I got Music and the Spoken Word, which crashed twice because the server was busy.

I do not want cable [well, HGTV and the BYU channel, but that’s about it]. I do not want satellite. I do not want ATT’s U-verse. I just want to watch Conference in my jammies.

We now return you to our regularly scheduled knitting content. I worked nearly the entire lower sleeve chart [19 out of 22 rows] on my 3.5mm needles and measured. Whoops! Too big for the Bitster! So I ripped it out, cast on the smaller size with the same needle and worked three rows using my 2.5mm needle and what I thought was going to be that much-prettier triple decrease. Symmetrical, yes, but *bland*. So I ripped that out [the yarn frogs remarkably well for a non-wool yarn, BTW] and cast on again with the 3.5mm needle, to be knitted up on the 2.5mm needle, with the triple decrease specified by the designer.

I figure that I will knit a size 2 but make it a size 4 in length, and it should be useful to Her Bittyness for months to come. When I went to bed last night, I had finished the first 22 rows of the sleeve and was ready to start the increases. I don’t like knitting sleeves. I like to get them over and done with.

I also replaced two ink cartridges on my printer and played with scraps of watercolor paper. I wound up with two pixilated 5 x 7 giclee’s because I forgot to boost the print quality first. And one rather nifty 4 x 6 that I think I might mail to Brother Karitas. The rest of my paper is too curly to feed into the printer; I almost killed my printer but successfully printed a different image onto plain paper, and I think that when I have nice flat paper I will get a stunning image.

This gives me several ideas for multimedia projects...

And this? This really takes me back. MovieMom had it on her website.

Dr. Zhivago was the first grown-up movie I got to see. It was showing at the drive-in, and I went with Mom and Dad. The movie was so long that they let me sip coffee from their thermos. Mom bought the soundtrack. We just about wore it out.

The first winter I was in Provo, and pregnant with Firstborn, Dr. Zhivago was one of the movies shown at BYU. I remember being shocked that they would show a [great, classic] movie where the doctor/poet/hero has a wartime affair with his nurse. Thirty years later, I’m still a bit surprised; it would have been interesting to be a mouse in the corner when that discussion took place.

I remember that when the children’s father was getting his MBA, it was distinctly non-kosher for coeds to wear jeans on campus. I wonder if that has changed? BestFriend, can you shed any light on the subject?

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Summer cottage in Babylon

It’s always great to get together with two of my favorite heathens [that would be Middlest and Fourthborn, in case there was any question]. Middlest was kind enough to set up her laptop so that I could listen to General Conference yesterday, and both of them kept their irreverence to a minimum. I managed to get something out of the broadcasts without ignoring my children, and I also enjoyed their hijinks and contributed a few of my own.

I told them something Trainman said recently, and Middlest exclaimed, “I need to meet the Trainman. I want to tell him he can be my new daddy.”

To which Fourthborn retorted, “He doesn’t want to be your new daddy. My new daddy, maybe, but not yours.”

And I trumped with, “You’re both forgetting that he doesn’t want to be my who’s your daddy?” It’s a good thing that neither of them had a mouthful of milk.

BestFriend’s socks are finished and delivered. Pictures, eventually. Very purple, and a big hit with all the TCU alums on the train.

I cast on a sleeve to swatch BittyBit’s sweater. I had to liberate the Addi Lace needle from the Clapotis en Soie. [This cotton yarn thumbed its plies at my Addi Turbo and horse-laughed.] I think I guessed the right needle size, though I haven’t measured it as yet; I do like the feel of the fabric. And I think I want to work another swatch with a different triple-decrease.

This one is Sl 1, K2tog, PSSO [slip one, knit 2 together, pass the slipped stitch over the two you’ve knit as one], and the PSSO lies slonchwise across the other two stitches. But Sl2K, K1, P2SSO [slip 2 stitches as if to knit, knit 1 stitch, pass 2 slipped stitches over knit stitch] gives a more symmetrical decrease, with the center stitch remaining on top. I might even go so far as to show both swatches to BittyBit and get her opinion.

My guess is that she will go for the symmetrical decrease because of its crispness and precision. She can be quite particular. [Yeah, I know: one apple, not far from the tree. Reassuring in its own way, no?]

It’s acting like spring again. I came home to a comfy nest that became uncomfortably warm once I had cooked up two servings of linguine and enjoyed half with a nice *gloop* of red sauce and some freshly-grated cheese. I had to get down on the floor and turn off the fireplace. Oh well, at least I’m getting my exercise.

This morning I fixed my best pan of hash browns to date, and two respectable over-easy eggs. Not pretty, those eggs, but the whites are quite thoroughly dead, and the yolks are just how I like them. I only wish I had some toast to sop up the last bit of yolk. No bread, no tortillas, no biscuits, not even so much as a stale saltine! [We are far from starving chez Ravelled; we are simply and utterly out of bread. I think we will make cornbread for lunch, but that does not solve the yolk problem immediately at hand.]

I also forgot to buy more knee-highs last night, when I picked up milk, juice and eggs. Thankfully, today is the second and final day of General Conference broadcasts, and I can listen on my computer here at home, if I can solve the problem of crackling speakers. I think I crimped a wire when I corralled them all, a few weeks back. So I do not need to put on a skirt today, woohoo!

I am continuing to cull the herd, in terms of my DVD’s. I picked up Something’s Gotta Give a few weeks ago, and I had forgotten how obnoxious Jack Nicholson’s character is, or all the language. I had put a sticky-note on the case: “Watch in French,” but I decided yesterday morning that I just didn’t want to have it in the house. So after I got my nails done between Conference sessions yesterday afternoon, I ran it and two others over to the place where I sold off my DVD’s during the last winnowing.

I meant to do laundry last night; I really did. But after I dropped BestFriend’s socks off at her house, and Fourthborn off at her place, and got myself home, I was ravenous. And then I was very, very sleepy because of pasta backlash. Barely able to run out to restock the aforementioned vittles. I think I was in bed by 9:30 or 10:00.

Oh well, I know what I will be doing after work tomorrow. [I do not go to the laundromat on Sundays, and the clothing situation is not so dire that I need to bend the Sabbath at the home of one of my children.] And I know what I am doing next. A Sabbath-appropriate DVD and some quality time with BittyBit’s sleeve and maybe that second sleeve swatch, until it’s time for Conference. I have three and a half hours; that’s enough for Midsummer Night’s Dream and most of Sense and Sensibility. Or vice versa.

My friend Rebecca [she of the blocking wire lending library, and sadly blogless the last I knew] was a big winner in the February Sockdown! on Ravelry. I wonder if she’ll have her prize in time for Knit Night next Tuesday? I wonder if I remembered to take my merino/bamboo prize for show and tell, that I won for January Sockdown!???

The Anatomically Correct Toe was arguing with me yesterday, so I’ve put it in timeout for a few days.

I’m babbling. Must. Go. Knit.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Boy, did I need a Saturday!

I went to the dance last night. Got there about an hour after it started, which is usually when things start to get going. Brother Sushi was already there. I had called him shortly after getting home, to see if he would be there. He was of at least two minds: we have both been singles’ reps, he on the stake level and me for two successive wards. So whenever we can, we show up to support what the other reps are trying to accomplish.

This was supposed to be a 50’s/60’s theme sock hop. When I got there, the DJ was mostly playing salsa and merengue, with a side order of squeaky clean hip-hop. He put on “Suavemente”, and I ambled out onto the floor and loosened up my back a little. Visited briefly with some of my favorite people, exchanged a few hugs, but mostly spent the hour and a quarter I was there, chatting with Brother Sushi.

In the two or so months I’ve been AWOL, a whole new flock of younguns has showed up. Not a bad thing in itself, except as it reflects horrendous personal loss ~ or failure to launch ~ and the destabilization of society in general. [Quick, somebody smack the Irony Fairy before she pops me again.] In theory, that’s a bunch of new friendships just waiting to be developed; in reality, they seemed to hang together in little clumps, while we moldy oldies grabbed the tables and the chairs, the better to rest our weary bones and converse without the use of ear trumpets.

Yeah, I was a little cranky last night. Also tired, also achy, also not liking the music, or the refreshments, or the DJ, or my least-favorite guy my age, who only dances with the young and fertile ones. I don’t want to dance with him, myself; I want him to acquire some manners and acknowledge the existence of women his age and older, even if he isn’t attracted to us.

It was well worth the quarter-tank of gas I used to get there and back, just to visit with Brother Sushi. I am looking forward to next Friday, when we will have our monthly dinner with no distractions.

I am cautiously anticipating the dances at the singles’ conference in three weeks. One of my two favorite DJ’s will be in charge of the music, both nights, so at the very least the music will not stink. That does not guarantee there will be anybody there with whom I want to dance, but I will show up, and I will try to help others have a good time, and I am very much looking forward to hearing Sister Thompson speak at the conference. She is a [single] member of the Relief Society General Presidency.

For my friends who are not LDS: this is roughly the equivalent of having General Colin Powell show up at the VFW barbecue to say how-do.

This weekend is our semi-annual General Conference, broadcast from Salt Lake. Middlest is setting up her laptop so I can watch/listen over there, and I will be picking up Fourthborn. I’m not sure what they will do while I am watching/listening/knitting, but before, after, and during the break between the morning and afternoon sessions, there will be visiting and laughter and love.

I am really looking forward to getting together with them. And I cannot believe how much healthier I feel today.

I think I will see if I can finish BestFriend’s sock before leaving the house. It’s pretty close to being done; I think less than 20 rounds.

Friday, April 03, 2009

I don’t think it’s supposed to be that color.

What do you think? It was greener when I drank it [reluctantly] at my desk.

Might be helpful if I told you what it is: Central Market Organics Free Range Chicken Broth [Low Sodium]. I realize that organic chicken is better for my body than the cheaper stuff, but I wonder if the chicken is any happier to be soup?

I took a quart of this to work yesterday, with the idea of quaffing it a cup at a time throughout the day to speed up my recovery. They don’t call it Jewish penicillin for nothing! I don’t know if it would taste funny to anybody else, and I realize that my sense of smell and taste buds are seriously compromised, but I was underwhelmed. And I have five more litres of this in my pantry. Which I certainly will not be using to make risotto, or my potato leek soup, or anything else that relies on chickenliness.

Because chickenliness is next to godliness, at least in my kitchen, assuming I don’t have to touch raw poultry to achieve it. I think I will take the last of Wednesday’s chili-thinned-with-Rotel jollop to work today and mix it with this chicken blah-th and see if that will redeem it.

[If this cantankerousness is any indication, you may safely assume that I am convalescing.]

Knitting happened. When I stepped off the train last night, I was ten rounds shy of the gusset increases. When I went to bed, I was here.

Not bad for a day in which, if a co-worker asked how I was, I responded, “Vertical.”

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Are we ready for some good news?

I forgot to share that on Monday afternoon I had my performance review with the office manager, to discuss goals for the coming year and to get the numbers for my merit raise and my bonus.

There is good news all around. I have been stuck on fewer committees this year. Most of the activities which she picked for me are designed to help me progress toward becoming a legal secretary. The two attorneys for whom I transcribe dictation are pleased with my work. The merit increase percentage this year will be 3% instead of what I got last year, but it’s 3% on a larger base than last year’s, and in my book that’s still a very good thing. And my bonus, also a lower percentage than last year’s but on the same larger base, is big enough to show that they mean what they say when they say that they value me.

I am mindful that not everybody I know, out in the world, will be getting a raise or a bonus. Some of them are getting their hours cut; some of them hate their jobs and are not in a position to quit or to look for something better. I am very, very lucky and very, very blessed.

I had hash browns [not burnt, woohoo!] and an omelette for breakfast yesterday morning. Then I headed straight for the couch with my flannel nightgown and my knitting and a bag to hold dead tissues. And I have a pair of finished socks.

And another pair a little over halfway done. These would be Bestfriend’s socks.

And a third pair on the needles. Behold my April Sockdown! oeuvre, the Anatomically Correct Toe-up Socks.

What did I watch?
1. In Her Shoes. Hand over “Simon Stein”, and nobody gets hurt. Food, poetry, and reggae at the wedding reception.
2. Kindergarten Cop. Because sometimes you just want to punch or shoot the bad guys.
3. Last Holiday. Queen Latifah, Gerard Depardieu, and more food.
4. Music and Lyrics. Because I adore Drew Barrymore, and in this one Hugh Grant doesn’t make me twitch as much as he usually does.
5. Breakfast at Tiffany’s. [Love that guitar.]

And then I put my dishes in the sink and staggered off to bed.

Next up on the needles? Swatching BittyBit’s sweater.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Plan Zed

So, Monday night as I sat on the couch and knitted, I started to sniffle. Yesterday when I woke up, the sniffles were still with me. On the train I began to feel like Pharaoh’s army chasing the children of Israel, right after Moses put that staff down, and me with no tissues. I think half the people in my car were likewise sniffling, discreetly or otherwise. I ran through the box on my desk at work in five minutes or less and spent the day smuggling handfuls of TP out of the loo, or swabbing my beak with kim-wipes.

And coughing. And hacking. And hearing my voice drop from mezzo to alto to the last act of Camille.

I called Middlest late in the afternoon and told her I would not be going to Knit Night, and to see if one of our friends could pick her up. I’m not sure which of us was more disappointed. I came home and nuked some tortillas and spread them with hummus, because it was something I could taste. Then I took my $3 off of a $15 purchase coupon over to CVS and bought two ginormous boxes of Puffs, and girl stuff, and a gallon of milk, and a pint of Blue Bell Mint Chocolate Chip.

I’ll tell you how bad I feel: my visiting teacher left me two huge Lindt chocolate bars in my mailbox, with a cheerful note, and I look at that chocolate and think “meh”.

So now it is Wednesday, and I am still coughing and still hacking, but my head is a little clearer on one side. I have a fresh box of tissues to keep in the car, and another to take to work. And I ate that ice cream last night and could intermittently taste it.

I did manage to finish the heel flap on the second sock while on the ride home last night, and today I might be bright enough to work on the cuff. There isn’t much yarn left. I am hoping to eke out 3” cuffs so they will qualify as finishers for March Sockdown!, but it doesn’t look promising. These might end up the world’s most elegant ankle socks. I love the pattern, love the yarn, love how nicely they play together. I just wish it were going to be a sit-down candlelight dinner, not the value menu at my local drive-through.

I have figured out what I want to do for April Sockdown! This month’s challenge is knee socks, or underappreciated patterns [15 projects or less]. I need to cast them on fast, while the pattern is still underappreciated. Needless to say, no further information until that little detail is taken care of.

I wonder if I’m smart enough to dress myself this morning? Heading over to Ravelry and then into the tub. Habby Weddsday, ebrybuddy.