About Me

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Four years into widowhood, after one year of incredible happiness and nearly 14 years of single blessedness. Have given up perfect manicures and pretty hands in order to resume playing the soprano recorder and to see if I can figure out how to play bluegrass banjo. Singing in the shower. Still really, *really* love to knit!

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Saturday mumblings and honey-do’s

I was looking for the link on a Mason-Dixon post, and I saw something in the sidebar that caught my eye. It’s a neat little article. Enjoy! I’ll be here when you get back.

Middlest, click on this link to M-D and scroll down to Tea Contest Winners. Second photo.

So, the foliage from the roses is now out on the compost pile. And the last half-slice of pizza is down the hatch. [I reached the point at 4:15 yesterday morning when I could not take One More Bite, and it was too good to just toss out.] The duplex, which night before last resembled nothing more than a sauna, is now properly chilly but not to the point where I’m a Momsicle and need to relight the fireplace.

The roses are still gorgeous and have not succumbed to frost, overnight. The petals from the penultimate bouquet are dessicating nicely in the big red bowl. I give them a toss whenever I think of it.

I just realized that my Christmas tree is still up in the living room. Nobody said anything last night. [I would show you pictures, but my camera is hollering at me to please replace the batteries.]

I am on the sixth round of tiny entrelac rectangles on the first sock. Then I’ll work more triangles to take everything off the bias and increase a bunch of stitches to bring the count back up to 72, a normal heel flap and the gallop down to the toe and then the second sock. Probably not all today, but you get the idea.

After LadyZen stepped off the train at Richland Hills, Trainman and I chatted amicably about one thing and another. He told me why he’d spoken to her in the first place, and I got really brave and asked him why he’d spoken to me.

It was the knitting. He had seen me knitting, and he thought it was cool and maybe a dying art. And that I would be interesting to talk to.

“You’d seen me before. Knitting.”

“Mm-hm.”

Oh.

Another answered prayer, specifically the one I send up from time to time that people [men in particular] who would not be good for me, would not even see me.

I really needed last night, to have dinner with old friends and new, to have them over here in my uncharacteristically tidy living room, to consult with them about what color to paint said living room. To talk about favorite movies. Some of them have not seen any of the Pirates movies. DecoratorDude and his partner have never seen To Wong Foo.

I need to deal with all the stuff I took off the couch and the coffee table last night, renew my tags [I can do that online] and the safety inspection on Lorelai, get my nails done [popped a nail while wiping out the sink], spend the gift card to Central Market, maybe go into BigD and retrieve my cell phone. But right now? I’m going to curl up on the couch with my knitting and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. And I think I might eat that leftover salmon pasta [to die for].

I wonder if it’s going to be warm enough to finish painting my bedroom?

Friday, February 27, 2009

Faux de Crême

I missed you guys, too! Woke up at 3:00 something this morning, finished tidying the kitchen, looked up recipes for pots de crême and realized that they all required an hour or so in the oven in a bath of steaming water. And the only thing that was going to take an hour long soak in the tub, was me. So I found a recipe at Epicurious.com that I tweaked. Will share it tomorrow; suffice it to say that it was well received.

Trainman and LadyZen gave me these; also a gift card to Central Market. A shopping we will go...



I realized while cutting off the extra leaves and trimming the stems to fit my vase, that I could take the trimmings out to the compost pile in the morning.

Spotted this while we sat at the station this morning. Looks like a Fair Isle design to this knitter...



I also [probably] left my cell phone on my desk today. Either that, or it fell out of my pocket and is in the pool car that I drove to the post office. About which trip, more later, but not tonight. And I may or may not go into BigD tomorrow to fetch it. It’s an oldish phone, so there’s small chance of anybody lifting it from my desk over the weekend. If [I gave birth to you and] you need to get hold of me before Monday, send me an email.

Brother Sushi managed to get my DVD player working. The problem is not with the child who tried to set it up for me [I take back much of my speculation as to how much she has been drinking since she moved out on her own]; the converter box for the VHS is kaput. And since I prefer the movies I have on DVD to the ones I have on VHS, I see no problem here.

Other than the lack of sleep which contributed to my leaving the phone at work. I am heading to bed as soon as I clear a path through the stuff I took off the couch and coffee table in the 15 minutes between getting home from the station tonight, and meeting my friends at the restaurant.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

When you wok through a storm...

A mostly internal one, last night and this morning. Called Middlest about 15 seconds after I walked out the door at work. Were we on? She said that as of Tuesday night, when last she spoke to LittleBit, we were. I told her that I would check with her again when I got to the park and ride, and if they were on their way, I would pick up pizzas, but if it was still iffy, I would not. They were still welcome to come, but I would be giving them popcorn and fruit cups. I did not, and do not, have an overwhelming urge to have the fridge occupied by two large pizza boxes for four days.

The reason it was all so iffy, is because LittleBit quit her job at the restaurant, Phineas [her car] is on its last legs because she could not / would not maintain it, and she did not have quite enough money to pay all of her cell phone bill. She has been sofa surfing for I don’t know how long but has supposedly found a safe place to stay, near Fourthborn and Fiancé, and next month will be moving in with her best friend’s mom [our former landlord and the provider of the mice and doves for their spectacular senior prank] while her best friend hikes the Appalachian Trail for six months or so.

Then she and her best friend will be enrolling at UTA because of some allegedly new law that offers or mandates free tuition for incoming freshmen. I don’t know if this is what my folks would have called a cock and bull story.

The reason I know the little that I do, is because they found somebody to bring them over to my place last night, and somebody else to pick them up and take them back to Arlington. It was not the best visit we have had. I was sharp around the edges because my child is dependent upon the kindness of strangers and her most promising job interview is at what she termed a lingerie shop but what I would call a toy shop [but not in the FAO Schwartz sense]. Middlest was a little cranky because she had wanted to be at my place an hour and a half before they got there. LittleBit was understandably defensive *and* she was unable to remember how to hook up the electronics so I can watch the occasional DVD.

The good news is, I only have half of one pizza taking up space in the fridge. I ate my share before they got there, and they both pitched in when they got here. At least they didn’t go home hungry.

But I was on the cusp of weeping when they left, so I got into Lorelai and drove to the grocery store, where I picked up milk, a carton of juice, and a pint of Ben and Jerry’s. The drive and the exercise helped a lot. The Ben and Jerry’s flavor [Imagine Whirled Peace] was devoured homeopathically. If I were still a drinking woman, last night would have been the night for it. If I were still a married woman, I would have asked my beloved for a little comfort.

I am still feeling cranky and vulnerable this morning. A hot bath will help. So will some cold pizza for breakfast. And my visiting teacher is coming over tonight. If I still need to be held while I cry, she would be a safe person to ask. I am thankful to have tomorrow night to anticipate, and the last bit of foofing around here so that the public areas of the house will be somewhat ready for company.

They’re not coming to see my house. And creating a nice dessert for them is just the sort of loving service that I need to offer, right now.

My Valentine’s Day roses never made it out of their bundle, though I kept their ends in water. Last night I shook the petals into the bowl that Brother Sushi gave me several Christmases ago.



LittleBit will get her act together, in her own time and Heaven’s. I take enormous comfort in remembering how strained my relationship with Firstborn used to be, and how lovingly we get along now.

And in the meantime, there is knitting.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Just an entrelac with thee...



Only slightly less sacrilegious than when my roommate brought home a Chinese appliance and I warbled “Just a closer wok with thee,” “You’ll never wok alone,”, “Wok on by,” “Just wok away, Renee,” et al, until she threatened to beat me with it.

But what would you expect from somebody who had green eggs, no ham for breakfast yesterday?



Observation: when trying to pick up tinylittlestitches along the selvage of an entrelac block [say that three times, fast], it is helpful to use a tiny little crochet hook, say about a US 10. Amazing how that helps one resist the urge to haul out one’s childbirth words.

Loving the entrelac. Possibly the only thing in the world more addictive than dark chocolate, or oxygen for us fauna types. Who knew?

Work is wonderfully busy these days. The secretary whom I support with my mad word processing skills, went home sick yesterday. Her regular backup handled most of the gruntwork, but there was one small project that her attorney had me handle [woohoo!]. And our data clerk had to leave early, because her water heater died, and she had to go home and clear off the carpet so the wet-vac folks could come.

Her daughter [our primary scanning operator] said that we shouldn’t expect to see her mom in the office today, either. So the receptionist and I are entering all the suits and minor settlements. I mailed off half of the vacation letters that I created last week, since that attorney electronically signed them. I suspect that I will mail off the rest of them today.

The office manager gave me the names of the other two attorneys for whom I will be doing vacation letters, and one of the secretaries needs me to pay a few invoices for her. When I left the office last night, I had one suit to enter and one minor settlement that was leftover from Monday afternoon.

I love feeling about this busy. Enough different tasks that I don’t get bored, not so much that I feel overwhelmed.

Speaking of different tasks, I want to see how much puttering I can get done before heading out the door this morning. In theory, Middlest and LittleBit will be here tonight for pizza, conversation, and the hooking-up of my DVD and VHS players. And I am almost ready for round 2 of blocks on the entrelac socks.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Totally Tie-Clasp

A phrase that would make sense only to my children, if I didn’t give you an explanation. When Elvis and their father were young, their father misheard the lyrics of “Hound Dog”; he thought Elvis was singing “They said you was a tie clasp, but that was just a lie.” Having gone to prep school, where tie clasps abounded, the children’s father was understandably confused.

One of our private jokes when something was high-class [or not] was to say “totally tie-clasp”, and then laugh.

Why has this come to mind? When I was minding the store at switchboard last Wednesday, an attorney who used to work at our firm stopped by to say hello to me. It wasn’t “Oh, I’m here to see the managing attorney, and you’re sitting here, so I’ll say hi.” He was on our floor for a deposition at another firm, and he came in just to say hi to me. He didn’t ask to speak to anybody else. He stood at my desk and visited with me, asked how my kids and my grandkids were doing, how I am doing. And told me how he and his lovely wife are doing. Just two human beings, having a warm and cordial conversation.

Totally tie-clasp. Which brings me now to reasonably tie-clasp.



The January Mystery Socks are done and posted to Ravelry. I pulled stuff out of my red bag before getting on the train yesterday, so I could take the next picture.



Sunrise, looking east from the park and ride at the T&P Station. Doesn’t it just make you think of pomegranate molasses?

I put stuff back in my bag. When LadyZen asked me how the newest socks were going, I reached in my bag, came up empty, and decided that I had left it on the couch. Wrong.



When I walked out to Lorelai last night, there was a weird bump on the trunk. A weird woolly bump that was miraculously free from grackle poo.

Honest people. I seem to be surrounded by them. See why I love living in Fort Worth?

Four loads of laundry last night. I’ll spare you the visual. What a crazy, exhausting pain in the patoot, but I’m officially done for three or four weeks. And now it’s almost midnight, and the Oreo cookie shake I had for dessert when I left the laundromat, has worn off. I think I might be able to sleep.

More in the morning. There was something else I wanted to share, but blessed if I can remember what it was. [It’s now officially morning, and I still can’t remember, so it must not have been that important.]

I have stashed the January Mystery Socks in the yellow knitting bag, to take to Knit Night next week. [Tonight I have a Relief Society board meeting in my ward.] But for now I think I will curl up on the couch and listen to the last ten minutes or so of the current CD in the current audiobook and work on the Clapotis en Soie without distraction. Yes, I am procrastinating the first row of rectangles on the entrelac socks. Yes, I am just the teensiest bit scared to take the next step. Yes, this is a metaphor for other aspects of my life. Yes, I will get around to it all, one step or stitch at a time.

No, I don’t have any idea what I’m going to wear to work today, but today the problem is having too many options to choose from, rather than “what’s clean that I didn’t wear yesterday?”

Tuesday? How can it be Tuesday already?

Monday, February 23, 2009

Butterscotch Oatmeal

A little stroll down culinary memory lane. Here is the recipe I googled and my half-recipe modification:

1/2 cup of old-fashioned oats
3/4 cup of milk
1 large egg
1/4 cup of brown sugar
1 T butter

Combine all but the butter in a large microwave-safe bowl or measuring cup [mine holds a quart]. Whisk until blended, and nuke on high in 30-second increments until you have the consistency you like. Stir in the butter. Serve in a latte cup with more milk, or not. You end up with something resembling the love child of tapioca and oatmeal. Hot, filling, and with a bit more protein than an ordinary bowl of oatmeal.

My best friend when the girls was small, used to fix this. I learned to make it with vats of milk and a whole stick of butter, entirely appropriate when you have a houseful of small tricycle motors underfoot. I sat on the couch in front of the fireplace at breakfast yesterday, feet up, savoring one bite after another while listening to Sticks and String. David’s essay on the chattiness of folks when one is knitting in public brings up points I hadn’t considered, which are both entertaining and valid. If you’re not listening to him on a regular basis, you are missing out. [And the musical selection yesterday had both bagpipes and dulcimer, woohoo!]

More puttering yesterday, before and after church. Nothing so strenuous as to be considered laboring on the Sabbath. My inner Pharisee never let out a peep. I moved my [still empty] water storage barrels closer to the back door and put the 72-hour kit between them and the makeshift shelves alongside the fridge. I scooted the box of books and photo albums into my room. I put the shower curtain rod, which had slipped a few weeks [months?] back, into place and rehung the shower curtain, which I may end up trashing and replacing with the one I took out of LittleBit’s bathroom when we moved. I rarely take showers; I prefer long soaks in the tub, the kind that turn your fingers and toes into pink raisins and inspire “eureka!” moments and occasionally send paperbacks to a watery grave.

After church, I knitted for an hour or so while listening to the new KnitPicks podcast and some from her archives. When I dozed off, I had maybe half an inch to go if I chose to use my preferred toe decrease recipe rather than the one specified in the pattern; otherwise I had another inch and a half of K3P1 ribbing before I could gallop merrily to the end. Channeling my inner Cyndi Lauper: socks just want to be done. Oh, socks just want to be done! [How on earth can she be a year younger than I am? Both of us eligible for AARP. Scary!]

I took another of those “forever” naps yesterday afternoon and woke up about 8:30, hungry as a bear and a little disoriented. Dark outside. What day is it? Did I oversleep my alarm? Did I go to church today? Do I still have a job? Will I be able to sleep some more before the alarm goes off? How much knitting can I get done? Your inner voice may tell you that you are not enough of this or too much of that; my inner voice is a GPS navigator with a craft obsession and a craving for dark chocolate.

I nuked a frozen salmon fillet with some lemon juice and herbes de Provence, all wrapped up in a sheet of parchment. Yum! Had a slice of the chocolate cherry bread I picked up last weekend, for dessert. Double yum! Listened to the first CD of the next audiobook and put another half inch on the January Mystery Socks. Started the second CD and the toe decreases on the first sock; rather than work both socks at once, I fiddled with the needles until I had one sock on each needle. When I went back to bed around 2:00 this morning, I had done another quarter-inch or so. From here on out it should go quickly, and the second sock after that, once I transfer it over to these needles.

Yes, I know that the Stripedy Stockings took nearly nine months, more off than on, but once I finished beading the cuffs these have seemed like the socks that never end. And they go on and on, my friend... But they may very well be finished before bedtime tonight, particularly if I spend the evening at the laundromat.

I’m heading out to the kitchen to whip up an omelette and ogle my amazingly uncluttered floor.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Puttering: the Reveal

This is all that remained of the hazelnut brownies I took to Firstborn’s ward activity. Five brownies, one of which I ate shortly after snapping this picture. There were two more when I left the cultural hall [i.e., the gym], but I was waylaid.



And here we have the first triangles for the entrelac portion of the February Mystery Socks. If you click to embiggen, you will see my jottings for a possible future post. I hear the darnedest things when I’m on the train. [If you’re not in the mood to embiggen, it reads “He has to have his teeth out and be in bed by 9:00”.]



While these, if you turn your head sideways like Rory and Lorelai in the opening credits of Gilmore Girls, bear a striking resemblance to Beaker on The Muppet Show.



Or those aliens on Sesame Street that go yupppp yup yup yup yup ... nooope nope nope nope nope... Or maybe some of those critters on Easter Island.

This is what else I did yesterday. A poster hung above the computer desk.



Another one tilted fetchingly against the wall, not-so-coincidentally covering up the electrical cord for the lamp and the plug for the window unit.



More pictures on the wall in the hall, just outside the bathroom. That’s my dad, holding a trout; the picture was a rare color shot taken by FirstHubby’s dad, who was an amateur photographer of no small repute in the Pacific Northwest. The plaque with the car is a souvenir of Galveston, from a quilt shop that I suspect no longer exists, after that last hurricane. The girls are Willow and Lark, approximately eight years ago if I carbon-date it by the absence of Lark’s two upper incisors.

The red-matted picture is calligraphy that I picked up at Scarborough Faire, the local renfest; it reads “There have been no dragons in my life, only small spiders and stepped in gum. I could have coped with dragons.” There is a small spider dangling from the final S in dragons, and in gum appears to be lifting off a wad of gum. I have another piece by the same calligrapher, bought the following year, which reads “Madness takes its toll. Please have exact change.” He embellished that with three copper pennies.



[Note the hammer and the snack bag full of nails which I am oh-so-frugally reusing.]

Near the front door, the bucket containing the short variegated ficus is now down on the floor, instead of up on the square table that I sometimes use as a lightbox. That brown paper bag is full of LittleBit’s stuff that somehow managed to end up here instead of there. The white bag is filled with more plastic bags to give the good brother at church so he may finish crocheting his rendition of the shield on a CTR [choose the right] ring. The sheep are plotting their escape from that basket; the red bag is the one that goes to work with me every day, and the white chicken wire basket is for just-because.



I also found somebody’s TI-83 calculator which LittleBit had borrowed; that and the brown paper bag should exit the building [like Elvis] if LittleBit and Middlest come over on Wednesday. Middlest is having difficulty getting hold of her. The plastic bags will go to church with me today, to be productively recycled, as will the original Relief Society manual I got in my old ward [it’s a two-year manual, with 47 lessons in it; we have an average of 2 lessons a month from it, lessons from General Conference addresses once a month, and something else on odd Sundays], which has been AWOL since we packed up and left the apartment. For roughly a year I have been faking my way through those lessons without studying; I finally succumbed to bringing home a new manual a couple of weeks ago. The first one is unmarked, so I can donate it to the ward library or the RS closet and feel like a slightly better steward.

Out in the kitchen there are still four small boxes to empty, one of which contains photo albums that belonged to my folks and some of my textbooks on deafness. And I need to find a permanent place for the rolling cooler which contains my 72-hour emergency kit. Then I can reorganize two of my kitchen cupboards for greater efficiency, and maybe I will be officially done in there.

At least until the next time that the Good Housekeeping Fairy smacks me upside the head, and not counting the eternal succession of dirty spoons which testifies that Heaven has blessed me with enough to eat, and to share.

I am hopeful that before next Friday, I will be able to close the door to what I laughingly call my studio, my bedroom walls will be magically repainted, my bed will be set en pointe in the corner, with the 7-foot ficus fetchingly arrayed behind it and the headboard attached and the redwork sham that I plan to make “someday” leaning up against it. If I remember correctly, the pattern reads [in the finest Germanic calligraphic font] “I love you more today than yesterday. Yesterday you really ticked me off.”

In the meantime, there is visible-to-me progress chez Ravelled. Remind me to ask LadyZen on the train tomorrow if she was more successful at evading the Good Housekeeping Fairy than I have been.

I now return me to my regularly scheduled knitting.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Film, Either Later or Earlier than 11:00

A good, verging-on-great, day at work yesterday. I was wildly productive, and I enjoyed what I did.

As noted, some knitting progress on the January Mystery Socks before leaving the house yesterday morning. I worked a row on the Clapotis en Soie while on the train, sitting next to Trainman’s and my mutual friend [for whom we now have a name: more on that, further down the post], but the yarn was slippery, and I was not in the mood to yarn-wrangle. So I grabbed the Noro Kureyon Sock and cast on 72 stitches [18 on each of four DP’s] and got to work on the K4P2 ribbing.

I worked on the January Mystery Socks on my breaks and at lunch and am about 75% done with them. I think another inch, and then I’ll be ready to start the toe decreases. Need to try them on again and measure how much bare toe is sticking out, and then re-read the instructions. I love the fabric that the 000 needle gives on the sole of the foot; the heel, which I thought was going to be waaaay too pointy, is a little quirky looking but fits well, so I am pleased.

At the end of the ride, and another great visit, we said goodnight to our friend and wished her a great weekend. Then I grinned at Trainman and asked him, “What’s the plan, Stan?”

“Chicken fried steak? Massey’s?”

Oh, yeah.

We each had the double steak dinner, with mashed potatoes, and while we were tempted to have some of their luscious pie, neither of us had any room at the inn. Trainman cleaned his plate; I have half of my dinner in the fridge for another meal.

Oh, the sheer joy of having male friends before whom I do not have to be dainty! I can eat my fill, which these days is usually half or less of what the server brings me. None of this “Gee, I’m not very hungry, I’ll just have a small salad” nonsense.

We are planning an outing for next Friday night: Trainman, our mutual friend, DecoratorDude and his partner, and Brother Sushi if he is free. Lobster bisque at Lucile’s; it’s payday, and that can be my splurge for that paycheck. Maybe I will bake a chocolate pecan tart and we can all come back here for dessert.

Trainman and I spent most of dinner brainstorming a name for our friend. She is tall and elegant, reminiscent of Lena Horne or Grace Kelly, witty, kind, with a wide range of interests, including racing motorbikes. We finally came up with LadyZen, in part because she is so serene, and in part because of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.

We did not get to the home store last night, but he did have paint chips. He is leaning toward blues, so he is on his own in that department, though LadyZen gave him a couple of suggestions.

He would like to meet Brother Sushi and tried to guess his screen name. I just kept telling him no, no, and no, punctuated with intermittent snickers or outright giggles. He thinks he would like Firstborn, and I told him probably so, but that I wasn’t sure he should meet 1BDH, who when he found out I had a male friend I could have given birth to, started with the Mary Kay Letourneau jokes and once told me I could date a fresh-out-of-the-Missionary-Training-Center elder standing in their living room, because he was young enough to raise up the way I like them.

We also did not get over to Trainman’s place to look at walls and faux finish possibilities. He said he needed to clean the place up a bit, first. I told him I got that, that my place was clean enough for long-term friends to come over, but not clean enough for new friends. [LadyZen, when asked what her plans were for the weekend, said that she would probably spend part of it cleaning house. I told her I thought she should lie down until the urge passed. She said she probably would.]

So, nice dinner, good food, great company, and plans for a group outing next Friday. One nice chaste hug outside the restaurant, a bit more talk, an exchange of phone numbers, and then another hug.

“Goodnight, Ms. Letourneau.”

What’s on the agenda today? All sorts of possibilities. I’ve worked the post-ribbing decreases on the first entrelac sock and made notations on Ravelry. I need to eat something for breakfast. I need to figure out what I’m taking to the dessert potluck and talent show in Firstborn’s ward tonight. I need to remember to grab the cashmere cowl for Brother Sushi, because he will probably be at the ward activity rather than the dance tonight. I need to clean up the kitchen and would like to empty another box or two. I need to sort through the mail that has come in this week, which is tossed in one corner of the couch. I still need to do laundry. My haircut looks great, but my hampers? Not so much.

In about an hour and a half, I will be calling that bright shiny new phone number and getting directions to Trainman’s house. If we get his bathroom painted, he may be coming with me to the potluck and talent show tonight...

Friday, February 20, 2009

Slow and steady knits the race...

Feeling more like the tortoise than the hare this morning. I put four more rows on the Clapotis en Soie yesterday and am still working increase rows. Every few days I haul out the digital scale and weigh my progress.

I put another inch or so on the January Mystery Socks yesterday. Slipped a marker into the last row I worked before firing up the needles today, and that marker slipped right back out while I wasn’t looking. But I finished the CD of the audiobook I’d paused when I went to bed last night.

Work went well. I polished the batch of vacation letters for one of my attorneys, typed a second supplemental discovery summary for another, and spent the rest of the day back in the scanning room, helping the receptionist to clear a backlog of fax confirmations.

This is why they pay me the big bucks!

I took the Noro Kureyon Sock with me, and the instructions for the entrelac socks, and my multi-pack of tiny DP’s. Didn’t get to them; maybe today.

And maybe not. I am feeling a little like a kid on Christmas morning, except that I know I will not be spending the day in my jammies. Time to run the tub, rustle up some breakfast, and figure out what I want to wear and if I want to throw my painting clothes into the trunk. Might be a good idea to check the weather forecast while the tub fills.

This just in: showers of paint chips, blizzards of bisque, flurries of bon mots. Film at 11.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Authority and Finished Objects

Cecil B. DeMille once said that you can’t break the commandments; you can only break yourself against them.

When I was driving home from dinner with Brother Sushi on Monday night, I heard this song on the radio. Remember, I have a huge gap in my musical education, one that you could drive the 80’s through. I heard the beat, and then the guitar, and then it took me most of the song to figure out what on earth he was singing about. And then I came home and googled.

[Dedicated to my currently-most-rebellious child.] And perhaps not coincidentally, I read this article by my friend Sooz yesterday.

Morningside is finished. I got it three-fourths bound off while riding home on the train last night, then decided I wanted it a little more snug at the top, so carefully picked most of that out once I got home. If you’re on Ravelry, you can see a picture now. If you’re not, you’ll have to wait until I give it to Brother Sushi. I hope he enjoys wearing it as much as I enjoyed knitting it [once I figured out what I was doing].

So now I will get back to work on the January Mystery Socks, the Clapotis en Soie, and BestFriend’s Socks.

Loved this article. Can I get a rousing amen? Feeling those flutters is one thing, and I do not necessarily trust them. If and when I love another man, it will need to make sense to my head as well as to my heart. And rather more of the former than the latter.

I am looking forward to Friday night. I get to give input on a decorating project, there will be food involved, and it will be the first time either of us has been to the other’s home. He is planning to paint his bathroom this weekend. I might want to throw my painting clothes into the trunk, just in case.

Something really neat happened at work on Wednesday. I made a few notes at the time and forgot to send them to myself here at home, so you will just have to wait until tomorrow or Saturday.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Cranky Knitting

Morningside is galloping along after what, seven tries? I have no idea why it was so difficult to get going properly, and I’m glad that I persisted until I got it right. You cannot tell that the bottom edge has been cast on and frogged and cast on and frogged so many times. This is very very very good yarn, and I may need to purchase another skein next month and knit the girly version for myself.

I ended up driving in yesterday, and by the time I got there I was already a bit cranky from having sat on the couch with my knitting so for long that there was no earthly way I could have caught my train. I looked at the week ahead of me. Tonight is my only night home, and the laundry is threatening to eat my hall, and my hair was a wreck, and the stray eyebrows on my chin were driving me nuts!

So I took PT and left an hour and a half early, and I got my hair cut, and that small bit of pampering was just what the doctor ordered. I feel like myself again, only less shaggy. And when I got home from Knit Night I got out the sugar wax kit and did something about my face.

We have a bit of family drama going on; I’ll spare you the details, since I am far from knowing all of the facts. There was a voicemail waiting for me when I got home. Suffice it to say that I had planned to stay up another hour with my knitting and an audiobook, but when I looked at the round just completed I could feel that it was alittlemoretight than the rounds which immediately preceded it. So I stopped. There is nothing sadder than angry knitting.

Morningside is about 85% complete. And since I woke nearly two hours ahead of my alarm, there is a good chance that I will finish it sometime today.

Wish you could have been there for Knit Night. Middlest and I were more than a little giddy. When I took her home afterward, we were both almost-relaxed. I would like to take the day off and go get a massage, but there is the small matter of it not being in the budget for at least another week [there is a massage therapy school just blocks from the last two apartments, and student massages are eminently affordable].

I had what might have been a valid insight yesterday morning, on the drive in. I get a little cranky with myself when the morning gets away from me and I need to drive. The extra gas, the cash for parking downtown, the traffic, etc. And the way it interferes with visiting on the train at the end of the day. [I am not just talking about the Trainman; there are several other faces I look forward to seeing.]

I am wondering if my subconscious is periodically wrecking my morning schedule, so that I maintain the same relative space in my friendship with Trainman? Dinner with him and our mutual friend last Friday night was so lovely and relaxing. The hug at the end of the day was chaste and comforting. He is such a nice man, and the friendship is so pleasant, that it requires great self-discipline not to want more than I think there can ever be, and not to miss him excessively when he is off living that part of his life that is not tangent to mine.

This friendship is so unlikely that only Heaven could have come up with it. Another healthy relationship with an adult male, based on mutual interests, mutual respect, and much laughter. It amazes [and frequently delights] me that this vibrant man chooses to spend time with me.

I contrast this with the behavior of most of the brethren in the singles’ program at church, while remembering that I have prayed in the past to be more or less invisible to men who would not be good for me. Let the record show that I am not complaining, just observing.

Ah, knitting. Something which is relatively easy to comprehend, multiple beginnings of Morningside notwithstanding. I think I will throw my lunch together and knit for fifteen minutes with the timer on. At this point I do not know if Middlest and LittleBit will be over tonight, but I am driving to the station by the pizza place, just in case.

I will be on the train today. I will.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Salud!? Not so much.

Not finding it on Google, or elsewhere. Over on the southeast corner of either Green Oaks and I-20 or Little Road and I-20. Brother Sushi and I went there for dinner last night. He had the crab cake appetizer in red pepper sauce and some sort of steak with froufrou onions on top. I had the salmon bisque [which appeared to be neither salmon nor bisque] and the fettucine delicata, which was rather like designer underwear: delicious, but skimpy.

I think there may have been a salmon in the same room as my soup. It was pretty, and it was peppery, and it was indeed soupy. But it was no lobster bisque at Lucile’s, which was the most fun my mouth has had in a very long time.

Our consensus? His steak was tasty and a little overdone but not enough to send it back, and he thought it was underpriced. My pasta was impeccably seasoned, and overpriced. A better-than-OK meal, and neither of us is interested in going back.

I don’t know what the tab was; we don’t drink alcohol, and it wasn’t my month to buy dinner.

In knitting news, the latest incarnation of Morningside is 65% complete. I cast on, on the ride into work yesterday, kept it on the DP’s for about an inch, until the pattern was well-established and the cowl was undeniably non-twisted. On the ride home, I transferred it back onto the circ, but this time with the beginning of the round squarely in the middle of one half, to make the transition less confusing. It seems to be working. Or else the seventh [give or take] time is truly a charm.

Brief explanation, of a sort. In theory, I was supposed to be feeding pizza to Middlest and LittleBit last night, but Middlest called me to work to say that LittleBit was out of pocket and would not be home until probably my bedtime; could we reschedule? And then I checked my messages on my cell phone. I don’t think I had turned it on since coming home from dinner on Saturday night. Brother Sushi had left a whimsically exasperated message for me: Monday or Wednesday would work for our monthly dinner, but Monday was probably better.

Which is how I ended up eating the Italian equivalent of nouvelle cuisine with him. And now I need to sluice off and foof up and hit the road [in ten minutes or so, of course; I’ve been listening to an audiobook this morning, and knitting] so I can go make myself useful at work and visit with a certain Trainman on the ride home and spend an hour or two with Middlest at Knit Night.

Ah the life of a middle-aged social butterfly.

Oh, and I need to quickly look up the phone number for a local radio station, because they are giving away fourth-row tickets to a concert I’d like to attend. Wish me luck!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Sit Means Sit

Or so said the truck which we saw in the parking lot at the gun show while circling to pick up Best Friend’s husband before going to lunch on Saturday. [I will warn you that when the CEO started talking as the page loaded, I just about jumped out of my skin. Maybe I need some “sit means sit” training myself!

Church was wonderful, as usual. A few quiet insights as to what I could be doing better, and some ideas on how to go about that. I took BestFriend’s sock along and put another couple of inches on it. Remembered to take my tithing and turn in the envelope. Remembered to get the visiting teaching district lists printed for two supervisors who report to me and was able to give the list to one sister while still at church, so I will only have to mail one of them. Went to this neatly organized basket and laid my hands on a happy bright red envelope, which is now addressed and stamped and ready to go.



So, I came home from church and snacked a little, then listened to Sticks & Strings while working more gusset decreases on the January Mystery Socks. Found the pink stitch marker which had swan-dived off the end of my needle on the Clapotis en Soie. Took a nap. A very long nap. One of those naps that approximately equals 80% of a good night’s sleep, at least for me. Thawed some leftovers that I put in the freezer over the past couple of weeks. Tried to listen to a second episode of a new-to-me podcast, but she might be swamped by all the click-overs from Sticks & Strings. Lots of people listen to David. [Postscript: I ended up listening to four of her podcasts; they’re shorter than David’s or KnitPicks’. She’s a psychologist who knits, and each podcast has a coping tool. I’ve linked to her podcast which references building an effective support network. Am looking forward to paging back through her archives, and have subscribed to her through Bloglines.]

Went back to the couch, this time with a pleasantly-full tummy, to knit some more and listen to the first two CD’s on one of the audiobooks. [The problem with audiobooks is that if you flip one page too far, you find yourself on the 4th CD with a body that needs to be explained, instead of on the 2nd CD with everybody planting red herrings.] Finished the infinite and eternal gusset decreases and have updated that project on Ravelry.



Went to bed a little after midnight. I think it’s going to be a Cherry Coke day.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Since *I’m* not doing any kissing...

Thought I would share this gem from MovieMom:



Though I cannot imagine why she chose Jess rather than Dean. Just sayin’.

Had a great visit with BestFriend yesterday. And then we picked her hubby up from the gun show and ate lunch at Drew’s, a place that Trainman told me about, the place where Brother Sushi and I tried to have dinner several months ago, but the very nice woman was standing on the steps, telling people they were closed because they had run out of food.

What did I have yesterday? Smothered pork chop, the most tender I have ever eaten; collard greens [a first: I much prefer spinach, but have not yet relegated collard greens to the calamari (I’ve eaten them once and don’t ever have to eat them again) category; mashed potatoes in cream gravy; one small perfect corn muffin. BestFriend and I split a slice of Italian cream cake for dessert.

And just when I thought the day couldn’t get any better, I returned a call from Middlest, who had a gift card to our tribe’s favorite restaurant. Did I want to go to dinner with her? I did. [This is the one where LittleBit used to work, so it was a mite weird going in there after she had quit, but I got over it as soon as they brought us our queso.]

So I am feeling well-fed and cherished, although my kidneys are grumbling that we could have taken it a little easier with the salt.

Not much knitting yesterday. One small honey-do taken care of -- while the tub filled for my bath, I tidied up the bookcase in the hall, removing thesaurii, books on writing, and my Bartlett’s, which will go into one of the bookcases in my room.



All my cookbooks and foodie memoirs and culinary mysteries are now together. The middle shelf holds my German and French texts and one lonely English-Spanish dictionary. The bottom shelf is primarily Church-related, though all my BYU Women’s Conference volumes are in my room.

No cooking yesterday. None. I ran to the store and picked up deli sandwiches and potato salad and Valentine’s Day cookies and hung the bag on the doorknob at the missionaries’ apartment, as they were out teaching when I got there. They were just parking their car as I left.

I did save myself a single portion of the tater salad and a few of the cookies. That may be breakfast this morning, as I’m still not much minded to cook.

No other significant accomplishments yesterday. [Including no laundry, no haircut, and no grocery shopping.] Tomorrow I am going to park at the Richland Hills station and pick up two pizzas on the way home. Middlest and LittleBit are coming over, and I am bribing the latter to finish connecting the electronics in my living room, because I miss some of my DVD’s.

I would like to get another small box or two emptied today after church. Nothing so strenuous as to classify as “work”, just some continued visible progress around here. Maintaining relationships has been the most important thing I could have done this weekend, and I’m glad I made it a priority; it will also be the focus of the week ahead. Which leaves Wednesday night for haircut and laundry, both of which are approaching crisis proportions.

I did drop off the old stuff and pick up three new audiobooks at the library after lunch yesterday, when I was picking up dinner for the missionaries. I am a little over half done with a knitted Christmas ornament that I found in one of my boxes while looking for needles to cast on BestFriend’s socks. I gave her two balls of yarn for Christmas year before last; she’s calling my bluff :)

Saturday, February 14, 2009

No Knitting Last Night

The flower vendor who sets up in the atrium of our office building was there yesterday, selling roses that were only $5 more per dozen than her usual good price. And I hadn’t brought home flowers since moving into the duplex.

To get them from the office to the train station last night, I put the styrofoam cup I had been using ~ when I’m home, I drink my juice straight up, but at work I like it on the rocks ~ into the bottom of the knitting bag and rested the damp end of the bundle inside, then hooked my wrist through one strap, my little finger down into the wrapping paper, and my wrist through the second strap. Not elegant, but relatively stable. [Hrm, rather like me :) ]

I propped the flowers into the crook where the seat ahead joins the side of the train car, put Trainman’s card face down on the aisle seat, and waited. Not long, as it turned out. Our mutual friend [not DecoratorDude; haven’t seen him in weeks] sat in the row ahead of me. I need to come up with a name for her, but I haven’t known her long enough to be able to capture her in a word or two.

He showed up on the next connecting train, grinned when he saw the card, and put it carefully into his briefcase. And the three of us chattered away happily for an hour. When we were a couple of stations out, he suddenly asked, “Do either of you have plans for tonight?” Neither of us did. So we stowed our things in our respective cars and walked across from the T&P Station to the new Omni Hotel. She had a beer, he had a margarita, I had a Shirley Temple, and we shared probably the best quesadillas I have eaten and a small mountain of nachos and listened to a jazz combo.

We were probably the only people there who were really listening to the music; they were good. And in between songs, we talked about the music and musicians we liked. He likes Eva Cassidy and Doctor John [like me, just about anything but rap]. When she gets blue, she likes Mariah Carey, he likes [oh dang, I can’t remember, but it was somebody I had heard of, and like], and I like bagpipe music. Bless them, neither of them raised an eyebrow at that.

By about 9:00, I was visibly wilting [must have been the knitting withdrawal], so we took a stroll around the first and second levels of the hotel then walked back across the street. We hugged her and watched her safely into her car. Then he and I hugged and said goodnight.

Not sure what-all is going to happen today. I am both more rested and more tired than when I woke up last Saturday morning. So probably some puttering but not as much as last weekend. I have things to return to the library, and laundry to do. Best Friend will be hanging out here while her hubby is at that gun show I posted about a few weeks back. I had better clear a spot on the couch. And I am doing another drive-by-fooding of the elders and feel completely uninspired. So I’m thinking it won’t be a big weekend for cooking, either.

Time to tune in to yesterday’s KnitPicks podcast and work a few rows on various projects. Maybe I will get those entrelac socks cast on sometime this weekend.

Happy birthday, Trainman! And happy Valentines’ Day and/or Singles Awareness Day to all y’all.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Oops. And more oops.

Swatching is for sissies, right? On a whim, or maybe a hunch, I measured the circumference of Morningside, which is supposed to be 22” for a manly stand-up collar, and 24” for a ladylike swoony cowl.

Would you believe 27” on size 8 needles?

Good thing this is not supposed to be a Valentines Day present. I frogged it and cast on with the original size 6 needles and got all the way around the set-up round and halfway through round 1 before discovering that I had fouled up. Somewhere.

But it’s OK, and I’m OK, because I just read the insert in the protective sleeve for Trainman’s birthday card. It’s a Papyrus card, and the photography is © Everett Collection, Inc., while the concept is © Shirley Eujeste.

Say it out loud.

Waiting, waiting...

Those people will be getting more of my money.

I have about 5 grams more knitting to do in the increase section of the Clapotis en Soie. I very carefully slipped the yarn bra off the ball of yarn and weighed it: 8.5 grams. And the total remaining [with the yarn bra back on] is 94.5 grams. The label says 100 grams = 1100 yards. So if I knit 19 grams on the increase section and 19 grams on the decrease section, and 57 grams on the straightaway, in between, I should have a blissfully ginormous shawl/veil/parachute and about 5 grams of yarn [= 55 yards] leftover to make Christmas ornaments or doll clothes.

One project, officially going well.

I knit three or four rounds with two socks on two needles. I didn’t mind doing that when I was finishing up Anastasia, because I had had the foresight to divide the ball of yarn more or less in half. On this project, the socks are umbilically connected via a single ball of yarn, and one of the strands is getting so tightly wound that it reminds me of that one man I used to go to church with.

One project, going reasonably well. I may need to break the offending strand, wind off half of the remaining yarn, and rejoin it. At least then I could pop a rubber band onto the ball and let it dangle and untwist occasionally. [Unlike the brother I used to go to church with.]

Since my VT companion was unable to get us appointments until next Thursday night, and since I fiddled around and piddled around yesterday morning until I had to drive in to work, I drove over to the Shabby Sheep for some Thursday night knitting. Met a nice bunch of ladies and will go again sometime. Put one or two of those rounds I mentioned above, onto the January Mystery Socks while there, and two rows on the Clapotis en Soie. And then I drove home, fully intending to stop at Panda Express for some orange chicken, and inexplicably finding myself in the drive-up lane at Taco Cabana when I stopped pondering what might have gone wrong on Morningside. It is a little disconcerting to have my mouth all set for Chinese and find myself mainlining guacamole.

Some yarn may have followed me home. Did you know that if you are in the Dallas guild [I knew this, yet am not], you get a discount at the shop? Did you know that you get the same discount if you are a Shabby Sheeper on Ravelry? Which I have been since about 15 seconds after getting my invitation.

At least my black leather jacket made it home with me last night, along with most of my marbles.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

He had me at “banjo”.

When I woke up yesterday, I wanted something plot-less to listen to while working up the heel flap on the second January Mystery Sock. I found NPR’s bluegrass program; here’s Tony Furtado. And Julia Douglass, who is deliciously snarky; who among us has not had a boyfriend like the one she sings about? [Well, probably not Francis or Jerry.]

Or what about 17 Hippies (but there are really only thirteen of them)? @Tan or anybody else with a classical music background: is that last piece they play a mazurka? It sure made me want to get up off the couch and spin around!

I mostly liked Sonny Landreth; his vocals will take a little getting used to. I did get up and boogie around the living room during the final song of the set, only partially in celebration of having successfully completed the second heel flap. [His newest CD has Eric Clapton, Mark Knopfler, and Jimmy Buffett, just to name a few. I think it will follow me home tomorrow.]

@Firstborn: I will be happy to make you purple socks. I will not, however, be making you *these* purple socks. [I might be happy to make you purple socks with another skein of this same yarn, depending upon how much fun this yarn turns out to be; will have to get back to you on that.]

Enfin, measurable progress on the January Mystery Socks. I turned the heels and picked up the gusset stitches and got all the sole stitches threaded onto my 000 needle and all the instep stitches threaded onto my 00 needle and even managed not to cross the needles. I did this while listening to [Grammy-winning album of the year, woohoo!] Raising Sand, and then to All the Road Running. Haven’t listened to either CD since I was packing for the move. Even stood up and boogied around the living room during a couple of the songs. This laminate flooring is so sweet and smooth underfoot!

So, it’s Thursday morning and the first day in a couple of weeks that I slept until the alarm went off. I am about to pop the January Mystery Socks into a lovely bag that Julia gave me for Christmas a couple of years ago. It has little tabs inside to keep my yarn untangled while knitting two socks on two circs, which I now officially am. Not sure if these have once more become commuter knitting, or if they will reside on the couch until after I finish the gusset decreases, but I am ready to be done with them so I can cast on the Noro entrelac socks.

Yes, I will almost certainly cast on the Noro socks this weekend anyway, but whether I do so with a clear knitterly conscience because three projects on the needles is a nice manageable number, or in sheepish defiance as a means of distracting myself on Singles Awareness Day, is still open to debate.

I put a few more rows on the Clapotis en Soie yesterday. I was working on it last night when Trainman sat down next to me. He thought it was lovely. [I agree.] He wants me to color-consult with him on a project he has in mind; there may be paint chips and rag-rolling in my future. Guess that means I had better finish painting my bedroom, so I will know what I’m talking about, right?

When I said goodnight, I told him I was headed to the store to find him an appropriately snotty birthday card. He and his twin sister were born on Valentines Day, umpteen years ago. I almost bought one that shows a chihuahua sitting on top of a chocolate cake, looking annoyed. The card said something like “Just when you think your life is going smoothly [open] some little mutt sits in your frosting.” Instead, I got one with two dinosaur statues on the cover; it says “Hey there ... remember us? [open] We used to sit behind you in home room. Happy birthday.”

I went slightly amiss at the join while working on Morningside on the ride into work; I will need to tink back two or three rounds and see what happened. I think it may need to go back onto four DP’s.

And I think I will toss Brother Ray Charles into the car, for my listening pleasure after I finish today’s section of the Book of Mormon. Not sure at this point if we will be going visiting teaching tonight; it’s her turn to call and make the appointments, and my turn to give the lesson.

Very good times, indeed.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Ahead of the Storm

Middlest and I did not stay long at Knit Night. And neither of us accomplished much in the way of knitting or browsing, though it was lovely to see our friends. About 8:15, if I remember correctly, we were both just suddenly wiped out, so we said our goodbyes, and I took her home. I also wanted to get home before the storm moved through.

The pyrotechnics were breathtaking. Whole sections of the sky lit up with what I think was sheet lightning, and the occasional brilliant bolt arcing up from earth to the heavens. About two miles east of the house, I started getting spatters on the windshield, but when I turned off the freeway for my neighborhood, there was only the occasional splat. I was able to get the recycling and trash bins back in place without having to wring myself out afterward.

I see that our neighbors in Oklahoma were not so lucky: tornadoes between here and Oklahoma City, and eight dead so far. How sad for their families.

I cannot think of a graceful jump from that news to yarn, so I will tell you about my trip to the dentist yesterday. I like the hygienist. [I like everybody in his office.] She is always learning something new to bless the patients. Yesterday she screened me for oral cancer. She also did a brief massage of my neck and jaw [checking, I suppose, for TMJ while she was at it] that felt marvelous; she could have continued that all day. My teeth feel happy and clean.

But.

When I was sitting on the couch yesterday morning, before I had anything to eat or drink, I felt something not-quite-right in the vicinity of my crowns. Not exactly a toothache, and I couldn’t tell if it was something in the gum or in the bone. Just -- something; rather like those whispers of intuition or inspiration you get from time to time, telling you to pay attention. So I told her about it, and when she was checking along the gumline, she found a softer spot, right there between the crowns. And we did an X-ray, and there is the start of a cavity.

So they will be replacing one of my crowns with an all-porcelain crown; they are checking into the cost, to see how much insurance will cover. I told them I couldn’t do anything until I get my bonus in April, and the dentist said it could certainly wait until then. I am hoping not to have to postpone new glasses for another year, and I am hoping not to have to cancel the romp I have budgeted at the Brooks Farm booth at the DFW Fiber Fest in April. But this is something that needs to be taken care of soon, to avoid an abscess or a root canal.

Both of which would seriously interfere with my knitting time and budget.

There’s my segue to a happy topic. I did allow myself one small splurge yesterday with the premium refund. I called the Shabby Sheep on my drive into Dallas, to ask if they carried Kureyon Sock, and they do. She helpfully added that they also carry Silk Garden Sock, and it was a tough decision, folks. But I thought my foray into entrelac ought to be with a yarn that doesn’t grow after washing, and we know how silk is.

If I get both heels turned on the January Mystery Socks by this weekend, and I finish Brother Sushi’s cowl, I will cast on for the February Mystery Socks, or more properly the entrelac option, which is a mystery all on its own. I will wait until then to photograph the yarn. Suffice it to say that it is mostly smoky purples, with lots of grey and the odd jolt of acid green, color S188. [I have to say that what their website shows, is nothing like what my eyes are seeing atop the printer as I type.]

I put exactly one row on the Clapotis en Soie last night. And I hauled out Brother Sushi’s Morningside cowl to show off the yarn, but worked not one stitch. Since I woke an hour and a half ahead of the alarm this morning, I’m going to see how much progress I can make on the heel flap on the second sock before I have to start acting like a responsible grownup and get ready for work.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

*Fourth* time’s a charm.

I was beginning to think that the brioche stitch was something that Rorschach knitted up on a sleepless night to torment marginally OCD folks like me. I’ve read more than once that insanity is doing the same thing over and over, and expecting a different outcome. And I was suddenly feeling not the sharpest cheddar on the block...

Brioche stitch: now appearing on your local cowl. Something like unto ribbing with tiny outriggers. Or flying buttresses. I had managed to crank out an inch of it by the time I got home last night, and it is looking quite plausible, and wow! is this yarn ever fantastic. You would never guess that the first half inch or so has been frogged three times.



I was a little tired after dinner; not as tired as after I’d spent Saturday moving furniture and books around, but gently weary. So I rummaged around on NPR [yes, fiscal conservatives can and do listen to NPR] until I found a show featuring the late Blossom Dearie. I’d heard of her, but never listened to her. I rather enjoyed her quirky voice, songs, phrasing. I’m more a fan of blues than jazz, but this was a nice change, and I put 14 rows on one of the heel flaps of the January Mystery Sock. I thought her tribute to John Lennon was charming.

I get to go play at the dentist’s this morning; this is the routine cleaning which was scheduled for that day we had the ice storm. So I am driving in today, which gives me a little more time to knit before I scoot out the door. It’s also trash/recycling day; those bags are waiting just inside the front door. And the check for the refunded term insurance premiums was in the mailbox when I got home last night. My bank is near my dentist’s office. I’ll kill two birds with one stone, keeping enough cash for dinner tonight and parking once I get downtown. The rest of it will cover two bills that would otherwise have come out of my paycheck on Friday, which will make the next couple of weeks just that much easier.

I won’t say that I have entirely squelched the part of me that says “Oh look, I have extra money, let’s go spend it.” But I have taught her some manners. One of the hoped-for blessings in moving to such a tiny home, is coming to pass: before I buy something, I have to know [more or less] where it will go, and what it will replace. It may take me a few days to install it in its new location, but I have to know that it will play nicely with everything else.

I am going to continue to browse that little antiques shop, because I am replacing small MDF bookcases with real furniture which is taller and sturdier. The cheapie bookcases that will survive a trip back to Arlington, will go to Fourthborn and Fiancé if they want them. The one that is tucked under the living room window, will get taken apart and added to my food storage shelving alongside the fridge in the kitchen.

Use it up, wear it out, make it do, do without; rinse and repeat.

Monday, February 09, 2009

I thought I would be cooking all weekend

But instead I spent it puttering and knitting. I have cast on for the Morningside neckwarmer. Twice. Blithely ignoring brooklyntweed’s counsel to swatch first. Because I’ve been knitting for almost 50 years, and swatches are for sissies, right? The size 6 needles which I chose, because I knit so loosely, yielded a circumference more suited to BittyBit’s head size than Brother Sushi’s. So I cast on again, this time with my new KnitPicks Harmony DP’s in size 8.

Something stuck with me during the KnitPicks podcast yesterday, while the Chocolate Pecan Tart that I took to dinner, was baking. I learned the backwards-loop cast-on over twenty years ago, from Saint Elizabeth of the Circs. I somehow missed out on the crucial point that when knitting that first row, you should knit into the back of the stitch, twisting it an extra half-turn, and then the bottom edge will not be so loosey-goosey.

I remembered this advice about 5/8 of the way around the second cast-on.

I will be casting on ~ again ~ on the train this morning. [Hubris: it’s what’s for breakfast.]

When I came home from dinner last night, I was pleasantly weary. And my bed was piled high with all the things I had hauled up from the floor and the chair and on top of various lingering boxes, in order to photograph the new bookcase and the other one. Which meant that I had to have a fold-and-stow-fest before I could go to bed. Rather a pain, but how sweet it was to flip on the light when I woke up this morning and see a boudoir which was somewhat tidier than it has been for the past couple of months. There are still piles, but they are smaller, and I have more or less broken up the rest of the work into manageable portions: ten minutes here, fifteen minutes there.

It rained last night, a quick shower during dinner at my home teachers’ house, and a longer, more audible storm that woke me ahead of my alarm. But I am not dismayed, oh no, because I have my wonderful raincoat, and I will be both dry and chic. And there are pigs in blankets which are nearly ready to take out of the oven, and I was sent home last night with the last few squares of cornbread that my younger home teacher [son of the senior companion] had baked for dinner.

I wonder if Trainman got his living room painted this weekend, as he had planned?

Sunday, February 08, 2009

What I’m working toward.

The goal is to be debt-free, originally by this time next year, but realistically sometime after that. I keep reminding myself that direction is more important than speed.

In the meantime, I continue to work on other aspects of chaos in my life. Last weekend it was the area just to the left of my desk, here in the living room. This weekend I am puttering around in my boudoir.

You may remember that after I painted the accent wall in there, it looked like this.



And this.



And then I scooted that dresser over against the west wall and moved the chair, preparatory to painting the other walls. Which hasn’t happened yet. Yesterday I moved the new bookcase out of the living room and put it where the dresser originally stood, then moved one of my skinny bookcases against it. And my sheep collection seems happy to be out of the cardboard box where it has been imprisoned stabled for the past year and a half. Even Dolly the Llama seems disinclined to spit.



I moved the knitting books out of the tower bookcase to the left of my desk and onto the bottom shelf of the new bookcase, convenient for the next time I wake up at 2:00am. My newer knitting magazines are contained in the red file box you see on top of the bookcase.



My vintage issues of Knitters are housed in two orange file boxes of their own, and I will eventually pick up others to hold my beading magazines, cross stitch magazines, back issues of Threads, and pattern leaflets. The file boxes wouldn’t fit inside the bottom shelf of the larger bookcase, so they’re resting here for now.



Five more boxes out to the recycling bin. And I moved the bookcase that had been by the front door, into the space along my bedroom wall that was formerly occupied by the tower bookcase and the short one that I shifted to the north wall. Then I spent about an hour shuffling books from one bookcase to another, and a fresh batch out of their box and onto shelves.

I did some knitting, too. Another 24 rows on the Clapotis en Soie yesterday, and more rows during Sunday School and Relief Society today. I frogged the heel flaps on both January Mystery Socks and got distracted while listening to the KnitPicks podcast and redoing the first one. I may have to frog back a few rows and try again. This is where knitting the Eye of the Partridge heel pattern in something other than a heathered yarn would be nice; I could instantly spot any mistakes. Now I can only try to read the reverse side and see if the floats are lining up properly. These socks are going back into timeout while I wind the yarn and cast on for Brother Sushi’s cowl.

Did you know that if you come back to the computer after a bit of puttering and wiggle your cell phone on the mouse pad, your computer will ignore you? Repeatedly!

I am headed to the home teacher’s house for dinner tonight. Made one of my chocolate pecan tarts to take for dinner. Am thinking seriously about a nap, but I think the lure of cashmere tweed is stronger...

Saturday, February 07, 2009

This one’s for Middlest.

Firstborn had the link on her blog recently. [Middlest, honey, I know you don’t like country, but this one says it all.]



I bet it won’t get played at our singles’ dances.



Speaking of which, I stayed home from ours last night. Long, l-o-n-g day at work. First, the receptionist got called to her daughter’s school for an emergency parents’ meeting. Her daughter was not part of the problem, but there definitely was a problem.

Then I made a trip to the Post Office [the 9:00 run for the early mail] and came back empty-handed.

Next, the scanning operator had to take her daughter to the doctor and was gone for the rest of the day. So I spent most of the day either at the front desk or back at the scanner. And our favorite court reporter was in the neighborhood and brought in half a dozen or more deposition transcripts, which also had to be scanned. Once the receptionist got back to the office, she came back and helped me scan, while the data clerk sat up front and fielded phone calls.

It was not a bad day, just a long one. In among the depositions and the file-stamped documents from the courts, I had to scan an assortment of family photos that I keep on my desk. Remember when I did the “day in the life” presentation last year? The managing attorney wanted to use my presentation, and two others, to combine in a PowerPoint document to share with her bosses.

She gave me the most wonderful compliment, when she stopped at my desk at the end of the day. She said, “Don’t ever leave here. You’re too valuable. You can’t go.”

Now, you know and I know that nobody is irreplaceable. We shift; we make accommodations; the work gets done, with or without us. But still, so nice to hear. I reassured her that I had no plans to go anywhere, that my plan was to continue working there until they took me out feet-first.

I was not much of a conversationalist on the ride home last night, just sat there and knitted and smiled. I did pass around the skein of cashmere tweed that came in the 11:00 mail yesterday. And I called Brother Sushi as soon as I sat down in the train car.

Me: “Guess what came in the mail today?”
Brother Sushi: “A million dollars?”
Me: “Better than that.”
Brother Sushi: “Well, if it wasn’t a million dollars, it must have been yarn.”

I told you he’s a smart guy [and he knows me so well]!

I dragged myself off the train last night and sleep-walked to the car and managed to stay awake on the drive home. Then I nuked two small quesadillas and followed that half an hour later with some pigs in blankets, put my dishes in the sink, and was in bed by 8:30 and up again at 2:15.

There may well be a nap sometime today. I feel all-slept-out but not entirely rested. There will definitely be knitting. And I think a lot more cooking. It has been so pleasant, this week, to just reach into the fridge for a portion of leftovers, nuke it, and have a stress-free meal.

The next singles’ conference is going to be in Arlington, in April. The DFW Fiber Fest is the same weekend. I am requesting that Friday off and am planning to go browse the vendors during the day, because that is also the day that my bonus hits my checking account. Brooks Farm is one of the vendors. They are local, and they have great yarns in splendid colors.

Here is a registration form, if you are interested in any of the classes. If you just want to go shopping, there is no charge.

OK, I’ve made the first run-through of my Bloglines, had some breakfast, and now I’m ready to do a little work. Can’t believe I’ve been up for almost two hours already. Later, gators!

Friday, February 06, 2009

“I see you’ve been to the liquor store.”

They say that a picture is worth a thousand words.



Here is my Claudia Silk Lace, all tidy and corralled in its yarn bra. One of my attorneys says that every bottle in the liquor store is shipped in a net like this, which means that I could ask my bibulous friends to save the yarn bras for me, and we would be blessing the landfill, not to mention my pocketbook.

One more thing to like about the Trainman...

As you can see, there has been some progress on the Clapotis en Soie. This is not going to be the knitting equivalent of Speed Dating. This is going to be a leisurely, old-fashioned courtship: lots of time spent sitting on the porch while the neighbors keep an eye on things.

I am thinking [wishing, hoping] that the cashmere tweed yarn will arrive in the mail today. I have been prepared for it since Wednesday morning; the pattern and needles are rattling around in my knitting bag.

Had an immensely productive day at work yesterday. First tape transcribed before I relieved switchboard for her morning break. Second tape mostly transcribed before lunch. I started entering a minor settlement, and the legal secretary brought me a third tape, which was mainly cut-and-paste; I finished it in less than half an hour and got back to work on the minor settlement.

When I got home last night, the jollop in the crockpot was absolutely, positively done. I dished up a bowl of vegetables and portioned the rest of them into three storage containers while the meat cooled. Then I sliced up the meat and divided it four ways and divided the broth likewise. One slice of boule, cut in half and toasted, then very lightly buttered, and that was dinner. I think the next time I cook a pork tenderloin, I will brown it lightly in my cast-iron skillet and toss it into the crockpot from the beginning. The sharp yeastiness of the near beer had been humbled by the time I got home from work. A couple of the carrots had gone from “caramelized” to “nearly scorched” after a night and a day in the crockpot, but on the whole it was a yummy way to end the day.

There is a dance tonight. Not sure at this point if I will go, or if I will just come home and putter and knit.

Time to go look in the fridge and see which of the many choices which are available to me, I want to take for lunch, and which to have for breakfast.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Technical Difficulties

When I got home last night, I couldn’t open an attachment I had sent from work. Frequently I will make notes in Word, either for things to do once I get home, or notes for a future blog post. Last night I kept getting a refreshed, unopened page. This morning I couldn’t get any closer to opening my document, but I did wade through links until I found a form to report the problem.

It had the makings of a brilliant post. If all else fails, I will have to print off that document and drag it home tonight.

In technical difficulties of another sort, the pork roast was nearly a fiasco. I came home and warmed up a wonderful bowl of chicken tortilla soup to fortify myself, and then I got cracking in the kitchen. Sliced up the second half of that large, sweet onion I bought a couple of weeks back for the mac-and-cheese-and-cauliflower casserole. Threw in two individual packages of baby carrots. Cut up a Granny Smith apple. Cut up my last three smallish red potatoes. All of this smothering the pork tenderloin. Baked it at 425°F [218°C] as the packaging required, for half an hour. Ended up with dry-looking veggies and a roast that was still oinking. Put it back in the oven at 350°F [177°C] for another half hour. Oink. I guess that timing is only for roasts that are cooked without accompaniment. So I pulled the roast out of the pan and cut it in half to confirm, No, I’m not eating that. Scooped all the veggies into my standard-sized crockpot and transferred the meat in on top of them, then opened two geriatric cans of O’Doul’s over that, put on the lid, and let it simmer overnight.

Petrified vegetables are not my idea of a real good time. Neither is food poisoning. If I am going to eat pork, I want it well and truly dead.

So I did not get to the meatloaf muffins last night, but I did make a batch of pigs in blankets, and I shredded a lot of old pay stubs while everything cooked. It definitely was not an evening wasted. I just popped the lid off the crockpot, and the contents look much more plausible than they did when I departed the kitchen last night.

I stayed up far too late, reading a good chunk out of my second library book.

I am home again tonight, and I suspect that I will spend most of the evening in the kitchen and possibly finish reading the book. Or I may just sit on the couch while the meatloaf bakes, and work on the January Mystery Socks and listen to another CD of To Kill a Mockingbird. I might even get the bookcase moved into place.

Brother Sushi’s yarn did not arrive yesterday. [Two-day service for $3.49 would have been amazing.] Maybe today.

The receptionist took the day off, so I spent my day at switchboard. I very nearly zeroed out her desk. I stayed busy all day. It was a good day. There are two tapes waiting for me today, and another one in the works; I am ready to let those fingers fly. [The front desk is a nice place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there.]

I put another six rows on the Clapotis en Soie yesterday; still making increases at the end of every row, and the ball is not appreciably smaller. I need to find the other yarn bra that is this size and weigh it, so I can weigh the ball occasionally and know when I’ve knitted up 20% of it and then start on the straightaway portion and its dropped stitches. This is going to be a seriously long-term project.

Yes, it does say “glutton for punishment” on my forehead. With footnotes that read “meshugeneh” and “oy! with the poodles!” [Gilmore Girls reference].

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Eye of the Partridge

I finished the heel flap on the first January Mystery Sock while on the train last night. Or at least I thought I had. I got a little distracted from counting four-row repeats of the Eye of the Partridge pattern, and the light was too poor to accurately count the slipped stitches at the beginning of each row. So I think there might be 36 rows, instead of 32.

I began the heel flap on the second sock and had the same distractability [spell check says that’s not a word?] at Knit Night. Plus, the flap is narrower than I think it should be; I used the number of stitches specified in the pattern, rather than half the stitches on the needle. [I added another eight-stitch motif when casting on for the cuff, to allow for the beading and my cankles.]

I very much like the fabric that Eye of the Partridge produces, particularly in this yarn, which is fine but not skimpy. The pattern would be shown to greater effect in a handpainted yarn, where you would see a tiny checkerboard pattern because of the alternated slip stitches. I am thinking that my next pair of Koigu socks will be cuff-down and have the Eye of the Partridge heel flap, even though I prefer toe-up socks.

I think I will be frogging these heels and starting over. I think the frogging will happen as soon as I log off the computer, while the tub fills. At least the frogging of the first sock; I don’t want to think of the tangle that would result if I frogged both socks and let them bounce around in the knitting bag all day. And I think the re-knitting will happen once I get home, where there will be no Trainman and no Knit Night conversations.

I needed the fellowship last night far more than I needed knitting progress, so I am quite the happy camper. Just not sure what I want to do, knitwise, today. I am tempted to print off the pattern for Brother Sushi’s cashmere cowl and grab my needles, just in case the yarn arrives today and is in a ball and not a hank.

Speaking of cashmere, I wore my purple cashmere Flared Lace Smoke Ring yesterday for maybe the second time. Loved it. Love the yarn, loved making it, love the color. And have decided that I want a pair of purple gloves, probably those cabled ones I saw. At the moment, I can’t remember if I saw them on brooklyntweed’s blog or on Franklin’s. I have very short, very curved little fingers, a legacy from my father and his mother and who knows who before that. It will be lovely to have gloves that do not have half an acre of empty fingertip on each hand.

And I want lots and lots of purple socks. I think I will buy more of the purple tweed that I used for LittleBit’s first socks, and some of the Gloss fingering weight in purple, and some Koigu, and and and...

Not that I’m tired of red. The day that happens is the day they carry me feet-first out of the chapel.

Must run the tub. Now. Or I’ll be driving in to work today. I didn’t set the alarm last night; that’s how tired I was. But I only overslept 13 minutes. Still a little tired, and my left foot is just the tiniest bit swollen.

Tonight I am staying home and cooking; I’m really looking forward to that, as well as the fixing-of-the-heel-flaps. I wonder what amazing adventures will happen between now and then? Can’t wait to find out!