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, October 31, 2009

Me’n’George (Speed Mentoring)

Here I am with one of my favorite singers (George Strait); a co-worker nabbed him from her daughter’s room.



I photographed her with him on her cell phone. We had to do a retake, because she’s an inch or two shorter than I am, and it looked as if he was letting his fingers do the walking...



Two shots of the breakfast buffet. I had another one, but it showed the keynote speaker’s name and c.v.



Somebody sprang for that good Odwalla orange juice. Yum! Next, we have some handy phrases for the next time you visit the Lone Star State.



Tan asked about speed mentoring. It’s a little like speed dating, only work-related. My law firm is house counsel for a major insurance company; all we do is insurance defense for our policyholders. I came into this office in a lateral transfer from the Arlington claims office, and I have completed about half of my CPCU designation, so I have a good basic grasp about the company as a whole. Many of my co-workers have only ever worked in law, so they don’t necessarily know how the claims process works, or what underwriting does, or Ad. Services and/or Tech Services. And we are one of roughly two dozen offices like this in the US and Canada (eh).

Speed mentoring was a corporate initiative from the legal beagles who supervise our offices; every one of the offices did this activity yesterday morning. We brought in people from the Dallas Operations Center and other offices in the state, people from Ad Svcs, Public Relations, HR, a diversity/inclusion guru, a mentoring expert, etc. We had a keynote speaker and seven guests who manned a cubicle or one of the conference rooms, and everybody in our office went from station to station, getting 15 minutes to visit with the experts on just what it is that they do. And because this is Texas, we put our own unique spin on everything, hence the cowboy hat. When a 15-minute session was over, one of my co-workers walked the office ringing a cowbell.

It was fun. It was interesting. I did some networking. They fed us breakfast and lunch. I got paid for a day and a half to cut, color, and paste. And the managing attorney was so pleased with how well it all went, that everybody got to go home an hour early. I went in at 7:30 and was expecting to get off work at 4:00, but I left a hair after 3:00. Plus, I scored half an hour of OT on Thursday night when I helped with the decorations.

I drove to Brother Sushi’s by way of JoAnn’s, where I picked up a quarter yard of blush pink silk dupioni and another spool of silk thread to make a blouse for Jessica, who will be paid off next Friday and quite possibly here the following week. And then I stopped in at Borders and located a book that one of my attorneys has recommended.

Brother Sushi and I had dinner at Rockfish, where we had a little adventure with the jalapeno cream soup. I was happily spooning away at mine, when he took a bite of his and got a funny look on his face. He had found a shrimp. There is no shrimp in that soup. I am allergic to shrimp. We called our server over, and he brought over the manager, who apologized profusely and offered me a different soup. So I got to try the crab bisque, which is excellent. Brother Sushi and I sat there for a good two hours, solving the problems of the world if not necessarily the conundrums of our respective lives. I took him back to his house, drove home, and was in bed by 8:30. Which meant, of course, that I woke up at 2:16 this morning, but I think I am ready for a small nap as soon as breakfast settles.

I’ll leave you with a little more of my handiwork.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Speed mentoring, part one

We have our speed mentoring activity at work today. I’m on the committee. We spent the afternoon yesterday, decorating the various office spaces where the mentoring will take place.

Then I went to Secondborn’s and had a bite of yummy eggplant parmigiana and borrowed her cowboy hat. (New photo on Facebook, shown below; I look somewhat startled but definitely working that hat.) Because we can’t do speed mentoring in Texas unless we all look like cowboys and cowgirls, and I don’t own a pair of boots [pronounced bee-yutes, only very fast] or a pearl-snap shirt.



I had great fun making this poster. I had even more fun a few days ago, looking up information on the Texas Panhandle via Wikipedia. We discovered that we could not get the images I chose small enough to use the overhead projector for tracing them onto the poster board, so I rescaled them for the poster printer, but it kept messing up. I eventually upsized all the elements and printed them off using the color printer and used some of my favorite scrapbooking techniques to come up with a plausible poster. It still looked a little bare, so I grabbed a black gel pen and freehanded a strand of bob-wahr. Click to embiggen.



Pampa.



Borger.



Hereford.



And one of my favorite places, Amarillo, where they held a blizzard in our honor during our four-day move down from Utah.



Ms. Ravelled, in Secondborn’s hat.



I look as startled as if you had just told me that I was pregnant with twins.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

*So* tired of driving!

However did I do it for seven years? Twenty-five miles each way, five days a week. Two hundred fifty miles each week, just to get to the job I love. I love the train. I miss the train. I am driving in again today, because after work we will put the finishing touches on the mentoring workshop that takes place tomorrow. And when I am done with that, I am driving back to Fort Worth and borrowing a cowboy hat from Secondborn (assuming that it fits) so I can be all yee-haw crawdaddies! tomorrow.

I got the most important part of the laundry done last night. I’ll finish up tomorrow night, since my social calendar is [thankfully] free.

@Secondborn, no I did not go out in my jammies at 3:30am yesterday to confront somebody who may or may not have been stalking me or casing the joint. I figured that turning on every light in the house would announce that burglary in my half of the duplex would be unwise and might also tend to discourage it in the other half. And I did do a walk-around before leaving for the office. The only thing out of the ordinary was a big blue box at the far corner of the house that once upon a time contained a whole lot of beer cans. I didn’t think to stop and heft it, to see if the party was recent, and it was still a little too dark to check for tracks.

I picked up Trainman after work last night, and he told me about his dinner date on Tuesday, and I told him about lunch with my friend, and we stopped at the burger joint that my friend had recommended. There were cops sitting near the window. Bliss! And the burgers were good, too. We even remembered to get in the HOV lane on the drive home.

OK, time to go water my plants in Fairyland while the tub fills.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

My friend Sooz! Headlining, and not in Vegas!

Click now, or forever hold your peace!

I remember when we moved to Texas 30 years ago: a 1966 Dodge, a five-month-old baby, a 6’ x 12’ U-Haul Trailer, four gas credit cards, and $15.00 in cash. (That’s my crossing-the-plains story; you may have heard it before, and I can pretty much guarantee you’ll hear some version of it again.) A few months later, our best friends from Provo moved down. I assumed that once we were all living in the same zip code, the friendship would pick up where it had left off. It did not.

She was from a large and loving family, where the kids really were each others’ best friends, in spite of nearly thirty years’ difference in age between the oldest child and the youngest. I had yet to learn the tender lesson that some people are in our lives for a reason, some for a season, and some forever. She was always kind to me, but we were never again really close, with that closeness which comes when you are young and struggling and expecting your first babies within weeks of each other. [Not to mention far from home and the greater support system.]

So, I was envious of her close family and the time she spent with them. And I was envious that her husband had a job with a bank and made considerably more money than did the children’s father, who in spite of an MBA could only find work as a management trainee for the grouchiest restaurateur in Dallas. And I was crazy-jealous that they were able to buy their starter home a year or so after they graduated from BYU, ahead of the interest-rate feeding frenzy during which we bought our own wee cottage. [Primary mortgage bumped up to 14.25% from the 7.25% the previous owners had paid, and 20.36%APR on our second mortgage. Woe be unto those who grind the faces of the poor…]

Where was I?

I was envious of the sisters who put together playgroups for their children, and did not think to invite us, because we were poor. I was envious that other people’s kids got the solos at church, because their children were all starched and prim and proper. You name it, and I was envious.

Thankfully, over the ensuing three decades, Heaven and I have made a modicum of progress on the ongoing project which is Ms. Ravelled. I have learned to be [mostly] happy at the good fortune or the hard-earned blessings of others. I cannot claim to be entirely stripped of envy, but we are lurching along in that general direction.

Though when I masochistically view the box-opening posts for other folks whose Cuprit has arrived, I do feel a little green around the edges. I restrained myself to two brief texts to Fourthborn yesterday, out of respect that Tuesdays are her busiest day.

“Box?”

“Nope sorry ♥”

“Tnx.”

And now I am undecided whether to drive in again, in the faint hope that Cuprit will arrive in today’s mail, or take the train and pretty much guarantee her arrival. A box opening tomorrow night would not be good for me; I am on a committee at work for a Speed Mentoring activity that takes place on Friday, and we are staying late to decorate the office.

Had lunch yesterday with the friend who has recently popped up in my life again. No spazzing this time around, just good food and lots of fascinating conversation. Well, I was fascinated, anyway. It’s most instructive to hear the other person’s perspective on why that marriage went south. And also to hear why he has said and done various things over the years. Makes it much easier to finish forgiving him for some of it.

[I wonder how Trainman’s dinner date went last night? Can’t wait to find out.]

Went to Knit Night last night, met some new people, fondled all the yummy yarn that Monica brought back from Stitches East, which coincided neatly with her business trip. *Lovely* stuff, including a 75% merino 25% nylon sock yarn that felt like a wool/silk blend; no trace of icky plastic to it whatsoever.

I am tired this morning. Not sad, not sick, not depressed, just physically tired. I was awakened at 3:34 this morning by what sounded like knocking on my bedroom window, which is about eight feet above the ground. So I got up and turned on all the lights and have been typing away ever since. Lots of other excitement this week, lots of good news, steady progress on various projects, much to ponder, and the laundry is reaching critical mass again. [I think I know what I will be doing tonight; it involves quarters, but no shot glasses.] I might see about taking the afternoon off, if I can get my decorations done this morning. We were having issues with the overhead projector on Monday afternoon.

Life is good. Somebody hand me a Cherry Coke.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Alas and Alacrity

Get your Puffs. And your movie-watching shoes.

Guy called in to the office and said, “Hello, I need to be connected to [attorney] or one of his assistants.” Big, booming voice; painful, actually. I transferred him and remarked to another attorney who was rifling the contents of her yet-to-be-scanned mail, “Hello, I need to be connected to an audiologist.” Oye.

Poor Fourthborn. At a hair before 11:00am, I could stand the silence [re: Cuprit] no longer and fired off the first volley in this exchange, “Well?????”

“Nothing yet. I’ll let you know when it happens.”

“Aughhhh!!!!”

“I know, but there’s nothing I can do about it. ♥ xD”

Thankfully, I had enough work to keep me from going totally bonkers. [Only a little bonkers, not so much as you’d notice.]

I think I may have “authority issues” as great as those of the children’s father, if differing perhaps in venue and application. Why is it that when I get an email from the office manager informing me of a meeting, I automatically assume that I am in trouble? She has never been anything less than polite and professional. She is very good at her job. In general, her meetings run like a well-oiled machine, and she does not micro-manage me, for which I am immensely and eternally thankful.

I respect her, and I like almost everything about her. So why is it that when I opened the email saying that there was a meeting at 1:15, my immediate reaction was to think my favorite childbirth word, very loudly but not audibly? It’s not as if I had been earning myself a Nobel Peace Prize [oh, don’t get me started on that!] or finding the cure to anything; I was opening the mail.

And as it turned out, I had great joy in Mudville because of that meeting. Some of you know that I have been training, off and on, with the legal secretaries, with the hope that I would be ready to roll when the next one retires. One of my friends is retiring next year, but the business plan has changed [again], and all the secretaries will eventually be tending to an attorney and a half. So they need someone who can come in when my friend retires and handle 1.5 dockets, and we all agree that I’m not there yet. Not by a long shot.

B*U*T, one of the attorneys is going out on maternity leave, and her secretary will be out on medical leave for a couple of months and then on light duty for awhile after that. Which gives us an end run around the business plan. This secretary has two attorneys, the one soon to be home bonding with a wee one, and another. Attorney #2 is getting her docket split, and two secretaries will each pick up half. One of those secretaries has an attorney who is very self-sufficient and doesn’t really need her. So she is getting half of the new docket and keeping her other half of a docket and will spend the rest of her day ramping me up.

Starting next Monday, I have my very own attorney, and I like him and respect him, and I will no longer be backup at switchboard, nor will I have one-third of the mail run. This is temporary. No raise yet, and no promotion. I will be moving my desk, after they get a new one for that cubby and another workstation [good thing I’ve given none of you my direct number at work, huh?] so as to be next to my mentor and within shouting distance of my attorney.

When the secretary comes back, she will temporarily take over switchboard, and the receptionist will come back into the cubbies and take over stuff that I do now. I have prayed for her to get off switchboard, nearly as fervently as I have prayed on my own behalf.

The cool thing is that all the attorneys are on board with this. We [the support staff] are going to have to be so flexible that we make Cirque du Soleil look catatonic. But my friend who will be mentoring me has been saying for months-into-years that I can do this job. So she is deeply invested in helping me to succeed. And I have had a grin on my face since 1:20 yesterday afternoon that would dazzle the Cheshire Cat.

I picked up Trainman, and we rode home together. I was so busy babbling that I forgot to get in the HOV lane, but we had time enough to catch up on each other’s weekends. He has a dinner date tonight. And I am lunching out.

And who knows? Maybe this is the day that Cuprit shows up. I’m driving in, just in case.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Oye. With a side order of artistic validation.

I wondered why none of the usual suspects had commented on yesterday’s post. When I moderated comments, I discovered that I hadn’t changed the time stamp on the draft from PM to AM. So please know that I was not twelve hours off-schedule from the rest of my ward, and chalk it up to a senior moment. I came home from church happy and completely wiped out. [The good news is that I did not doze off in sacrament meeting, at least not that I remember.]

After my nap, I finished tweaking the tie skirt. The tulle underskirt is still just a skosh too long, but I’m not going to snip it from the top and redo the casing for the drawstring until I can try it on Jessica and see precisely how much shorter it needs to be. I think the proportions may be different when they’re flowing over her curves than when the skirts are draped along the back of the couch.

I like how the belt turned out. I have about an inch and a half of both trims leftover, and I will figure out a use for them: I might just snip the beaded fringe off and reuse those beads for a pair of earrings for me, or as a pendant for a doll necklace, or an ornament for one of my miniature Christmas trees. Everything but the squeal, y’all, everything but the squeal [i.e., what my farm-kid father told me was made use of, when they butcher a hog].

I went to the bead shop and bought four more vials of beads that pick up the colors in the tie skirt; I want to make a multi-strand necklace and possibly [eventually] a beaded bodice or vest. When I walked in, one of the clerks was wearing a cool witch hat and sparkly jangly beaded earrings with a torque to match. Something I would not be embarrassed to wear, had I not developed an aversion to things touching the sides of my neck. I was wearing Autumn Asters, and she loved that as much as I did her jewelry.

I love getting compliments on my work from other artists artisans, because they have some idea of what goes into what I make, as I do with their stuff; I suspect that she had at least 100 hours invested in that torque alone. [Not that I’m ever unhappy to hear nice things from all y’all. Quit it some more, quit it some more!]

I also found one of my tatting shuttles, so now I can make much of my own trim for my doll clothing and see if my idea for a tatted necklace was inspired. [Or merely insane.] And I curled up on the couch with my three new knitting magazines to see if one of the sweaters wanted to be scaled down to Jessica-size, but it was hard to keep my eyes open.

I think I am about done with the swatching; it’s time to cast on and get serious.

Happy birthday, SisterMine!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

No “alarums”. Just excursions.

My friend Bookgrump is always up to something. She has our knitting group handing over leftover bits and bobs of yarn so that the art teacher in her school can give students a wide variety of supplies for their projects. Any strand too short to make miniature sweaters and socks for my Christmas tree, or for Middlest to make doll scarves and sweaters, but longer than my hand, goes into a Ziploc snack bag. When the bag is full, I give it to Bookgrump at Knit Night.

This is something new that she’s helped with. I’ve linked on Facebook. If you’re on LiveJournal or another appropriate forum, perhaps you would like to do the same.

Yesterday was all about doing unto others. It was my privilege to attend the stake RS leadership training meeting, which was pertinent, well-run, and mercifully short. And because it was a Relief Society meeting, there were refreshments that covered most of the major food groups.

Then I drove up to the Bishops’ Storehouse [never quite sure where to put that apostrophe; maybe one day I will just toss it into the middle of Storehouse for a little variety]; I picked up two food orders for families in our ward and ran a little further up I-35 to L&L Hawaiian Barbecue, where I bought a small tub of that macaroni salad and grabbed a plastic fork.

There was quite a bit of traffic on the drive home. I ate nearly half of the salad [and nothing else until after I woke up from my nap]. Back in Fort Worth, one of my friends asked how best to help a friend of hers who moved here recently and came back from a business trip to find her home burglarized; the thieves took all her stuff including the contents of her fridge and pantry. We put our heads together and figured something out. And when I did my drive-by fooding of the missionaries, I picked up a copy of the Book of Mormon for my friend to give her friend.

I suspect that the necessity of our sweet conspiracy was the real reason I had felt such urgency to drive to the B’i’s’h’o’p’s’ S’t’o’r’e’h’o’u’s’e. [That felt good. Weird, but good.] I suspect that, other than warbling “Happy Birthday to You” into the cell phone at Fourthborn, it was the most important thing I did all day, because I had been prepared, through service, to heed the whisperings of the Spirit.

I even got a nap after all that driving: an uncharacteristically short one, only two hours; when I woke up, I still had a few hours left in which to be crafty before [a sensible person’s] bedtime.

Behold [imagine picture here; no time to import it before leaving for correlation meeting] the finished tulle underskirt, much improved over its previously austere incarnation. The only problem is, now it’s too long for the overskirt, so I am tweaking that.

Hey, Brother Sushi, what about here for dinner next-month-my-nickel? My friend Francis says it’s good. He hasn’t steered me wrong yet. Here’s the menu.

OK, y’all, I’m out the door.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

*Huge* sigh of relief.

Huge. I’ve been grinning since Wednesday: so nice to know that Cuprit is once more on shipping, though the tracking number no longer works. (Fourthborn, have they given you a new one? I tried last night and got a rather snarky error message.)

Even though I drove in to work yesterday, just in case she was delivered, the trip was not wasted; I took Fourthborn the money for Beyla and took her and Fiancé home from work while having a brief but enjoyable chat.

OK, we now need to pray for a dry spell once Cuprit arrives, so that we can do her faceup. If it’s too humid, the fixative or sealant doesn’t work properly. And speaking of dry spells or the lack thereof, I got a text from Middlest while at work on Thursday morning.

“Flooding in Fort Worth! You okay? It was on CNN.”

“Presumably yes. Hang on. …[typety-type, typety-type] … Nothing on web or in FW Star Telegram. Levees between river & most of FW. I am uphill from Cultural District & park where you got lost.”

“OK just wanted to make sure.”

“[Co-worker] says flood stage [for the Trinity River, which runs through both Dallas and Fort Worth] is 30 ft & it’s @ 32. Isolated flooding in BigD so maybe also in FW.”

“Definitely in FW. Saw it on CNN. Waist deep where they were showing footage and cause it isn’t local news, they didn’t say where exactly.”

Must have been a slow news day on Thursday. Here are some beautiful, brilliant, inspired images. Grab the box of Puffs first. [Proving that even though there may be localized flooding, Somebody is still definitely in charge.]

I had a possible brainstorm yesterday, after seeing a jewelry form/bust in an article in the fall issue of Cloth/Paper/Scissors/Studios: paper clay @ Michael’s to make jewelry forms to display doll necklaces. Lightweight, can be sculpted, nontoxic, requires no baking or firing, can be painted. I may pick up a brick of clay while I’m out and about today.

Last but certainly not least: happy birthday, Fourthborn!

Friday, October 23, 2009

A nice quiet evening at home.

Listened to Enchanted while sewing a belt for my Jessica, who will arrive next month. Began attaching the ruffle to the tulle underskirt that goes with the tie skirt.

We were discussing the recycled tracking number for Cuprit, at work. It would make sense if this is the package which was shipped in September and possibly returned to Korea without authorization. Nevertheless, it’s frustrating not to be able to hit that number and see where she is, as opposed to where she was.

I’m driving in today, in case I get a call from Fourthborn saying that Cuprit is here. And also because I need to hand over my penultimate payment on Beyla. [I love that word; I use it as often as I can!]

It’s “wear your favorite team jersey day” at work. I may have ranted a little on that subject, over on Facebook. I am wearing my don’t you wish your girlfriend could knit like me? t-shirt and declaring knitting to be the newest Olympic sport. Nyah!

I wonder if CafePress has official Knitting Olympics t-shirts?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Ms.Ravelled hits the bar...



Courtesy of Fourthborn, and lurking in the fridge for a couple of weeks. We are celebrating. Keep reading to find out why.

She may be “just a kid”, but she speaks eloquently. I really enjoy her column on Meridian.

And Richard Eyre, who also writes beautifully, must have been tired when he proofread his third-from-last paragraph. [I believe that he meant to say “tenets”, not “tenants”. No, I have not read any of Dan Brown’s books, nor am I particularly interested in doing so. But I do have a well-honed sense of irony. So I enjoyed the article.]

My MIA Cuprit, or her replacement, left the factory in Korea yesterday. She needs to get here, clear customs, and then thread the minefield [who knew?] which is the USPS. But this time the manufacturer has the correct shipping address; so now it’s just a matter of her being delivered on a day when Fourthborn’s office is open for business. Most likely next Monday.

I am so jazzed that I woke an hour and a half ahead of my alarm this morning. Thankfully, I have no meetings tonight after work; an early bedtime is a real possibility.

And I have about half of the first bit on my sister’s birthday present done; roughly 3.5 bits to go, and my gauge is sufficiently more loose than the pattern specifies, so that I may be able to get the entire project out of one ball rather than two.

Somebody had fried chicken on the train home last night. Trainman and I were both going out of our minds. After the baptism, I asked several church friends where the closest Chicken Express was, but nobody knew, so I called Secondborn. She told me exactly how to get there. I don’t often get in the mood for fried chicken, but last night my limbic brain would accept no substitutes. Mm, chicken tenders and a biscuit, all dunked in cream gravy. My ankles are none too happy with me this morning, but the rest of me is quietly content.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A “Host” of Ideas

For those of you who are not sick of the Twilight series, and maybe for some of you who are, this essay from another LDS writer.

And for those of you who are musically or culturally inclined, Natalie Cole and David McCullough are the soloists for the Christmas broadcast of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

I forgot to read the entire article, so at this writing I am not sure if it is David McCullough of PBS fame, or David McCullough who was Ilya Kuryakin on The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Oh wait. That was David McCallum. [Oops!] Who according to Wikipedia is apparently on 'NCIS' (NCSI?)these days, which I would know if I watched TV.

Now that I have thoroughly embarrassed myself, this might be a good time to distract all of you by revealing that Cuprit’s second incarnation may be imminent. Fourthborn got an email from the manufacturer yesterday, stating that the extra set of eyes she had ordered is no longer available, and they will be crediting her account. [They sent her an identical email two or three days before shipping out Ms. Missing-in-Action in early September. She emailed back, to that effect.] So when I went to bed last night, we were hoping for a fresh shipping notice, though it is entirely possible that she will just show up when we least expect her.

Or not.

I have the bag with her clothing, waiting in the trunk. The reigning mood chez Ravelled is cautious optimism. Enhanced by the civility with which the Buffalo Gold Lux is behaving on my needles as I work on my sister’s possibly-won’t-be-belated-after-all birthday present.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

We live and die by the sticky-note.

Ticklish people should not keep their cell phones in their hip pockets. It makes for startled squawks and leaping about in one’s chair.

I have my planner, to make sure that I’m where I ought to be, when I ought to be there. But much of what I do in my church calling is tender and private and sensitive, not suitable for archiving for the next umpteen years. So you will frequently find little yellow and purple sticky-notes on the cover of my planner, because they can be shredded once I have followed through.

I had to laugh at myself yesterday. I took a number of calls on RS business, one of which concerns a funeral that may or may not happen in our ward. It is not a question [as in The Princess Bride] of the fine line between “dead” and “mostly dead”; you will not find your favorite RS president going through somebody’s pockets for loose change. This was an individual who was only tangentially connected with our ward, and thus presents a question of jurisdiction and the wishes of the extended family.

One of the calls was a response from our good bishop, who is on-call for work for the next little while, so if there is a funeral, one of his counselors will necessarily preside. My sticky-note, scribbled hastily with one hand, says “Call Br. M arrange fun svcs if here.”

I devoutly hope that when it’s my turn to go, there will be a fun service.

In knitting news, the second beginning of my sister’s birthday present is going far better than the first one on Sunday. A cable needle is truly essential. It’s a pattern with a fourteen-row repeat, and I am trying to figure out how to keep track without marking up my brand new copy of Vogue Knitting Holiday 2009. I would use a sticky-note, but I’d hate to get it confused with RS stuff and accidentally bury my knitting.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Maple-Blueberry Sausage!

Every so often I go nuts at Central Market. [As opposed to going nuts at the yarn shop, fabric store, bookstore, etc.] Back in March I bought several types of sausages and froze them, two by two, just like the Ark: some chicken, some turkey, some pork.

All summer long I could not bear the thought of cooking them up, but now that it is imitating fall out there, I am suddenly feeling carnivorous. Every few days I grab a package out of the freezer and toss it into the fridge to thaw. Last week I had applewood smoked bacon for two breakfasts. Last night I poached two maple-blueberry sausages for about five minutes, then browned them in my skillet.

The larger one is going to the office with me today, accompanied by a hot dog bun and maybe some mango chutney, just to make sure I get my daily five in the fruit and veggie department. [If ketchup is a vegetable (thank you, Jimmy Carter), then surely chutney is the farmers’ market in a jar.]

Last night I sliced the smaller one into coins and also frizzled up two eggs, over easy, in [not quite enough; I should have added a dab of butter] sausage grease. It is at moments like that, that I wish I had one of those hollow tongues like butterflies, so I could get every smidgen of goodness. I toasted one last slice of the buttermilk oatmeal bread for wiping up the bowl.

Heaven.

I am up to 65 projects in my queue on Ravelry. This does not count the projects that caused me to buy three new knitting magazines last Saturday. I need to solve the mysteries of time travel, or clone myself, or both. Though two [or more] of me is a scary thought, even to me!

And I have begun the new incarnation of my sister’s main birthday present. Thank you, Vogue Knitting! Sometimes you just turn a page and think, “Oh, so that’ s what this yarn wants to be!” I ran the idea past her in a quick call on Saturday afternoon; she was intrigued. The only downside to this project, and it’s a very small quibble, more like une quibblette, is that I will not be able to cable-without-a-cable-needle. I tried, briefly, during sacrament meeting, gave up on it, and promptly dozed off.

Further swatching on the doll sweater is set aside for the moment, in the hope that I can get this birthday project in the mail to SisterMine sometime between her actual birthday and the end of the month. At which point Secondborn’s birthday gift becomes the project du jour. But as that brat Miz Scarlett was heard to say, “Tomorrow is another day.”

Sunday, October 18, 2009

How beautiful upon the mountains...

...are the feet of [him] that ... publisheth peace. [That would be my other homeboy, Isaiah (52:7, KJV); he writes me love letters that are frequently mysterious and hard to puzzle out, but he always has something edifying to say, and I always feel better and stronger and smarter and more hopeful when I read them.]

I got some good news from a good friend, about a mutual friend. The kind of thing you love to hear, told by somebody with the authority to share it. Absolutely made my day when I heard it! [You know who you are.]

So, I found that box of blank checks; all I need to do now is to print up return address labels and slap them down where the preprinted [but out-of-date] address is. Yes, I am that frugal.

Yesterday was another terrific day. I only got twenty bajillion things done, instead of the 40 bajillion I did on Friday, but the next-to-last one involved dancing with a bunch of other old people, and the music was great, and the company was better.

Today’s goals are short and sweet:
1. Stay awake in all my meetings (which begin in approximately half an hour).
2. Get a long, sleep-wrecking nap after church.

Oh, and I solved the mystery of that last perfect thing to give my sister for her birthday. It will be part of goal #1 for the day.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

What I did yesterday - and into this morning

1. Washed dishes.
2. Put the printer up on a wire shelf.
3. Made a PBJ.
4. Watched an episode of Ace of Cakes.
5. Cleaned off the couch.
6. Browsed a copy of This Old House and then put it into the recycling bag.
7. Pressed the ribbon that tied up my bag from Coldwater Creek [new plum shirt to spill food on when I went to lunch with NintendoMan earlier this week] and stitched it into a hoochie-mama skirt for one of Fourthborn’s dolls.



9. Ate some cookie dough.
10. Washed more dishes.
11. Wrapped Fourthborn’s birthday presents; tossed the hoochie-mama skirt into the bag. It needs a fastener at the waist, and it needs the little strap that will become built-in bloomers tacked at the back of the skirt, but I’m going to let her adjust the fit.



12. Put away the stuff I used to make the skirt.
13. Cannibalized my favorite red T-shirt for doll clothes and split it three ways.
14. Started a new pile of stuff to send to Middlest.
15. Watched another episode [or three] of Ace of Cakes.
16. Hung up the last of the clean clothes from in the fridge.
17. Hung up the laundry bag.
18. Cut out the dusty plum underskirt for Jessica and/or Cuprit but did not make it as full as the one for Fourthborn’s doll.
19. Made a pot of egg and lemon soup, but also wanted some spinach, so when I cooked the rice, I threw in a block of frozen spinach. [This was done by a skilled stunt cook; do not attempt this at home.]
20. Stitched up the back seam of the underskirt while the soup cooked.
21. Threw in a can of chicken chunks and the rest of the chicken stock. Called it egg and lemon casserole. Not the prettiest meal I have ever cooked, but reasonably tasty. Last time I made the soup, I put in too much lemon juice. This time, not quite enough.
22. Bound the top edge of the underskirt using SeamsGreat and threaded a length of skinny cream double-faced satin ribbon through it. It’s too long and not full enough at the bottom; I need to pick Fourthborn’s brain on what to do to make it better.
23. Finished watching Ace of Cakes.
24. Mended the edge of an afghan belonging to Fourthborn’s Fiancé’s mom. It got seriously chomped while in storage. It’s vintage yarn, so no way of matching it, plus it’s crocheted. So I just built a little cage around the chomping using strip after strip of SeamsGreat, which is pretty much invisible even if my stitches aren’t.
25. Went to bed at 1:00am feeling happier about my living room than I have in awhile, and having not spoken to another living soul all day, but ready to change that.

What happens today:
1. Breakfast at Chef Point Cafe with Trainman. I am dressed and ready to rumble [my tummy has already begun].
2. Trip to Arlington to deliver the mended afghan.
3. Haircut, oh please, haircut!!!
4. Hook up the scanner?
5. If so, scan and shred the paperwork here on my desk.
6. Birthday card for Fourthborn.
7. Study Sunday School lesson and Relief Society lesson.
8. Figure out the rest of my sister’s birthday present and get it ready to mail on Monday.
9. Find the box of checks or order new ones; this might really be the last bundle of blanks.
10. Take scarves to the dry cleaner.
11. 12. Wash the lights and the darks.
12. 11. Go to bank. Get quarters, just in case. I need that fridge space for more carrot sticks.
13. Eat chocolate.
14. Don’t worry.
15. Be happy. ☺

Friday, October 16, 2009

When in Rome...

Have you ever wondered how [or if] the Romans pronounced Roman numerals? All these years, and I never thought to wonder until now. I somehow doubt that they said icks for the number 9.

You know that I love Anne Perry’s work nearly as much as Orson Scott Card’s. Here is a link to her latest Letter from the Highlands on Meridian.



You also know that I am an exceedingly amateur photographer. I look at BrooklynTweed’s photography of his knitting designs, or ThePanopticon’s, and I just sigh. I’m not a big fan of the great outdoors, or natural light [one look at my shins, if I ever revealed them, would tell you this].

I used three settings on my rookie-proof digital camera to photograph this swatch. The ones with my flash were overexposed and bleagh, and you couldn’t see the individual stitches. Here I got down on my knees by my bed and attacked from the side.

At least now you can see how beautiful and crisp those cables are, even if the lace does not show up in either photograph. And you can see how even the plain stockinette stitches are, and the wonderful relief in the knit-purl section.



I truly, madly, deeply ♥ this yarn. To the point where I could see myself not-buying-dolls long enough to save up and order two full bags of it [20 balls] to make a sweater in human scale. Or maybe that will be my treat when I get my bonus next year.

What’s on the agenda, you ask? A mental health day; I love that I get three weeks of vacation every year. I slept in until 7:15 (I know!) and am about to put on my jeans and my painting shirt or something equally disreputable.

I think there will be some furniture-shoving here in the living room, and possibly in my studio as well. There will be a modicum of dusting. The Swiffer is going to get a workout. I am going to set my ladybug kitchen timer for varying amounts of time and see if I can beat the clock.

There will be frequent knitting breaks to reward myself. Cookie dough will mysteriously vanish. I might even go so far as to connect the scanner to the computer and the VCR/DVD player to the TV, though that might be pushing things, and I might leave that for Trainman or Brother Sushi the next time one of them is here.

I am also going to study my Relief Society lesson and my Sunday School lessons for this weekend, but mostly I am going to be an avocado all day. [i.e., incommunicado] No email, no cell phone, no Facebook until I am once more pleased with my surroundings, and myself.

Later, gators!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

In which your intrepid heroine falls asleep during the monthly staff meeting.

It ran long. Two point four hours, to be precise, and somewhere in the middle I was just gone. I fought it and fought it, but when I awoke, it was to discover the office manager beholding me with polite vexation.

I’m truly sorry. She doesn’t want me to knit in the meetings; she thinks it’s rude, and they’re her meetings. 99.9% of me is fully supportive of that. The one-tenth of one percent of me which is not, is unfortunately quite visible, as it’s located midway up my face.

I’m using my CPAP, I got to bed at a decent hour on Tuesday night, and I’m trying to eat sensibly. Though it was really hard to do with all this to tempt me.



And more food.



I’ve already learned to great chagrin that I can’t stay out dancing until all hours if I have a 7:00am correlation meeting at church the next day. All those candles burnt at both ends and sometimes in the middle, when I was in my 20’s, are paying me back now that I’m in my late 50’s. I was sitting at Knit Night, put my knitting into my bag, and immediately wilted. It was if somebody had turned off the master switch.

I dozed off at switchboard a couple of times when I was covering the receptionist’s lunch hour. Finally I stood up, did some stretches, a few slow yoga moves in the chair, refilled the paper tray in the fax machine, did some more stretches, visualized world peace, read the in-house propaganda publications, stretched some more, played some FreeCell.



But I’m awake now. And I’ve got my eye on you.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Why boys should not take me to lunch.

9:00am – four hours until lunch
10:30am – two and a half hours until lunch
11:56am – one hour and four minutes until – holy cow! I forgot to go up to switchboard at 11:30!
12:17pm – I hope my stomach doesn’t growl in the car on the way to the restaurant
12:20pm – my hands are shriveling and crêping as we speak
12:22pm – I have the soundtrack from the club scene in “Shall We Dance?” running through my head; all those trumpets are making me nervous
12:26pm – (while scanning documents at switchboard) oh-my-heck, my face is breaking out
12:31pm – holy cow, he’s early
12:56pm – we are outta here!
2:25pm – je suis rempli des poissons [and dirty rice, and coleslaw, and tartar sauce, and hush puppies, and there is a slice of lemon pie waiting for me in the fridge]
2:30pm – (as I am logging in my request for half an hour of PT because the service was, ahem, leisurely) we could do this again sometime

[Let the record show that the first time I had dinner with Brother Sushi, I spazzed, even though we agreed beforehand that we would only ever be JustFriends. And the first time I dined with Trainman, I called two daughters and Brother Sushi and gave them all Trainman’s license number, just in case I came up missing between the appetizer and the dessert. New male presence in my life or shift in context with male presence in my life or reintroduction of male presence in my life, it mattereth not. Spazzing, there will be. Once I had the plate in front of me, I relaxed. Oh, and that pie? He was right: best lemon pie ever; I ate mine at my desk while transcribing a tape, just before leaving the office.]

@Firstborn: Not the top shelf, honey; that’s where the milk and juice go.



You will be pleased to know that all the stuff I hung up Monday night is dry, and I hung up more stuff when I got home from Knit Night; the bag [while back in the fridge] is considerably smaller.

I also did a lot of swatching yesterday. All my shots were blurry, so you will just have to wait. I’m still not done swatching. I ♥ this yarn! It is easy on the hands, easy on the eyes, crisp without being stiff. I think the next bit of swatching, after I finish the current eyelet pattern, is going to include a few cables.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Makin’ Whoopie!

No, not me, y’all; I have not fallen off the chastity wagon. But Amazon tells me that Diana Krall has a new CD, and she sings this as a duet with her husband, Elvis Costello. I love Dr. John’s rendition on the Sleepless in Seattle soundtrack. [And I sing a plausible version myself, but what’s the point? There’s nobody to sing harmony.]

But for all you married types, this might be just the ticket. Amazon says that the CD is mostly bossa nova, which for me is one of the charms of Texas de Brazil, all that lovely music murmuring in the background.

I got my manicure after work last night, huzzah! And I got a bushel of compliments on Autumn Asters when I wore it to work. Everybody else was shivering and complaining, and I just grinned and said, “I don’t know what all of you are talking about. I’m warm as toast here.”

I also got the most crucial part of my laundry washed but not dried. I bought a cheapie rolling rack, because both change machines at the laundromat were out of change, and if I hung everything up on the shower rod, it would fall apocalyptically in the middle of the night, because it’s just mean like that.

So, today I am lunching out. With a guy. One who is neither Brother Sushi nor Trainman, but whom I hope will become as good a friend. He says I get the privilege of watching him eat at least half a dozen raw oysters and assures me that this place serves more than just oysters; good thing, because I don’t think I could eat one to save my life. I like the flavor of cooked oysters but not the texture. I would have to eat them after somebody else had minced them into smithereens. It has been roughly 40 years since the last time I ate oysters, and I no longer have to eat what my parents tell me, so there too now. Plus, I have dysphagia [intermittent difficulty in swallowing], and I choked on fondue once, so the less gaggy the food the better.

I ran out of hangers before I ran out of things to hang up, so I shoved the laundry bag into the fridge in the hope that its contents will not sour before I can hang them up tonight. I just was not in the mood to run to Wally World at a quarter to midnight to get more hangers.

It worked, mostly. It would have worked better if this were still July and the room I laughingly call my studio were 85°F. I had to use my blowdryer to finish the job this morning.

And I am out the door...

Sunday, October 11, 2009

I wore "Autumn Asters" yesterday.

The house was chilly when I woke up. Not cool enough to require running the gas fireplace, but enough to give me hope that it might be a sweater-wearing day. And it was. I picked up Fourthborn and took her to the strip mall that has both a JoAnn’s and a Hancock’s so she could get cow fabric for her Halloween costume. And then she bought us lunch at Chipotle. I trusted her on the contents of my über-burrito, and I was not disappointed: steak marinated in something spicy, rice with a decided lemony flavor, and just enough sour cream and cheese to smooth off any rough edges. I ate part of it for lunch and the rest for dinner.

While she shopped, I sat in the car and knitted, just in case I am contagious. She passed on a trip to the bead store near Secondborn’s, because “bead stores are much more fun when you can say, oh look at this, what do you think I should put with it?” When I took her home, she loaned me the first three seasons of Ace of Cakes in case I found myself sitting on the couch the rest of the weekend with my knitting and my boxes of Puffs.

I made a bunch of phone calls regarding various meetings that require my presence today as I headed down to Firstborn’s to drop off Lark’s birthday present, which I had sealed up with its card in a Ziploc storage bag, with instructions that they should pop the bag into the freezer for a couple of days. As Sandberg said, “Ice is nice, and will suffice.”

From Firstborn’s I drove to the bread thrift store and picked up enough loaves for the better part of a month. And then down to Wal-Mart for milk and juices and Greek yogurt and a bag of salad. [The woman who checked me out, loved the sweater. Props to Sarah Rose Orne.]

Back home to putter for a couple of hours, until it was time to do my drive-by fooding of the elders.

I don’t know what was up on southbound Montgomery; it must have taken the better part of ten minutes to get down to the light at I-30. I called the elders and told them I was running late, and did they prefer Jack in the Box or Subway? “We like both. Surprise us.” If I had been feeling perkier, I would have gotten one of each and told them to fight it out. I ended up getting them marinara meatball subs with cheese and black olives [Brother Sushi is rolling his eyes] and oatmeal cookies for dessert. It was cooling off again outside, and they were on their bikes. Hot sandwiches were just what Dr. Mom ordered, though I didn’t get one for myself. Looked great, could almost smell them, would love to have one some other time, but meh.

The elders were most appreciative and made the male equivalent of there, there noises when they saw my poor chapped beak. One of them said, “Let us know if you want us to give you a blessing.” At which point I turned off the engine, opened the door, unbuckled myself, and pivoted my feet out of the car so they could get at my head to anoint me.

If you ever, ever have the opportunity or the need to have the elders of Israel lay hands upon your head and pronounce a blessing upon you, take it. The priesthood which these young men hold is the power and authority to act in the name of God The words which come out of their mouths, are the inspired word of God and are exactly what He would like you to hear at the time you ask Him. Last night I received comfort, the promise of healing, counsel to pace myself wisely, and acknowledgment of my efforts.

One of those blessings where, as I told them afterward, it was almost worth getting sick to hear.

Moving from the levitical to levity, here is a creative use for candy corn.

And by way of Unclutterer, here are five links to useful articles on keeping medical expenses under control.

[Well, I thought I had made all necessary calls re: meetings, etc., and I got a text at 10:25 asking if I could have one of my counselors come to the 7:30 meeting in my stead. Texted back that it was probably too late to call but that I would email them. Which I did. When I went to bed at 10:59, I was feeling significantly more human.]

Dragées: things I learned on “Ace of Cakes”

The proper pronunciation of “dragées”, for one thing. I thought they were the coolest thing ever, when I was a kid: little silver or gold balls of rock-hard sugar, with the caution do not eat on the side of the bottle. Still not sure why that warning is there; possibly to keep dentists from having to work overtime? Rebellious urchin that I was, I ate them anyway.

I called them drugGIES, not knowing any French at the time and not thinking about it once I could sing along with Sir Paul on Michelle and know what he was saying [which was not much; it was a love song, and the Sixties]. They are, apparently, druhZHAYZ. And I think I will put them on my grocery list for the next time I crave persons-of-gingerbreadness.

I also learned this weekend that cake decorating is exhilarating, stressful, and can involve a large number of childbirth words with much bleeping. I have decided that “Ace of Cakes” is an important part of recuperating from respiratory issues.

The theme music is quite effective in helping one pick up oodles and oodles of stitches around the armscye of a Noro sweater for dolls; I imagine it would be equally effective in helping one to navigate miles and miles of stockinette for a sock or the body of a plain vanilla sweater.

My appetite returned yesterday with a vengeance, making up for the fact that I hardly ate on Saturday. Three half-slices of applewood-smoked bacon accompanied by three eggs, over easy. A whole-wheat English muffin with a whisper of butter but no jelly. Apple juice, nuked in the microwave and savored while knitting. Apple oatmeal, which was even better than just the warmed apple juice. Two white chocolate brownies, eaten several hours apart. A PBJ. A mug of milk. The last dab of corn soup.

And in the boldness inspired by watching nine hours of “Ace of Cakes”, I made a potentially difficult phone call, one that I wished a friend of mine had made several years ago. The former spouse of one of my friends has invited me to lunch. And I am willing, in principle, because I can always use one more JustFriend in the posse. But I wanted to run it by her first, to see if it would be crazy-making in any way. And she said she thought it was a great idea, that he makes a good, loyal friend and we would have lots to talk about; I know her well enough to know she wouldn’t tell me so if she didn’t mean it. So, whew!

[There is *zero* possibility of this ever becoming more than friendship, so rest easy, girls. NintendoMan is not going to be your new daddy. (Yeah, him. I’m probably even more surprised than you are. {But I admire his courage in asking, particularly after how cranky he was with me for divorcing your father.})]

And oye, will I have things to tell Trainman, next time we talk!

Well, I went to bed earlier than usual last night, and I woke up ahead of the alarm. So I have time for more bacon and eggs, and I made a PBJ to take to work today, and there is time for a nice steep in the tub and maybe even a half-hour of Ace of Cakes. We are going to be short-handed today; one of my team is out for jury duty and possibly another one has been felled by the flu. I will take all the fortification I can get.

I may have finished the sweater I was working on. I’m not crazy about the underarm shaping and will just have to wait until Cuprit gets here [whenever that is] and try it on her before deciding if/how I need to fix it. I may end up ripping back both sleeves entirely, doubling the number of decreases and thereby lengthening the sleeves [I was being cautious, because I didn’t know how far the remaining yarn would go], or opting to simply tidy the edges with a narrow band and call this a vest. So, no pictures today; it looks rather UglyDuckling-ish at the moment, and I will have to try it on Cuprit to find out if it is really a swan in disguise.

The good news is, now I can swatch the Hempathy sweater for Jessica with a perfectly clear conscience. Woohoo! Though I only have fifteen days to knit up something brilliant for my sister’s birthday and get it delivered. And Fourthborn’s birthday, two days before that.

Bacon. We wants bacon...

Saturday, October 10, 2009

If it ain’t broke…

…don’t Twix it.



Friday was fun. I participated in a skit on communication do’s-and-don’ts during the monthly staff meeting for the attorneys and paralegals. I got to yell! I was probably the loudest anybody has ever heard me be, at work. [These good folks didn’t know me when I had five kids, 11 and under, before we moved to Fredericksburg and had a home office, and I had to learn to correct our children quietly. Which in a way was the beginning of the end for a couple of my kids, because if they didn’t get told at triple forte, they just blew me off. (You know who you are.)]

Anyway, I got to yell to “my attorney” who was spazzing on the phone, that she should just tell the court that her client probably hadn’t planned to have a (fictional) death in the family. And that the judge would just have to understand.

Good times!



As you can see, the tie skirt is finished, except for tying off the elastic and burying the ends. I stitched neatly down the middle of the bias tape to make two channels; I threaded skinny elastic first through the bottom channel and then through the top one, leaving two tails. I’ll adjust the fit when I put the skirt on Jessica [or Cuprit].

I really enjoyed this project. There is something so satisfying about hand-stitching something from start to finish. Now I want to make the tulle underskirt, which will be far less aggravating if I use my machine. I haven’t set it up since moving to the duplex, so I guess the next item of business is to find a wall outlet that isn’t in use and is relatively close to a large, flat surface.

I had grand ideas about rearranging the studio today: moving the shelves over against the wall I share with the other half of the duplex to reduce visual clutter when I look in the doorway. Moving the fainting couch across the room to where the shelves now stand. Moving the table against the south wall, between the windows, and the filing cabinets and marble table top against the north wall, and putting the last of the storage bins into the closet. But I woke about 1:30 to feel that first treacherous slosh inside my head that signifies the onset of sinus issues, and I have been steadily pillaging my box of Puffs for the past two and a half hours.

This is what I get for eating healthy food on Thursday.

Brother Sushi and I had dinner at Charleston’s last night. He had steak. I tried their meatloaf, which I might like even better than I do my own, with the garlicky mashed potatoes and the supremely decadent glazed carrots. Even better than the chicken fried steak I had last time [with the same sides], though Massey’s still fights for top honors with Star Cafe where chicken fried steak is concerned.

I am supposed to pick up Fourthborn later this morning and hit the fabric stores. She wants to get stuff to make her Halloween costume, and then we will catch an inexpensive lunch. I am thinking tortilla soup from Bueno. I am also thinking of simmering a can of Ro-Tel with a quart of chicken stock and calling it breakfast.

But first I am going to try getting a bit more sleep. Wish me luck!

Friday, October 09, 2009

I’m not the only one with a missing dolly.

(In case you think that life at a law firm is boring, here is a recent email exchange.)

Attorney A, to the office at large:
My trial dolly is still missing. It hasn’t called or written, so I can only assume it is being held against its will.

Me, to Attorney A (only):
I think I heard it say that it was running off to join the French Foreign Legion.

Attorney B, to the office at large:
Do you have a recent photo? Have you tried putting up flyers?

One thing to keep in mind. You have to be open to the idea that the dolly may have voluntarily left you. These things happen. You grow distant. You don’t remember important anniversaries. The next thing you know, your dolly is heading to trial with another attorney. In that case, you have to accept your dolly’s wishes and move on. Just remember the good times you guys had and treasure those memories.

Wow. Trumped, and by an attorney no less. [But I’d bet the rent that my missing dolly cost more than Attorney A’s dolly and is a whale of a lot cuter.]

I ate the Sun Chips [but I did not shoot the deputy, though I considered it].



No, I am not dieting. To quote Richard Simmons, the first word in diet is “die”. But I am trying to make small changes. What I wanted was a ginormous double chocolate muffin, at 50 gazillion calories and who knows how many fat grams or mg of sodium. What I bought was this. More fiber, 210 calories, and 240 mg of sodium.

You’re welcome, ankles.



This is our can-collecting initiative, midway through week #5. One more reason to love the folks I work with. Our goal is to fill a truck with cans and boxes for the food pantry. The stated goal was four cans of an item, per person, per week. Some of our people are bringing a case per week.

In honor of Lark’s 16th birthday [yesterday], here is a link to an exposition on the story of the brother of Jared, and the 16 stones.

I went into Whirled Fibers after work last night and came home with this:



The Hempathy is for a sweater to go with the tie skirt. I attached the facing last night and took it right back off again; it was too bulky and awkward, and it skewed the hang of the skirt. So now I am doing a variation on a hand-rolled hem, and it is going slowly but is far more pleasing to the eye.

The pink and brown Panda Superwash is for my favorite lawyer’s baby, whose arrival is imminent. I don’t have enough of this to make a wee sweater, so I am thinking a cap, booties, and mitts. Quite possibly just booties, depending upon my level of patience. Any leftover yarn will go into the doll sweater stash.

This is a Brother Sushi Friday, and it’s his nickel tonight. I wonder where we’re eating?

Thursday, October 08, 2009

“Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?”

This, the question posed by one of my attorneys as I let him into our suite, because I had asked him “Who was that masked man?” [Tag line at the end of each episode of “The Lone Ranger”, to which the response was inevitably, “I don’t know. But he left this silver bullet.”]

I told my attorney, “Wrong show.”

“But the Shadow knows.”

“So does every woman who has dated a man.”

“Funny, that’s what my wife says!”

The Yarn Harlot was brilliant as usual yesterday, and I am buying that pattern.

Knitting Daily’s email yesterday was entitled “Knitting Patterns for Men”. Why on earth would I want to knit myself a man? I would probably just have to frog him repeatedly. [Froggings will continue until morale improves.]

Oh, I crack myself up!

Just in case you weren’t convinced of it already, Facebook is insidious. I was shinnying down my Wall, when I read that one of my [pregnant] friends was craving Taco Bueno. And I had already been thinking about Taco Bueno, wondering if I wanted to get in the car when I was so comfy here at home.

I think we know the answer to that.



MovieMom had this beautiful little film on her blog.



May we all be more gentle with one another. And, because I am four:



Click to embiggen. I drove behind that bus for several miles on Monday morning. The motto on all the other buses in the station reads Stop Less Go More. Some wiseguy removed the S from this one.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Still laughing at this one.

Came home early from Knit Night, plowed through my inbox, saw the notification of a new match on the Churchboy Dating Service. My gut reaction, sight unseen, resembled Dorothy Parker’s classic line when she answered the phone: “What fresh hell is this?” [I look on the alleged matches that the service provides with what my father would have called love, and suspicion.] What came out of my mouth when I saw who it was? “Oh cr@p!!!” I would not be surprised if the girls heard me in Arlington, and maybe even Middlest in Virginia Beach.

Brother Abacus. [dunh dunh dunh = organ notes of doom]

Which almost negated the relief that I’d felt when I walked in the door and saw my cell phone on the coffee table, safe and sound. He is now blocked from seeing me and hidden from my own searches. Mwa ha ha ha ha.

There is other good news. Fourthborn got a call yesterday from Official Post Office Dude, wherein she confirmed that no, indeed, we did not get Cuprit. He is reporting that sad fact to the manufacturer in Korea. Sometime between now and the end of the world as we know it, we should get my doll and the other stuff that Fourthborn ordered.

I celebrated with a judicious portion of yummy almond gelato.

I’ve sewn the final seam on the necktie skirt and embellished it with embroidery like the other 13 seams; taken my leftover bias tape and carefully pressed it into a curve and hand-stitched it to the top edge of the skirt; and edge-stitched it by hand. Next up? stitching the other edge of the casing, putting the hem facing together, and stitching it in place. And then I’ll deal with the issue of elastic.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

What a kalamata! Hummus have pita on me.

Why all the Mediterranean food puns? [Alison is not the only one around here who loves bad (good!) puns.] Because I couldn’t halvah myself. At least I’m not serenading y’all with “Ha(l)va(h) Nagila”!

This would maybe explain why spanakopita makes me happy, both in the making of it and in the eating. I have been incorporating more nuts into my diet; I like to dip tart crisp apples in hummus, and I am firmly convinced that on the Eighth Day, baklava was invented. Possibly even before dark chocolate! Or cinnamon toast.

About a dozen years ago, I started checking cookbooks out from the library. [I wasn’t particularly interested in actually cooking anything; I just read them for inspiration.] And I remember reading that if you take the new, improved Food Triangle and drizzle a little olive oil on it, you will have a nearly perfect diet for nearly everybody.

Why am I suddenly craving dolmas? Hava neranenah ve nis’mecha [let’s sing and be happy]!

Works for me.

Monday, October 05, 2009

54 friends, but who’s counting

That was as of bedtime last night. [56 confirmed at 5:19am, and 26 pending, and I’m only linked to a smidgen of the folks in my ward at this point.] I need to tweak how Facebook notifies me via email. Takes me forever to sort through all those emails and respond appropriately. Am hoping they have a daily digest thing.

I put about 3” on my sister’s present yesterday, but after a good night’s sleep, I don’t know. It was good Conference knitting but may not be special enough for her.

Went to bed about 9:30 last night. [No nap yesterday afternoon.] I am right on the cusp of “enough sleep / too much sleep”; should make for an interesting day, if I can figure out what my hands want to create, when I’m on the train and on break at work.

I tried one of the recipes from Real Simple yesterday ~ sort of. I was in the mood for Cream of Wheat, so I cooked it in milk, with a smidgen of cinnamon and the last of the geriatric brown sugar. I forgot to stir in the dried fruit: snippets of apricots in the original, should have been cranberries for me. [And the nuts: why is everybody else so crazy about walnuts? They seem to be the first to go rancid on me, though I don’t mind them if they’re very fresh. Pecans are way better! So are almonds! Oh by the way, that almond gelato I picked up at Town Talk last weekend, is to die for!] I made enough cereal for at least one more breakfast, two for sure if I remember the fruit and the nuts.

It’s not even time for breakfast, and I would kill bruise somebody severely for a carrot stick about now. Makes no sense at all, even to me. The closest I can get at the moment, is a mini-pizza on an English muffin with chêvre, which I think I will do while the tub fills. So while you are eating your Wheaties, I will have the UN duking it out in my gizzard.

I am thankful for General Conference this weekend. I really needed that time to ponder and pray, though I am still somewhat amazed that “Facebook” was one of the inspirations I got! I dozed off repeatedly during yesterday afternoon’s session but managed to wake up long enough afterward to make a quick trip to the Bitties’ and also check on the children’s father.

I wish I could get him to stop calling me “honey” and “love”, but he’s pushing 70, and old habits die hard. [I wish he had been this attentive during the last years of our marriage, but that’s another story.]

Happy thoughts. We need happy thoughts. OK, here’s one: my youngest grandchild still fits neatly on my shoulder, and he grinned at me in his sleep. And another: there is chocolate in my fridge. And another: I know what I’m going to wear when my attorney-friend’s idea of Brother Right shows up in the office for his day in court. Need more? Dinner this coming Friday with Brother Sushi, on his nickel this month. And a return-and-report from Trainman on his visit to the Hawaiian BBQ. [Oh man, now I want some of that macaroni salad!]

Happy Monday, everybody!

Sunday, October 04, 2009

So, I was listening to General Conference

And the topic was heeding the promptings of the Spirit, and how God will help you do things that you think are impossible. OK, I have had some experiences like that. Do go on.

Tell your friends and your family that you love them, and not just over the pulpit when you are giving a talk, because some people might think that is the only time you tell them, especially if you preface it with “I know I don’t say this often enough...” Fine, I will fire up my cell phone and tell each of the girls that I love them. It’s been a week or less for some of them and longer for others.

Oh dear. One of my children apparently no longer has a cell phone. At least she is not returning calls from the rest of the family, whether from inclination or inability I couldn’t say. And I can’t drop by and give her a hug because I don’t know where she lives [I try hard not to dwell on that fact, and occasionally I succeed]. It can be days before she responds to an email, but I did send her one. The one place I know she checks regularly is Facebook.

This is a fiendish plot. You know that, right? I came home and signed up between conference sessions. And then I soothed myself with snickerdoodles and a cup of milk.

While we are still sitting firmly on the old-dog-new-tricks square of the game board, this is probably a good time to mention that I learn something new almost every day [or try to]. Frequently, multiple things. In re-entering the world of dolls, I find that there is a whole new vocabulary since I played with Barbies. Shoes were shoes. Hats were hats. Barbie did her best to emulate Grace Kelly and Jackie Kennedy. Real mink trim on one of the jackets and its matching chapeau.

So I find that “Lolita style” has nothing to do with that book, or the hoochifying of little girls’ clothing. I read this while sitting at switchboard after finishing my two intense projects on Friday afternoon. Like “steampunk”, Lolita and its variants are based on Victorian and Edwardian fashion [which I like], but with a twist [which I also like].

If you liked the costuming in League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, you would probably like steampunk. Especially as Mina Parker wears it, or Dorian Gray.

OK, I got to IM with my best friend in high school before crashing last night. Maybe Facebook isn’t so awful after all?

Before that, I stretched out on the couch with the leftover pink Malabrigo and designed a very simple fingerless glove for Lark. When I went to bed, I had three rounds done on the second one, but I had not broken off the yarn on the first one, just in case I don’t have enough yarn to get to the same point. If I don’t, I have some of the darker, brighter pink to incorporate; if I do it on both mitts, it’s a design element.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

I didn’t say he was *cute*!

Which is not to imply that he’s ugly, either. Just your basic white-bread middle-aged guy in a suit. Besides which, if guys in my age group are cute, it’s really not cute, you know? Cute is for puppies, kittens, baby goats, etc. Or shoes. Or PukiPuki’s.

Do you know what you want to be for Halloween this year? Some of the folks I am meeting in the local doll group are taking their dolls, in costume, to a pumpkin patch for a photo shoot. I may or may not tag along, depending on what day they choose to go. Maybe this time next year I will be making tiny costumes. Meanwhile, I am content to eat candy corn and try to figure out what I want to be for Halloween. It needs to be something that I can throw into my knitting bag and put on once I get to work, or something I wouldn’t feel embarrassed to wear on the train.

Middle-aged woman with intermittently spiky hair (I really do need to get it cut, and I am laughing at myself because I typed it intermittenly; maybe my subconscious is telling me that I want to knit those gloves in my queue on Ravelry?) knitting on train is scary enough. Middle-aged woman with intermittently spiky hair and knitting needles, dressed as a ninja would be seriously scary! Though if I were a really good ninja, nobody would see me, right?

I have been spending too much time reading MyLifeIsAverage, which abounds in ninjas. If you skip that link, you’ll miss a cute non-ninja story.

And while I am sending you off chasing rabbits, these two will aim you right back at Halloween. What can I say? I just polished off the last bits in a small bag of candy corn. I’m in a holiday mood.

Which is not the kind of mood I ended up in, last night. I went straight from work to Whirled Fibers, where I had truly the best time yet. The shop was relatively quiet, and they were pricing yarn, and conversation was gentle and thoughtful and merry. Plus, I got some serious stitching done on the silk necktie skirt and discovered that the teal I thought was so pretty under the incandescent light of my living room, was positively garish under fluorescent light. [The sun is up; I shall have to step outside and get a third opinion before picking those stitches out.] Work had been intense, so I really needed to wind down.

Then I got a kids’ meal at a drive-through, thinking I would head up to the doll meet but deciding to just go on to the dance. When I got to the building, there was only one car in the parking lot. I am never that early! And the building was still locked, so I had to drive a few blocks for a comfort stop, because hello, Duncanville is on the far south side of Dallas, and Coppell/Lewisville is on the far north side. And I drive like a grandma.

When I got back to the church, there were maybe half a dozen people inside, and my least-favorite DJ was playing, but I had a nice visit with his wife [they have been married a month or two], and I danced a couple of dances with what few sisters there were, and I put on my socks and shoes, and I left.

As I was getting to Lorelai, one of my buddies and his girlfriend were getting out of his truck. He asked if I were not going the wrong way, and I told him no, I was going to go home and knit because I didn’t like the music. He said, “Well, they are really trying to move that [stuff] around.” He is a cowboy; insert expletive of choice. I just raised one eyebrow and told him that the noun he used, pretty much described it.

I have never before seen that man at a loss for words. I thought his eyebrows were going to fly up off his face.

I repented, a little, on the ride home. I did have the grace to pray that anybody else who showed up would like the music better than I did and would have a good time. It was mostly thirty-somethings by the time I left, and it was a sports-themed dance [the table decorations were good; I should probably have sat at the one with the boxing gloves], and a lot of them were in team jerseys.

I keep saying this, but I think no more church dances for this mama, except for those where DJ or Brother Sushi provide the music, and the dances at the singles’ conferences. I have heard a rumor that DJ is doing the honors at the next one for the older singles in November.

I had a lot of fun at the dances ten years ago, when I was in my 40’s. Now, not so much. And I know it’s entirely my responsibility to have a good time; to put a spin on what Eleanor Roosevelt said, nobody can make me happy without my consent.

And a part of what was going on last night, is that this weekend is going to be a spiritual feast, and the Adversary was just trying to distract and frustrate me. Well, one point for him, and now I’m going to eat some breakfast and get ready to go over to the chapel to knit and take notes and sing and be edified.

So there!

Friday, October 02, 2009

Where in the world is Cuprit Sandiego?

Probably off playing with my missing marbles, or discussing the finer points of existentialism with Brother Right.

In News of the Weird, this just in from our North Texas bureau:

One of my attorneys wants me to meet [and preferably fall in love with] one of her clients. Single, younger than I by as much as I am younger than the children’s father. LDS. [She says “rich”. I would be perfectly happy with solvent/stable.] She dragged him into the break room when I was in there, ostensibly to get a Coke or something. I did notice that there was a non-employee in the room, but 99% of my attention was focused on the last sliver of apple pie from the BBQ on Wednesday.

After he left our office, she came back to the break room. “Why didn’t you say anything to him?”

Um, I didn’t know I was supposed to? And I had long-since eaten off the last of my lipstick.

They will be in trial later this month. I have made a note of that date. I will dress cute. And maybe my nails will be done and my bangs trimmed. [This weekend is going to be filled with four sessions of General Conference broadcasts, and that seems a higher priority to me than vanity or my social life.]

But I have learned not to hold my breath, where the menfolk are concerned. Yes, I am reasonably sure that when Brother Right does amble into my life, I will meet him through a friend. Yes, she certainly qualifies as a friend. And yes, the last two RS presidents in our ward did fall in love and get married while serving.

Good news is, his occupation is such that it demands great intelligence and clear thinking. Clear thinking is always welcome in this woman’s world. And I don’t remember him popping up as a possible match on the Churchboy Dating Service. I’ve never seen him at any of our activities. And he’s not in my stake. So, no obvious red flags.

I’m not sure how to tell my friend that just because a guy is the same religion as me, and appears to have a dry sense of humor, and is obviously intelligent, doesn’t mean that he’s the right smart witty guy for me. It’s like saying, “you’re both Jewish” or “you’re both Catholic” or “you’re both vegan [*so* not!]”: it’s a good start, but it’s no guarantee.

Still no word on Cuprit’s whereabouts, and Middlest says that Fourthborn is under the weather and probably not up to nagging either the manufacturer or the USPS. But the EMS shipping which she paid for includes insurance, so it’s just a matter of time for the claim to get processed, or for Cuprit to be found, and either the original or the replacement to get shipped here. Preferably to the proper mailing address; they are saying on the Cuprit forum on DoA that Soom has a bunch of new employees, so that might be where the problems began. The USPS here in the good old US of A managed to get their oar in the water and muddy things up but good.

In knitting news: I bound off Willow’s scarf just as the train pulled into the station last night. Yes, that was a scarf in less than 24 hours. Let us all sing the praise of fat yarn and big needles. I would show you a picture, but on the off-chance that she reads the blog, you’ll just have to wait awhile longer.

I curled up on the couch with the silk necktie skirt and my seven boxes of embroidery floss, and August Rush in the DVD player. I love that movie. Just love that movie. The music is tender and exhilarating and moving, and the final scene where his music and his mother’s music and his father’s music all come together? It is such a sublime metaphor for the love and the longing that brings us home to one another. [I always put my glasses back on and put down my handwork and just watch.]

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Why, yes, my adrenal system works just fine, thank you!

How do I know this, you ask? Because my desk is right under the loudspeaker which goes off during a fire drill, and before I went up front to keep an ear on the phones, I had to push my heart down out of my throat.

Other than that, it was another truly lovely fall day in Texas. Temperature 83°F at quitting time. I drove to the Richland Hills station in the morning so I could play at the fabric stores on my way home.

The great thing about sewing doll clothing is that a “falling-down” in the fabric store is not a budget wrecker. I came home with six yards of tulle, two yards of gimp [a trim, not a slur], and a spool of silk thread for $13 and change. Eminently affordable.

On Monday I texted Trainman: “drove in want a ride to your car tonight?” He didn’t read the message until much later that evening. On Tuesday I texted him from the Hawaiian BBQ place: “having a great meal wish you were here” [more on that meal in a minute]. Last night I was sitting on the train when my phone went off. Him, laughing at how he had been instantly hungry for BBQ when he got my text. He had driven in; did I want a ride home? I did.

So I gathered up my bags and hopped off the train about a minute before it was due to pull out, and I walked back through the station and waited on a bench in front. Nobody bothered me as I waited. I was brandishing size 13 knitting needles as I worked on the umpteenth incarnation of Willow’s scarf, which might be finished in time for her 23rd birthday, next year. I keep making it too wide and having to frog it back to the cast-on and try again.

[Swatches? We don’t need no stinkin’ swatches!]

Great visit. He drove me up to Richland Hills, even though it was out of his way, and he is emailing me a great shot of him with his son. I’ll put it up with the rogues’ gallery on my desk at work and let people talk. I would have one of Brother Sushi up there, too, but he has ninja stealth when it comes to dodging cameras.

So what did I eat on Tuesday night? The salmon plate, which is available in small and large. You know how you go to Starbucks for a hot cocoa or some other beverage, and a tall is a small? Well, at L&L Hawaiian BBQ, the small is somewhere between a medium and a large, and the large is at least two meals’ worth. My salmon was perfectly cooked: done all the way through but still juicy and tender and perfectly seasoned. My rice was suitably sticky, and the macaroni salad was every bit as good as I remembered.

Trainman is taking himself there this weekend and will report back to me next week. And we have tentatively set a day for our next breakfast at Chef Point Cafe. It will depend upon whether he has to buy new tires for his car, and how much wiggle room there is in my budget on payday after doing my impression of a responsible adult.

Drat! now I’m hungry. Time to rustle up some breakfast.