About Me

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

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Fiction was not the only thing I read yesterday.

Not only did I finish the Sharon Kay Penman novel, but I also read a whole raft of articles on Yahoo. How our brains work. Why we learn nouns first. And why things get stuck on the tip of my tongue.

I polished off the cookies, too.

Had the best conversation with a gentleman while Lorelai’s safety inspection was underway. I asked where he was from “because I know it’s not East Texas.” He was from Syria! He commented on my knitting; his sisters knit, not socks but sweaters. He asked the English word for what I was doing, then confessed that he didn’t know the Arabic word for knitting, and I chided him for not bringing a sister with him.

And then we talked about food: samosas, baklava, baba ganoush (which neither of us particularly likes), our respective mishaps with curry powder, hummus. Because everybody eats, and if we are truly blessed, we get to eat more than just a small handful of rice every day; we get to try the comfort foods of many other cultures. Since the Tower of Babel, we speak so many different languages, and language is how we transmit culture (or so I was taught when I studied ASL and learned a little bit about deaf culture). But food? Food builds bridges, one bite at a time.

There was a modicum of knitting, maybe two or three rounds on the sock, but that’s all.

I bought cork grease for the recorder ~ which I think needs a name; if BB King can name his guitar Lucille, and a local bass player I know can name his Fiona, then I can certainly come up with something for this lovely, simple woodwind ~ and I had another lively conversation with the young woman behind the counter at the music store.

It was a good day. The baptism was wonderful, as most baptisms are, and Bishop had approved our changes to the visiting teaching lists, so I stayed after and entered the changes into the system, to be effective tomorrow.

Hrmm, I should probably notify my VT coordinator that what she finds in the system when she logs in to report the visits, is not what she will be expecting, because we have changed a lot of things up, and we are not done.

(I am here to comfort the afflicted, and afflict the comfortable; sadly, my VT coordinator will get caught in the crosshairs...)

The most interesting news to report [at least for me] is that my lungs seem to have stopped grumbling. I will have a better sense of that when I see how many of my meetings I can get through today, and if I am able to stay through Relief Society. I very much want to.

The thought that floated up as I realized I had probably gotten all the sleep I am going to get for now, is that my lungs are where I process not only air, but trouble. There is a strong connection between asthma and one’s emotional state. My parents smoked for 40+ years, and I grew up wreathed in second-hand smoke. And so, when I get sick, it is likely to be my pipes, which means that I have to deal with it. Not simply with the physically-getting-better, but also the emotional aspect.

And behold, it came to pass that we have my meetinghouse flooding because of a burst pipe, plus my exquisite sensitivity to mold, plus a major red flag going up in the romance department, plus an ongoing foot condition (which may or may not be metaphorical as well), all arriving at the same four-way stop simultaneously.

And the hidden blessing to this, is that unlike gastrointestinal responses, which are acute and frequently messy, respiratory responses force me to slow down and ponder and synthesize. When I am living from cough to cough, and from breath to breath, I only have the energy to deal with things which are truly important. This cannot be a bad thing.

I managed to avoid asthma [just barely]. I managed to avoid bronchitis [ditto]. I managed to avoid depression [amen!] And something seems to have happened yesterday, some indefinable key that was turned, and I cannot say how or when, but I feel that I am finally getting well again.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

My friend Kristen posted this.

It seems only appropriate to share, after my muttering and musing yesterday.

I spent a quiet evening at home, reading on the couch while the fireplace cycled on and off. I must say, a good book is far easier on the nerves than a preoccupied man.

One of the exceedingly minor characters, a young harlot who is wise as well as worldly, remarks to one of the major characters that the young man who has been her protector and is leaving to fulfill his destiny, is a man who truly likes women. The man to whom she is speaking remarks that he thought all men liked women. She tells him that all men like to lay with women (that may have been the case in the twelfth century; it is less certain now, even for men who are not attracted to other men), but that precious few of them, at least in her experience, truly like women.

Which led me to think about various men of my acquaintance. Some of them seem happiest in the company of their female friends. Others are wary of entanglement, profess themselves unable to understand us, and nevertheless treat us with impeccable and unvarying respect [and if they encounter women who inspire not respect, but fear and loathing, simply avoid those women as much as decently possible]. Still others are attracted to us but, I suspect, rather wish they were not.

When I woke this morning, I tried to put my guys into various buckets and gave it up as a lost cause, because I think there are at least three continuums (continua?) playing into it: desire and its absence, like and dislike, self-discipline and license. It’s not like Mendel and the beans and the four-space grid. It’s more like a logic puzzle that occupies three dimensions and is quite possibly printed on the face of a Rubik’s Cube.

A coworker asked, “Are you still dating Santa?”
“No, we’re just friends.”
“Are you sad?”
“Not anymore.”

And it’s cool, because I’m not. The time may come when I can sit down to dinner with him and wish neither to kiss him, nor to pinch his head off. I pray for him and his tribe, not in an “oh please, may I have him when I grow up” way, but because he is my friend, and I want him to be happy.

But I think that GreyhoundWoman was right, when she said he makes a better friend than a husband. I have heard her side of things for the much of the last 15 years, and it is both good and enlightening to hear his side of things. And at the moment, I want to pinch both their heads off, for entirely different reasons. [You can love people, and (mostly) like them, and still want to pinch their heads off; anyone who does not understand this, has never been a teenager. Or the parent of one.]

Today’s agenda? Restock the fridge and pantry, get Lorelai safety inspected, attend the convert baptism this afternoon, start the ribbing on sock #2, pay a few bills, finish the book I borrowed from BestFriend, enter changes into the computer at church for VT routes, putter a little around the house, practice on the recorder, and nap as much as possible.

Friday, February 26, 2010

This resonates so deeply and sweetly with me.

I read it in a quiet moment at work, and it moved me to tears. I have been struggling with my health, in small ways, for several years. The ankle that mysteriously waxes and wanes. The ache in my right knee and up my thigh when I drive too many miles in one day, a souvenir of that last trip to see Dad before he died (five thousand miles in five weeks with five kids in a Toyota hatchback). The persistent fungus which has been a thorn in my foot for much of the past two years. The current breathing issues. The leg broken while line dancing, the long rehabilitation afterward, and the discovery that a middle-aged woman with a cane is perceived as a crone, or else invisible to all but the saintliest of men (and to her friends and family, who already love her and/or are pretty well stuck with her).

It is crazy-making to be a Relief Society president who is allergic to her meetinghouse and cannot sit through the (extra) leadership meetings before church and the regular allotment of meetings that every Molly Mormon sits through, or preside over a Relief Society meeting. It is frustrating to feel frail, and weary, and sometimes nearly useless.

It is also frustrating to keep striking out in the romance department. I miss the excitement of dating NintendoMan. I miss simple human touch. I am a high-touch individual in low-touch circumstances, and I am (momentarily, at least) sick and tired of it. Which, I suspect, may be part of what is making me both sick, and tired.

And yet I know all these things, the little niggling irritations in my life as well as the greater disappointments, are all serving to purify and refine me, and are meant for my good. It is just difficult, much of the time, to immediately recognize the blessings which are present in the absence.

Here is some good news. Look at the sidebar on the Yarn Harlot’s blog. Specifically, look at the total donations that knitters have made to Doctors without Borders! What a way to represent!

Got a weird text message yesterday, from an unfamiliar number, “What are you doing?”
“Who is this?”
“Why are you telling Maria that I shoot up?”
“You have the wrong number.”

I went to the temple after work and brought that heavenly peace home with me. Picked up a hot chocolate on the way home. Sent a clarifying email to a certain man, who had sent me some [squeaky-clean] e-fluff via Facebook, declaring myself a fluff-free zone. Call me cranky, but I don’t want e-hugs if I’m not getting real ones. Substantive discussions, yes, or how-was-your-day emails, the kinds of things that friends do, or at least that I do with other friends. But none of this fluffy-stuff; he does not get to have it both ways. I’m respecting his boundaries, and I need for him to respect mine.

My name is Mammy Yokum, and I has spoken!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Making a virtue of necessity.

Overslept. Too busy coughing last night to remember to set the alarm, so I woke at 6:24. World’s fastest shower (but hey, I smell good, and that’s what counts!) Lunch is packed. Skirt and stockings and dressiest clogs are packed. Driving in. Going to the temple tonight after work. Anybody want to join me at the quietest place in town? Will probably hang out in what I lovingly call the court of the women and then come home to eat, as I do not want to dip into savings, nor do I want somebody else to spring for dinner.

Great day at work yesterday: plowed through all the dictation (both lawyers), though three items are sitting as drafts in my pending folder to review before putting them in Attorney A’s sign this folder.

[I have not visited those hoarding sites, myself. I do not have the time, the energy, or the health to deal with anything they might dredge up. I’m just focusing on getting my foot well and my lungs back to full power.]

A good, productive presidency meeting last night.

Nearly done with the heel decreases on sock #2.

OK, y’all, I’m out the door. Be good, and remember who you are...

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


A difficult topic. I’ve had these links pasted into the draft for this post for six months now, waiting for the right time, or a good time, to share them.

I subscribe to Unclutterer through Bloglines. Several times a month, I get a tip or a flash of inspiration to help me manage the minutiae of my life. I have many interests, and I rotate through them, and I come back to old ones (witness: I am now noodling around on the recorder, after a lapse of 25 years, and the purchase of a new-to-me one on eBay two or three years ago; it was during LittleBit’s senior year). So for me, it makes no sense to get rid of things related to old hobbies, because I am quite likely to live to be 100, and there will be another quilting jag, another scrapbooking season, etc.)

The trick, for me, is to keep it organized and to keep it under control. So that when I do graduate to the Great Yarn Shop in the Sky, my kids can go: OK, all the quilting stuff to the local quilters’ guild; all the knitting stuff to her Knit Night friends; let’s divide up all the cookbooks; doll stuff goes to the younger sibs; and it will be easy for them to sort and bestow.

Because when their father went into the nursing home, it was an ordeal for them to clean out his apartment. To say more, would be disrespectful.

There is, apparently, a show about hoarders and hoarding. I don’t have cable, so I’ve never seen it, and I probably couldn’t watch it if I did. There was a link to it last August on Unclutterer. The comments are particularly interesting.

And there were links to organizations which educate about hoarding. The OC Foundation. Squalor Survivors. Children of Hoarders. I don’t know if those links are still good, but they might aim you in the right direction if you, or somebody you love, is a hoarder.

And now, if you will all kindly excuse me, I am going to wash some dishes and pitch out the latest batch of junk mail.

[Knitting postscript: I finished the gusset increases on the second sock at Knit Night last night and have begun the decreases. And there was a young man sitting next to us who wants to learn how to knit. One of my friends handed him a spare ball of yarn and told him where to go to buy needles. I quipped that it’s like the bad stuff: the first one is free...]

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

No grapes (wrathful or otherwise) last night.

I went to work with just my black leather jacket, instead of my raincoat and its warm zip-out lining. By the time I got home, I was a little chilled, and coughing, and in no mind to go out again. [Yes, I will be wearing my real, grown-up coat today; there is snow in the forecast for tonight.]

So I opened a can of soup for dinner and enjoyed it thoroughly.

Much knitting progress yesterday. I am nearly done with the gusset increases on sock #2. Memo to self: put a few band-aids into the knitting kit, to cover the spot I keep poking when I push the stitches. I don’t know why I poke holes in my left fingertip and not my right. I push both needle tips each time I make a stitch. It only happens with 00 needles, or smaller.

Next project will be something with fatter yarn on fatter needles; I’ve put in four weeks, thus far, on these socks, and I’m about ready for size 4-6 needles and another lace cowl for my neck. That little cashmere one I whipped up is light and airy and deceptively warm: just enough to keep the ambient tension level in my trapezius muscles within acceptable levels. I still have some of my Christmas yarn money tucked away, and I think I will keep my eye peeled for more of that Jojoland cashmere. It is bliss to knit and even more heavenly to wear.

Not much going on, chez Ravelled. Still chewing my way through the Sharon Kay Penman tome. Great writing, good story, it’s just that there’s so much of it. And there are nearly as many characters as in the average Russian novel, and the minor ones keep switching sides. (At least I am not having to deal with patronymics!) I’m thankful that she put a family tree in the beginning of the book. We are talking a truly uncivil, civil war, and I’m ready to pinch people’s heads off or send them to their rooms until they can behave.

I’m on page 406. There are 340 pages to go. And I now know just enough about what was going on in England in the 1140’s to embarrass myself in conversation with an English History major. (Thankfully, I’m not aware that I know any.)

Time to fix myself a nice bowl of hot cereal and think about heading out the door.

Knit Night is almost entirely dependent upon the weather, though I am in no mood to drive; I may just come home, even if the roads are clear.

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Red Seedless Grapes of Wrath

Now on special at Central Market.

I will try to remember to swing by there after work tonight. Maybe if I put the flyer on the front passenger seat?

I wanted to share this essay with you. Because, as our traditional Christian cousins say, it convicted me. After Katrina, I was sitting in the office at the penultimate apartment, waiting to discuss something or other with management. In walked a raft of refugees from New Orleans, and my heart went out to them. They were being settled in our complex, at least temporarily, until they could go back home or rebuild their lives here in Texas. It was very easy to welcome them in all sincerity and to pray for their happiness.

Those of you who were reading the blog back in its infancy, will remember how quickly that all went sour. There were men who looked at LittleBit as if she were dessert. There were the middle-of-the-night percussion sessions on kitchen counters and walls, in the apartment above us. There were F-bombs dropping over the railings at 2:00am and flying in through my bedroom window. There was marijuana. It was Mardi Gras, 24/7.

We were not amused. [Although we did joke that we seemed to have acquired a riffraff magnet. We moved to Arlington in 1993, and every blessed complex we moved into, until the last one, went rapidly and spectacularly downhill. Gated complexes with security on-premises were sold to indifferent landlords. There was gang activity. Drug dealing. At least one drive-by shooting. Plumbing/sewage issues. Multiple calls to Code Enforcement, 9-1-1, et al.]

Now you know why I love this quiet little neighborhood in which I now live, where nobody tromps around overhead. It is not quite as ethnically diverse as other places I have lived, but neither is it white-bread-boring. There is a nice young family across the way, though most of my neighbors are my age or older. If you wave at people or nod as you drive past, they nod and wave right back, and they use all five fingers.

I would be perfectly happy with a family of Haitian refugees in the other half of the duplex, because my friend and landlord is a stickler for checking references, and she would have made sure that they had no criminal proclivities. I don’t care what color my neighbors are, what language they speak, etc., as long as they are willing to behave in a civilized fashion.

I need to remind myself (often) that my uncivilized brothers and sisters are no less children of God than I am, and that He loves them every bit as much as He loves me, and that it is incumbent upon me to find a way to love them, too.

To close on a completely random note, I am trying to incorporate more whole grains into my life. Have been fairly successful with picking up tasty breads at the Mrs. Bairds’ outlet but have yet to develop the patience to cook brown rice. I operated for too many years on the theory that if it took longer to fix it than it took to eat it, something was wrong. I did pick up a steamer bag of brown rice at the store on Saturday night, came home and nuked it and almost forgot about it. So I put it in the fridge overnight and had half of it for a late dinner last night, with a blob of jarred cheese sauce on it. Not bad. Needs tweaking. Actually, needs a better cheese sauce; I will not be making that particular mistake again, and it is taking me just this side of forever to use up the jar, because that sauce is so bleagh. Alfredo sauce would be better, but it would also defeat the purpose of eating a healthier grain.

I will figure something out.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Foodie Frenzy

This was breakfast on Friday: one of my friend’s warm-from-the-oven croissants, sliced open, with a Hershey’s Special Dark bar slid in sideways, and nuked for 15 seconds.

No pictures of the leftovers from Friday night’s dinner, or from yesterday’s breakfast at Chef Pointe Cafe, where I had a three-egg omelette with onions, red peppers, and pepperjack cheese, their signature hash browns (the exquisitely seasoned love child of french fries and potatoes O’Brien), and toast; toast being a relative word, because what they brought me was a slice of Texas Toast that had been browned slightly on each side and was adequately buttered but inadequately dark and crunchy.

There was a comment on my friend Kristen’s blog in response to her excerpt from this article. I am appropriating the comment, because it made me chortle: “Always read stuff that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it...” Which leads me to an interesting exchange at the doll meet yesterday.

I got to meet another LDS doll collector and his wife. Fourthborn is an assistant manager in a department of the business office for a large comic-book shop. If she doesn’t read or collect a particular series, she is at least somewhat-to-very familiar with it. The good brother and I were discussing costumes, and he made a reference to the costume of some character in a book [not sure if it’s a comic book or a manga series], which Fourthborn caught, and I gave him a smile and a shrug and apologized: “I’m sorry. I read Jane Austin. I’m boring like that.”

Fourthborn was only too happy to notarize my statement, and we all had a good laugh. Manga is not without its charms, and I am a highly visual person, and I’ve read a few graphic novels that did not put me to sleep as quickly as a CPCU textbook. It is nevertheless a fact that I am in love with words (you may have noticed), and I like my books to have lots of shiny clean words in them, strung together in orderly and witty fashion. Ergo, I love Jane Austen.

And when I die, I will probably be found on the couch, glasses askew atop my head or perched precariously on the back of the couch, a well-thumbed copy of The Book of Mormon or Pride and Prejudice having fallen jelly-side-down onto The Girls, or the couch. And one of the angels will shake his/her head sadly and say, “Oh man, she was just getting to the point where Mr. Darcy woke up and smelled the Postum!”

I have new socks. [I know, more exciting news.] Five pairs of new socks to be exact, because I think part of the problem with this recurring athlete’s foot is that some of my socks do not get entirely disinfected in the wash. I have been throwing away a sock here, and a sock there, when my foot seems worse at the end of the day. I think the culprits are the handful of nylon socks I bought when my favorite colorful all-cotton socks were no longer carried at Wally World. These new ones are 73% cotton; I wish they were 100% cotton, but I do not know a source for cotton socks that come in crazy colors and cost $1.00 a pair.

Needless to say, my obscenely expensive hand-knit socks are coming nowhere near my bad foot until my feet are healthy again. Because that would just make me cry. (I try them on as I go, on the good foot, which is a little bigger than the sick one, which is nowhere near as sick as it has been, woohoo!)

In other shopping news, I picked up 10 cans of tomato soup and another 10 cans of more imaginative soup and ten cans of tuna, using my reward card at one of the large chains; $39.70 worth of food, for $20.00. I put the difference into my gas tank. Lorelai is happy with me.

I also brought home some carrot sticks and nice fat apples and two new varieties of steamer veggies to try, and raspberry sorbet and dulce de leche ice cream. Because all whole grains and no cream makes Ms. Ravelled one cranky chica!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

I got the music in me.

[My favorite Kiki Dee song.] And, I do. There are probably a bajillion people on this lovely planet who sing better than I do, but I wonder how many of them enjoy it as much as I do.

Brother Sushi and I had another great dinner last night. Wide-ranging discussions on everything from George Washington’s teeth to the parable of the talents to the application of that parable in our respective lives.

He asks me questions about my life that I don’t think to ask, because I’m, well, too busy living it. But every time I ponder one of those questions, I come out the better for it. I gave him an opinion on something that’s going on in the borders of his life that was not what he wanted to hear, but I think we both think there was a good chunk of truth to it.

I came home, put the containers of leftover snapper and leftover molten chocolate brownie into the fridge, then went into my studio and hauled out a dusty soprano recorder. [I need more cork slick. Middle C is sticky and wants to jump an octave on me.] But I can now play a recognizable version of “Nearer, My God, to Thee”, by ear. It’s not pretty and smooth and flowing, but it’s mostly non-squeaky. I think for 15 minutes’ work, that’s an acceptable result.

I wonder if the recorder will do for my lungs what LittleBit’s trumpet did for hers?

Woke up this morning to find that my tax refund had posted overnight, a week ahead of when the bandits at TurboTax told me was likely. Which means that I don’t have to figure out how to do breakfast out with BestFriend this morning and lunch out with Fourthborn this afternoon, without hitting my savings account. In fact, I will probably put some of said refund into my savings account.

One of the Old Testament prophets, Malachi, proclaimed some of the blessings which come from paying tithing. [Malachi 3:8-12] Those blessings are not always, or only, financial. And the financial blessings are probably not the most important ones. But it is always ~ to me, at least ~ such a relief when the first and most obvious ones, are.

Yesterday was a really good, and really productive, day at work. I left with a clean desk and a clear idea of what to do when I get back on Monday.

Today is for friends and family and for puttering around the house. I have already clicked on the pink button at the breast cancer site. Time to wash up a few dishes then hop in the shower.

Today’s forecast: cloudy with a chance of shopping. I am going to run by Avenue on my way to Fourthborn’s and see if they have any shirts I like, at a price that I like. And I might even head over to Coldwater Creek and make notes on new things to buy once they hit the outlet at 70-80% off. I bought my last new shirt shortly before NintendoMan popped up in my life again (and promptly, and permanently, stained it). Maybe today I will figure out a non-cheesy embellishment that will render it wearable outside the house. Otherwise, it gets divided up for doll clothing.

There is a dance tonight, but I’m not sure that my feet are ready to go boogie, quite yet. Am hoping to be able to barefoot-it at the conference in two weeks.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Just a quick update.

Yesterday went much better than Wednesday. We (the admin team, of which I am still a part) were supposed to have a meeting after lunch. Said meeting was canceled because our office manager had a conflict pop up. I spent the day typety-typing away, whittling down the stack of tapes in my inbox, and sending out signed documents from my attorney’s virtual outbox.

I rode home in a relatively quiet train car, knitting happily from the moment it pulled out of Union Station in Dallas until the penultimate stop before home.

I did a small, quick load of whites at the laundromat and treated myself to Bueno for dinner. I have been doing very well this week in terms of fast food. Sonic on Tuesday before Knit Night, and Bueno last night. A free chicken biscuit from Chick-Fil-A for breakfast on Monday or Tuesday. Less than $10.00 spent in drive-thru’s, and less than $5.00 at the deli in my office building. My fridge is emptying out, not in a scary “not enough to eat” way, but in a “nothing is going to waste” way.

I would like to be spending more at my friend’s deli, because she is an excellent cook, and I want to help her prosper. But for the moment, getting out of debt is the greater priority. Once that is accomplished, I can reinvest in her success. In the meantime, I am just going to have to content myself with praying for her.

The second sock is perking right along. I have about 20 rounds to go before the heel gusset increases begin. The train ride is a little over 10 rounds’ worth, so there is a good chance I’ll hit the mark today.

Dinner tonight with Brother Sushi, on his nickel. We haven’t discussed where. Breakfast tomorrow with BestFriend, lunch/doll meet with Fourthborn in the early afternoon, and a possible outbreak of dancing in the evening, depending on how happy my feet feel.

Wish me luck. I need to be out the door in ten minutes, fifteen tops.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Juggling Chainsaws or Twirling Flaming Batons

I spoke too soon. Yesterday was one from the Warm Place. And I do not mean Houston, Hereford, or Highland Park. We had a staff meeting that began at 9:30 and ended at 12:15, effectively doing to my workday what various debts and deductions do to my take-home. So, no break in the morning, and I worked through most of my lunch hour, stopping for about 20 minutes to step away from my desk and drink a pint of milk and inhale one of those ginormous double-chocolate muffins of which I am so fond. And then it was resume the position.

I got one good-sized report done for Attorney A, and most of a Motion and all of a middle-sized report [due yesterday] done for Attorney B. And since I had a truncated lunch, I took the remainder of it in the form of an early exit. Which was a relief, because at 3:30 I wasn’t sure that I would be able to get Attorney B’s report done in a timely manner, but I finished it at 4:28.

I caught the bus to the train station, caught the earlier train, where at the second stop a man got on who spent the next half hour ranting and cursing into his cell phone. Naturally, he sat behind me. He wasn’t very loud, but he was loud enough that I contemplated turning around and offering him a home acupuncture session via my 00 circular needles. Beginning with his tongue. I thought about all the things I would like to say to him, and then he got off the phone and noticed my knitting. He leaned forward and asked, “What are you knitting?”

“A sock.” And then I asked him, “May I ask you a question?”

“Certainly.” Or something equally genteel.

“If you take another call between here and your station, would you mind not using that kind of language again?”

“What language?”

“You were dropping F-bombs right and left.”

At which point he apologized most civilly and profusely, and we had a lovely visit for fifteen or twenty minutes until we pulled into his station, and five feet from the end of the car his phone rang and he fired up the bomb bay.

But maybe I planted a seed.

When I got to Lorelai, all I wanted was to hold as many of the Bitties as would let me. Secondborn had called me Tuesday night when I was sitting at Sonic with my as-yet-undiscounted dinner to invite me over for lasagna. Thankfully, there were leftovers last night, and the Bitties were amenable.

Once all of the short people were soundly asleep, we put in the first episode of the second season of Pushing Daisies. And then I ran by the pharmacy and picked up another round of the magic goop that is healing my feet, watered my plants in Fairyland, started the draft for this post, and went to bed as happy as I had been when I woke up.

Here’s your semi-random act of kindness for the day. My sister sent me this link in an email. It’s a quick way to provide free mammograms to women who can’t afford it. I checked it out on snopes.com, and it’s true. I am also going to put the link on my Facebook page.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Why you should stay in school.

Tuesday night is half-price burgers after 5:00pm at Sonic. Which means dinner for $1.25 plus tax, plus tip. Last night I sprung for the “sweetheart shake” as well, and skipped the fries. So dinner should have been $1.25 + 2.99 x 1.0825 + tip. And it wasn’t until I had nearly finished my burger that I realized I had been charged full price: $2.49 + 2.99 x 1.0825 + tip, or $6.59, and she kept the change without asking. Seven bucks for a better-than-OK burger and somewhat-mediocre shake.

I had planned on plunking the 41 cents into the Christmas jar, but I am not going to begrudge a hardworking carhop 41 cents. I did flag her down after she delivered somebody else’s order and point out that I had been overcharged.

Here are the recall tickets. Click to embiggen.

Here is my change. Anything strike you as odd?

Me, too; must be that new math. The coins are now composting in the Christmas jar.

Something really funny happened at work yesterday, but I can’t tell you about it, except that I made a distinctly non-PC comment about it to the office manager, who told the managing attorney. Who came, laughing, to me and said I had pretty much summed up the situation. [So I am not in trouble, even in this day of political correctness and sexual harassment and hostile work environments.]

I am thankful that our office is typically atypical in terms of what a law office is “supposed” to be like. For the most part, everybody gets along with everybody else. We have remarkably few tempests in our teapots; we back one another almost seamlessly, and the people at the top of the food chain are remarkably civil and thoughtful to those of us swimming in the minnow pool.

Work, this week, has been rather more exciting than I am used to. I have yet to reach the point where I feel as if I were juggling chainsaws or twirling flaming batons. I just chug along, spitting out reports and pleadings and cover letters, fielding the occasional phone call, and trying to keep the protein/carb balance optimal for the firing of all mental cylinders. Both nights I have gone home tired, but with that good kind of tiredness that comes from a successful, productive day.

And there has been sock progress. It’s a little early to tell, but I think I might wind up with two nearly-identical socks. I’m about an inch past the last of the toe increases.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

I want to go...

...bowling? I had so much fun Wii bowling with the wee people on Saturday night, that I am seriously thinking of taking up non-virtual bowling. I found a local league called The Lousy Bowlers, which sounds just about my speed. Two problems: they meet on Tuesday nights, and they start tonight. But it’s a twelve-week league, if I understand correctly, which suggests that sometime in mid-May they might start again. I think that could be fun; at that point I should have gotten my bonus.

The league meets at 9:00, which means that I could go to Knit Night for an hour and then scoot on home to Cowtown and rent some funny shoes. Something to think about, anyway.

I do this to keep all y’all off balance.

So, there was an email over the weekend. Somebody needed an end table and a coffee table. It just so happens that I’ve had a spare end table knocking around since I moved into the duplex. It’s rather like the love child of a Parsons table and a Klimt painting. Curvy blond wooden legs with a definite Art Deco twist, and a beveled glass top. I have used it, off and on, as a light table, because if I take the harp off my favorite lamp, it just fits under there. That’s how I marked the front of my Christmas shirt with the Saint Nicholas redwork: a superfine Prismacolor pen in permanent red, and then miles and miles and miles of outline stitching in DMC 321.

Anyhoo, she needed a table, and this one was taking up space, and she’s in my ward, so I called her from work yesterday and asked if she still needed it, and I took it over there after dinner but before hitting the grocery store. She was delighted. I have another square yard, more or less, of visible floor space. Everybody wins.

Got some good bargains, too. I almost bought a can (tuna-fish-sized) of ham at $1.23 or $1.35 or somesuch, which would have been sufficient for one meal. And then I remembered that I can get that nice sliced ham for between $6.00 and $8.00, and it will last me for two to three weeks, taste better, and be better for me. So I did, and I found a chunk that was $6.53. It is now shivering in the fridge.

I also scored another $.14 for the Christmas jar. I bought a hot chocolate refill at RaceTrac on my way in to work, for $.86. I don’t spend a lot of actual cash, so it may take awhile to accumulate enough change to fill the jar. At the moment I don’t even have enough in there to cover the bottom of the jar completely, but maybe by the end of the month?

Another good night’s sleep. More of those gentle stretches after I dosed my foot, which is looking better and feeling better every day. Regular application of Nystatin ointment is doing what intermittent application of Nystatin powder could not. My toes are happily declaring that there is less fungus, amongus.

More progress on the second sock, as well. I have completed the toe increases and am going round and round on the foot, ambling up toward the heel gusset.

Lots of compliments on my new haircut yesterday. Any guy who tried to run his hands through it, or play with it, would not find much to work with. I don’t know why it is, but I do tend to grow it out (at least a little) when there is a guy in the picture, and when there is not, SNIP! there it goes. I suppose it’s my own variation on the theme of “gonna wash that man right outta my hair and send him on his waaaaayyyyy”.

Hoping for another productive day at work. Yesterday was pretty amazing, by the grace of Heaven.

So, knitting tonight, but no bowling. Ask me again in twelve weeks.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Ms. Ravelled in BreathingLand

Progress, marked progress in the epic battle of Meetinghouse v. Lungs. I walked into the chapel just before my 9:30 meeting and left right after sacrament meeting, having delegated (again) to my able counselors. I did not have the horrible honking and hacking that Ive been experiencing, just some tightness and heaviness in my chest. So I came home and ate leftovers and took a nap.

I think that the building is healing. I know that I am. And in my case, I think that choir practice helped. Whether it was the exercise aspect or the endorphins that come with singing, I felt better after choir practice than I did when I first sat down in the choir loft. I think this might be like unto my dear, asthmatic LittleBit strengthening her lungs through [sigh...] playing the trumpet. I hope my warblings were easier on the ear than her first tentative tootles.

Facebook continues to amaze and amuse me. I wonder what triggers the ads in the right-hand column. I saw a catalogue offering the very best pagan shopping experience to Witches around the world. Now, I have had good friends in the past who were pagan, and maybe some of you, my faithful readers, are pagan. And one of my favorite Eagles songs was Witchy Woman, but that’s about as close as it gets, chez Ravelled. Unless there is something about my attitude that y’all are not telling me?

I had so much fun at correlation meeting yesterday morning. The missionary elders were reporting on their teaching for last week, and they noted that one of the individuals had hydrophobia. I raised one eyebrow and asked, “Elder, are you saying that this person is rabid?” Hilarity ensued.

The elder hastened to assure us that the investigator was afraid of water, thus afraid of getting baptized by immersion, which is how we do it in our church. S/he has my sympathy, and my empathy, as I developed aquaphobia in 1988, while swimming laps at the natatorium at North Lake College. I’m fine in the shower. I’m sane in a waterbed. It doesn’t kick in until I can no longer touch bottom with my toes. (Which is one reason I have hesitated to take a singles’ cruise; that, and the idea of being trapped on board a ship with a bunch of lunatic middle-aged men, but I digress.)

“Glad to know that you are not suggesting your investigator should be shot in the street.” I may be a little too fond of Atticus Finch.

This from one of the priesthood brethren, “Well, if they did, we could baptize him/her by proxy in the temple, and that would take care of the whole fear-of-water issue.”

Yeah, it would.

We had a far more serious and helpful discussion about how to deal with the fear-of-water issue in the meeting which followed.

I am still eating up Things That Thawed. I couldn’t make myself throw away that whole bag of sweet potato fries, so I baked 3/4 of the bag last night and had them as most of my dinner, with no apparent repercussions. Preceded by a veggies-for-one container with peas and broccoli in garlic sauce, and followed with half a dozen of the meatballs that I love. [And a generous serving of applesauce which, after reading the label and finding corn syrup listed, will no longer come home with that brand’s label on the jar. I bought it at a time when pennies were really, really tight, and I was more concerned with cash flow than nutrition.]

That nap I mentioned? Almost six hours’ worth, which meant that dinner took place at 11:00pm with plenty of time to digest it before heading back to the sack. And also meant that I was a bit peckish at 2:00am; what better reason to cook up a pot of chocolate pudding?

Y’all know that I read, and enjoy, and learn from Unclutterer. Here is some good advice that is not immediately useful to me, as I am paying off my line of credit while making the final year of payments on Lorelai. But something to keep in mind for the future: What works for Erin is 50% of take-home to the checking account; 40% to the emergency fund; 10% to long-term savings. Right now I live on about 45% of my gross income. Trying to live on half of that, would have me sleeping under a bridge. I don’t do camping.

But it’s certainly something to work toward. I think it presumes a two-income home, unless the wage earner is in a far higher tax bracket than my own. (I remember when I had worked for the company for awhile, and $25,000.00 was on the horizon, and I was ecstatic! I even briefly contemplated buying a new Mustang to celebrate, except for the fact that I still had three children to schlep around and insufficient income to maintain a muscle car. I am doing considerably better now, LOL, and if I get the raise/promotion I may very well approach what for me is another financial milestone but would probably be ho-hum for most of y’all. If so, I might splurge on a skein of cashmere laceweight and make myself another cowl.)

I also think it presumes that one does not pay tithing, fast offerings, etc. Those are consecrations that make no sense to the worldly mind. Erin herself stresses that her allocations would not work for everyone, but they bring her financial peace. She also offers other useful links. [I just have to giggle at her comment, “When you have saved half a million in emergency savings (and I’m no where close to this amount yet), you may wish to consider adjusting these percentages.”]

Maybe if I live to be Methuselah’s age?

Hrm, I wonder how many pairs of socks I could knit, if I lived to be 969 years old? (Genesis 5:27). I cast on the toe for the second sock while waiting for sacrament meeting to begin. So far, it’s not arguing with me.

Smart sock.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine’s Day

Happy Singles’ Awareness Day, if that is your preference.

I had a great day yesterday. Started out a little cloudy with a chance of showers (emotionally) but just got better and better as the day went on.

Tackled Mt. Washmore at Firstborn’s house. Got my hair cut. Got my nails done; managed to mangle the manicure before I was a block from Nail Dude’s, but I will put stickers on my nails and declare them festive.

Got lots of hugs and lovin’ from the Bitties. Watched most of The Incredibles in fits and starts. Enjoyed hearing BittyBubba mangle the name (he’s two and a half): something like Incrappables. Ate chili and some of Firstborn’s delicious cornbread. Ate chocolate chip cookies, too.

Tanked Lorelai. Stopped at Braum’s and picked up a gallon of milk and half a gallon of orange juice. And a single dip of Rocky Road in a cone.

It is now 7:51, and I need to be at church for my PPI (personal priesthood interview, or one-on-one accounting of my stewardship to Bishop) in an hour and a half. Stayed up much too late (1:00-ish) reading The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance, which Firstborn had borrowed from BestFriend’s Middlest, and which I cannot in good conscience recommend because of the author’s language, but which nevertheless was probably exactly what I needed, given the plans I had made for a romantic if G-rated picnic after church today.

Got my hair cut really short yesterday, at the length I think of as “I’m not dating boys right now. Boys should just go away and leave me alone.” [Firstborn, bless her, asked if that meant that I was now dating girls. That would be a “no.”]

There is a singles’ conference in three weeks. I am signed up for it. I will go, and dance, and eat overly salty food, but I most devoutly hope that Brother Right, whoever he is, has other plans for that weekend. I am reasonably sure that I will be civil at that point; I am also reasonably sure that anybody who attempts to flirt with me will have his head handed back to him.

I missed the temple, week before last, because I was sick. I missed yesterday because I had to chew my way down the honey-do list. I should probably go three times this week. I need that peace. I need to be obedient. I need that peace.

I am wishing that I had gone to Wal-Mart after I brought the laundry and the milk and orange juice home. I will not go hungry today (yay! for food storage!), but I am going to be in church from 9:30 until 4:00 (assuming the building does not attack my lungs again), and nothing that I have is suitable for quick bites between meetings, and I only had one real meal yesterday.

So, I am tired, and I am hungry, and I am already set up for a good bout of the weepies. Could be an interesting day.

On the other hand, there were two surprising friend requests on Facebook this morning: one from a delightful woman in my old ward, and one from an old friend on the parenting board, another of my acquired brothers and a Good Jewish Boy into the bargain. (This is the friend who on a Friday had a consulting assignment in an office building in New York City, and the following Tuesday watched a plane fly into the spot where he had been sitting, four days previously. Truly, a mensch.)

I will be fine, once I shower and fluff my hair and eat some chocolate. (I am also tossing my box of Puffs into my bag, just in case.) I am going to channel 1 Nephi 4:6: “And I was led by the Spirit, not knowing beforehand the things which I should do.”

Have an Incrappable day, everybody! Love the one(s) you’re with.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

I love electricity!

Especially when it dutifully marches into my house and makes my stuff work. I took a nap yesterday afternoon with the CPAP going, and it was good. I paid bills, lots of bills if not all the bills, and registered my car and made a note to renew my driver’s license next month, a whole month early so I won’t have to stand in line. And I sent those bandits at TurboTax my $29.95 and filed my taxes, but I only gave them a “2” on my satisfaction rating, because their system is so inflexible and wouldn’t let me downgrade to free filing. Maybe next year I will be happily married and need the Deluxe model I’m stuck with on their website.

Maybe pigs will fly, but that’s another topic for another day.

I dithered all afternoon about whether I wanted to go to the dance my friends were hosting, over on the far side of BigD. My feet wanted to dance, and my spirit needed to dance, but I just did not want to fix my hair and put on a dress and go to the store to buy more pantyhose, so I texted Brother Sushi to tell him I wasn’t coming after all. He texted back to say that there were 12 people there.

I fried up all the defrosted potatoes O’Brien and my poor thawing salmon steak. I think the turbot is past hope. I am having to pitch one and a quarter packages of sweet potato fries, and that makes me sad. I will be putting a whole lot of mushy stuff into the compost pile, whenever I can walk back there without getting lost in a snowbank.

Had a much better night’s sleep, last night, than the one before. I think a few more naps will get me back into my game. I have a lot of stuff that needs to get done, today, all of it out of the house, and I am not all that inclined to get out of my jammies and do it. I have bags for “Scouting for Food”. Mount Washmore is looming. I need a manicure. I need a haircut. This is our morning to serve in the temple. I need milk and orange juice and eggs. There is a bag of frozen blueberries that needs to be turned into something. At this point, probably a small jar of jam.

[The bandits at TurboTax have informed me that the IRS accepted my return. I would have been a lot happier to hear this news, had their $29.95 fee not effectively predigested a third of my $91.00 refund.]

NintendoMan has been demoted, at least for now, to JustFriend status. There is much family drama, and he needs to focus on that. I am a patient woman; if at any time in the next year he is inclined to resume dating, the latch-string is still out. But in the meantime, I will not be sitting by the phone. My heart, and my dignity, are still intact; there is no need for any of you to offer to Sheriff-of-Nottingham-ize him (i.e., cut out his heart with a dull spoon). He has been both honest and kind, which is why he is not sitting on the curb with the imprint of my Danskos in his rump.

This may be the day that the first Noro sock gets finished. Or not. And I may cast on for the Knitting Olympics 2010. Or not. It is extremely likely that a good chunk of the day will spent on the couch with my book. And I need to figure breakfast out, because it’s 7:30, and my stomach thinks my throat’s been cut.

The street is looking good, out there. Time to take on the day!

Friday, February 12, 2010

1021 posts, 30,753 visits, 36,756 page views

Today will be 1022. I think that when I hit 1066, I should declare it William the Conqueror Day and go pillage something.

Speaking of him, I am reading a book about some of his descendants: Sharon Kay Penman’s When Christ and His Saints Slept. It’s been on my list for several months, and today I fetched it out of the stack in my studio and curled up on the couch to start reading it. Why am I lollygagging on the couch, you ask?

We got 12 inches of snow, that’s why. The office closed at 3:30. I got home around 5:00 to a warm house but no lights, food thawing in the fridge, and no internet!!! I got back in the car and made a quick run to Bueno for dinner, then came home and went to bed at 7:27, without the use of my CPAP.

Thankfully, there was hot water this morning, yay, so my skin and hair are clean. I had tried to go in to work, but the snow was over my ankles and jumped down into my shoes. So I took a day of vacation. Mid-morning, my home teacher magically appeared and shoveled a path from the porch to Lorelai. I sent most of the perishables home with him. He said he had seen a number of trees that had fallen on power lines, and several work crews out, restoring power.

The power has been back for an hour and a half now; my phone is charging, and I am checking emails.

I slept a lot last night. Or should I say, I spent a lot of time in my room, contemplating the light coming off all that snow and wishing there were enough of it for me to get up and knit, or read. I woke up several times: trips down the hall, or to get a drink, or just because. And it occurred to me, more than once, that if I were married, the evening might not have been quite so long and boring.

(Or possibly even more long and boring, if the spousal unit were determined to spend those hours in blissful unconsciousness. Which determination could render him permanently unconscious.)

Just got off the phone with Brother Sushi. My ward activity got canceled. The dance in Dallas is still on; Brother Sushi is DJ’ing. I really need to blow off some steam. They want us to dress up. This means that I need to go buy new pantyhose. This also means that I need to leave the house. And make a decision.

I think I will eat the last slice of (formerly) frozen pizza and curl up on the couch with my book, and think about it later.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Now it can be told…

Yesterday I started learning how to schedule an attorney’s docket. I am working with one of my favorite secretaries and will be scheduling depositions and mediations for half of a docket. I will be working with another secretary who is brilliant at following up. This, in combination with the work I am already doing for one attorney, and the transcriptions I’m still responsible for with a third, will roughly equal the present workload of a full-on legal secretary (1.5 dockets). I will do this for approximately 30 days, during which time they will also be interviewing outside candidates for the position.

But if all goes according to plan, I may very well be a legal secretary in a month or so. This has been a long time coming, and I could not have gotten this far without a lot of help from a lot of people. And I am thankful.

In family-drama news, I took an hour of PT yesterday and took LittleBit to bail out her car. Talk about grinding the faces of the poor! $338.40. And the young man who used to share the apartment with Fourthborn and Fiancé finally returned his parking tag. [My personal opinion is that he should reimburse LittleBit, but I think he is still unemployed, so oh well...] She and I had a good visit on the way over to the impound lot. She showed me the receipt for having paid the red-light-camera infraction, and I put $5 in Phineas’ tank so she could get home (they took all but $1.60 of her money).

I am in the wrong business.

Presidency meeting went well last night, except for the part where, toward the end of it, I started coughing again. First just a single dry cough. Then two-by-two, like the ark. And by the time I was home, cough cough hack hack gag gag, mostly from the frustration of it all. I hopped right into the shower and let the water pound on me until I’d used up all of the hot water. And I am almost-fine again this morning.

Discussed this via email with NintendoMan, who suggested conventional remedies, one of which gives me blood clots in my legs, and the other of which might work, or it might make me hallucinate like Robitussin does. But at least it got me thinking, and I think I will run by the Chinese herbal shop on Saturday for some ba nguyen, which I used to take for my allergy to ragweed. Chinese herbs work on a different principle than Western medicine, and for my body, they work. [Or at least ba nguyen does.]

Breakfast this morning has been pigs in blankets, potatoes O’Brien, and two eggs over easy-ish. Dinner last night was a ham-and-cheese quesadilla on the way to presidency meeting, with a plain cheese quesadilla after I got out of the shower. Since I had a shower last night, no need for another one this morning, so all I have to do is fluff my hair and spray it into submission, then figure out what I want to wear. For lunch yesterday I fixed ramen noodles, nuked a bag of Asian vegetables (how do they know they were Asian? vegetables have passports?), and ate half of both with half a dozen of the meatballs I love so well. Today I am taking more meatballs, so all I have to do is warm everything up. And tonight I will probably eat the last of the fiery soup I made last week.

I have been economizing like crazy since last payday, but I don’t feel strained or skint. Especially now that I can breathe. I have had plenty of good food, with good variety, and I feel nourished. As well as very, very prudent and provident.

The sock is ready to be bound off. It was arguing with me yesterday, so I put it in time-out.

In doll news, Fourthborn (who mistakenly ordered a pair of hoochie-mama panties for Blessing) ordered the dolly equivalent of granny-panties for her, and yesterday we exchanged hostages, as it were. I need to walk over to the dresser with the new ones and un-commando her. She looks distinctly unhappy with me, and Celeste is smirking. Blessing is my Marian the Librarian doll; Celeste is right there on the edge of mischief, and if she could talk, I think she would tell me that she’s going to get a tattoo one day while I’m at work. That girl has tramp-stamp written all over her. Faith, bless her, is just a little kid who wants to figure out how to stand on her hooves so she can play hopscotch.

And me? I knew yesterday was likely to be “interesting”, like the Chinese curse, so I wore my purple cashmere cowl over my black T-shirt and under my black leather jacket. And I felt warm, and loved, all day.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

What is it about the smell of toast?

It just smells like home, and love, and comfort. I should probably toast up every piece of bread in the house, because yesterday was a beast.

Item the First
Issues with TurboTax. I have been more than a little frustrated that I was unable to “gear down” to a lower-level tax program while online doing my taxes this year, when I have one W-2 and two dabs of interest income. So I called their support center while at work yesterday and learned that I cannot “gear down” using the ID and password which I have used for the past 10 years. (I can, needless to say, “gear up”.) And that if I set up a new user ID and password, I cannot import the information from prior years’ returns.

We are not amused. Particularly when we get home and find this confirmation email waiting in our inbox:

“These are the actions we took to assist you in resolving your issue: We resolved your issue by leting [sic] you know there is know [sic] way to downgrade. Thank you for calling TurboTax. Best Regards, [Illiterate TurboTax Dude]”

Item the Second
Shortly after which, my day only got better. A series of text messages from Fourthborn’s Fiancé regarding LittleBit’s car, which she has been working on diligently, if belatedly, so as to transfer the title into her own name. The manager at their apartment complex had Phineas towed, because LittleBit did not have a parking sticker. (She has only been parking there how many months?) And I, as the legal owner, am apparently the only person who can retrieve the car from the impound lot.

I ran it past Trainman, whose child is 7 and too young to be getting himself in fixes like this. I called NintendoMan, who (like me) is a tough-love kind of parent but also has a soft spot for my kids. I wanted to pick his brain; he had a gig last night, so as of this posting, no news I can use. I am aiming for Mama Bear: not too hard, not too soft, just right. [Yes, I know that’s not how the fairy tale goes. That’s because Goldy and Baby Bear are telling the tale.]

And when I went to bed, I had come to no conclusion. Other than the obvious one: I do not have sufficient cash in any of my accounts to bail out her car, nor will I have when I get paid on Friday. That money is already allocated down to the last brass farthing.

I found myself laughing heartily at myself when it was 8:56 and I was wishing away the next hour, so I could doctor my foot and go to bed. You know you are getting older when the high point of your evening is a bare foot, antifungal ointment, and a sock to keep it all from ruining your sheets, your quilts, and your duvet cover.

I bought a half gallon of whole milk on the way home from work last night, and I carefully mixed it with the s-p-a-m that was chilling in the fridge, thus rendering it, on average, drinkable. I kept checking the fridge to see if any chocolate chip cookies had spontaneously generated, but was consistently disappointed.

I don’t know what the equivalent moment is for a guy, but frequently the best moment of the day is when the bra goes onto the bedroom doorknob, I roll into bed, pull the covers up to my ears, and fire up the CPAP. Last night was one of those nights.

The night before, my foot was crazy-itchy after I slathered it, so much so that I couldn’t wind down to go to sleep. So I spent fifteen or twenty minutes gently stretching and twisting, opening up my collarbone, elongating my ribs, rotating my shoulders, reaching reaching reaching with my arms, all at a pace that makes tai chi look manic. My goal was to tweak my range of motion without raising my pulse or disturbing the careful layering of quilts, duvet, etc. I think it was successful: the next thing I knew, the alarm was going off. Did the same thing last night; worked like a champ.

A real workout at the real gym is in the budget for this payday (and, therefore, the coming month), unless I get another utility bill between now and Friday morning, or the wonderful introductory offer has expired. Oh, how I wish I were sitting on the recumbent bike this morning...

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Sometimes I forget to worry.

This is a good thing; it means that I am being obedient to specific counsel which I received 35 years ago, to “put aside worry”, or in other words to have faith. Because you/I/one cannot have fear and faith at the same time.

It wasn’t until Monday morning when I was relieving at switchboard, that I realized:

“big storms on the East Coast” + “Middlest on the East Coast” could = “Middlest in big storms on the East Coast”. So I texted her:

“You guys OK out there?”
“Yeah, most of the weather is further north. Up by DC.”
“Yes, we’re very relieved. The weather is crazy this winter!”

There are only some things that I do at my desk, that I can do while I am relieving switchboard. So I spent rather more time online yesterday than is my [recent] wont. This is a link to a widget you can put on your blog so that folks so inclined may contribute directly to the Church’s humanitarian relief efforts in Haiti. I will update this blog with said widget later, possibly tonight, as I think I will be abstaining from Knit Night yet again to continue/finish the convalescence.

This fits in nicely with last week’s post about the meaning of opposition in life. Anne Perry is my other favorite living LDS (fiction) writer.

Yet another link. I sent it to NintendoMan this morning via Facebook, because I think it confirms what he does (or tries to do) as a father. So, for all you great dads out there, consider this an early Father’s Day present.

For your amusement: Churchboy Dating Service sent me another possible match. He loves to camp, fish, hike, and he’s local. Two out of four is good, but not good enough. I wonder whom they will suggest next? It’s been awhile since they offered up Brother Sushi’s profile on a platter.

Speaking of sushi, I had a few bites of it at dinner with Trainman last night. Salmon with chili oil and cilantro oil. Yay, tastebuds!

We have a sister in our ward who needed a little TLC. My counselors asked for and got volunteers to take in a few meals this week. I emailed the bishop to let him know. He responded that the brethren were going to take care of a few things in her yard on Saturday, including gathering nuts. I wrote back, “sisters = dinner; brothers = nuts (yes, I am convalescing nicely, and my warped sense of humor is limping back)”.

OK, I’m done. Be careful out there.

Monday, February 08, 2010

All the news that’s fit to blog

Chatted briefly with NintendoMan before I went and bent the Sabbath over at Secondborn’s yesterday morning. I needed to wash out a few things and have been too sick/tired/sick-and-tired to do so at the laundromat. So I did a quick load while the kids were at church, on the chance that this respiratory yuck is contagious. [My nurse friend says clear = allergies, but I am taking no chances around my Bitties.]

He is still getting over his cold, the one he got when he went up to Utah for his son’s wedding, but was feeling much better.

And I had every intention of going to church after my Sabbath-bending, but I spent almost every minute at the kids’ house honking and sneezing. So I texted Bishop and called my counselors and put everything into somebody else’s capable hands.

And I went back to bed, setting the alarm (I thought) for 2:00 so I could doctor my foot ~

(it just occurs to me that I have a flourishing case of hoof and nose disease!)

~ but forgot to push the button, so I slept until 3:28. And then it was a matter of staying awake until 10:00 so I could doctor my foot again.

NintendoMan sent me a cause link on Facebook. I played the video all the way through so my vote would count, but since my speakers are wonky, I caught maybe one word in 20. I am officially viewer #98,460, or maybe it was 98,640. I’ve slept since then. So I googled the speech, and here it is in text format. Definitely worth your time.

The first sock is sneaking up on completion. I have shifted from brainless stockinette to 2x2 ribbing and am fixin’ to move up one needle size for the big gallop to the finish line. Sometime this week I should finish the sock and get the second one on the needles. Right now I am knitting fuchsia/magenta and loving it! I think Noro-San has outdone himself with this colorway (255A).

After a week of too-much-time-online, I am pretty well tired of Mahjongg at the AARP website, although it is a reasonably efficient way to use up time in five minute increments. I also read last April’s issue of Real Simple. And the current issue of Bon Appetit. And the new Patternworks yarn catalogue, which I enjoyed and then dropped into the recycling bag, so as not to tempt me beyond my ability to resist. Thanks to the generosity of my children, I have enough new yarn to keep me in projects/entertainment for most if not all of the year; we will not discuss my stash.

This just in from REM Central: I do believe I slept all night without any argument from various body parts! That would be almost seven hours of uninterrupted sleep, not counting yesterday’s nap. I think we need to call the Guinness people.

And to close on a whimsical note: part of having a year’s supply of food that will sustain life (or working toward having one) is the necessity to rotate the contents of same. So yesterday, in that spirit [and also because I didn’t make it to the store to buy more milk on Saturday] I mixed up half a gallon of instant milk, which is what we (mostly) raised the girls on, before and after we had the goats, until I became pregnant with LittleBit and the skin on my elbows started cracking because I wasn’t getting enough fat in my diet.

I just washed down three leftover pigs in blankets with a couple thimblefuls of that stuff. Fourthborn’s Fiancé calls it S-P-A-M: Something Passing As Milk. Now, I am the queen of 2% and 1% and all the better for it. But oye, ladies, I now officially apologize to you for laughing because you prefer whole milk. I want to take Firstborn’s hot tub and fill it with Irish cream [not the Bailey’s sort; the kind that comes from cows] and roll around in it.


I think you may take it as a given that there will be lots and lots of baking chez Ravelled this week, because I will not simply pour it out into the compost pile.

Bleagh! And did I mention, bleagh!

Sunday, February 07, 2010

The second nectarine tasted better.

I had the first one a few days ago, so I don’t know if this one tasted better because it is a better nectarine, or because my head is clearer. I remember that when I bought them, I could smell them a good way off in the produce aisle.

I like peaches, but not the fuzz, nor the work it takes to get the fuzz off. I really miss my mother’s canned peaches. Maybe this summer I will get a bushel of Parker County peaches and put up a few quarts of my own. (I would not hold my breath over this.) I think the next time I go to the grocery store, I will pick up a few tins of peaches to put in my pantry. A peach half with a dollop of ricotta in the hollow and a little fresh nutmeg grated over it, is a nearly-perfect dessert in the summertime, with the caveat that if you are pregnant, you should not eat freshly-grated nutmeg.

[The chances of my being pregnant this summer (at 58) are right up there with my chances of winning the lottery, and for the same reason: I do not participate in the activities affecting those odds.]

I like apples, too, but not eaten out of hand. I just have this thing about apple cores turning brown, so I quarter my apples, cut out the seeds, and cut each quarter in half. If I am feeling decadent, I dip the slices in caramel sauce, but mostly I eat them au naturel. (The apples, not me.)

I am waiting for it to be 6:00am so I can start dosing my foot. Some of you are waiting for 5:25 tonight so you can start watching the game. Yes, I am [vaguely] aware that this is Super Bowl Sunday, but only because the wine bar down the street and around the corner is having a big party tonight; I know that because I passed their marquee several times this past week.

You know that I am the Anti-Sports. And here I am dating a guy who played football in high school. (And knowing him, was probably very good at it.) The irony of this cannot be lost on my girls, after all the years I warned them, “Do not date football players. Most of them have a sense of entitlement. They are trouble.”

I based that counsel on my own experience with the jocks, football and otherwise, who hung out around the trophy case at my high school and vocally “rated” the girls as we walked past. (No, I have not friended any of them on Facebook. I have forgiven them, but the scars have contributed to my shyness with men for the past 40 years.)

Thumper’s mama was right: “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” I wish people, especially teenagers, were nicer to each other.

But we were talking about my poor feet, or rather my poor foot, which is looking significantly less sad than it was. I will spare you the visual. I think it is still going to be weeks before it is fully healed, but I think we are limping in that direction. I will not be barefootin’ it at the ward sock hop on Friday, nor at the dance where Brother Sushi is DJ’ing, later that same evening (which saves my having to call him to ask, “Can we reschedule our monthly dinner for another evening, because my ward is having a party, and I really want to go?”)

Though we do need to figure out when we are getting together this month. I have so much stuff to discuss with him.

I am also waiting to go to church this morning. If I am no sicker when I come home today, then this respiratory yuck was just some random thing that was passing by and latched onto me. Or NintendoMan was right, and he gave me the cold that his grandkids gave him. If I get steadily worse, then it is the building, and we have a serious problem on our hands.

I have a friend in another ward who cannot attend church in her assigned congregation, because there is a creek that flows several feet down, under the building, and there is mold and/or mildew in the walls, and she is violently allergic to it. I cannot be an effective Relief Society president if I get sick from hanging out in the Relief Society room.

I was fine in the other stake’s stake center yesterday. I was fine in Bishop’s office last week for all of our pre-church meetings. I most devoutly hope that I will be fine during Sunday School and Relief Society today.

I took my secretary’s advice yesterday, after our leadership training. I did not put my coat on before leaving the building, and I was coughing (but only a little) by the time we got to Lorelai. She looked at me over the top of her glasses and said in her Mommy-voice, “Now, you go straight home and get warm and baby yourself for the rest of the day.” So I did. I ate some of that good fiery bean soup that I made when I was home last week, and slathered my foot on schedule, then took a nap.

We are having our stake’s monthly singles’ fireside and break-the-fast this evening. Much as I love those activities, I do not plan on attending. I am going to come home and eat leftovers or fix something simple, and then take a nap while some of you are watching football. And then I will get up and dose my foot, noodle around a little on Facebook, and go back to bed. I may or may not be at Knit Night on Tuesday. By the grace of Heaven, I have avoided bronchitis, and I feel pretty good this morning; I want to keep it that way.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Remember the veggies from yesterday?

[Which reminds me of the French saying, Où sont les neiges d’antan?] You will have to imagine the proper accent over the u in , because I don’t have time to hunt one up in Word. Literally, where are the snows of long ago? (Où with the proper accent means “where”; ou without it means “or”. And I just realized that in the time it has taken to explain that, I could have gone into Word and found the stupid symbol and inserted it. So I did. And I have put it into my generic draft template so that I won't have to put y’all through this again.) Translations: What’s done is done; you can’t go home again [and thank you, Thomas Hardy Wolfe, not to be confused with Tom Wolfe of the white suits]; the fat lady has sung.

Where was I? Oh yeah. Veggies. The ones I nuked for breakfast and then forgot about and had to throw into the fridge. They were waiting patiently for me when I got home last night. So I put six of those wonderful little frozen meatballs into a bowl and nuked them for a minute, then buried them under half of the veggies and nuked for another minute. Woohoo! A two-minute meal for the one-minute manager. Bliss in a bowl. Accompanied by a couple slices of toast.

I am having more of the same for breakfast. Well, maybe not the toast. And I am contemplating a mug of milk, because my head is suspiciously clear, and I am barely coughing. The thing I hate about having an episode of congestion, whether allergic or contagious, is that I really have to gear down on the milk intake if I want to be done with the misery sooner, rather than later.

It is such a lovely, simple blessing to be able to taste things. Well, probably not as simple as I think, the human body being as intricate as it is, but definitely lovely. Potatoes that taste like potatoes; green beans that are fresh and crisp; rosemary infusing the sauce. Mystery-meat-balls, always a little too salty, but they turn a bowl of veggies or pasta into a meal.

The foot medicine seems to be doing its thing. I was a little dismayed yesterday morning to open the bag with the new prescription and find salve instead of powder, because dryness goes a long way toward killing off the athlete’s foot beastie. On the other hand, it is easier to get salve everywhere it needs to go, rather than aiming a shaker at the offending spot and hoping for the best. And I am being rigorous (thus far) in dosing my foot three times a day.

If you want to know where I am at 6:00am, 2:00pm, and 10:00pm, you will find me perched in the loo with my socks off, slathering. Leave a message.

Though I am half an hour late this morning, and I need to get going, because I am picking up my secretary in about an hour, so that we can be in our seats 15 minutes early for a 9:00 meeting that does not take place in our local chapel.

I have no idea what I will be wearing; my first priority is finding clean socks and unmentionables in the pile, and then making myself presentable. I am hoping that we are not meeting in the chapel, because I know I do not have any clean pantyhose, and there isn’t time to run to the store for them (I’ve been a little busy coughing up lungs this week). I may do a long skirt with socks, or I may just brazenly flaunt convention and wear slacks. [This is an aspect of LDS culture that I simply do not get, though I comply. Why are skirts in a chapel reverent, and nice slacks (I am not talking worn blue jeans) not? I do not mean for sacrament meeting; I mean how some people spazz if you simply walk through the back of the chapel and your legs are ensconced in two tubes instead of one.]

Milk. I am going to get some milk, and then I am going to get going. And, I fear, this afternoon I am going to be doing laundry, unless the Good Housekeeping Fairy shows up here while I am in leadership training.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Corban: A Day of Small Kindnesses

A word with significance for those of us who love the scriptures, from Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary, via dictionary.com

Corban a Hebrew word adopted into the Greek of the New Testament and left untranslated. It occurs only once (Mark 7:11). It means a gift or offering consecrated to God. Anything over which this word was once pronounced was irrevocably dedicated to the temple. Land, however, so dedicated might be redeemed before the year of jubilee (Lev. 27:16-24). Our Lord condemns the Pharisees for their false doctrine, inasmuch as by their traditions they had destroyed the commandment which requires children to honour their father and mother, teaching them to find excuse from helping their parents by the device of pronouncing “Corban” over their goods, thus reserving them to their own selfish use.

I began this post back in November, when Blessing was in transit from Korea for the second time. A lot of the doll people organize their dolls into families or tribes, and I was casting about for a surname for mine. Given the amount of sacrifice and consecration that went into Fourthborn’s gift to me, Corban seemed a likely contender. It’s Hebrew, but it sounds vaguely Gaelic, and at the time I had a Gaelic given name for her.

So the first two paragraphs, and the first word of the title of this post, have been sitting in draft format for three months, waiting patiently for their close-up, Mr. DeMille.

Yesterday was a day of small gifts and small kindnesses, the sort that are easy to miss if one is distracted. But somehow the simple act of focusing on my breathing, not in the yoga way but in the sense of oh please just get me through the next five minutes, slowed me down enough to see what was around me.

My friend Yo gave me two of those large puffy peppermints, to calm my coughing as we rode in on the train. She is diabetic; they were from her emergency stash. I made them last for most of the hour.

When I got to my desk, there was a very large, very ripe banana waiting for me. One of the paralegals has kids who like their bananas barely past the green stage. When they start getting freckles, and fragrance, she used to throw them out. Now she gives them to me, or to another of the paralegals.

One of our attorneys had brought too much homemade carrot and raisin salad (a specialty of my mother’s); three of us shared the leftovers.

I remembered to call the pharmacy to renew my prescription for the Nystatin for my feet. It had lapsed; they faxed the request to my doctor’s office, and a fresh bottle was waiting when I got home to Fort Worth last night (i.e., the system worked). No, wait, it gets better! The prescription which cost me $10, year before last, and $7-something last year, cost me $2.14 last night. That’s $5 that can go into my gas tank next week.

When I got home, I was physically wiped out. I think I set a new land speed record for the four-block walk between the office and Union Station, and not in a good way. Quoting Elder Packer in his article in the February 2010 Ensign, “...much like the common cold drains more strength out of humanity than any other disease...” I actually dozed a little on the train, knitting in my hands.

Dinner was a ham sandwich, eaten slowly while digging through my inbox. My friend Robi had sent me a link to this article by Orson Scott Card (y’all know how much I like him). Get your box of Puffs and go read his essay. I’ll wait. Because you need the context. And then click on the link in his article to a photo essay that will be all the more touching, because you have the back-story.

Traditionally, we singles have two monthly dances that we can count on. First Friday in the Lewisville Stake, third Saturday hosted jointly by Richardson Stake and Dallas East Stake. Traditionally, I have enjoyed both dances, in recent months not so much. [Which I think is more a reflection on where I am than on anything lacking in the dances themselves. Others will disagree; I will not argue with them.]

Tonight’s dance has been replaced with a non-dancing activity, where the admission is three or more cans of food to go to the North Texas Food Bank. I think that is admirable in principle. The singles program is not just for those of us who love to dance to a wide variety of music; as presently constituted it does not meet the needs of all its constituents. I probably would not have gone to the dance tonight, given my energy level or lack thereof.

So some of my friends have organized an additional, unofficial dance, which will take place a week from tomorrow night. And I am looking forward to that, because it will be potluck in terms of both food and music. And it is being organized by people who are roughly my age, which means that I will like the music. I will take my famous PMS brownies, so there will be none of this healthy-food-only nonsense. [I like healthy food. I am eating more of it all the time, and I am mostly enjoying it (except for the inadvertent-cauliflower episodes), and I want there to be plenty of it for my friends who are diabetic. I just don’t want that to be my only option.]

Oh, one last good thing. About five minutes before I needed to go into a brief staff meeting, first one half of my sinuses cleared, and then the other. I could breathe! There is still a little something sitting on my chest, but I think we have averted bronchitis.

I just remembered that I nuked a bag of veggies an hour ago. I bet they’re done now. Sadly, I’m not hungry any more; I have been coughing steadily for the past 15 minutes and am wiped out again. So into the fridge they go, and I’ll take them for breakfast or for lunch.

I have been typing -- and thinking -- for the past hour and a half. The alarm goes off in an hour. I’m going to try to catch another hour of sleep.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

How much sleep does one woman need?

If you’re on Facebook and read my early post yesterday about the Automation Labs conspiracy, one of my friends sent me the link to Snopes. It’s false. It is a measure of how lousy I’ve felt that I did not automatically run it through Snopes as I would have, had it come to me via email.

On to happier topics. After breakfast yesterday, I went back to bed. And slept another five hours. When I woke up, I made myself another unleaded toddy. While I was scooping out the nearly-solid honey, I remembered where I had gotten it. It was a parting gift from Brother Stilts when he moved back to Missouri in June 2003. So there is [brotherly] love in every bite. No wonder I am (slowly) getting better!

I’ve mentioned the home teaching and visiting teaching programs of the church. In home teaching, two brethren are assigned a number of families to visit each month. In visiting teaching, two sisters are assigned a number of adult women to visit each month. In both cases, the assigned teachers are to take a spiritual message and to determine if there are any needs to fill (not in the spirit of snooping, but in the spirit of applied Christianity). At one time, Brother Stilts and NintendoMan and I were all in the same ward. And NintendoMan was Brother Stilts’ home teacher. He remembers him fondly and was sad to hear of his death.

Happy stuff. I said happy stuff. OK: I can breathe now! Mostly. Tuesday was all about the sneezing. Yesterday was all about the coughing. Today is about ...???

I got my “please save this for your taxes” letter from Doctors without Borders. Not a huge amount of money on my part, but I certainly could not have written one check for it. So easy to say, “what can one person do?” So easy, even on what I laughingly call my budget, to have a few dollars per month taken out of my account before I notice it, just as I do with my savings accounts and my 401K deductions. If there is something you are passionate about, find a way to help them. You may not have money to give, but you might have time to volunteer. Or you may have no time, but you might have an extra $10 a month that would just end up on your hips. Ya know?

One of my goals, when I was in my early 20’s, probably after I was baptized and the world was no longer about me-me-me, was to get a gallon pin from the Red Cross. Hepatitis in 1979 put paid to that. Maybe next year, after I am out of debt, I can start sending them a little cash every month. Or maybe, when I am released as RS president in my ward, I can volunteer at a Carter Blood Care blood drive, handing out cookies and orange juice. Or maybe both.

I am so proud of my kids who are able to give blood, and do. It is such a lovely, unselfish gift.

When I took the pizza out of the oven for lunch yesterday, this was what greeted me. You bake the pizzas at 450°F. And according to Ray Bradbury, paper burns at 451°F. I think I was cutting it a little close, don’t you?

Barb over on HappySimple asks a good question: “Does everything really happen for a reason?” I used to think that the Universe ran like clockwork, that A caused B, which led to C, and that if I consistently made good choices, I would be good-enough to be let into Heaven when I died (and drag my family, kicking and screaming, in after me). That theory blew apart when Bad Thing after Bad Thing after Bad Thing happened in our family, we, who were trying so hard to color inside the lines and be truly righteous, and not merely self-righteous (which is way, way easier, if you hadn’t already figured that out for yourselves). Which led first to the conclusion that it was somehow All My Fault that the bad things were happening (which was not fun) and a little later, to the conclusion that it was somehow All The Children’s Father’s Fault (which made me feel a little bit better but didn’t make the problems go away).

My current operating theory is, more or less, this: that Bad Things happen, simply because we are mortal and living in a fallen world. Some of them are obviously the natural consequences of our own poor choices; others are the natural consequences of other people’s poor choices; and still others, just are. And it’s how we respond to them, which determines the sort of person we become. Over the past three and a half decades, my mantra has slowly shifted from “Why me?” to “What now?” to “Please help me to figure out what You want me to learn from this.” With, thankfully, the occasional side order of “I’m really having a lot of fun right now. Thank You!”

Since I had the camera out, I thought I should show you that something other than napping and reading and countless games of Mah Johngg Toy Chest were happening chez Ravelled. I was also in the mood for a little doll-wrangling. I managed to extricate Faith from her sheath and put her into the denim jumper and long-sleeved T-shirt which Middlest made for her. And then, of course, the camera batteries went dead. Here is a bit of fun that I had, just before that happened. The characters on our family flag (begun when we lived in Fredericksburg, finished after we got to Arlington), playing dress-up:

That flag normally hangs on the wall behind the end of the couch. It is down because I spent a good chunk of last weekend, before I got sick, lying on my back with my feet up the wall, trying to coax my cankles into some semblance of anklitude. That would be “me”, modeling Faith’s new outfit, and “Fourthborn” (who made that little red bracelet she is sporting), modeling the coral T-shirt, with the aqua T-shirt playing dogpile on “LittleBit”.

Sock happens; here’s proof:

Those colors are uncharacteristically accurate, the photographic equivalent of the stopped clock which is right, twice a day.

I went to bed at a decent hour and tossed and turned. Then I awoke around 12:45 with an itchy foot. If I have enough covers over my feet to keep them comfortably warm, it is apparently an inducement to the athlete’s foot to be fruitful and multiply. So I got up and dosed my foot and chatted for a few minutes with NintendoMan while uploading pictures and fixing the first toddy of the day. My foot is quiescent, my coughing is more or less under control, and I am going back to bed.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Why are you tearing up my street?

Looks as if I picked the wrong day to be home and sick. I was tempted to step out onto the porch with my camera and take pictures of the backhoe and other things that go beep in the day. But as I was still in my flannel nightie, and my hair looked even more appalling than my poor, sore beak, I took a pass. I didn’t want those poor honest workmen to think that I was the advance guard for a zombie infestation.

I made something like unto chili yesterday. A pound of ultra-lean ground beef, half a package of frozen chopped onions and peppers, the leftover potato water from Monday night, about a cup of minced sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil, my last can of garbanzos, and two cans of Ro-Tel Original. More Mediterranean than Mexican in inspiration, but plenty fiery. At this point I still don’t know if it tastes good, but it went a long way toward clearing my head. And there is a whole lot of it leftover in the fridge, so I will neither starve, nor run out of gas.

A plus side to being home was the opportunity to chat via Facebook with NintendoMan, who sent me an irreverent get-well card. For once, we were awake and online at the same time; that hasn’t happened a lot lately and is all the more amazing considering how little I was actually awake yesterday. He prescribed soup and sleep. But I think the laughter did me as much good as anything.

Another silver lining to this storm cloud that has taken up residence in my head, is that I flat do not have the energy to be lonely. Breathing seems, oh I don’t know, a whole lot more important at the moment.

I found the last little dab of pepperjack cheese. I ate it to confuse the garbanzo beans.

Knitting happened. Maybe another half-inch on the heel gussets. Nothing worth getting up to grab the camera for.

I made my Excel spreadsheet for paying off the line of credit by the end of next year, and I calculated how much needs to come out of each paycheck. Next year will actually be a little easier in terms of cash flow, because Lorelai will be paid off in late January or early February, and I will roll that payment over into the other loan. Just guesstimating, but I should be completely out of debt by Labor Day 2011. And once those two loans are paid off, I will throw it all into my emergency fund. And then I will be, officially, obedient. [And can tackle gardening and genealogy, though possibly not simultaneously.]

Staying home again today, though I am feeling considerably better than when I went to bed last night. The hot *unleaded* toddies seem to be helping. I am having cinnamon toast for breakfast and contemplating my first nap of the day. (I've been up for a little over an hour; I love naps, but not that much.) I just called into work, and last night I canceled tonight’s presidency meeting.

I am now going to stand in the shower and poach my head. Maybe I can get a nice nap in before the boys come back to play with the über-Tonkas in the street.