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, July 31, 2010

In Which No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

When I find the Chinese person who cursed me yesterday, I will make him/her sit in the corner with extremely slippery yarn and knit something complicated, using [broken] chopsticks.

I spent an hour and a half at jury duty yesterday morning, only to be assigned a courtroom for Monday. Came home and changed my clothing (I parked in the garage next to the courtroom, on the third level, and there was no elevator, and this is summertime in Texas.) Dithered for a few minutes while continuing to rehydrate and cool down, then decided to drive on into work and see how much I could get done, since I will be in District Court on Monday. Thankfully, not a criminal case.

So I was typing along, earning brownie points with my lawyers and feeling pretty good about the day, when some lackwit thought it would be a good idea to call in a bomb threat.

We evacuated the building and spent the first 20 minutes or so standing on our appointed emergency street corner, watching the police direct traffic away from the front of our building, just in case.

If it made the Dallas Channel 4 news last night, that lovely historical edifice would be ours; I know that this made the blog on the alternative newspaper. I think we were all sitting inside the McDonalds by the time the camera crew showed up. Which saved you all from hearing me worry aloud, not so much about how I was getting home, but how I was getting to the wedding reception in a southern suburb of Fort Worth later (I didn’t), or to BittyBubba’s birthday party this morning, or to my date tonight.

I do not do “stuck” well. I spent the last half of my marriage feeling stuck on a regular basis, and it is by the grace of Heaven that I did not have a full-on PTSD episode last night. Or asthma, or my left ankle puffing up like a blowfish, or a major outbreak of rudeness on my part.

Once they let us retrieve our cars, I ran the late mail to the big post office, since some of us stayed after the office was officially closed, and it was on the way home. And then I headed down to Vicki’s yarn shop to soak up some wool fumes. I knew I would not be fit company at a wedding reception, no matter how delighted I am for the groom and his lady.

When I hit Duncanville and spotted the Taco Cabana, I suddenly knew what I wanted for dinner: basic beef Cabana Bowl. Except that since I ate there last, they have “improved” their menu. And the girl at the drive-thru could not understand me, and she kept asking me to make decisions about my dinner, when all I wanted was what I had last week. After about a minute, I finally said “never mind” as politely as possible and exited the line.

I knew that if I had stayed there much longer, I would have lost my temper, or started crying, and it was not her fault that we had had a bomb threat, just as it was not my fault that I was momentarily incapable of making a decision. There was a Wendy’s on down the block. I got a side Caesar, a baked potato, and a bowl of chili. Comfort food, all of it, and relatively tasty, and by the time I was done eating it (in the yarn shop) I was feeling reasonably lucid.

This is going to be a busy day. I am heading out to the gym in a few. I will pick up Brother Sushi around 9:00, and he will help me deal with something unpleasant. I hope to be done with that quickly and on to BittyBubba’s party at 10:00 (but I am not holding my breath, because it involves other people’s agency, procedures, and agendas), so that I can come home and take a nap and get ready for a one-hour trek across Dallas in a car without A/C for date #3.

Thankfully, mercifully, I am not conducting RS tomorrow.

I have my playlist and CD’s for tonight’s line dancing lesson. I know where my ballet slippers are. I know which dolls I am taking. (Mel is bringing some of hers.) I may even get the second sleeve done on Chutzpah’s sweater this morning so I can put it in place and proceed to design the neckline and whether it will open in front or in back.

I am so glad the date was not last night, because I was just a big bundle of needs for awhile. Tonight I can go, enjoy myself, and be good company.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Why I was eating trees and cheese at 6:30a.m.

I opened the freezer to bring out a loaf of bread. The package with the individual servings of trees and cheese fell out onto the floor (it was looking a little depressed). Three of the four containers were undamaged. The fourth flipped its lid, not so much as you’d notice, and disgorged a tablespoon of frozen broccoli onto my kitchen floor. That part went into the compost pile when I walked outside to put my gym bag in the trunk and haul the trash bin and recycling bin back to the side of the house. The rest of it went into the microwave.

Because, apparently, I had a craving for trees and cheese that was unsuspected when I woke up yesterday.

It’s too bad that you aren’t supposed to even refrigerate Nutella; otherwise I would prime the pump, or salt the mine, or some other metaphor, and stand by the fridge waiting for it to leap out.

No such luck.

But the good thing about my broccoli is, when a tablespoon of it disappears itself, the proportion of cheese to trees improves considerably.

I tried the fast setting on my bobbin for effort #2, as opposed to the half-fast setting I used before. It’s much easier to draft at this speed, and the strand appears to be more uniform. Not to mention it goes a whole lot faster. I am wondering if I can get fingering weight when I ply this.

I spent some time rearranging my photo albums on Facebook last night. It kept me from posting Three Days to German Chocolate Cheesecake as my status.

Food note: the Healthy Request Maryland-Style Crab Soup is tasty. It doesn’t taste particularly crabbish, but it’s pleasantly spicy, and there are verifiable chunks of potato in it, always a plus as far as I am concerned.

Today is my Friday. Tomorrow I get to play hurry up and wait in the jury pool. I have borrowed Secondborn’s copy of Breaking Dawn as an alternative to knitting. I don’t think the bailiff would like my 5-aught knitting needles. And I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t let me bring my spinning wheel. So, vampire-flavored doorstop, it is.

I am hoping that they will keep me in the jury pool long enough that it is worth nobody’s while for me to drive in to work for what’s left of the day.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

And afflicting the comfortable.

I used to gauge my effectiveness as a parent, when I had a houseful of teenagers, by how many of them were not happy with me. Wearing the Mom Hat just about guaranteed that at any given time, somebody was thinking that I could kiss next year’s M-Day present goodbye. And anything else that might be in the neighborhood.

Looking back, this is probably when I developed my working philosophy of comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable.

One of my precious children has been Behaving Badly. I don’t mean that she is robbing banks or stealing candy from babies; more like a virulent outbreak of It’s All About Me Fever. I took exception to it. I also threw not merely a spanner into the works, but a Phillips screwdriver, a spirit level, and a carpenter’s square. You may safely assume that said child is taking my name in vain at the moment. You may also safely assume that I am taking that in stride.

I keep hearing Emily Gilmore’s voice in my head: “I don’t care if you think I’m the Wh_re of Babylon.” [It is more than a little weird to be channeling Emily, rather than Rory or Lorelai.]

When the going gets tough, the tough get spinning (though this is not what inspired last Thursday’s retrieval of my spinning wheel from the back of my studio). Witness:



And to prove that there are colors other than teal, chez Ravelled, here is my recent yarn trade:



I had a small accident while plying the handspun. Since the last skein I plied, oh say 20 years ago, I had forgotten that when one is plying from both ends of a cake of singles, it is wise to hold the cake in one hand and do the plying with the other. Which meant that at some point a blob of overtwisted singles leapt out of the center of the cake [nowhere near as fun as if it had been Sean Connery, though every bit as panic-inducing] to be greeted by another AWOL overtwisted blob leaping from the outside of the cake, forming the living image of rush hour traffic westbound on I-30 through Arlington when a Rangers game has just let out.

So. Not. Pretty. It probably took me half an hour to 45 minutes to untangle the mess, and it involved breaking both strands of my precious handspun and teasing out the tangles on first one strand, then the other, until I was able to rejoin them to the ball.

I have a whole new appreciation for Lehi's vision of the olive tree as expounded in the 5th chapter of Jacob. All of that grafting of the natural branches into the wild trees, and the wild branches into the tame trees, and then the grafting back of the wild branches into the wild trees and the tame branches into the tame trees, and the burning of the useless branches at the end of it all.

The Wh_re of Babylon bids you a gracious good morning and is heading off to work now.

P.S. Speaking of cake, the new guy informs me that he has solved the dilemma of what to make for dessert on Saturday night: German Chocolate Cake? or cheesecake? He has found a recipe for German Chocolate Cheesecake. “Everybody dies happy.”

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Yarn Swap

A woman contacted me over on Ravelry, asking if I had a spare skein of the teal KnitPicks Gloss Lace. She would be happy to buy it. I asked if she had the same yarn in a different color. I love this yarn to bits, and I am a bit tealed-out at the moment. She did: the silvery grey. So I mailed her the teal, and she mailed me the grey, and we are both happy campers, only out the cost of mailing flat rate boxes to one another. I was simply not in the mood to deal with PayPal this time around.

This grey is exactly the color I hoped it would be, when I first saw it in the catalogue. There is just the merest suggestion of lavender to it, which means that it will go wonderfully with the necktie skirt I thought I was making for Jessica or Blessing, but which fits Celeste. And it will also go with Faith’s hooves and fetlocks, which are plummy charcoal and warm lilac, respectively. (Hey, you paint your fantasy creatures the colors you want them, and I’ll have Fourthborn paint mine the colors I want them.)

Firstborn and Kristen, thank you for your lovely comments recently. No, I wasn't familiar with that poem, or if I’d read it, it was so long ago that I had forgotten it entirely. But yeah, I do know how that feels.

For those of you who are spinners, I have just fired up a spinning-related blog. Don’t expect a lot of activity there for awhile. It’s all the Yarn Harlot’s fault, what with her Tour de Fleece activity. I told her so, too.

Three days until jury duty. Four days until dinner with the new guy.

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Door Prize Scarf

I finally got it blocked yesterday. The pattern is Lace Ladder and Twist, from Barbara Walker’s A Treasury of Knitting Patterns, Vol. 1.



Yarn is KnitPicks Gloss Lace in Aegean. Blocked size is 14” wide by 66” long. One of the girls in my graduating class was six feet tall. I wanted to make sure this was long enough for her, should she win it as a door prize.



I will bundle this up and get it in the mail to the reunion committee later this week.

Started a small doll project yesterday. The sweater for Chutzpah needs more time and peace and quiet for designing the next phase, than I have had when I would normally knit in public. So I am noodling around with the leftover Schaefer Anne from my Swallowtail Shawl. I think there is enough for a simple vest for Faith.

Had a blast at Firstborn’s birthday party last night. I just love all those characters from 1BDH’s side of the family!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

N.V.G.T.

Not. Very. Good. Tacos.

My Bueno let me down. Yesterday we had the ward Pioneer Day breakfast at a local park. The food was cooked by people who love to eat; i.e., it was excellent. There were brief inspirational talks, and some games for the younguns and anyone else who wanted to participate. I took my spinning wheel along, hoping that a dash of verisimilitude would exempt me from the games.

It worked.

We had that whole section of the park all morning. I set up camp on the edge of a meandering sidewalk, in the shade of several trees. And there I sat, and spun, and ’splained, Lucy. Once the games got going, so did I. Put the wheel into the back seat and headed over to the health club. It did not seem particularly bright to me, to go work out and shower in order to go to the breakfast, where I would only get sweaty again. I like a good hot shower as much as the next person, and there have been days when I would have been content to walk into the shower and not walk out again until bedtime, but yesterday was not one of those days.

@ Tola, my ever-mischievous friend: that would be a “no.” I don’t think “DollyDaddy” is going to cut it, especially since in the doll world he would be the “DollyDaddy’s Daddy,” which is altogether too much like “Baby Mama Drama,” and we have that going already with Lark’s mom.

But thanks for playing!

I have the standard bobbins on my Louet S-10 wheel. If I remember correctly, when I had my first wheel, also an S-10, it came with three bobbins that spun at one speed only, and one higher-speed bobbin, which I don’t think I ever used. This one has a bobbin with three gear ratios on the business end: 5.5 to 1, which is designed for fat yarns but what I am using, because I am relearning technique, and it is far easier at a slow speed, plus this pencil roving is less than half the diameter of the pencil roving I used twenty-five years ago; 7.5 to 1, designed for medium-weight yarns, and 10.5 to 1.

There are also two high-speed bobbin options now available, with ratios of 6.5:1, 9.5:1 and 15:1. One has a bobbin core the same diameter as the basic bobbin, roughly an inch; the other has a fatcore bobbin, to simulate a half-full bobbin so that there is less pull on the fiber as you draft the yarn.

I plan to spin enough yarn at this setting (one or two bobbins full) to make a small project. And then I am going to try the fastest setting, to see if I can get a decent sock yarn from this pencil roving. At which point I might be ready to take the glorious bump of Micki’s hand-dyed wool and turn it into sock yarn. Spinning from pencil roving is blissfully lazy spinning, but it is a good way to regain my skills.

Maybe everybody in my tribe will get small handspun Christmas ornaments this year. Or, maybe not.

There is enough VM (vegetable matter) in this wool that at times I feel as if I were the Lone Star division of Noro. (Knitting joke: Noro Kureyon Sock is 70% wool, 30% nylon, and 5% vegetable matter.)

The Lendrum wheel, which is what I want next, has three flyer options (the part that sits on top of the drive wheel and contains the bobbin), with drive ratios ranging from 5:1 to 44:1. If all goes well, that may be my Christmas present to myself after I am out of debt next year. I think I remember that my friend Jeri has the fast flyer and is not enamored of it; the regular one works perfectly well for her, and she suggested that I borrow her fast flyer to see if I like it, before investing in one myself. The Lendrum wheel has a single-treadle or double-treadle option; I would choose the double-treadle, because that would keep the lymph flowing sweetly in both ankles. Too bad I can’t get a prescription for it and run it through my medical reimbursement account!

In spinning once more, I feel as if I had found a piece of myself that has been dormant for too long.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Eat. Pray. Love.

No, not the movie, which I probably will see, depending on the rating and the reviews. I remember that I enjoyed reading the book last year.

Not-so-much eating has been going on here. I’ve lost 18 pounds since the first of the year, without dieting. I eat what I want, when I want it, just a little less of it, and more fruits and veggies, plus there is all that lovely splooshing at the pool.

I’m still not swimming, just walking and/or trotting back and forth in the water, generally about half a mile a day. I love the recumbent bike, which gives me a bit more of a workout, and I am pleased to report that I now walk the treadmill (when I do walk the treadmill) without holding onto the side rails, at a steeper slope and a faster speed, if for less time than I was at first, most of the days that I get that far (i.e., if time permits).

I still do not like peeling out of sweaty clothes to get into my swimsuit, though it feels so good when I step down into that water. I am marginally amused by how difficult it is to pull a swimsuit up over a sweaty body. It hangs up at various rest stops along the way, shall we say, and while I love the cherry-red color and the drape of the bodice, I miss the shoulder straps on my old suit that I loved to death. This one ties at the back of the neck. I feel all Dorothy Lamour in it, but it’s not the best-fitting suit I’ve ever owned.

The big news is still my upcoming dinner with the new guy [and his kids the Doll Folk]. She is bringing dolls. I will take some of mine. I will also be giving the new guy line-dancing lessons, and if the kids poke too much fun, we will make them get up and dance as well. Thankfully, he loves C/W music, so he will have stuff we can dance to.

He gets major props from me for his comportment at last weekend’s dance. He does not know how to line-dance, but he got up and tried, and he smiled throughout. So yeah, still impressed with what I see and know of him, and still no idea what to call him.

I attended the singles’ temple night on Wednesday. He was there. We sat together in the chapel beforehand and whispered quietly in the celestial room afterward. I got a little weepy, praying for my kids, some of whom have made or are making choices that distress me. So we’ve gotten over the hurdle of him seeing me cry now; and he did not walk away as fast as his legs would take him, just sat there quietly in the chair next to me until I was done, then leaned over and whispered how hard it had been for him to go back to the temple after his wife passed away.

Good man.

While I was not-blogging, I managed to acquire my first speeding ticket in over 30 years thanks to completely missing *two* clearly posted signs on the eastbound service road for I-30 in Grand Prairie. Here’s the first one, right at the entrance to the freeway.



And here’s the second one, about halfway between there and where I was pulled over.



But the cop was easy on the eyes and just about ma’amed me to death. It will be ramen noodles and/or PBJ’s chez Ravelled until my budget has recovered.

Though there has been a wee bit of shopping. I found this on my way to the temple on Wednesday night. A small box from India, painted in the Shekhawati style and featured at World Market, which has a huge Eat Pray Love theme going on right now. I wandered in, hoping to find a doll-sized decorative chair that might do for one of the resin kids. Instead, I found this footstool for the big girls / hassock for the little ones. [I also rediscovered my tiny terracotta pot that begs to be filled with a miniature ficus or geraniums or something.]



I have been puttering a little. All four light bulbs in the ceiling fan in the living room had burned out. I got up on my stepstool to see if maybe they were just loose; they were not. (I had been lucky in la boudoir; I only needed to stand up on the bed and tighten them gently.)

Two of the bulbs had unscrewed themselves from their brass bases, leaving said bases in the sockets. So I turned off the ceiling fan, and believe me that was no small sacrifice given how warm it is outside and in. I was able to get one of them out easily. The other one was as resistant as a two-year-old at bedtime.

I used my round-nosed pliers (the ones that have been AWOL since I moved, which necessitated the purchase of a second pair; I also found the two AWOL rechargeable batteries for my camera, all of them in my toolbox, go figure!) to crimp one edge so I could get a purchase on it, and out it came. My living room is now all lit up like Vegas.



Last night, after an unsuccessful attempt to write a difficult letter, I hauled my spinning wheel out of the studio and set it up here in the living room. I am spinning from a cheese of pencil roving which my friend Rebecca gave me some time back. Here’s what we have so far:



There are bits of straw and other vegetable matter in it. And I’m spinning it as it comes off the cheese, without drafting it any further. So I have no idea how fat the plied yarn will be, but I think I may try my hand at Navajo-plying.

I just wish it were possible to run my tightly-spun traps and neck through the orifice of my wheel and reverse some of the tension. I am wound tighter than a tick. Not only was I weepy at the temple on Wednesday night, when I drove home from work last night I was channel-surfing because I was so very, very tired.

On the new guy’s favorite country station, they played Alan Jackson’s “Small Town Southern Man,” which reminds me so much of Dad, who was a Colorado farm boy but of the same high caliber as the dad in the song. That started the waterworks again. He’s been gone 20 years, and last Friday would have been his 105th birthday. And I thought, “I haven’t cried this hard because of a song since the first time I heard ‘That Summer’.” [Which I heard when I had gone away to Galveston for my birthday weekend ten years ago, for some crying time because of the then-current family drama, during which I had spent a couple of weeks being Seriously Supportive.] Guess what they played next?

Half an hour later, I was perfectly fine again. It was just one of those summer cloudbursts that washes everything clean (and makes the flowers happy).

There have been moments in the past month when I really wished that I were married, so I could go to my spousal unit and say, “Hold me. Please, just hold me. I don’t need you to fix anything, I’m not sure its fixable, I just want to be held.”

Today, thankfully, is not one of those days. But then I have been careful to avoid the radio. And I got a nice, long nap after the well-woman stuff.

@ Francis: Had lunch at Fuzzy’s with my best friend today. Seriously oversalted.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Found a new home for the new jacket

My best-friend-at-work confirmed my opinion and that of Secondborn: great fabric, interesting jacket, and not me. So I showed it to another friend at work who is about my size, and it not only fits her perfectly, it also suits her.

Got a lot accomplished yesterday, including, apparently, mislaying the hanger with my yoga pants and my least-favorite T-shirt. Not in the house, not in the car, not in the trunk, not in the lost and found at the health club.

So that means I am limited to the pool only until I buy a new pair of yoga pants. Thankfully, I love the pool.

Support staff meeting this morning. Devoutly praying that it is a short one, as I have much in my inbox and on my to-do list. Oye. There may be some serious chocolate abuse today.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The headlight of an oncoming train...

Well, now I know why I woke up at 11:30 Sunday night, after having gone to bed with the chickens. I was sitting here, typing away, and there was a funny noise outside and the power went out. At least I wasn’t sleeping and therefore startled awake by the CPAP going off abruptly. Thank goodness for cell phones: I reset my alarm.

Correction: I reset the time on the clock. I reset the time for the alarm. But I forgot to push the button. Consequently, I woke at 6:14, washed up quickly, threw on something, and scooted out the door. I made it to the train station in time to park in the shade, all the way in the back, and have a leisurely stroll down the steps and up to the train.

LadyZen was on the train, woohoo! I had not seen her in at least a month. So good to catch up on one another’s lives.

I have joked for years about the light at the end of the tunnel, not always being the headlight of an oncoming train. Yesterday it was. Only there was no tunnel, just the back end of the southbound train obscuring the front end of a northbound train as I was crossing the tracks. My friend C says I scared two years out of her. I was just thankful that I’ve been working out for two and a half months, because my acceleration was pretty impressive, those last five feet!

Thankfully, I am not the sort who freezes in times of danger. I just kept moving forward. Sometimes inertia is on the side of the good guys. (I hope I’m one of the good guys, even though I’m not exactly a guy.) I may not have made it to the gym before work, but I definitely had an aerobic workout!

The rest of the day, thankfully, was considerably less scary. Lots of typing, a new case opened for one of the other attorneys whose secretary (and backup secretary, ahem) are both out of the office this week. I don’t have enough experience to be able to handle her entire docket, but I do know enough to be useful. And a new case opened for us, which is good, because we closed a long-time problem child.

Yes, I will be more watchful while crossing the tracks today. Instead of looking both ways, I’ll look both ways twice.

In other good news, I made significant progress on my swatching for the next doll sweater. I am working on the 5-aught needles at the moment, basically pushing gauge for all it’s worth until I get a fabric that is no longer fluid. The stockinette at this gauge is really impressive: I am guessing 12-13 sts per inch, and probably 20 rows if I had enough patience to work that many, though I haven’t confirmed it with my stitch gauge.

Itty-bitty, tee-ninetsy stitches, each identical to its neighbor, with just enough wiggle to them to confirm that yes, this was not made by machine. I am currently working a pattern of broken ribbing, like I used for 2BDH’s scarf Christmas before last, only this time it’s two stitches wide and three rows long. Looks really good on the 4-aughts but somewhat tightly-wound on the 5-aughts. Next I want to try a pattern of alternating diamonds in stockinette and reverse stockinette, three stitches wide tapering down to one, and five rows long.

But first I am going to the health club, because it has now been three days, and I had cranky dreams. (LittleBit was a baby, and I was not being patient with her because I wanted to go shopping, and she was not being cooperative. There is probably a metaphor in there, and it is probably not one that makes me look like Saint Ravelled.)

When I looked at my desk calendar yesterday, I realized that on the 30th, when I have jury duty, the secretary *I* back up [!!!] will be out on vacation. So I emailed the office manager, and she sent a tactful heads-up to that attorney. Maybe today I will have a few extra seconds to look at his calendar for that day, to see what reports, if any, will be due.

Fourthborn is having fun in Virginia with Middlest. I’m glad that somebody in the family will be with her for her birthday tomorrow.

Time to grab the gym bag and take care of this middle-aged body. I want a little time on the recumbent bike as well as in the water, but mostly I want to be in the water.

Secondborn, LittleBit comes by the not-changing-the-oil gene quite honestly. You do not want to know how long it’s been since Lorelai had hers changed. When I have the time, I do not have the money. When I have the money, I do not have the time. Heaven is being merciful and extending the life of that engine only because I am stretched six ways from Sunday. (And because I am not spending what I laughingly call my disposable income, on tattoos.) However, on Saturday morning time and cash will converge, and I will take care of that small detail.

The oil change. Not a tattoo.

I am heading out the door now. I promise to slow down a little, and to look both ways. I like it here with y’all.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Delete. Delete. Delete.

Yesterday I spent about an hour wading through my Yahoo! inbox. Reduced its contents from nearly 300 emails to 33. At the moment, after reading and responding to others, we are down to 30. [That would be the royal we.]

The visiting teaching conference went well yesterday. Everybody liked the breakfast casseroles (think funeral potatoes minus the sour cream plus sausage). We had more people in attendance than I thought, and nowhere near as many as there could have been, even with the bribe of food.

Visiting teaching is the heart of Relief Society. We go out two by two, like the ark, and we try to take care of one another. And when it works, it is glorious. It works, more often than not, because it is an inspired program. And we come to this earth pre-programmed for happiness as we serve one another. We are not so good about the reporting back. Visiting teaching is not about the statistics. But when we don’t go out and love those sisters, they fall away, or they don’t reactivate, and they struggle and suffer alone and think that God has forgotten them.

And on a purely bureaucratic note, because at heart I still think of myself as more of a bean counter than a shepherdess [but I’m trying], one of those quarterly reports that goes to the stake and on to church headquarters, is a large factor in determining the budget for a ward Relief Society the following year.

So, if we don’t go out, people suffer. And if we don’t report back, even if we have gone out, the budget suffers and we can’t provide as many activities for the sisters the following year.

OK, in the good-news department. Secondborn was called to be first counselor in her ward Relief Society. And she is speaking in sacrament meeting today. I will be sitting in the congregation with 2BDH and the Bitties, listening and sniffling.

More good news: Fourthborn is visiting Middlest in Virginia. I sent along some cannibalized T-shirts with her, to make doll clothes.

I have no idea if this is good news, or not. I have been summoned for jury duty later this month. I have yet to sit on a jury. Generally, when they find out that I work for an insurance company, I get struck for cause. They are going to be thrilled when I tell them at work: we are already down two legal secretaries. I just hope it is not something like the O.J. trial, where my grandchildren will all graduate high school before I get to see them again. I am supposed to dine at the new guy’s house the following evening (his son and daughter-in-law will also be there).

Time for me to start fluffing and foofing. I also need to remember to leave the baaah-ing part of my keychain locked in my trunk, so the Bitties will not ask to play with it at sacrament meeting. I also need to remember to take Chutzpah out of my purse.

Secondborn, I will drag the questionable jacket with me to church today, and you can give me your vote. Maybe I will have you take a picture of me in it and email that to Firstborn, or maybe I will swing by after Knit Night on Tuesday and let her take a squint. I am retrieving the title to Phineas that night, preparatory to taking delivery of the actual car so I can sell it for junk in the next couple of weeks.

Assuming I am not sequestered in a hotel room with 11 other jurors but without my CPAP.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Friday? Already?

I have been driving in all week, the better to enjoy a more leisurely workout in the morning. Also because we have had several people on vacation this week, and I can park for free under the building, using their monthly parking.

I did it all yesterday, all before breakfast: recumbent bicycle, treadmill, weight circuit, and pool. And I had a terrific day as a result. I got home from the temple just about 10:00p.m., and while I was sleepy, I was not loopy.

Though it was close. My package of deeply discounted delights from Coldwater Creek’s online outlet was waiting for me on the porch. [Oh, how I love honest neighbors!] And I was so sleepy that I brought it inside, plunked it down on the arm of the couch, and slid into my jammies, utterly incurious.

I don’t know how I feel about the jacket. It is sewn from a cleverly constructed oversized houndstooth fabric; some of the yarns are matte, some are shiny, some are textured, and some are plain. Variations on cream and black. I’m not sure whether the collar is meant to stand up or lie flat. It doesn’t seem to want to do either. And, standing up, it is just the right shape [or, more accurately, the wrong shape] to irritate the skin at the sides of my neck. And it’s a funny shape: not exactly a kimono, not exactly a swing jacket, but oversized like the fabric it is made from, and the sleeves are 3/4 length, and I think it makes me look as if I had not lost nearly 20 lbs, or maybe my arms had a growth spurt, and those buttons?

Those buttons are ugly. Seriously ugly. The jacket is fully-lined and sewn with their usual craftsmanship, but I wonder if there is an Ugly Button University somewhere in the universe, because oye!

If I end up keeping it, I will be taking a little excursion to Benno’s Buttons.

I am ordinarily quite confident in picking out my own clothing. But I am going to have to run this particular item past Firstborn, Secondborn, and Fourthborn to play Is It the Jacket, Or Is It Me?

I haven’t tried on the shirts yet. I anticipate no drama there. In color, they are all variations on the theme of autumn.

My to-do’s at work multiplied like lemmings while my back was turned yesterday. The goal for today is to give the vast majority of them a decent burial at sea.

Ordinarily, this would be my Friday for dinner with Brother Sushi. But he got shanghaied into something for the singles, and I am about ready to just come home, kick my shoes off, and opt for an early bedtime. I want to take him to that really cool restaurant where I ate with Trainman last month. I also want to not fall asleep with my face in my appetizer. So we are thinking that next Saturday night, between my stint at the temple in the morning, and the dance in Richardson that night, would be a better time.

Today I just want to splash in the pool a little, come home, throw on one of the new shirts and a silk scarf over jeans, and catch the train. We’ll see how that goes...

Monday, July 05, 2010

Had a great Fourth.

I stayed awake for [most of] my meetings. I did doze off in Gospel Doctrine, but I made sure to tell the teacher afterward that I had enjoyed class, and that my drowsiness was not an editorial comment.

Came home and had a bit of solitude and a bite of dinner before heading back to the chapel. I got there just as everybody else was finishing dinner, and I had no trouble staying awake during Bishop’s talk at the fireside.

Drove to the parking lot near my house and was just getting comfy when my phone went off: Secondborn is the new 1st counselor in the RS presidency in her ward! The new RS president has been serving in the stake RS presidency, [and I suspect she has been a RS president before]. Secondborn will learn so much in this calling, and she will bring much to it, and she will learn to love the sisters in her ward more deeply than she can now imagine.

So I watched the fireworks at the Colonial first, while Secondborn talked to me, and then the ones at Trinity Park started, and the ones at Colonial finished in a blaze of glory, and we had several more minutes before the ones at Trinity Park were done. I have no idea why fireworks should move me to tears, but they do.

My friend M’s socks are done. I can start swatching for sweaters for Faith and Chutzpah. I pulled out a remnant of darkish green laceweight wool that I think will do very nicely for Chutzpah. I will have to look at my laceweight and see what would look good on Faith, my little unicorn-human hybrid.

I need to email Middlest and ask her if I gave her the last of the aqua silk/wool laceweight, or if it’s buried in my stash somewhere. I am trying to be really good and knit only from my stash. As Ringo sang, “It don’t come easy, you know it don’t come easy...”

I slept in until about 7:00 this morning and am about ready to grab the gym bag and go play at the health club for awhile. I wonder if people will be sleeping in this morning, or if it’s going to be a madhouse?

A few weeks ago I went twice in one day (I was trying to resist the call of some ridiculously fattening food, and it worked.) The pool, and more particularly the hot tub, were filled with twenty-somethings, and they were all TALKING LIKE THIS.

At 4:30am, the pool has a sprinkling of people my age, and we nod to one another, and we murmur respectfully to one another, and we focus on the task at hand.

I made the decision, years ago, not to be crabby in the morning. I am not a lark by nature; I am a night owl who has functioned as a lark for nearly three decades (since Firstborn started kindergarten).

When the girls started hitting seminary age, I learned that I needed to get up an hour before everybody else, have my devotional and finish waking up, before I had to start dealing with groggy teenagers.

I caught a bit of a break when it was just LittleBit and me, because I only had to open her door and say, “Good morning, Beautiful!”, and her eyes would fly open, and she would smile at me and chirp, “Good morning, Mommy!” (even when she was 18). And then she would get up and get herself ready.

I cherish those memories, now that she is going through her rebellious period. Which I think is going to last awhile. I keep her name on the prayer roll pretty much constantly, and it just occurred to me that this might have been like (3rd) Nephi felt: do I pray for famine, or do I let the natural consequences of war bring her around?

I just send up a prayer, every so often, that she will have experiences where she feels God's love and where she is drawn back to Him, but mostly I pray for her safety. As I pray for her sisters and their families.

I think when I get home from the health club, that I am going to spend some time reorganizing the kitchen and my food storage. I have one last cheapie bookshelf out in the living room, that is more rhomboid every day. I think I will take it apart and add four shelves to the stack by the fridge (#10 cans are the spacers), so I will have room to stack my pots and pans.

This kitchen was designed for quick refueling, back when a good cook had three pots and a frying pan and a rolling pan. It does not inspire a cookfest, and I haven’t truly felt like cooking in months, and there is minimal storage.

I have my good dishes (bought on sale at Target, a dozen for $10) and all the cool stuff I bought to augment them (chargers, handblown goblets from Pier One, earthenware from Garden Ridge), plus the everyday dishes, plus remnants of other sets that I’ve collected over the years (the things that Fourthborn didn’t accidentally[?] break when it was her turn to do dishes; she’s a lovely human being now, but when she was a teenager, she raised passive-aggression to an art form!) and Corningware bowls for microwaving and and and...

Five kids + actual or eventual spouses + me + eventual eternal companion = service for 12 at a minimum. And, two apartments ago, when I had 22 kitchen cabinets[!] and six drawers, plus a linen closet in the hall and a well-designed dining room, I liked to have small dinner parties once a month.

I have done that *once* since I moved in here. We had three sitting on the couch, one in the rocker, one in a wooden folding chair, and me in my rolling chair, all clustered around the coffee table, because there is literally no room to open up my gate-leg table.

But I do love living here, because I am gradually going through my stuff, discovering what I no longer need, and giving it to people who truly need or want it. Last year before Halloween, I took a couple of bags of decorations to Relief Society and plunked them on the chairs where we’re supposed to sit at the beginning of the meeting and told the sisters to have at it, after class. Everything found a home. I think I’m about ready to do that with my candlestick collection.

Well, my computer says it’s pushing 9:00, and I need to get moving. The light through the “eyebrow” window at the top of my front door is glorious. I think I will pop open a carton of yogurt and then hit the road.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Hi, remember me?

It’s been that kind of a week. This was the first full week with our office down two legal secretaries (one on maternity leave, one who gave notice). Thankfully, there was only *one* staff meeting which involved the entire office, and it was mercifully brief: less than an hour.

This post is going to be mostly a pastiche of excerpts from my emails to the new guy (still no moniker for him), as that is where 95% of my online energy has gone this week.

Still in work news: Thursday was golden. My attorney came by my desk and asked if I had plans for lunch. I had brought leftovers. He took me to lunch at Cindy’s, which is a home-cooking restaurant by Union Station that is a pleasant walk from the office and does not disgrace the name of home-cooking. One of the other attorneys, the one I would pick for my half-docket if I were given the choice, joined us. We are all about the same age, so it was not two attorneys and a secretary having lunch, it was three lively, smart middle-aged people eating good food and talking about life. We were celebrating my attorney’s 4 year anniversary with the company.

He also did my mid-year performance review that day, called me into his office and showed me the rough draft, we discussed it, he made a couple of minor changes and gave me a second rough to read. I found a minute error which amused both of us, he fixed that, gave me a final copy, and sent it to the office manager and managing attorney. According to him, I don’t quite walk on water as a legal secretary, but he has faith that I’ll get that small detail figured out.

I love, love, love working with people who have clearly articulated high expectations and are generous but plausible with their feedback.

In health news: I revealed to the new guy that I use a CPAP. So do his mother and brother. So the whole “Luke, I am your mother” thing didn’t totally weird him out.

You’re already aware that I fell in love with John Cougar Mellencamp’s “Authority Song” earlier this week.

I figured out how to send the visiting teaching messages via Facebook.

I had ice cream with Fourthborn and Fiancé and LittleBit on Monday night, Pho95 (Vietnamese and very clean-tasting; I ate the last of it for lunch yesterday) on Wednesday night with Firstborn, and spent an hour or two at Secondborn’s yesterday. Also had a great conversation with Middlest on Friday night. Quality time with 100% of my kids and 60% of my grandkids, which makes me one happy camper.

He grows pomegranates. Which led to a lively discussion of Greek mythology as well as Greek yogurt, and which flavors of Yoplait were in our respective fridges.

We talked about which movie stars would be good to play which of our Book of Mormon heroes. He asked if I could see John Wayne playing Nephi.

I countered with this: “I’m thinking John Wayne or Sean Connery as Teancum, who is one of my favorite people in the Book of Mormon. If the Nephi we are talking about is the first one, ‘Brother Go and Do’, I’m thinking Gary Cooper or Gregory Peck, probably the latter. There’s a lot of Atticus Finch in Nephi, and vice versa. And maybe Anthony Hopkins as Mormon. And maybe Helen Mirren as Sariah.

“If they ever make a doll sculpt with sufficiently masculine facial features to resemble my idea of Teancum, I am doomed. I’m thinking that a quarter-inch dowel would make a pretty good shaft for his javelin, but I’d have to see the size of his hands to be sure. Thankfully, 99.9% of the male dolls look like teenage girls, at least from the neck up.”

He is planning Date #3; says he: “Have a plan in the works - will take a little time to get it all together - figure to invite you to my house for dinner, also invite [son and d-i-l] and then after dinner [he] and I can be spectators while you and [she] talk ‘dolls’. That way you won't be 100% alone with a single man, and I will have at least two people in my house that are interestingly weird.”

My response? “‘Interestingly weird?’ I can live with that, she says, grinning widely, though naturally I prefer ‘charmingly quirky.’ But I laughed all the way up from my toes, and I thank you for that.”

This is my month to conduct, and I am hoping to stay awake long enough to attend the break-the-fast and potluck which our ward is hosting and at which Bishop is speaking.

I have begun to take apart the red Franklin Covey binder which has been my companion for four years. It is exceedingly well-made, which is why it has lasted so long under hard use. I am hoping to salvage enough leather for doll projects of some sort. It would be cool to figure out how to make professional-quality shoes and/or boots, and replicate some of the ones I have seen online. [Did I mention that I found real toe shoes (ballet shoes for experienced dancers, for those of you who have never worn a tutu) in every color of the rainbow, and I think sized to fit multiple dolls, for just slightly more than I paid for my own black ballet slippers. That would be a fun treat for next year, especially if I made tutus to match. Degas paintings, recreated in resin, for photoshoots.]

Time to grab some breakfast, print off my agenda for conducting RS today, and start getting ready for church.