About Me

My photo
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!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Someday my prints will come.

I ordered three today. A calligraphy piece by Bianca Cash, an Australian artist. Two by Jack Vettriano, who painted "The Singing Butler," which I have loved and wanted for years. Beloved liked it, too. It was the subject of an extended, mischievous, and chaste but flirtatious discussion, early on.  So having a copy in the house will remind me of my sweetheart's joie de vivre.

Next week is going to be Christmas nearly every day. The Shiwoo should arrive over the weekend. I've alerted building security in case it shows up tomorrow. The Vettrianos should be here around Friday. I don't expect the package from Australia to arrive until the following week. And then I get to go nuts picking out mats and frames. I love that stuff!

Nearly done with the first back on Mel's doll sweater. And discovered a cabling mistake on the front that will require my frogging back about an inch to fix it. It's a subtle error, easily missed, but it bugs me, so out it comes. After I finish the back, because I've decided to try a three needle bind-off at the shoulders.

Will be trying the opera again this season, with Firstborn. Am hoping that all the weight loss and exercise will have sufficiently improved my mobility that I can sit in a cramped space for the duration.

Tomorrow begins a weekend of hard work and hilarity. I'm borrowing Fourthborn, a compressor, and a nail gun. We are going to paint and otherwise knock things off my honey-do list. I'm hoping that when I take her home, the hall will be essentially done, and the carpet will be gone in the living room.

A girl can dream. And this one's going to bed shortly.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Almost 40.

No, I haven't found a magical age-reversing machine. I am nearly 40 pounds down. Without dieting, starving myself, or becoming an exercise anorexic. Just a few simple changes to my diet, and gentle exercise on a regular basis. I'm still learning how much to eat, how often, and in what proportions. Obviously, the Metformin helps.

Today it all worked out pretty evenly. Irish oatmeal for breakfast, with half and half and a bit of Demerara sugar. Way less than I would have used in the bad old days. A little later, some orange juice. Lots of water. At lunch, some of my black bean and Ro-tel soup with the last of the taco meat stirred in. And a bowl of watermelon/avocado/mint/feta salad. Late afternoon? Pistachios and Craisins. More water. Several sticks of sugar free gym throughout the day. Enough that when I grabbed an Arby's on the way to Costco, my jaw ached. So, maybe a little too much gum, chewed a little too vigorously. Oye to the veh.

The fridge and pantry are restocked. And all without having to deal with the Saturday shoppers. I would rather have a mammogram than go to Costco on a Saturday.

The front of Mel's doll sweater is done, with the ends all woven in. I did that at lunch today. I'd like to find my box of DP's  so I could leave the front on the needle until it's time to do a three needle bind-off at the shoulders. I may have to settle for running a doubled strand of silk thread through the stitches for now, so I may get the backs cast on.

That's all I've got for you tonight. The recycling is out. I have a bag that will go into the trash and out to the street tomorrow morning.

Time to take my Metformin. Good night,  Gracie!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

I bought the Shiwoo

But I did not buy the B&G. Alternate song title: Shiwoo(s) in Mysterious Ways. Yes, I have bought another doll, this one from Middlest, who was recently laid off and could use your prayers and positive thoughts.

(B&G is a doll line.) Shiwoo is one of the Fairyland sculpts; my little Grace is a Pukifee Shiwoo, I think the smallest size they make in this sculpt. She is getting an older brother, a bit shorter than Honor and the Adamelli twins.

Middlest texted to say that my check had arrived and that He Who Is Yet to Be Named will go out on the mail as soon as he has eyes, boxers, and a pattern for a sporran. He is currently bald, blind, and naked. I bought a pair of eyes, and Middlest is sending a second pair in the package. Wigs for boy dolls are pretty uninspiring unless one is into anime or emo. And I am neither. He might be bald for awhile.

This means that I am going to have to knit another miniature Christmas stocking from the cream Noro. I think I have just enough.

It's been an interesting week. I hung the new picture of the Savior in the hall. I had tried the one that was hanging by the front door. It's Del Parson's smiling Christ and I think called "Christ's Love". I had never seen it before the night Beloved first cooked for me. And it makes me happy every time I see it, both for the subject matter and the associated memories. But the new wall color in the hall clashed horribly.

I had had the inspiration that it would be lovely to see the Savior smiling at me whenever I walked down the hall toward my room.

The new painting is not a "feel good" painting. It's a "remember and ponder" painting. Which is why I bought it in the first place, because the connection was deep and instantaneous. But it does not convey that sense of "Oh good. You're home. I've missed you." that the first one does.

Maybe it's a good thing to be reminded that, much as I love my life and the house my husband gave me, I have a long way to go before I am Home.

The work continues. I have the west walls and the south wall masked in the north-south hall, and the north wall masked in the east-west hall. And the paint bought for walls and ceiling. And a goodly number of new switch plates installed. Fourthborn is spending next weekend with me, and I hope to see the hall mostly finished and the carpet ripped up in the living room.

One door frame in the hall needs a new piece of vertical molding. The sill of the double doors that hold the water heater needs to be replaced. I don't know if we'll get to repainting the doors to various rooms.

I have the hardware to replace the recalcitrant doorknob on my bedroom door. It locked me out on Friday night. The nerve! Thankfully my phone was with me on the outside, and Squishy was both willing and able to help. (No more hangers on the doorknob. That's going to be a hard habit to break.) I think eventually I will be replacing all of the doorknobs with French-door style levers. They're prettier, and I think perhaps better suited to this aging body.

I finished the front of Mel's doll sweater this morning and am in the process of designing the backs. Rather than the saddle shoulder I used when making the sweater for Middlest's doll, I am planning to use a three needle bind-off.

I had really wanted to get some painting done yesterday, but after all the up and down on the stepstool to mask the edges, my feet and ankles had had enough.

I think this is all the news that's fit to print.

Sunday, August 10, 2014


Probably stirred up by cleaning out the third bookcase. Lots of dust. And a surprising amount of Gracie fur that had sifted in behind the notebooks. I started sneezing on Friday. I am the new sacrament meeting chorister. Church is in six hours. And I don't think these people have ever heard me sneeze.

I sneezed during my mechanical drawing final, my senior year in high school, and almost all of the guys jumped so hard that they snapped the lead on their pencils. Definitely not something you want to hear during moments of reverence and quiet contemplation. (Although there would likely be less, or less audible, cussing in reaction.)

So I went on the hunt. Somewhere in this house is a Ziploc with the last of the Mucinex. What I came up with, under Beloved's sink, were two tabs of Alavert. After researching possible drug interactions, and getting multiple reassurances that I would not keel over, I took one. It's not supposed to make me drowsy.

Wish me luck.

In other news, the bookcase is emptied, dusted, and moved. I had just enough painter's tape to mask off the area above my studio door and the east wall of the hall. It felt great to go to bed last night with that accomplished.

I've cleared most of the bags out of the living room. The largest but not heaviest will go to church with me. Squishy will get the last two after I get home from Empty Nesters tomorrow night. And that will be that until the next batch.

Because I'm in this for the long haul, and there is always going to be another batch.  However, I have a functional bathroom, and the dining room looks great except for the quilt block clutter. I hope to deal with that sometime today.

(Painting a wall counts as "labor" in my book. Not so much the actual painting, but I haven't done the cutting-in. Cutting-in has a high PITA factor.) Sewing a quilt block doesn't seem like work to me. And is therefore Sabbath-appropriate. At least in my world. Whereas sewing together an entire quilt block would probably be work.

Hrmm. This is beginning to sound like "you can only walk so many steps on the Sabbath before it turns into work and you're going to hell". I might want to rethink this. As I'm sewing the quilt block?

One hour. No sneezing. This could work.

I've commented before that I have an impressive collection of cookbooks, because everyone needs a rich fantasy life, and I like to keep mine G-rated. Last night I brought home a book on home management. It is wonderfully well-written. Except for my teenage years, I've never felt that housework was beneath me. I have frequently felt that it was beyond me.

On the trip to Nauvoo, one of the sisters commented about how we women base our self-esteem on how our house looks and how our children behave. I cracked that I must be a man in drag.

Housework has been both a battle of wits against the forces of entropy and a lifelong battle of wills with my mother (even 16 years after her passing), who quite reasonably expected me to be a participating member of the household, while I wanted to read or play or daydream.

Chores were something to be gotten through. I learned the mechanics, but I never gained a testimony of housekeeping. I read Daryl Hoole's books on the domestic arts, and she might as well have been speaking Sanskrit. I bought "Sidetracked Home Executives" and made the index cards. But I rapidly reached the point where there were more people making messes than there were cleaning them up, and everything fell apart. For years. I would feel frustrated and guilty and depressed, and I would make forays into order. The good guys would win for awhile, and then *meh*.

This woman (Cheryl Mendelson) and her book (Home Comforts: The Art and Science of Keeping House) make sense to me. It's a huge book, 894 pages. And it's written for rank beginners as well as seasoned homemakers.

That clean, fresh scent? Hope.

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

The end is near.

No, I am not in doomsday mode. I am about this [    ] far from emptying the third bookcase. And I needed to take a little break before tackling the last few notebooks.

I had a moment of stark incomprehension before placing the five dutch oven cookbooks into the bag for Squishy and his brothers. One of those times when I realize how much there is to know about a seemingly simple topic. And how different Beloved's interests and mine could be. It truly does take all kinds to make a world. Or a universe. I'll be in charge of nakedness prevention. Beloved can be in charge of feeding the hordes.

I do miss that man. Today, rather fiercely. But I wouldn't call it loneliness. Just feeling the connection. Sorting this particular bookcase has been more time consuming and thought provoking, because the others have been mostly filled with books. This one has had notebook after notebook. Training manuals. Resumes. Genealogy. Personal information that has needed to be delegated or shredded.

I am almost there. And a little worn out from the tenderness. (I certainly haven't been working hard enough to break a sweat.) So I think I will knit for a few minutes, and read for a few more, and then take a short nap. And then maybe I can wrangle the last couple of notebooks, move the empty bookcase, and start painting a wall or two.

Monday, August 04, 2014

Adventures in sundry places.

Arkansas, Thursday night and Friday morning

Freight train broke down on the line ahead of us. We sat for over an hour, not far beyond Texarkana. Power went off a couple of times but only for a few minutes each time.

We sat again in Little Rock, for who knows how long. At 3:16 am we started moving. I still hadn't slept. Stopped again. I dozed for maybe half an hour. Two freight trains rolled by. [This train I'm riding is 21 coaches long. (Not.) Thank you, Worried Man Blues.]

Missouri, most of Friday

The Mississippi, at St. Louis, is huge. And dirty. Impressive only for scale and not for grandeur. Apparently it's prettier when viewed from the observation deck on the upper level.

Breakfast was tasty. Overpriced, but tasty.

At this point we were running about four hours behind. I had zero interest in sightseeing. I wanted a shower, and clean clothing, and a minimum of five hours of unbroken sleep. In no particular order.

South St. Louis is full of the little old houses that I love. And I had "St. Louis Blues" looping in my head. I thought you should know.

Illinois, Friday afternoon

It was evident as we crossed the river that Illinois is doing much better than Missouri.

By the time we got to Springfield, we were six hours behind. The Amtrak trains are slotted around the freight trains. So the problem with that first train just kept snowballing. We bagged all the carefully planned sightseeing in favor of heading straight for the British pageant.

At Springfield I had been up for 33 hours, more or less. When we arrived at Nauvoo, it had been 37 hours. (By the time I got to bed it was closer to 40.) Lots of food and/or snacks.

The Mississippi is a whale of a lot more impressive at Nauvoo.

The British pageant was lovely. I just peeled out of the support hose I put on under my jeans yesterday. Happy ankles.

I. Am. So. Tired.

Carthage and Nauvoo, Saturday

I had so many spiritual experiences that it will take me weeks to process them. Observing the dungeon cell where Joseph and the others spent some time before being moved upstairs. Looking out the window through which he fell after he was shot. Visiting the Smith family cemetary.

We saw the Nauvoo pageant Saturday night, after catching the final session in the temple. Sharing a house and a shower with eight women was surprisingly peaceful.

Nauvoo, Sunday morning
Nauvoo is a small town of 1100 people, when it's not tourist season. From April through October, there are 800 missionaries and who knows how many visitors. The Visitors Center is lovely, quiet, and impressive. I stood at the feet of the Christus statue replica and pondered. And again at the foot of another marble portraying the First Vision. Beautiful, moving, inspired work. I cannot comprehend the talent that goes into making that kind of art.

There is nothing like singing "Praise to the Man Who Communed with Jehovah" in Nauvoo First Ward. Nothing.

Amtrak, Sunday afternoon and overnight
Nowhere near as exhausting as the trip up. My take-aways? I like riding on the train, per se, although it took me two or three days at home before I didn't feel as if I were still on the train, when I closed my eyes in the shower. Very discombobulating. I still have the cross-Canadian railway trip on my bucket list, but if I go it will be with a sleeper car reservation. When I go to Nauvoo again, and I will, I will fly or drive. The food on Amtrak is surprisingly good. Not gourmet by any stretch of the imagination, but far better than I expected. Support stockings under jeans are adequate for the prevention of exploding ankles. Traveling with nearly two dozen people is not crazy-making. I would do that again. The trip was well-planned, and any glitches were not the fault of the planners. I was wise to take the extra day off.