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!

Friday, February 28, 2014

Learning to communicate with the banjo.

Got up around the usual time and went to the gym. Fifteen minutes on the recumbent bike, followed by half an hour of walking around Wally World, trying to find sweatpants in my size. No luck there, but I came home with a new pair of jeans for work and a pair of purple slacks.

I need to leave again in an hour. Driving to Arlington to meet Firstborn for a funeral, then picking up Fourthborn for quilt club. My block exists only in my head, so I will be paying for the next kit.

I am having dinner tonight with some of the local widows and widowers.

Banjo practice last night went reasonably well. I am starting to remember approximately where to put my fingers for D7 and C chords. One or two of the rolls are relatively easy. My teacher told me not to get too dependent on the tablature. I told him my preferred method of playing the piano is to use the sheet music to learn what it's supposed to sound like, and to build muscle memory as quickly as possible. I'm not worried about speed at this point. I just want to make the notes correctly and smooth out the transitions.

Time just dissolves when I'm practicing.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Wow.

First banjo lesson was aMAZing. Heaven's fingerprints are all over this.

I am back from the gym already. Ten minutes on the treadmill. Zero stress, but still movement in the right direction. At this writing, I am sweating mushrooms in a little butter and olive oil. They will be joined by masses of raw spinach while I am in the shower. And I think a smoothie may also happen.

(It did.) I also fried up the lean ground beef in the same pan with a generous splash of Worcestershire sauce. Some of it joined the spinach and mushrooms in my bowl. Not a conventional breakfast, perhaps, but delicious. And one I hope will stick with me for awhile.

My house smells heavenly. And I used up the strawberries and mushrooms before they went bad.

I'm keeping a food diary for the next couple of weeks, to discuss with my trainer when we meet again.

Going to the temple tonight but will only nip in and do a few initiatories. I am out every night this week, and Saturday is pretty full. I need to do laundry, and I want to make music.

Speaking of which, Mel bought herself a purple violin. We are looking forward to chamber music together.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Just checking in.

I think this is going to be one of those short weeks made up entirely of long days.

Met with the trainer on Monday night. We have roughed out a plan. Yesterday I participated in Sarah's class for 15-20 minutes and spent the rest of the time sitting on a stability ball. I left halfway through the class. Too many tools to put away, and an interesting emotional reaction which I am trying to puzzle out. My legs were like egg beaters, and I could barely walk all day.

This morning I spent ten minutes on the recumbent bike. Far easier on my body, and I worked out some of the kinks from yesterday.

One of the things the trainer said was that I was not eating enough food. I am too frugal to throw away the fun stuff, so I am incorporating small amounts with the healthier food. Packing my lunch has been a real challenge this week. I'm hoping that today I'm a little closer to getting it right. I have a framework now: X calories per day, Y grams of protein, Z grams of carbohydrates.

Knit happened yesterday, but nowhere near enough. I got distracted by one of Fourthborn's comic book anthologies.

Doctor says no need to test my blood sugar these first three months. A packet of information was waiting for me when I got home last night.

Tonight is my first banjo lesson.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

I had fun yesterday.

Made a chicken pot pie for the elders. Made leek and potato soup for me, with a chicken breast thrown in and the rest of the frozen mixed vegetables and a generous snipping of chives. Can't wait for leftovers.

Restrung Sarah's bracelet that her youngest jerked on and broke. Finished a lengthy reading (six chapters) for Preach My Gospel and contemplated how they were interconnected.

Signed up at the gym. It's twice as expensive as the one in Fort Worth, but I can wear what I please in the pool, and they provide towels. The lockers work with my membership card, so I don't need to find my gym bag with the lock I used in Arlington or Fort Worth. I still want to hunt up my swimsuit. Maybe. I have an appointment tomorrow night with a trainer who has expertise on how to work around diabetes.

I had a blast at the dance. Jody's decorations were amazing. DJ was a joy as always. I got to visit with several friends. I danced two line dances, one slow dance with a dear old friend*, and another one or two in a herd of ladies.

*I asked him to save me a slow one. When I heard one I liked, I walked over and said, "Come dance with the Widow Ravelled." He snorted and complied.

Does this mean I will go to the next dance in my stake? Not only no... and I am skipping tonight's fireside in Arlington, even though he's one of my favorite speakers. I don't have another round trip in me just yet. I will go to Mel and Squishy's to watch the final episode of Downton Abbey.

That's all the news that's fit to print.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

And there are crickets in my Promised Land.

Fortunately, I am friends with the seagulls.

I had my well woman a couple of weeks ago. Most indicators are right where we want them. Triglycerides are a little elevated. Fixable with incorporating more movement into my life. Glucose has been higher than normal the last two times blood was taken. (Back in December when I had that second kidney infection, and at my well woman.)

More blood work on Tuesday. My A1c, which measures glucose over a period of time, was 7. Non-diabetics have 6.5 or less. Diabetics should have 7 or less. A friend at work who is diabetic and well-controlled says that's not very diabetic. More like borderline. I picked up my Rx last night and have taken the first dose.

I will be requesting the diabetes educational package from my health insurance. I have a followup appointment booked for May. I will continue with massage. In a little while I will put on my big girl (yoga) pants and go sign up at the gym.

And tonight, after the drive-by fooding of the missionaries, I just might go to the dance in Arlington. No, Moroni has not shown up on my front step in tap shoes. My favorite DJ is in charge of the music, and I'm calling it doctor's orders.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

I am living in my Promised Land.

That thought occurred to me last night. When the Children of Israel arrived after 40 years, their labors were not over. When the Mormon pioneers got to the Salt Lake valley, they had to make it habitable. When I came to Texas with the children's father, a five month old Firstborn, a '66 Dodge, a 6'x12' U-Haul trailer, four gas credit cards, and $15 in cash, we were still lacking four children and some major life skills.

The past 35 years have been most instructive. I have learned how to say No. And mean it. I have seen how small, correct choices can reap big blessings. (I have a 401K. It holds more than $29.95. I am out of debt. Three times.)

Before I married Beloved, the only element of my life that was lacking, was the love of a good man. I was peacefully and blessedly single. I was a functional adult. My life had beauty, meaning, and dignity.

And now? My life is expanding and increasing. Opening my heart to Beloved has blessed me in so many ways. The sheer bliss of being equally yoked. Pillow talk. The joy of serving him during the last months of his mortal existence. (Yes, it was exhausting and demanding. But he was not.) The privilege of loving a man so good, and missing him so much, and experiencing a grief wildly different from that for my father and my mother.

I do not know the shape of my life to come. But I do know that Heaven is shaping me. That by grace I am uncovering more of who I am, discovering the next steps of my journey along the Iron Rod.

This house is not my eternal home. Texas is not the end of the trail, any more than Canaan or Utah. This body will die and be resurrected. Again in the flesh I will see God, and all the people I have loved and lost. There are no burning bushes in my yard (at least not since Beloved used a flamethrower to weed the back fence).

But I have no doubt that I'm where I'm supposed to be.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Pinky and the (Right) Brain

In which your intrepid heroine learns how to hold a book open with one hand and take a picture with the other. My Igor is a little more plump than Pablo's Igor. And that's OK. This was my second attempt to do this exercise, and it went far better than the first. If you look carefully you can probably see the earlier attempt in the lower right corner of the page. I am still learning how to use the kneaded eraser, and I'm too frugal to just rip the page out of the sketchbook.

I had a blast last night. I took my time, and I like the results. I copied a second drawing that I like even better. The next exercise might be harder: I'm to try to draw a picture the way I would have when I was a small child. It has been an eon since I was a small child. I can already feel my left brain grumbling and whining.

Left brain was not a happy camper last night. It is not a good sport. At all. Left brain would like me to stick with calligraphy and simple color mooshes on watercolor paper. It doesn't mind knitting, because knitting is mathy, and math is another language, and left brain speaks algebra fluently. (Or did.) Left brain is not happy with geometry, because geometry is perilously close to art, and our geometry teacher was the JV basketball coach. And should have stuck to coaching. Hrm. Another teacher I should probably work on forgiving.

So when I was done drawing last night, I knitted for a (very) few minutes in order to relax my hands and pacify my poor ignored left brain. And then I slept like a rock, even though I was drawing in my dreams, stitching my brain back together.

I am taking off early today to get the blood work done while I'm in town for Knit Night. And then I get to play with Fourthborn and friends. Sounds like an Rx for a good day.

Monday, February 17, 2014

New bishopric at church.

Another seamless transition. Former bishop had been serving for five and a half years. One of his counselors is the new bishop. The other counselor is released to sit with wife and kids during sacrament meeting. The new bishop's counselors are great guys. It was easy to raise my hand to sustain them.

Some of you may not know that we do not have a paid ministry in the church. Just as I was called out of the congregation to serve as Relief Society president when I lived in Fort Worth, all teachers and leadership are called by inspiration and serve until the Lord has somebody else in mind to serve in that calling. The only compensation any of us receive is the love, faith, prayers, patience, and cooperation of our brothers and sisters in the congregation.

There isn't money enough in the world to pay someone to serve as bishop, stake president, RS president, or in my case, Primary worker. Sometimes we struggle to understand why we have a particular calling or how best to serve in that calling. Sometimes we may wonder why someone is serving in a particular calling, especially if they are breaking hearts rather than healing them.

I've had bishops who were obviously inspired when it came to me and mine. I've never had one I felt was just phoning it in. I've certainly had one or two who stepped on my pride. (You'll notice that I'm still here, in the church.) I've had a couple who exercised tough love with our family, and I bless their names.

With almost every calling comes an eventual release. The prophet would be one exception. The stake patriarchs would be another. These good brothers will juggle heavy church responsibilities with employment and family life. They will be stretched and shaped by the hand of God. Their lives will never be the same. And they, and we, will be all the better for it.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Best V-day in a long time.

Naturally, it would have been better had Beloved been here, well and whole. But failing that it was close to perfection. Mellow surprised all the ladies at work: small bouquets of roses for all the support staff, a single rose for all the female lawyers. Pure class, that boy.

My valentines were well-received.

I had a blast at Jody's party. Strengthened old friendships, made new ones, and made a lot of people laugh. Note to self: meat simmered in broth tastes way better than in oil. This was an innovation I liked!

Got a lot of little piddly stuff done yesterday. Have done the bare minimum of puttering this morning. Have some ideas jotted down for an art quilt or a painting. Read an old Conference talk due to a link on a friend's FB post. Confirmed my impressions for the quilt.

I posted a picture of Bright Lights Big City on Friday. Hard to believe that quilt is ten years old.

My carefully arranged spreadsheet for keeping the areas of my life in balance fell apart when Lorelai was in the shop. I've started picking up those threads again. I need to incorporate more movement into each day. I've made progress but not as much as I want.

The numbers are back from my well woman, and they are mostly good. However: triglycerides are up for the first time in years. Exercise would help. Glucose needs to be retested. I will try to get that done on Tuesday before Knit Night. Exercise would help there as well. I am hoping that once I know what I'll be earning in the next year, there will be sufficient for a gym membership. If not, I will need to get creative about how and where to exercise.

Living room looks really great with all the flooring stacked neatly in front of the TV. I found new homes for more stuff this weekend. And the post-Christmas clutter is almost all resolved.

The organizing cubes my friend Polley gave me a couple of months ago are now tucked inside the armoire that Scuba left behind when they moved into their new house. (There is now a sad pile of stuff that I pitched onto the floor in order to make room for the cubes. One step forward, two steps back.)

I need to get a bunch more clear plastic shoeboxes and divide up my quilt fabric by color, as it was ten years ago. Since then the shoeboxes have been liberated to hold other things, and the fabric collection has suffered.

I am happy. I feel peaceful. And I would like a nap before church, but there's no time.

Friday, February 14, 2014

I'd like to figure out...

...why my ankles get so unhappy when I'm in the temple. I don't know if it's dinner in the cafeteria beforehand, or sitting quietly for a couple of hours. The swelling went down overnight, but in the hour I've been awake they have blown up again. Not fun.

I've had a good week at work. Another great session in the temple last night. Am still crazy about Valentines Day. I meant to pass out my valentines after everyone else had left last night, but I was too excited about going to the temple, and it slipped my mind.

I could use a two hour nap in the next 15 minutes. I woke an hour ahead of the alarm again. And I feel mostly great, although I wouldn't mind exchanging my ankles for what's behind Door Number Three.

Going to my friend Jody's tonight for fondue and friendship. My contribution, two bags of marshmallows, is already out  on the front seat of the car. Along with the knitting project that I didn't want to risk moving.

This is a day for my reddest red T-shirt and my rock star pants. I wish I still had my red metal filigree heart earrings. They were inexpensive but so much fun.

Valentines Day? Bring it on!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Lorelai is quiet and happy again.

My checkbook is not, but as I posted on FB last night, I didn't have to go into debt or pull money from my 401K to make it so. My savings accounts will recover.

I mailed off my amended return for 2012 last night. I had a nice but too-brief visit with Squishy while we were getting Lorelai home. And my first-ever talk with Tola when I was home and the dust had settled.

I did spend some time before work yesterday emptying that box and rearranging shelves in two bookcases. I think I might like the forsythia where I put them. I think I might like them even better if I hauled one of my ladderback chairs out of the garage and inserted it between the vase and the floor.

Done. Picture to follow on FB.

I kept the "queen chair" when I gave two chairs to Fourthborn after marrying Beloved. It was just a little different from the others that I painted and re-rushed when we moved to Arlington in 1993. And woe be unto the child who sat in the queen chair!

OK: I have puttered. I have blogged. Time to get ready for the job that funds my life.

Sunday, February 09, 2014

$142

That's the amount from the amended 2012 return that will be credited against my 2013 return. Way better than a poke in the eye.

The new part for Lorelai didn't make it to the shop as early as they had hoped. She should be good as new sometime today. (For what I am paying, she had better be!) This complicates my day. Do I leave early and get her home, then drive to Arlington for Knit Night? Do I tell the shop, "See you tomorrow?" I want my Tuesday fix with Fourthborn.

I worked on valentines last night. The new cowl is finished. The laundry is caught up. I have no idea what to knit next. None. I think I will go empty a box of books which recently surfaced and see if that clears my head.

Work is going reasonably well. I got there yesterday to discover that one of the secretaries was gone. And nobody knows why. She's one of the reasons I'm a good legal secretary. So we were all a little jumpy. And four secretaries now have heavier workloads. (I'm not one of them.) I'm getting more comfortable with the electronic filing, but I'm still not allowed to fly solo, except that I got to file a bunch of vacation letters on my own yesterday. The courts are still trying to act like their own petty fiefdoms, which is frustrating. But overall it's now a faster process to get a file stamped document back from them.

I am feeling a little out of sync this morning. Not sad. Not ill. Not depressed. Not worried. (All of which is good.) Just a little "off". Which is what I think I will do to the radio, even though I am enjoying the music. And then I will go tackle that box.

Brian Kershisnik

That's the artist I learned about on Thursday night. You should google him. My phone finally let me connect to his website. And there are several of his giclees I want. The one that Sarah showed me is his Nativity. It is breathtaking.

It's going to be awhile before the one I've chosen, comes home to me. Lorelai needs a $600 repair to pass safety inspection. Power steering pressure hose.  My mechanic says: next car? Toyota or Honda, because there are widely available aftermarket parts. If she needs another big ticket repair in the next four years, I will reluctantly just sell her, as-is.

I am repeating to myself: it's not a car payment. It's not a car payment. It's not a car payment. But my planned trip to Utah might have to be postponed until next year. I am hoping that I won't have to back out of my Nauvoo trip and lose my deposit. I was expecting a nice tax refund refund this year but instead may have to pay a slightly larger amount than the expected refund.

The actual out of pocket will depend on the refund from filing an amended return for 2012. So I need to do the amended return, file an extension with an estimated payment of the difference, and wait for the refund to be applied to this year's return.

I am not worried about the money, because this is not 1996, when the AG's office forgave the children's father's judgment on defaulted student loans and 1099'd us, raising our tax bite to two-thirds of that year's gross income! One of the credit card companies has forgiven the balance and 1099'd Beloved. (Texas law prohibits them from attaching a lien to our homestead, the only significant asset of his estate.) It stinks that half of that balance was actually owed by one of his sons. I know better than to ask him to pay half of the tax bite.

If worse comes to worst, I will pull money from my 401K to pay the taxes. But I'm pretty sure that if I budget effectively, that won't be necessary. Which means that I will probably have to hold off on banjo lessons until I know about my raise and bonus. I'm not expecting much of either, as last year was a difficult and frustrating one at work, and it will be reflected in my final performance review next month.

I may need to hold off on banjo camp as well. Hope not.

All of this could be seriously crabbifying, except for the calm assurance that comes from being a full tithe-payer. I don't know how it will all work out. I just trust that it will, better than anyone could reasonably expect.

Friday, February 07, 2014

New processes.

I woke half an hour ahead of the alarm this morning. Grabbed Preach My Gospel and reread the selections of scripture I had read yesterday, this time making notes in my journal as I went. Then an exercise from Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. Ate some tater tots washed down with milk.

The spreadsheet is helping me to touch all the things I feel impressed to work on, with some degree of regularity. I am feeling a little more balanced. Last night's massage was mostly a tuneup. Hands a bit sore from Wednesday night's music practice. But my shoulders were nearly as relaxed at the beginning of the massage as they used to be at the end of one. And when I was telling Sarah about the impressions and experiences I've had since the last one, the Spirit bore witness to me that these impressions are true and may be trusted.

She told me about an artist whose painting really moves her. While I was dressing, she called the friend who has a copy and got the name and looked it up. I'll share that another time. For now I'll just say that I liked it, too, and was reminded of Chagall.

We had snow yesterday. It was just starting as I walked out to the car. Little powdery flurries that swirled on the roadway as we all whooshed along. It only got bad as I got closer to downtown. And it snowed most of the day. I love that my phone wallpaper shows the weather. Just magical! There were some slick spots on the drive home, especially by the house. Also on the way to Sarah's. I drove back home between 20 and 30 miles per hour. Hardly anyone was on the road at that point.

The cowl is nearly done. The ball of yarn is smaller than my fist. I will be a little sad when this is done, as it's been so enjoyable.

I am suddenly ravenous. If I hurry, I can get a hot chocolate on my way to work.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Stamps? Check!

Pink for the valentines. "Celebrate" for the birthdays. Ray Charles for the handful of bills I still pay via snailmail and for general correspondence.

Lots of fun at Knit Night. Safe to-ing and fro-ing. Massive amounts of knitting. And a good night's sleep except for waking up in the middle of the night after kicking most of my covers off. I nearly joined the frozen chosen.

Interesting developments with my tax return. Not a problem, exactly. I think it's going to be a great story when the details all shake out. Just grateful that I'm not where I was financially, 18 years ago.

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Not done, but progress.

I got my printer to cooperate. It's been sitting in time out for the past few months. Printed off a page of return address labels that was almost right. Tweaked the template a little and tried again. Then I labeled almost six dozen envelopes. I also created the valentines mailing list. I think the next step will be to make a bajillion little bows, using a dinner fork and the technique I learned from a YouTube video. I'll start with one.

The knitting is barreling along. My ball of yarn is visibly smaller each night when I go to bed. There's a decent chance of finishing it tonight.

I need to pick up stamps after work, and then pick up Fourthborn, and then dinner. But right now I'm full as a tick.

Sunday, February 02, 2014

Fixing stuff.

I removed the broken link to my future banjo teacher's video and have posted it separately.

Yesterday was golden. We picked up our quilt blocks. Went to the museum. Grabbed burgers for lunch. I ran my souvenir postcard over to Hobby Lobby and picked up a mat and a frame. It's all put together and waiting for me to attach the screw-eyes and wire. I ran out of time before making the sandwiches for the ward social. Half of them got eaten. I bought the survivors home and will pick them off over the next few days.

I had a blast at the social. Ate some soup and half a sandwich. Visited with friends. Made new ones. Watched the kids hula hoop. And left after a little over an hour, tired and happy. I was in bed around 8:00, up at 1:00, and back to bed around 2:30, waking around 8:00. I got some good exercise yesterday and just the right amount of time spent with others.

Golden.

My plans for today include finishing my studies for church, finishing the valentines, watching Downton Abbey at Mel and Squishy's, and lots of happy knitting. I read the Sunday School lesson yesterday before leaving the house, but I didn't really study it. And I need to see if the RS president has indicated the topic for today's lesson. She's very good about posting it on the ward RS's FB page and sending via email.

Looking forward to a spiritually and emotionally satisfying day.

Vivaldi link

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=npkPcaa7gS4&feature=youtube_gdata_player

Saturday, February 01, 2014

Vivaldi + Banjo = Happiness

I have removed the broken link and will post the video separately.

I finally got around to buying a strap for my banjo last night. And it looks like I will be going to banjo camp later this year.

In other news, I stocked up at Costco last night and still spent less than $100. And I've passed the halfway point on my cowl. I think I was in bed a little after 8:30. Which meant I was up again at 2:30.

Today we pick up our quilt block kits, and then we are going to the Dallas Museum of Art to see the Hopper drawings. The kids will go home, and I will make sandwiches for tonight's ward social. I actually want to attend. Last year I just dropped off my contributions or left early. This year I want to be sociable.

I am wearing lipstick again. Life is good.