Watch Out For Those Traps, Booby

My dad used to say that when my brother or I blundered into one of life’s little booby traps.  — like this one.

Where I have this hung, the minute I walk in the door, I see it.  I got it because it’s a good motto, but also it reminded me of a certain four footed housemate. Only, a week ago, where it was hung didn’t matter.  Now it hits a raw place every time I walk in the door and see it.   In case you can’t read the writing, it says “Happy is the house that shelters a friend.”

Then there’s the clock . I painted the tip of the pendulum tail white because it was totally appropriate.

Then, I was FINALLY getting around to putting the lawn chair that has been leaning against the wall in my bedroom for months, into the garage (the back door is conveniently located in my bedroom — !) and when I picked it up, I found this behind it. It’s the second kitty toy I have chanced upon this week, but this one is in much better shape than the other one, which I threw away.  This one I’m keeping.

Monday and yesterday I gathered up the just opened bag of cat food, the two unopened packets of treats, and the one just opened, dishes, brushes, a cat bed, a cat mat, and his Littermaid and schlepped it all out to the car and donated it to a kitty shelter on the way to the pet cemetery and crematorium, which is way the heck out in the country halfway to Slide, to pick up his little cremains, which are slightly too fat for the little container I got for them, but I taped the lid down. . . .

It’s the black one with the gold leopard spots.  If you are familiar with the Peanuts newspaper comic strip, then you know about the rich fantasy life the dog Snoopy had.  I always thought the fat(cat)boy fantasized about being a “jagular” or a leopard.

They’re all there, all five of them.  Yeah, it’s kind of shrine-like, but they were my dear companions for all of 21 years — Shadow for 7 years, Jett for 12 years, Gobi for nearly 16 years, Stormie for 11 years, and Jaks for 10.  There will not be any more for a while.

My mom will be 94 this year, and while she is in full possession of significantly more of her marbles than a lot of people half her age, and is active, with no health problems except that she’s almost 94, that could change in an instant.   Once her situation is inevitably resolved, I hope there will be two more kitties.  That’s what I want to happen anyway.  Heaven knows, there unfortunately is not likely to be any shortage of kitties in need of good homes any time soon.

So I’ve been coping with my loss the way women have traditionally coped since time immemorial. I’ve been cleaning house. I washed bathmats and “guest” towels, and the leopard print beach towels that are covering where my leather furniture is worn on the chair seat edges or scratched on the sofa back.  I neatened my charity men’s hats yarn stash.  (there’s a whole plastic storage tub full of yarn in the closet, too, but that is for ladies’ hats.  That yarn is way too “gay-ly” colored for the men in this part of the country. )

About 9:30 this morning, my other side neighbor plonged on the doorbell and told me there was a leak in the alley by our water meter.  I went to look and it’s like a small spring is flowing forth from one “track” of the tire tracks down the alley and is making a small river.  I called the utility company and they knew about it — It had been going since yesterday, they’d marked it with little flags, and since water is only flowing, not gushing, they will deal with it when they get a “roundtoit.” If not tomorrow or the next day, then some time next week.  In the meantime, we have this river we have to jump to get to the dumpsters.  The important thing is, though, that the leak is before the water meter, not after, so it’s their nickle, not my landlady’s that is flowing down the alley.

I found this and it was too great not to share.  You may not be familiar with the kinetic sculptures of Theo Jensen.  If not follow the link. They are fascinating to watch.    This one is powered not by wind, but by hamster.  The look on the cat’s face is priceless.  The sphere is perforated so the hamster won’t suffocate.  Must be a real trip for the hamster, in both senses of the word. . . .

I started a “sectioned hat” and put a ribbed hem on it.  I want to do another version with a simple ribbed brim, and a smaller purl stripe, but — new rule — I can’t start anything new until I finish all the hats I’ve got started (about 5!). I also need to finish my cousin’s man cowl.

Tomorrow, I need to pay bills, go through my files and shred a bunch of stuff, ford the stream and take the shreddings out to the dumpster, and hang some pictures.  It’s late and I should go to bed so I can get up tomorrow and do that. so I will.  позже*.

*позже = later.


The Best Laid Plans

One nice thing about being retired is that “morning” starts whenever the heck I want it to.  With my strong nocturnal inclinations, today it’s starting at 10:00 pm because I slept all day.  (Another thing about being retired is that I can sleep until I get tired of it.)  Working nights and working from home, as I did for nearly 25 years, has a tendency to isolate you from the day-to-day hustle and bustle and for those of us (like me) who prefer peace and quiet, and a relatively uncluttered life, that’s just as fine as frog hairs. I already had a tendency to live off in my own little world, emerging into the mainstream from time to time as life demanded, even before this dumpster fire of a Presidency. . . .

Since knitting group is on Tuesday night, what generally happens on Tuesdays is I shower and wash my hair.  I know there will be those who are simply shocked by the idea that I don’t wash my hair more than once a week, but I have very fine, fly-away hair, and if I wash it more than twice a week, it stands up and roars, and then it splits and breaks to pieces.  (I have childhood memories of a green Studebaker with woven plastic seat covers, and in the process of sliding across the front seat to get out on the driver’s side — I was too small to work the car door handle by myself — I would pick up enough of a static charge to turn my head into a dandelion clock.*)  I don’t cut my hair either, except to trim the ends now and again;  I never blow dry it, or use a curling iron on it.  I wash it, let it dry in the air, put it in a pony tail, and we get along just fine.

So,  on Tuesday, I shower, wash my hair and get dressed.  Then I strip my bed, and wash the sheets and towels.  When that load has come out of the dryer, I wash a load of clothes — if I have enough for a load, if not, I’ll throw the clothes in with the sheets and towels and do a “full capacity” load.  (It wasn’t until after my father passed that my mother understood why I never did more than two loads of wash in a week.  One person simply doesn’t generate that many dirty clothes.)  I have this nifty little wooden clothes hamper with a cloth insert — it holds just exactly a “regular” washer load.   When it’s full, I pull out the cloth insert, schlep it to the laundry room and dump it out into the washer.   While the clothes are washing, I put the sheets back on the bed.  This time, in addition to the bedspread, I will put a blanket on.  It’s been getting quite nippy lately.

By the time I’ve got the bed made,  it’s just about time to put the clothes into the dryer.  While the clothes are drying, I’ll have a meal.  Then once the clothes are dry, I’ll hang/fold them all up and put the folded clothes away.  (I pull the hang up clothes out of the dryer while they’re still slightly damp and let them hang overnight in the laundry room.  The wrinkles hang right out! )

Once I’ve got the wash done, I’m done adulting for the day (actually, for most of the week) and I can do whatever I like until it’s time for knitting group.

In the course of moving house three times in the past 10 years, I’ve downsized quite a bit.  I’m down to two sets of sheets — the set that’s on the bed and a spare.   I’ve only got two  sets of towels (wash cloth, hand towel, bath towel), one clean and one in use.  On wash day, I throw the used ones in the wash, and move the clean set over ready to be used.  Once the other set is washed, it goes into the “clean” rack.   I have a winter and a summer bedspread (I’m rethinking the winter bedspread and have about decided to give it back to the world in favor of using my all cotton summer bedspread year round and putting a waffle blanket on in winter with the option of adding a second fleece blanket between the spread and waffle blanket if I need it.)

I downsized quite a bit during the move before last — things, stuff and furniture.  This last move, not so much.  I got rid of a set of dishes and glasses this time. I still have way too many dishes and glasses, but the extras look nice in my china cabinet.  I could downsize way more, but at the moment, I’ve got room for what I have.  One thing I learned way too late in life is to periodically go through my things and purge, keeping only those things I actually use and/or really love.

Another thing I’ve learned is not to buy anything that has to be dry cleaned.  If I can’t toss it in the washer, I don’t buy it.  That’s partly because working nights and sleeping days was incompatible with the hours of operation of almost all dry cleaners, and working from home eliminated the need for “work” clothes.  (My washer and dryer work whenever I turn them on, day or night, and I don’t have to leave the house to use them.) It’s also because dry cleaning costs extra, over and above what it costs to buy laundry detergent, dryer sheets, and pay for the power it takes to run the equipment — as well as the gas and wear and tear on the car to convey the clothes to and from the dry cleaner.  And there’s the time factor besides.  Life is just too short, and there are other things I’d rather be doing with my time than keeping up with stuff that’s got to be dry cleaned.

So, now that I’ve had my “breakfast” (two toasted English muffins, one with turkey and Muenster cheese on, one with ham and cheddar cheese on, washed down with Earl Grey hot — nums!), I expect I’ll go and take my bath so my hair will have plenty of time to get good and dry before I go outside.  (Our predicted high today is only 44 F/6.6 C).  I expect I’ll want a jacket when I head off to knitting group.







*The average humidity where I live up here in the flatlands is 44%.  Today it’s 21%.   I have a mister bottle of distilled water by my sink.  I give my hair a light spritz before I comb it each morning.  Otherwise, I will have Rice Krispies hair — Snap! Crackle! Pop!

Tears and Memories

Woke up thinking about my baby girl, who I lost in May of 2015 to renal disease at the all-too-young age of 11.  She was the only survivor of an abandoned litter and was hand raised by a shelter lady.  Consequently, she was a lot more snugly than cats, especially female cats, usually are.  She was Stormalinda Phogg-Phoote, the name was bigger than the cat.  Stormie was never very big, always slender and graceful, agile, gracile, and quick.  She was a climber, and could leap highest of any cat I’ve had.  Sometimes, the (cat) boys would let her up on the bed at night and she would creep into the hollow between my stomach and my body pillow, curl up and sleep there.  I remember how privileged I felt when she did that, and tears slide down my face.  I’m down to one now, the fat(cat)boy, and I wonder how long I’ll be able to keep him before time and the world steal him away from me.   He turned 10 this August.

You may or may not have noticed the Mary Oliver quotation from her poem, “Starlings in Winter”  on the sidebar at right.  Doodlemum is participating in “Inktober” a drawing challenge to post a drawing every day in October, and the picture above was her post for today.  It resonated with me on umpteen levels.  There are days. . . there are days. . . .

In addition to being “Inktober” it’s also “Pinktober,” breast cancer awareness month.  I’m already very aware of it.  Four of the ladies in my knitting group are survivors, all of them have had mastectomies, one of them has had her third recurrence and it is in her bones now.  She’s done a third round of chemo, and now she’s doing radiation therapy to the lesions in the bone.  Three of them have gotten the monster to leave them alone for now.  One of them is still being stalked.  Some of us knit because it keeps us from screaming. . . .

Also in the knitting news, I finished a Little Twisted Hat in fuchsia glitter yarn in honor of Pinktober, and I’m futzing with a mistake in a Carrie Fisher Memorial PussyHat which I have put aside until I simmer down.  I’ve revised the Little Twisted Hat pattern to do the decreases differently, and I like the way it “points” the cables better.

Last night when I got groceries, I got a Super Saver Jumbo skein of Red Heart PINK yarn to make some more pink hats for “Pinktober.”  I went looking for clear glass beads at Michael’s but didn’t find any.  Did find colored star-shaped beads, though and in a way that’s even better.  I have plans for a pink hat with star beads.  There will be a pattern published on my knitting patterns blog . . . eventually.  I’ll have to find one of my small crochet hooks to put them on with.

I’m going to finish that one Malguri Morning shawl today if it harelips the governor, and get both of them in the mail to Spokane ASAP.  I also need to wash a load of clothes. The first item will get done.  The second item may get done.  What I should do is go sit and knit on it in the living room where I can hear the washer and dryer*, start a load of clothes, and knit while I wait for it to be time to put the clothes in the dryer, and then time take them out of the dryer and hang them up.  I should eat something also, so I can have a personal pie** for dessert.  I got two apple ones and two cherry ones when I shopped groceries last night.  Decanted into a dish and zotted in the microwave. . . but apple or cherry? . . . decisions, decisions. . .


* The living room is beside the dining "area"; and at one end of the dining area is the kitchen, and at the other end is the laundry room.
** A two crust fruit pie made in a 5-inch aluminum foil pie tin.

Thor’s Day Afternoon

The French, who were up to their ears in Romans a lot longer than England was, call it “Jeudi” — the day of the Roman god Jupiter.  But because England was all over Angles, and Saxons, and Norse (oh, my!), the English name for the day hearkens back to the Germanic/Norse god Thor.  So today is Thor’s day, rather than Thursday, because Thor and Chris Hemsworth, (not to mention Tom Hiddleston, who is, very . . .), and it’s nice to have a change once in a while.

We had two noteworthy things happen in knitting group, Tuesday.  One, we were saddened to learn that A’s son had passed away unexpectedly.  He was only 53,  and although he did have COPD, it was not that bad.  He lived alone, and a relative found him dead.  A has had a lung transplant, so she has had a number of vicissitudes in her life already.  I think she only had the son and the daughter. VS told us about it.  She is A’s across-the-street neighbor and frequently brings A to knitting group.  Very, very sad.

We were processing this news when a woman walked in and asked if we would be interested in some yarn and knitting needles, which is rather like asking sheep if they would be interested in a pasture of nice thick green grass . . .  “Some” turned out to be two big boxes of yarn and a box of assorted knitting needles. It seems she had been clearing out her late mother’s house, and her mother was a knitter/crocheter (many knitters are ambicraftous and also crochet.  Me, for one.).  This was after KC had “busted” her stash and had brought me a big bag of yarn suitable for hats (which must be done in hypoallergenic acrylic or nylon yarn that has a very soft hand) in trade for five or six sets of circular bamboo needles, and here was a bunch more.  I got some double pointed needles out of the box of assorted knitting needles — several 4-and one 5- needle sets.  (Of course, the minimum needle requirement for knitting is two.)  Our group leader’s church is doing prayer shawls, so they made out like bandits with a large box of perfectly free “save me from this” yarn.

There were six 1.75 oz skeins of lavender “Natura Burlee” yarn which they probably haven’t made in 20 years.  And I rewrote the baby afghan pattern “Sweet Sherbet” for it. I may not have enough of it to complete the project and I may have to find an interposable color to finish it.  We’ll see.  I’ve got a yellow that might work.  KC’s church has a baby afghan project I might donate it to. I’m calling the new pattern “Sherbet Parfait” — seemed reasonable.  Made a nice change from hats.

In the plastic bag that had the lavender yarn was a thin plastic 7-inch ruler which says “St. Labre Indian School, Ashland, Montana.”  The lady did not say where her mother was from.  There’s no telling how the ruler got in the bag.  Or when.

The purple fuzzy hat is in the decreases now to close the top, and I’m going to finish it tonight if it harelips the governor.  No, the purple fuzzy hat is done!


Waltzing into Sunday

It’s from the Suite for Variety Orchestra.  by Dmitri Shostakovich.  It’s a perfectly glorious little waltz. I love the saxophones on the first iteration of the first theme.  He has a little Guy Lombardo vibe going there for just a bit.  My dad used to refer to ballroom dances (waltz, foxtrot, etc.) as “clinch dancing” — no telling where he came up with the term, probably from boxing.  You practically have to be a reenactor to do a proper waltz in public any more (You gotta have the floor length dress with at least three petticoats!) No secret, though, that I do love a good waltz, and this one is as good as any the Strausses could come up with.

While we’re waltzing, this scene from the film Van Helsing, one of the choicer bits from that film (apart from Hugh Jackman in that coat).  Dracula with a cape (and a ponytail!), check.  Grand staircase, check.  Beautiful clothes, check.  And that red dress on Kate Beckinsale, double check with an exclamation point.   And that bit when you see the reflection in the mirror, and she’s dancing all by herself because, of course, mirrors don’t reflect vampires.  If I don’t already have a copy of that film, I may just have to get one. . .

And even though this next one is a musical repeat, watching Bert Lancaster and a very young Sean Bean waltz, and getting an eyeful of Alain Delon . . .  It’s a mix of scenes from movies The Leopard (Il Gattopardo) by Luchino Visconti from 1963. Anna Karenina by Maurizio Millenotti from 1997, Anna Karenina by Joe Wright from 2013, Fanfan & Alexandre by Alexandre Jardin from 1993, War and Peace TV series from 2007, The Young Victoria by Jean-Marc Vallée from 2009, and The Waltz of Dagmara and Artur (their first wedding dance) from 2011.

And while we’re talking Russian waltzes, here’s Sergei Prokofiev’s Cinderella Waltz.

And from Aram Khachaturian, the waltz from his Masquerade suite.

Did you think I’d leave out Tchaikovsky? Perish forbid!  No, it’s not one of the ones you’ve heard hundreds of times.  Bet you’ve never heard this one before!  Lovely violin!