bunrab: (me)
Best money saved this year: Medicare paid entirely for replacing my defibrillator in August - my entire copays were less than my deductible anyway; compare that to last year's nonsense with the anesthesiologist who wouldn't accept insurance.  Best money spent this year: the extravagant glasses frames. Well, extravagant by my standards, anyway - not ridiculous $700 designer frames, or frames with real gemstones, or nonsense like that, but still, well over $200 instead of my usual pick from the $99-and-under section. Even online, these frames cost over $200, in places where there are $10 frames available. But the compliments make me feel good, and that makes me happy. Yes, it's vanity.

Most fun I had this year that I'm willing to discuss in a family-friendly online forum: going to the International Quilt Show in Houston - it had been ten years since the last time I made it to that, before we left Texas.The trip included seeing old friends and good food, too, and the rest of the stay in Texas gave me time to catch up with Steve's remaining relatives. Least fun this year: my oldest sister passed away yesterday. Cancer. She was a year older than me. We weren't close - her life in Alaska and her deep involvement with fundamentalist religion kept us from talking often or having much to talk about - but still, you know, family. She is survived by 8 children and numerous grandchildren.

Stuff I accomplished: finished several quilts, including some that have been pending since before I left Texas. Got out the Christmas tree and decorated it without crying too much over memories. Worked out a few things with the boyfriend so we could get more deeply involved. Gave an awful lot of stuff to Goodwill. Stuff I didn't quite finish: clearing out the dining room so that two people can comfortably eat a normal meal there - haven't emptied the sideboard enough to sell it yet. Opening all the boxes from storage - there's still half a dozen boxes of stuff unopened, and about a dozen boxes I opened, but they're full of paper I still need to sort through. Still, that's an improvement over the 40-plus boxes I moved out of the storage unit and into the extra bedroom - there's now room for the critters to have floor play time in there.

Speaking of critters, Fernbunny is 10.5 years old, the last of the pets we brought from Texas. She has one eye completely covered with a cataract, and her fur is a little thin in a couple spots, but she can still play a vigorous game of tug-of-war for a carrot treat! The pet count is therefore still steady at Dexter cat, Fern, and the two piggles, Oreo and Theodore.

Now, another thing I didn't quite accomplish this year was to keep current with my friends' blogs here. I did better than the year before, but still, the last two months, I've not gotten on LJ to read or write. I will keep trying to do better, as I want to know that my friends are alive and doing stuff!
bunrab: (me)
My niece Hanna came to visit with me for a few days last week, and volunteered to help me go through stuff. We didn't get mountains done, but we did get a couple of very important molehills cleared. First, we cleared off the folding table in the sewing room, so that the guest bed could actually be opened. And then we listed the folding table on Freecycle and found a new home for it almost immediately. (This still leaves me with two folding tables left, BTW, which are folded and in closets rather than unfolded and collecting junk.) Then, we cleared off the dining table, so I can now have people over for tea or even a meal. A few people, anyway - it's still a tiny table, and the dining room is tinier than it should be because of the huge sideboard which I hadn't meant to have follow me here from the house. And then, we started in on a few of the boxes in the box room (the third bedroom, the one which is also home to Fern and the piggles). First, we cleared out a plastic rolling cart - and that's currently waiting for its Freecycle taker to pick it up. Then, I started in on a big box which turned out to be some of my files from the 70s and early 80s - tax returns, check registers, etc - and a whole bunch of cards - birthday and christmas, mainly, also from the 70s and early 80s. Most of that stuff went into the "shred" pile; a shoebox' worth of greeting cards still to be sorted through for personal messages is still in the room. Make a note of that shred pile.

Then, also from the storage unit, a two-drawer file cabinet, full of all of Steve's and my files from the 80s and 90s - every pay stub Steve had ever received from the City of Austin, all our tax returns, all our electric and gas and water bills from Austin, homeowners insurance documents from our houses in Austin...so again, most of that could go in the "shred" pile immediately. Altogether, we filled three bankers boxes of stuff to shred, and one box of stuff I want to scan before shredding, so that I have some small record of it.

And then we took the three boxes of papers over to Sir Speedy in Linthicum and had them run it through their big shredder in three minutes flat, instead of having it sit around the house waiting for me to run it through 3 sheets at a time in my tiny, very noisy, shredder, which would have taken several days of several hours apiece. It was worth every penny to have it disappear that fast, and every penny was still under $20. So it's not still sitting here, silently in the way, reminding me of unfinished stuff. And now I know where I can take the next load of similar stuff, instead of trying to force myself to shred a boxful myself and hating the waste of time. Definitely a victory. Oh, and the file cabinet went on Freecycle, had an immediate taker, and is now out of my way.

And we found three more boxes of paperback science fiction, out of which I kept about 30 books and about 200 went to Goodwill. Stuff that Steve liked that I didn't, incomplete series, nothing valuable or collectible or important. Just straight to Goodwill, along with the contents of an entire box which was full of unopened kits for cross-stitch christmas ornaments. Some of those were expensive kits in their day. But if I haven't gotten to even opening them in 25 or 28 years, I'm not going to - and it's not like I don't see three more similar boxes we didn't get to.

And then Hanna and I met up with Cindy to go to an art gallery opening and a fancy dinner, and on Sunday Hanna came with me to a concert the Montgomery Village band was playing at a retirement community, and then I put her back on a train to Pennsylvania. The whole process of commuter rail and Amtrak is so easy up here, and since Hanna qualifies for disability discounts, it's cheap, too, so I believe we will repeat this a few more times! Meanwhile, she starts back up in her freshman year at Temple next week, so she just has this week to get through at home with her noisy siblings. It is one of the features of being from a large family, that college dorms are downright peaceful and uncrowded by comparison! Fewer people to share a bathroom with! She's enjoying that feature as much as I did my freshman year.

This week, so far, I've done nothing except crochet. I need to take the Christmas tree down, don't I?
bunrab: (me)
In 2012, the only resolution I made was to remember to call my friend Cindy at least once a week, instead of always waiting for her to call me - I'm really,  really bad about picking up the phone and calling people, but I managed to keep that resolution. Without any resolutions on the subject, I decided just after the first of the year that I really needed to get out from under the burdens of a largish single-family home, so repaired the home, sold the home, bought a condo, moved. So far so good, right? Also good, that I don't think I've mentioned, is that I've lost nearly 25 pounds in the past year, getting my BMI to just under 25 - that is, within normal instead of overweight! Without any resolutions about losing weight!

I whined here about the couple of tachycardia events that screwed up my summer, and then somehow never got around to getting back here. I think, mind you I'm not certain, but I think, that this new year I resolve to write a few more substantive posts here, rather than depending on 3-sentence Facebook updates to be the only way I keep up with friends or organize my thoughts.

Playing catch-up )
More stupid heart stuff )

More than you wanted to know about my finances )

I have slightly less of too much stuff )

A visit to Texas )

OK, that's well enough of a ramble and a catch-up. New Year's resolution: keep up with LJ better, keep up with my friends' lives better. It's not all always me, and when it is me, sometimes it's good to share.
bunrab: (Default)
I tried a cooking experiment for dinner tonight that didn't work out that well - not inedible, but not anything worth ever doing again, either. So on the one hand, if it had turned out well, I would be all sad that I didn't have anyone to share it with, but I would have had very tasty leftovers for tomorrow. As it is, I am relieved that I wasn't trying to feed it to anyone else - and when I reheat the leftovers tomorrow, I'll just dump lots of chutney on top; chutney fixes almost everything.

Working backward, I have been feeling as sad the last couple of days as I was back in January. Lots of reasons for this - for one, a year ago exactly we were on our wonderful RV trip - I look at my post from May 15, 2010 and note that it was snowing in Wyoming, and that I stopped at Cowgirl Yarn. We got to Denver that evening, to stay with C&V for a visit. For another thing, it's been raining for a couple of days, and Calvin-Junior-next-door hasn't been able to mow my wet lawn, so the place looks a mess from the outside; Steve's rosebushes, the Double Knockouts, are blooming like mad but are surrounded by weeds. And for a third thing, this past week I paid the annual homeowner's insurance bill, the home warranty bill, and the last of the winter heating oil bills, all of which reminds me that I really must watch my pennies far more closely than I have been. I've been indulging myself into eating lunch out several days a week, and I really can't afford that - gotta cut back to once a week. Yesterday I dropped Cindy off at the airport for her annual visit with her nephew, and swung by the vet and finally picked up Gizmo's ashes, which are in a beautiful little box. Anyway, this combination of things has slid me a bit backward from last month, when for a bit I was feeling as if things were a bit lighter, as if I could breathe easier.

April felt better for several of its own reasons. When Gizmo died at the end of March, I went ahead and paid for a necropsy, and when the results of that came back, it showed that he had a rare and obscure infection of the liver, which couldn't have been detected in any well-rabbit vet visit when he was acting normally, and that by the time it showed symptoms, there truly was no treatment we could have used that would have reversed things. So I didn't have to feel guilty that I had somehow missed a chance to cure the Big White Bunny if only I had done *something*. Then, also in April, I went to Stitches South in Atlanta, and had a good time. I took the train there, and I enjoy train rides; I met up with Angela there and we split a hotel room; I spent several days totally involved in stuff that has never involved Steve and so didn't keep reminding me of him - and at the same time, there were several other women there who had also lost their spouses within the past year or so, so we could spend just a brief amount of time sharing our grief but also making jokes about how we weren't going to have to figure out how to hide how much yarn we were buying from our husbands. Being away from reality, and totally involved in an activity that has always been mine, made for a break in how I felt, and that left me feeling lighter as a lasting aftereffect. I was still missing Steve every day, but I began to see that I had a life without Steve, and even if it wasn't the life I had hoped for or planned on, it was a life that could still include some enjoyment.

I can still see that, sort of, but it's been fogged over these past couple days. Seeing Cindy off reminds me that I don't have any other really close friends here - people I'm close enough to to say "I'm lonely, I'm coming over to your house to hang out this afternoon so I don't have to be alone." I could probably drive up to my sister's place (2 hour drive) to hang out, and they'd be happy to see me, but it would be all noise and chaos, and everyone would be, quite rightly, more concerned with getting dinner on the table and homework done than with patting me on the head and making soothing murmurs. All my other really close friends are far away - Austin and Denver and Akron - can't exactly drop by or call and say let's meet up to split a dessert and tea at the diner. And I have lots of band acquaintances, but none of them are friends in that sense, and anyway most of them live just far enough away that by standards that aren't used to Texas, they'd think it was crazy to drive 20 miles just to hang out. In Austin, driving to Round Rock or Buda (or vice versa) for dinner and a game of Scrabble is something people would think quite reasonable to do frequently - every weekend, no problem - here, though, many people to consider that to be a distance that they'd only do for more special occasions (other than commuting to work).

And part of it's my own fault - if I weren't so self-absorbed, I'd be paying more attention to other people's journals, and to mailing lists I'm on, and more involved virtually in other people's lives, which really can help - no, it's not the same as hanging out in person, but it IS social activity and a reminder that there's stuff outside my own thoughts, and that other people's lives are interesting and they're willing to share. I know that, but I can't seem to break my laziness and read more than a couple of minutes of my flist page, or of the NEDoD list. How does one kick oneself in the pants to do something that one knows should be done and that will make one feel better? Just telling myself to do it isn't working, obviously.

So today, I couldn't think of anything reason to get out of the house that wouldn't wind up costing money, even apart from gasoline use, and I've sat here stewing instead. I probably look a little like a stewed tomato by now, too.

I'm getting positively closed-loop, whining about my own whining, aren't I? Hey, you all whose journals I've been neglecting, tell me something interesting going on in your lives that I should go read about.
bunrab: (Default)
When last seen, we were headed toward San Diego. We drove down CA-78, through a great deal of sand, some of which seems to be used by a great many dune buggies out in the middle of nowhere. Sand, sand, and more sand. Glamis, CA, appears to consist entirely of an RV lot and a place to start one's dune buggy/ATV off into the sand from. Finally we got down to I-8, to zoom into San Diego. We arrived early enough in the day to get in a couple hours at the Reuben Fleet Science Museum, before checking into our RV park down in Chula Vista. That museum is one of the other places we had visited in San Diego on our previous trip. We ate supper at a really good Thai place in Chula Vista. The RV park was quite nice, and quite large. Good laundry facilities, extensive, well-stocked store. Then Monday morning, the point of going to San Deigo: the zoo! Got there a little after 11; on a weekday, had no trouble at all finding 2 parking spaces for the RV. My scooter worked just fine. Weather was perfect - sunny, but never quite hit 70 degrees F. So, we started with the 40-minute bus tour, just to get a quick overview of where things were and what looked best. Capybaras, giraffes, lions, the big stuff, were easily visible from the bus. When we got back to the beginning and retrieved the scooter, we had to decide which way to go. We didn't so much decide as drift, and we wound up at the meerkats fairly quickly. Although the bus tour had mentioned juvenile meerkats, they hadn't mentioned what we found most interesting: a mother meerkat carrying an infant by the scruff of his neck, finally putting him down in a spot where she and another meerkat - dad? - could sunbathe. Steve got several good pictures of the baby, and I'll get them posted when we get home. We probably spent half an hour with the meerkats; this is why we almost never get to see a whole zoo; we tend to keep watching the animals being themselves. Anyway, there were koalas, doing the absolutely nothing that koalas do so well. And there was young panda - 9 months old, not exactly a baby any more, but sort of a panda toddler. Eating carrots and apples and climbing into a hammock and nibbling on his toes. And then there were the warthogs. The baby warthogs were actually just nursing on mom and occasionally wiggling around. Dad warthog had the most peculiar hair/mane cut. But it was the juvenile warthogs that kept us amused for quite a while. They were climbing all over a large stack of tree trunks, much as you'd picture goats would do. The young warthogs are pretty sleek, a reddish color with white stripes and spots, like baby deer and baby tapirs (we had fun watching a very large tapir wade through a pool, too!). And the juveniles were endlessly playful, playing tag, dashing over to annoy mom and then dart out of her way, back around the entire compound in one zoom, back up the logs and then a leap off of them... it's a pity the gift shop didn't have much in the way of warthog gifts. I nonetheless managed to find stuff to buy; the younger Schoenlebers will find themselves stuck with panda souvenirs.

Tuesday was our drive up to Sunnyvale and Oakland. Somewhere along the way we passed a car dealership called Mossy Toyota; we managed to make more jokes about that than we should have. Cindy, you should be quite glad you're not with us; our conversation would drive you *completely* around the bend. The less said about I-5, the better. It's a giant reminder that most of CA is desert or mountains or both, and should never have been densely settled, and *certainly* we shouldn't have tried to irrigate all of it and then have the farmers get upset when the water starts running out. Because Los Angeles apparently always has traffic jams, no matter what, and because the RV isn't very good at reaching the speed limit when doing serious climbing uphill, we got to Sunnyvale very late, and had a nice but hurried visit with Kartik and Usha. Thank you for the cupcakes, Usha! And then we drove up to Oakland, managed to find Jeremy's in the dark, managed to park the RV on their winding street, staggered in, ate a banana, and went to sleep.

We spent Wednesday hanging out and eating food, and playing with Jeremy and Brenda's new dog, a totally sweet Papillon named Yukon, who DOES NOT YAP. Seriously, Not one single yap the whole time we were there. An adorable dog. Emily and Anika were adorable, too, of course. It was great to get the chance to relax and talk. Family stuff, not really anything the rest of y'all need me to post about. Thursday morning, B packed us a whole bunch of tamales and rice for the road, which we have just finished eating here at the RV park in Elko, NV.

Nevada should never have been settled by anybody for any reason. It is completely ridiculous that places like Elko are here. I was ready to do a whole rant about that, but it wore off some. Really, though, there is no point to humans attempting to settle the area between the Sierra Nevada and Salt Lake City, and the fact that these towns are here and have casinos is proof that humans do not have enough common sense to continue to support the species for very long.

Tomorrow: more I-80! Contain your glee!
bunrab: (Default)
Since connie doesn't have a computer, let alone wifi so we can use our notebooks, I couldn't post from her house. Thank goodness for coffee shops!

we had a great stay in Katy with Pam and Dan! As we were leaving Wednesday a.m., Pam gave us a HotShot water heater for our tea, and pillows! Which, you will recall, are one of the things we forgot to pack. So now we have pillows.

The drive to Austin was straightforward enough - we don't need GPS for that one. We stopped at Mikeska's in Columbus for a quick bite to eat (and enough of a dose of rural Texas to remind us why we wouldn't want to live there).

To a large extent, who we see during the short amount of time we're in Austin is determined by who is willing to come to far south Austin. The RV has a mileage charge, as well as paying for gas (it's been getting between 11 and 12 mpg), and also, although it is small for an RV, there are still many places we won't even try parking (condo complex parking lots, for example). And as usual I've overestimated how much energy I might have - after a few days of driving, I needed to sleep till 11 a.m. And we can't stay in Austin longer - one of our stops is in Oakland, CA to visit my brother, and he and his family leave the next day on vacation, so if any of the trip got pushed back, we'd miss them. So, this is a whole bunch of excuses to say, I'm sorry, we are not going to be able to see everyone in Austin. Our range is pretty much from Connie's in Oak hill to the parkking lot in Westgate Mall (at Ben White & S. Lamar). Thank you so much to the people who have been willing to drive down here to get together! We've given the short tour of the RV (well, there really isn't a long tour one can give of a 19-foot RV) to Jerry & Kathy, and Susan & Scott. We got to see Anita and Dana for a few minutes, as they live near Westgate Mall and dropped over here for a bit just before I started this post. (Yes, they are close enough that it wouldn't have been any trouble to drive there, but remember I mentioned our unwillingness to tackle crowdede condo complex parking lots? Case in point. We'd never have made it through there to their condo.)

Tomorrow morning, we leave Austin and plan to get as far as Van Horn. There's a KOA there, so I should have wireless, and since there's not much else to do there, I probably will sit around playing Farm games on FB. The 21st century is certainly weirder than I ever thought it would be. None of the science fiction writers got it right, that we would be doing everything with our cell phones (including camera) and looking at Lolcats online - the power of the World Wide Web, devoted to lolcats and trading imaginary farm animals.

I need to mail a few things - postcards, etc. Next post Friday night!
bunrab: (Default)
Here we are at Pam & Dan's house in Katy! We will sleep indoors tonight and use a real shower and brush our teeth with potable water! Seriously, the RV is great, but it'll be nice to have a break.

Let's see - yesterday! We left the suburbs of Birmingham, AL; ate lunch somewhere - nothing special - filled up with gas at the Medgar Evers Memorial Interchange in Mississippi, crossed the Mississippi River at Vicksburg - gambling boats! Then three hours of extrEMEly boring I-20 in EXTREMELY poor repair across Louisiana; we arrived at Gerald Savoie's Cajun Cooking in Shreveport, where we were meeting Mary, at 8:30. The food was great - oyster po'boy for me, shrimp po'boy for Steve, and bread pudding with hard sauce for each of us. (Hard refers to the fact that it has hard liquor in it, not to its texture.) Afterwards, we yakked away in the RV for hours. Mary gave me some great tea I've never had before, and I gave her tea and one of my "famous" knitted tea cozies - red, white and blue fuzzy yarn. And she gave me the loveliest beaded booksmarks she made. It was so great to meet her in person after what, 15 years? of internet and snail mail friendship, and to discover that we have even more interests in common than we knew. Toasted almonds! Crockpot recipes! What a great evening. We collapsed somewhere near 1 a.m., which is why no post last night, and I was a bit slow to wake up this morning, which is why we didn't get out of the RV park till 11 instead of 10. The RV park, by the way, is one I can recommend highly if you're in the area, Tall Pines RV on West 70th, pads in excellent condition, individual waste dump at every pad instead of one station at the edge; extensive store, good maps, easy hookups... very nice condition overall, and nice people running it, who are eager to give discounts.

Leaving Shreveport this morning, we ate lunch somewhere near Nacogdoches in a cafe called Country Kitchen, which was rather smoky - smoking still allowed indoors there. The buffet was inexpensive, but also nothing to write home about, though the mashed potatoes were tasty. The peach cobbler dessert that came with it was undistinguished.

We sort of left our printed instructions and GPS route to try to avoid some Houston traffic, so we used the Loop 8 tollway off of I-45, and didn't hit traffic till we got on I-10, where we hit plenty of traffic, as it was right at 5 p.m. Nonetheless we got to Pam's before 6. I took a nap - it's amazing how tiring wrestling that RV through stop and go traffic - and through toll booths! - is. Our EZ Pass did not work here, needless to say. Then Pam and Dan took us out to dinner, along with their kids, the kids' spouses, and the kids' kids - baby Jack and baby Scott, whom we had not met. I gave them their blankets, and both babies drooled quite appreciatively. We had a good supper - haven't had Tex-Mex in so long!

Anyway, tomorrow morning I am hoping to hit Yarntopia here in Katy on our way out toward Austin. We should be in Austin for late lunch/early afternoon. We'll be staying at Steve's cousin Connie's, I believe, out in Oak Hill. We'll see all you Austinites shortly!
bunrab: (Default)
LoudTwitter seems to be dead for the moment, so I guess I'll actually have to type in a post! Of course, the main thing on my mind right now is patriotic music - we'll be playing Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, in various locations, and I will be heartily sick of Battle Hymn of the Republic before we're done.

Let's see, photos:

The older I get, the more I look like my dad. This is from last Friday, when we went over to Delaware to visit my folks, because my brother J and his family had flown in from CA to see them. So we had a small gathering of those family members who were nearby and happened to be free on a weekday, which came to 10 adults, 10 children and 1 teenager, and we all invaded the Smyrna Diner, which coped pretty well. Don't worry, we left them a really good tip.

And here's my brother J, and me, with his wife and their two daughters.

And here's all the tweets you've missed since LoudTwitter went down:
a long list )

ETA: since cut-and-paste from Twitter doesn't give the whole link, here's the links:
http://www.nps.gov/fowa/planyourvisit/events.htm ~~CONCERT, you want to come to this one!!
http://tr.im/qmKs - jobs!
bunrab: (alien reading)
All right, folks, here's my review of Gaslight Grimoire on Amazon.com - there are three others, so you'll have to scroll down to read mine. Any helpful Yes clicks always appreciated. The anthology includes some very funny Sherlock Holmes pastiches, as well as a story where Moriarty is the hero.

Graphic novel: The Five Fists of Science. Mark Twain and Nikola Tesla battle black magic and a yeti. Need I say more? Well, it is rather nice to read a graphic novel that involves neither teenage angst nor caped superheroes, and is an original story rather than a graphic version of an established classic. And anything with Mark Twain in it is going to have funny moments, yes.

Yesterday we went to the Eastern Trombone Workshop down at Fort Myer. The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Trombone Ensemble was excellent - about 20 undergrad music majors, and the performance included a couple of original arrangements by some of them. The trombones of the Atlanta Symphony, with a guest tubist. Some good hints from them about playing as an ensemble and matching tones - things that even community band players, and even people who play other instruments, could try and benefit from. The big evening concert was the Army Orchestra, doing four pieces, each with a different soloist. Charlie Vernon, bass trombonist for the Chicago Symphony, looks exactly like what you imagine someone who's been playing low brass for a major symphony for forty years or more would look like. Saturday morning he's giving a solo recital, which we may or may not get there in time for.

Tonight we have tickets for the Baltimore Symphony - they're doing Dvorak 7 - and tomorrow we are going to Ft Myer again for more trombone concerts, but returning to Baltimore in the evening because we have tickets to see the *Canadian Brass* (yes, you may all let out little jealous-sounding "oooh" noises). Then Sunday we will be driving up to the Philadelphia suburbs to see my niece Hanna in another school play - as a freshthing, she is already getting parts they normally reserve for juniors and seniors. I am working on finishing a quilt for Gregory - Hanna is my sister Steph's oldest; Gregory is Steph's youngest, all of 4 weeks old at this point; I believe I've mentioned he's my 38th niece-or-nephew. I will take a picture of the quilt as soon as it's done - it's all basted, so if I can do hand-tying/embroidery-floss quilting in the car tomorrow day, then I can finish the binding after we get home tomorrow night, and bring it with us Sunday.
bunrab: (bathtub warning)
We did xmas twice, first on Thursday with my sister S and her spouse and kids and our parents and some of her spouse's siblings, then again on Saturday, with my brother G and his spouse and kids and our parents and a niece and her new husband, who were briefly in MD visiting, before returning to grad school in Texas; most of us had not been able to get to her wedding, so we were pleased to meet the husband (and his younger brother, who was tagging along for the day). Sister is up Philadelphia way, which meant we got to see the mess that is billboards in Phila. again - they have more Hooters billboards per mile of highway than any other city I've seen. G lives about an hour south of us, near DC.

I made a set of placemats for S, who has been wanting new ones for a couple YEARS now; below is a picture of five out of the eight of them - the green things. The piecing is a faux-crazy quilt pattern, with a few bits of ribbon added, and then they are quilted using cotton batting.

The picture in the frame in the middle of the table is a photo of me and [livejournal.com profile] squirrel_magnet, taken in Vienna, in a frame I painted to sort of match the dress I'm wearing in the photo. This was a gift for my dad and stepmom, who expressed a wish to have a respectable-looking photo of us to add to their table o' family pics - all their offspring, with assorted spouses and further descendents. So now they have one. Here's a slightly closer view of it:

One of the neatest presents we received from relatives was an afghan that sister S and her family made for Squirrel; knowing his love of his John Deere lawn tractor, they found John Deere fabric and a nice fleece backing, and fringed and knotted them to make a lap robe Squirrel can use while watching TV. Nephew Ian, almost-12, did most of the work; Ian loves making stuff, any stuff - car models and Lego helicopters and jigsaw puzzles, and sewing and needlework as well. Anyway, that is a gift beyond anything they could have bought Squirrel with just $$$.

Those red things in the center of the picture above were two dishcloths and two scrubbies (pot scrubbers) I crocheted for SIL Jen - she had requested red, and I made her those items, plus three red quilted potholders and a quilted oven mitt. The potholders and oven mitt are made using a batting which has a mylar reflective layer, so that they really do insulate/isolate the hot object from the hand. Here's a quick view of those:

I made teddy-bear-ear hats for 2 of G & Jen's kids - here's Luke in his, and Kyla in another one that was also supposed to be Luke's, but she appropriated it an preference to the kitty-ear hat I had made her. Oh well.

I made a lot of crocheted and knitted dishcloths, most of which I didn't bother to photograph before wrapping and/or mailing them, but here's one last photo, of the black lace dishcloths I made for Liz:

Things I got for xmas: a big chunk of my Amazon.com wish list, from Squirrel; Odysseus on the Rhine, mentioned in the previous post, is part of it. Also a couple of books from Cindythelibrarian; assorted CDs and a family photo or two, turtlenecks and socks. Funny thing about socks. Clothing is supposedly one of those presents you don't like to get. But socks were a big hit this year. I bought two of my nieces, Brenna and Brooke, socks from the Doorly Zoo, back when we were in Omaha in November, and gave the socks to them for xmas; they immediately put them on! After all, who can possibly resist LEMUR socks? And then, when S and her family were giving me and Squirrel our presents, mine had a pair of socks as part of the gift tag - and I immediately put them on, because the socks I had been wearing were way too warm for how mild the weather was, and the new socks were cotton - also had animals on them. So there was much running around the living room in animal socks for the rest of the day.


Dec. 19th, 2008 11:57 pm
bunrab: (bathtub warning)
So here's what I've been doing the last couple weeks: two weeks ago, caught a cold. Hasn't completely gone away yet. Tried taking pseudoephedrine to stop the snot, and got zapped by my ICD for my trouble. The day after that (last Friday) drove up to Philadelphia to see niece in high school play - she is a freshman, but got one of the front parts usually reserved only for seniors; the family habit of singing loudly in public at the drop of a hat has some uses. Came back Saturday afternoon; played holiday concert at CCBC-Essex with the BSB on Saturday night. Sunday afternoon, I played a holiday concert with the Montgomery Village Community Band, while [livejournal.com profile] squirrel_magnet played one with the Bel Air Community Band, each 40 miles in opposite directions from C'ville. And at that, we missed two other performance opportunities we had for the same afternoon; since Thanksgiving was so late this year, the number of weekends available for holiday performances is scrunched down, so a lot of things were happening at the same time.

Monday, I slept. Well, woke up for meals, but otherwise slept. Tuesday I also slept, though I woke up for taking Chippy-chin to the vet for a follow-up; he is almost all healed up from Darwin's attack. Wednesday, let's see, I believe I actually woke up for a few hours Wednesday, and worked on the many homemade holiday presents I have not yet finished. Thursday we went to the library, and I finished buying the last few little things I needed to buy for assorted nieces and nephews. Then Thursday evening, Cindythelibrarian took us to see a show, as part of her Christmas present to us. The show was "Every Christmas Story Ever Told" presented by the Baltimore Shakespeare Festival, and it was great. A three-man show doing them all - Charlie Brown, The Grinch, Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, and (due to copyright issues) Gustav the Green-Nosed Reingoat. If you're in the area, it's playing through Sunday. My favorite part was the first act closer, The Nutcracker ballet. If you're on my flist, chances are you are familiar with Anna Russell's version of The Ring Cycle; imagine the Nutcracker condensed that way and you about have it. Complete with actual ballet dancing, done very well and very funnily. (Funnier for women my age than for men, because women of my generation, if we were anywhere above poverty level and even some below, we took ballet lessons when we were six years old or so; it was just one of those things. Ten years older and you probably didn't; ten years younger and you probably didn't, but all of us who are fifty-mumble took those lessons, whether at a dance school, or cheap group public school stuff on Saturdays in the gym, we all learned the five positions, and plies, and so on. Bit of cultural literacy there.) The second act was a merger of Dickens' A Christmas Carol and "It's a Wonderful Life" and then ended by singing every Christmas song ever written in about three minutes. We really enjoyed it.

And Friday, today (or yesterday, depending on how you feel about nights and stuff), I went to the doctor and got some stuff that's supposed to stop the nose drip without causing hypertension or arrhythmia; we'll see how that works. Also stopped at Jo-Ann's and got some yarn for one last teddy bear xmas present, and at Trader Joe's for freeze-dried strawberries; the chinchillas get VERY peeved if we run short on strawberries, and one really doesn't wish to risk the wrath of a peeved chinchilla. And now I am back to working on those presents - gotta finish place mats for Steph, potholders for Jen, teddy bear for Luke...

I have not had time or energy, outside of concerts and colds, to do any xmas shopping for anybody not part of my immediate family. If some of you normally get a Solstice/Chanukah/xmas present from me, well, this year, expect a New Year's present, or an Epiphany present, or maybe even a Martin Luther King Jr. Day present... There are a couple small things going out in the mail tomorrow to Texas, and a couple more small things on Monday, that might get there before New Year's.

One of the things we haven't done, either, is get up to NYC, which I wanted to do. Since the Museum of Natural History keeps their tree up through the end of the month, I am thinking we might go the week after Christmas; even though it'll be a little more crowded 'cause kids have off from school, a weekday should still be tolerable. Possibly Monday the 29th. (T, I'll call you about possible lunch!)

Now back to work.
bunrab: (bunearsword)
So we went to the Winterthur on Saturday. They have really nice lunches in their cafeteria, including a fancy dessert table. I spent more time on the "Who's Your Daddy" exhibit than [livejournal.com profile] squirrel_magnet or Cindythelibrarian did. We all enjoyed the "Feeding Desire" exhibit - if you're anywhere in the area, that's a great one to go see. Of course right now, the house tour includes Winterfest, which is always beautiful. And mid-afternoon, there was a concert by a Sa"ngerbund - I forget the name of the group, but it was a chorus of about 30 people. Mostly songs we did not know, many of them in German. When we crossed the driveway to the gift shop, we noticed the largest holly tree I have ever seen, somewhere over 30 feet and full of berries. I am used to holly trees being spindly 10 or 12 foot things, and in Texas holly is a shrub; this was most definitely a tree! We got a good deal of holiday present shopping done in the gift shop. On the way home we avoided the evil Delaware toll plaza - on the way up, we were so busy talking, we missed the exit for easiest toll avoidance.

Backing up a bit. I did not wind up making the corn pudding for Thanksgiving. It would have been the last thing to get started, and when I got to that point, I realized that I had every single inch of space in my oven and my toaster oven completely filled with stuff already, more stuff than 8 people could possibly eat. (So I used the corn to make corn chowder late at night for S & I for supper - so we didn't have to eat the leftovers the same day!) We had a nice Auslese Riesling and a lot of apple cider. The day went well. My 7-month-old nephew Luke seems to be attempting to bypass crawling altogether and trying to stand up by himself and learn to walk. We watched "Babe" after dinner, which was popular not only with almost-2 Kyla, but also with my dad. My stepmom gave us a housewarming present, a Tensor floor lamp with a daylight-spectrum bulb in it - and it's dimmable! That will be useful not only for all my needlework but also for S's fiddling with stereo pieces and with gadgets.

Currently reading: Grease Monkey by Tim Eldred - very funny SF graphic novel - and The Eight by Katharine Neville, a thriller about Charlemagne, chess, the French Revolution, and auditing. The number 8 has many meanings in the book, and one of them is the "Big Eight" accounting firms, back when there were still such. Our heroine works for one that is a roman-a-clef Peat Marwick, often known as KPMG; in the book, the names of the firm form an acronym of FCK-U, which pretty much describes the firm's attitude toward its clients, its employees, and everything else.

I love museum gift stores.
bunrab: (bathtub warning)
First, here is the delightful and handsome red river hog:largish picture behind the cut )
That picture is from the side. Now here's a closer one of the head - this is actually a different one of the three hogs that were trotting around their plot of land:another largish pic )
Now don't you all agree that this is definitely an Elf Pig, and that this species should definitely have a role in some forthcoming fantasy?

Finished object of needlework: a quilted table runner for my cousin J, whose wedding we went to LAST October - finished a year after the wedding. There are also four placemats that match the runner. you know the drill by now )
Now I am partway through Cindythelibrarian's curtains, a quilted set for my niece V who got married in July, and I've just gotten started on a quilt for niece J whose wedding we just went to this past weekend. I'm also going to make placemats for my sister S for Xmas. Oh, and in there somewhere I'm attempting to finish a sweater for NaKniSweMo!
bunrab: (bunearsword)
We had brunch with family, then went to the zoo for the afternoon, then went back and had supper with family this evening. Twitters from the zoo will be showing up here at the usual hour. Pictures will show up tomorrow night when we get home.
bunrab: (Default)
We just walked back to our hotel from the wedding reception, which was only 2 blocks away. It's a bit chilly here, but we actually have adequate clothing for it. Anyway, the rock'n'roll was getting a bit louder, and much of the over-50 crowd decided to drift on out and leave it to the kids. I did talk to the band first, though, to discuss saxophone mouthpieces with their utility drummer/sax player.

The bride was beautiful, the groom was there, the family was noisy. Our family is ALWAYS noisy. Tomorrow morning we're having a family brunch. Expect more noise.
bunrab: (Default)
House stuff. Lots of details, boring to anyone who isn't paying for them and watching the contractors do them. We might be able to move in end of next week, or else the day after Memorial Day.

Music stuff. Likewise lots of planning details boring to anyone who isn't actively doing them. Culminating in Maryland Community Band Day tomorrow, at Montgomery VIllage Middle School. Followed, no doubt, by my sleeping straight through from when we get home Sunday night to when I have to shower and get dressed and head for rehearsal Monday evening.

Fidelity by Thomas Perry. Mystery/thriller, with hit man and plucky heroine. Well written, as usual. But much more exciting was the blurb in the back, announcing that a new Jane Whitefield novel will be out in January 2009!!

Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter: Guilty Pleasures Volume 1 HC - the graphic novel version, really the first 6 volumes of the comic book; by Laurell K. Hamilton (Author), Stacie M. Ritchie (Author), Jess Ruffner-Booth (Author), Brett Booth (Author). Not too bad; mostly, I like the way the characters have been visualized, and most of the important stuff is in there. I wish they had just waited until the entire novel was finished, though.

The Head Trip: Adventures on the Wheel of Consciousness by Jeff Warren. Fun and science at the same time! Warren reviews all the states of consciousness involved in sleeping, more than you think there are. Includes the author's recounting of his personal experimentation with each stage of sleep, including ordering a NovaDreamer to help with lucid dreaming; sleeping in a cabin in the woods with no artificial light, not even oil lamps or candles, for three weeks. How to catch your own dreams. I've been reading a chapter before going to sleep each night.

Oh yeah, last weekend we saw my folks off on a cruise, leaving from a pier here in Baltimore, and while we were all together ahead of time, I had the chance to give my newest nephew his baby blanket.

That, by the way, makes 37 nieces and nephews (and 6 great-nieces and nephews).
bunrab: (Default)
Since we are staying at Jerry & Kathy's rather than out in Oak Hill, we can use Jerry's computer when he's not using it - thank you!! So I have access to a regular desktop on occasion instead of teeny laptop. Not that I have that much to say, but hey.

Anyway. So far so good on estate sale. I haven't been much help - I think I've been asleep more than I've been awake the last few days, and by the end of the day we haven't felt up to going out and eating dinner with friends, so if you (any-you) are wondering why we haven't called you, that's why. Today is the last day of the estate sale, and [livejournal.com profile] squirrel_magnet is out there now, helping do things like load people's purchases onto their pickup trucks. A lot of the furniture got sold yesterday - doesn't look like there will be too much large stuff left that we will have to have hauled off.

Brief bit of book: I have added a review of The Surgeons at Amazon.com - that's The Surgeons: Life and Death in a Top Heart Center by Charles R. Morris. It's essentially the same review I already did on my other blog, but now it's on amazon and it needs your little clickies on the "yes" button.

Reading while I'm down here in Texas: Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews - already has 81 reviews on amazon so it doesn't need me there. It's a new fantasy series, a few novel ideas in it and occasional touches of humor. If Harry Dresden were female and lived in Atlanta, this might be how he turned out. In fact, there's a character in the book who reminds me a bit of a cross between Harry and his friend Michael. The main supernatural series are shapeshifters and -not vampires, but people who control vampires; the vampires themselves are pretty much dumb bodies that get manipulated by necromancers of sorts - remote control bloodsuckers. It's not superb fiction, but good enough that I'll go ahead and read the next one in the series, which I think just came out.
bunrab: (bunearsword)
OK, I'm not going to ever be able to catch up on everybody on my flist, so I'm just going to read the past two days; if there's anything urgent I should know that isn't somehow in there, let me know via comment or email.

Thank you all for your thoughts and condolences.

The funeral was, well, a funeral. The work of cleaning up the house and dealing with the estate is ongoing. We will be returning to TX for another 8 days at the end of this month, and then probably again at the end of February, and then who knows. Our petsitter may not be getting rich but she's certainly going to be busy.

Little Vlad the Impaler grew noticeably in the 9 days we were gone. He is one wheelin' little hedgie.

I spent the entire time in Texas wheezing from "cedar fever" - the local name for allergy to ash juniper pollen, which is always at its peak in January. [livejournal.com profile] squirrel_magnet doesn't suffer from that; instead, he caught a cold on the airplane on the way home, so now he is all sick and stuff, coughing in a manner disturbingly reminiscent of old-fashioned consumption.

Now I need to continue dealing with a weeks worth of newspapers, mail, phone messages, etc. I suppose bill-paying should be at the top of that list.

Gaaaaah, there is so much to deal with. If I could offer ONE lesson to everybody right now, it would be this: if you have old printed photos, either label them as to who-when-where RIGHT NOW, or else THROW THEM OUT right now. Your heirs and assigns are NOT going to save photos of people they don't recognize in places they can't identify.

Oh, and for pete's sake throw out those cancelled checks. If you have a very complicated tax return, then keep the most recent three years worth of checks; NOBODY I know needs to keep any older than that.

That goes for all your 1973 gasoline charge card receipts, too.


Jan. 3rd, 2008 06:29 pm
bunrab: (Default)
[livejournal.com profile] squirrel_magnet's dad just passed away this afternoon. We'll be flying down to TX first thing tomorrow. We'll be checking email but not doing a lot else online (including, sorry, not replying to comments to this post; thank you in advance for your condolences, and I'll thank you properly when we get back) while we're down there, which could be a week to two weeks. So email me if you need to get in touch with me. We'll have our cell phones with us, for those of you who have the #.
bunrab: (bunearsword)
OK, I got a box in the mail containing a heatproof glass mug with Science Blogs stuff on it. The return address was from Seed Media Group. There was no packing slip nor any other info to indicate why I would have received this mug. So which of you do I thank? It's a cool mug!

[livejournal.com profile] squirrel_magnet got me a a Bamboo tablet which means there will be lots more odd cartoons coming along. And we're going to go pick out a baby hedgehog tomorrow!

Cindy got me this book, which is one I'd been thinking about buying for a while!

My sister Steph got me the vegetable chopper I hinted at strongly - and she loved her hand-crocheted string grocery bags, too. We had a nice day at their place yesterday. My dad and stepmother were there also; they gave me a cookbook that fits excellently into my special diet, and gave [livejournal.com profile] squirrel_magnet a shirt that's to his taste and some microfiber cleaning cloths, which they pointed out will be especially useful for the motorcycle. This may be the best they've done at actually taking our individual tastes into account in years! My nephew Ian, who is 10, gave S a model of a Corvette that he had built and painted - Ian likes giving handmade stuff - and then promptly sat down with the Get Fuzzy collection we had given him, and was scarcely heard from the rest of the day, except a couple of occasions when he came across a strip which he felt he HAD to read aloud to me and Hanna. Hanna read aloud a lot from one of her presents (not from us), a parody called The Dangerous Book for Dogs. All in all, presents all the way around were a success. Steph made dinner without any added salt. AND, we had a long discussion about religion, which was not a fight or even an argument - it was an interesting discussion that all three generations of the family contributed to, and involved lots of history and trivia. Almost enough to make one think maybe there is a god :D

Happy Feast of Stephen!


bunrab: (Default)

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