Monday, February 23, 2009

Woman vs. House

I try not to be superstitious. A suspicious event can usually be explained as a sequence of perfectly reasonable events or even simply be a coincidence. But I'm starting to think my house has its own personality. I'm starting to think that it wants me to just sit still. 

Case in point, I begin to remove wallpaper from the dinning room walls, then the bathroom tile needs to be replaced. Coincidence? Here's more evidence. I begin removing wallpaper from the living room and discover that the dry wall requires extensive repairs. Common enough, I suppose. The toilet required plunging soon after that. (Finally, a task I could accomplish by myself.) And that is probably not too big a deal. Still, I'm exhausted. I know that everything I find and fix will be better for it. I'll like my house better because of it, but my house needs to take a break too -- actually, the house needs to not break for a little bit. Even basic maintenance has the appearance of a home-repair tsunami. 

But there is always a break in the clouds. A couple of weeks ago, a friend sent an email that began, "So, I ordered 9 pounds of Lincoln Locks . . ." I cannot tell you how delightful it is to be acquainted with people who would simply purchase that much wool in one bundle and then send an email about it. She wanted to divvy it up, and I had a very good home for two pounds of the silvery, lambs fleece. Lincoln Locks have a very long staple length and lots of crimp. They will be ideal for my beginning spinning. 

The locks arrived on Saturday. The friend had them in a large box, which smelled very much like the horse barn on my grandmother's farm. Definitely not the milk barn, chicken coop or the hay barn. It smelled like the horse barn. A very fragrant and robust aroma wafted from the box. The other bits of wool I have purchased as locks were scoured thoroughly. These locks were fairly free of vegetable matter, and yet they had a very gamey quality.  The locks were separated into plastic grocery store bags, and as I carried them to my car, I wondered about any lingering odors. I'm especially attuned to possible lingering odors in cars after the wildly expensive crock pot-chicken incident. 

It was late in the evening, but the locks needed to be washed immediately because the cats were prowling. They smelled wild animals. Being the indoor house cats and fierce predators, when they sense any prey larger than a cricket, they are all over the situation. I bribed them with a healthy chunk of locks. They took it to a secret location that they will not disclose to me. This is a location where they can make anything disappear. I am afraid that one day, after many years, this location will come to my attention. Hopefully, cleaning their kitty vault will not involve the Roto Rooter man.

I turned up the water heater to its highest setting and filled the kitchen sink with scalding hot water and lavender-scented Eucalan. My friend had advised me not to mingle the dirty portions of the fleece with the cleaner portions. I had no desire to make it any messier than necessary, so being careful to put the dirty outside tips of the wool at one edge and the lanolin-coated tips at the other side, I filled a colander with the locks and carefully lowered it into the hot water to soak. The water turned the color of dark tea and smells of anything that lamb had encountered wafted through the kitchen. I lighted a vanilla scented candle and resisted the urge to stir the wool. Agitation would only felt it. 

The steady dripping sound became noticeable as did the puddle growing under the sink. I mopped it up thinking I must have sloshed water from the sink. The puddle continued to grow. Further investigations showed a leaking pipe. I emptied the contents from the cabinet under the sink. After sponging the entire area down and disinfecting it, the area under the kitchen sink may be the cleanest part of the entire house. The only imperfection in the arrangement was the plastic tub that the water dripped into. 

By then, I'd rinsed the wool two more times in hot water and spread it out on towels to dry on the counter. I thought about having a temper tantrum, a full-fledged meltdown, but I was too tired. I decided to go to bed. Surely my house would heal itself by morning. 

The house did not heal itself, so I did the next best thing. I called my Mommy and Daddy. They came to visit me, and Dad showed me how to fix the pipes under the sink. Mom drank tea with me and acted as if it were perfectly normal to have a kitchen counter that overflowed with wool. 

Then I ran away. I went to a friend's house where we feasted on delicious food and watched the Oscars. We laughed and enjoyed ourselves. I felt renewed. So, hear this, house of mine. You will be fixed, and I will enjoy it. The Lincoln Locks smell like lavender. They are silvery and fluffy and beautiful. If that miracle can be accomplished, this house can be fixed. 

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Pink Yarn

I'm back at the spinning wheel. I even knitted a little. I missed it so much and had a very hard time putting away the yarn. 

The single-ply pink yarn was spun from a batt of merino/silk. I'm beginning to think it will be years before I am pleased with my spinning, and now that I don't feel compelled to produce anything useable, spinning is more fun than ever. So I just enjoyed drafting the soft pink and watching the yellow silk nibs drift through my fingers. 

What about all of that yarn that doesn't meet my standards? I'm knitting blocks of yarn for a low-fuss blanket. This blanket should be warm, comfortable and durable. Most of all, it will be a humble blanket. If grape koolaid get spilled on it (and I do despise grape koolaid), it will be no big deal. Humble blankets get stains. They get used. They are appreciated for having no pretense. 

Being able to see how the yarn knits does make a difference to me. Imagining the process from fiber to yarn to stockinette is a challenge. I figure that after a certain amount of practice, I will one day be able to estimate, plan, and envision a fiber's best use. Until then, it's kind of like pulling random ingredients out of the fridge, mixing them up, and hoping for the best.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Define Normal

I say this with caution. Life has been normal lately. Seriously. The wallpaper removal from the entire house is proceeding slowly, the cats are still awfully sweet for being carnivorous wild animals, and while the laundry is never finished, a "no clean clothes" crisis hasn't occurred for weeks. And on that note, when Obama is finished stimulating the economy and ending wars, I'd like for him to start a program for clean laundry. Maybe the Department of Clean Laundry (DCL). Can you imagine what our nation could do if we had clean, unwrinkled clothing every single morning? We'd smell good.  We'd be unstoppable. 

A good part of January went to obsessively reading The Twilight books. Fictional characters and historical people are not safe from me. I have a small crush on Edward the vampire. It isn't as strong as my feelings for John Adams or Cicero, but he has his appeal. Edward is hot in an icy cold, vampiric sort of way.

The first few books were loaned to me by friends. I am very proud of being a good steward of books. My mother is a librarian. I know how to open a book and gently crease back the cover and the pages so the spine isn't broken. Alas, the first book, a paperback owned by a Naplover's Bean, didn't fare well during the transport to my house. I turned the corner in my car too quickly and the crock pot chicken, which was sharing the front passenger seat with the book, sluiced right over the book and the seat of my car. (As a result, the passenger seat of the car spent several days at the car spa and I drove around with only one seat in the front of the car. But, hey, its better than sitting on a five gallon bucket in a completely gutted car.) My Bean and her mother were very understanding. The book was still in readable condition and Oscar enjoyed sitting on my lap and licking the pages while I read.

The next book came from Andi. Her book looked brand-new, and I knew it was my opportunity for redemption for my bookly sins. Because I couldn't be separated from my new fling, Edward, I took it with me when I drove up to Kansas City for an appointment. Bringing a book worked out well. I had time to eat lunch and linger before my meeting. The waitress was very efficient and cleared the table of all plates, napkins, and my bookmark. 

I decided not to trust the book's fate to the waitress and took it to the restroom with me. It perched on the back of the toilet with my purse, and when I stood up, the entire fixture lurched and a large splash sprinkled the floor and my shoes with eu du toilet, so to speak. Fortunately, my purse was unharmed. The book, much like its predecessor, was still readable, but a public health hazard. I felt kind of sick because Andi sometimes has galley prints and books that are signed by authors. I dialed her number and said, "Is this particular book special? Because I'd really like to buy you a different copy." There was quite a bit of laughing. Maybe even some guffawing. Finally she said, "Sure. I'd love another copy. What happened?" 

Knowing that I had two very gracious friends was not enough for me to tempt fate again. On my way back into town, I plunked down money for the entire series. Bean got a new book and so did Andi. The others were read only in the comfort of my recliner. I did consume tea, soda and water while reading, and the books were unharmed. My friendships survived. Oscar still prefers the first book in the series. He likes to nibble on it while he drifts off to sleep.

As I said, life is pretty normal. Just the usual deconstruction of sheet rock, wall paper, three vacuums cleaners in the living room, and me in denial in the recliner with two cats and a pile of books.