Suna Conquers the Ridiculous Ranch Closet

There’s so much in life you can’t control. You can’t control whether people like you or not, whether you’re treated with respect, the actions of faceless government agencies, or groups of people who think differently from you. I can’t control those things, either, but, I made myself better by totally dominating my Hermits’ Rest house closet. It has bent to my will and now can be used with ease. It’s like a rural version of those fancy closets you see where ladies (or others) sit around and sit champagne while gazing at their shoes. Sorts.

Yes. There IS a chair there, and there ARE a lot of shoes, organized by type and function, mostly.

Does that photo scare you? Well, if you know me, you’ll know the story of the immense closet in my house, but let me share with the rest of you.

The doors lead to the main bathroom. I like the birds on a branch hangers. There is now only ONE thing per hanger. Thank you, Suna.

The deal is that our house is based on a floorplan for a 3 bedroom 3 bathroom house I found online and ordered the blueprints for. I did ask for some modifications, because the kitchen was really small and I knew there would be lots of cooks. I added an island with a second sink and the cooktop on it. OK, so yes, that made the second floor a bit bigger, too. I also added a laundry room/mud room, so the original laundry area could be a really big pantry (and safe room, long story). That added another few feet.

There’s a 3-way mirror in the corner, and that big square thing is all drawer space. I love the stone, which is actually natural quartz, not granite. My children gave me the obelisk the first Christmas we lived here. We were so thrilled by the island that we opened our Christmas gifts there (closet wasn’t in use yet).

Then, when the dudes started building the house, they asked if they could simplify the second floor. This turned some space that was attic storage into full height closets, and made the upstairs even bigger (also, now Lee has two large closets of his own for his stuff, do don’t jump on me for taking this whole thing).

As of last week, all those storage cubes were a mess of things, and the whole top shelf was shoe boxes. Um, so was most of the shoe shelf. I threw away a lot of boxes I was saving for some project or another.

What ended up happening was that our bedroom is ridiculously large, and has a sitting area and a coffee-drinking table and chairs. And my closet, which started out as a perfectly reasonable walk-in closet became as big or bigger than many bedrooms. It was sort of embarrassing.

These storage cubes now hold the things that were randomly scattered around the room, like tote bags, purses, plastic bags (for trash), bathing suits, hats, etc. I still have a few for future items. I also had them add these two windows, so I don’t need to turn on the lights to find things. Energy efficient!

On the other hand, it was great, and I could organize things and find them. Our contractor did a GREAT job making this a great closet without spending too much money on it. The storage cubbies are lined with cedar, for my hand knits, he built me a jewelry holding area with cork to hang things from AND a chest of drawers for non-hanging things, plus the mirror and the chandelier. It’s nice, but not California Closet crazy.

The jewelry area and ironic sign. By the way, the cubes at left weren’t organized yet in this photo. All those things on the top are now nicely organized in a storage bin.

As years passed, my organizational scheme went awry, and I ran out of clothes hangers. I do probably buy too many clothes. But I do wear them! By a couple of weeks ago, there were piles of things that needed sorting all over that pretty quartz island, I couldn’t find any of my jewelry, and those endless shoe boxes made the room look just awful. I did NOT take “before” pictures.

Essential oils are alphabetized and just need me to bring the rest of them in from various places. Note the trash can is up high, away from dogs. The photo is of my dad after winning a boxing tournament as a teen.

So, I was sad about things going on that I can’t control, like COVID, my family issues, a person I was trying to help but wasn’t able to, things at work. But by gosh, I could make that closet do my bidding. All I had to do was order 100 coat hangers, some drawer organizers, and 16 storage bins. For less than $50 I was ready to tackle the mess.

It was a lot of fun collecting things to donate to charity, organizing other things, dusting, vacuuming and even putting in decorations, so it didn’t look quite so boring.

In THIS photo, the cubes next to jewelry world look correct. You can tell how high I can reach, can’t you?

Sure, no one needs a closet this big, but if you DO have one, the least you can do is make it usable! I can find all my clothing, including pants, dresses, shoes, winter things, summer things, etc. And wow is that jewelry under control (um, now I have to organize the jewelry at the Austin house, sigh…I also have way too much costume jewelry, as part of my coordination obsession). Chaos has departed this one tiny bit of my life, and when I want to breathe, I can go into my closet, spray some rose room scent, and relax. Ahh.

This is ridiculously organized. Who took over Suna’s brain?

To all my friends with small closets (including me at my other house), I hereby promise to keep the ranch closet organized and usable, even suitable for visitors. When we are pandemic free, you can come over and see it.

What do you have under control where you live? It could be something big or small. It could even be in your mind!

Cozy Transition Shawl

I’ve interrupted my planned cadence of knitting projects to finish with the leftover yarn from the afghan. I have a long-time friend who’s transitioning from male to female, and I wanted to make her something to feel cozy and loved in while recovering from surgery at the end of the month. The yarn happens to have colors pretty close to the trans flag, which is a nice coincidence.

The only image on my stock image site that has the trans flag on it. Plus a Harvey dog! Image by @arty_kat via Twenty20

I figured a shawl would do the trick, and that it would work up quickly in the bulky yarn. Ha ha, that WOULD have been true if I hadn’t started the darned thing three times. That’s to be expected if you’re making something up, of course. The first time, didn’t like my cast-on, so I ripped out a few inches.

The second time, I set off to make a stockinette stitch (smooth on one side, bumpy on the other, for those non-knitters who made it to the third paragraph) triangular shawl. I got into the third stripe, but started doubting myself, and thought maybe I was increasing wrong, because the straight side didn’t look like it was straight. I ripped that all out (it’s called “frogging” because you rip-it, rip-it).

All annoyed at myself, I looked for a pattern on Ravelry for a simple, triangular shawl, so I’d be sure to make the right shape. Of course, when I found them, I realized I hadn’t screwed up before. Sigh. But the good news is that I found a pattern with a little texture in it that might look good with the stripes, called LaLa’s Simple Shawl. I knew I’d have to adjust the pattern, since as the shawl gets bigger, the stripes will get more narrow. Here’s what it looks like so far:

Bonus Carlton head! You can see it has some garter stitch and eyelets (that look like lumps right now).

Sure enough, by the time I got to the white stripe, I was having to add more yarn from the other ball. That’s just fine, because I have the yarn. Once I finish the next color, the purply-pink, I will switch it out and do one stripe in stockinette and one in garter until it’s the right size.

Stitches in extreme close-up

I am hoping to have enough yarn left by the time it’s long enough to bind off in a cute picot (little sawtooth kind of shapes), which will look nice and make sure the shawl is flowy. We’ll see.

This is a picot bind-off. Image from this article in Knitty 2006.

My goal is to get finished by next weekend, which is plenty of time. I hope to see the recipient in a few weeks. If not, I can mail it to her.

I hope this description of trial and error gives any of you who are not very confident knitters the courage to just give things a try and start over again if they don’t work out. Sometimes you get something a lot better than what you started out trying to do!

Snow Update

This isn’t enough for a whole blog post, but I wanted to share that the roads in Milam County were fine, and I made it to work. We lost a big tree limb at the office, but it didn’t hit any cars or the building, so that’s good. The power was out at the Bobcat Lair house for 7 hours, but Anita and Pickle survived.

The sun is now busy melting the snow!

Book Report: The Fabric of Civilization

Rating: 5 out of 5.

How appropriate that I finished this book just as civilization began to unravel where I live. But, here’s a nice post about nothing scary. It’s about The Fabric of Civilization, by Virginia Postrel (2020). From the five stars in my rating, you may infer that I enjoyed this book. Whew, I sure did.

This was one fascinating book. Postrel sure did her job by showing that a topic people might thing was boring and insignificant, cloth, is actually critical to the development of much of human culture and civilization. The best news is that this one’s written in an interesting and fun style that makes you want it to go on and on and on.

One of the best points Postrel makes is that, while we go on and on about wearing natural fibers, none of the fibers we wear is in the natural state for the plant or animal from which it comes. Wild cotton is almost all seeds. Today’s cultivated and carefully hybridized silkworms would not last long at all out in the natural mulberry groves, wherever those are. Wild sheep are brown and shed their wool (thank goodness, since there’s no one out there on a mountainside to shear wild sheep).

As Postrel goes through the chapters, each of which is a self-contained unit you could read by itself, you learn how fabric contributed to civilization way more than just by covering people up. It was one of the earliest forms of money. Trading it led to the development of bookkeeping and checking. Figuring out new ways to create fiber has led to all sorts of scientific discoveries, from way back when people were trying to figure out how to dye fabric (I can’t get away from that topic) up to today, when they are trying to make clothing with batteries and computer chips in them that’s comfortable (comfort is the hard part).

One thing I wish is that the folks at Basic Books had budgeted for some color photographs. In a book that talks so much about weaving gold fabric and other shiny things, it sure would be nice to be able to see them in detail. The black-and-white images aren’t clear at all.

I should also warn you that it really helps to have some basic understanding of weaving, knitting, and looms to get the most out of the chapter on cloth. Thankfully, Postrel does include a glossary in the book (Judith Flanders, the author A Place for Everything, would appreciate that alphabetized learning aid). Plus, with 30 pages of end notes, you can rest assured research was involved in this.

One thing’s for sure, I will never take the clothing on my back, the upholstery on my chair, or any piece of fabric I come across for granted. Knowing me, I’ll analyze whether it’s woven or knitted (more likely knitted, since the vast majority of our clothing to day comes off knitting machines, not looms) and what the yarn or thread is made of. Then I’ll wonder how it was dyed…yep, even with all my years of working with fiber, I learned a lot from The Fabric of Civilization, and it’s sticking with me!

I Feel Pretty – Why Not?

Lately I’ve been enjoying photos of some friends who are my age. For example, Kathy, who I know from high school, has been sharing a sweater she knitted every day this month, and it’s been so fun to see what she’s made, and I’ve envied that she lives in Colorado now and actually gets to wear them.

Also, though, I’ve been enjoying how she looks in each photo. She just glows with happiness, her eyes shine, and her smile is bright. So what if she just had another birthday? This is my idea of beauty, because her beauty as a human being shines through.

Yes, she made that herself. Check out mountainpurl on Ravelry for more!

In my family, we sometimes talk about how the pandemic hasn’t been kind to our figures or that all the stress is showing in how we look and feel. I know I sometimes look in a mirror and wonder who the heck that is looking back.

Unretouched photo of me, today, with hair no longer blue.

It’s really tempting to focus on the obvious signs that I’m not a kid anymore. Those lip wrinkles make me look like a long-time smoker (I never smoked!), the jowls make me wonder if I’ll look like Droopy Dog eventually (my great aunt did). And the neck. Eww. That’s enough, though I could go on.

Other parts of me are fascinating, too. I have interesting new moles and marks (yes I get them looked at), my stomach is at its poochiest (and it’s pooched since birth), and while my breasts finally got larger than an A cup, they have been defeated by gravity.

So What?

Yeah! I’m mentioning all this stuff, because when I looked in the mirror this morning, I saw this new me and I was fine with her. I don’t exactly recognize her sometimes, but I like her. When she’s happy, she really looks pleased. When she’s down (or thinking, in a Zoom meeting), she looks like my dad or my brother, so at least I’m still a member of my family.

This is nowhere near as awful as I look in some meetings. But, it’s me.

And I feel so free to dress and act however is comfortable to me. That was a long time coming. I used to try to dress to portray membership in my group (hippies, corporate employees, cowboys). Now it’s more like, what looks fun today?

Cowgirl time (2014).

I wish I could find the article I recently read about people who identify as women and their relationship with makeup. It talked about the conflict between so many young women claiming makeup gives them freedom with the thoughts of many of us older feminists who feel that requiring makeup of women, but not men, is another sexist vestige.

I think back to what I’ve spent on makeup, hair stuff, nail stuff, etc., and know I have gotten some company executives richer. It’s a conflict for me, for sure. I don’t think I NEED makeup, nail polish, or blue hair to be attractive. I don’t NEED overly coordinated clothing, either. I could wear jeans and a t-shirt every day the rest of my life and be fine. But, dressing up is fun. I guess it’s a part of my cultural identity as a Western woman that I can’t get rid of completely.

That’s right. The outfit even has a coordinating mask.

At least I acknowledge it! And that’s the thing. I want to encourage all my friends to love who they are at the age they are and feel pretty, all over. We’re here, we’re alive, and we’re creative. Let’s not hide who we are, but shine like Kathy in all her sweaters! It’s all GREAT.

Venturing into Town

If you’re reading this, it means we’re both still alive and kicking! Woo hoo! After a night of little sleep, I woke up feeling pretty good. And I worked really hard, other than a half-hour walk in which I found the liquor store.

You will be relieved to know I have not gone through the wine and Gentleman Jack I bought for the condo. I’m quite proud of my moderation, though I have been drinking alone, all by myself.

After work I took the hotel shuttle into the actual town of Park City (I am in Canyon Village or something like that). I visited the quaint and pricey Main Street district, thanks to the resort shuttle. I was relieved to see very few shoppers, but enough to keep the stores open.

Quaint.

I found more fur coats, dreamy sheepskin coats, and down coats over two thousand dollars. While I need a coat, I don’t need those. In fact, one store was so fancy I felt like a fraud looking there. There were some incredibly well made clothes and dishes and such there. But not for me.

Really cool bar.

I liked all the art galleries, but there was one with amazing horse paintings and prints. I’ll have to share some. The same artist also had luminous depictions of trees in snow. No way I could get a print, but they do have postcards! I can’t wait to show Anita.

New stuff trying to look quaint.

I did get a new coat at Athleta, on sale. It has a rose print. It was less than $200 and uses recycled material. It will keep me as warm as one of the amazing fancy coats.

The jacket matches my rose-theme clothes. Hopefully this will last years!

I wandered more and more, and found a small candle, which was my goal other than a coat. I do like candles. But then, I wandered into one of the actually old shops, one with nice clothes but not stiff for the mega-rich Park City folks. I tried to just look, but love at first sight occurred.

My beloved cardigan.

I initially was drawn to the pattern. Then I saw the trim on the zipper. Next I found out it’s cotton, so it won’t be too hot for Texas like many jacquard knits in wool are. Then, the sales person told me it’s from a company in Serbia. Sure enough, even made there!

Not made in a sweatshop!

So I tried it on and boom, I realized the inside is as pretty as the outside. That means if I hang it on my chair, the inside that shows will look good. Sold.

Pretty inside!

My little shopping trip was fun and cheered me up. But, I better stick to hiking from now on, or at least until I have a shopping companion. Nature is FREE!

Mr. Moose says have a peaceful evening.

Book Report: Red—The History of a Color

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I talked earlier about how fond I am of the color red and how much I enjoyed the session on cochineal, a red dye, last week. So, naturally, the first of the series of color books by Michel Pastoureau I just got that I’m going to report on is Red: The History of a Color.

Beautiful book!

The quality of this book is drool-worthy. Each book in the series is hefty and dense. The paper for the pages is so thick, and the printing is sublime. The illustrations are so interesting that I’ll go back to this book over and over.

Example of one of the illustrative images. This is by Jan Van Eyk.

While I did get lost in the photos, I also learned a lot about how red figured throughout European history. It was the most important color up until the last few centuries, when blue took over. Boo, blue (I guess I’ll be more on Team Blue when I read the blue volume).

My kitchen is Team Red, too.

The author teaches us a lot about how color has been perceived by humans, which I learned from earlier color books, but the focus on red and how it was perceived earlier than colors other than black and white made the history pretty memorable. it turns out names for many colors show up quite late, as the chapter on pink showed.

Pink and red at my house. Also, roosters were revered because of their bright red combs!

I enjoyed learning a lot about how people dressed through European history, and not just the royalty and rich people. Peasants always liked red!

Sapphire points out that her breed had particularly red combs, and eyes.

Any book in this series would be a nice gift for an artsy or crafty friend. A high-quality book on your favorite color that’s also a work of art in itself—what’s not to love? And red’s the color of love!

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

You just never know how a day will go. Today is just dandy, EVEN with an 8 am dental appointment! I had put the dentist off for four months, but I was assured they take precautions. And they did! And my teeth are okay, even with my recent jaw clenching.

I got the day of the week right!

The second day in my work office in Austin was nice. I actually had time to accomplish some work, and the team meetings went well. I think we’re getting the hang of Agility, a bit.

Mainly, though, I had a good meeting with my boss, where I got to share ideas and brainstorm. I admit it. That’s my favorite work activity. I love collaborating and planning, way more than being handed a plan and being told to go execute. Buy in! Yes! I like making things, too. I dislike tracking work and devising metrics. So, if you’re a potential employer, bear that in mind. Also bear in mind that I hope to not get a new job, like ever.

Living my dream.

So, what about the title of this post? Well, it’s hair day again. And I’m bleaching again. It has grown out to where at least half of it is undyed, which means if I keep this up, I’ll never have any hair that’s been bleached a lot, thus the straw effect will be less likely to happen. That’s my hair theory, anyway.

So, enjoy this “live blogging” version of me getting my hair done. I blogged during and after the event, because, well, that’s the time I had.

Before. Roots a-plenty , though I don’t think they look all that bad.

And, Dan the hairdresser says this time he’s making it pale blue to start out. I’m pretty excited. Yep, I’m tying under the dryer. There was no blogging time earlier today!

Bleach applied. Cooking away. Looks scary in there.

I always like the white phase. This time there’s no orange! I wish I was brave enough to keep my hair white. But, to me, blue is safer. There’s a sentence I never thought I’d type.

Blonde bombshell.

The pastel blue color looks fantastic even just applied! It’s quite goopy and drippy. And I hope you enjoy my little wave. It’s classy. Thanks, Dan.

Mermaid time.

I enjoyed “resting” while the color cooked, but wanted to see if it really came out pastel blue. The last time it was rather dark. I got delayed getting a picture, because my fancy earrings fell on the ground. Sigh. But lo!

It’s pastel blue! Anita says it’s the color of an ice cube tray. Michele at work says it’s blue cotton candy. I like that better.

And in my Bobcat office, it’s lighter. This will be easy to maintain and fun. Life is good, other than the headache I have. It won’t stop me from book club, where we will talk about The Vanishing Half. I won’t vanish with such blue hair!

It’s weird that I now feel more comfortable with blue hair than my natural color. It’s also weird that I now very closely resemble a manic chipmunk. At least it’s a chipmunk with clean teeth.

Too Much Right Now

There’s just so much in my head that I’ve no time nor ability to write. I was analyzing work stuff in my dreams last night. I couldn’t stop dreaming about data.

Hey, grasshopper, you’re supposed to distract me.

I’ve pushed through everything today, which is great, but there’s still more coming up! Being occupied with work challenges isn’t all bad, of course. It keeps your mind off the state of the world, sick friends, and natural disasters.

That’s really a cool color!

I did enjoy a lovely sunset last night after the wee bit of rain. And I reconnected with a friend from grad school whom I greatly admired and had thought about often.

Plus, I can disguise myself with even more masks, since I got some pretty ones in the mail. Guess I’m not a plain black mask person.

I’m blinding and blingy.

Hope you’re handling your surprises and learning curves today. We’re all in it together.

Spooky pretty.

Footware Fantasy

Do you have a favorite pair of shoes? I believe I do. And a couple of runners up. I don’t have a shoe fetish or an actual mental health challenge about shoes. My Well, you may or may not agree.

I have a few shoes. There are more in Austin. I recently gave lots away.

Now I own a lot of shoes. I do. I’ve endured Imelda Marcos jokes for decades. Maybe young people don’t know about her and it will stop.

I always blamed it on my sun and moon being in Pisces ♓️. That sign “rules” the feet. Apparently the Piscean will either have beautiful feet or scary ones. My dad’s were very weird, and his high arches made it hard for him to buy shoes.

I had a pair of sandals for church at this age. I’m the one with fewer teeth.

I had very nice, average size feet that looked good in shoes. When I was little, we mostly went barefoot and got a new pair of shoes when school started, either loafers or Keds.

Normal feet for my age.

So, when I started earning my own money, the first thing I did was buy shoes. High school friends will remember the white patent-leather 6” platforms I bought in Mexico in ninth grade. I’m sure I looked like a puta, but I could be in the back row in chorus. Ha!

Second row at the end. The shoes are peeking out.

Anyway, I’ve always enjoyed shoes. I sorta miss my lovely Cole Hahn dress shoes, but my feet are thrilled that I now wear comfy ones. Now I just miss all the shoes in Austin I haven’t seen since the first week of March. Poor orange sparkles!

I hope someone is enjoying these. Not me anymore.

You might be surprised that my favorite shoes are very practical. They’re brown walking shoes, what a snooze. But they are infinitely comfortable, great for walking and hiking, and get this: they’re waterproof! I can walk around in the rain or afterward without wearing hot rubber boots.

Practical.

And the bottoms have leaves!

You can see that used them to walk in mud.

I got them on a weird shopping trip with my stepmom. The store owner showed us all his guns. I felt so safe.

It has orthotics.

Other favorites are Corky’s flip flops, because they don’t hurt between my toes. Then there are the sparkly sneakers. All of them.

Others I like are the Skechers GoWalk series. They are good for work and dog walking. And my colorful Western shoes. Almost as great as the brown ones.

I love cowboy boots. Right now my favorites are these blue Ariats I wear for ranch stuff and riding. They have soon kind of cushioning that’s miraculous. My favorite dress ones are the snakeskin. So comfy.

I always wondered if other people were as fond of shoes as me. Maybe if you had a lot as a kid, they don’t matter? Or if you don’t obsessively match your outfits and shoes like me. I guess I’m a grownup at last, though, with this parade of comfy shoes passing as my favorites. Y’all missed my glory days!

The Best Shirt EVER

Maybe I’m exaggerating, and maybe I’m not. However, today I am wearing a new shirt I got on Saturday that just gets better and better the more I wear it. I’m not usually this much excited about a shirt, I swear! There is no danger of me morphing into a fashion blogger or an “influencer” (for a really funny article on how to be “Insta-famous” as an influencer, check out this post by my favorite millennial, V.

Label and fabric close-up.

I was initially drawn to this shirt, sitting there among dozens of beautiful and over-priced shirts at a shop in Round Top, because it was covered in hummingbirds. I pretty much was going to buy it unless it looked like some giant sack on me, just because of the print, but I did feel the need to try it on.

The shirt! Note my hand is in my wonderful pocket! And check out those pressed jeans, courtesy of Kathleen’s dry-cleaning account.

I’m glad I did, because I keep thinking I am huge and tried on a size much too large. Kathleen kept sending me back to put on something smaller. The M fit great, and is still loose enough. I’d never heard of the brand, but I found this on a page that sells the Shana brand:

Shana offers a diverse collection of affordable clothing in today’s current styles. Unique and exciting clothes for women who want to look their best. A portion of all sales is given to Himalayan Hands, a non profit organization dedicated to helping children and their families in Nepal and Tibet.

http://www.fawbushs.com/brands/shana

Well, at least some of my money is going to help people who deserve some help. That makes my shirt purchase part of my do-gooder work, too. Ha! Clever!

Back of shirt, featuring cool pleat and zipper!

Why is this shirt the BEST?

Let me share the ways:

  • The print is just the cutest ever and in such happy colors.
  • The pattern fits nicely at the top then flares out, making me want to twirl around. It is flattering to people shaped like me.
  • It’s really comfortable, and all cotton.
  • The front has buttons, so you could wear it like a jacket if you wanted to.
  • The sleeves roll up and have a button to keep them up, which I didn’t realize until I was getting dressed this morning and found the sleeves too long.
  • The back has a really cool zipper! It’s not just decorative; when you unzip it, the shirt’s back pleat is freed up, thus making the shirt even twirlier.
  • AND, as I only found out about a half hour ago, it has side pockets. Who doesn’t love pockets that actually work?

So, I have to say that I love my shirt and plan to wear it for years and years. It matches my hair, my glasses, my nails, my active imagination…yay!

The zipper opened, and a better view of all the birds.

I have come to the conclusion that I wear bright clothing to help keep me feeling in a good mood. And from my coworkers’ reactions today, the happy colors, shiny shoes and all that cheer them up, at least a little. And it costs no more than black (I admire people who wear only black and look so chic in doing so; I just can’t do it myself.)

From rainy Austin, Texas, have a good week!