Sunday, September 14, 2008

Something New and Something Old

I came back from Chicago happy. I had two goals while I was there and accomplished both.
They really have nothing in common. They are almost opposite. The first involved creating something new and the second getting rid of something old.
I’m just starting my fourth crochet mystery. For now the book is called Murder and the Marshmallow Stitch. Adele Abrams, a character with rather flamboyant taste invents the marshmallow stitch in the book. Actually, I think creates is a better word. Okay, but in order for her to create the fictional stitch, I had to come up with it first. I knew I wanted it to look something like a marshmallow, but not much else. I had brought along some white Baby Cloud yarn left from the Cuddle blanket in the third book . It’s bulky, fuzzy and puffy, and seemed perfect for the proposed stitch.
The thing about crochet is that it is all about making loops, yarn overs and pulling the hook through loops. So, all I had to do was figure out what combination of the above would give me the effect I wanted.
It’s amazing what some time with no interruptions can do. My first attempts didn’t work, but as I kept working with the yarn, I began to see possibilities to getting it to do what I wanted.
And then I did it. I made a nice three dimensional nub that was round and puffy and deserved the title Marshmallow Stitch.
I made a whole row of them, writing down the instructions. Then I had fun thinking of what kind of wild uses Adele would figure for the stitch. Then I gave myself a high five.
My other goal regarded moving an air conditioner that had been in a bedroom window for at least twelve years. Since I come and go, the seasons pass by like a montage in a movie and it seemed either it was winter and too cold to start fiddling with open windows or about to become summer and the air conditioner would be needed.
The problem was that during the twelve years, countless pigeons had started to call the area on either side of the air conditioner home. Their soft cooing sounds were soothing and I had to admire their hardiness at staying through Chicago winters, but eventually I heard them knocking into the plastic barriers on either side of the unit. I began to get concerned that the next time I came, I’d find the birds had made their way into the room. I made a stronger barrier with cardboard and duct tape with books piled in front of it.
The window had taken on kind of monestrous look by now.
Finally last spring the building was supposed to have the windows washed which meant air conditioners had to be moved. My neighbor tried to take out the unit for me, but there was a mother pigeon standing over her baby, who though it was a bad idea. The window washing was delayed for other reasons and I decided to wait until the baby left the nest to clear out the air conditioner.
With pigeons, that turns out to be a long time. Most baby birds leave after a few weeks. Baby pigeons stay there for two months which is why you never see baby pigeons wandering around. When the leave the nest the only way you can tell them from adult pigeons is that their beaks are a little bigger in proportion to their bodies. No wonder they’re not in a hurry to leave. Both the mother and father pigeon sit on the two eggs that are laid at one time. And both of them care for the young, producing something like milk to feed their baby. Yes, Daddy pigeon produces this stuff called crop milk, too.
Last week, the baby was gone and so were the parents. I got the air conditioner out of the window and found the mess twelve years of pigeons can make. They had positioned their nest inside the storm window in the window frame. As is their habit, they had built nest on top of nest on top of nest which had become fused into a solid block of yuck. Of course, there was pigeon poop.
Too bad it isn’t the 16th, 17th, or 18th century in Europe when pigeon poop was so highly regarded as fertilizer there were armed guards outside pigeon coops to make sure nobody stole it. I would have been happy to pass it on to them. It was also the only source of saltpetre which is an essential ingredient in gun powder.
Finally, I got all the yuck removed and was able to pull down the storm window and close the inner window. It seemed so nice and plain after all my duct tape and piles of books. Best of all, much lighter.
The pigeons are in for a surprise when they try to come back.
And so I flew home satisfied. I had come up with something new and gotten rid of an old problem.

The radio interview I did for A Touch of Grey is going to air Saturday September 20 on WABC 77 in New York from 10 to 11 p.m. and Sunday September 21 on KRLA 870 in Los Angeles from Noon to 1 p.m..


Terri Thayer said...

Congrats, Betty. I can't imagine inventing a new stitch. This book writing thing has led you to some amazing stuff.

We all have some pigeon poop in our lives. Usually I try to ignore it. Good on you for clearing it out.


Camille Minichino said...

I'm inspired now to take on something old and something new! Good for you.
The trick will be to choose things that don't involve sitting at the computer.

Betty Hechtman said...

Creating the stitch was very exciting, particularly since not to long ago, I was trying to figure out how to make a granny square.

Terri, I successfully ignored the pigeons for twelve years, so I know where you're coming from.

Camille, it is always good to do something away from the computer. The only computer aspect to the pigeons was googling them and finding out what interesting birds they are.

Linda O. Johnston said...

I'm impressed about the new crochet stitch, Betty. And I found the pigeon story fun despite the messy air conditioner. One of the highlights of a trip to Venice a couple of years ago was having lots of pigeons flock around me and sit on my head. Okay, maybe I'm nuts, but I enjoyed it. I am an animal fancier, after all. I hear they're trying to curb the Venetian pigeon population now, though.

Betty Hechtman said...

Linda, I would be thrilled to have Venetian pigeons on my head because it would be mean I was in Venice. I've never been, yet.