Monday, January 15, 2018

Dolliver and dpns

So I'd seen a lot of loose talk in other blogs and on Ravelry about sock knitting and I thought it would be nice to replace a pair of my handknitted socks that I had worn out.  I tend to walk a lot and that definitely has an impact.

I got out one of my favorite simple patterns, for a toe up, Moon's Holler Stock Sock,   here  and found some nice celadon green cashmere yarn.  Harvested from a sweater from the thriftie, unraveled.  Several people have receive scarves from this lot, very welcome. 

I used to uncrimp the yarn, wetting, etc., and getting the fibers straight before I knitted.  Then I found that in knitting, it uncrimps anyway, and you can't tell the difference. So now I  just knit it as is.

This pattern is fun, because the short rowed toe sort of happens, and you find yourself with a completed toe cap. Very comfortable to wear, too, no stitching across your toes. Notice the nice stitch markers and their fancy case, gift of a Raveler.

So of course, Blondie Firstborn, the hat fancier, instantly recognized this as a possible Dolliver hat, and decided to try her hand at the dpns. 

You can use short circulars if that's your religion. I can't abide circulars, too much like knitting on a treadmill for me. I like the pause at the end of the straight needle, the reorganizing of the yarn, very leisurely sort of approach.  

And you get to do it several times per row if you use dpns.  I like to use four, a triangle of work and a working needle, if the pattern allows it.  Some people like five, working around a square.

I didn't like to mention that the Dollivers'  heads are way bigger than this toecap, but if she's willing to help, that's fine.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Woman proposes, God disposes

So last October I met an artist friend I hadn't seen for ages, and invited her to afternoon tea.  Pause while we set up a possible date. Then she got sick and had to postpone for a long time while she dealt with that.  Then she got back and we set up a date in the new year.  That turned out to be the bomb cyclone sideways snow day. So we postponed another week. That would be today. Then her furnace went south, and the only day she could get the repairman in is, yes, today.  We shall prevail.  I have now put her food goodies back in the freezer till the season thereof.

So this freed up a bit of time for other pursuits, aside from practicing recorder, which is incredibly rusty after weeks of postponement there, too, similar reasons.

And reading.  And I just finished another Joanna Trollope.  That's a good way of putting it, since she's a steady reliable predictable writer, a good cosy read.  This one was a bit irritating to start, until I got into the characters and stopped being so judgy about them. Good for a rainy day.

And the Printmaker's Daughter, nearest I could get to dogonart's recent recommendation, only thing by Katherine Govier in my libe, a novel set in the Edo period, which involves all kinds of famous rl printmakers. This should be fun, haven't started yet. 

The warm day and rain have washed away the snow, so I'm going to get waterproofed and go out in search of my snowdrops, just in case anything's showing yet.  And to cut a couple of branches from next door friend's catkin shrub, to bring in and force.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Out with a lot of materials, in with just a couple

Today I made it to the thriftie, and unloaded a large box plus four large bags of art materials for other artists' playing pleasure.  And, since I was there and fair's fair, I also found a couple of nice things to bring home.

Namely a little basket for a waste paper basket, just right for the spot where I've been throwing stuff before finding there was no wpb there.

And a silk/cotton mix cardigan in eau de nil.  Pearl buttons. Very nice with a white top and jeans.  I will feel, up to a point, all Lucia about this.  It's the eau de nil reference that does it.  Like her living room after she barged in on Mallards after poor Elizabeth had to sell and move.  

EF Benson fans will already have picked all this up from the color description, but the notes are for those who have not yet had the pleasure of the Lucia books.  And the amazingly good television series, starring Prunella Scales and Geraldine MacEwan.  And wonderful Nigel Hawthorne, doing Georgie to a t.  And a lot of other stars.  This was the  1990s version, not the recent one, which was a more bloodless and a bit dull.

The good part is that the dialogue on the tv series is almost word for word EF Benson's writing.  Such an ear.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Bread to warm the cockles of your heart

I'm not entirely sure what these cockles are in the saying, but this bread probably fills the bill.  

One giant loaf, to be cut into four parts, three for the freezer and one for the fridge, first slice for the cook, warm, with honey on.

This is wholewheat and white, approximately equal parts, and I finally remembered poppyseeds for the top.  I always forget to do this until the bread's a memory.

And I highly recommend using a heavy nonstick casserole as a bread pan. I got this idea years ago from Jacques Pepin.

It makes a wonderful crust, and only needs sort of dusting out after the bread's removed. You can easily see when the bread's done when it pulls away from the sides, as seen here.

I think of this sort of bread as artisanal,  sort of crusty, hearty, really good for practically anything you use bread for. And definitely a good idea on a frigid old winter day.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Washing machine saga continued..

So, the good part is that the new machine fits the space.  The bad part is that it's frozen, and can't be tested for a couple more hours. Water used in factory testing freezes in the body, has to thaw before you can fill. 

The good part is that the delivery was done very promptly, within minutes of the window, and before the big storm we are promised.  The bad part was that I had had to move a lot of stuff so that the men could get round the corners and up the stairs.  

The good part is that one of them very kindly put back the big bookshelf for me, saving me a struggle, since Handsome Son not free to help. He picked it up like it was nothing.The bad part is that I had a lot of floor cleanup what with boots and icemelt being tracked in. 

The good part is that it wasn't too strenuous, since I'd had help with the furniture.  And only one artwork got knocked off the wall.

And Duncan, having checked out the men to permit them entry, retreated to the bed for the rest of the season. The bad part is one of the guys is very allergic to cats and he was coughing and sneezing.

So we'll see if SQ, that's the machine's name, lives up to her billing. This is the second machine in about three weeks, one for my tenant, one for me. I'm hoping for a break from buying washing machines now.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Roast vegs for the new year, crochet scarf as part of organizing studio

The freezing weather continues, cold enough for windchills registering in way below zero F, cold enough that the snow squeaks when you walk on it.  Just sayin. We do get cold here in central NJ, but we make sure to whine about it when it comes.

And to roast vegetables as a defense mechanism.  

Here are sweet potatoes, microwaved tender, peeled and added in to Granny Smith apple rings, with all the spices you see in the foreground. Turmeric, mustard seeds, kosher salt, fennel seeds, Bill Veach's #2 curry powder. And one Italian sausage, divided into little chunks shared with both dishes.  I like the orange sweet potatoes for this dish. The white ones are sort of meh. 

30 minutes at 410F, would have been 400F but my hand slipped.  This is enough for several meals, one big dish into the freezer.   I really like fennel seeds in this mix.  Not a fan of fennel in its vegetable form, oddly, but the seeds are fine.  Finocchio!  introduced to it by an Italian American, long ago.  And the apple rings I prepped days ago and froze ready for whenever I felt like cooking them.  I eat much better this way than if I had to start the prep from scratch in order to cook.  Learned this from Lidia.

And the other defense mechanism is to crochet a scarf.  

The crocheting keeps your hands warm, and the openwork of double crochet is really good for trapping warm air when you wear it wrapped around a time or two.  When I do the double crochet for this kind of thing, I send the hook through the opening below, not through a stitch, to start each double crochet. That way the fabric is very flexible. The yarn is part of what I saved when I was winnowing the other day, through my supplies.  

It's beautiful, handspun llama yarn, in variegated natural colors, made in Bolivia by a women's collective, and I paid fair trade price for it.  It has lots of vegetable matter, i.e. Bolivian bits of grass, in it, easy to pick out, but I like very much that they're there. 

Oddly enough, I didn't design the dark to lighter effect so neatly. It just came out that way as I worked.  This scarf will take up both large cakes of yarn, which is fine. I originally got it for a tapestry I was doing, and other fiberarts, but still had quite a bit to use.  I will probably join the two ends, turning it over once, to make another Moebius cowl.

So that's the Keeping Warm Scheme around here. Oh, and speaking of keeping warm, I finally got all my WarmUp America blanket pieces shipped off a while back, and a lovely postcard of thanks came today!  Never expected any acknowledgment, actually, figuring they're busy people, but the postcard design is a montage of blanket parts, people knitting, people holding up finished blankets, etc, very heartwarming. And if you want to take part, go here and see what's what.

Tomorrow my second washing machine arrives, I seem to be in the habit of buying washing machines, and today required moving stuff out of the way.  Including a giant bookcase on the bottom of the staircase, around which they have to maneuver the old machine down and the new one up.  

Hoping that Handsome Son is coming for dinner tomorrow night, because he can be recruited to put back the bookcase and help me replace all the stuff on it.  Largely shoes, since it's out of the way, but I can sit on the stairs to pull boots on.

It needs to go back up one step and turn.  Easier to get it down, for me operating solo, well, there was an exciting moment when I thought it was going to fall on me and trap me in the kitchen doorway, but moving right along.. 

And he can help lug all the bags and boxes of stuff to my car for the thriftie, currently two floors up, in the studio.  Nice stuff which has outlived its time in my life. Ready to move on.  He doesn't know any of this yet, but after a nice dinner, he'll be mellow about it.

Monday, January 1, 2018

The Dollivers Bring in 2018

So the Dollivers, togged up in silk dresses, brought in the New Year with pink champagne, a first for all of us.

 Reminded me to change the year on my watermark.

And we all wish you a great New Year, with new dreams, new work, new days.  And to keep what was good in the old year, while making room for the new.


Friday, December 29, 2017

Date Nut Bread and No Looking Back

Possibly the last baking of the year, a date nut bread thing.  Some now reposing in the freezer for the next invitee to afternoon tea.  Some in the fridge for me to eat at whatever meal I think fits.  Could be breakfast, late night, mid afternoon, no rules on this.

Showing you here in the cast iron pan I swear by for baking.  I took a slice out to show you the crumb, nice texture, and to demonstrate how cleanly it comes out of the pan.  

The recipe is adapted from the one I use for my trusty standby banana bread, from the Sunset recipe book from the 90s, held together with masking tape and rubber bands.  Instead of bananas, which I didn't have, I used dates, which I did.  I'd already done all the work on soaking (they were dried), boiling and pitting, for the roast veg dish I did for Christmas, so they were ready to go.

Added in a handful of crushed walnuts.  And the last spoonful of homemade cranberry sauce. And, since the dates weren't as moist as bananas, I added in a sploosh of milk.  Worked fine. Those books that tell you you can't experiment with baking are all wet.  You can, within sane limits, substitute practically anything for anything.  Liquid for liquid, solid for solid, I mean by sanity.

And this is likely to be the last entry in Field and Fen for the year. But I am not going to do the thing I really dislike about end of year stuff, the lookback.  For one thing, I have a terrible memory for what happened when and where and to whom, and I have a massive aversion to looking back.  Life is forward movement to me. I do study history, largely to inform myself of the origins of what's up now, not just for nostalgia.  And when it comes to blogs, we can all scroll back if we want to see that stuff again!

The Dollivers point out that it would be good to look back and note all the stuff I failed to make for them, but that's a different sort of lookback. And I pointed out that dolls with new silk dresses have no standing to complain about what else they should have, neener.

The other thing is that is makes me feel really tired to look back over what I've done, and the more I've done, the tireder I get.  I read yet another book about writing a journal recently, since I often wonder if it's a good thing. I have never succeeded in writing more than a couple of little entries.  But some people have a shelf full of journals, their lives chronicled right there.  As they say, it's just the kind of thing you like, if you like that kind of thing.  For me, it's exhaustion on a shelf.  But I like to read about it, anyway. 

A friend of mine, now departed, used to say she loved watching DIY on HGTV.  Not that she wanted ever to do it, just liked watching other people working!  That's me and journals.

However, moaning aside, I do want to wish you, and all of us, a wonderful New Year, hoping for better things for many of my friends for whom this has been a very hard year.  

Take care of you, first, remember the oxygen tip.  Then your nearest and dearest, including your animal friends.  And thank you everyone who has emailed, commented, texted, written, and been in touch as a result of reading my blogs!  I'm honored that you do this, and I treasure every word from you.


Thursday, December 28, 2017

The Crown, Sugar Cookies Redux, and Libe Case in Point

Today being wildly cold, and since I was coughing, probably cold and dry atmosphere,  I stayed home and warm, with the cats, and watched more of Season One of The Crown, now on dvd at the libe.  PIcked it up yesterday, good timing.

Since I remember a lot of the era it covers, and the footage from then, it was interesting to see it from now, if you follow me.

Claire Foy plays the Queen, and does a terrific job of doing the weird accent she used to speak in, which always sounded like a parody voice.  She's moderated it a lot in recent years, and now sounds just like a horsey countrywoman, which I think she'd like to be anyway.   But back then, when poor old Margaret wanted to marry, shock, horror, a divorced man, pearl clutch, Elizabeth says, yooo went to meddy Petah?  Yes, yes, Margaret says, I doo went to meddy heem!

There are some scenes of the King's surgery which I had to not watch, tmi for me, lung cancer.  But other than that, no big scares.

I remember watching the coronation, I think I was about 12, up the street at one of the few houses with a tv in those days, kids all over the floor invited over to watch the endless doings, and falling asleep halfway through.  

The best part is definitely the Zadok the Priest passage, wonderful music.  Funny that I, a staunch anti-monarchist, should like the soap opera aspect of their lives.  But in my family much more significant was that Edmund Hillary and Tenzing climbed Everest, a big first.  And, an even bigger first, Gordon Richards, famous jockey, won the Derby!  all in the same few days.  Great mood of jubilation about the latter two, but, not being Londoners, but Northerners, fairly modified interest in the coronation.  

We did like Queen Salote of Tonga, refusing to use an umbrella in the usual English downpour, insisting on riding all the way in the procession in an open car, through the streets waving to the crowds, soaking wet, and very gracious about the whole weather thing.

Anyway, when I was picking up, at the library, I saw the usual kid's collection exhibit. Kids get to put their legos and teeny erasers and stuff like that in the glass cases, for a time, usually very young kids, doing their own labels proudly and getting all sorts of praise.  

So the legal notice made me fall down laughing, but I see it's one size fits all.  I didn't notice it on the case in a different part of the libe where I exhibited my artist books, come to think of it.  Maybe it's only little kids who are likely to have subversive finger puppets and dangerous keyrings.

And this afternoon, a pot of tea and a couple of sugar cookies seemed like a Good Thing. 

It's the rest of the Martha recipe, which I froze, and I am here to tell you that it works just fine.  Last minute sprinkle of sugar and lemon zest. Cookies came out lovely, and I have some frozen now again, but cooked, ready to take out next time I have a guest to tea.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Recovering from an excellent Christmas Day and looking out again

Here's Handsome Son, pouring out the prosecco for us to toast ourselves before diving into a great feast.  This was after the cheeses and crackers, and before the chocolates and eggnog...

Then today, I'm able to see outside again, and find that there's another pansy. End of December, these guys are intrepid.  We've had frost, snow, ice and rain, and still they persist.

As does this little downy woodpecker, who sat on the feeder for ages defying the marauding squirrel, which has finally figured out how to get to it. 

 He was on there so long I went out to check if he was stuck, but he flew off when I opened the door, so he's fine, just very annoyed with the squirrel. 


Sunday, December 24, 2017

The Dollivers wish us all a Merry Christmas!

The Ds, rockin' their new draped silk dresses, screams of rage from the four who didn't get a fascinator, when they saw Blondie Firstborn in hers, pacified by having each her own design.  

Those who wanted diagonals got them, NameMe wanted a posh cloak and dress, done.  Blondie Firstborn was the only one who thought of a hat, or titfer as she put it, having studied her cockney rhyming slang, so she got one.  It's possible that by New Year they will have ground me down into making four more.

Anyway, they helped with the creche, minimal decorating this year, and stopped arguing long enough to wish you all a good holiday, a Merry Christmas if that's your celebration and a good New Year to come for all of us. 

And I did a bit of displacement knitting, to help with my general struggle with the season, and have a new slot scarf to show for it. 

This is really fun to make, what with the slot and all. It's sage green, which turned into teal in the camera.

Marigold was snoring gently on the other side of the sofa throughout, she having her own way of coping with everything, which is to sleep through it.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Brunetti and Hygge in Three Clicks

At this time of year, I'm far from celebratory, more like tired and a bit down.  And the political news is not helping. However, all is not lost.  It's the solstice, so the days lengthen a bit from now on.  And the Dollivers are about to have new silk dresses, thanks to a gift from Cynthia C, a stitcher friend, lovely fat quarters in several colors, and it won't take much to make Dolliver dresses for their Great Return.  I have not mentioned this to the Ds, for fear of nagging.

My self care is a lot about mysteries, where evil is found out and punished, and good lives happily ever after, more or less.  Clearly, as Oscar Wilde would say, a work of fiction.

And this week it's Brunetti, the police inspector working in Venice, from Donna Leon's novels.  Very good police procedurals, with humor and real characters and amazingly enough, the main character has a happy home life with teenage kids driving him nuts. 

Anyway, some time ago a German production came out, but only now can I get the series with subtitles, since my German goes as far as how are you, and Hansel and Gretel.  I really recommend this is a series which does live up to some good books, worth your while. The only thing is that unless your German is up to it, you have to watch the screen, no knitting or freecelling, or you'll miss vital bits.

And then I finally got some lights.  I never have lights on trees or on the house, but I now have a little string of white lights wound around the branches of my ficus.  They are light in weight, which is good, since ficus branches bend and snap if you hang anything like a regular ornament on them.

My favorite part is that: there's a remote!  With one click, the lights come on.  Another click, and my fireplace lights up.  Third click, and the dvd is ready to go.  Hygge, that fashionable word for cosy, in three clicks!  Makes me laugh every time.  And the white lights can stay on the tree indefinitely, good in winter.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Pommes vertes au miel au-dessous de deux petites crepes

So, after a large bowl of chicken veg soup, for Sunday supper, there arose the need for some sort of dessert.  After looking around the kitchen in a wild surmise, I finally settled on a Granny Smith apple, which I peeled and cored, love that apple corer, use it all the time, then sliced thin and microwaved for a couple of minutes with honey drizzled about.

Then used up the last of the pancake batter to make two little crepes, well, pancakes, a bit sturdy for crepes.  

And it went down very well. 

So I thought I should give it the pretentious name you see above, no doubt what Aunt Dahlia's French chef Anatole, would have said. And Bertie Wooster would probably have been very impressed with. But I bet Anatole would add a dash of kirsch to the contraption.

Pancake batter keeps for days in the fridge.  Just shove all the ingredients into a blender, I add extra milk to the usual recipe, which comes out too thick for my taste.  And go from there.  A lot less trouble than pancakes usually sound.

Pancakes growing up in my house were usually strictly a ritual Shrove Tuesday event, since making them for a large family is a bit of a pain, so it wasn't a casual sort of thing. And the approved condiments were lemon juice and a scatter of sugar.  No honey, syrup, jam, nothing exotic like that. So I feel quite daring making them any old time, and  using honey instead.   And if you like cinnamon this is a good place to shake some.  Or amchur, come to that.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Plant care with early music

So today a lot of hanging plants took a shower and are now drying off in various sinks and tubs. 

 I've found over many years of plant care, that a lot of plants really love to be totally doused, then drained, rather than just a little bit of water now and then.  I think it may imitate the conditions of nature, where there's a rainstorm followed by a period of dry, at least for these plants. It also washes dust off the foliage, helping them breathe better.  

I have a lot of plants that have to stand on the floor, but I still water thoroughly and use a turkey baster to pull out standing water from the saucers. And the ever-shedding Boston ferns can be shaken into the tub and the foliage swept up later, better than having to sweep the floors.

Even the succulents like this treatment, to my surprise.  As long as there's good drainage, all is well.

Take a look at this staghorn fern, coming on by leaps and bounds, as Bertie Wooster would say. I discovered that submerging it about weekly, then leaving it to drain before putting it back in a western window, filtered light through white cotton curtains, suits it fine.  It's even started a new basal leaf, as you see, that little green plate at the bottom of the antlers.  In fact it's moving so fast I may have to study what to do next. 

And I did this today to the accompaniment of early music, of which I'm a total fan.  Recorder players typically are.  Early meaning medieval to Elizabethan.  The later baroque stuff is not to my taste, too showoff, look ma, I can trill, sort of stuff. I love the purity of the real early stuff.  

Of course, seven years of singing plainsong almost daily in my convent high school (hs started at that time at age 11 in the UK), may have affected my take on this.  We used to sing Masses for visiting priests celebrating in our chapel, which was an unusual one, in that it was fully equipped, consecrated, etc., like a church. Most chapels aren't.  

By the time I left school, I could sing ten different masses, and various other small services. From original plainsong notation, not modern transcriptions. Never occurred to us to think it was hard. Mother Gerardine said sing this, so we did..and most of us played modern instruments at home and could sightread modern music notation, too.  When I see early music now, in manuscript form, I can still sightread it.  Takes me right back to the choir gallery in the chapel.

Today it's Julian Bream's consort playing Elizabethans.  If you want to hear what I'm talking about, go here

Friday, December 15, 2017

Birthday joy, and chicken soup

Lovely day today, total lazy lounging about, receiving greetings, tweets, and this bouquet from sister dogonart

Just lovely, many colors,  has to be seen from all sides.  Posed in the kitchen, because the winter light's best there, hence the colander which got in there.  Perfect for a winter's day, as well as a birthday, thank you!

And since it's cold enough for snow, in fact it's snowing, it was a good day for chicken soup.  

Chicken thighs, carrots, yam, onions, scallions, garlic, extra chicken bones, big sprig of thyme, half a dozen curry leaves, salt, pepper, bit of Worcestershire added at the end.  Blended just a bit but leaving plenty of whole vegetable pieces.  Duncan bullied me into a bit of shredded chicken in his bowl, on the grounds that he wanted some. So now I have supplies of soup, always a good thing.

And I made a cool discovery, after the cable cord on my tablet sort of wore out.  In the course of looking online to see what I should buy to replace it, I discovered in the q and a that I could try any micro charger.  So I tried my Kindle charger, and it works a treat. Also has a much longer cord.  I was so used the notion that each device had its own charger and none matched any other, that I hadn't noticed this distinct improvement. My phone charger works, too. No shopping required after all.

Yesterday's joys included a visit from a couple in search of a birthday present for the wife, and we had a visit, tea, cake, chat, and found that her birthday is in fact today!  Happy Birthday Irene!  Not sister Irene, another one, but she pronounces it the same way.

So I guess we were all happy, they because they liked the monotype they chose, I because I was happy to send it to a good new home, and we were amused to find we were birthmates.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Birthdays, wine corks and washing machines

Some wonderful people are Sagittarians, not that we Sags believe in astrology, so let me shout out Piper, Diane, Mare, Tarang and Anthony, all celebrating this week!  Happy Birthday everyone, and many many more.  What good company.  I wish you all knew each other.  And I do thank all the great people who let me know they're donating to a food or rescue bank, and making it my birthday gift. I know they're all the sort of people who don't need to be asked, but it's lovely to feel I'm included!

Meanwhile, back on earth, before I even got the credit card statement for the washing machine replacement at my rental, my own machine here at the townhouse went the way of all metal.  Dangit, it pretended to go through the cycle, but was only phoning it in when it came to actually spinning and draining.

Sooooo, back to the people I now know by name, to see about another machine.  The good part is that I know who I'm dealing with now, that they did a good job, was it only two weeks ago, and that this time the space for the new washer is standard size, no going all over creation to find something to fit.

After I get my old Honda beater into the dealer tomorrow for a repair, which is probably, judging by the washing machine prices, going to astonish me.  Sigh.

I have to allow for a nice lady who's coming this week to pick out a piece of art, so I'd better wait a few days before I start emptying the walls, currently covered in art, and moving furniture to let the old washer come downstairs, round two corners, and the new one go up likewise.

Also today a not so good encounter at a local pretty upscale supermarket, where the employee I asked for directions to a product I was in search of, started to ridicule my request.  This happened one time before, different employee, and I read the riot act in writing to the manager, who humbly apologized, ran a staff meeting to remind folks of civility to customers, etc., and I eventually began to shop there again.  

This time I  wasn't so flustered, and met the ridicule with a steely glare and a repeat of my request in low, cold tones.  Whereupon the guy went red, his turn to be flustered and stammered, oh, sorry, sorry, didn't mean, uh, I mean..obviously having finally realized people get fired for this kind of  talk to women nowadays. And that I may be old and small and talk funny, but I can handle bigger men than he. And that he doesn't get to decide what's funny to me. So that store is off my list, and anyone who asks will hear why.

On the other hand, this time it didn't take a formal letter of complaint to elicit an apology.  So possibly the #MeToo wave is starting to wash over nonfamous men, too.  Let's hope.

Meanwhile, back to civilization, in the studio..several books on carving and whittling from the library, and I quickly realized that while I wasn't interested so much in what they suggested,  I'm still interested in some sort of carving adventure. 

And until I get my hands on some wood, I also realized, I have another carveable material to hand.  I've made stamps from wine corks, so I don't want to repeat that, but there are other possibilities.  

Since I can't drink my beloved red wine any more, having fingered it as the culprit in my ever increasing heartburn, dangit, why couldn't it have been oatmeal or whitefish or something, I may as well use up the corks anyway.

This will probably involve carving and painting, silly fun. And while I was waiting for the carving books, these slippers happened. 

What you make when you're waiting to make something.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

First snowfall of winter 2017 to 18

After a long fall and mild temps, flowering cherry trees out in bloom last week, we got our first snowfall of the season. Great air of urgency over our couple of inches! probably very amusing to readers in places where snow has been a feature for months already, complete with whiteouts.

I do admit to running out for milk this morning as the snow started, because with terrible timing, I was completely out.  Milk is a vital life force in this house.

Aside from that, my prep consisted of rummaging through my storage closet outside to find my snow shovel.  That's about it. 

Then indoor plant care was needed, complete with lugging plants about, sweeping up all the fallen leaves from the ficus tree, which is nearly eight feet tall, and at this time of year, when the indoor air is dry and warm, starts losing leaves. She'll recover next spring as soon as she can go outside again.  It's the time of year when I have to cut back on how much I do for indoor plants,since they're slowing down now, and trying to get a bit of a rest.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Bored book, chicken and biscuits

Current reading is Bored and Brilliant, really engrossing study of how using tech can splinter our attention, change our brains, and how all is not lost!  A while back I reported on my resolve to recapture my attention span for longer reading, and managed to do it.  Evidently I'm not the only person worrying about thoughts all over the map, and the danger of losing that long term attention span.

And to prove how engrossing it was, I eventually looked up and it was about an hour after I'd planned to start dinner.  That's because when I looked up at the top right corner of the page, there was no time indicator..So I jumped to it, and put the oven on, hot enough for my regular biscuit recipe, a castiron pan in, as it warmed up, then roasted two nice pieces of chicken from the fridge, along with baking the biscuits.  Chicken dusted with kosher salt, lemon zest (from the freezer, always good to have some around) and fennel seeds.

Biscuits done in 12 minutes, at 425F, chicken another ten minutes. Tonight's supper on the plate, tomorrow's chicken and supply of hot biscuits in the background. Really good, and I was able to get back to my book without too much delay. Well, aside from dealing with the smoke alarm which has a personal vendetta against any recipe requiring an oven hotter than a nice gentle 350F.  And toast. It hates toast.

About the book, though, it's really a plan, which people who follow her podcast Note to Self,  know all about, to develop a better use of tech, rather than be leashed to it at all times and feeling unable to complete a task or a thought, even, without checking something, anything.  It's well researched, and I think blogistas who use smartphones more than they ever meant to at the outset might like to look at it.  I heard her discuss the book on WNYC, and since she mentioned her kids, thought at first she had written a board book..noooooo, much better.

Many of our readers are not in the incessant use category, but it's an interesting read, even if for theoretical purposes! A lot of us were, ahem, mature, before the current wave of technology hit, so we have a lot of experience in reading print material, in actual conversation, in real time social life. That helps avoid being overwhelmed.

As an artist, I'm used to focusing on what I need to, and letting my mind go wherever it needs to in the course of developing new works.  In my own experience, the right brain is completely unimpaired by using devices, even my Twitter habit, unlike the analytical left brain, the reading part, which wants everything short and to the point.

I notice, however, and this relates to her point about boredom, that my best art ideas come when I'm tired and have decided to just retire from making art.  Just damn well stop.  That has lasted at most a couple of weeks, then ideas come at me from all over and I have to use them.  And the energy to do it comes back with them. It's emotional as well as mental energy. Art takes a lot of that.  

I think Minoush would probably say, aha, you just stopped dwelling, and let things unfold, that's the point!  And I think it is. Chance favors the fallow mind, as well as the prepared one.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Vicks plant, succulents and incidental finds

At the herb event I attended back in October, I was given a cutting of vicks plant by one of the gardening gurus, and stuck it in water at home until I could see what was what.  This is a velvety plant, which smells of vicks vaporub, in fact I would guess it's the natural origin of that mentholated stuff.  

It promptly rooted in the water, very exciting, then I bust off a piece to see if that would root.  And it did.  So I thought I'd better learn more about this plant.  Turns out it's related to coleus, species plectranthus, no wonder it rooted so obligingly.  And I found a youtube video about propagating, and found it's as easy as busting off pieces and rooting them in potting soil.  They used rooting hormone, which I've never bothered with, not being in a mad rush to get the roots going.

Then, in the course of digging out a suitable pot from the storage closet outside the front door, where I keep a bunch of them with soil in, like prep cooks doing vegetables ahead of time, I picked one out.  And found when the water wouldn't go through very fast, that it was the one I'd put the ginger roots in way back, which I'd given up on.  It got mixed up with the ones with soil but no occupants. But here it goes with a little shoot!  so it's back in the house to await further developments.  When there's something big enough for a pic, I'll pic it.

And another pot did for the little bits of vicks, seen here complete with now empty glass, scissors for cuttings, and spoon, the handle of which made a hole for each cutting.  All highly technical.

Then I put them among their friends, plants do seem to like company, to create a micro climate, but out of the direct sun.  We'll see if we end up with a much bigger set of plants. This is the kitchen, west-facing, window.  Soon I'll have to start cooking in the living room at this rate.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Play with your food!

So I found this idea in Martha Stewart, at the library, today, and thought, hm, that looks like fun.  And I had some wonton wrappers left from the Tiny Pie caper.

Wonton wrappers, folded twice, into quarter moons,  and cut out like those paper stars kids make, unfolded, fried very fast, sprinkled with confectioner's sugar.  I accidentally picked up two one time and had cut them before realizing. So you can do labor saving, and cut them in multiples if you get impatient.

At this point, don't look away for a second!  this is lightning fast frying.

They're crisp, crackly to eat, and just fun, really. 

 Craft and food intersect with this one.

Preserve hike today, bright sun

Great afternoon for a hike on the Preserve, sunny, cold, not windy.  Not many birds in evidence, probably too early in the afternoon, and none on the lake at all.  One sole turkey vulture swooping and soaring overhead, good updraft today.  

Two female deer browsing in the field.  The one you see here in sunlight.

I took a pic from two hundred yards away, and as soon as the little clunk sounded, one of them looked up sharply and watched me for a couple of minutes before she went on feeding. No pix, since their camouflage worked so well in the photo you can't pick them out.

A while later, after I'd walked in the beechwood 

and come out again, she again looked across sharply, but then went on feeding. 

Beaver activity evident today, some big trees felled.  I believe there's a beaver lodge in the lake just below where these trees have been cut down, or gnawed down.

Near here were a couple of fall warblers, judging from the way they fluttered about, like the butterflies of the bird world.  One went to perch in a tall white birch, and was promptly knocked back off it by a robin already in residence.

And I sat at the edge of the lake for a bit, just watching the water. It's very deep indeed here, nobody allowed in or on it, and the fish thrive.

 A fallen cherry tree is host to an interesting colony of fungi which look very much like seashells.

As I got up, a little hitchhiker fell off my sleeve, and began to make her way to some new destination.

So then I came home to tea.