Monday, August 31, 2009

Fun with fungi

Late summer, and the flowers out front are at that point where they are as good as they're going to get, without much care. Cooler weather means they're not parched by ten a.m., so they don't get watered so much. But the wildflowers are tenacious -- the mustard goes on and on except near the path where I think the rabbits enjoyed it, spicy salad for them, I guess. And the wild flax, tiny little blue flowers hard to photograph, keeps on showing up here and there wherever it wants to, among the official flowers. Bachelor's buttons keep showing up, and tiny wild phlox-like flowers. A new tiny crop of nasturtiums showed up in the pot I'd emptied and replanted with other seeds.

The nice thing about this part of the world is that we have a long growing season, long summer, first frost rarely happens before mid October and then it's only a light one decorating the pumpkins nicely. Killing frost often holds off till November even. Fine by me. By then even I'm ready for the Great Indoors.

And I had to show you the fungi in the local park, from above and from the side, because they are the cause of my making a fool of myself, one of many occasions in my life, I have to say.

I was out years ago walking KC the Dalmatian, and noticed these nasty little heaps just like these, in the grass, and grumbled, hm, somebody isn't picking up after their DOG, if I can do it, they can do it, all it takes is a couple of bad owners, and there are little kids playing out here not to mention other dogs whose health should be considered, grumble grumble chunter chunter, etc. etc.

Next day even more of them. Aaarrrghghg, worse and worse, and what's more that dog needs to see the vet, it must be in intestinal trouble.

Third day, and I noticed that the little heaps were now standing up on stems, had a beautiful acid green underside and were clearly now seen to be fungi.....oh. Good thing I didn't write to the paper about it, is all I could say. Anyone who can identify them for me is welcome to do so! I now know they are not dogdooiensis newjerseyana.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


We survived the Great Flooring of 09 today. Starting with the crew arriving an hour and a half early, and having to be sent away again, till I'd finished HP's morning care, which I'd started early anyway, but it takes up to two hours, and I'd asked them not to show before 10. As they left the chief person was studying the paperwork and saying in Russian, I guess,dangit, shoulda read this before.....

Great crew though, they did a wonderful job, really good craftsmen, complete with earrings, shorts falling off, very teenage styles, but could they work. They were just meticulous, worked as a good team, and didn't miss a thing. No nailpop went unturned, and the trim work was beautiful. They finished by mopping, sweeping and polishing the new floor before bringing the furniture in again.

This is the same company that did the condo for me, and though these are new and younger guys, just as good as the others. Not a word of English other than good morning and goodbye, but they were good humored, joking away all day in, I think Russian, maybe Polish I don't recognize the rhythms well enough to know.

So all is happy chez Adams this evening. The ceaseless din has ended, the floor is pretty and the cats are considering whether they will continue to live here since their request to keep the grotty old rug was overruled.

The hard part was being stuck in the kitchen, very cramped, but I was able to set up HP with his card table for his newspapers, pens, multiple spectacles, drinks, later lunch and snacks. I had done a dry run of moving him into the kitchen to see if we could navigate two quick right angle turns with a big chair in a small space, and we just about did it.

Then it was BORING, not being able to get out and about the house, and having to listen to the din, and not having the AC on since all the doors were wide open for the workers. They put a lot of our stuff out on the patio, mercifully the weather is fine, so the screen door was open, and the front door had to be permanently open for tools and cords and generators and whatever the heck else was making the racket. And of course the landscapers came around to add to the din with mowers and hackers and blowers and snowers and who knowers.

but it is so worth it. Expensive, but I keep on saying bravely, we're only doing this ONCE!

Interesting social sidelight here: in this region most construction is done by Russians and Poles, most landscaping by Hispanics, and most human services work, like home health aides, by Ghanaians, Haitians and other people from the islands. No idea why this is so, but it is.

A generation ago, I remember hiring, and all the landscapers, including the owners of the companies, were Italian, all the construction people were US born catholics. most of German descent. Different waves of immigration.

So, the Big Floor is Done, yay. And I really like the warm color, which you will see in action, more or less. Next comes the return of the which point the house will look more like a place I can show to a prospective cleaning crew so they can tell what they would be doing. That's the next part of the Plan.

I already put out multiple feelers for companion for Andy a couple of times a week, and everyone is on vacation till September.....

Reading while imprisoned in the kitchen today: Heartburn by Norah Ephron, or maybe it's Delia, anyway, one of the Ephrons, a delicious revenge book officially a novel replete with recipes, but really she wrote it to piss off Carl Bernstein after he did terrible stuff to her, full of references to Washington figures I don't know about, but it is still funny in a name-dropping kind of way.

I've read this before but I found it while we were moving books, so you never know. I would not recommend a single recipe from this book unless you really do want heartburn. Terrible stuff, wall to wall stodge. But fun to read about, not to eat!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Moving of the Books

HS and I yesterday moved several thousand million books from the living room which is to be refloored, and several hours later, most of them were stacked up the stairs, along the upstairs hallway and in other rooms upstairs. Today I moved several hundred thousand artworks upstairs because they can't deal with the dust that will ensue in the flooring process.

And the amazing sight of empty bookcases was seen in the land. And blank walls, looking forlorn and a bit grubby. The bookcases have almost all been moved, seizing the opportunity to set them up better. They'll never be empty again.

And Marigold, anxiously guarding the ancient wall to wall rug which is to be hauled joyfully away on Wednesday.

This is the part where I fervently wish it were All Done, and I'm so tired from the general stresses of the week plus the heavy lifting, though HS did a huge amount of work in his free time. I had fed him a hearty lunch first, to make sure his energy was fueled.

But at this point everything I want to do is somewhere else in a safe place. Likewise paperwork is carefully stored. Somewhere.

And I have plans for quite a few of these here books, which will not be missed, heheh, evil chuckle. One the other hand, we did make a few nice discoveries in the process of moving them. A couple of terrific First Day Covers (stamp collectors know what these are) that Andy prizes which had gone missing years ago, between books. A great battered Giles annual which we fell all over laughing at yet again. If you don't know the cartoonist Giles, look him up on google or Amazon. Very very funny even years later.

A while back when I was sorting and winnowing my own books, I found a couple of Japanese 19th century woodblock prints which I love and had been wondering for ages what happened to them -- put for safety into a big art catalog. So sometimes it pays to clean! not often enough to make it a regular event, let's not get carried away here...

Friday, August 21, 2009

Second chance sunflowers and puppies

Remember I missed the chance on the field of sunflowers recently? just to show there are second chances, my own in the container on the patio came out, and take their bow here.

So today is another day, and I will probably go for housekeeping help, and regular companion hours for HP, and I'll do his physical care. I ran this idea past his nurse this morning, her last Medicare enabled visit, and she, knowing him and me, thought it was a heck of a good idea.

As she pointed out, aside from the emotional stress of dealing with agencies and having strangers in and out and having to train every single new one and being unable to leave them alone to operate the Hoyer, it would actually be easier to do it myself, now that I know what I'm doing with HP's nursing care.

And if the house were taken care of and the considerable laundry HP generates, the physical toll would be a lot less than now that I'm doing all of it anyway. She also suggested putting around word of mouth for a nice person to stop in and stay with HP regularly, as a paid position someone either known to me or to a friend, no nursing required, just sitting there with him while I get out for a couple of hours, in case anything happens that I'm needed for. Someone who could bring her knitting, or graduate student homework, that kind of person. So I've started on putting the word around, at the library, great center for passing on news and needs!

And in September I'll call the Theological Seminary to see if I can interest one of their mature (they really are mature, often middle aged, people with their own parishes, finishing up advanced degrees here) students into doing this for a few bucks, opportunity to sit and do their papers and reading.

After the floor is finished, which will be midweek, I'll get onto the cleaning service, and follow up on one I was talking to before HP's health collapsed. Get prices, schedules, etc.

So I'm still on the books of two agencies but not as frantic to have them get in touch now that I have other thoughts. HP's nurse liked my idea so much that she plans to recommend it to other patient families in similar situations!

So now that I have some plans to look at, things don't look as black, more a kind of slate grey.

Shortly after she left the house Missy, the neighboring eleven week old Bernese Mountain Dog, or Mountain Puppy, wambled by with her owner, and was very excited when I went out to get pix to show HP. She has already learned not to jump on me, and is doing sit pretty well, at least for very brief periods! she was too happy to see me to get focused on posing, but she did her best.

Miss thinking about sitting.

Missy sitting.

Missy tired of sitting.

Cheered me up a whole lot.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Bad Day at Black Rock

Usually I try to keep my crying to myself, but today was a bit much.

A series of things, ranging from minor, like the plates with the lunch on them falling out of the refrigerator and smashing hopelessly, to major like an email telling me of the death of a friend from long ago, a talented and wonderful woman I last saw some time ago at a knitting event.

Followed within minutes with a call from our home health agency to say our wonderful aide has quit on us, won't even complete the week. After telling me yesterday she was sick that day but was planning to be back as usual on Thursday and Friday.

To say the latter two were a big blow is putting it mildly. The loss of a friend from your circle, and I've had quite a few of these by this point in life, is so hard to deal with. I keep on thinking of the last time I saw her, how good it was to be in her company again. Way too young to be gone.

And the loss of the aide is a crippling blow to my energy which has been kept up with the, sporadic, admittedly, help from that agency -- it's very hard to recruit and keep good people, and the best ones quickly get overworked --but, oh, gosh, I could hardly talk from disappointment and fear.

I instantly called another agency to get them onto a search. But this is tough. No way to say it in a good humored way. And these are people we're paying out of pocket, and still not able to get and keep them. Endless arrangements that don't stay made.

So I may have to be creative in a different way, and see if I should look for a cleaning service to do the whole house and the laundry, so that my main physical work will be with Andy when we don't have help coming in. It's a better use of funds, maybe. At any rate, I have to keep on juggling.

Meanwhile I thought the facial expression on the battered old turtle I snapped, pun intended (he was a snapper, so I didn't get too close) at the end of the street yesterday, sums up my current feelings about The World and The Hand I've Been Dealt.

And the yarn I've spun up from my dyed fluff, is part of my cure!

not to mention the front yard, which cheers me every time I come back from the mailbox with more bills in my hand...

Monday, August 17, 2009

The Mouse that Roared Yaaaarrrrrnnnnn

Here's a Mighty Mouse. Knitted from the yarn I: processed from fleece, carded, spun and painted. Phew. Then designed into a mousy shape, stuffed with carded fluff, braided a tail, and voila! Or viola, as one of my friends says, probably mixing it up with the musical instrument.

Anyway, this is big out of all proportion to its size. I made it as an experiment to see if my single spun yarn would knit up, and it did, and to find out how soft or not soft this particular fleece is. The answer is: pretty sturdy, maybe even tough enough to use as warping yarn when I get brave, certainly knittable, but probably not soft enough for clothes you wear next to your skin.

What amazes me is how recently I had no clue about how any of these processes, other than the knitting, worked at all. Big adventure in art. So now I really can create the yarns I need for tapestry work, which was my original intent. Or for knitted wallhangings.

Marigold likes the mouse better than she liked the fleecy stuff, and I let Mus, posh Latin name for mouse, loose on the kitchen floor. You know what they say, though, if you see one there are 20 behind the baseboards...

And I note belatedly that this is my century post! 100 blogposts have happened somehow or other while I wasn't looking. Or so my counter tells me.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Late summer on the pond, Plainsboro, not Golden

This time of year is a mixture of late summer, with hot and humid weather, and early Fall, with sightings ranging from sumac getting its berries to wild asters breaking out, see below,and fall fungi starting up -- I don't pick these, since I'm not expert enough to be sure. I do know where morels are, but I honorably don't pick them either, since they're in a wilderness area.

Then there are colonies of mosses and lichens all over the place, typical in a region like this with a lot of humidity, warm nights, hot days, rain and mixed woodlands, conifers and all kinds of hardwoods and deciduous trees.

And a mystery plant, by the water, but this is not a loosestrife, that invader, I know those pretty well, but some other plant. Any insight gladly accepted on the identity of it.

Have you noticed how in the wild purple is a majority color? white and yellow, a bit of pink, but most often purples and mauves.

And the bridge over the Pond, which I wasn't happy about when they first built it, since it opened up the end of what had been a nice little island, perfect for letting your dog run safely. Except for my dog Kerry, the collie/terrier mix, who ran right off the end of it into the water one time and found herself learning to swim...the joke at work when I said, she's a wonderful dog, she blends the best of both breeds, was, yeah? you mean she herds rats? Bob H. was the author of this bon mot, so must take the blame for it.

But then the barnswallows found the bridge and adopted it as housing, so the nests they built under it, one of their favorite types of habitats, produced generations of barnswallows who kept the mosquito population down dramatically.

So I present it to you. All these pictures were taken in a half hour walk beside Plainsboro Pond today while HS was visiting HP.

Giverny? who needs Giverny????

Friday, August 14, 2009

Not cotton candy, but it plays one in blogland

I have now carded and blended and recarded the fleece I dyed the other day, and I really like the effects. It's soft as a cloud, amazing how far it came from the fleece you saw weeks back, which was all potential. And the colors are pretty nice, clear, and we'll see what they look like spun up. Couldn't resist organizing the current output into a sunburst of color.

Some of the rolags are one color, others are blended, two colors usually, and all are ready to spin and take their place in the current tapestry.

Which I'm rethinking. The original cartoon is too complex for the dpi in this piece, so I'm simplifying it and using more blocks, fewer little interstices. And I'm thinking of throwing out all but my own homespun, since the colors of commercial yarn kind of flatten the effect. Fortunately tapestry is slow work, so there's plenty of time to consider and reconsider without heartbreak.

We now have a date for the Installation of the Flooring! Wednesday after next. They promised not to come before 10 a.m. to let HP get all his nursing care completed and be moved into the kitchen and set up for the day out of the traffic.

So now all I have to do is move all the artwork off the walls. About 40 pieces, some fragile. And get the books out of the bookcases, six large ones. And move the various small ornaments out of harm's way. I've started every time I go upstairs, which I do a lot, to take an armload of books with me, just to put a dent into the task. HS will help a bit at the weekend, but his free time is mainly meant to take care of HP on Saturday.

And it is a good chance to rethink the whole house! HP's eyes roll at this, so typical of Herself, he thinks....but I can make over the big bedroom, now only used to store supplies for HP, into my yarn/spinning/library/keyboard/flute/recorder/sheet music for all above, area. Of course, the fact that a lot of the floor area is taken by a large bed is a mere trifle.

Then some of the books won't come back down again. But HP's books will, since he loves to be surrounded by them, even though he scarcely gets to read them now. He's reading more on CDs than print, because it's less tiring to do.

So all this is going on, along with the spinning and carding and fiber art planning, and the gardening planning -- divisions of various plants, mainly daylilies, to give away.

And for the next big batch of pesto. Yesterday I made the first pesto of the year, having just finished up last year's harvest in a terrific ravioli with red sauce I made (ravioli made using wonton wrappers of course, stuffed with shredded chicken and fake crab and spices and minced veggies, made and frozen a few days ago).

The basil is in a container, planted as seed, and it's amazingly good, so I'll get at least one more batch before I get tired of the idea! I use minced basil, best olive oil, crushed walnuts (don't like pine nuts much), garlic, parmesan grated, all mixed, then pressed into ziplock freezer bag so that it's thin and flat, then I freeze it. It stands on its side like a thin book in the freezer, and you just unzip, break off exactly the amount you need and zip it up. Last for ages this way without going off.

Aside from that I plan to take the rest of the day off.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Dyed in the Wool!

Today's art adventure is literally about Dyed in the Wool! I've been experimenting with various ways of coloring the carded fleece and the spun yarn, to see what I like to do, and show you early work on this. Also dyed a bit of cotton roving, jury still out on that.

The rolag and whitish yarn and green yarn are the same thing at different stages. The undyed yarn comes out the natural color you see, much less white than the rolag, but spinning up nicely. Then I dyed a rolag and spun it, to result in the green yarn you see, which I love, very variegated when you handle it. No need for it to be washfast, since this is yarn which is going into my current tapestry. In fact I need it as soon as it's dry! it's the next section in my current area of work. The colors I used were watercolor inks I had lying around in the studio, so old that the stoppers had melted onto the bottles, high time they were used. I also dyed, but didn't picture, a bunch of handspun with black walnut ink and it took up nicely, soft variegated effect.

I now remember that I did paint a bunch of yarn, too, on the holder, which means I should go and find it and see if I like it. Used various colors for that, to see what a wild variety would do as it is used in the tapestry work.

I have been reading on a website about spinners who have multiple hand spindles and wondered why you needed more than one, until I started with color and realized my spindle was occupied with one when I needed it for another....

I left this dyed wool up in the studio to dry on a day with 103 degree F. heat index, which did the job fine. I don't put the ac on in the third floor, and keep a curtain between that floor and the rest of the house, so though it's a bit hot for people in summer and cold for people in winter, it's fine for some art procedures.

And I seized the chance, at cleanup, to use white pillowslips to collect the leftover dye, for future art use, and you see that in the background of one of the dyebath pix. This happens to me all the time, that what I'm working on produces material for some other purpose.

Keen observers will note that in the red/orange/yellow family of dyes there, the dye material is KoolAid, you see the little packets, not something I'd ever drink, but good for dyeing yarn and fleece. I used it straight in one or two sections, then mixed in others.

Each section of that knife drawer thing I pressed into service has a rolag lying in a bath of cold dye, and we'll see what happens. I'll leave it there a while then press it out and see where we go, and re use the dye for some other purpose. I love safety in art, and foodgrade dyes are definitely my cup of tea. If you follow me.

What I plan to do, once the rolags are dry, is to recard them, to mix colors and incorporate white rolag with colored, and various shades of the reds together. This gives a nice variegated effect, not the flat flat effect of solid dyed yarns.

One odd thing that happens with age is that your language skills undergo weird transitions. You know how you're trying to think of a word and your brain offers you a selection of possibilities, same number of syllables, same general rhythm, same number of letters, even, but it's the wrong word? No? hang around, it'll happen! my current one is hilarious, because every time I try to talk about tapestry, it comes out as manuscript. Which is likely, given that I have had a sort of career as a freelance writer over the years, but right now is not the word I want to keep saying! however, as long as I know it's the wrong word, I guess I'm safe...

Speaking about tv, which we weren't, but life can't be all about work... since I switched us over to dish, in order to stop sending ridiculous amounts of money to the cable company, who kept on putting up the rates and reducing the channels, we have some channels we didn't have before, one of them being a charming smaller public tv station out of Long Island (Lawn Guyland to them as grew up there), and which has nice stuff like Jacques Pepin, and detective series like Rosemary and Thyme, which is old and therefore I'm guessing cheaper programming.

Last night we watched R and T which is about two women gardeners and landscapers who are accidental detectives. The premise is that any premise they're on gets a murder or two going. Honestly, you wonder why anyone hires them, really, dangerous people, but very very entertaining and I love the gardening info that gets slipped in there, too.

They're out on DVD, if anyone wants to check the libe, or who knows maybe Netflix has them, don't know, but they are very nice viewing as an antidote to all the bad news in the real world. I do keep up with news but refuse to wallow in it.

About the flooring: thank you everyone for all the emails and notes and comments and reasoning for the comments, and they were all very helpful. I had as my finalists the dark walnut one, the midrange dark cherry and the pale light cherry, and I noted who liked which based on the light level where they live! people who loved the walnut live much further south than I do, and their light level is routinely higher than here, and then people who liked the light color live much further north, with correspondingly different light level and color.

I moved the samples around over and over at times of day, and realized the walnut looked a bit dead in some lights, and might be gloomy in our winter, and that the pale one looked a bit flimsy in the high light of summer. One of our neighbors had a pale floor put in and it looks just a bit institutional. So I ended up with the Flare Cherry, which turned out to be very close to what I put in the condo years ago, and which I really liked, warm but not gloomful in winter.

Anyway, thanks so much, you were a great help in a big financial decision.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Rolags, tapestries, Duncan and Marigold, quartet!

I've warped up the three parts of the next tapestry I plan on, and show you a pic here, complete with Duncan supervising the whole procedure, in which he has a vested interest, since some of his fur has been spun up and will be included eventually.

These three will hang as you see, vertically, joined by some interesting form of something which will appear to me once they're done, so as to hang as one piece. I'm working the warp sideways, meaning that I weave the usual way up, but the warp will become horizontal in the end for the hanging part. I did this because it makes some of the shapes more manageable as I go. Also because it's fun.

Bottom section is the earth tones, including my handwoven personal fleece, plus some cotton roving, the fuzzy stuff, and will include a lot of other yarns as I go. Same design, different colors, will be used for middle and top sections.

So I'm carding and spinning up a storm on account of needing the supplies. Spinning singles, i.e. not plied yarns for two reasons: one is I don't need plied yarn for my purposes right now, and the other is that I don't know how to ply anyway yet. I notice that my spinning is producing stuff that's less slubby and more yarny now, and that the fleece is spinning up a treat, lovely and rough enough to cling and stay spun.

I put all my current output of carded and rolagged fleece down on the floor sample that will become our choice (the mid range cherry, for them as wonders, thank you all for a ton of answers and interesting thoughts to consider) and Marigold is deeply suspicious of the whole thing. I wanted to see just how much stuff I have up to now.

I can see her thinking, hey, some animal's hair was TORN OFF to make that stuff, well, she's not getting mine, that's all I have to say. So there's a series of her approach/avoidance Burmese way of stating her case, in between running about and marking the furniture with her scent to make sure this animal doesn't come to life and start barking at her or something.

HP feeling pretty well these days, skin in excellent shape since I put the sheepskin backrest on the wheelchair and the pads behind his legs on the rests, good old sheepskin, in addition to unremitting other care, I might say, from our whole team.

Incidentally, there was no need to adhere the backrest, since the leather natural back of the sheepskin just clings on its own, doesn't slip. But now that the legrests are proving to be a good idea, I will velcro them in place. Or duct tape them depending on my current energy level and mood and whether I can find the velcro.

And he's mentally clearer too at the moment, able to listen with great pleasure to whole detective novels on CD, which is huge, and wonderful. And he's awake till maybe 10 at night, a much more normal kind of life than dropping to sleep in the early evening till next morning. All in all, he's finally doing better and I'm fervently happy about it. Much more like his old self, some jokes returning, noticing more about his surroundings, asking questions. It's more like some kind of a life.

HS's birthday lunch went over well, and as usual he departed taking the remains of the cake with him, our family custom, as part of his birthday loot! he went off to the shore after our family do, to continue celebrating with his friends there, no doubt.

Friday, August 7, 2009

August, time for books and flooring

One of the big deal decisions I have made is to replace the grotty old wall to wall rug downstairs with a laminate flooring. I've done this before, in another home, so it's not a mystery. But this time is a bit different.

For one thing, it's expensive and I'm guarding every penny of HS's tiny savings to keep him at home for as long and as well as we can, so paying for private care once Medicare has run out, which it almost has, is a priority, as is paying for all the supplies that nobody covers. And then there's the mortgage. People tend to assume that if you're old you have a paid up mortgage. Nooooooo. Still years of obligations. And as long as he has any savings, he can't qualify for Medicaid, so it's a strategic headache, is what it is.

On the other hand, if you ever tried to operate a Hoyer lift with a helpless patient on a carpeted floor and experienced the physical stress of doing it, you will see why the manufacturers tell you it's not only not recommended, it's not safe, either.

So I bit the bullet and when the aide was with HS today, went over to get quotes and deets on measuring, how to logistically do this whole thing, in the one and only downstairs room we have outside the kitchen, while not exhausting HS with dust, moving, etc. etc.

I went to a place I dealt with before with knowledgeable people, who agreed that something MUST be changed, and it better be laminate rather than any form of carpeting, and said they'd just got through refitting a local hospital floor with laminate because they needed something better than tile for use with Hoyer lifts and wheeled hospital beds, both of which we have. The price stunned me briefly, but we simply have to do it.

And I tell myself, it's not like spending money, exactly, but rather reshaping it into real estate value, which is definitely true. Then I cheered up quite a bit on getting home and actually measuring the area and finding I'd wildly overestimated its size. I'd been remembering the footprint of the whole townhouse, rather than the area in question. Phew. And in view of our special situation, they let me bring home floor samples of colors to see at home and show HS, who is somewhat, um, resistant to the whole idea.

He's a true Scot, has been foretelling his own death for most of the 50 years I've known him, and he did it again -- asked if I could live with this floor, would I like it, because he wouldn't be around. Etc. etc. This is the guy whose aunt died last year at 93. So I kept a straight face, and assured him it would be beautiful, but that he would be around for a long time to enjoy it, too. I said I'm planning on your being here years and years, don't go ruining my plan. At which point his aide broke up completely and had to leave the room to laugh. She's very tactful.

So I show you three colors I picked, and I'm leaning now to one now to another, depending on where in the room they are. If you would like to weigh in, please do so, telling me right left or middle as to what you like. This is something like getting one of those tiny paint samples and holding it up to a wall to estimate how it looks....but it will probably be all done in the next couple of weeks, and we may live through it. This is the first day I've felt strong enough to tackle this on top of everything else, but it seems like a prudent move for any number of reasons.

What I have are a light cherry, a dark cherry, and a walnut. All our furniture is wildly mismatched kinds of wood, ranging from real antiques in rosewood and walnut, to cheapo laminated bookshelves in "walnut" and MDF with white that's not an issue. The bed is dark brown metal stuff, the hoyer lift sort of silvery metally stuff.

So that's the scary financial stuff.

On to books! beach and backyard and patio reading since it's August, and I can pretend to be on vacation.

Hugely recommended is The Mighty Queens of Freeville, by Amy Dickinson, who is kind of the new version of Ann Landers or someone of that nature, a problem solving columnist, but is also a totally terrific writer, much to my surprise, actually. She is very honest, quite dorky, and understands what she calls dorkitude almost as well as that woman who appears with a funny voice on This American Life, and gets all excited by trips to battlefields, and her name will come back to me as soon as I hit post, and perhaps a kind reader will tell me who I'm talking about. The one who played recorder on the air, very amateurishly and bravely, that one.

Anyway, AD understands about people who would rather jam on the recorder than be cool, and whose idea of fun is visiting historic markers and eating at diners. That kind of person. Very unglam. What a relief. Very touching stuff, too, where she talks about her family and her cat and her single mother years and her mom. Anyway, just read it, okay? you'll be glad. It's short, easy reading because so well written.

And I scored two brand new knitting books at the informal local version of Freecycle -- outside the dumpster! I think I know who put them there, a local knitting friend, and I've read and enjoyed them. They're essays about knitting and why it's good, with various anecdotes, and a few patterns, basically a nice read rather than a keepit book, so having had my nice read, I'll be happy to give these away to anyone who wants them. Here are the covers, so you can see what sort of thing I'm talking about. Perfectly clean new condition.

If you want one of the knitting books, please drop me an email at and be sure and give me a mailing address! and I will plow through the hundreds of requests and pick two at random, as Click and Clack say, and ship to the lucky winners....

Now I'm off to the farm to buy corn for tomorrow's birthday lunch for HS, and new potatoes and I think that's all that's needed, the rest of the doings already being in the house. The farm you saw in the pictures, in fact, the building where the flag is. There.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Massive storms and mallows and synaesthesia

First, white rabbits, an old saying for the first thing you do on the first of the month, bit late, but I just realized it's August. And a lovely bush of pink mallows by the local Plainsboro Pond, as a bouquet for the birthdays of all those friends whose day is in August -- HS very soon, Eepy, too, PaulabethL, Liane, and no doubt other people who will be all annoyed that I forgot them, sorry, but take the flowers as yours, too.

Major huge ginormous storm yesterday, tornadoes not far away, but we were spared, however we had a pure black sky with incredible amounts of rain falling, the kind you can't even see through.

HP was not well, needed a prescription, but his nurse said, okay, I spoke with the doc, she called it in, and YOU ARE NOT TO GO OUT FOR IT IN THIS STORM! heh, nice team looking after both of us. I waited till the storm abated, found that the computer system of the whole area was down because of the storm, so the pharm had to write out everything by hand, couldn't process the whole script, but gave me two pills to get HP started, since it's antibiotic, better get into it right away, and it was quite exciting all in all.

I did get a walk in,the soccer field briefly became quite a picturesque lake, and I got a pic which is taken in the water, reflecting the black sky with a bit of sun attempting to emerge.

And the sky suddenly recovering after the storm. This is why I love to live here -- constant interesting stuff in the sky.

Today I got out for a while as HP's aide was taking care of him, and went down to Plainsboro Pond at the end of the street I used to live on, and found a bunch of big snails enjoying the sun at the edge of the dam. They can't normally get up there, but the water was so high it floated them up. At first I thought they must be frogs and I crept up quietly so as not to make them jump away and lose my pic. Then realized they were snails. Oh. No rush, then.

And there were minnows darting about in the drowned grass at the pond edge. When the water gets so high it involves large amounts of the surrounding land, somebody downstream pulls the plug, or opens a causeway or something, and the water level sinks down.

Couldn't resist the historic marker, either. It's one of the few around here that don't record a british defeat in the W. of I, this being one of the places that calls itself the cradle of the revolution!

And all this leads to synaesthesia....which is where two or more senses join forces, so that you hear a name, see a color, shape, hear a sound, that kind of thing. August brought it to mind, since I see a rough shape of white and grey, all striated, like worn out limestone, always have whenever I hear or see it. Interesting concept. Some of us have synaes. to a marked extent, and I'm happy to say I'm one of them!

I used to introduce adult art students to it, particularly using the sense of smell, and this time of year if I taught a summer workshop, I'd bring in herbs, and have people smell, see and remember. Smell is a function of the limbic, primitive, brain, and that's why we get rushes of memories, whole scenes, with some scents. And it works the other way too -- you can imprint the current event for future memory, using scent.

Color works this way for some of us, too: I get literally a bitter taste in my mouth with some dark yellow shades, and a sweet taste with paler yellows, a ghastly taste with some purples, really awful, and with some pinkish beiges. And so on.

Names have shapes and colors: Gabriella is a big swirling flounce of white satin, moving. And the odd thing is that the images never ever change. Some of them I've had since I was a little kid, never change. All my family's names had colors and shapes to me.

I had correspondence last year with blessed Oliver Sacks when he had written Musicology, where he was talking about sounds and colors, in relation to music and other pursuits, and he asked if he could use some of my thoughts in the paperback that was coming out, same title, which pleased me no end, to share the ideas.

And he duly credited me, used some stuff in a footnote, and sent me a copy to save me the trouble of buying one. Inscribed it, too. So that goes to show why synaesthesia is a Good Thing!