Friday, September 30, 2011

Feynman, Quilting Arts and tangents

Most of my art appears at a tangent to what I expected to be happening. I think it's there lying in wait for me, and the oddest things act as a trigger. That word always reminds me of a schoolfriend, one of those kids who gets words a bit wrong, but is very dramatic about it, announcing one day in class many years ago to her friends "If you ask me to do that, it's like holding a trigger to my head!" and she was very annoyed with me when I pointed out that anyone who did that would be aiming at herself. Where was I, oh yes.

Several things unrelated to actually making new art, happened today. I found a new bio of Richard Feynman at the library, checked it out and found it was a graphic novel, what we used to call a comic book. But tried it anyway and could not put it down.

In fact the graphic approach is exactly right for him, since he used to orchestrate his thinking in physics with diagrams, rather than only blocks of equations. I loved him from first discovering his lectures for the nonphysicist, partly because he tried to demystify the subject, always a winner for me, and then because I found he had pronounced synaesthesia, saw numbers in color. And he could not recognize people, though he could tell they were people (!) and finally that he had learned to do lucid dreaming. All of these are important things for me in my own life, and I just had such a ride trying to follow this brilliant path through a science I know little to nothing about. Anyway, it's "Feynman" by Ottaviani and Myrick.

Then Quilting Arts magazine came, which annoyed me, because my favorite FiberArts went out of business, too costly, and the publishers substituted this mag. as a way of filling out the subscription. It was a gift last Christmas from HP and HS and I loved the mag. No respecter of boundaries in the arts, it ranged over fibers and painting and printmaking and artists who combined all of them, perfect for me. But found to my surprise since I have little to no interest in quilting, that today's QA magazine had the same effect.

What happens is that the atmosphere around the mag triggers all sorts of great art ideas and impulses, that have nothing to do with what's written there, I expect Feynman would know the name for this phenomenon, and it happened today.

So before I knew it I was poking around in the studio for fabrics, any fabrics, felted who knows, for backing for the current fiber arts wall pieces I'm working on that need a solid backing just so the eye can rest of them better. And found some great silk pieces.

and using Feynman's explanation of the principle of least action, I did the simplest thing with them: white silk being too oh well, it needed color.

I made a cup of strong coffee and dunked the pieces in it, keeping air bubbles in there to get interesting creeping patterns

then hung them outside, and painted them further, using a turkey baster.

Ironed them, put a temp. casing on each one and here they are on the wall showing their paces before I figure out which other artwork they belong with.

Possibly the knitted piece I'm doing now, in fine cotton thread, feather and fan design, a long panel.

But we'll see.

Wonderful day of artmaking, very happy return to being able to do that. And my new glasses helped a ton, too since I was able to see what I was doing, a big point. My hands are healing quite well, too, since they have been rested from nursing and constant use now for a few weeks. They feel pretty good even when I knit and do all kinds of things.

All in all, very good day was had by all.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Chez nous, les lavandieres Dollivair

As long as the lucky Dollivers got to go to a French movie, the stay at homes decided to improve the shining hour this morning and make their own laundry soap. Or, since they insist on speaking French in revenge for the outing, nous faisons notre savon a linge, comme les vraies paysannes Francaises. They don't know how to do accents, so you have to fill in your own.

It should be pointed out that they did not do this with a will. It started out more as a won't, until it was forcibly brought home to them that money saved on expensive laundry detergent could be poured into new duds for Dollivers. This changed the complexion of the argument somewhat, and insisting only on new gingham dresses and special soapmaking hats for the procedure, they agreed to make the stuff.

Aided by Duncan, who wondered why they wanted the empty litter bucket, not realizing it was only a dramatic prop, the Dollivers are all about theater, and that an ordinary dull old saucepan would in fact be used as a vat.

All benign materials used in this process, washing soda, borax, a bit of handsoap, much hot water and stirring. The hardest part was finding a container for the product which could be stoppered and kept on the washing machine, thank you Heather, the birdseed container worked just fine. Now the magic stuff is curing in the bathroom propped in a sink in case any disaster happens to the container, in which case we'll have lovely clean pipes instead.

And the Ds came back with the final zinger: Ha! nous autres, nous sommes les Marthes de cette maison! Les Maries vont au cinema. Ptui!

Then they went back to their perch, insisting on wearing their working gear just to make the point that Martha never stops working and Mary never starts...

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Dollivers Afternoon at My Afternoons with Margueritte

Two Dollivers volunteered to come to the movies this afternoon, swearing that they would not sit in the cupholders and generally cut up like the other two who came last time. The others are planning new domestic adventures.

Well, ARE we going? somebody has to drive this thing

But meanwhile, done up in their best hats and gear, complete with jewelry, we sallied out to see My Afternoons with Margueritte, a perfect jewel of a movie with Gisele Casadesus and Gerard Depardieu and other great actors.

Bright lights, ready for the big movie

About love and longing and literacy and loveliness, this is simply a movie you have to go and see. Casadesus plays a 95 year old woman who liked to sit in the park in good weather, and Depardieu is a big, apparently clumsy and slow guy, who turns out to have a grasp of all that's most important, and he's a good carver and gardener, too, as well as knowing all about loyalty, but feeling he can't inspire it. Just go. It's wonderfully acted, very sensitively filmed. French with unobtrusive subtitles, such a treat to hear French spoken again, and to brush up my raunchy bar language...

I bumped into a group of women on the way out who asked me did you LOVE it? evidently they had, too, and one of them was kind enough to help the Dollivers pose at the poster for the movie.

Carole Lewis with the Dollivers. Carole's on the left. She joins the pantheon of my heroes, people who let a total stranger shove dolls in their arms, and pose graciously for a blog they've never heard of, without making any move to have us all arrested. Seriously, thank you very much, Carole, and your friends, too. You really made the afternoon!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Bird Strikes Chez Moi

Here's the result of a few collisions between mourning doves and the patio door in the last few hours. You're looking at the white hazy areas in the foreground, which is imprinted on the outside of the glass. Oddly, when a bird sees another smack into the glass, bounce off and go away rubbing his head, he doesn't avoid the same glass. There seems to be a "this can't happen to ME" feeling about it all. And a few minutes later another bird flies directly into the glass door, forgetting you can't fly right through the house -- when the front door's open you can see through to the street -- and bounces off grumbling, dang, this air's HARD!

The good part is that they do go on with their lives, and in all these years I've seen only one casualty from a collision, an unlucky sparrow which hit headon. When a really big bird, such as a redtail hawk, swooping down in winter terrorizing the birds at the feeder, plans on zooming right through the living room to the street, as if it were flying through trees, the impact is huge. More than once I thought we had heard a sonic boom, shook the whole side of the house, then I've seen a hawk fly sheepishly away, dang, did it again..

The stuff on the glass, which reflects light like a prism, is the dust off the bird's feathers, and you can see the outline of the faces and the outstretched wings and tail. There's bit of fluid from the eye, too if the bird's really unlucky and gets the avian version of a shiner.That's how I know what birds did the marks, since these are the shapes for mourning doves.

So here's your nature walk for the day, not too tiring, for the armchair birder. Or twitcher, they call them in England, which cracks me up.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Season of mists and flu shots and fruitfulness

On the way down the road to get a flu shot, I noticed the Asian store had great fruit for my winter freezing pleasure, for crostatas galore, and oh well, I'm just sayin'

The proof of the pudding

Another pet peeve, I have thousands of pet peeves, even belong to more than one group determined to stamp out bad grammar and usage, is the saying as above. The proof of the pudding is in the eating. Not the proof is in the pudding, for pity's sake. The proof means the determination that it is or isn't good. Likewise, you don't get a pit in your stomach. With any luck it's there all the time, since it's the bottom of the organ. You might get a bad feeling in the pit of your stomach, be my guest, feel free.

Where was I? oh yes, I've tested, and tested, the Peach Crostata, and it's perfectly terrific. I used yogurt rather than whole cream, preferring the tarter taste, and I plan to get farm peaches and plums, I'm sure this would work with plums, too, and freeze them so I can make this in the dead of winter and cheer things up. Between this and the piccalilli I made the other day and am working steadily through, I don't know which I'm more pleased with.

About the crostata, I guess any fruit would work, come to think of it. It's worth experimenting at length, I'd say. In fact this might be a great Thanksgiving dessert, variation on pie. It's definitely one of the few places where I will depart from my rule of Not Cooking Fruit other than Granny Smiths, on the grounds that if it's good, just eat it.

Today, since all outdoor bets are off owing to yet another deluge, and more allergy problems, including my plans to attend Linda's Alpaca Farm Open House, dangit, I was catching up on correspondence, mainly thank you notes to people who did very kind things in the last few months, and I trust that I didn't miss any vital folks.

They need to bear with me, if I did, it's difficult to keep track at times like this, you know how it is. But the spirit was grateful and willing! and the Dollivers pitched in.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Peach Crostata aka Heaven in a Pie Pan

When I'm anxious or nervous, I tidy stuff, especially organize drawers. You should see the drawers in my house. Mostly shining tidy and neat and divested of all the debris, flotsam, jetsam, and other things that collect in drawers. And many little treasures came to light after being forgotten lo these many months while I was otherwise engaged.

But when I'm optimistic and feeling like I can once again make stuff, and my allergic eyes are still stopping me from doing anything involving yarn, sigh, the floods have created a perfect mold spore environment all over this region, and I'm following all the eye doctor's r'dations, but meanwhile, the next best is to make some nice new edible item.

So, drumroll, here is Peach Crostata, currently cooling until I can actually get in and taste. It smells like heaven arrived in the kitchen. New Jersey peaches and butter, don't know where the flour is from, cinnamon from somewhere other than NJ I would guess, yogurt from away, local eggs.

You'll notice it doesn't look all varnished and presented and artfully setup with lighting for magazines, and fake peaches and all that. That's because this is actual food! never looks as great as in the mags, but then they add all kinds of things for photogenic purposes many of which can not be et. I bet if this appeared in a glossy mag whose name shall be omitted, it would look really glamorous.

This is a recipe from bad-tempered old Arthur Schwartz, great cook of home style food, interesting writer, and irascible broadcaster I finally gave up on after he exploded over one too many innocent people calling in with questions! be that as it may, I have never gone wrong using his recipes, usually for simple stuff, but he cooks from scratch and the difference is great.

This one is a pastry shell baked at 400 F., with the peaches, sugar and cinnamon in, then brought out and covered with an egg/yogurt mix and put back in and baked for longer. Handsome Son is coming for dinner in a couple of days and if there's any left he'll get some for dessert.

Either that or I'll have to make another one and say this was just a testing pie...

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Cheerfulness keeps breaking through..

Writing a blog is one of the nicest things I ever did for myself, and it comes with unexpected bonuses.

One of them is the occasional slightly off the track responder who picks up a heading probably from Google, and proceeds to email me or comment in here with totally off the wall responses. Like the person who commented after the blogpost about the Sedated Cat and the Leaking Roof, to insist that I get a real roofer to check the possible damage in the ceiling and why this is important and he has my best interests at heart, kind of tone. I clicked on his name and found, yep, he's a roofer!! far from here, though, so not much hope for him of a job.

And there's the lady who read about my adventures in getting the laminate floor put down a couple of years ago, all the moving of the books, and the organizing of HP to be out of the traffic and how great it was once finished, and the voting of blogistas as to which color I should pick.

So this lady writes and asks me to please quote her on a price for ME to come and do her floors, too. and when I write back explaining that she's got the wrong end of the floor, so to speak, she writes again insisting that she's willing to pay extra if I will do it on a weekend. And on and on, until I finally, after explaining more than once that I'm not in the flooring business, said, sorry, I'm deleting any more emails on this subject. I expect she wonders how on earth I stay in the flooring business if I keep turning away customers.

And the PR lady from a place I wrote about which I will not name here, because she might start up all over again, where the brides were in collision, remember that? who wrote very solemnly to explain how they try to keep bridal parties separate and that I really should go again and give them another chance...this is a place I've been visiting for years and years.

But my fave of all time was the lady who insisted that I help her in her genealogical research into the Boud family, since my email was cited in a place she was researching as a likely member. In vain did I explain over and over that Boud is a screen name, was chosen in memory of a dearly loved and departed cat, and that kitty Boud was unlikely to have married into the family. No good. She wrote and wrote and in the end accused me of hindering her research.

I have concluded that a lot of people mistake this sort of pro bono blog for actual feature reporting, and feel they have to put this correspondent right, or demand I show my research and help them with theirs, or come through with what they think I'm advertising. Much innocent merriment results.

Speaking of which, I'm deep in another of those great history books that deal with the social times, daily life, of a period. This one, "Among the Bohemians", is about the life and times of the Bohemian period in England (and some on the Continong) and is not only well written, but hilariously funny.

The author, Virginia Nicholson, knows what she's writing about, because not only has she done a ton of research, but as the granddaughter of Vanessa Bell, sister of Virginia Woolf, and daughter of Clive Bell, she has access not only to papers, but family anecdotes and her own observations of a hugely talented group.

She devotes chapters to food, interior design, dress, the struggles to make art without money, and the obstacle that money presented anyway, and all the aspects of history that I think are really the most significant. Much more telling than reading about which battle won which mountain pass, and who crossed the river, and who held the bridge, and who burned the city down. This is where somebody is going to write in and identify the classical allusions, I bet, but moving right along.

Not a name dropper, she relates great stories about the artists and craftspeople she grew up with and knows names most of us have never heard of. She understands that in every generation only a tiny fraction of good artists are ever known to the general public, and that there are so many whose work was great but were either unknown or known mostly to other artists, or very popular but not in the newspapers of the time.

She understands, too, that the flight to Bohemia was a reaction in many cases of affluent talented young people whose upbringing was so miserably confined by school and rigid homes where the arts were considered not very nice, that it's not surprising they broke out.

She has a great eye for detail and for the unintended humor of a lot of the Bohemian life goals, as well as the tragic side of it all, with terrible hardship and starvation in a society with no safety nets. But one wonderful side of it is that she illuminates a lot of what we now take for granted and traces back styles and colors and assumptions to their origin among the art groups of the early part of the twentieth century.

Even to explaining to me the costume I wore to Rag Ball in my University days. Here I am more than fifty years later, realizing why I wore what i did to this fancy dress Ball which crowned Rag Week, a great time partying and collecting masses of money for local charities, all done by students at the university. Rag Ball was a bit like the Chelsea Arts ball in a way, though we didn't think we were imitating it, mainly because we'd never heard of it.

I went as a Black and White Rag, a nod to the music of the twenties, and my black and white check pants, (a GIRL, in PANTS, shocking) tight black sweater, one orange shoe, one yellow shoe, my masses of curly black hair backcombed with talcum powder to create a curly white wig, sprayed with glitter, were all really inherited from those early times, though I had no idea of it. I now read that black and white check pants were a big deal departure from sober Victorian clothes, and that mismatched colored shoes were another one! and talcum powder, cheaper than renting a wig, another.

Funny really! the shoes were a deal with my best friend, Joan, whose shoe size was the same as mine. We each bought a pair of flat shoes, one yellow, one orange, then solemnly exchanged so we each had a mismatched pair, which we wore very happily.

Even the way I organize my surroundings to this day evidently owes a lot to that time: natural plants, original art and craft, handknitted and crocheted throws and pillows, furniture adapted or scrounged and made over into comfortable stuff. I depart from them in the color area, though, since I hate strong colors in interiors, much prefer white walls as a background for artworks, and green everywhere as a soothing color that doesn't demand attention. And I do like order in the house, since clutter is exactly like the noise of a brass band to me.

So just when you think you're being you, you find you're being the you someone designed decades ago.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Sunshine and Shadow

You know how there are times when everything seems like either a cliche or a metaphor? well, here's a picture illustrating exactly that. Yesterday morning, first sight as I came downstairs, lovely sun painting images inside the living room. Definitely something to get up for. Metaphor for life at the moment. Or any moment. That's where the cliche comes in.

More planting of daffodils yesterday, this time with HS, a token group out front where everyone can enjoy them in the spring. And he accepted happily the collection of knives and the caliper, and a lunch of soup and homemade bread. Asked what kind of soup it was, it was good, and when I launched on the list of ingredients, tomatoes, garlic, onions, cabbage, yellow split peas, chickpeas, sage pesto, Italian sausage, etc., said, oh, it's just soup, not any particular kind. Which it is, since my soup is usually the whole meal, containing every known food group! plus croutons from homemade bread. I've decided that an identifiable soup, asparagus, or mushroom, or something, is the first course before another course. My kind of if it's there throw it in soup is a major meal in itself.

Food of another kind, for thought, is the latest discovery I made in writers, probably the last person in the hemisphere to have found Jenny Diski. I hugely recommend her as a very intelligent, incisive writer who simply gets it, very readable except where you have to keep putting the book down to think a minute. Strangers on a Train is a wonderful documentary of a circular train journey she made around the US, after a long sea journey on a freighter, great insights into traveling alone and the metaphors it forces on you.

I just started The Sixties,a short thoughtful book written about her experiences as a boomer in London, born in 1957, so the war years were only history to her, but the experience of the sixties her own life and times. She makes the terrific point that to the people of the age to have taken part in the times as the "right" age for them, it was very much like the twenties revolt against the hardships and tragedies of the previous war. The swingers of London were like the Bright Young Things of twenties London. I was a bit older than she, had already left England by the mid sixties, so this is documentary to me, rather than memory.

And almost at the same time as starting this book, I picked up the mail and found an invitation to a special service for families and friends of people who were cared for by Hospice recently, as if they form some kind of special group. I suppose it's a nice thought, but why on earth would we be grouped like this? I have no connection with any other patient or family, largely because of patient privacy rules, and just can't see what point there is to this. Aside from the fact that just as I'm starting to recover, this invitation tore it all wide open again, oh well.

It's one of those groupings that dismay me, exactly like the groupings of the Sixties, where an accident of time and place, or condition, or ability, is supposed to link people. Like, to name another false grouping, that well meaning organization Mensa. Not sour grapes here, I'm eligible to join it, but honestly how does success on IQ tests, measuring a few specific mental abilities, create a meaningful bond between human beings? I've always thought it oddly unintelligent to assume that it does!

I do see how kindred spirits can enjoy each others' company, knitters, spinners, readers, writers, that kind of thing, where there's a shared interest with forward movement. But I don't see at all how life experience does that. Well,maybe it's just me.

One of the funniest groupings is the massive universe of People Who Claim To Have Been at Woodstock! millions and millions of people who can safely say they were there because nobody can challenge it. Not unlike the 17,000 original Rembrandts in various collections around the world, except they can be challenged if the owner lets it happen.

It may just be that my inner hermit doesn't need to reach out frantically for groups. I bet there's a Hermits Anonymous group out there somewhere, though...

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Collections and destinations

One of the interesting, if sad, parts of taking care of a family member's possessions after they no longer need them, is deciding about collections. HP was not a collector in the sense of seeking out items, but did accumulate stuff around his interests.

Three chess sets, and a raft of chess playing books, ranging from Easy Moves for Beginners to Capablanca's philosophy of chess. I gave one of the boards plus the books to an eager novice, a young woman, and HP would have very much liked this. he and I used to play many years ago, in fact we replayed the Fischer-Spassky matches during that famous tournament, and we helped found a chess club at his workplace. I was the only woman in the group, which caused many ruffles among the guys who were scared to death of being outdone. Not too much danger of that. I had a great opening game, a very good middle game and a very tired and bored endgame, very much to the advantage of my opponent!

The sad part about chess, to my mind, is that they've abolished the lovely poetic usages for the moves, and replaced them with simple numerals, on the grounds that this is more internationally fair. But what about expressions like Queen's Moroccan Defense Discovered? I think you have to say something like square root of 64, to 33, take away the number you first thought of, or words to that effect. Doesn't have that ring.

Then there's the little collection of pen knives, one of which HP had as a schoolboy, one a gift from his aunt in Canada, complete with picture of Mountie, when he was a very young man, one a craftsman made inlaid one from the American southwest, which I gave him, one a hunting knife some sort of award from work, funny sort of award, but I don't get the corporate mind anyway, one a gift to him from himself.

Left of the group is a precision measuring tool, which I'm guessing will be treasured by HS, who loves low tech high engineering! I think this collection might be welcomed by HS, and I'm going to ask him about it.

Part of his bridge collection, a case of all the items you need to set up a small duplicate bridge tournament, since he used to run these at work,too, I gave to a keen bridge player, probably one of the few people I know who actually understand the function of all these boards and organizers.

But his collection of bridge books I'm told are probably now in the nature of bridge history and collectibility, since the game has changed its conventions to the point where HPs books are probably archaic.

Then there's the stamp collection! mainly of pictorial rather than of philatelic value, I'm guessing, totally disorganized, one of those things he was always going to organize one of these days...he has a great collection of first day covers, though, which ought to go to an appreciator. The jumble of singles probably would make nice art material. I used some of them in the paper weaving I made for the summer group show I was in, but they're not exactly my preferred material.

It occurs to me to ask: do any of you blogistas fancy a handful of stamps, random collection, for your own art or crafting or collecting fun? that would be a great way to share them around. Just email me with your address and I'll get right onto it.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Memories of Handsome Partner on our Tenth Anniversary

We chose September 11 as the day to scatter HP's ashes, in a place where we had planted daffodils, his idea, nine years ago on the first anniversary of the terrorist attack, to honor the dead of that day, because it it not only the anniversary of that terrible day, it's also our tenth anniversary of coming together again, this time till his death.

Some pictures of the original planting of daffodils, HP pointing, HS planting, Boud taking the pictures. And at the bottom, the second year, showing the daffodils coming through. This is where his own ashes are now scattered.

And here is Handsome Son in the same place, this morning, September ll 2011, attending to this last tribute to his father.

Our lives were permanently changed, as were those of many others, on that September day in 2001, and HP had leapt to the phone to try to warn me before I saw the pictures on television, of what had happened. At that time we were friends but nothing more, and he did what a true friend would do, to try to protect me at least from seeing it without warning.

That evening we, HP, HS and I, all spent the time at my condo, and decided that life was too short ever to be apart again. And we never were.

HP was a modest man, very few of his friends who had not been in his working world being aware of his stature there. He never used his academic title, and would cringe at the notion of talking about his achievements, which were stellar.

The first person from his entire extended family to go to the University, even to be in school past the age of fifteen, he became one of a handful of scholars awarded a prestigious national grant to finance his doctoral studies. Then became one of a tiny number of scientists in atomic research devoted to peaceful uses of nuclear energy. We were invited by half a dozen US research institutes to come to the US, he for his postdoctoral work, and I to continue working in modern languages, both eagerly sought after, post Sputnik.

When his health eventually forced him into early retirement from the lab, after many years of working on methods of producing clean water -- which we all still benefit from even if we don't know about him -- and increasing rice production in Asia, using benevolent ag. chemistry, and a long list of other projects, he took up a retirement career in -- home petcare.

With many devoted clients and their pets, he went on with this strenuous life, walking up to 30 miles a week in the company of various dogs, till he was 70, and again his health weakened to where he was unable to continue. He still rescued animals, though, all his own pets were rescues, and had a touch for them that was lovely to see. No false pride in switching from high prestige research work to humble animal care, he loved this new life.

HP and HS with friends, including his dear Dalmatian, K.C, full name Katie Cherie, very posh. Her ashes are now scattered with his, since we kept them since she left us several years ago, along with those of his cat Troubles, long gone now. He would have liked this company.

Recent years were a whole new challenge, being quadriplegic, very little use of his arms and hands, very dependent on 24/7 care, but his wish to be at home as long as possible we were able to fulfill, right to the end of his life. And he was still interested in family and friends and keeping up with the news.

He loved my art and wanted it on display on our walls, though I wouldn't have chosen that, but it gave him such pleasure that we did it. And he went on, as long as he was able to read, enjoying American history, archaeology, the history of the Incas and Aztecs, and gosh, all the bookcases full of his interests surround me as I write this!

Two little notes that sum him up so perfectly: the rubber duckie was a vital part of his lab equipment! his assistants told me that every new person hired into the research lab was instructed on no account to touch the duckie nor to move the papers the duckie was sitting on.

That's because it was material related to his current research, vital to have at hand, too precious to be moved around. And so typical of him to choose a irreverent way of marking it.

The other is something I only discovered two evenings ago, when I was giving HS some items from his father for him to keep in his memory. I gave him HP's undergraduate thesis, printed and bound, as they were then, and his doctoral dissertation, our file copy. I typed the diss on a manual typewriter, before the days of more high tech methods, and I was showing HS the opening pages and credits, since he had never seen one of these before. And I discovered that when HP took the typescripts I'd completed to the binder, way back in 1963, he had had an extra page inserted that I didn't know about, knowing that I might see this only years hence, maybe after his death.

It was a dedication to me.

Please, dear blogistas, accept this invitation to post here your own memories and thoughts about Handsome Partner. Some of you have known him in rl, some via email, others by remote control, so to speak,but over the fifteen years I've been active on the internet a lot of our history has been open to you, and it would be lovely to hear from you what you like to remember of him.

For taking part in this memorial to a good man, Handsome Son and I thank you!

Friday, September 9, 2011

The two edged sword of catchup

Favorite second hand bookstore window. speaking of former lives...

Doing very well at the moment, amazing what sleeping can do for you, when you can sleep until you are ready to wake up, instead of forcing yourself out of bed because there's so much morning care that must be started promptly. I sleep till after 8, then it's so easy, just do my own breakfast, read the newspaper, loaf a bit. Just a few weeks ago, I never thought the day would come. And then so suddenly, it did.

But the other side of it is that it's hard to believe my former life is just that -- former. At the Asian store today, shopping for fruit, I went out of force of habit to the grape display and started to pick which variety looked good today, then remembered I don't like grapes, and was unthinkingly picking them for HP, because he loved them, and ate them every afternoon with his cheese and crackers, along with his medications. It will be a while before I remember, or get used to not having to remember. And before I buy enough fruit for one, and just the fruit I like.

The comparative ease of my life now is wonderful,but the pain of remembering how it got easy is the other side of that blade.

I can now do catchup on things like washing the curtains in the living room, which had been untouched for three years, since it was HPs bedroom and there was no time to take them down get them washed and dried and rehung between care times when I had to draw them for privacy, this being a ground floor only a few feet from where people stroll past out back.

So I did them today, and was surprised to discover that since I took them down a couple of hours ago, either the floor has dropped down several inches or the curtain hooks have slid up the wall in defiance of gravity. How else to explain that the curtains which brushed the floor this morning are now hanging a clear five inches above it? inexplicable. But Marigold and Duncan approve since they can easily look under them now to spy on the patio doings, instead of going to all the trouble of having to push them aside with their little fuzzy heads.

I guess the shock of being washed caused the curtains to shrink with horror, but they are now clean, very nice looking if you overlook a certain air of skimpiness. I'll pass it off as skimpy chic, maybe. This year's Fall Look: Skimpy Chic! you can also get venetian blinds that don't reach the sides of the windows. That fitted, tailored look is so passe, darling.

Oh, I know, we can market them through Target for the college dorm set: Floods for Windows!!! floods, for them as don't know US jargon, being pants that have shrunk above your ankle, enabling you to wade through floods, said type of pants also known as highwaters. Very apt in view of our new flooding around here, not,luckily where I live, but only a few miles away.

As well as laboring over the washing machine, I played some keyboard today, and recorder, and cast on a new skinny scarf in my favorite rolled edge design. So there's good stuff, too.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Hashimoto and the Unbearable Lightness of Direction

Never need an umbrella when you're me!

So yesterday I made the trip into the City of Bureaucracy to show them the docs that will enable Social Security to take my word for it, and it went well all the way to the building itself, amazing considering my directional challenges, then as I parked the car, this building blessedly has a huge parking lot, unusual for the city, there was a cloudburst.

I had no umbrella since it wasn't even raining when I left home, oh well, plan ahead, and struggled through zero visibility getting all soaked, to find the door. Went around two sides of the building, encountering locked doors on all sides, until I ended up in the employment office.

What a sad place, full of desperate, frightened people who were in such a state they couldn't remember their social security numbers, how I sympathized with that state, and a nice official there explained kindly that I was completely around the wrong side of the building....she led me to a back door that I left by to continue on my trek, and I finally found the right door. The thing is that it looks exactly like a loading dock, all metal ramps and scaffolding, to re-engineer an old building to create ramps for accessibility, I suppose. So I'd walked right past it not recognizing it as a door, duh.

So once I actually found the door, the rest went just fine, the docs were examined, accepted, and I was sent away all set. But I am so grateful that I live in a society where the ability to find your way around is not considered a major factor of intelligence. Heck, if I were Masai, I'd be considered a poor little thing that you had to be kind to and take care of...

Then in the evening, the endocrinologist got back to me with the results of my thyroid stuff to tell me I have Hashimoto's Disease. Not a serious situation, might eventually need pills, but I was dying to ask if I would break out in screams of KiYA, and start slashing out with the sides of my hands, registered weapons. Or maybe throw bowler hats with metal brims at my enemies...this ref is for you, Heather (!)or at least open a sushi bar. But I was very serious in my responses, since the nurse is not a big joker.

Anyway next time someone quizzes me about not being able to understand how to get from A to B, I'll just say, hey, I can't help it, I have Hashimoto's! I'll bet anything this is a little known symptom.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Ice Follies break out!

To be exact, a bag of beautiful Holland daffodil bulbs species Ice Follies, courtesy of next door friend, who wanted me to show him how to proceed in his observance of HP's wishes.

We ended up planting them right across the joining fences, I placing them right way up, he digging using his new bulb planter, and his dog safely on the other side of the fence supervising.

I took the opportunity to clean up some weeds and dead foliage back there first, and we made decisions about his garden, and I picked a handful of green beans from his planters -- he loves to grow them, doesn't like eating them so much -- and made plans for his front yard, complete with scilla and crocus. The nursery people must love him, since he can't drive past without detouring in there and emerging with another load of plants and bulbs.

Since the weather is perfect for being bitten, too, I was glad of the sage growing in my yard, since a bunch of that, crushed, rubbed onto insect bites is very good at fixing the itch. So I smelled like a salad myself, what with the apple cider vinegar I sloshed on too, just to be sure.

But in contrast to the 9/11 memorial daffodils back in the woods, which HP bought, a huge sack of mixed varieties, and since he couldn't balance and dig, he pointed, HS dug, and I helped, this time I pointed, and Gary dug! he commented that things have come full circle.

This is such a natural way to celebrate HP, and so many friends are taking part in various places on the globe, that it was great for me to be part of a team doing it right here.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

September flora and fauna

At last I made it out to the Preserve to walk and walk and walk. Very hot and humid, but it was wonderful to just go.

Parts of the trails were washed away by the hurricane, and there was red tape saying look out, trail closed, you have been warned, or words to that effect, but I went under it anyway, since it really was to stop people from encountering the torrents of water across the path during the storm, which dug a trench about six feet deep. But pretty dry now, just care required in picking your way around it. And I suppose they didn't want people falling into the chasm without noticing it.

In fact I wondered at first if maybe there were bears beyond there. Here Be Bears! because it's the season and we have quite a few young black bears in search of new territory. The Preserve has had bears trotting about enjoying the berries in the past. But I saw no bears, not even down in the woods picnicking. That song -- the Teddy Bears' Picnic -- I used to hear as a little kid, and the line "if you go down in the woods today, you'd better go in disguise" I thought was "if you go down in the woods today,you'd better go in the skies!" flying above the bear line, I suppose.

My favorite of all flowers, those wonderful brilliant yellow ones whose name escapes me which faithfully return every single September, on the dot, were in full fig today, and were the reason I ducked under the tape, because I wanted to get to the flower field further down the trail.

They're everywhere on the roadside and where they're undisturbed they populate entire fields.

On the way there, I found this sweet smelling bush of whitish clustery flowers, maybe meadowsweet, not sure, but wonderful scent.

Of course, to get the full experience of this hike, you would have to imagine the stifling heat and humidity and the drone of the NJ state bird, the mosquito, which is having a banner year because of all the rain and hot weather together, plus the stealth attack of the horsefly.

Score today: Mosquitoes and horseflies 349, Boud 1, because I managed to swipe a horsefly as he was taking a bite out of my arm. But I did score a couple of nice pix.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Labor Day Weekend in the US, bees busy

This is the Labor Day weekend, the unofficial end of summer in the US, where we celebrate the dignity of work by goofing off for a long weekend. Except for the bees who are as busy as ever, on the sedum now flowering in time for the holiday weekend.

This has been an eventful summer, to put it mildly. Or as my dear old mum in law, many years ago, after her city had been hit with record breaking winds, many buildings had their top storeys removed, roofs flying all over the old city, which had withstood storms for close on a hundred years, and we had been frantically trying to get news of her, finally wrote. Well, she says, we've had some quite nasty weather lately...

The huge journey of HP, who began to fail in June, now ended, then the earthquake, then the hurricane, have made this a summer of massive life experience.

But this weekend, hot summer sunshine, bees working, friends coming and going, is a good time to just loaf. Other people who have been in my position, settling an estate, disposing of all kinds of supplies and equipment, dealing with officialdom in all its shapes and sizes, running hither and yon with documents and letters and files, know what I mean when I say I long to be able to just stay home and sit on the sofa! and they too, give a hollow laugh at the kind friends who say, oh, do try to get out of the house! stay busy! like there's a choice? but they've never done it, and I think they imagine I'm sitting home alone feeling sad, and it worries them.

But this too shall pass, and I will be able to do stuff I want to as well as the stuff I just have to. Meanwhile imaginative friends who simply say, I'm coming to pick you up, choose a day and a place and we'll have lunch, are blessed. Now that's the kind of thing I do want to do! and play music, if I can fit it into the work schedule that comprises my daily life at the moment.

The bees are probably the same ones that make the honey I buy from the local farm, where they have their own hives. Always a good thought. My own plantings coming back at me in the form of honey.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Notes from Field and Fen, no, really

Longtime blogistas around here know that the Field and Fen title is a gentle gibe at the English birding and hiking public who write impassioned letters to the newspapers claiming to have heard the first cuckoo in spring, and to have seen the little chiffchaff building her nest in the laburnum, etc. Harmless folk, but giving great mirth to the likes of me. Especially since my own field and fen is a patio slightly larger than a dining table, but teeming with life and conflict in the avian world, with intramurals as they take on chipmunks and squirrels.

So the current scene on the patio is of bedlam, with the little wrens who started life in my houseplant now feeding themselves and hopping about the feeder, occasionally falling off the fence as they preen, not having got all their balance going yet, and a male cardinal harassed by feeding two great big babies all by himself. No sign of Mrs. Cardinal.

They can sit in the feeder and peck up the small seeds, but they don't have the hang of cracking open the sunflowers seeds, favorite food of cardinals, yet, so dad has to do that for both of them, while they flutter up and down chirping dad, dad, I'm hungry.

And last evening, on the fence, a pair of mourning doves being run ragged by a single baby demanding food from both of them in rapid succession, until the male took off, probably went to the pub, and the mother glared at the baby till he settled down a bit.

And a hummingbird has visited the last two or three evenings, I think because the storm woke up a lot of interesting insects, and the bright red wild cherries are of interest, too. The squirrels have not got a look in, because of all the feeding bird parents who will deck a squirrel as soon as look at him. The chipmunks are being shoved off the deck by the mourning doves who like to eat on the ground, too.

All this is great kitty television, and Duncan and Marigold are glued to the patio window watching the action until it gets too dark to see.

Would that our bureaucrats could take a note from the birds. The Social Security people sent the form as promised for me to look over and attest to the truth of, etc., as arranged during the phone meeting, and sent as promised a pre-stamped official envelope for me to put the docs in and send to them to see and return to me.

Twenty five pages of documents. And they sent a number 10 small business I will have to drive up to the office and present the stuff myself, if the floods have receded enough by Tuesday, after the holiday, to do it. I'll bring the envelope and show them the impossibility of using it, and politely invite them to put it back into their supply cupboard for the next applicant to use.

This reminds me of the Banking Dolts who said, well why don't you carry your General Durable Power of Attorney in your wallet, then, so as to have it handy when we ask. That's a 20 page, raised seal document, folks...which goes to show that the people asking for the stuff have literally never seen them nor have any idea what they look like even when they arrive!

I think they imagine that major life documents are all reduced to laminated cards like driver licences. Well, it would be a good idea, but its time is not yet here.

So, this has been a better couple of days all in all, got a good mammo, yay, today, in no time at all, and will shortly be getting my eyes checked before I start saying hi to mailboxes. And yesterday I baked bread, using great new bakeware, and the bread released perfectly, sign of good ware, that is. All in all, better day.