Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Bells! The Bells!

Very cold weather followed by two warm days then high winds made an interesting walk by the pond this morning.  There were stretches of open water, driven by the wind under thin sheets of ice.  I noticed an odd clanging noise as I walked down`the path, like church bells in the distance,  and realized it was the music of water under the ice, bumping and flowing.  The sound changed as the wind did, and the sun changed the ice by the minute, so I think this was a shortlived performance of nature.  I was lucky to catch it.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

One Snowdrop, Spring Everywhere

Here she is, the first snowdrop, blazing away all alone until her friends fight their way through the pachysandra to get some light and air.  Difficult week, old friend died two days ago, so this was a welcome sight this morning.

Monday, January 21, 2013

The Dollivers Celebrate a Glorious Twofer

Inauguration Day of an African American president, for his second term, showing it was no fluke the first time around, and Martin Luther King day both at the same time.  Martin must be singing happily in Heaven over this one!  well, a lot of us are.

Including the Dollivers, who have been patiently set up on their bleachers awaiting the parade for a while now.  Attempts to explain that the parade will not actually be coming up our street all failed, and the Annies joined them in their insistence that they are too part of the parade.  Ooooookay....and Elton has been thumping the ivories for ages, with all the best Sousa renditions, including the Washington Post March, and on to My Country Tis of Thee, and America the Beautiful, not to mention Oh, You Beautiful Dollivers.

They all insisted on wearing their fancy New Year's kit, with the addition of special hats, in honor of Aretha Franklin's iconic one, last time around.

Happy Day, Everyone!  from all of us to all of you.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Positively my final floor reno in this life

So today the house was under siege with the adventure of the Bedroom Floor Reno.  Positively the last reno I plan to do on this earth.  All my floors except the studio, over which I will draw a veil, just as well, too, have now been totally torn up and replaced and now look much better. This is a lifetime supply.

The cats were desperately trying the whole day to find hiding places from the Noises and the Big Men and the Machines as they transformed the old ghastly builder's installed "carpet" with a very good laminate.  As soon as they left, the Big Men, not the cats, a neighbor called to ask if he could come over and admire this evening and help me put stuff back.  Handsome Son is coming over anyway, so there'll be plenty of hands at work.  The cleaners come tomorrow so I need the place to be in neatish shape.  But they'll be pretty glad to see how much vacuuming they no longer have to do, I guess.  Stairs only now.

So here's the before, well, not the old carpeting, but the process

and the after.


Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Mad Hatter Strikes

So, after I had a nice pot of tea with the new Chinese, maybe, pot yesterday, I noticed that the tea tastes different from different pots, same tea, same procedures,flavor varies. Then I realized that I have yet another pot.  This is a lovely little clay one, which I'd had on the shelf for so many years just as a nice little artwork that I completely forgot it was a teapot.

So I tried it today, and found it makes a very good cup of tea.  And pours differently from the others.  This one rewards boldness, sending out a lovely arc right into your cup if you do it right.  Or all over the table if you approach it timidly on the grounds that it's full of boiling water.  Ask me how I know this.

The bamboo handle one pours very nicely, no challenges there, but the tea tastes sort of softer, less edgy and bright (note the technical terms, which I just made up).  And the other, blue and white Chinese one, authentic, from the Asian grocery, the start of all the trouble, both pours well and makes a good cup.

But I now realize I seem to have inadvertently stumbled into collecting teapots.  Me, the anti collector, the getter rid of things so adept that I do it for three different neighbors as well as Handsome Son.  Me, evidently in the throes  I believe that one pot is functional, two pots give you options and three pots form the nucleus of a collection which will take over every corner if I don't watch it.

You can tell that I'm losing this one, since I'm already worried about whether teapots are like elephants. I mean when people collect little elephants, figurines, that is,I don't know any collectors of the actual animals, at least not in this development, though my neighbors are no doubt very familiar with them back in Injah, where was I, oh yes, you're supposed to point all their little trunks to the nearest window so that they protect you, or keep the good luck in the house or something. 

Like hanging horseshoes up with the opening at the top, so the luck doesn't fall out.  Odd mixture of fantasy and literal mindedness in these beliefs, but anyway, I do need to know how these pots need to be organized for best household outcome, if any blogistas happen to know.

And I've just remembered that somewhere I believe I have a pewter teapot, part of a wedding gift, whose bamboo covered handle wore away with use, and rendered it difficult to use without third degree burns, but it's beautiful, and I bet I can lay hands on it if I try.  Oh dear.  Four pots is definitely a handbasket.

But I need to know about the spouts.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Score! indoors and out...

Grey, drab sort of weather, not very cold, no sunshine, oh well.  So I thought a trip to the thrift store was a good idea, taking in several sweaters I can part with, and seeing if there was anything nice there.

And there was.  A lovely little bamboo handle teapot, perfect condition, a cashmere Saks sweater, a quilted tote bag, also perfect condition, and a summer crocheted purse, not sure what the fabric is, but it's very like a bigger one I use for stitching projects, and that one is woven paper. 

And the young man at the counter lovingly wrapped the teapot in a Spanish language local paper.  An international experience, all in all, the bags from China and from somewhere in South America, the teapot with a Chinese, I think, imprint on the base, and the sweater from wherever cashmere grows.  After I've finished in here, I'm going to brew a pot of tea in my new pot.

Then once home, it was still so early, that I figured this was a good day for lugging and digging and generally manhandling stuff outside.  There are three cherry bushes out front -- you saw the giant harvest of about 15 cherries one year in here -- which sticks up annoyingly and doesn't fit the decor.  So now they are happily living on the patio where they will give me a bit of shade, since I won't prune them back all the time as I had to out front, and maybe some fruit, too, if I get there before the birds.

cherry bushes in situ before surgery

cherry bush during, while colleagues are being dug up
cherry bushes in new home on the patio Speaking of the birds, they have decided all this digging is the nicest thing I've done for them in ages, disturbing all kinds of insects and bugs and exposing seeds and other edible things. Anyway, they're out there in flocks digging and fussing away and having a lovely time.

> So now to make a pot of tea, with a nice warmed piece of hot biscuit, recipe from the Silver Palate, except no vanilla, all olive oil, much lighter, very good stuff.  And I'll browse through Nigel Slater's Diary cookbook, which is hysterically funny.  He tosses off comments such as "only two of us to feed today, just right for a pheasant"!!  Reminds me of Barbara Pym's comment about some male cooks seeing dining alone as a good opportunity to cook a small plover!!  Since Nigel seems to eat a lot of specialty food obtainable in the UK, including meat, which I don't do, this book may be strictly an anthropological adventure reading for me.  But he does have a couple of good things I might go for.  It's all good.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Witch Hazel maybe

This is what I found, not sure if it's witch hazel or not,but whatever it is, it's blooming in midwinter, and that's good enough for this blogger. I set the branches into a lovely cut crystal bud vase I rescued from the dumpster years ago, on top of some handmade old crochet cloths I acquired via freecycle, arranged on a stool I found in the dumpster. Beauty from discards!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Moving furniture and mountains

January is a low time of year for energy of all kinds, including the realization that I didn't even blog in here since last year, gah.

Forcing myself out to do things I'd scheduled, which, as often happens, turned out to be fun anyway despite my best intentions.  Sunday was an Embroiderers' Guild meeting, with a presentation from Karen Fynan on the trials and tribulations of qualifying for the Master Craftsman title of the national guild.  Many  stages and proofs of work and design requirements, and she brought the pieces from each stage she has completed to date, in the general area of surface embroidery.  To say the process is rigorous is putting it way too mildly. I think the documentation alone would do me in.  But her spirit is undimmed and her work is amazing.

I took pix for our newsletter, and had her permission to share on, so here are a few, showing the work members are involved in, too, since everyone brings stitching to every occasion, no matter what else is happening!  you will recognize the pillow I'm still plugging away at, and the same design but in a very different color combo, and a lot of other things, too. Notice that in one picture she's holding up the work that was a cover feature of the national magazine, Needlearts.  What I like about these pix is that they show the feeling of the meeting, very friendly and happy.  An antidote to Janblues.

Meanwhile back at home, I'm waiting for the floor covering to be in the store and a date for installation.  This gives me time to attempt to empty the two bedrooms to let the installers work.  Not easy.  So here's the hallway filled with the bookcases from one bedroom, and there are plans to stuff a lot of other items into the bathrooms at the last minute before they arrive, whenever that will be. Duncan always assumes that any pictures are about him, so he bragged about moving all that stuff himself.  It will be nice once it's done.  I keep telling myself that while I'm hauling stuff around and searching for things that already got moved and now I need them.

I think I'll go out and search for witch hazel today, take my mind off all this.