Saturday, December 31, 2016

A New Year's Greeting to everyone from all the Ds and friends and animals

You know how it is in any large group, there are a couple of rugged individuals who don't want to pose.  Big Old Doll refused to leave her rocker, now ensconced on a very nice little quilt made for me long ago. She holds onto the arms of the rocker like grim death, as if someone might swipe it.  And Elton is busy on some errand involving other bears and bars, I think.

So all the others are rounded up, Bed Doll, Greensleeves, the entire Dolliver Kennel population, plus tiny dolls and various bears who invited themselves in.  A bit blurred, because I got caught by the failing light, keep forgetting it gets dark early, and the spare bedroom is not all lamped up.

And we all wish you a very good 2017, with perhaps less excitement than this year brought.  My New Year's Resolution is not about that staple of the bookstores, self improvement, but about just being good to me as well as to other people!  This may include fresh flowers in the house now and then. There's a chance that this resolution will be kept.

Not that I'm altogether hung up on dates and years.  They're only an invention, really.  I still haven't finished arguing about the millennium, which was not 2000, but 2001.  Anyone who can count should know that, but a lot of people didn't care, and thought it was nice and decorative to have that round number. 

Anyway, perhaps it's about time I stopped arguing that particular point..but all you have to do is realize that 2000 years would bring you to the end not the beginning of the year.  But very few of us celebrated it that way, sigh.  Yes, I'll let it go now. Otherwise a big hook might appear from the margin...

But thank you all, blogistas, commenters, emailers and personal chatters who follow in here, and enjoy.  That's why I do it, and it's great to know someone is reading out there!


Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Post Holiday Nice Simple Food

After the lovely feasting of the last few days, with all kinds of extras just because, it was good to cook something simple today.  And Handsome Son may be over for dinner tomorrow, so he can have some, too. Thinking of seafood pasta for our main course, in fact it's marinating in lemon juice with lime slices right now, but this soup, with hot biscuits, will come before.

This is chickpea and tomato soup, with added yogurt whey, curry leaves, rosemary and some chicken broth.  Very easy to make, no chopping of onions, even.  And not long either.  We are at the time of year when I have no more farm tomatoes, and use canned ones, since the tomatoid objects in the "fresh" food section are not really worth it.

The hot biscuits, this time with fennel seeds added in, waiting to bake, are a good partner for the soup.

So here's today's lunch

I did have a bit of chocolate for dessert.  Just to finish it off, neatly.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Catnip Capers

'Twas the night before Kitmas
And all through the house
Not a quiet moment anywhere
Since the kits found their mouse

Told it was catnip, they mewed "We can dream
Go away! let us play!" 

As they tussled and swiped 

and made off with their swag
Until the mouse took on the look of a rag

At length, all blissed out, they called for a truce
Pawsed to thank Santa Kate
Then with no further mews

Both sank happily into a dormant and a little bit glassy eyed  state.

So kitties and Dollivers, Elton and Boud
Wish you and your family a catnippy mood!

Enjoy the holidays, be of good cheer
For the end of this poem is finally near...

Monday, December 19, 2016

What you do when you lose it, your signal, that is

For various technical reasons, mainly that my friend next door unplugged the system he lets me into, while he works on the electrical upgrades he's doing, I had no signal yesterday and today. I'm at the libe, undaunted, blogging and tweeting and all the usual activity today, including dealing with an amazing buildup in the email inboxes.

But by last evening, no libe access, xfinity too feeble to carry a signal, I wondered, having watched a wonderful episode of Zen (have you seen it? great series about a detective working in Rome) and read a bit, what next.  And thought ah, here's a chance to do a little bit in advance of next Sunday's Christmas big deal meal.  

So I hauled out the Silver Palate and found a candied ginger carrot recipe.  Would never do this usually, since I don't go for veggies made into candy, but oh well, try it once.  It involves butter, brown sugar, caraway seeds and powdered ginger, and it now all done and sitting in the freezer ready to be reheated . We'll see if it's popular enough to repeat for special times.

I also found that reading a Barbara Pym in bed makes for much more calm dreaming than even the most peaceful audiobook. So that's something to be said for no wifi.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Ice conditions require baking

Since the first half of the day was about ice and snow and freezing rain, it seemed like a good day to decide to be active indoors. Particularly since my neighbor brushed off my sidewalk, steps, and car before he took off for the day. 

I caught up on baking, both wholewheat bread and banana bread, and took out the yogurt cheese I'd had draining in the fridge for a couple of days.

The bread is from the Healthy Bread book, except that I change up the flour often.  You need 7.5 cups for this recipe, makes four sturdy loaves. Today I used 4 wholewheat, two all purpose and one and a half oatmeal. Cups, that is. I left the oatmeal as whole flakes, interesting to eat, rather than grind into flour.

The banana bread, baked in my trusty castiron baking dish, worked well.  I like to add stuff in to the basic recipe, today golden raisins and crushed walnuts. When I've used golden raisins I've been dusting them in the flour first, so they won't sink in the cake.  But they hung onto the flour, and tasted okay but didn't look so pretty.

So this time I mixed them into the mashed bananas, sugar and egg, beat them all together, then added in the flour, baking soda and salt whisked together.  Baked about an hour at 325F.  Worked a treat. They blend very well. So this is how I plan to do it from now on.

Then put up the oven heat to 450F for the bread, and baked that, in the usual nonstick casserole dish, about an hour.  I bake in the same dish I mix it in, works nicely.

I had put some whole milk yogurt, Dannon my favorite, probably because it was what I ate all the time as an au pair in France long ago, up for cheese a couple of days ago.  

This is where you turn the whole big container into a cheesecloth-lined strainer, sitting on a bowl.  Cover it, sit in the fridge for a day or two, so the whey strains out.  Then the solids make a lovely cream cheese.  I use it everywhere you might spread butter or cream cheese, and it's tangy and more interesting than either of them.  The whey is now in the freezer ready to use in soup.

Perfect for afternoon tea, as here.  As I picked up the tray to carry it through, the fork flew off across the room with a clatter.  I'd never get a job at the Ritz at this rate.

You did know that afternoon tea is what they serve at posh UK places to visitors? that's the name. It's not high tea, that's a kind of workman's supper deal, a knife and fork meal you come home from work to, involving meat and other stuff.  Poor man's dinner. So now you know.  And if you see establishments advertising high tea, you know they don't know their onions. Or their afternoon tea. The food might be good, though, so try it anyway.

So today's baking yield will go, some across the street to Rajiv, who is a keen fan of banana bread, some for Handsome Son, some for me. The bread, a couple of slices of lovely crusty stuff to neighbor for tomorrow's breakfast, to substitute for those "English muffins" he buys.  They remind me of hockey pucks, no matter how much jam you put on them.  

And since banana bread has bread in its name, I might have some toasted for breakfast, too. The bread police are out brushing off cars.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Birthday and future excitement

Last year I marked the day with a series of art suggestions for blogistas to try at home. This year, different stuff.  I was invited to offer another Artist In Residence series at the local libe, Plainsboro Public Library, gift to the township from me, and today I suddenly came up with a cool idea.

Artists' books, a series of four sessions of demo and teaching, for anyone who wants to try their hand.  Seemed very appropriate since it's taking place in the library.

This kind of thing:

Here you see some of my own books, some made from pages of my drawings, some from monotypes, a couple of small portfolios, these are fun to make, and in the top right corner, one made from a single sheet of paper.  And there are more forms, not too hard to create for a first attempt.

Can't guarantee that in one session you can learn the more tricky techniques, but it will be a good intro. And some of them kids will be able to do, in fact I've taught one type already to people of all ages, who did fine.  I have some excellent books to bring in with me, showing clearly how to make a range of forms.  And we'll xerox instructions to take away.

Speaking of first attempts. Ambitious mom last summer at the make and take paper weaving I conducted for the Festival day in September, looking over the more advanced samples I'd brought in of paperweaving.  I made samples that kids could actually make that day, too.

She passed over the kids' samples, and selected one of the artworks  that was pretty much professional level, brought in to show that paper weaving can be an artform,  and demanded that I teach her five year old "that one".  Very crestfallen when I explained that first you need to learn to weave paper, then you can progress to more advanced ways of using it..but she was reconciled and her little girl had a great time.  She made herself a little pendant and went away happily wearing it.

The Artist Book AIR will involve folding, stitching, beading, stamping, drawing, all kinds of artforms, and will be sometime in Spring.  I'm thinking that at least one of the sessions might be ahead of Mother's Day, so kids can make a present. Or maybe mother can make one herself in the free time she requests that day. Most moms really like a bit of peace and quiet as a gift.

Several blogistas own one or more of these, gift from the artist, and they are pretty acceptable as presents. Blank pages if the person wants to write or draw or do her own sort of thing, decorated if you just want to create an entire artwork.

So now I have some planning and prep to do, including making a couple of batches of paper, wonderful for artists' books.

So if you're local, try to stop in, and I'll keep you updated on dates and times.  Most probably on the ground floor of the library again, where you can see me at work as you come in.  No need to register, just show up.

And if you're too far away to attend, I'll blog as I go and you can bookmake along if you choose.  So this birthday gift is a bit in the future, but there you go, time is just an illusion..

Birthdays, Christmas prep and clam chowder

This latest birthday, always such a surprise to get another, is working out a treat, what with nice things arriving, and wishes and so on, for days now, I feel like the Queen, except she's more used to it.

Anyway, I have finally grown up to the point where I will allow Christmas decor to happen before the Most Important Day, so here's the total of my splurge.  

 Woven stars for peace showered down on the three creches in there.  And decorations on the ficus, which takes a seasonal job working as a Christmas tree.

This dumpster table is one of the nicest things I ever swiped.  So adaptable.  Side table at Thanksgiving, and now Christmas decor table. It has the extra added attraction that the kitties are not interested in it, saving me many hours of finding and replacing little items that have been played under the sofa. And the Dollivers are not in evidence. Judging from the racket upstairs, they're kneedeep in outfits, looking for their red festive ones, and jewelry, too.

Awaiting the surprise

Handsome Son brought dinner over a couple of nights ago, since he's working the other evenings, a lovely dish of roast chicken breast over noodles in Alfredo sauce.  Dessert was his own home baked, and his own recipe, chocolate chip cookies.  And he made the tea that went with them.  And brought the interesting soft drinks that went with the main course.  It was all a surprise, hence the empty table!

Then today is bitterly cold, high winds, too, very quiet since the reno contractors can't work in this weather, thankfully for them, I expect, so it called for soup.  

Ages since I made clam chowder, though I've had a little can of clams waiting for the mood for ages.  And Roma plum tomatoes from the farm, in the freezer.  And fish bits to make into fish stock in a bag in the freezer.  And potatoes already in the house.  And my homegrown thyme in the freezer. So clam chowder it was.

Like this

The fish stock was the simplest I ever did: just heated up the fish bits in enough water for the soup, boiled the lot, and added it after straining out the fish, flavor surprisingly good.

I did rescue the onions and garlic before they charred.  One of the drawbacks of being the cook and the photographer and the food designer is that you sometimes lose track.

Then, since I don't like soup that is liquid with floating islands of solid food in it, I did blend it a bit, just to change the texture, but not to lose all the interest. I had already taken out the floating tomato skins, but I like to cook with them in place, good flavor there.  So here's the finished Birthday Chowder

 Perfect insulation in this weather, reminds me of what my mom used to refer to as the weather of the  "poor sailors at sea" always making me include them in my prayers at night in winter storms.  We were close to the North Sea, historically a rough and dangerous sea where a lot of local fisherfolk worked their catch, so it was more than theoretical.

So I now have a large container, soup, not fisherfolk, for Handsome Son and me when he next comes over, plus several small ones just for me, in the freezer.

And I have art news, which is also birthday type news, for which you need to consult Art the Beautiful Metaphor.  Last year I gave out virtual gifts to blogistas. But this year, it's a plan.  Seems like a good time to plan for events I will be doing next spring, and this one is new hatched.  Since I will be blogging about it, and offering it in person for free, it's a gift to my township via the library.

But, last for best, here is a marvelous bouquet which appeared this morning at the door, from sister dogonart.  The smell is wonderful, the downstairs all now like summer.  And since it's in a rectangular container, it has two sides.  Here are both

And since I can never resist forcing information on teaching people
see the stripey tulips?  tulips and roses and other flowers were all stripey in the middle ages before they were hybridized and made into solid colors.  

You see them in old tapestries and paintings, and Ronsard mentioned this in his poetry.  And now the taste for them has returned so they're sort of reverse engineering them to get stripes again, and they're lovely.  I hope you're taking good notes, there will be a quiz.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Just never too old to love a parcel!

Such larks! to quote Dickens or someone.  There on the step a box, waiting for me.  Natal day is next week sometime, but this was sent early enough to be sure it gets here promptly.  And it did.

Soooooo, warned to open it on a counter, so does this mean it's a tiara and the diamonds might fall out if I drop it?  I knew it was not a doll, what a concept, a present that's not a doll.  Soooo, unwrap plenty of brown paper insulation.

Then come to bubble wrapped middle bit

Then get into that with care and see what emerged

It's perfect!  English bone china, lovely long pins already in place, semi precious stones in the heads, this covers several bases of my favorite things all at one time.  I wish I were as gifted at gifts as K is, but my part in this is just to say thank you, I love it! and had to open it right away, and not wait.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Early start on holiday doings

Today I got down to organizing a lot of small (physically small, that is) presents for local friends this year.  Party on Sunday, so I had to be ready ahead of time.

Stars are featuring largely this year, after an obsessive attention to making them from any paper at hand, or ribbon.  I tried fabric, but it didn't work so well.

Put out creche, few ornaments on ficus tree playing the part of a fir, and I think I'm done. Then I can just read, which is what I had in mind all along.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

The Dakota Access Pipeline Gets a Reprieve, and the Standing Rock Sioux a victory for once

Stars, they're all stars

Anyone who has been following the long and agonizing struggle to prevent the Dakota Access Pipeline from crossing Indian sovereign territory, including their freshwater source and their sacred grounds, is rejoicing today at the announcement from Washington.

Months of peaceful protest on the part of the Water Protectors, acting on behalf of all of us, really, in the insistence on protecting our natural water resources, were met by violence from local and state police forces, using water cannon in subfreezing temperatures on unarmed praying people, firing rubber bullets and causing injury.  

Reporters were arrested for simply doing their job of reporting and taking pictures, the authorities illegally closed a highway with no right to do so, and in general there was a degree of lawlessness from the police, who described the protesters as rioters. Forgetting, perhaps that in the age of the smart phone, pictures and video demonstrating the falsity of those charges were flying all round the world.

So today came down the word that the administration, and the Army Corps of Engineers, were not granting the easement needed to route the pipeline across the Indian reserved territory.  A new study was ordered, and the participation of the tribal leaders included in it -- this was not the case up to now -- to look for an alternative access route, and for the moment, victory is in the air.

Those of us who have been bombarding the Department of Justice and the White House with demands to look into the police conduct and restore order and proper treatment of legal peaceful demonstration, preserving that right, in the constitution, are happy this evening.  

We did our tiny bit. Nothing like the sheer bravery of the unarmed people facing down water cannon and rubber bullets and threats varying from criminal charges and fines, as well as being blockaded from supplies. At least we did what we could.  Nothing like the bravery of medics who were also hosed down in freezing weather and fired at while administering first aid to injured people in the early stages of hypothermia.  But we did what we could.

Cheers everyone!  good news for once for the native American heroes and the veterans, many of them also native American, whose wave of support this weekend seems to have tipped the scale. And we need to stay alert, to preserve this victory.

And to take the example of the tribal leaders who responded with dignity and decorum, graciously, certainly a model for us all.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Meal for One, last minute thought

Today being dark and rainy and generally gloomy outside, it called for something hot and interesting to eat for supper.  So I made a greedy meal for one, one helping only, nothing to share, and it was good enough to tell about.  

It was a shiitake mushroom, grape tomato and two kinds of cheese pepper jack and sharp cheddar, bake, with an egg broken over it. 20 minutes at 385F in a glass dish, and it was ready.  

Before and after cooking pix. 

 Before shows the whole tomatoes, definitely better than cutting them up and losing the flavor in the cooking.  Cheese cubes about the same size as tomatoes, so all the ingredients are basically same size, so cooking will work best.

 Here, after cooking,  the tomatoes have exploded a bit, the cheese has melted, the egg cooked, and the flavor was great.

The tomatoes were in the freezer since July, from the farmer's market, and if you do this, the flavor is just like summer.  I froze them immediately I got them home.  No need for any seasoning with this meal. The mushrooms were cooked for Tgiving, and saved out, and the cheeses and tomatoes were enough flavor, along with that.  Plus a nice farm egg.

All in all, this is worth trying.  Over a couple of slices of homebaked wholewheat toast.  Accompanied by a glass of prosecco, which cheered me up no end. 

As did a visit yesterday from a friend to whom I'd given some Thanksgiving sponge candy.  She's Indian and we are constantly educating each other about various food items.  It's the place where we intersect best.  

And she said they were at a bit of a loss, since I didn't give any instructions with this box.  Usually, she pointed out, I say to nuke for 25 seconds or something, when it's a baked thing, but how to eat this?  I just said pick up a piece and bite!  it's like a candy bar, big enough for several bites, and better fun than breaking it up.  So she bustled off to try it out!  So now I know I should have included instructions. Reminds me of my first digi camera, which I loved because the first instruction in the box was: take camera out of box!

This post has been an exercise in multitasking, with many Skype messages to respond to, coming in at exactly the same time as uploading, labeling, writing and switching back and forth.  I must reread to make sure I don't have two streams of consciousness bumping into each other here.  I expect it's all good for brain power.  Or something.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Late but thankful anyway, Thanksgiving dinner 2016

Since Handsome Son was working on the day of Thanksgiving, and reported that it was extremely quiet at work that day, wonder why, we celebrated with our official Tday dinner today, and a good day it was.

He always brings along good cheese and crackers to start, so we toasted each other and everything we're thankful about with a nice glass of prosecco along with the cheese and cracker course.

 All set, ready for action. I do the main course, and the new console table worked a treat with the various small dishes of cranberry sauces, mustard, butter, very handy.  

It was ham this year with shiitake mushrooms baked along, corn, peas, baked potato, and stuffing.  

It went down very well, and couple of glasses of prosecco put us both, not being drinkers, in a very happy mood. There was also a very good ginger ale, courtesy of HS.

We took a brisk walk round the park while the pie baked, then came home to tea and pumpkin pie with cream, Handsome Son always provides dessert, plus a dish of sponge candy, from me, most of which went home with him.

Then some Partners In Crime videos for him, while I think I must have slept, since I missed the plot entirely, the evening came on and the day ended with HS going home with plenty of leftovers for next week, leaving me with some, too.

So much to be thankful for, family and friends, including blogistas and online friends, and brand new roof over heads, and enough food on the table to have extra, and a peaceful home.  Can't ask for much more than that.  

Thank you all who read this blog, for your interest and your kindness and endless patience with the Shenanigans of Boud!

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thanksgiving 2016, Dollivers and musings

This year, since Handsome Son is working, Thanksgiving chez Boud and Dollivers, is moved to his day off, Saturday.  So, since for the twelve years I had the petcare service with never a holiday celebrated on the actual day, and he good humoredly handled it, year after year, it's my turn to be cool with celebrating on a different day.

So today is all about loafing and walking and watching Partners in Crime

 a very good production, with great twenties scenes, and cars, and clothes, and slang, and it's just totally spiffing, old bean!  highly recommended, too.

Also the entire crew, Dollivers, still in suffrage outfits, bears, Elton, still in stolen sweater, you'll notice the nude bear in the hat, it's his sweater, and the Tinies, and Greensleeves, and the entire Dolliver Kennels, all arrayed in comfort on the spare room bed, wish us all a good Thanksgiving.  They will return on Saturday with suitable songs and shenanigans, just resting up for now.  

New Big Doll has taken over the rocking chair in the bedroom, ejecting one of the bears, now in residence on the bed. She considers them waiting in line for an audience in her presence. Sitting squarely on the dolls' rocker, tiny feet crossed, one hand on the arm of the chair, she reminds me strongly of Queen Victoria. Well, Mr Disraeli, should we send a gunboat then?

And the bed doll considers herself no part of the toy world at all, and declined to make an appearance in this post.

Spending a rare holiday alone is also a great chance to make more of my million stars, and to muse on various and pointless things.
Things such as what's the world divided into.

Two sorts of people, makers and shoppers
Two sorts of people, madly gregarious and happy for a day solo
Two sorts of people, Dollivers and nonDollivers, poor things, guess who inserted this one
Two sorts of people, players of music and nonplayers
Two sorts of people, shouters and listeners
Two sorts of people, cooks and diners
Two sorts of people, gardeners and arrangers of garden furniture
Two sorts of people, home painters and hirers of contractors
Two sorts of people, smart and dumb

And if you print and cut all these out,  and shuffle them around a bit, you'll notice that all of us are any of these at any given time!  Except that the nonDollivers are stuck with it, but the Ds feel that's about right.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone who celebrates it today, and Happy Thursday if it's a regular working day for you, having sensibly got it all done and out of the way weeks ago.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Boud abhors a vacuum

Wildly windy day, neighbors busting in all over, very welcome though surprising, one saying I need the ladder from your loft, already halfway up there with his helper to get it for some vital work happening next door.  One bringing lovely spicy food, and announcing her birthday and wanting my blessing for it.  To me that consists of a massive hug and kiss and wishes, and a fervent wish I'd known earlier..

Anyway, on the way upstairs to see if I have any little something she might like, I realized I hadn't watered and trimmed out the upstairs plants, so I did that, and made a bit of leafy debris on the bedroom floor. No problem, I have a trusty vacuum cleaner right there.  Plugged it in, and it sucked up all the leaves then sent them all flying back in my face.  Oh.

Probably a clog.  I unplugged, learned how to take off the footplate, removed the little interior hose, riddled it, nothing in there, no clog, put back the footplate, not without some sweating and cursing.  Tried again, still shooting debris all over the room gracefully landing everywhere.  Oh. And the main part wouldn't hug the floor right.  Oh. Took off the footplate again, getting good at this, took out the small hose, put it back more snugly, hoping this was the answer.  Which is sort of was.

Except that the cleaner was still emitting, not accepting.  Got out the book that came with it many years ago, see there's a reason to keep these things sometimes.  And went through all kinds of studying, having done all the things they suggested at this point.
Hm.  On the point of saying, out with this vacuum, out I say, I noticed the diagram of the fully organized one.  And noticed that the hose which is supposed to take the debris in and keep it there, was detached and had been left in the wrong clamp.  

 See that pipe thing running down there, now correctly plugged in, into the base of the unit, the hose coming out of the top of it?  It and the one on the left had got reversed.  This does not work other than to give debris a quick round trip back onto the floor in a new place.

Ah, put it in the right place, plugged in again, and now it works.  It would have been very good to notice this before all the strenuous taking off and putting back of footplates, but anyway I know how to do that now.  This is a desperate attempt to rationalize things, but doesn't cover my ineptitude.  Actually I think I just qualified for a cabinet position in DC.

And I realize that this abhorred vacuum caper was the aftermath of another exciting appliance adventure earlier in the week.  That was when two friends helped with my broken down clothes dryer, which we all concluded was clogged (my week for clogs, should learn clog dancing, really) on account of hammering on the roof having dislodged a mass of lint back down the hose into the machine. 

They were a little at odds, one wanting to dismantle the entire thing to see it better, one insisting we should check first in case it was simply clogged with damp lint.  Guess which was the male friend...
So, by the time we'd blown through the back and sucked through the front, and both friends and the landing were liberally decorated with dryer lint, the vacuum had seen good service. One of the friends reassembled the various bits she'd used, and that's when the hose got out of commission.

No pix, enough hot air from the dryer and the friends without adding in unflattering pix of them valiantly trying to deal with each other and the dryer, which is now working a treat.  They're back on speaking terms, too.  Throughout this activity, we had an interesting discussion on how we would run the country better than anyone who is on the point of trying to.  Actually, since two of us are GOP and one a Dem, we were a model of civility about the whole thing.

It's been quite a nervy week, what with the national scene, about which let's not talk just for a moment, and the roofing drama, and the dryer breaking down, and the neighbors breaking down over their struggles to get their houses ready for roofing and then the vacuum.  Art cannot exist in a vacuum.

So though nature may abhor a vacuum, she's nothing compared to Boud at the moment.  Fortunately I didn't call in any friend for help and look even sillier than I do now, when they would have taken one look and reorganized the hose...

However, all is not dark.  Remember that nice little table I found at the dumpster?  turns out it was handmade by my contractor/artist neighbor years ago, no room for it in the runup to the roofing cleaning, and though he had noted how fast it vanished, didn't know I had it.  I emailed him with a pic of it in situ, and everyone's happy about this.
My cats are bookending me in a friendly way, explaining that the various breakdowns weren't their doing, and I'm going to have a teatime with lemon bars any minute now.  The bars have been going down very well!  Handsome Son polished off a few, and birthday neighbor had several the other day and texted three times with her reactions. 

And now I remember I was on the way to check out the stash of completed stitchery to see if there's anything she might like.  I wonder if I dare try again. You never know what challenge I might find. It's dangerous going upstairs in search of a little present.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Cooking finally returns again with prep for Friday night dinner

I made a bigly pot of pumpkin soup, some of which will appear on the table tomorrow evening, and there will be fish cakes made with fresh flounder and various spices, with green peas and roast potatoes.

And then I thought idly, since a friend made noises about coming over for a cup of tea in the next day or two, she having been way under the weather, in the hospital, and struggling to get back, I should make a little something to serve her with a cup of tea.  It won't be a whole meal, like my usual afternoon tea invitations, she's not up for that, but a nice little something is good.  And I need a dessert for tomorrow evening.

Leafed through Martha Stewart in search of simple, quick cookies.  Found quite a few, and bookmarked them studiously, before being totally led off the straight and narrow by finding a recipe for lemon bars...far from simple and quick, but oh well, it's been a hard week and they're so good.  So this happened.

I will be freezing a lot of them, partly so that I don't plow right through them, and partly so that a visitor will in fact get something edible with a cup of tea.  Some will cross the street to friends, too.

There was a tense moment when the dish, with the pastry crust in it, was in the freezer for a few minutes, and then had to go right into the hot oven.  I was fervently hoping the glass would stand up to this, though it claimed it would, and to my amazement, it did.

At this point I think I have had the last of builders trotting about inside the house fixing this and that for me, and though I plan on replacing all my windows at some point when the HOA gets some contractors lined up, that will be another noisy dusty passage, still, just for the moment, I have the place to myself.

Except for neighbors dropping in, four in one day this week, a landspeed record, it's what the renovation does. Breaks down barriers..but they all needed to talk, so I guess that's okay.  It's been a tense few days, and the roof noise hasn't helped with anyone's calm and accepting spirit. Not to mention the problems the roofers have uncovered in various houses, largely relating to wiring and squirrels, a bad mixture.  I was lucky in that nothing in my roof was written up and declared a danger to civilization.

So, Sayers' Clouds of Witness going in audiobook this evening, all's well, and another bunch of handwarmers under way, too. Several local friends are thinking of wearing the safety pin, now that they've seen me with one and asked what on earth I was up to.  

One was worried that I would be a target, and I said, well, already been criticized about it, by someone who was determined to be mad at me, never mind.  Important to stand up even in this quiet tiny way, or the bullies will have won.

Monday, November 14, 2016

The Safety Pin Movement and more protest knitting

One of the challenges which will face us in the coming few years is to maintain the alertness to injustice we might see around us, between changing federal legislation and the everyday prejudice which has taken on a new lease of life thanks to recent speechmaking. Right now it's easy to be indignant, especially as we see the cabinet unfolding in DC, but keeping it up is a longer challenge.

One thing I've done is to become one of the people who will daily wear a safety pin, on my coat.  This movement started in the UK after Brexit, when there was a similar wave of hate speech and action toward minorities.  The symbol is one of safety, that the wearer is friendly to all minorities, religious, racial, gender based, no matter, and that goodwill can be expected from her. Simple quiet but eloquent.

So here's my coat now, and the pin will stay on it.  Would you consider joining this quiet movement?  you join by putting on a pin, that's it.  And no matter where we live, it's good to declare our willingness to tolerate and embrace all other people.  This includes people I might fervently disagree with.  I may try to persuade them to see other ideas, but I will do so agreeably and without resorting to self righteousness in the process.  And I'll try to see their viewpoint, even when it's hard to do. Anyway, that's the goal.

At home, the protest knitting  goes on, and I will soon be making contact so as to have a way of distributing these items as they are made.  A better name for these gloves is handwarmers, I think, and this current pair will work for men, too. I have a big hand for a woman, so my gloves would fit a man up to medium men's size, and stretch a bit further than that, too.

Handsome Son was puzzled about the protest name, and wondered if there was something about the pattern that expressed a protest!  I explained that no, it was just the act of doing and giving them that was the protest. It's not secret messages knitted in or anything.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Food, interrupted

Yesterday, a day which will live in confusion.

The plot:  roof replaced, new skylight in place.  Bag of tools wrt skylight left between glass and screen.  Neighbor says, oh, I'll pop out the screen, and get the tools for you.  Screen will not pop. Three roofers unable to remove screen to retrieve tools.  Promise to come yesterday to fix, need to be in house, will I be there.  Yes, I will.

Now, since Handsome Son was expected for dinner, I was going to do a good bit of cooking and baking.  Our weekly meal is also the foundation for a few days of my own feeding.

So I got up early, and figured I'd better be up and ready for company early, since construction starts about seven.  So I'm all dressed, and chopping and sizzling and roasting and baking, doing half a dozen procedures at once, thinking to get it done before they show up,  and the roofer, Bob, yes, he's really called Bob (as in  The Builder), shows up in midstream, as it were.  

This is the ingredient stage, not shown is chicken thighs roasting in oven, nor potatoes, not yet cooked at this point, before Bob came in

Oh, what are you cooking, smells great? when's lunch?  now switch everything off because I need you to show me the skylight situation.  So I switched everything off, retimed it all in my head, took a Skype message from anxious son, I had failed to switch on my phone, his texts unanswered, while trotting upstairs to show the nonfunctioning skylight.

Bob the Builder assessed the situation and found that the original aperture was too small for the unit they'd installed.  But, hearteningly, he said we'll make this work, okay, you can carry on now, got this.

And he ingeniously made a solution with a bit of sheet rock cutting and a cunning new way to get at the screen, which can now be removed, by anyone, not just Bob.  So, pausing  to take a look around the studio, which is where the skylight is, he commented that it all looked very familiar to him, his daughter's an artist, and his friend, a roofer, is a terrific portrait painter in oils, and so on, very nice convo.  This brings to one hundred per cent the sampling of building tradesmen I've met who make art or their family does, and they're very up on it. Seems to go with the territory.  

In fact contracting has a lot in common with art: constraints of materials and size, need for inventiveness at times, ability to visualize the next stage and execute, adeptness with tools, persistence, focus, willingness to try several approaches.  I don't have the physical strength, otherwise I bet I could have been a good contractor.

So Bob departed, and I got on with the main dish, a sort of chicken pie thing, partly Craig Claiborne  NYT cookbook, partly my own ideas, partly the addition of a small dish of tendoli, at least I think that's what, gift of Indian friend via her daughter.  Spicy way of cooking a green veg that is like a kind of green bean, very popular among Indian friends.

All the vegs were fresh chopped including the parsley still bravely growing out on the patio, despite all the torrent of debris and boots stomping on it lately.  That slice of red stuff is frozen tomato paste. Roast chicken thighs in oven throughout this time, to be cut up into cubes and added to the vegs, simmered in a chicken stock, thickened with flour. Wine, supposed to be white, but Merlot was just fine. Mashed potatoes, real mash this time, with grated sharp cheddar, on top. 

All this taking place in a house swathed roof to ground in tarps, quite dark indoors, with hammering overhead throughout, and snatches of cheerful Latin songs to be heard, and people coming and going and driving massive equipment about, a few feet away.

So, the pie thing in the fridge for evening, and I had plans to show you pix of the completed dish, which was pretty nice, bubbling and inviting, once it was safely on the table.  Son at table awaiting main course, just bringing it from the kitchen, sizzling, anxious to set it down, when neighbor drops in with item he'd picked up for me at the store to fix my clothes dryer which sort of had a nervous breakdown amid the renovation. Leaving me with a pile of hot wet laundry.

So I put the dish out on the table, invited Handsome Son to help self while I settled up with neighbor and discussed other neighbor's woes and plans and you know how it is.  By the time I got to the table, the dish was still lovely and hot, but it was sort of wreckage owing to the inroads of very appreciative son.  We both needed comfort food this week.  So no food-styled picture. It looked a bit like those patio pix with all the debris raining down..

I had also made hummus, served on hot biscuits for a starter, since soup wouldn't go with this chicken pie thing, must figure out a better name for it.   All made fresh same day.

You do know how easy it is to make hummus, no?  beats me why it's so expensive to buy, it's only chickpeas, lemon juice, garlic, cumin, peanut butter if you don't like tahini, which I don't, and you can leave out the garlic if you can't do garlic.  Chuck the lot into food processor, I have a tiny one called Oscar, no, that's the actual name of it, which handles whole can of chickpeas plus other items.  Went over well, on the fresh hot biscuits.

Then this evening, after a quiet day, with audio version of Faro's Daughter on Hoopla, protest knitting see here, the slot scarf fun to make

supper was very mideastern: pitted dates with hummus, glass of red wine. 

If you've never tried this combo, do.  The sweetness of dates can be a bit much, but the more savory hummus and the contrast in textures, works really well with it. 

So upshot: cooking despite interruptions, the Shakuhachi effect, went fine, the skylight works, the dryer will be seen tomorrow by handyman neighbor who works in IT but should really have been an engineer, I believe,  is intrepid at taking things apart, we'll see if it's fixable.  All's pretty well, considering. 

Particularly in view of the massive huge moon out tonight, very reassuring that at least other planets are working okay.  And I imagine it's a lot more peaceful and less confusing on the moon that around here.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Protest knitting

So it's the next day now, and plans are afoot.  Aside from various comments and encouragements I'm putting out there in the world, to people dismayed by the outcome of the election. I'm embarking on practical protest work.  

This consists of taking care of people who may be hardest hit in a new administration which plans tax cuts, and which will therefore probably create cutbacks in social supports.

So, donation off this morning to Meals on Wheels, and another pair of warm fuzzy mitts started, these, now that Handsome Son and I are both supplied, are for giving to other people who need them. Winter's coming on, and a lot of seniors get very cold hands.  This yarn is soft and warm, and there will probably be a keyhole scarf to go with, if the yarn holds out.

The mitt design is similar to the one I used to make Handsome Partner several pairs, which he was so happy with.  Warmer hands in the house, and he could eat and turn pages and pick up pens and so on, wearing them.  So I figured there are other folks not far from here who could use them, too.  I have a small stash to knit down.

I have in mind some local people living alone and in poor health, senior or not, and this little bit of comfort might be acceptable. Anyway, this is the current state of the protest movement chez Boud.

 Reminds me of the story of the shrimp and the kid. You know the one?  kid walking along the beach, sees a stranded shrimp, picks it up carefully and tosses back into the water.  Friend says, what's the point? one shrimp? what difference does that make? Kid replies, made a lot of difference to that shrimp.

So I guess my protest knitting is a handup to a shrimp. And it's local shrimp I plan to help, they being as needy as anyone elsewhere on the planet, and in danger of being needier.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Mourning in America. The Dream Deferred.

So this post is different from the post I thought I would be able to write.  Many dreams swept away at the ballot box.  Many fears among my friends working in homeless shelters and other agencies whose funding is already difficult and may get more so.  Many fears among friends fearful of backlash against the rights gay people have finally begun to secure.  Many fears among people like me who don't "talk American", who get aggressive responses already from certain folks the minute we speak.

But over and above all the fears, one great source of pride:  even though the winner of the popular vote did not win the position, even though there has been great bitterness throughout the campaign, still, still, the transition will be a peaceful one. 

Handled with grace by loser and even, to my surprise, honestly, by winner, too, with the sitting President gently moving things along on the side of peaceful acceptance, we will get through this without taking the low road.

The Dollivers had dressed in the white purple and gold of the women's suffrage movement (white also the color for the British suffragettes who were imprisoned for their activities).  And rather than pantsuits, they opted for the historical long dresses and sashes, and hats, to honor women who've gone before us.  Ready for a party that didn't happen.  But they still plan to continue in these outfits to Thanksgiving at least, to give thanks that we did have a woman candidate on the ballot at last.  One of ours. The first of many!

And win or lose, Hillary's still a star, as are all the brave women who fight without losing heart for our rights and the wellbeing of our country.  Elton already wears white, and got a purple and gold hat to honor men who support the achievements of women.

So he played us out with the theme from Our Town, quiet music, no singalong this time. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Election Day, and the roof came off

What with all the existential anxiety around this most stressful campaign in recent memory, this was the morning the roofers arrived to tear off my roof.  Debris raining down all morning, decorating the cherry tree

 and the patio

Heavy equipment all around us 

Next door neighbor came in to check I was okay, and we had a brief anxious convo about the election results.

I tweeted my feelings about this year's election to the Brian Lehrer show here on wnyc public radio, and as I was moseying about doing Dolliver related things I heard him read it on his radio program. Particularly moving, since I referred to my Mom, early and dedicated feminist.

So the destruction overhead seems emblematic of what's going on around here in general, but destruction precedes creation, so hope springs eternal.  In both realms.  Let's hope our country gets its renovation going.

The Dollivers are agitating for outfits reflecting the historic occasion, and they will make an appearance as part of the celebration they plan, eternal optimists, so watch this space later this evening..