Friday, April 29, 2016

Signs of Spring, at last

Today was full of hopeful signs of spring, after it seemed to have retreated again into cold, windy days.

It was near the first of the month, so time for a little bunch of cut flowers.  And iris were there, tightly furled, but very promising, with chrysanthemums.  True to form, as I picked and sniffed, sniffed and picked at the store, I had to have flowers with more than one purpose.  

The iris will make a beautiful dye next time I work on silk, which will be soon.

Then on the way home, the joyful sign at the farm for asparagus, first day of the year, was up, and I swerved into the farm and started scrabbling through my purse for the cash, not carrying much.  This was an honor system, no person there, just leave your money in an open box.  So I got my first asparagus and took the celebratory bite off the raw top of one, perfect.  

That will be on the menu today. Handsome Son will be here for dinner to help eat it.  And other items, jasmine brown rice cooked with Chinese spicy sausage in it, served with mixed vegetables and chicken on it.  Cake with mango yogurt cheese.

And a sudden wildflower burst out on the patio, must look it up and see what it is.  

Something about my camera doesn't like bright orange, and will only give a blurry yellow instead, but this flower is a wonderful brilliant color.  

Then there's henbit, I think, growing everywhere particularly in the pots I had put soil in for other purposes. 

And the couple of remaining branches on my wild cherry, blooming away, full of bees when the sun comes out, and with all kinds of birds pecking at them, too.

All in all, a good spring day, even if I was back in a winter coat to enjoy it.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Field and Fen Breaks out into a poem

In the kitchen, with a big bag of spanish onions, partly for dye purposes, the outer skins, that is, and the rest for the freezer, I came over with a poem.  I wrote this right then, and have sent it, in response to listener invitations, to in celebration of National Poetry Month.  

Long time since I committed a poem, so I thought I'd share:

Today I brought home a whole bag of onions
ready to collect the papery golden skins
for the dye bag
and the food for the freezer to preserve
as memory, again, thrusts, fresh,
the onion-worked smell of my mother's hands
at my child's eye level, cracked and broken by
a lifetime of labor, many children,
no time to dye
barely time to live

Liz Adams, in honor of Lizzie Ryder

Monday, April 25, 2016

B in B, that would be Breakfast in Bed

On account of the fact that I woke early, and refrained from jumping up and doing things, in favor of a wiser approach of a leisurely start to the day, I decided on breakfast in bed.

Now, when you live alone, this involves more than having Jeeves or a nice lady in a frilly cap coming in and opening the curtains and presenting a nice cup of tea.  

It's about getting up, going downstairs, feeding the cats, poaching the lovely freerange egg, making the toast, fixing the coffee, arranging the tray, then staggering back up with all this, cats hindering at every point.

Then comes the logistical challenge of getting into the bed with the contents of the tray intact, and then the eating part is pretty easy.  Critical readers will note that the bread is, shock, horror, bought bread!  which shows how weak I've been ran out of bread, couldn't bake more, son provided slices of whole wheat to tide me over.

Also very luxurious on a sunny day with the cherry blossom, what's left of it, blooming outside.  

And, though you can't see her, a myrtle warbler breakfasting on the blossoms out there.  I guess it's either pollen or minute insects, rather than poached egg on toast. To each her own. Chacune a son gout, no accents, bring your own. I gave the feminine form as a default..don't tell me breakfast isn't political!

 Good news about prospective tenant for next door: single middle aged lady with cat.  This sounds like someone who's unlikely to replace the former occupants' blasting home entertainment unit, yay. Well, we'll see!

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Field and Fen Briefly in the Kitchen

On the mend, more or less, cautiously eating a bite, and taking really short walks to remind my legs how to work, and today  I managed a little recipe for something I've been meaning to make for ages, usual story.

These are parmesan crisps, from Ina Garten, and since I happened to have a block of parmesan, about the right amount, and the thyme is all back in leaf, that and black pepper, kosher salt, and a tablespoon of ap flour was all that was needed.  I'm still as weak as a kitten, in fact a kitten could paw wrestle me and win at this point, so I had to rest a time or two in the grating of the cheese, but we got there.

Pretty simple, and as you see, the darker baking sheet made a crisper finish than the lighter one, but still all good.  I was able to take just a crumb to taste, not up to fat food yet, and can attest that they are good.  A little snack with wine, or in my case possibly to save in the freezer for a future teatime guest.  I like to offer something savory as well as a bit of cake.  I have a feeling that you need to make quite a few of these to have enough!

So that satisfied my inner cook.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Levels of activity and how to measure your health!

This week I've been out of action with a virus, I think it was, at any rate something that had my innards in great turmoil for several days and is starting to improve to the point where I can tolerate sitting up and writing.

It occurred to me that there are levels of illness that I tend to measure thusly:

Level One, disregard it, do the whole day's activities as planned, feel tired at the end
Level Two, try to disregard it, but find a need to sit down abruptly every now and then and wait for the feeling to pass
Level Three, cancel outside commitments, able to make it to the mailbox, a 150 yard round trip for me, and maybe do a load of laundry, feed the cats, eat a bit
Level Four none of the above possible, with the exception of staggering downstairs to feed the cats. 
Level Five call in reinforcements to make me tea and feed the cats.

This week has been largely passed at Level Four then Three, and I'm hoping that I will be reacquainted with food quite soon, and get away from various medications, and claw back my usual energy.

However, none of that stops me from reading, a great way to enter a world where current ailments lose their importance.  And I've found, amazingly, that some of the Ramona books by Beverly Cleary, never heard of her before this week, not knowing anything about kidlit, have had a lovely antidotal effect. Well written, astute and with interesting characters. Great illustrations. Also short enough to read before I fall asleep again.

And I'm in the middle of Agatha Christie's autobiography, much more interesting than I expected, since she jumps about, giving interesting anecdotes rather than a long chronology of name dropping, which bios often fall into.

Then I've watched a few episodes of A Bit of Fry and Laurie, very funny, bit hard to follow if you aren't up to all the details of current UK politics.  Watching YouTube on a tablet is a bit like following an animated postage stamp, but worked fine.

I did get one thing done last evening, finished the embroidery frame I was building with pvc pipe until I had to stop for parts to arrive.  And here, to show I'm still on the planet, it is

If you want to know more about this project, and see links to the plans and so on, go here

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Sunday Supper in Spring

Great day, chilly but bright sunshine, great lunch with Handsome Son, then trip to libe and found more Donna Leon detective novels, latest reading jag, great walk around park with people running jumping and standing still, kicking footballs and learning to ride tiny bikes.

Then home to Sunday supper in Spring, bowl of tomato, chickpea, red lentil soup, with hot biscuits, toasted, wholewheat with caraway seeds, spread with yogurt cheese, nice glass of Sangria.  Cheerful wine, not as heavy as a winter sort of red wine.  That's as technical as my wine talk gets.  

Piece of zucchini apple walnut bread for dessert. Lovely Vietnamese coffee.  Astute readers will note that this all bears a resemblance to the lunch menu, and you would be right up to a point.  It's selected leftovers.

So, perfetto!  reading Donna Leon, with bits of Eyetalian all over, her novels are set in Venice, you do pick up a word here and there..and a friend sent two chapters of her current novel not set in Venice, I think in Minnesota, to read,  great compliment, that, so that's next on the agenda.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

On Not Knowing Your Own Strength 6WS

This is not of those philosophical musings about endurance or dealing with the various blows of life.  It's about not realizing you're strong enough to bust a faucet handle into many parts just by trying to shut it.  See what remains on the stem? and the bits that cascaded down onto the tap?  there are probably other bits around which I haven't stepped on in bare feet yet.

All this artwork must be strengthening my upper body, dangerously so..or maybe it's mixing batches of bread and stirring big pots of soup. Or holding heavy books..

This is the same shower faucet that I went to all that trouble to fix a while back, taking two tries to get the right size handle.  Back to square one.  But I did have the forethought to save the little box the right faucet came in, with the item number on it. These items all look exactly the same, and it's only when you try to install them that you discover the stem and the socket don't match exactly, but you can't tell by looking, only by failing to get the one to seat in the other, since it's inside the deal.  And if they don't match up, you can't alter the temperature of the water.

So I have another faucet handle on order.  I can easily install it myself. And this is where it becomes a true first world problem, since I can just use my other bathroom until the new handle arrives.  

Meanwhile back at the pots of soup, today's soup is tomato, chickpea and red lentil, with a shake of fennel seeds in it, and a dash of wine sauce left over from herring a while back and frozen awaiting a use.  

Then tomorrow I'm feeding Handsome Son, aside from the soup, with hot biscuits with a dash of caraway seeds in them, crisp breaded baked fish and oven roasted french fries. Posh way of saying fish and chips.  Plum cake for dessert, yes it's still going.  It's like trying to eat a tennis court..

Friday, April 1, 2016

April Flowers, Simple Food, no fooling

White Rabbits!  April Flowers!  the first sprigs of thyme today, the warm weather having put the flavor back in them.

So here's my New Year's Resolution, the last one, which was to get a bunch of cut flowers on the first of the month, just because they're nice to have in the house.  I completely forgot it in Jan and Feb, and did manage a little bunch in mid March.  But today, I was in the, gah, ShopRite, a shop I postpone as long as possible going to,and they had some nice choices at the door.
And home to a very simple lunch, since today was a frenzy of squirrel in the walls eradication attempts, traps, neighbor up and down stairs checking, calls to HOA roofers to fix part of the corner, neighbor planning to get some mesh screening to fix over the inside of my roof fan in case that's an entry, someone swiping my parking tag from my car, different issue, the HOA requiring a raft of new paperwork to get a new parking tag, different issue again, the car dealership calling, another different issue, gah, I have to take it in next week and use a loaner, dreaded thing.  And so on.  

The car, oh yes, after much deliberation I decided I was not up for a car loan this year, and decided to swallow hard and have the expensive brake repairs done.  The car's running like a bird, a shame to turn it in when it's faithfully starting in any weather on the first touch, and generally doing a good job.  So the dealership has got the parts on order, I will take my dear old beater in next week and be without her for two or three days and a weekend. Hence the loaner. There just isn't a time on my calendar when I can be without wheels for that long a time. 

Newer cars are so much more sophisticated than my 99 Civic that when I have to drive one I feel as if I've come back from the eighteenth century, and seeing modern contraptions, what be this button for, then, prithee? mixed language but bear with me, I'm stressed.  This may account for my bah humbug attitude to April Fool jokes today, on finding that Blogger is fooling with my posts and losing them. Let's hope this one survives.

So, one thing and another, lunch was a plate of veggies from the freezer, celery, red bell peppers and watercress, with a pinch of new picked thyme, heavenly first smell of the year, and sharp cheddar grated over.  

In the course of grating it I found that I have three graters, no idea how I came by them all.  One flat, one round and small, one round and big.  I might have a grater giveaway at some point!

Take teapots, too.  I recently noticed I seem to have half a dozen of them. Now I do like my little afternoon tea with a little something to eat, but all those pots. I don't remember how they got there, since I don't collect them, on purpose, that is.  They just seem to be attracted into my orbit.