Tuesday, June 20, 2017

DIY, ten minute variety, my fave, and other past capers

Since my front door faces west, the afternoon sun beats on it.  This is why I put up that awning at an angle to the door, outside, to keep the sun out of my living room a bit longer each day.  

I have a door curtain up, varies with season and mood, to draw over the storm door, so when I'm home I can keep the front door open and let light in, without the sun and heat.  A metal door really builds up heat, especially when you close the storm door over it and create a small enclosed solar oven out there.  The reason I don't switch out the storm panel for screening in summer is that I want light and my air conditioning, too.

Anyway, time to switch from the big fleecy blanket which kept the door warm all winter, blocked drafts, and generally did a good job.  I got another three yards of the same stripey canvas as the awning, and whipped up a curtain for inside the door.  I like this a lot. Very cheerful, and does block some heat and a lot of sun.  

Simple construction: floor to ceiling in that hallway is about 7.5 ft, three yards of fabric is 9 feet, big hem at top for hangers, just cut it at floor level at the bottom.  I used clips which slip into shower curtain rings, easy to draw open and closed, and the whole thing literally took about 15 minutes including finding the little step ladder and the clips.  I have a strip of fabric left over, which I might use to make a new sail curtain for the loft, very seasonal, and probably about the right size.

What with making paper right and left, and this latest  diy, it's been a strenuous few days.  When you do stuff like this you don't realize until you've finished that you went up and down stairs or stepladders numerous times in the process, and in the case of making paper, lugged gallons of paper around.  Then you stop, and your body points out that it needs a cup of tea and a nice rest, if you can get around to considering that.

Total cost of this exciting adventure about $15.  From the outside you see the awning and the curtain through the storm door, nice continuation of the stripey nautical effect.  Or maybe garden party.  Maybe I had Royal Ascot on my minds.. 

Speaking of solar ovens, when Handsome Son was much younger, I used to do various experiments and adventures with him, one summer building a simple solar oven.  Just the usual wooden box, lined with tinfoil, glass lid.  And we would cook in it, which thrilled him quite a bit. 

In those days I was still eating meat, so it might be pork chops, or something.  The slow gentle cooking was great, but we quickly found that one of us had to be on guard at all times once the meat started smelling good, since it was a dog magnet.  No fences in that part of town, so we had to fend off various people's dogs who thought we were throwing a nice barbecue for them. 

And speaking of experiments, there were the years when we got ladybug things, forget what they call them, but they are the item the babies hatch from.  And had 63,457 ladybugs flying around wiping out aphids from all over. 

And the praying mantis chrysalis, which delighted both of us. For years after we'd see baby mantises all over the window and door screens, and their descendants, too, tending to business for us.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

The day went differently than planned 6WS

So today I had planned on the farmers' market for salads and eggs and whatever else was good. Then the rain came on when I was on a previous errand, so change of plan.  To local farm stand where I found the last of the strawberry season and the first of the raspberries and peas.

Handsome Son wants to come for dinner tomorrow, so it was a good time to roast the chicken drumsticks, make a batch of curry powder in case I wanted to curry them.  

So I made a new batch of Bill Veach's curry powder Number One.  I just go by the proportions he uses, not the weights, since he's talking ounces and I have no scale anyway.  But it's easy to proportion it using a tablespoon as the three ounce equivalent, and scaling down from there.  I don't want to make as much as he does, so this is fine.

And here it is looking like a gravel pit, but very much more fragrant, wonderful, in fact, reminds you why it's good to cook. 

I tried grinding everything together this time, so see if the cinnamon would work better like this, which it did.  You're supposed to grind the grindables ahead then stir them together with the powders.  But I found that the flavors came out very well with grinding.  A few seeds didn't grind down, so I just spooned them out and worked on them with a pestle and mortar.

Duncan, the natural born supervisor, had been just fine, very cool, while he watched me measure, but once I started grinding, and opened the grinder, the smell was wonderful, but not to him.  He reared back and gave me a look of total betrayal.  You're trying to POISON me!

If you haven't tried making your own curry powder, do.  It's fun, and it uses up all those spices you bought one time and really need to try..there are at least ten spices in this mix.

But, curry powder made and stored, since we have the first of the peas in, it might be better to have the roast chicken, with fresh peas and mash. Summer type fare.

And since I had the last of the strawberries here, why not make a nice strawberry sauce and some shortcake to go with it.  This is how you get enmeshed in all kinds of cooking activity if you don't look out. The little bowl is the smaller in a set of lovely old McCoy bowls which are designed to look like ears of corn. Had them since HS was a baby, so he will probably like this touch.

So after chicken was roasted and taken out to cool, oven temp pushed up a bit for the shortcake.  This was just my same old hot biscuit recipe with a bit of sugar added, and a bit less flour, to make it softer.   The smell of the strawberries, with a pinch of fresh lavender in, whoa.  Little sprinkle of cornstarch.  The sauce will be spooned over the shortcake.  The cook tried it this afternoon and pronounced it good.

None of this was planned for today, in fact I was supposed to be excavating in the freezer for last year's iris leaves, with a view to making paper.  I did eventually get to that, but that's for Beautiful Metaphor, see here

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Lavender and books, cooking and other food for thought

More books showed up in my world, this one being impossible to resist

I read it right there at the library, thereby probably proving its title.  Found that as compulsiveness goes, I'm about as bad or good as other people who make art.  But not as neurotic as some.  

One of my art teachers used to warn students that if you are serious about art, you are most probably compulsive, since art takes such effort and focus and energy.  So steer clear of substances when you're not making art.  He said there's a reason a lot of artists are users.  

My compulsions fortunately apply only to making things and using tools.  And Twitter, but that's a recent development.  Anyway, this book is worth a look, but does tend to pile up the anecdotes, possibly to fill more pages, or am I just being cynical..

Then cookbooks, I always check out ones that teach you 1,000 ways to cook chicken, 367 ways to deal with an egg, and so on, just to see what they're actually doing.  And the Five Ingredients one is a bit of a swizz.  They don't create a meal, which for me is more than just the main course (and those look pretty sparse to me, in the pix, too), but I did get a great recipe for fettucine alfredo from it, and recommend it.

Instead of just dressing the cooked fettucine with the butter and parmigian, you take a scoop of pasta water before draining the pasta, simmer it with the butter and cheese, then add in the drained pasta, finally a bit more cheese and butter on top.  It's really good. Also as simple as he promised.

The Austen one was meant as kind of beach reading, and I have to admit, reader, I failed at it.  Just couldn't keep reading.  One of those books that are fun for a while, but don't kind of get anywhere.  I couldn't help wondering if the writer just wanted to be writing, rather than wanting to be writing something specific. 

But there are loads of people without my cranky nature who might really like this, fairly light, fairly literate, reading, so I would say take a look.  I had thought I'd like it as summer stuff that didn't take great mental energy.  But I realized as I went along, that really good writing, Lively, Pym, Wesley, creates the energy that you need to read it and enter their world.  

It's actually harder work to get through this sort of book than theirs.  Middlemarch just picks you up and sweeps you before it.  Which brings us to Joyce...Ulysses, to be exact, which swept me before it about two thirds of the way, then I sort of fell off at the curve in the road.

Then I was doing the Harvesting of the Lavender.  

Some of it anyway, needing to keep some out there blooming because my neighbors love it.  I had planned on making one of those woven wands, but ended up deciding it wasn't for me -- lavender is not very pleasant  to handle,not exactly oily, but a kind of blunt feeling -- so I just made a spray 

and hung it in the downstairs bathroom.  

It's being guarded by a doll I made and a little wooden man from 50s England.  And observed by a little ceramic turtle, gift from Handsome Son when he was about four, shopping with Handsome Partner.

The other thing I realized about trying to make a wand is that I don't like manhandling plant material.  I felt like a bit of a brute, bending stems and starting to weave.  Same way I feel about terraria, too, something supremacist about making plants do what I want.    Not entirely rational, I agree. 

But I have such a fellow feeling for plant life that it just feels wrong.  Not even fond of cutting flowers, I mean the act of doing it, but that may be early childhood conditioning. I remember my Mom who wasn't a fan of cut flowers, quoting George Bernard Shaw saying he liked children but not with their heads cut off, same with flowers!  But I have broken through this taboo with my monthly flowers in the house.   I do prune plants, because it's actually good for them, and in the wild, wind and weather would do it anyway. Same with cutting herbs, which encourages them.


Sunday, June 11, 2017

Shortbread and welcome blankets

Sudden need for shortbread, today, and since it's hot and the ac is on it's not too wild to bake.  So after studying my Big Australian Baking Book, and Martha Stewart's Cookies, and noting the lengths both go to to make a simple project into an olympic feat, I fell back on the old simple Sunset book.  Same results, basically, with many fewer fiddly steps.  I added some lemon zest into the mix, like that subtle taste.

So the beloved castiron baking pan came into play, and afternoon tea included a couple of squares of shortbread, plain, unpretentious. Next time Handsome Son shows up for a cup of tea, there will be a little something for him to go with it. He loves shortbread.  Well, he dives into any food I offer him, but some items he likes more than others.

And my blanket project, knitting sections for Warm Up America, has now been swept into the successor to the Pussyhat Project, the Welcome Blanket project to be exhibited then donated to incoming refugees, as a token of welcome and warmth.  Some knitters are getting into this with significant icons and colors, and I'm mainly knitting my stash.  

There will be a pocket containing a note of welcome, though.  And I'm using acrylic, so as not to add to the burden of people coming through such an ordeal.  Acrylic washes easily, no worries.  No hand washing, nor blocking. So I refrained from using my handspun.

I knitted one section today, and I think I can do one a day without busting up my hands.  They're hoping to start receiving in July, blankets, not people, that is.  I'm heartened by the number of refugees who have been quietly welcomed throughout all the blustering of politicians trying to stop them, and would like to add my bit. I will be doing my own joining up, though, not just sending a stack of sections.

And I got a reward this afternoon, when I looked up and saw a hummingbird browsing busily among the lantana, flying between the stems, backwards, too.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Farmers' market, classical music, perfect together 6WS

The Perfect Together slogan is a long running tourist meme for NJ, and tends to crop up..

Anyway, today, perfect weather for the farmers' market, though I didn't need much, ended up with apples and salad greens, 

because I brought my own bags, was given an extra apple.

And there were the usual huge array of food, veggies, plants, herbs, the local food bank collection (they take either fresh produce or money to buy it with).  

And today, best of all, the local high school string ensemble, playing a great selection from Mozart to ragtime.  Not easy to play a stringed instrument in warm weather with humidity.  Keeping the tuning is a challenge. But they did a great job.  Two first violins, several second violins, two violas, two cellos.  Not easy to get pix of them without a phalanx of devoted parents getting into the frame as they did the same.

So I had a free concert thrown in to the morning's planning.

Then the library, and home for a plein air adventure, which I tell about here

Friday, June 9, 2017

Plant identification by scent

Since my patio and the area out front is fully populated, mostly groundcover with all kinds of herbs and other plants in there when they can make it, but rarely a weed, I occasionally spot something I need to pinch and sniff to identify.

Here's peppermint!  very happy to have it. I have tons of spearmint the same flavor as toothpaste, but peppermint is the one you want for mint sauce and other interesting things.  

And here was a surprise, nearly pulled it for a weed until I stopped and checked, and found it was a rose geranium.  This is a mystery, since it's years since I had one in a pot, which vanished over winter, and this one was growing happily in the ground.  But the scent is unmistakeable, and makes you want Turkish delight, often flavored with it.

The Thai basil, tiny little plants, did survive the repeated squirrel attacks, and a pinch and sniff gives you the characteristic licorice sort of flavor.  They're the tiny heart shaped leaves, and I hope they grow a whole lot bigger, since I have plans for them. I saved these seeds from last year's plant, so we'll see how well they do.

No need to name this one.  This lavender is in its third year of absolutely no care, in a pot, just occasional douse with water, and it seems happy.  I often think the secret to growing plants is to leave them alone, not be at them, pruning and pushing and nagging.  And since I'm a pretty lazy gardener, that's not hard for me.  I have neighbors who are much more industrious, and I think their plants die of exhaustion.

Gardening by scent, really satisfying. Dogs must go mad in gardens. Now I'm off to make a pot of tea, haul the pillow out to the patio chair and sit in the sun to read my Hiromi Kawakame.  

I read The Briefcase recently, and it was wonderful.  Great translation, I expect, since it seemed to flow so well.  And I'm starting another, Manazuru, named for a coastal location the protagonist visits.

Are there any Kawakame fans in our blogworld? 

Astute readers may have noticed my radio silence on the subject of Ulysses this year. I may have reached my limit, having got about three quarters there.  Possibly when Bloomsday gets here, I may reconsider.  Or not.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

The Labyrinth, after a long hiatus

Since I had art business not far from the labyrinth, it seemed like a good idea to make a visit, first for a long time.

And I found it under renovation!  no escape from reno.  All the old shrubs gone, wood trim around the edges, prayer flags gone.  I expect it will be fine, and Buddha, serenely sitting in a different corner, seems to have little concern. 

Always on the walk, I get an answer to some concern I brought in with me, in the form of an object that I find on the path.  Today it was an empty cicada shell, perfect, complete, discarded because the owner outgrew it.  

So I carried it to the middle and set it there on a rock, as my offering for today.  Many messages in that cicada shell, which I'll leave you to decode, since they might be different for you, and I don't want to impose my responses on yours. 

And on the way out, joyful old fashioned roses, smelling the way roses should


Monday, June 5, 2017

Lively, bluejay and Marigold goes under cover

A while since I did a book review, though I've been reading all along.  I don't review books I didn't get much out of, or that I really didn't like, not fair, just my opinion.  But when one seems really worth the energy, I do.  

And, it's Monday, not that Marigold is particularly concerned about that, more that it's rainy and she was disturbed by my insisting on a picture. But readers who had to go back to work might enjoy a suggestion of a book to check out.

So here's the current choice:  latest collection of short stories from Penelope Lively.  
It's a bit uneven, but has a lot of layers and levels and is definitely worth reading.  She likes to slide between real and surreal, points in history, points of view.  Her writing is a kind of rollercoaster of technique, and very engrossing.  You always feel she's pulling your leg a bit, and is really onto you.

One odd choice: usually the title is from the strongest story, and it's put at the end of the book.  Probably to keep people reading.  In this instance it is the strongest story, but it leads off the collection, which, to me, tails off a bit after that.  I think Lively really is better at following a thread or ten throughout the whole novel form, rather than encapsulating them as in the short story.    But read it, and let us know what you think.

Aside from a lot of other things going on, some too soon to write about in the art side of life, I've been observing the feeder, kept supplied with suet put together in Minnesota and NJ birds seem to think this is the best thing ever.  The feeder is mobbed and I get to observe a lot of interesting and some comic avian capers.

There are about three or more bluejays feeding regularly.  One has got the hang of clinging to the side of the feeder, one is dedicated to standing on top of it, even when the food is so far down he can hardly reach.  And the third, my favorite, tries to hover under the feeder and snatch food which he eats on the deck.  You get to know birds as individuals if you observe them enough.

Here's a pic of him trying to flutter up to the bottom of the feeder.  He's a bit off course, feeder being over there on the left, in front of the lantana on the fence. Which attracted the first hummingbird of the season a couple of days ago.  Just a flash of a sighting.

Then there was a standoff between a female cardinal and the red bellied woodpecker, neither conceding until they feed at the same time before flying away at the exact same moment.  And a real fail from a male house sparrow going beak to beak with a little downy woodpecker.  Sparrow had no hope of holding on, eating, and fighting all at once, against the downy, small, but with that tail that enables them to hang on to trees.  Sparrow eventually basically fell off, chuntered and stomped around the deck, catching the crumbs that the downy dropped.

But it's not all birding.  Cooking is happening, too, since I got back the gumption to do a big shop, vegetables and tofu and parmigiano, and all kinds of good things.

So today, I roasted vegetables.  Sweet potatoes, white potatoes, carrots, squares of firm tofu, all tossed in olive oil, mustard seeds, fresh ground pepper, kosher salt, turmeric, home ground curry powder (from Bill Veach, let me know if you want the directions). Then roasted at 425F for thirty minutes, sort of stirred about a bit, then another 25 minutes and all was done.  And very good.  You can make a whole meal from this mixture.  Which I did.  And three more meals to come.  Probably next time Handsome Son gets here for a dinner, he'll get some of this.  Maybe with sausage or chicken or something.

Here's the before:

and the after:

As you see, they shrink a little, but everything was just right.  A bit crisp and spicy on the outside, tender on the inside.  Highly recommended on a day when you can tolerate a hot oven.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Finally food in my life again

Been a while, but now I'm up to cooking, baking, eating and generally having a food involved life.  And walking my full walk, yay.

Simple is best for my taste.  

Here, yogurt cheese (just yogurt strained, the solids make a wonderful cheese, like cream cheese but tangy, and the whey is saved for soup) mixed with fresh cut chives.  Great combo. 

And the dinner rolls can be split and yogurt cheese spread inside.  Wonderful snack.  The rolls are just from the regular bread recipe, just pull off roll size dough pieces, handle them a bit to get the shape, sticky work even with floured hands, then bake in hot oven.  I took a guess and did them at 450 F for 20 minutes, and they're fine.  Mostly whole wheat with about one third or less unbleached white. Then I baked the rest of the recipe as one big loaf, to slice and freeze.

The planting out front is now DONE.  Massive labor to get the dead pachysandra mainly out.  The trouble was that there was a big live root base under ground, and nothing on top to pull.  So I ended up using a small saw, sawing in squares , through the roots, then peeling it back.  Like cutting turf, but harder work.  I tossed some of the turfs behind shrubs where they can regrow and not be seen looking unsightly, and now have better earth to work with. I'll be able to replant daffodils around this area in fall, my old river of daffodils having been crushed to oblivion during the reno work.

It doesn't look glam at the moment, but once the plants take hold and get used to their homes, it will fill out, some pachysandra will return, try and stop it, and it will look very good.  That daylily you see, moved from the back patio where it was being crowded, will expand to use all that open space you see around her.

After my unsuccessful trip to the nursery for perennials, I decided to shop in the garden instead.  Transplanted some purple and white heirloom iris that needed to be moved, and some daylilies.  With a small chrysanthemum and K's daisies, it will look just fine in a while.  The daisies are back there, left of the Russian sage, which survived handily. And it no longer looks like some alien creature stomped about.

My neighbor keeps wanting to help, not realizing that the labor of gardening is what makes it fun. I love that I can dig and haul and toss and plant for myself.  At his garden, I just point and suggest, at his invitation, and he digs and hauls and so on.  But in mine I like to be the laborer. 

And in the course of gardening, you come across some wonderful natural designs like this one, snail shell on the old wood bench.


Friday, June 2, 2017

Nursery hopes, then reality

Went to the nursery for a single perennial, now that I have a bit of room to plant one, where the contractors killed a lot of ground cover.  And had a lovely time in the sunshine with the dusky swallowtail butterflies, and the resident calico cat playing in a box.

Everything seemed to be annuals, though.  So after admiring a lot of things like this

 and this

I settled on this

and a trip to the library having yielded a Donna Leon I hadn't read, this seemed fine anyway.   Rosemary, tarragon and nasturtiums. 

A lot of art emerges after trips like this, where you don't have an art related goal, but let images just flow in.

Speaking of which, I made a bonehead mistake the other day with that little purple flower.  I had a brain freeze on sansevieria because of looking up snake plant which is sansevieria.  Of course the little purple flower isn't.  It's tradescantia virginiana, aka spiderwort.  Great apologies to the Tradescants, father and son, plantsmen several centuries ago with exciting lives finding and identifying botanical specimens in some very hazardous places. 

I do realize that this correction is like that joke in Christie's A Murder is Announced, where the learned parson says to the tiny congregation of tired old ladies: I expect you thought this was about Artaxerxes the First!  Well, you're wrong!  it's about  Artaxerxes the Second!  I probably got this a bit wrong, too, but you do see.  Only an obsessive could notice and bother about this sort of thing, but that's me.  And to prove it, go here for more info about John Tradescant and his exciting life.  These guys got around.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

White Rabbits, June 1, 2017 on the patio

Rain overnight, then sun this morning, so the patio is decorated in diamonds for the first of June.

This in turn triggered a quick drawing in the little journal early this morning

And reminds me that I made some new priority decisions this week.  Readers who follow the EGA guild blog I've been writing for several years are alerted that I have stepped down from doing it.  I've loved doing it, but really my priorities need to be adjusted, since art is needing more and more of my life, more exhibiting, teaching, sales.  So something has to give.  However, anyone who would like to give the guild blog a try is welcome.  I'll sit with any local person who wants to do it, and you'll see it's not as techie as it seems!

But I've been thinking about reshaping my life for a while now. I finished up my commitments to leadership in the embroiderers' guild, and to the Artist in Residence at the library.  And now I have breathing room for other things.  Which may include sitting on the patio and reading and stitching!  but also include a lot of new adventures in art for which you have to have a clear mental and emotional desk.

A commitment to art is a commitment to studio time, not to keep on letting it be cut short in order to attend to other activity. Art doesn't happen in the bits of time between other events. So I owe it to the rest of my life, however long or short, as the Queen said a long time ago...well, being a Royal, she said "shote" but never mind.

But I will not be gone completely, despite some panic stricken notes and texts from stitching friends!  not moving away, no ominous medical situation, none of that. Just ready for the next stage. And this blog will continue happily.  Also my Beautiful Metaphor blog about my art and process.


Saturday, May 27, 2017

Dinner with Handsome Son Returns, after Hiatus

Between my being under the weather, and Handsome Son's work hours being unaccommodating, it's been weeks since we had a meal together.  So Friday we resumed, and it went over well.

Chicken drumsticks, roasted with thyme, then layered with baby bella mushrooms, sauteed in olive oil and butter, garlic salt and red wine, and a can, sorry, it's the season, no fresh tomatoes yet, of unsalted diced tomatoes.  All layered together,  medium oven.  Brown jasmine rice, cooked with crushed walnuts and golden raisins.  This was a pretty easy meal in some ways and went down well.  Glass of the same red wine used in the mushrooms, nice Italian.  Banana bread with crushed walnuts (noting a theme here?) and big pot of tea. And it leaves enough for a couple of meals for me over the weekend.  

So dinner was good, and after HS had been forced to tour all the new windows, admiring them at length, very patiently, he picked out some of my glass collection for himself.  When I had to reorganize before the windows were done, I put away all my glass collection for safety, and decided after weeks of not seeing it, that I probably only needed to hold onto a few pieces.  So Handsome Son was very happy to take away several nice pieces for his own use.  

This leaves a few I can take to the thriftie on my next trip there.  HS always gets first refusal on anything I find at the thriftie, or anything I'm planning to take there.  He's very good about selecting only what he wants, resisting the collecting temptation pretty well.  Partly this is because his condo is small and fills up easily! 

All my neighbors are resigned to having a tour of the windows if they stop in.  I think I may need to curb my enthusiasm a bit..
More strawberries today, and I got half a dozen nice basil starts, which are now potted up on the patio.  I need rosemary then I'm set.  Other herbs came through the winter fine, oregano, mints, sage, Thai basil, if the squirrel's rampage hasn't stopped it in its tracks.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Windows, Finally Done for This Lifetime

Positively the Last Big Thing I'm doing for this house.  Windows are now done, curtains reorganized and working nicely.  Contractor neighbor who installed the rods for me now decided to get a new patio door at his own house across the street, very impressed with mine.

Footnote to this bedroom pic: the two plants you see on stools I started from scratch. One from a single leaf from a bigger begonia, took ages to start, and is now pretty impressive.  The one on the right I started from a single leaf of snake plant, one of the many sansevierias, which I cut up and rooted in sections.  

Did you know the sections of this plant know their north-south orientation?  unless you plant the sections of the leaf in the same direction of their original growth, they will not root.  So I had to be careful to keep them organized when I cut up the leaf.  And all of the parts rooted. Several years' growth there, very slow plant.  I never bother with rooting hormone, just shove them into potting soil and leave them alone.  That usually works fine.

So all is done and I can just stop thinking about the fabric of the house and get on to more interesting stuff. In fact I do love my surroundings, and would far rather be there than anywhere, drag myself out when I need to be with friends, enjoy their company a lot, glad to get home again!

The only little drawback to the new windows is that the glass is so clean that I've had a few bird collisions with it, against the patio door. It's huge, and they see the plants inside, including the ficus tree, and I guess plan on flying into it to perch, then discover the glass.  Up to now no fatalities, just annoyed birds.  

Once in a while I get a redtail hawk colliding, thinking she can fly right through, if the front door is open.  Looks to a bird like a passage between trees.  Redtails are so powerful that when that happens it's like a minor explosion, bird unharmed, flies away pretending it never happened.

So you will be pleased to know that the Saga of the Windows is now complete.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Suddenly, roses

Suddenly I noticed that the climbing roses are out.  And what's left of the iris on the patio after the renovation. 

Foreground is the wildflower, not yet out, sansevieria virginiana, little three-petalled purple flower.  Planted herself last year, and recovered after the winter. I expect she has a common name, but I don't know it.  Hence the fancy Latin!

In front of the house needs some work.  Neighbor promised to help yank out the dead pachysandra, paths worn by contractors, and heavy stuff being left on it.  But on the good side, I can plant something else there instead.  Thinking about a couple of decorative grasses, maybe.  Maybe finally a peony, but I think that's for Fall planting and I'm impatient to put something in.  Trip to the nursery has to happen.  Once my energy finally returns, that is.  Still getting there.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Windows Upload, no, the real kind. And Strawberries Are In!

This week, what with recovering from the flu, took ages longer than it spozed to, and the endless drama out of Washington, stress nobody needs, suddenly the window installers showed up at the door on Monday.  Could I get my installation done next day?

After having to bring endless pressure just to get them to respond for the last three months, I was not about to send them away.  And I'd cancelled my housecleaners anyway for next day, not up to going out for a couple of hours. Urgent text to son to come over and help move stuff away from windows in every room, take down curtains, and various things I didn't have the strength to do.  Which he did, cheerfully, good guy.

So after a couple of days of intense noise, stress, much shouting in Russian, good thing I don't speak Russian, at least any of the terms the crew was using, all the windows are now replaced. Beautiful new ones,  many times better than their predecessors, great insulation value, both weather and sound.  Now paid for.  Done. All worked lovely.  Bp now reducing nicely.

 Old windows waiting to leave

 Spencer prepping the empty space while I keep an eye on cats

 Upstairs, new window in place

 And here the big one, the eight foot, 600 lb patio door replacement, in progress, no sound effects added here

 Bedroom window, same width as patio door, lovely framing of tree

Here, Marigold feigns total oblivion.  We Burmese are Royal, We Do Not Fuss When Our House Is Under Siege.  We took a brief trip out of doors, but it was too noisy and hot and We came back in. 
Duncan not so lucky, ran to hide under my bedclothes when the crew came up to the bedroom window, got trapped there, daren't come out and exit.
Excellent crew, total focus on work, really good craftsmanship.  Expensive but worth it. The value of my house now considerably better than three days ago.  And the neighbors, having hung back until I got through it, so brave, are interested in maybe doing likewise while the contractors are around working on the renovations.   Especially when they saw the pristine state of affairs with the installation complete.

Then today, caught up on vital errands, stamps, lantana for hummingbirds, wine, I saw the sign up at the farm: Strawberries!

 Scoop of yogurt. Perfect.  Happy camper here now.