Saturday, July 31, 2021

HOAs, ups and downs

It occurred to me after reading Ellen's comment, which I really appreciated, that since all you ever hear from me about the HOA is whining, that I perhaps should right the balance a bit. 

The idea is that everything inside the property including inside the back gate to the patio, is personally owned. As long as I don't affect the whole building structure, I can do what I want.

Here's my back way, gate open to welcome you, part of the deck missing because of the fence work. It's going to be put back when they finish

Left is Aditha's corn, growing how huge, right is the fence between my house and Gary's. The front on the left, is the section I cleaned up yesterday, right of the gate some of what's still to do. Same inside the fence. They need one foot clear on both sides of the fence to install the new one.

Patios have all kinds of things, sofa swing things, dog runs, gardens, trees, toolsheds, whatever pleases the owners and doesn't go against townships zoning. You can't erect a tiny house for living in. Anywhere in town, in fact.  That sort of thing.

As long as I don't remove a load bearing wall indoors, I can renovate, overhaul, anything I can afford. Same as in a single family home.

Which brings us to cost. A townhouse, with joint responsibility for exterior maintenance, roofs, snow removal, grass cutting, garbage, parking lot upkeep, fence replacement, etc,is the only way I can live alone independently.  

An old single woman on a very modest income could never afford even a small single family place and hire all the help she'd need for exterior upkeep. Let alone replacing the roof and siding.

We had a total renovation a few years ago, completely rebuilt roofs, wood siding replaced. My own cost was only a few thousand dollars over the normal monthly dues.  

So now the wood fences, largely rotted and chewed by squirrels, have had their day. So they're all being replaced in one giant operation.

Here are some views of the fences, some with a lot of foliage to deal with

As you see, a lovely place to look out on in all weathers. A bit hot right now.

An upside of this situation, probably unknown to my neighbors, is that this is the only way you can have a fence on your property line. Aside from this situation, fences in town must be four feet inside the property line. I know this from many years of owning a property on an acre and wanting a fence. Noooo. 

This bylaw, passed many years ago, had the effect the township governance wanted, of banning fences without saying so. Because nobody would willingly part with that much territory by fencing within it. It's assumed that fences delineate property lines and you'd be functionally donating  big slices of land to your surrounding neighbors. Anyway back from this enthralling tangent.

Alone, I could never afford snow removal, garbage pickup, grass cutting, pruning, exterior painting, all that.  That's beyond luxury. 

So I get to live in a nice community of good neighbors at a price I can afford. At about one third the cost of renting. Admittedly every development is not friendly, but that's true of any neighborhood. This one, because of the handy third floor finished room with a skylight has attracted a lot of artists, and self employed people, generally kindred spirits. More expensive developments, not so much.

Nowadays there are more children, largely Indian parents attracted by housing they can afford, while helping family in India, in the best school district in the state. 

About 65% of our exorbitant real estate taxes, we're number one in the US on this tax level, yay us!  go to the school district. I remind myself of that when the township direct debits most of what's in the bank, as it will next week, quarter's up. But that's a town wide complaint, the taxes. And I don't mind financing education.

Anyway, there are upsides as well as downsides, and badmouthing the board is a neighborhood pleasure!  I do make a point also of letting them know when I'm happy with something they've done. It's a refreshing change for them.

I'll get on to more interesting themes after this. You'll be glad to know, after politely patting a yawn over this post..

Friday, July 30, 2021

Misfits box and Friday salad, fence saga

Did I mention we had a massive storm last night, tornado warnings, very local, massive rainfall, most roads closed around here with water everywhere and trees down, local police rescuing stuck cars. 

It was pretty hair raising for a couple of hours. We do occasionally get tornadoes, one tore the side of a neighbor's brick house off, a few years ago, but we don't get them often enough to be experienced. 

So I was surprised when the Misfits box showed up early. I thought the road closings would hold them up but nooo. 

So here we are

Taking full advantage of the summer fruit season.Couple of hiccups. My flour wasn't packed but a mysterious bag of sugar was.

Misfits refunded the missing flour in about an hour from my email explaining. They're very good at this, cheerful, fast, and it's not anything big, after all. 

I came out with a windfall of sugar, and I can manage for now without the flour. I'm more pleased over the number of things they get right, really, than the occasional mia item  which I told them.

And here's my Friday evening salad, tomato from next door, Misfits romaine lettuce, celery, same dressing as yesterday, with capers.

And an email about the saga of the fencing. A second site manager left in a rush last week, and now the regional manager is running things. So far Fence 2, site mgt 0.

Email Friday afternoon, to say fence work starts Monday. Lot of notice, no? Complete with demands for stuff to be done or else. At this point all the foliage and shrubs I cut back at great labor have all grown up again and it's all to do again, sigh.

So I decided to do a bit a day, it being heavy hot work I'm not quite up to. And I actually managed to pull and cut one section of pachysandra and foliage from one section of fence.

Then I bumped into Gary returning a spade to my storage place where I keep the neighborhood gardening tools. They're mine but anyone can borrow, and frequently do.

He didn't know about the fence update, but when I explained, well, whined,  said nah I'm going to take care of that foliage, free next week. Asked if he has a weedwacker, he remembered he does, somewhere. So that will simplify matters a lot. And I feel a lot less stressed.  We'll get this. 

It might actually be fun weed whacking the overgrown pachysandra. He's worried about killing it, and I assured him it will be be encouraged, not  wiped out.

Always something. If it's not the weather it's the HOA, which acts like a force of nature at times.

In nets of golden wyres

As I worked on the doll hair yesterday I got an earworm phrase. This is often how art titles come, and whole art concepts with them.

The phrase was "in nets of golden wyres", a canzonet duet by Elizabethan composer, musician, Thomas Morley, a great favorite when I played recorder. There's a series of these canzonets, which just means little songs. Likewise Michael East trios, another favorite song series to play..

As you notice, I haven't named the dolls as if they were people. That's because I mean them as art statements, in a series. But I was still waiting for them to tell me their statements, and to get the idea of the series.

And here they are, after I rummaged through my sheet music

You see the idea of the current doll there, the golden wires meaning her curly hair, which the narrator fell for, it's a love song.

And White as Lillies is the East phrase for the first doll. This doesn't mean I'll search for titles then make a doll that fits, but rather I'll make the doll then the phrase will come. Leap and the net will appear. My lifelong approach, hasn't failed me yet. 

If this thinking is all Greek to you, don't worry, just let it flow over you! I wonder what a Greek would say? If this is all English to you etc?

Meanwhile, back in the workshop, here's the narrative

Cotton roving, which I hope to learn to spin with my supported spindle, now waiting in the wings. It's soft as swansdown, lovely to handle, and I have plenty, so I can use it here to stuff Wyres.

Meanwhile, she has a body, downtime before I make limbs for her, and food is happening. 

Misfits box arrives later today, and I'm using the last of the sweet potatoes. 

Note the recycled bag marked stock. And the little heap of trimmings. I'm going to make vegetable stock from the trimmings from now on for a while. 

The trimmings I've been chucking out back have turned into fertile soil already, hence the sudden appearance of the squash plant, or melon, whichever, and the enormous growth of what was a tiny blackberry plant from out front.

So I will also do this:

Save up trimmings in the freezer, create stock eventually, toss the strained residue out back. Thank you, Leigh, blogger of 5 Acres & a Dream, for reminding me of this possibility.  Still nothing wasted. 

Go read her blog, it's lovely. You don't have to be a smallholder with crops and animals, living self sufficiently, eating what you grow, to enjoy her narrating the life of a couple who do all that.

And today's lunch is roasted sweet potatoes, in olive oil, Old Bay, currently my go-to, seasalt, and a chicken thigh, buttered and rolled in panko. 

I didn't pound this one thin, just left it rolled.

Next,  to empty the sink ready to wash fruit and veggies when the box arrives, and sort out strainers and colanders and cloths for inevitable water splashes.

It's all go!

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Easy food, tricky art

So yesterday I made a dead simple dinner, what a white gloved English lady would peer at through her lorgnette and exclaim ah yes, sossidge 'n chips!

And very good, too. Sweet Italian sausage, yellow potatoes. I took my gloves off to dine.

Earlier, lunch was true gourmet food, a salad of fresh picked tomatoes and cucumber from next door. 

I don't like cucumber much, but this was so crisp, and the tomatoes so ripe, that with a dressing of malt vinegar, Dijon mustard, seasalt, it needed only an enthusiastic luncher, which I was.

Just as well I had all this good sustenance, because the current doll art is a bit complex.

About the hair. This is purl thread, known to goldwork stitchers. It's a fine wire curled into a tight spring. You can cut it and thread for stitching down, among other things, including couching.

This particular one was too fine to thread through, also I wanted to draw it up to stick out, so you don't want threads running through it. What I did do was the patience-demanding stitching down at intervals, leaving the ends free to pull.

Here's more about purl thread

Anyway those are the conventional ways of using it. I've done those in serious goldwork. But this is not serious! 

I've done it with real gold, not to be trifled with, but here I'm working with a cheap and cheerful version from an Indian market, brought back by a friend. Thank you, Girija! 

Anyway, thrills and spills, what with her not liking the first face and demanding a makeover, and the pesky purl  thread attaching itself to itself and causing no end of language in the workshop.

Here's a pictorial account

A definite air of triumph there.  Doll 1, Boud 0.


Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Textiles and Tea, Julie Kornblum

She's a lovely person, full of energy, great basketmaker, specializing in coil techniques, and weaver. She's also serious about social justice, using discarded plastic as a political and artistic statement in her weaving and coiling. 

Aside from her nationally known art activities, she writes grants for good causes, homeless programs, domestic violence prevention, the environment. She's a good egg! And a load of fun to be around.

She embraces the math of weaving, the science of recycling, doesn't introduce needless barriers between them and art, and you just want to make coil work after seeing her enthusiasm at work.

Behind her, two pieces about the gyres, those enormous whirlpools of plastic waste floating in the ocean. And she holds up a coiled artwork, waving it about in her excitement which accounts for the blur!

And her weaving

Left, the design for the weaving, colors painted, right the weaving, plastic bag yarn, plarn,weft.

More wonderful works about recycling, making beauty out of waste. And here's her sense of humor, turning a child's set of toy cookie cutters into a basket for her daughter's kitchen. The base is a lid from a bucket that pool people use. Where she lives in California, they're everywhere.

I love her attitude of no secrets, anything she knows she'll teach and share. This is true of real artists. They know you can't really steal ideas, because they always have the stamp of the maker, so there's nothing to be defensive about. And they encourage everyone to try their hand.

Go and look at her work on her website. She also sews, knits, crochets, everything textile. She knows about ancient crafts such as naalbinding, how far back the history of textiles goes, the whole context. 

This HGA, Handweavers Guild of America, series of Tea and Textiles is such a gift. I forgot to mention that the first question the interviewer puts is: what's your favorite tea? Then, the serious part of the discussion addressed, they go on to the art.

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Doll two is emerging

Different color fabric, another sock but duskier color

Much smaller, a circle rather than the whole toe. Surprisingly different feeling from this one.

I gathered up the circle with running stitches, then ran another thread through the gathers. Just so it doesn't burst open at some critical point.

Drew in the features, with the gathers at the back of the head where the hair will cover them. The pen ink is the kind which vanishes on handling or the application of heat. 

And started to sculpt. I tried some new thoughts here, more complicated than the relatively simple shaping of the first doll.

She has a better profile, more defined mouth, generally different expression.

So there we are for today, for now anyway. I'm liking the shaping process and will get better as I go.

I already have a dress fabric picked out for her. It's a piece of polyester I dyed and embroidered and exhibited years ago as a stretched piece in a solo show. It's ready for a new life.

Aren't we all!