Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Today's a new day

The week has reshaped itself suddenly. We are apparently in the path of what's left of Ida, with large amounts of rain tomorrow and Thursday, probably meaning flooding, since the waterways are still at capacity from  Henri. Tomorrow and Thursday are my worrying appointments. 

One called to postpone, the chimney dryer/ vent people. Till next week. The other, the routine doctor visit, I thought I'd better postpone because flooding possible. Next appointment December 21! I took it.

The reason the dryer vent appointment, required by township suddenly, and now by HOA, is a worry, is  that the dryer at the condo, the one that took me 18 months to find and install, is nonvented. 

So there's nothing to check the pressure of as in the vented ones. My fear is of a hassle from the HOA if they don't understand it's perfectly safe. 

I'm trying not to trigger a problem by bringing it up ahead of time. But I know what it's like to be defending against the HOA. On another issue where they sprang an impossible demand on me, I got the township to defend me! Which they gallantly did.

And another good thing: Gary Nextdoor says he will come over with me to help smooth it out if necessary. It's almost always easier when there's a man around at times like this. 

Even if there's no man present but you're known to have one in your life. I'm known to be widowed, and low income, it's open season. Much experience of this. And he offered, so that should help. He's a good peacemaker, too.

So, floods bad, help with dryer vent  folk and postponement good.

He's also going to help me lift and divide the compacted iris soon Another good.

Went to the farm for peaches and tomatoes and ran into a friend I haven't seen for many years, on the same mission. Huge good.

 We used to play music together, and our paths separated when she switched to baroque viola, which is different groups and teachers. So good to see JoLin again. It must be well over fifteen years, my caregiving having stopped my social life pretty much. But we knew each other despite masks.

And her low, measured voice still calms me. Such a brave woman, a refugee from the Red Guard in China, starting over with her father and brother, learning English, completely dignified. And defying her cultural norms, staying single by choice.

So seeing her was a gift.

And I thought this was a day for ice cream which I rarely eat, but you know, peaches.

I made chickpea fritter things, eggs, slightly mashed chickpeas, onions, parsley. Enough for tomorrow, too.

I checked Textiles Tuesday,  and the speaker was Joan Berner, with very little to show, no studio images, just chatting. Nice but not too visual. 

She's a weaver and nuno felter. This is felting by wet rolling silk fabric and roving for ages  to create fabric. You make clothing and wall art from nuno, and it's lovely. I added in here  some images from her website to do her more justice. 

She's a retired engineer, and the other serious nuno felter I know was a physicist before switching. There seem to be a lot of science folks in weaving, too. Must be the math.

So this was a much better day. 

Monday, August 30, 2021


One thing and another I haven't blogged today. I know people get a bit concerned on the rare occasions I don't have anything to say,  so I'm just passing through here  

I've developed numb fingers and thumb the ones I use for fine sewing and beading, which is probably the reason. So I'm resting my hands for a couple of days. Tricky to text or write online when you can't feel your fingers touching the keyboard.

And the hot weather came roaring back complete with allergies. Massive coughing and sneezing, , eyes  too bothered to see very well. And I have a constellation of what might be small spider bites which mean I can't wear a bra right now. 

Very sorry for myself. And a couple of anxious appointments coming up this week.

It doesn't seem to take much to get anxious about these days, probably all the bad news and the general anxiety everywhere. Not exciting to write and read about.

However, I did make a little vignette for your viewing pleasure.  Here

So I managed that. 

Sunday, August 29, 2021

Field and Fen takes a walk snd learns a thing or two

Aside from the mud from Henri and the new crop of mosquitoes today was good for walking.

I took a muddy trudge and found lovely sights.

Wildflowers on the first part, where the trees are and the ground's always moist

Jewelweed, supposedly its sap can treat poison ivy, which grows  abundantly right here

Pokeweed, probably good bird food
and, coming back through the streets, roses still with weeks to bloom yet

And next door after a chat with neighbor, all about gardening, I learned about the moringa, here a houseplant but in its native India, a good sized tree, also known as drumstick tree. 

Every part is edible, leaves, bark, pods, seeds source of various vitamins aside from looking nice.
She grew hers from seed, in a pot

So when I got home, I thought I'd see about seeds, looks like a thing I'd like to try and ordered a packet. I'll report further when they get here. 

Then while I was out walking this happened on the deck. 

No idea where the rest of it, or the former occupant, are.

I'm guessing it's a mourning dove egg. Right size, right pure white color. We have mourning doves nesting around and yesterday I saw an adult rushing about pecking up seed from the flowers, maybe because of new young.

I had a couple of cool ideas about the beaded figure, nothing to show yet, still musing. And I did not make dough beads, because I found I was down to the last of the doughballs, and needed it for lunch, with the last of the roasted vegetables. Last peach for dessert.

It all came out evenly. I think I may need more peaches before they're gone.

Saturday, August 28, 2021

Blessed cool

 Temperature in the 70s, cloudy, wonderful.

When you see headlines like this do you feel as if you need a calculator to find out where it came out? 

This is how lawyers who know the backstory write. The rest of us struggle. How many negatives make a positive. What made the chicken cross the road, and was there an injunction in place in the junction?

In the rest of the news, this is all your doing, Ellen, I ordered a used silk sari, half-price in an Etsy sale. Figuring on maybe glam pajamas. Using the pant pattern.

This was after staggering  in sticker shock at fabric prices. Long time since I bought fabric,  clearly. I could get beautiful natural fabric at Dharma Trading, very reasonably, but it's white or natural or black. I fancied a jazzy readymade print.

My other trouser fabric source plan is a big size skirt from the thriftie once I get in there again, already washed so it won't shrink. We'll see what they have.

Meanwhile back at the stove, Handsome Son was visiting today, so we needed snacks.

Black and red plum crumble, with maple syrup in the crumbly bit. 

The top picture includes my lunch, top right, a test run for a new invention.

No idea what to call them, suggestions welcome. Same old dough, now my all-purpose material. Good for tortillas, the original idea, for pasties, for crackers with herbs rolled in, and now Tiny Veggie Pies.

I think I could make beads with this dough. Seriously, I might try it. 

Ages ago I made Tiny Apple Pies using wonton wrappers. So this dough seemed like a candidate for that shape, too. Couldn't find any cutters so I used a wine glass.

Stuffed with the roasted vegetables and hot sausage, sealed with egg white I had in the freezer in case I ever found a use for it, brushed with same. 10 mins at 400°f.

Gone in short order, once introduced to Handsome Son, who declared them potpies and very good. I thought it would be good to have a nonsugar item for once with our tea and dessert .

He changed a lightbulb for me too, one of those high up ones in the bathroom I could climb up to but better not.

And we discussed his current soldering experiments on a diy electronic music thing he's building. Our experience intersected in wire and soldering, mine from long ago, art not electronics. 

He's deep into the kind of from-scratch music player  creating that nobody would pay you to do nowadays.  Which he patiently explains to deli colleagues wondering why he's not working in that industry and earning millions!

Frankie and Grace. I watched the first half of season one, and I think I'm done. Just couldn't go on trying to enjoy it. Too fake, too fifties, too Hollywood Gets With It. But I gave it a fair try. 

I continue to be engrossed in the latest Stacey Abrams, While Justice Sleeps. She's a terrific writer, great suspense, knows her stuff, being both politician and lawyer, both fields starring in this novel of suspense. 

Probably F and G suffered from comparison with Abrams'  excellence. This happens sometimes when you experience an okay work along with a wonderful one. Everyone doing their best. One's a swing and a miss, in its genre,  one's a home run, bases loaded, in its own genre.

Moving along, I'm thinking seriously about those beads. Or miniature teacups and saucers. This musing led me to search for this, made from a similar dough I made, nearly fifty years ago

Small apple included for scale. Made and painted  by six year old Handsome Son. The kitty doesn't need to rest on the saucer, she's balanced to crouch alone. You just slide the saucer under her chin.

The fact that I found it among my most valued jewelry tells you all you need to know! 


Friday, August 27, 2021

Coda: tomato jam, roast vegetables

About the tomato lemon jam, I had some on wholewheat Irish buttered bread for breakfast. The flavor is lovely,  just tangy enough. This recipe is for one fewer cups of sugar, from the other one I used,  and it's good. They're both good. Here's both. You choose.

The supposedly Amish one, probably just a traditional recipe, really, but it was in a book of Amish lore and food, I've used for years. As you see from the stains and the notes.

Here's the one I used yesterday

I would suggest longer boiling though, to get a better consistency. I might even try reboiling some as an experiment. You do boil the tomato pulp a while, but I think it would have been good to boil the whole mixture at least a few more minutes. It's also possible I over did the lemon, since I like it, and introduced too much liquid. I think that can be solved by reboiling. 

In other adventures, I embarked on resticking, with newly purchased scotch tape, the pieces of the trouser pattern (I made one pattern, so I'm an insider now, we say pant and trouser) which I cut yesterday.

And made the discovery which I should have realized, that parchment paper is processed specially to be nonstick, duh. Which is why you use it in baking. Oh. Explains the failing painter's tape yesterday. 

And when I unfolded the pattern to retape with scotch tape, it all fell into its components parts. Since I had labeled it once, only the main bits, there were now several anonymous shapes to puzzle over. I ended up having to get the master sheets out again and reassemble everything using them, then taping both sides of every seam. Hm.

It's fine now. It did make me wonder at my possible eptness or, more likely, ineptness, at my winter plan of jigsaw puzzling, though.

Anyway, that's done. 

And the next adventure, I wonder if Mercury is in retrograde, was to try sharpening my blunt old fiskars using the knife sharpener.

This did not go well. They will now not cut Irish butter. Nor silk, nor paper, nor anything. They just bite the fabric between the blades.

They're definitely safe. Useless, but safe. Even the one inch of sharpness they had before was barely restored by cutting then sanding with a nail file, the only available emery paper.

That's not cutting, scissors, that's gnawing! Martha Stewart uses a special Fiskars Sharpening  Tool, but I don't think I'll invest in a tool to repair my thirty year old scissors which cost about ten dollars new.  They're in the recycle as of now. I have a backup pair which I will leave alone.

Meanwhile here's what I like to cut fabric with, working fine. One small, one big.

And, to show that this morning has not been a total loss, I realized I have the makings of a great waistband for my forthcoming trouser, or pant. Look at that prestitched edge of the sari silk piece. Wheeee!!

Hope springs eternal. It better around here, considering the blunders executed by the resident human.

I'm off for lunch, pita stuffed with roasted vegetables. Onions, broccoli, mushrooms, hot sausage. Heavily seasoned with Old Bay.

Roasted yesterday to make several meals.

Then a fresh farm peach, like yesterday.

And there's a Stacey Abrams to read this afternoon. The day's looking up.

The morning, seems so long ago, started with a quick sortie out front to pull out the dying Montauk daisy plant. 

I have another variety doing fine, but this one was totally brittle and literally fell out of the ground into my hands. One bag of debris to the trees, back indoors to breathe again, it being a trifle warm out there. 

Who says life's short? Today's been about three weeks long, and it's only one o'clock. 

The garden looks better, all the other plants just instantly filled in the space. There's a lesson in there somewhere.

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Late summer, and tomatoes

Now that the roads are dry again, time to do a bit of postponed shopping.  Vital yogurt, scotch tape for paper pattern, and other such urgent needs. 

And, on the way home, braving the heat/ humidity package, a stop at the farm for tomatoes and peaches.

I deliberately didn't get them from Misfits, partly because I like to include local farmers in my budget, partly because there's no peach better than one picked fully ripe this morning a mile away, and in my lunch today.

The last picture explains the yogurt stop. Pinch of baharat on the peach, sprinkle of pure cane sugar on the plain yogurt. 

And Roma plum tomatoes, big this year, needed for a rare extravaganza of tomato lemon jam. It's wonderful, everyone who tastes it wants more, after being amazed at the ingredients. 

However, it's pretty labor intensive.

The tomatoes went through several chapters of my audio book, what with peeling, via boiling water, quartering, deseeding, dicing, boiling. 

The bowl of a dozen large tomatoes, became one bowl of dice for the jam, foreground, and one bowl of skins and seeds and innards for future soup use, background. Nothing at all wasted.

I had prepped and frozen the lemon ages ago, zested it and  saved the zest for other use.

This recipe uses pectin which I don't usually use, but happened to have some.

And my guesswork was spot on. I got exactly three cups of dice, just by pretty much guessing the need at the farm stand. Maybe I should buy a lottery ticket quick.

And here's the lovely result

If I like it, neighbors will get a share. It's great for breakfast, on toast. Or over ice cream. Or, nearer home, over plain yogurt. Or anything really. I expect it would be a good condiment with meat, but that's only a guess.

Meanwhile back at the leftovers in the freezer, the extra rice from the chicken dish, the rest of the canned diced tomatoes, and now a container of tomato innards. 

This looks like a soup is suggesting itself. Also as if it's high time I defrosted the freezer.

I used to have a massive chest freezer back in the day when I also had a massive vegetable garden, and a young son. In July I'd defrost, toss out of the back door, onto the grass, big chunks of ice, and young Handsome Son and the boy next door played summer snowball fights. Loads of fun, just chucking the ice about till it melted.

I don't think he would take me up on that offer now, a little more mature, perhaps. I'm not sure I am though.

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

A day of recovering old skills and finding cool new inventions

 I did sewing stuff today. Altered some favorite pants where the waist had stretched out and I had got smaller since I got them anyway. 

I studied Sonya thinking I'd need to do a complex bit of cutting and stitching. Then I realized I could just turn over the waistband and stitch it, which tightened it just enough and lifted the body part to a better fit. So much easier than expected.

You see why I was puzzling -- it's a waist band with rows of stitched-in elastic you can't just replace.

And you can't just turn it over and stitch, willynilly, because you'd lose the stretch you need to put them on. 

Soooooo I stretched as I stitched and could have used a third hand to do it. That way the fabric relaxed after I stitched, so I can put the pants on without snapping the hemming thread.

Since I always wear a top over the waistband it didn't have to be poifect. And it works lovely. I tried sitting in them, just fine.

I lost a bit of pocket but they were so huge anyway they're still big enough for anything I carry. So this was a good start to the day. 

I've been wanting to do something about them for ages, and finally did. Now I'll wear them again. They were a favorite till they stretched out.

Then on to the Trouser Caper. Sonya's book comes with a packet of patterns in the back cover. 

It's brilliantly designed, and it took me an amazingly long time, so many years since I used patterns other than my own improv ones, to find my way about. 

But eventually I realized how the legs are each two pattern pieces you tape together, two parts fronts and backs, space saving on the master sheet, and managed that. 

Then I tracked down the waistband pattern pieces which were on another sheet with other small pieces. Everything is very well labeled, but there was a certain amount of user error on my part. All fixed eventually.

You trace the patterns even if you own the book because the master sheets are two sided, with skirt and top and shirt and pants sharing space on both sides, plus all their pockets and waistbands.

I used parchment paper, sturdier than tracing paper, taped together. I had technical hitches with the tape. Scotch tape hardly any left, masking tape old and not tearing straight, painter's tape old and so low tack it kept losing its grip. As did the seamstress. Not exactly prepared as well as I thought I was. 

But it's set now, and awaiting better taping with scotch tape which I must buy. Also fabric, I'll need some of that too, I guess.

I also finally remembered the function of the long arrows on the pattern --they show you how the grain of the fabric goes. 

And see this totally great sizing guide. I'm going for medium which is a bit bigger than I am, but will literally leave me room for error. 

My sizing line is dot dot dash. This is Morse code for U.  For uniform! Seems appropriate. All you do is find your size line and follow it. 

And Sonya's a big woman who loves clothes and thinks you should simply make what fits and what you love. She's experienced the misery of her large size being stuck at the back of the store in frumpy colors and styles. So here's where you please yourself. Fun is not reserved for the tiny folk. I love her for this.

There's a whole way of life behind this book, The Act of Sewing, and a great philosophy.

Yay Sonya! And all of us who please ourselves! 

Misfits box arrived today, smaller order than usual until I get caught up with vegetables. This time the flour did arrive, not sugar.

And excellent plums also a treat of maple syrup.

And new insulation material. Delivered in the 90sf and left in the sun on my step, it was perfectly cold inside the box. 

One frozen gel pack, food grade, I opened it and thawed it as usual into the ground outside. Insulation blankets which dissolve in water and can be composted. 

Just frothy water after the blanket dissolved, which I dumped, out back. I kept the plastic coverings to use as bags.

Pretty good day, though I was tired after all the bending and stretching and crawling around in the service of the pattern.

Very glad I can do it, so there's that.