Thursday, May 31, 2018

If I Were A Drinking Woman...

I'd have bought a bottle of this spiced rum today at Meijer.  It's sea monster rum!  Kraken rum.  Do you think it's made with real sea monsters?  Nah.  I just love labels on beer and wine bottles.  I love how so many of them are little pieces of art, so clever and creative.  That's why I like stamps too.

This morning when I went out to fill the birdbath and try leveling the fountain (once I realized that the dripping water was coming from the lip of the saucer and running back to the center because the patio isn't level I went downstairs to dig a short length of 1/4' lath out of the scrap box which was just right for keeping the water in the fountain and not dripping on the patio) I saw how lush and lime green the ferns are.  These ferns are the kind that spread so eventually this whole bed will be one big sea of fronds.  Cool.

We had an oxygen tank valve malfunction (fixed now) so we had to cancel an appointment this afternoon which gave me time to go out and put chicken wire fences around the blueberries and the bales with carrots and scallions since the bunnies are munching the blueberry leaves and branches and the chipmunks are uprooting the onions and carrots.  I even dug a slit around the blueberries and used a trowel to sink the wire into the ground a bit.  Maybe that'll help.  The fences aren't decorative, in fact they're kind of hard to see, but hopefully they'll protect my crops from rodent depredation.

I knew I needed to thaw out some meat for tonight's supper and hoped to be able to make something that'd carry over at least one more meal.  Well, I found some boneless, skinless chicken thighs in the freezer and a WW recipe for Honey-Ginger Chicken Thighs that I marinated all day and then threaded onto skewers to bake in the oven daubing the meat with the cooked marinade.  The recipe made 6 skewers, one per serving, so we've got two more evening's meals.  Along with the meat I fixed rice and fresh broccoli.  Mmm.

And because I didn't sew anything today or find something new that's blooming (although I probably should have checked the iris on the west side of the house) I thought I'd bore you with a photo of the baby sinkhole I finally got around to filling with soil and seeding yesterday.  Fingers crossed that pretty soon there'll be little green shoots all over this expanse of black/brown.

I didn't write the prompt last night.  It was a picture of a dress from the 1750s and for the life of me I couldn't rustle up an idea about it so I didn't.  And it occurred to me that I'm overdue writing up and sending out the knitting guild newsletter.  Guess we know what I'll be doing this weekend.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

The Final Plantings...

...cross my heart.  Yesterday I was poking around in the garage looking to see if I had any grass seed and found Dad's old work boots that I appropriated years (and years and years) ago to use as planters on the front porch.  At the Liberty St. house they sat in front of a thrift store chair I painted bright red but there's no room for the chair on this porch so just the boots remain.  

Before going back to the garden store for the hen & chicks plants to put in the boots I cleared out a baby sinkhole in the backyard, filled it with 2 cu. ft. of topsoil stomped down, and spread grass seed on it.  I didn't take a picture, it's an oval of black dirt with a few pale green seeds visible. (big whoop)  I did manage to get appropriately dirty in the process though AND it started raining, well, sprinkling a bit.  Not enough to water in the seed but enough to get me a little wet.  After that I tried to redo the top saucer and the spouting fish part of the fountain to see if I couldn't make it stop dripping from underneath and onto the patio (thereby lowering the water level and maybe burning out the pump).  My fix worked for a while, got me dirtier and wetter yet, but by the time I got back from the garden store (I did change into a clean shirt before going) it was leaking again.  Teflon pipe tape and an o-ring didn't do the trick, I guess it's time to pull out the caulk.  And I was so sure I had it this time.  Our bands of rain are the remnants of Tropical Storm Alberto and one waited until I was out among the plants at the store to up the ante and rain like crazy instead of the intermittent drops we'd been having.  Good thing I don't mind getting wet.  Other people were smart enough to have umbrellas, all I had was my equanimity.

The honeysuckle that I hacked back last fall so that the privacy fence could be replaced has its first buds (see?) right above the bleeding hearts and the peony has a bud too.


I saw a couple asparagus spears in the garden this morning so I picked them for our supper and found another misshapen one too.  I gave that one to Durwood.

Here's more Montparnasse cardigan sleeve.  It's the only thing I have OTN (on the needles) at the moment so it's growing rather quickly.  I like that; it makes a great case for project monogamy.

May 30--Utagawa Kunisada, City Scene.  She looks at him over her shoulder, a half-smile on her lips as if she made a teasing remark.  He is caught in that moment of deciding whether to be offended or to smile.  Are they married?  Are they lovers?  Or have they been captured in a flirtation?

Once again I awoke 30 minutes after writing the last word.  Maybe I'll have better luck or more inspiration tonight.  Sayonara.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

All's Quiet

Today was a quiet day.  I didn't spend much time outside, didn't see any cool birds.  I did see a stray cat saunter through the backyard this morning and sent it on its way but that's it for wildlife.  Of course the chipmunks are ever-present and ever-frantic.  They usually zoom by too fast to be more than a striped brown blur on the edge of the frame.  I stopped at the garden center this afternoon for some coleus to plant in the four black cauldrons across the front of the house.  (the flag was a give-away from Sam's last week)  Soon these tiny plants will fill these pots and grow like mad all summer.

The only other thing I have to show is the cardi sleeve.  I love knitting on bigger needles with biggish yarn, only 4 rows to the inch, so progress is fairly rapid.  Even so I have to make time to work on it, it won't knit itself.

May 29--Mary Cassatt, Summertime.  The ducks that lived on the pond were demanding.  Anyone who went down to the water had better have some corn in their pocket.  If they didn't, their toes would get a sound pecking or their shoelaces would be untied.

And that was all I could think of to write last night.  I hope to do better tonight.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Hot Holiday

Once again the weather guessers promised us hot and humid today so I was out before 7 o'clock surveying the crops.  We have sprouts!  The nearly invisible green threads in this expanse of potting soil will grow up to be carrots

and the nearly invisible green threads in this soil will be scallions.  Everything seems to be happy in the bales and it's all starting to grow.

All of the alliums in the garden are a-bloom.


This afternoon I spied this goldfinch having a snack of thistle seed.  I love the sharp contrast between the yellow and black of their feathers, don't you?

Last week I was digging through my fabric and came across a length of dark brown linen
blend with cream and gold embroidered dots on it, probably a yard of it.  I have a Dress no. 1 out of the same stuff in navy with red and white embroidered dots on it and I really like it so I was hoping I had enough of the brown to make a shell-type shirt.  Nope.  I have enough for the front and half of the back, not a good look I'm thinking, so I went to JoAnn Fabrics looking for something to put with it.  Naturally I found more than that.  The linen blends were on sale so I found a rusty brown that will work well with the dark brown dotted and on the sale racks I found this brown and orange woven stripe with enough for a Dress no. 1 and this red/pink/natural light upholstery fabric that will make a nice Shirt no. 1--but I promise not to cut out any of it until I have the last Dress no. 2 that's already cut sewn up.  And I also promise that the first thing I'll cut and sew after that is another grandkid placemat.  Cross my heart.

This afternoon (after an extemporaneous couch nap) I went down and finished sewing up the last of the refashioned Bonaire resort wear garments into another Tunic no. 1.  I didn't change the neckline of this one and it's just too wide.  I think I'll redraw the neckline using Dress no. 1 as a template because that one covers my bra straps and doesn't slip off my shoulders so easily.  Not that I won't wear the Tunics I've made and enjoy them immensely but I'd like to tweak it just a bit to fit my taste better.  I think that's reasonable.

May 28--Fra Angelico, Virgin Annunciate.  "What are you doing?" Devin asked.  "Praying," Jane said without looking up.  Devin watched in silence for a moment.  "Who to?" he asked.  She glanced up toward Heaven but didn't speak.  "You're praying to the ceiling?"  She sighed.  "No, I'm praying to God."  He was quiet for longer this time.  "Are you asking or thanking?"  She crossed herself and looked at him.  "I was just having a conversation, not asking or thanking, just having a conversation."  She dusted her hands together and stood up.  "Now that I'm done I think I'll go knit."  He watched her leave the room and sat there blinking at her receding back.

I woke up this morning at 5 o'clock and couldn't go back to sleep.  That explains the couch nap this afternoon.  I'll be going to bed just as soon as I'm done here.  Nightie-night.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Sewing Day

Since it's hotter than the hinges of Hades outside I tucked myself into the sewing area of the basement today and worked on a couple of the Tunics I cut out a while back.  I tried on the turquoise one to discover that the neckline is way too scooped for me so I added a "dickey" cut from an old sheer curtain made from fabric I got from Mother Malcolm (my  MIL) ages and ages ago.  I used the same fabric to add 6" inches to the hem so it kind of looks like I'm wearing a shirt under the tunic.  As soon as I cut out the tunic front using the pattern neckline I knew I'd made a mistake but it was too late so the sheer fabric is a save.  The neckline is so wide that the straps of my bra show but these days that doesn't seem to be a fashion don't.  I'm sure I can find a tank top I can wear under it if it bothers me too much to have my straps showing.

Right now both the lilies of the valley and the lilacs are blooming so I picked some of each this morning when I was out early doing a little yard work before it got too hot and they're in a vase on the kitchen table, the fragrance of the lilacs is winning.

I got the other tunic made with the last of the refashioned Bonaire-bought resort wear sewed together.  Since it's supposed to be equally hot and steamy tomorrow I'll consign myself to the cool basement and get it finished.  Naturally I've got my eye on a couple other lengths of fabric to cut out but I promised myself I'd sew up what I cut before cutting more.  AND I need to make another grandkid placemat because one of these days they'll both be here and I've only one placemat made.  That just won't do.


The bleeding hearts are at their best right now.  They look especially good with the morning sun shining on them.

May 27--Edward Henry Potthast, A Family Outing.  It was warm and sunny and breezy on the beach.  Tad and Sara had balloons tied to their wrists and they ran up and down the sand laughing as their toys chased them.  Aunt Cele sat on the bench someone had dragged onto the beach from a nearby park with her straw hat squashed down hard against the breeze.  Ella lay on the sand in the striped shade from the park bench reading a book and ignoring "the littles."

After finishing the second charity washcloth I realizeed that I needed to quit procrastinating and cast on the second Montparnasse cardi sleeve before I forget what I did on the first one.  Even though they're not the same color yarn they do need to be the same number of rows the stitches.  Today's Me Made May entry is the turquoise Tunic no. 1.  It's also #8 of my Make Nine in 2018 list.  Getting things done in GB.

Saturday, May 26, 2018


There I was sitting at the table minding my business eating a grilled cheese for lunch when something told me to look out the window and there was an oriole, the first one I've seen this year, on the crook closest to the patio doors.  It flew over to the crook with the peanut wreath, looked at the oriole nectar feeder, and went up to the fancy orange and grape jelly oriole feeder by the retaining wall.  It was lovely to see.

I had big plans to sew today but I stayed up too late last night and got up too early (damned bladder) this morning so I laundered the fabric I want to sew and cut this weekend and hung it out on the clothesline to dry in the sun.  All of it had spent the last 10 years or so in bins and smelled musty so a wash in unscented detergent and some time in the sunshine and warm breeze did wonders for the stuff.  Instead of sewing I finished knitting the Two-stripe Packer Hat for OJ.  It's an easy pattern, I'm a big fan of one row stripes and I really like the star on the crown of the hat.  Fingers crossed that this hat fits OJ's gigantic head...


When I went out to unplug the fountain I looked straight out north-ish to see clouds tinted orange above the dark gray ones that are the edge of rainstorms farther north.  Naturally they were hiding shyly behind the apple tree but I was surprised to see sunset colors 90 degrees from where I usually see them.

May 26--Egyptian, Roman Period, Mummy Portrait of a Woman.  She stared at him with her steady brown eyes.  He felt her measuring him, calculating his worth even though this was their first meeting.  She wore jewels he could never afford to give her making him feel somehow less of a man.  He had a good job, came from a respectable family, but he knew he would never meet her expectations.  The sound of a shoe scraping on the gallery floor made him step back from the scrap of painted and gilded linen.  It would be embarrassing to be seen mooning over a painting of a woman who had been dead for over two thousand years.

I've been lax in taking and posting Me-Made-May things this week.  Today's entry is the first Dress no. 1 I made and the pair of not-quite-long-enough capri leggings I made to go with them.  I used an old old pattern for the leggings.  They're a couple inches too short but they sure are comfy to wear.  

Since I stayed up too late, after midnight (I haven't done that in ages), I'm hurrying to get this posted and get to bed.  I'm tired and my eyelids keep slamming shut.

Friday, May 25, 2018

A New Family Member

Well, not exactly a new family member but it cost a whole lot more than either of our kids did.  We got a new furnace yesterday.  Not the most expensive one but not the cheapest one either.  This one has a 12 year warranty and that was irresistible, especially since keeping the old one would have filled our little abode with noxious amounts of carbon monoxide, possibly even lethal amounts.  So here's a picture of our new furnace.  It's a Daikin.  We have a new thermostat too and it's only taken me 24 hours to figure out how to program the schedule so it keeps us cool all day and night.  I think that isn't a bad learning curve.

Before de-crapifying the stairs, the path to and the area around the furnace so the installers could manhandle the old furnace out and the new furnace in I spent some time sewing together this Tunic no. 1 out of fabric re-purposed from another Bonaire-bought resort wear dress that I think I wore once.  It still needs a pocket and I resurrected some old sheers that I made a couple centuries ago out of fabric from Mother Malcolm, a strip of which I'm planning to attach to the hem, front and back, like I'm wearing a split-hem shirt underneath and I'll use the same sheer fabric to fill in the too-low scooped neckline.  I'm planning to do that tomorrow.  I'm excited and hope it'll look as good as I think it will.

This female hummingbird came back a bunch of times this morning but only once landed on the oriole feeder long enough for me to take its picture.  We just love seeing them.  Every time one comes for a visit is like the first time ever.  We're such dorks.

Tonight at Friday Night Knitting I finished the Into the Wind dishcloth with the yarn from the knitting guild.  I still have a little bit left and think I might be able to eke a small cloth out of it or LB and I can combine our yarns since they've got the same colors and make one.  We'll see.

May 25--Robert Delaunay, Man with a Tulip (Portrait of Jean Metzinger).  He looks like Charlie Chaplin in color or maybe Charlie Chaplin looked like him.  There is the same wistful quality around the eyes and his mouth, their mouths hover between smiling and crying.  The slope of Jean's shoulder sags under the weight of the fully open tulip as if the enormous spring beauty is too much for his small frame.

Hey, it's almost midnight.  Good thing it's a holiday weekend.  I have big plans.  I'm going to sew, knit, and work on imitating a slug.  We'll see how that goes.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018


This morning a male hummingbird stopped at the oriole nectar feeder and sat still long enough for me to get a decent picture.  I snapped a couple of him drinking while hovering but they're not as sharp.


I love how the chipmunks look when they sit up on their hind ends.  So thoughtful, as if they're thinking deep thoughts.


The bleeding hearts are looking wonderful, all pink and white and dangly,


pretty soon the lilies of the valley will be open and making the patio smell like heaven,


and the ferns are fronding all over the place.

May 23--Jacob Gerritszoon Cyup, Michiel Pompe van Slingelandt at Six Years of Age.  What boy wouldn't want to be him?  He had a hunting dog, his own falcon, and a kid-size sword.  Even if his mom dressed him in red velvet with gold embroidery and lace.  Sissy clothes but you can see that he was living a real boy's life.  Patch, his dog, was a good hunter, fearless at chasing rats and weasels out into the open so the falcon, Ransom, could swoop down to catch them.  Sometimes Patch lost patience at losing his prey and leaped to snap at Ransom but the bird would lash at the dog with his sharp beak or razor talons and put an end to the problem.

This is all you get.  I spent the afternoon shifting things around in the basement so the furnace installers have room to work tomorrow.  I have to be up early so I'm outta here.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Happy Bird Day!

Guess what I spotted this afternoon--the first hummingbird of the summer.  Woohoo!  I apologize that this is a crappy blurry picture but there's a hummingbird there, cross my heart.  I'm sure my photography skills will improve as the season progresses.

Then when the cleaning lady had gone it was quiet in the house and I heard a familiar song.  I looked out the kitchen window and there was Mr. Wren sitting on top of the little wren house on the privacy fence singing his love song to any passing Mrs.  I read somewhere that wrens like to nest by running water and I put out the fountain last Saturday quite close to the birdhouse.  Later on I saw him fly up with some nest materials.  I sure hope he finds a taker.  A few years ago we had wrens nest in a house among the ferns below the kitchen window and one of the fledglings flew across from the birdhouse to Durwood's knee as he sat on the patio in the shade.  Cool things like that never happen to me.  Probably because I have so much trouble sitting still.

When I ate my lunch (a 6" flour tortilla with low-fat mayo, some chicken lunchmeat, a handful of broccoli slaw, and a drizzle of wasabi sauce with some baby carrots and a clementine on the side--yum) this male Downy Woodpecker came for his lunch.

It was a happy 3-bird day.  That was before the furnace guy came to do the annual air conditioner tuneups, did his routine safety check of our 15-year-old furnace, and found a crack in the heat exchanger that will introduce a dose of carbon monoxide into the house.  NOT what we want at all.  So on Thursday afternoon we'll be getting a brand new furnace installed.  *sigh*  As Durwood said, "this is why we have 'the pile' (our emergency savings account) but it sure sucks to have to use that much of it, although I'd rather pay for a new furnace than funerals.  Plus we get a nice discount for paying cash, well, with a check but still we get a discount.

I'm trying to master or, more realistically, develop some sitting around skills so while the cleaning lady was here and later once the furnace guys left I got the Two-stripe Packer Hat to the crown decreases.  Hats go fast once you start decreasing stitches on every other round.  Maybe I'll get it done tomorrow... no, tomorrow I'm going to sew up some things I have cut out so that I can move the bins and boxes around the furnace so that the installers can find the old one to take out and I won't pile things on top of other things and lose the stuff I have cut out and ready to sew.  Yeah, that's what I'll do, sew.  After I hit the Oneida St. Goodwill in search of a couple more pairs of summer-weight lounge pants for Durwood.  I found some for $17 at ShopKo tonight but then found 2 pair just as nice at the Goodwill closest to the house for $4 each.  No contest.  The $17 ones go back and I spend less than that to see if I can find more a couple miles away.

May 22--Paul Cezanne, Mont Sainte-Victoire above Tholonet Road.  Sophie sat on the stone patio behind the villa, her book in her lap, and the ice melting in her glass of tea.  The mountain loomed purple in the distance and gray-green olive trees marched in ranks toward her like an advancing army.  Rudy was away on business in the city and she could hear their cook and housekeeper, Amalia, clattering pots and crockery in the kitchen.  Sophie had told her since Rudy wouldn't be home for supper she didn't need to make anything special.  To be honest Sophie longed for the old, poor days when a salad with a bit of cheese and a hard-boiled egg was all they could afford.  Her undemanding affluent life was beginning to bore her to tears.

Today's Me Made May entry is the second Tunic no. 1 I made and the first one that I took off the straight and narrow by adding printed cotton sleeves, gussets, body bottom/hem, and pocket.  I wore it on errands today and everywhere I got compliments from young women.  Look at me, I was cool there for a minute.  (You can tell I've lost weight, my leggings are baggy.  Or maybe it's because they were fairly cheap.  No, it's because I've lost over 30#.  Not to brag or anything.)

Okay.  Got the shrimp out to thaw for tomorrow night's supper (Jumbo Shrimp with Spicy Cuban-style Black Beans and fresh asparagus) and the WW Baked Ziti for Thursday night's supper when the furnace guys are here so it can thaw in the fridge for a couple days.  I love having meals in the freezer for when life is busy.  Now I can go to bed with a clear conscience--not that I don't do that every night.  I will say that not being able to sleep isn't one of my flaws.  Most nights I sleep the sleep of the innocent and exhausted.  Night.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Nothing Ready for Harvest

Every morning Durwood asks me if there's anything to pick, any tomatoes especially, and I have to tell him no, the goofball.  It's been so chilly the last couple days, mid-40s at night and barely 60 in the day--that I'm sure the seeds and plants are out there muttering about the weather and trying to decide whether to grow or stay tucked in the nice warm garden.  Except for one asparagus plant that's sending up a spear or two every couple days.  I really need to get out there and weed out the volunteer violets to give the asparagus room to grow.  Maybe Wednesday...

The lilacs are still blooming and smelling great,

                                 the fern fronds are still unfurling,

Dad's rose is sending out what Grandma Angermeier used to call "new wood" instead of popping out leaves and buds on the "old wood" which it did every year until last year so I guess there won't be any early roses *sigh*,


      and the allium in the front are blooming, their flower heads about the size of billiard balls.

After supper I sat knitting while watching Antiques Roadshow and got halfway on the second charity dishcloth.  It's hard to see the pattern but it's making diagonal ridges so it'll be a good scrubber cloth.  I'll make this again, probably with solid color yarn so the pattern shows.

May 21--After Sydney Parkinson, The Head of a Chief of New Zealand.  The man with the tribal tattoos on his face sat staring straight ahead.  He had boarded the subway at the same stop that Deb had.  She saw him on the platform in his navy suit, wingtip shoes, and camel overcoat.  He looked like a thousand other businessmen in the city except for the black dots, lines, and swirls the covered the planes of his face.

Interesting.  I met my writing friend this afternoon and managed to wring out a couple pages of the next chapter in an hour or so.  I sure do enjoy it when I can steal away, plug in my earbuds, and let my fingers pound out a story.  Maybe one of these days I'll have more brain space available to write like that more often.  We're going to aim for every two weeks, develop a rhythm.   I just got back from a Kwik Trip run, picking up bananas, donuts for Durwood, and milk.  Neither time that I was out and about today did I remember we were out of bananas, etc. so I had to drive off after 9:30 for emergency rations.  Good thing it's close.  Time to hit the hay.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Sunrise, Sunset...


Okay, all I've got is the sunset but, oh, it's very pretty, all orange and pink in the western sky.

I glanced out the window here to see the neighbor's crabapple tree all red-violet with flowers and knew by the quality of the light that it'd be a pretty sunset.

I didn't do much today--read the paper, took a shower, went to Walmart--so I don't have a raft of flower photos or a long involved description of everything I did.  I washed a sink full of dishes and did a load of laundry, neither of those are anywhere close to being photo worthy.

This acrobatic bluejay swooped in for a drink and a twirl on the peanut wreath but so far we haven't seen any orioles or hummingbirds.  Someone reminded me today not to put food coloring in the birdie juice.  I know it's bad for the birds, or at least not good for them, but I forgot and put some in the last batch.  I'll try to do better tomorrow.

After supper I sat on the couch with my "writing" nature sounds playing in my ears and worked to figure out what the next chapter of my novel should be since I'm meeting my writing friend, ACJ, tomorrow after lunch and don't want to squander the time.  Once I got myself all organized I realized that I'd resumed my broken ankle position, pillow and all, but the combination of the music and nature sounds in my ears and the pillow and notepad on my lap produced a first page and some ideas for what comes next.  I tell you, that $3 cd I got a century ago on one of those discount store displays is like writing-inspiration magic.  I plug the earbuds in and words come out.  Magic.

Before coming in here I cast on the second charity dishcloth and got about 10 rows knitted.  It's a simple pattern and one that I wish I had started at the meeting last Thursday.  I might have actually gotten one done if I had.  Probably not, since I'm a pretty slow knitter, but maybe.

May 20--Edouard Manet, Boy in Flowers.  At first Janet thought it was just a row of floral bouquets in the market stall but then one of the bouquets blinked.  His eyes were the blue of cornflowers and his straw hat matched the petals of the sunflowers behind him.  She smiled at him and slowed her pace, getting buffeted by people in a hurry.  She didn't need a bouquet, didn't really have a place for one or a vase for one, but the boy's appearance like a living bouquet made her want what he was selling.

Man, here it is 11 o'clock again.  I need to invest in some time management training.  Either that or just pay attention to the clock.

I learned once again that I am a smoke magnet.  Yesterday I picked up a couple pounds of ground beef patties that I told Durwood I'd grill for his lunches so I lit the charcoal before I took my shower and then slapped them on the grill.  Because they're so thin I stayed outside so they wouldn't overcook.  When I sat on one side of the patio the wind blew the smoke right on me so I moved to the opposite side whereupon the wind shifted and blew the smoke that way.  When they were done I took the top off the grill and in the process of taking off eight patties I walked all the way around it with the smoke in my face all the way.  Needless to say I smelled great, like a grilled hamburger, when I went to the grocery.  I can't explain it but smoke loves me or the wind does.  The outcome is the same.