Monday, July 6, 2020

Sometimes I fill the entire day

This morning I went to the drug store to pick up a prescription that is out of stock a couple more days. From the drive through I went and parked in front and got myself to the ice cream case, hoping to locate chocolate peanut butter, to assuage my disappointment. Nothing! I settled for somebody's butter pecan.

Mom first found chocolate peanut butter ice cream in the seventies, on the other side of the state at Sauder Village, the furniture manufacturer that maintains a replica village way west, almost in Indiana. In a few days she loaded me and most of the grands in her car and we were off on a day trip for ice cream.

In the nineties, driving from art show to art show, I discovered Hershey chocolate peanut butter, at the first rest stop east bound on the Pennsylvania turnpike. But don't stop; the area has been totally remodeled to Any Toll Road USA rest area, and Hershey has no store.

Sometimes I find it. Hershey maintained a fountain in a local restaurant and sometimes Laura and I ate supper there, and sometimes just stopped for ice cream. That could have been a relationship made in heaven, until the chef put his hand too far into the till...

Today, after the prescription disappointment, I drove across town to have my glasses adjusted. I came home via Richfield to Peninsula, and on the exit ramp realized I only needed to go toward Richfield to get to Country Maid.

How strange to find them in full Covid mode. The door was now exit only, the entrance the former emergency exit in the small seating area. I happily donned my mask and stood in line for the next  server in the once noisy and bustling shop. I bought a half gallon of the real deal.

I got home from all the adventures around two in the afternoon. I looked over the flowers and decided they could survive until tomorrow. But only until then. We're well into the nineties.

My white mandevilla has bloomed. I'm so pleased. There is another blossom way at the top. Several, in fact.

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Not much to say--clean house and scalloped potato recipe

The two young women came to the door on time. I told them that when I had "cleaning ladies", they began at opposite ends and met in the middle, one hour later. I hoped they could do the same, and they did.

They worked from my bedroom and the living room to the middle, saving the studio for the last. After a little more illumination of their job, I disappeared into the studio and wove for an hour. When Addy came in to vacuum, I explained the easiest way to tackle the litter and the cotton dust under the loom, and we all reconvened in the kitchen in an hour.

I understand they were so excited at their wages and tip they stopped at their friend Cathy's house to squeal in delight. Cathy attracts children like metal to magnets. My house cleaners are going into ninth and tenth grades, so about fourteen and fifteen. I told them I would have them back in three weeks. They very professionally cleaned up after themselves, thanked me and left.

Scalloped potatoes: an 8x8" or 9x9" will work; there are 4 cups of potatoes here, and the dish could hold another two.
    4 cups thinly sliced potatoes (Yukon Gold or Russet) about 2#
    3 tablespoons butter
    3 tablespoons flour  
    1 1/2 cups milk
    1 teaspoon salt
    1 dash cayenne pepper
    1 1/2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese, divided

Note: I used less than half a cup of cheddar, melted into the rue. I don't have cayenne, and used hot pepper flakes. Mustard powder would have been good, too. I didn't use paprika.  

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 1.5 quart baking dish. 8x8 or 9x9.
In a small sauce pan, melt butter and stir in flour. Stir to bubbly, thick consistency. A minute or two.
Whisk in milk and season with salt and cayenne.
Cook sauce on low until smooth and bubbling, stirring occasionally with a whisk.
Reduce heat and stir in up to 1 cup of cheddar cheese.
Put half the potatoes in baking dish. Smooth out to an even layer.
Pour half the sauce over the potatoes. No need to mix evenly.
Repeat with second layer of potatoes and cheese sauce.
Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese on top. Top with paprika for color.
Bake uncovered for about 1 hour at 350 degrees F, or until potatoes are fork tender and top is browned.

I believe the secret to this recipe is the thinness of the slices of potatoes. I think back on scalloped potatoes at childhood suppers, and they were quarter inch or more slices. The taters often had a crunch. The second "secret" is making the flour/butter combo bubble in the pan, and bringing the rue back to a thickened bubble. And, that's all I can tell you about cooking.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

A magnificent tail and an indeterminate tale

Two young women (on summer vacation from school) distributed hand drawn and colored flyers advertising their willingness to clean houses and wash cars. I invited them in today to tell them what I would like cleaned and how. They agreed, and will return tomorrow at eleven. I will wear a mask, and give each a mask to wear. I'm very interested in how they do. 

I made a new recipe for scalloped potatoes last night. I can only say they were perfect scalloped potatoes.

I added some mushrooms between the layers, and the taste is a great addition. I'm thinking I could sneak in a layer of greens, several different things.

Toby was to be retrieved at five, so I left the yummy taters bubbling and went for him. Here he is, Marine cut, though certainly not ready or suitable, or even available. Don't kid yourselves; I would pass him off in a minute.

Toby with his magnificent tail and the extra pound he's working on.

There is nothing left to report save it is too hot, and everything had a suitable drink of water this morning. The new gerbera Daisy is a tad shell shocked, but its leaves are green and lovely. One of the blooms actually is an identical twin on one stem. The one most center.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

A toast to Deb, the founder of the mystery

Last night a text from Deb: Salpiglosis! Now why didn't we think of that? She bought the seeds and planted them last year. Here they are, a handful from Google:

And here are mine. Each stem may be producing multi colors, but I won't know that for a day or so.

And I still have a zinnia coming along. At least I think it's a zinnia.

My pot of ranunculus went belly up, all ten of them:

I stopped at the nursery to buy a replacement, and learned they are available first thing in the season (when they were not open!). I asked for a Gerbera daisy instead. I have a red one, to put in this pot tomorrow. I'll try hard not to disturb the ranunculus bulbs doing it.

And I stopped at the dollar store to restock my Kleenex.They had none. Working my way out, avoiding two busy preschool age girls, I dodged down an empty aisle and saw Zinnia's! So I picked up a plastic pot, too.

And came home and made supper. It was a long day.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

A self contained and self sustaining ecosystem

It's not what I do but how I think and talk about myself that is my definition. Perhaps I'm just the person behind the curtain. Or not.

I lose track of time easily; when and where it happened can get murky. Especially since, as Ellen pointed out, it seems as if everything is happening again, except cards with the Methodists. My major orientation remains missing.

Sometimes I have a bad leg night, with too much pain and too little sleep. I must say, those mizerble water pills sure do a job, even at the substantially reduced dose of 10 mg twice a day. I've lost three pounds, and it's not because I cut out the crostata. I even have two more at the ready, in the freezer. It occurred to me that raspberries on sale could easily wait for me in a puddle of sugar, cornstarch and lemon juice, in the freezer.

Anyway, there was a night with no sleep recently, and this morning I turned off the alarm and slept until past ten. I found and cleaned up another cat upchuck of excess hair. I know he won't miss the hair.

Lately his "end of the bed" routine has been the complete extreme:

After brunch this morning, I wandered out to the car. My plan for the day was a "dry run" to 224 West Exchange Street, where the vascular test will be conducted in mid July. Downtown Akron is undergoing the Big Dig these last couple of years.

Downtown Akron is consumed by several hospitals, a couple of universities and county government, all of whom maintain their version of complex and confusing campuses. Periodically county steps up and broadcasts money and rearranges the streets and roads. It was beginning to happen at the end of the time Laura was seeing Children's Hospital folks, and I could always drive out of any mess they threw at me, but two years later, better go look.

I've paid close attention to my pots and baskets this past week. It has rained so much my major obligation has been to cull blossoms. My yard of weeds is in great form, too, and I looked over the deck and took some shots of them:

I've kept close track of the "lettuce" accompaniment to the zinnia. Several days ago it showed the promise of a blossom, and today it has produced.

Who knows what this is? Its leaves are thin and flimsy. It looks like a ditch weed, except apparently its seeds were included with zinnia seeds by a dear and trusted seed collecting friend.

So, back to the self contained and self sustaining system of the title, I started the car and headed for 224 West Exchange. I found it, and found I can park there, conveniently. On the way down I admired the fine art put on old buildings by new and young coffee, beer and film entrepreneurs. I'd forgotten this fine stuff since the days of travelling several times a week with Laura. Parking is easy and so are pictures, that some day I may go park by the Sojurner Truth building and take pictures.

On the way home I filled the gas tank, and taking care to touch only the soon to be sterilized ecosystem of the car interior, I finished driving home. To my surprise, a man I did not know was mowing my weeds. I started across the street to ask Larry who is this man, but good old Larry was already on my side, and flagging down a new Dan, for introductions. 

This Dan said he was already hot and sweaty from two other yards and so he tackled mine, too. I thanked him and shook his hand. I must tell you, it's been so long, it felt just fine. Isn't it a lovely day!

And then I came in and washed my hands.

The End

Friday, June 26, 2020


I had a busy week.
Ha ha.

I saw the vascular doctor last Tuesday. I was informed of a vascular problem back, maybe two thousand and one, or two. For years I saw a vascular specialist, who beleaguered me about smoking. I ignored most of his direction. I was still working, weaving, driving several thousand miles a year. Smoking was part of the routine.

Then the vascular doctor disappeared. I turned my veins over to my heart doctor, who listened to my pulses once or twice a year, and told me to quit smoking. I actually did that, eleven years ago.

The new fellow and I got along well; I told him the story, and his take on it is, this is where that history lands you, and let's see what we can do from here. His office scheduled a venous ultrasound; he advised me to find zippered compression stockings...for both legs, and we spent an amusing five minutes notifying all my doctors of the visit. My little tweek to my primary who couldn't be bothered.

Then I go my hair cut. Second time since I could! I think I left half of it behind.

Wednesday the cat went to the vet, to bring his shots up to date so he can go to the barber in a week and get a Marine trim. I was super impressed with the protocol at the doctor's office. Nothing but masks! My hair dresser's shop was the same; all operators and all customers in masks.

I suppose I should have expected the same at the vet. They are a medical office, for crying out loud. I pulled in:

The office staff came out and asked me if I had concerns about Toby. Then the vet came out and asked me the same. I said, again, he's gained weight; is he OK? The vet took him away and brought him back shortly. He's fine, his vaccinations are current, and yes, he's gained more than a pound, so take off a layer of kibble from the scoop.

When he has his hair cut next week, I wonder how much weight he will loose.

On Thursday I visited the tall, overgrown kid ortho who set my broken leg a couple of years ago. I needed cortisone shots in my knees again. It's been a year! In chatting he said in the worst of the epidemic, he'd done no surgery for three entire months! "Did they pay you?" I inquired facetiously, and he was so startled he almost forgot to push the syringe. Just wanted to remind him a lot of people weren't so fortunate.

And today I went grocery shopping and then to lunch with Cathy at the delicatessen she found. 

The flowers are good; it has rained four days this week, and more to come.

And that's been my week.

Monday, June 22, 2020

Do internet trolls own us now?

Something I've never done before, I'm at the computer with crackers and cheese and coffee. Look at that, the 3 c's. The vascular doc appointment actually is tomorrow, and my sister is taking me. If I like it, I'll go back and use the valet parking. 

I thought I'd sneak a peek at the news before I got on blogger to ask you all a question. My take on the news is Holey Moley. A Mega Trump Rally to a pretty empty stadium! I love the column blaming it on Korean Boy Band aficionados ordering an extra million tickets and prompting accommodations for overflow.

But in my heart I think it was just damn poor planning on the ground by the planning committee. How I hope that Covid19 concerns knocked a zero off the attendance. Six thousand don't fill a sixty thousand capacity stadium. 6,000. 60,000. Ninety percent no-shows.

I did have a question about that part of the country to throw out to you.

Back in the eighties or nineties, I read a book I believe was this: an autobiography of a hardscrabble upbringing of a boy in the difficult plains of west Texas. The father of the boy was dead, the mother attempting to keep together the family. The mother remarried and a farm becomes involved. I believe there was a train ride to the farm. 

I lent the book to someone because there was a reference to Sears and Roebuck prefab homes and to how much prairie families bought from the catalog. The book never came back.

I recently snapped up a copy of Russell Baker, Growing Up. That was the book! I just knew! Well, it's not. I've read Russell Baker, and it's about a boy who lost his father in the same time frame. I remembered the book when I read it again. I even bought another Russell Baker, Good Times. I've probably read it already, too, but no matter.

In the meantime, I have such a desire to read this missing book again. To at least know what it's about. On the chance it's Horton Foote, I ordered it. I seem to be keeping the publishing industry solvent! But if you have a better idea, please let me know.

Do you need rain? We're in for four days of it, between now and next Saturday. I will be lugging the cat to the vet on Wednesday, when it may not rain so much. Sort of like Covid in people, cats cannot go where there are other cats unless their current state of health is certified. And, Toby has an appointment for a crew cut next week, but not unless he's certified.

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Job done

Today I finished the aqua; I hemmed the stack of towels off the loom.

I'm becoming quite the marketing pro the last couple of runs:

Collar the cleanup! Not bad, eh? Quite a nice color, too.

And when this is all over, I will know how to fold a towel into every napkin shape I want.

My right leg has hurt for the last several weeks. After the futile trip to my primary care and the extraordinary dose of the "water pill", I saw my nephrologist. He straightened out the dose toot suite, but threw up his hands at the pain. He doesn't do vascular! 

I'd made the vascular appointment some time back, and now it's come up on Monday. I do hope he has the cure.

Friday, June 19, 2020

Zinnia and friends

The identity of the plants that became the majority in the pot of "zinnias" soon may be revealed. Many tips seem about to bloom:

Or, they are more leaves. The zinnia at least is holding its ground. Interesting, how the deck railings have laid down a lovely checkered tablecloth.

And here is the mystery lettuce the next day. Maybe over the weekend it will be a flower.

I really came to talk about the future. The run of aqua towels is off the loom and cut apart for finishing. The next set of towels will be the always popular orange. The bobbins are wound.

Apparently I paid more attention to PBS and Covid19 and associated news than to the bobbins, and came up two bobbins short for the pound of thread. Normally I would wait until I'l emptied two bobbins, then fill them.

But sometime ago someone asked me how I maintained uniform selvages, and the bobbin is part of the answer, so instead of waiting on two LeClerc plastic bobbins to free up, I wound two wooden Harrisville bobbins to illustrate a point. Here they are.

I scrolled back through a year's worth of pictures and had trouble locating a really good picture of selvages. The picture of the aqua and this will have to do. On the loom is the left selvage, too, which is inferior to my right selvage. Oh well.

A uniform selvage happens when the bobbin thread laid each time is the same length, and it catches uniformly at each edge. Other operations by the weaver must be uniform, too. The tension of the warp must be kept fairly uniform. 

As you know some of the threads go up and some go down, and the shuttle of thread is passed through the opening, the shed. Here is my sequence:

Open the shed. *Throw the shuttle, leaving the proper arc of thread and sensing the tug of the thread stopping at the selvage. Beat the thread. Open the next shed. Return the beater. Repeat from * until you are ready to stop.

The beat is in the open shed, and the return of the beater when the next shed is opened clears the shed of any threads that cling together, so that the shed is open to throw the shuttle again. Everything else becomes part of the rhythm established, just like knitting or swinging an ax to split a log or a hammer to drive a chisel. 

Bobbins are very important. The LeClerc bobbins are plastic. There are other brands of plastic, and there are wood bobbins. They all unwind differently when thrown. The diameter of the hole in each varies, affecting the speed the bobbin unwinds. The bobbins themselves have different weights, affecting the speed they spin and unwind in the shuttle.

So, that's how I keep the selvages uniform. Practice. The good news was, I was a natural. And I put that down to the prior thirty some years of fiber work, knitting, spinning, sewing. Just like other skills, the fingers and brain are attuned and kick in. 

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Plates and eggs (recipe)

For the record, all I did today was a small load of laundry, clean the rest of the cornmeal off the bread stone and the counter, eat lunch and take a nap.

The Plates and Mugs are after the eggs. Skip straight down if you like.

Here's the Eggs in Purgatory recipe. I cut it in half and put half of that in the fridge for tonight.

Eggs in Purgatory

From Chef Joanne Weir, star of Plates & Places on PBS

With a can of tomatoes and a few eggs, this hearty meal is less than 30 minutes away. Some know the dish as Shakshuka but Italians call it Uova in Purgatorio, or Eggs in Purgatory, and Weir's many travels to the Boot to film her award-winning PBS series inspired her version. “We are kind of in a purgatory now,” Weir says. “This dish is perfect for breakfast, lunch or dinner, served along with some focaccia or other rustic bread.” The following recipe serves two.


  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 ounces of bacon, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
  • 1 small red onion, minced
  • Pinch of crushed red pepper
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 2 1/2 cups canned Italian plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
  • 4 large eggs
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup finely grated Parmigiano cheese
  • Toasted bread or focaccia

1. Preheat an oven to 400°F.

2. Warm the olive oil in a medium frying pan over medium-high heat and add the bacon. Cook, stirring occasionally, until very light golden, about 3 minutes.

3. Add the minced onion and crushed red pepper and cook until the onion pieces are soft, about 7 minutes.

4. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute.

5. Add the white wine and reduce by half.

6. Add the tomatoes and simmer until the sauce thickens slightly, about 10 minutes.

7. Transfer sauce to an ovenproof baking dish, or cast-iron pan. Make 4 indentations in the sauce. Break the eggs, one at a time into a small bowl, and with the spoon, add 1 egg into each indentation.

8. Place on the top shelf of the oven and cook until the whites of the eggs are firm but the yolks are still runny, about 7 to 10 minutes, or until desired doneness.

9. Season the eggs with salt and pepper.

10. Sprinkle the cheese atop the eggs and serve immediately.

While I was folding laundry, I exchanged several texts with Laura. Apparently her plate package was delivered to Kent today (overnight!). She said "I love love love the gift you sent me! It's so thoughtful and perfect. The bubble wrap was spot on, too!"

(The little bubble popper!)

I explained to Deb I'd like a stroke that indicated a paint mark. Deb said "Absolutely not; she's an artist and needs the brush." There's a dragonfly there, too, waiting to metamorphose.

It was a hit! I asked Laura to text Deb, too, who will be happy to know.

For Blake's plate, I told Deb she's a programmer, so a lot of I's and O's all over will be good. Deb said "I can do better than that!" The clue is on the back. Let's see.

And so you can thumb through all three sets, here are Francis, the young man who has biked many mountains, including the Vietnam Trail, for his 18th birthday. By himself. The reason I told Deb, the more mud the better.

And now I will weave. The turquoise is three bobbins from off.

Monday, June 15, 2020

Such a Monday

Let me know if this day would wear you out! I get up at eight a.m., spend forty five to sixty minutes getting my gear wheel engaged. I open my door and am escorted anxiously by the cat to his end of the house. There I remedy his food and water bowl under his anxious eye. Then, totally unsupervised, I clean and refresh his litter box. Now I am free to mosey alone to the kitchen and make and enjoy my breakfast.

My morning task was to insert little congratulatory notes, affix address labels and mail the gifts I'd commissioned for some graduations. That is some mean task; it means manhandling fairly large boxes, getting them (barely) into carrier bags and into my car, then in reverse from my car and into the post office. With a cane in the other hand, and no kind door opener this morning.

I was home just before noon, and sat down to check and answer emails. I opened one from our friend AARP and took a look at recipes on offer. There was a lunch called Eggs in Purgatory. It was far more food than I would eat for lunch, but a perfect supper. But first I needed some focaccia.

I made a two loaf batch, which emptied the flour and sugar jars enough to hold what wouldn't fit when I shopped.

After I cleaned up the kitchen I went to weave for half an hour, then tended to the bread. It was great focaccia, in spite of a few extra minutes in the oven.

I put together the Eggs in Purgatory (half the batch made two meals for me) and popped them into my still hot oven.

Some Parmesan cheese, and it was supper divine. I'm sure someone will ask for the recipe, so I'll get it ready for another day. 

Let me show you Francis' gift, which inspired the other two. It was made by my friend Deb Bures, the porcelain potter. It began last summer, when I saw one of the plates she periodically posts and sells on Facebook, and I bought it. It showed a period bicycle, throwing mud. You may remember seeing it on my stove, as the alternate spoon rest.

Then another time on Facebook, I saw a porcelain mug with a bicycle, throwing even more mud! I needed it, for Frances. I sent the two pieces home with his mother, wrapped in, what else, towels.

Because I did not take a picture, I asked him to do so. Because he intends to be a journalist, I asked him to take a marketing worthy photo. Here is his graduation set. In a couple of days, I'll show you Laura and Blake's sets.

Thursday, June 11, 2020

What goes around is useful

If you came up back in the stone age, as I did, generally "it was what it was". Cold, put on a sweater or two. Hot, take it off, including the shoes. Bored? Find a book or get up a ball game. I wonder if I even had the concept of "bored" as a state of being worthy of mention to my parents. We were so imbued with the concept of being children out of sight that I nearly died the time I felt something was not worth mentioning to my parents. So did my sister, here eating apples with neighborhood buddies.

By the time I had children, in the sixties, the little tikes were fomenting the concept of feelings and even rights. Now it was OK to say you were cold and be directed to the location of your sweater, or call out at midnight, "Mommy, I'm sick!", and vomit in the door way to the hall, not the bathroom toilet. My dad, my girls right and three more of his grands left.

The grands came along starting in the early nineties. Now an interesting dichotomy. I have six grandchildren, and was directly involved in twelve or thirteen years of half of them. Half were raised as were their parents, and half were raised by their parents. The finest example I have of that is the several yards of mulch my daughter had unloaded in her drive. To move it to designated areas she enlisted what else? Children.

Beth, my oldest, had watched the progress of Hamilton, Emily and Laura in turning over my front garden at the old house from a weed patch to a charming little English Cottage Garden. Laura was available the weekend of the mulch, and was enlisted to help. I guess she was eleven or twelve, so Caroline would have been tenish. Laura just kept shoveling and moving mulch; Caroline leaned on her shovel and complained it was too much work.

Beth called yesterday to tell me a story. She lives in an old house in one of the many ethnic enclaves in Cleveland. I've written of her wonderful, screened front porch and the Morris chairs for lying back and admiring the air and the view. She bought the house more than twenty five years ago, patching together grants for single working women with a credit union loan, and she was a homeowner!

She wanted to tell me the renovation of the old HVAC unit was complete. It had, of course, occurred over the hottest week days of the year to date. Cleveland was mid nineties much of last weekend and this week, until it broke overnight, for both of us. She is the only one out and about, going to work these last three months. Her husband, her son and her daughter each have assumed one floor to carry on, as students and as a banker. She was more than happy to daily escape.

The three left at home were equally happy, comfortable in the enclave each had carved out to carry on. Until the heat hit. Mom returned home Monday night to some hot, grumpy tenants. Tuesday was even worse. "I'm hot! I'm hotter! When will the A/C be on again? Mom, this is awful!"

"And you know what I told them? Hot is a state of mind!"

I hope you heard yourself saying that to a child of yours, back in the day we all lived in brand new developments, and were busy putting in grass and flower beds. No family on my street had air. It was why we went to the mall. Why, as kids, we went to the movies. Why my grandparents had a cottage on Lake Erie. Why I told my girls, "Hot is a state of mind."

Mom, Uncle Hank, friends at the cottage

Mom, Uncle Hank and friends at the Sheffield Lake cottage, July 4, 1932