Saturday, November 30, 2019

A lovely offer

My daughter, Beth, came to visit a couple of weeks ago. She hasn't seen my new "digs" yet. I asked her to tighten a screw on the Artistat I'm currently using for weaving, and in the course of the discussion I said how I wished I still had the counterbalance Mira I donated to Praxis, several years ago. It is a workhorse, and I'm afraid I'm beating the little Artistat to death.

That entire gift had come about because Beth, and the studio owner are friends. Out came her phone, and Beth asked if the Mira were available as a trade back. Jessica said "Yes, your mom should have her loom back." That probably will happen next week. We got it out of the old house only with the removal of the treadle bar, and I do hope we can get it in here the same way. And I am so grateful to Jessica.

The counterbalance Mira in the old studio. Isn't she a beauty!

I've just finished listening to The Old Curiosity Shop. It may be a Dickens I never read. Brain injury notwithstanding, I have no recollection, no clue of this book in the past. I was in no way impressed, except one. In fact, I almost gave up, before coming to the bit that engrossed me.

I'm sorry I don't know Mark Twain's opinion of the book. Mark Twain advised, on writing, if there is a character the author no longer knows how to handle, just take that character out back and push him down the well.

Actually, I felt that is what Dickens did with Little Nell. He certainly wrapped up a good deal of plot and action in that last chapter, including disposing of villain Quilp by drowning. But the center of the book, the tale of Grandfather's downfall by gambling, borrowing, gambling I found so well characterized it clutched at me. I could have used a trigger warning.

Which set me thinking about "trigger warnings".

On Thanksgiving Day, my neighbor and I saw Knives Up!  The only review I read of the film before I saw it was a Times Opinion piece that felt the film played fast and loose with illegal immigration, and we, or at least she, should have been given a trigger warning.

I hearken back to reading Lord of the Flies, the last quarter of which I read only enough of each page to ascertain Jack remained alive. To this day I have not reread the book. That's been fifty some years. I dealt with it, satisfactorily enough to progress through life. No one, especially no college professor, gave trigger warnings.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Another beautiful day

Not kidding; it got to near sixty today. Sad the days are so short to enjoy it. And shorter every day!

This stopped me as I passed the door this morning.There was so much sunshine, my Nike N's were illuminated and reflected in the storm door glass. I could not make this up!

I went out for a haircut after lunch. Oh, the traffic. I pass two nearby high schools, still in session. I assume their dear parents are still at work. It's not black Friday, and no one takes a day off work to do Thanksgiving shopping. Yet I was ten cars back at the four way stop, and the roads were just as congested.

I asked Melanie when I got to the shop. Everyone chimed in that it must be all the traffic exiting the freeway because of a bad accident. I can't find any news of said crash, and I got home with nicely sheared hair, so all is well.

I called my sister today to see how her township bazaar plans are progressing, and, well, they have not. A couple of weeks ago, as we drove to Seville to deliver towels, she regaled me with her husband's recent adventure of being rear-ended so hard his great red truck was driven into the car ahead of himself. By a youngster, texting, who exited her car with her thumbs still flying on the phone. Let me guess: "OMG! I was in an accident. I'm OK."

All week Jan and Tom have shopped for a car; Tom's truck was totaled by the insurance company. The end of an era; the man has been driving a truck, aka The Mobile Living Room, for nigh onto fifty years.

Tom was persuaded from a truck, which simply causes nieces and nephews and more to borrow both the vehicle and the person, for moving.

I said it would be an easy move in for me; a shopping bag of towels in each hand. Jan laughed. She anticipated two tubs of things to sell. She will ask Tom. They will fit in the new SUV.

Monday, November 25, 2019

Progress report.

I tend to panic until the process I am learning has passed through my hands, been a success, and especially, registered in my brain for the next time.  What I am learning now is the collection of money from customers not standing in front of me.

So, I am working on my new sales platform. A coder, or a geek who works on computer problems is already laughing at my shuffling pace of getting started. But, I do know what I'm doing so far. And that is, I realized I do not need to understand how to set up a sales web site that tracks inventory and has a shopping cart.

What I am doing is not that sophisticated. In fact, no more so than when I dealt face to face with customers. I know a good many of you have found the new page, and may be disappointed it is empty.

When the instructions are up, they will ask you pick what you want from all the inventory listed and send me an email on an embedded email link. I will fill the orders in the order I receive them, as follows:

I will pull the items you want and send you an invoice. I will ask you to pay the invoice in a reasonable amount of time. For now, let's say a week. When I am notified you have paid, I will zip off the tab of your previously packed Tyveck  envelope, seal it and take it to the post office.

Tonight I am so tired I'm going to bed early. Here's the rest of story. Today we played cards, and Nancy and I won by what we think was a record score. Or, as she says, we're only as good as the cards we get. We had a lot of good cards, and a couple of those hands took a lot of concentration. I'm tired. Good night.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

I don't understand

Age can be about pain for a lot of us, I see. I do know the source of my extraordinary aches. My broken lumbar spine seems to be the radiating center of it all. Yes, I have osteoporosis. Yes, I smoked for more than fifty years. And lots of other things. It is what it is, end of story.

I visit a pain doctor. Actually, I visit his staff, and see the pain doctor once a year. The last time I saw the PA, I startled myself when I said pain was pretty much in hand; it is managed well enough and I am pleased. I don't think about it much, I guess.

Not long ago, though, discouragements commenced creeping in. Especially my knees. How I hate it when they are protesting loudly come morning. How I hate that I had babied them through the whole broken leg business, settled down, and now every morning I stand in one spot, waiting for the pain to subside.

And my shoulder. My lovely new, six month old reverse shoulder replacement, that has not been a minute's trouble. Except some morning it is my other shoulder, or both shoulders. And the ripples of pain down my back, like knuckles on a wash board.

I woke this morning, stretched the pieces parts, got up and started off. I moved slowly, but I did not lean on the wall and clutch door jams. I had my cane; I'll never be without it. But I was without debilitating pain.

When I came to open the curtains, the sun was blazing. I have no idea where the pain went this morning, so I'll credit the sunshine. I was out on the deck before breakfast. I went out and just stood and breathed in and out, half a dozen times today. The air was crisp and bright.

It's going on nine at night; the end of a very productive day. The cat already is sleeping on the end of the bed. I hear it has begun to rain. I just checked the weather. Actually, a wintry mix is falling. There will be snow by morning. Ah, well. It's weather. Nowhere to go tomorrow, and plenty to do.

Friday, November 22, 2019

The plan(s)

I will try to make a coherent outline of my little plan. I want to go back to selling what I weave.

At first I thought I would make the most down and dirty plan I could. Weaving is good. Sales tax, not good. Extra money is good. Income tax, not good. I won't waste our time spinning out my several improbable schemes. Do people even want to buy towels?

There are a few blogger friends to whom I've promised towels, hopefully sooner than later. I decided first, to test the waters. I put the towels into artist open studio events, with success. That bit of sales impelled me into an annual event in the township, the December Community Bazaar, the first Saturday of that month.

The Bazaar is a real commitment on my part. and meant I had to follow words with deeds. I asked my sister to come share the booth, with her quilts. There is no way I could make an attractive eight foot display of towels alone, but we have put together a decent plan, with some good private laughs from our years of expertise.

Sales tax! I had to resurrect my license, cancelled in another lifetime, when the house sold. I've helped my sister with her legal requirements often enough to know my state's electronic platform has been reinvented since I last used it. 

It was easy, peasy. Though I remembered little, I remembered the answers to the secret questions. Take that, brain injury. It makes me wonder what little nuggets float in your brain forever. I didn't wonder enough to investigate, however. So, if you live in Ohio and buy my towels, I will collect sales tax.

Then, to solve the biggest impediment to a sale, ready cash. Checks are fine, especially since I now know how to deposit them via my phone. Do you still carry checks? I don't. 

So, I now have a little credit card reader. Setting it up was not easy. The technicians called me in the afternoon or evening, when it is too easy to confuse my brain, especially with blue tooth. Yesterday, I called them, at nine a.m. It seems to be sorted, except I need to contact my sales representative to generate a new pin. 

That brings us smack dab to the present. What to do next, after the bazaar? 

I've toyed with web sites for sales. The long and short of that is, I don't want to maintain a web site. This month alone I spent an appalling number of hours simply retrieving my sales tax information.

No more do I have the easy resources, like accounting and inventory programs to gather up my sales and expense information. I must sit at the computer, not at the loom, and forego a game or two of solitaire because I must knock together a rudimentary P&L.

So, I will sell entirely on my blog. There are ways to do that, it turns out. You know, platforms that do everything. I need to look into them, understand them and how to use them. And I will do that. But I want to begin selling now, and have decided to do it the old fashioned way, the honor system.

After the Bazaar, on December 7th, I will add a For Sale page to my blog, and on it post photographs of every color towel for sale, and describe the additional cost, like applicable taxes and shipping.

If you want to purchase towels, send me an email, jnoragon at, listing the quantity and color. Then write the same information on a piece of paper, and mail it to me, along with your check for US$, or your credit card number. I will take the orders in email sequence.

When I get your email, I will pack your order, change the quantity available on the blog page, and wait for your payment information. When I get your check or card information, I will finish your order.

I will ship every Monday, and more often if as many as half a dozen orders accumulate.

And in my spare time, I will look into the various blogger add-on's that allow direct selling. In my mind, it is simple. But my mind is not always trustworthy, these days, and takes longer to learn. 

Thank you very much. The For Sale page will go live December 9, 2019.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Bad weather, but the kitchen is lovely

We had single digits overnight, and about the same forecast for tonight. I texted, then left a message for my snow shoveller, the same who knocked on my door last fall and reminded me he would like all the extra money he could earn, and please don't forget him when it snowed.

There were about four inches for his attention, all day yesterday, but as mentioned, he did not show up or let me know. So I carved a path to get to the car that needed cleared off, headlights to tail lights, and windshield not the least of it. Bah, Humbug!

Except for a 10:30 doctor appointment, I would have remained home. Since I had to be out, I took my grocery list. There are enough groceries on hand to last to next week, when it will be in the forties all week. But I needed a reward for getting off my deck this morning.

Swedish Apple Pie: Hilary made this when I visited her. Twice!

8 medium granny smith apples, peeled, sliced and cored
1 Tablespoon white sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled
1 cup white sugar
Pinch of salt
1 egg
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 F
Spray a pie plate with non stick spray and fill pie plate 3/4 full with sliced apples
Sprinkle apples with 1 Tablespoon white sugar and cinnamon mix
In a separate bowl, combine pecans, sugar, salt, flour
Combine melted butter, beaten egg and almond extract
With wooden spoon, mix wet ingredients into dry. Mix well.
Spread the mixture over apples, gently.
Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until crust is golden.
Serve warm or cold, with whipped cream or ice cream. Or nude.

The original recipe called for 3/4 cup melted butter and 1 teaspoon almond extract. Experiment as you will; the recipe cannot be ruined.

In addition to being totally out of apples, I was totally out of Stamppot. Linda recently told us how to make this. Perhaps not that recently, as I've run through two or three pounds of potatoes. I bought a five pound bag today, and they're in the potato drawer.

Kale Stamppot

Boil 3 large potatoes covered with chopped bunch of kale on top of the potatoes until potatoes are done and kale is steamed. Drain off the water. Mash the two together. In the meantime, cut 5 slices of bacon into bits and fry crisp. Pour bacon and grease over potatoes and stamp the entire pot together.

As you can tell by my refrigerator shelf, I've expanded beyond kale to stamp. Even better, in my opinion, is chard. I've added carrots. I've added onion and garlic to the bacon. In the grocery store this afternoon, I even added two turnips to my stash. Linda told me sauerkraut makes a lovely stamppot. 

This will keep me well into next week, waiting for the snow to melt.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Along for the ride

It's been eons since a road trip with my sister. Today I packed up the towels for delivery for Bonnie's studio open house, and opened my phone to maps to put in the address of the studio. Instead, I called my sister. She said she would "just eat this sandwich and jump in your car."

First, my driving. I go where I'm told. I have no sense of direction, I have not knowledge of where things are in relation to others. And yes, I drove twelve or fifteen thousand miles a year to art shows, and never was late, in twenty years. Including the pit stop for a new radiator, on the way to the Indianapolis Museum of Art.

Occasionally Jan said stay in this lane, or move over a lane. Then she said "exit here," on US224. I sprung to attention. "But the map program had me on 71!"

"Aren't we going to Seville?" she asked. I affirmed. Maphead (as I've called her for fifty years), said "well, then, we'll take 224." Don't ask me about the time she took a farm road between fields to reach a camp ground in Pennsylvania, "because this is the way we came ten years ago." She still was in her twenties, at the time.

She spent the trip down telling me about her difficulty in finding the repair man, among the several who maintain her quilting machine, who would focus in on the part she knew was the problem. One replaced everything in the thread path, one re-timed the machine to an inch of its life, one did I don't remember what. 

Yesterday, in desperation, she called Jerry, who maintained our machines back in the weaving days. She found him in and took the sewing head up to him in Cleveland. She had to wait an hour, and would have waited several. 

When he finished the problem he'd come into the shop for, and started on hers, he undid all the previous fixes, then announced the basket needed replaced.  "That's what I've told them!" Jan announced, relieved.  The basket is the part of any sewing machine that houses the bobbin. She knows how the machines work.

Already today she has been in her studio and quilted a small quilt, just to see that once again her machine quilts perfectly.

And on the way home we talked about my 'burning desire" (family joke) to open a web site to sell towels. An interesting desire, these days when I have no wholesale accounts for supplies and little hope of securing them. But, you never know. Our last business began as an acorn, too.

My plan is to contact my old computer guru and run my plan past him. I've researched several web site hosts; I wonder if he will think I have found the best of them.

Photo opportunities these last several years have been botched by my stays in rehab facilities. So today I detoured after dropping Jan back home, to see what is left.

Here is the interlaced arch over Truxell. I am way too late this year.

Here is an oak, a little further along the road, and not yet bare. And here is the outcome of my plan to overwinter a mandevilla, or three:

I do not have enough windows suitable for situating any mandevilla. My helpers reminded me mandevilla and cat do not mix. I briefly consulted my phone, and learned the two emerging and half frozen Gerbera daisy buds would not harm my cat. That is fortunate, because as leaves turn crisp and can be broken away, Toby does.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

How about Don, Jr.

Today's wake up headline was Don, Jr. exposing the whistle blower. How low can they go? Eventually I worked my way to the studio to work on towels, and saw this cartoon on my Christmas present calendar last year, from Ann.

I didn't like beards fifty odd years ago, when they were the insignia of the dad in New Yorker's cartoon.  I think the current sprouting of dark facial hair is now, as then, indicative of a lazy turn of mind and disinclination to find a neater way to avoid shaving.

And if junior Trump is listening, your facial hair turns my stomach. So did your face.

The suppression of the revelation by two of the major news sources notwithstanding, I got down to work. I would have set to work in any event, and actually was very pleased that ABC and NBC flipped off a Trump.

Delivery of my towels is scheduled for Sunday. I have the loom wound on again, and the second batch of towels set to come off tomorrow. Today I hemmed a lovely pile of melon colored towels. Warm, summer cantelope. The towels to be off tomorrow are lilac.

I've spent part of the week playing. After thirty plus years in this town, I went to my Methodists' election day dinner. I invited Lynn and Jim, who were seated across from a couple who also attend E.J. Thomas musicals, but who they had not met. I sat across from Sig, who worked for the road department when I started. How much I learned about roads from Sig and Tim, the road super. It was a great meal on all accounts.

It was a very good election, too. For the third consecutive year, Trump failed to produce the votes he promised.  Enough of that for now, back to towels tomorrow.

Saturday, November 2, 2019

A trip of inspiration

The only thing I do as quickly as anyone else is drive! That came to me the other day: how fortunate I've refused to lose my edge, on that score, at least.

I took a tiny trip mid week, to meet another weaver and share what we know. I could have left an hour earlier, for even though we live in the same time zone, Hilary lives almost on the eastern edge and I live almost on the western edge. The sun sets an hour earlier over her studio!

Hilary has a blog, Crazy as a Loom, and is commencing a web site by the same name. In truth, she's had the web site since forever, and has made the giant leap of faith to upgrade, and learn how to use it best. She is a weaver beyond my ken; I am in absolute awe of her sixteen harness work. Her blog goes to the web site; click on through the throws, capes and drapes, mobieus work, reversibles!

My biggest impression, if I had to name one, is her wild and crazy. She has not lost that edge, in spite of her damaged brain. I wanted so much to meet her and see her studio, but was so hesitant about the steps and her dogs. "We'll have a good time; come on," she said, one banged up brain to another. She was absolutely right; we did.

There are no pictures, for I left my phone charger on the chair at home. But Hilary sent me away with a little wall hanging that expresses her controlled crazy to me.

Mr. YouKnowWho spent the time at the spa, and didn't have a haircut. He may need to go back for that. He's leaving blobs of hair everywhere. However, this year I am totally capable of bending over to pick them up. Toby seems happy. I see no reason to go soon.

So, back to my studio and those utilitarian towels I'm decent at. The next studio open house is the 16/17th and 23/24th of this month, with delivery of goods the 10th. That's a week from tomorrow.