Wednesday, January 29, 2020

On the road again, with Ruth

A while back I took a load of books to my daughter, convalescing at her mother-in-law's house. Beth's biggest amusement that day was her mother and her mother-in-law syncing calendars, to arrange their annual days out.

Today was the Cleveland Botanical Gardens annual orchid display. Every year the display has a theme, and this year it was orchids of Vietnam. Ruth also has a date to go with Francis.

Orchids are pretty much orchids to me, so here is my pick of the best of today.

That jade tree behind the ribbon is descended from our brother, Melvin, and nurtured to mammoth size by my sister Janice. The last time we wrassled it out the front door to be repotted, I suggested to Jan it probably was the last trip through the front door and we should consider donating it to the Botanical Gardens. And we did.
I last saw it four years ago.

Then we started around. I have culled down to pictures of interest. 

Orchids, birds and butterflies were everywhere. Pass on the bananas, but the melon looks mighty fine.

Here the turtle is late to lunch. We quit waiting for him.

This is the avenue of fragrant orchids. Ruth tested them. Some did smell nice. My nose closed, half a dozen down.



A Christmas Cactus like I grew up with.

Then we went upstairs, and I fell prey to my best habit of people watching. In my next life, I will again have hair like the woman in black. Heck, I'll even settle for the woman in wellies.

When we stepped off the elevator and passed the young girl in black, I said to Ruth, "I had identical trousers in college," and Ruth said, "They are vintage! Did you see the little pleats at the waist?"

She was in the same spot when we left, so of course we told her our observations on her trousers. Her face lit up. "My mom will be so pleased. She gave them to me!" No, I did not reach over and stroke them. They were of that fine, light wool I've not seen since the sixties!

And finally, we looked at all the specialty orchids. This is the one we both picked to take home. Dendrobium something or the other.

Monday, January 27, 2020

Tools and towels

A couple of years ago my stocking had a funny gift. It's the oval, black doodad in the picture.

I was told its an illuminating magnifying glass, for reading the concert program in dim light, or for reading a menu in a posh restaurant. How funny. 

It hung out on my dresser until the last set of towels, when I could not associate the thread with the color patch. I went straight for the illuminating device. When I pull open at the oval, an led light comes on and superbly illuminates whatever is being magnified. Doing those things to a thread strand makes it very easy to mate the thread to a color swatch.

My next set of towels will be with that acid green. The last towels of the warp wooshed out of here so quickly I didn't mention they happened.  The purple are completely gone. In fact, here is the state of my inventory shelf:

Left to right, lime, cream, cerise, yellow-orange (melon, in my opinion), khaki, yellow and periwinkle.

At quitting time tonight, only three bouts remained to be tied on. I'm looking forward to that new green, which has a far nicer name than acid, I know. I'll look tomorrow.

Friday, January 24, 2020

A short story

There generally is a pie bird sitting in the frying pan on the back of my stove. It's a lovely pie bird, and I wish I knew more about it. I do know why it's special to me.

I leave the little frying pan on the stove because it's most generally used. I must use two hands to deal with the rest of my cast iron. This one, though heavy, is manageable, and big enough for whatever I am usually frying up.

Four years ago, when the big house sold, I moved to the trailer park with Laura and Blake (nee Emily). I had everything to start housekeeping except kitchen ware. I intended to go shopping at our local thrift store for a kitchen table, pots and pans.

My weaver friend, Linda, said I could scavenge the downstairs apartment of her house for whatever I needed. Her mother, Alberta, had lived there since the two of them moved from New York, but now Alberta was in Florida, with her youngest daughter.

Linda was exhibiting at Boston Mills, a local art show, the weekend we moved, and I called her several times to verify it was OK to take what I took, which included Linda's depression era enamel kitchen table that she and her roommates had used through college. 

Alberta left two little things I have always wished were mine. A little red glass bird, that now hangs in my kitchen window. And a pie bird! If I could have only one, it would be the pie bird. But Linda said, "Take them both!", and so I did.

Linda was staying with us at the old house, a block away, that weekend, and came over to see our arrangement of the little trailer. She was pleased with the arrangement of Alberta's kitchen and dining ware in the new trailer. A gift well placed.

As for the pie bird: it has E. B. Vena painted in precise letters on its front inside edge. When I google that, together with 'pie bird', I get back more pie birds, similarly decorated. I cannot get past that, so I know no more.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Central Command - a short short

Much as I like cooking, there are countless drawbacks, and the two worst of them involve arthritis of the hands and crushed vertebrae of the lower spine. 

The faster I'm off my feet, the better the back. But my hands don't work quickly and efficiently, like the old days. Worse yet, thinly sliced whatever comes out great chunks. So does finely chopped.

I've tried some "solutions". My sister gave me a beautiful knife that must be hand washed, its tempered steel is that sensitive. I can't control it well enough for fast chopping, and even drove the tip of it across a pad of my palm. Fortunately I learned butterfly bandages way back in Y Camp.

I bought something with sharp plastic blades to push against the chopees. Exhausting and ineffectual. I used to have a little bladed machine that whipped through onions and stuff. I couldn't make it work, so I sent it home with Laura. My hands might be strong enough now, but, damn, they hurt.

Internet perusal led me to a little machine like that, only people powered, no cord involved. The reviews were rave or bah-humbug. The bah's were mostly that it had to be hand washed and it's too complicated to understand. 

That's it, back there with the red handle. I like it well enough to give it a semi permanent place on the counter. The handle looks like a game controller.

Last night I decimated two scallions, white then green, four cloves of garlic and a half a cup of finely diced onions. When I cleaned up after supper, I rinsed all the parts of my chopper and left it draining on the counter.

I did cut myself! It came with blade guards on the three blades. I jammed the back edge of the first blade guard removal well into my thumb. I'm still wearing that butterfly bandage.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow

I understand why people have such enormous television sets! Yesterday I settled down to watch Frankie and Grace, on a TV I have found large enough for at least fifteen years. It has a fifteen or seventeen inch screen. I don't remember, except it's measured diagonally. I never saw need to give a monster place in my living room, until now.

In the past the screen held all the information I needed. But now, the screen is divided and subdivided with bits of information stashed in the subdivisions, too small to read. And I have good bifocals!

I've been up and off on a timely basis for the last couple of weeks. Not more covers over the head 'for just a minute'! That doesn't work and we know it. I've managed to quit it, for the time being.

Every day this week I've been to the post office, but not when school is done. I wrote to the superintendent of the school this school is in affiliation with. They seem interested in resolving the problem:

Good Evening, Joanne,

I spoke with our Head- of-School about the Post Office drive being blocked by cars in our pick-up line at the end of the school day. A request to keep the entrance and exit to the building will go home in a newsletter to our families this Friday. Hopefully that will rectify the situation.

Have a nice evening!

I'm very near the end of my warp. The beam is full of a lot of periwinkle and a half dozen purple, left over from my fabric experiment.

The end sticking up is from a join, one bobbin to another. Sometimes an end escapes, and I have to weave it back in.  

Today I wove several bobbins of natural on the natural warp. I always end a warp with natural towels. Starting a color would be wasteful, and I couldn't bring myself to do it, even when I gave away towels.

All this went through the washer and dryer tonight, and tomorrow I'll begin making towels. When I finish the warp, I'll begin turning a new warp onto the back beam. That should take much of next week.

But mostly, this week will be towels.

Monday, January 20, 2020

Can't even snow right

It rained not too long ago. It sounded like wet, cold bad news, and it was. 

For the first time since the bus accident, I felt like knitting. I think because I looked down and saw my sock toe needed repair, sooner than later, I felt sock darning coming over me. I only do that in front of the TV, and I still won't pay forty dollars a month to watch HGTV and knit and darn socks.

I can't blame it on Google, it's more like the mind of Chrome. I truly do not understand how alternate programming works. I googled, of course, and got a chart comparing Netflix and Hulu and other unimportant things. Ever since, little nibbles for Hulu and Netflix have been floating by. When I had Netflix for Laura, it was ten dollars a month. Now it's eight ninety five. I bought it.

Then I was dead in the water for several days because I could not get down and plug in the power bar.

In the meantime, that rain turned into slush, and kept on and on until it turned into snow, and kept on and on, all day Saturday and half of Sunday.

In the meantime, my friend Linda, who's getting a new knee on Thursday, called me Sunday, after church. Some time ago she was given a list of equipment to purchase. I recommended she purchase nothing. It was the same list I followed when I broke my foot, leg and shoulder, one, two, three. She was welcome to come shopping in my shed for anything she wanted to borrow.

But my deck was in no shape for trodding, and I called Donny. No answer. No service. That man has a new phone weekly, but never gets around to telling customers the new number. So I went out, grabbed a snow shovel and attempted to move the layer of snow and ice. Nothing happened. Head down, shoulders hunched, I tried and tried and tried.

Then a young man I had not seen approaching said "Can I help you?"

He cleaned this frozen slush mess from the deck, the steps, the car. He pulled up both wipers. I went out with some bills rolled up and asked him to take them "No, no. I'm just paying it forward." And I put it in his jacket pocket and told him I was paying it forward too, to his truck down the road.

And all went off that day. Nancy borrowed my walker and other things, and her husband plugged in my power bar.

And come evening, I sat down to investigate Netflix. I couldn't get off the Roku screen, which is my streaming device. Don't ask me.
 I called Netflix, and after following some button pushing instructions, the technician said "Perhaps your Roku remote needs new batteries." A job for the next day, today.

I looked out this morning at four new inches of snow. I took a shower.

I ate breakfast. I put on clothes to go out and shovel snow, as I did not get Joseph's number.

I opened the door and a slip of paper blew in from the screen door.

And so, I spent my morning weaving, went to cards, lost happily, stopped at the hardware store and bought salt and triple A batteries for the Roku transmitter.

I started watching Grace and Frankie. I made myself quit! My knitting is in another room, and I need to figure out how Netflix works, and then I'll watch it. Thirty days for free. WooHoo.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

What goes around does not always come around

Once, and for a long time, there was a public elementary school in Peninsula, across the street from the post office. For the most part, they rubbed along, amicably. How could they not, you ask? Well, parents of elementary students sometimes had as much self-control as their children, and thought nothing of commandeering the post office parking lot for important events in the lives of their children, like Christmas concerts, spring graduations, spring concerts, grandparent lunch days, and so forth and so on.

Posting notices to please not use the post office lot for overflow parking did not work; on the whole these parents seemed not to use the post office. So Sue, the Postmaster, took to posting signs outside. Eventually they had to include the threat of ticketing and towing, but grammar school parents learned to parallel park on the adjacent street, and taxpayers could again use the post office.

Then the school district completed its jillion dollar plan, and moved the elementary school to the educational campus on the old Quick Orchard. The building did not stay empty, no indeed. The elementary school building was sold to the Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy, which opened the Heritage Classical Academy, preschool through sixth grade.

The Academy opened a year ago. A year ago I seldom used the post office, so the resurgence of rude behavior went unnoticed by me. Until a recent Monday. I played cards, from one to three. I did not go home; I continued on to the post office, with towels to mail. I turned from Riverview to Bronson, to a dead halt in a line of traffic to turn into the school, two blocks away.  Not to worry; they would not block the entrance to the post office, I decided, and proceeded cautiously up the hill.

Well, yes they would! I “double stopped” next to the car behind the post office drive. When the blockage car cleared, that car surely would notice my right turn blinker and let me in. Wrong. She pulled up to block the drive. I pulled beside her, rolled down my passenger window, to let out maximum noise, and blew the horn loudly. Eventually she cautiously glanced over. I extended my left index finger and stroked it a few times with the right. Surely any elementary school parent recognized the universal “Shame On You” notation. She looked away.

I made as much engine and brake noise as possible in half a block, turned right onto Emerson and right into the post office exit. I said to the nice young man, in the slew of turnover since Postmaster Sue, “Is your drive often blocked by parents at pick up time?”

“Oh, yes. They do it all the time.”

“You need a ‘Do Not Block Drive’ sign,” said I. “I’ll call the mayor.” And I came home.

I was barely in the door and my phone rang, with a call from a Restricted Number. I wonder how they do that?

The caller identified himself as The Mayor. “My god, that got through town awfully fast!” said I.

The Mayor said he actually wanted to talk business with me, but was mighty curious about what went through town so fast. I explained the rude young parent problem; he promised to bring up the sign to the Planning Commission, and now, he would like to ask me if I would be interested in the position of Fiscal Officer.
And I told him, had he asked me last June, when I was casting about for something meaningful to do again, I very likely would have told him “Yes.”

“But now, I have a job I like very much.”

Oh, the irony. I was the township fiscal officer for thirteen years, until the accident in DC.  What goes around does not always come around. Hopefully excepting curing elementary school parents of rudeness.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Michigan and necromancy

I have a friend who has a friend since childhood, who has let bad decisions mold her mind. She has drifted to waiting for the rapture. She begs her friend to join her, and not be left behind. Trump is prominent in the present and future of the childhood friend's thinking.

My friend truly fears for the sanity of her friend, for the future of her children. A few months ago, knowing my friend would see her friend shortly, I took a deep breath and asked my friend to ask her friend, directly, why she considers Trump a biblical character of intangible power.

And her friend's husband joined in and said Trump's power over their 401K says all. For four years it has risen, as promised.

This morning I listened to NPR's Morning Edition, interviewing Michigan residents, in conjunction with Trump signing the first phase of his trade deal with China. In the last presidential election, Trump took Michigan, a first for a Republican since H.W. in 88. 

There was a lot of talk of the hundreds of thousands who threw away their vote on a third party candidate rather than vote for a woman; that useless woulda, coulda, shoulda talk.  The main point was, Michigan is energized to elect a Democrat as president. 

Except Detroit. It seems Detroit remains a crap shoot. Its population is decimated, and those remaining seem apportioned between haves and have nots. The later still live in substandard housing, have substandard city services, have borderline jobs. And the former watch their 401K's climb.

Personally, I feel we all are treading black treacle every day. Hang on; we go to the polls in November.

Another day in the sixties, but descending to thirty some degrees for the rest of the week. Whenever I go past, I look closely at my pots for signs of bulbs popping up. In spite of the weather, nothing.

Well, one of two things. One, my bulbs have followed the calendar, not the weather, and are hibernating until spring. Two, my bulbs have become fertilizer.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Word to the wise: no jumping jacks

Busy day, busy day. Sitting here, twelve hours later, trying to remember why. I forget things that quickly now! I began the morning stripping my bed and starting the laundry. Then I cut towels and began hemming.

Hemming involves stabilizing each end on the serger before the rolled hem with the sewing machine. Three times a thread knot did not traverse the tension plates and broke the thread. Once a looper thread, which is a bottom needle and twice the inside upper needle. Grrrr. However, I rethreaded the machine myself. Peacock towels are up!

A month or so ago my oldest daughter was leading her team at work in a "Health Day" activity. A round of jumping jacks was an activity, and Beth, for the team, was jumping and clapping, and popping her knee. "Taking it easy" for several days did not improve the discomfort, disintegrating to outright pain. Some more time passed finding a specialist, arranging hospital time, blablabla.

Last week was surgery, and currently she's hanging out at Ruth's, on one floor, pending follow-up with the surgeon tomorrow. Her current advice: don't do jumping jacks, even for the team!

This brace has one more segment; you can see the buckle under her lovely turquoise trousers.

Ruth and I did amuse Beth, consulting our calendars and making dates for the Orchid Mania at the Cleveland Botanical Gardens and the annual quilt show at Lake Metropark. Discussing where we would meet and where we would lunch caused Beth some great amusement, and we didn't begrudge her.

Some time ago I gave Ruth a fleece I could not use, and was sure she could use. Today I thought to take a picture of it, in front of her fireplace.

The fleece is a Romney, from a Romney sheep. She calls it Mitt.

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Before I move this to the Good Ideas page

I cannot remember how long ago I made this shirt. I made two of them, and gave one away to an incredibly thin twelve year old. So, I made another shirt, not much larger. This fits me, and would fit better if I opened the side seam more.

I wove the fabric for this after the TBI, back when casting about for what to do with myself. I thought I'd go back to weaving funky clothing for the gallery in town. That's when I learned my funky is gone, and I'm through looking for it. So, I'm offering the shirt for sale, along with more handwoven fabric.

Each length of fabric is composed of the same number of the same colored threads, arranged in a different order. The top piece is woven off in the light brown. The bottom piece is woven off in a light purple. 

The thread weights are 8/2 and 10/2, which are quite light weight. The "hand" of each fabric is wonderful, if I say so myself. So, now I will post this on Good Ideas, and get back to regular blogging business tomorrow.

Monday, January 6, 2020

You are my sunshine

I didn't get the name, but Sunshine was around all day. I opened the door to leave and was quite blinded. I fished in my purse for my sunglasses, first time this year. Mr. You Know Who didn't even notice I left. Stupefied, I guess.

This isn't winter. I wonder when or if it will begin; if it does, how bad will it be. When it does, how long will it last; when will spring begin.What the hell is going on?

I remember walking our mile round trip on the old road, and mom saying "This certainly has been an open winter. Not good for the trees." In my very early fifties at the time, I needed "open winter" explained to me. A warm weather winter, with minimal or no snow fall. She knew of such winters from her farming stock relatives and ancestors. Open winters in her lifetime, 1918 to 1997, were rare, and happened in her later years.

Weather is on so many minds. The burning in Australia is unspeakable to us discussing it at Monday cards in northeastern Ohio; unbearable to a resident of Australia. We did agree how fortunate we are to live in this heavily wooded section of the state, instead of the burning in our west, or in Australia.

I've been busy this week, and not all weaving or sewing. My neighbor Cathy got a flu shot last fall, and is a sick as she has been the last three or four years. The first fall and winter I lived here, Laura and I used to carry a plate of dinner to her house, she was that sick. I took her to Emergency last night, and she has an appointment with her primary tomorrow, to get to the bottom of this.

And back in the studio, I got the cerise towels hemmed and on the shelf. My biggest problem was remembering where I had stored the sewing machine needles when I moved. I have added the cerise remnant to the dark stack, on the Good Ideas page. Here are the cerise towels.

On the loom, peacock towels. I may be hemming them by next weekend.

Driving into Peninsula early this morning, I passed a turquoise car. Interesting. Driving to cards in the afternoon, I came out of my park behind...wait for Alpha Romeo. I followed it all the way to town. And coming home, the waxing moon in a turquoise sky.

Saturday, January 4, 2020

The Pie

I went to town this morning, in drizzling rain. Cold, drizzling, if you want to count forties cold. We'll even be above fifty this week.

The climate is happening too fast. I think we need to fix terra firma before we colonize Mars. I also think, it won't be my problem. I'll just keep eating root veggies and beans, and recycling. My trash would be a bag a month if I weren't scooping kitty litter. One little brown paper bag a day of litter fills my trash can by week's end. 

Oh, and I still eat bacon, but only half a pound a month. And I could quit that, maybe.

So where was I? Drizzling rain, and looking for the heron at the pond. I've seen it (I just backspaced through 'him', though I'm real sure he's a him) several times these last six months. The golf course is looking really skanky these days, but no heron, no incentive to stop in the drizzling rain for a picture.

I had a big afternoon ahead of me, clearing out last year's files, shredding, new files. When I came in from the drizzling rain, I looked at the bowl of apples and resolved, after lunch, The Pie.

That recipe claims to take an hour and a half of one's precious time, and an entire hour is devoted to baking. This time around I did limit myself to six apples, but it takes me half an hour, plus to peel six apples. Eventually I put it in the oven.

In an hour I put it on the counter, to cool. It smelled as good cooling for another couple of hours as it did baking.

I can tell you, any little bits of crust that chip off should be approached cautiously. They remain at three hundred odd degrees for longer than a few seconds there on the rack.

Thursday, January 2, 2020

Creme stix restraint

I will confess I ate two creme sticks on Tuesday, when I bought them, and was simultaneously distraught by the unexpected, by me, blast of winter. Apparently those with talking heads on TV's were aware, and those of us who rely on little mute snowflakes on our weather app were in wait and see mode. If we even noticed the little snowflake.

On the second creme stick I discovered the great nine second rule. At the end of that little delight I told myself I remained annoyed enough to eat the remaining two on the spot, or at least by bed time, but a nine second creme stick deserved more respect.

And so, yesterday there were two in the box, and today there was one left for my excellent lunch. During the nine second wait I even looked on the bottom of the container, saw it was recyclable plastic and put it in the appropriate container. I don't always do that with plastic, because we have single stream recycle. I don't understand it, though I was personally responsible for getting it on board.

After lunch I even took a picture of it's nine second self. I'm confident merely devouring them would have left not a trace. Except you know....

I have gone to my knees begging my computer guru to get into the guts of my computer and deal with the malware hitch on a blogger's site. He promised to do it Tuesday. Sigh. I just sent another email.

With my accountant's encouragement, I returned to rudimentary bookkeeping. She may shed tears laughing when I turn in my books later this month. I bought a black, three column, hard bound book. I poised my pen to head two columns, one Dr and one Cr.  Then I said Fuck No, and wrote $In and $Out. That really is all it's about!

Starting with the Open Gallery last May, I have faithfully recorded $In and $Out. I've tallied each page and carried the balance forward. At the end of the year (and I hope you notice that was barely a day away), I began tossing all those $Out into appropriate baskets. 

I don't have many. CGS, Office Cost, Postage Out, Freight In, Bank card, Sales Tax. And I'm off $20.68, at the end of the year. I opened the book last night, for another go. But all those $Out items are neatly ticked off now. In the very olden days, when I had to keep a very similar General Ledger, I'd use a dot the second time through. But back then I also had a printing calculator. 

So, I ordered a printing calculator. A small one, and two extra rolls of 2 1/4 inch tape.  It will not arrive until Friday. So I read blogs and went to bed. Today I wove all morning (actually less than two hours), until lunch and blog writing.  Now it's 2:15 in the P. I am off to weave until supper and some more Bill Bryson. I'd mention where I have laughed my way to, except maybe some have not read it, and those of you who have did not spoil it for me.

If I get tired of weaving, I have another apple pie to bake. Or, mac and cheese. Cards on Monday, and Cathy and I are off to see Just Mercy soon. 

So remember, nine seconds on those creme stix.