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

Monday, June 8, 2020

A very good day

I had an email today from an old friend who's still gainfully employed. We last exchanged news in March, just as the current brouhaha took up the world's attention. I was weaving today, and my phone dinged and dinged, and finally I took a break and took a look. An old friend and a nice surprise. A visit in the near future is set up, and only waits me taking care of some details. Good news.

Several months ago, about the time John (above) and I last corresponded, I ordered a watch that claimed it would measure my pulse, temperature and sleep, and ten or fifteen other things. I mailed off my order and credit card number and waited. Then Covid-19 came oozing around every corner. That watch would be a good thing to have, I thought, and waited some more.

First, an email from the supplier in China, informing me my country was putting mighty restrictions on imports from his country, and be patient. And I was, until about a month ago, when the watch arrived. It was indeed a lovely thing. With instruction on a folding sheet of paper an inch wide and ten feet long. I was game, and struggled on. But in a day or so, even I understood the pretty thing's great shortcomings. 

It charged from the computer. Supposedly it retained a charge several days. However, the attachment to the phone was so tenuous it often disconnected, and I could not tell how charged it might be. The watch band was a stylish mesh, but could not be made small enough for my wrist. Between the poor instructions, poor charging and too large strap, I said "Enough" and asked for return instructions.

The return requirements were close to insurmountable, but I did fall off the turnip ship long before they were born. I accumulated all the paperwork, repacked the watch meticulously, boxed it up, paperwork enclosed, and sent it off to...Spain. Yesterday being the one month anniversary of returning the watch, I left them a wake up email to credit my card or else. In return I was asked, in exquisite Chinese politeness, to provide all the information previously supplied. And I told them where to look for it, and to credit me by Friday, or else. I do have a New York credit card, fools.

And back on the front porch, I wonder if I see a zinnia in the pot of lettuce. Could be.

The mandevillas I did so hard by are coming round. I didn't take a picture of the red one. The reds are very easily upset, and though the leaves came through the freeze in great shape, it intends to punish some time more, withholding flowers.

The pink mandevilla, always prolific in the past, has set many buds sure to open this week. Or next.

The white, always my favorite in the past, took the worst damage by not being covered adequately. It lost all it's stems but two, and I doubt it will be able to flower this summer. But, it's doing its job and growing, growing, growing.

And finally, I cut off two of the spent allium blossoms, and left one to add sculpture to the pot of flowers. One of the two blossoms had a sort of bubble gum deposit at it's base. I'd guess it is some sort of moth or fly, hatched or not. Well, it's land fill this week.

Saturday, June 6, 2020

A day without electricity does not start well

I went to bed late, and have done so too many nights in a row. This morning I gave in and turned off the alarm. Back to sleep. Then my phone began chattering. Strangled ringing noises. I sat straight up and it was 8:20 in the a.m. according to my atomic clock.

Groan, groan, groan, I sat up and resolved to get up, at least to see what was on the mind of the phone. Bathroom first, and the flush sounded a little whishy. Washy, even. Flipped the light switch. Nothing. Nada. Nil. No way to start a belated day.

Water in the pitcher, and I could rinse my teeth. I dressed even more slowly than usual, right up to nine, when I called my sister. We can be sure she was up at six, and probably even at McDonalds for breakfast.

"What's the phone number for Ohio Edison?"

"I don't know; can't you look on your bill?"

"I haven't had an electric bill for ten years. Nor a phone book."

"Oh! I'll look on my phone and call you back."

She did that, and now Ohio Edison is among my contacts. I called to report the outage. The entire transaction was handled by an automated voice that knew all the right answers. Except one. My line would be repaired by ten a.m., June 6th. I even looked at my phone calendar to be sure of the date, since ten a.m. was half an hour down the line.

Around eleven I called my neighbor. Cathy was out of power, too, the difference between us only that she has been up since seven, She actually saw the power quit as she left to go shopping, and called in the outage then. When she called for an update, noon was the expected return to service.

So, I took care of the cat, slowly. By ten it was apparent there would be no toast for breakfast. This truly was the worst part of the day. Bread and butter and peanut butter are an awful substitute.

The I took the vacuum to the porch, to empty. Why waste a canister of cat hair on the land fill when I can give it to so many sparrows for nests. No power yet, so I got the scissors and cut another canister of cat hair from around the brush roller. The joys of a long, long hair cat.

The view over the banister. When I was through with the cat hair, I snipped the spent buds, so more can bloom another day.

Still no power, so I took to weaving. Just like a forebearer. Take that, Ohio Ed. I still can weave!

The clock on the studio wall made an attention getting noise. Probably like a cell phone ringing in the concert hall. Definitely the sound of the second hand going tic-tic-tic.

Time to run the vacuum. That takes me a long time, cane in one hand, vacuum in the other, shifting the damn cord. But, I got done, well into the afternoon. The cat was amused.

"Foolish woman!" Little does he know, on June 24th he will visit the vet, to be updated and certified. Then on July 1st, he will visit the groomer. I specified number 4 clippers this time.
Foolish cat.