Friday, May 28, 2021

Dear Mr. Bigwig

I just sent another email to New Jersey, this one specifically to Mr. Bigwig. On Wednesday I finished loading several days of dirty dishes to the dishwasher, put in the soap and closed the door. It did not engage; the dishwasher did not start.

The next morning I notified Theresa, the site manager, and hearing nothing from her, texted Dan. From the grapevine I learned that Dan is instructed to have all of Hudson Estates mowed, and probably weed wacked, as well as Ravenna, the other mobile home park owned by UMH in Ohio, before the visit of the Bigwig next Tuesday.

The grapevine and I figure this is all about the refinancing of the properties that I may have mentioned, back when Theresa rang my door bell, walked right in and began filming the interior, while using her sweetest voice to say "I just love the interior of this unit, so simple and sweet." Then she left. No by your leave and certainly no twenty four hour notice of entry.

So I sent an email to Mr. Bigwig, and told him I sincerely doubted Ms. Theresa will bring him by Cedar 28, sweet and simple as it is, for fear of a sink of dirty dishes. I did use the opportunity to mention, one more time, that I still have no grass, only clods and weeds.

It is pouring rain today. Here is the rain dropped red Mandevilla, through a rain streaked window. For the weekend the forecast is the same, cold and rain. Monday looks a bit improved. That is good; what have we done to lose a third annual holiday to fate? Last year was a clunking dud; the year before that we loaded ourselves on my porch and ate pizza. The pandemic was good conversation then. 

Now half the adults of this country are fully vaccinated, and the ones too lazy to make an appointment are being enticed with stadium drive throughs and million dollar drawings. We are such a strange breed of "rugged independence".

And one more thing! What is one thing America might do on Memorial Day? Look over a neighbor's new car. One of these admirers is my neighbor. The rest probably are husbands whose lunch awaits.

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Another day of fun...

I began reading Nomadland this morning, at breakfast. Very interesting from the beginning, and I pushed my empty plate aside and kept reading. Suddenly I said "Oh, damn, I need to get Laura!" and in an old lady like way jumped straight up from my chair. Simultaneously the thirty minute calendar warning chimed, and reminded me of Laura so often  saying "Time to leave" when the chime went off.  I left.

Laura had warned me there was exciting news, but I would remain in anticipation until we met again. So, with Laura and her laundry loaded, I said "Spill the beans, kid!" and she did.

Her gardening "clients" have retained her services with the arrival of spring. At one of the homes, the client sat on the front steps and had a chat with Laura, along the lines of why isn't a nice girl like you back in school? Laura rejoined with the Paul Mitchell Cosmetology course she hoped to take in the fall. 

The client, who is affiliated with the University of Akron said a staff member was having trouble finding students for her grant program that begins mid June, summer semester. Laura has been in a whirlwind application and document submission state the last several days. Her job on returning this afternoon was to secure her student ID access and follow her application through the process at Akron U.

All of the above notwithstanding, I put her through our usual routine today. And also, for Weave, the last two leaves separated from my amaryllis bulb, so Laura put it on a closet shelf, put a paper bag over it, and I'll give it a couple of months before I start thinking about my next move.

Laura also washed the platter that held the amaryllis and my rock collection. All the rocks were washed, too; the first time I watered the amaryllis I overwatered and put brown silt on all. I would have had her wash the rocks anyway, just to watch her arrange them on the tray.

First, a large stone in each corner, to anchor, I believe. Then a border of light, dark around, then interesting others in the middle, and the small crystals scattered about.

She and Toby had a bit of a go, before Laura went for the vacuum. That was Toby's cue to find high ground.

We left to take Laura back to Kent just as the rain began. I saw one other photogenic house in her neighborhood. I do like this one. It is quite large, in the cross gable style.


Monday, May 24, 2021

Suzanne Simard, Mother Tree

I must leave in an hour or so to pick up a prescription, and especially to leave two large bags of accumulated cast-off's at the VFW station. Casting about for a little time filler, I went out to water the plants. To my joy, it seems to have rained overnight; the very air smells like damp dirt. I smelled it in until I was saturated!

Some time ago I mentioned a book I was reading, Finding the Mother Tree. Suzanne Simard grew up in a logging family in the Pacific northwest, and reading her story of her history immediately evoked the other logging and mettle classic, Sometimes a Great Notion. Simard grew up instinctively understanding the interconnectedness of the great fir and birch forests her family had logged and cultivated for two centuries.

Her understanding of the interconnectedness of trees grew, built on her successive degrees, from a biology under graduate degree to a PhD in interspecific carbon transfer in ectomycorrhizal tree species mixtures. In fir and birch forests, the two trees transfer carbon dioxide, nutrients and news throughout the year. When logging clear cuts are replaced by a new species of tree, intended to grow faster and better, that result does not occur and untold acres of bare earth blow away, wash away, yield scrub bushes rather than acres of replacement lumber and paper.

Simard learned literally from the ground up, measuring the transfer of carbon and nutrients between coniferous and deciduous in countless documented parcels of land, maintained and measured for ten, twenty, thirty years. Her work caused the Canadian government to revise its policy on clear cuts and replanting, to avoid the previous disasters and foster healthy replacement forests.

The heavy reading of nutrient exchanges, carbon transfers, electrical movement through synapses is lightened by the inclusion of Simard's life story throughout, including a terrible trip through breast cancer. She accumulated a vast network of students she involved, colleagues who supported her, and audiences she converted as she overcame a deep shyness and difficulty in speaking over men who refused to understand the trees needed understanding.

Every forest talks among itself, helps other trees become established, shares information about trouble and success. There are many stands of Mother Trees, that are the hub of the vast underground communication network. Simard has a web site; I've included the link.

Thursday, May 20, 2021

What I did today

I woke up a little before the usual eight in the morning, and got up because there was much to do. Took a shower, then rooted in my closet for decent clothes to spend the day out. 

Next the cat, who knows the household order of business, and herded me down to his empty bowl. I always clean his box after that; his nose is in the food and can't boss me around any more.

I put in a load of laundry.

Then, my breakfast. It's the meal I enjoy most in every day. It's oatnut toast with butter and jam and coffee, and always so good.  No lingering today; I had a full schedule.

Take out the trash, water the plants, leave for the dentist. It used to be an hour drive to Dr. Kate, but long closed freeways have been "improved" and opened, and it's more than half an hour now, but not much.

Fortunately I left with plenty of time to spare, as I went east on the connecting freeway, and had to backtrack. Eastbound is to come home!

I see Dr. Kate's favorite tooth is on the screen, that molar after the implant. Bone mass is dwindling and she is concerned. I'm not, yet. Over this long, cold epidemic winter, Dr. Kate sent an offer, I assume to all her patients. She offered us "dental insurance", if we had none, and I've never carried dental insurance. 

For about $250, as I recall, she offered two cleanings, one set of annual x-rays, and a 10% discount on any work over the year. I accepted happily, and realized it probably was also her clever ploy to pay her employees and keep the lights on until until the crisis passed.

My schedule after the dentist was lunch, drop a package at Federal Express, go to the phone store and then see if VFW was accepting donations. But, I'd neglected to pick up the package, so I just went home for lunch, a yummy slice of blueberry crostata.

Though already worn thin by the morning's activities, I set out again after lunch. The trash episode and watering the plants already involved three or four stair trips, which is about two over the limit. But, off...

I was steady walking into FedEx to drop the package. Coming back out I froze half way to my car. The young woman after me came bounding from the store, jumped into her oversized SUV and would have backed into me at ten or fifteen MPH had I not sensed that she had never consulted a mirror, or remembered I was there before blasting her vehicle out of the lot.

On to the phone store, and by now I had enough steps on the day to become a bit unsteady. I sat on a hard stool for a couple of hours while helped with a new phone. Yes, it has an earphone jack. A phone that has one now costs more than the phone without. You pay extra for everything now. The screen protector, the outer shell, etcetcetc.

And the final errand, to see if VFW has opened its donation station. Yes they have, and when I get back my mojo, I must clear out my closet and see what I do have left in decent outfits. It was five when I came home, to making supper. Tomorrow I will tackle the follow up at the phone store, to configure my phone perfectly.

After supper, I stood at the dryer and folded laundry. I am bone weary.

I dropped the old phone some time ago, not for the first time, but that time face down on the concrete drive way. Just like a stone on the windshield, the tiniest shatter mark spread in spider fingers across the screen. I lived with it until I came up short the earplug jack. The good news is, the new contract will be twenty dollars a month less expensive!

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

A doubtful week

The week is downhill, in an interesting way. Who else is paying attention to Bill Gates, the last hero with clay feet? How sad that his ego outstrips his common sense. Suddenly we're paying close attention to Melinda Gates for the wise words. She at least is kicking his can to the curb, and has been working on the details for the last couple of years.

I ordered her book, The Moment of Lift, and for more "background understanding, added The Biography of Melinda Gate, by Andrew Stone. The former has not arrived, but the "biography" came yesterday. Andrew Stone is surely a pseudonym; English is less than second language for him, and composition is less than his understanding. I wrote a review, concluding I have been to a rent party with this purchase.

Speaking of moguls, I stumbled on the movie Jobs, and have watched it close to the end. There are several films about the man, and I wonder if any have attempted to burnish his image. I am not interested in the film to augment my understanding of Steve Jobs, but in the coincidence of simultaneously ordering a Square, that little Apple device that processes credit cards on a phone.

In a couple of weeks I hope to need to process cards at the Peninsula Flea, and decided to give the Square a trial run. For all my searching I could not find a headphone jack on my phone. The one tiny opening that might work was not large enough. Later Laura told me that is the reset port.

I called Square and had a nice conversation that concluded in the purchase of a reader for cards, as the operator concluded that Android or not, my phone had no headphone jack. I ordered a reader that wi-fi's to my phone. I'm waiting for it's arrival.

Perusing  the Square shop (called Square Up, which amused me), I saw the little Square was available in two terminals, the headphone type and the charger type. Wondering if the charger type terminal would have worked on my phone, I called the local Apple store, where the device is available.

The "specialist" I talked with could not have been more disinterested. It's so hard to have a conversation with someone who does not give a damn about understanding the problem and discussing solutions. So, I'll just wait for the new reader. I would have preferred reaching through the phone and shaking the dismissive specialist into a clerk with a job. 

And finally, 'splain this one to me, Lucy. Back in my show days, the drill was: I applied to a show with my resume and slides of my work. If accepted I paid the show fee and showed up on the appointed day with my best attitude, to make the show a success for the people who came, the people who put it on, and me. The people who put on the show were responsible for the venue and advertising. I retired in 2003.

Fast forward almost twenty years. I applied to the Peninsula Flea in the usual way, paid my fee and went to my loom to stock up. Suddenly I am receiving emails from a coordinator asking why I am not promoting my work and the show on my Facebook, the show's Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube....

No, no, no, no, no a thousand times to all of the above. Sometimes I wonder not only at the world we are leaving but the people we are leaving it to!

Saturday, May 15, 2021

The usual busy day

Except that most mornings I do not go out and pot up my carload of mandevillas and hang them for my street to admire, it was the normal busy day for me. (I hate that leading space that eventually catches my eye and I must stop all and go delete it!)

Yesterday I staged this morning. I got the plants from the car and put them on the bench. I carefully, carefully went back to the shed and brought the hanging basket frames up by the plants. The three together are mighty heavy, especially to carry with one hand. 

I poked my thin old skin on some protruding part of a plant hanger, and I felt myself bleeding, all the way back to my improvised plant stand. But I could not look at it because I can only do one thing at a time, and I was walking. 

Back in the house I arranged the rest of the required paraphernalia on the counter, and retired to the loom or the television. I don't remember which it was.

Promptly at ten this morning, my sister and brother-in-law pulled in to help. The picture is when they were leaving, but no matter. Jan is nearly eleven years younger than I am. She got the white hair. What did I do wrong? 

In twenty minutes Tom and I had the plants potted up, and he hung them. It was the hanging I needed; when all the dirt goes in, I cannot lift the baskets. Jan watered them, and they left.

I came in the house and spent an hour weaving. Then I was really hungry, and came to the kitchen for lunch. Time for the cherry story.

When I assembled all my ingredients for cherry custard the other day, having no idea if I should use a tablespoon of jam or the whole jar, I decided to start with bread pudding. I do have three jars of jam, and I did use one of those jars in the pudding.

The smell of the pudding is wonderful. It's like being in a cherry forest. The first bite filled my head with cherries. It was a lot, but not too much. I used about two and a quarter cups of milk and four eggs. No sugar; that was all in the cherry jam. When I make custard, I'll use an entire jar of jam.

I read Debbie's find on resolving thick jam. Reheat the offending batch and add brandy. Fortunately, I have no brandy on hand. I mentioned I actually used one jar of the jam. When I realized I preferred it on my toast, not beside. I ran my little jar through the microwave, then stirred vigorously with my fork. There was no getting round too many cherries, but the jam turned to thick juice and it could all be distributed across a piece of toast.

At this point it was mid afternoon, so I took a nap. All that potting was exhausting. In an hour I woke up, spent half an hour deciding my TV remote actually needed new batteries, as opposed to an irate call to my IS provider. I found them in the junk drawer, and watched the better part of an episode of Letterman's My Next Guest.

Then supper, and here I am. When I am finished with that book, I'll tell you about it. Finding the Mother Tree, Suzanne Simard. In the meantime, the mandevilla, and the Gerbera daisy.

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Today, tomorrow, the day after

 No matter which day it is, spring is sinking in. I have thrown off the winter glums, made a date with my sister for Saturday and nipped over to the nursery for my annual fix of mandevilla.

After Jan agreed to come help me this Saturday, I went straight to the nursery, at ten in the morning. Me and the rest if northern Summit County. At the front desk I ordered red, white and pink, plus an orange Gerbera for Pig, those coconut basket liners and a bag of dirt. Ahem, soil.

When I left home, the overnight temps were forecast for 31! I decided to leave the cache in the car until Saturday. But the weather man is relenting this last hour or so, and now the temperature will fall only to forty, so I'll unload the plants to the garden stool. I am so excited I held the camera to the window for a picture.

Then I walked around to the other side for another picture:

My days of watering begin.

I had an interesting idea this morning. I enjoy experimenting with my morning jams, and seldom go wrong. A while ago I bought a new "strong" flavor, Tart Cherry. It comes in a little box of four. No possibility of a problem!

As anticipated, the flavor is magnificent! The drawback, the little jar is head to toe, shoulder to shoulder cherries. Jam in the purest definition of jammed. Impossible to spread. My first little jar was consumed "on the side". Now how to use the remainder?

When I opened the refrigerator this morning, for the boysenberry, my eye fell on the eggs! So I bent over to peruse the lower left, and there is a quart of milk! I think I can use the hand blender thing (never really knew the name) to marginally incorporate the cherries and stir the jelly into the milk and have cherry custard. Results to follow.

And to end my report of life on the upswing, Laura's warp has been tied, tugged attached and commenced on a length of denim towels.

Sunday, May 9, 2021

Can you believe, I ran out of something

I follow up on things. I keep lists. My shopping list is sacred. Things are at hand when I need them. Except, I am out of garlic. I thought there was a bulb at the bottom of the bowl, but wrong. And I never bought a jar of the dried stuff. Anyway...

I woke up this morning to a cat produced mess. My friends to whom I complained opined he had an upset tummy, poor fellow, and hoped he felt better tomorrow. I was less charitable. I spent an hour cleaning the worst of it before either one of us had breakfast. When Mr. Cat saw I was and intended to remain occupied, he quit panhandling and retreated to the tower top, to sulk.

After breakfast, I went back to deal with the rug under the table under the litter box. I love that rug. My sister wove it, probably twenty years ago, and Linda rewove it a few years ago, when I'd worn it through. Its job now is to be a better repository of flying litter. Those legs are the little table with the litter box on top. I do not clean cat boxes on the floor.

Avoiding the large stain of former kibble, now acidic cat stomach acid eating at the fibers of my rug, first I lifted the heavy cat box and carried it away. "Look mom, no cane, while I transport this box over to my cutting table!".

Then I carried out the table. Then I rolled up the rug and carried it to the front door, to go to the deck and shake out the litter. I retrieved a rain soaked letter my neighbor left in the door when I didn't answer her text yesterday. When I opened it, later, I learned my health insurance premium will increase twenty two dollars per month beginning July first. When I have time, I think I'll calculate all my increased costs this year.

I stepped out onto the deck, into the rain, to shake out the rug. As I stood there, I noticed the wet rain becoming white snow. Later in the day my daughter said there were cars off the road everywhere as she and France came home from an overnight trip. You know, first snow of the season.

I went down the hall to the washer, distributed the rug around the agitator, reached into the pod bowl for a couple of washer pods and came up with...a couple. Only. The good news is, my rug is clean. I did not go out to replenish the supply today because it is Mothers' Day. Not a holiday I give great credence to, nor did my mother, but on the other hand, why bother the clerks today when they might rather be home.

And I'm always happy to wish a good Mothers' Day to all my friends, for if we are mothers, we are and will remain so forever.

Thursday, May 6, 2021

Bizzy, bizzy

I've worked steadily the last couple of days to get to the end of the current warp. In fact, I got there last night, and that also included weaving 800 yards or one tube of natural, and so there should be six cream towels going into stock.

This morning I spent straightening up the studio, preparing for a new warp, prepping the towels I took from the beam. I putzed in the kitchen, cleaning surfaces, changing out winter for spring. I love these place mats.

After lunch, with the idea of turning on a new and possibly longer warp in front of my eyes, I wondered if Laura might be available for the weekend. She said she would at least call me to say goodbye, and I haven't heard a word.

So, I called.

"Hello there," her ever chipper voice said, down the line. Tomorrow will not work because she is leaving for a short WWOOF assignment in Cleveland, at an inner city food project. "Darn!", I grumbled. I'll have to do this all by myself!"

"What's wrong with the rest of today?" Laura wanted to know. I left at once to pick her up and by two this afternoon she was on the hardest part of dressing a loom--putting on a warp.

"A member of your fan club is missing the thumbs up," I suggested.

Well, dressing a loom is no more fun to her than it is to me. We kept steadily at it, emptied and changed out 32 tubes of warp, and finished in two hours. 

When Jan helped me by changing out the emptying warp tubes we were done in two hours, too. But Laura put an extra 25 turns of warp on each bout. I believe that will yield an additional twenty towels, but I haven't done the fine math yet.

Every time a tube emptied, I tied on a new one and heaved the empty over the warp threads. That made the kid laugh. "And I always thought of you as super neat!" 

We stopped at the local tavern for a hamburger on the way home. And back in her neighborhood, I took some pictures.

When we had the problem at the old trailer with drainage in the little flower garden, Ellen Abbott suggested we make a drainage route with flat stones. That's what these folks did. Pretty neat.

And I'll always be a sucker for stone retaining walls.

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

A viable solution

I am bone tired! Too much of many tasks! I went to a town fifteen miles north to pick up my banner for the booth at the Peninsula Flea. I've been there before, to order and pay. I followed the trusty Google app, and paid little attention to where I went. 

Today the app went completely berserk, and thought I intended to walk to an intersection along the route. I could not reset the app. I knew I turned on a numbered highway, but I could not remember the name or number. My phone kept rerouting me to the intersection back at home.

I called the sign store. The lovely receptionist is a landmark follower. Have you passed Starbucks? I had to cut across mightily to convince her I drove by road names and numbers; landmarks are a waste of time. I finally got her to remember street names and route numbers, and I arrived!

Pretty neat, eh? Another box ticked. It's rolled up and ready to go.

There was an email this week from the gallery owner, with her usual recap of business in April. She noted there might be a problem with staffing the gallery on Sundays; two artists had to cut back on hours.

When Diane first opened the gallery, I was pretty much done with shop keeping, so I declined her offer of work in exchange for a lower commission. And now I'm a bit unstable, possibly unsuitable to work.

Sunday is such a low traffic day, Diane was considering not being open that day. And that is anathema to this old retailer. So after a couple days consideration, I said sign me up for Sundays.

Diane was not amenable to start, but I convinced her to give me a shot. They had scrambled and covered most of May, so I am not on the schedule until the first Sunday of June. And if anyone wants out of their Sunday in May, I'll be there.

Monday, May 3, 2021

Another day, another day

New normal seems little different from old normal. I suppose the next thing to look forward to/hope for is decent weather. It rained all day today, and will rain all day tomorrow.

Another day with little live interaction. I wove some more, but knitted nothing, spending the time either napping or food prepping. I made vegetable soup, which simmered from about two this afternoon until I woke up from a nap at five.

It's OK, but not great. As I packed up portions for the freezer, I realized I'd omitted those innocent little soup noodles. No idea of their Italian pasta name; the little guys that take the sharp edge off the tomatoes. I have lots of them in a little jar in the pantry. I wonder how I can add them after the fact?

In another adventure today, I moved the left most leaf of the amaryllis away from the window, and it fell straight down and snapped off, with a definitive snap! Now it looks bedraggled.

I've run out of new books to read, so picked up Alexandra Fuller's Cocktail Hour under the Tree of Forgetfulness. Not my favorite of her many, and I really should start her over with Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight.

I do have a new book on order, Finding the Mother Tree. Since I will be reading it at least twice, I'll be occupied for a bit...when it comes.