Thursday, January 28, 2016

Searching For Color

In an otherwise white, grey and black landscape.  The Sun is shining.  The Sky is blue.  The temperatures are between 35 and 45 degrees and it is not "normal".

I got out my seed box and sorted thru the packages.  I am going to start my onions and shallots. Inside.  But I read about a method for starting perennial and tender perennial seeds--outdoors in empty, recycled semi transparent milk jugs.   You cut them open halfway up the jug, leaving a hinge so the top and bottom halves are still connected.  Then you drill or punch holes in the bottom of the jug.  Fill with a  moistened seed starting potting mix (2 to 4  inches) and plant your seeds (read the packages as some seeds like to be covered and others do not), flip the hinged top over the seed bed, tape with duct tape, leave the bottle cap off  (so air and water can go in and out) and then take the jugs outside and set them on a table or just in the snow.  Somewhere sunny is nice.

Being outside in the "elements" will cold stratify the seeds and when warmer (??) temps arrive the seeds will sprout.  Ready to be planted out in the garden.  I am going to try Lambada Bee Balm, Bread Seed Poppies, Blue Fescue Grass,  Sage, Cottage Pinks. If I had some Lupine seeds I would give them a shot as well. Seed packages should read "sow 4-6 weeks before last frost".  If they say that then it is okay to try this method.  My zinnias will go out in late February/early March along with Calendula.

What is a gardener without a gardening challenge?

I will also set myself up a work station and make toilet paper seed tapes for my carrots and beets. The beets did very well last year but the carrots were a great disappointment.  I also want to put in some parsnips.  Which reminds me that we need to start buying and hauling composted manure from the nearest dairy operation.

Otherwise?  We are still trying to get out of the house once each day to "do something".  G is more successful than I am.  My cold seems to be finished--but wood smoke outdoors is causing my asthma to "react".  It's been a real struggle this winter to breathe without coughing.  Or more likely---wheezing.  I am usually dizzy and awfully tired.  But I try to go out each evening with Riley to look at the stars if the sky is clear.

My Calendula salve project made 10 containers (4 ounces each) and look quite lovely but more of a yellow green than the sunny golden yellow I expected.  It was kind of messy but every project is messy the first time one tries it.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Almost February

February is the high point in the "give someone flowers" monthly calendar.  I think it's because life is pretty dull in February and a bright, alive, bunch of tulips cheers people up--considerably. And a big floral holiday in the midst of Winter is good for the floral industry.

Once we get to February, my cheerfulness meter starts moving into the "positive" range as well. February is a short month and moves quickly and then it's March and I am back to work.  Back to seeing PEOPLE.

This January hasn't been as awful as most.  G and I went to see a Woody Native Plants lecture yesterday, I had that wonderful retirement party at the beginning of the month, good books to read, the Collaboratory project to work on recently and today I am melting beeswax into my olive oil and calendula petal mixture and decanting salve into small jars.

Every summer I collect the bright orange calendula flowers and dry them to make healing salve.  This is the first time I have ever actually followed thru with the concoction and a quick trip to the Goodwill for a used saucepan and this show will be on the road as they say.  It looks like I am making quite a bit--enough to give my co-workers for their own sunburned faces and chapped hands.

Saturday I watered my orchids and repotted a few terrestrial ones.  I had them in the wrong soil mix and after watching a few YouTube videos I have now corrected the medium.  I also realize that the cymbidium orchids up in the guest room bathtub need this new soil mix as well.  But they are large and the repotting would be tremendously messy so I think I will wait until I go back to work to repot them.  Easier to clean up the mess at work.  The geraniums in the upstairs bedroom are blooming.

A few of the amaryllis I "over summered" in the vegetable garden are starting to perk up.  Two are showing a nice flower bud so far, one has twins.  It will be weeks before they flower but that's okay with me.  I should have pulled them out of the veg garden in late August and let them dry until their leaves died off.  Then repotted them for Christmas bloom.  But I waited until late October so I am a month or two behind.  I am always learning from my mistakes.  That's what gardening is all about.

Time to start my onion seeds.  And perhaps the peppers as they are very slow to germinate.  I am going to get things going earlier this year and hopefully have earlier crops.  Now that we have "global warming" here in Maine--who knows?

Saturday, January 23, 2016

A Saturday Spent Reading And Watching The Snow Fall Someplace Else

For a change, Maine wasn't the target of an enormous amount of snow.

We had some wind, blue skies and not one flake.  It's nice to be the one without snow.

I dropped off the Interactive fabric pieces for the Collaboratory.  Is that a word? I have homework--to come up with three or four quilting "quotes" from me using the words---- Pieces, Patterns, Parts. I don't think I have ever said anything that was quotable.  My greenhouse customers always repeat pithy things they say I have said to them--and none of them sound familiar.

I read a time traveling love story.  I just LOVE those things.  Medieval.  Castles, men with swords,
very rich people in 1254 and in 2015.  Imogen and Phillip.  And best of all, so many other characters who don't have a story (book) yet.  Author is Kurland.

Next up is a Nordic murder mystery by Adler-Olsen.

Dinner was a box of Kraft Mac and Cheese.  Life is Good.

Friday, January 22, 2016

British Sofa

Very cozy looking and the cushions are slouching off the front edge.  I can't imagine being able to get up off the thing once seated.  Sigh.  That's how it would be if I were furniture shopping these days.  Could I get up off the seat of the chair or couch.

Big snow is forecast.  We are being told it won't affect us.  Just cold.  Colder.  Sun is still shining here in Maine.  I am off to the library to deliver the bits and pieces of the interactive quilt project.  I won't know if it's enough until I get there.  May cut a few black crows out of black felt.  Just to gild the lily as they say.

My cold continues.  Not as much coughing these days.  But I have this "swimmy" feeling in my head. It's similar to how I feel with a fever, but I don't have a fever.  And this isn't the flu as I have no aches and pains.  Just a cough and this dizzy feeling.  And I know exactly when the DayQuil wear off---

G wants us to have an "outing" each day.  To go somewhere or do something.  Outside the confines of the house.  Because of unemployment, most of my "outings" are to fill out job applications.  If I can fill out applications.  At Home Depot (with the help of an employee) we couldn't find the employment department on the store kiosk.  So no application filed.  I am only trying for employment in my "field" this year.  My field being greenhouse or plant care.  And it can't involve much driving as my driving vision (at dusk, in snow, when it rains etc) is seriously terrible. If on coming cars have their headlights on--I can't see anything. G just wants me to stop trying to satisfy unemployment.  Give it up.

It's a continuing discussion but I think he is winning most days.

Yesterday my little car got a new battery.   Now the radio will play when I drive into Town.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

And The Wind Is Very Cold

The sun was out all day.  The wind was blowing.  The snow is melting during the day and freezing as soon as it gets dark so everything is covered in ice.  The battery in my car (2008Fit) has stopped working.  I don't drive it often enough, long enough or fast enough.  Takes the oomph out of a battery I guess.

I bought a huge pair of LLBean corduroy pants today @ Goodwill.  The only place I will buy LLBean, as I think they are way overpriced.  And the huge pair of pants fit--well, they don't fall down around my knees, but they are loose, the way I like my pants to fit.  These are house pants.  And work pants.  I like to be able to bend over.  They are also short.  I hazard a guess that women with the waistband width of these pants usually have really short legs.  I don't.  So I am  going to have to take the hem out of them and stitch a new piece of fabric inside the hem.  I do this on all the big, wide pants I buy @ Goodwill.  Some day a tall woman with a large waist will move into my town and donate all her pants to Goodwill.  Her LLBean Pants.

Yesterday I used my sewing machine (it's been a LONG time).  I had a bunch of trouble with it.  Tension.  Mine and the Machine's.  The bobbin case enclosure fell out when I tried to figure out why the needle would no longer go down into the bobbin (for regular stitching).  I don't know if all Bernina's have tricky bobbin case enclosures but mine certainly does.  I had to take TWO time outs before I managed to get the darned thing back inside.  Then had to fill the bobbin.  Then had to finish sewing. The work I was sewing on got thrown on the floor.  I don't like it.  It's not what I imagined for the interactive thing.  So, I am walking away for a day or two.  Then trying again.

I also had taken a Mucinex for my cough.  It made me feel like I had the flu.  And I don't.  But I stopped coughing.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Snow Dog & Old Dog

I just watched G get himself prepared to walk in the woods with Riley.  Yes, coat, hat, mittens.  But then he had to add those things you snap around your legs to keep your pant legs dry.  And bending over isn't all that easy for us oldies.  Then he strapped on the snow shoes.  By the time he was dressed the dog was begging to get going.  G was ready for a nap.

They are only going halfway.  The long way is too much.  For G.  I am staying inside, still coughing and still using the inhaler.  Not all that much different from last winter.

We watched both football games yesterday.  Both were seriously disappointing.   In the second, neither quarterback was in any condition to play at playoff level. One of them--in orange--seemed confused most of the time.  Then we switched to Downton Abbey.  Why is the last year of a series always so lame?

Sunday we almost ran out of potato chips.  We are eating way too many.

Cleaned out a few lingering food items from the fridge.  G got a roast turkey breast from the store and I'll be steaming broccoli and making Stove Top for his dinner later today.  I also have pumpkin pie I baked yesterday.  My third try at the new (to me) pizza dough recipe was the best one yet.  We had that Saturday evening with football.

Today my plan is to eat a really gigantic green salad.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Cold, Colder, Coldest

We are in for an Arctic Blast.  The evil Polar Vortex.  Sounds like something on the SciFi channel. Time to settle the cast iron soup kettle on the stove for the duration.

What I like about soup:  It warms you from the inside out.  Because it's mostly liquids--it fills you up. It's easy to make.  I think most of us could throw together an adequate soup with whatever is in the fridge and cupboard.  From experience I know that there is always one--or two---items in the recipe that I do not have.  Then I have to "make do".

Easiest for me to make today is Lentil Soup.  I have everything I need.  Even the fresh tomato to add the acid needed. And a pot of lentil soup lasts a long time.  Lentil soup isn't a very attractive soup.  Tending to look mostly lumpy and brown.  I am going to take advantage of the fact that I have celery, onions and carrots in the fridge.

Wednesday a friend from work came over (bringing chicken pot pie for lunch) and we looked at quilts and then settled down to work.  She was stitching a sampler and finding the work very satisfying.  I was working on those 12 inch squares for the interactive project at the library.  I decided to use a different batting (poly instead of cotton) and was psyched to find the poly was fusible (I have so much stuff in this house).  I fused all the squares with wild abandon.  The thoughts of pinning and even basting them had me very melancholy.  Now I have to quilt them--with the sewing machine.  Assembly line stuff--nothing inventive.

I am reading CJ Sansom's newest (to me) Lamentations (I don't know how it sneaked past me for an entire year).  Picks up right where he left off with Dissolution.  Henry is still alive but fading.  It is taking me longer to get "into" the book this time. I think I read the others pretty close to each other which worked.  I tried twice and actually finished Dominion the third time.  A different end for WWII.

I am finding it difficult to read for the hours on end that is (was) usual for me.  Right now I am blaming the cold meds.  I have chest congestion/cough, again.  The reactive asthma could be part of the trouble.  I fall asleep listening to myself wheeze.

My car was hard to start yesterday morning (I haven't been driving it) and I had no radio (due to the cold or the battery).  Strange driving a car in silence. And my being impaired by cold medicine didn't help.  I gripped the steering wheel and kept saying "focus" to myself as my mind drifted.  Then I started reacting vocally to yellow lights.  My reflexes were slower than usual and I was afraid I would fail to notice the yellow lights.

I managed to drive to get my hair cut, go to the bank, and then the library where I found the Sansom book.  Now, we, living here in Maine, are waiting for what looks like snow, rain and then below zero cold.  I LOVE when it RAINS and then FREEZES for weeks.  The entire house is coated in ice.  The driveway is a skating rink.  The house and garage doors are frozen shut.

Hey, if you know anyone living alone--give them a call.  The police here in Maine found a woman living alone--who had died in bed TWO YEARS AGO.  No one noticed. If I stop writing, have someone check on me--okay?

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Living In The Present

Oh.  I am reminded of reading this the first time.  Feeling so sad.  My father lived this life.  Never selling the house he hated and buying (or even renting) a small place on a lake where he could fish or just sit and look at the water.  Always complaining that life had cheated him out of happiness.

We cheat ourselves out of happiness.

I try to be reminded of that as I sit on the back stoop--with G or with Riley, alone or with both of them.  I love being here.  I love listening to the tall trees creak and moan as the wind moves them.  I love going out at night, with the dog, to look at the stars.  I don't want to be anywhere else.

We carried the tree out of the house today.  I will miss it.  Such a beautiful tree and still fresh after all these weeks.  I think it may have been one of the most beautiful trees we have ever had for Christmas.  And it was charming in it's imperfection.

I want to bake bread one of these days of my work furlough.  I did make the new to me pizza crust twice.  I like it but need to tweak it a bit.  And I want to make naan.  Seems simple enough and now that I have learned to use the oven light to proof the dough--my house is very cold--  I think I could also use the oven light to keep milk warm enough to---do whatever turns milk into yogurt.

I have been trying to cook different things in the rice cooker.  I make good rice but tried cooking soaked dry beans in the rice cooker.  Too much water was a problem but the beans were perfectly cooked in very little time.  The internet says I can also make a frittata in the rice cooker.  Will try that next.  I like the "fix it" and "forget it" part of using the rice cooker.  It shuts itself down to warm, unlike the slow cooker.

I have to work on the library interactive art thing I said I would do.

Vaccumed the floors and have the  throw rugs in the washer.  I will have to tackle the baseboards one of these days--they are dirty.  I folded all my dishtowels like that Kondo woman suggests.  Not sure if I think it's better.  The drawer does look neater.  But does it spark enough joy?

Saturday, January 09, 2016

It's Here

I did something that had been relegated to "someday" for years and years.  Yesterday I was invited to a retirement party for a dear sweet woman I worked with for almost 10 years.  Her history isn't my story to tell--but she overcame a great deal with the help of a women's support group.

Going to a gathering of employees of the place where I used to work--a place that nearly broke my heart when I had to leave-- is not easy.  But I dressed up, fixed my hair and just got into the car and ...went.

At the gathering I smiled (with my heart in my eyes) at my dear friend--who was so happy to see me. Little did I know, but she had specifically asked that more than a few "former" employees be invited. Her "people" was the way she referred to everyone at the party.  Lovely.

And I did something I never do.  I mingled.  I just walked over to people I didn't know and asked how they knew the party girl.  They talked and I listened.  It was quite wonderful.  I am always happy to re-learn this truth.  A person you love and enjoy being with, will have other friends who you will enjoy knowing.  I think everyone at the party went home with tired face muscles.  I reconnected with so many people from years ago.  And was reminded of how very much they all meant to me. I had missed them----

Last night's dream fragments:  I was working underground, pulling cable and making connections for something with a group of co-workers.

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Now Here's An Interesting Thing

Not the paperwhites.  Though I started mine a few days after Christmas and they are up and about 8 inches tall with buds. Never too late.  Most garden centers probably still have some.  Just need a bowl or glass vase, some rocks or pebbles (or marbles) and water.  Mine are on the window sill. I planted 8 in my container.  8 looks right.

Okay--here's the interesting thing.  Ever since I stopped working for the winter, I have awoken in the morning with the faint traces of the night's dream.  I may dream but never remember any of them, before these.  These I remember like a handful of photos.  And, they are all about work.  Not my regular work. All  the "jobs" are strange yet wonderful.  Last night I remember --military uniforms--country location--stone cottage--vintage vehicles.  I wake up happy.  Relaxed.  Refreshed.

In another one I remember -- large, large building--sort of a factory--dirt floor--green overall uniform--noisy--earthy.

I am trying to be conscious of any fragments I remember each morning as I wake.  Wouldn't it be fascinating if these are all jobs I have had in past lives?  But more likely I am remembering scenes I have seen on television or envisioned in books. I don't see myself but see the surroundings from my viewpoint.  And throughout the dream I am working.  Going about the business of the job. Whatever it was.  Like I wrote at the beginning--my memory on waking is like looking at a handful of photos.

Today I am going to sort all the paperwork I have collected in my bill paying bag.  Sort it and arrange the important things by date, shred the unimportant stuff, sort out the tax papers.  I plan to pile the "shred" things on the shredder and then go back and look them over before actually shredding.  I don't want to have to sort and paste documents back together.  My bag includes all sorts of things we get in the mail.  Most not a bit important.  Easier to just stuff it all in the bag (at the time) rather than try and decide what's important.

 I am always reminded of shredding years and years and years of bill receipts my dad saved.  And this was after my brother shredded and filled a whole carton of large garbage bags of paper a few years previous.  I do remember shredding Medicare papers and having to have the past 12 months reprinted and mailed to me---when obnoxious doctors, labs etc decided to "try" to get paid a second time by the estate.   The wonderful clerk at Medicare said it happens all the time and then mailed me two very fat packages of copies.  My dad loved going to the doctor.

G and I went to see Star Wars on Monday.  I actually loved it.  But I could be sentimental.  I was reminded of 1977 and my little boy.  He LOVED Star Wars.  And would have been delighted by little BB8.  Harrison Ford always looks great.  And Chewy.

Sunday, January 03, 2016

2016- More Painting

And, hopefully, more of my own photographs here on the blog.  I am already trying to institute a daily journal habit.  Not writing (which is okay) but drawing and then some writing (which is better). And using paint, makers, glue sticks and other stuff.  Just making stuff is better than doing nothing.

The Universe has also given me an artistic opportunity for February.  Art.  Interactive. For the Library. I have an idea.  Need to make samples and then see if the Library agrees or disagrees with my idea.  It will be hands on.  If nothing else: I will be using fabric and the sewing machine for the first time since 12x12 stopped having challenges.

I got out the paints at the end of December for a high schooler working where I work.  I showed her a few techniques and gave her a boxed set of pastels that I rarely, if ever, used.  She wants to study fashion and wants to paint her fashion designs in watercolor.  Her excitement got me thinking.  Where has mine gone?????

I am up to #8 on the clearing up clutter list.  I read about that clutter book that's the rage right now.  In order to do the bookcases or my closet, I have to take everything it OUT, pile it on the floor and then assess the "spark of joy" that each time gives me before replacing it on the bookshelf or in the closet. Since anything (and I mean this literally) made of linen "sparks with joy" almost everything goes back in the closet--even though I rarely wear any of it.  I need to refine my "spark" before starting.  And what about different sizes for different weights.  Do you get rid of the delightful shirt or pants now and then later when you weigh less---can't find replacements?

Going by what I wear on a daily basis-----I could actually get rid of 95% of what is in the closet.  Same pants everyday in past 2 weeks (washed), same sweater, same scarf/shawl.  When I worked it was the exact same clothing in each season.  Washed after work, dried and worn again the next day etc.  I was gifted a second pair of pants (which was exactly the same as the first) and wore those but it just wasn't the "same" so I switched back.  After work, same clothing every day.  When I do shop I try and buy a "repeat" of the item I love to wear.

Now, reading this--I can see that cleaning out the closet should be SUPER easy.  I just need to choose the BEST of each category and then the second best.  Get rid of all the rest or pack away in the attic in case, heaven help me, I actually lose any weight, smaller sizes of the same things I wear now.  Which I see as being virtually impossible.  Losing weight, I mean.

Today I am going up into the attic (actually the second floor guest room) and look for an old book so I can tear out pages, paint them and then tear them into pieces to make collages.  If I can't find one--I will have to sacrifice a dictionary to ART.  I prefer the pulpy thick paper of educational manuals from the 50's and 60's.  Wish me luck!

Friday, January 01, 2016

Twenty Sixteen

I'm thinking I have about 20 more years on planet Earth.  Living to 90 is certainly not certain. But I can give it a good try.  So, we should be thinking of ways to enjoy that 20 years after spending the previous 69 plus working to afford "just living".

Well, that is really sounding like a "downer" isn't it.  But I think it is difficult for people living a "purpose driven life" to shut that thinking off (or just mute it) and start living a joyful life.  Not that purpose in itself can't be joyful.  I would say I have been happy almost my entire life.  Happy-Ish.
Once I stopped wondering if I had failed to accomplish what fate had set out for me to accomplish but in truth that supposed "failure" still haunts me.  I never had a job title that defined me and my accomplishments.  My parents expected me to have that.  I never did.

I have always tried to have employment.  Been rather driven to always have employment.  And I can't quite let that compulsion go.  But I have never had a profession.

Perhaps in Twenty Sixteen I can let that go?

Today I washed out the silverware drawer.  It doesn't contain any "silver".  That's the drawer next to the drawer I washed today. Full of silver flatware we don't use.  Saving it for a special occasion.  And truth be told, there are never any special occasions.  Neither of my children want it.  So, I should just open the case, pull it all out and use it.  But the regular every day drawer is now clean and sorted.  Item 8 on my 50 item list of things I cleaned, tidied, finished or put away.

A dear friend is coming over to eat with us this evening.  We'll have some sort of artichoke dip she is bringing alongside gin and grapefruit juice drinks.  Pizza (I have the dough rising in the oven with the pilot light as heat source), a nice green salad, and red wine.  I am also considering making cheese manicotti but that may be too much food.  We have brownies for dessert with whipped cream or ice cream.  I think that's a special enough occasion for the silver flatware and the crystal glasses.

We finished watching River.  Loved it.  And are now into Daredevil.  Marvel Comics is developing a series of these shows.

The fridge in the garage stopped working.  I lost all the red peppers and blueberries from my garden. so much waste.  I am sad about it.  Very.  All was frozen solid the last time I visited the freezer. It's all now in the compost bin.