Thursday, November 30, 2017

The Day Before December

Art by Este MacLeod
From ArtPropelled

Christmas Cactus.  Which looks rather regal in this art work.  I rather like it.

I am sitting here wrapped in my Magical Shawl (thin but oh, so warm), sipping cold coffee, finishing off eating a Brownie and waiting for parsnips and carrots to roast for SOUP.  My morning Suduko puzzle didn't go far.  I made a mistake.  Too many fours.  I am starting a puzzle each morning to exercise my brain.  My brain is in need of exercising.  I haven't gotten more that ¼ done with any of the puzzles.  Of course, I have never done well with the morning newspaper puzzle.  I should look for my book of puzzles. I was more successful with them.

A few of you have added a new post to your blogs this morning and I enjoyed reading about your "doings"...they seem so interesting and my life seems so dull.

My day at work yesterday was......tedious.  But there were high spots.  I selected my Christmas Tree.  My impression at the time of purchase was that it was beautiful.  We'll see if that was correct when G brings it home later today in the pickup.  The artificial wreaths are up on the front porch. They, all three, need new strings of lights.  A visit to Target later today and then I will have to take off the old strings of lights and put on the new.  I'm not even sure the porch is visible from the street anymore.  The shrubs in the island in front of the porch have gotten TALL.  Need pruning.

I did quite a bit of "good work" at work.   So, that is satisfying.  I got to check in the warehouse pallet of garden center goods.  Break down boxes, etc.  Work where you can see your progress.

In the sewing room I have sewn patches together into 2's and then into 4's and today into 16's.  For potholders.  Christmas ones.  Connie sent me a very cute charm pack last Christmas and I am using it this Christmas to make gifts for my favorite people.  I am auditioning backsides for the patchwork from my closet of fabric.  Plenty to choose from.

I try to work on a fabric project--like every other day.  One day sew and then next day iron.  And then there are days when I am up "shopping" in the fabric closet and then in the fabric bins.  Trying to "find" something that stays lost.  Like the potholder thermal special fabric so you don't burn your hands.  Took many, many trips upstairs and I "found" it on my work table--downstairs.

Oh---big news.  Three of the new radiators are installed in the two bathrooms and the entrance hallway.  Installed but not connected to the furnace.  We thought that would happen today.  But there was something more urgent for the plumber to be doing.  So now, I can use the bathroom and rest my hand on the new radiator.  The cold radiator.  Which, I hope, someday in 2017 will be warm to the touch.

Well, the parsnips and carrots look golden brown and delicious so I will start making soup.  And for G, who doesn't like parsnips, I will be making a second pot of soup--chicken.  We finally finished all the Thanksgiving leftovers.

I have three books on the table to read.  Will let you know which one I decide on.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

The After Turkey Day Post


I cooked my Turkey this way.  Removed the backbone, flattened the bird.  My turkey was bow legged, with it's knees pointing out not in.  The 30 minutes at 425 really smoked up the oven. In the end this New York Times recipe was a FAIL.  The bird tasted "off" and no one at the table wanted to eat any after the first bite.  Could have been the olive oil.

But it was very pretty, the skin was crispy on top. Looked exactly like the picture at the top of this post--which is the NYT picture from their website.  But pale and wet on the underside.

Everything else was wonderful.  The pumpkin pie turned out to be spectacular.  The crust was flaky and tender.

We have been eating leftovers since then.  I stopped on the way home from work on Friday to pick up a half deli roasted turkey breast.  From now on--that's the only way we'll be eating Turkey. Live and learn.

I clicked on something in someone's blog post and got a 28 day NYT subscription.  Not to everything. Just some things.  For other more interesting stories--I would have to actually "subscribe".  I am enjoying having these free posts to read while I am having lunch at work. The free trial subscription should last until my last day at work.  For the season.  Then I have three months to decide if I want my "leaving" to be permanent.

I did my best to get the unripened green figs to soften (with a ripe banana under plastic) and made 3 pints of fig preserves today.  Before the football.  The preserves looked good (I usually run the figs, sugar and water mix thru the Vitamix once the sugar melts.  It's hot and dangerous to do this but other wise it's fig chunks and sugar.  Not that wonderful.  Once it goes thru the Vitamix it's brown and flecked with the no longer pink insides of the figs.  Looks exactly like the professional stuff we buy.

G likes fig preserves.  And I like having something to show for all the weeks and months of watering and fertilizing those two fig trees in pots.  I lost count of how many times the wind blew them over. I also lost count of how many days we moved the trees into and out of the garage when nights were colder than fig trees like.  Right now they are in the upstairs bedroom with the heat at 45 degrees and they have been pruned to short branches.  In the Spring I will pull them out of their pots and root prune them and give them the fertilizer they need.  And let them leaf out again.

Someday, when Maine (where I live) becomes a zone 6 growing environment--and with the way things are going--it might be next year--the fig trees will be planted in the ground.  Fend for themselves.  Wednesday, the 29th of November it's supposed to be 50 degrees and sunshine.  Right here in Maine.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Art & Emotion & Memory


Art by Anne Patay from ArtPropelled.

Often, late at night, when I am too awake to be able to go to sleep----I open Art Propelled and look at ART.  I have a sketch book handy and pencils and pens.  I should include pastel crayons.  And I make a drawn "note" to myself on some combination of color, line or emotion that I notice.  This "bird" spoke to me and I am reminded of how long I looked at it before reaching for the sketchbook.

I think (know) I could look at this artwork for the rest of my life and still not see it enough.

I am reading Grafton's Y.  Nearly finished. PBS tonight starting with Father Brown.  I don't know if our Patriots are playing today.  I know the game is in Mexico but can never figure out WHY. Or why they play in London for that matter.

I am doing two loads of laundry.  One is drying and the other rinsing by the sound of it.  I have to remind myself to sew a ripped section of my work sweatshirt.  The front pocket.  I kept losing my scissors yesterday.  A morning and afternoon Boxwood Tree class yesterday.  I wasn't teaching but did help with cleanup.  Boxwood smells like cat pee.

I somehow agreed to work three days next week.  Black Friday was added to my week. Not that we have anything on sale. But the Christmas Trees are in and all of the Poinsettias will arrive Wednesday.  I was asked if I had the Point's MAP ready.  I usually make index cards with placement  of the colors and different varieties and then staple them to the tables.  I guess no one else can write on index cards or staple.  If it wasn't so ridiculous--it would be funny. So..that will be my Wednesday.

Raining today but 50 degrees.  An hour's drive west and it's in the 20's and blizzard conditions.  Snow.  So I am driving because it's only rain.  To the supermarket to buy things for Thanksgiving dinner.  Before the weather shifts and we have snow.  

I want to work on the abstract fabric work on my easel.  But I have wanted it to have a name.  Stormy keeps coming up.  But Stormy what?  Sigh.



Thursday, November 16, 2017

Dark Again with Rain


At work, it's Christmas.  But at the grocery, it's Thanksgiving.

We are making and decorating wreaths at work.  Like Santa's Helpers.  I wish we were making ones like this but ours are "less wild".   I, personally, like a wild and stormy wreath that looks like it collected it's berries and cones in the wind.  Not on wired picks.

I have a new read--Grafton's Y.  It was on the 7 day shelf.  Yippee.  I finished Still Life by Louise Penny and realized that I had READ it that first time around.  I was positive when Gamache fell down the basement stairs and broke his leg and Clara was thinking there were snakes slithering around on the floor.  It was a very deja vu experience reading that first book again.  It foretells all of the drama and sadness to come in the future novels.  Like having your fortune told.

I am trying to recover from my day at work yesterday.  Too much standing in one spot doing the wreaths.  And then cleaning up which includes "sweeping" which is TERRIBLE for my breathing.

My Wednesday co-workers have decided to have "treats" next Wednesday (pre-Thanksgiving cheer) and I am making 1970"s style Rum Balls.  I looked up recipes and think I have a good one but needed ½ cup of Rum.  So I went to the liquor store and bought two small "Nips" instead of a whole bottle.
The rum I got is from Barbados.  Bacardi didn't come in the little bottles.

These little bottles are quite cute.  Too bad they are the "tipple of choice" for most of the alcoholic homeless population here in my Town.

I did do mending on my black shawl on Tuesday at Art Co-op.  And one of the others mentioned adding a thin gold thread line winding around/through the new patch.  That was an excellent suggestion--just the thing it needed to "fit in".

I am thinking we'll be having a very toned down Thanksgiving next week.  Turkey Breast not a whole bird.  Sweet potatoes and baked acorn squash (daughter loves it).  Some sort of green vegetable. The cognac/orange cranberry sauce.  And of course stuffing and gravy.  I often make mashed white potatoes also.  As to the dessert--last year daughter brought a spice cookie/Cool Whip thing and it was quite delicious.  I may suggest she make it again.

Last year I walked with my friend on Thanksgiving morning.  Not so long ago.  It seems like forever ago.  I miss our conversations.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Garden Moon


It's always dark.  Well, it seems that way to me these days.  And cold.  Snowing.  Very light tiny flakes.  Melting on contact with the Earth.

The Holiday Open House at work was fine.  Good coffee.  Took most of Sunday to recover my energy.  And that's what bothers me.  One day at work and then needing to rest the day after just to get back to normal levels of energy.

By doing only one step at a time--I managed to finish another baby quilt top.  One day two tiny  squares sewn together (machine).  Press.  Next time a set of two sewn to another set of two.  Press. The next time (days in between) I sewed four fours together.  And then, after another few days, I sewed all the 16's together to make the center.  Took awhile to choose a first border.  And even longer (much searching in the attic storage boxes) to find the outer, wider border.  Daughter finally chose.

Now it's pressed and in it's envelope.  Ready to fly off to Connie.

I have no plans to make anything else other than some Christmas Pot Holders with the Charm Pack the same Connie sent me last Christmas.  I like making Christmas items at Christmas not other times of the year.  I have a few bits of my own fabric to co-ordinate with the Charm Pack.  Very Cute.  Should be FUN.

Reading.  One book in print and another unpublished and still in re-writes.  Both good reads. Now I am going to attempt Louise Penny's first Gamache mystery.  Still Life.  I tried it years ago and found it deadly dull.  But now that I have read (and enjoyed) all the following books--I am thinking I might as well try it again.

I have a work on the easel.  Abstract.  It has no name.  I refuse to move forward until it either has a name or I take all the bits off and start over.  Someone said it reminded them of Lake Superior. I've never seen Lake Superior (in this life) so I have no idea.  And than was before more bits got added.

I have no idea what we will be eating tonight.  Freezer and fridge are still empty.  I had hoped insurance would send me a check.  Nope.

Riley is taking a nap--I think he has a good idea and will join him in a short snooze.

Thursday, November 09, 2017

Hard Frost: Winter Appears


The hard frost came overnight and this morning my head hurts.  Like a sinus headache or a hangover. Daughter appeared to drop off a table top wooden easel for my fabric work or even a painting if I feel inclined.  Very nice gift.  She found it at the G-Town Dump.

Then we went into the ice frosted garden to dig up chipmunk chewed carrots for the chickens.  Also the collard greens and the last of the kale.  Hungry chickens.  Now daughter is worrying about them during the Winter.  She worries.  Born that way.  Same as me. I saved my celery the day before. Thinking ahead.

The table and chairs are looking better each passing day.  G is wanting  something larger.  I keep saying I want this.  Eventually he will stop asking.  Get used to having SPACE all around him, sun shining etc.

A friend from my quilting days asked to borrow my Round Robin quilt and Bev's.  I told her that everything had gotten packed and was now "lost" but that I would search.  I found mine.  Had a heart stopping search for Bev's.  And then found it.  Had fallen off the pile of antique quilts onto the floor.

Friend and I looked at the two.  Bev's is so beautiful.  The six of us did a row on each of the quilts.  They began with a block we made for ourselves.  Bev's is so beautiful because we all loved her.  We wanted to do our best work for her.  I guess I went all out.  Mitered corners.  Hand appliqu├ęd leaves on a Baltimore styled vine with roses in the corners.  The quilt lay across the top of her coffin.  I cried.  Am crying as I type.

My quilt is also beautiful.  Both were hand quilted by Bev.  Mine and hers.  She asked to quilt it for me.  I said yes, please.  

So, perhaps that's why my head hurts.  Too many memories coming hard and fast and then the tears.

I made some sugar free jello.  Raspberry.  Later I will make a third pan of cornbread using corn grits. That's three pans in about two weeks.  Ten days?  Old recipe from the Grist Mill where I bought corn meal back in the day.  I still have two servings of the German Lentil Soup.  Also leftovers of Thanksgiving turkey.  It's a very simplified meal.  A deli turkey half breast, packaged gravy mix, Stove Top dressing, baked sweet potatoes and steamed broccoli.  Delicious and served once a week until G's birthday--he was born on Thanksgiving Day way back in the Dark Ages.  I'm thinking it would be excellent served on Thanksgiving day as well.  Just for the three of us.

I am planning to make pumpkin whoopee pies for G.  With cream cheese buttercream filling.  We can set a candle in each.  Festive.

Well, I think I will take two Tylenol and then meander off to the sewing machine and sew my Depression Era-esk blocks into something like a rectangle and then think about borders.  Get on with the work at hand.  Then the cornbread.

Sunday, November 05, 2017

Living Small Has Great Appeal


There is too much room here.  Too many places to "put" stuff.  If there was less room for things, I could possibly have less?  Would that be feasible? Or perhaps just have less.  In a large space.
My daughter already says my bedroom is looking austere.  I am giving things away.

I have a dream.  That I actually dream.  When I am feeling over whelmed (like now).  I dream that I become a wanderer.  Just one room I call home. Far from what I had called home.  Just a bed.  Perhaps one table. One chair. One cup.  One bowl.  Always white.  Everything white.

What did Thoreau write?  One chair for solitude.  Two for company.  Do I want company?  Yes. But only some of the time. So, perhaps two of everything.

Thoreau had paper and I write here, on air.  What would he think?  Air is too much company?

I can feel change coming.  I have no idea what it will be, but I think I need to change. I need to stop doing things the way I am and change myself again.  Like an every ten years cleanse of the personality and habits.  Shedding one life and creating another.

What to keep and what to let go.

 (G and I) took apart and carried the long, wide table (10 or 12 feet long and 40 inches wide) out of the dining/family room.  Unscrewed it.  The heavy wide board table top is in the garage and the rest (legs, sides) is out on the front porch waiting to be broken up.  G will possibly use the  table top boards to make other things.

Instead, we brought down from the attic the very first piece of furniture we bought as young married people.  A round rattan table and four rattan chairs with caned seats.

Why?  Because when our son was visiting and the four of us sat around the table---- the big table wasn't conducive to the old days.  When we sat around that round rattan table to play cards, yahtzee or just eat a meal together.  The big rectangular table wasn't cozy. Wasn't family.

I said, one evening, that I was thinking about that rattan table and chairs.  And G said right away--  let's bring it down.  So, it's now in the center of a very large (not austere) space.  Cozy.  Looking like it always should have been there.  And it makes me so very happy to see it there.  Bringing back so many good memories of our first apartment in Georgia when the table and four chairs was ALL the furniture we had--(making payments every week).  Until distant family took pity on us and gave us an old bed.  Lord, we were poor. And yet we were so happy.  Together.

That table and chairs brings it all back to me.  Living really small (smile).

Thursday, November 02, 2017

Big Rain, Wind, Power Outages


I've been missing.  Electricity.  How on Earth did we live without it for hundreds of years??? Well, we made do the first day with candles, the little burner on the gas grill and a generator heating water and keeping the fridge and freezer cold.  Then the generator shorted out when "stupid me" heated water for tea with the hot pot and not the microwave.  Too much energy surge.  I knew better.

The the food in the fridge started thawing, G got a piece of food stuck somewhere past his lungs but not into his stomach.  That took awhile to get past.  Heimlick (spelling) didn't help much as it's for choking without air not what he had--he could breath.  And then the little book light started fading.  I couldn't read from 6 pm dark until morning.  Yes, yes, others suffered more.  I am just letting you know the trivial stuff.

So.  November.  My freezer is empty (all  the food is gone).  Some ice.  Finally got fresh milk and yogurt from the re-stocked grocery yesterday afternoon.  They had to get rid of all the fresh food in the stores.  Insurance reasons.  Still no produce to speak of. Restocking is slow. But there is bread again.

We got power back late on Tuesday.  Took a shower.  Did a load of washing.  Read my book.  The simple things in life.  Those who didn't get power on Tuesday night will be waiting until Saturday. That's a very LONG wait.  The sound of generators running was ....................... ugh.

Very big fallen trees still line the sides of roads.  Just pushed to the side so traffic could resume. Down the road from me a field of grass is covered in power lines and cracked poles.  On both sides of the road. There are no power crews.  End of the waiting line.  The crews are doing the work that has the most "bang"--getting more homes back up---and the lines with fewer residents wait till the end.

So.  I have missed reading your posts and learning of your news.  It's been solitary.  Power came back but phone service just arrived today.  Cell service is spotty.  My computer needed a reboot and my "page" was lost and needed re-building.  The plumber is making a short stop to see why we have no heat in the "old radiators" in the bedrooms.  So, still very cold at night here.  Fall is here.  Dark at 5 or 5:30.   The Dark Days as they were called in Germany.  Soon, it will be dark at 4pm.

I am starting a pot of soup for our supper.  And then I am going down to the office, turning on the desk lamp, turning on the sewing machine and stitching little patchwork squares.  But, before I do that--I may have some toast and make a cup of tea.