Monday, July 6, 2020

Like molasses in January

Only, it's hot as hell in July.  However, there's been a hitch in my giddyap.  There's been no giddyap at all, frankly.  After much pressure from the Mothership, I took last week as vacation (now in a permanent state of staycation).  I am very frugal with my personal days (or PTO, in firmspeak), so I was rather smug with getting an entire week for only three and two-thirds days out of my PTO bank.  Ha!  The good news is that it rained almost every day of my vacation.  This means that I could take a break from daily watering of the garden and get to all the indoor things on my list.  I achieved one out of two and I bet you can guess which one.

The garden is going gangbusters, thanks to my having more time to tend to it.  I spent Saturday and Sunday weeding, as those were the only two days with no rain forecast.  However, the temperatures have been climbing steadily, along with the humidity, and, as we all know by now, the higher those numbers, the lower my energy.  There was a lot of napping and as much showering as is prudent with my well.

I finished a stack of muslin produce bags for my friend, Marianne's, new business venture - a general store that carries only local, regional and US-made goods, along with their organic vege, mushrooms and eggs.  While I am often the supplier of good ideas, that fact does not always go hand-in-hand with my being the producer of the outcome of those ideas.  I am not a seamstress, by any stretch of the imagination.  And my sewing machine(s) often let me down.  Such was the case.  I have a middle-aged Husqvarna machine that should have worked fine, as it was just serviced at the end of last year.  And these bags only require straight stitching.  Did I mention that I decided to go with French seams?  And that I had no real idea of what that was, other than a) French, therefore fancy, and b) the thing to use when you don't have a serger.  This required a LOT of thread and much bobbin-winding.  Which would have just been slightly annoying had it not been for the fact that I could no loosen that knob thingy on the big wheel thingy that powers the foot mechanism.  It would not loosen, no matter how hard I tried and what tools I plied to it.  I ended up pulling out my mother's elderly 1946 Singer Featherlight to finish the job.  That required much consultation on YouTube.  But the job was done and product delivered.  Heaven help me.

Given the weather, not much knitting has gone onto or come off of the needles.  I did whip up a very cute bunny doll for Marianne's granddaughter - and since, as usual, it wasn't finished until a half hour before I was going to leave to deliver it, no photos were taken.  I am currently working on a bear version of the doll.  I am, apparently, in my "Stuffie Phase".  I will be sure to take a pic of this one.  Which I will take up again when the temperatures drop below 90 with 99 percent humidity.  Sometime in September.

Other than that?  Not much.  I did manage to find homes for a carload of items I had winnowed out before the pandemic.  That was a bonus.  Thrift stores are slowly coming back to life, but with so many caveats that it's almost not worth the effort.  The Goodwill I frequent holds all donations for a period of 5 days before processing them - in large cardboard boxes...outside...  I have pared down my grocery shopping to once every three weeks.  Now that the garden is in second gear, I am able to provide all my salad greens, with zucchinis coming in soon.  Of the eight squash plants I planted - four zucchini and four yellow squash - all are zucchini with one lone yellow squash plant.  I really do have to work on my labeling for next year.  I have a pint jar of half sour pickles in the fridge and enjoyed a stir fry last night with one tiny zucchini, three kinds of kale, rat tail radish pods, and red onion.  Once my photos show up on Blogger (why, oh, why am I still only able to access May pics???) I will show you the fruits of my labors.

I'm back in the saddle this week, with its usual parade of endless Zoom meetings, conference calls and other techie delights.  Speaking of Zoom, I will introduce you to my Zoom persona once I can access the photos I've been amassing.  My sisters, mom and nephew in NC did a Zoom meeting to celebrate Father's Day - the first one without dad.  My mother, bless her, peered over my sister's shoulder and cried, "oh, look at all your little faces!"  She's 96 and a pip.

I hope you are all staying safe - not surprisingly, a lifting of lockdown has created the illusion that all is the same as it was before Covid.  It is not.  I know that I am much better suited (both by personality and lifestyle) to ride out extended isolation, but I also have no intention of spreading this killer to anyone in my family or elsewhere.  Let's hope consideration and empathy win out.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

This pretty much sums up the past couple of weeks.

This is the result of weeks of no rain, temps in the mid- to upper- 90s with humidity percentages to match.  We are a family of damp lumps.  I manage to rustle up the strength to water the garden, do chores and that's about it.  It has been one gloriously bright, hot, sunny day after another and I am damn tired of it.  I have tried leaving my car windows open overnight, putting sheets on the line overnight - all have created rain events in the past, but not now.

If this keeps up, I will either cut the size of the garden in half, or pave it over and join a CSA.  Not nearly as satisfying but so much easier on my old self and my shallow well.  

On the upside, Slimmie is still talking to me, after being hunted down and tortured with oral meds twice a day for two weeks.  We have discovered that the only food he can keep down is a prescription diet that, no surprise, costs more than my monthly food budget.  He is worth every penny.

The grass is crunchy, I am glad I have hay for the sheep, and it's too hot and dry (as in cement-like dirt) to weed.  We are supposed to get some rain within the next few days, but I have little faith in weather predictions.  Once we get a decent rain, I can weed and then I will trot out pictures of the garden.  It has been doing pretty well, considering.  I have been enjoying mixed greens from my cold frame bed - spinach (at last!), arugula and Romaine.  But I am hovering over my summer squash plants - zoodles!  I need zoodles!

My sisters, nephew and family* and I, had our first Zoom 'meeting' on Fathers Day, raising a glass to the old guy - our first FD without him.  It was fun and even our mom joined in (she thinks it's 'magic').  We are entering our new reality, one tiny step at a time.

*They had the nerve to join from poolside, the cheeky darlings...

Monday, June 15, 2020

Last seen wearing ... and big, fat, noisy babies

It has occurred to me that, should I go missing, I must either give more thought to what I wear or embrace the eccentricities that are flourishing during this period of isolation.  If I were to tottle off today, the APB would read:

"Sixty something woman disappears - last seen wearing light grey orthopaedic slip on trainers, multi-colored, hand-knit woolen socks, stretched out once-black shorts (elastic waist), over-sized 24 year old Juvenile Diabetes t-shirt (with holes), washed-out black cotton, zippered hoodie, and a permanently dazed expression.  Approach with caution."

Of course, there are upsides to the description - I'd be easy to spot in a crowd.

I spent a great deal of time this chilly morning (yesterday it was 34 freakin degrees!) in the middle of a hummingbird kerfuffle.  I have been replacing their feeder every other day but I neglected to put the new one out last night.  They were not pleased.  A male red-throated hummer confronted me (it was rather terrifying, actually) about a foot from my face and maintained that aggressive stance until I  replaced the empty feeder with the full one.  Geez.

I would have loved to have stood outside longer, listening to the sweet burbling of the resident wren, but I couldn't hear myself think.  The back fence to the chicken yard was dotted with big, fat crow babies.  Lordalmighty.  It looks as though we have another bumper crop of them.  I suppose, if you are a crow parent, you learn to ignore the incessant noise, but it can wear on your last nerve.

I am going to do a garden tour to allay any fears that my garden is toast (thank you for your concerned comments... :) ), as long as I can conjure up photographs.  My old laptop is not getting along with my new phone, and is so far refusing to recognize any pics taken after May 26.  Fingers crossed.

I am now off to be Zoomified with my co-workers.  Joy.

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Where to begin.

As I don't want to bruise my brain and try to accurately recount the activities of the past umpteen days of radio silence, I will just go along - willy nilly - and give you all the sordid details in no particular order. 

The garden, she is done.  Or mostly done.  About 90 percent.  All that is left is some seed-sowing and re-sowing (dratted red noodle beans!), and mulch.  Because apparently I now live in the Sahara desert. 

The sheep are shorn - and I was not injured this year - hurrah!  That is because I set it up so that I was on the safe side of the fence, while the shearer (youngster that he is) did all the heavy lifting.  I also donated both fleeces (fleeci?) to a local group of beginning fiber artists.  Double hurrah!

The humming birds are here with a vengeance.  Last year, I had to throw out nectar between filling the feeders and this year I can hardly keep up.  I wonder if it has to do with switching to filtered water and organic cane sugar... you think?  Thanks to having access to my yard, garden and deck 24/7, I am able to stand outside and watch the hummers only three feet away.  They are tiny miracles.

There was a sheep breakout.  Luckily, Apria was not aware of it or a party to it - it would have been pure hell to try and herd her back, since she is almost totally blind.  The two fat boys didn't go too far, but it did take some time - and help - to get them back in their fence.  It was totally my fault.  I did not latch the gate.  It took a lot longer to get them moving in the right direction, since my 'help' were cow men and there's a big difference to herding sheep and herding cows.  And, there's Norman.  However, they were eventually tucked back in with no damage done.

My youngest sister and our honorary fourth sister, Babs, were here for a weekend.  Cindy was on her way back to the City, after an absence of over 3 months.  Right in the middle of the protests.  She planned carefully and closed herself into her cozy apartment until the worst was over.  We are still worried about her, as the virus hit her area hard.  We have taken to having a virtual cocktail together every Sunday evening.  My middle sister is back to juggling many balls, with my mother, her husband and a client, and whatever bits of her life she can squeeze in.

I continue to work from home and had my annual review in which, I may oh-so-humbly report, I am outstanding in all aspects.  Or - out, standing in my field...

I have rediscovered the Rhubararita.  I have made copious amounts of granola.  I have rediscovered my love of rice and beans.  I am eating salad from my own garden.  The resident chipmunk, Mongo, and I have come to an understanding.  I leave him piles of nuts, he doesn't eat my lettuce.

As to the furry residents, Slimmie's first bout with vertigo was five years ago.  As you may (or may not) recall, I found him flat on the ground, unable to stand, panting and drooling and crying.  This time, I noted that he seemed to be confused and was crying.  I checked him for injury, but could find nothing.  When he threw up his dinner and then didn't have an appetite, I knew something was wrong.  With all the protocols in place, we can no longer go into the vet's office - you have to wait in the parking lot, with vet techs running to and fro.  My vet called me and said Slim's head was tilted and he was walking in a circle, so the vertigo was back.  I now have to squirt one med down his gullet, twice a day, and crush his pill into his food.  Which has to be soft AND good for a sensitive stomach, so he is greatly enjoying his expensive prescription diet.  He is being so good about it, the little lamb.

On the other end of the spectrum, Peanut has a yeast infection in his ear.  He is definitely NOT a lamb, when it comes to treating it.  Much chasing and rassling proceeds his ear meds.  Then I and all things within a four foot radius are covered in ear med droplets.  So. Much. Fun.

Lovey, feeling left out, threw up three times on the sofa cover.  Apparently, she ate her bully jerky too fast.  I am working my way through the wine cellar.

(Sorry for the absence of photos - mine are not appearing in Blogger, for some reason.  I will try and work it out and put them in the next post.)

Monday, June 8, 2020


Thought I'd pop in to announce that I am still alive.  The longer post I had planned for today got forestalled by Slimmie getting hit with vertigo again.  I will be back!
p.s. The quilting books are actually packaged and in my car!  I'm hitting the PO on the way to the vet.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Slow on the uptake and giveaway results.

Getting used to the 'new' normal is a bumpy road, to be sure.  I have seen a few prickly comments on Facebook about people being tired of hearing about the new normal.  That's too bad, as I don't think we will ever be back to what we were used to.  I was working in the garden yesterday, when I had a panic attack - I had forgotten to clock into work!  At least I knew what day it was, but didn't remember it was a holiday.  I calmed myself down and carried on.
The "new carport
After many fits and starts, the new carport went up (halleluiah!)  My neighbor's granddaughter's husband had it whipped into shape in no time.  I toted pieces and parts and held things upright.  How nice it is to work with someone under 40... with muscles.

There has been a lot of activity in the garden - seed planting (four kinds of beans, cukes, beets, radishes) was done first.  I had to put up the fencing before venturing out with my seedlings.  Sunday I put out onion starts and yesterday was the big push.  The fence went up and tomatoes, summer squash, more cucumbers and some of the peppers went in.  I also planted some sweet peas in the flower bed, and put in the remainder of my herbs (marjoram, English thyme, French tarragon, and parsley).  My sage is still plugging away, as is the Greek and golden oreganos.

Necessary equipment

Squash bed straight ahead; flower bed behind;
beans, far left; tomatoes and peppers front

I am trellising cukes, with rat tail
radishes sheltered beneath.  You'll
have to take my word for it - it's early days.

The tire brigade - perennials and

If you biggify, you'll see

Trellised beans and cukes (more)
in the far bed. Tomatoes and peppers in
the near bed.

Chives, lemon balm and comfrey are rampant!
I managed to keep a grip on myself, vis a vis the tomatoes, this year.  Instead of the 18 plants of last year, I have nine this year.  I have two black cherry plants, two pineapple, a tie-dye, a beefsteak, an ox heart, and two I can't remember.  Thank you, as always, Marianne!  I think she was very grateful that I didn't try to con her into starting all my seeds this year.  Her daughter and granddaughter and granddog are self-quarantining with them.  It's crazy.

I have four kinds of cucumbers this year, and four kinds of beans - two climbing and two bush types.  I am also trying a different kind of 'radish'.  I am one of six people on the Earth that cannot grow radishes.  I am trying a variety that grows radish pods - or rat tails.  They have started to pop up, so I am taking that as a positive sign.  I have kept a bed free for winter squash, as I really miss having it in the garden.  The seeds have germinated, but they're not quite ready for prime time.

I will leave you with a few shots of other parts of the garden, and a totally gratuitous shot of "Slimmie", bless him.
My lovely lilac

Hellebores with bee balm

Front deck geraniums

Luxurious in his vastness
Giveaway Update:

If I have it right, these are the quilting book recipients:

DFW - Quilting Bible
Ladybug - The Art of the Handmade Quilt
ErinfromIowa - Lap Quilting
Cindie - Little Quilts

Please email your mailing address to swomersley at gmail dot com, and I will get them packaged in on their way!

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

How about a giveaway, while we pass the time?

I have had to face the fact that I am not going to learn to do all the things that I want to do.  Plus, there is that pesky lack of focus....and, when it comes to quilting, there is the math....

If any of you are quilters, future quilters or have an interest in quilting (and have more focus than a fruit fly), I offer the following:

the Patchworker's How-To Book (top)

Lap Quilting with Georgia Bonesteel

The Quilting Bible - the Complete PhotoGuide to Machine Quilting

The Art of the Handmade Quilt

Little Quilts

I think, since there are a few of them, we will just have it be a first-comment, first dibs giveaway.  I'll post the names in next Monday's blog post.