Thursday, June 30, 2011

wishful Wednesday - kale

in which our plucky heroine's work in all undone...

Once upon a time there were three hens: Speckledy, Sparkley, and Spot. Not that long ago Spot acquired a new name: "Stupid" (why you may ask, well go here and read the second section down, after the Sea of Holes and all the medical fu) Well today, Stupid almost acquired her third and final name: "Supper"...

I am sooo mad, mostly at myself for being absent-minded in my delight at having company. See... S & B came over this afternoon, and B was willing to mow my very shaggy backyard (I'd intended mowing a few days ago, but shoulder fu intervened) He did an absolutely splendid job, then came back in to join us. A little while later C arrived here, a stopping point on her way south to the War, and we all were having much good conversation. I'd somehow forgotten that not only can said hen escape from the henyard, and had done so, and also entirely forgotten to check that the gate to the side yard had been closed...

The Very Sad Results - my lovely lacinato kale plant babies are now mostly stubs. Some are entirely gone. While said hen fortunately ignored the other plant babies, she systematically destroyed all my autumn greens, before they could even get started. Even the ones that I'd interplanted with the other new plants. (sigh) Since they were really new starts, there is probably not enough root system for them to regrow, without leaves anyhow... (grrrr... arrrgh...)

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

new glasses and other random bits

This just in, glasses and sunglasses ordered online two weeks ago have arrived today; am happy to now have a pair of perscription sunglasses ($24) and a pair of polycarbonate backup/safety/shooting glasses ($28). They fit well, seem to match my pupil distance accurately, and are very easy on the pocketbook. Shall probably go ahead and order backup bifocals as well, (they run about $50). There are a number of online sources, these came from Zenni Optical.

While you do not get the personal attention and fitting help that a local shop would provide, the savings (at least a factor of ten) makes forgoing that worth it. These are not my "dream" glasses, I did look long and hard around Portland to find a local shop that would actually sell me what I really wanted (cable temples), but was entirely unsuccessful. Learning when close enough is okay is a useful adult skill. I'd rather have these backups in hand, and use my limited resources to add additional resilient resources to Acorn Cottage, rather than spend several hundred dollars on only one pair... (thanks to Andrea for the initial idea and useful feedback)
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My student Amelia has been experimenting with applying enamel to only a portion of the metal base plate, creating a more dimensional effect. I'd say that her experiments are successful; they are certainly attractive!
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I now have a better diagnosis after today's doc visit - is rotator cuff tendinitis :(
can stop taking heavy meds, on the advice of regular doc (yay!! current meds ineffective for pain and have most unpleasant side effects) He suggested cortisone in shoulder then a course of physical therapy, has anyone out there had similar injection with good or bad results?

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


Pain is like the elephant in the living room, not in that no one talks about it, but that it takes up all the central space, leaving only small peripheral areas visible...

here are a few bits of peripheralia:
the northside garden, which S helped me set up, now is full of plants. I cheated and bought plant starts. From front to back, there is Lacinato Kale, Golden Chard, and Jimmy Nardello peppers. Barely visible are arugala, and walking onions. My hope is to be able to harvest some greens for a long time, once the plants get large enough, with peppers for a bit of a change once in a long while. Not sure if this area gets enought sun for peppers, but we'll see.
The arugala that was planted a while back is all going to seed. Not only are the flowers pretty, but they make a tasty addition to salad, having much the same flavor as the arugala leaves.
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This is what my new flashlight looks like, with the diffusion cap that I made. As you can see, it throws quite a bit of light even on the lowest setting. Am very happy with the way it is designed to be able to stand on end as a kind of LED candle...

Monday, June 27, 2011

miserable Monday

I spent most of today at the ER :(

Have been having very intense pain on my left arm/shoulder/neck etc. Fortunately it seems that I am not having a heart attack, or a stroke, and there are no broken bones,dislocation etc that would show on an x-ray. Meds are making me really loopy, and take a wee bit of the edge off the pain. Am not a happy camper at all right now...

I was fine one day and woke up like this; supposedly I have "strained" my neck and shoulder... how does that happen whilst one is fast asleep is rather baffling? Despite Vicodin it still really hurts... have also been given scarey hi-power anti-inflammatories to take, and am using ice-gel packs from the freezer.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Friday fragments

The lovage in the front yard is about to blossom, the flower stalks are well over six feet tall, and all the yellowgreen against the burgundy/black of the ornamental plum tree foliage is a joy. This year might cut a bunch of the foliage and try various ways of preserving it. Have only ever used some for adding to soups, lovage is an easy way to get a celery flavor, without having to actually grow celery, which is notably difficult. Am wondering how well it would dry, or if preserving it in salt, as is sometimes done with basil, would work better...
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Last night, didn't manage to get to taking the laundry down from the line 'till almost full dark. But not quite... instead, managed to get outside just as the sky had turned to that certain luminous blue, that lifts the heart and makes me want to stamp my feet with bliss...
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Managed to attach the Very Tiny split-rings to my flashlight, and used the Celtic Button knot to put together an easy adjustable paracord necklace, as was not 100% sure about how secure the skinny plumber's chain would be. Read in some online forum or another about using the cap from a chapstick as a flashlight diffuser, so after picking up one from the dollar store, it took only a bit of careful knifework to scrape the inside of the cap for a perfect fit. Now the cap "snaps" neatly onto the business end of the flashlight, and turns it into a kind of lamp if needed/desired
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The house I was cleaning today is home to a cat named "Henri"...
but I usually refer to him as "Ornery"
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Woke up yesterday with a very unhappy left arm, lots of pain, wouldn't raise for much of any distance. So trundled off to Urgent Care, wanted to make sure it wasn't anything dire. Was not, at least according to their flowcharts, which is good. Very odd, what is it with my left side?? Feels like my body is just falling apart this summer. Last night tried a different medicine (Flexeril, that was prescribed), ugh! was subject to vividly unpleasant dreams and for much of today was really unable to properly wake up. As in each time I sat down was overcome with a desire to fall asleep. Made getting my workaday jobs done rather difficult and I only took a quarter of the tablet just before bedtime; can see why the label says do not drive or work. Fortunately, the arm seems to have responded to forced chemical relaxation, but the knee, which was feeling better-ish, is now feeling worse again...

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Tuesday tidbits

in which there is a house visitation, and our plucky heroine gets to indulge in several of her favorite vices in a span of twenty-four hours...

Yesterday was the solstice, and a rare day indeed that actually felt like summertime. It was sunny and the temperature got up somewhere in the 80's. shocking! The baby chard plants looked rather prostrated, and even the young fig trees were feeling the heat.

Fearless student Amelia came over for Open Studio as usual, though the warmth of Mr Hot (the 1500°F kiln) was rather less welcome than in the wintertime. Towards the end of the evening, through the front window I saw a familiar truck, and trundling along behind, the house I love to visit...
Yes indeed, G had arrived, as promised stopping off at Acorn Cottage on the first leg of his long trip. I found it very amusing that his house had come to visit my house! There was lots of poring over maps and routes, and various exchanges occurred; all in all it was a lovely visit.

Later today, after goodbyes were said and wheels rolled off towards further journeying, I headed out to do more errands. Had need of acquiring more split rings, since all the small ones around the house in various keys had been commandeered to create a suitable and adjustable camera necklace/leash as an impromptu bon-voyage gift. Helpful tool-using monkey creates what is needful with things available around the house - fortunately Acorn Cottage has all sorts of materials and tools to hand...

...but... I had already thought that a trip to Winks would be a good thing. And it was. I adore Winks, it makes my little technical tactical hardware-loving heart go pitter-pat. There were split rings in sizes all the way down to 3/16". Now a proper necklace/leash can be fabricated for my Maratac flashlight, that will allow it to stand on its endcap and be used as a "candle" (if desired, and if I make a diffuser for the working end) Also came home with a good assortment of other sizes, for replacing on all the keys and key-ring-tools, and to allow for some future experimentation.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

the next message is always there...

Yesterday managed to do rather a bit of walkabout, and my knee seems to be holding up and improving (yay! - am hoping to avoid being tapped like a maple tree again). While rambling up my street towards the bus stop, one of the neighbor boys asked me if I wanted a picture, held out three little sketches, and I chose the middle one.
I adore child artwork, though there are few children around in my life. I treasure the various images that I do have, mostly created by the children of friends. On the back of this piece it was delightfully labeled: "weirddrawingsinc.©" and his name with a small monogram
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In additional breaking news, the missing object has returned. Apparently the Good Folk were satisfied with the offering of cookies and whiskey, and now there is no need to re-do a major bit of workroom efforts. (am greatly relieved, and sure that A and F, who helped me madly search last Tuesday, will be amused)
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I couldn't help but spend a bit of time messing about making some paracord lanyard/fobs today. They are not terribly difficult, but are somehow very satisfying to construct, The initial impetus is that my wee flashlight arrived on my doorstep. I am quite pleased with both the size, the (apparent) sturdiness, and the brightness of the LED. Of course, the light is so very small that none of my split rings are tiny enough for the lanyard clip opening, so I am currently wearing it on extra-small diameter plumbers chain as a necklace, until suitable hardware can be located. The rest of my EDC gadgets are now on their own ring, separate from my keys. With a bit of thought and knotty efforts, there will eventually be a happy way to keep all these bits and bobs in tidy order. and I forsee a trip to Winks in the not too distant future, for Useful Hardware Browsing and possible acquisition...
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and just because it is rising Midsummer, here is a lovely japanese iris...

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Saturday snippets - birthday wishes

Fifty years ago today, my mother was working hard. A day or two later, she came home with my brother...

My little brother B grew up to be a man with all kinds of interesting skills and abilities.

In the middle of his adult life, he turned his back on life as an accountant and went back to school to become a middle school social studies teacher. He is married to a wonderful woman and the father of my young nephew B. (not to be confused with my other, adult, nephew B)

Here's wishing you many happy returns of your natal day - keep on running, and singing, and teaching and having a great time! - with love, from your little big sister

Friday, June 17, 2011

holey holey holey, or I've had better days...

Biting bugs make holes in you, to eat, or to acquire human protein for other reasons best not examined too closely. Our plucky heroine is far too tasty to beings of the six legged kind, and has taken a while to properly recover. While most of the many reactive bites were quickly dealt with through the mercies of modern medicine, there was one special bite, near my left knee, that started looking septic. (bad bug, not to wash mouth well before biting) However, after four days of heavy-duty antibiotic, the leg is only slightly improved, and is causing me additional issues by not wanting to bend properly.

A third trip to the medics, and they are also somewhat baffled, whatever is going on is not readily obvious. This is both good and not so good, the good thing is that there is no obvious horrific issue, and the bad thing is that there is no readily deal-with remedy...

My doc suggested that 'twould be best to first figure out what its wrong before throwing assorted remedies at the problem. O..kay... sounds reasonable to me...

The way to find out what is happening in my knee is to take samples. Suffice it to say that the process was not fun, and worse yet, despite several attempts, did not yield any useful samples; will all need done over again while under an ultrasound camera, (camera needed in order to visibly locate any fluid inside the knee for sampling). Am not looking forward to the prospect. Spent the whole procedure with tears falling from my eyes, imagining that I was holding tight to a friend's hands, remembering Captain Mal's words to Simon*, and reassuring the doc that I knew she was not trying to hurt me and that I was okay. After I caught my breath from that little interlude, it was necessary to go and sit in the lobby for an hour, drinking water every five minutes, until the phlebotomist could find my tiny little veins to tap for several vials of precious bodily fluid to be tested. I am grateful to have the option to have some medical care, there have been many decades in my life where I would have simply made do with some aspirin, or yucca root powder, and maybe an ace bandage. It was not the afternoon I'd planned, for sure...
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In other breaking news here at Acorn Cottage, the third hen, formerly known as "Spot" is now re-named "Stupid" Why the change? Well last night as usual, the henhouse door was closed once it was dark, to keep the girls safe from nighttime predators. Little did I know that the dang stupid hen had found her way outside the chicken yard but not figured out how to get back in and go to bed with the other hens. I have no idea where she spent the night, but come false dawn she was rampaging around the yard, hollering at the top of her little chicken lungs, letting me, and everyone around, know that she was awake!! and where were her sister hens!! By the time I pulled myself together enough to go outside, make sure there was no raccoon or anything else dangerous, let the other hens out, and figure out how to get her back in the hen-yard, I was wide awake, and it was maybe ten past five.
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Heading home from this afternoons activities, it seemed a Good Idea to partake of something sustaining, and the way back to Acorn Cottage leads right past my own neighborhood New Seasons. Their deli has good hot and cold food options, and a usually peaceful room for sitting and eating. After getting on the outside of some roasted chicken and a plate of salad greens, I felt more able to tackle the rest of the journey. One thing that caught my eye was that each of the wee tables in the deli-seating had a different bouquet of real flowers, my table had these incredible orchids! I have a real weakness for cut flowers, they always make me feel ridiculously wealthy, because they are an extravagent and ephemeral indulgence, and having real flowers on the table really lifted my spirits...

* you ain't weak, and that's not nothin'

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Thursday thoughts

In the interest of increased resilience, and grateful for my math error that had the thick letter from the IRS telling me that they were sending me money back*, I decided to go ahead and purchase a few things that have been on my list for several years...

I ordered two pairs of glasses from Zenni Optical, to try out the "ordering glasses online" thing. Chose 80% grey prescription sunglasses, and single-vision clear polycarbonate, in the same style frame. The polycarbonate lenses will be ideal for target shooting, since with side shields I will no longer need to wear safety glasses OVER my regular glasses when we go to the range. If these pairs of single vision glasses work well, I shall order a pair of backup bifocals as well. At less than $30 a pair, this seems a worthwhile experiment, 'specially since my current pair cost over $300 ten years ago.

Have been really wanting a little pocket flashlight to add to my EDC. I have several larger ones at home, a big multi-C-cell maglite, a "shake" flashlight, and the windup emergency radio has an LED light function as well, but none of those will be of any use if I am away from Acorn Cottage without them. After some research, I decided to order the Maratac AAA light. It looks to be truly tiny and very powerful (link to YouTube video), and since I recently acquired a passel of eneloop batteries from Costco, keeping it happy should not be too difficult. (Am hoping to find a good option for solar battery charger/cell phone charger, still doing research on that...)

The third thing that I ordered is a Trangia cookset. I have been eyeing these online for a number of years now; they use a very simple alcohol burner (rather than the pressurised, non-refillable butane cartridge of my current camping stove). Suitable fuel is available in any hardware store (denatured alcohol), drugstore (rubbing alcohol) or liquor store (high proof drinking alcohol). Since the design has been in use for decades all around the world, it would seem ideal for a simple backup cooking alternative. Since I waited years to make this purchase, the company no longer makes the Duossal (stainless steel inside/aluminum outside) cookset, so the Ultralight Hardanodized is my choice for the best option. Once it arrives, shall need to practice outdoor cooking... perhaps as one of the summertime Crafternoon activities? This option, combined with my Kelly Kettle, should give me useful and portable ways to deal with creating hot food and boiling water...

*most of the several hundred dollars is being stashed away in my nest egg for when I have hand surgery, but it seemed a good idea to acquire these various useful tools now...

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Tuesday tidbits

It has been a long cold springtime, even though it is almost the summer solstice. Not that I mind, since for me, cold is easier to deal with than too much heat. Though I've not done as much with the gardening as would be ideal, it is apparent the difference between plants that relate to warmth and plants that relate to daylength. The garlic that was planted last year is doing alright, the plants have all created their lovely curly scapes, which have been cut off and will be part of tomorrow's dinner. The theory is that the scapes (flowering/potential fruiting parts) if allowed to flourish on the plant will take energy that would otherwise go to the developing garlic cloves. So I eat them instead. Someday it would be lovely to have enough garlic growing to make pickled scapes; the ones that my Oly pals made a few years back were superb. And just as should be, the culinary sage is blooming next to the front walk, with vivid purple blossoms, and in the backyard, the feral roses are opening their crimson blooms to the watery sunlight...

On visiting the doc for my continuing bug-bite saga, also found out that the random incidents of dizzy spells are actually most likely the very selfsame benign vertigo that my mother also has. Or as the doc said, I have rocks in my head, actually little tiny crystal rocks in my balancing organelles in my inner ear. Was a relief to know that my description of the peculiar symptoms matches something most likely harmless. And while it was interesting to have local vertical disappear from time to time, am glad it has a simple explanation.

Watching the hens in the backyard this afternoon, one of the girls has figured out how to get through the most open of the fencing and back into the rest of the yard. Fortunately, there is more of the chicken wire, and that "escape route" can be closed off. They will do the most good confined to the area I want cultivated, and as there is both sun (when we have any) and shade as well as nice dust bath spots, it is no hardship on the hens to stay in that half of the yard

Monday, June 13, 2011

fifty feet

My goretex rainhat has a new hatband...
As part of the ongoing project of creating an enhanced EDC for greater resiliency, we have been playing around with paracord. The elaborate decorative knotwork is both easy to do, and a way of keeping quite a bit (about 50') of useful string on hand, should some situation require it.

The band itself is a variation of the double solomon bar, also called a cobra knot , and the bobbles on the cord ends are a monkeys fist knot, and a turks head ball.

There are so many resources online for paracord knotwork; my favorites are this animated knot site, and Stormdrane's blog. Of course, YouTube has a myriad of knotwork videos, and Instructables has lots of folks ideas for more things to do with paracord. The useful thing about paracord is that it can be used "as is" or deconstructed, since it is a woven sheath with seven thinner nylon lines as filling inside. Do I expect to take apart my hatband? Probably not, and it would take a while to untie all the knots, but nonetheless it is there if ever the need came up...

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Sunday snippets

Yesterday was brought to me by the letter "M". A trip to Mill Ends where I acquired Materials (for a useful project), and on the way home was gifted with both Meat (tasty lamb bits) and Music (an iPod!, loaded with a great assortment of old favorites and new treats, which will make my workaday housekeeping jobs much more enjoyable) Truly I have wonderful friends!

On a street corner in my neighborhood, white wisteria clambers over the chain link fence and reaches for the nearby trees. Before last Monday, I never knew that wisteria was not only lovely to look at, but delectably scented as well; walking hand in hand through a soft June night is a memory that will be treasured forever...

Today managed to mow the front yard before it started raining, do a bit of weeding, then had a good afternoon visit with S & B, a kind of mini-Crafternoon. S is working on some new fun artwork, tiny monsters (magnets and pendants) for the upcoming Last Thursday Alberta Art shindig. B continued work on his paracord creations, and I began working on the screen window for G. The plan is to transfer the rough cardboard pattern to paper, cut out the bias binding, and bind the screen edges before adding velcro all around. The matching velcro will be attached all around the window frame, and hopefully will prove suitably bug proof.

"Wisteria" song not related to previous comment;
bittersweet in the way that Richard Shindell does so well

Across the street from the wonderul wisteria, this huge dark-leaf shrub is, I believe, a variety of European Black Elder. It is at least ten feet high and almost as wide, with myriads of pink blossoms. It has been a hope of mine, to plant some variety of this around Acorn Cottage, as elderberries are good for making a soothing syrup that is good immune support for those winter ailments and throat troubles.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Friday fragments - third time is the charm

I'd meant to post these images sooner. This is the other of the two medallions that were made in time for Laurel elevations at the Grand Thing. It was inspired by Finnish Saami style, and has, unlike most of my work, no enameling at all... The decoration is all stamped and wiggle-cut engraving on silver, with soldered fabricated birdfoot "clattering pendants", and a cast silver bird charm (that was provided by A, who commissioned the work)

the initial sketches for this piece, showing how the ideas began to take form:

and the two silver discs, showing the wiggle-cut engraving:

more Friday fragments - home on the range

Later (on Wednesday) some friends arrived...

look at all the decorative copper:

chasing and repousse

decorative stamping

pierced and chased
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Later we all headed down the hill to spend some time to do what my dear friend A described as "making sudden loud noises and knocking over cans..." There is a nice safe place for such fun to happen:

Among other things, I learned that 20 ga is much more appropriate to our plucky heroine than 12 ga...

Friday fragments

'tis hard to concentrate, as I am currently covered in bandaids - a new to me type of biting insect, the no-see-um (denizen of deep damp dark woodland), has decided that my tender flesh is the most delectable thing since bacon...
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there are all sorts of lovely wildflowers blooming this time of year:

I saw thimbleberry blossoms

and orange honeysuckle buds

waiting for friends to arrive, I saw something red dancing in the grass

red and yellow native columbine
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Sunday, June 5, 2011

turn turn turn

Thanks to my awesome Crafternoon pals, the henhouse is now properly reoriented! It has been turned 180° from the former location, and inserted into the appropriate gap in the salvaged fencing around the new chicken yard. (the old chicken yard will eventually become raised beds for apapargus and annual herbs)

For the next year or so, the girls will be busy killing the grass, scratching up the weeds (and eating weed seeds) and fertilising the future garden beds. Can you say appropriate technology? I knew you could... Not only that, but now the front of the henhouse is visible from the bedroom window, and I can see the lovely iron door weight made specially for Acorn Cottage's chickens by Heidi of White Hart Forge.

The fencing around the new hen yard is made from scraps of salvaged wire fence of various gauge and arrangement. It runs in a very rough semicircle around the end of the "stupid deck" and encloses the arborvitae on either side of the back of Acorn Cottage. This means that it also runs along the path from the house to the henhouse. Wire fencing is dark grey, and almost invisible in the twilight. Ask me how I know this...
based on the flagging of tent guy ropes, I've added some white flagging made from scraps of an old white camping tarp; while rather too ratty/fragile for actual tarp use, it should hold up well enough for the current use.

As you can see, the hens are not at all fussed by their new digs...

Friday, June 3, 2011

a busy day...

'twas a shifted day for my ordinary housekeeping work, since the House of Five Dogs didn't happen on Memorial Day proper, but moved to today instead. After that was done, met with S and B for a very pleasant errand-running afternoon all around the town as it were.

Headed first to Uwajimaya, via the scenic route, across the prettiest bridge in Portland, then up and over Skyline Drive. Stopped at a sweet cemetery overlook, and the finally-springtime sunlight just lit up the mountains...

At Uwajimaya, not only was I able to find a large tin of soy sauce (not in plastic, I do not like to store wet foodstuffs in plastic) for my pantry storage, but they also carried a different line of asian veggie seeds that I've not seen anywhere else around town: Kitazawa Seed Company. Red Shiso, also called Perilla, is a favorite herb, and I'd neglected to save any seed the last time I grew some, had I known how difficult it would be to acquire some more, would have not been so careless. Anyway, there were both red and green shiso seeds available, so all is well; the red shiso leaves can also be used to add a pink color to homemade pickled sushi ginger. Showing admirable self-restraint, I did not purchase a copy of Porco Rosso, though it is on my very short list of desired DVD's; the modest (actually truly minscule) discretionary budget is all allocated for more utilitarian needs.

From Beaverton we curved back to the city, heading to Sellwood and the Dusty Tiger Mall of Collectibles, where my friends have a shop, doing business as Bear and the Raven (Facebook link) They both have an eye for interesting and unusual artifacts, but I was particularly taken with this treadle sewing machine. With only a bit of effort, it could be completely restored to full functionality.

and look at the gorgeous decorative woodwork...

Of course, there are all sorts of other delightful trinkets and treasures in their shop...
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After that interlude, we headed back north, making a stop at Andy and Bax, to pick up some paracord for our Sunday projects - resiliency meets the Crafternooon crowd. The plan is for trying out making knotted hatbands/bracelets/etc as a way to add cordage to our EDC.* Should be fun! (or bring along whatever current handwork project you have going, or just come and hang out). So yeah, there is Crafternoon this Sunday, same as always, tea, snacks, chat and crafting; more tasty snacks are welcome but not required, I will have some, and tea... 1 PM to 5-ish this Sunday

*(By the way, after going out to Hillsboro to help with the SCA demo at the middle school medieval fair, it was with great amusement realised that Viking women were superb at EDC, my Viking kit has all sorts of useful tools of everyday life attached to my belt and brooches.)