Thursday, August 27, 2015

Thursday thoughts, or a long catch up post...


Our plucky heroine has the sick: hopefully just an unpleasant summer cold, but basically my temperature regulation is worse than usual, my head and throat feel like crap, and oh yeah, the spider bites on my chest... but aside from that, here's the news from the last two weeks...

The pool access continues to be a real pleasure, doing my physical therapy as water exercise make a necessity into something of a treat. Had forgotten that being in the water is like turning the gravity off, though maybe that is less of an issue when young and lithe. As well, just being in the pool and walking in the water is a good thing for my lymphedema. The PT exercises will help build my strength and stamina without damage. I am seeing an increase in strength, even though there are some movements that I cannot do now, and may never be able to do, depending on what the story is inside my knee. I am quite pleased that I have found a physical activity that is accessible to me and that I enjoy enough to want to go back more than once.
Since I made my only bathing suit in 1989... I figured that a new suit that will better fit my current size and shape would be the best next sewing project for myself. Fortunately I still have the pattern, Kwik Sew 2690, as my preferred style, a "swimdress", is not one that is currently popular. I will need to do a bit of flat pattern alteration to get a better fit, since I don't have the same figure I did back then; I can still squeeze into the old suit, but it would fit better for just a few inches more in both width and length. I still need to pick up some suitable elastic, and probably some swimsuit lining, which will end up costing more than the outer fabric...  I took a chance on ordering some nylon/spandex swimsuit fabric from a new-to-me online seller, and was very pleased indeed with both the quality of the fabric and the on-sale price ($5.40/yard)
:::

A shibori landscape... this will  be one of many panels of stitched resist, indigo dyed linen, which will eventually become part of a kosode to be worn at Honor Feast...(and afterwards, since I've little need for an ongoing Japanese set of SCA clothing, it will make a splendid house robe, for all but the coldest weather) This is ori nui style stitched shibori. I have been hoping to try this for many years. I did not realise how much time the preparatory stitching will take. These will be my transit handwork. I plan on combining some panels of shibori, some panels of block printing and possibly some panels of katazome... it is all up in the air at this point
:::

8/17 - PT progress report: Knee still won't allow me to kneel, or to get up and down from the floor, but it is much less painful than a month ago, and the surrounding muscles are getting stronger. Water exercise will also help strengthen my arms and core. Plus, I am probably the youngest person in the classes, though far from the most fit.

I am humbled by the variety and friendliness of the women who are all there to either get stronger and more fit, or to maintain their mobility. While some may be disrespectful of "those old ladies who aren't really being athletic" (and yes I have heard that or worse more than once from younger fitter folks both online and IRL) I have nothing but respect for those who while they don't fit our fu**ed cultural ideals, are still refusing to stay home and hidden, but instead are out there being good to themselves
:::
Despite the ongoing heat, managed to complete this one-wire style Laurel medallion and get it shipped out on time. Now back to working on the interminable Dragons Mist coronet project. I WILL get that done by the end of the month!
:::

As a child in Los Angeles decades ago, I have vivid memories of the hills being aflame in the summertime; those images return to haunt my nightmares from time to time. Right now, large chunks of the west are on fire, and this last weekend the various meterological conditions pushed masses of smoke into the Portland metropolitan area and down the Willamette valley, nothing near as bad or terrifying as what folks living in the actual fire zones are experiencing.
Local visibility became rather alarmingly degraded, it was impossible to see across the Columbia River to the far shore, and when crossing the St Johns Bridge, downtown was invisible in the smokey air. While driving out to Trojan Park early Saturday morning to go to Sport of Kings, I noticed that the sun was deep red on the horizon, and as it rose higher in the grey sky, it remained dark red. I remarked to Farbjorn that the light of the red sun, shining through the toxic haze and reflecting in the cooling ponds of the decommissioned nuclear plant was very beautiful. He told me I was a sick woman that was very poetic, in a post-apocalyptic sort of way.
:::


Farewell Granny Weatherwax! Very sad that yesterday night one of my three new young hens was abducted and met her end, one of the local raccoons found her where she (for some reason) did not go to bed in the coop. I blame myself for her demise, since I didn't do my usual head count when shutting them in for the night. I am a bad chook mom.
:::

I was horrified to find that my chicken house is infested with red mites, an almost microscopic arthropod chook parasite. Spent hours emptying, cleaning and scrubbing the coop with a mixture of water/oil/dishsoap/tea tree oil, to hopefully knock the population down. Apparently the extra hot dry weather is just what these sorts of bugs like best. I've never had them before, perhaps they hitchhiked in on the back of the gorram squirrel that keeps going in the chook house to bury things in the bedding.

The short term plan is to acquire lime for whitewash, as that is an old fashioned way to seal the wood and remove places where mites can hide, the longer term plan is to build a new coop, and incorporate both the revisions I've learned in the last ten years, and also make it more secure against varmints macro and micro. But currently I am VERY grateful to Kate Fox who came out double quick on Tuesday to share her chicken whispering abilities, and dusted my two girls and their house with DE... She showed me how to mesmerise a hen very gently and be able to handle them during the day (of course, first you have to catch the hen... She is an expert and I am in awe of her ability)
:::

Last but not least, and to end on a sweet note - the apples remaining on the backyard tree are becoming ripe, at least the red ones are. I went to check on them, and one practically fell off into my hand. I believe them to be Gala apples, and this one was free of codling moth; the seeds are dark and well formed, which is a sign that the apple is ripe enough to eat.

:::

August SMART goals
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 buckwheat hull pillow re-plant lettuces yard waste bin
2 one wire Laurel rattan chair seat broken lawn mower
3 - brown chair seats rotary edger
4 - reattach computer desk grill lid
5 - scrub chook house bag to Goodwill
6 - - 500lbs debris
7 - - -
8 - - -
9 - - -
10 - - -

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

a Tuesday tidbit


sometimes... when you ask, you get. It was too hot today, so our plucky heroine headed over to the local pool with the laminated list of exercises, and my application for a reduced fee, three month, pool membership. Said application was approved, so I can now afford to go do my PT water exercises on a regular basis... and try out the other water exercise classes there... and basically cool off and pretend to be in free fall for a little while every day if I want to. I am a happy, if slightly soggy, camper. I am hoping that eventually all this effort will result in less painful knees.

Monday, August 10, 2015

with gratitude, assistance, and accomplishment


in which our plucky heroine notices how very much progress has happened in movement towards longterm goals...

The list below first took shape back in 2011 in response to a wishlist meme, and it seems like most of what I wish for, that can be given, involves more the gift of time and the sharing of some resources, rather than actual stuff. Gradually, with the assistance of friends and family, over the years almost more than half of these have become reality in my life. Not sure if that means time to revisit goal setting, but am very sure it means that there is everyday gratitude for the help that made these possible
  1. company while sorting/organising supplies - the sewing room, and the workroom both need attention, and I make much better progress with someone else there to keep me company, is a lot more fun to sort fabric etc with the option for tea and chat...
  2. garden beds built/load of garden soil & compost acquired - a truck with an open bed, or money for a dumptruck load, and a number of strong shovel wielding folks. I have a plan, just need helpers.
  3. debris hauled away - - this involves someone with a truck, and help going all round the outdoors of the homeplace, to remove everything that needs to not live here
  4. massage - for many years I had an ongoing every other week housecleaning for massage trade. Even a modest amount of attention paid to sorting out the knots and such that have accumulated in the last six  seven  ten years would help me a lot
  5. bicycle maintenance and tuneup - I have no experience with how to care for my bike, having only fairly recently started riding again. Would love to learn more, and know that the useful tool of bicycle will be adjusted and cared for properly
  6. standard concrete block - in sets of four or six... why, 'cos I have a number of plastic barrels destined for rainwater collection, and they work a lot better if they are elevated. Concrete is damn heavy to cart home on the bus.
  7. wooden kitchen cart - to add additional counter space here, will make having more than one cook in the kitchen a lot easier. FORHOJA has drawers for storage
  8. install the hard flooring - this is a big project only because it involves removing the entire contents of each of the two bedrooms before the flooring can go down. Probably a weekend for each room, one day to move stuff out, one day to put flooring down and move stuff back in (just a guess, the rooms are pretty small, but there is a lot of stuff. Or...
  9. wooden shelves on the walls in bedroom and sewing room - more shelving will allow better storage of fabrics and other supplies, as well as guest bedding
  10. cross country train trip in a sleeper car - I want to visit my friends and family in New England, I love train travel, and it would be an adventure instead of an ordeal.
#1 has happened from time to time, but there is still quite a ways to go with inside the house efforts. #4 is partially a reality, as I have ongoing acupuncture treatments that fill an analogous but not identical niche, and I no longer have the stamina to trade housecleaning as skilled labor..
:::

In the hope of keeping the precious persimmon safe from marauding wildlife, it has been enclosed in a mesh bag... I used a small "laundry delicates" bag and, after carefully placing it over the entire branch end, with the persimmon in the center and the leaves holding the mesh away from the fruit, I then zipped the bag closed gently around the branch... here is hoping this will do the trick, and in a few months there will be a singular and perfect persimmon treat

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Blue Cedar House saves the day


...in which our plucky heroine and her Blue Cedar House pals tackle the major decluttering of the outdoor spaces...

The plan for this weekend was to clear away as much of the non-useful detritus that has accumulated around the yard... the back deck, the shed, the carport and the side yard all were in dire need of attention, though the backyard as a whole is infinitely better than when we started our collaborative efforts two years ago...
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Mindy, Bill, and the Deck of Doom...
 
Looking south across the backyard deck, this is more or less where we started out...

At the end of the day, the back deck looked like this!

When we started on this adventure, this was the view directly outside the back door...

And this is the area I intend to set up a theoretical summer kitchen on the standing table...

This is the current view looking out the back door...

Mindy imitates Vanna... "and here, behind the chainlink gate, is your new summer kitchen..."

This is the proto summer kitchen spot. All the detritus that was formerly underneath the table is gone; I am temporarily storing the wood shavings (chicken bedding) under there, and tossed a piece of barkcloth over the funky plywood tabletop...

The cardboard in the background behind the tabletop is a Useful & Temporary Windscreen, waiting for another load of mulch chippings and it will be layered underneath the mulch in the backyard to destroy grass. Now with deploying an extension cord, and with a substantial trivet underneath, can use the crock pot or convection oven outside the back door...

Looking inside the shed, which was formerly too scarey to photograph... now 3/4 of the contents (all non-useable crap) are gone, and the supplies and tools that remain are all accessible:

A substantial pile of dry-rotted woodstuff, and assorted garbage, destined for the transfer station, it added up to just over 500 pounds. Hard to tell the scale in the photo, but there are several full size pallets in the base of the pile-o-wood-junk

:::

One side project that happened was that new sturdy plywood replacement seat supports were cut for both the rattan chair on the front porch, and the brown vintage chairs in the living room...

:::

and... in unrelated but Very Exciting news...For the first time ever, there is actual fruit on the Fuyu persimmon tree!! I've never seen flowers on the tree, and nary a fruit since it was planted seven years ago.. There is only this one fruit (actual size about like a smallish tomato) and it isn't anywhere near ripe, but still, There was much loud squee-ing when I spyed it at the end of a branch!


:::

August SMART goals
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 buckwheat hull pillow re-plant lettuces yard waste bin
2 - rattan chair seat broken lawn mower
3 - brown chair seats rotary edger
4 - - grill lid
5 - - bag to Goodwill
6 - - 500lbs debris
7 - - -
8 - - -
9 - - -
10 - - -

Friday, August 7, 2015

stitch and swim


in which our plucky heroine gets into hot water...

... well warm-ish water, actually. Wednesday afternoons are the Free Open Play Swim at the local city pool, and it seemed like a good chance to check out the pool. It was surprisingly not jammed with people; while the shallower half had lots of children, and parents and babies, the deeper half had plenty of room. I ended up walking back and forth in the water for about forty minutes, and it was actually pleasant, almost fun.

Afterwards, I asked at the front desk to get information about the assorted options and fees. A three month pass covers all admission and classes except swim lessons, and since I learned to swim as a child, lessons are redundant. I am going to apply for financial aid to help get a city pool membership... if I can go there more often, it will continue my journey to recovery. The PT guy was even willing to write me a letter if that would help!

Speaking of which, I did well at PT today, and have a new set of exercises to be done in water, when I can return to the pool for next weeks free afternoon. They even laminated the exercise description sheet for me, so I can take it poolside! The physical therapist was very encouraging both about my progress so far and about my attitude.
:::

It is that time of year again, when the turning wheel of evjc and Stitchers Guild starts another seasonal 6PAC. Looking through my closet the highest priorities are a few everyday dresses, two new not-black pinafores, and maybe some raingear... so, an Autumn 6PAC for me would look like:
  • rain shoulder-capelet in black Gore-Tex
  • pinafore in indigo denim
  • pinafore in brown brushed twill
  • everyday dress in indigo pinstripe
  • everyday dress in brown/black ikat
  • popover dress in japanese double gauze
I have so much sewing I need to do for me!!! this only skims the surface, I need six everyday dresses!! I need five more popover dresses!! I need a raincoat! And I'd like a new cardigan sweater, maybe a new rainhat, and some leggings for the winter that will surely come someday... Step by step will see the eventual refurbishment of my wardrobe. For my own memory jog, here is the overall grid plan for my clothing - and here is the plan from last autumn, including my wardrobe mission statement.

Love who you are, not who you are not... I can have pretty and useful clothing, I can put effort into my workshop tools and infrastructure because if I believe in me and belove in me!

Thursday, August 6, 2015

thoughtful Thursday


in which our plucky heroine continues making kaizen changes, pays attention to the good, and contemplates some new and old wardrobe planning...

This morning, after reading "Manage your Day to Day" over the last several days, I decided that putting the studio work first, even ahead of daily chores, would be a valuable experiment. Indeed, this made a big difference in how productive my day was, and I will change my developing routine to doing my housey-chores at the end of the day. After all, I don't need much bandwidth for things like laundry and cleaning.
:::

Planted on August 1st, sprouted on August 4th - new lettuces in the salad table. These seedlings will need to be thinned out at least twice, as I learned in my previous attempt, but so far they are looking good! The surface is entirely covered with bird netting, barely visible in this photo, to keep squirrely varmints from digging. I will make a twiggy support to hold the netting a bit higher, to allow the plants to grow safely unmolested by fuzz-tailed rodents. If I keep these well watered, they will hopefully do well in the lower light under the porch roof.
:::

Yesterday, while riding my bike home from grocery shopping, saw a tree service crew dropping off a load of wood chippings around the corner... After some conversation they were willing to add me to their list of places that were desirous of proto-mulch. Fingers crossed it will arrive soon, for spreading out in various places around the backyard.
:::

August SMART goals
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 buckwheat hull pillow re-plant lettuces -
2 - - -
3 - - -
4 - - -
5 - - -
6 - - -
7 - - -
8 - - -
9 - - -
10 - - -



Tuesday, August 4, 2015

paying attention


Yesterday there was something red in the succulent planter...


...a seven spotted ladybug...


all curled up atop one of the plants!

Monday, August 3, 2015

Double gauze


in which our plucky heroine is self indulgent...

Nani Iro double gauze fabric, that I ordered* last month from Japan arrived this morning... It is even more lovely in person than in the photograph. The texture is soft and smooth, and the metallic dots are subtle. This fabric should make a lovely floaty summer dress. I am curious about how the texture will change when it is washed, as well as the shrinkage...

... later that day - Well I am pleasantly surprised at the modest amount of shrinkage of the double gauze. Now granted, I didn't treat the fabric harshly. I usually go one step beyond my normal laundry treatment when pre-shrinking, but in this case chose to almost follow Marcy Tilton's suggestion for how to prep the fabric (she carries it in one of the other colorways). I did a cold wash/gentle cycle, and hung the fabric on the clothesline til it was almost dry, then set the dryer on air fluff and ran the fabric through for a while until it was all the way dry, not wanting the clothesline to create curved folds...

The fabric started just over 4 meters long, at 4 yards and 17 inches in length, and 43 inches wide. After pre-treatment it was 4 yards and 13 1/2 inches in length and 41 1/2" wide. It did soften up and become slightly more textured, but not at all like the gauze fabric I am familiar with. After some time with the calculator, and remembering my old arithmetic from years ago: shrinkage was 3.5% in the width, and  2.2% in the length. Certainly if washed hot and run through the dryer, it will likely shrink more, but I always wash my clothing laundry on cold, and remembering to hang this to dry (once it is made up into a dress) will not be onerous.

* ordered from shimgraphica via Etsy...

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Saturday snippets


In which our plucky heroine plays catch up with some of the assorted bits that happened over the last week...

Moonrise tonight was amazing, the full moon, last night's blue moon, was madder red in the eastern sky, as I rode my bike to the grocery store, through the swampy soupy heat after ten at night...
:::

WTF!?! Sometime in the night, some varmint decided that tearing apart the chair cushion on my front porch was a good idea. I suspect squirrels as opposed to rats, which would have left droppings as well as the torn up foam bits on the porch floor. Anyone else have a suggestion as to what may have done this, and what if anything would have prevented it? (guess it has just been sheer luck that the chair has been outdoors for several years on the porch unmolested...)

:::

Experimental zucchini planting has sprouted... Have read/heard that planting summer squash in July can yield young squash in late summer early autumn, depending on the weather. Figured it was worth a try, since baby squash is a favored vegetable here. Unfortunately, the day after they sprouted, the gorram squirrel (or whatever it is that has chosen my front porch landscape to dig holes in and chew up furniture) decided to excavate that side of the self watering planter, and destroyed one and uprooted the other two infant squash. In the morning when I found the carnage, I replanted them and covered the surface of the planter box with a combination of old chicken wire and many sharp pointy sticks

:::

Good news! The new physical therapy dude this week was MUCH better at explaining things, AND there has been measurable progress since my first visit two weeks ago. This leaves me feeling encouraged, as opposed to how I have been feeling for the last two weeks. Yes my legs/knees still hurt, but my effort is worth it if I get my mobility back and am stronger than when I started. I get one additional exercise to add to the six I am already doing each day.
:::

I want to turn the area just outside my back door into a proper micro summer kitchen spot. Have been using it informally that way for the last month, on and off, but with a bit of effort, and the decluttering of that space, it could be quite pleasant. And if this sort of summer heat we've been having is the "new normal", a way to cook outdoors the things that don't need constant attention will keep the kitchen a lot cooler. The long range plan is to also set up a summer workspace under the carport as well, for the sort of messy projects, like textile dyeing, or felting, that are best kept out of the house... bit by bit progress will happen.

I have a little crock pot, and a tabletop convection oven, and also an alcohol stove and a wood/charcoal rocket stove, all of which could be used outdoors. The area outside the back door is covered by an extension of the carport - my idea is to clear away the assorted stuff stored there, and use the old standing workbench as a plain (or tiled) tabletop that set up as a cooking area, and build a plinth/platform with a concrete top for using the rocket stove, so that it is at a good height as well.

The actual stoves/oven/etc will continue to be stored in the house, except when being used. While a cob oven would be delightful, given the difficulty of acquiring enough wood to heat such a thing, sans any transport save shanks mare or bicycle, I think I will stick with heat sources that are a little easier to acquire. The rocket stove can use small branches and prunings. Plus summer kitchen adds both resiliency and earthquake preparedness points, FTW...
:::

July SMART goals
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 blue tunic for B chook shade tarp recycle bin full
2 grey gown for M toilet seat replaced yardwaste bin
3 linen gown for S - codling apples
4 black batik popover - -
5 Laurel brooch setting - -
6 - - -
7 - - -
8 - - -
9 - - -
10 - - -
:::

August SMART goals
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 - - -
2 - - -
3 - - -
4 - - -
5 - - -
6 - - -
7 - - -
8 - - -
9 - - -
10 - - -