Monday, December 29, 2008

local commentary

The snow is gone, and my alliums are flat. It is kind of amazing to me that the one bunch of greeen onion ends that I planted last winter kept growing for a year, and would be still going strong if the snow and ice hadn't crushed them. I was cutting on that bunch all year; it is a really easy way to have partial allium self-sufficency... buy a bunch of green onions, cut at about 2" off the bottom, eat the tops and plant the green and white rooty ends in a big planter box. They will start to grow and before too long you can start cutting bits off, just like big chives.

There was a point where the patches of snow in the backyard looked like the hide of a pinto pony, all grey-white and crushed greenness, oddly appealing. We've a bit of a reprieve, and if the weather holds above freezing after 12th Night, I intend to get out there and do some of the garden tidying that I neglected earlier in the year. Here's hoping. Maybe I can actually get one of the beds dealt with and plant my garlic. I know it is rather too late for fall planting, but if the ground isn't frozen it should work. We shall see...

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Seven Days of Happy: Day 7

...well, I'm only a bit late posting this, just never got around to the computer yesterday... Ironically, my happy thing is that technology allows us to keep in touch. That I can see holiday pictures from Berkeley, get messages New Zealand and receive good wishes from friends all over the sweet world makes me a very happy girl. Yuletide greetings to all, from Acorn Cottage here in snowy Portland!
I love beautiful handmade ceramics, so it was a pleasant surprise that my Sekrit Santa gift was a wee white pottery pipkin, made by the oh-so-talented Gwen-the-Potter.

... I found the perfect spot for it
atop the shelf-cupboard next to my front door. I love all the off-white colors together.

(I was trying to figure out what the collage mirror was reflecting, and I realised that it is the sculptural japanese paper lantern, and a tiny glimpse of the paint-by-numbers winter landscape on the opposite wall)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Seven Days of Happy: Day 6

06:29 pm:
Long long ago I was a fool, a young fool who thought she was in love. My father got a job working in Germany, working on the Space Shuttle. My mother, and sister, and kid brother all went along to live there too, for a year! Now at the time I was already not living at home, but I could have lived in Europe for a year. Hindsight is 20/20...One of the many things that my parents bought for themselves, while vacationing in the Norselands, were some of the iconic Icelandic yarn knitted cardigan sweaters.

Last year my mother, in the midst of decluttering, offered to send one of the sweaters to me, much to my delight. Though it is probably the one for my dad, and hence a bit long in the body and arms for me, the extra length makes it the PERFECT thing for this turrible weather. It covers me from my lower back to all but the tips of my fingers in weightless warmth and timeless Scandinavian style. Hooray for wool!

all is calm, all is bright

I went out for one last walk tonight. Checked on the hens, who were burbling away in their cozy strawfilled nest. It never gets really dark in their house, as my across-alley neighbor has a Very Bright Light, and when the chicken house was built, someone, Sol I think, decided that a bitsy window of plexiglass was needed at the top of the south wall, like a chicken clerestory. So the hens are alright... Then I took her own darling Akita self out for one last walk. There is an amazingly beautiful quality to the snowy light. Here in the city the streetlights make it almost as bright as day, with the reflective quality of the whited ground.
I remember when I lived in the backwoods, that the light on the snow meant that the pathways were visible, even if the only light was starlight, because the pathways were far more white than the under the trees. (interesting how the beautiful and vivid imagery is what stays with me, the patterns of color and light and dark, and the kindness of strangers, from that difficult winter)
The air tonight was quiet and still, and the snowfall had stopped. We walked down the middles of the streets, on the packed snowtracks of todays occasional cars. Again I am reminded of how much open space we really have even here, though it is obscured most of the time by the automotive tyranny that usually commandeers it. But the nightwalk was invigorating rather than sleep inducing. As much as I dislike having my toes and fingers prickly from the cold, and as much as I wish for a cozy fireplace in my drafty house, there is something about winter cold that enlivens me, in the same way that summertime heat is completely enervating. I actually found myself jogging a half block, which so excited the dog that she tried to take off gallivanting across the snowy, still iced-over lawns...

Monday, December 22, 2008

Seven Days of Happy: Day 5

The snow does not stop. It slows down, then starts up again. I needed to go out today to pick up the prescription that I couldn't get last week due to busdriver asshatitude... The roundtrip which usually takes about an hour took over four, among other things there was a Trimet bus stuck the built-up snow on the corner of Lombard and Interstate. But that is not the happy... the happy is that there are truly dedicated workers who came to work at the free clinic today, so folks like me could get their meds.
the frozepins in my backyard...

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Seven Days of Happy: Day 4

My home is cute, my home is good, and I've a pantry full of food... (channeling my inner doggerel-girl, and doing my best to delay the inevitable evening "walk the dog in the ice and snow")

you better believe that I am happy and thankful for Acorn Cottage. The winter of '84 I lived for two icy months on the street is Boston, sleeping in the back of a step van and scrambling for work. Washing up at the Y. Eventually got my injured then-boyfriend to his parents house and escaped... the things that don't kill us, forge us into a stronger shape...

I am also happy today for all my beloved friends and family, and all their happy birthday wishes for me. Fifty-four years and still having fun!

too freakin' cute

Looky here, if there had been better weather, you could be eating one of these lemon poppyseed lovelies...
acorn cakelets
(or maybe more than one, the cakelets are JustTheRightSize™, literally just two bites.) And true to the Nordicware reputation, they came out looking wonderful and didn't stick to the pan. Normally I'm not a great fan of nonstick, but for pictorial baking it has a definite use. I didn't use their recipe, but my "new" standard cake recipe, found on twelve22 several years ago. My former standard was a four egg pound cake, which is a bit large for anything but potlucks and parties; this new recipe is a one egg cake, can also be adapted to many flavors, and just fills a 6" cake pan, or one set of acorn cakelets. Very handy and very tasty! I'll mix up a bit of lemon glaze and call it good.

what a day

Woke up to 20F, somewhere between 7 to 8 inches of snow, topped with at least a half inch of ice. The dog, who usually delights in a snowy day, was rather flummoxed by the way all of her legs kept sliding in different directions, then crashing through the ice. My yaktrax worked quite well, 'specially since the snow under the ice is quite fluffy, though I did have moments of feeling like I was part of the Fellowship of the Ring, climbing through a snowy pass (the book not the movie).
The hens are refusing to come out of their wee henhouse, once I managed to get their door busted loose of the ice which kept it from opening. Even corn wouldn't tempt them, so I tossed some food into them, and went inside to cogitiate on how to get them some water. Decided to put a hook into the plywood roof sheathing inside the henhouse, to hang a waterer. Easier said than done. My chickenhouse is small, about 2 x 3 ft, the whole back opens up for cleaning, but it isn't designed to have a human inside it, plus two hens. Bent backwards, with a hammer, a nail, and a big cup hook, after shoving the dirty straw out of the way. HennyPenny tried to eat my earrings, and I manged to shoo her out of the way, pound a nail into the roof while upside down, then pull the nail out and screw the cuphook into the henhouse ceiling. Used the clawhammer to break the ice on the waterer I'd put in their yard the hour before, hung it in their house, and went back into Acorn Cottage to look for the bottle of Arnica and shake the straw out of my wooly hat.
I'm going to go bake me some cakelets, gather my dinner cooking ingredients, and make some hummus in case the neighbors come by... then sit and sew
I'm giving myself an extravagent birthday present, turning the heat up to 65 for the whole day

Saturday, December 20, 2008

I am home, safe and sound. We've got power. The snow is pretty, but relentless.
I intend to stay home tomorrow. The weather forecast is for the yuck - snow rain and freezing rain. I'm suggesting that no teaparty travel is probably a good idea. Stay home, stay safe, stay warm... (if for some reason you find yourself here at Acorn Cottage, I will feed you hot drinks and cake, and soup)
I'm going to dig out my camping stove and my box of candles, just in case... Other than that, I'll be cleaning up the homeplace, and doing some baking, and getting caught up on the sewing commissions...
Decided that I needed a few more supplies to cook myself something nice in the way of a birthday dinner tomorrow. Walked over to New Seasons, which was crazy-busy, and ran into my neighbors K & M who offered me a ride home after shopping, which I accepted with alacrity. Dinner tomorrow will be roasted chicken legs with sage and bacon, kind of a riff on Icelandic Chicken but without the piecrust, some saffron rice, and steamed broccoli.

Friday, December 19, 2008

just dont!

Wierd. I was simmering some bone broth* in the crockpot , preparing to make soup, and added some pearl barley to the pot. Astonishing me, the pot of broth volcanoed up in an explosion of hot foam, covering the countertop and dripping into the partially opened drawers below. I never had this happen in all my soup cooking days, and it was truly a mess to clean up. Explainations anyone?
Note to self: do NOT read Susan Coopers The Dark Is Rising as your bedtime book. No matter that you have read it many times, and the book ends well...the content is not conducive to peaceful fallingasleep, 'specially when the outdoor lighting sends odd moving shadows across the bedroom ceiling

*save meat bones in freezer until you have a potfull, simmer till all the flavor is in the broth, strain, use as soupstock...

Seven Days of Happy : Day 1

Because who doesn't like to hear about happy things?

The rules:
1. Post about something that made you happy today even if it's just a small thing.
2. Do this every day for a week without fail.

Today my friend Rois told me she finished my present. She posted pictures of it on her Facebook page, and then told me to go and look. It is a little winter cottage paper sculpture.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Holiday sale

Our artisan sale is happening this weekend on Friday and Saturday, here's hoping that the weather gods aren't too grumpy.There should be lots of fun gifty things in glass and fiber and such.My new calendar will be available, and we will be doing a prize raffle for a basket of assorted artisan-made delights...

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

I was naughty. A package arrived today from my sister and her family. I opened the box to discover a wrapped present. Lovely wrapping, with fancy blue ribbons and a wee pineapple pattypan as a decoration. When I picked up the present, I felt some unmistakeable lumpiness in the irregularly shaped bundle. Like a child squeezing presents, I knew this was....the acorn cakelet pan of fractal wonderment! My sister is sooo good... She is my inspiration in the art of paying attention, in noticing what makes dear folk happy (so as to do what is possible to increase their delight)

So, naughty girl that I am, I opened my present early. Because I intend to do some baking for the tea party on Sunday, and what would be more delightful than wee acorn cakelets...

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

My attitude about winter is a form of comparison, and since I believe that comparisons are odious, I'm working on letting go of my attitude...

I've been walking so much that my feet are tired. Getting around when the streets are icy is a challenge. I'm quite pleased with how well my Yaktrax grab the ground, they really are like tire chains for your feet.

Have the 2009 Alpha Sketch calendar almost finished; just needs to have the holes punched, hanging cord attached, and all packaged up. The project took more time than I realised, there is a lot of "handling" involved with the cutting, collating, hole punching and so on. I'm really happy with the new images, and am thinking about doing them up as block prints next year, I've been itching to do some printmaking.

I really do have clothing for the cold, as long as it is cold and dry. I'm warmer now that I figured out that my SCA clothing is a better adaptation for this cold snap. Mongol hat, oh yeah - Viking coat, oh yeah - and my woolen stockings are much better than the gorram cotton things I was wearing. I just may make some more stockings (woolen hose) after the rest of the projects are completed. Well fitting modern knee socks are damn near impossible to find, and I do have a good pattern for the ones I make from cloth. Hmmm... That would be the last wearable thing that I haven't already been making for myself...
It wouldn't be realistic for me to knit knee socks... to be comfortable they would need to be in a pretty thin yarn and knit at a pretty small gauge, which means a long time project for one pair of socks, but sewn socks take a very short time, since I don't need to weave the fabric
Made a chocolate cake with raspberry port glaze for potluck tonight. Unfortunately the glaze was a little overcooked as I got sidetracked and it turned into more like jam than glaze; must try again and make sure that doesn't happen (the flavor combination worked really well, but the texture did not...) Oh well

This Friday and Saturday, if the weather cooperates, please come and check out our It Is Not Too Late Sale... Sale is happening at the home of the lovely and talented Rafny, who also designed the sale flyer:

And... again if the weather allows...please do come over to Acorn Cottage on Sunday for a WinterSolstice/birthday CraftTeaParty. Noon to 5, I'll have teatime goodies and tea, of course, and maybe hot cider as well

Sunday, December 14, 2008

be prepared...

After my one student finished up, and headed back to Seattle with her husband (we checked the webcams for I-5, didn't; look too bad from the parts we could see) I decided that I needed to get out of the house, briefly. It is dark, and cold, and the wind is really Howling in the fir trees down the block. If I had an electricity-generating wind turbine on my roof, instead of the turbine attic ventilators, I'd be really delighted.
- - - ~:~ - - -
Gave the hens some warm water, and some "warm hen porridge" I concocted from leftover tofu and crackers. They looked at me like I was crackers, and went back into their cozy nest box. Well, I tried, I know they need water, but I can't force them. I'll try again tomorrow morning. Smokey loves this kind of weather, doesn't understand that I do not, at all. If I could work at home all winter, with enough housey-warmth that it wasn't onerous, and a full pantry, so all I had to do was look out the windows at the pretty white landscape whilst I was warm and dry and fed, indoors, well maybe I'd feel differently. I'm working on getting my life to that point, and a modicum of working at home is happening, like this weekend. Yay! ( to move forward on keeping the house warmer during the two or three months where that is an issue)
- - - ~:~ - - -
So I decided, that since this arctic cold is forecast to last a week or so, to get another quart of milk, and to see what there was at Goodwill. Getting dressed to go out was a production. longjohns - wool socks - rain boots - already wearing a wool jumper and longsleeve turtleneck - (since the combination of wool sweater and Goretex rainjacket was less than warm, I switched to plan B) - SCA wool coat - Irish mohair scarf - embroidered tourney blanket wrapped and pinned as a cape - then a silk kerchief and my AnTIrian Viking hat. I looked quite a sight, and had I fallen over, I might have bounced... walking was really dicey. The sidewalks were a mix of crunchy and icey, and the roads were just all ice. Tomorrow will be special. After I get tired of enameling tonight, I'm going to recut the two pairs (grey fleece, and teal velour, ah well, warmth before beauty) of ginormous longjohns that I found at the Goodwill to fit my much shorter legs.
- - - ~:~ - - -
Happy happy phonecall yesterday. We sorted out some of the details of the sewing for new sink trade. I need to do some more detailed sketches, and make a template of the actual faucet piping, (and I'm thinking that probably also the drain fitting as well). And in exchange I will be making an interesting woolen winter coat, lined and tailored in a historical but not Viking style. I love projects that are challenging but do-able. I will be on the lookout for black wool, dense but not too thick, once I have some idea of the style. And someday, eventually, Acorn Cottage will have a copper cloud sink (grin)

11:23 pm
: noisy night

The wind is HOWLING, not just high in the treetops, but round the corners of Acorn Cottage. I'm going off to gather the candle lanterns and matchboxes before bedtime, Just In Case.

cold and crunchy

Woke up to snow. Fortunately it was I... gave fresh unfrozen water to Hennypenny and Henrietta...froze my fingers taking her own darling Akita-self for a morning constitutional...turned on the kiln for today's class, and started breakfast cooking. Snow is pretty to look at, but I feel really sorry for all the busy artisans who are doing holiday marketplaces this weekend. (not to ignore all the myriads of homeless folks in this and all snowbound cities) The first year my friends and I attempted a holiday sale, back when I lived in Olympia, we had a blizzard instead of happy customers. Fortunately we also had a fireplace, and wood to burn...

In wintertime, especially, I wish that Acorn Cottage had a fireplace, or a teeny wood stove (like one of these lovely things maybe) Halibut Stove or this one Sardine Stove The charm alone would be delightful, not to mention the additional warmth! ...maybe, someday...

The snow is really coming down now, wind swirled and whiteblanketing all my unfinished yard tasks. Over all the leaves I hadn't yet raked from the side yard, over all the weedy bits I hadn't got to, and all the scrappy things in the backyard that were intended for fencing a new chicken yard. Now the focus is on inside workings, on thought and heart and hand together making ideas become real...
- - - - ~:~ - - - -
My neighbor Hans and his little son Alan are out walking in the snow. They stopped to make a tiny snowman from my sidewalk snow, and the dog went berserk when they came and put it atop the workbench legs on my front deck. I have funny creative neighbors (you know that I love this neighborhood) Why you may ask, do I have workbench legs on my deck? I took apart my old standing bench to use the bottom half as a base for a salad table, didn't happen this year, but wouldn't it be nifty to have salad greens growing just outside the front door next year...

Thursday, December 11, 2008

mostly, the good..

Lets see now... I am getting ready for the last workshop of the quarter Cloisonne Enameling all weekend. The weather is supposed to be unpleasant, so it will be a good time to turn up Mr Hot and bask in the glow of 1500 degree kilnwarmth. Soon I will mail out the commissioned pieces that are not 12th Night things. Acorn Cottage is sort of tidy, I suspect that will not be much improved till mid January
Last night was definitely good. My down-the-street neighbors (Carl and Mollie) had a soup and bread party, that was a get to know folks kind of thing. I've been impressed with what they have done with their yard (they are the folks who removed the front lawn and replaced it with veggie beds and a flower meadow. Mollie built a very short stone wall border around the edge this year, and I found out that she was the one who welded the large trellises that have baby rose vines growing up them on the side of their yard. Karla, who has the awesome garden yard on the corner, with the peace sign wreath over the door, also knows how to weld, she put together all the rebar sculptural fence around her yard, and she has a mig? welder...Mollie also spins yarn and showed us her current project; a gorgeous Navajo style rug she is weaving. I also met the folks who live on the other side of C & M's house. There are a number of folks I've seen there, it is a big house: I met the young couple with the 4 month old baby, and the teenage boy, and the red-haired mom who is also a textile artist. I swear, this neighborhood is just chock full of artistic and sustainable living folks. There was some talk about having some future parties with a kind of "stitch and bitch" crafty kind of aspect. I think that I will start inviting some my neighbors to my parties...

Monday, December 8, 2008

whoo hoo

This weekend, despite my grandiose plans for accomplishment, had many tiny bits of success instead...The oh so pretty sky on Saturday was a real high point, and glad I am that someone managed to catch a picture of it, I was standing at a transit transfer station, watching it turn all kins of colors over the Portland skyline, and wishing that I'd brought my camera with me.
Two of my Olympia friends came down to Portland today, and I had a very pleasant afternoon visiting with Maeve, who kindly brought down some of her wonderful homemade jams and cheeses for me to try. Mmmm. figgy jam and soft fresh cow cheese.

When Bill came by after picking his artwork up from a gallery show in Beaverton, he was able to repair my badly cracked eyeglass frames. I am truly grateful, they were hanging together with only a thread of metal, and the apparently oh-so-unfashionable style of eyeglass I prefer is not easily available, either on-line or in local optical shops. While I've a fair bit of experience soldering, Bill can do things easily that are difficult or impossible for me. 10.000 thank yous to Mr Dawson!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Thursday thoughts

Under the down puff I sleep warm, and Smokey has her own thick fur; this morning my house heat came on, by itself, for the first time this year (I keep it set at 55). One of those year-milestones... I think winter is here.
In the morning while dogwalking: with a sudden thud, a squirrel fell from the sky. Well from atop a large tree, directly in front of me and her own darling self. Not sure who was more startled. Happily, it scampered off and up the next tree before we had a squirrel squeaky toy incident.
The gods of small thrifting have been kind to me lately: A nice older Revereware saucepan to replace the one that died. I can tell it is older, as tis heavier and the handle is attached more solidly... A vintage clear glass Anchor Hocking covered refrigerator dish,perfect for storing leftovers, which I'd been wishing for something like... Then an 18" tall oak jewelry organiser with spaces for 60 pairs of earrings and six necklace pegs, all mounted on a "lazy susan" base. This will be perfect for display; I think the universe is telling me to make earrings to sell, since I certainly don't own sixty pairs of earrings!
Which reminds me... we will be having a holiday sale after all, the Many Hands of the Last Minute Show on Friday December 19th from 11 to 7, and Saturday December 20th from 10 to 4 at the home of the lovely Rafny. So there will be wonderful locally handmade artistic delights for whatever (seasonal holiday of choice) you celebrate.

And that Sunday will be a Solstice tea party here, so mark your calendars for a busy weekend
Sunday the 7th is "houseyversary-3", I've been living here at Acorn Cottage for three years now. The traditional gifts for a third anniversary are leather or crystal. Hmmm nothing really comes to mind immediately that I can look for as a housey-gift...