Monday, February 22, 2021

Monday miscellany - 345 days

in which our plucky heroine wonders where the deep end is, and if one can tell if one has gone off it...

in some ways this last week has been a real struggle, and I've not wanted to blog, or write, or anything. But, there was an assortment of small progresses made in various aspects of life
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Yesterday, cooked what is argueably the best lamb stew I've ever made... Extra mushrooms, because earlier this past week I needed to cook up the pound of mushrooms that there just wasn't room for in the coolers when we lost power.... so the stew started with a good sized dollop, (about a cupful) of well-cooked mushroom/garlic/onions (Sauteed in butter and seasoned with herbs, spices, and sherry) then added a pound of the good stew lamb pieces from Su-Dan Farms, and more chopped onion, carrot, and celery, and some broth from the freezer. And about midafternoon I added in a handful of pearl barley. That was yesterday's supper, and there was enough left for another two meals. So nom and warming...
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Not only was it a lot of fun to participate in the Virtual 48 hr An Tir Backlog Scribal Challenge Contest earlier this month, but it was also a chance to learn some new skills and data about scribal arts. Then this weekend I re-learned how to create a Google Slides presentation, so that I could share what I learned with our local scribal group.  Google Slides is a good and fairly intuitive program, and I was able to put together a 26 slide set of images. Now I want to refurbish the only other slide presentation I created, on the history of enameling, so that I can do more to share what I know in these still difficult times
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Last weekend the power went out in the ice storm. It was not great, because the house gets really cold (no furnace without power to run the blowers, no insulation in the walls, no ready cooking appliances and the temperature outside was in the high 20's) It gets dark early here, because of how far north we are, and the first night I relied on my candle lanterns, but didn't want to leave them burning through the night. The second night, I remembered that I have solar camping lanterns! Doh!! ... my Luci Lanterns, after being shut in the closet for the last two years, lit right up when inflated and clicked on. An email will be written to Mpowered, letting them know how impressed I am with their lights. (Also I think that a checklist of emergency actions for cold, or hot, or fireseason weather would be good)
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After the power came back, friends and I were chatting about what went well, what went okay, and what Needed Improvement. Using snow and ice to keep food cold went well. Light in darkness went better when I remembered my lanterns. The two things that were most in need of improvement were that my lower legs and feet got cold and stayed cold, and that getting the bed warm enough to sleep was a challenge; the cloth bags of rice that get heated in the microwave are useless without electricity. Piling all the various wool blankets atop the bed was insulative, but felt rather like being squashed (am not a fan of the "weighted blanket" that is so very trendy).

Wanda and I were chatting about ways to keep warm during the power outage, and the topic of metal hot water bottles came up, which led me down an interesting rabbit hole...
Other friends suggested using Nalgene bottles, which seal superbly and can handle boiling water, though the idea of a large metal hot water bottle is also appealing. As far as the feet and legs go, my thought is some tallish multi-layered insulated slipper boots for indoors...
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missed the live presentation last week, but here is the YouTube video:
and here is the knitting pattern!
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~ 100 day creativity challenge - day 89 ~
Our plucky heroine was cold, and so I put my handknit cowl on my head, like a hat, sort of folded over with the lower edge forming the "brim". It looks rather fetching... (or maybe isolation has just gone on so long that I have gone over the edge)
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February SMART goals (x=extra)
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 original SCA scroll
pruned persimmon
yard waste bin
2 -saved my food using snow
some of the branches
3 -buttonholes on partlet
all the branches
4 - - -
5 -- -
6 x x -
7 x x x
8 x x x
9 x x x
10 x x x
11 x x x
12 x x x
13 x x x
14 x x x
15 x x x

today's gratitude - I have the best neighbors ever! On Sunday morning, while I was up early, sitting in my bathrobe and watching a lecture videocast from Finland on Iron Age and Viking Age textiles, I noticed that my neighbor was in the front yard cutting up the fallen branches from the ice storm. By the time the class was over, my entire yard had been cleared, including the large massive branch that had been still attached to the tree. (The branches were probably 20 ft long and about 5 inches at least in diameter!)

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

snow saga - 340 days

in which our plucky heroine stands corrected...

I was partially wrong in my previous post. There are controls to adjust the focus and other granular aspects on the camera of my new phone, though they are deeply hidden under several layers. Being able to adjust the phone camera back to "macro" is a Lot Less Annoying!
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we had what can only be described as "snow drizzle": tiny flakes but relentless and fairly constant all day Friday. Periodic wind gusts would blow swirls off the rooftop into the yard, like smoke but cold. The forecast is an astonishing 6 to 10 inches by Sunday, and an inch or two of ice! We will have to find out what occurs... on Saturday midday we had a bit over 5 inches of snow, mostly of an odd granular texture, and no real ice here on the bluff (I read that elsewhere in the city and outside that the ice has been fierce, one of my friends may have lost her house, from breaking trees).

I spoke too soon when writing that on Saturday... Sunday night the ice storm that had caused havoc everywhere arrived here, and coated everything with around ¾" of solid ice. The power went out a little after 10PM. No heat, no stove, no internet (except on cell phone, which has limited power because no recharge. I attached my wee lil flashlight to the lanyard formerly used for my transit pass back in Earth That Was, Hung it from the bedpost, and went to bed under some extra blankets, since the temperature was about 28F outside and without heat, the indoor temp was falling as well.

this is why we cannot have nice electricity

Monday morning my first task was to transfer all the perishable foods from the fridge into coolers and pack the interior of the coolers with ice and snow from outdoors. I do have a land line telephone, so can make local phone calls and recieve, but not make long distance ones... AND I still keep a corded wall phone so that when the power goes out, the phone still works, which cordless ones do not.

the tree in the front yard lost two major branches...

Yaktrax are excellent. Rather like tire chains for pedestrian humans, they are pull on rubber grids that go over your footwear, and the grids are encased in steel spirals, that really improve traction on ice and snow. I bundled self up and periodically went outside to do small amounts of shoveling and sweeping, with the intent of both gradually making a path to the sidewalk, and of getting in at least some movement. Simply sitting still is a lot colder than moving around to "get the blood warmed up".
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~ 100 day creativity challenge - day 88 ~
I started knitting a new cardigan, using some of the black vintage skeins of yarn the aunties gave me. Held double, the knitting is will be very cozy, and at a large gauge, it will knit up quickly... I have already finished both sleeves and am working on the lower body currently.
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beauty in the time of isolation - day 340:
SO MANY LAYERS!!

what I wore yesterday, when there was no electricity
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February SMART goals (x=extra)
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 original SCA scroll
pruned persimmon
yard waste bin
2 -saved my food
some of the branches
3 -buttonholes on partlet
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4 - - -
5 -- -
6 x x -
7 x x x
8 x x x
9 x x x
10 x x x
11 x x x
12 x x x
13 x x x
14 x x x
15 x x x

today's gratitude - good night vision! I know not everyone has this, and that my eyes can still manage to adapt to low light makes me happy. During the two nights without power, I traded keeping the house a modicum warmer for opening some of the curtains which allowed the reflected moonlight from the snow to make it somewhat less stygian inside, enough so that I could navigate the interior by a combination of memory and sight.

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

not selfies nor scenery - 334 days

in which our plucky heroine has a wishful Wednesday...

It is so easy to get adapted to something useful , and only notice when it is suddenly missing. My former phone eventually proved to be a handy camera as well, readily replacing the digital camera I toted around for years. Former Phone wasn't anything fancy, but the camera program it had readily took macro photos of whatever caught my eye, and given my great preoccupation with tiny worlds, this was a good thing. Apparently the ability to select where the camera lens is focused is not universal.

The camera on the new phone is sadly and unexpectedly limited, with a "fixed focus" it is literally a point and shoot, it cannot do close ups at all, cannot focus at all on things closer than 10cm. (which is about half of the things I take photographs of) I thought perhaps I was missing something in how I was using it, until I looked online... apparently "most people" just do selfies and scenery... This blogger resorted to using a magnifying glass held in front of the lens as a workaround

While I am very grateful for the gift of a new phone that actually functions as a phone, and that has a battery with capacity greater than about fifteen minutes without resorting to a battery pack, I will definitely know to ask next time about the camera function as well. In the meantime, I'll be dusting off my pocket digital camera... I hope I can still find the sort of digital storage cards that are small enough in capacity (I need megabytes, not gigabytes) to work with an older camera.
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The weather report says that snow is coming! Possibly for more than one day. Gathering my candlelanterns, matches, and extra wool blankets. Adding extra bubblepack to my windows. (in case of power outages) Thanks to almost a year of pandemic, my emergency food shelf continues to be well stocked, and I have that much more experience using stored food and replenishing it as needed/possible
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beauty in the time of isolation - day 334:

mossworld inside drainage grate
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This last weekend was all about the scribal shenanigans. "48 hr An Tir scribal backlog challenge contest" had 40 people from up and down the west coast of the continent participating. I so enjoy the camaraderie, as well as the chance to do more research. I always learn things, and working on original art is a form of meditation for me, it allows my mind to rest peacefully in making decisions about images and colors and patterns, and is absorbing enough that my worries and distress fade from internal view. This being my fourth original scroll, I shall have to move to the "advanced" category in the future. I am pleased with what I managed to create, even though it took me a whole extra day to finish; I can see aspects that I have improved upon since the previous challenge six months ago. Photos coming next week after the anonymised entries have been seen, judged, and commented on...
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Since I love knitting, and also love medieval book arts, this event next week Thursday should be very interesting: Rare Stitches: Knitting Inspired by Illuminated Manuscripts hosted at McGill Library
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Placed my first order this week from WAWAK, an assortment of thread, and a small red zipper so I can begin working on the kuspuk for Kestrel. It will be fun to see how close I can make it to the one worn in the "Molly of Denali" PBS Kids cartoons.
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Last week the weather was nice enough that being outside was pleasant, and I managed to do some pruning of the parking strip persimmon tree, which requires yearly maintenance to keep it from growing straight up with fruit out of reach. I've started keeping pruning notes on various yard trees so I don't have to look online each year for instructions. Persimmons and figs need particular methods, and plums shouldn't be pruned in winter.
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Last week I ordered a soft and cuddly stuffed toy puppy for Mom. Looked and looked to find one that resembled our old dog Muttley, who Mom was very fond of. Supposedly Amazon delivered it today, but I've not heard anything yet from the other coast... maybe tomorrow?

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February SMART goals (x=extra)
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 original SCA scroll
pruned persimmon
yard waste bin
2 ---
3 -- -
4 - - -
5 -- -
6 x x -
7 x x x
8 x x x
9 x x x
10 x x x
11 x x x
12 x x x
13 x x x
14 x x x
15 x x x

today's gratitude - I know how to cook, and have useful supplies in case of inclement weather. or in case of pandemic. The celery in my produce order today was massive. I am thinking that some cream of celery soup, using dried milk and dehydrated seasonings will be good. I plan on pickling half of it, and putting the rest through the dehydrator. Never done that before, but apparently celery only needs a 1 minute blanching and then good to go... I put water in the ice cube trays earlier today with this in mind.

Monday, February 1, 2021

Monday miscellany

in which our plucky heroine continues to struggle...

Today it was a challenge just to get up and get moving, but I managed to.

Made a to-do list, did basic chores like laundry and dishes, input the rest of the phone numbers into the new phone (finally), and recalculated the sleeve increases on my new cardigan, so that once I get back to the knitting of it, there is a plan.

Set up my journal for February, which consists of drawing out a calendar page and a habit tracker page like I do every month. I track my weight, and my blood sugar, the former to gradually shift it to a healthier place, and the latter to keep it in a healthy place. Doing this over the course of the last year or two has taught me a bit about which of my actions have which results, and some small habitual changes have become my current norm. My current challenge is to cement "no late night eating", which I noticed last month having an effect on my metrics, and (on the advice of dear M) to add in a few minutes of mindful meditation and five minutes of writing to the morning routine. Kaizen change and much curiosity to observe what that will do. "Proficere lente sed proficere"
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~ 100 day creativity challenge - day 87~
finally came up with a motif that I like for the cuffs, it makes a good transition between the black cuff and the chocolate brown of the cardigan, and I have plenty of time to consider how I want to elaborate the neckline motifs.... finding a balance between what I like how it looks and what makes me crazy to try and knit is always the difficulty... two colors per row is my preference...
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beauty in the time of isolation - day 325:
somehow I never had heard this song or seen this book before... but it touched my heart today.
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Stayed up way too late last night looking up "activities for dementia" and "activities for bedridden seniors". My mom has been home for four days now. Won't/can't get out of bed, or sit up in bed. She is bored and unhappy, and unable to do the things that in former times caught her interest, like reading, or artwork, or writing. Of course, she hasn't been doing any of those things for a number of years/months now. It is agonising for me to be able to do nothing to ameliorate her situation. So far all I have thought of is to get her a stuffed toy dog, because it would be a tactile pleasure, and because she said for years she wanted a dog.. maybe I can find one that looks like the dog they used to have... My other idea is to find out if there is a way to attach  a tablet holder to the hospital bed, so we can do a zoom call and not have Dad sit there and have to hold the gizmo, Apparently there isn't an actual bedside table in the apartment? perhaps there isn't room??
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today's gratitude - I was able to order organic blood oranges from Imperfect, and they were the excellent really dark red kind. A batch of marmalade is in the works. And after that, the apples from Gersvinda via mutual aid will be turned into applesauce. This week, despite despair, will also see a bit of faith in the future, for what is preserving if not the action of belief.