Saturday, August 12, 2017


 Every morning I go out to feed Smudge (the black cat, who stays outside). He is always eager and sometimes comes a foot or so into the house, though he knows he isn't allowed to stay. Then I take his food and water out and he u-turns and goes right for it, and Muffball follows me out onto the porch. Sometimes there is a very brief acknowledgement of the other's existence, then Muffball sniffs around the porch and patio before being persuaded to return to being an inside cat.
 I am finally cutting up this old t-shirt for rug yarn, but it was hard. Those are Daniel and Peter with me in the picture, and it was one of my better Father's Day presents if I do say so.
 More yarn came in the mail for me, from Knit Picks. I wanted yarn for a few specific projects and ended up with enough that the shipping was free. Sometimes it works that way.
While casting on a new project, I took stock of this hibernating Rosalind sweater. That bit on the needles that was 2" is now more than 9", half as big as it needs to be (the right front, similar to the left front on the right). It was hibernating for at least 3 years. I don't know why I do that. But I keep swearing I will change.
It was cool today, so I went to Salmon Creek park to pick blackberries. I met a couple walking their dog on the way in. "You're optimistic, that's a pretty big bucket," the guy said. "Well, I won't know what the picking's like until I get there," I said. This is 5 quarts (in a 2 gallon bucket) and represents a little over an hour of picking.
 I've been busy keeping the dehydrator filled with plums and plum leather.
 This is the original reason for my yarn order: Quarta is a huge fan of Hamilton and I heard about the Hamilknit Hat on the Knitmore Girls podcast - because yes! I now have an iphone and have figured out how to listen to podcasts, and it's cool! She picked out Honey for the lettering and stars and Hawk for the background, in KnitPicks Gloss. Casting on with a crocheted provisional cast on, and joining "being careful not to twist" for knitting in the round was the work of one evening. It always looks so awkward, and I used two size ones because I hadn't yet bought my 16" size twos.
 Yesterday I knit the inner band, which is in the negative color configuration to the rest of the hat, and I used a chart with more than just "Hamilton" four times, but with Angelica, Eliza, and Peggy Work! Which apparently increases the coolness factor, if you are a 15-year-old Hamilton fan.
With 1 quart of the blackberries, and some pears, nectarines and plums I made this pie for tomorrow. Next week I will concentrate on making preserves from the plums and maybe more blackberries.

Last night we watched Into the Storm, the excellent 2009 biopic of Churchill during WW2. A month or two ago we watched the related picture, the Gathering Storm. They have completely different casts but are both well worth looking up if you have Amazon Prime. I particularly enjoyed Brendan Gleeson's portrayal of Churchill in Into the Storm, and its suitably heroic portrayal of Britain during the War. It was just right.

I am going to watch something and knit. I will probably not cast on something new, but the temptation is almost always there.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Chasing Summer

Summer tends to run away from us. There have been several instances of family movie night: this was Nine Lives. Muffball was disdainful of any screen portrayals of cats that were not her.
Youngest child Quarta is now Fifteen. I Am Thai is a great restaurant, whether your occasion is "early birthday" or "I don't want to cook tonight."
 This series of photos was the result of my instructions: "look happy and dignified."

 Gooey Chocolate Caramel cake, with Heath Bars and Cool Whip.
 The county fair, as it looked when I dropped off the Farmer's Wife Quilt two days before opening. I have always said I don't want to go on any ride that is delivered by a truck.
 I discovered by chance, while looking through quilt books, that Tertia was awarded the Elder Wand for good conduct at school back in June. This seems like a dangerous precedent, but so far no Death Eaters have dogged our steps, and she is the first Hufflepuff, to my knowledge, to gain this distinction.
 We have had some record-breaking temperatures this summer, and last week we enjoyed this idyllic afternoon at the Washougal River with some friends who own property there.

 The dog, Argos, was the sweetest ever, playing the fetch game with Tertia, dropping and rolling the toy to her over and over, and pointing at it if she was slow to pick it up.
 The Farmer's Wife Quilt won a red ribbon, which seems to be the best I can get out of the quilt cabal at the fair, and is in a place of prominence. To its right is a 50-state star quilt made by a lady who was in my informal beginner's quilt class more than 10 years ago. It was so nice to bump into her again and see her still going strong!
Plum season is in full swing, after a slow start because of the cold winter and spring. I can always pull up my plum recipes by the tag "plums." I'm not picking quite as diligently because the tree is so much taller now. There are a lot of bugs around too. But we have one dehydrator load almost finished and enough to start another, and even though we have some still in the freezer from 2 years ago, I should get busy and make pflaumenmus and plum jam and freeze a few bags at least. I don't think I'm up for picking hundreds of pounds to donate to the food bank but if anyone wants to come, they are welcome to pick for themselves.
This is what plums look like when they are dropped in boiling water for a few seconds, then drained. The skins slip off easily, leaving what I used to tell the boys were "elephant eyeballs." They never believed me! But then you can puree the plums after the seeds are removed and use the puree for plum leather in the dehydrator. It has been a long time since I did this, witness the fact that the girls were ignorant of the "elephant eyeballs" thing. So we'll see whether the plum leather is worth it.

This has been kind of an extended Randomday, trying to catch up with neglected blogging. I'll have more, including knitting, next time, but it's already a fairly picture-heavy post.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Randomday - Playing Catch-up

Yikes, that was a long blog hiatus. Summer is hot, life is busy, the blog goes begging. Sorry about that.

 I did not document the 4th of July here... but it was good.

 I finished a few knitting projects... this T-yarn rug for Charissa's wedding on size 15 needles...
 ... and these Stashbuster Spirals socks for a Christmas gift on size 0 needles.
This is one of the three new pairs of socks I have cast on, but the only one I've photographed so far. And I have placed an order for more yarn with KnitPicks. I should really do a stash report, but that would require me to do math. And I have plans to cast on a bunch of things besides socks. Most recently I have decided to try the Hamilknit hat for Quarta.
Here is the (about) 70-year-old Hydrangea bush in our front yard. Did you know you can root new Hydrangeas from cuttings in water?
This is how you do it. It doesn't always work, but if you keep a green leafy stem in water for long enough, it often sends out roots. And then you can plant it in a pot, and then you can set the pot in the ground over the winter, and then you can plant the whole plant the next spring. We now have a yearling start that's in its own place, and a potted cutting that is doing well (pictured above before I potted it), and a new cutting that is just starting to grow roots.
This photo was taken a month ago... the yearling plant has two blooms now. They are pink because there probably needs to be more acidic material added to the soil. But I am proud of being able to grow these. Our landscaping, along with everything else in our house, is aging and some of it is at a stage where it needs to be replaced. Maybe this little plant will be around for another 50+ years!

It is bizarre that it is August already. I need to get started with all the back-to-school shopping, and paperwork for Tertia, and doctor's appointments that have been put off.

I will call a halt to Randomday for today and determine to pick up the blogging of the incredible fleeting summer soon.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The Three Quarter Bag

This is what I finished a few weeks ago, right before Mom Chapman went into the hospital. It is a kit called the Three Quarter Bag, by Susan Terpin for Connecting Threads. It's in the Whirlwind Romance collection, and I think has been waiting for me to stitch it up for about 6 years. I checked the Connecting Threads site and they no longer seem to offer it, either in kit or pattern form. I'm pretty pleased with how it came out, although the fusible fleece, heavyweight stabilizer and medium weight craft interfacing were additional things I had to buy before attempting the kit. The heavyweight stabilizer didn't stay fused very well when I was doing the fiddly bits with the bottom and lining of the bag, but I glued it with some spray-on adhesive and it seemed to work well enough. I blunted a needle and my walking foot came apart at one point, but I was able to replace the needle and put the walking foot back together.

 It also features a zipper, and I hadn't done a zipper in about a decade, so it was time. I really like this fabric collection; so much so that I bought the gray/yellow colorway fat quarter set, and some yardage, in the hopes of making a quilt someday. It's a little matchy-matchy for the way I've been quilting lately, but I could make a quick quilt, there's a thought!
 The trim is pretty. It may be my new knitting bag.
While I was conquering my avoidance of zippers, I made a zippered pouch and a zippered pyramid bag. Neither one took more than an hour or so. I still want to make a box-shaped pouch as well, in leftover coordinating fabric.

If I were still tracking UFO's (I never really started it for either 2016 or 2017) I could count this as one. When I hunt up my project notebook from under one of the piles in my sewing area, I'll be sure to note that the Three Quarter bag is now finished! I like it a lot, actually. I have another two bags in my long-term UFO list, and one that I really need to just cut and sew. Like this bag, it is a larger project that involves some advanced sewing skills and a lot of stiff interfacings and hardware that quilters don't normally use. But this project was a confidence builder, and I just need to get up the gumption to do it. Then I can tick off another UFO.

By the way, my mother-in-law was over here tonight for dinner, with Steve's sister who flew in from Phoenix, and she just bought a new motorized scooter for getting around at her retirement home. Combined with her new medication, it seems like a good solution to get her mobility back. I look forward to seeing her zip around on it! In the meantime, school is out for both girls now; Tertia's last day was today, and Quarta's was last Tuesday. The weather has finally improved and has been downright pleasant the last few days. I keep chucking snails that I find on my potted plants into the street for the crows, and I am enjoying my flowers in my hanging basket.

 I can't decide whether I like the magenta or the purple petunias best, so every few days I turn the basket around to get a change of pace. Variety is great!

Saturday, June 17, 2017


 It has been a wet week, no, year, here. And cold. We refuse to put the heat back on because, dang it, it's June... but I've regretted it every time I did not put a wool sweater on first thing in the morning. The good news: in the combat against the moss on the front porch, I have achieved a certain measure of success. Bleach water, plus scraping with the ice scraper, plus a whole lot of elbow grease did the trick. I felt a little sorry for the ant that ventured out during the process, so I commemorated it with a poem:

Six-legged creature stumbles across post-apocolyptic concrete -
Bleach-sprayed shreds of moss, dust, sand and bits of polymer scrub-brush litter the worn step.
Then comes the broom.

The rain started up again and I'm still waiting to finish the back porch. Quarta finished school this week and has been cleaning house for me. She seems to be channeling all the energy she was using on academics and she wants to clean and organize things. I'm not complaining. She has dusted the garage roof with de-mossing powder, thoroughly cleaned her room, the kitchen counters, and the family room, and scrubbed all the spidery stuff off of the sliding door and cleaned those windows. She will work for chocolate bars and videos.
 Snails love this weather. That's one way up on the garage wall, looking a bit lost.
 Most stick to the lower growing vegetation. I don't kill snails, but if I can find a large leaf to squish a slug under, I have started to be able to do that, with much shuddering. Still, if I unknowingly touch a slug, there will be squealing.
Tertia went to a birthday party for a friend in her class. At Chuck E. Cheese's. It has been a long time since I accompanied kids there. It's one of many situations that I could describe as "introvert hell." But Tertia and her buddy had a grand time.

 I have been slowly working through my fabric stash and cutting for my latest quilt project. The diamond-in-square blocks are multiplying. My design wall isn't big enough for my vision.
Daisies were blooming the last time Steve and I took a walk around the elementary school.

The shootings in Northern Virginia really shook me up Wednesday. It feels odd to hear local friends shrug it off, as if it's too far away to affect them. But I lived there for more than three years. It feels like one of my hometowns. I keep asking myself, with all the escalating divisiveness of politics and particularly the media coverage of it, if the whole world has suddenly gone crazy. I mean, I never liked Trump, but after seeing him beheaded in effigy in the name of comedy, and now members of his party targeted for assassination, I find myself much more sympathetic to him... so congratulations, Kathy Griffin and Bill Maher, you've won me back to supporting the Republicans automatically and hitting the mute button on left-leaning anything. I wonder if it's even possible for a couple to get married anymore, if they are from different political backgrounds.  Steve and I are both the products of such a mixed marriage. It brings a certain balance and richness to family life, or it used to. But I can't see how it could work now. Peggy Noonan's column is really great. People should read it and take it to heart.

Thursday morning began on a much funnier note. This is the dream I had right before waking up: Steve pointed out a man to me: he looked exactly like Steve Carell the actor, only his name was Willy Wonka. In the same deadly-serious voice the real-life Steve had used to inform me about the congressional shootings the day before, the dream Steve told me, "That man is Ivanka Trump's ex-husband." There was a beat as my subconscious treated me to the punchline. I woke up, shouting "Ivanka Wonka!" Oh my goodness. I wonder if my subconscious could write more material like this, and I could sell it.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Randomday, Playing Catch-Up

It's silly, the things that keep you from blogging. Most recently it was trying to figure out how to access my icloud from my laptop, so I could use photos from my phone. Then earlier this week it was worrying about Grandma in the hospital. (She is home and comfortable again now). Going backward, we have had a number of momentous family events in the past 3 or 4 weeks: both Tertia and Quarta became communicant members of our church, there were appointments and social events and concerts and plays and sleepovers, and of course, Steve and I flew out to Virginia to see Daniel graduate from his Capital Fellows program and sightsee a bit as well. Basically, every time I was at home and physically able to get on my computer, I tended to be too tired to want to blog. So think of this as a kind of photo-dump without much more narration, to catch you up with our hectic lives.
Tertia got the biggest laugh of the evening in her walk-on in "Check Please."

 Sightseeing in Annapolis, at the Naval Academy and the Maryland capitol.
 It's impressive to see a painting that has been in the same place for centuries.

An impressive group of young people. We heard great things about Daniel.
 Daniel's host family, also old friends from our days at McLean. David played organ at our wedding, and I sang in the choir with Lena. There were lots of these, not coincidences, but maybe God's calling cards, that convinced us this was the perfect program for Daniel.
They have this re-enactment of a colonial farm in McLean, complete with turkeys to eat the tobacco worms.
Monday we took a day-trip to Monticello. Daniel ran into a friend from college in line to buy tickets. Yet another fascinating not-coincidence. I love the architecture of Monticello, and the fact that Jefferson taught himself. And I try to take pictures of all the flowers that grow as weeds in our yard, but are featured prominently at this grand home! Here, foxgloves.
 Rose campion.
More likely to be California poppies in our yard.
 It was right after graduation at UVA, just like it had been at the Naval Academy.
Tuesday before our flight home Steve and I took in the Postal museum and the Renwick Gallery, neither of which we had seen before. I decided to take pictures of the fiber arts exhibits at the Renwick. This one shows creative use of those old doilies and potholders some of us have by the bagful.
 Steve loved this quilt-map of Washington D.C. The red spots are properties that have been foreclosed.
 This is a quilt portraying a time-lapse photo of the night sky. It's political significance is that it's the night sky above the American Embassy in Saigon, January 31, 1968. I guess if it's to count as art it has to have political significance? None of my quilts would count as art by this definition.
 I would not have thought to make a quilt out of celluloid film strips, sewn together with polyamide thread.
 I think a glass spinning wheel would be terribly impractical if you tend to drop bobbins when you change them, like I do. But it is a functional spinning wheel.
 Detail of a much larger landscape quilt with lots of fabric painting, applique and threadwork.
 All of this at the Renwick, just up the street from Blair House,
 the OEOB,
 and the White House.
And back home, a photo of the newest communicant members.