Thursday, June 09, 2022

June bits

 

 

I haven't  updated in a while, just trying to get from point A to point B.  And now look, it's June.  I've been working in the post office for two and a half years, and Esme is a teenager, growing up and studying Forestry, Wildlife and next year, she wants to learn Construction techniques in high school.  High school!  Mark and her built a wall in the house yesterday, and are working on more things for our chicken yard.  We raised nearly twenty more birds this year, for egg production down the road.

I have taken to learning my languages 'en force' - Welsh and French are at the higher levels, and I have been grinding my brain against Spanish for the sake that Esme will learn that in high school, but not for a year or more.  Spanish is seriously hard for me.  Consider this, I've picked up Romanian, Czech, Portuguese  and Turkish on Duolingo at twice the rate or more of the Spanish I'm grinding my head on.  They all seem to 'slide in beside' the French, but Spanish is 'on the other side of my brain' only translating through the French like some sort of bad prism.  That is how it feels.  I know most people think Spanish is the easiest, but for me, it has never been.  Italian is a 'out there' goal, but it is also in the category of Spanish.  I've done a little more German (my high school language, but I'm not fond of it like the French cognates, my grandmother spoke some French so that is wired into me), and Norwegian Bokmal and Swedish, and stabbed at Japanese a few more times.  Do I have goals as a polyglot?  I don't know - but my brain is happy learning languages, except the Spanish.  It is learning that, though, I'm picking up meaning in songs and movies in Spanish that I did not before, so it is there.

I planted more in the garden for food this year, greens, potatoes, some tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers and peppers.  It is going to have a terrible drought next week- temperatures over a hundred.. I hope the garden survives.  

I am doing a little more weaving, and always something is on the knitting needles, whether it is a washcloth or a scarf or blanket thing, there is something. 



 

weaving on a frame, another upholstery type fabric, although it might be a library bag or new purse.  I am just following 'the next word' mathematically in the colors and going half-random when I get a few minutes.  The one bad thing it is on my painting easel, so I am not really painting when I am weaving.

 

 

Some of my recent 'throw it on the canvas' paintings - The Bird in the Lemon Tree, above, 16x20 and 'The Etruscan Lion' 24x36, both acrylic.  I was happy to have the lion accepted into the Artist Showcase at the W.G.Rhea Library in April.  It did not sell, but at least people got to see him.  I think he is so happy and bright.  The bird painting is 'when I really should be completing something else' (The Eu Siempre Separe) painting that is also 36x24.. but I was happy with the way the colors came together, if not for the actual subject.  



 


 

Hosta plants starting to bloom - I like to capture the botanical structures of things, I find that as interesting (more so sometimes) than the bloom.  I love to watch things unfold.


 

black hollyhocks in the garden 

still quite proud of these, too - because they were so hard to get started and now come up as perennials every year


 

I'm working at cooking to fit the special needs of my Ehlers-Danlos-Syndrome (collagen disorder), anti-inflammatory, higher proteins, lysines.  This meal was one of the first times I've cooked eggplant properly.  However, usually I just take everything out of our garden, eggs from our chickens, grains and spices from my cupboard and make what my nose leads me to, and it is usually just right.


 

Our Charlotte, on the road to the mailbox


 

'Between the Past and the Future we Remember Numerous Stars' - this was the very last of my blue ink from the pack of pens I bought what.. eight years ago now?  This is the 'listening' style - where I draw lines across the paper in pencil or sometimes (like below) in the actual pen, and then slowly fill it in from one side of the paper to the other with the figures and symbols I see - telling a story and receiving some sort of philosophical message.


 

I still have my artwork up at the DayLight gallery, in Camden, TN on the city square.  And some of it has sold there.  I received some beautiful messages from people about what the art has meant to them and why it spoke to them.  I just got a new pack of pens in the mail and did this drawing above 'Come Sing the Universal Song With Me' last night.


 

Before the short haircut this summer.  These two are my loves and so sweet, listening to them do construction work together and even though she may look like me you can hear how alike they are!


 

me as a mailman, for when I'm ninety and all broken-down and can't believe I actually did this once.  Delivering the mail, whether on walking route or driving rural route is hard on the body - long hours, sunburn, hydration issues, lifting stuff sometimes we shouldn't etc.. but we get the mail out there and get it done and go home.  I do appreciate not having to work until 10 pm and be back at 6 the next morning, then work till 3 and be back at 2 till 10 the next day and back over again.  That was what the Lowe's store did to me and it was seriously harder to keep shoveling my schedule the other direction than it is to just have a hard day's work and crash when I get home knowing if I'm on the next day, it will be at the same time as the day before.


 

I am so proud of her, she is becoming her own person and trying to go after goals even after all of this pandemic.  She does say that she feels a lot of her generation has been 'robbed' of their goals and their opportunities the past few years, and that she is not sure if the social opportunities of her generation will ever straighten out after they have been quarantined, separated and put online and told to keep away from each other for years.  She says nobody her age really has friends anymore, in real life, that is...   Next week, though, she goes to a University campus for a Forestry college course 'camp-away' and we are excitedly getting her ready for that adventure.  I hope she has a great time there and comes back with good memories.  I did similar things with FFA and Academic Decathlon when I was her age, and they are still very good memories mostly, and a lot of 'stretch' for my social skills and worldview at the time.

Wednesday, March 02, 2022

Saying goodbye to Nova








 

She was twelve or thirteen years old, a good big sweet Bluetick coonhound, stubborn, too.  A good mama, and a good companion to Esme as well through most of her life.  You can see above the day they first met.. Esme wasn't very big at all.  She passed of natural causes, on the first really warm day of Spring, 78 degrees.. curled up in leaves after a long hard cold winter.  Five years ago we were afraid we would lose her, when a neighbor ran her over with their car, breaking a leg, damaging one of her eyes and making her lose so much blood.  But, she pulled through.  

These past few winters I had tried to feed her up whenever she would get thin - that seemed to go in cycles, she'd be good and then she'd have a few bad weeks.  She just wasn't digesting her food as well anymore because she was old - but putting some milk or gravy on it helped a lot and she even came to expect that before bed at night.  This morning Mark said she went out with all the rest in the morning.  I went to town for a bit.. and while we were beginning to make supper her daughter Sweetie made a motion to Mark when he went out in the yard that something was wrong - and he found her.  Esme was sad and didn't want to believe it.  

She was the mother of Sweetie, Daphne, Spud and Minerva.. grandmother of Lucy and Freckles.  Mark says she had sort of been a mother to Melody, the blind goat, as well - and that she also knows something is wrong today.  Both of the little Manx kittens, Loki and Lyffan went to see her when we found her.. and Minion cat came and got in my lap at my computer desk after we came back in from outside.  

Sunday, February 13, 2022

more lentil soup and a digging fork

 


I look very tired - well, I have been lately.  But I power through it, usually.
Mark found this in the garage and I want to try it in the garden.  I was really glad we had one and he knew where it was!  I had half a memory that we had one - somewhere - when I read a blog about using one this week.

Made another lentil soup today based on what a Hungarian friend sent me for a recipe.  She linked to this recipe : "Hungarian Lentil Soup - Lencse Leves"
 
I had some fresh carrots to use, and frozen bok choy stems instead of celery - so I made a version like that.  I also added a few pieces of bacon from the fridge.  It was really good served alongside another experimental flatbread with five-spice seasoning and himalayan pink sea salt in it.  


I need to go through my seeds - I always feel a mixture of excitement and pre-disappointment with those.  But I'm starting to learn better ways to grow in our soil that produces results without constant vigilance... needed that years ago and didn't get it, so I would work really hard for a while, and then give up at a certain point and hope I had 'gotten enough return'.

I am also taking another go at Spanish, because our daughter will be offered that at high school next year.  Our daughter is going to high school - time really flies!  I've never done very well with Spanish - although I study Welsh, French, Japanese and now Romanian and Swedish without half the 'pound my head with a hammer' that I've had these last three days with Spanish.  Again.  Which is why I didn't learn it well the last time I tried, or the time before that.  I'm not saying anything bad about the language, just that I know there is some sort of brain-obstacle there that is hard for me specifically to overcome.  However, this time around, I'm coming at it through the dual channels of Romanian and French - which together seem to be doing more for me than before.

Friday, February 11, 2022

cooking lentils

 

Trick to lentils is to wash and drain them first which removes a lot of extra skins and such, then add to at least four times the amount of water, bring to a boil, add salt and spices and a bouillon cube if you want to. Lentils are like potatoes in that they like salt and it makes a huge difference.
 
Simmer with a lid tilted until the water is mostly absorbed, add cabbage, onions, carrots and red pepper if you wish. It may take up to forty minutes on low heat to really cook them soft - even though the bag will tell you 15-20 minutes. If your carrots are fresh and not canned that extra time will soften them as well. If you want to run it all through a blender and make it true soup it's good.
 
Point : Rice has a 1 : 2 ratio with water.  Lentils have a 1 : 4 ratio (some say 3)
 
  
rule of 1 : 4 - one cup lentils to 4 cups water

 
 
wash it like rice, rinse several times
no need to soak though



 If you are adding other vegetables, add a bit more water so it all has a good chance to merge flavors.  And don't forget the salt and/or bouillon cube, it really makes a difference.  I didn't have beef bouillon so I used salt and a little butter, pepper, celery salt and then added frozen cabbage, fresh chopped carrot and a few strips of red pepper.


Thursday, February 10, 2022

baked apple (or pear)

 

 

 

simplest thing ever

pan is about 5x7 or so

slice up one apple or pear, not too thick

cut up a tablespoon or two of butter into small bits and place it on top 

sprinkle brown sugar in between all the slices on top

sprinkle a handful of quick oats over the top

sprinkle cinnamon on top

place foil loosely on top

bake at 350 degrees for a little over an hour

 


I like knowing what ingredients are in things

it's cheaper often to cook from the ingredients instead of buy a brand thing

I eat what I cook

I love when I can 'freehand' something and not need a recipe, means I can 'whip it out' at any time I have the ingredients and not have to go track anything down.


Also,

I eat what I cook

or the dogs help


'Morning Company'
sketchbook


Tuesday, February 08, 2022

swath of bits

 

simplicity cotton yarn in a 2 x 2 basketweave (almost) with garter stitch edging


our chickens eggs on the cloth I knit - like scrambled eggs


radishes and weeds



reworking my pseudocode pattern to make myself a new pair of gloves
this needs 6 needles to finish each glove

it starts 18-18-27 on three needles
reduces to 33 inches (over 5 rows) after the 1x1 rib cuff
then continues up to the base of the thumb
pull off 5 stitches from one needle and 5 from another where they cross 
pull these stitches off onto two extra needles
cast on 8 extra stitches on the end of the working needle
join thumb as separate piece
place stitches evenly on two needles
work until long enough, then reduce and bind off with kitchener when it is 3/3 on the two working needles
join new yarn to entire hand piece, picking up stitches at base of thumb
should have 33-36 stitches (34 on these)
knit around - up to base of index finger
repeat the same type of thing across from index to pinky finger working one finger at a time - remove 5, 5, 4 and 3 stitches at a time to make each finger and add stitches in between the fingers to make enough to go all the way around 

repeat opposite to make glove for opposite hand

 


tried this recipe today:

Crude dumplings and vegetables in sauce

bulgur wheat and a small handful of green split peas <-- put through grinder until makes flour about 1/2 cup, add salt, tiny bit of baking powder, olive oil, water and a small handful of regular white flour to make a dough like yesterday's flatbread - except grainier...

let rest for 10 minutes, roll flat on board with a glass jar side

Then I looked at what kind of dough it had made and realized it was not going to cook well the way the flatbread did, it needed a steaming effect.  Since I already had something in the oven I decided to make a sauce on the stovetop this time and let it steam in the sauce.   Maybe try a 'steamed tortilla' of it another day.

break flattened dough into pieces

boil about a 1/2 of water, soy sauce, brown sugar, oil and five spice powder

place the dumpling bits in the sauce mixture and cook on medium-high adding some more water if it gets dry, add vegetables and serve with a cooked egg on the side

 

 

We also baked cookies today - been working up to it for a few days.  White chocolate chip cookies from the recipe on the bag.






Monday, February 07, 2022

flatbread

 How to make a flatbread

all you need is:

flour

oil

salt

water


1/4 cup flour in a bowl, make an indentation in middle

place in a small amount of salt, enough to cover the middle of your palm

place in olive oil, perhaps a tablespoon or less, poured onto flour


take a fork and mix it all together until it forms consistent small balls of dough with just stirring with the fork

Add a tiny bit of water on top

Form together into a dough, add a bit more flour and/or water alternatively until the dough forms a proper ball that can be stretched and pressed back together without being sticky or too dry.  Knead just a little bit by folding over and over.

Place dough ball back in bowl and place a cloth or paper towel on it.

Let rest for 5 to 10 minutes

 (if you want to make curried meat or vegetable mixture this is the time to do that, place it on the plate and then immediately continue to fry the bread to go with it)

Take dough ball out and roll flat on a lightly floured surface

Heat griddle or skillet with a small amount of butter or oil

when hot, put flatbread into skillet and fry on medium-high heat pressing down with a spatula and flipping so it does not burn.  I have this technique where I pick the skillet up to keep it hot but not too hot and then place it back down and press and pick it back up.  The flatbread will start to smell like toasted flour tortilla and turn lighter white with small dark spots.

serve with nut butter, jelly or with curried meat and/or vegetable mixture



Curried vegetable mixture:

cut small root vegetables like radishes or onion, pre-cooked leftover potato or other root vegetable or use canned carrots or beans (anything you like)

include some greens (radish tops, kale, turnip greens, mustard, collards or bok choy tops)  and/or green onions

heat a small amount of water to boiling and place in a curry cube 

add a few drops of olive oil or sesame oil and some soy sauce

when curry cube has dissolved, add root vegetables and/or canned vegetables

coat in sauce and cook until vegetables are softened

add greens and stir thoroughly until heated through

if sauce is still too thin, add a small amount of dehydrated potato flake

place very hot mixture onto a plate and fry bread, or wrap in premade pita or tortilla

Thursday, February 03, 2022

Friday, January 28, 2022

sketchbook - postal route humor



So Cold!
 
Now don't take either of these as complaining - but I've been told I should try to express some of these things in sketches so that they are relatable for others


  

Turn Right!  Turn Left!  Oops, Arms fell off!


I've been training on a new postal route :) which I'm happy for, because I've been wanting to get more training and be able to get extra hours running more routes.

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

bits

 

The last few years have been hard, even harder than the decade before.  The store I worked at started cutting and pressuring staff to 'perform' a full year before the pandemic hit.  And not just 'perform' - but compete, scoundrel and get higher sales every week consistently or face consequences (anyone who knows math knows that doesn't work - you can only rise so much for so long until the whole thing collapses.. yes?)  I don't know if it was related to what was coming down the pipeline, or not - everyone is still processing what has happened with Covid and when things really started and where it was seen etc....  And my dad was dying at the time - right when work was being it's very most inflexible.  And a major infection hit my teeth and I had an EDS flare.  It was a triple whammy.

I found out more about EDS - ehler danlos syndrome, and have still been trying, three years later, to manage it so it doesn't manage me sort of thing.  With  watching inflammation and eating the right things (and avoiding some other foods) and trying not to overdo it when things are not out of place or grinding - I've managed to avoid things like my knee that swelled so large in June of 2019 that it barely fit into my jeans.  That was the beginning of the flare, with my teeth infecting in August, and my resignation to the store coming in September because I had to take care of myself, my family, and my father died in October.  Covid came to our area in early 2020.. it was a ball of yarn and thorns.

So after I resigned from the store, (13 of us resigned or were fired, actually, to scatter to the winds), I tried to start my own business remodeling bathrooms.  I had to hire out the heaviest work to local contractors, and did the product location, delivery and smaller work myself.  Less than six months later, in the middle of a job, the Covid crisis began.  My contractor became scared to come work at my client's house.  He was so afraid - he and his family got the flu and then he thought they would get worse coming out in public and communications began to break down.  I was trying to do the work alone - pulling twelve hour days sometimes, and the contractor decided I wasn't doing it 'well enough'.. as well.  He made excuses and stopped coming to work at all.  I joined the post office because I could see by then - February, 2020, that things were not going to get any better trying to run my own business.

There is a 'ladder' of hierarchy and seniority you have to climb at the post office, and I've been trying.  I'm still 'part time'.. and some people work part time for years and years before they get a chance at anything more.  But if you quit before that point - you have to climb it all again.  With the pandemic, increasing prices and car repairs (we maintain our own vehicles, fun!) things have just gotten harder and harder.

I often feel like the picture above, juggling Mark's illness, raising a teenager, working as a mom... and just trying to take care of myself as well because otherwise I'll end up having another flare and then where will we be?  

 Going to go talk to my postmaster today about a different route I have been invited to.  I don't know if it will be better, but if I don't try to get something different and maybe better it will never happen.  This other route is closer to home and will give me more experience - different is scary, but you can't stay stuck in a rut and hope to be pulled out.  Especially in this economy right now.  

They say 'everyone is hiring' ... oh, right.  Everyone is hiring for minimum wage or very specialized experience (nurse, CDL, CEO) - there isn't a lot of in between.  And think about this - 20 dollars an hour and 8 to 16 hours a week is still more takehome money than 8 dollars and hour and 20 hours a week.  Everything I see in the market seems to be either 'low pay / part time' and give us all your time (don't work elsewhere) which still doesn't pay the bills or the location is somewhere I cannot commute to every day and still take care of my family and sleep and renting an apartment there costs as much as our mortgage here.  This economy is just insane.  Living in a rural area has that disadvantage, too - but there are many reasons we live out here and if you run the numbers it is actually much cheaper than living in the city - not to mention we've been here for so many years moving is no small task at all.

Little sketches in my sketchbook, to break up the tedium.


 radish rabbits



" Daddy has the propane heater on" - our animals enjoying the propane heat in Mark's room that keeps him warm enough in this extra cold winter.