Tuesday, April 30, 2024

flea market

 We went out to our local flea market today and sold plants and some of Mark's 3D printed items.  Then I came home and made some French banana cake - and it turned out really good.

 French banana cake / bread with almonds

 3 overripe bananas, yellow with brown spots showing, but not mushy yet

---mash into bowl

1 tbsp vanilla

1 stick (1/2 cup) softened butter

1 cup white sugar

--blend into bananas in bowl

4 fresh eggs, room temperature, beaten

--blend into bowl contents

1 3/4 cup flour plus 1 tsp baking soda, plus (bit < 1 tsp) salt

1/4 cup sliced almonds and pieces

--combine with fork

oven 375, place in large ceramic dish, depth was about 1 to 1.5 inches in dish

baked for 45 minutes until knife came out clean and top was well browned


serve with fresh strawberries and more butter


continuing to work on languages, reviewing some possessive and tense terms in Welsh, continuing with a smidge of Italian and Turkish but a LOT of Romanian and Czech, bits of Ukrainian, German, the Hindi alphabet I started last week...  

 I felt like I was doing good to remember how Turkish worked at all, and that I was making stupid word-order mistakes with German because I don't use it often and it has been so long since I actively studied it I just sort of get by on the seat of my pants reading it without having to produce it very much.  

 I took the Welsh placement test on my phone and ended up in the end of the second section - when I've almost finished the course on the full profile.  But, it did identify several things that I don't have as good of a handle on, so that is good.

progress, not including phone app 

French : level 25      XP 49800
Welsh : level 24         XP 28316
Spanish : L 23          XP 24570
Japanese : L 19          XP 14335
Czech : L 19             XP 13581
Romanian : L 17         XP 11129
Portuguese : L 16      XP 9632
Italian : L 15             XP 7570
Greek : L 14             XP 6927
German : L 14          XP 6012
Finnish : L 13           XP 5515
Catalan : L 12         XP 3953
Swedish : L 11          XP 3689
Norwegian : L 11      XP 3097
Spanish (fr) : L 11     XP 3025
Hungarian : L 10     XP 2438
Ukrainian : L 10     XP 2278
Irish : L 9                 XP 2174
Turkish : L 9              XP 2044
Polish : L 9                 XP 1798
Chinese : L 8             XP 1446
Russian : L 7              XP 1023
Dutch : L 7                 XP 998
Hindi : L 7                  XP 887
Zulu : L 7                     XP 789
Guarani (es) : L 6         XP 611
Haitian Creole : L 6      XP 535

Thursday, April 25, 2024



'sushi rice' actually brown rice with rice vinegar, sugar, salt and white sesame seed, nori seaweed sheet, wasabi, soy sauce, red curry paste and real mayonnaise


opened up an old set of gouache paint today, it had started to separate in the tubes, but tried to see what I could do with it with no plan

Blue Valley

Meet me in the meadow
under the shadows
of these trees and mountains
where it is hard to tell the difference
between flowing rivers and bending grass
when the light has begun to cascade
in rays as it does, spectacularly surreal
through the openings in the clouds
and the rest of the world is still drowsy
in fact
I'm already there
I think I always have been
It was one of those mornings - when you know the week is going to take off from you soon, but perhaps today the slope will still not be so steep... but it's only a maybe, so you're holding your breath, unsure what you want to do, unsure how you feel about it, caught between the present and the future and shadowed over by anxiety of the past, all wrapped up into a nice little yarny snarly ball that doesn't even have a reason to be upset, and you're not, really.. just a little tired and unsure if you can start anything... because you always want to start eighteen dozen things, and you always haven't finished twenty dozen things, but *sigh*... it's just like that

So you put some rice on the stove,  and wait.
You do the dishes, and the laundry,   and wait
You do language lessons,  and wait
And because you're not good at watching it - you turn the rice off, to steam
You open up one page of your sketchbook, sit down and let it take you somewhere
but then, you blink, and again, you're waiting
You make the rice into sushi rice and eat it,   and wait
then you look at the clock, and like the rabbit, 
put on your cloak and run for the door
hoping to get the errand done
and then you are home again, and exhale
and wait

And it's all good, really
You make the coffee, and wait
And it's all good, really
at the moment
(you're just so used to knocking on wood)

Languages : Japanese, Czech - threw a French high grammar monkey wrench in at one point just to jag the brain, and it was fine, then did the rest of the unit of Dutch I had done part of once.

Wednesday, April 24, 2024

napzone and no green tea for you


our elderly tortoiseshell, Minion, on the roof of the house this morning

Mark's coleus plants he has been growing from seed

Woken up very early this morning by a confused dog, that I let outside, but then couldn't sleep again.  I finished the 19th level on Czech on DuoLingo this morning - and then slingshotted myself through the first unit of Hindi, as well.  I should be smelling my brain smoking.  Maybe that only happens for me with Spanish?  Finished the ottoman slipcover I was working on, and have it in place.  Laundry.  We went to a plant sale and I put my plants out in my raised beds for better or worse - tomatoes, cucumbers...  There is a morning glory coming up from seeds I put out months ago.  Harvested kale, and put it in the freezer.  Made cashew butter fudge with Mark.  Then crashed for a nap but was woken up by the same dog, again.  On to making dinner a little later.

Oh, and I have begun to not tolerate green tea, which is strange, but the last two times I've drank even one cup, I've thrown it back up.  Maybe it is the brand - something from a set of different flavored teas and not my usual brand I used to drink?  I don't know.. should record it down because that was not fun.  I was doing Japanese yesterday and using the word ocha over and over... and I had been sneezing lately so I was worried about getting a cold.  So, after a few cups of coffee this morning I waited a bit and made myself a nice cup of green tea - not overly brewed etc..  Drank it.  Did some more language lessons.. and was so specifically nauseous I could not get up out of my chair without bringing it back up :(  Remembered only then, that I had done the same thing a few months ago and felt it was a 'one-off' at the time... Felt fine after that though, and even ate and drank other things with no problem the rest of the day.

Tuesday, April 23, 2024

catch up

I'm tired, there has been one long week of working mostly every day between last post and this, and more... it will be good when the paycheck comes but it was exhausting while it was happening.  Everything is expensive, and Mark is worried that by the end of the year we'll be short again because I've had to get both vehicles serviced (one is in now, the other one will go in after the first is fixed) I've been trying to get more of a focus on everyday expenses, because groceries and gas just keep going up..   Last year we got cornered into a very bad vehicle repair from another mechanic than the one we usually use - and that set us up badly with the increasing fuel and grocery bills.  **still thinking on all of that**  But I've done some things in the past few weeks, some might call it just edging myself along.


Bread (the same kind, that Mark and Esme like to eat) was 1.79 in 2021, now it is 3.19 Gasoline has followed the similar trend.  Everything else has gone up proportionately.

Drawing : did a lot of drawing here and there - with some new pens and pencils, and to try to draw a plant sale we went to, and a thing that happened on a postal route.

the plant sale, my daughter on the right, my mother-in law in the black pants
this was at a farm not far from ours

the White squirrel situation - something that happened on one my postal routes I covered - a white squirrel was sitting in the road and there was a cat stalking it - I could not get my phone to cooperate to take a picture, and the squirrel saw the cat and my oncoming traffic and took off up a tree

I found some Zebra gel pens (which I've had a pack of before, they come in interesting colors) and also Zensations (also from Zebra) mechanical colored pencils - I picked up a couple of each to try them out.  Below, is another page drawn with the same tools

I used to cover all of my sketchbook pages in drawing montages like this...

Baking : baked madeleines with the lemon zest in them, and that was very good.  Made an egg-heavy crepe like thing today as well with four eggs, half as much flour and a bit more lemon zest in it, and it was good, as well.  Made a 'leftovers' soup with fresh carrot and split peas, beans and rice hotdish, chicken boullion, green onions and peppers -it looked like refried beans when it was finished, but it tasted wonderful, and I served it with some noodles and a tortilla.


lemon madeleines

1/2 cup butter (1 stick) softened to nearly melting

beat with 3 eggs, vanilla and 1/2 cup sugar, 3 tbsp brown sugar - 3 minutes 

add some lemon zest and a small amount (less than 1 tsp) of lemon juice

1 cup flour, 2 tsp baking powder, salt, beat to combine

less than 1 tablespoon of batter in madeleine shells brushed with butter

375 degrees, 10-12 minutes, do not flip

(I made a cream cheese version two weeks ago, too - and it was very good - 1/4 container cream cheese, and I think it took a little milk and extra flour to make it right)


crepe like thing

4 eggs, 1/2 cup sugar, some vanilla, 1/4 stick (1/8 cup? melted butter, cooled before adding), lemon zest and small amount of lemon juice  beat by hand in bowl

add 1/2 cup flour, 1 tsp baking powder, some salt, stir up well, should be gloopy but stick to the fork - get a measuring cup for pouring it into the pancake pan

fry on hot buttered pan, flip once

leftover soup

about 1/2 cup of bean, rice and green-chile hotdish ( I make this sometimes for myself and have some leftover usually)

1 large carrot, peeled and chopped

1 handful of green split peas, washed

1/2 bouillon cube 

1 handful of old fashioned oats

1 handful of green onions

a few jalapeno peppers (from last summer's harvest) (made it quite spicy)

black pepper, olive oil, salt and celery seed

water (of course)

bring to boil, then simmer for about 40-45 minutes stirring as needed

you can use an immersion blender and blend it up if you like

I've crocheted several new bags for the eventual art shop - and am working on a topper rug thing for a footstool I have that never seems to get rid of the cat hair on it - so I wanted something washable. It's the same technique I've used to make the machine-washable bathroom and kitchen rugs that we are getting so much use out of - except this will fit over the square lid of the footstool like a hat.

Esme has had a few 4H wildlife meetings, and I'm reading 'Lessons in Chemistry' by Bonnie Garmus that I got at the library sale while I wait for her to get done with those.

Working on a multitude of different languages when I have the time and energy to do so.  Did a lot of Czech today, caught up with some Portuguese, Greek, Japanese, German and Romanian in the past few weeks.  I don't usually do German on DL because I took it in school, but I watched a show in German, and on DL I still get the order of the verb wrong, especially.  The show is  'Mindblow' which is about sort-of time travel and alternate timelines - hope I can find the second episode when it airs.  


Language update : 

French -       L 25 XP 49620     19620 XP beyond Level 25
Welsh -         L 24 XP 28243     +1757 XP to next level
Spanish -      L 23 XP 24570     +1430 XP to next level
Japanese -     L 19 XP 14317     +683 XP to next level
Czech -          L 18 XP 13083     +417 XP to next level
Romanian -     L 17 XP 10969     +1031 XP to next level
Portuguese -  L 16 XP 9632         +868 XP to next level
Italian -          L 15 XP 7544         +1456 XP to next level
Greek -          L 14 XP 6927         +573 XP to next level
German -      L 13 XP 5956         +44 XP to next level
Finnish -      L 13 XP 5515         +485 XP to next level
Catalan (es) -  L 12 XP 3923     +977 XP to next level
Swedish -      L 11 XP 3689         +211 XP to next level
Norwegian -  L 11 XP 3082         +818 XP to next level
Spanish (fr) -  L 11 XP 3025         +875 XP to next level
Hungarian -  L 10 XP 2438         +562 XP to next level
Ukrainian -  L 9 XP 2228         +22 XP to next level
Irish -          L 9 XP 2174         +76 XP to next level
Turkish -      L 9 XP 2020         +230 XP to next level
Polish -        L 9 XP 1793         +457 XP to next level
Chinese -     L 8 XP 1426         +224 XP to next level
Russian -      L 7 XP 1023         +102 XP to next level
Zulu -          L 7 XP 759             +366 XP to next level
Guarani (es) -  L 6 XP 611         +139 XP to next level
Dutch -          L 6 XP 540         +210 XP to next level

(es) learning from Espanol
(fr) learning from French

our cat Lyffan, a Manx cat, sleeping on my bed

she couldn't be happier

Tuesday, April 09, 2024

Some more Crochet



Mark and I have been re-watching a tv series at night, and I've been using up some more stash yarn.  I made the green bag first, and have been using it as a purse.  The original reason to make it differently than my other net bag pattern was that it was more closed, and could keep rain off a library book.  I really like the way the stripes turned out on it, and the handles.

 I started making two other things out of the dark green yarn, but there wasn't enough to do much with - so I made a pair of slippers out of it instead.  I ran out of yarn just as I finished the second one -  and then ran an edge of gold yarn around it to make it a bit more even looking.


And the dogs had told me something about needing even more floor rugs - since we keep having to boot them off the one by the stove when we cook.  I'm not really sure where another rug could fit - but I used up a bit more stash yarn to make a really nice striped pattern.  I still have to tie up all the yarn bits on it.

North American Solar Eclipse 2024 April 7th



The shadows through the trees on my postal route (above)

The artwork I made the night before (below) in my sketchbook

Wednesday, April 03, 2024

poems for the first week of April




Someday we will walk together

along this path in wonder

at the same leaves on the ground

that small oak

which neither of us trod upon

instead allowing it to put down roots

for years, there in the soil

it has now grown tall

and we can sit in the shade of it

well before we thought was possible

rest our heads against the bark

and say how lovely is the day?


 my little cat, Minion


Little black cat

with the one orange paw

curled tightly in a ball

on top of a shirt in the laundry basket

that I wore yesterday

discarded there on my way in from outside

no longer with the warmth

but perhaps still the smell of me

this is one reason she has chosen it

She tries to ride the bow of my hip

at night, while I sleep

but my ship it rocks too much

while I am dreaming

turning over and over and over

she tries to cling with claws

then we disagree

and the tossing turns to Neptune

she has to admit -it makes her a bit seasick

so the laundry basket, it is




And the other day - when I was feeling a bit up and down over social anxiety.. It's a strange feature of that - that I will reach out to someone and it will be very good - or I will attempt a hard task or lesson on something and it will also be very good - but then the next moment I often feel even more anxiety that has to calm down, like a fire that has burned too hot and now everything is boiling to the top of the pan. So, I've learned that feature and now work to dig myself out of those feelings as soon as I recognize them. I congratulated myself, that night, which is a necessary part of reflecting on it all, for how many times I pick myself back up, ten times in an hour it feels like sometimes, no really, it was good, you are doing well, just get out of this feeling, it's an emotion, and one we have to keep working on...

and this flowed out:


When I fall down unseen,
within these hallways, inside my head
I get back up, ten times in an hour
over and over, or perhaps just one
handspring that was barely noticed
but each time I work my way up
and ask which way the wind blows
that makes me feel so light
such glass in my bones
but at least glass has weight to it
this is more like volcanic ash
reduced to ghosts and fragile shells
from fires too hot to handle
ready to blow away unless I capture it
in my palms and carry it to a safe place
so gently, where it may perhaps
against all reason - become rock again
I must take them, these fires, in small pinpoints
where they rush through the surface
needing to take a few moments to cool down
so that is what I am doing
when I am inspecting the ground like this
with my fingertips, furiously sketching, seeking
looking for a place cool enough to take grip again
and hoist myself up

Monday, April 01, 2024

Out into the Mathematical


Out into the Mathematical - the tesselations, the colors how they change, lines of geometry crisscrossing the scene, I cannot describe to you what I find so thrilling in the 'mathematical' ways of the plants and trees - it is something I have no actual equation for, only that I know it when I see it, and some little part of me that cannot do the calculations rejoices all the same in seeing it played out before me by Nature

  The Snowball bush, and the trees, this morning - although the color behind the trees was much more of a purplish-blue that the camera cannot capture.  We've had that with the morning glories before, too - it just doesn't capture the same color as I see with my eyes.


Our little tortoiseshell cat, Minion, drinking from the water trough

and some post-it note sketches of our goat sleeping by her hay bowl, using pens that were easily to hand


Languages : starting with Romanian (oh wow, there are words I had forgotten and it feels almost new to wrap my mouth around 'oraș' and 'ţânţar'...and yet, I'm better at it than I should be, so some part of my brain remembers I had studied it a few years ago.   Will head over and do the French and either Spanish or Catalan after a little bit.  Was proud that when I did the Romanian test on my phone profile on DuoLingo I was popped up to nearly the end of the first section to start in .. and I am at the middle of the second section in the main profile on the computer.  I made a mistake in order that probably set me back a little - but that was a good score!

At the Limit of Reflection - acrylic painting

Convolvulus : Morning Glories - sketch