Category Archives: Home & Garden

Off to the ballet?

Not heading out to the the ballet (who is?), this little arts-enthusiast is off to Connecticut.

I can tell I underpriced her because I’m having trouble letting her go. She’s one of my favorites.

A big gardening day here today. I was supposed to help a friend with her foundation beds earlier, but neither vehicle will start.

Note to self: once charged, be sure to drive each vehicle once a week!

Walking over at the school the other day, two things made me pause. The first was ANOTHER dead bird.

The other was the height of a tree, which I sourced, fund-raised to purchase, and planted back in the day. It was four feet high back then. If you squint you can see the dead robin on the sidewalk where the path turns.

It’s too close to the building. A newbie mistake. Still, it’s lovely.

I thought it was a Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick, but now I’m not sure.

Pandemic Diary

Day 63 or 64 or whatever. Another collage and its companion. If the one above had a title, it might be, “the horror of graphs.”

This one might be called, “the desolation of streets.”

Waiting for Instacart in a comfy collapsible soccer/mom chair in the garage because — wait for it — it’s a little too hot in the sun.

Yesterday I planted amaranth and basil seeds in a little tray delivered by Home Depot. This morning I dropped sunflower seeds right into the ground near the foundation out front. I am edging and weeding and transplanting in a daily rhythm that feels effortless somehow, and satisfying. Not much else feels that way lately.

We are planning to have a circular patio with an 18′ diameter installed, as well as a 26′ path of stepping stones from the garage.

Needless to say, the contractor who repeatedly asked, of the circle’s dimension, “18 by what?” did not get the job.

Here’s a heads up to all those folks who think a mask detracts from their appearance or their liberties: Galvin-Instacart-delivery-man, with his shaved head, tight T-shirt, and yes, mask, was about as good looking as they come!

Just as I’m starting to get a routine, I’m also starting to get sick of the routine. I unload in the garage, wearing gloves and mask. Pantry items get parked and stay untouched for four days or longer. (You’ll also note the mail piles, representing a four day rotation).

I save all plastic bags, but they also go into a rotation such that none will be touched before a week or so has gone by.

Inside, I plop goods into a hot water and bleach solution and rinse in hot water. I used to do this in the garage. It is much easier at the sink.

Finn waits out these proceedings in his crate.

It’s all a little perfunctory at this point and honestly, grocery shopping is one of the lower risk outings one can make. Nevertheless, I’ll keep going this way for a while.

I’m happy to report that my brother finished his ten ER shifts at Stonybrook, Long Island and is heading back to LA tomorrow. We will all feel even more relief at about ten days out, symptom-free.

Meanwhile, younger EMT-certified son is considering throwing himself into the fray and I actually support the idea.

I’m not a terribly good follower these days. News takes up most of my media bandwidth. The fact that the magenta robe was an exercise in extreme frustration made me wonder about how I set priorities. Never mind why.

It’s time to piece the back for the sixth of six panels for C’s quilt and do a little research on the best way to assemble the panels. They will all have been hand quilted at that point.

And, it’s also time to pick up manuscript after a short hiatus. Lots of writing happening here these days, just not that. The author-consultant who was supposed to start reading in mid-April has been delayed until beginning of June. I have the last fifth of the book to edit before then.

June is around the corner. Can you believe it?

Quarantine dress code

Just so you know, I wear shoes until around four and then I switch to slippers. Because, structure?

On dog walks, of course, I wouldn’t dream of wearing my black velvet loafers. I wear sneakers. On days like today they get wet in pretty short order, but I still prefer them to my clunky waterproof ankle boots.

I get dressed upon waking. That’s a routine I’ve had for years, in part because I bathe in the afternoon and not first thing like most people. It seems more important than ever to stick to that. Sometimes, I take my bra off after dinner. With some satisfaction, I’ll fling it over my head in the direction of the staircase. That’s a tiny departure from routine.

Finn, in his own manner of sticking to routines, ate through the pocket of K’s good Gortex rain jacket two days ago — prompted only by the residual smell of treats. Damn! Do you know how expensive Gortex is? The only jacket I’ve had made of the stuff used to belong to one of the boys. K ordered a replacement, the SAME DAY, which in case you don’t know, is a big departure for him. No shopping around. Quarantine cutting through the usual structures about spending on self? Maybe. At some point in this mask making process, I’ve decided, I’ll ask for donations. If for nothing else, to cover the cost of thread, which as my fellow stitchers know, is not cheap! Also, depending on my stamina, I may ask people to sponsor masks for nursing homes to the tune of $13 a pop. Five residents in a Newton nursing home died this week at a place that’s been asking for masks.

I may make EIGHT today and still have time for afternoon edits. Starting Netflix series “The Stranger” for entertainment — pretty good, so far. Thankfully K is not like me. I cannot write with background talking or music playing, but he can. Ours is an open floor plan.

DAY 28 of containment. Full moon last night.

Tick tock, calendar

Hello! In the thirties here, but at least the sun’s out today.

K spilled coffee at his work station this morning. A near disaster. I slid a stool next to the table for the cup going forward.

I might quilt this little piece into oblivion were it not for the fact that the backing cloth is an old, ornery, tough pillow case. Ugh! Just a little more stitching, then.

Went to phone calendar to see when Easter was, because, well, you know, and found flights to Florence and Rome. DELETE Found Airbnb reservations in Quebec City. DELETE.

Now? It’s Zoom appointments. Yesterday, with our finance guy. TONIGHT, with both boys. Feels necessary. Also? A little bit of a challenge. Because we span three times zones, I’ll have to be coherent at 10 pm.

Yard waste pick up starts next week. I can’t wait! I’ve filled almost all of our barrels, even with some composting in place.

What are you looking forward to?

Pantry salad

Pantry Salad — serves 6

3 T sesame seeds

One chopped spring onion (or 2 scallions)

1/2 c pine nuts

1/4 c chopped parsley

Can of cannellini beans

1 chopped roasted red pepper

1 ear of corn, cut off the cob

1 c purple rice, cooked on toothsome side

Vinaigrette with extra garlic and salt

This salad is prettier before the addition of the rice. If you want those bright colors, either skip the rice or use brown or white instead.

I subbed rice for the kasha which I thought were buckwheat groats (oops). Technically, an ear of corn is not a pantry item and not even in season, but I had some because of a planned dinner party tonight. You could make it without the corn.

Other good additions: chopped hearts of palm; chopped Spanish olives; diced red onion.

Those of you who know how negative my self-talk tends to be might not recognize me after I produce a perfect omelet. Or a really tasty salad. After taking the first bite of this one, I said, “Oh my god! Who am I?”

Meanwhile, turns out that cancelling dinner guests for tonight was the right thing to do. I’ll still make sweet polenta with mushroom ragout. It’ll last for days!

Earlier, I took to cleaning up the perennial beds. Raking as a minor act of salvation.

My new life hack, discovered by accident (aren’t they all?): using a plunger to open a leaf bag, then using plunger to keep bag open while filling, and finally, using it to tamp leaves down as I go.

I used to put the bag over my head and punch it open from the inside, like a crazy person. Needless to say, at five feet tall, swinging a leg into the bag for stomping mid-rake session wasn’t accomplished with any grace either. So I’m loving this!

I also spent some time hacking and heaving and pulling at the maple roots that were left behind after a shitty stump removal. That little pile of roots depicted above? Took forty minutes.

Since my comments don’t take over at Joanne’s blog, let me shout out here: Wolf Hall is one of my favorite books ever. Be a good choice for a re-read. I just can’t believe how skillfully Mantel crafted her historic narrative. Also: she has a new novel out.

One more shout out: Happy birthday to my mother-in-law!! (She’s the only family member who reads my blog regularly.) Stay healthy. Stay strong. If you were here, I’d pull out some of the salad before adding the garlic — just for you.

Bye bye books

Five cases of books hauled down from the attic. Some ten percent pulled out to keep, the rest boxed up to give away. I feel lighter already! Meanwhile, paths have been cleared in the garage. I swept out the dead leaves. Access has been created to gardening supplies. Just saying “gardening” in my head gives me a little jolt of joy.

I opened up the packet of my sister’s etching plates and was surprised to find these two. There are no associated prints, that I know of. I’ll be keeping these. Students of the Tarot will recognize The Magician.

Big cloth, small glass

In progress, all over the living room: the six panels for First Born’s bed-sized quilt.

Will I finish in time for an upcoming birthday? Probably not. But finishing is the goal.

I keep finding glass from the shattered tumbler — in the dishwasher, on the floor.

I canvassed for Warren yesterday. The NV results were discouraging but here are three ideas to remember (cling to?):

  • Bill Clinton lost IA, NH, and NV;
  • the 75,000 early ballots in NV were cast before the most recent debate; and
  • Warren raised $12MM after that debate.

My last bday celebration took place across town last night with two long-time friends — one a fellow February baby, the other the host and a terrific cook. We’re all getting older. Actually, we’re all terrific cooks, too!

We sat by the fire and talked about all kinds of things, including — ESG-filtered investments, dating apps, grandchildren, Harriet Tubman, the NV caucus, butter beans, and how to survive in a wholly altered America.

“We only have each other. Small, local communities.”

I wonder: what kind of paperwork does one need to live, say, in Montreal?

We swapped inspiring links. I offered up the Future Primitive podcast link about regenerative design and B gave me (another) terrific astrology link as well as this:

Trash to Treasure

So if as Maddow says this is not the threat of dark times but the dark time themselves, it seems incumbent upon all of us to document gratitude and small miracles.

This orchid seems poised to bloom. It’s a kind of miracle if you ask me — especially because I know nothing about orchids or what they need. There’s a sky light, so maybe that?

The orchid was a long ago bday gift from D, who cooked dinner last night. From Georgia. The butter bean expert.

Friendship is a kind of miracle, too, don’t you think? Connections local and, I would add, connections, here. Much gratitude for these. For you.