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Sunday, September 30, 2007

Makeshift Teepee

Is there any other kind? Not today there isn't. It was gorgeous outside—low-seventies, sunny, breezy—and my latest knitting project is on the skids (don't even ask about the knee-high slippers I was trying to design and knit), so I made a little tent out in the yard for the bug. It's especially fun when the train goes by and makes it seem even more like the wild west out here. I cut down four straight-growing privet bushes, trimmed the poles up, and tied them at the top with some twine, then covered them with four lengths of fabric basted together. I didn't want to cut the fabric so I could use it again for other purposes—it's all material my folks brought home from Thailand and/or Singapore and/or Suriname—like a more polished version of the teepee pictured here. So: branches, some cloth, a little thread, four safety pins, and three bricks (the breeze occasionally turns to wind) . . .

A while back I made a couple of dining room chair cushions, but I don't like them very much so I tied them back to back and the bug uses it as a pallet, sometimes propping one half up on a wall and sitting on it like a chair.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Finished Quilt

On a foggy morning, shot through a peanut butter–smeared camera lens, it doesn't look too bad:

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Fall

Fall's here at last. My amazing husband Mr. Chalmers gave me a haircut out on the front steps, and I like it a lot better than any haircut I've had in the last three years. It took him three minutes, and he cut about four inches off (in places). Here it is after much blow-drying and ironing:

Along the main road to our house today, between the road and the railroad tracks were drifts of ragweed or goldenrod (I don't know which is which) interspersed with the fire red of turning sumac leaves. There were dark storm clouds and bright sun, and it was windy. Mr. Chalmers made an excellent tri tip, Santa Maria–style, and I made the traditional salsa to go with it (the salsa includes celery, oregano, and Worcestershire sauce, among other things). More on that tomorrow, I hope—we plan to grill another one.

The days are still a bit warm, but the mornings are chilly, so we put the big wool quilt on the bed, and last night I finished up a little quilt—my first real quilt—to curl up on the couch with. It's just four-inch squares, and I was so careful about cutting them all the same size and keeping my seam allowances even and uniform, but somehow they got all off-track as I sewed the strips of squares together. It was only toward the very end of the process that I realized that stitching with the new strip, the one I was attaching, on top made the seams line up, while putting the new strip on the bottom made them shift. And while I'm not a fan of machine-sewn binding, the hand sewing was taking me much too long, so I just ran it through the old Bernina, prettiness be damned. So it's not well constructed, but I think it looks okay, plus it was cheap to make (all of scraps and some leftover muslin, though I did use a good cotton-poly batting), easy to work on in short batches, and just what I needed for fall in a drafty old house. Here's a picture of it in progress:

Drafty, as it turns out, isn't the half of it. When it rained hard last week the water was coming in the bedroom ceiling like there was no ceiling there at all to slow it down. The floor afterward looked like someone had poured a couple gallon jugs of water on it. The next day, I went out and did an inspection, and just for the heck of it I cleaned off the leaves and pecans that had collected in the valley over the leak. Sure enough: hard rain that evening, and no leaking. How do you learn about things like leaves on the roof and that they need to be cleaned off? It probably hasn't caused too much damage, given that our walls are so drafty—they must dry out fairly quickly.

In other home maintenance news, I learned how to glaze a window. We have these old wood six-over-six windows with (mostly) original (or at least very old) glass, and two panes broke recently. I replaced one, but haven't gotten to the second because it's high up and I need to do it while on a ladder, and I've been waiting for a long nap from the bug to tackle that one.

And speaking of the bug, she just finished her third week at daycare! She goes two days a week to a place in the next county over, where they have a shrine to GWB and Jesus in the lobby and they sing a blessing before every meal. We've all had colds of varying degrees ever since her very first day, but otherwise it's working out well and allowing me to do a lot of freelance work I would not have been able to even consider doing before. She has not learned to talk in any meaningful way yet; so far she's only learned two things from daycare that we know of: when she waves now, she doesn't just flop her arm around, but rather holds her hand up and opens and closes it; and she shakes her head "no"—emphatically—when she doesn't want something.

Because she's gone two days a week, the days she and I have together now are more relaxed, and I don't find myself worrying about work I'm not doing or trying to work and not doing it well. We do things like make bread and messes. The other day I gave her her own bowl and put some ingredients in it and let her do whatever she wanted. She really tried to stir and knead the way she saw me doing it, and didn't let me touch her ball of dough. It turned out really well. Future posts will be more informative, perhaps with recipes and everything, but for now here's the bug making bread:

The bug mixing up her dough, standing on the window seat as usual.

video

The bug kneading her dough.

I helped shape it into a ball, and we let it rise.

We put it in a pan and into a cold oven.

It's still hot, but she wants to try it right away. She says "Hot" when she touches it.