Sunday, May 24, 2020

May blessings

Ian and are both in the middle of getting the cataracts removed from our eyes, one eye down and one to go.  My right eye is scheduled for this Wednesday.  Ian's first surgery was last Monday and boy are things different in lockdown.  I was his driver and he called from the car to check in when we arrived.  A few minutes later they called back with some instructions and off he went.  He was in the building for an hour and I waited in the car on premise as they requested.

We've been talking about whether we should take advantage of all the incentives and buy a new car.  I mean, when are we going to see 1.9% interest again?  We went to the lot Thursday evening and initiated the process but our credit was frozen at Equifax so we went home to take care of that and went back the next evening.  This is what we chose, a Subaru Crosstrek.  I've driven a Forester since 2004 and also a standard transmission.  This is totally different and loaded with all kinds of technology.  It felt weird as I started to I drive it home, but by the time I finished all three miles, I was absolutely smitten.  We never did take it for a test drive.  We just bought it.

The yard is just starting to flower.  We are always the last house to bloom because of our strange micro-climate but I took my book outside and read all afternoon, listening to the water feature and the birds.  Absolutely lovely.

This last batch of sourdough got two teaspoons of instant yeast and resulted in a much more satisfactory sandwich bread.  It's different every week.

Grandpa bought Delaney her very own little Bolga basket this week to put things into and take them out of.  She has a set of ten little books and one of those is just about to go in.

She takes a bottle every morning at 9:00 which used to be formula but now is milk.  She used to lie on her back and now she is all over the place.  I know how blessed I am.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Spring has sprung

One of my knitting project is Heidi Kirrmaier's pattern Daydream in cotton.  It's wonderfully mindless knitting for those special occasions.

I'm still baking bread one day a week, experimenting with sourdough right now.  I learned last week that the reason sourdough loaves are scored before baking is to give the steam a path out, and if you don't provide that path, it will make its own.  This week I'm going to try adding some instant yeast to see if that would make a less dense loaf.  The flavor is terrific.

I'm still making masks.  The ten on the left are for High Desert Museum and on the ten on the right are for staff nurses at St Mary's Hospital in Reno.  I have ten more to go for them.

I cut out the pieces this morning and then took a break.  It really gets to my back.

I worked on them off and on this afternoon and happily am close to being able to stitch on the ties.

Yard work is on the front of my mind these days.  I went plant shopping with two of my neighbors yesterday.  Clover wanted to introduce us to her favorite nursery, Landsystems, now my favorite nursery.  It was such a lift to get out and drool over the plants.  I came home with 11 plants in gallon pots and I planted every one of them.  It was a cool breezy day with rain forecast for today.  It came, my plants are smiling and so am I.

Clover was loading her cart up with geraniums.  Initially I wasn't interested because growing up in San Diego, they were the plant du jour - common!!  She said that deer don't eat them so she's buying them for her front porch. Times have changed and the varieties are staggering.  Clover asked me to pick one out for myself because she wanted to buy it for me, in gratitude for the hot tub.  I sure didn't expect that, and I chose this one with leaves so intricate they look like silk flowers.
We're still baby sitting, which is the best part of my week!

For Mother's Day we had the kids over for sub sandwiches and Corn Hole.  We haven't gotten together often but when we do, we don't wear gloves and masks.  In the back of all our minds was the knowledge that son Josh was scheduled for major surgery the next morning for extensive repair of scar tissue in his small intestine.  He said that the first 24 hours after surgery were the most painful in his life.

They finally got him stabilized and he was able to go home on Friday.  This situation is a fallout of a birth defect called Meckel's Diverticulum, that first surfaced when he was 12, 36 years ago when he had his first surgery.  Out of 20 feet of small intestine, he only has five left.  He needed surgery a month ago but had to wait until the hospital opened up again, and it was a long month - on top of all the hoopla of Covid-19.  Recovery is slow and painful but we're all relieved to have that time bomb out of his gut.

Last Friday Governor Kate Brown provided the guidelines to begin the opening up of Oregon.  Suddenly Downtown is filled with people again.  I've heard that a lot of them aren't wearing masks and it appears that visitors are returning.  I'm in no hurry to find out.  But I might need to make another trip to the nursery.

Saturday, May 09, 2020

Same old, same old.

I've been obsessed with making bread and after getting successful yeast breads, I decided to get serious about sourdough.  My starter is getting more lively by the week.

All of the sourdough recipes are focused on crusty artisan breads but I want a good useable sandwich loaf.  I tried to make two loaves today out of a King Arthur recipe that I thought was big enough to fill two pans.  Back to the drawing board.

We've learned that we live in a region of microclimates and that our yard seems to be the last one to mature and bloom.  It's the best ornamental garden I've ever had so I try to be patient, even as I see yards all around us flowering at this point.  I've come to the conclusion that it's because we live on a flag lot and are quite a distance from asphalt and sidewalks that tend to hold heat.  I am spending about an hour a day, cleaning up, clearing out and pulling unwanted grass.  I finished pulling all the dead canes from the raspberries today - hope for delicious yummies soon.

I thought I was done with medical masks when I sent that shipment of 25 off to my daughter in Reno who is trying to get masks for her staff.  And then she said she needs more. I came into mask making reluctantly, and when I finally caved and decided to put my sewing skills to work, told myself it was only temporary.

And then the High Desert Museum sent an email asking if any volunteers would be willing to make masks for their staff.  They dropped the fabric off on our front porch last Monday.  So here are the finished masks on the left and another ten cut out in green. 

Ian has been following a situation in Reno.  Our friend Tamara is the head of the nurses union at St Mary's hospital and struggling to get PPE (personal protective equipment) for the staff. Tamara was our neighbor out in Red Rock whom I consider to be a closer personal friend.  I called her to see if she could use masks.  OMG.  "If I sent you a hundred dollars, what will that get me?"  I said, Tamara, it doesn't work that way.  We'll all volunteers.  Our materials are donated.  Okay, she said - let's start with 20.  So that green fabric is the first half of that.  And here I am with cataract surgery Monday, wondering how soon I'll be able to see again to get a move on those masks.

And then there's that ray of sunshine who swells my heart.  She's very much into books this month.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Emergency Mask World

My life has been taken over by emergency face masks.  The first ten I made from a kit are ready to be turned in to the collection location at Bend Vet.

I thought I read that after completion they needed a second hot wash and dry.  I hope I'm wrong because the straps came out of the dryer looking liked cooked fettuccini. I ironed while damp and they are hanging to dry, looking like a pod of jellyfish.

The contact point for mask makers is a Facebook Page called Central Oregon Emergency Mask Makers.  I happened to see the offer of fabric from my friend Mary who only lives a mile from here.  I said I'd like some if she had any left.  She did and she delivered!

At this point I think I have all the fabric that I can possibly use.  I washed and ironed it today and still got a five masks mostly assembled and two completed.

Matt likes to visit when he picks Delaney up after work.  They have a new puppy and he's been taking her to work, socializing her on the job sites.  She's been on a lead all day so he gave her free time and she enjoyed the heck out of it, getting completely soaked in our pond in the process.

Delaney loves to be outdoors and though she crawls in the house, is content to just sit in the grass and watch the birds and the trees.

Every afternoon she and I have some Teletubbie time.  If you've never seen them, they look like this and there are four of them.  They jabber and she loves them.

Our governor is going to open up non-emergency surgeries on May 1st and we're holding our breath that son Josh can finally get scheduled for the bowel resection he so desperately needs, the fallout from being born with Meckel's Diverticulum.  As he says, he had the first resection when he was 12 and it's lasted 36 years.  This one should take him on out.  Waiting, waiting, and more waiting.

The Laugh I Needed

Monday, April 20, 2020

Day 41

We're going to have at least a week of cloudy weather so I decided to stop procrastinating and finish pulling the grass that has taken over this flower bed.  It was an exhausting task since the clumps of grass are so heavy.  I'm going to be sore tomorrow, every part of me.

I finally had to ask Ian to help me finish off the job before it finished me off.  He bought three flats of pansies from Costco over a week ago and we've been trying to harden them on the cool nights.  Today they went in the ground.  We've learned the hard way that if you don't buy the pansies when you see them at Costco, you'll have to buy them somewhere else.

Things are just starting to pop up and show signs of growing but at least for now when I look out the kitchen window, I'll see cheerful pops of color that aren't dandelions.

I've joined the ranks of mask makers.  It's been so many years since I've sewn, this has been a hard curve for me and shows me that my memory isn't what it used to be.  I wouldn't be able to do this wtihtout all the help from a Facebook group, Central Oregon Emergency Mask Makers.  It took me two hours to make two masks but I'll get faster

I found a tutorial for this jig on the Facebook page and it reduces the time per mask by at least ten minutes.  You don't have to iron every step of the way, though I did buy this new iron from Costco yesterday.  My old one had lost the ability to steam and I'm glad to have this for when I need it.  I followed another tutorial for the straps and found finger pinching and folding really quick.  I had a couple of hours this afternoon - dress my loom or make masks?

And the loom won.  I'm not ready to weave - but almost!  These are tidepool colors.

Several years ago I decided instead of putting Christmas cards in the recycling, I'd just put them in a bowl and save them for later.  Delaney has found that bowl.

She loves to study them, picking up cards, putting them down, picking up different cards. Christmas cards are graphic design, meant to capture your eye, and Delaney loves them.  We scoop them up and put them back in the bowl several times a day to give her another activity.  She's crawling with a vengeance so she's all about activity.

She is our sunshine.

Monday, April 13, 2020

Self-Quarantine Lethargy Blues

Ian found this at Costco, two ten-pound bags of unbleached all-purpose flour.  I'm making a single loaf each week, whether we use up the previous loaf or not.  And I'm slowly getting better and more predictable.

I made this loaf last Thursday and got distracted by the baby so that it ended up rising three times.  I'm planning to make another loaf this Thursday but not just with bread flour.  This time I'm going with a mix of white, whole wheat and oats.  Ian found a pound of whole wheat at Newport Market.  It's in a deli container and priced at $.99/pound.  I'll use it sparingly.

Yesterday I walked through the planned community next to us and was touched by this sideway art.  At the other end someone had traced children with chalk and written, "We're all in this together."  This end was all flowers and the encouragement to "Take a deep breath."  This truly is the great unknown.

Last fall I was invited to participate in a print exchange in May to celebrate Pat Clark's 85th birthday. Our agreement to participate was due October 11, 2019 and was anticipated to be an edition of 30.  We were given a statement from which to pull our inspiration and the reception/celebration was to be in May 2020.  Oh how the world has changed in those six months.  I expect I'm the only printmaker submitting hand-burnished relief prints which has been a tall order.  I learned a lot.  I still consider myself a student even if with the closing of the A6 studio I don't have a teacher.

I finished printing yesterday and numbered, named and signed them today.  It's actually an edition of 40 and I almost feel bad since I'm the only student who was invited, but I did my best and I hold my head up high. The best part for me was getting back into the printmaking groove.  I've fallen prey to lethargy during self-quarantine but that's over. 

Of course it helps that this sunny little girl is here every week and now we've gotten several sunny days in a row.  Gardening cannot be far behind.

Tuesday, April 07, 2020

Four weeks

I'm keeping track of the days since I went into voluntary quarantine, and each morning I mark off another one.  Tomorrow begins my fifth week.  There were 64 new cases and two deaths yesterday so we'll still not at the turning point.  I read an essay in a recent New Yorker about how China handled the pandemic aggressively and now have lifted the quarantine in Wuhan.  Our Administration bungled this so badly, I just can't think about it too much.  People are dying unnecessarily.

My sister-in-law Rochelle made masks and sent us two of them.  We just got them in the mail and Ian used his today when he went to Safeway.  It's hot!!  Maybe it's the body heat trapped in the mask that kills the virus. 

I read a helpful article that a friend found, listing things to be aware of during this crisis and helpful actions we can take.  One item was to take on a long-term project like learning to play the piano.  I don't have a piano but I haven't woven in a month either.  Bingo.  I finished winding the warp this afternoon in tide pool colors.  Sadly my inactivity has left me with weakened back muscles and I kept having to take breaks to let my back rest.  My super longterm goal will be to use my weights and get my strength back.

And I decided to get my bread mojo back, but it appears that a large portion of American has turned to baking as a comfort activity.  Ian called me from Costco to say that this 25-pound bag of unbleached white flour was the only flour he'd seen, did I want it?  I've always used unbleached white, whole wheat or bread flour but said - buy it!  That might be the only flour we see for the next month.

He has a list of items to look for whenever he shops, including toilet paper of course.  Yeast was always just an empty shelf, and then at his favorite grocery store, employee-owned Newport Market, he found King Arthur bread flour and this one-pound brick of yeast.  It's a completely new yeast to me as is dry mixing it with the ingredients.  I was disappointed with my first try so am going to make some single loaves from the bleached white flour to get acquainted with this altitude, cooking times and temps.  I used to bake all my own bread and I've forgotten how much I enjoy it.

Delaney turned one on Friday.  She is my sunshine in this viral storm.