Thursday, April 30, 2020

To Next Year!

 The decision has been made.   Our church has cancelled the festival for this June and so there won't be a quilt exhibit this year.  It is the right decision but that doesn't mean it's not disappointing.  One good friend and contributor just emailed this:

"Next year the crowds will be twice a big, everyone twice as anxious to attend and the quilts will be 10 times more wonderful, many completed during isolation."

Lift your glass to next year!

Monday, April 27, 2020

Flower Power

It doesn't take much these days to put a smile on my face.  The governor gave the OK for greenhouses to open and the one I frequent for my geraniums opened this morning at 8 a.m.  I was there at 7:30.  It felt so GOOD to do something normal and have a real outing!  I came home energized and baked the rest of the day.  Two batches of buttermilk blueberry scones and a chocolate layer cake.
PH started sorting our newest puzzle(s.)  Our daughter-in-law told us about mystery puzzles that everyone where they live is into.  You get a mystery to solve in a booklet but first you have to put two 500 piece puzzles together without benefit of a picture guide.  But the real clincher is that both puzzles are in the same bag!  For PH a puzzle laid out on a table is like potato chips.  You can't stop once you start.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020


Finishes!  Well, these are the recent confinement finishes.  And I've spent some time making masks and clearing up scrap piles prepping some starts. My project table in my sewing corner is full of starts!
 This was an antique quilt I found at a garage sale.  I thought it needed to be finished.  The quilting is simple.  It really isn't this discolored, the sun and shadows were playing hide and seek

Inside and true to color.  I think this might have been done in the 30's judging from the green and the pattern.

 This is a simple use up of leftover orange peels from another project.  Sometimes when I like making squares so much I just overdo it and keep going.  The binding is scrappy.  I will often make scrappy bindings in a color, store them and I love  the ease of reaching into the container and choosing something that works and is already done. The binding is what I was working on when the girls came over yesterday to play in the woods.
 Zooming in, you can see they were working on something
But when you see how far back they really were, well, you can't see them at all.  If you look at the center of this picture and go back, back, back, they were just a pin prick in the very center of the picture.  They love going back there to play along the creek especially on these tolerably warmer days and before the mosquitoes come out.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Earth Day

Two words I hope to never have to hear or utter again in my life: social distancing.  I thought there were other two word phrases that have come into vogue in the past couple of years would tip me over the edge, but these two words are now at the top of that list.

Everyone is tired of it.  Everyone is either struggling, coping, helping, or hoping. As we sit home isolated and made to feel afraid of each other, some people, the ones who don't have to be out there as essential to our surviving this, are embracing the slowdown. Some people especially after the initial shock of it are getting things done at home, stripping wallpaper, washing windows, sewing masks, cleaning up yards, finding the back ends of closets, doing house repairs,  learning something new because there isn't anything you can't learn on YouTube.

Have you noticed the smog and pollution has lifted and the animals are coming out?  People aren't in the way and the earth heals. A profound thought for Earth Day.

Last week there were some people I know who were dropping out of Facebook.  I recently read an article about people coming back to Facebook after leaving it in the past because they are so completely bored.  When I go looking for photos of the children of nieces, nephews and grands I notice on my sidebar that every single name is lit up.  It seems like everyone is back and always on.

 I was very happy to hear that a couple of people, family members and a friend  have given up on Facebook, were distancing themselves from it.  Too much negativity, too much anger, too much ranting and way, way too much politics and virus talk.  One niece said she is tired of all of that but it was especially jarring to her to hear the talk of people she considered friends who, at the top of their red faced voice, spout condoning the current administration in Washington.  She was really jarred, trying to figure out how and if she is to relate to these people she considered her friends in the future.  

We all want to be heard and we all want to be safe and we all want to be healthy and in order to do that we all have to cooperate.

The one thing that brings me complete and total comfort in this time is knowing the entire planet Earth is in the same situation, confined, separated, restricted, paused, finding other ways and dealing with it. This Earth Day, we can't plant a tree or flowers and think we've done our duty for the health of the planet (because the garden centers are closed.) We can, though, give thought to every single person on this Earth and do what we can for their health because ultimately, their health is our health.

When the entire planet is on the same page it ISN'T all about you.  There is no more you.


Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Whatcha got cookin'?

    OK, so, everyone is talking about how often and whether we change our clothes - or even WEAR clothes instead of sweats.  Getting dressed up to take out the garbage . Don't laugh.  A week ago PH and I went for a ride in the car and both of us put on 'nice' clothes to not even get out of the car!  People are talking about how busy the liquor stores are and I would wager what they are buying isn't going into home made hand sanitizer.  It's hard to find things to talk about because for once we are all doing the same things.  Not a lot of variety out there.
    But one thing we can do is cook.  We've been eating out of our freezer.  In the past we've been those kind of people who buy meat on sale and stuff it in the freezer.  PH is particularly fond of buying Johnsonville brats and I think we could host a wedding reception if we thawed all of them at once. 
    Digging around one day I found some shrimp we didn't serve at Christmas. 
 So I tried my hand at home made pasta.  Cooked the shrimp in butter and garlic and tossed it all with pesto.  That was one good dinner!
     Wandering through Pinterest one day I and found these Italian Easter cookies.  They looked like something I used to get at a bakery that hasn't been around for many years.  I tried them.  They were TOO good so I sent them down the street to my daughter's house.

     I found a recipe for one chocolate chip cookie.  I didn't need the recipe but the breakdown of ingredient amounts. It says one cookie but that one cookie is the size of a dinner plate so I divided it into four.  One cookie for each of us for two days.  They are buttery, chocolatey, nutty.  We love nuts in our chocolate chip cookies but most of the rest of the family doesn't so it's not very often we have a good nutty chocolate chip cookie. 
    Our daughter, bless her heart, is doing her level best to keep us in the house.  I don't know where she thinks we go.  We do go to the grocery store, as we are allowed once a week, and we take a walk once a day.  She belongs to this group called FarmLink and yesterday when she picked up her order she added some goodies for us.  Parsnips, yellow beet, fresh lettuce, a few potatoes, cheese and baguette.
     So, while you are sitting around in your jammies, are you cooking?

 One Chocolate Chip Cookie (or four)
Heat oven to 350
2 tablespoons softened butter  (use BUTTER)
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 large egg yolk (do not use the whole egg - just the yolk)
1/4 tsp. vanilla
1/3 cup flour
1/8 tsp. each salt and baking soda
1/4 cup chocolate chips (or more!)
Nuts  ( I don't measure nuts and I use pecans and/or walnuts)

I use a spoon and a bowl, it doesn't make a lot of dough.  I use parchment on my baking sheets so use whatever you use to make sure they don't stick to the cookie sheet.  Don't use the whole egg.  I was talking while mixing these up one day and put the whole egg in.  It is an entirely different thing if you do that, so don't.

Mix the butter and sugars.  Add the egg and vanilla.  Add the flour, baking soda and salt.  Fold in the chocolate chips and nuts.   I divide the dough into four and put on cookie sheet.  
Recipe says to bake 20-22 minutes but I bake mine for 15 minutes.  You don't want them burnt or too crispy.   Cool and eat.   

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Gimme a Head With Hair

So, I saw online the other day someone saying, "who said hairdressers aren't essential services???!!!"

     How are YOU looking these days? We will save whether you get dressed anymore for another day.
     This is day 25 for PH and I and about the only obstacle I can't seem to figure out how to crawl over, under, around or through is hair.   We can and do go to the grocery store once a week, we can take neighborhood walks, we can go for a drive through the countryside. We can even sit well over 6 feet apart on the porch with the grand girls and visit, eating cookies and chocolate eggs.
     I know those of you who color your hair are really panicking.  If you have long hair you can ride out the storm better than those of us with short hair.  I haven't had long hair for 46 years. Lately I'm starting to look like Albert Einstein.  Soon I won't be able to be seen in polite company.  I'll start getting looks.  The straps on my face mask won't fit behind my head.

     There was a time when we all looked shaggy and wore headbands to control the chaos.  I've gone searching through drawers and found some things that might help.

 I found these in the bathroom drawer.  When the girls were little they looked so cute with little ponies and piggies gathered in rubber bands that are about as big as the ones now on Adelaide's braces.  And the cute little sparkly clips held sweet wisps.  But I am beyond these.
 Quilt clips?  As you can see I have just one.  I don't use them to hold down my bindings while I sew so one won't be much use in my hair, either.  Nice thought, though.  You quilters out there might want to take some selfies using these in your hair!  I know they come in fun colors. 
 Potato chip bag clips? Now we're getting there. 
If all else fails and I need a lot more than three, maybe clothespins?  I have a basketful.

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

It's not normal

 From up here, way up in the trees, sitting in the evening on the front porch can almost make me feel like things are normal.  People are out riding their bikes around coming-home-from-work time.  I can hear kids talking and questioning and parents telling them to turn right or go straight at the corner.  I can hear the lone dog bark as it's let out into the yard, a lawn mower somewhere already working even though the grass is barely green let alone long enough to mow.

There is the occasional truck.  Not like normal traffic.  There is a business at the other end of the cemetery that's at the bottom of our driveway.  The semi trucks go to and from the business from early in the morning till evening. Not constantly all day, but enough.  After awhile it's like a ticking clock, you just don't hear it anymore. Except when it isn't there.  Then  you notice.  It's not normal.

It's quiet, even for this small city. On a normal day from 4 till 6:30 p.m. you can't turn left onto our main street because of the traffic.  But you can now.  You can walk across this main highway, stop, look around and still make it across just fine and that's not normal.

Restaurants are closed or doing take out only business.  And from the looks of it, there's not much of that.  Businesses are closed if they don't sell food and precious few of them do.  Gas stations are open but there's nowhere to go so a full tank can last a really long time.  More and more people are wearing masks.  Not everyone yet, but many.  We are. Going through McDonald's drive thru service I give my money to a gloved hand and at the goods window my diet coke is presented in a cardboard carrier container from which I take my drink without touching the cardboard. All hands are gloved, faces masked.

All sports are cancelled, events, dance recitals, school, churches, libraries, birthdays, anywhere people can congregate or find themselves in a party of more than two. Easter will not be spent with family but alone.  Hospitals and nursing homes and care facilities are begging for supplies and praying for the people who they have to admit. Only essential services are open.  Grocery stores, gas stations, pharmacies. Liquor stores are open but churches are closed.  The newly opened marijuana store is open but schools are closed. 

We took a walk to our daughter's house today to stand in the yard and say hi.  We talked to a neighbor out mowing his lawn.  He in his yard, we in the middle of the street.  It was safe. There were no cars. We could talk.

I've been making masks.  Elastic has gone the way of toilet paper.  Everyone wants it and no one has any to sell.  So I make ties for my masks.  They are mismatched funky and fun.  You might as well have something funky and fun tied to your face if you have to wear something tied to your face.

In spite of everything, we are lucky and we know it.  No one we know has the virus,  we have food in the freezer, we are retired so don't have to worry about jobs, our children are employed, our grands are tired of this but healthy.  We have friends who are worried about their elders, worried about spouses in the hospital and they can't be there with them. We are worried for them, too, but are in the position of not being able to do a darned thing about it nor support them with anything but empty talk.

So.  While Rome burns and Nero plays his fiddle, we cope. 

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

The Sin Eater by Megan Campisi

   The Sin Eater by Megan Campisi

What should punishment be for being so hungry you steal a loaf of bread? Stories have been written about such. May, just fourteen, finds out it can be a punishment of banishment. From this one transgression she is condemned to be a Sin Eater and from this day on she can neither speak nor be spoken to, she cannot touch nor be touched. She must live apart with a senior sin eater learning what her new life will be like.

Called to a deathbed, a Sin Eater hears the confessions of the dying and must tell the witnesses which foods to have ready when the dying happens. She speaks one word depending on the sin: burning – kidney pie, adultery – raisins, conspiracy – brandy posset, lies – mustard seed, etc. Each sin has a food designation and will be placed on the coffin to be eaten by the Sin Eater after death occurs.

All Sin Eaters are women because to men in this 16th century world Eve was the first sin eater. Wearing a metal collar that brands her for all to see, May must find her way to the other sin eater, for learning, shelter and sustenance but never a word spoken or a touch. As she follows to deathbeds to hear confessions and eatings after death, May watches and learns. At one such eating at the palace Ruth, for that is what May calls her teacher because she can’t speak her name, finds a deer heart waiting to be eaten but no sin was spoken representing the deer heart. Ruth refuses to eat a sin that was not confessed and for this she is imprisoned and May is left to her lonely life. Then, at the palace again, another deer heart where there was no corresponding sin. May must decide on a fate like Ruth’s by refusing to eat or eat the heart and live to find out who did commit the sins represented by the heart.

May comes to understand how to find strength in her banishment. People are afraid of her, run from her, allow her free access if she approaches all the while begging her not to curse them. She uses this power. She is invisible to everyone who looks down as she approaches so she uses this to go places she should not be. She can’t speak so people understand what is said in front of her will not be repeated as they speak freely. She learns to use her boundaries to widen her world.

The author explains that Sin Eaters did exist in certain parts of Britain until, amazingly, about a century ago. “What we know is that they ate a piece of bread beside people’s coffins to absolve their sins in a folk ritual with Christian resonances.” I couldn’t help but see the similarities between the confessional and the confessor and the sacredness of silence. To see priests in the novel’s Makermen, to see God as the Maker.

I’ve never read a story like this. It was fascinating, surprising, mesmerizing….all those startled words one says when you meet up with something so incredibly interesting.