Saturday, March 21, 2020

Just breathe

I live in Maricopa County, in Arizona, USA. And we just had our first death from COVID-19. Which means it is past time for us all to go on an in-person social fast. You've all read the headlines and delved into the articles, so I really don't have a whole lot to add to that. I've been staying home the past few days, but I realized today that social distancing can happen really well on the trails as well. Yes, I'll stay home most of the time. But I know where there are empty spaces, with no other folks around for ages. Every now and then, when the walls are really closing in around me, I think I'll take myself to the wilderness and just breathe.

We've been told to not gather in groups of more than 10 at a time, and that is a good start. But this thing... You can have it, and pass it on before you show symptoms. And that scares the snot out of me. I had been looking at just having small get togethers, just with my friends and loved ones. Well, I was thinking that way last week anyway. There were hardly any cases locally, and we'd let each other know if we weren't feeling well, and.. and... And if I get it, that means the folks I would pass it on to would be my friends and loved ones. My nearest and dearest. And some of them might not make it. And that would be on me. And I am watching our numbers climb, and climb, and I can see where this is going.

So, home. Or out away from everyone, until they tell us that out of the house isn't a thing.

And keep breathing.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Cooking in the time of uncertainty

Yup, I'm a home body these days. The world is an uncertain place right now, and the best thing I can do for it is to stay home and take care of my people. I got this.

So, I've been turning to my home making. We have an orange tree that needs to be harvested, and a bumper crop of mint out front with all of the spring rains we have been getting. My daughter and I had a kitchen day yesterday.

 First up was making up a batch of sekanjabin. This is a drink that I usually make for SCA camping events. But my daughter had her tonsils out a few years ago, and we found that this is awesome stuff for sore throats. She had a hard time getting water down when she was recovering, but this stuff did the trick. I decided since we had so much mint, it might make sense to have some of this already made and on hand for if/when we get sick. The syrup lasts for a long time without refrigeration, and you just dilute it with water to drink.

5 lb honey

4 c water
2 c apple cider vinegar
big handful fresh mint

Dissolve honey in water. Bring to boil (watch this, it will boil up all of a sudden), add vinegar. Simmer 1/2 hour or more. Remove from heat and add mint. Let cool. Strain out mint. Dilute resulting syrup with water to drink, about 8-1 water to syrup, or to taste. 

 Then we harvested some oranges and juiced them. Store bought tastes nothing like fresh squeezed from the back yard!

We also had a dozen lemons from a neighbor's tree, so we made up a pitcher of fresh lemonade. Which reminds me, I want a drink. Just a sec...

Ok, I'm back. Yum.
And then we took the time to make candied orange and lemon peels. Luckily I wrote on this a few years back, so I could just pull up my own blog entry for the recipe. Thanks, past Melissa!
 And here are the fruits of our labors. Two containers of sekanjabin syrup. Candied orange and lemon peels, which are really yummy. Little containers of lemon and orange syrup. A pitcher of lemonade. And I saved all the sugar that fell off of the finished candy, and tucked it into the tea cabinet.

The afternoon of slow cooking and chatting served to settle me from my anxiety. I know things are going to get worse before they get better. But I also know that home arts speak to the heart, and provide comfort. We've got this.

Thursday, March 5, 2020

Spring in the desert

It is spring wildflower season in the Arizona desert! Eric & I went out hiking in the White Tank Mountain Regional Park this evening. The air smelled heavenly, and there were flowers just everywhere. You don't necessarily think of the desert being a haven for blooms, but it is just gorgeous at this time of year. Take a peek...

Yup, that is me in the field of flowers. I had to be careful not to sit on any cactus spines. Totally worth it.

(Eric took the shots of me, and I took the rest.)

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Waiting. Weaving. Hoping.

I'm still waiting on the appraisal for the potential new house and studio. In the meantime? I'm finally weaving off this project on my loom. I've got 7 sets of 4 each cotton napkins almost done. Each set has a different weft color. This grey weft is the last of the 7. Hopefully I'll finish this up tonight, and do the washing/ironing/hemming bit by the end of the week. I've got some folks waiting for several of these sets, and at $25/napkin that will give me some funds to go towards the new studio build at the new place. And it will be one more thing off of my mental checklist.

Yes, I'm trying to keep myself busy, so I don't throw a tantrum like Veruca Salt in the Chocolate Factory. I Want IT NOWWWWWW!!!!

Waiting. Weaving. Hoping.

Sunday, March 1, 2020

Prepping for moving

We're making progress on buying our new house. The home inspection came back with no major deal breakers, just a list of 'to-do's' for once we move in, and some negotiating points. Next up is the appraisal. Once we pass that hurdle, we've got clear sailing!

And so, I'm in the process of de-cluttering and de-stashing my current house and studio. The new place is going to be smaller than this one. And, well, I've been living in this same place for about 24 years now. Perhaps not entirely surprisingly, I've accumulated a LOT of stuff. Other folks have moved, and gifted us bits they weren't taking. I've gathered neat useful stuff that I am going to get to one of these days. (Those have been sitting there for years now. One of these days hasn't happened.) I've got this archaelogical dig type layers on layers of stuff of who I have been over the past few decades. I've raised my kids here. I've had I don't know how many different hobbies here.


I've got a sale and give-away going over on Facebook, and am taking bags over to Goodwill. And I've hardly touched it all.

Wish me luck!! There are a lot of ghosts of dreams past to work through during this process.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

New House???


We've put in an offer on a new house, and it has been accepted. I've been looking for just the perfect place for about 8 years now. Either I couldn't find what I was looking for, or we found it and couldn't afford it, or found it and someone sniped it out from under us. The Phoenix house market is super hot right now, and houses go incredibly fast.

But I spotted a promising listing this past Friday, and showed it to the guys. Brian and I were heading out of town on a road trip, but we've been house hunting long enough together that we trusted Eric to take point and check out the place. He did, he loved it, and we pulled the trigger on Sunday. The offer was accepted on Monday. And I just walked through the place today, to see what it was I had gotten myself into. Luckily, Brian and I loved it just as much as Eric did.

The picture above is one wing of a 1000 ft L shaped outdoor studio. This would be the wing that houses my Tangible Daydreams fiber studio. The other wing will be for Journey Frog Audio Services, Brian's recording business. Eric gets the garage for his wood working shop. Finding a place with three distinct creative spaces has been a challenge!!

So, we are down to the crossing fingers, holding breath, and home inspection portion of the adventure. We should know by this coming weekend if there are any deal breakers hiding away. Wish us luck!!

Friday, September 7, 2018

Meet Sophie the studio kitten

I'd like to introduce you to Sophie, my new studio cat. She turned up in my front yard two and a half weeks ago as a half starved foundling. It took me three days to get my hands on her. How did I do it? I have food for outside cats in my garage. (See above.) So that and the ready supply of water in my courtyard pond kept her in the area. Then I sat out in the 110F Arizona heat singing to her until she got used to me being around. Mostly ABBA songs. I had just seen the movie "Mama Mia: Here We Go Again", see. (Hence the name Sophie.) The third day, I was able to grab her, and bring her inside. I still have the bite mark. Scared feral thing!

Today? She is sleek and fluffy and curling up in my lap and purring when she isn't bouncing around the studio doing kitten things. It has taken a lot of work though! I don't think she had any experience with humans before, and was used to being scared all of the time. I have no idea where her mother was, or how she found her way to my front courtyard.

I can't save all of them. But when they come to me? Totally fair game.

So, I'll get back to weaving in a bit. I've got some blue and brown napkins on the loom that are moving slowly, but I'm getting there. These are inspired by an article in the May/June 2013 issue of Handwoven magazine on 4 Block/4 Shaft Summer and Winter. I used that as a jump off point to design my own napkins. I'm liking how it is turning out, but using two shuttles and changing colors and treadling with every block is proving to be a bit of a mental challenge. Every square on these napkins will be slightly different from each other.

 I'll get there. But....kitten!