Tuesday, May 15, 2018

something for my niece

After my busy outdoor activities on Friday I collapsed with allergies. Oof! I had the ultimate gummy-brain. I managed to run some errands on Saturday before crashing. Sunday was a complete wash. I ended up binge-watching most of the second season of the original 21 Jump Street. That was fun. While watching I tried to find a knitting project. I stumbled on this little project: the Amish Puzzle Ball. So easy and so cute! Originally I wanted to make it red and purple to match Liam's hat but I didn't have enough yarn. It turned into the perfect opportunity to use up some of my stash. 
The project is so simple. Crochet twelve half circles, fold in half and crochet a seam to make cones. Crochet the outside with increases, then attach the cones and stuff with batting as you close them up. Connect as a ring. Assemble all into a ball. It's very soft and I hope she likes it. Who knows? it might be something Liam wants to play around with too. 
 At any rate it was inspected and approved. So it will be mailed tomorrow.

Today was primary day in Pennsylvania. The only person I was excited to vote for was John Fetterman, running for Lt. Governor. And I just checked - he is the Democratic candidate!
Yes. Really. This guy is going to be the next Lt. Gov. of the state of Pennsylvania. Never judge a book by it's cover. This man has a Master's Degree in Public Policy from Harvard. I have such high hopes for him. I actually saw him, live and in person in Philadelphia in December, driving his own SUV down Chestnut St. I was on my bicycle headed to the post office. It took me a moment to realize, Yes! it really was him! His window was rolled down and he must have sensed me staring (let's face it, totally star struck) at him, because he turned to look at me and I completely embarrassed myself. I pointed at him, waved like a mad crazy person and shouted, "I love you! I really do!" He was very nice and said I made his day, but you know, he really made mine.

A thunderstorm rolled through Philly this evening and my allergies are easing up  - finally!
It also left us a beautiful rainbow that Miss Mary and I enjoyed from her stoop while making sure everyone who passed us on the sidewalk saw it too. 

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Weekend projects

 Friday morning I finally decided to tackle the mess that is the abandoned house behind me. It looks so much better when things are growing over it, but those things growing are also a problem. Ever since the tree was cut down, the invasive plants have taken over and have made quite a mess of that house. It's been ten years of junk accumulating back there. I don't even know how most of it got there.
 The iron sofa frame has been there all along, but the red and white KFC container is new from last month. Was someone back there? Did a squirrel drag it over there? It's a mystery. I do know that a few tenants ago in the house next door, used the empty lot as their own personal dumping grounds. Just tossing their garbage over the wall.
Then there was the tenant who tossed his lit cigarette into the mess and caught the whole place on fire. Luckily I had just seen him smoking and then looked up to see the smoke coming up above the edge of the wall.
 Or? maybe not? Maybe it would have been good to let the place burn to the ground. It's not really salvageable for anyone to purchase. 
 After about two hours of cutting paper mulberries, piling up some of the junk to be tossed in shifts and filling three large construction bags of trash (shoes, pots, clothes, food junk, kitchen utensils,  baby diapers) I had to stop.
 I wanted to pull up the disgusting carpet but there were too many black spiders crawling around on top of it.
 I was happy with the progress I had made. Now I just have to go back in next week and start hauling out some of the junk in the pile.

After that mess it was time for a fun project. Miss Mary and I had gone to purchase our spring plants and some flowers with left over money from the gift certificate we received from Green's Grow the previous week. We also bought 4x4s to make nicer planters.

With help from the West Philly Tool Library, I check out a chop saw and a set of very special drill bits that will drill a wide circle into wood so you can recess the head of a nail or bolt. Very practical.

The drill is a different story. Something happened to mine last summer. I haven't seen it since then. This is very sad because that drill was a good friend, helped me with a lot of projects. I think it was stolen, but I have no proof. There were so many people wandering in and out of my house last year. I have a second drill at school to use for drilling holes in boards. I brought that home. When I pulled it out to use it, it just didn't have enough power. Not only that, but I can't find my box of multi drill bits. This convinces me even more that the drill was "lifted" along with the bits. Sigh. oh well.

Mr. El left early in the morning, so I asked Miss Mary if she knew where he kept his and if I could borrow it. She brought me this the heavy-duty scary looking drill. But no complaints! It got the job done.
 Once they were finished, we hauled them out to the street, put them in, and planted the flowers.
 I don't know what it is about flowers. It just brightens everything and made us so happy.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Bees at last!

Finally - my bees have arrived. What a saga. 
Between my not putting a stamp on the envelope with my order, to all of the bees dying of heat when the first batch was brought up, I thought I'd never have bees again.
But this Saturday, all went smoothly. 

I picked up my two packages in Blue Bell (a 45 minute drive with no traffic from Philadelphia). On the way home I kept feeling that something was crawling around in my blouse. Thinking I was just imagining creepy-crawlies I kept driving. But then I put my elbow on the window sill of the car and a bee flew out! Thank goodness I didn't get stung.
Installing them into the hives went well and last night I let the queens out - again, no problems. Nobody stung me. yay! I still have to put honey supers on, but I'm going to wait a bit. Give the queen some time to adjust and let everyone know they are okay. 

I had another nice garden surprise; apparently, I have a wisteria vine in the garden.  
I had suspected as much for a few years as I spied a few remnants of blooms that hadn't quite met their maturity. But this year there was no mistake when I came home one day to find the above. 

Unfortunately they are intertwined with Mr. El's bundle of chain link fence he has been threatening to install for the last four years. sigh.

In the meantime, I'm going to try to figure out how to get the vine out of the chain link coil to save it. I'd really like more of these!

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Book for Exhibit

Just under the wire, I finished my book for an exhibit at the Philadelphia Museum of Art Library. There is a show there of a very prominent Book Artist, Keith Smith. I have several of his books and use them often for instruction and inspiration. The Delaware Valley Chapter of the Guild of Bookworkers members made works based on Smith's non-adhesive bindings and they will be shown in conjunction with the exhibition. Cool! 

I've been doing a lot of research on bees in eager anticipation of mine (which I still don't have and am not sure I will get this weekend after all) and I stumbled across this book on google books: Langstroth's Hive and the Honey-Bee  Google books is a great resource to find rare and out of print books. If they are in the public domain they are often digitized in their entirety. You can download a pdf. From there it's not difficult to turn the pdf into jpegs and set everything imposition in InDesign. Print it out and Voilá! Book on Demand. I didn't use the entire text because it's nearly 600 pages, so I just chose about 60 of the pages I was interested in, the hive design, flowers the bees were interested in, and recipes. 

In his book 1, 2, & 3 Section bindings, Smith has instructions for a hexagon sewing. I took that and modified it to turn it into honey comb. 

Designing the pattern was a major challenge. I have several sewing cards where I tried doing all kinds of crazy things. I finally got what I thought would work and so I decided to make a little mock up. 

That's a lot of holes. 

Sorry for the blurry - but you get the idea. Things went fairly well until I got to the other side. The paper was just too perforated and I started tearing holes through them. 

I figured I had the hang of the binding anyway and could start working on the materials for the real book. 

The orange is a nice departure from all of my blue books. I picked up two pieces of Cave Paper at the College Book Arts conference and that came in handy. That's the inner cover. 

I couldn't find the right paper for the outside. I would have loved to use a sheet of the Walnut Cave Paper, but I don't have any of that. Luckily I remembered all of the gorgeous paper I bought in Korea! The beautiful Hanji papers were exactly what I wanted. 

I had forgotten how beautiful they all are. I'm glad I've saved them and not squandered them of silly projects. This is the one they were meant for. 

I chose the brown papers, and dipped two different shades in melted bees wax. The pages become slightly translucent so that orange Cave Paper shows through nicely.

It took over 9 hours to sew the seven signatures. 

Final touch,

a little gold bee for the front cover. 

I am really satisfied with this binding. So much so, I'm looking at the other two sheets of wax-dipped paper and thinking - I could make two more. Why not? 

I'm extra proud of myself because my mock crab-apple bloomed on Saturday. Boy howdy are my allergies kicking up. 

The tree is incredible this year. I've seen so many people stop and take pictures of it, reach up to touch the petals, and even a few people picking some branches. I don't mind. I always want to do that when I pass the cherry trees that are so spectacular. And if I could, I'd have a big vase of the blooms on my kitchen table. 

Sunday, April 29, 2018

A hat for Liam

A month ago, my sister sent an adorable picture of my nephew in a knitted hat with two large pompoms on it. (There's one in the back)

Totally adorable. My sister suggested that if I wanted to knit him something I should knit another one just like it.


Because then his shadow looks just like Mickey's.

Well who am I to argue with that? 

What colors? - I texted. 

Red and Purple came the response. 

Wish Granted: 

I'm rather proud of those pompoms.

However, when I tried it on? It didn't look exactly like Mickey's Shadow.

More like Sid from Ice Age's shadow.

I'm going to send it along anyway. If the "ears" need to be adjusted I'm also sending extra thread so that they can be tacked further up along the crown of the head. 

I mean, how picky can a 3-year-old be? 

;) haha - stay tuned. 

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Welcome to the world baby girl!

My niece was born yesterday!
Jesmyn Aoife
7.6lbs 20"

Sunday, April 15, 2018

No bees - but bottled Metheglin!

 So sad. No bees after all this weekend. No one's fault except Mother Nature or - Global Climate Change - take your pick of philosophies.

My Bee Guy drives down to Georgia to get our bee packages. It's a long and complicated story but anyway... then he drives them back up to Pennsylvania. Normally this is no problem, but this particular weekend (as opposed to last weekend when we were "supposed" to have a blizzard), this weekend it was about a bazillion degrees on the east coast. By the time they reached home, most of the bees where dead due to the heat. :( It was really sad. There was a notice on the website about trouble. I went up anyway. Unfortunately, while there were worker bees, the queens had been compromised. I have assurances that as soon as there are new queens I can come back up and pick up the ordered packages. I feel so bad for my Bee Guy. He was stuck between a rock and a hard place. He was already a week late delivering bees, the weather forecast wasn't accurate (let's face it - it was super warm here on Saturday), and he clearly wanted to get us our bees!

I am prepared at any rate. I spent a good deal of time on Friday cleaning out the hive boxes. Both had not made it and I'm pretty sure I know why. When I cleaned out the dead bees, I found varroa mites all over them - including still live mites! Uch, I was so upset. Especially since I treated the bees at the end of the season with the correct acid. Clearly, it didn't work. However, I am ready for this year's bees. This also gives me a bit more time to prepare the frames that go into the boxes.

In other news:
I continued to edition Luminary:
Three more, half done. 

I also finished a pair of socks for a good friend. SY moved to Buffalo with her family a little over a year ago and she is freezing. There is nothing better for freezing than very warm socks. 
I am really happy with these and I hope she likes them. 

And I bottled the Metheglin!

A few days ago it stopped furiously fizzing. I knew it was time to bottle it, but still had to plan that somehow.
On Saturday I stopped at the Philly Homebrew Outlet because they also have beekeeping supplies. I spied some things I might need to bottle the metheglin, and this morning I thought, what the heck, I'll go get some things. 
Of course, the bottles I'm going to use will be the cobalt. 
 I also invested in a siphon. This is a nifty piece of equipment that makes transferring liquid a piece of cake. Basically you create a vacuum and let gravity work it's magic. As long as the bottle that is receiving the liquid is lower that the original, the liquid will continue to flow.
This was a relatively easy process except I should have put the bottles into a bowl! That way, when I wasn't quick enough to pinch the tube to shut off the flow, the extra liquid would overflow into that and not onto the floor. It was all good though - it inspired a fit of long overdue cleaning to mop up the floor. 
I also added the rest of the ingredients: raisins, cinnamon, and lemon. I used Persian raisins (12 per bottle), real cinnamon, the flaky kind, and the rind of a lemon. Not much of that though, kind of a 1cm wide sliver, the pith removed. 
 As I mentioned before, I plan on letting these sit for a while. The first opportunity to sample will be when former tenants come back to town for graduation. One will earn his PhD. I think that will be the perfect time to uncork one of these and see how it turned out.