Monday, June 29, 2009

Bathroom Diaries: Still searching for civility

I tried, I really did.
I managed to get the shade up. This is a major step in the right direction. Now I don't have to dodge the boys from two houses over every time I'm in the bathroom. (Their window looks right down into my bathroom.) Getting the blind cut at Home Depot was an interesting adventure though. The poor sweety who "helped" me was so helpless. He told me he'd like to help me cut it, but he'd spent 15 minutes the last time looking for the ON switch. So we got all set up, and once again - he couldn't figure out how to turn the machine on. So while he went to get help, I read the directions which were pinned up right next to the machine. When he got back, I showed him where the on switch was. Got my curtain cut - all set.
Now it's time to install some hardware fer cryin' out loud. So I hung a towel hook and in the process realized I'd thrown the hardware for another one out with the trash. I'll have to call Moen tomorrow and cry them a river and see if they'll send me some more hardware. Then I decided to try to install the toilet paper roll-hanger-thinger, and while I kept the hardware this time, I threw out the directions. So as I'm making things up as I go along - the electric drill...runs out of juice. And of course the other battery is also not charged. So I think the powers that be are telling me I can go to bet early and read a bit more in ... The Valley of Horses. The lovely Free Library had a copy in the library three blocks from my house. I love the library.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Cookin' and Readin'

It was my turn this weekend again for the Farm Share. I love this thing! Look at all I got - fresh, local, organic. Fantastic! Those are peas on the lower left. I got two squashes, potatoes, garlic cheddar, 6 eggs, the best pork sausage I've ever had, head of romaine and granola! Now, I know it's not going to feed me for a week, but it will be great. I have no idea what to do with the peas. I'll have to shell 'em first - never done that.

While I was picking up my farm share, I bought some tomatoes to make a tomato tart - inspired by Elizabeth Brown Chew.I found this recipe in her cookbook when I was rebinding it - and have been wanting to alter it ever since. So here's what I did:
1 set frozen pie crusts
4 large tomatoes
olive oil
one very large onion (or two medium)
5 cloves garlic
1 tsp cumin
1tsp coriander
1/2 tsp salt

Slice the onion (I sliced rings) and saute in olive oil for about 15 min. Meanwhile, crush garlic into a bowl, add the salt, cumin, coriander and pepper and mix. Slice the tomatoes thinly.
When the onions have been cooked, add a bit more olive oil, and the garlic/spice paste. Saute briefly and turn the heat off. Put a layer of sliced tomato in the bottom of one of the pie crusts. Put another layer of the onion/garlic mixture on top. Put another layer of tomato, then another layer of the onion mixture, and then a third layer of tomato. Put the other pie crust on top - add vent holes, and bake as you would normally bake a pie (10 minutes at 410°, then an hour at 350°, cover the pie with aluminum foil so that it doesn't burn). I would leave the kitchen, if you don't want to be overwhelmed by the most amazing smells. For next time - I would make my own crust and add herbs to it, such as basil and rosemary. I think that would make this thing even more amazing.

I didn't get much done this weekend in the house. I did some gardening, I unpacked more boxes, but mostly I cooked and read. I got suckered into The Clan of the Cave Bear again. Ugh. I just can't put it down, and I'm so close to the end, I think I'll have to pick up the second book from the library tomorrow. - You know, I should be reading literature. Instead I'm reading about how many hair follicles a woolly rhino from the Pleistocene era had and why for three pages straight.
Oh, but she writes good drama that Jean Auel.

Friday, June 26, 2009

A loss to American Culture

Regardless of what anyone says, we lost one of our avante garde trend setters. Well, maybe not in the last decade - but Michael Jackson's influence on my favorite decade, the '80's, is undeniable. Not only was he a fashion icon of the time but he was undeniably one of our most talented. I am sad he is gone so young. I hope his spirit is at peace.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Highlights of the last two weeks

I made even more strawberry jam.And it's a good thing too - it's pretty much all assigned away. I gave some to my neighbors the El's and Sippio's. I hope they like it. I gave some to Ron (our budding chef at HSP). He took it home last year and sat down at the table with his two boys to taste it, and they cleaned out the jar. This year, apparently it was rationed and eaten with vanilla ice cream.

Yes - I am moving in. Unbelievable how much stuff I have. Mostly how many books I have. The shelves have their first coat of polyurethane on them and will get the second coat tomorrow. The weather is playing hell with us too. It's raining so much nothing wants to dry. It rained all last week. I'm not kidding. It was supposed to rain and thunderstorm all week this week, but so far we've avoided it. Tomorrow we are supposed to pay for it though. Thunderstorm warnings are severe. That basically means floods. Ugh. Hopefully not in the basement of HSP like last time.

But back to moving in...
Thankfully Katie and Mary came by two weekends ago and help move stuff. Thank goodness for them. First they helped get the bedroom situated. And it really took three brains to get this together. First we tackled the rug:

Then we tackled the wardrobe: Both of these are from my grandmother. And, (she said sheepishly), I didn't finish the wall behind the wardrobe. This is the wall that Jeff the Contractor put up. It's still purple drywall with a bit of spackle and primer on it. I just couldn't get to it. Someday I will pull the wardrobe out and repaint the wall - but now it is just too darn late. No one can see it - and only you know about it. I will have to address the ceiling sooner - but that's not so bad.
It's really nice having the rug in the bedroom now. I wasn't sure it if would fit or go with anything, but it's actually quite nice.
Katie and Mary - god bless'em - also helped with a ton of other stuff including the three cases of type that I have. Katie called a manly friend of hers who was all about schlepping heavy drawers of type down to my basement, while Mary and I took the cabinets apart so that we could get them down there. I had every intention of putting them back together again asap - but that hasn't happened yet. Maybe this weekend??? yeah - don't hold your breath!

I've also been dealing with the books.
Lots and lots and lots of books. The shelves are barely going to help. The inset bookshelves I want to put in the living room are going to have to happen sooner rather than later. Maybe if I let Leah at it with a sledge hammer the wall will be down lickety-split....
In the mean time - Jacques is fascinated by how much stuff is coming out of the boxes. I've been having a great time going through some of my favorite children's books. Mary and Susan V. came over on Tuesday for fresh strawberry daiquiris and children's books. It was a wonderful evening. Good books, good conversation...what more do you need?

And the garden - oh the garden! It's just exploding and needs a daily dose of management. I come home from work, put on grubbies, give the dogs a treat, chat with Miss Mary (Mrs. El) and then get to work weeding, yanking, watering, and looking at my garden.
I finally got something manageable for my hose:
I put in the bricks and propped the thingy on top of them. It works really well! I don't have to fight with that hose anymore. Fantastic.
I've also been growing seedlings:
Here we have sunflowers, oriental poppies, and johnny jump-ups. I planted all of them the other day and I really hope they flourish! I still have dill and parsley to plant somewhere. Then I've got to get some of my flower seedlings started. It's amazing how well things work when you start seedlings in these egg crates. I think I yanked up a bunch of things that were not actually weeds - now I know what the real thing looks like - and I won't yank 'em up.

The nasturtiums are doin' dandy. I've got a couple of different types of flowers working here - but I really love the nasturtiums. I know they are a weed, but they are so pretty and self sufficient. I'm waiting until I have a lot of them, then I can pick some and put them in a salad or something.

This past weekend, I attacked the jungle:
There is this part of my yard, behind the pine tree, next to Mr. El's yard that is useless. It's just overgrown with poke weed, other weeds, something with thorns, something that shoots runners everywhere, and something that looks like it was a bush that was planted there but that never gets flowers. I can't be bothered with a plant that doesn't flower. It's got to do something other than create oxygen.
I ripped up a bunch of weeds, dug up some, cut some off. Cut the big ugly one out (which created a lot of light), raked everything and basically cleared some space.
There area ton of bugs and earthworms, but I'm not sure where to put my tomatoes. So I planted one plant here. It will get morning sun and late afternoon sun. I also planted some sun flowers. There is a sad little rose growing here as well. I've just left it alone.
And lastly I planted the other two tomatoes by the wall/fence on the left hand side. They get a lot of sun during the day there. I also planted the red flowering plant Beth (one of my students) gave me at the end of the semester. It is already growing up the fence. I think I'll need to take a couple of whacks at whatever is growing over the top of the fence. It's attracting a lot of bees but it's not doing anything pretty, nor does it bear any fruit.

And finally . . . my raspberries:
Yes, I've had my first few raspberries (about 10) from my bushes. I'm really looking forward to the first proper crop. And I'm really looking forward to my first batch of jam.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day!

When I was little I thought all men were left handed. Logical - considering the facts: my mother, sister, and I are all right handed. My Dad is left handed. Therefore all men should be left handed and women are right handed.

When I was little I thought than men didn't drink coffee because my dad didn't drink coffee. I even thought my friend's dad was a sissy because he did drink coffee. (Grandfathers apparently don't figure into the equation.)

Happy Father's Day Daddy! Thanks for giving me a different perspective of the world.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Moving, Raccoon, & Strawberies

Moving on Thursday was something! I'd been up at 2:30 am, couldn't sleep - got up did some moving prep stuff. Tried to blog at about 4:30 - eyelids drooping went to bed, couldn't fall asleep - did finally, overslept - woke up at 8 had to be at Pier 40 (40 blocks away) by 9. So I didn't shower - ew. I had to ride my bike in order to save a parking place for the truck. Even more ew. It was a fabulously Philadelphia humid disgusting day and I could smell myself by the time I got to the storage unit.
Three adorable Mambo Movers boys showed up - were appalled at the state of the storage unit and started moving things. Long story short - they are wonderful and managed to get all of my crap into my house except the corner bench and a table. Mary and Katie will help me move the last of things tomorrow. This will include the type cases, and furniture in my apartment. Maybe some other things. . . we'll see how much time and interest they have. I did promise Mary strawberry ice cream though . . . .
This is what my living space looks like... again:
(kitchen/living room)
(studio in one direction)
(studio in the other direction)

Jacques is thrilled with the move. Not only are there a ton of boxes for him to climb on and be raised three feet into the air, but as I unpack, there are boxes which get filled with packing paper. These make for the best kitty nests:
Because there just wasn't enough going on with the move, the Raccoon removal guy showed up on Thursday afternoon as well. He ended up parking in Mr. El's x'ed out parking space because there was nothing else available. He lucked out because Mr. El fell last week, tore is ACL and needed major surgery and is not on crutches. Poor guy. He can barely sit still as it is . . . Anyway, the Raccoon guy told me he could only get the Raccoon and her babies out through a wall. Hmmm :( This is not desirable. So he decided to experiment. He drenched some rags with Raccoon repellent scent. and threw them into the hole.
This didn't work: There she is: Sticking her head out of the hole, waiting for me to get back in the window so she can leave. She didn't take any of her babies with her. Grrrrr. So I have to call the Raccoon Guy again on Monday. Now there is an upside to this - the Raccoon guy as a dog. An English Bull dog. Her name is Bella. She is anything but. She is so ugly - she's adorable. I had to meet her and she was thrilled to meet someone who was in love at first sight. I told the Raccoon Guy he could bring Bella with him next time and bring her in the house. Jacques will not be pleased.

It was my first day to pick up my farm share too! Yippee! Mike and I decided to go every other week. So this week I got 6 eggs, granola, Swiss cheese, four beef patties, green onions and strawberries. I have to admit I was a little disappointed. . . The advert says that the share will feed two people for a week. Well - I ain't gonna feed one person on that for a week. Although I could have hamburgers for a week and be very happy. Mary came over this evening to help move/shop and when I ran this past her she said not to worry. That come August I'd have so much in my farm share I wouldn't know what to do with myself. I made a hamburger for myself and sampled the cheese. Wow - there is really something to be said for fresh, and organic. No preservatives. It tastes better! Imagine that.

I also picked up a bunch of strawberries from my regular Amish guy. I made the first batch of strawberry jam. Mary gave it her seal of approval. That's good. As soon as I have more jars, I'll make the second batch. I will have to save a quart to make strawberry ice cream tomorrow. . .
And finally: Mary helped me shop at Home Depot for the book shelves which must go into the "living room." I have at least a dozen boxes (not kidding) of books sitting up here. They've got to get unpacked and up on shelves. So we shopped, it was great having her brain along and we flirted with Home Depot guys and got lots of help.

I followed my dad's advice. The librarian says to use stair tread for the shelves. This way there is a bull nose already sanded into one side. The shelves are pre-sanded and ready for stain. That smart librarian! I do have to do a rinky-dink operation to get the shelves up. I'm actually going to suspend the shelves from the brackets rather than support the shelves with the brackets. We are really going to test Jeff's handy-work. If the shelves hold and don't pull the whole wall over - Jeff is a genius. If the wall falls down, well. . . let's hope that doesn't happen.
Following Ann's advice - I stained the shelves and brackets tonight. Tomorrow morning I will polyurethane them and maybe - I'll hang them tomorrow evening.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Hybrid Book Weekend

Well My Dears, the madness of Hybrid Book is over, and it was well worth it. The conference was fantastic, the panels were interesting and diverse. It seemed to give a much needed infusion of energy into Book Arts specifically. I also had great success at the fair - I sold a few things, hope to sell a few more to librarians who came through, but we'll see. I feel like I made out like a bandit anyway by trading for books I wanted! Here's some of my new loot:

Marshall Weber from Booklyn stayed at my house and brought some books for my "education" collection: He is part of Booklyn, a book arts cooperative. My impression is that they do a lot of offset printed multi edition books. Some of which are very cool.

Every participant in the conference was given a festschrift for Hedi Kyle:Hedi is a very prominent Book Artist primarily concerned with structure. Her close friends and colleagues each wrote directions for a book and dedicated it to Hedi. Rutherford Wittus compiled the book. It's very cool, but I havn't had time to really look at it in depth. Can't wait for that.

As Alumni we also received some extra goodies:This is a zine that Katie and Mary made. It's very cool and heartfelt. I'm really glad I got a copy.
And Gunnar Kaldewey (invited guest) and Chip Schilling (UArts BookArts, MFA alumnus) each donated a copy of a book for us as well:
Then I bought some things. Bea Nettles has a fantastic book of instructions:And I bought this very special book from Vamp and Tramp as Bill was trying to pack everything up. This beautiful little book is about the miracle of a butterfly hatching, observing a little girl experiencing the birth of a butterfly and the authors thoughts about her reactions. The outside of this one page book is painted to resemble a monarch butter fly and the story is printed on the inside. Jacques liked this one too. It has strings on it, you see, to represent the antennae. But anything with a string on it is fair game in a kitty brain.

And then I traded for three fabulous books!
This beautiful on is by Sun Young Kang - who was the recipient of three (!) purchase awards from the fair! Yeah! (And she's a UArts alumna)

Nicole Eiland's book done with cyano types:

And Lisa Hasegawa's very poignant book about thinking one put one's foot in one's mouth, and how to resolve it.

And after the weekend was over I returned to work to find a package from Ann and my dad with a brand new replacement fork and an egg spoon in my cutlery pattern. :) How fun is that!?
I need to quit now, I meant to do this post at 4:30 this morning while I was wired. But the funny this is that even though I was wide awake at 2:20 and ran around getting ready for the movers (today), when i sat down to do the post my eyelids started to droop, as they are doing right now. The move went mostly well - we love Mambo Movers! And I will post all about it tomorrow.
Good Night.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


I just glanced over my blog and realized I need to do some follow ups from earlier posts. The over all picture is that things have been a bit nuts around here lately. So what else is new?

The bird? Stella the Starling? I let her go. And so far I have not found any starling feathers in the yard. I hope she made it. However, Jacques brought me a sparrow on Sunday evening.

The raccoons? (yes. plural.) They have been acting like they are training for Cirque du Soleil up there today and it can't just be one of them. So I searched online about how to get rid of them and they said, "if there are raccoons in the attic - DON'T TRAP THEM! It could be the mother that gets trapped and then you have babies in the attic and all kinds of madness happens then. Call a professional!" Okay - so that is on the list for tomorrow. Although I think I heard someone say on a Car Talk once that they just played the radio in the attic and the raccoons left. Worth a try.

The UPenn book? Finished! Handed it over yesterday. Glad that is off my shoulders. That's only taken four years to complete (not my fault). It better not take that long to get paid.

PECO. Blasted Peco. Well - this is a saga.
On Wednesday I decided to call and find out what in the heck was going on and see if I could straighten things out. The first person I talked to was UNhelpful. I tried to explain the problem, she just read back the problem she had on her screen - refused to listen to me. She got frustrated after I told her the same story three times (because she told me the same baloney three times) and passed me on to Customer service. Finally progress. The lady I talked to listened! We got some things cleared up and Peco was supposed to come on Thursday evening to work on the whole she-bang.
Even though I was here all Thursday evening - I forgot about it. And I wouldn't have missed them if they would have showed up.

Friday morning, 9am, this was happening on the sidewalk in front of my house. A backhoe was pounding into the cement. No one bothered to knock on my door or ring the bell to see if I was home. . . they just waited until Katie B. showed up and told her they needed to talk to me. Now - understand - I'm in a panic because I'm supposed to leave for Seattle at 1pm. Do I have hotel reservations? no. Do I have car rental? no. Am I packed? not really. Am I still in my PJs? yes. So I've got to get the hotel and car done before they shut the electricity off - which could happen any minute seeing as how they were in such a communicative mood. Thank goodness Katie was patient and let me take care of that. When I walked her out I talked to the guys and because none of them would come near me, (???) I had to shout to the whole neighborhood that I was leaving for the weekend in a few hours and they had to be done by noon.
Now - they were done by noon but not before they dug up my brickwork. And then of course, something went wrong when they went into the basement and they had to come back. They came back today and fixed the issue. Fine. Good. Kudos to them. I guess the biggest question is: Are we done now? Do they still have to send someone out to check my meters? And when in the heck are they going to put the bricks back??? Because I was promised they would.

Yes - I had to catch a plane at 3pm - so leave for airport at 1pm, wanted peco guys gone so I could shower in peace. I went to Seattle for Rachael's bridal shower. The inbound airplane flew right past Mt. Rainier at sunset. The mountain was higher than the plane and covered in snow. Since the sun was setting all of the snow was magenta.
The shower was beautiful - lots of fun. We started drinking coconut Margarita's at 1 - and didn't stop. It was a lot of coconut margaritas. It was great to see Rachael and all of her family, Ben and meeting his family. I'm really looking forward to the wedding.

The Phone? Is still great! I took lots of great pictures in Seattle. Too bad I haven't had time to sit down and figure out how to get the pictures off of the phone yet. But I will...

The bathroom? Has been ignored.

Moving back down stairs? Is sort of happening piece meal.

And finally Hybrid Book Conference and Fair??? THIS WEEKEND!!! AH! Everyone I've talked with is frantically trying to finish things up. This includes yours truly:I got Perennial in my fancy finishing press. Lookit that: 2x4s, long screws and pushpins - presto! A functional thingy for under $10. I still want to finish it, tomorrow, plus get a few other things done. If only there were more time - or - if only I weren't "Last Minute Lucy."