Sunday, September 27, 2009

A rainy Sunday

It was one of those days...a rainy day.
It just was a light rain but it rained all day long. So what do you do on a day like this? You pick up the cat, and sit where he was sitting, and let him lie, draped across your lap as you knit. I wish that was all I had to do today...

I had to pay the bills, arrange things for the week, appointments, prep for teaching, a little shopping, etc. And I also had to check up on what I did yesterday.

Yesterday I hung my de-humidifier and attached it to the drain. Ahem - yes, rather proud of myself. It doesn't seem like I screwed it up - but only time will tell.
Lee stopped by on Tuesday to check on things, and to look at the situation with the dehumidifier. He talked me through on what he would do to get it to run constantly. I was having to empty the bucket every morning and every evening (which I wasn't doing, of course). So he showed me where he would hang the machine, and where I should put the hose into the drain.
It wasn't that hard. I just got some of that wire stuff from Home Depot with the holes in it. Measured it off. My drain is stainless steel and will hold up to anything, so Lee thought I could probably use that as a prop. I had left over piece of shelf, so I screwed the wiring into the wood and then hung the thing from the joists:
And it holds! Yippee!
While I was working, I had the basement door open to the yard for some fresh air. Jacques had to check on me every once in a while. It's always fun when there is something new to check out, right?
At any rate, I checked on the dehumidifier all day today. There are no funny leaks or drips in any weird places so I'm going to assume everything is working fine. My basement smells a lot better than a month ago that's for sure. Let's hope this does the trick. Unfortunately, Jennifer said that her electricity bill skyrocketed. Sigh. Well, I think I'll run it on high for a few weeks until things really dry out. Then maybe I can set it down lower, or higher - depending on how you look at it.
In between checking on the contraption downstairs, I paid a ton of bills, looked at my finances in general (I'm never going to be rich!), and blocked the red/purple sweater.
Because let's face it - what does a girl-dork do on a rainy day besides knit with the cat? She watches all of the girl-dork best movies ever, The Princes Bride, Willow, and The Labyrinth. And it took all three of those movies to sew the sweater together, knit the collar, and sew up all the loose ends. What do you think? It's a short sleeved sweater, and you can wear the collar up, or down depending. I love it. Especially since I didn't have to buy any yarn for it. I used stuff form my stash! It was a sweater I started two years ago, and decided I didn't like. I was looking on for something cool and found this pattern. Size 11 needles? check. enough yarn? check. style? check. I think I will probably knit this pattern again. It's soOo easy, and quick. I think it took two weeks to make this thing! (that's including the rest of my crazy life). Unfortunately the buttons I chose are a bit too small, I will probably have to get different ones. Oh well.

The rain ended about four in the afternoon. I walked to the drug store and wanted to sit in the yard and read. But that didn't work because there was one little cloud after another that came by and sprinkled my book. I gave up and watched the sunset from my living room window.
I love watching the sun set on clouds.

Friday, September 25, 2009


I loath cleaning.
There are a million other things I could be doing with my time. But since I own my own house, and it's all on me, my responsibility, I feel that I should clean. Because let's face it it's maintenance, right? I just really dislike it. But today was a good day for it.
It was a beautiful day. Sunny and perfect temperature. It started with wanting to "pick up" my bedroom. It was a disaster, which developed into a full fledged cleaning operation; mops, vacuums, and bucket of water for wiping dirt down. I took out the air conditioners and have beautiful windows again. All of my floors are sparkling clean, all carpets are freshly vacuumed, dirt cleaned up, dust in the dustbin, stray leaves swept, etc. It's all good. It's supposed to be grey all weekend, so hopefully a beautifully clean house will help my mood.

Monday, September 21, 2009

One of the privileges of teaching...

One of the privileges of teaching is that you get to meet very special people. People who set an example for how you should live your life. This week I picked up fabric from Rachel L. Rachel, a textile major, took my class last spring. She's a fantastic student and it came as no surprise that she won one of the fellowships that Moore offers their students. She traveled to Ghana to help set up a textile studio and teach women in a tiny village how to print fabric. Despite catching typhoid and coming home with four different parasites (two of which she is still battling), she had a fantastic experience. She showed me pictures of all of the amazing people she met and worked with. She lived in a tiny grass hut next to the beach. I gave her money for fabric and what she brought back is beautiful! I love it. These are some of the pieces she and her students made. I love them all! It seems it was a life changing experience for her. Her major culture shock is dealing with the over abundance of our consumer culture. She told me that she changed her cell phone plan to a simpler plan, saving enough money to support ten of the girls she met in Ghana so that they can continue in school.
You can read more about her experience on her blog It's sparse because, let's face it - it's hard to get Internet in a village that doesn't have electricity.
Hopefully now that she's back she'll post a "summing up" blog. Her photographs are spectacular.
Like I said, a privilege.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Ceiling fans, knitting, yard work, more knitting etc.

Thanks to all of you who have been so sympathetic about my moldy basement. Yes. It's a hassle. I've had many conversation and lots of good advice and information. Thanks so much. The bad new is: Jennifer says she has a dehumidifier in her basement that runs all the time and it sucks the electricity. The good new is: Lee says he can hook my dehumidifier up directly with the drain so I don't have to empty it every 8 hours.
Ah yes Lee -
Lee came during the week to check on the wiring for the third floor and to install two ceiling fans. Now, I could have done these myself but it was easier just to pay him. Besides, he said he could do it where the fan box is mounted to a joist rather than putting in a hanger (which is a pain in the neck!). So fine.
There are two unfortunately's:
1. Lee called to say, the fan for the bedroom is missing a bracket. I keep forgetting to take the box, and etc. back to Home Depot to say, I need this bracket! It's the thing that holds the blade to the motor. Kinda vital.
2. I put the wrong fan in the bedroom (sigh). Lee called me to tell me about the problem, and then asked if I wanted the wood side or the black side showing. I said, "oh I thought I had gotten white for the bedroom. He said, "No - this one is wood or black, which do you want." I didn't think much more about it, especially since it had been almost two months since I'd bought the fans and I figured I was having a massive brain cramp. "Wood," I said.
I came home to find this in the bedroom: And this in the living room:
Fer cryin' out loud! If I didn't put the wrong fan in the wrong room - darn it all!!! And of course they are already installed. GRRR. How irritating! But when I called Lee - he laughed and said, "Well, after your tenants destroy everything, you can fix it." Oh well. I can't worry about this.
We also talked about him coming and dealing with the new dehumidifier and hooking it up to my sewer line. That way I don't have to empty the bucket all the time. It is working though, which is great!
Jennifer also loaned me her (oh I can't remember the exact vocabulary) I think it's called a swiff and winder. This amazing contraption allows the avid (read crazed) knitter to wind balls of yarn, without the proverbial, two-arms-of-someone-else:
You take the skein, plop it onto the swiff and then use the winder to wind beautiful little balls of whatever you are using. (Daddy - hint hint - perfect Christmas/birthday gift!)
Like this: (before and after all in one shot).
I had a few skeins from Australia that needed winding, a few from ancient times and so it was great to spend an afternoon just winding stuff. Very satisfying. Thanks for the loan Jennifer!

My farms share was very rewarding this weekend. I got the biggest head of broccoli I've ever seen, can't wait for that, two squash, three bell peppers, cheese, eggs, ground beef, and ? Can't remember. But the squash - well...
I don't think I've ever had squash like this before. It's beautiful and really yummy! I roasted the other one for almost an hour. Had it for dinner with a little bit of pork loin, quinoa, and the squash with sauce. Yum Yum. The squash was really sweet! I mixed it with the quinoa, and drowned it with the "gravy." I had cooked the pork loin in onions, tarragon, lime and water. Talk about yummy. This morning I roasted the squash seeds. I really hope they are not poisoness, because I've pretty much eaten all of them.
And I was very unproductive this weekend. I still don't feel like I've caught my breath from returning, and hoping to get back into life. Maybe finally this weekend.
I spent some time knitting:
Don't be impressed, those are size 11 needles. I had to re knit the right side twice - I did that yesterday. Then I finished and I discovered that I dropped a stitch on the back, and I didn't really pay attention to the whole, right -side, wrong-side issues when knitting the front. I'm not doing it again.
I did get a chance to watch the rest of Season Two of my new favorite show EVER!
I hope you are all watching "The Big Bang Theory". Oh it's so wonderful! Four physics geeks are friends, and such dorks, and one of them is in love with the "normal" girl next door. Oh, these are people after my own heart. I think one of them has been nominated for an Emmy. I hope he gets it, he's wonderful. If you haven't seen this show, it's on CBS after "How I met your mother", but of course - since I'm a dork and don't have TV - it's available on Netflix.
And I did do one productive thing this weekend - I tackled the poke weed forest in my back yard.

Sorry - I stole this pictures from someone else, that's why it's so little. If you google Poke Weed, there are some interesting entries. Including this one from Wikipedia:

"Pokeweed berries yield a red ink or dye, which was once used by aboriginal Americans to decorate their horses. The United States Declaration of Independence was written in fermented pokeberry juice (hence the common name 'inkberry'). Many letters written home during the American Civil War were written in pokeberry ink; the writing in these surviving letters appears brown. The red juice has also been used to symbolize blood, as in the anti-slavery protest of Benjamin Lay. A rich brown dye can be made by soaking fabrics in fermenting berries in a hollowed-out pumpkin."

So, does the dye have to be made in hollowed out pumpkin? or will and old non-food pot work just as well.
And now I'm wishing more and more that I had harvested the berries. The problem is, that the birds really like the berries and then I find purple poops everywhere in the garden.

I had actually planned to only fill up one bag of garden stuff. But by the time I was done, it was, four bags, and four bundles. Oh well. The guys that pick up my garbage must think something crazy about me.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Moldy Basement, Sunflowers, Runaway Bus, Artwork, and stuff, oh My!

Well, where to begin?
It's been a strange week in my little house. Rainy and gray. Completely unheard of for September. The annual UArts BookArts party came around and for the first time I can every remember it was not sweltering. Today we finally had a beautiful day of sun. Jacques and I both took advantage of that. But before that there was a lot of other stuff to deal with.
Firstly, my moldy basement. Yes - while I was gone - I don't know what happened, but everything is covered with mildew - ew. I trotted off to my favorite store, Home Depot and purchased the necessaries: dehumidifier, trash bags, neoprene gloves, bleach, and spray bottle. The smell in the basement is overpowering and I don't want it to spread to the rest of the place.
This is the main culprit - what in the heck is that anyway?
This is a pile of wood that is original to the house but that sadly is now in the trash. It grew this interesting ecosystem that I am not interested in cultivating any further. I sprayed it with bleach, scooped up the wood and the mold and set up the dehumidifier in that space. The dehumidifier filled up in one night. I talked with Lee the electrician this afternoon for something else, and he says there is a way to have it drain directly into the drain in the basement. THAT would be simply fabulous. He also thinks my moisture problem is due to bad gutters. After some thought, I think so too. This is really too bad because I've just gotten the hang of placing some buckets under the eve where the water really gushes off. But I think it's time to break down, get a rain barrel and get the gutters hooked up correctly. Ah, the joys of living on the east coast!

I did have time for some artwork:
Not sure what I think yet.

And besides the awful weather it was a little bit of emotional stress this week. On Wednesday night just after midnight, I woke up to sirens, screaming and Jacques very upset. I got out of bed to see what was going on, it was Wednesday night after all. I looked out the front window to see a bus on the side walk almost directly across the street from my house. I still don't know what happened, but the feeling was one of an altered universe. It appeared that the bus had driven straight down the sidewalk. I couldn't see up the street to the left because of the way the neighbor has "altered" the house but I could see flashing lights. Then I heard someone coming from the bus shouting, "He had a heart attack!" But I don't think so, they eventually walked the driver out of the bus and got onto a stretcher by himself. Something happened though, maybe he had a seizure? The bus had hit two other cars it seemed and I couldn't tell anything more than that. By morning, only the damaged shrubbery was left from what happened. But I have to keep thinking, what if he had swerved the other way? He would have hit my neighbors house and I don't know what kind of damage that would have caused since we are essentially one building, or he could have ended up in my yard, or ? something worse. At any rate it was a freaky thing to see and a freaky feeling which left me wondering...

Then of course there was the greyness to contend with. And before the greyness went away we had some of the weirdest weather. Friday was really bad. I pretty much stayed in bed and watched a marathon of my new favorite TVshow, The Big Bang Theory, from Netflix. If you haven't seen it - these are my people and I love them.

It rained almost all day on Friday and in the morning it was so windy, it blew all of my sunflowers over. Most of them recovered once I propped them back up (under the watchful eye of The Inspector), but a few of them didn't really make it.

And look what else I spied in the garden...
Some friskiness!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

I painted the kitchen door

Now it's turquoise. It matches the inside of the pantry. This is in honor of Anne-Maree. I'm not sure I like it yet. Jeff took the door down when he was redoing the bathroom and I've been meaning to put it back up. I think I will like it once I get used to it - but it's a bit much. Well, if it doesn't grow on me I can always paint it back to white - OR another color . . . I don't have anything magenta yet....
It was a beautiful day here - sunny in the morning and then cool and cloudy this afternoon. I think every mosquito in Philadelphia is residing in my back yard. I'm being attacked by them. It's kindof awful. Tomorrow I'm going to do the yard - stay tuned for my beautiful sunflowers.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

The Container Store

Before I get to the Container Store - I just wanted to post about the handful of tomatoes I picked this morning. I braved the mosquitoes (or as they say in Australia - the Mozzys) and picked a handful. I think I'll be getting a handful everyday. I'm saving yard work until Monday - so I'll be taking a much better look then - slathered in Buzz-off of course.
Had a fantastic afternoon with Mary and Katie. We went to the Container Store and I told them it would change my life. And I still think this.
First I got a contraption to organize my spices. They weren't too bad, but I couldn't see what I had or where it was:
I bought this marvelous contraption:
Which elevated all of my spices:
The only problem now is that I still can't see what I have! I think I will bring a sharpie up stairs and start labeling the caps. Then I can tell what is what.
I also bought things that will help me economize on space:
Whoohoo - lookit! Twice as much space, and nothing is going to fall off of something else when I pull it out of the cabinet.
And the place which really needed help was my pots and pans cabinet. Look at this disaster!
I sort of gave up pretty quickly on getting this to function well. But now:
Look at that! Whew - all of the over flow utensils are taken care of, sieves are stowed well in pull out drawers, and there is still plenty of room for pots and pans and ... ah, dare I say it - ceramic bowls!
Thanks to Ann for introducing me to this amazing store. My only reservation is that they must have a corner on the plexiglas market. I would say that over 75% of their stuff is plexiglas or lucite (same thing). Easy people - we've only got one planet. Let's use sustainable and biodegradable stuff, shall we? (All the stuff I bought today is wire and glass.)

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Home again

It's good to be home.
I had an amazing experience - unforgettable moments - but it's still good to be back in my own four walls, my own HSP drama, my own Moore drama, and a cat who loves me.
HSP is business as usual, the building is still standing, I still have a job, and the basement only flooded once while I was gone. The good news about being gone for a month and having someone else look at the temperatures and humidities around the building is that some other people jump into action. There are now two de-humidifiers in two rooms which I've been sending emails out about for months. Cool. (ha-no pun intended!)
Moore - well, that's another story. I found out two hours before I was supposed to teach that there is a new online system. And I decided, I think wisely, instead of trying to figure out how to print out my class lists on my own, to call the IT guy and cry him a river. It worked, I got my courses "made available" and got the lists printed out. Only one person missed class - hope she dropped - because I don't want to have to do double duty next week and of course I had one walk in 1/2hour late with a bajillion excuses I wasn't interested in. I'm such a mean teacher!
And yes, Jacques still loves me. But not until after dinner with wet food and a new toy. I bought him a catnip toy with bright green feathers on it. This morning after my shower I found him and toy in the middle of my bed. He was sending me those looks that said he knew exactly that I was leaving him again and how could I do such a thing! - and look, he even brought the new toy to play with! Ugh - how do they know how to do that?
Now he's curled up on the couch and I'm sipping a lime and bitters (with a "cheers!" for Anne-Maree who introduced them to me), and I decided I should blog.
First, a last few glimpses of Australia:
This is the first view of the ocean on the tour of mysteries with Julie and Christine. Sorry for the very wonky image - I still can't get the hang of doing a complete 180° image. You'll have to use your imagination. Look at the color of the water!

And the last view of the Opera House and the Harbor Bridge.
Anne-Maree and family have plans to climb to the top of the bridge. If you double click on the image it blows up and you might see some of the people who did climb to the top of it this evening. It must be an incredible view.

It was sad to leave Australia - but I know this won't be my only trip. I already have an installation in mind that I want to do in Anne-Maree's lagoon, even though it may have to wait a few years. It involves the paper shells I made a few years ago, that have l-e-d lights in them - if I made them out of tyvek they would float . . . . for a while. . . stay tuned. . . .
Thank goodness I had an empty seat next to me again on the flight home. It was much harder flying into the day, than flying into the night. I arrived in LA at 6:30 in the morning, wired! I spent the day with my dad and Ann getting used to a very dry heat in Pasadena and trying not to breath in too much smoke. Ann and I did some very energetic shoe shopping to go with the fabulous dress for the wedding. We weren't successful until we decided to go to David's bridal and just get some and have them dyed the color I wanted. Guess which color? Green. :) Thanks to Ann for running all over the place with me while I tried on one pair of ridiculously high shoes after another.
My dad and I had some quality time together too - which was great. He has kept a trunk of all of his childhood treasures - things he had as a child. He'd found a boat that had beached itself that was full of cork. So he and a friend dragged a bunch of cork home and made some smaller boats. They are pretty cool - we should try them out sometime. The trunk was full of other great stuff too - drawings he'd done as a child, scrap books, model airplanes, airplane trading cards, an old milk bottle, and a box of junior high school pictures of his classmates:Also a sign he'd had up in his dorm room:
He said he and his friends thought it was pretty funny - and you know what? I think it's pretty funny too because I can just imagine a bunch of 20-year-old cross-country runners thinking this kind of thing is funny. Hee-hee Daddy - you're pretty funny!

Then it was up to San Francisco for Rachael and Ben's wedding. Sorry - I didn't take my camera. :( I know - bad me. It's too bad, because it was a beautiful wedding! Outdoors, in front of a small pond, with Willow trees all around. And so much laughter - good laughter, happiness everywhere. They look so good together, so right and so happy. It's great to be at a wedding where you know this one is for keeps. Congrats again Ben and Rachael - I hope you have many long years of joy together!
And yes, the date. Yes, for those of you who don't know - I asked Rachael if she had a nice single friend who would want to be my date for the wedding. She set me up with her friend Dan. Who is very tall (6'6"!) and really nice. I had a great time talking with him - too bad he lives in Las Vegas. (sigh)

When I got home I found a package from Judy, Marsha and Linda - the ladies who visited me last fall. It contained these:
Aren't they sweet? Thanks Linda, Marsha and Judy! I love them.