Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Purge-Related Sadness

 I visited my mom, delivering vegetables from our CSA subscription.  She showed me around her lovely tomato garden, then asked me if I wanted to see what she's been throwing out of her basement.

One of her beloved sister died a couple of summers ago and we cleared out her house in fits and starts. She kept lots of papers, mementos, photographs, work IDs, hair of her husband.  Some delightful things. One a typewritten list of the cute, grammatically incorrect things my little brothers said  as tiny children.  The clear out was a huge project, painful, took weeks.  After that my mother started winnowing down her own possessions.

My mom put  brightly colored plastic drink coolers, as vintage, wind up clock from the 1970s into the recycling bin. I pulled them out to display on top of a lid, thinking someone would be attracted by the bright yellow and orange and rescue them.  She had a separate big cardboard box of metal objects.  I asked about the items. I pulled out a caddy for drinking glasses, a 2-part, aluminum, Santa baking mold, a jewelry caddy from the 1940s.  She said that she was sorry she showed me. I didn't want to upset her any more, so I stopped my treasure hunting.

Santa was similar to this.

Later after I left, I circled to take another detour through her alley and saw a landscape worker winding up the clock.  It was his time now.  His turn.  His treasures.

I continued past him homeward bound.


Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Life Map Told Through Clothes Through (My) Ages

I suppose until I add pictures this will be a list rather than a map of clothes that were favorites or somehow significant in my life.  For a writing class, I created a life map on a large piece of paper, dabbed it with blue watercolors, hand printed a brief description and a sketch within each panel.
The text is below.
One entry contains pure, white hot rage.
Significantly(?), entries end with my wedding dress worn 20 years ago!

- "Beach suit": cotton blue and white stripes, ruffled bloomers, sewn by my mother, favorite beach toy was a white Styrofoam ring with a red plastic horse's head

- Head band, felted wool flowers, szarotki (edelweiss), worn in kindergarden class picture

- School uniform, worn for 8 years in elementary school, "plain" uniform grades 1 to 6; with burgundy bolero grades 7 and 8, white blouse with Peter Pan collar underneath, uniform was a blue and gray plaid, navy blue beanie with long hairpin, white "pearl" button at end

-Fit and flair dresses, identical except for colorway: navy and white, lavender and white

- First Holy Communion dress: filmy white shift with veil, white stockings, white stockings with silver buckles, formal portrait with Rosary.

- Coral wool dress: tiny buttons run down the front

- My mom sewed me a dress of plaid, pink, floral fabric.  I asked her to shorten it twice.

-  Two-toned green velvet oxford shoes with a stacked heel.

- Pullover, short-sleeved sweater, folkloric pattern; most often paired with green turtleneck

- Blue pullover sweater with yellow flower, walked in neighborhood, saw sad pony in dusty front yard

- High school uniform: hunter green, bolero, 2 pleat skirt, pants for winter, knee socks; some girls rolled up skirt at waist to shorten, rolled down again in view of Sisters

- Wide-legged elephant pants: blue jean patchwork, flare and flair!

- Tiered sea foam green skirt, pieced, very soft and flowy

- 8th grade graduation dress: green print, overprint of violets, windowpane detail at collar bone, received huge bunch of peonies from Godmother

- High school graduation outfit: white spaghetti strap top, pencil skirt, cropped white jacket, 
more peonies

- College graduation dress: white coatdress with pinstripes and rather pronounced shoulder pads

- Zeena from Ethan Frome set store by her pickle dish, as a college freshman, I had few pretty clothes. I set store by a soft, pretty powder blue turtleneck and a wine-colored, ruffled, silk blouse.  My college roommate borrowed each without permission after I asked her not to.  She laughed when I saw her wearing my sweater. She expected me to be out of town. She also ruined silk blouse with armpit stains.  The crowning touch was when we moved out of the dorm room, she left behind a broken glass jar of honey dried on tight to the floor tiles under her bed. I cleaned it up to get our security deposit back.

- Big, black coat shaped like a bathrobe, dolman sleeves;
I think I eventually put it in the alley on top of a garbage can for someone to take;
still miss it

-Wedding dress: remade vintage silk satin, sailor collar and split sleeves; long train

Friday, April 14, 2017

Small News Item for Local Readers (if any?)

A small addiction to fine clothing was triggered at the Ark on Milwaukee Avenue in Wicker Park.
A local woman wandered in for a quick browse after buying greens, tofu, and snack bars at the supermarket across the street. She discovered that today (Friday) all clothes were half off and the red slashed $1 items were actually 2 for $1. She found many gray and steel blue clothes (so flattering to her myopic eyes and calming to the "high" coloring of her cheeks) in cashmere, linen, and silk, some skinny jeans for her skinny teenagers.  The single highest priced item was $9, a lovely ruffled, quilted light spring jacket. Serendipity intervened when her beloved husband called to say he was nearby and did she need a ride.  She accepted happily, pushing down a bit of trepidation at his anticipated reaction.  All was well after all.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Trees and Plants from Little Bits

Everything wants to live.  This includes the bits of stored energy in citrus and avocado seeds, cuttings of herbs, scraps of vegetables, rhizomes like ginger and turmeric.  Some of the strongest tomato plants are volunteers that overwintered in soil or a compost pile.

Short lists of plants I started from stem cuttings, roots appeared a week or two after soaking in a glass of water, After pots appear I planted up in soil, some edible, some decorative:
Thai basil, sprigs from restaurant
Mint lemon balm
Green basil
Green onions
Romaine and endive lettuces
Rose, one time cut flower started sprouting new leaves and stems
Natal palm, super pretty trailing plant (discarded clippings from husband's bonsai)
Purple wandering jew (found on sidewalk next to street planter), pictured below
Purple heart, pictured below

Plants started from leaves or stems, rooted directly in soil:
African violet
Willow branches, from dumpster dived weding arrangement, became trees over 6 feet tall
Sections of corn plant (tropical plant), pictured below

Image result for corn plant

Plants started by pushing fresh seed in a pot with soil:
Avocado, didn't bother with the suspended on toothpicks method
Orange and lemon pips (once gave a miniature citrus orchard to a coworker)

Plants that have mini me's:
Mother in law tongue/ snake plant

Plants with runners:
Lily of the valley
Wild ginger (pictured below)

Plants started by pushing parts under soil:
Sprouted garlic cloves in the fall
Sprouted onion bulbs
Turmeric rhizomes
Ginger rhizomes

Today was warm outside, so I potted up some of the above. With a little luck, we'll see some sprouts that will add beauty and life to our shady, concrete "patio." 

My back up plan includes ordering caladium corms http://happinessfarms.com/

to plant from the aptly named Happiness Farm in Florida. They always spring up in festive explosions of color.  I order the combination of the large leaved varieties.  My only regret is that I have not been able to overwinter them.  Even our furnace closet doesn't keep the corms from perishing.  Frugal and chilly, that's our winter. So I reorder and look forward to the beautiful burst of color over our long summer.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Lazy Woman's Load--Dumpster Diving Failure

I was on my way to pick my daughter up from school, when I noticed a selection of perfectly aged terracotta pots and saucers set out in an alley.  I've been wanting to repot my plants as work and to pot up some rooted cuttings, one found on the sidewalk, the other rescued from the trash by a coworker.
I got a strong plastic bag from my backpack for the saucers, nested several pots and put them in seemingly sturdy, doubled brown paper bag from a nearby recycling can.  My optimism, or should I say greed, did not pay off. Sadly, the bag busted at the handle and keep ripping more and more. I didn't have time to look for another bag, as I didn't want to be late for pick up.  I set it down along with the saucers in another spot.  I came back the next day and everything was gone. A more clever, better prepared scavenger will be enjoying a beautiful spring planting.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Trying Something New

For a while...did some tinkering with a new to me template.

Like like seeing a selection, but the flipping makes me a little dizzy.
I suppose I can change back if I remember how. What do you think reader?

Pansies are my mother's favorite flower.  She had a pair of earrings a long time ago that were pansies. She set them in a piece of tissue. Somehow it and they were accidentally thrown away. She remembers and regrets that loss some 50 years later. I buy her living pansies to plant out in the spring.

Last year I found a silver and abalone shell ring under our stove.  I didn't even know it was missing from my jewelry box.

I suspect that Wisteria had been trying it on and it found its way there or  ???
I was so happy that I wore it the next day.  I was out visiting a high school with Clement, going to a coffee shop, finding a mirror in an alley, getting newspaper from a box to wrap the mirror in.  So gloves off and on all day long.  I got home and shock!  It was gone from my finger.  I called the high school and coffee shop, nothing.  So sad that after a happy reunion, it was lost again, this time forever.

A few months later I was at the gym at work, when I saw a large, handmade, silver and turquoise ring on the floor next to a treadmill.  I picked it up and turned it into the security guard in the lobby. He asked for my name and I gave it.  And then nothing.  I wondered if the owner claimed it and if she was happy to get it back. It reminded me of my loss and my sadness and attachment to my own beautiful ring.  I wonder if someone found it and if it was giving her joy. I wonder if someone found my mother's earrings and found them as special as she did. What happens to things when they slip away from us?


Friday, March 10, 2017

Habit Replacement

I am trying to replace a bad habit of night time snacking while parked in front of a screen.  I nibble stuff I do not even like, when I am not even hungry.  Mindlessly eating away while watching a movie or reading favorite blogs.

 I have been taking up mending or hand sewing projects while on the sofa watching TV.  I know I can also do squats or sit ups if I'm feeling perkier.  That hasn't happened yet. Sometimes, I just want to see and absorb a film or documentary, rather than multitasking.  In that case, I brew a cup of herbal tea and cup it in my hands and sip.

 At the computer, it is difficult to be "busy" while one hand is clicking away. (Ushering away an unpleasant mental image flitting through.) Last night it occurred to me to bake bread.  I winged it.

 I sliced a thin patty of raw yeast, crumbled it into warm sugar water, incorporated as much flour--one cup at a time-- as would comfortably fit to make a nice dough. I took my bowl in front of the computer and kneaded away with my left hand, until the dough was elastic.  I let it rest in an oven that was slightly warm.  Our apartment is rather cool, so that helped. I was not expecting much, after my slapdash method of not using an exact recipe.  Thought if nothing else maybe I'd be baking a flat bread. I rubbed it with oil. It doubled up.  I punched it down and subdivided into smaller sections (so they would bake up faster, as it was getting late).  Kneaded each again, formed into rounds, let rise again, and baked.  Tap, tap, sounded hollow. Done.

Of course the little breads smelled very good. Of course I was hungry.  And of course, I mindfully enjoyed the smallest one with a bit of butter.