Monday, April 27, 2020

Time To Bloom

We are discovering new blooming things in our yard every day.   I have no idea what most of them are, but I enjoy finding them.   We have two small bushes in bloom -- calling them bushes is an over-statement since each is really just a couple of sticks.   Berries of some kind, maybe?

We have a couple of forsythia bushes, which is a nice surprise.   They are pretty ordinary the rest of the year, but so pretty in the spring!

I found a single tulip bloom, and had earlier seen a single daffodil  -- since no one plants just one daffodil or one tulip, I am guessing the squirrels must have been responsible for the limited landscaping with bulbs.

We have several kinds of flowering ground cover.  Periwinkle, squill (I am told) and some very common but unknown variety.



And we have a flowering tree -- again, I have no idea what it is, but I am happy to see it!

The blooms are especially welcome this year because our back area is still extremely drab.  The woodland critters blend in nicely, and I find the view calming, but the colors certainly do nothing to lift the spirit!

My embroidery blocks continue to stack up.   I am enjoying the machine embroidery because it doesn't tax my sore arm the way that using the regular sewing machine does.   I have 21 of the larger blocks (6"x10") finished, and seven of the smaller (6"x6") blocks.  I have a few more house design patterns that I want to create.  Eventually I will need to lay them out and decide what to do with them -- at this point, I am still leaning toward a throw-sized quilt for each of my grands, and perhaps a table runner for us.    I am trying to embroider three blocks a day, with time off for good behavior, so it will be a week or more before I am ready to make any decisions.   I am glad to be getting some small bits of work done again!

I learned today that my physical therapy place has closed, gone out of business, another victim of Covid-19.  I feel bad that I wasn't able to support them and keep them afloat, but I am sure they are not the only local business that will not survive this time.   I am supposed to visit my surgeon next week and I am curious to hear whether they will want me to come at all.  I will wait a few days before I call them, but at this point I don't think the check up visit is worth the risk, however limited that risk is.

Our State Governor announced measures today to limit and monitor the reopening of some businesses during the pandemic, starting this week.   Her briefing was very detailed and explained the data they are using to watch for indications that we are moving too quickly or too slowly.   I was happy to hear it, because it is evident to the casual observer that too many people -- eager for what they claim is their "freedom" -- are already moving too quickly to gather again.  Jack drove by the ice cream store yesterday, thinking about getting a curbside pick up, and saw that the parking lot and porch were overflowing with people.   It seems unlikely that they were all from one household.   I, for one, would rather not die of this.   Since I believe it got out of hand in the first place partly because of bad government, and since I did not vote for that bad government,  I would resent paying the ultimate price for stupidity.

Meanwhile, I am happy at home, discovering the unexplored landscape of my own back yard.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Safe At Home

Jack and I continue to stay in, respecting the Michigan Governor’s recommendations to quarantine as the infection and death counts continue to climb as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.    We were invited to a FaceTime “concert” last night, to hear my Grands play a duet of “Circle of Life” that they intend to post to YouTube.   It was the first time I had seen them and my son and daughter in law in months, and was very emotional for me.   I loved hearing the music, but even more I just wanted to drink them in with my eyes.   

Except for the ache of not seeing and being able to hug and spend time with my family, our life here goes on pretty much as normal.  We are not eating out, and I view that as a positive change; I have always been happy to cook.   This week we enjoyed a particularly delicious navy bean soup with ham (made in the Instant Pot that my family bought us for Christmas a couple years ago), a multi-grain and seed loaf of bread, and sheet pan pancakes, among other things.  We will not have lost any weight when the quarantine is over!


I love these overnight, no knead, no work breads, especially since these days our local groceries often run out of the breads we regularly use.   This particular change in our eating habits might be permanent!

I have finally started to sew again, in addition to masks and scrub hats.   Mostly I am using the ridiculously expensive embroidery machine that Jack bought almost three years ago, shortly before his strokes, a Babylock Solaris.   I was in the market for a straight-stitching sewing machine, because of my interest in quilting.  I had never been interested in the least in machine embroidery, but he was much taken with the idea and he decided that I should be, too.   The machine was on order when he went to the hospital.  We had no plans to marry at that time, but he roused himself in the ICU to insist that I ask his daughter to pick the machine up from the dealer so that I could start using it right away.  He was afraid he might die without getting the machine from the dealer and he wanted me to have it.  I felt quite awkward about the idea that he was spending such a large amount of money (and energy) just for my use, so the machine sat for about six months in his basement while I nursed him back to health.  As he recovered, he pressed me to take it out of the box, and then I felt obligated to use it since it was so important to him, but I only used it at his house.  Of course now it is in our marital home so obviously a lot has changed since then.   I never did buy my own basic machine and now we don't have room for one! This week I am using the Solaris to make house squares, all embroidery designs from  the Australian company, Sweet Pea.    Since I knew nothing about machine embroidery, when I discovered Sweet Pea I stuck with them, and almost all of my work is done with their designs.   I am not sure what I will make in the end, but a "Stay Home Stay Safe" theme made sense to me, so for now I am just creating the squares.  This event will certainly have lasting power in the memories of my Grandchildren, so a blanket throw or table runner seems in order to commemorate it.

In an odd twist, it seems we are learning more about our neighbors in this  time of isolation than we knew when people were free to mingle.  People are posting their special events and asking passers by to honk their horns.  When we see such a sign nearby, Jack goes out and plays his bagpipes if the weather allows, whether they want him or not.  Today we learned that the young man across the street is named Kyle, and that he is turning 16.    He was kind of embarrassed at the pipe serenade, but his parents were thrilled!



Friday, April 10, 2020

Time Slips Away

Tomorrow is the 13 year anniversary of my blog.   The person I was when I started writing this blog on April 11, 2007, has slipped away from me, it seems so long ago, and so much has changed.   And now, in the midst of the Covid-19 quarantine, there is no reason to believe that things will ever be quite the same again.    I was concerned about the state of the world for my grandchildren when I first started writing, and I am even more concerned now.    Although I must say, my grandchildren are more likely to take it all in stride than I am; the resilience of youth.

Tomorrow is Easter Sunday.   Although my husband and I no longer celebrate religious holidays, Easter was a very big event in my childhood, and even in my young adult years.    During this quarantine, I have started writing letters to my grandchildren every Sunday, and since there is no real news to report, I find myself recalling things from my childhood in those letters, remembering, for instance, the white cotton gloves and Easter bonnets of my childhood.   My family has not mentioned my pen pal endeavors, so I don't know yet whether the kids are even reading them, but it has been an interesting form of journaling for me.   


The stream of consciousness involved in writing those letters reminded me that Easter used to be filled with traditions involving family and food, so I am planning to make a little more effort than usual this weekend for our own Sunday supper.    In that same "trying harder" tradition, I made cocktails last night for the first time.   Jack and I are not cocktail people,  or at least we have not been in the past. But we have both collected a variety of spirits over the years, kept in a basement closet.  


I found a 'classic' recipe for Bees Knees on line.  Since we had honey and lemon juice and gin on hand, that was my first effort.   I made one cocktail for us to share, which was plenty, but I enjoyed it enough that I will be on the lookout for other simple options.   In the course of searching for the gin, I also found a little raspberry vodka and Chambord in the cupboard, so that will be the foundation of Sunday's treat.   I will also make a loaf of bread and perhaps a cinnamon coffee cake as well.   

I am still making masks in a variety of patterns, depending on what materials I am able to find.  Today I am experimenting with strips of ACE bandage and cut up leggings for the ear pieces, although my husband thinks he found a source for elastic and has ordered me a supply.   More and more people are requesting them.   It pains my surgical arm to sew for any length of time, but I am trying to make several a day.   The masked photo below is of Jack's niece, Sarah, an ER nurse in Mississippi, wearing one of my masks.    I am also sending her the scrub hat that I am modeling below, with buttons sewn on the brim to save her ears from the elastic ear wraps on most of her masks.


Sarah says that wearing homemade personal protection items helps the nurses feel connected and supported by their families and communities, and that is very much worth my effort.    But making and gifting masks to friends and family feels much the same as making and gifting bags or quilts; people seem to take them for granted, somehow assuming that because sewing is a hobby, I am using my fabric and time and postage to send these to them for my personal pleasure.   So sometimes I need to walk away from all of it.    See how grumpy I am?   Isolation is making me too cranky to always trust my responses.  I am grateful that my immediate family always seems delighted to receive my handmade offerings, but they are more the exception than the rule.

Aside from making too many masks, a sad and troubling task, I made pen wrappers for the Grands to mail as an Easter gift, since I cannot shop for the types of things I would usually have bought.   I mailed them along with new pencils for Joseph and art pens for Renée.  They are not very practical, but I hope they like them a little.  Joseph's is designed with a dragon, his school mascot, and Renée's is covered in owls.  They machine embroidery, a Sweet Pea design, and are fun to do.

It is trying to be Spring here, although last night we had snow and hail and freezing temperatures.   



The trees are starting to bud, and my one daffodil made a brave attempt to bloom before doing a face plant onto a neighboring rock.   Some days I think I know exactly how the daffodil must feel.    I will try my best not to do the same.