Thursday, August 6, 2020

Whoa

Have I mentioned it's been a mild winter? That was until July, when it turned normal-cold with annoyingly changeable weather. Quite a lot of rainy days, quite a lot of gusts, which means quite a lot of sunny days as well. And of course the rain-one-minute-sun-the-next days. Most annoying were heavy gray days when the sky just couldn't make up its mind so I'd run outside, in between chores, to see if I could... feel the weather. I was quite keen to weed if I could, otherwise loom or projects. I wasted a lot of time to indecision, but got a lot of chores. I swear, Nelson never used to have these sad, miserable, "Japanese" gray days, at least not this many. It's so dark inside I couldn't do art works or color matching even with the lights on.

I missed out in July, (you know I like it outside when it's cold;) I'm also mad at myself for doing something else or not much in May and June when we had better weather. Since the last week of July, though, it's turned warmer and I've been weeding. We are still the C Street Weed Reserve, but I feel more hopeful.

I talk about the weather a lot, don't I? It's a combination of being Japanese and my mom's kid, having grown up in Minnesota, and finally getting the hang of Nelson's weather around 2000 then facing changes like everywhere else since. And I just read we "remain on a La Nina watch."
Weaving: I last wove the teal-weft piece in the last post on the day after I posted the last post. :-D Warp ends started breaking that day and the tension got weird so I needed a break and... I haven't gone back. Soon! Above was the view on that last sitting; I have been thinking of multiples of wildly saturated wefts for the second piece. 
Knitting: I'm not sure if I reported back but I finished the orange cowl/snood by adding three rows of k-p-k-p, just so I can move onto the next project; I've been wearing it, though, on cold mornings/evenings, and it's nice so I think I'll keep it. The new project is an experimental scarf for Ben; I'm recording observations on FB and will collage in a separate post here.

The Sketchbook Project: Last week I decided I'll keep working on it but ignore the deadline. From memory, returning it late means mine misses the tour but will be available in their library, but because I don't even know if the tours are going ahead, I'll finish first and then decide whether I want to send it in or keep it. The main reason for the delay is I got stuck as to what to do beyond the design of the body. I'm also partial to a few layers these days.
This is the first three you see when you open up the book, unless I add more paper. The middle is white gesso. I've taken out all other shapes and concentrated on just the one, which I often think of as a self-portrait. In fact, I drew quickly folks rushing up and down Trafalgar St between 4.45 and 5.30PM one Friday afternoon years ago, so it's not me.
Left half of the center fold.
Right half of the center fold. The collaged piece is not glued yet because I'm not sure if I like it or if it belongs here.
The last three. I printed out a flipped outline so I can do random collage on the back and cut out the shape along the printed outline, but of course I glued the collage pieces on the wrong side. But I like the way the people are positioned inside this piece. And when bound between a cover, these are the last figures you'll see, so I might get away with it.
Another idea I may develop.


World: Hiroshima 75 years go today; Nagasaki, Sunday. I've had an unplanned deep dive into photographs of that part of Hiroshima-shi before the bomb so it's been a week of "remembering". Reuters reminded me of numbers I think I used to know as a kid plus some: 78,000 dead on the day, about 140,000 by the end of the year, in a city of 350,000. "By 2019 Japan had recognized the total of deaths from radiation illness and injuries in Hiroshima as 319,186 and in Nagasaki as 182,601." I told you about meeting a poet who was six years old that day: she went to a Hiroshima/medical archive in Tokyo in 1995 or 96 to discover people were not identified by name but by "Human:" followed by a number. When she finally located her family's record, it included her mother's three-month-old glaucoma op.

Not "Lest we forget," but "Let's not forget."

Now Beirut. Yikes.

Monday, July 6, 2020

Variagated Purple/Green Merino/Mohair Warp 3 + Sketchbook Project

There are times where sensible option isn't the most attractive. I tend to go for the sensible, because I'm a pragmatist, but today, I resleyed to 21EPI and started weaving the purple warp. The tension is very low for me, (it's hard to keep it even,) but the weft is packed, so theoretically the only change from the 21EPI sample is the tension, and so far no broken warp. This draft's repeat is 652 picks; I wove 400 and got 21.5cm, so roughly 3000 picks to go. That's going to take a few days. The selvedge is scalloped and all over the place, but I'm OK with it.
I wanted to weave with the darker dark purple weft but it was cloudy and dark downstairs so I started with teal. It's more vibrant and saturated than the pic, but you get the gist.
You saw this on Saturday. It's the felty, compacted, intense look and feel of 21EPI B-side I find so attractive, seen on the left. We'll see how I survive 3-ish pieces of 180cm-ish scarves; I might have a change of heart somewhere.

* * * * *

On June 30 I realized, heck, it's the end of June. I knew the Sketchbook Project was due sometime in August; turns out it has to be postmarked before August 15. I had vague but ambitious plans before Lockdown but I didn't make any progress. Besides, post being what it is I'm best posting it on August 1-ish.

So I went with an idea I've been kicking around in my head most recently; a concertina with a repeat of my Dude painted, collaged, drawn, etc, in different way. (Wouldn't it have made a fabulous Lockdown project?) For now I have room for 12 guys but I've cut/folded two more sheets so if time allows I can add 6 or 12 more. The book itself will look/feel better if I can add more so I must get cracking, but this is something I can do little at a time.
 
Sorry about the terrible light. The pencil marks are pretty pale, too.

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Variagated Purple/Green Merino/Mohair Warp 2

It took two days to weave the second sample, but here it is. It's a strange one, and I changed so many elements I'm not sure if these two can tell me how I'm going to proceed.

Warp sticks and break easily, so:
1) I rethreaded at 18EPI; the first was 21EPI.
2) I wove at a much lower tension than I'm used to. I usually weave under high tension, and during lockdown I was surprised to see a vid by a weaver weaving with wool at a visibly much lower tension than I could ever imagine, so I tried similar. For me it was very slow weaving, checking the tension very carefully all the time.

One or both of these changes seemed to have worked as I had no broken warp while weaving the second sample.  

Also,   
3) I experimented with, what's the word, softer/gappier beating. Again, I'm used to wefts going in tightly against the previous, so I tried a variety of spacey, netty and snug beating/placements. Spacey was so loose it didn't maintain position going over the breast beam; netty moved more than I feel comfortable. Snug worked well in leaving enough room for the merino to fluff up and didn't slow down the weaving too much. 
A-side or the side I see while I weave. 21EPI, higher tension and firmer beat on the left; 18EPI, various looser tensions and spaced beating on the right, but the red and orange parts are mostly "snug."
B-side. The loveliness of the warp colors show up nicely in the right sample, but I prefer the overall look of the left.
These colors are slightly darker, and the Darker Dark Purple was beaten very loosely, but you still get the point about it being so near the purple in the warp?
I like the puckered look of the floats and "bubbles" in the plain weave areas. 
This is a different part of the 18EPI sample, most firmly beaten. I like that the merino fulls to create a wavy look, and there is enough contrast in the long and short float areas, but I feel the visual impact is lost, not just because of the colors.

So my thoughts as of Saturday morning:
A) Quite a few weft colors work well, so, phew. I particularly like the navy blue and darker of the two dark purples which appears to be so very close to the purple in the warp.
B) The shiny warp yarn shows up much better in the cloth when woven at 18EPI, creating quite a different look from 21EPI, and works particularly well with one darker purple weft.
C) 18EPI yields a lacy and airy cloth while 21EPI feels more "integrated." It also feels slightly meatier. The texture of 18EPI cloth is ethereal/unreliable.
D) Last night, gut instinct told me the look and feel of 21EPI are more interesting and the cloth nicer. This morning I still feel the same, but will returning to 21EPI invite broken warp ends? I wonder what kind of cloth will be made woven in 21EPI under the new, lower (?) tension compared to the first sample.

There are, also, the small issue of uneven tension in the warp, and the loom computer doing sporadic and unwanted things. Again. I wonder if I should resley, and if so, would I need another sample? But first, Dr Ben is observing the computer today.

Notes: 18EPI sample washed up to 8.5inches/21m wide; 21EPI, 7.25inches/18.5cm.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Variagated Purple/Green Merino/Mohair Warp 1

I really enjoyed the color experiments with the previous warp and remembered I had a similar one on the ready-made warp rack. (I promise I'll post a pic of the warp colors in the next post.) It's half and half merino/mohair, approximately 2/16, and I used to use it in the warp at 18 or 20EPI when I wove with 2/16 (110/2) merino weft. I'm planning to use 2/30 merino in the weft, same as the previous three pieces, and I went back and forth between 21 and 24EPI, but decided to start with 21EPI to give the weft room to fluff up.

The draft is a variation of the 13-shaft wood grain draft I used some time ago, 13 shafts because I used three for twill borders. I wove the series in 2/20 mercerized cotton, the warp at 42EPI. Coincidentally I found a narrow black warp in 100% merino intended as borders for this, but the two yarns have different shrinkage, so I'll weave without it.

I also have very little of the warp yarn left; I counted 178 ends but I threaded only 176, saving two for potential broken warps. It's Merino/Mohair, and is sticky, so I foresee a few broken warp ends.
I probably wound much too much weft for sampling, not just different colors but a few in two colors or doubled up. The scarves will be only 7 or 8 inches wide, so probably around 180cm long, so I have plenty to play around. 

Sorry these next pics aren't exactly in focus; it's late and I had to take these under artificial light with as little of my hands, etc., in, but I wanted to show them to you tonight. 
This is A-side, (the side I look at while I weave,) with 2/30 merino doubled up in the weft. The size of the yarn feels balanced against the warp yarn, or perhaps more familiar, closer to 2/16 merino, and  the cloth is fluffy but not as much as the old 2/16 weft.

I also found long floats you see there on the right. I was very surprised because I edit fussy twills line by line to make sure there are no unseemly floats and there they were! Upon checking the draft I see I have nothing like that, so there must be a threading mistake. Hee hee, that explains the mysterious one extra end I had when I thought I was finished. :-D   
This is the same side with one 2/30 merino in the weft. I worried the design will look squashed with the thinner weft, but after a good wash I really like the different densities (?) of interlacements. With only half the wool in the weft, the cloth is thinner but not inferior.
The real surprise was the B-side. When I took it off the loom it had a very sad and sorry look with the warp ends barely visible, but after a good wash, it has a very different look to the A-side.  
It's even better here, and a look so different from anything I expected. 

Tomorrow I'll fist fix the threading mistake, of course. I'm also very tempted to try 18EPI to see how the texture differ, and if the design looks even more squashed and the draft needs editing. 

So... this was supposed to be a quick and easy project, but you know I thrive on these experiments.

More tomorrow or Friday, friends.

Friday, June 26, 2020

Thoughts on the Retirement Commission

Today, (and according to the forecast, for seven days starting yesterday,) we had such poor weather, not quite rain, (20 drops per day,) but sometimes gusts, bad for photo shoots. But the piece needs delivery on Monday, so here we go.
The long (5-7mm) floats take on a slightly curvy look reminiscent of the very long (silk?) floats on the back of Southeast Asian weaving. At first I didn't like it, but it's growing on me as something new/different.
Showing off the sheen and 3D-ness of the fulled weft. The color is fairly accurate.

This is the first piece, besides samples, I wove entirely with this 2/30 merino. Previously I've used it doubled in the warp for the elephants with cashmere wefts, and doubled (?) in the weft for two baby blankets with 50/50 merino/mohair for the warp. I love the sheen, the weight and the drape of the piece, and for something I wove, it's impressively parallel and perpendicular.

Mom was always nuts about woven pieces being light-weight, and she influenced me a lot when I started using cashmere. Early on I wove with 2/26 warp yarns at 12EPI. But I moved on to 15EPI for smaller pieces and 18EPI for wider ones, because I prefer the cloth to have some weight rather than imitate clouds and cotton candy. More pertinently, you need weight for drape. Also, Japanese taste and New Zealand taste are different; heftier, denser pieces are more successful here, even if I use coarser/scratchier yarns.

Until this 2/30, in the decade+ I didn't have a default merino, I aimed for an equivalent of 2/16 at 18 to 20 EPI with whatever merino I could get my hands on. For this warp, I used two ends of 2/30 at 24EPI, (two ends threaded together, so the true EPI being 48,) denser because the warp was first intended for a couch blanket. It created a wonderful drape, and so I kept it, but for scarves/shawls, I must also experiment with less dense EPI to take advantage of merino's fulling ability. Even though this is superwash, it fulls nicely.

I wrote a whole paragraph about how the sample feels airier and looks as though the yarn, especially the warp yarns, seemed to have fulled more, how I usually wash samples and what I did to this piece yesterday. But closer inspection, measurements and photographic evidence don't substantiate my claim. I shall revisit if I discover something, as I still have the pink and two-color ones to finish.

I am happy with the overall result, and I think it suits a retirement present. Being 62 myself, and realizing just this morning, because I don't work for an organization there will never be an official retirement party for me, (darned, that gold watch!) it was especially nice to get a good piece off the loom. I think Ben has tried to tell me, among other things, the technical superiority of this piece, (by which I mean, better than usual,) is visible even from a distance. And he likes the colors. And since both the retiree and client are his colleagues, he's allowed to bask in the vicarious glory.

Just kidding.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Possibly the Last of Plague Misc Thoughts

I hear today is winter solstice; not my favorite day not because the day is short, but it marks the halfway point of winter, my preferred season. Although it will often get colder and frostier from now some years, it still means evenings grow shorter and we head towards the warmer, sunnier season. We're also supposed to plan garlic today, but I haven't yet pulled out cornflower from the veg patch because they are still flowering!

* * * * * 
We've lived in this house for 23 and a half years, but the gates were closed just once for a few days when a bullmastiff roamed our street. It was an old, gentle dog, but always accompanied by a hyperactive boarder collie mommy and pup. One day a few summers ago, I was inspecting three cashmere pieces spread out on the floor and heard heavy breathing; when I looked up I saw the two border collies bouncing on the carpet followed by the big guy making sure nothing bad happened to them. I left the gates open after that because I learned they just jumped over if they wanted in, but the doors remained closed no matter how hot the day. And it was a particularly hot summer.

These gates were closed a second time for 49 days during Level 4 and 3 lockdown. 

* * * * * 
After 86 days at home, Ben went back to the office last Monday. This was taken on Saturday when we brought his equipment back to the office. This has been the longest we've been together 24/7, (except a couple of solo trips Ben made to the PO Box,) and a dress rehearsal for retirement. I'm pleased I didn't interrupt him as much as I thought I would.

* * * * *

On June 9 we started the second week of Level 1, meaning within our national boundaries our lives are back to normal. The best thing about Level 1 has been being out of Level 2, a most ambiguous stage where folks did whatever they liked. We opted to be on the cautious side, but every time we stepped out, we realized we were a small minority, but at times even I slipped up. In Level 1, we still do a few things:

* Keep record of where we've been, either electronic tracking app or by writing down;
* Wash our hands;
* Stay home if sick;
* Seek medical help if we develop flu-like symptoms;
* Self-isolate if instructed by medical professionals.

On June 16, after more than three weeks of no new/active cases, as we started the second week of Level 1, two Kiwis returning from UK tested positive. We were always ready to have folks returning from overseas test positive, but the great trans-island escapade of these two on "compassionate leave", two others "going missing" after a day pass to a funeral, and oh-so-much other sloppiness of  border control and lack of testing became apparent.

As of today, we have seven active cases, all related to returning Kiwis, including, worryingly, one baby. "Compassionate leave" has been suspended; Jacinda swiftly put a retired military man overseeing returnees' isolation; and the ministry is now doing testing they said they had been doing. We may get more cases with increased/proper scrutiny; I hope no clusters emerge from asymptomatic returnees having been released and being out and about.

* * * * *

At the start of the lockdown, I connected with different people in different ways; I even imagined I might develop new friendships. But as we progressed in our respective stages of lockdown, we seemed to have felt more comfortable in the new normal and less in need to connect; replies became delayed/scarce, and I also owe two friends emails still. It appears gradually we've all gone back to our old/normal-time friends.

* * * * *

Sometime between Level 3 and Level 2, I felt my adrenaline drain out. I don't know if the lack of clarity of rules caused it, or if I got used to unpredictability as norm, but it was definitely a physical experience. I had never felt anything like that before.

* * * * *

We went into town last weekend, and it was kind of disappointing how quickly we forgot about our rules and precautions; we brought our purchases into the house straight away, and didn't even think of washing our clothes and jumping into the shower before coming upstairs to our living quarters. I have to make myself wash my hands the correct way every night just so I don't forget how.

People around town appeared likewise. Thomas at Volume lamented we smiled more at strangers during lockdown,just to stop and yield to maintain physical distance. Nobody does that any more. People appear so busy. It's as though, for many, the lockdown didn't happen, or they prefer not to be reminded of it.

I myself haven't made new discoveries, gained new insights, formed new habit nor included/began something new in life. That was a little disappointing at first, but it being me, something might materialize later.

If I must come up with something, I may be spending less time feeling guilty about what I should be doing and just do them, or not do them. It's as if I've deleted an unproductive layer in my thinking. The agapanthus removal, for e.g., has been going on forever because I've been working on it so sporadically, but I'm pretty sure it will get done before spring. I feel similarly about a lot of my projects and have been able to get on with whatever I am doing on the day. I'm not sure if I'm getting more, or less, done, but it's so uncomplicated, and I hope this is a real change.

* * * * *

I'm really into Indian cooking à la Little India, a popular New Zealand restaurant chain, at the moment. I've carried their cookbook around the house, read a couple of recipes, trying to learn their use of spices. I enjoy taking half a day to cook dinner, and because I've been following recipes, I'm getting better results. I'm also baking sourdough bread again, after we were ever so disappointed by a rye loaf from a fancy bakery. I make just one loaf a week, but I'm concentrating on rye, Ben's fav, and spelt, mine. Bread has always been difficult for me, though, and we've been getting varied results. But seriously, we should ease up on carbohydrate, especially after our consumption jumped up during lockdown. That's harder now it's colder and neither of us feel much like big salads for dinner, but we've been conscientiously making kumura mash and riced cauliflower, and Ben's been keeping a steady supply of coleslaw.
Last year my jaw dropped when I saw three tuis on a miniature Kowhai outside my stash room. Yesterday we had four, with more calling high above. Many appear smaller than usual, but we can't tell their sizes accurately because when it's cold or windy they fluff up to about three times the size. One tiny one likes to travel and snack solo, and stay well away from others feuding. At least two larger ones like to pick on a (particular?) small one not only while snacking but all over the sky. We had such good shows and some good pics, but Ben decided this morning he had enough of them and needed to do other stuff. :-D

I feel strangely grounded being preoccupied by these birds. I just wished the garden was in a better shape, but I'm pretty sure it, too, will be prettied up a little before spring.

Friday, June 19, 2020

Oh, My, We Have Progress

I finished weaving the commission Wednesday night. I had the feeling there wasn't enough warp left for another proper, longish piece, but I was sure I could get a short scarf or a cowl/snood. I wanted to weave with the yellow-green weft I had in mind earlier, but after I got started, I decided to mix it with a brick-orange weft, which also looked interesting in the sample.
Here you can see how the yellow-green interacts with the warp colors.
I finished the warp tonight. Although just off the loom and unfinished/unwashed, all three have a lovely weight and hand, and I know they will finish airy and soft. So far so good.

As you can see, because the purple hue is close to the warp colors, the warp stripes are more visible, while the pink and yellow-green/brick-orange blends (?) all the colors.
While weaving the purple commission piece, I was reminded of a time when New Zealand was mad about paua (abalone) colors and motifs a while back. I had a small amount of the purple-variegated merino-mohair put away, with which I had made a warp for a small scarf. I'm weaving this next and continue experimenting with color combinations.

For a while now I've been trying to change the looks of my pieces, from fussy twills to something more bold and "interesting", contemporary. I'm still interested, but it's on hold for now because I'm enjoying experimenting with colors interaction. Also, for now, I'd rather be busy weaving instead of (over)thinking and not weaving.

I'm not sure what sort of pattern I'm weaving with this warp, but most likely another fussy twill, perhaps asymmetrical this time.

Notes: 2/30 merino, 48EPI, threaded in pairs; 17.7 inches wide on the loom; pink and purple are 220-230cm long; yellow-green/brick-orange  is 130cm. 

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Retirement Gift

We interrupt our somewhat regular irregular sporadic ?? broadcast for an emergency commission.

At 6.30AM yesterday a former colleague of mine, (currently Ben's,) emailed an inquiry about a purple shawl for a retirement present due the end of the month. Oh, yes, said I; I could get started immediately. All I had to do was to take out four yellow-green picks of plain weave and replace the floating selvedge. And modify the draft.
The purple weft color is too similar to the warp colors the design disappears, so I gave the draft long floats.
For the yellow-green weft, I was thinking of something like this with lots of interlacement.
This is close to the draft I used for the pink piece; floats and interlacement is between the above two.
Ben also knows the giftee, too. He said this would suit her. Goodie.

Monday, June 8, 2020

Days of a Plague Day 33+16+22, June 4 - Day 33+16+26, June 8

Day 33+16+22, June 4. (Text and pic on Day 33+16+23.) My most favorite plant for the last couple of decades has been hellebores, although I have a dozen close-seconds. I have two deep purple-gray singles, the color usually called "slate", with which I'm completely smitten. My original source in Southland has more some years, none some years, but quit offering the smaller pots I used to buy. I can't dig holes big enough to fit the large pot plants where I know they will thrive. (And be with other slates, just outside my kitchen window.)

So over the years, I've collected self-seeded babies, transplanted them in good positions or pots, pollinated and sowed seeds, as well as bought seeds from Europe and Japan, all to varying degrees of "dismal". It's partly because hellebores take so long to germinate/flower, hybridization by pollination is unstable, but also because slates yield so few seeds, self-seeders don't survive, and I wondered if they are bred to be sterile.

Like many seeds, these are best sowed immediately or as soon as harvesting, which I did, undeterred by past failures, in spring; kept them in the shade, watered them all summer. I haven't read they need the cold to germinate, but what did I see this morning? They suddenly popped up, and this year they're doing better than their reliable pink sisters.

All morning I wanted to keep chomping at the agapanthi, (I'm sticking to my new word here,) because the sun was out at the start, but it got darker, and it started to rain as forecast, and by evening we were startled by multiple instances of loud noise as if someone was dragging a huge American metal dumpster up the hill. Until we realized it was thunder! We couldn't see any lightening, but found out folks were enjoying gazillions to the southeast, the very direction we can't see over the hill just behind our house. By the time we finished dinner, the sound had subsided. Gosh, darn.
Day 33+16+23, June 5. Here's a view perhaps only weavers appreciate; I'm looking up from underneath the cloth, where my legs are when I weave. We're looking at what I've already woven, though perhaps you got that.

Today I wove another hour and a half, one half repeat, 704 picks, 65cm. With this project that's about all my eyes can take in one sitting. But because I'm not in a rush to get more done, maybe it will be well-woven. The selvedge looks OK. But then most of my pieces look OK at this stage, so we'll find out when the piece is washed.

We had glorious sun today and I really wanted to keep butchering the agapanthi. I went outside after lunch to walk around in the sun, but the ground was not only squishy wet but Ben thought it'd be slippery, and although I'm not working on the steepest part, it's still a tricky slope where I have to contort myself to accomplish what I hope to do, so I wove instead.

New Zealand had our 14th day of no new and one remaining active cases. Even Jacinda's prime ministerial visit pics don't adhere to prescribed physical distancing. Some of us are cautiously optimistic; some of us have lived in "what-physical-distancing?" mode for a while.

Minneapolis had Mr George Floyd's memorial. There have been lots more details coming out, about Mr Floyd and the four policemen, confirming nothing is as simple as I'd like the world to be. People in the media say this time it will be different; I can't be so optimistic. Also true, I never imagined Minneapolis to become a microcosm of the current America. There is the Plague still kicking and screaming in the US, not to mention the "usual" but accelerated disregard for law and tradition by those in charge. Friends, do be careful; do not be afraid to nag your loved ones to be vigilant. If that fails, you yourself be careful.

* * * * *

From time to time I'm unable to take good pics or write a summary of the day for my Plague diary, and worked on it the next day. For the first time this week I didn't post two days running, and I wondered if I was un/sub-consciously sabotaging. I hope not because shooting pics today was particularly fun. I've had sleeping problems and my days have been are muddled. Perhaps I was just cranky. So, seeing as it's extremely likely we'll move to Level 1 sometime next week or the Monday following, for somewhat of a symmetry, I'll keep going until then. Unless I change my mind.
Day 33+16+24, June 6. A huge-for-Nelson Asian food store opened about a year ago. We go periodically to stock up on few staples. From the writing on the packages, we think a Korean family owns it, but it also carries plenty of Chinese and Japanese products. At the check out are few treats, among them this hard candy in an impossible-to-open tin. Apparently two companies by the same name had similar products, and I've seen 1908 and 1913 cited as the start of these.

Dad had one of these tins in his bag or desk drawer from time to time. Dad did not have sweet teeth, but he was a heavy smoker who had to talk a lot for work, a teacher, so when his throat got dry, he'd get a tin at train station kiosks. And whenever we found them he gave us one.

We resisted picking this up for a year but today we treated ourselves. They still taste the same - nothing extraordinary, just sweet, hard candies in different colors but the same taste - but the tin looks oh-so-much smaller.

Ben just told me there was a small BLM gathering today in Nelson. Had we known, we would have gone, but instead we contributed to the local garden center, Asian food store, and supermarket economy. The only discernible social distancing were floor markings and sanitizers in stores. Though we carried gloves and masks in our pockets, even I forgot we had them. And though we left home prepared for military-style food acquisition, we simplified our process: we washed all veg and transferred protein to our own containers, but we didn't wipe packaging, but just left them in the basement to rest for a couple of days.

The comment sections in NZ media's coverage on BLM are divided, vicious and ugly in some instances. Needless to say, I'm a little scared showing up in public places taking a stand because I can't run fast any more. If just wearing a mask entering a store can solicit horrible reactions in little old ladies, (last week, not today,) I'm not sure how I'd react facing vitriol in a gathering, although, also true, these gatherings in Nelson always take place peacefully. But we would have gone had we known.

[EDIT] Ben says different colors most definitely taste differently based on scientific experiments.
 
Day 33+16+25, June 7. Today I wanted to weed and weave. Undecided, I dithered in the kitchen in my weeding gear, and ended up weaving. The funny thing about weaving is, some days my brain goes into overdrive while weaving, and I can't stop it from coming up with gazillion ideas. Some days it's future weaving ideas, other days it's a story idea, and yet others, it's endless To Do List items to add and edit. Today was weaving ideas.

Some days I have to stop weaving and write them down. Today I ignored them but my brain kept working on three projects at once, doing the math and making up drafts, ignoring me and the weaving in front of me.

I also noticed, perhaps for the first time, this happens when I listen to familiar music. Which explains why I haven't experienced this for a while. I've been listening to podcasts and audiobooks, (two birds one stones, I thought,) so I'm too busy trying to understand what I was listening to. I don't know which is better; an overactive brain can get super annoying. But for now I'll stick to music.

I almost set for another warp in this yarn combination and sett, good idea for the narrow gold cotton warp, and some options for the wider gold cotton warp. All variation on a theme, so similar to each other, but different enough. I'm happy for now.

Day 33+16+26, June 8. Today I got out of bed resolved to tackle the agapanthi, but wanted to find out the time for Jacinda's announcement. I cleaned the kitchen, finished one opera, roasted beetroot, but couldn't find the info. At 1.30PM, I read my nemesis will have an announcement at 3PM, but it did not mention Jacinda, so I assumed she's on at 4PM, her somewhat usual time when Cabinet meetings are involved. That would have left me only a couple of hours to work outside if I wanted to get out of the shower by 4, so I wove.
Usually I try to shoot my weaving when I'm finished for the day, in late afternoon or evening, under artificial light. When I got off the bench to stretch, mid-afternoon, I saw a good angle to show off the warp colors and simultaneous contrast with the weft in natural light. I finished this piece, and got the next one set up, but I want to alter the draft/pattern, and it was 3.45, so I thought it perfect time to resurface and watch Jacinda with Ben.
Next piece will have a light yellow green weft seen here at the edge. On it's own, it's a somewhat shouty color, but the interaction with the weft colors are sublime. 

But, gosh, darn, Jacinda spoke at 3PM, with my nemesis! So As I type I'm trying to listen to a recording. If you'd like to watch the start of her delightful announcement, I attach a link. But don't bother with the media questions; they are usually repetitive and uninformative, and I think I finally heard Jacinda says, "Ugh."(Skip to 16.50.) At the end, she thanked us.

Jacinda Level 1 Announcement

After 17 days of no new case, New Zealand has no more active case and as of midnight tonight, we are moving to Level 1. As far as Ben and I are concerned, this means life back to normal within NZ. Borders remain (conditionally?) closed and flights scarce, but otherwise this is the end of Plague, (although there may still be new cases popping up.) Ben will resume working at school next Monday. He had put in a request for Wednesday off and we have to rebuild his work setup on the weekend.

75 days on, I'm also concluding this Plague diary*. Thank you for sticking by me. I wish the rest of the world speedy normalization and light heart soon.

*I have two posts I've been writing alongside the diary. I'll decide what to do with them in the next few days.

Friday, June 5, 2020

Days of a Plague Day 33+16+15, May 28 - Day 33+16+21, June 3

Day 33+16+15, May 28. First flowers on the miniature kowhai, the tree from which I collected seed pods to give away. I was supposed to prune this some time ago; it has to wait now.
Next in line.
Crab apples this year is the size of normal apples, possibly due to unscheduled pruning in late spring.

The quadrant I'm supposed to be finishing, Northwest, is diagonally opposite of this area. Although you can only see a smidgen of our garden from the house, the this patch is viewable, and I've been dying to move on to here, but the somewhat-OCD side of me dictates not to leave unfinished patches before I move on. 

Yesterday's outing was so stressful I was completely useless after we came home in early afternoon. Before we went to bed I declared to Ben, today I would weed come hell or high water. But I couldn't sleep and was exhausted in the morning so I made curry. I thought I would then weed, or weave, but instead, I read little bit of a manga-version of The Tales of Ise. So not my thing. So I went outside and swept the drive way because rain is forecast and I don't want the leaves to clog the storm water drain.

If it does rain tomorrow, I'll weave. If it doesn't, I'll go finish that patch.
Day 33+16+16, May 29. Today I wove on the big loom for about an hour and a half, and started making a white mercerized cotton warp I've had in mind for a few months. I want to make wide scarves with unmercerized blue cotton wefts in square-ish pattern, a kind of abstract Dutch tile motif.

I'm going to add more text here tomorrow.

(Day 33+16+17) I went to Washburn, from 1974 to 1977, a high school 11 long blocks south and 16 short blocks west of 38th and Chicago, where Mr George Floyd was murdered. The 16-year-old, 10-year-convent-school-veteran Me was not oblivious to race relations in the affluent, educated South Minneapolis. I had read about school desegregation and busing for several months before I left, and the late 60s political upheaval adjacent to Viet Nam War affected my family directly. But once installed, I felt more a sense of relief after Nixon resigned, (four days after I arrived,) and thought busing was a done deal, as I watched groups of classmates get off and on them every day. (I'm not sure if they were bused as a result of desegregation, however; I seem to recall kids who lived beyond a certain miles away from school had bus service.)

There were few mixed couples dating, and groups/cliques tended to be divided most evidently by racial lines, but also by neighborhoods/socioeconomic groups. Foreign students were deemed honorary white for the most part, refugees from Laos and Viet Nam unclear; a few traversed across divides freely.

So I was sincerely taken aback, in 76 or 77, in Mr Ario's senior Social Studies class, to hear one star student, (tall/handsome, popular, football, Homecoming, Student Council or Senior Class-something, if I remember correctly,) tell of a talk he had with his father, on how to interact with police officers, because chances were, he was going to be stopped for no apparent reason, many times. At first I thought the police would be insane to stop him of all people, but also ashamed to discover deep down I knew this to be true, and glad his father had the talk.

For most of my youth, I never doubted I would grow up to live in Minneapolis. I was besotted by the beautiful city and its institutions. And appreciated even though it is geographically in the Midwest, how liberal it was, especially in receiving Southeast Asian refugees in the 70s and gay teachers in the 80s. Nearly decade after I graduated, I was sad to read Mr Ario tell me he was almost relieved I was no longer there because race relations had deteriorated. I thought it would be temporary, because, after all, it's Minneapolis. I read its changes over the years, then tried not to keep up too closely, lest I'd be completely disenchanted.

I have been reading true, earnest testimonies of African American and others, and declarations by people in public positions. Maybe there will be something this time, even if the outcome in the past have been nearly universal inept. I hate to think all these promises are devoid of good intentions. But how do I shake off this overwhelming skepticism? How can Mr. Floyd be the catalyst?

I forget. I can't cite the names I rattled off as Ferguson burned. I can't connect the circumstances, cities and decades to the names. I had to look up the name of Mr. Philando Castile because all I could remember was the calm voice of his girlfriend. He was shot 2.5km north of my college. That was in St. Paul, in a different galaxy.

What must I do now?
Day 33+16+17, May 30. Today I tried to remember about when I was in high school. I looked at maps, and watched Minneapolis burn until live coverage ended, while Ben roasted coffee and made cheesecake.
Day 33+16+18, May 31. This is one color combo candidate for the Dutch tile-themed series. The blue is 1/30 brushed cotton single, so the weft will be two or three plied together. I have also two paler blues.

Today, outside looked cold and wet so we didn't weed. It turned out it wasn't as miserable as I imagined, though, because later in the afternoon we heard tuis and went outside trying to locate them, found we could shoot (pics of) them from my stash room from a distance of about 70cm, made too much noise in spite of our best efforts and lost them, then found them on top of a tall banksia but we/they were never in the right position to get a good shot. Then we found a skinny sparrow-sized pair with bright red spots in the head, (these guys visit a small rosemary bush every fortnight,) and Ben tried capturing them but an oregano bush got in his way. I need to finally plant that rosemary; it's still in a pot and sat on a path for three or four years and is now firmly rooted in situ. We had fun looking for the birds, though, and outside was cool and lovely. We will definitely try tomorrow.

Besides, Minneapolis didn't look so bad Saturday night their time, at least nowhere near Friday night. After something like 36 or 48 hours, (minus when I slept,) watching Lake Street, Nicolett, and 35W, I almost forgot we've still got a Plague.
Day 33+16+19, June 1. Last night I told Ben I'd garden today. I slept five hours, otherwise I read about and watched Minneapolis having a better night than the one before. The morning started slowly, I watched Minneapolis, again.

I saw peaceful protests, heard names of streets one or two blocks away from where I lived for a term, seconds away from Dinkeytown. Then I watched a huge truck try to ram right into a crowd, And then watched it replayed again and again and again.

We could have gardened, or I would have woven and worked on a warp. Or I might have sat in the kitchen watching more replays. Ben was easy either way. So we went outside, and finished clearing the northwest corner, put in eight pineapple sage, and pruned the apples. One apple tree needs more taken away, and I might put in more pineapple sage. It's right in front of Kathryn's garage, somewhere we can't see from our house, but still our patch.

Kathryn drove by, we went to see her finished living room, (lovely deep grey carpet - oh, so my color, but we can't have it because we have a darker house,) I gave her succulents and peace lilies, she had friends come over, we went back to task. The three ladies came out to tell me the friends are taking all the plants, so Katheryn took the rest of the succulents and peace lilies. Successful adoption. And I have future homes for two large pots of tiny peace lilies. What a relief.

I had four hours away from Minneapolis, and now I'm back. It's after midnight there so I'm watching reruns of reruns. I recognize names but not buildings and landmarks. I really have come so far away from that beautiful place, in distance and in time.

Tomorrow I can start hacking away the agapanthi (?), start working on the more familiar southeastern quadrant we can kind of see from the house, or weave.
 
 
Day 33+16+20, June 2. I don't know much about succulents and this is only the second I bought late last century; the first was a jade plant/money tree when I was 16. We got this for a particularly difficult patch and the original plant never looked great and is now all but gone, but it kept producing babies. This past summer we counted a dozen. Today, though, I noticed for the first time how it splits.

There is usually a yellow green rosette-shaped center and the older/outer "petals" (leaves?) turn purple, shrivel up and fall off, while the green center keep producing more from the middle. I didn't know how the stem split into multiple branches, but today I saw baby rosettes growing on the side/back of the original ones, so I assume the stem will split from these points as the babies grow bigger and taller.

I'm not sure what to do when these grow taller, though, because the stems are skinny and not hard but.. succulent, and can't support the weight of multiple large rosettes, which is when either the stems break or we cut off the new growth. The tiny babies are cute, but I'd also like to take better care of the parental unit, if there is a way.

Jacinda said the Cabinet will meet next Monday to discuss the possibility of moving to Level 1; we might go to that level later next week. I didn't pay attention so at some point, next Monday? I'll have to learn about Level 1.
Day 33+16+21, June 3. (Text and pic on Day 33+16+23.) Broad beans in bags/buckets. Even though we had rather dismal results from zucchini, spuds and cherry tomatoes in bags/buckets this summer, I'm hopeful these babies will be kinder. Or, what was that saying about doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results?

Every muscle of my upper body is burning this evening after working on the not-as-steep part of the more or less same quadrant, and actually having great fun.

There is more talk Level 1 will commence sometime next week; we understand it to mean everything back to normal except the borders.